Welcome to my website
Hello everyone. I'm Tony Jameson, a stand up comedian from the north-east, and this, right here, is my website. Welcome. Feel free to have a look around. No need to take your shoes off either, we're all friends.
I first stepped on stage in September, 2008, where I set about balancing the life of a full time college lecturer with that of an aspiring comedian. Cut forward to August 2012, where I quit my job (OK, I got made redundant) and made the transition to full time comic, and have enjoyed every (most) minute of it. I've been fortune enough to perform all over the country, with some of the biggest acts on the circuit, and at the best comedy clubs the UK has to offer.
I am currently performing at, or compering the top weekend clubs, along with various other independent promoters, across the country.
These include The Stand, Off The Kerb, Glee, House of Fun, Last Laugh, Just The Tonic, Highlight, Hilarity Bites, Ten Feet Tall, Comedy Central.
I have been fortunate enough to have supported WWE Hall of Famer, Mick Foley as part of his UK tour. I even did a couple of pre-tour warm up shows for Kevin Bridges, Stewart Francis and Frankie Boyle at The Stand. I was also part of Dave's Comedy in the Dark tour in 2012, and performed at BBC Comedy Presents at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013.
I have performed the following shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival:
2014 Tony Jameson: The Rules of Engagement @ The Stand
2013 Tony Jameson: Football Manager Ruined My Life @ The Stand
2012 Tony Jameson & Katie Mulgrew: Tell Tales @ The Stand
So thats a bit of background about me, so you're probably wondering what can you expect to find on my website?
Well, I kept it fairly simple. I've got a section where I've put all my gigs, should you wish to come and see a show.
If you click on the banner adverts at the top of this site (provided you haven't got some kind of ad blocking software running) you'll get more info on other shows I'm doing / working on.
We've made a section for a blog on this site. I've been told I'm supposed to write in it. Whether I find anything to write about may be a different story entirely, but its there, so pop the kettle on and have a read.
Finally, maybe you've got a Football Manager story you want to share. Maybe you've found a beer I might like (real / craft ale please). You might just want to drop me an email to say hello. Or even better, offer me a gig (that would be nice). To do that, simply click the email button at the top.
Thanks for stopping by.
Can Tim Sherwood fix a problem like Villa
A piece I wrote for The Secret Footballer...
In the four days it’s taken me to write this article, my piece has gone from ‘Why have we not sacked Lambert yet?’ To, ‘Finally, he’s been sacked. Now who do we get to replace him?’ To, ‘Oh dear, its Tim Sherwood on a three year deal’.
For me, the decision to end Paul Lamberts tenure at Villa Park should really have come at the end of last season. Naturally, whilst Randy Lerner put the ‘For Sale’ signs up at the club, recruiting a new manager may have been a slightly difficult task, so he chose to stick with Lambert for the foreseeable future, but to give him a new four year contract after four games seemed mind boggling. Lambert was already losing support amongst the Villa faithful, and by serving up a record breaking campaign (fewest shots, fewest goals, biggest defat, longest run without a win, longest run without a goal, you get the picture), the sword finally fell on him after a relegation 6 pointer against Hull.
In his post match interview, he looked defeated. The crowd had turned. Despite Randy’s reluctance to relieve a manager of their duties during the season, with the Premier League TV rights now totalling £5bn, the time for a change was long overdue, and Lambert was put out of his misery.
But who could we convince to join us for the remaining 13 games? It’s hardly a great sell, is it? Here’s a club that has scored less than 91 league teams. Has now slipped into the relegation zone. The transfer window has closed. Moral is low. The list of potential candidates, at first glance, did not make pretty viewing.
Had we acted a month beforehand, I’m sure Tony Pullis would be in charge. A man who has never been relegated from the Premier League. A man who has actually gone on to effectively save West Broms season.
Steve McLaren was never going to leave high flying Derby, especially after our ‘protest’ at the very fact we offered him an interview before giving the job to Alex McLeish. For years Randy Lerners dream manager David Moyes, is now plying his trade in Spain, so once again is unattainable. Even Jurgen Klopp looks like he wouldn’t want to swap one relegation battle for another.
There was still one manager who seemed to be linked to any vacant position that was being considered. Now, on paper, and particularly at first glance, Tim Sherwood seems like a decent choice. He’s not the sort of manager to shy away from saying exactly what he thinks about the players or performances. He’s seen as one of the best up-and-coming British managers. But, in a relegation battle, is he really the right man for the job?
Football fans often clamour for ‘Premier League experience’ like some sort of accolade of achievement, be it from players or managers, yet Sherwood has only managed 28 games. That’s not just 28 games in the top flight, that’s 28 games in his entire career. His total experience is less than one season. But some will wax lyrical about his 50% win percentage. But what they will fail to mention, is that out of those 28 games, he lost 10 with a Spurs side that has a lot more talent in it than Villas squad.
It’s a gamble hiring Sherwood, and one I’m not 100% sold on frankly. For me, I’d be asking questions about who his backroom staff are, and if / when he’ll be bringing them in. A few people have suggested that Chris Ramsey may have been the ‘brains behind the operation’ when they worked together at Spurs, given the fact he’s taken the reigns at QPR, that leaves a big hole to be filled. There’s also the uncertainty of who his assistant will be. Will he be looking to bring someone with a wealth of knowledge and experience with him? Someone like Glenn Hoddle maybe? Please don’t be arrogant enough to think you can go it alone.
Opinion seems to be split amongst the Villa fans as to whether Sherwood is the right choice. He seems passionate, if not a little unhinged at times. He’s clearly a good coach, but is he a good manager? Why did Randy offer a 3 ½ year deal when we could be relegated in 13 games time? Is he just looking forward to paying out more compensation in the event that his gamble doesn’t pay off?
For me, I’d have preferred Big Sam. He comes with a wealth of experience at both ends of the table. A manager who is as capable of working with no money as he is with big money. A manager who can play hoofball or actual football, depending on what is required from the team. A manager who makes his teams hard to beat. A West Midlands man. A manager with only 2 months left on his current deal with no signs of being offered an extension. I don’t think Sam Allardyce would’ve been the worst decision.
