Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

2016

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So, nothing much happened in 2016 it seems…

Books

The Kindle continued to be used. Perhaps not as much as last year. Main even on there was the last James Ellroy. Man you have no idea how angry that made me. Not even treading water. Sebastian Faulks put out a collection of parodies from super-smug literary Radio 4 quiz the Write Stuff. Even he would’ve baulked at this evel of descent into a cartoon of yourself. It’s just awful. And, a bit sad.

My promise to read more ‘literary’ books or non-fiction was forgotten come January 2nd

Film

I saw most of the movies on the best-of lists (except some glaring exceptions). Some really don’t deserve their places on those lists. Best for me was – inevitably – Green Room. In among the tension, horror and excellent performances (especially tragically in the case of Anton Yelchin), there’s a real true sense of what it’s like to be in a touring punk band. 

Music

A year of the old favourites raising there heads; The Handsome Family, Rick Redbeard, Angel Olsen (with some staggering live shows) and, of course, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. The latter including 6 gigs across not just Europe, but for the first time more than just London in the U.K.  Hopefully not the last. 

I did make an effort to listen to more new music. And, did not bad. Some was brilliant. But, it was the chancing across The Downtown Boys on the bill with another band I wanted to see that led to the best discovery for me. Loud, angry and blisteringly good fun. Hope they come back soon. 

Beer

Plenty of it. Lots of very top quality stuff. No sock-blowing ones.  Tommie Sjef‘s wild ales at Brettfest do stand out as the ones that did force me to encourage everyone around to try them 

Travel

Czech Republic – loved it and WILL return asap

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 January 2017 at 12:01 am

Sausage Party

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There’s a thread of culturally based humour through this that may have been ok in the days of Merrie Melodies which my right-on ass is not sure of these days. Despite that, it’s still a surprisingly funny anti-religion piece. And filthy.

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 October 2016 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Comedy, Film, London

May bees

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Hmmmm. Maybe I need to rethink my blog ‘format’ again. Not sure this is working

Captain America: Civil War

Yeah, alright….

Bastille Day

Tee-hee. Thrillingly silly.

Grant McLennan Tribute Night – Bush Hall (6 May 2016)

10th anniversary since McLennan’s untimely death. A bunch of new and old indie luminaries (including most of Teenage Fanclub) get together to pay tribute. Compered by Stewart Lee – who shared a very touching tale of his meeting with the man himself. An excellent night.

Reginald D Hunter/Jarlath Regan – Amersham Arms (9 May 2016)

I’ve seen Regan here before. He did a good solid 20 minutes. There was some really nice material in there. He’s somehow managed to pad this to an hour for the Fringe. Which means it’s nowhere near as tight. Still there’s plenty time to go, I suppose.

Would that we could say the same for Reginald D Hunter. This is not for Edinburgh, but for his 2017 tour. “Because my last tour sucked.” There are moments of total hilarity. But, also some real clunking moments that would suggest that the accusations of misogyny might not be so unfair. But, remember, it’s trying out material. It’s not all gonna fall great. And, he is a terribly likable presence.

Some audience involvement goes terribly wrong and the whole thing falls apart. I find myself thinking of Sadowitz, but not in a good way.

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards – Green Note Cafe (11 May 2016)

I first saw Laura Cortese playing bass for Uncle Earl. She got to do one of her own songs, which led to us picking up her album. Afterwards, I tried to catch her whenever she was passing through. This usually meant trawling out to weird bars and antique shops in the furthest corners of Scotland. This is my fist chance to see her in London, and the first with new backing band The Dance cards.

It’s all-round lovely. I’m very fond of this venue. And, filling it with lots of strings and old-timey music is just my bag (man).

Our Kind of Traitor

Seems this was shot by quite a famous cinematographer, which explains some of the interesting visual flourishes it has. It’s also got a Bond-like jet-setting sweep to it. Of course, as the recent The Night Manager showed us, all the best bits of John Le Carré take place sat at desks in anonymous rooms.

Green Room

Jeremy Saulnier‘s previous movie Blue Ruin is one of the best things I’ve seen in recent years. I’ve been counting the days to this one’s release since first catching the trailer.

