Sunday, 19 December 2010

Are there...visible otters?

I had been looking forward to seeing Stewart Lee for ages. Ever since I saw him do an Edinburgh preview at Fat Tuesday back in July I was convinced that he is the best comedian on the circuit today. For those not in the know, Stew first came to prominence as one half of Lee and Herring who in the late '90s created both "Fist Of Fun" and "This Morning With Richard Not Judy". He seemed to disappear for a while before returning to national fame as the co-writer of "Jerry Springer The Opera" and will soon be recording the second series of "Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle".

I couldn't find anyone to go with me, however this was actually fortuitous. When I got around to booking tickets there were only single seats left which meant I could get one in the third row. I've been to the Leicester Square Theatre on a number of occasions, mainly for Richard Herring's AIOTM (aiotm!) as well as Herring's Hitler Moustache and The Collings and Herrin podcast live, so it was nice to see someone else here for a change, even if it was his ex comedy partner.

Lee arrived at 7.30 prompt and before he got on stage began berating the audience for being late, ordering them to sit down. He was using this current "Vegetable Stew" show to try out sets for his upcoming Comedy Vehicle series and was going to do 3 x 25 minute sets tonight.He is well known for giving his audience a hard time and making them work and tonight was no exception. He started slow. Very slow indeed. He pointed out that he knew that as it was Christmas that there would be some office parties in, probably booked by "Alan", an enthusiastic fan of his, while "Geoff" the boss and everyone else looked on bemused. He told the audience off for laughing at a joke he did about a single mother. "Do you think that was funny? I don't. I hate it. I've been told I could sell that joke to Tramadol Nights."

The first set was about moving to the countryside, and how awful the countryside is; the constant repetition of the words both frustrating and hypnotising the crowd. Most of this set was taken up with an imaginary phone call to an imaginary estate agent - hence the blog title: his friend who moved to the countryside had bragged about being able to see otters from the window - which turned into a conversation about how well or badly the gig was going, and that perhaps only a third of the people were enjoying it.The imaginary estate agent told Stew that he should have bailed out of the routine after the phrase "visible otters". This entire monologue went on for perhaps 15 minutes, with his back to the audience with the occasional sly look to see if more people were laughing.

The second set was about charity. Or, as Stew told us, it was to be about Adrian Chiles, but the BBC said this would have constituted a sustained attack, so he had to change the title. However this was still a sustained attack on Chiles before he moved on to Russell Howard, however without malice and extremely funny. This also focused on the amount of benefit gigs he does himself, which started as an estimate of 30-40 a year but by the end of the routine had slowly climbed to 80. This set was much more upbeat and climaxed with one of his trademark off stage off mic rants, shouting at someone moving about on the other side of the theatre when it was clear that if they "had ever seen anything ever" that this set was reaching a climax. Although Stew often claims that some sections of the room are quicker to react than others and tries to get the others up to speed I could see that tonight  it was certainly true. The guy sitting beside me looked terribly confused, disappointed, and possibly upset. I don't think he had been prepared by his friend who seemed to be having a whale of a time.

In the second half I decided to lean nonchalantly by the bar. I was being slightly annoyed by the grumpy guy beside me, and found myself standing beside the world's biggest Stewart Lee fan. Oh he was laughing alright. Laughing so hard at every line. Once he even slapped his thigh. However I liked him even though other nonchalant types were glaring at him.

Stew had given us a choice of topics for this final set: the difference between comedy now and comedy in the '80s or "some sort of political stuff about the government". The room was split, but my '80s comedy choice won, and Stew felt guilty that some of the audience would be disappointed and said he wished he hadn't given us a choice now: "This is why democracy can never work".

He sat on a stool for this set, clutching his guitar, explaining that having a guitar or a piano to use as a prop means that the audience would let him get away with substandard material and then explained the problems he has trying to get a gig at the O2 (I wonder who he could have been referring to?).

He explained that in the '80s all the comedians hated the Tories, and now all comedians hate their kitchen appliances before attempting to do a "Live At The Apollo" style routine about a toaster that either slightly warms the bread or burns it charcoal black. Naturally this went on for longer than you'd expect before explaining that the toaster was clearly broken and he should really take it back. he went on to remind us of the importance of keeping the receipt, although the staff in the shop shop he buys his electrical appliances from all know him so he might not need the receipt. "My observational comedy might not be very good, but at least you get excellent consumer advice." The show ended with a song on the guitar comprising of loads of very hack observational comedy lines which was rather pointed towards a rather popular current comedian. I'm not sure who, but the last two lines were "You're a liar. Your name is Michael..." but we never got to hear his surname.

I actually quite like Michael McIntyre (in small doses). I've said it now and it cannot be taken back. Deal with it. Though I do wish he's stop crowbarring accents into all his routines.

Great gig. It couldn't have been better. Maybe some more off stage off mic ranting but I'm just picking hairs. I grabbed a few pictures afterwards for this blog and on the spur of the moment bought his triple CD "What Would Judas Do?" which tells the story of the last week in Jesus' life from the point of view of this misunderstood disciple. I recommend it. You can get it from Go Faster Stripe as well as loads of other great DVDs from other very funny acts.

He finished his run on Saturday but has booked 5 more dates in the new year, so get tickets while you can. I'm up for it!

Oh I nearly forgot. One of my favourite lines of the night: "I hate Al Qaeda. I know its politically incorrect but I find them rude."

Monday, 6 December 2010

A Pleasant Surprise: Corporate Comedy Not Always Terrible.

So I am off to Highlight tonight with work colleagues for our Christmas party. This used to be a Jongleurs and is often spoken about with disdain by the comedians on the circuit that I tend to frequent. So when my boss announced that we were going there I looked as if I was pleased. I sort of was, but as she knows I'm a big comedy fan she wanted me to be pleased, so I did my best!

I started to worry about it. I have never been to a comedy show before when not everyone was a fan of the acts or comedy in general and have a few reservations.

First, not everyone will be that interested in the comedy. They are there for a night out with their colleagues, or perhaps there will be a rowdy stag or hen party with some idiots who think that heckling will be hilarious and will somehow add to the show, and that the acts will appreciate it.

Secondly, the doors open at 6 and there is plenty free beer available. (Well, for us anyway as our company is footing the bill.) This won't necessarily be condusive to paying attention later on. I was annoyed enough at the Richard Herring show on Wednesday whena table behind us quietly babbled amongst themselves during sets from Carl Donnelly and Eric Lampaert!

Then there is the fact that as a more corporate comedy club, will the acts have to broaden their material so that everyone gets it? Carl Donnelly said that this isn't necessarily the case and has seen Tony Law completely bamboozle the crowds with his unusual brain, and that the Highlight in Battersea can be extremely good.

Finally, will I know any of the acts and be hideously embarrassed by the drunken fools around me.

These are just my initial thoughts and I will continue the blog once I get back to compare my preconceptions with the reality. On that note, I'm off to trek through the snow and ice to Clapham Junction and if I get back without breaking a limb will continue the story.


I'm back!


You know what? It wasn't too bad! I didnt realise the venue was attached to a Walkabout so we met there and were treated to 10 free drinks tickets by our boss. Now it was tough getting through these but I managed it in the end.

Once we got up to the venue we took our seats. Looked like most people here were here as a company do. The compere was rather weak and , and the first act (didn't catch his name) was rather dire, with his rather dreary jokes about "Mussies".