If the timing of the situation was better (pre transfer window, say) I would’ve looked to implement a new philosophy throughout the club. I’d have looked at the Swansea / Southampton / German models of making sure every level of the club plays the same way. Focusing on developing players and a ‘Villa style’ of play. I’d have looked at managers like Jocelyn Gourvennec at Guincamp. Former Mainz manager, Thomas Tuchel. Remi Garde is currently on sabbatical from Lyon. Paco Jemez at Rayo Vallecano. Or maybe even Cesare Prandelli, an Aston Villa fan, by all accounts. Maybe we could’ve brought fellow Villa fan, Gianluca Pagliuca with him.
Sadly, none of these options were being explored. Sherwood has been given the role, and he’s got 13 games to prove he’s the right man for the job. Am I convinced? Nope, not in the slightest. I’ve felt that we’ve been heading for relegation since Houllier took over, and maybe this is one season too far. If we do somehow survive, it’ll be interesting to see who Sherwood brings in (oh, he’s never had to sign a player before either, so hopefully we’ll be hiring a Director of Football / Head of Recruitment to help with all that). Just please don’t let Carles Gill go for a pittance. Even after a handful of appearances, I already feel sorry for the lad that he’s having to play in such a poor team.
Good luck Tim, you’re going to need it. If we do go down, I can’t see us bouncing straight back up. As a fan, it breaks my heart seeing my club going down without a fight. Hopefully Sherwood can give us a bit of bite. If you do keep us up, I’ll buy you a new gilet as a thank you.
End of the road for Blyth Spartans
FA Cup dream is over, but what a journey
Yesterday I was very proud to have experienced the 3rd round of the FA Cup between Blyth Spartans and Birmingham City. With six leagues separating them, the chance of an upset was there for all to see, and by all, I mean Norwegian TV! Big shout out to NRK.
For some strange reason, the television cameras in the UK decided that it wasn't worth broadcasting from Croft Park, and to be honest, they missed a true FA Cup tie.
With the ground packed to the rafters (4,200 was the official capacity, 1,00 of which were traveling Birmingham fans), the atmosphere was electric. I squeezed myself up on the terrace and got settled in for what I hoped would be a game to tell the grandkids. The sun was beating down. The fans were in great voice. The pitch was awful, but that's non league football for you.
Spartans survived an early scare when Nicola Zigic had a goal disallowed for a push. In fact, he then missed an easy chance to put the visitors 1-0 up, but managed to scoop the ball over the stand when it was easier to score. Chants of "you're just a shit Robbie Dale" rang out from the home fans. After surviving these two early scares, Spartans started to grow into the game. Granted there wasn't much tika taka football on display from either team (Birmingham were quite happy to lump the ball upfield and hope for flick ons). The game turned on 36 mins, when Jarrett Rivers got away down the Spartans left, he then cut inbetween two defenders and into the box, before squaring the ball to the back post and an unmarked Robbie Dale who smashed the ball into the net to give Blyth the lead. Croft Park erupted. And you know what, it got even better on 43 mins, when Spartans won a free kick on the edge of the box. Turnbull, rather than taking a shot, layed the ball off to Robbie Dale, which caught the Birmingham defense completely off guard. Dale then skipped across the box, drawing three defenders out of position before tucking the ball in the bottom far corner. 2-0 Spartans. This was the stuff of dreams. Could it possibly happen? The Spartans fans were beginning to believe.
Into the second half, and Gary Rowett must've given his Birmingham lads a right telling off at half time, cos they came out as if they'd had rockets put up them. Robbie Dale ducked out of a 60/40 challenge (in his favour) on the half way line (probably due to already being on a yellow card from the first half), and Lee Novak went down the Spartans right. He was held up briefly, but after a little interchange of passes, he drilled the ball in at the near post to make it 2-1. A little more than 3 mins later, things went from bad to worse. A long ball (the tactic of the day) went over the top of the Spartans defense for Wes Thomas to run onto, which he took in his stride and coolly netted at the near post. However, with the benefit of a TV replay on Match of the Day, the ball did appear to bounce up onto his arm, so technically... I'm just saying. Croft Park was then silenced 4 mins later when a corner came in and Wes Thomas found himself unmarked in the centre of the six yard box to head in Birminghams third. Spartans took three heavy right hands in quick succession, and it was unclear whether they'd survive. They were clinging to the ropes for the next 10 mins, but again, the visitors allowed the hosts to play their way back into the match.
Whatever was happening from Birmingham was all coming down their left hand side. Whatever was happening for Spartans was coming down their right hand side. Brilliant viewing if you were sat in the Port of Blyth stand as most of the play came down your near touchline.
Spartans huffed and puffed. Trying their best to create something out of nothing. Robbie Dale shot wide late on. A replay was almost on the cards when a last minute corner was headed agonisingly wide. It wasn't the final chance of the match either. A long ball through to Dan Maguire, saw him take a wonderful touch to beat the defender, but he was always leaning back, and ended up firing over the bar in injury time.
It was a shame to see Spartans lose, as they genuinely deserved to get something from the game. Eventually, Birminghams quality, fitness and physical strength shone through. Heart and desire only you get you so far, but the Blyth lads have done themselves, the club, and the supporters proud.
I doubt Croft Park will see 4,200 next Saturday with they entertain Belper Town, but those who turned out last night will be able to say "I was there", and I'll definitely be back there at some point before the end of the season.
New year, new goals
And a time for reflection on 2014
Happy New Year everyone. I know we're on day 2, but lets face it, no one does anything on New Years Day. Most are recovering from New Years Eve. I must admit, I wasn't that bad, as my New Year ended up being me and the wife just sat indoors. We cooked a nice meal, and she had 4 drinks. Seriously, 4!
As we enter 2015, it's a good time to set some goals. What do I want to achieve this year? What can I improve upon from last year? But it's also a time for reflection. What was I proud of? What could I do better?
