theatre/CABARET _ ’_

I- Amazing Amazons

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Parodied by Private Eye as bedungereed harpies snapping ‘that's NOT funny', feminists have a difficult time trying to persuade the world that they have a sense of humour. After all, to be a comedienne in a man’s world you gotta be tough and it you‘re a tough woman, you ain'ttunny.

One famous breeding-ground for comic talent, the Cambridge Footlights, was staunchly men-only irom their foundation in 1883 until 1932, when they let two women infiltrate their ranks and suffered bitter consequences.Shocked undergraduates stayed away, affronted at the prospect of young gals parading

about trying to be funny. It seemed frightfully indecent and not nearly as much of a hoot as men pretending to be women. The title of the following year‘s revue was an exuberant ‘No More Women'.

1957 saw women making a tentative come back, but even then their involvement was minimal, prompting Eric Idle to say in 1964 that it was ‘degrading and fantastically backward-looking that women should not have the same opportunities at University as men'. Even Eric couldn‘t move mountains, though. Last year there were no women in the revue although they predominated backstage. Male and female Footlights alike were unhappy with the situation and appointed a ‘Women‘s Rep‘. Then came the Footlights Women and their touring show ‘Amazons‘.

The group is emphatically not in competition with the mainline Footlights (who do have women in this year’s production), in fact they have been very generously sponsored by them. Co-Director, Alison Smith, explains that the group was formed principally to boost women's confidence in their comic ability: ‘There were lots of talented actresses at Cambridge, but no comediennes. Stand-up comedy is more over-the-top, over-powering. You have to put your ego on the line. We're just opening the doorto women. I don’t think there'll be a need fora separate women‘s group next year’. And she isn't worried that people might be more interested in the principle ofthe thing than the production's content: ‘They'll come in thinking it‘s all women in the show, but they’ll have forgotten about that by the time they go out'. (Miranda France) The Women‘s Revue: Amazons! (Fringe) Celtic Lodge (Venue 6) 225 7097,12—25 Aug (not 19), 9.10pm. £3.50 (£2.50).

" One of the most interesting short-term combinations on the fringe is offered by i those two ultra-cynics, John Otway and

Attila the Stockbroker (together with Ronnie Caryl). I asked Attila how the king of the ranters became involved with an ageing rock legend. ‘It is quite bizarre in some ways but in i others it's the most natural combination in the world.‘ says the stockbrokerwho's been polishing up ; hisfiddlingto provide ‘musical i accompaniment‘ lor0tway. i “Politically, John and me are poles T apart- Otway will actually admit to i having voted Conservative in recent 3 times. There's a headline for you, ‘Otway confesses to having voted Tory‘. it‘s not that he is a Tory; you can‘t really describe Otway as anything because he is genuinely a complete loony. It's not a put-on thing like these { comedians who say ‘l'm really mad‘, Otway‘s a genuine eccentric. l‘m seen

24'l‘he List If) loAugust 19‘)“

Stookbrooker Belts

in the same sort of way, so the basic

spirit of what we do is very similar.‘

‘We both have a tendency to do odd

things and are both fairly 1 unclassifiable. There‘s all otthese categories— poet, comedian, folk

f singer, rock musician and we both fit

into about all of them. John's always been seen basically as a rock performer but he‘s actually a lot more

: funny than many of the so-called alternative comedians. As he gets

older he's getting more completely cracked.

Iwondered if an evening in the company of two such unbalanced characters would be safe for the audience.

‘Oh yes, physically safe . . . mentally, quite perplexing.‘ (Philip Parr)

Attila The Stockbroker, John Otway and Ronnie Caryl, Marco's Leisure Centre (Venue 98) 229 8830.11Aug—1 Sept (not19), 10pm. £5.50 (£4.50).


Jim Tavare is discove ing that travel has its disadvantages. His appearances in last year‘s tidinburgh Fringe led to a six-week run in Melbourne and a series of dates in Buffalo and Montreal. But Tavare‘s problem is his double bass.

‘Comedy and music mix.‘ he says. ‘but travel and double bass comedy doesn't! It doesn‘t fit anywhere on planes. You book a seat for it and they say. Smoking or Non-Smoking."

The chance of being settled in Edinburgh for the best part of a month is a rare opportunity for the ex-psychobilly starof Paramount (try. Even in his London home. getting round with the double bass can cause serious problems. ‘I was off for three weeks with back trouble through putting it in the car wrongly. That was no joke.’ he says without irony. ‘I thought. that’s it. I've got toget a violiiil'

ln tact. he settled for a bigger car. Now all he has to contend with are the ill-informed questionsol his audience which range from ‘\\'here did you tratri'." to ‘l)o you bother to tune it up."

