Welsh Factor big leap

Welsh Factor move a great leap forward for stars of the future.

Last week, I heard some great news about Wales’ biggest and best talent competition, The Welsh Factor.

The name of “Welsh Factor” will be included in the Welsh Joint Education Committee GCSE curriculum for music next year throughout every Welsh School, and also a few in England and other countries throughout the world. This is fantastic news.

Students will be asked to compose a song that could be performed on The Welsh Factor as part of their music exam.

I am sure this will be great exposure for the team at Welsh Factor and also a wonderful opportunity for our youngsters to research the talent competition, therefore enabling our up and coming Welsh stars to showcase their talent.

This has opened up endless possibilities for promoting talent in Wales. We have so much of it right on our doorstep.

Welsh Factor has touched so many lives so far and is destined to continue to do so in the future.

For those who wish to take part and start their journey, check out www.welshfactor.com

Calling for a cure

Calling all cures for an over-active imagination.

When people have too much spare time on their hands, their minds can create questions they might not otherwise have asked.

If you disagree with this thinly-disguised set-up for a couple of jokes at the end of the article, it’s probably best that you turn the page . . .

I started mulling over strange questions while in my doctor’s waiting room recently – and to calm the one reader who might be concerned about my health, I wasn’t there for medical reasons.

The previous time I was there – three years ago – from a pile of well-thumbed magazines, provided to help patients pass the time, I picked up a copy of “Archaeology Monthly” (for the prehistoric mounds on Page 3!) and I was halfway through a fascinating article on Ancient Roman mosaics, when I was called into the doctor’s consulting room.

So, as I had some time on my hands last week, I popped back to see if I could finish the article.

Three years had passed – and I was disappointed.

The magazine was still there, but the remainder of the article wasn’t as fascinating as the section I’d read.

As I didn’t have anything pressing to do – I’d ironed all my shirts the day before – I sat back and let random thoughts pass through my mind.

Like . . .

Why do people whose mobile telephones have the loudest, most annoying ring-tones always take longer to answer them than the rest of us?

When did shop assistants stop asking customers “Can I help you?” and replace it with the almost-uninterested “Are you alright there?”

They used to be worn by motorway policemen, railway workers and others employed in hazardous occupations. Now anyone can wear them. Why is the Government turning a blind eye to Hi-Visibility Jackets?

If anyone wants me, I’ll be at the doctors having my blood pressure checked.

We didn’t stop laughing

The Phil Evans and Friends Comedy Night was a fantastic evening of entertainment. From start to finish Phil was the consummate professional and he made co-ordinating the evening a breeze. As for the evening itself, well it was comedy genius.  We had a diverse audience and the line up offered something for everyone – we didn’t stop laughing. Thanks Phil

Cathy Thomas – Neath, Wales

Feedback makes the weekly challenge worthwhile

Thanks for the feedback.

Those astute readers among you will realise that my South Wales Evening Post column has now been going since June, 2014. This is my 170th column edition.

When I was approached to become a regular contributor to this well-established daily paper it was a total surprise.

Up until that point, it was not something that I had even thought of adding to my repertoire!

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I could deliver content on a regular basis with rigid deadlines.

In addition to this, I was fully aware that the media eats up material at a tremendous rate of knots and new, creative and interesting content was always going to be a challenge.

The technology was also an issue: would my typewriter cope with the extra work?

Are spare parts still available?

I am so glad I took on the challenge. The amazing positive feedback I get (not only off the readers in Wales but as far afield as Ireland, Switzerland, Canada and America) makes it all worthwhile.

I meet so many fascinating characters with interesting stories on my travels.

Without them this space would probably contain Saturday’s lottery numbers and more adverts. Just a thought.

Ease the stress of exam time

Stressful time and exams

Last month we once again saw the annual TV news reports of school pupils reacting to their GCSE and ‘A’ level results and, by now, those who stayed on will be hard at work once again, while those who were fortunate to find a place at university will be preparing for their first term.

