Monday, 16 December 2013

Ho Ho Hobo.

You'll find it hard to believe but I really do love Christmas. Of course, in amongst all the fighting, disappointment and feeling sick it's easy to forget those less fortunate than ourselves. By that, I mean comedians who have to perform in front of huge rooms full of work do's all more interested in staring loudly or throwing food at the stage while our poor comedian is trying to dribble mirth at them. ONLY JOKING! Of course I don't mean them. Comedians are cunts who deserve everything they get. No, I mean the homeless.

A friend of mine once laughed when I gave some change to a homeless man. "Why do you give money to the homeless?", he asked. That is a bizarre question. A bit like "Why have you stopped kicking that child?". The answer is the same: I think they've had enough. Some people, my friend included, seem to think that the homeless are all really multi-millionaires all taking part in this massive scam, fleecing money from people with stupid kind hearts and at the end of a working day thay stop pretending to be cold, take their massive bag of cash back to their mansion and get the butler to wash all the piss and shit off them. If the homeless are faking it then they've earned every penny. They're VERY convincing. Sleeping in cold rain, getting abuse off people in the street, bloodless faces due to lack of warmth, sleep and food. The actors that make up our homeless clearly show what a tedious amateur Daniel Day Lewis really is. So when my friend said "Why do you give money to the homeless?", I said "Because no one loves them" and his eyes filled up with tears. It was actually a beautiful moment because he seemed to finally understand that being homeless can sometimes mean being broke in a lot of ways but mainly because I'd wanted to make him cry like a girl for years, so that bit was the best.

On Friday, my career finally brought me to Newport. I was gigging there with the lovely man, comedian and Dr Who expert Joel Dommett who very kindly offered me a lift all the way there. All I had to do was meet him in Nunhead. 

At Nunhead station I was approached by a homeless man who asked if I had any change. I didn't so I apologised and said no. He thanked me anyway just to make me feel even worse. Maybe that's the scam? The homeless are actually well off people hired by the government to make the rest of us feel like shit all the time. Well, if that's the case then the joke is on them. I feel shit all the time anyway! Ha! I WIN!

I stood about 10 feet away from the homeless man and waited for Joel. A traffic warden walked past. Then he walked past again. And again and again and again. I got slightly obsessed watching this traffic warden. He just wandered around doing nothing. I know drivers don't like traffic wardens who go around fastidiously finding flaw with every but of parking they can see but I hated this traffic warden for just...well, skiving. He was just doing NOTHING. In my face! Then a man walked out of a nearby off licence and called out to the traffic warden. He looked terrified. Ha! The traffic warden will have to do work now, laughed I, a man with no concept of work.

The man wanted to complain about the homeless man outside the train station. "It's a bloody disgrace", he said to the traffic warden. "We don't want people like that here".

The thing is, the man being morally outraged by the dirty person that existed in the same post code as him had just bought two cans of very strong lager. I know this because one or other of the two cans would fall out of his pockets every three seconds while he was being morally outraged. "Someone should move (CLANG) him on because it's not (CLANG) right having people like that (CLANG) near children. You don't want (CLANG) people like that (CLANG) on your street (CLANG)". This went on for about two minutes. A closet alcoholic mortified by a human being with problems. The traffic warden just stared at him. What did he want the traffic warden to do? He couldn't give the homeless man a ticket. Clamping him would only keep him here longer. "You (CLANG) need to speak to him. I'm an old man (he wasn't. He was about 50) and I don't want (CLANG) to be too scared to walk down the street". The traffic warden sighed and agreed to speak to the homeless man.

What a fucking cunt. The homeless man was shivering, he barely had clothes. Stop kicking him. He's had enough. How could anyone treat another person like that? I felt bad enough that I had nothing to give him but to see someone wanting to take more from the man disgusted me. Is it that big a deal to have a homeless man standing outside a train station? He's a human being in need of help and therefore easy to ignore. Just walk past him. It'll take a half second of your entire life to ignore him and you have the rest of all eternity to forget he even existed. God forbid you'd actually want to support what little he has or hope that he gets a little more. God forbid that you'd ever defend your fellow man.

"Everything OK?", said the traffic warden to me.

"Er...yes", I said.

"A man over there said you were asking people for money".

FUCK. YOU. Have you seen the state of this heap of bones beside me? His shoes are more hole than shoe, his clothes are stinking and unfashionably distressed, his beard has grey sick in it. But, NO, you just naturally thought of the two of us it was ME who was the homeless man? LOOK AT HIM! He's a smelly tramp man. Look at his mad hair and nails. Look at HIM! He's disgusting! 

I wouldn't mind so much but this is the second time this has happened THIS YEAR. In July I was lying on the grass in Leicester Square enjoying the sun when a woman walked up to me and said "Would you like this sandwich?" WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ME? Looking like Dave Gorman has plagued me enough but why would anyone just assume I was homeless? I was furious with that woman. Insulted and hurt. And the sandwich didn't even taste nice. What a fucking insult. "You look homeless". What a horrible, nasty and cruel thing to say.

Luckily, I'm not that horrible, nasty or cruel. "A man over there said you were asking people for money", said the traffic warden and I took a step closer to the homeless man and said "We're just waiting for a lift. There was someone here asking for money but they've gone". 

The traffic warden apologised (AS WELL HE FUCKING SHOULD) and went on his way clearly believing my massive lie. And with that, I became a proud member of the homeless scam.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Buddy Hell.

Friends. Always there as a constant source of support, love and companionship. What would we do without their warmth and their honesty? A complete stranger might think you're an arsehole but it's only a true friend that definitely knows. It is an honour to be relied upon by friends and relying on them, for me, is a constant feature of life. I'm sure it's great being a millionaire but if I had money yet had no friends to talk about the next Avengers film with then I'd have nothing. I realise some people have both £1,000,000 and friends but some have neither. I think that's a good enough reason to appreciate the friends I've got and I do. I truly love them. Not only do they make me happy they also help me, influence me, back me up, stop me and guide me. My friends fall into two categories: people I listen to and people I should have listened to. And my heart soars no higher than when a friend shares their life and stories and laughs with me. This all probably seems very obvious but, of course, I never say it out loud. If I have anything at all, then it has been given to me by the people I know well and love. And I love them for all those reasons.

