Tag Archives: neurosis

3 Angry Daddies, 3 Real MacGuffins & an elfin comedian upstaged by a mouse

The three Angry Daddies having a gay old time in Los Angeles

Yesterday, I thought I knew what today’s blog was going to be about.

Last week I blogged about Mike Player, organiser of America’s gay Outlaugh Comedy Festival

This Friday, at the Outlaugh Festival/Hollywood Fringe, Mike is performing an improvised show as one of the three Angry Daddies: they are Mike (one of the Gay Mafia comedy group), Mark S.Barnett (from Second City) and Dave Fleischer (from iO West)

Oh, I thought, That might make an interesting blog: the difference between being a solo comic and being part of a comedy group. And Mike is now in at least two comedy groups.

“Does this mean you got bored with the Gay Mafia gents?” I asked him.

“No,” he told me. “It’s just like I’m just taking a lover on the side. It’s very French to do that. At least that’s what I was taught as a child.”

“But why would a straight audience watch three gay guys doing comedy?” I asked, trying to rile him.

“Well,” he replied, undermining my ruse, “only two of the Angry Daddies are gay. One is straight. Mark is an actual father of progeny. The Daddies are ‘post-gay’ where the gay thing doesn’t matter as much but is not shied away from. Dave and I play straight guys and Mark plays gay. We mix it up. There’s something for everyone, except dogs. And dogs don’t understand comedy.”

“Would it work in the UK too?” I asked.

“Well,” he replied, “Mark is from Bath, England, and has an English accent and everything. So we come fully equipped. In a commercial, Mark played a giant hotdog that runs through a park and explodes…twice. We have got it all covered.”

Still, I thought, there is something to be said about the difference between solo and group work.

“What’s it like to be in a group rather than being an individual performer?” I asked him. “Don’t all performers want to be the sole centre of attention?”

“I like groups,” Mike told me, “because you can react and do physical comedy in scene work. With good improv, there is collaboration which can be very exciting. Plus you can blame other people if the laughs aren’t big enough. I like to blame Dave and Dave always threatens legal action.”

I thought I would see if a couple of British comics thought the same.

So, early yesterday morning, I e-mailed ever-amiable Englishman Dan March, one of The Real MacGuffins.

The Real MacGuffins lean on a metal post in Soho yesterday

“The major difference with doing group instead of solo for me,” he e-mailed me back a couple of hours later, “is that when a gig goes wrong I blame Matt and Jim and when it goes right I take all the credit. Doing solo work it’s different – obviously I take the credit when it goes well but when it goes wrong I blame the audience. Also the writing process is more fun with a group – I get to shout ‘Not funny!’ at Matt which is very therapeutic.”

Laura Lexx played cricket last year

My elfin comedy chum Laura Lexx, is appearing as part of Maff Brown’s Parade of This at this August’s Edinburgh Fringe. Yesterday, she told me: “The main thing is that with more than one person you simply have to rehearse, which is not something comedians really naturally do (for the most part). So it feels quite unnatural and hard to make yourself do it properly. We struggle to rehearse for more than about an hour without getting horrifically distracted and trying to go to the pub! It’s hard to rehearse and then it’s also hard not to ad lib once you’re on stage because that’s where you’d naturally go with stand up. I think they’re two completely different disciplines.”

So, late yesterday afternoon, strolling through Soho, I was content in my blog about the nature of doing group comedy. I can do something with all that, I thought.

Then, just six feet ahead of me, I saw Dan March and the other two Real MacGuffins standing round an unexplained black metal post, leaning on it, looking at me.

“I’ll take your picture for the blog,” I said.

And I did. And that was it. A perfectly rounded blog idea.

If it were not for the mouse.

Two nights ago, my eternally-un-named friend was staying at my home (we are an ex-couple). She was born and partly brought-up in the Mediterranean. I was brought up in Scotland. She leaves outside doors open because she thinks it’s hot outside. I shut everything because I think the cold outside air will make my penis drop off.

There was also the trauma of the mouse a few years ago. I have not yet written about this in my blog. But I will, dear reader. I will. Perhaps in a few days. It was about five years ago. I still bear the psychological scars.

Yesterday morning, my eternally-un-named friend confessed to me:

“I saw a mouse last night.”

Relative of the wee, not-so tim’rous beastie loose in ma hoose

“Where? There on the stair?” I asked.

“In the living room,” she said, worried at my reaction, given my previous rodent-induced trauma.

“I have built a trap,” she told me reassuringly.

“You built a mouse trap overnight?” I asked.

