Tag Archives: Tanyalee Davis

If you see a ginger dwarf lying on the ground, would you think: “That’s odd!”

Tanyalee Davis: a big comedy talent from Canada

Last night, comedy critic Kate Copstick and I were in Covent Garden to see the Maple Leaf Trust’s annual Hilarity For Charity gig with profits going to the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund.

On the bill were Canadian comics Ryan Cull, Tanyalee Davis and Tom Stade.

Afterwards, we had a drink with Tanyalee.

“I am hopefully getting new hips in the next two years,” she told us: “I have the hips of a 90-year-old with the mentality of a 19-year-old.”

“So what’s next for you now?” I asked.

“Starting on Monday,” she told me, “for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be FaceTiming and Skyping with some disabled performers in Vancouver who are going to be doing stand-up pretty much for the first time at a three-night event in Vancouver at the end of May. On May 4th, I’m going to Vancouver and working with them in a rehearsal space.”

“May the fourth be with you,” I said.

No-one laughed.

“Why do these people wanna be stand-ups?” I asked. “All stand-ups are mad.”

“I dunno,” Tanyalee replied. “Who knows? Everybody wants to give it a go.”

“What,” Copstick asked, “is your advice going to be?”

“They have sent me some of their material,” replied Tanyalee, “and… there are no jokes… But maybe that’s the problem of seeing stuff as written words. I’m not the best writer by any means but I sell it with my performance. So I’m hoping, once I meet these people on Skype and I see them doing it, I will have advice on their writing and how they perform it. I have just seen the bare bones so far. I’ve been in the business 27 years, so I have some experience.”

“Who has chosen these people?” I asked. “Are they self-chosen?”

“They’re part of a non-profit-making theatre company called Realwheels. They got a government grant to fly over an international performer to mentor.”

“You are Canadian,” I said, “but you live in the UK in Norwich. I have lived in Norwich. For heaven’s sake, why are you living in Norwich?”

“Because I’m part of an anti-bullying campaign,” Tanyalee told me. “A self-empowerment campaign called Great As You Are. I go into schools and work with little snot-nosed kids, but I absolutely love it. It is really rewarding.”

Copstick and Tanyalee in London last night

“Are we talking children-children?” Copstick asked.

“4-7 year olds. Our programme was for a three-year pilot but we’ve already accomplished everything in two years. We’ve now done 4-11 year-olds and maybe 1,000 more kids than was intended. We are putting in another funding application with the Big Lottery Foundation. We want to expand. There are 400 schools in Norfolk and we are only doing 16.”

“Were you ever bullied?” Copstick asked.

“Absolutely. I still get bullied. Oh my God! It’s constant. The other night, some girl came up and just started pushing my (electric mobility) scooter. People yell at me in the streets: Fucking midget! Chase me. Stop dead in front of me going Ahahahaha! and laugh and point at me. And I’m like: What the fuck is your problem?”

“Is that,” I asked, “just in London?”

“In the UK.”

“Moreso than in Canada?” I asked.

“God yes. Nobody’s ever done that to me in Canada.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“I dunno. I think it is more the drink here. It’s just weird. But that’s why with me doing comedy and hopefully getting on more shows I really want to bring to light how fucking horrible people can be…”

“Yes,” Copstick agreed.

Tanyalee continued: “… and the fact I still get bullied. I’m an adult, a 46-year-old and I still get bullied. I tell the kids that and they’re shocked. I give them an example of when I was by the London Eye a couple of years ago – a tourist area, hundreds of people – I was looking up, wasn’t paying attention and I drove over the kerb and I tipped over and the scooter fell on top of me. There were hundreds of people and not one person stopped to ask me if I was OK. People are so stuck to themselves with blinders on, especially in big cities like London. Everybody’s on their phones: Oh! Ooh! That didn’t happen!

“Even what happened on Westminster Bridge last week (when a terrorist mowed-down pedestrians with a car), there are pictures of people walking past on their mobile phones and there is blood and a person lying on the ground.”

“Nobody ever looks at anybody,” said Copstick.

Kate Copstick and Tanyalee Davis – surely a future double act?

