Thursday, December 28, 2006

Big Fat Quiz Of The Year

--

Anyone see it? Anyone see Noel being AMAZING and after a wary first 20 minutes absolutely kicking ass in what's a totally unfamiliar situation for him? Anyone see Russell Brand being REALLY funny? Anyone see Rob Brydon, Jimmy Carr, Jonathan Ross and David Walliams ALL being completely outshone by Noel and Russell's genius? Anyone else DEFINITELY gonna watch it again?

Just me then.

:P

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just The Tonic Xmas Gig, Nottingham

I've never blogged about stand up before, basically because I don't go to it nearly enough, so I don't really know how to review it. Unlike resident comedy expert Dean I don't have a critical language for it... so I'll just talk generally and say stuff like 'this guy was funny', 'this guy wasn't funny'.

The gig was at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, which is a lovely venue, and which seemed to work for comedy. On the bill were David O'Doherty, Rob Rouse, Noel Fielding (woo) and Ed Byrne. Guess why I was going! It was hilarious playing 'Spot The Boosh Fans'. Honestly, you'd think half of Hoxton were there. Not that I hadn't got a bit Vince Noir'd up, myself, of course. Gotta be done. It was clear, though, that while Ed Byrne had been billed as the headline act, the majority of the crowd were there for Noel, something which the promoter seemed increasingly aware of as we randomly started talking to him. Thing is, we didn't realise he was the industry legend Darrell Martin... neither did we realise that he's a comedian too, so when he said 'oh you didn't come to see me then' we just laughed in his face... oh dear. Gave us after-show tickets too, though that was before we basically insulted him by saying that no-one's heard of him. But we didn't realise he was kinda famous! Oh well. Nice bloke...

Anyhoo, compereing (sp?!) the evening was Daniel Kitson, and he was a master at the job. Really quick, and set up some great banter with the audience, and in one very long sequence, actually between audience members. One was a joiner, and one was a studying building site management (I'm not sure that's the *exact* title!) and he engineered a fantastic blue-collar vs. white-collar debate. Also, he did a completely improvised bit of slapstick when he stuck O'Doherty's keyboard down his trousers and then tried to pick stuff up off the floor which O'Doherty had knocked over in a rock n roll tantrum kinda way. Probably had to be there :)

Well, as we're on David O'Doherty, and because it's chronologically accurate, let's start with him. I adored him. After Noel (who we'll just take as read I like best), I thought he was by far the funniest, most engaging performer. He's got a quiet, innocent kind of style, which really reminded me of the brilliant Demetri Martin, but the best parts of his set were the songs. He had a couple of crappy Casio keyboards with him (one of which, as I said, ended up down Daniel's pants) and he used these to accompany his fantastic songs like 'You sent the text to the person the text was about' (genius) and one where he listed facts about himself, as way of an introduction. I loved him, and his place at the bottom of the bill was due to his lack of fame, rather than lack of talent. I should say at this point that Noel was bumped up to headline act at the last moment... of course that was *also* to do with fame, but he's got talent to back it up :)

Next I'll lump in Rob Rouse and Ed Byrne together, because, quite simply, they weren't impressive. They were so unimaginative, that half of Rouse's set was about farting in bed, and, even worse, half of Byrne's was about how thick Jade Goody is. We really don't need a comedian to point that out - I think we worked it out about four years ago when she was in Big Brother. Just because you've been on 8 Out of 10 Cats with her doesn't mean you're privy to any sort of secret info. I mean that's just lazy isn't it? I laughed at various points in both sets but it all seemed very run-of-the-mill even to me, who sees very little live comedy. I thought Ed Byrne was one of the best touring comedians in the country?

And then came Mr. Fielding. All evening there'd been just the teeniest whiff of anti-Noelism from Daniel Kitson - always mentioning that "girls like him", and that people dress like him, rather than saying he's funny - and Ed Byrne reacted to a heckle by saying 'I can't reply, the guy from the telly's on next'. Hmm. Maybe I'm just over-protective... Anyway, Noel came on, all hair and legs and eyes, and instantly owned the room. After the pedestrian nature of the previous two acts, Noel's mix of surrealism and word-play was a glorious change, and what's more, he seemed to really enjoy the whole set, despite the constant interruptions from the audience. Some were just random lines from The Mighty Boosh, some were lines from the Boosh which at least reflected what Noel was saying at the time, some were the usual drunken ramblings you *always* seem to get at stand-up, and some were just malicious. Which was where Noel came into his own. There was one particular guy who had been an idiot all evening. To Noel he shouted: 'how'd you get your trousers on?'
Noel: I stick 'em in the fireplace and come down the chimney...but I have to get 'em off quick to f*ck yo momma
Heckler: That's not very imaginative (probably fair point, but Noel trumped him thusly)
Noel: I dressed her up as a penguin and set fire to her. How's that for imaginative.
Which received a massive round of applause, at which point Noel turned to the heckler and said 'that's hate for you. Manifested as love for me'.

I realise this is probably all very boring for you all, but I just want to get it all down to remind myself. He also said when he came on that we look like a massive game of 'Guess Who' from where he's standing - 'So if everyone with glasses could just lean forward...' I keep trying to be subjective and still come to the conclusion that Noel was the best, but I can't really trust my judgement... what's definitely true is that he was inventive, quick, and had wonderful presence.

Rouse and Byrne probably weren't as bad I've made out, more disappointing really, and overall I had a fantastic night. Just The Tonic is re-opening soon, and I'll definitely be down soon, if only to apologise to Darrell...

The Runaway Bride

I won't do a big old review because my reaction has been pretty much the same as everyone else. John and Dean have both said similar things -
- That Catherine Tate was annoying but got better
- That the sonic screwdriver was overused (again!)
- That it was exciting but there was something fundamentally a bit rubbish about it
To be honest, I thought it got better and better throughout. I was utterly unconvinced for the first few minutes, but by the time we got to the reception (soundtracked by the wonderful Neil Hannon, as Dean pointed out) I was hooked. The balance was right - Russell T has said in interviews, you don't want to see the Doctor balling his eyes out on Christmas day... that can wait til the new series. Which looked good, by the way. Scary pig men? Brilliant.

Vicar of Dibley was really good, I thought. Showed The IT Crowd what traditional comedy should be like. Funny for a start. I've always had a soft spot for the show, I 'spose, but I laughed out loud on several occasions, which is more than I can say for Little Britain Abroad...

Remember that Big Fat Quiz of the Year (with Noel Fielding!!) and Ruby on the Smoke are on tomorrow evening, so set your videos for one or the other now :D Hope you all had a great day yesterday!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

In case I don't see you all beforehand, I'm sending massive Christmas wishes, and all the best for a happy and healthy 2007!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Surprise Packages of 2006

Who'd have thought that Amy Winehouse would come back with a song as wonderful as 'Rehab'? A low-down dirty bluesy stomper that I just can't stop humming.
And who'd have thought that Russell Brand would be one of the highlights of the Secret Policeman's Ball? This cut down version doesn't really do justice to the whole set, but gives a flavour...

Neither are particularly likable people, but as long as they're good at their jobs, at least they're justfying their (constant) intrusion into our lives.

Ooh I've gone all Beta

Though it's not beta any more. I want to do the 'customize template' thing like I did over at annawaitsbeta but it says I'll lose some of the changes I've already made... I guess I can cut and paste into Word the template I've got now in case it all goes horribly wrong...?

EDIT: To quote Nathan Barley's Jonatton Yeah? (one of the greatest comic creations of the last ten years): 'Reactions, etc?' I think it looks alright. I wanted it to be the same but different... I'm sure I'll keep tweaking it for a while.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Insignificant and Proud!


The lovely Lisa has nominated me for an Insignificant Award, and very grateful I am too! Thanks!

The Insignificant Awards is the world's most unheard of blog competition. It's a place for the undiscovered to be discovered.As the annual weblog popularity competitions begin once more, we at The Insignificant Headquarters wish to praise, encourage and salute the unknown blogs that sit in the unrewarded wilderness. Those blogs that will never be voted for by the masses. Those bloggers who will never be nominated for anything (but should be).

Clare, EineKleineRob, Marie have all got nods too :) Me? Well I thought I'd avoid blatant nepotism, so I'll go for the blog which I've followed from the moment I started blogging, MediumRob's The Medium Is Not Enough. There's a chance it'll be disregarded for not being insignificant enough, but I'm proud to nominate it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Album of 2006

Victory For The Comic Muse - The Divine Comedy

No hesitation whatsoever on this one. Unlike many DC fans I know, who adore the early albums, I find a lot of them a bit too, you know, clever. What I want is perfect pop songs, and on something like Promenade, I'm forever skipping to 'When The Lights Go Out All Over Europe' and 'A Drinking Song' when I know I should be listening to 'The Booklovers'... I can't help it, I like tunes. Hummable tunes.

