Tag Archives: John Robertson

The Edinburgh Fringe: How to win a Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award

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

Well, the best way to win an Award and to honour Malcolm’s memory would be to lend me £500 and not expect to get it back but, if you are more vanilla in your Award approaches, the first thing is to know is what the fuck the awards actually are.

There are three and they are given in memory of the late Malcolm Hardee who was, according to The Guardian, the “patron sinner of alternative comedy, renowned for his outrageous stunts”. The Daily Telegraph called him “godfather to a generation of comic talent” and, in their 2005 obituary, the Independent said he was “the greatest influence on British comedy over the last 25 years”.

I know the last quote must be totally true because I wrote the obituary myself and included that phrase on the basis that future lazy journalists would simply blindly copy it.

The current three annual, increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards are:

THE MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD FOR COMIC ORIGINALITY

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award with Edinburgh Castle behind

Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality

Basically, we have no idea what we are looking for. If we did know what we were looking for, we would be able to define it and it would not be original. But the award is for a performer not for a show and one producer who approached me this year touting a “family friendly” children’s show was wide-of-the-mark on almost all counts. Malcolm was known for having the biggest bollocks in show business and for showing them to everyone at the drop of a testicle. On stage, he was not family friendly.

Past winners of the award have been Reggie Watts, Doktor Cocacolamcdonalds, Edward Aczel, Otto Kuhnle, Robert White, Johnny Sorrow, The Rubberbandits, Adrienne Truscott, Candy Gigi and Michael Brunström.

THE ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID AWARD

The Act Most Likely Award awaits its fate in Edinburgh this morning

For Act Most Likely To Make A Million Quid

Well, the title says it all, really.

The judges have to take a wild punt on who may survive the vagaries of – and triumph over the good and bad luck inherent in – a comedy career to attain seldom-attained financial success.

There is no point anyone approaching us to suggest themselves. If we think you are likely to fulfil the future requirement and win it, that’s our call, not yours.

Past winners have been Bo Burnham, Benet Brandreth, Trevor Noah, Luisa Omielan and Laurence Owen.

THE CUNNING STUNT AWARD

Desperate pose with Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award

I pose with the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award

This is the one the press like. It is for the best CUNNING stunt promoting a Fringe performer or act or show.

But pay close attention to the inclusion of the word ‘cunning’.

Riding an elephant painted pink down Princes Street and inviting the press is a stunt but it is not a cunning stunt.

This award was started when comic Gill Smith sent me an email saying she was nominating herself for the Malcolm Hardee Award on the basis that her email to me allowed her to legitimately put on her posters and flyers “Malcolm Hardee Award Nominee”. She said she thought Malcolm would have approved. I thought he would too and started the award.

The winners have been:

GILL SMITH – for that initial piece of chutzpah.

LEWIS SCHAFFER – for convincing several publications that he was the new sponsor of the (formerly Perrier) Edinburgh Comedy Awards for £99 and that his mother and agent would be on the judging panel.

STEWART LEE – for successfully encouraging people to vote for little-known Japanese act Frank Chickens in a poll for Best Fringe Performer despite the fact they were not performing at the Fringe. (As a result of the publicity, ironically, they did perform at that year’s Fringe.)

KUNT & THE GANG/BOB SLAYER – for getting fans to put stickers depicting penises on the posters of rival acts to promote Kunt & The Gang’s show. Personally, I never liked the original stunt but Bob Slayer, Kunt’s promoter, kept the publicity stoked-up and refreshed for so long in so many ways it became a work of PR art.

STUART GOLDSMITH – for a series of YouTube videos about Fringe censorship of the title of his show Prick.

BARRY FERNS – for printing and distributing around Edinburgh fake copies of Broadway Baby which gave his show 6-out-of-5 star reviews and reported that his show had been nominated for the Fosters Comedy Awards, in both the main category and the newcomer category.

CHRISTIAN TALBOT – for using his 12-year-old daughter Kate to go up to strangers, looking sad, ask them “Have you seen my daddy?” and, if they said “No”, handing out flyers to them.

MATT ROPER – for hacking into the Facebook account of Malcolm Hardee judge & Scotsman reviewer Kate Copstick and posting fake messages – purportedly from her – “bigging himself up”.


Jay Handley’s Cunning Stunt contender

Jay Handley’s Cunning Stunt

This year, there have already been two arguably worthy contenders for the Cunning Stunt Award – though that is no guarantee they will get nominated – There may be better as-yet unpulled cunning stunts.

Jay Handley has launched an online change.org petition to get the Oxford English Dictionary to change the spelling of ‘Religion’ to ‘Relgion’.

His basic argument is that “For too long people across the country have been spelling ‘religion’ in a manner that is unacceptable to people who have ordered 5000 flyers for their Edinburgh Fringe show with it spelled ‘relgion’ in the main copy of their blurb.”

John Robertson’s stunt

John Robertson’s Cunning Stunt

Meanwhile, there is an online Huffington Post piece by John Robertson lauding the “Ten Best New Comedians” at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Number One is John Robertson and the other nine also contain references to John Robertson and his Fringe comedy show.

It is, in a way, a combination of Barry Ferns’ stunt of publishing a fake edition of Broadway Baby and one of Malcolm Hardee’s most infamous stunts where (with Arthur Smith) he wrote a review of his own Fringe show and conned The Scotsman into publishing it under the byline of their own comedy critic.


The judges for this year’s Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show (that is the way it is billed in the official Fringe Programme) are:

MARISSA BURGESS
Freelance comedy critic, lover of all things weird and an inveterate streaker. This Fringe she will be criticising comedians for The List and Fest.

KATE COPSTICK
Chief Comedy Critic of The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. Loudest member of various judgely huddles from the Perrier Award to Home Made Pickle of the Year at The Parrot in Forest Green and author of The Illustrated Guide to Sapphic Sex.

BRUCE DESSAU
Comedy Critic of the London Evening Standard, editor of website beyondthejoke.co.uk and author of biographies of Rowan Atkinson and Reeves and Mortimer.

JOHN FLEMING
Handsome, debonair fashion icon. “The Boswell of the alternative comedy scene” (Chortle) Co-host (with Kate Copstick) of the Grouchy Club’s weekly podcast and its live shows at the Fringe.

JAY RICHARDSON
Freelance journalist for The Scotsman, Chortle, The Guardian, Independent, Sunday Times, Metro, BBC, Channel 4 etc.

