Friday, 30 July 2010

:(

(originally posted on myspace here)


Could you step into my office?

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Thanks. Okay pull up a chair, great... So listen, no news is good news but if you want to see Money it would be incredibly useful if you came this month. That's tonight or Saturday. Just saying. Really, really useful for all concerned. Sorry to go on about it. But that's it really, I just wanted to let you know that. Okay? Not at all, thanks for popping in. See you tomorrow maybe, o-hokay. Buy.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A scene from the Coens (Fleeting Canadian Cameo)

(originally posted on myspace here)

 

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After last night's show Tom and I were sitting with our bottles of Super Bok in a corrugated iron shelter, looking out in silence at the evening drizzle and the festoons and the sold and the unsold chairs, when a man in glasses turned up and asked "Aw man, do you know if there's a late show?" He wore a matching short-sleeved shirt and a blue trilby to shield him from the rain and said he was from Canada. "I'm here to see forty-five shows in twenty-four days" he explained. There wasn't a late show Tom and I apologized. The man said there was nothing like British Theatre in his opinion, and that he'd heard our show was quite like Cirque de Soleil only scary. I said Tom was quite like Cirque de Soleil only scary. Tom said he didn't have the skills. I said not falling off was a skill. Then we asked him what, twenty-nine shows into his mission, he'd liked the most. He said something called "Blind Spot" which I think from his description was about the mythical blind seer Tiresias ("Seer?! HARDLY!" Laurence and Gus) but there had been two plays about Tiresias that week and now he couldn't quite unpick them in his mind. Anyway he hoped to catch our show on Saturday instead, after seeing "Rope". We asked if it was the old "Rope", and did he know how long it was. He didn't but I hope he can make it over. His name was John Tracey. It's on the list.

Money's still on here.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Time for a hymn

(originally posted on myspace here)

Just some plugging, then I'll let you get on. I wrote a hymn, a second if you count Jonah Non Grata's "Spanky Ax" and actually hell yeah let's count "Spanky Ax". You can hear this hymn - the other hymn - on this week's TuMAhWoL over at iplayer being sung by David Mitchell within hearing of a Japanese actor called upon to do little but go yes and nod, which seemed a lot less racist in my head. Sorry Togo Igawa. I see from your IMDB you appeared in an episode of Never The Twain back in 1988 as "Japanese Tourist"; I hope you didn't suffer flashbacks. From going yes and nodding I mean, not from being in something my dad might have written. (Look, actual footage of a Japanese inventor going yes and nodding can be found here like that's going to help my case. I did research! Brackets: And this is my first ever recurring character in a sketch show. Christ! I think he goes to Tehran next week, close brackets.)

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Tache? Check. Milk? Check. Cultural WTF? Check.

You will also see Robert Webb fulfill a long held wish of mine to see Daniel Day-Lewis get into a fight with his own facial hair. (Is it in fact possible to be TOO cutting edge?) And you will see a line which I simply intended to signify the sucking of a pipe ("Pp- Ppah-") misinterpreted as an attempt to blow a mustache off one's own face with consequences far more hilarious than I can claim responsibility for. It is a GOOD sketch, and makes me feel a bit like I've won Jim'll Fix It (and thanks once again to whoever's already uploaded these sketches onto youtube so I can put them on my homepage. Cheers, pirates.)

AND! On Friday you can see my sister triumph as a porn's answer to DeForrest Kelley on "The IT Crowd"- What am I saying, "Friday"? You can see it NOW!

&! Once it is uploaded I shall post a charming and moving photograph of Douglas Adams' grave discovered yesterday in Highgate Cemetery by me and my baby (who from now on I might call Keeps, I dunno about this whole "my baby" thing.) Jeremy Beadle's buried there as well it turns out. His epitaph is "Ask My Friends", which now I think about it actually makes perfect sense.

