Saturday, November 17, 2012

Glorious Feminism

Most people are feminists - it’s wonderful. It’s just that something’s gone wrong with the word feminism so that even some women wouldn’t admit to being one.

If you’ve ever had a female teacher you liked - you’re a feminist. If you’ve ever helped educate a girl - you’re a feminist. If you’ve ever respected a female colleague - you’re a feminist. If you wouldn’t dream of committing rape - you’re a feminist. If you’re still reading these words typed by a woman - you’re a feminist, because you believe I have a right to this voice.

Without feminism you wouldn’t think twice about treating women like animals. Animals you didn’t like very much.

Feminism is just believing that women should have the chance to be treated equal. It doesn’t mean an automatic pass to the top of the tree because we’re trying to make up for a previous imbalance - it just means opening your mind to the idea that women and men can achieve equally.

So why does feminism get so many people angry?

Firstly, I think some people don’t understand why we need feminism. They don’t see the imbalances in the world and they haven’t lived in a generation where women are openly and simply mistreated. It’s sometimes difficult to see the ways the world is geared towards men - how many things are harder not because women aren’t as good but because the task wasn’t created for a woman.

Career paths weren’t built with 2 year gaps in mind to conceive, carry, birth and nurse a child. The vast majority of sports played internationally are concepts designed and perfected on male players, leading to the notion that women are not as good because they have picked up the sport late and play it with different nuances. Marketing departments design and sell the idea that there’s a marked difference between the genders that it’s vitally important we uphold - despite having a civilisation that has the technology to advance past historically vital gender roles. These are just a few of the ways our world isn’t equal, and this is in the West where we are generations ahead of some societies.

Secondly, I think some noisy feminists give the whole concept a bad name. These "militant feminists" who hate men and refuse to shave their legs. Whether they exist or not, the caricature exists in the public's psychi enough to help people switch off whenever the "f" word crops up in conversation.

I think it’s important to understand that to be a feminist isn’t to hate men or blame men. Patriarchy is society’s development based on years of biological necessity and tradition - it’s not your Dad and brother being a git. You cannot empower women by degrading men and you can’t leapfrog intelligent men just to balance the genders - society needs to earn its balance and when it does men and women will benefit equally from standing shoulder to shoulder.

This is why I consider myself a Glorious Feminist - someone who sees feminism as a benefit for men and women alike. I won’t fight for feminism; I will talk for it, debate for it, persuade for it, prove for it, love for it and earn it. But no glorious feminist will fight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Big What If

So... every now and again an idea might occur to me that I think, "Well... what if?"

Most of the time I'm fairly sure that these ideas have been bandied around and disregarded for some economic reasons that I don't see the full impact of from my cubby hole in the world. But, on this occasion I'm putting an idea out there...

Now, if you have any thing to add or suggest as to why this could have merit or ruin civilised society then please feel free to tell me and let's have a chat. Lovely. Here we go.

The basis of my idea is this:

"Could you have, and would it work, different minimum wages for different levels of qualifications?"

The basic UK minimum wage for over 21 is £6.19 an hour. What if that became the minimum wage only for someone with no qualifications at all?

Beyond that, and this is just as an example and I have given no research into what figures would be practical you could demonstrate something like:

1-5 GCSEs or equivalent - £6.30 an hour
5-10 GCSEs or equivalent - £6.40 an hour

1-4 AS Levels or equivalent - £6.60 an hour
1-4 A Levels or equivalent - £6.70 an hour

A Degree - £7 an hour
Masters Degree - £7.50 an hour

"In a revised version of this scheme, having spent a long time discussing children vs education, GCSEs vs equivalent qualifications, I am wondering if this scheme would have more benefit if actually it ignored University where you would expect graduates to not work for minimum wage in their field, and concentrated on encouraging people to stay in education up until 18.

That way, it is becoming less alienating to those who choose young families, travelling or simply experience on the job over University, but it still offers short term benefits to staying in education."

Obviously, you would have to work out what equivalent qualifications to these got as a minimum wage and it could be squared out accordingly.

To me, this would give young people an incentive to stay in education because it's a difference they will be seeing it in their pocket right from the word go.

I would be interested in someone explaining calmly why exactly people from poorer backgrounds are put off university. I know high tuition fees are terrifying at first but you don't don't pay any of it back until you are qualified and earning a wage. At which point, if we've got the system right, you're back on a level playing field with everyone else who has a degree whatever their parents' earnings. From my understanding of it, not putting up tuition fees is more unfair to people from poorer backgrounds because the money is instead footed from the tax payer - made up of tax payers who didn't go to university. Therefore, people who couldn't afford to go are part funding your degree.

I am from a totally average background, I had a student loan and I funded my whole degree myself by working all the way through it - my parents didn't input. Obviously, I am completely happy to be told I'm wrong if I've missed something but that's my understanding of the situation.

Edit - "Having sat down and thought about the last paragraph I've realised what a smug prick I am. It's not necessarily about whether you borrowed money off your parents to go to uni. It's also about whether your family could all afford to eat if you weren't also working alongside your parents at the age of 16. There are a lot of other factors in "being able to afford things" than it's easy to see. I am quite ashamed of myself."

So, theoretically, and I cannot reiterate this enough - feel free to (politely) contradict me. This scheme could encourage more people into higher education with short term benefits.

A negative I have considered; would it mean that highly qualified people could struggle to get part time work?

At the moment, despite being having a Masters Degree I work for £6.20 an hour doing what, in theory, should be menial office tasks. However, because I'm competent (and I attribute having this ability to my state education) I am often tasked with more complex things to do because my superiors know I can do it. They are getting more for their money than they should.

If my scheme worked correctly, I should just get paid more to do what I do because I'm doing it better than I would have done without my education. Please note - I'm not saying I am doing it better than someone without a degree. Absolutely not. However, a scheme like this would probably blanket over that fact so it is a definite negative to the system. I also have a feeling it would just result in companies only hiring people with minimum skills to save wages.

Could there be an option to agree to work for a lower wage band if you wanted to? So, for example, for the job I am doing now I would be happy to jump down to a GCSE qualified pay band because I only want the job as a back up to comedy and it's not a full time job or career plan.

What this might do, however, is make companies re evaluate exactly how qualified they need people to be for their jobs and give us a better measure of whether it's really worth qualifying ourselves to the hilt? Do I need my Masters degree? Would the tax payers' money and my own have been better spent building a giant
electric wall to keep Tories away from hospitals?

How would a scheme like this react to:

Mavis Bletchley has worked at ASDA for 18 years. She has 8 GCSEs. She earns £6.40 an hour.

Joanne Lovett has joined ASDA after completing her degree and now earns 60p more an hour than Mavis despite having no experience in the job.

Presumably companies would still keep loyalty based pay rises in place if they had been there previously?

Would this cause education based hierachys in the work place, and if so, is that a bad thing? There are already hierachys in the work place - surely education can't be the worst thing to base it on?

Anyway, there's some ideas world. Run with it, find the holes in it and please tell me (calmly and politely) and lets have a chat...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm Hiding

Hi folks... just in case you happen to pop by here and wonder where the writing has gone... For the next year I've moved my ranblings to here:

as part of a project to help out an old Uni mate with his start up. There's other interesting people writing there too so hopefully you'll find something you like. Also, you can follow me on Twitter too if you should wish!



Wednesday, October 3, 2012


His funeral was awful. I stood in the pew looking at the coffin, trying to rinse myself clean of selfishness, willing myself back to the day I had met him. I saw myself walking past where he stood and smiling at him, stopping to chat, realising what a man he was and would be. And then walking away.

I lie awake at night dreaming about his life with someone else, the perfect woman who would laugh at him. She'd wake up in the night when he coughed and help him back to sleep. She'd have liked the same films as him and never doubted that his soul was the one for hers. She'd have been the sort of woman to believe in souls.

They played music at the funeral in spite of the fact I had no one to dance with. I couldn't watch him sing along, he lay back in the box while we ate vol au vents and people asked me if I was ok. His family told me how happy I made him and I swore at them in my head because they couldn't see his other widow. She sat next to me all day, the woman he should have been allowed had I not kept him. I kept him because I wanted him, permanently terrified that wanting him and adoring him were not the same as loving him.

