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The Greatest Show on Legs return and Malcolm Hardee flashes to girls in pubs

Martin Soan without otters last night at Pull The Other One

If you are of a nervous verbal disposition, dear reader, progress no further in today’s blog, as it contains urinary details and uses a lot of Anglo Saxon language which may upset the delicate amongst us.

Last night, I went to Vivienne and Martin Soan’s always-extraordinary monthly Pull The Other One comedy club in Peckham, South London. The bill included (in alphabetical order) Holly Burn, Stephen Frost & Steve SteenCharmian Hughes, Darren Maskell and Arthur Smith plus juggler Mat Ricardo with (among other things) his still-jaw-dropping and unique pulling-the-tablecloth-ONTO-the-table-under-the-crockery routine. Oh – and Frost & Ireland and Martin Soan himself. Quite a night.

One of several great things about Martin is that you never know what he will appear as.

Last month, he appeared briefly as an armchair. This month, he had a group of performing otters.

Martin and Vivienne Soan also run a monthly Pull The Other One club at the Half Moon in Herne Hill where they are going to host a series of Edinburgh Fringe try-out shows – Monday to Saturday for one week – 9th-14th July. One show is likely to be Mark Kelly’s Stuart Leigh – The Stewart Lee Tribute Act, which I blogged about a few days ago.

Another will be a reunion of the Greatest Show On Legs. They were (and, for special occasions, occasionally still are) a merry troupe originated by Martin which used to include the late Malcolm Hardee and a variable line-up of other performers including Steve Bowditch, Martin Clarke (aka ’Sir Ralph’), Chris Lynam and even  Dave ‘Bagpipes’ Brooks. One, some or all of those may appear at Herne Hill, except Malcolm –  as death by drowning tends to preclude live performance.

“I thought we could do a bit of the old madness and a bit of the new madness,” Martin told me last night.

“So are you actually taking a Greatest Show on Legs show up to Edinburgh this year?” I innocently asked.

“Of course not,” Martin replied, “because none of us can afford it. But if someone paid us to go up there then we would go up there and do it. We have new ideas and there are the great old ideas.”

Mindful of what has happened in the streets and bars of Edinburgh with previous incarnations of the Greatest Show on Legs, I suggested: “Wouldn’t it be easier to get people to pay you not to go up?… Edinburgh Council, for example.”

“That’s a very good idea” Martin said.

“So what are you going to do at Herne Hill?”

“I’ll stage manage a bit of madness,” he replied.

“How do you stage manage Greatest Show on Legs routines?”

“Very very easy,” he said. “You just have to negotiate the egos involved. In the end, they enjoy it.”

“You were telling me the other night after Mark Kelly’s play,” I reminded him, “about people pissing in the wardrobe. What happened again?”

“At one Edinburgh Fringe,” Martin reminded me, “Malcolm and I shared this room and he came in really pissed in the middle of the night and I was barely awake and he opened the wardrobe door and pissed into the wardrobe… and that was supposed to be funny… Oh yeah… I had a big laugh about that… after I came back from the fucking laundrette.”

“Your clothes were in the wardrobe?”

“Of course they fucking were, John – it was a wardrobe!”

“And then?” I asked.

“And then a succession of young men came into my bedroom every night after that and pissed into my wardrobe.”

“And onto your clothes?”

“I never put anything into the wardrobe after the second night. There were three blokes who did it and they all thought it was hilarious. I thought it was fucking stupid. Why emulate someone who has done it already? But Malcolm thought it was hilarious. Ha ha ha. Of course he fucking did.”

“Was Malcolm’s friend Wizo one of the blokes?” I asked.

“Of course he was,” replied Malcolm. “Wizo was a great one for emulating Malcolm. The flashing bow-tie is the classic.”

“The flashing bow tie?” I asked.

“You don’t know the flashing bow tie?” Martin said incredulously.

“I don’t know the flashing bow tie,” I explained honestly.

“For fuck’s sake, John!” said Martin.

“I know nothing,” I told him.

