Wednesday, December 31, 2008

They've found Tom!

I felt like a bit of an escapist experience this week, so ended up going to see "The Great Escape" at the cinema.
It was grand to see it on the big screen again. It took me back to my experience of seeing it at the cinema as a little boy, and being totally blown away by it.
Watching the tunnelling stuff in a large darkened room really boosts the claustrophobic effect.
Since I virtually know the screenplay off by heart, I paid more attention to what was going on in the background of a lot of the scenes.
There is so much more to follow in the cinematic image as opposed to the compressed TV format.
For example, in the "4th of July party" scene, where all the POWs are getting trashed on locally distilled hooch, there is some hilariously bad acting by the extras.
They've obviously been told to "appear drunk" , but are doing this in a very unconvincing way by swinging their cups from side to side in a piratey fashion, with smaller groups linking their arms, and swaying about like an old music hall act.
There's also a "Hitler youth" kid who appears in the background of a number of scenes, as a form of Nazi window dressing.
James Coburn's Australian "accent" is still just as funny after all these years.
and Danny ("Tunnel King") played by Charles Bronson, still wears the most disgusting pair of brown corduoroy trousers to escape in, (presumably he was concerned about how his nerves would hold up in the tunnel?)

There are some bits of the film that seem more than a little unlikely, (apart from Steve McQueen's fence-jumping-motorbiking...obviously)
For instance, after the escape a few of the POWs head to the train station to catch the next train out of there.
Isn't this maybe chancing things?
Wouldn't the Germans have suspected this, and checked everyone arriving at the station?
I'd have stayed in the woods, but that might have made the film less interesting?
Also, it's difficult to imagine the circumstances in which a non-German speaking American pilot and a blind, English ornithologist, could penetrate the undoubtedly high security around a German air base, and nick off with one of their planes.
But this is nit is still the classic adventure yarn.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Ok, watch this, it's very funny, ("funny" being a prized commodity in light of the relentless shite I've been watching on television for the last couple of days).
There was a landmark moment on "Match of the Day" last week.
Highlights of Hull City v Sunderland were being shown.
They both favoured stripey tops and dark shorts.
Yes, very interesting, but if you turned down the colour on the TV to "black and white" level they were virtually indistinguishable.
Has the day now arrived whereby no-one in Britain has a designated black-and-white telly?
Maybe the credit crunch will instigate a comeback? It's a cheaper license isn't it?
I kept my "Strictly Come Dancing" fan of a brother informed of the progress of the final as he dined in a Birmingham restaurant.
I eventually informed him that all the couples were level at the end, and they had been asked to do a "Charleston" with no prior rehearsal to decide the overall champion.
Much to my amusement he believed my cruel deception.
The positive element of this escapade is that rolling on the floor, kicking your legs in the air is a very effective aerobic exercise.
The amazingly talented Mark Lawrenson has been prattling on for weeks about how Robbie Keane can't fit into Liverpool's "system" and has no long term future at the club.
He seemed to play really well yesterday, scoring two goals in the 3-0 victory over Bolton.
I was curious to hear the great football philosopher's comments on this phenomenum after the game.
He didn't mention it.
Money for old for old rope...
My "Hackney" endeavors weren't mentioned at all over Christmas Dinner by my family.
They're a tough audience to impress...
I've been criticised in the last couple of days for being too eager to drop a reference on it into a conversation at a relatively early stage, as well as being slagged off for being too coy overall about it.
So that's more mentions from me...!
I watched the second half of Rangers losing to Celtic today after a bit of a yomp round Holyrood Park.
A few years ago I would have been gutted at witnessing the debacle of the Gers losing at home to an eminently beatable Celtic side.
Today, I din't really feel anything, and found myself getting progressively bored watching it.
Bored? Watching an Old Firm game?
What is happening to me?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cor Blimey!

So anyway, I've been insanely busy at work for the last couple of weeks. By the time I get home I'm mentally frazzled and find the complicated plot structure of "Pingu The Penguin" a little too difficult to follow, so I just crash out.
I then rounded off the week with a lacklustre gig at The Stand in Glasgow.
I started and finished well, but there was a rather elongated mid-set slump.
I was chatting to some audience members at a break, and a few of them said that they thought I was funny and really liked me, but that they were too familiar with my material, having seen me several times doing a similar set.
I've always worried that this might be the case, particularly on Sunday nights in Glasgow where Michael Redmond has a cult following of regular attendees.
It was good to hear people say that though...
I thanked them and promised that on my next Sunday night there I would do a set of entirely new material, hopefully...
On a brighter note, I heard yesterday that I'm through to the final of the "Hackney New Act of the Year" competition on 17th January 2009.
I knew I'd had a really good gig in the heat, but experience has taught me to prepare for disappointment and treat anything else as a bonus.
The thought of possibly winning something like that doesn't enter my chance...(well I would say that, wouldn't I?)
However, being introduced by one of my great comedy heroes, Arthur Smith, at the legendary Hackney Empire in front of 1500 people...Well, I'll have some of that!
That will be such a blast...!
Obviously, I hope I don't catastrophically die on my arse...but I've no fear about it. I'm just looking forward to having a bit of an adventure...
Apparently, the crowd can be quite feisty, and I can't rule out the possibility of hearing a resounding chorus of "Fack Off... You Cant!" ,sung to the tune of "Amazing Grace", echoing round the cavernous theatre as I depart from the stage.
But hopefully this won't happen.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I wish it could be Xmas every day! (I don't really...)

So anyway, I found a film of this fat twat doing stand-up comedy...
There's definitely some kind of potential there though, doncha think? chortle chortle
Actually, I'm a bit disappointed with this clip.
For some reason the sound is very muffled, and gives the impression that the clip was recorded using some prehistoric condenser microphone.
It was a very lively night, and the clip doesn't really reflect that...(I would say that though, wouldn't I?)
I've been under the cosh somewhat in my daytime job, working long hours and getting mentally frazzled.
This has played havoc with my Xmas social commitments, and has resulted in me having to make several cancellations.
It's somewhat irritating to see people coming back from big boozy lunches, laughing and joking as I sit hunched behind my computer with an expression frozen in angst.
(quite similar to the facial expression that Paul Ince is currently favouring)
Mind you, my liver is having an unexpected holiday, as this time of the year is normally its "crazy time".
I decided to go the gym today but it was closed for redecoration.
I was hoping that the ventriloquist dummy was going to win "X-Factor" last night, but unfortunately he was the first to be eliminated.
However, the fact that a ventriloquist dummy was able to get all the way to the final must give all the nation's ventriloquist dummies incredible confidence and hope for the future.
There was a strange segment in the programme in which they paraded a selection of the most bizarro auditionees to come out and do an ensemble version of "Thank You For The Music".
It all felt very wrong...
There were obviously some singers who knew they were mental and crap and rejoiced in it.
However, there were also some who (judging from the auditions) actually believed they had star potential in spite of massive evidence to the contrary, and argued vehemently against their elimination.
It was quite sad to see them swallow their pride and appear in a "Parade of Shite" for our "entertainment".
The problem is, singing out of tune isn't really funny, it's just extremely painful to listen to.
I don't usually watch X-Factor though, ok?
I was just having a tea break from work.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

And another thing....

I neglected to mention that the much esteem'd Electric Mouse comedy club was started up again last week at Espionage in Victoria Street.
Graeme Harkins did a sterling job compering, with Tommy Mackay, Me, The Hobbit, Martin McAllister and Gordon Alexander making up the bill.
We had a reasonable crowd in and they seemed pretty happy with the product, so we'll be doing another in January.
I was down in London this week, and did a "Hackney Empire New Act of the Year" show.
I'm pretty anti-competition, but this was a really enjoyable gig, and it was good to catch up with old muckers of the comedy world.
It didn't really feel like your typical, common-or-garden comedy competition show.
It's basically a heat, amongst several, from which they select a number of finallists to appear next year at the famed "Hackney Empire" of old London town.
There's no winners announced on the night as they just pick a selection after seeing all the heats ; therefore you avoid crushing disappoinment and can remain happily delusional for a while.
I had a really good gig but wondered later if I'd maybe crammed too much material into my spot, (I reverted to a babbling 100mph delivery...just like the old days...I really enjoyed it!)
The flight back to Edinburgh on the next day was horrendous.
There was really bad turbulence for the whole journey, and I couldn't wait to get off the cigar tube of death.
I am something of a nervous flyer, but can usually cope with it ok. However this pushed me to the limit, and I was on the point of running up and down the aisle screaming "We're all going to die!!!"
Thankfully, I didn't have an aisle seat, and this kept me restrained.
In the worst of the turbulence, I did feel a need to begin talking to the man beside me.
I think this is a primal urge, in that we feel the need to make some sort of contact, rather than die with a group of strangers you know nothing about.
Unfortunately, he turned out to be one of the most boring people I've ever met in my life.
In some ways this was a good thing, as he made the turbulence look good in comparison.
But hey...I made it!
I'll get the bus next time I think...
Talking of competitions, I had this idea for a new comedy competition.
It's called "Universally Funny Comedian Of The Year".
There will be a series of heats in different solar systems of the Universe, with a Grand Final next year on Earth (well it's my idea, so my planet should be allowed to host the inaugural final!)
(I'd thought of a good opening line for an act..."Well, I'm surprised there's no heat on the sun for this competiton! Aye thang u!)
To qualify you have to have lived in the Universe for the last 12 months, or be married to someone who's lived in the Universe for the last 12 months...
and that's about it...there's big money prizes and a vague promise of some gigs in deep space.
It's a winner, I think...!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feeling a bit fragile today....

