Saturday, December 30, 2006

Out With The Old....

Soooo after a much needed rest and catch up on the household duties that have fallen by the wayside over the last month, its time to get back to work.

My NYE this year is in Nottingham at the Jongleurs club there. I'm on with a great bunch of guys - Johnny Candon, Colin Cole and Anthony King - so it should be a great night.

One of the greatest bonuses about being a stand-up is that you get to work on New Year's Eve. I spent most of my teens, 20's and 30's chasing the big night out. Taking cabs across London seeking out the biggest and best parties. Arriving to half empty houses only to hear that it was rocking 30 minutes ago, the usual palaver.

Now I get paid double money to have fun with a bunch of people who also want to have fun - perfect!

Whatever you're doing guys, have a great one. Let's see 2006 out in style!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Best Ever

Happy Boxing Day folks, hope you're having fun.

I had the most wonderful day with my pal Steve yesterday, lotsa laughs, lotsa delicious food, and a few drinks. No hassles, no rows, no unrest...what a perfect day.

Thanks babe xx

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's Heeeeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

Yayyyyyyyy!!!!! It's Christmas!

Did my last of five shows in Nottingham last night and I got to MC it. We all - Raymond Mearns, Simon Bligh and Sinck - had a cracking time, but I have to say it was with great relief that I said goodnight to the crowd. Its great to do these shows but you tend to lose sight of the festive spirit at times.

Also, after five days and nights in the Holiday Inn Express, I was starting to go stir crazy. So when my alarm woke me up at 6.30am to get my train back to London today, I didn't mind one single bit. By 11am I was in my home, opening a ton of cheques from Jongleurs, suddenly the shows all seemed very worthwhile!

Nipped out for a few bits and pieces, then spent the afternoon getting my life back in order.

Now I'm sitting here after a lovely dinner, with a glass of Baileys over ice, a lovely clean flat and the promise of an exquisite day tomorrow.

I'm off to sunny South London for lunch with my bestest pal Stephen K Amos. He's done all the shopping and will do most of the cooking - gawd bless him! We've had a couple of Christmases together at my place but this is my first time dressing up and venturing out to his place, and I have to say, I am sooooooooo excited!

Whatever your plans folks, I wish you peace, success and happiness.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Saga Continues...

Sooo did Reading on Saturday night and had the pleasant surprise of bumping into Michael Smiley at Paddington, both of us with time for a coffee and a catch-up.

The gig was lively, but all of us - Paul Chowdhry, Rhys Darby and Tony Gerrard - had a great time. Yay!

Dashing to the station afterwards, who should I see on the platform but Smiley again! It was great to have company both in the wait for the train and on the journey. His acting career is really taking off, I'm so chuffed for him.

Sunday morning was sheer bliss, a long sleep, the papers, nice breakfast...divine! Then in my vain attempt to budget I decided to download some free anti-virus software and try and tidy up the old sony viao I was using. It ran sooo slow it was as tho it was steam powered! Six hours later and a number of bugs had been identified, so I clicked on the button to fix the problems. This of course resulted in the whole computer going tits up! Technology is not my friend!

This morning, I got up early and headed out for a much needed manicure. While I sat there being pampered I thought 'sod the budget' I'll go get a new MacBook. Less than 40 minutes later I was in the Apple shop on Regent Street getting the lowdown on the best one for me. The model was chosen, and I cleverly paid by chip and pin avoiding the massive queue. They email the invoice to you which is so much simple (tho it hasn't arrived yet).

I explained about my broadband and was told that it would work fine, so I ran home all excited, and set it up. Guess what? It's not compatible! Bugger! The only solution Mac support could come up with was to drag my ass back to Regent St and return the laptop. That wasn't gonna solve any of my problems now was it? I rang the broadband provider and they told me to buy a £40 router from PC World, but while I was on the phone to them a miracle happened and I found myself online!

The wireless thingy has found some way of connecting me! Thank you Lord Buddha!

