Tag Archives: Scott Capurro

David Mills, chic gay comic with a nose for pussy, gets chatty about PrEP etc

Next Wednesday, American comic David Mills starts The Mix – the first in a monthly series of chat shows at the Phoenix Artist Club in London.

“You’ve got a bit of previous with chat shows,” I said, “with Scott Capurro and then with Jonathan Hearn.”

“And,” David told me, “I had a chat show with another comic in San Francisco maybe 20 years ago – Late Night Live – with this hilarious woman called Bridget Schwartz.

“She has since given up comedy. A great loss.

“We had big local San Francisco politicians, some of the big newscasters and drag queens – the same sort of thing I’m trying to create here. Not just people from the comedy world, but people from politics and culture and newsmakers.”

“So The Mix will not be all comics?” I asked.

“No. That’s why it’s called The Mix, John. Next Wednesday, we will have comic Jo Sutherland and the writers of Jonathan Pie – Andrew Doyle and Tom Walker who plays Jonathan Pie – and London’s Night Czar Miss Amy Lamé who will be talking about the night-time economy.

“For the second show on 19th April, we are currently negotiating to get a controversial politician and we already have comic Mark Silcox and Daniel Lismore, who is the current reigning Leigh Bowery of the world – like a crazy creature who has come out of some couture closet. A sort of Art Scenester. I don’t want it to be all comics. It’s The Mix.”

“Are you taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe this year?”

David Mills in his photograph of choice

“No. I won’t be playing Edinburgh this year. I’ve been going back to the US a lot – more regularly – so I haven’t been spending time writing a new show. I’ve been gigging in LA, gigging in New York, also I have family out there. Trying to make my way. But it’s a bit of a challenge to make your way in LA if you’re only there for two weeks every three months.”

“You could,” I suggest, “get a position in the Trump administration. He’s running out of people to nominate. Do you know any Russians?”

“There was Denis Krasnov,” said David.

“He seems,” I said, “to calls himself Jack Dennis now.”

“He’s the only Russian I know,” David told me. “He used to be on the circuit in London, then he went to New York. but I don’t think he can get me into government. Well, I don’t want to be in the Trump administration, but I’d work for Milania – perhaps as a stylist or a gay best friend.”

“You are in bigtime Hollywood movies now,” I said. “Florence Foster Jenkins. What part did you play?”

“The gay friend.”

“A lot of acting involved?” I asked.

“It was a real stretch for me, John, because… I don’t have friends. For research, I had to hang around with people who have friends and let me tell you – I don’t know if you know anything about friends, but – they’re a lot of work. There’s a lot of lying involved. Lots.”

“Where was Florence Foster Jenkins filmed?”

“All over. North London, West London…”

“It was supposed to be New York?”

“But filmed in the UK, which is why I got the job. They needed an American gay friend in London. So there’s basically me or Scott Capurro and Scott wasn’t around.”

“Stephen Frears directed it,” I said. “Very prestigious. So you might appear in other films.”

“Well, I’m in the short Robert Johnson and The Devil Man directed by Matthew Highton and written by Joz Norris. Guess who plays The Devil Man.”

“Joz Norris?”

“No. They needed someone with a suit. Who looks good in a suit?… I always get those parts. When Tim Renkow did the pilot for A Brief History of Tim, they thought: We need some guy in a suit… Who?… David Mills! – so I played the part of ‘Guy in a Suit’.”

David Mills & Tim Renkow in BBC3’s A Brief History of Tim

“Yes,” I mused. “Who wears a suit? So it’s either you or Lewis Schaffer. Strange it’s always you that gets the sophisticated parts and not him.”

“That’s because he doesn’t wear a sophisticated suit,” said David. “I love Lewis Schaffer – I’m not tearing him down, right?…”

“But?” I asked.

“…he would tell you as well,” said David. “It’s sort of a shabby suit.”

“Though he would be less succinct telling me,” I suggested.

“…and shiny,” David continued. “The suit. He’s had that suit for about 15 years. I try to keep mine up-to-date.”

“What else is happening in your life?” I asked.

“I’ve got a solo show – David Mills: Mr Modern – at the very chic Brasserie ZL near Piccadilly Circus on 23rd March.”

“Why is it called Mr Modern?

“Because it’s about modern life… and about me.”

“You do have your finger in a lot of pies,” I said. “If you see what I mean.”

“I find myself increasingly on TV talking about cats,” replied David.

“Why?” I asked.

“I did a thing called LOL Cats on Channel 5. They show videos of cats, then turn to a comedian who tells jokes, then they go back to the video and then back to the comedian. It’s a ‘talking head’ thing.”

“Are you an expert on cats?” I asked.

David admitted: “I know very little about pussy…”

“No,” said David. “I know very little about pussy. But I seem to have a nose for it. And LOL Cats went well, so they had me come back to do LOL Kittens.

“The guy at the cafe I go to every morning asked me: What were you doing on TV talking about kittens? And someone at the gym said: Why were you on TV talking about cats?”

“Cats then kittens,” I said. “They will have to diversify into other species.”

