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I've seen Richard Herring's Christ on a Bike tour and a two-hander about Doctor Johnson this week, which were both good fun, and also listened to the last episode of ISIRTA series 6, which I've just got hold of- the last part of the Electric Time Trousers serial is amazing- David Hatch, the narrator, recaps the last episode and then goes "rocks fall, everybody dies. Now, I shall sing!", and then Cleese says he can't do that and resurrects them, only to make his character into the star, and then all of them push themselves to the mike and take over (particularly the ones who play several characters each), and at the end they all get killed again so David gets another chance to sing... anyway, the Herring show, the play and the serieal all do one of my favourite things, drawing attention to their medium and playing with what you can do on stage or on radio, making meta-jokes, even deconstructing themselves for the audience's delectation [1]; which just makes me wonder slightly about why I don't like litfic much, when one of its selling points is just this sort of messing about with form and levels of reality. Maybe it's just that there has to be something there to mess about *with*, and I've got more patience when there are jokes to be had than for the beauty of language on its own?

([1]See also, Dick and Dom's Funny Business, eg, holding up little signs that say "Tenuous link alert"; Kenneth William's rants in Round the Horne; everything Foley and McColl have ever done; the "backstage" sketches from Mitchell and Webb; the front-of-curtain chats in the Boosh live shows; Absolutely's "This. Is. RADICAL. Television" series opener; etc- I *said* this was one of my favourite things.)
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Black Cinderella II Goes East is on Youtube.

No, really, Black Cinderella II Goes East is on Youtube. !!!OMG eee!!!

(For those who haven't spent as many idle hours wishing this would ever get repeated as I have: a panto, produced by Douglas Adams, written by Clive Anderson, starring most of the I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again cast not to mention Peter Cook... apparently it isn't actually quite as amazing as it should be, but I don't care; listening to it will be the perfect Christmas present to myself.)

Oh, and did y'all know that BBC4's doing Dirk Gently? My geek runneth over.
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So I was listening to The Burkiss Way and realised that Renwick and Marshall must have written for Not The Nine O'Clock News, because there was the "I want to buy a gramophone" sketch!... except on TV, I don't remember it mutating through a game-show and ending with Genghis Khan chopping somebody's head off. (I think early Renwick and Marshall are the most overtly Python-influenced writers I've come across- it works well in Burkiss Way where it's mostly fun stuff in playing with the format and having sketches run into each other; in Alexei Sayle's Stuff you can see why writers might steer clear of Pythonesque themes, because it feels really derivative. And Angus Deayton isn't as good at being John Cleese as John Cleese is.)

Anyway! Went to see Mark Watson last night, and it was marvellous fun. He was sitting at the front with a laptop and a Word doc open on a screen as people came in, and having strange typed conversations with the audience; also, he did a bit about people needing to be less self-conscious and do more fun things, like chasing people... so when it turned out there was an 11-year-old in, he chased him around the audience. It was v. amusing. And his prepared stuff was good as well.
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I hadn't spotted this till today- Son of Cliche on Radio 7. (That's a really, really awful joke in Captain Invisible And The See-Through Kid. I laughed a lot.)
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Dammit, I've lost Asylum somehow. Why why why. I really felt like watching Norman Lovett being scary and Julian being loopy.

Anyway. Mark Watson Makes The World Substantially Better (with Tim Minchin and Tim Key) was enjoyable, Radio 4, Listen Again, same drill as usual.
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I know I have at least one reader for whom the statements "fan of Ross Noble" and "doesn't listen to Radio 4 much" are both true. For him, then, but in a wider and truer sense, for all y'all, I should point out the 4-part series, "Ross Noble On..." that started yesterday. One may listen to the first bit on Listen Again until the second part is on next week. Madly hilarious even without being able to see all the physical bits- or could there be some Platonic way in which imagining Ross miming doing the can-can with one leg on backwards is even funnier than the reality? (Probably not, actually.)

As usual, there's a lot of stuff well worth listening to at the moment- click the "comedy and quizzes" link in the "Speech" section of links at the bottom right of the BBC radio homepage for, say, ISIHAC, Charm Offensive, Flight Of The Conchords, Laura Solon's new show, the News Quiz, a new series of Chain Reaction...

