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Uncategorisable act Worbey & Farrell won’t be playing the Edinburgh Fringe

The act formerly known as Katzenjammer at the Fringe

Steven Worbey and Kevin Farrell met while studying at the Royal College of Music. They formed their Katzenjammer act in 2003. Their ‘hook’ was that they play the same piano simultaneously – a ‘four hands, one piano’ musical act.

Their current selling blurb is: “They’ll astound you by pushing the boundaries of their instrument, using it in unconventional ways to mimic the sound of a full symphony orchestra!”

But they are no longer called Katzenjammer – they haven’t been for ages. Since 2008, they have been simply Worbey & Farrell.

“Why the name change?” I asked.

“With Katzenjammer,” Steven Worbey told me, “there was a Norwegian girl band who came out and started to do very, very well and started going international. Although we had the name Katzenjammer in the UK and Europe, they had the rights in America. So we thought: We might as well change now, while we’re about it.”

“And then,” said Kevin Farrell, “when we put up on Facebook Has anybody got any suggestions for a new name? quite a lot were inappropriate.”

“Well, yes,” said Steven.

“Such as?” I asked.

“Well,” said Kevin, “the one that kept on coming up was Two C***s on a Stool…”

“More than once!” laughed Steven.

“…from people” Kevin laughed, “that didn’t know each other!”

“Well,” I said, “a stool does have an unfortunate other meaning.”

“Much as we loved that name,” Kevin explained, “we couldn’t really use it because we were about to do a concert with the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra and we did not think Carnival of the Animals with the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra and Two C***s on a Stool would have sold the concept well to the schools audience.”

Steven Worbey (left) and Kevin Farrell are breaking through

“So Worbey & Farrell you became,” I said. “Claire Smith of The Scotsman – who once lived in a tent in your back garden throughout the Edinburgh Fringe – told me you don’t want to play the Fringe next year but, instead, you are going to play the Usher Hall in Edinburgh next Thursday (30th November, St Andrew’s Day). Why?”

“The thing is,” Kevin explained, “we have had a fantastic time doing the Festival but the struggle for us is that the bookers for what we do don’t really go up to the Fringe. It’s more theatre and comedy orientated. We have had a problem in the past being reviewed as a comedy act and we’re not. We are a sort of classical music act that is unpretentious and we make it quite fun. We are quite happy to put Lady Gaga next to Rachmaninov or whatever. And we don’t fit into one single category.”

“Would you not be better,” I suggested, “listed in the Cabaret section of the Fringe Programme?”

“Even that is wrong,” said Kevin.

“Yes,” agreed Steven. “It’s not quite right, because there’s a lot of classical music and, y’know. We are in-between.”

“You are hyphenates,” I suggested.

“We are,” agreed Steven.

“The problem is,” said Kevin, “that, if we went into the Cabaret section, we would only get cabaret bookers and, although we have done cabaret venues in London, generally their pianos are not up to it, because our arrangements are huge and they’re getting bigger. It does require a big Steinway Grand to get the full…”

“At least” said Steven, “the Usher Hall comes with three Steinway Grands for us to choose from, so we haven’t got to spend thousands of pounds hiring one.”

“Most of our audience at the Fringe,” said Kevin, “are locals anyway. Ironically, we will make more profit doing one night than we did doing 23 nights at the Fringe.”

“And it gets you more prestige?” I asked.

The interior of the Usher Hall in Edinburgh: always impressive

“Well,” said Kevin, “it has helped us book the Cadogan Hall in London next year and we’ve also booked the Brighton Dome with the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Usher Hall again for next year. There is a kind of snob value to it. More people are likely to come and see you in a big venue, even if they don’t know who you are, as long as you get the title right. Ours is just  Rhapsody in Blue.”

“There is,” admitted Steven, “a bit of a risk to it as well, of course, filling a hall like that. But we are doing OK.”

“We are doing very well,” said Kevin. “And, as we are doing the Usher Hall, the powers that be in the classical world are sitting up and taking note of us now. We have been around for ages, but now they realise we are not going to go away.”

“You have played in over 150 countries,” I prompted, “including Papua New Guinea.”

“It took us 40 hours to get there,” said Kevin, “and the last flight was nearly cancelled because the volcano was erupting, but we flew through the ash and got there in the end.”

“Not the Icelandic volcano?” I asked.

“No,” said Steven. “There was one in Papua New Guinea that was erupting.”

More than music was on the menu in Papua New Guinea

“What was disturbing,” continued Kevin, “was that they had only recently ruled out cannibalism. They eat berries from the trees. It sends them high, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” agreed Steven. “They’re all high. They’ve all got red teeth.”

“I didn’t like the way they looked at us,” laughed Kevin.

“No,” agreed Steven. “It was a funny old place. Just a few years previously, they had lowered old ladies into the volcano because they were…”

“…witches,” said Kevin.

