Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hasta la Manana

Thanks to the fabulous Alistair Barrie, I got home from Leicester last night...hoorah! He was kind enough to stick around till the end of the show to rescue me from having to spend one more night in that godforsaken dump that is the Grand Hotel - so called because that's how much it cost to build - on Granby St.

I must've stayed there about 300 times over the last 10 years, and not once have I been able to accept the first room they've given me. I'm not *that* precious, but I do kind of demand that the light bulbs work, stuff like that.

I also implimented my new 'smoking in a non-smoking room' policy. I checked in dead on 2pm, the earliest you can check into this place - and requested a smoking room. This was immediately dismissed, and for once I didn't put up a fight, just said fine.

It was weird, cos the decent part of me felt bad about smoking in this room, although I have to say I don't thinkI was the first person ever to do so judging by the stench. Still at least the smell of stale smoke detracted from the heady aroma of urine in the bathroom!

My guilty conscience made me think about every single cigarette I lit up. 'Did I really want one right now?' 'Could I wait another half an hour, or till I left the room?' As a result, I smoked far fewer than normal, hmmmmmm who knows I may just end up quitting without really trying! All you non smokers better be prepared for your taxes to rise if I give up! Gordon Brown is gonna have to recoup that dosh somehow.

So this morning I woke up in my own clean, fresh bed...bliss! I'm all excited cos this time tomorrow I'll be in Madrid. Hoorah! I've never been before but I am soooooooo looking forward to it. Getting out of London to a place I really want to visit, great coffee, sunshine on my skin, and some fabulous art...I suspect my favourite gallery will be the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. I've been checking their website and they seem to have a fantastic collection. I've just spotted one by Juan Gris called The Smoker!


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Obligatory Big Brother Blog

Don't blame me, its in the rules!

Soooooo this years freakfest has gotten off to a rousing start, with Lorriane Kelly sound-a-like Shabazz gone like Shazzam! What a deeply troubled man he is. Whoever the shrink is who screens these people before they go in, he/she should be sacked. From minute one it was obvious to all just what a mess this poor man is.

I have to confess to being a tragic Big Brother addict, I successfully avoided Series 1 till the day Nasty Nick walked out the back door. I was doing comedy research in Edinburgh at the time, basically partying hard and getting my mates on the BBC. But from that moment on I was hooked.

My dubious claim to fame is that I have predicted the winner of every Big Brother, Celebrity or Plebian, so here goes. Mystic JoJo's prediction for this year's winner is Pete.

This isn't a sympathy vote cos he has Tourette's, or even a lustful vote cos of his massive cock, it's simply that he is the most aware, most together, most fun, cleverest 24 year old that I have ever seen. I include myself at 24 too....jeez I wish I'd been as wise as him.

Add to that the fact that he is a gorgeous looking boy, with a big fat cock, and an even bigger heart ... that's a winner!

Removing the lustful thoughts from my mind, I'm off on me travels again tomorrow.

Thursday its Birmingham Jongleurs, Friday and Saturday Leicester Jongleurs. No idea who I'm working with, but it's always fun to visit the Midlands. If you're bored and fancy a laugh, come along!



So I'm back from the first lesson, and totally blown away by my first tai chi experience.

The class was small and apart from Sophie the teacher I was the youngest person there, that in itself is a boost. My classmates were all very experienced, so I got a bit of extra help. Watching them go through their paces - forms - was fantastic, and I can't wait till I'm able to do it with them.

I was taught how to get the correct posture, amazing just how bad mine was! I learned the easiest forms and even had a go at 'push hands'. I didn't really know much about tai chi before I went, and I still know very little, but it seems like a really slow version of Kung Fu, the push hands thing is about blocking and leading your opponent rather than allowing them to lead you.

I doubt it'd be that useful if I got mugged, but it seems to be about learning control, of yourself and how to control others, so while it wouldn't stop a knife wielding maniac, perhaps it'll make me more aware of other people's body language and help me to avoid ever being in such a situation.

To think if I hadn't had a touch of insomnia the other week in Leeds, I'd never have seen Mind, Body and Kick Ass Moves on the telly, and would never have experienced what I did tonight...aint telly grand?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I'm off to my first Tai Chi class soon and I am sooooo excited!

I'm not much of a 'group' person, so this is a massive departure for me, I've always preferred solo activities.