Well, not just those reasons. I also really like it when they make twats of themselves.

Comradery is fine and everything but not much beats that explosion of joy you get seeing one of your friends fuck it all up. Dave being sick in his shoe, Clare falling into a hedge, Alan crying. These are all moments we live for. At a young person's discotheque, I persuaded my friend Dan to ask a woman to dance with him. It took some time as Dan was convinced it would be pointless as he couldn't dance. "I'll fall", he whined. "I'll definitely fall". He might be shit at dancing but he's not going to fall. "I will", said Dan but after some friendly, supportive shouting from me, he got the courage to go over to the woman, ask her to dance and then he hit the dancefloor. Literally. He'd barely danced a step when his head was on the ground. Leaving a very confused woman who he'd known for seconds just standing there, Dan hit the deck like a sack of iron spuds in a led balloon made of iron spuds. He fell like Peter Griffin falls. BAM! I realise that there's supposedly some joy in having a child and seeing it for the first time but is it as good as seeing someone you care for look like a hopeless big useless twat in front of everyone? I mean, HE HIT THE GROUND! It was like dancey dance BAM! It was brilliant.

And that's why we have friends. They give us these moments. Moments when they seem to just look at you and say "Don't worry, old chum. I'm not going to let you be the world's biggest dick anymore" and they discard all dignity for you. THAT is a friend. And just last week, I realised what a friend I had in Margaret.

Margaret, the least popular one in Do The Right Thing, is very dear to me. Very few people make me laugh as much as she does so you can imagine the joy I had when I saw her on the tube last week. I was on my way to a gig in God knows where. Bag packed and ready to drag my corpse to a comedy club for two nights in a row of being stared at and cruelly tolerated. I shuffled with the commuters, collapsed myself onto the escalator and went down, down, down passing Hell and furthering on to the underground platform. It's the travel that ruins the job of a stand up comedian. Leaving home, dicks on trains, the solitude of hotel rooms. Every weekend, every year. So the thought was depressing and when the doors of the tube train opened and I saw Margaret sitting there, the world was in colour again. I was so happy. Unexpected Margaret! My friend Margaret. Exactly what I needed when I needed it. A direct adrenaline shot of elation into my heart. 

Then I saw that she had her finger right up her nose.

"Ha ha ha ha", I said to Margaret, who still hadn't seen me. "Get that thing OUT of there". 

I said it loudly. Of course I did. I said it loudly to surprise her and to let EVERYONE else around her know that she was picking her nose in public. She is my very good friend and therefore it is my duty to howl with laughter and point when she let's herself down slightly. One of my favourite people in the world and therefore I must belittle her at a time when she was only belittling herself slightly. She is picking her nose on public transport and so I must make her as embarrassed about it as I possibly can because she is my friend. "Ha ha ha ha", I said. "Get that thing OUT of there". And, to really make my point clear, I whacked her on the hand and knocked the offending finger out of the innocent nostril. Still laughing, I looked at her face to see how mortified she looked and...

She wasn't Margaret.



Good move.

The doors closed behind me and now I was on a moving train with dozens of commuters and a woman I had laughed at, shouted at and now slapped. 

These are the treasured moments. These times are why we live. Our friends at their worst, making us feel our best. They're not just there to share stories or to remind you you're being thought of. They're there to laugh at because they're fucking idiots. Our idiots. I got off the train and immediately contacted Margaret and told her what happened.

I am a really good friend.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Loo Read.

What's so great about death? Good question and I'm glad you've brought it up because I think death gets a lot of stick from the tabloids, online forums and shouty panel shows. "Death Killed Diana" is pretty much the only headline of every newspaper printed every single day since August 1995. Death is always seen as a negative. No one ever considers the health benefits of death. No more having to drag your wobbly body into a job that's forcing depression down your throat, no more having to push your emotions deep down within you and pretending that you're still happy to be in the same relationship with that insane stranger for over 20 years, no more headache inducing insomnia brought on by a bad back and a drawer full of bills bitching about what a loser you are. That all goes when you win the death lottery.

In some cultures funerals are celebratory. In respect to the deceased, family and friends gather together wearing brightly coloured clothes and sing and dance and generally rejoice at how happy they are that someone they love doesn't have to do THIS anymore. What a profound and selfless way to consider someone's life. But other cultures...the shit one I've got...selfishly pick the rainiest day of the century to clump together round a hole, throw you in it and then they burst into jealous tears and damn God for not picking them instead. The whole day out is an insult. "He's never looked better", they spit while you lie in a box decaying. Charming! "One minute he was sitting alone surrounded by everyone he knew, the next he was dead. Well, it's what he would have wanted". Translation: "It's what I wanted, the jammy bastard". 

So, death is a way out but for the rest of us waiting it's a time to take stock. We think about the person we've lost and we bury their bad points and treasure their good. They remain loved and perfect. Almost the same happens when a celebrity dies. We watch their best film or listen to their best song or read their best blog (If I die before you finish reading this, stop and read "Hangoverwatch" and tweet about how amazing I was. That's right, I am a celebrity). That icon will forever be untarnished because they won't ever make another crap thing and we will choose to forgive and forget their duffness of the past. When Lou Reed died a few days ago, the internet stuck videos of "Walk On The Wild Side" and "Perfect Day" all over itself. Songs I'd heard before, if I'm honest. That's fine, of course, but hardly inspiring. It didn't make me think that I'd somehow completely overlooked this obscure genius and I had to check him out. It just made me sad that Lou Reed was dead.

But today I dug out my copy of The Velvet Underground's least loved album, Live MCMXCIII. Easily my favourite of their records (I know no one will share that opinion) even though I probably haven't heard it since MCMXCV.

It's the band reuniting after 27 years and it's utterly dignified. They sound dark and cool with just their dirty, shameful music as a stageshow. No explosions or fireworks, 4 people with the cold sound of their filth. You can feel the space needed between Lou Reed and John Cale in every song, no arena is big enough for both of them, and all ice is melted by Moe Tucker being the greatest thing in this or any band and daring to be adorable. Like having Rolf the Dog playing school piano in Nine Inch Nails. 

The thing is, I listened to Live MCMXCIII in a really bizarre way. I put it on and listened to it and then didn't stop listening until it had finished. I listened to an album. An actual album. Has this been done this century? 

