Tag Archives: Show Me The Funny

How a non-comedy fan got turned on to UK comedy by one man and a TV show

Sandra Smith outside soho Theatre yesterday

Sandra Smith – not originally a comedy fan

I was first aware of Sandra Smith when she turned up every day at a week of chat shows which I chaired at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013. Since then, she has been turning up at all sorts of comedy shows. Yesterday I said to her:

“You told me you ‘discovered’ comedy two or three years ago. How can you suddenly have discovered comedy?”

“When I was growing up,” she told me, “I didn’t like comedy at all, because I grew up in a time when everyone wanted to tell you a joke and I found it excruciating. I just wished they wouldn’t.”

“Why was people telling you a joke excruciating?”

“Because I felt I would have to ‘get’ it and I would have to laugh, because they’d be embarrassed if I didn’t. It was just a nightmare. I didn’t like comedy and, even today, I’d prefer a drama over a comedy film.

“So I didn’t engage with people like – I guess they were stand-up comedians – Bob Monkhouse and Bob Hope and all that sort of thing. I just thought: What are they doing?

“So,” I asked, “how did you start to get interested in comedy?”

“It was after I had been with a friend to see Paul O’Grady recording a TV show on the South Bank and Pat Monahan was doing the warm-up. I didn’t know anything about warm-ups, but I thought Pat was really good with the people.

“I was not going to go again, because it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea, but then I was told Jo Brand was going to be hosting the Paul O’Grady show, so I went along again. Then I watched a Graham Norton Show being recorded.

Show Me The Funny with Pat Monahan second from left

ITV Show Me The Funny with Pat Monahan second from left

“And then I saw Show Me The Funny on ITV, which I liked. I think I am the only person in the world who did.”

“Why on earth,” I asked, “did you like it?”

“Because it was all very new to me and I thought: Oh! There’s that bloke from Paul O’Grady (Patrick Monahan) on it. Comedians were starting to come into my awareness a bit.”

Show Me The Funny,” I said, “was a terrible dog’s dinner of a format.”

“I couldn’t care less,” Sandra told me. “I was seeing all these comedians and I thought they were all new. I thought Pat was new. I hadn’t got a clue. I would have loved it more if there had been more stand-up instead of all the chitter-chatter, but I liked the exchanges between the comedians. I enjoyed it.”

“You say you wanted more stand-up in it,” I pointed out, “yet you said you hated jokes.”

“Yes, but it was different, somehow. I was getting to like it, because it’s not really just jokes nowadays, is it? It’s more observational stuff. It’s different.

Billy Connolly with Janey Godley

Scots Billy Connolly and Janey Godley

“Before that, I had seen Billy Connolly and I hadn’t realised that he was a stand-up. I thought he was just a great storyteller and I thought: How does he do that? I loved that.”

“Well,” I said, “you’re the perfect audience for modern comedy, because it used to be short gags but now it’s mostly storytelling… So you were getting to like it…”

“Yes,” explained Sandra. “And then Pat Monahan came to Brighton where I live and, because it was someone I knew of, I went with a friend to see him at the Komedia. I hadn’t been there before. It was great.

“Then I was up in London one day and saw that Pat was on at the 99 Club and it was quite a big deal for me to walk into a comedy club by myself. And from then on, I started to like comedy and saw more. It was like opening a door and seeing this different world.

“I like performance – I always have. In my early years, my mum used to take me to the Theatre Royal in Brighton and we’d sit in the gods. I wasn’t particularly engaged with that; I just went along; I went to the cinema a lot; and a friend would take me up to London for ballet and music and her mum was in the theatre as a dancer. But not comedy before I saw Pat.”

“And then you went up to the Edinburgh Fringe?” I asked.

“Yes. I went up for two weeks in 2013. I just loved it. I had a fabulous time. I went to your show that year (John Fleming’s Comedy Blog Chat Show) because I had been reading your blog.”

“How had you stumbled on my blog?”

“I can’t remember, but I started reading it and it just seemed interesting. Then I saw you were doing a show and, as is my wont, I just booked a ticket for every day.”

Kate Copstick co-hosted that show most days,” I said. “Did you know of Copstick?”

Moi, Arthur Smith and Kate Copstick chatted on Monday

Arthur Smith and Kate Copstick at my 2013 Fringe chat show

“Yes. Because she was a judge on Show Me The Funny. But I went to your show because there were going to be people there I had never seen before. I had never heard of Arthur Smith.”

“How on earth had you avoided Arthur Smith?” I asked. “He’s ubiquitous.”

“By not watching comedy. My daughter knew about him because she’d heard him on the radio.”

“And you like him now because…?”

“Because he’s just an engaging bloke. I saw him singing Leonard Cohen. And I saw Sol Bernstein a few weeks ago. I loved him.”

