Tag Archives: Shawshank Redemption

Comedy news: Martin Soan is a fool; Viv Soan in court; Matt Roper mugged

BBC photo of Martin at the fool show

BBC photo of Martin the fool, but he is no fool on payment.

After my ongoing jury service yesterday, I went to the Pull The Other One comedy club run by Vivienne and Martin Soan only to find out that Vivienne has also been called up to do jury service next month.

Perhaps the court system was in awe of her husband Martin who, last weekend, was crowned “official fool” at the annual International Jesters’ Tournament at Muncaster Castle in the Lake District and who receives an annual salary in beer. (Martin is clearly no fool.)

Miss Behave showed her class last night

Miss Behave was showing her class last night

Last night, Pull The Other One had an even more extraordinarily varied bill than normal with the utterly brilliant Men In Coats doing their visual gagathon, the surreal Cheekykita doing whatever it was she was doing (that’s a compliment), Mr Susie getting bigger laughs than most comics by simply holding up one-word gags on cards and close harmony trio Totes Awes strutting their thing.

Topping the bill were Owen O’Neill and Miss Behave, the latter of whom confirmed, much to my relief, that she is hosting the increasingly prestigious annual Malcolm Hardee Awards at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, as well as staging her own Game Show and helping Bob Slayer run the new Bob’s Bookshop venue.

Owen O’Neill needed no redemtion

Owen O’Neill needed no redemption last night

I suspect the hottest show on the Fringe, though, will be The Shawshank Redemption which Owen adapted for the stage and which will star a cast including Omid Djalili, Phil Nichol and Ian Lavender (of Dad’s Army).

Throughout yesterday (when not in court) I was having a staggered e-conversation with comedian Matt Roper. It went along these edited lines:

Me: The last time my blog readers heard of you, you were in a wheelchair in Saigon… then you were getting wet in Burma and ultrasound scanned in a Bangkok hospital. So, for the sake of any future eBook readers if nothing else, what happened with the deep vein thrombosis you had?

Matt: It’s gone. Now we just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Drugs, drugs, drugs. (dribble).

Me: You mean by taking drugs in the future?

Matt: Yes, of course. To keep me from getting a recurring deep vein thrombosis. I don’t do drink, drugs or anything these days. Tucked up in bed at 11.00pm wearing my compression socks, sipping a glass of water. Thirty-six and waiting for God. My pee is so clean I could drink it.

Me: Too much information. What happened about the calcification in your flesh which they found in Bangkok?

Matt: Harmless, they now tell me.

Me: Where did you go and what did you do betwixt Bangkok and Blighty?

Mcleod Ganj in the Himalayas

Mcleod Ganj in the Himalayas – storms & mugging monkeys

Matt: Went to India… Delhi, then a train journey up to the foothills of the Himalayas and the town of McLeod Ganj. It’s an old British settlement given to the Tibetan community-in-exile when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959. Lovely place. I like being up by the mountains. We had some terrific storms. McLeod Ganj nestles about 5,000 feet above sea level. You have large eagles swooping down in the valleys BENEATH you and snowcapped peaks above. Magic. No bizarre people involved, but I did nearly get mugged by a monkey – all for a bag of samosas.

Me: Where are you at the moment?

Matt: I’m out the back of a pub in south London on the set of a short comedy film I’m making with Charlie Henniker and Susan Husband called Knock Knock. Then tomorrow (Saturday) I fly to Cape Town for the comedy festival there. As Wilfredo.

Me: What part are you playing in the film?

Matt: Ironically, a drinker in a pub.

Me: You had to cancel your own Edinburgh Fringe show because of your medical problems earlier in the year. Are you popping up to the Fringe at all in August?

Matt: I hope so…

Matt Roper in his Parkinson’s Disease teeshirt

Matt Roper in his Parkinson’s Disease teeshirt

Me: And are you going to do a show sooner or later about your worldwide exploits and medical mayhem?

Matt: Yes!

Me: Have you got any photos that cover the answers to any of the above?

