Hello everyone. I'm Tony Jameson, a stand up comedian from the north-east (Washington, to be exact), 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.
Where I gig
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, Manfords Comedy Clubs, Avalon, House of Fun, Last Laugh, Just The Tonic, Jongleurs, CKP, Hilarity Bites, Ten Feet Tall, Comedy Central, etc.
I have performed the following shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival:
2015 Tony Jameson: Football Manager Ruined My Life (Data Update) @ The Stand
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
Non stand up work
So that's a bit of background about me, so you're probably wondering what can you expect to find on my website?
Navigating 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.
There's a mailing list set up now. I won't bombard you with loads of spam, but it's handy for keeping up-to-date in what's new in Tony World. You can follow me on the various social networks I use too.
Get in touch
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. To do that, simply click the email button at the top.
If you would like to book me for a gig, please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Football Manager Ruined My Life bookings are handled by Warren Lakin, who can be reached on email@example.com
Thanks for stopping by.
We've not really spoken in a while
Apologies for being a little off grid recently. I don't really have any excuses. I can certainly try and come up with some reasons that will justify my absence.
Firstly, I've had a change of management. It's nothing personal, just one of those things. Neil at Hilarity Bites has been a good friend of mine for years, but I just felt that the time was right to try and look at things differently going forward. I appreciate all the hard work Neil and Jeff have put in up to this point, and still see them in a social setting, such as our recent trips to the NFL which has been bloody brilliant as always.
The three London games this season have been the usual level of drama we've come to expect from such a fascinating sport. For the second year we witnessed everyones second favourite team, Jacksonville Jaguars, win their 'home' game. The iconic clash of the LA Rams and New York Giants at Twickenham served up a fairly laborious match, partly due to the Giants not really using Odell Beckham Jr as anything other than a punt returner, and partly due to the Rams being a bit shit on the day. Then there was the final game. Bengals vs Redskins. I've always felt like I had a slight affinity with the Redskins (being from Washington and all), and what a game. The first UK game to go to overtime. A field goal that was disallowed in midair, and watching a posh bloke infront of us Googling 'NFL extra time'. Its safe to say we'll be back there next year again.
I've also been laid up with this bloody cold / flu / chest infection bug that's been doing the rounds. 4 weeks. 4 weeks worth of illness. Serious. This last week was when the doctors declared it at the chest infection stage, but my word, its been bloody horrid. Not only have I felt like shite, I've also not been able to get to the gym, so I'm feeling properly weak. Can't wait to dust off the barbell and get my lifting back on just as much as hitting the stage again.
Today was a bit of a first for me as I sent out my first mailing list email. If you're not signed up, get yourself signed up. It's a nice little way for us to keep in touch. I'll be using it more regularly as my website is going to be going through a bit of an overhaul in the very very near future.
YAC Podcast is back up and running also, with series 3 being released recently. Again, have a listen and share it amongst the people you think might like it. I don't really think there's a great deal else to say. Unless you're a Football Manager fan, then you'll of course be like myself and enjoying FM17 Eve today. I'm thinking for my first save I'm gonna be Villa. I know Steve Bruce is turning into The Special One in real life, but I'm more than happy to booting RDM out of a job at the start of the season. Do let me know how you guys get on. Also, remember my DVD is available as a warning to FM Addicts around the world.
Anyways, I've rambled on quite a bit, so I'm gonna let you go and enjoy yourselves. Take care and we'll speak soon.
Getting my fit on
And sorting my head out at the same time...
Those of you who visit this site may / may not know that there's a little link for a blog on here. This is the blog page. If you've visited the site on more than one occasion you'll notice an issue with the blog. The main issue is that I've not really written anything on it for fucking ages. Let me explain why.
I'm gonna use this post as an apology and an explanation for what has been happening to me over this part year. If you're a comedy fan, you'll be aware that August is the month for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Sadly, I'm not going this year (that will be explained in my next blog post, which I'll definitely write) but for me, this August is the anniversary of something quite different. It's the anniversary of when I took the decision to start trying to get my life back on track.
Now, I'm not saying I'd gone off the rails (quite the opposite - those who know me know just how dull I can be). What I mean by getting my life on track, was that at the time I was 35 years old, a smoker, a drinker, a comedian, and a bloke who's diet was basically late night pasties, pork pies and crisps. Something had to give. I made a decision to change my ways. I vowed to kick the tabs. Done. Took up vaping instead, but even that'll be knocked on the head by the end of the year. I cut my drinking down considerably. My diet has improved, but ultimately, I've also taken up weight lifting, and that has changed my perspective on everything.