It has because I did it just a few weeks ago. I decided I would get rid of a lot of my CD's because I never listen to them. I now have 400 unloved albums piled up in my living room waiting to be...well, I dunno. Nicked? There was an Eels album right at the top of the pile. That is definitely where that Eels album deserved to be because I bought it on it's week of release in September 2001 and I listened to it once. That was the worst thing that happened in September 2001, I know that now. 

I took it off the pile, thought "fuck it" and gave it a spin. It's brilliant! A secret brilliant album that had just been sitting there waiting patiently for me to discover it. No one in Eels even had to die. The album is Souljacker and it sounds nasty and ragged and so sweet. Muddy garage songs about how lovely that one girl is and static-interrupted distress calls about circus freaks. How could anyone not listen to that from beginning to end? Albums. WHOLE ALBUMS. An hour-ish of music created by one unit over one period of time and presented as a beginning, middle and end. You know how you listen to a podcast featuring a comedian talking about himself that lasts your whole journey to work? Well, I'm just saying that you COULD listen to...I dunno...Licensed To Ill by the Beastie Boys. Not "Fight For Your Right", I mean the WHOLE ALBUM. Like they wanted you to. When was the last time you listened to Licensed To Ill? No sleep until you have!

Music is treated so badly now. Amazing pieces of work being ripped to bits and chunks lifted and stuck on playlists leaving the other 56 minutes of an album gathering iDust. That's if the full album was ever bought in the first place. I mean, I do it too. I make playlists all the time and that's why I've heard Catch by The Cure hundreds of times and Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me barely gets the respect it's overdue. 

But, although I think I'm brilliant at compiling an playlist, I'm terrible at it. There's just something about listening to those songs in the order that it's inventor tirelessly stitched them together in that IS the listening experience. It all comes together because those songs should be together. Something brilliant used to happen to me that barely does anymore: when one song ends on an album that you love, you hear the very beginning of the next song in your head a second before it actually starts. It's small but the feeling it gives is huge. 

I have other Lou Reed albums. Transformer and Berlin are albums that I know really well but I'm glad I had my moment of tribute to the great man with Live MCMXCIII. I'm glad I've found it again. Just like I love the comfort and familiarity of music I know well (Script For a Jester's Tear, Strangeways Here We Come, Klassics With a K by Kostars (it's one of the best. If you're going to discover an obscure album because of reading this blog then rush to that one)), I love the where-has-that-been-all-my-life feeling of an entire album I had no idea about. It seems obvious and maybe I'm preaching to the choir but recommending albums and sharing music in a time when bands are being treated worse than ever just seems like a pretty decent thing to do. To the artists and yourself. If you can, buy an album you don't know and listen to the whole thing. Maybe check one out by someone who is still alive, listen to it loads, then when they die you'll have something to recommend to everyone else. Or you could recommend one now. There's been a few great albums this year: Jim Bob (obviously), Primal Scream, Silent Sleep, my very own soundtrack to the film Good Vibrations (although that's a compilation and might clash with everything I've just said). David Bowie's one is good too and he's bound to die soon so hurry up and give it a listen. All the way through. From start to finish.

"All through this I've always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every record is a chapter. They're all in chronological order. You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there's my Great American Novel" - Lou Reed.

Feel free to recommend an album in the comments section below. Thanks! 

Thursday, 24 October 2013


Television is just crap upon crap upon crap. Crap to define you and crap to confine you. Last night I settled down to watch Live At The Apollo and was surprised to see Peter Sissons doing 15 minutes. They don't normally have newsreaders on Live At The Apollo, as far as I'm aware, and it was really odd seeing him on there. Why is he on there, I thought, and I was soon made aware that I was the only person in the entire world who thought that. I went on to the dying toilet cubicle of desperate scrawl that is Twitter and it turned out that lots of people were delighted at seeing Peter Sissons on Live At The Apollo and others were offended by what Peter Sissons said on Live At The Apollo. I, alone in my dark flat with just monochrome flashes and the vague memory of warmth for company, wondered why an opinion had even been formed. What Peter Sissons had said on Live At The Apollo was boring. It was pedestrian and obvious. Old observations that everyone surely knows. But no one asked why? Not one single person. Why was Peter Sissons there? I'm not saying that a newsreader can't be on Live At The Apollo, I'm just saying that if he or she or they are performing stand up comedy on Live At The Apollo then they really better have some knowledge of the craft. Some of the younger people reading this blog won't remember Sandy Gall's disasterous 5 minutes of total silence on Saturday Live in the 80's ("Belgrano? BelgranYES, bitch!") but at least then people wrote to Channel 4 and asked WHY WAS SANDY GALL ON SATURDAY LIVE? People were more active then. They didn't question his material. They didn't support it or condemn it. They just asked, to my shy awkward teenage ears, the only question that needed to be answered: WHY WAS SANDY GALL ON SATURDAY LIVE? He's a newsreader, for Satan's sake. This isn't his place. And I am NOT having a go at newsreaders. I know they have enough on their plate, especially female newsreaders who are often (unfairly) criticised for not being serious. All I'm asking is WHY? Why was Peter Sissons on Live At The Apollo? Of course, like the rest of the handsome and poor of industrial Britainnia, I watched every minute and you could have heard the washed and clueless across the land put down their velvet, vegetarian copy of Das Vormund and gasp as Peter Sissons became controversial. "Why did the chicken cross the road?", a simple straightforward question and one that would put most of the middle-classes at ease, knowing fully well the answer would be pleasant enough to share at pilates if the morning spared them. But his answer was not what they Ocado ordered. It was "I don't let my chicken cross the road. I've never let my chicken cross the road". My weakened frame trembled with the smell of the nails being petitioned into Peter Sissons's coffin. Initially it was all support. YES!, they bored on Twitter. WHY SHOULD THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD? WHAT'S IN IT FOR US? THANK YOU, PETER SISSONS, FOR SHOWING US THE WAY!!! And it went on. Praise neatly stacked on Peter like brown towels kept in a hot press and only used for visitors, and why not? If he's made some people happy, then why not praise him? It's not like he's an ex-drug addict who has a long history of treating women like shit. No. Definitely using someone like that as your moral compass would only make you have a long hard look at yourself if you were in any way clever enough to do so. But the praise was then hit by dissent. Twitter became ablaze with Sissoffs (it's basically Sandy's joke again), all brandishing pitchfork emoticons and capitalizing until their throats hurt. NO!, they bored on Twitter. YOU HAVE TO LET THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD. PEOPLE THREW THEMSELVES IN FRONT OF TOMMY TINDER'S PANTOMIME HORSE FOR YOUR RIGHT TO LET YOUR CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD! IF YOU DON'T LET YOUR CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD THEN ALL THE RIGHT WING COMEDIANS WILL GET IN. Poor Peter. All he wanted to do was go on a programme that he most definitely shouldn't be on and do something he's in no way cut out to do. Both sides treating him like a sinning saint, shouting wrongs from all angles. The reason that the right wing comedians will get in is because the left wing audience have lost faith. They don't have the voice they once had. The horrible right wing audience get their comedians to the top of the polls because they DO have a voice. The hate in Mrs Brown's Boys, London Irish, Citizen Khan...and then the uncomfortable safety of so many comedies of 2013. Where can the left go? I have voted for left wing comedians in the Chortle Awards who have ended up going to the Middle East and doing appalling things. Then the big chain clubs fail to pay them and the "lefties" bail them out by still agreeing to do their clubs. Say what you like about Roy "Fatty" Brown but he didn't say yes to Arthur. And THAT is not the point. The point is how come this was a talking point? Peter doing (no matter what way you look at it) really obvious material and NO ONE saying surely a comedian should be inspiring us to laugh, not a newsreader. HE'S A NEWSREADER, not a revolutionary comedian. Why would we want him to be anyway? The revolution will be televised and sponsored by Fosters and, if you miss it, it'll be on again soon on Dave! I'm just saying that a proper comedian should have been on that programme in the same way that, I dunno, maybe a politician would be on something like Newsnight and inspiring us to think. That's where the left fail. I think if you've been made to think by someone incredibly unqualified talking on a programme they have no reason to be on then that's probably just a case of you not being that into thinking. Still, at least it's got us talking. And a big grey sorry for the glamour of this blog. I've been reading a book. It wasn't even written by an author but it's made me very excited. It's easily done. Now, let's see if Natasha Kaplinsky is on Alternative Comedy Experience....

