Tuesday, 30 January 2007

All In A Night's Work

After my gig last night, a girl came up to me and stuck her finger in my ear.

I like to think this indicates just how rock and roll I truly am.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Free Beer Show

I have the privilege of appearing at the Free Beer Show on Monday night (i.e. the 29th).

I think doors open at about 9pm. The show is based in the Cellar, which is on Frewin Court, near the Oxford Union.

Top stand up Shappi Khorsandi is headlining.

CORRECTION: Doors open at 8. The show starts at 9(ish).

Friday, 26 January 2007

Happy Birthday Hector!

Hector, my family's black labrador, is One today.

Happy Australia Day ...

... to all my Aussie readers, and indeed to all of you.

Paul Maynard For Blackpool North

Paul Maynard – PPC for Blackpool North and Cleveleys and close personal friend (I move in some pretty rarefied circles) - has a blog.

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Torn

Watch this. Now.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

He Ain’t My Brother

Not that the TV Licensing people believe me, but I still haven’t got round to purchasing a television for my new flat. Thus I have only seen a few Internet clips of this year’s Celebrity (sic) Big Brother, plus a few items about it on the news whilst pounding the treadmill at the gym. I think, however, that I have seen enough to enable me to form some views on what has gone on this season.

Channel Four would love to think (or at least persuade us to think) that this is great television, and has opened up an important debate. I think it has done to an extent, and I’m also willing to accept that the broadcaster is not motivated SOLELY by a desire to maximise viewing figures by showing the most prurient drivel they can produce.

I think in these circumstances it’s useful to assess one’s own prejudices. I know I’m not a racist – I completely reject the notion that a person’s race dictates their character or level of intelligence. But boy am I prejudiced in other ways. What the Jade Goody – Shilpa Shetty row has revealed to me in stark terms is that I am a FEROCIOUS snob.

It’s true, unequivocally and undeniably so. I hold not only Jade Goody and her co-conspirators in contempt, but everybody like them. Their fantastic stupidity, their vulgarity, their hilariously misplaced self confidence, their strident and grotesquely ill-informed opinions, their moon-faced visages and cow-like buttocks, their inarticulate braying on public transport – I deride it all.

And this is a prejudice, because I can’t honestly claim that it’s only the unkind ones that I mentally mock. Certainly I think people who are wilfully ignorant and unpleasant, like Jade Goody, deserve our opprobrium. But to be honest, I find anyone who even looks and sounds like them deeply unattractive.

Of course I accept that it’s only kindness that really matters. Yet only in the most fundamental way do I accede to that proposition. I don't enjoy the company of people who don’t read and whose idea of a day well spent is to swill beer and smoke cigarettes and babble inconsequentially about the Lottery. And no WAY do I want my children to be educated in schools in which the offspring of these pig people are present. Part of me wishes that they weren’t allowed to vote.

Arguably, this prejudice is every bit as indefensible as racism. Arguably it actually IS, effectively, racism. But I’ve never suffered from middle class guilt, and I think you deserve my posts to be honest.

That said, I’ve made a point of not calling these ghastly people ‘working class’. Good manners are sometimes more obvious among that group (insofar as it exists) than in any other. And indeed many of the pig people don’t work.

But this is a prejudice nonetheless, one that is far from being easily excused. The fact remains, however, that it rarely causes me a moment’s guilt.

I could get all overwrought and bothered about feeling this way. But I won't. The modern fashion for thinking that prejudice is invariably appalling or completely avoidable is a stupid one.


Footnote: I wonder if any comic commentator (other than me) will say: ‘A frightful woman with dreadful views has dominated the news this week. Hillary Clinton is running for President’.


UPDATE: A useful reminder from Richard that Big Brother betrays the failings of British education policy.

Personally I blame all governments since the Labour one that introduced comprehensives. But mostly I blame that government. Are you listening, Shirley Williams? Screw you, Tony Crosland.

Monday, 15 January 2007

A Dream Not Squashed

When I was a little boy, we used to drink really nice orange squash.

I've always liked orange squash (and blackcurrant, and apple & blackcurrant), but I found myself remembering how nice orange squash used to be, and wishing that I could remember the brand we had.

Then a few years ago I had a drink of orange and pineapple squash. Lo and behold, THAT was the magic ingredient in the taste! Any brand will do, although I will cheerfully endorse one in exchange for some free samples. I can be emailed at tommywgreeves@yahoo.co.uk.

Isn't it nice when something so straightforward goes so right?

International Relations

Via Justin, watch this and weep.

You may weep tears of sadness, but I wept tears of laughter.

I think my American friends know how much I love and respect them and their fellow countrymen – this video is shared with affection! I don’t actually seek to make any political point by sharing it – it’s just bloody funny.

