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thecultofnick

It's something to think about...

Today I watched the awesome comedic force that is Simon Munnery. He was great but oddly I don't think the audience really dug him as much as they usually do at Glastonbury. This annoyed me immensely. At one point he seemed to stall and look distantly into the crowd and we asked for him to do his Sherlock Holmes routine, which he did and it was brilliant. But still the audience didn't seem to quite get into it. I ended up feeling like I did with Stewart Lee back here.



The above is a bit of Simon Munnery which was broadcast recently on the really quite good ITV comedy cuts show. Below is a clip from his show Attention Scum which went out in 2001.



And finally here's a clip of him doing 'the security guard' as a bit of stand up.



While I'm here I'm eating like a pig. Stuffing my face with doughnuts and junk food. It's not good. I can almost feel myself fattening up by the minute.

After spending most of the day at the comedy tent me and the lady trudged back to our tent, it took us over an hour to get there. While we trudged through the brutal 6-inch-deep mud I had a moment when I thought to myself: "why the f#ck am I doing this?". I instantly felt a bit odd about thinking it. I'd had a good long solid day of entertainment. It's just that the conditions become a bit of a chore and as my lady put it, "walking back is such a bore". Hopefully tomorrow will be a slightly better day. I only had that "moment of clarity" for a second but it's not a good thing to think after an otherwise good day.

NM

Ukko the Dwarf has had enough of waiting

Bloody hell, Bjork was good:



I can't pretend I'm a massive fan, I think I've got her first album somewhere. Might have taped the second one off a mate and lost it since then. My girlfriend insisted upon us going to see her. I didn't like the idea at first but she ramped it up towards the end of the show and totally blew me away.

The rest of the day has been pretty relaxed, we've bumbled about watching different people do stuff. I can't pretend to remember the names of the bands we've seen. I often muse to myself that music pretty much died in and around 1974 so the various indie bands we've watched, although good, totally escape me.

For example, today we sat in one of the Cafes and watched a bloke bust out a few tunes on his guitar. He was ace but I've no idea who he was. He had a couple of fingers missing at the end on one hand. Didn't stop him being a great guitarist. That's the joy of Glastonbury, you wander around and catch some of the best acts in the world doing their thing. Brilliant.

One thing I am very excited about though are the little portable seats we've been using all day. £6 each, bought 'em at a service station on the way down. They're the best purchase I've made in months. In the past I've watched people sat in these seats and thought, "pah, that's not in the true spirit of things is it?". Well this time round I'm looking at people who are thinking that and laughing inside! The muddy fools, look at them and look at me, I ask you who is the King?

Another source of mirth is the fact that I keep finding money on the floor. Not coppers, 50ps and £2 coins. Madness.

NM

Next time I'll buy some before I get here.

I've just finished doing a swift update for The Bay on my Glastonbury Festival experience. I told them that there hasn't been much rain so far and that everything here was "very exciting". I think I made sense but I've been stacking back a few cheeky pear ciders. I also had a very interesting phone call which may have huge ramifications for me later on in the year. If it does I'll try and remember to link back to this page so you can suss out what I'm on about.

The actual music and stuff doesn't start until tomorrow but a lot of the stalls have opened up already. Me and my friends are wandering round, we've met up with some of the people we know in here and are getting used to our surroundings. Obviously at some point it's going to really f#cking rain. I've never been to a Glastonbury where it didn't. In fact it always amuses me when people go: "oh, didn't it not rain once a few years ago?". Genius, the fact it once didn't rain is a testament to the fact that in truth it always rains here and it's always muddy. This one though is supposed to be a real corker of a rain bucket that's on the way. It's interesting that, perhaps as a consequence, all the 'Greenies' are banging on about "climate chaos" rather than "global warming". Either way, according to their logic, it's all got to be our fault. We're always the most significant factor in the universe.

As I said in my previous entry, I can't help but feel a little bit suspicious of all this environmentalism stuff. I once heard the theory that it's like a form of Catholic guilt, or original sin. It plays on the idea that you should feel bad or guilty about being alive. "Man made global warming" is yet another excuse for sanctimonious people to throw their hands up into the air and say; "oh, look how immoral and selfish everyone is, we're all going to hell". It also provides an excuse for people to tell other people what to do and there's nothing some humans like more than bossing each other about, particularly if they can feel morally smug afterwards.

It smells like a rat to me.

I'm not saying the planet's not getting hotter. I am allowing for the possibility that this change is not actually our fault. I'm not able to debate a scientist point for point on the issue but I do know that this is an area where there is a debate. I'm also aware that it's a debate that the Government are keen to stifle. There were attempts in Parliament to actually ban a programme that put forward the counter argument. Click here to go to a great article in the Telegraph where you can see the "debate" in action as scientists who disagree are threatened and isolated because of their conclusions.

I am suspicious of any political movement where the end result is more taxes and tighter Government controls on how we live our lives. I'm suspicious of anyone who thinks they're saving the world. I'm suspicious of all politicians, including Al Gore. I'm suspicious of debates where threats are made by one side to the other.

In short, from now on I'm going to buy a big 4x4 and fly everywhere by plane. I'm not sure this is the effect Glastonbury were looking for when they decided to make the environment their main political thrust.

NM

Scrotar master

We arrive in Glastonbury pretty much as planned. Meeting people on the way in and using my "Tom Tom" to negotiate our way through the odd little "A" roads you need to drive down if you want to go to the UK's biggest music festival.

On the way me and my girlfriend record what will eventually form the basis of Podcast II. I have big hopes for the Podcast. I think one day it will be bigger than this blog. Not today though. It's not even reached triple figures yet.

I've been going to The Glastonbury Festival for years. I've watched it go from a pretty big festival to the ridiculously huge monstrosity that it is now. The first one I went to was in 1998, I think. Almost ten years ago. I watched Blur and Primal Scream and had my jeans stolen in the middle of the night. They of course included my money and train ticket and mobile phone and so forth. I was gutted.

