The Comedians part 2

December 19, 2010

Yesterday I put up a post where I took a look at the Christmas comedy DVD’s andpassed a few ill-judged thoughts on their covers. Everyone should have a comedy DVD for Christmas, but how to choose? Is it fair to choose purely on the basis of the artwork? No, not really.

But who cares? It seems few comedians care about their artwork. Or perhaps it’s just me who thinks the covers are all bizarre pieces of shit showing the comedian facing away from his audience and trying to do something ‘funny’ with his/her (though his) microphone.

Here’s some more.

Remember… I have not seen these.

Remember… I am not judging the act here. Maybe.

Ok, I suppose I am. Yes. Yes, I am, once again, judging a comedian by their cover.

Someone said never judge a book by its cover. But why not? The author must have approved the cover. They must be happy to have their art sold in such a way. If they were overpowered or overruled by marketing folk, then… well, they should have stood up for themselves.

It’s your work, your cover, take responsibility.

I deny any responsibility for the following opinions. I am sick. I am on antibiotics. I am not myself.

Here goes.

Eddie Izzard

Wow! Believe! What? Believe what? I don’t have to believe, I know Eddie exists. What am I supposed to be believing in? Or is it his belief?

He’s lit by a lone light. Or is it a star? He has a quote from the L.A. Times, so we know this comedian is a big fish, successful across the pond*.

The artwork is classy. I think someone may have been hoping for us to go… “Ooh! look! Eddie is a little like Dustin Hoffman!”

Or perhaps they want us to think he is a little like Jim Cavaziel.

I just don’t know. You decide.

* The pond is an informal term for the Atlantic Ocean. I believe.

Simon Amstell

This cover has some lovely shades of blue. A darker blue “cog crab” looms over the comedian. On closer inspection this “crab” has cats for hands. Then there’s the scary badge and the gold leaf hand holding a feather. This is not a DVD cover that has been hastily thrown together.

It is called Do Nothing Live. And that is a funny title. It makes me laugh. This comedian is excellent. He is called Simon and he looks like Harpo Marx. You decide.

Ricky Gervais

This cover makes me feel ill. I don’t like the colours and I don’t like the woman on the front.

I’m not even letting you decide on this one. It’s just too- I can’t write anymore.

You decide.

Dylan Moran

This comedian has a quote from The Telegraph, but this time online, making him more up-to-the-minute and with-it than Michael McIntyre (see yesterday’s post). Unlike McIntyre though, this one looks a little distressed. He seems anguished and he’s holding the microphone as if he can’t think of anything funny to do with it. There’s no photographer telling him to stick it in his ear (see yesterday again) and there’s no holding it out to us, the DVD cover viewer, as he grins to show us he is funny, his back turned on his paying audience. Indeed, there is no audience in sight! And the DVD is called “Aim Low”! Everything about this says avoid. But I’m going to recommend it to you. You decide though.

Trev and Simon

This is just awful. They can’t decide whether to smile or grimace and instead settle for some kind of sub-Next catalogue action pose. There’s no quotes and no mention of laughter. We are told it is stupid, but what kind of a recommendation is that? To make matters worse it’s a video and not a DVD. A redundant format for a product no longer available.

The backdrop is some kind of foul Mondrian mess-up, even worse than that awful shampoo ad from years back. Ok, it highlights some of the “characters” that we must assume are featured on the video you can no longer get, but even then the so-called characters just look like the same two blokes in funny costumes and wigs.

You can’t get hold of this one anyway so don’t even bother deciding.

You decide.

The Comedians

December 18, 2010

All the comedians have got their DVD’s out for Christmas. Loads of ’em. Comedians and DVD’s. How do you choose? It’s tricky isn’t it. Everyone likes a laugh at Christmas, but what if you buy the wrong one? What if you buy a DVD by one of the unfunny comedians? Or a rude comedian? Or an offensive one?

Of course, there are some simple rules that are always worth following. One is never buy a DVD by a comedian who has a supposedly comical and  endearing middle nickname.

Then, well, that’s it. There’s only one rule really. Oh yes! Rule two; be wary of yokels.

