I’m a huge, huge fan of The Cure and I’m seeing them tomorrow night (and Monday night). To help me cope with my toddler-before-Christmas levels of excitement, I talked to Tom Goodliffe about my obsession. And some other obsessions. This is actually pretty embarrassing, so knock yourselves out and have a cheeky listen.
Hello you Bunch Of Beautifuls,
Mr Susie here. I is be-do doing The Rat Pack every day up in HeadInABurger Festival for August, and I just got my name checked by the lovely-bovely Nathan Cassidy in this interview on Broadway Baby (who, themselves, hated my show last year, describing it as a “pointless hour full of gimmicks”, which although I is think that sound awesome, they apparently meant it in a bad way).
Anyway, do do a check out Nathan’s shows in previews as well as at the festival itself, and do do a come-along-and-see-us all be do-doing the Rat Pack.
31st July – 24th August
2:45, Maggies’ Chamber, Free Sisters, 139 Cowgate, EH1 1JS – FREE ENTRY
My first gig back after the Christmas break was a nerve-wracking affair. Performing is like a muscle and inactivity promotes flabbiness, so I was more on edge than usual. Would I have the mental dexterity to win these people over, keep them where I wanted them, and then release them, all happy, after a ten-minute onslaught of wide-eyed surrealism? Early exchanges were promising without suggesting a full-hearted willingness to come with me. This was a brand new gig, in a wonderfully full room, and I knew none of these people had seen me before. My confused alien can be confusing and alienating and I felt mounting trepidation. The pink flappyness of my pink, flappy-sleeved top, was attracting little more than looks of bewilderment from significant chunks of the audience and I knew that I needed something to get them onside.
The above photo was taken at ABC in Kennington, which is not the gig being written about here.
I was therefore relieved when someone in the front row lent into her husband and whispered “he is a prawn.” I have had this before. A few times, in fact. Grown men in pink flappy sleeves can certainly look a bit prawny, and I knew I had some prawnographic material stored away in some cranial back room. As with most live performers, I genuinely delight in a chance moment or overheard comment that allows me to launch into a fully spontaneous reaction but I don’t think I’m giving away any massive secret of live comedy in saying that sometimes these opportune moments have happened before, and the comic’s reaction only appears to be off-the-cuff, when in fact he or she has actually done and said these things before, albeit rarely.
So, given that I felt more than a bit nervous, I seized upon this “he is a prawn” comment and felt a huge surge in confidence.
“This lady has just said ‘he is a prawn’ ” I proudly announced to the whole audience, all the while thinking wait until you hear this incredible set of ‘just made up’ comments in reaction to what she said.
But the lady in question was already correcting me. Loudly, so that the whole audience could hear.
“No,” she declaimed, “I didn’t say ‘he is a prawn’, I said ‘he is appalling’ “.
My confidence balloon farted itself into a shrivelled mockery of its former self. I thanked her for sitting in the front and being so supportive, before limping through the rest of my set, trying not to bitterly resent her checking her iPhone through the long ten minutes that followed.
Her husband apologised to me afterwards adding, as if it explained everything, “she’s French.” Madame herself remained unrepentant.
And so the rush of tweets and facebook updates about Margaret Thatcher begin in the wake of news of her death. Some of them are amusing, some genuinely enlightening and many are just tasteless. But a significant amount are just plain mindless, and my least favourite from this latter category are those espousing the following sentiment:
“Say what you like about her politics, she was certainly a ballsy lady.”
Which prompts me, in a fit of irritation, to want to post something along the lines of:
“Whether you’re pro or anti fascism, Hitler certainly had a lot of gumption, didn’t he?”
Unless you personally knew Thatcher, I don’t believe you can comment on her passing without referencing her politics and still be saying anything meaningful.
I adhere to the view that she was responsible for emasculating local government, that her economic policies favoured the wealthy and that she oversaw a time of vast toxic consumerism, all of which are still infecting the culture and politics of the nation some twenty-three years after she left office and it grieves me politically. I personally would not wish ill upon another person or their family and I’m certainly not going to be as crass as to consider celebrating the passing of a human life, though I don’t begrudge people using her death as a spur to rant about the damage she did to our country and her ongoing influence upon the current appalling state of affairs. Equally, if your politics are firmly to the right of centre and you are comfortable with such episodes as the sinking of the Belgrano and her friendship with people such as the Chilean dictator Pinochet then I do not begrudge you commenting on her passing and praising her political legacy.
But please, spare us the idiocy of empty soundbites.
“Whatever your taste in music, Peter Andre has recorded some songs, hasn’t he?”
Quite where this specific blog-rant sits on the scale of mindless to meaningful, I’ll let you decide.
Since I mostly perform comedy gigs in character, as Mr Susan, it’s always a bit strange taking to the stage as me. I’m a little bit shy in real life and if there’s no character to hide behind I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of exposing myself as someone who hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing.
I was MCing the gig I co-run with Jack Samuel Warner (Funny Fridays at The Magdala pub) a couple of weeks back and for reasons I do not fully understand I decided to whip the crowd into a frenzy by whispering at them. Yes, that’s right, I thought the best way to get the masses frothing at the proverbial was to quietly breathe “are you ready for your next act?” down the microphone. It was probably nerves on my part, but what could possibly have got into me to think that a barely audible hush would make for a fist-pumping, pant-wetting night of adrenaline soaked stand up comedy? The thing that saves this story and makes it something lovely, rather than merely an illustration of how inept I am when being myself onstage, is that the aforementioned audience didn’t seem at all put off by my under-powered murmur. No, instead they politely whispered back “yes” en masse. You can’t plan for magic like that. . .