Last night was the official post-Fringe wrap night out of the "No Comedy For Old Men" troupe.
A curry was followed by a Stand visit, then onwards to a party in Bruntsfield.
The evening commenced at 6pm, and ended when I got home at 5.15am
Unfortunately, drinking for 11 continuous hours has had the surprising effect of making me feel like absolute shit today.
Who would have thought it?
People should be warned about this...these adverts in posh casinos with people dancing about drinking "Cinzano Bianco" aren't telling the whole story.
It was a right old laugh of a night out though...very entertaining.
Last weekend at The Stand went really well, although the Saturday night was a fairly mediocre night for me.
2 out of 3 is pretty respectable though for the first time doing that spot.
The other bad news is that after 3 months and 3 days of smug righteousness, I slipped off the nicotine wagon, and succumbed to the lure of the coffin nail.
It's a comedy club's always at a comedy club that this happens...
Oh well, never mind...I'll stop again at New Year as is traditional.
I suppose the fact I haven't smoked for 3 months is still vaguely beneficial to my health.
I don't find giving up stressful, and don't use any aids like patches or chewing gum or owt like that.
It was beginning to get dark as I emerged from my pit today.
I hate when this happens...
A whole day has been is too short for that sort of shit.
Right, I'm off to the pub.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I took a bit of a tumble down the stairs outside my house last week and ended up smashing my ribs off the stone steps.
I was initially relieved that I hadn't broken any limbs or cracked my head, but found it difficult to get out of bed on the following day.
I was accompanied by a visiting Spanish dignitary, and she said it was "The funniest thing I have seen in my life ever!".
This sustained me in my time of crisis.
Now I've had quite a few injuries...I've broken my wrist, broken one of my metatarsal bones (long before it was fashionable), torn various knee ligaments and broken my scaphoid a couple of times...
However, if you took all these events and accumulated all the pain involved, it would still come nowhere near the level of pain I experienced when I sneezed the day after my fall.
I nearly passed out, and dropped to the floor in absolute agony.
I'd have confessed to anything at this point, if threatened with another sneeze.
I shudder to think what would have happened if I'd injured myself in summer and had one of my standard hay fever sneezing fits.
I think it would have killed me...I would have had to stay in a bubble until Autumn.
With the help of industrial quantities of codeine I've managed to cope with the pain, but it's been nasty.
On a lighter note, I'm spending the weekend doing the opening spot at The Stand, and am very happy with the way it is going.
It's the first time I've done this spot over a weekend, so I have to be pleased that so far I've had 2 solid gigs.
Jason Cook is also on the bill, and I've been mesmerised by his brilliance as a performer.
He's one of these acts that you watch as a comedian and think "what is the point?", in terms of your own act.
I've undoubtedly had a couple of really good gigs, but watching Jason take the roof off really puts things into perspective.
To employ a musical metaphor, it was like I was playing a kazoo solo for 15 minutes on stage, before making way for John Coltrane to play some tasty jazz sax.
He's such a totally natural performer, it's sickening.
It's a really good line-up though all round, and everyone has been doing well...
Still one night to go though...hope I'm not tempting fate by prematurely proclaiming the weekend a success. Ha Ha.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Father Jack

I intended not to drink yesterday, and had earmarked the day to kick-start an ambitious 7 day abstinence from the evil that is alcohol.
Unfortunately there were problems.
I’m entertaining tomorrow night and decided to make a stew with guinness to feed my celebrity friends.
I only needed one can of guinness, but was shocked to discover that my local Sainsburys mini-store only sold cans of guinness in 4-packs.
I panicked and ended up buying 4 cans.
Of course, having used one can for cooking purposes, I decided that the fridge was getting dangerously cluttered and it would be sensible to drink the remaining 3 cans and allow the fridge to function more efficiently and emit less CFCs.
I’ve heard it said that people who have an alcohol problem will effectively be in denial for a long time before accepting their condition, and will typically use an enormous range of pathetic excuses to justify their drinking practices.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s a load of old nonsense.
In fairness, I deserved a drink after participating in a football match in which I fearlessly saved a thunderbolt shot with my testicles.
Disappointingly, we still lost heavily…
Today is the Glenrothes by-election.
It must be very disappointing for Glenrothes that the election is happening so soon after the US election, and has been more or less completely ignored by the media.
This is a shame, as a by-election gives a town a unique opportunity to promote itself to a UK audience through the regular TV coverage leading up to the day of the poll.
A lot of tourism potential has been missed.
If you are a fan of the St James Centre in Edinburgh, then think of a hundred similar versions of it all in one town, and there’s Glenrothes for you.
It is an architectural gem of the highest order.
An ornate delight of concreting excellence.
They have pubs and everything!
Not that I’d be particularly interested in that because, to be honest with you, as far as alcohol goes, I can take it or leave it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So Long Dubya!

Having decided to join the gym at work, I dragged myself in at lunchtime to get an idea of my current level of fitness.
I was not impressed.
I was a lot fitter when I was smoking.
I think the problem is that having given up smoking (nearly 3 months now), I have been drinking more alcohol..
I’ve not been getting drunk or anything like that, so don’t give me any of your tsk tsk stuff.
However, I’ve got into the habit of having some alcohol every day, and it definitely has the effect of making you progressively more and more sluggish.
I never used to do this.
I noticed that my main man Melvyn Bragg never drinks alcohol during the first week of the month, in order to demonstrate to himself that he is in control of his habit.
So, if it’s good enough for Melvyn then it’s good enough for me.
He also acknowledges that occasionally he likes to drink a lot of alcohol.
I think this is fine unless you are one of these people who turn into a psycho after a certain amount of alcohol..
I just talk louder, make stupid jokes and then fall asleep.
Although, apparently I do have a predilection for talking/shouting in my sleep after a generous serving of alcohol.
Surprisingly, hardly anything has been written about this Ross/Brand “Manuelgate” episode, so here’s my fascinating thoughts on the issue….
I have never found Jonathan Ross funny at all.
I accept that a lot of other people think he is hilarious.
I respect their right to think this, but they are completely wrong.
Russell Brand is capable of genius both as a writer and a stand-up, but he wasn’t being very funny in this instance.
I hate the Daily Mail with a vengeance, but they had a point this time.
I’ve always found the £18 million Ross contract flabbergasting, and would much rather the money had been spent on an alternative range of smaller BBC projects.
This has nothing to do with “censorship”…
There’s lots of comment expressing worry that this will compromise the BBC’s “cutting edge” comedy. Ha Ha!
I very rarely enjoy any comedy on the BBC, and find the majority of their current and recent output to be garbage…
I’ve had my fill of the endless “panel games”, and recent sitcoms such as “Two Pints”, “Grownups” etc etc leave me totally bemused by their unrelenting awfulness.
And talking of Manuel, I once showed an episode of “Fawlty Towers” to a Mexican friend of mine and she thought it was ”the most racist television programme” she had ever seen.
What does this add to the debate?
I’ve no idea…
And it’s President Obama! woo hoo!
He’s not going to be a particularly radical president, mainly because the economy is in such a mess, he has very little room to manoeuvre.
However, it’s great to see that the number of people using their vote in America has rocketed.
The Republicans might struggle to win another election, as they’ve always been the main benefactors of the traditionally poor turnout.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vogue vogue vogue...

One of the benefits of working temporarily in a zany insurance office is that I get a chance to see what the current fashion trends are amongst urban professionals.
I'm thrilled to observe that the knitted tank top is making a big, big comeback.
It's also clear that some men are using the opportunity presented by a less rigid formal dress code (ie the tie is no longer compulsory), to wear their golf gear to the office.
Slacks, sleeveless golf shirts and Pringle sweaters are very much de rigeur.
It's a great privilege to be exposed to this high fashion sensibility on a daily basis, and I'm hoping that some of it will eventually rub off on me, and I will at last achieve my lifelong ambition of being a global style icon.
Other than fashion news, I decided to try the canteen today, and immediately regretted it ; although not as much as my colleague Nigel did, when presented with his salmon steak which looked like it had been cooked in the late 1960s and heated up for him today.
Looks like myself and fellow comedy man Graeme will be running a fortnightly comedy club at the Espionage in Edinburgh starting at the end of November.
We're planning on running it on a Friday night, early evening, and using the Fringe show format, ie an approximately 80 minute show with no interval.
The idea is that people have a chance to split the evening between comedy and being out on the lash/dancing.
Anyway, it will be an interesting experiment.
In exciting Home Improvement news, I'm getting the windows draught-proofed this week.
I reckon by 2039 this work will have paid for itself in the resultant energy savings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