“There are still big cats,” David suggested.

“Have you got cats?” I asked.

“No.”

“Too difficult in London?” I asked.

David shrugged. “I’ve lived in London longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my entire life. 17 years I’ve been here. Sometimes, I have lived in London longer than most of my audience have been alive. Often they are students or other people aged under 22.

“There’s a risk with younger audiences that they won’t get my references, they may only have been in London six months and they may tend to be scared of anything remotely edgy.”

“Student audiences at the moment,” I said, “are very right-on PC.”

“It’s something,” agreed David, “that’s endemic across a lot of clubs where young people are the primary audience. They are very nervous about jokes that touch on any sort of identity issues – unless you are taking the ‘accepted’ position. I always try and tweak my audiences a little bit. Having come from a world of identity politics and having been through certain battles and marched on certain marches, I feel I have some justification to joke about that shit. But these people don’t have a sense of humour about sexuality or gender or race or…”

“Surely,” I suggested, “YOU can do gay jokes in the same way an Indian comic can do Indian jokes.”

“I do think it’s more charged when it comes to sexuality right now,” says David.

“You can,” said David, “if the target of your punchline is heterosexuality. But not if the target is homosexuality. Even if you ARE gay.”

“So,” I asked, “if I were a Scots or a Jewish comic, could I not safely joke about the Scots or the Jews being financially mean?”

“I think you can,” said David, “but I do think it’s more charged when it comes to sexuality right now. Particularly around gender. Gay comics invariably wave the rainbow flag.”

“You’re saying they can’t make jokes about,” I floundered, “I dunno, retro jokes about…”

David said: “It’s not retro to be critical, to have a critical take. It IS retro to be calcified in your position and unable to hear any criticism.”

“So you couldn’t,” I asked, “do a cliché joke about camp gays?”

“I wouldn’t want to. What I would want to joke about is the oversensitivity of the gay world and there is not a lot of interest in that at the moment.”

“What sort of jokes would you want to tell and can’t?”

“I do jokes about a drug a lot of gay men take – PrEP. They take it in order to then have un-safe sex – they don’t have to use condoms. It’s sort of a prophylactic for HIV. So I say: Of course I’m on PrEP. I am a gay white man. I demand a portable treatment for my inability to control myself. And You’re not getting your money’s worth on a gay cruise unless you come back with at least one long-term manageable condition. I try to collect them all.

“With those sort of things, people are thinking: Hold on! Are you making fun of people with HIV? It’s as if there is no ability for people to laugh at themselves.”

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Filed under Comedy, Gay, Humor, Humour

Scott Capurro is going back to Australia despite what happened last time…

Publicity for Scott Capurro’s show Yuletide Queer

Publicity for Scott Capurro’s stage show Yuletide Queer

I have been getting a flurry of automated emails about comedian Scott Capurro’s shows in California.

So, because I think of him as being London-based, I FaceTimed him a couple of days ago in San Francisco.

“I produced a show here,” he told me, “so I’m on this thing called Eventbrite and they send out a reminder every day of the show.”

“Where are you staying?”

“I’ve had this apartment here for 25 years,” he told me. “My husband, Edson, likes it here; my family’s here; and I’m trying to decide where we should live. London is easier for me in a lot of ways. I own a home there whereas, a renter in San Francisco has fewer rights. Also, there’s so much work in London and I can work all the time. Here, I’m on a local radio show in San Francisco. I’ve been on it for 17 years; I come on once a week.”

“What sort of show is it?” I asked.

“It’s morning radio in America. So it’s Hey! Puppies! Kitties! Let’s talk about celebrities! It’s like Italian girls in the 1950s: all we talk about is celebrities and our pets. Seriously. I love these people, but we are penned-in on what we can talk about, especially me.”

“It must be difficult for you to be squeaky-clean?” I asked.

“No.” Scott told me, “I do morning TV in Britain all the time. I do The Wright Stuff a lot. I love it and I really like Matthew because he likes comics. I’ve been doing that for eight years and I know I sometimes push it, but I’ve never been in trouble, really.

Scott Capurro - a regular on The Wright stuff on UK TV

Scott Capurro – a regular on UK Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff

“Also, I started on radio in college. I kind of understand the limits of it and I can be clean if necessary. When performers perform live, the expectations are different. I was really into stand-up as a kid and I would hear rumours that these comics I saw on TV were – Oh! If you see them live! Oh my God! It’s so shocking and different! My mother would say: Oh my God! Red Foxx! The things he says about women, live! He seems so nice! and that really intrigued me. The idea that, when you perform live, it’s like Jekyll & Hyde: you are someone else.”

“So,” I said, “at the moment, you are doing radio and live stage shows in California.”

“I do my own stage show,” said Scott. “An hour or an hour-and-a-half in different venues. And I make more money per show doing that here, but the production stuff is a lot of work. I work less often and make more money here but it’s harder work than in Britain.

“In a way, if you’re a comic in London, you can be lazy and make a decent living. You just show up and do your 20 minutes. You are not expected to do anything other than hit a home run when you’re on stage.

