Tag Archives: podcast

Ariane Sherine wants to live to 100 and write 100 books, starting with this one

Ariane Sherine has had a busy week. It’s her birthday.

And she released the first episode of her weekly podcast Love Sex Intelligence.

And she has published her first novel, Shitcom, about two male TV sitcom writers.

She knows that about which she writes. She has been a writer on BBC TV’s Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and on My Family.

She claims Shitcom is her first book, although she has previously published The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, Talk Yourself Better and How To Live To 100.


A TV sitcom, a shitstorm and a switch…

JOHN: Why’s the new book called Shitcom?

ARIANE: It’s a novel about two comedy writers on a sitcom. One’s extremely successful and an arsehole. The other one is extremely unsuccessful but very nice… And they swap bodies.

JOHN: So it’s a cosy little comic romp…

ARIANE: No. It’s got racism, misogyny, homophobia, extreme swearing, graphic descriptions of violence and a short rape scene. The villain calls his mother a jizz-lapping old whore and calls his step-father a fisting spaffmonkey. He is obsessed with his penis because it’s only 2 inches long.

JOHN: You wrote it in 2004, when you were…

ARIANE: …a sitcom writer for BBC TV.

JOHN: So it’s all semi-autobiographical?

ARIANE: It’s ‘loosely based’ on my experiences. But all the characters are fictional.

JOHN: The plot is a body/identity swap story.

ARIANE: There IS a body swap and Neil – the nice guy – inhabits Andrew’s body and is able to get his sitcom idea commissioned, but he then realises fame and success are not all they’re cracked up to be.

Andrew is trapped in Neil’s body and there’s a hilarious/outrageous and disturbing turn of events which sees him end up homeless and having to have sex with a guy for money so that he can buy a gun.

JOHN: Why are fame and success not what they’re cracked up to be?

ARIANE: Because nobody treats you normally. It’s a very hyper-real/surreal type of existence. Most of the famous people I’ve met have been very nice, professional and reliable. They treat people really well. But I would not personally want to be famous. I don’t think it makes you any happier and you never know if people like you for you or just because you’re successful.

Ariane created and ran the Atheist Bus Campaign, seen here at its launch with Richard Dawkins (Photograph by Zoe Margolis)

JOHN: You famously created and ran the Atheist Bus Campaign and got shedloads of publicity.

ARIANE: I experienced the slightest distant glimmer of fame in 2009/2010 and it was quite disorientating. You don’t feel like yourself because people have this impression of you which doesn’t tally with your own impression of yourself. It’s confusing and I personally wouldn’t really want to be wildly famous.

JOHN: You wouldn’t want to be successful?

ARIANE: I think there’s a difference between having recognition for what you do and being a megastar where it’s so out-of-proportion that it’s ridiculous.

You really wouldn’t want Fred Bloggs accosting you when you’re trying to take the bins out – thrusting a camera in your face, demanding a selfie or an autograph.

JOHN: Alas poor Chris Whitty. You don’t want to be famous at all?

Ariane keeps her fingers in many pies, including podcasts

ARIANE: I wouldn’t mind a bit of recognition, but not being followed around by paparazzi wherever I go.

JOHN: Why did you not publish the novel in 2004 when you wrote it?

ARIANE: I had always wanted to write novels and I was putting the finishing touches to it in 2005 when I was violently assaulted by my then-boyfriend when I was pregnant with his baby. I had to have an abortion which I didn’t want to have. I cried every day for a year and I shelved the novel because I thought: I don’t want to focus on comedy! I’ve just been through hell! I don’t want to be focusing on jokes when my baby is dead.

JOHN: Wouldn’t focusing on comedy be cathartic in that situation?

ARIANE: I just didn’t feel I could write it successfully and, instead, I wrote a memoir of what had happened. That didn’t get published and I’m very glad it didn’t get published because it was so raw. It had a lot of scenes from my childhood and my dad was still alive and I think it would have got me into a massive mess.

So I sort-of lost interest in Shitcom. I shelved it and then a little later I started writing for the Guardian (until 2018) and I think I made some tweaks to Shitcom in 2008, but, as a Guardian columnist, I didn’t want to put out a book with an incredibly racist, sexist, homophobic male character and a ton of racial slurs in it. That felt like it might be a bit of a faux pas.

JOHN: And the Covid lockdown happened last year… That had an effect?

ARIANE: Yes. I was going to do a 100-date book tour for my last book How To Live To 100 but then the Covid lockdown came in, so the tour got shelved.

Shitcom was published after servicing Patreon subscribers

But I have a Patreon account and one of the subscriber tiers is my Writing Tier. 

Subscribers to that tier get a sample of my writing every week.

I came across Shitcom again and I thought I would send them that chapter by chapter. As I was reading it again, I realised it was hilarious and I loved it. So I thought Why don’t I just put it out rather have it languish on my hard drive?

I didn’t even try to get it traditionally published. Nobody in the publishing industry has seen it and, in this age of ‘cancellation culture’ I don’t think any publisher is going to be too keen on it.

JOHN: Have you thought about also publishing your ‘too raw’ memoir which you could now look back on objectively?

ARIANE: If I ever did write a memoir, it would probably be at the end of my career. I have so much left to do; and also my mum and brother are still alive and I wouldn’t want to hurt them with what’s in it. It might be something I do in 40 or 50 years.

