Tag Archives: Lindsay Sharman

“This is one of the best shows I have seen in 30 years of going to the Fringe”

Performing at the Edinburgh Fringe

So what did I see at the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday?

Alice Fraser: Savage
Everything you expect a confessional Fringe comedy show to be. Laughs and tears and death and sincerity.

Cheekykita & Mr Dinner: Dead Ghost Star
Everything you expect a surreal Fringe show to be. Laughs and large white spheroid heads and things you crack open to wave about.

Richard Gadd: Waiting For Gaddot
Everything you expect a Richard Gadd Fringe show to be. Funny, surreal and he uses a baseball bat to smash things. I will be interested to see how ‘proper’ reviewers attempt to describe this show, as it cannot be described without ruining the basic premise. But the clue is in the title. It is a solo show with Richard Gadd, Ed Aczel, Ricky Grover, Ian Smith and Ben Target. I have seen this idea done before but never written with such detail. And Samuel Beckett was not angling for a TV comedy series. The audience was very happy. I was with the audience.

Al Porter strikes camp in Edinburgh

The son of Max Headroom & Leslie Crowther

Al Porter: Al Porter Is Yours
The only people standing between (amazingly only 22-year-old) Al Porter and massive mainstream TV success are Alan Carr and Graham Norton. Camp and camp Irishmen are seen as a one-per-TV-channel niche. But calling Al Porter gay and Irish is a bit like calling the bombing of Hiroshima a slight popping sound. He is like the bastard son of Max Headroom and Leslie Crowther on speed spewing out what, in the past, would have been called filth to an adoring audience. Strangely old-fashioned and thoroughly modern. There must have been 4-5 laughs per minute for a whole hour with shrieks and belly-laughs from women, men, young, old, straight and gay. He appealed to them all.

Lindsay Sharman: The Madame Magenta Big Live Podcast Show Extravaganza
(Not in the Fringe Programme and not a podcast.) This charisma-fuelled show allegedly tells the true story of Christianity and is hosted in character as OTT-turbaned Madame Magenta. But just sit back and enjoy a comedy character romp from a lover of the English language who I suspect may end up a successful novelist (she has already written two). The audience yesterday afternoon included five Norwegians only two of whom, by the look of it, could speak English. The two who understood English laughed like Norwegian maelstroms (ie more actively than drains). The other three looked stunned, as well they might. I loved it.

It might be a Silly Musical but is not a Cinnamon one

This man was married in Disney World

Laurence Owen: Cinemusical
This show directly precedes Lindsay Sharman’s at the Voodoo Rooms. Laurence Owen is Lindsay’s husband. They married this year in Disney World.

Cinemusical is one man singing comic songs about the movies. But the phrase ‘comic songs’ is nowhere near a realistic description of these brilliantly composed and lyriced multi-layered showstoppers.

He had a room full to overflowing yesterday – his first show. So the word-of-mouth must have got around about his songs and his performance before he even arrived. As much as anything is certain (which nothing is) Laurence Owen is a sure-fire cert for success in the show business. Either writing musicals for London’s West End or Broadway or (with less personal fame but more money) Hollywood. Cinemusical, as performed by Laurence Owen, is one of the best shows I have seen in 30 years of going to the Fringe.

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Laurence Owen, comedy songsmith with a marriage made in Disney World

Laurence Owen

Laurence Owen – not a deceased female skater

“You’re doing quite well,” I said to composer/performer Laurence Owen when we met for a chat.

“I suppose so, “he agreed.  “There are now two Wikipedia pages on Laurence Owen – one is me and the other is a deceased female figure skater.”

“That’s good,” I said. “Your own Wikipedia page.”

“It is absurdly detailed,” said Laurence, “but I didn’t write it and I don’t know who did. There is information on there that I feel only my mum would know and I have asked her and it’s not her. It’s maybe a little frightening.”

“You’ll be writing a hit Christmas song next,” I said.

“I did write one two years ago,” laughed Laurence. “It was a fairly cynical experiment – to see if you could write ANY Christmas song and then release it on all the channels at Christmas and get it picked up.”

“And the answer is?” I asked.

Lawrence’s album: Lullabies of Pervland

Mr Lawrence’s highly original album: Lullabies of Pervland

“No. Not really,” said Laurence. “But I quite like it. It’s a cross between Bing Crosby and Paul McCartney. Christmas songs are all that jingle bells, sleigh bells rhythm aren’t they? My song was called called Kith and Kin and I shoved it onto the end of my Lullabies of Pervland album.”

“What was it about?” I asked.

“A Quasimodo-esque hideous evil twin who lives in an attic, watching the family from the rafters, looking down, wishing one day he might be invited to sit at the Christmas table. It’s very sad.”

“Are you sure,” I asked, “that you had your finger on the genre here?”

“Maybe that’s why it never took off,” agreed Laurence.

“Although,” I said, “on the other hand, the Pogues’ A Fairytale of New York is the most-played Christmas song of the 21st Century.”