I thought that 2004's Absent Friends would be hard to beat - 'Our Mutual Friend' is still one of the best songs Hannon has ever written (and features utterly sublime strings, courtesy of arranger Joby Talbot) - but Victory For The Comic Muse is right on it's heals in my affections. It opens with what should become a gig staple, an immediate classic that should rank up there with 'Something For The Weekend' and 'National Express' - 'To Die A Virgin'. The lyrics are witty, of course, but it's saved from being simply a 'joke' song by the fantastic orchestration - the urgent violins, the booming horn section - and the sheer vibrancy of the song which can't help but make you smile, and dance around. It's got the same stomping quality of Ben Folds Five's 'Underground' and Rufus Wainwright's 'The One You Love', and it makes me just as happy.

On the other end of the 'subtlety' scale, but equally wonderful, is 'A Lady of a Certain Age'. I've heard this described, on several occasions, as Hannon's best song ever, and it's easy to see why - continuing the Rufus comparisons, this is Hannon's 'The Art Teacher'. It's poignant, but still funny, and beautifully simply, and acts a wonderful foil to the proceeding 'Diva Lady'. While the latter is a bitter indictment of a shameless, demanding popstar, this song follows a woman in her twilight years 'around the Cote D'Azur, as she looks back on her life - and tests out what age she can still pass for.

Yes, VFTCM may get a bit Promenade when we reach track 10, 'Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont', but that's a welcome sign - it seems he's finally able to accept the good point of all his various styles of writing, where once he famously threw away his suits, annoyed that he used to 'value the art above the humanity' (Too Young To Die). He's clearly settled and content, and rather than making for a dull album, it's brought us one of his best yet.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

2006 Review

Due to lingering illness, the onset of (duh-duh duh dum) third year of uni and a commitment to blogging elsewhere, I know I've neglected you all this term (the only unit of time I can work with at the moment!). So this is just to let you know I'm forming some "[...] of the Year" awards for 2006 in my head - Track, album, tv moment, surprise package, newcomer, hero, villain, discovery, theatre production etc - now I'm back home for Christmas. Might be fun, especially the bits where you tell me I'm wrong. :D

Thursday, December 14, 2006

British Comedy Awards 2006

I actively look forward to this, so it was cool to live blog the whole thing (here and here). I'm quite proud of what I wrote, so I thought I'd repost here :) Each paragraph was a new update.

Pre-show: Just a few minutes to go! How outrageous do we think Jonathan Ross's suit will be? And just for the record, I'm going to be very biased. If Extras wins anything, I'm afraid I can't be held accountable for my actions. Go Mitchell and Webb! Let's see...

The Jonathan Ross Opening Monologue - Well that suit's not ridiculous at all! Never mind. I'm a big Jonathan Ross fan, and so this opening monologue is always a highlight for me - he's friendly enough with all the celebs to joke about them, and has a streak which means he always goes that little bit too far. Chris Langham? Chris Tarrant? He didn't skirt any comedy-related issues. Brilliant! His Russell Brand impression was inevitable, and woeful, but then we expect nothing less. I just wish he'd been even meaner about his big mate Ricky Gervais... ah well, can't have everything. On with the awards!

Best Comedy Actor: Stephen Merchant - Well that's ok, I guess. Better than Gervais winning anyway. Merchant was one of the very few things that kept me watching Extras, so I suppose for that he really does deserve this award. But it should have been Mitchell and Webb! Peep Show would be nothing without their unique chemistry. They was robbed. (Expect that phrase to pop up quite a few times tonight...)

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme: Harry Hill's TV Burp - Forget the winner - look, it's Jack Black and Kyle Gass! I love Jack Black... he's a proper star. Ok, to the winner: Harry Hill really deserves this - he's incredibly talented (he makes You've Been Framed watchable after all!) and it's a wonderful, very underrated show.

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality: Harry Hill - Not Ant and Dec?! What's the world coming to? Well it's Harry's night, isn't it? And quite right too, he's a great mix of family-favourite and utterly bizarre nutter. Oh, and there's a 24-foot long python on the loose. Now there's a line I didn't expect to write...

Best Comedy Newcomers: Charlotte Church and Russell Brand
- Charlotte Church? Well she's unintentionally funny, I'll give her that. And as for Russell Brand, his stand-up is wonderful but I've never quite 'got' him as a tv presenter. Then again, there's no denying he's become a massive name this year, and really there was always only one winner. And thank goodness he's mentioned the animal cruelty...

Best Comedy Actress: Catherine Tate - Unfortunately, for me this wasn't a strong category. Catherine Tate is in an awful sketch show, Katherine Parkinson's IT Crowd was hugely disappointing, and I've never been a fan of Tamsin Greig. Oh dear.

While we listen to the "mighty" Chris Tarrant, I'll start a new post...

So we're half way through the main awards! Harry Hill has been justly rewarded and we've witnessed the abuse of an impossibly massive snake. An actual snake. Follow me over the cut for more reactions... ooh, and vote for Mitchell and Webb in the People's Choice Award!

Best New TV Comedy: Star Stories - Whaaaaaaaattttt??? I thought Mitchell and Webb were a shoe-in for this, but apparently not. Star Stories has completely passed me by. Hmm, I'm upset now. Oooh look Madonna! It's a good job I've got a short attention span...

Sacha Baron Cohen, like Russell Brand has been everywhere this year, and so it's only right that he's been honoured here. Isn't it weird to hear his normal speaking voice?

Best TV Comedy: Peep Show - YYYYYYEEEESSSSSSSSS! IN YOUR FACE EXTRAS! I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me. I'm so happy! This series of Peep Show was the best yet, as they allowed a little warmth every now and then, and that's no bad thing. Plus, of course its innovative direction and fantastic performances make it a real modern sit-com classic. Peep Show, we salute you.

People's Choice Award: Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Well did we expect anything else? But you can't not like Ant and Dec, can you? They're pure pint-sized entertainment and Saturday nights wouldn't be the same without them. And I always love the sponsor's representative trying to be funny... and she didn't do too badly, did she? Bless her.

Best Stage Comedy: Little Britain - Poor Mighty Boosh. Poor beautiful, funny, talented Mighty Boosh. Poor beautiful, funny, talented, should-have-won Mighty Boosh. Actually, Matt Lucas and David Walliams have had a bit of an undeserved backlash recently - while the third series of Little Britain was not exactly brilliant, they're still very talented. See, I can be gracious when I want! (Poor Mighty Boosh....)

Right, see you over on ITV2!

Best Live Stand-up Tour: Jimmy Carr - I have a confession. I quite like Jimmy Carr. I know that's not cool to admit, but he makes me giggle against my will. If I were trying to keep my reputation though, I'd say that Ross Noble should have won.

Best International Comedy Show: Curb Your Enthusiasm - Again I'm going to be uncool and say that the American Office should have won. It's nothing like our Office - which was brilliant, it's only the latest series of Extras that I dislike - but that doesn't mean that it's not great. But then so's Curb Your Enthusiasm... I can live with this.

Best Comedy Film: Wallace and Gromit - Curse of the Were-Rabbit
- Well, Nick Park may not be all that great in a 'speech' situation, but he's brought Wallace and Gromit into our lives, and for that he is a genius and a national treasure. Let's go backstage!

So here we are backstage. Isn't this cosy? You guys can listen to Tenacious D, I'm off to find the Boosh... only joking. Ooh it's Lucas and Walliams, who, you'll remember, I was surprisingly nice about given my all-too-evident Boosh obsession. They really are massive, aren't they, and you simply can't take that away from them. I'm not ashamed to say that I am looking forward to the Little Britain Christmas Specials. Yes, ladies and sirs, the Little Britain rehabilitation starts here.

This show is an absolute shambles! Not even an enjoyable shambles really... just Liza Tarbuck looking bewildered, Russell Howard looking embarrassed, and a load of drunk people talking over each other. Not exactly classic viewing, is it?! Why are we listening to Mylene Klass? There's seriously talented people in that room and we're listening to Mylene?! Get it togther, Tarbuck!

Courtney Love and Noel Fielding! That's the greatest combination ever. EVER. Other than Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, of course. Oh the Boosh should have won their category... they're so innovative, and creative, and endearing, and laugh-out-loud funny. Next year, my friends, next year.

So, we've come to the end of a long evening, and what have we learnt? That That Mitchell and Webb Look has been criminally overlooked, that Harry Hill has been justly rewarded, that Peep Show is better than Extras (though we already knew that, of course) and that 24-foot pythons and drunk comedians just don't mix. You win some, you lose some. Night all, and thanks for sticking with me.

--------------------------------------

If only it were always that fun to write a thousand words! Basically, the awards went as planned, but with the wonderful exception of Peep Show beating Extras, and the travesty of Star Stories beating That M+W Look (though to be fair I've not seen Star Stories but I bet they don't play Numberwang on it).

Also, it proved what we said all along, that apart from the People's Choice Award, ALL the awards should be judged by a panel, and not readers of Nuts and Zoo. I mean that's just wrong.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Especially for Torchwolf...