“It’s a Big City mentality,” said Tanyalee. “It’s in Vancouver and Los Angeles and New York and here. We have just gotta get to where we’re going. Get the fuck out of my way! But, I mean, if you see a fucking ginger dwarf lying on the ground with a scooter on top of her, you would surely think: That’s odd!”

Copstick said: “There is probably some kind of police code: Dwarf down!

“Like Black Hawk Down!“ agreed Tanyalee. “Yeah.”

“Maybe,” I suggested, “it is because you are ginger.”

“Yeah,” said Tanyalee. “Maybe that’s the problem. There was this kid (in Norfolk). He was 14 but super-tall for his age and his headmaster told me the boy had had to move school four times because he had been bullied because he had ginger hair. In Australia, they don’t call them ginger; they call them ‘rangas’.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Orangutans,” said Tanyalee.

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Homosexuality and how Cilla Black almost did not present “Blind Date”

this week’s increasingly prestigious podcast

This week’s increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club Podcast…

This week’s Grouchy Club Podcast mainly involves some recommendations of shows to see at next month’s Edinburgh Fringe. But it also includes Kate Copstick talking about Irish entertainer Patrick Kielty, why Copstick – the doyenne of Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviewers – does not like preview shows… and this little exchange:

Can you imagine what it would be like to be married to Lewis Schaffer?


I don’t know why you keep bringing up Lewis Schaffer in these podcasts.


For those who are listening, my jaw has just hit my knees – because I’m very flat-chested and there was nothing to stop it on the way down.

Hey. Hey.

Right. So.

Why has your jaw hit your knees?

You’re the one who’s obsessed with a comedian who will now be nameless.

Who’s that?

A comedian who will now be nameless. You’ll have to re-wind this podcast and find out.

That would be the man with no voice, surely, who would be nameless. Or is that tasteless?

I didn’t know Lost Voice Guy… He…

… is worth seeing.

…It was a birth thing, wasn’t it.

Yup. Yeah.

He says he keeps getting asked. Well, he doesn’t say – he communicates – He keeps getting asked if he can actually speak.

John (laughing)
What? They think it’s a…  a… That would be a somewhat bizarre angle…

I know! It’s slightly… If you’re going to go for the sympathy vote, that would be quite an odd one to go for… Very few people know that Tanyalee Davis is actually 6ft 1in. She just squashes herself into a corset and flat shoes for every show.

It’s all done with mirrors, is it?


I was shocked when… If lawyers are listening, I don’t want anything to do with this, but I was very shocked when I was told Duncan Norvelle was heterosexual – Ooh! Chase me! Chase me! – That’s a very strange… Well, he lost Blind Date because of that, if it is an act. I think he did two pilots for Blind Date and the IBA decided they didn’t want a gay guy presenting a dating show.

What the fuck?

I have no explanation for this. Apparently that’s the case. And therefore they had good old Auntie Cilla (Black) do it instead. But he was the first choice before Cilla.

Oh my God!

I would have thought a gay guy was ideal for a heterosexual dating show.


Because he’s totally safe.

Oh absolutely.

That’s the truth as I know it.

The full 39-minute Grouchy Club Podcast can be listened-to at Podomatic and downloaded from iTunes.

The Grouchy Club with Kate Copstick and John Fleming will be live daily at the Edinburgh Fringe 14th-29th August.

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Comedy critic Kate Copstick was in a hospital with rats, thieves and Lupus

Kate Copstick at the Mama Biashara shop this weekend

Kate Copstick at Mama Biashara this weekend

Yesterday’s blog told how Britain’s most feared comedy critic Kate Copstick ended up a few weeks ago – with no travel insurance to cover her – at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, having a full hip replacement operation.

I had almost expected to be in a full body cast when I woke up after the operation,” she told me at her Mama Biashara shop in London two days ago.

“You know those movies about injured airmen, where they have to communicate with people through a sophisticated system of mirrors above their head?… But, when I woke up, it was all normal apart from this massive lump between my legs.

“I thought: They’ve given me the wrong surgery! I’m a man! Now I’m a man! – I seemed to have the world’s largest sticking plaster from waist to knee with padding in the middle.