I will still get the router, just don't have much time as I'm off to Nottingham for my final five Xmas shows tomorrow, but in the meantime gawd bless whoever or whatever made this damn thing work!

Have a great week folks xx

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What a Week!!!!!

Been all over the shop this week, Watford (twice), Oxford, Reading , and last night Birmingham Jongleurs doing Xmas shows. I can't recall the last time I worked 6 nights in a row but it was probably when I did the Melbourne Festival in 2000.

There of course I had the advantage of sunshine and relaxed attitudes, no such luck travelling on commuter trains all around the southwest.

Having said that, the gigs have been amazing! Everyone I've worked with have had crackers too, hurrah!

Last night in Brum was amazing and when the show manager went around the tables during the interval I was singled out for extra praise, which is always nice eh? Even better at 12.30 in my hotel room, my mobile rang and it was Addy van der Borg and Stephano Paolini who were on their way back to London, thanking me for doing such a good job as MC. How lovely.

Had major computer nightmares all week, and am now using an ancient laptop which for some reason, waited till I'd typed a massive blog yesterday then crashed, causing me to lose the whole thing.

So I'm keeping this one short, in Reading tonight, come and say hi if you're there, if not have a cracking Saturday xx

Monday, December 11, 2006

Goodwill to All Men

Apparently its the season for it.

So, I did three nights in Glasgow, doing sets rather than in my comfort zone as MC. I was more than a little nervous, and on Thursday night it seems my nerves were well placed.

As I walked into the venue with the loveable scamp that is Johnny Candon, we were told that there were 40 drunken sailors in and that they were already on their second warning. The first warning was for smoking indoors, gawd knows what the second one was for.

Aaah the lovely smoking ban. Got a real taste of what it'll be like from next July onwards. Somehow in the summer its not such a big deal, the room is much fresher without all that smoke and its a great way of smoking less as you really think about each cigarette. When it's raining and freezing cold, it does seem more of an infringement on our civil liberties.

As the gig began, Mike Milligan, who was MC'ing, went in hard and took control of the room, and even the sailors shut up for a bit. Sadly this wasn't to last. Johnny did a great set but it was kinda spoiled by these drunken wankers.

One of the good things about going on second is that you get a chance to read the room. I went on and ignored them for a good 2/3rds of my set then their noise became unbearable. It was as if I'd left my iPod headphones on. I couldn't concentrate on what I was trying to say, and I could see that the rest of the crowd were more than a little pissed off with the Navy boys.

The old me woulda ranted and raved at them, calling them all the c**ts under the sun, but I tried a different tack, I calmly explained that they were very selfish, that the rest of the room were on their Xmas nights out too, and they were spoiling it for everyone. It was as if I was their mum, I just kept telling them how rude and selfish they were, to cheers from the rest of the audience.

Within 10 minutes of the interval, there were eight of them left! I suspect their commanding officers had as much to do with that as the bouncers.

Needless to say, as Johnny and I sat shivering outside Dino's cafe drinking cappucino's and pretending we were abroad on Friday afternoon, the pair of us were not looking forward to that night's gig.

What a contrast! Friday night there was like a really good, regular Saturday night. All of us knocked em dead, and I even got back to the hotel in time to watch Johnathan Ross on the telly! I like doing sets!

Saturday night was tougher, but I had another felt good. I've always MC'd these shows in the past, I thought it was cos my act was too rude for the 'corporate' audiences. Times have caught up with me, I'm really only mildly saucy these days, and it's kinda nice to be done and dusted in 20 minutes.

Having said that, I'm back in the comfort zone this week, MC'ing shows all over the shop - Watford, Oxford, and Birmingham. I'm doing six nights on the trot! Blimey its like having a proper job! The line-ups look great tho, so we should have a great week...I'll keep ya posted.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Up, Up and Away

Yep its jet-setting time again.

In a couple of hours I'll be off to glamourous Luton Airport to fly to Glasgow for three Xmas shows, wooohooooo!

