Ask

February 20, 2016

“Ask me I won’t say no, how could I?”

I’m having a deja vu moment. I’m pretty sure I used this Smiths line for a blog post before. Most probably about the same thing. But I’m not going to check, because it’s just right. Ask. Always ask. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

We asked Rufus Hound if he would be in Episode 2 of STRANGENESS in SPACE. He said yes. As did Peter Guinness. Oh, and Carol Cleveland. You can hear them in Episode Two, Featherheads, here. And at the risk of just too much repetition have I told you, it’s free, so what have you got to lose? (Ok, about 24 minutes of your time, but if you feel it wasn’t worth it I will refund you the cost).

Last weekend we launched Episode 3, Step Back in Time. We asked Alexei Sayle if he’d be in it. You can hear the Episode here.

We are now funding Episode 4. It is called Pet Shock Boys. Our main guest will play a character called The PuppyMaster. Any more news would spoil it. But who could we ask to play The PuppyMaster?

I’d had someone in mind from the beginning, and when Sophie said she’d once worked with him on a Big Finish Dr Who audio drama, we just had to ask.

We didn’t hold out much hope. It can take a while to get an answer from an agent; and we do need a bit of luck on our side… all our eps are crowdfunded, all of our guests are paid the same. It helps a hell of a lot if they want to do it. If, indeed, they would enjoy doing it.

Things were silent for a while. And then Clare (our producer) received a succinct email that said “he’s in”.

So. Episode Four, Pet Shock Boys, will guest star Paterson Joseph as The PuppyMaster.

If you’re thinking ‘I don’t think I know him’, well, I bet you do. He’s a great actor. Here is is in one of his more well-known comedy roles:

I was thrilled when Paterson said yes. The last thing I watched him in was The Leftovers, where he played ‘Holy’ Wayne. If you haven’t seen it, do track it down. It’s amazing and moving and manages to be that rare thing; groundbreaking TV.

Paterson in Episode 4 is incredibly exciting, and I’m still getting over the shock of the yes! Ask!

Now I’m going to ask you folks to help us get it made. If you’re as excited as me at having Paterson Joseph take part, please help us fund this episode. We aren’t crowdfunding through Kickstarter (as we did to get STRANGENESS in SPACE off the ground in the first place). We’re crowdfunding it through our own website. Please take a look at our ‘shop‘ and see if anything takes your fancy. We have some new items now too! Episode 1 will be available on CD, remastered by our sound maestro Dave Palser, and also with lots of extras including remixes of the songs, interviews, bloopers etc. (I put etc. because they are all to be confirmed; but I promise you, you won’t be disappointed). We also have a new T-shirt bearing the logo of our (fake) sponsors Thorleigh’s. Dave designed this, and it’s lovely. Thank you Dave.

Thorleighs-black-distressed

And how did we get Dave to do these great sound designs, to make our logos, to help us way beyond we could have expected?

 

Ok, yesterday I did my yearly round-up of the Top Ten comedy DVDs, according to Amazon. Some of you have complained. Some of you don’t like this comedian, or that comedian. Well guess what you lot! Me neither! Some I like, some I don’t. I don’t get to choose the Top Ten. I guess sales do, or something.

Did any of you notice that all the Top Ten are male? And 9 out of 10 are white? And the only comedian who isn’t white is described as “dangerous”? Like I say, I don’t pick. I just watch and-

Oh no! The Top ten has changed today! How’d that happen? It’s a minor change; Bailey’s out, Mack’s in.

For the sake of this poll coming up, I am going to use the Top Ten from yesterday. Now remember! this is very important! You are NOT voting for who you think is the funniest. There are two polls: the first one is for the best cover, the second one is for the worst cover. Got it?

Here’s an example. You can’t stand McIntyre (not necessarily you, but someone on Twitter did express annoyance that he was in here), but you do love his cover… then you must vote for him. THESE ARE THE RULES! Please stick to them.