“Yes,” said Steven. “It is a very odd place.”

“Did you,” I asked, “play Papua New Guinea because you were playing Australia?”

“No,” Steven replied. “We left from here in the UK and the following gig after that was…”

“…Berwick-upon-Tweed,” said Kevin.

“So the reason,” I asked, “for playing Papua New Guinea was just because it existed?”

Steven and Kevin have flown hither & thither to entertain

“Yes,” said Steven.”

“That week,” said Kevin, “we played Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Newark Palace Theatre, Papua New Guinea, Berwick-upon-Tweed.”

“That’s right,” said Steven. “Lots of Germans there.”

“No, that was Namibia,” said Kevin.

“There were Germans in Namibia as well,” said Steven.

“I can’t remember,” said Kevin.

“It’s all sand dunes,” said Steven.

“We have,” said Kevin, “played in some strange places.”

“Yeah,” said Steven.

“Different cultures,” I said.

“You can,” Kevin said, “be walking around in South Korea, especially on a Friday night, and men in suits will suddenly fall over flat on the ground, because they’re pissed out of their brains. And you just leave them there, because it is disrespectful if you point out they are pissed or try to help them. You just see all these drunken men in suits lying along the streets.”

“It is basically,” said Steven, “like Wakefield.”

“They drink this very strange red liqueur,” said Kevin.

“In Wakefield?” I asked.

“Oh my God; the Koreans are so lovely!”

“South Korea,” said Kevin. “We were in a bar there last time and were saying: Oh my God; the Koreans are so lovely! They don’t seem to have any violence! And then there was this bottle being hurled across the bar by this girl at another girl who had disrespected her and she wanted to kill her. They were holding her back and we thought: Shit! We spoke too soon!

“Sounds like Glasgow on a quiet night,” I said. “The Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Thursday will be different.”

“Audiences are different all over the UK,” said Steven. “The brightest audiences we have found – the ones you can’t fool – are from Yorkshire.”

“Except maybe Wakefield,” I suggested.

“The further south you go in England,” said Kevin, “the more politically correct. You have to be careful. It’s very strange. What goes down well or not.”

“So Geordie-land is different from Kent?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” said Steven. “Completely.”

“Yes,” agreed Kevin.

“We could get in trouble here,” I said, “but is the North of England more Old School?”

“That is a way of putting it,” said Steven. “You get away with a little bit more in the North of England.”

“But in Scotland,” said Kevin, “the further you go up, the more religious they become.”

“And the further West,” I said.

In Scotland, ya cannae please all of the Papal all of the time

“When we were Katzenjammer,” Kevin told me, “we used to sing a song about the Pope…”

“Oh dear,” I said.

“…and,” Kevin continued, “Oh my God! We practically had death threats. But now, since 2011, Geoffrey Durham directs us and, when he came in, he just stripped the whole act down. We were a variety act and he took out all the songs. He wanted us to do more classical music and he makes sure that everything we do is at the same level.”

“He’s a genius, really,” said Steven. “We don’t try anything unless we run it past Geoffrey first.”

“This is Geoffrey Durham as in Victoria Wood’s ex-husband?” I checked.

“Yes,” said Kevin.

“Someone compared your act to Victor Borge,” I said.

“Everyone wants to pigeonhole,” said Steven. “We’re not. Victor Borge did very little music. They’ve also said we are a bit like a suited-and-booted Hinge & Bracket. But they didn’t play long classical pieces or anything like that, so… Everyone wants to pigeonhole you.”

“You are not going back to Papua New Guinea?” I asked.

“I doubt it,” said Kevin.

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Corduroy LPs, a gay film & the luvvie… Who? – We dare not speak his name…

The energetic and saintly David McGillivray.

Cough, cough. I have a cough. I am now on antibiotics.

But, earlier in the week, I went to yet another launch by film producer, critic and cult movie aficionado David McGillivray.

Last week, he was launching a twice-the-original-length re-publication of his book Doing Rude Things – The History of the British Sex Film.

I blogged about it.

This week, he was back in the same upstairs rooms of a North Soho/Fitzrovia pub in London, launching the soundtrack of his controversial gay porn film Trouser Bar –  “It’s the sexy package you’ll want to fondle. A green vinyl LP lovingly wrapped in haute couture corduroy complete with lavishly illustrated insert, Paisley hankie, badge and (director) Peter de Rome‘s visiting card.”

I blogged about the film in October 2015, when it was being touted as hard-core, and in March 2016 when it was not – just well-promoted – and was first screened.

Among those appearing in cameos in Trouser Bar are Julian Clary, Barry Cryer and Nigel Havers.

This week, as last week, David McGillivray gave a speech to the assembled, definitively eclectic, audience. He said:


Composer Stephen Thrower (left) with David McGillivray and the corduroyed soundtrack LPs. (Photograph by Alex Main)

My only purpose in being here is to lament the fact that two people who should be here can’t be here.