I am aiming to write 100 books in my lifetime and I see Shitcom as the first book.

My next book – traditionally published by my publisher Hachette – is called Happier and will be my fourth traditionally-published book. 

Ariane also wants to write 100 books…

JOHN: You’ve said you consider Shitcom your first book but you have published three books already.

ARIANE: Well, they are all either co-writes or they contain a ton of contributions from other people. I think they are very enjoyable and I love my publishers, but I also want to put novels out – and, by self-publishing them, people can read them for just £1.99 each.

JOHN: So what’s your next solo book?

ARIANE: I’m Not In Love, another novel.

JOHN: Autobiograhical?

ARIANE: Partly. It’s about a girl who’s not in love with her boyfriend. He smells of banana. He does not eat or like bananas, but he has a strange banana smell.

JOHN: This bit is autobiographical?

ARIANE: Yes. It’s based on a boyfriend I had who is a comedian and writer and actually quite successful now. I don’t know if he still smells of banana, but I do feel sorry for his wife if he does. Also (in the book) he wears these terrible slogan T-shirts like While You Are Reading This, I Am Staring at Your Tits… And she falls in love with another man, but he’s engaged to be married and one of her unscrupulous, amoral friends says to her: Why don’t you just keep this guy that you’re engaged to around as insurance and date other guys behind his back?

So that’s what she does. But she is in her 30s and is aware that time is not on her side if she wants to have kids. So it’s a rom-com. 

It’s already written, the main character is really acerbic and funny and it will be out before the end of the year.

Shitcom is out now, though, for just £1.99. Buy it!

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Filed under Books, Publishing, Sex, Television

North Korea, President Obonjo and me on “If Comedians Ruled The World…”

Here’s a chat I had last night with Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award winning performer President Obonjo aka Benjamin Bankole Bello for his podcast If Comedians Ruled The World.

In the chat, I mention the Zircon satellite, which is incorrect. I think the satellite I should have mentioned was probably an ECHELON one.

I also mention the Pakistan Ambassador in Pyongyang and I think I mean the Indian Ambassador. It was a long time ago and I have a legendarily shit memory.

Anyway, we got through comedy, North Korea, Donald Trump, politics, dictators, propaganda, the US electoral system, the media and the Edinburgh Fringe, all in 45 minutes of fun, frivolity and totalitarian talk.

After viewing it, Sandra Smith – comedy industry uber-fan and observer of such details – commented: “Very active head action while speaking to the President.” She listed…

14 ear touches

9 spectacles

4 mouth

9 head

2 forehead

1 neck

3 eyes

2 nose

I wish she hadn’t mentioned all those. I’m a bit touchy…

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Filed under Comedy, North Korea, Podcasts, Politics

Comedian Matt Price is having weekly Conversations with Criminals

In 2013, I posted a blog in which comedian Matt Price talked about the violent physical attack in 2007 on his partner, comedian Martha McBrier, by four or five men in Glasgow. The attack permanently damaged her hearing. 

He told me: “about a year later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and, between those times, a member of her family went to buy a gun to shoot the man who attacked her.”

Matt also looked into the possibility of taking violent revenge, but a career criminal persuaded him not to.

Last week, Matt told me: “If I’d have taken revenge, I wouldn’t be here eating a muffin with you; I’d have been in jail.”

He is still together with Martha and, now based in London, he has started a weekly podcast – released every Sunday – called Conversations with Criminals.

The fourth episode of the podcast was posted online yesterday.

Matt’s Edinburgh Fringe comedy show in August will be titled: Broken Hooters and Geezers with Shooters.


JOHN: Conversations with Criminals… Why?

MATT: Because I knew nothing about crime until I was on the receiving end of one, when Martha got attacked all those years ago. Had I taken revenge, my life would have been very different.

I would much rather hear about what it’s like to be in prison and how hard it is to hustle while I am here eating a muffin, drinking a coffee with you and not in prison.

JOHN: …and…?

MATT: Because I’ve spent about ten years in the company of various dodgy people.

I like podcasting as a medium and also I like the fact that people who are on the wrong side of the law have great stories to tell and a very bleak sense of humour. They have to in order to cope with what they do and what they’ve done.

I am casting my net wide. I’m going to Nottingham to speak to a guy who will talk me through what it was like to be an addict going in and out of jail. I’ve talked to a guy whose parents were heroin dealers and, in the 1980s, he moved down to London and started robbing banks. All interesting stuff.

JOHN: Why will they talk to you? You’re not paying them.

MATT: People like to talk about themselves. Or maybe I’ve just fallen in with the right crowd.

JOHN: The first podcast was with Dave Courtney who, let’s be honest, will talk to anyone. The second one was with…

MATT: Brendan, Dave Courtney’s best mate and he’s a very funny guy. Just a funny man. What makes him so interesting to me is that he is a self-confessed coward. He made it very clear when he met Dave all those years ago: “Look, you’re great company, but I’m a coward. I don’t want to get involved in any violence. So I will run away.”

JOHN: So he’s not really a ‘hard man’.

MATT: Not at all.

JOHN: Or a criminal?

MATT: I think it’s well-documented he did go to jail. But I know he doesn’t want to be known as a ‘hard man’ in any capacity and that’s very important to him. Because if you make it clear, in that world, that you’re not a hard man, then people will leave you alone.

JOHN: And, if you say you are a hard man…?