Vindication

Tonight’s gig was a big success.

Adam snatched defeat from the jaws of victory after a mix-up with the normal venue, thanks to Chris we had a mic and stand, and thanks to the crowd we had a good time. And Beth even offered to work the bar if necessary, which was an act of incredible generosity.

In the event she didn’t need to. We decamped to Adam’s office, and a good time was had by all. John, Ben and James were all excellent.

I was really pleased with my set. The freewheeling approach was thoroughly vindicated, and I’m pretty much certain that this is the way to go. I enjoyed it hugely, and felt really chuffed.

Now I need to ensure that I do the same for my next gig, and at subsequent ones.

All in all it was a great birthday, and a big Thank You to everyone who made it so. And today is my comedy anniversary, so I get to celebrate two days in a row!

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Change Of Plan

Tonight's gig will begin at 8:30pm, and be located on the third floor of Chester House on George Street, Oxford.

Friday, 12 January 2007

If You Can Keep Your Head

So I turn 31 this Sunday.

I will celebrate in style, on stage at the Ministry of Mirth, which is located in the Wheatsheaf on Oxford High Street.

Doors open at 8pm.

I’ve written before, more than once and even quite recently (even a blog shouldn’t be this self referential and repetitive, surely!), about the way that writing things down in advance seems to lock my brain. I’d had second thoughts about that, and wanted to try EFFECTIVE written planning. But I once again found that I was less than stellar, that I undersold my material, and that having written a structure down, it was very hard to deviate from my script.

In such circumstances, once I’ve done all I’d planned to do, I have a tendency to wind things up. (Writing down material AFTER the event is very useful, as you can come back to it for inspiration, and also it helps prevent repetition in the same venue.) Prematurely leaving the stage is no good – it isn’t very satisfying for me, nor for the audience.

As Sunday is my birthday, I think I’ll use the leeway that OUGHT to afford me, and wing it. If there’s a temporary lull in my brain activity, it won’t kill the audience to wait for a second or two.

EVERY time I’ve kept it loose it’s gone better. My ad libs often get the biggest laugh. And given that I think what I’d most like to be is the kind of comedian who walks on stage not knowing quite how the evening will turn out, this is the way to go, even if it doesn’t work at first. I know all this; I just have to have the courage to dive in.

It’s important to think ideas through – sometimes I’ve realised on stage that while I’ve remembered the theme, I haven’t properly developed it. So saying stuff out loud or in my head a few times is a good idea. But writing it down seems not to be.

It’s quite a bit harder to free associate away from the Ministry, which is my ‘Home’ gig. Indeed knowing I must do this is possibly even more intimidating than trying stand up for the first time. But I must take the plunge. I hope to be on at the Bullingdon next Wednesday. Silky’s a good guy and it’s a nice crowd, so it’s a great opportunity.

If an idea is really good, it’ll stay in my head. And you never know your luck in a big city. Or a small room.

As the song goes, ‘free your mind and the rest will follow’.

Monday, 8 January 2007

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Although still absurdly modest, the daily hit rate on my blog has increased significantly.

If you've linked to me recently, and / or have just started reading the blog, I'm very grateful, and would love to hear from you. Where did you discover this little outpost?

tommywgreeves@yahoo.co.uk.

Josie Long

I managed to find Josie Long's website (it really wasn't hard).

If you like whimsical, unique, and above all truly heart warming comedy, then go and see her.

As things stand, you can catch her here:

January 9th - Norwich Arts centre

11th - White rock hotel, Hastings

12th- Marlborough theatre, Brighton

13th- Horsbridge Arts Centre, Whitstable

23-24th - Battersea Arts Centre

25th - Exeter Phoenix

26th - The junction, cambridge

27th - Wyeside Arts centre, Wyeside

28th - Hen and Chickens, Bristol

29th - Cheltenham Town hall, Cheltenham

31st - Millfield theatre, Edmonton, london

February6th - High Wycombe

8th - (not a tour date but a fun time) Compering a gig at the maze, Nottingham, with crafts!

9th - Lakeside theatre, Nottingham

10th - Phoenix Arts, Leicester

11th - The otherside, York

12th - XS Malarkey, Manchester

15th - The Castle, Wellingborough

16th - Central Theatre, Chatham

17th - St. Georges, Bradford

18th - the Original Oak, Leeds

19th - Harrogate theatre, Harrogate

21st - Glee Club, Birmingham

22nd- Glee Club, Cardiff

March 1,2,3- Soho Theatre, studio

5th - Taunton

12 - Glasgow COmedy Festival, Brel, Glasgow

When I first read that she is 'compering a gig at the Maze', I thought 'Bloody Hell, that's ballsy'. In fact it's the Maze in Nottingham, not Northern Ireland.