One is the alleged writer of the screenplay.

(LOUD LAUGHTER FROM THE AUDIENCE) 

I appreciate that response. Obviously, there’s probably nobody in this room who doesn’t know who I am referring to, but I still can’t say his name. Isn’t that marvellous?

The other person is the man for whom the alleged writer wrote the screenplay – the great erotic pioneer Peter de Rome.

How both these men would have loved both Trouser Bar and Stephen Thrower’s musical score!

Over the past year, it has been my enormous pleasure to tell the story of this collaboration throughout the world. Next week, I will be telling the story yet again in Buenos Aires – How exciting is that?

The story starts a long time ago, in 1976, when the alleged writer of the screenplay was appearing in a play on Broadway in New York. The alleged writer was a huge fan of pornography and he wrote in a letter to his friend that, while on tour with the play, he had seen in Washington the film in which Linda Lovelace was fucked by a dog. Those are his actual words.

Now, he did not say whether he liked that film but he did say, in a letter which I’ve seen, how much he admired the work of Peter De Rome.

And that is why, one day in his hotel in New York, the alleged writer wrote the screenplay of Trouser Bar. And that is his title, as well.

(Left-Right) David McGillivray, Ethan Reid and Peter de Rome

I worked on three films with Peter De Rome.

During the production of the first, he presented me with this screenplay which had been written for him in 1976. It was still in the envelope from the hotel.

Astounded is not a strong-enough word as far as I am concerned.

For the rest of Peter’s life, I tried to get him out of retirement to make this film. But, alas, he was absolutely adamant. He was fed-up with filming. He found it tiresome.

I failed.

So, when Peter died in 2014, there was nothing else for it – I had to make it for him.

I honestly assumed that, when I contacted the John Gielgud Charitable Trust – and, due to the vagaries of English law, I CAN refer to that organisation – I honestly thought they would be delighted that we were making a film based on the only known screenplay written by the alleged writer.

David McGillivray & Nigel Havers at the Trouser Bar location.

How wrong I was!

They were furious and litigation proceeded over a period of three years.

When they found out that we were due to start production – now, this is something I have never ever told the people involved in the production of the film until tonight – they threatened to sue me AND everybody involved.

Well, it was like a red rag to a bull. 

We went into production the following week.

I assumed that the film would never be released and I was quite happy to leave it on a shelf until every member of the Trust was dead. But the reason we are here tonight is because of two very important people, one of whom IS here.

Brian Robinson of the BFI during the shoot.

He is Brian Robinson of the British Film Institute who suggested that we could release the film without a screenplay credit.

The other person is my indefatigable solicitor, who isn’t here.

That is the reason the film premiered at the BFI, Southbank.

After the premiere, more than one person came to me and said: You must release the music on an LP, preferably corduroy-clad.

I said: It’s not going to happen, because how can it?

Well, I reckoned without the composer Stephen Thrower.

Because of his skill and determination, here is the record.


You can currently hear samples from the soundtrack online.

David McGillivray is, as ever, energetically promoting it…

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“Parrotopia” – one step beyond British Music Hall, The Goons and The Bonzos

Michael Livesley (left) and Rodney Slater, Lords of Parrotopia

“Why should I talk to you?” I asked Rodney Slater, formerly of the Bonzo Dog Do0-Dah Band and Michael Livesley who, in the last few years, has revived Vivian Stanshall’s 1978 epic Sir Henry at Rawlinson End.

“Because,” said Michael, “of our wonderful new collaborative CD effort Parrotopia.”

“You  sound like,” I told him, “a Northerner trying to be posh by using long words – collaborative, indeed!”

“But it IS collaborative!” he insisted. “The crazy thing about this CD is that, without any kind of planning, it has 12 tracks, six of which are mine and six of which are his. We then cross-pollinated it, of course.”

“You’re using big words again,” I told him. “So the music is random?”

“Yes, it’s very random,” Michael said. “I suppose, if it has a genre, it might be front step.”

“That is a pun beyond my ken,” I told him.

“The young folks,” Michael told me, “have something called ‘dubstep’. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe that was ten years ago or more.”

“A couple of days ago,” said Rodney, “I got a magazine from PRS and I didn’t know what they were talking about in it.”

The Bonzos’ 50th Anniversary show at KOKO in Camden, 2015

“It’s been a helluva lot of fun,” said Michael. “A gestatory nine months.”

“You’re at it again with the words,” I said. “But why another CD? Artistic inspiration or the lure of more filthy lucre?”

Michael laughed.

Rodney laughed: “Gross money is pouring out of our pockets! Why did we do this?”