MATT: …I imagine there will be more… ermm…  challenges.

JOHN: Difficult to keep it up weekly, missus: the podcast.

MATT: Well, it’s not easy interviewing people who are on the wrong side of the law, because they tend not to make plans for the future. You can’t phone someone up and say: “Oh, can you have a look in your diary… We could do lunch next week?” 

That’s not how it works. And sometimes there are misunderstandings, of which I’ve had a few. The most recent one was with a guy called Andy Costello, who was in Episode 3.

He really intrigued me because, in a way, he’s a vigilante. He was a policeman and lost his job because – this is 20 years ago – somebody punched his teenage daughter and he took violent revenge on the guy – He beat up him and his mates – and went to jail for it. But he has turned his life around completely now; he’s an amazing guy.

JOHN: What does he do now?

MATT: He teaches martial arts. He trains some of the best fighters in the country if not in the world.

I met him through a friend and I went out to meet him on a farm where his gym is and I thought he knew I was doing my weekly podcast.

But he thought – because he has just started doing stand-up comedy – that I, as a comedian, was going to interview him about his new career.

We met and I said: “Look, I’m not here to judge you in any way…” and he thinks Great! Because he’s just started performing comedy and I’ve been doing it a while. And then we start talking about crime and revenge and what it’s like to be in jail. And he was too polite to say anything. He thought it was odd but maybe I was trying to ‘big him up’ with an interesting angle. 

It was only afterwards that our mutual friend told him the title of the weekly podcast was Conversations with Criminals.

But the interview was great and he and his daughter like it. So it was all fine and mellow.

JOHN: Have you had less mellow misunderstandings?

MATT: Yes. I met somebody else through a mutual contact and the three of us got into a car with Mister X who, to be honest, I knew very little about.

Our mutual friend says to Mister X: “You remember that time you chopped somebody’s arm off?”

And Mister X says: “No. I have absolutely no recollection of that whatsoever.”

“Ah, no,” says my friend. “You remember – that geezer with his arm hanging off and the claret everywhere?”

“No… I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. And, by the way, who are you?” says Mister X to me.

I said: “My name’s Matt and I’m a comedian.”

“Well, you don’t look very funny,” he says.

So we get to this strange pub and at that time I had flu – my eyes were watering and Martha had told me I needed to be drinking lots of water – so, of course, I downed four pints in one go and arm-chop man was already quite nervous and he says to our mutual friend: “Your mate looks a bit dodgy. What’s the matter with him? Is he a policeman? Is he wired-up? Is he a journalist?”

“No,” my mate says. “He’s just an idiot who is too scared to ask where the toilets are.”

So we had this very awkward, very tense interview with power ballads playing in the background and I said: “Can you give me some advice?”

And he said: “Yeah. You should chill out, mate. Relax. You look really twitchy and you’re making ME feel nervous now.”

Then two guys walked in – two total strangers – and my friend just walked out of the venue. So I followed him. 

A couple of days later, I got a phone call from Mister X who says: “You really ARE what you say you are. Shall we start again?”

So we did and we had a delightful chat. He is going to remain anonymous not for any particular sinister reason. It’s just he has moved on with his life. He said: “You can have a selfie with my dog, but don’t put the picture of the dog online, because that will give away my identity.”

JOHN: Quite a few comedians have dodgy pasts.

MATT: One day I was in a car on the way to a gig with Mister A, talking about the podcast and he said: “Well, as comedians, we are on the periphery of society anyway, so we have a lot in common with these people. We’re just alternative people who are not going to work 9 to 5 staff jobs and neither are they. We are just people with a different lifestyle.”

Unfortunately, crime pays an awful lot more than comedy does. 

Lets be honest, everybody says: “Ooh, I’d love to get on Netflix as a comedian but, failing that…”

JOHN: Do they?

MATT: True crime is very popular at the moment.

JOHN: I guess everybody thinks they would like the excitement of being a criminal.

MATT: Well, not me. I’ve met them. At various levels. And I don’t really know any one of them – yet – who says Oh yes! Crime is great!

Crime is great when you’re driving around in a BMW. But then you get caught and suddenly all the people who said they thought you were amazing don’t want to know you any more. I don’t see what’s glamorous about that.


CONVERSATIONS WITH CRIMINALS IS ON

iTunesSpotify, Podbean and all usual platforms.

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Filed under Comedy, Crime, Podcasts

Why has comedian Akin Omobitan started a podcast called IT DIES HERE?

JOHN: So you have started a podcast. Why not do a blog? – Or is that too old-fashioned?

AKIN: I did do a blog back in the day and someone did once call me a blogger and I really didn’t know how to take that.

JOHN: Are you sure it was a blogger he called you?

AKIN: Yes. You have a blog. How do you describe yourself?

JOHN: The former John Fleming. 

AKIN: I used to blog back in 2004. I had wanted to do a podcast for ages but never had an idea I thought would be ‘for people’. 

JOHN: And now you have. Why is it called It Dies Here?

AKIN: It is pretty much a celebration of idiocy, calamity, regret, stupidity, misfortune, mishaps. So, each week, I have a different guest and they bring a story, a situation or an event which plays in circles in their head because, in hindsight, they now know how they could have handled it differently and better. So, instead of it living in their head, they bring it to the podcast and it can die.

JOHN: Sounds like online therapy.