“I asked What is this? and the doctor explained It’s to keep the pelvis aligned, because it’s very important for you to keep your legs apart.

Luckily enough, I said, I’ve never had a problem with that. But that was where the loveliness ended. The hospital itself were… Can I say ‘cunts’ in your blog?”

“Well, it’s a term of endearment in Glasgow,” I told her.

“OK,” said Copstick. “They were cunts. I had to fight the large and quite scary nursing staff for my own medication, because I HAVE to take my lupus medication.

Ah! The doctor has stopped it! they told me… The doctor can’t stop it,” I told them… They just didn’t have a clue.”

“Remind me about your lupus,” I said.

Wikipedia’s illustration of lupus

Wikipedia’s illustration of some effects of lupus

“Lupus,” explained Copstick, “is an auto-immune disease where my immune system is as mental and vicious as the rest of me. Instead of staying where it is supposed to be and attacking only when there is an infection to fight, it regards my own body as an infection… I know there are many comedians who would agree with that.

“But it looks on my body and my organs as infections so, at any given moment, it might go into battle against… well, for example, my lungs are a bit fucked because it attacks my lungs. So you get pleurisy and stuff like that. One time, my kidneys packed up and the doctors couldn’t figure why and it was just my own immune system attacking them. You get incredible fatigue with it. And pain and what can I say? I’m a brave and wonderful human being. I am like a non-blind, non-deaf Helen Keller.”

“How long have you had it?” I asked.

“I was diagnosed about eight or ten years ago.”

“And when does it cure itself?” I asked.

“It doesn’t. Either it stays the way it is or it gets worse and you die… But you’ve gotta die of something.”

“You’re a comedy critic,” I said. “You could die of shame.”

“I was hoping more like exhaustion from alcoholic poisoning,” said Copstick. “I could go out in a blaze of ghastliness as the climax to one of Bob Slayer’s shows.”

“Anyway,” I said, “you are lying in this bed in Nairobi and you have told them they cannot stop your lupus medication…”

A walking frame, not much liked by Copstick

A walking frame… not Instagrammed

“Some of my medication was stolen,” said Copstick, “and there was a large rat running alongside my bed. The day after the operation, I was hobbling around on crutches but the nadir, I think – apart from lying in an agonised crumpled heap in the dirt when I shattered my thigh bone – the nadir was when they wheeled me down to physiotherapy. They took me to a set of parallel bars and nobody said anything.

“I hiked myself up out of the wheelchair because I’d seen it in movies – you know, Reach For The Sky about Douglas Bader… I channelled my inner Kenneth More and pulled myself along the parallel bars twice and there was a man standing there with a Zimmer (walking frame). He didn’t say anything. He just nodded. So then I had to do laps of this little gym on a Zimmer. I just hoped there was no closed-circuit TV and that I would not end up on Instagram.

“The second day I was on crutches.

“The third day they showed me the bill.

“The fourth day I discharged myself.”

“Because of the bill?” I asked.

“Too fucking right!” said Copstick. “It was £6,500 with things like 90p for 9 millilitres of water for an injection and £1.50p for a face flannel which I didn’t get.”

“Just like British private medicine,” I suggested.

“I don’t know,” said Copstick. “I’ve never gone private. I’ve never regarded myself as rich enough.”

“But even when you got out of hospital,” I said, “you couldn’t come home.”

“They said I couldn’t travel for six weeks and I said I’m terribly sorry, but… Luckily I have friends Alan Wickham and Lynita Harris who have a wonderful eco-camp with safari tents and they gave me the spare room on the ground floor of their home, so I was there for three weeks. I only went back to see the doctor once because you get charged £30 for him to say Hello, you’re looking well.

“I told him I have to get home to try and get some work – anything.


Copstick at the Mama Biashara shop in 2012

“I was on a plane four weeks to the day from the operation. I was supposed to come back on 14th March and ended up arriving back on 4th April.”

“When you were still in Kenya,” I reminded her, “you told me you were even having trouble getting a plane.”

“Well,” said Copstick, “British Airways wanted a huge amount of paperwork because they didn’t want me to die on a flight because it’s terribly bad publicity. The thing that leaves me really angry and frustrated, though, is that it was all entirely my own fault.”