Right, off you go- Oh wait yes! Bonus hymn:


(Thanks as ever, videogum)

Monday, 26 July 2010

The First Futurama (ADAM CURTIS SAYS "WATCH IT")

(originally posted on myspace here)

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Oh Heavens! I was hoping to put up a post about General Motors' Futurama from the 1939 World's Fair which I first found mentioned in Michael Chabon's superb book "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay". Perhaps partly because of the structural similarity of a lot of Shunt's work to a ride, quite a bit of the research behind "Money" had concerned theme parks and expositions - where citizens were invited by businesses to queue up and have their future dictated to them - and for me the 1939's World Fair, and the Futurama in particular, really stand out as something like the fountainhead. It was after all Disney's work on this Fair that led to the spawning of Disney Land, Disney World and the Experimental Project City Of Tomorrow (and is why Tony Stark's dad in Iron Man 2 has that moustache). But coming to write this post, and re-reading the Chabon, I realised I had in fact completely overlooked in my research (and by research of course I mean "surfing youtube") the exhibit into whose remains Clay and Bacon actually sneak: not "Futurama" but its companion piece "Democracity". And thus, looking for footage of Democracity, I came across the following typically arresting and gigantic narrative from Adam Curtis about its creator Edward Bernays (particularly fascinating for me as the similarly arresting and gigantic sci-fi sitcom pilot I am currently putting off is inspired by exactly this same link between Futurism and Shadowy Figures Of Influence, or might as well be, I dunno, haven't written it yet)...



... And this in turn took me to Adam Curtis' equally arresting take on interviewing the Goldsmiths here. So what I'm saying is I got a bit distracted.

But let's plough on: Here are some stills of the 1939 Futurama taken from a contemporary home movie. It's not simply the scale of the ride that knocks me out - FAR larger than I expected - but the accuracy! Look at it! No steam-powered rain-shields or helicopter-bussles here, this is pretty much how 1960 turned out, no? It's like General Motors said "This is the Future" and the world said "Oh okay." Keep your hands in the machine, please:

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These are moving cars by the way, driven by a clockwork mechanism. The effect is startlingly realistic in some  footage. Anyway, into the night...

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See? BIG!

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No but REALLY BIG!

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"Residential, commercial and industrial areas all have been separated for greater efficiency, and greater convenience," says the narrator. It is that sinister.

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"Here is an American City re-planned around a highly developed modern traffic system..." he goes on.

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"On all express city thoroughfares the rights of way have been so routed as to displace outmoded business sections and undesirable slum areas whenever possible..."

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"Man continually strives to replace the Old with the New. Rich in sunshine is the City of 1960."

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Sigh...

The full promotional film, complete with spooky organ music, is here.
And the home movie from which these images were taken is here, I think. I lost the link. It's spectacular whatever it is.
Oh and of course Money's still on here.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Lounge Flashback: November 18 2008

(originally posted on myspace here)

 

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I've just come across this old post from 2008 and been struck by how much of what's been knocking around in my mind following the closure of the Lounge turns out to be quoting from it verbatim, so here's a link. Clearly I think in recycled soundbites.

Reading through these old posts it also occurred to me that I might continue to write about the Lounge by just making stuff up. Keep it alive here if nowhere else. Last Thursday I saw an aerialist made out of bicycle called "Lady Ganymede" whose owner used to source ring tones for the Vatican, something like that...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Show 317 (... Always Be Closing, cont.)

(originally posted on myspace here)



So hey! As you may have seen we finally finished making that Money trailer. And into our fourth run the houses are full once again. COINCIDENCE?!?!?!?!? We're well past the three-hundredth show and it's still fun to perform, more fun than when we started in fact because all the niggling ideas of the other shows this might have been have long since faded now and we can just get on with it. BUT... now, yes... the bad news is - here we go - Shunt's newly desperate straights have forced them to serve us two and half weeks' notice on the show! I KNOW! So ignore the trailer. Stupid old trailer. We're running until August 7th now, NOT the end of September. ALLEZ therefore! VITE already!