That’s it. Beyond that you’re on your own out there, scooting down the aisle only to find yourself faced with a fake top fifty supermarket countdown of smiling faces and stickers.

I’ll try to help. I’m going to review a handful of DVD’s available and it might, just might, help you reach that difficult decision of which to buy.

I should point out that I have seen none of these DVD’s, and, in many cases, seen little or none of the comedians work (Oh! With the exception of one). In some instances I may have even gone out of my way to avoid their work. (Oops, it’s just occurred to me that this idea is a little like The No Show– a great site where shows are reviewed without ever being seen. I don’t mean it to be, and if this post causes offence please let me know and I will destroy it!)

Oh, and I will base my review on one thing alone. The artwork on the cover of the DVD. That’s all. How it looks. I will judge a comedian by his cover.

Here we go.

Remember, I don’t necessarily know what I’m on about here.

I’m just going off the pictures, ok?

Right, first up:

Michael McIntyre

It’s Michael McIntyre. A complicated one. Is he live and we’re laughing? Or is it just him doing both? He seems to be laughing; possibly in rather a cruel way having turned his back on the paying punters seen in the background. Shouldn’t he be facing them? Just what’s going on, Mr. Pink shirt?

There’s an ambiguous quote from The Daily Telegraph (a paper I know little of, though I have been assured they are good for sports… at least that’s the excuse of most right-wing fanatics). They say “If there’s a funnier, slicker, warmer hour of comedy, I haven’t encountered it”.

But how much do The Daily Telegraph get out these days? And considering this DVD is 84 minutes long, what did they think of the remaining 24 minutes?

It’s a tricky one to start with. You decide.

Lee Mack

He’s live too. There’s no audience being neglected here. Instead, he’s walking straight at you. And he’s not laughing. Or smiling. It’s almost like he knows that sometimes not smiling is funnier than smiling. There’s a quote that makes Lee sound funny, but potentially painfully so. And it’s a quote from a man rather than a paper. Optional swearing (swearing is, generally, funny), a funny walk, a too-tight suit, an almost serious expression; I’d say this one is a winner with guaranteed laughs. It’s also a nice shade of green.

Jason Manford

This is very odd. Is he trying to speak through his ear? Is he mistaking the microphone for a Q-Tip? Did the photographer just say “Hey, Jase, stick it in your ear! Ha ha ha!” and he just did, just for the hell of it?

He is “a true master of observational comedy…” the BBC said. But then, at the time of printing, they were most likely his employers. And what follows the little dots? What if the next word was “sometimes”? Or “only on Tuesdays?” An enigma at the least. You decide.

Kevin Bridges

He’s “the master of stand-up at just 22” The Daily Mirror tells us. And the use of a Mirror quote suggests he’s one of us, an ok bloke who may possibly be just mildly left wing. And he’s humble too. Look! A smile that says  “that’s me that! That’s my name up there! In Lights! Little old me, photographed from above to make me look little.” But look in the background; his audience, yet again ignored. You decide.

Frankie Boyle

No newspaper quotes for this comedian. He’s not smiling, but we can assume he is live as we are told it is a new stand-up show for 2010. He tells us that if he could he would reach out through the TV and strangle you. Well, TV is developing all the time. 3D. HD. What next? Just remember, if he could, he would. Well, one day soon he may well be able. It’s a risk. It’s up to you. You decide.

Stewart Lee

He’s put his face on a cup. If that doesn’t make you laugh you most likely wouldn’t laugh at Steve Martin’s Pizza in a Cup in The Jerk.

Look! Stewart Lee’s face on a cup! And he is almost smiling. None of the other comedians have put their face on a cup.

So this is the ideal Christmas comedy DVD.

Buy this one. You decide.

If you want to get a head

November 12, 2010

Hats! Hats off to them!

If you want to get ahead, get a hat!

My minimal research shows that this was a phrase coined in the 1940’s by either Dunn and Co. or The British Hat Council. Go on, try finding them! I can’t find a council or any history of it. There’s a Guild, but try clicking on their website; it takes you to Banarnia!

