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Comic Becky Fury wants to ‘go out with’ another comedian – against my advice

Becky Fury laughing

More Red Army Faction than Royal Air Force

“Fury is your real name?” I asked stand-up comic Becky Fury.

“Yes.”

“Middle name?”

“Anne.”

“So Rebecca Anne Fury? RAF. Like the Royal Air Force.”

“No,” she said. “Like the Red Army Faction.”

In August, Becky Fury won this year’s increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. She had posted her Edinburgh Fringe show flyer on the dating site Tinder as a commendably lateral thinking way of increasing her audience numbers. She also printed on her flyer that she was a nominee for the ‘Last Minute Comedy Award’.

The used-to-be Perrier Awards were sponsored this year by lastminute.com. So this claim was impressive and, on the night I saw her show, four Canadians had been lured in on the basis she was, they told me, “up for the big Edinburgh comedy award”. But Becky had, in fact, been nominated a while ago in a contest run by the small club based in Hitchin called Last Minute Comedy – totally unconnected to last minute.com. It was an admirably truthful yet misleading cunning stunt.

Becky with her Cunning Stunt Award

Becky with her increasingly prestigious Cunning Stunt Award

“So,” I said to her, “as a result of winning an increasingly Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award, you must now be inundated with phone calls from Los Angeles and Las Vegas?”

She laughed.

“When I started doing comedy,” she told me, “I met Tony Allen. And him and Malcolm Hardee never got on at all.”

“Because,” I asked, “they had different versions of how the phrase ‘alternative comedy’ was first coined?”

“Yes. So, since I got the Malcolm Hardee Award, Tony Allen ’s not speaking to me.”

“Why?” I asked. “It’s not your fault you got it.”

“I think he thinks I should have turned it down and maintained my… I think he’s feeling a bit unjustly forgotten.”

“Well, that’s true enough,” I said. “He may or may not have invented the phrase ‘alternative comedy’, but he was important in inventing the concept.”

“He was,” agreed Becky, “and I think Malcolm Hardee deserves credit for being an amazing, anarchic comedy promoter but also Tony didn’t really like Malcolm Hardee because he thinks that Malcolm sold out.”

Becky Fury - tousled hair

“Idea was it should be a revolutionary force for social change”

“How did he sell out?”

“By not being completely pure and truthful to what Tony thought alternative comedy should be.”

“Which was?”

“That it should be political. His idea was it should be a revolutionary force for social change.”

“Whereas,” I agreed, “Malcolm thought it should be a load of bollocks – literally.”

“Yes,” laughed Becky. “Anarchic fun.”

“Where did you meet Tony Allen?” I asked.

“At an anarchist book fair and I went to one of his workshops at the beginning of my stand-up comedy career. He mentored me. He sort-of took me on as his sort-of daughter for quite a few years.”

“And didn’t take advantage?” I asked.

“No. He looked after me because I was not in a very good way. He was my surrogate dad figure and he played that role wonderfully. He was really good.”

“And eventually…?”

“Relationships and friendships,” said Becky, “run a course. I’m moving my boat up to near where he lives in Ladbroke Grove, so we will probably see more of each other again.”

“You live on a boat?”

beckyfury_meditates

Wanting a genuinely interesting alternative life

“It’s the freedom and, if you’re going to create interesting art, your art is your life, so it’s difficult to create genuinely interesting alternative work if you don’t live a genuinely interesting alternative life.”

“You want to be a free spirit,” I said.

“I want to be happy.”

“Are you?”

“I live on a boat and I work very little and I have a very nice life. I try not to hurt anybody or cause anyone any stress. People should be what they want to be. I am a free spirit. But why do I live on a boat? Because it’s cheaper. I used to live in a squat, but you can’t do that any more.”

“For how long?” I asked.

“Five years. It was very beautiful experience.”

“Just the one squat?”

“Lots of them. We had one in Shadwell that had a circus space in it. A trapeze. A yoga space. The council was going to give it to us, but we had to fill in loads of paperwork and we couldn’t be bothered. Now I think maybe it would have been worth the effort. The council actually offered us a £3 million property. I think it had been an old dairy. They owned it. They said: If you want to turn this into a housing co-op, fill in the correct paperwork and we’re open to the idea. Now it is a traffic wardens’ storage space.”

Becky Fury V-sign

She was a nice middle class girl who went to a private school.

“Living in a squat,” I said, “suggests an urge to rebel.”

“I went to a private school and could see my life was too narrow and wasn’t interesting enough. I thought I needed to expand my horizons and my life experiences and go a bit crazy in order to create more interesting art. You don’t create interesting art if you’re a nice middle class girl who goes to a private school.”

“You occasionally,” I said, “lapse into poems on stage.”

“I am a poet. I don’t want to be a poet. But I do more paid poetry gigs than paid comedy gigs at the moment. I would like to think my life was poetry, hence the fact I live on a boat. Is that really pretentious?”