'l‘ye got better musically .‘ says Tay are. w ho has plans to work with Nigel Kennedy and who in Fdinburgh is joined by “London‘s second best harmonica player'. (iareth Rowan. 'The musical comedy has developed. It's pure comedy with the world of music added on. I talk about Beethoven rather than Mrs 'I‘hateheror lslmgton.‘ (Mark Fisher) I Jim Tavare - The Early Years ( Fringe) l’leasance (Venue 33). ‘) Aug- 1 Sept (Not 13.30). iii_3iipni.£4 (£3).


Those doyeiis of The (iuarrliari's cabaret pages. Miles and Milliier. set out

on their path to glory at 1989's Fringe. This year. they have chosen an unchallenging subject for their festive offering. as Tom Miles explains.

"The show isthe complete history of music from the neanderthal to the classical. It is the Miles and Millner. historically

authenticated manual ' charting the progress of musicians through the ages. It features 'I'hefl'li'les and Mil/her ()pera. Requiem and ()ne Season.

‘We start with the birth ofsound and go through other stages ofmusical development. The first scene has two cavemen coming on and whacking the shit out of each other. emitting sounds as they do it. Whilst the birth of harmony was actually discovered by Mo medieval. self-flagellating monks.‘

A quick change into their more familiar tuxedos and the boys tackle every aspect of classical composition.

‘We're quite earnest about what we‘re doing.‘ says Torn with tongue firmly planted in cheek. ‘We are the futureof music and when we write. for example. The Requiem. obviously we're extending the genre. Modern man doesn't have the time to listen to a whole requiem so we provide him with the five minute. bare essentials.' (Philip Parr)

I Miles and Millner (Fringe) The l’leasance (Venue 33) 556 (1550. 9 Aug- 1 Sept (not 13.30). 8.45pm. £5.5tl(£~i.5ll).



I l ‘You could call usthe ('ardigan Kings of , comedy.‘ suggests Henry | Normal. a man keen to set i himselfaside from the brash young shockers doing their best to intimidate the audience. that make up the bulkof the cabaret circuit. Normal's show. with Fringe veteran Linda | Smith. takes as a general theme the reasons why humans aren't very happy. Sounds nice. doesn‘t it'.’ There's more:

says. ‘and we don't want to upset anybody. Last

' year it seemed to me that

everyone was out to impress and didn‘t really care whether the audience enjoyed themselves or not. We want people to go away thinking life‘s worth living. Our show will be a sort of sanctuary.‘ Normal's blend of offbeat poetry (dare i say ‘whimsical') and Smith's more direct style might seem an unusual combination. but they have worked together on the Northern cabaret circuit. and promise all new material for the Edinburgh fringe. Go on Henry. give us your radical dangerous manifesto. ‘Well. laughter’s a great therapy isn't it‘.’ lfpeople go away feeling pleased. that‘s what it's all about.‘ (Tom Lappin) I Smith And Normal, Marco's Leisure Centre, 11

Aug—1 Sept (not 19),

. ‘lt‘s a friendly showfhe

8.15pm, £4.50 (£4).


‘I hate to say it but he was actually a good bloke. It was extraordinary. it makes you think that anything could happen. You might meet lan Paisley and he'll turn out to be the best laugh in the world and be really good at trivial pursuit machines.‘

So says Rob Newman of one of his primary sources of income. Steve Wright. Newman is the voice behind many of those oh-so-wacky personalities who appear on that landmark in British broadcasting. Sieve ll'righ! in the Afternoon. He is also a scriptw'riter for .‘l [as Smuh ant/Jones and Spitting Image when not appearing on I'he

.Wart' While/muse I;‘,t‘perien('t’.

All of this gadding about on Radio One has given New man probably the youngest audience profile of art y of the alternatives. I wondered if he‘d prefer the sophisticated clientele which The ( ‘rmtedv Slore enjoys.

‘It has its drawbacks when the seven year-olds throw too much ice-cream and jelly around. ldo prefer having 17 and 18 year-olds in the audience though. In the lastten years. the age ofth audience for alternative comedy has gone right down. It started off being 40-year-old social workers who though! they liked Jean-Lue (iodard in order to compensate for going to a provincial polytechnie.‘ (Philip l’arr)