“It’s a piece of newspaper,” she explained, “put across the top of a bowl which is half-full of water. The newspaper has a cross cut in it in the middle with bait on top of it, balanced on the cross cut. The weight of the mouse, as it goes across the paper to reach the bait will make the paper cave-in and the mouse will fall into the water below. Hopefully I’ve done it so it’s deep enough that the mouse will drown.”

“Where is the bowl?” I asked.

“Under the dinner table,” she told me.

“Rats swim, don’t they?” I asked, searching my memory for movie references.

“They’re more intelligent,” she said. “and it’s a very small mouse.”

“What’s the bait?” I asked.

“Half a Mars bar,” she replied.

“You won’t let ME eat Mars bars!” I almost shouted.

“They would make you fatter,” she replied rather too smugly.

“Why do you want to kill it?” I asked. “A poor little baby mouse.”

“Don’t be stupid!” she said. “You’re going to turn this into a ridiculous blog because you’re stupid.”

“You like Tom & Jerry cartoons,” I pointed out, “but now you are trying to kill Jerry.”

“You kill flies,” my eternally-un-named friend riposted.

“They’re insects,” I replied.

“So?” she asked.

“A mouse is a mammal,” I said.

“You eat chicken,” she said.

“That’s a bird” I said.

“Lamb,” she countered.

“Sheep are stupid and deserve to die,” I parried.

“Stupidity doesn’t enter into it,” she said. “You don’t deserve to die. Well, not for that… It is a small mouse. I have put a ruler resting on the side of the bowl, so it can climb up from the carpet to get to the bait on the newspaper over the water.”

“It’s like you are making it walk the plank!” I pointed out.

“Precisely,” she said, I thought unecessarily triumphantly.

I was out in central London all day yesterday. When I got home late last night, I asked her: “Why do you want to kill the mouse? We should trap it alive and take it out into a field and release it into the wild.”

“You’re turning into a Buddhist,” my eternally un-named friend said. “Why don’t we just open the front and back door and let all the mice come in? Then you could have a little family of cute mice and any time you wanted to kill one it would be easy. There would be a whole festering mass of them crossing the bloomin’ floor.”

Bloomin?” I queried.

“Bloomin,” she insisted.

“Let the mammal live…” I pleaded. “Or I could buy a cat.”

“You could rent a cat,” she said. “That’s what people did in days-gone-by.”

“We should try to take a picture of it for the blog,” I suggested.

“The cat?”

“The mouse… I suppose it moves too fast…”

“I saw it twice today,” my eternally-un-named friend told me. “It just sauntered across the floor from under the bureau to under the sofa. Then, a little later, it sauntered back again. It was in no hurry.”

“You saw it?”

“I looked at it…It looked at me…We were both surprised… What can I say?”

“Perhaps it doesn’t like Mars bars,” I suggested.

“I was going to drop a file of papers on it,” she said. “but my file was in the kitchen. I have added peanut butter to the Mars bar. I Googled how to trap mice and people were saying mice like peanut butter. Cheese has no effect.”

“I’m sure I tried honey when I had the previous mouse,” I said.

“But, when that happened, did…” she started.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I interrupted. “It was traumatic.”

Then, half an hour later, my eyes got itchy and I started sneezing. A lot.

“I think I may be allergic to mice,” I said.

“And I have a sty in my eye,” she said. “It started about two hours ago. I didn’t like to tell you.”

“We have to out-think it,” I said. “We have to think like a mouse.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” my eternally-un-named friend said. “I don’t want to have to keep shutting the living room door to keep it trapped in here. I’ll let it go upstairs. I’ll help it upstairs. It can get into your bed.”

“Don’t remind me,” I said. “I don’t even want to think about that.”

We left my home and drove late-night to Greenwich where we stayed overnight.

I am still there.

I will have to face the mouse again later today.

“It is very small, but seems to have inner confidence,” my eternally-un-named friend tells me.

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Filed under Comedy, Gay, Humor, Humour, Mice

How to write a daily blog? Easy. Incest, grumpy camel stories and nude women

If desperate, use a nude, copyright-free Wikipedia photograph

I can’t remember why I was being interviewed last night by Ian Fox, comedian, photographer and online omni-presence.

It is for some online jollity he is planning and he did mention it to me before I went to North Korea (did I mention I went to North Korea?). In fact, I think he suggested it to me almost two years ago. I have a notoriously bad memory and can’t remember why he was asking me questions.

But one was: You write a daily blog. Is it difficult to keep coming up with stuff each day?

My answer was: “It’s not that difficult.”

Ironically, I then woke up this morning with no obvious subject for a blog.

But incest can be a fruitful thing.