I remember really clearly walking along in my underpants looking for my trousers mentioning it to some girls who were frankly uninterested:

"I've lost my jeans, they're the only pair I had, someones stolen them. Have you seen them anywhere?"

"No, no we haven't," said one. As another chimed in with, "oh well, never mind eh?".

That summed it up for me. It wasn't their problem. Therefore it wasn't a problem.

I think festivals engender this attitude. People don't seem too concerned with each other and would happily trample over them if it meant getting to see their favourite band in time. There's so many drugs flying round that a certain selfish ethic is inevitable I guess.

The organisers of The Glastonbury Festival attempt to counterbalance this with an ethical dimension to what they do, specifically in the form this year of an environmental campaign. I'm not a big fan of environmentalism. Any problem where the solution is more taxes always makes me a little suspicious.

Still, it's only the first day. We've so far not had any rain and my tent is set up. I can't see any evidence of an internet place on site so this update has been entirely done on my phone. I guess the blog will end up being severely out of date over the next few days. Ruined. Perhaps if I neglect it for long enough the podcast will overtake it anyway?

NM

Bloody hell, that went well. Really well. Fingers crossed.

This caught my attention. It's a bit of Ricky Gervais on Radio 4 picking his favourite tunes. The clip I've linked to there is where he chooses a Neil Young tune. That's surely a good thing. Here's a list of things which, if you like them, makes me think well of you as a person:

Winnie The Pooh.

Captain Beefheart.

Syd Barrett.

Stewart Lee.

My old talkshow on Hallam FM, particularly if you know the names of the VIP callers.

Bagpuss, particularly if you've got a favourite episode.

Chris Morris and to a lesser extent Steve Coogan, simply because everyone likes Alan Partridge.

Blackadder.

Neil Young.

Nick Drake.

Guliver's Travels.

George Orwell.

The Beatles, I mean they've got to really f#cking love them. Not just think they're ok. Everyone thinks they're ok.

It's not an exhustive list but you get the idea. It's odd but I really do like people without question if they drop the right stuff into conversation. I'm quite simplistic in that respect.

NM

iChing in the itching.

Doing a rubbish gig is an odd feeling. I sat there afterwards getting a huge rush of the red face, pouring sweat out of every hole, the following thoughts running through my mind:

"You wasted everybody's time there. Ruined the atmosphere. What arrogance you have, thinking you could ever be a comedian. You're not funny. You're just deluded. What a stupid fat fool you are".

My comedy friend David said I should just put it behind me, not to worry about it. My girlfriend said I wasn't that bad, I'd just paused too long before I went into the Jamie Oliver material so got gonged off before I got to it*. There was a feeling as we disected the night later on that the first two acts were so obviously acomplished that it'd put pressure on the card holders to get rid of someone. That had been me. To be fair there were some other acts there who usually Beat The Frog but failed to do so. It all feels like "loser talk" though. I was remined of this entry over here.

David's right, I should just try and put it behind me but I only managed 2 minutes and boom I was offstage. It's a kick in the teeth after my 4 minute stormer. I felt like I was making good progress. Yak. B#llcoks. C#nt.

I have a very important meeting tomorrow. Hopefully it'll go a lot better than my comedy did.

NM

*Gonged off? I do most of my gigs at "Gong Shows" where you get as much time as the audience are will put up with. Three people are given cards; they hold 'em up when they're bored. If all three cards go up you're taken off the stage.

(Sunday) Good god make the Phoenix rise, please god make the phoenix rise.

I've been practicing my comedy today. I'm going to try and add a bit of "umph" to it this time. Not flounder about onstage so much. I've decided to start with the following line:

"Later on I'm going to be talking to you about Marvin Gaye and his song sexual healing...

Frowned upon nowadays in most NHS hospitals...

Pity, coz it used to work...

It's political correctness gone mad.

Still Marvin comes from a more innocent time, back in the days when Gay meant homosexual

And Marvin wasn't a name to be ashamed of."

I think that'll get a laugh, it's a line I've used before on the radio. Got a nice twist to it. I'm not sure though, I don't really think Marvin is a name to be ashamed of. It's a bit like the situation with the fat girl who heckled me. After that I'm going to go into my drugs material and then go into the Jamie Oliver stuff. I'm really hopeful that this time I'll finally Beat That F#cking Frog!*

I'm slightly worried though that this time I'm not nervous, at all. The last time I wasn't nervous at all, this happened: I was booed offstage in a merciless manner. I massive wave of nerves hit me full on in the face as soon as I went onstage. The whole thing c#cked up really, really, badly. But there's nothing I can do. I can't make myself nervous. I can only prepare and hope it goes well.

Actually, I just felt a twinge of nerves then. That's good.

I think.

In other news I'm getting a few emails through about my brilliant podcast. It's officially brilliant and has listeners. I'll shout about it even more when we hit the treble figures mark. DOWNLOAD IT HERE.

NM

*It seems silly to keep explaining this but this blog gets two or three new readers each day so here goes:

I do most of my gigs at "Gong Shows" where you get as much time as the audience are willing to put up with. Three people in the audience are given cards; they hold 'em up when they're bored. If all three cards go up you're taken off the stage. Although this sounds harsh I think it's a pretty good way to learn and I'm eternally grateful to the people who organise them, particularly the excellent one at Beat The Frog. Wanna see me failing? Here's the link to the YouTube video: CLICK HERE.

(Saturday) Please make sure you ALWAYS log out of ANY accounts you have been using.

I spent most of the day today at Scorton Country Fayre with The Bay broadcasting live. Constantly ducking the temptation to call it "Scrot#m C#nty" Fayre I kept remembering that classic scene from Alan Partridge where he lectures them about BBC comissioning policy. Unlike Alan though, I had a really good time.