“Because,” Michael told him, “we couldn’t not. Let’s be honest, we’re never going to become rich doing this. As it is, we’re selling teeshirts as well as the CDs to get money back. We do the music and the songs because we have to do it. Essentially what happened was we started talking during the Bonzo’s Austerity Tour last year, as things got increasingly more fraught…”

“In what way ‘fraught’?” I asked.

“It was nice amongst us,” said Michael. “Lovely among the players… Let’s not talk about it.”

“So the new CD… Parrotopia.” I said.

“The initial spurt,” explained Michael, “was that Rodney bought an iPhone and, all-of-a-sudden, you could email him. And there was no holding him after that. Pretty soon, we were sending each other stupid things about long-dead Northern comics and long-dead, obese footballers. Just tittle-tattle in general.”

Susie Honeyman of The Mekons, Rodney Slater and Michael Livesley during Parrotopia shed recordings.

“It’s just a collection of stories, really,” said Rodney. “Stories we wanted to tell that happened between 2016 and when we finished it in June this year. Our reaction to what was happening in the world and what was particularly happening to us in that context.”

“Not,” I checked, “what was happening politically in the grand scheme of things, but…”

“There was a sprinkling of that,” said Michael.

“You can’t get away from that,” added Rodney, “because that’s the time we were doing it.”

“Well, Parrotopia was almost like a coping mechanism, wasn’t it?” Michael suggested.

“It’s all about stories,” said Rodney. “Stories we tell ourselves. All of us. Fantasies we enact in our own heads when we go to bed at night. Michael said to me: We’ll make the album that we want to listen to. And that’s what has come out.”

“Why is it called Parrotopia?” I asked.

Mr Slater’s Parrot,” said Rodney.

It is a 1969 song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

“What we said we were originally gonna do,” Michael explained, “was to declare ourselves The People’s Republic of Parrotopia, because there was stuff going on – and that name stuck.”

“Cultural Revolutionary,” Rodney said, apparently thinking out loud.

“There is,” Michael continued, “a song, one line of which is: Reflecting feudalist tags. That’s the general disjecta membra that is left over.”

“Oooh!” I said.

“Did you make that up?” asked Rodney.

“No,” Michael told him. “It’s a real word. In many ways, we were sort of living this madness through a shared past. A strange shared past, because Rodney is older than I am, but I was brought up by my nan – my grandmother – and she was brought up around the same time as Rodney’s parents. So we maybe both have a similar outlook. We see what we’ve done as very much as a continuation of British music hall and The Goons and The Bonzos.”

“Are you going to do a musical tour of Parrotopia?” I asked.

“Costs money,” said Rodney. “It would need a cast of 10 or 12. We would need some man with a lot of money who was honest, which is a very rare thing in this business.”

“Any videos?” I asked.

William ‘Fatty’ Foulke, Sheffield United goalkeeper 1894-1905

“Well,” said Michael, “we talked to John HalseyThe Rutles’ Barry Wom – who plays drums on our CD – and we discussed making some films – particularly a little silent movie of a track called Fatty – who was a goalkeeper for Sheffield United in 1902. Rodney as the referee with a twirling moustache and a top hat.”

“I think,” I told him, “you should write a song called Rodney Bought An iPhone.”

Rodney responded: “Writing used to be a slow and laborious process by hand. Now, if we have an idea, rather than me learning it, I hum something, he plays it on the keyboard and there’s the dots.”

“It’s a very quick way of working,” said Michael. “I can come up with a melody, I play it on the keyboard into the iMac computer and literally just press a button and the music dots are there for him to play. The computer is the real paradox here. Well ‘irony’ is better. Rodney has this disdain for computers and…”

“I don’t want a computer,” Rodney emphasised.

“But you have an iPhone,” I said. “That’s a computer.”

“I know it is,” he replied, “but it’s not a two-way mirror quite as much.”

“Would you care to expatiate on that?” asked Michael.

“It’s too intrusive in one’s life,” said Rodney. “It’s like walking around naked. It’s just my way of thinking about it. It’s like radio. Originally, radio was a wonderful, educational tool. All manner of communication. It’s when the arseholes get hold of it and then the big money comes in. I have utter contempt for the people running these things. Utter contempt because of what they’re doing with it. I’m not very good technically. I manage an iPhone; well, part of it.”

“One of the tracks on the CD,” said Michael, “is One Step Behind where Rodney sings about Who harvests your data? He was telling me about opinions being shaped and formed by…”

“Algorithms,” said Rodney. “I’m very interested in all that. The way it shapes human behaviour. I don’t like the sort of society that these things are making. The parallel worlds that we all live in. I prefer to go down the pub and play darts and crib and have a fight.”

“What attitudes are being formed that are bad?” I asked.

“Isolation,” he replied. “Parallel lives. Self-centred interest. What really pisses me off is that people are totally inconsiderate of the consequences of their actions on other people. They don’t think about that.”