“I have been playing the (London) Comedy Store more the last two years and it’s so hard to fail at the Store. I mean, you’re only on stage really for 18-20 minutes and people walk in there assuming they are seeing the best. So they’re on your side although, if you fuck up and lose them, it’s impossible to get them back because you’re only on stage for 18-20 minutes. It’s a bit tenuous if you mess up, but messing up there is almost impossible on a weekend.”

“It’s maybe easy for you,” I suggested, “because you are so professional.”

“It’s not easy,” said Scott. “But it’s hard to fail. If they hire you, it’s usually because you’ve been doing it for a while and can do 20 minutes without failing. And I also play a lot at The Top Secret Comedy Club on Drury Lane, where my husband runs the bar – it’s like an Edinburgh venue but well-run and clean. The guy who runs it – Mark Rothman – is a performer so he can get big names at the weekends.”

“Is Edson with you in San Francisco?” I asked.

Scott Capurro (left) in London with his husband Edson

Scott Capurro (left) in London with his husband Edson

“He’s in Brazil, with his family, but I’m going there in January, then we come back here and then I go to Australia from February 22nd to March 5th.

“Then I’m doing a solo show on March 25th at Blackfriars in Glasgow and hosting and appearing in other Glasgow Comedy Festival shows over that weekend. After that, I’m going to Berlin for a week. I did one show there two months ago and they’re bringing me back for a week. April 18th to the 23rd.”

“So you’re all over the world,” I said. “Do you go to Australia a lot?”

“I was banned from there 14 years ago.”

“You can probably see the excitement on my face,” I said. “Why were you banned?”

“In the 1990s, I had been going to Australia for a while and really liked it. then my management made me stop, because the trip is really long and they didn’t want me there that long.

“But I was invited back in 2001, so I went, and I was really excited because, at that time, Ross Noble was going over a lot and Stephen K Amos. I thought: Oh this will be fun because I’ll see my friends and maybe I can start spending time in Australia, because it’s pretty and it’s nice during the winter and it might be a good outlet for me writing good stuff. I could get established in Australia.

Scott Capurro: "Are you sure you don’t want to see the stand-up in rehearsal?"

“Are you sure you don’t want to see the stand-up in rehearsal?” Scott asked them.

“So I arrive in Melbourne and they say: Oh, we want you to do a live TV spot right away! OK, fine. It was a live programme called Rove, which is like their Tonight show or Jonathan Ross. There was going to be an interview, which they cut but there was also stand-up too and I said: Are you sure you don’t want to see the stand-up in rehearsal? – They said: No, we don’t want to see it. We’re fine.

“Oh dear,” I said.

“Yeah,” replied Scott. “So I sent them the script. I was just going to do the first seven minutes from my Holocaust, Schmolocaust show…”

“Oh dear,” I said.

“So,” said Scott, “I objectified Jesus and jacked-off to Jesus a bit, but I didn’t get my cock out. I just did the hand motion.”

“Were you jet-lagged from the journey?” I asked.

“I was terribly jet-lagged because I had come from England, but also I had been to a party with the TV executives right before the taping of the show. I showed one of the execs this joke and he said: You’ll be fine. It’s after the watershed.”

“And what happened?” I asked.

“They got 300 calls, which was a lot for them and they freaked out and they went to the press and it became this huge thing where they tried to pull my stage show from the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Cardinal of Melbourne had me banned… Yeah… It became this thing where, apparently, I had made jokes about raping the Virgin Mary – which I didn’t… I mean, if I’d had them, I might have, but I didn’t have those jokes, so… It became a myth is what I mean.

“Now there is a word over there – Don’t pull a ‘Capurro’ on us on TV – Don’t go out there and do something you didn’t say you were going to do. Don’t fuck us. Apparently some people got fired. Anyway, I never got invited back.”

“It all seems a bit unfair,” I said, “if they saw your stuff on paper before the show was transmitted.”

“But did they even read it?” Scott asked. “Did they even look at it? Who the fuck knows?

Scott capurro: "“I think once the shit hit the fan, the network decided to run with it"

“I think once the shit hit the fan, the network decided…”

“I think once the shit hit the fan, the network decided to run with it to get press for the show and didn’t care about me. And, I think, because my management wasn’t in Australia and wasn’t there to help me, I was left to my own devices. I tried to fix it myself and I think I might have fucked it up even more.

“Soon after that, Australia went through the roof economically and everyone wanted to play there and I’m like: I fucked it up! I fucked it up!

“Then a couple of writers from Australia contacted me and said: You should come back. But I couldn’t find anyone who would produce me. Then the Comedy Store said they would, but it took three years to get a date. Now I’m going over to Sydney for two weeks to play the Store and we will see. They might hate me.”

“Well,” I told him, “the good news is you are bound to get interviewed again after that back story.”

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Filed under Australia, Censorship, Comedy, Radio, Television, US

A woman on a bus, Michael Barrymore, Lewis Schaffer & I am sleepy brain dead

I am posting this blog very late today, mostly because I have been asleep most of the day.

On and off. On and off. Mostly off.

