Daniel Simonsen – No Net

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For three nights in a row I’ve found myself watching Daniel Simonsen’s ever changing show at The Bill Murray as part of the Camden Fringe. This year he has two shows: No Net, and Net. The first show is completely unscripted as he speaks about whatever pops into his head, or maybe tries to improve on routines that he came up with the night before.

Daniel Simonsen won the best newcomer award at the Edinburgh Fringe 5 years ago, but I think most of these audiences know him as Bob Mortimer’s oddball son from the brilliant “House Of Fools”. That’s what I gathered from my pre-show eavesdropping anyway!

The first show I saw on Sunday, Daniel was not really enjoying it. He felt uncomfortable and didn’t have any confidence in himself. I know that because Daniel told us straight up, which I think made a lot of the audience lose trust in him, which meant the show was never really going to recover. There were some great bits though, such as his long explanation of why red is his favourite colour and telling us that his nickname growing up was ‘Crying Daniel’. But there were real belly laughs all round when he decided to try out a few different accents.

The next night there was a much smaller audience in, and Daniel expressed surprise that I was back, having seen the show the previous night. I did tell him that it really wasn’t as bad as he thought it was! But this show was blisteringly funny! The Crying Daniel routine was lengthened, and there were far fewer silences than the night before. Sadly he had dropped his Irish accent this time which was a shame, because it’s such a lot of fun to hear someone with such a distinctive accent try some other ones.

I found back there on Tuesday, and again another superb show. The accents were back and Crying Daniel was even stronger. The only thing that spoiled it was two annoying audience members who insisted on a Q&A session, with one of them in particular being downright rude by asking Daniel “What’s the best joke you have?” Daniel told them he doesn’t really do jokes, but he thought for a bit and left the stage with a wonderfully out of character piece of smut!

Net is slowly evolving from No Net, and as the days go on I fully expect this to be a totally joyful, funny, five star show. There are three more No Nets left before Net begins. Check the Angel Comedy website for dates and times.

Daniel Simonsen on Russell Howard’s Good News

Daniel as Eric on “House OF Fools”

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Sanders, Brown and Dean

So after a long boozy lunch with a mate in Kings Cross I decided it was time to head home. My bus stop is just round the corner from 2Northdown, and I was flagged down by none other than Lou Sanders outside the venue. She was on at any moment, so in  I went and took my seat.

Garett Millerick was the compere for this show, and he was as angry as ever, primarily about his credit card’s customer service team. As a customer service person myself, I identified with the poor lady on the other end of the phone! Even though he did two short regular sets rather than making the audience feel at ease or chatting to them, he was very funny.

Lou’s show this year is all based around shame. She told us a few stories while singing her ‘shame’ jingle as she didn’t have it with her, and also spotted a lady in the front row who wasn’t enjoying it as much as the rest of us! We were having a great time! Lou’s time ended (or did it? No one is sure) but she was soon off to her next gig of the night.

I had spotted Larry Dean outside the venue too when I arrived and I assumed it was just him on next but no. The next act announced was Alfie Brown. I have seen him a few times and I have seen the audience react in different ways! But his ISIS/Daesh material worked well tonight, and there wasn’t too much material that could shock too much.

I had gone to The Bill Murray a few months ago to see Larry Dean and sadly the show was pulled. Not tonight though thankfully! I haven’t seen him live before but had checked out quite a few YouTube clips. He didn’t disappoint, telling us about the struggles of his long distance relationship with his boyfriend in Australia and occasionally lapsing into a character doing ‘London Observational Comedy’. Josh Widdicombe perhaps?

A great night, that I cut short early cos my tiredness was getting to me. It was the always brilliant Max and Ivan on next, but I knew I needed to get home. So thanks to Lou Sanders for grabbing me and the chap from 2Northdown (whose name I have shamefully forgotten) for inviting me in.

RHLSTP with Collings and Herrin 19/06/17

collings

Back in the old days, not all comedians had podcasts like they do today. At the forefront of British comedy podcasting were Ricky Gervais, Adam & Joe and Collings & Herrin.

Collings & Herrin was the first podcast I ever listened to. Andrew Collins was the respectable music and film journalist always trying rein in comedian Richard Herring who was at his most extreme in these shows. I looked forward to their weekly chats; a mixture of their experiences from the previous week, topical chat from the newspapers, and terrible, awful, funny filth.

As time went on, their jokey acrimony became all too real and Andrew eventually pulled out of the podcasting world altogether, while Richard went on to start other podcasts, including his most successful one, RHLSTP (rhlstp). Now, on series 11, Andrew has finally been invited and has agreed to appear. “It will clear the air and stop people asking for it.” he said on Twitter.

