Wednesday, 16 December 2009

If it's not on the frount cover of "Grazia" it hasn't really happned yet.

Celebrity news is a lot like fish; we want it fresh, we like it juicy and in Japan they eat them raw. The internet until recently, was the fishing trawler we sailed in, roughing the winds of rubbish websites and free porn to get you the stories about stars that you needed, stat. The early days of the internet were like the wild west of celebrity news, there were no rules, no legal teams, it didn’t even have to be true, who cared- yeehaa!

Today, however, if you were to hear, that say a certain pop star had not only broken up with her boyfriend but also flown a passenger plane into a landmark building in the process, when you googled it at work, searching desperately for an adrenaline shot of excitement in the flat lining monotony of your office day, when Mr. Google rooted around in his big bag of facts, that story wouldn’t necessarily be the first to pop up on his little page.

Killjoy celebrities now employ people specifically to sieve through search results ensuring that the more embarrassing stories are firmly locked in the dusty forgotten vaults of result page three. According to my recent spins the most popular searches about Tiger Woods have to do with something called the PGA (I’m assuming it’s some nineties girl band he’s impregnated) and the area of Kate Moss’s life people genuinely find the most interesting, according to her google reports is her chuffing Topshop knicker range. It’s airbrushing but for the entire internet, untaggging all the unwanted icky bits and deleting all the double chins. I’m sure when George Orwell, rasping over a typewriter predicted the fiendish big brother brilliance of fact eradication, he had no idea his TB riddled mind wasn’t actually forecasting Stalin’s Russian but the future of celebrity PR.

Catch of the day is Catherine Zeta Jones, returning to the stage after over twenty years to appear on Broadway. I feel sorry for CZJ, when she first winked and caught the world’s attention she was a fresh faced stunner in her late twenties, relishing her moment in the Hollywood sun. This was the dream that had kept her going all those damp years down the pit in Wales, tap-dancing through the strikes, pirouetting down those damn valleys. As she walked up her first red carpet she surely thought, damn you Maggie, this is one mine you won’t close down.

But I think she mixed up admiring the vintage years of the moving pictures and actually getting married to it. She probably meant to say to Michael Douglas “Hey, what was Charlie Chaplin really like?” but what came out was “Yes, of course I’ll marry you”. Poor Kecko, he looks like a sandcastle that one more wave is going to collapse. Catherine always dressed like a star, but unfortunately it was a star from the nineteen thirties who was still alive and trying desperately to prove she still had it, while actresses the same age as her skipped by in skinny jeans. And now tragically she is forty and at the age when she should be moving onto her tasteful Donna Karen phase , she’s looking like an Upper East side granny.

I’ve a horrible feeling that if her and Michael bit the dust she’ll pull a Mariah on us and dress for the next decade in dental floss.

Sometimes your only hope on the celebrity high seas is that a story isn’t true, that a line isn’t twitching, that it’s all a dream. Here goes-Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhall might be splitting up.

I know, let’s just change the subject for a little bit to allow our subconscious to process that information while our conscious mind retracts from the idea like an elastic band made out of molten lava and broken dreams. X Factor- Joe won! Didn’t Cheryl look nice; apparently her and Ashley want to have a baby. That’s about as likely as...

And we’re back. The couple who had been dating for two years have reluctantly decided to split. Friends say that Jake AKA the world’s perfect man, was looking for more commitment while Reese, still smarting from her divorce from Ryan Phillipe was reluctant to get remarry. This beggars the question how shitty must her marriage have been to turn down the chance to be Mrs. Gyllenhall?

To put it into context, had Joseph Fritzel’s daughter, pre counselling, her eyes still blinking in the fresh Austrian morning air, been showed a picture of him in his little check shirt and asked if she was up for it, she’d been picking out wedding dresses before you could say, feck it every family has their problems. It’s with news like this that I turn to the sacred showbiz columnist prayer “If it’s not on the front cover of Grazia it hasn’t really happened yet”. You scoff but I plan to use it to sit out the next general election.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Prime of Miss Louis Walsh

In the most improbable car accident since Princess Diana, Tiger Woods, previously the most reliable star of the world’s most boring sport, smashed his slow moving car into a tree in his own driveway. It quickly emerged that rather than rushing to rescue him, it was his wife’s discovery of his pathological inability to keep his own clubs in his caddy that propelled her to attack his back windscreen with a ten iron. Since then a veritable tsunami of cocktail waitresses, porn stars and reality TV contestants have washed up on the tabloids front pages all claiming to have had private swings with the US Open champion. News stations in the US have even been forced to create phone lines at the end of reports for women who think might have slept with the golf sex machine. Blessed with a gorgeous wife and a beautiful family, people are stunned that he would risk everything for a few shots in the rough.

It was his all American image that attracted the lucrative sponsorship contracts and advertising deals that had him on course to becoming sports first billionaire. How on earth did a man trained obsessively at a competitive sport since childhood, drilled to be ambitious, selfish and single minded and assured that he was the greatest in the entire world, turn out to be a be so bad at personal relationships? His mother assured him that he was wonderful and his Dad declared that he would not only be the best golfer the world had ever seem but probably the best human being ever and yet he still turned out to have the morals of a bank overdraft fine? Incredible.

His poor social skills became stuff of golf legend, with tales of his bad language, abrasive behaviour and general rudeness became notorious. Still as he smiles at his loyal wife over breakfast as her morning croissant flakes over fresh new stories of his wandering irons, I bet Elen blocks out the rising screams in her heads by repeating “but he’s very good at hitting little balls into across big fields, he’s very good at hitting little balls across big fields”

Meanwhile enjoying some bittersweet schaden freud with a double shot of vodka is Jo Wood after reports that her ex Ronnie was arrested for beating up the teenage girlfriend Ekatrina Ivanovc that he left her for. Neighbours were woken by the couple’s screams before witnessing the Rolling Stone attempt to strangle the tiny blonde and part drag her down the street. Ekaterina is not pressing charges and although she has moved out of their mansion is reportedly desperate to win back the aging rocker.

Meanwhile Jo is happier than ever. After years of marriage her new single social life has doubled her friends and for the first time, she incredulously revealed in an interview the only person she has to worry about is herself.
Maybe Jo needs to sit down and have a quiet word with Amy Whinehouse. The newly revitalised singer, sporting a fantastic new pair of breasts seems to be using her new found confidence to win back her ex- husband Blake Fielder- Civil.

This is the same man who recently finished a spell for GBH and attempting to pervert the course of justice, a sentence he seasoned with a short stint in rehab for his heroin addiction, the drug he introduced to Whinehouse with such brilliant results, the same man that broke her heart so badly she penned her break through record, Back to Black and wrote some of the greatest descriptions of the unflinching exquisite agony of heartbreak. And yet and yet, call me a romantic but wouldn’t it be great if they could make it work? If their raggle taggle, can’t live without you, if I live with you we’ll probably overdose and die, rollercoaster settled down into boring old happiness. It’s that insane hope that created the great art that Amy’s adored for and probably of the misery that’s made her infamous too.

That’s why there a lot to be said for every woman having her special friend, you know, a confirmed bachelor, the sort of man you wouldn’t mind getting changed in front of. Every girl needs her own Louis Walsh. He is the unsung hero of the X Factor, the one that takes himself the least seriously, who doesn’t mind making an idiot of himself because he realises how ridiculous the show is and how lucky he is to be there. This is the same man that spent most of the eighties touring the midlands with Johnnie Logan, who could begrudge him a bit of glamour at this hour in his life? Louis seems to be looking much fresher lately with rumours of a few nips and tucks here and there.

I’m saluting this late spring for little Mr. Walsh, may his prime be long and happy. Maybe, he and Jo could get together and have a double wedding with Blake and Amy? As Tiger Woods have showed us; stranger things have happened...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Healthy Living with Katherine Moss

I don’t know about you but when I’m looking for some healthy eating tips I always think, damn I wish I had the telephone number of a woman made famous for being abnormally bony, I bet she’d have some sensible dietary advice. I rang up Kerry Katona the other week when I was going through man problems and Madonna was such a help when I freaked out about getting obsessive and distractingly puffy faced as I get older, now here I am, feeling bad about having that donut, if only there was someone who I could turn to.

Kate Moss has got herself into some hot water (ugh just think of the calories) after flippantly remarking in an interview that nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels. Little mini Moss probably doesn’t follow the traditional food pyramid instead swearing by the lesser known cigarette-shaped Marlboro lights model .She is after all a supermodel; the average catwalker thinks that a sign you’re putting on too much weight is when you get your periods again so she’ll hardly be bleating about the benefits of your five a day. Also, it’s a bit hypocritical of glossy magazines to condemn her when her skinniness was the very thing that put her on their front covers in the first place. It would be like Hugh Hefner disowning Pamela Anderson for suggesting she was only popular for her breasts.

As for being a poor role model to young women, well knock me down with a lettuce leaf, Kate Moss is slightly irresponsible shock horror, next you’ll be saying I shouldn’t have asked Ronnie Wood to lead that marriage counselling weekend? If we can’t rely on celebrities to tell us what to do on who can we rely on? Experts! Pah, if they were any good they’d be on the front cover of “Heat” and until that day, I’ll rely on Amanda Holden thanks.

Celebrity is fickle, one minute you’re the bee’s knee next you’re the wasp’s sting. Poor Suri Cruise could do no sartorial wrong until recently then all of fashion world were lining up to take the four year old down just for wearing high heel shoes. Think of the damage it’s doing to her feet, they shrieked, imagine the irredeemable change to her posture, they warned. Considering her mother is slowly becoming invisible and her Dad thinks he’s the king of the aliens, Suri’s probably leafing through the glossies, fag in mouth, strong martini in hand, thinking, honey, that’s the least of my problems.

You see, it’s hard to recover from being famous at a young age, a bittersweet problem faced by X Factor judge Dannii Minouge.Despite starting out in showbiz first, she always seemed a slightly rubbish version of her older sister. Kylie was the blonde bombshell in sunny Neighbours, while Dannii was the surly goth in disaster stricken Home and Away. Kylie partied with Michael Hutchinson, while Dannii got hitched to the guy form Nip/ Tuck (actually at think that last one was a draw) Kylie span around while all Dannii wanted to do was have one blooming hit song.