“Fucking hell,” said Martin. “I must have told you this, surely?”

“I have a terrible memory,” I suggested.

“OK,” said Martin. “So this is in the early days. It’s a Saturday so we are obviously going on a pub crawl that night. In the afternoon, Malcolm goes down to a joke shop. This is a long time ago when things worked with batteries and bulbs that screw-in like torch bulbs – nowadays they’d have LEDs, but then it was batteries and screw-in bulbs.

“So Malcolm buys this bow tie which has two bulbs that screw into it, connected to a wire that goes under your shirt and down to a battery and a little switch in your pocket. You click the switch and the bow tie lights up. In those days, this was quite something.

“So we’re about to go into the Rosemary Branch pub in New Cross and Malcolm mumbles Look what I got today! then clicks the switch, the bow tie flashes and we all go Wow! Fuckin’ hell – that’s brilliant, Malcolm! Brilliant!

“So we go into the pub and he’s going round to all the girls who see him flashing the bow tie and go Ah! Hahahahahaha!!!! Wow! and Wizo is getting really really jealous and really wants the bow tie.

“We’re on this pub crawl so, every time we get in the parked car and go off – you could drink and drive in those days – Wizo’s saying Gimme the bow tie! Gimme the bow tie! and Malcolm’s saying At the next pub! At the next pub!

“We go round all the pubs, the Duke and blah blah blah and a succession of pubs and Malcolm’s going around being the centre of attention, everyone’s loving him, everyone’s laughing.

“We come to the last pub and Malcolm says Here you are, Wizo, you can have the bow tie. He puts the bow tie on Wizo and he turns round and winks to me because he has disconnected one of the terminals.

“Wizo clicks the button and can’t see under his chin and asks Is it alright? Is it alright? and we say, Yeah, Wizo, it’s fantastic!

“So Wizo goes into the last pub and goes around, stands in front of girls and goes Hah!, clicks the switch, opens his mouth wide and there’s no reaction and no-one’s laughing except me and Malcolm.

“You’ve never heard that story?”

“No,” I told Martin. “I’ve never heard it before.”

“It was fucking genius,” said Martin. “I fucking roared, roared, roared with laughter. Cruel but, God, so funny. It’s almost like an urban myth.”

“Maybe it will be now,” I told him.

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Filed under Comedy, Drink, Surreal, Theatre

British comedian Bob Slayer reports on how women pee in public in Australia

Yesterday I went to a primary school pantomime in the sports hall of a very well-run new school in Woodford, Essex. The work put into the thing was amazing, but the Disney-esque innocence of Beauty & The Beast as performed by Year Three of Churchfields School was slightly undercut by the smell of stale plimsolls.

Such is the glamorous life I lead.

While I was doing that, though, the So It Goes blog’s first ever Foreign Correspondent was donning his shades and Trilby hat and sending me what could and should be the first in a series of exclusive reports from Australia.

Esteemed Irish playwright Brendan Behan once described himself as not a writer with a drinking problem but a drinker with a writing problem.

Esteemed English comedy performer and entertainment entrepreneur Bob Slayer is, in the same way, not a comedian with a drinking problem…

He is in the land of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo to perform his show titled Bob Slayer Will Out-Drink Australia.

So here, for the first time…

SO IT GOES IN AUSTRALIA
from Bob Slayer

Long flights don’t normally phase me, however I now know why my flight was the cheapest. Royal Brunei Airways don’t serve booze and nor do any of the stop-off airports (although the in-flight map did helpfully tell me at all times what direction Mecca was).

24 hours of sobriety did something strange to me. I started to notice things… like how people with kids on planes look like they are psychotically about to kill them all the time until someone looks at their baby and then they transform into uber-proud parents. The fear that sobriety could turn me into an observational comedian was enough to keep me drinking.

Fortunately, I was able to max out my duty-free at Melbourne Airport. I enquired if the limit applied to how much you bought or how much you actually took through Customs because, if it was the latter, I planned to drink an extra bottle of Jägermeister there-and-then… Unfortunately, this seemed frowned upon.

