Friday, June 05, 2015

My shocking column from The Teacher in full.

Prepare to be horrified.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mick Taylor: A little obituary.

Magnus Betner, me, Mick Taylor, Mats Betner
It is incredibly sad but also deeply fitting that last week I should have arrived back from a tour of Norway to learn of the death of my former agent Mick Taylor. Tomorrow I am off to his funeral. Without Mick I would never have started touring Scandinavia and met a group of comics who have become some of my closest friends including Tobias Persson, Magnus Betner, Frederick Andersson and Lasse Nilsen.

I first met Mick when Magnus had decided to tour the UK with his help and the two arrived at Soho Comedy Club where I was MCing. Magnus was impressed with my stagecraft and, never one to move indecisively, Mick had signed me to his Loose Cannons agency within a few weeks.

I've never met or even heard of an agent as "hands on" as Mick. He thought nothing of driving us to gigs. He spoke to everyone, door staff, promoters, other acts, bar tenders, bouncers and audience members alike. He must have handed out 100 plus business cards most weeks and would end up arranging gigs himself if he thought the space or the bar was right for it.

One time he drove me to Up The Creek in Greenwich. In the afternoon he had taken dark and often controversial Norwegian act Dag Soras to a corporate booking for a Norwegian company. Dag was still in the back of the car and Mick was waxing lyrical about having enjoyed the show despite it being in a language he didn't speak. "I think it's the rhythm of comedy, it's a very distinct language, you don't have to understand the words to see the craftsmanship... I enjoy Dag's work just as much in Norwegian" he explained.

I rather dryly replied "Sometimes I actually prefer Dag's work in Norwegian". Mick laughed so hard I had to grab the wheel to stop us veering off the road.

Well I think that was Mick all over: a huge lover of the whole art of comedy, but often in need of some external steering.

Here's to you mate!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Goldsmiths and me. The full story. The proof.

The media have written a lot about my show at Goldsmith College being cancelled tonight and of course social media is now abuzz with people calling me a liar and claiming I've made the whole thing up. So here's my version. With screenshots to prove it. My apologies for releasing shots of what was obviously intended to be a private conversation, I wanted very much to avoid this but I'm not going to put up with being called a liar repeatedly. I have blurred out identifying details of the representative from Goldsmiths Comedy Society because I know from personal experience how the internet can over-react otherwise.

I was booked to do a show at Goldsmiths College, in south London. I've performed there many times before. The show was a joint event for the Comedy Society and the Feminist Society - members of which could come for free - and we then agreed that they would put up a ticket page for anyone else - such as local residents who fancied coming. As a way to cover costs or raise a few extra quid.

The day before the show (Sunday) I was getting a lot of hassle on Twitter because I had dared to suggest that cutting the opening hours of Spearmint Rhino strip club was a good thing. From the get-go I'd started blocking people on Twitter who were bothering me, so I could generally only see half of the conversation that was going on. I did however start to see messages like this one from @LSESUFeminists...

...I thought it was only fair to let the organisers know that I thought there was a risk of a protest or of people coming along to the show with the specific aim of disrupting it or arguing with me. I think it would be unprofessional not to warn organisers if there was a possibility of disruption.

It turned out they were already aware of controversy surrounding my performance - which I was not aware of...

...needless to say I was more bothered by the apparent low ticket sales - I hadn't realised (this would be clarified later) that this referred to tickets bought online, not to members of the Comedy Society and Feminist Society who would be just showing up on the night as they didn't have to pay. So I queried this...

...and for the benefit of those who have been suggesting that I wanted the show cancelled or that I invented the problem to get out of doing a show, you can also see I've made it abundantly clear I do want to do the show.

Also note that after the media got hold of the story Goldsmiths Comedy Society responded suggesting the show had been cut due to poor sales. A few points on that:

1. The show was never set up for tickets to be sold - it was a free event for students from the relevant societies. The tickets sold were extras on top of the expected crowd.
2. They were still expecting 50 people when hey pulled the event.
3. The show has been very popular elsewhere. In Edinburgh we had to cut the show slightly short to allow extra time to get the crowds in and out on weekends. It had all 4 and 5 star reviews. For example:
4. If you're going to pull a show over sales, you could save a lot of effort by just doing that rather than trying to call me a bad person!
5. Wow - isn't it petty and mean to refuse to accept that you screwed up and try instead to damage my professional reputation by undermining me with misleading data like that?

Then the issue of the sex industry comes up...

...but I was never sent the "safe space" policy so I can't see what it says. I can't understand how a Student Union can support a whole industry. Do they support the oil and gas industry? The textile industry? That's weird. But it may not be what the policy says - I haven't seen it so I haven't had a chance to agree to it or not.

The final word on the matter is this...

...needless to say I am far from best pleased and I ask for more information...

..which I get, rather confusing conflicting information though. What do those complaints say? I get a little bit of information... be clear I don't give a crap who choses to wear a scarf and who doesn't. I have a massive problem with all those countries and communities where women are directly or indirectly forced to wear a burqa or veil of any sort or punished for not doing so. But y'know, I'm a radical extremist right? I'm not really saying no-one's ever complained about me. But we have to assess complaints to see if they're even valid, right? Here's the full version of what I said...

...I wasn't shown the other complaints - I have asked for them.  I do feel bad that one individual has beens stuck in the middle of clearly a lot of conflicting angry voices (including mine). But on the other hand (philosophy mode now, strap in!) that's the responsibility that free speech gives us. People can say things, others can complain, someone needs to assess those complaints and see if they're worth acting on. Obviously I think I should have been allowed to perform. Especially as my show - which is not in any way about the sex industry or the burqa - is about free speech. Actually there is no better time to heckle than halfway through a show about free speech!

And yes - we probably will put it on somewhere else in London soon. It will be part of the Leicester Comedy Festival and hopefully the Brighton Fringe. I won't post links or I'll be accused of shamelessly using the incident to promote my work. But anyone who had a ticket for Goldsmiths - yes all eight of you!! - can drop me a line and be guest-listed and served free drinks by me personally at an upcoming performance.

Thank you for all the support.