Tag Archives: podcast

Mansplaining storyteller Dave Pickering

SennMicrophone_wikipedia

Comedy – the new rock ’n’ roll. Storytelling – the new comedy?

I’ve blogged before about the interesting rise of storytelling nights in London, one of which is Stand Up Tragedy. Their next event is this Saturday at the Hackney Attic in London.

I talked to Dave Pickering, who runs the events. He also runs a storytelling night called Spark London – next one is on Monday, also at the Hackney Attic.

When I pressed record on my iPhone, he said:

“I’m very used to being recorded. I record people all the time myself. Very few moments of my life aren’t audio form on the internet these days it seems to me.”

“Except sex,” I joked.

“There is stuff about my sex life that is online,” Dave replied. “I told a story about sex for the Risk! podcast, which Kevin Allison does in America.”

“What’s the difference between Stand Up Tragedy and Spark London?” I asked.

Dave Pickering comperes Stand Up Tragedy

Dave Pickering is compere of Stand Up Tragedy in London

Spark is true storytelling. Stand-up Tragedy is tragedy which can involve true storytelling but can also involve other disciplines.

“My podcast Getting Better Acquainted is about me trying to get to know people I know. I’ve had conversations with my stepdad, my mother, my dad, my friends about things I would never actually normally talk to them about.

“It’s been a fascinating four years of doing that show. It’s about people. For a lot of years, I didn’t really think of my day job as being very connected to outside of it. I was doing that job just to scrape by so I could do what I wanted: I was in bands; I write novels; I write plays; I do lots of different things. Which is why I call myself a storyteller: because that broadly covers all of them.”

“And your day job was…?” I asked.

“My background work-wise, day-job-wise was that I worked as a library assistant for quite a lot of years and then I slowly but surely moved into doing stories and songs for children in libraries – generally under-fives. Then that became my full-time job: I went into children’s centres on behalf of the library service, like an ambassador for the libraries. But then my job was not needed any more: it was part of the government cuts. And that’s how I ended up being a freelance storyteller – whatever that really means.

“I got involved in Spark London about five or six years ago through storytelling. I came along and told a story, got addicted to telling stories and then they decided to put me on stage getting other people to tell stories. Now I run the Hackney branch of Spark.

“We’ve go Spark Preston and Spark Bristol both starting up and we’ve got Spark Brixton and we’ve got a show in Exmouth market every month.”

“Storytelling,” I said, “is getting to be a big thing in America.”

“I think it started with The Moth,” said Dave. “A storytelling podcast. That’s the moment when storytelling hit people’s imagination. Then there are other storytelling shows in America like Risk!

Dave Pickering is a very busy storyteller

“When comedians come to perform at Stand-Up Tragedy, they find it a unsettling – laughs don’t work in the same way”

“I think it’s growing in this country too – people standing on the stage and talking – whether it’s comedy or storytelling – people want a live experience. Comedy has had storytelling moments before. It’s a pendulum, I guess. I think more comedians are moving out of the necessity to make people laugh all the time. When comedians come to perform at Stand-Up Tragedy, they find it a bit unsettling, though, because the laughs don’t work in the same way in a room where you’ve had sad things and then happy things.”

“I think,” I said, “that storytelling needs a better, sexier name to break through. Alternative Comedy took off because it had a sexy name, but Storytelling isn’t quite a strong enough name.”

“Though,” argued Dave, “once you get someone along to a storytelling show, they kinda go Wow! This is something I’ve not seen before and then they come back and, thorough that, I think it is growing. Doing Spark in three parts of London, we’re getting big audiences now.

“One of the things you get out of a storytelling show is you get to be voyeuristic about other people’s lives in a way you don’t feel guilty about and I think we all are interested in each other’s lives.”

“I have,” I said, “been involved in some autobiography books and I’ve told the people writing them: It’s not about facts; it’s about thoughts and emotions. People aren’t interested in a list of facts; they’re interested in people people people.

“With true storytelling,” said Dave, “people think it’s about narrative, but I think it’s about character. When people stand up on stage and reveal something of themselves, we forgive them if they’re clumsy with their words if they’re being genuine and authentic.”

“You are,” I checked, “doing your first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe this year?”

“I guess so,” Dave replied. “It’s called What About the Men? Mansplaining Masculinity.”

Dave’s Edinburgh Fringe show

Dave’s Edinburgh Fringe show: all explained in the title

“It talks about things that have hurt me because I’m a man. Being bullied. The way my mum treated me when I was growing up. The way my stepdad treated me when I was growing up. Violence and stuff. Emotional abuse. It is going to be revealing bad things that have happened to me, but also bad things I’ve done.

