Sunday, 25 November 2007

Broderick's Sunday Special #7: Martin Amis - still a twat

Saturday, 24/11/07

The Martin Amis: Racist or just a bigot? debate rages on. Ronan Bennett publishes a column in which he takes Amis to task. Christopher Hitchens retorts. For those of you who are just joining the debate, let me briefly, but rationally, sum up both sides: Martin Amis is a racist.

All hilarity aside, however, this week I did write a letter to The Guardian in response to Hitchens' article "Martin Amis is no racist." Last time I wrote into the Guardian I was expressing my indignity after a well-known British circuit comedian with a G2 column stole several lines verbatim from Margaret Cho's concert DVD I'm The One That I Want. Brazen as you like! I called for her to be taken to criminal court. They didn't respond.

This week I write the following:

Dear Editor,

Re: Martin Amis is no racist - Christopher Hitchens - G2 - 21/11/07 pg 10-11

I am not going to weigh in regarding whether or not Martin Amis is a racist. His views certainly had racist overtones and were distasteful, but in the multitude of shifting contexts it is important that they are aired and debated. However, whether or not he is a racist, Martin Amis will always be the author of Yellow Dog, and for that deserves no less than to be locked in a perspex box filled with fire ants for the rest of his curmudgeonly days. The Eagleton v. Amis dust-up has unfortunately drawn attention away from the real issue: debating whether or not Amis' books have any merit or are simply the literary equivalent of serving up a dog turd on a fancy square plate. I have gotten less pleasure from reading Amis' novels than I have from being puked on by children on long-haul flights.

They don't print the letter.

The only reason I can think for this is that Charlie Brooker somehow got a hold of my letter and saw its comic GENIUS as a threat to his job as writer of Screen Burn, and subsequently had all trace of it destroyed.

Yes. I'm certain that's what happened.

Sunday, 25/11/07

I ride my bike from Cricklewood to Belsize Park. I'm dressed in shirt and sweater vest, woolen blazer and comfy scarf. This is wonderful!, I think, pedaling down Mill Lane. This is exactly how I'd behave on a Sunday if I were a famous writer! Only I'd be carrying my laptop down to the local French cafe and languidly tapping out a second draft of a brilliant, Miranda July-esque short story, not about to start a double shift at a sushi restaurant.

I stop at Starbucks. I'm going to have a Starbucks!, I think, perkily. I go inside and join the extra long queue. Venti-sized queue, if you will. No matter, I shout inside my own head, I have loads of time!

Starbucks is an armageddon of screaming middle class children. A boy is removing the lids of all the travel mugs, spitting inside, and replacing said lid. A barista comes along the line to take our order in advance of us reaching the cashiers, as one might in a queue at immigration, or hospital.

"Can I take the next drink order?" she says to the couple in front of me. They aren't listening. They're talking about whether their front room should be painted "mushroom." What a stupid name for a colour, I think, mushrooms can be anything from black to red. Sometimes blue. "Can I take your drink order," the barista says again. I interrupt them. "Excuse me, I think this lady is asking if you'd like any drinks," I say, politely. The man looks at me as if I'd kicked his grandmother's wheelchair off a cliff. "Two extra shot soy lattes!" he snaps at the barista, affronted by the fact his mushroom tete-a-tete has been interrupted.

Behind me the mother of the kid who's been befouling the travel mugs struggles to keep him in line. She's cutting in front of me as he wails. (He wants a pastry, probably a limited edition Starbucks Christmas Cranberry one). The mother turns to me. "Was I in front of you or behind you? I don't remember."

"You don't remember? That's very weird. Well, I was behind these people," cheeky, horrible woman, I think. Just because she has kids she thinks she can have cuts.

She ducks behind me. "Excuse me," says the man who used to be behind me, "You just cut in front of me!" A full scale row explodes behind me.

Why are people so rude in Britain? my subconscious wails. We're waiting for our drinks now, me and the interior design loving posh twats. "Two extra shot soy lattes!" the drinks-maker says, plunking two paper cups down on the counter.

Watch this, I think, I'll bet he won't even say thank you. His sour-faced wife won't so much as look at people serving her. If I had telekinesis, I'd make their house, their stupid mushroom-coloured house, burn to the ground.

Go on... FLAME ON! I think, furiously.

I look at the man. A panicked look crosses his face. "Thank you very much," he says to the barista.

Puzzled, I collect my drink and leave the store. As I unlock my bicycle I can smell burning wood in the air. It smells like Christmas.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Somerfield; or the miracle of market research


My local supermarket, Somerfield, has recently replaced their ubiquitous plastic basket, that symbol of global standardization, with a new and improved basket, twice as deep, and tapered on the bottom. It’s like shopping with a gardening bucket. I’m sure the tapered design was meant to echo the straw panniers of French markets, allowing loose vegetables to spill gloriously over the edges like Nigella Lawson’s naughty bath fantasies, however, all it does is make it exceedingly difficult for the people of Cricklewood to balance their fish fingers on their chicken kievs. Best, or worst, of all is what I imagine these research and development geniuses consider the coup d’etat: an extendable handle and set of wheels, which allows this new wonder-bucket to be placed on the floor and dragged along like a cosmopolitan Louis Vuitton luggage set, or an old lady shopping trolley.

I’m in Somerfield, doing a weekly shop. I do pride myself on being able to handle change, but I cannot handle this. For one thing, the shopping bucket’s elegant tapered design tapers to a point the size of a mouse’s testicle, meaning that the first part of my shopping ritual is already spoiled. Generally, I go first to the newspaper rack and take a copy of the Guardian. It’s excellent berliner format fit the dimensions of the standard shopping basket precisely, and I would lay the Guardian down on the bottom of the basket, like a bird lining its nest. What am I supposed to do this time? I think. “Well I suppose,” I mumble to myself, and roll the newspaper up. Polly Toynbee’s sensible face will be creased like a drying dish towel now, I think, and something irrevocably dies inside me.

It gets worse. The new shopping buckets are twice as heavy as the old ones, which I imagine is the consequence of R&D geniuses trying to force people to use their slick wheelie trolley design: “lets put these lead weights in strategic and unbalanced places so that not only will old ladies not want to carry the basket in their hands, it’ll break all their bones if they try to! Yayyy!!!!” Tossers.

But I refuse to play their game. I’m a twenty-five year old man, I’m not prepared to wheel around my shopping bucket like I’m acknowledging the unstoppable approach of Senor Death. Fuck that. So I shop, defiantly, basket in hand, vegetables, meats and cheeses stacking upon each other like the world’s worst game of Tetris. But it gets even worse. The extra long size of the bucket, while not actually accommodating extra goods due to its patented mouse-testicle taper, means that the edge of the bucket bashes into your knees with every step you take. As you set off on your weekly shopping adventure, it’s merely frustrating. Later, when the bucket is filled to the brim and rather heavy, it’s agonizing. I must be bruising, I think, I bruise very easily, after all… that’s what people say all the time, isn’t it? Maybe I don’t bruise easily. But I’ll bet I’m bruising now. Maybe I could show my bruise to the checkout lady and get a bit of a discount.

“That’s it!” I suddenly cry. “I’m doing it, I don’t care!” I put the basket on the floor, extend the handle and wheel forward. A thousand angels sing; it’s heaven. This, I think, is the glory of the aged. I feel the years pile on to me and a grin spread on my face as I wheel my basket to the checkout. Good times up ahead, everybody.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Broderick's MONDAY Special #6: Celebrity

A belated column to celebrate Bonfire Night.

++++

It's becoming increasingly cliched to take swipes at celebrities. They're easy targets, after all, like overfed ducklings. This week it was reported that Heather Mills-ex-McCartney has decided to design a line of furniture. Now, I could take up precious space making an easy joke about what a stupid business choice that is, because no one wants to buy a range of furniture where one leg is always shorter than the others, but I won't.

But I will tell you this. I was having my hair cut last week at this place called The Men's Lounge, which is basically like what an old fashioned working men's barbershop would look like if it was inside John Barrowman's ass. It's very pretentious. But they do have free beer, and Playstation 3. Although all they seem to play is FIFA World Cup (that's football). I've tried to get them to get something I'd be interested in, like Metroid, or Legend of Zelda, but I don't think that fits with their image.

Anyways, I'm getting my hair cut, enjoying my hairdresser's calming, dulcet tones, like a wave crashing against a duvet cover. We're talking about my fascinating work at the sushi restaurant. I am relaxed.