It was fun when we told the compere that we worked for an adult chat line company and he didn't believe us. I think he got the wrong end of the stick, assuming we talked filth on the phone, but none of us put him right (apart from one of the shyer girls who made it clear she worked in admin!) He wanted a number to ring to prove we were telling him the truth and well done to my colleague who gave him the priciest 0906 number rather than the all too affordable 0871! Perhaps he spent too long with us, as I could see some of the other tables getting bored of the conversation.

Abandoman came on and pushed things up a gear. I had heard great things about them and when they asked us to find unusual things in our pockets and bags we held up ear plugs, asthma inhalers etc only for them to hold them in the air and build an improvised rap about them. Absolutely astounding. Go and see them when you can.. The atmosphere was fantastic and everyone had huge smiles on their faces.

The headline act, Jeff Innocent was also a turn up for the books. Looking like an England football hooligan he took to the stage and explained that people don't believe he s a comedian and I can see why people think that. He does look intimidating on stage and only an idiot would heckle. And yes indeed, some of our party threw some drunken heckles out (that didn't make much sense) that were very ably and comically batted away by Innocent. I only had to ssshhh people on a couple of occasions!

Now out of all the people there it seems everyone was there courtesy of their work. There were 2 couples that had paid by themselves to come in, but I think £25 is not a price I'd be willing to pay if I was coughing it up myself. The night was fun, but overpriced if you are buying your own ticket.

All in all, not the most hideous night I expected!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Comedy Gold

The Old Queen's Head is a pub even closer to where I live than The New Red Lion Theatre. As a lazy comedy fan, it's probably the handiest venue to go to. I've been there once before when it was so packed I had to sit on the floor right at the front of the stage, craning my neck upwards to see the acts. My neck could barely see their chests, never mind their faces, so I spent most of the time looking at comedians' crotches. This was even more noticable when 9'2" comedian Steven Merchant turned up!

This time was different. the lovely Annelie had booked us a table (quite handily near the bar) where I was joined by the lovely Richard and Rob. Richard had completely forgotten about this gig even though I had told him yesterday about it, and did finally manage to turn up (even though the cash in his pocket amounted to a pound less than the entrance fee) and was allowed in to sponge the extra quid from Rob.

We did hear beforehand that Mark Steel couldn't make it as he was stuck in snow in Kent. This was a shame (especially for Mark) as he was the only comedian on the bill I hadn't experienced before, and I was very keen to see him , and I did plan to have a picture of himself and Herring together for this blog and refer to him as Andrew Collins throughout just to see if anyone would notice.

Carl Donnelly is a comedian I have seen before at Fat Tuesday, and more recently on Mock The Week and he was our compere for the night. His free flowing style suited this role and was happily engaging charmfully with the audience, which ended up with Aussie Top Trumps where he picked random categories to compare the 2 Aussies in the audience to find out which was best.

Eric Lampaert was the first act to perform. I had seen him before (with Rob) at a warm up for Richard Herring's "Christ On A Bike" show before Edinburgh, alongside Joel Dommett (who ended up naked... anyway that's beside the point...) and he had a real Eddie Izzard feel to him. Semi-improvised, and able to take ideas and run with them, pointing out his Edinburgh reviews comparing him to a shark and had the audience on side after a while. Well worth seeing. He did wonder later on Twitter if ending with new material was really a good idea!

However both Eric and Carl's sets were spoiled for me by the table at the back. Although the comedians' couldn't hear them, they were quite happily chatting amongst themselves. I glared a few times, and eventually as this continued into Eric's set had to ask them to keep the conversation down. I had assumed in my head that this would end up with a big unseemly argument, but they seemed to take it on board and I didn't notice them again. Hurrah!

(Oh Christ, I'm going to Highlight (ex-Jongleurs) on Friday. I just remembered. Although Carl did tell me in one of the intervals that they can be good nights. I'm still slightly concerned.

We then found out via Twitter (of course) that Richard Herring had been having travelling problems. Flat battery. I began to wonder if this gig was doomed. Thankfully he jumped in a cab and I didn't have to do his set as he suggested. Unfiortunately he will not be able to eat tonight. The taxi driver's family will do just fine however.

Sara Pascoe was on next. I saw her at All Day Edinburgh and although I enjoyed her set, there was something that didn't grab me. Don't get me wrong, she was good, but there were quite a few better acts on the bill. However tonight she nailed it. Absolutely storming set and I will 100% see her again.The mixture of strength and insecurity she showed was spot on and she won the crowd over easily.

Then Rob had to leave to go to work. I bullied him into apologising to Herring for walking out before he had even started his set. Just for my own amusement really! Sorry Rob.

The evening ended with Herring, and I'm not going to go into the details of the show here. I've done that enough in the past. However the place was loving him, and the regular routine, but now incorporating elements from Hitler Moustache and Christ On A Bike went down extremely well. The laughs were coming so often I couldn't hear the table at the back at all! He threw in an improvised section when a punter arrived upstairs with two pints in his hand who seemed about to step across the stage to go to a table,  speculating that he may be a new comic and debating what his catchphrase may be. Herring has a solid routine, but as he has said himself, it may be time now to write new material for it. Some of it has to stay, such as the "sky potato", "seven year old girl hands", and "signs for homosexuality at school" routines, but some could be trimmed a little. Perhaps use less of the childhood stories. However this doesn't mean dropping the "Men Of Phise" classic!

Incidentally, while Richard has been (jokingly) asking to be credited for sections of Andrew Collins' "Secret Dancing", maybe he should give credit to Andrew for writing the "Icarus Myth" line? In fact Andrew should insist on it!

Anyway, all in all, a fun fun night. 4 great acts. No filler. Comedy Gold is a great night. This along with Fat Tuesday, The Fortnight Club and Sunday Comedy at The New Red Lion Theatre makes me glad to be an Islingtonian.

(Still thinking about the Frankie Boyle travesty from last night. Should I end this blog on a rape joke?)

Frankie Boyle - This Charmless Man

I was working last night, so couldn't see the full glory Channel 4's Tuesday night comedy live, but read enough feedback on Twitter to know that it was going to be baaaad. I watched Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights quietly in my room last night as didn't want to disturb my landlord, but on rewatching it this morning realised it was much worse than I expected.

Ooooh that naughty Frankie ! I mean, that's what we EXPECT from Frankie Boyle! Shock. Outrage. Prepare to be offended. Why would you go to a Boyle gig or watch his show if you are easily offended?

In fact that's exactly the same argument I used when I defended him after the story of his Down's Syndrome 'joke' broke a few months ago when speaking to others about it  (including professional comedians, most of whom thought that Frankie had deeply misjudged his outburst)

'Offensive' comedy is fine. We all have the right to be offended and someone is always going to be offended by something. However, 'offensive' comedy is only acceptable if someone has the skill to make it funny. For example Billy Connolly, Bill Hicks, Stewart Lee, Brendon Burns, Joan Rivers, Russell Brand, Chris Morris: These guys can be seen as offensive. they push the boundaries, they have a point. But most of all, they have the intelligence and comedic skill to take difficult topics such as drugs, child abuse, suicide, 9/11, death, and other topics seen as potentially offensive and make them funny. They think hard about these routines. The joke is either on themselves or the powerful. They don't look down and laugh at people who are less fortunate.

Frankie Boyle doesn't push boundaries. He clumsily charges through them throwing ideas out without any sense of self-editing. It seems that his only goal is to be notorious, rather than to be funny.