Basically, punk band become witnesses to a murder in a dodgy club. Cue siege in the titular chamber, with neo-nazis on the other side of the door. It’s gruesome and gruelling. My nails may never grow back. And, probably the best film I will see this year. Amazing.

I really must seek out his first film.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare’s Globe

Shamefully, this is my first visit to the Globe. It’s a whopping whole £5 for the groundlings tickets (where I belong), but I’ve failed to come see anything yet. First year down there was a production of this, but I waited too long and failed to get tickets. (Disclosure: I didn’t actually get these ones either.) And, if I’m honest, it needed to be something this undemanding to actually tempt me to try the standing about for three hours involved in a visit.

Now, I’m all for dodgy adaptations of The Bard. I’ve sat through heroin-addicted Scottish Plays and post-apocalyptic Othellos and thoroughly enjoyed them. In their best incarnations they will tell you something new and relevant about the text; or just make you marvel at the ingenuity no budget can bring to the table.

So, getting a heads-up on them changing the gender of one of the Lovers in the play did not daunt me. Helena to Helenus. You see what that does? Yeah, quite clever. (But, never fully exploited.) The Bollywood setting? Sounds ace. Recasting the rude mechanicals as a women’s guild? “Rita Quince”? I like it. Ignoring the text and writing your own jokes? What? Changing all localities to London once particularly is there’s a cheap laugh to be had? Erm… Crowbarring Bowie’s Space Oddity in when there’s no reason, justification, or need for a tune, but just because. No. No. No!

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the play. It’s a damn good play. I enjoyed my trip to Bankside (as they kept reminding us). I will return. But, I was uneasy with the excessive lapses from the text afterwards. Since then, I’ve got downright angry at the laziness and near contempt for the audience the director seems to have in this production.

SPL2: A Time For Consequences

Or, that’s what the cinema told me it was called. The titles tell me it’s Kill Zone 2. I’ve seen neither SPL1 nor Kill Zone 1. I don’t really think it matters. This is a brilliantly flashy blend of martial arts and mawkish sentimentality. Being a chinese move, of course, all venality is ascribed to Thailand.

September Girls/The Black Tambourines – O2 Academy Islington (19 May 2016)

I’m sure I’ve seen The Black Tambourines before and they blew. So, I try to hang back in the pub and avoid them. As I result, I – of course – arrive bang on time to catch them taking to the stage. If I have seen them before, and they did indeed blow, they’ve been practising a lot to make up for it.

They come on and fire into a nosebleed speed take on math rock. It’s complex and rousing. As their set goes on they do that falling back on the popular stuff. Which means the poppier end of things. In their case, Televisiony garage punk. Which in itself would be good enough. Just, it pales slightly to the opening half. They go on the list

September Girls may suffer slightly from the flight. So to speak.

When I saw Dum Dum Girls, there was something about their glam-goth schtick that didn’t sit comfortably with them. September Girls seem to have adopted a similar mantle, and it doesn’t seem to fit them any better. And, it’s a strange discomfit that seems to extend to the material. Don’t get me wrong, they are good. There’s some cracking tunes in here. But, they never seem to fully inhabit the material.

My tip, though: Someone will take their bass player, put her in a leather jacket, and market her as some sort of millennial Leather Tuscadero. In a world where Anna Calvi exists, it’d work.

Mishka Shubaly – The Slaughtered Lamb (22 May 2016)

Like many people, I first became aware of Mishka Shubaly thought Doug Stanhope‘s championing of him. Since then I’ve enjoyed his books and grown to love to his songwriting. Playing so many comedy clubs shows in the extended between-song anecdotes. Which are charming and self-depreciating. But, when you’ve got songs like Gideon’s Bible, you maybe don’t have so much to apoligise for the life you’ve led.

Falstaff – Wilton’s Music Hall (23 May 2016)

There seem to be at least two corking tunes in this. Which, in my experience of opera is good odds.