I made my way to the venue at a leisurely stroll in the 30 degree heat, deciding against the packed rush hour buses in an an unsuccessful attempt to keep my sweating under control. What effect would this heat have on the already potentially awkward show? Luckily for everyone, the air conditioning was working fine.

collings_herrin_24

After being introduced as being best known for appearing in all the episodes of “I Love The 1980s”, Andrew came on to a huge round of applause which took some time to die down. Andrew was in a spiky and playful mood tonight. He refused to be goaded by Richard about his poor selling book about Friends Reunited, and started going on the offensive himself. Richard was on the back foot for much of the podcast as Andrew started to get his revenge.

But it was all in good fun, and there wasn’t any real unpleasantness tonight. It didn’t take them long to get their old chemistry back, and soon we had the most astonishing answer to Richard’s emergency question about The Human Centipede that elicited a few gasps from the audience, and from Richard himself.

The highlight of the evening was Andrew’s unpaid but genuine endorsement of Frog Tape. You may not know what it is, but by the end of the show, we all knew about it in great detail, and why Andrew prefers it to its main competitor, Gorilla Tape.

The show ended with an applause inducing on-stage hug. But I haven’t answered the question that all Collings & Herrin fans want to know. Will they be returning as a double act any time soon?

There is only one way to find out. And that is to wait until the podcast comes out next month.

 

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RHLSTP with Andrew Collins should be released on the 19th July

 

 

Earl Slick & Bernard Fowler play David Bowie’s "Station To Station"

Strangers who have died that have made me genuiely upset: Kurt Cobain, Rik Mayall, and David Bowie. David Bowie’s was the one I felt the most I think as it came almost immediately after releasing his superb final album, Blackstar. His was the first gig I ever went to, in 1987: The Glass Spider Tour. It’s not seen as Bowie’s greatest period, but having said that, it’s still underrated, and I would still recommend that people check out the live DVD of that tour.

The highlight for me, after waiting for so long in the old Sunderland football stadium, Roker Park, for most of the afternoon watching The Violent Femmes (who I hadn’t heard of) and Big Country (who I had but couldn’t stand), was hearing David start the show by saying “HELLO NEWCASTLE!” followed by the biggest good natured crowd boo I’ve ever heard.

I bought a ticket to see long time Bowie collaborator, Earl Slick, playing alongside Rolling Stones backing singer, Bernard Fowler, performing the entire Station To Station album, which is definitely in his best 5 albums, if not THE best. It was a great show, and I had a spare ticket, as my mate couldn’t make it, and perversely I couldn’t even give it away!

I got close to the front but man, it was packed. I got chatting with an older guy who was even more excited than me. He regaled me with stories of seeing Bowie in years gone by.  A big guy pushed past us, saying “Excuse me”, so I decided to follow, literally in his wake.

Somehow I got to the front and had loads of room. After a while I realised I was in front of the rope, and not long after that I was told I was standing in front of the disabled area and getting in the way. I apologised to both the security and the guys in the wheelchairs and
stood next to the bar. Bad, bad Andy!

But still, now I had loads of room! Anyway they played the entire Station to Station album all the way through, pausing for Bernard to tell us that this isn’t a time to think about death, but to celebrate life. We all cheered and  we all were on the same page. After the album ended, there were renditions of Diamond Dogs, Valentine’s Day and Win. What a night! They then went on to play some blues stuff by Buddy Guy, and although I’m sure the rest of the gig was fantastic, I felt I had all I needed. Sure, they may have tricked us by playing more Bowie later, but I was happy to slip away, having seen exactly what I came for.



Podcast: The Complete Guide To Everything

Podcasts are great aren’t they? I’ve been listening to them since I discovered them back in 2009, mainly accompanying me to and from work, which is around 2 hours most days. The ones I really got into first were what I like to call “two guys talking” podcasts. Collings & Herrin and Precious Little being the ones that spring to mind. But as time has gone on, the podcasts I listen to have generally got more focused:

·         Comedians talking to other comedians: Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast with Stuart Goldsmith
·         Panel shows: Do The Right Thing, Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown
·         Comedy and sketch shows: The Bugle, As It Occurs To Me, ManBuyCow, POTOm
·         Comedy review shows: Film Fandango, Vitriola Music

I heartily recommend all of these shows, but there is one “two guys talking” podcast that I have fallen in love with that I don’t think many of you know about. I’m talking about The Complete Guide To Everything.

Tim Daniels and Tom Reynolds (from now on known as Tim and Tom) are two friends based in New York who, at the end of 2015 have over 300 episodes under their belt. Tim and Tom aren’t professional comedians; however they could easily take up that career if they chose to do so. Tim is shrouded in mystery but we do know that he is a drummer, while Tom is a successful author, having now written the third book of his superhero series, Meta.