“Did you think he was really an American comedian?” I asked.

“I wasn’t sure.”

I told Sandra: “I saw him play a Monkey Business show a few weeks ago and I think about 80% of the audience thought he was real.”

“I did,” admitted Sandra, “watching it. I wasn’t sure. Then I thought: Perhaps he’s not. It was just delightful at the time.”

“Do you think Lewis Schaffer is a character act?” I asked.

“I don’t know what to make of him. I’ve only seen him twice. Is he really as insecure as he seems? Or is that put on?”

I answered her, but let us not go yet again into the psychology and/or performance art of Lewis Schaffer.

Sandra said of Lewis Schaffer: “I thought maybe he was a totally different person away from the stage. I will have to see him again. I can’t get a handle on his act. I think it’s probably different every time. Somebody walked out of the first show I saw him in. That was great. It was wonderful. I think it was the Madeleine McCann joke she objected to. She had given a sort-of warning sound Ooooaarghh! and then it was Oh! This is too much! and she stamped out. It was funny, because she walked out and, somehow, her jacket got caught on the door and landed on the floor and she didn’t come back for it: one of the staff did.”

“Who else do you like now?” I asked.

“I liked seeing Dr Brown because watching it was exciting because I didn’t know what he would do next – It was like Red Bastard, who I’ve seen three times. And I like the fellah who stands upside down on his head – Terry Alderton.”

“So you like a bit of bizarre,” I said.

Sandra Smith - fan of the bizarre

Sandra Smith – fan of the bizarre – at Soho Theatre yesterday

“Yes. Oh yes. And I like Luisa Omielan. She’s just funny and uplifting. And Janey Godley. Every time I go into one of her shows, I feel very welcome – it’s a real rush of Oh! I feel welcome! But, at the same time, she can be a tartar.”

“Have you read her autobiography?”

“Yes. Oh yes. It’s not the sort of book I would normally read, but I couldn’t put it down. It’s amazing. She’s a natural storyteller. I like storytelling.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy

Kate Copstick on UK comedy’s jihadists, sexism & why an ITV show failed badly

Kate Copstick during the recording of the first Grouchy Club podcast

Copstick, oft called a horned beast, proves the point

In 2011 at the Edinburgh Fringe, I chaired two debates about the comedy business and arranged two spaghetti-juggling contests; the latter could be seen as a simile for the former.

At the 2013 Fringe, I chaired five chat shows on comedy-related subjects. Most included comedy critic Kate Copstick.

Throughout the 2014 Fringe, Copstick and I chaired The Grouchy Club, in which there were no guests. We (well, to be honest, mostly she) chatted to the audience and it was mostly but (like this blog) not entirely about the comedy business.

Yesterday, Copstick and I recorded the first in a weekly series of Grouchy Club “mostly comedy” podcasts. 

I suggested we should start off these weekly chats simply – with just us alone in an empty room and no audience because of the audio distraction. So we decided to record the first podcast at Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in London’s Shepherd’s Bush because it was a controllable space and, on a Sunday, closed.

So we thought.

In fact, the shop was open and, on a Sunday, has a music tradition. So there is an African drummer rather distractingly plying his art over the first 16 minutes of the 43 minute recording available online at http://thegrouchyclub.podomatic.com

The subjects covered include: sexism, the controversial comedians Dapper Laughs and Andrew Lawrence, why ITV’s  Show Me The Funny comedy talent show was crap, Copstick’s encounters with criminals, rape victims, police corruption, and the comedy industry’s new ’political correctness’ Fascists… Oh!… and Copstick sings.

The audio podcast is 43 minutes long. We also videoed the chat and I have posted a single 10-minute chunk of the podcast on YouTube.

Kate Copstick, John Fleming at The Grouchy Club

Serious stuff: The Grouchy Club podcast recording yesterday.

There will be a live Grouchy Club show next Sunday as part of the Jewish Comedy Day in London, despite the fact neither of us is Jewish.

And The Grouchy Club returns to the Edinburgh Fringe this August.

Below are two low-key excerpts from yesterday’s podcast. You will have to listen to the original to get the fully venomous rants.


COPSTICK
Have you looked recently at any of the comedy forums? They are all grouchier than me.

JOHN
No-one is grouchier than you. Adolf Hitler was not grouchier than you.

COPSTICK
To be fair, OK, I am grouchy. But comedy recently, I think, has just become so fucking judgemental.

JOHN
It’s always been judgemental. You’re a critic.

COPSTICK
But I’m fairly and intelligently judgemental… I mean, look at what has happened. Currently we have questions being asked in the House of Commons because Channel 4 want to do a sitcom based on the Irish Potato Famine. Because, apparently, you’re not allowed to be funny about the Irish Potato Famine.

