Monday, November 28, 2011

Knock, knock...

So. 2011? A poor year for comedy? Discuss. No calculators, no books allowed.......

Of course everyone has their own opinions. They are of course entitled to them but, not on my watch. Write your own bloody thing. Jesus, this IS Twat Bubble y'know...........

I digress, because I feel I have to. 2011 has been something of a frustrating year for those of us obsessed with the gilded, slightly deflated balloon, the clown face with the dagger teeth, the captivatingly haunted smile.

I digress again, because, I'm stuck. I don't know what to write.

One post. All year. On comedy.

Oh, dear.

And yet, salvation did come, in painfully small dribs and speckly coated drabs. Although patchy, 'Limmy's Show' pulsed the way in quietly sinister mayhem. In particular, the 'Dee Dee' sketches - some of which were sublime in their unexpected sophistication, in their ability to induce helpless laughter...

Ian Pattison resurrected his finest creation in a new series of 'Rab C Nesbitt.' By turns, good and excruciatingly bad, it was nice to see Gregor Fisher back - if a little older, a lot fatter and a whole lot more stupid.

'Rab C Nesbitt, Series 10, Episode 1'

Vic and Bob returned. Not to terrestrial screens - 'Shooting Stars,' despite stellar (pun intended) ratings, was cancelled due to, well, why was it cancelled?

Anyway, easily the comedy moment of 2011 was this paeon to war, bollards and environmental damage.

For the first time in a long time, The Fringe at Edinburgh offered little of interest. Stand-Up comedy generally seems to be currently plagued by an innate ordariness of late, where tenth rate comics stand behind eleventh rate material. We seem to have returned to the smug, self-congratulating comedic aggrandisement of the 1980's and, especially worrying, to a comedy landscape where questionable commentary and thinly veiled scapegoatism has replaced real insight and courageous words.

I'm not saying comedy should be the new social commentary - maybe I fucking am.

What I am saying, and what I truly believe, is that in a world where war and terrible injustice is everywhere, when the poor and the disenfranchised are more cruelly marginalised than ever before, and where accountability, integrity and basic human decency is dismissed as being trivial and unimportant, comedy, with all its nuances and in all its guises, can help bring people and more people closer together through the unimpeachable, irreducible gift of laughter.

I digress. One last time.

'Stewart v Armando - Television'

Monday, November 14, 2011

My, my, my DeLillo...

Donny DeLillo.

I say 'Donny' because, possibly for the first time, in his most recent and first collection of short stories, DeLillo has let his hair down. And let it run excitedly, youthfully almost, inhuming the cautionary excesses of his most recent work.

'The Angel Esmerelda: Nine Stories' is tentatively marvellous. There is a master at work here - as there always has been. With this striking collection however, DeLillo seems to be enjoying himself, swaddling himself in the stickily exotic (and erotic) paraphernalia of living and life.

His characters sing. And each song is starrily alive.

In a recent review of 'The Angel...' for The New Yorker, Martin Amis confessed his admiration for this apparently strident change in DeLillo's direction. I disagree. I think fun and extrospection has always been a part of 'the Don's' work. It's just that underneath all the grimy grimness and importuned propheteering finding the sootily camouflaged mirth has been a tough act indeed.

And 'The Angel Esmerelda: Nine Stories' will be a tough act for Donny to follow. Or anyone else for that matter.

'The Angel Esmerelda'

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Black and Blue Velvet

Many writers, musicians and film-makers, of a certain age, or as they get older, are often content to produce work that reinforces the views that their already audience has of them. It's an easy way out, and it pays the bills.

David Lynch and Tom Waits are near contemporaries of one another. They each have a rich legacy of work - both commercially and highly critically accalaimed, complex and startlingly involving, which asks, which demands, that you stop whatever unremarkably inconsequential thing it is that you're doing and begin to listen.

Both David and Tom - my very good friends - have released brand new albums.

In Lynch's case, it's really his first full album of songs (in collaboration with engineer and sonic fraudster, Dean Hurley), and it's a fun packed and packaged ride into doom, murder and voyeuristic despair.

Which, of course, makes it a typical David Lynch joint; the inescapable nuances, jarring juxtapositions and bloody-minded 'awkwardness,' seamlessly and searingly equating with his very best film work.

It's marvellous and you must have it.

Tom - one of my very, very good friends - has, in 'Bad As Me,' produced his best album in over a decade, one of his finest in truth.

Waits has often been accused of overrehearsing his rebelliousness and ootsiderishness - and of making music that sounds as though it was propagandised by a poorly paid impersonator; the snarls, grunts and grimaces, mere affectation.

Here though, Waits has returned to the bruised blues for his inspiration - and it has paid off. Big time (ahem).

So, two more albums to get over excited about. Who'd a thunk it?