June 15, 2014
A quick recap and the results of yesterday’s games:
Colombia 3-0 Greece
Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica
England 1-2 Italy
Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan
So, spot the shock result from the above! That’s right; we only lost by one goal!
Oh, ignore me, that’s just a sad joke. We played well… (when I say ‘we’, I mean England… it’s a synechdoche, or something… I didn’t play well. I didn’t even play. Who do you think I am? One of Rooney’s Looneys?)
Incidentally, that last bit, the Rooney’s Looney’s bit, I hope no one is offended by it. Mainly because I have pitched it as a film idea to George Clooney’s company. Years back I pitched Clooney a film idea called Clooney’s Looneys, about a bunch of madcap robbers who plan the ‘Heist of the Hectosecond’. I never heard back from him, and then was a little shocked when Ocean’s 11 hit the screen. Yes it was a different title, but in ever other aspect it was completely different from my pitch too. And for that reason, and only that reason, I decided not to sue.
I digress. So… Clooney’s Looneys didn’t work out, but what of Rooney’s Looneys? Wayne Rooney (played by Daniel Craig) is imprisoned in Guantanamo. He gets together a ramshackle bunch of prisoners and forms a football team to take on the American guards (led by a cheeky and likeable torturer played by George Clooney). Rooney’s plan is to use the football match as a means of escape. All goes wrong when the Americans turn up ready to play ‘American’ Football. They are covered in padded gear, helmets etc. There then follows a 17 minute Tarantino-esque debate over the differences between ‘soccer’ and ‘football’. It looks like it is all going wrong. But no! Ha! It is you dear viewer who has got it wrong! This was Rooney’s plan all along! The rat-a-tat-tat Tarantino-talk is a cover for the escape. And the Americans, encumbered by their clumsy outfits and helmets, can’t keep up with the nimble-footed footie fools. The film ends with Rooneys looneys sitting in a bar in Havana called Smokie Mo’s smoking cheroots and laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing.
It’s a feelgood sports comedy set against a background of torture and wrongful imprisonment.
Back to the tweepstake. Quick summing up of last night: England down but not out, keep an eye on Costa Rica. (And I’d like England to do well for more than the obvious reason: @Christian_N-Orr, swept up by the power of the tweepstake, has promised an extra £5 to Alzheimer’s Society for every game England wins! He is a star! And, if you fancy helping out you can make a donation at my Just Giving page here. Just a pound or two will help me reach my goalllllll!!!)
Here are my previews and predictions for today’s games:
Switzerland (@realandrewgreen) v Ecuador (@wasaunders) ITV, 5pm kick-off. Estadio Nacional de Brasilia in Brasilia (capacity approx 68,000). Switzerland are ranked 6th in the world, Ecuador are ranked 26th, which says it all really.
SWITZERLAND 26 ECUADOR 6
France (@Zoleipar) v Honduras (@wristwatch42)BBC, 8pm Kick-off. Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre (cap. approx 48,000). I have a vested interest in this one; @Zoleipar is my wife. Sorry @wristwatch42. But still… here’s my informed opinion: France failed to win a single match in the 2010 World Cup. They are out for revenge. They will win this one to lay down a marker. Honduran cuisine makes extensive use of coconut.
FRANCE 2 HONDURAS 1
Argentina (@joyfeed) v Bosnia-Hercegovina (@jaq421)
BBC, 11pm Kick-off. Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro (cap. approx 75,000) The match of the night and one worth staying up for. Argentina have at last sorted out where Lionel Messi plays, and it is for Argentina. And for any Manchester City fan, this is the clash of Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko. Bosnia-Hercegovina used to be called Bosnia Herzegovina, a model famous for her catchphrase “Hello boys!”
ARGENTINA 4 BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA 1
Have a good day, enjoy the football, and to all Fathers out there, happy day.
June 10, 2014
In the early 80’s me and Trev met at Manchester University. We were doing degrees in Drama (one each). I can’t speak for Trev, but I was hardly the most academic of students. Nor was Trev. As our friendship developed, so did our interest in comedy, more commonly known then as mucking around a bit and getting up late.
We were blessed with having tutors who not only indulged our experiments in comedy but also actively encouraged it. (Every Monday night students would perform their latest experimental pieces at the department’s Stephen Joseph Studio, a converted church where we once tried an ‘alternative comedy’ take on Chekhov).
One of our tutors was Dr David Mayer (later to become Professor David Mayer). David’s daughter, Lise, was the girlfriend of a former student, Rik Mayall. The two of them, along with another former Manchester student, Ben Elton, had just written a new sitcom for the BBC called The Young Ones.
