Comedians hit back

August 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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When Fosters took over sponsorship of the former Perrier awards in Edinburgh I am sure they thought it was quite straight forward. Coming from an advertising background, I can just imagine the meetings required to ‘brainstorm’ this sponsorship.

Random Fosters Marketing person: “Guys, how can we make this bigger and better? How can we make sure we make our mark and stop people from continuing to bloody call it the Perrier awards!”

Agency creative: “Why not we celebrate 30 years of the awards and get the public to vote and crown the comedy god of the last 30 years of the Edinburgh fringe.”

Cue, lots of applause.

Not a bad idea, pretty straight forward, doing something different and fresh for a long time, job done. Who would have thought that a public voted competition, that for a brand does not look in anyway risky, would cause a bit of controversy.

It all started with Stewart Lee, who expressed his disgust at the competition particularly as it doesn’t recognise the acts that aren’t the superstars, who don’t get the recognition or the publicity that the big acts do. Read the letter to the awards producer here.

This began the twitter and facebook campaign to get the Japanese musical group Frank Chickens (as mentioned in Lee’s email) to the top of the tree, and crowned Comedy God.

Well, it seems to have worked. Frank Chickens, after more than 30,000 people have voted, are to be immortalised in Fosters beer cans. Albeit in a specially commissioned artwork. They ended up making pieces of the top four voted acts, so Fosters at least got to make works of the superstars namely, Michael McIntyre, Tim Minchin and Russell Howard rather than just Frank Chickens. Interestingly though that the other comedians in the top 4 are all of this generation. Really? Top 4 comedians that have ever been nominated for the awards in the last 30 years have been from the last few years? Hmmm, find that hard to believe.

But I suppose, this is a strange story in brand sponsorships and treading the line of credibility. If Perrier had held this competition, when they were sponsors, would they have witnessed the same backlash? Maybe not. The winners I suppose out of all of this has been Frank Chickens. I was one of the people who hadn’t heard of them until this controversy had come along.

So sad, damn nothing to listen to on radio

February 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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Found out today Jon Richardson is no longer going to host his BBC 6music radio show with Fordie. It might not mean much to most people, but it’s been a Sunday ritual for me to listen to their show. It began with Russell Howard, they took over the Russell Brand show. It was brilliant. Russell left to work on his stand up and TV. Jon took over the main role. Now he’s leaving, mind you after he goes to the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

Sad 😦

Soupy Norman

January 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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Never heard of it? Soupy Norman was a nine part series shown in Ireland. It is a re-dubbing of a Polish soap opera called Pierwsza miłość (First Love). It’s hilarious because it’s a classic game that I am sure most people have played themselves when the sound on the TV isn’t working, can’t understand the language or just bored. Putting on voices and just saying anything.

Mark Watson’s 24 Hour Show Edinburgh 09

August 29, 2009 at 4:21 am | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment

If you haven’t heard about it, a crazy comedian, Mark Watson, occassionally hosts a 24 hour show. He has done them in Edinburgh and in Melbourne. I had heard about them for a while, but was never in the position to go. So when I heard he was hosting one this year, and that it would be the last one ever, well I had to go didn’t I?

I didn’t know what to really expect. There’s a lot of activity during the night, but then I never hear about the aftermath or how it all went. There were perhaps 70 or so people, we were squeezed into a room, that had no air conditioning, not much by way of drink/food access and you had to walk half a block to get to the toilet. The energy and the atmosphere in the room was enough to keep you going for the entire 24 hours. We as an audience were sitting on our butts for most of the 24 hours but Mark was pretty much on his feet, having to be nice, entertaining and being a general host for the whole night.

My intention was to stay the full length of the gig. It started at 01:00 on Tuesday 18th of August 2009. Previously i endured a 9 hour bus ride overnight on the Megabus from London to Edinburgh. I slept for maybe 2 hours, then unpacked quickly, had a quick bite to eat, and headed onto to some other comedy shows I had already booked in. Straight after those, no time for more sleep, headed to the Pleasance Dome for the start of the 24 hour stint. I was thoroughly unprepared for this gig. I didn’t bring water, didn’t bring food, deodarant, cushion or blankets. All I had was a large bag of sweets, which I then ate over the course of the 24 hours.

