A Secret Policeman’s Ball In New York

© Amnesty International

Last night saw the latest in a long line of Secret Policeman’s Ball events take place in New York City – the first time the Amnesty International fundraiser has taken place outside the UK.

The evening brought a cornucopia of comics together from both sides of the Atlantic, including a number of TVO favourites – plus a smattering of musical performances and video presentations from living legends to boot.  With live streaming (and premium rate broadcasting) across the USA via Epix, ahead of UK transmission on Friday March 9th and inevitable dvd/blu-ray releases, the night was a wonderful opportunity for American peelers to catch a glimpse of their favourites.

© Epix / Amnesty International

These included a reuniting of The Goth Detectives – namely Russell Brand and our very own Noel Fielding – for an exclusive set.  Their partnership was formed on The Big Fat Quiz Of The Yearin 2006, with a repeat performance in 2007’s edition and a set at the Teenage Cancer Trust shows that year.  As a result, their reunion has been a long time coming, and it appears to have pleased a lot of people on our Twitter stream!

Noel wasn’t the only TVO face involved, either.  Matt Berry performed a set with Anchorman star Paul Rudd, who is on record as a huge Snuffbox fan – appearing on the recent Region 1 dvd release of the show. Their sequence made a number of knowing references to Sarah Silverman, who had preceeded them (also a huge Boosh/Snuffbox fan and a Matt Berry collaborator), and culminated in the duo being heckled by Statler & Waldorf of The Muppets infamy!

© Getty Images

Chris O’Dowd was also on hand as part of an “Anonymous” sketch featuring Peter Serafinowicz, Tim Roth, Rachel Dratch and a surprise guest.  Alongside members of the Saturday Night Live team (including Lonely Island star Andy Samberg), the show also featured Hollywood star and Submarine exec producer Ben Stiller in a sequence alongside David Walliams, as well as routines from Eddie Izzard, Jack Whitehall, Mickey Flanagan, Jimmy Carr, John Oliver and many more – including individual video routines from Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones of Monty Python fame!

The very first Secret Policeman’s Ball took place 36 years ago – organised by Amnesty International and fellow Python John Cleese, and the 2006 edition featured Noel Fielding & Julian Barratt performing a condensed hybrid of “Pies” and “Pelt The Rabbit” from their then current live tour.

The shows aim to highlight the important work Amnesty does in highlighting human rights issues worldwide, and last night’s edition was no exception, as actor & director Maung Thura Zarganar of Myanmar explained how Amnesty International’s intervention released him from prison in 2009 after he was sent there for 11 years simply “for making jokes”.  You can find out more about their incredible work RIGHT HERE.

Friend of TVO, @Sasha Dove, attended last night’s event, and has sent us a write-up of her experience – battling public transport and having an impromptu reunion with the Pointy One… click “Continue reading”, to, you know… 

© Sasha Dove

My night started with me getting stuck underground on a subway train and then running ten blocks to Radio City. I got there just in time for what I thought was the beginning of the show. It was pretty fast paced, with each performance lasting about five minutes. There was an announcer throughout the show, interspersed with different celebrities announcing certain acts. John Oliver, as well as Statler and Waldorf appeared between many of the acts, performing short pieces.

Michael Palin, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones appeared in short video segments throughout the show, each one making an excuse involving their legs as reasons they couldn’t be there. Mumford and Sons performed three songs: “Little Lion Man”, “Ghosts That We Knew”, and “Roll Away Your Stone” . They were fantastic; really passionate and energetic. I wasn’t a Mumford fan before, but I think I may be one now.

Jack Whitehall’s set was fun and was built around such topics as the difference between British and American customer service, smart phones, “stealth sex” in his parents’ house, and his love for Tyra Banks and America’s Next Top Model.

There was a skit involving a group of actors in Guy Fawkes masks, at an “anonymous” meeting. Some of the actors included Chris O’Dowd, Peter Serafinowicz, Rachel Dratch, Tim Roth, and Richard Branson making a special appearance.  Jimmy Carr’s performance was gloriously, well, Jimmy Carr, with him making dirty sex jokes his whole set.

Matt Berry and Paul Rudd’s sketch began with comments on Sarah Silverman (she went on directly before them) and Matt and Paul’s mutual dislike of sushi, segueing into being heckled by Statler and Waldorf.  Mickey Flanagan gave a good performance, spending much of his time talking about the decline of fingering amongst teenagers.

Much of David Walliams and Ben Stiller’s set was centered around the difference between British English and American English, with them arguing over the correct pronunciation of aluminum/aluminium. It culminated in Ben Stiller doing his famous Blue Steel face from Zoolander.

Russell Brand gave a great performance, bringing back his “immigrant, pedophile snow” routine, and covering such topics as Fox News, living in America, and gay marriage. He also had some sort of rhinestone necklace hanging from his belt loops, over his crotch. I was too far away to figure out what it was, but I was glad to see him doing standup again after all his time in Hollywood.

The show ended with Eddie Izzard introducing Coldplay, who performed “Viva La Vida”, “Paradise”, and “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”.  At this point, I realize I hadn’t seen Noel Fielding perform and soon learned that he (as well as Izzard) went on while I was trapped underground. The show ended and I walked outside dejectedly.

However, all was not lost. After the show, standing outside on 6th avenue while feeling forlorn for missing the main person I came to see, I decide to take a chance and make a lap around the building. As I turn onto 51st, I notice a few groups of people waiting, as well as a number of limos in the street, with security protecting part of the exit. Jackpot. After about two minutes, the glittery one himself comes out of the building and walks directly in front of me. I’m debating whether or not to say something, but all I can do is stare awkwardly.

Shortly after, he’s standing in the street and I’m still staring. He looks over in my direction and I raise my arm, sneak past security and walk over to him. I tell him I missed his performance because I was stuck on a subway train and then introduced myself. We shared a handshake and a kiss on the cheek, and by that time security had noticed me and was giving me a hard time. We said goodbye. Night redeemed.

I’m still pissed off at the MTA.

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