Pibwrlwyd

what a lovely word, it’s a village near Carmarthen. Today – wed 19th of June 2019 – i was there, delivering a talk to some catering students…not that i know much about that subject (apart from my love of food). I tried telling them my story so far. They were a tough crowd, being chilled to the point where they needed blankets!

 

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Jo Brand joke

June 17th 2019

It’s not a great joke, in my estimation, but I get it. Perhaps, had she said ‘Cow shit’ instead of battery acid there wouldn’t have been any flack.

I doubt if anybody would actually commit this act just from listening to Brand telling a joke on Radio 4…..a typical Radio 4 listener is more likely to come round your house and unlawfully dig up the weeds!

What’s weird is: the joke does not infringe any of our agreed political correct ‘rules’ i.e. it is not sexist or racist.  Yet she has apologised, while the BBC has removed it from the show. Is this what the rise of the right will lead to? Censorship?

Jeremy Hardy

This gentleman sadly lost his battle with cancer earlier this year – Feb 2019.

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I’m not going to pretend I knew him well. The strange thing is, having been on the comedy circuit since the late 80’s, I only got to meet and talk with him a couple of times, the most memorable meeting taking place in 2017…

(QUEUE HARP MUSIC, BLURRY VISION etc)

…..We were both playing a comedy festival in Cardigan, actually in a marquee on the grounds of Cardigan castle. We had separate marquees, mine could hold about 40 people his about 400.

For that show I eventually got about 7 punters while JH sold out – his Radio 4 fan base coming in handy no doubt.

As a Welsh man gigging in my own country I was of course miffed by these attendance figures. But luckily i’d arranged for the venue to agree to a guaranteed fee for me, not a lot but at least it was something.

Anyway, Jeremy and I bumped into each other in the courtyard. He recalled me from an earlier meeting in the Balham Banana Cabaret. He was so friendly, and wanted to meet for a beer after his show. I was surprised and  flattered. He always struck me as a nice guy. I then watched his show and of course he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He threw in a mensch for my show whilst onstage – not that it had much effect, but a cool thing to do nonetheless.

Jeremy was what is loosely termed a political comedian. Categorising comedians can be a bore, but one has to say that JH did submerge himself – material wise – in the illustration of what he perceived as right wing injustices. He apparently was once even shot at whilst visiting the West Bank by Israeli soldiers….some gig that must have been!

Unlike some comics who go on politics and human rights his material was free of hypocrisy i.e. he did not preach political correctness while at the same time picking on some other unsuspecting social group. Also, his material was genuinely witty, being clever in its structure and punchlines.

To be honest the only thing i now recall in detail of his material that night I recall because it angered me slightly.  I seem to remember him mentioning Plaid Cymru, saying “I wouldn’t vote for a party that has the words ‘national’ and ‘socialist’ in the title.”   The joke was essentially comparing Plaid Cymru to the Nazis. That to me was the only joke that lacked balance, because it’s a bit harsh to make that comparison in my opinion. Wales is after all only a small nation with a threatened culture!

As a person who raised in a welsh speaking home i am constantly reminded on my travels around Wales of the influx of people, and the disrespect often shown to the native language.  As i sat there in the audience for JH’s show I could tell – maybe he couldn’t – that a large proportion of them were incomers to Wales. The fact that JH referred to the crowd as ‘Welsh’ people made me laugh for the wrong reasons. Yes maybe they live and have bought homes in this beautiful part of the world, but are they even aware that the mountains, hills and fields around here have their own ancient names?  This irked me more because of the gig’s location. Cardigan is in west Wales which is still seen as a stronghold for the welsh language….an image which in reality is fast becoming bullshit. Walk down Cardigan high street and the accent you hear is just as likely to be Midlands, Yorkshire, or anything except the perceived stereotype.

Anyway we discussed it. And he bought me a pint. And it was all good.

Jack Russell

Jack Russell – or John Cowley – was an ace comedian. He passed over in Sep 2018. I was saddened to hear that. He’d been off the comedy circuit for a while…

By the way, people are starting to notice that i don’t write very much in this website – or cobwebsite, as i like to call it – so hell why not write a tribute to a guy who was my friend back in the day…

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He lived in Kingston, London, for much of the 1990’s, and booked a gig there. I recall many times doing the gig, then sleeping over in his house, going for walks, watching crap on the living room TV, getting stoned for hours. He introduced me to Bill Hicks, and thanks to Jack I finally got the American’s pseudo political take on the world.

This photo of JR links in nicely with his humour – one of his most memorable routines was about pets; dogs and especially cats. He’d describe with his unique wit the social manners of both, using both words and  simple mimes to sum up the common traits of each animal. The sweetness of the dog was superseded in his joke by the arrogance of the cat, ‘and this…is my arse!’ being the unforgettable punchline.

His comedy was intelligent, he was a purveyor of high humour if ever there was one one. And he never picked on people in his comedy, a nice, interesting guy both on and off stage.

 

Stand Up comedy workshops…….. As part of a Wales-wide arts festival for the over 50s Surreal Welsh comedian Noel James, who was a huge hit with Simon Cowell and co on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent last year, will be leading comedy workshops for the over 50s in the Swansea Valley next month. The sessions, which take place on Wednesday evenings in June/July between 7pm and 9pm, form part of Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival which celebrates creativity in older age. Talking about the workshops, Noel said: “A lot of people would like to try stand-up comedy but lack the courage to go on stage. On this course a safe, constructive, environment will be provided for beginners to test their own material out. Microphone technique; joke writing; timing and all aspects of performance and delivery will be covered.” This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone over 50 who has always wanted to try their hand at comedy but never had the opportunity. The workshops are structured so that the participants can hone their skills before appearing on stage – if they so wish! – and the atmosphere will be a positive one. Last year’s course was a big success, with constructive feedback along the way, and the showcase at the end, before a live audience, showed how latent talent can come to the fore when nurtured. More than one of last year’s students are continuing to develop their comedy, gigging around the welsh comedy scene. Come have a go. No matter however bizarre your ideas may be, I doubt very much they will shock Noel! If you wish to give one of the workshops a try then please call 07903 585227. Be bolder….not older