[NB: I haven't gotten completely confused and think Ross is Cornish for some reason. Although there is now a scary image in my head of Ross Noble and Bill Bailey doing a West Country singalong- there would be many many Wurzels covers. It's a quote. From an anecdote about tripping over in Brighton.)
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I passed a busker this morning. He was playing La Bamba on an electric harp. (Not a lap-harp. A full size one.)

BBC7 is repeating The Remains of Foley and McColl starting tonight. Somewhat miffed because I won't be able to record any of them (that whole things-in-boxes problem), but I'll listen to them on Listen Again, and so should you, because they're good. They're full'o'crunchy meta, do radio-based jokes rather than being a TV show in waiting, also (most importantly) are funny.

Enjoyed Old Red Rope on Monday night- none of the acts hugely memorable, though, except Robin Ince.

I did myself a little list of things to put in this post. It went "harp, Foley & McColl, Monday", which reminds me of a list in Always Coming Home- I can't remember all of it, but part of it's something like
"A list of things that will be needed two weeks from now.
Certain prickly seeds
Stones with conical depressions in them
A young donkey
and there isn't any context to it. Just a nice thing to wonder about.
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I've got 20 pounds of work and a 10-pound bag, seems like.
Is v. stressful. Must escape, ideally by hiding in a hole and reading fluffy books. Or LJ.

(Now you know why I read so many Georgette Hayers during my final year at uni...)

I didn't mean to end up going to all three recordings of That Was Then This Is Now; [*] scheduling conflicts made me do it. ("Oh, you can't come with me that week after all? I'll apply for some tickets for next time as well, then.") I found a spare bod to go to the second one with me on Monday evening, and said bod enjoyed it, as it was very funny. It'll be on Radio 2 this Saturday and next at 1 pm.
I should try to see some of Danny Robins' solo work. Actually all the supporting cast are good.

[*]Herring: 'The show that all the cool kids are calling TWTTIN.'
Audience: 'TWTTIN!'
Herring: 'Sheep.'
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Last night I went to see The Cowards at the Hen and Chickens because they were pretty good on this week's 28 Acts In 28 Minutes on Radio 4, (a cunning idea. If an act's rubbish, just wait 30 seconds and the next one will be on.) and weren't at all bad; I was going to the H&C anyway to see the later show. The later show ended up being full, but the Cowards were good, anyway!

Read more... )

I read The Midnight Folk a few days ago and am now on to The Box Of Delights. They're both good books, I particularly like the dream-logic, and the rich sensory descriptions (the magic in these really feels magical), and the touches of humour- the marine cellarmen, and the way Abner and Sylvia Daisy quarrel while calling each other "my Astuteness", "my Inspiration", "my starlike Abner", "my blue and my yellow Sapphire".
Somehow Box never seems like a sequel to Midnight Folk to me, though- it's more as if Midnight Folk is an alternate history to Box (the very different way they use magic and dreams may be behind this, or that one is set very much around Seekings house and the other ranges far more widely; but Caroline Louisa, Abner, and Sylvia, in particular, feel like different characters with the same names.)
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Pigeon pigeon pigeon DUCK.
I could understand seeing a random duck in one of the parks, but there's no ponds within miles of Russell Square. Still, I expect it knew best. Maybe it had run away to join the flock. ("You just don't understand me! I hate swimming! I wish I'd never been hatched!")

Russell Square's had a makeover since I was last there. It's nice, with beds of wildflowers.

We were in Bloomsbury to see a recording of Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive at the Drill Hall (it'll be on Radio 4 tonight. Jack Dee was one of the guests.) Fun! ) Must look at the Beeb's website and see what other radio shows are recording soon.

At the end they got us to record a few sound-effects for Iannucci's new TV show which should be on next month (yay!) That makes the second time I've been a member of a choir singing a comic hymn. Odd. (The first was for "Humma's Hymn" in the Hitchhiker's Guide film. I'm not onscreen in the making-of documentary- yes, of course I looked...)
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The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show is On BBC 7 tonight (11.30 BST)- this week's episode, The Tragedies. Listen, adore, spread the love :-)
BBC 7 site, Listen Live or Listen Again links are on the right.


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