Humour the best way to deal with hecklers

Unless you’re a fan of American stand-up comedy, you may not have heard of Amy Schumer. She emerged in recent years and developed into a younger version of the late Joan Rivers.

Although as outrageous, insulting and downright rude that Joan could be on stage, she didn’t pepper her act with four-letter words like Ms. Schumer.

Since 2013 she’s had her own TV series, “Inside Amy Schumer”; she makes hit movies; and when she tours, she no longer plays cramped, sweaty comedy ‘clubs’ in basements where you go down several steps, physically and socially. This girl sells out arenas.

So you’d think with all her success, having managed to survive through the early years – and it must be far tougher for comediennes starting out than it is for their male equivalents – during which time she learned her stage craft and how to write and deliver exceptionally strong, funny material, she’d be immune to criticism from the press and the paying public.

But that just isn’t the case. She recently played the 02 Arena in London and packed the place out.

But there were posters all around the place warning audience members that, not only were they banned from filming or recording her show – which is fair enough – they were also banned from heckling her!

I’m not keen on hecklers, but they sometimes add value to a comedy show if the comedian can hit them with enough amusing insults to make them realise they’re being obnoxious.

If they’re too drunk or too stupid to realise their comments are spoiling the show for everyone else, they should be ejected.

But only when the comedian has exhausted every heckler put-down in his or her repertoire.

So with all her years of experience, why did Ms Schumer or her management put a ban on hecklers at the O2?

It may be connected to an incident at a show she performed in Stockholm in which a heckler shouted out something Ms. Schumer took exception to and she had him thrown out.

It was a crude comment, but hardly the most earth-shatteringly offensive insult she would have heard. Amy’s a powerful stage presence and could easily deal with idiot audience members.

That said, if you come to see me working, please don’t shout out what that man in Stockholm did. Because I will not get my boobs out for anyone!

Whats’s new pussycat?

We’ve all said it . . . “Well, I’ve heard everything now!” Believe me, you haven’t.

I thought it was a joke when I read it in a national paper, although it was too late for April Fool’s Day.

But it’s true. David Teie from the University of Maryland has made a CD of tunes aimed at music-loving cats, originally financed through a kick-starter scheme that raised $250,000 – proving that America is a land of rich cat-lovers.

When Universal Music heard about it, they agreed to release it all around the world!

The music features purring and suckling noises, as well as David Teie on his cello accompanied by players from the US National Symphony Orchestra.

David stresses that the CD is aimed at calming and bringing pleasure to cats, rather than getting them excited.

I’m not sure if the CD will include such tunes as “Careless Whiskers”, “A Moggy Day In London Town”;“Purrfect Day” or Slade’s “Claws I Luv You”.

What I’d really like to know is, how can you train a cat to turn a CD player on and off?

Could you live without the internet?

This week’s column comes to you directly from Oludeniz, in Turkey, where I have been relaxing and recharging my batteries for the past two weeks.

For the record, this place has not seen a drop of rain for months, temperatures have reached 42c on a regular basis and still there is no mention of a hose pipe ban. Now that wouldn’t happen in Wales!

Even when I take time off, I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve made a commitment to write a column every week for this newspaper, which prevents me from totally switching off and at times can be challenging.

But modern technology does allow me the freedom to write, engage and connect with the newspaper, the readers and my social media followers with relative ease.

Technology also keeps me informed of news updates and events back home and the four corners of the world.

These are amazing benefits, enabling communications to travel quicker than ever before – to the point where the world now seems a much smaller place.

Now then. Here is my question to you. Could you survive and would you want to live in a world without the internet?

 

Mysteriously disappeared

To find new material, comedians and comedy writers constantly view the world from a different vantage point to most people.

We step back and observe people’s peculiarities, quirks and attitudes.

Then, through hours of concentration, inspiration and perspiration, we turn our observations into routines.

The only way to tell whether they’re comedy gold or unfunny, self-indulgence is to perform them in front of an audience.

Scary!

And you thought being a comedian was easy.

One major side-effect of constantly being an ‘outside observer’ is that it opens your eyes to things going on around you that other people have missed.

For example, I bet you didn’t know that several years ago, while we all slept, the (relatively) sane world we grew up in mysteriously disappeared.

It was replaced overnight by a new world almost identical to the old one, except that behaviour and attitudes that had previously been considered bizarre were now considered acceptable – in some cases aspirational – by millions of seemingly normal people.

Desperate attention seekers who by rights should have remained hidden away within the padded walls of their abodes, unaccountably became admired, rich celebrities – either by dressing and behaving so outrageously they conned a gullible public into believing that everything they do must be touched with genius, or by being blessed with industrial-strength brass nerve and good luck.

How else can you explain why Bjork, a woman whose voice makes the sound of broken fingernails being scraped down a blackboard sound like a soothing lullaby, has been able to hoodwink people into believing she can sing?

TV Land is awash with egotistical presenters.

We really didn’t need any more.

Then, suddenly, the exceedingly unlikeable, failed newspaper editor Piers Morgan was elevated from nonentity status to became a judge on “Britain’s Got Talent” and “America’s Got Talent” and now he’s on breakfast TV, laughing at his own ‘witticisms’ for a living.

There’s more…

I’m completely and utterly baffled why ‘artist’ Grayson Perry so frequently appears on TV with rouged cheeks and red lipstick, wearing a frilly Alice-blue gown with a matching blue bow in his curly blonde wig, without reducing anyone who’s sat near him to uncontrollable laughter.

As no-one else will come out and say it, allow me.

The man looks flippin’ ridiculous!

Still need convincing our normal world wasn’t replaced by the off-kilter one we live in now?

R.I.P. Gene Wilder

As Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder sang “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination”.

