Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ne’er cast a cloot till May is oot

There is an old Scottish saying ‘Ne’er cast a cloot till May is oot’ which means don’t throw off warm clothes until the month of May ends and how true it is.
I have been in London for a few days and the weather was bitterly wet and cold. I decided I needed a warm hat as I left my tawny Tammy bonnet behind in Glasgow.

The shops on Kensington High Street were full of spring flowers, mannequin’s semi naked in strapless frocks and giant photo images of young women lying beside rivers in a sunhat and see through top. I want to know who these people are and what country do they retailers actually think they are in? AND who decides that ‘spring’ is a time for flip flops and bra-less gypsy tops? NOT in the UK it isn’t…and never has been to my knowledge….we are damn lucky we get enough sun in the middle of July for that type of fabric and fashion and even then it only lasts about three days maximum!

I needed a bloody woolly hat to stop my scalp from freezing off Shackelton – style, the ice cold wind blew the dustbins right onto the main road and the bus stop at Kensington Palace looked like it was hosting a Chinese fan dance as women spun gaily coloured umbrella’s around as they tried to pop them back into shape. The rain slashed sideways at the tourists who stood beside the huge poster outside GAP of a young woman in a cotton bikini blinking against the sun!

I went into every single major retailer along that busy road and NOT ONE of them sold a woolly hat. They had tiny cotton dresses with spaghetti straps, they had brightly coloured cotton wraps to wear on a beach, they had white linen shorts and pink tasselled sandals, and they had straw hats and baby pink cotton hats, but nothing with wool or anything that would be warm. I stomped out angrily into the biting wind and rain.

Finally I found a stall on wheels next to the park that sold tacky Union Jack crap, and London street signs on tee shirts…you know what I mean… and bought a woolly hat from the man who didn’t speak a word of English but at least he understood our weather system. It snugly fitted my head, kept my ears warm and made me happy! Then I went back to H&M and bought a strappy dress for my visit to LA in June as that’s the ONLY place I could be hot enough to wear it.

London had been awesome, I did a wee gig in Kingston and Michael McIntyre came along and did 6 minutes, it’s a great wee gig, they had the famous American comedian Robin Williams there one night trying out new stuff. They tend to get really big names turn up to do a few minutes to try out stuff…its awesome.

I also managed to record the pilot of my radio show for radio 4 and that was great fun, it seems to take forever getting things done but I am happy we got it down now.
I am off soon to Canada to do the gigs at Yuk-Yuks comedy clubs in Toronto, am excited and bringing my woolly hat and strappy dress just to cover all bases of weather!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life is happening all around us

Except in my niece Ann Margaret’s house where the hamster has died. Wee Abi aged 6 was distraught, she donned a big pair of black sunglasses, clutched a single daisy and clattered downstairs in cheap childish girly high heels and stood mourning at the burial of the hamster. She did a whole big Betty Davis performance of anguish and pain, before throwing herself onto the freshly turned earth screaming “I miss you baby”

Julia aged three merely shrugged and said “don’t worry it will be back” in a voice that suggested she may dig it up and place it’s rotten corpse on Abi’s bed in a Godfather-esque way to warn her off from touching Julia’s chunky glitter crayons.

The minute the girls were dragged upstairs Ann Margaret looked out the window and spotted a fox dragging the dead hamster away between its sharp teeth, leaving behind a gaping hole and a mangled daisy.

Life in my house is fine…I had my one woman show at Tron Theatre; it was a sell out and was good!
Probably sold out due to the fact that lovely Simon Pegg had tweeted and tweeted info about the show- the man is not only Scotty in Star Trek- he is a GOD in GODLEY world for doing that.

This weekend I am presenting an award at the Scottish Variety Awards and on Monday am off to London for meetings and recordings etc…so life is just chugging along.

Ashley and I are excited about our kid’s show we are doing at Edinburgh Fringe. I am still off the fags and happy as hell about that.

Husband took me shopping to the giant retail park Silverburn and did the ‘man’ thing where he took off at a tangent in the direction of electronic shops as they don’t annoy him he despised clothes shops.

It’s just a thing he hates, just wandering like a lost soul between rows and rows of ladies tops make him grumpy and me punchy.
I spotted a neon yellow/black checked funky dress that I thought Ashley would love; it had wee puff sleeves and a swirly skirt at the bottom.

I bought it, took it home, pulled it out the bag and said “this is like something out of Glee; you know the lead girl always wears kooky clothes? Well you might like this”

Ashley actually screamed and said “that is hideous and may incite epilepsy in folk, what the fuck made you think I would wear that God awful horrible frock?”

