Tag Archives: Jimmy Savile

Comedy duo Ellis & Rose: beefing-up Jimmy Savile, looking for other work

Worth a punt? Saturday’s Big Comedy Conference in London

Worth a punt? Saturday’s Big Comedy Conference in London

On Saturday, I am on one of the panels at the Big Comedy Conference in London.

Yesterday night, I got a message from a starting-out stand-up comedian based outside South East England:

Hi john,

Do you think I would benefit from the Comedy Conference?

My answer was:

No idea. It’s a bit pricey – £149 – but good value for money. It runs 09.00am to 11.00pm and there are over 40 top names giving advice, from Big Name comedians to BBC bosses, writers, agents and the whole gamut down to the likes of me.

But, if you have free accommodation in London, I say go for it. The only way to get on in anything is to be in the right place at the right time. There is no way of knowing where or when that is, so you just have to put yourself about a bit as much as possible. If you don’t go, you can be 100% certain nothing will come of it. If you do go, there is at least a chance something might.

I think you should go not expecting to LEARN anything specific as such, but it would give you a wider, non-local, professional view of the business and I suspect you can schmooze well (something I’m shit at).

It is a financial decision really. If you can afford to go, look on it as a weekend holiday with potential benefits; expect nothing; hope for the best. It is a bit like the Edinburgh Fringe. Toss money away and pray.

I think the comedy-going public assume when they see a comedian on stage that he/she is a full-time comedian. The truth, of course, is that for maybe the first five or six or more years of their professional lives, comedians tend to have ‘day jobs’ because they cannot survive financially on their comedy work.

Coincidentally, I had a chat on Friday with award-winning comedians Ellis & Rose.

I say “award-winning” because they won a Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, when Rose repeatedly punched Ellis in the face so they could – as a publicity stunt – claim he had been beaten up in the street by an irate punter who was offended by their show Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show.

That is REAL dedication to your art. They videoed the punching and it is on YouTube.

I met them on Friday in a pub in London’s Soho.

I paid for the single round of drinks. After all, let us not go mad on spending money. I am a Scot brought up among Jews.

“So,” I said, “you performed Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show in Norwich, while I was safely out of the country in Nuremberg. How did it go?”

“It was the first time we’ve done the beefed-up Jimmy Savile show,” replied Ellis.

The Norwich poster

Ellis & Rose – beefed-up show in Norwich

“Beefed-up?” I asked.

“Now with real puppets,” explained Rose.

“Glove puppets or string puppets?” I asked.

“Muppet-sized puppets,” said Ellis.

“Foam and felt,” said Rose.

“With people in them?” I asked.

“Well, me,” said Rose.

“The audience in Norwich really liked it,” said Ellis. “I think because we’ve added more stuff. It’s become something.”

“What have you added?” I asked. “A plot?”

“Not necessarily a plot,” admitted Rose.

“It started off as nothing in Edinburgh,” said Ellis, “but, by the end of the Fringe, it was consistently hitting… erm… the hour mark. So we’ve added in extra nonsense like Rolf Harris.”

“That was what it was lacking,” said Rose.

“They all really enjoyed it in Norwich,” said Ellis. “Not one of them really hated it,” he added with a hint of surprise in his voice.

“I think you should tour old people’s homes,” I suggested. “You need to find people who will be really offended.”

“You didn’t help us,” said Rose, “with your Raoul Moat headline (Jimmy Savile comedy duo banned from Norwich pub. Now they plan a musical based on a murder maniac rampage). I’m never gonna get a job now.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “am I the person who beat up his comedy partner in Edinburgh just to get a couple of lines of publicity in The Scotsman newspaper?”

“One line,” said Rose.

“Anyway,” I added, “What did I say about Raoul Moat, the infamous murderer?”

Police photo of Raoul Moat

Police photo Raoul Moat

“You said it was a musical,” Ellis told me, “but it’s an opera.”

“And I’m not involved in it,” added Rose warily.

“You made it seem like a frivolous entertainment,” complained Ellis. “It’s going to be a real work of art. It’s going to be a departure from what we normally do.”

“I didn’t think you actually intended to do an opera,” I explained. “I assumed it was a cheap publicity stunt.”

“I’m meeting up with Jorik Mol,” said Ellis, “and we’re going to write material for it… It’s going to be a genuine opera. It’s going to be a serious tragedy.”

“I believe that,” I said. “I have seen your previous work.”

“John Kearns has agreed to play a sniper lens,” said Rose.

“Karl Schultz has agreed to be a fishing rod,” said Ellis, “and Adam Larter is going to play a startled deer.”

“So when is this seriously tragic opera going to be staged?” I asked.

“2016,” said Ellis. “It’s only an idea so far.”

“What gave you the idea?” I asked.

“The story,” explained Ellis, “is just incredible… unprecedented in terms of the media interaction: the week-long narrative that developed around it.”

“The problem now,” said Rose, “is that partly due to you, John, if you type my name into Google followed by the words Raoul Moat or Jimmy Savile… well there goes any chance I have of getting a job.”

Seeking any employment: Gareth Ellis (left) and Richard Rose

Seeking any employment: Ellis (left) and Rose

“That’s why we’re unemployed,” said Ellis.

“Yeah thanks, John,” said Rose.

“I’d like to say in your blog,” emphasised Ellis, “that I’m looking for a job.”

“As what?” I asked.

“Well, I’m good at organising gigs,” replied Ellis.

“That’s not a job,” said Rose.

“Surely you could earn a good living as a gigolo?” I asked.

“I’ve got a licence for bar management,” continued Ellis. “I can manage a venue.”

“There must be money in being a gigolo,” I said. “Women were throwing themselves at you in Edinburgh.”

“I want a job and a girlfriend,” insisted Ellis.

“You’re asking too much from life,” Rose told him.

“I’d just like some money,” said Ellis.

“Have you never seen The Producers?” I asked. “You just find some old women, get them to finance your shows, leech onto them and get loads of money.”

“But we’ve already produced one of the worst shows of all time,” said Rose, “and it didn’t make us loads of money.”

“Tell me about it,” I said. “I financed Killer Bitch, the movie… I think Raoul Moat: The Opera could be equal to Springtime For Hitler.

“What I like about your blogs with us,” said Rose, “is that they manage to be even less coherent than the ones with Chris Dangerfield.”

“So plug something,” I said.

Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

Ghost of Jimmy Savile pursues comedy duo

“We’re doing our Ellis & Rose show on Tuesday and Jimmy Savile on Thursday,” said Rose.

“Is there a point to the Jimmy Savile show?” I asked.

“It wasn’t satire in Edinburgh,” said Rose, “but now it is.”

“It’s a satire on the nature of performers,” said Ellis.

“No, don’t give it away,” said Rose. “It’s not that.”

“Is it a post-modern comedy?” I asked, trying to help.

“It’s not even comedy,” said Ellis.

“It’s definitely not comedy,” agreed Rose.

“It’s genuinely a work of art,” said Ellis. “I don’t think it’s classifiable. It’s funny, but it’s not a comedy. It’s a kind of tragedy.”

“It’s poignant,” suggested Rose. “Actually, Ellis did have a kind of revelation…”

“…during the show in Norwich,” explained Ellis. “I just stopped.”

“The whole show stopped,” said Rose.

“We had this beautiful moment with the audience,” said Ellis.

“The audience stopped laughing,” said Rose.

“And we actually realised why we were all there,” said Ellis, “watching this show about Jimmy Savile.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Well,” said Rose, “we’re not going to give it away.”

“You’re going to have to come along and see it,” said Ellis.

“And we’ll cynically try to recreate that revelation,” said Rose.

Potential Edinburgh Fringe legends Ellis & Rose

Is it original art? Is it comedy? Is it a post-modern revelation?

“I was talking to someone the other week,” I said, “and he suggested we should have an annual beating-up of Ellis at the Edinburgh Fringe.”

“I’d be happy with that,” said Rose.

“It could become a Fringe tradition,” I suggested.

“I think someone every year has to get punched in the face,” agreed Ellis.