CLAIRE SMITH
Freelance journalist, reviewer and feature writer for The Scotsman. Fringe lover, cabaret freak, arthouse baby, catastrophe thinker, water rabbit.


The Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show takes place at the Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh on Friday 26th August and MC Janey Godley should be introducing music by (but one can never be sure at the Fringe):

Bob Blackman’s Tray
Ursula Burns
Kate Copstick
Elvis Corpsley: The Zombie Elvis
Brian Damage & Krysstal
Candy Gigi
Kunt & The Gang
Lynn Ruth Miller
Laurence Owen
Ariane Sherine

The show will also include the announcement and presentation of this year’s awards, the annual Scottish National Russian Egg Roulette contest and the presentation by Edward Hobson of Ed at Last’s new FirstMinute Awards for the best first 60 seconds in a Fringe comedy show. The fact that the long-running, formerly Perrier Edinburgh comedy awards are now sponsored by lastminute.com is, I am sure, entirely coincidental.

John Ward with some Malcolm Hardee Awards for Comedy

John Ward, designer and manufacturer of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards

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One man’s day at the Edinburgh Fringe: name-dropping, walking and hugging

Jo Romero - Scenes of a Sensual Nature

Jo Romero – Scenes of a Sensual Nature with comic actors

A sign of the times yesterday morning.

I was sitting in Cowgate waiting to go into Jo Romero’s Scenes of a Sensual Nature – four playlets with Jo in various states of undress, Mick Ferry stripped to the waist, Gary Colman doing a sex tape, James Dowdeswell looking nervous and David Mills in a vest. Something for everyone.

So…

There I was, sitting in Cowgate typing a text message, when I heard a voice say: “Are you interested in comedy shows?”

It was a comedian whom I had seen in clubs a few times. We had never met. He handed me a flyer and pitched his show. When he left, I checked and, sure enough, we were Facebook Friends.

But we had never met.

Later, waiting to go into the Noise Next Door’s Really, Really Good Afternoon Show, I bumped into comedian Diane Spencer. She told me she had had ten Norwegians in her Power Tool audience the previous day. I told her comic Lindsay Sharman had had five Norwegians in her show the previous day. It sounded like they were different groups of Norwegians. I went and joined the Noise Next Door queue. The two people behind me started talking in Norwegian. Totally true. (I used to work for a Scandinavian TV company.) Inexplicable but true.

The Noise Next Door

The Noise Next Door seem to come with a built-in TV aerial

The Noise Next Door are a faultless improv troupe. Why they do no have a TV series is more a reflection on TV producers and commissioners rather than on them.

After the Noise Next Door show, I went to see the Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection show.

On the way, I passed Bob Slayer’s double decker BlundaBus venue. Bob told me: “I have a blocked urinal. Somebody was sick in it. This is the exciting end of running a bus venue.”

At this point, performer John Robertson joined us.

“Parking this bus,” continued Bob, “was easy but these toilets have cost me £1,000. I can’t afford to have them filling up. They are no-poo toilets. I hope people don’t find them. There are no signs to them. Have you seen the sign inside?

WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT AND WE
WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU DO NOT TOO

Bob Slayer and John Robertson at the BlundaBus yesterday

Bob Slayer and John Robertson at the BlundaBus yesterday

“Bob’s toilets,” said John Robertson, “are the only venues on the Fringe you don’t want to have full.”

As John Robertson and I walked along the Cowgate, we saw comedian Patrick Monahan coming towards us.

“Oh dear,” I said to John, “he is going to, isn’t he?”

Sure enough, Patrick spread his arms wide, said nothing, hugged us both simultaneously and then continued along the Cowgate.

John and I then bumped into eccentric performer Mr Twonkey. John went into the Underbelly venue. I continued walking along with Mr Twonkey, who told me he had been unable to think up a decent idea to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. I tried to console him but it proved impossible.

When I got to the Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection show it was, unlike Bob Slayer’ blocked toilet, filled to the brim and overflowing. I stayed to see Juliette Burton’s set. She hugged me. I left.

This gave me time to go and record a Grouchy Club Podcast with Kate Copstick.

Tim Renkow

Tim Renkow: man with a dangerous title

Then I went to see Tim Renkow’s show Kim Jong-Un, Muhammad, Jesus and Other Power Hungry Maniacs. Highly intelligent. Very funny. As expected.

Tim hugged me as I left and I went to have a chat with Kate Cook, who had asked to meet up so she could plug her show Invisible Woman.

“Food is essential here in Edinburgh,” she started.

I said: “It’s fairly essential everywhere.”

“Yes,” admitted Kate, “but somehow you really notice it is working as fuel here. I can’t eat just before a show and I ate too early this morning. So, by the time I was getting towards the end of my show today, I could feel the madness setting in. You have seen my show. It’s quite physical.”

“It is very good,” I said. “What sort of madness?”

“I miss my dog,” said Kate. “I think animals keep you sane. I do feel a little bit mad in Edinburgh, but maybe you need to. It’s completely mad here. In a good way.”

“How?” I asked.

“I suppose we’re all very vulnerable,” Kate explained.

“People,” I said, “talk about all the performers’ egos but I suppose all the vulnerabilities are feeding on each other too.”

Kate Cook at Soho Theatre

Kate Cook – she misses her dog, but has a supportive Wolf

“We are all vulnerable,” said Kate, “and maybe we all need one another. I think everyone’s actually quite supportive of one another. I brought a technician up with me called Max Valentin Wolf. That’s a good name, isn’t it? He doesn’t look like he’s called Max Valentin Wolf.”

“Bob Slayer’s toilet is blocked-up,” I told Kate.

“On the BlundaBus?”

“Yes. Apparently it takes liquids but not solids. That is a bit of a drawback in a toilet. Where is your show?”

“The Mash House. It’s very nice. It smells of wood.”

“Like being buried alive?”

“No.”

“Any humorous show-publicising anecdotes?” I asked.

Kate Cook - Invisible Woman

A wooden leg, one arm, a pipe and chickens

“I play lots of characters in the show,” said Kate. “Invisible Woman. You’ve seen it.”

“I have,” I said. “It’s very good,”

“It’s very fast-paced,” said Kate, “and yesterday I got some scenes mixed up, which has always been my nightmare. I was being the man with a wooden leg and I should’ve been the posh lady with one arm. So I had to apologise to the audience and make a joke about it and then become the lady with one arm. And, during the same show, a box full of rubber ducks fell off a chair backstage and you can imagine what sort of noise that made.”