I made it her put it on and I took photos, she looked either Punk Amish or neon Little House on The Prairie- either way it was totally insidious. Its official I am not a Personal Shopper with unique taste and style, I am a middle aged mum with no sense of colour/fabric/style.

I also bought myself a dress in clingy fabric the colours of a battered parrot- there are slashes of bright green, yellow- with red dots, Ashley said it looked like someone had vomited up a clown onto bri-nylon.

When I tried it on the wrap around front over emphasised my breasts to the point where it was basically ‘reader’s wives’ for inner city mental patients.

I realise that this might be the onset of my menopause, some women get flushes, I get colour blind and the added bonus of the fashion sense of Sue Pollard.

I need to take it all back to the shops.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blog from me to you

Been a strange week as usual, me and Ashley attended the Woman of Influence ball at the Hilton Glasgow. Ashley loved it- she normally hates these things and says stuff like “Mum, this is like that film Cocoon all these old people are waiting to scoop my youthful soul out” but this event was actually lovely and we are both at The Scottish Variety Awards this coming Friday as I am presenting an award there.

Am still off the fags, don’t want to talk about it too much as no doubt I will fall off the non smoking wagon again and look like a dick.
The Glasgow Comedy Festival has been going great guns and I saw some cracking comics. My own show is this Thursday 25th at Tron Theatre, am excited indeedy!

Been busy getting my posters done for Edinburgh Fringe, as you all know I am doing two shows this year- a comedy myself and a kids show with Ashley at the Pleasance Dome!

Ashley and I also have been up at my dads helping with his garden, well I say helping, my dad just handed power tools and a rake to us and buggered off inside! Ashley by the way is allergic to all flora, fauna and trees…so her eyes were bulgy – yet she managed to trim hedges clear undergrowth and pull down a big jaggy thing which we weren’t sure was a plant or a thingy…it looked dead is all I am saying.

My job was to rake up all the dead shit and put it in a bag, but every time I tried to lift it up small insects came flying, flapping and diving at me so screaming and screaming was all I could manage. I hate beasties.

Dad is deaf so the screaming didn’t affect him and Ashley was using a big power chopper and couldn’t hear me.

Then she stopped, screamed and pointed behind a big bush. I ran over…”What is it?” I yelled.

“Mum, there is something down there with eyes, it looked at me” she clutched her mouth in horror. She leaned over and pulled out a clay figure of a squirrel with boggly woggly eyes that dad must have bought in the garden centre years ago, it had fallen off the wall and lay in the hedgerow for years.

I didn’t manage to get all the dead leaves etc into bin bags so decided to gather it all up into one big giant mess and declare it organic waste which will over time somehow melt down into the grass…I know it can happen I saw it once in a cartoon. Dad merely opened a hatch in the fence at the bottom of the garden and shoved it all out onto the hill and it tumbled down onto the dense woodland that is behind his house.

“That’s called recycling” he said and walked away quite happy with himself.

Monday, March 15, 2010

After Dinner Speakers

People who get together at an event and hire an after dinner speaker for a wad load of cash deserve a good night. I am not writing here to berate the after dinner speakers circuit- I won after Dinner Speaker of The Year and beat 9 men to the title. I like after dinner speaking, to me it’s a way of doing comedy in a nice dress to people who normally wouldn’t come out to a comedy club and hopefully giving them a taste for it.

What I have encountered is basically horrendous!

I am usually on with two other men, in suits, who get up with a clutch of cards in their hands and launch into 30 minutes of old material which is peppered with gross sexist, racist and unbelievably dull comedy that they either got off the internet or swapped with another speaker. The audience are usually full of nice business people who ask me things like ‘as a woman comic do you swear?’ but they don’t hesitate to laugh out loud at the joke about ‘my mother only had two kids because she was told every third child born is Chinese’ that the bloke read out of his hands.

Its seems to me that the after dinner speakers circuit is alive with misogyny, despite me winning the top award- (that was down to the audience in the hall that night – they voted for me – not the men in suits).

What amazes me is that I haven’t encountered one after dinner speaker man who had written his own material, I believe that if you ‘own’ a joke or story and made it up yourself you wouldn’t naturally peddle racist, sexist stuff. But because they get this crap material off other old comics or the internet- they don’t seem to think its offensive as they know its been told before over and over again- so to them it MUST be ok, if people keep saying it and people keep laughing at it!

