Where are the jokes? They are ‘out there’…

One of the regular questions a comedian gets is: Where do you get all your material?

Well, the answer is simple.

It’s all ‘out there’ in the real world.

There isn’t a day that goes by without something happening – something which cries out to be entered into the comedy notebook for possible future use.

Just take the other day as an example.

I was at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli to visit an elderly relative.

(As an aside, why did they have to name the hospital after the Prince? Why couldn’t it have been given a solid ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ name like Llanelli?)

Now, a hospital visit is often a more serious affair than comical. But you do find comedy in the most unusual of places.

As I was walking through the foyer of the hospital, I couldn’t help but overhear one woman patient declare –

“I’m off outside for a breath of fresh air . . . and a fag!”

You couldn’t make it up, could you?

Years ago on another hospital visit, I recall seeing one patient alternate between oxygen mask and smouldering cigarette.

That was a sight more harrowing than funny ha-ha.

But, even in the presence of the Grim Reaper, you will often find reason to smile.

Charity and bad news for the NHS

It was a big privilege for me to host a charity concert in Porthcawl recently.

The show, at the Hi Tide Inn, Porthcawl, was organised as a massive ‘Cwtsh’ (Welsh hug) for Beth Margetson.

Beth is a victim of the so-called ‘postcode lottery system’ that currently exists in the UK.

The type of treatment Beth needs to treat her cancer is currently unavailable in Wales, but is available in England.

Her latest plan to attack the cancer involves her travelling to Germany in June for a life-extending operation.

Beth is a wonderfully warm and giving person who has contributed a huge amount to her community over the years.

Beth worked tirelessly as a community midwife serving Porthcawl, Bridgend and the surrounding communities. Along the way, we reckon she has delivered 2000 babies and won the hearts of everyone in the community during her 15-year career as a midwife.

She is one of those people who has given of herself to the community over the years, without asking for anything in return.

Now, she needs some help to keep battling cancer so we came up for this plan for some comic relief on a very local scale.

Beth has spent virtually all her lifesavings of £60,000 on private UK hospital treatments rather than wait on long NHS waiting lists for treatment.

She is currently a lecturer in Bridgend College and is still working despite her everyday pain and suffering.

To me, it seems that Beth has been let down by the system.

She has had to use her lifetime savings at exactly the time when she should be using them to enjoy herself.

I am all for the underdog in life and when I heard about Beth’s situation it was something of a ‘call to arms’ for me and my fellow comedians and artistes.

A big thank-you goes to everyone who helped with the Porthcawl gig, including photographer Rob Jones, who was the main driver of the event, and comedians Karen Steadman, Ignaccio Lopez and Aled Richards.

We were also treated to entertainment from the up-and-coming dance troupe called Global.


Cyber-bullies, playground bullies, workplace bullies, gay-bashing bullies, celebrity bullies . . .

It appears there’s more ‘bullish’ behaviour in society today than in many pedigree herds of cattle.

During our lifetimes, we’ll inevitably encounter physical or psychological bullying.

Bosses bully staff.

Big fellahs bully small fellahs.

Ambitious workmates (male and female) bully people they see as rivals for promotion.

Politicians and other people in high office bully us through baffling legislation, laws, rules and punitive taxes.

So what can we do about it?

Well, most people do nothing – for one simple reason; the fear of reprisals.

Those reprisals can take many forms – whether it’s from the swaggering, fat-bellied, loudmouthed individual in a vest who shows off his tattoos or from a large organisation that tries to blind us with ‘legalese’ and jargon in order to steamroller us into submission.

It’s happened to all of us – and here’s the proof.

Everyone used to get their dustbins emptied once a week, a service we paid for out of our council tax.

Then we were asked to recycle various items like bottles, cans, newspapers etc and given boxes of various colours in which to place them for collection. Fair enough.

But once we started doing that regularly (some might say we were doing the council’s job), without any consultation, we were told our weekly collections of rubbish were suddenly changing to fortnightly.

It wasn’t up for debate. The council spoke and we had to obey them.

And, idiots that we are, we meekly submitted to accepting that our rubbish collections would be reduced by 50%, even though we wouldn’t get a similar reduction in our council tax – in fact, it increases every year!

What do we do about it? Absolutely nothing! We prefer to remain the silent victims of bullying by the faceless men and women in the Town Hall.

I won’t generalise about schools today, although we’ve all read desperately sad stories in the newspapers about children who have been bullied so relentlessly by their wicked classmates they saw suicide as the only escape.

When I was in school, if you happened to be slight of build or wore glasses or looked ‘different’, you would get picked on. I wasn’t what you’d call an Arnold Schwarzenegger clone – although to be fair, whenever we broke up for the holidays, I’d always  say to my teachers “I’ll be back!” – a remark which made me a sort of ‘End-of Term-inator’.

Looking back, I must have been a right nutter, because I had no fear of bullies and would stand up for myself and the weaker kids.

I got into scrapes. So many, in fact, that when I’m asked what qualifications I left school with, my answer is “Just the one; a Black Belt” (to hold my trousers up, of course)!

In the business of show in which I make what is laughingly called a living, you meet bullies.

On stage or off, a comedian is always working; running through routines and mulling over whether a new piece might possibly alienate part of the audience at the next gig.

I think this awareness of other people’s sensitivities prevents us from becoming bullies ourselves and helps us suss out those in powerful positions who, purely for their own amusement, love to intimidate or humiliate others.

Since the days of the court jester, it’s been the job of the comedian to prick the balloon of pomposity and, should it be warranted, put the great and the good who lord it over us a little bit too smugly, in their place.

If, through my comedy I can have a sharply-pointed dig at overbearing bullies (without coming across as one myself) and make them think they should rein-in their unacceptable behaviour and start treating people with more respect, I’m continuing the work I did back when I was a lad, standing-up to the school bullies.