Aparently it enhances your sense of balance, which'll be brilliant, I might be able to walk in high heels after a couple of lessons eh?

It's also meant to help you harness your inner energy, and live longer, so I'll end up a kick-ass pensioner in killer heels

Will write more when I return, providing I don't fracture anything.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Best Laid Plans ....

That'll teach me to envisage a weekend of luxury!

Regular readers will know I'm a smoker, I'd rather not be, but previous attempts to give up have failed miserably, so here I am a slave to the weed. I have to say, I still actually enjoy it, which doesn't make giving up easy.

What pisses me off most is the blatant discrimination against us smokers. I like to think I'm a pretty considerate smoker, this weekend for example two of the acts on the bill are vehement non-smokers, and the dressing room at Bristol Jongleurs is tiny and airless, so out of respect for those two I abstained from smoking in there.

I obey the rules regarding not smoking on trains, buses, taxis and anywhere else that has banned it, even in public I am aware of where the smoke is drifting. I also happen to think that my cigarette smoke is far less damaging to the environment than the crap that pours out of exhausts of cars, buses, lorries etc.

So I check into the five-star Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel on Thursday afternoon. I'd checked their website, and was expecting full on luxury. Silly me. I'm one of those smokers who would prefer not to stink out a non-smoking room, so I always insist on getting a smoking room. I do this out of respect for other people, I know that if you don't smoke, the stale aroma of somone else's fags is pretty disgusting.

Does my honesty bring any rewards? Does it buggery! Instead of a suite on the fourth floor like my colleagues were given, I'm relegated to the basement (!). Like a fucking scullery maid!

To say the room was shabby is an understatement. The quilt had mysterious brown stains all over it (are smokers naturally incontinent?), the hot tap in the bath tub wouldn't turn off, so I had a constant stream of hot water dribbling out, the window didn't close properly and I was low enough to the ground for anyone to break in, the list goes on and on. I asked for another room and was told there was nothing else available.

You know what? Next time I'm not gonna ask for a smoking room. I'll get a regular one and stink it out...just because some of us smoke there's no need for anyone to treat us like lepers!

Phew! Rant over.

On a more positive note, the gigs were pretty good, numbers on Thursday and Friday were low, but Saturday was packed to the rafters, and everyone on the bill - Dave Johns, George Egg and Trevor Crook - did a fabulous job. The after gig wind down consisted of pots of tea in the lounge at the hotel, jeez we are getting old!!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Westward Bound

Just a quickie or I'll miss my train.

I'm in Bristol this weekend, gigging at Jongleurs, so if you're bored and want a good laugh, head on down.

We've been put into an extremely posh hotel, with a spa, so I expect to return all glowing and healthy on Sunday.

Have a good weekend folks xx

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Going down the toilet

So I'm just back from doing a gig in Shepherds Bush, the old public conveniences in the middle of Shepherds Bush Green to be exact. Revamped and fumigated, its now a club called Ginglik (answers on a postcard if you know what the hell that means!) and every other Tuesday they have a comedy night.

I've done it once a couple of years ago, and had fun, but when life outside of comedy took over I stopped doing gigs early in the week. Now I'm back doing em and back at the Ginglik.

Alun Cochrane is the resident MC, and he's a joy both to watch and to hang out in the dressing room with. We were joined by my Cannuck comedy pal JJ Whitehead and diamond geezer supreme Jeff Innocent.

The vibe was really laid back, literally in the case of one woman who was almost horizontal on one the sofas at the front! She'd had a hard day apparently.

I find gigs like these far more nerve wracking than playing to 500 beered-up punters, you can see everyone's face and therefore see their reactions, scary stuff!

Even scarier tonight was that I forced myself to abandon my tried and tested routine of knob gags, I toned down the larger than life JoJo, and allowed myself to be more real. This transformation is a huge step for me. While all the smut and fiestiness is also a part of me, these days its a much smaller part.

I'm not that hard drinking, hard shagging, man ravager from hell that I used to be, and recently, doing the old material has felt really fake to me. The reality is that these days I am a celibate, tee-total, drug free, meditating every morning Buddhist, and what I want from my comedy is to connect with people. I still wanna be funny as hell, but I wanna be more honest, and tonight was a big step towards that.

I'm so happy, cos while the jokes were still very much a work in progress, they elicited all kinds of wonderful responses from the audience and inspired me to go further than I'd planned.