Now his rape sketch (Green Mile parody) was SO hilarious everyone wasn't it? I mean surely its automatically funny when a prisoner rapes a prison officer then goes on to rape the governor's wife. Naturally she was scared to be raped at first, but obviously (because she is a woman, and he is a big black man with obviously more sexual power than her husband) she ended up really enjoying the raping.

Frankie, it's not good enough. Yes you managed to cause some ructions and upset a few people. But that's not my point. It just wasn't funny.

The Brokeback Mountain sketch: Now we know a lot of routines can lose any subtle nuances in print, but believe me, this sketch had none. Imagine a gruff, macho cowboy addressing the camera: He starts jovially, and as the sketch progresses gets more menacing.

"What is the meaning behind the bewitching smile from the famous painting that is tonight's particular episode. It is "pick an actor from the movie Brokeback Mountain that you want to fuck" and stick with it. Be it the rambunctious nature of Jake or the stoic poise of Heath or whatever floats your boat. Now which is it? Heath or Jake? On the count of 3 I want everybody at home to make their choice.

One, two three.

Well the overwhelming vibe Im getting is for Heath. I of course would have picked the woman who played Jake's wife you fags. I didn't say you had to pick Heath or Jake, I just said you had to pick an actor from the movie and suggested two of 'em. It was you who unconsciously knew this and still opted for the gay choice anyway. Apart from those of you watching who are actually homosexual, I'm sorry your Sky box fucked up recording "Glee" boys.

The rest of you fist fucking heath pickers, I'm sorry this is how you had to find out about above your love of cum. And I suspect many of you will mistakenly vent your anger towards me. Well bring it on. and if you want to take 2 minutes out of your confused life next week, I'll meet you down in Hampstead Heath in the toilet cubicle with all the disco music coming out of it. And I suggest you bring your life partner to the heath cause I'm gonna show you heavy, fatherfucker!"

(Is that the last line? If so I'm not sure even what it means...)

Now other than the obvious homophobia here, again, my main point is that I just can't find anything funny in this. Where is the joke? Can someone point it out?

Frankie Boyle is clearly turning into Bernard Manning, and without any sense of irony. I think it's time for a new wave of alternative comedy. Bring on the new Alexei Sayles, Rik Mayalls, Peter Richardsons, Frenches and Saunderses, and yes, even Ben Eltons (the good Ben Elton from the 80s, not the current evil Ben Elton),

I'd always enjoyed Frankie's interjections and short nibbles of cheeky fun on Mock The Week, but he just doesn't have enough good material to pull this show off.

Frankie, write some funny jokes. It can't be healthy simply relying on the laughter of nerves. How long is it till you're 40?

Monday, 22 November 2010

All Day Edinburgh - a benefit for Shelter

All Day Edinburgh is the brainchild of Michael Legge, who announced on Twitter a few weeks ago that there was an amazing gig coming up. We were all on the edge of our seats for days until "All Day Edinburgh" was revealed to the world. This was to be a benefit in aid of Shelter, the homeless charity and the aim was to recreate the Edinburgh Fringe in a single day. Some great acts were announced with a couple unable to be revealed as they were THAT GOOD ! Michael had already told me after the Los Quattros Cvnts gig that there was to be a big opener and a big closer, and he wouldn't say any more. However, later in the evening I did hear the name Stewart Lee and got quite excited. I then found out that there was no Stewart Lee, but I was still excited!

The day was to begin in a rather traditional (for me and Neal) Phoenix way with Sunday lunch at The Explorer. This was probably the best idea we had bearing in mind the endrance test of booze we were about to undertake. We were joined by Graham, Hitch, and Sir Bob, as well as Woolhouse, Sedgebeer and Vicky H. Vicky seemed to take great delight in giving me one of her now infamous (to me anyway) "boob hugs". I won't say any more about that.

Before we go any further, all the crappy out of focus pictures were taken by me on my crappy out of focus phone. All the good ones were taken by Neal Peters and the entire set can be seen here.

Acts that had been revealed for ADE included Tony Law, Penny Dreadfuls, Pappys, Dan Antopolski, Paul Sinha, Sara Pascoe, Nick Helm, Hour Of Telly Live, Tara Flynn, Mat Ricardo, Jim Bob, Alex Horne, Colin Hoult,  Storytellers, Caroline Mabey, Robin Ince & Michael Legge, and The Trap.

Vicky Hook
For me this was great news as all the comedians from that list that I have seen I have enjoyed greatly, and there are a few on the list that I have never seen such as Helm, Pascoe, Penny Dreadfuls, and Pappys that I have never seen but only ever heard good things about. And for a man of my age, the chance to see Jim Bob is not one to pass up. We ALL loved Carter USM in the 90s you know.

Michael Legge

Michael warmed us up with a nice anti-Edinburgh, anti-homeless and anti-comedian rant before the first act Nick Helm came on. I had missed Nick at the opening night of Sunday Comedy at the New Red Lion Theatre At first I was a little unsure about him as he opened with a lot of shouting. but once he moved into his first song about a girl he likes having a hot boyfriend who made her look fat, his vulnerability started to come through. Watching Nick made me glad for once that I didn't have a front row seat as his intensity was pretty intimidating, dragging one lad on to stage to sing a sing as well as bringing a girl on stage where he spoke to her through a tin can telephone. When she was asked about her favourite canned food, she told him it was mushy peas to which he responded that they were much better than having whole peas in a can due to all the draining involved. In fact all the draining was draining. Excellent stuff.

Next up, was An Hour Of Telly Live who are a duo comprised of Margaret Cabourn-Smith and Zoe Gardner who perform some telly for us. Live. Michael was less of a compere, and more of a fan when he introduced them and Robin Ince had tweeted when he was on his way that he hoped he hadn't missed them. A great fun show, well worth seeing, even if only for the line "Your teeth are cunts".

Caroline Mabey  was up next with a routine all about breakfast with an accompanying slide show whch discussed "Breakfacts" and "Breakfantasties". The self-importance of breakfast describing itself as the most important meal of the day was discusssed as well as it inpinging into the other meals due to the rise of the all-day breakfast. Caroline is quite unique in her delivery, giving us a mixture of straight forward jokes along with her surreal narrative.

Next up was Interval #1. I've had intervals before and this was a fairly standard one. I bought a beer, had a cigarette and kind of hung around. Not bad. But I wasn't ready for an interval at this stage and could have done without it.

Robin Ince
After the rather adequate interval came Robin Ince & Michael Legge with their "Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire" show. Robin started by reading one of his clever books before being interrupted from the off-stage Michael, asking what the fuck he was doing? I've seen these guys perform both seperately and together many times and would recommend you to see them if you can. It's nice to see Robin abandon his usual book / science / philosophy based shows and concentrate on screaming "cunt" at the top of his voice. Definite shades of Mayall/Edmonson here (which is a tribute - not a criticism!) This set had an surprisingly touching end to it where Robin explained that All Day Edinburgh was actually his idea, however Michael had actually gone ahead and organised it, and sincerely asked us to give him a round of applause. Michael didn't like this one bit !

Sara Pascoe was up next who explained that due to her poor reviews at Edinburgh her confidence had been knocked and was not going to do material from that show, but she gave us some new material, a particular highlight being her graphic novel based around a "pornography" she has written. I can't remember all the details, but there was a lollipop lady, and ambulance driver, a dead child and a minotaur...

