Archive for February, 2008

Aunt Betty Boop

13,February, 2008

My aunt Betty died yesterday. A remarkable woman who raised nine kids in a creaky old house that was actually in a cemetery. (My uncle John ran St.Mary’s Cemetery in Wilkes-Barrie.) Up until a week before she died, she still could tell you what every one of her four-thousand grandchildren did. Luckily I got a chance to visit with her just a couple of weeks ago when I was in the US for a flying visit. She is the last of that generation. I shall honour her by wearing Betty Boop socks today. She probably wouldn’t approve. I imagine she was called Betty Boop all through school and I bet it drove her mad.



You don’t have to like soccer to like this.

13,February, 2008

I saw this on Slate V and just had to link to it too.

An Occupational Hazard

12,February, 2008

One of the occupational hazards of being a professional comedian is that I say a lot of things that are not funny. You would think that the opposite would be the case but with comedy the only way to truly know if something is funny is to try it. This means that it is not unusual, in a delicate situation, for me to say something completely inappropriate.

I once went to the vets to pick up some routine anti-flee drops. At the counter I asked, “Can I buy those bags here?”

“Bags?” a confused receptionist asked.

“Yea, you know, the ones you put the cats in and then throw them in the river.”

That didn’t go down very well with the customers waiting for the cat clinic.

My favorite opertunity for this kind of behaviour was when my wife was being treated for a brain tumour.

Oncologists, neurosurgeons and cancer nurses dispense serious news about serious illnesses – they really can’t laugh that much. To me that’s like a red rag to a bull. I think my best moment was during one of Caroline’s treatment meetings.

You only get one shot at radiation treatment for a brain tumour and when it’s administered is a matter of debate. When Caroline’s tumour started acting up we had a meeting with her doctors to determine if now was the time. Sitting in a row in front of us was: our oncologist, the neurosurgeon, the McMillan nurse and three medical students – it was like we had been subpoenaed by a Senate sub committee. Just as we were going through treatment options the fire alarm went off and it was loud – really loud. It was immediately followed by an even louder announcement shouting that the alarm was malfunctioning and that we should not leave the hospital. We waited for about five minutes and then Caroline shouted a question. One of the doctors answered and we continued the meeting at the top of our lungs.

We shouted questions about side affects and they would scream answers and then howl treatment schedules at us. It was just awful. Finally the alarm stopped. I watched as the entire team visibly dropped their shoulders.

In this blessed calm we came to a decision. We were practically done when our oncologist asked, “Do you have any more questions?”

At that second the alarm roared back to life. Through the din I shouted, “When the treatment is over, will the ringing in her ears stop?”

They didn’t laugh – which must have been difficult, cause it was a bloody good joke. Caroline liked it. I know because she gave the signal she always gave me when I told a good joke – a really hard elbow in the ribs.

Sock Epaulet

11,February, 2008

I have a sock related trick in my magic repertoire. I had planed to film it Monday night at my show when I remembered – I performed it on TV years ago.

So here I am, without a one grey hair, performing my world famous sock trick. Enjoy.


10,February, 2008

It often bothers me that words like precocious and propaganda have, in modern times, been laced with negative connotations that are not inherent in the word. So keeping in mind that the definition of propaganda is, “Information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause.” – then this Obama speech, set to music, is one of the finest pieces of propaganda I have seen in a long time.

Never Heard of Him

9,February, 2008

While I’m on the subject of my radio appearance… As I left the Midweek show, the host Libby Pervis told me that one of her guests next week is Michael Smiley. I told her that he is a great comedian, an old friend, and to make sure she gives him my love.

I just listened to the program and Michael Smiley isn’t on – Dave Spikey is. I must have gotten confused when she told me. I’ve never met Dave Spikey. I can just imagine the conversation when Libby tells Dave that his old friend John Lenahan says hello and Mr Spikey replies, “Never heard of him.”

I suppose Libby will never book me again. Oh well, I’m too handsome for radio.


Saturday night at The Chuckle Club

8,February, 2008

If anybody is interested, I’m doing my stand-up set at one of my all time favourite clubs on Saturday night (Feb. 9) – The Chuckle Club. If you have never sung along to the Chuckle Club theme song with resident compare Eugene Cheese – then you have never lived.