I missed him more that day than I knew you could hurt, my throat ached with the effort of holding my head up and the vol au vents in. His other widow, the one who would let the house get messy if it meant they could lie in bed together an hour longer, she hadn't even brushed her hair for the funeral.

She is still mourning 3 months later when I have gone back to work so that I don't have to stare at his shoes any more. She can't live without him. I am living without him and I want him back. I want him back so I can tell him to go, go and be with someone better. If I'd known he had so little time I'd never have kept him, I'd have let him off the hook to swim upstream and do something else.

People like me shouldn't keep pets or people like him. We're too frightened. Continually scared that we'll break them, and in the act of never hurting them we forget to touch them, forget to make them feel alive. We watch them as both of us get colder and more inactive. Then we weep.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Banged My Head

I had a pretty serious bang to the head today. It's put me in a pretty bad mood, and so I've decided to be a bit snappy about some things at the Fringe that are really pissing me off:

1. Please can someone create a burger that will smell as good as a regular burger when it's being cooked but that will not give me the figure of a darts player after 2 weeks of solid eating.

2. Could someone tell every comedian at the festival that they have reviewers at every single show: it's called the audience. The poor fuckers that have actually bought a ticket. Surely you have noticed whether or not these bastards are laughing at you every day, if they are - don't let a patronising, poorly imagined review by one person (who didn't pay for the show and didn't particularly want to see it) undermine your confidence in what you know is working every day.

3. Could someone please tell every reviewer at the festival that their job is not to:
   a) give away as many punchlines as possible so that the review is funny
   b) retell the plot of the show with no opinions or extra information to add
   c) grade it as either funny or not regardless of what the audience were doing, phrases like "everyone in the room was roaring with laughter but they were quite clearly wrong" just make you look like a bell end. Why not say what it was like, what you thought and who it might be good or bad for so that the review has a purpose other than to humiliate the performer or make you look intellectual.

4. Is there any chance of getting a medical professional to look at my head?

5. Running a youth theatre company whose "Flyering on the Royal Mile" strategy is "Hey, let's put all the men in suits and the girls in skimpy clothing." is creepy and seriously undermines the integrity of your show if you have to resort to that to get people in.

6. Please may I go home now, I am tired and my head hurts.

7. Where are the cheap Subway flyers that I lived off last year?

8. Does anyone have any spare money?

9. Could someone please tell every flyerer on the mile that I do not want to partake in a "swapsy" of our flyers. My aim when flyering is to get people to come and see my show, not to get rid of my flyers as quickly as possible to people who have no interest in coming to see the show. Shove your swapsy.

10. I need a cuddle.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Surely all clothes are designer?

Has anyone ever made a jumper by accident?

"Aye, I was trying to make a kettle but you appear to be able to put your legs in it. And it's made of denim."

I can't help but think that the label 'Designer' is the lowest form of praise you can heap on an item, surely it just means: "This happened on purpose." Which is at best expected and at worse surprising for most designer clothing.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Foldy Roll

The currently breaking story of the Twitter troll who has been arrested after he sent horrifically offensive tweets has really caught my attention this morning. The incident caught the world's (for world's, read Twitter's) attention when he tweeted Olympic diver Tom Daley.

Since the Troll was highlighted, there's been a big mix of reactions. Some people saying they were thrilled to see him brought to answer for his actions, but some surprised me by scoffing at the seriousness with which this situation has been taken.

I'm all for pushing a joke as far as you can. I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a fan of heavy censorship. However, I think there's a big difference between joking, and aiming abuse at someone. Some comparisons have been made between this incident and the Twitter joke trial. I can see why, however, the big difference in my opinion is that this tweet was sent directly to someone with an intention for them to see it.

I find it highly unbelievable that Paul Chambers (Twitter Joke Trial) believed that anyone would take his tweet seriously, or that the powers that be at Robin Hood Airport would see it and act upon it. It was a reaction, published personal reaction not a delivered statement of malice. The troll in the Tom Daley case had sent his direct message personally to the young diver. To me that shows a remarkable statement of perverse intent that shouldn't be ignored as a huge differentiating factor.

I do believe that by putting yourself in the public eye you open yourself up to criticism as well as praise for what you do. But, while you have to understand that not everyone's going to love you, you don't have to be bullied online just because it feels more anonymous to the person putting the abuse out there.

Since I started doing comedy I've dealt with the highs and lows of social media attention, and I wouldn't even say I was anywhere near in the spotlight or the height of my game. I've received attention from people who've seen me gig that's made me genuinely scared to go to gigs by myself in case they turn up. While I'm prepared to be told I'm not funny, I'm not cool with being intimated into stopping. The only thing that will stop me doing comedy is me (and low ticket sales/bad reviews/never getting an open spot at The Glee).

While, having researched this particular Troll's twitter feed, I am pretty convinced he doesn't deserve jail (probably a cuddle and some self esteem) I do think it can only be a positive thing for the world if people start understanding that celebrities/athletes/midget comedians are still people too and there's a good chance that negativity you send their way will reach them. By all means have an opinion, hate them and criticise them,  but if you're going to publish it then don't publish it by nailing it to their front door. Create a balanced summation of your thoughts and put it out there for consideration - even 140 characters is long enough for the vast majority of Trolls to have an introduction, main argument and a conclusion.

Friday, July 27, 2012

No (you're) Mad

I swear I never feel more like sitting down to do some writing than when all my possessions are heaped across a room that I'm attempting to move out of. This is very much the case right now. I feel like I've earned a break having just unloaded a fridge full of things that had set up better civilisations than the human race.

What with moving house, leaving for Edinburgh tomorrow and the imminent Olympic ceremony everything's feeling scarily like those crafty Mayans might just have been right. Is this the end of the world or do I just really hate packing?

Because I really do hate packing.

Since I left University in 2009 I have lived in 9 different places (and that's only counting Edinburgh once - if I counted each time I'd been it would be 11 separate living arrangements in 3 years). That's an awful lot of times to have to evaluate the heap of crap in front of you and ask if it was healthy to still be wearing bras bought in 2009.

It's amazing how much can happen in 3 years. 9 houses can happen in 3 years. In the last 3 years I have acquired (in order of importance):

* 2 beautiful nephews
* a grown up flat to live in like a proper grown up
* lifelong memories of Lapland, elves and some brilliant friends
* a fledgling comedy career
* some incredible house mates
* a tonne of confidence
* status as a Brightonian
* a grown up job in the city
* more cellulite than I would have liked

In the last 3 years I have lost:

* some incredible house mates
* a grown up job in the city
* my status as a Londoner
* at least 6 inches of height due to a tobogganing accident
* my copy of Goodfellas on DVD

That list took close to 45 minutes to pull together, and were it not for the heap of crap taunting me I could probably make it much longer. It's been a hell of a 3 years. If all 3 years are going to be like this then I'm going to be properly wrinkled by my mid-thirties. Mind you, if I carry on at this rate then by the time I'm 37 I'll have lived in another 44 dwellings so I think I'll be a bag lady living under a box with a mangy beagle to keep me company while I sing show tunes into a lampshade.

We're forecast a storm tonight in Brighton. I'm not sure if the weather men could possibly have known I'd feel so blustery at what appears to be the end of yet another era, but I think we'll have incoming showers by midnight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Things I Have Realised

Today I realised two very separate things:

1. I prefer sports that have an ongoing narrative structure.

Ever since Euro 2012, which I tried very hard to watch, I have been trying to work out what it is I dislike about the game of football. I am specifically talking about the game as it is played on the pitch, leaving all the cultural add ons to one side, I do not like the game of football.

I like some sports and I couldn't work out what didn't engage me about football. I'd focused on a few things which were helping me hone in:

a) I don't like spitting.
b)I don't like the way tactics can involve learning when to cheat.
c) I can't pick out the impressive parts.