“Quacks?” I asked.

“Chickens,” said Kate. “They were chickens.”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, I’m a chicken,” said Kate.

Then there was a distraction and we lost that line of conversation.

Kate joined me to see Die Roten Punkte: Haus Party.

Kate Copstick lip-syncing at the Haus Party

Kate Copstick with low-key lip-syncing at the Haus Party

Frankly, you can’t go very wrong if you perform as a brother-and-sister German neo punk band duo with guests Paul Foot being surreal, a big black transvestite called Le Gateau Chocolat who can sing anything from Wagner to Whitney Houston, critic Kate Copstick lip-syncing a song and Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award winner Adrienne Truscott taking her clothes off. It was the second time in a week that I had gone to a show where Adrienne Truscott took her clothes off. I am not complaining. Just saying.

After all this finished, Kate Cook hugged me goodbye and I left for The Illicit Thrill at the Voodoo Rooms – a show which had been recommended to me.

Frank Sanazi & The Iraq Pack with two punters

Frank Sanazi and The Iraq Pack + two happy Iraq Pack fans

When I arrived, Frank Sanazi’s Iraq Pack were having photos taken with their fans.

I also bumped into Paul Eccentric, who is here in Edinburgh as a punter until, on Wednesday, his book The Edinburgh Fringe in a Nutshell is launched in Leith. (I blogged about the London launch last month) He had a large bandage on his hand.

Paul Eccentric fell over a tree

Paul Eccentric. An arboreal tale of movement

“What happened?” I asked.

“I fell over a tree,” he told me.

“You fell over a tree?” I asked.

“It moved,” he explained.

“That’s the trouble with trees,” I said.

Waiting for The Illicit Thrill to start, I checked my e-mails.

Mark, a man of mystery who runs the British Comedy Guide website, had sent me a piece about Abigoliah Schamaun, who has been plastering fake review quotes and stars on her show posters. He suggested she might be a worthy Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award nominee.

Abigoliah Schamaun poster

Abigoliah Schamaun poster. A cunning stunt?

The quotes include: “A true talent!” (Just One Person’s Opinion) and “Funny. Hilarious. I laughed Loads!” (Rather Redundant Mag)

I must have not paid attention when The Illicit Thrill was recommended to me. It turned out to be a fairly straight hour-long strip show. Not really a Fringe show, more a well-produced strip show. In its own terms, it was extremely well-done, although excellent local rock band Black Cat Bone looked mildly embarrassed. We were given fake dollar bills on entry to stick in assorted garters and gaps.

Whereas Adrienne Truscott had been completely naked earlier in the evening, the professional strippers in The Illicit Thrill kept their lower regions thong-covered. Unless I missed something. I do not think I did. I am not sure what this difference in nudity between art and populist perv entertainment demonstrates sociologically (The Illicit Thrill’s slogan on the dollar bills is: Teaching Edinburgh To Perv Responsibly). But I am sure it must illuminate something.

Illicit Thrill dollar bills

Crisp Illicit Thrill dollar bills awaiting insertion late last night

The Illicit Thrill included Mother Masochista – a stripping nun – and, separately, JC – a Jesus Christ male stripper of whom I have been an admirer ever since seeing him in 2013 at a Frank Sanazi extravaganza at the Fringe.

Last night, he did not go as far as he did in that extravaganza, but apparently he returns to the Fringe in his own show next week: Christ on a Bike.

After that, I walked back to my flat at about 02.30 in the morning with the slightest of toothaches, amid a fairly common Edinburgh late-night event which is unbilled and rarely mentioned – flocks of giant white seagulls swooping low and fast along the roads and around the junctions, as if looking for small dogs, children or crushed egos to snatch off the darkened streets.

Sometimes I think I might as well have taken drugs.

 

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Edinburgh Fringe: some shows, a man dangling from a bridge and a romance

Passing performer Richard Gadd prepares to punch comic Joz Norris yesterday

Performer Richard Gadd (right) appeared to be preparing to punch comic Joz Norris in an Edinburgh street yesterday

My yesterday at the Edinburgh Fringe started with a Danish man playing the bagpipes and ended with a policeman.

There were stunts along the way, but none of them cunning stunts.

I saw seven shows yesterday. Five of them were:

Claus Reis: Return of the Danish Bagpipe Comedian
The show works, but there’s a presentation problem. If your USP is confounding expectations by being a Danish bagpiper and you dress up in a kilt and traditional Scots piper costume and you look fairly Scottish, then there is no real visual USP. Naff as it may sound, you should be wearing Viking horns or some equally stock cliché Danish costume while playing the pipes.

Candy Gigi: Award-winner with a new face this year

Candy Gigi: Award-winner with a new face this year

Candy Gigi: Chicken Soup
Last year’s Malcolm Hardee Award winner for comic originality. This year, she has developed the madness, adding in more glimpses of her acting and great singing voice and, yesterday, picked a perfect punter to unleash her insanity on. She handled him so well, I thought he might be a plant. He wasn’t. It was like watching a mescaline-crazed Cilla Black. Her shows tread a narrow line between sunshine and darkness.

Joz Norris: Hey Guys!
Always talented and charismatic, Joz’s new show now holds together as an entity. Tremendously enjoyable, with hints of a genuinely interesting autobiographical back story. If he has the nerve to increase the true stories while retaining the surrealism, he could break through massively. Perfect TV face.

Martha McBrier: Pigeon Puncher
It is easy to think she is ‘just’ a naturally very, very funny storyteller, but there is a lot of preparation and an enormous talent in audience control behind this show and her performance. Very very very funny indeed.

Bob Slayer conducting business on his BlundaBus

Bob Slayer conducting his BlundaBus show

Bob Slayer’s BlundaBus: Never Mind the BusStops
With anyone else, this unplanned rambling shambles of comic chattery in a double decker bus would be a car crash. With Bob (nominally) in charge, it still is – but that is the point of it. It’s a success! Not so much as a show but as an event.

Nathan (right, in red) with his de Lorean

Nathan (right, in red) with DeLorean before the wind came


In among all the above, I also went to the Three Sisters pub in the Cowgate, where Nathan Cassidy had managed to get hold of and park a DeLorean car to plug his Back To The Future trilogy of shows.

People could wear the hero’s red jacket and get photographed in the car and the bonnet was covered in flyers for Nathan’s shows: a good stunt undercut by the fact this is eternally-windy Edinburgh and occasional gusts blew the flyers off the bonnet into the street.

