29 August 2005

Snuff Movie

Snuff Movie kept every guessing until the very final seconds of the film to try to understand it. Written and directed by Bernard Rose (of Candyman fame) the plot is very twisted and you often feel split as to what is actually happening and that's exactly where the problem lies. Because you are detached trying to think about the (not especially graphic) scenes you are seeing in relation to the overall plot, you never feel engrossed in the movie or empathise with any of the characters. You always expect that you'll be fooled (again) any second now. For the final 10 minutes I think I figured out what the medium sized plot was all about (either that or their was a prop goof) but while I was 99% sure, I had no idea how to explain it or how it fitted in with the entire film. That may sound complicated and convoluted but believe me, the script really is. Well shot and well acted, but just not scary, even on a simple gore level (watch Haute Tension for that). Still worth watching for the clever story.

28 August 2005

Perrier Comedy Awards 2005

Chris Addison snubbed the show and quite rightly. He was favourite last year and this year and instead they give it to an actress who's a newcomer to boot! The winner, Laura Solon, was awful. She seems to be a vaguely talented actress but she has no comic ability in her. The audience were silent for her various pieces. If you unable to interact with the audience (i.e. you never break the fourth wall or you pretend to be in front of a group of female friends) then you should not be eligible for a nomination. That would rule out Laura and Dutch Elm but still allow the likes of The Pub Landlord and Otis Lee Crenshaw to still win. As for the rest of the show, well... Dutch Elm Conservatoire seemed interesting but they are a comedy play and couldn't trim their hour show into 15 minutes. Jason Manford used some very old material, I heard Sean Hughes do it 10 years ago. Then he did a few minutes on how ugly Man Utd players are - everyone gets this rubbish in their inbox each day and deletes them! I walked out the fourth time Laura Solon came on so I missed the character act "Jermey Lion" and so can't comment although the other reviews of him from Edfringe.com are not complimentary. All in all the worse comedy show I've seen all year. Robin Ince hosted it and some of his material was okay but the rest was weak (yet another comic doing trite material about We Are Not Afraid.com and Gillian Mackeith, sigh). The biggest disappointment of course was last Wednesday when the nominees came out and Phil Nichol wasn't on it (ditto for Andrew Maxwell). Politics robbed the show of people with actual talent. Could this be the end of the Perrier Awards as a credible title? I bumped into Daniel Kitson far away from the venue and said to him it was re-assuring to see him so I knew there are people out there with genuine talent.

P

P is mid-ranking story of witchcraft and evil spirits. A young Thai girl has to go to the city to pay for care for her grandmother (back in the “jungle”) and so gets a job in a brothel / show bar for tourists. After being shunned she uses the spells her gran taught her to inflict great pain on the nasty people. She then breaks all three of the golden rules and the magic turns evil and takes her form to murder people at night and feast on their blood. Nothing surprising or original to be honest about this film, other than the setting (Thailand). Well made but watch The Exorcist or even Carrie instead.

27 August 2005

Antik├Ârper (Antibodies)

Antik├Ârper is very slick German serial killer film that keeps you thinking all the way through the film. The film starts with the brutal capturing of the serial killer and then takes us to a small German town which is the focal point of the film. A young girl was killed there and the part time policeman believes it was the serial killer but the murder doesn't fully match the profile of his other crimes. The local policeman goes to see the serial killer to try to resolve the nagging doubt but instead gets dragged into mind games with the killer. As the film progresses our hero starts witnessing evil all around and inside himself and the serial killer takes each confrontation to the next level. A lot better and more believable that Se7en (which I didn't think was too scary and the ending was a bit too predictable), Christian Alvart really does keep you guessing as to how the film is going to turn out. As good as Lola Rennt(Run Lola Run) – go out of your way to watch this.