That is two steps away from creating a jihad because someone has drawn a moustache and a pair of funny specs on the face of the prophet Mohammed – who probably had a moustache anyway, to be fair.

JOHN
We should point out this is being recorded the day after people were shot to death in Denmark for daring to speak things.

COPSTICK
Exactly! That’s what I’m saying. No, it’s not what I’m saying! People within the comedy industry seem to be becoming as judgemental as people outside the industry. I mean, when was the last time ever, in comedy – the answer is never…

JOHN
Never.

COPSTICK
Too soon.

JOHN
Timing.

COPSTICK
Essence… Comedy.

JOHN
42.

COPSTICK
We’re not talking universe here, we’re talking something much more important, John: we’re talking Comedy.

JOHN
I should point out that, when I arrived, Copstick said (a) I’m very angry and (b) I’m pissed. She is. Not me.

COPSTICK
Well, I was angry.

JOHN
And pissed.

COPSTICK
No, no, no. I was angry, I was in pain (Copstick has lupus), I was upset, I was depressed and I was frustrated.

JOHN 
Ideal for an Edinburgh comedy show.

COPSTICK
And then my lovely volunteer here in the Mama Biashara shop suggested Southern Comfort but we didn’t have any Southern Comfort, so I fell back on Jägermeister and I can’t tell you how warm and cuddly and friendly I’m feeling… Except to the people in the comedy industry who have suddenly turned into the Spanish fucking Inquisition.

Back to my question. Whenever in the history of comedy did people from within the industry turn on one of their own and kill… I’m talking Dapper Laughs.

JOHN
But he has revived, like the good lord on the third day.

COPSTICK
I’m speaking now as somebody who I think we can all agree… Look, it’s been some time since I’ve been well-moist. I think I’m sticky at best, crusty at worst… But what is wrong with Dapper Laughs? It wasn’t the greatest comedy series on television, but…

JOHN
We should point out to any foreign listeners that happen to be out there that Dapper Laughs was said to be a sexist and…

COPSTICK
He WAS sexist! He IS sexist. But what’s wrong with comedy sexism?

JOHN
Sexism is a bit like making jokes about rape. In theory, you shouldn’t make jokes about rape, but it depends how it’s done.

COPSTICK
Exactly…Well, no… I don’t think it is. Because rape is a terrible thing, despite what some people who subscribe to your blog might think that I think. Rape is a terrible thing. It’s an act of aggression; it’s an act of violence. Sexism is just making fun of different sexes in the ways that they are different.

JOHN
That’s comedy sexism. But sexism is actually demeaning someone else.

COPSTICK
But he IS comedy sexism.

JOHN
But it’s like saying there’s nothing wrong with racism. There is nothing wrong with jokes about people of another race, but there is something wrong with racism, where you say that person is not worthy of anything and should be spat upon. Women are pointless, they’re awful, they’re mentally inferior…

COPSTICK
That’s not what he said.

JOHN
That’s sexism, though.

COPSTICK
Yes, but that’s not what he said,


JOHN
You did an ITV1 comedy talent show.

COPSTICK
Yes, it was called Show Me The Funny and it didn’t. It hardly showed any funny, because it was too busy wandering off round Liverpool watching people trying to find somebody called Michelle.

JOHN
Without slagging off anyone or causing a legal rumpus, why did they do that?

COPSTICK
Well, without slagging off anyone or causing a legal rumpus…

JOHN
We both know the executive producer, who is wonderful.

COPSTICK
He is a marvellous man. As I understand it… and let me preface this by saying that, if anyone in ITV1 would like to offer me a comedy series, I would be only too happy to say Yes… However, what seems to me to have been the problem with Show Me The Funny was that somebody said: Let’s do X-Factor for comedy. and they went: Great! Fucking hell! Nice! Yes! 

However, at the point where they take a good or reasonable or very basic idea to a boardroom where lots of pointless executives sit around, they then said: Yes, X-Factor. Huge! Marvellous! Everyone loves it! But The Apprentice is really good too and it gets fantastic ratings. So why don’t we just… In a criminal enterprise, this would be called a cut-and-shunt.

JOHN
Shunt?

COPSTICK
Shunt.

JOHN
Just checking.

COPSTICK
Rhyming with… It means you take the back half of one (car) and the front half of another, slam them together and hope that it works. Guess what. It didn’t.

They had a choice: take the entire production team from the entertainment show or take the entire production team from The Apprentice. And guess what they did. They took the entire fucking production team from The Apprentice. How funny was The Apprentice? Not at all.

JOHN
That’s literally true, isn’t it? They came from The Apprentice.