Hope you consider this a gem - it's Charlie Brown Christmas, dubbed over by the cast of Scrubs. Either the greatest thing ever, or sacrilidge. Enjoy!



EDIT: Hmmm, the concept was better than the reality.
To make up for it, here's something that better qualifies for the title 'greatest thing ever'. It really is. May I introduce to you Snoopy:Flashbeagle.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Work distractions...

Here's a couple I've stumbled across today....

Terri's West End Blog - really good stuff!

and...
How To Tell When A Relationship Is Over - In 90 Seconds:
written/directed by Tony Roche..... and maybe starring Julian Barratt. Ok definitely.

News from myspace.com/rufuswainwright....

"Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Release the Stars"
Rufus' next studio album will be titled, "Release The Stars." It is the first album produced entirely by Rufus. Neil Tennant is the executive producer. It will be released at the beginning of May. More info to come soon."

Woo!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another great combination!

After ballet and the White Stripes, Simon Pegg and David Schwimmer, now there's Jessica Stevenson and Doctor Who! Yay!

Sam Wollaston out of a job?

Haha well not quite. Matt did a fantastic job of cheering me up this morning by bringing my attention to Sam's blog about coming back off holiday (to Mexico, for three weeks, as he's at pains to RUB IN MY FACE) to find that the profession of television reviewage is under threat.

Actually, he makes a decent point, that water cooler tv does still exist, and that just because the Daily Mail does something - ie get rid of morning-after tv reviews, doesn't mean we all should (quite the opposite in fact). But still, made me smile amid anglo-saxon translations and presentations on Aphra Behn.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Last night's Qi

Anyone see this? The topic was divination, and when Alan Davies tried out his buzzer at the start he disappeared, like he was being beamed up or teleported something. He said a few disembodied words and then didn't come back. For literally about twenty-five minutes he was completely absent from the show. He said a few more of those disembodied words near the end, but that was it. He didn't actually rematerialise. I was very confused.

Scrubs

I don't really like doing these 'look what I wrote somewhere else!' posts, but I know there's some Scrubs fans lurking about so I thought I'd flag up my review. Rob's done a review of episode 6.1, by the way, which I highly recommend, as I do all his posts. :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

By referrals...

Holyhoses Rob has been taking a look at the searches that have brought people to his blog, and it's so much fun I thought I'd do the same...

Theatre life film art television furniture: Unless this is a particular coincidence, I think they may have *wanted* to wind up here

noel fielding illness: I hope he's ok...

julian barratt interview: So I like the Boosh!

alan davies: how many pages of results must you have to go through before you get to me with this search!!

vibrate on desert idland discs: it wasn't one of mine, but it could have been. Search engines are clever these days, aren't they?

rsc bible abridged: ah someone with real taste

simon amstell john barrowman: two people who are both wonderful, but it's hard to find a collection

rufus sewell (x about 100): someone was really interested in Rufus Sewell

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rock 'n' Roll gets just rewards

Like pretty much everyone else, I adored Rock 'n' Roll, and it's picked up best play, and best actor (the fantastic Rufus Sewell) at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Quite right too.

(The Stage)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wikidump

This is a great blog I found on my blogger dashboard page. I'll let them explain...

From the bold to the beautiful, from the wicked to the wise, every day the Wikipedia team relegates possibly "inappropriate" submissions to the garbage dump of time. Here, we make selected rejects immortal and preserve them for posterity.

There's some wonderfully weird stuff - I suggest a look.

Pegg and Schwimmer

Like the White Stripes and ballet, the fact that Simon Pegg (one of the coolest Englishmen I'm aware of) and David Schwimmer (one of the coolest Americans I'm aware of) are coming together for a single project has both eluded me, and now excites me rather a lot. It's for Big Nothing, a film I had no knowledge of until about ten minutes ago when I found this on YouTube...

... which involves something so funny, I've got to put it here for posterity, in case YouTube goes missing or something. The interviewer has asked Simon, David and Alice Eve to describe each other in own word. This is Simon on David:
Simon: Err.... Ross.
And that's why Simon Pegg's one of the coolest Englishmen I'm aware of.

I hate Bloglines

It makes me a really passive reader of blogs. I just look at them in the reader and then fail to actually go to the blog to see the comments and respond. So, because I like you all so much, you're all coming off my Bloglines. It's for the best.

David Mitchell overload...

He was on Jam and Jerusalem, Qi AND Blunder on Friday.

In order of time and nothing else, we'll start with Jam and Jerusalem (which he was in for about three minutes, to be fair). Well it was just kinda weird. On one hand there was Sue Johnstone playing it pretty straight, as though she were still in the Royle Family, and then at the other extreme you had Dawn French being Dawn French. The two didn't *really* go together all that well, did they? Plus it just wasn't that funny which is of course the greater crime.

Then Qi, a show I look forward to every single week and which never disappoints. That's some achievement. David Mitchell always comes at things from a different angle to everyone else, so he's a great panelist, and Alan Davies makes me giggle pretty much every time he opens his mouth.

Then there was Blunder over on e4, which I wanted to be good, because it's got lovely Toby from Nathan Barley (Rhys Thomas), Simon Farnaby from many things including the Boosh, and the paper boy from Spaced. And David Mitchell. (though quite why he IS there I have no idea. He's just far too famous for it) It was pretty rubbish though. Half of the sketches are filmed on location, and half are with a studio audience - I think maybe they should've kept to the latter, and made it more of a showcase type thing. In any case, it didn't make me laugh.

And this isn't on tv, but I'm also making my way through Peep Show, which I've never caught on tv for some unknown reason, and I'm really loving it. The only problem I had with the first series was that the friendship between Jez (Robert Webb) and Mark (guess who) wasn't really focused on - they both had their own storylines which kept them apart for a lot of the time - but this seems to be sorted out in the second season. They also make it clearer why people actually like Jez, which was something that needed looking at. Talking of looking at things (I'm good, I know) I spend most of the time watching through my fingers - especially when Mark's making his moves on Sophie (I actually covered my face with my blanket at one point). I doubt I'm alone.

THEN there's the Mitchell and Webb live show DVD which comes out on Monday, so I'll be watching intently for... well, me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Company of the week!

*drum roll please.......*

It's DOLLY DAGGER! Congrats, take a bow.

I'd had my eye on a purse from this store for quite a while, and when I got some money for my birthday, I thought I'd treat myself. When the package came (about three days after placing the order) I got not only the purse, wrapped in tissue, but also a candy cane and two badges.

Now, I might be easily impressed, but attention to detail is worth a lot, so I thought I'd give them a little plug. They also have a blog and a myspace, and pretty much everything they sell is achingly cool.

Three cheers for Dolly Dagger!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Those British Comedy Awards nominations in full...

From TV Scoop (natch):

Best TV Comedy Actor of 2006
David Mitchell & Robert Webb - Peep Show (Objective for Channel 4)
Ricky Gervais - Extras (BBC Comedy For BBC One)
Stephen Merchant - Extras (BBC Comedy For BBC One)

Best TV Comedy Actress of 2006
Catherine Tate - The Catherine Tate Xmas Special (Tiger Aspect Productions for BBC Two)
Katherine Parkinson - The IT Crowd (Talkback Thames for Channel 4)
Tamsin Greig - Green Wing (Talkback Thames for Channel 4)

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality of 2006
Ant & Dec - Saturday Night Takeaway/ I’m a Celebrity - Get me Out of Here/ Poker Face (ITV Productions/Talkback Thames for ITV1)
Harry Hill - Harry Hill’s TV Burp (Avalon Television for ITV1)
Paul Merton - Have I Got News for You Hat Trick Productions for BBC One)

Best Male Comedy Newcomer 0f 2006
Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins - The Friday Night Project (Princess Productions for Channel 4)
Kevin Bishop - Star Stories (Objective Productions for Channel 4)
Russell Brand - Russell Brand’s Got Issues (Vanity Project for E4)

Best Female Comedy Newcomer of 2006
Charlotte Church - The Charlotte Church Show (Monkey for Channel 4)
Katherine Parkinson - The IT Crowd (Talkback Thames for Channel 4)
Miranda Hart - Hyperdrive (BBC Comedy for BBC Two)

Britain’s Best New TV Comedy of 2006
Star Stories - (Objective Productions for Channel 4)
Suburban Shootout - (Feelgood Fiction for Five and Paramount Comedy)
That Mitchell & Webb Look - (BBC Comedy for BBC Two)

Best TV Comedy of 2006
Extras - (BBC Comedy for BBC Two)
Peep Show - (Objective Productions for Channel 4)
The Thick of It - (BBC Comedy for BBC Four)

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme of 2006
Ant & Dec Christmas Takeaway (ITV Productions for ITV1)
Harry Hill’s TV Burp (Avalon Television for ITV1)
Have I Got News for You (Hat Trick Productions for BBC One)

Highland Spring People’s Choice Award
As voted for by readers of FHM, Heat and Zoo Magazine and ITV1 viewers on the night.