Phil Nichol - Nearly Gay

Awesome show from a man with phenomenal energy. I hummed and harred regarding booking this show as I knew he would be a strong favourite to win the Perrier (and a certainty to be nominated). It's a good job that I did book as not only did politics rob him of a justifable award but I also would have missed out on one of the best shows of the year. The whole act is a story of him trying to reason with himself over another comic, Scott Capuro, attacking him on stage in Edinburgh seven years ago calling him a homophobe. Phil is a great actor (nominated for Best Actor in the Fringe this year for his other play) and it really shows as you believe his character transformations during his story from everyone from his father to Brendon Burns and a bitchy receptionist at a gay hair studio. A great voyage and very funny, I guess telling stories about gayer-than-gay sex, cocaine taking and horrific genital injuries is just too much for the nicey-nicey Perrier Awards (sponsored by the Evil™ Nestle).

25 August 2005

Dominion - Prequel to the Exorcist

This film gets a bit of leeway because there are two scenes using CGIs and because of the post-production costs they are not very impressive. The reason for that is this film was scripted and produced then scrapped. It has nothing to do with the Studio system (as Paul Schrader went to great lengths to explain), instead one man financed this film and when he saw the final (pre-post-production) cut he decided it wasn't what he was after (even though he approved the script), sacked the director and did some re-shooting. The re-shoots lasted 2 weeks, then 4 weeks, then 6 weeks, then are hell let's just re-shoot the entire film. This version is quite good, it retains several key ingredients from The Exorcist and is a worthy prequel as it does make you think on a few occasions. The next stage is to watch the second version and see how badly it compares to this one. I guess the most enjoyable part of this experience was hearing the director explain what happened and for the first time ever we'll get to see the same film made with the saem cast and crew but just a different director and a different focus. Rent the pair of them when it comes out on DVD in October but if you actually want a horror film (rather than a Film Studies session), rent the Directors Cut of The Exorcist and be amazed (one of my favourite films of all time).

Gypo

The first and only film British film made to the Dogme principles. Heard everyone of all ages (including Dave Fulton) coming out of this film (before I went in to see the appaling Robert Carmichael) chatting saying that this film was "excellent". As if further proof were needed, take a look at IMDB. If you ignore the erronious overall rating and look into the details you will find over 75% of people rating it gave it a 10/10 mark. In fact it has also been selected as "Best of the Film Fest" and is being screened on Sunday. Just a quick word about IMDB's vote calculator. To avoid "vote stuffing" they tend to lessen the value of the 10s or the 1s. Gypo received 16 10s and and few 1s and 2s. Somehow it got a calculated value of 3.7! Robert Carmichael on the other hand was split between 50% giving it 1s and the other half giving it 8s 9s or 10s giving it a "calculated" 6.7! The moral of the story is look deeper than the front page single value (and watch Gypo!).

The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael

Utter rubbish. Out of all the "emperor's new clothes" films I've seen, this is the worst. The plot is paper thin, the dialogue flat and one-dimensional, the acting is so wooden as the actors are very green. The only reason why this film made it to Edinburgh is because they added in a "let's shock 'em and get publicity" scene at the end. The reaction they got was an unimpressed "that was a waste of nearly two hours" rather than the shocked one they hoped for. In the Q&A afterwards they admitted they were looking to provoke a reaction and also avoided any questions on what was the purpose of the film (to make a point or simple shock/entertain). Instead the director tried to hide behind the "I just create art, you define what it is" crap. A obviously intelligent reviewer over at IMDB (username Chris_Docker) makes an excellent closing argument: "Andy Warhol could paint a tin of soup and it was art. Clay Hugh would like to emulate the great directors that have made controversial cinema and pushed boundaries. Sadly, his ability at the moment only extends to making high-sounding excuses for a publicity-seeking film". Avoid at all costs (although I sincerely don't think it'll make your nearest cinema!) and don't talk about it as it feeds it publicity. Even Dominion has a better and stronger "anti-war" message.