“It could make you a star,” I suggested.

A sparkle appeared in Ellis’ eyes, but I am not sure what caused it.

Maybe it was a tear.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Crime, Music

Jimmy Savile comedy duo banned from Norwich pub. Now they plan an opera based on a murder maniac rampage…

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into a comedy venue…

Ellis & Rose revealed as Punch andPunch puncher

Ellis (left) and Rose revelling in Edinburgh

At the Edinburgh Fringe in August, comedy duo Ellis & Rose got more than a little attention by performing Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show.

The Chortle comedy website reviewed it with the words: “It’s an insult… It could have been a provocative show. It could have been a silly show. It could have been a satirical show. But it should surely at least have been a show.”

The other reviews were… equally interesting. The London Is Funny comedy website gave the show 1-star as “a steaming pile of horse shit”. Slightly better was The Skinny, which gave it 3-stars and said it was “good, knockabout fun done in a deliberately half-arsed way” and Outsider Comedy gave it 5-stars and said it was “a new style of comedy that is years ahead of its time”.

Admittedly, Outsider Comedy is actually just their fellow comedian Mike Belgrave, but Ellis & Rose know how to concoct good publicity from bad.

They won a highly-coveted Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award at the Fringe when a member of the public hit Ellis in the face in the street and gave him a massive black eye for daring to perform Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show.

Well, they didn’t get the Award for that.

They got it when it was revealed in this blog that, in fact, it was a publicity stunt and Rose had repeatedly punched his comedy partner Ellis full-force in the face to get the required effect… all to publicise their show. They even videoed the beating and posted it on YouTube:

They know how to milk a show for publicity. So it came as no surprise to get a message from Ellis yesterday. It said:

The Norwich poster

Not normal even for Norwich – the poster

We are putting Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show on in Norwich for one night (next Monday 18th November) before we hit The Brixton Dogstar in London with it on the 28th. We had arranged a lovely Norwich venue, which was to be the Hog in Armour pub and we sent out all the listings information.

The day after that, I got a phone call from the manager telling me the pub owners had reacted badly to having a Jimmy Savile show in their venue – and could we change the title? If not, they told us, we would have to cancel.

The owners of the pub apparently also own a family holiday park and didn’t want Jimmy Savile in their pub and – of course – they wrongly thought that something called Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show is somehow going to be totally pro-Savile…

I suggested we change the title to Sir Uncle Jim’s Unwanted Spitroast, which didn’t go down well… but then it never does.

They said the show would have to be cancelled. I said OK. But I am not one to give up in the face of adversity so, the very same day, I made a lot of phone calls and arranged a new venue – Now we are going to perform the show in a lovely place called Olives Cafe Bar, who are very supportive of us and our Jimmy.

I have no idea if any of the above is true.

It sounds likely.

But, in Edinburgh, I saw Ellis’ very painful black eye and it never entered my head that he had been beaten up by his comedy partner. They know how to drum up shock and publicity.

Now to the future…

Could Gareth be cruising for another bruising?

Could Ellis be cruising for another bruising: a real one?

For readers who do not live in the UK, in 2010, a man recently released from prison – Raoul Moat – shot his ex-girlfriend, her new boyfriend and a policeman using a sawn-off shotgun.

The new boyfriend was killed, the ex-girlfriend wounded and the policeman permanently blinded. Moat then went on the run for six days and, when cornered by police for six hours, eventually shot himself.

Two years later, the blinded policeman was found hanged at his home.

On Ellis’ Facebook page, there is currently a posting which says:

Turning the Raoul Moat Saga into an opera. Need a composer to do the music. Anyone?… Raoul Moat really is a great name for the tragic protagonist of an opera… Don Giovanni, Figaro, Raoul Moat…

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Crime, PR

Journalist Garry Bushell talks about being accused of hating gay men

Yesterday’s now paraphrased blog

Yesterday’s original blog

Yesterday’s blog started as an I think interesting piece in which theatre producer David Johnson remembered Piers Morgan at the 1993 British Comedy Awards reacting to Julian Clary’s joke about “fisting” the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.

David posted the original fascinating piece (now removed) on his own Facebook page last Monday. I asked his permission to quote it, which is why I did not post my own blog about it until yesterday.

After I had posted yesterday’s blog, very unusually, I added something to it – a further comment which David Johnson sent me. It said (I paraphrase) that it was the Sun’s thuggish columnist Garry Bushell who actually wrote the anti-Clary piece the day after the “fisting” joke incident and who then ran homophobic articles campaigning against Julian Clary, Graham Norton etc.

David said in this added section that he was pleased it was ultimately Garry Bushell not Julian Clary who became unemployable, that Bushell had hardly worked since 2007 and is an active UKIP member.

David has since asked me to remove yesterday’s blog. I have now re-posted the blog with David’s directly quoted words replaced by paraphrased words.

David wanted the blog removed in general, as I understand it, because I told him I was going to ask Garry Bushell questions as a follow-up and (in my view) to allow GB a full come-back. David was also angry because I would not immediately post in public a private message Garry Bushell sent me. Garry Bushell has now given me permission to print the message, though I have cut out one well-known entertainer’s name. The message read:

“I made my peace with Julian many years ago, John, even appearing on his TV show. I’m not sure how your claim of homophobia sits with my consistent support for talented gay artists, from Frankie Howerd and (another well-known entertainer) on. I am not an active member of UKIP and my column is still published nationally. Best wishes Garry”

David thinks I was unreasonable in not printing that immediately in a public forum without first asking Garry Bushell’s permission and, because of that, he has deleted his original Facebook post which was about Piers Morgan. He is also offended that I have allowed Garry Bushell to respond to various claims.

So here, alas without any counterbalancing arguments or facts from David, is what Garry Bushell answered in reply to some questions I asked him:

Q: Aren’t you ashamed of having destroyed Julian Clary’s career for two years? You wrote a piece trying to get Julian banned from live TV. He must hate you.

Journalist Garry Bushell

Journalist Garry Bushell says what he thinks??

A: All I did after Julian’s fisting gag was write an opinion piece reflecting the views of my editor (Kelvin MacKenzie). You have to put the incident in context. This happened shortly after Stan Boardman had been banned not just from live TV but from ITV completely for his Focke-Wulf gag. Des O’Connor’s live show was cancelled because of that row. It seemed that there was one rule for mainstream comedians and another for fashionable ones.

I did later appear on Julian’s TV show All Rise For Julian Clary in the 1990s. I wanted to bury the hatchet. I don’t know what Julian thinks of me, but I don’t hate him. Back at the start I felt that he was a single-entendre act who had been promoted beyond his abilities. I like him and his act a lot more now – I backed him to win Celebrity Big Brother in my column. He was the most entertaining housemate by far.

Q: You hate gays.

A: I don’t hate anyone because of their sexuality and never have done. I first fell out with gay activists over a tasteless joke in my column back in the 1980s and, because I’ve always loved feuds, I took it too far. One of the first people who came to my defence was Patrick Newley who wrote Mrs Shufflewick’s biography – now there was an act!

I’ve worked with gay people pretty much everywhere I’ve had a job, and championed gay acts for decades starting with Frankie Howerd (I was a lone voice in the press campaigning for his return to TV). I adore (the well-known entertainer mentioned in Garry Bushell’s message quoted above). I like Craig Hill. I supported Alan Carr when he first appeared on the scene. I loved Lily Savage (Paul O’Grady’s drag act) – I knew Paul’s boyfriend Brendan Murphy from back when we’d both been members of the International Socialists a long time ago. And, at the risk of the old ‘some of my best friends…’ cliché, I’m still mates with Dale Winton and have been since the mid-1990s.

Q: In your youth, you joined the International Socialists/Socialist Workers Party and wrote for Socialist Worker. I have always thought Hitler was a good Socialist and, after all, he did form the National Socialist Party and did everything in the name of ‘The People’…. So you were always a bit of a totalitarian?

