Tag Archives: La Cicciolina

How I was responsible for the sexual awakening of a comedian in the UK

Martin Soan enters his living room last night in SE London

The Soan home is now sans bicycle but with added fox hunter

Yesterday was an odd day.

A couple of nights ago, I had a meal with my eternally-un-named friend at the home of Pull The Other One comedy club runners Vivienne and Martin Soan. The bicycle had fallen off the wall in their living room, leaving a hole in the plasterwork which they had covered with a painting of a fox-hunting scene.

Martin told me he had started playing table tennis regularly with comedian Lewis Schaffer on a concrete ping-pong table in Peckham Rye Park in South East London. The object was to get healthier through exercise.

I sent Lewis Schaffer an e-mail:

“Next time you play ping-pong with Martin, take three photos and do a random phone or tablet sound recording for half an hour maximum – just of you two chatting while you play ping pong – and I’ll transcribe it and get a joyous blog out of it.”

I thought it would be quirky to do a ‘report’ on something happening when I had not actually been present.

Yesterday morning I was in Greenwich and got a phone call from Martin at about 11.30am saying he was playing ping-pong with Lewis Schaffer in Peckham Rye Park at noon and did I want to come along.

I did.

It was a mistake.

God did not want me to.

I put my iPhone by the ping-pong net on the stone table (after checking it would pick up their voices clearly) and I let it record for about ten minutes while they exercised by playing ping-pong. The iPhone is an astonishingly good recording device. But only if it is switched on.

I had forgotten to put it on Airplane mode.

Lewis Schaffer (lefty) exercising in the park yesterday with Martin Soan

Lewis Schaffer (lefty) exercising in the park with Martin Soan

After a few seconds, without me realising, someone texted me. This switched the recording off. Lewis Schaffer and Martin had talked interestingly while they played ping-pong, discussing Lewis Schaffer’s favourite topic: Lewis Schaffer’s failure in comedy and in life. At one point, Martin lay on the table, beaten down by Lewis Schaffer’s negativity.

At some point, I re-switched on the iPhone recorder.

“I’ve got such low self esteem,” Lewis Schaffer was saying, “there’s nothing they can say to bring me down. This year, I’m going to call my Edinburgh Fringe show Lewis Schaffer: Success Is Not An Option. What was I saying?”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t listening,” I told him.

“I know,” said Lewis Schaffer, “but you gotta record it. Stand-up comedy can’t go past where I’m going, because it’s post alternative, post mainstream. It’s like two train lines crashing together.”

I said: “You used the phrase ‘where I’m going’. Isn’t that a bit optimistic?”

“No,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Where I am. Where Lewis Schaffer is. What am I doing? Is it real comedy or is it anti-comedy?”

“OK, stand-up comedy, right?…” said Martin Soan. “I’m just de-constructing this like you want to…”

“I don’t want to,” said Lewis Schaffer, “but I know John likes it. I’m trying to give him what he wants… John – tell me what you want and I’ll say it. I’ll make it easier for you, John. Just say it yourself and say I said it. Nobody reads your blog when I’m in it anyway. I’m not Al Murray or Richard Herring. Is anyone interested in the stuff I have to say? What was your question, Martin Soan?”

Lewis Schaffer (left) tweaks Martin Soan’s red nose yesterday

Lewis Schaffer (left) tweaks Martin Soan’s red nose yesterday

“I’ve forgotten what I was talking about now,” said Martin. “Oh yes! Stand-up comedy in the traditional sense is telling gags with punchlines…”

“Which I do,” Lewis Schaffer said.

“…and you get a laugh at the end of it,” Martin continued.

“Which I do,” Lewis Schaffer said.

“So,” continued Martin, “take someone who’s not doing stand-up comedy but comedy – say maybe a man prat-falling or something like that. What’s funny about that? IT is funny because HE is funny. If you’ve got funny bones, you’ve got funny bones, which you have. And you’ve got gags as well. You’re just trying to find an advertising gimmick for your own…”

“No,” Lewis Schaffer interrupted. “You’re totally wrong.”

“You’ve got funny bones,” said Martin.

“I don’t have funny bones,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“You do have funny bones,” said Martin.

“I don’t have funny bones. I don’t know what that means, having…” Lewis Schaffer started to say.

“It means,” Martin interrupted, “that you’ve got… Whoa! Hey! Eeeeeehhhhh!”

Martin fell over. I think it was an accident. Maybe not.

Lewis Schaffer laughed.

We went to a cafe.

Lewis Schaffer had egg and beans on toast. I had a cup of tea. Martin Soan read the Daily Mirror. I left shortly afterwards.

Mr Twonkey: surrealist with a great voice

Paul Vickers last night in Soho – a surrealist with a great voice

Later in the day, I went to see Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra With Paul Vickers in the basement of Soho Theatre in London.

Paul Vickers is Mr Twonkey, a surrealist with lots of props and the impressive singing voice of an American rock star.

About 15 minutes before the show started, Paul came over to me and said: “I tried to persuade Lewis Schaffer to come to the show, but he said he couldn’t.”