Whenever you watched a Gene Wilder film he transported you to a world of pure joy.

It’s been such a terrible year for celebrity deaths that when I first heard that he’d passed away, although I realised we’d lost a comedy great, I was so involved in something else at the time I didn’t dwell on it.

Later, as I watched the tributes to him on TV, I was hit by the sad reality that the loveable, frizzy-haired actor whose performances we’ve enjoyed for decades, will never make another film or TV appearance or step onto a stage again to entertain us.

Whenever he displayed his unique comedy talents in such diverse roles as the hysterically neurotic Leo Bloom in “The Producers” (“Give me my blue blankie!”); the monster-creator in “Young Frankenstein “(“It’s pronounced ‘Franken-steen”!); and the hapless would-be adulterer in “The Woman In Red”, the world seemed a better place for a little while.

We’ll miss you, Gene.

The man in Rio

I bet you didn’t know this, but my good friend Robert Lloyd, Llanelli based media consultant, is in Rio for the Olympics and Paralympics. He kept that one quiet!

Who would have thought that Llanelli would have sent out such a talent to ensure the proper coverage of the games?

Judging by the regular snippets of information working their way to us via social media the man is mixing with the world’s greatest athletes and having access to all areas, thereby in an ideal position to report on the goings on behind the scenes, which without doubt will be a source of so many amazing stories in the weeks and months to come.

This has to be the ideal dream job for anyone who has a passion for sport.

There is no better way to experience the highs and lows of today’s world class athletes.

But my spies have told me that he is more than just a bit home sick at this time.

It just goes to show that home is where the heart is and that every adventure must come to an end.

You can take the man out of Wales but you can’t take Wales out of the man.

With a bit of luck he may even bring me back a fridge magnet!

Originals still the best

FORGET REMAKES, RE-BOOTS AND RE-IMAGININGS – GIVE ME THE ORIGINALS!

I enjoy a good film either, at the cinema or at home on my giant 12-inch, black and white telly with its state-of-the-art on/off switch.

Certain films, thanks to the rare alchemy of a first-class cast, script, direction and cinematography, can never be bettered – like “The Magnificent Seven”; “Mary Poppins”; “The Dam Busters”; “An American Werewolf in London” and “Ben-Hur”.

It would take a foolish man to consider remaking any of them. Unfortunately, Hollywood is full of foolish men.

All the above films are either being re-made or are ready to be released. The 1959 “Ben-Hur” won 11 Oscars and boasted an all-star cast, including Charlton Heston, Hugh Griffith and Jack Hawkins, plus dozens of familiar character actors in support.

The 2016 version stars Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell. No . . . me neither.

The 1959 version used massive sets and thousands of extras – particularly in the famous chariot-race.

The 2016 version features a lot of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). I could go on. As you well know . . .

With so many great books screaming out to be adapted to the screen and thousands of new scripts written every year, it seems pointless remaking something that’s perfect.

Which brings me to the BBC’s current obsession with making new versions of classic sitcoms.

I know they’re celebrating “Sixty Years of BBC Sitcoms”, but what is the point of making new versions of 30 or 40-year old sitcoms (at the moment just one-offs) with new casts, when the originals are so much better?

And the reason they’re better is: they were original!

I wasn’t a huge fan of the original “Are You Being Served” but whenever I tuned in, it always made me chuckle.

Yes it was full of double entendres and outrageous characters, but the show amused 18 million viewers every week.

The recent remake (updated to 1988) was penned by the writer of “Benidorm”, which is usually tucked away well after the watershed.

So no surprise that halfway through the 2016 version, double-entendres were suddenly replaced by single-entendres about . . . well, seek it out for yourself, whenever ‘You’re free’!

In the mildly amusing “Porridge” remake that followed, Fletch’s ‘Jack The Lad’ grandson shared a cell with an old lag – a clever reversal of the Fletch/Godber dynamic.

Which reminds me, I know someone who went to prison for pouring Domestos over a vicar. He’s doing two years for a bleach of the priest.

I’m here every Wednesday.

The deep sleep

SLEEP. We all need a good night’s sleep to recharge the batteries and to maintain good health. How else will our bodies repair?

Some of you reading this will, without doubt have a few sleep challenges, which can range from insomnia, not needing much sleep, to needing more sleep than most.

But for me, it’s vivid dreams on an extremely regular basis.

This could be down to the fact I have an over active mind or the fact that I don’t relax or unwind before bed time.

Either that or there could be a much more serious underlying cause. Who knows?

One thing is for sure, my disturbed dreams could easily be part of a documentary on the subject of sleep and the source of many after dinner stories. In fact I could easily dine out on my back catalogue of vivid dream for many years to come.

The good thing is, I stopped sleep walking many years back, but if you do spot me walking the streets in my pyjamas late at night, don’t wake me up just point me in the right direction home. Thanks in advance.

Just capture the magic!

My good friend and official show photographer, Rob Jones from Porthcawl, has taught me many valuable lessons over the years and is a firm believer that magic moments and memories must be captured and recorded on a regular basis.

At long last I’m now beginning to understand the importance of capturing memories of special occasions, family, friends and events that have helped shape us and turn us into the people we are today.

Looking back has so many benefits and often helps us relive feelings of joy and reflect on the good times and sometimes of the people that we now so dearly miss.

Like everything else though, there is always a down side. Like the hair cut, clothes and in my case a slimmer version.

With dementia become more of a concern to many families, taking a trip down memory lane whilst looking through old photos can be such a blessing and often provide that much needed relief to the pain and suffering attached to this debilitating condition.

We may not yet have a cure for dementia but our minds can still benefit and be stimulated by pictures of days gone by.