A couple of people have said: “Oh wow! This is like therapy!

AKIN: A couple of people have come on and said: Oh wow! This is like therapy! but none of them has agreed to pay for my services yet.

JOHN: Do you have a couch to lie on?

AKIN: I do. But, if I invited people to my home to lie on a couch, it might just lead to misinterpretations.

JOHN: People might queue.

AKIN: Well, since releasing the trailer and putting Episodes 1 and 2 online, people have got in touch with me asking to be on the podcast.

JOHN: Do you edit it?”

AKIN: No. Because of the time it takes. And because I think it’s good for the listener to get the full conversation.

JOHN: Are the guests all comedians?

AKIN: No. Coming up, we have a couple of comedians, a financial journalist, a DJ and a TV presenter.

JOHN: Despite having co-hosted 101 Grouchy Club podcasts, I am not really a podcast listener. I have a feeling there’s something else I could do – like watch two-thirds of an old British comedy movie on TV.

AKIN: Or you could listen to a podcast and hear about the demise of an individual who started his own business, was offered millions for it and a job in Silicon Valley and all of that crumbled.

JOHN: But will it have knob gags? Anyway… where is this new weekly podcast leading? To a ‘proper’ broadcast radio show?

AKIN: I don’t know. It’s a different way of expressing yourself creatively. I used to write; that was one method. Doing stand-up comedy is another method. I MC shows as well; that’s different. And the podcast is such a different platform.

JOHN: How?

AKIN: With a lot of my stand-up, it is scripted. I may go off on tangents and play around a bit, but the majority of it is premeditated… When you are MCing, you can have a chat with the audience, but there are lots of different people and you are not really having a conversation with them; you are just trying to make the room fizz… When you do a podcast, you sit one-on-one with someone and have a good in-depth conversation for around 45 minutes.

JOHN: I find listening to what people say is over-rated.

“…I had things which ran around in MY head…”

AKIN: Part of what inspired…

JOHN: What?

AKIN: Part of what inspired the podcast is that I had things which ran around in MY head much longer than they should have… You know when you are a teenager and you are just very broody and moody and miserable? And that can go from adolescence into adulthood. Break-ups, different careers, failures. I was fired from jobs on a number of occasions. There were lots of things I had to let go of and, in letting go of them, I realised that I myself was the main reason I was not happy.

When I realised that and took a bit more control of my own happiness, I became a happier, nicer person.

And, because I had this reference point of me being a moody, miserable, self-indulgent person, I never wanted to be that person again. It inspired me to drift away from that aspect of my personality and more towards embracing the good things of life.

JOHN: You are a Christian. Did you go through a period in your teens of not being a Christian?

AKIN: I wouldn’t describe myself as re-born. I think a big part of it, actually, is that, when you grow up in a Christian household, there are a lot of beliefs and belief systems which you adopt without really making a choice. I guess part of my ‘liberation’ was stepping away from a lot of things. 

I guess I stepped away from a lot of the formalities of Christianity and the closeness I had with my parents. I quit my job. A lot of things: friendships, relationships, even myself. Lots of things I just stepped away from entirely.

Akin will be appearing with Lew Fitz at the Edinburgh Fesival Fringe this August

And then, one-by-one, I started re-connecting to all of these things, but under my terms. My relationship with my family is great, but I no longer feel the need to pander to my parents’ wishes for my life. I have tailored my friendship circles, so it is people who I genuinely want to be friends with, as opposed to people who I have just known for a long time.

Even with my Faith, I would say I am a lot more liberal in my views and outlooks. I guess there are different ideals and morals and stuff which I agree with. I just connect with things very differently. I guess there’s just a certain amount of freedom now.

JOHN: So you are more liberal in accepting other people’s ideas and beliefs?

AKIN: Definitely. I would always have described myself as liberal but I think, until you step away from your ideas then re-connect to them as you want, you are not really living your Truth.

When I decided who I wanted to be and who I wanted to connect with, I then started thinking: Why do I?

So, as opposed to Oh! I just love everyone, man! I then started thinking Why do I believe that?

I guess a lot of my beliefs and ideologies now are bounded more in me personally, not just: Oh. Because I’m a Christian, this is why I love everyone… or Because I’m a black person, this is why I behave this way. I just separated myself from a lot of parts of my identity and found a way of re-connecting… Yeah…

JOHN: Yeah.

AKIN: Maybe that sounds a bit hippyish and… Yeah…

JOHN: Yeah.

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Filed under Christianity, Comedy, Podcasts, Psychology, Religion

Comedy critic Kate Copstick teaches me about beautiful male and feline genitalia

Kate Copstick after he Grouchy Club Podcast yesterday

Copstick in Mama Biashara after the Grouchy Club Podcast

Yesterday afternoon, with Kate Copstick newly returned to London from Kenya, we recorded our weekly Grouchy Club Podcast.

Because there was a loud African band playing live in the performance space at the back of her Mama Biashara shop in Shepherd’s Bush. we went to a nearby cafe for the recording.

A man was sitting alone at the next table. This becomes relevant later on.

As normal, we did not discuss in advance what we might talk about. I just switched my iPhone on and started recording. Seven minutes into the 25 minute podcast, we had reached this point…


COPSTICK
I have to say…

JOHN
You don’t have to say… You don’t, you don’t.

COPSTICK
No, I do. I feel I have to say that…

JOHN
Hold yourself back for once.

