Tag Archives: Tom Stade

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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Filed under Disability, discrimination, Humor, Humour, political correctness

Lewis Schaffer’s Giant Leap into acting (but has he always been acting anyway?)

the thames from Blackfriars station yesterday

The  River Thames, seen from Blackfriars station yesterday

With my co-host Kate Copstick un-Skypeable in Kenya, I persuaded comedian Lewis Schaffer to join me on The Grouchy Club Podcast this week. We met on Platform 2 at Blackfriars station, which straddles the River Thames in London.

I thought it would be quirky recording it in the middle of the Thames with the sound of trains and tannoy announcements in the background. This may or may not have been a good idea. It lasted 19 minutes. 

Lewis Schaffer talked about Lewis Schaffer, about the Edinburgh Fringe, about a new play project and about Lewis Schaffer. Here is a short extract:


Lewis Schaffer talked to me on Platform 2 at Blackfriars station

Lewis Schaffer talked to me amid the trains at Blackfriars

JOHN
So you’re doing a play at the Edinburgh Fringe.

LEWIS SCHAFFER
I am. How amazing is that? Well, I’m not doing a play. I’m rehearsing for a play.

They still have a chance to fire me. The last play I was in they fired me.

JOHN
What was the last play you were in?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Well, I say I was in The Odd Couple, but I was in another play. I’m trying to remember what play it was. You Can’t Take It With You? No. I can’t remember, but I had a musical – singing – role and they auditioned me for a regular speaking part and then, when I met the guy who was doing the music, he fired me. I remember that walk home at night from Great Neck North Senior High School back to my house – in Great Neck, when I was living in Great Neck – and I was crying.

JOHN
Aaaah. Bless. Why do you say you were in The Odd Couple?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Because I… I… I think that was the last one that I did. I’m not sure. I was only seventeen years old and I haven’t done a play since.

JOHN
Which part did you play? Because all the men in The Odd Couple are actually quite old, aren’t they?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
We were high school people. Of course you gotta play… You can’t just play young people.

JOHN
It was a school play?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
It was a school play. It wasn’t like a regular play. It was a high school play. I was Roy. If you’re a nerd out there and you know plays…

JOHN
So basically the school you were in decided to have a play called The Odd Couple about a homosexual relationship in America?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
At the time, I don’t think people knew that it was about a gay relationship. Maybe it’s not even about people being gay in The Odd Couple. It could be, now, looking back on it. Maybe that’s why I’m divorced: because I was in that play. Maybe it traumatised me for life about marriage.

JOHN
You call this life?… So now you’re doing another play. What’s this play that’s going to be at the Fringe?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Giant Leap. It’s a new play by guys named Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, directed by Alexander Lass – young kids.

JOHN
Who is Alexander Lass?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
I dunno who he is. He calls me up and says I have a part for you and I accepted it.

JOHN
This is Phil Nichol’s company doing this, isn’t it?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
I think it is.

JOHN
Basically, you’re in a play by people you don’t know and you’ve no idea who’s producing it.

LEWIS SCHAFFER
I didn’t even know what the play was when I said Yes. I just said Yes. I’m gonna do it. I don’t wanna do it, but I’m gonna do it. If they’re crazy enough to hire me, I’m gonna do it.

JOHN
And they’re paying you to do it…

LEWIS SCHAFFER
They are actually paying me to do it. They’re paying my way up there and they are…

JOHN
… paying your way back.

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Putting me up. They got a room, yeah.

JOHN
Putting you up what?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Putting me up in a room. They’re gonna hoist me by my own petard… I don’t even know what that means.

JOHN
No-one does. Like most English phrases, no-one knows what they actually mean, when you get down to it.

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Exactly. It just sounds so good. Just assume it’s a cricket phrase…

JOHN
It has to be French, surely – Petard

LEWIS SCHAFFER
If it’s not French or Shakespeare, it’s cricket.

JOHN
Or Oscar Wilde.

LEWIS SCHAFFER
If you laugh, it’s Oscar Wilde.

JOHN
So you’ve been doing rehearsals for this play in Crouch End or somewhere?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Yes. It’s with Tom Stade, who is…

JOHN
Canadian?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
Canadian. But I look at him and don’t really feel he’s Canadian.

JOHN
You think he’s better than that?

LEWIS SCHAFFER
I like him, so he’s better than Canadian. I don’t mind Canadians; I just feel sorry for them. They’re America Lite.


The full 19 minute audio version of this week’s Grouchy Club Podcast is on PODOMATIC and iTUNES.

The Grouchy Club is live at the Edinburgh Fringe 14th-29th August, unbilled in the official programme to keep out the riffraff. You can come.

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Filed under Acting, Comedy