Saturday, 13 August 2011

Edinburgh flat

It’s about this time in the festival that a lot of comedians start to get homesick. I’m not. Even the steep walk up to my venue is getting easier although I do believe Edinburgh should have installed Stannah stair lifts on the hills rather than invest in a tram.
My flat in London is very small and this Edinburgh flat is amazing. The living room is the size of a stately home. You could swing a lion in there – I feel like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The only quite creepy thing is the main picture in my bedroom. It’s of ‘Billy the celebrated rat killing dog performing his wondered feat of killing 100 rats in 5 minutes’ in 1822. Nasty. Although ‘a hundred rats in 5 minutes’ does sound like a fast fringe event. The audience watching is largely posh men in top hats. Is it petty that I counted exactly how many they had in? (Answer 31, but I like to think maybe some got in on 2 for 1s).
The flat has lots of antiquey bits and bobs, including an old hard hat that looks like it was worn to colonise Africa. It ‘s the kind of thing that people put on in films and suddenly get transported back in time to lift the ‘curse of the cobra’. To cure slight cabin fever caused by the rain and to cope with pre-show adrenaline, I put it on and tell my flatmate to hit me on the head as hard as possible. `Wow the hat's good!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Ex-pat twat

Clive is coming to stay tonight. In England he a loveable twat but in Greece he is a GOD - a frickin God. Soon you will see images of him on ornate water jugs wearing his Leeds United top. He was a veritable deity in Spain too. It's like one of those HSBC ads: pic of snake in England and caption 'scary'. A pic of snake in China 'delicacy'.
Clive in Greece: 'Phwoar'
Clive in England: 'Shoulda gone to Specsavers.'

In Greece (and Spain) he is catnip for girls and popular with boys in an 'ungay' way (He's a bit sexist and homophobic but can't see it himself). He doesn't even pick up foreign languages easily: By his own admission it took him ages to grasp a sandwich was 'un bocadillo' in Spanish and not a 'une Bodaeccia'. He actually used to refer to Spanish as 'Gibber'.

He wipes his teeth with a napkin after he has a Ducado cigarette with an espresso, but non-English girls still touch their hair when he is around, giggling coquettishly and saying 'Really, Clive?'hanging on his every word. I have finally worked out how he does it - ridiculous confidence and people hoping he might be like James Bond.

Cultural differences can make the person seem so much more glam and people often can't get over their pre-conception of a particular nationality so they just see the stereotype. It took Madonna eight years to finally realise Guy Ritchie was NOT a Cockney geezer and that he wore a flat cap because he shot grouse, not because he swept chimneys.

I was Clive's flatmate in Madrid for a year. He cooked occasionally and some women thought he was the new messiah for doing so. They'd point at me and say "She didn't cook for you?" He didn't need Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to spread the word about what a genius he was with a loaf (it was only sodding garlic bread!), he was his own publicist at every possible opportunity.

Sometimes he did chilli con carne but with Baked Beans because his mum gave him the recipe and she made it that way cos he hated kidney beans despite having never tried them. Clive regularly had people bring him his supply of Baked Beans, Marmite and Viz from the UK. He wasn't even adventurous with Spanish food when at people's houses, but still the adoration came as girls and their mothers (the girls still lived with their families until they had a husband) cooked him fried eggs to go with his Patatas Bravas. Then after the meal, while the girls' dads went and had a whiskey and a cigar they'd invite Clive to come too but he'd decline and offer to help 'the ladies' wash up. BING! He was suddenly covered in shimmering pink lipstick from the girls and vicious purplish out-of-control lovebites from their mums!

To be fair, women in Spain are cool and feisty. Gender expectations have changed since Clive and I lived there 12 years ago and I'm sure the same is true of Greece. He may soon have to move to Saudi to have the same effect on the native people of a female persuasion.

To add to his mystique of 'The Englishman abroad' Clive teaches people idioms that nobody in England actually says. His last Greek girlfriend, told me she liked Obama because he "knows his onions". I've never met a person learning English yet who doesn't love "It's raining cats and dogs." Al Qaeda may hate the West but they love that phrase. If they could just be on Clapham High Street when it's tipping it down and be able to turn to someone in a bowler hat and say "It's raining cats and dogs" and the man say "Yes! by jove you're right." the world would become more peaceful. England is bloody disappointing for visitors; Nobody says 'spiffing', we don't have pea-souper fogs, and we don't even call policemen 'Bobbies' (another overseas favourite).

