ssp FunonAisen

Pavilion Theatre. Glasgow. Sun 30 Mar

Life during wartime is much the same as life during peacetime: it's the comedians who talk the most sense. And to hear life as it might really be, you‘d do well to get along to the Pavilion where an unbeatable line-up of the country‘s best leftist stand-ups are turning out to drum up funds for the Scottish Socialist

Party‘s Holyrood election coffers.

The laughs will be plentiful, the polemic will be razor sharp. but let‘s imagine for a minute that the comedians weren‘t shouting from the sidelines but were in the seat of power. How exactly would the Houses of Parliament look if it were full of comedians, not clowns? I put the question to a number of the stars

of the SSP gig.

‘I like the sound of this.‘ said Robert Newman. ‘l‘d be the former showgirl speaker. I‘d be like the compere. I‘d do the punch-line competition at half time. That’d

boost the ratings.‘

Jeremy Hardy fancied culture and sport. ‘I wouldn‘t mind doing sport, just because I don’t like it and I‘d muck it up,‘ he said. ‘I think people should have to play naked. They‘ve got all this performance enhancing stuff, but they should be thinking of ways to make it harder, like being kept awake all night or be forced to

get really drunk before games or be blindfolded.‘ I suggested to Hardy that Mark Thomas would make

a good prime minister, but he was worried that Thomas swore too much. Thomas himself was succinct: “I‘d like to be the assassin in the gallery,‘ he

said with relish.

‘I would like to be the minister for mumbling,‘ said Miles Jupp. ‘My responsibilities would be to mumble while other people are talking in such a way as for it to be impossible to tell whether I am agreeing with them, disagreeing with them or just expelling trapped gas.‘

Old radical that he is, Mark Steel wanted to go for minister for music. ‘l‘d make Blue illegal,‘ he said. ‘Unless you're under six and then it’d be all right. And I would make the national anthem ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against the Machine and then I wouldn‘t scrap the royal family because I‘d want the queen to sing: “Fuck you, I won‘t do what you tell me,“ during

the changing of the guard.‘

Which leaves Sandy Nelson who gave it to us straight: ‘Being a flag waving, badge wearing, angry- letter writing loud mouth with an opinion about almost everything, I think minister of propaganda would suit.‘

(Mark Fisher)

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Usher Hall. Edinburgh. Sat 5 Apr, and touring

‘The hardest part is writing‘

66 THE LIST “'

‘l :ght entertainritent' have become .ig". l)li//' .‘.’()l(lS in comedy circles. (‘i'ahain Norton is; perceived to have soul <>..t. Johnny Vegas is; overexposed and not inst his undulating tumi and JOillll“, Vaughan is Just as irritating in ::“..'if-:;h:i.~.v mode as in the horrific 'Orrir; e lid Byrne if; in danger of hung; tarred with the same flimsy enterta r‘rrient brush. His forays into

Te e‘. sion have been largely forgettable it"o": Saw}; Game tosh to Irish TV's lt‘e Cass tii 's l and his film credits unsubstantial iRat ‘.'.’ltil Pete Pcst'ethuzartei. The career particulars 't‘igt‘: snake for interesting reading. but when it comes down to stand-up certcrr‘iances. the jelly little Irishman's record .2; .ir‘stiroassed.

Burne .-.a:; the blggeb‘I'SGllll‘g act at the Eiil"litllgll Fringe and Just to prove "e can still talk it up with the best of IllOY‘l. he is nearing the end of a 100- date tour. ‘lt's a little tiring. it has to be said] sat s Byrne chirpin on his rnch‘le. in trans‘it. heading towards that "-gil‘t's gig. ‘Tne hardest part of is writing the Jokes. Once the

Jeremy Hardy (top) plays a game of many laughs with

ministerial Ioudmouth Sandy Nelson

Jokes are written yOu want to get out and tell them to as many people as yOu can.”

The tour has taken him the length and breadth of the COuntry, from up- market bars to several thousand- seater venues. And there was even a boarding school in there. ‘We did Bryanston Hall in Dorset which was very posh. It's the kind of place where even it yOur dad drops you off at the front gate you still have to walk two miles to get to class.‘

Now 30. Byrne has plenty of work on the back-burner. His Sitcom idea based On a student union has been shelved for the time being. a live Video is in the pipeline. and August will see him back in Edinburgh wrth a self- SCripted play. But for the moment. it's laughter from live audiences that '3 giving him greatest pleaswe. 'It's almost like you Surf on it,” he says. ‘If they're spaced out - not like on drugs Or anything then it's harder to get momentum gOing so yOu Just have to work a bit harder. Still. it beats digging a ditch.' iMaureen Ellisl

Joking aside

Where the laughter matters "i'iHEN THE ESQl.lBlNCi SYARTS.

the star‘s ch.i"'.»‘-.: {"0 .l"’. war Jet‘tor‘stratc's cr‘ Wages Street Mark Thomas, who addressed the throng. was pics-A to taking the suggestion i-ter.i‘\ Rumour had it that his e\.e":ngi shov. induld be cancelled lOllowing reports of bombs falling on Iraq the war outbreak news firmed prer~i.ittire and another full house has treated to three hours of lhonias' radical rants at the lraxerse Nov. that fullrscale conflict has begun can only begin to entisage the level of Thomas ferocity at his Cottier tour dates

TICKETS FOR JOHNNY Vegas‘ recent gigs at the King‘s sold out months in advance. Over 3500 people saw the great man spout comedy dynamite in two programmed dates. However, the real treat was to be found at the Stand at its late night Festival Club. The St Helens master-potter made a guest appearance before a relatively titchy crowd, in what could tentatively be labelled the surprise highlight of the festival.

Vegas’ suprise appearance

RUMOURS WERE RIFE MONTHS ago that Johnny Vegas would be the new host of Bul/seye. Nothing more has transpired. put Vegas is reported to be w0rking on his own script based on a failed darts player. entitled Slings and Arrows. CONGRATULATIONS TO DES Clarke who is the new host of lTV's Saturday morning magazine show SM:tv. Tipped as the opportunity of a lifetime, Clarke could just have the talent to outshine his predecessors Ant and Dec. The young Glasgow lad is still presenting Beat 106’s breakfast show, and gigs on Saturday nights only. CHRISTMAS TELLY COMEDY programming is already hotting up wrth both Phoenix Nights and The Office beginning work on seasonal specials, Phoenix Nights lOOkS a little mOre Shaky wrlh Peter Kay announCing more 'l‘.’€‘ dates but Ricky Gervais is bu3ying himself wrth what c0uld DOSSibly be a feature-length episode of The Office to round off the cult series