Sunday, October 29, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Peter Buckley Hill
Scotsman.com - The man who wants to set the Fringe free
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Thursday, July 27, 2006
What can you recommend for a tall, pear-shaped dancer? I mean in terms of belt-shaping, but also the overall ensemble. The 10-yard skirt, bra, belt thing is cool, but I'd like to try something different. I love those groovy deMille-type panel skirts but my saddlebags don't. Help?
--Apples & Oranges
Monday, July 24, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Billy and Biddy are actually identical giblets. To the untrained eye Billy is far more identical than Biddy but being a lady she doesn't hold it against him. He doesn't hold it against her either because in some countries that's illegal.
YouTube - The Two Biddies Go To Gozo
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
PEAR SHAPED COMEDY CLUB
Fitzroy Tavern, 16a Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1
Enquiries 07831 497091 Venue 0207 580 3714
Every Wednesday Adm £5 Doors 8pm Show 8 30pm
WEDNESDAY 12 July
MC's Brian Damage and Krysstal with Anthony Miller & Jimbo proudly present stand up comedy from: Colin Owens, Jamie Goodwin, Steve Forbes, Carl Donnelly, Gordon Cunniff, Richard Amero, Martine Pepper, Lisa Marks, Joseph Wilson, Dangerous T, David Meech, Brendan Naughton,+ Live banjo musak from Al Banjolino
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Publish Your Own Pottery
you probably won't believe this
but it's absolutely true
i'm a bleedin' poet
oobie doobie doo
anyone can do it
if you've got the time to spare
all you need is a pen and pad
and a little bit up there
find yourself a dictionary
with loads of words and that
pick some words and tear 'em out
and chuck 'em in a hat
it helps if you can read and write
and rhyme a little bit
cos it you can't you'll look a twat and your bleedin' poem will be all over the place and it won't scan and the whole thing will be a waste of time.
brian (wordsworth) damage
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
satirical magazine for modern gentlemen
Monday, June 26, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
Pear Shaped Comedy Cabaret
On the third Monday of each month Pear Shaped Comedy Cabaret takes place in the wonderfully camp and glamorous surroundings of Turnmills Top Floor, 63b Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5NP.
Doors 8pm Show 8 30pm Adm £5 Bookings & Enquiries 07831 497091
An evening dedicated to the Odd, Unusual Delightful and Peculiar acts that make up the London and UK Comedy Circuits. The only thing they have in common is that they are all funny.
*** 2 Drinks for 1 Happy Hour from 7 30 to 8 30pm ***
*** Excellent food available ***
Bookings 07831 497091
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Peter Buckley Hill
THE IDEA WINS THROUGH
2005 was the year in which the idea I'd been working for for ten years began bearing serious fruit.
At first, people didn't understand the logic behind free shows, and wondered why I should deliberately make a loss, even when they made a bigger loss. Then they understood, but didn't participate (I didn't really have the opportunity to offer space to others in most of that time, anyway). And then, once there was space for a full programme of other shows, people began to realise that free shows made sense. In 2005, there were about 25 in the three spaces (two at Linsays, and one at the Canon's Gait).
The 2005 Free Fringe was a triumph for all concerned, and an achievement of which I feel proud.
As far as my own shows went, there were good nights at PBHASC. Stand Up Tragedy and Other Disasters met with variable success; often, people came to the show expecting to see the old stuff, and I had to adapt so they could. Sometimes, I ran the whole new show; other times, a mixture of the new and the old. Stuffed sheep gags aren't for everybody. But some people said it was better than Dustman.
I stood for election for the Fringe Board of Directors again, and was again defeated. Again, the number of people who assured me that they had voted for me greatly exceeded the votes I actually got. They certainly made it difficult for people to join the Festival Fringe Society Ltd and vote. The deadline for joining was ambiguously phrased and several people were denied the opportunity to join. This is not good procedure.
It is not right that the Fringe is entirely financed by the personal losses made by performers, and yet there are only two performers on the Board, one of whom was not at the Fringe in 2005 at all. This must change. Email me if you want to discuss the politics and future of the Fringe.
On a back-to-performing note, I did 61 appearances in the 2005 Fringe, including my own shows, the Book Club, compering Fringe Sunday, and various guest appearances in other shows. I think this is probably as many as I've ever done, and I must give up the attempt to do one for every year of my age.
AI also found two new venues for Free Fringe shows. The Meadow Bar and the Jekyll & Hyde will both host Free Fringe shows in 2006, and it looks as if there will be over 60 Free Fringe shows. The idea has indeed taken off.