USA has Disneyland. We should have Downton Abbeyland. I detest the programme, it makes me want to vomit 'un-femininely' on Julian Fellowes' fat peanut of a head with its glorification of the class system, the proper way to behave if you are a woman, servant or 'other', and patronising Noblesse Oblige. I cannot stand all the quaintness of strict traditions like 'what horse goes with what pair of shoes?' and 'Good lord, one must never the port to the left in one's hand if one has a hook.' All these petty rigmaroles and rituals, is it quaintness or OCD? Either way, people outside the UK seem to want more of it along with other fool's gold exports Clive, old idioms and Sarah Ferguson (Yes Sarah Ferguson. Sorry Oprah, you're a genuine hero of mine. I wanted to break the news to you gently.)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Edinburger and chips

The man playing the bagpipes outside Selfridges yesterday was a tourist's dream come true: Tartan kilt, Harris Tweed jacket, big socks and a face like a rouged-up pufferfish. It looked like the pipes were gonna blow back down his throat and inflate his duodenum into a failed balloon animal (If I ever form a double act, I want to call it 'Duodenum').

My intestines have developed their own Pavlovian/Midlothian response to bagpipes as a result of doing the Edinburgh Fringe: EXCITED. But a bit sick. Excited. But "Aargh, don't you know any calming whale songs mate?"

40 million sperm travel to the ovum hoping to be the successful one. And that's also what it's like being a comedian doing a show in Edinburgh. Much like a marathon, some train for ages, others turn up, and others do it in a very sweaty costume.

Like most comedians, I'm a glutton for punishment. And for chips. One year I even lived near the ace Chip shop on Broughton Street that does a separate menu for men and women. The Female one might come with salad and the morning after pill. I bloody love the fact it also has a DJ on Saturdays. It's one of those funny and brilliant things I forget about til I see it again, like walking along Canal Street in Manchester and seeing that someone's crossed out the C and the S so it closer befits being the main gay thoroughfare. Edinburgh also used to have a bus pass campaign and the man's name on the mocked up card was Len de Hand. Every year I'd wonder if you could take such diabolical liberties and make up a surname like that? Is it Dutch? Even during the fringe that has to be the most laboured pun ever.

It's hardly Trainspotting but my chip consumption during the festival goes way up. Putting on a show when 3000 others are also putting on a show makes me need to pack in carbs like a mofo. I worry that my heart won't be as brave as i expected. In 2008 I accidentally slipped on one and skated quite far..and then fell over. C*nts applauded.

On the second day of my show in 2008 I had several reviewers booked in to see the show. My promoters respected the fact I didn't want to know they were coming as it makes me nervous. If ticket sales are low, the thing to do is give away free tickets so the room looks fuller. I was chuffed to see so many faces as stepped from behind the curtain and the show was fine apart from every time I spoke to the crowd. People didn't want to answer my questions and shrugged them off - No,they didn't have computers, no they didn't go on holiday, no they didn't watch tv, no they never went to Starbucks... I jokingly asked if they were the Amish. "No." came the reply from one man "We're all homeless," gesticulating to ninety-nine percent of the room. "But a young guy gave us all tickets to come for free to get out of the rain." To be fair they were lovely and every time I walked under the bridge on Cowgate, one of them tapped me on the knee from their blanket to say hi.

My first year in Edinburgh I flyered for myself (i was doing a 2 hander but the other hand was off wanking himself off about how hilarious his joke about a train company was..dont get me started. I complained so much at the time i seemed to become a legend to all the fab members of We Are Klang). Two girls took a flyer off me but said they wouldn't come unless I told them a joke. I told them it didnt work like that but their attitude was I must be shite, my ego took over and I told them a shortish gag about lesbians. One laughed but the other said "I think you just called us gay. Did you call us gay?" I explained that I didn't but there was nothing wrong with that if they were etc. She called me a 'fucking fuckwank'then threatened to hit me. I just snatched back the flyer and tutted, "Fine. Don't bloody come."

My fave audience member ever was a a free fringe show at an absurd venue where the stage was in front of the kitchen so while i did my solo show she would come in and carry out a leg of lamb from behind me. It was like panto with carcusses. Anyway, at the compilation show, while waiting to go on stage, a drunken punter told me and the compere (Lewis Bryan of London comedy circuit fame) she had accidentally cut off a bit of genital with hedge clippers while trying to look nice for her boyfriend. I couldn't do my set cos I was laughing so much.

God Bless the fringe!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Ugly Johnny

Until a few days ago, if you had shown me a picture of John Galliano and asked me who it was, my guess would have been Jack the Ripper in panto.

I only knew John Galliano as one of those people that designs supposedly radical stuff for the catwalk, like a jumper with the sleeves made from a soldier's uniform. Genius or The Narcissist's New Clothes? I'm always suspicious of people using military decor or royal stuff in fashions. It's the same as dressing up as Spiderman in your thirties; adopting 'power' icons simply alerts the world to a certain internal inadequacy.

He also does tacky shit they sell in Debenhams, like T-shirts with his name in big letters. There's one that looks like it has newsprint all over it, and even then the newspaper headlines say 'Go Go Galliano!'. This could have been a genuine newspaper article this week, but with 'Go, go' being used in the 'fuck off' sense of the word, rather than the supportive sense.

As the story goes; man walks into a bar (ok, a cafe), gets pissed and says 'Hey, why the long (Ok, Jewish) faces? The girls aren't Jewish but because he thinks they are he tells them their grandparents would have been gassed, that they are ugly and that he loves Hitler.

