Tag Archives: humor

Things to eat in Brussels, Belgium…

News reaches me in London from far-off Europe that, if you are ever hungry in Brussels, there are multiple options…

The official Brussels travel website has one suggestion… and that option is available in a variety of outlets…

1 Comment

Filed under Humor, Humour, Travel

MEUNF watches ‘Christmas’ TV movies

My eternally-un-named friend has a secret addiction

In the run-up to Christmas, my eternally un-named friend has been endlessly watching ‘Christmas movies’.

Not the big-budget Hollywood ones.

The low-budget, no-star, never-meant-for-cinema ones.

The TV-fodder that ends up on seasonal ‘Christmas movie’ channels and only screens for a few weeks in the lead-up to Christmas.

She has been doing this for a few years. 

I decided I had to have a talk with my eternally un-named friend about her worrying addiction…


JOHN: Why did you first decide on this downward path?

MEUNF: It was a few years ago when I started watching them – on Channel 5. It does rot your brain cells slowly, though.

JOHN: What’s the appeal if you don’t admire them?

MEUNF: I watch them for… well, no, sometimes it’s really, really irritating and you wish you handn’t bothered – like eating something you really didn’t want to eat. 

JOHN: You were telling me there is a point in every Christmas movie where the woman wears red…

MEUNF: Or green. It’s usually a coat, but it’s often a jumper.

JOHN: So they don’t start off wearing red clothing but there comes a point in the movie when they start wearing a red dress or a coat or jumper?

MEUNF: A coat. It’s usually a coat. A red coat or a green coat. Because it’s a Christmas movie.

JOHN: So there’s an emotional change and it suddenly bursts into…

MEUNF: No, no. No emotional change. A woman goes to a town and she’s supposed to only be there for the afternoon and she is wearing a grey coat but – Oh dear! Something’s gone wrong! – They’re snowed-in sometimes or a train isn’t running. So she has to stay overnight. 

Next thing you know, she’s in another colour coat the next day which is green. Then the next day it’s another colour coat which is red. So she has three coats with her when she had gone away expecting to stay for only one day.

JOHN: The first coat is always grey?

MEUNF: Yeah.

JOHN: These are American movies.

MEUNF: Yeah.

JOHN: This chat came about because we accidentally stumbled on three Christmas movies and you were able to tell me what would happen in the plot development of each movie.

MEUNF: Well, there was the one on a train this afternoon. That was a much more complicated story than usual. It actually had a plot. 

JOHN: There was a plot twist at the end.

MUUNF: Yes. The whole thing had been set up by the director for his secretary.

JOHN: What age are the women in these movies?

MEUNF: In their twenties. Mostly twenty-something going on for thirty-odd.

JOHN: But the one we saw this afternoon, in the train, unusually…

MEUNF: …had an older man, yes.

JOHN: And he unusually had a relationship with an age-appropriate woman.

A generality of Christmas movies NOT mentioned in this piece. Please do not sue me…

MEUNF: Sometimes someone has a child or they become a widow or widower and that’s fortunate for the next door neighbour who happens to come along and ‘help out’ at some point.

JOHN: Have you ever watched any of these Christmas TV movies that had a sad ending?

MEUNF: (PAUSE) No… Well… (THINKS) Erm erm… Erm… No.

JOHN: They’re all American. So they have to have happy endings. Does anything awful even happen in the middle? In a British movie, at least something appallingly awful would happen in the middle.

MEUNF: Oh! There was one that WAS a British version of a Christmas movie. It was set in Britain and was a bit ‘reality’, so you had different family set-ups. Someone had their stepson not come along and one of the children was going to be ‘sectioned’ – sent into a mental home. But it ended up very boring. It didn’t work. It tried too hard. it included all the aggros of Christmas.

JOHN: Isn’t that good? Because it showed real emotions?

MEUNF: There was something wrong about it, though. It was too… too… There WAS a moment where you thought Well, maybe this will be good… 

…and then it wasn’t.

JOHN: Did it have any humour in? Because American Christmas movies made to fill TV slots don’t seem to have any real humour in them.

MEUNF: (LAUGHS) Well, it amuses ME when they’re cocking it all up and seem to have forgotten that someone was related to someone else. Either the editing has failed to pull it together or they’ve forgotten what the storyline was.

JOHN: Have you seen any of these movies that actually worked?

MEUNF: Well, there were a couple that were quite good – but, then, I have seen a lot! There were days when I’ve sat through two in a row. Over the last couple of weeks this year, I’ve seen at least fourteen. 

JOHN: Only fourteen?

MEUNF: (LAUGHS) At least. I’ve been watching Dress to Impress in between… 

JOHN: Because?

MEUNF: Because they’re shorter! And funnier.

(The pitch for Dress to Impress is: “Three fashion savvy competitors take part in a shopping showdown to win a blind date with a style conscious singleton.”)

JOHN: What made the two ‘good’ Christmas movies you saw ‘good’?

MEUNF: You cared about the main characters. It does matter. If the guy is reasonable-looking and the girl is… 

JOHN: …is…?

MEUNF: The trouble with actresses is that sometimes their personality is a wee bit errghh. You don’t warm to them and then you don’t care about what happens.