This is good. Since an early age I have always been petrified of haircuts. This, I believe, is due to:

a) a worry that cutting my hair will rob me of my virility
b) seeing a kid run screaming out of Richmond Barbers with a bloody rag cupped over his dripping, incarnadine ear at the age of 5.

But this dude's good. I'm totally at ease. The conversation turns to the fact that there's a sushi restaurant next door to The Men's Lounge.

'Yeah, it's pretty depressing inside,' he says, like a caramel voiced pigeon, 'but there's good sushi.'

'And,' he continues, 'you know who I saw in there the other day? Fuckin' Heather Mills-McCartney!'

'Really?' I'm skeptical, mostly because eating inside that sushi restaurant would be like eating inside an onboard toilet on a bus. But filthier.

'Was she with other people?'

'Nah, just by herself. I had to do a bit of a double take. She wasn't even reading a book or newspaper or anything. Just staring out the window with her dead zombie eyes.'

'That's very sad.'

'You're telling me. You'd think she'd be in Nobu. Hey, did you see her flip out on GMTV?'

The haircut's over. I look like a fuzzier version of myself. I hand over my money and put on my coat. I've left a good tip.

'See ya next time, B,' he says.

Then I realize. I have no idea what this man's name is. I've been getting my hair cut here for nearly a year, in twelve monthly installments, and I have no idea what his name is. Not even a first letter, or number of syllables. Blind panic strikes me. He knows my name, in fact, knows it well enough to forgo the use of all but the first letter of it! But I have to phone in and give over my name to get an appointment. That's why he knows my name! That's cheating!

Did he ever introduce himself? Maybe he never even said his name. What does he have to hide? Or, oh god, what if this is another one of those things where I can't understand what people are saying because the English accent is so thick!

I've been stood there, grinning, for a significant length of time. 'Yeah, uh, see you later... You!'

Triumphantly, I walk away.

I have to find a new hairdresser now, because next time, that bleeding ear'll be mine.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Broderick's Sunday Special #5 - Bureaucracy

I'm riding my bicycle to the British Library on a beautiful afternoon. The BL has an enormous modernist courtyard, including a statue of great majesty (a naked robot using a compass), coffee shop, and ample bicycle parking. From Ossulston St to the bicycle parking there is a 10 metre (barely) stretch on which you are meant to walk your bike. I usually do get off and walk.

Today however, there is no one at all by the bike racks but for one older man, also locking up his bike, basket and all. How elegant it would be to glide up gently to a parking space, I think.

No sooner than both wheels have rolled off the vehicular asphalt onto the rust-coloured modernist courtyard, do I hear the old man say in a loud, American voice: 'You're supposed to walk your bike here!'

I'm in the wrong, of course, legally, but the old codger is being completely unreasonable.

'All right,' I say, and for emphasis, 'chill.'

He shoots me a dirty look. 'Well, you are!' He shouts, like a two-year old child. I burst out laughing.

'Oh yeah,' I say, 'I'm sorry, it's just... I don't really speak English.'

I go back to locking up my bike, giggling, and he scoffs at my impertinence. I leave him to ride away, pondering the state of young people today. I walk towards the entrance pondering the fact that judging from his childish outburst, he probably comes to the British Library to look up swear words in the dictionary.

++++

Inside the library, I have my bag searched and go downstairs to put my papers in a clear plastic bag, like liquids on an aeroplane, and check my bags and coat. I can deal with the bomb check at the door, and I've gotten used to the clear plastic bag security of the reading rooms (they're worried about pens and implements that will damage their books in the rooms, however, like M. Foucault theorized, this repression only make me want to rip the pages out of an ancient volume of Pepys diary in an orgy of flying onionskin and tropology).

I go to check my coat and bag. The cloakroom is a huge desk in the shape of a crescent moon. There is a velvet rope demarcating the entrance and exit of the queue. I am standing by the 'No Entrance' sign. There is no queue. I throw caution to the wind and enter the exit.

'Hello,' says the cloakroom attendant.

'Hello,' I say.

'That is an exit. It is clearly marked with "No Entrance."'

'Well, yes, I did see that. I just thought that since there is no queue, it would be perfectly fine. After all, the function of the velvet rope is the orderly management of a queue.'

'If you were driving,' he begins, ' and you went through a "No Entrance," you would be driving down a one-way street. Then you would be in trouble.'

I think about this. 'Not if there weren't any other cars coming the other day. I'd be fine.'

'The Metropolitan Police would have something to say about that.'

'Are you threatening to call the police?'

'A policy is a policy.'

I smack my forehead in frustration. 'Can I check my coat and bag please?'

'Yes. You are number 438.'

Thursday, 11 October 2007

I don't exaggerate...


The London Victoria service to Ramsgate and Dover Priory...

A toad-like woman sits opposite me on a train to Canterbury, staring at Page Three of the Sun Newspaper. Her equally elderly, but ogre-like husband adjusts his hearing aid beside her.

'Getta load of those!' she shrieks, jabbing a sausage-like finger at the topless model's nipple.

'WHAT?' her husband bellows.

'Never mind. Turn your hearing aid up!'

'Ok,' he says, and does.

The man with the trolley stops beside them. 'Refreshments?'

'A small coffee, please,' the inflated crone belches beside me. She's clearly struggling to hold off from her usual order of six slices of Victoria sponge drenched in coffee creamer and butter, chased with a family-sized bucket of KFC.

'Coming right up! And how are you this morning?'

'Very well, thank you!'

The attendant looks at the elderly couple's suitcases. 'Going on a long trip, I see!'

'Oh no,' the woman replies, taking out a packet of raw bacon from her bag and sliding it down her gullet, rasher by rasher, 'we're just coming home from one, actually. We've been in Spain!'

'Spain! Ah, yes, Espana! Espana-Banana! Ah ha ha!'

'It was lovely.'

'I'll bet it was. That's £1.69 for the coffee, thank you.'

'Here you are,' and the woman hands over a five pound note, translucent with pork fat and Neutrogena hand cream.

'Your change, madam.'

'Just drop it in my bag,' she replies. Her hands are busy, you see, scooping out giant globules of full-fat mayonnaise from an economy-sized jar and stuffing into her gaping maw.

'Thank you, and you have a wonderful journey!'

And he goes. 'What a pleasant fellow,' says the bloated wife, spewing crumbs all over her husband's face, 'very cheerful.'

'Oh yes,' he replies, hearing aid now turned up.

'At least he speaks English. That's a plus.'

I look over.

Her husband is adjusting her hearing aid. 'WHAT?'

'I said, AT LEAST HE SPEAKS ENGLISH!'

I tut at them. They look over, then away. I'm trying to decide if they are wondering if I speak English or not.

I'm reading the Guardian.

Maybe I can read English but not speak it.

In my imagination, in my dreams of bravery, I am Beowulf. I ride on my Arabian Stallion to confront the enormous sea-hag, knock the family sized Toblerone from her hands and declaim like Richard Burton: 'Hear you, you racist, xenophobic, elephantine pile of carbuncular crap! Economic migrants contribute much to your fair society! Who do you think puts the mayonnaise in your jar, and the bacon in your fingers!? I demand you apologize to all of England, for thou art a tremendous knob-jockey!'

Obviously, she'd refuse to apologize, and I'd use my superpowers, which are similar to X-Man Jean Grey's, to shake apart her molecular structure, telepathically. She'd explode into dust. Beside her, her husband, looking out the window, would say, 'WHAT?'

But that doesn't happen. Instead, I raise my newspaper higher so they can't see my face. I decide that a spite-flecked written invective is a far more productive use of my time than learning telepathy. My mind starts wandering, questioning why my vision of my brave self began as Beowulf by way of Henry V, and turned into Jean Grey.

The toad-like woman opens her suitcase, pulls out a large cake with the words 'Happy Birthday Billy,' and a '5' frosted upon it, and smashes her face into it in an orgy of vacuum noises. I start giggling, and plot my written revenge.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Broderick's Sunday Special #4: Weekday Matinee

The woman walking down Tottenham Court Road, Starbucks coffee cup in one hand, Treo in the other, huge bag dangling from crook of the arm like a gladiator's shield, is clearly in a hurry. Her heels clip-clop on the pavement like an effeminate horse as she valiently, aggressively ignores the charity street fundraiser at her side. He's been following her for 100 yards now since she stepped into his Cylon-like field of vision outside We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre.

'The thing is, We (Heart) Poor People* tries to combat a growing problem in our society. Every year, more than TWELVE rough-sleepers end up spending the night on the street under poor quality newspapers!'