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Something Kinda Oh.

"Dicks is other people", Sartre famously said and I agree with him. I mean, I agree with him on that statement. I doubt that I'd agree with him on everything because he is another person and therefore, by his own admission, a dick. 

It's got to the point where even reading Kimberley Walsh's autobiography, A Whole Lot of History, on a train is impossible because other people are dicks. You know what it's like, you're just sitting on the train reading your copy of Kimberley Walsh's autobiography, A Whole Lot of History, and the man sitting next to know the man sitting next to you, the one who is watching The Fast and The Furious 6 and has an energy drink in a can with a horrible pattern that's designed to make him look so manly that it appears he's drinking solid caffeine out of a tattoo...either gives you a dirty look or sighs heavily every time you turn the page. Well, that happened to me. The very manly man clearly found me reading Kimberley Walsh's autobiography so disgusting that every page of it sickened him. So I did what any of us would do. I closed the book, put it away and avoided a fuss.

No, I didn't. I turned the pages very loudly and went "Ooooh" as if I'd just read some juicy nugget of Kimberley's life that even I, A HARDCORE FAN OF KIMBERLEY WALSH, somehow didn't know until that moment. I kept thundering the pages and GASPING at her fucking amazing half-life until that prick fucked off and sat somewhere else. And why did he move seats? Because I'm another person. I'm a dick. I'm HIS dick.

I regret writing that.

But then...there are moments when you see people at their best. The train stopped at York and, as passengers disembarked, I saw a couple saying goodbye. They were both crying. They were both holding each other tightly. I could see them both saying "I love you" to one another and it was lovely. 

Just like public reading of a Kimberley Walsh autobiography, public displays of affection are generally despised. I've never understood that. I think it's nice to see two people clearly in love. Better than fighting, surely?

And there they were...just staring at one another and crying. She touched his face for what might be the last time in months...weeks...days...hours. It didn't matter. The only important, horrible thing was that they were to part. A minute might as well be a year. Why, when they feel so good together, must they be apart and feel their hearts get heavier? Why replace joy with twice the sorrow? I didn't know them but even I knew that embrace wasn't meant to end. I knew that those eyes should never hold sadness. He moved toward the train and away from her. The very thing that should never, ever happen. Their arms stretched out so that their touch remains until the very last second. He gets on board the train but his gaze never leaves her, her hands cover her mouth to keep "don't go" begging in her chest. He sits by a window...staring out at everything in the universe that matters. She stands by the window...knowing that in seconds the universe will be gone.

Then an announcement is made: "Apologies to all passengers travelling to London today. The train will be delayed here at York for a few minutes".

Their eyes change. No longer do they seem to long for just one more moment of bliss, now they say "Oh, right. Um...well. I suppose that's nice". Their loving eyebrows raise in such awkward romance as they settle into this impromtu discomfort. Yes, they've said their goodbyes and they're still in each other's company but to him this is a gift. A chance to mouth "I love you" one more time before the cruelty of life takes him away from her. She smiles and wipes away a tear. "I love you too" she mouths and who would know when she would ever say those words to her lover's face again? A last chance before farewell...

The train remained stationary. This beautiful extension of time that Aphrodite gives has made his heart run out of ideas. Waving! Yes, that's it, thinks the soon to be forlorn Romeo. And he waves. He waves at the woman that makes his heart soar or at least feel nice a bit and she, in turn, feels in her heart of hearts that she's basically obliged to wave back. And they wave because waving is all that these two sweethearts have. A wave to say that parting is such sweet sorrow as they are brutally pulled away from each other.

"Did they say how long we'd be delayed for?", said the beau to a man who hated not looking at his iPad. This gave her a chance to steal a romantic glance at her watch and to look disappointed at it. He looked back at his truelove once again and noticed that she was still there. Right. Better...wave? Again? And he waved at the love of his life and she waved back while keeping those eyes that belonged only to him firmly on the departure board. Their thoughts of how boring this heartbreaking goodbye had become were put to one side as their lack of eye contact and half smiles signalled their leave.