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV Productions for ITV1)
Extras (BBC Comedy for BBC Two)
8 Out of 10 Cats (Zeppotron For Channel 4)
Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (Open Mike Productions for BBC One)
Green Wing (Talkback Thames for Channel 4)
Little Britain (BBC Comedy For BBC One)
Northern Lights (ITV Productions for ITV1)
That Mitchell & Webb Look (BBC Comedy for BBC Two)

Best Comedy Film for 2006
Confetti - Fox Searchlight Pictures/BBC Films/Wasted Talent (distributed by Fox Searchlight)
Little Miss Sunshine - Fox Searchlight Pictures/Big Beach/Bona Fide (distributed by Fox Searchlight)
Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit - Aardman Animations (distributed by Dreamworks / UIP)

Best International Comedy Show for 2006
Curb Your Enthusiasm - HBO Entertainment for More 4
Everybody Hates Chris - Chris Rock Enterprises/3 Arts Entertainment/Paramount Network Television for Five
The Office: An American Workplace - NBC Universal for ITV2

Best Live Stand Up Tour for 2006
As voted for by readers of FHM and Zoo Magazine.

Al Murray - ...And Another Thing
Jimmy Carr - Gag Reflex
Lee Evans - XL - UK Tour 2005
Lee Mack - The 2006 Stand Up Tour
Ross Noble - Fizzy Logic
Russell Brand - Shame

Best Stage Comedy for 2006
As voted for by readers of FHM and Zoo Magazine.

Little Britain
Robin Ince’s Book Club
The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You
The Mighty Boosh
The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb

GO MITCHELL AND WEBB!
(though not for Best Stage Comedy... we gotta give the Boosh something :D)

Mark Shenton on how prepared a critic should be..

After my attempt at reviewing The Caretaker without running off to Wikipedia, here's Mark Shenton's view on whether you should read up on old productions, seek out the original text etc. Basically, he's not sure!!

Oh, and I realise my Boosh countdown came to a rather anti-climatic end on Monday... basically I'm trying to get my essay out of the way so I can sit down and properly absorb it. With popcorn and the lights off :) But in the mean time, here's a gratuitous screencap of the DVD from the forum:

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Two days to go...

... and Noel and Julian are spreading themselves thin to boost sales. Did anyone see 'em on Jonathan Ross last night? And John Barrowman! It was a good show. John was as hyper and as naughty as we've come to expect, Noel looked wonderfully ridiculous as usual and Julian... well bless that man, have you ever seen anyone look quite so uncomfortable (and cute and endearing, of course) as him on that show? Apparently he was made even more embarrassed than he usually is on these things because when Wossy picked up on his reticence, he made everyone stare at him. Lovely.

P.S. I really am aware that noone cares about the details of every movement made by Messers Fielding and Barratt... but whatchagunnado. In fact, I'm even going to tell you that Julian was clean shaven on Soccer am. Yes, the trademark 'tache is gone. :P

The Play What I Wrote, Lyceum Theatre Sheffield, 10/11/06

Bit stressed out from essays, birthday preparations, and general stuff at the mo, so this won't be too long.... :)

So, the Morecambe and Wise play, right? Well, right and wrong. It was clear that a lot of the audience had come to see classic sketches acted out, and at half time many were disappointed - I actually heard a guy say 'They aren't doing what I paid my money for!'. So he hadn't done his homework, that's fair enough. But what's really not that fair enough is then refusing to accept what's actually been put in front of you, and evaluating that rather than what you expected/hoped for. Not that the comment riled me, or anything. The show actually follows another comedy double act, but listen to the explanation and you'll realise that there's certain similarities to the seminal pair: one is always goofing around, making a joke out of everything, upstaging his partner. The other is a little pompous, serious, and a very bad playwright. Sound familiar? I could say that The Play What I Wrote explores the dynamics and possible pitfalls of a funn-man/straight-man double act, because, well, it does. But really, it's guys channelling the fun and freedom of Eric and Ernie's shows, without re-enacting them word for word, and actors Andrew Cryer and Greg Haiste (and wonderful third man Anthony Hoggard) do it very well. I'm not sure it entirely works because, while I know it's not cool to say this, some of the Morecambe and Wise humour has aged quite a bit, but it's a lot of fun, and the direct references are used sparingly enough to make them feel special - 'He won't sell much ice-cream going at that speed!'

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Boosh series 3 info...

On Jo Whiley, they said that...
1) The next series will probably be set in a second hand/vintage shop run by Naboo - Howard'll try and sell his jazz records and Vince'll sell his ridiculous clothes.
2) BOB FOSSIL IS COMING BACK
3) The series probably wont be on tv til Autumn '07
4) Then they'll think about going on tour again.

To recap - BOB FOSSIL'S BACK!

Who's the newbie over at TV Scoop...?

*whistles*.

Woo!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

Russell Brand edgy enough for Radio 2

So Brand was 'fired' from 6Music for being 'too edgy', and has now been hired by Radio 2. There's something wrong there. I think people were confusing 'edgy' and 'big'.

The State Within

I've got a feeling that this will improve, but I wasn't convinced last night. To be honest, I spent the first twenty minutes in a sort of mild panic - this is BBC... but it looks so American... who's that guy?... I can barely get a handle on Spooks and I know the characters on that show... ooooh bolshy American woman, I get that... is that the same guy as before?... where are we now?...

That quickly passed, though... *ahem*.

It was so determined to make it look as much like Without A Trace as possible (not the greatest ambition, maybe, but one they certainly pulled off) that they forgot to put any time and/or money into decent actors who would avoid putting me to sleep. And what exactly IS the show? Bits of West Wing here, bits of Spooks there, but it had none of the verbal wit of the former, or the excitement and tension of the latter. Maybe I was expecting too much for a first episode, but when you have such a pretty box, you expect to find something worth looking at inside. Now, I should probably go beyond just Sam Wollaston's tv reviews, but he always promotes discussion, doesn't he? On one hand, he's completely right:
"It's as if they sat down to brainstorm a few ideas, and then at the end of it just decided: "Hey, what the hell, let's just put them all in." There are so many threads to be tied together, it's like a woollen scarf that's been put through the shredder."
and on the other he's completely wrong, because he uses the word "fun". This was anything but fun. It was the opposite of fun. It was dull. BUT I'm willing to give it another go. Just one, mind.

EDIT: There's a round-up of blogger opinion over on TV Today, and Rob's done a great review here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The State Within vs. A Harlot's Progress....

Which will I choose?

Well, it's The State Within clearly. That way I get to see the very funny Simon Amstell on Buzzcocks too. You gotta consider these things.

Internet! At last!

To celebrate, here's the Mitchell and Webb live tour finale, courtesy of Mr YouTube and the very lovely mrsarrison:

The BBC is 70 today!

So says TV Today! Have a drink on old Aunty Beeb!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Secret Policeman's Ball

Didn't really work on tv, did it? But then that's hardly surprising, given the fact that it was re-ordered, a number of acts were completely missed out, and those that remained were massively chopped down. I'm sure it was a blast if you were there... The Torn mime thing was good, and the Boosh at least looked excited to be there (unlike most of them, who looked rather bored), but overall... very meh.

Here's something rather cool though - Noel Fielding and Russell Brand trying to out-do each other both in size of hair and wit. Basically, Noel comes up with all the weird ideas and Russell expands.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Royle Family

It's hard to blog something that was pretty much perfect, isn't it? I'd forgotten how good The Royle Family was, and indeed what sort of comedy it was, and how much pathos was involved. Surely all the episodes weren't this good, though? The scene with Barbara cutting Nana's hair was devastatingly sad and beautiful, and Jessica Stevenson brought her usual greatness to the little end scene with Twiggy. And of course it was hilarious too - Caroline Ahern is a master observer.
Why, precisely, they decided to bring it back, I'm not sure - but it's quality was justification enough.

P.S. More for the 'Sam Wollaston is wrong' pile.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb

(I can't be bothered to blog Torchwood. It wasn't really good or bad enough to warrant an opinion, was it?! Just kind of... meh. Fun, I guess, though not funny. Not particularly dark... I'll watch again as John Barrowman's worth a second chance, but I'm not expecting miracles)

So, I went to see Mitchell and Webb live last night! Very exciting, especially because they were recording it for the DVD so I'll be able to relive it at my leisure when it comes out. Made for a rather strange opening though, as some guy came on explaining that they need audience reaction shots, but for that they need lights, and as we wouldn't want the lights up all the way through, we'd just have to do some fake laughing there and then. Which was a little weird. We did 'mildly funny', 'funny' and 'hilarious'. And all felt like idiots, so what it'll look like I've no idea.

Anyway, good point, bad points. It's easier to quantify the 'bad' elements because they're just to do with the structure of the show. Like the fact that David and Robert did lots of sketches apart, (as one got changed, presumably) when what we really want is Mitchell and Webb. Or that we didn't really see very much real David and Robert- either really real in terms of messing stuff up (they're just too darn professional - though Rob had problems with his 'Big Talk' moustache...) or inverted-commas-"real" like in the TV show.