We had no TV. We were students; we had no money. Any money we did have had to be spent on beer. And tins of Goblin Dumplings (50p at Oobidoo. Everything at Oobidoo was 50p. That’s why their slogan was –Don’t ask the price. We always did.)
The Drama Department had a TV. And a video player! Every week David Mayer would video The Young Ones for us. And I do mean us, the two of us. Others may have come along too, but David, gently pushing us in all the right directions, knew it was important for us to see this show.
There’d been nothing like it. And it was made by students from Manchester! Not Oxford, not Cambridge. Manchester! It was the most ground-breaking Mancunion contribution to comedy since Frank Randle (and, if you have four minutes to spare to watch this clip from Somewhere On Leave, 1943, you’ll see that Frank would have fitted very nicely into the world of The Young Ones).
Sometime shortly after this, in 1983, David said; “Lise, Rik, and Ben are going to be at my house over the weekend. Would you like to come and meet them on Saturday night.”
Ok… stop. Take a big long break in reading. I’d like to leave a big long gap on the page but that’d be daft. Just imagine the time it’s taking me, even now, for this to sink in. Would we, two stupid students, barely out of our teens, like to meet the creators of The Young Ones? At our tutor’s house?
Let’s deal with David Mayer’s house first.
It was a Mansion of Myths. We’d never been there, but we’d heard the rumours. Apparently he had a shower with three heads! And a Picasso! And we were being invited there! To meet The Young Ones! (I know exclamation marks should be used sparingly, but… come on!!!)
Now, the meeting. Of course we went. We even prepared: We spent Saturday afternoon scooting around Oobidoo, looking for fun items and generally asking the price. We settled on a wind-up spider. 50p.
And so we headed off on Saturday night to our tutor’s home in the posh part of Manchester armed only with a wind-up spider. (I don’t know at what age we learn to take wine, but whatever age, we hadn’t reached it yet).
We arrived at the house. And whatever you read from this point onwards, I assure you, did happen. David greeted us and showed us into a huge half kitchen, half dining room, with a small dividing wall about three feet high in the middle. In the dining room half there was a circular table. And there was Rik, Lise, Ben… and possibly someone else (sorry someone else). David didn’t introduce us… oh, he may have said something like “this is Trev and Simon”… but he didn’t explain who we were or why we were there. The one other thing he did do was to ask us to keep an eye on some steaks he was grilling in the far half of the kitchen.
This of two idiots whose diet consisted of tinned Goblin products.
And David disappeared! Where did he go? To this day no one can answer that. But the best bets are ‘to have a look at his Picasso’ or ‘to have a shower’.
So… we kind of stood around. The others, at the table, carried on talking to each other. At one point we wound up the wind-up spider and let it have a little walk. It didn’t get much of a reaction. But then, why should it? These fellows had demolished a house in their first episode.
We hadn’t been asked to do much by our tutor. Just keep an eye on some steaks. But that wasn’t our forte. We did our best. We wandered over to the cooker. We looked at them. And then they burst into flames.
How can a steak catch fire? I’m sure it’s easy to burn a steak, to ruin it; but for it to catch fire?
Trev struggled to get the grill out. He did, eventually, but not before the fire alarm went off.
The rest is a blur.
On Monday night we did a daft bit of comedy at The Stephen Joseph Studio. It ended with us dropping some kind of large object off a balcony onto our wind-up walking spider. The spider was smashed to bits. And Rik, and Lise, and Ben were there.
Afterwards we talked about Saturday night. They had no idea why we were there or who we were. They said they hadn’t realised we were ‘comedians’. Which could have been a compliment or not, but either way we had a long chat with our comedy heroes. And for the next few days they were around and about. One night I played cards with Ben and Rik (Ben insisted on giving me money for a taxi home. I insisted on refusing it. I walked the three miles home in the rain. What an idiot student.) Another night we sat chatting with Rik in the bar at The Contact Theatre (the theatre connected to the drama department). He gave us lots of advice and he even gave us his phone number (before mobiles… this was Rik’s home phone number!) and told us to phone him whenever we wanted. He also gave us a quote to use on our publicity for our first Edinburgh show. He told us to use, “My favourite act!”
Up in Edinburgh, doing our first ever show in 1984, we walked past a poster for a band. I can’t remember the band, but I can remember the quote: “My favourite band”, Rik Mayall.
