Terry Alderton – Bloomsbury Theatre

Friday 21st May 2010

Terry who? Exactly. Sometimes I like to book a show without any knowledge of the performing artist. This was no different and with this approach there are often no expectations at all.

report to follow…

Four Lions / Chris Morris Q&A – Curzon Soho

Thursday 20th May 2010

By chance I’d noticed a tweet with details of special screening of Four Lions at the Curzon Theatre, followed by a Q&A with director Chris Morris. Thankfully, there were tickets still available.

report to follow…

Rise of IAmSpartacus and Fall of TwitterJokeTrial

Thursday 11th November 2010

Once upon a time, there was a guy who was genuinely upset about the impact of snow on his lovelife. Slightly frustrated, he sent a tweet to his girlfriend implying that he’s unlikely to be able to fly over to meet her. Oh and then things took a ridiculous turn.

It’s January 2010. The British weather was causing more havoc than normal. The public’s travel plans were once again majorly disrupted. At this point, few may vent their anger, while others see the funny side and throw humour at the situation. It’s the British way. Being able to laugh at our chaotic lives keeps us going.

Paul Chambers was one such guy. The weather was essentially coming between him and meeting up with his girlfriend in Northern Island. So he sent her the following tweet.

“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

It was probably read by a handful of people, if any at all.

To cut a long story short, the tweet was picked up after a random search by someone working at the airport. He had a duty to report it and in turn the police had a duty to investigate it. At this point a slap on the wrist would have sufficed. Not literally though, as that could lead to inciting some kind of light torture. This eventually led to court case and a guilty verdict under an outdated 80-year UK law. That led to an appeal, which failed, as the judge considered the tweet as a ‘menace’. Aside from the fine and relevant court costs, remarkably the criminal record still stands.

The #TwitterJokeTrial turned out to be ‘the’ really bad joke. Not the original tweet, but the law in general. In response to the verdict came the Twitter backlash, with thousands of people around the world sending the original tweet in a show of solidarity. The cleverly named #IAmSpartacus went global, especially the following day when celebrities, including numerous comedians got involved.

Over 20,000 tweets featured the latest hashtag, dwarfing the 17,000 of the original hashtag in less than half the time. In fact you could argue the only real explosion was #IAmSpartacus.

The police have implied that the original tweet was not a threat and that the people retweeting will not be investigated. Of course they shouldn’t. It was never a one-man terrorist threat and this is not now a cleverly orchestrated global one on a tiny airport in South Yorkshire.

Terrorists do not generally use Twitter to warn its targets weeks in advance. In fact, why would anyone threaten to blow up an airport which is closed?

I guess the only way forward, apart from common sense, is for Twitter to be limited to 125 characters, with every tweet automatically prefaced with the words ‘maybe a joke’.

To keep up to date with the case follow @jackofkent and/or @davidallengreen on Twitter.

David Allen Green’s blog (Jack of Kent) is an essential read.
Background to the case can be found here.
Background to the appeal case can be found here.

The Guardian article on the #IAmSpartacus can be found here.

Charlie Brooker’s brilliant piece on the whole thing can be found here.

Michael McIntyre – WiP – Leicester Square Theatre

Tuesday 18th May 2010

In the basement for another dose of Michael McIntyre, working to perfect his routine for the upcoming Comedy Roadshows.

A small treat for those arriving early as the owner of the Leicester Square Theatre allowed people into the main hall to see Andy Sharrocks & The Smokin Jackets. Not really a country music fan, but I thought the band were pretty good.

In the basement, John Gordillo was up on stage first, but unlike previous shows, he performed for over 20 mins. Practising for his appearance on the Comedy Showcase at the Comedy Store, He had the audience in stitches talking about his Spanish father’s Communist views. Both the accent and the material were spot on.

At one point, Michael McIntyre jokingly barged open the door to correct John Gordillo on the number of venues and people who had seen his sell-out tour. Slightly disparaging for the support act, who to his own admission is barely able to sell out venues in Leyton Buzzard.

Unfortunately, Michael McIntyre’s performance on the night was slightly under par, but to be fair to him, he was unwell. One of the highlights was when he asked if anyone had any paracetamol, only for an audience member to provide him with an astonishing array of tablets. That inevitably lead to a fun exchange with the audience, involving a number of the drugs on offer.

A fun night out, with John Gordillo outshining a rather poorly Michael McIntyre.

Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Showcase – Comedy Store

Monday 17th May 2010

Time for Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Showcase at the Comedy Store, as the first of five back-to-back comedy nights.

At the Comedy Showcase a couple of weeks ago, Imran Yusuf and Hal Cruttenden stole the show. Referred to as the FA Cup of Comedy, it was now up to a new set of 8 acts to perform their magic. Arrived early and chose the second row, purposely missing out on the front row and any potential eye contact with Michael McIntyre, in case he destroyed me again.