You want to like the main female character because you want to identify. When you don’t really like her, you sort-of think: Oh, poor guy!

JOHN: When you say you don’t really like an actress, you don’t mean you DISlike her, but she’s a bit bland?

MEUNF: No, you do slightly dislike her, actually, because her personality is a bit caustic, a bit harsh.

JOHN: This doesn’t sound like my idea of an American schmaltzy movie.

MEUNF: When you think: Oh they’re REALLY spoilt! Or They’re REALLY expecting drivel. And it IS drivel.

JOHN: And they all live in big houses…

MEUNF: Yeah and everything is just too, too much… But if you care about the female character because she’s got a pleasant persona…  if she’s a trier, someone who makes an effort to do things rather than someone who’s just passive and expecting good things to happen…

But sometimes it’s actually the actual female actor who, you think, you wouldn’t really like in real life. You know what it’s like? I mean, you’re beginning to warm to Keanu Reeves…

I’m beginning to warm a bit to Keanu…

JOHN: Erm… yes… 

MEUNF: Can we stop talking for a bit so I can find something interesting on television?

JOHN: Tell me how you can watch bland films when…

MEUNF: …It’s when you’re doing something else and you don’t want to concentrate too much on what the storyline is.

After watching a few, you usually know what’s been going on when you’ve left the room. You don’t need to think about it. It’s just something going on that’s totally unimportant.

You don’t have to concentrate. It’s obvious what’s going on and you just know what’s going to happen – usually from the very beginning!

It’s like paint-by-numbers or one of those things where you just add water and the colours appear. Simple. No effort.

But if you go to a movie in the cinema and see some of the films you… the John Wick movies… You think: Who’s that? What happened there? Why did that happen?

JOHN: Now you are talking movie-movies, though.

Maybe the John Wick movies are like wild Christmas TV movies. Best not to think too deeply about the details. The plots are on another planet. No hint of any known reality. I just sit back, ignore the plot and let the visuals flow over me. It’s like bathing in ultra-violent ballet.

Well, on second thoughts, maybe they’re NOT like Christmas TV movies…

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Kitsch, Movies

Mad inventor John Ward, a very stupid copper and the search for hidden guns

A week ago, I posted a blog was about mad inventor and Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards designer John Ward’s interest in guns. 

(John Ward would like it pointed out he is not actually mad, but I cling to it as an attractive clickbait adjective.)

In last week’s blog, John W mentioned he used to keep guns and ammunition in his home. He had an FAC (a Fire Arms Certificate) and occasionally a policeman would come round to check the guns were being securely locked-up. 

But there is more to this story, as John Ward explains here:


As part of the renewal process for an FAC, you had a visit from a member of the local police force, our own local ‘beat constable’, who checked the security boxes – one for the weapons and one for the ammunition.

In over twenty plus years in my case, the system worked well and each time I passed the requirements with ‘flying colours’ and no untoward comments.

Then it was decided that the local Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) should undertake this task.

However our CPO left a lot to be desired.

A police inspector friend whispered in my ear that, if you were a clueless copper and capable of just about screwing anything up, you were ‘promoted’ to the rank of CPO to keep you out the way – You just did basic stuff like going round and telling shopkeepers how to lock their front doors etc.

It seems our CPO was a bumbling idiot but not far off his pension so, out of kindness, he had been ‘promoted’ to end his days in this most prestigious position for, as my inspector chum pointed out, “There is no way he would ever get up to the rank sergeant – no way….no way…”

Anyway, PC Bumbling rang our doorbell one teatime. I answered it to find him on the doorstep, with his clipboard.

I asked him if he had got a bus ticket inspector’s job – like Blakey, the character in ITV’s sitcom On The Buses.

I could tell he was not amused.

He told me he had come to check my security as my FAC was soon coming up for renewal.

I pointed out that the normal, recognised procedure was a phone call first to arrange an appointment to visit.

I also pointed out that I was just going to sit down to have my din-dins that the lady of the house had cooked, so he could lick the end of his pencil and put a date down agreeable to us both to come back to do his visit.

He hummed. He aahed. And then the call came: “Dinner on the table!”

So I shut the door on him.

He did come back on a designated, agreed date and, being the complete prat he was, then asked me for my name and address and asked had it changed since my last FAC was issued.

Bearing in mind he knew my name and that he was standing in the very address as printed on the said FAC, I asked him: “What do you think?”

Next was: “Where do you keep these listed firearms? They must be in a prescribed steel box… blah..blah” and so on.

I replied that they were in a box but well hidden.

He asked where and I opened the door to our under stairs.

I told him: “In there, in the steel box.”

He looked inside, shone a torch and said he could not see anything that looked like a steel box.

I said: “Just think… If you were a burglar and looked in and thought the same, you would look elsewhere… Yes?”

I pointed out that the steel box was hidden behind a large box of Lego toy bricks that the kids played with.

I said there had been no reported cases, as far as I was aware, of anybody locally housebreaking and stealing boxes of kids’ Lego bricks but he could correct me on that.

He didn’t… I pulled the ‘decoy’ box away.

He asked me to unlock the steel box so he could see my weapons, to check their serial numbers.

