Blog 63

I think for me I've actually been quite busy recently.  I had an article in Fridays Guardian about Polish cinema and today Saturday I begin a new motoring column in the Telegraph. Right after the four nights at the Soho theatre I did a few days on the TV series New Tricks.  It  was fun working in TV again and that is a production that runs like clockwork so I was generally home by lunchtime.  Funnily enough in the week that I was filming New Tricks (though the two events are not connected) somebody tried the gold ring con on me twice.  What happens in the gold ring con is somebody walking along in front of you suddenly bends down and seems to pick up a gold ring that they've found on the floor, they then turn to you and ask if you think its genuine, then they spin some story about how they have to leave the country but do you want to buy it?  You thenbuy what you think is a valuable gold ring only to discover that it is worthless.   Now normally nobody comes near me in the street, chuggers look the other way and people never ask me for directions bu these people (one was a man one a woman) took me for a mug.  It must be that in whatever Balkan country they come from I look like a wealthy but highly gullible or possibly greedy gent who can easily be conned.  I'd like to take a trip to their country to see loads of mees swanning around buying lucky heather and thinking Nick Clegg's a nice guy.  Kaboom!  Satire!


Blog 63a

I'm glad everybody liked Question Time.  As late as Monday I wasn't going to do it but then I thought I might as well give it a try.  It's actually quite a challenge because you want to be funny but you don't want to be flippant about what are sometimes serious issues.  I think in terms of panel members it was an easy ride, I wonder what it would be like if the other non politician was one of those right wing nutcases like Melanie Philips or David Starkey.  If I do it again maybe we'll find out.


Blog 62

I feel like I have been neglecting you on this site but for the last few weeks, all my time (and all Linda's time) has been taken up with trying to make these comedy nights at the Soho Theatre really work.   Just after Christmas it dawned on me how idiotic it was, my idea that a return to standup after sixteen years would be a fun, easy, breezy thing do (Linda had known this all along.)   So since the New Year we have had to work really hard to shape the material we had to a new format and as it turned out a great deal of the material we had wasn't useable at all so I actually had to think about writing some new stuff which wasn't in the plan at all!

On the first night on Tuesday I had also expected the audience to be hysterical and for me be be able to surf on their energy but in fact when I went out they were quite quiet and my first bit really didn't do that well.  Luckily Josh Howie did a great job of loosening them up and when I went back on I think I'd got a better idea of what was needed, the second section went very well indeed and interestingly a lot of it, given what we were talking about on the last blog, is about my complicated relationship with Ben.  After that Pippa Evans as Loretta Main and Tony Law were marvellous and the evening was a huge sucess but now I feel like I've got a huge amount of work to do before I'll be certain this all works and indeed whether I want to carry on with it afterwards.


BLOG 62a

Alice. Thank you for that.  As a performer you often have less idea of what's going on than other people in the audience and as a comic you do tend to fixate on laughs without realising that people can be enjoying the show without necessarily being very voluble about it.  As I said since I haven' done it since 1996 I'm also a bit out of practice, really I should be doing little try-outs at comedy clubs but I can't face that so it puts a lot of pressure on these Soho shows.


Blog 61

In answer to your question Jay, I wasn't nervous about doing standup but I am a bit more now.   I did one of Robin Ince's shows at the Bloomsbury theatre the other night.   It wasn't as easy as the thing I did with Stewart Lee in the summer and it showed I'll have to work harder on the material, I can't just use the stuff from book readings without altering my delivery and linking the bits better.   I suppose it was foolish to think it would be easy, standup is not something that can be done in a casual manner


Blog 61a.

Hi Dredgi.

Yes Ben did pretty much write me out of 80s comedy history there, apart from a couple of brief clips at the start.  This morning I was railing against this when Linda pointed out that I had made him cry on several occasions so it was unlikely that he'd invite me onto his show.


Blog 61b.