“I do think there’s something important in sharing the worst of ourselves as well as the best. Not just bad things but awkwardness. On stage, I try to be an awkward presence. That gives audiences permission to think: Right. We’re all awkward.

“I’ve been doing a survey of men’s experience of being a man. How patriarchy has affected them and how they’ve hurt other people. Lots of men have got very angry about the word patriarchy, but that anger’s also part of the response to my survey of nearly 1,000 men.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Podcasts, Psychology, storytelling

81-year-old Lynn Ruth Miller’s love letter to comic Michael Legge, aged 46

Yesterday’s weekly Grouchy Club Podcast featured not just comedy critic Kate Copstick and me but London-based Italian comics Giacinto Palmieri and Luca Cupani. We recorded an audio version – available on Podomatic and iTunes – and a video version posted on YouTube – at Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in London.

Below is a brief extract.


JOHN
Some performer did a love letter to you this week. who was that?

Giacinto’s passionate missive

Giacinto’s passionate missive

COPSTICK
Giacinto. Well, it wasn’t a love letter. It was a wonderful, wonderful piece of writing.

JOHN
She’s going coy.

GIACINTO
I just shared my ideas on why Copstick is so important – to remind us of the need to be passionate about comedy – The fact that comedy and the arts in general should be about passion. So the passion that she’s bringing to her criticism I think is very important. It is very important to remind us of that. And (speaking to Copstick) also the original way of thinking you are bringing to it and that you apply to this one as well – to the way you approach problems in Africa. I really see…

JOHN
This is the Mama Biashara charity?

GIACINTO
Yes.

COPSTICK
It was just… (a) it was absolutely glorious and (b) it was really well written.

GIACINTO
Thanks.

LUCA
Your English is so good.

GIACINTO
Somebody posted a link to that article with the comment: Who is that cunt? And I was really offended by that little, vile word.

JOHN & GIACINTO (together)
Who!

GIACINTO
After six years in comedy! Come on! Hopefully this will get me a bit more known.

COPSTICK
Yeah, absolutely.

GIACINTO
Hopefully, the next time I do something like this, they will say: Oh! I know that cunt!

COPSTICK
Exactly.

LUCA
You could put on your posters That Cunt.

COPSTICK
Giacinto has spawned, really, what is turning into an entire genre because, the author of that brilliant interrogative Who is that cunt? followed it up with – well, it wasn’t really – a satirical take on…

Michael Legge’s parody

Michael Legge’s parody

JOHN
Who is this?

COPSTICK
Michael Legge.

JOHN
A comedian.

COPSTICK
I would have expected something better from him. It was a kind of vicious but not particularly well-written parody of Giacinto’s

GIACINTO
I’m a parodied author now. It’s amazing. I feel like I’ve done a Bruno Ganz.

COPSTICK
Exactly. And now, just before we went on… iPhone or…

JOHN
…or whatever we’re on…

COPSTICK
… I got an email from the inimitable, indomitable Lynn Ruth Miller and she has, in turn, written a letter parodying Michael Legge’s

GIACINTO
We don’t know if Steve Bennett has accepted it yet. I hope he will.

COPSTICK
We hope that Steve…

JOHN
Who is Steve?

COPSTICK
Steve Bennett of Chortle. You’re really just here as a footnote, aren’t you.

JOHN
I am.

COPSTICK
Any time someone mentions anything, it’s Who’s that?


This is the parody letter Lynn Ruth wrote…


A LOVE LETTER TO MICHAEL LEGGE

This is a Tinder message to Michael Legge whom I do not know and who is young enough to be my grandson but it is a Tinder message nonetheless.

I read his message to the lovely Steve Bennett and I must say I wouldn’t mind a bit of a to-do with Steve as well but for the fact that my vagina resembles the Sahara Desert during a drought and Steve still has a bit of juice left in him, or so he thinks……and I make it a policy not to disillusion the young.

Lynn Ruth Miller wants to rub some matzo balls

Lynn Ruth Miller wants to rub some matzo balls

As I read Michael Legge’s overwhelming desire for coitus with an innocent like Steve Bennett, I realized that what he needs is a tryst with a woman of a certain age to teach him how true sexual satisfaction is achieved.

I would like to dunk us both in a chicken soup bath and rub Michael Legge’s matzo balls in my kishke.

He would experience a kosher sensation that would set his holishkes afire because MY horseradish has such a sizzle, you wouldn’t believe. It is after all,  home-made.

I do not expect to feature at his next show or anything like that but I assure you he will lust after my k’nadles and thirst for a bit of my particular, sensual brand of borscht so much he will forget his punch lines. It was my mother’s recipe and reduced my father to a pile of gribenes, every time she flaunted it. I will become an irresistible red-hot chotchke to Michael Legge and he will succumb, And who can blame him?