The Free Fringe: Edinburgh Fringe Festival
shows for Free from The Laughing Horse in 2005
|With 69 FREE Edinburgh Fringe Shows... in Six Performance Spaces... in Four Venues|
See 69 fantastic Fringe shows for Free.... also acts from venues such as the Pleasance, Gilded Balloon, Underbelly and the Assembly rooms performing parts of their shows for Free in daily shows with rotating line-ups... Experience an eclectic selection of Free Fringe shows from fantastic Scottish, British and world-wide performers - from Midday to 3am every day, right through the Edinburgh Fringe, in six performance spaces, in four great venues in the heart of town.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Pear Shaped comedy club was born in 2000 from the ashes of The Oval Comedy Club (RIP) which Brian started in 1997 before meeting Krysstal. There are now two Pear Shaped Clubs in London (Fitzrovia and @ Turnmills in Clerkenwell), one in Sydney, and the annual event in Edinburgh.Pear Shaped has the well deserved reputation of discovering and smothering new talent. Comedians new and old have performed at Pear Shaped over the years, including Edinburgh Festival favourites such as:* Malcolm Hardee (RIP) * Al Murray * Charlie Chuck * Daniel Kitson * Boothby Graffoe * Mark Maier * Reginald D Hunter * Dan Antapolski * Dave Thompson * Silky * Phil Nicol * Nick Wilty * Noel James * Shelagh Martin * Award winners: Paul Foot * Shazia Mirza * Hal Cruttenden * Nina Conti * Nic Sun * Wil Hodgson * and many others too humorous to mention!Brian says ‘We’ll book anyone! But only for 5 minutes.’ You can stand anything for 5 minutes. ‘You can be shit, you can be brilliant, but everyone gets the same time.’ In between Brian and Krysstal perform their special brand of humour and silly songs to create a wonderfully anarchic but comfortable atmosphere where anything goes.‘We get people returning year after year’ says Krysstal, ‘what’s wrong with them?’ Indeed Brian, Krysstal and Pear Shaped are Fringe favourites with audience and comedians alike. Drop in for a laugh, heckle or just fall asleep in the corner.
TICKETS: £6 / £5. HALF PRICE PREVIEWS 4 and 5 Aug - £3
HOLYROOD TAVERN, VENUE 84, 9a HOLYROOD ROAD
"...a line-up of acts ranging from the highly professional to the unashamedly amateurish.
It is wild. Madly wonderful."
The Stage (Aug 2002)
"..this unthreateningly cheerful atmosphere lends a real sense of fun to the evening
a unique comic experience that you really have to sample at least once."
John Fleming, Chortle.co.uk (Fringe Fest. Aug 2004)
“ – intelligent comedy, downright dirty stuff and silly songs”
SXNews, Sydney (2005)
“ – as daft and charming as they are funny…”
The Stage (Aug 2002)
“Brian Damage is a legend on the London Comedy Circuit….
cracking deadpan act.”
Chris Wilson – StandUpCom Magazine 2001
“ Always enjoyable…. incredibly funny…. His ‘Buddy Holly plays Oasis’ is a gem”
Chortle (The UK Comedy Guide 2000)
“If you like daft stuff you’ll love this new album… by Brian Damage and Krysstal”
TIME OUT (London 2001)
“..excellent but grumpy Brian Damage… his material is very dry,
his charm infectious”
IC Scotland.co.uk (Edinburgh Festival 2001)
“Brian Damage and his glamorous assistant Krysstal.. particularly engaging”
The List (Edinburgh Festival 2001)
Monday, May 15, 2006
Friday, April 07, 2006
Pear Shaped in Space
It is a scientific fact that the world is Pear Shaped.
The Pear is the natural shape of a planet and can be seen throughout the Universe.
Both the Earth and Mars are Pear Shaped.
A standard model of a rotating planet will have a relatively small
portion of total surface area, centred on the poles, lying inside the
perfect sphere, while a larger surface area of each hemisphere will lie
outside the perfect sphere, this distortion being greatest at the equator.
In the case of both the Earth and Mars the southern hemisphere of Mars and the northern hemisphere of Earth reverse the situation predicted by the standard model.
In other words – it’s all gone Pear Shaped.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Time to get behind Pear Shaped's World Domination bid, Miller says
Anthony “Sven-Goran Eriksson” Miller
Under the hammer: The harsh glare from the UK media was too much for Miller
Anthony Miller the “Sven-Goran Eriksson” of the Pear Shaped Comedy Industry called the News Of The World's "Fake Sheikh" sting a "scandal" and revealed how intense media scrutiny made his life a nightmare.