9 To 5

One good thing is that I don't have to take the morning train, as it's only a 12 minute walk from my home to the office.
It's fair to say that my return to the wacky world of IT contracting is proving every bit as enjoyable as I had anticipated.
Pension Schemes' online transactions rock I tell you..., and anyone who disagrees is a right cunt!
I had a bit of a chuckle as I went and purchased a cup of tea at the cafe bit.
I think I've done about 8 separate contracts here over the last 10 years, and this guy has always served me my cuppa.
In spite of buying probably a four figure number of cups off him, he still refuses to acknowledge me with any pleasantry or greeting, or engage in the most perfunctory of idle banter.
He knows I always have a tea but he never second guesses my choice in a way that a friendly bartender might.
There is almost something gently re-assuring about his studied indifference to his customers.
No, it's not just me. I have discussed this with others who share the same experience.
If he ever says "So you're back! How are you doing? Tea?", the shock would probably kill me.
Had a hugely enjoyable gig at The Stand on Sunday, and it was grand witnessing Andrew O'Neill's glorious, nonsensical rambling for the first time. Quality.
There was also a young guy Stephen Callaghan doing a 5 minute spot, who I'd never seen before and thought was bleeding hilarious.
This lightened my mood, as I contemplated the next day shock of employment.
The first day was ok, but I perhaps ill-advisedly went out to watch "Red Raw" in the evening, and ended up slurping down 6 pints of Amstell lager whilst sharing witty badinage with the ample comedy radar blips of Gordon Alexander and Antony Murray.
All very entertaining, but left me feeling like shit on Tuesday morning.
Must try harder.
Watched the final episode of "Sunshine" with Steve Coogan.
To be honest it's all a bit twee, but it still left me choked at the end, shamelessly manipulating my vulnerable old emotions.
Yes, I am such a big fucking sap these days, you wouldn't believe.
I still can't be bothered with football..
I watched a bit of Man U v Celtic but got bored and switched over.
20 years ago that fixture would have been hyped for weeks in advance, and it would have been deemed unthinkable to miss it.
Tonight's match was completely devoid of edge and excitement.
I got a contract in the post today for a gig down south that I got by speculatively sending out my comedy cv and gig audio to a few promoters.
A simple event, but one that made me feel like a "proper" comedian.
And yes...I know, I know just how wanky that sounds...but does my face look bothered?
No it jolly well does there!
Don't judge me...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Woo Hoo! It's Winter Time....!

After a couple of problematic gigs followed by the cancellation in Glasgow, I had a cracker at the Heresy Club at the Jekyll & Hyde.
That bar has been something of a happy hunting ground for me of late.
Other thoughts.
The voices of "River Cottage" presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and "Channel 4 News" presenter Jon Snow are virtually indistinguishable.
I have cancelled my Cable Sports subscription.
I have finally realised that I have fallen out of love with football, (Kris Boyd's post-Scotland v Norway, stupid, scowling face and reading Chick Young's ludicrous BBC Blog helped me arrive at this decision), and would rather use time spent watching it doing something else.
I'm not paying these twats wages any more.
I'm bored with the obsession with "Champions League millions".
I'm pissed off that there is no great improvement in Scottish footballers' technique, in comparison with other nations.
I watched the last US Presidential Debate this week.
It was slightly more interesting than the preceding debates, in that they finally had a bit of a pop at each other.
It was all still faintly anodyne stuff though, and most of the debate "action" has been as interesting as watching 2 men conducting independent powerpoint presentations.
I think you have to go back to 1988 to when there was a real big moment in one of these debates.
This was a classic moment when Lloyd Bentsen caught Dan Quayle with a big sucker punch.
It's particularly noticeable that the audience were a lot more involved in those days.
The audience in the modern version are obviously told not to react vocally to anything that is said during the course of the debate.
I quite like this one as well...
Ronald Reagan's face is a picture as his "There you go again..." line is thrown back at him with interest.
All very entertaining, but in the end George Bush (the first) and Reagan still won the elections in question, so maybe they don't matter that much anyway.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Take Me To The Bridge

My Ryder Cup betting triumph has been somewhat overshadowed by the disastrous effect of the credit crunch on me poor old shares.
I don't want to dwell on this other than state it is just as well that I live in a basement flat.
By way of a new hobby,I have begun the practice of burning cash in a brazier in my back garden.
This is quicker and easier than buying shares, with the additional benefit that I don't have to pay dealing charges.
It's a win/win situation.
Things have come to such a sorry pass that I have been forced back into IT Contract slavery, and begin to serve another 3 month sentence on the 20th October.
It's a sair fecht.
Last Saturday presented an opportunity to return to the scene of this disastrous gig.
It remains my most catastrophic gig ever,and probably merits a top 10 position in the pantheon of "worst gigs experienced in the history of stand-up comedy".
But here was a chance of redemption...14 months after the event.
Comedy impresario, "Honest" Rick Molland drove myself and 2 other acts through to Glasgow for the evening.
By coincidence he had been the MC at my disastrous gig.
He took great delight in regaling the tale of my previous downfall to the other acts.
Oh how we laughed!
It's fair to say that a certain amount of exagerration has crept into the telling of the tale, but this is very much in the great storytelling tradition, and it would be churlish of me to object to it.
I expect that by this time next year, the legend will have it that an estimated total of 400 people walked out the gig as I ranted and raved , of which 23 later committed ritual suicide in Sauchiehall Street, so traumatised were they by my display.
But this time it was going to be different.
I was gig fit, and was ready to spring on stage like a lean, mean boxer and punch someone in the front row in the face, metaphorically, with my jokes.
In the end, 3 people showed up, and the gig was cancelled...
What made the night worthwhile was that we were afforded two views, from an east and west perspective, of the the new pedestrian bridge which has been placed at Harthill on the M8.
It has cost 5 million quid and was placed there by "the largest mobile crane in the world".
So to be among the first 10 000 or so people to have seen the bridge from the M8 made it a very special evening, in spite of our disappointment at the cancellation of the gig.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

27/09/04 Golf IS cool

And lo, it came to pass that the USA did in fact win the Ryder Cup...
It actually was a lot closer than the final score suggests, and could have gone either way, but anyway...a nice payday for me.
It's a real shame that the Ryder Cup is on "Sky", as it needs to get seen by a bigger audience.
It's the most gripping sports event of all, I think.
I'd compare the last day of the Ryder Cup to watching 5 hours of back-to-back penalty shootouts.
It's such a PR own goal by the Golf administrators to not sell the rights to a terrestrial channel...
Anyway, I suspect my "cool rating" is plummeting faster than a portfolio of Banking shares, as a result of my weird, evangelical ode to the great game of golf.
The golf bet was just a one-off and I am not resuming my football betting regime.
Having just watched Arsenal lose at home to Hull City served as a reminder of the dangers of football betting.
That is definitely the grandaddy of all coupon bustin' results, I'd say.
I just sent a text to an Arsenal supporting friend, who was at the game, asking if he knew who the comedian was who had the pet emu.
Ha Ha...amn't I the funny one...! what?
I jogged/walked to the top of Arthur's seat yesterday...
It was a cracking day, and I was joined at the top by a group of American tourists who cooed at what a fantastic view it was and what a "truly beautiful city" Edinburgh was.
After a few minutes a group of teenagers, with recogniseable local accents appeared.
One piped up loudly "Ya Cnut ya...! Imagine sledging doon that...!!!" as he surveyed the view from the summit.
I felt very proud.
On the way down, I met three witches...
They said something like "Teddy should win....but that Rab Brown, riding a black stallion still might pose a threat".
I've no idea what they were on about, but maybe it will become clear later?
I woke up in the middle of the night and started jotting things down which seemed funny at the time, but in the cold light of day I'm not sure...but I'll give them a bash at a gig on Tuesday...
...well here's what I wrote...
I was in Canada and I was talking to a Grizzly Bear.
I said "Have you ever killed a salmon with your bare hands?"
He said "Yes" a sarcastic tone.

Do you know when you're trying to take off a wellington boot, and you're easing your foot out, and sometimes you leave the sock behind in the boot, when you finally pull it out?
That's a bit like when you take your jumper off and your t-shirt comes off at the same time, isn't it?
That's my observational humour bit.

And, I've got 2 hurricanes chatting to each other.
"Did you see me? did you see me? I took the roof off!"

I also have started a new treatment aimed at obese women with self-esteem issues.
I'm calling my approach, "Hippotherapy".