Michael says Rodney’s Parrotopia album is “riddled with it”

“Are you going to do a second Parrotopia album about it?” I asked.

“We are doing another one,” said Michael.

“Parrot-toopia,” said Rodney.

“And when is that out?”

“Maybe next year,” replied Michael, but this one is riddled with it. Virtual reality. Augmented reality.”

“I just think, as I get older,” said Rodney, “it is time to write things down. I’m not a grumpy old man. I don’t write grumpy old man songs. I write reality, looking from now to what I’ve known, which is 76 bloody years. It’s a bloody long time. I was born at the beginning of the Second World War and I saw all that social evolution…”

“You retain a lot of optimism,” said Michael.

“A lot of optimism,” said Rodney, “from a bad beginning.”

“There is a lot of attitude on the CD,” said Michael.

“You have had a haircut since we met last,” I observed to Michael.

“Yes,” he said. “I went to Chris the barber near where I live. It is in the back of a garage. You go through his car sales bit and there’s a shed and you sit there surrounded by Classic Car Weeklys.”

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“Between Andover and Southampton.”

“I think there is a stuffed cat museum in Andover,” I said. “In tableaux.”

“I don’t think so,” said Michael.

“Maybe it’s in Arundel,” I said.

“There’s a pencil museum up in Keswick in the Lake District,” suggested Michael helpfully.

“And a vegetarian shoe shop in Brighton,” I said.

“I know,” said Michael. “I popped in once.”

I looked at him.

“I was starving,” he added.

Parrotopia was successfully financed by crowdfunding, using this video…

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No more UK Kunt – The end of an era?

Kunt’s last show

So is it a good gig when, before it starts, the sound of “Cunt! Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!” chanted by 500 voices precedes the act and, before his final song, the entire audience boos at the thought of what is to come?

kunt_withphone

Is it a good gig when the act steals an iPhone to stop a punter videoing the show, then videos the audience and throws it back at him?

kunt_jimmysavile_cut
Is it a good gig when, in the second half, the entire audience is joyously singing along to songs about Fred & Rose West, Jimmy Savile and sundry paedophiles?
kunt_cock
Is it a good gig when the act rips off his penis and throws it into the audience?
kunt_farewell
Well yes it is, if the sold-out Saturday night gig at Proud Camden in London is billed as Kunt and The Gang‘s last ever performance after 13 years of touring the UK.

kunt_soldout_cut

But what is the betting he will be back again…??

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The Kunt (and The Gang) Monologues

When Kunt and The Gang announced earlier this year that he was retiring, I immediately booked him to climax the Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Edinburgh Fringe last month with his song Paper Boy. That version is not on YouTube, but this one is…

I thought it would also be interesting to chat to him for a blog, but he told me: “I stopped doing face to face stuff as it never comes across in print quite as well as the email interviews.”

I told him: “I’m never very keen on written Q&A ‘interviews’ because they never sound like a lively conversation. Writing in grammatical perfection is always a killer.”

So, inevitably, we did do a Q&A email interview. This is it.

Q – Why are you giving up? Have you run out of original ideas? Have you gone mentally dull? Do you now want to smoke a pipe, suck Werther’s Original sweets and hug people rather than offend them?

Kunt and Jimmy Savile

Kunt had new inspiration suddenly pumped into him in 2011

A – I ran out of ideas in 2011 but, luckily for me, Operation Yewtree came along and helped me drag it out for another five years. I’ve been thinking of packing it in for a few years, but my mind was made up because of how many maverick celebrities have croaked this year – Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne etc. etc. If they keep dropping at this rate, it’s only a matter of time before my minor internet celebrity status gets bumped up and then I’m on the ‘at risk’ register.

Q – Are you so stinking rich now that you don’t need to work and just want to watch Countdown on TV?

A – Yes, because playing 50 gigs a year for 6 quid a ticket can make you a millionaire. Are you having a fucking laugh? Don’t worry. I’m still driving round in a Ford Fiesta and looking for the yellow ‘whoops’ stickers in Asda.

Q – Did you get to keep your 2011 Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award or did Bob Slayer nick it?

A – I gave it away in a competition. A bloke from Colchester won it. They’re not worth loads of money, are they?

Q – They’re increasingly prestigious. Is your retirement just a scam? Everyone thinks it might be. Are you going to keep doing ‘return’ gigs like Frank Sinatra?

A – I’m not quite sure why everyone thinks it’s a big scam. I think people are just in the denial stage of grief. I had four people at my gig in Bristol last week tell me that I should call my comeback tour ‘The Cum-back Tour’. With my current Christ complex, I’m favouring ‘The Res-erection’.

Kunt’ll Fix It

Now then, now then, boys and girls. What will he do next?

Q – Are you likely to reappear as a different character? Like Avid Merrion in Bo’ Selecta became Keith Lemon?

A – Highly unlikely.