A: I did join the IS and did write for Socialist Worker. But I think the threat to freedom now comes more from the far-Left than the far-Right, although in practice in power there is very little difference between them. It used to be rightwing Tories calling for things to be banned, now it’s the middle class Left. I find it extraordinary that the comrades are so happy to march arm-in-arm with women (and gay) hating clerical fascists.

Q: Now you are an ‘active’ member of UKIP…

A: I’m not an active member of anything.

Q: On talkSPORT Radio, you said homosexuality was a “perversion”.

A: I don’t recall the actual phrasing, but it was a dumb thing to say and I apologise for it. It’s no defence, but I had just come off the phone to my mate who is in Right Said Fred and I’d been winding him up about Fred getting punched by some Russian troglodyte.

Q: You were employed by the Sun as a ‘thug’ journalist. That’s your image, isn’t it? That’s why you get paid.

A: Am I a thug? I don’t think so. I’ve always liked acerbic humour, from Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers to Lily Savage, via Bernard Manning, and I think that if you don’t realise that you might not ‘get’ my column. Male working class humour tends to be abrasive.  My big mistake in the early days of writing the column was to caricature myself; the newspaper ‘Bushell’ was a comic exaggeration of my own views. I stopped doing that a long time ago.

Q: One of my Facebook Friends posted: Someone needs to dig up Bushell’s review of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. The Sun gave him two pages to rant about how AIDS was a luvvies disease and how disgusting it was to see money raised for AIDS research when there was so little funding for proper diseases. It finished with his deathless advice on how to avoid contracting AIDS: “Don’t do drugs and don’t be gay.”

A: All I can remember about that is I used it to slip in a tasteless Jimmy Jones ode – Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, If you’d stuck with fanny You’d still be with us. I think it was over a spread, me versus Piers Morgan. I loved Queen and Freddie was one of the great rock front-men. I do think the early AIDS campaign was misleading but I genuinely regret writing this piece. If I could make amends for it, by doing a benefit gig or whatever I would happily do so, although no doubt some smartarse would then accuse me of chasing the pink pound.

Q: Do you hate women as much as perverts and pooftahs?

A: Love women, don’t know any perverts, although my old guitarist is a transvestite now – does that count?

Q: Did you ever encounter Jimmy Savile?

A: Yes. Horrible bastard, but cunning. You felt like you needed a wash after meeting him but were never quite sure why.

Q: How would you describe your novels?

A: Filthy.

Q: Do you want to create art with your writing?

A: No thanks. I want people to read it.

Q: In my blog yesterday, it was claimed you mounted “a relentless homophobic campaign against artists like Julian Clary and Graham Norton that lasted as long as Bushell was allowed air-time or column inches.” So it backfired on you, didn’t it? It destroyed your own Fleet Street career.

A: My column inches still pop up regularly and vigorously in the Daily Star Sunday, which last time I looked still outsells the Independent On Sunday.

Graham Norton’s late night Channel 4 show was filthy, so I couldn’t work out why BBC1 hired him – especially when they kept giving him flop early evening LE shows to host. He is however the smartest and funniest chat-show host in the country now – something I have been saying for years.

I don’t accept the charge of homophobia. And to suggest I relentlessly campaigned against Julian Clary and Graham Norton is untrue. I relentlessly campaigned against Ben Elton because I felt he was both an unfunny dick and a complete fake.

I’m a TV critic which means I criticise shows and stars who don’t float my boat. I moaned about Jo Brand for decades but as soon as she did something great, as she did with Getting On, I praised it to high heaven.

Tabloid readers like firm opinions. If I said everything was terrific no-one would read me.

2 Comments

Filed under Gay, Journalism, Newspapers, Racism

“Fourteen year old girls in these places are total sluts mate,” said the financier

The extract I posted a couple of days ago from my Edinburgh Fringe chat show – about attitudes to rape – provoked quite a few comments. Three in particular struck me as particularly illuminating, The first was a Facebook comment from Adrienne Truscott who won the 2013 Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality and the 2013 Fosters Comedy Awards panel award  for performing her show Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! She wrote:

Adrienne Truscott and her one-woman bottomless show

Adrienne Truscott’s show was Edinburgh sell-out

Even statistics about rape focus on women or the victims of the rape, when it would be much more productive to lessening rape by accruing statistics on rapists, and addressing that behavior, as that could actually be preventative.

There is rarely any other area of society, its ills or its triumphs, wherein men are not given full responsibility and credit for their behavior and its effects – the tradition of making women responsible for men’s sexuality is deeply historical.

I’m not saying only men rape. But, on the other hand, male victims are rarely accused of ‘asking for it’. The emphasis on this ‘asking for it’ discussion of how and why rape occurs belies a predisposition, as far as I can tell.

If women change their behavior accordingly – you know, started wearing ill-cut suits or figure-obscuring caftans, dowdy hairdos, no make up and tee-totalling – should we expect and rejoice in the sudden, brilliant absence of rape?

You know, like in India….

Another reaction to my blog, which had quoted three women taking part in my Edinburgh chat show, was this Facebook response:

Having had a daughter attacked by a moron when she was doing nothing more than walking home on a late December afternoon dressed appropriately (because apparently, according to my sisters above, a woman is responsible for being attacked if she wears anything less than full body armour) I am totally dismayed by both the garbage that has come out of their mouths and the fact that they are holding women accountable for the bad things that happen to them – I really hope that they never experience that stomach churning, leg collapsing, brain disintegrating moment when you are told your child has been seriously assaulted by some man!

I don’t think it is something that you ever ‘get over’ as it hits your inner core of belief in other human beings and in particular that we are innately good to each other. Worse things happen on a daily basis all over the world to women and children and of course men. But that doesn’t actually help, in the sense that this violence is an everyday occurrence everywhere.

The third response which interested me was this from comedian Leo Kearse:

Jimmy Savile - the truth revealed in the edit

Role model for financier

I used to be a criminal intelligence analyst and we generally approached crimes looking at the victim, offender and location to see what could be done to each to reduce crime. Fine for most crimes but rape doesn’t work like that; you can’t analogise it to a laptop being left next to an open window.

In my opinion, it’s mainly caused by men’s attitudes.

I shared a car with two ‘lads’ a fortnight ago.

One of them was a total fanny: a city financier who kept banging on about all the deals he’d done and who gave me all this unsolicited advice about ‘branding’ myself as a comedian.

He then bragged about his sexual exploits and told us that, up until his early 20s, he and his mates would go to care homes (kids who are taken off their parents by the state end up in these homes) because “14 year old girls in these places are total sluts mate”.

What shocked me wasn’t just that he did all this; it’s that he felt that this was ‘cheeky lad’ behaviour and he could brag about it to a stranger even though he was bragging about being a member of a predatory nomadic paedophile gang.

I’m pretty sure this used to be something men would not brag about.

I told him he was a predatory paedophile like Jimmy Savile and then we didn’t speak to each other much.

I think it does reflect a common attitude otherwise he wouldn’t have felt like he could brag about it in front of me.

1 Comment

Filed under Rape, Sex

At the Edinburgh Fringe: reaction to the fake beating of a comedian + mad chat

Gareth Ellis suffers for his art (photo by Lewis Schaffer)

Ellis after fake Fringe street attack (photograph by Lewis Schaffer)

There was some reaction to the early Malcolm Hardee ‘Pound Of Flesh’ Award yesterday.

It was awarded to Ellis (with Richard Rose of Ellis & Rose) for their stunt (revealed first in my blog yesterday) in which Rose punched Ellis in the face four times so they could claim he had been attacked in the street and get some publicity for their shows Ellis & Rose: Big in Denmark and Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show.

In yesterday’s reactions comedian/writer/photographer Ian Fox, in particular, was mentioned.

At last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, he really WAS attacked in the street and left with injuries which took several months to mend. I blogged about it at the time.