I saw a cracking film last night.
It was a German film called "The Wave".
It's about a teacher at a High School in Germany who has a week to teach his class about the political doctrine "Autocracy".
He decides to fully immerse his pupils in the subject, and for the week they create a "movement" and explore the ideology of the greater good of the "group" subjugating that of the individual.
Of course, things get a little out of hand.
There were a few moments when credulity was stretched, but overall a compelling movie.
It's like a reverse of "Dead Poets Society".
I have to say that it did at times make the conversion to a fascist mentality enormously appealing and fun, even though, of course, I would oppose this happening.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

16/09/08 Awesome

I recommend you go to see "Man On Wire".
What a brilliant, absolutely compelling tale.
I still can't believe he had the balls to do that.
There was something very eerie about his total self-belief and nervelessness.
I suspect I'm not the first person to say so, but it was great to be presented with
an amazingly memorable, uplifting image in the context of the twin towers, rather than forever associating them with the gruesome footage of planes smashing into the the buildings.
I also saw "The Mighty Boosh" live.
Very funny, but a little bit too much playing at being rock stars with their Boosh Band.
The bits I find funniest are the front-of-curtain banter sections with the 2 of them just riffing with each other and the audience.
When I watched "Morecambe & Wise" as a kid, it was always the similar thing they did at the start of the show which was my favourite bit.
I was never a fan of the big musical numbers or patchy sketches.
I have now gone a month without smoking, as the latest campaign to free myself from the evil addiction gathers momentum.
That's the good news...the bad news is I have to lose some weight again.
As usual I'd lost a fair amount during the Fringe, but coupled with not smoking, I've approached September and food with the attitude of a bear emerging from hibernation, scoffing anything that moves.
Last night I sat down on a stool and it buckled and broke.
This was maybe about to happen regardless of who sat on it, but I can't be sure and I can't afford the expense of hiring a structural engineer to analyse the stool to determine if there had been a certain amount of pre-existing, inherent weakness in the stool.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

13/09/2008 My Lovely Ryder Cup

I took the plunge today and bet on the USA to lift the Ryder Cup.
I feel downright dirty and wrong, but succumbed to my base instincts.
I was unable to resist their current underdog status at the bookies.
I can't help feeling that the plot of this year's event is similar to the Father Ted epsisode in which Dougal & Ted are entered by Ireland into the Eurovision Song Contest as a ploy, to ensure that Ireland have no chance of winning, and therefore don't have to fork out to host yet another event, for the following year.
There is surely a parallel in the decision to appoint Nick Faldo as the Europe captain.
He is a loner with no concept of "team", and as well as being the most successful ever UK golfer, he also the least popular ever with his fellow pros.
He's bound to make some ill-advised remarks which will pump up the Americans, and I just can't see him as the great motivator.
The event itself needs an American win to re-invigorate it, as Europe has started to dominate.
Faldo could be the man to deliver this.
I think this is what the European Golf administrators are planning.

I did my first opening 15 on one of the "weekend" nights at The Stand this week.
I was really happy with the way it went.
It certainly wasn't barnstorming, but after a slow start the middle and end went really well.
I don't recall ever sweating as much as that onstage though.
I'm not sure what the cause was, but I was gushing big time.
Perhaps it was the large anount of wine I'd knocked back the previous evening at a gala dinner thing. Who knows?
I got a lot of positive feedback from random audience members after the event, although on the debit side, a friend of a friend heard someone in the bogs describe me as "shit".
So, no room for complacency then.
Of course, the "shit" comment outweighed all the other positive comments in my post-gig mood, but that's the way it is.
We just want to be loved by everyone I suppose.
Very pathetic and very needy....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10/09/2008 Scary

There was an amusing moment during Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican Convention last week, when she proclaimed that one of the consequences of an Obama presidency would be "an increase in death taxes".
At this point the camera cut to an elderly delegate in the audience (looking concerned).
It was immediately clear that the TV production crew viewed her as the audience member most likely to be affected in the short term by this alleged impact of Democratic fiscal policy.
You also see this kind of thing at the Oscars ceremony.
Every year there is a poignant section in which images of movie people, who have passed on during the current year, are flashed onto the screen.
At the end of this montage, the camera flashes round the auditorium, blatantly pinpointing those in the audience who might make it into next year's remembrance section.
I had a troublesome gig at The Stand last week in which some drunken twat shouted out all through my set.
I couldn't make sense of what he was trying to say, so just ploughed on...but not a very enjoyable show.
But on a more positive note, I went round my golf course in level par.
As a moment of sporting triumph, this knocks our successful Olympic athletes into a cocked hat.
I've never done this at Dalmeny before.
It's unprecedented.
I can tell you're impressed.
Never mind...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

31/08/08 Up North

I've been away in sunny Crovie for a couple of days visiting my pals Sim and Bob, their daughters Harper and Alice and their greyhound dug Honey.
It was a hugely enjoyable contrast to the madness what is the Fringe, and I now feel suitably refreshed.
The banter was exceptional, the weather was great and I had the best seafood I've ever eaten in my life (fresh oysters and scallops).
I did have a slight disappointment in that I only beat Bob 5 & 4 at golf, after being 7 up after 10 holes, but hopefully I'll soon come to terms with this disappointment and move on.
It was great to see Honey tearing up and down a deserted beach at full speed..a truly awesome force of nature to witness at first hand.
To give some perspective, a greyhound has been recorded running 100m in 4.97 sec, (Usain Bolt's new world record is 9.62 seconds).
So if the two were in a race, rather than just a quick chest thump and a wave at the finish, the greyhound would probably have time to stop and have a quick shit, and still win the race comfortably.
I got talking with Alice (5) on the memory of a previous much-loved dog of theirs who'd passed on a couple of years ago.
Alice was aware that the dog had been taken to the vet to be "put to sleep", however she surprised me by confiding that the vet had "cut Jack in half".
I'm not quite sure how she had come to believe this, but it was a revelation that caused more than a few giggles as I drove back home to Edinburgh.
In general, it was much more relaxing and straightforward spending a lot of time talking to Harper (8) and Alice, rather than the previous month's experience of chatting to comedians about the Fringe, their shows, their audience numbers, their reviews, their material etc
It's a minefield and it's very easy to slip up and inadvertently upset someone with an unwise choice of words.
(and I'm just as bad and over-sensitive as anyone else, I hasten to add)
It's like spending a month playing one of these games you get at Gala Days where you have to guide a metal loop around some bendy wire, trying not to touch the wire and set off the alarm.
Hard work.
Had another 3 gigs last week which fell into the "solid but unspectacular" category.
Last night, I was playing my congas with my neighbour's band at a Sports Club prizegiving evening.
I enjoy the playing, but always find this event a little odd, as no-one seems to acknowledge we're actually there...(an occasional single clap at the end of a song, and that's it)
There was a little late flurry of dancing this time, and in fairness the food was good, and free pints will always be welcomed as far as I am concerned.
At the end of the set, the female saxophonist remarked on how much she had enjoyed my conga playing, and said that I had a "great sense of rhythm".
I have to admit, that I did have an "absolute stormer" in terms of conga playing...(it's great to write your own reviews, isn't it? It really takes the stress out of being reviewed, and I recommend it heartily to all comedians/musicians/whatever)
She went on to say that the previous drummer she'd played with here 2 years ago was "rubbish...and all over the place!".
I took great amusement in informing her that this drummer was me as well...(I think I may have overdone it on the "free pints" last time)
It's good to get honest reviews...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

26/08/08 It's All Over

So the circus has headed out of town for another year...
Last Saturday, I was quite relieved to have finished off the 17 day run of NCFOM and put my feet up for the rest of the Fringe.
However, I ended up doing 12 extra gigs last week, including a run of afternoon Electric Mouse shows at the "Jekyll & Hyde" that I'd rate as amongst the most satisfying gigs I've ever done.
I just seemed to find an extra comedy gear from somewhere, and a few of them I'd even hesitantly describe as "absolute stormers".
I'm itching to get back into a comedy club and keep the momentum going, because obviously I'm scared of forgetting whatever it is I am doing now that is getting a much bigger reaction than at the start of the Fringe.
I thought Rhod Gilbert should have won the big award thing, and thought it pathetic and patronising that the "Spirit of the Fringe Award" was given to "all the comedians on the Fringe".
There are loads of Fringe stalwarts who could have been deservedly recognised by this award, but they blew it and went for a stupid gimmick dreamt up by some pissed PR jackass.
I suspect Rhod was maybe the victim of politics ; being unwittingly associated with the idiotic branding calamity that was "The Edinburgh Comedy Festival".
I suspect it won't re-appear next year.
I do really like David O'Doherty, but I just thought that Mr Gilbert was out on his own this year.
But anyway, as I've said before, I hate competitions.
Other things I learned this year...
Free late gigs are to be avoided.
A completely pissed audience with no financial investment in a show isn't worth the hassle.
One of the rituals of such event is a succession of tired, jaded comedians politely asking the compere if they can "get on early"...
The compere then puts on the classic car mechanic expression when you ask how much they reckon the repair will cost....
So you do a gig to a few pissed up members of the public, and a few pissed off comedians, who realise they have to hang about longer than they wanted.
It's ideal!
And to Edinburgh drivers....cheer up you miserable bastards!
Do you really need to be taking your car anyway ,wherever you are going?
Driving during the Fringe is bad enough, but with the ubiquitous tram roadworks added to the equation, you ain't going anywhere particularly quickly, so just relax and stop being such aggressive twats.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

19/08/08 I'd like to thank....

Well, that sure was swell....
I'm glad the run is over as I can now gad about seeing loads of other shows, but it'd be fair to say that's the best I've ever enjoyed being involved in a Fringe show...
It was big crowds all the way, and a happy bunch of co-performers with whom it was a pleasure to put on a show.
I'd also like to make a special big thanks to Dave Reilly for taking the time and effort to record our intro tape.
He is truly a man of the people....
And a big thank 'ee kindly to all our special guest spots!
And thanks to the Meridian Bar Staff who were all extremely supportive of the show.
(It isn't always like this...and yes, "Roman Eagle Lodge", I am talking about you...)
We had a greatlast show on Saturday.
Some people couldn't get into the venue as it was absolutely full.
It's always nice when you have friends along for the show to witness this.
It looks fairly impressive.
This situation could only have been improved upon if an A-List comedian turned up, was unable to get in, resulting in me having to tell him to piss off...
Somewhat like the old joke in which a man gets Frank Sinatra to approach him in a bar to impress a lady he's with, and ends up saying "Fuck off Frank, I'm busy...".
I've particularly enjoyed the pisstake introductions for each other which we introduced throughout the run of the show.
Audiences seem to really enjoy the acts taking big swipes at each other in an affectionate way.
Also, the NCFOM team have been approached about running a regular comedy night at The Meridian, which would be good.
Oh, and I've stopped smoking again...
I was watching the Olympics Steeplechase race last night...
It's something of an oddity isn't it?
I mean, what is the point of the "water jump"...
It must have been a real pain for the people who built nice, new athletic tracks to comply with the requirements of having a hole in the track filled with water.
Who are the Steeplechase runners...
Are they people who aren't fast enough to just run, but have more of a chance if there's "jumping over things" element?
(obviously the answer is yes)

Friday, August 08, 2008

08/08/08 Hey Edinburgh!

