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So Hot Right Now #25

6 Apr

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

PIECES

© Jack Weatherley

© Jack Weatherley

This week sees the online debut of Jack Weatherley‘s sublime short film Pieces starring Michael SmileyAlice Lowe and Paul Kaye.

The short was shot last year, and appeared at a smattering of film festivals, including the Leeds International Film Festival in October. Following Jack’s 2011 short film debut Straight Way Lost (which also featured Paul Kaye), Pieces also stars Tanya Franks from Pulling and Defiance star George McKay.  To further the TVO connections, cinematography comes courtesy of Laurie Rose (Sightseers, A Field In England, Kill List, Down Terrace).  And the soundtrack comes via the impressive collaboration of Pablo Clements and James Griffith – both of UNKLE fame, under their Toydrum moniker.

Now at last, it will be released to a wider audience at some point on Monday, 6th April. As we went to press, we didn’t have a link to share with you, but please see our subsequent post about it, which includes the embedded film. Also, keep your eyes on Jack’s website and Twitter for updates.

NEW TO TV AND RADIO THIS WEEK

After a solid three months of heavy comedic artillery, with recent weeks featuring eight or nine shows per week with TVO regulars taking centre stage, this week is our first real ‘quiet one’ of the year. However, with Inside No. 9, Moone Boy and Travel Man on our tv screens, and Chat Show Roulette continuing on radio, there’s still plenty to savour, and a couple of cheeky bonuses if you know where to look. So, as always here’s a run-down of what to look out for over the next seven days.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10:00pm, BBC Two

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The dark comic anthology from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton has always been delightfully eclectic, and following two modern day tales of death and mystery, the third episode of this second series throws us back to Puritan days, as the gents pay homage to The Witchfinder General with their own The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge.

Gadge is an old crone accused of witchcraft, played by Ruth Sheen (Misfits, Bramwell). Shearsmith and Pemberton are the delightfully named witchfinder duo Mr Warren and Mr Clarke, whilst the legendary David Warner (The Omen, Time Bandits) plays local bigwig Sir Andrew Pike, who sees the trial as a tourist opportunity.

Warner last worked with S&P on the criminally underrated The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, so there’s a particularly arch pleasure in casting him in a similar vein here. There’s also appearances from the legendary Paul Kaye as Richard Two-Shoes (perhaps an ancestor of Johnny Two-Hats?), and Horrible Histories star Jim Howick.  The results are wickedly entertaining, as the episode allows S&P a chance to indulge their love of 70s horror and unleash their inner Vincent Price. What more do you need?

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9:00pm, Sky1

© Moone Boy

© Moone Boy

It’s never easy saying goodbye, and it’s even harder when you’re saying it to a show like Moone Boy, which never fails to charm us with its clever blend of familiar homespun charm and moments of downright madcap nonsense.

This week, Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy’s sitcom about a boy and his imaginary best friend in rural early-90s Ireland gets a touch of Hollywood glamour to send off its third series, as Anchorman megastar Paul Rudd makes a guest appearance, in an episode that manages to fuse the Irish civil war with George Gershwin and Godzilla. As you do…

It turns out that imaginary friends run in the family when Grandad’s childhood pal George Gershwin – a cool, piano-playing guy – turns up to fulfil his bucket list. Martin, Sean and Crunchie Haystacks (the ever brilliant Johnny Vegas) embark on a series of adventures to help him. Also, with summer just around the corner, Martin takes an unusual approach to his exam revision. Come back soon Moone Boy, for you will be missed.

TRAVEL MAN
Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Who would have thought that, only two episodes into Travel Man, that Richard Ayoade would be a natural host for this fast-paced holiday adventure series? Well, anyone who has previously enjoyed Gadget Man for one, or been charmed by Richard’s unique style over the years.

And he really is quite brilliant as the host of this new show, in which he is joined by celebrity guests and tasked to enjoy the most efficient weekend break possible. This week, he is joined by stand-up comic Adam Hills for a whirlwind weekend in Istanbul, Turkey.

The pair cross the River Bosphorus from Europe to Asia, comparing a private yacht tour with the low-price public ferry. They follow this up with an authentic Turkish shave at a local barbershop, and share an awkward moment at a local bath and massage parlour. Best of all, they visit the Grand Bazaar market, where both men have a go at haggling. Travel telly has never been this fun.

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

Justin Edwards returns as the host of long awaited radio improv show Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evening. The former live show, turned tv pilot, turned radio pilot finally came to air a few weeks ago, and has featured a strong line up of guests so far including Kevin Eldon, Matt Lucas, Cariad Lloyd and Charlie Higson amongst others.

Joining Justin this week are comedians Adil Ray, Jarred Christmas and Rachel Parris, and regular musical accompanier James Sherwood. As is the nature of improv, not everything works, but with talent like this, the vast majority of it is downright hilarious. Kick back and tune in.

THIS WEEK’S NOTEWORTHY REPEATS

© HBO

© HBO

Again, a bit of a slow week here, but there’s always chances to catch TVO classics if you know where to look. This week, with the fifth series of Game of Thrones just around the corner, Sky Atlantic are loving the opportunity to revisit the whole run. Which means, in recent weeks, we’ve seen the likes of Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains star Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy.

This week, they reach Series Four, which saw the return of Tony Way as Ser Dontos Hollard, who ends up playing a very key part in the Game. His three episodes are all being shown on Friday evening from 9pm. If you’ve missed out on GoT so far, and want to binge watch ahead of the new run, Now TV is offering the first four series as part of their ‘Boxset’ range for a limited time only, or you could always buy the dvd or blu-ray from our store.

IN OUR PERIPHERAL VISION

© BBC

© BBC

In a quiet week like this, it’s always good to cast a light on those just outside our remit who we love and admire, and would feature if only they worked with our regulars that little bit more often.

So this week, look out for the ever delightful Diane Morgan on the first new episode of Have I Got News For You this year, alongside The Thick of It and Alan Partridge co-creator, Armando Iannucci and guest host Daniel Radcliffe. The 49th (!) series starts on Friday night at 9pm on BBC One.

Listen out also for the re-run of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens on BBC Radio 4 all week long, mostly at 11:30pm every night. The fantasy epic features a top notch cast with a smattering of names that aren’t quite regulars here, but we think they’re brilliant all the same: including Mark Heap, Peter Serafinowicz and Julia Deakin (all Spaced veterans, no less), as well as Neil Maskell (Kill List, Utopia), Louise Brealey (Sherlock, The Government Inspector), Arsher Ali (Four Lions), Mark Benton (Inside No. 9) and many, many more.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

As is often the case, this week sees a smattering of TVO regulars appearing across London on various stages for your entertainment. So if you’re in the area, here’s where you can see them…

08/04/15 – Dan Clark: The Wow Wow Show! featuring Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman, Natasha Demetriou and The Wow Wow Band – The Soho Theatre, 9:30pm, £15

09/04/15 – Lou Sanders with Holly Burn, Richard Todd, Yacine Belhousse and Jayne Adams – The Glory, 7:30pm, £5

11/04/15 – Aisling Bea and Mae Martin – The Invisible Dot, 8pm, £10

Of course, if you’re on the other side of the world, then you can see Sarah KendallPaul Foot and Tony Law at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 19th. And if you’re in LA, keep your eyes peeled, as the recently emigrated brilliance that is James Bachman may just turn up on a bill near you.