Ok, here goes:

Oh no! First a quick reminder. Here they are:

Henning Wehndylan moranalan carrChris Ramseybill baileyPaul ChowdryMichael McIntyreDara o BriainJohn BishopKevin BridgesNow here goes:

And now the opposite. Which do you think is the worst?

 

It’s that time again. Christmas-time. And Here I am with the annual round-up of Top Ten Comedy DVDs, helping you make those difficult Christmas present choices.

This is how it works: The Top Ten is taken from today’s Amazon Stand-Up comedy recommendations. I’ve not watched any of them. I don’t read anything about them (not even the Amazon blurb). I look at the covers and come to unfair conclusions. I’ll say the same as last year: “Yes, I am judging a comedy DVD by its cover.”

Here goes, counting down from ten to one.

10: Henning Wehn

Henning Wehn

Henning Wehn

It looks like we’re off to a good start. Henning is “a superb social commentator” with “great likeability”…. Woaaaaahhhh! Hold your horses! He’s only gone and said that about himself! Where’s the quotes from The Sun, or the guardian, or anyone else. Ah! There is a quote from Everybody Else! He’s “that German bloke”.

There’s a clue to his Germanness (Germanity? Germanicity?) in the title Eins, Zwei, DIY. And we can also tell that this is a DVD of his live show from the use of the word “Live”. As far as titles go, I like puns, and this made me laugh. But then I laughed a little less when I remembered a similar comedic use of the 123 thing from a German zombie film a few years back.

dead snow

Ein! Zwei! With my little eye!

Still, it’s a good start to our Top Ten. And Henning looks like Frank Skinner in a never-made Ronnie Barker shop sitcom called Spanner’s Manor, where Frank/Ronnie/Henning would have played Sam Spanner, a DIY shop owner who’s a private dick on the side.

Henning’s DVD is a 15 certificate, shown twice (once in blue, once in red) making it suitable for 30 year olds. It is available on Amazon for £10.

9: Dylan Moran

dylan moran

Dylan Moran

There’s going to be a pattern here with the certificates. Why they have to do it twice is anyone’s guess. Globalisation or something.

Anyway, this is Dylan Moran. Live. It’s called Off the Hook. No one knows why. Here’s some suggestions: Dylan has been let ‘off the hook’ by someone… a family member? The police?; the DVD has a fishing theme; it’s a bit like Off the Pegg– a not-yet-made one joke-fits-all fest by funnyman Simon Pegg; It’s a DVD of jokes stolen from New Order funnyman Peter Hook; it has no meaning.

Dominic Cavendish, from The Telegraph, says: “This show makes the world seem a better place”. It may well be deliberate but I have no idea what that means. He does give it four stars though, and that is good.

Unidentified writers from the guardian, The Times, and the Evening Standard also give the show four stars. One must assume that, unlike the brazenly out there Dominic Cavendish, these other writers are spies.

Nevertheless, it gives the DVD a total of 16 stars. That means it is good and funny. You can get it at Amazon for £10.

8: Alan Carr

alan carr

Alan Carr

15 + 15. This is Yap, Yap, Yap! Live. It is described by Guardian (not the guardian, so really, it could be anyone!) as “Hooting jabberfest”. (What in hell’s name has happened to the definite and indefinite articles here? Have they gone on holiday for Christmas?)

Anyway, let’s get to the point. Dogs yap, owls hoot. I’m guessing Alan is an animal impersonator. Available for £9.79.

7: Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey

15 x 2. Lots of info here. It’s Live. And you get a full-length bonus show thrown in too. It’s All Growed Up, which means… it’s not… ’cause it’s said in baby talk. And Chris is holding a microphone made out of Lego (I wonder if he had to buy it, like Ai Weiwei?) It’s “Stand-Up gold” too (from the proper the guardian). So, everything’s looking good for this one, except…

“Frighteningly talented… tearing up every stage he lands on.” GQ

This is really worrying. Why does he land on stages? Has he only ever performed in Miss Saigon? Is he an alien? And then why on earth would he tear them up? Has he a Hulk complex?