You have probably read about The Trap before on this blog, as they are 75% of Los Quattros Cvnts. I have always liked these guys, and I'm not a huge fan of sketch comedy, but their podcasts are always rambling, surreal and hilarious. The first sketch was an attempt to do hard hitting satire that was always interrupted by some rather cheesy show music. They went on to do a sketch involving Jeremy and Paul wearing fez's (always funny!). The Two Nevilles. This was a long routine that parodied old music hall duos and I wasn't really sure where it was going until Dan asked them how long they had been working together and they said it was so long they could do the routine backwards. Dan insisted they did. This was where the real comedy happened as this was a palindromic sketch which turned the charming if not especially hilarious sketch into quite an offensive routine that The Two Nevilles looked more and more shocked as the routine evolved in reverse. This was the best sketch The Two Ronnies never had (the clue was probably in the characters' names!) Brilliant stuff, backed up with the next sketch which comprised solely of the alphabet and nothing else. Very very funny guys.

Juggler, Mat Ricardo was up next.. I've seen clips on Youtube where rather than pulling a tablecloth off, leaving the crockery in place, Mat does the trick in reverse. However, this has to be my first apology of the blog as sometimes when you haven't made the most of the first interval, you have to make an interval of your own (I was dying for a wee, a fag and a drink) and I'm afraid on a long day when you have to pick an act to sacrifice, then I'm afraid it's often the juggler. Sorry Mat !

Interval #2 was good. Much better than the first one. It was so good I was late back and missed the start of Alex Horne and his Horne Section. This was yet another great act involving some audience interaction from Alex whilist his band played in the background. An improvised version of "One Wild Night" by Bon Jovi went down well even though I'm not sure if anyone has heard the song, or indeed if it exists. Great joke about 'Chat' magazine, with one audience member sayig her friend wrote a household tips column for it. Alex was confused why a French magazine about cats would have this! The set ended with a rather unexpected morris dance with a near disastrous end when all balance was lost.

I've never seen Pappy's before, but always heard good things. I was a little unsure whether the gloriously shambolic set they performed was scripted or whether that's how they always are, but got a lot of laughs and the build up to the three musketeers reading the football results was fantastic!

Chris Addison
What needs to be said about Chris Addison ? I've seen him a couple of times before, and he is ALWAYS on top form. He started with a bit of a microphone problem, and it seems that along the way he destroyed one. So a stuttering start, but he went on to be the funniest act of the day! Rants about the Daily Mail and a great line about being so non-sexist that he "actually married a woman. And in many ways, so did she"! Rants about Ugg boots, The Pope and The Daily Mail followed, as well as a true story about a woman being offended by the swearing in a golf club. She complaned to the committee and the rules were changed - so that women weren't allowed on the balcony! FIVE STARS !

I was so overcome by Chris that I needed more booze etc so apologies to Storytellers for missing almost their entire set. I'm sorry, although I got back in time to hear a story about joke theft committed by Stephen K Amos !

Dan Antolpolski was as awesome as you'd expect updating his classic "Hedgehog" joke to ask "Warthogs. Why can't they share the warts?" No narrative, just joke joke joke. He went on to explain the racial heritage of his children with pie charts, and confused the audience by questioning if you should use the word "hair" or "hairs". this went on for so long it definitely out "Mars Bar"ed Richard Herring! He talked about his friendship at school with George Osborne (a Stewart Lee style exaggeration?) and his suspicion that he likes retarded porn. His set included another of the best lines of the day: "I can't help myself. Like Stephen Hawking at a buffet" He ended the set with a rap about his laser. That isn't as scary as it sounds!

Star of "Gutted", Colin Hoult was next. He played an army veteran (Andy Parker) who promised us he would not be doing any of that "poofy stuff". He told us about his money making schemes including drawing TMNTs*. He has also written a screenplay based around Hostel where he has a "poofy bloke" and a "fit bird" being killed horrifically by Mr Giggles, finally being defeated by an "army bloke" This is the second time I've seen him play this guy, and would love to see more of his work. Great stuff.

*TMNTs - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Paul Sinha sets out his stall from the beginning explaining he is gay, Indian, and ex-doctor and a quizzer. very funny guy who talked about his appearance on radio (never telly, always radio) to debate with the deputy leader of the BNP. He then went on to speculate which member of Pappy's he would do first !

Tony Law
Tony Law came on after the interval and bamboozled everyone with his unusual thoughts. I've seen Tony a few times and always throws in plenty new material and he seems to freeflow ideas as they occur to him like a mroe surreal Eddie Izzard in cowboy boots. After a couple of minutes everyone was going with him! His discussion on panda prostitution and his workshop on comedy instructing people to use animal sounds and revolutions to make comedy gold,

More music next from Tara Flynn who performed 3 songs from her Big Noise show that I already blogged about here. I was very happy to hear "The Fog From The Film The Fog" as well as her song about Irish sexuality containing my favourite lyric of the evening "You custard bastard. I'm your custard whore"

Have you noticed that each act is getting less and less written about them as this blog goes on? Sorry but my fingers are tired, the blog is too long and my memory is fading...

Sean Goldsworthy (aka Paul Litchfield)
The legendary Sean Goldsworthy (Paul Litchfield from The Trap) delivered some extremely arousing erotic poetry. With lines such as "Her breasts looked right back at him" and "Her ass was toned like paperweights filled with pictures of other women's asses" I would imagine everyone, even all the women, in the audience sported stiffies.

Jim Bob
Carter USM's Jim Bob, (yet another star of Gutted) came on to perform a few songs for us including the Carter classic "The Only Living Boy In New Cross". It was hard to concentrate with Michael Legge dancing out of the corner of my eye! This is yet another performer I will definitely be seeing again.

Hitch and Legge have a lovely snog
The Penny Dreadfuls were soon on to complete the show and again, like the poor Mat Ricardo I had to sacrifice them for more booze, fags and weeing. Sorry about that again... Michael brought the gig to a close thanking all the acts for performing only to be trumped by his lovely wife Muki shouting Michael's name which resulted in a standing ovation which, again, Michael didn't like at all, prompting him to bolt from the stage straight to the bar.

Sincerely though, a great job by Michael for organising this, and looking forward to next year's already. After the gig, Hitch and I went to The Rocket on Euston Road and were soon joined by Woolhouse. A more perfect ending to the night I couldn't imagine.

Then Hitch threw up in a bin.

Monday, 15 November 2010

New Red Lion Theatre

Catie Wilkins
 This is a fairly new comedy venue (2 weeks old) that happens to be only 5 minutes walk from my house. This alone makes it my favourite comedy venue. However when I got inside I liked it even more. The bar used to be a rather grotty sports venue that I visited once in order to go for an emergency wee (and I bought a half to get rid of the guilt.) Now though it looks like a lovely friend's lovely living room and has a really nice vibe about it. I had made a joke on Twitter beforehand that if the night was no good I could always pop to the porno cinema next door for a wank, but thankfully this option was not needed (but will bear it in mind for future visits!) I went there with my lovely friend Richard who has seen AIOTM (aiotm) twice but has never seen Richard Herring do his regular bread & butter stand up.

The night was compered by the ever-lovely (I've used the word 'lovely' too much, haven't I?) Catie Wilkins.The club runs every fortnight and this was only the second time it was on. Some good acts coming up so keep an eye on their Facebook page !.

Me and Richard (@Chardhollis)
Catie chatted to the audience as comperes generally do (if they didn't they would be a bit rubbish) and eventually came to chat to Richard and myself and asked how we knew each other. Richard told her we used to work together and obviously we were asked what we did. He replied that we worked on a sex line, which is only partly true (I do a lot more other important stuff other than filth!) but decided to run with it. Naturally she wanted more information about what we say, but I told her she would have to pay me (I don't ask her to tell me jokes for free, do I !?)