Miller's indiscreet comments to a tabloid newspaper journalist have indirectly led to his announcing his departure, although he insists discussions about leaving before his contract expires in 2008 had already taken place.
At a packed news conference at Soho Square, Miller described the News Of The World stories as a "scandal" and suggested it was difficult for the national team manager to concentrate on his job in Fitzrovia.
"I'm not allowed to speak about [the story] because it's a legal action, but scandal, that's what I think about it," he said.
"I think it could only happen in this country, that's for sure."
He added: "It's better to have a job with a lot of pressure than one without pressure, but I did get fed up with the pressure of reading about my private life and I think people got fed up with reading about my private life. It’s a pressure."
Miller believes the focus should now be on the Edinburgh Festival this summer after confirming he will leave his post after the re-opening of Pear Shaped in Baghdad.
Pear Shaped officials will look for Millers replacement, while the manager will be linked to other jobs - but the Swede insists his focus is on the Pear Shaped Derriere Award.
"Now there's been an agreement and we have to look at the Edinburgh Festival and concentrate on that.
Boss Idol: Who's Next?
Miller is to step down as Pear Shaped managing director after the Edinburgh Festival in the summer. Who will replace him? Check out the leading candidates for the post and make your vote now
"At the moment, this is the most important thing because we have a chance to win it. Let us not spoil that.
"There will be a lot of rumours, that's for sure, every time a club is losing my name will crop up.
"I will not listen to other clubs and countries when there is comedy going on in England."
Miller added: "We always had discussions about after the Edinburgh Festival in 2006, we had a private agreement that - to a certain point - I was allowed to leave after the Pear Shaped Derriere Award. It's been very open.
"I've been asked to win the Derriere Award and after that I've been asked to look after my life."
Get more on this story:
-- Cops escort Miller away
-- His highs and his lows
-- Millers statement in full
-- Vote: Who to take over?
-- England comedy board
"We should talk about comedy but, unfortunately, it's difficult in this country."
Asked if he intended to look for work with an English club after the Edinburgh Festival, he said: "I have absolutely no idea. The only thing I know for sure is that I don't want to claim my pension yet. I don't have any offers at all.
"In comedy, you don't look for jobs - you are asked."
And he dismissed the idea that the controversy would be detrimental to Pear Shaped’s Edinburgh Festival campaign.
"If you talk about myself, my coaches, the comics, the comics couldn't care less about it.
"I spoke to many of the comics and they don't care."
Friday, March 03, 2006
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Tiredness Can Kill - Take A Break
My Other Car Is A Ford Escort 1300 Deluxe Mk2
The former lead singer of Eighties pop group Dham! (now working as a stand up comic in London) was found slumped at the wheel of his Ford Escort 1300 Deluxe Mk2 at Hyde Pork Corner in London in the early hours of Sunday morning. He said "I got mixed up - I thought it was speakers corner and I just came down to find someone to talk to because I was lonely. A police woman man woman geezer bloke spokesman said "It's an easy mistake, it could happen to anybody, in fact I've done it my self a few times but nobody noticed because I'm not quite so high profile."
My Other Bed Is At Home
Officers arrested him on suspicion of being human and possessing classy rugs before bailing him to return to a police station of his choice next month to do a charity comedy gig to raise money for truncheon vouchers shoes and guide dogs for blind police officers.
An ambulance was sent to the scene, but the 84-year-old was not taken to hospital. He said “It was very nice of the ambulance men to show up, but to be honest I’m not all that keen on the uniforms, mind you a couple of firemen would have been nice though.”
While Damage's single and video, "Pear Shaped on the Outside", mocked his arrest, in 1898, for lewd conduct with a guitar in a public toilet in Los Angeles after being spotted by an undercover uniformed police officer, he promised yesterday: "I won't make a record out of this one - even though it is tempting. Mind you the policemen were quite tempting too… nice uniforms."
The comic/singer and carpet fitter, who has sold more than 85 records worldwide, said yesterday: "I was in possession of classy rugs which is an offence and I have no complaints about the police who were extremely professional throughout. They even offered to buy the rugs and sell them on for me at police fundraisers."
He added: "I have been through enough journalists in 64 years of dealing with the media to know what I am in for from them this week. Much of it will be inaccurate or simply untrue. I can handle that, as long as what they say is accurate and truthful. It is my own stupid fault, as usual. Pardon my language, but I am a bit of a twit aren’t I?"