This falls into the budget-based production decisions category (see Midsummer’s above).  And, mostly works quite nicely.  Of course, it’s got an opera singer’s sense of the bawdy and lascivious about it.  And, from your hi-art perch you need to be careful when setting a piece on Benefit Street (they are shaky at some points, but just about keep their balance).

Could definitely have done without the ‘contemporary’ translation. Again, back to the Globe, this material has lasted it should be good enough on its own.

Kinky Friedman – Nell’s Jazz & Blues Club (24 May 2016)

I love the Kinkster’s raconteur status. I love his (not as) politically incorrect (as people think) songs. But, I love the melancholy of Sold American more.

Everybody Wants Some!!

I have a strange relationship with Richard Linklater‘s movies. They are very much hit/miss for me. Among the latter is the lauded Dazed & Confused in which a bunch of people I couldn’t care less about did nothing. This kinda-sequel is pretty much the same. With the added bonus of the bunch happen to be lary jocks (ure to Brighton for this gig. Big Joanie are as ace as ever. Complex and urgent.
Rhode Island‘s Downtown Boys are a furious ball of political sax-skronking energy. I immediately check to see if there’s an official London date on this tour. There is!

Money Monster

I went into this expecting a typical liberal hollywood savaging of the financial crises and the media. I didn’t get it. Instead, it’s a well paced (90 minutes folks!) and brilliantly acted vaguely preposterous ‘thriller’. Thoroughly enjoyable is little of substance.

Nice to see Jack O’Connell more than holding his own next to serious movie stars.

Love and Friendship

Lusciously made. Very funny Jane Austen adaptation. Not 100% on the casting of Kate Beckinsale, who is overshadowed by every other performance around her. Also 90 minutes!!

Sing Street

Rather charming.

Downtown Boys/Trash Kit – The Victoria (31 May 2016)

First day back at work after a holiday weekend. No-one wants to go to a sweaty room of hipsters. But, the gig on Saturday was really good.

Trash Kit are also awesome. Primal, funky, jazzy, punk as fuck. They look like they’re having the best time on stage. Which is always a good thing.

Downtown Boys are still great. Angry, rocking and completely bouncy.

Both album’s bought. When I bitched about never finding new music, but kept saying I knew it was out there – and probably easier to find than ever, christ I was right. As usual.

Shit Love – Whipper

Completely ashamed of my lack of new music listening in April. May kicked off in fine form with this hummable cacophony from Melbourne.

Long Darkness of the SoulRL Cole

This is pay-what-you-can download from outta Denver, Colorado. The instrumentation and arrangements are pretty smart. But, sadly, I just don’t get on with something. I think it’s his voice, as I began thinking “this is more like it” as we hit the slightly less mannered closer Jesus.

Just LovelyThe Just Joans/The Hector Collectors/GUMS!

A 3-way split EP featuring 2 songs each by 3 aging indie pop bands from Motherwell.
Not familiar with GUMS! One of the songs is good enough to warrant further investigation. The other, starts well but doesn’t live up to it’s promise. Which I guess is over 50%, so a pass.

The Just Joans treading water. Which, admittedly, is still better than most folks’ trying hard.

The two Hector Collectors tracks serve as a reminder of all the promise they always showed. And, the infuriating lack of focus.

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 June 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in Comedy, Film, Gigs, London, Music, Records

2015

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Bit of a strange year for me. I think, a quiet-ish one. For my own benefit, once more…

Books

I bought a Kindle. As I may have mentioned previously, I seemed to have stopped reading. For the last few years I’ve been hauling unfinished books around with me for a good year or so. I always enjoyed the times I did sit down to read them, they just weren’t very often.

First thing was first, finish the hardback I had been humphing about with me. Which was fantastic. It’s weird, I wasn’t not enjoying it just not motivated, or too bust listeningto podcasts and checking social media. I almost don’t want to name the book, as it was given to me as a birthday gift, when it came out. Which a quick check tells me was six years ago now. But, The Way Home by George Pelecanos is worth recommending. It’s as tough, as touching and as downright exciting as you’d expect from the co-creator of The Wire. I will be reading more of his stuff.