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on at the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by. Until next time, keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #24

30 Mar

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

NEW TO TV AND RADIO THIS WEEK

It’s yet another packed week for top notch television and radio material, with a brand new show to savour and one last chance to see three others, so here’s a run-down of what to look out for over the next seven days.

TRAVEL MAN
Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

In recent years, Richard Ayoade‘s career branching would make his former alter-ego Dean Learner very proud indeed – as the Gadget Man becomes Travel Man for this brand new, four part series, starting this week.

Joined by celebrity guests, Richard’s task is to enjoy the most efficient weekend break possible. This week, he is joined by Kathy Burke for 48 hours in Barcelona, sampling adventurous cuisine, a football museum, a guided tricycle tour and a trip to see the surrealist work of Joan Miro.

These two talents will always make for affable company, and to spend half an hour with them is a pleasure. You can catch the show at 8:30pm on Monday evening, and it will be available on 4oD shortly after transmission.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10:00pm, BBC Two

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The darkly comic anthology series from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton continues with The 12 Days of Christine, guest starring the delightful Sheridan Smith and Da Vinci’s Demons star Tom Riley.

In this thrilling second installment, Christine Clarke brings a man back to her flat from a New Year’s Eve party and her life immediately starts to unravel, as a terrifying stranger keeps appearing in the apartment at night. There’s plenty of scope for Shearsmith to be downright creepy in this one, and it’s yet another great opportunity to see him and Pemberton at their finest.

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9:00pm, Sky 1 HD

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

Series Three of Moone Boy continues on Sky 1 this Monday evening, with the fifth of six new episodes from Chris O’Dowd and the team.

This week, Martin begins renovating his new ‘penthouse’, and the whole town wonders: does Boyle really need a Catholic book shop? Expect more of the usual off-kilter charm and madcap adventures from the gang. This show knows what it does well, and doesn’t plan on breaking the wheel any time soon, and every now and then, that’s exactly what we need.

SLEEPY TIGERS
Monday, 11:00pm, BBC Radio 4

© Alex MacQueen

© Alex MacQueen

Julia Davis and Marc Wooton return with a second one-off comedy, featuring Alex MacQueen and Rosie Cavaliero. Sleepy Tigers features Davis and Wooton as a couple of maternity nurses running their own business, who start taking over the lives of some very new parents.

Following last week’s delightful one-off Couples, which is now available on iPlayer, this is a rare excursion from Davis (currently filming Hunderby‘s festive special) that’s simply not to be missed!

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

© BBC

Justin Edwards returns as the host of long awaited radio improv show Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evening. The former live show, turned tv pilot, turned radio pilot finally came to air a few weeks ago, and has already featured Kevin Eldon in its debut episode.

This week features a strong batch of familiar names: Pompidou star Matt LucasCrims star Cariad LloydMan Down star Mike Wozniak and Fast Show legend Charlie Higson. Bring it on!

HOUSE OF FOOLS
Monday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

We bid a fond farewell to the House of Fools this week, as Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘s sublime sitcom madness winds up its second series, with special guest appearances by Sally Phillips and Tony Way.

This week, Vic has a big date with his ex-girlfriend, but when she cancels, his friends set about concocting an ingenious plan to make sure he isn’t left disappointed. It’s another slice of funtime from the bonkers duo, with series regulars Matt BerryDan SkinnerMorgana RobinsonDaniel Simonsen and Ellie White on hand once more to ensure the run finishes on fine form. We’re really going to miss this one…

NURSE
Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

It’s also time to say goodbye to the sublime Nurse – starring Paul Whitehouse and Esther Coles alongside TVO regulars Simon Day and Colin Hoult, and also featuring the incredible Vilma Hollingbery (Psychoville).

In the final installment, Liz’s personal problems come to a head and she is a lot less sympathetic with her ex-husband than with her service users. Elsewhere, former soldier Jack begins to build himself a dug-out in the back garden, Herbert confides that he would like some female company, and Graham manages to rise from his bed and walk.

Nurse has been a timely reminder of the important work done in the name of improving mental health services in the UK, and its sensitive portrayal of the issues on hand have highlighted just how far we still have to go as a nation. Above all else, it’s been delightful to spend time with Whitehouse’s gallery of characters, and Esther Coles has been magnificent as put-upon Liz. Here’s to a second run before too long…

POMPIDOU
Sunday, 6:35pm, BBC Two

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The rather hostile reception that dear ol’ Pompidou has received from certain elements of the press may make Sunday the last chance we have to spend time in the daffy aristocrat’s company. Despite a valiant defence from some quarters, it seems Matt Lucas new show hasn’t quite connected with audiences – which is a huge shame, as once cynicism is thrown out of the window, there’s much to adore here.

In this final installment, the electric heater in the caravan has broken down, and with Pompidou as broke as ever, there’s no chance of fixing it. The only thing left to do to get warm is go on holiday, but without the cash, he and butler Hove (the ever wonderful Alex MacQueen) must get creative. Enjoy it while you can…

THIS WEEK’S NOTEWORTHY REPEATS

© Dave / UKTV

© Dave / UKTV

There’s almost always good shows being repeated on a regular basis, but this week we get a couple of interesting ones to keep a look out for. Rhys Thomas multi-award winning documentary Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender gets a re-airing on Friday night at 9pm via BBC Four, and another noteworthy recent doc airs on Saturday night once again: Rik Mayall: Lord of Misrule is back on BBC Two at 10:45pm, paying tribute to the irreplaceable comedy legend.

Over on Radio 4 this week, the recent Milton Jones led project, Thanks a Lot, Milton Jones begins a re-run. If you missed it earlier this year, it features TVO regular Dan Tetsell alongside Tom Goodman-Hill and Josie Lawrence, and can be heard on Wednesday morning at 11:30am.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

© Dan Clark

© Dan Clark

As is often the case, this week sees a smattering of TVO regulars appearing across London on various stages for your entertainment. So if you’re in the area, here’s where you can see them…

31/03/15 – Joey Page with Michael Stranney and Paul F Taylor – Hemingford Arms, 7:30pm, Free

01/04/15 – Richard Sandling: Perfect Movie Live Podcast Show featuring Brett Goldstein – Betsey Trotwood, 8pm, £3.50-£5.00

02/04/15 – Lou Sanders and Amy Howeska – Cavendish Arms, 7pm, £5

02/04/15 – Dan Clark with Harry Deansway and Holly Burn – Aces and Eights, 7:30pm, £6

04/04/15 – Cariad Lloyd with Brett Goldstein and Jack Barry – The Invisible Dot, 8pm, £10

Of course, if you’re on the other side of the world, then you can see Sarah KendallPaul Foot and Tony Law at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 19th.

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on at the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by. Until next time, keep on peeling!

Dan Clark Announces UK Tour

9 Mar

© Dan Clark

After making us sad by telling us that he wouldn’t be preforming his live show Me, My Selfie & I again, Dan Clark has now made us VERY HAPPY INDEED by announcing that he’ll be touring it around the UK later this year!

The show picked up positive reviews when he took it to Edinburgh last year, so the tour provides the perfect opportunity for Clark fans beyond Edinburgh and London to experience it for themselves. It starts on 22nd October in Leicester, then takes in 17 venues in total, before winding up in Glasgow on 13th November.

To find out exactly where Dan will be gigging, and to buy tickets for the tour take a look at this here.

London folk can also see the second of Dan’s Wow Wow comedy nights at Soho Theatre on Wednesday 8th April. Tickets and info are available here.

Wow Wow Show Now!

17 Feb
© Dan Clark / Soho Theatre

© Dan Clark / Soho Theatre

Once upon a time, Kylie Minogue sang a song called Wow, in which she seemingly described being a horny insect (whose antennae were sensing you up, no less). Now, though, she could very well be going “Wow, wow, wow, wow!” for a whole other reason, as Dan Clark is to host a brand new monthly comedy night at the ever wonderful Soho Theatre.

The Wow Wow Show! will feature the former How Not to Live your Life star as the frontman for an evening of satnd-up and sketches from “the new wave of comic talent in the UK”: their words, not ours, but we love that they’ve adopted New Wave Comedy as a thing.

Promising a very British take on the American late-night talk show vibes of Letterman and Fallon, there’ll also be set pieces, a house band and some very special guests.

Who those guests are we cannot yet reveal, but given Clark’s reputation from six years of his own self-named club night, it’s going to be a pretty fantastic line-up, and at long last brings a regular club night back to the heart of London’s comedy scene with a velvety vibe to savour.

Tickets for the first show on Saturday, March 7th at 9:30pm are on sale now for just £15. Get in there fast, because this is going to be an event you’ll wish you were at afterwards!

Thanks For The Memories

5 Feb

Celebrating our 5th birthday this week has caused us to get a wee bit nostalgic. So we thought we’d collate some of those “Do you remember when?…” reminiscences into a Best of the first 5 years of TVO. It’s not a comprehensive overview of everything we’ve done, more a subjective account of a few of those ad hoc moments that made us feel warm, fuzzy and just a bit excited.

The favourite moments are different for all of us; sometimes it’s the memory of the event behind the article; sometimes it’s because we nailed an exclusive or wrote something that generated a huge amount of traffic for the website (one post last year generated over 13,000 unique visits in one day, fact fans!), and often it’s the buzz of being able to share something new, exciting and special with you, our readers. So here are a few of the happenings which have brought a smile to our faces over the past 5 years: 

Paul

© Paul Holmes

© Paul Holmes

There are so many glorious memories to treasure. There’s one particular Forgery Club that will forever be in my mind, presented by Hot Brew, and featuring a rare performance by Brown Jenkin (Colin Hoult & Stephen Evans), an appearance by The Mighty Thor and loads more. We were sat talking to Steve Oram before the show, and he noted that he’d never made it big because he liked to do things that broadcasters don’t know what to do with… then went on to give the audience an epic, ten minute long version of “Mary“. To this day, I can’t get a cab in London without thinking: “I will not go South of de river.”

I was particularly proud of the Mongrels takeover in November 2011, as various people being very busy meant I did that one pretty much solo, but was riddled with a genuine (and full blown) flu after arranging interviews with the whole cast and creator Adam Miller! I managed to salvage the interviews, strike up positive relationships with every single one of the team I spoke to which continue to this day, and fix up a wodge of behind the scenes stuff AND a competition to win DVDs of Series One, despite being unable to stand up or focus on a screen for more than a few minutes at a time. If you click here and scroll down, you can see everything.

Another good one to mention is Zimbani, which came to my attention early on in the life of TVO, when Dave McNeill & Colin Hoult emailed me to enthuse about their new show featuring Julian Barratt. It was the first time anyone had come to me direct outside of casual chatter, and really began expanding our world for the first time. Colin later made my partner, and occasional TVO designer, Lauren, get down on all fours and pretend to be a pig in front of Simon Amstell. Now that was a strange moment.

Then again, there’s many of those. Getting accidentally lost for a moment in a strange building behind the London Palladium with Isy Suttie at a screening of Alice Lowe‘s People Place. Similarly, getting trapped in a lift with Mike Fielding and an old lady who refused to let anyone else press the buttons to get us out of this chaos. And then there’s that strange bar James Wren led a motley post-Spank crew along to that felt like something out of a Bond film, somehow managing to stay glamorous at 3am. It’s been a funny old time.  But above all else, it’s just been nice to be welcomed into the fold of this wonderful group of friends and collaborators, and be trusted to give them everything I can to help their work reach a wider crowd. Let’s keep doing it, eh?

Mog

Having been involved in TVO since the very early days makes picking a favourite moment is a real challenge – but this one was pretty special: In 2011 Dave Brown was putting together Noel Fielding‘s art book Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton. They needed one last thing to finish it off before it was sent to the printers, and they contacted us to provide it. We were able to offer our readers the opportunity to have a photograph of their faces painted over by Noel and included in the book. A double page spread of your lovely faces appeared in the book when it was published, alongside the caption ‘MY TINY CHILDREN’. A wonderful show of their appreciation for the fans, and something which we were delighted to facilitate on their behalf.

© Noel Fielding/Dave Brown

Our Sightseers take-over was pretty special too (click here and scroll down). We had no idea it would become such a cult hit at the time, and it was great to be able to support so many of ‘our lot’ (Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Richard Glover Tom Meeten) with a week of exclusives.

© Big Face Productions

On a personal level, getting to know a few of the people who we write about – and discovering that they’re damned nice people as well as being unbelievably talented – has been a privilege.

A particular high point has been getting to know Hoppo. Introduced to me at Club Fantastico as “the only man to have survived Old Gregg”, John Hopkins turned out to have a TVO pedigree as long as his (long) arms, being part of the original Ealing Live gang and having worked with half of the people that we cover. He’s also lovely. If you don’t know who he is, we urge you to read our interview/profile about him and check out his stuff.

Helen

There are lots of brilliant moments I could mention, but as a fan of Hayden Black, it’s been a pleasure getting the chance to spread the word about him. I guess I’ve become our resident expert on Hayden’s creative and comedic output; take a look at this to find out more.

Paulyne

The moment that stands out in my mind is Fulchfest (Rich Fulcher‘s legendary comedy night in Kentish Town). I’d say that was the most fun I could have. This Pete Heat video that we filmed summarises it perfectly:

I’ve also had some brilliantly fun nights at Dan Clark gigs – often with Mog. Here’s a review of one of them.

© Mog

Aggie

I think my favourite moment is the Zappa Plays Zappa gig at the Camden Roundhouse, with The Mighty Boosh Band as support. Being surrounded by odd men with moustaches while weird music was playing… and then rushing across town to a Rich Fulcher gig – where all the familiar faces already were. It was a perfect blend of what started it all and the new direction TVO had pushed us all in.

Rosanna

Seeing the Boosh warm-up gigs in 2013 was great, and it was lovely going to Soho Theatre as part of the TVO team. It was brilliant to see them on stage together again, in a lovely small venue, with the magic between them there as if they’d never gone away. The review was great too!

I loved going to see the Inside No. 9 preview at the BFI. It’s now one of my favourite pieces of TV and seeing it in the cinema was really special.

Michael

Being involved in filming TVO Live was one the most fun shoots I’ve done, but also the toughest because it was so difficult holding the camera still due to my laughter! We couldn’t have wished for a better line up. Fingers crossed for a TVO Live 2!

Trixie

My favorite TVO memory is of when I interviewed Rich Fulcher in LA. I hadn’t done anything like it before, and he was so funny and generous! I admire Rich so much, and it was wonderful that he was everything he seems to be and more. A truly funny man.

Becca

The Luxury Comedy coffee competition was great, because it encouraged people to create something artistic. And I loved the series of Noel Fielding interviews to celebrate his birthday, which featured questions from our readers:

So there you have it – a sprinkling of very happy memories from a few of us. A big TVO thank you to the artists who we write about, who have provided us with these highs and who make it all possible. And thanks too to you, for being interested enough in what we do to come with us on our journey to the outer reaches of the comedy universe. It’s been quite a ride so far…

Sabotage For Dan & Colin

13 Nov
© Hat Trick

© Hat Trick

TVO regulars Dan Clark and Colin Hoult are taking part in Sabotage, the hour-long radio show that prides itself on being ‘a comedy show for comedy fans’!

The first series featured Aisling Bea and Kevin Eldon, among a host of great comedy favourites.

The show is made by Hat Trick productions and you can get tickets here for the recordings. Colin and Dan are at the 3rd December recording and there is also one on 26th November.

The philosophy of the shows is ‘ make our audience feel like they are part of something very special and exclusive’, so why not give it a try if you are lucky enough to get tickets.

Julia Davis & Dan Clark Collaboration Gets The Green Light

11 Nov

© Alasdair McLellan/Knock2Bag

At The Velvet Onion we get particularly excited when the different artists that we write about join forces to create something new together. Morning Has Broken is one such project – featuring the talents of Julia Davis and Dan Clark.

Morning Has Broken is a sitcom written by and starring Davis, and directed by Clark. Back in April we reported that the 45-minute pilot episode was in production, but there was no news about a likely full series. When we spoke to Dan during the summer he wasn’t even sure if we’d ever get to see it. Thankfully, on the strength of the pilot Channel 4 have decided to commission a full 6-part series!

The series follows the story of Gail Sinclair (Davis), the star of daily television programme, Good Morning… with Gail Sinclair. After eight years of high ratings and awards, the show featuring ‘The Queen of Daytime’ starts to lose viewers and tensions build within the production team.

Producers of the show have said: “It’s a show less about the making of television and more about the relationships between a group of co-workers who, everyday, are under the immense pressure to deliver topical, meaningful content in the world of current affairs, lifestyle, medical issues and showbiz.”

The series is planned to air on Channel 4 in 2015 – and we’ll be bringing you more news as we have it!

Me, My Selfie & I In LA

10 Oct

© Dave Brown

Dan Clark is bringing his recent Edinburgh show, Me My Selfie & I to the US. He will be perfuming a one-off gig at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in LA.

For those of you who are more familiar with Dan through the TV show How Not To Live Your Life, be warned – at 38 years old he’s finally growing up (sort of). Expect a little more introspection and few less knob gags than before, but lots of wit, charm and a bit of edge.

Here’s what a couple of reviewers had to say about the show, and here’s what Dan told us about it when we spoke to him.

The gig takes place at 8pm PDT on Thursday 16th October, and tickets are an incredibly reasonable $5.

To find out more and to book your tickets click here.

The Fringe Is Upon Us!

31 Jul

This Friday sees the launch of the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and as always, a number of TVO regulars are joining the thousands of shows on offer throughout August.

With new shows from the likes of Dan ClarkRachel Stubbings, Kim NoblePaul FootJoey PageSarah Kendall and Tony Law on offer, plus plays featuring Stubbings and Justin Edwards, it’s a pretty packed schedule for Onion fans, and there’s a whole host of other great shows to look out for too.

As such, we felt it was a good time to summarise some of this year’s juiciest offerings, for those of you unsure of what to see from a stuffed to the gills festival.

The TVO Regulars

© Feature Spot Productions

© Feature Spot Productions

DAN CLARK: Me, My Selfie and I

The star of How Not To Live Your Life reinvented himself last year as a fully fledged comedy rock star, with a critically acclaimed album under his belt containing such classics as Pippa and Tranny With Amnesia.  Now he’s back to what he does best: upbeat, slightly filthy but downright heart-warming stand-up. His new show focuses on “love, death and crushing loneliness”, but in typical Dan style, you’ll leave feeling good about life.

Pleasance Dome – 8:20pm, Aug 1-12, 14-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Avalon Promotions Ltd.

© Avalon Promotions Ltd.

I KILLED RASPUTIN

Written by comedy legend Richard Herring, this new play focuses on Felix Yusupov, conspirator in the murder of Rasputin, being interviewed by American journalist EM Halliday over fifty years later in 1967.  The former richest man in Russia is now reduced to making money from his tall tale, and Halliday is determined to finally reveal the truth.  The Thick of It star (and Ealing Live veteran) Justin Edwards stars alongside Nichola McAuliffe.

Assembly George Square Theatre – 3:35pm, Aug 1-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© IMWP

© IMWP

PAUL FOOT: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major

It’s often hard to quantify the components of a Paul Foot show, so we’ll let the magic mind of Mr Foot do the work for us here:

“Glistening in the wake of last night’s pearl saga, premium line – caught Sally’s clam fist choir socks it to the salt babes big time baybayyyy. Cutlery cage enquiries? First come, first preserved.”  Well, quite.

Underbelly, Cowgate – 7:30pm, Aug 1-10, 12-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Mick Perrin Worldwide / PBJ Management

© Mick Perrin Worldwide / PBJ Management

SARAH KENDALL: Touchdown

She came. She saw. She conquered the Newcastle and District Under-14s Touch Rugby Competition.  The former Beehive regular and stand-up veteran is back with a look back to 1992, when she was forced to play Women’s Touch Rugby and accidentally made minor history.

Another unmissable hour with one of Australia’s finest exports.

Pleasant Courtyard – 9:30pm, Aug 1-10, 12-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Tony Law / Show and Tell

© Tony Law / Show and Tell

TONY LAW: Enter the Tonezone

Ah, Tony. The Tonester. The Tonezone. Ealing Live veteran turned surrealist stand-up comedy demigod, the truth about the ToneZone is you either enter it willingly or you stand at the entrance, looking confused and miming indicators that you’ve lost your wallet and will have to give it a miss.  His latest show offers life affirming, changing comedy, and a promise of ‘Testicle Ankle’. Don’t ask, just savour it.

The Stand Comedy Club III & IV – 12:10pm, Aug 1-10, 12-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Soho Theatre

© Soho Theatre

KIM NOBLE You’re Not Alone

Kim Noble is a comedic law unto himself, and never one to rest on his laurels, he’s propelled his work into multi-media performance and film in recent years.  You’re Not Alone continues down this path, taking audiences on a journey throw tower blocks, supermarkets and Facebook as the star of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Luxury Comedy chronicles his attempts at connection, friendship and employment at B&Q.

Traverse Theatre – 11:15pm, Aug 19-24

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© PBJ Management

© PBJ Management

JOEY PAGE: This is Not a Circus

Self-proclaimed as “everybody’s 18th favourite absurd comedian”, Joey Page has been grafting a solid reputation for himself since his early appearances as a protégé of a certain luxurious comedian.  Appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and a few seconds as a burnt sausage here have only served to increase the fanbase built up by steady gigging nationwide, and his latest technicoloured extravaganza is as silly and irreverent as ever.

Underbelly, Bristo Square – 10:45pm, Aug 1-11, 13-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Live Nation / Mike Leigh Associates

© Live Nation / Mike Leigh Associates

RACHEL STUBBINGS: Doing It for Himself

First coming to our attention via her work with Alice Lowe on Jackal Films, Rachel Stubbings became a cult icon for her Stubbing Out Problems web shorts and Edinburgh show, before branching out as an actress and film-maker in her own right. This year she returns to Edinburgh with a show about her trial by error existence, as she tries to become a cool independent woman, all by himself.

Underbelly, Bristo Square – 3:00pm, Aug 1-11, 13-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Pure Theatre LLP

© Pure Theatre LLP

THE 3RD SECTOR

As well as her own standup show and the first five performance of Knightmare LiveRachel Stubbings will also be appearing in satirical play The 3rd Sector during the festival, which is inspired by real-life experiences and brought to life by Pure Theatre Productions.  It tells the story of Marlin and Josh who discover their role in a corrupt corporate charity, and examines the ethics of giving when we donate first and ask questions later.

Pleasance Courtyard – 12:15pm, Aug 1-10, 12-25

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

Other Recommendations

TVO is designed to focus on a family of frequent collaborators, but that’s not to say we don’t enjoy a number of other comedy acts on the circuit.  The Edinburgh festival gives us a rare chance to shout out about some names we don’t normally get to feature, including several who often share the bill with ‘our lot’.  If you’re still looking for shows to see beyond the main bunch above, you could do a lot worse than following some of our suggestions below.

© The Pleasance / PBJ Management

© The Pleasance / PBJ Management

CARDINAL BURNS

Following on from their smash hit second series for Channel 4, which featured TVO veteran Rufus Jones, no less, the cult favourites return to Edinburgh for a limited eight night run towards the end of the festival.

Expect a smattering of old favourites and potentially some new material ahead of a third telly run.

Pleasance Courtyard – 22:00pm, Aug 15-17, 19-23

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

 

© Anil Desai

© Anil Desai

ANIL DESAI’S Last Night at the Movies / Not Indian Enough

The globe-trotting impressionist returns to the Free Fringe circuit this year, with over 50 movie star impressions mixed into stand-up stories of comedy, action, adventure and romance in Last Night at the Movies, plus a second show, Not Indian Enough featuring all new stand-up material from the gifted mimic, comic talent and all round charming gent.

Formerly of sketch troupe The Giant Pineapple Boys, and presenter of James Wren’s Spank! at previous festivals, Anil was also a supporting cast member on Goodness Gracious Me, so be in no doubt of his prestige due to his commitment to the free fringe.  Getting one free show from Anil was impressive, getting two is phenomenal!

Not Indian Enough: Cowgatehead – 5:00pm, Aug 1-24
Last Night at the Movies: Laughing Horse @ City Cafe – 8:00pm, Aug 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24

Free show, for details CLICK HERE!

 

© The Grandees

© The Grandees

THE GRANDEES: A Creepshow / BaBoom!

Not one, but two new shows from the rapid fire sketch trio described by Hen & Chickens head honcho (and TVO regular) James Wren as “The most inventive, creative, bonkers group I’ve seen since we had the Boosh.”

The trio all appeared in TVO classic The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains, and Marny Godden was also in Kill Phil earlier this year, so the TVO connections are strong, marking them as one to watch.

A Creepshow lets the team go dark with creeps, crawlers and chaos, whilst BaBoom! is the latest installment in their sketch comedy madness. See both.

A Creepshow: Heroes @ The Hive – 8:45pm, Aug 1-11, 13-24
BaBoom!: Underbelly, Cowgate – 4:00pm, Aug 1-11, 13-24

For A Creepshow tickets, CLICK HERE! For BaBoom! tickets, CLICK HERE!

 

© Lee Griffith

© Lee Griffiths

LEE GRIFFITHS: Post Traumatic Sketch Disorder / LATE NIGHT GIMP FIGHT: The Worst Of

The biggest crime against comedy nature this year is the lack of a fully fledged show from Fringe veterans Late Night Gimp Fight – TVO favourites and smashing blokes one and all.  But whilst we have to contend with a humble three-night best of from the team, one Gimp is bringing his own unique brand of stand-up to life in his own right.

Lee Griffiths (aka the ‘Head Gimp’) promises a messy, dark and (he hopes) funny show which will unclog the nonsense from his head, and explain in detail why his family is more messed up than yours.

Lee Griffiths: Post Traumatic Sketch Disorder: Pleasance Courtyard – 7:15pm, Aug 1-24
The Worst of Late Night Gimp Fight: Pleasance Courtard – 11:00pm, Aug 21-23

For Lee Griffiths tickets, CLICK HERE! For Late Night Gimp Fight tickets, CLICK HERE!

© Supporting Wall

© Supporting Wall

JONNY & THE BAPTISTS: The Satiric Verses / JONNY DONAHOE: Class Whore

Earlier this year, musical satirists and generally lovely chaps Jonny & The Baptists got into an awful lot of hot water, by pissing off a ‘political’ party with a camptastic disco number.  The duo’s brilliant UK tour subsequently had to be manned by heavy security, and they stoked the fires a little further by collaborating with Mark Thomas to campaign to get ‘farage’ entered into the dictionary as another word for ‘bin juice’. Use it – it’s fun.

Now they’re back in Edinburgh with their latest concoctions. Expect musical treats galore – and if you can’t get enough Jonny, you can see his 2013 solo show ‘Class Whore’ for free towards the end of the month.  Their show will also be transmitted to cinemas nationwide, so stay tuned for more info on that when we get it!

Jonny & The Baptists The Satiric Verses: Pleasance Dome, 9:40pm, Aug 1-10 12-24
Jonny Donahoe, Class Whore: Cowgatehead, 7:30pm, Aug 12-16 19-24

For Jonny & The Baptists tickets, CLICK HERE! For free Jonny Donahoe tickets, CLICK HERE!

And that’s just the tip of the ice berg! With great shows from Nathaniel Metcalfe, Lou Sanders, Susan CalmanAndrew O’Neill, Will Adamsdale, Gareth Morinan and many more on offer, we can’t help but tell you to just take in as much as you can beyond the big guns.  You just may be watching the big stars of tomorrow.

Enjoy the fringe, everyone!

Dan Clark: Growing Up For Edinburgh

8 Jul

© comedy.co.uk

Last week Dan Clark performed a couple of warm up gigs in preparation for the run of his new show, Me, My Selfie and I, at the Edinburgh Fringe. We were lucky enough to grab a chat with Dan after his sold out show at The Pleasance in Islington. Velveteer Mog reports:

In the past, Dan Clark’s on-stage persona has felt like an extension of his best-known on screen creation, Don Danbury. Although a tad more charismatic and a lot more musical than the feckless anti-hero from How Not To Live Your Life, the distinction between Dan and Don wasn’t always clear. Dan’s new show, on the other hand, sees him in more contemplative, grown up mood. Like most men in their thirties, Dan hasn’t abandoned his laddish youthfulness completely – you’ll be relieved to know that the wank gags are still there – but now they’re framed with moments of mature introspection.

Dan acknowledges that the shift in tone could challenge some of his fan base: “It’s my most personal and honest show,” he says, “For an audience who have come to see Don Danbury, and you talk about death and mortality when they’re expecting knob gags, they might get confused.” So why the change? He explains: “I fell out of love with it (comedy), and I didn’t like what I was watching on TV, so I thought if I’m going to do this again, I’m going to write a bit more from the heart. There are plenty of 30-something comedians just doing jokes; we don’t need another one.”

© The Evening Standard

This is Dan’s first entirely-solo show for seven years, having previously gigged with guest musicians (in the shape of regular collaborator, Ben Parker), or in the case of his most recent stage show, These Songs May Contain Jokes, an entire backing band. He says that he misses the camaraderie of being part of a gang  (“You feel safer when you’re on stage with other people”) and the buzz of rocking out with his musical mates every night – they regularly ended their set to standing ovations: “They were the most fun shows to play; nothing beats that…but I can’t afford to take those fuckers to Edinburgh!” He laughs.

Music still played a part in his warm up shows last week, however – even if it’s now one man and his guitar. Dan’s cleverness in weaving together strange comedy and genuinely tuneful melodies is something that distinguishes him from his peers. He acknowledges that ‘comedy + music’ is a magical mixture which audiences lap up: “Even if the material isn’t that funny, it’s the combination of it being quite amusing, with music – the room just loves it.” Dan notes that the comedy community is still figuring out whether it’s a cheap trick to get easy laughs or a sophisticated comedic ploy that cleverly works an audience.

© Dave Brown

The Edinburgh Fringe can be something of an endurance test for artists – nearly 4 weeks of tough audiences, late nights and – sometimes – bitter critics. Dan recalls a particularly biting review of his 2005 Edinburgh show, in which he was awarded 1 star. The following year the same critic gave him 2 stars, perhaps in recognition that she had been immortalised, none too positively, in one of his songs. So does a poor review hurt?

“Bad reviews are no longer yesterday’s newspaper,” Dan explains. “They stick around on the Internet. Someone googles your name and that 1 star review is the third thing that comes up!”  He compares the power that the critics wield to that of Simon Cowell on X-Factor, “Except in print you don’t get the humour or charm you get on TV. It just comes across as vicious.” He sighs and smiles, “Aaah, I can’t wait!”

The Velvet Onion would like to thank Dan for taking the time to chat to us last week, and we wish him all the best for Edinburgh. Don’t forget that you can see show Me, My Selfie & I at The Pleasance Dome from 30th July to 24th August. For more information and to buy tickets take a look at this.

Besides his own show, Dan’s other recommendation for TVO readers heading to the Fringe is Every Loser Wins, a cabaret-based comedy featuring the lovely Kelly Wenham and Simon Salmon. Dan describes it as: “A character comedy show with silly and weird characters” and reckons fans of Boosh/Paul Foot humour will love it. To check it out for yourself, head on over here.

TVOers On Tour

7 Jul

tvoukWith the Edinburgh Festival looming, the time has come for preview season to hit the land, and a number of TVO regulars – some of which are usually confined to the London area – are out and about and possibly in your area!

First up, Dan Clark will be previewing his Edinburgh show Me, My Selfie And I in Darlington (Sunday 13th July) and Leicester (Tuesday 22nd July).  The continually touring Paul Foot will also be visiting Leicester (Wednesday 23rd July) and is at the Larmer Tree Festival next week (Friday 18th July) – as well as taking his Edinburgh show Paul Foot’s Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon Sharp Major on tour in the Autumn.

There’s a rare chance to see Sarah Kendall‘s Edinburgh show Touchdown as part of the Cambridge Comedy Festival on Sunday 20th July, whilst Aisling Bea (without an Edinburgh show this year, sadly) continues her near constant gig schedule with appearances at Latitude Festival the same weekend, and The Pheonix Fringe in London on August 7th.

Festival booking seems to be the in-thing at the moment – as Colin Hoult is rocking Camp Bestival between July 31st and August 1st in East Lulworth, and cheeky chappy Joey Page is at Milton Keynes Fringe on Sunday 20th July.  Meanwhile, King of Krazy Tony Law lets the good people of Tring enter the Tone-Zone on Sunday 13th July, the folks in Leicester on Wednesday 16th July, and lots of places across the land this Autumn.

This week also sees friend of TVO and frequent Rich Fulcher collaborator, Harry Deansway make a rare excursion to the North West – he’s performing at The King’s Arms in Salford on Thursday night, previewing his new show Harry Deansway is a Bit of a Character Android.  Tickets are available right now.

The Edinburgh Fringe Approaches

17 Jun

© The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014

For three weeks every year thousands of shows from the worlds of comedy, theatre and anything else you can think of descend on Edinburgh for the largest arts festival in the world. The full programme for the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 has now been launched and of course there are many TVO regulars making an appearance.

The full programme can be viewed and all tickets can bought over at the fringe website. Read on to see our round-up of what’s on offer.

Continue reading

Another Chance To Catch Clark

12 Jun

© Dan Clark

If you managed to miss Dan Clark’s run at Soho Theatre last week, fret not – because there are now two more opprotunties to see his new show!

Dan will be performing previews of his 2014 Edinburgh show Me, My Selfie & I at Kokomedia in Brighton 27th June and at The Pleasance Islington on 1st July. Tickets for both shows are a mere fiver. Seriously. Just click on the relevant link to book.

And if you’re lucky enough to be heading on up to the Edinburgh Fringe, you can see Dan from 30th July -to24th August at the Pleasance Dome. Take a look here for further details and to procure tickets.

Take a look at our earlier review of one of Dan’s warm ups for a flavour of what it’s all about.

Wee Paper People

1 Jun

Regular readers of TVO might remember Paper People – cut out and keep paper models of your favourite TVO folk. We’ve just revisited the site and there are many, many more characters for you to cut out and keep. How many do you recognise from the pictures below?

If you can’t wait to get your hands on your own Wee Paper People, all you have to do is click on the website, download your favourites then print and assemble. Assembly instructions are on the site.

If you want something more personal, the creator of all these fantastic models, Sally Grosart, can make personalised little people of your friends and family, or personalised cards or banners. To contact Sally and see the rest of her creations click here.

New Julia Davis & Dan Clark Project

18 Apr

© Sutton Guardian

Following hot on the heels of the award-winning Hunderby, Julia Davis has been working on a new pilot for Channel 4.

Morning Has Broken follows the story of Gail Sinclair, the star of daily television programme, Good Morning… with Gail Sinclair. After eight years of high ratings and awards, the show featuring ‘The Queen of Daytime’ starts to lose viewers and tensions build within the production team.

Morning Has Broken has been written by and will star Davis, and the 45-minute pilot episode (which will be filmed in London next month) will be directed by none other than Dan Clark!

Producers of the show have said: “It’s a show less about the making of television and more about the relationships between a group of co-workers who, everyday, are under the immense pressure to deliver topical, meaningful content in the world of current affairs, lifestyle, medical issues and showbiz.”

If the pilot episode proves popular with the big cheeses at Channel 4, a full series should go into production later this year.

We’re seriously looking forwards to this one!

Me, My Selfie & I

17 Apr

Perennial TVO favourite Dan Clark has been warming up for his forthcoming Soho gigs. Velveteer Paulyne was able to sneek a peek at his new material; here’s her report:

After a long day, one thing that very much hits the spot is a large pizza in a pub and some comedy. I made my way to Aces & Spades in London (regular venue for Harry Deansway’s Shambles nights) to see TVO regular, Dan Clark – the first time in a while, in preparation for his upcoming run at Soho Theatre.

His show will be titled Me, My Selfie & I and with our tickets being just £3, that tends to be a telltale that we were in notes-in-hand and ‘let’s just see what happens’ territory, and we were. And it was great.

Soho Theatre

The one thing I love about warm-ups is that apart from seeing new material from your favourite comics, you are seeing a stripped-down, unpolished script from them, which feels nicely relaxed and casual. However, some audience members seemed to think that the environment was more akin to their living room, and it was therefore acceptable to yell at the stage and discuss what they would be having for dinner. Clark handled it in the charmingly sharp way we’ve always seen and loved at Clark’s, and then we were able to sit back, relax and enjoy the comedy again.

Avoiding spoilers, one thing you can expect if (when) you pop along to Soho Theatre to see his show, is that ‘Don Danbury’ is no more. Clark very much steered away from the juvenile character he’s found fame with, and instead we heard about the trials and tribulations of being a fully-fledged adult.

Witty, natural and great fun – and a tad more grown up,  I predict the appearance of a new fanbase alongside his existing fans of the vagina and penis jokes (to those fans, don’t worry, there’s still some of those too).

You can catch Me, My Selfie & I at the Soho Theatre for a run of 5 nights from 3rd – 7th June (inc.). Tickets are £10 for each night and can be purchased here.

Joey Page & Dan Clark In Soho (& Beyond)

15 Mar

© Amused Moose/Dan Clark

Soho Theatre has hosted gigs by a bevy of TVO-related artists over recent years and the next few months are no exception, with shows  from Joey Page and Dan Clark in the pipeline.

Joey will be bringing his fantastical bag of comedy goodies to Soho on Thursday 15th May. He’s be performing at Soho Upstairs and tickets for the show cost £10. For more information about Joey’s gig and to book tickets click here.

Dan will be performing upstairs at the theatre for a run of 5 nights from 3rd – 7th June (inc.). He’ll be trying out new material for his upcoming new stand up show, so head on down there to see the magic taking shape. Tickets are £10 for each night and can be purchased here.

The impatient amongst you don’t have to wait that long to see Dan either, because he’s performing at awesome comedy night Shambles this week, on Thursday March 20th. The gig takes place at 7pm at Aces & Eights, 156-158 Fortess Rd, Tufnell Park London and tickets cost a mere £6.95. They’re available to procure in advance here.

 

 

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Three

3 Jan

If you’ve previously taken a mosey through Part One and Part Two of our Review of 2013, you’ll already be aware that it’s been a busy old year in Onion Land. July to September was no exception, with news, reviews, new shows and live performances from both our regulars and the new names on our roster.

So here are the best bits from the third quarter of the year – hand-picked from over 700 news stories across 2013, and jam-packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike. Enjoy.

JULY

The month began with the release of Dan Clark‘s debut album, Dan Clark & The Difficult Three, which had been funded via a successful Pledge Music campaign. Combining genuinely funny lyrics with proper tunes played by a bona fide band, the record offered fans of Clark’s musical comedy an opportunity to re-live some of his live show classics and enjoy some newer compositions. For a wee taster, here below is a live recording of ‘Don’t Kiss Me’ (and if you fancy buying a copy of the album, head on over here):

We also featured a series of introductions to the TVO-recommended artists you could see at 2013’s Edinburgh Fringe. We intentionally mixed up the folk who we already write about with the people who we define as “beyond the Onion”; those featured included Colin Hoult, Tony Law,  Paul FootSpank, Joey PageAisling Bea, Late Night Gimp Fight, Tim Fitzhigham, Jonny & The Baptists (+ Jonny Donahoe), Pete Heat and Glen Wool.

On 19th July the world of comedy sadly lost one of its pioneers, in the shape of Mel Smith. Whilst Smith’s contribution to modern comedy is undeniable, we can also claim a link between him and the TVO family, with Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthew’s first TV sketches being written for Alas, Smith And Jones. You can watch one of them below:

In terms of new TV and film projects, this month saw the release of Ben Wheatley‘s hotly-anticipated follow-up to Sightseers, the psychedelically historical A Field In England, which launched simultaneously in cinemas, on TV and on DVD on 5th July.

Filming also began on the second series of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, and the Marmite-like TV adaptation of Graham Linehan’s Count Arthur Strong also hit our screens. Chris O’Dowd continued with his world domination of the airwaves with a role in the part-improvised US sitcom Family Tree:

Finally, fans of The Mighty Boosh got all hot and bothered over Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt‘s first live performance together since 2010 when the pair performed at The Barbican at a concert to honour the musician, Beck. Expect a bit more of the Boosh boys down below (honestly not as rude as it sounds)…

Continue reading

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part One

1 Jan

2013 has been a funny old year in Onion Land. We’ve seen our regulars scoop bucketloads of awards, from Best British Film at the Empire Awards to International Emmy Awards and everything in-between. Some names on our roster have reached new heights of success, becoming household names to people who have no idea of their cult origins. Others have just continued being quietly amazing, but all of them have been worthy of your attention.

As a result, we’ve been ploughing through the 12 months of TVO, to pluck out the best bits from over 700 news stories across 2013. This first instalment of our round-up covers January-March, and is jam packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike.  Enjoy.

JANUARY

The year began quietly, with the only key new show on the box being, on the surface, designed for kids. FIT was a sports-based sketch show on CBBC from the team behind Sorry, I’ve Got No Head, and featured TVO regulars Tony WayRufus Jones and Aisling Bea in its ensemble cast. For the most part, however, it was the involvement of Peter Serafinowicz – reprising his beloved cult character Brian Butterfield – which got everyone’s attention…

On the other end of the spectrum, Michael SmileyDan Tetsell and Simon Farnaby turned up in the very-much-for-grown-ups cyber-thiller Utopia on Channel 4. The show concerned itself with attempts to trace the only known copy of a graphic novel which left a trail of bloody carnage in its wake. With Four Lions star Adeel Akhtar part of its ensemble cast, as well as Kill List actor Neil Maskell as a creepy hitman, and The Thick Of It‘s Paul Higgins as a blackmailed civil servant, the show became an instant cult hit, and will be returning for a second series in 2014.

Closer to home, and the good folk of Onion Land seemed keen to dish out advice. Comedic agony aunt Rachel Stubbings was offering specially crafted miniature versions of herself for sale to anyone in need of a friendly ear. Or, to be more exact, a bit of unemotional plastic which happened to look a bit like her, in a variety of costumes. The Stubby Buddy was a quick sell out, though something tells me we won’t be seeing them in the shops next year…

Elsewhere, conceptual artist and Luxury Comedy star Kim Noble was offering handy tips on how to buy an oven

And as Bowie-fever gripped the world, James Cook released his own, haunting interpretation of Mr Jones’ classic track, Ashes To Ashes

Continue reading

F*cked Up Fulcher: A Review

9 Dec

It’s been a while since we last witnessed Rich Fulcher live on stage in the UK; even longer since we saw him hosting a chaotic selection of his comedy mates in a show. Fulchfest, the legendary Kentish Town comedy night that Rich fronted a few years ago is but a distant (and sadly missed) memory. Then out of the darkness, for one night only, comes Rich Fulcher & His F*cked Up Friends at Soho Theatre. Luckily, two of our Velveteers were there on Friday night to report back:

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

There’s something utterly heart-warming about Rich Fulcher. He may be dressed as a wonky Christmas elf and he may be offering oral pleasure to Tom Meeten, but the mischievous smile and the sparkle in his eyes can make even the most cynical comedy watcher feel the cheer.

Noel Fielding once described him as “a natural buddhist”, saying of his friend, “His vibes are incredible. If you could take Rich everywhere with you, you’d never be sad.” In fact, if Rich’s mind wasn’t so damned dark and weird he’d make a fantastic kids’ entertainer.

Some of the set pieces were eye-wateringly funny: an opener about trying to behave like a parent, only to take it too far the other way (we’ll leave that to your imagination!); and a volley of abuse aimed at Oly Ralfe (who spent the entire show poised at the piano, ready to provide musical accompaniment at a moment’s notice), were particularly noteworthy.

Others fell a little short of their target, but the performance was so pacey you barely had time to notice. The entire night galloped along just on the right side of the professional/shambolic divide, like all good Fulcher shows do.

What Rich does so well is taking a joke to his limits – then pushing it way, way beyond that. In the hands of someone less likeable and more self-conscious it wouldn’t work so well; but Rich approaches each moment with such energy and conviction, it’s easy to get carried along.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

The line-up for the night was fresh, sparky and marvelously odd. Highlights included: a whirlwind performance from Meeten in the guise of ‘Animal Man’ (like all his best characters, a man precariously balanced at the edge of madness – and surprisingly poignant with it) – and Meeten’s Karate Johnson also made an alarming appearance; Pajama Men’s Shenoah Allen, with a charmingly original multi-voiced sketch about animals; and Gary Le Strange in a startling Pineapple-Studio-Steam-Punk combo, complete with kiddy umbrella. Although the front row of Boosh fans looked a tad confused, he had the table next to us falling about.

Another comedy revelation was Ralfe, who sat to the side of the stage playing the (musically-gifted) straight man to everyone else’s chaos. His withering stares at Rich were pitch perfect, and his ability to find a melodies in the melee astonishing.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

Due to the quantity of acts on offer, Dan Clark and magic man, Pete Heat, didn’t have the opportunity to get fully into their sets, which is a shame because they’re bloody funny/clever when they’re in the groove.

By way of a finale, Cardinal Burns’ set, performed entirely in French, provided the perfect full-stop to the show: in equal measures bizarre, silly, clever, confusing and funny.

We’ve missed you and your F*cked Up Friends, Fulcher. Come back again soon.

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