I'm doing sets, which means I won't have to keep running up and down the stairs for a fag, I can do my bit and go back to the hotel and smoke myself silly. Yay!

Gonna do a bit of Xmas shopping, it should be a bit quieter than Oxford Street was yesterday hopefully. Not sure who's on the bill but if its the same as the website, it should be a great weekend.

One trend I've noticed over the last couple of weeks is the amount of relationships that have ended. Christmastime and the year's end seems to be a time when people reflect what they have achieved and what it is they want from life. Either that or some folks are just too cheap to buy a decent present!

In a bid not to be cynical I watched Love Actually last night. I dunno what it is about Hugh Grant but when Richard Curtis works with him, he just becomes so fanciable! Any other movie I've seen him in, he has no affect at all. Of course it was all corny and silly and everything works out right in the end, but it was an enjoyable fairy tale.

Good to see my mates Junior Simpson and Marcus Brigstocke doing their acting thing in it too.

Have a great weekend folks xxx

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Just A Quickie

Found this tribute to Malcolm Hardee on YouTube...take a look.

The Late Great Malcolm Hardee

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Expectations....Always The Best Way

Sooooo last night I was on my way to The Comedy Store to do a benefit gig for Beating Bowel Cancer, when I got a text from my pal Gina Yashere inviting me to her agents' Christmas Party. I still wasn't feeling great but thought 'sod it' and messaged her back saying I'd love to go.

When I got to the Store, the lovely Stephen K Amos had turned up to see me in between gigs, so I invited him along too.

The gig started off a bit chaotic, Junior Simpson was meant to be the MC but he'd had to cancel, and they got Shappi Korsandi in to fill his space, I really didn't fancy doing a set so I asked her if she'd swap and gawd bless her she said yes.

So I MC'd - really glad I wasn't doing a set as the audience seemed a little bit unused to live comedy - and brought on a cavalcade of comedy talent including Christian Reilly (Shappi's new husband), Geoff Norcott, Ed Petrie, Shappi and Paul Sinha. Everyone did great sets and Shappi's auctioneering skills raised £500 for a Wasps Rugby shirt.

The audience had a great time and the organsisers were really pleased with everything, so it was with a glad heart that I made my way over to meet Gina at Soho House. We got there about 11.30, and a lot of people had already left. Those that were there had obviously made good use of the free bar too!

Gina was fab, introducing me to everyone including Lenny Henry who is huge! He's also dead friendly, and his teasing of Gina cracked me up. My old mate Sean Hughes was there, as was Rosie who used to work at The Comic Strip offices a million years ago when I was doing the PR for The Bullshitters.

Steve turned up with the lovely Dan from Jongleurs just as it was all winding down, so we went off to The Groucho Club. Having reminisced with Rosie about Keith Allen, who should I bump into but the man himself. I've known Keith since I was 18 but haven't seen much of him over the last decade or so, in fact the last time I saw him was almost 2 years ago at Malcolm Hardee's funeral. We had a little catch up and talked loads about Lily and how brilliantly she's doing. He even thanked me for sticking up for her on MySpace. It was really good to see him.

There were a few other faces in there Neil Jordan the film director and Cillian Murphy the very cute actor, plus a lot of 'industry' people all slightly the worse for wear.

I realised it was my first time at a showbiz bash sober! What was odd (to me) was that I had a really cool time anyway, no booze, no coke, just lots of laughs. I even stayed till 3am!

Gina doesn't drink either, so bless her she gave me a lift home which just made for a perfect night out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ups and Downs

Soooo the silly season has begun.

Gigs are no longer gigs, they are rooms full of people on works' Xmas outings, desperate to have a good time and blow the boss's budget if it kills them.

I enjoy the challenge of doing Xmas shows, you really never know what will be thrown at you and that keeps it interesting to say the least.

So on Thursday I got the train to Nottingham, to do a last minute gig at Jongleurs. I think it was their first Christmas night. They'd done the place up and even tho it was technically November, it felt a bit festive. It wasn't busy, about 100 people, so on paper it looked like we were gonna have an easy introduction to the coming month.