If you were in the crowd tonight, I thank you for being supportive, and giving me a chance to drop the mask.

The atmosphere musta been contageous, cos Jeff went on and did some highly personal stuff too, and once again the audience responded brilliantly.

To top off a great night, as JJ, Jeff and I were waiting for the tube, I got recognised by two young trendy girls...apparently I'm a legend! I know it's silly and shallow, but fuck me it feels good when people tell you how much they enjoyed a show you did six months ago.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

F*****g Argos!!!!!!!

So here's the deal. My electric cooker, which is only five years old, broke on Friday night. I went online Saturday morning and found a really good deal on a gas cooker on Argos' website. I have a brand new gas connection sitting there behind the cooker, so there shouldn't be a problem installing it right?


I rang Argos and ordered the cooker, told them my situation - electric out, gas in - and was told 'No problem'. In fact they had a deal on the cooker I'd chosen which meant not only would they disconnect and remove the old one, but deliver and install the new one for no extra money. Credit card details are handed over, and all is wonderful. I wait for a call from the delivery company.

That call came this morning interrupting my daily meditation, and again I clarify the details. The guy on the other end of the line goes silent, and next thing I'm speaking to a female called Lisa. 'Oh no, we don't install gas cookers to brand new connections, there has to have been an old one there in the first place'. 'But surely, I countered, if you move into a brand new house, that means you cannot get a cooker from Argos, it doesn't make sense'.

I was told it made perfect sense, and I guess it does in Argos world, she recommended I ring Argos and cancel the order and obtain a full refund. Nice to see British workers going that extra mile eh?

I did as she said, then found a much better quality cooker at a much better price on the John Lewis website. They don't do intstallation, but a nice man called Dave up the road will do the whole job for me at a great price.

I guess the 'pile em high, sell em cheap' policy of Argos ensures they'll always be profitable, but Customer Service seems to be a foreign country to these retards!

On a happier note, Sunday night's gig in Covent Garden was absolutely brilliant! It's a club called 'The Funny Side of ... Covent Garden' and is in the basement of the old Rumours cocktail bar in Wellington St WC2, now called The Corner Store. Fabulous crowd, great promoters, and a generally friendly vibe...check it out.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The reason why....

I love doing stand-up is for gigs like the last two.

Friday night I trundled off to Chiswick, only to get a call from Simon the promoter, as I was getting off the bus to tell me I was supposed to be at their sister club in Ealing! He he'd been meaning to call me about the change of plans all day, but hadn't gotten around to it. I've known Simon for many years, and basically if you open the dictionary to look up the phrase 'laid back' there's just a photo of him!

He drove me over to Ealing Film Studios, where the other gig is, leaving me just enough time to apply my lippy before we started. I wasn't too happy at the change of venue, but as it turned out it was the best move ever! The audience at Ealing tend to be a bit older and more worldly, so I felt no pressure at all. I just started talking to them, and it was brilliant!

We had a couple who were on their first night out for two years since having their baby...they looked so grateful to be out! We had a table of estate agents who were more than happy to be the butt of many jokes, all kinds of great people.

All the acts who were on at Chiswick were also on here, so I still got to see Rich Hall, who was phenomenal! He's a total inspiration when it comes to stand-up, watching him work is just a gift.

Also on was my old mate Steve Best, back from his year in the US and just on terrific form. There couldn't be a bigger contrast in the styles of these two, but both make you wet yourself laughing. It was less like work for me, and more like a night out.

Last night I was in Chiswick, what a contrast in the demographic of the audience! Obviously the Cup Final makes a difference to the type of people who go to comedy, you tend to get lots of people from abroad and lots of women. Last night we also had a smattering of disgruntled West Ham fans (who knew they came this far west?) who thought a night of comedy would take away the bitter taste of losing in such a way.

Why do people do that? Comedy is a wonderful thing, but it aint a miracle cure! I've had people turn up at gigs who've suffered some kind of major life upheaval and sit there frozen faced throughout the entire show, cos the gags didn't cure him!

Having said that, one of my best ever experiences was years and years ago at The Glee Club in Birmingham. After the show myself and the other acts hung around having a beer with some of the audience. We were sitting with a group of girls, laughing and joking, and one girl took me aside to tell me that her friend, the one who was laughing really loud, had lost her fiance in a dreadful accident three months before and this was the first time anyone had seen her do anything but cry since then. The girl thanked us for giving her friend a break from her life...that was an incredible feeling.