'Go away,' the woman says. She looks to her left and tries to cross the road. The traffic is too heavy. She's stuck with him.

'Do you know what it's like to sleep under the sun?'

'Yes, I was in Tunisia last summer. It was lovely.'

'I mean The Sun, the newspaper. It's hardly enough to cover the entire body! There's barely any content at all! You think topless women and unsubstantiated stories are enough to keep you warm at night?'

'No, I don't. Now please stop following me. I already give to a charity, in fact, to a charity that helps the homeless. I don't give change to homeless people but I do donate it to the Salvation Army. I don't need you following me around, talking my ear off. What could possibly have given you the idea that I wanted to engage you in extended conversation?'

'Well, you did say "hello."'

'I said "Aw, hell!" And then, "another fucking charity street fundraiser!"'

She's at the crosswalk now, and he, with his clipboard and dreadlocks, is looking at the ground.

'I just think it's an important issue.'

Her shoulders sag. 'I know it is. I just don't think it's appropriate for you to be so aggressive. There's no need to follow me. In fact, it's a little bit creepy. Plus, your dreads smell like sewage.'

'We just want all homeless people to have quality journalism to sleep under. Newspapers that cover all the issues... as well as their legs.'

'Fine. Here's 50 p. Leave me alone.'

'I don't want your change, madam, I'd like a commitment.'

Having reached the opposite side of the road, she turns around on him, eyes blazing. 'You listen to me, you smug sack of crap. White people shouldn't have dreadlocks. I should kill you where you stand for that alone. But I will ignore this. What I will not ignore is your following me for ten minutes that I missed my destination and will have to double back.'

There is a long pause. 'Where are you going?' he asks in a small voice.

'The cinema.'

'It's a bit back that way.'

'Thank you.'

'What are you going to see?'

'Ratatouille.'

'Would you like some company?'

'No.'

++++

I've been watching this ignoble display from afar, and I pull out my notebook, and pen and imagination working furiously, start scribbling it all down.

I have no problem with the things that charity street fundraisers stand for, but I dislike the fact that their very presence on the High Street reduces an important cause to a daily annoyance. How are we meant to trust that a charity will actually help the people they're meant to if their public face is a bunch of musty-smelling students with blond dreadlocks?

It does make for excellent weekday matinee entertainment, however. I'll pass on Ratatouille for now, until the DVD release, even if the voice of the rat is one of my favourite comedians, Patton Oswalt.

*Names of charities and actual causes have been exaggerated to protect privacy and increase entertainment value.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Sound of the Underground


I’m sitting on the Northern Line Northbound platform at Euston Station waiting nine minutes for the next Edgware train. I’m a little annoyed that it’s such a long wait, but I have my David Sedaris book to while away the time so I’m content.

A little old lady with a wheelie basket steps onto the platform. She looks at the bench I’m sitting on, sees my bag on the seat next to me and gives me a withering, old lady stare. I take the hint and put my shoulder bag onto my lap. The little old lady doesn’t sit down, however, she merely tuts and walks right up to but not an inch past the yellow line at the edge of the platform. She’s waiting for the High Barnet train. One minute. She opens her wheelie basket and takes out a foil wrapped chocolate biscuit, unwraps it and starts happily munching away, but as she does this, a Tesco carrier bag, which I can see has in it several Tupperware containers and the wrappers of more chocolate biscuits, falls out of her basket and rolls onto the platform, next to her feet.

‘Excuse me -’ I start, but she turns around with a look that would kill a child with a weak constitution.

‘You - you dropped something,’ I stammer.

The old lady tuts me again and turns to look as the High Barnet train approaches. It slows, then stops, and with a familiar ‘bing’ the doors slide open. There are plenty of empty seats. The little old lady looks triumphant and approaches the doors.

Her wheelie basket drags the carrier bag containing her Tupperware containers, the remnants of her lunch, towards the edge of the platform. She heaves the basket onto the train. I see her give a withering, child-killing stare to a young goth couple as she sits down and unwraps another chocolate biscuit.

The hard plastic containers are now caught between the edge of the platform and the train. I don’t know whether or not I should retrieve it. If the train starts up, I could get hurt! I feel terrible.

Not guilty that the little old lady’s lost a bunch of Tupperware, but more like, ‘now the stuff’s going to be pulled under the train onto the track and the train’s going to explode and kill us all.

The doors close. A vision fills my head. The train stalls over the Tupperware and biscuit wrappers. Sparks fly. Suddenly, there’s a huge bang as the train splits apart, metal, glass and copies of the London Lite careering through the air. People are screaming and cleaving to each other, nuns finger rosaries and whisper Hail Marys, and the little old lady just looks self-satisfied and smug at getting a seat before she’s engulfed in a fiery inferno. A huge explosion follows and I am showered with the lady’s foil wrappers, Rich Tea Biscuit crumbs and bits of boiled egg and cabbage before the train door flies off the carriage and smushes my handsome young face into a paste against the wall.

The doors close. A West Indian accented driver announces: ‘this train tahminates at High Bahnet… Please mind the closing doors… mind the closing doors.’ The train pulls away. The little old lady’s lunch bag is pulled under the train by the force, but nothing happens. The train leaves the station. The old lady pulls out a repulsive looking true crime novel about a paedophile murderer and reads happily.

I’ve been saved by some cosmic mystery. I lean back in my seat and open my David Sedaris book, glad someone in this world is more neurotic than me. Edgware: 7 minutes.

The bottom drops out of my stomach. The bag’s on the track now. I know it is. It must be. It’s there, there, right on top of the electrified rail. I stop breathing. I don’t dare to look. This will be the death of me. The next train won’t be so lucky. It will crash into the bag, spark and go kaboom, and I will be smashed by a train door in a freak explosion because some old lady didn’t pick up her bag.

Fuck.

More people step out onto the platform, looking expectantly at the LED notice-board. Edgware: 5 minutes. I could leave, of course, but I do want to get home. Edgware: 4 minutes. I await my fate.

A female voice announces over the tannoy : ‘There is cah-rently a good sah-vice on all London Underground lines.’ Did such words ever resemble such a death knell?

Edgware: 2 minutes… Tick tock. Tick tock.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Broderick's Sunday Special #3: Buttons

This morning I woke up with the knowledge I'd be working in the restaurant from 10 to 5 and then gigging in Richmond at night. I shower, run the razor above the top lip and below the lower one, wax the hair, and put on jeans, a brown cowboy style shirt, and a grey jumper.

It's two hours later and I'm just stepping out for a short break to get some coffee. I buy an Americano, in a paper cup that somehow seems to leak at the bottom, sling my bag over my shoulders, and start walking back to the shop. The strap of my bag catches on something. I look down. It's caught on the pearl snap of my western-style shirt, under my jumper. I look down. Both snaps are showing prominently through my grey jumper, like oversized robot nipples. Oh, and being the closure of the breast pockets of my shirt, they're much higher than normal nipples. I hurry on, suddenly aware that the lovely old busybodies of Belsize Park have been watching me mumble irrational admonishments to myself, staring, fascinated at my chest.

What do I do? The cowboy shirt has a large coffee stain that I though I could cover up with my jumper. It's a choice between that and walking around looking like Tara Reid's boob job or the third version of the Batsuit. I suppose there's always the option of wearing just the grey jumper, in which people would see my actual nipples - which I don't mind much, only it's very cold out.

++++

It's Saturday and I'm poring desperately over the weekend papers looking for something to write about for this weeks Sunday Special. I know writer's block can be alleviated by simply writing the first sentence on the blank page or computer screen, so I put pen to page in my journal and write the two sentences you have just read.

Perhaps I'm taking this Sunday Special thing too far. I don't have a column in a newspaper or magazine, and my readership is zero (if that). But it's a personal challenge, more than anything, a motivational, if illusory set of deadlines to up my word count, help me develop my voice, just get going. I've never written or spoken about my writer's process or the act of writing as it exists for me, so this week I've started to contemplate it. Here goes: There's an awful amount of self-censorship that stops me putting pen to page for extended periods of time. It can feel like speaking through a gag; there's a desire to speak burning in your chest, but your censor stuff its cotton batting in your mouth and you resign yourself to leaving those words unsaid. I write a lot of beginnings.

When I was a kid, though, I'd write non-stop. None of it was particularly good, of course, but there was none of this hovering with pen poised wondering if the words I'd scribbled would stand up to post-structuralist criticism. I remember reading a Toni Morrison book for the first time, and then going and writing a story just saturated in the milieu of the rural American South of the 1960s. The chutzpah of a Chinese-Canadian teenage boy attempting to authentically capture the voice of a strong black woman is staggering.