Ian Fox after a real Edinburgh street attack last year (photograph courtesy of Ian Fox)

Ian Fox after a real Edinburgh street attack last year (photograph courtesy of Ian Fox)

American comic Craig Shaynak @craigshaynak Tweeted: “Ian Fox should get an award for actually getting beat up! (and for being VERY funny while getting beaten)”

Comedian Janey Godley @JaneyGodley Tweeted: “Comics at Fringe who pretend to be attacked for press attention ? Who the fuck does that? Check @thejohnfleming blog”

And Mike Finlay @MikeFinlayComic mysteriously Tweeted: “A singer who I won’t name was apparently abducted and nearly killed conveniently after announcing his new band”

Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show

Meanwhile, the Chortle website (whose review of Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show had been blamed for the non-existent street attack on Ellis) wrote: “Even by the standard of Edinburgh publicity stunts, it’s pretty extreme.”

Chortle’s Steve Bennett said: “I felt pretty awful when I first thought something I’d written might have ended in someone being physically attacked. No performer deserves that… But I would never have thought that they would have gone to such lengths to deliberately hurt themselves just to get into the paper. I suppose it’s apt, though, the appalling Jimmy Savile show is pretty much a self-inflicted wound on their own comedy career.”

When Ellis phoned me about the Chortle reaction, I told him he should use the line ELLIS & ROSE: “a self-inflicted wound on their comedy career” (Chortle) on their posters.

The Edinburgh Fringe is all about cheap publicity.

Both Chortle and Scots comedy promoter Alan Anderson commented that comedian Shawn Hitchens was notable by his absence from the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt shortlist. He had organised a ‘ginger pride’ march through the streets of Edinburgh, attracting worldwide headlines from the BBC, CNN, the Daily Mirror, the Bangkok Post, Canada.com, the Daily Mail, the Irish Independent, the Times Of Malta and French outlet 7sur7 among others.

Fair enough, a stunt. But not really that cunning.

The Malcolm Hardee Awards, with ‘Million’ award in middle

The increasingly prestigious three Malcolm Hardee Awards

The best cunning stunts play with and ideally play a confidence trick on the media or twist an idea in an original way.

We did very seriously consider nominating the fake Ellis beating as a Cunning Stunt. But – as we were not going to give an ‘Act Most Likely To Make a Million Quid’ Award this year so had a spare trophy – we decided we could, in effect, award two Cunning Stunts this year (there have been lots of good stunts around) and we would award the Ellis & Rose one – called the Pound of Flesh Award – early because we were frightened their con would be revealed by someone other than us… and because, by giving an early award, we could drum up some publicity for the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show this Friday night.

The Edinburgh Fringe is all about cheap publicity: something the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards have always strived to encourage, as a tribute to Malcolm’s increasingly prestigious reputation.

At my Edinburgh chat show today in Bob’s Bookshop, I have booked English eccentric adventurer Tim Fitzhigham who cannot get there for the start because he is finishing off his own show at the Pleasance Courtyard. So, before him on the bill, I have perhaps foolishly booked Geordie-Irish-Iranian comedian Patrick Monahan who perhaps has not the most consistent time-keeping record.

My co-host, Scotsman comedy critic Kate Copstick, has promised to pole dance to fill in any time before Patrick arrives, so I am now attempting to get hold of Patrick to ensure he is late.

The chat shows seem to be going well.

Moi, Arthur Smith and Kate Copstick chatted on Monday

Fat man, Arthur Smith and Kate Copstick chatted on Monday (photograph by Brian Higgins)

On Monday, Copstick was there to defend her reported criticisms of comedian Sarah Millican and, it seemed to me, merely ended up slagging-off at least three other female comedians.

Then Arthur Smith arrived, on his way to Waverley station to get a train to see his mother-in-law in Sunderland… and shared some bizarre tales.

I had intended to blog extracts from these chat shows, but the Ellis & Rose ‘fake beaten up’ story took precedence yesterday and saved me having to listen to 60 minutes of iPhone recording and much longer transcribing hell.

Juliette Burton, Jorik Mol and Laura Levites yesterday

Juliette Burton, Jorik Mol & Laura Levites chatted yesterday (photograph by Brian Higgins)

Yesterday’s chat show seemed to me to be equally fascinating with critic Kate Copstick and comedians Juliette Burton, Laura Levites and Jorik Mol sharing their thoughts on – and memories of – mental hospitals, suicide bids and drugs. Juliette Burton, whose show When I Grow Up I had just seen for the third time – it was a rock-solid 5-star show in a totally sold-out venue – seemed to have had the longest list of mental problems but was the only one not currently on medication. What one deduces from that I do not know.

With luck and more time to transcribe, extracts may appear in this blog at a later date.

Yesterday seemed to be a Juliette Burton day because, after I saw Charlie Chuck’s new show Charlie Chuck’s Grande Night Out – new tartan suit, new jokes and a rousingly-rockingly-sung See You Later Alligator – I went to see John Lloyd’s late-night BBC chat show and, blow me, Juliette was on the bill there again.

But, returning to Bob’s Bookshop – the location of my own daily chat shows – Bob Slayer issued a press release yesterday which said:

Foxy_blondes_only2

Publicity-seeking foxy blondes outside Bob’s Bookshop include Bob Slayer (left) and Adrienne Truscott (second from right)

“Being an intimate venue that has become increasingly popular we have been forced to introduce a plan to control the numbers. Starting today our door policy will be FOXY BLONDES ONLY. Non Blondes will not be allowed after 9pm.”

This seemed to be just an excuse for him to dress up in a blonde wig with multi-award-nominated Adrienne Truscott and others.

The Edinburgh Fringe is all about cheap publicity, but it can only be a coincidence that Bob’s Bookshop is sponsored by the Scottish Border Brewery and one of their brews is called Foxy Blonde.

I rounded off my day yesterday by going with comic Lewis Schaffer to Bob Slayer’s Midnight Mayhem show at the Bookshop. When we arrived, one member of the audience was asking: “Has anybody here NOT read dolphin sex books?”

This was never fully explained to my satisfaction and I left after an hour, leaving Lewis Schaffer holding the microphone and telling people he was Lewis Schaffer.

40 minutes later, I got a text from Lewis saying:

“Bob tossed a beer at me.”

It was a quiet, mostly uneventful day at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, PR

Edinburgh Fringe act reveals he was beaten up by his partner to get publicity and wins early Malcolm Hardee Award

(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)

John Ward with some Malcolm Hardee Awards for Comedy

John Ward, designer of the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards

The shortlist has been announced at the Edinburgh Fringe for the increasingly prestigious annual  Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards in memory of the late ‘godfather of British alternative comedy’ who drowned in London in 2005. As normal, there are three awards, but the third is more than a bit of a surprise.

The shortlisted nominees are:

THE MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD FOR COMIC ORIGINALITY

– Red Bastard

– Ursula Burns (unbilled in the main Fringe Programme)

– Adrienne Truscott

THE MALCOLM HARDEE CUNNING STUNT AWARD

(for best publicity stunt promoting a Fringe performer or show)

– Barry Ferns – for printing 2,000 fake Broadway Baby and Three Weeks review sheets and distributing them round Edinburgh. They gave his own show a 6-star review.

– Richard Herring – for deciding that expensive Fringe posters are pointless and, instead, giving members of his current show’s audience free DVDs of his past performances.

– Lewis Schaffer – for (having heard about Richard’s stunt) also giving away allegedly free DVDs at his shows – but free Richard Herring DVDs because Richard is more famous than Lewis (and you have to donate £5 to Lewis).

– Gareth Morinan – for listing his show 11 times in the Fringe Programme because this gave him more space (and was cheaper) than buying a quarter page ad in the Programme.

THE MALCOLM HARDEE ‘ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID’ AWARD

This will not be awarded this year because, frankly, we do not think anyone is worth it.

The Malcolm Hardee Awards, with ‘Million’ award in middle

The Malcolm Hardee Awards, with ‘Million’ award in middle

However, the £-sign trophy has already been made and (in the spirit of Malcolm Hardee) we are not about to waste it.

So we are awarding it as a special one-off MALCOLM HARDEE ‘POUND OF FLESH’ AWARD to Ellis of the Ellis & Rose comedy duo for “the kind of publicity money can’t buy”.