After being bullied by Sharon Osbourne and completely overshadowed in last year’s show by the shiny new Cheryl, this year, at last, Dannii seems to be finally having her moment in the spotlight. Maybe the public are beginning to tire of Cheryl, especially after appearing in an ad for volumising shampoo despite the fact half of her hair began life on someone else’s head. Dannii is winning the battle of the outfits, each week striding on stage, like an eighties power dressing Nelson to Cheryl’s, big hair little dress again, Napoleon, every Saturday her Waterloo, her newly mobile face, released from its botoxed prison relishing the victory.

Still reeling from the loss of Jedward, then the world of music received a second blow this week, when it emerged that The Pussycat Dolls, the band that did for feminism what BSE did for the British Beef industry may have swung their final greased poll and sadly hung up their stripper heels for the last time. Reports suggest that the other dolls, Raggy, Blow Up and New York, grew fed up with Nicole, the lead singer’s constant spotlight stealing and showboating. Nicole has the highest profile in the group thanks to a relationship with Formula one driver Lewis Hamilton and solo collaborations with the likes of P Diddy. They also grew offended when the last two singles were described as featuring Nicole rather than just from the entire group.

I think they should bin the show- off and get a new lead singer, come on Dannii, this could finally be your moment! Unless Kylies free of course, or Cheryl’s interested or Louis has nothing on then you definitely have the gig. Maybe.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Oh Katie!

Can a truce be called with Katie Price? If she just gave us a list of her demands; social acceptance, an annual tithe paid by the entire population directly into her bank account and Peter Andre penitent in a sackcloth, could she please, please just give us a break? She has become the nation’s nightmare ex- girlfriend, claiming to have moved on but still sending drunken, saucy texts messages and then screaming at you the next day for messing with her head.

In her recent appearance on “I’m a Celebrity” the former stunner finally morphed into a bitterer version of Mrs. Haversham wandering inconsolably around the Australian jungle in her faded bikini trying to woo back the nation and remind us how it used to be. Her physical appearance is genuinely becoming disturbing, her puffed up face is beginning to look like a fish in drag and she’s only thirty one. After walking off the show after being voted for her umpteenth trial in a row she used her post interview to break up with her cage fighting/ cross dressing boyfriend Alex Reid. Oh dear, we’ve come a long way from singing Disney duets with Pete haven’t we?

Just when we need a voice of sanity more than ever we’re dealt the blow that the world’s fantasy mother is moving out- Oprah Winfrey is retiring from her landmark chat show to concentrate on her burgeoning digital channel. The news came in the same week that “Oprah” received some of it’s higher ever ratings thanks to the appearance of a certain former vice president Sarah Palin. Palin was talking about her autobiography “Going Rouge” her version of last year’s election and calling card for a possible 2012 election run.

Her book raised eyebrows and dropped jaws (try it yourself, it’s actually quite sore) when she revealed how during a political trip to Texas to discus oil drilling, the heavily pregnant senator woke to discover she had gone into labour. Not one to be distracted by a bit of vaginal dilation, she grit her teeth, delivered her speech encouraging exploration in endangered areas (broken embryonic fluids or not those Polar bears are going down) laughed off jokes that she was leaving early to give birth (if only they knew she chuckled) and boarded two flights just so she could give birth later that night in her home state of Alaska. If someone told you that story on a parkbench you could have them certified but in a book on national television it becomes an inspirational story.

It was also Oprah or specifically her couch that gently let the world know how completely bloody mental Tom Cruise was. Before he used his interview with Oprah to practice human feelings he was just the toothy guy from Top Gun, now we know him as the world’s most sinister dwarf. His cult, I mean religion, I mean organisation that rips people off, Scientology have been under a bit of heat down under with the Australian government launching an investigation into its practices and threatening to remove the tax free status it enjoys as a registered religion. It recently lost a key celebrity member Paul Haggis, the Oscar winning director who criticised the inconsistencies of what he as a member knew happened privately and what their spokesperson’s admitted in the press.

It’s depressing how many other celebrities you lose respect for when you learn that there in the same club as Peaches Geldof- Kirsty Alley- no not Rebecca from Cheers, yes she too was strolling down the street one day and got distracted outside Pret a Manger by a free personality test and now thinks that she needs to go on thousand dollar course to win her soul back. I just hope Sam never finds out; even Dianne at her worst would never have fallen for that nonsense. The biggest disappointed, apart from Bart Simpson (yes) was the actor Jason Lee from “My Name is Earl” I was going to marry him; now I’m having big doubts (The wedding’s still on though...just)

A recent expose book revealed that a former member of the religion received a personal one on one session with mad eyes Cruise himself which involved trying to move ashtrays by shouting at them. I’ve tried to find keys by shouting for them so I could have saved him some time and told him that it just doesn’t work. I had thought that nothing would convince me to take this pyramid scheme of a religion seriously until I thought up the ultimate challenge. Take Katie Price, give her a few of your little courses and return her to us with just a glimpse of a humanity behind her eyes and then I actually might give the whole metal rods a go myself. Failing that just make anything Sarah Palin says make sense.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Is Mariah Carey a misunderstood marxist hero?

Ever get the feeling you got the wrong impression of someone, summed them up slackly, sold them short? Well, I’ve been having that uneasy feeling about Mariah Carey of late. She was never a woman I took to my heart. She may be blessed with a voice that seems to dance around octaves yet she also seemed to spend most of this decade dressed as a street walker. What a depressing thought, a woman so blessed with talent, yet still seemingly feeling the necessity to borrow her clothes from an adult film star in the last throws of her career. Yet, in recent interviews with Mimi something strange is happening. When asked why she called her last album E=MC2, she dryly explained it was because she and Einstein had so much in common. Could the one thing she managed to keep tucked up her body-con dress hidden from the public all these years be a cracking sense of humour?

Yes her music may be the aural equivalent of the emptiness that descends after night of class A’s and have breasts so fake they should come with quotation marks, but thanks to the security that only a new healthy marriage and a resurging career can bring, she seems to be showing a newfound ability to laugh at herself. Who knew she could be witty; maybe it was just all that lyrca cutting off circulation to her brain?

Following Rihanna’s public revelations about her abusive relationship with Chris Brown, Mariah revealed the emotional cruelty that wracked her first marriage to Sony music magnate Tony Mottola. Not only did he control every aspect of her public image, even determining whether she should have a fringe or not, Mariah revealed she was barely allowed leave their million dollar mansion and spent most of her early twenties lonely and isolated. She finally got her own back by using the very million dollar Vera Wang dress she was married in for a video where she escapes the clutches of a slimy older man and runs off with the cute guy from Prison Break. When asked whether it was weird to use her actual dress she calmly explained that the dress was the least abusive part of the relationship. She’s now happily married to TV presenter Nick Cannon and has transformed her music career into a global empire. She is an ambassador for Caribbean Island, has her own perfume and cosmetic line and is soon to be seen sans make up in a gritty urban film “Precious” about a social working helping an abused teenager.

She also released a sarky music video where she mocked the man of la macho, Enimen for claiming to have slept with her. It wasn’t just the sarcastic single that showed her spirit, it was the scathing interviews to publicise it that showed she was not a dame to mess with. Had she actually heard the single, she was asked, where Mr. Mathews bragged about bedding her? No she replied sadly, the radio just never seemed to play it. Her single went platinum. Game, set , match, Carey.This week she has also managed to annoy, of all people, Philip Schofield by being hours late for her This Morning interview and delaying matters even further by struggling to find an outfit she liked. To add glitter to injury she then refused to let him post any pictures of her on his twitter page until her people checked them and then nixed the idea when she didn’t like them. So she’s no sweet and dippy Stacey from X factor then. She’s the music equivalent of Donald Trump but instead of real estate she’s selling her glamour girl image which is has to be guarded at all costs. If she has to choose between being a bit of a diva or damaging her million dollar brand, it’s a case of screw you Phil, sorry you know I do love your show. ..

Mariah is also appearing at Westfield Shopping centre to turn on their Christmas lights. There have been reports that the singer‘s demands are becoming nightmarish for the management there. She reportedly demanded a special pink carpet, limousine and podium, twenty kittens, one hundred doves and special butterfly shaped confetti to shower on her adoring fans. Now, this may to the outsider sound like the spoilt dead behind the eyes diva returning to her infant ways but again are we judging her too quickly? Is it that unlikely that she’s using her visit as a secret plan to bankrupt Europe’s largest shopping centre, the biggest symbol of globalisation and corporate greed by pointing out the hollowness and vacuousness at the heart of the capitalist dream? Or that she’s having a laugh quite literally at their expense? If we’ve learned anything, it’s never underestimate Mimi.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Bringing you the news that matters

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Simon Cowell has officially broken John and Edward. On last week’s show Jedward and lovely Lucie from Wales found themselves unexpectedly in the bottom two. The twins from Dublin had become the show’s surprise stars; Louis Walsh their mentor was jubilant while Simon Cowell, their arch critic, seemed increasingly frustrated, arguing that it was after all a singing competition and threatened to leave the country if they won. There was the bizarre version of “Oops I did it again” complete with matching red vinyl suits and bizarre incestuous undertones and a version of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” where they struggled around the stage like two drunks asthmatics gate crashing an end of term school play. Judge Simon huffed and puffed but try as he might he couldn’t blow the house of Jedward down. Short of popping a shirt button open with rage (if it wasn’t open to the waist already -ladies!) or waving his fist at them and exclaiming “you pesky kids” he couldn’t have made his disdain for them more evident. So when he was finally gifted the chance to rid himself of the Macaulay Culkins to his Walter Matheau and save the silver voiced Welsh lass, Jedward fans throughout the nation sadly noted the time, stopped all their clocks and quietly prepared for the inevitable.

Annoyingly , what he ended up doing was even worse than just voting them out. If he’d done that they’d at least have left on high; loveable, odd underdogs to the end. But by going to the public vote, a vote he knew thanks to the boys big press they’d win, he revealed himself to be what he always was, not the show’s grouchy judge with an eye for talent but the programme’s canny producer with a nose for ratings. We’d all been swindled; we were supposed to think we were annoying Simon by liking them, suddenly everything seemed like a bitter sham. What next? Simon and Louis don’t hate each other but are two happy middle aged mates working in music management? Cheryl and Dannii aren’t really waging a tit for twat war through the medium of hairdos but are two successful women who just don’t know each other that well? My eyes, my eyes as the scales fall away. Damn you Simon Cowell.

