Wednesday, 30 November 2011

My Name Is Gandhi

I wasn't feeling well so I was planning a night in. I had even turned down Sarah's invitiation to Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown. But it was Fat Tuesday, which is just a short walk from my house. Paul Sinha and Tiffany Stevenson were on so it was pretty tempting, and then I got  Facebook message to say that Greg Davies was going to appear too. My mind was made up!

I got there around 7:45 and got what is becoming my usual seat at the left side of the front row. A couple sat beside me, and spent the 20 minutes till show time snogging. I buried my face deeper into my Kindle! 

Greg Davies
  Nish Kumar is the new host of Fat Tuesday and he has reduced the capacity of the room, making it more comfortable, and less death trap like, however on the two visits I've made, the audiences have been smaller than in Tiernan's time. On a personal level however, this is right up my street. The smaller the better.

Joe Lycett

First up tonight was Joe Lycett, who I have never seen live, mainly because of his character in "Epic Win". He is younger looking in the flesh, and he spent some time talking about his experiences as a bisexual, as well as introducing the audience to Grindr. He asked if anyone had seen Epic Win, and it seems only two of us had. He spoke to me about it, and I felt quite horrible telling him that I hadn't seen him earlier because of this! Still, he did his Epic Win voice which was surprisingly loud (and butch) for such a slight man. He had already asked me to explain my "Who Is Virgilio Anderson" t-shirt, but I told him it would be quicker to ask Richard Herring as it is a rather long story. (He said that as Herring was rather highbrow, and that as his act was going to start with jokes about farting I had better leave.) He also spoke of the time he performed on the same bill as Jim Davidson and how he managed to make him realise that "Chink" is not an acceptable noun to use.

Tiff Stevenson
Old Rope's Tiff Stevenson was up next, though most people will know her as the runner up on "Show Me The Funny" (a series that started terribly, but got better as it went on. A sort of X Factor for professional comedians that was eventually won by Pat Monahan).
However I and other Precious Little "podophiles" know her for James' mum's bucket.

She told us of the expectations other people have of her as a woman in her thirties, such as having children, and shocked the nice middle aged couple in the 2nd row with a couple of well placed "C-bombs"

Hari Kondabolu
 After the interval we had an Asian-American comedian called Hari Kondabolu who I hadn't heard of before. However he was excellent. He was just geeky enough for me. He did a joke about chess, which got a couple of sniggers, to which he respnded with "Ah. You're a draughts audience" (he had just changed the punchline from "Checkers"

The amazing Greg Davies came on to do 15 minutes of new material, though I'm sure I have seen some of it before. Poor Greg was suffering and didn't look well at all. He apologised to the audience if they came down with anything in the next few days. He was telling us of strange nicknames that people at his school had (eg "Baghdad" because he came to school with a bag bought by his dad!) and "Bad Back Brown" (who was a kid at school who hurt is back for just one day and the name stuck). He told us he had asked audiences what nicknames they had and a camp young man said he got called "Gandhi", simply because he was gay and his name was Andy. I may well adopt that.

Paul Sinha
 Paul Sinha came to close the show. Paul always starts his shows by explaining that he is Asian, gay, a former doctor and 24th best quizzer in the country. He told us of his interviews on radio with controversial figures: one time with the deputy leader of the BNP (while in his bath) which I had heard before as well as a story where he was interviewed about Islam (which is odd as he is a Hindu) alongside Anjem Choudary, as well as the time Jim Davidson came to see his show.

A double Davidson night!

After apologising to Joe for being mean, I had a chat with Paul and Nish after the show and accompanied them towards Angel station. They are two very lovely guys as well.

I'm glad I have "rediscovered" Fat Tuesday. I used to go almost every show back in 2009 but haven't been since. I'll be back more regularly in future though.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Dara O'Briain & Friends - Benefit for the Irish Cultural Centre

My friend and I had a deal. A couple of years ago I wanted to go and see The Jesus Lizard but had no one to go with. No one had heard of them. no one wanted to go. So I bought my mate a ticket on the understanding that if he wanted to go to a gig in the future but needed someone to go with then i would go to it, whatever it was.

Last week he bought 2 tickets to Dara O'Briain at The Palace Theatre, and as it had almost sold out we got our own box. This was much different to the usual spit and sawdust comedy nights I usually go to.