I have never watched much football, the only games I've seen are televised international matches. Because of this, I have no concept that what the people on the pitch are doing is in any way impressive. If you haven't seen bad football, you can't comprehend why international level football is excellent. All the little flicks and passes and tactics that are arguably genius, just look like the basics of what it is to play any football to the untrained eye. When I watch cricket I know what to look for which makes the game more fulfilling, with football my interest only piques when the ball goes somewhere near the goal. That leaves an awful lot of the pitch containing some boring men running around with a ball for no reason. There's no comprehension of how the middle of the pitch builds the pressure and the choices and the reactions at the ends of the pitch.

The breakthrough I came to in terms of my initial "narrative" realisation came when I was watching the tennis. I realised that I enjoy the way, whenever a point is started in tennis, that point is going to be allocated to one of the players. There will be an outcome. This makes tennis much more about the ongoing pattern of the narrative. Football, it seems to my uneducated eye, is more about the big events in the play.

I could be coming across as a complete idiot here. I hope this doesn't seem like ignorant football bashing, I've really been working hard to assess why I don't understand and enjoy football as much as everyone else seems to. It's very isolating for your national game to receive so much hype and yet be a completely alien idea to you.

2. I am still hoping in the back of my mind that my legs will grow out in time for my wedding.

Today, when wasting time allocated to admin by browsing wedding dresses I have no cause to be browsing, I realised that in my head I am at least 5'6" when I get married. This is not going to be the case is it?

As We Know It - Jesus Relate

The following is a new piece for a larger writing project called "As We Know It" that I'm currently working on. There are other excerpts scattered around the blog should you want to look at them so this makes sense. Feel free not to!


If Hamish wasn’t going to answer the questions seriously, then she wasn’t going to bother holding his hand to increase the positive energy between them. She shuffled a few inches away from him on the cream sofa.

Jesus sighed.

Things like this had been a lot easier when you were allowed to throw stones at each other. He strongly suspected instructing Hamish to launch a rock at Sarah’s head would land both of them in a fair bit of hot water with Mrs Shoe. She was on the militant end of the feminism scale, sort of where you’d expect Pol Pot to be had he been born with less appendages.

Hamish was sat very still on the sofa. His newly emptied hand was faintly clammy and quivering with nervous tension. He was fighting the tiny voice in his head that told him to stand up and go and tug Jesus’ beard. He absolutely couldn’t possibly be Jesus. Jesus could not be in the living room holding a copy of “Relationships: Sowing The Benefits” and trying to persuade his girlfriend that race was not an issue. Jesus could not be ginger.

He thought if he could just get to the beard he might be able to cover up the experimental tug with a complicated American sportsman style hug. Unfortunately, Jesus was rummaging in his bag for his reading glasses so he could check whether page 4 actually read “Focus on the levels of devastation you would feel should your partner come to farm.”

Privately, Jesus was hoping it did say “farm”. Farming was safer ground... if these two had fields to plough and cattle to keep alive then they’d have less time to bicker about sun tans and ages past cultural diversity. They’d barely have time to regret the marriage of convenience their parents had bartered them into if they were exhausted and covered in dirt.

Marriage had been simpler back when no one had really wanted to do it. These days, everyone wanted to make a meal out of it. “Marriage isn’t a buffet,” Jesus was fond of saying (although it hadn’t made the final edit), “You can’t just pick the bits you want. Marriage is a compulsory 60 year a la carte continuous delivery of courses. And some of the courses are gross. Think about that, and if it seems too much then perhaps just get a sandwich.”

Although, of course, all that sandwich advice had backfired massively with a sharp increase in the level of prostitution in towns Jesus had visited recently. That hadn’t gone down well with the folks up top. Even Jesus’ insistence that any increase in employment rates was a positive in an emerging planet’s economy had fallen on deaf ears. You couldn’t win with some people.

The trouble was, Jesus had never been married. Or, not officially so as the news was likely to travel back home anyway. He was a special mission, no time for fancy distractions. A marriage on the grounds of research purposes was morally repugnant for a man pedalling the next best religion since the one with all the sitting down. Besides which, there were very strict limitations on what you could and couldn’t claim as a business expense when you were staying away. Jesus had always assumed the alimony he’d likely end up paying would not be tax deductable.

Sarah spent a few moments analysing the expression on Jesus’ face. He looked troubled, either the glasses were the wrong prescription or he had just noticed the title of the book he was reading from. It had never occurred to her in her wildest dreams that even the Holy Trinity would succumb to some bad eBay choices too. “Only human, I suppose.”
“Maybe we could break for lunch?” She ventured, hoping the manners she’d learnt in case she was invited for tea with the Queen were going to be good enough for the Prince of Men. “I’ve got some bread.”

“He can’t have bread.” Said Hamish.

“Why not?” Said Sarah.

Jesus looked up from his book.

“It’s got yeast in it.”


“He can’t have yeast.”

Jesus wondered briefly what yeast was and why he couldn’t have it.

“Why not?” Said Sarah.

“I don’t know. It just says it in the Bible, doesn’t it.”

“What? Where?”

“In the Egyptian bit. They baked unleavened bread to go out with Moses.”

“Actually that was a bit before my time...” Jesus began.

“I don’t think they did it because he was allergic or anything.” Interrupted Sarah, “I think it was more a case of them not having time for the bread to rise because they were in a hurry to get away.”

“Oh,” Said Hamish thoughtfully, “So, does bread only take so long to cook because of the rising? Is it technically edible earlier?”

“I don’t know, I would imagine it’d give you a stomach ache.”

“Excuse me?” Said Jesus amicably.

“Yes?” Said Sarah.

“Well, I just wondered if we were going to be baking bread for lunch?”

“No, I’ve got some in the cupboard.” Said Sarah.

“Well then, we needn’t continue this conversation any further.” Replied Jesus and he shut the book and led the way into the kitchen to fix himself a sandwich. He was particularly interested in a new invention he’d got wind of involving butter and peanuts, although not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Saturdays Aloud

Dear People Popularly Known As The Saturdays and Girls Aloud,

I was reading throuh trashy 'news' on the internet when I encountered an article where you muse on the concept of teaming up to make 'music' together. My initial gut reaction to this news was fast and acidy, but after hastily swallowing and having a glass of milk to calm my lurching stomach I read on to see what the benefits of this coalition would be. Obviously, I had already noted down that you would all be in one convenient location should the ghosts of Jeff Buckley and Elvis want to get together and shout at you for collectively pissing on the memory of good music.

I didn't have to wait long before one of you, probably the pretty skinny one, had enlightened me on why this collaboration would be the best thing to happen to a treble cleff since sliced staves:

‘Imagine – there’d be loads of us,’ said The Sats’ Frankie Sandford.

Yes, you are quite right Frankie, there would be loads  of you. But, there are also loads of people in the Syrian army and we're not particularly thrilled with what they're up to either. If you look back through history, large gatherings of people with very similar appearances have not always spelled good times for everyone else. Not that I am trying to discourage you in anyway from hanging out with your good buddies and publicity stunt co stars - can I just suggest you try not to record any of it audibly?

The excitably little beans from the Saturdays are incredibly complimentary about their mentors, Girls Aloud: ‘When we were watching their shows we thought it was amazing, so it would be great if they got back together and did a tour or something. That is lovely isn't it? Absolutely no hard feelings, unless you want to read into the slightly sinister "or something" just tacked on the end there... What on earth could the or something mean? Not that I'm saying the contents of Girls Aloud are limited to a small repertoire of abilities, I hear one of the blonde ones can almost play a harmonica without choking on it, and the brown haired one who wears dresses and heels can sometimes smile and sing at the same time. I really feel the snideness of The Sats (sic) should be left behind if they're going to truly embrace this "supergroup".

As a feminist, I feel it's incredibly important for young girls to have effective female role models. Having all 21 (I am hazy on the actual numbers involved) of the two groups standing on the stage at the same time would be a fantastic reminder to our youth that if you are attractive and willing to publicise every detail of your unsatisfying love life, you can go far in this world no matter what you're birthright. It's great to know that we can use televised talent contests as our "one shot" to the life we want, and, should we fail, it wasn't really our fault anyway so there's no point in trying to get where we want using a slow grind in obscurity. Girl power.