I spoke to a friend of mine recently who asked how I felt about 2014? I said, "I could take another one of those. Overall, a solid 6/7".
I suppose the thing I was most proud of, was doing my first UK tour. When the idea was first mooted, I was delighted at the prospect, but also incredibly nervous. I know where I am in the grand scheme of the comedy circuit, and didn't want to be seen to be touring before my time, but I knew with the title of my show, people weren't necessarily coming to see 'Tony Jameson', they were coming to see 'something about Football Manager'. So how did it go? Well, I'm delighted to say it was a success. Naturally there was some shows that didn't have a great turn out (Liverpool, I'm looking at you). But then again, there was some fantastic shows. The proudest moment of my comedy career so far, was selling out The Stand in Newcastle. It was an amazing feeling to walk into my home town comedy club and seeing so many people (none of whom I knew) come out to support the show. I filmed it aswell, so maybe that will the show I'll release. We'll see.
Football Manager also allowed me to make my debut on the silver screen last year. When I first heard about the idea, I thought I'd be a short talking head, but when I saw the finished piece, I didn't realise how heavily I'd be featured. At the time of writing this, the film has been aired in over 48 different countries, and is tearing up the iTunes downloads chart. I never expected to be in a film, so that was a lovely moment. The fact that my footage was shot at Blyth Spartans made the footage even more special for me.
Continuing on my media trips, I've also started a radio show with a fellow comic, Andy Fury. Andy and I get on really well, and when the chance to do the show with him came about, we both thought it sounded like a lot of fun. I quite like radio (I'm not one who fancies doing TV), so if it serves to act as a show reel for something in the future, or even just something fun to do with a mate, I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do this year with it, providing we don't get sacked by February for saying something we're not supposed to on air.
I was also pleased to have performed my second solo show at The Stand during the Fringe last year. When I did the Football Manager shows, I was conscious that my numbers were giving me a false sense of turnout for my shows. Thankfully last years shows had healthy numbers also, and they were actually really fun shows. It's always an honour to perform a festival show at The Stand, and I'm glad that the faith they showed in me was worth the gamble.
So what do I want from 2015? Well, I'm already looking to extend my Football Manager tour to take in 2015. We missed some very big regions out in 2014, so to get back on the road with that will be great fun. I would also like to release a DVD of the show. It may be the show from The Stand, or maybe, with the help of Sports Interactive, we might set up another London show and release that instead. Either way, I'd like to do it.
I'd like to gig overseas. I'm 34 now, and I'm conscious that I've not really seen much of the world. If comedy can help me visit some countries that I may never get to normally, then that would be fantastic.
Yesterday I agreed to go to my first live NFL game at Wembley this year. It's not my 49ers unfortunately, but the Buffalo Bills aren't a bad team. I've been an NFL fan since the 80's when Channel 4 first broadcast it, so it should be fantastic to see a game in the flesh. Hopefully it won't be too long til there's a London franchise, and then that might open the door for a Scottish team for me to follow.
Like most people at this time of the year, I'm also looking to get into shape. I started DDP Yoga and running last year, and absolutely loved it. However, I fell into the same trap everyone does where they claim they don't have the time to keep up with it. The truth is, I've got quite a bit of time on my hands during the day, so I clearly wasn't using my time constructively. I signed up for the gym at the back end of December, and have actually been a few times, and you know what, I'm actually enjoying it. I always associated going to the gym with watching meat heads lift weights, but given the fact I can go during the day, I've actually got a fairly empty gym to play with. So yeah, I'm gonna get in shape, and shift the 2 1/2 stone I appear to have added to myself since I last properly looked at my weight.
Ultimately, I need to work harder. I perhaps didn't work at the top of my abilities last year, and if I want to continue to be a comedian for the rest of my days, then I can't take the job for granted. I'm fully appreciative of the fact that I can do this as a job, and not have to step back into the classroom on a daily basis, so if I'm to become the touring comic I want to be, then it's gonna involve me putting in a bit more graft. I'm gonna keep going with my podcast, I'm also looking to start a book, and hopefully this will be the year I can actually delete Facebook.
I want this year to be busy, because if all goes according to plan, 2016 could see me having to deal with a mini Tony, which would be absolutely fantastic.
Happy New Year to you all. I hope 105 brings you health, wealth and happiness. Guess it's time for me to nip to the gym now for some clanging and banging.
Alan leaves Newcastle to go back to Crystal Palace
Newcastle fans have finally got their wish. Alan Pardew has left the club. A manager who never really won the Geordie faithful over has been onto a hiding to nothing ever since Mike Ashley convinced him to sign an 8 year contract to ward off speculation linking him with the vacant England managers position. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but everyone in the world knew that an 8 year contract for Pardew (and his entire backroom staff) was never going to end well. Granted, Newcastle had a good season that year, but it should also be mentioned that the Premier League was in the start of its decline. It was a poor season, and Newcastle capitalised.
With Newcastle ending the season in 6th, the Toon Army declared Pardew was a mastermind. It's not exactly true though, is it? One his major plus points however, was that his scout clearly spent a lot of time in France and recommended some good signings, who went on to play well in the Premier League for Newcastle. Cabaye was (and still is) a quality midfielder. However, it was rumored that he was set to join Villa instead had Gerrard Houllier not suffered another health set back at the end of his reign at Villa Park. Mattieu Debuchy, everyone knew was a great player, hence why he now plays for Arsenal. Loic Remy was known to most football fans, so wasn't exactly a risk. Demba Ba managed to stay fit at Newcastle, so that was a risk that paid off after picking up £35m for Andy Carroll in perhaps the greatest example of mugging another club on transfer deadline day. Tiote and Sissoko add the metal to the midfield, but again, they weren't exactly 'discovered' by Newcastle. This season Ayzone Perez looks like he could be the signing of the season, but lets face it, he'll be playing for someone like Spurs come the end of this campaign.