Anyway, last night the crowd started of cool, but warmed up considerably as the night wore on. Rich tore the ass outta the room, dealing with some bizarre, pissed heckles in the way only he can. As I closed the show I told them there were a strange but wonderful crowd, and they were, just like life.

Friday, May 12, 2006

This weekend....

Did a gig in Chelmsford last night and had a fab time. Met another female comic, Aussie Kim Hope, who was great and a really cool chick. It's such a rarity, that I hung around to watch her and we travelled back to London together.

Tonight and tomorrow I'm in Chiswick, at Headliners Comedy Club. According to the website, Rich Hall is on...I do hope so! I'm a massive fan of Rich's and its been ages since I saw him do stand-up as himself.

I remember years ago when I was doing my telly show Funny Business, I had to interview Rich and was pretty nervous about it. He was a huge big star and the day of filming was the first time I'd met him.

I'd been having grief with the director of the show, an 'artistic' type who spent up to five hours lighting the wall behind me. He knew sod all about comedy - there's a shock - he used to edit the punchlines out of video clips to make them fit!

Anyway he was being his usual 'creative' self and driving me, the crew and eventually Rich insane. Rich made a comment that was sooooooo dry and cutting that the director didn't even realise he was being ridiculed, but the rest of us got it and it lightened the mood totally.

Another Rich story is that the character of Mo in The Simpsons is based on him. He used to do the Letterman show loads and loads and was friends with all of the writers. When they left to start The Simpsons, they asked Rich if he wanted to do the voice of one of the characters, as it was based on him. Not fancying being a cartoon voice, Rich turned it down, so they got someone to impersonate Rich!

Ever since I heard that story I can't watch The Simpsons without thinking of Mr Hall. I'm glad he turned it down. If he'd taken the gig, he'd be loaded and living full time in the US and we'd all be deprived the joy of watching this incredible comedian.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Classic Heckles and Racism

So it's Sunday afternoon and the mundane tasks of life have taken over from the showbiz glamour of my gigs. The bed's stipped awaiting clean sheets, the dirty ones are mid-spin in the washer, and life is good.

Last night reminded me just how much I love Up The Creek. Friday's gig was an odd one, but last night was vintage UTC.

I was MC'ing, and had a great start, Mickey Flannagan stormed, new (to me) boy Andrew Bird held his own with the rowdy crowd and had some great lines - he's definitely one to watch - then I brought Terry Alderton on.

I've known Terry for as long as I've been doing stand-up practically, and when I was a simple open spot he was so supportive and encouraging. Over the years we've kinda geed each other up at various points in our careers.

So Terry is firing on all cylinders, taking the audience into his surreal world of strange voices and illogical reasoning. He's trying to guess a woman's age in the front row by throwing an imaginary set of darts at an equally imaginary dartboard. The first three add up to 26 and he's incorrect, so he has another go. As he throws the third dart, a voice at the back of the room shouts "OWWW'. It was classic UTC crowd behaviour. The whole room collapsed in fits of laughter, but none more so than Terry himself. He lost it for a couple of minutes. It was a joy to behold.

The club used to be well known for the quality of their hecklers, but in recent times that's kinda fizzled out. Last night it felt that the spirit of Malcolm was truly back in the room.

Heckling is a wierd thing. The usual stuff, you know 'rubbish' or 'fuck off' is just tedious, drunks just talking too loud or spouting gibberish that sounds *really* funny in their head just pisses you off, but every once in a while you get a stroke of genius that just lifts the whole gig up. I love it when someone in the crowd makes me laugh.

Friday night we had an example of the worst kind of heckling, the ignorant wanker. The middle spot was the lovely Stefano Paolini, who was wowing the crowd with his beatbox stuff and his impressions, Mid flow he was interruped by a young boy shouting 'get on with it you, Wop'. The whole room gasped in shock, but the little fucker had no idea. He thought he was being funny, using a word he didn't know the meaning of.

Stefano handled it so brilliantly, he was a little taken aback but he regained his cool, and asked the idiot if he called his black and asian friends by their relevant derogatory racial nicknames. The kid said no, and Stefano said 'Well then you're a coward. If you're gonna be a racist, have the courage of your convictions". A massive cheer came up from the crowd and Stefano stormed the rest of his set.