RIP Rik. Thank you. x
December 21, 2013
All ten DVD covers have been reviewed… and one bogus one that sneaked in at the last minute as a result of Amazon’s Top Ten changing so radically between the 11th December and the 20th! Who knew Amazon could fiddle around with their lists so much; seemingly basing best on sales? Click here to catch up on yesterday’s Number 1.
And now it’s your turn. Three polls to vote in. Firstly, the best cover. Then, the worst cover. And, finally, the funniest.
Here’s a quick reminder of the contenders:
And here’s the polls:
And for the last one, since a comedy gala has an unfair advantage, I have removed it and replaced it with yesterday’s surprise No. 1 choice on Amazon, Jethro!
December 20, 2013
Here we go! After nine long days it is time to put you out of, or into, your misery.
I’ve been taking a look at the Top Ten Comedy DVD’s according to Amazon, and then reviewing them by the state of their cover alone. But a funny thing has happened since I first searched out the list on the 11th December.
I’m going to show you the list from 10 through to 2 that I found on the 11th December. And then I’ll show you the list as it stands today. See if you can spot the funny thing.
Here’s my list from the 11th December (without yet revealing number 1):
9- Peter Kay
7- Jimmy Carr
6- Eddie Izzard
5- Sean Lock
4- Jack Dee
3- Bill Bailey
2- Greg Davies
And now, here’s Amazon’s Top Ten as of today (and I’ll save the number 1 til the end too!):
10- Peter Kay (but a different DVD)
9- Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown
8- Def Comedy Jam
6- World’s Greatest Stand-Up
5- The Comedians
4- Jim Davidson
3- Stewart Lee
2- Channel 4′s Comedy Gala (but 2012, not 2013)
And no.1? Well, it’s a repeat of one of the above. But I’ll save the surprise.
And did you notice the funny thing that happened? Yes, that’s right! The list went from being pretty pretty good to being pretty pretty shit.
How did that happen? Is it based on sales? And if it is, did NO ONE (out of my 24 or so readers) pay any attention to my thorough reviews?
And how on earth did Stewart Lee and his Comedy Vehicle sneak in there at no.3? Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m glad Stewart Lee is in there. He’s my favourite comedian. Ever. (Though Frank Randle gives him a run for his money).
But truly, what gives?
And so, at last, here’s the proper (as in the 11th December list) Number 1. It’s…
Yes! Micky Flanagan!
And he’s made my job easy. I’m reviewing this solely by the cover and Micky has wisely eschewed any fake stickers with silly newspaper bits declaring him to be this or that. It’s just him, with a bit of a cheeky title and a cheeky chappie grin. And, as I sit here typing, I say to my wife, “there’s not much to say really”. And she says, “Say he’s copied my walk”.
I like Micky Flanagan. And he makes me laugh. Though he has copied my wife’s walk.
Two 15 certificates. Suitable for 30 year olds.
But here’s the thing. You’re all (24 of you) waiting to find out who’s top of the Amazon chart today, aren’t you? Yes?
It’s a 3 DVD boxset. It’s £5.75.
I wasn’t going to review this cover. It’s not part of the plan. And I don’t want Jethro stealing any of Micky’s thunder. But there is one point of great interest: Jethrol uses the fake sticker style favoured by yesterday’s no. 2, Greg Davies. But whereas Greg’s fake sticker was used to declare him “one of this country’s best comedians”, Jethro’s fake sticker is used to declare “contains new release”.
Contains new release. Contains new release.
Just say it a few times. Over and over.
Is it making you feel queasy? Contains new release.
Is it meant to be a joke?
Contains new release. What does it mean?
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help thinking… contains new release… I can’t help thinking Jethro has somehow spunked out his new video.
Maybe that’s what he wants us to think. Who knows? Who buys Jethro? What is he? And why doesn’t Ricky Tomlinson sue?
December 19, 2013
I’m reviewing the Top Ten Comedy DVD’s (taken from a search on Amazon), but with a trick. I’m not watching them. I’m not even reading about them. I merely looking at the covers (pictures of the covers) and coming to undoubtedly unfair conclusions. It’s a service I’m offering to help you with those last minute Christmas presents.
Yesterday I looked at numbers 3 and 4. In fourth place was grumpy Jack Dee. In third place was becalmed Bill Bailey.
Who’ll be in second place? And will they be a smiler or a scowler? Here goes…
It’s Greg Davies! And he’s… scowling? Or squinting? Possibly pondering.
As far as covers go this one is a winner, only bettered so far by Bill Bailey’s barmy army cover. It looks good, there’s outsider art involved, and it presents us with a mystery: why has Greg decided to turn his back on the view? Is he doing it to spite his Mum? And what is he looking at with his one eye? And why’s he called it The back of my Mum’s head? And is that his Mum? And if it is his Mum, is it his real Mum or a ‘stage Mum’? And why is he wearing a huge blue badge telling us he is “one of this country’s best comedians?”
