Tag Archives: podcast

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

Police corruption according to a Grouchy Club comedy critic & a blogger

Kate Copstick and I expressed our views at The Grouchy Club

Kate Copstick and I expressed our views at The Grouchy Club

Yesterday’s blog was two brief extracts from the first Grouchy Club “mostly comedy” weekly podcast with Kate Copstick and me.

Before Copstick was an actress or TV personality or comedy critic or ran the Mama Biashara charity, she was a lawyer in Scotland – an Advocate. During the podcast, I asked her why she changed careers. Was it because she got fed up with trying to get guilty clients found innocent?


COPSTICK
Exactly the opposite. I stopped being a lawyer because I sat one too many times in a court where members of, for example, the Serious Crimes Squad lied in their teeth.

JOHN
This is in Glasgow?

COPSTICK
In Glasgow and Edinburgh. I realised that Law is just a big posh boys’ game where your accent will always matter and money will always matter and everything other than innocence or guilt will always matter and I was on a very fine knife-edge between thinking… well, I did… I thought: If they’re going to lie, then I’ll lie – and that is the slippery slope.

JOHN
Well, the only people who lie more than lawyers and solicitors and barristers are the p…

COPSTICK
The police, yes.

JOHN
… and, bizarrely, all the criminals I’ve met have actually been terribly honest.

COPSTICK
Well exactly. The most frightening people I met – ever – were members of the Serious Crimes Squad in the Glasgow police.

JOHN
Does the Serious Crime Squad still exist? – I think the London one was dismantled because it was so corrupt (in fact, it was the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad).

COPSTICK
I sincerely hope not. (It does.) There was a code – It’s ridiculous – It’s all that Oh no! We only slit the throats of the bad guys – But there always seemed to me to be a kind of a code of honour…

JOHN
Among thieves?

COPSTICK
Among thieves and murderers and armed robbers. I would have been a terrible… I’m a far too emotional and shouty and not-watching-my-mouth person to be a decent lawyer.

JOHN
I’ve always found criminals are very upset by injustice, which is bizarre.

COPSTICK
Yes. Absolutely.

JOHN
They commit crimes and, if they get caught, fair enough: that’s part of the game.

COPSTICK
Yes.

JOHN
But if a genuine injustice is done, they get terribly uppity about it…

COPSTICK
Absolutely.

JOHN
… whereas a policeman just thinks that is part of the game.

COPSTICK
Those in charge of the system are the ones in whose interest it is to keep the system corrupt.

JOHN
If proof were needed, this is an example of how this podcast might not always be comedy.

COPSTICK
Well, indeed.


The Grouchy Club’s first 43-minute weekly audio podcast is available to hear HEREwith a 10-minute video extract on YouTube. The Grouchy Club will be live at London’s Jewish Comedy Day this coming Sunday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Legal system, Police

How do you win an increasingly prestigious Cunning Stunt Award?

The Malcolm Hardee Awards, with ‘Million’ award in middle

The Malcolm Hardee Awards await collection near Edinburgh

Every August at the Edinburgh Fringe, I give away three increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards in memory of the godfather of British alternative comedy. One of these is a Cunning Stunt Award for the best stunt publicising a Fringe show or act.

And every year, around this time, people ask me for the definition of Cunning.

Well, non-cunning stunts are easy to think up. You can walk up and down the High Street in Edinburgh wearing a read nose and handing out flyers.

That is a stunt but is in no way cunning.

Christian Talbot’s increasingly prestigious Cunning Stunt Award

Kate Talbot’s increasingly prestigious Cunning Stunt Award

Last year, the Cunning Stunt Award went to comedian Christian Talbot and his 12 year-old daughter Kate.

Cute Kate would wander around the streets outside Christian’s venue looking sad and distraught, go up to strangers and say plaintively: “Have you seen my daddy?”

When they replied in the negative, she would tell them: “Well, you should, because Kate Copstick of The Scotsman says he’s an engaging performer” and give them a flyer.

The Fringe has reduced comedian Lewis Schaffer to this

Lewis Schaffer – a man not unused to cunning publicity stunts

In 2009 – a year when Perrier stopped sponsoring some other less increasingly prestigious awards – Lewis Schaffer won the Cunning Stunt Award for a fake press release which fooled several publications into printing stories (which they believed) saying he was taking over sponsorship of the awards for £99 and was re-naming them The Lewies. This resulted in a threat of legal action from the awards’ organiser and his agent sacked him. But he did win the Cunning Stunt Award, so it wasn’t all gloom and doom..