Every week a subject is chosen and in the 60 minutes or so that the podcast runs for, they may spend 10 minutes discussing the topic before getting distracted by each other and veering off, quite often into territories such as Tim’s dislike of baby boomers and teens as well as his fear of horses (especially on aeroplanes) or Tom’s latest Apple product or the latest Batman movie. So you can really pick any show to get started and not worry too much if the topic  is one that interests you.

They are based in New York, but not long after the show started they got picked up by the UK iTunes and were made a featured podcast. This has led to the strange situation of them being an American podcast that has a substantial UK listenership, which is often addressed. This has also meant that Tim and Tom have come to the UK on a number of occasions to do live shows. I went to one in Kings Place in June and had a whale of a time at the show, and just as much fun when a suvstantial chunk of the audience joined the guys in the bar for a few beers afterwards.
Andy and Tim outside Kings Place, June 2015

They help fund the podcast through Patreon. I pay $5 per month and this gets me a Google Hangout every month (which I have not joined in with yet because I don’t really know what it is) as well as a shorter podcast, around 15 minutes, every week called “Amazing Facts” which is a competition between Tim and Tom to find the most amazing fact about a subject which the Patreon supporters can vote on each week. One of the targets on their Patreon was to bring back their rather more focussed “Pop Everything” podcast which does manage to stay on topic right the way through. Pop Everything is for everyone, not just Patreon supporters so you can easily subscribe to it.

So guys, our podcast listening habits often get stale; sometimes months go by without looking for new things to listen to. Sometimes we keep listening to the same shows that we have grown tired of and never get round to unsubscribing. So give your podcast app of choice an injection of freshness, and subscribe to The Complete Guide To Everything today.

ARGComfest 2015

The cool kids

This is my 4th year in a row at this 4 year old festival, and it is getting bigger and better every year. From a one day festival at The Kings Cross Social Club in 2012, expanding to two days at the Camden Barfly in 2013, then at The Garage in Highbury last year, this year we were heading to Shoreditch Town Hall. They had also expanded to 3 rooms, which meant the choices of who to see were 3 times as hard.

I had made a list of who I was planning to see on both days, and I
didn’t necessarily stick to it, and made a few decisions on the spot.

I met up with Neal outside Shoreditch Town Hall and we headed into the basement. At first it seemed a bit of a labyrinth. This never changed as I still got lost towards the end of the day. Though I did discover that the toilets on the 1st floor were by far the quietest. I didn’t tell anyone this though, lest by doing so I spoiled it for us cool 1st floor kids.

Ed Aczel

So I saw 8 acts each day. I missed 16. Obviously I can’t comment on them, but I have to assume my 16 were the best!

Ed Aczel opened the festival with his usual low key performance, now complete with extremely well shot video clips. What a lovely way to start the festival. Although Ed doesn’t have any jokes to tell as such, his “anti-comedy” kept everyone happy throughout, though I’m not sure what the latecomers must have thought. Part of Ed’s show is for us to ask him anything from a set of specific questions, such as “Why does Venus spin the wrong way?” and “Who did not win pipe smoker of the year?”. I’m seeing Ed support Stewart Lee on Tuesday so must try and remember not to ask the same questions this time.

Stuart Goldsmith

We went upstairs to see Josh Widdecombe but it was so busy. I decided to head back downstairs. By all accounts Josh was fantastic, but it did seem like the Annexe room upstairs was by far the warmest. After this, I met Neal and we went to the front row of the Rivington Room for Stuart Goldsmith. Just before the show started I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Stuart. “You do know it’s me on next don’t you?” he said, bearing in mind I had seen him less than 18 hours earlier at the Betsy Trotwood. I did know it was him, but I had enjoyed him so much the night before, so why not? And, comedy geek that I am, it’s fun to see the little changes that are made from one night to the next.

Rhys James
Caroline Mabey

We made our first visit to the Garden Studio to see the bonkers Caroline Mabey. This was another show I had seen before about Caroline’s transition into motherhood. And no, it’s not quite as nicey-nice as it sounds. She explored some very dark areas indeed, bearing in mind there was a pregnant woman in the row behind us.

Neal headed off to see the highly recommended Joseph Murpurgo and I stayed in the Garden Studio to catch Rhys James. When you hear older and more alternative comics talk about young comedians who have trendy haircuts and wear t-shirts and skinny jeans, Rhys’s is the face you should see in your head. I had first come across him via Twitter (where he is great value. Follow him!) and seeing him do his stuff live is a treat. he is (as he said himself) pretty mainstream, but he knows how to write great, proper jokes.

Matthew Crosby

For me, the highlight of Saturday was Matthew Crosby. You’ll know him from the sketch group Pappy’s (whose Flatshare Slamdown podcasts are among the best around) and Badults. Again, Neal and I got a front row seat. The show was loosely based around Matthew’s recent trip to Russia, and his apparent obsession with Vladimir Putin. He danced topless wearing a Putin mask for 2 minutes and 19 seconds, which, as he said, is much longer than you think. I ended up arm wrestling with “Putin” which I technically won, but Putin being Putin… What a great show. Go and see Matthew when you can.

