Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Do The Right Thing

Originally rather cheekily billed as coming from the "creators of AIOTM" (soon changed to "production team - ie : bloke that presses record), this pilot podcast is the brainchild of comedian, musician, and Dave Gorman sidekick, Danielle Ward.

Now, I'm not sure what a pilot podcast is. Perhaps it has to go through some sort of podcast authority these days. That's political correctness gone mad! Anyway, as it is a pilot, I'm not sure whether this is going to be released or not. I would assume it will, because all in all it was a rather fun night.

I met up with Simon and Paul at the venue (The Phoenix - surprised?) where they had ordered two huge plates of cheese. We were soon joined by Neal and said hello to comedy stalwarts Rob and Kate. (At their table there was a lady whose trousers were so low when she leaned forward that we could see most of her flowery pants. Unfortunately I was told by my more sensible tablemates that it would be inappropriate to take a picture of this for my blog.

Thom Tuck
Opening tonight was Thom Tuck; one of The Penny Dreadfuls. They are a sketch troupe that I don't know very much about. They had headlined at All Day Edinburgh but it was a long day and I didn't get to see them. Anyway, he performed a preview of his new Edinburgh show for around 40 minutes or so, and was an absolute joy. I do love seeing an act for the first time and being completely blown away by them. His show revolved around his obsession with Disney straight to DVD movies and the fact that virtually no one in the audience had seen them didn't make it any less funny. There were also occasions when he told us of when he had his heart broken... by a girl, as well as a fantastic 3D joke, involving Paul, some special glasses and a lightly tossed ball of paper at his face. Thom was rather surprised later when it turns out Paul had seen as many Lilo and Stitch movies as him.

Michael, Jim Bob, Danielle, Margaret & Dan
After a short break, Danielle introduced the panellists for the podcast. Michael Legge, Jim Bob, (from the fantastic Carter USM),  TV Burp writer Dan Maier, and Margaret Cabourn-Smith. The format was similar to many panel shows, this time the questions were (as you probably guessed from the title) about what the right thing to do is for a given situation. What's the right thing to do when plummeting in a lift? What to do if you get chased by a bear? Audience members contributed their own problems at the start of the show which the panel gave very funny, if slightly unwise advice for, as well as trawling through the problem pages of the tabloids.

Michael, was his usual shouty self, which of course we all like. We know Jim Bob writes extremely witty and pun laden lyrics, and in a live comedy situation he was very very funny indeed. Dan reminded me a little of Andy Hamilton. He didn't say much, but whenever he opened his mouth a fantastic line came out of it.

The show was occasionally interrupted by the occasional shout of "libel!" from Ben, and perhaps too much good natured heckling from the man in the front row who thought I was Kevin Eldon (???) but other than that it all ran rather smoothly shambolic.

This was a fun night. In order to ensure a good audience the price was an astonishing £2.50, but I think most people would be willing to pay twice as much in order for the team to at least cover their costs. Danielle had mentioned this would be unedited, but with a little editing this could be tightened up nicely.

Oh, I had a little chat with Thom afterwards and he is playing at The New Red Lion in Angel on Tuesday 3rd April. I'm planning to be there. Come along.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Fortnight Club

Ronnie Rigsby
Since it's move to The New Red Lion, The Fortnight Club seems to have gone from strength to strength. Gone seem to be the days of gigs being cancelled at The Camden Head and now, every 2 weeks, there always seems to be a healthy crowd.

I had arranged to meet Bob at The King Eddie for a beer first, and we headed down to the venue around 8 and were joined by Rob and Richard. Ronnie Rigsby as ever was our host, celebrating 58 years in show business. Ronnie is an old music hall entertainer who has worked with all the greats, and contains just the right amount of charm and bitterness to be one of the best comperes I have seen on the circuit. His creator, Logan Murray used to work with Jerry Sadowitz, and it really shows. Logan now runs a well respected comedy course that some comedians that were on tonight had attended, which he said later makes him feel rather proud. For me, I don't really mind what acts are on. I'd happily watch Ronnie rant and tell us tales of Princess Margaret and the grinning head of death all night.