“And that’s not a cheery subject,” mused Laurence.

“But your new Edinburgh Fringe show is…?” I asked.

It might be a Silly Musical but is not a Cinnamon one

Might be a Silly Musical but not Cinnamon

Cinemusical,” said Laurence, “which everyone keeps mis-hearing as Silly Musical, which I don’t mind. But it got introduced the other day as Cinnamon Musical, which I’m not so keen on. It makes it sound even camper than it actually is.

“It’s essentially a one-man musical… a sort of adventure story that consists of music from lots of different genres and is performed by me in the guise of various stock characters.”

“So there’s not one Laurence Owen presenting it?”

“No, no. I appear at the beginning to explain what I’m going to do because, at the first preview, I didn’t do that – just launched straight into it – and no-one knew what was going on. They sort-of enjoyed it but looked quite confused for the first half.”

“What’s not to understand?” I said. “It’s a man singing songs.”

“Yes,” said Laurence, “but I play five different characters in total, plus myself at the beginning. The first is the Disney character – the only thing I’ve kept from last year..”

“That’s the song,” I checked, “where you analyse the limited career potential for females in Disney movies?”

The wrong Laurence Owen - Women's Figure Skating February 13, 1961 X 7205 (Photo: Jerry Cooke)

A photograph of the wrong Laurence Owen (Photo: Jerry Cooke)

“Yes. So she begrudgingly resigns herself to being an evil queen on the grounds that it’s the only appealing option. But there is also the bird character she talks to in that song who is now also a character in his own right. The five characters each have a problem, basically, with the limitations of their genre. That’s the framework of the show.

“The characters have a main song each and, in each of those songs, they establish they’re not happy within the rules of their genre.

“The Disney princess character just wants a normal working business life because she’s ambitious and is fed up because she’s got to either become an amicable fairy godmother or die or become evil. The bird is annoyed because he’s only ever allowed to play novelty sidekicks. So, in his song, he’s campaigning for more lead roles for avian Americans. And so on with each character…

“It all ended up, rather by accident, a bit more issues-based than I had intended. But I quite like that. It’s sort-of got a serious point… ish. And they end up quoting Gandhi…”

“Gandhi?” I asked.

“Yeah. Well, it’s actually a fake Gandhi quote: Be the change you want to see. It’s a quote often attributed to Gandhi, but I think it’s like Elementary, my dear Watson – it was never actually said.”

“Except possibly by Russell Brand,” I suggested.

“Possibly,” said Laurence.

“What is married life like for you?”

“Great.”

Laurence recently married comedy performer Lindsay Sharman at Disney World in Florida.

Laurence & Lindsay - a marriage made in disney world

Laurence and Lindsay have a marriage made in Disney World

“I managed to go through our entire Disney wedding,” said Laurence, “without telling anybody I had written a Disney parody. I think I told our wedding planner that I was a composer, but never mentioned Disney. My dad kept trying to tell people and I was quite embarrassed. Maybe I should have let him.”

“You also wrote the music for The Golem,” I said.

The Golem was at the Young Vic, “ said Laurence, “then went to the Trafalgar Studios in London and has been to China and Russia. I don’t know where they are now – maybe Taiwan. They’re touring it all over the place.”

“And after Edinburgh…?” I asked.

Krazy Kat

Krazy Kat – coming back to a screen with re-scored music

“Well, last year Paul Barritt, the animator, made a load of short films loosely inspired by Krazy Kat – a pre-Tom and Jerry American comic strip about a cat and a mouse. He showed these films in Germany last year accompanied by a very very serious German new music, high Art, experimental orchestra.

“It worked well, but that orchestra are very expensive. When Paul was approached by David Byrne this summer for the Meltdown Festival on the South Bank, Krazy Kat was just too expensive. But then he thought – slightly too late for Meltdown – Why don’t I just get Laurence to do a new score for four players?”

I suggested: “Laurence should have thought of Laurence doing that.”

“I wouldn’t have presumed to ask,” said Laurence. “But we are now going to do that – 90 minutes of film with a live score – after the Fringe.”


A very well-produced video of Laurence’s showstopping Disney parody Empowered is on YouTube:

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An update, 2 un-named comedy shows & a monthly comic piss-up in a brewery

AN UPDATE

Rare sight - shy Copstick - at Mama Biashara

Kate Copstick, London’s Mama Biashara shop

A couple of days ago, I blogged about comedy critic Kate Copstick and her Mama Biashara charity’s work in Kenya. It ended with a part-description of one Somali woman’s very gruesome medical condition.