And Dunn and Co. vanished from our high streets so long ago I can only vaguely recall the days when me and Mr. Trev ransacked the closing down stores, buying up their fittings and fixtures; old prints of long forgotten pugilists, antlers- yes antlers! Antlers, stuck on a wooden plaque. No deer head, just antlers. And even then they were plastic.

And umbrellas with dog-faced handles!

I’m losing the point. Hats!

Yes, sure, we get it. If you want to get ahead… a little play on words.

Get a hat and you’ll succeed. And we see it now in the glam hat revival that is Mad Men (I love this pic, whoever they are).

It’s as simple as looking. Here’s John Hamm as Don Draper.

Don Draper (image courtesy of Esquire)

And here’s John Hamm as someone else. Possibly John Hamm.

Photo by Rachel Sklar

There’s a difference. And the hat makes it.

With a hat, you don’t just get ahead, you get ‘a head’. It makes the man’s head.

But there’s a reason why men stopped wearing hats. (Sure, there’s a supposed revival on, but again, there’s a reason for that too.)

First, why did men stop wearing hats? Because, simply, we all realised we’re no Cary Grants, Frank Sinatras, Clooneys or Hamms. Even John Hamm has realised he’s not John Hamm. Or, put another way, John Hamm has realised he’s not Don Draper.

Don Draper is a fictional character (and let’s not get all meta-whatever now, I’m talking fiction as in made up, by a writer, not as in a character with a secret life etc. etc. oh, come on now, you know what I mean). He’s TV. And TV hat wearers have people who follow them around and when they take their hats off… Bingo! Stop filming! Maude! Touch him up! (I don’t know why Maude, it just seemed right). Hey Maude! John’s looking a little sweaty. He’s a little shiny. A little greasy. Get in there Maude! Touch him up. Make him Donish.

You get the drift. John gets Maude. We get no one. We take our hats off and we look like this.

Ken Dodd in Blackpool

And don’t get me started on antimacassars. Antimacassars!? Who thought that bloody word up? What the hell are they? Ok, so they’re anti… anti bloody what? Macassars? what the bloody hell is a macassar?

Oh… I see… thank you Wikipedia. So, macassar was an oil used in the 19th century. On the hair of course. Really, an antimacassar, should be called an antibrylcreem.

Are you still with me? (I haven’t written a blog post in a while so I may be getting a little carried away. Sorry). Antimacassars! Thery’re those intricate handkerchief-like things people of a certain age will be familiar with from their trips to their grandparents in the 1970’s. They look like this.

(I pinched the above image from nothingisnew; a lovely blog worth taking a look at, and with a whole post dedicated to antimacassars).

They look nice yes? The antimacassars you dope, not the girls! Well, they might look nice, but here’s what they really are. Horrible grease collectors. (No! Not the girls! Stop that now!)

Antimacassars were put on furniture to collect Brylcreem from men’s greasy heads. Sweaty greasy heads under hats. Hats now stained with greasy sweaty brims. Heads full of hair that, when hatless, had a deep rut marked in the grease from where the brim had once rested.

Wearing hats. It’s thankless without a Maude around to touch you up.

So we stopped wearing them.

And that’s that.

But… it’s starting again. Hats are back! Sure it’s one of those nostalgia things. But could there be another reason why we are wearing hats once more? Yes! We’re all bald!

Here I am in my new hat. If you like it get it. Primark £4.

Photo by ben Norris using Darrell K. Morris' camera

Here’s Primark’s blurb on ethical trading.

Who is Roy?

September 1, 2010

Straight off I’m going to disappoint you. And me too (though I’m prepared for it). It’s not Roy, it’s Roys. There was me thinking that everything in the Norfolk Broads belonged to Roy. When am I going to learn the correct use of the absence of apostrophes? Maybe I knew. Maybe I was just fantasising to myself. I wanted Roy to own everything. I wanted Roy to carry on acquiring. I wanted Roy to be the most disappointing Bond Villain since that guy with the diamonds in his face. I wanted Roy to be Wroxham’s own Darth Vader.

But no, it’s Roys. The Roys Brothers. They started it all over a hundred years ago. You can read their version of events here.

I’m talking of Roys of Wroxham- The World’s Largest Village Store. That’s their self-proclaimed title.