Anyway, Imran Yusuf was on first. He was pretty good - did I see him on Stand Up Hero?  actually I didn't see him on there. It was Michael MacIntyre's Comedy Roadshow ! Thanks to Mary Bourke for letting me know, and if anyone else has any corrections for anything in any of my blogs please tell me - however, my asterisk still stands - but trying a lot of new material which spoiled the flow of his set. However we still laughed a lot and he was enjoyable.

The next act, Suzi Ruffell was absolutely fantastic! I had never seen her before, but I certainly will again. Her routine near the end about Lady Gaga's song where no matter how drunk she is, she sorts it all out with a little dance was hilarious, as was her secret lesbian salute! We had a nice interval and spent most of our time gushing over Suzi outside. (not like that!). We told her how great she was, and is definitely a name to look out for in the future.

A stage on a stage?
After the break, Catie asked us how the interval was and what was the best thing that happened during it. The audience was very quiet, so thought I would help out and blurted out "I went to the toilet". This unfortunately led to a barrage of complaints about them, so Catie took it upon herself to put the acts' payment on hold in order to fix them. (I recognise this was a joke, but I like to report this as if it is a fact.)  I wish I'd never brought it up.

Actually the toilets aren't bad (though there is only a tiny tiny gap between the tap and the sink so very hard to get your hands wet although I'm sure Richard H had no problem with his 7 year old girl hands (more of that later)

Next up, was a chap I rather shamefully can't remember his name. Let's call him Dylan Thing. (Please if you know his surname please let me know and I'll fix this!) Dylan Bray (Thanks Richard!) Anyway this was his first gig for a year and seemed a little nervous. However, he was very good and I quite enjoyed his conversation with the rather nihilisic woman who wasn't that bothered about climate change. He did a routine about eating prisoners to help (though I'm sure I've seen Billy Connolly do a very similar routine before!)

Herring & me. I don't know why my face is doing that.
Next up, and closing the night was Richard Herring. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a big fan, and have seen him on quite a number of times. However, it was nice to have my mate Richard with me because it was interesting to see his reactions for the first time to jokes I've heard on quite a few occasions. He seemed to particularly enjoy the "sky potato" routine. In fact the best part of the night was his reaction to Rich's joke about his dark masturbatory fantasies about having the hands resembling a 7 year old girl! He made quite a shocked noise, so I turned round and his face was a picture! Nice to see Rich including some Hitler Moustache material in his regular comedy set, and the "racists might have a point" routine went down a storm.

So in closing, this is a great comedy venue, and I will definitely be back.

Anyway, I have two things I want to do with this blog:
  1. Stop using so many exclamation marks.
  2. Write about things other than comedy gigs.
However, that may or may not happen. It's not happened yet. I may write about an exciting event happening a week today and who could blame me?

Next Sunday, the 24th November at The Phoenix, there is a benefit gig for Shelter as Michael Legge recreates Edinburgh Fringe in one day. it's going to be awesome, so make sure you come! Follow AllDayEdinburgh on Twitter for more details! Many acts to be confirmed, but so far they have Tony Law, The Penny Dreadfuls, Jim Bob (from Carter USM !!!!) , Pappys, Robin Ince & Michael Legge, Sara Pascoe, Paul Sinha, The Trap, Storytellers, Nick Helm, Tara Flynn, An Hour of Telly Live, Mat Ricardo, Caroline Mabey and Dan Antopolski to look forward to with bigger names yet to be announced.

Get tickets to All Day Edinburgh here. But be fast as I imagine they will go very quickly.

(I may write about it.)

* by the way Stand Up Hero is a great show. Like the X Factor of comedy except most of the acts are actually good. Look out for Mary Bourke on an upcoming episode.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

It Looks Like Something Harold Wilson Would Shit In

I was going to do a blog about the October LQC show, but I just didn't get around to it. It's now fading fast from my memory, so roughly it was grub at Old Explorer, the vegan fisherman with no food for his starving Paul Lichfield toddler, We Need Attention,  Collins and Herring in attendance,  Caroline Mabey, pork eye / poor guy (shades of Jimi Hendrix there), Ladies and gentlemen... please welcome... Miss Barbara Toronto, Colin Hoult's ex army character Andy " don't worry I'm not gonna do any of that poofy stuff" Parker, portraits of TMNTs, Jeremy Limb's new radio sitcom "Down The Pole", drinking upstairs, perhaps slightly offending Muki by telling her that although I enjoyed the night as always, I had seen the Cvnts do better shows, and going home.

Anyway November has arrived and so did a tube strike. This would not deter the Cvnts. Nor me. I got on a trusty number 73 bus and ended up snarled up in traffic in Pentonville Road. I got off the bus and walked to Kings Cross and found the entrance to the tube was shut. Seems that even KX had been affected by the strike. The bus caught up with me after 10 minutes and I got back on, only to get off again in Gower Street when I got off again. I walked to the Olde Explorer..

I know it's a boring start to this blog, but it was also a boring start to the evening, so tough. I was also going to write a "then I got off the bus" joke but couldn't really be bothered.

Met up for grub with Neal, Graham, Roop, and we were finally joined by Hitch. Turns out Hitch managed to tube it from Kings Cross to Oxford Circus and it was fine all along. They had just shut my entrance, so that slightly irked me. Last time I saw Hitch he was smashing my ukulele to bits (I was informed last month by Graham that actually missed the ground with one of his Paul Simenon strikes. Now that I would have liked to have seen !)

Anyway, on we went to the Phoenix and outside bumped into the ever lovely cvnt Paul Litchfield. He seemed visibly excited when I told him of Hitch's "Belm" T-shirt. I had already had to get Hitch to explain what it meant as I haven't listened to as much of The Trap as I should.

The Cvnts came on and we were soon straight into hardcore political satire involving spending cuts (they had to drop Dan from their workforce.). This was followed by a sketch involving Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta being told by her agent to choose a new name for her career (luckily Michael explained this was Lady Gaga's real name.) This had shades of Eddie Izzard's Englebert Humperdink routine, with Michael suggesting many and varied ideas to Stefani (Paul) most of which he hadn't heard, which led to much corpsing to our delight. Amongst many suggestions were:
  • Patrick Troughton
  • Jug Norris
  • Arthur Vagina
  • Michael J Badger
  • Professor Dress
  • That Little Arab Boy
  • Bank Piss
  • Titty
  • Little Chip
which ended with an amazing "poltical twist" involving the punchline "Tony Blairs"

Mr Nougat (real name Arnold Bawden) went down a storm. Arnold is an extremely bitter old children's entertainer from the music hall era tormented by the lovely, silly, dotty Mr Nougat "I am in a muddle". If the Cvnts read this, make sure you bring him back for another show.

We were teated to a new TV panel show "Mock The Antiques" where Dan Mersh's temporary replacement Aisling Bea played a rather posh lady trying to get her antiques valued while Paul's Russell "That would be weird, wouldn't it" Howard and Michael's Andy "It looks like something Gordon Brown would shit in" Parsons. This Andy Parsons got one of the biggest laughs of the night and I would definitely lie to see him again! Michael's costume was very well put together comprising of a post it note with the word "bald" written on it, and Andy's topical references moving further back in time was a great touch.