Gareth Ellis suffers for his art (photo by Lewis Schaffer)

Ellis displays his vividly genuine black eye (photograph by Lewis Schaffer)

On August 14th, Ellis was attacked in the street by an unknown, irate member of the public who was annoyed by Ellis & Rose’s appearance in Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show. Ellis received a very bad black eye. This followed a Chortle comedy website review which revealed Ellis & Rose’s names as the show’s performers – They had asked not to be named. I blogged about the incident at the time.

EXCEPT – it was revealed to the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee judges late last night that the attack never happened. It was a publicity stunt.

In their Edinburgh flat, Ellis repeatedly hit himself in the face with the blunt end of a milk whisk. When this did not have the required effect, his comedy partner Rose punched him four times in the face to give him a black eye.

They videoed the creation of the black eye.

The video (only now uploaded to YouTube) shows Ellis being punched in the face. If you watch it, be sure to have the sound turned up high.

Last night (from left) Mills, Ellis, Rose, Levites, Copstick

Late last night (from left) Mills, Ellis, Rose, Levites, Copstick

Ellis showed the full video to me (including the preliminary milk whisk hits) – and to fellow increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award judge Kate Copstick – in the cafe of the Gilded Balloon venue late last night. Also there in the cafe were his comedy partner Rose, their cohort in the stunt Paul Preston Mills and American comedian Laura Levites.

“When did you first decide to do this?” I asked Ellis.

“After Steve Bennett’s 1-star review of the Jimmy Savile show came out in Chortle,” Ellis told me. “We thought How can we turn this around?

“And did the reported attack increase the size of audiences for your Jimmy Savile and Ellis & Rose shows?” I asked.

“Probably by about 50% on average,” said Ellis. “It went up and down, but it was more consistently full. People love to see and read about people getting hurt.”

“It could,” said Kate Copstick, “become a new marketing tool for comedy shows: grievous bodily harm.”

“Why did you start out by hitting yourself in the face with a milk whisk?” I asked.

“I looked on the internet to find out how to get a black eye – how to give yourself a black eye – and it said Get yourself a blunt object like a broom handle, so you can control the amount of force yourself. We looked in the kitchen and a milk whisk was the best thing we could find. It had a blunt, plastic end.”

“But that didn’t do enough harm to your face?” I asked.

“Well, it did pretty well,” admitted Ellis.

“But you’re a perfectionist?” I asked.

“Well, Rose said That’s not enough,” explained Ellis. “ he said You’ve got to let me punch you.

Ellis (left) recovering last night from Rose’s punch

Ellis last night, his left eye recovering from Rose’s punch

“How many times did he punch you in the face?”

“Four times,” replied Ellis. “He punched me twice, but we forgot to record it, because we were quite drunk – So he had to do it twice again for the video.”

“What did you have to do with all this?” I asked Paul Preston Mills.

“Well,” he said, “I arrived on the Tuesday – all this happened on the Tuesday night – and we were talking about it. But we decided they weren’t quite drunk enough before I left them and went to bed and, at that point, they were still deciding whether Rose was going to hit him or they were going to prod him in the eye with a broom handle. I thought hitting him had to be the correct thing to do.”

“Did your venue manager Bob Slayer have anything to do with the stunt?” I asked.

“Well,” said Ellis. “before the Fringe started, we had ideas of getting publicity and, when Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show first came out in the Programme, the media jumped on it and it was in the national press and we were going to ramp it up by saying we had death threats and performers had dropped out  and Nick Awde, who wrote the original script, had been getting death threats and things like that. So it kind of stemmed from that idea. We found that being named in the Chortle review allowed us to play off that.”

“Any other result from the stunt?” I asked.

“The black eye has made me more appealing to the opposite sex,” replied Ellis.

“Is he,” I asked Laura Levites, “more appealing with or without his black eye?”

“Oh, I like him with,” said Laura. “It means he can take a punch. You want a man who can take a punch.”

“So,” I said, “when his skin recovers and the black eye disappears, he should do it again to be more appealing to the opposite sex?”

“Oh,” said Laura, “he should do the other eye. You’ve got to let one heal and then hit the other one.”

“You were hit by Rose,” I said to Ellis, “your comedy partner. Do you think there might be a homo-erotic element in this?”

“No,” said Ellis.

“Yeah,” laughed Rose. “It’s been a long Fringe and I’ve been quite frustrated a lot of the time.”

“He’s got a girlfriend who isn’t here,” said Ellis.

“So I had to release some tension,” enthused Rose, “and Ellis’ face is small and squishy, much like a breast.”

“We thought,” Kate Copstick interrupted, “that the milk whisk was doing rather a good job of damaging Ellis’ face. Why punch him?”

“Well,” said Paul Preston Mills, “FIST or MILK FROTHER? Which would you choose if you were putting a headline out for publicity?”

“I wanted to keep my ring on my finger,” said Rose, but Ellis wouldn’t let me. I got him really, really drunk. The only reason we decided it would be him not me was because he owed me quite a lot of money.”

“Only 40 quid for groceries!” said Ellis.

“What would have happened if he’d owed £90?” I asked.

“Anal rape,” said Copstick.

“At one point,” said Rose, “I was concerned he was bleeding and I almost felt bad… My hand was sore.”

“Do you expect to get more stars for revealing all this?” I asked.

“Well, we just want more bloody reviews,” said Ellis.

“Bloody is the word,” I said.

“You could say,” suggested Ellis, “that Ellis & Rose are not into punchlines, but we will take a hit for comedy.”

“I could,” I agreed.

______________________________________________________

MHAflyerA6flyer

The increasingly prestigious show 2013

THE OTHER WINNERS OF THE MALCOLM HARDEE AWARDS… 

will be announced around midnight this Friday night (23rd August), during the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

For more details of the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards, see:

http://www.fosterscomedyawards.co.uk

(and read that web address again carefully).

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, PR

At the Edinburgh Fringe, Jimmy Savile show actor beaten up in the street after being named in Chortle website review

(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)

Juliette Burton (right) and her flash mob yesterday in the High Street

Juliette Burton (right) and her flash mob in the High Street

But, before that…

Juliette Burton led a flash mob in a choreographed dance down the High Street to publicise her show When I Grow Up

And, on my way to see Irish comic Christian Talbot’s late night comedy compilation show at the Phoenix venue, I heard one of those lines that only seems reasonable during the Edinburgh Fringe.

I bumped into Frank Sanazi in the street and, as we walked along, he told me: “She only does the gimp act on my show when Jesus Christ is not available.”

This is both bizarre and true: I myself have seen Jesus climax Frank Sanazi’s Dax Vegas Night II.

Other things which seemed perfectly normal yesterday were:

Andy Zapp introducing his gorilla (who had flown in from London) at Christian Talbot’s show…

Stompie - The Half-Naked Chef - cooks up mischief last night

Stompie – The Half-Naked Chef – cooks up mischief last night

Stompie performing his unbilled nightly Half-Naked Chef show at Bob’s Bookshop partially in the venue and partially in the street…

And Bob Slayer of Bob’s Bookshop explaining where he got his new chairs from. Bob is known for his high-profile criticisms of the Big Four venues in Edinburgh, including the Underbelly.

“I was in the Udderbelly’s Abbatoir last night,” Bob told me, “and Ed (co-owner of the Underbelly/Udderbelly) came up and said: So you’re Bob Slayer, who writes things about us!

“I said: We don’t have a problem here, do we?

Bob Slayer (left_ thanks Ed of the Underbelly (photograph by Claire Smith)

Bob Slayer (left) makes up with Ed Bartlam of the Underbelly (photograph by Claire Smith)

“He said: Well, it does annoy me when you get your facts wrong.

“I gave him my card and said: Well, do correct me, because I would like to criticise you with the correct facts.

“We had a bit of a smile, a bit of a laugh and he said, as an aside, Well, if there’s anything I can help you with, just let me know.