Back upstairs to see Mike Wozniak. You’ll know him, if not as a stand up, as Greg Davies’ best friend in “Man Down”. He told a long “shaggy cat” story about his “gruelling” drives from Exeter to Edinburgh after finding a cat in his car and deciding he needed to return it to his owners. this was interspersed with some facts chosen by us before going back to the cat.

Mike Wozniak
Phill Jupitus

The night ended with us going to see Phill Jupitus as Porky the Poet, this time sitting in taller chairs at the back, as of course, the show was almost full. Phill explained that now his TV pop quiz has been cancelled, this is all he has to fall back on. We got treated to a selection of his poems, culminating in Neal volunteering from the crowd, which involved standing beside Phill in a Star Wars storm trooper mask as Phill read poems about the movie. After this Phill recited a rhythmic poem about Blondie being both his first and last gig, where all the lines loosely rhymed with Jupitus. Great stuff!

Lazy Susan

By this time we were all tiring and it was time to head home, to prepare for arguably an even better line up on Sunday. After another big morning fry up I walked back to Shoreditch and got there at 1230. All the way there, and for most of the morning before I had been thinking “Bridget or Acaster? Bridget or Acaster?”  By the time I got there I was no nearer an answer. What a cruel clash. Anyway we reckoned that Ed Gamble would be in the packed hot room so we decided to stay downstairs for Lazy Susan. I’m never keen on seeing sketch groups I don’t know, but they were fantastic. They really reminded me of classic French and Saunders. So
likable, with extremely well written material comprising of sketches that when put together told a story of 2 young boys who fell out and then made up again when they were grown up as well as a successful business woman and her two slightly less talented assistants.

Then it was time to head upstairs to see the often unpredictable Lou Sanders, with “Excuse Me, You’re Sitting On My Penis Again” telling her story of trying to get a place at Eton School for Boys. A few people arrived halfway through and Lou quizzed them to try to find out which comedian’s show they had decided to leave. One man didn’t look like he was enjoying himself so Lou ended up cradling him on her knee for a while. I quite enjoyed watching the woman at the end of the front row who spent most of the gig with her hand over her mouth and her eyes wide open, as she had clearly seen nothing quite like this before! Lou spotted me in the audience and said “Oh do you remember when I was on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast and the whole audience looked at me like I was mad?” And I did! Go and see Lou any time you get a chance guys!

Michael Legge

Neal and I bumped into Michael Legge as we were heading downstairs to see his show, and he told us that he had dumped his entire show this very morning and started to write a new one by hand. You might have thought this would have been a terrible idea, but Michael managed to write a whole lot of stuff on stage, including getting the entire audience to clap along to his improvised “It’s Good to be Alive” song. Michael is a superb improviser who hates improv, and both of these facts really showed here.

Bridget Christie

My Acaster and Christie dilemma was solved,. I decided, just like that, to
stay on for Bridget and even though Acaster is a genius and never has a bad gig, I think I made a great decision. Bridget has yet another great show ahead of her, continuing on with her feminist themes, and this time is  exploring the issues of race and transgender issues as well.

Nish Kumar

I had another dilemma with Nish Kumar and Aisling Bea. I asked Misha who I passed on the stairs to make my decision and she tossed a coin inside her head and said “Nish”. I found out that the Aisling Bea show was packed anyway so it was a good decision. I had seen Nish’s show a couple of weeks ago and this show is pretty much ready to go. Normally I prefer my comedy to be a bit raw, and dare I say it, shambolic, but Nish has such a well written, and unashamedly intelligent show, packed with jokes. I shouldn’t like it as it is so polished, but this is at least the second genuinely brilliant show in a row from Nish.

Ivo Graham

Eton School For Boys provided a running theme today as the young Ivo Graham took to the stage and spoke about whether he was a man or still a child. Lou ended up on the front row beside me (was she taking notes?!), and her laugh is always such a great sound! I’ve seen Ivo before, and like Nish before him, he is completely unapologetic, but this time about his poshness, though he does feel the need to make sure we know he voted Labour! (but then tops this with a great joke as to why).

Simon Munnery

Next was a choice between Mark Watson, Simon Munnery, and Bec Hill. I chose Munnery, and was so surprised to find a much smaller audience than i expected. His show is in the fairly early stages, and spent some time telling us about different ideas for show openings that he has. The one with the piece of rope tied to his ankle is my favourite. I won’t say any more in case he uses it! He spoke manly about the absurdity of houses, and digressed into a story about visiting Substation (don’t look for it; it’s not there any more) to see if he was gay or not, and then quite a few slightly uncomfortable stories about the current state of his marriage. You can never really go wrong with Munnery, but you can be taken to very strange and unusual places.

