Thursday, 14 May 2009

"Weep for Britney"

Have you seen Bosbury, Herefordshire by night? I have. While you may imagine stand up belongs in the big, rowdy rooms of the metropolises, there are other gigs, gigs that are never spoken of afterwards, in darker , danker, corners of this fair isle, the country cousins of city comedy clubs. They are usually on damp, windy Tuesday nights, they are usually (like Guy Ritchie is emotionally, eh Madonna I right?! Am I right?!) miles away and they are always, always, unrelentingly, shit. The long car journeys with other London based comedians can be divided into three categories. The first, where everybody is too tired or bored to talk and the car relaxes into gentle grateful silence, each comedian lost in their own reverie of why they are heading to Bosbury on a Tuesday night. The second, where comedians have an “I Can’t believe this is a Conversation!” conversation. Named after the simulated butter, these affairs sound like conversations, may even look like conversation, but they are decidedly not, in any way, conversations. They are a jarring mix of comics reeling off all the gigs that they’ve done, how brilliantly they went, and shoe horning new jokes into any remaining airspace. To listen to it, is to hear what would happen if Geri Halliwell and the noise of sharp nails scraping against a black board ever got married and had a baby. Imagine being trapped in a car for four hours with the entire panel of Mock the Week. ..Dara O’Brien is busy driving and Frankie Boyle has just farted.The further away the gig the greater the pressure. It’s a long journey back but even longer if the gig has gone badly. Imagine, if you will, the type of angry silence usually reserved for an unpopular ex girlfriend who crashes a dream romantic wedding to announce, yes she does have a reason why these two should not be wed. But it’s not a good reason, it’s a weak reason at best in fact, the couple are deeply in love and the beautiful bride has terminal cancer. Imagine how the assembled guests would view that interloper as she slowly shuffles away and now you’ve an idea how I’ve exited the stage at some of these events. Once after such a gig, huddled in the corner trying to avoid eye contact with the entire world, I was gently patted on the back by a kindly member of the audience who assured me “Don’t worry. Well, you see, we’ve never had a female comedian before”. Britney Spears might be feeling like that after her appearance on ITV’s “X Factor”. After much hype, she jadedly mimed through her dance routine with all the sexuality of someone doing an aerobics video. Encouraged to shimmy at sixteen for our love, who knew she’d end up in her twenties stark raving bonkers? This event follows her triumphant comeback at this year’s MTV awards which felt like watching a battered wife returning to her abuser. MTV being the same people who persuaded her to perform in the midst of a ravaging mental breakdown, live, to millions of people, in her underwear. Now we were supposed to celebrate that they loved her again, mainly because she’d lost weight and brushed her hair. Distressing though her breakdown was, there was something honest, almost honourable in her angry destruction of her pop puppet persona. Grinning blankly, clutching onto her awards, she looked like Winston at the end of “1984” realising that she did love MTV after all.Watching her on Saturday, I was reminded of a book I had read once about ghosts. It explained hauntings as the result of a person spending so much time and energy doing the same thing so that, even when the person was long dead, a part of them remained there, stuck, like an old recording. Watching Britney, dead eyed going through the motions, It seemed like someone sure she used to enjoy doing this, a long long time ago but couldn’t quite remember why. Which is all very sad. In fact the only thing that has cheered me up is the news that presenter Nicky Hambleton-Jones is furious at being replaced as host of Channel Four’s Plastic surgery propaganda programme “Ten Years Younger” by a younger model. The irony is exquisite. The woman who regularly ridiculed normal women for obeying the laws of aging and gravity has been replaced by seven years younger Myleene Klass. I suppose she could argue that age, experience and maturity are something to be celebrated but considering she’s made a living pushing expensive, unnecessary plastic surgery on vulnerable women, it may sound hollow. She described the news as like “a slap in the face” which is good news for her, thanks to all the Botox she’s injected there, she’s probably lost all feeling in that long ago.Talking about people who seem to make a living just being annoying, Peaches Geldof is back in London to launch her own clothes line. Thank God, I was looking for something that would make me look me look like a dull, over privileged moron with the personality of a pot of jam and I’m sure Peaches will have just the skirt. The woman doesn’t so much have a face as an emoticon for smugness. It’s not just Geldof, it’s Daisy bloody Lowe and Jaime Arse Face Winston, their main achievement, it seems to me, is wearing clothes and making it look difficult. I wear clothes every day, I don’t drape myself all over my best friend with all the inappropriate intimacy of an incestuous sibling and sneer at a camera lens just because I’ve managed to put a pair of jeans on. Am I being too hard? Probably. You see I just can’t imagine Peaches trekking four hours across the country to do a bloody gig. I can imagine poor old Britney giving it a go and most comedians, because there’s a third type of car journey. Where you actually have a lovely time with charming people yapping the miles away and the gig turns out to be wonderful because people in Bosbury enjoy a laugh as much as the next place that doesn’t happen to be London. Because everybody deserves a laugh, even sour faced Peaches, even Nicky Hambleton-Jones, if only she could move her face.

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