Recently, Copstick has been staging some comedians’ Edinburgh Fringe preview shows at her Mama Biashara shop in London, with all proceeds going to the charity. She has now posted an update on the case I blogged about:

The good news is that a chunk of the money raised at Sara Mason‘s lovely preview at the Mama Biashara Emporium has paid for medication and stuff that I sent down to Lamu – triple header antibiotics, topical antibiotics, cleaning hooha and a big diagram explaining it all. Gloves and swabs and stuff. Now just a few days into treatment, the sores are drying up, the swelling and the fever and the sickness are disappearing and the pus has stopped. She is really getting much better very quickly! The maggots are diminishing but, as I feared, are coming from inside. I am heading to Kenya on Sunday and hope to get to the lady and start to sort that out with more meds also paid for by Mama Biashara previews at the Emporium.


ONE COMEDY SHOW WITH AN UNCERTAIN NAME

Yesterday, I blogged about character comic turned author Lindsay Sharman.

Lindsay Sharman is at the Edinburgh Fringe in a show of some title

Lindsay is at the Edinburgh Fringe in a show called something

Yesterday afternoon I realised, when I transcribed our chat, that I had not asked the actual title of her upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show. I texted her a message:

I can’t find you in the Fringe programme. What’s the show title? One might have thought I would know this!

In the absence of an answer, I posted the blog. Several hours later, this little flurry of texts ensued:

LINDSAY
I’m not in it. Probably a mistake. But the whole show is potentially a mistake.

JOHN
I should, of course, have checked all this  before posting the bleedin’ blog, shouldn’t I? But I think professionalism is over-rated. So wot’s your show called? Where is it? Indeed, wot time? I might even come and see it.

LINDSAY
It has many different names. The preview is called Lindsay Sharman Gives Us The Willies – Comedy Museum, 30th July. In the PBH Free Fringe Programme, it’s The Madame Magenta Big Live Podcast Show Extravaganza, 2.40pm at the Voodoo Rooms. It’s not a podcast btw. And I sent it to Chortle, who might list it as Magenta Is The Warmest Colour. It is an exercise in ensuring low audience numbers and a miserable month. I am going to hire a flyerer.


A MONTHLY COMIC PISS-UP IN A BREWERY

Comedy accessed through a secret door

A secret comedy world suitably accessed through a secret door

After that little flurry of texts, I went to Al Cowie’s extraordinary and un-advertised monthly comedy show staged under his LLaugh! banner (yes, that’s LLaugh) in Wandsworth, which has been running for the last three years. It takes place in a brewery where the beer is free – they are not allowed to sell it and the show is advertised nowhere, therefore it is, in itself an interesting gig.

I had to follow e-mailed instructions to find the venue. This included going to a station, walking for about 10 minutes, crossing a 4-lane highway, doubling back on myself to reach a building site, finding a white door in an orange wall and waiting for a man in a white coat called John (the man, not the coat) to come and escort me to the venue inside The Old Ram Brewery.

It was worth the trip. It was Al Cowie’’s 40th birthday, the acts were Alexander Bennett, Josh Howie, Joz Norris and Stu Turner and the room was completely full.

The man in the white coat turned out to be John Hatch.

“What is this monthly comedy evening called?” I asked Al Cowie.

“The LLaugh ComedyThe Piss-up in The Brewery… I dunno… Whatever… It’s not called anything, because we’re not allowed to advertise it.”

“Why?” I asked.

Al Cowie drinks his own Laughing Juice brerw

Al Cowie drinks his own Laughing Juice brew

“Because… um… Well, we… We… We can’t advertise it bec… I… I don’t actually know why we can’t advertise it. We can say that we run comedy here monthly, but we can’t advertise… “

“We’ve survived for nine years without advertising,” said John Hatch.

“So,” explained Al Cowie, “in order for people to find out about it, people have to e-mail John – john.hatch@rambrewery.co.uk.”

“This is,” John Hatch explained, still wearing his white coat, “the longest continuously brewing site in the UK. We can trace it back to at least 1533 when a family called Ridon or Roydon owned it. There are two different spellings because, in those days, people just spelt things the way they wanted to. There is a record of there being a brewery in Wandsworth in 1512 which we assume might be the same one, but we can’t say it was continuous between 1512 and 1533. The Young family owned it from 1831 until 2006. I was with Youngs for the last 18 years.”

“What,” I asked John Hatch, “did this room the performances now happen in used to be?”

“The Tack Room,” he told me, “which was part of the stable building, built in 1896. There were 18 horses here when Youngs closed in 2006; I’m told there were at least 40 at its peak.”

“They must have been very popular with local gardeners,” I said.

Painting of John Young inside stables urinal

Painting of John Young inside a stables urinal

“John Young was a bit of an extrovert,” explained John Hatch. “The horses were kept here right to the end because he liked animals. He also had goats here, hens, a Dorset horned ram, peacocks, ducks and 17 guard geese.”

“Why?” I asked.

”Because he could,” explained John. “He was the chairman and he got his way. The geese were brought in to ‘protect the site from hostile takeovers’. The hens laid eggs for the stable staff. The goats were fire marshalls. He said they were a calming influence on horses during a fire and were more intelligent than horses. So, in the event of a brewery fire, they would direct the horses to the fire assembly points, set off the fire alarms, phone the fire brigade and do what goats do best.