COPSTICK
That is true. Lovely people. But about as funny as genital herpes.

JOHN
It’s very difficult to do a comedy show or a light entertainment show if you don’t have the light entertainment gene.

COPSTICK
Very sweet people but… bloody hell!


YOU HEAR THE FULL PODCAST HERE
AND WATCH A 10-MINUTE SECTION OF VIDEO HERE

 

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Sex

Edinburgh Fringe: Want to become a comedian? – Why? Are you ****ed up?

At the end of yesterday morning’s blog, I mentioned the surprisingly not-yet-legendary fact that comics Bob Slayer and Jeff Leach once, in British English, wanked into the face of an audience member at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I had heard before of this (in British English) wankathon, but not the fact that an audience member was involved.

Yesterday afternoon, coming out of The Grouchy Club, I accidentally bumped into Dave Chapple – not to be confused with American comic Dave Chappelle – Dave Chapple is the afore-mentioned wank-incident audience member who is, this year, trying to set a record by seeing 287 comedy shows at the Fringe.

One man faces up to near-legendary Fringe status

This man’s face played a role in Fringe history

“I only have 45 seconds before my next show starts,” he told me.

“It’s all true, then?” I asked him. “The story about the wanking?”

“Absolutely true.”

“Do you remember any details about it?” I asked. “The texture?”

“The texture? Not really.”

“Could you not get out of the way?” I asked. “Surely it takes a little time if they’re on stage and you’re in the front row of the audience?”

“Not in Espionage,” he replied. “They were on a stage and I was on a stool.”

“A stool?” I asked.

“A stool. Carole was sat next to me and she was laughing her head off. I was just grateful I had my glasses on.”

Other oddities at the Fringe yesterday involved…

  • The re-appearance of fake BroadwayBabys

    A re-appearance of the fake BroadwayBaby

    Random punters at The Hive last night having to choose between Sex With Children and Jim Davidson’s Funeral (a one-off performance).

  • Someone stopping me to ask when Machete Hettie was back from holiday in Bulgaria and if she was going to turn up at The Grouchy Club. I hope the answer is Yes. Ask no more. She is a Fringe legend in the making.
  • The re-appearance of what appear to be fake editions of the Broadway Baby free review sheet. When I phoned the person I thought might be responsible, I was told: Ha! Just you wait! I have other news, but I will hunt you down in two days.

Among the audience at The Grouchy Club yesterday afternoon were Italian comics Giacinto Palmieri & Luca Cupani and young comic Jake Baker.

Last year, my Grouchy Club co-host Kate Copstick, doyenne of comedy critics, was judge on the Gilded Balloon’s highly-esteemed annual So You Think You’re Funny talent show at the Fringe.

She was also a judge on an unspeakably dire comedy talent show on ITV called Show Me The Funny which kept trying to pretend it was not a comedy talent show by having the contestants go out and milk goats or some other pointless task.

Well, I do not think they ever WERE asked to milk goats, but it felt like it. Copstick, clearly cast as the evil Simon Cowell judge, was the only decent part of the show.

I express my own opinion.

Do not confuse the awful Show Me The Funny with the excellent So You Think You’re Funny.

It was on the excellent So You Think You’re Funny show that Copstick saw young comic Jake Baker.

A couple of months ago, he asked if Copstick could give him some advice on his act. She suggested he come along to The Grouchy Club one afternoon in August and perform in front of other comics. They would give him their comments.

London’s Evening Standard reports the death

Evening Standard reports the death

At the start of yesterday’s Grouchy Club show, I mentioned that Robin Williams had died, apparently from suicide. Copstick had not heard.

“That’s one of the horrible things about the Fringe,” she said. “things happen in the world and you don’t hear. Thousands die in Syria. ISIS are chopping the heads off children and the most terrible thing here is when someone is given 3 stars instead of 4 in a review.”

In the last week, I have had two comics sharing emotional wobblies with me because they got 3-star reviews that, they believed, panned them. When I read the reviews myself, both were enthusiastic, complimentary reviews with good quotes which could justifiably be extracted to publicise the show. Both comedians got good reviews. Both thought they had got bad reviews.

Copstick said: “I remember, when I was a performer here, spending two weeks being devastated because somebody had written: The show was great. Lovely, lovely, lovely. And Kate Copstick was a revelation.

“I thought: Well, they obviously expected me to be shit! The word on the street must be that I’m rubbish! I went into a spin about that, but real things were happening in the real world.”

After the shock of hearing about Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, she said: “But, then, there are no well-balanced people who go into comedy. You cannot be happy, well-balanced, with proper friends and be a comedian. You have to be fucked-up in some way.”

Luca (left) and Giacinto pose for me in Camden yesterday while an attractive lady casually picks her nose behind them

Religious Luca Cupani (left) & non-believer Giacinto Palmieri

“I am quite happy,” said Luca Cupani.