Q – How did you think up the Kunt character and, indeed, why?

A – I’m still a bit baffled that you refer to me as a character! Is Sting a character? Is Bono a character? No!

They’re really just a couple of cunts so why can’t I just be a kunt?

Q – What were you before you were a Kunt?

A – I worked part-time for the local council doing odd jobs for the Youth Service. Whenever I tell anyone that I suddenly see them thinking: Historical sex crimes.

Q – Odd jobs? Such as?

A – It was a few years ago but, as I remember, I was just sent to the youth centres in the daytime when there were no teenagers around to do minor maintenance tasks like collecting the money out of pool tables and sniffing the toilet seats.

Q – Describe your best shit.

A – A one-and-half turd visit on the 15th December 2013, which I tweeted a picture of to Simon Cowell as part of the world’s first ever virtual dirty protest.

Q – Describe your worst sex act.

A – Drunkenly trying to get big Karen to finish me off in a toilet cubicle in the multi story car park next to Club Art in Southend while my mates jumped up pulling faces over the door.

Q – When you were 17, what did you think you would be when you were 34?

A – I couldn’t imagine being 21 when I was 17, let alone 34. I’ve always thought if you think about things too hard you’ll talk yourself out of it.

Q – So, in the past, this philosophy of life has resulted in you doing what?

A – All this. And kicking the odd pensioner’s wall in.

Q – Has writing wall-to-wall filth worn your spirit down? Are you going to write non-filth now?

A – I don’t think of it as wall-to-wall filth. I think I’m just dealing with the difficult subjects that no one else wants to sing about. Because of that, I think I‘ve been lucky to have a whole new raft of rhyming couplets that no other fucker wanted – like ‘come uppance’ and ‘lady’s tuppence’. That said, I always had a secret ambition to do Eurovision but I’m worried I might be overqualified.

Q – So will you write ‘clean’ song lyrics in future? Your songs are so technically good, you could make it in the ‘straight’ music biz. You could do The Voice or a Simon Cowell TV show or, yes indeed, Eurovision.

A – There’s millions of kunts out there writing clean songs. It’s very hard to stand out. Why do you think I was forced to forge a career out of singing about masturbation and paedofiddlia?! Furthermore, in case you hadn’t noticed, the TV talent shows are not for people like me that write catchy original songs and sing them in our own voices – more for perma-tanned twats warbling around the main melody of existing songs.

Q – Have you made useful contacts in the ‘straight’ music biz?

A – No

Q – Your final show is in London on November 5th. Seven days later, what will you be doing where, why and with whom?

A – Sitting on the sofa on my own, in my pants, watching Police Academy 7 on DVD.

Q – Describe your house. Where is it? – In a city? In the countryside? In suburbia? What is it like inside?

A – Is this fucking Hello magazine? I’ve got a square-ish house with a pointy roof on the upskirts of a town. It is the town where Depeche Mode are from and also Brian Belo from Big Brother. Inside there’s some rooms containing the usual furniture and in one room a bed along with piles of old posters and boxes of unsold CDs and T-shirts. (Note: Depeche Mode and Brian Belo came from Basildon.)

Q – Any unfulfilled ambitions?

Kunt’s Shannon Matthews The Musical

Shannon Matthews The Musical: a great loss to the West End

A – I’m gutted my Shannon Matthews musical didn’t make it onto the big stage. I always secretly believed Lloyd Webber would discover it and make us an offer. But he didn’t, the rubber-faced old posho.

Q – Who was she again?

A – Shannon Matthews was the 9-year-old daughter of ginger munter Karen Matthews, who unsuccessfully masterminded her fake kidnapping to try and cash in on the back of the Madeleine McCann bandwagon.

Shannon Matthews: The Musical is a full-length audio musical I wrote based on the case and then recorded with some mates from Huddersfield. It is my proudest moment, but sadly never got produced on the big stage. Fucksticks.

Q – What is going to happen now when you have all these great creative ideas and you have nowhere to use them? You will get creatively constipated, won’t you?

A – I haven’t really thought about what I’ll do for an outlet but, put it this way, I wouldn’t want to be my paperboy. I have been regularly frustrated on this tour stuck in fucking traffic. Currently it’s averaging out 8 hours in the car for every hour on stage. It’s doing my biscuit in.

Q – Was there ever a Gang?

A – When you’re in it, you know!

Q – Are there Kunt groupies when you are on tour?

A – Sadly, they are mostly sweaty mental balding men in their mid to late 40s. I meet loads of really smashing people but, in the last few years, I seem to have become like a flypaper for nutjobs.

Kunt on tour with Mike Gibbons - "my former manager, minor internet hit wannabe and dangerous loner"

Kunt on tour with Mike Gibbons, whom he calls “my former manager, minor internet hit wannabe and dangerous loner”

Q – Why do you think that has suddenly happened?