“He had peacocks and hens and geese but, one day he decided he wanted an ostrich. Then he did research and found that ostriches can jump very high and, to raise the perimeter wall around the entire site would be very expensive. So he decided not to get an ostrich and thought: What can’t jump? I know! An elephant!

“So he ordered a baby elephant to go in the stables to keep the horses company. After a few weeks, he got a bit impatient when the elephant didn’t arrive. After a few months, he got very, very impatient and phoned up the suppliers of the elephant and shouted: Where’s my elephant! 

Joz Norris discovered the brewery’s royal connections

In a dark corner of the brewery, Joz Norris discovered the Queen Mother pulling pints

“They were surprised and told him: Oh, Mr Young, the order was cancelled months ago.

“What? he said. Who by?

“By your brother, they told him. Didn’t you know?

“So he didn’t talk to his brother for over a year. He was very, very angry about the lack of an elephant.”

“Did he,” I asked, “ever get an elephant?”

“Sadly not.”

“Was there,” I asked, “a practical reason for wanting either an ostrich or an elephant? I would not have thought they could serve the same function.”

“Most breweries need an ostrich or an elephant sometimes,” said John Hatch, without explanation.

“In later years,” said Al Cowie, “the company’s shareholders wanted to sell this place because the land was valuable. But John Young didn’t want to. So, at one company AGM, he turned up in a beekeeper’s outfit just to ‘keep the pests away’. Another year he had boxing gloves around his neck and said he’d fight anyone who wanted to sell the place.”

John Hatch reads the fire regulations to the audience amid birthday balloons

John Hatch reads the fire regulations to the audience last night, amid birthday balloons

John Hatch told me: “We do birthday parties, stag parties, quiz nights, any excuse for a party and, because I can produce 70 pints at a time, we can brew whatever you want.

“I need to brew the stuff and it has to condition for a couple of weeks but, if people want me to brew a funny beer with a funny colour or a funny flavour, I can do that. whereas a bigger brewery can’t afford to produce 1,000 barrels of specially-commissioned beer.”

The next comedy night will be on 5th August. The beer will be free. There will be no elephant in the brewery.

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Lindsay Sharman: comedy character and multiple adventure thriller author

Lindsay Sharman, comic and multiple author

Lindsay contemplates doing stand-up

“How well did your first book sell?” I asked character comic Lindsay Sharman.

“I broke even at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe,” she told me, “so everything since then has been pure profit. Edinburgh is great for offloading actual physical books. People can still go on my website for a hard copy of the first one (now re-titled Magenta is the Warmest Colour), which I will happily smear my musky scent all over, should they want. But I can’t afford to print actual physical books this time, so it’s just on Kindle and people are a bit more reluctant to go onto Kindle. ”

“So why are you doing a second book? It’s all hassle for very little profit.”

“You could say that about performing comedy. Why do we do any of this? We must be mental.”

“Are you hooked on the writing?” I asked.

“Yes, I do I enjoy it,” Lindsay told me. “And I do enjoy long-form rather than writing short sets or articles.”

“What’s this second book called?”

Madame Magenta and the Arcati Killer.”

“And you’ve written it, again, in your persona of Madame Magenta, the psychic?’

“Yes.”

Lindsay Sharman’s second book

Lindsay’s second Madame Magenta

The blurb says: Magenta and the Arcati Killer is a comedy detective novel told from the point of view of its eponymous heroine, a woman of flexible morality, an array of tasteful turbans.

“So this is an adventure thriller?” I asked.

“A murder mystery comedy adventure thriller,” explained Lindsay. “Basically, it crosses as many genres as possible so it’s entirely unmarketable.”

“That,” I suggested, “should surely make it more marketable?”

“You would think so,” said Lindsay, “but apparently sitting on several fences at once is uncomfortable.”

“Your influences?” I asked.

Tom Sharpe and his Wilt adventures and maybe a bit of Tom Holt. Anyone called Tom.”

“And,” I asked, “you are being Madame Magenta at the Edinburgh Fringe in August?’

Lindsay Sharman last night, as Madame Magenta

Lindsay Sharman performs as Madame Magenta

“Yes. It’s a story. It’s a bit risky. I’ve done it like the book. I’ve plotted it as a full narrative arc with Madame Magenta telling the story, taking the audience on a journey. It’s not as joke-heavy as a club set. I have no idea if it’s going to work.”

“What’s it about?”

“The true origins of Christianity and the conflict in the Middle East.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes. And it’s also going to be about gender politics.”

“Mmmm…” I said. “Are you doing previews?’

“One. I decided doing previews doesn’t help me. By the time you have an audience, it should already be in a state that’s alright. None of that writing-it-as-you-go comedian bollocks for me. I think comedians rely a bit too much on audiences telling them where they’re going wrong in the early stages.”

“People,” I suggested, “preview because they’re insecure?”