A couple of times when I was briefly awake, I tried to transcribe a long conversation I had recorded for a blog in which the person I was talking to was, in effect, committing professional suicide in front of my ears. They had suggested the chat to me.

I am only about a third of the way through transcribing it. I am not at all sure that blog will ever see the light of day.

I was woken up by a phone call.

“Just write a paragraph,” the person suggested.

Easier said than done if your brain is dead.

Anyway… here are three paragraphs, all by other people. All North Americans.

Here is a communication from this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith (always a good standby):

Anna Smith photo on a Vancouver bus

Scene seen on Vancouver bus

“It is just a photo of the elderly woman on the seat in front of me on the bus….her mohair coat lit by the sun… I thought she  looked interesting… though she didn’t go to the art gallery and strip or anything… I went out for lunch in a grot cafe type place and overheard a man speaking with intelligent outrage about a new law…The man, who was around my age, turned out to be a former stripper who had won the title of Mr Nude World in 1985…”

Here is something American comedian Scott Capurro said during his recent chat show with Jim Davidson:

“We had Michael Barrymore on the show years ago and it was after all those things had happened and he was living in a bedsit in Ealing, driving a small car. He said his neighbours were all young professionals. They didn’t know who he was – just an old guy in a bedsit. And this is someone who, when I came over to Britain in the 1990s, was a huge TV star. So talented. So much to give.”

And here is a repeated query from American comedian Lewis Schaffer:

“What have you heard? Was I funny? Was I funny?”

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Filed under Blogs, Comedy

Jim Davidson on being “racist, sexist, homophobic” – and Operation Yewtree

Candy Gigi being advised by Jim Davidson  last night while critic Kate Copstick appears to have a fit in the background

Candy Gigi with Jim Davidson last night while comedy critic Kate Copstick appears to have fit

Who makes a good chat show host? Someone who can ask difficult questions and get revealing answers without the interviewee really noticing.

Last night, I went to Bob Slayer’s Christmas pop-up venue – Heroes Grotto of Comedy – in the City of London, where Scott Capurro and his friend David Mills were hosting their chat show. Their guests were London mayoral candidate Ivan Massow, 2014 Malcolm Hardee Award winner Candy Gigi and British comedy legend Jim Davidson. An interestingly eclectic trio.

Before anyone complains – as I am sure they will – about what follows. I myself would have mentioned an alleged incident of wife-beating. But this is not my interview.

Scott Capurro met Jim Davidson for the first time at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Last night he asked Jim why he had stayed at a hotel out by Edinburgh Airport.

“I thought I don’t want to get involved with everybody,” said Jim, “but, more than that, I didn’t want to go in a club and get blanked.”

“Did that happen to you?” Scott asked.

“Well, it did a bit,” said Jim.

Jim Davidson’s current Edinburgh Fringe show

Jim’s Edinburgh Fringe show this year

“We went to the performers’ bar at the Gilded Balloon,” Scott explained to the audience, “and a couple of comics said: Why did you bring Jim in here? I said: Because it’s a public bar and he’s a comic. Why the fuck are you here? Why don’t you fuck off if you don’t like him? These were people who had not seen his live performance. But they had made up their minds about who he was.”

“I am,” admitted Jim, “regarded as an old school/ racist/ sexist/ homophobic horrible person. I understand the perception of me. I really do understand that. Perception, yeah. How many times have we said: I fuckin’ hate that bloke and you meet them and they’re absolutely wonderful? What you’ve done is you’ve spent all that time wasting emotion.

“I’m the bad guy,” said Jim. “When Bernard Manning died, they had to have someone else. Someone said to me: Jim, you’re the bad guy, because it makes other people better by default.

“I have always been unhappy to be called homophobic because it’s fucking annoying. The racist thing I can get because I used to do jokes about black people and it’s a bit more sensitive than doing jokes about gay people.”

“The night I saw your show in Edinburgh,” said Scott, “there was a wheelchair guy in the front row – and a blind person.”

“Yeah,” said Jim. “What’s the point of a fucking blind person being on the front row? That’s what I actually said to him. He could sit and face the fucking wall and…”

“Do you,” asked Scott, “revel in that sort of…”

“Yeah. I do,” replied Jim. “Don’t you? You do.”

“Yeah,” said Scott.

“This is it, right?” said Jim. “In the front row here tonight, we’ve got an Australian, a mad woman, a baldy man, a blonde girl and a person that’s wearing boots that are too young for them. Let’s say we also have someone in a wheelchair…

(From left) David Mills, Jim Davidson, Scott Capurro last night

(L-R) David Mills, Jim Davidson and Scott Capurro last night

“What you do is try and get that person in the wheelchair involved. Include him rather than take the piss. But what happens is some fucking Guardian-reading leftie that wants an excuse to hate me might say: Jim took the piss out of a man in a wheelchair. So do you take that chance? I do. And then I get slagged off for it. I hate it. I hate it. But I can’t stop myself. I want to include people. I don’t want to take he piss out of someone in a wheelchair: that’s fucking easy. I want to include the person… Include the person.”

“The really disabled people,” said David Mills, “are people who have got no sense of humour.”