COPSTICK
… I have never thought testicles… even the late, great and ever-increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee’s bollocks – They were extraordinary, but they weren’t beautiful – I’ve never seen a beautiful pair of human bollocks. I’ve seen a couple of very beautiful penises, but bollocks are not beautiful.

But my cat in Kenya. His little bollocks, they were beeauutiful!. Under his tail, obviously, there was the arse…

JOHN
Obviously.

COPSTICK
Then, under the arse, it was like a little heart-shaped pouch, a little heart-shaped furry pouch. And then, just under the little heart-shaped furry pouch, was another tiny little hole which I only noticed because, when I used to tickle his tummy, he used to get a tiny catty erection.

JOHN
Are we talking about a cat with two anuses here – two ani?

COPSTICK
No. It was just a little hole where his willy comes out. It retracts, John, when he’s not using it.

JOHN
He has a concave willy?

COPSTICK
No. There’s a little… It’s like… Oh, for God’s sake, I give up. Anyway, it was…

JOHN
I think you should continue the It’s like sentence.

COPSTICK
It was very cute.

JOHN
It’s like… Come on, I want you to carry on that sentence. It’s like

COPSTICK
Well, men’s penises retract. Most animals’ penises retract almost totally. You’ve seen a horse. Even a horse, with its massive penis, it retracts for the sake of safety.

JOHN
It doesn’t retract. It shrinks.

COPSTICK
It retracts, also. It kind of gets hooked up. Fish. Most male animals. It gets almost totally sucked back up into the body with a little bit poking out. And my little cat has a little tiny, kind of…

JOHN
My Little Cat. There could be a toy range to be had here.

COPSTICK
…little glabial tissue.

JOHN
What’s a glabial tissue?

COPSTICK
Or glabular. What’s it called? Globulus? Glabrous? Glabrous. It means tissue with no hair. Like…

JOHN
Bald. There’s nothing wrong with being bald.

COPSTICK
Yes. Like, like, like… the tissue on your willy.


It was around this point that the man sitting alone at the next table in the cafe moved away with his cup to another seat. It was by the window. I guess he wanted to look out at the traffic driving past Shepherd’s Bush Green. We continued talking. The full podcast is HERE.

The West 12 Shopping Centre

The West 12 Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, London

There will be a live Grouchy Club meeting/show this Tuesday at 6.30pm in the performance area at the back of the Mama Biashara shop in the West 12 Shopping Centre at the south east end of Shepherd’s Bush Green. Mama Biashara is in among the shops by the back end of Morrison’s supermarket. I mention this as the Mama Biashara website is down.

As with our Grouchy Club events at the Edinburgh Fringe, anyone can come. Entry is free.

Tuesday 13th October
Tuesday 10th November
Tuesday 8th December
Tuesday 22nd December

All at 6.30pm

These are not shows where the audience sits and watches. They are aimed at people in showbiz and the media who want to chat about the business and anything else that comes up. Or, as yesterday, talk bollocks. Anyone can come along. A real chat show meeting. A chance to interact with the doyenne of British comedy critics and some fat, slaphead comedy blogger. We are open to anything including occasional live comedy performances.

Luca Cupani (bottom left) at the Awards last night

Luca Cupani (bottom left) at the SYTYF Awards in Edinburgh

This Tuesday Luca Cupani, winner of this year’s So You Think You’re Funny? award at the Edinburgh Fringe will be performing new material for his Fringe show next year. But it’s mainly chat between the audience, Copstick and me. 

Or Copstick just talking bollocks.

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Filed under Humor, Humour, Podcasts, Sex

Comic Janey Godley on the benefits of social media but not of Turkish men

Janey Godley recorded the Grouchy Club podcast yesterday

Janey recorded the Grouchy Club Podcast with me yesterday

This may not be for the easily offended.

As comedy critic Kate Copstick is still in Kenya, yesterday I recorded the weekly Grouchy Club Podcast with comic Janey Godley

We talked about strange acts, swearing, David Cameron’s penis and the pig, the Moth’s storytelling, free shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and UK comedy in general.

Janey published her jaw-dropping best-selling autobiography Handstands in The Dark in 2005 and also started blogging regularly in early 2005. So, during the podcast, we talked about her widespread social media presence. Here is a short extract:


JOHN
You stopped blogging regularly. Why? Were you just going with the trend.

JANEY
Yeah, well, I use Twitter, I use Instagram, I use Vine and people have got access to lots of different… And I Periscope! I was one of the first British comics to use Periscope.

JOHN
Well, you were one of the first bloggers. The sad thing is now you are very Twittery and Periscopey and they’re all transient. They don’t last at all. So people, in two years time, will never see what you’ve done whereas, when you used to blog, there’s something there. But I suppose that’s like live comedy as opposed to recorded comedy.

JANEY
I like the fact that I can Tweet and Periscope. One of the amazing things about Periscope was that, as soon as I started Periscoping, my book started selling (even more) because people all over the world were watching me. Periscope’s a great medium for comedians and people who aren’t worried about folk being abusive online. You get all these beautiful women that go: I’m going to be doing a make-over online and you can talk to me and I’ll be in my bikini. And then you get all these men who go: You’re an ugly bastard! And she’s: Oh my Gawd! I can’t believe you said that! Whereas, if you say that to me, I’ll say : Shut up! Away and fuck yer mother and get burnt in a caravan! I don’t care, y’know?