Since I've started stand-up comedy, it's gotten worse. Stand-up is a random process of divine miracles, or at least, it can seem that way when the raw-materials for new 'bits' dry up. When writing goes well, it's easy to think of yourself as a genius with an endless font of uniquely witty observations on the world. When that font dries up and you've done the same set for three weeks straight, it's easy to curse a god, whom you may or may not believe in, but whom you suddenly envision as a medieval warlock in a Death Star style spaceship, finger poised over the Creativity button.

This blog was meant to help me out of the self-censorship trap, which I think is all my sporadic writer's block is. It's meant to get rid of the random chance in my comedy writing. It's helping. But then the warlock presses the button and you end up with some fluff piece about buttons looking like nipples. I didn't change my shirt, incidentally.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Nothing but surprises!


Sometimes the world can still surprise you. I've been listening to Radio 4 all day, as I do fairly often (while I'm writing, the gentle chatter makes me feel like I'm in a beautiful Viennese cafe at the turn of the century - or maybe it just keeps away the existential horror of 'what am I doing with my life?'). It's two-o-clock and I'm listening to The Archers, as I do, fairly often. For those of you who (the three of you - if that) who aren't familiar with The Archers, it's a fairly innocent radio drama about people who own farms and stuff. Mostly old people listen to it. (As well as Chinese-Canadian comedy writers and wannabe academics with short attention spans.)

But why is there a RAPE STORY on The Archers?

It's like it's Law and Order: SVU all of a sudden. This is a show played at 2 PM. I understand that they've been running it for fifty years, but... why?

Oh god... they've just used the words 'she was asking for it...'

Oh my god...

(hides under desk)

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Palimpsest

I had a wonderful gig on Monday night at Free Beer Show in Oxford, a legendary institution of the Edinburgh Festival in its 'term-time' home. If there are any readers out there in Oxfordshire (out of my readership of three of course - if that), please try to go, it's Monday nights, a really fun night with fantastic headliners. I got to open for Al Pitcher, who you can check out on YouTube and is very funny.

I was really happy and buzzed about how the whole thing went, so the next day I decided to treat myself and go see a matinee at the cinema. I'm an unapologetic film buff, with very little in the way of discerning taste, or taste at all, so I packed a sandwich (no kidding, I'm not paying £3.90 for a hot dog) and a newspaper (to read during the commercials at the beginning), and off I went to the Finchley Road VUE to watch:

DEATH PROOF.


You've probably heard all the talk about how this movie sucks, etc, and it doesn't, really. It wasn't great, but anyone who denies that there isn't a primitive, innate thrill in watching a car chase in which a stuntwoman hangs, freely, off the bonnet of a car is a low-down dirty liar. Yet, it is one of the great questions of our time whether or not Quentin Tarantino is an immature hack whose movies are too long, or a post-modern genius. I think it's a beautiful thing when pop-culture enters into such dialogue - audiences engaging with it on a number of different levels. Is it exploitative, is it entertaining, is it empowering? Is it intellectually stimulating - the sudden switch of tone, genre and visual style halfway through seems to belong to a theatrical tradition that includes Brecht's verfremdungseffekte and Sarah Kane's Blasted. And am I a total dickhead for bringing up Brecht and Grindhouse in the same sentence?

To borrow a usage from Germaine Greer, Death Proof has been physically altered once through transaction with an audience, transforming from a single, generic tribute to a standalone film that is in itself an experimental double-bill. Thus, as an artwork it is a palimpsest - a place of dialogue between artist and viewer. The word originally refers to a parchment that has been erased and written over, and Germaine Greer uses it to refer to the phenomenon of graffiti - tagging and re-tagging. But while I'm probably being to wankily analytically about a stupid movie I watched at one in the afternoon yesterday, the mental equivalent of stuffing your mouth full of maple syrup and bacon, just to make myself feel better about waking up late and being totally unproductive - the palimpsest lives on, a wonderful concept that goes a long way to helping us understand artworks (in galleries or otherwise) in a post-modern culture.

++++

There's an actor in Death Proof named Sydney Poitier. Not Sidney Poitier, mind you, star of In The Heat of the Night and To Sir, With Love. But a young, black actress, and Sidney Poitier's daughter. How confusing! It catches you off guard when the credits roll and you see "Jungle Julie" was played by Mister Tibbs. I didn't even know he had a daughter. I just sat there, thinking: 'Did Sidney Poitier have a sex change?... ... and travel back in time?'

++++

I'm going to put a list of links on here - if there are any readers more than three that want to be on there, comment and include a link.

I've been reading this comic a lot this week: Least I Could Do and listening to this amazing podcast about the art of stand-up comedy: Behind the Bricks.

So I'll leave you on this Wednesday morning and get back to work now. Here's this:

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Broderick's Sunday Special #2: Global and Domestic Capitalism

Or: Cressida, and other middle-class baby names.

Amazingly, I've dredged up an unforeseen amount of follow-through and, rather unexpectedly (to myself, not to my two - if that - readers who'd be expecting it), I'm back with another Sunday column.

My favourite pleasure on Saturdays is 'Writers Rooms,' a column in the Guardian Review. I suppose its aim is to show how different and individual the creative spaces of our most beloved authors are, but in fact, all it's really taught me is that from Ian Rankin to Colm Toibin, serious writing can't be done unless you're sat at a pine desk in the attic studio of your mansion in Highgate.

This week Joshua Ferris' studio, lovingly photographed by Eamonn McCabe and verbally extolled by Ferris himself, was featured. Despite the fact that I cannot name even one of his books, I'm convinced that until I too have a Bloc Rhodia No. 38 pad imported from France upon which to scrawl my prose, I shall never write another word. What I mean to say is that greed, envy and shopping-lust, while fairly natural impulses, are not, at heart, productive ones. Imagine if this lust for beautiful tools of the trade extended to, say, firefighters. I'm not much of a believer in self-interested capitalism; I've read my Naomi Klein, yes, but my reasons are simpler - many people are total dinks and their interests are stupid. Self-interest mainly manifests itself in outdoing others.

As I've mentioned before, I work in North London, in a restaurant. There are some amazing blogs about the restaurant industry (Waiter Rant and Well Done Fillet are my favourites), and I'm not going to try and ape them, since my own experience is markedly different. However, I can write about the poisonous sense of entitlement that permeates a wealthy area, such as the one I work in.

++++

I'm taking an order over the phone from a well-spoken but ridiculously impolite woman: 'THIRTY MINUTES!' she screeches, incredulously, 'but sushi is just raw fish!' (Correct, lady, but it isn't trawled up in the fishermen's nets sliced, deboned, resting on a bed of rice with a ribbon of nori, unfortunately). Finishing with her order, I ask:

'Can I have your name, please?'

'Aphra.'

Aphra Behn, of course, is the important, early and somewhat obscure playwright of The Rover and The Feigned Courtesans. It's an unusual name, lovely and literate, and very characteristic of Hampstead.

'Aphra. A-P-H-R-A?'

'Yes, that's right.'

'Like the playwright.'

'Who?'

Stifling a scream, I bang the mouthpiece of the phone against my forehead.

'What's that noise?' comes Aphra's voice from the other end. 'Who's this playwright Aphra?'

For the next five minutes I explain all I know about Aphra Behn to the oblivious woman, while the chefs make her order of cucumber maki and tempura.

++++

I think this story encapsulates the combination of money and cultural bankruptcy of Hampstead and surrounding areas. Everything's wonderfully tasteful, but at the same time, horribly gauche. Perhaps that's unfair, but I have seen women carrying Anya Hindmarch 'I'm Not A Plastic Bag' shopping bags getting behind the wheel of 4x4s without a trace of irony. I've seen mothers screaming at daughters with eating disorders or problems with food to 'just fucking eat something!' right in front of me, which is vulgar (not to mention unhelpful, if the girl has a real problem). I've seen city boys, with their multi-million pound bonuses, pronounce Miso and Edamame 'My-so' and 'Enda Maim,' with swaggering confidence. I've seen American expats ask what prawns are. You think you know what I've seen? You don't know what I've seen.

There's a family in Hampstead that seems to be naming its chldren after characters from Shakespeare. There's been Cressida, Jessica and Imogen. I'm not a religious man, but I will say 1000 prayers for the day they name a baby girl Lucy - for Lucretia. (Lucretia, of course, being the eponymous heroine of Shakespeare's poem 'The Rape of Lucretia'). Now that's giving your kid a good start in life!