“It overlaps with his radio show,” I said.

“I’m staying at his flat,” Paul told me.

“How long have you been there?” I asked.

“Since Saturday,” Paul told me.

“That’s too long to be with Lewis Schaffer,” I said. “It’s Monday now.”

“I know,” said Paul.

About ten minutes before the show started, I was unexpectedly joined by new wave architectural guru Blanche Cameron. I think she is stalking me. I keep bumping into her in comedy club cellars. There is no other logical explanation.

Chris Dangerfield (left) and Lewis Schaffer at Soho Theatre last night

Chris Dangerfield & Lewis Schaffer at Soho Theatre last night

About five minutes before the show started, we were unexpectedly spotted and joined by comedian Chris Dangerfield and a very clean-looking male friend. I thought Chris must be trying to clean his image up.

“I’m going to Thailand next week to try to clean up for my Edinburgh show,” he said.

This seemed an unwise destination.

He was wearing a black fez.

“Why are you wearing a black fez?” I asked.

“I had it specially made for me,” he replied, as if this answered my question.

About 15 minutes after the show started, Lewis Schaffer came in with his entourage Heather.

After the show, Paul Vickers aka Mr Twonkey told me: “John, you are responsible for my sexual awakening.”

“Am I?” I said warily.

“Well,” said Paul Vickers aka Mr Twonkey. “One of my sexual awakenings was seeing Kate Bush on Pebble Mill. “But the other was seeing La Cicciolina on The Last Resort With Jonathan Ross and you booked her.”

“Did I?” I asked. “I can’t remember.”

“That had a direct effect on me,” said Paul Vickers aka Mr Twonkey.

“Too much information,” I said.

Chris Dangerfield bids farewell to Mr Twonkey

Chris Dangerfield bids a fond farewell to Mr Twonkey

I went home. Lewis Schaffer, Blanche Cameron and Heather went off to Tufnell Park for some reason. Blanche told me it was another basement. Chris Dangerfield and his friend went off elsewhere in Soho. They seemed quite placid, not at all argumentative, but Chris seemed to think he might get the needle later on.

When I got home, there was an e-mail waiting for me from comedy critic Kate Copstick in Kenya. It said:

“Am mending. Meeting with the doctor tomorrow. Will tell when I can hope to fly back to Britain. Still a bit sort of generally knackered – dizzy spells and whatnot. But leg is coming along apace although letting go of either crutch is a long way off.”

But that is future blog.

Yesterday was an odd day.

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Odd news of enemas, buckets & Bitcoins from Germany, Sweden and Canada

BERLIN, GERMANY

Cabaret performer Matt Roper in Berlin - the home of Cabaret

Cabaret performer Matt Roper in Berlin – the home of Cabaret

Comedian Matt Roper has been forced to sleep in a doorway holding music legend Morrissey in his hands.

Matt is currently staying in a flat in Berlin which belongs to a musician friend of his who is on tour.

As there was a spare room, Matt had asked me if I wanted to stay there too.

It sounds like I was lucky I did not go. I got an e-mail:

“When I arrived here,” Matt told me, “I collected the keys from the neighbours, threw my bags into the hallway, then went out for the night to explore. I was kidnapped by two journalists from the Bild newspaper (the German equivalent of the Sun) who took me to various bars, ending up in a place where an exotic dancer performing onstage finished her act by sitting on a large bottle of Becks beer and opened it by bending over.

“When I got back to the flat at 2.40am, I realised I had been given the wrong set of keys. Well, the keys to the flat were fine, but I had not got one to the main door from the street. I had to spend the night in the doorway until somebody from the building left for work in the morning at 6.45am. I had trouble convincing him I was legitimately staying there. I do not speak much German and, in the intervening four hours, I had been sipping beer from a bottle and reading Morrissey’s autobiography so, by this point, was looking quite dishevelled.

“The next day,” Matt told me, “my card was cloned by some bastard in India who has plundered my current account of all its funds. And now I can smell gas coming from the flat below.”

“Well, gas and Germany tend to go together,” I told Matt when I Skyped him yesterday.

“The neighbours just said to ignore it and it has gone away,” he confirmed, then continued: “Listen. There’s an enema spa in Thailand I know very well. We should go one day next year. After the Edinburgh Fringe. Next September. You fast for ten days straight and take silium husk. I met Hermann Goering‘s niece there. You can have ten days of blogging with interesting characters talking about what they’ve passed that morning into a sieve. How can you resist?”

I told Matt I had put enemas behind me and was not interested.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Bob Slayer (right) met a man with drink in Sweden

When baldies collide: Bob Slayer (right) met a man on a bus

Shortly after talking to Matt Roper, I got an e-mail from comedian Bob Slayer.

“Yesterday,” it started, “I found an artificial leg in a park in Stockholm… There were signs of a struggle and half a broken step ladder. What can this all mean?”

I could not help Bob with any sensible explanation.

“This morning,” the e-mail coninued, “I was woken up in a closed shopping centre (also in Stockholm) by a security guard called Linus. Neither of us knew how I had got into the closed shopping centre and he complimented me on my sleeping place but – sadly – he told me that he had not seen my artificial leg… So that is now lost again.