Of all the different things which the people of Scorton chose to exhibit there was one thing which really caught my eye, Dog Carting. I'd never seen anything like this in my life. Totally bizzare. I took a few pictures and some video but until I can upload them I'll just have to describe it. Imagine a horse and cart. Now miniturise the cart and put a dog there to pull it instead. Put some bells and fruit and stuff in the cart and you've got it. Madness.

It was such an oddly surreal sight.

I grabbed one of the people and did an interview with him on air. He told me that it's a practice which has a long history in Britain but it was made illegal on the roads some time ago so now it's just a hobby here. However, over in Sweeden dog carting is still used by the dairy farms where they're used to carry milk urns. Apparently the dogs collect the urns off the farmer when they're full, pull them down to the dairy. Wait for the empty milk urns and then carry them back to the farmer. All done without human supervision. Brilliant!

Other than that there were various other things to watch such as the motorcycle stunt group, The Purple Helmets and the various old fashioned classic tractors that were there. The steam powered tractors there were amazing.

At one point I got into a conversation with a farmer about some of the 1940's range. It went like this:

"Ahh, now, look at that piece of kit. Nice that isn't it?"

"Yeah," I replied.

"You could still work in that couldn't you?"

I relaised he thought I was a farmer person as well. I was wearing my wellies and a green coat. It was a reasonable assumption I suppose. Apart from my silky smooth, never done and honest days work in his life, hands. So I drew in a deep breath and went "aye".

"See the problem with that Honda 4000 over there see, it's a good worker, until you have any problems with it. Then you're up the creek. You can't just fix it can you?"

"No," I said. Quite excited by my new role as a farmer I decided to try a bit more bluff: "this one here, they don't make 'em like that anymore do they? It's like cars. It's all about money".

"You're right there lad. Look at that. You could put a new engine in there and it wouldn't give you no trouble. None at all".

I marvelled at how quickly I'd become bored of my new life as a farmer, made my excuses and left.

"See you lad," he said as I waved goodbye.

NM

Up on the cellar.

The podcast is a success! It has listeners! Not quite triple figures yet but it's getting there. How exciting. About a quarter of this blog's readers have bothered to download it. If you're one of them make sure you email* me and tell me what you think, or post in the comments section of this blog. If you're not, f#cking get on the case!. CLICK HERE to go to the correct page.

I'm planning on releasing one a month for the next year. Then I'll re-evaluate that schedule and suss out what to do with it next. The next one will be recorded at my stand up gig on Monday. I'm facing a dillema with that though. My stand up set is quite rude and I like the idea of the podcast being reasonably sweary free. Dunno what to do about that.

Today I spent most of my time pressing refresh on the computer screen as I watched the number of listeners increase throughout the day. Other than that I practiced my set for Monday and made this video about my recent trip to Monkey World**:



NM

*Using my new Captainhowarewe@hotmail.co.uk address.

** Looking at that entry I've just remembered, The Monday Dog seems to have died as a regular feature. Ruined. I keep forgetting about it.

Don't let the sun, go up on me.

I've recorded an all singing all dancing podcast. It's amazing. Go and download it now. You'll love it. Seriously, it's ace. I recorded it in my car. It's just under 20 minutes long. Listen to it on the way to (or back from) work. As far as first episodes go this is a triumph. It's got me talking... about stuff. You'll love it. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell everyone you can think of!

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE SITE NOW & MAKE SURE YOU SUBSCRIBE.

I've subscribed myself via iTunes. I'm so excited about listening to it again via my MP3 player I'm almost fit to burst into a big fat soundwave.

My first one got a total of 5 listeners. I think this new one will double that audience. If I can just convince half of the people who read this blog once a week to subscribe to it I'll have an audience of a few hundred. Please go and get it. It's so much easier than reading this blog. I've put original material on it. It's got an amusing anecdote on there. It even features an old radio sketch at one point.

Listen, this thing is the first pebble I'm casting into the podcast pond. I estimate that the ripples will spread out at a rate of two ripples per week. This means that if you get involved now, during the early ripplings. Erm... sorry, I've totally lost that thread.

Just go and get it now.

You'll love it.

And if you don't email me and make the next one even better. I plan to do one, each month, starting from... now.

www.nicholarse.mypodcast.com


NM

Sucking on a cheeky little...

Today I watched an amazing documentary called "Talk To Me"*. I can't find it on the net anywhere but the link to the site about it is here. It was an amazing documentary which was built around over 20 years of answerphone messages collected on the machine of Mark Craig. I can't tell you how brilliant it was because whatever you envisaged as a consequence wouldn't be nearly as good. You should just find it and watch it. I saw it on More 4 but it'll pop up at some point and when you get the chance to see it, do so. You'll thank me for suggesting it to you.

On the other end of the scale we've got "Britain's Got Talent". Now, I'm a fan of Simon Cowell being a c#nt to people in the privacy of a TV studio but it's pretty difficult to watch when you factor in a baying audience. I'm amazed that people are capable of being so cruel. The format of this show is (surprisingly) very similar to that of ever other show that Mr Cowell has ever worked on only this time the participants aren't just singers. They can be fire eaters, jugglers comedians and ventriloquists. Wherever their "talent" lies. The majority of them are sh#t.

There was one poor little lad who came along with a portable CD player intending to sing along to the music which only he could hear in his ears. Inevitably this tactic didn't work. The kid was booed by the audience and then slagged off by the judges. He can't have been older than his late teens. I felt really sorry for him. I believe everyone connected with the programme should feel very ashamed of themselves. Why didn't someone at some point step in and say, "you're act's not good enough for the live show, sorry".

Poor lad was close to tears.

Nasty, horrible television. I switched over after that. Watched a bit of Sky News instead.