To finish the festival I decided to go to Joke Thieves. What a great concept for a night. We had 4 comedians; Lou Sanders, Al Lubel, Jenny Collier and Paul F Taylor. A guy in the front row was asked to pair them up (so we knew it was the real deal and not worked out in advance). The comics all had to do 5 minutes or so of their own stuff, then after they had all done so, to swap sets.

Joke Thieves: Al, Lou, Jenny and Paul

Lou and Paul  were paired up and this was lots of fun, with Paul using new material hoping that Lou could workshop it for him, but for me watching Jenny do Al Lubel’s set (wher he repeats his own name well over 100 times) and vice versa was brilliant. Al deciding to forego the material and speaking about Jenny’s humble stage presence. After this I found out that Pappy’s were on an interval so I headed through to see them, where by this time in the evening I was happy just to sit at the back and chill out,

So another great ARG. Big thanks to James Lowey and the team for all their hard work yet again, and roll on 2016!

What? you fancy finishing this blog with Pappy’s doing a song about gloves? OK sure, let’s do it!

ManBuyCow – LIVE!

The majority of you that follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook will have seen an increase in the rate of posts involving ManBuyCow and have either ignored them or have been curious about what ManBuyCow means but have been too shy to ask. Well read on.

Tom Baker Doctor Who

I got introduced to their podcast just over a year ago and was instantly hooked. Rufus and Howard bring us a mixture of chat, sketches and characters all making their mad little world come to life. They have done two series now, with a third on the way, with the Grett Binchleaf portion of the show becoming a podcast in its own right. When they announced that they would be performing a full length show I snapped up my ticket quickly.

So I headed to Kentish Town and I met up with Dom and his lovely wife Verity at The Rose and Crown around 630 just as they had polished off a very well reviewed pizza. Verity was there as part of a marital deal which involves Dom having to go to Lord Of The Dance, so she is one up. We headed downstairs where we were met by Dennis Quaid*, harangued abot our names and frisked. We aimed towards the front but as Verity was a little shy we sat in the second front row. This was to know avail as Quaid* strongly suggested we sit at the front.

Soon a newer longer version of the familiar theme music began and we were off. Our small but dedicated band of comedy nerds were getting all excited and at the point of no return. Rufus and Howard arrived and soon pronounced that Dom was their “Beryl” for the night. Tom Baker Doctor Who was soon up. Nomedy Closh was forever delayed for various reasons (being on the underground and up a tree), and we wondered if he would ever arrive.

There were guests too. The self-described geeky comic, Pete Dillon-Trenchard, the easy to love Joz
Norris and towards the end of the show, Bec Hill (ably assisted by Beryl). Of course Nomedy Closh did arrive and sang a song accompanied by Doggity Dog. Even Mr Fluck managed to sneak in an appearance when Rufus wasn’t
looking, and the Grett Binchleaf choose your own adventure book “Grett Binchleaf and the case of the missing leg” was fantastic, even though Grett died far more times than expected.

Hitler

The end of the show involved the ManBuyCow fans favourite, Hitler^, and the “Everybody Loves Hitler, Hitler Is Our Friend” mass singalong was apparently heard in the main pub upstairs, which without context could sound a little bit naughty.

What a great night, and here’s hoping that this becomes an annual pre-Christmas event.

So the moral of the story is a simple one. Listen to ManBuyCow. Now.

* Not the real Dennis Quaid
^ Not the real Hitler.

Andrew O’Neill’s History Of Heavy Metal aka "SIT DOWN LARS"

(c) Sophie Garrett – sophiegarrett.co.uk

Back in the days when I had a band, The Garage was home from home. I hadn’t been for years until I went to ARGComFest in the summer and was all set to make another trip after such a short gap.

I met Neal at the pub over the road where he had been joined by a random woman who was going to another comedy show, and after a lot of detective work we worked out that it was at the Hen and Chickens round the corner. She was nice, but rather loopy. Anyway, we had a beer and headed to the venue, where luckily we didn’t need to queue up. We walked straight in and found the room extremely busy already. I made the right decision of getting the first round in, which didn’t take too long compared with Neal’s round in the interval!

It was definitely more of a metal than a comedy crowd, and we were initially horrified at it being an all standing gig. We are very old. However I think it definitely gave it a much more rock’n’roll vibe, and of course meant they could probably fit everyone in, because before the gig started, the room was packed to the rafters.

This was the first time Andrew had done this show with a live band (the guitarist, bassist and drummer from Reprisal). They took to the stage first and were eventually followed by Andrew, striding on to the stage with his flying V ready for action.