“Come on,” said Giacinto Palmieri, “you believe in God. How fucked-up is that?”

“He’s so powerful he scares me,” said Luca.

“You’re Catholic?” asked Copstick.

“Yes.”

“Well, there you are,” said Copstick. “You don’t get more fucked-up than being a practising Catholic.”

“That’s true,” said Luca.

“I shared a flat,” continued Copstick, “with a practising Irish Catholic and she was quite a badly-behaved girl. Every time we had an appalling, badly-behaved party, she ended up under three different guys with four different kinds of drugs and spent the next morning going: Oh! It’s a sin! It’s a sin! It’s a mortal sin!

“She would go down to Confession, come back and do exactly the same thing again and then go: Oh! It’s a sin! It’s a sin! It’s a mortal sin! It was virtually a split personality. Half of her was shagging as a main hobby and a way of life – she specialised in married men – Oh! It’s a sin! It’s a sin! It’s a mortal sin! – and the other half of her was devastated by the sin of it.”

“I am protected,” said Luca, “because I don’t have so many girls going down on me so far.”

“How long have you been a comic?” Copstick asked.

“Five months,” said Luca.

“Oh, it will come,” said Copstick. “Giacinto, tell him.”

“They don’t” Giacinto said. “At least, not to me.”

Jake Baker performed at The Grouchy Club

Jake Baker performed at The Grouchy Club

“I’ve had the same girlfriend since I was seventeen,” said 24-year-old Jake Baker.

“Wow!” said Copstick, shocked. “Seven years! That’s amazing!”

“There’s still plenty of time for him to ruin his life,” I said.

“You can’t be a comedian,” said Giacinto.”You’re not fucked-up enough.”

“Why do you want to be a comic?” asked Copstick.

“It looked like fun,” said Jake.

“For you or for the audience?” asked Giacinto.

“I quite liked stand-up when I was at university,” said Jake. “I thought I’d give it a go, I’ve enjoyed it so far, so I guess I’ll keep going as long as I enjoy it.”

“Why did you want to be a comedian?” Copstick asked Giacinto.

“Because I have things I want to say. I like to play with my mind.”

“That’s the other thing, isn’t it?” I said. “To get things out of your brain.”

“I think now,” Copstick said to Jake, “the danger for stand-up is that there are lots of guys around your age who don’t really want to be stand-up comics. They want to be famous and they want to be on TV and they probably want to host something ideally within the next 18 months. For the last few years I’ve been able to go and see clones who have not really got anything to say.

“I think the worst thing you can have in politics is a career politician – someone who has not had a life but who went to university to do politics and then become a politician’s assistant and then a politician. In the same way, there’s nothing worse than somebody who goes to a comedy workshop or class – and you can tell them a mile off. They’re doing it by numbers, because comedy is a secondary drive. The primary drive is fame and television.

“So I think you’re coming into comedy at an incredibly crowded time, which is bad news. But the good news is most of the crowd are shit.”

A helping hand held out in a comedic world

A helping hand held out in a comedic world

Just for the record, Jake was very good. Not perfect. But very promising.

As I finished writing this blog, a lady came up to the table I am sitting at in Fringe Central.

“Can I give you this?” she asked in a soft voice, handing me a card. “If you need anyone to talk to. I know it is not always easy for you guys.”

The card was from The Samaritans.

If only she knew.

If only she knew.

I had already had an e-mail from Lewis Schaffer.

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Politics

Top comedy critic Kate Copstick spends $2,500 on prostitutes in Nairobi, Kenya

Oy! Oy! - Kate Copstick reveals her other life

Kate Copstick, the doyenne of Fringe comedy reviewers, is an interesting person. Call her Copstick, never Kate. She used to appear on children’s TV series No 73, owns the TV production company Bobby’s Girl, owns The Erotic Review and was cast as the ‘outspoken’ comedy judge on ITV’s Show Me The Funny.

According to ITV, she “has seen more live comedy and spotted more new talent than any other comedy critic in the UK… with a fearsome reputation on the circuit as being the toughest of the tough, who can either make or break a career.”

She has also been a judge for the Perrier Awards, Amused Moose, So You Think You’re Funny and my own highly-esteemed-by-the-comedy-cognoscenti Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards.

Every year, 100% of any profit from staging the Malcolm Hardee Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe (no costs are deducted) goes to the Mama Biashara charity run by Copstick. She is currently in Kenya and sent me this:

__________

Yesterday afternoon I spent  $2,500 on prostitutes in Nairobi. Fifty two of them, in fact. Fifty girls and two boys.

