Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Fun Night in Moseley.

Last night I started to take advantage of my evenings now being free of teaching, and went along to the Comedy Kav in Moseley for the "Tea Tray and Spoon" new act competition.

Earlier in the day, I'd phoned my friend the Tony Blair impersonator, Tom Skehan, and he said he would come along. And come along he did. And who else came in to join us at the back to watch at a safe distance? Andy White! I think we enjoyed the show. We certainly enjoyed discussing the show... as much as was possible without talking loudly and disturbing other nearby punters.

I actually thought that I'd make notes on the acts for a full review of the show in this blog. I gave up that idea quite soon. I didn't have enough elbow room for making notes in my little notebook... PLUS the acts didn't really deserve that level of attention.

I enjoy watching new acts - in general, I mean - I DON'T enjoy watching ALL new acts. It's not that new acts are poor. I don't mind that. That's to be expected. What turns me off is when new acts are BORING... Tired wordplay and cliched observations on subjects you've heard comedians talk about too many times already.

The winner last night was Jo Coffey. Second was Sean Moran. Third was Johnny Sorrow. I can't say that I agreed with the result. I think that Sean should have got it. But Tom talk me earlier that a woman would stand a good chance of winning, as other women would vote for her.

As usual, James Cook did a great job as MC. I hadn't seen him work for a while and it was pleasing to see him in such good form. He kept the enjoyment going though the evening with bits and pieces of good new material and quiz questions to the audience.

Eleven o'clock came and we wound our way home. I need more nights like that - out seeing what other comedians are doing - and shall try to show my face at more local-ish comedy clubs over the next few months.

p.s. I took the above photo with my new mobile phone. It was the best of the twelve I snapped during the show. It actually shows Johnny Sorrow, but you can't tell that from the picture.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Roll On Tuesday 19th September! (7pm - 9pm)

This morning the postman brought news from Stratford-upon-Avon College. You can see the COMPLETE contents of that mail above. It is the timetable of classes for my next ten week Comedy Writing course. (By the way... If you left-click on the picture, you can see an enlargement that you can read.)

Exciting News! The previous term that ended in March was the first for a few years, and was in many ways the best I have presented to date, and makes me realise that there is better yet to come.

I now have a better view of what can and should be done in ten weeks, and particularly in ten two-hour sessions. Students in September can expect a course for which there has been much fresh preparation, and the best elements of previous courses will be combined with a new emphasis, particularly for the first few classes.

So much of courses to date has concentrated on the TECHNIQUE of comedy writing. In September I will be working harder on helping students with the MENTALITY of comedy writing.

What do I mean by that? Come along on Tuesday 19th September and find out. It's going to be good. I promise!

And as usual, we'll be going for a beer afterwards.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Don't Neglect The Popular Culture Of Your Past.

Returning to the old television, movies, books, comics, etc. that we enjoyed in our youth can reconnect us to those positive feeling we had at that stage of our lives, and makes us realize that inside we're the same as we always were...

Excitement, enthusiasm, optimism - and occasional energy - aren't exclusive to the under 40's.

For the last few days I've been immersing myself in my Bilko DVD boxset, and it's done me so much good that the 21 episodes on the DVDs haven't been enough. I've also dug out the episodes that I have on home recorded video tapes and I've been enjoying them too. Only a hundred and a bit more episodes to go! Let's see how long it takes to get though them all.

It's always the case that you should learn from the best. I plan to be writing the pilot of my own radio sitcom over the summer - That's my plan!!! - and I'm looking forward to seeing if I can generate the same kind of funny stories and snappy, witty dialogue for myself.

It's too hot to go outside. I'm being positive, and staying in to watch telly.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Phil Silvers... Respect!!!

OK... Just what HAVE I been doing since my previous posting three weeks ago?

'Not enough of the RIGHT things... and too much of the WRONG things' is the best answer to that, but I HAVE been busy... I've bought a new car, I've been preparing my maths pupils for their GCSE examinations (Paper 1 today!), I've had a friend to stay, I've been playing Internet Hearts on my pc...

Oh... AND (as always) I've been watching more comedy DVDs. In the last few weeks, I've got my hands on both series of the TV sitcom Nightingales, a Mae West boxset, and yesterday saw the arrival of "Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show 50th Anniversary Edition".

There are few comedy performers that are absolutely and consistently brilliant and who dominate all their time on the TV screen so completely, but Phil Silvers was one of those and probably THE best. In homegrown TV comedy, only Leonard Rossiter came close to producing the same magic.

Bilko is comedy I grew up with, and was the first TV comedy in the video age that I knew I must record to keep and treasure. When I was a post-grad student in Edinburgh in 1987, I remember phoning my parents in Norwich with instructions for recording the next Bilko show.

When at last I had a VCR of my own, I took up the archiving duties for myself, and I'm proud to say that I have a recording of all the 137 episodes that have been shown on the BBC. A little job for my new DVD recorder will be to transfer all of those to disc.

That should keep me from the harder task of writing for a good while.