“It was an Act of God,” I suggested.

“No. My own unbelievably stupid fault,” said Copstick. “It would have been better if I had been hideously mugged in the street because then I’d be a victim and Oh dear. But this was all my own fault. All my savings went. All my carefully-calculated Well, this amount will last me this length of time. And I’ve never been in this position before. Never in my life, because I’ve always saved and always worked for money until Mama Biashara.”

The Mama Biashara shop in London last week

Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in London last week

Copstick works unpaid for her Mama Biashara charity and covers none of her expenses. She now lives in Kenya for about five months each year and works unpaid in the Mama Biashara shop in London for most of the rest of the year, excluding August when, she says, she is “up at the Edinburgh Fringe treading un-softly on comics’ dreams and, obviously, being part of the increasingly-prestigious and highly-coveted Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards and your less-coveted but hopefully increasingly-prestigious chat show.”

“Well,” I said, “that’s not happening this year because I haven’t got a venue.”

“No?” said Copstick.

“No,” I said. “And the Fringe listing is too expensive for a free show. Pay attention. How much longer are you going to be like this?”

“Well,” said Copstick, “I can walk with crutches and I can walk for very very short distances without crutches. I was here in the shop at 8 o’clock this morning shifting furniture and lifting soapstone and all kinds of things I definitely should not be doing. So it gets sore when I do that.”

“Have you got a Zimmer frame?” I asked.

“John,” said Copstick, “look into my beady blue eyes and tell me you think in any universe I would not rather die than be seen on a Zimmer. I feel quite old enough with the hip replacement without getting a Zimmer. The wheelchair is fine, because I can do my Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? impressions. I’m very good as Joan Crawford. The crutches are reasonable for the sympathy vote. But a Zimmer is a walking aid too far.”

“Have you got a ground floor flat at the Edinburgh Fringe this year?” I asked.

“No. But stairs are OK. It’s hills that are a bit of a bugger.”

“You are going to have difficulty going up and down the hills in Edinburgh on crutches,” I said. “Will you be totally mended by August?”

“I had fucking better be,” said Copstick, “otherwise I shall strap myself to a skateboard.”

“The wonderful Tanyalee Davis gave you a lift on her mobility scooter last year,” I reminded her.

Copstick had an orgasm on the cobbles yesterday

Tanyalee Davis gave Copstick a thrilling ride on her mobility scooter at the Edinburgh Fringe last year

“Oh! Tanyalee!” said Copstick with enthusiasm. “I’d love a mobility scooter! Though I suppose I can’t be both the scariest critic in Edinburgh AND a figure of public ridicule as I bump and hum over the cobbles. It’s just not going to happen. I have to be OK by August. You cannot be scary with a walking aid.”

“How about a broomstick?” I suggested.

“Fantastic,” said Copstick. “Or one of those knobbly, gnarly walking sticks. It would look like I might be able to strike you dead with it. Painted black, of course… Or it could be a job opportunity for some young, strong, virile stand-up comedian who feels like earning an extra star on their review to carry me around Edinburgh on their back.”

“An extra star AND a good photo-opportunity,” I said. “Young, virile comics will be lining up to service you.”

“I can but hope,” said Copstick.”


Filed under Comedy, Kenya, Medical

At the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday: nudity, farting and a hysterectomy

Today, my new temporary Edinburgh flatmate inventor mad John Ward arrives. He invents arguably useless or useful things like the bra warmer and the personal snow-making back pack. He also designed the physical trophies which are the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards.

Yesterday, Mr Methane’s window show entertained not just audiences but passers-by

Yesterday, Mr Methane’s Edinburgh show in the window of Bob’s Bookshop entertained not just audiences but passers-by

My previous temporary Edinburgh flatmate Mr Methane left yesterday, although he is returning on Friday specifically to perform at the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

I will miss Mr Methane’s daily interesting facts which included not just surprising tales of touring with the semi-punk band the Macc Lads but also the fact that John Paul Jones – not the Led Zeppelin rock star but the 18th century US hero – led the only US attack on mainland Britain, by attacking Whitehaven in Cumbria and St Mary’s Isle near Kirkcudbright, Scotland, in 1778.

