I just received a press release that was titled “2013 – The Year of the Comedienne?” and opened with the paragraph “Is this is the year of the comedienne? As class female acts continue to rise to the top of the stand-up circuit, women are getting more and more presence in a somewhat male-dominated comedy arena with female comediennes really seeming to find their footing in 2013…”
Ordinarily such a ridiculous attention grabbing tactic to promote a product would wash over me, however I feel it should be highlighted that they are using this shamefully tabloid title to promote something that is in fact very good… it goes on:
We are looking after the DVD release of The Alternative Comedy Experience Season One, hitting the shelves on 18 November.
The press love to write about male v female comedians, which is obviously the motivation behind this PR, however surely all the comedians involved in this production are those that don’t see women as a separate species? It is also a shame when this somewhat irrelevant topic takes over from highlighting other developments:
Of course it is interesting that two women won major awards at Edinburgh Fringe, I promoted one of them (Adrienne Truscott in our Heroes Venues whoes show was quite accurately described by the Scotsman as “The most powerful hour of comedy on the Fringe” – it sold out two shows in London recently through word of mouth and will do a full run at Soho Theatre next year MORE INFO / GET TICKETS HERE)
However it was surely much more significant that all three of the main Edinburgh award winners performed in independent venues – It is the first year ever that the so called big four venues with their artist crippling pay-to-play model have not had a look in. In my book that makes 2013 the year of Independent Comedian (and comedienne if you really must make a distinction) and is representative of many extremely interesting developments in the world of comedy. Developments that Stewart Lee has been very much at the centre of and has much more relevance to the DVD Comedy Central are promoting.
Maybe I am misguided in this well meaning support for my sisters? But I feel sure that if you ask most women they will tell you they would like to be seen as a funny comedian who just happens to be a woman? However the sort of well meaning generalisation employed here unintentionally adds fuel to the quite frankly redundant “are women funny debate…” it reinforces the erroneous marginalization of women as a sub-genre of comedy and undermines women as being able to just be funny (or not).
I have sent this as a reply to PR man Pete Connell and I am now looking forward to a follow up press release on “Independent Comedy” as well as receiving my review copy of this DVD…
Oh dear I seem to have attracted a spot of bother… Again!
And I’ve been sent a letter telling me to stop.
FULL LETTER HERE
(or carry on down to read the excerpts)
Of course by calling my book “Calpol is Evil!” I didn’t really expect to get an endorsement from Johnson & Johnson, however I also didn’t expect that I would be on their radar.
Now that I am on it for whatever reason I am also more than a little surprised about how nice they are being. Oh if Mr & Mrs Johnson are reading this and feel that by posting the letter I have further infringed your copyright then please understand it is only reproduced out of respect for your Iron Fist wrapped in a beautiful velvet glove…
Instead of ignoring the letter, or even goading with a “Send me your worst” response, which might be my usual approach, I have changed the name of the book to “The Happy Drunk” to make them happy. It seems to have worked and The Kickstarter project is still up and running – Which means you lucky people can still pre-order it!
SEE THE FULL LETTER HERE
(or carry on for excerpts)
They start with a nice little legal intro:
“We represent Johnson & Johnson (UK) Limited, the owner of the Calpol and associated trademarks which have been used extensively and for many years in connection with a family of products to help you take care of your children as they grow up.”
And then they get into what their beef is:
“It has recently come to our attention that the title of your proposed book project on the Kickstarter crowd funding website “Calpol is Evil…” infringes our clients trademark.”
Then after some misdirection (which you should check out the full letter to see) they aim to relate and butter up with:
“As an author and comedian I am sure that you can understand our position and the need to contact you, you may even have run into similar problems with your own intellectual property in the past.”
“We also really enjoyed watching your videos online, not least your impressive reinterpretation of Slayer’s Raining Blood…”
Crikey, where is this going?
“which I am sure you received all the necessary permissions to make.”
Ah! knackers! I see what you are doing now, of course I didn’t get permissions for that and lots of other things… I think they are saying: “Leave our client alone or the puppy gets it!”
It then ends with the legal words you would expect a legal letter to contain.