I will massage him with layer after layer of hot schmaltz to push his boundaries.  I promise he will be overwhelmed with schpilkes that only I can ease with my adorable little latkes even as I butter his bagel.

Ah, Michael! Once you have tasted my sparkling little shalota and savored the intense pleasure of my gedempte fleisch, all those traife peccadillo’s you thought were the real thing will fade into oblivion and you will discover a passion only a kosher maidle with a luscious kugel can provide.

I must admit I have not worked in a morgue but I assure you that I will be in one far before you will and I will make sure there is a soft, velvet little babka to warm the cockles of your heart or your cock whichever you prefer. You can count on me.

I have not compared notes with Kate Copstick and of course I will move aside for her if she prefers to smother you with greibenes or give you a good bublitchke in your nether region. But always remember that it only takes one taste of the American brand of gefilte fish to make a man out of you.

I hope you will forgive the phonetic spelling in this Tinder message to you but I am so overwhelmed with the urge to schtup your brains out that I cannot be bothered to consult a dictionary.

So what do you say, Michael? Are you as temped by my offer as you are by Steve Bennett’s bum? Do you honestly think that your letter to Steve was half as creepy as that lovely idealistic young man’s accolade to Kate Copstick or my delectable offer to you?

There are still some of us who believe in hearts, flowers and a bit of charoset to give life the flavor it deserves. If you do, too, I’m your little girl.

La Chiam to you darling with a bit of a schmear.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Jewish

New Freestival & Free Fringe words – Cowgatehead Chaos Beyond Our Kens

The Cowgatehead venue last year

Cowgatehead in Edinburgh, scene of the ‘Free’ power tussle

The last couple of days, this blog has been devoted to – mesmerised by – one topic.

Welcome to Day Three.

There can only be two sensible explanations for the wild madness of the current Cowgatehead venue debacle in Edinburgh.

One is that it is an astonishingly intricate attempt to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best publicity stunt at the upcoming Edinburgh Fringe.

The other is that it is all some fly-on-the-wall pilot for an upcoming TV comedy series.

Those are the only two sensible explanations but, of course, any sort of sense has long since been thrown out the window in this ongoing debacle involving an Edinburgh Fringe venue apparently owned and run by three members of the same family, all of whom are called Kenny Waugh and one of whom was the chairman of Hibernian Football Club. 

You can do your own Googling and there are more recent articles, but a piece in the Edinburgh Evening News in 2006 described one of the Kenny Waughs (the Lord only knows how you define which) thus:


The son of former Hibs chairman Kenny Waugh Jnr, 44, is now the owner of Festival Inns – the operator that owns numerous city bars and clubs including The Three Sisters, Beluga and Cargo.

Initially working part time in the pubs run by his father, the former joiner developed a feel for what was required to cut the mustard in Edinburgh’s bar scene.

He went on to form his own public house business, Thistle Inns, in 1990 with his cousin, pub operator Billy Lowe. In 1997 they sold out to brewing giant Scottish & Newcastle for £20 million. “Billy was a pub operator and it seemed an ideal partnership where I could find and build the pubs and he would run them,” Waugh has said.

He then set up Festival Inns, which now owns bars and clubs in Edinburgh, Bridge of Allan, St Andrews and Aberdeen, and has an annual turnover of £25 million.

In a recent survey from The Publican magazine, Mr Waugh was positioned 63rd in the 100 richest people involved in Britain’s licensed trade, with wealth estimated at £13.3 million.


Now back to the current Edinburgh Fringe debacle.

Yesterday afternoon, the Freestival issued a press release. It read: 


Freestival board member Jools Constant met with the licensee of Cowgatehead, Kenny Waugh, this afternoon and has hammered out a compromise agreement under which Freestival would retain the lower 3 floors which are already booked in. Under this arrangement no Freestival acts would be required to move, and all existing time slots would be honoured. PBH would take the upper floors and would have ample space for the 6 rooms he has proposed and would be able to book those as he sees fit. A meeting to discuss this is arranged for next week. Freestival and the Licensee have already confirmed attendance. All that remains is for Peter and the Free Fringe board to sit down with us and work out the details.

We have sent an e-mail to Peter requesting that he meet with us in the spirit of cooperation and in the best interests of the acts.


One might have thought this was an ideal outcome.

Both sides – the Free Fringe and the Freestival – claim to have the welfare of the performers at heart.