Well, funny enough,” I said, “I’d love some new chairs for my audience. And – first thing this morning – Ed had 40 brand new chairs delivered to Bob’s Bookshop.”

And so to the beating…

At last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, I blogged about performer Ian Fox being randomly attacked in the street.

Three days ago, I mentioned in a blog that Scotsman journalist Claire Smith had been randomly attacked in Leith.

Yesterday, Ellis of comedy duo Ellis & Rose told me about being attacked in the street – but not randomly. He was with his comedy partner Richard Rose.

They are performing in two Fringe shows this year – their own show Ellis & Rose: Big in Denmark and (as actors) in Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show.

Richard Rose (left) wit Gareth Ellis and his eye yesterday

Richard Rose (left) with Ellis and his eye yesterday

“We went out for a few drinks last night,” told me. “We were walking down to Cowgate, near Bob’s Bookshop, at about two or three in the morning, a little bit drunk, and this guy walked past and asked us: Are you Ellis and Rose?

“We were quite chuffed that someone had recognised us,” said Richard.

“He told us,” continued Ellis. “You’re sick! You’re sick in the head! and we reacted like What?? and he said You do that Jimmy Savile show, don’t you? We said Yeah and he said You’re fucking sick!

Rose explained: “Ellis tried to engage in dialogue.”

Ellis continued: “I was saying to him But you haven’t seen it, have you? You haven’t seen the show. He was quite a big guy, Scottish accent, in his late-twenties.

“And then he just punched me in the face. I stumbled back a bit and then just ran.”

“To look on the bright side,” I said, “the good thing is that you were recognised in the street. That’s all most Fringe performers want.”

“This stuff wasn’t happening before we were named in the review,” said Ellis.

Gareth Ellis suffers for his art (photo by Lewis Schaffer)

Ellis – how he he suffered for his art (photograph by Lewis Schaffer)

As I mentioned in my blog three days ago, Ellis and Rose (who did not write the Jimmy Savile show) had specifically asked reviewers not to name them but the Chortle review did.

“We initially didn’t want to be named,” explained Rose, “because we just didn’t want it to be confused with our own show.”

“I imagine if he’d see the actual Jimmy Savile show,” continued Ellis, “he would not have punched me.”

“Maybe we should sue Steve Bennett of Chortle,” mused Rose.

“Yeah,” said Ellis, “maybe Steve Bennett (editor of Chortle who personally reviewed the Jimmy Savile show) actually is culpable.”

“This wasn’t happening before that Chortle review came out,” said Rose.

“Though it may increase our audiences,” said Ellis. “We are doing the Fringe properly… One star reviews; audiences love it; and I got punched in the street.”

“A couple of days ago, at the end of the Jimmy Savile show,” said Richard, “it had gone really well so we asked the audience: Would you like to hear a review of the show? And we read out Steve Bennett’s review to rapturous applause. They particularly liked the opening line This show is an insult…

“Did you see stars when you were punched?” I asked Ellis.

“I only saw five stars,” he replied.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Crime

At the Edinburgh Fringe, physical attacks on comedians and on a critic

Comedian Charmian Hughes is married to comedy magician David Don’t.

Her Edinburgh Fringe show Charmian Hughes: Odd One In includes tales of kissing disgraced government minister Chris Huhn. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe.

David’s show David Don’t: The Delusionist (unbilled in the main Edinburgh Fringe Programme) is one of Bob Slayer’s Heroes of Fringe shows within the Laughing Horse Free Festival – whom PBH of the Free Fringe sees as bitter competitors.

I met Charmian and David at the Pleasance Dome shortly after she had collected him at Waverley station, off a train from London.

It is David’s first Fringe and he is only performing for three days – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week – at Bob’s Bookshop. He was also keen to promote his new website.

“It’s been put together,” he told me, “by the fantastic new web designer (and comedian) Harriet Bowden…”

“She’s not called that any more,” said Charmian.

“Oh no,” said David, “she’s Lyndon Grady.”

“She’s designed me a new website too,” added Charmian. “Harriet went to a numerologist, who told her great success would only come by changing her name. So she has changed her name to Lyndon Grady. Isn’t that the name of the person who married Catherine Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights or was that Lytton Strachey? Anyway, everyone loves magic, except for me. A magician says what he’s going to do – like a dustman says what he’s going to do – and does it. Where’s the entertainment in that?”

“Except,” I pointed out, “that, when David says he’s going to do a trick, it often doesn’t work.”

“I never set out to fail,” said David Don’t.

David Don’t opens his wallet for Charmian Hughes yesterday

David Don’t opens his wallet for Charmian Hughes yesterday

“I almost lost David once, through his magic,” Charmian continued. “It was when he was doing escapology from a postman’s sack at Pull The Other One. He was handcuffed and tied up in the bag and was failing to get out. One of the people in the audience said: Let’s put him on a bus.

“I don’t do magic at home any more,” David told me. “Charmian looks at me and doesn’t ask How did you do that? She asks Why did you do that? I think she’d rather find me wanking off to a porn mag than playing with a pack of cards. I don’t leave packs of cards round the house any more.”

“But do you lea…” I started to ask.

“Don’t go there…” said Charmian. “Barry Lyndon… That’s who I was thinking of. Have you noticed that Sean Hughes’ Edinburgh show is called Penguins but there is no image of a penguin on his poster? And I am Charmian Hughes. There is no penguin in my show title, but I have a picture of a penguin on my poster. That’s not planned. It’s a random serendipity of the universe.”

“When do the actual penguins arrive for your show?” I asked.

“Tuesday,” replied Charmian.

“And on Wednesday,” I said, “Andy Zapp and Ivor Dembina have a gorilla arriving to appear in their show for the rest of their run. Isn’t that a coincidence?”

“No,” said Charmian.

My secret view revealed

Non-secret launch party for book last night

Then the three of us went off to the launch of the new Secret Edinburgh book (my non-humorous piece is on page 179) at Bob’s Bookshop.

On my third day here, I saw Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show and the two performers in it asked me not to name them in my resultant blog. So I did not.

They were Gareth Ellis and Richard Rose – the comedy double act Ellis & Rose.

The reason I can name them now is that other, arguably less amiable, sources have.

Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show has currently received three 1-star reviews and one 3-star review.

“We feel that the 3-star review in The Skinny has ruined it,” Richard Rose told me outside Bob’s Bookshop last night. “That 3-star review is getting in the way of us doing one of the Shit of The Fringe competitions. We might ignore the 3-stars.”

The 1-star reviews came from Broadway Baby, London Is Funny and the Chortle website with Three Weeks still to publish its review.

Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

STAR Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

“We fear it might be more than one star,” Gareth Ellis told me.

“As well as Jimmy Savile,” I said, “I saw your own show at The Hive and it was all over the place, but I thought you were both TV presenter material. Very loveable and amiable and jolly; just no linear script.”

“There IS a script,” said Richard. “This is what irritates us slightly. It’s all written down and we play around with it.”

“But not a linear script,” I suggested.

“That’s not what we do,” argued Richard. “We’re fun and, today, we had a cracking show, but this heckler blundered into the room in the last five minutes.”

“He stumbled in and sat down at the back of the room,” explained Gareth. “He had a bottle of vodka in his hand – a big one – and it was half empty and he just shouted out: Yer mum!

Yer mum!” agreed Richard, “and I said Sir, it seems like an odd time, about three minutes before the end, to start heckling and that got a laugh. And then it came to the point in our show where Gareth says I’m feeling sexy! and the guy shouted out You’re not sexy – You’re shit! and Gareth just exploded… in character.”

Ellis (left) & Rose walk the Edinburgh streets alone last night

Ellis (left) & Rose walk Edinburgh’s mean streets last night

Gareth said: “I told him You will feel the wrath of my sex! and slammed a chair down on the floor.”

“And you started humping the chair,” said Richard. “And people were applauding. People loved it.”

“He kept going on and I kept putting him down,” said Gareth. “And then the show finished, we got changed, went outside and the heckler was waiting for us. He said: You’re them two cunts who do that Savile thing! and took a swing at me. I managed to dodge it and he managed to land a slap on Richard and then we legged it.”