The other thing that stuns me is after dinner speakers are usually professional men in a self employed capacity, they usually own a small company – surely they know what is offensive, sexist and racist as in their line of work? They must know that material that comes out of their mouth is basically a sacking offensive and would have them in court with the equal opportunities people if it was repeated by them in the workplace!

The majority of after dinner speakers are men who used to be involved in sport, and they are usually the worst offenders of the sexist, racist ancient material.
My gripe is this, people come to an event and are sometimes faced with an after dinner speaker who spouts rot to them whilst dressed in a nice suit, he eats their food, takes their cash and heads off, some people will never want to listen to comedy ever again after that experience!

When I do after dinner speaking, I just do a comedy set and tailor it to the event. Most times I don’t swear, I just do stand up comedy, original, funny and relaxed without bullet points on cards to lead me through the night. I make eye contact and tell funny stories that don’t involve hiring prostitutes, or do material about how women hate men and wont give them sex, or jokes about black people who can’t golf/ski or horse ride (really! – yes I have heard that joke 6 times now).

So come on after dinner speakers, step up to the plate, stop peddling other people’s jokes, stop being old school racists, throw down your bullet point cards, loosen your tie, be innovative and create a comedy set worth the two grand you demand from an event company! Be FUNNY!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Glasgow Comedy Festival 2010

Yes, it has begun and I love the festival in my wee home town. Comedy is very much a Glaswegian thing; we just seem to be a funny bunch of folk in Glasgow, which isn’t to say people from Dumfries, Hawick or Prestonpans aren’t inherently funny, but well…are they? We in Glasgow are the kind of people who can turn a queue at a bus stop into a comedy gig, and that my friend is something I have never seen in London or elsewhere!

My one woman show is at The Tron Theatre on Thursday 25th March you can get tickets here I would love to see you there!

Last night I headed down to The Stand in Glasgow and watched the amazing Benjamin Crellin, he is a Kiwi comic mate of mine from New Zealand and Ben’s stuff always makes me smile from the inside out- very clever and interesting comedy juice flows out of him.

There are heaps of big TV names coming to Glasgow and that’s nice but it’s always good to go watch a comic who doesn’t have a huge profile yet and you can be the first to say you say him/her in a basement gig in Glasgow.

The weather in Glasgow has been lovely actually; really sunny but dry and cold, just the way I like it. I am still off the fags (I hear you groan AGAIN!) yes, bloody again and this time I am also embarking on a keep fit regime to help me lose weight and get my mojo back. I am carrying three stones too much weight and no wonder I am always tired, it must be like dragging 14 bags of potatoes on my skeleton every time I climb stairs!

I am currently getting everything ready for the Edinburgh Fringe and am doing two shows this year, one is a kid’s show with my daughter Ashley and one is my own comedy show at night. The sheer amount of form filling is dementing for me- and don’t even start me on how many hundreds of pounds each brochure entry needs, and how much every adverts costs, its basically a big rip off by people who will always have a demand – probably never before have you witnessed a rush to by advert space like there is with the Fringe Brochures! No sales team needed to cold call and convince people they need an advert! No, just a till and credit card machine that gobbles up the cash in Edinburgh as the money comes rolling in.

Yet – I still do it every year. I do love the festival and I enjoy it in stress free way other people get mad about. But then I am someone who used to work 16 hours a day in a bar for 15 years so – working two hours a day on two shows is basically a holiday!

Enjoy the Glasgow comedy festival and do come to the Tron if you fancy a night out with me and my lovely audience. Janey

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Liverpool looks good

Been ages since I have been to Liverpool and my GOD it has changed beyond some recognition- big flashy shops and a weird area just full of expansive expensive shops like an LA mall or something. But it is lovely and that’s cracking, though I don’t understand why building big concrete shopping museums as a way of regenerating a city is helpful- but am not educated in inner city regeneration, so what the hell do I know?

I am staying in lovely flash serviced apartments; it really is so awesome-but the doors bother me. They are HUGE doors and all marbled flooring throughout. The doors on my flat don’t have a chain or lock, just a plastic card with numbers in indelible ink crudely scrawled over it, then scored out and rewritten. You just hold the plastic card against the door and it unlocks, so when I am in bed I worried I couldn’t lock my door, so I put a metal grill pan handle I found in the massive kitchen (which is beautiful) and balanced it on the handle so if anyone opened my door that metal handle would clatter to the marble floor and alert me of the intruder. I thought of balancing a big kitchen knife but that would have just given the intruder something to attack me with.