“In order to resolve this matter, we simply request that you govern yourself accordingly and change the title and design of your book cover to remove all reference to our client’s registered trademark before it is published. By taking these steps, you will help us to maintain the integrity of the Calpol brand…”
Plus some more heavy handed jargon, including a very plausible threat to get the Kickstarter taken down. (see the full letter for this)…
Then it is all beautifully wrapped wrapped in a final velvet touch:
“We wish you continued success with your writing and your comedy…”
I wish all my legal experiences were this wonderful!
So please go take a look at the project and bung in a few £ for the beautiful rewards on offer
I did a gig in north London tonight called Bear Funny… Last time I did this gig they gave me unlimited beer. They made me sign a waiver first, which said I would replace anything I broke. This time they had got in a beer called BOB SLAYAH there really is a beer called BOB SLAYAH how amazing BOB SLAYAH, BOB SLAYAH, BOB SLAYAH its really lovely and super strong and it went down a treat
As I went on stage I noticed a really strong and acrid smell to the side of the stage. I soon realised that it was coming from a man. It was easy to tell which man as a/ no one else was sitting next to him and b/ the smartest item of clothing he possessed were his socks, but he was wearing these on his hands. c/ he had combed his beard over to sit on top of his head. I didn’t want to be mean about his smell and well worn look and so I just had a good chat with him. And he was very keen to chat back.
It was quickly apparent to all that he was a tramp who had snuck into the pub. A tramp that was very keen to be involved. His chat seemed to pretty much involve listing places in the world that he had been to and then attempting a story about that place that mostly petered off into strange noises. This gave me the opportunity to finish his stories and make up what ever facts I liked. He mostly sat their smiling with his thumbs up confirming that he really had been man who’s job it was to license brothels in Amsterdam. We had quite a banter and the crowd seemed to really like the old fella.
When I put the first act on stage I could see the promoter, the landlord and the doorman in a huddle beckoning me to the back of the room. They told me that there was a problem. It turned out that Ron the tramp had been barred from the venue several times – and they were concerned that it would be hard to eject him if I continued to get people to like him. They had already decided to leave this action until the break and they asked me not to engage with him anymore so that they can slide him out unnoticed when the time came.
It didn’t really work like that. When I got back on stage we soon got discussing Ron’s banned status. “Oh yes I have been banned” he told us with a twinkle in his eye. By the time the break came Ron was on stage telling terrible jokes as people cheered him on. The landlord made me responsible for him and Ron got to stay until closing time.
I loved this evening!
My own beer, my own tramp – life cannot get any better can it?
A couple of years ago when I was doing “wild and crazy” Bob Slayer shows at Edinburgh Fringe I spotted a fresh young face smiling up at me from the audience… I found out that her name was Amanda and in an exchange which was perhaps designed to usher her out so that the adults could continue with their fun I said:
“You should be shocked this…” but she didn’t seem to agree
“You wont shock me” she replied defiantly
Oh I see, she had just issued me with a challenge, a challenge that it would have been churlish to refuse.
What followed was an off the cuff, un-prepared response designed to shock this supposedly un-shockable girl.
The first notion I had was to ask her her age
“17″ came the reply
“Really? Well I am old enough to be your dad…”
She nodded, still smiling
“Would you like me to be your dad?”
“OK, If you like.” she replied
I was already committed
“Does your real dad abuse you?”
Did I just say that?
“…Because that is the kind of dad I would like to be”
Oh dear it seems that I did.
People in the room immediately showed their disapproval.
I apologised to them and told them that their reaction was the right one. I also pointing out the interesting thing was that they were in the minority in this crowd, their sharp intakes of breath were overshadowed by considerable laughter around the room.
I pointed at the happy ones and told them:
“You are bad people”
And then, feeling a very bad person myself, I turned back to Amanda to make another apology.
However I quickly realised my expected need for an apology was based on arrogance, of course she would be shocked by my quick and clever line… apparently not, it was evident by the big grin on Amanda’s face that she really meant her opening statement and was not bothered.
This was going to be a tougher challenge than I thought.
I was going to have to up my game and get freaky.
My next gambit opened with:
“Now Amanda, I am approaching 40 and I have not had my prostate checked…
…Do you think you would be kind enough to stick your finger up my bum?”
I thought this was a simple masterstroke and that she would surely back down.
However it seemed she was not quite ready to concede:
“No problem” she replied
And then with a cannily added condition “So long as you have a rubber glove for me…”
This was a smart move that was keeping her in the game but was also putting a barrier between her and the potentially shocking act that I am suggesting.