JOHN
Whenever I see tags for your Periscope, they seem to include things like Kim Kardashian.

JANEY
Yeah, sometimes I dress up as… What I do is sometimes I’ll put on loads of make-up and put on a big hairpiece and I’ll say KIM KARDASHIAN – LIVE ON PERISCOPE! – VIP ACCESS ONLY – There’s no such thing as VIP Access on Periscope. But, immediately, the whole of Turkey… cos Turkish men really love Periscope and they’re really, really abusive and misogynistic on it… I know that sounds like I’m racially profiling, but I can back it up by news reports. Other people have had to ban the majority of men in Turkey who come on Periscope and go: Open boobs! Open boobs! We have a hashtag Open Boobs. They’re asking you to show them your breasts, as opposed to heart surgery.

JOHN
I know. Open boobs! doesn’t quite compute, does it?

JANEY
And we have a song:
Open boobs!
Open boobs!
Open boobs and anal!

They sometimes ask for anal.

JOHN
On Periscope?

JANEY
Abso-fuckin-lutely. If your opening gambit is Open boobs! Anal sex – and sex is spelled SEXCT, which is bizarre… They want sex; they want anal. They want open boobs… So the minute they do that, I abuse them back. It’s a really weird thing that some people think they can abuse you if you’re in the public eye but, if you immediately say: Go fuck yourself! (and sing)

Go fuck your mother
And if your mother’s dead
Dig her up and fuck her instead

… they’re horrified you say that.

But it’s OK for them to say Anal.

JOHN
And this sells books.

JANEY
It does. All my Periscope followers will say: Sing the song, Janey! So, as soon as someone says SEXCT! OPEN BOOBS! I say: Go and fuck your mother! – And there’s a dance – And if your mother’s dead Dig her up and fuck her instead – They’re like: That’s horrific! and I say: You started this, ya cunt!

JOHN
This is a serious point: Periscope is selling your books, but Twitter isn’t?

JANEY
Twitter does as well, but it’s mostly Periscope.

JOHN
And you’re still in print, which is a rare thing, because it’s ten years old, isn’t it?

JANEY
Yeah, yeah. It is still in print and it’s going great.

JOHN
I still think there should be a sequel, but there we go.

JANEY
Yeah, shut the fuck up about the sequel. I don’t want to hear about that any more.

JOHN
You could self-publish the sequel. That’s where the money is.

JANEY
John, there’s nothing to talk about.

JOHN
There is.

JANEY
So…

JOHN
Janey Godley: My Rise To Infamy… I can see it now.

JANEY
Shut up.


The full 22-minute podcast can be heard on Podomatic and downloaded from iTunes.

Janey Godley’s bestselling autobiography

Janey Godley’s bestselling autobiography

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Critic Kate Copstick exposes my sexism.

The podcast, recorded at Mama Biashara, London, yesterday

The podcast, recorded at Mama Biashara, London, yesterday

Comedy critic Kate Copstick and I recorded our weekly Grouchy Club Podcast yesterday.

She talked about the near-miraculously transformative physical effect on her of some recent acupuncture treatment.

But am I going to quote from that extensive, fascinating part of the podcast?

Of course not. I’m going to quote a sexual bit in a sordid bid to increase the hits.


COPSTICK
My father asked me just the other day – I forget how we got onto the subject but – he said: “You were very promiscuous, weren’t you?”

JOHN
Last week?

COPSTICK
When I was staying with him after the (Edinburgh) Festival.

JOHN
You were promiscuous when you were staying with him?

COPSTICK
No no no no no. He asked me when I was staying with him. I think we were talking about my time when I… well… when I was younger… You know, when I was… when I was young, John. When I was young! I was young, once!

JOHN
Last year?

COPSTICK
You know I was young once. We both were, John. We were young! Not now. Not yesterday. Not the day before yesterday, but we were young!

JOHN
Anyway, you were in your erstwhile twenties, I’m presuming this is…

COPSTICK
And thirties.

JOHN
… and thirties.

COPSTICK
And forties.

JOHN
… and forties.

COPSTICK
So, until…

JOHN
You mean you’re over 40?

COPSTICK
Yeah. I know. You heard it first here, people.

JOHN
And so your daddy… Your daddy…

COPSTICK
So my daddy said: “You were very promiscuous, weren’t you?” I said: “Yes I was”. So he said: “Do you regret it?” I said: “No, I don’t.” So there you are. Moving on… What were you going to say?

JOHN
No no no no… And then the conversation switched to what?

COPSTICK
Ehhh… Ummm…

JOHN
Oh to be a fly on the wall.

COPSTICK
Ehhh… Then the conversation went to what one gets out of rampantly promiscuous sex…

JOHN
Semen, I would have thought.

COPSTICK
Some of it was with girls, John.

JOHN
Ah.

COPSTICK
You see? Oh you narrow-minded man! I’m sorry, I’m going to have to report you. You assumed, there, that because I’m female I was always having heterosexual sex with men. I’m sorry, I don’t know if I can do a podcast with you any longer. Not somebody that thinks along – excuse me, I’ve always wanted to use this word in genuine conversation – that thinks along such heteronormative lines. Oh my God! That was so much fun!

JOHN
I am to be crucified just for a cheap gag!