We got there, and ordered our incredibly expensive drinks as well as pre-ordering our interval drinks and headed to our lovely little box. The evening started off with some fiddle-dee-dee music from "Four Men And A Dog" and continued with some Riverdancing types with lights on their shoes (who I have to admit were excellent!)

Dara, our compere came on, and did a cracking set to warm up the crowd for what was to come. He spent a lot of time on a story about how he had saved 2 people's lives and asked the audience if they had done the same, which resulted in some great banter. Jason Byrne was up next. I had only seen him on TV before (in fact that goes with everyone on the bill) and hadn't paid him that much attention but he did a cracking show. We had a little more fiddle-dee-dee and then it was the interval.

Dara came on to apologise for the late start of the second half but apparently there was a "fracas" at the bar, and he sarcastically thanked the largely Irish crowd for reinforcing national stereotypes. Andrew Maxwell was up next and, again, I hadn't paid him too much attention before, but he is certainly someone I would see again. I was very excited that the "secret special guest" was Tommy Tiernan. I have seen him on TV a few times and have been wanting to see him live for ages!

He came on to the stage, punctuating his punchlines with kung fu kicks. His material addressed his own problems with his own mental illness and had a very touching story about his younger brother with cerebral palsy and his dad's reaction when discovering a possibly mentally ill baboon in a safari park. Brilliant stuff. Strangely there was a shouting man on our floor (luckily we were safe in our box). I'm not sure what he was angry about. Could he have misinterpreted Tommy's jokes and got offended? Or (more than likely) could he have been the man causing the fracas in the bar earlier? Either way Tommy cracked on, and possibly didn't even notice this commotion.

The show ended with a little more hip hop riverdancing and fiddle-dee-dee followed by a an informal chat between the 4 comedians. What surprised me more was that the very end of the show had Jason Byrne in just trousers and vest riverdancing round the stage solo and very competently too. I got my video fired up for this, but the bloomin' file got corrupted. Damn.

Dara tweeted later that had been threatened after the gig by someone who wanted to punch him. Either this was a surprisingly violent crowd who just don't like jokes, or the fracas / shouting man had struck again!

It was a nice close to my week of gigs, and I skipped all the way home.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Stewart Lee - Carpet Remnant World

I wonder if I go to Leicester Square Theatre too much. The manager today queried my choice of seat. "R14? That's not like you". R14 is the seat right at the back of the theatre which no one would generally choose, but as I just needed one ticket decided it would be fine.

Stew hovered at the top of the stairs while his intro music played and strode down the aisle once there was enough dry ice on the stage. He explained near the beginning that he had no real narrative, but he had to choose a title, and that 2 minutes from the end of the show he would mention the title while some sad music played. So it was good to know what to expect.

Stew started with a great opening line asking who remembers where they were during 9/11. You know, the bolting horse? (Spoiler / punchline not included!) He touches on travellers, and has a decent stab at a few Muslim jokes. His usual technique of gesturing at a large swathe of the audience and casting them as the new fans who only know him from his Comedy Vehicle series (who he hates) and the old fans (who again all happen to be sitting in the same general area of the theatre). He reminisces about the jungle canyon rope bridges from the 80s and the fact that they are all broken. This turns into a routine about Thatcher and Scooby Doo, after which Stew reveals that he and Richard Herring wrote a list of 10 topics they would never cover as they were too cliched: 2 of them being Thatcher and Scooby Doo.

Seat R14 was actually awful. If it wasn't the staff wandering around in front of me it was the audience getting up and down to go to the toilet. I moved to prop up the bar for the second half.

In this half he touches again on comedy and that being a dad and also constantly travelling from provincial theatre to provincial theatre means that he hasn't done anything. The modern comedians all go on adventures. Richard Herring even grew a moustache and that was funny. He calls Dave Gorman the Mr Benn of comedy (but as is often the case when talking about his contemporaries, it's just harmless ribbing! The back of the stage are various rolls of carpet remnant of various colours and lengths, which transfer into a gorgeous city skyline at the end of the show.

I quickly spoke to Stew on my way out and told him how much I enjoyed both this show and Bridget Christie's sitcom and scuttled off into the night. From his brief reply it looks like something will happen with it but I don't know whether it's destined for radio or TV. I don't know why but I feel so intimidated interacting with him. Anyway, go and see the show. He's only on here till February!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Richard Herring - What Is Love Anyway?