Or so she thought…
I had a bag of props on stage for these gigs, some of which I used regularly and then others amounted to a collection of tat that I thought might come in handy for random occasions such as these. It just so happened that not only did I have a rubber glove in there I even had the choice of three colours. I put my hand into my bag and straight away pulled out a blue washing up glove. It was met by much applause and merriment from the crowd and I held it out to her.
Surely she would back down now and reject it?
But no! She took the glove without hesitation…
So now we were at a situation where it looked like she really might not back down at all… and of course there is no way I could back down (Some people have told me that I really could have backed down, but i don’t really understand that concept).
Clutching at straws I had the idea that maybe the audience could assist me here, if they didn’t want this to happen then I would be off the hook.
“Do you want this to happen?” was my simple question to the room
“Fuck Yes!” was their simple answer…
Or at least the only answer I heard, I am sure there were those that didn’t want it to happen but by now they were hiding behind their hands.
I turned to Amanda, hoping that having had a bit of time to process what the next step was going to be she might have discarded the glove and the bet would be off. This is not what happened.
As I turned around I saw that not only was she wearing the glove…
She was spitting on the finger!
There was no other option but to drop my trousers and let the deed happen.
Again it has been pointed out that I did in fact have a number of other options, one of which was simply telling some jokes, but sadly none of these alternatives made much sense to me and so it was that my naught was double knuckled live on stage.
At the start of this story it seemed that poor young Amanda was the victim, but now it is not so clear is it?
(It should be pointed pout that Amanda was very gentle. She didn’t jab at my anus like she was an angry neighbor ringing my door bell so that she could complain about the noise, instead she simply placed her gloved forefinger over my button and slowly went round and round the garden, like a teddy bear, one step, two step, tickle you under there… my third eye responded to her caress by slowly opening up like a crocus in spring enabling her to slide her digit inside)
I am sad to say that I have never experience such a huge reaction on stage as I did during these moments of unexpected rectal examination.
“I wish I had proper jokes…” I told the audience who were shrieking, laughing and clapping.
Of course some still had their hands in front of their faces but not one of them could resist parting their fingers for a peek at what was happening…
The beautiful thing is that Amanda was not done yet, she went to pull her finger out and then pushed it back in again, which caused another wave of excitement from the audience.
Then she withdrew her finger altogether… as I had pointed out the reaction up until that point had been large but now people eclipsed even that and seriously lost their shit.
Not only did Amanda possess perfect comic timing, but when she removed her finger she had the comedic fortitude to leave the glove inside.
And to cap it all, as a final flourish, she did ‘Jazz hands’ and put on a huge happy smile.
Amanda was declared unshockable and it was the start of a beautiful friendship which continues to this day and for those who are wondering she gave me the all clear, although I am not sure if she is actually medically trained?
(Incidentally in this gig were the people from a production company I am now making a documentary with… and their name is rather appropriately: Brown Eyed Boy)
Last night I had a quiet night in my local pub, The Palm Tree, with David Quirk Then at 11pm the suggestion was made that we should go into Soho for a couple more cheekies… Just a couple. I thought to myself: “Ah go on, this is silly, as long as I get seven hours of sleep, I’m cool.”
Midnight. I’d had a few more beers, I’d just spent 20 minutes arguing with Carl Donnelley against artificial turf. I got up to leave, but at level two, a little devil appeared on my shoulder. And now I was thinking, “Hey! I’m out with my friends! Besides, as long as I get five hours sleep, I’m cool.”
1am and I just spent 20 minutes arguing FOR artificial turf. Soho Theatre is chucking out and its time to go home. But outside I bumped into three Norwegian guys who wanted to find a club. I thought “Well, I will just help them find a club and then I will go off to bed”. Moments later I was eying up a line of 32 Jagermeisters. At some point I said to the Norwegians “Hey fellas, if we bought our own bar, we could live together forever. We could do it you know. and Vergard! You could cook”. At level three, that devil was a little bit bigger…. and he was buying. I was thinking, “Oh, come on, come on now. As long as I get three hours sleep… and a complete change of blood, I’m cool.”
2am in the morning. And the devil was bartending. For last call, I ordered a bottle of rum and a Coke. I WAS artificial turf. Me and the Norwegians decided to leave, right after we got thrown out. One of us knew an after-hours bar. And here, at level four, I actually thought to myself, “Well … as long as I’m only going to get a few hours sleep anyway, I may as well … STAY UP ALL NIGHT!!!! Yeah as long as I get 24 hours sleep tomorrow… I’ll be cool.