I’m sure the experience will be, in equal measures, exciting and daunting.

I remember my school days without any sense of nostalgia. All I recall is learning and retaining facts, dates, names, battles, kings, queens, countries, oceans . . . and the ins and outs of an isosceles triangle.

Since then, I have never once had to use my vast knowledge of isosceles triangles. But next time you see me, by all means ask and I’ll explain. It’s a great cure for insomnia . . .

Today, the pressure on pupils to do well in exams is enormous. The build-up before taking exams can cause all sorts of stress to many school children.

More stress can follow when they get their results, because the fact is, not every pupil will pass all their exams.

I wish they could be reassured that failing exams in your teens doesn’t mean you won’t succeed after you leave school. Great opportunities can await you no matter how old you are.

Samaritans Cymru say lessons in emotional and mental health should be compulsory so pupils can learn to cope with life events and to ask for emotional support. That would reduce emotional distress and the stigma of mental health.

That they consider such a stigma exists in 2017 I find quite shocking – as are these statistics . . .

18,000 youngsters in Wales were referred to mental health services in 2016 and in 2015 almost 1200 young girls in Wales were admitted to A & E because they’d self-harmed.

I think the sooner those sensible recommendations of Samaritans Cymru are implemented, the better.

Phil Evans and friends

Phil Evans & Friends. Neath Athletic Under-13s fund raising event:

Not often do I get the opportunity to bring together ‘The Phil Evans and Friends’ comedy showcase to support a local cause. But, last week, we found ourselves entertaining staunch supporters of the Neath Athletic Under-13s.

The purpose of the comedy night was to raise much needed funds to help with the associated expenses of supporting a tour for the future up-and-coming rugby talent that is evidently present in this team of youngsters.

The event was held at the Neath Athletic clubhouse to a sell-out audience, thanks to the drive and determination of Kevin and Cathy Thomas, whose son Harri is one of the players.

It was clear from the wonderfully warm reception that we received that true community spirit is evident in this club.

I’m a firm believer that supporting and encouraging our youngsters will pay huge dividends in the long run.

I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time that the club hold such an event as everyone entered into the spirit of the evening and a great time was had by all.

Breakfast TV

Breakfast TV

Whenever I watch a brace of breakfast TV presenters ‘bring me up to date’ with what’s been happening in the world since I cuddled-up with my Teddy Bear the night before, it feels like I’m being beaten over the head with a rolled-up newspaper that only features Trump, North Korea and Brexit.

As the two presenters take turns reading the autocue – first him, then her, then him, then her – it’s like listening to a gloomy, tuneless duet. What a way to start the day!

Incidentally, why are two news presenters necessary on breakfast TV, but just one after six pm?

I’ve complained before about ITV One’s mean attitude towards ‘opting out’ to the regions during their breakfast TV show.

In Wales, Andrew “Gooooood Morning!” Jones tears through local news, sport and travel in 90 seconds – which includes an advert for the coffee shop chain sponsoring the weather report!

But having recently watched some local evening news programmes that struggled to fill 30 minutes, I now think 90 seconds might be over generous.

It’s not just local news that frequently features a report so uninteresting that even the person(s) it features would be tempted to switch channels before it finished.

BBC, ITV and Sky all recently covered the story of a Swedish woman who’d lost her wedding ring 16 years ago and found it in her garden, wrapped around a carrot.  Hold the front page!

Film crews and reporters were hurriedly dispatched to her home. I watched incredulously as each rolling news channel interviewed her for two . . . three . . . five . . . seven minutes!

In the space of 12 hours I saw that ring and carrot so many times I could paint it from memory, with my eyes shut, wearing a blindfold, in a darkened room,

Believe me that’s a much more constructive way to pass the time than watching rolling TV news.

People watching

People watching is part and parcel of every comedian’s way of life.

Last week, I arrived early to meet up with a friend at a coffee shop in Llanelli. On the next table I witnessed a middle-aged lady get up from her chair to leave. Nothing strange there you might think, but . . .