My charity (how I hate the proto-Christian smugness of that word) Mama Biashara works in the slums setting women (mainly) up in small businesses to pull them out of the absolute poverty in which they are living and elevate them to simple poverty. It is, I have found, generally the best I can do.

Most sex workers here are girls with no education and no skills who turn to the street as a last resort to feed, house and clothe their children. Offer them a chance to do some other business and they leap at it. Mama B just gives them a financial trampoline to leap over the big barrier called ‘set up costs’. I say big barrier – usually $25 suffices.

Most of the girls (and two boys) are great. They mainly have good workable business plans – some even great. Waldah – an absolute charmer – is not fazed when I balk at the cost of a hot sausage selling machine. She has identified one and the owner has told her his price. Which is too high for Mama B.

“Eh” says Waldah, twinkling, “I am a sex worker… I can persuade him to lower his price!” 

There is one older woman, a widow,  from out near Mombasa who has come specially to see me. She is in her late forties. She has four children and now they are all in secondary school or college. When her hotel (cafe) business was simply not making enough money to pay school fees she did the only thing she could to give her children the education she believes they deserve – she went on the game. I felt like giving her a medal, never mind a business grant. 

She got 5,000ksh (about $50) which will enable her to set up a much bigger and smarter cafe. We are staying in touch to see how things go. She is the loveliest woman, a real quiet, gentle person. I hope her kids appreciate her.

One boy was a victim of the post-election violence in the Rift Valley. His family were killed and he lived on the streets for two years. Now – by becoming a rent boy – he has accommodation. But he has researched a business selling hot sausages (yes, yes, as opposed to selling his own ‘hot sausage’). There is, he assures me, a great demand.

Martin is quite a high-end (if you will pardon the expression) rent boy. He has a degree in International Relations, speaks perfect English, Farsee and Russian and worked successfully in PR till his employer sacked him for being gay.

“So you have real skills!” I remark.

“I’ve got skills!” affirms Martin, “I can get a ten inch cock up my arse”.  

His mother recently died and left him her house. Not exactly in the most salubrious setting, but it could be worse. There are two bedrooms. Sadly all the furniture was sold for funeral expenses. Martin wants to furnish the second bedroom (already decorated in fabulously flamboyant colours) and rent it out to gay people (workers, researchers, writers… people from activist groups or just travellers) as a place where they will be welcomed and safe when they visit Nairobi. Homosexuality is not at ALL safe in Kenya.  I think this is a great idea. A Brighton-style B&B in the heart of Homophobialand.

Everyone, as well as their start up grants, gets a dozen condoms and a small vibrator. Martin gets a Durex special vibrating cock ring.  He beams with delight as he lopes off to his next client.

“Charge extra,” I advise.

1 Comment

Filed under Africa, Charity, Comedy, Gay, Health, Kenya, Sex

Day Three of Malcolm Hardee Week – pasta chaos and a finger up the bottom

Malcolm Hardee Week continues apace.

After Monday’s Malcolm Hardee Debate finished a whole hour late (it merged into the next show), Scots comic Nob Stewart grabbed Kate Copstick when she came off stage and chatted to her on camera for 45 minutes.

I guess the adrenaline (and possibly the two pints she had had on-stage) pumped away. In the first two minutes, she named a comedy company whose flyerers had physically threatened her and she was laying into the big promoters at the Edinburgh Fringe. If you think she is sharp-tongued on ITV1’s Show Me The Funny, you have only heard the half of it…

Later today, Copstick is travelling down to the O2 arena in London as a judge for the live final of Show Me The Funny (although the winner is decided by viewer voting). Then tomorrow she is on a train back up to Edinburgh when we decide the Malcolm Hardee Award winners at noon and she will take an active part through the wonders of 21st century technology. As I said in my blog yesterday, what’s this thing with the Prime Minister having to be dragged back from holiday every time something happens?

If we had Copstick as Prime Minister, things would be easier.

Me? I have to be at the Blue Moon cafe-restaurant-bar in Barony Street just off Broughton Street in the New Town at noon today to collect more spaghetti for the second day of the Malcolm Hardee Spaghetti-Juggling Contest. The Blue Moon is generously sponsoring us with free spaghetti.

The spaghetti-juggling happens outside the Beehive Inn in the Grassmarket.

Yesterday the first spaghetti-juggling contest, partially in the rain, became less of a solo juggling event, more a three-a-side sideways-throwing contest with the participants constantly changing. This came about when Scots comedian Bruce Fummey valiantly tried to bring some order into the proceedings; it must be his background as a teacher.

In its latter stages, to be honest, with spaghetti stocks dwindling, the thing degenerated more into a custard-pie type spaghetti fight than juggling. The arrival of Malcolm Award nominated Johnny Sorrow on the scene in a macintosh and flat cap did little to quell the degeneration of this fine potential Olympic sport – and he seemed to encourage the rain.