Lindsay Sharman compered last night

Lindsay does not like holding a piece of paper

“Yes, but there’s this bizarre thing with comedy where you’re supposed to develop quite a lot of your material on the hoof in front of audiences. When I first started, I found that really bizarre because you’re getting away with it on charm a lot of the time and the type of laugh you will get when you are holding a piece of paper and being self-deprecating about the fact it’s not entirely working is a totally different type of laugh to the one you will eventually get when you’ve honed that joke. It doesn’t work for me. What works for me is using my own comedic intuition to get it as good as possible and then presenting it.”

“That’s more of a writer’s approach,” I suggested. “Writers don’t show potential readers their draft versions. Are you becoming a writer more than a performer?”

“I’m not getting the same buzz out of performing,” Lindsay admitted. “It used to be massive highs and massive lows. Now it’s all: Oh, alright. OK… I don’t know what it was I was getting out of it before that I’m not getting out of it now.

“Maybe part of my problem is I don’t necessarily want to appeal to a bunch of people who’ve had a few drinks and who would probably actually prefer to chat to each other because I am just part of their night out. It doesn’t bother me that much if they don’t like me – and that’s not good. I need to care if they like me and I don’t know if I do any more.

Lindsay Sharman

Lindsay decided not to do stand-up

“Actually, about two years into performing comedy, I utterly lost interest in doing stand-up. So then I switched to doing characters, got a new burst of life and then it was almost the same amount of time after I started losing excitement in that too. I’ve had some really boring jobs where, for the first six months, I thought: This is alight. I don’t mind this. and then, one day, I just couldn’t be fucked with it any more.”

“You just married Laurence Owen last month,” I said. “Bad news for him in 2017.”

“Yesterday’s potatoes,” laughed Lindsay.

“Potatoes?” I asked.

“Isn’t that an expression?”

“I don’t think it is.”

“Oh.”

“You were saying you lost interest in stand-up.”

“I don’t like it to be about me, because I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business. I don’t want to have to explain myself. I prefer stories about made-up stuff – though I don’t like the storytelling show stuff.”

“Why?”

Lindsay performed  in London last night

Lindsay’s glass seen as half fool or half empty?

“Because, again, it’s focussing on ‘real’ stuff and I find reality boring and depressing.”

“Boring and depressing?”

“Yeah. Although some comics manage to make it funny and uplifting. Only a few people can do that well, though. Know your own limitations. It’s not me. I’ve always preferred to live in a realm of fantasy. When I was a kid, I mainly read science fiction and fantasy. For a long time I sat down and tried to write ‘real’ stuff about me. That’s what supposedly works as a stand-up. But it’s not me.”

“Perhaps,” I suggested, “fantasy stand-up could be the new comedy.”

“I like John Henry Falle,” said Lindsay.

“The Story Beast…” I said.

“That’s sort of fantastical ludicrousness,” said Lindsay. “It’s much better than all that Oh, I’ve really suffered but it’s funny because now I can be self-deprecating but still cool. I think I like escapism.”

(Updated HERE)

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Two comedy performers to have fairytale marriage in Disneyland

Laurence Owen & Lindsay Sharman

Laurence Owen and Lindsay Sharman at last night’s party…

Last night, I went to the engagement party for performers Lindsay Sharman and Laurence Owen. They are getting married at Disneyland.

“Yes,” said Laurence. “We’re taking ourselves off to Florida as a… erm… sort of… a…”

“Marriage?” I suggested.

“Yes,” said Laurence. “We’re getting married. That’s the main gist of it. For ten days in May.”

“That,” I said, “is a long marriage by American standards.”

“Well,” he replied, “if we get through ten days, we know it’s going to be alright.”

“Why get married at Disneyland?” I asked. “Have they heard your song?” (Laurence has a wonderful humdinger of a Disney pastiche song.)

“That’s the thing,” he explained. “Disney looms very large in our lives. As a kid, I used to go to Paris Disneyland with my dad. And, about this time last year, Lindsay and I had a week with no gigs in and I was temporarily homeless – between flats – so we went to the Paris Disneyland and we had a really amazing time there. Then we went again in September, immediately after last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

“I had this idea that, in January this year, I would pop the question to Lindsay. Then she sort-of beat me to it. Cos we were chatting by text late on Christmas Eve – Christmas Day early morning – and we just got talking about Disney weddings and decided to go on from there, pretty much. So that was it.”

“Proposal by text?” I asked.

“Proposal by text. We’re thoroughly modern.”

“I didn’t realise,” I told him, “that Disney do marriage packages.”

“Oh yes,” said Laurence. “For your basic package, you get a location for a ceremony. We have a gazebo next to a big lake and there’s a pirate ship by the lake and it’s themed like a 1920s boardwalk-type thing; it’s all very nice.”

“And it’s more expensive to have the castle?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” said Laurence. “And, if you pay $3,000, you can arrive in the Cinderella pumpkin coach and you have two footmen.”

“Frogs?…” I started.

“For that price,” said Laurence, “you would hope so.”