After sorting out racism and religion in his previous tours, this year Richard sets out to destroy love. He explains that he hopes he isn't successful, as his girlfriend may not approve. This is a much sweeter show than previous ones, and he explores love from different angles. Are children capable of love? Richard thinks not. Is is impressive when a father tells people how much he loves his kids? Again, Richard thinks not.

I got to the Soho Theatre around 945 giving me just enough time to get a beer before going upstairs to the venue. I've never been here before and it's quite a nice room. Steep seats, and it's a surprise to find that the room holds 150 people. It feels much more intimate than that. I got a second row seat and we awaited Richard's arrival. There was of course a love theme to the pre-show music, and of course Howard Jones signalled the start of the show.

A very unusual heckle came right after Richard's logically twisted routine about doubling the amount of Ferrero Rochers he has to buy his girlfriend each year, resulting in a new slave trade in order to build the eventual full size pyramid. "You should have thought about that earlier" came the shout, before Richard mentioned that that was indeed the whole point of the routine.

The end of the show was beautiful, discussing his 100 year old grandmother who has Alzheimer's disease, over a soundtrack of Debussy's Clair De Lune. This was emotional without being mawkish, and gave the show a real punch with the audience laughing one minute, then being close to tears the next and back again. Richard said on Twitter yesterday that audiences seem to like this, but the critics see it differently. Personally I think it wraps the show up gorgeously, and like most Herring shows, gives us something to think about.

I overheard someone in the loos after say to his friend that it was like a lecture with some jokes, which i thought was a little harsh, though I imagine he was hoping for a one-liner merchant like Tim Vine or Jimmy Carr. A slight annoyance for me was the man sitting directly behind me who kept muttering the punchlines, sometimes before they were even said by Richard. I don't know if he thought he was impressing his mate, but he wasn't impressing me!

I'm seeing Stewart Lee next, and to beat this show he will have to be on top form !

I haven't mentioned my favourite phrase of the whole show. In case you are wondering though, it is "Vaginal Frubes".

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Fun Haus

I had bought a ticket to this some time ago, but yesterday Sir Bob mentioned he wanted to go. I told him it was sold out but that I would look for a spare ticket on Twitter. With Martin White's help I discovered that Peter couldn't go and both myself and Andy T managed to nab his spare tickets. Andy and I texted backwards and forwards for a bit and he seemed like a nice guy, even though I hadn't met him. It took a while to work out the logistics of picking up the tickets but we worked out a plan. Peter also suggested putting the money to charity which was rather nice of him, so we decided to choose SCOPE.

I met Sir Bob at a pub in Kings Cross and we headed up the extremely long Caledonian Road. Inside the Pleasance we saw the lovely Rob Sedgebeer which is always a delight! (even though he is always mean to me!) and located Andy. Tickets were swapped and we headed upstairs. Things seemed to be running late. I thought I should nip to the loo but was told that if I did I couldn't come back till the interval as things were about to start. I decided I could wait, and soon Danielle Ward took to the stage for some "speed compering" as time was short.

Danielle explained the format of the show and about the loo situation to which Sir Bob let out an "Oh fuck..." Danielle, possibly thinking it was me, gave me special dispensation to go, so Bob and I hared down the stairs and we were back within 2 minutes after meeting Thom Tuck who seemed worried in case the second act was about to start.

The first show was a sitcom written by Bridget Christie based on The Mitford Sisters (cleverly disguised as The Flapper Sisters). What a cast. We had Margaret Cabourn Smith, Sue Perkins, Peter Serafinowitz and Colin Hoult. as well as others. This was set sometime in the past, but at a non-specific time (like Downton Abbey) so the characters were unsure if it was the 30s or the 40s. After lots of talk about tinctures, which appear to turn Unity Flapper into a fat Nazi, Bridget Christie arrived as "Coughing Mrs Broadwoodwidger" which was definitely the highlight for me.

Next up was a spy comedy written by the Penny Dreadfuls where the cast were joined by Tony Gardener (who know, that guy from Lead Balloon and Fresh Meat). This was written by The Penny Dreadfuls and contains all the little word twists you would expect of them. Colin Hoult was back, as was Sue Perkins. Colin's role as the Russian was all the better for occasionally lapsing into French.

After the interval was the musical half of the evening. Colin Hoult and Margaret Cabourn Smith sang 2 or 3 songs from Psister Psycho, a musical I have never heard yet but you can download free from iTunes. It's been sitting on my phone for some time so really must get round to it this week. The scene they played was one where the lead character (a shy virgin) discovers a boy trapped in a cupboard and of course, they fall in love. If you have only seen Gutted (also free to download on iTunes) then you'll love this too.