Basically, what I'm saying here, ladies, is that I couldn't be more pleased for you in your new venture. I feel you've had a contribution to music unrivalled so far by anyone above Year 4 in an English state school. Kudos on that - I certainly have done nothing as successful as you, and am unlikely to so as long as I have a desire for originality and keeping my clothes on due to the occasional carbohydrate that sneaks onto the celery I eat morning noon and night. Not that I think there's anything wrong with displaying an unhealthy level of attention to appearance above health. Wait a minute, I was lying in that last sentence.

Have fun - we all love karaoke and it's great that you've been able to make such a successful living out of it. If I could just ask, though, perhaps when you have combined the almighty weight of all 1600 of you, perhaps we could release the music without fanfare? See how it fares when it's just the music... just, you know, so you aren't disappointed when you find out you've sold more plastic look a like dolls than singles.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Exodus - Hoopla! Stereotypes Ahoy

Things I have had to learn to stop doing since leaving London:

Rolling my eyes at people who take longer than 3 seconds to go through an electronic gate
Judging anyone voluntarily on Oxford Street
Swearing at people who don't understand "Stand on the Right"
Leaving an hour to get anywhere, including my garden
Spitting on the floor at any mention of the Olympics
Finding reasons to pop into Harrods and sketching the escalators for the day I have my own mansion
Practising my "Is she pregnant?" glances
Budgeting 50% of my wages for the cost of getting to work
Duct taping my personal possessions to my pockets
Being less than thrilled not to pass a Monopoly location during my day
Pretending to be Eliza Doolittle in Covent Garden
Navigating using only a river as a point of reference

Things I have had to start doing since arriving in Brighton:

Googling "hemp"
Switching prospective names for firstborn from Joseph to Precious Malachi
Pretending I've always lived in Brighton to avoid judgement
Dealing with hill induced calf cramp
Making eye contact
Accepting my neighbours are people too
Budgeting 50% of my wages for the cost of making my hair look like I belong in Brighton
Taking care to watch for sharks
Navigating using only a fucking massive expanse of water as a point of reference
Allocating time to spend in Homebase choosing a delinquent shade of yellow to paint my future house

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Booth About Mats and Frogs

Sometimes comedy feels very difficult, although not, as a non comedian might expect, the getting on stage and talking to the crowd of strangers part. This week, it feels hard because of the contacting people and selling yourself as the next big thing to hit the comedy world. Since those cans of springy snakes, obviously.

This week, the decision to continue comedy as a viable means of supporting myself feels like someone a few years back said, "Hey, that's a great cross stitch you've done there... You should go pro..." So I did, I quit my job and spent all my money on aida (technical term - more than a one trick pony me) and thread and spent my days quietly being good at something that was totally useless.

Obviously, all is nowhere near as bleak as I would make out. In fact, it's a pretty exciting time... it's just the continual worry of the self employed person that nags away saying... well, yes you've got gigs this week but what about next week? Hmmmm?

Of course, I have made matters entirely harder for myself by moving to Brighton. Not exactly my choice - thanks to the good old London Olympics my rent was increased by 30% - yep, so, apologies if I'm not waving any flags come August but I was practically evicted from my house by people profiteering from people who are very good at running in circles very fast. Hurrah. Excuse me while I still think athletes are just the people who were better than me at school, only now they're being shoe horned into tampon adverts for no apparent reason that makes any sense to an avid tampon fan.

Stupid Olympics.

However, I must say Brighton has been fairly welcoming - they got the sun out and have given me full use of the beach with some excellent gigs and some pleasant theatre reviews too. Isn't that dandy. I shall blog more when I'm less of a grumpus.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Naked Deaf

This morning, whilst perusing the internet for things to distract me from admin work, I came across yet another article about whether or not women are funny. If you want to read it, it's in the Telegraph and can be found here.

Now, the article is similar to all the other ones I've read on that subject: "I didn't find any female comedians funny, I went and spoke to some and watched some live comedy from women who are not on the telly. I now know they are funny." Nothing particularly ground breaking here. So why print the article? Why out yourself as being that narrow minded? I'm confident not many people would write a piece saying, "I never thought black people could work as waiters because they would eat all the chicken, but now that I've been to a restaurant I believe it can work." So why print an article that insults women using similarly small minded and frankly ludicrous stereotypes?

It baffles me slightly that people want so desperately for there to be a difference between men and women when it comes to humour. Barely a gig goes by where, if I'm getting praise from someone who happened to like me, they don't drag my gender into it.

"I don't usually like female comedians, but you were funny."

Don't think for a minute that if you've ever said that to a woman who does comedy, that she's thought "Wow, I must have been really good then." She has undoubtedly thought, "Ah, you don't go to comedy a lot." or "Oh crap, I don't really want a demographic of people who think it's appropriate to say that. What with Jim Davidson winding up the tour dates, I don't need my gigs full of people who think the 1950s were a good place to stop social and spiritual development."

The truth is, it's idiocy to suggest that women are not as funny as men. Look around! Have you ever been to a public place and noticed that groups of females are just sitting around staring at the walls, or having heated debates about the economy without cracking a smile? No. They are making each other laugh. They're not heaving a sigh of relief if a man comes over so they know there's going to be some brief respite to the drabness of not being able to construct a punch line.

The writer of the article I read this morning was a woman. She wrote that it felt 'disloyal' to women to say she preferred male comedians. It doesn't sound disloyal, it is fine to say that, of the comedians you've seen, your favourites have been men. You've seen more men, it makes sense. But, to use that as a premise for asking if women can be funny at all, and if so, where are they... that just comes across as ridiculous. Not disloyal.

I've been thinking about it in a different way, to try and make it seem clearer. TV chefs. I've made a list of the ones I can think of off the top of my head:

James Martin
Nigella Lawson
Delia Smith
Heston Blumental
Marco Pierre White
Two Fat Ladies
The Hairy Bikers
Jamie Oliver
Michel Roux
Gordon Ramsey

So, out of those: My favourite is probably The Hairy Bikers. I like them. I dislike Heston Blumental's approach to food because it's inaccessible, I dislike Nigella Lawson because her style annoys me and she has focused more on puddings in the stuff I've seen, I like Gordon Ramsey because he annoys other people, I like Delia Smith because she keeps it simple and I like Jamie Oliver because he seems normal.

So, overall I like some of the male chefs more. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN I DON'T LIKE FEMALE CHEFS. Even if I disliked all the female chefs I'd put in that list, it wouldn't mean I don't think women are capable of cooking. It would mean, TV chooses people because they are an extremity of some kind and are therefore likely to stir a strong emotion in you. If there are fewer of one kind on the TV, it means you are less likely to find one in that category that is your favourite overall. Knowing that I prefer a famous male chef more than his female colleagues doesn't mean I breathe a sigh of relief if my Dad does the cooking or if I see a man in a white apron at a restaurant. Life has taught me that women can cook, just like it taught me women are funny. I have used this "life logic" to supersede what TV has appeared to show me.

In a similar way, knowing that Tim Minchin, Stewart Lee and Eddie Izzard are my favourite all time comedians so far doesn't make me furious if my sister tells me a joke, it doesn't make my bum cheeks clench nervously if Angela Barnes steps on the stage. Life has taught me the women around me are just as funny as the men, why should that change on a stage?

Stop looking for some kind of magical reason for your own prejudice and just listen to the jokes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Best Lily Allen Impression

Sometimes you just have to do things that you don't want to do. Sometimes you have to do things that you really don't think you're capable of doing. Today I did something that encompassed both of these things.

Today I had a singing lesson. I mean, I say I had a singing lesson, what I actually did was go round to the house of a very lovely young lady with a piano and make her dog bark for 4 hours. It was exhausting for all of us and, although she said the dog normally pees on the floor and it wasn't my fault, I don't think we'll be looking into repeat performances.