As a consequence, perhaps, of people earning more money than ever, is an openness with which people now discuss money. Since when has it been acceptable to outright ask about wages or rent? When patrons at the restaurant find out I'm a stand-up comedian, the first thing they'll say, after 'Tell me a joke,' (fuck off - 'You ever hear the one about the coked up city-boy douchebag and the sushi waiter who broke up his family?'), is 'How much do you make doing that?' I'd retaliate by asking how much their Christmas bonus was if I wasn't so convinced they'd tell me.

++++

I'm riding my bicycle through Euston, and I pull into a the courtyard of a largish office complex to lock up my bike. A ponytailed guy in a military jacket and stylish shoes walks up to me.

'Excuse me!' he says, 'How much did you pay for your bike?'

I'm taken aback, somewhat.

'Uh...' I say, stalling. Do I lie, and say a lower price, to save face with the frugal types? Or do I go higher to impress with my purchasing power? I tell the truth. '£300.'

'THREE-HUNDRED POUNDS!' he sputters. The conversation takes an awkward turn, and I'm still not certain if he's impressed by my thrift or my extravagance.

'Uh, yeah. But it's middle of the road... they go down to £169 and up to nearly 1000.'

'Yeah, wow. Because my mate's in China, and he says you can get one of these folding bikes for £30 there! He's going to bring me back one.'

Now, my bike is a very reliable Dahon Vitesse, American made, and beautiful to ride. £30 for a bike implies a lot of slave labour and shoddy workmanship, an oversized Transformers toy glued to a wheelchair. With London traffic, I wouldn't really trust anything that might fold up under me on the Marylebone flyover.

'Just a word of advice, you get what you pay for. I wouldn't want to ride around on a 30 quid bike in London. The ride won't be very nice. There're a lot of hills, and the traffic's very heavy. A really cheap bike isn't safe.'

'Ah, don't worry, mate,' he says, 'thanks for the advice, but I'm mostly going to be carrying it around on the Tube. Have a nice day!'

He leaves me to ponder the depressing logic of this statement as he walks away. I stare at the £45 reinforced cable lock in my hands. With any luck the ground would swallow me whole.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

I hate Martin Amis more than anyone else in the entire world. Here's why.

He's just such a retard! Everything he's ever written and everything he's ever done and everything about him just totally sucks. He also posed for the cover of his book of 'essays' (I use the term tentatively, because to qualify as an essay, a piece of writing generally can't be written in excrement), The War Against Cliche, trying to look like Ewan MacGregor in the Trainspotting poster. What an ass.

I'm not alone in my loathing of Martin Amis. Here's a few quotes from a Guardian article a few months ago: "If the media refer to Martin Amis as 'Britain's greatest living author' once more," wrote Kathy Love from south London, "I shall kill myself. The fact that such a misconception exists at all is enough to make most people with a passion for books want to emigrate to Uruguay immediately. Please save my life and don't do it again."

She follows: "I have never enjoyed a Martin Amis book. Most of them I have flung across the room unfinished. I hate his self-conscious literary style, his pathetic posturing. More importantly, he has nothing to say. Greatness in a writer can only be awarded posthumously. Let them snuff it first, I say. Then we'll decide."

Well said, Kathy from South London.

I would now like to share some extracts from Martin Amis' novels, and let you be the judge.

from The Rachel Papers, Vintage, 1973, 240 pages.

"Rachel was filing some papers. 'Oh my goodness!' said Rachel, 'it's nearly three-of-the-clock and I shall never finish filing my papers!' Then, Charles Highway entered the room, placing his fists on his hips like a bird drinking water. 'My name is Charles and I am the narrator. I enjoy metaphors, but am not sure how to use them.'
'Hello,' said Rachel, 'my name is Rachel and these are my papers.'
'Well,' roared Charles, 'GET BACK TO WORK BITCH!!!!'
'Oh goodness!' replied Rachel, who was of the weaker sex, 'that loud outburst shall have Julie Burchill, amongst many others, accusing you of misogyny, while at the same time increasing your sales among immature Oxford undergraduates who have never seen boobs.'
'Meh, whaddya gonna do.' There is a pause, pregnant, as if with puppies. The puppies represent drama. 'Wait... isn't this whole book meant to be in first person? That's what it says on Amazon.'
'Yes, how strange. It's almost as if the author of this blog post has never read this book, nor ever will...'"


from Yellow Dog, Vintage, 2003, 352 pages.

"There once was this dog. Then some paint fell on teh dg and it got all yelo. Teh End. By Martin Amis."
(This is followed by 351 pages, mostly blank, some with photographs of him carrying sacks of money to the bank, others with pencil sketches by the author of his own genitals)

Incidentally, while I haven't read The Rachel Papers I can hands down say that Yellow Dog is the worst book I've ever read, and that's quite an admission, seeing as I pretty much covered the entire Goosebumps canon by R.L. Stine in my childhood. I've also giggled my way through writing this entire post. As Charlie Brooker recently wrote: 'sweary tastelessness is a celebration of life, as soaring and majestic as a gospel choir in full flow, and no amount of tedious squeamishness can alter that.'

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Broderick's Sunday Special #1

Hello there. Welcome to the first ever edition of Broderick Chow's Sunday Special. Let me explain first of all, the impetus behind this new weekly column. I am in mourning. Yesterday, it seems, the great Jon Ronson has quit his weekly column for the Guardian, on the demand of his young son. Jon Ronson's column was really all I lived for, however, I do respect his decision not to embarrass his family further, and salute him. Mr Ronson, enjoy your freedom. Jon Ronson, despite not really being a comedian, has been an invaluable inspiration to my stand-up - I'll miss reading you on Saturday mornings.

Thus, I presumtuously take up his mantle. Each Sunday on www.brodacious.co.uk, usually uploaded to the internet on the company computer at the sushi restaurant I am in the employ of, I'll try my hand at the 300 word column. (300? I didn't actually count). Also, I'm a very lazy blogger, and a deadline is good for me. Plus, column sounds far better than blog doesn't it - despite the fact that I have a readership of two (if that) and am unlikely to be recognized on the street as Mr Ronson is, unless it's from people wanting DVDs (I keep telling you, I don't have any!)

++++

I was booked in to do a set at an all-day comedy marathon in Kentish Town yesterday. I set off towards Kentish Town after work on foot, down a charming street that my friend Laura refers to as 'The Hell Mouth,' but most people call Prince of Wales Road. Ten minutes into my journey, I notice myself limping. Well, not limping, exactly, but walking 'street.'

'What is this,' I think to myself. 'Why am I doing this stereotypically black walk? It's borderline racist, basically.'

Now I'm worried... If I'm doing this walk like a kind of forcefield because I'm walking through a bad area, doesn't that make me a poser as well as a borderline racist? By this point,however, Kentish Town Road is in my field of vision, so I keep limping along. A mousy-looking woman with a rucksack gives me a wide berth as she passes me.

I'm in the venue and walking through the crowded bar towards the upstairs room where the comedy is happening, when a woman, you know the type, forties, ten gin and tonics in her, actually bows to me as I pass, and says 'Hai!'

'Well, I never!' I think. 'I can't let that go! That was racist, wasn't it? She just bowed to me, because I'm Asian!' It catches me off guard - I don't suffer much racial abuse, because, well, I'm very good looking and beauty is intimidating. 'Well!' I think, 'I mustn't talk the talk if I can't walk the walk,(or something). I'm going to do it, I'm not going to walk on by, I'm going to say something.'

'Excuse me,' I say to her, 'What was that?'

'What was what?' she replies, eyes rolling loosely, like a sock puppet.

Stammering, and losing my nerve, I say 'You just, you just bowed to me!'

'Why would I bow to you?'

'I don't know... uh... because...' I lose my nerve. 'Oh, nothing.'

'Well, it's obviously something. What?'

'Well, you bowed, and you said "Hai!" It's just... a bit... well, racist!'

'I wasn't bowing to you! Why would I do that? You're obviously not Japanese! I was just bending down and saying 'Hi' to my friend.'

I look around for some kind of dwarf or small child who might be her friend, but find none.

'Awww, are you feeling a bit sensitive tonight?'

'Yes,' I reply. And she hugs me. The fumes burn my eyes.

Later, while waiting to go on stage, I'm talking to a Finnish comedian I know. He's a bit tipsy and doesn't remember my name. Finally he gets it. I'm a bit hurt. 'I remember your name!' I say, 'And your name is really complicated!'