And how is he managing to lean on a blue sticker that isn’t a sticker at all but they’ve still gone and made it curl up at the edges to try and fool us into thinking it is a sticker after all?

Putting aside these worries and doubts, Chris’ video takes us back up to the £10 mark.

6: Bill Bailey

bill bailey

Bill Bailey

It’s a first this year! A 12 certificate DVD. 12 + 12 = 24. Fun for (most of) all the family!

You know where you are with this one. “Sublime hilarity” and “Blissfully funny”… from proper papers. And then there’s jokes on top! The big joke is the plug pun (it made me laugh). The smaller joke is the “high voltage comedy” bit. And the surreal joke is the tick showing that the DVD is “approved by most goverments” (I’m guessing that the missing ‘n’ is a joke I am missing out on, rather than a spelling mistake).

And you get three DVDs for £10.57!

5: Paul Chowdhry

Paul Chowdry

Paul Chowdry

Man, this one gives me the heebiegeebies!

Seriously, what gives? “Imperiously on top of his game”? Is that good? From the Mail on Sunday too? maybe it’s a spoof. Five stars though. and another five from the Daily Mirror to show that he’s cool on the left too. No quote from them, but the stars are adding up. Ten stars so far.

But then Eastern Eye lets Paul down. No stars and “Dangerous comic genius”. Dangerous? What!? Surely a comedian to be avoided?

Imperious? Dangerous? Genius? Is he after a part in the next Bond film?

But, ever fond of the cheaper stuff, PC’s World is funny.

As a little aside; when me and Trev worked on Going Live! and Live & Kicking our producer, David Mercer, was responsible for deciding if  our content was acceptable/broadcastable. At times, he could be harsh on us (or so we thought), and so, in the face of BBC right-on thinking, we would always sing the same song at him. And it went like this; “Where in the world? David Mercer’s PC World”. That’s all. Not even funny. It just stuck. But if you ever meet him, do sing it to/at him.

Back to the £10 DVD.

4: Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre

You knew he’d turn up. What would the Top Ten be without him? If anything, it’s scandalous he hasn’t made the Top Three!

No newspaper quotes here, because he doesn’t need them. “The record-breaking comedian returns with his brand new show!” A brand new show! It’s a shame they don’t tell us what record(s) he has broken. I’m going to plump for World’s Greatest Curtain Peeper.

It’s Live at The 02 Arena (does it have red curtains?) It’s called Happy and Glorious but where’s the trademark McIntyre smile?  If anything, he’s looking sneaky. As if he’s about to rob the 02. With a prosthetic hand.

Long to reign over us. 15 + 15. £10.

3: Dara O Briain

Dara o Briain

Dara O Briain

Here’s Dara O Briain spoofing a Phrenology Head, looking a little like the third of the Three Wise Monkeys. “Devilishly sharp” says Metro. What’s devilishly sharp? Dara? The scalpel that separates the sections of the brain? A Kitchen Devil knife?

Look closely and you’ll see what to expect: audience chat, highbrow, lowbrow, Gloria Estefan, Not bumping into things. Oh, and a formula I don’t understand, and gags! Gags! Right by his left eye.

Crowd Tickler. Ken Doddish? £10.

2: John Bishop

John Bishop

John Bishop

Possibly the most understandable cover amongst the lot. John Bishop. Live. At The Royal Albert Hall. “Britain’s top comic”, the Daily Mirror.

But hang on… Supersonic Live? Supersonic? As in Syd Little? I guess this is John’s tribute to Cyril Mead, the Little half of Little and Large, always referred to by Edward McGinnis, the Large half of Little and Large, as Supersonic. It’s a nice touch. And always welcome to see the new wave of comedy acknowledge the old wave. Or whatever.