24 August 2005

Perrier and Writers Awards 2005

Robert Newman just missed out on The Writers' Guild award for Best Scripted Comedy. Instead it went to Dan Tetsell for a show about his grandfather being an SS officer. The Fairtrade Dubble Act Award went to The Pajama Men who were also nominated for Best Newcomers last year (under the name Sabotage). The Perrier Nominees will be out imminently (the panel are apparently locked in discussion and have been since 9am this morning). Word on the street is Chris Addison and Phil Nichol should be nominated, possibly with Tim Minchin and Will Smith too (if he's managed to stay in character and trim his act since I saw him). That would be a relatively strong line up for my Sunday evening entertainment (and annoy my friends who have tickets to see Chris on Sunday but he'd have to cancel!) but nowhere near as strong as previous years. Only a matter of minutes until the final five are released to the world. In the meantime the most laughable name I've heard mooted for the list (by a stupid gambling website) was Lucy Porter! The Perrier Nominees have to be very very good and original, the winner has to be world class. The Evening News describes Lucy Porter as "her material is rarely knockout - more smile-along-funny than split-your-sides hilarious". Anyway, enough about her, I'm just interested in how many of the five nominees I'll have seen...

UPDATED: Wow, I'm very surpised at the final listing. Chris Addison is the favourite but Laura Solon (Kopfrapers Syndrome) is a newcomer (although a strong entery) which has its own award. Jeremy Lion (Justin Edwards) is a shock to me as character comedy has been over-yped the past few years (Pub Landlord, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Jackson's Way) and Jason Manford's 'Urban Legend' has been described as a nice slant but on an unorginal material (and he's yet another newcomer). Andrew Maxwell and Phil Nichol both miss out which is a big shock (Phil more than Andrew). Completing the list is Dutch Elm Conservatoire with 'Conspiracy', which is almost a comic play, sort-of. Tim Minchin only made the Newcomers Award shortlist alongside Mark Watson. My money has been on nice and safe, second time lucky Chris Addison. Bring on Saturday.

23 August 2005

Animal "Rights" Protesters Shut Guinea Pig Farm

This is just plain wrong. Instead of petitioning to get monkeys the right to vote, some activists have made so many threats to the people behind a guinea pig farm that breeds them for medical research that they've decided to close. I'm disgusted. What else can you do with guinea pigs except use them in new experiments? It's their destiny, that's what they are, guinea pigs. If I woke up as a child and asked my dad, "Dad, what am I?" and the response came back "You're a Crash Test Dummy son", then I'd know what future lay ahead for me. I certainly wouldn't go thinking about becoming Prime Minister.

18 August 2005

Demetri Martin – These Are Jokes

Got a free ticket to see him last night, paid to see him tonight. I would have gladly paid £10 each night to see him perform. Put simply this guy is exceptional, he told jokes to us while playing a glockenspiel with one hand and a keyboard with the other. The show opened with him playing a harmonic, strumming a guitar and with his right foot playing a mini keyboard! Consistently up there as one of the best comics on the circuit. His first (Perrier Award Winning) show was “If I” which was an introspective look at himself and his life up until he got into comedy. Last year he performed “Spiral Bound”, a surreal story about being trapped in his note book and he couldn't escape until he changed. This year, possibly due to his work commitment writing for Conan O Brian, he performs “These Are Jokes”, an eclectic ramble of excellent observations and highly intelligent manipulations of our language (Strathmore Still Spring Water, after all these years). Okay it wasn't quite as good as his last two shows but it was almost as good as Steven Wright's legendary performances (and that's not bad for a 32 year old). Jimmy Carr was their the first night and if I was Jimmy I'd go home and cry having seen the talent and wealth of material Demetri manages to conjure up (no cheap puns such as “fattist” in sight!). Best of the festival so far, with Robert Newman and Chris Addison tied for second.