She had dark glasses and a white stick. Clearly, she looked as if she was visually impaired.

However, as she walked out, she spotted a 5p under the next table, walked over, picked it up and put it in her purse, turned to walk out of the café and knocked over a chair.

Now then, even I hadn’t spotted it. Surely I’m not the only one to see the funny side of this?

This act amused me no end and even as I write I can see the funny side of the incident.

It reminds me of another funny story as I was parked at traffic lights in Ammanford last year.

A lady on her mobility scooter, smoking a cigarette, crossed the road in front of me at quite a fast pace, causing some of her shopping to fall out of her basket.

As I got out of the car to help her, she had already jumped off of her scooter, run around picking up her shopping and returned it to the basket, jumped back on board and scootered off. Cigarette still intact!

I think I witnessed a miracle.

Clean up Wales

THE BIG WELSH CLEAN UP

Comedians are accustomed to having their egos bruised. Like heather in the Highlands, it comes with the territory.

Although I work hard to make every audience member laugh, inevitably there’ll be a few who cross their arms and refuse to crack a smile.  Why these relatives of mine come to all my shows I have no idea!

Not everyone enjoys my Evening Post articles because I’ve received some letters which say “You’re rubbish!”

Ironically, these reader’s letters eventually become rubbish because, after carefully making a note of all my alleged failings, they go in my paper recycling.

I hope you recycle and that when you’re out and about you drop your empty cans, bottles, crisp packets and fast-food wrappers into the nearest bin or take them home and recycle any items that can be.

A friend of mine, who wouldn’t like to be described as ‘obsessed’ with litter (even though he is, which is far from being a criticism!), often picks up empty plastic bottles which have been discarded by thoughtless youngsters in his local park.

The most he collected in one brief stroll around the park was 27 – a mix of large pop bottles and soft drink and water bottles.

He takes them home and pops them in the appropriate recycling box.

If we all did this, there might not be any need for this month’s Big Welsh Clean Up campaign.

The campaign wants all of us to . . .

Be involved, Be proud and Be Tidy to help clean up Wales in one of the country’s biggest clean-up campaigns and give people of all ages the opportunity to volunteer and to get together to help spruce up their local community.

For more information, e-mail betidy@keepwalestidy.cymru

There!

I’ve made a small contribution towards cleaning-up our communities. Now it’s your turn . . .

GIANTS ONCE WALKED AMONGST US

Thanks for the great memories.

A man once sidled up to me and said . . .“You know, Phil, some comedians’ popularity completely baffles me.  When I see other people doubled-up with laughter watching them – on stage, on film or on TV – while I sit there unmoved, my face a silent mask of bewilderment at the giggling, chortling and thigh-slapping going on around me, I often wonder if I’m a member of the same species!”.

Well, I don’t know what you’d say in response to that, but my reply was simple and direct.

“I can see you feel strongly about this, but would you please get off the stage because I’m only half-way through my act!”

One comedian who divided opinion was Jerry Lewis, who sadly died on August 20th. aged 91. Like him or not, he’d been world-famous since the late 1940s.

In life, his comedy timing was immaculate – but in death it failed him because he had the misfortune to pass away while British newspapers and TV channels were still eulogising Bruce Forsyth, who’d died a couple of days before.

Although Bruce had an incredible career on British television, he regretted that, despite several attempts, he never made it in America. I suppose the U.S.A. had so many of their own ‘song and dance men’ it didn’t need to import one from across The Pond

Conversely, while Jerry’s talents as comedian, writer and director were revered in America, over here his often manic style of comedy wasn’t quite so popular.

However, even if you’re not a Jerry Lewis fan but interested in the nuts and bolts of comedy, see Martin Scorsese’s “King Of Comedy” in which Jerry’s superb as an egotistical TV talk show host.

No doubt Bruce and Jerry teed off today on the great celestial golf course while arguing good-naturedly about who was the funniest!

Goodbye Bruce and Jerry. And thanks for the laughs.