On second thoughts, though, perhaps that was not a negative factor. That was publicity. This is the Fringe.

John Robertson: The Dark Room in the underbelly

John Robertson: very Dark in The Underbelly

Walking away from that, I bumped into John Robertson in a rubber suit (no change there, then) plugging his Dark Room show… and then photographer Garry Platt, who has been wandering round photographing shows and events.

As Garry and I wandered off, I looked up. The Old Town of Edinburgh is built on two levels. Above out heads was the George IV Bridge from which a giant trapeze was dangling and a young gent was climbing down a rope towards it.

I said to a girl standing on the pavement: “He has eleven minutes to kill himself.”

“What?” she said, slightly surprised.

“I have to leave in ten minutes,” I explained, “so he only has eleven minutes to fall onto the road and plug whatever show it is by killing himself.”

It turned out she was doing the PR for the show.

The dangling Dolls duo above the Cowgate (Photograph  by Garry Platt)

Dolls duo dangling dangerously above the Cowgate yesterday (Photographs by Garry Platt)

The young man dangled and was followed by a young woman who dangled. They both dangled. By the time I left, a fair crowd had gathered on the bridge above and on both the pavements below to watch them dangle.

The traffic slowed as drivers looked up and small flyers were handed out to publicise the show Dolls.

But I think, to be truly effective, it needed a banner dangling from the bridge itself, above the two dangling trapeze people risking their lives for a line in The Scotsman.

Semi-ironically, the next event I went to was a 90-minute event publicising Death on the Fringe, an umbrella organisation which I blogged about last month.

It aims to stimulate discussion of death, end-of-life issues, bereavement and grief.

It was held in the Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre in the Medical School building of Edinburgh Universally.

All the talk was of death, terminal illnesses and mortality, but it seemed strangely refreshing amid the incestuous atmosphere of egos swirling around in the streets outside.

There have been sadly few cunning stunts so far this year.

Mark Dean Quinn - King of Fringe Flyerers

Mark Dean Quinn – King of Fringe Flyerers

But I bumped into Mark Dean Quinn yesterday. Last year, he got a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt nomination for his flyering techniques.

This year, he is mostly plugging his own show More Observation Without Comedy Is Not On Today about which he was strangely quiet, perhaps because it does not start until ten days time and is only on for two days. But he is also plugging Ben Target’s show Imagine There’s No Ben Target (It’s Easy If You Try) by handing out imaginary flyers and paper bags which say:

A BAG IN WHICH TO PLACE
YOUR IMAGINARY FLYER FOR
IMAGINE THERE’S NO BEN
TARGET (IT’S EASY IF YOU TRY)

3pm
THE HIVE
WEAR SENSIBLE SHOES

“How does Ben Target pronounce Ben Target?” I asked.

“Well,” explained Mark, “he pronounces Target as target and Tarjay as tarjay

“Each day,” Mark told me, Ben has given me a precise number of people he wants me to get into his show by flyering.”

“A different number each day?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” said Mark.

“What,” I asked, “happens if you miss the target for Ben Target?”

“Well, I don’t intend to fail on any particular day, because I’m sure there will be serious ramifications and I have seen what he carries in his suitcase.”

Janey Godley in suitcase

Janey Godley in a suitcase. There is no Ben Target on view

“What does he carry in his suitcase?” I asked.

“I have signed an actual written document to say I can’t say what’s in it, but it’s quite special.”

“Is the penalty different,” I asked if you are over or under on the audience numbers?”

“If you want to find out what the penalty is – and see what’s in the suitcase – come to the show at 3.00pm at The Hive daily, you’ll actually see the inside.”

Now THAT is effective promotion with a hint of cunning stunt.

As I walked back to my flat at around 2.00am last night/this morning, I turned down a side street. On the other side, walking in the opposite direction, back into the centre of Edinburgh, were a ballerina and a policeman hand-in-hand. They were not publicising anything. Just happy to be with each other.

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My Kinky night… Plus showman and creative midwife Adam Taffler talks sex

Malcolm Hardee 10th Anniversary Show 2015

Adam’s show in memory of the iconic comic Malcolm Hardee

Yesterday, at the Soho Theatre in London, I talked to comic Elf Lyons for a future blog.

Then I was due to talk to showman Adam Taffler about a show he is arranging at Up The Creek in Greenwich to mark the 10th anniversary of Malcolm Hardee’s death by drowning.

“Is it confirmed yet?” I asked him.

“Yes, Monday 2nd February at Up The Creek,” he said.

Then comic John Robertson appeared.

John Robertson (left) with Adam Taffler yesterday

John Robertson (left) be-hatted with Adam Taffler yesterday

“Bloodshot eyes at the window,” said John Robertson.

I have no idea what this means, but he and Adam started discussing their hats.

“I was just talking to Elf Lyons,” I said. “She always wears a hat. She said I would look good in a Panama hat.”

“A Panama with your usual Hawaiian shirts would look good,” agreed Adam.

“Elf asked what you do,” I told Adam. “And I couldn’t explain. Bits and pieces of everything.”

“I’m doing a Burns Night at the end of this month,” he said. “We’re going to do a ceilidh – a Scottish Independence Referendum dance. You get everyone who was for Yes on the right and everyone who was for No on the left and you get them to dance together. It will be really funny.”

“It needs a punchline,” I said.

“It does,” said John Robertson.

“I don’t do punchlines,” laughed Adam, “I am an artist.”

“Where is the Burns Supper?” I asked.

Burns Night without any battling monks

Adam’s Burns Baby Burns! without monks

“In the ecclesiastical colosseum of St John’s at Hackney.”

“Do they have monks fighting in Hackney?” I asked.

“One of Henry VIIII’s mistresses is buried there,” said Adam.

“You have to admire his stamina,” I said. “Six wives and multiple mistresses. Why are you suddenly doing Burns Nights?”

“I love ceilidhs,” said Adam.

“This will not help me explain to Elf Lyons what you do,” I suggested.

“I am,” said Adam, “just making it up as I go along.”

“He is a human dynamo,” said John Robertson. “He is a pathfinder.”

“He is a man with a false moustache,” I said.

“It’s real,” said Adam. “I am a midwife to people’s dreams.”

“It could be a real moustache with a false man,” said John Robertson. “But this is getting like a Philip K Dick novella.”

And with that, like Keyser Söze, John Robertson left without a limp.

“Are we talking about your date with a person from the media?” I asked Adam.