IF THE FUCKING TRAIN WOULD JUST FUCKING GO. The far from lonely Juliet sighed and walked in small circles while the brave and not at all departed Romeo looked through some papers from his bag. This literally unforsaken pair trapped in Cupid's most tedious of goodbyes know only too well that the words of love are not enough. Especially when you ran out of them 10 minutes ago. That fickle twat fate conspired to make them fix eyes at one another again. He waved. She folded her arms, looked away and turned her torso left and right. Left and right. Left and right. The loyal boyfriend turned to his phone and checked for texts while the keeper of his flame sat down, bored. He, the man who made her complete, opened crisps and drank Fanta while she, his reason to be, got out a book and wiped her nose with her hand. His earphones now in his head, she yawned and dangled her legs from the bench that supported her weary and fed up frame. She looked again at her watch and, as their gaze met once more, mouthed "Fucking go" to him.

He shrugged and ate more crisps. She read a text, laughed then looked at him with a mixture of guilt and impatience. WHY DOESN'T THIS TRAIN JUST FUCK OFF?, their hearts seemed to sigh. CHRIST ALFUCKINGMIGHTY, THIS SHOULD HAVE ENDED AGES AGO. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO MISS YOU IF YOU DON'T FUCK OFF?

The train moved. It's heavy budge a demand that their love must end, for now. Wheels grinding forward, the departure had begun. Goodbye, sweet love. Farewell and, until our souls unite again, think only of this moment. She half-waved and walked quickly away, he bought three cans of Stella. 

A story of true love there. Is there anything that ruins romance as much as being together?

ALL DAY EDINBURGH returns! 20th October 2013, 2pm, £20 in aid of PBH's Free Fringe. All the very best comedians from this year's Edinburgh Fringe including Al Murray, Bridget Christie, Nick Helm, Robin Ince, Sara Pascoe, Bec Hill, James Acaster and waaaaaay more. Tickets here:

Friday, 27 September 2013

London 0 - Irish 0.

I love television. I think it's wonderful that there is a place that nutures talent and let's imaginations flow, creating brand new landscapes for intelligent minds to wander in wonder. But I also like that there's television; a dumping ground for half-formed fuckwits to writhe around in their own shit, using their constant stream of tears as lubricant so they can freely go and fuck themselves. 

If that sounds negative then let me reassure you that I don't mean to be. Television has suffered for years and only now is it beginning to throw off the chains of oppression. OPPRESSION.

We supposedly live in a free country but television has always been the victim of people who would rather silence than listen to the freedom of the people, if only the people really had that freedom. For the past few decades television has been on trial and has always been found guilty. YOU CAN'T SAY THAT ABOUT THAT MINORITY! the "man" would say and poor, tiny, frightened telly would shed a tear and comply. AND YOU CAN'T SAY THAT ABOUT THAT MINORITY EITHER! demanded Herr Commandant Man again and, like a child that only wanted to be loved, television did as it was ordered. Soon, practically all groups that form our society were treated with cold, clinical, almost Nazi-esque respect. Irrational mockery of minorities (ie, our culture) was being "cleansed" and there wasn't a single faction of society that wasn't horribly protected. Not a single one. Not a heterosexual male one anyway. It seemed that television was being forced to include absolutely everyone. Everyone except one final osctracised cluster of everyday folk: the prejudiced.

It hasn't been easy to be prejudiced and then relax with a bit of telly at the end of the day since hate had it's 70's heyday. Television has been manipulated into opening it's arms to everyone for years but in doing so it has naturally closed a door on those that hate fucking every fucking one. Well, television has fought back. If everyone MUST be included, then everyone WILL be included. Finally, those people with a chip on their shoulder and hate in their hearts have the medium they loved returned to them after 30 years of banishment. Finally, the apartheid is over.

Yes, the left are well catered for with an array of culturally significant programmes (X-Factor, Celebrity Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing are all programmes that our liberal, intelligent friends constantly post tweets about) but isn't it wonderful that in 2013 television has decided to turn the clock back and welcome the return of hate into our living rooms? Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (stupid Irish cunts), Embarrassing Bodies (stupid fat cunts) and The Only Way Is Essex (stupid fucking stupid cunts from Essex, fucking typical of fucking Essex they is, fucking stupid Essex home of fucking Billy Bragg, Ian Holm, Darren Hayman, Luke Wright, Phill Jupitus (sort of) and, of course, Charlotte fucking Rampling. They're SCUUUUUM.). Those are just three of the many shows that television has bravely gifted to the prejudiced so they can look down their noses at other people who, no matter how awful, will still be better than anyone who watches these programmes. But it's not just reality TV that caters so well for people with kindness difficulties. Sit-coms are in on the action too. Take London Irish for example.

Where to fucking begin? Well, it's a comedy about Northern Irish people living in London and as a Northern Irish person living in London and vaguely working in comedy, I thought this would be right up my street. But, no. Television did not make this programme for me. It already makes more than enough TV programmes for me, thank you very much. Doctor Who, It's Always Sunny In's it. Clearly television wanted this show to get the approval of anyone who thinks all stinking paddys are thick, so no stereotype was left out at all. London Irish follows four completely unlikeable cunts who say "retard" in an accent that isn't from Earth. It's utterly amazing to me to watch Northern Irish people putting on a Northern Irish accent. I mean, they've already got one.

Not all of the main cast are actually from Northern Ireland, of course. Some are from Ireland but, sure, that's near enough. We can't expect television executives to research things AND feed their coke habit. The opening scene, JUST IN CASE YOU WEREN'T SURE IF THIS WAS A PROGRAMME ABOUT PADDYS OR NOT, features all four members of the main cast saying stupid things while drinking heavily. This was a chance to show how funny, inventive, charismatic and individual the people of Northern Ireland can be...but, wait...then we're being prejudiced towards prejudiced people again. Let's just make them thick and wankered, eh? Oh, and just to make sure, have one of them piss themselves.

So. That's the first 30 seconds taken care of. What about the rest? Well, they're Northern Irish so they're constantly hating one another. And there's women in it. Good to see in the year that Bridget Christie wins the Edinburgh Award for a very funny show about feminism that television is bravely bucking the trend and making the female leads slags. And if none of that appeals to you then don't worry because London Irish also stars Ardal O'Hanlon as a man who has a car.