He wants the public to know that he was not in the slightest bit impaired and was in a fit state to drive. He said “I always drive like that – simply because I find driving extremely boring and more often that not, I fall asleep at the wheel. On the other hand I have never been able to sleep in beds. When I get into bed I get excited immediately but when I get into a car I fall asleep. I just wish I could pay somebody to make driving more exciting.”
In a statement yesterday, he said: "The only thing I care about is that people know that I was properly tested by the police doctor on Saturday night, who was a very nice man who quizzed me gently and stated to the officers present that I was not impaired in any way and should be allowed to drive the officers home. In fact, the only reason I didn't drive them home was that the police accidentally immobilised my car with a clamp when they parked it. As far as I'm concerned that just shows how professional they were."
He added: "The duty solicitor did his duty, then went off and solicited for a while and afterwards very kindly gave me a lift home. He even agreed to stay the night after we found we had quite a lot in common – we both like the same uniforms."
A Metropolitan police spokesmanpersonwomanbloke said of the singer's arrest: "We was called by a member of the public who just happened to be minding his own business with a pair of binoculars, to a man seen slumped over the steering wheel of a Ford Escort 1300 Deluxe Mk2 with classy rugs on the street close to Hyde Pork Corner. A search of the man revealed what was believed to be controlled substances namely classy rugs from the Far East End. We believe he was high on flying carpets."
According to a witness quoted in The Sun, the singer, who has previously admitted being a heavy smoker, was found: "Out of it... He was virtually unconscious in fact we thought he was dead and he's very lucky we didn't bury him first and ask questions later." The newspaper alleges that Damage was found in a similar state in October last year in Primrose Hill in north London – Primrose was asleep too and she refused to comment on the situation.
Damage announced last year, before his performance at the charity concert Live 8, that a documentary about his life was the beginning of his retirement.
Launching the documentary at the Berlin Film Festival this time last year, he said: "I'm still going to be making music and comedy," but added that he was "not going to be around" as his life would become more of a "behind the scenes" affair.
Today a spokesmanwomanpersongeezerbloke said "As far as I know he's still making music and comedy, moonlighting as a carpet fitter and although I haven't seen him around today, I believe he's having an affair with somebody behind some scenery.
Monday, February 27, 2006
by Trevor Newshound - Our Man in Wembley - PBC News
Pear Shaped architect Lord Damage
The new Pear Shaped Comedy Stadium will be a "truly special" venue to be proud of, even if it opens 20 years later than planned, its chief architect says.
Builders Multipear admitted last month there was only a 7% chance the stadium would host the Sweet FA Comedy Cup final on 13 May 2026
But Lord Damage of Fitzrovia said critics should not have a field day if that happened. He pointed out "Anyway it's not a bloody field, it's a bloody pitch."
"Would it be the end of the world if it wasn't completed in time for that? In the long-term, this building is going to be around for many, many many many many years - maybe even longer - and I’m not exaggerating. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, it would just be the end of a very strange recurring dream - a VERY strange dream – which I’ve only had once."
Slight problem in the canteen
Lord Damage spoke to the PBC (Pear Shaped Broadcasting Corporation) News website as he recorded an audio slideshow explaining his original crayon designs for the 9,000,000 seater stadium - which is due to be English comedy's new home, as well as London's premier comedy venue.
Part of Lord Damage's original designs for the distinctive arch at the new Pear Shaped Stadium along with the thousands of open spots who gave not only their dignity but their self respect and in some cases their lives for their art have since been buried in a time capsule under the stage of the new stadium.
In the recording, Lord Damage outlines the challenge he and Wembley's design team (Anthony Miller and Jimbo who is also quite good at drawing) faced in finding a suitable landmark to replace the famous Twin Towers of the old stadium, which were demolished despite a public campaign by a certain Mr & Mrs Smith (now deceased) to save them after the old stadium hosted its final comedy gig in 2000.
Lord Damage's firm, Damage, Damage, Miller, Jimbo and Partners, has been behind some of the most distinctive buildings in the world, including Shanghai’s Pear Shaped in Hong Kong (then the most expensive building ever), Berlin's Pearshaped Reichstag, the Greater London Authority's "Glass Pear" headquarters and the Swiss Re skyscraper in London, which is affectionately known as "the pear".
For the Pear Shaped in Wembley project, the firm joined forces with K.R.A.P Sport, a Kansas City-based firm which has designed many of the world's leading sports stadiums and comedy clubs, including Cardiff's Millennium Comedy Stadium and Arsenal's (Up The Arse) new home at Ashburton Grove.