“A blind man can still see a good joke,” said Jim.

“Some comics think,” said Scott, “if you do an accent, immediately that’s racist.”

“Yeah,” said Jim. “What’s that all about? I don’t get that.”

“You did a brilliant accent in Edinburgh.”

“The West Indian thing? Or the Indian thing?”

“The Indian guy.”

“This is true. I don’t care if you think this is racist or not. My mate in Dubai was a Sikh and he had (at this point, Jim started to imitate the accents) a real broad Glaswegian accent. He had a brown face, didn’t wear a turban and could drink like a fish. Halfway through drinking, his accent became slightly Indian and then it became Scottish but still Indian and, at the end of the evening, it was totally Indian but with a Scottish personality – Who you fuckin’ looking at, ya cunt?

“Someone said: How Seventies is that – thinking that Indian people are funny? But how fucking insulting is that?

“I’ll tell you where my West Indian character Chalky comes from. I used to do jokes about West Indian kids I went to school with and it was 1976/1977 Blackpool, Little & Large – remember them?

Little and Large with Susie Silvey in the 1980s.

Little and Large with Susie Silvey in the 1980s.

“They had a manager and, when I did this West Indian accent, he said: Oh, fuck me, we can’t have this! It was never offensive in my mind and people would laugh their heads off at it. But he said You’ve gotta drop that and the producer said Why don’t you make it one character and make that character someone everyone can laugh at, even the black people in the audience? So Chalky was based around my mates: all the black kids I went to school with had West Indian accents. Chalky was a character to be loved. I didn’t invent that character to ridicule anybody and, if I have ridiculed anybody, I apologise from the bottom of my heart. He was made to be loved. He was Dennis The Menace. He was Minnie The Minx.

“Unfortunately, there is a perception of me and I’ve got to take that on the chin. I’ve done well, I’ve been doing this for forty years. I’ve afforded four divorces.”

Jim was arrested under Operation Yewtree, the police investigation following sex revelations about the late Jimmy Savile.

“I thought Yewtree was fucking great when it started off,” said Jim last night, “because it was arresting all those funny people at the BBC that I didn’t particularly like. And then Freddie Starr got arrested and I thought: This is ridiculous. I think he’s the greatest act I’ve ever seen: I mean, really, really old school but brilliant.

“There were about twelve reporters outside my house every day for a couple of weeks. The police investigation lasted a year. Everyone knew it was not for under-aged sex and everyone knew I was a bit of jack-the-lad and a pretty easy target. I’ve never hid the fact I like girls. But I think arresting me was the straw that broke the camel’s back. People started to realise: Hang on a bit; it’s getting silly.”

Jim explained that one woman who said she had been sexually assaulted by him at the London Palladium later (after he had provided evidence to the police) changed her story to having been assaulted at the Hemel Hempstead Pavilion. He says a policeman questioning him over another charge said:

You came off the stage at The Green Man in the Old Kent Road and you saw a woman there with a short skirt on and a garter belt hanging down under her skirt and you twanged her garter belt. Can you remember doing that?

“In 1978?

“Yes.

“I can’t remember doing that.

“Is that something you would have done?

“Yeah, probably. And then what? Then I sexually assaulted her?

“No. That IS the sexual assault that we have arrested you for.

“And that’s how it went on,” Jim said. “It cost me a year and about £500,000 and, at the end of it, they said: No further action. They didn’t say sorry or anything. It was horrible. Horrible.”

“What is the motivation of the accusers?” Scott asked.

“No idea” said Jim. “Schadenfreude? I really think that’s what it is. How dare he have such a good life when I’ve had such a shit life. And there’s a lot of bandwagon jumping. But it’s not for me to say.”

“Did you,” asked Scott, “believe in the legal system before this?”

“I still believe in it,” said Jim. “I don’t think the police had any alternative but to investigate. I read the other day that the Inspector of Constabulary said that the police should record more crimes. Someone can go in and say blah-blah-blah and it’s got to be put down as a crime and the person is arrested before the interrogation. I think that’s the wrong way round. I think, in this country, you are innocent until proven guilty. But I’m not going to shout out about it because I’m frightened to. I don’t want to rock the boat and that’s the truth.”

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Filed under Comedy, Crime, Police, Sex

Comedy critic Kate Copstick faces court fraud charges during Edinburgh Fringe

David Allison - a Fringe virgin’s first trial

David Allison, Fringe virgin, risked getting screwed up there

The Edinburgh Fringe – which starts next week – has shows where you buy a ticket in advance, it has ‘free’ shows where you get in for free but can (if you want) pay on the way out and now it has shows where you are not allowed in.

Producer David Allison is staging a series of five shows called This Is Your Trial, three of which are private and only two of which are open to the public.

“I just didn’t know the ‘rules’ of doing the Fringe,” David Allison says.

blogged about This Is Your Trial back in February.

Basically, David structures a personalised comedy show based round the idea of putting one person ‘on trial’ for a spurious offence and inviting the person’s friends, workmates and acquaintances along as prosecution/defence witnesses, jury and audience.

