Broken Biscuits No.12.

Last minute heads up for this. If you’ve been on the social you’ll already know, but I’ve been pulled in more directions than an Irish road sign of late and to be perfectly frank, I forgot. However, we are where we are and these will be magnificent: three warm-ups at The Bee’s Mouth in Hove as part of Brighton Fringe 2017 before we hit The Warren on May 31st – more on which to follow.

For these shows, we’ve pulled in a combo of greatest hits, local heroes and blinding talent; because you’re worth it. It’s quite a spur having the luxury of time to try stuff out, alongside luminaries in their own fields who don’t, so we’ve decided to keep the whole flavour verging on the chaotic. Anything could (and probably will) happen, and the only vague certainty we can offer at present is the daily line-up:

Thurs 11th May – Joe Duggan/Julitha Ryan/Idle Eye/Jenny Vegas. With JV and IE as compere(s)

Fri 12th May – Vivienne Westnorwood/Julitha Ryan/Idle Eye/Jenny Vegas. With Elvis Parsley as compere

Sat 13th May – Elvis Parsley/Headbackbob/Idle Eye/Jenny Vegas. With Vivienne Westnorwood as compere

All shows will hopefully include Donald Ross Skinner’s Idle Eye Disco and Dan Laidler’s Windy’s Farm animations. But who knows? You might get your very own Hoseasons rep whisking you off to a self-catering Shangri-La in Kent. Or a mindless bloodbath of existential angst. That’s the beauty of a Pay What You Can gig – we call the shots, and you can’t say you weren’t warned. My advice would be to come along to all three with some personal idemnity in place. That way, we’re all covered x

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Pizza Flyer Delivery Boy

In December 2014, I wrote a short piece about a pizza junk mail delivery boy which was deliberately out of character with my other material. I was working at the computer, staring vacantly out of the window when one of these guys rocked up outside, looking as if he wanted the world to swallow him up whole. Alan Sillitoe’s Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner got into my head somehow, but I didn’t want a tale laden with the kind of pathos I didn’t feel qualified to write about; so I played a straight bat. When the narrator rejects outright a small moment of tenderness because he is preconditioned to expect the worst, there’s no fanfare: it’s just how it is. And I like that.

It was the last story of forty in Amateur of Life and Death. I was unashamedly channelling The Fast Show‘s Rowley Birkin QC, when his catchphrase “I’m afraid I was very, very drunk” is turned on its head because it isn’t funny. It catches your breath, and still to this day remains one of my favourite moments of character comedy writing. My cousin Mark Dicey illustrated it beautifully (see above), but I knew I wasn’t finished with it yet. I tentatively introduced it into the Broken Biscuits live set recently, with an accompanying urban landscape soundtrack recorded by Donald Ross Skinner in the 90s. But it needed something more to set it apart from the other posts, so I made it into a film.

Franck Alba’s haunting soundtrack, recorded in his bedroom in a matter of hours, is just perfect; and Alan Maclean’s wildly expressive features could not have been better for the ‘old geezer’. With a bit of help from one of my dearest friends Julitha Ryan, the whole thing was conceived, shot and edited in Crystal Palace over three days, and is now ready to be outed at Brighton Fringe next week. Hope you like it x

Broken Biscuits No.10.

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Yes, it’s hot on the heels of Komedia Brighton but you need to know pronto. This very Saturday, BB10 returns to Antenna Studios at Palace, because that’s where it was spawned. And for this show, it’s super local (with the allowable exception of Jenny Vegas, who’s only there for the free crisps) and super cool. We’ve got Vivienne Westnorwood for starters, and she doesn’t travel through postcodes unless there’s a very good reason. And then there’s Peyo Santalla, who so happens to have my flatmate in his band, and will dazzle the collective Palace crowd with some stuff he will have already badgered you into coming down for. I am merely the conduit, the weaver if you will, for some serious SE19 action. Do not judge us: we are on a higher plain.

If you’re in any doubt whatsoever, we’ve also got the magnificently bleak Tim Suturist as compere, after he’s finished flogging you quality veg at the market. It really doesn’t get any better than this (even though you think it might). And Idle Eye will try out some new material. Because it’s about time. I thank you x

Broken Biscuits No.9.

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Another great night. And despite my phone bricking as we were setting up (meaning no one could get hold of me at all for soundcheck info et al), it just added to the wonderful jumble of mayhem that seems to characterise these shows. Almost predictably, Southern Rail robbed us of Joanna Neary (although she has kindly agreed to join us at the Brighton Fringe, more on that another time), and compere Kate Tym was stricken with a virus and held at bay in St Leonards. But we got through it! Here’s how:

With the mighty Mr B, of course! The voice (and banjolele) of reason in a sea of madness, his immaculate set, attire and bonhomie were a joy to behold, as we all knew they would be. And he played The Crack Song, which I will be grateful for until my dying day. We Need To Talk About Kanye was another killer: seek it out and love him forever. This is a gentleman of substance you cannot afford to miss.

With Lorraine Bowen. Her Casiotone-fuelled, endearingly confused mix of pop, fashion and laughter had the house eating out of her hand the minute she stepped on stage. The Crumble Lady herself gave us tunes to die for, moves to watch and learn, and low fidelity acumen to shame the new kids on the block. Seriously, we had a party like it was 1969 and we didn’t want it to stop. Now that’s showbiz!

With Jenny Vegas. Once again, she delivered a blazing set with less than 24 hours notice, this time treating us to a reading from her new book 39 Shades of Brown. Which is as fabulous as it sounds. And she crushed the rumour that she and I are…well, you know…with the most damning words her vocabulary could muster. In front of a live audience. Don’t mess with this lady, she tells it like it is.