Meanwhile poor old Britney is in trouble with the Australians after disappointing concert goers by lip synching her way through “life” performances. Britney was criticised for seeming vacant, unengaged and bored with fans fleeing three songs in. I’m surprised people expected anything else, the light died in Brit’s eyes a long time ago. She’s become a performing monkey blankly going through the motions. They say that the age you are when you become famous is the age you’ll stay for the rest of your life. So they’re paying to see a sixteen year old former drug addict who is not trusted to be alone with her own children and then wonder why she doesn’t have much pep in her step.

Maybe she needs a new man in her life. Peter Andre is on the loose now, freshly divorced and feeling flush after winning a libel case against a gossip magazine that claimed he was pretending to be good father for publicity purposes. Andre celebrated his victory with another exclusive photo shoot with his kid’s faces lovingly displayed over a ten page spread. Nothing says family man like selling pictures of your children for money so he sounds like a catch!

Or maybe Brits should just stay single for a while longer like fellow pop starlet Rihanna. The girl has been having a tough year but luckily her record company who have owned, sorry, supported the star since she was fifteen are taking excellent care of their young charge. In an interview, that happened to coincide with her latest album release, the singer spoke to American TV legend Diane Sawyer about her abusive relationship with fellow singer Chris Brown and revealed in detail the horrific night he almost killed her. In a fantastic piece of journalism the veteran reporter, receiving the highest ratings of the year, grilled the shaky, nervous looking twenty year old about being knocked about by the first love of her life. Apparently her record company deliberately held back on spending money on the video for new single as they knew the resulting controversy would provide enough publicity anyway. To help her further along the road to self esteem and confidence they also released tasteful new shots of the singer topless and in various S &M outfits. I think I speak on behalf of most people when I say how happy I am that RiRi has finally escaped from such a cruel, exploitative and degrading relationship.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

I love Michelle and Barak..or do I? dum dum duum!

When we first met the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue it became a journalistic cliché to refer to the Obamas as the new Kennedys- an unfair label to put on any new political family.

It’s like calling around to the new next door neighbours, admiring what they’ve done to the place before pausing on the doorstep to exclaim with a winsome smile on your face - “You know, you remind me exactly of the family that used to live here. You know the one... Dad got his head blown off and the mother ended up with a sleazy Greek who never really loved her. Their surname became synonymous with tragic bad luck. God, who were they again? Anyway, welcome to the neighbourhood! ”

It can’t be reassuring for Barak, living in a country populated by a sizeable community of racists with grudges and guns to remind so many people of the man whose assassination was a defining moment of the last century. He wouldn’t be blamed for wishing to be compared to one of the non murdered by a lone gun-manny presidents. Although, if he was a fan of the Oliver Stone film he’s probably working on some major, major CIA funding cuts as I type. “What’s that Barak? The CIA’s new budget stretches to just one gun we have to clock in and out and share? And you’ve put Kevin Costner in charge. WTF?” It must be frustrating for Barak as, apart from his youth, good lucks and oratory skills, he hasn’t that much politically in common with JFK. In fact his attempts to unite a deeply divided America have much more in common with Abraham Lincoln.

Who was also assassinated. Right better forget that one too...

It isn’t very flattering to Michelle either. Yes, she rocks a shift dress and looks great in pearls but unlike her breathy, baby-voiced predecessor, the Princeton graduate is unlikely to ever have to depend on cheating spoilt heirs to keep her in American designer one offs. Rather than sigh and start mixing an extra strong martini at the news of her husband’s latest indiscretions, she’s more likely to sue and take everything belonging to him. If Barak ever cheated on Michelle with some modern Marilyn, the world would be so universally disappointed in him we’d give her the presidency as part of the divorce deal. Every State of the Union address would end with Congress officially stating for the record that the new president was better off without him. The comparison is also not very encouraging to little Sasha and Malia. If they really are the next Kennedys, who gets to be Caroline and who draws the unlucky John John straw and ends up spiralling to her death in an out of control aeroplane next to a coke addict they’re in a loveless marriage to? More importantly which unfortunate cousin ends up with a Schwarzenegger?

Barak may wish he had his own Rat pack and possible mob connections at the moment. He’s experiencing receding ratings due to his reluctance to outline his exact plans in Afghanistan and the unpopular healthcare bill he is marginally managing to drag through Congress. To keep approval ratings up he seems to be increasingly relying on Michelle’s steady popularity. The First Lady has appeared on the front cover of countless magazines, guested on reality programmes and even popped up on Sesame Street. They recently gave a joint interview in which the revealed how the presidency had affected their marriage and how they struggled to have some “them” time. Barak complained about recent criticism for using the air force one jet to take his wife on a date and Michelle remarked that their marriage was constant hard work. We found out that Michelle turned him down several times before they got together, that White House staff often walk in on them mid embrace and that Michelle livens up boring Official meet and greets by whispering unprintable comments about visiting dignitaries in her husband’s ear.

Now, we may feel like we can’t get enough of the golden couple at the moment but we also feel like that about Jedward who, in our heart of hearts, we know in six months time we’ll view with all the affection of a pool of unmapped vomit the morning after the night before. I’m worried it’ll soon become a case of too much information. I just don’t want to know this much about the ins and out of their relationship and when I do catch a glimpse into their private world, like those swoonsome pictures of the Inauguration Ball, I want to tingle with the unexpected intimacy of such a glamorous moment not jadedly note that they’re at it again.

I like our Obama crush; it’s a natural reaction to the current cynicism specifically after the gloom of the Bush/ Blair years. We need idols to love, larger than life people to root for and aspire too. Just as the Kennedy’s seemed to offer glamour and style in a country wracked by racial tension and the threat of nuclear war, the Obamas offer integrity and idealism in a political world corroded by corruption and arrogant warmongering. One joint interview too many and they’ll turn from the gorgeous new neighbours you wanted to hang out with to the ones that you dread bumping into because you’ve heard them having very loud smug sex every night for the last week.

Forget about being the next Kennedy’s they’re close to being the next Newlyweds with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey; the pop starlets who allowed a MTV TV crew to document every moment of their fledgling marriage and then wondered why it combusted like the Challenger disaster four years later. So maybe Obamas, ask not what the country can know about you but what you can keep mysterious from the country and whenever you feel the need to spill the beans look to the patron saint of too much information; Bill Clinton and reconsider.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Sacre Bleur!

Hey gang! Do you remember when Sartre said that hell was other people; well what many don’t realise was that he had two very specific people in mind. For as well as discovering that existence precedes essence and that freedom is a burden in an indifferent universe (thanks JP!) , he also had, one morning on the Left Bank, a chilling vision from the future so horrifying that he spat out his croissant ,splattered coffee all over his new stripy sweater and startled a passing mime artist “Sacre Bleur!” he bellowed, summoning Simone in from writing his next essay, hell was other people but how to describe the soul destroying, faith in god annihilating snapshot of the tomorrow he had seen? Who would believe him? He paused, gazed wearily over the Seine and sadly adjusted his trusty string of garlic. They’d just have to wait, live long enough and see it on ITV I player themselves and then the world would understand what he meant. Once they’d seem “Fearne Cotton meets Peaches Geldof” with their own innocent eyes.

ITV have brought us Room 101 in its literal televisual form. Not a jaunty chat show with Paul Merton but a programme so mind bendingly awful you’d gladly chew your own head off just to escape. Watching Peaches speak is like staring into a black hole of boredom, where nothing escapes, humour, intelligence, joy, light; if you stare at Peaches Geldof long enough you end up seeing the back of your own head. The show’s format is like Louis Theroux sponsored my Bliss magazine, but instead of trying to learn more about the interviewee the programme seems to pivot on whether the celebrity guest will want to be friends with its host Fearne Cotton at the end or not. It’s like ITV is paying a random famous person to keep her quiet for a while. Her next project is presumably a travel show where the sole aim is to find the country that’s most flattering to whatever outfit she’s wearing.

Cotton is a cyborg set to cute; everything she says, does, thinks is ruthlessly designed to make you find her as sweet and adorable as possible; liking her is a command not an option. Her delight has the hollow ring of a skinny girl claiming to be fat. In last week’s show she ran around after Peaches Geldof, like a seagull chasing a trawler for social acceptance. I’m surprised two such cataclysmically irritating people so close together didn’t set off some celestial reaction and result in animals acting spooked in New York zoos, horses eating their foals or Great Birnan wood suddenly arriving at Dunsinane Hill. I know for a fact, someplace else in the world, two otherwise insufferable people became slightly more bearable just to balance out the cosmic order.

Peaches Geldof, famous for being the daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates , is as delightful as any privileged, jaded twenty year old, who lost her mother to a drug overdose and has been attending celebrity parties since she was fifteen can be. Maybe she will grow up and cringe at her earlier social malapropisms or still be too much of a smug numbnut to care, till that fine day she is on our TV screens. She moved to New York a year ago to establish a writing career but her most impressive achievement is, in that short period of time, acquiring a perfect American accent. She like totally loves like sci-fi, Richard Dawkins and awkward moments, weird stuff like that since she’s such a nerd. I find it interesting that people who revel in how weird they are always seem to like the same “nerdy” things. It’s always seventies or eighties nostalgia, obscure punk bands or Victorian writers, no one ever brags about how much they like Northern miners’ brass bands, home brewing or the novels of Gyles Brandeth. Pensive Fern tried to get Peaches to really open up; Peaches just looked really hung over and bored. The two fixing each other with laser stares; you will find me adorable, you will find me cool, like mutant teenage girls with passive aggressive super powers.

The shock revelation of the night was that Peaches had accepted the Church of Scientology into her heart. How did Fearne deal with the news that her subject believed in angry aliens? She said how amazing that was! And then in an incredible turn of events, that no one saw coming, despite Peaches having spent much of the documentary ditching her, falling asleep in her company and occasionally sneering at her to her face, Fearne concludes that Peaches seems like a really nice, down to earth girl after all. Well, of course she’d say that, Peaches had no option,the freedom to choose being mates with Fearne is an illusion. No wonder Sartre was scared

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

We must protect John and Edward

The insanity of this year’s X Factor is building nicely, thanks mainly to everybody’s favourite cocky teenagers John and Edward Grimes. Even their name is slightly rubbish. How did they think it up? “Let’s call ourselves Grimes and Grimes, no that will never work, it’s too much like Robson and Jerome, hang on what about if we just used our first name. Genius!” Their continual presence on the show is proof that the British celebrated bloody minded belligerence is alive and well. Cementing their place in my heart is the news that Peaches Geldof sarcastically called them “musical prodigies”. Since her main achievement is being a fertilized egg, I don’ think the twins will mind when their bopping about on national television.