Paddy Lennox came on first and was a good opening act. There was a slightly hack routine about the difference between cats and dogs (cats are bastards - dogs are stupid), but this was rescued by the observation that cats like to show their arseholes, and dogs will do anything to hide it.

I noticed on Twitter that Wendy Wason is playing with Tara Flynn tonight (Tuesday) but hadn't heard her name before. Well, she was up next and she was Richard's favourite act of the night. I thought she was pretty excellent too. Definitely someone I'll see again.

Fortnight Club regular Tony Cowards came on next. He is best described as a west country version of Milton Jones or Gary Delaney, and as you can imagine, someone that relies on that many one liners has to write a hell of a lot of them, and on a new material night there's no guarantee they'll all work. They didn't. But when a run of one liners fall flat, that's funny in itself!

We had an interval. A good interval. A solid 3 stars.

Nathan Caton

In the second half we had Nathan Caton opening. I have seen him before, and he has a particular charm that makes him extremely likeable. He tried out a new routine about his West Indian grandmother coming to school to tell his teacher off in front of his class for giving the lactose-intolerant Nathan milk. All good stuff and I'd definitely recommend you see him.

Mark Swan
Irish comedian Mark Swan was on next. This was also his first ever UK gig. He had spoken to Bob during the interval and asked if he minded being used in his act as his old headmaster. Bob had already attracted the attention of all the previous comedians so one more wasn't going to hurt.  So he pointed out his surprise that his old headmaster had turned up and that he was thrilled to see him. There were no other headmaster references till right at the end, and eventually the gag paid off. Oh, he did also show us that if you look at a map of Ireland on it's side that it looks like a little dog.

Finally it was tonight's headline act - Steve Hall. I had seen him a couple of times before. Once, I think as Fat Tuesday and once more recently at Sunday Hullabaloo at The Wilmington Arms. He's a funny guy. His gag about telling people he was in a very low rated show on BBC3 went down well, as the lack of response or recognition of it had proved his point. I think there were about three We Are Klang fans who quietly whooped at that point. Anyway Steve is an excellent comedian and would definitely be worth the admission price alone.

Steve Hall
Unusually for The Fortnight Club, it seemed very male tonight. Usually the performers are pretty evenly split between the sexes, and I think we like it like that. A slight disappointment at the lack of the advertised Holly Walsh, though I think the nature of new material nights mean that the line up can be rather fluid. People can drop out, and of course people can play unannounced. Ronnie mentioned that Lenny Henry had played before, but "never again - his autocue was terrible" - yes this is a true story. Lenny Henry has indeed done little gigs with autocues and a team of writers in attendance.

I'm sidetracked now. Oh yes, the lack of ladies. Mary Bourke wasn't on tonight - another disappointment, but she has been bragging on Facebook that she is working in Bali so we'll forgive her for that. So yes - more female comics next time please if you can please chaps.

Perhaps they've entered so many Funny Women competitions that they can't afford the bus fare.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The most disgusting thing I've ever seen

Stephen Merchant
These were the words of Lost Quattros Cvnts' first ever walk out! Michael announced this to the packed out venue with a certain matter of pride towards the end of the show. To be honest, I've seen worse. I thought the Cvnts were relatively mild. And in any case, what did that lady expect to see. There's a clue in the title. And the quote will look good on the next poster.

So another month has arrived, and it was time to head down to Cvnts once more. Could it top last month's awesome gig here by Al Murray? This month we had the legendary Stephen Merchant to look forward to. I had seen him once before a year or two at The Old Queen's Head (handily situated less than 5 minutes walk from my house) as he was a secret guest at the Comedy Gold night which also featured Richard Herring and he was astounding. Michael Legge has said he was the best comedian he has ever seen when he did the circuit in the days before "The Office".