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There is a slim chance after the 7th that we'll be running the show part-time rather than killing the old girl off entirely but you know, who knows? I hope she lives of course, because this job has been a life-saver: it was there to take care of me from the moment I came out of hospital to a life of homelessness and burnt goods back in March 2009, and it paid for that flat-share with Mossad, and the pool and sauna that helped me catch my breath while I fell in love.

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And it's been my creative focus for over a year now, something I've been able to work upon, and within, alongside people whose company over a complimentary bottle of whatever's-nearest, in a car park full of chairs come dusk, cannot be matched. And it's offered us complete artistic freedom (and no artistic control, but that's the deal in any system, isn't it, freedom or control... but now I think of it that's probably why I made this trailer, to snatch a little measure of control). But most importantly, it is quite simply a very exciting show and not enough people have seen it. No I'll be gutted if she gets killed off. Chugging away there... Well I sent an invitation to Terry Gilliam yesterday anyway. Priorities, exactly.

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ReTweet @antimega "It's the London Dungeon for cultured adults. That's not a bad thing." I liked that.

Hey Nick... NICK! (Just catching up)

(originally posted on myspace here)


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How are you finding it over there?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Always Be Closing

(originally posted on myspace here)

There is a cabaret tonight at Shunt, starting at 6. You are all invited. Only Shunt is now at Bermondsey Street. All of it. So if you're lucky you might even be able to pick up a cheap chair. They're good, I've bought two, carried them off like a bailiff following the father's downfall in a Perrault. In other fairy-tale news: that small door on Joiner Street leads nowhere now, because of course the Lounge beneath London Bridge has - as I may have hinted at - after months of happy and open communication between all parties keen to prove the viable compatibility of artistic and commercial concerns, been suddenly thrown out on its arse by a shower of useless pricks.

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No news is good news, and that's the news. I'm not really sure even now, some three or four weeks after its last night, how much I'm allowed to say or what the plan is, which is a bit why this blog - in which the Lounge featured so centrally - has been so quiet recently... that and just the abominable anger and sadness of how's it all transpired. Anyway here, belatedly, are some stills from that last night, the 26th of June:

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Of course we'd already had a last night back in November, with the place stripped and old changing-rooms re-revealed, and the recognition that this wasn't just the Lounge we were saying goodbye to, but the spaces of "Tropicana" and "Amalto Saltone", and that was a nice night with seeing old friends and looking ahead and we knew where we stood. This night was different, of course.

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(I don't know what's going on here, but four hours later there was an egg and spoon race.) 

And naturally the Shard asked Shunt to "leave the place as they found it", but while we're not short of volunteers, none were found willing to rip out the toilets, the plumbing and the electricity, replant the sawn-off steel or smear shit back onto the walls, so sorry about that.

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Two nights ago someone called Hilary came to see "Money". She had programmed what turned out to be the Lounge's penultimate week, and had hung from piercings in her shoulder while singing Verdi, something she can only do once a month but that's not the point, the point is on Friday she lit up as she told me something I had found for myself whenever I came to put on work at the Lounge, but have probably never acknowledged here: that there was nowhere as helpful, as generous, as responsible, as unquestioningly encouraging or as just plain big and playable-in as those vaults, let alone for free.

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Hillary told me she had made exactly what she wanted to make there. And everyone had come, and nobody known what to expect. (And then I walked home with a chair on my head.) So all I'm saying is, when I would describe the Lounge in terms of a mini-Edinburgh-Fringe reprogrammed weekly, impressive as that sounds, I actually did it an enormous disservice: it was far easier than that. Art got made there even by accident. Not good art necessarily, of course not, but how are you going to know until you put it in front of strangers?