He then asked what the thickness of the steel box was as he – looking at his crib sheet – said it must be 10-gauge (a metal thickness measurement) to which I said it was 6-gauge.

His eyes lit up and he said: “This is illegal!!!!! – It’s got to be 10-gauge!’

I then explained to him that the gauging of metal is on a sliding scale; the higher the number, the thinner the metal. So my 6-gauge was thicker – much like a CPO – than actually required by law… Plus others before him were more than happy about it.

I pointed out that, by having the 6-gauge, it would take a ne’er-do-well longer to break into… plus it was screwed to the floor AND bolted to the wall as well.

“Where is the ammunition?”

“Upstairs in the attic, away away from the weapons.”

He followed me upstairs and the first thing he said was: “Aha! – There’s no lock on the attic door!”

To which I explained as best I could that, until I told him there was ammunition up there, in a steel box, safely hidden from view… putting a lock on the said attic door would infer that there was something in there of value.

The previous three inspections, with different personnel doing them, had all thought it a brilliant idea.

He then went for Gold: “Some burglars would straight away go to look in the attic (!?)”

I explained that the only way I could get up there myself was by using a ladder that I kept in the shed outside the house… Maybe there were ten foot tall housebreakers I was not aware of. But, unless he had a list of approved burglars that carried their own ladder with them on their ‘jobs’, I was less than convinced.

I said, short of having a flashing neon sign over the front door saying GUNS AND AMMO KEPT HERE to take the guesswork out of the situation, did he have any bright ideas – excluding the flashing sign that is – to add to the ‘security’ I already had?

Answer there came not.

He cleared off.

I got my FAC renewed.

I brought the matter up a while later with my inspector chum. He replied with a sigh: “He is a twat. It’s a safe bet there are trees in forests still standing that are not as thick as him.”

I agreed with him… not wishing to cause trouble you understand…


NOTE TO BURGLARS AND POLICEMEN: John Ward no longer keeps guns or ammunition in his house, loft or shed.

A John Ward designed toilet accessory with gun, silencer and loo roll

Leave a comment

Filed under Eccentrics, guns, Humor, Humour, Police

Mad inventor John Ward discovers the many perils of having a famous face

I received this recent anecdote from John Ward, designer of the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards.


It was a much normal day as such – weather atrocious outside – so I made myself busy indoors.

The doorbell rang.

I went to find a courier there holding a parcel.

On seeing me at my door, he asked for my address.

Then he asked for my name but he spoke in broken English as it was not his native tongue.

He looked at the parcel, then at me, then at his handheld wotever with an LCD screen. He checked to see if the details tallied and handed the parcel over to me.

It was  my ‘dead cat’ microphone for my Sony camcorder to use alongside in lieu of the maker’s own mic when conditions are not too clever when filming outside etc.

I thanked him and closed the door and went back inside.

Before I had a chance to open the box up to see if it really was the item as ordered, the doorbell rang again.

It was the same courier.

He said he was sorry to disturb me and then said: “I know who you am!” in an excited tone.

Now armed with a big, beaming grin, he asked for my autograph.

Ever happy to oblige, I picked up a yellow coloured plain display card, A4 size, that was lying about and did the doodle/cartoon I normally do and signed it with: ‘Best wishes to Pieter’.

He seemed overjoyed, shook my arm out of  its socket near enough and off he went.

A moment or two later, the doorbell rang yet again.

It was Pieter.

He stood there, pointing at the card: “Who dis?” he asked

“Me,” I said.

“No, no I want your real name!” he replied.

“That is my real name,” I told him. “I had this arrangement with my mother and father soon after I was born, so can’t really say too much about it with regard to my input on the matter as I was not consulted about it at the time.”

“Who dissa John Ward?”

“It’s me, the same as on the parcel you just delivered to me… John Ward.”

He looked slightly bewildered. He was not alone on that one. 

“Is it you stage name thing you do when not doing you real work?”

“No, my stage name is Wells Fargo but I never really use it much, unless I am travelling overland.”

“I want you real name – Christopher Biggins!”

Christopher Biggins (not John Ward)

“I am not him.”

“Why you not him?”

“I never said I was him.” 

I could see he was even more confused as he slowly looked me over and said: “I now go.” 

Off he went.

Back I went to my parcel and, as I was finally unwrapping it, yet another ding-dong on the doorbell.

Yes, once again, I beheld Pieter standing there with a lady who I assumed was in the lorry cab with him.

“I want excusing as this is Sandra, my vera good friend.”

He wanted her to meet me, whoever I was or might be. 

By this point, I was feeling quite unsure myself to be honest.

Ken Morley (Pic: Allstar/GlobePhotos Inc)

They looked at me, then at each other, then they mumbled to each other – I was not included at this point – and Sandra then spoke in perfect English:

“He is not Christopher Biggins!”

On hearing that, I was most relieved. But that was short-lived. 

“It is,” she added, “that Ken Morley bloke who used to be in Coronation Street on the telly… But I thought he was dead!”

I said I had things to do as they turned and left to wander back to the lorry.

But, just as I shut the door, I heard Sandra suggest: “He could be that Brian Blessed bloke, though… He’s got the ears for him I think….”