With Idle Eye and guests. This time he put a bloody jacket on and looked halfway respectable, let down somewhat by three pairs of reading glasses worn simultaneously. If he learns his lines and comes up with some decent between post banter, it might be worth coming to see his offerings at some point in the future. You heard it here first.

With Joss Perring and Nick Hollywood. Who once again transformed the Komedia Studio into a magical den of light, vintage film and great music. It’s always special to watch this father/son combo at work, particularly when they’re made up to the nines and sporting attractive hats. And Callum Hughes, who stepped in as compere with minutes to spare and masterfully ruddered our kooky ship through the entire evening. And Dan Laidler‘s Windy, who is fast becoming the unsung hero of Broken Biscuits. Hola Windy!

Thank you, Komedia Brighton, that was fab. BB10 is back at Antenna Studios in Crystal Palace on Saturday 11th February. Yes, that soon! Info post comin’ atcha after this. And sleep and red wine. Over and out x

Broken Biscuits No.9.

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Right. Christmas and New Year are behind us at last, so now we can get on with the mucky business of making 2017 everything 2016 wasn’t. And the best way I can think of is to put on a mighty BB9 at Komedia Brighton, ‘mighty’ being a woefully inadequate narrative for this one. I mean, look! It’s beyond huge, as three of Brighton’s comedy giants straddle the same stage for your delectation, immediately after Idle Eye splutters into first gear with a fistful of Kalms.

Lorraine Bowen, the undisputed queen of kitsch, crumble, cheesy keys and off-the-wall hilarity, will be giving it some. I know! Word has it that she owns the largest polyester wardrobe in the UK, so expect some 60s chic as well. It’s an embarrassment of riches, I tell you.

And then there’s Joanna Neary. An absolute must for anyone who cherishes character comedy colliding with the somewhat surreal, her sublime, very British quirkiness is, at times a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Celia Johnson, and at others Björk giving it all that about house prices in the South-East. She’s razor-sharp too; don’t be taken in.

Mr B, the consummate gentleman of Chap-Hop and the banjolele, has a superb new record out called ‘There’s a Rumpus Going On’. So we might be treated to a recital or two from that, or possibly something from current project ‘Absinthe House: Chapstep Vol.2’. And if he does The Crack Song as well, my year will be complete. In January.

But it just gets better: Nick Hollywood and Joss Perring, the dream father/son team who transformed Komedia last time we were there, are doing it all over again! With St Leonards’ finest Kate Tym as compere, and Dan Laidler‘s Windy’s Farm animations doing their thing, BB9 must surely now be considered a night not to be missed. Unless you miss it. In which case, it doesn’t really matter.

Broken Biscuits No.8.

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BB8 was the usual heady cocktail of madness, hilarity and confusion, only this time we had an angry poltergeist along for the party as well. Not that anyone heard or saw anything, mind, but she was definitely there. And it is a she; we checked.

David Farnan stepped in for James Cook (who sadly couldn’t be with us) at the eleventh hour, and knocked out a repertoire of effortless, self-penned acoustic swagger: with a vocal rasp that would have Liam Gallagher running for the hills. Lovely stuff!

Now here’s a challenge: I defy anyone to listen to the attached Jenny Lockyer song and not well up at the end. She has that rare ability to fuse humour and pathos in equal amounts, all mixed in with a touch of the surreal and a voice to die for. And I’m delighted to announce that she’ll be joining us yet again for a big show in April next year. More on that another time…

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a seasonal address from our very own Jenny Vegas. Unlike the politicians, she cuts through the crap and tells it like it is, all dressed up as a sexy Santa. This is how you get the word out, Theresa: think on it! Actually don’t (can you imagine?) In the meantime, we wish Cabernet Vegas all the very best in rehab, and let’s pull a collective cracker for little Chardonnay, whose tag gets removed in January. Huzzah!

As promised, Idle Eye also had a pop at something seasonal. No hats though, just a rather sad, out-of-character cameo as a Pizza Flyer Delivery Boy in the style of Alan Sillitoe. No jokes, neither. Because who wants them, FFS? There was some other stuff, but unless you were there (and let’s face it, you weren’t) there’s not a lot of point banging on about it. Wasn’t too bad, though.

Well, that’s it for 2016. It’s been a curious journey – from blog to book to the live shows – but I wouldn’t have it otherwise. I’ll write up one of those End of Year thingies after the Big One, but not until: I’ve got a £10 Majestic wine voucher that runs out today & I know where my priorities lie x

Broken Biscuits No.8.

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Last show of the year, so get yer ya-ya’s out and head off to the coast again! This time it’s at Bognor Regis’s magnificent SeaFiSh, the brainchild of Sean Bw Parker (who has kindly agreed to compere the evening) and inexplicably under threat from Arun District Council. It’s a venue that embraces all forms of the arts and is very much a cultural hive, so to lose it to jobsworths would be nothing short of criminal. Sean has set up a crowdfunding page here to help with legal costs, so if you can help in any way, please do.

Jenny Vegas and Jenny Lockyer are back for this one (in a curious J² BOGOF deal), and James Cook is flying in specially from Berlin to be with us once again – it’s not often you get to write stuff like this. Windy will be getting a look in as well, and the grapevine informs me that there will be a Christmas address, so Idle Eye will be digging deep to find something appropriate to the season. I know, I know. There may even be hats, heaven preserve us! All in all, not a bad way to end a particularly gruelling 2016, so very much worth making the trip for (unless you’re travelling on Southern, in which case we salute you and will arrange in situ councelling as you leave the train).

Broken Biscuits 8 – Fortifying the over forties for tea. I thank you x