The Award started in 2008 when performer Gill Smith sent me an email saying she was nominating herself for the main Malcolm Hardee Award on the basis that, if she nominated herself in the email, she could justifiably put on her posters: MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD NOMINEE. She thought Malcolm would have approved. I agreed and gave her the first Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.

One of Malcolm’s own cunning stunts at the Fringe, of course, was the year when he and Arthur Smith wrote a glowing review of Malcolm’s own show and put it in a tray at The Scotsman under the name of that august publication’s own reviewer William Cook. The Scotsman printed it, thinking it was a legitimate review.

Bob Slayer & Kate Copstick exchange specs & tongues yesterday

Bob Slayer found another way to influence  Kate Copstick

Another legendary stunt was the year Scotsman critic Kate Copstick (a Malcolm Hardee Awards judge) gave comedian Jason Wood’s show a 1-star review. He immediately plastered his posters and flyers with the strapline: “A STAR” – THE SCOTSMAN.

These are definitive cunning stunts.

Last year (or it might have been two years ago – I have a shit memory) an act publicised his show by having lots of ginger haired people march through Glasgow.

I got a vitriolic letter later from a PR man berating me for not nominating this for the Cunning Stunt Award because the stunt had got worldwide press and TV coverage.

But it was not in any way a cunning stunt. It was just a stunt – and a little odd as it happened in Glasgow. It was no different to walking up and down the Royal Mile wearing a red nose. There was no con involved.

In 2013, Barry Ferns rightly won the Cunning Stunt Award for a series of stunts including publishing fake editions of Edinburgh Fringe review sheets Broadway Baby and Three Weeks publicising his own show, but we sort-of gave a second award (which we called the Pound of Flesh Award) to Ellis & Rose.

Could Gareth be cruising for another bruising?

Comic Ellis was prepared to do anything for publicity…

Ellis had been beaten-up in the street by a punter angry about the duo’s Jimmy Savile comedy show.

Except it never happened. In fact, Ellis’ comedy partner Rose had repeatedly punched him in the face to give him a bruised cheek and genuine black eye… all to get a few inches of column space publicising themselves and their shows.

Like Lewis Schaffer doing a stunt in 2009 which lost him his agent, this seemed commendably OTT in stunt terms. And definitely cunning.

All this comes to mind because, a couple of weeks ago, Simon Caine invited me to be on his Ask The Industry podcast in the mistaken belief that I am increasingly prestigious in the comedy world and that he might get a Cunning Stunt Award for setting up a podcast solely so he could plug himself to allegedly influential people.

Previous interviewees had included Julian Hall (former comedy reviewer for the Independent and former Malcolm Hardee Awards judge), Alex Petty of the Laughing Horse comedy clubs and Edinburgh Free Festival) and Hils Jago (of the Amused Moose clubs and Comedy Awards).

Simon Caine Podcast

Simon Caine has another cunning idea – interviewing clothes

I told Simon that, if you set up a podcast simply to plug yourself to the people you invite on it, that is a commendable stunt but not a cunning stunt.

It would only be a cunning stunt if you invited people to the podcast recording, spoke to them for an hour and actually there was no podcast.

Sadly, he has scuppered his chances because there is a (very good) ongoing series of podcasts.

He has suggested he can get round this by never uploading the podcast with me or by not uploading it until September – after the Fringe has finished – but I am currently not convinced.

Watch this space.

This year, Ellis & Rose already have a cunning stunt up-and-running. I have told them, if they can keep it going successfully until August without anyone noticing, I will nominate them for a Cunning Stunt Award (provided they actually do use it in August to publicise an Edinburgh Fringe show).

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, PR

Why comedian Richard Herring thinks creating free comedy will make money

A ‘selfie’ taken by Richard Herring last week

A ‘selfie’ taken by Richard Herring last week

Richard Herring’s career and credits are a bit like Irish or Balkan politics or his hair – you could go mad trying to disentangle it. Go read Wikipedia.

But, between 1992 and 2000, he first became famous (or arguably for a second time, if you count radio) as a double act with Stewart Lee for their TV series Fist of Fun and This Morning With Richard Not Judy.