Below: the irrepressible Brian Blessed and the inimitable John Ward as himself (almost)

Leave a comment

Filed under Celebrity, Eccentrics, Fame, Humor, Humour

BBC investigative reporting at its best…

Yesterday, mad inventor John Ward, who designed and makes the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards for the annual Edinburgh Fringe, sent me this email:


The other week in my Ward’s World column in the local Spalding Guardian newspaper, I made reference to ‘Our Annie’ a shopkeeper whom my mum knew. Annie would not sell ‘straight’ bananas as they had to be curved – Nothing else would do for her loyal customers.

I mentioned in the column that I once made a ‘Banana Gauge’ – basically a piece of wood with one side curved and the other straight. There was no photo in the column but here is one of my original ‘invention’.

I had forgotten about this particular newspaper column when the phone rang this morning and a young lady spoke.

“Is that Mr Ward? – the inventor John Ward?”

She worked for the BBC and, while researching assorted sources for possible news or items of interest, she had come across the said Ward’s World column.

Our conversation went roughly thus:

Q: Was the gauge digital? 

A: Nope, it was made mainly from wood. The hole was made with a drill

Q: Did it come from sustainable forest supplies?

A: Not a clue as it was a wood off-cut

Q: Where does the Off Cut tree grow? In what country?

A: Not really sure but, as far as I know, Sir David Attenborough has not mentioned it as being in danger, otherwise a film crew would have been dispatched by now.

Q: On the environmental issue, do you think it could be in danger of becoming extinct soon, though?

A: Not sure, to be honest.

Q: So what made you, as a highly regarded (she said it, not me) inventor, decide to build this gauge?

A: I had the wood from the Off Cut tree to hand… Plus a curved banana to use as a model to get the curve right.  

Q: I see… So did the straight side prove to be a challenge or what did you use to get that right?

A: I used the edge of a door which, to be honest, I had to open first. Then I held the gauge up to the edge and drew a pencil line downwards to get the angle right.

Q: I see…umm.. I assume this did not happen the first time, so how many prototypes did you construct before standing back to say: “This is the one. This is THE gauge” – Did you have your very own personal eureka moment?

A: I only had the one stab at it to be honest.

Q: So you knew straight away that this was THE one?! – That’s really remarkable, if I may say.

A: You may, you may. But it was really due to the fact it was the only bit from the Off Cut tree I had at the time… plus the local DIY store had shut by then so I could not do another as I had no material to use.

Q: I find your ‘low key’ approach to inventing quite incredible. You see the need, then you use your skills, you devise it in your mind. You don’t do any drawings or blueprint things?

A: You have hit the nail on the head, as we say in the business.

Q: Has there been any interest from any commercial concerns about marketing this device so far?

A: It depends largely on if the bananas are home-grown or imported.

Q: Really.

A: Oh yes…

She said she would get back to me “in due course”, as she feels “there is something here” that shows the British bulldog spirit thing is very much alive in these current traumatic times.

John Ward: designer, inventor, manufacturer and bendy banana enthusiast

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Eccentrics, Humor, Humour, Journalism

A surreal book about a duck army written by a non-existent author

“Mankind has gone. There is now a fierce Duck Army that is determined to take over the world…”

That’s the pitch for a new children’s book Tag Tinsel – A Mission Most Fowl by a non-existent author, Ryan Hasler-Stott.

In fact, Ryan Hasler-Stott is two people – comedy person and Teletubbies insert director John Ryan and Darren Hasler-Stott, of whom more below.

So I talked to them…

John Ryan (left) with Darren Hasler-Stott


ME: Why did you write a children’s book? Because it’s commercial?

JOHN RYAN: No, because we’re both big kids.

ME (TO JOHN RYAN): I talked to you for a blog in July 2021 and you were just about to publish A Mission Most Fowl back then. That was over a year ago.

JOHN RYAN: I think we got a bit distracted. We built an extension. Covid Lockdown happened. My work went. Darren’s work went. He’s an electrician. I wanted to get a new bathroom. Darren is the go-to guy with ideas.

ME: You wanted an electric bathroom?

JOHN RYAN: We got carried away. It started with the bathroom and spiralled. Before we knew it, we were driving diggers round the back garden, digging holes.

ME: Hold on! He’s an electrician; you wanted a bathroom. Electricity and water… Not compatible.

JOHN RYAN: Electricity and water both involve currents.

ME: You have a point.

JOHN RYAN: We wanted to publish a book and build an extension. What I’m saying is we’re not limited by imagination. 

ME: This doesn’t explain the year-long gap in publishing the book.

JOHN RYAN: Darren likes to do things properly. 

Book published with more details HERE

ME: It was just going to be called A Mission Most Fowl. Why is it now called Tag Tinsel: A Mission Most Fowl? What does that even mean?

DARREN: The main character used to have a label attached to him – a tag. Tinsel was the name they gave him. You just put the two together.

ME: The two of you met on a writing course in 1999. Why did you need a writing course? It’s just going to teach you bad rules. There are no rules. 

DARREN: I think it taught us everything we did NOT want to be or do really.