He had told me that, after seeing me, he had a romantic assignation.

“It is a silent date,” he replied.

One of Adam’s many business ventures is a series of regular Shhh Dating events where people, in effect, do speed dating with each other but without saying any words.

Adam Taffler behind Metro

Adam told me this would be the first sight his date would see

“Why are you having a silent date?” I asked.

“I dunno.,” said Adam. “I just thought it would be fun.”

“This is after your Free Love period?” I asked.

“Not Free Love,” said Adam. “The Sex Positive scene I was getting to know a little bit.”

“It sounds like Free Love to me,” I told him.

“It’s just another form of creativity,” said Adam. “Oh!!! That will sound so shit in your blog!”

“Things do,” I said. “In print, ‘Sex Positive’ may sound like a randy man with a false moustache going round knobbing people.”

“It’s a real moustache,” said Adam.

“I have to go to the toilet,” I told him. “Alone. I will leave my phone recording.”

While I was away, Adam talked to my iPhone.

“John thinks I might say something interesting now,” Adam told my iPhone, “but actually I have nothing to say. That is the reason I don’t perform stand-up comedy. But I do do other things like ceilidh dancing and nudie dancing in the moonlight.”

When I came back, Adam told me: “So, this summer, I got invited by my friend who runs an event called the Summer House Party. It is about 300 adults from the Sex Positive scene. It’s like a mini Burning Man. There are loads of different creative things. You can hang-out, do face-painting, do hot tubs and it builds to this big event on the Saturday night and there’s a playroom and I don’t know if we should talk about this, John.”

“It will be in print forever,” I agreed.

“It might sound wrong,” said Adam. “It’s such a sweet thing but might sound dodgy… OK… I went along to the Summer House Party and I was running some of these Shhh Dating workshops and it was great fun and, on Saturday night, there was a big party and, in one room at the party, there were lots of people having sex with each other… So it was like any normal party, really.

“What I want to say is it was really creative and artistic and human, but I suppose you could say that about dogging. What it looks like to me is there’s this whole spectrum of sexuality all the way from dogging and… what’s that other one where you fuck and never see them again?”

“Sheep worrying,” I suggested.

“Maybe,” said Adam. “But this is more like you form friendships and hang-out together. Sex Positive means exploring sexuality and doing it safely. But there’s another thing which I’m starting to understand a bit now… about gender identity. In this scene, you’re not supposed to refer to someone as a He or a She or a Man or a Woman until you ask them first, because there’s a lot of transgender people in the community and some of them got really upset. People are saying: Let’s throw away the whole notion of gender. It’s so passé. So that’s kind of interesting.”

“This is going to sound a bit Californian in print,” I said.

“It is, I guess,” said Adam.

“Anyway,” I said, “earlier, you told me you had now decided to be more into single relationships.”

Adam Taffler

Adam limbering up for his silent date in London last night

“That’s right,” said Adam. “This summer I had the whole awakening of this scene and meeting lots of different people and exploring lots of different things but, actually, I think I prefer to have a deeper relationship with one person.”

“And this media person you are seeing tonight is female?” I asked.

“Yes, I date women. I’m not homosexual.”

“Animals?” I asked.

“Only squirrels,” said Adam.

“And professionally?” I asked.

“I’m just trying to survive and build. I’m trying to do things that excite me and it excites me to have a room of 500 people dancing or feasting or having sex. In a good way. Or squirrels. Or to take artists and ask them what they ACTUALLY want to be doing and then to make that happen. That also excites me.

“I don’t want to do a normal job,” said Adam. “and the things I’ve done before are coming back again this year and getting better and some really cool people are starting to ask me if I want to work with them. Which is great. I like interesting experiences. How boring is that as a sentence in your blog? I wanna touch people. That’s what I wanna do. It could be in a show, in their brain. That’s what excites me. And, again, that’s probably going to look terrible in print. But I’m doing stuff and it’s fun.”

With that, Adam went off to have his silent date with a media person and I went off to see the Kinks’ musical Sunny Afternoon with my eternally-un-named friend.

Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks

Last night I saw Sunny Afternoon & remembered drunk Kinks

Our last two theatrical excursions together – Charles III and Great Britain – were not triumphs, but things are getting better. We saw a preview of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper at the weekend – I thought it had surprising depth; she said it was OK. And Sunny Afternoon could not really go wrong with Ray Davies’ songs and an exuberant (I thought slightly over-directed) production.

I saw The Kinks perform a couple of times in London in the 1970s. They started off slightly dull but, after about 10 or 20 minutes, they appeared to get drunk and were absolutely superb.

My eternally-un-named friend told me she thought Sunny Afternoon was: “Fantastic! Possibly lose the thrust stage as unnecessary and distracting. But fantastic singing, dancing, costumes and – literally – swinging from the chandelier. Fantastic!”

After the show, in the walkway from Charing Cross station to Hungerford Bridge, I looked ahead and saw Adam Taffler walking towards me. It turned out, in his youth, he had known Kink Dave Davies’ son.

“How did the date go?” I asked. “Did you manage to keep totally silent?”

“For the first 40 minutes,” he said. “We ordered a bottle of wine without talking.”

“How?” I asked.

“I wrote it on a Post-it note.”

“That’s cheating,” I said.

Adam Taffler

Adam Taffler on his return from a successful romantic silence

“It was great,” said Adam. “It was fun. She found it a bit difficult at first and we had a 5-minute talking break, but we broke that initial bullshit of This is who I am and this is what I do. We got to know each other really well through not talking to each other and the rest of it was just a dream. We’re going to date again next week. She’s a really intelligent, lovely girl.”

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Award-winning comedy performer John Robertson: Blood and Charm and S&M

John Robertson - 17th December 2014

John Robertson in Dean Street, Soho, yesterday afternoon

Comedy performer John Robertson was brought up in Perth, Australia and now lives with his wife Jo Marsh in London. He is probably best known as creator of The Dark Room show. I had tea with John yesterday afternoon in Soho. He was on his way to the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society’s British Comedy Awards to receive an award.

“What is tonight’s award for?” I asked.

“The awards which are being given out,” he told me, “are not for anything. People were booked for the evening on the basis of whether they wanted to present or receive an award. I quite like the idea of going to an un-real awards ceremony to not receive an award. So I have to go and say Thankyou for something that isn’t occurring.”

“Have a pen,” I said and gave him a pen. “It’s an award from my blog.”