He has been writing his weekly Metro newspaper column for two years – he wrote his 100th last Friday. And he has written his daily blog Warming Up for 11 years. He recorded The Collings and Herrin Podcast 2008-2011 with Andrew Collins and has been podcasting solo since then.

He also co-wrote Al Murray’s 2000-2002 Sky TV series Time Gentlemen Please.

Next week, he records the second episode of his self-financed online TV series Richard Herring’s Meaning of Life at the Leicester Square Theatre.

Last June, he wrote in a Daily Telegraph article that he thought the world was “approaching a revolution in entertainment similar to the one a century ago that led to the explosion in film-making… We are our own media moguls, and as such are denting the power and influence of those who have traditionally held the reins.”

He says: “I am increasingly excited about the artistic possibilities of the internet”.

“After Time Gentlemen Please, I had a bit of time,” he told me last week at Bar Italia in London.. “So I thought if I wrote a blog – Warming Up – every morning it would get my brain working, then I would do the proper work I was meant to be doing.

“I wasn’t doing stand-up at the time. I’d done a couple of one-man shows. I wasn’t looking to create stand-up material from the blog. But, when I started doing stand-up again in about 2004 I found, having written something every day, you could look through it and there might be a routine in it you would never have thought of doing if you hadn’t already written the stuff.

Richard’s new project - his own TV series

Richard’s current self-made online project – his own TV series

“Even now, when I’m writing Meaning of Life, I can type PARANORMAL or GHOSTS into the search engine and 20 or 30 blog entries will come up. So quite a lot of things in the second episode come from my blog of 5 or 6 or 10 years ago: it’s a great resource. There’s so many things in there I can’t remember writing which might make good routines. I’ve just passed the 4,000th entry and I’ve written something like 2 million words. The blog’s been a really great way of getting good at writing succinctly. Often, when I really hit form, a blog will be almost perfect as a routine; then, if I take it on stage and play around with it…’

“Good forward planning?” I asked.

“No,” said Richard. “I didn’t start the blog with any intentions other than thinking it would be a good way of getting people to come to my website every day. With all the stuff I’ve put on the internet the impetus, really, has been I’d rather get this stuff out there than just sit there either not doing anything or doing stuff which nobody ever sees.

Al Murray’s sitcom series actually got made

Al Murray’s sitcom series actually got made

“Over the last ten years, I’ve written quite a lot of scripts and, since Time Gentlemen Please, I’ve only had one that was actually made for TV – and even that was just a one-off thing which didn’t get to a series. I’ve probably written 8 or 9 different pilots. I got paid for them all, which is great, but it’d be nicer if they had got made as series because then you’d actually get paid some proper money.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve had a lot of ideas and TV and radio haven’t always been… I mean, I’ve always done OK, but they haven’t been desperate to employ me. So it’s kind of nice now you can go on the internet and just show you can do something. It’s hard work and I think a lot of comedians don’t get this about the business: there’s so many people trying to be comedians and writers now and a lot of them work really, really, really hard and, if you’re not prepared to work as hard, you’re not going to break through.

“It’s good to keep pushing yourself and I think, with the internet now, you make your own success. You can’t sit back now and say Ooh, if they’d let me on TV, I’d be amazing because you can just do it yourself now. You can write your own articles, you can make your own radio show, you can make your own online TV shows now.”

“But can you make any money out of all this hard work?” I asked.

“Well, I think you can,” Richard told me, “because, if you believe in yourself and you’re good… I mean, I would say I am giving away for free maybe 70% of what I do. And then I tour and then I do DVDs and I make money on that and doing bits and pieces here and there. I’m making more money now than I’ve ever made before and I can’t really sit down and work out why that is – apart from the fact that the podcasts I have done have trebled my audience.

Even after Fist of Fun, Richard Herring (left) and Stewart Lee were not getting enormous bums on seats

Even after their TV success with Fist of Fun, Richard (left) and Stewart Lee were not getting enormous bums on theatre seats

“Even directly after we were on TV with Lee & Herring, I might sell 30 tickets for live shows or, if I was lucky, I might sell 100 tickets. I would perform in London and 50 people might come and see me. That was directly after the TV series. People knew who I was and we had fans, but they weren’t coming out.