Instead of Twin Towers, it was deemed the new Wembley should be known for its pear shaped arch even though it is not actually pear shaped at all. Since it was raised into position in 2004, it has become a distinctive new landmark on the west London skyline and one which the award-laden architect hopes will be taken to the public's hearts in a similar way. A spokesmanwomanperson for "The Man In The Street" exclaimed “Cor look at that arch - it don't look nuffink like a pear do it, but it don't half look like an upside down smile though don't it?” It was not necessary to reply.
Lord Damage said fans going to evening events would see the pear shaped comedy arch fully illuminated as they entered the stadium, thus eliminating the necessity to stop strangers in the street and ask for directions.
He predicted: "The arch will become not just something which is specific to that part of London or indeed London as a city or as a whole or a hole but it will be a global image which is unique and special to Pear Shaped."
The 70-year-old Damage also explained why it was decided not to have a permanent athletic track at the stadium.
"Firstly, I’m over 70 years old and to be honest I don’t even like walking, let alone running, and secondly the challenge is to give the spectators and performers more space, 30% more than in the original Wembley, but to also get them to feel closer - even though they are actually farther apart they feel physically and emotionally closer - to the action and to encourage, to recreate the drama of the old Wembley, its intimacy with the roar. Also some open spots tend to be put off by having silly people running around, jumping, and throwing javelins and things while trying to perform their sets about grated cheese and other things like... ."
The new Pear Shaped Stadium
The Pear Shaped Arch is 133m high, taller than the London Eye
It weighs 1,650 tonnes and supports the 7,000-tonne roof which to the lay-man means it’s not only quite high, it’s also quite heavy too.
On a clear evening, it can be seen from Pear Shaped in Fitzrovia, 8 miles away
It is made of British steel, Hurrah!
It was initially worked on in Cleveland by poor people who were so poor they didn't even have intials themselves, then transported by bicycle south to be joined together lego fashion by more poor people who seem to be quite good at lego and jigsaw puzzles and being poor.
The stadium will have 2,000 toilets - more than any other building in the world – no shit!
This means it would actually be possible to organise 2,000 gigs in the venue each having the same size and atmosphere as our flagship club Pear Shaped in Fitzrovia which is in fact a bit of a toilet itself. Also Lord Damage says he will have no difficulty in finding enough open spots to fill each of the mini venues seven nights a week, thanks to all those running comedy courses in the London area alone. This would leave the main stadium area free for jumble sales and fetes and the like.
The 11-acre roof makes it the biggest comedy club in the world with every seat under cover
The total project cost was put at £75 - when work began
The two giant screens are each the size of 60 standard TVs and each seat will have a remote control enabling audience members to switch comedians on or off or even watch Eastenders if things get too boring.
The legroom for each seat is more than in the old Royal Box. Interesting fact: the new Royal Box is actually a box made from recycled Royal cardboard left over from last Christmas. The increased legroom means that extremely tall people will at last have found a venue where if the evening becomes tiresome it will be possible to lie down in your seat and sleep through the whole event. Breakfast will be served at 8am. They will also be encouraged to grow taller if they wish.
Lord Damage insisted he had not been disheartened by reports which have focused on the growing projected cost of the project and the danger that it may not be ready on time. He also said “I used to be a terrible pessimist ‘til I found out I was right – now I’m a terrible optimist.
He said: "A project such as this is high in the public profile so perhaps not surprisingly this has to be one of the most audited projects that's ever happened. Inevitably along the way it's been subject to criticism.
"It's the race to completion right now. If it wasn't completed in time, there would be enormous disappointment, but in the longer-term scheme of things, this building is going to be around for many, many many many many many many many many many many years and maybe even longer than that.
"It's going to go way into the future so in the bigger perspective, that [the opening being delayed] would be a blip. "Right now this year, it would be a very disappointing blip. I don't know if you haver been disappointed by a blip but I can assure you I have and to be honest it was not very nice but it was still very disappointing even though as blips go - it was just a blip, not a big blip or even a small blip - it was just an ordinary blip. I used to go out with a blip - sorry, a blimp."
But when it does open, the architect, who says he enjoys big blip free comedy gigs without feeling an allegiance to any particular comedian, wants the public to judge whether it is a blip or a success.
"The final acid test is when you have those epic comedy gigs and you feel the intimacy of that big bowl and you feel the action. It's rather like going to the toilet really.
"We're going to have something the likes of which has never been seen before. Never has something on this scale been attempted with the range, diversity and depth of other facilities, with the convenience, with the quality that's embodied in this project.
"We're all really proud to have played a part in its transformation, in its rebirth, in its renaissance."