The good stuff's harder to set down because they've found a way to my happy switch and I find it hard to be objective. Sketches that have received luke-warm critical responses (*cough* snooker commentators) make me crack up, Numberwang is the most wonderfully demented thing on tv in years, they can be wonderfully high-brow and erudite one moment, utterly ridiculous the next... I just love it. They've got to my happy switch, and that's more than enough praise. Yes, this is simply the tv show put on a stage but you know what, I love the tv show so I don't entirely care. In fact I don't care at all.

You see - can't be objective. :)

Oh, and I got their autographs....










Yay! I said to David that the Snooker Lady In Red had made me face just how much snooker I actually watch, and to Rob that they'd made me laugh so much I cried. Both just kinda laughed...!

P.S. Still having internet problems, as you can probably tell :( Ah well. Apparently the connection's about a week and a half away. We'll see....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Torchwood

I haven't seen it yet... will blog it on Thursday after the BBC2 repeat... mum said it was rubbish.

Just to keep you in the loop.

Friday, October 20, 2006

So long, Mitchell and Webb...

.... good riddance Extras.

Paul Fuzz on Being Indie

"I'm a groupie now, right? I'm dating the cellist in Grammatics now! I gotta look the part! Get with the program! Can't swan about in back stage bars ripping off free Stella lookin' like some shmuck off the street! I gotta get with it! I'm off to buy the new Klaxons 45! Do they call 'em 45s anymore?"

Brilliant. And I can vouch for the fact that both Grammatics and Cardboard Radio are absolute masters of their respective crafts.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Surely this can't be real...

... oh lordy.

The Caretaker - Sheffield Crucible, 17/10/06

Just as blogging breeds blogging, non-blogging breeds non-blogging, but I am breaking my lazy habit to do a Sheffield Theatres special!

So, The Caretaker. Now I am aware that this is a massively important, well-regarded post-war play, but I'm willing to admit that I really didn't know anything about it, other than the name, and it seems I wasn't even too sure about that, as I often thought of it as 'The Carpenter'. But I'm using my lack of any knowledge to try and do this review completely blind. Just to see what I can come up with on my own. I've not Wikipedia'd it, no Googling, I haven't even read the pieces in the programme. This means I'll probably make some very obvious statements, while simultaneously missing very important themes... but hey. Might be fun. And rather A-levelish.

The Caretaker is a three-hander, and small casts always need impeccable acting. Luckily this production had three actors which were all immensely watchable, which sounds like rather pale praise, but it is meant as the highest possible recommendation - watchable actors are the ones which make you forget they are acting, and that is always special. The wandering tramp, Davies - here played by David Bradley - is one of the best written, most recognisable characters I've ever come across on the stage. He's done everything, and he did it all first; been everywhere, and he was the first to get there. He's got enough nous to make you think he understands you, or agrees with you, for a while, but eventually his deep-seated anxieties and prejudices can't help but come out. Davies takes full advantage of Aston who takes him in, especially when he realises Aston suffers from a mental illness, and we despise him for it, although we realise life has not exactly treated him well either. The role of Aston was played, in the stand-out performance of the production, by Con O'Neill, who's speech recalling inhumane treatment in a mental hospital brought complete silence to the capacity audience (it was 2-for-1 on tickets to fill up seats for press night). As his disjointed memories turned into a more coherent narrative of what he suffered, he became more and more agitated, and it was really difficult to watch, but the most affecting moment of the play. Aston's older brother, Mick (Nigel Harman) is another wonderful character - dark and brooding one moment, playing the fool the next, and ultimately driven by a desire to protect and help his brother, Harman had a complex role to grapple with, and did brilliantly. Maybe this praise should go to the director, Jamie Lloyd, but he had fantastic comic timing, especially in a couple of great set pieces - including a sequence where the three men tried to get a bag off one another, which actually received an impromptu round of applause.

All three characters have a hard life thrust upon them which has meant that they can never do the things that would make them happy, and that they are all stuck doing and saying the same things over and over. They try to make it new, by creating fantasies of how the flat could be, convincing themselves that that shed will get built, or just making up complete lies, but in the end they have nowhere to go. How they deal with this is what forms our opinions about them - we warm to Aston, are frustrated by Mick's intimidation of Davies, which marrs a character you know you could like, and become increasingly intolerant of Davies' lies and manipulation. This is a very slick, superbly acted production of a darkly comic play, and I'd go again in an instant.

EDIT: Guardian review. Doesn't mention anything major that went over my head, so I'm happy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hey

Just a quick one to say that I'm back at uni and currently without net access at our house :( The phone line's pretty messed up so it might be a while before normal service is resumed! Also, I see that I've 6 comments on the post below, but this computer isn't loading the page so I can see them... hope you're having fun down there! Literally, every other page will load. Grrr.

*hits computer*
That didn't help.

So, hope to see you all soon, I've got to use the uni computers anyway to check emails and the like, so hopefully I'll be able to keep some level of normality. All the best amigos.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sam Wollaston...

... wrote that Thursday's Extras was 'priceless' and that That Mitchell and Webb Look couldn't even raise 'a little inside chuckle'. This proves that the man's a fool. Extras was woeful (apart from the Ronnie Corbett scenes which he picks out as the best - we'll give him that) because it has become so damn predictable. Maggie blurts out something she shouldn't; Andy hates broad comedy; everyone hates broad comedy - in this, he even went so far as to say that people who watch it (and broad comedy, readers, is silly wigs, live audiences and catchphrases) are morons. Nice. It'd be ok if there was a dissenting view, but no - everyone from Stephen Fry to Barry-from-Eastenders knows that broad comedy is lowest common-denominator television. All of which could be excused if I actually laughed, but Chris Martin was awful, the scenes in the shop were boring, and complaining about being at the Baftas is just ridiculous. Thank goodness for Ronnie.

Then there was Mitchell and Webb. Now it's far from perfect, I know that, but at least it doesn't make me angry. In fact it makes me laugh. Quite a lot. Which is always a start. Numberwang is demented fun, the Sir Digby Chicken Caesar sketches are weirdly enjoyable, though I've no idea why, and the sketch from this show where David had a go at Robert for writing a sarcastic letter made me laugh more than I have done in a long time. (Reading that back, you probably had to be there). Plus, they throw away great ideas in a single sketch, never to be seen again, because they've got thousands more where that came from. I really look forward to it.

Talking of looking forward to stuff (I'm good, I know), Robin Hood and Strictly Come Dancing start tonight, if you haven't noticed. :)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Belated congrats to our not-so-Struggling Author

Marie was one of my first regulars, so I can't let her fantastic news pass by without me shouting her BOOK DEAL from the rooftops. (Look, I even used colour!) We all know that if her blog's anything to go by, Gods Behaving Badly will be an absolute winner, so I can't wait to go into Crockatt + Powell next summer, and come out with my very own beautiful copy.

The Outsiders

Oh bless ITV, they tried, didn't they? They were clearly going for a fun, stylish drama - a bit retro, a bit modern. Yes, we could see what they were going for, with all the 70's graphics and good old British Minis, but bloody hell it was lame, wasn't it? Nothing even happened. And what was all that lobster stuff about? That's 90 minutes I ain't getting back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New BBC Idents

At last! (via) But how will we cope until the launch date - Saturday 7 October 2006? And how can the following sentence ever be uttered on any day other than April 1st? :-

A fantastical exploration of what it would look like if adult hippos could swim.

Riiiiigggghhhhhhtt.

Paul Fuzz reviews Cabaret

An 'AnnaWaits Tribute Review', as he puts it. It's really great, go check it out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Summing up

Sorry guys, I've been suffering with a bit of a nasty virus, so apologies for the lack of posts and comments. I'm still not feeling brilliant so here's some rubbish summing-up blogging for you:

Spooks: brilliant - loads of that unbearable suspense it does so well, Hermione Norris seems like she'll fit in well, and Zaf continues to be incredibly cool.
Extras Ep.2: awful - aren't the general public idiots? They'll watch any old crap, won't they? Even when proper critics see that it's rubbish? Urggggh. Plus, and most importantly, I don't really remember laughing.
Jane Eyre: ho-hum - very stylised, and I'm not sure I like it...

Discuss. :)

Also, I'm currently working my way through the Nathan Barley series and I am loving it. Writers Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris clearly know the Shoreditch/so-cutting-edge-it's-tomorrow scene to attack it so vehemently. There's a slight problem here, I think, though, in that they don't show why that lifestyle might be something people aspire to, or find attractive, when of course they do. The performances are uniformly brilliant though. I may be a little biased but MAN Julian Barratt is good - he makes Dan Ashcroft a flawed and often incredibly irritating man, but you're right behind him and his campaign against the 'idiots'. You know he won't always make the right decisions, but you want him to, and that shows you like him. Nicholas Burns also makes the eponymous 'hero' brilliantly slappable, and one of our faves, Nina Sosanya, provides a character looking at things with our eyes. I can't wait to finish the series.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sheffield Theatres lead TMA Awards. Again.