The gig actually started 20 minutes late. This threw everyone off because we couldn’t really celebrate each hour passing at the o’clock we hadn’t really stayed for the full hour. So began a discussion on how to overcome this situation. Well about 15 different options were proposed by various members of the audience and comedians. Eventually it boiled down to two options:

1. Move the clock on the computer 20 minutes back, convincing ourselves that it was actually only 1 o’clock. Thus creating a new time zone within the gig called New Scottish Time (NST for short)

2. Keep going as per usual and just add a 40 min encore that would take us up to the o’clock mark

Two members of the audience were the main driving force between New Scottish Time, whereas Adam Hills threw his weight behind an Encore. A vote was taken and the audience agreed that New Scottish Time was the way forward. But why stop at just the gig? We had all deluded ourselves that New Scottish Time was a legitimate time zone and thus began the quest to convince the public that NST was here to stay. To put weight behind the story, it was ‘discovered’ that the UK was located 240 miles to the west of where it should be. All maps would need to be re-drawn and the NST should be employed. We put in entries in wikipedia. It kept getting taken down. A press release was written under the guise of the University of Edinburgh. News crews picked up on it, BBC, CNN were calling the university.

Rove McManus twittered about it in Oz. All the comedians began checking their phones trying to find out who they could convince to write or spread the word about NST. It was discovered that Simon Amstell had Stephen Fry’s mobile number in his phone. Well, this just opened up a world of possibilities. Such a huge twitter network! Stephen tweeted twice.

For the rest of the gig, any newcomers were specifically asked … so what time is it? Falling into the NST trap.

In addition, Sammy J arrived and as is tradition, dressed up in clothing from the audience. We managed to fit 50 items on him. He was despatched to Edinburgh Airport along with Heath McIver and Dave Quirk to try to convince the airport to switch to New Scottish time to avoid collisions in the sky.

We also played “What’s the New Scottish Time, Mr. Wolf?” Resulting in Mark prematurely trying to attack a sheep.

Some other events/tasks that took place that night:

* There was a triple jump off competition between David O’Doherty, Dan Walmsley, Dan Atkinson and John Bishop. DOD and John both did theirs in their pants (undies for us Aussies). DOD pulled it out of the bag and beat Dan Atkinson on the final jump.

* There was a dance off between Mark and DOD, DOD tried to do the snake and robot dance and ended up rutting a big cardboard cut out of Rhod Gilbert instead.

* Chris Cox dazzled us with his mind reading skills on multiple occassions.

* Chris Cox and Mark attempted to punch Brendon Burns.

* Adam Hills always wanted to take an entourage to his gig, so he fulfilled his dream that night. A group of girls were chosen to accompany him to his gig, they went into Starbucks and flanked him while he ordered, they brought him out on stage, and remained on stage for the entire gig.

* Simon Amstell participated in blind date

* DOD introduced at the start of the night the idea of singing a Christmas carol every hour finishing with “Do they know it’s Xmas Time”

* Tiernan Douieb became our onstage pet (decorating balloons)

* Adam Hills opening the Kirkcaldy comedy festival with Emma and Al Kennedy, visiting Gordon Brown’s local office and giving them a letter stating the claim for the introduction of New Scottish Time

* Mark wore his Producers clothes for a period

* Matt Crosby from Pappy’s fun club date to see Antichrist with a member of the audience

* All the aussies on stage for rendition of 6 white boomers

* Everyone’s attempt at getting Bono or the Proclaimers to come to the gig

* A Unicyclist trying to teach Mark how to cycle (tradition – he apparently can’t ride a bike)

* Oompa band doing Queen Bohemian Rhapsody

* Introduction of the revolutionary product called the Slanket (it’s a blanket with sleeves)

* Hugging competition to win a slanket

* An audience member got a tattoo that said Mark Watson Edinburgh 09

* we moved across 3 venues throughout the night

And finally the Comedian Guests: Simon Amstell, Tim Key, David O’Doherty, Dan Atkinson, Chris Cox, John Bishop, Lionel Blair, Stephen K Amos, Lloyd Langford, Idiots of Ants, Phil Nichol, Ali McGregor, Josie Long (over Skype), Sammy J and of course Adam Hills plus many more I am sure.