“For about two hours afterwards, it was really funny,” said Richard. “Fucking hell! I can’t believe we provoked that much reaction! But then it seemed to be less funny and we were quite shaken and now we’re just befuddled and a bit drunk.”

Two minutes after talking to Gareth Ellis and Richard Rose, I was inside Bob’s Bookshop, talking to Scotsman newspaper reporter and reviewer Claire Smith.

Claire Smith consoled last night by Topping (of Topping & Butch)

Claire Smith consoled last night by Topping (without Butch)

“A couple of nights ago,” she told me, “I was walking home and I was very, very tired. I went to Tesco to buy some avocados and there were a whole load of guys running round from one side of the road to the other on Great Junction Street in Leith, throwing eggs at people’s houses, trying to hit the windows.

“Then one of them ran along behind me and whacked me really hard on the back of my head with his hand. So I’ve got this huge bump on the back of my head and I have concussion.”

“Have you seen a doctor?” I asked.

“No,” Claire told me, “I went to see Bob Slayer. “I needed medical advice and I thought Bob’s an ex-jockey who’s fallen off loads of horses. So, in between seeing shows, I thought I’d pop in and see what he said. He’s got a very calm, helpful side to him. It’s ‘Quiet Bob’ and I sometimes pop in hoping to catch Quiet Bob. I really like Quiet Bob.

“It was just before his own show started; he was dealing with a load of Phil Kay’s books which had just arrived; and there were all sorts of admin things going on to do with the bar at Bob’s Bookshop. But, when I told him what had happened, he sat down and chatted to me about it, which was very sweet. But what happened after I got hit was…”

“You went down?” I asked.

“No,” said Claire, “which is strange, because I fall over all the time. I just didn’t fall over when someone tried to make me fall over.

“I shouted something – I don’t know – You’re an arsehole! Fuck off! What are you doing? – they were across the street now, a big gang of them. And then this huge guy came and stood next to me. He was like a knight in shining armour.

Stuart - Claire’s knight in shining armour

Stuart – knight in shining armour

“He started speaking really slowly and really quietly and it was frightening because the gang of guys carried on shouting and they followed us for a bit.

“The big guy told me My bus isn’t for half an hour, so I’m going to walk you home and he walked me round the corner and then they started throwing eggs after us which were hitting the wall beside us and hitting the pavement in front of us.

“The big guy said to me: If they catch us, just run away. He said: You might need a brandy. So we went to a pub and I asked What do you do for a living? and he said I’m the most hated person in Edinburgh.

What do you mean? I asked.

I’m a traffic warden, he told me.

“He’s an ex-Army guy called Stuart. He had been shot twice – in Kosovo and somewhere else. He showed me his bullet holes in the pub.”

“Where were they?” I asked.

“They were both in his back,” Claire told me. “It was odd. Because Matt Price is staying at my house during the Fringe and I was thinking This is the sort of thing that happens to Matt. We have been invaded by the story-telling gods.”

Lewis Schaffer consoled last night by Topping (without Butch)

As I left the Secret Edinburgh book launch at Bob’s Bookshop, I picked up one of the daily Broadway Baby review sheets with, on the front, a review of actor Brian Blessed’s one-man show Shout: The Life of Brian.

Oh, I didn’t know he was doing a show, I thought to myself.

On my way home, at around 1.30am in the morning, I bumped into Arthur Smith in a kebab shop.

He is guest on the first of my Edinburgh Fringe chat shows next Monday. The show finishes at 4.30pm and, at 5.00pm, Arthur is getting on a train back to London. The audience will be invited to accompany him to Waverley station.

“Are you still doing my chat show next Monday?” I asked him. It is always worth checking everything in Edinburgh.

“Of course,” he replied. “I’m looking forward to people waving me off at the station.”

When I got back to my flat, I found a series of Tweets:

Broadway Baby - send in the cunning comedy clones

Broadway Baby – send in the cunning stunt clones

Broadway Baby ‏- They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This isn’t us folks. Someone’s copying BB! pic.twitter.com/YWPV32QCJK

Sean Brightman ‏- That is very funny.

Broadway Baby ‏- We are bemused and baffled by the effort someone’s put into this!

Sean Brightman – Well, the clue may be in the reviews methinks. And if it is who I think it is, he should win an award.

Broadway Baby – Best publicity stunt this year? Writing your own audience reviews happens. Printing an entire edition? That’s a first!

Sean Brightman – Yep, it should be in the running for a @thejohnfleming Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt award.

I looked up the Fringe Programme to check if Brian Blessed really was performing a show called Shout: The Life of Brian. It was not in the Fringe Programme. According to the Broadway Baby review, it was supposedly being performed at the Underbelly’s DistendedBelly venue.

Then I read the rave review on the sheet of Barry Fearn’s show Barry on Arthur’s Seat – 6 stars – “A phenomenal show. Better than life itself” – and went to bed.

Reality, fantasy, a few laughs and occasional random violence.

Welcome to the spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Crime, Edinburgh

Comedian Bob Slayer has a sex change & I go up a hill at the Edinburgh Fringe

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs Revisited

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs Revisited

I am not technically-minded. I do not want to know how computers work. Which is why, after having one excellent Amstrad computer, I have only ever bought Apple computers. I bought my first in 1993.

I had one laptop which occasionally had problems – It had to have the DVD drive replaced twice. But I had had it for at least two, perhaps three, years when – in September 2011 – I took it in for a second time.

The Apple Store assistant took it into a back room, came back and said: “You’ve been having problems with this machine. Would you like a new one for free?”

As I say, I had had the machine for over two, perhaps around three years. It was well out of warranty.

“How much would the new one cost normally?” I asked.

“£2,100,” came the reply.

“I’ll have it,” I said.

About a week later, I was watching a BBC TV News report of Apple boss Steve Jobs’ death.

Around ten minutes later, my phone rang. It was Apple telling me my new laptop had arrived. It was faster, with more memory and a bigger hard drive than my previous laptop; they had given me the latest model with better specifications than my previous one.

Yesterday, in the Gilded Balloon venue in Edinburgh, I heard someone say: “If you want to see Steve Jobs, he’s along the corridor and down the stairs.”

They were talking about an Edinburgh Fringe show – The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs Revisited – but nothing would surprise me either with Apple or at the Fringe.

Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

Scars: Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

Shortly afterwards, I saw a show called Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show

The two performers asked me not to mention them by name. This is unusual but I can understand their dilemma.

I would award 5 scars to Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show.

Yes, that is, indeed, five SCARS not stars.

I will need psychological counselling for years to come but, I suppose, it did come under that catch-all phrase ‘the spirit of the Fringe’. It was free and, not unreasonably, you had to pay to get out.

Sign in the window of Bob’s Bookshop yesterday

Sign in the window of Bob’s Bookshop yesterday

Juliette is torn between Gonzo and Jimmy Carr

Juliette Burton – interesting dreams of flyering

Juliette Burton – whose show When I Grow Up has already got five STARS tells me that, at a previous Fringe, when she was performing as part of the Mace & Burton double act, during the night at their flat, she once woke up both herself and fellow performer Lizzy Mace by ‘sleep-flyering’… “I was flyering in my sleep!”

Everyone is stressed during the Edinburgh Fringe except, it seems, my temporary flatmate Andy Zapp.

“Anything bizarre happen yesterday for my blog?” I asked him this morning.

“I never get stressed up here,” he told me.

Well, that is the most bizarre thing anyone has ever said to me at the Fringe.

How passers-by saw Miss Behave in the window of Bob’s Bookshop yesterday

How passers-by saw Miss Behave in the window of Bob’s Bookshop yesterday

Meanwhile, at Bob’s Bookshop, co-venue manager Miss Behave (who has broken her heel) is hobbling around on crutches at a speed which should make her eligible for the next Paralympics and has been re-decorating the window (partly by stretching out in it).