As The Stage are reporting.

That's partly down to me, that is. I'm a 'regional panelist' for TMA, and getting two free tickets for whatever show (outside of London/Stratford/festivals) I like explains how I can afford to go so often. And great parents. :)

Sam West is at the start of his tenure, so it's not surprising that this wasn't quite the rounded season that we saw at the end of Michael Grandage's time in Sheffield, but there were still some great productions - and of them all, I really hope Assassins (my review) gets the recognition it deserved.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Charles Ross's One Man Star Wars Trilogy - Sheffield Lyceum, 17/09/06

At the end of the performance, Ross said "If this wasn't what you expected, well I can understand that, because the title is misleading..." And he's totally right. Well, he's wrong and being sarcastic, but you know what I mean. One Man Star Wars Trilogy really does do exactly what it says on the tin. There's very little out-of-character talking (apart from five minutes at the end for thanks and a quick ad for his next show), and indeed very few jokes - this is one man acting out the original Star Wars films in an hour. But it's great. For one, it's an achievement in pure stamina - I swear, this man must lose a stone in pure sweat every night because he puts everything into the performance, running round the stage creating galactic explosions one minute, swinging round an invisible lightsabre the next. More wonderful, though, is the love of the films that comes through. He doesn't do exact impressions of the actors or their parts, but picks on particular, and instantly recognisable characteristics, like Han's cowboy swagger, and Luke's constant whining. These are so accurately and funnily observed, that they could only be performed by a true fan. Plus, it's quite fun spotting which bits of the films he likes best, because he quotes them in full when it's really not necessary: 'We're fine, we're all fine here... how are you?.... Boring conversation anyway'. That's one of my personal favourites too. He also picks out tiny little quirks of the films which normally pass you by (who can name the only character to pronounce Leia "Leeah"?!) and it's that attention to detail which really makes the show. Problems? Really this isn't a show to dissect too much, but I guess some audience participation might be a welcome addition - I don't know about anyone else, but I was itching to shout 'No Luke, I am your father!". And 'He doesn't like you - I don't like you either'. But that one probably was just me.

Basically, the more you know and love the films, the more you'll enjoy this show, and if you've not seen them at all (and in which case, really, what are you doing reading this blog? ;) ) then it'll certainly be one of the the wierdest hours of your life.

EDIT: Ooooh, I forgot - on arrival at the theatre we were confronted by stormtroopers, Boba Fett and C3P0. Not something one would normally forget! It's a wonderful idea, as makes the night feel like a real event. Thank god for camera phones!

Me with C3PO:


Halt!


The actors go a bit too method...

Fun night :)

How Do Solve A Problem Like... giving the people what they want.

Not as snappy as the programme, title.... sorry. Basically, it's been announced that Connie Fisher will be performing 6 times a week, out of 8 performances. In terms of Connie's voice, this seems perfectly reasonable, but what worries me is that David Ian said on Breakfast this morning that it's the matinees that she'll miss. Surely children and families are both the people who voted for Connie to win, and those who will make up much of the audience on a Saturday afternoon. These people deserve to see the performer they spent their money to get on the stage, so I hope they think this through again.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Paul Fuzz on Gervais

And it ain't pretty. He's totally right, though.

Thursday Is The New Friday

Comedy-wise, of course. So, Extras, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Mock The Week - what did we think?

First Extras - I laughed out loud several times, and that really doesn't happen very often (except when watching Futurama, I've realised recently). Ashley Jenson was, if anything, funnier than last series, and I preferred her sections to Andy's. They're better together, though, and hopefully Andy's awful sitcom will fail and they'll be sat observing ludicrous A-listers together again soon. Talking of Andy's sitcom, and more his reactions/comments, it's hard not to just hear Ricky Gervais talking, so similar are Andy's beliefs to his own. I found his rants a little self-indulgent - and even a little churlish, seeing as though Gervais's own experience of the Beeb has clearly been very different to Andy's. Yup, it was certainly Maggie's exchanges with Orlando Bloom and the one-rung-up actress which made last night's episode so enjoyable.

Then That Mitchell and Webb Look - patchy but then isn't that the way of all sketch shows? There was real promise: the self-conscious Nazis were great, as were the 'Big Talk' and life insurance sketches. The best by far I thought, though, was the posh waiter sketch - haven't we all felt intimidated by 'the staff' when in classy restaurants? This made me laugh a lot. Shame that they copped out of the 'How Not What To Look Like' punchline - it was funny, and not offensive, I didn't think - and tacking the 'real-life' scene on the end felt unnecessary. If they'd really thought it was offensive, surely they just wouldn't have included it at all?

Lastly Mock The Week - which my nerves can't really handle. I know that they've probably seen the topics, and have been improvising for years, but it still amazes me. It's good to know that the BBC have decided to use this show as a jumping off point for emerging comics - Fringe Festival hit Russell Howard was on last night and more than held his own against the old hands like Clive Anderson.

Me And My Girl - Lyceum Theatre Sheffield, 14/09/06

Maybe it was because my journey did not require a monumental effort, but this was.... ok to pretty good. The main, insurmountable problem is, I think, that it's not all that good a musical. How 'Lambeth Walk' has survived where other middling sing-alongs haven't is beyond me (the rousing, irrepressibly cheery 'The Sun Has Got It's Hat' on is twice the song, and deserves its longevity, though) and it's got that 'change yourself to fit in and you'll be happy' message that seems to pervade musical theatre. Grease anyone?

But despite what I see as the inherent weakness of the songs (quite a major one, I realise), this is was far from terrible. Richard Frame - the go-to guy for a lovable lead - is as charismatic as he was in Promises, Promises, and his eponymous Lambeth girl, Sally, was played with real warmth and wit by Faye (Steps) Tozer. The supporting cast, including Dillie Keane and Sylvester McCoy, also showed game in throwing themselves into their rather silly (but fun) roles.

Two elements really stood out though - first the choreography. This production was both directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, and it showed - there was a real flow to the production visually, with little physical tics and motifs cropping up throughout the dances, and normal stage business. Secondly, the book, which has been updated by Stephen Fry, and my doesn't it just scream it. Fry's love of language and punnery ('Do you like Kipling?', 'I don't know, I've never Kipled') runs throughout, and is a real highlight of the show which went a little under-appreciated by the audience, I felt. This wasn't a brilliant production, because it simply isn't a brilliant musical, but it was saved, I think, by some lovely delivery of a rather wonderful script.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blogging with Blogger in Beta

Over here. Just for fun mind, don't go changing those bookmarks. Blogger Beta looks pretty nifty - tags (or 'labels', so that Blogger can feel as though they've invented something new, rather than just been slow), and you can edit the look of the blog really easily - dragging and dropping elements all over the place. And there's the option to add more content like a list of all your 'labels', feeds, sidebar photos and lists etc. Looks good, but I'll tell you when I find the inevitable disadvantages... :)

EDIT: I'm in love with Blogger Beta. I've got all new colours and fonts in about 30 seconds. Hurry up and change over, Mr Google!

EDIT 2: I'll post all my little discoveries at annawaitsbeta.blogspot.com rather than here, I think.

September 12th

If anything, I remember more about how I felt on September 12th 2001, than the day before. The day before I was just numb like everyone else, I guess. Over at Lisa's, she's told us where she was, and while I've commented, I just felt I wanted to post it over here, too - more for me than for anyone else.

I was at school when it actually happened, and I heard nothing. As I walked home, there was this household on the way that was always watching Friends as I passed, but this day they were clearly watching the news - there was the anchorman on the screen at the time. I remember it striking me as odd that they weren't watching Friends.

Then I wandered into the house and there were Paul and Becca on the sofa, eyes glued to the TV. I think they just pointed as the film of the towers falling was re-shown. 'They've bombed the f*cking Pentagon too' said Paul. Like everyone else, I just watched the rest of the night, the rest of the week. I was probably meant to go to ballet but I don't think I did. I remember thinking 'I wonder if this is big enough for the date to be remembered'.

The next morning was one of the strangest of my life. I remember meeting my friend in the playground and not knowing how to start the conversation. There was nothing else to talk about, but you could hardly start 'did you hear about...' Of course they heard. Then there was all the rumours of World War III and the like. My first lesson was History but noone could concentrate. We just sat there, completely spaced out.

Then things started to get back to normal, I guess, but in a pretty new world.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Sublime and the Ridiculous

For those who missed the Guardian's special feature yesterday, where famous photos were mocked up starring our best new comedians, here's a little selection to get you scrambling over to see the rest...
Jimmy Carr as Jack Nicholson



The Boosh as the BBC Test Card



Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as Vinnie Jones and Gazza


There's some great interviews, too, and my joke repertoire has grown substantially: Velcro - what a rip off.