“… or English?” I concluded.

“Maybe,” said Laurence. “And, as well as those guys, you get two buglers who will announce your arrival on long trumpets with flags hanging off them. You have to pay through the nose for that, though. And, if you want to have Mickey Mouse present, you have to pay another $900.”

“Are Mickey, Donald and Goofy all the same price?” I asked.

“Any costume characters,” explained Laurence, “you have to pay $900 each. So, if you want Mickey and Minnie together, that’s $1,800.”

“I wondered if maybe Goofy was relatively cheap.,” I said. “Who wants Goofy officiating at their marriage?”

“Possibly,” said Laurence. “On a sliding scale of Disney characters, maybe if you only want Pluto, you could get him for fifty quid.”

“You’re getting married on May 6th…” I said.

“Yes. We tried to get May the Fourth because that’s Star Wars Day, but they were full up on that day.”

“Of course!” I said. “Disney now own Star Wars. So you could have Stormtroopers in attendance. The ultimate white wedding.”

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A comedy performer, an entrepreneur and a desperate blogger talk about sex

Adam shows off his lady lifting skills in Soho

Adam Taffler is good at picking up women

Yesterday’s blog was a chat I had with comedy performer Lindsay Sharman at the Soho Theatre Bar. By coincidence, also sitting at the table, was showman/promoter Adam Taffler. After I had finished chatting with Lindsay, Adam joined in.

“It would be great,” said Adam, “to have a pop-up venue to encourage new artists and to have a place where people like Lindsay can do her shows.”

“Not a money-making venue, then,” mused Lindsay.

“You could have one floor,” suggested Adam, “where you just have people coming in to freelance and type. Hot desk spaces. And, for some shows, people could come in and wear blue overalls and they get in there and throw grunge at each other. And you could have Bob Slayer in one room, Martin Soan in another room and John Robertson down in the basement doing some crazy shit. Great fun.”

Lindsay asked: “Can you find anything like that place Bob Slayer found for his Christmas Grotto in the City of London?”

“Well, I’ve got something up my sleeve,” said Adam. “But we’ll see. I’ve got some ideas. I want to start a little hot tub cinema in my basement in Fitzrovia.”

An irrelevant film poster for Fifty Shades of Grey

An irrelevant movie poster for a sex film in a desperate bid to get blog hits

“So,” I asked Adam, “you would have Hot Tub Cinema presents Fifty Shades of Grey?

“No,” said Adam. “Something like Ghostbusters and we would have marshmallows and stuff.”

“How many people can you fit into a hot tub?” I asked.

“Depends how big it is. Six to eight?”

“And I suppose,” I said, “it depends how friendly you want to be.”

“Yes it does,” agreed Adam.

“You should,” suggested Lindsay, “do what you did with Doctor Brown – take people off to the Welsh countryside but do it in whatever weird format you want to try-out.”

“It’s going that way,” Adam told her. “I’m doing one next weekend called The Winter House Party.”

“A bit like the Summer House Party?” I asked.

“Except in the winter,” explained Adam. “And I’ll be doing some interesting things there.”

“Wasn’t there an orgy involved in the Summer House Party?” I asked. “Everything you do involves orgies.”

“It wasn’t an orgy,” Adam corrected me. “It was about sexual liberation.”

“I’m a child of the 1960s,” I said. “I said it was Free Love and you said: Oh no, it’s not Free Love. It’s something else. I think you said it was about £55 a throw.”

“It’s Sex Positive,” said Adam. “The 1960s probably weren’t the best time for women’s liberation.”

“Sex positive,” Lindsay pointed out, “sounds a bit too much like HIV Positive.”

John Knox, a Scots Presbyterian

John Knox, revered Scots Presbyterian with beard

“I was brought up as a Scots Presbyterian,” I said. “That’s all about sex negative.”

“I think it’s the next big thing in London,” Adam said.

“Scots Presbyterianism?” I asked.

“Sex Positive. Sexual liberation.”

“Well,” I said, “the cultural impact of Fifty Shades of Grey…”

“That is not a cause,” said Adam. “It’s a symptom of the thing that’s…”

“I actually wonder,” said Lindsay, “if people are becoming more prudish. Apparently teenage pregnancies are down.”

“That’s good,” said Adam.

“I was reading something,” continued Lindsay, “saying that the amount of really quite alarming porn that’s out there is actually turning youngsters off sex. And, if you look at history, it’s prudish – backlash against prudery – prudish – backlash against prudery.”

Fifty Shades of Grey,” I suggested. “There’s a backlash there.”

“It’s a wheel, a circle,” said Lindsay.”

Adam Taffler appears to attempt a bad demonstration of Fleming’s Left-Hand Rule while chatting this week

Adam Taffler appears to attempt a bad demonstration of Fleming’s Left-Hand Rule while chatting last week

“It was worth having Oliver Cromwell,” said Adam, “just to have the Restoration afterwards, where things were filthy.”