This proposed compromise would mean the already booked Freestival shows could go ahead as planned, as paid for and as listed in the Fringe Programme. And the Free Fringe could book in extra shows not printed in the main Fringe Programme (which comes out next week).

Then the Free Fringe posted this as a message on the closed Free Fringe Facebook page. It refers to PBHFF, which means PBH Free Fringe. PBH is Peter Buckley Hill, the man who originated and still controls the Free Fringe organisation:


Performer Doug Segal’s take on the Cowgatehead debacle

Performer Doug Segal’s take on the Cowgatehead debacle

Frank Galbraith

As most of you know since 2010 I have been assisting Peter and the PBHFF Artistic Directors with venue sourcing, negotiating, retention etc amongst other voluntary duties that we all get involved with.

Whilst, understandably, people are looking for information regarding the Venue Cowgatehead, I feel it only right that our own members be given the facts so that we can put a stop to the speculation that PBHFF are somehow to blame for Freestival’s predicament.

To alleviate any doubt, I can confirm that PBH Free Fringe have agreed terms and exchanged signed venue contractual agreements to provide performers at Cowgatehead & Cowshed during Edinburgh Fringe 2015. This information was passed to the fringe office on Thursday 21st May 2015. Copies will be sent to the relevant bodies only.

One thing that most of you weren’t aware of is there were several parties interested in leasing the Cowgatehead space this year, at least four including a bid from Freestival in conjunction with a new sponsor to operate the bars.

When I spoke with the owners during Feb/March this year I expressed our interest in using the Cowgatehead spaces during Edfringe 2015. I was informed by the owners that several bids had already been submitted to lease the entire building and that they were presently considering their options on either leasing as one unit or whether to split into two units. I was also asked if they split into two would PBHFF be interested in also using the top floor levels (George IV Bridge) again as we did in 2014, obviously I said yes and that I would discuss the terms with our license operators and get them to discuss further with the owners and their agents. During my discussions with the license operators I was informed that Freestival had also approached them with an interest in using the entire building.

At this point PBH informed the fringe office that PBHFF may be using the building this year and that no other promoters have confirmation from the owners or lessors to use CGH. PBH also advised the fringe office that they should be wary of accepting adverts from any performers until the licensees and promoters status was confirmed. I also know this information was relayed to Freestival as they had informed the fringe office that they have confirmed use of the spaces for 2015.

As you now know PBH was contacted by the newly announced lessor of the building and asked if he would promote the venue this year. When PBH informed him that we had discussed providing the entertainment with one of the other interested parties he said he already knew this. When we also told him that Freestival had already informed the fringe office that they were using the venue and that they had already booked acts, the lessor was furious and stated that he did not nor would he be giving them permission. He also stated that he couldn’t have given such permission anyway as he had not yet secured the lease himself.

As we had already received an indication from the owners that PBHFF, to at least some degree, would be operating as the venue promoters this year we put on standby several performers for the venue. However, we decided not to declare this until we had 100% confirmation and a signed contractual agreement.

Having further discussed the offer to promote the venue with our Artistic Directors we met with the lessor the following day and signed the agreement contracts.

With regards to St John’s (Bar Bados) the lessor informed us that it was decided last year that no shows would be programmed into the venue for 2015 should the venue be made available to him. The reason being sound pollution from the bar was interfering with the performances and the performers were asking that the bar area be kept quiet or not be used during all performances. As a result bar taking suffered. The lessor also confirmed that no agreement is/was in place with Freestival to use the venue this year and we also have a signed venue contractual agreements to provide suitable musical acts this year.

With regards to Tron Kirk we also have a signed venue contractual agreements to promote all acts during the fringe and our Artistic Directors for music and cabaret have been informed.

Whilst the allocations and booking of acts has absolutely nothing to do with me, I have been assured that every consideration will be given to the performers affected and that PBH and the Artistic Directors are presently working on the list.

There also seems to be some discussion about the number of available spaces/stages within CGH this year. We have discussed this with the lessor and it is totally impractical to put 9 stages in the available floors. We are presently discussing options for the best usage of possible additional space within the building and hope to announce the details in a few days.

This has been an extremely busy time for all the team at PBHFF, not withstanding looking after 40+ Venues with 60+ stages this year, whilst trying to accommodate a backlog of 100’s of performance applications over and above those that were promised slots by Freestival.

It is now disappointing to see that some people are going on the attack without first knowing the circumstances. However it is even more disappointing to read the statements made by Freestival basically accusing PBH of stealing their venue out of spite.

For the record, when I spoke to the parties that were involved in tendering for the CGH space they informed me that Freestival were never promised use of the venue. From what I now read they are saying that negotiations was with their sponsors it was their sponsor that negotiated the agreement due to their involvement with the building. That statement is inaccurate as their sponsors have no connection with CGH and are/were not in a position to give any assurances that Freestival would be the venue promoters no matter who were the licensees.