If Ian Fox interviews me for some online project he’s doing, then I can blog about him interviewing me. On this basis, British-based American comedian Lewis Schaffer and I have built up a fruitful cyber-incestuous relationship by occasionally blogging about each other. I quote him in my blog, which he then mentions in his blog, which I then comment on and on and on…

When short of a blog idea, I highly recommend going along to one of Lewis Schaffer’s free shows and then letting him buy you a Chinese meal and/or an expensive ice cream afterwards. It costs you nothing and New York Jewish comedians’ neuroses are always a bottomless pit to excavate. It also makes you feel better. You think: At least my life is not THAT shit…

Also useful is recycling your as-yet unprinted interview answers.

Last night, Ian Fox asked me about the lowlights of my career.

I told him about the occasion when I was working for the children’s TV series Tiswas and a circus provided me with a one-humped Bactrian camel. I was not well-pleased. A child had written-in saying he wanted to ride between the humps of a camel. This requires a minimum of two humps. The circus guy swore blind to me that this clearly uni-humped creature was actually a two-humped Bactrian camel and it was just the way the humps were lying that morning. The camel appeared to be as grumpy as I was; I think it had expected to be on a better class of TV show. The child was, fortunately, just happy to be on any camel.

The camel farted.

That’s the way to fill up a blog when you have nothing specific in your mind.

Tomorrow, though, I should be OK for a blog subject.

Because today I am having a ‘death lunch’ with Lynn, my friend of 37 years. We are executors of each others wills and occasionally meet to update where we keep our money, our knowledge of Kyrgyzstan and other goodies.

After that, I am eating with miniature comedienne Laura Lexx, then comedy scriptwriter Mark Kelly, then street sensation Paolo Ferrari, then doyenne of comedy critics Kate Copstick… and then I am seeing Lewis Schaffer’s ongoing twice-weekly comedy show Free Until Famous in Soho. And possibly getting a free curry or ice cream out of him afterwards.

Surely one of those people has some bloggable story I can steal. My motto is: Get someone else to write your blog for you. If all else fails, Lewis Schaffer’s neuroses can be excavated.

The downside is that, with all those meals and muffins and sitting around, I get ever fatter.

Writing a daily blog?

It’s a piece of piss.

Which is possibly what a reviewer would say.

* * *

The interview by Ian Fox appears HERE.

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The very worst visual horrors of life – from Jaffa Cakes to nipples

Last night, I went to a very belated birthday party thrown for Scots comedian Janey Godley by a central London private members’ club whose name, much like Lord Voldemort, cannot be spoken out loud. By “very belated” I mean that Janey’s birthday was actually in January.

There are always interesting conversations to be had at the ‘Voldemort Club’.

Last night, it started with Jaffa Cakes.

Janey’s new agent Triona Adams, a former nun, told me that actor Ian Richardson’s father had created the Jaffa Cake when he was working for McVitie’s in the 1920s.

There was then talk of people laying Jaffa Cakes on graves because artificial flowers turned white, which I did not quite follow.

And I mentioned I used to work with someone at a Soho facilities house who claimed she was terrified of Jaffa Cakes, which I took to be a joke or a mild eccentricity until, many months later, someone actually brought a plate of Jaffa Cakes into the room and she had to leave in quite considerable emotional distress.

She told me afterwards, still upset: “It’s the texture. They’re dark and it’s the way the light reflects off the dark curves of the chocolate.”

Comedian Meryl O’Rourke – who annoyingly told me she has the ability to eat loads yet stay thin – something I miserably fail to do – was able to top this story last night with the tale of an ex-boyfriend who was frightened of buttons.

Not Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons but the ones on clothing.

Quite how he managed to function in everyday life I cannot imagine.

Apparently he developed the idea as a child that babies came out of the belly-button and I can only imagine as an adult he had visions of a straining button on a shirt suddenly exploding into a new-born baby, much like the chest-buster scene in Alien.

It got worse because he found the visual appearance of women’s nipples reminded him of buttons and, the first time Meryl took her clothes off in front of him, he vomited.

Surprisingly, the relationship carried on for a while and Meryl has now been happily married for twelve years (obviously not to that boyfriend), though her upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show is titled Bad Mother.

The show is about Meryl’s relationship to her daughter and to her own mother. Apparently her mother, whose first memory was being beaten by a Nazi officer (she was a German Jew), used to stalk minor British showbiz celebrities with young Meryl in tow. I heard some of the stories last night. The show itself should be a cracker.

Perhaps appropriately, Bad Mother is going to be in the Underbelly.

You certainly meet interesting people at the ‘Voldemort Club’.

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Filed under Comedy, History, Psychology, Strange phenomena, Theatre