The show also has it’s own baddy Danyl Johnson. Before you rush to defend him remember this, the man is twenty five years old and he chooses to spell his name that way. He has achieved something rather magical this year, making being a brilliant singer really annoying. Every week he comes out, does the whole wide eyed I’m so lucky to be here shuffle that no one buys for a moment ,lobs his mike around for a bit and then blasts his way through another tedious pop song. Our reluctance to take him to his bosom is echoed in the judges sparing comments about his performance. Every week they drearily doll out the most reluctant of faint praise with all the enthusiasm of someone drinking a suspicious smelling drink for a dare. With past contestants we revelled in their vocal acrobatics but there’s something about his personality that gives us a cramp. He was in last week’s final two, which sent his mentor Simon Cowell into spasms of indignation pointing out that it’s a singing competition not a popularity contest. I never thought I’d be saying this but poor Simon, you crazy dreamer, how naive you are.

Stacey, the rambling Essex girl, we love her. We love her so much we even voted for Rachel just for doing an impression of Stacey on last week’s show. She seems genuinely excited to be there and that babbling incredulity is something that can’t be faked, no matter how many times you run up and down the stage mid song.

Speaking of people we just don’t seem to like, Sienna Miller is going through a tough time. The exquisite blonde has made her Broadway debut in “After Miss Julie” a reworking of the Strinberg classic by Patrick Marber. The critics have been less than enthusiastic about her performance and to add to her career woes her ex squeeze Balthazar Getty has been seen out and about with Lindsey Lohan. How depressing must that be, to be as beautiful as Miss Miller and lose your man to a train wreck like Lindsey? You’d feel like there should be an Independent authority you could complain to. There was a lot of controversy in the States when Miller and Getty first got together because of the unfortunate matter of a Mrs. Getty and several mini Getty’s as well. Sienna was branded a home wrecker and labelled “Sluttiena” by certain members of the press. Isn’t it ironic that the word “member’ is also slang for a part of the male anatomy and in this case both meanings of the word work. Sienna’s reputation further plummeted where pictures of her topless with only a sailor’s hat at a jaunty angle to protect her from the Mediterranean sun were published. The couple broke up soon after but, after a few clandestine meeting, there was reportedly hope on Sienna’s side of reconciliation. Then Ms. Lohan fresh from her latest split with Sam Ron, wandered incoherently and slightly off balanced into the frame.

Lindsey coincidentally also had a fling with Sienna’s other ex Jude Law who is also appearing on Broadway. He’s still reeling from the birth of his daughter to a woman he shared a brief Christmas jingle with. The Florida model claims that the little girl looks exactly like her Dad so somewhere in Miami there’s balding, smug baby in a v neck jumper and scarf looking inexplicably pleased with itself. Despite being cheated on by Jude, dumped by Getty and her obvious commitment to independent low budget films the public have never really warmed to Sienna. There’s always been something too shrill; too smug too satisfied about her. She strikes me as the type of girl who flirts shamelessly with her male friends and then acts confused when they eventually asked her out.

Still at least she hasn’t been physically attacked, unlike poor Leona Lewis. The X Factor winner was attacked by a crazed fan recently at a book singing in London. There were reports that the culprit was in fact regular award ceremony stage crasher Kanye West declaring “No disrespect Leona but I really feel Ray Quinn should have won” but they’ve been hurriedly denied. Being an X Factor winner is more dangerous than it looks. Are you listening to that John and Edward? Look after yourselves boys for Christ’s sake.

Jimmy Carr died for our sins

The always thoughtful conservative press, aware that many of its readers are missing their traditional fox hunting have introduced a new sport to keep their loyal subscribers busy - comic baiting. Simply take a well known comedian, quote part of their set completely out of context and wait while people queue up to be offended on behalf of others. The latest victim of this new fad is Jimmy Carr. His quip that the current war in Iraq means that Britain will have a fantastic Para-Olympic team was seized on by the Sunday papers and then dragged out by back bench Tory MPs looking to remind their constituents that they’re still alive.

It’s a win- win situation; newspapers get a good splash headline plus acres of pages filled with outraged, indignant columnists and obscure MPs get their faces on telly the year before a general election, the only victim is the comic. He ends up with his material mauled to a misshaped mess, reputation destroyed and public figures can, with complete impunity, call for the end of his career, just for doing his job properly.

Confusingly, injured servicemen aren’t even the butt of the joke. Jimmy was pointing out, through humour, that by 2012 there will be a generation of otherwise healthy men and women maimed and injured due to a war many now see as at best pointless at worst illegal. People should find this joke unsettling and slightly disturbing but the anger is better directed at the government for bringing their country into the conflict instead of the fool on stage for pointing it out. Politicians angrily claimed that the only people with the right to make that sort of joke were the soldiers themselves. I agree, there is a dearth of military men on the stand up circuit at the moment, mainly as they’re a bit busy being blown up. So until they’re less occupied, much like the citizens of Iraq, we’ll have to rely on professional comedians to satirise the war instead, even if, as mere civilians they’re scarcely allowed to.

The evolution of being offended from an occasional frustration to a national game of moral one -upmanship has had a disastrous affect on comedy. Established comics have to choose between playing it safe or potentionally jeopardising their career, jittery producers become reluctant to commission anything that may offend somebody, somewhere and the result is bland opinion less TV and radio programmes that no one; the producers, comics or audiences really care about.

People often wonder why Britain has no equivalent of John Stewart, whose Daily Show became a deciding factor in last year’s American elections. The truth is that a comic with his strong political opinions and passion, exactly the things that you need for satire to work, would never be allowed on television here. The father of modern satire Jonathan Swift wrote an essay “A Modest Proposal” at the height of the Irish Famine suggesting that the Irish people should eat their babies as a way of avoiding starvation. In this current climate there’d be protests outside his house and claims he was glamorizing cannibalism. A democracy prides itself on the freedom of its arts, the ability of its novelists, painters and poets to publish and produce whatever they like. Throughout history comedy, and its swottier sibling satire, has been the Arts poor relation, but it’s comedy’s scraps for free speech that have probably made the most difference to most ordinary people’s everyday lives. It’s time we as a society defended that tradition and comedians stopped apologising.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

I read the news today, oh boy

Nobody expects to agree with The Daily Mail. I have a theory that’s it’s actually a character newspaper, like a paper version of Alan Partridge or The Pub Landlord and is written by a group of very sarcastic left wing hacks. Knocking the right wing ravings of its editorial has almost become a sub genre in stand up itself. The earnest ranting that muslin lesbians from Nigeria were coming over here to spread foot and mouth, the constant referring to World War Two as if, it was not only was still happening but the Allieds might still somehow lose, it’s devotion to their page three blondes; Princess Diana and Madeline McCann. For any budding Mark Thomas, criticising it is like taking candy from a baby, a dead baby. So it’s saying something when even by their subterranean standards, a column that appeared in last week’s newspaper offended so many people that the Press Complaints Commission website crashed. This is, remember, a paper that employs Richard Littlejohn, a man who once pointed out that the Ipswich murder victims were only prostitutes, to write words.

On Thursday last, their charming columnist Jan Moir, took time off from her busy schedule of slagging off middle aged women and Kerry Katona to write a piece about the death of Stephen Gately that was so offensively, unnecessarily cruel and breathtakingly cold that it’s callousness is almost impossible to exaggerate or ridicule. When most people heard that Stephen had passed away on holiday in Portugal, their first reaction was to wonder at the implausibility of it. Tragic early deaths were for serious musicians or doomed actors not cute singers from naff nineties boy bands. It was always hard to take Boyzone seriously. Their first cringe worthy appearance on The Late Late show, their endless cover versions, Ronan’s braying accent that got off the bus somewhere outside Nashville; they always seemed like five men lads who were just having a go. Name the other ones; come on, not Stephen or Ronan or the one who was in Corrie for a while, the other ones. You can’t can you, but you think they’re probably aright, like distant cousins you meet at weddings or funerals. Compared to the professionalism of Take That and the slickness of their successors Westlife, Ronan’s craven ambition aside, they always seemed grateful and surprised they were still getting away with it. Of all of them Stephen was the most harmless. A diddy cherubic faced little bopper, he surprised about three cows in west Cork when he was outed, forced by a kiss and tell in a rival newspaper to admit his preference for men. He followed Boyzone with a brief but successful solo career and then joined the world of musical theatre. He had a gorgeous voice, he looked lovely, everybody seemed to like him.

His complete blandness makes Moir’s viscous attack all the more perplexing. After his sudden death and the normal rumours that surround any young person’s demise, an undiagnosed heart condition was revealed as the medical cause. His remains were being flown home, before his burial on the following Saturday when the journalist decided to launch her own take on his passing. Calmly dismissing the medical reason for his death, she saw it as the only possible result of his decadent lifestyle; death by gayness apparently. She warned any young men who may have looked up to Stephen, in case they were considering homosexuality as a lifestyle option to consider his squalid and lonely death. They’d invited another man back to their flat that night she crowed. She then, using the recent tragic suicide of Matt Lucas’s ex husband as further proof, damned civil partnership as a failure. The gays can’t be trusted with marriage you see. Heterosexual marriage has been booming for centuries, the gays and their “husbands”, inverted commas appearing around the word whenever it’s used in a homosexual context like a pair of gloves holding something dirty, soil it with their horrid ways.

You can say whatever you like about an innocent dead man and let his grieving family be dammed when there’s pages to fill, prejudices to confirm and attention to create. Stephen was buried two days later, surrounded by the family, friends and community that loved, adored and respected him. Moir’s column is subtitled “Are you thinking what she’s thinking?” Thankfully the answer is a baffled and very angry, no.

My date with Stephen Fry

Few people evoke such feelings of devotion and affection in the British public as Stephen Fry. He is the nation’s dream dinner partner, fantasy friend, the thinking fag hag’s crumpet. The main theatre at Bloomsbury was packed full of expectant fans secretly hoping that, at the end of his talk about the short stories of Oscar Wilde, the few minutes it took to get their book signed would be long enough to say something so witty he’d invite them round for a cup of tea later. All of us united in the feeling that we knew him, not just from his decades of TV appearances, radio shows or perpetual twitter updates, but personally, clutching hardback copies of his new book there’s a strange feeling he might actually recognise us.