“I always take the title of your blog – So It Goes,” said John, “to be a Kurt Vonnegut reference.”

“Yes,” I said. “Also, in my erstwhile youth, Tony Wilson – you know the movie 24 Hour Party People? – he used to present a Granada TV music programme from Manchester called So It Goes. Presumably also a hommage to Slaughterhouse-Five.”

“Manchester,” said John, “is a place I never end up in.”

“At that time,” I said, “it was nicknamed Madchester. I had the chance to go to Tony Wilson’s Hacienda club a few times but never went because I thought it was probably some naff disco. It wasn’t, of course. I should have gone.”

“In Perth,” said John, “I used to go to a Goth club called Sin and everyone there was crapping on about how much better it was when it was called Dominion.

“But I really preferred Sin cos Dominion I just associated with… Dominion was where my really dumb 14-year-old friends were getting in without being carded and then coming back having done some dull, faint half-S&M with each other.”

“S&M?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said John. “A little bit of the old bondage. The third time I went to Sin, I took a crucifix and all the girls kept trying to sit on it to prove a point. They were trying to do The Exorcist.”

“How old were you?” I asked.

“About 18.”

“Aged 16,” I asked, “what did you want to be?”

John Robertson

Aged 16, John Robertson wanted to be lawyer

“I wanted to be a lawyer, because I understood that’s where the money was. But, at school, someone’s dad was a very well-known barrister. He came in, gave us a talk and just revealed himself to be the most dull man on the planet. So I gave up on that dream. It was a bit dry and boring.”

At this point, I started to take some photographs of John.

“Let me see?” he asked. “Oh, can you send me that one? I like the crucifixion imagery behind me.”

“What am I going to write a blog about?” I asked. “What have you been up to?”

“Last week,” said John, “I went down to the face-sitting protest outside Parliament.”

“That was,” I checked, “something about protesting against restrictive new pornography laws?”

“Yes.”

“Did you sit on a face or were you sat on?”

“I watched,” said John. “I defaulted to my usual position. There was some Dutch TV talk show host running around inviting people to penetrate themselves with his microphone. But the whole thing was really deeply charming. All these very English people: We’re here to protect our rights. We’re being quirky and eccentric. It was the most English style of protest I can imagine. There was a woman wearing jodhpurs and tweed sitting on someone’s face while drinking a cup of tea.”

By this time, John was drawing with the pen I had given him.

John’s drawing of a man with a tie

John’s drawing of a man with a tie & big nose

“All I can do is just variations of men in a tie,” he told me. “That’s all I do. Men in ties.”

“Looks a bit like a dodgy Fagin,” I said.

“When I was a kid in Perth and used to draw people,” said John, “I was always roundly criticised because I gave everyone a nose that looked like a dick. Just a big phallic nose. And I still do. Everyone ends up with this distended, bulbous thing.”

“What was growing up in Perth like?” I asked.

“When I was a boy, there was a news report which started: If you were to take a rifle and fire it down St George’s Terrace at midnight, you would normally hit nothing. Except last night, when you would have hit a stolen Army personnel carrier. A guy had broken into the barracks, stolen an Army personnel carrier and just driven it through the completely empty middle of Perth.”

“Nowadays,” I said, “that would go viral on YouTube.”

“I once watched a documentary,” John continued, “where a porn star was asked: What do you like? And she said: Well, I like stuff in my mouth. Because, since I was a child, people have been shoving things into my mouth. The interview didn’t take it any further than that but she said to cope with it she fetishised it.”

“Shoving things into her mouth?” I asked.

“Whether she meant dummies or dentists or abuse I don’t know,” said John. “I hope it wasn’t abuse. I took it to be more of a dental thing. Perhaps she just had a particularly bad reaction to oral dental work and needed to build something to cope with it. Strange, isn’t it?

This morning’s newspaper headline in London

This morning’s newspaper headline in London

“I woke up this morning to news of the massacre in Pakistan and I thought: That’s too difficult. 132 schoolchildren have been murdered. That’s too hard to process. But imagine the luxury of being able to say: That’s too hard to process. I mean, Life is too hard to process.

“I also just read the note points – the summary – of the CIA torture report and, as someone who’s into S&M, that makes very uncomfortable reading. You’re thinking Oh, that’s dreadful, but getting a faint tingle. S&M is a combination of the things that horrify you and sex.”

“Are you into S&M?” I asked.

“Hugely,” said John. “Hugely. I’m a bondage man.”

“Is it OK to quote that?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” said John. “I went to the face-sitting demonstration. I wasn’t there for no reason. I’m fascinated because, since coming to London, through all this ‘British repression’, you just have to say You know what I like? Bondage and other people will say Oh, yes, actually, I do too… and everyone comes out.”

“It’s not my thing,” I said. “I’m into M&S not S&M. I think it may be an English rather than a British thing. The cliché explanation is that it’s the English public school system does it…”

“I’ve been to a Scottish bondage club,” said John. “They were playing The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ The Impression That I Get, which is a great song for a bondage club.

“But the thing about English public schools… I went to an all-boys school in Australia and, on the first day of being in the ‘big school’, we were not given lockers, we were given these cages that were roughly the size of a boy. Within about an hour, a kid called Cayden had been shoved in and locked in one. He ended up getting stabbed with various things.”

“You should do an Edinburgh Fringe show about it,” I suggested.

“I did,” said John. “In 2012. It was called Blood and Charm.”

“Well,” I said, “that destroys any pretence I might have that I know what’s happening or happened at the Fringe. Why Blood and Charm?”

“I saw a show done by a very dear friend of mine and the opening line was: The things in this show didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean they’re not true. So I thought: What if I take a whole bunch of true stuff and I complement it with real fantasy nonsense – a lot of bloodthirsty fairy tales and things like that – and treat both with the same disdain? So I started with: My father killed himself.

“Did he?”

“Yes, my dad hung himself. So I thought I’ll weave that through and do this Hansel & Gretel thing and then this thing that sounds like it’s real and which ends with this zombie vagina and then…”

“What’s a zombie vagina?” I asked.

John Robertson - Blood and Charm

John Robertson – Blood and Charm at the Edinburgh Fringe

“The vagina of a zombie. It kills you. It’s the end of a story where this man looks at this woman and then suddenly this hand shoots out of her vagina and gouges out his eyes and pulls him in and eats him, really chomps on him.”

“Well,” I said, “I could say We’ve all been there… but…”

“All I ever wanted,” said John, “was to be isolated and left with my thoughts that may or may not be real.”