I have no idea what it means.

Truly no idea.

Oh sure, Roys tells a fine tale, but here’s the truth. It starts in Wroxham and it spreads. First through the Broads and then on… to the Potteries, the Fens. Anywhere in England, which, like the Broads, has some kind of daft name to make it sound friendly and welcoming, but once you’re in there, you’re trapped.

It’s a fact that maps of Britain bought in the potteries/Fens/Broads all have London scribbled out. Manchester too. It’s not done subtly. There’s no photoshopping, nothing clever. just blue biro going round and round in circles like a drunk spirograph until all is deep blue and the paper thinned and holes and tears are all you see.

Like in my last post, this is the land of Hobbs End from In The Mouth of Madness. You can get in but just try getting out. You won’t.*

And behind it all, trapping you at every exit, is Roys. You don’t believe me? Here are ten pieces of undisputable photographic evidence.

*Actually, you will. The Norfolk Broads are lovely really.

Magician’s Knee

July 27, 2010

I’m catsitting in Richmond. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. I’ve also got to read over the second draft of our film (I write with Trev Neal). I’ve been told to prepare myself for the cuts ahead (no dopey, not the removal of the UK Film Council, the cuts in our screenplay to get the running time down). I also know, from all the e-mails flying around, that Trev is happy (ish). So, looking forward to a good read and, hopefully, a screenplay that might possibly someday somewhere get made, I went out to buy two things; a cigar and a beer. Then, a sit in the garden and a read.

Out on my cigar and beer hunt I overheard a woman on a mobile phone. She kept saying “magicians knee, magicians knee.”*

I like it. I wish I had it. I wonder what it is.

It’s got to be one of two things. Maybe three. Or four.

Most likely it’s a fake knee, a little like a hidden pocket. A prosthetic knee “cap” that flips open and in which you can store a pigeon.

That’s the most likely thing it is.

It could also be a medical condition. One of those medical conditions, like Tennis Elbow, where, until you get it, you have no idea what it is.

Possibly it is just the knee of a magician. It’s not all smoke and mirrors.

Or, and this is, sorry to say, the most likely explanation; she wasn’t saying Magicians Knee. She was saying something else, in a foreign language. Something I don’t understand.

Now to read and have a cigar, like the man in Misery.

* Magicians knee, magician’s knee, magicians’ knee- you decide.

The title’s misleading. There’s no beer in this post. Years back me and Trev came up with a programme idea called Beer and Clothing in… . It was to be a Hunter S. Thompson-esque road trip thing with the two of us drinking beer, dressing up and messing about. You don’t need to know any more details. There aren’t any.

Yes? So? Ok, it’s just a play on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Ok, it’s only one step up, or down, from Monkey Tennis. But what do you expect from the guys who brought you this?

A long-winded introduction to my day out in Lewisham. It’s easy to spend a day in Lewisham. We’ve just finished a first draft of our film, we have a meeting next Thursday to discuss it, get notes… so, for now, I’m just a waster, passing time. If anyone has a job for me, let me know. In the meantime I wander Lewisham.

I started off at the Post Office depot. I had to pick up Coma by Alex Garland, the picked book for next week’s Book Club. It should have been popped through the letter box, but I had to sign for it and the postman called at some ungodly hour. 6am. Or 9am. Or 10.24am. Something crazy when decent people are asleep.

Back to the depot it went. Or not. It hadn’t turned up by the time I got there so I had to wait til 12.45. I used the time to think about Douglas Copeland, Alex Copeland, Douglas Garland and Michael Crichton; the variety of names I had gone through before I found the right book.

Having got the book I headed to the shops to spend, spend, spend. I bought a laptop stand, a load of A4 paper, five pens, candles, shampoo, conditioner, all sorts of stuff. By this point I’d spent £9. I had to draw the line somewhere and so I resisted my desire to buy the £6 Mohammad Ali T-shirt in Primark. Nor did I buy a bundle of the £2 T-shirts. But, if you like your T-shirts go to Primark. I’m fussy about necks and the necks on the Primark ones are lovely; nice and thin, with none of that visible stitching thing going on.