'Well,' he says,'There can be only one legend.' The conversation lulls. 'What would you say to that, if I were a heckler, and you were on stage? Let's try it - "There can only be one legend."'

Not missing a beat, I say, like a bully on Degrassi High, 'Yeah, totally. 'The Legend of The Fat Stupid Finnish Comedian! Ah ha ha ha ha!'

He goes quiet, and looks at his feet for awhile. 'That was, that was a good one,' he says. 'Let's go have a drink.'

'Ok,' I say, following him to the bar.

'By the way,' he says, 'let us get this straight. If you ever call me fat again, I will kill you.' Sliding his finger across his throat like a straight-razor, he says 'Sayonara.'

Friday, 24 August 2007

Akira California: the first night


AC is running now, and I had the first show last night. It was a very simple day, comparatively, with tech running very smoothly and an hour under schedule (my tech is fairly simple but also Charlie is a star).

I had a nice crowd for what was actually a very slow day for the Camden Fringe. I find flyering in Camden very difficult because unlike Edinburgh, performance isn't the main reason tourists come to Camden. And also, when you ask people to come to your show in the afternoon, and your show isn't til nine, you're asking them to stay in a one mile radius for six hours - and really, there's only so many times you can pace down the same high street, only so many times the same drug dealer can say 'skunk... weed... skunk' to you.

Audience reaction was very positive, had some good feedback about upping the energy in the middle section, which has been lagging, and somehow I've been avoiding slightly because of the amount of exposition in it. But a number of audience members left saying they felt all warm after - and Rick said he had goosebumps at the ending. Woo!

I like the fact that the show is making a connection with people - I talked to four strangers in the bar later for 20 minutes about the show, and it's really the first time that that has been so easy and not awkward. There's something about comedy (the comedy I'm interested in, at least) that makes people feel comfortable connecting with others, that isn't there for traditional theatre, musicals, etc.

I ate dinner last night at a small restaurant called The New Culture Revolution that specializes in dumplings in soup - it was wonderful, but sadly the Camden branch closes down this Sunday.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Crap gig

I was at LSE tonight for a gig, which was not terrible, but definitely not great. More bad than good, at least in my books, enough to warrant me writing about it here, which is unusual, because I don't want my readerless blog to become some sort of cathartic gig diary. Anyways, I know any number of things could have contributed to my half death tonight, maybe I came across as nervous, I haven't been on last in ages etc etc... but it is frustrating when my warm-up gags, cheap digs at racial sterotypes that open my set, storm it, but then the minute I try and tell any sort of story it goes quiet. No heckles, just... expectant looks like baby birds... urging me to tell a knob gag. I can't really write a set of one-liners, because I have no way of making it sound natural. And besides, I got into stand-up because I love telling and writing stories.

Whatever, despite my sitting here with a Carlsberg, a thing of hummus and a Muller Rice (Raspberry), I'm not going to beat myself up about a quiet audience. I also know there's an audience for my odd stories. I've been reviewed, man. Or the young indie kid who came up to me at The Good Ship after my set and said 'You really made me laugh!' and in that moment I knew: 'Ha Kindred spirit! You drew pictures of the X-Men on lined paper when you were a kid too!'

Sorry if this sounds a bit self-pitying or like the journal I would have kept in drama school, but, uh, I totally can't find that journal.


(This picture has basically nothing to do with anything, but it came up on google image search under "bad gig" and it's also a fairly striking visual, n'est ce pas?)

++++

So to make up for that whine, I'll tell you this:

I was going to the gym in Swiss Cottage a couple days ago, which is a new, glass building with big automatic doors. I walk up to the doors, and nothing happens. They don't slide open as usual. I even try to prise them apart with my fingers, as if that'll be effective, but nada.

And my first thought is: this is exactly like that Simpsons episode where Bart sells his soul to Milhouse and then freaky things start happening, like the Kwik-E-Mart door not opening ... (although I always thought sliding doors worked because you stepped on some kinda button under the welcome mat, not that they subscribed to a particular faith system). It actually freaked me out for a second, because I thought - ok, I'll just go through the other entrance, but I'll also have to ask the front desk if there's a problem with the sliding doors. And if they say, no, nothing's wrong with them, then I have no soul.

Where could I have sold my soul? Who knows? Sometimes I do things in my sleep - not like sleepwalking, but in that groggy half-awake, half dreaming state. What if it was like that, like when you get a glass of water half asleep, and in the morning you don't know where it came from? Or like, when you're half asleep, half awake and you burn down an orphanage?

Maybe I sold my soul.

Maybe I never had a soul.

But then the lady at the front desk said, yes, there was a problem with the doors, and I was relieved. I just can't deal with losing my soul, because it's really one of the few things left I can sell - and I just bought my bike, after all. My soul is like my nest egg.

++++

Question time!

Who are my favourite American comedians at the moment?

Jen Kirkman
Maria Bamford
Patton Oswalt

How excited am I for Vancouver?

Quite, I'm gonna eat fish and chips on the beach every day!

And how excited am I for Edinburgh?

SUPER EXCITED! I'm gonna eat deep-fried haggis every day!

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Zombies


I was at The Good Ship in Kilburn last night, which is turning into a really ace comedy venue, by the way, and I was doing a longer set to support Mark Allen's Edinburgh Preview. It's nice to have the freedom of a 20 minute set so I added some new material, one longish story about Chinese superstitions, and one very bizarre story that I made up on the bus ride to the venue about the Kate Bush song "Wuthering Heights," the Emily Bronte novel Wuthering Heights, and zombies.

It went pretty well, but I think that particular odd story required a bit less 'isn't this funny, my imagination is so witty and weird and clever' and a bit more, uh, jokes. It does end with me accusing Kate Bush of being into occultish sexual practices, though, so I think everyone wins.

Hmmmm... what else? I have finished Harry Potter and now am in between novels, so I'm reading essays and short stories because that's really all I can stomach - isn't it funny that somehow Foucault is more concise than JK Rowling? So yes, Foucault, also Consider the Lobster: Essays by David Foster Wallace, and No One Belongs Here More Than You by my favourite performance artist-cum-film-maker, Miranda July.

I recommend all, except for Foucault, who I am only name-dropping so you don't think I'm stupid and only read Harry Potter.

Friday, 27 July 2007

some more press

For my show:

Camden New Journal

The Londonist

I love local media. I was on the bus, having escaped the pouring rain to be steamed out of my clothes, and this lady pulled out a copy of the Camden New Journal and opened it to a full page photo of me! What do you do in those situations? Say, 'that's me, you know.' Or, just say nothing? I said nothing, but part of me presumptuously thinks, well, maybe that lady's day would have been made that little bit brighter had I said something, but then I'm totally disgusted with myself for thinking something that arrogant and I go back to making collages (it's for the show).

Some stuff the show might have, but in text form:


But mostly not. It's basically a sweet and funny story about an adopted kid who discovers he has superpowers, goes off to find his real parents, doesn't, but then decides to go to Tokyo, which, in the future (did I mention it's the future) has turned into a dystopian wasteland overseen by the omnipresent Halo Kiti. He goes thinking he'll use his super powers to fight monsters and roving gangs of nihilistic looters, but instead, he meets a girl who also has special powers, and together, they find a way to save Tokyo.

Monday, 16 July 2007

a good review

An update is in the works. I have been writing a lot lately and I'm sure that some of it could find it's way onto these pages. In the meantime, please take a look at this review from a gig in Newbury a few weeks ago: Newbury Today ¦ Final heat for comedy hopefuls

'Coolest comic'! Not bad, eh? Almost makes it worth the £10 train fare to Newbury! I also wish the so-called 'title' of Coolest Comic came with a gold statue or a badge or some cash or something.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

the weekend

Early Friday morning a car bomb was found, abandoned, with the remote detonator still inside, outside a nightclub in Haymarket. Apparently it was loaded with nails and gas cannisters, fully visible from the outside. The presence of the mobile phone remote detonator would suggest that perhaps the bomber lost his nerve and ran away. A manhunt (love that phrase, we haven't had a really good one since the OJ days) is underway to find the bombers.

Apparently the car, a grey Mercedes, natch, was given a parking ticket during the night.

It would be, parked right outside the doors of Tiger Tiger, crashed into some bins. But what exactly was that parking attendant thinking when he wrote up a violation for a car with a highly visible bomb in the backseat (and, one would assume for comedy value, also ticking away)?