NM

*Nothing to do with the piece of sh#t ITV thing which features a late night "shock-jock". Total f#cking sh#t.

(Tuesday) Gabba babba

I can't help but feel a level of cynicism when it comes to any story which receives the level of exposure that has been given to the one concerning to poor family of Madeline McCann. In the UK this story has been posted up everywhere. Some poor family have had their child kidnapped in a foreign country by some dirty pervert. Horrible story, terrible tragedy.

What rubs me up the wrong way is the enormous amount of mainstream media coverage which has been afforded to this unfortunate family. You can't even walk down a high street in the UK without being confronted with a poster of the unfortunate child glaring into your eyes asking if you've seen her anywhere. Now, let me repeat the facts of this case; abducted abroad, covered extensively by the national media. It's unlikely she'll be found in Market Street, Lancaster or nearby Barnsley Market. I'm not questioning the intentions of the people who have stuck these posters up, they're doing the right thing. I am confused by the disproportionate amount of coverage this one case is getting.

I remember being part of a 'breakfast show training weekend' where the media group I worked for at the time sent in some of the UK's top consultants to help us in our preparation for radio shows. One bloke in particular made a big impression on me. He did a presentation where he talked about primary news providers; people who dictate the news agenda.

He also carried out the following exercise:

1) Take four or five national newspapers.

2) Assign each of these newspapers a sheet of A4 paper.

3) Write out the first ten stories of the paper, onto the A4 sheet, in order going from the front page inwards. Be brief, you should encapsulate the story in no more than three or four words. So a story about a dog attack in Chigwell involving an old age pensioner will be written up as "DANGEROUS DOGS".

4) This will leave you with what looks like a top ten countdown of the big topics for that particular paper.

5) Repeat step "3" with all the papers and then compile your lists into a grand chart. This is your "zeitgeist list". There are many uses for it. One of them is that it allows you to predict which stories will come up in the mainstream media with about 80% accuracy.

The bloke who explained it to us then pointed towards a story which was at the bottom of the "chart" about dangerous dogs. "That'll be in the top slot soon," he said, "it's a new entry and is climbing fast". I remember thinking that he was obviously a bit of a nutter, until a few weeks later his prediction turned out to be correct. Be warned here, I'm not suggesting that the dangerous dog attacks which were front page news at that time were false, I'm just saying that those stories were given unusual prominence in those weeks.

And that's the grind.

The Madeline McCann story isn't fiction, it's an awful fact. It has annoyed me to hear the inevitable "backlash" against it as various 'pundits' have turned against the family. One pr#ck I heard recently even decided it was the fault of the parents? Such idiocy doesn't bear retort. However, the thing which is odd for me about it is the prominence it has been given by the national news media. Kids go missing all the time. It's an awful, awful, thing. But, not all of them get this level of media attention. What's the difference here? I suggest that it was in the interest of one of these primary news providers, i.e; The Government.

Today the Government announced new plans to offer chemical castration for pedophiles as well as new laws concerning your right to know if a new boyfriend of yours is one. The coverage afforded to this unfortunate case now seems like nothing more than a PR campaign orchestrated in support of these plans which were obviously drawn up way in advance of the family's loss. As soon as the plans were announced I noticed the McCann story started it's inevitable decline in the "News Charts". Almost exactly on cue. The parents have been advised to "take a break" to grieve.

Believe it or not, I'm not a conspiracy theorist these days. I subscribe to the c#ck up theory of history a lot more than I used to but, that said, I still think the bloke who showed us all how to make up a "zeitgeist list" back in 2001 was nobody's fool. People in power can control and set the news agenda. There's no doubt about it.

I hope the family find her alive and well.

NM

So you think that you can eat up time without me noticing?

I went tonight to the 4th Birthday Party of Beat The Frog. This night is becoming my new obsession. It reminds me of the much missed Zumeba in that you have no way of predicting what it's going to be like, night to night. Tonight though was a particularly special night in that the comedians facing the frog* were all professional acts! I've never seen the venue so packed and the heat of the preceeding day made for a thick and sweaty atmosphere. There was an odd tension in the room before the night began, something which wasn't helped by my girlfriend getting a drink spilt on her and being "f#cking livid" as a consequence.

I think the atmosphere was partly due to the fact that it was slowly dawning on people what these professional acts had put themselves forward for; potential public humiliation and unprofessional criticism. It was odd to realise that these randomly selected audience members had the ability to do damage, albeit slight, to the careers of established acts such as: John Warburton, Sean Moran, Toby Hadoke, Mike Wilkinson, Jonathan Mayor, Owen Rankin and Jason Cook. On paper it had seemed like great fun but, for a moment, it suddenly seemed like a really cruel idea.

The first act John Warburton came on and stormed it. He reminded me a little of Toby Foster in his style and I really enjoyed his set. He had a very cavalier attitude towards the idea of the cards, "go on, stick a few up!". His taunts were un-rewarded and not a single card went up. Then the second act came on and, quite early on, up went a few cards. I was shocked, it hadn't occured to me that any of these guys would get the boot, but as Sean Moran ploughed through his not unamusing set it became clear that parts of the crowd wanted blood! By no means was his act not working but suddenly, up went the final card and off he was frogged!

I yelped in surprise. The compare looked a little awkward as he explained that four minutes ten seconds was a respectable score and that "this kind of thing can happen". Sean's set wasn't bad. He didn't storm it in the same way that John Warburton had but, on any other night, there's no way he would have been carded off. It put a strange edge onto the rest of the proceedings as I sat there worried that I might not get to see full sets from my two personal favourites; Toby Hadoke and Johnathon Mayor. As it happened there were no further cardings but it was a close call with some of them. I personally believe the card holders were just getting a little over excited.