Nice arrows. 30 year olds. £7.99! Cheapest so far! (unless you price Bill Bailey’s per disc).

And so to Number One. The Top DVD on Amazon today! Beating “Britain’s Top Comic”! Who can it be?

1: Kevin Bridges

Kevin Bridges

Kevin Bridges

It’s Kevin Bridges! “Kevin Bridges might just become the best stand-up comedian in the land” says The Times. That’s … ummm… treading carefully. Might just become!? “Kevin Bridges might just become the best replacement Letter I on the cover of his DVD in the land”. Me.

Perhaps comedians just like to have a laugh with the newspaper quotes. Or perhaps Kevin can’t bring himself to do the usual cheeky trick; the one where you go – “Kevin Bridges… the best stand-up comedian in the land”.

It’s A Whole Different Story… Live 2015 . There’s also one of those stickers that aren’t stickers (though at least this one isn’t fake peeling) stating that the DVD “also includes Kevin’s set from BBC1’s Live at The Referendum”. Like Live at The Apollo I guess, but I have no idea where The Referendum is. It might be in Scotland.

I feel distracted. Is there a big I behind Kevin, or is he a human I? And has he got his hands in his pockets to stop McIntyre prosthetic hand syndrome? £10.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll do some polling. Have your say. Which are the best covers, which the worst. Voting commences tomorrow.

Something Sunday

November 29, 2015

It’s Something Sunday isn’t it. Yeah, it is. Something Sunday. Comes two days after Black Friday and the day after Shrug Saturday.

Something Sunday. The day before Cyber Monday. Two days before Tired Tuesday. Followed by What Wednesday, then Green Thursday, and then, a full week on from Black Friday, we have Just Friday, when all the magistrates use No Win No Fee claim forms as auxiliary toilet paper. Next Saturday is Next Saturday, when all branches of Next offer Same day Delivery, tomorrow. And then, we come full circle to the following Sunday which, at the moment, is flirting with calling itself Sallow Sunday; a day where all yellow gifts that have been left in sun-bleached windows over the summer will be sold off at bargain prices to the first customers who skin-tones match the product.

It’s difficult keeping up isn’t it? Do you remember the good old days when days just had a number, or a one-word name? Monday the 12th, or Wednesday the 29th… and so on. Do you remember? Think back. Do you remember when there was that Monday in your childhood that was just a Monday, any old bog-standard Monday, but what a great Monday it was? We all loved that Monday. I think it was Monday 16th July, 1979. What a Monday! Glorious. A Monday. With a number. 16.

The good old days.

And then came Saturday. Saturday 21st 1979. What an awful day. Mondays were never the same after that were they? Bob Geldof and his bloody pop song. Released on the 21st; completely buggering up the 23rd. So he didn’t like Mondays? He could have kept it to himself. But no, too late, he’d opened the floodgates. Blue Monday was next and the world was never the same.

And now here we are, on Something Sunday.

Let’s try and make the most of Something Sunday. Let’s try and make something positive out of the hell Geldof unleashed.

Let’s make Something Sunday something special. Let’s make it Strangeness Sunday.

Have I told you about STRANGENESS in SPACE?

(I know. I can hear you; “so that was his plan all along. To start off with some nonsense, some improvised rubbish, and then to slowly suck us all in only to bang on about his new thing.”

Yes. It was my plan. Sorry. Sorry Sunday.)

If you haven’t heard about STRANGENESS in SPACE, it’s a new audio sci-fi comedy me and Trev have done (done as in written, acted in etc) along with Sophie Aldred (Ace to Sylvester McCoy’s Dr Who). We’ve also had the most amazing special guests involved, including Doon Mackichan and Rufus Hound.

You can listen to Episodes 1 and 2 here. For free.

We’ve now written Episode 3, and the writing for Episode 4 is underway. We also have a great new special guest for Episode 3. Only the comedy legend that is Alexei Sayle! This is so exciting for us. It’s just amazing to be able to ask some of our favourite funny people and for them to actually say yes.