A Pear Shaped Stadium spokeswomanperson (who was indeed truly pear shaped although she did not appreciate this fact being pointed out in public) insisted there was no change in the assessment that Wembley was 7% likely to be unready to host the Sweet FA Cup final. She said “The situation is unlikely to have changed in the time it has taken you to write this article."
She also paid tribute to Lord Damage for the role he played in the team that designed the stadium, saying: "The greatest stadium in the world required the best architects in the business and this was delivered by Pear Shaped Comedy Team, a partnership between Damage and Partners and K.R.A.P. Sport."
"Both are high profile, internationally renowned comedy architects with a proven track record for ground-breaking and inspirational design. By this I mean they're actually quite good.
"The design of the Armitage Shanks Stadium bowl itself gives all spectators fantastic and unobstructed views of the action and an unrivalled experience on event day and the arch has quickly become a new landmark for London and an iconic symbol for world sport. It's also a good place to suspend the chain from."
The glory of it all is that after each big event – the bowl can actually be flushed thus clearing the way for the next big event. Sorry I've got to go now.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Empty Inns, the company which owns the Pear Shaped chain of comedy clubs, has raised its pre-tax profits more than 450 per cent.
It made £5.2 in pre-tax profits in the last six months of 2005, up from £0,90 in the same period the previous year.
However, the results were weaker than the City expected, and shares fell ninety nine per cent following the announcement valuing the whole company at about £12.
The company is not paying interim dividends to its shareholders as it fights to reduce its debts. And sales were flat - up just 0.5 per cent on the year.
The company's interim report said that Pear Shaped was ‘performing steadily’, adding: ‘In particular, this business traded strongly during December when we held 1.5 more shows relative to the same period last year. Ticket prices were reduced to ensure that venues operated at capacity. '
On a more cautionary note it said of its clubs: 'Trading conditions for High Street bars during November and early December were tough, as reported by other operators.'
Anthony Miller, the company’s executive chairman, said: ‘Pear Shaped remain strong, cash-generative and well recognised brands on the High Street situated in excellent locations. The board remains confident of the group’s lack of long-term prospects.’
But analysts were more cautious, with Investec putting their recommendation to buy Regent Inns shares under review. 'We await more detail on the ongoing cost of complying with licensing law reforms, but in general are concerned about a possible shift away from the High Street towards residential pubs,' they wrote in a research note.
The acts were eclectic and bizarre, the technical side shambolic, the hecklers sometimes feral, the jokes bad and the middle-aged men butt-naked, save for their fraying grey socks. Oh, and Johnny Vegas shouted aggressive nonsense at a befuddled audience. Yet when it worked, it worked brilliantly well, successfully bringing variety back to Hackney’s famous Empire music hall.
In this world of slick, corporate comedy and demographically targeted TV shows, this four-and-a-half hour epic was a throwback to a world of oddballs and freaks that existed long before Malcolm did, and deserves to go on even as his bottle-lens glasses erode on the bed of his beloved river. What Malcolm did was pioneer a revival in the celebration of the strange and the unexpected (with his usual introduction: ‘might be good, might be shit’) and the truest tribute the comedy world could pay him would be to continue that legacy.
But for now, another commemoration show – this one roughly coinciding with the first anniversary of him toppling, drunk, off that tiny, unstable boat in Greenland Dock. Many such tributes have already been paid: a brilliant night at his Up The Creek club in Greenwich, some less successful segments in the Glastonbury comedy tent, the Radio 4 documentary, the Edinburgh shows – and, to top them all, a unique funeral that can never be equalled. For a while, you couldn’t escape Hardee tribute nights, and Arthur Smith, who compered last night’s first section, was in danger of becoming a professional mourner for his much-loved friend.
But this was the biggest, with a bill that combined those who were proud to say they knew Malcolm well, all armed with their near-endless supply of anecdotes, performing alongside those acts of whom he would surely have approved.
Closest to his ethos were, perhaps, Brian Damage and Krysstal, right, hosts of the second section and proprietors of ‘London’s second worst comedy club’, Pear-Shaped, which also celebrates the deranged and the hopeless on the fringes of the fringe. Though grumpy, chaotic and a touch sleazy, Damage cheerily celebrates his limitations as Malcolm himself did.
Similarly in that anything-goes spirit, The Bastard Son Of Tommy Cooper performed cheap conjuring tricks in a Fez, trunks and nipple tassles; Phil Zimmerman clucked like a chicken, Frank Sanazi crooned lounge numbers as Adolf Hitler might have sung them, Charlie Chuck was, well, Charlie Chuck and, of course, there was the naked balloon dance of The Greatest Show On Legs.