“Potentially in print it might be,” I said. “All sorts of things people say change their tone when they’re printed.”

“You lose the intonation,” said Becky.

“Yes,” I said. “How long have you been doing comedy?”

“About five years, but I was quite depressed when I first started. I suppose it was maybe a way of not killing myself. I was just going round doing open mic gigs as a way of keeping myself sane.”

“Surely a wrong choice of career in that case,” I suggested.

“Yes,” laughed Becky, “I don’t think you can say that about comedy: that it’s a way of keeping yourself sane.”

Becky Fury’s eye

“I wasn’t happy and I was taking quite a lot of drugs”

“This was in your drug period?” I asked.

“Yes. I wasn’t very happy and I was taking quite a lot of drugs. So I was going around self-harming on the open mic circuit, doing lots of horrible gigs as an alternative to taking hard drugs and cutting myself.”

“Which you used to do?”

“No. All the cool kids cut themselves, but I’m quite lightweight when it comes to self-harm.”

“Just doing open mic gigs and going with unsuitable men?” I suggested.

“Yes. I need to find a comedian to go out with so I can re-sharpen my comic brain.”

“That’s a terrible idea,” I advised her. “Never go out with a comedian. They’re all mad.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Becky replied. “I don’t care how mad they are. It’s about my career development.”

“But you will also be competing against each other.”

“That’s fine. I will win.”

“Have you been out with a comic before?”

Becky Fury - Cyclops photo

“He said it was not a good idea because he was too mental”

“Yes. Years ago. A long time ago.”

“How many comics?”

“Two. I was very young.”

“You told me earlier that, when you were about 19, you met (COMEDIAN 1) and he helped you.”

“He was a lovely man. He was about 40. He said I was too young for him to go out with. He said it was not a good idea because he was too mental.”

“Well,” I agreed, “he’s spot-on there.”

“He said: You don’t want to waste the best years of your life dealing with me.”

“That’s surprisingly sensible of him,” I told her.

“Exactly,” said Becky. “Isn’t that nice? So he just carried on being a lunatic and left me to get on with my own shit.”

“How did he help you?” I asked.

“By not going out with me.”

“Did he help you professionally?”

“No. Except maybe by not going out with me.”

“This is before you went to university,” I said. “You did drama at university, so you must have wanted to be an actress?”

“No. I’ve always been into comedy. When I first went to comedy clubs, I used to do a bit of chatting up the performers”.

“Only chatting up?”

“And sleeping with them occasionally. I was young.”

“And the attraction was?”

Becky Fury - staring

“I found out they were all completely mental”

“Women always sleep with comedians, don’t they? That’s one of the reasons why guys like doing comedy. Because it gets the girls. And it got me when I was young and impressionable and when I thought that, offstage, they were like they were onstage.”

“But then…” I prompted.

“Then I found out they were all completely mental.”

“How long did it take you to realise that?”

“Pretty quickly.”

“But, after that, you chose (COMEDIAN 1) despite the fact you knew they were all mental.”

“Well, I never really went out with him. I had a thing with him. And I had a thing with (COMEDIAN 2) and then I didn’t go out with any more comedians for ages. I decided I should probably go out with sensible people my own age instead. Well, I went with junkies. I wanted people more sensible and mentally stable than comedians, so I started going out with junkies.”

“A wise observation,” I laughed.

“But now,” Becky continued, “I do need to go out with a comedian again. I need to sharpen up my comedic abilities. That’s why I contacted you: so I can get hold of a comedian to shag. Basically, this is a personal ad.”

“How can they get in touch with you?” I asked.

“They can probably find my Edinburgh Fringe flyer on Tinder,” said Becky.

Becky Fury - 2016 Flyer top

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Delicious and dateless Nicole Harvey on taking a sex doll and whip to Brighton

Smiling Nicole Harvey with Gorgeous Gavin as yet un-inflated

Smiling Nicole Harvey + the Gorgeous Gavin

I met actress/writer/voice-over performer Nicole Harvey in the Soho Theatre Bar yesterday afternoon. She had a broad smile on her face and had just been to a sex shop in Goodge Street to buy an inflatable man.

“He’s called Gorgeous Gavin,” she told me.

Nicole’s show Delicious & Dateless is at the Brighton Fringe this weekend and next weekend.

“You did the same show at the Edinburgh Fringe last August,” I said. “At what point since then did you think: The one thing missing from this show is an inflatable doll with an inflatable penis?”

“I‘ve completely re-written the show,” Nicole told me. “In Edinburgh, the show was very much in development. It now has a very different beginning.”

“Gorgeous Gavin appears at the beginning of the show?” I asked. “How are you going to climax at the end?”

Nicole’s show, revised for Brighton Fringe

Nicole’s show, revised for Brighton Fringe

“Well, there are boots and whips that appear later,” she said.

“And you bought Gorgeous Gavin at a shop in Goodge Street?” I asked.