Aftersun

Well that was... pleasant. Well-acted. Dull.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ooh, get me on TV Scoop!

Heehee. I still get excited about this sort of thing, sorry :)

Mark Shenton on Me And My Girl, Plymouth

On the Stage Newsblog:

"...it didn’t help, either, that our arrival in Plymouth hadn’t been exactly welcoming. All four of us critics had been booked into a rather down-at-heel hotel, the Astor; and then trying to eat at the Theatre Royal’s upstairs café meant dealing with what Charlie called a “Kafka-esque” ordering system in which all orders were taken at a counter by someone manning a solitary till, which took the best part of 15 minutes. Critics shouldn’t expect a red carpet to be rolled out for them – we’re members of the public with free tickets and a notebook, basically – but coming here involves a 7-hour round-trip by train, so it might have benefited the theatre’s management to have noticed we were there at all before we picked up our tickets from the theatre’s charming in-house PR. By then, even though she was as hospitable as she could be (and even rustled up some interval sandwiches to perk us up), the irritations had started building up. Now it wasn’t just memory that the show had to compete with, but the monumental effort of getting here and getting fed were counting against it, too."

Monumental effort??!! As you can imagine, I had something to say about that. Really, is a 7 hour round trip really an unfair price to pay for a fantastic job like he's got? Well, if Mr. Shenton can't face a trip up north, he can always delegate that work... :) The comments, by the way, have morphed into that age-old discussion about the 'essence' of blogs in general. And I'm afraid I contributed to it, but then we already know that I'm rather protective of the comment function...!

"Look who's a bird now!"

So the Arctic Monkeys got the Mercury (Music) Prize. Not entirely newsworthy as it was all but certain, but it does give me the opportunity to do my Official Monkeys Turnaround. I've hinted at it already, but it's time to be frank. I like the Arctic Monkeys. Quite a lot. A lot. Ok I think they're great and I was wrong, dammit! I WAS WRONG. A girl can change her mind....

Far from boring, they do really interesting things musically. I've still got problems with some of the lyrics (indie-snob anthem Fake Tales Of San Francisco especially) but the festival coverage suggests they're brilliant live, and, overall... well they're actually pretty special.

Enjoy this admission of fallibility, readers, it won't happen often.
Oooh, and I'll be around a little more now I've finished work. You're relieved, I know :)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rock 'n' Roll - Duke of York's Theatre, 20/08/06

I'm not sure I have the staying power for another 800 word marathon, so I'm going to keep this to the basics!(Again, some plot points are outlined).

Rock 'n' Roll, just like Sunday In The Park..., is just as good as everyone has made it out to be, and if you like to think that guys and gals with guitars really can make a difference, even when they're not trying to do so, well, you'll be in for life-affirming evening. Because that's essentially what this play's about - sure, there's plenty of theory spouted, especially by Brian Cox's world-weary Max (this is a Tom Stoppard play, after all, though I think I followed the debates about Communism better than I did the discussions in Jumpers...!) but the title shows where the heart is.

Jan, played by Rufus Sewell, is a quiet yet charismatic idealist who believes in the redemptive power of rock and roll - and he soon discovers that it's his love of music, rather than his dislike of the communist rulers of his home country Czechoslovakia, that will land him in trouble. Musicians , he explains in one of the key speeches, don't care about the authorities, they just want to be able to play, and that scares the hell out of those in charge. They can cope with the intelligentsia, the almost 'approved' opposition here represented by Jan's flatmate Ferdinand, but anyone who acts outside of the system is much more dangerous. In the end - both in real life and in the play - Czech band Plastic People Of The Universe were arrested and made an example of. It backfired, with press all over the world deriding the trial as a massive over-reaction, but the authorities learnt from their mistakes and started to allow concerts again: "Even Communist governments want to be popular", Jan says.

Sewell makes Jan an incredibly engaging and endearing centre to the play, and for me his was the standout performance. Sinead Cusack is wonderful too, playing Max's classics-obsessed wife Eleanor who struggles to reconcile her body's deterioration with her husband's belief that life and love are simply a series of bioligcal processes.

And, of course, there's one hell of a soundtrack.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sunday In The Park With George - Wyndam's Theatre, 19/08/06

NOTE: I go into a lot of detail here, so if you're thinking of going to see this, maybe wait until after you've gone before you read on!

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If ever the word 'delightful' can be attributed to a production, then this is surely it. I'm afraid I can't go against the grain of five star reviews for this, which started at the Mernier Chocolate Factory, but simply heap on praise, just like everyone else.

This Sondheim musical is one of two halves. The first shows us the story of how the eponymous Georges Seurat came to create his masterpiece Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Seurat, played by Daniel Evans (one of those performers you feel instantly at ease with), is a young genius in love with the beautiful if eccentric and endearing Dot (the consistently brilliant Jenna Russell), who dreams of being immortalised in a painting. Their relationship, however, follows the age-old course of many between artist and muse, and his lack of attention towards Dot ultimately drives her away, and into the arms of Louis the baker. He's lovely, and everyone loves him, as the song goes. He'll clearly look after her - and clearly she'll never be entirely happy, but when a baby is on the way (Seurat's), Dot knows who'll make the better father. Seurat is left behind, forever 'Finishing The Hat'.

In this half, particularly, the emotion, wit and warmth comes from Sondheim's songs, which are let down somewhat by the slightly cliched script by James Lapine. But the songs are wonderful. Sondheim captures brilliantly the genius at work - he has some first-hand experience in this, of course. In 'Colour And Light', he matches every manic stroke of Seurat's paintbrush with a staccato stab of sound from orchestra, but he shows an understanding of how hard it can be to care about an artist too. The title song, sung by Dot, shows her happily standing for hours in an uncomfortable bustle so that Seurat can work his magic, but this is later heart-breakingly contrasted with 'We Do Not Belong Together'. In both of these, Jenna Russell shows why she is the leading lady of choice at the moment - a clown one moment, tugging at the audience's heart-strings the next.

In the second half we are taken to the present day. In front of Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in a Chicago gallery, Seurat's great-grandson, (another George, and another celebrated artist, again played by Evans) is unveiling his laser and light installation, Chromolume #7, with his grand-mother Marie (Russell) as the guest of honour. Mark Lawson writes in the programme that critics and audiences alike have seen this George as a pale imitation of his name-sake, willing to sell himself to get a commission. But this seems a little simple. Just like his great-grandfather, George is obsessed with light - technology means he can literally use it for his art - and we even saw Seurat Snr. schmoozing with people he knew disliked his work. And if there's one opinion we can trust, it's that of Marie, who certainly has her mother's good soul, and she sings 'Mama you'd like him, mama you would/Mama he makes things, mama they're good'. At this stage though, George has certainly hit an artistic drought, and it takes a trip back to the Parisian park, and even a brief, century-spanning conversation with Dot to get him back to the exciting blank page with which the musical started. Dot was always trying get Seurat to 'connect' with the outside world, and the people around him, and while 21st century George may not be the genius his great-grandfather was, we see the wise and caring words of Marie overcome him, and know that it's this very connection that has given him the chance to make great work again.

The performances were, as you can probably guess, uniformly wonderful, but what was perhaps even more exciting to see was how brilliantly technology was used for the set and scenery. Timothy Bird and the Knifedge Creative Network designed and created the projections and animations for this production, which show on a grand scale what Seurat is doing on the canvas - when he rubs out what he doesn't like, so it disappears from the stage. It's wittily used too - an animated version of the dog in the painting is used to represent the real life inspiration, and one of the two soldiers which can be seen in the background of the painting is also a projection, which is nonetheless talked to and dragged around. In the second half, George gets to stand back and watch as several images of himself talk to as many possible investors as possible. Everything works perfectly, and you get the feeling that Sondheim and the two Georges would be very proud.

Ok, that's taken quite a long time - Rock 'n' Roll tomorrow, I think :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A few bits of news from Chortle.co.uk

Quickly becoming one of my favourite sites, Chortle tells me that Eddie Izzard will not play Sally Bowles in Cabaret, but instead the role will be taken by Anna Maxwell Martin - her of the National's production of His Dark Materials and Bleak House. Not an obvious choice, I wouldn't have thought, but we sure know the gal can act.

Also announced is the news that Zach Braff will be leaving at the end of the next series of Scrubs to work on films full time. Seeing as though the show is seen through his eyes (and mind) it's hard to see how they'd carry on...

Another piece of news that didn't come from Chortle, but could have done, is that the date for the release of The Mighty Boosh live DVD has been set for November 13th. So for all of us who missed them coming to town by about a week (not that I'm still annoyed or anything) we can catch up relatively soon. Get pre-ordering.

Sunday In The Park With George and Rock n Roll reviews, by the way, will probably not be forthcoming until Wednesday due to work and other such distractions - sorry :)

Anna's Fun Weekend In London

A post that does exactly what it says on the tin, this is about my fun weekend in London. Because weekends in London aren't always fun, sometimes they're a little frantic with fun bits.