At the end, Laughing Horse Free Festival supremo Alex Petty mucked-in with a stiff broom, helping to clear up the scattered spaghetti in the cobbles outside the Beehive Inn. If his flirtation with big-time comedy promoting ever falls through, he has a future as a street sweeper.

Today’s spaghetti-juggling will include on-the-spot advice on the aerodynamics of pasta from Dr Sophia Khan, formerly of NASA , Harvard, the Japanese Space Agency and Shanghai University. She will be joined by Dr Andrew Bunker, former Head of Astronomy at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Oz and now Reader in Astrophysics at Oxford University.

Who said spaghetti-juggling was trivial?

Brainiac eat your heart out.

While waiting for the spaghetti-juggling to start yesterday, I got dragged into Lancelot Adams’ show outside the Beehive Inn – The Magic Drawabout – an enticingly odd concept in which he gets passing members of the public to take part in a one hour show which involves drawing each other in various parts of the Grassmarket while he chats to the ‘sitter’.

He told me he had thought I looked like a weirdo when he first saw me in the street, but soon realised I was not. I was genuinely offended this.

Have the last several decades of my life, cultivating weirdness, all been in vain?

The Magic Drawabout and Lancelot Adams’ other show at the Beehive Inn – Ze Hoff Und Friends – about David Hasselhoff – are decidedly quirky, but the ‘sleeper’ of the Fringe has arguably been Paul Provenza’s Set List: Standup Without a Net which started in Just The Tonic at the Tron, then moved to one of Just The Tonic’s bigger venues at The Caves and now has moved to a bigger Cave, such has been its increasing popularity. It has gathered even more word-of-mouth with Paul Provenza flying in from LA last week.

Set List: Standup Without a Net has also been getting a lot of word-of-mouth buzz among comedians, because its format of the stand-up comic being shown a list of six words or phrases as subjects – the set list – one-at-a-time without pre-warning only when they are on stage is an utter nightmare. The best comics can weave a thread through the disparate subjects rather than just perform six unconnected routines. The risk of getting lost is high. The likelihood of a comedian eventually shitting on stage must be equally high.

Last night, among those trying their luck were Frank Skinner, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Richard Herring and Phill Jupitus. Big names for a concept that seems likely to get bigger.

One tiny aside…

While waiting to get into Set List last night, a comic came up to me and said she had just been to Malcolm Hardee Award nominee Bob Slayer’s show at The Hive where, on stage, she had stuck her finger up his bottom. A rubber glove had been provided by the ever-amenable Bob.

As far as I know, it is the second time this has happened in Bob’s show.

Call me old-fashioned but I think, as a format, Set List: Standup Without a Net has more likelihood of being commissioned as a TV series.

I would be happy to be proved wrong, though I am not sure I would be watching on a regular basis.

Bob Slayer was nominated for this year’s Malcolm Hardee Award “for going beyond OTT into uncharted areas of comedy excess”.

I think it would be difficult to fault our nomination.

When I mentioned this story to Bob Slayer, he said, “Well, I do want to point out that it did not happen a second time – The lady who did it the first time was in the audience last night and so another lady tried to emulate her (who wouldn’t?) – She tried to do a fist but failed .

“I obviously don’t want people to think that any Tom, Dick or Harry can finger my entrails.”

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy

Day One of Malcolm Hardee Week – and only one bit of genital exposure

The first ever Malcolm Hardee Week at the Edinburgh Fringe has started and yesterday was a strange old day.

For most of the day, things went well.

I saw the funniest show so far at the Fringe – Johnny Sorrow’s The Bob Blackman Appreciation Society, which made me laugh-out-loud – a rare thing (television production experience, luv).

Having lost two helpers who were no longer coming to Edinburgh as planned, I had offers of help from several sources.

Ever-enthusiastic science-comedy star Helen Keen of Radio 4‘s It Is Rocket Science!) may be able to help me Wednesday to Friday, as can my chum Dr Sophia Khan, formerly of NASA and Harvard and assistant professor of Astrophysics at Shanghai University (Helen’s co-star in last year’s Fringe science comedy show Starstruck!)

From Thursday, I will also have Sophia’s chum Dr Andrew Bunker, former Head of Astronomy at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Oz and now Reader in Astrophysics at Oxford University.

With help like this, surely there will be no problem keeping pasta in the air during Wednesday and Thursday’s spaghetti-juggle contests. Indeed, we should surely be able to get the cooked and aerodynamic strands into low Earth orbit.