Don't get me wrong, I love singing, I just know my limitations. My vocal chords have the commitment levels of Kate Winslet after she utters the immortal line "I'll never let go, Jack." and then pushes the poor sod off into the sea to become tasty fish bait. At the first sign of danger my throat gets tighter than a virgin sparrow's fouffe and I can barely make a sound that isn't Tara Reid-esque at best in both pitch and intelligence.

Of course, like every other person on the planet I am an excellent singer... when alone in a car that's going 90 mph down the motorway at night with the best of Carly Simon on the CD player. In those circumstances I'm frigging Bette Midler at her peak, I'm how Celine Dion sounds when she's in the shower... I'm Britney if she was Christina.

In front of people I'm a bit more Cameron Diaz circa My Best Friend's Wedding. Singing in public seems to be all about confidence. Your voice is the Guide Dog and you're the blind person kind of hoping you didn't get a spiteful one that's going to lead you out into traffic in broad daylight. It's all about confidence in your voice; you have to let it do what it does and follow on behind nodding and looking surprised and breathing from your stomach. If I was meant to breath from my stomach, surely my lungs would be in my stomach? It just doesn't make any sense to me.

My voice today did exactly what I expected it to: nothing spectacular and everything to make the singing teacher's eyebrows dance the Hermione jig. I just don't have what it takes. The X Factor is sadly lacking from my genetic make up.

The thought of having to sing in front of an audience of people every day for the month of the Edinburgh Fringe (and a week at the Brighton Fringe) is currently reducing me to tears every time "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" gets back round to Pumba and Timon's bit at the end and I realise that's the only bit I can sing in tune. I am utterly petrified. Doing stand up sometimes makes me forget that there are still things like this that turn me into a jelly. As a comedian you're constantly told you are "brave". Every time I hear this a voice in my head says, "That's ridiculous, there's no real issue if it goes wrong - I'll know why it was and I'll work on it for next time." But this thought line comes from knowing what I'm doing... because I'll know how to fix it and I'll know I am capable of better even if that particular night doesn't go according to plan. However, with singing I'm getting an insight into how people must feel about comedy. If it goes wrong people are going to judge and I won't know how to rescue it by pointing to someone in the audience with a bad hair cut and making everyone else mock them.

I'm not allowed to give up on this though so it's essential I just swallow the tears and face the music. Having already gone running to my Mum and eaten a basket of Mini Eggs, I've exhausted my usual coping mechanisms and should probably get on with something pro active like practising. The next few months are going to be painful for most people in the vicinity with ears. I've already put a note through the neighbours' letter boxes to explain I'm moving out in 3 weeks anyway but I apologise for the inconvenience coming through the wall. No one should be overly surprised if the rate of machete attacks in Bermondsey increases over the next 3 weeks and then sharply transfers to Brighton.

Make humour out of the things that terrify you. Well, I've tried. I hope you it made you laugh in places. I'm off to find the nearest open window and some razor blades to gargle.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sock It To Me

Writing this post is the last thing on my To Do list for today. I really think, looking back, that leaving the creative thing that I actually care about until last was silly. Really I should have done it first so that I still cared about life but I haven't, so there.

The trouble with admin is that it can take many forms, and each of these forms manages to suck the life out of you in some way. Firstly today I had laundry. I don't mind putting clothes in the laundry and I quite like hanging it out... what I hate is taking it off the dryer and putting it away. There's an inevitable intervening two week period where I categorically just DON'T put it away and it stumbles back around my room until I'm not sure whether it was ever clean and I'll probably start the whole cycle again.

Today my main issue was with socks. The problem with socks is that they all look the same - and I don't mean that racistly, some of my best friends are sock puppets. They vanish and you have no discerning features with which to find them again. Socks don't drink milk! That's the main problem... where do you put the pictures up to claim a missing sock? The only place the socks go is on your feet and in the washing machine. What the hell is happening in between those two sock havens? I'm just saying if socks were bigger milk drinkers then we might stand a chance of having more matching pairs.

Socks are nomadic creatures. It's a direct consequence of being born hollow - they are always searching for that special something to complete them. It's not easy to constantly have a foot rammed in your poop hole. Poor socks. Lots of people get very suspicious of sock parents - lots of IVF accusations flying around because of the large numbers of twins in their birth rates. Actually, though, socks are very natural lovers. Very tender. The biggest selling sock single is "Sexual Heeling" which should give you some indication of their level of tenderness.

It's hard times for socks these days - we live in a world where shoes can increasingly be worn without socks. They are beside themselves with what to do. Flip flops used to be a novelty item, a horror story used by parents to frighten naughty ankle socks into going to bed at night. Nowadays people seem to be able to wear any kind of shoe without it's light hearted liner. Is it any wonder socks are disappearing off to sunnier climes?

There've been sightings of socks clinging to the Eurostar for days at a time in a desperate attempt to get away from this island that's being run into the ground by the barefoot brigade. Of course, when they reach the French shores they are driven away in the droves. The French don't wear socks at all. They wear stockings! Socks and stockings do not get on. Originally it was just a harmless rivalry between the two species but after years of specialist breeding by humans to refine the features of each, full scale animosity has broken out between them. If a sock and a stocking are left alone in a room for more than 20 minutes then literally nothing will happen because they are inanimate objects.

Of course, the worst nightmare for any sock is that they will develop a hole. Imagine if your skin just opened up one day and you were broken. Your only choices from that point are either to be thrown away or be stitched up with precisely no anaesthetic? Socks are the only creatures in the world who have to suffer the injustice of their only life saving procedure also being a swear word. And not even a good swear word at that. It's just insulting. As if being holey when you're a strict atheist wasn't bad enough as it is.

If a sock turns up out of the blue and you feel it needs punishing, the best way to deal with it is to wash it inside of a duvet cover. It's the sock equivalent of water boarding and, to be quite frank, it makes them madder than a march hare. The disorientation involved makes it ten times better than the human style but the sock will be docile as fishfood if you threaten him with a Mini Load at 30 on a Tuesday morning when he's not expecting it.

In 1992 I had a full drawer sock rebellion after I was given a pair of toe socks and the rest of the clan held a mutiny which resulted in her being tried and hanged for impersonating a glove. Messy business. Messy messy business these sock wars. That's the trouble with admin.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ic R Us

I used to pray for cloudy days after my wings grew in. The days when I woke up and couldn't see a speck of blue were by far my favourite. The best days would have huge chunky clouds that overlapped and jostled for position against each other. Sweet, rounded clouds that pulled the world in tighter together.

A cloudy day was a secret I could keep to myself - it meant there would be a moment where I sucked through the clouds towards the sun and kept a perfect day to myself. People on the ground would never know that if you could just get high enough, it would always be a storybook sky.

Navigating that initial burst through the cloud was the hardest bit at first. It took me a long time to get used to the change once my wings were wet - they were heavier and it was harder to manoeuvre. I dried out pretty quickly, of course, but there were some scary moments where the bottom would fall out of my stomach as I plummeted back towards that hammock of clouds.

When I was little my mother told me that if I watched too much television my eyes would go square, that if I ate all my brocolli my hair would go curly, or if I played with it too much it would fall off... But no one ever warned me that one day my shoulders would start itching without relief. You never notice a repetitive itch until it's a few hours in, after that it's all you can think about. If the itch turns into lumps on either shoulder blade then you think about it all the more.

The last thing I expected those lumps to turn into was wings. Who expects to get wings? Other than an incredibly dedicated Red Bull marketing executive.

Once you're above that cloud layer it is always flawless sunshine. The clouds below are perfect white and unpredictably sculpted. The light doesn't dance off them, it teases them, skimming off the sheer layer of vapour and then soaring back up into sheets of illumination.

I didn't really get bullied about having wings. There weren't enough pre-prepared lines for someone who unexpectedly sprouted wings in their 13th year on the planet. What did you bully someone with wings about? "Hey you, enjoy having an incredible ability like no other human?" The best I got was being dumped by my then girlfriend, Emma, in case our children came out looking more like geese than humans.