This morning I got an email entitled: Stephen Fry sent you a friend request on Flip :)

And the email itself said: Stephen Fry has added you as a friend. Is Stephen Fry your friend? 

Yes  No

Then three hours later I got another email entitled: Please ignore the friend request on Flip sent earlier.

This email said: An erronerous Flip Friend request was sent earlier on behalf of Stephen Fry. Please ignore the earlier email with the friend request. Apologies for the inconvenience.

So for three hours I was Stephen's friend.  It was lovely while it lasted.


Blog 60

Its still better than having the Zionists back, if anybody can remember those days.

So I’ve still been going round the comedy circuit and Anthony I’m sorry I missed you on Wednesday I’ll call in again when I’m passing, its been a fascinating experience, I was actually at the Comedy Store when Michael Macintyre came and did 15mins .  Also at some point I’m going to put my live album Cak here on MP3 as somebody was asking, also I did a radio show with Richard Herring on Sunday and he said him and Stewart Lee had bought the rights of their TV show off the BBC and were going to put it out themselves, I wonder if I could do the same with “Merrygoround” and “The All New Alexei Sayle Show” I might look into that. 

And twitter I should look into that, and getting a new jacket, I should look into that too.


Blog 60a.

Hi Mark.  No there doesn't seem to be a way apart from taking them down as soon as we notice.  She was coming from internet cafes in Tokyo and now a T-Mobile site in Liverpool so she gets around.

Michael Macintyre.  Hmmm, well the audience were very excited that he was there but after that he didn't go down any better than any other act on the bill which is sort of strange considering how popular he is.  I remember when Robin Williams used to come down to the Comic Strip club there was this sense of a huge talent standing in front of you and he would do these performances that would blow the whole room away and there certainly was no feeling like that, still he was friendly enough in the dressing room.


Blog 60b

I should point out this isn't a full return to standup, I'm just mc'ing the shows at the Soho theatre and the show at the Bloomsbury on the 19th of December to try out new material and a different style of delivery and see how it goes.

If you want to hear me back in the old days the Cak album is now available on the Links page along with the Fish People.


Blog 59

Thank you for all your urgings for me to return (or not return) to standup.  At the moment the plan is that I will be mc-ing part of one of Robin Ince’s Atheist Christmas nights at the Bloomsbury theatre on the 18th of December and I should also be putting together three of four nights, downstairs at the Soho theatre in January, again where I will be compering between acts that I have chosen.  I don’t know if I’ll do anything before then.  I keep going to comedy clubs with all my bits of paper in my pocket with bits of material scribbled on them thinking I might perform but as soon as I get into the club I think “sod this there’s no way I’m getting up there.”  I am often reminded of a line William Goldman the Hollywood screenwriter says is ascribed to him but he thinks in fact is apochryphal since he can’t remember saying it.  Anyway according to legend Goldman is in a script meeting being lectured at by some young executive when he stands and says “I’m too old and too rich for this shit” then walks out.  I sometimes mention that line to audiences when I’m doing bookreading and they’re never very sympathetic.

In the meantime I have been going round a few comedy clubs to get a feel of what the scene is like these days, if anybody’s got any recommendations for acts they think are good I’d be keen to know.  The one thing I don’t find very interesting is all the bland observational stuff that’s out there, “young men in T shirts noticing things” as Tony Laws one of the acts I saw and liked in Edinburgh put it.


Blog 59a

Since you ask Mr Semple, there is a sequel to "Stalin..."  planned all being well it should be published in Spring 2013.  The title I have at the moment though I may change it is "The Way We Was"  It starts round about the time when the film "The Way We Were" came out.  For those of you that don't remember this was a movie that starred the two biggest stars of the era Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford and it was all about how great Communists were. 


Blog 59b

Hi Mike, if you want a copy of "Didn't you Kill My Brother..." going by Rachel's post there's a copy of the picture 12inch nailed to the wall of a bar in Montmartre.  Otherwise its on the Panic album I think.