Toby Hadoke was great fun to watch. He's a genuinely experimental comic who did a turn as his character "Diary Of A Posh Bloke". It had some good lines in it and would go well as a fully realised sketch. I'd like to see more of Toby's stuff. He's done a whole thing about Doctor Who which will be available via the BBC soon*. I'm not sure Toby is the funniest act I've seen in the past few years but I do think he's one of the ones I'd most want to see do a full show.

Mike Wilkinson is someone I've not seen before. He was doing a 'hilarious wacky comedy character' called Bobby Vertigo. My first thought when I saw him was something along the lines of "what the f#ck, card 'im off". As it turned out he was really good. The problem with a character like Bobby Vertigo is that I've seen that sort of thing done before, but badly. In this instance it was done really well. He added to the show's overall caberet feel.

Jonathan Mayor then walked on stage, dressed in full, splendid drag. He preened at the audience a little, pouted and said; "Aren't I gorgeous?". Then to the accompanyment of some music he pounced on the compare Dan Nightingale and snogged him before leaving the venue. Brilliant. It annoyed me a little to have know-all blokes in the audience shouting out "stick to the script" and so forth, implying that the whole thing was stage managed. It did feel a little like that was the case but why comment on it? Arrgh! Bloody tough guy know it all blokes. They're the root of some (almost all) evil.

Following that nonsense Owen Rankin did some high energy material about being a breakdancer. He was great. It was exciting to see him break character half way through his set and his beatboxing bit was ace. Anyone who uses a zip as a substitute for a record scratch is alright by me. I was new to his material and would have liked to have seen more.

This was one of the great things about the night; you were getting glimpses of acts who clearly all had much more to offer. It's more exciting than watching someone who has spent everything they had on you I think.

The final act was Jason Cook. He has an enormous stage presence and reminds me of the class clown from school who would often get into trouble for essentially very minor things. He plays up the role of practical joker onstage and had some great material about the AQA mobile phone service. I've seen him perform before and found him irritating, this was not the case tonight. He's matured a bit since then and has much more control over the audience. He owned the gig and rightly won the compettition. Although I'd have just as happily have seen it go to John Warburton.

The headliner was, in my opinion quite an eclectic act, called Seymour Mace. It was the perfect choice given the odd nature of the night overall. He rounded off one of the best comedy nights I've been to this year, by a long shot.

Happy 4th Birthday Beat The Frog! Go and watch it for yourself if you're anywhere near Manchester. Monday night, free entry.

PICTURES HERE, WITH A SLIGHTLY LESS INDEPTH REVIEW, ON OFFICIAL SITE.

NM

*It's a gong night. You're onstage for five minutes but if the audience doesn't like you you're removed from stage early. Three audience memebers are given cards and in the event that all three get held up, you're off!

**Beware, on occasion, this page I'm linking to here has given me a big nasty scrolling pop up thing which made the page impossible to read.

(Sunday) Hey hey we're the...

One of my biggest regrets is that somewhere in my pile of old minidisks I've got an interview I recorded with the late Bob Monkhouse while I was at Youth FM back in the year 2000. In it I played the role of The Grim Reaper interviewing Bob Monkhouse about his death. He did the interview like the true professional he was, cracking jokes and being brilliant. I'd read his autobiography and was a genuine fan of the man. What struck me about his book was the candid and practical outlook he had regarding his own eventual demise. I took a risk and asked him if he'd do the interview with me playing the role of The Grim Reaper and he was more than up for it.

When I finished the interview I remember putting it on a mini disc and thinking I'll put that somewhere safe. And I did. So safe that I think I've lost it. All that I have of it now is a memory. Probably for the best, these things never sound as good in real life as they do in your mind.

When he did die I was obviously upset and couldn't bear the idea of listening to it back so never looked for the mini disc. Now I have a big pile of them infront of me and quite a lot of free time on my hands so I'm going to start the mammoth task of looking for it. If I find it I'll send it on to his widow. I don't intend to re-use it without anyone's permission first.

Oddly enough as I start this task of looking for an old tape where Bob Monkhouse talks amusingly about his own eventual death this fantastic advert was being made in his name. It's great to see him back and I would like to re-enforce the message that from what little I knew of him this sort of advert is something he would surely have approved of.

After the interview I got him to sign my copy of his autobiography and here's what he wrote:

"For my friend Nick Margerrison with admiration - MY LIFE IS IN YOUR HANDS! Bob Monkhouse 18.3.00"

NM

(Saturday) Literary Terms, The Concise Oxford English Dictionary of

I'm really enjoying doing my weekend shows on The Bay. I've made another video about a bit of today's show where I broadcast what some people may consider to be "racist" viewpoints. It's a bit I'm intending to use in my stand up on the Monday after this one coming. I want to get the tension in the room going, close to the sort of thing I wrote about here. It'll be interesting to see how it works in a live context. I think it went quite well as a bit of radio. It makes the point well enough I think.



Direct link here
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I took a very upbeat phone call off my mate Dave Bethell recently who had discovered my videos on YouTube. He particularly liked the "What happens when you die" video. I like the fact that YouTube exists. It's a great site and I'm spending more and more time on it these days. The next step will surely be a YouTube site which streams the videos and allows you to watch half an hour or so without having to shift your fat a#se at all. We live in hope.

NM

Probably a mistake

The Atkins diet is working. I'm losing weight! In the past two weeks I've lost about half a stone. On the flip side I'm sweating like an ant who's just noticed a Giant Anteater over its shoulder*. I also have bad breath and feel unusually lethargic**. On the postitive I'm not hungry all the time and if I do feel hungry I just eat food. That's it. So long as it's not carbohydrate or sugary I can eat when I want and as much as I want. Great.

The only problem is that this weather is not the sort you want when you're indulging in a diet which actually promotes sweating. Really I'd rather it was freezing cold. That's my flat policy on weather: Cold is good, hot is bad. I think it might be something to do with my hayfever, if not it's got to be connected with the fact that I burn easily or I've never been a very physcial person. A good example of this would be frisbee. What the f#ck is the point in frisbee? You throw it to someone and they catch it. Brilliant. How is that fun?