Only kidding.
I am still having a fun time (yes, really!)
Predictably, after our frankly, amazing crowds for the first few shows, it has been a bit quieter over the last few days.
The monsoon conditions haven't helped.
Anyway, we have fairly solid bookings for the next few days so should be back to playing to big, happy crowds rather than to slightly bewildered looking, smaller ones.
Yesterday was by far my worst gig, as the small audience just stared at me for 15 minutes.
There was a bad omen before the gig which led me to suspect this might be a bad gig.
I was on the number 12 bus heading down Leith Walk.
Towards the end of my journey a man came upstairs and sat in front of me.
It immediately became apparent that he'd shat himself at some point within the preceding few days.
As I got out my seat to alight at the next stop, I started gagging and it took superhuman powers of control on my part to stop me projectile vomiting down the stairs of the bus on my way off it.
It really was the worst smell I have ever experienced in my life.
It wasn't an ideal pre-gig preparation by any stretch of the imagination.
Other notes to self.
Shut up.
ie don't laughingly say to a a crowd of comedians "I wonder how many crap comedians will be referring to the "Credit Crunch" as a type of biscuit during the Fringe...!"
(I could tell from some of the expressions on the comedians' faces that they themselves had such "Credit Crunch" material)
Probably better to keep such prejudices to myself.
I chuckled when I heard that one of our guest spots referred to the "3 Weeks" reviewers as "very enthusiastic".
There's definitely a subtext going on in that quote.
I don't think we've had any more reviewers in since the "3 Weeks" one, but I'm quite happy with that.
It'd be nice to get one today or tomorrow, as we are going to be very busy again.

Monday, August 04, 2008

04/08/08 Fringe Update

Well, it's been a pretty hectic few days as the Fringe has swung into action.
"No Comedy For Old Men" has been ticking along nicely.
We had a reviewer from "3 Weeks" in for our first night which could have been a disaster, but turned into a great start with a surprisingly big crowd.
(review posted at bottom of blog)
Friday was a little quieter with about 20 in, but then we had 60 plus on Saturday.
On the basis of my previous experience of doing Fringe shows, these numbers are pretty sensational.
I had worried about the remoteness of the venue, but it seems that perhaps the remoteness is working in our favour as there are not many other venues in our particular area.
I enjoyed watching Wilson Dixon and Arnold Brown knock 'em dead at The Stand launch party on Thursday.
The biggest laughs of the Fringe so far for me were watching Richard Herring's "Wanking Off Paedophiles" story.
I was in serious pain from laughing, and came perilously close to falling off my seat at one point in the proceedings.
I'm also delighted to see his "Headmaster's Son" show get 5 stars on Chortle.
Ok, I'm a fan, but he definitely deserves more recognition in terms of the consistently brilliant shows he brings up to the Fringe year after year.
I was worried for him this year as he foolishly decided to go head-to-head with our show in the 7-8pm slot.
I hope it hasn't cost him too much at the box-office.
I also played my drum in the Festival Cavalcade Procession with the Edinburgh Samba School.
It was the first time I'd done it for a while, and it was very enjoyable to be back in the groove...
We seemed to upset many of the army stewards for moving too slowly along Princes Street...maybe we're all just getting a bit older...
The feel of the event has changed though...the Samba School was always an eclectic mixture of individuals...hard-core, alternative tree-huggers rubbing shoulders with those with more conventional lifestyles....A little of that diversity seems to have gone...but hey it was great fun!
Pissed, on Saturday night, I mentioned to a couple of fellow samba players that I was speaking to "Arthur Smith" the night before.
This prompted a raising of virtual handbags under chins and a chorus of "woooooos", as I was roundly accused of being a shameless name-dropper.
It's a funny one...the only reason I mentioned it was that Arthur Smith is a legend, and one of my true comedy heroes, and it was a thrill to speak to him.
I'm certainly not trying to impress anyone by saying that I spoke to him. I was merely being honest that it was a special moment for me to meet one of my idols...but anyway, as I said to Stewart Lee later on in the same evening, "People are cunts.." :-)
I'd also recommend "Teddy Bares" at The Stand...a delightfully dark and witty journey from one of Scotland's top comics.

No Comedy For Old Men - Free
Laughing Horse Free Festival - Gordon Alexander, Jeff O'Boyle, Jim Park and Martin McAllister
Cheered on by enthusiastic locals and some Celts outside the venue for good measure (yes, there is performer/audience interaction - that's how I know!) this is clearly the comedy event to go to if you want to mingle with the natives. The predictable themes of Bush, asylum seekers and sex are all covered but the toilet paper raffle ending is one hundred percent unique, as is a hilarious account by O'Boyle on Irish in-breeding (I'm Cornish, I understand).This may not be the cleverest or the funniest show on the Fringe but it sums up what the festival is all about: friends who love to have a laugh together, cold pint of beer, good atmosphere... and all for the bargain price of nothing!
Laughing Horse @ Meridian, 31 Jul - 16 Aug, 7.05pm (8.05pm), free, fpp 82.
tw rating 3/5

Saturday, July 26, 2008

26/07/08 Not working for the man

My contract finished yesterday...yee ha!
It feels good to chill out and be a free man again, although I really should be spending all my spare time getting into a state of readiness for the upcoming Fringe.
A few folk in the comedy business have recently told me that I have improved a lot.
This is a good thing.
I've had quite a lot of gigs recently, most of which have gone well.
I did a full weekend for the first time in Glasgow last week ; the Thursday and Friday were great, but the Saturday night was a bit of a struggle.
Overall though, quite chipper about the old comedy thing.
I think I started getting better after I got a couple of duff reviews on this
comedy web site.
I remember at the time that my nose was fairly out of joint about the reviews; mainly because, by any objective analysis, I'd gone down really well (which was alluded to in the review).
Anyway,with hindsight, it was probably the best thing that's happened to my act, as it made me take a long, hard look at what I was doing, and led me to play around with the format a bit.
I'm not saying I'm amazing and wonderful though...just got a bit better, ok?
I was having a funny conversation yesterday with a work colleague regarding our experience with "tight gits" in our respective social circles.
I do know people who will always, always, always be last to get a round in any pub situation, and who are delighted if, due to licensing time restrictions, they are unable to get their full quota of rounds in at the bar.
I was trumped though by an outstanding tale of tightness.
My colleague was contacted by telephone by a friend and asked if he would mind looking after a bag of frozen peas of his by storing it in his freezer.
So that he could switch off his freezer and save the electricity, as he was going away on holiday for a week.
Now you could argue that he was being green.
But I'd say that was merely a by-product of the principal motive, which was undoubtedly tightness of the highest order.
That was a very funny tale.
Last year I wrote this about the death of a couple of friends of mine ; Harry Horse and his wife Mandy.
I was shocked to read some grim details emerge of the actual circumstances of their deaths in the media.
Later that day I had a gig on, and it felt very strange to witness one of the comedians go into a routine about Harry Horse and the circumstances of his death.
I didn't enjoy hearing a comedy routine about something so personal, but I did rationalise that I can't have it both ways.
If you're going to have the odd dark piece of material in your set, you have to take it on the chin when you hear material on a subject that you are a bit sensitive about.
It was a pretty good joke though, I observed objectively.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

09/07/08 Crazy Horses

I was a bit apprehensive about last Thursday at The Stand as a deputation from my work were attending.
Luckily the gig went really well, so I avoided the awfulness of people at work on the following day sympathetically telling me "How brave" I was.
Don't ever say that to a comedian.
It is taken as a euphemism for "You are shite, but you deserve slight credit for your misguided pluck"
I had actually brought a gun with me in case anyone tried this, but thankfully it remained in my desk for the duration, and I forfeited my opportunity to be the main story on "Scotland Today".
I'd say the work crew were split 50/50 between those that liked it and those that didn't, (I'm taking a "no comment" as a negative).
That's quite respectable I think.
The main talking point of the evening though was the mass walkout of a group of 20 American Mormons during Keir McAllister's opening set.
The fact that they were occupying the front 2 rows made things even more dramatic.
I think it was the C word which most upset them, as well as Keir's description of Mormonism as being a "crazy, fucked-up religion".
Now this was all undoubtedly hilarious, and I laughed as much as anyone, but I can't help feeling just a little sorry for them as they seemed like a cheery bunch initially.
A bit naive to sit right at the front though...and I can only assume that they weren't familiar with the rough and tumble of a comedy club, and the range of subject matters likely to arise.
I'll never know what they would have thought of my set, but there you go.
Talking of the C word, Alan Bennet's brilliant book "Untold Stories" has had me cackling with laughter this week.
In one passage he refers to the film "The Madness of King George III", in connection with the death of the Earl of Pembroke.
He'd written to Bennett about the character in the film, Lady Pembroke.
She was "a lady of mature years to whom in his derangement George III takes a fancy".
Apparently the King became incensed at how Lady Pembroke was treated by her husband, and questioned him about it.
He replied: "Sire, if you had a wife whose cunt was as cold as a greyhound's nostril, you would have done the same."
Very funny, and it's difficult to think of any other word which would work as well in that line.
Had a fairly crap gig last night in Glasgow.
The compere didn't have a great night, and the whole evening was incredibly low-energy.
It was strange...the venue was sold out yet it felt really quiet.
Not that I'm making excuses or anything.
Disappointingly, a good few of my highly-respected Scottish comic peers were in attendance to witness my lacklustre performance.
Come to one of my good nights, why don't you?
This week I was also startled to see an ex-girlfriend's brother conducting the the "Brighton Gay Male Choir" on the "Richard and Judy show".
Good stuff...
And now I feel morally obliged to watch the "Last Choir Standing" series on BBC1 (they are in it).