Also on the bill was Tara Flynn, who I have usually seen as one of the core performers of The London Comedy Improv, but more recently has had some success with her "Big Noise" show. OK, so Michael had announced that it would be Catie Wilkins, but there had been a terrible admin error, and Tara bravely stepped in at the last minute. We have however been promised Catie in May.

My friend Marco had to organise his works night out and asked me for some suggestions. After discounting London Comedy Improv (as it was 2 days before pay day) I told him about this, and he seemed keen. Anyway, he was running late but texted me a description of his workmates for me to say hello to. I think he underestimated the amount of people, as well as my willingness to speak to strangers.

I decided to walk to the venue. It was such a nice day and i had an hour to kill. I remember walking to town a lot last summer and will probably do this more. It gives me the illusion that I'm being healthy. Outside I met Rob, Bob, 2 of Rob's friends, Jack, and we headed downstairs. The queue took a long time to move but once we were in, I found that the always lovely Muki had organised a table for four of us right at the front. Unfortunately (logistically) 2 more people had turned up so we couldn't all fit together. I was trying to work out how to fill these seats the best I could and there was a slight awkwardness as people saw 2 empty seats at the front and kept trying to sit in them, so I decided to grab Jack and Misha from the bar and plonk them beside us.

The gig was sold out tonight. I'm quite sure this is the first time this has happened and they had to turn 40 people away. So a quick tip; if you're coming to LQC, especially when a name comedian is on, get to the venue for 7pm.

LQC came on with air flutes, passing it from one to another as the song went on. It was finally passed to a front row audience member who, judging by the sound of it, clearly had no idea how to play the air flute. Silly person. They then explained that they hadn't written any sketches (which I think turned out to be true!), but decided to plow ahead anyway. Paul and Jeremy's baby characters were both cute and funny as ever, with Jeremy's occasional ear piercing shriek taking Paul by surprise. We were also promised Elizabeth Taylor's "last ever sketch". When this arrived, the Cvnts quickly decided which roles they should play, and as they had never seen it before, excitedly launched into it. However we soon found out that Liz wasn't the Michael Jackson hugging, gay-loving superstar we thought she was, unleashing a torrent of foul language and homophobic abuse, much to The Cvnts embarrassment. I think it was as this point the "digusted" lady left. We got Sean Goldsworthy again, this time reading his classic "homoeroticker", which was equally hilarious and arousing, no matter what your sexual orientation.

Tara Flynn was the first guest, and as usual, her charm shone through. She played four songs: Bjork Song, The Fog From The Film The Fog, Custard, and a fantastic (thought slightly shambolic) Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue parody, backed by Precious Little's James Hingley on guitar, and joined by Michael on vocals. As Michael said later when I asked about this video, it was something "you had to be there" for, but I think it's worth preserving this in people's memories. By the way, sorry about the enormous glass but it was a hot night!

Landfill Hill


The interval was next. To be honest, I've had better. I felt I didn't make the most of it, and will definitely try harder next month.

It was time to announce the special guest. It wasn't a huge secret so hardly a surprise, but Stephen Merchant got a huge round of applause. He started by talking about when he first became famous, and the various articles he had appeared on, showing us his first ever picture in a national newspaper (he had disappeared out of the top of the frame) and his first interview, where he was called Stephen Mitchell. He also told us about an article after he had been spotted dancing. Unfortunately this was rather spoiled by someone shouting out "albatross". If you're going to heckle, make it funny. Don't just say the punchline to the joke! Twat.

He explained that the purpose of his upcoming tour was to find a wife, and told us all about the difficulties he has in his sex life at the moment, mainly related to his height.