In my warped imagination, I love the possibility that perhaps this vigilante parking attendant saw the bomb and decided to fight terrorism the best way he knew how.

Take that, terrorists!

EDIT: It just keeps getting worse: http://www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,2115693,00.html

Man, Gordie Brown's having a bad first week.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

25


I will:

Be a cyclist
Work hard
Write (and read) more
Live up to the title of stand-up comedian
Take care of the people I love
By an old-school typewriter
Write a nasty, petty letter to Martin Amis
Use my (comedic) powers for good, for with great power comes great responsibility
Write some jokes about rice-paddy hats

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Cartoons


Based on a true story.... maybe.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Exciting Things...



A brand new comedy night - the last Monday of every month. Superheroes, comic books, games, and fantastic comedy. First month's line-up features:

Bobby Carroll - "Short but deadly"
Ed O'Meara - "Has a beard, probably a villain"
Joanne Lau - "Chinese restaurant waitress, also villainous"
Angus Lindsay - "Looks very good for his age"
Nadia Kamil and Luke Roberts - "Kind of like Cyclops and Jean Grey, but not really"

and

The Multifarious, Multiple Powered, Award-Winning
JOSIE LONG!

MC Broderick Chow - "Studied with Mr Miyagi"

£5 / £4 concs / Central or ex-CSSD £3.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Is blogging a creative medium?

All I'm doing (all I have the energy for, really) is copying/pasting URLs.

There's a thing by some British guy or whatever called 'The Cult of the Amateur' or something, I dunno, I wasn't really paying attention, on how the internet is killing off culture... Well, I think in some ways, yeah, sure it is, but in other ways, when you consider who writes the blogs that actually get noticed and recognized, it's people with pretty good credentials - Huffington Post, AmericaBlog. (Hence my own lack of cyber-visibility).

Sarah Silverman

Add to My Profile | More Videos

(For E.B.)

Friday, 18 May 2007

Shoulda been a graphic designer


This is my handiwork for the afternoon, a publicity image / flyer for my show Akira California, which goes up in August as part of the Camden Fringe.

23-26 August 2007
Etcetera Theatre

Ooh, the ire!

Ann Coulter is my favourite comedian, but she needs to work on her delivery a little bit.

"Jerry Falwell was a perfected Christian. He exuded Christian love for all men, hating sin while loving sinners. This is as opposed to liberals, who just love sinners. Like Christ ministering to prostitutes, Falwell regularly left the safe confines of his church to show up in such benighted venues as CNN."

Seriously, how can anyone take that seriously? The comparison, if I have this right, is between Jesus ministering to prostitutes, and uh, Falwell sitting in a dressing room at a major television studio surrounded by the boxes of KFC and bottles of Babycham stipulated in his rider.

God she's ugly

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Latest News! Terrorist attack London by travelling back in time to WWII!

This came up as I used the TFL Journey Planner website to find out how to get to my gig in Bethnal Green yesterday:

"ROMAN ROAD: Routes 8 and N8 are not serving Roman Road between Bethnal Green Station and Grove Road and route D6 is diverted in both directions between Cambridge Heath Road at Old Ford Road and Mile End Station due to the discovery of an unexploded WWII bomb at the junction with Bonner Street."

That's amazing.

Dear Mr Blair: While you say that Britain is the greatest nation on earth, you do realize this is like, totally a Third World country, right? The pound may be the strongest currency in the world but there are bombs under our feet, nothing works, water turns off, rats are everywhere and when I tried to get to Ladbroke Grove last night a twenty minute journey took me an hour and a half.

The only difference between London and that horrific post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo in Akira where yobs and giant monsters roam the streets freely is, uh, there's a river of garbage running through London.

Gotta love it.


++++

I did the gig in Bethnal Green for three people last night. There were more comics than there were audience members, but we had a blast. Rick, the compere bought them a round of drinks, we chatted, did some material, it was basically like a party where you get to talk about yourself lots (so, not that different to most parties, then).

Monday, 7 May 2007

TV Party Tonight!


Does anyone remember that episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where Will and Carlton are at university and they try to join this black fraternity? The fraternity thinks Will is cool enough, but Carlton is far too privileged and upper-middle class to be part of their little 'pay-to-have-friends' society (because essentially, that's what frats are), which is taken to be read as 'Carlton, you ain't black enough fo' Phi Beta Alpha' (or whatever it actually is).

So, here we are at the climax of the episode, and Carlton overhears the frat president trash-talking him to Will, and he has a very moving, very inspirational speech, one line of which resounds in my ears to this very day:

"We both running the same race, so why you tripping me up?"

I like the active metaphor implicit in 'race' and 'running,' but I don't understand why Carlton has put on a fake black-cent to deliver this speech. Surely that just proves the point the fraternity was making in the first place.

Hillary Clinton has a cultural predecessor!

****

Commisserations to Segolene Royal, who lost the French election Sunday (I can relate, I left my sunglasses on the bus this weekend). Pity. I really liked her and I do hope we see great things from her in the future. Here's a fun fact: you know, in France, they call her 'Royal with cheese.'

Friday, 4 May 2007

Random thought.

Do you remember when Tonya Harding hired a ninja assassin to wail on Nancy Kerrigan's legs before some figure skating contest or something?

I was really young when that happened, like 7 or 8, and I actually remember running around on the playground playing Figure Skater Assault with the other kids. We used a branch instead of a lead pipe.

Is that warped?

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Would be funny, if it didn't happen to me...

The setting: a busy central London athletics centre.

#1: Alright, Brandon?* How are you?
#2: Ok.
#1: Haven't seen you around lately.
#2: I've been going in the mornings.
#1: (pause) God, I love all this sunshine.
#2: Yeah.
#1: I've just been hanging around outside, all day.
#2: Yeah.
#1: Don't you love it?
#2: Just a few minutes I was walking down the street and these bits were getting in my eyes, you know, just bits of pollen and stuff flying in my eyes. And I have quite bad hayfever, so I went to the sink to wash my eyes out. And then I looked up in the mirror, and as it turns out, it wasn't pollen or dust or bits of debris at all! It was a fucking fly, with its wings stuck to my cornea, and its legs twitching its last death throes against my eyelids!

(a long pause)

#1: Your traps are looking good -
#2: It's been a shitty day.

*Some names have been changed.

****

I was looking up hayfever cures from Japan on the internet today, because they have some of the worst allergy symptoms in the world due to foreign trees being planted post-war. This kid's testimonial makes me angry like nothing else in this world:


Hiroyasu, 26

"I have never suffered from hay fever, so I can't understand or imagine how people who do get it, feel. I wouldn't know what to do if I became allergic to pollen someday since no one in my family has such an allergy. I hope I never have that problem because people with those goggles and masks look weird and suspicious."

Thanks for your sensitivity. I won't hesitate to point out, "Hiroyasshole," that you seem to be wearing a high school uniform at the age of TWENTY-SIX. I call that "suspicious", don't you?

Monday, 23 April 2007

Things I now know about America

1. Almond Joy is an excellent sweet.

2. Their literary canon is very flexible. Under Classics in the West Virginia University one can find the excellent Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - pre-order now! Maybe I will, WVU, maybe I will!

3. Overheard in Jay's Daily Grind, a coffee-shop. (Totally, one-hundred percent true).

SOME GUY (Probably Jay): You know, cow tipping?
YOUNG WOMAN: Uh huh.
SOME GUY: Y'ever done it?
YOUNG WOMAN: Nope.
SOME GUY: I tell you, you can't. You can't do it.
YOUNG WOMAN: Why not?
SOME GUY: It's a lie. It's not possible. It's a fallacy.
YOUNG WOMAN: Really!
SOME GUY: In fact, it's an OXYMORON!

4. If you write a whole bunch of jokes about a tiny university town in the middle of nowhere with the intention of bringing then back to the big city and saying them onstage for laughs (and to plug up that empty bit of your soul with audience validation and ale) - as a rule, don't leave your notebook in Jay's Daily Grind for the collective butt of your mean-spirited joshing to find.

Friday, 20 April 2007

In America


I'm in Morgantown, West Virginia. That's not some kind of joke, I actually am. Besides, if I were going to make up something about being in America, why would I say I was in Morgantown?

I haven't been to the states for years, not counting that jaunt to Point Roberts on New Year's Eve, since, well, you have to go through Canada to get to that. Everyone is friendly here, overwhelmingly so. Coming from London, their smiles and jollity take you aback. At the same time, in no way do I find these people anything less than genuine. In fact, their lack of guard is a bit frightening. Vulnerable, open.