Mr Methane is very well-read for a man who farts professionally.

There is a distinctly literary lifestyle in my flat at the moment.

Comedy entrepreneur Neale Welch has a Fringe Odyssey

Comedy entrepreneur Neale Welch had a big Fringe Odyssey

Also staying here is Neale Welch from London’s Comedy Cafe Theatre. His audio company Just The Greatest has put up some money to cover part of the costs of the Malcolm Hardee Awards (though not any of my personal expenses lest I appear to be benefitting personally). For this, he gets to sleep on a sofa that is shorter than he is. No-one said life is fair.

I came back unexpectedly yesterday afternoon to find him reading Homer’s Odyssey.

He told me he had discovered Edinburgh is a great place for second-hand bookshops and that he had walked into one shop and asked if they had a copy of The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.

The owner of the shop had replied:

“Would you want a copy of that book in Greek, Latin or English?”

And, sure enough, the shop did, indeed, have copies of The History of the Peloponnesian War in all three languages.

“Which one did you buy?” I asked Neale.

“The English language one,” he told me.

Frankly, I was saddened and rather disappointed in him.

Shortly afterwards, I bumped into Nick Awde at the Pleasance Dome, who started talking about Adrienne Truscott and her much-discussed show Adrienne Truscott’s Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! which she performs naked from the waist down.

This coming Friday, Adrienne is a guest on my Fringe show Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrghhh! So It Goes – John Fleming’s Comedy Blog Chat Show. She will be discussing the joys and pitfalls of performing nude on stage with Martin Soan of The Greatest Show On Legs, who created the Naked Balloon Dance.

Nick Awde heads the Fringe review team for The Stage newspaper.

Adrienne Truscott and her one-woman bottomless show

Adrienne Truscott’s show split then united opinion

“Adrienne’s show split arty people and comedy people,” Nick mused yesterday, “At the very beginning of the Fringe, the comedy people were pushing her show away saying No, that’s performance art… and the performance art people were saying No, it’s comedy. Now they both claim it as their own.”

And now it is impossible to get tickets for Adrienne’s show.

In theory, you can turn up and entry is free; you pay to get out. But all the £5 pay-in-advance-to-guarantee-a-seat tickets have been bought and there is no space left. So an extra show has been added – tomorrow night at 11.00pm.

She has also been nominated for a Total Theatre Award.

Total Theatre “celebrates and supports a wide spectrum of contemporary theatre and performance” but I suspect Adrienne may get nominated for some pure comedy awards too.

While I was chatting with Nick Awde, he told me he always reads my blogs from the bottom upwards because, he claims, I usually get to any ‘meaty bits’ at the end. So this next bit  is hidden in the middle to confuse him.

I had a chat with Canadian comic Tanyalee Davis, who performed her first Edinburgh Fringe show in 2003 and who was last heard of in this blog transporting critic Kate Copstick to her trial. Tanyalee is currently appearing on the Channel 4 hidden-camera TV series I’m Spazticus.

“I come over to the UK on alternate months,” she told me.

“I always come over in December and this last December I had a 7-week tour booked but, after a couple of days, I developed a blood clot in my groin and then it all just went tits-up from there.

“It started when I got back with a guy I was dating 18 years ago. We only dated for 2 years, then I was married to somebody else for 13. So we were back together again. I went back on birth control because I was in a new relationship, I got a blood clot and then that caused all these problems. But him and I are together still, thank goodness, ten months on.

“The blood clot led to three months of having eight blood transfusions and ended up with me losing my box – my cooch, my meat locker – I got about 16 different ways of saying fanny.

“I was in four different countries for the whole medical shebang. It started in the UK. I flew to America, then Canada, then I got cleared to fly on a family holiday in Mexico and then I started hemorrhaging. I got there Friday, I started bleeding Saturday, I was hemorrhaging Sunday, then I ended up having a hysterectomy the next week because they were like We don’t know  what to do with you… Too many blood transfusions and, because I had the blood clot, they couldn’t do surgery because I could have died on the operating table.