The bill was cracking, lovely, cuddly Mickey D as MC, musical comedy from Rick Wright (who always nails every gig I've ever seen him do) and the very funny (and very silly) Glenn Wool.

Mickey started the show in his usual chilled manner, and immediately this woman at the front started chipping in. She was seriously drunk and despite there being 6 chairs around the table had chosen to squash herself on one of her workmates' seat.

Mickey tried to deal with her tactfully and she began shouting all kinds of personal abuse at him. He eventually silenced her, and brought me on. I left her alone initially, but of course she didn't want to be ignored. She was rat arsed on red wine and wanted the world - or at least the other 99 people in the room - to focus on her and not us interlopers on the stage. I was good natured with her, had a bit of banter with her workmates who all looked like they wished she would just shut the fuck up, and before I knew it, my time was up.

Glenn went on, by this time she'd been warned twice to be quiet, and she started up again with her drunken abuse. Glenn basically gave her the rope and the dozy mare hung herself with it. Halfway through his blinding set, her and her poor colleagues left the building, making a huge fuss as they did of course.

I haven't been drunk for over 6 years now, I'll have the odd drink, but seeing that woman made me recall why I made the conscious decision never to get like that again! I don't think I was ever that nasty as a drunk but I sure as hell know I wasn't as witty and charming as I thought I was in my head.

Back to London on Friday, and after battling my way on London Underground (some days London just seems broken) I was doing the Balham Banana. It's one of the longest-running and most popular comedy clubs in the country. I guess it is considered a 'proper' comedy club.

It's so popular with comedians that I get to play there once a year these days, so it had been a good while since I was last there. It was interesting to see the differences in the audience, reflected I guess by the kind of people who have moved into Balham.

Thirteen years ago when I did my first open spot there, it was a lairy south London comedy night, a good mix of people but predominantly working class. On Friday night the front row were a bunch of Estate Agents with very plummy accents on their works' do. I hadn't thought about these gigs being Xmas shows until that point. I had an OK gig, nothing special but nothing terrible, so was determined to rock the joint when I went back on Saturday night.

On Saturdays you do two shows - a double up without the travelling, yay! - and I was opening in the little room upstairs, again it seemed to be filled with large groups of people rather than lots of couples or small gangs of mates. They also seemed a little twee, but I moderated myself and did fine.

Opening the second half downstairs, my last chance to have a cracker, I walked on to an air of indifference from the crowd. Lots of them were just settling in from the break, people were texting on their phones, a gang of girls were chatting (obviously they hadn't seen each other for a while and needed to catch up on all the gossip, tho why they chose a comedy club to do it in gawd knows).

There's no point in bullshitting, I didn't die but it was only my years of experience that prevented that from happening. I used every trick in the book and got some laughs, but never once got the entire room onside.

This uncomfortable experience was negated by getting the chance to have a catch up with my mate Michael Smiley, just back from making a horror film in Thailand, and getting to see a photo of his gorgeous baby boy.

I took the tube home and as I was waiting for my connection at Embankment station I saw the most horrific thing, this elderly man was dashing for the tube that was just about to leave, when he tripped and fell, banging his head on the steel floor of the train. He then slipped, so that his head was in the gap between the train and the platform. Luckily there was a nurse on the train and she moved him to safety, the underground staff came and kinda looked at him for a bit while radioing for help.

There was blood everywhere and the lady that was with him seemed frozen. As was I, I have to say, I figured there was nothing I could contribute so I chanted a few buddhist mantras for him under my breath and hoped he'd be ok. Then we were told to get on this train as no more trains would be stopping there for a while, so I don't know what happened to him.

I was in a bit of a state of shock as I stood on the packed train, and I realised that no matter how disappointing my night had been, it was a helluva lot better than that poor man's.

Woke up this morning shivvering and sneezing so I guess its the first cold of the winter, shame cos I have a birthday party to go to tonight, but not sure how welcome I'd be infecting everyone!