Like most managers though, for every good manager, there's a few stinkers to add to the crop. Papis Cisse, I'm still not convinced by. Gouffran just isn't good enough. Obertan is hopeless. Do you remember Davide Santon? Where did he go? Possibly injured? I doubt it would make much difference if he was fit, cos it hasn't seemed to work out for him.
On paper, that doesn't sound like too bad a squad. So how has it not worked out for Pardew? The simple answer, is probably fans expectations versus the actual ability of the football club and the manager. When Pardew was announced as Newcastle boss, the fans felt it was an under whelming appointment. Why? Because he's not a flashy European manager. Would Pardew get Newcastle playing like Barcelona? Of course he wouldn't. He doesn't have the players. Arsene Wenger can't even get Arsenal playing like that consistently.
So why has Pardew left? Well, he does have an affiliation with Crystal Palace, so it's hardly surprising that he's decided to speak to the club he holds in such high regard. He was never going to win the entire Toon Army over. Even if the won the league and Champions League, there'd still be some saying he's not the right man. It's a similar situation we're experiencing at Villa. Some suggest that Palace is a step down. Is it? In the grand scheme of things? The chances of success are surely the same. No club outside of the current top 4 have a chance of winning the league (in fact it could even be argued only two clubs have a chance of that). Maybe there's a potential for a cup run, but the odds of that happening are even higher. So for me, technically its a sideways step, and if he can get Palace playing, then Pardew will have made the right decision. As far as Newcastle fans are concerned, they're now worrying whether Joe Kinnear or Ally McCoist will be taking over, given Mike Ashleys fondness for odd decisions.
Gerrard to leave Liverpool
At the end of the season, he's off to the States
As people wake up to the news this morning that Steven Gerrard will be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, its probably a reasonable time to think about whether its a decision hes taken lightly, or whether its even the right one.
I should probably set my stall out early doors. I'm no Liverpool fan. I'm married to one, but that doesn't make me have any feelings towards them. Last season, they were a one man team. Suarez single handedly took them within a hairs width, or incisor width, of winning their first league title in over 20 years. With my wife and her family getting swept away in the euphoria, Steven Gerrard proclaimed on the pitch after their victory against Norwich, "this does not slip". Little did he know, that it would be his slip against Chelsea that would hand the visitors an early lead at Anfield, and ultimately end their title hopes once more.
During pre season, Suarez packed his gum shield and headed off to Barcelona. Sturridge picked up a mystery injury that seems to have kept him sidelined even until now. Brendan Rodgers bought as many of the Southampton squad as he could afford. And Steven Gerrard 'captained' the worst England performance at a World Cup. This season, Liverpool fans are now wondering what happened to the team that took the league by storm last season. Well, the answer is fairly simple. Firstly, they only played 40 matches last season, having no European competitions to play in, and getting knocked out of the domestic cup competitions early on. They also had Suarez. Plus, many people thought Gerrard was on his last legs last season, but would play on to try and win a league trophy with his boyhood club. That didn't happen, and there's no way they're even going to finish in the top 4 this season, so its hardly surprising that he's decided to call time on his Anfield career.
Is it a shade of embarrassment that he hasn't been able to win a league title? Lets face it, David May has won the league. Slyvain Wiltort has won the league. Tom Cleverly has a Premier League winners medal. It was clear as day for anyone not connected with Liverpool, that Gerrard would never win a Premier League winners medal with the Anfield club. However, as a fan, he was probably never going to stop believing that it would come. Given the circumstances surrounding this season, it's hardly surprising that he's decided to move on. He's not really handling the style of play Liverpool are currently playing (there's a discussion as to whether he works better as a deep lying midfielder, or at the top of the diamond), but now that he's off to move to MLS, he'll look head and shoulders above the majority of the talent Stateside. Just as a bit of context, Bradley Wright Phillips is the top goal scorer in the MLS. Yup, Bradley Wright Philips.
Of course it'll be a shame to see Gerrard move on, as he has been one of the Premier Leagues best players, but if Liverpool are to improve, then Gerrard doesn't fit in that system. Who replaces him, who knows. Maybe Emre Can. Maybe Jordan Henderson. I wouldn't be surprised to see Liverpool go for Fabian Delph. Football moves on, and at the end of the season, so does Steven Gerrard.
Gavin Webster Comedians Comedian 2014
A most deserved accolade for a great comic...
Last year, John Moloney set up an award within the comedy industry called the 'Comedians Comedian Award'. Basically, it was a way of honoring the comedy circuit, where the nominations were all done in-house, by gigging comedians.
Awards tend to favour the flavour of the month, or gear towards the most famous person from the nomination panel, but this award was to be different. I personally feel that the respect from your peers means so much more than the respect from reviewers or industry folk. Mick Ferry won the award last year, and rightly so. Mick is a fantastic act. Not only is he great onstage, he's also refreshingly honest as a comedian. Some comics will tweet at the end of a gig 'great night, great audience', even if the gig was awful and they've struggled. I've been guilty of this in the past. You feel like you don't want to lose face. Mick, however, is brutally honest with how the gig went. In fact, at one point this year, he felt he had such a bad time at Komedia, he was retweeting criticism from punters. Brilliant.
By winning the award last year, Mick was put in charge of organising this years award. The votes came in (both for Circuit Comic of the Year, and also MC - a new category for this years awards). Mick announced that the voting was a close run call between Gavin Webster, Jeff Innocent, Roger Monkhouse, Zoe Lyons, and Andy Askins. A couple of hours later, he announced that Gav had won the award, and I couldn't be happier for him.
When I first started out, he was one of the first pro comics I saw, and he just blew my mind at how good he was. He's a comedian who can play any room, a point he's proved at various ill fated gigs I've tried to book where everyone has struggled and he's just turned up and smashed it.