I think I speak for everyone to say how glad I was to see the return of Sean Goldsworthy, Cornwall's 4th most erotic purveyor of online "eroticker". Listening to his story of Jack Shield provided many laughs and slight arousal. 

"Some say his mother had been struck by lightning. Other people didn't say that"

Robin Ince came on after the break to a now traditional dance from the Cvnts. Robin quite surprisingly managed to remain quite non-plussed by this lunacy and launched into his fantastically shambolic rambling routine. As usual, he only got through about 3 of his cards out of an entire handful.

Now - a note for your diary. 21st November sees "Edinburgh In A Day" at The Phoenix - a benefit for Shelter - running from 2pm onwards which promises a fantastic line up including Robin Ince and Michael Legge's "Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire", as well as 2 BIG name comedians to open and close the show. Follow Michael on Twitter to get updates about this as they happen.

See you there! 

Oh - Los Quattros Cvnts have a Facebook group. Don't be a cunt, be a cvnt and join it now.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

What have these all got in common? Yes they can make long complicated URLs shorter, making them easier to remember and especially to post on Twitter. Yes, they all quick to type too. But the main things they have in common are that they are CHARACTERLESS AND BORING.

I implore you, from now on when you need to shorten a URL, please use the magnificent - As well as being able to choose your own personal ending, how can it possibly not raise a smile?

Here are some of my favourite blogs in an easy to remember stylee !! - Nicola Woolhouse - Vicky Hook (nee "Harsehole) - Sarah Williamson

While I'm on an roll, if any of you guys are around on Sunday the 14th, come to a new comedy night in Angel at The New Red Lion Theatre to see Richard Herring, Imran Yusuf and others, all held together by Catie Wilkins, MC - Tickets at

Yes I know - crappy blog, but let's crush tinyurl, dwarfweb, nanoaddress and all the dreary but practical shorteners, and lets all get now!

(Oh, quick note to self - try and do more blogs that aren't just about going to comedy gigs)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Big Noise and Big Fun*

I wasn't remotely surprised when Jason sat down beside me and jumped up uncomfortably before removing a chicken and a duck from his back pocket before placing them triumphantly on the table.

Anyway it was nice of Tara Flynn to practise her show in Edinburgh for a month before the big event back at The Phoenix. As usual it was also great to see some old Twitter types such as Neal, Rob, Vicky and Jason

Now, I know Tara mainly through the London Comedy Improv. You may know her through that too. Or perhaps you've seen her on Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle or the Paul Merton series, "Thank God You're here". Or indeed the lady in "Doctors" a few months ago. (I missed this performance sadly). Or indeed as we were reminded later, "The woman from the Utterly Butterly advert.

Opening tonight was London Comedy Improv's tallest and Irishest member Brendan Dempsey. I had been unaware all this time that Brendan still did stand up (I was obviously ill-informed by Neal earlier) and thought he mainly did comedy acting and the improv, but I'm so glad he does. Brendan has a very gentle calming voice and I lazily compared him to Tara afterwards to Ardal O'Hanlon before she pulled a funny face and told me that it's probably because he's Irish. Anyway the point is (and I'll come back to this later) sometimes the support acts take you by surprise and you can find a whole new realm of comedy to follow.

Tara's show (Big Noise) is a collection of comedy songs with no particular narrative. No message. No story. Now I have always been suspicious of musical comedy. Sorry, but I just don't get the whole "Beat me on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly" stuff.

She opened with a tribute to the "Quirky Ones" (Lily Allen et al) followed by a number of other songs about topics as diverse as Weetabix (with the inexplicable dry bit in the middle) as well as a fantastic 80s Hazel O'Connor style track involving science and nuclear war.

The closing song was an epic German/Irish electronic track about a "custard bastard" (she's the custard whore.) This is a phrase I shall attempt to use in conversation a lot more than I used to. Tara also gave me a new religion which I have added to my Facebook page (non-practising Buddhist) which has somehow tickled me and sounds better than the rather po-faced "atheist".  This is a show I really hope Tara can develop, perhaps eventually involving a live band.

You can see a clip of Tara, Brendan and others singing an improvised song (at London Comedy Improv obviously) here

I also went to see Catie Wilkins for the second time in a week. Now this was a spur of the moment decision and I had been "out" most of the afternoon so my memory isn't all that good ! So forgive me if this ends up rather short.

Opening was Lou Sanders.  I always get nervous seeing comedians I've known about and followed on Twitter etc for the first time. I always really want to like them, and it often isn't the case. But Lou was hilarious ! (Thus linking back to the support act thing I mentioned earlier.) Also a very humble lady. After mentioning to Lou on twitter that I had enjoyed her set, she replied:

"@AndyMcH ahhh thank you! It's true, I am cocking awesome. X"

It's good to have that confidence ! I will be seeing her again. (not like that!)

Catie is a relative newcomer to comedy and "Inheritance Tax" was her first hour long show. I remember seeing her do a short set around a year ago opening for Richard Herring at Fat Tuesday and howling when she told her AIDS joke. She was advised not to perform this routine in Brighton as gay people may be offended, but that's utter rubbish.

Catie seems a little nervous on stage, but this doesn't detract from how funny she is. If anything it makes her more endearing. She explains that the show isn't about inheritance tax or fiscal affairs but about comparing herself to her parents to see if she is turning into them. I would probably have chosen a different title, as if I didn't know who she was I may not have gone to see a show with that title, but that's neither here nor there.

Highlights include her dad's Christmas circulars to her whole extended family where her mother has been very ill but he has gone off to the skiing holiday by himself anyway and explaining mum's illness in all its gory detail whilst explaining how much he enjoyed his holiday, as well as her mum's fantastic catchphrase - "How dare you come here and say that" - another phrase I will attempt to use more often.

Conscious of how drunk I was, I made my goodbyes as brief as possible as I otherwise would have turned into an annoying pest (again) and headed back to Camden Town and finally home.

Tara Flynn, Brendan Dempsey, Catie Wilkins, and Lou Sanders - see them when you get a chance !!

* Yes I know this is mainly a blog about Tara and Catie and I know that Catie is kown as "Show Pony" in her podcast she does with Lou "Big Fun" Sanders, but "Big Noise & Show Pony" would have been a weird title. Confusing at best. If you have a problem with this, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me. Send me a message on Twitter if you like. But don't just moan about it. It's only a title. What's your problem? To be honest I find your attitude rather poor. Insulting even. I don't need to do this. I could have just called it "Catie Wilkins & Tara Flynn", but that's just two people's names, and would it have drawn you in as much as "Big Noise & Big Fun"? Now I wish I hadn't criticised the title of Catie's show. I know how it feels now. Catie, I'm sorry. But these people just... AARGH. God they wind me up. I shouldn't let it get to me, but you should see what people are sending me. Then you'd understand. In fact don't even mention it to me any more. Not interested. Now seeing as Ewen MacIntosh has put his personal number up on Twitter send a text to him instead. I'm just don't care about your opinions. What????

How dare you come here and say that you custard bastard.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Trap - Bad Musical

I hate Edinburgh Fringe.

Mainly because I haven't been and all the fun people abandon me for a month leaving my blog empty and my life just a shell.

However there was the smaller and less known Camden Fringe just a short bus ride away and I decided to see "Bad Musical" by The Trap.