17 August 2005

Crash - You Can't Crash When Involved In This Type Of Race

Tonight's film was the highly advertised and reasonably well praised Crash. First off the loose connection relating to car crashes is just that - loose. The whole film revolves around race and of course racism. My initial concern was when I saw the running time of 1 hour 57 minutes. Having walked out I can honestly say it didn't drag at all. As there are eight main characters and they only slightly overlap with each other, their on-screen time is limited so you don't get bored by their stories. The various plots are nicely woven together and twist and turn quite delightfully. At one major point I feared the whole story was going to be ruined by a stupid and trashes plot twist but boy was I wrong. I sat there stunned as they totally fooled me in two consecutive sequences, raising their game just as you felt the various ending may suddenly become typical Hollywood trash. All in all I heartedly recommend this film, from the light humour at the beginning, through the moral issues raised and all the way to satisfactory resolutions of all the character's journeys. Once or twice you have to suspend disbelief a little bit (people being in the wrong place at the wrong time) but nowhere near as much as another mainstream film. The only downside is towards the end where a major plot twist is re-explained for very stupid people and then (much to my disgust during the film), re-explained by another character and shoved right in your face. The cinema groaned at this point and I (uncharacteristically) yelled out an expletive/heckle. Drop this one scene and the film is definitely worth 9/10. With it in it still gets an "excellent", but only 8/10. Still go and see it though.

12 August 2005

Y? Because They're Worth It...

Anybody who's willing to go up on a 60' ladder and force open windows with gallons of smoke pouring out into their face is worth at least £30,000 a year in my view. I knew a girl once (honest) that joined the Fire Brigade and she was put through the most intense tests and army like training to make sure she could hack it. Anywho, on to the story. On a quiet Friday evening my televisual viewing was interupted by the piercing sirens of the emergency services. Looking out of my kitchen window I thought, "Hmmm, the flat behind me is on fire". I have great pleasure in sharing with you all my images of this heroic action by the boys (and girls) in the big red trucks. I never saw anyone get treated by the ambulances which is always a good thing. All the action happened between 8.45pm and 9.15pm and then it took around another 45 minutes to clear the area.

Dara O'Briain

Much bigger venue than last year, infact he's playing in the biggest venue the festival has (as far as I know). Hundreds of people will be coming to see him having seen him on HIGNFY and the rather weak Mock The Week - usually not a good sign. Before I start, let me say that Dara is a first class stand-up with incredible speed of thought. Then let me say that for this performance he was high on painkillers as he's just had knee surgery (and has to walk with a crutch). All in all, I think the show was good. It wasn't as good as Chris Addison as he had so much more material, rather than anicdotes. Dara made us laugh all the way through but we never burst into uncontrollable belly-laughter. The only real downside was that the final two segments were about a joke he made during HIGNFY and his appearence on Room 101. Both of these events I witnessed so it was disappointing not to hear anything new for the final 20 minutes or so. That said, it was still a thouroughly enjoyable show, deserving of four stars out of five (the same as Newsrevue or Jeff Green from last year).

10 August 2005

Whose Fish Is This? I Know

Pre-dating Eddie Izzard's idea for the gameshow "Whose Pig Is This?", there is a logic puzzle where you have to work out who owns the fish. Despite the story, it was not created by Albert Einstein. If you can solve it within 20 minutes you are suposed to be in the most intelligent 2% of the world. I did, but after all I was also in Mensa! Enough self praise, test your logic abilities... I can confirm the answer if you want to email me.

There are five houses in a row in different colors. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. The five owners drink a different drink, smoke a different brand of cigar and keep a different pet, one of which is a Walleye Pike. The question is -- who owns the fish?

Hints:
1. The Brit lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
5. The green house owner drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Malls keeps birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhills.
8. The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk.
9. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
10. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhills.
12. The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Princes.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

8 August 2005

Newsrevue 24/7

Started and closed very strongly which is important. Last year the show was in Chambers Street and it was great. This year they have gone with the un-tried former Odeon on Clerk Street and it sucks, big time. Basically the stage is **considerably** lower than the front row of seats meaning everyone bar the front row has an impaired vision of anything low down. Very poor deisgn by the venue and I'm sure the performers are annoyed with it (as it costs them around £200 per show). As for the show, as I said it opened very strongly with a Queen song covering the Pope's death. After that the show seem to dip quite a bit, the non-musical sketches were quite weak and very predicable. You could have easily believed you were watching a Sixth Form School Show. After a few more musical numbers the quaility really picked up and then they pulled out two great spoken pieces, one about the new Doctor Who being a ponce, the other about the ridiculous villians in Eastenders. In between was a great song about middle class mothers in 4x4 (a recurring them this festival) and the show closed with an excellent rendition of Star Treking by George Dubya and Co. With two exceptions, if you cut the non-musical bits out the show would be excellent but only 40 minutes. With them in I'll give them "very good" and clarify that I'm not disappointed I went to see it, even though I saw them last year and missed out on going to see the Umbilical Brothers. If you've never seen them then there's no time like the present, you never know if they'll be performing next year (that's a joke, they hold the World Record for longest running comedy show).