This Is Your Trial,” says David,has been described by Mark Dolan (of Channel 4’s Balls of Steel) as Judge Judy meets a comedy roast. It has taken some time to develop, with different comics and audiences and all its ups and downs.

“People tell me I should be waking up in a cold sweat and I should be panicking… I should be regretting embarking on this plan… That is how I’m told people normally prepare for going to the Edinburgh Fringe and yet I feel quietly optimistic. Am I getting it all wrong?”

He does have one big problem, though.

“One proviso when I started my Edinburgh adventure,” he says, “was my partner Nina’s demand that it wouldn’t put me (further) into debt. Otherwise, I was told, I might as well stay up there and not come back.”

David, a Fringe virgin, at first naively thought: Surely people don’t lose money at Edinburgh Fringe?

HA! I say. HA! HA! I say.

I told him: “Going to the Fringe is like standing in a cold shower tearing up £20 notes” and one comedy act he spoke to told him that if he (the act) sold all his tickets for the entire run he would only lose £3,000. Only.

David Allison feared losing his shirt in Edinburgh

Mr Allison feared losing his shirt in Edinburgh

It was at this point, apparently, that David realised going to the Edinburgh Fringe and not losing his shirt (and his partner) was going to be more tricky than he thought.

But comedian now Fringe venue runner Bob Slayer offered him performance slots at the new Bob’s Bookshop venue under his inventive Pay What You Want – Heroes of Fringe banner, a spin-off from the Free Festival.

Bob told David: “Everyone will tell you to expect to lose money at the Fringe and that is sound advice based on most performers’ experience. But £2 million of tickets are sold during August, so someone somewhere is doing OK. I think it’s probably the people giving you the advice that you’ll lose money – the PR people, marketing people, big venues, agents. They are are probably the ones making all the cash. It’s not in their interest to see the Fringe model change even if that would make it a more creative and vibrant Fringe. So don’t be swayed by the general industry consensus. Find your own way and you can succeed (or fail) on your own terms.”

Spurred on by this, David says: “My first decision was to limit the time spent up there. I couldn’t get any more than a week off my (proper) work anyway, so that decision was made for me. And the nature of the shows I do requires a lot of detailed research, so a limit of five shows would help ensure the quality wouldn’t suffer.

“The unique position I had was that, although most shows might need to sell a lot of tickets per day to make a profit, my shows are personalised experiences for groups who know each other – so selling individual tickets is not relevant. I only need to sell one ticket for each show. That said, as the ticket buys the whole show, I was asking for £500 per ticket. This led to the awkward boast that This Is Your Trial is the most expensive ticket on the Fringe. But that became a useful ‘hook’ attracting press coverage in The Scotsman… and a blog by you.

Judge Norman Lovett

Judge Norman Lovett will preside over a court

“I also decided I needed some big names. So I just approached a few of my favourite acts and asked them directly: Scott Capurro, Mark Dolan, Barry Ferns, Tim FitzHigham, Janey Godley, Tony Law, Norman Lovett, Glenn Wool. To my surprise, each one said Yes.

“But, just as I was beginning to wonder how hard this Fringe thing could really be… I realised I still hadn’t sold any tickets.

“The only person I knew in Scotland was a solicitor in Glasgow who had been to one of my London shows. He bought the first ticket for Inksters, his firm of lawyers. Not so difficult.

“Then Bob Slayer sold another to the cheeky Edinburgh underpants manufacturer, Bawbags and Scottish Borders Brewery.

“The third went to a stag party I found through a local website.

“And then Thomas Black – a local Edinburgh comedian and huge fan of Hearts FC – introduced us to Scott Wilson, the stadium announcer. A couple of calls later and we had secured our fourth booking – a fundraiser for Hearts, who are in administration. Players and fans are invited to watch manager Gary Locke face charges before a court of Judge Norman Lovett, prosecutor Janey Godley and defence counsel Bob Slayer. The show will take place on August 5th at Tynecastle Stadium itself.”

This meant David was staging three private shows, one public show – at Hearts’ Tynecastle Stadium, no less – and he had only one show left to sell before he could boldly claim a 100% sold out show and attach a laurel to his Fringe flyers next year.

“My costs were now almost covered,” he says. “I knew I could pay all the comedians involved and maybe even buy my partner Nina a nice present for putting up with me and my obsession.

“So I decided to stop busting a gut to sell the last show and find a worthy cause instead. I asked The Scotsman’s comedy critic Kate Copstick – who had been super supportive all along – if she would like a show in support of her Mama Biashara charity.

“We did, however, attach one condition, which was that she herself would be put on trial. She is a game bird and she agreed without hesitation.”

Copstick consults with defence counsel Slayer

Copstick (right) consults with her defence counsel Bob Slayer

The Trial of Kate Copstick is on August 7th at The Hive venue where she will be charged with being A failed performer who snipes from the pages of the Scotsman instead.

Scott Capurro will be prosecuting Copstick. Bob Slayer will defend her. Glenn Wool is the judge.

Now David is looking for witnesses to the alleged crime.