I seem to remember that, at one point before the Fringe started, her co-manager comedian Bob Slayer threatened to sleep in the window overnight every night as a form of art installation.

As far as I am aware, this has not so far happened. I think Miss Behave would draw more attention.

Andy Zapp (left) with a stunned Bob ‘Rachel’ Slayer yesterday

Andy Zapp (left) with a stunned Bob ‘Rachel’ Slayer yesterday

In the meantime, Bob is going around with an unexplained name tag on his chest saying he is RACHEL.

Today I think I may go up to see the view of Edinburgh from the Blackford Hill.

To understand why, you will have to read a book about Edinburgh which, I am told, is on sale from this coming Wednesday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy

Jimmy Savile writer in tabloid storm labels my blog as ‘revolutionary’ and drunken UK comic Slayer as ‘political’

Nick Awde Facebook photo

Nick Awde as he wants to be seen on his Facebook page

Writer Nick Awde wanted to interview me for a book he is currently writing.

UK comedian and Edinburgh Fringe venue runner Bob Slayer told me that Nick had received a death threat because he has written a play called Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show for the upcoming Fringe in August. The truth is more complicated than that. And it is not the first time he has been threatened.

“I did an anthology on Women in Islam and got at least one death threat out of that.,” Nick told me this morning, when I Skyped him at his home in Paris.

“So are you actually doing a physical Punch & Judy show in Edinburgh?” I asked.

“No,” he told me. “No puppets. No-one wants to put their hand up Jimmy Savile.”

“So how are you doing it?” I asked.

“It will be live actors,” Nick explained, “playing all the characters in a Punch & Judy way.”

“Dressed as Punch & Judy?” I asked.

“Still don’t know,” said Nick. “Budgetry constraints.”

“Will you be making a guest appearance in the show at Edinburgh?” I asked.

Nick laughed: “What? So the audience can beat the crap out of me? No.”

“You could be the policemen or the crocodile,” I suggested.

“Well, trying to get the crocodile into it is difficult. I don’t think there were any crocodiles supporting Jimmy Savile although, God knows, everyone was in on it. Maybe he was given the keys to the zoos as well.

Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show

“Jimmy Savile was there because Society put him there and Society’s problem after his death is trying to deal with the fact that we all put him there, especially all the pillars of Society – but we support the pillars. We all looked at him and thought There’s a creepy old man and probably a lot of people did think There’s a dirty old man. But we still went along with it.”

“So why Punch & Judy?” I asked.

“We take our children – we encourage our children,” explained Nick, “to go see Punch & Judy like we did as children and our parents and parents’ parents did before them. We go off and we laugh and joke and are wowed and throw money at the puppet master afterwards… but we are watching a man who is a wife-beater, a child-killer and who also takes on every single pillar of Society. Even if he does get beaten up by them, he ends up beating them up or avoiding them or avoiding the issue entirely. This is Jimmy Savile. He did exactly the same thing. He bullied his way through Society.”

“And,” I said, “the press reaction to the show’s imminent staging has been what?”

“The tabloid reaction so far is interesting,” said Nick. “Oh! What about the victims? they ask. Well, in fact, this format avoids the victims. The format of Punch & Judy is a great way to avoid anything to do with the victims. The match is perfect. You concentrate on Jimmy Savile and his dealings with Society.”

“But it’s not a puppet show,” I double-checked.

“Everyone said they did not want to do it as a puppet show,” said Nick. “I think it should be done as a puppet show but I don’t have any money to put it on because – guess what? – I won’t personally profit from the show. So I can’t be accused of trying to cash in.”

“So the tabloids at least can’t accuse you of that,” I said.

Nick Awde talking to me from Paris this morning, via Skype

Nick Awde talking to me from Paris this morning, via Skype

“The tabloids who are going to come gunning for me,” said Nick, “indeed gunning for anyone who wants to try and address things that they don’t want to be addressed or which they don’t want to be addressed in their way… These are the same tabloids who are sitting on the files which they have on people like Jimmy Savile and a lot of other people in Society, a lot of whom are big names, who are still alive and still doing it.”

“You mean in showbiz or politics?” I asked.

“Everything,” said Nick. “There’s no conspiracy about it. You and I, we understand this. We understand why they do it. Like me, I think you are very much up for the independence of the press. We don’t want the government being able to force people to hand over things like the Obama government recently did to Associated Press in America.

“I’ve seen these files. Anyone who’s worked for a long time on national newspapers will have come across a file somewhere and it’s not Da Vinci Code stuff. It makes perfect common sense that people will come to a newspaper for whatever reason. Some will come wanting money. Some will come because the police or institutions have put them down and they will go to a newspaper and say Please help me. It could be whistleblowers or victims themselves. In this case, it’s child abuse or institutionalised child abuse.

“The newspapers put it on record. They think about whether they have enough to publish and also whether it’s a juicy-enough story. Very rarely do they hand the files over to PC Plod because you never know… You could use it one day for one reason or another.”

“And these,” I said, “are the same tabloids who have been attacking your upcoming play without having seen it.”

“Yes,” said Nick, “these are the same tabloids who’ve been sitting on these documents and possibly also have files on a lot of victims – a lot more than we think – accumulated over the years. These are the same ones who want to criticise someone for trying to address Jimmy Savile’s relationship with the institutions which kept him in power for sixty years.”

“Surely,” I said, “being attacked by the tabloids is great because it’s publicity for your play?”

“Sure,” said Nick. “But incitement to violence is something different.”

“Who was inciting violence?” I asked.

“The Daily Star,” he replied and held up a double-page spread headlined:

Nick holds up a Daily Star double spread via Skype

Nick holds up Daily Star double spread for me this morning

SICK NICK DESERVES A PUNCH FOR SAVILE PLAY

Nick has written, edited or illustrated more than 50 books.

He has freelanced as a feature writer and critic for The Stage for more than twenty years, as well as being a political journalist and, more recently, a book publisher.

“What sort of books do you publish?” I asked him this morning.

Things like phrasebooks for non-European languages spoken in countries where people have been generally fucked around by things like oil politics,” he replied. “Places where it’s the ordinary people who lose out, like Chechnya, Somalia, Armenia.”

“So how does a Chechen-Somali phrasebook publisher end up with a drunken ne’er-do-well like comedian Bob Slayer?” I asked.

Critic Nick Awde (left) and comic Bob Slayer yesterday

Nick Awde + Bob Slayer being piratical rather than political

“Because I think he’s very political in what he does,” said Nick.

“Is he?” I asked, incredulous. “This presumably is political with a small pee?”

“Oh yes,” said Nick. “But I’m political with a small ‘p’ too. I think Bob’s Alternative Fringe is extraordinarily political in terms of what it is. It evolves, whereas things like the Free Fringe don’t evolve.

“I write in theatre very much as a political thing, because theatre really gives people a voice. You know that. The way you write about comedy and report on comedy in your blog – not just the young blood that’s coming up, but the old revolutionaries and all the rest of it. I think you can see the effect the revolutionary side of live comedy has had on people over the years.”

“Well, that’ll go straight onto my publicity,” I said. “John Fleming – Revolutionary. I can see it up in lights now.”

“I really do believe it,” insisted Nick.

“I’m all for anything provided there are knob gags in it,” I said.

“I don’t think there will be knob gags in Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show,” said Nick, “unless there might be a knob gag which would have existed in a real Punch & Judy show.”

Daily Express - ‘Outrage’

Daily Express – ‘Outrage’

“Well, rude bits are part of traditional satire,” I said.

“Yes,” agreed Nick. “Tits, knobs, poo, crap, dicks and farting. In satire, you are literally throwing all that at the people at the top and telling them: You are the same as us! It’s a bit of a rocky road to follow – you will be excoriated by all sides at some points – but the people who have done it well have made people think. People time and time again quote satire.”

“And I gather your Jimmy Savile show is going to be satire,” I said.

“Obviously,” said Nick, “you can’t do the hardcore stuff on television or radio but, live on stage, there can be far more hard-hitting stuff.”

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Newspapers, Sex, Theatre