7 August 2005

Danny Bhoy

Very good observational stuff from the best Scottish Comidean (I'm not a fan of Frankie Boyle and Billy Connolly is phenomeally over-rated). Very calm and relaxed on stage, clearly being doing it for years. It wasn't a performance, more a friend ellaborating on his amusing thoughts. Interesting he started with the news that the WHO have declared the Scottish diet to be the worst in the world. That's worse thatn all the African countries some many people are starving! While his show was very enjoyable, he reminded me of Jeff Green who we saw last year. Very comfortable and un-aggressive but you felt it could have been raised to another level and you never really laughed with your whole belly. Don't get me wrong it is a good show, better than I expected and he's a lot more entertaining than Omid Djalili. It's just not great. The best two gags were from what he claimed to be true stories. The first was about flying on a propellar plane in Australia where the minor next to him pulled out a hardcore porn mag, the second (and last routine of the night) involved a urinal in one of the pubs in Edinburgh were someone had scribbled on to the tiles "Express Lane - 5 Beers Or Less Only". There were a few young teenagers in the audience and there really was no problem with the being there (just a handful of fecks). That says a lot as some many other comics really on excessive bad language to get cheap laughs (and I'm not talking split infinitives here).

Gamarjobat - A Shut Up Comedy from Japan

Great silent comedy that transcends language - thoroughly enjoyable. The opening 20 minutes was exceptional. Some great visual gags, magic tricks, mime and performance art (like going down escalators). Really and truly belly-shakingly funny for any age and any language. The only thing I'd prefer is to be in a better venue as the design of the former Odeon in Clerk Street is just moronic. The stage should have been raised consdierable higher so everyone could see (although on a few things happened low down). After the opening piece in suits there is a long Rocky story which occassionally slows but picks up with several funny moments. It would have been better if they trimmed the boxer routine down to 30 mins and finished with a final 10 minutes of insane clowning around like they did at the beginning. There is more than enough to make everyone leave feeling statified, even if the boxer routine drags on too long. Unmissable is you want very clean, simple fun (a real rarity and nice change not to hear feck during a festival show) or like similar (but physically less impressive clowning) such as Men In Coats.

Screwmachine

Screw the Cavalcade and screw Rock Steady Security. We couldn't cross Princes Street at the crossing point (other people had been waiting for an hour so we couldn't get to the show). I wanted to see my old friend Mike McShane (I hear he's really put on weight).

Best of the Fest (6th Aug)

Standing on George Street at Midnight I got chatting with one of the Assembly Rooms' staff and he told me the previous night the audience were waiting outside for 57 minutes! We only had to wait 15 minutes and saw Andy Parsons leaving the venue and Rob Gilbert arriving. Last year we had to wait an hour to see Lucy Porter and believe me she wasn't worth it, she was totally devoid of jokes and any thing resembling material. Guess who was on Best of the Fest ... Lucy Porter. Oh yeah and Chris Addison who we'd just seen 3 hours ago. There were others though, notable Stewart Lee headlining it so I was happy. Eddie Perfect started off and was okay, KT felt he was a far better musician than a comic. After another bomb by Lucy Porter we had the Welsh Rob Gilbert. There were several sustained belly laughing moments regading cheap airline travel and then he starting talking about stalking people. He asked if there were any stalkers in and got a decent response. "What do you like about stalking, my friend?" he asked someone in the balcony. "I don't know your friend" came the immediate response. Excellent. The show climaxed with Stewart Lee, a great comic who I was annoyed I missed by chosing Omid Djalili over him. His delivery was quite slow tonight, either because of a few drinks, or the fact that he started at 1.45am, or maybe he's just slowed down in recent years. The crowd seemed to have tied too (just like for Jimeoin's headline piece last night) but he was still a pleasure to see. Despite the number of comics I do feel a bit let down with both multi-comic shows. If I'd paid 10 a ticket I'd be very annoyed but I suppose it was actually worth a fiver. Talked briefly about Joe Pasquale stealing the material of circuit comics, likewise when Jimmy Carr for sued Jim Davidson last year for stealing his "fattist" joke. I'm not impressed by Jimmy Carr, I find his interaction with the audience very scripted and rigid and his material is also too similar and quite often predicatable. In light of that I was very amused when Stewart continued with "although, if Jim Davidson wants to steal your jokes that means it's time to get new material". Nice final joke to close the night out with, a simple switch regarding the TV coverage of the Pope's funeral and Camilla's wedding which was to be on the same day. He ended with the line "on one hand you want to see a wrinkled old corpse ... I'm not going to patronise you and finish that joke off. Good night!".