Saturday, July 05, 2008

04/07/08 Viva Espana!

"It's magic if you come from Madrid, it's beautiful if you come from Barcelona, it's a vindication if you come from Valencia or Villarreal and it's lovely if you come from Liverpool."
Well, that was John Motson’s prepared line which he made in the event of Spain winning Euro 2008.
Not quite “They think it’s all over… It is now!” is it?
I don’t think it will still be quoted wistfully in 40 years time.
In fact most people will have forgotten about it by this time next week.
The “lovely Liverpool” line will probably be remembered ; but not in a good way.
In response I’d say “It’s shite if you come from Sidcup, it’s bollocks if you come from Bolton and it’s fucked if you come from Farnborough.
There you go…that’s just as clever as his one, and I’m not even a professional commentator.
Other than that, his ridiculous, theatrical pronounciation of “Schwein-steiger!” did have me giggling, as well as the Barry White style delivery of the German coach’s name “Loew” which he pronounced “L-o-v-e”…
As finals go, last night’s match was pretty good.
A lot of quality football on show, with both sides prepared to have a go at each other.
It’s a shame it was disfigured as a spectacle by the woeful commentary of Messrs Motson & Lawrenson.
Motty should have gone a while ago.
He has clearly lost a lot of sharpness, and seems permanently confused.
His reactions seem about a half a second behind everyone elses’..
Lawrenson’s style owes much to Stuart Hall’s “penguin” commentary on “It’s A Knockout”, and does nothing to enhance viewers’ understanding of the game.
His continual scoffing at “The Germans”, as he disdainfully referred to them throughout the match, was tedious and cringeworthy.
I never want to hear his whining voice again.
The two Alans, Messrs Hansen and Shearer were equally annoying.
“I couldn’t believe that Aragones took off Torres!” piped up Hansen.
This has been a constant tactic of the Spanish coach Aragones throughout the tournament, ie play Torres for the first 70 minutes to give the opposing defence the runaround, as he hangs on the defenders shoulders, constantly making runs ; then put on Villa in place of him, he being more of a penalty-box finisher who will likely thrive against a tiring defence.
It’s lazy, lazy punditry and I’d love to see how much these buffoons cream off the BBC for their efforts.
The only pundits who emerged with any credit were Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan.
Ray Stubbs’ and Marcel Desailly’s regular “Abbott & Costello” tribute act was vaguely entertaining, but offered nothing in the way of insight into anything in particular.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

29/06/08 Bumble Bee Sighting Shock

We were supposed to be heading North this weekend but the weather forecast scared us off.
Instead on Saturday went for a walk round Holyrood Park to maintain the campaign to be a lean, mean fighting-machine in time for the Festival.
The first incident of note was seeing two young Japanese women using their mobile phones to excitedly film a bumblebee which was shuttling about from flower to flower, as is their wont.
I was immediately concerned about the lasting effect on the bumblebee of this level of interest.
He might assume that life is always like this, and may go on to suffer crushing disappointment in the future once the cameras have gone.
I remember having a storming first gig at "Red Raw", then being disappointed that I wasn't commissioned for a comedy series on Channel 4 on the following day.
I still haven't quite got over the desolation.
Once at the top, I was amused to see a hen party making its way slowly towards the summit.
They were all fairly on the large side, and the demeanor of many of them suggested that a defibrillator might be required at very short notice.
But, fair play to them, they all (eventually) made it to the top.
It made me feel quite smug about my own level of fitness.
I can confidently state that I am slightly fitter than the average morbidly-obese Hen Party member from Bolton.
It doesn't automatically qualify me for the Olympics, but it's a start.
Walking home, I passed a hairdresser in the Grassmarket called "The 3 Stooges".
I wouldn't have thought the coiffures of the Stooges were the best seeling point for a hairdresser, but maybe the "bowl cut"and the "premature balding out-of-control look" are due a fashion relaunch.
Traditionally, Haymarket is shit for shops and restaurants.
Things seemed to have changed though...
"Chop Chop" on Morrison Street is the best (and cheapest) Chinese restaurant I've ever been to (proper authentic stuff), and "Sushiya" on Dalry Road is the best sushi place in Edinburgh by a mile.
I've still got the world's worst Fish and Chip shop on my doorstep, but looks like we're moving in the right direction.
I want Spain to win tonight, but can't handle the "little Englander" anti-German sniping of Motty and Lawro...
at least a German victory would shut them up...but Spain are the better footballing side and should edge it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

21/06/08 Quiet Night Out

I've just been watching "Football Focus".
Here we go...
Right, the presenter is situated in some kind of virtual Art Gallery.
It's a preview of tonight's Euro 2008 Quarter-Final between Holland and Russia...
Oh no..please god, no...they're not..?? Well, yes they are, you guessed it...repeated reference to the Netherlands as "Dutch Masters".
Why don't you show some imagination you lazy, cliche-ridden cunts..!
(ah! ....that's better...)
There's Mark Laurenson looking more and more like a Tudor thatched cottage every day.
Time to switch off the telly and do something more interesting instead.
I had a kicking gig at The Stand in Glasgow last night, and then watched Jason Rouse hilariously split the room.
It all went off at one point.
There was a bit of shouty stuff from a table of female teachers of a mature age.
The show carried on, but at one point one of the women stood up and walked onto the stage to remonstrate with Mr Rouse vis-a-vis his rather incendiary material.
A couple of staff rushed on the stage to escort her off, and the show continued.
It was one of these slow motion moments when you're not sure what is going to happen next.
It kind of encapsulates what I love about live stand-up comedy...this capacity for random unpredictability.
As much as I loved his performance, I still end up watching about half of it through my fingers as my hands are clasped over my face.
Looking round at the audience, I'd say this style of watching him is very much de rigeur.
Part of me does feel slightly guilty about laughing.
I sometimes worry that being in comedy eventually makes you immune to being shocked or offended about anything.
I'm not sure if it is necesssarily a good thing to be desensitised in this way.
On the other hand, even if some of the material is horribly offensive, I can still admire the delivery, which is consistently excellent.
Although, I suppose I could say the same thing about other comedians that don't get away with it, so to speak.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

15/06/08 Mixed News

I had a good gig at The Stand last week, so the comedy mojo is making a steady recovery.
Unfortunately, my Bus driver application was rejected on the grounds that "plenty of crumpet!" was regarded as an "inappropriate" reason for wanting the job.
This blog may not have happened as I came within a couple of paces of walking over a cliff on a yomp in the Moffat Hills yesterday.
I didn't realise the edge was so close and it was 1500 ft down, which may have hurt a bit.
I'm doing next Friday night at The Stand in Glasgow with Jason Rouse headlining.
He is the wrongest comedian I've seen in a long time, but also hilarious.
I always enjoy watching comedians who split a room.
I decided recently to get revenge on someone who'd bullied me as achild, through the use of voodoo.
I made a little doll of him and stuck loads of needles into it, in the traditional fashion.
The results have been deeply disappointing though.
Not only is he still alive, but he's now stopped smoking and is likely to live even longer than he would have done before my intervention.
And, I've found this whole episode so stressful that I have started smoking again.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

08/06/08 So anyway...

After my best ever run of gigs, the last 3 have been absolute clunkers.
I don't even want to describe how bad they were in gory detail...Just take my word for it.
The gigs had been going so well...
It's like I've been previously driven around as part of a huge procession in an open-topped car, cheered on by adoring crowds, when all of a sudden there have been 3 shots at me, resulting in half my head getting blown off.
There were mitigating circumstances on each occasion, but still, a big fuck-off spanner has been lobbed into my confidence machinery.
I've got another gig tonight at The Stand.
Even though I will be desperate to have a good night, you have to be careful not to try too hard. Desperation isn't necessarily all that funny.
There was a curious bit of programming yesterday morning on STV.
I switched on the telly to be confronted with "Holiday On The Buses", a feature film version of the 70s sitcom "On The Buses".
I wondered what the typical Saturday morning viewers (10-14 year olds?) would make of this,cough, "film".
HOTB represents a strange, twilight world in which young, attractive women throw themselves at a fat, middle-aged bus driver("Stan") and his conductor mate ("Jack"), who has a face only a mother could love, (possibly could be mistaken for the Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho's gonzo uncle).
Stan's mother is also on holiday and is a bit of a goer, ending up shagging a character played by Wilfred Brambell, best known as "Old man Steptoe".
(I should point out that the shagging is merely alluded to, and is not graphically represented on screen)
Stan's sister Olive is there with her husband too.
Her husband spends the entire film calling her "a great lump", and routinely turns down her entreaties to have sex.
It's quality stuff, and provides a fascinating insight, for today's generation of young people, to how people lived in the 1970s.
I think the guy who played "Inspector Blakie" won an Oscar for Best Supporting Role.