I also find it extremely disturbing that Freestival claim to have entered into discussions with two of the parties that were tendering for the site and agreed with them to provide all their entertainment, a claim that is denied by the parties, and then go directly to the property owner and submit their own bid to lease the site and run the bars along with another new sponsor they had approached.

PBHFF have now had to suffer a backlash of derogatory comments in the press and on social media about how the PBHFF team operates. Let me assure you that we are not smarting over this situation and completely sympathise with the performers that have been let down due to the mismanagement of their promoters. We have conducted ourselves in a professional and ethical manner during our negotiations with all parties involved. However, we will not accept unjustified criticism from the people that caused this situation just to try and save face.

PBHFF will continue with the same ethos to promote the true free non for profit model that was put together by most of the performers involved in these discussions. We do not accept sponsorship or grants, we work in harmony with the goodwill of our venue owners and performers to offer a totally free platform for the performers. We don’t pay for venues, we don’t charge our performers a registration fees or take advanced audience bookings to watch a free show for £5.

The PBHFF model has worked for the last 20 years and we hope for it to continue for the foreseeable future.

I trust this explains the situation thus far, well from my perspective anyway. Let’s hope that, given the opportunity, the performers issues can be resolved amicably and we all have a really good Edinburgh Fringe 2015 and beyond!

sláinte

Frank
PBHFF
Venues Coordinator

UPDATE: The PBHFF team are working extremely hard to resolve the situation for the Freestival acts. Having just now discussed the situation with the licensee, in light of recent Freestival claims, PBH will remain as venue promoter for Cowgatehead & Cowshed. A further planned meeting has been arranged for later this week and all performers will be updated.


Call me old-fashioned, but the phrase “completely sympathise with the performers” used in the above does seem tailor-made for any proposed TV sitcom based on all these shenanigans.

I am merely a bemused observer, but all this seems to me to be more about controlling a venue and not about the welfare of and financial consequences to the performers. A classic case of the road to Hell being paved with long-forgotten good intentions.

There was a sentence in there that said: “Let’s hope that, given the opportunity, the performers issues can be resolved amicably.”

It seems to me that a possible opportunity arose and was rejected.

Copstick and me, both bemused, at the Grouchy Club Podcast yesterday

Copstick and me, both bemused, at the Grouchy Club Podcast

Yesterday, between the issuing of the Freestival press release and the Free Fringe Facebook posting, comedy critic Kate Copstick and I recorded our weekly Grouchy Club Podcast.

Now overtaken by events, it may still be of interest. It discusses, among other things, the Cowgatehead chaos, Copstick’s admiration for Peter Buckley Hill and Scottish law under which (unlike English law) an oral agreement is legally binding.

The 40-minute podcast is available in audio

– on Podomatic

– on iTunes

And in vision on YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh

The weekly Grouchy Club Podcast, a pea in a belly button and the man on a train

Copstick and me podcasting from a London sofa

Copstick & me podcasting this afternoon from a comfortable sofa somewhere in London

Comedy critic Kate Copstick and I recorded our weekly Grouchy Club Podcast today, from a sofa somewhere in London. I failed to introduce it properly because I failed to know what date it is today.

I was feeling vague. I often do. 

This is how the podcast starts:


Copstick
It’s Sunday the 12th of April.

John
Which year?

Copstick
2015

John
Are we sure about this?

Copstick
Yes, I’m absolutely sure about this.

John
Even in the Jewish calendar that Lewis Schaffer follows?

Copstick
Not at all in the Jewish calendar, because we’re not going by the Jewish calendar and we are not mentioning Lewis Schaffer.

John
But we just have – twice.

Copstick
No! The fact that you just drop his name in doesn’t count on some spurious…

John
It wasn’t spurious. He’s Jewish and…

Copstick
It was spurious.

John
… he’s got a calendar.

Copstick
There’s no need to bring Judaism into it this early in the podcast.

John
It’s not Judaism. It’s Lewis Schaffer.

Copstick
You’re just saying it again.

John (thinking aloud)
Jewish Schaffer.

Copstick
You’re just doing this to win a bet. You’re not allowed to talk about him any more. I did go on Facebook and ask people to suggest things that are non-him-related that we could talk about and nobody apart from Pope – how do you pronounce his second name?

