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GIGS 2013

Sunday 5th May 2013

Hop Leaf, Reading, RG1 2QZ

Boho at The Hop open-mic hosted by Rob Sowden

"I Walked Into a Pub..."

and slipped on some dog shit just inside the door. I went crashing into the bar but didn't really hurt myself. Once I'd recovered, I got my drink. Moments later, another guy came into the pub and did exactly the same thing. Once he'd stood up, I said:" I did that." Horrified, the guy grabbed me by the collar and said "You filthy Ba**stard!" and thumped me!

I know, I know, it's the way I tell them. Actually the joke is one which I felt I could retell in front of The Hop Leaf drinkers having only just seen it half an hour earlier on an excellent Dave Allen documentary shown on BBC TV. The joke was pertinent to my performance as the documentary had inspired me to go to The Hop Leaf after I had actually planned to have the night off as I'd been feeling under the weather over the weekend.

There's something special about Dave Allen which I've always liked ever since a kid. He always seemed cool, besuited with his whiskey, cigarette and half finger. Later, I was even more enamoured with him as I learned that he was serious painter. And actually, I think this came out in the documentary. Dave Allen wasn't just a comedian, he was more an artist for whom one part of his art was comedy. From the documentary I also learned that he had even been threatened by the IRA for his comedic sketches which focused on the dubious aspects of organised religion. And yet, as I mentioned at the end of my set tonight, he would always end his shows with: "May your God go with you". What a more peaceful world we would live in if more of us said that.

But it was the clips of his performances that inspired me to get off my arse and go to the open-mic tonight. The guy would be just sat there, motionless practically but captivating nevertheless with his stories, unlike the attention deficit shouty comedians of today. Seeing those clips just made me think to myself I want to perform tonight.

And am I pleased that I went along. The Hop Leaf had a great atmosphere and was packed, as usual, with high quality acts. In some ways it's unfair to pick out favourites but if it's understood it's mostly based on taste then notable highlights for me were Luke Paulo and Will Woodward (on snare drum) performing one of my favourite songs of Luke's called Hey Annie and then Helen Cuthberston-Reid playing a set with Davina Phillips on tambourine and backing vocals. Since the first time I saw Helen at the beginning of the year I've liked her performances, they're full of energy, she has a great voice and I like the way she moves and this was all amplified tonight with the dynanism of Davina accompanying her. Even if I say so myself, I thought it was a great suggestion of mine to get Helen and Davina to do backing vocals for Rob Sowden's finale for the evening. I thought that worked really well though I'm not sure I got the mix on the desk as good as it could've been.

The only blip on what for me was an otherwise excellent night was Roger "Splodge" Watson' 's satirical song on the subject of Jimmy Saville, Stuart Hall et al (for those of you not living in the UK these are celebrities found guilty of historical sex-crimes). In his song, Roger named (and shamed) others who have been arrested on similar charges but thus far haven't been found guilty. Living in one of the world's few free societies where you're innocent until proven guilty I was uncomfortable with the inferences he was making and pretty crudely I might add, which, in addition to being unjustified seemed to offer little respect to the victims or indeed women. You only need one of these guys named in the song to make a robust response to unproven allegations as Lord McAlpine did recently for you to find yourself in very deep water indeed. Roger can look after himself but I wonder what the legal ramifications would be for Rob, the host, or indeed the landlord. Although these are potentially worrisome legal issues, what I feel is more important is that the song was very "blokeish", "barrack-roomish" which although popular with the audience tonight, perhaps because of its shock value / offensiveness, also I believe exemplifies an "everything is all just a laugh" mindset that could be factor in how these crimes were allowed to take place in the first place.

There are some of Roger's songs that I like but there have also been one or two recently that have made me uneasy. It's interesting to consider the difference between Dave Allen's humour and Roger's in this instance: the former seems to be artfully using humour to make a point, the latter tastelessly using a point to make humour.

My Set:

Don't forget I have a 30mins set at The Hook and Tackle, Reading (RG1 2ND) this Thursday at 8:45pm.

And also you only have a few days left to vote for Joanne Kelly here.