I believe frisbee is only popular because it makes a good scene setter in films. This means it often features in American films which want to show the summer and young people playing in the park. Hence this pointless game gets promoted in major films every year and people play it without actually thinking it through. No one has ever really enjoyed a game of frisbee. I don't believe anyone wakes up in the morning and goes: "Yes! I can't wait to meet Dave and the lads, we're playing a game of frisbee!". People just think it's the sort of thing they ought to play because it's sunny and they're going to the park with a couple of friends. And that's what people do...

Furthermore, I bet you can think of at least someone who, while they sit sweating in the park cursing the healthy young people, has been hit on the back of the head with a frisbee. I know I can.

NM

*: like Channel 4 on the phone to Ofcom; like a fly watching Spiderman 3; like a big fat bloke in a sauna; like Salman Rushdie in a Mosque; like that bloke in that advert for a loan will when he reads the small print; like a sweat gland. Etc.

** I'd shaken this trait off recently with my jogging in the morning and so forth but it's back with avengance recently. Low sugar and carb levels you see. That and lazyness.

(Thursday) And the fires and embers burn in silence... I ain't gonna lie.

I'm sat tidying up my phone, deleting video and pictures. Generally f#rting about. Open up my calendar, remove the reminders I put there a bit ago which tell me I should be drinking more water. Oops, up pops a little message; "delete all reminders from phone?". "How useful," I think to myself. I can get rid of these reminders that pop up every few hours. Great. I press yes. As I press yes I realise what I've done. I've deleted EVERY SINGLE reminder on my phone. All of them. Every single one! Sh#tbags.

I now have no idea when anyone's birthday is. When any of the meetings I've arranged are taking place or when my next comedy gigs are. It'll take me ages to work it all out and I'm bound to forget some of it. B#llocks.

I'm currently chewing over my podcast ideas. What should I put in it? Should I focus on a specific subject or just rattle on about stuff? Should it be unique content or should I replicate things which I've done here? What should the relationship between this blog and the podcast be? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. I think the first one will feature me and my girlfriend talking b#llocks for a bit and a bit of audio with me doing my "racist stuff" on The Bay recently. My podcast will be located here. Currently there's just a bit of audio with me talking and saying pretty much f#ck all so don't bother listening to it yet.

NM

Of course there's nothing left... (wednesday)

Ivan Brackenbury

At pretty much the last minute I realised that it was possible for me to get over to Sheffield's Takapuna Bar and go and watch Ivan Brackenbury. Now, I've been friends with Tom Binns for years and as a result it's hard to be impartial but... f#cking hell it was good! I mean, really, seriously, great. I don't know that I've ever seen an act like it. He stormed it. Amazing. If you get the chance, go and see him live. I can't explain how good it was. The YouTube videos give you an idea but they're not a patch on being in the same room as Ivan bumbles his way through his show.

It was good to see some of the people who were there as well. Hallam FM's Big John and the new presenter Ollie. Also, Galaxy 105's Hirsty all turned out to watch the show. Hirsty's an amusing chap and I've not seen him for a while. He's such a radio fan it's amazing. He knows all the names of almost all the presenters who have ever worked in radio. He's what's known as a bona fide radio anorak. It's hard not to respect that sort of commitment to the craft.

Other stuff

I've written a post on my blogs reviewed site which you may like to read. Furthermore, if you would like to submit your blog for a review pop a comment onto the site.

NM

Uncle Chuck

Portrait of The Nicholarse in a Cafe.

I'm reading a newspaper and sipping on a coffee. I always feel stupid buying coffee in a cafe as it's something I'm more than capable of making for myself at home for a fraction of the price. The newspaper I'm reading while I sit here waiting for my friend is The Independant. It seems to think independant thought is unquestionable acceptance of leftwing ideology. One day I'll hate it but for the moment it's the best paper out there. It's got a good name and it's got some insteresting stories in. I think this is because it's aimed squarely at my "demographic". I'm not sure I like being part of a demographic.

One of the articles is about the possibility that the pop band 'blur' will be re-forming soon. It goes on to point out, rather tersely, that the band "never actually split up" as a matter of fact. As I read that they're meeting to record a new album, possibly, I'm excited because 'blur' are the Arctic Monkeys of my generation. I saw them play live at Glastonbury almost a decade ago and they were awesome. It's a moment I now know I'll carry to my grave. I feel both excited and then very old as I read the story. It allows me to understand how previous generations must have felt as they watched The Rolling Stones picking up knighthoods, or U2 morph into tw#ts.

Another article is about a study in Brighton which has revealed a rise in violent crime that operates in tandem with the full moon. The Police are now putting on extra staff according to the lunar cycle. I'm reminded of the fact that on the old phone in show we always experienced more calls whenever there was a full moon. The callers were always more excitable as well. Brighton police force want a University to carry out a proper study into the reasons why the moon makes such a difference. Having thought about it before I come to the obvious conclusion that it's because there's a big f#cking light in the sky. Obviously you're going to have more people awake and able to do stuff. That's surely common sense?*

The Cafe is starting to fill up with young people. I've already been made to feel old and tutting at a newspaper because the world lacks common sense isn't helping. I ask the lady if there's a toilet I can use. "There's only one", she replies, "it's over there". I pop over and discover that it's a disabled toilet. There are no others so I pop in and do my business. "Phew", I gasp to myself, "the atkins diet ain't doin me any favours there". Pure meaty goodness. I'm done and I pull the chain.

WHOOOPPP!
WHOOOOPP!!
WHOOPPP!!!

"F#ck", goes my mind, "I've set off a fire alarm or something". The toilet won't flush and the worst possible thing has happened as I stand next to the evidence. "Sh#tty b#llbags", I say out loud. I'm busy trying to compose myself wh-

WHOOOPPP!
WHOOOOPP!!
WHOOPPP!!!