“Eh?” I asked.

“I thought, if I said that, it would make a good end to your blog.”

“It possibly needs explanation,” I suggested.

“I just wanted to be left alone with the people I love and the people I want to do strange and terrible things to and have a great time and make a great deal of money telling you what I think.”

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The Grotto of Comedy, blood in Bahrain and a British comic who might not exist

Bob at the bar of his Grotto last night

Bob Slayer at the bar of his merry Christmas Grotto last night

Last night I went to the media launch for promoter Bob Slayer’s December pop-up venue Heroes Grotto of Comedy in the City of London, just round the corner from the Bank of England.

It is in a building which apparently used to be one of the flagships of J.Lyons restaurants. In the course of the evening, I discovered I am the only person in Britain who did not know late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used to work for J.Lyons as a research chemist and came up with a new process for storing Lyons Maid ice cream. “And she invented the Mr Whippy ice cream,” added comic Lindsay Sharman.

The pop-up venue came about because Bob Slayer and Weirdos Comedy chap Adam Larter were trying to find somewhere to stage the annual Weirdos’ panto.

A busy list of comedy acts at the nightly Grotto

A busy list of comedy acts at the nightly Grotto

Having found a temporary venue, they then decided to add more shows. So now there are nightly shows 3rd-18th December, including charity shows in aid of Shelter and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

“In the first week,” said Bob Slayer, “we will be having Stompy, The Half-Naked Chef cooking up a festive show out in the street. You’ve seen the police out there. I think a man running around in his pants accosting City workers from 5.00pm is going to be…”

The assembled throng for the media evening included comedian Joz Norris pretending to be a reporter for the Horse & Hound magazine. No, I have no idea either.

Bob Slayer asked the assembled throng: “What did Adam Larter say to get you all here?”

“I told different people different things,” said Adam. “Some people were told it’s a party.”

John Robertson tied his wife Joe Marsh into her corset at theGrotto of Comedy last night

John Robertson tied his wife Jo Marsh into a corset before the Grotto of Comedy last night

I got talking to various people who will be performing at the Heroes Grotto, including performer John Robertson, recently returned from Australia, who told me he had met a man in the Middle East who asked him: “How are things in Brighton?”

“But I don’t live in Brighton,” John told the man.

“Yes you do,” the other man replied. “I read it in John Fleming’s blog.”

“Oh lord,” I said. “I should have recorded you saying that. It will sound good in my blog tomorrow. International readers.”

So I tried to get John repeat the story. But he got sidetracked.

Firstly by magician David Don’t (who will be appearing on the fringe of the Grotto shows most nights). He told me he had submitted a video to Objective Productions which may possibly be appearing on a TV show in January. It involves a trick that went wrong and burst into flames when he performed it at Pull The Other One comedy club. There is a clip of it online:

“And my house just caught fire last night,” he added.

“What?” I asked.

David Don’t checking nothing else has caught fire

David checking nothing else has caught fire

“We went away for the weekend and left the children in charge of the house,” he told me. “Florence, our daughter, phoned us and said: Don’t worry, dad, everything’s OK, but there’s been a fire in the house. The dishwasher burst into flames, but I put it out by pouring water all over it. The fire engines have come and taken it away and Clifford (the family dog) bit the firemen because he saw people rushing into the house with axes and big helmets and got frightened. But they had protective clothing on, so he didn’t manage to damage them too much.

“I was in Bahrain recently,” said John Robertson. “The promoters who booked me quite desperately tried to play down the fact it is a war zone.”

“A war zone?” I asked.

“Well,” admitted John, “Civil unrest… But ‘civil unrest’ is where only one side has an army and the other side is made up entirely of civilians who are being murdered routinely.”

Placid John Robertson at the launch last night

Placid John Robertson at the launch last night

“Are you sure you want to be quoted saying that?” I asked.

“I do. Well, they’re having me back in May.”

Inshallah,” said David Don’t.

“Yeah, Inshallah,” said John Robertson. “God willing. We were in a 5-star hotel. We were completely insulated from the entire world and then me and comic Liam Malone were walking down the street just trying to get anywhere that wasn’t a car park, because no-one walks in Bahrain, mostly because they’re being murdered…”

“Are you sure about saying this?” I asked.

“Yes. All we were told was: Don’t insult the King. Don’t insult the government. And we didn’t on stage. But I found their internet filter doesn’t filter out articles about dissidents being kidnapped and beaten. So I just hung out in the 5-star hotel room. I do want to go back to Bahrain.”

Brighton in England is probably safer than Bahrain

Brighton is safer than Bahrain but has considerably less sand

“Someone thought you lived in Brighton,” I prompted him. “You did used to.”

“Yeah,” said John. “And I also got in trouble last year because of your blog.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Last year,” said John, “I was on at Spank! at the Edinburgh Fringe and I was getting ready to completely die because my motormouth screaming was not quite endearing me to this audience of pissed-up scumbags and I found a little person actor – a dwarf – who wanted to crowd surf and we crowd surfed him around the room and he was told that, when he landed, his girlfriend would then remove one item of clothing to her comfort level. So she took off a sock. And, as they surfed him round the crowd, they chanted: Positive body image! Positive body image! and then I mentioned this to you in passing and you put it in your blog:

The blog that caused the aggro

A very offensive blog

“So then I got a text at 3.00am from a really gung-ho, socially-aware guy from Sydney saying: John! You can’t use the word dwarf! And I thought: But we’ve already thrown him! He really wanted to do it! Why are you so upset?

“Well, even without the Brighton story, there’s a blog there,” I said.

“You write a blog?” asked John. “I always thought that was not a phone in your hand. I thought it was a taser you liked to hold while people assaulted you with information.”

“All I wanted,” I told John, “was a little story about someone thinking you lived in Brighton. It wasn’t much to ask.”

“Well, you’ve got that,” said John, “and the future and, if we come over to this bar and order a drink, I will eventually de-materialise and we will never know if I was here or not.”

“I have saved so much money,” I said, “by not taking drugs and just hanging around comedians.”

Joz Norris having a reality check last night

Joz, with a cinnamon stick, having a reality check last night

A little later, I was talking with 25-year-old comic Joz Norris who said:

“I went to Cambodia and I had an epiphany that, if it turned out I was imaginary and everybody I knew had collectively imagined me 25 years ago, I think a lot of them would accept that. Which is not to say that I think they wouldn’t be sad. I do think they would be sad that I was not real. But I do think they would very quickly go: Yeah. It figures. The signs were there. That’s an interesting thing to think and to try to deal with in your head. Ooh! What if I AM imaginary?