In the six years I've been doing comedy, its been great getting to know Gav, not just as a colleague, but now as a friend. He's an incredibly well read man, who can talk to you for hours about literally anything. I remember spending 8 hours in a car with him on a round trip to Largs where we covered topics such as 1980-90s football, philosophy, art, and TV programs that should never have been made. This is a man who is as funny off stage as he is on it. During the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of years, we were having a few drinks in Lord Bodos, and somehow, Gav managed to riff a 20 minute routine (he wasn't even trying, he was just being funny) about the notions of b-side records. Needless to say, neither of us can fully remember the whole thing, but I remember being absolutely in bits with what he was saying. It would kill in a club. The next day, Gav couldn't even remember doing it. Unbelievable talent.
It's always nice when you see your mates doing well. Gav has been a great servant to comedy circuit, and the circuit is so much better for him being part of it. Hopefully 2015 will be an even better for one of my favourite circuit acts. Well done Gav, I raise a glass to you sir.
We just want to bring the news
To a rather damp ending...
Can I just start by saying, this title is probably a little more grandiose than the subject I'm about to walk about warrants. I'm not about to make a big speech on the state of the world. I'm not about to comment on a news story that seems to be based around water. I'm actually commenting on the season finale of The Newsroom.
As a former TV lecturer, I must admit that its actually quite difficult for me to find something interesting to watch on TV. Most television these days is mindless shite produced by people who don't want to take risks in making something interesting as there's no way they could convince David Walliams to appear in it. However, SKY Atlantic have bucked that trend by producing shows that are actually pretty fantastic. How are they managing that? Well, for starters, they're American, so that often helps (although if you're The Killing, being Swedish is certainly a benefit over the terrible American remake). Anyways, I've managed to find a show that both myself and the wife enjoy watching together. That show, was The Newsroom.
Fantastic writing. Wonderful casting. Pacey. Dramatic. Interesting. Thought provoking. And with the season finale upon me I was hoping for something dramatic. Was I fulfilled? Was I heck. What a load of shite!
It was as if the writers and producers sat around in a meeting room and decided that as it was the final episode, they might just let a temp write the show. It ironically became everything the show was campaigning against. It was just awful. I'm sure there's loads of academic style readings that can be gleaned from the episode, and the whole 'life carries on', etc, but it just felt a bit flat. Oh well, I guess that's the way the media like to play things. So what now? Now I need to find a new show to watch. Any suggestions? I'd prefer something that doesn't end badly.
Au revouir Henry
The fabulous Frenchman takes his final bow...
On Tuesday morning I woke up to the news that Thierry Henry had decided to retire from professional football and join the punditry team at SKY Sports, and it made me think about how fantastic he was a player. I'm start with the statement that I think has / is probably being debating amongst football fans the length and breadth of the country if they're debating this issue with their pals in the pub. Thierry Henry was the best foreign player the Premier League has ever seen. In fact, he's probably the best player the Premier League has ever seen.
For me, Henry was the perfect footballer. Pacey. Powerful. Silky skilled. He scored great goals. He scored tap ins. He created goals for his teammates. He was the spearhead of The Invincibles. He broke his clubs all time goal scoring record. Not bad for a player who bought as a winger.
While Arsene Wenger is getting some criticism at The Emirates (some justified, some not so much), it's pieces of business like Wenger snapping up a young Henry from Juventus for £10m and rather than playing him on the wing, decided he would be better suited through the middle. The rest, they say, is history. It's moments like that that remind you of the genius of Wenger. He had a philosophy of the how the game should be played (and I'll be honest, my philosophy is very similar), and Henry personified that philosophy. He just looked like he loved playing football.
He's one of the players where, as an opposing fan, you probably didn't care that he was running rings around your team, because you were watching one of the worlds greatest players live. I must, however, quantify that I don't think Henry was ever at the levels we see with Messi and Ronaldo, who are easily two of the greatest players of all time, but Henry in full flight was a sight that had to be seen to be believed.
In a partnership with possibly my favourite Premier League player of all time, Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal were terrifying. For me, when I played football, I modeled myself on Bergkamp and Matt Le Tissier (imagine the sort of player that would've been!) because my brain worked that way. Not that I could ever in a million years play like those guys, it's just that I was always looking around the pitch or knowing where my team mates were at all times. I could never play like Henry as I was never able to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and unleash those moments of absolute magic on such a consistent basis. And that's what sets Henry apart from players like Zola, maybe even Cantona... Consistency.
Ray Parlour was paying tribute to Henry on TalkSport yesterday saying he never thought Henry would match Ian Wrights goal scoring record at Arsenal. Henry smashed it by 50 goals. That's why he has a statue outside The a Emirates. The word legend gets banded around too freely these days, but for me, Thierry Henry is a legend. A wonderful footballer. A humble talker. A man who just oozed coolness. A man who, you know what, a man who I'm actually going to forgive for having one of the worst little mustaches and starring in those terrible Renault Clio Va Va Voom adverts. Of course I'm gonna forgive him. He's Thierry Henry. One of the coolest, most talented footballers to ever grace this planet.
Outrage as hispters open up cereal bar...
Now I know this isn't exactly the biggest news in the world, but I missed most of Newsnight cos Craino doesn't really like watching it, but lets face it, the internet went into meltdown this week with the news of two Irish lads opening up a restaurant in London that only serves breakfast cereals.
Yup, that's right, a restaurant where you can grab a bowl of Frosties at 3pm. Who thought this was a good idea? Hipsters. That's who.
They must've been sat around, thinking "you know what I could really go for, but don't have in the house? A bowl of coco pops". "Yeah, there should totally be a place where you can go and just eat cereal. I mean they got those all-day breakfasts in Wetherspoons, right?" "Fucking right they do. But what if you don't eat sausages? What if you only eat Frosties? There needs to be a place that does that. What's that pal? Oh yeah, I'll pass you the joint. Knock yourself out" . I may be suggesting that these two guys are stoners, and even if they're not, stoners are the sorts of people who think eating cereal all day is a great idea.
I've never been to a restaurant and got really angry that the desert menu hasn't even got a sniff of Shredded Wheat on it.