Maybe you got a great review from Copstick,” he says in his appeal. “Or you got a terrible but accurate Copstick review that spurred you on to better things… Or maybe you once saw her appear on Chuckle Vision and thought her performance worthy of a BAFTA… If you did get a terrible, unfair, scathing review from Copstick, maybe she was lambasting you because she knew you were better than she ever was?”

If so, he wants to hear from you.

You can contact him HERE.

This morning, I asked Copstick what she thought her chances were at the trial.

She told me:

“I am slightly worried that I have Bob Slayer as my defence lawyer – a bumbling, drunken ex-jockey who is quite likely to get his cock out in court. However, Scott Capurro is the prosecutor and he is going to be so busy cruising the audience and trying to seduce Glenn Wool (the judge) that he will probably forget to do his job. One fly in my ointment is that I am, of course, totally guilty of being a failed stand-up. But please don’t tell anyone.”

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Comedian Chris Dangerfield spent over £200,000 in 18 months on having sex with Chinese prostitutes in London

(This piece was also published by India’s We Speak News)

Chris Dangerfield in Soho yesterday, drinking it all in

I met comedian Chris Dangerfield in Soho yesterday morning. He had just had a fight with telecoms company O2. He has a website which sells lock-picking tools.

“Anyone can legally buy lock-picking tools and pick locks to their hearts’ content,” Chris told me. “But O2 seem to think they have it in their power to say only people over 18 can buy them. It isn’t the law and I’ve been on the phone to them for two hours. I now can’t even access my own business website on my own O2 phone.”

“But they haven’t targeted other sites selling lock-picking tools?” I asked.

“No,” Chris laughed. “They’ve only gone for the largest and most respected purveyor of fine lock-picking devices.”

We went for tea in Frith Street. He said there was something he had to tell me.

Cleo Rocos” Chris told me, “has spent the last ten months working with a master brewer or distiller or whatever it is in Mexico or – fuck knows – somewhere in South America or Central America or somewhere and she’s brought out this new range of tequilas. It was my friend’s birthday last night and my friend has been obsessed with her since she used to get her ample assets PVCd up on the Kenny Everett TV shows”

“Obsessed?” I asked.

“Obsessed,” said Chris. “He stalked her. He had a map with crosses on it to triangulate her whereabouts until he found out where she lived. Absolutely true. Yesterday it was his birthday and I’m on some quite heavy back medication which he stole from me. Well, I gave to him, but I said Let’s pretend this is stealing so that, if you do die, I’m in the clear.

“He took that and said Right, Cleo Rocos is doing a promotion for her tequila, so I would love to go up there and I said Look, I don’t drink. I don’t want to get involved in those horrible situations. He said Please! Please! You’ll be my wingman! I said I’m not a wingman. I’m not a straight man. It’s not my role. I will ruin this for you.

“Anyway, we go up there and he’s rubbish because he’s so nervous and he’s sipping his tequila – it’s a shot of tequila – and he asks Cleo What cocktail is this? and she’s like Wha-a-a-a-t? Ridiculous. So she starts talking to me. I charm her so well by accident that she ends up giving me her card. My friend and I leave. He’s crying. He’s my best friend. He hasn’t spoken to me since last night and I don’t even know if he’s still alive after taking my back medication. He walked off crying. So I’m in a very strange mood this morning. I’ve upset my best friend and I’d like to dick Cleo Rocos and it looks like that might happen. So that’s good and bad. My best friend may kill himself, but I might get to have sex with Kenny Everett’s sidekick.”

“Do you think she’ll mind being mentioned in a blog?” I asked.

“I’m charming,” said Chris. “I’m very charming. But I want to tell you about Nick Broomfield.”

“The internationally-acclaimed documentary film maker?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Chris. “Louis Theroux is like Nick Broomfield lite, isn’ he? And there’s a couple of others…. So I read in an Observer article last Sunday that he’s made a film about the Chinese brothels in Central London which I assume will be here in Soho and Chinatown because that’s where they are: there are about 80 round here. He’s got loads of undercover footage so, immediately, my Facebook wall and my Twitter is covered with people saying It looks like you’re going to get some more airtime. The chances are you’re going to be in it.

“My show at the Edinburgh Fringe next year is going to be based on the fact that in around eighteen months I spent in excess of £200,000 on Chinese prostitutes.”

“When did that finish?” I asked.

Chris Dangerfield and one of his tattoos

“Just before I went to Thailand and wrote my Sex Tourist show,” he told me. “It ended around July 2011. So when I read that Nick Broomfield had made a film and he’s got undercover footage of it, I’m amazed if I’m not in it and I can’t wait to be in it. He may well digitize my face, but I’m covered in very distinctive tattoos – they’re all writing, there’s no pictures. So hopefully I will be identifiable and then I will be able to sue him for one penny. I don’t want the money off him, just the suing.”

“What would you sue him for?” I asked.

“Err… err…” said Chris. “I’ll find something. He didn’t get me to sign a release form. He might think no-one would like to draw attention to what they’ve done. I’d love to draw attention to it. I’m an atheist, but I am praying to my atheist god that I am in that documentary – clearly me – because I do some weird shit.