My second example of MCing XXXtreme from recent weeks involves the glamourous activity of setting up the room ready for the night. The stage at The Magdala is portable and gets packed away for storage every week. It comes in two sections and it’s necessary for me to bolt the two elements together, binding them tightly in line like two sides of a vice. To do this I have to lie flat across the stage. After I’d tightened the final bolt last Friday I was suddenly confused at being unable to stand up. It was only then that I realised I had tightened the stage around my own moustache.
Luckily I had the presence of mind to unbolt it again, otherwise I would have had an embarrassing trip to A&E with a stage stuck to my face.
This story concerns a friend of mine. I shall call her Jessica, though that is not her real name. It also concerns her father. And if I tell you that her father was an academic who specialised in the history of trade union disputes you might get some idea as to just how socially awkward this man was. He had no inter-personal skills whatsoever. Next to him, Rain Man was a champion of wit, charisma and general dinner-party-pleasing repartee.
Jessica’s dad was also a marathon runner, which meant long training runs throughout the year. One particularly delightful habit of his was entering the kitchen-diner, fresh from a three hour jog, removing ALL of his running gear and stuffing it into the washing machine before climbing the stairs for a shower, plums and manhood swinging freely all the while. It made no difference to him if there were visitors in the kitchen who might be alarmed at his nudity, and neither did he cater to any expressions of shock or dismay, he simply wished to distance himself from the sweaty clothes and commence his ablutions.
This particular story happened to Jessica when she was nine years old. She had a play-friend over on the evening in question. And yes you are right to begin blushing in anticipation of where this is leading.
Jessica and friend were playing upstairs. Jessica was in her bedroom and the friend was perched on the two stairs that separated each stretch of the family’s split-level landing. Imagine the friend’s shock when Jessica’s 100% nude dad rounded the corner and headed straight for her. She wasn’t to know that all he cared about was moving beyond the small-girl-shaped-obstacle and into the shower. Her embarrasment intensified a thousand-fold when the two of them began that awkward-at-the-best-of-times shifting to the left and then to the right and then to the left again dance of clumsy passing attempts.
Frustrated that he was now three and a half seconds overdue for his shower, Jessica’s dad took matters into his own hands and attempted to step over the cowering friend. To his credit, he DID succeed in getting past her, but not before his penis had slapped the poor girl in the eye.
I suspect that’s something that took a while to recover from.
I had just been cast in my first ever television advert. It was for thomascook.com and I was required to be one of three zookeepers. At my wardrobe fitting I had tried on the generic zookeeper costume of workers’ jeans, big green wellies and a big green jumper and I was ready. The shoot was to take place on Battersea Park and my call time was horrifically early as is often the case with these shoots.
Determined to make a good impression, I arrived at the park in plenty of time. It was early summer and the thrill of experiencing the park waking up was only slightly tempered by my nerves and by the realisation that I didn’t actually know where the production base was. No matter, for I still had plenty of time. . .hadn’t I?
Thirty minutes of increasingly frantic searching later I STILL had a few minutes to spare before I was required to report in, although my ample window allowing for mishaps was about to close. Suddenly, a guy pops up from behind a bush and shouts “ARE YOU MARK?”
“Yes!” I replied, delighted that someone attached to the shoot had come to find me.
“Come on, then”, he urged, “you’re late! The boss is going mental!”
I sprinted off close behind him , distraught that I’d managed to screw up my first commercial shoot before it had even started. In truth I was also confused, for I was still technically early, even though my call time was now only minutes away. Perhaps my agent had got the details wrong?
Anxiety levels shot through the roof when I rounded a corner and came face to face with a few hundred other zookeepers, all dressed in the generic uniform: workers’ jeans, big green wellies and big green jumpers. Had there been a script change that I wasn’t aware of? I’d only ever read a version using THREE of us, yet here was a veritable convention of animal carers. There was no time to be confused, for the gathered throng was being given a stern talking to by a midget (I PROMISE I am not making this up) standing on an upturned wooden crate. The midget stopped in mid-sentence when he saw me. The Pop-up Bush Guy I had followed here indicated to his Midget Overlord that I was the missing “Mark” at which point I became the target of the Tiny One’s unimaginable rage.
Left: An artist’s impression of how the tiny angry boss man might have looked as he shouted at me from atop his bossy box. The more I think about it the more I think he DID carry a spear and wear a cloak. I’m pretty sure he had some kind of magical power as well. . .
“HOW DARE YOU BE LATE!” he screamed at me. “HOW DARE YOU! THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN HERE FOR FORTY MINUTES AND YOU CAN’T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO. . .”
He was so beside himself with anger that I couldn’t get a word in edgeways. It was only when he threw a shovel at me and told me to do a circuit of the park collecting doggie doos that I began to sense an almighty misunderstanding. I turned to a fellow zookeeper and asked what the hell was going on, and he replied that this was the morning brief for South London Park Keepers. I edged away, apologising for being in the wrong place, and all the while the Midget-on-a-Box was spitting hellfire and damnation in my direction.
I could still hear him bellowing “DON’T WALK AWAY FROM ME WHEN I’M GIVING YOU A BOLLOCKING” as I stumbled upon the production base for the thomascook shoot.
It just happened to be in the same park as where a bunch of midget-managed park keepers were gathering, who just happened to be wearing the same uniform as I was about to put on for the advert, and who just happened to be looking for a late-comer called Mark.
I only ever saw the advert once. I hope the vertically challenged angry man saw it and finally understood why I’d walked away from a day’s park keeping.