"F#ck", goes my mind, "does that really need to be so loud?". I can hear someone scrabbling at the door. They're unlocking it to see what the emergency is. I walk over to the other corner of the spacious toilet room as if I'm nothing to do with i-

WHOOOPPP!
The woman who served me the coffee
WHOOOOPP!!
comes in with a big smile on her face and starts moving her mouth at me.
WHOOPPP!!!

--the alarm off by accident? I'm not sure how you turn it off," she finishes saying with a giggle. "That grin'll be upside down when you smell 'the coffee' in a moment luv," my evil brain thinks to itself as my good brain takes care of the talking; "Y-

WHOOOPPP!
-es I think I have" I say to myself as she looks at me with
WHOOOOPP!!
probably the same expression as the one I greeted her with.
WHOOPPP!!!

I step outside the smelly toilet and to my horror I realise that the alarm is as loud outside as it was inside. Not only that but it's making the lights flash on and off in a red haze. I presume this is the assistance alarm for a disabled person that I've pulled-

WHOOOPPP!
. To say that it's not very discreet is a massive f#cking
WHOOOOPP!!
understatement. All the people in the cafe, all the young people,
WHOOPPP!!!

are all looking at the toilet. At me. There's even some who are coming over to help out! "Righty then, err, I'm off. See you!" I say. As I stride out quite swiftly I can still hear the woman saying "I don't know how to turn it off!". As the alarm kicks in over her voice-

WHOOOPPP!
WHOOOOPP!!
WHOOPPP!!!

NM

*I used to work, very briefly, in a mental hospital. On the nights when there was a full moon they ALWAYS had extra staff on. It's the origin of the phrase lunatic. A "tick" caused by the moon.

and then there were

Beat The Frog took an odd turn tonight. I was with him. He's a nice bloke.

Unlike my girlfriend I really enjoy Beat The Frog. I think she's just reaching the end of her energy levels on a Monday night and has less sympathy for comedians who are occasionally really bad at what they're trying to do. From my point of view I enjoy the excitement of acts who aren't quite sure what they're doing. Or, perhaps more interestingly, why they are doing it.
I like the anarchy element.

Well, there was plenty of that tonight. As I said, I was sitting with a comedian who specialises in "controversial" material. Now, let me lay my cards on the table here; I DON'T THINK I'VE EVER BEEN OFFENDED BY ANYTHING. EVER. Seriously. Some people are surprised by this statement and challenge it by simply not believing me. But, honestly, I find it really hard to engage with the world enough that I can actually be genuinely offended by something. It's not that I don't understand, it's that I don't care*.

I get annoyed by things and experience all the emotions that everyone else in the world does, I just don't get offended by words. That's all.

Anyway, this guy who I'm sat with gets onstage and does some material about concentration camps which incensed the DJ who helps run the event so much that he steps in and plays music over the top of him. "Wha?" says the comedian. "Get off the stage" booms back the voice of the DJ. "Walk!" he commands.

Blimey. Now there's a whole bunch of issues! I didn't know what to make of it and still don't to be honest. The irony is that I have the whole thing on tape but no use for it. It's on my mobile phone as I offered to film it for him. The only bit missing is the final few seconds where he left the stage. I really have no use for it though. I can't YouTube it as that'd be a breach of trust and it doesn't show anyone in a particularly great light. It's just sat there on my phone. It was odd to hear the discussions in the room as they called an interval and people debated with each other what they'd just seen.

Oddly I'm still firm in my conviction that Beat The Frog is my favourite Manchester comedy night. It's so f#cking random you've no idea what's going to go on. This night just adds to its appeal. I feel a little sorry for the bloke who was cut off though, he was getting some really big laughs, I've got them here on my phone!

NM

*B#stardised Homer Simpson quote. Full version: "Just because I don't care doesn't mean to say I don't understand".

(Sunday) Crushing tin cans with your f#cking mind.

Tonight was the night of "King Gong" at The Manchester Comedy Store.

King Gong; the new talent night with the most fearsome repuation of them all!

King Gong; the place where the new acts get frequently heckled and booed offstage!

King Gong; the night where you're lucky to do more than 30 seconds before the gong sounds and you're off the mic, humiliated and broken.


KING (f#cking) GONG!!!


I'd been really sh#tting my pants about this one. As a consequence I was under-rehearsed. Whenever I'm really badly nervous I find I can't face up to the idea of practicing too much because it seems to make me worse. This is a combination of immaturity and laziness. I knew I wasn't going to forget my set but I also felt a little under-prepared as I signed my name onto the sheet of paper which I correctly guessed was also the running order. I put my name down to go on first. Best to get it out of the way. Also, I've noticed that at most gong nights* they always go easy on the first act. The card holders are a little nervous about their roles. It takes a certain ammount of mental strength to hold up that card at first.

The host for the night was Mick Ferry. I've met him a few times via my friend Toby Foster but I doubt that he remembered me. He was a great host and like all the best gong night compares he didn't take the whole thing too seriously. He also didn't over egg the cruelty angle of the whole thing. Also, I was impressed to note that they even had an actual real life gong. Brilliant!

Obviously now I've clocked up a few gigs** I'm starting to recognise some of the other faces, particularly on the Manchester circuit. As a consequence I got talking to some of the other chaps who were waiting to go on. They all swapped stories about how mercilessly the rubbish acts at King Gong are treated. "They make you do the walk of shame out of the venue sometimes" said one of them, as another added a story about someone who only got five seconds into his act before he was gonged off.

All of this made me quite excited. I don't know why but I do sort of enjoy the idea of annoying a room full of people by being rubbish. It's not a good instinct to have. Particularly if it's occasionally your only option.