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And there was no flyering, no feedback forms, no mentoring schemes, nothing except anything you wanted. Half a panzer coming through a wall? George would build it. A live seven-foot wide video link to New York above the bar, or the running of a fake lift for your own promenade? Andrea would rig it up and get two volunteers to stand either side with a cue sheet and pneumatic forklift. And on and on. That was the Lounge. Something like one hundred people on that payroll, three of them paid for by the Arts Council. No really, just three. And now what? The Foundry gone this past month too. And East 10. But it's the Eighties Revival, non? "Always be closing."

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"Oh well, it keeps you honest!" said an old acquaintance. God I hate poets. Okay then, back to the ghetto. And while fifty per cent of the world's cranes stand idle in Dubai, the Great Work of transforming London from a temperamental network of human-scale cultures into a collection of incredibly large, fucking stupid objects best viewed from twenty storeys high proudly changes up a gear.

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P.S. With not quite the numb pang that accompanies the deleting of a dead friend's number from your phone, I have removed the Lounge's video from my homepage and placed it below. It's more of an advert than a tribute I know, but what are you going to do? Oh yeah, you're going to come to the cabaret! Tonight, quick! Here.

The Shunt Lounge

Saturday, 17 July 2010

ZAC GOLDSMITH SAYS "WATCH IT"

So let's watch it. It's good. I mean, it's an interesting tactic (or "zactic") he employs here, I have to say. But I think - it's early days I know - but I THINK this interview will DEFINITELY provoke the immediate cessation of all public interest in Channel 4's admittedly small scoop about his election expenses. I mean, I for one certainly can't see anyone paying the slightest attention to this story NOW:

I suppose another route Goldsmith COULD have gone down would have been simply to answer the questions put to him WITHOUT prefacing this explanation with a six-and-a-half-minute tirade of injured, bawling bumdrool. I suppose he MIGHT have, say, made some attempt to win over the undecided by toning down the contemptuous, leather-lipped, head-prefect schtick a tad. Or left out the threats. But all this is academic now: Zac Goldsmith went on Channel 4 News last night and he silenced the critics. Not that there were any critics of course. Because he totally diverted attention away from the story with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of being a witless, nightmarishly overpriviliged bubblenaut, obviously. Smooth.

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"Sarcasm." Videogum

(I did try to find an image of Zac's win to illustrate this - you know, the one with his bang-haired, pink brother/campaign-manager standing wild-eyed beside him like Mole out of "Windy City Heat" but all Google would feed me were reams of this Ayn Rand, next-year's-model shit. Poor Zac's brother/campaign-manager.)

Friday, 16 July 2010

"they don't sing from the monty python creation like sometimes the Jewish religion?" "Close."

(originally posted on myspace here)


You know the "transcribe audio" feature on youtube - what's that? You don't? Oh well I'm not entirely sure of the technology involved and obviously it's in its infancy but basically what it means is, say you want to watch a comedy clip only you're deaf, what you can now do is read everything being said at the bottom of the screen as though transcribed - and here's the really clever bit - by someone who is also deaf. I guess it's a feature reserved only for really really special clips like the Abraham sketch that I wrote. As follows. Ahem:

Premise -
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Counter-Premise -
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Twist -
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Allotted Anachronism -
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Flourish -
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Punchline -
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The Prestige -
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- TextBOOKas more like! Nice work "transcribe audio" feature!

Anyway the full sketch is here (it's the little red cc button you're looking out for - I'd put the proper corresponding lines up myself only I really haven't the first bankable idea what any of these correspond to EVEN WHILE WATCHING IT.) All of which is a very roundabout way of saying firstly sorry for not alerting you sooner to the airing on Tuesday of the fourth Series of "That Mitchell and Webb Look" (still viewable to the British public here and boasting the Caesar sketch I saw recorded at Pinewood here) and secondly of giving you, I hope, a glimpse into the lightless, hunched one-man orgy of sifting through youtube for self-nuggets which the anticipation of such a screening has provoked. (Are one-man orgies the saddest of all orgies? Or the sanest? Robert?)