They grew slowly, it took almost a full year for me to be able to fly properly. It might have been quicker than that had I not frustratedly thrown myself off the roof of ASDA when they were about 6 months grown. In my defence, they were pretty big by then and I had no idea they'd be so pathetic. The broken leg really hindered my ability to fly.

Not being bullied didn't stop people treating me weirdly though. It's kind of difficult to have a normal friendship with someone who has wings. It's like finding out someone has an awesome job - that's all you want to talk about. I'm glad I was English though. Not a single day went by when my parents did get an offer from some research centre or other in America promising untold rewards if they could just study me for a few months. I had a feeling that, had I been born in America, the whole thing might have been a bit more X-Men. England didn't really operate like that. I had regular check ups to make sure my body could cope with the extra growths but that was about it.

Learning to fly was incredible. It was hard work, but getting flying skills and a six pack within two months of each other was not really a downside at all. At first I didn't have the energy to fly for longer than a few minutes, but the stronger I got the higher I could get and the more I could use the thermals to stay up.

I watched so many YouTube videos on birds' flight patterns, I studied weather shows so I could tell when would be a good time to go up. Lightning is even less enticing to fuck with when you're only yards away from it.

Finally flying became second nature. Like swimming. It felt incredible. It was so fast, so exhilarating. It was always mindlblowing, but there was still nothing like those secret sunny days I kept to myself above the clouds.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

No Woman No Cry

“We need to reclaim the word 'feminism'. We need the word 'feminism' back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist - and only 42% of British women - I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of 'liberation for women' is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? 'Vogue' by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?” 

That's a quote from the very excellent "How To Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran. It's a book I read a while ago and have recently been thinking about more than any other book. I'd never considered myself a feminist before reading that book. It's embarrassing to stand up for women isn't it? Highlights that it needs doing in the first place.

Being described as girly was never as cool as being a tomboy growing up. Why can't these mouthy kinds of women just see that things are fine?

Just recently there's been a revival of articles such as "I see nothing funny about vaginas" and "Where are all the women in comedy?"

We're here, we're plowing on same as a lot of men. We're doing it and we're doing it well. I don't think I feel any less likely to succeed in comedy because of my gender. If I fail miserably on a stage I do it because my jokes and performance weren't strong enough for the audience.

I don't often come against much that reminds me I'm a girl. I feel like a comedian when I'm on stage, I don't feel like either gender. Weirdly though, after a good few years of not really believing any of the hype about what a male orientated industry I'm in, this week has suddenly brought with it a shit storm of individuals who have dismissed me on the grounds of me being a woman before I'd even stepped on to the stage.

Firstly I dealt with two men who, upon hearing the MC say "she's a great act", responded with "Oh for fuck's sake" and then held their own conversation throughout the majority of my set. Whilst this was a bit of an irritation and annoyed me, I don't think it fussed the rest of the audience. There was no real way for me to deal with it humorously and concisely during my 15 minute set so I continued, had a good set and left the club with the promoter happy. More fool the only two arseholes in the room that missed out on a good time.

Later on in the week I arrived at a gig and was greeted warmly by the promoter and the other acts. Then, another man came into the room and looked at me and my friend (also female) and asked us which one was the act. I said I was, he pulled a face. I called him on it and asked what the problem was,

"Oh nothing love, I don't mean to be rude but we used to book women as novelty acts at my last club, so..."

So what? So, just because you used to book some shoddy ass line ups, you think I'm going to be awful? Go choke on your own power trip.

I had a lovely gig, a really pleasant country pub style gig. Some of the audience came up to me afterwards to congratulate me and the promoter was as pleased as the pub owner. Yet still this guy thought it was up to him to come over to me and say "Feel free to come back when you know what you're doing."

Excuse me? You weren't even in the audience, you sat next door and talked to other people yet still felt superior enough to come over and make me feel bad. Arguably, because I am a young woman. But I am a young woman who is good at her job - if someone spoke to me like that in an office there would be systems in place to make sure I didn't have to deal with it. It doesn't exist in comedy.

My favourite gig of the week, however, was the one where I was brought on to the stage with the words "And now we've got a fucking woman on" after having berated for having my hair cut because I was somehow now "not the act booked". Even my hearty reassurances that none of my hair based jokes would be affected did nothing to remedy the situation. Sigh.

Obviously, none of this has measurably stood in the way of my career, none of it affected my ability to tell my jokes and write new material. None of it will stop me being a success. But it did make me feel like shit. Why should I have to go to work feeling like shit because of small minded people? There are always going to be ass holes, I know this. I deal with this. But I'm looking forward to the day that I don't have to deal with them while they think they're better than me. And if that day comes quicker because more people consider themselves feminists and learn to treat everyone with a bit of respect then woohoo for feminism.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Father and Son

"I told you to get a real job. Get a degree I said - it'll set you up in life."

"Dad, I didn't need one. I was doing well..."

"Doing well? Smarming about making a living off having famous parents doesn't constitute doing well my boy. It makes you a posh ass hole."

"Dad, I'm a great public speaker! People love me!"

"Fantastic. I'm so glad people love you for being charming. You are about as useful as the cast of Made in Chelsea. You've never done a day's work in your life. I'm so disappointed in you."

"No, you don't understand. I was really making a difference. I had these dedicated followers who were working with me to..."

"You had a boyband."

"No, we didn't sing..."

"You didn't even sing? What kind of a boyband doesn't even sing?"

"We weren't a boyband..."

"You were a boyband."

"How many boybands do you know that have 13 members."

"So Solid."

"Fine, I'll give you that... but we weren't a boyband."

"Well, you certainly didn't get round to inventing football did you? What kind of bloke organises regular get togethers of 13 men and doesn't organise a kick about? I suppose it must be quite tough since you're all wearing dresses."

"It's the fashion, Dad. It's pretty hot where we were."

"You've always got an excuse haven't you? Have you got any idea how this looks to the neighbours? I'm a laughing stock having my son moving back in at the age of 35. It's embarassing."

"Loads of people my age have to move back in with their parents as a stop gap..."

"Hercules didn't! Do you have any idea what Zeus has been saying about me behind my back? Hercules managed to make a success of himself despite being orphaned and losing all his powers. You had my entire backing, foster parents AND miracle powers. How did you manage to screw it up?"

"I haven't screwed it up. It's all part of my plan, I'm going to go away for a bit and then magically reappear when they've really been missing me."

"Oh, Jesus Christ!"

"Yes, Dad?"

"Don't be facetious. So your master plan is to stage a comeback tour?"

"Not a tour..."

"And what's your master plan until then? Hey? Hang around here sponging off me until you decide you want to go back? How very mature. This isn't a hotel you know, you can't just come and go as you please. I don't want to be washing your dirty socks until you're 40."

"That is ridiculous. I famously don't even wear socks"

"I don't care. I want you to get back down there and have another go. You won't learn anything if you always bail when things get a little bit tough."

"A little bit tough?! Dad! THEY NAILED ME TO A FUCKING CROSS?"


"Are you listening to me? They nailed me to a wooden cross and just left me there until I had the good sense to shut my eyes and go quiet."


"Hercules didn't have to deal with this shit."

"Hercules fought monsters."

"Yeah, and his Dad was all ticker tape and vuvuzelas supporting him as he beat the shit out of stuff. I've got the power to bring people back from the dead and heal the blind and the lepers and you had me preaching all this "Meek people are the bomb" nonsense. Then they nailed me to a sodding cross, not even teak may I add, and you made me just suck it up and pretend like I meant this to happen."

"Well, we're trying this new approach to being a deity. It's modern and stuff..."

"Modern? It's bullshit that's what it is. Sitting in the desert not eating for 40 days at a time? Have you seen the size of Buddha? Why can't we do that?"

"We're anti-Greed. It's our policy."

"Well, I'm not sure we've got it right to be honest. There has been a pretty intense spike in the number of dead babies since we got started. I'm worried that's not going to go down well with the lefties."

"The dead babies have been unfortunate but marketing are on it and I'm pretty sure Herod and Pharoah are going to come out of it worse than us."

"Well they better bloody do, I GOT NAILED TO A CROSS."