And the great thing is, because this project is crowd-funded, we have no suits hovering over us, telling us we can’t do this, we must do that. We are lucky enough to be able to do exactly as we want. And if we want Alexei Sayle in it, we ask and cross our fingers. And the great man said yes.

Crowd-funding made this happen. You all made this happen. It’s a great thing, and we’re all in it together. Tell me why, I do like crowd-funding.

But (oh, I know, there’s always a big but)…

We crowd-funded Eps 1 and 2 through Kickstarter. We went beyond our intended target enabling us to fund not one, but two episodes. But now we are on to Episodes 3 and 4 we need to raise the money ourselves and crowd-fund through our own website.

We’re getting there, but the sooner we can hit our target the sooner we can get our great cast back into the studio to record the next two episodes.

If you’ve enjoyed listening to STRANGENESS in SPACE please do take a look at our ‘shop’. We’ve lots of things in there costing from just a few pounds to… well… a few more. Anything bought in the shop goes straight towards our goal to fund the next episodes; to pay all the people who are working so hard on our behalf to get this made; our Production Team, our cast, all those helping behind the scenes. All these great people are working long and hard hours, and often for ridiculously favourable ‘mates rates’. I promise you, everything we spend is up there on that audio “screen”.

Here’s some of my favourites from the shop:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is our first set of STRANGENESS in SPACE badges. You can get the set for £6 including Postage and Packing (posted and packed by me or Clare, with a handwritten note too).

We liked these so much we had a second set made too… a little more in the know for ‘Mirthlings’ who’ve listened to the first two episodes.

badges-layout-1-350x300

We’ve also got T-shirts, Beanie hats, Bags for Life. You can find our shop by clicking on this link.

Christmas is coming soon too. We have our own STRANGENESS “Merry Spacemas”card in the shop. It’s signed by me, Trev, Sophie, and Clare. It can be dedicated to whoever you choose. And we can post it to them for you, or we can post it to you.

spacemas-350x300

If you fancy helping us get the next episodes made but you don’t necessarily want us to post you anything, why not consider sponsoring a page of our script. Each page can be ‘commissioned’ by you. It will have your name at the top of the page for all the cast to see and we will also email you the script once it is released. This is limited to the number of pages in the script, and at the mo we have 11 left. You can be one of our page commissioners for £20 and you can do that by clicking on this link.

Ok. Enough I think. Enough trying to flog you stuff for today. Enough Something Sunday. You came here for a bit of fun, I reeled you in, and then I gave you the hard sell.

But… if you can help, please do. We are having so much fun getting STRANGENESS in SPACE made, and we can’t wait to be getting on with the next two episodes.

Happy Sunday everyone. And remember, tomorrow is Monday. Just Monday. But do watch out for the Cybermen.

 

 

Some of you may be aware of STRANGENESS in SPACE, the new audio sci-fi comedy drama we’ve made with Sophie Aldred (Ace in Dr Who). If I’ve been a little bit neglectful of my own blog here, the poor old Mummified Fox, it’s because I’ve been putting all that good stuff that some folk call content into another area: The STRANGENESS in SPACE WormHole!

The WormHole is a members only area giving those who join up Access All Areas passes to all that is STRANGENESS. So far there’s over 70 posts of photos, stories, interviews, and videos. Membership is for… well, a long time. We’ve never really pinned that down. Somewhere between a Year and Life… more likely falling towards the Life end (it’s not like we’re internet librarians with stamps and stuff).

Now here’s the thing. Normally Membership is £20. But this week is WormHole Week, and we’re making Membership only £5 for the first 100 to sign up. So, if you fancy it, please spend a fiver to gain access to some really funny stuff. And if you do, that money will go directly to funding the next Episodes of STRANGENESS. If you’ve not listened yet, please do. It’s free, and we have two completed episodes featuring me and Trev, Sophie, Doon Mackichan, Barnaby Edwards, David Annen, Sarah Madigan. And also special guests like Carol Cleveland, Peter Guinness, and Rufus Hound!

