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Wednesday 9th May 2012
Wednesday 9th May 2012

Wednesday 9th May 2012

The Talking C*ck controversy rumbled on, with more disgruntled comedians revealing that their Fringe entries were also to be asterisked (it's genuinely taken me 44 years to realise that the word isn't "asterix" - I blame Goscinny and to a lesser extent Uderzo) and some others revealing that their entries remained uncensored, despite containing words like tits and balls. I wondered why the Fringe were censoring Cock on my poster, but not " the second c*ming". It has exactly the same double entrendre rude joke in it. My intention was to imply ejaculation, just as my intention with the title is to imply penis. Very confusing and upsetting. Kunt from Kunt and the Gang (may not be his actual name) who has not been censored got in touch with me to reveal that he'd only got the name "Kunt" into the programme after a struggle, when he agreed to include an umlaut over the "u". What the fuck is going on in the brains of the people at the Fringe programme? Like an umlaut makes any difference. Did they go to bed that night thinking, "Yes, well I certainly diffused that potentially offensive situation" or are they just getting pleasure from making people make unnecessary and pointless changes. There is a serious issue at the centre of this comically pathetic stand. And it is that a man or woman sitting at a desk in an office should not be given the power to decide what words are and aren't offensive and what foreign punctuation you need to add to them to make them OK again, especially when we're dealing with an Arts Festival. This is all making me laugh, but also making me angry. And it meant that my brilliant designer, Steve, had to give up his tea-time to amend the advert. To be forced to alter his own artistic endeavours. Why did we only find out about this on the day that the brochure was going to print?
Although he did do a version with a splodge of spunk over the "o", I think the version with the asterisk looks better. Also my intention is that the asterisk is a representation of my own anus. As it's not what the words mean, but how the Fringe programme imagines they are intended that is important, I am personally disgusted that they have allowed me to display my anus in their brochure. I hope they will censor out the anus. Maybe by replacing it with a number 0.
What a stupid waste of time and of money, achieving nothing but making the word "cock" appear thousands of times more than it would have done, on blogs and in newspaper articles where its meaning is now clearly explained to any kids who might not have known and previously thought it was just a male hen or something you did to a rifle.
And I am, of course, delighted to have the opportunity to publicise my show, even if the tickets are not yet on sale and people won't be able to find it on the search engine.
Aside from wasting most of my day on this nonsense, I did get a chance to have some fun. We travelled into town for the third night in a row to go to the Etcetera Theatre in Camden to see Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" (or as it would be billed in the Fringe programme Sh*kespe*re's T*tus Andronicus - Shakespeare is an obvious reference to masturbation). It's not a play I know much about and I wondered how they would present such a complex and multi-charactered play in this tiny theatrical space and was a bit nervous when I found out they had updated it to the 1970s making it about skinheads and goths, rather than Romans and Goths. I've been to plenty of much bigger budget Shakespeare productions where it's hard enough to follow what it going on. But, you know what, this thing really flew. Not only did I understand 90% of the language and the plot, there were some genuinely fantastic performances, some laughs and some gory bits of horror. We were on the front row and sometimes almost nose to nose with the actors, so the fear could become genuine as we could easily have got twatted in the face at some points.
And the 70s setting pretty much worked out, with interesting themes of revenge, madness (not Madness) and race. It's not one of Shakespeare's acknowledged masterpieces, but there were some amazing speeches (Aaron's speech before he is killed is utterly amazing) and hands being chopped off and sexual assault (by two insane Irish Goths, which my brother-in-law accurately referred to as like "being raped by Jedward") and people cooked inside pies.
It's easy to dismiss Fringe theatre or be scarred by some of the more terrible things that can go on under that banner, but this was genuinely great. In fact the only dip in quality was Shakespeare's fault as he pretty much ruins the play towards the end with a ridiculous plot in which the Queen and her sons dress up as "Revenge" "Rape" and "Murder" in all ill-thought out plan to drive Andronicus over the edge, but instead two of them get baked up in a Jedward pie (or hamburger in this case) because the scheme is RIDICULOUS.
It did make me think that sometimes when you're an academic or an A level student you have to over analyse themes and the writer's intentions, but now I am a writer I am sometimes left wondering if sometimes things are in a play because the playwright didn't have time to finish it all properly, or because he was blocked or because he thought, "Ah fuck it, that'll have to do". The plot device got us to the gory denouement, but at what cost? Shakespeare, you fucking idiot.
I take my hat off and if I had to I might even take my hand off to the team behind this play - it was properly entertaining and the two and a half hours passed by very fast. And one of the raping goths looks a bit like a young Andrew Collings, which made it even more entertaining for me. Go and see this if you get a chance. It's very impressive. I don't know any of the people involved either (my wife's brother has a friend who's in it) - so this is an unbiased recommendation. Little gems like this are scattered in tiny rooms above pubs and pass unnoticed and unremarked. Why not give it a go and see what you think?
I had a great time, but then again I have been stuck in my flat in Harpenden for quite a while, so anything would seem exciting.

Joining Jonathon Ross on next Monday's RHLSTP will be the brilliant Francesca Martinez and joining Graham Linehan on the June 25th gig will be Armando Iannucci. Come and see these live if you can, but they will be up on iTunes and the British Comedy Guide for free if you can't make it along. Very happy to have been at the top of the iTunes charts for a few days already - Subscribe here. Spread the word.

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