ME: It taught you what you did not want to write?

JOHN RYAN: There were a lot of people there who wrote traditional stories. Boy meets girl; boy loves girl; there’s a misunderstanding; it all comes right in the end. Whereas Darren’s story…

DARREN: I did a short story. Basically about a guy on the run who’s being pursued by a bloke who’s dressed as a magician. A bloke who’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia for hearing voices. But basically he’s house-bound and the neighbour had a dog and, to keep the dog from getting bored, he played the radio all day – talk radio. So he’s driven mad by talk radio in isolation. 

ME: But again: Why did you need a writing course? 

JOHN RYAN: I was working for the Council and I wanted to write and someone said: “No-one’s gonna buy your writing if you work for the Council.” He said: “If you do stand-up comedy, you get to perform on TV. I didn’t want to do stand-up comedy; I just wanted to write for kids. So, literally for my birthday, I signed up to a Writing For Kids course, 

I couldn’t attend the first week because my daughter was going to be born any day. So what did they have next? They had a Creative Writing course. So I did that and met Darren. He supported me getting into stand-up. He came to all my early gigs. He’s got a great sense of humour.

ME: Whose is it?

JOHN RYAN: Terry Pratchett. Very much.

ME: So what’s your own sense of humour?

JOHN RYAN: More Billy Connolly.

ME: So Ryan’s a fantasist and you are an anecdotalist?

JOHN RYAN: Well, I have an observational eye. So, consequently, the Mission Most Fowl story then evolved from a traditional Good v Evil set-up and, along the way, Darren’s kind of Pratchettesque brain came up with ideas that my brain doesn’t even consider. There are a lot of weapons made from unusual objects.

Organic weaponry, exploding fruit… and ducks

DARREN: Organic weaponry. Exploding fruit, an organic supercomputer called MAD – Mission Accessory Device – a MAD computer. 

ME: You and Darren met 22 years ago and it’s taken you this long to decide you wanted to write together? 

JOHN RYAN: Well, no, over the years, when I’ve had ideas for stand-up, I’d run the ideas past him. So we spent a lot of time building an extension, laughing and going: “Here’s an idea!” 

ME: And the plot is…?

JOHN RYAN: Basically, there is a mighty duck army who want to take over the planet. The humans have left Earth. And the only thing between them and all the technology that Man left behind is our team of superheroes who live in a cave. So, to draw them out the cave, the ducks do outrageous things. The team will come out of the cave. And then the ducks will capture them get the technology and all will be well.

But it never quite works out like that. 

ME: They “do outrageous things”?

JOHN RYAN: Yes. So they set up incidents around the forest. They’ve got two brothers who love to dig holes. So they dig holes and set traps. But they can never remember where the holes are. Yeah, they love to dig holes. It’s what they do best. 

ME: When people write books, they’re usually based on their own lives or minds.

JOHN RYAN: I do get worried for him sometimes.

DARREN: (LAUGHS LOUDLY)

JOHN RYAN: We see this very much as a kind of Harry Potter for the 21st century.

ME: …with ducks… 

JOHN RYAN: With ducks, yeah. And, along the way, other animals… There are badgers. 

DARREN: The premise of the story is that The Darkness arrives and changes the world. The Darkness arrives. Humanity goes: “That’s it. We’ve had enough. We’re off.” So they leave the planet and the planet then returns to its default position. 

ME: Its default position?

DARREN: All the continents around the world come back together so you have one big super continent…

ME: Named…?

JOHN RYAN: Pangaea. Some animals perish in The Darkness and others go underground. Once The Darkness clears, the ducks – because there’s more of them than anything else – are gonna be in charge…

ME: You could get sued by The Darkness music group for defamation.

DARREN: We could.

JOHN RYAN: …but, prior to The Darkness, the animals were genetically engineered to work in the military by the humans. So, when the humans went, the animals that had been genetically modified bred and formed their own little cultures.

ME: CIA dolphins with bombs on their backs I can understand. How were the ducks used militarily?

JOHN RYAN: The ducks were a byproduct of it all because some birds were released that had been trained – interbred with other birds – to perform different tasks. So for example, you’d have birds that were hunters or security.

In our superhero team the cat is a psychic cat and she is an empath. The dog is a guard dog but he can breathe underwater so he patrols the rivers. The Aqua Dogs patrol the rivers. The battle chickens were bred for fighting.

ME: And the ducks…

JOHN RYAN: I’ve always had a slight fear of ducks.

ME: Because…?

“They’ve got faces.” – “Frenchmen have got faces.”

JOHN RYAN: They’ve got faces, ain’t they? 

ME: Frenchmen have got faces.

JOHN RYAN: Yeah, but they don’t live near me. You know when you used to go feed the ducks? I never liked ’em come too close to me. Never trusted ‘em. Also sexually they’re very violent. 

ME: Have you had personal experience of this?

JOHN RYAN: I have been to Fairlop Waters. And I’ve seen duck orgies.

ME: There are definitely no CIA dolphins with mines on their backs in the book?

JOHN RYAN: No.They might be in a further book. We have to get past the Yetis first. There’s a whole world of animals that…

ME: Yetis?