“When they’re out of the room, waiting for me to get undressed, I’m making sure there’s nothing unpleasant in my anal crack, dipping my penis under the tap quickly just in case the prostitute I visited an hour before has left anything unpleasant there. Cos sometimes I was doing three or four Chinese prostitutes a day.”

“What might be in your anal crack?” I asked.

“Well, usually poo,” replied Chris laughing.

“And how did you get £200,000 to throw away?” I asked.

“Ah!” said Chris. “That’s an interesting story. I’m going to give you some key words which I think will keep me free of incarceration. If I were to give you the words… my past importing cocaine and selling crack… and say you could use those words in any order you like to create a picture of how I might have earned that money… Easy come, easy go… I learned Mandarin in Chinese brothels in London. I can hold a very basic conversation in Mandarin.”

“If you learnt the language in brothels,” I said, “isn’t the spread of words you know limited? You can’t really go into a vegetable shop and ask for things.”

“Well,” Chris told me. “I do occasionally go into the Loon Fung on Gerrard Street to buy food and I can certainly ask How much does that cost? and there are certain Chinese terms like Mama foo-foo which means So-so but the literal translation is Horse-horse tiger-tiger.”

“So,” I asked, “you’ve been buying a lot of strange things from the Loon Fung?”

“If you come round my house for a hamburger,” said Chris, “be prepared.”

“But back to Nick Broomfield,” I said.

“I’ve contacted his management,” Chris told me. “I’m guessing, if his film is being released this year, it’s probably been shot in the last two years and, considering I was doing two or three a day or more for that eighteen month period, I’m hoping to hell that I’m in the documentary. Not because people can see my nasty white arse go up and down but just because it makes me laugh a lot. I like the thought of being in it.”

“You did two or three a day for eighteen months,” I said. “Why?”

Chris was flummoxed.

“Why have lots of sex?” he asked, incredulous.

“Why Chinese prostitutes?” I asked.

“I’ve got ‘yellow fever’ – I love Chinese prostitutes; I love Asian prostitutes.”

“Because?”

“That’s a question about taste I could never possibly answer. (Gay comedian) Scott Capurro said to me that having sex with an Asian man was the nearest he’d come to having sex with a woman.”

“But prostitutes?” I asked.

“I’ve blurred the boundaries. I’ve become very good friends with a lot of these women.”

“Because you live in Soho yourself?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Chris. “I have had three lives in Soho. When I was a child, I used to come up here to buy magic tricks. Then I had my mid period when I was selling drugs for ten or fifteen years doing ‘the Dean Street shuffle’ – Gerry’s – French House – Colony Club. And now I’ve lived here about four years, where I’ve been ‘clean’ and just doing stand-up… and,” he added as an afterthought, “laying down.”

“I think it depends on your definition of ‘clean’,” I suggested. “But you encounter all these people socially too, because you live in Soho.”

“Yeah,” said Chris. “I’ve been out to dinner with them.”

“And you are doing an Edinburgh comedy show about Chinese brothels next year?”

“Yes,” said Chris. “I’m going to call it Chinese Wank Shops with the tagline In 18 Months I Spent in Excess of £200,000 on Chinese Prostitutes.”

“Doesn’t the constant subject of prostitutes put women off you?” I asked. “Women are not going to be wildly attracted to a man who puts himself around the brothels of Soho.”

“They love it,” said Chris. “I get fan mail… I get so many comedy groupies… They see my show and then they Facebook or Tweet me: Hello. I saw your show. Would you like to have sex?”

“Your Sex Tourist show at the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of months ago didn’t seem to have only men in the audience,” I observed.

“Well,” said Chris, “Kate Copstick’s excellent review in The Scotsman of my excellent show pointed out the audience was made up of old, young, male and females, singles and couples. All laughing hysterically. I have no wrong or right audience. I’ll make anyone laugh. Mathilda Gregory’s 5-star review of Sex Tourist in FringeGuru said it was an “all-conquering clash of ego and touching vulnerability” and I that had “moustache-twirling charisma”.

“How,” I asked, “do you make knobbing prostitutes for money acceptable to comedy goers?”

“Well,” said Chris after a pause. “It’s not my job to make it acceptable. It’s their moral outlook. They have to critically evaluate the evidence they are presented with and not be idiots. If they want to base their understanding of prostitution on ITV series about police and whores and make massive mistakes, then they should do so.”

***

You can read about reaction to this blog HERE and HERE

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Videos: The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe

Footage shot from the audience by comedian Billy Watson at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Nothing to do with me, guv.

INTRODUCTION WITH DAVID MILLS AND SCOTT CAPURRO

CHARLIE CHUCK

IVOR DEMBINA

CHARMIAN HUGHES

FRANK SANAZI

LEWIS SCHAFFER

THE AWARD CEREMONY WITH KATE COPSTICK

JOHNNY SORROW AND THE BOB BLACKMAN APPRECIATION SOCIETY

KUNT AND THE GANG

BENET BRANDRETH

PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS
(Censored)

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN FLEMING

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