Before you carry on further, this isn't going to be a preachy "I found the gym and now I'm like totally better than you" and "OMG Kale is like totes amazing isn't it?" blah blah blah. I've not quite become the full gym wanker that I know I can be, but for me it came at a really important time. Things were just getting me down (Hi depression!). I didn't feel like I was getting what I wanted out of comedy. I wasn't happy living where we were living (and still are living). I was lonely due to the natures of this job. I also didn't like what I saw in the mirror. After many conversations with a mate, who encouraged me to read Starting Strength from cover to cover, I figured, why not. Lets just fucking do it. I was doing three shows a day last Edinburgh (a conscious decision I made to stop me drinking as much), and I made the point of getting a months gym pass for a 24 hour gym on North Bridge. I'd make sure I'd go everyday, but because it was 24 hours, and I was in a bad place mentally, late at night was perfect for me. No-one else was there. No-one could judge me. I could make mistakes all I wanted, and it was an hour to two hours away from the fringe every day.
As Edinburgh finished, I figured I'd keep this regime going on my return to York. Three times a week, during the day, smashing through the weights. I was seeing PBs every session. Noob gainz they call it. I was encouraged to bulk. "Eat whatever you want" they said. You'll need to gain 20lbs in order to turn the nothing you have into muscle. Christmas passed. My first double platers were achieved. I even managed to convince a friend to join me in the gym every week. I was feeling great. I even went training with an American Football team. Shout out to the Yorkshire Rams at this point. I went training until it became full contact, touch a whack to the head, and realised I wasn't strong enough. I needed to refocus in the gym and come back stronger next year. I got my head down. I continued lifting, but I was plateuxing. What was going wrong? My diet was getting better because I'd fucked up comedy that much that I wasn't gigging anywhere near as much as I used to, and am now working a day job to help fund a mortgage and potential kids. I was getting annoyed at myself. I shouldn't though. I just looked at what I was doing again. Looked at my diet. Looked at my waist line. I looked like shit. I know I'm not ready to do my cut, but fuck me, I'm gonna have to.
I started dropping a few calories here and there, and low and behold in 6 weeks I've dropped 10lbs (mostly of fat) from my body and I'm looking much better. How has it affected my lifting? Well, I'm still hanging on my squat, but surprisingly my dead lift is improving all the time. My clothes fit better. I feel better. I look better. I know I've cut too early (I probably still have another 10lbs to cut in order to try and lose some of this gut that is still there) but I'm using it as a clean slate. Basically, I now know what I did wrong first time around. I'm gonna take myself back to square one, and clean bulk, then cut, then clean bulk, then cut until I'm happy with what I can see. The best thing of all this, is getting my wife into it. She's starting lifting and eating well with me and she's dropped 15lbs in 6 weeks. Her friends have all asked, "how have you done that?" She'll give them the answer, and they'll look upset. Another mate of mine, Andy has lost 9 stone by running. Again, people want to know how he's done it, but they want the answer "oh I just sat around eating cheese burgers and watched the telly". The truth is, it's hard work. Yes it's cliche to say its a lifestyle change, but it is. "Oh but I don't have time to make lunch on a morning". Make it the night before then.
The way I see it. This new outlook has given me focus on my physical appearance and my mental state. Hopefully I'll be able to apply it to my stand up at some point and get back to enjoying what I love doing. Apologies if this did infact turn out ranty. It wasn't meant to. I just want to speak honestly with you guys on here, and in order for me to do that, I'm just gonna put words on a page and leave it at that.
YAC Podcast wins award
Well, it got given some money by some dude...
You know that podcast I do? The one that's the banner for all my social media networks? You know? The one you've maybe not listened to yet, but probably should cos it's me and two other very comedians doing funny talking for 90 mins every other for free? Yet Another Comedy Podcast? Yeah, that's the one. Well get this, we've only gone and won an award!
OK, it's not technically an award, but its a bursary. A lovely chap Mike Sheldon runs the website www.podcastbursary.org where he basically donates money to podcasts that he likes in order to help them continue.
This is the second year he's ran the scheme, and basically what happens is he picks his favourite podcast and offers them a share of a pot of money he's stumping up from his own pocket, and that goes towards whatever the podcast might need. Perhaps its new equipment, hosting costs, website, advertising. Whatever. That podcast then gets to nominate two podcasts they think could do with a bit of cash to help them raise their profile. That's where we come in.