“Then I stopped stand-up; did the blogs; came back to stand-up; started to do the podcasts; did the Edinburgh Fringe pretty much every year doing different types of shows; then I started touring the shows; and, over the last 12 years, I’ve toured a show every year.

“We started doing the podcasts almost exactly six years ago. We gave the podcasts out for free but, if I said on the podcast Oh, I’ll be in Bristol this week, if there were 100 people listening in Bristol and 50 decided to come along, that would immediately double my audience.”

“What’s it like now?” I asked.

“I’m not like a TV presence,” Richard shrugged. “I can’t go out and do a 1,000 seater. I can play in 500-seater theatres and I’ll still get 100 people in some places, but I’ll probably average about 300 people which is a very good living. When you do 30-50 people, you’ll break even and maybe make a little bit of money. When you get 300 plus, you can make a lovely living touring the country if those people keep coming.

“If you get on TV, yes they’ll think Oh, it’s that guy on TV and lots of people will come and see you, but a third of them will not really know what to expect. The way I’ve done it, which is much harder work though more satisfying, is to do 12 consecutive years of touring on my own. So maybe people who have enjoyed that show will come the next year and bring a friend. And the people who have enjoyed the podcasts may come and maybe bring a friend.

“Audiences have definitely built that way. I figure all the stuff I’m doing online for nothing will bring in new fans.”

“And last year at the Edinburgh Fringe,” I said, “you were giving away free DVDs to entice people in to your live show – because, quite rightly, you thought the big, expensive street posters have very little effect.”

“Well,” explained Richard, “people get sucked into what you supposedly have to do and, especially in Edinburgh, things get more and more expensive. I think those large billboard posters and lamp post posters are mainly ego for the performers. I just don’t think it’s worth £3,000… If it were £1,000, maybe. People think it shows a presence, it shows TV people that maybe you’re a name; but there are SO many of them that it doesn’t.

Tim Vine

Tim Vine’s 2006 Fringe poster announcing he was not there

“Ten years ago, if you were the only person doing that maybe – or if you were Tim Vine when he had that enormous poster saying he was not appearing at that year’s Fringe – That was worth its weight in gold.

“But what I’m saying is, if you have £3,000 to spend on publicity, try to think of an interesting way to spend it that will actually attract attention. People are not walking past those billboards any more thinking Ooh! He’s on a billboard. I’d better go and see him.

Richard: the big thing is attract attention

Richard: the big thing is attract attention

“People are wise to it and people are wise to the 5-star reviews all over the place: they know it’s just people putting up their own reviews from websites. It’s fine, but it doesn’t mean anything; it’s just one punter’s opinion.”

“And giving away the free DVDs in Edinburgh worked?” I asked.

“I’m not sure it completely worked,” said Richard, “but it didn’t make any difference. So rather than spending £3,000-£4,000 on posters, I had something to give away and we’ve sold 200 or so online which has got half the money back and I have some left over which I sell at gigs, so I will make the money back.”

… CONTINUED HERE

There is an interesting video on Vimeo showing the process of creating a poster for Richard’s 2013 show We’re All Going To Die

1 Comment

Filed under Blogs, Comedy, Podcasts, Television

I may well have talked trite gibberish in an Irish comedy podcast. Who knows?

Gibberish rampant, perhaps

I am not one of Life’s natural interviewees

I am not one of Life’s better interviewees.

Today, the Irish website Seven 2 Ten has released as a podcast a one-hour interview with me which comedian Christian Talbot recorded in London three weeks ago.

Considering my inclination to ramble and talk gibberish, I think it is fairly interesting. Here are two linked extracts from the podcast. The link between the two is jigsaws.

When you directly transcribe what anyone says exactly, it can tend towards gibberish. In this case, of course, that might be because it is. When I transcribe interviews with people I talk to, I normally tidy up little bits of grammar etc; in this case I have not. This is what I said, referring to my two erstwhile  TV careers – as a trailermaker and as a researcher on shows including Tiswas, Game For a Laugh and The Last Resort With Jonathan Ross:

____________________________________________________________

I‘ve never had any interest in becoming a comedian, but I think I’m quite good editorially. When I was doing television stuff, it was mostly to do with editing, so I’d see the two-and-a-half hour film and decide how to edit it down to 20 seconds or 30 seconds for a trailer and what music to put on and what voices to put on and what words to put in. And so, in the same way as I’ve always edited those sorts of visual things… I’m not a writer, in fact… I’m not a writer, I’m a re-writer.