To be fair the front row provided excellent material for Michael McIntyre to comment on, especially the couple and her parents. Although, he was gobsmacked when a girl said she was a funeral director, only for her boyfriend to add that he tidied up soldier’s graves. To everyone’s surprise they didn’t actually meet at work.

Luckily for Michael McIntyre he had other considerations to worry about. Namely, the spider that was gate crashing the event. In sight of everyone, it was now stationed between himself and the front row. Something had to be done, as the audience was fixated on the spider. Obviously, he’s seen the original Karate Kid. A few swift moves and he’d dealt with the spider. Similar to his observation of people attempting to get water from the latest style of wash basins (those without the usual taps).

There was a variety of performances on offer on the night, including musical comedy from the imaginative Paul Thorne and the somewhat scary Loretta Maine. Good performances too from Andrew Bird and Saleem. If anyone was to edge it on the night it was probably Kojo, Andrew Lawrence and Paul Chowdry. However, my personal favourite was Ed Aczel. One of the most absurd, yet innovative acts I’ve seen. He’s unlikely to make it onto the Comedy Roadshow, as he’s not mainstream enough, but his work with the flip chart was hilarious.

Another superb night out, with some outstanding performances on the night. Good luck to all of the performers.

La Traviata – Royal Opera House

Friday 14th May 2010

Really excited to be having a 4th night at the opera and blessed to be able to catch the performance of La Traviata at the Royal Opera House.

Once again, this is by no means a critical review of the opera. Even though I’ve managed to see a few performances already, my knowledge on the subject is barely above zero.

The position of the seats in the amphitheatre were similar to those during La Boheme. Ushered to our seats, there was time for a brief science-based chat before the performance began. Whilst my friend joked that I should have booked a box, I was counting the rows only to realise that we were probably sent to the wrong row. Then I looked at the row in front and noticed our seats. Just as I was about to say something, the actual occupants of the seats were standing over me. Difficult to explain the weirdness of the timing of it all.

The performance of opera itself was sensational. The orchestra was exceptional, primarily because I recognised the majority of the music, which can not be said for previous operas that I had been to.

A superb night out. La Traviata was everything I had hoped for and more, and that includes the champagne and ice cream during the interval. Now it’s up to Carmen, the 5th opera on the entertainment tour, to live up to the same expectations.

Paul Merton – New Theatre, Oxford

Tuesday 11th May 2010

I’d been looking forward to a trip to Oxford to see Paul Merton, one of my comedy heroes. I’d even had contact with his PR team and booked train tickets in advance. Surely, nothing was going to stop me from going.

Unfortunately, Nottingham Forest were playing the 2nd leg of the Championship Play-Off Semi-Final at home to Blackpool. I considered recording it and switching off every possible type of communication, but I knew deep down I wouldn’t be able to focus. So I had no alternative but to give the tickets away to a friend.

By the end of the evening, the pain was threefold. Firstly, the words ‘David Cameron is the new Prime Minister’ flashed across the screen and covered most of the pitch. Secondly, Forest lost at home to Blackpool, amazingly the fourth time we’d lost to them in one season. And thirdly, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums was excellent and my friend still talks about how amazing the evening was.

Oh the pain of improvising…

Lee Mack – Hammersmith Apollo

Monday 10th May 2010

I’m a massive fan of the unscripted banter between Lee Mack and Dave Mitchell on the panel show Would I Lie To You? along with the scripted banter with Tim Vine and Miranda Hart in Not Going Out. Now I had the chance to see him perform live at the Apollo.

Simon Evans opened the show with an excellent opening performance. Pointing out that he had no eyes, the audience was fixated, although a few seemed to have noticed anyway. His calm, upper class style of comedy was a hit, even though at times he had us on a knife-edge, which was totally apparent during the English, Welsh and Pakistani joke. Complete silence, followed by sense of relief and laughter.

Lee Mack began his Going Out Tour, which was being filmed for DVD, with a magic trick. He picked out a teenager from the audience, invited him on stage, then locked him up in a magician’s chest. Instead of completing the trick, he ushered him off stage, shouting out “I did say NO kids.”

Rushing back and forth from the stage, he was evidently a different performer from the support act. Flowing with energy, Lee Mack was enjoying himself up there. Of course his style is often referred to as a modern-day Eric Morecambe. His humour is fitting for both the 1970s, as it is for 2010.

The show was full of interactions with the audience and his apparent annoyance at the hilarious responses shouted out to him. There is no doubt that is what he really wanted to hear, but seeing him fueled with anger was brilliant to see. It’s almost like we were all playing the part of David Mitchell.

There were so many highlights, but the impression of scousers sounding like dolphins was outstanding. With his disregard of Twitter and other technological advances, he was once asked “have you tried disabling cookies?” to which he responded “well, I once bit the legs off a gingerbread man.”

All in all, a must see performance. I loved every minute of it. Simon Evans was also a great choice as a support act. Lee Mack, thank you for a superb evening of comedy.