Why is this OK now? How come we've gone back to pointing and mocking "Irish" people for being stupid? It seems to have started with Mrs. Brown's Boys and even Jason Byrne's new sitcom Father Figure, although nowhere near as bad, is basically a stupid paddy with a stupid paddy family. And now London Irish. How can television get away with making this sort of dated bullshit aimed only at encouraging people's prejudices? Easy. GET THE STUPID PADDYS TO DO IT THEMSELVES! As long as they're the ones being stupid then we can laugh at them all. Brilliant!

Not brilliant. It is actually possible to do Irish/Northern Irish comedy without lowering anyone's intelligence. Dave Allen is a pretty good example. Flann O'Brien is another. While reading his book, The Third Policeman, this week I couldn't help but think of London Irish. Yes, there are fools in Flann's book. And, yes, these fools are Irish. There are numerous mentions of places in Ulster anyway, but the difference is clear. Flann didn't hate the people he wrote about. He clearly loved them. He gave them the same charm, wit and originality that he saw in the people in his life. "Would it astonish you to hear that he is nearly half a bicycle?" is not a line that you're likely to hear in London Irish. I wonder why you don't see less stupid paddys on TV? Are people really that horrible? Well, yeah. They are.

My point is, there are good and great funny things from Ireland and Northern Ireland if you fancied taking a look. You don't need to be reminded about how much some people clearly hate themselves. Instead, give your attention to Flann, Dave, Colin Murphy, Seamus Heaney, Gráinne Maguire, RuaidhrĂ­ Ward, any film with Michael Smiley in it (none of them are stereotypical), Dylan Moran, THE FUCKING UNDERTONES, Christian Talbot, Alan Irwin (there's a whole brilliant Northern Irish comedy scene on the rise), Maeve Higgins...look, there's loads. All funny people who don't hate themselves or other people from their country.

Imagine if they were all on telly though? I think the prejudiced might just change their minds and soon we'd have wiped them all out. A whole minority cleansed. 

And just in case you weren't that offended by the sound of London Irish then know this: the male lead is called Packey.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Mr. Cellophane.

Hello. My name is Michael. You don't know me because I've very cleverly gone under the radar. No TV station, production company, casting agent or publisher has ever noticed that I exist. It's so difficult to work in comedy and have absolutely no one notice you but to me it's been effortless. It's easy because I'm invisible.

I can go to parties and not be noticed, go to a bar and never get served because I'm not there. I've had friends tell me about what a good night they had the night before, I should have been there. I was there. When I walk towards automatic doors, they never open. I'm thinking of writing a book about what it's like to be the invisible man. I'm going to call it See-Through Guy. 

But there are a few, just a few, people who have noticed that I exist. And I hate one of them.

A few times a week I go to my local greasy spoon in Lewisham and have a hangover breakfast. I work so hard to get a hangover so I deserve a lovely, disgusting meal to treat myself. Then one day I noticed that the cafe had all completely new staff. It was still the same level of care and service (grunts, plate thrown at you) but the faces were new. Still desperately sad looking, but new. Well, not all of the faces were sad. One was joyous. One was a face belonging to the friendliest man in the world. A warm, welcoming smile that said how pleased it was to see you. He was a man who didn't just take your order and serve your food. He cared about you. He cared about how you were, how your day was, how life was treating you. Basically, he was a very good person.

And I hate him.

Every fucking time I go in there he fucking smiles and says hello like a total cunt. "How are you? What have you been up to? How's work?" JUST FUCK OFF. I come into a miserable greasy spoon cafe to be treated like the dying animal I am. If I wanted to hang around someone who actually cared about me I'd....well, I don't know what I'd do but I wouldn't come here. It got to the point where I was scared to go into the cafe. I was actually terrified of kindness. He's going to speak to me and, because I am still vaguely human, I'm going to have to talk back to him. I don't want a conversation. I don't want a friend. I just want to sit in a corner with grease and feel grey. WHAT'S SO WRONG WITH THAT?

But that's the thing about me. I can only take so much. I can only take so much and then I snap. Every single time I went in there he welcomed me, asked about how I was and then hoped I had a good day. Well, he pushed and he pushed and I just couldn't take it any more. I decided that if he was too friendly again that I would NEVER go back. It's harsh, I know, but if he wants me to stay he can wind his smile in and shut the fuck up. Just like everyone else. This is it. I'm going in. But if he so much as asks how I am then my decision is final: I AM NOT COMING BACK.

He took my order and my money and that was it.

No smile. No "How are you?". Nothing.

FUCKING BRILLIANT. Oh, joy. I have my old cafe back. Look, everyone is miserable. EVERYONE! Everyone including him. Oh, I'm so glad he's decided to assimilate. I should have told him resistance is futile in Lewisham. Even the food he threw down in front of me tasted better. I'm going to enjoy coming back here. It's a nice, quiet, dank place for me to go to and be ignored again. I love being The See-Through Guy.

Then another customer walked in and went up to the counter to give his order. "HELLO!", I heard. "How are you? Good to see you, my friend. You look great today. Let me get you something nice. What would you like?"

Aw, no! It was a one-off. I clearly got the cheery cafe worker at a good moment when he couldn't be bothered to be cheery and now he's back to his former upsettingly happy self. Shit. I wanted a Diet Coke to take away with me and now I'm going to have to get it with him being all fucking happy again. I'll go up there and it'll be all "HEY! My friend! Good to see you! How are you today?". Crap. Still, best get it all over with. 

I went up to the counter and asked for a Diet Coke. He gave it to me and said "£1.20".

That was it.

No smile. No "How are you?". No nothing.

What have I done? He...he used to love me. He asked about me nearly every day. He kept saying how good it was to see me. He used to tell me how beautiful I looked. Well, not beautiful... but good. But now it felt like he had told me I was felt like he had feels like he was the only one who did care. He saw me. He saw The See-Through Guy. I just didn't know what I had and's gone.

I've been back to the cafe almost every day since and every day is the same. I walk in, he says nothing, he welcomes everyone but me and then I leave. Why can't he see me? 

I decided to walk in with a huge smile on my face. "HELLO!", I'd say. He would turn and look straight through me, sighing and rattling phlegm as he jotted down my order. I'd ask him how he was. He just turned his back and repeated the order to the cook.