That’s the one part of the cover I hate. I can’t tell for sure but it looks printed on rather than being a sticker you can peel off, and that makes it just a little bit worse. Someone (maybe Greg, maybe not) designed this cover and made it as good as they could and then someone else (a marketing idiot) came along and said:
(The kind of person who says ‘guys’ to everyone regardless of gender)
“Hey guys, I’m not really sure this cover sells Greg as well as it could. After all, he is one of this country’s best comedians, can’t we find a quote from somewhere that helps get that point across?”
The quote is found and the marketing idiot tells someone else to make it look like a big sticker stuck on the front of the DVD. And this someone else, who has no power, tries to suggest it will look shit and it will ruin the cover. And the marketing idiot, thinking they are being creative, adopts a pose not unlike Greg’s, pretends to think, and then declares “make it blue, so it matches the blue of the sky!” And the marketing idiot barks a laugh and shouts out “”That’s blue sky thinking for you” and everyone pretends to laugh and a cover is destroyed.
Two 15 certificates. Suitable for 30 year olds.
Tomorrow, number 1.
December 18, 2013
Ok, so I didn’t get a chance to do number 4 yesterday. Sorry! But it’s nearly Christmas and there is drinking to be done.
And so, rather than be a day behind, I am going to rattle through numbers 4 and 3 today. Here’s my thinking, this is the plan; if I get to Number 1 by Friday then you are all sorted for your Christmas shopping. You’ve got the weekend to buy the whole Top Ten. If that’s your thing.
The downside is that I can’t tell you anything about the content of these DVD’s. It’s not like I’m watching them! I haven’t got the time! Or the money! …No, hang on… I haven’t got the money! I knew it was one out of the two.
Having seen none of them I am solely judging a DVD by its cover. Which is fine by me. These comedians surely approved their covers; even, bizarrely, Jimmy Carr!
Before we start the Top Three countdown let’s get Number Four done. And it is…
It’s the original Grinch! It’s the grumpiest comedian ever! It’s Jack Dee!
Here’s Jack! Looking more hapless than grumpy. He’s pulling the kind of face you imagine he might have pulled when he heard Martin Freeman had stolen the part of the Hobbit from him.
Ooh, as a little diversion, here’s some stuff I have watched. Let’s laugh along as Vic and Bob try to cheer Grumpy Jack up. And look carefully… at one point Jack is sitting next to The Hobbit himself, smiling away, not grumpy at all.
Now, back to the serious cover analysis.
I’m getting a little fed up of the double 15 certificate thing. It’s on all of these bloody videos. But, for those new to this blue and red stickeration the double 15 means this DVD is suitable for thirty year olds.
Jack’s gone for an old variety poster style for his cover. It’s a cross between the Good Old Days and a boxing flyer. As such, it’s covered in stars. The Telegraph gives the show Five Stars, but if you count them all up this is in fact a 47 Star show. That’s a hell of a show. So What? So 47 Stars What, that’s What!
Jeremy Hardy calls the show/Jack a “little ray of sleet”. It’s not quite up there with Lee Mack’s critique of Stewart Lee…
… but it’s still a fun quote.
And so on to the Top Three.
(Incidentally, the Top Ten order has not been decided by me. I am going off the first ten comedy DVD’s that came up when I searched Amazon’s Stand-up comedy section way back on December 11th).
And, at Number Three…
It’s Bill Bailey! And what a cover! Truly astonishing! A 12 certificate! A first for the Top Ten! Here is a DVD for (almost) all the family.
It’s also the first DVD in the Top Ten to entertain me through title alone. If only all warmongers became qualmpeddlers the world would be a much better place.
As far as most comedy DVD covers go (grins, teeth, quiffs, scowls) this one is a work of art. A spoof art work too, mocking and mimicking the militaristic murals of Mao.
Bill Bailey may be only Number Three, but it’s likely, when the votes are in (the poll will open on Saturday) that this cover will be Number One!
Tomorrow, Number 2.
December 16, 2013
Following on from yesterday’s no. 6, Eddie Izzard, we move straight on to no.5. And, to quote Winston The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, “If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor”.
See, the thing is, I’ve been out all day and now I have to eat and then get to my choir’s social, where karaoke is king, and that starts at eight.
So… Number 5.