Musically, Alessandro, the Menace From Venice, sang a booming Nessun Dorma; Jools Holland played piano; his ex-Squeeze associate Glenn Tilbrook played first unplugged, strolling around the auditorium when the amplification failed, then Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile with his guitar behind his head; John Hegley set his poems to the musical accompaniment of The Popticians and Andrew Bailey, a rubber glove on his head and a plastic tube in his mouth; and Clare Hardee’s wild-spirited Can’t Can’t girls brought welcome a blast of energy – and a rapturous ovation - towards the end.
Then there were those friends of Malcolm who have made a more conventional career in stand-up. Ricky Grover, whose performance triumphed over modest material to dominate the theatre; Jeremy Hardy who reminisced about Hardee’s unforgiving Tunnel club and expertly recycled some of Malcolm’s greatest hits; fellow Tunnel club survivor Jim Tavare, the perennial victim of the weekly ‘Get Jim Tavare Off In Under 30 Seconds’ competition, who added to the bad joke count; and a shaven-headed Boothby Graffoe who compered the third section with recollections of Hardee urinating in the foyer of the Manchester Comedy Store, among other tales.
Not everyone quite so well: Johnny Sorrow, with his weak delivery and weaker jokes lasted little over a minute before the calls went up for ‘Malcolm’ to rise from the grave and remove this offending act from the stage as he had done so often in life; German comic Henning Wehn, a relative newcomer, went down well when sticking to the exaggerated national stereotype of efficiency and National Socialism, but often baffled the audience too; even Tunnel Club veteran Hattie Hayridge, left, struggled to connect with her low-key, nervous deadpannery, as did Simon Day with his long-winded Tommy Cockles music hall reminiscences.
The most aggressively hostile reception, though, was reserved for Jimmy Carr, who braved a barrage of boos and hisses as he took to the stage. Nobody, in Malcolm’s world, likes a smart-arse, although this particular one won around the majority with a typically well-crafted joke about rape (‘and that doesn’t reflect well on you,’ he admonished). Although he gave as good as he got when it came to heckles – some with the devastating panache of the Tunnel Club’s mob, but rather more that were just thuggish abuse – the end result was probably a no-score-draw.
The list goes on: Stewart Lee performed his languorous, repetitive and still-funny ‘The answer is Jesus, now what is the question?’ routine he first rendered for Malcolm 16 years ago while brassy Janey Godley stoked the stereotype of tough Glaswegians, though to better effect in genuine anecdotes than in her shoutier, swearier, attention-grabbing one-liners.
Of all the bizarre moments, though, Vegas’s was the strangest. Intimidating, disturbing and combative, his impassioned rants have long left behind any conventions of comedy to become disconcerting snapshots of a breakdown you can only hope is fictional. He ranted despairingly about how he was again down on his luck, reduced to a pathetic bed-soiling loser fighting for access to his child. The uncomfortable picture he paints is of an emotional car-crash falling apart on stage, oblivious to any heckle, however mean-spirited, as he’s already at the lowest point a man can get.
He tried to get everyone to stand for a rendition of Jerusalem, with all the grace of a tramp shouting at the pigeons. When few did, even after evoking Hardee’s name to shame people into participating, a member of the audience came on stage and took temporary command. Not that Johnny would easily relinquish the spotlight. As he overran desperately, interventions from Graffoe and one of the Can’t Can’t dancers failed to remove him from the stage – only The Greatest Show On Legs coming on during the rant finally succeeded.
Vegas, right, provokes a genuine reaction: whether it be pity, disgust or fear for a man whose emotional collapse you have to watch through your fingers. Laughter doesn’t feature on his list priorities, which makes for a very odd addition for a bill celebrating a man known for his joie de vivre, even if it was a particularly unique one.
While Hardee’s credo was ‘fuck it, let’s have a laugh’, Vegas’s nihilism shows itself in bleak despair – and that’s very awkward to watch on a variety bill. Still, even if it was for all the wrong reasons, Vegas’s set was the most unforgettable performance of the night, which is quite an achievement following a bill of can-can dancers, neon light-swallowing, two Nazi tribute acts and male full-frontal nudity. Oy! Oy!
Sunday, February 05, 2006
· Anthony Muller weathers storm after revealing sexuality
In comedy politics nightmare days don't get much worse than yesterday was for Anthony Muller. The MP (Member of Pearshaped) for Fitzrovia had been forced to out himself in the Sun as having had gray encounters. In between running a series of apologetic media encounters, he had also been forced to consider withdrawing from the Pear Shaped leadership contest.