"It's a striking image."

"Oh brilliant, so even the people who like me are going to be rubbing it in my face. This is like Elvis fans wearing a toilet on a chain round their neck. It's disrespectful."

"You have a bad attitude. This conversation is finished. Go and help your mother in the kitchen."

"Don't give me that shit. We both know there are no women up here. Your bread and fish will be ready in half an hour."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easy Friday

Personally, I think it's very easy not to be religious these days. We're very far removed from the times and the places that Christianity was conceived, making it seem obsolete and inappropriate for modern living. I'm no great fan of organised religion - I was raised as a Christian but ceased attending church and considering myself a Christian at about 18.

I'm not a fan of the fervently religious or the blunt faith bashers. I think either way of living makes you very short sighted - it's far better to be able to see the upsides and downsides of any way of life. Yes, Christianity has sparked many wars but it's also been the building blocks of a legal and social system that has taught the vast majority of people not to kill. The epitome of swings and roundabouts.

Why so pious Laura?

Well, Easter is coming up isn't it? A few days away. The day when Jesus was supposed to have risen from the dead. The thought of Jesus being in the modern world is something of an interesting idea in my opinion. Will his miracles have updated if he does reappear? I feel like he wouldn't particularly fit in if he was to reappear as written.

Turning water into wine is a great idea but in the modern context it does it make it seem a little like Jesus is into drink spiking. No one wants a headache all day Sunday, spending the day in bed perplexed having only drunk water from 11 onwards, only to receive a text from Jesus that simply says "LOL". Funny fucker that guy! Of course, it's reasonable to assume he will not be allowed into a club in sandals anyway. If you walked across water at the beginning of time, is it safe to say you'd be OK crowd surfing at Oceana?

Good old Jesus. The problem I've always had with Religion bashers is that they miss out on an integral point, that, whatever you want to believe about following a completely Christian way of life, there are some gems of wisdom that are not to be sniffed at. I've written countless blog posts over the years but none of them have come close to making the splash that the 10 Commandments did. It's like working on a Noah skit after Glorious had already been toured.

My favourite pearl of wisdom from the Bible is, "Don't hide your light under a bushel". Advice for anyone with a slight self esteem issue. This is one of Jesus' rare ideas that actually makes more sense once it's become a modern cliche.

A bushel in Jesus' day would have been a measure of dry weight. Arguably a light would have also been a flaming torch.

Jesus was the Health & Safety guy who just got a bit out of hand.

"Hey guys, can we please stop storing the flaming torches under the mounds of corn? It's really just making the torches bigger. It's not really possible to hide it under there until it's completely gone out. Then it's not really a light any more. It's just a stick. Stop hiding your stick under a haystack. Do you need me to write these down for you?"

Of course there are upsides to having a slightly strange Health & Safety guy at the office. He's always the guy who fastidiously collects coupons. Nectar points are a useful commodity when all 5,000 employees have turned up to the company picnic and only Sue has thought to bring more than Scotch Eggs. Good old Jesus will have made the most of the 3 for 2 on bread and fishes.

He's a sweet guy.

It'll be nice to have him back on Sunday if he does want to come. I think he'll be thrilled to see the changes to the world. I have a sneaking suspicion his whole "raising Lazarus from the dead" bit might have been a slight fabrication, using CPR as an excuse for why he might have been caught lip locking another guy.

"Yeah, choking he was. Weren't you, Laz? Choke up chicken. Feeling better? Good. That was me that was. Rescued him."

 We've moved on Jesus - compassion and love for one another, the very values you taught, have been spread further than anyone in your day could have possibly imagined and we are now closer to an all inclusive society of equality than we have ever been. Now, if we could just learn to laugh at ourselves...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Week That Could Suck Itself

Writing this post is how I imagine trying to run a marathon as an athlete feels, after they've taken a sabbatical for 6 months and eaten nothing but KFC. I know my brain used to have a vocabulary and my fingers would occasionally press the right buttons. I've been staring at the screen for about an hour now and there's very little by way of ideas or coherent thought structures coming to mind.

In my defence I've had a shit week. My brain's melted through sheer exhaustion. In the last 7 days I've been London to Gloucester to London to Bournemouth to London to Exeter to London and spent the non-car hours in a call centre working for £5 an hour. Sounds fun and glamorous when I say it, I know, it hasn't been particularly.

I can tell I'm tired and cranky for the following reasons:

1. I'm sad about losing Twitter followers. I don't usually care about Twitter followers. Whenever I lose a follower I try and imagine they are someone I'm friends with on Facebook... then I wish I had lost more and deleted my Facebook account.

2. I'm crying

3. I've had a seized up tongue since Tuesday. A SEIZED UP TONGUE? WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE? Well mum, dad and anybody else reading, at first I thought it was an ulcer on the side of my tongue. But it has done nothing to abate and now the muscles in my throat and jaw are also tightening. It's quite painful to move my tongue. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH YOU USE YOUR TONGUE IN A DAY? If it's not gone by tomorrow I'm going to cut it out.

4. I'm listening to the Mamma Mia soundtrack.

5. I just took a 6 minute break from this blog to analyse whether it was a trick of the light or whether my moustache was actually darker on the left side. It was not a trick of the light.

6. I've spent the day singing "You'd Better Draw Something" to the tune of Bob Dylan's "Serve Somebody". I am that ethereal blend of dangerously influenced by popular culture and achingly obscurely uncool.

By far the worst thing that's happened this week is finding out that I have to move out of my beloved house. I'm beyond gutted. Circumstances that are far too dull and devoid of comedy to explain are forcing me to move out. This means there are lots of decisions to be made... oh my sweet meat sucking fruit bat Christ I hate making decisions.
Back to Lapland?
Back to Somerset?
Down to Brighton?
Stay in London?

When faced with bad circumstance I think it's very important to consider what rock bottom for your personal circumstances are and then mediate your response from there. Rock bottom in my life would never be worse than moving in with a family member until I was sorted. And if that's rock bottom then life is pretty sweet really. If you're not totally convinced by that as a comfort method it's also fun to mould the cast of Made in Chelsea out of your own shit and then throw them at a nearby wall.

So that's my week. I also took some time this week to be a little bit more politically aware and compiled a list of what I consider to be "Features of the Well Off" so that when I am in charge I will know who to tax, the list includes the following:

1. Having a Tempur mattress in the spare room.
2. Using the following carrier bags for rubbish: Steamer Trading, Marks & Spencer or French Connection. They're good bags, keep them for a picnic.
3. Buying real dusters instead of just using dirty socks.
4. Using a Taxi sober/Considering congestion charge roads as optional.

So, there's my stuff. I guess my deep felt feeling of bullshit frustration at losing my house has made me want to move back into my little bloghouse. Apologies if this upsets you in anyway but in all honesty if you not only clicked the link but also read down to this point then it's your own bastard fault and you might want to think about leaving the internet for some to rethink your existence. Just a thought. If you've had a good time then I'll see you tomorrow for some more waffling. Mmmmm. Crumpets.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This Time Last Year It Wasn't

So, a leap year, huh?

Well, thanks "tradition" or whatever bollocks means girls can propose to boys today. Thanks for our one day of romance. Now I will be spending an entire Wednesday sitting by the phone waiting for David to respond to my many calls, texts and emails. Wednesdays must be pretty busy for him. I understand.

For this reason, I don't really have time to write a proper blog post because I don't want to use up all my broadbands on this and miss an important incoming tweet from the man himself.

I've put out a few feelers and been getting my back ups in order just in case he doesn't get back to me today. So far I've approached Will Young and Danny DeVito (not in real life because I'm not a good shouter and I've not been allowed within 300 yards of them since 2007).

No responses as yet. Will keep you posted.

Later on today I am aiming to track down (potentially actually) the following men to see if they were waiting for me:

David Beckham - I hear his wife is so small these days that it's not actually bigamy for him to marry someone under 9 stone.

Tim Minchin - I will be dressed as a piano and offering to go on tour with him.

