Friday, January 30, 2009

You must be choking! (genius)

There was high drama in the office this week, as I stepped in to prevent a colleague at the neighbouring desk choking to death.
I was working away diligently, as is my norm, when I noticed his hand banging the top of his desk as he was hunched over in his chair.
My first thought was that he was bent-double laughing and was just doing the banging on the table for “theatrical emphasis” purposes.
I then caught a glimpse of his face and immediately recognised that this was a serious situation. His face was crimson and it was obvious he was completely unable to breathe.
I firmly thumped his back a couple of times, and thankfully that cleared the blockage.
If that hadn’t worked I was going to have to have a go at the classic “Heimlich manoeuvre”, which I’d never attempted before, and was unsure if I’d be able to produce the desired result.
It was surreal in the sense that while this crisis was unfolding, everyone else in the open plan office were tapping away on their computers,
blissfully unaware of the unfolding drama going on at the back of the room.
It’s made me think that taking a first aid course is something that everyone should do, because you can all of a sudden find yourself in a situationwhere you have to make an immediate intervention, and it would certainly help if you had a rough idea about what exactly to do.
So there you go…making people laugh and saving lives…surely that is worth an MBE?
I’m too humble to nominate myself for such honours or write to the producers of Esther Rantzen’s “Hearts of Gold”, but if anyone else wanted to, I wouldn’t stand in their way.
And if I got really famous as a result, I promise you that I wouldn’t pathetically use the limelight to boost my comedy career, but would concentrate all my energy on focussing attention on the carers and lifesavers and other “Hearts of Gold” type people, in a kind of “Comedy Relief” way.
After all, I just did what anyone would have done if they found themselves in a similar situation.
I’m not a hero ; just an ordinary bloke. I was just doing my job as a fellow human, and it would be for other people to decide if it merited wider recognition and reward.
The experience of doing the Hackney Final and getting decent reviews seems to have boosted my comedy profile.
I can exclusively reveal that I will now be making a special guest appearance on the “Jim Hobbit” Glasgow Comedy Festival show, as well as getting a weekend of gigs in Dublin next month.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jim stops smoking again shock!

I feel I should award belated kudos to my old friends Egg and Mitch who travelled to London from Shropshire and Scotland respectively, just
to see me perform at the Hackney Empire.
This represents a classic example of outstanding devotion, above and beyond the call of duty.
I was impressed and deeply moved.
Mitch runs the Edinburgh Film Studios.
I would implore you all to go there immediately, and arrange to make a film.
Cinema was very popular during the Great Depression of the 1930s, so it could be a great opportunity to indulge your creative whims
and direct a “Credit Crunch” , feelgood Blockbuster for 2009.
I got a couple of reviews in The Stage and on Chortle.
They are both generally positive and have some really good quotable quotes.
I find the “squashed face” description a bit odd though.
I’ve been called many things, but “squashed face” is a new one…
The review was written by a Julian Chambers, whereas last year’s (at times extremely scathing) Hackney review was written by one Julia Chamberlain.
I suspect they are the same person?
But hey, I’m really happy with the reviews…and hopefully I can use them to open a few doors.
I’m working with a few Indian guys at work at the moment.
They’re good guys and I have a good laugh with them.
I find it very amusing that they all call me “Park”.
(I’m listed as “PARK, James” on the directory)
I haven’t pointed out to them that they are calling me by my surname.
It just feels quite funny to be called that.
I don’t think I’ve been routinely referred to as “Park” since I was at High School.
Could I be getting nostalgic for my dreadful time as a pupil at Queensferry High School?
From what I gather, it’s a good school now, but in my time it was a rotten, depressing environment.
So anyway, do teachers still use the surname to deal with pupils, or have we arrived at a more touchy-feely era in which
first names are invoked?
I don’t know.
I’ve had to stop smoking again.
This becomes necessary as I have arrived at what I term as the “stupid phase” of my smoking habit.
For a while I can just have the odd cigarette now and again ; often having 2-3 day smoke free intervals.
Unfortunately, I have been smoking just about every day for the past month (the Hackney Empire is definitely a contributory factor here).
My cue to stop is when I start smoking cigarettes when I don’t really want one.
It’s a mad impulse…
In spite of having no urge, I’ll smoke one, then stub it out half-way through the cigarette, and go “Ugh! I didn’t enjoy that at all…”
I have done this a lot in the last 2 weeks and as a result, it is now time for another ceasesmoke.
So “peace in the Middle East” or “Jim quits smoking for good”…
Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen….
I did a bit in my set last night at The Stand about my fictional Great Uncle Duncan.
Having completed what I now refer to as the "potato section" of my set, I mentioned that Uncle Duncan once said "The best laughs are with potatoes", shortly before sticking a fork into the side of his head.
Soon afterwards we had to put him in residential care.
This went really well...
It was a sold-out "Burns Special" at The Stand last night, making it the third cracking gig I've had in the last week.
Confidence is high at the moment.
I'm overdue a disaster...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