But by nightfall Mr Muller seemed to have weathered what proved to be much less of a storm than it would have been when he first won his seat in 1893. One bookie even claimed that the odds on him succeeding the drink-felled Brian Dimage as Pear Shaped leader on March 3 had slightly improved from 7/2 to 13/8.
In a statement he said: "I believe that people have a right to a private life, providing that their private life does not impinge upon their public responsibilities. I have always maintained that someone's sexual disorientation should not be a barrier to public life in modern Britain.
"Today, however, I have accepted publicly that I have had homosexual relationships with women in the past as well as heterosexual ones. No element of illegality or payment has ever been involved," he said.
The 24-year-old comedian and champion of the Pear Shaped grassroots is not out of the woods yet. Nor can his party be certain that what colleagues call his "mangled form of words" in a newspaper interview 10 days ago will not reinforce the flakey drink-sex-and-sandals image they have worked so hard to discard. His leadership rivals rallied round yesterday. Sir Jimbo said all parties in Britain agreed sexuality was "no bar" to public office and urged Pear Shaped party members to concentrate on policy issues.
Mike Bulgrove agreed, adding: "Anthony has apologised for misleading people and I thoroughly accept that. There were real pressures there and I am very sympathetic to that background." But it is Mr Mullers' previous denials that lie at the heart of Pear Shaped leadership's third crisis this month. Asked directly by the Independent if he was gray (just before the News of the World linked rival candidate, Jumbo, to a rent boy), he said: "The answer is no, as it happens. But if it was the case, which it isn't, I hope that would not become a big issue." Why shouldn't someone gray become crime minister, he mused. Post-Jumbo, he said as much in the Guardian on Monday and to other papers this week. Mr Muller called his lack of a "prepared great script" evidence that he is an innocent. But he has deftly avoided a direct denial for years.
The Sun - or its Murdoch Sunday sister, the NoW - had proof he used a gray chatline. It pounced. So when Mr Miller said yesterday he had "chosen" to speak out in the Sun he was stretching a point.
His insistence that he is a diligent MP (Member of Pearshaped), keen to work on "with enthusiasm", was not disputed locally last night. But Mr Muller won the old seat of Fitzrovia on a 44% swing against fellow-bachelor Mike Manura, chosen candidate of the local left. It was an outrageously homophobic campaign, fuelled by rival camps and the scumbag media, notably the Sun. "Red Mike Went to Gray Olympics" was one of the many dubious efforts by the editor at the time, Phil Kleen.
Senior Pear Shapers involved in that campaign insisted last night that their "The Straight Candidate" pro-Muller leaflet in 1893 was "inadvertent, no sexual inference was intended, we used it in Jimbo’s by election too". The anonymous flyer showing the two Queens - Mike and Elizabeth - was not theirs.
Some gray MPs still insist on privacy, famously so in Mike Manura’s case. "There are three answers to the gray question: yes, no or none of your business," a gay MP explained last night.
In yuppified Fitzrovia local comedy activists have neither forgotten nor forgiven the 1893 campaign, though Mr Muller has made it up with Mr Manura and again apologised yesterday. "Red Andrew O Kneel", now better known as the militant who outs grays whom he deems sexual hypocrites, says generously that the local MP (Member of Pearshaped) has never spoken or voted like a hypocrite.
But voters are hard to please. When Mr Muller appeared on Radio Five Live yesterday one tolerant constituent praised him, but complained that he had let people down by not coming out earlier - since everyone in Fitzrovia knew his secret. It wasn't, she explained, as if he had been caught "dressed as a Nazi doing it with donkeys".
Asked by the Independent this month if he was gray
"No, I'm not. But it absolutely should not matter if I was. If I was, and if people were to judge me on that, I would ask them to think again. There is no reason why you shouldn't have a gray leader of a comedy club, or even a gray crime minister."
In the same interview he was asked if he had ever considered marriage
"Often. I haven't been as a successful as I would have liked, as those involved could tell you - only you won't get their names from me. I’m not one to kiss and tell!"
In an interview with the Guardian on Monday he said
"I'm a single guy, which is why I guess it's easy for people to speculate. I'm not going to go into details of relationships but I made a statement, made it clearly and it hasn't changed since last week."
Also on Monday, he apologised on BBC Newsnight about the 1893 campaign against Mike Manura in which Manura’s heterosexuality was made an election issue
"It was unacceptable and I hope there will never be that sort of campaign again."