DARREN: That’s another book…

ME: Not Yetis…

DARREN: Each book will be a mission that the team go on. A series of missions.

ME: There’s movie potential here. Casting?

JOHN RYAN: Dawn French as a duck. There’s a bee and we see Ardal O’Hanlon playing that part.

ME: Is there a serious point too any of this? Are you sneaking philosophy into a children’s book?

JOHN RYAN: Yes. Heroes may change, but being heroic stays the same…

(… CONTINUED HERE …)

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Children, Humor, Humour, Surreal

President Obonjo on the Pleasance’s dangerous Edinburgh Fringe decision

Benjamin Bankole Bello, who performs comedy as President Obonjo, is rather concerned by the Pleasance venue’s banning of comedian Jerry Sadowitz’s show at the Edinburgh Fringe…


For well over 11 years I have performed as self-exiled dictator, President Obonjo, living in the UK – bombastic, loud and terrorising the audience – a great conduit for jokes.

The press statement from the Pleasance included this:

“In a  changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged”. 

This has more implications for Character Comedy than Straight Stand Up. There is a difference and I have always believed that, when performing Character Comedy, you can get away with anything you say on stage… and I mean absolutely anything.

Displaying the characteristics of a dictator on stage has been warmly received over the years, The audience automatically assume he is a tribute act of the late Field Marshall Idi Amin. 

They know what to expect once they attend the show. They could end up with their heads in a fridge. They are expecting to be shot for comedy effect

The audience “could end up with their heads in a fridge…”

President Obonjo will never get his knob out to the audience, do racist, sexist or homophobic material. But audiences who come to see him know what to expect.

Dictators use intimidation, terror and the suppression of fundamental civil liberties.

He is likely to bring a gun out and threaten to use it, grab a woman and ‘marry’ her in front of an audience. He may threaten to waterboard an audience if they don’t laugh.  

Audiences have continued to accept this brand of comedy.

This statement from the Pleasance opens a can of worms for character comedy.

Saying something in character that is not in alignment with the organisation’s views could get your show cancelled.

Would President Obonjo survive performing at the Pleasance, if given the opportunity to do so, using the above characteristics? 

In fact, he did perform at the Pleasance as part of a compilation show AAA produced by Bound and Gagged in August 2019.  

The act has taken a new direction since 2019. What he says now is different from what he said in 2019. 

One of the President’s confidants recently said: “I think you need to go darker with your audience. They are  expecting it. You should do it and go darker.”  

I think the West is now so confused about Freedom of Speech, it is clearly exhausted with democracy.

President Obonjo (ironically) is the man to defend freedom of speech.

1 Comment

Filed under Censorship, Comedy, Humor, Humour, political correctness

Jerry Sadowitz, “freedom of speech” and The Pleasance paving the Road to Hell…

(WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS AT LEAST ONE OFFENSIVE WORD; DON’T READ FURTHER IF IT IS GOING TO SCARE YOU)

Jerry Sadowitz’s 1987 album Gobshite

The aftershock of The Pleasance venue cancelling the second of Jerry Sadowitz’s two comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe rumbles on.

Yesterday’s blog was a transcript of what I said in an interview with LBC Radio yesterday morning.

As a reminder, the venue’s jaw-dropping Doublethink ‘explanation’ for cancelling Sadowitz’s show was:

“The Pleasance is a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians’ material… the material presented at his (Jerry Sadowitz’s) first show is not acceptable… This type of material has no place on the festival and the Pleasance will not be presenting his second and final show.”

After criticism, the venue has now issued a second carefully-worded (I emphasise carefully-worded) statement including the frankly chilling: 

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged.”

I have italicised “whether performed in character or not”.

As people who have actually seen Jerry Sadowitz shows over the last 30 years know (as opposed to those who have not seen the act) his confrontational delivery sets out to affront. It is clear he is being offensive as an act, for an effect.

He used to open his shows with: “Nelson Mandela – What a cunt!” presumably just to set the tone while the esteemed Mr Mandela was alive.

The Pleasance knew that Jerry Sadowitz’s act was – and would be – confrontational and intentionally offensive. Always has been. Indeed, it was advertised by Jerry and by The Pleasance as such. And they have staged his shows before. 

The Pleasance stages theatrical performances as well as comedy.

To repeat with additional italicisation:

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged.”

This means – and, yes, it can only logically mean – that character comedy such as Al Murray’s comic creation The Pub Landlord and Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge character should not be allowed to express their ‘unacceptable’ stories and views.

Both on-stage/screen characters often express views which are not the performer’s. Jerry Sadowitz’s on-stage performances – though more extreme – also include views which are equally and clearly not his own. 

First they came for the words and I said nothing; then they came for the stories and I said nothing; then they came for the thoughts and I could say nothing. 

“…stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged…” 

Vast swathes of British drama would presumably be deemed unacceptable because to express offensiveness would itself be unacceptable, even if the offensiveness expressed was by a character. That’s the end of parody, satire and irony, then. Context becomes irrelevant.

A drama – or indeed a comedy – about Hitler would not and should not be allowed to include the character of Hitler expressing any racist views. So Hitler’s thoughts and beliefs could not be shown to be vile because the thoughts and the expression of those thoughts would be in themselves too offensive to utter.