COPSTICK
You’re so heteronormative!

JOHN
Hetero and enormous. It’s seldom anyone’s said this.

COPSTICK
No no. Heteronormative. Your hearing’s going as well. Heteronormative.


This week’s Grouchy Club Podcast lasts just over 27 minutes.

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Buddhism, cats and a missing podcast at the Edinburgh Fringe. And a death.

Simon Caine podcaster

Simon Caine, comedian and host of the disappearing podcast

So, yesterday, I went to see Simon Caine’s comedy show Buddhism and Cats at The Caves in Edinburgh.

Before the show started, I was standing outside, talking to Simon and to Nick Awde of The Stage newspaper. Simon runs a podcast called Ask The Industry where he (according to the website) interviews the most influential people from the worlds of stand up, comedy, writing, TV and radio.

Despite this, I explained to Nick Awde, Simon had recorded a podcast with me. It took two hours back in January this year.

“His logic was,” I told Nick, “I know how I can win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. I won’t run the podcast until after the Fringe has finished… I did tell him this was not going to be an effective strategy.”

Nick Awde singing opera in the streets of Edinburgh yesterday

Nick Awde often sings opera in the streets of Edinburgh

“Well,” said Nick Awde, “it’s cunning. Sort of.”

“The actual idea,” explained Simon, “was that I wasn’t going to run it at all. I was just going to get John round to my flat and tell him about my show for an hour…”

“Two hours,” I corrected him.

“… and,” continued Simon, “just keep plugging my show during the recording and then throw the recording away. That was the cunning stunt. But John said the only way it would work as a cunning stunt was if I didn’t have a podcast to begin with and, unfortunately, I did.”

“Have you thrown the recording away yet?” I asked.

“No.”

“What else do you throw away at the Fringe?”

“Food,” replied Simon, “Every year in the past, I’ve thrown food away, because I don’t eat all the food I buy.”

“Why?” I asked.

Simon Caine - Buddhism and Cats

Simon Caine: Buddhiism, cats leftover food

“Well,” explained Simon, “you buy food with the good intention of eating it but, because you end up going out a lot, you end up eating out and you end up saying Oh, I’ll just have cheesy chips for the next five hours and you don’t eat what you’ve bought.”

“Do you?” I asked. “I buy food when I want to eat something.”

“This year,” said Simon, “I’ve partnered with a homeless food charity in Edinburgh – the Basics Bank – and talked to Alex Petty of the Laughing Horse Free Festival and he’s getting me a spot at the Three Sisters venue and, at the end of the Fringe, comedians who have food left over which they have not yet opened, can come down and donate it to the homeless of Edinburgh.”

A worthy idea but is it just me who fails to understand the problem?

I have never understood the concept, in this day of 24-hour supermarkets and 0700-2300 corner shops, of storing unnecessary amounts of food in a fridge and leaving it there while the sell-by date approaches and passes.

If you want to eat food, buy it. If you don’t want to eat any food yet, don’t buy it.


Yesterday, I saw:

Steve Bennett, comedian

Irish Steve Bennett, trying but failing to hide his ginger beard

Steve Bennett: Groan Up
Steve Bennett is the English owner and editor of the UK’s premier comedy industry website chortle.co.uk … Another Steve Bennett is an Irish comic with a large ginger beard. I saw the latter. He works. The show works.

The Double Life of Malcolm Drinkwater
Patrick Monahan’s very well plotted and scripted play about a hitman, starring himself, Gary Colman, Lucy Frederick and Archie Maddocks. This could easily be a one-hour TV drama. The slogan of the play is that everyone has secrets. Patrick Monahan is, secretly, a good playwright. He hugged every member of the audience on the way out. He is Patrick Monahan.

Ashley Storrie: A Very Tall Storrie
Ashley first appeared at the Fringe in her own hour-long, very well-reviewed stand-up show aged 13. Then she lost interest. This is her second show. She is now 29. It is mostly about sex and she doesn’t put a foot wrong in the writing and comic performance. A future stage and TV star performer and writer.

Simon Caine: Buddhism and Cats
See above. Despite his inability to post podcasts, the show is very good.

Mark Davison has a bunch of friends

A rare shot of Mark Davison as himself, not as Mr Susie…

Mr Susie: Mr Susie’s Last Chance Cabaret
Mark Davison (aka Mr Susie) was about the only person who came out of this year’s Cowgatehead fiasco with any credibility intact. This show co-stars Jayde Adams and Ali Brice with a musical mash-up (written by Laurence Owen) of Les Miserables and The Wizard of OzLes Misard of Oz.

Hanna Winter: Mimi Goes East
I was persuaded to see this because the Cold War story is so interesting: “based on the life of Hanna’s dad, Gabor Varszegi. A Hungarian rockstar. A legend. An absent father in communist Hungary.” This being the Fringe, exactly halfway through, two utterly drunk, very happy and fairly shouty locals came in with the cry: “You’d better be funny!” Hanna carried on, did not go out-of-character, did not lose the attention of the audience, despite the occasionally mouthy female local, and eventually DID lose the drunks, who left without feeling harassed. No mean feat. A great credit to her performance skills.


This morning, I got an e-mail from performer Martin Soan back in London:

Jonty Wright.
Sad to hear Greatest Show on Legs member and Reg Rabbit and the Fast Breeders band member has passed away.

So it goes.

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Can you over-preview comedy shows?