6 August 2005

Robin Ince - As Dumb As You

First time I've ever seen a comic based on another comic's reccomendation and probably the last. While a lot of his material is good it needs a lot more polishing and his presentation really needs working on. He really needed a projector as showing us print outs from the internet didn't work for me. He also messed up one big callback gag near the end by not seeding it in the opening 10 minutes. The show was also cut and lasted only 50 minutes - it seems he thought (incorrectly) he was running long so cut a decent chunk out bit. As I did say he did have some funny stuff and I can't complain too hard about a show that slates the Daily Mail and Gillian McKeith throughout (Gillian's new thing is the rainbow diet as she thinks similar coloured foods have similar benefits so she "reccomends" having every colour of the raindbow each day. I've got news for you Gillian, Skittles aren't good for you!). The best line in the whole piece was when he said he was in the US and messed up and was looked by a North American with a look of derision, "which is the lowest insult in the world". Definitely worth looking at again next year, maybe skip him year.

Mark Watson - 50 Years Before Death

Never seen a comedian like him, literally. That's probably because I never saw him. We arrived and the guy said I've got space for one more and I said to KT "it's okay, I'll grab this chair". The doorman then elaborate saying "no, I've only got space for one more and then I'm at capacity". As we stood there all looking flummoxed, 8 more people walking up the stairs holding tickets. 10 minutes later following a brief chat with the supervisor of the box office it seems the venue's computer said they'd sold 50 tickets (capacity of 60) yet the girl from the ground floor had 59 correct stubs. Then there were KT, me and 8 others! We traded our tickets in for some to see Robin Ince on the recommendation of Chris Addison earlier.

Chris Addison - Atomicity

Very fast paced stuff from a man with buckets of material. The strongest act I've seen in any festival, after of course Dara O'Briain and at number one Demetri Martin. The show revolves around the periodic table of elements (cool I hear some of you cry, others just cry). We journey with him through several tangents to try to discover what this iconic chemistry poster means to our lives. Chris is clearly very intelligent (although not a science boffin) and the show is incredibly well researched and rehearsed. Nobody could tell it was only his third night doing this show (in Edinburgh, he did admit to trying it out somewhere near London). This is excellent value for you ten pounds. Very brief highlights (not important gags) include the Queen opening parliament and reading "my government intend to bring in the following bills what the copied fom the Daily Mail". He also out-witted us all after we groaned at "now the Bronze Age was the third best age of all time". Excellent stuff, my first "must see".

