I have been a fan of The Bugle podcast for quite some time now. It’s an unmissable combination of bullshit, puns, 80s rock singing, and jokes hosted by The Daily Show’s John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman. I have managed to get my non-comedy fan friend into this podcast too and when I found out that Andy was playing a gig on a boat moored off Canary Wharf I immediately purchased two tickets.
Tiernan Douieb was hosting the show and had mentioned on Facebook that there was an issue with the alcohol license so we would have to bring our own drinks. That was a result. It makes a fun night cheaper.
After getting lost in the strange confusing geography of Canary Wharf looking for an off license, I finally met Tesco where we bought 4 warm beers each and headed to the boat, only to find there was some weird token system. We bought a £5 token each and I exchanged mine for the smallest bottle of Magner’s I have ever seen. I made sure I took a glass and we sat on the deck. I snuck to the loo, filling my glass with contraband Strongbow and we headed downstairs. It didn’t take long till all secrecy was abandoned and all the audience were swigging straight from their cans.
We got seats at the front and slowly the small venue eventually filled. Tiernan came on and chatted to the crowd. He is a warm and funny man and is a great compere. He introduced our first act of the evening, “Upstairs Downton”. They are an improv troupe who set their scenes in the Edwardian world of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. It didn’t matter I hadn’t seen these shows, we all know what they are like. After choosing a name for the main character and a plot (standard improv stuff) we settled back to watch the story unfold. At first I was a bit worried about a Downton Abbey improv show, but they were pretty good, even if the set went on a little long.
Tony Law was on next. Tony is in the early stages of writing his new show after last year’s huge success, and for me, this is the really fun part. Tony riffs, comments on how he is doing, critiques himself and he totally baffled my mate who asked afterwards when we were back on deck what that was all about. I don’t think he was for him, but I and everyone else thought differently. Tony is one of the best comics around at the moment and I urge you to see him. Tony had to leave fairly quickly as I imagine he was heading to another show, and said hi to me as he left. My mate was quite amazed it just how normal he seemed off stage, and to be honest, it still catches me off guard too.
For fans of Penn & Teller’s “Fool Us”, the next act was a treat. Piff The Magic Dragon. Piff is an incredibly skilled magician who dresses in an extremely cute dragon outfit, and is accompanied by his chihuahua, Mr Piffles. He chose a volunteer to join him on stage and alternated between flirting with her before playfully knocking her back. This was only the 2nd magician I have seen live, other than Pete Firman and he was superb. Incidentally magic fans, I also listen to Penn’s Sunday School, a podcast released every week featuring Penn Jillette and discussing magic, scepticism, atheism and just general funny chats.
Here is a clip of Piff on “Fool Us”
The backdrop of The City of London was perfect for Zaltzman. He is a fantastic performer, and it was great to see my mate’s face who up until today had only heard Andy’s voice, as he has a rather striking appearance! His set revolved through the current economic situation: not a subject on many comics sets, but Andy with his enthusiasm and well crafted and torturous puns made it a great night.
My mate pointed me towards a quick way home. I was aiming for the DLR and he told me to go to a different station. I didn’t really know where I was going and after a long painful walk ended up on the Jubilee line. I got home in the end though, extremely satisfied.
Just to finish this off, I was in the pub with a mate the other day which had the snooker on in the background. To my surprise, Andy’s unmistakable face appeared. When I got home I found the clip, and it should be found just underneath this writing…