I’ve interviewed people like Brian Clemens who did The Avengers and Nigel Kneale who did Quatermass and they’re utterly brilliant, in my opinion, because you talked to them and they were spewing out plotlines – original plotlines – like ten-to-the-minute. Extraordinary, amazing, fertile imaginations. I don’t have that. I can’t think of plotlines but, given material, I can do it as a jigsaw and make it interesting.

When I was a child, what really fascinated me was jigsaws. I loved jigsaws. You can only put a 1,000 piece jigsaw together in one way. But, if you’re editing a film or editing TV, then you’ve got 10 million pieces, 10 million elements and you can put them together in all sorts of different ways to create a variety of different good effects. There is no right or wrong way. There’s just a variety of possible ways through which you can get to a good result. And the same thing with performing, possibly.

It’s not a science; it’s an art. You can’t say, “The way to be a comedian is to do X, Y and Z” and “Structure a joke with these words X, Y and Z,” because it may not work. There is that X factor.

I was watching a programme on Tommy Cooper last night and Tommy Cooper was basically telling rather bad jokes or rather silly, childish jokes. But he was absolutely brilliant. And Barry Cryer was saying on this programme that no-one could explain why Tommy Cooper was funny. You knew he was funny. With just a blink of the eye or a look at the camera or an intonation he was funny. But you couldn’t really explain why. Comedy is an art not a science.

I can perhaps be objective with comedians and say to them, “This isn’t quite working,” and almost academically explain to them why I think it’s not working, but I couldn’t do it myself.

____________________________________________________________

I had a reputation for finding bizarre acts, which wasn’t altogether justified. Anyone can find bizarre acts. You just take out an ad in The Stage for three weeks in a row and they come out of the woodwork. The thing is to know how to use them.

A producer on Game For a Laugh decided he was going to go with me to see various acts and we saw a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant slackwire act – absolutely, utterly brilliant… Slackwire instead of a tightrope… So, instead of a tightrope or a tight wire, this was a slackwire which sags in the middle and he swings all over the place. Utterly brilliant. And I said to the producer: “It won’t work on television,” and he said, “Yes it will,” and he had him on the show.

I said, “It won’t work on television because we’re watching it live in a 3D environment and it feels dangerous – you can see what’s going on, you can FEEL what’s going on and how dangerous it is. But, if you put it on television, it’s a two-dimensional image and it will just look like a man walking along a line.”

And it didn’t work and the producer admitted it didn’t work.

What I was good at wasn’t finding bizarre acts – because anyone can find bizarre acts – it was actually manipulating bizarre acts. So I could see someone perform something that wasn’t very good live, but I could see that it would work on television if you made a few changes. Or I could see that someone was utterly brilliant live, but the act wouldn’t work on television. I could manipulate the component parts of a performance in that way – I think – I think – and therefore, with comedians, I can say to them without being too offensive why I think that bit works or that other bit doesn’t work. Or that bit, if you tweaked it, might work. In that sense, I can sort of direct or produce comedians, but I’m not myself a comedian at all. I’m not funny at all.

____________________________________________________________

YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE PODCAST BY CLICKING HERE.

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Television

Irish comedy podcaster Christian Talbot laments the state of current British TV

Christian Talbot

Christian Talbot does not take his clothes off

Yesterday afternoon, I was interviewed at the King’s Head in Crouch End, London, by Irish comedian Christian Talbot for his weekly podcast Seven 2 Ten.

It should appear online in two or three weeks.

Comedian Daphna Baram was sitting in on the conversation.

As I was recording Christian recording me – just in case there was a blog in it somewhere – I managed to ask him a few questions.

“You said you didn’t think your act was bizarre enough for Bob Slayer to book you at The Hive during the Edinburgh Fringe last year,” I said. “Why?”

“I don’t take my clothes off,” Christian laughed.

“So how would you describe your act?”

“Cheerily grumpy,” suggested Daphna Baram.

“Grumpy, introspective, confessional,” suggested Christian.

“Why do your podcast?” I asked.

“It’s a blatant rip-off of Marc Maron’s WTF in America,” replied Christian.