First thing to do when we got to our fair capital was to try and get some theatre tickets for the evening, having Rock 'n' Roll tickets for the Sunday matinee already safely bought and stored. The ticket booths in Leicester Square (all, they proclaim, the official one) can get ridiculously busy, so we headed to a lesser known one on the corner between Shaftsbury Avenue and Monmouth Street and were five minutes later the proud owners of tickets for Sunday In The Park with George. Simple as.

(I'm not very good at these 'what I did' posts... this is virtually my first, I think. Just bear with me!)

Perhaps even more miraculous was that I had gone to London in the hope of getting some little pixie boots - and I did! Within about ten minutes of the beginning the search, too. Sometimes things just go right. Look! They're great, aren't they?!

The good luck continues! I've been wanting some Wayfarer style sunglasses for a while - well, if they're good enough for Bob...

...then they're good enough for me. Ebay's got a load, but the prices are pretty steep, and they're nowhere to be found on the highstreet, despite the fact that The Kooks, Razorlight and other such bands of an indie/Topshop-type persuasion are wearing them. But Urban Outfitters had some, and in the sale for five pounds! Wayfarers+boots+hat=happy Anna. It doesn't take much :)

The luck must run out, you cry! And how right you are. We arrived at the hotel at four - two hours after check in time - to walk into a clearly-not-ready room. Good old British customer care meant we received no apology, and instead had insult added to injury by having to sit in the foyer listening to panpipe versions of 'I've Had The Time Of My Life'. Urgggh.

But the Sunday In the Park that evening made up for it, as you'll see in my review below. A stunning piece of theatre in a venue (the Wyndham's) that's obviously seen a bit of Mr. Mackintosh's cash - plush seats, plenty of leg room, and air conditioning.

The next morning we set out for Somerset House, where you can sit on the terrace, drink some lovely coffee, and watch the world go by. Somehow this little haven has stayed a virtual secret, but I'll let you guys in on it, because you've stuck with this post so long. Then we headed off to the National Gallery and looked at Seurat (the painter focused on in Sunday In The Park) in a whole new way before going to the Duke of York's theatre for Rock 'n' Roll. There were autograph hunters stood by the stage door waiting for the stars - Sinead Cusack, Brian Cos and Rufus Sewell - to go in. Sure enough, Mr Sewell sauntered by with about half an hour to go, signed a programme (not mine, but he looks lovely and is therefore forgiven), and hurried inside. A few of the photographers hung around though, and looked very interested every time a taxi drew up... I still wonder who they were waiting for, but when it got to about ten minutes before the start of the show, we thought we'd better forgo a bit of star-spotting for a bit of drama instead. There were lots of people we vaguely recognised, though, and one we very definitely recognised (spotted by Mum) - none other than Loudon Wainwright III. Not interested in going to see his son at the V festival then ;). The play, by the way, was as brilliant as everyone says it is - again there's more in the review below.

And that's about it. Then we all went home and had tea, and all that. Great weekend though. Fun, you might say.

P.S. Reviews are to come soon...!! :D

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Late Edition

Two episodes of this have come from Edinburgh this week, and it's been great fun, though of course, it did make me insanely jealous :) Two sketch groups who featured called The Cowards and We Are Klang were both absolutely great, as were the Spaghetti Western Orchestra who I've heard nothing but praise for.

I've never actually watched the Late Edition before, but I'll try and stay awake from now on, as I really enjoyed it, though it'll clearly be different when the Fringe is over... I think I'll still like it, though. Obviously, it's just a little inspired by the Daily Show (ok, completely) but Marcus Brigstocke is no Jon Stewart. Who is, I guess. He's funny, and, importantly, informed, but he doesn't have the warmth that Stewart has - I always remember Paul telling me that when it was announced that Stewart was going to present the Academy Awards he said 'we're going to the Oscars'. Which was lovely. Plus he's just too damn left-wing, which limits the scope for comedy.... but to be quite honest I can't think of who I'd rather have presenting it, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Steve Furst (you know, this guy) who's played the guests this week is fantastic, too.

Charlie Brooker's US Screenwipe

Charlie alone to the camera: I hate everyone, everyone hates me, lots of swearing, oooh I'm angry.
Charlie with American focus group: Look! I'm happy and smiley and... English! You like the English, don't you?.... Love me.


Great show last night, though :)

Crap crappety crap crap

Is it just me, or is it only *very* recently that 'crap' has become an acceptable pre-watershed word? Maybe it's just that I was sheltered from it as a youngster, but I'm not convinced. Yesterday on FiveLive there was a c0nversation that went like this, pretty much word for word:
A: Do you think calling Bush crap will backfire on Mr. Prescott?
B: Well, he called the policy crap, he didn't call Bush himself crap.
A: Some of the papers are saying that he called Bush crap, though, aren't they?
B: Yes, crap crap crap.

Maybe not 'word for word', but you get the idea. I've no problem with this, really, just an observation...

Friday, August 11, 2006

In Praise of.... Des Lynam

On Countdown:

Susie Dent: There was 'porgies' for seven - a porgy is a small fish.
Des: Porgy and Bass!
Audience: *Silence*

Brilliant.

Turn Back Time

Well that was rubbish, wasn't it? Dara O'Briain was surprisingly unfunny and Terry Jones just spurted anecdotes in the hope that they had some sort of tenuous link to the 'Turn Back Time' theme. Just not good enough in this post-Annually Retentive world.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Reduced Shakespeare Company condense Star Wars

Yay!

In Praise of.... The Guardian's 'In Praise of....' column

We all know I like anything sunny and warm (Paul Fuzz and I have decided that the best Tom and Jerry cartoons are the ones where they get along), so I love this column. A little nugget of positivity nestled in between the 1000-word think-pieces and letters about film canisters, it has praised Doctor Who, the Fringe and, today, Monty Panesar.

I think I might just have to nick this idea for myself. Well, I guess I just did.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Edinburgh Fringe stufff

I was hoping I could give you some of this first hand, but as that seems less and less likely, you can join me at these various Fringe-related places:

thestage.co.uk/edinburgh - Scott's been working very hard so make it worth his while :)
guardian.co.uk/edinburgh - really good comprehensive mini-site
Dean - excitingly, Dean is reviewing comedy gigs for Chortle, and you can find all that good work, with added digressions here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Been away...

... back now though. Clearly. :)

Just in time to bring you news 0f some very exciting casting (Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel especially) for the first His Dark Materials film - probably to be called the American book title 'The Golden Compass', as opposed to Northern Lights - (via), and to say to Q - it's only a guilty pleasure if you're pretentious enough to hide what you like. Tut tut, I say, tut tut.



Good to be back, kids.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Becstar, The Fuzz and I won't enjoy this at all, oh no....

This, as in this. No, I won't enjoy it, I'm not already looking forward to it, I'm not sorting out my outfit months early, I'm not thinking about whether we'll get to meet him, and what I'd say, and what he'd say, and whether Julian'd be there....


No, I'm barely thinking about it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Story of Light Entertainment - Double Acts

Good job this was so comprehensive (that can, to some extent, be read as 'long') because for those of us interested in tv there wasn't a whole lot of new information - Eric and Ernie didn't originately want to share a bed on national tv? Well I never.... But it was a decent summing-up exercise, and Stephen Fry could read the phone book (maybe he will) and I'd listen. Good to have the story brought up to date with Ant and Dec and Vic and Bob, too, though they did miss a trick not mentioning the Boosh (oh yes, them again) who are the true successors to 'talking heads' double acts like Pete and Dud. There's a genuine connection, they love to make each other laugh and, importantly, Vince and Howard are - as Noel Fielding has pointed out - essentially Noel and Julian Barratt 'plus ten percent'. Instead, they seemed to suggest that this particular line of succession ends at Little Britain, but I'm not sure that's right. It's a sketch show which happens to have just two regulars... but I'm biased, I guess. :)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

David Walliams for BBC Sports Personality of the Year?

He's in 3rd place in the betting at the moment, and goodness knows he deserves it more than most of our under-achieving, over-paid "professionals".

*Hyperventilates*

Do you think this might just suit me? Just the five and a half grand to find then....

The Sparklies

Oh bless those david-tennant.commers. Who else would set up a Doctor Who poll in which Best Tie, Best Use of Glasses and Best Ruffle (of the hair) are placed alongside the usual categories? It's actually all a great re-cap of those little moments which made the series - especially some great quotes.

Coolest Man In The World, nomination #2

Wayne Coyne was the first one, and he's still impossibly cool, obviously, but now I've finally *got* Bill Nighy -

about two years after most people, admittedly. He was on Richard and Judy yesterday and he really was the funniest, most charming interviewee I've seen in a long long time.

And he pulls off those glasses in a way I thought only Mr. Folds:

and Mr. Tennant were able....


So all hail Bill Nighy and his film saving ability (see Love Actually and Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy among others). Perhaps go see Stormbreaker, which promises to be a classy, high concept British film - and that can only be a good thing.