Then, a read of the papers and a coffee. I used to go to Ponti’s, inside the Lewisham Shopping Centre, but they’ve introduced some new system of looking at menu’s, remembering your table number, going up and ordering; all too much for me and, I guess, for others since the place was unusually empty. Off to their neighbour, Muffin break. Old school. Go up, tell them what you want, get it.

It’s now the next day and I never got around to finishing this rambling post.

I’ll come back to Lewisham. There are good things going on that I’ve never noticed before.

In the Lewisham Shopping centre I did something I’d never done before. I went for a wee. And, in passing, I saw the Lewisham mural- a celebration of 200o years of Lewisham history. For once I had gone out without my camera. But I’ll be back. Bringing you details of Lewisham. Telling you how Max Wall, Boris Karloff and Spike Milligan fit into the picture.

For now, here’s the trailer to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And for now, for me, more rambling, wandering, passing time. Bad Lieutenant (the new one) calls.

Great Yarmouth is closed

April 20, 2010

I was in Great Yarmouth over the weekend for the EPA Interleague Pool Finals. On Friday afternoon I wandered around the town; along the front, down the pier, into a fish and chips shop; and then back through the main street. By then it was gone six so I had to satisfy myself with some window shopping. Here’s what I found.

Even Gerald’s was shut.

Things weren’t much better on the beach.

And I sadly missed this bit of excitement. If you know what the film was, please let me know. Or even if you want to have a guess.

Now I’m getting angry

March 25, 2010

I never intended, honestly, to go to war with Tesco. The ginger beer thing was just a bit of fun; an anomaly maybe, where one item was perhaps accidentally mispriced and inappropriately placed in a confusing offer category. Maybe. Perhaps. Surely Tesco can’t really be operating a policy of deliberately trying to confuse their customers with misleading offers.

Well, today I headed there to get something for lunch and also for tonight. I’m lazy and unhealthy so I plumped for a ready meal. I only needed the one. I’m no good at planning ahead. How can I know today what I might feel like eating tomorrow? But the offer was there; Indian meals, 2 for £5. So I went for a lamb rogan josh (£2.70) and a chicken masala (£2.80). I didn’t really want the two – I don’t know when I’ll eat the second one – but it seemed foolish to buy one when I could save myself 50p.

Except I couldn’t and I didn’t. Admittedly there was no yellow sticker on the masala or the korma, but this sticker led me to believe they were in on the deal.

It says Tesco Indian meals 350g- any 2 for £5. I checked both. They were both Tesco Indian meals and they were both 350g. But it seems the tikka masala is exempt. Confusing, no? Or am I just an irritable old man? I complained as much as I could, which turns out to be more like a polite enquiry. But all I got was that it wasn’t included in the offer. I stood there and took some photographs and the guy got edgy. I muttered that Tesco were unbelievable and I left the shop. I’m sure I’ll be barred soon.

However, it’s a crafty thing Tesco have got going here. The more they annoy me the closer I get. I’ll be going there everyday from now one to see what more crappy nonsense I can find. Sorry Co-op.

Tesco is unpredictable

March 24, 2010

At the least. Those of you who have been following the Tesco ginger beer saga prepare yourselves for more fun and games. if you haven’t been following it you can catch up by scrolling down a few blog posts or two. Here it is in a nutshell. A monkey nutshell.

Tesco sell Old Jamaica Ginger Beer for 52p a bottle. Or two for £1.70. Making an extra 66p for themselves on top of any other profit.

A few days later Tesco put the price up by nearly 40% to 72p a bottle. Still two for £1.70. Making an extra 26p for themselves.

And then Tesco were out of ginger beers. Except they weren’t.

So, like Robert De Niro in Casino, I thought that’s that. Today I went to Tesco, resigned to the almost absolute certainty that my Tesco Ginger Beer Hounddog days would be over. Well, they’re not. Thanks for keeping this going Tesco, you money grabbing nutters!

So, within the last week Old Jamaica Ginger Beer has gone up almost 60%. If this continues it won’t be long before we’re saving ourselves money on your Any 2 offer.

It’s about time we had a poll on this Tesco thing. Oh, and in this one you can vote for more than one.