“But then,” said Lindsay, “the Victorians were very prudish.”

“But I do think,” said Adam, “that every time you come to a new level of understanding. The great thing about the Sex Positive scene is about embracing sexuality in a healthy way and exploring it and you can’t limit your sexuality to the bedroom.”

“The pavements,” I suggested, “are going to get slippy. There will be accidents.”

“It sounds unhygienic,” said Lindsay. “You’d have to carry wet-wipes everywhere. It’s because whatever the previous generation did you don’t want to do, so you do the exact opposite. So, actually, we might be due a prudish period.”

“There’s loads I want to say,” mused Adam, “but I don’t want to open my mouth.”

“Well,” I said, “you grew up living the hippie life in the fields of the West Country.”

Lindsay Sharman makes her point this week

Lindsay Sharman makes her point last week

“You don’t like being called a hippie, do you?” Lindsay asked Adam.

“His parents were hippies,” I told her.

“No they weren’t,” said Adam sharply.

“They certainly were when they got mentioned in my blog,” I told him.

“My mum started a community in Wales…” Adam started to explain.

“Hippies,” I said.

“…and we lived in canvas structures,” Adam continued.

“Hippies, I said.

“It’s not a bad thing,” Lindsay suggested to Adam, “labelling someone a hippie.”

“But,” he argued, “a label sometimes defines something in a way that isn’t useful, because then you can’t understand all the nuances of it. But an audience can understand a generalisation, so…”

“Do you think,” asked Lindsay, “the word ‘hippie’ has negative connotations?”

“For me it does,” explained Adam. “I fucking hate hippies. I used to do all these festivals with them. All these people wafting around…”

“You grew up in a community living in wigwams,” I asked, “but you weren’t hippies?

Adam Taffler, underground entrepreneur (Photograph by Kirsty Burge)

Adam prefers Bohemians to hippies (Photograph by Kirsty Burge)

“Not in my understanding of it,” replied Adam. “The word ‘Bohemian’ is one thing. But ‘hippie’ to me has connotations of someone who doesn’t really do anything and complains about everything and thinks they’re really kind-of right-on. The people I hang around with now do loads of stuff. They’re intelligent, creative, they’ve got an open mind…”

“So they’re not drop-outs from Society,” said Lindsay.

“That’s right,” agreed Adam. “And, for me, ‘hippie’ does have that connotation.”

“I think of hippie,” explained Lindsay, “as someone who integrates a bit of Eastern mysticism with a Western way of life but in alternative lifestyles.”

“I think Sex Positive,” said Adam, “is interesting people who are trying to do something, looking at ways of re-inventing culture, having new ways of relating to each other which are not always sexual.”

“But,” asked Lindsay, “is polyamorousness quite prevalent in your…”

“Well,” Adam told her, “when I first came across that at hippie festivals, everyone who said I am polyamorous sounded to me like a complete arsehole who just wanted to have sex with lots of people. Whereas, in the Sex Positive scene in London, I’ve met some pretty cool couples who I really respect who do have multiple relationships and it comes from a very strong core of love for each other and I think it works well for them… Though so much can go wrong in those situations.”

“How long have those wonderful relationships lasted, though?” I asked. “Five years?”

The "love outside the box" symbol, sometimes used to represent non-monogamy, polyamory, and LGBT relationships,

Love Outside The Box symbol, sometimes used to represent non-monogamous, polyamorous and LGBT relationships.

“Yeah, four, five years at most.”

“Yes,” said Lindsay, “I don’t know that it’s a long-term strategy.

“The thing is,” argued Adam, “we’re all different and all have different boundaries. What’s good is just to be adult and to communicate with each other what those boundaries are and to explore them. So for some people it might be right; for other people it might never be right.”

“Well, some people,” I said, “think buggering badgers is wrong, but we’ve all been there, haven’t we?”

There was a slight pause.

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Lindsay Sharman, baptised with a head hunter, is writing a play for Edinburgh

Lindsay Sharman, ex-Christian

Lindsay Sharman, ex-Christian, remembered headhunter this week

“I got religious when I was in Brunei,” comedy performer Lindsay Sharman told me a couple of days ago. “I went to a Chinese Baptist church and they were very nice people.”

“How,” I asked, “do the Chinese Baptists differ from the British Baptists?”

“They speak Chinese,” Lindsay replied. “Though they also spoke English, which helped. I got baptised at the same time as a head-hunter in his nineties. Well, he was an ex-head-hunter. He didn’t hunt heads any more, because he was now a Christian and ancient.”

“What turned you on to Christianity?” I asked.

“Jesus seemed like a nice chap and I thought the world lacked a bit of mystery and magic and I was looking for that.”

“Your father worked for the Shell oil company?” I asked.

“Yes. My parents were agnostic, though my mum suddenly got religious about ten years ago. I stopped believing when I was about 14.”

“Why?”