5am in the morning. Oh dear. A fight broke out on the nightbus. I was the good guy stepping in to stop a man who wanted to punch a random woman. It all got out of control and I missed my stop! It spilled off the bus onto the street. This man was propper crazy just going for the girl – however she didnt help much because by this stage she (understandably) wanted to go back at him. I tried to keep them apart but he was a slippery little bugger and tried to punch me. I knocked him on his arse. Three times. Then chased him off. The girl tried to chase him down the road in the cars and so I grabbed her and held her until he was gone. I had to carry her out of the road. I pointed out that his shoes and cap had come off in the tussle – and so we had a nice little fire to burn them! That made her a little happier and I walked her and her friend home… crikey! Quite a night! Same again tonight?
It was all caught on video here:
This year we will be running TWO venues at Edinburgh Fringe
HEROES @ BOB’s BOOKSHOP – Miss Behave and I have rented an empty shop, right in the centre of old town, and put in our own bar and venue… My own show “Bob Slayer: Worldwide Bawbag” is 4:45, Miss Behave 9pm. And many more besides. Midnight Mayhem is the late night hang out on the fringe, open until 3am!
HEROES @ THE HIVE – we’re back with amazing shows: Phil Kay, Ivan Brackenbury, Lewis Schaffer and more
A friend of mine has gone to prison for being a naughty boy, he’s not a bad man. Well anyway I have been writing to him and here is the latest letter what I have sent:
Hey ho… This weekend I have mostly had my nephew come to visit. I took him on the Go-karts in the park opposite my flat. I got a bit overly competitive and ended up being ‘black flagged’ for planting someone into the tyres… I did a proper little number on him. Josh seemed to like that: Go Go Uncle Buck. I then invited my friend, Miss Behave the sword swallower, around for dinner and she ate a two foot sword for desert… That’s something he can tell his friends at school…
Miss Behave is my venue co-host at Edinburgh Fringe. I am putting on some right interesting shows this year, I have been getting deeper into the comedy world for some time and she’s brought in the interesting cabaret acts: I am really excited about: Adrienne Truscott’s Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! I don’t know what she is going to do ventriloquism with her ninky nonk maybe, I just know it is going to be a stand out show.
I’m going up to Edinburgh next week to set up the venues. (After going to a friends wedding in Doncaster on the way). I think we are going to have a lot of Fringe shaped fun, that is if I don’t mess up and get ‘black flagged’ for getting the bars side of it all wrong. I can just see the Police coming in and asking: “So who is the licensee?” and someone pointing at the drunk, bald fella on stage with sick on his shirt and a birds finger up his naught. Scotland are a bit harsh on their licensing laws and I am not sure that would go down well, so I’m employing a bar manager who will hopefully keep me out the tom tit, but do keep your other bunk ready for me if I get it all wrong…
Memoirs of a much loved award-winning Comedian: “The Wholly Viable”. Brilliant insight into the mind of a free spirited genius. Please pledge your support!
WHAT IS THIS PROJECT?
Phil Kay has written a book… The Wholly Viable…
He’s not interested in the compromises imposed by traditional publishers… So instead, he wants to work with YOU
Phil requires a minimum of £3,333 to release this book
If you pre-order a copy… He will be able to publish the book he wants to
But why stop there?!
IF HE RAISES £6,666 THEN WE CAN REALLY LAUNCH THIS BOOK
“…Can I be free and open as much in life as the comedian can be onstage? ..Is positivity viable in comedy and life? Wholly!” Phil Kay
Well known atheist Doug Stanhope has launched a campaign to show the world that: “you don’t need to believe in a god to have human compassion, nor does all charity fall under the banner of religion.”
Rebecca Vitsmun – while in a sea of “God” rhetoric in the aftermath of the Moore, OK tornado – was being interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. When asked by Wolf “Do you thank the Lord?” she quickly responded that she was an atheist.
Now Stanhope has started a crowd fund campaign to raise money to help her and is calling on all atheists to get involved saying: “It’s important that our community shows that we have your back when you come out publicly as an atheist. Let’s get this courageous woman and her family back in their own home…”
The campaign is hilarious. Where else can you buy a phone call from God or access God’s planbook. It’s already raised over $100,000 and is showing no signs of stopping.