5 August 2005

Will Smith - Misplaced Childhood

Heard him last year on BBC Four's broadcast from the festival and in his 10 minute bit he was quite good and very posh (what do you expect if you live in Jersey?). He's won a few nominations and a newcomer award over the past year so I decided to give him ago. Although it seems like I'm setting you up for a fall I'm not, he was quite good although there are two key areas the ruined the show. First off he over ran by 15 minutes which meant that his material looked thin and it seemed like he was wandering at times. The second is far more important - he broke character far too many times! There is a word used in "professional" wrestling circles (i.e. scripted, not like amateur stuff in the Olympics) called "kayfabe". That basically means staying in (good or bad) character and it applies when being interviewed or arriving at the venue et cetera. To break kayfabe is very naughty indeed. Now imagine how noticeable it would be if one of them broke kayfabe during a performance. Will Smith's character is a slightly twisted version of himself that is trying to resolve issues with his "misplaced childhood" and suppress and bad thoughts or experiences (e.g. losing his first true love). Sadly he broke kayfabe all throughout his show. He seemed to be in character for 5 minutes and dissolve out of it for the next five. After the pieces of VT he showed us he was very much back in character but he'd slowly drift out of this excitable inner child ("I'm the winner!") to a more mundane, documentary like persona that he's really like. His props clearly took a long time to prepare (especially VT of him interviewing Fish, the lead singer of some rock band called Marillion). If he tightens up his performance (after all this was just a preview) and stays in character throughout it will be a thoroughly enjoyable show. Instead we had to give a few benefits of the doubt and (ironically) use are imagination to see the imaginary world of the character he was trying to project.

Festival Irritations

I don't want free tickets to see shitty comic character, I want to continue my conversation with my friends in peace! If you can't give the free tickets away to other people, what makes you think I'd want them? Sigh. In other news, what sort of idiot takes an 18 month old baby to a comedy show??? Not only did they interupt Omid's performance (nice break though) they also sat there not wanting to take it outside until the show basically ground to a halt. I want to park near my flat too, damn Tattoo.

Omid Djalili - No Agenda

Straight off I have to say I was disappointed with this show. I've seen Omid doing good honest stand up in the late 90s and he was pretty good. Tonight's show let me down from the beginning The venue was the Pleasance Sports Hall seating over 200 people which started alarm bells ringing. I'd heard his first 15 minutes before on the various stand up shows on Paramount which means it wasn't new material. Likewise an end segment regarding middle class mothers. Omid was born and brought up in London to an Iranian family and a large segment of his act was about the Middle East but with very few jokes in it. He peppered this with several different accents (which he's very good at) and a few showbiz stories. I think what really disappointed me was that he performed for an hour as a showbiz entertainer, not a stand up comic. He jokes were very simple, not political (see Robert Newman) or intelligent (see Danniel Kitson or Demetri Martin), and the punchlines were not really a surprise. Several gags were just callbacks to silly noises or aggressive shouts of swearing. I don't believe he has done much comedy since his big tour of 2002 (Behind Enemy Lines), instead he's been acting in films and on TV in the US. Very similar to when Eddie Izzard did his Circle tour, he spent three years acting and then when he jumped back into stand up he was very rusty. I chose Omid over Stewar Lee to see tonight (same time) and I regret it (I'll have to try doubley hard to see Stewart Lee for a sensible price). That said the £7 was almost justified by one 5 minute story regarding slapping heads in a cinema - the only time I laughed (rather than smiled) during the show and it was a big, hysterical belly laugh. Great payoff of to the story.

4 August 2005

Danniel Kitson

Winner of the Perrier Award 2002 returns to The Stand with a longer than normal show (1.25 hours which actually wnet on to 1.5 on the first night). He said he hadn't looked at the show for a week but you really couldn't tell. Obviously when you have a stutter you get away with momentary lapses of memory! Danniel is a very interesting Yorkshireman. Several of his quips sound like a mixture of some of Steve Coogan's characters and The Office's David Brent (not a big fan of either). The difference here though is Danniel is very intelligent and this sort of brilliance far outshines the over-running cringe "humour" of The Office. One such example is when he mentioned his friend and hiself use "ironical racism" and later when mocking the Scottish accent he said "I have a scottish friend in my circle of friends and we treat him very much like we would a black friend; it shows how liberal we are". His observations, delivery and intelligence really makes the show very enjoyable, if not side-splitting funny, and you forget how cramped you are in the basement of The Stand.