On Friday, at the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show – really a two-hour anarchic variety show – I have also been offered help by comic Gill Smith who inspired the original Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award with a cracking Fringe publicity stunt in 2008 – she sent me an e-mail nominating herself for the main Malcolm Hardee Award and saying that, by doing so, she would be justified in putting Malcolm Hardee Award Nominee on her posters.

OCD is a wonderful thing.

Last night’s first Malcolm Hardee Week event went well: it was allegedly a debate on the proposition that “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish”. I think it went well, anyway. It was due to run from 6.15 to 7.00pm but over-ran by an hour to 8.00pm with no walk-outs when panelist Bob Slayer (whose show followed ours) decided that everyone was enjoying themselves so much, we should just carry on and the continuation of our show would become his hour-long show for the night.

That is what large amounts of drinking can lead to.

As I said, I do not think there were any walk-outs; in fact, of course, the audience swelled.

There was, surprisingly, only one incident of genital exposure during the show – when Paul Provenza did a Malcolm Hardee impression – and there were some interesting, if unprintable stories told in the over-run.

Scotsman critic and ITV Show Me The Funny judge Kate Copstick told a story I can’t possibly repeat about the origin of the Mrs Merton character – and a story about one promoter’s reaction to Kunt and the Gang’s current ‘Cockgate’ stunt at the Edinburgh Fringe, which was more Godfather anecdote than comedy story.

And comedienne Janey Godley told a true tale about Jerry Sadowitz performing in her pub in the East End of Glasgow to an audience which included real-life (now dead) Glasgow godfather Arthur Thompson. The largely-English audience I think missed a detail about Arthur Thompson which Janey mentioned in passing and which I do not think is generally known. Though true, I am most certainly not going to repeat it.

Thompson died in 1993, but I think waking up to a severed horse’s head might still be a possibility.

So yesterday – apart from the distant possibilities of horses’ heads and crucifixion on a wooden tenement floor – was good.

With Miss Behave now very sadly unable to compere Friday night’s two-hour Malcolm Hardee Awards Show at The Counting House because of her meningitis, Scott Capurro and New Comedy Act of the Year 2011 winner David Mills have stepped in to the breach by agreeing to be co-comperes. Scott even cancelled a party on Friday night so he could do the gig.

He told me that, after the first gig he played for Malcolm Hardee, as an American new to the London circuit, he was given his money in a brown envelope. When he got home, he found there was £20 less in the envelope than Malcolm had promised.

“Well, of course there was,” his comedian friends told him. “It’s Malcolm.”

It is extraordinary but true that Malcolm was always – and remains – held in such high esteem by his fellow comedians.

How often was the sentence uttered, “Well, it’s just Malcolm being Malcolm, isn’t it…” ?

But the one bad bit of news yesterday late afternoon was that Rab C.Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison cannot be on the panel of tonight’s 6.15pm Malcolm Hardee comedy debate at The Hive – allegedly on the proposition “Racist or sexist jokes? It doesn’t matter if they’re funny!” – because Ian has injured his back in Glasgow and cannot get to Edinburgh.

So, at the moment, the panel are Viz magazine creator Simon Donald, BBC TV One Show presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli and Laughing Cows‘ international compere Maureen Younger plus A.N.Other.

It was a bit of a downer when I heard that Ian cannot join us.

But yesterday ended well when I was told that the wonderful Doktor CocaColaMcDonalds has had a son called Oscar… the first Malcolm Hardee Award winner to have an Oscar…

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy

‘Cockgate’ orchestrator replaces Rupert Murdoch pie-man at Edinburgh Fringe

As Jonnie Marbles (the Rupert Murdoch pie-attacker) is now stuck down South in the heathen wastes of England on Monday (he was a possibility), the last person on the panel for the first Malcolm Hardee Comedy Punch-Up Debate on Monday is now confirmed as comedian and promoter Bob Slayer, orchestrator of Kunt and the Gang’s current ‘Cockgate’ publicity stunt at the Edinburgh Fringe – much blogged about here in the last few days.

He joins ITV1’s Show Me the Funny judge Kate Copstick aka Cruella de Cowell plus the “godmother of Scottish comedy” Janey Godley and American film director Paul Provenza (The Aristocrats).

The proposition is that “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish”. The debate should be… erm… lively… and funny at The Hive in Edinburgh – on Monday (22nd August) at 6.15pm. No tickets; free entry as part of the Free Festival; contributions to the Mama Biashara charity welcome at the end.

The next day (Tuesday 23rd August) at 6.15, the proposition is “Racist or sexist jokes? It doesn’t matter if they’re funny!”

Debating that are Viz creator Simon Donald, BBC1’s controversial One Show presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli, Rab C.Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison and Laughing Cows compere Maureen Younger.

It should be a lively start to Malcolm Hardee Week at the Fringe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, PR, Psychology