Many years ago I used to be an Estate Agent. Woe is me. One Saturday afternoon (Feb 13th) I was showing a girl around 4 properties. I was really trying to sell one of them to her, but with each one she seemed less and less interested. I wasn’t too disheartened as, despite my lack of interest in work and general incompetence I wasn’t too bad at the Estate Agency lark. I had saved the best place til last and as I let us into the house I informed her the truth that the owner had moved away and so wanted a quick sale.
“So no one is living here?” she asked. It’s a normal question for a first time buyer and I was able to confirm.
“That is right” She went through to the kitchen and started opening cupboards. I thought she was checking the actual kitchen units, but then she found what she was looking for, the Drinks cupboard. She pulled out a six pack of lager, she opened one, handed me the other and popped the remaining 4 in the freezer.
“Um ah” I stammered…. to which she replied “Get it down you”
And so I did… Long story short we moved in right then, she had the most comprehensive viewing of the property possible and we drank the house dry throughout valentines day. We even emptied the poor man’s freezer of his ready meals.
On Monday morning we both left for our respective places of work, in the same clothes we had been wearing on Sat…
This did not help when it turned out that the bosses secretary lived in the same estate as the house we had on the market. They didn’t believe whatever lame excuse I came up with to explain why my car was parked outside the house all weekend and I didn’t remain an Estate Agent for much longer! Oh and the viewer never did buy a house.
Happy Valentines Day to you all.
This is how Raining Blood should be played. Death to False Metal, Death to Metal, Death to Slayer, Long live Disco. Reign in Disco. Do not adjust your sets, there is no such thing as normal service, the rules are there are no rules. We are all an illusion…
This is a guest post from Australian comedian Jimbo explaining his recent brush with the law over his best mate Gary The Goat eating some grass in the park
Gary The Goat and I went to court last week. Despite dressing up in his best hat and bow tie, Gary was denied his day in court and forced to sit outside, so he has asked me to explain the full story of what went on inside.
We won we are over the moon, however behind the story about a cute Goat in a rainbow hat who was wrongly accused of eating flowers, there are some genuinely worrying issues including:
- The waste of so much Police and Court time and resources to fight a ridiculous case based on a technicality, instead of following common sense
- Misleading public statements from the Police both before and after the case that were seemingly designed to influence the media and discredit our case
- Other dubious police tactics that left us wondering what would it be like to defend a serious charge
HERE IS THE FULL STORY
Back in August 2012 the Rocks Police detained us for two hours while they tried to decide what laws we had broken for having a goat in a park in Sydney. They released us without Charge. The Sydney Telegraph were there the whole time and reported on the incident.
Two months later I received a fine through the post for $440 with the charge of “Damaging vegetation without authority”. Gary was blamed for eating vegetation and I was charged for letting him do it. When you get a fine for a goat eating a bit of grass there is certainly something wrong, so I decided to contest the fine. The police in their wisdom decided to push back and a court date was set for Jan 2013. This put me in a bit of a predicament. My girlfriend in India would be 8 months pregnant by then and fast approaching the drop zone. So I wrote a letter to the Commander of the Rocks police station suggesting that the court case was dropped. I didn’t mention the pregnancy, instead I pointed out that it was going to be a huge waste of police and court time. (Something that the courts later agreed with when they dismissed the case). I also warned the police that if they took the case to court it is very likely it would create a tabloid frenzy of bad press for them while at the same time promoting my comedy career and Gary’s TV career.
Gary first put it up on his page as a simple update to 700 followers. The post then went viral to a third of a million people making it a public issue which the police decided that they couldn’t ignore. But instead of bowing to strong public opinion and commonsense in order to save face with a display of humility , they decided to raise the stakes.
The Commander of the Rocks Police Station fired up his lap top and posted on a police facebook page in an attempt to discredit our side of the story (namely that Gary was only eating grass and some bush). He began by stating that he would not be able to discuss details of the impending case and then proceeded to do exactly that. He publically stated that Gary was eating council flowers and destroying plants which he claimed subsequently needed to be replaced at significant public expense. This was simply not true. He also asked the public to reserve judgement on our side of the story until the ‘truth’ came out in court.