My name was called out and on I went. Straight in with the three types of laughter "joke". Fell flat on its ar#e. No reaction whatsoever. Previously this has been a banker but now it's floundering about in my set, soon to be dropped if it fails again...

Then I got heckled by a woman in the audience...

Woman in audience: "Get 'im off"

Anonymous bloke: "He's not a stripper luv!"

Woman in audience: "He should take his clothes off, give us all a laugh..."

The crowd laughed politely at this exchange and I stood there in the midst of the laughter a little confused as to what I should do now. Longtime readers will remember that I've got a really bad track record as regards responding to heckles. Having been previously destroyed by the line, "you're sh#t", I wasn't sure if I'd be able to deal with this so early on. This time I decided I was going to try and say something back...

I looked at the lady. She was a little chubby, nothing I'd have normally commented on but given the situation I replied with this piece of devastating wit:

"Mmm, thanks for that, but you know, people in glass houses..."

That was it, but believe it or not it got a really big laugh. The audience were on my side. I'd only just started the gig and this time, instead of agreeing with her and booing me off they were actually applauding my ready "wit". She also showed her approval by clapping along with everyone else. Brilliant. She enjoyed having her slightly chubby body mocked!

How strange.

I was a little annoyed though because I felt I'd compromised myself a bit. She was exactly the right sort of shape, as far as I'm concerned, and it'd be a shame if she then went on to worry about her weight and go all skinny on herself. Women are easily troubled by their weight and it annoys me to have been a part of that. Still, she heckled me and I'd have lost the crowd if I hadn't said anything back. So there we are...

Regardless of this I lost the crowd quite easily and without anyone else's help during my Tesco material which, frankly, I'd already been considering dropping. 2mins 45secs was my total time. From what I saw that was about average.

Me and my girlfriend chipped off after the first half was done as she's a working girl and needs time to get her sleep in. In retrospect this now seems like a mistake as the rest of the evening seems to have been even better. Mick Ferry joked about having a penguin race before we left and ultimately this joke turned out to be an actual challenege. Here they are, having said race:



Direct link.

Looks fun doesn't it?

We're off to Beat The Frog tomorrow where we'll watch one of my new comedy friends doing some stuff. The Manchester Comedy scene is great!

NM

*A gong night is where you go on and three members of the audience are given cards. If they tire of your useless comedy antics they hold their card up. Once all three are up, you're offstage.

**I think it's 8 now. I'm not sure but I think that's right.

(Saturday) SaTURDay... Sadurdayee.... Shadderday. Satuday.

The 7 ages of Rock is an awesome TV series. Tonight's was about Punk music, not a genre I've ever had much time for personally, but after watching this show I was keen to hear more! After thirty times round the sun, I've had many chances to enjoy Punk, the fact that this particular show is the one which drew me in is quite an achievement in itself.

What an awesome show! I'm hooked.

In other news, Stewart Lee's website has been improved, more in terms of its style than content but nonetheless, it's a great makeover. Go see! I found the other layout a bit depressing whereas this one has more pride and positivity to it.

Also, I'm reliably informed that Ivan Brackenbury will be appearing at Takapuna, West Street, Sheffield this Wednesday. I was hoping to go down myself but unfortunately it clashes with my Mum's birthday dinner so I'm going to try and make the Manchester one instead. If you get the chance to go and see him email me a review: captainhowarewe@hotmail.co.uk

It's the Edingburgh preview show. I'm very excited about Edingburgh, equally excited about Glastonbury at the end of the month. Excitement x2 = very excited. That's where I am when I think of those two things; very excited.

So that's good. I'm sure they won't both be a massive dissapointment. They can't both be, can they? No. No they can't.

NM

Orks

A mate of mine mentioned to me that the Funnyordie.com website, that I've recently become a little addicted to, is a little bit like an idea I came up with some time ago in an earlier blog entry. I also put it forward a few times on the old phone in show. The only problem is; you don't get to see the makers of the video as their creations fail to work. Shame. Good site though.

I saw an old picture of myself today where I was really, really, f#cking fat. I'm not a fan of pictures. I hate having them taken and I hate looking at them in retrospect. Either they look crap at the time or, the next time you look at them you feel old and haggard by comparison. Not good.

I suppose this is a reflection of the fact that I really am now into the atkins diet. I can feel Ketosis kicking in and I'm turning into the sweaty, greasy, smell machine that any good atkins dieter has to become. Sounds awful but it's a sign that this odd diet is working. I'm wary of singing its praises too highly on here after the debacle which ensued last time but I'm feeling pretty confident.

My current Atkins stint will come to an end when I go to Glastonbury at the end of the month. I'm intending to prove to Straight From The Nicholarse readers that it really does work!

Seriously it does.

Honestly. Just watch me burn that flab off!

NM

(Thursday) Sneezing like a moron.

Today I finally moved out of my old flat in Sheffield. It was an odd moment when I realised as I drove away that I'd never again live with my old mate Matt Mackay. We've lived together for about four and a half years now and all of that came to an end today. Ruined.

I'm really tired out from lugging all my stuff into a big white van, it's like the time me and Matt moved in our three piece suite.

Furthermore I'm losing credibility with my "fans". Edge081 on YouTube has savaged my "wacky" excitement and enthusiasm for the phrase "How Are We" on this video here. I've tried to come back at him with an eyebrow raising suggestion that actually the "How Are We Videos" are something profound but I don't know if he's* bought it or not.

And finally I'm all set to do one of the toughest and most brutal gong shows in the UK. It's at The Comedy Store this Sunday in Manchester. On average you usually get about 30seconds to a minute before you get "gonged off". It's a bit like the Beat The Frog thing but, like I say, far more brutal. I'm going to open with the piece of material that brought my last jaunt onstage to an end.

NM

*Phone-in fans: check his profile it's got more phone in audio on it. Some of it's quite good.

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