John & Copstick (in unison)
Lonergan

Copstick
Pope Lonergan suggested…

John
Pope Lonergan the Second…

Copstick
… either Jabontinsky, who was a dreadful revisionist Zionist chap who wanted a Jewish state on both sides – quote “both sides” – of the Jordan. And his alternative to that was James Joyce. I don’t like James Joyce. I battled my way through his works when I was in school. I like more punctuation than James Joyce puts in his novels.

John (to the recording device)
So… Welcome to the Grouchy Club podcast which is about comedy.

Copstick
Generally speaking.

John
… and Lewis Schaffer.

Copstick
No it’s not! And just saying the name doesn’t win you the bet. I want to talk – well, not really, but I’m grasping at straws here…

John
You always want to talk.

Copstick
Did you see…

John
No.

Copstick
Did you see the Madonna?

John
I did.

Copstick
Stand-up.

John
I did.

Copstick
What did you think?


We continued for another 38 minutes covering, among other things:

music star Madonna as a stand-up comedian, the Edinburgh Fringe, Trevor Noah, Reggie Watts, Canadian comedians, Abnormally Funny People, Tanya Lee Davis, the Malcolm Hardee Awards, Liz Carr, more James Joyce, comics who are funny off-stage, Martha McBrier, Janey Godley, Glasgow humour, non-funny humour, the TV series Scotch and Wry, Rikki Fulton, Scottish and Scandinavian humour, Norman Lovett, Stewart Lee, BBC TV comedy commissioning, Michael McIntyre, Tony Blair, God, Kenya, al-Shabaab, the Islamic State, Sara Mason’s new show title, Bob Slayer’s Heroes venues and Italian comics…

Pea found two days after a failed belly dance

Pea found two days after a failed belly dance

And Lewis Schaffer.

And the pea I found in the bath, which I think had been in my belly-button for two days after a sadly short and failed attempt at belly-dancing. The origin of the pea remains fundamentally uncertain but, with limited clues, this is the best solution I can come up with.

Plus Copstick’s offer to stage free London shows in a 45-50-seater space for comedians who want to preview their Edinburgh Fringe (or other) shows between mid-May and August this year.

A true Socialist with commendably groomed hands

A committed Socialist with excellent hands

I then went home on the train and sat opposite a man wearing a lot of badges who was reading the Weekly Worker socialist newspaper. His hands did not look like a man who had done much manual labour.

I am only saying. I may well have seriously miscalculated and misjudged his endeavours and experience. I am sure he is very nice. And certainly caring.

Now I think I am going to a very early bed. I feel quite exhausted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, Podcasts

Critic Kate Copstick on TV comedy and grey-haired Lewis Schaffer’s sex appeal

Copstick and moi recording the podcast yesterday

Copstick et moi record the Grouchy Club Podcast yesterday

Yesterday, Kate Copstick and I recorded our sixth Grouchy Club Podcast at her Mama Biashara charity shop in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Amid talk of sex and a Manchester Hotel which used to be a brothel, the subject of comedian Lewis Schaffer’s sex appeal came up.


COPSTICK

… and he’s looking well. Even since he stopped dying his hair.

Lewis Schaffer’s flyer image for his Leicester Square shows

Lewis Schaffer with his dyed hair – even then a heart-throb?

JOHN

Ah, now… Sex and Lewis Schaffer and his hair. I think it makes him look older and therefore less attractive I would have thought – I don’t know, but…

COPSTICK

No. He’s become a bit of a silver fox, don’t you think?

JOHN

Women keep telling me he’s more attractive with his grey hair. I would have thought, if you’re a stand-up comedian, you have to be young.

COPSTICK

With Lewis and the jet-black hair, there was a definite hint of Lenny Beige.

Not Lewis Schaffer - Lenny Beige

It’s not Lewis Schaffer – It’s Lenny Beige

JOHN

(LAUGHING) For people who don’t know Lenny Beige, he was a sort-of fake lounge lizard comedian.

COPSTICK

(IN AMERICAN ACCENT) Fantastic! With more or less the same accent as Lewis Schaffer. A funny, funny man.

JOHN

But fake. As, indeed, is Lewis because, of course, he’s from Birmingham.

COPSTICK

Of course… And he’s not a failure.

JOHN

Well yes. Poor old Lewis Schaffer, who’s made his entire reputation out of being a failure and having a show called…

COPSTICK

He’s been on the (BBC Radio 4) Today programme, for fucksake!

JOHN

I know. His show was called Free Until Famous and now he’s charging a tenner (£10) in Edinburgh to get in and a tenner in Leicester Square for the last god knows how long.

Lewis Schaffer in his weekly Leicester Square Theatre show

Lewis Schaffer in his weekly Leicester Square Theatre show International Man of Misery

COPSTICK

Where’s he going to? That’s the thing. If you build a career on failure, when you start to succeed, where do you go?