Sheldon Cooper - I'm hoping to convince him my maiden name is Bazinga and offer to allow him to use it too.

John Cena - I don't mind if he doesn't want to marry me as he leads a very dangerous lifestyle but I would quite like to just curl up on his chest for a while and sleep like a lizard on a warm rock.

Robbie Williams - I will present him with the diaries I kept through my teenage years where I faithfully wrote to nobody that if Robbie had just come for a long weekend at my house I could have helped him out with the anonymity he craved after fame at such a young age. And I could have given him some lovely sex. Lovely over excited sex.

Lord Bath and Kate Humble - they have to marry me as a pair and let me live with Keeper Brian Kent who also loves wolves as much as I do.

Obviously, all offers will be withdrawn should Mr Attenborough manage to give me a call today. Unless they're all right with some kind of weekend custody deal.

Monday, February 27, 2012


People quite often say, "Ooh, stand-up comedy? I bet that's therapeutic?" and to a large extent these fictional strangers are right, because in some respects it can be quite therapeutic. I've used stand up to talk about all sorts of nonsense until it no longer seems real any more because I've used it so many times to get laughs. Ex boyfriends become laughter rhythms instead of people, humiliating stories become set pieces and late nights awake staring at the ceiling become countless retweets (I expect).

However, sometimes, instead of being cathartic, it becomes a little obsession that threatens to take over all your thought processes until you've largely forgotten what kicked off the idea in the first place.

Just lately I've become obsessed with looking at things I barely used to notice, which now wind me up to melting point. It all began with a little bit of writing I did on the subject of basil. The herb. Basil the herb. If you want to read it, it's somewhere in the archive of this here blog. I was commenting on what, to my mind, was the superfluous label on the side that read "Suitable For Vegetarians". I just couldn't see the point in the label... I don't really live in a mindset where there could be sufficient sneaky meat in a jar of basil to put me off eating it. Even being carnivorous, you're probably not going to want to eat the sort of meat companies are secreting into a jar of basil. What is it likely to be? Centipedes? Obviously everyone has their food/bug ratio that they're happy to eat without worrying, but how many aphids per jar are we talking about here?

Anywho... this is what kicked the whole thing off. I would describe it as the removal of a base level common sense requirement for survival in our world. It's literally driving me crazy.

After the Basil fiasco, I started to notice how many products had completely superfluous "Serving Suggestions" on them. The basil jar also has a serving suggestion just in case "sprinkle" was too difficult a concept for you to master on your own. Luckily I read it before I blended the entire lot into a banana and basil smoothie. Thank you label, for your infinite wisdom.

We have a jar of mayonnaise in our fridge where the serving suggestion is a plate with some ham, egg and chips on it and a dollop of mayonnaise next to them on the plate. In small lettering it then says "Serving Suggestion" by the pencil drawn cutlery. Who is buying mayonnaise without any idea what to do with it?

Are there hordes of people seeing jars of it for the first time and thinking "What is this?! This looks great, let's take it home now! I hope they tell us what to do with it or we'll just have to guess and put it in the bath..."

Or, are the manufacturers freaking out that their mayonnaise isn't reaching its full potential? Is there a poor executive sitting in a room somewhere pulling his eyebrows out over the idea that consumers would have no idea that mayonnaise is at its best in blob form with a chip being dunked into it?

"They keep mixing it into tuna and egg, why can't they just leave it alone?! I know, a crude diagram on the side..."

It's not just my fridge that's causing brain ache. Yesterday almost became the first day in my entire life where I have shouted at a stranger without reasonable (a court would say) provocation. I was in a clothes shop - not something I do very often - and the battery was dead in my mp3 player. I found a nice jumper that I wanted to try on and so I went to the changing room to do it.

There were two girls in there, one was trying on a dress and the other was helping her decide whether or not to buy it because the first girl was incapable of simultaneously wearing the dress and thinking. As I queued for a free cubicle, the first girl came out of hers wearing a dress that was obviously too small.

"What do you think?" She says to girl number 2.
"I dunno..." She replies, helpfully, instantly failing at her one task in the changing room.
"Do you think it's a bit small?"
"YES" said my brain inside my skull.
"Yeah, I think it might be." Said girl number 2, and here's where it began: "What size it?"
"It's a 12."

Here they both paused. I was puzzled.

"Well, it sort of feels a bit small." Says girl number 1.
"Go and get a 14 then." Said my brain under my hair.
"Yeah, but it's your size." Says girl 2, inexplicably.
"That's what I was thinking." Says girl 1.
"Were you?" Erupts my brain through my ears. "You were thinking it looked and felt a little small, but that you must be mistaken because of the tiny number printed on the label? It hadn't occurred to you that you might have gained a little weight? Or, miracle of miracles, that shops just invent these sizes and they shift and change about depending on the store you're in or the item you're trying on? It hadn't occurred to you that you might need to think about what you're buying instead of just trusting blindly that God gave you the magic number 12 at birth and that everything ever printed with that number on it will fit you? For the love of basil..."
"Well, if it's your size you should get it. I like the colour." We're back to girl 2.
"Yeah, I think I will."

Scene Ends with two casualties: My sanity and common sense. The chalk outline lies sadly unnoticed by the masses.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Funny Business

It's a curious thing, being a "budding new comedian" because comedy clubs, agents and comedians themselves would have everyone believe that each new joke spouter did one of the following things:

Shot to fame.
Rocketed to notoriety.
Burst onto the scene.

The reality is that, unless you have some kind of omnipotent parent, you're pretty unlikely to shoot, rocket or burst anywhere. Comedy is a slow and painful grind. Unfortunately "miserably traipsed from dank club to dingy pub for 8 years telling slight variations on the same jokes before someone noticed just as she was tightening the noose and offered her a chance to play to stag do's for better money on a Saturday in early 2012" doesn't fit as well onto a bio or a poster.

Marketing is marketing. Doesn't hurt anyone and makes the whole industry seem more glamorous and exciting.

Unless you're at the beginning watching everyone else supposedly taking off like fireworks and wondering whether your own lack of uncensored week on week noticeable improvement means you should just give up and go back to the office. Don't do it. Just to offer some encouragement, I have written a helpful guide to starting out in comedy and maintaining the faith that print means nothing:

Shot to fame = Wasn't good enough or experienced enough when first noticed by agents who pushed this comedian into things they weren't ready for. Exciting at first, but caused no end of problems in the long run.

Burst onto the scene = Took every gig on offer and nearly bankrupted themselves playing Penzance for £15 on Tuesday and Nottingham on Wednesday in exchange for petrol money. This is the most glamorous way of saying comedy whore - an approach not to be sniffed at.

Alternative style and unshakeable confidence in their own ability = Incredibly unfunny to the general public but continued to plough doggedly on with the material until they had a cult following. Bit of a dick in the green room too.

Slick and funny = Utterly unremarkable remake of thousands of comics gone before.

A natural = Been going for so long they recite their 20 in their sleep.

Ultimately, as long as the audiences are enjoying what you're doing, you're fine. Keep going, keep writing and keep enjoying yourself. If you're not having fun there's something wrong. I'm almost tempted to update my own website as a beacon of hope to all those who will follow in my barefootsteps...

"Laura Lexx crawled onto the comedy scene armed with seven whole jokes and a perpetually shrill intonation."

"Laura Lexx first burst on to the scene in 2009 where she performed confidently across the London open mic scene. This initial burst was followed by a solid two years of being wedged in the scene's cat flap. Whilst not being entirely uncomfortable here, Lexx is methodically working up and down the country on freeing up limbs and depositing them into the 'scene' side of the cat flap. Catch her while you can, before she dies of starvation or gets pregnant to distract herself from the eternal disappointment of the working world."

"Laura Lexx is not the most successful comedian you could book but she tries very hard, doesn't charge much and is rarely offensively bad."

"Other comedians have recommended Lexx as a star addition to any bill, rumours that this is due to the quality of baked goods on the car trips are unfounded."

Wouldn't that be better? No bitterness, no boasting, no false modesty... just honesty and a nice lack of showbiz glamour. Hurrah for comedy!