“So,” I started to say, “you’re doing it to be famous…”

Christian Talbot at the King’s Head yesterday (Photograph by Daphna Baram)

Christian recorded his podcast in London yesterday (Photograph by Daphna Baram)

“No, no,” interrupted Christian. “Not at all. I just thought I’d like to hear a version of WTF for Irish comedians, because I’m interested in comedy. I’m like yourself, John. I’m really interested in comedy and I’m really interested in comedians. How they tick and how they go about the process of writing, performing. The different personalities. I’m just a big fan. I enjoy talking to the guys who’re just starting out doing open mic spots, talking to seasoned guys who’ve been doing it for years, the promoters, the writers. I get a huge amount of personal enjoyment out of it.”

“Is it going to get you anywhere?” I asked.

“No. I wouldn’t imagine it will.”

“You seem fairly sane,” I told Christian. “This is not good news for a comedian.”

“I’m quite sane, but I’m quite…A lot of comedians are quite sane.”

I raised an eyebrow as far as I could. You will not hear it on the podcast.

And, after the podcast was recorded, Christian and I had another chat.

“People like Dara Ó Briain,” I said to him, “had to come over here to England to succeed in Britain. They couldn’t stay living in Ireland and do it.”

“You have to travel,” Christian agreed. “There’s Dylan Moran, Dara Ó Briain… and now Jason Byrne is starting to make inroads over here. No, I don’t think you can make it big over here without being over here.”

“So you’re going to have to move,” I suggested.

“Well,” Christian mused, “it depends what your ambitions are. I don’t know if my ambitions stretch that far. I like coming over here and doing gigs, maybe getting a little bit of recognition. But I’m 40, I’ve got a wife, a 10-year-old daughter. Unless something amazing was going to happen… and, realistically, the chances of that happening are very very slim at this stage…”

“When did you start performing comedy?” I asked.

“About two and a half years ago,” Christian told me. “I’ve always been a comedy fan. I really don’t understand why I didn’t do it sooner. I should have. It’s always been in the back of my mind that I’d like to.”

“And the trigger was…?” I asked.

“I think it was the late 2000s,” said Christian. “I looked around and saw what was on the TV – and there were comedians that I liked – but you looked at some and thought How has this guy got on the TV? I can be funnier than that.

“The public seemed to want really very bland stuff then… and maybe now.

“My first comedy stand-up heroes had been people like Billy Connolly and Ben Elton – I thought Ben Elton was wonderful on Saturday Live and Friday Night Live – Fry & Laurie, Jo Brand… I don’t think you could have called any of them bland.

“I mean, Julian Clary – how could you have Julian Clary on TV now doing what he was doing then. There’s no place for him to do that. Or even Harry Enfield doing Loadsamoney or Stavros. They simply would not put him on television now.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I think people are much too afraid of… Everything now is being scrutinised for being sexist, racist, homophobic… And, don’t get me wrong, I would be fervently anti-racist, anti-homophobic and anti-sexist too… But they want to put on television only those shows which will appeal to the most amount of people, which is not necessarily a good thing.

“Their thinking is Now we’re going to cater for the audience rather than Hey, let’s do this and, you never know, this might become their new favourite thing.

“I think if I was a teenager now, looking at what’s out there, I don’t think I would have a favourite comedian. I don’t think there would be anybody out there that really, truly excites me on the television. I think they’re OK. I’d go Yes, he’s on the TV, he’s famous, he must be quite good but there would be nobody out there that would have me going Wow! I want to BE him!

“There are comedy shows on BBC3 which don’t have to get big ratings,” I suggested.

“There is some good stuff,” admitted Christian. “Live at the Electric is good. People like Nick Helm. OK, OK, I’ve just gone against my argument. People like Doktor Cocacolamcdonalds and Nick Helm. Russell Kane’s alright.

“But just think how hugely influential things like Saturday Live and The Comic Strip were on a whole generation of people. Not only did they inform your comedic sensibilities but also politically and socially as well. Those were comedians who were saying things about politics, particularly Ben Elton, but even Fry & Laurie. Even if it was subtle, there was a message there. There was a social message there. They got involved in things like Comic Relief and Live Aid.

“Even though programme like Friday Night Live didn’t get huge ratings, the people it got to were teenagers and young people and the influence they had was huge and immeasurable and I think we’re still getting the repercussions.

“But we don’t have anything like that in comedy at the moment. There’s nobody sticking their head above the parapet.”

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, Ireland, Television