A – I think it’s just the law of averages. You meet thousands of people, so odds on there’s going to be a few fruit loops. They always seem to be more persistent and intense, though, giving the impression that there’s more of them than there actually are.

Q – Have you any baby Kunts at home or are you planning any?

A – I’m in my early 30s now so I guess at some point soon I might have to start thinking about that.

Q – Is there a Mrs Kunt?

A – Not a Mrs Kunt, but a long-suffering Miss Kunt. It’s been hard over the years to keep a relationship going whilst doing as many gigs as I have but these days you can just have a wank into FaceTime.

Q – So how are you going to financially support yourself, Miss Kunt and your potential mini-Kunts?

A – I don’t live a lavish celebrity lifestyle. I don’t dine at the Ivy. I dine at Harvester where you get unlimited salad with your main meal. At the end of this tour, I’ll have a dwindling pot of cash that gives me 9 months to work out what the fuck I’m doing next and make a go of it. Having failed at everything I’ve ever done apart from this it’s very likely there’s going to be a much anticipated ‘Cum-back’ tour…

Q  Any regret yet that you have announced your retirement?

A – Of course. I fucking love doing this. I love the gigs, meeting people and hearing about the time they soiled themselves and where they stashed their underwear after. But the time still feels right to knock it on the head, while I’m still enjoying it rather than waiting for it to all turn to shite.

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Prince and the tangled web which gave farter Mr Methane his big US TV break

Prince in 2008 (Photo by Micahmedia)

Prince in 2008 (Photo by Micahmedia)

I stopped writing this blog daily at the end of last year, thinking it would give me more time to do other things.

Since stopping, I have had less time. Who knew? I am now seven un-transcribed blogs behind.

Almost four weeks ago, I had a chat with Mr Methane – the world’s only professional performing farter.

Around midnight last night, he texted me a message. Surprisingly, it did not say: Where the fuck is the blog your were going to write? Instead, it read:

“Quite stunned and saddened to hear about the death of Prince – an artist whose global success indirectly led to me appearing on the Howard Stern Show in the US.

“I made my first ever visit to the Howard Stern Show thanks to the hard work of Lenny Shabes. He was President of WATV. Lenny was a big fan of Howard and became aware of my alimentary talents while in London visiting his friend, artist manager and producer Steve Fargnoli – a man responsible for the careers of Prince and also possibly my biggest fan Sinéad O’Connor.

Mr Methane Let’s Rip in his VHS release

Mr Methane Let’s Rip opened him up to the US audience

“Steve Fargnoli introduced Lenny to my manager Barrie Barlow and, on returning to the States, Lenny sent a copy of my video Mr Methane Lets Rip to Howard’s producer Gary Dell’Abate AKA ‘Baba Booey’.

“Lenny followed it up with an astonishing 90-odd phone calls until Gary and Howard eventually caved in and watched the tape.

“Gary and Howard liked what they saw and invited me to the show where I performed a special rendition of Happy Birthday.

“The appearance was judged to be a success and was shown on Howard’s E TV & CBS television shows with Howard Stern proclaiming himself to be a huge Mr. Methane fan.

“This may have never happened if Prince’s Purple Rain hadn’t established Steve Fargnoli as a giant of music business management with an office in London.

“The law of unintended consequences strikes again.”

There is a video on YouTube of Mr Methane’s first appearance on the Howard Stern Show.

Last year, I wrote a blog which pointed out Mr Methane is related to the Queen of England and Thurston de Basset, Grand Falconer to William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

It now turns out that, as well as being related to Queen Elizabeth II, he is also related to Lord Byron. Genuinely.

When Mr Methane and I met again a month ago in St Pancras station, he was NOT going to the Paaspop festival in Holland. He had been booked to perform in a cabaret tent at the festival but then, for unknown reasons, the cabaret tent and all its acts were cancelled. They paid him half his fee and all his travel costs. So, instead of going to Holland, he took a train down from Macclesfield to London to celebrate what he called his “birthday we won’t mention.”

Mr Methane’s sister is still researching the family tree.

“Our grandma was Joan Byron,” Mr Methane told me, “and she married into the Bassets. She came from the Byron dynasty which used to hang out originally at Clayton Hall, where Manchester City’s football ground is now.

“We’ve got another grandma – Cecilia de Warren and her dad was the Earl of Surrey. She’s a connection that takes us back to the Plantagenets.”

“So,” I said, “your sister’s doing all this family research.”

Mr Methane wearing a Howard Stern badge

Mr Methane wearing a Howard Stern badge

“Yes. She’s got a BA and an MA and she took the BA in Art History. Before she came out with her Art History degree, I used to think Salford Van Hire was a Dutch painter.”

“Wey-hey!” I said.