But the more I think about it, the more I think Josie SHOULD compere a gig at the Maze Prison. I reckon the peace process would take a decisive turn for the better. Infused with the joy she so eagerly spreads, all the bad guys would renounce violence for ever, and embrace each other with the milk of human kindness.

Ever embraced someone with milk?

Back In The Game

My first gig of the year went pretty well.

I do have a bit of a problem away from the Ministry of Mirth (where I feel much more comfortable) in being too scripted and not doing long enough sets. However, it was a success overall.

The other acts were splendid – Ben Boot and Josie Long. And Silky was as impressive as ever.

My next booked gig is at the Ministry of Mirth (Oxford) on 14th January, followed by the Bullingdon (Oxford) on 17th, and the Free Beer Show (Cellar Bar, also Oxford) on 12th February.

As the 14th is my 31st birthday, and as it’s the Ministry, I think I really must let my hair down and free associate. The great fear is not having anything to say. But I’ve never really been left speechless – it’s just that sometimes I cut things short, when I could in fact carry on if I just took a moment to think. Go for it, Big Tom!

Tonight’s gig came 51 weeks after my comedy debut, made at the same venue. To my exceptionally pleasant surprise, tonight marked another first: I was paid. I’ve had expenses before, and free drinks, and tickets for friends (and each is MUCH appreciated), but tonight’s fold can only be described as payment.

I am very grateful to Silky for being such a generous cove, and don’t mean to be vulgar in mentioning this. It’s just that I’m rather chuffed. That vote of confidence is invaluable.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Cliffordy and Walshy

Holly Walsh and Caroline Clifford handed me my arse at last year’s ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ competition.

They also make me laugh my arse off. It’s quite an arse, so that’s all to the good.

Holly and Caroline both have websites. Holly’s is the aptly named http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=76088478

I have never heard anyone refer to them as 'Cliffordy' or 'Walshy', but I rather like each moniker.

Bonitos

I’m back at Bonitos, in Banbury, this Sunday.

I’ll be doing a fifteen minute slot, just under a year since I made my comedy debut at the same venue.

The show kicks off at 5:30 pm. I’ll be there from 5 pm, when the doors open. Do come along if you’re free. Our host Silky is terrific, and I gather that the headline act – Josie Long – is too.

Tickets are available from the venue on 01295 277766, or on the door. Bonitos is at the top of White Lion Walk.

This is where it all began for me. And it’s a lovely gig.

James Sherwood, Again

A reminder about James Sherwood:

James Sherwood’s Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show ‘I know what you did Last Sunday’ is returning to London next week. It’s the one that The Scotsman called ‘Very funny, brilliantly conceived. Sherwood has phenomenal Stage presence. He is an impressive, intelligent, articulate performer.’

Here’s the details: Tuesday 9th January and Wednesday 10th January – 7.30pm, Etcetera Theatre, Oxford Arms, 265 Camden High Street (Camden Town tube)

Can you come? You can book tickets from the Etcetera on 020 7482 4857. Or you can buy on the night. All tickets are £6.

I am going to try to go on Wednesday. Anyone fancy joining me? James is excellent. Drop me an email if you’re around.

All Is Ashes

Congratulations to all my Australian readers on such a comprehensive Ashes victory. Unquestionably your Test side goes down in history as one of the all-time great teams.

You will of course wish to celebrate your triumph in this minority sport with a few well chosen barbed comments at the expense of my fellow countrymen. I know that most of it is tongue-in-cheek, and that Britons who travel to your shores have a fabulous time.

You boast great weather, a smashing lifestyle, a flourishing and growing tradition in the arts, gorgeous women (and, I imagine, men), and one of the best Prime Ministers in the world. And yes, you are disproportionately brilliant at sport.

Just one observation. Amidst your joy at beating 'the Poms' (whatever that means – if it really is a corruption of 'Prisoner of Her Majesty' then it would seem to suit your ancestors better than mine), consider this. People who define themselves primarily as not being someone else are losers. (Think of those football fans who hate their rivals more than they love their own team.) Winners don't give a damn about the other lot.

Here's to Australia, and our shared head of state, Her Majesty the Queen.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

P. J. O’Rourke

I haven’t read enough P. J. O’Rourke, which is odd, as I really like him.

Have a trawl on the Internet, and read one of his books.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Please Note

The fact you got 'really wasted' last night is not in and of itself an interesting anecdote.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Comprehensively Demolished

Sir Eric Anderson – fated to be remembered as Tony Blair’s favourite teacher – has a superb critique of the comprehensive school system in today’s Daily Telegraph.

This is a bugbear of mine. Sir Eric’s article elegantly and concisely articulates everything I think, without resorting to invective, and even throws in some facts for good measure.
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