Tanyalee turned tragedy into Fringe comedy

Tanyalee turned tragedy into Fringe comedy

“So now it’s a comedy show and the interesting thing is trying to find the humour in… I mean, I nearly died… I had 8 blood transfusions and nearly died on a couple of occasions and making that funny is…”

“I always tell comedians,” I said to Tanyalee, “that, if anything goes wrong in your life, it’s not a tragedy, it’s the script for your next Edinburgh Fringe show. It’s God giving you a 60-minute show.”

“Yeah, I lost my box,” said Tanyalee, “but I gained a show. I’ve been wanting to do a new show for a couple of years – I haven’t done a solo show since 2007 – but I didn’t want to do straight stand-up. So, when this whole shit went down, I thought Boom! Now I got a show! – It’s Big Trouble in Little ‘Gina.”

“Are you as ambitious since you nearly died?” I asked. “Or has that changed your perspective? I remember sitting watching my father die and thinking: Nothing really matters. Only love and friendship.

“Well,” said Tanyalee. “I just gotta enjoy my time while I’m here, because you never know when it’s gonna get yanked away from you. I have such a fun life normally, so being held up in the hospital and not being able to be on stage for three months… That was the worst thing.”

“Really?” I asked. “Not getting the applause?”

“No,” said Tanyalee. “It’s because it’s such an endorphin release and it’s therapy being on stage. I’m a raging bitch when I haven’t been on stage for a while.”

The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and Edinburgh – my favourite city in the world – has been called the Athens of the North. But it is also a tough wee town on the quiet.

As well as Fringe people getting beaten up in the street – I refer you to previous blogs both this year and last – it is the home of Trainspotting and (being Scotland) heavy drinking. I can say that as a shamefully teetotal Scots.

Last night, at around 1.30am in the morning, on my way to Arthur Smith’s legendary annual tour of the Royal Mile, I bumped into comedian Eric cycling home.

“A mother and daughter just fell down in the street in front of me,” he said. “just fell down.”

Arthur Smith’s tour of the Royal Mile was as bizarre as normal. NOTE: Arthur is on my first Fringe chat show tomorrow afternoon.

Arthur Smith, alien, in the Royal Mile last night

Arthur Smith, alien, spouted poetry in the Royal Mile late last night

The tour involved occasional mass wailing by the group of about 30 people trailing down the Royal Mile with him. We were instructed by Arthur to do this in the fashion of North Koreans being told their leader had died.

There was also a shouted conversation with some people in the top storey flat of one of the buildings in the Royal Mile who played a Leonard Cohen song and threw plastic milk bottles out of their window… a £10 challenge for any man or woman to take their top off and sing the Proclaimers’ song 500 Miles… a demonstration of strange rickshaw driving… and a Lithuanian couple who were persuaded to sing in Lithuanian on the steps of St Giles Cathedral. It ended with Arthur disrobing and turning into a sparkly-costumed alien.

Among the crowd were comics Carey Marx, Phil Nichol and, recovering from a street attack in Leith, Scotsman journalist Clare Smith.

Bob Slayer (right) in his sponsored underpants

Bob Slayer’s (right) face-off in his underpants

Afterwards, I walked to Bob’s Bookshop to see if Bob Slayer’s Midnight Mayhem was still in full swing. When I opened the door, I was confronted by a fully-dressed man standing face-to-face with Bob who was in his underpants. This is unusual. To see Bob wearing clothes.

Alas, I arrived a few minutes before 3.00am and, as soon as I arrived, Bob told the audience to shout “tonight’s catchphrase” at me and the show stopped. I have no idea what they shouted, but they seemed to be laughing as they shouted it. I would like to think the show stopped because my arrival climaxed the show. In fact, it was due to licensing laws.

I then walked home.

About two minutes later, on the other side of the road, three girls were walking along singing. One fell over.

As I got to my flat, on the opposite pavement, a man still holding a mobile phone to his ear was picking himself up off the ground.

That’s Edinburgh.

Comedy, performance art, tragedy and people so pissed or drugged out of their heads that they fall over in the street.

Sometimes these categories overlap.

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