(c) Sophie Garrett – sophiegarrett.co.uk

The gig was fantastic, starting out with the most famous metal riff of all, from the opening song, “Black Sabbath”,  from the Black
Sabbath album by Black Sabbath, running through classic riffs from Motorhead to Slayer and Metallica. The show took the form of a history lesson, starting back in the proto-metal bands such as The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, through Sabbath, on to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Venom, then on to Metallica and the big four of thrash and on towards death and black metal, punctuated with riffs and short versions of classic songs, mainly with altered lyrics. The vocals could have been louder as I missed a few of the gags during the songs.

Andrew joked about Sabbath’s rhyming structures, Rob Halford hiding in plain sight before he came out, Slayer opening their classic album with the word “Auschwitz”, Dave Mustaine’s vocal style and of course, Lars Ulrich constantly standing up. The crowd were noisy, but fun, and only once did Andrew have to tell someone to use their ears more than their mouth.

I didn’t stay for the Reprisal set after the show (my back was killing me. I am old.) but left satisfied that I had seen the best show of 2014 so far. This is a show that needs to be filmed and put out on DVD (or that new fangled Blu-ray) as it could easily reach a much bigger audience.

Andrew will be doing more of these so keep an eye out. And don’t worry if you’re not a heavy metal fan. It doesn’t matter. It helps, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a brilliant night out! And remember, what do we shout next time Metallica’s drummer stands up behind his kit?

“SIT DOWN LARS!”

This gig was dedicated to Jeff Hanneman 1964-2013

ARGComFest 2014

ARG has quickly become one of my favourite weekends of the year and I had been looking forward to this day for a long time. (You can read my blurb about ARG 2012 and ARG 2013 by clicking the links) I had spent quite sometime looking at the schedules and had quite a bit of difficulty in deciding what to see. Eventually I came up with a definitive list (subject to change on a whim) and off I went.

Saturday:

I started the day in Wetherspoons with one of their cheap and crappy breakfasts along with one of their cheap and surprisingly nice lattes before heading to the queue to get my wristband strapped on.

In the queue I met Sarah and Neal and we were soon joined by Twon (who had to leave pretty early cos the poor lamb was suffering with some sort of lurgy. He did promise to be there on Sunday though.). Eventually the queue started moving and I saw my first comedy moment of the day. A woman approaching the queue to see what was going on, then getting her heel stuck in the pavement and doing a lovely little dance. It was hard to stop myself laughing and I didn’t. She was nice though.

We were near the front of the queue so I headed to the bar and got served quickly. I turned round after hearing my name and it was Dom, a reasonably new Twitter friend who had trekked down from Hull. He had brought his friend Michael along, who wasn’t particularly a comedy fan. I could eventually see this due to his different reactions to the straight forward stand ups and the more left field acts.

Cariad and Paul were on first. They were an improv pairing who built a story up around many scenes, the first of which was based on a one word suggestion from the audience. Cheese. This eventually meandered through pig slaughter, poison production, and a true love story, ending up with the death of Cariad’s boy character, Meaty, and ended on Halloumi, bringing us back to where we started.

Andrew Maxwell was arguably the biggest name act of the Saturday and he didn’t disappoint. There was a serious looking security guard in the corner who Andrew spotted smiling at one of his gags and from then on kept referring back to him and how cute he looked when he smiles like a chipmunk. He spoke about Scottish independence and wasn’t scared to take the piss out of the SNP. It will be interesting to see how this goes down at Edinburgh festival.

Adam Riches and The Great Popcorno (aka Dom)

I had never seen Adam Riches before, but had heard lots of good things about him. I headed upstairs for the first time and found the room packed with people watching Liam Williams. I caught the tail end of his set but not enough to work out what was going on! Adam came on as Sean Bean first, and unveiled a few different characters along the way. As Sean he brought on his chair/horse and asked one of the audience members to bring their horse up too. This culminated with 4 men sitting between each others legs and playing each others hair as a musical instrument.

He was a mixologist and he pointed to Michael’s and my drink. Dom had to open his mouth and we each poured a little of our drinks into his mouth before Adam garnished it with a banana and a couple of straws. Later Dom was called up to be The Great Popcorno, which involved him lying mouth open in front of a popcorn machine. Unfortunately the machine was faulty and we never got to see its full glory.

A latecomer was brought on to the stage to be tattooed by Adam (with electric toothbrushes and crayons strapped to his hands and ended up over Adam’s knee as the “blood” spurted everywhere. Sometimes audience participation is terrifying, but Adam, who uses it a lot, knows exactly what he is doing. The whole thing is pure fun and joyous without any humiliation. Well, apart from to Adam of course!

John Luke Roberts

Back downstairs we saw Joel Dommett. I had seen him a couple of times before and it’s hard not to be drawn in to his cheeky smiley face. He, perhaps foolishly, gave an audience member the remote control to his confetti cannon, and freedom to choose exactly when to set it off. Now there was some peril. And did the audience member choose the right moment? Well… no not quite!