Tony Gardener was back next singing a new song from Ward and White. He seemed nervous, but did a great job as you would expect, one song being about being an angry bitter old man, where he pretended to be offended at being cast in this role, being only in his late 40s. Margaret came on next to do a hateful duet with Ruth Bratt , a song about 2 women in love with the same man, which was a much naughtier version of "I Know Him So Well".

Martin and Tony try to fix the accordion (photo stolen from Ruth Bratt)
The show ended with a Martin and the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra presenting a few songs from his new project "Mr Flea" about a flea circus. However ... disaster! Martin's accordion broke, and would only play one note as the button wouldn't come out! After borrowing various items from members of the audience, pens, tweezers etc, Martin retired backstage to try and fix it and Danielle took to the stage to tell us a few stories. Then, something magical happened. Danielle asked Jeremy Limb (on keyboards) if he could play "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, which Danielle smouldered into, before being joined by Margaret, where things turned a little more raucous. Although unplanned, this may have been my highlight of the entire evening.

Martin came back, defeated, accordionless, but the show must go on, and luckily Martin found an accordion found on his keyboard. Colin Hoult, Thom Tuck were joined by Gus Brown to sings a few songs from Mr Flea. Gus played the evil flea tamer perfectly, and the show ended with The Flea National Anthem "One Nation On A Dog". I recorded a few of the Mr Flea songs at Union Chapel a few weeks ago which I will add below.

Ward & White's Fun Haus is a delight. Tickets also go fast - both nights so far have sold out - so when the date of the next one is announced, get that ticket immediately!

The Wisdom Of Animals

The Flea National Anthem

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Return to Fat Tuesday

There have been a few changes at this long running local comedy club. First of all, no Tiernan Douieb, which is obviously a shame. They have also spaced the chairs out for a bit more safety and comfort, turning a packed 70ish capacity room into a much more relaxed 40 seat place. Much more less of a fire trap.

It's been over a year since I've been here. I don't know why it's taken me so long as I've always had a good time. Up until 750, there were only 6 of us in, but between 8pm and 820 another 25 people arrived. I'm not sure why they were so late as the gig was meant to start at 8pm.

The compere was Ed Gamble who did a pretty good job getting the room on side and picking on poor Connor for his poor clapping skills. As is normal in comedy clubs he asked the front row what they did for a living and where they came from and i wasn't spared this. It's always fun yet slightly embarrassing explaining to comedians what I do (and if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you) and Ed wasn't sure if I was making it up or not.

I was chosen as the designated clapper to bring on the first act, Matthew Crosby. He's the bearded one from Pappy's, whose Flatshare Slamdown (download it from that link for free) I am a huge fan of. He was trying a lot of new material and had to refer to his notes a lot but was rather funny, teaching us about the awkwardness of introductions when you only know one person's name, his hypochondria and lying.

Daniel Simenson
Next up was Daniel Simenson, quite a cute young Norwegian guy. He spoke quite slowly, thinking about each line, leaving a lot of room for the lines to breathe. The audience left quite a few silences too, but mostly laughed. His squirrel impression was a bit too derivative of Izzard for me, but I did like the end of the gig when he went back over the ideas that didn't work, and questioned why he thought they were funny in he first place.

Chris Stokes
After the break Chris Stokes came on. He's not from London! Shocking. He's a short skinny cross between Bernard Butler and Professor Brian Cox, and mainly spoke about his geekiness (which a lot of people do in comedy these days) but the highlight (for us, not him) was telling us about getting sexually harassed by a tramp the last time he visited London.

Finally Simon Munnery arrived to do his "Hats Off To The 101ers" show. I would definitely put him down as one of the top 3 comedians working today. He has influenced my other favourites (Lee & Herring) and is absolutely mesmerising. He played a few songs ("Sainsburys", "Stop The War") and decided to rip apart the lyrics to John Lennon's "Imagine". There were a few people here tonight who clearly didn't know who he was and I could only imagine what they thought when the Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall-alike took to the stage (well, floor) but everyone was won over quickly apart from the one audience member who walked out fairly sharpish.

And this is just the start of my comedy week. I still have Fun Haus, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee and Dara O'Briain to go...