The other day, I noticed he had a football calendar. It featured various sport players from the Red Team. I decided to find out the real name of the Red Team and chat to him about them. That's right, I was willing to actually have a conversation about football with this guy. I know it seems extreme but sometimes you just have to really compromise for love. And I was willing to do that. The Red Team's name was Arsenal and even though that name made me giggle, I was going to take this very seriously. For him. I did some research and rehearsed it in my head all the way to the cafe. "So, you like Arsenal, eh? Me too. I think it's brilliant that they're an English Premier League football club based in Holloway. Founded in 1886, eh, mate? Brilliant. And what about that Tottenham Hotspur? That's a rivalry that's long-standing".

I'd definitely done all the work but just as I said "So, you like Arsenal, eh?", he said "Not my calendar" and walked away. HOW CAN I GET HIM TO LOVE ME? Then another customer appeared and the cafe man beamed a huge smile and shook his hand. Sigh...

Just a few days ago, it was sunny. A really hot sunny beautiful day. Not that I enjoyed it. I couldn't because I still couldn't get the cafe man to notice me again. I went to the cafe, as usual, determined for him to see me. I hate being The See-Through Guy.

Nothing. I was ignored completely so I just sat down and ate. Then the Cafe Man walked over to the doorway and just stood in it, soaking up the sun. I ate my food quickly then ran up to buy my takeaway Diet Coke just so I could pass Cafe Man in the doorway and talk to him. HE'S IN A DOORWAY! THERE'S NOWHERE ELSE TO GO! He HAS to talk to me...

I stood right beside him in the doorway and realised that it was now or never. This was my moment. "Lovely day", I said.

"Uuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm.....", he replied. "I suppose".

WHAT THE FUCK WAS IT WITH THE LONG UUUUUUUMMMMMMM? Did he actually want time to find fault in this sunny day so he could disagree with me? I've got him trapped in a doorway. He has NO CHOICE but to see me but he would actually rather deny that it was a nice day than speak to me? I stormed off, hurt, as I heard him welcome another customer to the cafe. Why does my heart feel so bad?

Just two days ago I went back to the cafe. He was there. His huge smile wasn't. I'm not sure I cared.

I ordered my breakfast and sat in my usual grey corner. The radio was playing something awful from the 80's. I half listened as I ate my breakfast. I started thinking back to when I first saw the Cafe Man. "I'm not denying, we're flying above it all", went the song as I thought about all the times we talked to each other. His huge smile. "Hold my hand, don't let me fall". We used to actually laugh about other customers, together. "You've such amazing grace". And he'd say it was good to see me. "I've never felt this way".

I finished my breakfast but before I could get up to get my usual takeway Diet Coke, one appeared in front of me. The Cafe Man patted me on the back and said "On the house" and then walked away.

I sat there for a moment looking at the drink. I smiled and listened to the bad 80's music.

"oh, ooh, oh, show me heaven...cover me, leave me breathless".

I left the cafe, walking taller. Hey, we're not where we once were but it's a start at a time when all I could see was the end. As I crossed the road a car drove past and skidded. The driver was completely out of control of the car. It then reversed towards me at speed and I thought this is it. I'm actually going to die. The car missed me by a few feet and crashed into a wall. I don't think the driver meant to speed towards me while trying to get control of his car. I just think he didn't see me.

I don't care. It's still great to be The See-Through Guy.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Edinburgh Fringe 2013.

What gets me through the Edinburgh Fringe? What makes me want to go to a place filled with pretentious arseholes and desperate attention seekers? How can anyone find a reason to go to a place where every single day is taken up with dodging flyers and other people's good reviews? Fucking slow moving tourists constantly in your way and sitting through your good friend's bullshit "show" in a damp, boiling hot anus of a venue. How the hell can anyone survive a day knowing they have to walk under that underpass just before Bristo Square? It's fine at night time. You'll probably just be shot or beheaded but during the day it's a piss-soaked, concrete nightmare filled with street untertainers. Halfway through Fringe, I passed two musicians who stopped playing so one of them could say "Shall we hang this song and grab some chow for the gang?". It is the single most spiteful and disgusting sentence I have ever heard. I mean, how the fuck do I actually function at this festering festival without killing absolutely every single person who has ever lived? Well, for me every day has a highlight and that highlight is my show. I love doing my show because when it's over I can go back to my rented flat and open the front door.

God, I loved opening that front door. I remember the first time I did it. It was right after my first show and I was miserable. My show wasn't a show. It was a 10 minute collection of Post-It note scribbles stretched out to 50 minutes. The walk back to the flat was depressing. Is this how it's going to be every single day for a month? Do I really have to perform that terrible bag of bollocks every day? Then I got to the flat, took my key out of my pocket and slid it into the keyhole.

And I mean it slid. Listen, guys, I am telling you: you have never felt a smoother action in your life. It just eased itself in. I have just never felt anything so smooth in my life: Satin, the hide of a thoroughbred horse, pouring baby oil on the flesh of a thousand supermodels. Sure, those things are smooth but this key went into that lock like liquid pouring into a crystal bucket. That door opened with the gentle ease of Diana cutting the ribbon of a freshly opened care centre. I glided that key softly into that lock and it wasn't just a door I opened, it was also my mind. Has anything ever been so gentle as the movement this key and lock afforded me? My mind raced. This Fringe has just got interesting.

Every day, it was the same. I got addicted. I had to feel my key in that lock. I sped through my show and bolted from the venue. My head so full of what was to come, my body electric with excitement. I ran. I ran all the way to feel that perfection one more time. Sometimes I'd come to a halt at the gate and just look at the door for a while. I just wanted to stand there and look at it. My eyes as gentle and loving as key and lock action itself. Is it raining? I hadn't noticed. Then I'd walk slowly towards that door and, although my hand was firm, the motion I took was tender and I was inside.

My show was improving. Of course, it was. I had found a muse. But even on the show's very best day it was all I could do not to rush back to that door. Every day, that beautifully smooth action awaiting me. I felt like I could have thrown my key to the lock and it would have easily floated in. But I never wanted that. I wanted to feel it. I wanted to feel that beauty in my hands. Nothing else around me was important. Yeah, yeah, sure. I suppose it's good that the Edinburgh Awards went to two Free Fringe shows and a show at The Stand and therefore now no one can justify charging £10,000 to hire out their venue but really, that pales into insignificance next to my Fringe. My key. That lock. That perfection.