You can hear Episodes 1 and 2 here. They are FREE! Please take a listen. If you like them, that’s lovely. And if you’d like to hear more, please help us. Please take a look at our shop. It’s our own version of crowdfunding. We’ve got the cut-price WormHole membership, and we’ve also got badges, hats, bags, and scripts and all sorts of ways you can help us get these crazy episodes made.

Here’s a one minute version of a video in the WormHole. It’s when Rufus met Sophie.All improvised, with none of us having any idea what could happen. It’s funny. Very funny. And the full version is four times as long and even funnier… with some rude words. Easily worth a fiver. I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please spread the word and help us hit our target.

ASK

April 6, 2015

It’s one of the great pop songs. And since hearing it, it’s one I’ve always tried to take to heart. Yes, shyness is nice and (more often than not) the antonym is hideous. So, it’s always worth an ask.  “Ask me, I won’t say no, how could I?”

Years back, last century, when I worked with Trev Neal on Saturday morning TV, we’d get to perform daft sketches with the stars of the day (Big Fun, Craig Machlachlanchlachlan, Nathan from Brother Beyond) and sometimes the stars of many days (Kylie, Cher, Mel Brooks). When it came to the Christmas and New Year shows there was always an attempt by our boss, Chris Bellinger, to up the ante, to aim high, to get the big guns in. And we would always ask for the top bananas. Year after year, for ten years, we’d hand in our wish list. Always the same names. And always, at the top of our list, the same two. We never did get Eddie Murphy or Gorbachev. But the point is, ASK! Always ask.

During one series of Live and Kicking we had a weekly feature called Every Loony Wins*. It was a daft phone-in quiz and we had a band as part of it, all played by kids from the audience. The leader of the band was called Des Tindeby (The Des Tindeby Band). And during their musical performance (miming to the very real Spike Jones and his City Slickers) a character would jump on stage (again one of the kids) as The Lone Yodeller (a Lone Ranger type, in a mask, yodelling like a loony). And each week we would end the segment by looking into the camera and saying; “Just who is the Lone Yodeller?”

When we reached the end of the thirty week run it was time for us to reveal just who was the Lone Yodeller. The obvious way to do this was for it to be one of the guests of the week. The only problem was (me and Trev being a picky pair) none of the guests were up to the task. (Anyone remember Little Danny Mangrove? or Nu Boxxx? Or Jennifer Bush?** No, I thought not.) And so we went to Chris… and we asked… we begged… please, please, can we get another guest. One worthy of the title of The Lone Yodeller? Chris wanted it to be Little Danny Mangrove. Little Danny, who was actually 6’2″, had just won Pop Zinger on ITV and his record company, BIGPUSH, were desperate for him to be the Lone Yodeller. They’d even recorded a special yodelling version of his current hit, A Pocketful of Promises, for him to mime to. We couldn’t have it though. We insisted; the Lone Yodeller had to be a bigger name. And then we asked Chris this; “if we can get a big name to play along will you let them be the Lone Yodeller?” This, of course, depended on who the big name was. We said to Chris; “if we can get Jonathan Ross to be the Lone Yodeller will you let him do it?” And Chris said yes.

Just one snag. We didn’t know Jonathan Ross. Not really. He’d been a guest before on the programme, but it’s not like we played tennis with him or anything. It’s not like we’d been to his house, or had his telephone number. All we had, on our side, was the ability to ASK.

It’s time to get to the races now so… we asked… we found a phone number for his production company and we asked… and they said “we’ll ask”… and we waited. And he said YES!

Jonathan turned up on the Saturday morning, played the Lone Yodeller and also brought along a friend of his who went on to declare “No! I’m the Lone Yodeller!” Our second Lone Yodeller wore a shoe hat, made from two shoes and a coat hanger. That was was Vic Reeves.