Euro 2008 kicked off yesterday.
Normally I'm a big fan of "Opening Ceremonies", but it's fair to say this one was pants.
Turgid, unimaginative and with similar production standards to Port Seton Gala Day.
Could do better.
Hansen and Shearer came across a sullen teenagers ; showing very little enthusiasm for the tournament, just because no British teams were there.
Watching this tedious display, I felt happiness that the BBC have lost most of their football rights for next season.
Their setup has become too much of a smug gentlemen's club, and needs to be completely revamped.
Listen you're living the're travelling the world,getting to see all this top football, and getting paid loads of money (at our expense) to utter a few bored cliches about it.
The least we should expect as license fee payers is that you show a little enthusiasm in what you're doing.
It's bad for the tournament that the Swiss lost yesterday.
They were robbed.
They've now got a mountain to climb to qualify. (sorry)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

04/06/08 No Comedy For Old Men

This is the flyer for the award-entering “No Comedy For Old Men” comedy show which I will be appearing in during this year’s Fringe.
I am on the right and am assuming the Abe Lincoln role.
Purely by coincidence, I’d already intended incorporating extended sections of “The Gettysburg Address” into my routine, (just like Margaret Thatcher. In fact she released a record of herself reciting the said speech. Sadly it did not feature prominently in the higher reaches of the Hit Parade).
As well as stopping smoking for an impressive 150th time (although I did smoke 5 at the holiday weekend…but the overall stats are “5 in 18 days”), I’ve decided to permanently stop posting on Internet Comedy Forums.
I get agitated reading pompous posts of certainty when it comes to comedy matters, but then when I do post a retort…I immediately regret the post, finding myself disagreeing with my own logic (although I can’t be bothered to go in and edit the post or delete it)
I then worry about being thought of as a grumpy old git by the rest of the comedy community in Scotland.
I think it’s better to walk away and find something more productive to do with my spare time, (maybe something eccentric like writing better material…).
I’ve signed on for another 2 months of penal servitude (there’s a joke there somewhere), but will have the whole of August off to gad about at the Festival.
Tonight we are doing a preview show of all the acts appearing during the Fringe at “The Meridian Bar” on Leith walk.
My gut instinct is that the audience will be entirely composed of other acts (of which there are a lot), and that the evening’s merit as a promotional exercise will be debatable.
But never, mind, I don’t want to get negative on your asses, sisters and brothers.
It’ll be useful to check out the venue.
I’m still giddy with excitement at winning the “Eightsome Reel” trophy at the weekend with my esteemed golfing partner Brian “Beaky” Smith.
I now have an impressive claret jug sitting proudly on my mantelpiece.
I’m still slightly knackered though from playing 2 rounds in a day at Machrihanish Golf Course in Argyll, in what felt like 45 degrees temperature.
I played football last night in a manner reminiscent of Sir Douglas Bader (he having put on the wrong set of legs accidentally, after an embarrassing mix-up in the prosthetics ward).
A cunning “big con” was concocted on the 18th green to fool “Parky” and “Beaky” (nicknames were compulsory), that they had in fact been pipped at the post by our nearest rivals, messrs “Tony” and “Calum” (crap nicknames I thought)
We needed “Crabbie” and “Bilbo” (that’s more like it) to beat them, and we knew they were 1 Up as they headed down the 17th.
It turned out they won the 17th and took the match 2 & 1 ; however, a plot was hatched to take the game down the 18th in the pretence it was still “live”.
“Crabbie” and “Bilbo” hid decent drives, but then proceeded to hit a couple of “Charlie Cairoli” influenced approach shots as myself and Beaky looked on in mounting disbelief.
I turned to Beaky and quietly confided to him, “We’re fucked!”
“Tony” had 2 putts from 30 feet to salvage a draw for the match and take the overall trophy.
We worriedly looked on as he removed his tiny putter from his golf bag, which was made from an old smarties tube, and lined up the putt.
He sent the first putt 3 feet past, but, amidst excruciating tension, he sank the second putt to “take the trophy”.
It was only 2 hours later during the presentation ceremony that the stitch-up was revealed.
I was in awe of the execution and flawless acting of all the participants.
I would definitely have burst out giggling at some point in the proceedings.
I was concerned with my gullibility.
I was sure I’d seen them shaking hands on the 17th green (we were playing one hole ahead), but was easily dissuaded of this belief when I mentioned it to them.
But why else would all 4 players spontaneously converge onto a tight group on a green?
To do a little Scottish folk dance?
To have a group snog?
I'd be good on the Derren Brown show...very suggestible (ie a fuckwit)

"No Comedy For Old Men"
31st July - 16th Aug 2008
Meridian Bar
138 Leith Walk

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

07/05/08 A Walk On The Wild Side

Delicious home-made curries served with freshly baked chapattis ; scrambled free range eggs mixed with the finest Norwegian smoked salmon and freshly-caught trout; organic ciabatta rolls, cream cheese with delicately sundried tomatoes, washed down with copious quantities of the very finest wines and malt whiskies…this isn’t just any camping, this is…(well, you get the picture?)
In spite of all this classy food malarkey, we were still camping out in the wild, far from the madding crowd and all that kind of thing.
What a fantastic weekend though.
The actual weather forecast was seriously shite, but thankfully completely wrong ; dry and sunny being the order of the day.
The initial canoeing down Loch Veyatie was pure bliss.
I found it all very Zen-like and relaxing gliding down the Loch…
However, carrying the canoes down from the road to the launch site was slightly less enjoyable.
They don’t feel too heavy when you lift them up for the first time, but after the first 100 yards, it starts to get more than a little painful.
We were all on 2-man “Canadian-style” open canoes.
I was at the front and my old mucker John was at the back.
It’s easier being at the front in that all you do is just concentrate on paddling without taking direction into account, although physically it’s harder overall..
The person at the back, as well as normal paddling, constantly has to adjust the line of the canoe using their paddle as an improvised rudder.
Half way down the loch we decided to switch positions.
This was where things went rather awry.
It wasn’t the best timing in terms of changing the positions ; the water had suddenly become a bit choppier, and in the technical jargon of canoeing , I was making a complete cunt of things.
On a couple of occasions I tried to straighten the canoe as we were blown off course, but inadvertently exaggerated the misdirection, (it’s like doing the opposite of what you would do to correct direction, if you were in a rowing boat..I think)
In a couple of nasty moments we were side-on to the waves and very nearly went over.
It could have been very serious because at this point we’d become separated from the rest of the canoes and would have been stuck in the freezing cold water for an indeterminable period of time if we’d gone over.
In fairness to the other canoes, it is difficult to track people behind you because leaning round and looking back makes the canoe rock from side to side, which is not hugely enjoyable in such situations.
The agreed practice in the event of a capsize was to cling to the canoe and wait to be towed in by another canoe, but in this instance we would have just had to swim to the shore.
I reckon we would have been ok, but it was a far from comfortable experience.
Anyway, we made it down to the camp site, set up, then climbed Suilven in the afternoon.
What a fantastic mountain.
There are amazing views, also some exposed, easy scrambling to get the adrenaline going.
I did the summit but decided against doing the dodgier East Ridge mainly because it was blowing a gale and with my newly acquired lighter frame, I would be risking getting blown off , (but not in a good way).
Mitch (who is apparently now heavier than me) and Bob did conquer the dodgy peak, and in doing so cemented their position as the “Tenzing and Hillary” of the 2008 expedition.
The Saturday night was great craic.
A roaring fire, a big curry banquet, a clear night sky (we did actually see some odd UFO-type things shooting across the sky), and some tip-top quality banter.
There were 9 of us, and often in groups that size it’s likely that there will be splits into little factions.
It’s fair to say that this was never the case on our trip, and it really did feel like a unified co-operative team , happily devoid (for the most part) of hissy fits and pointless arguments.
It’s just a group of people who have known each other a long time, who don’t feel the need to puncture any silences with banal chit-chat, and who are just seeking some good-natured fun in a wilderness environment, (even if that sounds like PR for a “Doggers’ Society”).
Whilst the canoe down was fairly straightforward with a following breeze and favourable river current, the home journey was always going to be a lot harder.
To add to our worries , the wind freshened up and we faced a strong headwind all the way back.
When the first canoe set off, it was less than reassuring sight to see the crew paddling madly without moving an inch in the homeward direction.
In the end we had to combine towing the canoes past some of the shallow, fast-moving sections of the river.
This could only be achieved by wading in the freezing water for sustained periods of time, dragging the canoe, , and alternating with a period of paddling.
After a long haul we did finally get back to base…
I was knackered ; probably as much by the mental strain of keeping the canoe the right way up (I was still a little freaked out by the first day canoeing near-miss), as just the physical toll of paddling.
There was a definite sense of achievement at having made the journey.
At a couple of points in the return leg, I was absolutely convinced we were going to have to abandon the canoes and walk back in.
What a weekend though. Superb. It certainly got me out of my comfort zone.
And we even survived driving down the A9 to get home.
(I couldn’t help but mull over the irony of surviving the scarier aspects of the canoeing trip, but then fall victim to an oncoming, suicidal overtake by some boy-racers in a souped-up Ford Escort convertible)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