I used to love Stephen Fry. He was everything teenage me from a headache of a town in the midlands wanted to be; witty sophisticated, English and middleclass. I genuinely thought that once I moved to London our paths would somehow cross and he’d become a benign fairy godfather in my life, doling out advice and witty anecdotes over coffee in his Hampstead kitchen. But then like most teenage crushes once you find out that everybody else had the same fantasy, honesty permitting, I hid my love for the man at the back of the wardrobe like an embarrassing fashion mistake. He changed; became the man responsible for people using unnecessary adjectives in sentences in an attempt to appear witty, the face of exclusive, expensive London that I could just make out through the windows of small restaurants but never enter, he was all the Oxbridge comedy people that were clever and cute and hilarious and worked in Radio 4. He was the world I had wanted and it was full.

The man himself, my dream Dad, arrived on stage looking much slimmer than I remembered less Paddington Bear more city fox. Happily his talk coincided with Oscar Wilde’s 155th birthday, and Stephen took us on a whistle stop tour of Oscar’s life. He had a curious way of describing Wilde’s country of origin, admitting that many people didn’t know that his parents were Irish. Maybe it’s the border county blood in me but that seems to me a particularly odd and ungracious way of describing someone’s place of birth. Since Wilde’s persona was that of an outsider aping and dissecting the superficiality of English culture from that period, dismissing his nationality seems a very shallow way of looking at the man’s work. Cultural colonialism aside, Stephen described his early life in Dublin, as a boy so quick at reading his brother could win bets on his swiftness at finishing books, through to his glamorous life at Oxford where his devotion to aestheticism and flamboyant fashion set him apart from the reigning Victorian conservatism of that time. After a brief fling with poetry and a spell where he seemed to be doomed to be famous for being famous; a gifted raconteur and public speaker but with little substantive to show for his extra ordinary mind, he finally discovered his flair for playwriting. It was unfortunately on the very same evening that the theatre world was standing to ovate the opening night of “The Importance of Being Earnest” that the Marquis of Queensbury; the Dad of dear old Bosie-Oscar’s boyfriend from hell, was writing the note that called him a sodomite, and would result in a disastrous libel case, his conviction for sodomy, two years in hard labour, banishment and lonely death in exile in Paris.

Although it is chiefly as a dramatist that Wilde is remembered this night was to celebrate the other side of Wilde’s personality, glimpsed through the short stories written for his children. It was not for his caustic wit and cutting turn of phrase that he was lovingly remembered by his friends but, preserved in his sad, beautiful tales, his gentleness and kindness. In a week where a national newspaper saw fit to publish a column that seemed to revel in the death of a thirty two year old pop singer, this celebration of compassion seemed fitting.

I of course got my book signed, there’s no point holding a grudge. I asked him to sign it for my godson Setanta and he made the same joke about my uniquely named nephew that I’ve been hearing since his birth. Yes, Stephen, just like the sports channel, no I hope he’s not cancelled either. Ha ha. The notion that is was ancient Celtic name slightly longer than it was a TV station eluding him. He didn’t invite me over for tea; he didn’t ask me to Emma Thompson’s house for a game of charades, he didn’t even adopt me. I didn’t mind anymore. I’m not English and middle class, you see. I’m Irish, just like Oscar Wilde.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Knock knock

Whenever I have a difficult decision to make, specifically if it involves that of a sensitive racial nature, I always think: what would a professional ballroom dancer do? Apart from their rhythm and winning ways with a carefully placed sequin, they are legendarily perceptive at judging the racial mood of any country. It’s a little known fact that before Nelson Mandela became everybody’s dream granddad and professional celebrity hugger, he was the fox trot champion of Apartheid South Africa. His canonical autobiography was originally called “My Long Salsa to Freedom”.

So, imagine my confusion when Anton Du Beke professional boogier, a man whose job it is to move to the beat of music and not fall over, was accused of racism. It all began when he hilariously suggested his dance partner Laila Rouass looked like a “Paki” after emerging orange faced from a fake tan session. It has to be remembered that to a ballroom dancer badly applied fake tan is as offensive as a shouting “Alright paedos!” on a day trip to the Vatican. St. Tropez is part of their ceremonial make up, the Umpa Lumpas are their gods, in a way Laila Rouass was offending him.

The Oscar Wilde of the cha cha cha had earlier quipped that he hoped the actress, who parents come from Morocco and India, wasn’t a terrorist. How does he think these up? Luckily the George Mitchell of light entertainment Bruce Forsyth was on hand to smooth over any stormy racial waters. He sagely pointed out that the English had been called “limeys” for years and they didn’t mind. How many English people living in isolated minorities, had the words daubed on their businesses or screamed in their ear as they were kicked to death, he wasn’t sure. I think Brucie is a diplomatic resource we need at the moment. We could send him along to the Left Back, gather the Palestinians and the Israelis around him in some “An audience with” setting and he could tell about the time he and Tommy Steele had been double booked for Sunday at The Palladium and just got on with it, did a tap dance double act and it all turned out marvellous.

Meanwhile The X Factor bandwagon has rolled into town; bring out your unloved and deluded, enthusiasm for regret, innocence for bitter disappointment. When I see the contestants manically sob into the camera with all the creepy enthusiasm of Tom Cruise that this show could change their lives forever, I always wonder: have they not seen any of the other series? Do they really not pause to ponder where last year’s twelve finalists are? Robbie Williams made his comeback live appearance on the first show, performing with the kind of wide-eyed desperate enthusiasm of someone with a gun to his head. ”Do you want us to love you again Robbie?” The producers were probably whispering in his earpiece “Then dance for us fat boy, dance”.

This year’s main talking point is John and Edward, teenage twins from Dublin who can neither sing nor dance but they can jump up and down a lot. They have been described as TV marmite, which I think means you either love them or hate them, not that they’ve got a yeast infection. I predict them lasting for another few weeks before Simon leans back with all the weary judgement of Solomon and acknowledges that maybe he got them wrong and ,to the audiences cheers, admits there was something fun about them . They’ll then be swiftly voted out the following week, journey and story arch completed. This week’s evictees were girl group “Kandy Rain” a name that sounds like an uncomfortable R Kelly B-side. The group of ex- strippers wanted to prove there was more to them than their ex profession so came on looking like, well, ex strippers. Sadly, as the main proportion of the audience is women, the chances of an attractive girl group going far in the competition was about as slight as their outfits. The ladies didn’t help their cause by describing themselves as “sexy”. Nobody likes anybody who describes themselves as sexy. A woman who calls herself sexy is like a man who ruefully describes himself as sarcastic and shy with women, claiming he’s exactly like Chandler from Friends, it just makes everybody want to vomit.

There is also Danyl Johnson, a man as annoying as the spelling of his name. Judge Dannii , who also seems to have come up with the spelling of her name while drunk, made a massive error when she seemed to out the twenty five year old live on air. It later emerged that she wasn’t trying to damage the young man’s chances by stirring up the unconscious homophobia of the British people - she was just attempting to be funny. Oh dear, that’s twice this week Antipodeans have tried to crack a joke and ended up insulting great swathes of the viewing public. When your attempt at humour results in jammed phone lines and campaigns from newspapers to have you fired, maybe just stick with knock knock jokes.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Workplace romances are always tricky. You need to make an effort with clothes, brush your hair every day, fake enthusiasm about spreadsheets and not look like you want to kill yourself at 9.15 when you realise you’ve only been at work for fifteen minutes.

But spare a thought for David Letterman the married late night King of American late night TV chat who was forced to admit live on air to dipping his pen into the office ink. Letterman found a file in his car containing incriminating evidence about his dalliances and a demand for two million dollars or the information would, with flick of a malicious wand , swiftly turn into a book and film. A nervous Letterman was then forced to break the news to the American public with the confused studio laughter suggesting the audience thought it was all just some very strange wind up.

Letterman has become an American Angus Dayton, someone once famous for crowing over other celebrities indescretions who finds themselves in the headlines. Although unlike Dayton, Letterman is actually funny, writes his own material and seems to be doing well out of the scandal. Viewing figures for his show have sky-rocketed with more than a third more people tuning in. Surprisingly, no advertisers have distanced themselves from his show and, compared to the scandal that ensued after Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross’s little on air blooper, his career does not seem to be suffering.

It helps that he’s built a career around being a little bit dodgy, sleazy but in an acceptable just the right side of flirty way. He’s like the old man at the party that will joke about getting you drunk so he can feel your breasts, make you genuinely worried that he will, but then not leaving you feeling unaccountably disappointed. He once memorably compared Sarah Palin to a “slutty flight attendant”, suggested her daughter was going to get impregnated at a baseball game and got flashed live on air by Drew Barrymore so no one is really that surprised.

Another person suffering from work based romances problems is Polish Roman Polanski, however since the college involved was a thirteen year old girl he’d promised a modelling career to and then allegedly drugged and raped, it’s understandably different. The director fled the US after being arrested for the crime over twenty seven years ago and has been living in Europe ever since. It was only when he flew to Switzerland to accept an award at a film festival that the Swizz party poopers arrested him and are now preparing to deport him to America. Roman has been refused parole and is awaiting extradition after the French government removed their support.

A petition of International artists has sprung to Roman’s defence including Martin Scorsese, Salman Rushdie and Woody Allen. Here’s a note for you, if you’re ever in a position where you’re accused of a sex crime with a young woman and Woody Allen rings up offering to be your character witness, make yourself a cup of tea and then take a hard, cold look at your life choices.

The defenders of the director have asked for the crime to be judged in relation to the decade it happened in, hey it was the seventies crazy things happened; we wore terrible flares, we loved Lava lamps, we buggered the odd child, relax, hey let’s watch “Charlie’s Angels”. I was born in the eighties, so I think it means that should I wish to I can sink Argentine vessels that are attempting to escape, because that’s just what we did then. The second line of defence is that since he is such a gifted film maker his crime should be considered in light of his incredible talent. This means that should you stumble home late from work, hair stuck to your face after another rainy evening and gratefully switch on your bedroom light to find Steven Spielberg in your bed, eating your food, downloading porn onto your computer as he gloats at the dirty protest he has decorated your entire room with, all he’d have to do is produce a copy of ET and legally you couldn’t touch him. It also means that if you like this column I could probably take some of your crisps without asking. The final line of vindication for the wee man has been the alleged victim’s unwillingness to press charges or even talk about the case publically. Her reluctance is not , it’s argued ,that of a middle aged woman unwilling to revisit a traumatic event from her childhood but proof that she thinks in hindsight that it’s all been a bit of an overreaction and besides it was ages ago!