A super night out indeed. Michael gave us clues at the end who the special guest for next month is. I won't repeat them here, mainly because Paul doesn't seem as confident that they'll get him. (Damn - that's a clue - he's a man. Or is he?) Suffice to say that if they manage it, for me, this will be the bext special guest they have ever had (bear in mind they've already had Jason Manford, Al Murray, Richard Herring and now Stephen Merchant)

Buy Tara Flynn's album, and to finish, here is her video clip of "The Fog From The Film The Fog"

Monday, 4 April 2011

Gary Numan - Back To The Phuture

I think I might become a Buddhist. Karma is real. I found this out after giving my Rock Band drum kit to my old pal Matt. He offered me cash, but I honourably declined. He said he would buy me a pint next time I saw him, but he only went and won a competition for 2 guest list tickets to see Gary Numan at The Troxy and gave one to  me.

Now Matt likes to get a good spot as he has filmed some great live footage in the past. He said he would be there around 3pm. Doors didn't open till 6pm and Gary wasn't due on till 10:30. Now I don't trust myself in that situation and would have probably got drunk and leg cramps if I had gone that early. No one else on the bill really interested me, although I wouldn't have minded seeing John Foxx.

As I've said before I've been a big fan of Gary Numan for many years. "Are 'Friends' Electric?" came out in 1979 and I've followed him ever since, seeing him live on a number of occasions. I managed to meet Gary a couple of times: once outside the STV studios in Glasgow when he was there to do an interview and again at the launch party for the "Random" tribute album. He's a nice guy, and remarkably approachable. I met him again at Reading Festival a few years later. I was there with my ex, who had banned me from playing his music when he was round, but at the time he had a local radio show and wanted me to get an interview. I had a chat with his wife who introduced Greg to Gary and they had a lovely little chat, while I sat on the side lines with the wife, seething with jealousy.

Anyway, after a dreadful journey on the Hammersmith & City line I got to the venue. It was a brilliant venue. Much nicer than the likes of the Shepherds Bush Empire that I've seen him more often than any others. My mate and also my flat mate had been to see Morrissey there last year and both of them said the same.

Matt was right down the front so there was no hope of seeing him, but he texted me to say that a couple of people I haven't seen for many years, possibly the 90s were in attendance. I sent Jon a message and managed to meet up with him and Karen and we managed to get a fairly good vantage point front right.

Gary opened with an epic version of Down In The Park, which was the single before AFE that has since been covered by the likes of Foo Fighters and Marilyn Manson. The stage looked amazing with huge LED screens that showed some pretty awesome images, but best appreciated towards the end of the gig when i had moved to the back of the room. A few other older tracks were played, such as That's Too Bad and Zero Bars, and of course AFE.

Some new songs from the upcoming Splinter album were played, such as Captured Underground Noise Transmission and The Fall, and he even through in a new song that he had only written on Monday (Everything Comes Down To This?), which was a brave move. Out of the new songs, this one was probably the weakest and could do with a little more work, although Gary did tell us in advance it was going to be rough!

Gary was energetic as usual, banging his head, thumping the stage with his mic stand and throwing some shapes. He seemed to be having a great time too. Anyway, my hangover from the morning was really catching up with me, and I felt sad to be leaving early, but I was exhausted. All in all, a great night out and even though he has been performing now for 33 years still as fresh as ever.

There was a documentary on Sky Arts about Gary that I couldn't see because I was at the gig. And I don't have Sky, but hopefully I'll be able to track it down somewhere. Any ideas?

Incidentally, Gary is now on Twitter - @numanofficial

I recorded a few videos on my phone which were not too bad, but they suffer from rather poor sound quality. I have put a couple of them after Matt's much better quality movies. Thanks to him for putting these up, and thanks again for the ticket!

1. Crash

2. Films

3. Haunted

4. Everything Comes Down To This

5. Zero Bars (Mr Smith)

6. Pure

7. Halo

8. Down In The Park (poor phone camera quality)

9. Captured Underground Noise Transmission (poor phone camera quality)

A couple more tracks - this time from supilangweilig on youtube:

10. I Die: You Die

11. Are "Friends" Electric?

Update: Thanks to AK on the comments below I have found the Re:Invention documentary. OK, it's recorded off the telly and there are Danish subtitles, but if you want to check it out, it's here