Last night on GBNews, Andrew Doyle’s Free Speech Nation, with comics Leo Kearse and Josh Howie, discussed The Pleasance’s first steps on the Road to Hell.

Andrew Doyle is a former writer for the comedic Jonathan Pie character.

Someone I know tells me they won’t watch this clip because they won’t watch (their words) “right wing” GBNews.

For those who won’t watch the nationally-transmitted GBNews, at one point Andrew Doyle, who is gay, says: 

“There’s always something in a Jerry Sadowitz show that makes you think: That’s too far! He couldn’t possibly have just said that!

“And that’s the point. That’s the context.

“I remember sitting there watching him do this TEN MINUTE rant about the evils of homosexuals and the disgusting things that they get up to behind closed doors and it was hilarious and (in theory) so offensive to people like me.

“He’s also incredibly anti-Semitic. He’s Jewish!

“That should give you a clue about what he’s doing there…”

Later, Doyle says:

“I heard, by the way, that the complaints mostly came from members of staff at the venue.”

I have no way of knowing if that’s true but, according to the BBC, The Pleasance said that “unacceptable abuse” was later directed towards some staff on Saturday from people phoning to criticise the cancellation.

Some members of the public complained about the show, so it was cancelled…

Some members of the public complained about the show being cancelled, so did The Pleasance bow to their individual views? No.

Presumably The Pleasance places more importance on the opinions of their temporary staff on the night and after the night than on the reportedly 600 punters who chose to pay to attend and see the show, which had up-front warnings from both The Pleasance and Sadowitz about it being offensive.

Incidentally, the show was titled: Not For Anyone

Yesterday, Jerry Sadowitz put a video online promoting his upcoming comedy tour…

…and he also Tweeted, via @RealJSadowitz, a comment on The Pleasance’s actions.

“The Pleasance is a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians’ material… the material presented at his first show is not acceptable…”

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged.”

First they came for the words and I said nothing; then they came for the thoughts and I could say nothing.

The road to Hell is paved with right-on thoughts…

Next step: the book burnings.

(…THERE IS AN ADDENDUM TO THIS BLOG HERE…)

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, political correctness

What I told LBC Radio about Jerry Sadowitz’s Fringe show being cancelled

Andrew Castle on LBC

I was interviewed by Andrew Castle on his LBC radio show this morning.

It followed the Pleasance venue at the Edinburgh Fringe cancelling Jerry Sadowitz’s comedy show.

On the same day that Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the US for writing something which some people found offensive, Anthony Alderson of the Pleasance (normally a logical man) issued a statement saying surreally:

“The Pleasance is a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians’ material… the material presented at his (Jerry Sadowitz’s) first show is not acceptable… This type of material has no place on the festival and the Pleasance will not be presenting his second and final show.”

The Pleasance had no inkling that Jerry Sadowitz might be offensive…

My reaction on air was:


Well, I think he should do a comedy show based on that. shouldn’t he?

The story is that Jerry was offensive. I mean, Jerry has been doing offensive material for 30 years – 40 years? – and the Pleasance have been going for about 30 years. The Pleasance and Jerry have been going for about the same amount of time.

He is famous for being offensive. That’s why you book him in. That’s why the Pleasance booked him in, presumably – that he would be offensive. That’s his schtick. 

So, if he’s NOT offensive, people will complain. But now, because some people complained about him being offensive – despite the fact he was clearly flagged as being offensive – the Pleasance appears to be committing professional suicide.

Interestingly, they say it’s the material. Apparently he showed his willy to the front row. But they didn’t find that offensive; they found the MATERIAL offensive. 

The whole point about Jerry Sadowitz is “He’s offensive!” That’s it.

It’s a sort of doublethink from Nineteen Eighty-Four.

“We support comedy”… Well, clearly not.

Most comedy really has to be offensive in some way – or it has to be surprising. The whole point is a ‘punchline’ at the end. And a punchline is something you don’t expect, coming out of nowhere.

One of the best ways to come out of nowhere with a punchline is to do something that’s ‘offensive’. Frankie Boyle does it all the time. Bernard Manning used to do it to mainstream audiences. Bernard Manning is a great example.

I saw Bernard Manning at his own club twice and he had four-letter words all over the first half and then he stopped. They weren’t in the second half. 

I thought: This is strange. Then I realised, in fact, he was being offensive to his very mainstream, middle-of-the-road audience in the first half but, having established that he was offensive, he didn’t have to do it any more. (They came to be offended.)

If you go to a Sadowitz show, you want to be offended.

There are no rules in comedy, really. People say you can’t make rape jokes. You can’t make jokes about rape. Generally, that’s true. But I have seen very funny rape jokes – But they’re not really about rape, they’re about…

I mean, Janey Godley, the Glaswegian comedian, had problems recently: being Cancelled. She put on Jerry Sadowitz’s first stand-up show in her pub. She did a show in Edinburgh – and wrote her autobiography about – being raped when she was a child, I think from about 5 to about 12.