The police won a small PR battle here (but of course we won the war). From then on media reports (which ultimately went all around the world) described Gary as a goat that had eaten council planted flowers.. In court the Police were unable to produce any evidence that could back this up. Whereas we had witnesses, including the Sydney Telegraph that were able to attest to it not happening.
As it turned out, (to the dismay of the cops),the public didn’t care even if they thought Gary did eat some council flowers. People were quite rightly more concerned with the amount of resources the police were putting into pursuing such a trivial matter. Especially against the amount of serious crimes that are either going unsolved or let off on technicalities once they get to court.
When you look at the evidence that the police had against us it is baffling to understand why they thought they had a case at all. But they really tried! Prior to court a document of over 200 pages was delivered to us by 4 police officers! It must have taken an age to prepare because it took Gary nearly a whole day to eat it all. Fortunately they also send a copy to our lawyer. When he cut through all the legalese and filler in the brief, as well as a meaningless photograph of a fully intact flower bed taken nearly four months after the event, it turned out that the only evidence they had against me were two police statements:-
- One policeman claimed in court that he’d seen Gary eat ONE green bud which may have later turned into a flower.
- There was one other police offer’s eyewitness account in the document which did claim to have seen Gary eating flowers… But despite being legally subpoenaed, this police officer was apparently unable to attend as she was in Queensland doing more important police work?
Our lawyer was looking forward to grill the absent witness, knowing that she would be fully exposed up there with no corroborating police backup and strong contradicting evidence.
The one strength the police had was that they had drafted in their top prosecutor, who despite the woeful lack of evidence, fought like a cornered rat for two hours, disputing everything on technicalities.
In the end the case was dismissed simply due to the police not being able to prove that I had ‘intent’ to damage vegetation by taking Gary to the park. Some very dubious police tactics had denied us a full judgement due to a technicality. And so despite the police offering no prima facia evidence for what they accused us of the magistrates were unable to award court costs. It seems that Gary will have to mow our lawyers lawn for the next 10 years in order to pay him back!
One of the biggest shocks came after the case when we heard that the NSW assistant police commissioner had continued to lamely peddle the line that Gary ate flowers on Ray Hadlee’s 2UE radio show last Thursday on the morning. Again this was AFTER the police couldn’t come up with any evidence for these claims in court.
Of course we won, we got off, we walked free and we are proud of the fact that our story ended up being a genuinely amusing newsfeed that bought smiles to people’s faces right around the globe. (It was even a big news story in Nigeria – unless that email was just a scam).
BUT all of this makes you think what would it be like to be on the end of this public police slander/libel (and subsequent cover up) for a charge that was serious? Particularly on an issue that was in the media and didn’t have public support. And how could you possibly defend yourself in that situation given that the police have the choice of not letting the truth come out in court via excuse notes to not be there when the defendant has no such option?
Our friend filmaker and comedian Bob Slayer has filmed it all and is currently producing a documentary in association with Brown Eyed Boy Productions. Im now in India and Gary is taking a break on Maggi’s farm. We will be back on the road in 3 months time. If you have a gig or other offer for us then drop us a line jimbo @jimbo.com.au
“Gary The Goat is innocent”
Australian Comedian Jimbo Bazoobi and his best mate Gary The Goat are all over the world media today. Their fine of $440, imposed when Gary was caught by police eating grass in a park outside Sydney Museum of Culture, was dropped and the charges of “Destruction of Vegetation” thrown out of court….
The conclusion of this case means that we can now go into post production on a documentary that I have been making (with assistance from Brown Eyed Boy productions), about touring with Jimbo last year. There are many stories that can be told here. One angle is a cute goat tale, another is all about A Billy Goat standing up against the Nanny State and then a third is how inspiring people like Jimbo are for the world of comedy…
As the top earners in Comedy are able to turn over staggering amounts of money so the industry seems to increasingly resemble a conveyor belt, churning out the next identikit pretty boy or girl in skinny jeans that will hopefully make themselves and importantly their agents, managers and promoters the big cash… The path is clearly laid out and all acts need to is line up and attempt to jump through the right hoops in order to progress along it. From comedy competitions to TV panel shows, TV presenting, their own TV vehicle, arena gigs and then a DVD and book out at Christmas. There are of course interesting acts that can fit alongside the mainstream and retain their own identity. Stewart Lee has brilliantly made this position his own. Tony Law, Dr Brown, Paul Foot are all acts that are increasingly embraced by the industry whilst retaining their own very distinctive style.