So these guys decided they needed to make it. A Mecca to Kelloggs, and cereals from around the world. And what is their crime? Prices are £3 a bowl. That's what people have started kicking off about. £3 a bowl. "Oh my god, how can these people charge £3 for a bowl of cereal when we've got food banks now? People can't afford to eat, and these pricks think some other pricks are gonna pay £3 for a bowl of cereal just so they can look cool?" Who are the people complaining? The people who think its perfectly reasonable to pay £4.50 for a panini in Costa or Starbucks.
Yeah a bar that only serves cereal is a novel idea. It might only last for a year. Two years. Three years? Who knows. But if someone was to suggest a couple of years ago that there'd be a Drive-Thru Krispy Kreme donut shop, would people have kicked off as much? Probably.
Some of the argument seems to be focused on the pricing. Sure, £3 for a bowl of cornflakes seems excessive. But surely everyone knows the mark up in the food industry is at least 300%? £4.50 for a panini is excessive when you consider the cost involved in producing that. Maybe some of that cost can be attributed to packaging, but even without that, it's still a lot of profit.
So where's the problem? For me, the problem isn't with the idea, its with the choices. They serve 200 different cereals. Over 100 different toppings. But the one that blew my mind, was they have 13 different types of milk. 13? 13? There's no way in the hell there's 13 different types of milk. Green. Blue. Red. UHT (that might even be red). Soya. That's about it, right? What are the other ones? Breast Milk? Bat milk? A melted Milky Bar?
I think the main thing has spurred this negative reaction, is that the country is effectively saying there's a lot more Lactose Intolerant people that we were potentially lead to believe.
Eat cereal, don't eat cereal. Who bloody cares? All this talk of cereal has kind of given me a slight craving, so I guess I should go pour myself a bowl and get my cereal on and remember what it was like being a young person.
New material run out
And why I think it was more fun performing to less people
Last night I was hosting Red Raw at The Stand, Newcastle. It's without doubt, the best new material in the gig in the country. 300 people rammed in every week in a basement. That's what its all about. Or is it?
Of course it is.
However. Given the fact the entry price is only £2, usually, the audience is largely students. Given the fact its a new material (and new act night), there are nights where if you can hold a microphone, the audience think you're some kind of superstar, and sometimes, this can make judging new material quite difficult. Usually, most things will hit in that gig. People often say, "if you die onstage at Red Raw, then you might aswell just give up". But is that such a good thing? Especially if you're trying out new stuff?
Don't get me wrong, I hate doing new stuff. I always feel like I should pre-face it (even in that environment) that I'm usually decent, and if this isn't funny, not to worry. But, like every comedian, if a joke or routine doesn't hit, I feel awful. I start to think the audience hate me. Why would they hate my new stuff? That laughed at that student lad talking about his 'mental housemate'.
Last night was a bit different. There wasn't 300 students in. There was about 100 'normal people' in. People over 20. People with jobs. People who would listen to what you have to say, and won't just laugh at the word 'fingering'. And you know what, I think I had more fun. I bounced a couple of new ideas around with them. Ideas. Not jokes. Not routines. Not even new stuff. Just ideas. Concepts possibly. It was as if I was testing the water to see whether these were a decent enough basis for a new routine. I'm thankfully sat here now with a bit more confidence in the ideas, that maybe, with a bit of work, they could become something. They didn't get raucous laughs, or applause breaks, but they got enough for me to think that there may be something in them.
I'm gonna take another look at these pieces and see what happens with them, but in true 'writer' style, I'm gonna go and do some 'research'. By that, I mean, I haven't watched the new Bill Burr special yet. What will inevitably happen there, is I'll watch it. It'll be amazing. I'll then hate everything I've ever written, and never look at those new ideas again. Ah comedy.
Run for the hills, we're all gonna die...
Actually, maybe don't run for the hills, as, if you've been following the new, or posses a window, you might be aware that the country is currently braced for a 'weather bomb' which will undoubtedly result in snow on high ground.
What is a weather bomb? That's the sort of question that might be getting asked across the land. A weather bomb, it would appear, is what used to be called 'weather'.
What the news are currently doing, is becoming CNN or Fox, and feel the need to sensationalise everything. Yeah it might be bad weather, but surely just saying, "right everyone, it's gonna be canny windy and we might have snow", doesn't quite have the same ring to it as, "shit, it's a weather bomb and its heading right for us". It sounds like the only way to survive a weather bomb is to get in touch with Morgan Freeman or Hugh Jackman.
Realistically, this sort of weather is to be expected... It's December. It's winter. The country gets colder during winter. That's how weather works. This isn't a surprise. Sun and soaring temperatures would be a surprise, and would probably be more in keeping with the term 'weather bomb'.
Yes people were caught out a few years ago with the amount of snow we had, but we still expected it to come. This year, it seems that unless the British Isles is ripped up and thrown though the Europe by some sort of mega wind, then meteorologists are gonna be a bit pissed off. I experienced the very real effects of the weather today, I've lost an umbrella. Snapped. Maybe they are right. Maybe this is the end of the world. Maybe this is the storm to end all storms. Or maybe, just maybe, it's a bit windy and we might see some snow. Only time will tell.
Back from Scotland
And it made me feely Christmasy, believe it or not...
With Fridays trip to Liverpool still lodged in my memory, Saturday was spent on a train up to Scotland. The journey started badly as I became the guy who spilt an entire large coffee all over the floor. That's not a good start. I was also still full of cold, so this wasn't going to be the most fun I've ever had. Armed with an iPad full of podcasts, some tissues, and a reporters pad for 'inspiration', we set about heading north of the border.
For me, there's something magical about Edinburgh (I was actually going to Irvine, but was getting a lift from Edinburgh), and the second I stepped out of Waverly Station, I just felt right back at home. It's probably inevitable that we'll move there one day, but this all depends on how long Craino takes to get a Scottish Law qualification.