Melbourne seems to have become very en-trend since I was last here. They have guerilla knitting on lamp posts and gourmet Taco vans that scenesters get very excited about and queue at for hours. 

I met a lady called Domani who took me to a busy park full of hipster Melbonites having Australia Day Bar-B-Qs. Later, she taught me the art of peeing in public without getting caught. 

The secret is all in the position. Instead of the traditional squat that gives away what a lady is doing and often leads to wet feet (as demonstrated by some English girls I met), it seems Melbourne ladies have learned to adopt an asymmetrical curtsey-type squat which can be perfectly disguised as a stretch or lunge. This technique does require that the exponent is wearing a summery dress. 

I am still learning how knickers are dealt with. 

I intend to investigate further and hopefully get photos.

I also had my first run-in with the Australian Police last night. I had been told that they can be somewhat heavy-handed over here and, as darkness fell in the park, a number of police cars appeared and drove through, herding everyone out. The revellers seemed to accept that the party was over. 

Unfortunately, the police did not seem interested in my questions as to why they needed to clear the park. Even when I told them that this information was for John Fleming’s So It Goes blog. 

They refused to give me a lift back to my flat and I declined their offer of a bed for the night. So, alas, I still have a lot to learn about Australian policing but I am sure there will be more updates in this area before my tour of duty is up. 

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Filed under Australia, Comedy, Drink

A weird cock tale for Valentine’s Day (beware explicit material)

A couple of days ago, an ex-girlfriend asked me:

“Have you ever tasted your own sperm?”

“Errr…” I replied. “… No.”

“Why not?” she asked.

“Errr… I”m not really interested.”

“That’s weird,” she said.

“Is it?”

“If I have a baby,” she persisted, “I would want to drink some of my own breast milk just to know what it tastes like.”

“It’s not quite the same,” I suggested.

“Yes it is,” she insisted. “Have you never wondered what it tastes like?”

“Breast milk, yes. My own sperm, no. Slightly salty, I think… I’ve read that somewhere. I’ve never asked anyone. It might seem indelicate. In Beyond The Valley of The Dolls, I think someone says something like Prepare to taste the black sperm of my vengeance!. I think it’s a threat.”

“You’ve expected women to put it in their mouth. Have you no interest in knowing what it tastes like?”

“That might have been a line in it, too,” I said.

“Be serious,” she said.

“Errr… No. I’ve got no interest at all in sucking cock. Nothing I can do about that. It’s not in the genes. I can’t do anything about it. I have no interest in eating my own shit either. People have fed me shit in the past – I’ve worked for the BBC. But I don’t want to eat real shit. Call me conservative.”

Eating your own shit is completely different,” she said. “It’s medically unhealthy.”

“Well, then,” I said, “drinking your own urine. That’s not unhealthy. People say it’s positively healthy. People do drink their own urine. It’s just not for me. Sarah Miles the actress does it. And some bloke called Desai who was the Prime Minister of India. I think Mahatma Gandhi may have drunk his own urine. But I’ve got no interest in drinking my own urine or my own sperm. Trust me on this one.”

“But you expect other people to do it,” she said.

“I’ve never pissed in anyone’s mouth in my life,” I said, “It’s not my thing. Some people get off on it, though. Maybe we should start bottling pee. There’s obviously a proven demand for it: actresses and politicians. And then there’s probably a big un-tapped market in some parts of Soho. There might be a big demand for sperm drinks in the gay community. I think I’ve read sperm is full of goodness. We could have discovered a gap in the market here. Bottled sperm and bottled pee. We could sell them both in health shops as a food supplement.”

She stopped and thought about this for a moment.

We are still in discussions.

In the current recession, Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants to encourage enterprise and small businesses as part of his Big Society. We think we may be able to get some government seed money. Or we might try to submit it as an idea on Dragons’ Den.

All we have to do is think of a catchy brand name… and iced lollies are not out of the question.

No shit.

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Filed under Comedy, Health, Sex