And people laughed in the Edinburgh show. They didn’t laugh AT it. (They laughed WITH it.) She made the jokes against the rapist and she made the audience laugh despite the fact it was an ‘unacceptable’ subject.

You can make a joke about an unacceptable subject if you do it in the right way.

You have to be a very good comedian, as Sadowitz – and Janey – are.


MORE HERE

…and, coincidentally, Jerry Sadowitz also cropped up in a blog of mine in March this year

Leave a comment

Filed under Bad taste, Comedy, political correctness

Brian Damage and Krysstal, Malcolm Hardee reborn plus balls and bagpipes…

(Photo via pxhere.com)

Some stories which I do not mention in this blog are often even more interesting than what appears, but not quite long enough to blog about. And some are just plain unrepeatable.

Last week, I spent Tuesday evening in the company of the infamous Flying Haidrani Twins, purveyors of the best gossip and most scandalous international tales in Greater London. Sadly my lips are sealed on the details, but I hope their cracking stories will surface in some future novel or magazine article by one or both of them.

The night before that, I went to Chesham Cricket Club which, somewhat unexpectedly, is in the same place as Chesham Football Club. This confused several revellers.

I was there because comedy act Brian Damage & Krysstal were hosting a farewell event. They are moving to Australia.

Brian Damage and Krysstal – any old excuse for a party…

Well, it turned out they are not actually moving to Australia until September but – hey! – any excuse for a party.

For almost the whole of this century, they hosted the Pear Shaped comedy club, which they wrongly billed as the second worst comedy club in London.

At some point during the evening, with cricket continuing in the background, four comics were discussing heckler anecdotes and Brian recalled one female comic’s response to an annoying heckler: she took a fish out of her clothing and threw it at the heckler, catching him in the face.

After that, Brian & Krysstal implemented a ‘no fish’ policy at the gigs they hosted.

Apparently the fish was not part of the planned act; it just happened to be in the comic’s clothing.

Cricket ground selfie by Pam Ford with (L-R) Stephen Carlin & Andrew O’Neill

Andrew O’Neill, one of the veritable plethora of comedy industry people who got up on stage to pay tribute to Brian & Krysstal said:

“I started in 2002 and I never met Malcolm Hardee and there are all these stories about him, but I feel like we’ve got our own Malcolm Hardee now, but there’s two of them in Brian & Krysstal.

“I can’t remember the first time I went to Pear Shaped; they sort-of morphed into one incredible adventure. But that absolute fucking madness… held together by what I genuinely believe is one of the funniest comedy acts I’ve ever seen.”

The evidently not incomparable Malcolm Hardee was renowned for having the biggest bollocks in British showbiz.

Patsy Kensit as a baby with (L-R) her father James, her mother Margaret and her family godfather Reginald…

But in fact, he told me, he only had the SECOND biggest bollocks in British showbiz.

He had once come second in a table-top contest with Patsy Kensit‘s father ‘Jimmy the Dip’ who, allegedly, used to book acts for, I was told, the British Army. 

Two nights before Brian & Krysstal’s cricket-based farewell, I had bumped into Malcolm Hardee’s chum Martin Soan at a wake for Dave ‘Bagpipes’ Brooks, an early occasional member of Martin and Malcolm’s Greatest Show on Legs comedy group.

Dave Brooks died two years ago but Covid had delayed the get-together.

So it goes.

Dave Brooks with offensive bagpipes

In 1981, Dave was part of The Human Scottish Sword Dance with the Greatest Show on Legs on the TV show Game For a Laugh in which they performed a ‘human sword dance’ in Highland costume, with presenter Matthew Kelly lying on the ground instead of swords, looking up while The Greatest Show on Legs members danced over him. 

Martin Soan mentioned something I had never realised before: that, in keeping with Scottish tradition, the Greatest Show on Legs wore nothing under their kilts on this (and no doubt other) occasions. 

Alas, YouTube have seen fit to remove the relevant clip. 

Dave’s son Charlie Brooks reminded me that one of Dave’s many claims to fame was a court fight with the Corporation of London over his playing bagpipes on Hampstead Heath. I mentioned it in a 2020 blog.

In 1996, the Corporation prosecuted Dave at Hampstead Magistrates’ Court under an 1890 by-law for “playing a musical instrument (his bagpipes) on Hampstead Heath on three separate counts”. This was despite the fact that Dave had been playing his pipes on the Heath for an hour every morning for 15 years without any complaint from anyone.

History seemed to come to Dave’s rescue. 

One of the weapons of war used at Culloden in 1746

After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Lord Chief Justice of England ruled that the bagpipes were not a musical instrument but an instrument of insurrection.

Dave argued his case against the Corporation of London on the basis that his Highland bagpipes legally remained (in 1996) an instrument of war and insurrection and therefore were not a musical instrument as charged. 

Sadly, he was still found guilty on three counts of playing a musical instrument and fined £15 on each count plus £50 costs. 

But, like Malcolm Hardee and Jimmy ‘the Dip’ Kensit, you have to admire his balls.

RIP Dave (1947-2020), Malcolm (1950-2005) and Jimmy the Dip (1915-1987).

So it goes.

Dave also used to play bagpipes at Indian weddings…

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, eccentric, Humor, Humour