“It would be lovely if you could blog about my new book Bob Slayer: The Happy Drunk. I have written it and Rich Rose has illustrated it. The pre-order via Kickstarter closes on Sunday.” (This means tomorrow to rapid readers of this blog.)

Bob’s Kickstarter target was £666 and, at the time of writing, he has raised £1,008, so I think it is likely the book may well appear.

Later, I got another message from Bob.

“I get a ferry to Aland for a gig,” it started. “Aland is an island between Sweden and Finland which is Finnish but they speak Swedish. The two countries argued over it for years and sorted things out with a treaty that made Swedish the main language and gave the island a high degree of autonomy. The first thing they did was get rid of all tax on booze. I love this place. It is a schizophrenic island full of piss heads…

“I have been to Aland several times before with bands. My gig is promoted by a man called Grulle. When I was managing the Japanese rock band Electric Eel Shock, we once took Grulle to the Hultsfred Festival. When we picked him up, all he was carrying was a bucket. It turned out to be his portable toilet complete with a seat. Grulle spent some very happy moments with his potty in the woods that weekend.”

Even later yesterday, I got a text message on my phone from Bob who, bizarrely, is a former racehorse jockey.

“I have met an old man called Björn on the bus to the ferry,” the text said. “He was a race horse trainer but, more importantly, he has wine and vodka. An important feature is that the booze is in bottles of vitamin water.”

I have heard nothing from Bob since.

VANCOUVER, CANADA

Anna Smith ignores the BBC in Canada

Anna Smith has some fishy yet true stories

When I told Anna Smith – this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent – that Bob Slayer was in Stockholm, she unexpectedly suggested I should immediately tell him that Sweden now allows public masturbation.

Sure enough, Time magazine and the UK’s Independent newspaper have both reported that a 65-year-old Swedish man was acquitted of sexual assault after “pleasuring himself” on a beach in Stockholm in June.

The district court of Södertörn tossed out the charge on the grounds that he did not look at anybody while fondling himself. Public prosecutor Olof Vrethammar told the Mitti newspaper that he had no plans to appeal and called the ruling “reasonable.” When asked if masturbating in public was now acceptable in Sweden, Vrethammar said public fondling was “okay” – as long as it was not directed towards a specific individual.”

Anna Smith lives in Vancouver, where the world’s first Bitcoin machine has now been installed in a branch of Waves coffee shop. Anna tells me:

“The coffee shop is opposite the British Columbia Supreme Court. I wonder if it will come in handy for criminals who are about to be sentenced to lengthy terms or ones who have just won their cases and need to convert currency or pay off people. I have noticed that men about to be incarcerated sometimes have absurd amounts of cash in their motel rooms.”

Anna has other things on her mind, too:

“I have started part time work in a used book store,” she tells me. “The place is always good for a laugh. The owners grumble about business, customers come in to rant and the elderly men are funny, trying to outdo one another with anecdotes. One elderly Indian man was crowing from the top of a ladder: I was there when Khrushchev stepped off the train in Bombay!  to which another geezer, who is blind and too unsteady to climb ladders but sings filthy doggerel, replied: My mother was an Irish nurse who marched with Mao across China!

Respected Italian politician La Cicciolina

The respected Italian politician La Cicciolina

“Directly opposite the bookstore is the Marble Arch Hotel, full of mentally-ill drug addicts, who used to fire projectiles at the store windows from their rooms. Fortunately, the City of Vancouver is renovating the hotel, so the whole building is enveloped in scaffolding and blue nets, making it temporarily impossible to shoot ball bearings. In better days, the hotel had a striptease club which featured such famous performers as La Cicciolina, the popular Hungarian-born Italian politician.

“I recently went to a Celebration of Life for Fijian princess and actress Freda Perry, which was held at a Ukrainian Orthodox Church. A banquet including extremely delicious curried lamb was served, Fijians sang prayers and there was a Kava ceremony, though I missed that bit.

“When I saw the Kava bowl I thought it was holy water, so I steered clear and was a little surprised when I saw a man scoop a mug of liquid out and drink it. Fijians are obviously a superior culture as their holy water is drinkable, and mildly intoxicating, whereas our European holy water functions mainly as a transmitter of influenza.

“Big news at the moment, though, is that Vancouver Police are being run ragged in their hunt for rogue dentists who are operating with impunity in secretive subterranean clinics.”

Sure enough, a piece in yesterday’s Globe and Mail newspaper reports that “British Columbia’s College of Dental Surgeons says there’s still no sign of rogue dentist David Wu, though it is proceeding with legal action against two other unlicensed practitioners and investigating even more… Illegal dental clinics tend to be underground and secretive, which the college has said makes them difficult to shut down.”

Vancouver continues to be high on my list of interesting places to be, although Matt Roper continues in his (frankly doomed) attempts to persuade me of the attractions of enema spas in Thailand.

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Filed under Canada, Comedy, Germany, Humor, Humour, Sweden