JOHN

Upwards. He’s going to fail at being a failure, therefore he’s going to go upwards. Most people fail at being a success and go downwards.

COPSTICK

But then is he going to be able to get away with stumbling on stage and just talking shit for an hour?

JOHN

Well, yes. It’s very interesting shit he talks. Did you see the video of the Today programme? That was interesting.

COPSTICK

There are videos of the Today programme?

JOHN

They seem to have some sort of webcam up in the corner.

COPSTICK

That’s very modern of them. With John Humphries?

Lewis Schaffer on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

Lewis Schaffer on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in March

JOHN

They had a webcam and someone gave the link to Lewis and he put it online on Facebook and he looked really good on camera. John Humphries was in the corner shuffling papers, because it wasn’t his serious item. But Lewis looked really good on television. He would be really good on television documentaries. He’s not a stand-up comedian because he can’t replicate the act phrase-for-phrase, pause-for-pause in rehearsals, dress rehearsals and the take. But he’d be very good on like My View of Britain. It would be like Letter From America with Alistair Cooke.

COPSTICK

He does… He chunters… He’s a bit like Phil Kaye, who can be absolutely genius on stage or can be What the fuck was all that about? And that sort of thing is very difficult to capture on television because you are time constrained on television. When someone rambles the way Phil or Lewis rambles, it’s not rambling in a way you can chop down to make something succinct.

JOHN

You need nerves of steel as a producer and just let it go. I was in the audience at London Weekend for the first episode of a Michael Barrymore series and they kept interrupting the show to say to Michael that he had gone off script and they kept putting him back on script, which was completely mad. You want to let him loose, hope for the best, have nerves of steel and have a very good director who can edit…

At the time of posting, the BBC website has a video clip of Lewis Schaffer on the Today programme.

Leave a comment

Filed under Age, Comedy, Television

Sexism in comedy + a cripple, a lesbian, two ethnic minorities and a spaceman

Copstick and Faulkner podcast at the Comedy Cafe Theatre

Copstick & Faulkner podcast at Comedy Cafe

Yesterday, I blogged an extract from the latest weekly Grouchy Club Podcast, in which Comedy Cafe Theatre owner Noel Faulkner talked about smuggling 4 tons of marijuana into the US.

In another part of the podcast, this subject came up:

“… and it’s the same with female comics,” said critic Kate Copstick, “They go up on stage and you can see the whole room going: Oh, fuck! It’s going to be tampons and ‘my boyfriend’. And then the comic has got to pull the room back and that is just the way things are. There’s an awful lot of them sit around moaning because there is a type of Oh no! feeling in the room at some clubs at some times. If you’re good, you pull it back and people go: Fantastic!

“But you,” I told Copstick, “notoriously don’t like female comics… it is said.”

“I don’t like bad comics,” argued Copstick.

“I agree with you,” said Noel Faulkner.

“I don’t like obvious comics,” Copstick continued. “Tim Renkow, for example, could do eight hours straight on the cerebral palsy thing, but he doesn’t. He just talks about life, happening to have cerebral palsy.”

“If Zoe Lyons goes on stage,” agreed Noel, “bang!– 2 seconds – I’ve seen her destroy wankers, whereas some comics would say I’m not going on to these bastards. Zoe Lyons? Bang!

“You’re not looking at someone for their sexuality; you’re listening; we’re there to hear the gags. If it’s from a woman’s perspective or a minority’s perspective, that gives it a hook of some sort. It can be funny to hear their perspective. Good comics are good; bad comics are bad.

“The problem is that there’s a scarcity of good female comics, so a lot of weaker female comics get right through to television because they (TV producers) are afraid of being called sexist and, as a result, we see some very weak females on television and that does a lot of damage.”

“This,” I said, “is the Andrew Lawrence argument.”

“There is nothing more sexist,” continued Noel, “than booking someone because of their sex. If I’m booking you because you’re a female and you’re not up to it, then that’s being sexist. But tell that to a lot of people who hate me.”

Kate Copstick at the Comedy Cafe Theatre bar before recording the Grouchy Club podcast

Copstick, relaxing (?) before recording Grouchy Club podcast

“That is absolutely, absolutely right,” said Copstick. “Also, some women who are minorly funny in any way – and THIS is the Andrew Lawrence point – are being booked to go on panel shows now because panel shows are running shit-scared of not having at least one cripple, one lesbian, two ethnic minorities and a spaceman.”

“I am still,” said Noel, “waiting to get booked for the lesbian spot.”

“Well,” said Copstick, “you can play the Tourette’s card (Noel has Tourette’s syndrome) – Oh, mind you, they’d be terrified of that as well, in case you say Fuck in the wrong place.”

