Posts Tagged ‘John Lenahan’

A lovely piece of dialog.

26,August, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a program that I refused to watch because of it’s obvious banality.  My then young son wanted to watch it but we as concerned parents wouldn’t let him.  Then, as my wife and I were driving in the US listened to a highbrow arts review program on public radio, the presenter astonished us by claiming that Buffy was the best show on TV.  So we gave it a go and you know what?  They were right.  Humour, suspense, pop culture satire, subtle right of passage metaphors – this show had it all – along with a great cast and courageous writers and producers.  (They did one episode were no one talked and another that was a musical.)

I know I’m either preaching to the choir or to those who will never see it since it finished half a decade ago but I was reminded about how wonderful the show was when I happened on it today while channel flipping and I heard this lovely piece of dialog:

“You have to have patience.”

“I tried patience but it took too long.”

My other favourite Comedy Store open spot moment.

25,August, 2009

My other favourite Comedy Store open spot moment happened the very next weekend after the standing O night.  A man, who was older than the normal want-a-bees, spoke to me before I went up to introduce him.  He told me that he had some things to set up and that I was going to have to cover while he prepared the stage behind me.

“How long?” I asked.

“About 15 minutes.”

It was pushing 3 am and I had been on stage between every act since 8 – I told him that he had three minutes and that was being generous.

I jumped on stage and heard the sound behind me of big things being dragged and nails being driven in with a hammer.  I didn’t turn around.  The crowd started laughing and I had fun asking audience members to describe what could possibly be going on behind me.  The whole thing must have lasted for almost ten minutes before he whispered in my ear that he was ready.

I turned and was completely shocked to see that he had built an entire New York City skyline out of plywood – complete with windows and a five foot tall Empire State Building.  I turned around and said “F*%# me!”  I couldn’t help it I was that surprised.

I introduced him (sorry I can’t remember his name) and he stomped onto the stage to the soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York.  I say stomped because on his feet he was wearing three foot long rectangular wooden boxes painted to look like Cadillacs.  While Frank crooned he hopped around doing a ridiculous straight legged dance that the audience seemed to enjoy.  Just as the choreography was getting, old the lights dimmed and all of the windows in the New York skyline – lit up.  The crowd loved it.  As the song reached its famous crescendo, “If I can make it there…” the lights dimmed even more and the headlights of the Cadillacs lit and started spinning – disco style – in the front of his box shoes.  The audience went absolutely wild.

After the show the Comedy Store manager Kim Kinny said to the guy, “This is not really our kind of act but I can’t ignore that response.  Call me and I’ll book you in for a regular spot.”

The guy replied, “No thanks, I’m not interested.  I just wanted to see if I could do it.”

A legendary act – then poof – he’s gone.

Sanity has returned, Shadowmagic is no. 24

20,August, 2009

OK, it looks like sanity has returned.  An hour after telling everyone I was the no 4 – Most Read Book This Week on  Word must have gotten back to the Bookarmy website programmer.  I can imagine him spitting Doritos as he shouted, “What the…”

Bookarmy logoSo Shadowmagic is now no. 27.  Still pretty respectable me thinks.  The two above me are: Lovely Bones and Slaughterhouse 5 and the two below me are:  The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Enders Game.

I’ve never read Lovely Bones but the other three are some of my all time favourites.

There is still time to sign up for bookarmy and rate your favourite books – hint hint.

No. 4 baby!

19,August, 2009

According to the four most read books this week are:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Shadowmagic by John Lenahan

How cool is that!

John L

The Comedy Store’s Only Standing O

11,August, 2009

I did a gig this weekend at the 99 Club in Leicester Square.  As soon as I walked down the stairs into what was once described as an “underground car park,” the memories flooded back – and not all of them were pleasant ones.  The 99 Club is in the same venue as the legendary Comedy Store.  In the 80’s and 90’s The Leicester Square Store was London’s top comedy club and as The Store’s biographer pointed out to me, I compered (MC-ed for you yanks) there more than anyone.

All of the comics for this weekend’s show were young pups in their 20s.  When they finally figured out who I was, I regaled them with old stories about The Store in its heyday.   Now you have to realize that I worked there with almost every great comedian that that generation produced in the UK.  Eddy Izard, Robin Williams, Jack Dee, Julian Clary, Jo brand, Mark Thomas, Charles Flitcher, Bill Hicks, Emo Phillips, Denis Leary, Mike Myers, Harry Hill,  Bob Mills, Bill Bayley,  and a zillion other great comics that you may not have heard of.  But in all of that time, I told them, I only ever saw one standing ovation.

Compering a weekend at the Store was a grind.  One show on Thursday and two shows on Friday and Saturday.  By the time the proper Saturday night midnight set was finished, it was 2:30 in the morning – but the show was not over.  That was when the Open Spots started.  Anybody could then get on stage and try-out a five minute set – anybody.  It was a snake pit.  In those days The Store was one of the few places in the West End to have a late liquor licence.  Most of the audience was there just for the drinking.  And since the Tube shut down at midnight, they were drunks that didn’t care how they got home.  Almost every comic of my age will tell you a tale of the crucifixion that they received in front of an audience that 300 years earlier would have been called a lynch mob.

One night a short young man with a mop of sandy hear waited in the dressing room.  He stood out from all of the other soon to be slaughtered hopefuls because he wasn’t at all nervous – he almost seemed sedated.  When you spoke to him his eyes focused through you at something behind your head.  His name, I remember, was Tony he said he was an impressionist.  His only request was that there was a chair on the stage.