Roman Polanksi ; giving the seventies ,sleaziness and the passage of time itself a bad name.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Rock on Tommy

Have you ever worried that you’ve really put your foot in it? Carelessly assumed an overweight woman was pregnant, mistakenly let slip a friend’s fumble with another mate’s man, accidentally seemed to, not only support the Jewish holocaust, but actually wish more had been killed? Yes? Then you’ll know exactly how everybody’s favourite Navan man Tommy Tiernan feels after an innocent interview with Hotpress magazine got a bit Mel Gibsony and the media called for the man, who once forced The Late Late Show to go to adverts, to be slung out of the country. How did this happen?

Back when curly haired Tiernan first won our hearts and the prestigious Perrier comedy award his signature style was stories about his adolescence fighting the mindless authority of petty teachers and the unthinking small mindedness of the midlands town he grew up in. However, fifteen years as the unchallenged King of Irish comedy changes a man and perhaps scared of becoming part of the establishment; a Brendan Grace for the Bebos, the safe jester for the Celtic Tigers, Bertie Ahern with jokes (although the latter’s banking material is hilarious…), he has transformed himself from the Ireland’s white headed boy to the son everyone’s slightly worried about. Travellers, Madeline McCann, children with Down Syndromes the handicapped, nobody escaped Tommy’s wide eyed rants.

Certainly in the infamous Hotpress interview he didn’t seem like a raving fascist sympathiser. Asked by a member of the audience if anybody had ever taken umbrage with his risqué material, he expressed frustration at the delight certain people take in being offended, a blind, humourless, superiority achieved without actually listening to what he was saying. He recalled an encounter in America where two members of the audience took offence at a joke he had made about the Jewish people’s involvement in the death of Jesus. Bare in mind, that this claim is one of the most clichéd, hoariest of attacks, akin to calling Irish people alcoholics, about as controversial and topical as any two thousand year old event can be. It was this closed minded rush to be offended, to judge, the dreaded dead thoughts that George Orwell warned against, when people stop thinking for themselves and just know, that annoyed the comedian. He then joked that he hated Jews anyway and that he wished more had been killed in the holocaust. The audience then laughed, not because he had single-handedly transformed a wet tent in a field in Ireland into the Nuremburg rally but because after listening to him talk eloquently for over half an hour the audience decided he was making a joke not suddenly revealing himself as an insane fascist Jew hater.

But perhaps we have to ban anybody mentioning anything slightly controversial unless they highlight the fact that they’re not racist mad men first? It wasn’t like Tiernan just walked on stage and said “How’s it going? I’m Tommy, who here loves The Holocaust? Am I right?!” Are we that immature and insecure as a society and have such little faith in people that we can’t take it for granted that a comedian is making a joke? We all know racism is bad, that the holocaust was a tragedy, but it’s not a comic’s job to remind us what we already know. Audiences tend to make a Sartrian choice; you are attracted to people who confirm what you already think anyway. There are plenty of genuinely borderline racist comics out there; happily exploring the same issues with a lot less sophistication than award winning comedians. If the former is the only comedians who feel safe making those jokes than that is not a healthy, balanced place for comedy to be. As for less sophisticated people being inspired and missing the subtleties of Tiernan’s point, stupid racist people can be inspired by a pint of milk, we can’t hobble intelligent discussion in case a few missing links miss the point.

Race, especially in a country going through the teething pains of multi culturalism like Ireland, is something that demands to be talked about openly and honestly. Earlier in the Q&A session he made fun of an audience member’s accent who happened to be from Africa, causing a collective clenching of the audiences cheeks. He pointed out that if the man had been from Dublin they wouldn’t have minded. The audience laughed at this because he was right. Would it have been more tolerant and helpful to ignore the way the audience were treating that man differently just because it stemmed from the audience’s gaucheness rather than their hatred? Tiernan is Irish; one of the unexpected upsides of being an occupied people for six hundred years it that at least we escape post colonial guilt. When Tommy takes the piss out of an African’s accents there’s no ghost of white man on the plantation or last days of the Raj. If a British or American were to do the same, they would have their own context to explore. Tommy was one man gently taking the piss out of another.

And surely that is the point of comedy- to take the piss. Comedy is societies release valve, it allows us to acknowledge subjects that we can only safely deal with in the bubble wrap of a joke. If you can’t joke with someone, you’re suggesting that they can’t handle it, they’re different; the ultimate insult to anyone. When something dreadful happens, it’s your gut reaction, a survival instinct, to find the funny in it, even if it’s just the crappy text messages that circulate after a major disaster-there’s a point to them. The world is cruel, random and unfair, the only way we can claim some of it back for humans is by laughing at it. Why shouldn’t people take the piss out of the Holocaust, Jew or not? Is there a correct way to respond to the murder of millions of innocent people? Is it not crasser to single the Jewish people out as too delicate, too sensitive that they’re unable to have a sense of humour? Real racism, real cruelty happens not when people think they’re better than other people, but when they’re not acknowledged as people at all. Joking with someone is surely the most humane, beautiful, honest part of our interaction on this planet, a knowing look, a rueful acknowledgement that life can be a bit shit but we’re all in this together.

However, are missing children, minorities with no voice of their own and victims of head injuries deserving of Tiernan’s savage wit or lazy targets for a comedian rapidly getting bored and indulgent? Can comics rant on stage with impunity about whatever weird ramblings are tugging at their cerebral cortex? Luckily not. When Seinfeld star Michael Richards was caught on camera phone calling a noisy member of the audience a nigger and ranting that he wanted to bring back lynching, it effectively ended his career. The clips shows a struggling comedian and a frustrated man trying desperately to win back the crowd by being shocking rather than making anything close to an intelligent point. In the clip the comic is humiliated by a member of the audience who delivers the one line that silences all comedians; “You’re not funny”. No matter how racist you are there’s no answer to that. When Tiernan recently appeared on television and make a series of wisecracks about travellers there was silence from the audience and complaints from the viewers because they didn’t relate to his point and didn’t appreciate him thinking they would. Most normal audience members aren’t morons, just as most people are not closet racists waiting for their anti Semite Spartacus to tell it like it is, they won’t sit there and think, oh so Jews are bad then? If they really think you mean it, you will get booed and jeered off stage. Because real racism, real bigotry, is not loud, it doesn’t shout on stage or make quips to interviewers in front of film crews, real bigotry exists in silence, in the darkness of politeness, good manners and secret BNP list that no one wants made public.

The comedian has a sophisticated, delicate contract with the audience to voice their unprocessed thoughts, hopes and fears; if the comedian blinks and suggests something they don’t agree with the contract and spell is broken. That freedom for one person to stand in the glaring, probing spotlight and speak his or her truth to the darkness is surely worth defending by the audience and respecting by the comics. The fear that real honesty means that we’ll all be exposed as bigots certainly says more about the critics than the comedians.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Fall of Keisha

Have you now or at anytime ever been a member of the popular music band The Sugababes?

Now think carefully before you answer because I was sure I hadn’t and then I remembered I actually was for a very short period in 2006, though that may have just been an alcohol induced hallucination; the girls kicked me out because they didn’t like the blue grass/roots direction I was trying to take the band and Mutya was jealous of the purple unicorn I was given for press interviews. So I was pretty surprised to read-ding dong the witch is dead, Keisha Bucchaman, the last remaining original member of the group, the Alf Stewart if you will of the original line up, has been asked to leave, making Amelle free to return to the group, like a wounded fawn, after her recent few weeks AWOL. Beautiful doe eyed Keisha has been unmasked as being a bit of a madam, which is disappointing for me personally, being the prettiest I assumed she must be the nicest-twenty nine years of American television wouldn’t lie to me. But in a shock twist it turns out her face was lying to us all along and she was allegedly bullying her former band members. Thankfully the despot has been overthrown, the mighty has fallen, the mighty Keisha, the ultimate mean girl at the back of the bus has been toppled- mission accomplished!

And it all started with such promise. The ‘babes” first slunk into our lives in 1998 with an average age of leave me alone and stop ruining my life Mum, Buchanan, Mutya Buena and Siobhan Donaghy really should have been doing homework not starring in cutting edge music videos and perchance that was the problem. Siobhan, like a pale woodland spirit, wafted through the Overload video and then after a brief press release explaining she was leaving for artistic reasons, was gone forever.
With indecent haste she swiftly replaced by blonde scouser Heidi Range, who having seen action with Atomic Kitten, witnessing Kerry Katona in her wild eyed prime, was well able to stand up to a pair of gobby southerners . They were almost a happy family until Mutya slipped up by starting one of her own and getting herself pregnant. Sugababes can smell weakness and a little more than a year after having her daughter, the Babes were searching for a new member. Enter the hero of the hour, fragile but lovely Amelle, blessed with a face like a Disney Princess and a voice like someone who could quite probably sing on a Disney soundtrack, she fitted in immediately.
After a quiet start she quickly became the People’s Babe, with a troubled personal life ( arrested for GBH- charges dropped, sister accusing her boyfriend of raping her- charges dropped, boyfriend attacked with samurai knife, the usual stuff) she was the one we could identify with. However, the Sugababes curse hit again, the girls were doomed to find happiness only fleetingly.

A fierce new haircut, a smash collaboration with a grime star and a lot of close ups in the new video and she felt the wrath of Keisha the alpha King Babe herself. Last week, with Amelle missing and her mother contacting the police fearing she had been kidnapped (as you do) we thought, that’s it, we’d lost another one. It’s like Siobhan all over again. Why do I bother getting attached, remembering their name, when they just leave? A replacement was even named in the form of Eurovision star Jade Ewen. Then in a piece of news that made me feel like Ebenezer Scrooge, when he realizes it was just a dream, the spirits had done it all in one night, it turns out, Amelle was safe all along, not kidnapped, and that it would be Keisha leaving the band after all- hurrah hurrah- buy the biggest turkey in the window my young boy and keep the change!