I sit here now on my deck, refilling my pipe, and I think of what I had. Last night, as I took that long train journey home, a tear rolled down my cheek. At home, I unpacked and as I opened my suitcase what did I find? My key. I'd forgotten to leave it behind.

Forgotten? Never. I'll be back.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

One Man Show.

Some people really are in love with themselves, aren't they? They work so hard on looking perfect, not for the rest of the world, but for themselves. After all, they're just so gorgeous in every way, why wouldn't they preen themselves to the hilt and distort themselves into the exact person they'd want to fuck? No one is good enough for them except themselves. Nowhere is this more evident than here at the Edinburgh Fringe. Poster after poster of people adoring no one but themselves. Age-ignoring Russells with next year's hairdo blissfully unaware that their teenage trousers hate their old man so much that they're suffocating him. It must be so much hard work being in love with yourself. I would never be in love with myself. I am simply obsessed with myself.

There is barely a day that goes by without me studying me. The way I eat, how I walk, that stupid thing I just said. I follow myself around and note every idiotic move, rarely taking my eyes off me. Yesterday morning I went into a shop and looked around for a bottle of Diet Coke. They had pretty much every drink but that one. The shopkeeper said "Can I help you?". Very friendly, I thought. I wonder if he can help me? "Yes", I said. "Do you have Diet Coke?"

"No", he said. "But there's one in your hand".

Yes. There was. I bought it from another shop 90 seconds ago but, despite the actual thing I wanted being in my hand, I had been so busy obsessing over me that I had totally forgotten all about it. I even heard myself inside my own head say "Hmmm...I wonder how he's going to get out of this?". I am my own stalker.

Pretty much all year, while watching my every move, I've become interested in how much time I spend alone. I seem to be constantly amazed at how loneliness is the funniest of all emotions. The Fringe keeps you up late and me being old wakes me up early. I'm basically always awake and almost constantly alone. Waking at 7am and lying there alone for hours. Just lying there. Alone.

This morning I awoke at 6. An hour of looking at no one on Twitter later, I scratched my bum. I felt a hair on my bum and I tried to brush it off but it didn't move. It felt like a long hair. I pulled at the long hair and, as I lay there so early in the morning alone, I realised that the long hair was up my anus. I pulled it and, as I lay there so early in the morning alone, the hair slowly slid from my anus and I held it up to up to the light arguing through the curtains. It was black. A long jet black hair had found it's way from a head, after months or years of growth, and had journeyed that impossible journey all the way to my anus. I lay there alone looking at the hair and thinking about who she was. She had long jet black hair and, I decided, she was pretty and her name was Lisa. She studied drama at RADA but really it was always writing that she was good at. Her play last year was so successful that a large ethically sound business have sponsored her this year and her new play is in a much bigger venue while reviewers are in tears at the emotion she conjours with her words. And at some point, we passed. Just a fleeting moment between Lisa and I. We sat together. Me scrolling through Twitter, her drinking coconut water and replying to a text from her agent. If I'd noticed her, I could have said hello. Maybe she could have taken me out of this loneliness and influenced the dying fire within me to rise again. Instead, she brushed her long, dark hair and one fell loose and through sheer fate found its way into my anus. Then Lisa got up and left. I thought about all that and felt alone. Then I realised it could be a man's hair and I felt worse.

It doesn't matter how the hair got up my anus. The only thing that's important is that the hair DID get up my anus. To mock me as I lay alone. That's how obsessed with me I am. A hair is pulled from my anus and I assume it did it on purpose. But I'm trying to stop. Maybe if I stop obsessing over myself I'll be happier. If I think more about the world than I do about myself then maybe I'll be normal. I should think less of myself, just like everyone else does.

And it's working. Sometimes I actually feel myself empathising with other actual human beings. Sometimes when I least expect it.

I went to see a show on Monday night that looked so utterly offensive that I wanted to see how the comedian justified the horrible stereotypes depicted in his poster. Yes, yes, yes. I also wanted to laugh at how shit I assumed it would be but I genuinely was interested in seeing how, in 2013, racial stereotypes are accepted by audiences. But it wasn''t what I expected at all. It wasn't a big racist being a massive dick. It was just an ordinary man being tragic.

He walked on stage and informed everyone that he was from Pakistan and then did some lame jokes about that country. They all fell to silence. Then he decided to do some audience banter. "What about you?", he said to me. "Quickly. Quickly".

I didn't know how to answer the question and, to be honest, "What about you?" is not a great question to ask someone as self obsessed as me. "Where are you from?", he barked. 

His response to Northern Ireland was "Hey! Get away. I like my kneecaps" and I was offended. Not because of the stereotyping but because of the lies. He didn't like his kneecaps. He didn't like anything about himself at all. His kneecaps are a pair of cunts. Then he turned to a little Asian boy, the only person in the front row. "What age are you?", he asked. "12", the little boy replied. 

"12?", said the sad man. "You should be married. Where is your wife?"

"Oh", said the boy. "She died two years ago in a car accident".

I laughed for a year. The sad man did more racial stereotyping and got nothing from the audience so he returned to the boy. "You should remarry", he said to the boy. "I just want a dog", replied the boy.

"But you need to find someone to share your life with, to open your heart and find love".

"I just want to play frisbee".

This constant outwitting by a 12 year old boy went on and on just wasn't fun. I couldn't laugh at an idiot being a racist idiot because he's a human being and he's just draining away to silence. He was completely shit and the audience hated him and that could easily be me. A man alone and being mocked. Every joke got silence, every routine ending with something like "And my routine...about...arranged...marriages". At one point he forgot his own name. And that's when I forgot all about me and just wanted him to stop. Stop the show, stop the act, stop hating himself. I wanted to get up on that stage and hold him. I would hug him for as long as he wanted and I would tell him that it's all OK. He doesn't need to ever do that act again. If I had asked him to stop, would he have said "Thank you, my good good friend" and hugged me back? I don't know.

I do know that he's got jet black hair.

My show "Free Wifi" is on at The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh from the 31st July until the 25th August at 3.40pm. Please come along. You can buy tickets here: