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So Hot Right Now #19

23 Feb

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 take a look below.

POMPIDOU BEGINS…

This week sees Matt Lucas new show Pompidou, co starring Alex MacQueen and Tony Way, begin its run on BBC Two.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The show stars Lucas as the titular aristocrat, who is as pompous as he is penniless, as loveable as he is tubby and eccentric. He is all of those things in abundance – an elderly oddball who has fallen on hard times, and is forced to live in a knackered old caravan in front of his now crumbling estate.

Episode One airs at 6:30pm on BBC Two, on Sunday, 1st March. You can see a selection of preview images over on our news pages.

HOUSE OF FOOLS CONTINUES…

The delightfully bonkers House of Fools continues its second run at 10pm on Monday 23rd February via BBC Two.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

In this week’s episode, Vic steals some unused botox equipment and decides to test it out on Julie and Bosh, while Bob tries to get into Erik’s good books by making Rachel’s brithday a special day. Elsewhere, Beef’s saucy past catches up with him, as he is forced to hide the consequences of his actions from a very irate butcher – brilliantly played by guest star Johnny Vegas.

As ever, starring Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer alongside Matt BerryDan SkinnerMorgana Robinson, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, this second episode is a much funnier affair that last week’s admittedly hilarious opener, so if you’ve not checked into the House of Fools yet, now’s as good a time as any.

If you missed us shouting from the rooftops recently, TVO was graciously invited to be one of the few publications to speak to the cast of House of Fools at one of the Salford filming dates late last year. You can read our trilogy of interviews over on our news pages now, but if clicky links are more your thing, you’ll like the highlights over the names ‘Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘, ‘Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White‘, and ‘Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson‘.

CATASTROPHE ENDS…

Sadly we say goodbye to Catastrophe this week, with Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney going out on fine form on Monday 23rd March at 10pm on Channel 4.

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

In the series finale, a heavily pregnant Sharon picks Rob up at the airport after a trip to Boston and tells him she has invited an old friend from Ireland to be her maid of honour. Rob decides to ask his fiancee’s brother to be his best man, but Fergal has more important things to worry about – his wife has left him and taken their children. The bride and groom later split up to enjoy their hen and stag nights, both of which spiral out of control.

It’s a great end to a bold and inventive series, which is thankfully returning for a second run in the not too distant future. There’s also an appearance from none other than John Hopkins as Sandy Laybourne, so if you haven’t caught up yet, get on 4oD and savour the magic.

CASUAL VACANCY FILLED…

The star studded mini series The Casual Vacancy concludes on Sunday 1st March, once again featuring Rufus Jones and Richard Glover.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

In this third and final episode, tensions rise as the Pagord parish council election approaches and each side steps up its campaign. It’s another meticulously crafted edition that lets this mini-series go out on a high, and if you enjoyed it, you can pre-order the dvd for £10.50 in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

REPLAY THE GAME…

It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that Game of Thrones is set to return in April. With the fourth season (featuring Tony Way) currently nesting at the top of the dvd and blu-ray charts, Sky Atlantic have started their campaign to prep audiences for Season Five – and this may give us a chance to revisit a couple of TVO faces.

© HBO

© HBO

Not only does Tony Way appear in the second and fourth seasons as Sir Dontos Hollard, but Paul Kaye turned up as Thoros of Myr in the third season (we wonder if the GoT team were Mongrels fans like the guys at Pixar?), and the recurring role of Yara Greyjoy is played by actress Gemma Whelan: who also gigs regularly as a stand-up comedian and appeared in cult TVO smashes Cardinal Burns and The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains.

So in brand new clipshow Game of Thrones: Greatest Moments, there’s every possibility we’ll see these three characters once more, as cast members and celebrity fans count down the 20 most thrilling moments from the fantasy drama. You can see it at various times throughout this week, and the show is also available on SkyGo and Now TV.

TOUCHDOWN IN SOHO…

This week sees Sarah Kendall bring her highly acclaimed stand-up show Touchdown to The Soho Theatre.

© PBJ

© PBJ

The show, which toured the festival circuit last year, features Kendall deconstructing the key joke from her previous stand up show, which focuses on real life experiences back in 1992: a year of broken hearts, broken friendships, and broken orthodontic elastics.

Touchdown is a moving and often hilarious coming-of-age story that explores the clumsiness of adolescents, their awkward relationships, and painful need for friendship and love. If that’s not reason enough to pop along to the run between 24th-28th February, then why not read our interview with Sarah, in which she discusses the show at length, as well as Beehive, women in comedy and her obsession with Jaws 4

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

Onion Talking: Sarah Kendall on Touchdown

21 Feb
© Sarah Kendall

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Acclaimed stand-up comic Sarah Kendall returns to The Soho Theatre with the final run for her smash-hit show Touchdown this week, running from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th February.

With her follow up show, A Day in October, due to launch at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in March, this felt like as good a time as any to finally book ourselves some time to talk to the gifted storyteller, masterful standup and full-time mother.

Editor in chief Paul Holmes caught up with Sarah to discuss about her career so far, and the effects her life beyond it have had upon her outlook, with the following insightful results…

At the turn of the millennium, Sarah Kendall made a huge decision. Already a regular on the Australian stand-up comedy circuit, two years after her initial flurry of success, she packed up her bags and moved to England. By 2003, she was ready to take on the Edinburgh Fringe, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Flight of the Conchords, Gary Le Strange and Adam Hills. The following year, she was nominated for the Perrier Award’s main category of Best Show alongside Chris Addison, Reginald D Hunter and winner Will Adamsdale (best known internationally for his role in The Boat that Rocked).

As the years went by, Kendall built on this initial success, gaining a cult following through heavy touring, countless festivals, and numerous, award-winning live shows. In 2008, she stretched her wings and took on sketch-show comedy, with a role in the short-lived E4 show Beehive, and has spent the last four years voicing Libby McKenzie alongside Sally Philips, Nina Conti and Liza Tarbuck in the long running Radio 4 comedy Clare in the Community.

Recent years, however, have seen Kendall’s extra-curricular activity dry up, as she became a mother and, quite naturally, shifted her workload accordingly.  As TVO calls, she is in her London home with the kids tucked up in bed and a slightly burnt warm-up shepherds pie in the oven. Greeting us fondly, and stressing she isn’t the kind of person to make her own  shepherd’s pie, she confirms her eagerness to talk by exclaiming: “I’m going to stop doing the dishes and give you my full attention. That’s how serious I am, I’m walking away from the dishes. Fire away!”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Naturally, the conversation turns firstly to motherhood, and TVO wonders exactly how having children has changed Sarah’s career plan. “Gosh, that’s a good question,” she says, thinking about the answer for a moment. “It’s a really big answer too. I suppose I’m not really at my sparkiest late at night, so you know, most gigs…” She trails off, laughing. “I generally need to go on early. I can’t do a late night. And I can’t do huge amounts of travel, either. I don’t wanna be away for weekends. I don’t wanna be away for a week, you know? It’s changed the practicalities of work.”

“But I think from a creative perspective,” Sarah continues, “when I do get that time to myself, and I do get that time on stage, I really wanna make it count. I suppose I don’t fuck around as much as I used to. Cos I suppose when I have got that time to work, and to be creative, it’s actually really special ‘me’ time. God, I really relish it. I think when my day wasn’t quite as occupied looking after little people, I’d just go and do a gig and not really think much about it. Now I wanna make that time count. I wanna do the very best material I can do.”

That material at present is Touchdown – the 2014 show she toured around Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe amongst other places, and is reviving for one last shebang at The Soho Theatre across the last week of February.  As with her previous show, it focuses on particular events in her teenage years, rather than Sarah’s life at present, a factor which may be a subconscious reaction to having to grow up and take responsibility for what Sarah endearing refers to as ‘little people’.

“Also, I think,” she suggests, “I don’t want to get on stage and talk about what I’m doing now. That’s only because if I went on stage and whinged about it, it wouldn’t be right. I don’t want to whinge about it, but I also don’t want to stand on stage and say how much I love my children. That’s not particularly hilarious.”

“I’ve been looking into different times of my life,” she adds, “reflecting on them, and thinking about them differently.  I suppose to me, I do regard those years quite differently now that I’m a mother. The thing is, that sounds really boring, but it changes your perspective on the whole time. I find that creatively it’s really energising. I really enjoy writing about it.”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Kendall’s comedy has morphed from its early days of quick-fire stand-up into a more intelligent, thoughtful brand of storytelling that connects with anyone who was ever the slightly awkward kid that didn’t quite fit in, but wasn’t unpopular either. The gags are obviously still there, but it’s wrapped up in intellectual reasoning, emotional resonance, and the odd moment of childish humour for good measure.

“I think, ultimately, I’m a little bit of a whore for a laugh,” Sarah reveals. “Anyone who goes into comedy has to be. I don’t like to leave it too long without one. My training is as a stand up, so I do always look for the gag. I try not to do that at the expense of the story.”

“If it didn’t fit with where the story was at, I wouldn’t do it. But I try to make it a punchy show. I don’t think I’m precious about that sort of thing. I do want people to laugh and have a good time.”

If there’s one thing Kendall could never be accused of, it’s being precious about her work. There’s a remarkable freshness to talking to someone who, unsullied by the PR machine that affects so many in the industry, is completely open and honest about her work, right down to the point of Touchdown’s premise being the reality behind the fabrication of her previous show.

“I had this joke that I’d been doing for years,” Sarah discloses. “I knew in my heart what the real story was, but I’d made it into a good joke. I’d always been slightly plagued by the fact that there is a much bigger story behind it, but I didn’t know how to tell it. I didn’t think it belonged in a comedy show. Then I just thought: sod it. I’m gonna write about what really happened because it is a good story, and an important story. It means a lot more to me now that I’m older, and now I know how to tell it, and I’m not afraid of the serious or silly parts of the story. I think if you do something that’s got a bit of a darker edge to it, you’ve gotta be confident that you can treat it respectfully enough that you’re not gonna panic and try to make a joke out of it.”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

“It was a surprise for me,” she notes, in regards to Touchdown’s now deconstructed predecessor, Get Up, Stand Up.  “I enjoyed telling that story every single night I performed it. Generally during a festival there comes a point where you say: if I have to say these words one more time, I’m gonna fucking kill myself. I found that with this show, I never got to that point. I really enjoyed taking the audience on that journey.”

Thankfully, Touchdown offered a similar vibe. “This is my favourite show that I’ve ever done,” she states, firmly. “I was really crestfallen at the end of the festival because I kinda felt it was over. I knew I’d probably do a run at the Soho, but it felt kinda like the end. By the time I did Edinburgh, I’d already done quite a few other festivals, so I knew that was the end of that festival circuit. And I was quite sad.”

TVO notes that, given how precious Sarah’s time has become, this feeling may have been intensified, and it’s something that we’re seeing more and more of. When we began, five years ago, our thirty-something regulars were still riding high on their initial flurry of success, gigging around the clock and constantly making new and exciting things. Recently, there’s been a marked slow-down in the activity of some of them, as they’ve reached the age of having babies and settling down, just like Kendall.

“I suppose you kind of go through this huge sea of change when you have a family,” she suggests. “You do start to look back on events with fresh eyes. It can be a good and a bad thing. Sometimes you go: Ah, shit, I wish I hadn’t done that thing. I really regret that thing that I did.”

Such feelings came to the fore last year, when Kendall wrote a piece for The Guardian about her somewhat flippant handling on stage of a genuinely disturbing moment in her career, when a drunk heckler threatened her with anal rape at a gig. Whilst the routine was funny, as time went by it had increasingly made her feel uncomfortable.

“I hate looking at clips of myself,” Sarah confesses. “Someone sent me that clip and asked for permission to use it, and as I watched that piece of material, I was so struck by how untrue the emotions were that I was portraying on stage. That’s something that would never have entered my mind ten years ago. I would have just gone through and made sure all the jokes were strong without offending people. But I just thought: That is so not what happened. That is so not emotionally what that experience was like, and I have brought none of that to that piece of material. I think it would have been a much more interesting piece of material if I had discussed that.”

© Tiger Aspect Television

© Tiger Aspect Television

Another potentially difficult blip on her career came with the hugely divisive E4 sketch show Beehive in 2008. Designed by committee, it nevertheless gave a platform to Kendall on television, alongside Alice Lowe, Barunka O’Shaughnessy and Clare Thomson. TVO has previously waxed lyrical about the merits of the show: in spite of its obvious flaws, there’s a hell of a lot to love in there too.

“I haven’t watched it since we did it,” Sarah tells us as conversation moves on to the troubled production.  “It was incredibly rushed, from the commission to filming. My memory of it was thinking: This has been rushed. It was four people who’d never met each other, thrown into an ensemble and given a fairly small amount of time to turn a show around.  It’s one of those things where I did it as an opportunity, but in hindsight it could have been a lot better had we had more time. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have had a heck of a lot of alarm bells going off as it progressed.”

Kendall is genuinely touched by our admiration for the team, and the bits that worked really well, such as her magnificent Elizabeth I routine, in which Sarah portrayed the monarch surrounded by bullying lackeys, or the flat sequences with swearing lessons, special robots, love affairs with pot plants and confusion over Spiderman’s true identity. Sadly, the show was buried by E4 before it even had a chance to build an audience, splurged onto television across a couple of nights with no advertising, and never repeated.

© Tiger Aspect Television

“I don’t really know how it happened,” she sighs, “or how it works. I don’t understand who decides these things, but it just felt rushed through. I had a really good time doing it though. I loved working with Alice, Clare and Barunka. They’re such powerful, funny women, and it was such a pleasure to work with them. I don’t want to piss anybody off, but it just didn’t feel like it had a lot of backing.”

Despite the circumstances of its troubled production, Beehive did allow Kendall a break from being ‘herself’ when making people laugh. TVO is curious if she’d do something similar now, given her present work/life balance. “God, that’s a good question!” she explains, and thinks for a moment.  “I think when I was younger I would say yes and just fuck it and see. I think now it would have to be something that I’m really passionate about, because I don’t have a huge amount of spare time. It would have to be something I could really put 100% of myself in. I’d be slightly more selective at this stage.”

The one bonus of the show was that It introduced Sarah to a whole new set of collaborators – some of whom she has continued to work with sporadically whenever possible. In 2010, for example, she played a fellow mum in My First Baby – the Jackal Films short featuring Rich Fulcher as Alice Lowe’s very oversized toddler. A few years later, she cropped up in James Bachman & Tom Meeten’s BBC Nought project, during a spoof on The Apprentice. Evidently, she’s still a part of the family, even if her time with them is sporadic at best.

© Jackal Films

© Jackal Films

“We don’t see each other as much as we used to when we had more spare time,” Kendall explains. “Certainly, not as much as I’d like to. The funny thing about London is you kinda get into your borough. But they were people I really learned so much from working with. There were such a variety of skillsets that were brought to Beehive. I felt they were all quite accomplished actresses, whereas I didn’t come from that background, so every day was a learning curve.”

Thankfully, in this internet age, a buried show doesn’t have to stay buried forever. The dvd release still chugs away on Amazon, the episodes are still viewable on 4oD, and TVO will occasionally bring it up. It still finds an audience. “It’s extraordinary,” Sarah states. “It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally I will get someone recognising me from Beehive, which is just really weird to me. It kinda got buried over three days on television, and yet it does still happen. It’s nice that you don’t live and die by whoever does the programming.”

Nevertheless, the show is firmly behind Sarah Kendall. Her comedic concentration right now, beyond remembering the finer points of Touchdown, is writing her 2015 show, A Day in October. Set to premiere at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the end of March, the show will tour the festival circuit before arriving in Edinburgh throughout August. To that end, Sarah’s already seemingly come up with an enthusiastic manta, when the subject of the new show is brought up.

“March 27th is opening night,” she says, rigidly. “The show will be finished by opening night. I will have a show by March 27th.”

As laughs erupt on both sides of the phone, TVO inquires as to how close that process is to becoming a reality. “I would say a third of the way into the writing process,” Sarah reveals. “I think I have a fairly confident idea of where the story is. It’s another story about my teenage years. It’s about a friendship I had with a guy and we went to a pool party one October, and the show is about the knock-on effect that pool party had on us throughout the rest of his life and my life.”

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

With the deadline looming, it would be understandable for many comics to leave some of the details hazy, and let them arrive naturally as the show goes on, but not for Sarah. “This show and the last were quite heavily written shows,” she affirms. “There aren’t patches where I fuck around with the audience or bits where I think I’ll ad-lib that on the night. Because they’re stories, you do have to bring all the disciplines of storytelling to it. You do have to have structure, and you do need to have a big thing happening in the third act. All those things you don’t have to think about when you’re doing a standup set, but I find with a story if you just let it happen you can end up with a spectacular mess on your hands. I do tend to write them quite carefully.”

There’s also the potential weight of an unwanted baton to consider. To TVO, and we’re sure to a great many people – a comedian is a comedian, and that’s that. Yet as the debate about women in comedy continues to bubble to the surface, there’s an alarming amount of pressure put on female comedians to be funny for their gender, rather than their vocation.

“I think I used to feel that way,” Sarah considers. “But I think things have got so much better. I’m not saying they’re ‘good’. We’re nowhere near a situation that is equal. But things are so much better than where they were twelve years ago, even though they’re not great. I take real heart in the fact that I’ve seen more and more female talent coming through as the years have gone by. And it’s great female talent I’m really proud to work with and associate with. I do think it’s challenging, and it’s still there, but I think it’s unfortunate, but the media do play it up.”

“On the live circuit,” she continues, “people are out in the club and they want a laugh, and you will get bad audiences and the occasional knob heads, but generally speaking they just want you to be funny. The real problems I’ve faced and have seen, are really in media circles, and tv commissioning, and the people who book talent for shows. The live circuit isn’t really the problem, but there are people who genuinely seem to not want women on television.”

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Male comics, TVO notes, are judged purely on their ability as comics. Female comics, however, are judged as ‘female comics’ for good measure. Sarah agrees, and adds: “I also think with social media there are a lot of voices. The really negative voices tend to get heard a bit more. For a hundred thousand people to go: She’s really good, she’s really funny, you’ll get a small proportion of people who just say something really vile, and that draws more attention.”

Not that Kendall will have seen most of this online, as the last few years have seen her maintain a relatively low profile. “I didn’t mean to!” she protests, laughing. “Our Twitter conversation today is the first Twitter conversation I think I’ve ever had.”

TVO explains that, if it wasn’t for Patrick Bustin at PBJ (the management company who handle a sizable chunk of our roster) casually mentioning her Twitter profile, we would have no clue that Sarah was even on there – and we take extra care to try and make sure we’re following everyone we need to in order to keep tabs on events.

“Oh yeah,” she says firmly, and a little guiltily. “Look, I know. I have been so not interested, and so busy. But I was talking to another comic who said: You really need to sort your shit out on that front, cos you’re off the grid man. I thought: Oh, really? I just sort of had my head buried in the sand for five years. I’m learning it, and you know, I’m gonna have to just get in there and do it.”

“It’s extraordinary, though,” she continues. “You do a couple of tweets, and suddenly you get all these pinging noises, and suddenly you’ve got twelve or thirteen new followers, and I just think: What the fuck? To me it’s very curious. It’s a very interesting, weird experience. And I know there are a lot of people who can’t remember a time before it, but I happen to be a billion years old.”

One thing that Kendall does have a lot of time for, however, is Jaws 4. No, really.

“I don’t know why,” she says, as she tries to justify the number of times she’s sat through it.  “I think I just like watching really good actors in terrible films. It’s like a schadenfreude thing. I just really enjoy seeing Michael Caine in this explicably awful movie. I can’t look away. I really like good actors in shit films. It’s like my favourite genre. It makes you feel better about yourself too.”

“I saw a movie with Henry Fonda in it called They Swarm, about bees attacking civilisation. It’s this great actor in this really weird horror film, where he’s being attacked by bees. I love it. It’s a fantastic film, I enjoy it thoroughly. Everyone’s just pulled together to get the product finished. I love that. I like the nose to the grind attitude. They’ve just thought: We’ve gotta bring this thing to life, and we’ve only got 50p. Let’s just use the car park. Fuck it.”

That attitude enthuses Sarah’s work, but is matched by her perfectionism and professionalism, and above all else, her genuine charm as a personality and a performer. As TVO bids her a fond farewell, so she can get back to her dishes and shepherd’s pie, we can’t help but feel that we’ve just spent a good half an hour being delighted by her company, and as a comic whose livelihood depends on storytelling, that can only be a good thing.

Sarah Kendall: Touchdown is at the Soho Theatre between February 24th – 28th 2015. Sarah Kendall: A Day in October is at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between March 26th to April 19th 2015. Sarah will be at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2015. For more info on future live dates, keep an eye on her Twitter page… hopefully!

So Hot Right Now #18

16 Feb

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 take a look below.

COME ON IN…

Monday evening puts out the Welcome mat for the long awaited second series of House of Fools, which airs at 10pm on BBC2.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Vic and Bob’s artily homemade and brilliantly daft take on a sitcom has gone down a storm with both their hardcore audience and casual viewers alike, and it was only natural it would return for a second run. In the first episode of the new series, Bob’s reclusive son, Erik (Daniel Simonsen) emerges from his bedroom long enough to stop dry-retching and go on a blind date, meeting the equally calculated Rachel (Ellie White). Vic and Bob form a band with Beef (Matt Berry) and fall out over the name of their act before their debut gig, while Julie (Morgana Robinson) attempts to teach Bosh (Dan Skinner) the art of waiting tables. Clever, silly, and just as surreal as the first series, this episode also includes the best use of an Owen Wilson photo that you’ll ever come across!

If you missed them last week, TVO was graciously invited to be one of the few publications to speak to the cast of House of Fools at one of the Salford filming dates late last year. You can read our trilogy of interviews over on our news pages now, but if clicky links are more your thing, you’ll like the highlights over the names ‘Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘, ‘Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White‘, and ‘Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson‘.

CLOSE THE DOOR…

As one show arrives, another must sadly depart, and this week it’s the turn of both Cockroaches and Count Arthur Strong to say a (we hope short-lived) farewell.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

At 10pm on Tuesday over on ITV2, the final episode of Cockroaches brings the post-apocalyptic comedy to a close, with dramatic results. This week Tom (Daniel Lawrence Taylor) and Laura (Jessica Emily Rose) are imprisoned by a gang of cannibals led by the villanous Ash (Jaime Winston), and it’s up to Suze and Felix (Esther Smith and Tom Davis) to save them from becoming supper.

With its top notch cast including Dan Skinner, Jack Whitehall, Robert Bathurst, Rich Hall, Nigel Planer and Alexander Armstrong, it does feel strange even in this digital age for Cockroaches to be tucked away on ITV2, but we’re hopeful we haven’t seen the last of Tom and the gang just yet. The full first series is available on dvd from next week.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

We must also say goodbye to Count Arthur Strong, whose second series goes out with a bang at 10:45pm on Tuesday evening over on BBC One. Unless you’re in Northern Ireland or Wales, in which case it does so at 11:10pm. Or if you’re in Scotland, in which case there’ll be a slightly smaller bang (it’ll be more of a bump, really), at 10:40pm on Wednesday evening instead.

Anyway, after years of plugging away, Arthur (Steve Delaney) finally hits the big time this week when he gets a job as a TV psychic – only to let the fame go to his head. Meanwhile, Michael (Rory Kinnear) has a rather unique reaction to a tempting job offer, one that causes his health to suffer. Given Kinnear’s fate in The Casual Vacancy, we’re rooting for him here!

Of course, whilst the Graham Linehan co-penned series is coming to an end (for now), Delaney is current out on tour with the Count, and you can catch a full list of dates over on his website. He’s also recently released a book, which you can get here.

TAKE A SEAT…

Whilst we have new shows to savour and others to say goodbye to, there’s a few others that continue their successful runs this week.

© Tim Bret Day

© Tim Bret Day

Catastrophe - the smash hit show from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney continues apace on Monday evening at 10:05pm, though House of Fools fans may want to catch up via 4+1 at 11:05pm instead!

In this fifth episode, Rob and Sharon plan their wedding, but Rob’s plans to throw a surprise birthday party are scuppered when his Boston bosses fire him during a video call, and his mother (special guest star Carrie Fisher) reveals a big secret of his to Sharon.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

On Sunday evening, part two of The Casual Vacancy airs at 9pm on BBC One. The star-studded adaptation of JK Rowling’s novel of the same name features Richard Glover and Rufus Jones in its ensemble cast, with the former particularly playing against reality as a real nasty piece of work!

Sadly as we went to press on this week’s SHRN, images from this second episode remain under embargo, so stay tuned for those later this week. What we can tell you, however, is that it picks up straight from where the last one left off: with the townsfolk of Pagford left shocked by posts online that are seemingly coming from a dead man.

With the various factions of the town on tenterhooks at one another, a dinner party is scheduled, but things quickly spiral out of control. Elsewhere in the Fields, an addiction appears to be weakening, giving Krystal fresh hope for the future of her family.

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

The new series of Uncle also continues on Tuesday evening at 10pm (again, clashing with Cockroaches – thank gawd for catchup services, eh?) on BBC Three.  Starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer Gillot, alongside Nicholas BurnsDaniel Lawrence Taylor and the criminally underrated Daisy Haggard, the show is as puerile yet oddly touching as ever.

This week, Andy (Helm) tries to prove how mature he is to his latest love interest, while Errol (Spencer Gillot) wants to show a girl how cool he is, and Sam (Haggard) is desperate to impress Ben’s girlfriend, Veronica (Burns and special guest star Gemma Whelan of Game of Thrones and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fame). Unfortunately their efforts do not go well, forcing the trio to resort to deception in order to make a good impression.

ENJOY THE SHOW…

Londoners have it good at the moment! Not only do they have a Kim Noble residency at the Soho Theatre to savour at the moment, but this week sees them get a Rachel Stubbings fronted film night too. And next week brings the return of Richard Sandling‘s live nights, and a mini-residency for Sarah Kendall. For more news on live events, check out news page!

TVO IS FIVE

We’ve been celebrating our fifth anniversary this month, with a couple of reflective articles on our news pages, and a number of our regulars sending us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

Onion Fun Down Under

13 Feb

© MICF

A smattering of TVO regulars will be appearing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, starting next month.

Running from 25th March to 19th April, the festival offers Australian audiences over three weeks of top notch comic talent from around the world, and, much like Edinburgh Festival in Scotland each August, there’s so much to chose from, it can sometimes be hard to find the things you want to see.

Now, we are by no means suggesting that the following shows are the ONLY ones worth seeing. Far from it: part of the joy of these festivals is picking a name at random, or following up on someone who made you laugh once on someone else’s show, and investigating.

However for ease, here’s a mini run-down of TVO relevant shows you may want to get booking.

Most excitingly, MCIF gets to première Sarah Kendall‘s brand new show, A Day in October, which runs every day (except Mondays) from 26th March to 19th April.

© Sarah Kendall

The storytelling stand-up follows her work on previous shows by exploring another tale from her childhood: this time focusing on a pool party in 1989 that was so disastrous, the ramifications are still being felt today. It was a bad pool party.

The mighty Paul Foot brings his 2014 Edinburgh show, Hovercraft Syphony in Gammon # Major, to the festival for almost its entire duration.

© Paul Foot

Performing every day from 26th March to 19th April, except Mondays, Paul has become a cult favourite in Australia, and returns after rave reviews to stimulate minds with his brief case full of new rants and tall tales.

Also in for the duration, again performing every day from 26th March to 19th April, barring pesky Mondays, is Tony Law, who is bringing his 2014 Edinburgh show Enter the ToneZone to Australia for one final run.

© Tony Law

Following a huge UK tour and a Soho Theatre residency, Tone offers magical shapes, an original song, some truly heart-breaking nonsense and brief tackling of world issues through the medium of dance.

To the delight of many of our readers, some time back Noel Fielding is bringing An Evening With Noel Fielding to Australia and New Zealand on tour, and this includes three nights at MICF, on 15th, 16th and 19th April.

© Noel Fielding

As expected, Mike Fielding will be joining him for the show, which ran for a string of dates in the UK last year (and will return there this Autumn), and after some initial confusion, we can confirm that Tom Meeten is also back on board.

There’s tons of other great shows on offer, so we suggest maybe hitting the list here and booking as many as you can, but whilst we’re here, we’d also like to give a shout out to up and coming comic Alexis Simmonds, whose show Mist-Conceptions is taking place at The Tuxedo Cat.

A long-standing friend of TVO, Simmonds accompanied the gang to a truly riotous Fulchfest (and the subsequent pub adventures with some of our regular artists) during a brief stay in the UK a few years ago, and since then, she’s been forging her own comedic path. She’s one of us, and one of you, and it’d be great if you could go along and say hello.

So Hot Right Now #17

9 Feb

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 below.

YOU SAY GOODBYE…

This week sees the Comedic Guard of 2015 begin to change for the first time, as January’s new shows begin to wrap up, and February’s new shows start to arrive. Sadly, this means we must say our goodbyes to two firm favourites already: Love in Recovery and Crims, both of which end this week.

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

The sublime Love in Recovery wraps up on Wednesday 11th February, with the sixth and final instalment of Radio 4’s touching comic drama. Written by Pete Jackson, the series follows the lives of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting group, made up of characters portrayed by Sue Johnston, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye, whilst Julia Deakin plays village hall cleaner Marion.

This week we turn our focus away from the individual tales of each recovering alcoholic, as the group are forced to leave their meeting room to try and rescue one of their members from a nearby pub. As it all comes full circle for the gang, we can’t help but hope we haven’t heard the last of them yet.

 If you missed previous installements, you can catch all previous episodes except Episode One on iPlayer now, but be quick – as Episode Two will vanish in four days time…

© Hal Shinnie / BBC

On Thursday 12th February, we also say a fond farewell to Crims - as the BBC Three sitcom from the pens of Mongrels writer Adam Kay and Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer airs its sixth and final episode at 10pm, with Tracy Ann Oberman once again making a guest appearance.

It’s another firm favourite, as Dawn (Cariad Lloyd) is to receive a commendation for her crackdown on drug use in the institution, and Creg (Ricky Champ) is forced into a difficult position when he accidentally lets the collected substances go missing on his watch. Let’s just say, this episode features the best comedic sandwich consumption since Arnold Rimmer ate a triple fried egg sarnie with chilli sauce and chutney.

When the show began, it was easy to believe the focus would remain entirely on Luke and Jasan, brilliantly played by Elis James and Kadiff Kirwan, but as the series has developed, Dawn, Creg, Marcel (the sublime Theo Barklem Biggs) and the rest of the gang have become just as important to the success of the show. We’re certainly hoping we haven’t seen the last of Crims yet.

If you have missed previous episodes, you can catch up on iPlayer now. There’s currently no sign of a dvd or blu-ray release, but the episodes are now becoming available to own via Amazon Digital, so keep an eye on your preferred digital store for the whole run soon.

…AND I SAY HELLO!

Sunday evening brings us a brand new show, in the form of JK Rowling’s comic drama The Casual Vacancy, which features Rufus Jones and Richard Glover in its top notch cast.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong), Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Silas Carson (The IT Crowd) and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness) join Glover & Jones in the three part mini-series, which centres on the seemingly idyllic English village of Pagford.

With it’s cobbled market square and ancient abbey, Pagford looks quaint and charming to all who enter. Behind the pretty façade however, is a town at war: rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.

When a local councillor dies suddenly, the town is left in shock, and the empty seat becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the village has yet seen. Three candidates are soon lined up: Miles Mollison, Colin Wall and Simon Price – played by Rufus Jones, Simon McBurney and Richard Glover respectively.

Episode One airs on BBC One this Sunday evening at 9pm, and you can see our preview gallery alongside clips and trailers, over yonder.

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

Tuesday 10th February also sees Series Two of Uncle begin on BBC Three at 10pm, once again starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer-Gillot alongside Sophie Haggard (Psychoville), Nicholas Burns and Daniel Lawrence Taylor.

A year after Andy (Helm) was banned from seeing his nephew Errol (Spencer-Gillot) for being a destructive influence, the unlikely duo are hanging out in secret, with the latter having a broken voice and the former being as broken in general as ever.

It’s a welcome return for a very popular show, and you can see what TVOer Mog thought of its return very soon.

CONTINUING ADVENTURES IN ONION LAND

It would, of course, be foolish to focus only on the newly arriving and the soon departing, as lots of other great shows vie for your attention in the middle of their current runs this week.

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

Monday 9th February at 10:05pm sees Episode Four of Catastrophe air on Channel 4. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s charming yet brutally honest sitcom focuses on an American man and an Irish woman in London, forced to make a whirlwind romance develop into something more when they find themselves expecting a child.

This week, Sharon’s parents head over from Ireland, only to have a difficult first encounter with Rob, as the subject of pregnancy is broached.  More health complications for Sharon and the baby also arise, and Rob’s secret friendship with Chris backfires in a way he could never have imagined.

As the story unfolds and becomes ever more complex and rewarding, it’s increasingly a delight to spend half an hour with realistic, flawed characters you can’t help but like, even if you’re not sure why.  The show thunders on with rave reviews, and a second series commissioned, so if you’ve not caught the bug yet, you can catch up with the series now via 4oD.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

Episode Five of Cockroaches airs on Tuesday 10th February at 10pm over on ITV2. The post-apocalyptic comedy stars Daniel Lawrence Taylor (How Not to Life Your Life), Esher Smith, Jack Whitehall and Tom Davis (House of Fools, Murder in Successville), alongside a string of big name guest stars such as Dan Skinner, Alexander Armstrong, Caroline Quentin, Robert Bathurst and Nigel Planer.

This week, Tom’s mother-in-law Cathy (Caroline Quentin) arrives at the camp with her new boyfriend Pete, who happens to be his former PE teacher – and an overbearing alpha-male American, played by the initimitable Rich Hall. Meanwhile, Suze is sceptical when a stranger called Ash (Jamie Winstone, Dead Set) arrives from the woods claiming not to have seen a single person for the past three years.

It’s another suitably bonkers episode, and if you like what you see, you can catch up with past episodes via ITV Player, or pre-order series on dvd for release February 23rd.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

Also on Tuesday 10th February, the sixth and penultimate episode of the second series of Count Arthur Strong airs on BBC One at different times, depending on your location.

Viewers in England can see the show at (shock horror), the same time as last week: 10:45pm, whilst those watching in Northern Ireland and Wales don’t have to wait as long as usual, with the episode moved up to 11:10pm. Viewings in Scotland, annoyingly, have to wait almost 24 hours, with the episode airing at 10:40pm on Wednesday instead.

Despite the crazy scheduling, this episode – once more from the pens of star Steve Delaney and Graham Linehan (best known for The IT Crowd and Father Ted), is perhaps the series highlight: as a trouser fire causes Arthur to move in with Michael. His claims of being low maintenance clash with Michael’s Game of Thrones obsession, so Arthur turns to John the Watch for companionship.

Brilliantly structured, and surprisingly heart-warming, this episode works better still when you know the characters well enough to enjoy spending time in their company, but if you only watched one episode this year, this could be the one for you. Either way, catch up on the series now via iPlayer over yonder.

© Comedy Central UK

© Comedy Central UK

Meanwhile, the fifth episode of Drunk History UK airs at 9:30pm on Monday 9th over on Comedy Central UK, once more featuring famous British comedians getting absolutely plastered in the name of reciting tales from the past – which are then re-enacted by a top notch cast.

Tony Way, Cardinal Burns, Rebecca Front, Marek Larwood and Mat Horne have appeared across the series so far, and tonight’s edition keeps the talent levels up high: as Marc Wooten (La La Land, Shirley Ghostman) returns to the show, along Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner).

With Russell Kane and Alex Horne on story telling duties, and Tony Way again making an appearance, it’s another great excuse to watch comedy talents being very silly indeed. Enjoy!

LIVE HAPPENINGS

There’s lots brewing at the moment, with Kim Noble in the middle of his run at the Soho Theatre, a special Forgery Club for Greenpeace this week, Rachel Stubbings hosting a film night next Monday, Tony Law wrapping up his Tone Zone tour, and tickets for Sarah Kendall at Soho Theatre later this month, and Angelos & Barry later this year on sale now.  Keep an eye on our news pages for the latest live news as and when we can throw it your way!

TVO IS FIVE

We’ve been celebrating our fifth anniversary this month, with a couple of reflective articles on our news pages, and a number of our regulars sending us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

Touchdown in Soho for Sarah Kendall

5 Feb
© Sarah Kendall

© Sarah Kendall

Stand up comedy legend Sarah Kendall returns to the Soho Theatre at the end of the month, with a limited run of her 2014 Edinburgh Fringe show, Touchdown.

The former Beehive star, who has carved out an impressive cult following after over a decade on the stand-up circuit, stormed the Fringe last year with Touchdown: a semi-sequel to her 2012 show Get Up, Stand Up which had concluded with a story about dropped the c-bomb on a high school teacher, the trouble she got into and the way she got out of it.

In Touchdown, she deconstructs this story and reflects on how, like with many stand up routines, the punchline was manufactured for the sake of the joke. This time around, the story is told as it truly happened, developing a captivating narrative of her life as a self-conscious teenage girl, being unpopular, having her heart broken and losing a friend.

It’s a delightful coming-of-age story which has generated rave reviews, and won the Piece of Wood Award for ‘the most exciting and innovative show’ at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Now there’s a chance to see it again, with a four night run at Soho Theatre between 24th and 28th February. Running at 7:15pm each evening, tickets are on sale now priced between £10 and £15, over yonder. You can see a clip of Sarah at the MIC last year below.

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!

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.

Better Than Rather Good Comedy

21 Jun

© ARGComFest

The line up for ARGcomFest 2014 has been announced, and as the festival name promises – it’s Actually Rather Good.

The festival, now in its third year, aims to provide a taster of the spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe with a host of Edinburgh Preview shows. It will be taking place at The Garage, Highbury, London, on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July

For a single ridiculously low ticket price, you get access to an entire weekend of 32 previews of top shows which are headed to Edinburgh this summer.

There’s currently one directly-connected TVO name on the list, in the form of the very wonderful Sarah Kendall, but check out the full line-up for the complete list of performers, then try telling us it doesn’t sound amazing.

You can buy tickets for the day (from £19) or the weekend (from £33); for all the details click here.

 

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.

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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

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Tough Crowd On The Move

24 Sep

Dave Brown‘s exhibition of intimate comedy portraits, Tough Crowd, will be leaving its current home in Norwich and heading to North Wales next month.

© Dave Brown

The exhibition will be moving to Oriel Colwyn from 21st October, and it’ll remain there until 4th January 2014. The collection includes stunning images of a number of big name comedians, including a bevvy of TVO regulars: Alice LoweArnab ChandaBarunka O’ShaughnessyDan ClarkDolly WellsJoey PageJulia DavisJulian BarrattKevin EldonKim NobleNeil ColeNoel FieldingRich FulcherRichard AyoadeSarah KendallSteve OramTom Meeten and Tony Law.

There will be limited edition prints on sale in aid of Afrikids, so there’s good reason to get yourself down there and part with your cash. If you can’t make it in person, the prints are also available on the Afrikids website.

Oriel Colwyn can be found upstairs at Theatr Colwyn, and admission to the show is free. For more information about the venue visit its website.

However, if Wales feels a bit too westerly for you and you haven’t yet caught Tough Crowd during its stint in Norwich, there’s still time to experience it at Flint Hair on Benedict Street and Fabulous Frames on Upper St Giles Street before it moves. Its Norwich run finishes on 12th October.

Don’t forget that you can also see Dave’s brilliant photos of The Boosh at Proud Camden, London NW1 from 24th October to 1st December. It’s not yet on the venue’s website, but it’s definitely happening.

Tough Crowd Returns

12 Sep
© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

Tough Crowd - the exhibition of intimate comedy portraits by Dave Brown – will be given a new lease of life from tomorrow in Norwich.

Split across two venues, the collection includes shots of a number of big name comedians.  TVO regulars Alice LoweArnab ChandaBarunka O’ShaughnessyDan ClarkDolly WellsJoey PageJulia DavisJulian BarrattKevin EldonKim NobleNeil ColeNoel FieldingRich FulcherRichard AyoadeSarah KendallSteve OramTom Meeten and Tony Law are just the tip of the iceberg!

With the likes of Adam Buxton, Bill Bailey, Bob Mortimer, Chris Addison, Harry Hill, Lenny Henry, Phill Jupitus, Ross Noble and Tim Minchin amongst the various other names featured – and there are many more – it’s a fascinating collection to peruse, and the good people of Norwich can do so from tomorrow – Friday 13th September, until Saturday 12th October.

The free to view show is housed by Flint Hair on Benedict Street, and Fabulous Frames on Upper St Giles Street.  As ever, there will be limited edition prints on sale in aid of Afrikids, so get on down there and part with your cash.  If you can’t make it, the prints are also available on the Afrikids website.

If you missed our extensive interview with Dave on all things Tough Crowd late last year, you can swot up on it right now.

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Get Up, Stand Up With Sarah Kendall

30 Jan

© Dave Brown/Afrikids

Sarah Kendall will be tackling the thorny issue of modern-day feminsim in her new solo show at the Soho Theatre in February.

Get Up, Stand Up is Kendall’s first solo show in five years, and in it you’ll see her pushing the boundaries with a more political slant to her act. Inspired by the birth of her daughter, she’ll be questioning the kind of society in which we’re raising girls: a society where educated middle-class women are pole dancing for fitness and fairytales teach young girls to value beauty above brains.

The show runs 5th-9th February at the Soho Theatre (Tue – Wed £10, Thu – Sat £15/£12.50 cocessions). For more information and to book tickets click here.

Onion Talking: Dave Brown’s Tough Crowd

7 Dec

© Dave Brown

Tough Crowd - the new photo exhibition by Dave Brown, is currently wowing art-lovers at The Strand Gallery in central London.

TVO caught up with the man behind the lens to talk about putting together a series of comedian portraits with a difference…

“It’s not all panel shows, fat cheques & giggles. Comedians are tough. They have to be.”

So says Dave Brown, one fifth of The Mighty Boosh, graphic designer by trade and photographer whenever time has allowed. Over the years, he has documented the madcap adventures of the quintet he is a vital part of, recently hosting an exhibition of his favourite shots culled from a decade of Boosh history. Tough Crowd, in aid of Afrikids, however, is an entirely different beast.

“It came from trying to think of a different angle to shoot comedians,” he explains to TVO in the midst of final preparations for the exhibition at The Strand Gallery. “It’s not that I’ve got a hatred of the way comedians are portrayed in photography, or their posters and stuff, because some of that is great. Photographers like Andy Hollingworth are excellent at it.”

“It’s just the usual persona you see comedians giving out on their panel shows, on stage or in the papers…” he trails off. “Well, they’re mostly always chirpy and cheery. I think a lot of people get the idea that it’s an amazingly glamorous life: that it’s an easy way we make a living, earning loads of money and having a great laugh at the same time. Truth is, it’s not easy… for most people in the industry anyway. It’s a extremely difficult world to occupy. I know loads of comedians, they have to be seriously thick skinned to make it and to stay there. To be a comedian you have to be resilient.” Continue reading

A Crowd At Tough Crowd

6 Dec

Tuesday evening saw the grand opening of Dave Brown‘s new photography exhibition Tough Crowd at the Stand Gallery in London. Velveteers Paulyne and Mog were there and enjoyed an early glimpse of the show.

© Dave Brown

Mog
The comedians featured in the photographs read like a ‘who’s who’ of The Velvet Onion; it’s tangible evidence of how interconnected this particular group of artists really are. The images themselves are incredibly striking – defined by their wintery colours, crisp details and luminescent eyes. This is a side of the comedian’s persona that we don’t often get to see, and across the faces in the photographs there’s a fascinating mixture of confusion, frustration, guilt and fear. Some of the featured artists haven’t quite let their guard down, but in so doing perhaps reveal how much deeper their fear of comedy failure goes.

The scale of the photographs stops you in your tracks – every whisker and laughter line writ large across the gallery wall. A massive print of Tony Law dominates the ground floor: a noble 19th century explorer with childhood in his eyes.

The contrast between these images and the photographs that Dave took in Ghana make for fascinating viewing: the single wall of gold-tinged skin and warm earth tones provides an interesting step change within the show. Summer and Winter. Them and us.

© Dave Brown

Paulyne
Even when arriving nearly two hours after doors open, we still found the entrance crammed to gills with the friends and family of Dave Brown, all there too see his stunning work for Afrikids.

As we circled the room and entered each long stretch of hallway it was hard not to be completely entranced by the portraits of so many well-known faces. The heartwarming touch for us was the TVO connection to a large percentage of them; and some even with a long childhood connection (e.g. Lenny Henry), of watching them on Saturday nights in your pyjamas with a cuppa.

Looking around at each of those portraits was a bit like wanting to ask the subjects probing questions but at the same time not wanting to intrude. The idea of each snap is ‘when the laughter stops’ and Dave certainly got this out of each subject. It begs the question what would I think about in that situation?

© Dave Brown

A must see exhibition for you to lose yourself in and come back to us with your own thoughts… if they’re not too private.

To buy a limited edition print of one of the Tough Crowd photographs and to donate to Afrikids at the same time visit the Afrikids website.  There are 100 prints of each subject; A3 prints cost £50 and A2 prints cost £75. To see photos of last night’s opening take a look at photographer Sam Witney’s site and click on ‘Dec 5th’. See how many TVO-related faces you can spot – they were out in force!

Keep your eyes peeled for our exclusive interview with the man behind the camera lens, Dave Brown, coming soon!

Tough Crowd

5 Dec
© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

Tough Crowd, the latest photo exhibition by Dave Brown, opens today at The Strand Gallery in central London.

A collection of portraits capturing the very essence of the lonely, fragile comedian, the exhibition is in aid of the brilliant Afrikids and features a whole host of famous names including the likes of Harry Hill, Lenny Henry, Adam Buxton, Jimmy Carr, Tony Law, Lee Mack and more… including a number of TVO regulars too!

The likes of Noel FieldingJulian BarrattRich FulcherJulia DavisRichard AyoadeAlice LoweSteve OramTom MeetenBarunka O’ShaughnessySarah KendallDolly Wells, Kevin EldonKim NobleNeil ColeDan ClarkJoey Page and Arnab Chanda join the packed line-up.

The exhibition will run at The Strand until December 15th, and entry is free.  Fans will be more than pleased to know that limited edition prints of every portrait will be available to buy for just £50 (A3) and £75 (A2).

TVO attended the packed out preview tonight, and spoke to Dave about the exhibition earlier this week, so expect our exclusive reports very soon, alongside a competition for a very special prize!

To find out more about the brilliant work Afrikids do, go over yonder, or check out the Strand Gallery right here.

Kendall And Page Bear All

7 Nov

© WorldOfBlackout.co.uk

Two TVO acts collide for a gig at The White Bear in Ruislip, as Sarah Kendall and Joey Page have both been billed at the regular comedy night on 6th December!

As Kendall’s Aussie wit and Page’s supersonic comedy are accompanied by Paul Gannon (who also apparently appeared in Brooker’s Dead Set), Ruislip and the the drinkers of the White Bear won’t know what’s hit them! There are more acts to be announced as well, and with tickets for this one-of-a-kind evening at just £4, you’d be mad not to book yours right now!

A Message From The Trenches

19 Aug

© Sarah Kendall

Sarah Kendall has penned a dramatic report from the frontline of the Edinburgh Festival, which is now just over half-way through.

Kendall conjures up the physical and emotional endurance demanded by the Festival with her tongue firmly in her cheek. She says, “With 12 nights left to go, I have started to try to cast my mind forward to September, when the war is over and we can all return to our homes. What will ‘home’ be like after all this time? Will my neighbours and friends look the same to me, will I look the same to them, or will we feel foreign to each other in some indefinable way?” Gripping stuff! To read her report in full click here.

If you’re in Edinburgh or toying with the idea of going, why not make Kendall’s final 2 weeks’ a little more joyful and check out her live show? And while you’re at it there are a load of other fantastic acts who are well worth seeing while you’re there. Take a look at our handy guide of what’s rocking our boat this year to plan your Festival visit.

 

Funny Fortnight Favourites: Beehive Remembered

19 Aug

© Tiger Aspect Television

During Channel 4’s Funny Fortnight, we thought it’d be a good idea to look back at some of the TVO related shows in their archives.

Here, our editor in chief turns his attention to oft-neglected sketch show Beehive, to see if it’s worthy of a reappraisal.

In December, 2008, a brand new sketch show aired on E4. If you blinked, you’d have missed it – as it’s five episodes were crammed into three nights and promptly forgotten about. Since then, there’s always been a stigma surrounding Beehive - not least amongst its stars. During a recent appearance on Richard Herring’s podcast, Australian stand-up Sarah Kendall was incredibly dismissive about the show, or at the very least, it’s treatment by the channel.  The dvd release of the series was rushed out not long after broadcast, and promptly forgotten about – it’s currently out of print, and is unlikely to get another run anytime soon.

Watching Beehive in retrospect, in some ways it’s difficult to see why it was buried away and forgotten about.  This is, after all, a funny show.  Yet at the same time, the shunting and dismissal is totally understandable given the way programming commissioners have moved towards broader, more mainstream entertainment, particularly at the time the show aired.

© Tiger Aspect Television

It is fair to say that Beehive is far from perfect. Certainly, this is a show that isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. Written mostly by its four stars, Alice Lowe, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Clare Thomson and Kendall – it was described by Sarah as “shit that makes the four of us laugh”. As such, it’s a fusion of surrealistic moments, such as the alien going to the swimming baths, traditional sketches like the Aztecs taking all day to write a name, and some downright purile knob and fart jokes that prove once and for all women like crude humour just as much as men.

The most successful regular sequences are those set in the Beehive flat. Playing exaggerated versions of themselves, these sequences act like a French & Saunders white room for the 21st century – allowing the girls to be incredibly silly in the strangest possible ways, always grounded by the familiar surroundings. Thus, Sarah can recreate that scene from Aliens or become convinced she is Spiderman, Barunka can pretend to be a Speshul Robot for Claire’s birthday, and they can all get offended by the phrase: “Barunka is a bellend.” Continue reading

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