All in all it was certainly a gig I may never do again in my life. So it was nice to be part of something like that once.

Top 5 Children’s authors

March 25, 2009 at 12:53 am | Posted in books, Comedy | Leave a comment
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I sometimes find it difficult to sleep. So at night I listen to my iPod to kind of clear my mind. Not music, but podcasts. The most recent one I have been listening to is the Radio 4 show Banter. Essentially, it’s four comedians discussing their top 3’s to a variety of topics. I thought I’d list one of mine but extend it a little to top 5.

I still love kids books. I have tried to keep as many of my kids books as possible, but there are some that I can’t find anymore. I therefore find myself browsing the kids book section to see if I can find them again.

There are many authors that could have fit this list. Ann M. Martin (The Baby Sitters Club), J.R.R Tolkien (Lord of the Rings, duh), John Marsden (Dear Miffy), David McRobbie (Mandragora), Beatrix Potter (The Adventures of Peter Rabbit), Jacqueline Wilson (Double Act), Gary Crew (The Watertower), Margaret Clark (Care Factor Zero), Morris Gleitzman (Blabbermouth) and , ahh so many, but I can only include top 5. So here we go…

1. Roald Dahl:
A pretty obvious choice. Anyone who can write stories about giants, witches, gifted children, elevators made out of glass and enormous fruit gets a vote from me.

2. Judy Blume:
I was introduced to Judy Blume when I was in year 4 and my teacher got into the habit of reading books to us. She started reading ‘Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing’ and I absolutely loved hearing stories about Fudge. I then discovered her other books and I am sure many women can agree they were great when you were growing up.

3. Paul Jennings:
Probably my favourite Australian author. They even made my favourite Australian TV series ever (Round The Twist) based from his short stories. I got sent a graphic novel of the Round the Twist series from Paul Jennings that was signed … a highlight.

4. J.K. Rowling:
Alright, controversial because she has only written the one series unlike the other authors on my list, but what a series.

5. Diane Bates:
Probably not as well known as the ones above, but when everyone in the school library had borrowed all of the cool books, and I was too slow I had to find something else. I stumbled upon the Grandma Cadbury series, essentially about a Grandma who is still out and about and active, taking her grandson on adventures.

As my mood changes, or different things happen in my life this list will change. That’s what I find fantastic about books, they evoke different memories or feelings at the point in time that you read them. I suppose that is why I have two Australian authors in my list, because they were entwined with my childhood. As Children’s books should…

Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian!

November 4, 2008 at 8:53 am | Posted in Comedy, video | Leave a comment
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What a classic. He is amazing. What an actor. In a nutshell that is acting!

Edinburgh – ow my sides hurt

September 23, 2008 at 9:03 am | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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The main reason I wanted to visit Edinburgh was for the fringe festival, mainly the comedy shows. So the night time was devoted to stand up, and the day was sight seeing. My lovely colleagues gave me a farewell present of a Falconry experience at Dalhousie Castle so I had that to look forward to. Let’s start with that…

Falconry: What an incredible experience. It was raining in the morning. Raining half and hour before the session, but then managed to clear up. Unfortunately we couldn’t actually take the Falcon’s out because they won’t fly in the rain. So just had to make do with the Owls and the Eagles! The words to sum up Falconry? Graceful, elegant, intelligent, beautiful and heavy!

Bill Bailey: Weaving music with stand up observational witty wordsmith. I felt that he has now moved more towards music than stand up. Not that I am complaining, as I believe that he is an incredible musician. If you’ve seen Black Books you’d know be aware of his musical skill. This was the first show I went to at the festival and felt it was a nice way to break in.

Russell Howard: One of the last shows I went to, and if you’ve read my blog you’re well aware of how much  I love his radio show with Jon Richardson. He has recently left the show with Jon Richardson now taking over. Back to his stand up. He delivers all stories with this school boy energy and charm that makes you like him despite the content (not that it wasn’t funny). My sister didn’t actually find him as funny, I think his humour perhaps wasn’t to his liking. But he was incredibly entertaining, and attracted a huge crowd.

