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Saturday 9th February 2013
I have recently been scavenging my old comedy ideas writing new versions of Gorgeous (which was called "Sex Amongst the Stalagmites" back in the 90s) and Ra-Ra Rasputin (which started life as a ramshackle Edinburgh show in 1993. [To give you a little update the radio version of Gorgeous has been turned down - I was surprised by this as I thought it was strong - and the powers that be still want some changes to Ra-Ra Rasputin before it is officially submitted - which is probably more positive than negative as they want to give it the best chance of being accepted. It would be a real shame if it isn't. Out of all the scripts I've written I really feel this is the one.]
It's been fun picking the brains out of the carcass that was the 20-something Richard Herring (as we know, he was played by a different person so it's properly genuine thieving on my behalf). But today I went back to steal the mind-shits of an even younger Richard Herring, from back in the early 80s. I wrote a proposal for a children's TV series based on a story I wrote when I was 14. It fitted the specifications of what I was told an executive was looking for and I know it should appeal to children because it was written by one. I've made some adjustments to the premise, but mainly only because it's about technology and things have moved on in the last three decades, but it holds up pretty well. If this carries on in the next few months I will be pitching an idea based on "The Men of Phise", though for real impact maybe I should wait until I am in my 80s to pitch this, so that it's an idea that's been brewing for three quarters of a century. I am mainly joking about that, but there might be a "Game of Thrones" style mash-up that I could make, involving peripheral Biblical characters with machine guns. And if that doesn't work out then I know there's a lot of demand out there for the further adventures of the Thriling Three.
Tonight we went to see Sarah Silverman at the Bloomsbury. I wasn't too sure what to expect, given she got quite a hard time for doing a short set least time she was here, but I am a fan of her work and was interested to see what her stand-up would be like live. And it was really good. It perhaps should have been billed as a work in progress as there was quite a lot of exploration of vague ideas during the 70 minute set (as well as quite a few comments about the reaction to her last gig). But I loved this style, because she is an effortlessly brilliant comedian and she was throwing away brilliant ideas as tiny asides. Maybe these will develop into routines and maybe they won't. But it was all that comedy should be. Challenging, morally dubious and ambiguous, shocking, yet charming and funny all the way through even when she was saying, "I should really think of a joke about this". There were quite a lot of rape jokes, including the best opening line of a set that I think I've ever seen, but they weren't just there for shock value even if out of context some of them would be shocking. Though asking the audience if we have rape here and then being pleased that we do because it meant her material worked, and then pointing out how we would feel for laughing that if that line and that reaction was taken out of context, was one of the more sublime moments.
She was exploring the subject through comedy, not preaching or chastising, getting the laughs for saying the inappropriate thing but also making the audience think about attitudes to sex and women. As with Sarah Kendall and those other comics I mentioned on Thursday there was a lot of examination of feminist ideas, but I think Silverman did the best job of all (with some stiff competition) at dancing around the line, making some fantastic points, but managing to mock herself along the way. It would be pointless and wrong to write these ideas down, as you'd need to see the context and the manner in which they were performed. She was vulnerable and insecure, but strong and smart and made some observations that changed the way the audience looked at things. It was a bit of a mess in places and there was no through-line or connection and she just read a fewer newer jokes off a bit of paper. But in all honesty I think these things made it better. Great stuff and no complaints about the act being too short. And a reasonable ticket price of £25 (not as reasonable as my ticket prices of course, but then I haven't been in Star Trek Voyager and the minute I am I will be bumping my prices up a tenner). I really should have had some flyers to give out to the audience as they left!
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