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.

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Shift Run Stop

September 24, 2010

Last week I was a guest on Shift Run Stop, “a free comedy podcast full to the brim with games, geeks and special guests. Brought to you by Leila Johnston and Roo Reynolds”.

Leila and Roo have been asking me and Trev to pop along for quite a while, but it’s just been too difficult, what with Trev now living in Tristan da Cuhna.

So just me went along. And talked and talked and talked. I don’t get out much and I don’t see many people, so they just couldn’t shut me up. They’ve managed to edit it down to a listenable half hour. I think I went on for an hour and a half. Still, at leats they’ve done the decent thing and edited out the bit where I was rude about Peter Kay. In case you’re thinking you’ve missed out on something big there… well, you haven’t.  Read this though, by Stewart Lee, officially the 41st Best Stand Up Ever (unofficially, the Best Stand Up Ever.)

Find out the truth about Don Draper. Find out about Marti Pellow and the kids in the basement. Oh, and that bloody Five Star thing crops up yet again. Also, the time we worked with Charlie Brooker. My tips to aspiring comedians (I know, I know, just ignore anything I say. What do I know). And other bits.

Anyways, here it is to hear here.

Thank you Leila and Roo for inviting me along.

Roo and Leila being serious

Useless dragons

August 10, 2009

Trev and Simon Podcast No. 7 is now up and running and to celebrate it, here’s a photo of me and Trev from when we auditioned for Dragons’ Den, but were turned down.

Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis

Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis

dfhc-silhouette-podcast-6

We recorded Trev and Simon Podcast no.6 last Friday and now it is up and running. You can find it over on our Trev and Simon page. We’ve had to put a warning on it though, because I swear. Sorry.

Trev-and-Simon-cafe

Look at us! In a cafe, with hair and itchy chins, our futures unknown and exciting and potentially colourful. Trev in a Big Coutry shirt. Me in tweeds. Now Trev wears the tweed and I dress like a big- oh,it doesn’t even work. it’s an awful attempt at a joke. I’d have to drop off the “ry” bit, remove an extraneous “o”. And even after all that work the punchline would remain untrue. I don’t even know what one would dress like. That drag act on Britain’s Got Talent? No, not Simon Cowell!

Don’t worry. The standard will be better tomorrow. Or maybe not. Anyways, we are meeting up after not seeing each other for fourteen and a half years so we’ll have lots to talk about. For one, I’ve had my whole body tattooed, from head to foot. The tattoos are all pictures of blotchy pinkywhite skin. it cost me a fortune and I look the same.

I must stop. I’m going mad. It’s food deprivation. I haven’t eaten for weeks. Or is it hours? One of the two. I always get them mixed up.

I’m off to the cafe, but not the one pictured above. I wonder where it is. It could be Central Cafe on Peter Street in Manchester. or in Peter Street on Manchester. Guess it depends on the point of view. Bye.

alcatraz-art-cellTomorrow, April Fools’ Day, we will record the Trev and Simon podcast, to be called Trev and Simon Podcast No.4, at the Tate Modern. Not really. Only joking. Can you tell?

Yes really, we will be recording it, but not at Tate Modern. We’ll be at our usual place. Andrea’s flat. That’s not her flat on the left. It’s a cell in Alacatraz. I’d happily live there. I wouldn’t want all the bad prison stuff; the violence, the tough love. That wouldn’t be for me. I’d like to live there now, as a tourist attraction. At night I’d have the place all to myself, and during the day I could chat to the visitors, pretending to be a notorious criminal who took money and jewels, but only from bankers. I’d be an imprisoned folk hero, etching, sketching, painting, writing, harmonica playing. If needed I could put on an American accent. “Gee whizz fellas, it was me that did do it. You talkin’ to me? Funny how? Funny why? Funny where? Funny what? Hey, Noodles! Why-y-y, royale with cheese!” That kind of thing.

The Nazis

March 24, 2009

Followers of the Trev and Simon Podcast may have noticed that we can go on a bit about the Nazis- although they go unmentioned in our latest, Podcast No.3, found here. We don’t like them, and anyone who does is nuts. I guess we were born into a generation that started to mock them in an attempt to remove them of any credibility whatsoever. I would have been quite happy to blame John Cleese and his “don’t mention the war” for my interest. And who else in the world of comedy has had a go at the goose-stepping fools? Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, Roberto Begnini, Freddie Starr, Dan Ayckroyd, John Belushi, Steven Spielberg, Spike Milligan. Oh, any comedian, film maker, comic strip writer. They’re all to blame for putting the Nazis into my comedy consciousness.

Except they’re not. It seems they’ve been on my mind since my schooldays. I blame the teachers. And why only a B+?

nazi-sketches

podcast-3-titleOur third podcast is up and running over on the Trev and Simon blog. You can find it here. After two weeks of no caffeine (a blood pressure thing) I decided to go caffeine crazy on podcast day last Thursday. And I think it shows. Sorry Trev. Sorry Andrea. Sorry listeners. Actually, can it show? I’ll change that. I think it hears. No, that’s not right. I think you hears. That’ll do.

We all make mistakes

March 10, 2009

Years ago, possibly last century, I had a made-to-measure leather coat made. Made to measure me. Made by Rocky. He’s a tailor in Hong Kong. He did a good job. He made me the coat I wanted. But, really, it’s unwearable. Did I think I was Tony Hadley? Or Bryan Ferry? Or Tom Cruise in Valkyrie? (I can’t bring myself to think of myself as a bad Nazi). I’d be a good nazi, with an eye patch, no desire for war and a love of all people. I’m sure that’s what Bryan Ferry meant when he said he liked their fashions. Never order a leather coat from his son, Otis the Aardvark (is that his name?) He’d make you a coat out of squirming squirrels and flailing foxes.

leather-coat-self-portrait

If this self indulgent and hurried post is of any interest to anyone, and you’d like to know more, take a look at the photos and stories onthe Trev and Simon blog. You’ll find the Podcast there too, where we discuss the coat in further detail. And a leather coat-based poll. Right, must race off to pool. We, the JFK Rejects, take on JFK’s. A big match we cannot be expected to win. But never underestimate the Rejects.

Spot the difference

March 7, 2009

Andrea Mann Podcast Producer

Andrea Mann Podcast Producer

Nana Mouskouri Greek Singer

Nana Mouskouri Greek Singer