First Obama elected and now the nice girl beating the class bully, somewhere little Siobhan and Mutya are peering bleary eyed from an open front door realising they are safe at last, safe at last. Actually, I would love to see Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan meet up in some dodgy North London boozer, like criminals returning to a safe house after a heist , turn to see the new Sugababes line up playing on a tinny TV set and look at each other with baffled confusion. The band is Darwinism in bodycon mini dresses, unstoppable, constantly evolving, dispensing with deadwood with efficiency of the artic polar bear, protecting it’s next number one. They will never end. Ever. Imagine a Louboutin heel constantly crushing the toe of the new girl hogging the paps attention and that is the future of British pop. Well, at least it’s better than The chuffing Saturdays…

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

I bloody love Kanye West

You’re in trouble, you need help, who are you going to call? Kanye West that’s who. Even if he lost touch with ground control many, many moons ago and is floating around, alone, somewhere in a universe entirely populated by his own ego and really jazzy sunglasses. His disdainful abandonment of earth’s customs was showcased this week when miffed that Beyonce didn’t win Best female video (despite going on to win best video, the nomination categories for MVA’s being nothing if not comprehensive) he stormed the stage like an angry Renaissance king, yanking the mike from the startled winner Taylor Swift, to voice his disproval to his kingdom. The MTV Music Awards suddenly turned into a really really good episode of Sunset Beach, Beyonce using her acceptance speech to invite bashful little Taylor back on the stage to have another chance to thank her Mom and Jesus or something really boring like that. A huge public outcry has ensued, with even President Obama taking time off from trying to introduce universal healthcare to the American people to call him an asshole. Reports that David Cameron called his actions well wack haven’t been confirmed. All this forced a shamefaced Kanye to make a humble appearance on Jay Leno to apologise, blaming his actions on over work. Such were his PR’s desperation to get the public to feel sorry for their Sun King; they even dragged his dead mother into the story with Kanye regretting how he had let her down. Of course it wasn’t over work, or even delayed grief that inspired Kanye to turn to Amber Rose and say" You know what would be a great idea, liven things up a bit?!" He did it because he’s absolutely mental. The man is no stranger to voicing his wrath, he hijacks music awards the way you or I butt into longwinded friend’s meandering sentences. The first time we witnessed the fitness was when he didn’t win a VMA for his video for "Touch the Sky". With an endearing mixture of arrogance and sheer bafflement he attempted to argue the award from the actual winners like MTV had suddenly included a debating section to the evening, he pointed out that his video had canyon jumping, cost a million dollars and had Pamela Anderson in it- PAMELA ANDERSON!! Looking at him, I experience the same feeling of envy and quiet awe when I see a child pull a really big, magnificent strop. I think; I remember when I could do that, that felt good. Kanye is still in that magical place. Instead of bitching with his friends that the wrong person won or complaining to his management afterwards, he simply breezes on stage demanding a recount. You know all those terrible thoughts you have in your head, when you secretly think you saved a night out from calcifying boredom, or you without you your company would have folded years ago, well, Kanye not only says that out loud, he’s confused why we haven’t already noticed it first. He has publicly declared what he does isn’t just music it’s medicine. He also went on record as saying he would be in The Bible if it was written today and completely oblivious to the consequences announced at a Hurricane Katrina telethon that President Bush doesn’t care about black people. Come on, let’s be honest, does he? He’s even written a book "Thank you and You’re Welcome" offering us mere non Westians the chance to benefit from his philosophy- Believe in your flyness , he urges, conquer your shyness. God, maybe he should be in the bible after all.

Taylor Swift will be fine, she’s more popular and liked more than ever ,(who's heard of her before?) Beyonce got the chance to be magnanimous in a really amazing outfit so everybody adores her more than ever and poor Kanye is probably going to have to go on a little holiday. We need more Kanye’s. We need more Lady Gagas. She did, admittedly arrive at the Award ceremony in an outfit so bizarre that it looked like her family were being held hostage and wearing it was part of some signal to keep the negotations going but isn’t it a refreshing change from some dull poppet in a vagina skimming Versace gown? Yes, some people find her annoying but how nice to be annoyed by a young blond American pop star for taking herself too seriously rather than depressed by one who is genuinely not sure what that word means. She decided to finish her performance on the show by pretending to stab herself as she played the piano. Bloodstained performances and bullying weedy country stars, not a great example for the young people of today, I grant you, but if they’re looking for moral guidance from MTV they’ve got bigger problems. It’s only rock and roll ,after all, but I really like it.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Let's just escape to the moon!

So hello there showbiz pigs, here we are back at the trough again, ready to nuzzle another helping of celebrity reclaimed meat. This week it mainly seems to be about that old staple; sexual assault. Rape is the new black. It’s just not daring, without some vaginal tearing. How times change? Do you remember, back in the day, when any starlet worth her FHM front cover had at least one tale of a teenage eating disorder? Then it was “my secret coke hell”, now all that seems rather twee and taken for granted, like Vera Lynn hinting that it was a dram of sherry that got her through the Blitz.

Jack Tweed, in the most inevitable story since Kerry Katona last did something really stupid, has been arrested on suspicion of rape. The alleged event took place at his Essex bachelor pad after a particularly strenuous night on the tiles at a West End nightclub. I think we’ve missed a trick here. If sleaziness could somehow be turned into renewable energy, that sentence alone could fuel the greater area of London for about two years. Jack has occupied a special place in British culture of late, being the first male WAG, a male z-list celeb famous for whom he went out with. Naturally a man in such a glamorous role attracts attention, girls would mutter-“I must have him, he married someone who died of cancer, if I bag him Mahiki nightclub is my kingdom” And strangely this heady mixture of sudden notoriety, money and a young man with a history of criminal violence proved to be less than successful. Let’s hope Jade’s Mum’s psychic doesn’t fill her in on this latest development.

Meanwhile, Katie Price has revealed that she herself was raped more than once, via that age old oracle her OK advice column. Her new man Alex Reid is currently filming a movie that newspapers alleged featured a scene glamorising sexual assault. Katie hit back at the claims, arguing that the photos were taken out of context. Call me old fashioned but I think, even if a scene just looks a bit rapey, it’s never a good sign. It’s not like a trick of perspective or a weird way the light fell at an odd angle. Nobody has ever complained about a picture and then suddenly realised that if you hold the picture back a bit, he’s making her a cup of tea, how silly! She says she revealed this episode from her life to prove Alex’s innocence, as someone with her history would never stick by him if it was true. This vague reason for revealing such a traumatic experience from a woman who has already released two autobiographies and who, at the moment, has never been less popular, makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Without revealing what actually happened to her or how she overcame it, or even how it made her feel, she’s not offering any help or guidance to similar woman in her position. She is however requiring us to feel sorry for her, to care about her; you can’t be mean about a rape victim and come out feeling like Audrey Hepburn. People don’t like being forced to feel sorry for someone, it’s like the attention seeking girl at school who had a panic attack every time you stood up to her. Her shrill appearance on This Morning to discuss the story had all the non blinking paranoia of Heather Mills in her prime. Now, nobody minds being cynical about vegans, they’re fair game (tofu game of course…) but she’s doing an active disservice to similar women by revealing this portion of her past in such a tactless manner. The very fact that she isn’t discussing it as a separate manner, independent of her celebrity, her divorce, her Jordan persona is inappropriate in the extreme. The doubt she has stirred, albeit unintentionally, has helped perpetuate that most revolting suspicion and terror of victims of sexual assault, that the verb “claimed” cancels out the harrowing word at the end of that sentence.

The awquard, hesitating way the press is reporting the story is also disquieting. The use of “allegedly” and “apparently” suggesting that she hasn’t quite proved her story yet. But how do you report the sexual assault of a woman who personifies for many the notion of women as sexual objects, there for the taking? Jordan was always up for it, gagging for it, loved it, the willing wink to come and get it. The porn industry, be it, hard, soft, or the onmipresecent flash of flesh that has spread through our everyday mental landscape is based on the sexualised image of the submissive, young woman. Beauty has always been used to sell things, but a society jaded by extreme images from the internet, filtering through to every aspect of our visual lives, needs an extra kick to keep things interesting. The promise is that you can have that doe-eyed page three girl or that pouting teenager in the jeans ad, whether they like it or not.Also in the news this week, in a story almost ignored by the press, was the American fashion designer found guilty of raping at least fourteen young aspiring models, whose careers he had promised to help .The trial reports are heartbreaking with tales of sobbing teenage victims holding each others hands in solidarity. It’s the hypocrisy of this story that I find revolting. Anand Jon Alexander was sentenced to fifty nine years for attacking them but the industry that was going to sell those very same girls, at the very same age as sexual objects doesn’t wonder if it’s morally any better? If our media encourages us to imagine dominating, controlling,taking, young beautiful girls, no wonder it feels uncomfortable reporting when someone takes them at their word. How after all, can you be a sexual fantasy and a human being as well? How can you be a sexy teenage temptress and a scared fourteen year old child in a courtroom? Katie Price created her Jordan persona so that it would be easier to sell herself as a guilt free sexual fantasy devoid of feelings or respect. So it’s Katie when we’re supposed to like her and sexy Jordan when we’re allowed hate her. Maybe, all women are going to need their own double indentity soon.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

What would happen if Pinnochio lied about getting his nose fixed?

Demi Moore has never had plastic surgery. Ever. Now, there are barefaced lies and then there are botoxed to within an inch of its collagen plumped cheeks tall tales. It’s like if I shaved off all my hair, then complained that my new fringe was getting in my face and you had to look me right in the eyes and hesitantly offer to lend me a hair band. Its part of the usual evasions given out by Hollywood stars- No, I’ve never had surgery, I’m just lucky; oh you skin obeys gravity does it? I gave up dairy and the rules of physics years ago; my publicist did a deal with Isaac Newton. No, I never work out; I’m just too busy having a better life than you that I don’t put on weight. I gorge myself on deep-fried fat people and nothing! Yes, I have the perfect marriage, ok, my husband is gay and my religion means that I believe in space aliens but you’re missing the point. I’m your genetic superior. It’s the strange double think that Hollywood uses to convince us that Jessica Simpson is a girl next door and Britney Spears is now sane because she’s been trained to brush her hair.