Joel’s face was also a delight when he played us some of the recordings by his old band Psirus, as well as a rap that he had written at the worrying age of 20. Psirus were partially reunited using an audience member in a boiler suit / balaclava combination as a replacement for their drummer who they don’t see eye to eye with.

I’m a big fan of The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (ACMS) which is run by Thom Tuck and John Luke Roberts, and it was these two we went upstairs to see next. Thom’s new show touches a lot on maths and is called the square root of -1. Thom tries to speak to all the audience at this show which was rather impossible today due to the larger audience than normal. Perhaps he should restrict it to the first two rows/ Anyway we had to complete the sentence “I am…”, which then gives Thom the freedom to riff on however we choose to describe ourselves.

John Luke, with no beard and no glasses these days looks a lot younger than when I last saw him. He recreated his girlfriend splitting up with him by having the front row swear, slap and shout at him before throwing a glass of water in his face. Covering his wet face with flour he clambered amongst the audience, bemusing and scaring them all at once, before finally getting an audience member to clean his face. Then the dinosaur appeared and things got weirder! Go and see Thom and John Luke. They are a lot of fun!

The day was nearly ending and we had two more acts to go. I got a front row seat for Jonny and the

Jonny & the Baptists

Baptists who, to me, are a cross between Tenacious D and Topping and Butch. There was a lot of UKIP material which went down well, where we learned an alternative meaning of the word “Farage” (with emphasis on the first syllable) There were also regular reprises of their short and filthy  “Buckets…” song. They ended the gig to a massive round of applause with their song “Boom”.

I decided to stay downstairs for Nish Kumar, and what a show it was! I have never seen Nish be this funny before and the whole room was absolutely loving it. Again he got the security guard involved in the show and spoke about his old manager asking him not to speak about race so much in case it alienated the crowd. The show ended by… actually I won’t tell you cos I think it’s a pretty nice surprise when you see this in Edinburgh.

We had a brief chat with Thom, Matthew Crosby, Nish and James Acaster and I headed home for some rest before doing the WHOLE THING again tomorrow.

Blog paused.
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Blog continues!

Sunday:

Rachel Parris


After meeting Dom at Wetherspoons for a massive breakfast we headed back to The Garage for another day of ARGing. We reunited with Neal inside and got a seat at the front for Rachel Parris. I have seen her a number of times and she has always been ace. I’m not particularly a musical comedy fan, but she has framed the show in Vegas and has a host of characters performing in the show. There has been a lot of thought gone into this as well as talent! She played a liberal country and western singer, a middle-class mummy’s boy “Coldplay” type, and the beautiful diva headline act which climaxed with her song “I’m amazing”

We moved upstairs and saw Lucy Beaumont. She was probably a more traditional comic who reminded me a little bit of Victoria Wood, with her world of characters (or perhaps real life friends, it was hard to decide). She comes from Hull and plays a lot on the difference between life in Hull and life down south. Lou Sanders was compering this section which is always a blast, and she regaled us with her erotic stories, and eventually her fruit and vegetable calendar she has produced to fund her Edinburgh show.

Stuart Goldsmith

We heard Michael Legge and Robin Ince arrive before we saw them, as is often the case. I could over hear them bellowing at each other at the back of the room (the show hadn’t yet started) as a situation was developing at the bar between a very arrogant barman and a girl who was rightfully complaining that her coke was flat. “That’s how we serve it” said the idiot bar man. Anyway, Robin and Michael’s arrival cheered me up from this boring and we retook our seats. Some of the audience suggestions tonight were slightly over ripe avocados, atriums, and of course Mrs Brown’s Boys made an appearance due to O’Carroll’s defence of his Mr Wang character. I always love this show (Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire, not Mrs Brown’s Boys). It’s so remarkably silly, and I also love the idea that some people might come along because they are science geeks and have heard Robin with his other double act partner, Brian Cox, and are expecting an intellectual show, whereas instead they get an hour of constant exaggerated fury! Boys, it would be great if these could be put out as podcasts!

Many of you will listen to the brilliant Comedian’s Comedian podcast, presented by Stuart Goldsmith, where he chats in depth to comedians about their writing processes and such like. Well he was on downstairs next and the compere eventually managed to get the crowd to move to the front. I still don’t know why comedy audiences (especially proper comedy fans) still seem scared to sit at the front. Anyway he spent a lot of the time speaking about his broodiness and eventually dedicated the show to his Scottish granny who keeps going on no matter what life throws at her. We did get a little secret bit that Stuart says won’t go into his show cos it is too hacky, but he has worked out which combination of people he looks like. A mixture of a children’s TV presenter and “your brother’s friend”. Great stuff!

I headed back to ‘spoons (as all the cool kids call it) and ordered a massive roast to see me through the rest of the day. Of course it was awful, but but was cheap and big. This led me to miss most of Sara Pascoe‘s set which was a shame. I joined Dom, Neal and Michael at the back and really enjoyed the last 10 minutes anyway!