I introduced him and the audience, upon seeing him, actually settled down a bit – so un-human was his countenance. He placed on the chair a piece of paper that had his act written on it (that’s why he wanted the chair) and did his first impression.

“Nice to see you, nice to see you nice,” he said doing a god awful impression of a famous old school British TV host.  (For you Americans it was the equivalent of someone saying “We have a really good shew,” badly impersonating Ed Sullivan.)  The audience at once realized two things: first that this guy was really, really bad and secondly he didn’t know he was bad.  It had been a long ,rough night.  Even the professional acts had had a tough time with this audience.  The crowd was drunk and tired and they did something that I never saw an audience do before – they instantly and collectively – took the piss.  They broke into a round of cheering and applause that was louder and more enthusiastic than any of the paid acts had previously received on the night.  It went on for so long that Tony had to hold his hands up to quiet them down.  His next impression (and I kid you not) was Jimmy Cagey.  “You dirty rat.”  The crowd went wild!  He continued with about five more really horrible three word impressions of mostly dead celebrities like, Tommy Cooper,  “Juzt like that.” And when he finished the audience – as one –stood and started chanting his name.  It was the cruellest and funniest thing I had ever seen.

I got on stage and tried to introduce the next open spot but the audience wouldn’t sit down.  They continued to clap and chant, Tony, Tony!”  I finally had no choice but to bring him on for an encore.  Tony wandered back on stage, with his rabbit in the headlights stare, placed his piece of paper back on the chair and… he started over again with the same impressions. The crowd went absolutely berserk!  He went through his entire set again and I had no choice but to bring him on a third time.  He would have gotten another encore if I hadn’t stepped on stage (tears where now on my cheeks from laughing so hard) and told the audience that they “should be ashamed of themselves.”  We cancelled all the rest of the open spots and ended the show – there was no following that.

Afterwards Tony seemed completely unaware that anything unusual had happened.  He was as blank as he had been before he stepped on stage.  Kim, who was the manager of The Store back then, spoke to him and said, “I have no idea what just happened up there but I’ve never seen a reaction like it, so I have to book you – call me.”

Tony left and never did call.


More of me talking about… well, me.

7,August, 2009

From here’s me spouting on about marketing a book in the Internet age.  I should have combed my hair.

me about me

Lenahan on the Radio

24,July, 2009

There’s actually a radio show (and a podcast) about magic here in the UK.  Host Matt Duggin asked me on and what a lovely time I had.  Listen to my interview here:

Shadowmagic in Paperback Aug. 6th

26,May, 2009

Shadowmagic is out in paperback here in the UK on August 6th.   Here’s the new cover.paperback cover


I’ve been brainstorming about ways to drum up publicity.  The other day it occurred to me that since I got my publishing deal by podcasting on the internet, that maybe the science and technology sections of the newspapers would be interested.  Also the readers of tech sections probably read more fantasy then the readers of the book/arts section.  I decided to call the London Time’s technology editor and try to pitch him a story.

The Time’s switchboard put me through to the Tech Department.  A woman answered and I went straight into my spiel.  “Hello I’m John Lenahan.  I’m the author of a novel that at first no publisher was interested in and then I podcasted it on the net and …”  I went on like this for about four minutes.  She periodically tried to stop me but I plowed forward. 

Finally she said. “This is the tech department.” 

I explained that I knew that and told her that I felt the tech readers were more my audience than the arts readers. 

That’s when she said, “You don’t understand, this is the tech department.  We’re the people you call if your computer stops working or you spill coffee on your keyboard – but good luck with your book.”

Tarzan of the E-Reader

25,May, 2009

As Tarzan walked down the wild canon beneath the brilliant African moon the call of the jungle was strong upon him. The solitude and the savage freedom filled his heart with life and buoyancy. Again he was Tarzan of the Apes—every sense alert against the chance of surprise by some jungle enemy—yet treading lightly and with head erect, in proud consciousness of his might.


Thus begins Chapter 10 of Tarzan Returns by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I just finished reading it on my new toy, The Sony Reader eBook, PRS-505S. sony reader I know I’ve jumped the technological gun and really should have waited until there was more e-book readers out there to choose from but my luddite neighbor got one and I just couldn’t stand to be technologically inferior. 

Saying that – I love it.  I might even prefer it to paper. has almost every book that is out of copyright on their site and I’m catching up on classics.  I had read Tarzan a couple of years ago and was impressed and delighted with an unexpected story not about savagery but cultural sophistication.  (It also has a cracking ending.)  The sequel is no less a delight. 

This is not Shakespeare.  Burroughs was one of the founding fathers of pulp fiction but if you have read me, then you know I consider pulp fiction a high art.  I often worry in my novels about improbable coincidences but Burrows obviously didn’t lose any sleep over that.  In The Return of, Tarzan is pitched overboard from a cruise ship.  In the middle of the ocean he finds a sunken wreck and recovers a lifeboat.  He then rows to the same African beach where his old hut is!  Two weeks later Jane, on a different boat, shipwrecks only a mile away. 

But it doesn’t matter.  The book is a romping joy to read – as is the Sony Reader.  Buy one and catch up on all of that: Twain, Austin, London, Melville, Bronte, Doyle, Baum, Stoker, Dickens etc, for free.

I’m reading Jack London’s, White Fang at the moment – wow – kids books were rough back in the day.


John L

Who needs David Attenborough?

24,May, 2009

Who needs David Attenborough when you have this kind of drama in the back yard?


vixenSidney & vixenBurt and vixenLongtime readers of this blog will remember that the beast fighting with the vixen is my cat Burt.  I was cheering for the vixen.   They both back down.