I've just had what they describe as a continental breakfast, although, I'm pretty sure that over on the actual continent they don't eat make-your-own waffles, Krispy Kreme donuts, fruit salad in syrup and those packages of Fruit Loops where you cut it down the middle and it becomes a bowl - for their petit dejeuner. Oh! Bonjour!! We (two other conference panelists and I) sat down in a lovely appointed lounge with mahogany furniture, eating off polystyrene plates with individually wrapped plastic cutlery.

The town seems typically small town America, frozen in time in many ways. I doubt it looked very different in the 1950s. There's Krispy Kreme in several locations, Target, one 'exotic' Chinese takeaway, and drive-through ATMs, you know, which allows you to combine being a victim of mugging and carjacking in one easy stop! In answer to some obviously pressing questions:

1. Yes, people are on the whole, larger, here. Thing is, it actually seems less shameful. There's a celebration of the fatty sugary foods here, the pre-packaged junk that's far more honest than Britain's Taste the Difference range self loathing.

2. No, I wasn't scrutinized for looking like I could be South Korean and you know, (shh) like I might write 'plays'... However

3. Yes, everyone brown was stopped at the airport. Everyone without a US or Canadian passport was fingerprinted and photographed, including old ladies so decrepit it's doubtful they'd even have fingerprints anymore.

It must be hard to work in security checkpoints in America. When your existence is defined by your vigilance, there can never be any payoff, any beautiful release. That little burst of joy in fulfilling a project.

'Oh, it was toothpaste. I thought it was a bomb!'

Monday, 16 April 2007

Just so I know...

If a gypsy curses you, what's the correct protocol?

Are you supposed to tag her, shout 'no curse-backs!' and then run away?

I'm not sure.

****

I'm going to the States later this week to play the smarty-pants at an academic conference on theatre, which to many seems like the equivalent of discussing the flavour of the ice cream while it melts away, but I actually get quite a kick out of it. I'll be presenting a paper on stand-up, which I've lovingly researched and crafted in careful, measured terminology, and after it's done and dusted I plan to revert back to the Brodacious boy everyone knows and loves, the one who makes fun of dead baby seals and stuff. (BTW, anyone from Canada know the current score of the seal cull? When I checked last week I think it was Canadians 189,000 - Seals 0). (Go Canucks Go!)

****

I think this girl is really funny.



****

And I just got this book through the post.


Culture and Materialism

Can you believe it? Me! The guy who wanted to take his top off and stand around Abercrombie and Fitch all day for £4.50 an hour!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Narcissus


As I've likely indicated a hundred times over, I like to think of myself as the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue of comedy. It's a worthy designation.

But it's not without consequences.

I work out four time a week, jog and cycle. I have to eat, like 5000 calories a day just to feed my parasitic bulgy bits. Oh, and I'm often flooded with an existential fear that beneath my devastatingly handsome and toned exterior I'm totally empty inside, but you know, like whatever!

I did have a rare moment of self awareness this week, however. There's a new A+F store open in London, Savile Row, and they employ buffed-up young men to greet customers. I've found myself actually considering applying.

Is that nuts? Do I have such an insanely high opinion of myself? Am I consumed by vanity? Or am I so insecure that I need validation of my Herb Ritts worthy self from some multinational corporation?

Am I dead inside?

Is my life like the Sixth Sense as written by Albert Camus for Men's Fitness magazine?

So many questions. Then I decided, well, fuck it, or rather, fuck that shit, and went back to looking at my reflection in ponds (Greek mythology, look it up) and reading articles about how Gerry Butler and the 300 spartans worked out. Now those guys are SHALLOW.

Besides...

My people are supposed to protest that shit: Article from The Independent
(About halfway through, about the Two Wongs Make It White t-shirt debacle).

****

In the ongoing 'Don't Sell Your Kidnap Stories To Newspapers, Dumbasses!' crisis of the freed sailors, this came up today.

"Mr Batchelor comes in for particular contempt because he told the Daily Mirror of his misery at losing his iPod, which he says was stolen by the Iranians." (Guardian, Audrey Gillan, 11/04/07)

You couldn't make this shit up, could you? Apparently the worst part was when the Iranians said he looked like Mr Bean. I suppose we'll be seeing the film of this harrowing true story quite soon:

Not Without My iPod
starring James McAvoy.

That punch-line was pretty cheesy. Even I feel a bit dirty.

Monday, 9 April 2007

I am a whimsical person, at heart

I think the most magical thing I've come across recently is disadvantaged young people playing music on their mobiles and singing along while riding public transit, mainly buses. While this is probably not most people's cup of tea, in fact, I'd wager that most Londoners consider the phenomenon of teenagers acquiring mobile phones with Mp3 functionality and loudspeakers to be somewhere in between Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and Britney Spears acquiring another baby - however, I will add the following caveat: it's only good when they play really gay music.

Divas, mainly.

I was riding the bus a few weeks ago and there were two of what the Daily Mail call 'yobs,' and they were sitting in the back looking menacing and, oh, fourteen, and playing hip hop out of a mobile. Fitty Cent, Akon, and such. Let's just say it was quite a bad day, you know, heading to work, hungover, feeling shit over some comedy gig that didn't go so well the audience were philistines at... When suddenly and without warning, the track changed.

To Irreplaceable. By Beyonce Knowles.

And the lads started singing along.

There is nothing that brightens one's day more than the scene of two hard-looking guys singing along to an empowering girl-rock/R&B anthem about 'kicking one's man to da curb.' It bespeaks a fantastic confidence and suddenly makes everything feel right about the world - I guess they just knew what they wanted, how to get it, and that no scrubs would be involved.

'You must not know 'bout me, you must not know 'bout me
I can have another you in a minute
Matter of fact, he'll be here in a minute, baby.'


'D'ya get me, bruv?'



****

More about Iran, on a slightly more serious note - Peter Wilby points out, rather surprisingly, re: intelligence about the British sailors being in Iraqi waters at the time -

'Only Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who headed the Foreign Office's maritime section from 1989 to 1992, pointed out that no maritime border between Iran and Iraq has ever been agreed and that the MoD's map was, to all intents and purposes, a fake. His revelation was buried on page 59 of the Mail on Sunday and largely ignored by other papers.'

Shame then that this information was buried away on page 7 of the boring Media section of the Guardian. But we all make mistakes. Dear Guardian, please rectify this mistake by giving me a job. I write stuff about boys singing soul diva songs along to mobiles and am funny.

Friday, 6 April 2007

third time's the charm.

Unlike all other failed attempts, this one's the real deal.

Call it what you will, a shameless attempt at self-publicity, a shameless attempt at getting a twice-weekly column in the Guardian G2, a shameless but cute site featuring pictures of puppies and kitties, Brodacious is up and lively, like the Brodster on Red-Bull.

(I've started drinking Red-Bull occasionally after reading that my favourite comedian, Sarah Silverman, drinks it. Perhaps I believed it would up my productivity of hilarity. Has it worked? Well, I started a blog.)

****
Iran released the fifteen captive British sailors this week with rather too many smiles all around. Mr Ahmedinejad increasingly resembles no one so much as Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch. (Put the pearly whites away please, you're just making the Brits feel worse). In any case, I've really enjoyed the media's coverage of the hostage situation. "Tehran releases our 15 sailors... but not before humiliating them one last time by parading them in front of Iranian television cameras!"

Last time I checked, "parading" involved walking around in some sort of cartoon character costume, not standing there and grinning and hi-fiving like a Sandals advert. What exactly were the means of coercion that led to such happy snaps?: "Now we bring to you new torture! It is called 'plate of kebabs and traditional folk dance!'"

Oh yeah, and I'm glad they're home safe and stuff.

****

I got a flyer from the Jehovah's witnesses through my door the other day, which helpfully informs me that "Jesus Christ is widely recognized as the greatest man who ever lived." (Yes! Beating out MLK and Ben Stiller!) It continues: "He gave his life for us 1,974 years ago, being killed in a most painful manner." (I know! I stubbed my toe the other day and it was most painful!) It also had some thought-provoking questions on the reverse, such as:

Who really was Jesus?
What does his death have to do with our everlasting welfare?
What is the ransom that Jesus spoke about, and why do we need to know?

which I think are greatly improved by a few simple changes

Uh, who really was "Jesus" anyway?
What does his death have to do with our everlasting welfare?
WTF is the ransom that "Jesus" spoke about, and why do we need to know?

Imagine Shannon Doherty saying it.