Covering such great arrears for stimulational as being called a mysoginist, being an egotist and meeting people for the first time, the show really flows and clearly has so much thought and content put into it (unlike Lucy Porter last year). One of my favourite ego lines was when he was told "don't think the world revolves around you" he thought, "well from my eyes it does. I'm in minute of the world that I percieve" (that quote doesn't really do justice to his piece). Very humble, funny, provocative and just a damn fine pleasure to listen to. Don't expect cheap laughs though, this man's a thinker.

3 August 2005

Robert Newman - Apocalypso Now

Very informative and still has the ability to get good laughs, well worth seeing on so many levels. Last year Mark Thomas enlightened us about the problem with corporations being the enemy of democracy and on a very similar line Robert (not Rob damn it) uses our foreign policy that has never changed for 200 plus years.

First off we hear about the crushing of democracy in Iran - by the US and British in 1953 that left a dictatorship. The new Prime Minister (elected with nearly 90%) gained popularity with one key promise. Re-nationalise what is now BP. The British (Churchill again, bastard) and the US funded a military coup and installed their preferred dictator.

Next up we listen to the real cause of World War I - the invasion of Iraq. The Germans, having no oil of their own, were in the process of building a Berlin to Iraq railway that had already reached what is now Turkey. The first military movements of WWI were the Dorset brigade and many others landing in Iraq to prevent Germany getting access to the oil. The US are currently constructing 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq, to be occupied after they "leave".

Interesting comparisons between the US dollar and Dali's bank account. The US owe every bank in the world but the dollar is still strong. The reason is every oil transaction has to take place in dollars (as per 1971 OPEC decision). This was akin to the later years of Savaldor Dali's life. He would run up huge restaurant bills and then pay by cheque. Before he let the cheque go he would turn it over and do a signed and dated drawing on the back. That would be priceless to the owner so he would frame it and therefore never cash the cheque. A couple of years ago Iran and Iraq both decided to say "bugger the US" and changed all their banks accounts into Euros. This lost them 20% but they then made all oil transactions in Euros too. North Korea and Syria (the remaining members of the Axis of Evil) changed to make ALL their trades in Euros, not dollars. As momentum started to get behind this switch (and make the dollar no longer the king) OPEC considered changing the rules (under the presidency of Venezula) to make all oil transactions in Euros. This would mean all banks getting rid of their dollar supply in favour of Euros and heavily depreciating the dollar. The US then invaded Iraq, made the switch back to dollars and claimed control of the oil, thereby saving the Federal Bank.

Finally good stuff about the Peak Oil (ref: "The Parties Over") which is when a country needs more oil than it can produce. This happened to the US in 1971, UK in 2003, Venezula in 2000 and many other oil producing countries. The problem is in 1930s there was a 2000 calorie to 1 ratio of food to oil, i.e. with 1 calorie of fossil fuel a farmer could make 2000 calories of food). In the 50s/60s that changed to a 1:1 ratio and we are now completely at the inverse. For every calorie of food a farmer produces we need 2000 calories of fossil fuels to power the insecticides, machinery, refrigeration, 4 digit transport miles et cetera. This means total collapse of the "industrial revolution" unless we take immediate action and invest heavily in renewable energies such as solar, wind or wave. The money the UK has spent on trying to grab the final few drops of oil in Iraq could have transformed the UK in a totally self renewing powered country. Nothing seems to have changed since WWI and way before that when Wordsworth was spied on as he harboured and collaborated with a "terrorist" (someone they feared could inspire a French Revolution in England).

1 August 2005

I'm A Foreign Mute Amputee, Leave Me Alone!

My t-shirt is nearly ready for me to wear for the next month. It says on it "I'm a foreign mute amputee" in big letters. Underneath that it reads "I don't understand English, I can't speak and I have no hands". Finally it says "So don't bother me with your flyers!". That should do me for this year... In other thoughts I've been mildly impressed with some recent changes to the design of cars. Ignoring the Smart range very little has happened in recent years that shows a unique thought. A little while back Peugeot (amongst others) replaced their rear lights with LEDs and in turn put them in fancy strips like ///. This weekend I finally saw the new Golf Plus, a bigger version of the Golf and I was impressed. Finally I saw the coolest enhancement of all, the doors on the new 1007.