Matt: No. But I have got one of me wearing a t-shirt to support (the American comic) Rick Shapiro in his Parkinson’s awareness campaign. But Rick Shapiro is another blog entirely…

Me: Yes it is.

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When people ask that British breaking-the-ice question: “What do you do?”

On Wednesday night, BBC2 will screen the first in a new series of that extraordinary TV comedy Rab C Nesbitt, written and created by Ian Pattison.

Last week, I asked Ian if there was something he would rather do instead of another series of Rab C Nesbitt.

“Instead of?” he replied. “Why not ‘in addition to?’ I’ve now finished writing my fourth novel and have written a screenplay based on my third. My novels, of course, don’t sell. I advised the publisher of my last book to put Ian Rankin’s name on the jacket on the basis that IR would never notice my sidled addition to his oeuvre as his stuff takes up all the shelves in Waterstone’s and most of the cafeteria.”

I suspect most fans who watch Rab C Nesbitt do not think of Ian primarily as a novelist. And most people who admire his novels do not think of him primarily as a TV comedy scriptwriter.

Pretty much throughout my life, Whenever people ask that first perennial British breaking-the-ice question, “What do you do?” I have immediately got into trouble, because I have never really known the correct answer.

Sometimes I say, “I have bummed around a lot,” which is probably closer to the truth than anything.

I suspect as a percentage, more than anything, I have probably sat in darkened rooms editing trailers and marketing/sales tapes. But, when I have said that, people have thought I was/am a videotape editor, which I never have been – too technical for me – I was called writer or producer or director or whatever the union or company felt like at the time – or whatever I wanted to make up for a nameless job – and, once you get into mentioning “I do on-air promotions”, you open a whole can of befuddled misunderstanding.

“Do people do that?” is a common response.

So, over the years, different people have thought I do different things, real or imagined, depending on what I happened to have been doing – or what they thought I was doing – at the exact moment I first met them.

TV research is one. Editor of books is another. Manager of comedians is one that always amuses me.

This sprang to mind on Friday, when I saw comedian Owen O’Neill ‘storm the room’ as the saying goes at the always excellent monthly Pull The Other One in Peckham.

Most people who see Owen perform comedy, I suspect, see him as “just” a stand-up comic which, of course, is far from the truth. If they know a bit about comedy, they may know he has performed at over 20 Edinburgh Fringes and been nominated for the Perrier Award.

They may know he acted in the high-profile stage productions of Twelve Angry Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Odd Couple.

But I first met Owen off-stage in 2003 when Malcolm Hardee and I were commissioning Sit-Down Comedy for publishers Random House. It was an anthology of writing by comedians – not to be confused with the phrase “comic anthology” because a lot of the short stories are very, very dark (a glimpse, I suspect, of what lurks in many comedians’ minds). The book should have been called Sit-Down Comedians, but publishers’ mis-marketing of their own product knows no bounds.

Owen wrote a story The Basketcase for Sit-Down Comedy: a particularly dark and moving tale. His short film of The Basket Case (which he also directed) won him the award for Best Short Fiction movie at the 2008 Boston Film Festival in the US and Best International Short at the 2010 Fantaspoa Film Festival in Brazil.

Most people who see Owen perform comedy probably do not know this. Most probably do not know his first feature film as writer Arise and Go Now was directed by Oscar-winning Danny Boyle or that his play Absolution got rave reviews during its off-Broadway run or that he co-wrote the stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption currently running in the West End of London.

I suspect if a literate alien arrived from Alpha Centauri and looked at the facts objectively, Owen would be described not as a stand-up comic but as a playwright who also performs comedy (his plays are many and varied).

You get typecast as being one thing in life no matter how much you do.

In the last couple of months, comedian Ricky Grover appeared in BBC TV soap EastEnders; and the movie Big Fat Gypsy Gangster, which he wrote and directed, was released.

What do you call people like this?

Well, in Ricky’s case, you obviously call him “Mr Grover” and treat him with respect.

He also wrote for Sit-Down Comedy and I know his background too well!

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Filed under Comedy, Movies, Television, Theatre, Writing