So Hackney has come and gone….
It was the definite highpoint of my comedic career…
What a buzz to play in front of a sold-out Hackney Empire…1500 people…ker-pow…!!!
On this occasion I’d like to say “Fuck self-deprecation..!”
I had a storming gig…I couldn’t have wished in my wildest dreams for it to go any better…it was an absolute joy to play that stage…
My main anxiety before the gig was that I wouldn’t do myself justice, and regret not making the most of probably the biggest gig of my life.
Being so relieved it had gone well, any concern over the subjective musings of a group of judges seemed gloriously irrelevant.
I promise you. I’m not delusional…why only last Thursday I did much of my set to silence at the esteem’d “Heresy” comedy club in Edinburgh.
It was like doing a bible reading at school assembly.
I’ve no interest in hiding disasters.
I know they’re much more interesting to read about than the successful gigs though. I’m not stupid…
But it all got filmed, so I’ll stick a copy of it on here and then you, yes you, can decide if I’m being ludicrously, over-generous with my nauseatingly subjective self-review.
I was delighted that Fergus won…I‘m a big fan of his work as part of the “Colin and Fergus” double-act, and I loved his offbeat solo set on
Saturday night. Class.
Compere Arthur Smith was also on fine form.
He strode into a fairly tense Green Room before the show, and informed everyone that the previous year’s winner had now given up performing (this is true), so that winning this thing wasn’t necessarily recommended for your “fucking career!”, and did his trademark throaty chuckle.
He instantly transformed the atmosphere and had everyone giggled uncontrollably for the next few minutes as he held court.
Weirdly, I felt hardly any nerves as I strode onto the stage and did my set.
I felt more nervous doing the heat upstairs in a pub in Stoke Newington.
I just found the whole place such a comfortable, friendly environment that the nerves just went, and all that remained was a determination to
savour the experience, as these sort of things don’t come around too often.
And playing that stage was a celestial
Of course being an emotional kind of guy, after the show I was choked at how celebratory my friends were who’d come along to see me.
They were miles more nervous than me about the whole thing ; utterly terrified of witnessing me having having a disaster.
I’m lucky to have the friends I have…they rock! (this is obviously turning into my Gwyneth Paltrow/Halle Berry moment)
And it was great to see my old samba muckers Hannah and Jen also making a surprise celebrity appearance.
Looking back, I really enjoyed the immediate aftermath of qualifying for the final.
Participating in the stand-up comedy experience involves taking a regulatory amount of kicks in the bollocks from time to time, so it’s nice to occasionally get a little bit of recognition that you’re doing something right.
I was enjoying this phase up until the beginning of last week ; then all of a sudden the final was looming large on the horizon.
I spent most of last week constantly pondering on what material to select for the 5 minute set.
It’s agonising, as you contemplate after the event bemoaning that you ended up making some catastrophically bad choices.
Then you have a bit of a worry on where you’ll end up on the bill…probably better to be in the middle of the first half I thought… There are so many acts to get through
that you don’t want to be too far down the bill and perform to a frazzled audience (I ended up being on 3rd in the 2nd half…not great, but could have been worse)…
You worry in case someone’s material is too similar to yours (particularly if they are on first) …Then you worry that if the person on before you is TOO funny then the audience will need a rest and you’ll catch them in a lull…or if the person before you has a lingering death, it may take time to get the room warmed up again…
There’s a whole range of anxiety inducing stuff to ponder over…
I think I’ll make that the end of my competition days…the performing is great…the surrounding stress is not so great.
But back at work now and have made a right pig's ear of something...I'm not getting as good a reaction from my work audience at all...
Back to reality.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy New Year!

found this old review of me on the interweb…
I don’t think it was one of my finest hours, but I reckon I could use the “best act of the evening” quote though…
Interestingly, I do seem to be getting criticised for having a go at scripted comedians, then proceeding to read off a clipboard throughout my act…
I imagine that if one4review were doing a review of “Dad’s Army” ,in a similar vein, they would criticise Corporal Jones, for repeatedly telling his colleagues “Don’t panic! don’t panic!”, while acting in a highly agitated manner which gives the viewer the distinct impression that he himself is panicking, in direct contravention of the advice he is seen to be vociferously issuing.
I can’t remember doing impersonations at any point. Intriguing!
I do like the reviewers though. They are comedy fans, and I wouldn’t want to discourage them.
I was down in Manchester doing a gig at the Comedy Balloon this week, and staying with my illustrious, older brother.
I’ve always been a little disappointed in that, despite living in Manchester for more than 20 years, he still does not refer to me as “our kid”.
Unfortunately, it was a damp, freezing horrible night, Man Utd were live on the telly, and the acts outnumbered the audience.
It was a funny evening though, and I was still grateful of the chance to get in some training before the Hackney event.
And £1.89 for a pint of bitter!
It’s fair to say I’m enjoying gigging in England much more than Scotland at the moment.
I think I’m fortunate in the sense that my material has no particular Scottish identity, and has a universal quality about it.
I’m not saying “universally hilarious” though ; I’d be the first to admit that some parts of my set are “universally mediocre”.
But I’m working on it…
I must confess I have been tuning in occasionally to “Celebrity Big Brother”, and actually enjoying it.
When Terry Christian presented “The Word”, he was the most loathed man on television, as far as I was concerned.
But now I really like him ; he’s totally re-invented himself into a cool, funny guy, as well as coming up with the most quotable quote of this series ;
“Big egos and low self-esteem, that’s why we’re in the business…”
That is so true…not universally, but there’s a lot of it about…
I’ve also been greatly enjoying “Dead Set”.
I’m generally quite partial to zombie stuff anyway, but with a crackling Charlie Brooker script and some fantastic, innovative film editing also in the mix, it’s sublime viewing.
I'm currently watching "World Darts".
You could argue that aesthetically, it's ridiculous watching fat, middle-aged men parading about on stage to a bombastic rock soundtrack.
I disagree.
I like it.