The Trap consist of Jeremy Limb, Paul Litchfield and Dan Mersh and release their own free "Sodcast" every week or two on iTunes. t's an hour long barrage of non-sequiturs, amusing voices and odd logic and if you're a fan of Collings & Herrin or Precious Little then it's well worth a listen. I mainly know The Trap as being 3/4 of Los Quattros Cvnts who perform at The Phoenix on the first Wednesday of the month (shows start again in October after a short break)

Bad Musical was at The Etcetera theatre, which is a small rather warm room above The Oxford Arms in Camden. I got there about 45 minutes before show time and waited for @Neal55 to arrive. It was hot and noisy in the main bar so I decided to wait outside. I said a brief hi to Paul but took a seat in the corner as I don't really like to disturb performers before their show (afterwards is a different matter!)

It didn't look good. I seemed to be surrounded by a group of proper lads in pink T-shirts bearing the words "Rugby Addict", being rather raucous and singing songs about pissing in the sink. At first I thought it could be an impromptu satirical Camden Fringe performance, but I soon realised they were just annoying twats.

We took our seats and the show began. An official voice informed us that the show was written as a 3 hour piece but had to be truncated. Every so often as the show progressed we were informed that the next long chunk of the musical had been removed, which negated the need for any important plot and allowed the characters to get out of whatever hole they had dug themselves into. We were also told that Lloyd Webber had threatened legal action and the song had to be changed.

Starting with "Life Is A Musical", The Trap tried to reference as many musical as possible with increasingly contrived lyrics. Yes, this was living up to its name (in a good way!)

"When you come back from Vietnam and you miss Saigon - that's a musical"
"When you steal clothes from Derek Acorah's line - that's a musical"
"You're a Chicken Kiev eater - that's a musical"

Prizes are available if you can guess the musicals above..

The plot rotates round Dan Mersh's character (Johnny Everyman) growing up in a small town and eventually leaving for London, becoming a banker, causing the melt down of the economic system, becoming homeless, and ending up in space. All the other characters are played by Paul and Jeremy and the array of voices they use is pretty impressive (though regular listeners to the Sodcasts will be used to this).

I just wish I had more reference points for these songs. A great Rocky Horror show style song and the aforementioned Lloyd Webber song with every 8th note painfully changed were highlights for me, as well as the many (well-rehearsed) "technical problems".

As usual for a show I'm enjoying, it finished far too quickly and we retreated downstairs to the beer garden. Luckily the pink rugby cunts had gone. Neal and I spent some time chatting with Paul (mainly about Doctor Who) and as often is the case with Paul, he utterly bamboozled and confused me with his many shifts in characters and voices. And this is after the show! Sometimes an after show chat with The Trap can be as entertaining as the show itself. They are a lovely collection of nelly sweariness.

I do hope the team play some more dates soon. Now the other Cvnt (Michael Legge) has also become a muscial star at Edinburgh with "Gutted" I imagine the next LQC could be quite a camp affair!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Law, Lee, & Legge - Collins, Jones, Douieb.

Show Time !!
I'm proud of that title. It kind of rhymes you see. And scans quite well.

On Monday to Wednesday I went to 3 gigs in a row. I enjoyed all of them in different ways. The first comprised of my second visit to The Camden Head in Angel. My first visit wasn't great when I went to (attempt to) see Catie Wilkins. I wrote about it here

Anyway it looked like I was in for more of the same. The Fortnight Club has been running for 2 decades and is a place where professional comedians can try out new material. A number of weeks ago after London Improv, Tiernan Douieb had recommended that I see Tony Law. I had checked him out on YouTube and found him good. I guess you could descibe him as Eddie Izzard in cowboy boots.

I got to the venue at opening time and went upstairs to find the tech guy sitting forlornly. He explained that not only was there no audience but none of the performers had turned up! I went down for another pint. I tweeted my situation and someone suggested I could do a set of Keith Chegwin's recent stolen material. I'm glad I was sober or I may well have suggested it! I popped up again to find that all the comedians had arrived as well as another audience member. The acts actually thought they had 3 in the audience until it turned out the 3rd person was a barmaid collecting glasses. I made a little small talk, fully expecting the gig to be pulled, but Tony Law insisted on doing it. Two of the comedians wimped out (but who can blame them?) and the gig began.
Tony Law

The compere found it odd to compere considering we had all been sitting and chatting for the past 15 miuntes but he did a good job. Tony Law was up next and he did remarkably well in front of 2 of us (plus 2 of the performers) I found myself subconciously laughing louder than I should have, and I do hope it didn't come across as sarcastic.

I can't remember the name of the next comedian, but she was reasonably good, going through a lot of one liners and getting us to judge if she should "Tweet or Delete" them. Though because I don't know her name I don't follow her so can't see if she did or not...

Milton Jones
In the middle of Tony's act, Milton Jones had arrived and sat at the back. MJ is one of the better performers on Mock The Week and I was very glad when he decided to try out some of his new stuff as well. The other half of the audience was an American guy, so was quite fun to see Milton explaining some of his jokes as he went along for his benefit!

The next night was my long awaited Stewart Lee gig at Fat Tuesday. I have never seen him before other than a quick 10 minute set at a benefit at Hackney Empire and think he is probably the best stand up performing today. Tonight just confirmed it. I had also met up with @Misswiz and we managed to get good seats at the front.

Tiernan Douieb opened with a preview of his new show. It was rather odd as Fat Tuesday is Tiernan's club, and he usually comperes, but he got the chance to perform his full show tonight. He was a little worried at first as originally Stewart Lee was scheduled to open the gig, and I don't think many comedians would want to go on afterwards, but luckily for everyone, the running order was changed. Tiernan put in a sterling performance and if you do go to Edinburgh please make time to see his show.

Stewart Lee came on and the crowd roared their approval. He told a long-winded story about being in the same school as David Cameron, very similar to last year's story about Richard Hammond. I'm sure it won't spoil it for you by telling you that he confesses at the end that this story is not true. He also managed to speak for around 20 minutes about crisps.

Surprisingly, he ended the set with a lovely acoustic ballad all about The Bullingdon Club. I wish i could say more about this gig, but I was looking forward to it so much that it vanished from my mind in all the excitement. I had a couple of quick words with Stew after the gig and wasn't told to fuck off, which was a nice susprise. I was much more nervous than usual and determined not to make a dick of myself. I think I JUST got away with it! He was less grumpy than I expected.

On Wednesday it was another return to my comedy temple, The Phoenix, to see Andrew Collins completed "Secret Dancing" show. I have already blogged about a previous show here. I met up with my mate who I occasionally bully into coming to comedy clubs if no one else is available. Though it was his birthday the next day and somehow my treat to him was to buy a beer and a comedy ticket for him. It was almost a present to me.

I also met my new comedy plaything, Richard who I used to work with and basically lost touch but have now been in contact with a lot more as he has enjoyed seeing Legge and Ince, as well as Richard Herring.

Other people I arranged to meet were Yan, aka @MightyBlackout as well as the legendary Reverend Peter Organ (the legend beginning during Herring's warm up one time befiore an AIOTM (or was it a Collings & Herrin live podcast?)  when he pointed at Peter and told everyone he looked like a comedy vicar. Peter tweeted back to say that indeed, he was a vicar!)

Anyway, it was lovely to meet Muki as always, even if she was hungrily devouring a fish finger sandwich (the BEST sandwich as I hope we all know.)

Michael came on and did around 20 minutes of material, bantering with the audience as usual. He read out his Quinola blog again. Now I've heard him read this before, but it works very well in a live situation. Both times, michael has found it hard to stifle a laugh when ever the phrase "Then, something worse than Lion-rape happened" arrives. It's a phrase I want to weave seemelssly into conversation but haven't managed yet.