Josie Long

I have seen David Trent a couple of times before now  doing sections of his show but as yet haven’t seen more than 20 minutes at a time so I was really looking forward to this. For those who don’t know, David is Nick Helm‘s hairy guitarist. This is a very visual show with most material being projected. He deconstructs Blurred Lines brilliantly as well as looking at the work of hype man DJ Lock from Rudimental. But the highlight for me is his commentary over Nick Griffin’s BNP cookery show. It almost didn’t need any input from David at all!

We spotted a lot of off duty comics arriving. Nick Doody (who ended up performing at ACMS later), Nick Helm, Henning Wehn and Matt Kirshen were hanging out. Dom and I ended up chatting with Helm about his upcoming TV show “Heavy Entertainment” which I have seen two recordings of. And guys it is going to be amazing!

Bridget Christie was the first comic to use the main higher stage as she believed that audiences don’t like

Nick Doody

being lit. It wasn’t that she wanted to be far away from us. This led her to having to clamber onto it like a toddler which made for a great entrance. Her new show “An Ungrateful Woman” looks like a natural follow up to last year’s award winning show, and although still in primitive form at the moment is shaping up to be another great one. As often is the case with Bridget in preview she ad-libbed a lot of lines, and when they worked she would suddenly look delighted and take a few seconds out to scribble them in her notes. The almost throwaway line where she calls her husband a racist was one of the funniest individual lines of the weekend.

Thom Tuck

To end the night we had ACMS (The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society). This is usually hosted by John Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck but tonight Thom couldn’t make it so Jonny and the Baptists took his place. Lou came on to do her erotic stories and fruit and veg calendar material again. She asked for people’s birthday’s and read out the entry in the calendar for that month. She hadn’t pointed out it was a fruit and veg based calendar which led to some confusion though, so I felt the need to point this out (even though it was not on the list of permitted heckles)

Lou Sanders

Nick Doody did a few minutes about the perils of buying a hammer and how to transport it home if you don’t have a bag and Alex Edelman joined us for some experimental stuff. By this time, Thom arrived, resplendent in his cricket whites, fresh from the match that he had (genuinely) played. We got more short sets from Josie Long and Grainne Maguire, and soon ARGComFest 2014 was at an end.

Big thanks to James Lowey and the ARG team for putting this show on. Since it started in 2012 it has grown
from year to year. This was a nice sized venue though and hope to be back here next year.

The McH award this year goes jointly to Adam Riches and Robin Ince & Michael Legge. There is no money or trophy involved, but give yourselves a pat on the back guys! Of course we are all winners here, so don’t be downhearted if you didn’t win this esteemed award this year. Roll on 2015!

Good Evening, My Name’s Rik. Rik? What Is It? What’s Going On?


I found out that Rik was going to perform at Ayr Odeon in 1985, and instantly snapped up a ticket. Ben Elton was his opening act. I think this was before Saturday Live, and the only thing we knew about Ben Elton was that he co-wrote the Young Ones so I was tremendously excited. I had never been to a comedy show before and it was only the bloomin’ guys who wrote The Young Ones!

I decided this was something I wanted to keep forever, so with great ingenuity and illegality, I looped a belt through the handle of my Aunt’s cassette recorder she had in the kitchen, got a microphone (one of the ones with 2 pins to connect it: one short and one long) and put that down my jacket sleeve and off to the gig I went.

Ben Elton was superb, and this was the first time I heard his “Double Seat” routine. But Rik then came out to huge cheers. “It’s lovely to be here in”… he looks at his pen marks on his hand… “Ayyuugh. Ayuugh!? What kind of fucking name is that for a place?” He started performing as The Young Ones’ Rick, then came on as Kevin Turvey. I had missed Turvey the first time round, but I think I bought a VHS tape by then so I was familiar with him, and then came on later as himself, explaining that his friend and colleague Adrian Edmonson had written a joke for him. “I’m going to do Ade’s joke” he announced. “No not an AIDS joke! That would be awful!”, he berated a non-existent heckler.

My friend George and I played that tape over and over and over and over again until we knew Ben and Rik’s sets word perfectly. This would have been an ideal day to upload it to Soundcloud, but alas, it has been lost for many years. And now Rik has been lost too.

Anyway, this blog is really just an excuse to post lots of ace clips of Rik. I hope you enjoy them!


Rik and The Young Ones on Comic Relief



The Dangerous Brothers

Rick finds a lady in his bed (The Young Ones)


Filthy, Rich & Catflap


Bad News Tour

More Bad News

Kevin Turvey – The Man Behind The Green Door

Bottom – Live

And finally this. Rik receives an honorary doctorate from the University Of Exeter and gives a fantastic rousing speech to the students. A speech that they will remember for the rest of their lives.