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 The sweetness of the dog was superseded in his joke by the arrogance of the cat, ‘and this…is my arse!’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

RIP Ian Cognito

Ian’s gone. he died on stage on Thursday night. i knew him to an extent. when  i started out in the late 80’s he was one of the friendliest guys you could meet, a real tonic for a nervous newcomer.

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Cognito was a brilliant performer. I mean, literally, his stage skills were awesome. He could command the biggest venues with his charm and dramatic moves. He knew when to fill the stage, he also knew when to stay stock-still. Whatever he did the audience’s eyes were just glued to him. Physically he was not a tall man, but some instinct in him, some natural ability – or honed ability- made him bigger than life.

I don’t know if he ever went to drama school – I doubt it – but when it came to stage work he certainly had a genius.

In the light of his sudden passing, tributes and clips of his past shows proliferate on the web. Some of them come as a revelation…gems hidden away.

But, also, it’s sobering to hear some of his material…He was a genial bloke offstage, and that geniality while present onstage, is often punctured by the rants – is that really the same sweet guy?? – He often made it clear , in his ‘act’, what it was he didn’t like, and then proceeded to take the piss out of it. And that’s what Cognito the comic is remembered most for: the rant; the wild man; the breaking of rules….the Italian and Irish mix making for a benign dictator of satire.

But, irreverence apart,  he also had some great gags, with a smattering of surreal thrown in.

He boasted that he’d never been on telly. From what I knew of him I got the impression that he had some reticence, some insecurity, possibly, when it came to the media, to the BBC, to TV generally. I recall doing a radio chat thing with him in a small BBC radio station in Oxford, to plug some gig. He never gave the DJ one sensible answer, just bellowed through the entire interview. But he was probably right to be cynical.

I had him booked in for my end of May gig in Swansea. I think i will struggle to find a worthy replacement for such a charismatic comedian. Bugger