Garfield Again

8,February, 2008

For those of you that missed it, I was on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek program last week. Midweek is a round table talk show. One of the guests around the table was Maria Ewing – a huge opera star.

I opened the show by giving all of the guests some of my old socks – washed. Host Libby Pervis said, “Maria Ewing is a world class opera star and you are giving her your old socks.” To which I replied, “That’s why she gets the Garfield socks!”

Ms Ewing was very nice but I noticed she didn’t take her socks with her.

You can see Maria Ewing (in her own socks) in the London production of Iolanthe.

Mikhel Ruila, the marketing director of the superb Sock Shop, has written to inform me that any serious Garfield fans can don their feet with images of the fat cat by using the links below.garfiels-sock-2.jpg




7,February, 2008

I imagine I am one of the few people on this planet that can say they had two cars stolen in one day and they really didn’t mind that much. One was a rental car nicked outside my Dublin hotel while I was on my honeymoon. Simultaneously my Morris 1100 (Americans think VW Bug but English-er) was stolen outside my flat in London. The thing is, I was going to sell the Morris as soon as I got back – so the thief saved me the trouble and almost as soon as I reported the rental car stolen it was found abandoned in a part of North Dublin called Finglas.

I’m remembering this because, as I write I am waiting to go on stage for a gig that I know is going to be crap. I won’t say where it is but I’ve driven for well over an hour to get to a little venue for not much money. Why did I agree to do the gig you ask? That’s the weird thing – I don’t remember. I just turned the page on my datebook and there it was. It’s in my handwriting so I must have agreed to it but for the life of me I can’t remember why.

So as I wait to fulfill my pointless contractual obligations, my mind wanders through the memories of all of the other shit gigs I have done and the brains cells happened upon Finglas.

Two years after my honeymoon I went back to Ireland as one of the comedians on the Harp Lager Comedy Tour. It was a ramshackle affair that was organized in each region by the local Guinness rep. The salesmen had various degrees of enthusiasm but the one thing they all had in common was that none of them had any idea how to set up a comedy gig. There were a couple of performances on that tour that forever will hold a fond place in my professional memory but most of them were nightmares. Imagine going down to your local pub for a quiet pint to find a bunch of English guys and an American shouting into a microphone, telling you to shut up. There was a couple times I thought I was going to be thumped. (There was one strange man who was convinced Harp Lager gave him hemorrhoids and seemed to hold me responsible). One of the last gigs on the tour was in Finglas.

Finglas is one of the roughest neighbourhoods in Ireland (maybe Europe. ) It’s where the band in the film The Commitments came from. The Irish comedians that were with us almost refused to go there. I’m pretty sure that the pub in Finglas was the largest pub I have ever been in. There must have been 600 people in a room that wouldn’t have looked out of place as an underground car park. The show was pretty well organized with a proper stage, a backdrop and an OK sound system. So all I had to worry about was the crowd.

As the MC, I arrived on stage to a hail of “FUCK OFF”s. This was a accidental audience of hard men (mostly) who had crap lives and they didn’t want any pity from us. One man insisted on standing every time he shouted “FUCK OFF” and he became the cheerleader for the group. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein in front of a mob of torch wielding villagers.

“Good evening everybody,” I screamed into the microphone. “It’s great to be back in Finglas.”

The audience erupted at this. The Cheerleader stood up and shouted, “Fuck off you’ve never been to Finglas!”

“I have been here before,” I protested. “I came here on my honeymoon.”

I thought the roof was going to blow off. The crowd howled at this obvious lie. The cheerleader was on his feet screaming with a bright red face but the din was so loud I couldn’t even hear him.

”No It’s true,” I said, “the police brought me here to pick up my stolen car.”

The audience went silent for a second and then erupted into laughter. The cheerleader gave me a nod and a smile that said, “Fair enough you have been here before,“ and with an open hand gesture that said, “go ahead,” he sat down.

After that we all had a pretty good night.

The Answer to Pick of the Day

6,February, 2008

The answer to Pick of the Day is 12. Of the 13 times we ran that scam, it failed to work only once. My producer Elaine (with the funny glasses) and I got so good at it, that I proposed we run off together and live a life of crime. She turned me down.

By the way, her glasses were that ridiculous because there was a camera in them.

A pair of socks goes to my old friend Chris – the only one of you that even tried to guess.