Forty seven year old Demi not only looks like a twenty year old, she looks like a completely different twenty year old to the one she was when she actually was that age. Gorgeous, beautiful Demi was the belle of the eighties. Her doughy cheeks and sparkly eyes broke a million stone washed denim achy breaky hearts. She’s still stunning; she just looks like a different stunning person. Not in a bad way, just like if her face was a flicker book you’d go old, older, Oh “Ghost” god, I haven’t seen that in ages, older, Oh whoops it’s a new book, hang on who is this? I feel like I should defend her because we’re friends. Twitter friends that is. Demi, Denise Richards, Paris, all the gals’ tweets cheer me up as I slowly become sentient over the first morning’s coffee. The time difference means as I’m murderously turning on my computer in rainy London, my LA twitter friends are lazily snuggling into their Egyptian cotton sheets, twittering their thanks to God for an another awesome day on the beach. The sad thing is that in Demi’s tweets she seems so sweet and completely earnest. She appears genuinely indignant that anything other than yoga and running on the beach could be the reason why she has managed to dodge the aging process. Of course we’d all like Demi a lot more if she admitted that to avoid becoming invisible in Hollywood and to feel better around her much younger husband, every now and then she had bits of her face cut off. The same way we’d all have liked Victoria Beckham if, during the Rebecca Loos unpleasantness, she’d wandered around in her pjs for a while muttering. I’d love it if she did a full interview revealing the real reason for her eternal youth; the occasional sacrifice of the odd virgin and a bit of bathing in the unfortunates’ blood. That would be some “OK” home shoot. She could even bring out her own home sacrifice kit and sell them on QVC. Apparently it really closes those pores right up.

Meanwhile even Kerry Katona’s nose is jumping ship and apparently quietly rotting away. The woman whose job it is to make us all feel better because at least we’re not as bad as her was caught snorting cocaine by a tabloid and has been dropped by supermarket chain “Iceland”. She’s also been held by the police after allegedly attacking her former accountant. Maths is the least of your worries Kerry. Her husband was caught getting a bit too friendly with a stripper on their make or break holiday away and now Kerry faces losing custody of her children after allegations from her nanny that she is an unfit mother. Meanwhile, Brian McFadden, the father of two of her children is flying over to Dublin from his base in Australia to attempt to gain custody. Notice there’s no story running about an absentee Dad leaving his children with an unhinged drug addict. Had he to be reminded he actually had kids? I remember his first solo single was about wanting to spend time with them so you’d thing when he performed that on stage it would at least jog his memory. Apparently Kerry picks away the black, rotting, coke addled nostril flesh from her nose with a tweezer. Just pause on that image for a while. She’d probably offer to show it to you as well; in return for love. Never mind the glittery phantasms of the Hollywood publicity machine, that my friends, is the foul rag and bone shop of celebrity British style. Peer into it's heart of snotty darkness and wonder.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Goodbye Edinburgh 2009

By you time you read this the Edinburgh Festival will be getting ready to shop up for another year and drained comedians, like dead eyed soldiers that have seen action, will be quietly, sombrely packing their kit, like the unloved raggy dolls they are, and heading back to their civilian lives. For some it will be a return to the grind of circuit gigs and telly writing, for more the iniquities of temp work and supply teaching will be curling its frustrating finger, like a parent calling their child in for their bath. After a brief, beautiful bloom of a month’s constant gigging, vinegary chips for your dinner and nights that reluctantly end at four in the morning, performers return like sarcastic Persephones to the dark, dank realms of the real world.

If you’ve had a good festival and appeared in a well received show in a big venue, then Edinburgh is an experiment in mini celebrity; people unheard off outside of the sweaty, incestuous embrace of the comedy circuit, are reviewed in the daily papers and websites, their faces are plastered over the city’s hoardings, their passes get them into the private bars; they even have their own harem of teenage drama students flyering for their show. It’s bit like being a cross between a medieval monarch and an X Factor finalist for the month, but with more literary fiction references and self doubt. The festival is a month long office party and, without meaning to be crude, one bad STD, could knock out the entire comedy industry; however, it is a world as class obsessed as any Jane Austen novel. A whole Edinburgh etiquette has to be observed by performers’ in this casually, regimented society. Much like a Regency ball, successful comics can only be approached if they have made eye contact with you first, any drunken misdemeanours will be noted at the next night’s gatherings and shameless networking and social climbing will be recognised and, depending on how successful the person is, condemned or invited over for a drink. Any hopeful Becky Sharpe armed with only a venue pass and a glint in her eye, will hope to bag herself the next big thing, after all a single comic in a big venue with an eight o’clock show is usually in want of a girlfriend. If she succeeds she may unfortunately discover that her Edinburgh prince turns into a London pumpkin once the train leaves Waverly station and eleven months of grotty stag night gigs await their royal return.

Former ladette, Denise Van Outen is appearing at the festival this year in the show "Blondes". Blessed with a glorious singing voice and the face of an angel, her actual comic timing is leaving a lot to be desired with her show winning the dubious honour of containing the worst joke of the festival. Sad for her but confirmation that’s there’s more to being a comic than reeling off jokes written by other people and being known for being a bit of a laugh. The thinking behind it is clear as a smug TV producer’s glass of gin, Denise, the cheeky Essex girl, come on she was hilarious on The Big Breakfast, how hard can it be? Quite hard indeed as the legions of comedians can attest to over even smugger folded arms and indignant, rolling eyes. It was always going to be hard for a successful, glamorous TV presenter to have a go at stand up even in the gentler confines of a one woman cabaret style show. Nobody wants to hear a stunner complain about the hardships of being beautiful, we don’t want to know about the highlights we’re more interested in the dark roots. If she’d spilled her guts about being a "babe" approaching her sell by date, her failure to crack the US, with younger, skinnier girls snapping at her heels, screaming at the crowd that Cat Deally had stolen her life, now that, that would be stand up.

In need of a good joke is fellow blonde Melanie Griffith after admitting herself back into rehab for the third time. It’s reported that people close to her got suspicious when the fifty three year old became obsessed with the colour yellow insisting that everything and everyone in her presence wore the uplifting colour. Yellow, which ironically represents good health, was also the favourite colour of Vincent Van Gogh, who also became obsessed with it just before he shot himself. Let’s hope favourite colours are all Vincent and Melanie have in common. Although, it might be nice for Melanie, at this tough time, suddenly discovered a genius for expressionistic oil painting and it would be lovely for Vincent to realise, that he wasn’t dead afterall, but in fact married to Antonio Banderas. What a turn up for the books that would be? Hang on- "And it was all Yellow- The Mel and Vincent Story" I think I’m on to something, if we could get Coldplay involved, there’s definitely a one woman Edinburgh musical in that. Now, has anybody got Tess Daly’s number?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Best of both worlds!

The nineties were in many ways a simpler times, the Spice girls were the girl group that encouraged boys to get with their friends unlike the Pussycat dolls who look like they want to give their friends an eating disorder and their boyfriends an STD, terrorism was just something the IRA did and Brit actors were yummy and funny. King of them was Jude Law, dazzlingly handsome with a smile that made you want to attack your parents for not living in North London or you would definitely be going out with him. Cut to fifteen years later and sadly things have not turned out as, we assume, he wanted. Split from Sadie, cheated on Sienna, he’s now got a New York model knocked up and is facing the mother of all paternity pay outs. And he’s in a Shakespeare play- boring. Samantha Burke, Jude’s baby mama, informed the Alfie star (the most recent movie he was in anyone can remember) of their special little arrival using that most romantic of messages, a modern day stork if you will, a legal letter form her lawyer. What happened to the class of 1996? Ewan Mcgregor seems to have given up acting after the cinematic pile up that was the Star Wars prequels and Jonny Lee Miller has been MIA since since wedge trainers were in fashion. Maybe we could start a fund to get them in a “Trainspotting” sequel, although without the glamour of youth, gentle rounding of middle age spread and dissappearing hairlines, they might just look like real junkies in the park. Some roads are better left untravelled.

Someone else not having a great week is “Grey’s Anatomy “star Kathrine Heigl. Beautiful Kathrine is fast getting a reputation for being a bit of a big mouth. Let’s have a look at the evidence; the gorgeous blonde first broke through with the film “Knocked Up”. When interviewed by Vanity Fair about the movie, she described it as a hard film to love and misogynistic. Right, OK. She then wrote a letter to the Emmys asking them not to nominate her for any awards that year as her storylines were rubbish. Right. She then followed up the “misogynistic” “Knocked Up” with “27 Dresses” about a woman obsessed with weddings ( I think it was co written by Germaine Greer and Camiila Paglia but can’t be sure) and her latest film “The Ugly Truth” where a neurotic desperate singleton gets relationship advice from a man who seems to hate women- Kathrine co produced that last gift to the sisterhood. I think the actress’s actions are so bizarre and seem so wilfully set on offending as many people as possible, I almost suspect foul play. I don’t normally beleive in maleviolent mind control, voddoo dolls, or hypnotism gone bad, but I can’t help suspecting that former rom com queens Kate Hudson or Renee Zelwegger have the most to gain from this upstarts disgrace. Follow the money people. If I next spot Kathryn on television, blank eyed, unrinating on a puppy, while babbling about how much she hates earthlings, I’m calling the police.

Meanwhile sixteen year old Miley Cyrus is celebrating her special transformation from child star to future damaged young nutcase, with a pole dance at the Teen Choice Awards. But then, maybe I’m completely wrong, I mean apart from Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, and Christina wandering around in a pair of arseless chaps, lots of former Disney stars flower into balanced and contented adults.What better way to celebrate that special moment in a young woman’s life than to pop her in some boots and hot pants and have her master a dance usually accompanied by sweaty fivers in your g string so your children can go to college. Miley, as far as Disney, her Christian, conservative parent company are concerned ,is ready for the next stage of her career. The company that also produces her TV series and release her records go to great lengths to promote Christian values, the importance of the family and sexual abstinence before marriage. So as Miley was pole dancing her way to her first pap shot of her crotch she too would have been wearing her very own purity ring. In a turn of events, so unintentionally hilarious,it almost suggests the awards were taking the micky mouse, Miley presented that night’s lifetime achievement award to a certain Britney Spears. That’s right, Disney were able to present a woman, who cannot legally take money from her own bank account with a life time achievement award and keep a straight face. I’m suprised Britney didn’t didn’t start her acceptance speach by grabbing Miley and screaming- “My name is Britney Spears, King of Kings, Look on my Works, ye mighty and despair”. Mad mental Britney would have been the sanest person there