Mark Watson: One of the only comedians that I had seen previously… on a number of occasions. I believe that he is one of the most intelligent comedians I have seen. Just the way he structures and presents his stories are interesting. One of the images he presented was a pigeon flying into the forehead of a man. Just conjuring up that image in my mind makes me laugh.

Michael McIntyre: The funniest comedian with the floppiest hair. If you ever watch him you’ll be mesmerised by his hair movement when he shakes his head about. But besides that, he is incredibly hilarious, lots of observational humour and delivered by a consummate professional.

Ed Byrne: One of my biggest fears about going to watch Ed Byrne was not being able to understand him. In actual fact he was perfectly understandable and just as funny as I expected. This was the first time I had seen Ed Byrne live after seeing him on TV back in the early 90s when he did a lot of comedy galas, one of his most famous pieces of material is about Alanis Morrisette and her lack of irony in he song Ironic.

Jason Byrne & Adam Hills: A midnight show, that was a huge surprise. I have seen Jason Byrne on many festival galas on TV and thought he was quite ordinary (probably because he only has a couple of minutes). He was an absolute laugh in this show. I felt that he upstaged Adam Hills. Far more natural and believable. It was pretty funny hearing Adam constantly asking “Excuse Me?” to Jason because he couldn’t quite understand him with his thick Irish accent.

Jon Richardson: After listening to his and Russell duel it out on a week to week basis it is great to put a face to a name. He is still quite new to the scene and it does show in comparison to the seasoned professionals, but he is getting better and does have some unique qualities, mainly his OCD.

Jimmy Carr: The king of the one liner. It isn’t for everyone, and my sister proved that. She didn’t really like a lot of his stuff, I think because a lot of it is quite in your face and as they are one liners, it’s hit after hit after hit. His show was quite long as well, so my cheeks were hurting quite a bit throughout the show.

Danny Bhoy: I’m afraid I am not sure whether I can see Danny Bhoy for a long time. He tours quite a bit, particularly in Australasia, but he recycles material. I have seen him I believe twice before, and left quite a big gap between last time and the festival and he is still throwing up some old material. I think it’s great to throw in some safe ones, but after a few years I would have thought that they wouldn’t be used. Ah well.

Henry Rollins: Also probably one of the biggest surprises of the festival for me. I had never seen him do ‘stand-up’ before … there’s debate over whether it’s stand-up or spoken word, so I had no expectations. I was a fan of Black Flag, he’s got tattooes, he’s rock and roll so he’s bound to be cool yeah? But he’s also quite funny, very passionate and delivers everything with conviction. He went overtime and was given the red light many many times and didn’t go off-stage. He was doing a limited run at the festival with the hope that next year he could perhaps do a full run. Given the popularity (there were people outside asking people to sell their tickets to them), I wouldn’t be surprised if he got it.

There’s far more to Edinburgh than the shows that I went to, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see as much as I liked, nor did I get to climb Arthur’s seat. Ah well, I am only a few hours away and will probably head back to the festival next year…

Mark Watson 24 Hour Comedy Show

April 7, 2008 at 9:33 pm | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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Is the man crazy? 24 hour show? You’re kidding. Nope not kidding, it’s really happening. Mark Watson has done a couple of them (in Edinburgh and Melbourne), and he’s doing another one for this years Melbourne Comedy show. I am currently tuned in with less than 3 hours to go! So far the highlights have been Adam Hills losing to a 13 year old in the Guitar Hero Challenge, people getting naked quite frequently, a quilt with every country of the world on there and many guest appearances by many comedians (and a recent Australian Idol winner)

Black Books: For wine education

March 27, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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One of the best episodes of Black Books ever. Bernard and Manny discuss the finer points to tasting wine.    

No wait, Russell Howard also dressed up as a French Maid

March 7, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Comedy | Leave a comment
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Ok, this has made me put my hands over my mouth, laugh and giggle. What fun.

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