Yes, I may be paranoid, but…as it turns out the two other flats on the marble landing were inhabited by a big group of people who constantly knocked, banged and slammed loudly each others doors from 7am in the morning.

To be fair, it’s not their fault that the doors automatically slam loudly behind them, but the noise is like a gun going off and at one point the doors slammed eight times in succession around 8am. The vibrations of the door slamming knocked the grill handle onto the marble floor and I nearly wet the bed.

After the 18th knocking and slamming of the doors, I opened my door and asked the young lady if she could possibly try and not let the big door banging happen as she entered the flat (how can she not hear it?) and she agreed, walked in and let the door bang behind her. I conceded defeat and tried to sleep as the noise of cannon fire door slamming continued. I wonder why people who spend so much money on creating these flats didn’t sit back and think, ‘Those doors slam loudly, they are bigger than normal doors and the marble floors resonate the noise, maybe we should put something on the door hinges to delay the closing like they do in hotels?’

They didn’t think that at all- they built giant shopping malls instead.
I sound very moody, but I have been trying to sleep since 7am!

The new club in Liverpool is called Comedy hell (a strange name) and it is really lovely. The seating is all fixed to the floor and the bloke who runs it is delightfully lovely. The downside is some noise of the upstairs bar’s music does leak into the room later on as the night wears on.
That is something that can be fixed but all in all it’s a great room.

Just fix the doors please on the serviced apartments please? Give us a chain to assure us of security, give us some gadget that stops the giant doors from banging behind us and let me sleep?

So that was Liverpool, I headed home on the train to Glasgow, which needed a first class upgrade as the train was mobbed. On £15 but with no free tea or lovely free sandwiches, there was free nothing as the catering bit was broke. But what we did get for free was a young bloke verbally and possibly attacking a seven year old boy outside the toilets. I did intervene, I did challenge him and it seems I couldn’t prove he was hitting the boy. He didn’t like being confronted by me and sometimes when you get involved with a bully and pull them up in public, they go away and beat their victims more so in private.

Anyway I have stopped smoking and am on diet.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

My week so far

“Don’t let the cat lick your eyelashes” my great niece Abi shouted.
There was no danger of me letting her evil cat near my face; it has the temperament of Naomi Campbell on one of her hormonal days.

I have never known such a moody cat in my life. Seriously it goes into attack mode from the far end of the hall when it sees me and it regularly cuddles up to the kids then turns on them. It’s stopped using its nails on them and basically boxes their wee cheeks with its pads…but the intention is still there.

I do love going over to see Abi, Shaun and Julia but Myra Hindley the cat always manages to have a go at me for no reason and I LOVE CATS…yet it still resists my cat luring charms.

I think it’s slightly mental.

Anyway had fun seeing Ann Mags and the kids- their house is always chaotic when I arrive and this visit was no different. Julia was doing tumbles and banging her spine off the coffee table, Shaun was clattering all over the hall with a ball and Abi was dragging the rabbit out of its hutch as Bitey McStabby the cat was being all autistic and hissing at the light bulb. Ann Mags (their mum) was in the kitchen fighting on the phone with the gas people who apparently ‘broke into’ her house when she was out, they changed the meter and left a note to say they had kicked in her door and changed the locks and gave her new keys!

Yes, they can do that for no good reason…I was surprised Hitler the Cat let them in the bloody door. So whilst she was screaming at the gas people about her rights, the kids and all their animals took the opportunity to go crazy when I was trying to calm them down. The rabbit was banging on its cage door, the hamster was doing strange upside down tricks and the doorbell didn’t stop with a stream of visitors for the kids.

I was exhausted just standing there watching it all.

In am off to London this weekend to do a gig at Shepherds Bush Empire and then onto Liverpool to do two shows at Lenny’s comedy gig.

Travelling is my favourite thing but am tired and my hair is going through its abstract period and my skin thinks I am fifteen and has decided to have an acne breakout.
Good news is…I am off to LA in June to catch up with old pals and meetings – I love LA more than I ever imagined I would. So am all giddy with excitement.

I still have to get through all the process of organising my Edinburgh Fringe shows, and perform at Glasgow Comedy festival on 25th March at Tron Theatre in Glasgow (still tickets for sale) and the Soho Theatre in London on April 29th/30th and 1st May.

Life is a wee bit mental but at least I don’t have Peter Sutcliffe the Cat in my hallway waiting to slash me on my way to the loo.