Ask.

We’ve been asking again recently. We are working on a new thing. A Sci-Fi audio comedy adventure with me, Trev, and Sophie Aldred. Some of you reading this will already know about Strangeness in Space. ***

And we’ve been asking people to help us out with it. We’ve given up on Eddie Murphy and Gorbachev, but we have asked two top people who have only gone ahead and said YES!

YES! Doon Mackichan has said yes to being our narrator, Bounty Flightingale.

YES! Rufus Hound has said yes to being Atrocious Knocious, an alien hoverbiker who’s never even heard of Evel knievel!

All from asking.

* based on Nick Berry’s hit Every Loser Wins. We had a minor battle with some BBC bigwigs to get them to accept the use of the word Loony. I’d grown up with it, reading the works of Spike Milligan. It was accepted in the end when dictionary definitions, on the whole, gave the word two meanings; one meaning (and our one) was silly, the other mad.

** Ok, I’ve made all these acts up. And the ongoing business with Little Danny Mangrove. Other than that, this story is true.

*** A final ask. Please help us get this made. We’ve loads of perks available if you join us: T-shirts, badges, scripts, signed photos and artwork, etc. We’re not far off our target now, but the more money we raise, the more episodes we can make. You can back us here.

Over the past few years, in the build up to Christmas, I have been reviewing the Top Ten Comedy DVDs to help you make those difficult Christmas present choices. I’ve left it a bit late this year, but here goes: all ten in one go.

And here (for those new to this exercise in futility) are the rules: The Top Ten is taking from today’s Amazon Stand-Up comedy recommendations. I’ve not watched any of them. I don’t read anything about them. I merely look at the covers (pictures of the covers) and come to undoubtedly unfair conclusions. Yes, I am judging a comedy DVD by its cover.

That’s it. Happy shopping. Let’s countdown!

10: Nina Conti

Nina conti 2

Nina Conti

Nina Conti is “Brilliantly funny, outrageously hilarious”. But we don’t know who said this. Perhaps it was her dad, the Liverpool boxer John Conti.

It’s a “live” DVD but I cannot tell you where from. The show is called “Dolly Mixtures”. I remember Dolly Mixtures from my childhood. They were/are sweets. Nina’s teeth are perfect suggesting she doesn’t eat them, or she brushes well. Her smile is rigid. If I were Sherlock Holmes I would put this with the puppets below and conclude that she is a ventriloquist with a penchant for confectionery nostalgia. Suitable for 15 year olds and above.

9: Harry Hill

Harry Hill

Harry Hill

No. 9 is Harry Hill. He is the “Lord of Misrule” and this is his return to stand up. It is also a “Brand New Live Show”. Unlike Nina’s we know the location of this live show. It is Leeds. The show is called “Sausage Time” and the cover suggests the sausages that are taking up the time are meat sausages and also “sausage” dogs; dogs resembling sausages in shape alone.

This DVD is suitable for anyone above the age of 12.

8: Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner

Well now, this is fascinating. It’s that rare thing in the world of stand-up comedy DVD cover art; something that looks, almost, well… designed. As if someone has put some thought into it.

Here’s what we know for sure. It’s Frank Skinner “live”. Location unknown. The show is called “Man in a Suit”. The comedy comes from Frank being in a suit and a suit alone. No shirt, no tie. We cannot see, but I guess he has no shoes too. It’s traditional, it’s subversive. And possibly a little Christ-like.

The Mirror (representing the ordinary left-wing folk) call it “A masterclass in stand-up”. The Telegraph (representing the extraordinary right-wing folk) call it “Outrageously funny”. Something for everyone. Over 15.

And if you think you’ve seen that cover somewhere before, try this for size.

Frank Scanner

Frank Scanner

7: Roy Chubby Brown

Roy Chubby Brown

Roy Chubby Brown

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

18 and over.