Oh God, yeah, he's a piece of anti-Semitic crap - no shit Shylock! But Hitler wasn't keen on gays either so it was also totally ridiculous - talk about low self-esteem. The man was drunk and was trying to be as offensive as possible so he brought up the subject of Hitler. He lost his job, Natalie Portman metaphorically kicked him in the nuts (hooray), he faces legal proceedings...yadda yadda yadda (to quote various people in Seinfeld, Lenny Bruce and assorted other Jews).

He deserves all he gets, except for the importance given to his words. Yes, in vino veritas. He clearly meant them, but his views on anything apart from the use of tartan with polka dots should not be respected by anyone. After the Hitler and ugly thing, I'm guessing his next killer gambit was gonna be that they were a 'poo poo'. Was it shocking? Aside from childish words coming from a decaying (to address Mr Galliano's insecurities) botoxed face, no. And even that isn't shocking. Mel Gibson did a similar thing.

I mentioned once onstage that my parents were Jewish and a man in the audience shouted 'turn the gas on'. Obviously I didn't like it but he was just an idiot who thought it was hilarious banter and that's all he knew about Jews. It's seen as the ultimate taboo to say. He came up to me afterwards and told me his mate was half-German. I explained that the war was over and that my maternal grandmother was entirely German and that at her funeral, apart from my dad's Mondeo, the car park was full of BMWs and Mercedi (what is the plural of Mercedes?) so the 'German' thing didn't really cut it. I really got the impression he was more of a tool than a genuine racist.

I'm not saying because Galliano was drunk and stupid, his words don't count. I'm aware his twattishness could set the other idiots off. He and Mel G (Anti-Semitic Spice?) were beautiful-looking and successful in age-conscious industries until they were both less so and felt the need to blame something for their fading stardom. But come on, it's so pitiful, it is funny. What you gonna blame for being an arsehole? Yourself? The booze? No, the Jews!

Next week: Katie Price blames the Dalai Lama for another failed marriage.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

From rage to middle age

I could never be a suicide bomber.

I have numerous backpacks. Am I being retro? Do they still use backpacks? One of the London bombers had a Fitness First one. I wonder if his gym membership was up yet. Did he want to look buff for the virgins? Wouldn't a Virgin Active backpack have been more appropriate?

If you truly believe you are doing heroic work, isn't that its own reward or could David Cameron sell Big Society better if there were virgins, albeit re-conditioned ones? If suicide bombers are doing it for the 'minge benefits' (have i just become a teenage boy??) they should just go to a Justin Bieber concert and see how he gets millions of virgins screamimg for him (although the music might make the bombers kill themselves anyhow).

I'm asking too many questions here and not answering them - it's too Sex and The City as a style, I'm even using a MacBook. Shit, now product placement, just like the second, dreadful shameful film that makes women look like idiots. It shouldn't, but women, like Muslims all get lumped into one group by some people. This is about suicide bombers.

Anyway, no, I couldn't be a suicide bomber. Yes, I have the rucksacks and an array of wheely suitcases (for the suicide bomber with back pain) that have lifetime guarantees (that can be sadly cut short). Yes, I have the occasional bout of fury, last spotted in the post office this afternoon when the stamp machine wouldn't take my 50p and that gormless man on the poster annoyed me. Only the UK could have a bumbling man who looks like he has never heard of female orgasms or the internet as the poster boy for the national mail distribution network. I couldn't be a suicide bomber cos I lack the focus and the dedication. I admire these qualities, I once went to an afternoon's "Break the habit of procrastination" workshop (was a work thing). The 'trainer' congratulated us on 'making it to the workshop'. We all did sarcastic laughs then she said to stop being perfectionists and just do it. Good advice, especially for the creepy bloke who said he had taken 7 years to choose a new TV. I admire suicide bombers for just doing it. Perhaps I could have done it in my 20's. I was angrier and more spontaneous then.

In Central London there are tons of newsagents that sell souvenir postcards, including one I still find pretty horrible but in my 20's it enraged me; it is a photo of naked boobs that have been drawn on with marker pen on so they look like mice (the nipple's the nose etc) and it says something like 'squeak, squeak'. So i would go in the newsagent's and choose tons of magazines, soft drinks, chocolate bars, pens, maybe ask for lots of packets of fags..shit loads of stuff piled on the counter, then just as I was about to pay, I'd casually ask, "Do you sell those cards?" They'd say "Yes", then I'd say "WELL THEY'RE DEMEANING TO WOMEN, I'M NOT GONNA BUY ANY OF THIS NOW!" and storm out.

I bloody loved it but did it help? And this is the thing with suicide bombing; it may be 'admirable' but the 'middle-aged' (i'm not sure i need the inverted commas) me sees it as just petulant. If swearing is seen as having a limited vocabulary (is it?) what about suicide bombers?

OXBRIDGE WANKER DEBATING BOFFIN-TYPE: ..and that concludes why I believe A-levels should henceforth be made harder.