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. :)