6: Jim Davidson

Jim Davidson

Jim Davidson

Jim Davidson is “Back and Live”. We don’t know where he is live, or where he is back from. The quote from The Mirror (none from The Telegraph here) says “Standing ovation to packed houses every night” so perhaps Jim did a door to door tour.

The DVD is subtitled “No further action”, which is, I assume, an Operation Yewtree reference. Jim also reveals the “Unseen story of Celebrity Big Brother”, unseen by any who didn’t watch it.

He stands, cheekily, clutching his mic like a big cock whilst hiding his other hand in his pants! Spotlights play over his groin area, saucily. It’s a 15 and over affair.

5: Al Murray

Al Murray

Al Murray

Covers don’t come any better than this. It’s a work of art with something for everyone. Firstly, Al is painted. Take a close look; he could be by Michael Sowa, or a painteralike. That pint of beer is a masterpiece waiting to appear in an unwritten Paul Heaton drinking song.

Look at that maroon strip along the bottom; worthy of the discontinued range of HD DVDs (the ones that lost out in the 2008 BluRay/HD DVD war). It’s an all-new live show. We don’t know where, but look! A bonus is a full-length live show from somewhere we do know; Edinburgh.

The Times says; “Murray is on exuberant form, splashing the audience with both his beer and his ideas”. Yes, it’s an odd quote, but no doubt well meant.

The cover references the Carlo Goldoni classic, “Servant of Two Masters” (aka One Man, Two Guvnors”) and there is an added joke in the subtitle “20 years at the lager top”.

It is suitable for 15 years olds and it is 20 past one.

4: Still Game

Still Game

Still Game

I’m a little clueless on this one, but I think it may be Harry and Paul.

15 year olds welcome.

3: Jack Whitehall

Jack Whitehall

Jack Whitehall

Ah! Jack Whitehall! Frankly, I’ve never heard of him, but he must be a big cheese because he is “Live from Wembley Arena”. That’s a big place.

Going off his hi-tech microphone it’s possible that he may be connected in some way or another with Justin Bieber.

Minimal research shows that he is the son of someone.

15.

2: Russell Howard

Russell Howard

Russell Howard

Sorry folks. I’m really letting you down now. I haven’t a clue. Possibly Jack Whitehall’s son?

This guy could be an illusionist. He’s performing a ‘trick’ on the cover, making it look like he can hoverfloat a cup of coffee. Closer inspection shows that he is lying on the floor, shot from overhead.

This is “Wonderbox” live. We don’t know where live. My research yields no results for Wonderbox. I will have to hazard a guess that his Wonderbox is where he keeps his rabbits and his silk handkerchiefs.

Suitable for ages 15 and under.

1: Lee Mack

Lee Mack

Lee Mack

And back on dry land once again. I know where I am now. “Slick, sharp and very funny” Time Out says. Swearing too, which is good. But clearly no “cunts” as it is a 15 certificate.

It’s your traditional comedy cover, right down to missing foot behind a big ‘C’. Well done Lee.

But which is your favourite (and least favourite)?

Remember, play by the rules. Don’t pick your favourite comedian. Pick your favourite cover. Then least favourite.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Our favourite Comedian

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!”

20140610_105212

20140610_105409

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

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:

Comedy gala 2013

10- Channel 4’s Comedy Gala 2013

Peter Kay 2013

9- Peter Kay double pack

Kevin Bridges

8- Kevin Bridges: The Full Story boxset

Jimmy Carr

7- Jimmy Carr: Laughing and Joking

eddie izzard

6- Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure

Sean Lock

5- Sean Lock: Purple Van Man

Jack dee

4- Jack Dee: So What?

Bill Bailey

3- Bill Bailey: Qualmpeddler

Greg Davies

2- Greg Davies: The back of my Mum’s Head

Micky Flanagan

1- Micky Flanagan: The ‘Back in the Game’ Tour

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!