“There was also a Justin Bieber doll called Just-In Beaver,” said Nicole.

“Why did you go to that shop in particular?” I asked.

“Because I had to take back the female doll I had bought – Lollipop Lolita.“

“Why did you have to take back Lollipop Lolita?”

“Because I don’t want to fuck her mouth and that’s what she is designed for.”

“Didn’t this strike you at the point you originally bought her?”

“I had just wanted her legs for my show. But her boobs were so huge she wasn’t going to work as a comedy prop – there was no way I could scrunge the boobs down. So I decided to buy Gorgeous Gavin instead.”

“Do you have a discount at this shop for bulk buying?” I asked.

The show as it was at the Edinburgh Fringe last year

Since Edinburgh last year, Nicole has had “a real eye-opener”

Nicole ignored the question and said: “Since doing my show in Edinburgh last year, I have had a complete eye-opener and, in one part of my new show, I am commenting on this cultural shift that we’re in.”

“Cultural shift?” I asked.

“The reason I don’t have a love life,” explained Nicole, “is because I refuse to get on Tinder. That is what everyone is doing. But it’s purely pictures. It is about as superficial as it can get.

“Everyone is glued to their phone. I’ve seen pictures of guys’ hard-ons on Twitter that even 12-year-olds can see – and messages saying: Hi, I need someone to suck me off at lunchtime; I don’t mind if it’s male or female. Message me. It seems that, in this reality today, no-one will actually talk to you. Certainly no-one chats you up.”

“Which reality?” I asked.

“Actual reality,” said Nicole, “as opposed to virtual reality.”

“No-one chats you up?” I asked.

“No. Not in the real world. But they’re quite happy to be totally up-front asking for sex online with someone they’ve never met. so the world’s gone mad.”

“Well,” I said, “the whole Sex Positive thing does seem to be just an excuse for random sex with strangers.”

An irrelevant film poster for Fifty Shades of Grey

Was the film a sexual game-changer?

“With Fifty Shades of Grey,” said Nicole, “not only am I not up-to-date with fashion because I won’t go on Tinder, but I now need to be up for a spanking with a stranger – or get good at whipping – just to keep up with the trend.”

“What sort of man are you after?” I asked.

“Someone kind. Someone funny. Someone who’s emotionally mature, with not too much baggage, who’s got his shit together.”

“Well, that rules out most comedians off-stage,” I said. “Did you get any reaction from your show in Edinburgh? Your posters were really saying; I want a date!

“My audience was mainly women wanting to tell me their Tinder horror stories.”

“Tell me more about the man in the sex shop.”

“I said to him: Whatever’s kinky is not taboo. But what is taboo is loneliness.”

“Explain?” I said.

We are not really shocked by kinkiness any more. We’ve seen god knows how many politicians with sex scandals and 50 Shades of Grey became a mainstream movie. Anything that was kinky doesn’t really seem to be taboo any more. but to need a doll because you’re lonely… Yes, there is online dating and Tinder and it’s oh-so-easy to meet up, but what we don’t have easily any more is intimacy.”

Nicole Harvey - looking for emotional intimacy

Nicole Harvey – waiting for her right cup of tea

“What type of intimacy?” I asked.

“Emotional.”

“You should get together with the man in the shop,” I suggested.

“I think he makes sex videos and wears a pig’s face.”

“Generally?” I asked.

“He used to be a singer and has a book coming out.”

“I feel a blog coming on. You’ll have to take me into the shop – Pimp a blogger. How do you know he wears a pig face?”

“There’s a back room.”

“Why were you in the back room?”

“Because I need a whip for the show as well.”

“Gorgeous Gavin, the inflatable man, was not enough for you?”

“No.”

“Did you buy a whip?”

“No. They were all a bit wonky.”

Nicole Harvey grew up with her horse

Crop expert Nicole Harvey aesthetically dislikes wonky whips

“Define a wonky whip,” I asked her. “It sounds to me like an ice cream.”

“It was the way the leather was platted. It wasn’t nice and straight.”

“So for you,” I said, “it’s not to do with sex or pain but the aesthetics?”

“Oh yeah. I’m probably just going to get a horsey one, a riding crop. I ride horses.”

“I was thinking more of Zorro,” I said.

“That’s more of a lion tamer’s whip.”

“You’re smirking again.”

“I am allowed to.”

“What else does the shop have?”

“There are dolls you can get that cost thousands and thousands of pounds because they’re made of silicon and have real hair. There was a TV documentary about it and a play I saw called Companion Piece.”

“So, you’ve researched it in depth?”

“I’ve just come across things.”

After a long, thoughtful pause, I asked: “I wonder how large the demand for sex dolls is.”

“I guess,” replied Nicole, “some men don’t want a woman to answer back. But, on the other hand, plastic dolls can’t cook.”

“Swings and roundabouts,” I said.

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Filed under Comedy, Sex, Theatre