Kate Copstick overcome during the podcast

Kate Copstick (bottom) was overcome during the podcast

Yesterday, comedy critic Kate Copstick and I recorded our weekly Grouchy Club podcast. Topics ranged from Copstick getting drunk and buying vibrators from Poundland to what comedy writer Barry Cryer says when he goes into a pub and why Sean Penn’s hair in Carlito’s Way lost Copstick a job on BBC TV’s Good Morning with Anne and Nick.

But our chat also roamed into talking about Edinburgh Fringe comedy show previews and putting press quotes and stars on Fringe posters. This is a short extract.


JOHN
You absolutely have to do previews for Edinburgh, don’t you, because it’s so important and it’s an hour long?

COPSTICK
Do you, John? Do you?

JOHN
Well, when people do the circuit, it’s 20 minutes or half an hour at most, whereas an Edinburgh hour is about 55 minutes – and to do twice as long is actually more than twice as hard, isn’t it? – To actually get a structure to it.

COPSTICK
I believe that people frequently over-preview. You see people in January saying: It’s an Edinburgh preview!

JOHN
Can you over-preview?

COPSTICK
I think you can over-preview.

JOHN
You become too slick?

COPSTICK
You go to the Fringe, I like to think, to get close to comedy, to see a bit red in tooth and claw and frequently I like to see things, if you’ll pardon the expression, a little loose.

JOHN
What happens if you do over-rehearse it or over-preview? Does it just become…

COPSTICK
I think it becomes stale. I think you (the performer) become stale. As a stand-up, if you’re not interested in and excited by and entertained by and hopefully amused by your own show, then why the hell should anyone else be?

The full Grouchy Club Podcast is in audio at PODOMATIC and iTUNES
and in video at YOUTUBE.

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How to promote an Edinburgh Fringe show – plus some Cowgatehead irony

Kate Copstick, ploughing through the press releases

Kate Copstick assesses the very worst of Fringe press releases

Yesterday ended surreally with (after his show ended) a member of the audience asking marriage advice from Lewis Schaffer.

This is a bit like Peter Buckley Hill (the PBH of PBH Free Fringe) giving advice to a comedian on how to develop and handle a PR strategy at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Earlier in the day, I had gone round to comedy critic Kate Copstick’s home to record our weekly Grouchy Club podcast. Sometimes we record this not just in audio but on video for YouTube and/or we stream it live on Periscope.

Yesterday… no visuals, because of her face.

“I woke up this morning,” she told me, “a horrible puce. Normally I don’t look in mirrors, ever. They crack, of course. Either that or there’s no reflection to see. But this time it was an horrific sight. Massively puffy. Eyes like currants in a dumpling. But a red dumpling.”

So no pictures of her from yesterday.

But we did, in the course of the 39 minute podcast, get round to discussing her job reviewing comedy shows for The Scotsman newspaper during the Edinburgh Fringe and to PR strategies for Fringe comedy shows…


COPSTICK
There is a kind of firewall – which I think is tragic – of paid PRs who can all get to the editors, who can get to the journalists, who have a budget to take them out to lunch or whatever and who, in some cases, have the tenacity of a moray eel once it bites into your leg: it’s just not going to let go.

JOHN
We’ve all been there.

COPSTICK
And it’s hard… I always give out my personal email because I’m happy for anyone to contact me. A lot of reviewers don’t. But I find myself drifting off if I start reading one of these standard It’s all marvellous! – Whoa! – One of London’s top… No! You’re not. If people up here (in Edinburgh) haven’t really heard of you, you’re not one of London’s top anything.

I much prefer – as I’ve had – a few little emails saying: I’m bricking it, terrified, blah blah blah… That is much more likely to appeal. That shows the right attitude. It shows – No 1 – a respect for the Edinburgh Fringe, which is a monumental entity in the comedy industry now… and an acceptance that life – much less the Fringe – much less the press – owes you nothing at all. It is what you make of it.

So, if you’re an individual, some corny pro-forma press release with all the usual buzz words in it is not going to work. A direct e-mail – for me – is much more likely to work. Not a press release, just an e-mail.

Then, once you get up to Edinburgh, play your little heart out, paper your show, just get people in to see it. If you’re on the free Fringe, just try and get as many people in as possible. Because, if you are any good, every single one of these people is a human flyer and you are sending them out there. They are a talking, walking, smiling, reminiscing, sadly often joke-quoting flyer. And they will do you more good than bits of paper.


Much, much more in the online podcast, including Copstick’s e-mail address and one of 21 things you did not know about pornography.

See? Marketing is all about teasing.

Meanwhile, to round off this blog – which started with a humorous suggestion of Peter Buckley Hill giving advice to a comedian on how to develop a PR strategy at the Edinburgh Fringe…

In the continuing saga of one of the worst examples of Fringe PR in recent years, the Cowgatehead saga trundles on. New readers will have to refer to previous blogs, as I am not going to plough through the whole sorry mess of a background again.

Suffice it to say that I have been contacted by an act performing at the PBH Free Fringe “probably for the last time ever, because of the way the Cowgatehead debacle was handled”.

The latest e-mail received by this act from Peter Buckley Hill apparently ends with:

“Here’s to an excellent Free Fringe 2015. The more co-operation there is between shows, the more excellent it will be.”

The act tells me: “I find that kinda ironic.”

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