Despite the fact I'm not a Christmasy person, the things I like from winter are, the fact we get to wear coats. I like that sharp chill you get across your face. I like the fact that any space that usually left unattended instantly becomes a German market or ice rink that insists on serving mulled wine. That's what I like. Everything else, can fuck off. But given the fact this is Edinburgh, maybe I'd feel different. I needed something to do for a couple of hours before Gareth Waugh came to pick me up. I took to Twitter for suggestions of what to do. I also text Keir McAllister, who I would end up staying with. Both Keir and Twitter recommended 'The Christmas Lectures' at The Stand.
Now for someone who tends to not enjoy this time of year, and has already suffered at the hands of Christmas gigs the night before, the notion of a Christmas lecture show, at The Stand, made me feel better, and you know what? It was great. There was a fantastic spirit in the room, not just from the punters, but from the plethora of acts who filled the green room backstage. Liam Withnail commented that it felt like 'a comedians Christmas party back here', and he was right. Everyone was in great spirits as Derek Johnstone chucked gravy and chicken soup onto his Santa costume. The show itself actually made me feel a bit Christmasy. How? Because Christmas is an excuse to be shambolic. It's an excuse to drink excessively for an entire month. It's about being around people you love. Having a good laugh. Having a catch up. Maybe The Stand Christmas shows finally melted this cold black heart of mine. Maybe. We'll see.
And also, I didn't realise that Richard Melvin wrote the Jason Scotland World Cup song. That blew my mind!
The magic of the FA Cup
Blyth Spartans make it to round 3!
For me, Friday night was one of thee strangest evenings I've had in a while.
I was down in Liverpool doing a gig in a Holiday Inn, which is usually a lot more lovely than that description would make you believe. There was only about 45 in, including a stag do from Hertfordshire, and the compère and opening act (both Scouse) had done a good job, and the gig was looking like it was going to be fine. Cut to me stepping foot on stage, and my oh my, they turned. One Scouse woman wouldn't accept that I wasn't from Liverpool cos "the other two lads were". One posh woman kept shouting out that was from the north, with an accent that posh, it would make some people in the Home Counties sound like scum. The stag do, by the way, were being really well behaved, but the gig had gone. Christmas had taken over, and this turned into a Christmas gig.
I can take a bad gig / bad performance as much as the next comic, but perhaps this time it was maybe due to my mind being elsewhere. Blyth Spartans were playing Hartlepools in the FA Cup 2nd round. A match that had been moved to Friday night for TV purposes. A match that the club had asked me directly if I wanted to go to it. A match I got swept up in.
My phone had been going crazy all day, with tweets of support due to my 'affiliation' with the club on Football Manager. As I stepped off stage, finishing what could only be described as 'my bit' of the gig, my phone went nuts again. I checked down. Spartans had scored in the 90th minute and were about to knock Hartlepools out of the competition. I quickly packed all my things, and ran from the venue, ringing my wife on the way to the car park, having her commentate the remaining 6 minutes of injury time to me over the phone. The final whistle went, and I let out an audible scream of delight in a car park opposite Liverpool Lime Street.
In terms of football feelings, that was certainly up there with the best feelings I've ever had. I felt so happy for the club, who have been nothing but brilliant with me since I started doing my show. Queue my phone going back into meltdown with tweets of congratulations. My favourite was SKY Sports News presenter, Adam Leventhal who asked for me to pass on his well wishes to 'the lads'.
It's fantastic that due to my FM show, the amount of awareness I've been able to generate for Spartans with a select number of people is brilliant. I had a promoter mate, trying to ring me three times to say he was watching the match and cheered the goals cos he's mates with me.
I spoke to the club when I got back, and we've made a plan for the 3rd round. I've asked if I can be the mascot? They said I'm more than welcome to attend the 3rd round, and if they get drawn against Chelsea, the club have said they want me in the dugout as "they'll need all the help they can get" haha
Friday was great for the club, and hopefully we'll get a decent 3rd round draw. I have a sneaky feeling it'll be against Villa, and my loyalties will be tested to the extreme.
Three days in
And I've already missed one day...
I decided that I was going to keep this blog going by writing something on a daily basis. I figured that with the start of December upon us, that was a perfect time for me to 'kick start' my activity. Suffice to say, on December 2nd, I missed the chance to blog. Partly because nothing of remote interest happened (don't worry, that won't stop me in the future), but also partly due to my own ineptitude.
Along with trying to write something here everyday, I'm also trying to exercise each day also. Running and yoga are my things. I don't like gyms because that's where lifting takes place, and that can fuck off. However, as I haven't actually done any exercise for the past few months, getting back into it means that I'm clearly not as good as I used to be, and am remembering the barriers I used to face. 'The Wall' - I can't keep running. Well, you can, you just need to keep running. I'm out of breathe. You're supposed to be. My limbs hurt. They will, you've sat on your arse for the past few months.
With this in mind, I suppose my aim this month is to not only get in shape, as lets face it, Christmas is an easy time to pile the pounds on.
The other reason I didn't write anything yesterday is because I went back up to Newcastle to visit family, but not before embarking in my new favourite activity... road rage! I love it. Well, this is the thing. I don't love it. It annoys the hell out of me. For someone who spends most of his life driving, it therefore annoys the living daylights out of me when I see people driving so badly. For gods sake, just learn how to use a roundabout! Also, why do the Highways Agency think that digging the entire road network up all at once is a good idea? Seriously, I don't think I've seen anyone doing anything resembling work on the roads, yet everywhere its 50pmh average speed zones, cones getting dropped from the back of a van, diversions to nowhere. Its just ridiculous. Surely do one bit, then do a different bit, then a different bit? Maybe that's too easy?
On a lighter note, I know I'm slightly late to the party, but The Newsroom is bloody brilliant, isn't it? Guess I should probably get ready for another run, although I can feel a cold coming on. Maybe I'll just grab some Lemsip and get my Netflix on.
You can't just have a charity for every month...
Sorry for writing two things within the space of a few minutes, but whilst watching Ancient Aliens (I bloody love that programme), I've just been subjected to an advert for a new charity, and therefore a new thing that men are encouraged to embrace... DECEMBEARD.
That's right guys? What beats bowel cancer? Growing a beard apparently.