“I was kind of going off it for a while, In fact, as soon as I got baptised, it was kind of like TICK! Done that! – I think I expected some kind of change and nothing happened and then my father died when I was 14 and I think that tested me a bit more as I was getting no comfort from the idea that he had gone to heaven because I found the whole idea faintly ludicrous.”

“What age did you go to Brunei?”

Lindsay Sharman

Lindsay Sharman was once younger

“We went out when I was 8 and returned to England when I was 14. At that time, it was Moslem in the same way England is supposedly Christian. Although not any more, because the Sultan’s now gotten Islamic. He’s turned super-Moslem. Women are getting stoned for adultery out there now. There was none of that in my time. No-one covered up when I was there: it was all shorts and T-shirts and vests. Although, two years into us being there, the country did go ‘dry’ and they banned karaoke. I was very upset because I had been going to have a karaoke birthday party. I was 9; it was a big thing to me.”

“And now,” I said, “you’re writing a play about religion for the Edinburgh Fringe in August. What’s it called?”

Lindsay Sharman Gives Us The Willies. It’s not really a play. It’s one of those weird Edinburgh things that can only exist in Edinburgh. It’s a play insomuch that it’s not going to be stand-up comedy and it’s going to have a narrative. But don’t ask me details. Everything might change by August.”

“What,” I asked, “was the original, basic idea?”

Mel Brooks once told me to open my mouth when being photographed

Mel Brooks once told me to always open mouth in photos

“The Gospel according to Mary Magdalene, done as a New York Jew: a bit Joan Rivers-esque. I thought I would link the fact they were all Jewish to comedic Jews and the immediate thought for me was Mel Brooks style fast-talking.

“I tried that out and it did go quite well, but then I thought it could be a play-within-a-play. What I don’t like about the Edinburgh Fringe – or what I feel I have to be flexible about in Edinburgh – is that the audience comes into a room which is not actually that suited to performance and you don’t necessarily acknowledge it. I don’t like that. I don’t like watching a show where they haven’t acknowledged they’re in a room in Edinburgh at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

“So I wanted to fit it into something which allowed her not to be at The Jerusalem Head tavern in wherever. I wanted to acknowledge the fact it was a show in Edinburgh. So then I had the idea of a play-within-a-play about Mary Magdalene but everyone’s buggered-off because it’s the most offensive play there has ever been. All the actors have fucked-off, so it is an audition for new actors and all the audience are potential actors and I am going to audition them. This is my current idea. But it might change out of all recognition in the next few months.”

“So it has continuity of time and place…” I said.

“Yes,” Lindsay replied. “But, at the same time it will be dipping in-and-out of this ‘most offensive’ play about religion.”

“And it’s called Lindsay Sharman Gives Us The Willies…?”

“Yes. Though it might bear no relation to… Well, it might do… There’s going to be stuff about circumcision in there.”

“Cutting edge…” I said.

A Penitent Mary Magdalene by Nicolas Régnier,

Jewish Mary Magdalene by Nicolas Régnier

“Because it’s a play-within-a-play,” Lindsay continued, “it’s going to look at all the issues in the world at the moment. So, for once, I’m going to do something topical. Usually I don’t do anything topical.”

“Burning Moslems?” I asked.

“I might tip-toe around that a bit.”

“Is there a serious kernel to it?”

“Maybe. Who knows? Don’t ask me details. Maybe. I don’t know if there is a way of avoiding the seriousness of the topic. Though you can take any serious topic and give it a light treatment. It will still be totally absurd. And the play is partly going to be about social control and how religion forms part of that. If one person has a beard, everyone has to have a beard. Except the women, of course.”

“Why of course?” I asked. “Will it have multiple characters?”

“It will have… Maybe. Who knows?… Don’t ask me too many details at this point, because it could all change.  I’ve got other things to think about: I’m trying to write a book at the moment.”

Lindsay Sharman last night, as Madame Magenta

Lindsay Sharman performs as Madame Magenta

“Another one?”

“Yes. I’m almost there. I’ve got about four more chapters and then I’m finished.”

“What’s the pitch?”

“It’s a whodunnit, a murder mystery. It’s really complicated, whereas the first one was just ridiculous, so I could vomit that out in no time. “

“A whodunnit in the traditional drawing room sense?”

“Sort of. Yeah. I guess so.”

“Featuring Madame Magenta?”

“Yes.”

“Written in the first person…”

“No. It’s got different perspectives. It switches perspective every couple of chapters.”

“When is this being unleashed on the nation?”

“In about a week and a half.”

“But you haven’t finished it yet!”

The cover of Lindsay Sharman’s novel

Lindsay Sharman’s first Magenta novel

“I’ve got about 10,000 words to do. I can do that in a week and a half. I did the first book in about three and a half weeks.”

“What’s the new book called?”

Magenta 2: The Reckoning.”

“It’s not, is it?” I asked.

“Why not?” I think titles are over-rated.”

“What about My Night of Sex With Tom Cruise and an Armadillo?”

“That’s probably my third book,” said Lindsay.

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