The kid appologised immediately after Stefano came offstage, and admitted he had no idea what the word meant. Sadly, he reflects a rise in what I see as 'casual racism'. I know that racism can never be obliterated, but there was a time when people knew enough to at least be ashamed for their thoughts. These days it seems that shame has gone.

Bearing in mind this happened the day after the BNP gained 11 seats in Barking and Dagenham, making them the official opposition party in that borough, it seems like it's ok to hate people for being different again.

This disgusts me. Racism is the only thing I've ever been really passionate about. Mainly cos I just don't get it. If your life is shit, do something about it. Don't blame the bloke with the black skin or the 'funny' accent you dumb fuck.

The scary thing about the new racists is that they often have black and asian friends, and justify it as 'oh well he's my mate, he was born here, its the illegals I hate'. What a load of bollocks. Hate is hate and it has no place in a civilised society. Do these people really think that once the BNP get rid of the "illegals" they're gonna stop? We've all seen the footage of Nick Griffin spouting his bile at a closed meeting of his fellow nazis.

We need to get rid of this notion of national identity. We are all human beings, and we are all striving for the same things. A roof over our heads, food in our bellies, happiness. "They" are no different from "Us". Yes there are people who take the piss, but for every Eastern European who fiddles the DSS I can show you a so-called "British" person doing the same damn thing.

We need to stop being scared of each other, stop blaming each other for our misfortune, and start taking responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for all of the human race....otherwise we're all fucked!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Hip Hip Hooray!

Hurrah and other noises of celebration! It's the weekend, the sun is shining, and I am working at one of my most favourite comedy clubs tonight and tomorrow. It's the legendary Up The Creek in Greenwich.

This gig hold special significance for me in so many ways.

Number one cos it was started by the wonderful Malcom Hardee many, many moons ago, I still miss the old bugger.

Number two cos it's the scene of my worst ever death. It was my 7th ever gig and I was, quite frankly, a bit shit. I had way more confidence than skill, and even that failed me as the notorious Sunday night crowd bayed for blood, as was their wont. Strange bunch they were, they wanted to see my tits, then they wanted to see my vag, yet as I offered the loudest of all the loud-mouthed oafs a chance to come up onstage and see it, he seemed reluctant all of a sudden.

Malcom tried to get me off, but I told him to fuck off as I was doing my time! I'm blushing just thinking about it all. Of course the television cameras were there to record this momentous event, just to compound the humilliation!

The next day, I gave up comedy for six months, and it took me 18 months to pluck up the courage to return to the club. That night was very different, I'd learned a bit more about how to do this comedy thing, and the audience took me to their collective busoms, it was bliss!

Since then it's been my favourite London gig, so to have a whole two nights there is a bonus...really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kicking Ass

I love this photo! This flower only grows out of the base of the sacred tree in the grounds of Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, and just looking at it makes my heart soar.

Did a gig at the Comedy Camp in Soho tonight, its a gay-friendly gig, and the crowd is one of the most appreciative audiences you could ever play for. I mucked about with my set and had a brilliant time. If you're in town on a Tuesday night and fancy a laugh head down there.

I've decided I'm gonna learn to do Tai Chi, `I was watching the BBC3 series Mind Body and Kick Ass Moves on Saturday night and was totally inspired. It'll be Kung Fu next, then the hecklers will have to watch their asses!


Monday, May 01, 2006

Eeeh The Things You Talk About

You'd think that sharing a car with two other comedians, the conversations would be about the best and worst gigs we've done, how trashed we've gotten, who we've shagged recently, etc. All the usual rock and roll stuff.

But no.

Last night I was lucky enough to get a ride home from Leeds with Jamaican comedian Tony Hendricks and Kiwi boy Al Pitcher, and our conversations were the most obscure I've had in a long time. The first hour was spent discussing modern art...if you saw any one of us you'd never guess we were fans of Joseph Beuys, we then moved on to discuss Shakespeare, performance art and the black stuff they put on top of astroturf these days! Just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover.

Talking of Leeds, this weekend they introduced an extra show on Saturday night, which meant that the first one started at 7.15 and the second started at 10pm. I don't claim to be a massive expert on crowd dynamics, but in my opinion, the early crowd were too sober and the late crowd were too pissed, so neither show was as pleasurable as it could've been. Oh well, business is business I guess. However, five shows in 4 days???? It's like having a proper job!