But what about acts that are not quite so readily accepted? I believe that Jimbo, just like Kunt and The Gang (the mastermind behind Cockgate) before him, is one of the true unsung Heroes of Comedy and a real inspiration. Having spent years on the fringes of the industry forging his own path, it is great to see nearly 10,000 recent results for his name on Google News. Jimbo really deserves the break that this will hopefully bring him but the important thing is that whatever happens, if he decides to embrace the industry or if he elects to carry on doing his own thing, he can make these decisions on his own terms.
Eight years ago when Jimbo was told not to tell one of his jokes at Sydney Comedy Store, he asked if anyone had complained about it the night before. Apparently no one had but the fear was there that they might do. Jimbo ignored his would be censor and opened that night by saying “I have been told not to do a particular joke because it might offend, but I think you should be the judge of that…” and went on to deliver the joke in question. The gag addressed the sensitive subject of sexism, but it did so from the right perspective and importantly it was funny. No one complained, but still he got banned.
Jimbo took this as an opportunity, he slung all his possessions in the back of a ute that he had converted to run on vegetable oil and he drove around the outback putting on uncensored gigs in small country town pubs. Touring with Jimbo in mining towns, farm towns, sheep stations, I have seen him handle some of the most difficult Comedy audiences imaginable and yet end the night smiling having given them all a great night out. He has filth and shock in his arsenal but behind that there is also an extremely high level of skill and a brain that is quite simply hardwired for comedy.
When in most comedy rooms, for example, you stand up and do material that points out that racism is perhaps not the greatest idea in the world then you can expect to get the support from the audience, who you can be pretty sure will agree with you. But really this is shooting fish in a barrel. How many acts that do jokes on these subjects could go into a room that made the Klu Klux Klan seem a moderate organisation and not only make them laugh, but also actually get them to think about their world view? That is exactly what I saw Jimbo achieve.
In one particular Outback gig that Jimbo and I did together a woman told me how proud she was that her family had “driven the Abbos over the cliffs…” There are not many things more shocking than when someone casually shares their racism with you in a way that indicates they just expect you to agree. That night Jimbo decided it was the right room to tell his ‘award winning Aboriginal joke’. If he told you the joke you might not laugh. Like a lot of race jokes it is only funny if you are racist. But unlike these jokes Jimbo’s is not in itself racist. It is in fact the exact opposite. Let me explain…
Jimbo sets up the gag by telling the audience that Australia should be worried about the Chinese invading Australia in order to exploit the countries natural resources. They would be likely to try and use the local population to do all the work down the mines. The sort of audience Jimbo would deliver this joke in front of would get riled up.
“But you wouldn’t stand for that would you?” he asks them
“No..” a few reply
“You wouldn’t work for foreigners who have taken over your country would you?”
“No…” more of them reply
You see this is why Jimbo wouldn’t tell you this joke. You are educated people and you are quite rightly wondering where this is going. But Jimbo knows his audience.
“Exactly” he continues “We would tell them wouldn’t we? – fuck you… you have taken over our country and we are not going to be your slaves… We would rather sit in the sun drinking piss all day than work for you…”
“Too right Jimbo!” they agree
Then just when it seems like Jimbo is kicking off some sort of unsavory rally, he delivers the twist.
“And then we are going to sit in the park having our first swig and we are going to look at the Aboriginal guy next to us and we are going to say – Crikey, Mate I think that maybe I might just know where you are coming from brother…”
And you know what happens, people think about it, they laugh and some of them agree with Jimbo. He has a variety of different toppers that invariably sends the reaction into applause. He has genuinely managed to get a bunch of people to look at their fellow countrymen in a way that they have probably never done before.
I once explained Jimbo’s joke to another comedian who is currently doing a whole show based on race. He looked at me disappointed and just said “I wish I had thought of that…” But I just don’t think he could have done. Because he performs comedy in the safe bubble created around the industry. I like to think that he realised that preaching to the converted is one thing, but actually going out and making a racist laugh in a positive way about race issues is a whole different thing and is truly powerful.
People like Jimbo are undercover superheroes trying to put the world to rights and I think that the Comedy Industry would be a much better place if they realised that.
Bob Slayer is currently taking applications for acts to perform at HEROES of FRINGE, his venues at Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the new name for Alternative Fringe). See here www.heroesof.com