An inspired comment went down a storm when he apologised to a man for calling his wife a bizarre love triangle. Yes I know it doesn't sound that funny reading it out but it's all in the context! Michael pointed out Andrew Collins' wife in the audience to us and we felt special. She has always been a nebulous figure; never spoken about, but I can confirm she does exist. Now let's say no more about it.

Andrew's act has moved on since the last time I saw it. It seems more structured and starts with ACTUAL dancing, then Andrew talks about the concept of a journey, and the fact that journeys are not what we see on Masterchef or reality TV shows, but comprise of actual movement from A to B. He discusses his wishes to be kissed (voluntarily) by a duck and his experience of walking next to a pigeon and hoping onlookers thought they were mates, as well as discussing the mystery of the asterisk without explanation on a bottle of Plax. He demonstrated Secret Dancing and got a rather drunk volunteer up on stage who seemed a little over confident and talkative for a Secret Dancer. He certainly had nothing on the Precious Little takeover at the Hen & Chickens show !

All three evenings were very different but all were fun in their own way. Tony Law and Milton Jones on Monday was totally bizarre, Tuesday with Tiernan Douieb and Stewart Lee was completely awesome, and Wednesday with Collins & Legge was ... well, Wednesday was confortable. If I have to choose between totally bizarre, completely awesome, and comfortable, I'd probably go for comfort.

(Actually I only wrote that in case Michael Legge reads this blog. Of course Stewart Lee was the best !)

Thankfully, I managed to finally get rid of that chocolate oat milk! Enjoy Andrew.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The March Of The Podophiles

"Michael and James, what will they say on the podcast today? The answer is precious little."

Michael and James looked absolutely astonished that the entire crowd was singing the theme tune, dissolved into fits, and cut the playout of the jingle to let everyone carry on. A good way to start the podcast I'm sure you'll agree.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. You've seen the #preciouslittle hashtag on my tweets but have been either too scared or disinterested to ask me what it is.

Well, I'll tell you. Precious Little started around 40 weeks ago after a drunken conversation Michael Legge (Michael) and James Hingley (James) had in a bar at the Edinburgh festival. 2 podcasts are released most weeks - the main one usually lasting an hour or so, followed by a mini one a few days later. Basically it's 2 men sitting in a room and talking. It started out with a very similar vibe to Collings & Herrin (dismissively referred to as "The T-shirt Salesmen" but over the months has developed into something very different. We have been introduced to ghost hippos, upsetting stories on trains, catchphrases - "What's WROOOONG", and James' mum's infamous bucket.

But who ARE Michael and James? Michael is a stand up comedian who has written an almost daily blog which is an essential read. Nothing much is known about James, but his mum does keep the house very tidy and he has very nice hair. James has never been photographed. In fact the image at the top of this blog shows what happens when it's tried.

As the weeks wore on, M&J had an idea. To record the 40th podcast in a cellar in front of 40 podcast fans (or podophiles for short). Invites were applied for, emails were sent out and like a cold war spy drama various codes on twitter were used so that only we special people would know where it was.

It was at The Phoenix. Everyone was shocked.

I arranged to meet up with a group of podophiles at The Old Explorer just opposite, where @Neal55 and I often enjoy fish finger sandwiches. We had about 10 people join us there. I may forget people, but there was Vicky Harsehole, Barry Skellern, Ian, Neal Peters, Neale Hitchiner, Nicola Woolhouse (and big thanks to her for putting these pics in the public domain so I could steal them!), Graham Lock, Mister_Boris, and Sven. If I have forgotten you, please let me know and I'll make sure you're added.

We went over to the Phoenix and met up with the now legendary William Tennant and awaited further instructions.

As you can see from the picture opposite, certain podophiles clearly loathed each other.

Now, Neal and I had a good idea that Collings and/or Herrin may be appearing as they let slip a little clue on their previous podcast. We already had biscuits for The Gentleman's review, had a whipround for M&J's drinks, so we got some Haribo and Oat Milk for the special guests. But then the sad tweet came through from Collings: "I will be with you in spirit. In other words, I won't be there". What the hell was I going to do with a litre of chocolate oat milk ?

We were called downstairs where the podcast was being recorded and we found our seats. Which is where we started.

Pam Ayers, aka "@mushybees" performed some of her poetry to get the crowd warmed up which seemed to go down very well, but as Michael later pointed out, 2pm on a Sunday is a very unusual time for Madeleine McCann jokes.

The podcast was done completely live and had a similar feel to a regular podcast. Precious little is fairly interactive anyway, but Michael seemed to thrive in front of a live audience, and surprisingly, James did too. The two were at their best today. Along the way we had to deal with the tragic story of Lauren who couldn't come in as she was only 17 (although there was another 17 year old lad in attendance!), Mushybees' youthful antics with Raoul Moat, and of course The Gentleman's Review who I have only recently got into. The hour and a bit flew by, and we were given an official 5 minute break before the recording of the mini podcast.

This was dedicated to the "last ever" "Fuck-A-Thing". Michael has been doing FAT on Twitter for some time now which inevitably ends in Michael losing a number of followers as he retweets any answers that he finds funny and annoys the people who arent playing the game. Today's FAT was "If you had to fuck a sitcom, which sitcom would it be?" Jingle Jim (aka me) was summoned to the stage where he rather nervously at first strummed his uke and started bellowing the tune. Luckily for him, all the podos and I think most people on stage shrieked along. Apologies to Martin Wolfenden for performing this with my arse in his face.

The answers were read out.  "Two And A Half Men" seemed to be popular (though I have never heard of it). I thought mine was great. "I'd fuck Hi-De-Hi -  I'd give Peggy a good yellow coat" although no one seemed to understand it. i found the Gent's Review and Precious Little boys' surprisingly naive lack of knowledge of watersports rather charming.

Then, it was all over.

Not really. the next six hours were spent boozing. first at The Phoenix, before a hardcore crowd went to The Blue Posts in Newman Street where Michael's prediction that there would be no body there was literally correct! We had an entire pub to ourselves. We could have just done the podcast there and saved all that walking time.

Next venue was an unusual choice. We went for a drink at The Royal Festival Hall. It was lovely and en route, Hitch's pineapple was dispatched into the Thames. He also appeared to have broken one of my uke strings though he firmly denied it. I had resented that uke as I had to carry it around everywhere. Now I had had a number of drinks and things were getting hazy. I decided to set it on fire.

It didn't want to burn.

I heard the name "Jimi Hendrix" and I ordered Hitch to destroy the fucking thing. I was rather disappointed that the first two bashes on the concrete floor weren't enough to do the job, but delighted that the third blow smashed it into a number of pieces held together with the remaining strings. I was then disappointed again as the security people didn't enjoy our larks and gave me quite a ticking off.

I apologised like a scared girl.

I soon received a few tweets about this. Most people were utterly horrified that this had happened. However I had offered my uke to anyone that would listen for a measly tenner. I was already bored and annoyed with it before we left (or even arrived at) The Phoenix. No one wanted it. So who are the real villains of the piece? Me and Hitch, who ruthlessly destroyed it on a cold  hard floor? Or the tight fisted bastards who wouldn't give me a tenner? I think we all know the answer to that.

Anyway, have a listen yourself !

Precious Little Podcast 40 (Live)
Precious Little Podcast 40.5 (Live - Fuck A Thing)

And I still have the fucking oat milk.