Tag Archives: Scot

What Scotsmen do in Eastern Europe: Burns Night on March 9th in Ukraine

A bizarre but effective Burns Night last night in Kiev

Burns Night celebrations in Kyiv were also in March last year

Burns Night was on 25th January this year. It is every year. It is Rabbie Burns’ birthday.

But I am allegedly going over to the Ukraine for a Burns Night charity event in Kiev – or in Kyiv, depending on your spelling – on 9th March.

Kiev was the Russian-approved spelling in the Soviet era. So, obviously, since independence, the officially-approved Ukrainian spelling is Kyiv, just to be different.

But this does not explain why Burns Night is being celebrated on 9th March.

Last year in Kyiv, it was celebrated on 31st March.

The explanation is that it is being organised by a canny Scotsman.

Stuart McKenzie at the 2012 Burns Night

Stuart McKenzie at 2012 Burns Night in the Ukraine

Stuart McKenzie owns a company in the Ukraine which handles events, PR, marketing, training, e-commerce and research. He also owns hotels and restaurants. And he is also the late Scottish comedian Jimmy Logan’s stepson.

“I organise the Burns Night event with other Kyiv Lions Club members as part of our contribution of time to the club,” Stuart tells me. “Most Kyiv business people are away from 20th December to the 15th of January. So it’s therefore better for me to push the date of Burns Night forward to give me more time to speak to these companies and get sponsorship support. It simply means we can raise more money. Also pipers and entertainers are a lot cheaper to bring over to Kyiv if I’m not competing with the 25th January date.”

Canny and successful.

Sponsors for this year’s Burns Night in Kyiv include Coca Cola, Hyatt Regency, Radisson and Ukraine International Airlines.

“It’s our 18th anniversary this year,” Stuart tells me, “and, over the last eight years, we’ve raised over $700,000 for Kyiv Lions Club projects.”

This year, the Burns Night celebration also coincides with a Women’s Day Celebration.

I suspect Rabbie Burns would have approved.

Stuart certainly knows how to put on a party.

Part of the entertainment on Burns Night in Kyiv will be the Red Hot Chilli Pipers:

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Filed under Entertainment, Scotland, Ukraine

“Whisky Fir Dummies”: Why was this Edinburgh Fringe show title banned?

Before the lawyers: Whisky For Dummies

(A version of this piece was also carried on Indian news website WeSpeakNews)

Yesterday, I got sent a press release from Scots comic Alan Anderson. Last year at the Edinburgh Fringe, he performed a show titled Alan Anderson: Whisky Fir Dummies. This year, his show is billed in the Fringe Programme as Alan Anderson: Whisky Fir Dummies 2.0 with the come-on that there will be “free whisky tasting during every show”.

Except, Alan says, the show will not now be titled that because US publishers John Wiley & Sons have a series of ….. For Dummies books and they have threatened to sue him.

Alan claims in his press release that much of the terminology used in the show is from the Gaelic language and, in Scots Gaelic, the show title itself Whisky Fir Dummies means “Whisky, man pacifier”.

I have no idea if this is true or not. It sounds unlikely and potentially like a publicity stunt.

But, whatever the truth of the translation, Alan Anderson says John Wiley & Sons’ lawyers have accused him of “passing off” his comedy stage show Whisky Fir Dummies as one of their ….. For Dummies books. They claim it is “likely to result in serious confusion and result in dilution of Wiley’s trademarks”.

After the lawyers: Whisky Fir Dafties

Alan says: “The legal advice given (to me) is that the show title does not infringe Wiley’s For Dummies trademark, nor do any of their UK/EU trademark registrations cover the fields of live whisky tasting or stand up comedy. However as an act of goodwill towards Wiley’s – and to prevent a lengthy and costly legal battle – it was decided to change the show title. This also opens up the possibility of publishing a series of books, CD or DVD of the show titled Whisky For Dafties or better still Copyright Law For Dafties. Sadly however the name change means that the Edfringe.com URL has been changed making it difficult for customers to purchase tickets for the show online.

“As for causing confusion or passing off,” continues Alan, “if you think a large corporation like Wiley’s would put on a whisky tasting show in the basement of an Edinburgh student pub at 9pm during the Fringe then you probably need to read Marketing For Dummies. If having seen the show you still think Wiley’s is responsible then you should probably write How to produce an award winning Edinburgh comedy show for Dummies.”

If true, this tale is yet another an example of a large American company taking leave of its corporate senses and personally I think they should publish Wanking For Dummies (a sure-fire hit for small children in the UK). They obviously know a lot about the subject.

If untrue, Alan’s press release is a contender for the increasingly highly-esteemed Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.

Either way, he is on to a winner in publicity terms.


Filed under Comedy, Copyright, Legal system, Marketing, PR, Theatre

This comic cross between a dating website and Time Out listings magazine

Yesterday, I read Jon Kudlick’s article on the Chortle comedy website explaining why he was quitting his life as a stand-up comic after four years.

“Basically,” he says, “stand-up is not compatible with being married and having a family to support. And the vast majority of the comics I’ve met on the professional circuit are divorced or single.”

My experience of comedians also brings me to he conclusion that stand-up is not ideally compatible with a relationship because most comedians are barking mad and could provide a good psychiatric researcher with original material for a period at least as long as Ken Dodd’s career.

An hour after reading Jon Kudlick’s piece, an unsolicited e-mail plopped into my InBox from DoingSomething.co.uk

How this new dating site got my address or why is a mystery to me. But they offered “a three month trial period” if I used the code “haha” when I joined. Their selling line was: “Lots of comedy happenings in the next few months in London. You could do a lot worse than taking someone new to some comedy…” and they plugged five upcoming comedy events including Dave Gorman’s Screen Guild at Hoxton Hall, one of the current Heroes of Alternative Comedy gigs organised by Bob Slayer and – just generally – the Soho Theatre.

If these are paid-for ads, they could be on to a winner – half dating site/half Time Out. And, given Jon Kudlick’s assertion that most comedians are not in a steady relationship, targeting anyone connected with the comedy world seems a shrewd marketing idea.

Yes, I did sign up for the site, partly because I am a Scot brought up among Jews and it was free, partly because I wanted to see what was on the site and partly because I can also see three months blogging potential in it.

If you look like Katharine Ross in The Graduate or Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid – and you win the lottery – do get in touch.

It must be bizarrely difficult to start a dating site from scratch and they seem to be offering free three-month trials to all and sundry. There seem to be plenty of twentysomethings on it, but people in that age range barely need a dating site. In my age range (well, the one I put in to test it out) there was just one single woman in the whole of the UK suitable for me. And I put in anyone anywhere. She is interested in baking. That’s a start. Maybe not.

I may stay on the site for three months and see what happens. If you scour the site for me, THIS what my profile picture looks like.

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Filed under Comedy, Internet, Psychology, Sex