The rest of the reading has been lagely me submerging myself in the good-old trashy thriller or police procedural. About the only recent stuff would have been the new Brookmyres. Read the first Stuart MacBride Cold Granite and looking forward to more (and visitng Aberdeen again – despite him capturing it’s icy miserableness bang on). Read all the Cal Innes books. Mainly down to having picked up the first when it was free years ago, and now having the means to do so. Enjoyed it and felt obligated to buy the rest. (Take note all producers.)

Next year, I’ll do some serious literature. But, I’m back reading!

Film

Movies this year seemed to be predominantly about women. From them kicking-ass in the two best blockbusters (Fury Road and The Force Awakens) to the dreamy Bechdel-busting worlds of The Falling and Duke of Burgandy. The big comedies were Trainwreck (which I didn’t see) and Sisters (which I did, and liked a lot). Then in the last month or so we got Carol. Which is a brilliant piece of film-making. But, for me, it lacks the emotional resonance of the staggering Brooklyn and wonderful Grandma
I could list half a dozen films with strong femal leads that I wanted to but failed to catch. Of course , the fact this is pass-remarkable is only an indication that this is still very much far from the norm. 

There were others. The Oscar fair being particularly good. (Birdman, Whiplash, Foxcatcher.) A couple of brilliantly acted indies; Missippi Grind and 99 Homes. I’m not sure Slow West is worth honourable mention. But, I do keep recommending it to folk. 

While I didn’t see anywhere bar the usual amount of animation (Inside Out and Minions of course), I have to say that I think my favourite film of the year was Shaun The Sheep. It made me happy. 

Music

So, as usual, tons of great shows. Mostly the usual suspects. The trip to Muddy Roots obviously stands out. But, best show must be finally seeing The Julie Ruin. Such a powerful, positive night. 

Continuing on the vague riot feel vibe, my favourite new bands were Slum of Legs and the amazing Big Joanie. Looking forward to more shows and recordings in 2016. 

The album I listened to the most was Coward’s Path by Mishkah Shubaly. Managed to catch him a couple of times. Bought some of his ‘singles’ for the Kindle. Looking forward to him coming back this year. 

I WILL listen to more new music in 2016. (And, this time I mean it.)

Beer

Brewdog seemed to get back on their game this year. The second Born To Die IPA nearly convinced me. Their nitro milk stout WILL win prizes when it becomes official next year. But, most of all, with Abstrakt 19. Complex but balanced. So much going on. Proper grown up beer. 

The where-the -fuck-did-that-come-from staring-at-the -glass- and-giggling award goes to Buxton and Wilderness‘ inspired (the only inspired offering this year) collaboration for The Rainbow Project a smoked orange saison Deep Rainbow Valley. Genius 

And, I don’t like saisons. 

Travel

Iceland
Kentucky and Tennessee

Written by Tony Kiernan

31 December 2015 at 7:19 pm

Stewart Lee: Room With a Stew- Leicester Square Theatre (10 November 2015)

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Can you say “Stockholm syndrome”. Three hours!! Tried out every minute of the new telly series.

It was pretty awesome. But, never again. (Until next time)

Written by Tony Kiernan

11 November 2015 at 10:48 am

Posted in Comedy, Gigs, London

Bridget Christie & Sarah Kendall – The Amersham Arms (07 July 2014)

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Despite all my best intentions to keep this thing up to date this year, I have failed to do so. However, for my own benefit, I’m adding a placeholder-type post.

VERDICT: Edinburgh warm-up. Never liked Kendall. This show is amazing. Planned to try and catch it in Edinburgh properly. Christie – all over the shop. Still amazing. Will catch this on tour.

Written by Tony Kiernan

08 July 2014 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Comedy, London

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Richard Herring: We’re All Going To Die – Bloomsbury Theatre (23 May 2014)

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Despite all my best intentions to keep this thing up to date this year, I have failed to do so. However, for my own benefit, I’m adding a placeholder-type post.

VERDICT: Smart and touching. Maybe his smartest show I’ve seen. Whatever that means

Written by Tony Kiernan

24 May 2014 at 5:00 pm