It’s Sean Lock! We hope. The tricky thing is to try and figure out what letter his head is. But since his name is actually Sean Lock I’m going to plump for an ‘O’. His head is a big ‘O’. He’s the Roy Orbison of comedy.
He’s a two 15 certificate comedian man, making him ideal for any thirty year olds.
He may have his hands down his pants.
Talking of pants, his cover with its swirly fonts makes me think a little of this:
Despite his down-turned mouth and the description of him as “punchy”, I doubt he is a violent man. Unlike Eddie Izzard’s DVD, he is not selling an Ultraviolent version of his act.
He is also “inventive, superb… undeniably brilliant.”
Well… do you dare deny it? I thought not. You can’t. It’s undeniable.
If you’re wondering what Sean’s Purple Van looks like, here’s a pic:
I am off to do my yearly sing of First Of The Gang To Die and Manchester. Bye.
Tomorrow, number 4.
Oh, and if you’ve never seen this video, give it a watch. It’s “punchy, inventive, superb… and undeniably brilliant.”
December 15, 2013
The countdown continues as we reach the halfway point. Have you found your ideal Christmas present yet? So far we have had the Channel 4 Comedy Gala, then Peter Kay, then Kevin Bridges, and yesterday, Jimmy Carr. Today it is the turn of the future Mayor of London.
Number 6 is…
Wow! Now, for those new to my style of reviewing, I’m simply going to review the cover, not the contents. And this cover’s a stunner. It makes me think of this:
It’s Eddie Izzard. And his show is called Force Majeure Live.
That’s a two thirds French title, but don’t worry, the DVD isn’t in French. Or, if you are French, do worry. Or not. You choose.
But what does it mean? Heck knows. Here’s a hastily researched online definition:
This is an ultraviolent copy. And, as a result of it being ultraviolent you can watch it anytime, anywhere. A bit like The Goodies.
It’s another 15 certificate twice, making it suitable for 30 year olds.
He also (and I admit I didn’t get this info from the cover, but rather from the guardian yesterday) plans to consider entering into politics as either Mayor of London, or just parliament in general, around about May 2019. the 17th.
That’s 6 years away! 6 YEARS AWAY!
A priest once said to me “never trust a comedian who wants power over us. In the future. Around about May”.
Eddie Izzard is “a genius”.
Tomorrow, number 5.
December 14, 2013
I’m judging all the Top Ten DVD’s by their covers by the way, not the content. And here’s what I know:
Jimmy Carr’s DVD is called Laughing and Joking. It has an 18 certificate. It’s (like the Liberace DVD) purpley. Oh, and Jimmy couldn’t find time, or wasn’t bothered enough, to pose for a cover photo. Instead, he sent along a hideous animatronic doppelganger made out of BHS clothes, Action Man Eagle Eyes, Action Man Hair (pre-realistic style), earwax, and The White Cliffs of Dover.
Truly the most astonishing DVD cover I have ever seen.
Tomorrow, number 6.
December 13, 2013
It’s Kevin Bridges: The Full Story Boxset!
Now! A quick reminder of the ‘rules’. I haven’t seen any of these DVD’s. In many cases I haven’t seen the comedians. Even on the Apollo show. I am simply reviewing them by their covers alone. Here goes.
I don’t know Kevin Bridges story. But it goes something like this: Kevin Bridges talks about what it’s like being the unsung son of Hollywood actor Jeff Bridges. There’s some amusing anecdotes about boyhood fishing trips with Uncle Beau and an alarming tale of an onset visit to see Grandpa Lloyd when he starred in the comedy Jane Austen’s Mafia!
Maybe he’s not related. Maybe he is! You decide.
The Full Story Boxset is possibly a little misleading. How many DVD’s make a Boxset? How many stories make a Full Story? Well, in this case, two. Two DVD’s. Two stories.
The stories so far are, ahem, The Story So Far and The Story Continues. Perhaps, next Christmas, the Full Boxset will become a Triple Boxset and, in typical three act story style, the story will end with the third DVD, The Story Ends.
Comedians come in two forms; the grumpy comedian and the smiley comedian. In first place, at the moment, are Jack Dee and Michael McIntyre. (I was going to say respectively, but I’ll leave it for you to figure out- you can always click on the names above to see photographic evidence). Kevin, as his legs suggest, is straddling the two styles; it’s not a smile, it’s not a grimace. I cannot tell what it is. He is a third kind; the enigmatic comedian.
He possibly has no arms.
He’s looking up. The camera is either very high or Kevin is very short.
This is “unmissable stuff” and, with two 15 certificate symbols, it is suitable for thirty year olds.
There is a lot of yellow.
Tomorrow, number 7.