“Maybe,” I suggested, “you just imagined you thought that.”

“What?” asked Joz. “The holiday in Cambodia?”

“Everything,” I said.

“Exactly,” said Joz. “It is difficult to prove any of this. The only place you really exist is in your own mind. Except possibly not.”

“Where else could you be?” I asked.

“Well,” said Joz, “if you are imaginary, then you don’t have a mind, so you can’t exist there. Maybe I only exist in your mind. Maybe people only exist in the pages of your blog.”

I imagine Bob’s Grotto will be ready in time for the first show

I imagine Bob’s Grotto will be ready in time for the first show

“But,” I said, “if you are imaginary, some person must be imagining you.”

“And that does imply it is you,” said Joz, “seeing that you are the person recording this.”

“But what if my blog does not exist?” I asked.

And perhaps it does not. It could be all in your fevered imagination, dear reader. Try to remember if you woke up this morning. Did you really awaken? Can you remember that exact moment when you regained consciousness?

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Faking publicity quotes and why you don’t want to sit in a chair in Perth, Oz

In June last year, John Robertson and Jo Marsh got married in a chicken shed in Australia. I blogged about it at the time and there is a video on YouTube:

John Robertson is a comedian and originator of the extraordinary stage show The Dark Room.

Jo Marsh worked as Programming Director at the Wild West Comedy Festival in Australia for two years, then got head-hunted by a businessman who owned the title Perth International Comedy Festival. She started that from scratch and built it into a multi-million dollar business in two years.

Last August, they were at the Edinburgh Fringe. Then they moved to Britain. First Brighton. Now London.

Why?

John and Jo join Sir John Betjamin in London

John & Jo join Sir John Betjeman in London

“The opportunities here are so vast,” Jo told me at St Pancras station (don’t ask – I just like it). “When you get an Arts job in Australia,” she explained, “you literally sit in your chair at your job and you make a little bum-crease in it and you never leave. In Western Australia, the only way people get Arts jobs is if other people die, because there are so few in Australia. The opportunities are greater here in Britain. The pubs are nicer. And real culture is being made in London.”

“So you moved to Britain to…” I prompted.

“To mess up your culture,” suggested John.

“Perth is lovely,” said Jo. “It’s a great place if you want to retire or make babies and it’s well-lit.”

“It’s incredible what the sun can do,” agreed John.

“In Perth,” explained Jo, “I learned as much as I possibly could but, if I stayed there, I would just be doing the same thing over and over again and I wanted to come here and learn more and do more and experience more than I would in Perth, which is the most isolated city in the world.”

“You managed, though.” John said, “in that isolation to create a beautiful boutique festival that was a huge commercial success.”

“But, having done that,” explained Jo, “I would just be…”

At that point, a man with no legs glided past us on a skateboard.

“Hello,” he said as he passed our table and then he was gone. It somewhat threw the conversation.

“I’ve got a follower on Twitter,” I said rather distractedly to Jo, “who claims he has had five Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award nominations. I’ve never heard of him. I think he’s a fake person. But Malcolm would have approved.”

“In Australia,” Jo told me, “people just say they’ve won an award because no-one’s going to check up. They’ll win the Least Most Annoying Song award and suddenly they say they’ve won the Best Comedy Song in Western Australia award. There was a Best Local Act award which got put on posters as Best Comedian, Western Australia. There are quotes like Amazing… Entertaining and the original quote was actually It’s amazing how un-entertaining this show is.”

Jo and John remembered publicity scams

Jo and John – Would you trust this man in a Dark Room?

“Just like the Edinburgh Fringe,” I said. “Do you know the Jason Wood story? He got a one-star review from Kate Copstick in The Scotsman and the next day Copstick is walking round Edinburgh and, on all his posters, Jason has put A STAR! (The Scotsman).”

“Someone we know,” said John, “uses the press quote A natural comedian… which is actually from a slightly longer quote which said Not a natural comedian. That’s a work of publicity genius.”

“There’s a story about Alan Carr,” I said, “which I think is true but might be apocryphal. In his early days, he is supposed to have put on his Edinburgh Fringe posters: Carr is the future of British comedy – which was an absolutely correct quote. It was not mis-quoting anything in any way. Except the quote was from a review of a show by Jimmy Carr not Alan Carr. Even if it’s not true, it’s an admirable example of lateral publicity thinking.”

“I was on BBC Radio Scotland,” said John. “I rocked up to do their Comedy Cafe. It was me, a little American woman ventriloquist and a really grumpy huge Irish guy who hated both of us. It began with the presenter saying: So, John, you’ve been named as one of Australia’s top comics and I think I’m not going to correct him. – The quote was actually One of Austrialia’s Top Ten young comedians and it’s from Zoo magazine and I’m on the list because the guy who wrote the list is a friend of mine and it came after an article – which he also wrote – that say’s he is the best comedian in Australia.”

“Should I plug The Dark Room?” I asked.

The Dark Room - could be bound to please

The Dark Room – some time in time in Holland

“Probably,” said John.

“You could say it’s won a Tony Award,” I suggested.

“Perhaps an Antonio Antonioni Award as best non-Spanish Spanish play by a non-Spaniard?” suggested John.

So?” I asked.

“It looks like we’re going to do The Dark Room weekly in a pub in London,” John told me, “and there’s a place in the Netherlands – Harlingen where we might do it sometime between this year and 2016.”

“At any point between those two dates?” I asked.

“Yes?”

“Why such a wide window of possibility?”

“No idea. I’m also doing The Dark Room at the Edinburgh Fringe again this year and possibly at a London theatre after that.”

“And probably,” I checked, “in Holland, but it could be any time between 2014 and 2016?”

“Yes.”

“But the exact date or dates is or are unknown.”

“Yes.”

“I feel I am in a dark room,” I said.

The Dark Room is also on YouTube:

On the subject of fakery, the bit about the legless man on a skateboard did not actually happen at St Pancras while I was talking to Jo and John.

It actually DID happen when I was talking to Gareth Morinan outside Bar Italia in Soho last week. It did not fit comfortably into that blog, but I felt it deserved to appear somewhere and it seemed to fit here. I needed a ‘bridge’ between unconnected quotes and the legless man seemed to fit. So it is true and yet untrue simultaneously.

Which seems apt here.

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