Now, I know November is the sacred month of the moustache, but you can't just keep adding facial hair growth to another month in the vain hope of raising awareness for charity.
Don't get me wrong, I agree that there should be more ways for charities to get their message out into the public domain, but lets face it, watching blokes attempt to grow a beard is not the way to do it.
Look at the clip of those who try to grow moustaches. Has anyone ever seen a good one? Exactly. So as a beard owner, imagine someone trying to grow a beard in a month. My god, its going to look horrendous. I've actually got a mate trying to grow a beard at the minute, and I'll be honest, it looks like he's never tried to have facial hair ever. It's not a great look. It just seems that due to the hipster love of beards that charity has decided to cash in on this 'fashion'. What charity hasn't worked out, is that its taken us all a wee bit longer than one month to cultivate our beards. We're proud of them. You wouldn't ask people to grow Afros for charity, would you?
I think I need to lighten up... Or play with my beard. Either or, I suppose.
First Leg of the Tour, done
And I'm now looking forward to the tricky second leg
I know I haven't written much here, which, given the fact that I've been touring, is quite surprising, given that I've actually had something of relative interest to write. In fact, I already regret not blogging each of the experiences the day after the event as it was a fantastic learning curve for me. I've never toured before, and I guess I know more now than I did before I started it.
I really do need to say a massive thank you to everyone who came to see the shows. It's such a great feeling seeing people come out to see a show that you've written in a place you've never been. If ever there was a doubt in my head that I want to be a touring comic, those doubts have been well and truly shattered.
What were the highlights? Selling out The Stand in Newcastle was a massive achievement for me. Yes, it was a home fixture, and as such, you'd expect friends and family to turn up to help fill a few seats. That wasn't actually the case. I only knew four people who were at that gig, and for me, that was amazing. The Black Box in Belfast, what a great night that was. I met a lovely bloke called Ryan who runs a Fantasy Football site, who insisted (totally insisted) that I spent the night drinking Guinness with him and a few other lads. Lovely. I picked on a guy in the front row of the Glasgow Stand gig, who turned out to be John McGinn who is a St Mirren player. Oops. I must say aswell, that finishing the tour with 120 people in Scarborough on a Sunday in November, is quite an achievement.
Even at venues where the numbers weren't so good, the people who came were there for a laugh, and that made the shows really fun.
I need to thank Miles and Ciaran at Sports Interactive for the endorsement of the show, and helping to PR the tour, and a huge thank you to Warren, my tour agent, who has been putting this together, and he's still working hard on ensuring we have a second leg. So that's the news. We're going back out in February. I know there was large parts of the country we didn't hit this time round, so I hope we can do that on the second leg. Obviously once we've got enough dates together I'll pop a thing up to say we're back on the road, but until then, enjoy FM15.
Hilarity Bites The Week
Comedians to become radio presenters...
On Sunday 7th December, myself and fellow comic, Andy Fury are embarking on our first ever radio show. Neil Jollie of Hilarity Bites, met with Spark Radio in Darlington to discuss the possibility of a weekly comedy radio show. The station seemed keen, as did myself and Andy, so we set about recording a pilot, and after the top brass at the station decided that we hadn't said anything 'that' offensive that week, they figured it was worth a shot.
We've come up with a format which we're quite happy with, and along with Ant (our Canadian co-host who we insist on calling American), Producer Jeff (who got promoted from Researcher Jeff during the pilot) we feel that we're onto something quite good. As the show is only an hour long, we've split it up into sections where we tackle local and national news stories. We also have an 'Andy and Tony go out and about' section, where we find something to do locally and review it. Usually what we find will be a bit shit. Infact, the more mundane the better. We considered reviewing different bottled water. Basically, what I'm saying at this point, is if you've got anything happening between Durham and Northallerton, and you want me and Fury to come along and promote (take the piss out of) it, then do get in touch via social media. We've also got a 'swear word of the week' segment we're hoping to do.
I'll post the link for the listen again feature as and when its up and running, but until then, I guess I should probably get my head back into the internet to search for some more local news stories.
Its December already?
Oh god, that means its not long til Christmas...
Yup, its that time of year where people start to panic about the fact that December is already upon us and we begin to question where the year has gone?
I think its a thing with age, as I don't remember time passing so quickly when I was younger, yet now that I'm 34, time seems to hurtle along at a rate that pretty much indicates my need to observe more as my time may be slightly more precious than I was initially lead to believe.
So December. The month of Christmas. The month of German markets appearing in every town and city centre for no bloody reason whatsoever. The month where I should really be fully hibernated, but can be coaxed outside by the whiff of mulled wine and damp cobbled paving. The month where I consider whether I am a pacifist as I would gladly kill every person who gets in my way whilst I'm out doing Christmas shopping.
Don't get me wrong, I like Christmas. I don't. I hate it. I only said that so that you guys wouldn't think I'm a complete prick. It's an awful time of year. People spending money they don't have on shit they don't need for people they probably don't really like that much. There's too much pressure to spend.
Last week saw Black Friday make an appearance in the UK, where stores slashed prices to insight violence in a shop for a fucking telly. Today is Cyber Monday. A day where you can struggle to buy anything online because everyone is trying to buy stuff online. I'm all for a bargain, course I am, but I can't understand why anyone would set their alarms to go off at midnight so they could queue up to get into a supermarket or browse the online sales. Maybe I a bit too lazy for all that?
I tried to get a bit more energetic today, as I've been feeling very lethargic after finishing my tour, so I decided to go for a run. My god. I wish I hadn't bothered. My legs were like lead. My arms were like lead. My lungs felt like I was still a smoker. I guess I need to power through it, and double it up with some Yoga. This will be the only way I can get through this festive season. Build myself up, so when people are too happy, I can kick their teeth out.
I've actually arranged to meet up with the very funny Dan Nightingale today, so that might cheer me up a bit. Oh, and I've started watching The Newsroom. If you haven't seen it, start watching, it's amazing. Might write about that tomorrow. Or FM15.