29/04/08 Good Moaning

This is the mountain which I will be conquering this weekend. It’s called Suilven and it looks a bit scary, but I have no fear and will laugh in the face of danger as I scramble along its precipitous ridge.
(assuming that I survive the canoe trip there ok)
Email should be a positive boon in terms of easy, quick, group-communication needed to organise an event of this nature.
However, the reality is somewhat different.
Emails get consistently ignored, text messages are left unanswered, people reply eventually, but then fail to include everyone on the original distribution list in their reply.
Such is the delay sometimes in getting a reply from everyone, that many have forgotten what the original question was by the time the answers trickle in.
Then the whole “ignoring” thing starts to do your head in.
If it’s just one email or text that’s getting ignored, it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and not let it bother you.
However, when this happen a few times, my mood noticeably darkens, and the tempting notion of embarking on a “killing spree” in Haymarket is only curtailed by the unfortunate non-availability of powerful, automatic handguns..
Like it or not, the reality is that we subconsciously grade all our friends and acquaintances to form a pecking order.
If you’re “A list”, all your calls will be more or less immediately returned.
The “B list”are usually replied to within 2-3 days, but occasionally need to call again to get a response.
“B List” people can still be seen as valued friends, but they’re just not quite as important, clever or creative as their “A List” peers, and may miss out occasionally on corporate jollies and gala luncheons.
“C list” are mainly people selling Kitchen Design (“we’re in your area tomorrow!”) or Double-Glazing Salesmen, or possibly old school friends trying to organise a reunion.
I have been shocked to discover that in some instances my perceived “A List” status is nothing more than a myth.
I’ve been idiotically deluding myself.
I have been relegated to “B List” (although not right across the board I hasten to add. Some people out there still think I’m cool and influential…The idiots.).
How did this happen? Where did it all go wrong?
I can’t pretend any longer, and must try to accept this devastating truth.
Maybe I was always a “B List” and misinterpreted various social signals, deeming them commiserate with “A List” status. Like being given the opportunity to wash their cars, like Biff Tannen in “Back to the Future 2”.
I’m not sure whether to treat my “A List” contacts like “B List” contacts in a powerful demonstration of revenge, by subtly delaying responses to direct requests.
This policy could backfire.
I could find myself banished to “C List” status as a consequence for fooling around with an established caste system.
I’m not bitter though, and think I might embrace my everyman status, throw away my laptop and mobile phone, and become a Ghandi type figure in Scotland wandering around the Highlands solving people’s problems in a funny way, then disappearing into the Glen to find my next assignment.
Actually, I think I might try to organise a school reunion…

I was gutted to hear of the death of Humphrey Lyttelton.
He was one of these figures I’d just assumed would go on forever.
In my memory he was always very old, and was destined to be an old codger in perpetuity.
I always loved the opening couple of minutes of “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” where Humph makes a few jokes referencing the locality of the broadcast.
I don’t know how much he actually wrote himself, but the delivery was always absolutely flawless, and never ceased to crack me up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

22/04/08 That Sinking Feeling

It was really great to see Joon Broon hoovering up any available front row pints at the esteemed Red Raw Comedy Night. Just like the old days! woo hoo!
It was slightly disappointing that she didn’t get the chance to down a full one in vintage style, but I’m sure there’ll be plentiful future opportunities.
On one of the last times I saw her compering , I ended up kissing her arse on stage… (my first ever appearance on stage at The Stand).
This was engineered by funnyman Dave Reilly fraudulently filling in a “Prize Draw Card” with my name attached, which stated that “I would love to kiss the compere’s arse!”.
And so it came to pass that I was summoned onto the stage to perform the aforementioned act of worship.
Last night one of the acts came on, told a few jokes, then spent the rest of his spot with a chopstick up his nose, a silver ball spinning in his hand and one of these Diablo things swinging around.
Derek Johnston had a fantastic gig.
We are fellow practitioners of the “out there” comedy genre, and it’s always great watching him when the audience get it, as they certainly did last night.
I was slightly unnerved to hear today of some Canadian canoeists having to be dramatically rescued after they capsized in a loch in Sutherland due to a freak gust of wind.
I am going canoeing/mountaineering in Sutherland in a couple of weeks, and could have done without dwelling on this incident.
Although maybe it’s a good thing, as we’ve now been made fully aware of the intrinsic risks involved.
I’m not a boats/water fan and much prefer the old terra firma, baby…!
The trouble is that to get to the mountain we have to canoe across a loch.
I’ve had boating difficulties before. Remember this?
There was also a hair-raising boat trip in Colombia.
This involved 4 of us in a tiny little boat in Cape Horn-esque sea conditions, with, of course, no lifejackets.
This terrifying ordeal lasted for 2 hours before we finally made it to land.
In the midst of the terror, amongst other dark thoughts , I remember contemplating what tunes would be played at my funeral.
(maybe “Sailing” by Rod Stewart? or the old classic “Paddlin’ Madeline Home” by Cliff Edwards)
I was at a funeral recently where one of the hymns was the same tune as “One-Nil…to the Arse-enal..One-Nil…to the Arse-enal” (originally “Go West” by the “Pet Shop Boys”).
Why am I writing this? I’ve no idea really….
I’m sure if the weather is fine it will be an idyllic experience, however, the trouble with Scottish weather is that it can change for the worse very quickly.
Here’s a good clip of Richard Herring dealing with a heckler.
It’s a very popular clip amongst the comedy fraternity.
You could compare it to how a group of foxes would enjoy watching a film of members of a Hunt being thrown from their horses.

Monday, April 21, 2008

21/04/08 Going Up!

Hamilton Academicals are back in the Premier League!
We made a pilgrimage through to my Dad’s home town of Hamilton to see them secure the 1st Division championship by beating Clyde 2-0.
I’d also studied at Bell College in Hamilton.
It was here that I obtained a “Post-Graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis and Design”, (it’s fair to say it was slightly less interesting than it sounds, if you can believe that)
We decided to splash out and go for the hospitality package.
Well, it’s not every day that the Accies are within a ball hair of being back in the (relatively) big time.
I was thrilled to find myself sitting at an adjoining table to Scottish football legend Frank MacAvennie.
He may have been an ex-Celtic player, but I still have a certain fondness for Frank and see him as a fantastic role model.
His raucous laugh has a gloriously infectious quality about it.(Ideal for a member of a comedy club audience.)
I was very impressed by how friendly and welcoming the Accies officials were.
I was less impressed with the mushroom soup and the white wine, but that’s a minor quibble.
Saturday was about more important things than pedantic catering analysis.
The game itself was probably one of the most mediocre football matches I’ve ever witnessed (and I’ve witnessed a few), largely due to a fierce, icy wind which was instrumental in preventing a display of the champagne football which Accies fans have grown accustomed to witnessing this season.
We were chilled to the bone.
But this is all academic..
Winning isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing, as they say.
There was a bit of disharmony in the stand, as it turned out that season ticket holders had been turfed out their seats to make way for the corporate hospitality “fat cats”,
(in retrospect, sporting a camel coat , wearing a lot of jewellery and smoking a big cigar might have projected the wrong image and subconsciously invited criticism from the New Douglas Park regulars).
I could certainly sympathise with their plight and found it all a bit embarrassing.
It was obviously irresistible for the club to milk as much money as possible out of their big day, and given the perilous finances of Scottish football, it’s understandable.
Thankfully, after some animated “discussion”, we all got a seat and enjoyed Hamilton’s moment of triumph as they lifted the First Division Cup.
And then back into the lounge for further alcohol, and checking out some very impressive looking WAGs who were waiting for the players to appear.
When they came in they were all wearing t-shirts that said “Hamilton Accies ; Division 1 Champions 2007/08”.
I was amazed at how quickly they’d designed and printed the T-shirts as it was only 10 minutes after full-time.
That was incredible. The t-shirt technology has obviously moved on a lot in recent years. I can only assume that they did it using the Interweb or something like that?
It’s interesting to compare this feat with cheque processing.
In 2008 you can design and print a T-shirt in 10 minutes, but it still takes 5 days for a cheque to clear.
Having played golf in the morning (a charity game involving under-privileged, dysfunctional adults who wouldn’t normally be able to afford the expense of a round of golf), and then after the football attending a ravey late-night party back in Edinburgh, I wasn’t feeling too clever on the Sunday.
I had a 10 minute spot at The Stand on Sunday night.
I’d planned to do the spot then leave immediately and hit the hay.
One other act hadn’t shown up so I got asked to do a longer set.
I was a bit apprehensive, as I felt fairly grim, and an hour before the gig a tooth implant had fallen out during the consumption a packet of Rolos, leading me to speak with something of a farty lisp.
In the end I had a really nice gig and did just under 20 minutes.
I suppose it’s a good opportunity to show you can handle a sudden change in set length and step up to the plate when required.
I stayed to watch Dan Evans…loved his stuff…gloriously silly.