“I’ve learned a lot off other people,” Mr Methane continued. “Barrie, my business manager is in the music industry and I knew very little about that too. I used to think Dexy’s Midnight Runners was a laxative.”

“Wey-hey!” I said. “So what have you got coming up in your farting career?”

“I’ve got a very very secret thing that I can’t talk about in Finland.”

“And sadly,” I said, “you can’t do the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards show in Edinburgh in August because…”

“…I’m at the Dorset Steam Fair,” agreed Mr Methane. “Blowing my own trumpet. Then I’ve got to start writing the Mr Methane book. It’s going to be a long time in the process, but this year’s going to be the start of that. I think I need to leave a legacy. I don’t know whether to call it Behind The Behind or Life at The Bottom.”

“This will be your auto-blow-ography?” I asked.

“Yes, there will be loads of double-entendres in it,” agreed Mr Methane. “There’s something else I’m doing… I should write a list, shouldn’t I? But, being a performer, I don’t write lists, I just have things rattling around in me that come out.”

At this point, our conversation was interrupted by a text on his phone from a friend. It read:

A Belgian Shepherd dog not on the beach (Photo by Ulrik Wallström)

A Belgian Shepherd dog shot not on the beach (Photograph by Ulrik Wallström)

Can’t get on the beach for sheep.

“That’s right,” Mr Methane told me. “A friend has got a couple of big Belgian Shepherd Dogs and the sheep graze on the salt marsh, so you can’t have big Belgian Shepherd dogs chasing the sheep, can you?”

“No,” I agreed, “you can’t.”

I had no idea what we were talking about.

It often happens.

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A serious song about being a comedian

Ursula Burns in Belfast this afternoon

Ursula Burns at home  in Belfast this afternoon

Ursula Burns – 2013 Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award nominee and dangerous Irish harpist – has just posted online the video for a new song – about being a comedian. So, obviously, I Skyped her about it this afternoon at her home in Belfast.

“It really is a serious song about comedy!” I said.

“Yes,” she laughed, “It is, isn’t it? The whole new album is serious. It’s not comedy.”

“What’s the album called?” I asked.

The Dangerous Harpist.”

“Of course it is,” I said.

Ursula’s upcoming Dangerous Harpist album

The upcoming Dangerous Harpist album – released in May

“It’s a collection of songs,” she explained, “that got sort of swept aside when I was on the comedy circuit for three or four years. There was a backlog of songs written along the way. I wasn’t just writing comedy stuff in that time. Some of the songs were written when I was on the road with the circus; some are more theatre-based, about when I was writing for theatre. I wrote a musical: we did 41 performances. So the album has theatrical, circus, comedy elements in the songs… and there is actually one happy one!”

“What’s it about?” I asked.

“It’s about crying in the toilet,” she laughed. “But it’s a very happy song. The songs are all slightly different flavours – snapshots… I suppose it’s like taking a picture wherever you are. Lots of songs had built up. It’s five years since I made an album and the last one was so different.”

“How?”

Ursula in a previous creative incarnation

Ursula in a previous creative incarnation

“It was really kinda Celtic and there was an esoteric aspect to it. It was inspired by a book of poetry I found in London by a poet called Fiona McLeod, who was actually a Scots guy called William Sharp, who was actually a mate of W.B.Yeats. The poetry was very spiritual, very nature-based. It was almost like John O’Donohue in his book Anam Cara. It was very Irish, very Celtic, very poetry, very musical, intensely musical.

“It was just before I wrote the Comedian song – There was that kinda crash of the dark side, going to somewhere. It was like I went from the light to the dark.”

“The light was the Celtic,” I asked, “and the comedy was the dark?”

“Sort of. Within myself. I think the thing about being funny… I think you have to tell the truth and, for me, it felt like a darker aspect – engaging with something dark.”

“You mentioned writing for theatre,” I prompted.

Little Red Riding Hood,” Ursula told me, “for the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. I composed the music. I wrote the wolf’s songs in the style of Tom Waits and Little Red in the style of Kate Bush and Björk.”

“And your album is called The Dangerous Harpist.”

“Yes.”

Ursula, on stilts, plays her harp in Belfast

Not dangerous? Ursula, on stilts, plays her harp in Belfast

“Are you dangerous?”

“No,” she laughed.

“The Comedian track,” I pointed out, “says you are ‘dangerous on the inside’.”

“Well,” Ursula replied, “you know the stereotype of comedians being depressed? It’s this on-the-edge feeling. I’ve been operating as a self-employed artist for 20 years and it’s about how that kind of really takes its toll on you. The aspect of smiling on the outside – making people laugh – but, behind it all, on the inside, there’s an intensity or a dangerous on-the-edge aspect to how you are living and how you are feeling.”

“When is the album being released?” I asked.

“On May the 4th – Star Wars Day.”

There is a video for the Comedian track on YouTube.

and here she is as a harpist.

 

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