“That,” said Noel, “would only be when they tell me what they’re paying me.”

“But,” continued Copstick, “they say: This person of the female persuasion has once written something vaguely funny in a column somewhere. Let’s call her a female comic and we’ll get her on Have I Got The Buzzcocks For Eight Out of Ten Cats.”

“Yeah,” said Noel, “there’s a lot of good female comics… I’ve seen a lot of bitterness from comics on all sides, but I’ve had more run-ins with females than males. Because the males think: Well, I’ve got to let it go because, if I tell the guy where it’s at, then he’s never going to book me. Who is going to book someone who argues?

“And I’ve had people twist my words. I said to one girl: You should be more feminine. You’re an attractive woman. Be more feminine on stage. Of course, it was thrown back in my face later in an e-mail, when I wasn’t giving her a 20-minute booking, that I had told her she had to be ‘sexier’. Think I’m that fucking stupid? In the last three years, I’ve had three really rude females and I’ve only had one nutter guy who never even got to the club because his e-mail was so rude.”

“What is the difference,” I asked, “between being sexually attractive and being feminine?”

“Oh John!” gasped Copstick. “Wash your mouth out!… You’re just saying that to be provocative.”

“That’s a matter of taste,” answered Noel.

“What is?” I asked.

“Well,” said Noel, “you asked the question What’s the difference between sexually attractive and feminine?”

“You,” I said, “were saying Be more feminine. She was complaining about being told to be more sexually attractive.”

“Some girls,” explained Noel, “that are very attractive, dress down and say: Well, I don’t want men looking at me for my body; I want them to hear my voice.

“Well do radio,” suggested Copstick.

The successfully diversified yet slightly grumpy Noel Faulkner

The successfully diversified yet slightly grouchy Noel Faulkner

“But,” continued Noel, “I said the same thing to a guy. I said: You look like the guy who just delivered the ice! Could you, like, wear a clean shirt? It’s show-business, folks! The business of showing. When you’re on stage, it’s 90% show, 10% business. When you’re off-stage, it’s 90% business, 10% show. Get that into your thick skulls and, if you wonder why I haven’t asked you back when you come here in a dirty, smelly tee-shirt and greasy hair… Everybody in the audience has dressed themselves up for the night, they’re all looking beautiful and you put on this greasy guy. Are you charging me £15 to see this guy?

“Yes,” agreed Copstick, “because it also looks like they don’t give a shit. It’s the register of your attitude to the people you’re going to see. If you’re going to see prospective in-laws, you’d presumably smarten yourself up a bit. If you’re going to a business meeting, you’d wear…”

“If you’re from Liverpool,” Noel prompted., “and you’re going to court…”

“Exactly,” said Copstick. “What do you call a man in a shirt and tie?… The Accused… But the other thing that irritates me and you get it a lot – I don’t know why I’m on Facebook, because it just irritates me – is this thing of… Oh, somebody said (a venue said) they had two female comics on the bill and didn’t want a third. Well, if you’re doing a really mixed bill, if you already had two very heavily political comics, you probably wouldn’t book a third. If you had two guys who only do puns…”

“Yeah,” agreed Noel. “That’s why (as a booker) you always have to see the material. You mix it up. It’s like making a bloody salad. You say: How many colours have I got in this salad and…

“I’m not sure,” Copstick interrupted, “that you’re allowed to say ‘colour’ now..”

You can hear the full 36 minute podcast HERE.

And you can see the video  of a 3-minute conversation Copstick had with Noel AFTER the podcast recording ended, on YouTube HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy

3 tips for podcasting and broadcasting

At The Grouchy Club yesterday: a bad selfie of Coptick and me

Hosting The Grouchy Club at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe

Tomorrow, comedy critic Kate Copstick and I are co-hosting a live Grouchy Club chat show at the Jewish Comedy Day in North West London.

Immediately afterwards, we are recording our second Grouchy Club podcast.

Yesterday, someone gave me three tips for podcasting.

The third one, I think, holds true for doing anything creative in general.

1) Making a mistake doesn’t matter because you will learn from it. The only crime is to leave a silent gap (except for  comic effect!).

2) If people love or hate something you do, it means they treat you seriously. Either is good. If people don’t care one way or the other, they have no respect for you.

3) You don’t have to listen to your successes, but you should always listen to your failures… You can learn to be better  from your mistakes. You can’t learn anything from your successes except complacency.

There is a 10-minute video clip on YouTube taken from last weekend’s 43-minute Grouchy Club audio podcast.

The general page for The Grouchy Club podcasts is HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Podcasts