At that stage, Barry Dodds and Ray Peacocks rather superb Parapod was nominated. If you've not listened to The Parapod, please go and do so right at this very instant. It's so so funny. Infact, here's a link to their website www.theparapod.com Check them out. Basically, the reason I'm mentioning them, is that they actually nominated us for the final tier of the award. What a lovely pair Barry and Ray are.
So basically, we got given some money to keep our podcast going. As Rob and Danny are off to Edinburgh this month, we've decided that the last episode we recorded would be the final episode of series 2, and we'll rebrand for series 3 in September when they return. With that in mind, it would be great if you guys could maybe go have a listen. It's up on iTunes. If you like it, can you maybe find it in your hearts to pop a little 5 star review or a comment on there please? We're also on Twitter, Facebook, infact, just tell anyone and everyone, cos come September, we're not gonna stop going on about it.
Its @YACPodcast on Twitter if you're interested.
Who wants an email from me
Well you can have one by signing upto my mailing list...
That's right folks, I've become one of those guys who feel that it would be great if we all gather ourselves together and form some sort of club mentality. How do we do that? Well we could probably swap phone numbers, or maybe we could collate email addresses? I quite like the idea of that.
Now, I'm not saying I should be in charge of this group, but I do think it's for the best if you all send me your email addresses, actually no, scratch that. Just sign up to my mailing list. That makes sense. They'll never be able to trace us then. That means that I get all your email addresses, and I can let you know about cool stuff that I'll be doing before anyone else.
"What kind of cool stuff, Tony?" I hear you ask. I dunno, priority ticket links seem the obvious choice. Maybe some discount on merch. Maybe I'll tell you about a cool new beer I've just tried. Maybe I'll upload one of my Football Manager saved games to you guys exclusively and you can take over my game. Sound like fun? OK, go and sign up today. I won't bombard you with spam, I promise.
Mental health is no laughing matter
Although its probably inevitable as a stand up...
OK guys, I need to be honest with you here. There's something I've wanted to talk about for a while, and never quite knew how to put the words together. Maybe even as you read this, the words might not make complete sense, but at least let me try.
For the past 18 months, I've been battling inside my head with depression. Its something that a large percentage of the population have to deal with, and it's something we struggle to be able to talk about with our fellow human beings. Allow me to be frank. On the face of it, I don't have anything to be depressed about. I'm married. Got a job I love doing. I live in a nice area. I'm not riddled with debt. So what have I got to be depressed about? Well, this is the thing, who knows? Who knows what makes people depressed. The human brain is such a complicated piece of machinery, that no-one knows 100% how it works, or why it works the way it does. One thing I've become aware of, is how I cope. Some people I know who have depression will plaster their social media with absolute shite just to be seen to be doing something. I go dark. I hide. If I've not Tweeted for a couple of days, yeah, that's right, I'm not having a good time.
I've been able to compartmentalise some of the issues. I live in York (perhaps you knew that, perhaps you didn't), and I've lived here before and hated every second it. OK, so why are you back here then? Well, my wife is from here. She'd lived in Newcastle for the past 10 years and wanted to return home. Fair enough. For me though, returning to a small city where I had nothing but bad memories and negative feelings made the situation very difficult. I've found myself lonely. It's hard making friends when you do stand up. You're away in the evenings and weekends which is when most people are available. The only people I know down here are one other comic, and my wifes friends and husbands.
This also feels like a very permanent decision to live here. We're thinking of starting a family, so need a base. We've started looking at properties (fuck me they're expensive), so lets face it, irrespective of how I'm feeling, that's us locked here for at least the next 5 years.
At least you've got stand up to keep you happy, Tony. Wrong. I've hated every single minute of stand up for the past 18 months. I shouldn't. I should love it. It's the thing I was born to do. It's the one thing that used to make me happy. I was doing my own fucking tour for gods sake! So what made me hate it? Me. That's what. See, when you're touring, it's awesome. Turning up to a city miles from home and realising so many people have bought a ticket specifically to see you was such an awesome feeling. The only twinge I had, was that I didn't have a support act. Someone to share the traveling with. Someone to share the experience with. Someone to help flog the merch if I was feeling embarrassed and questioning whether I should really be doing this or whether people above me on the circuit were questioning me.
Thankfully, the circuit haven't revolted and started treating me like some up-start touring before he could walk, but the circuit also offers a different problem. See when you've got depression, your brain is just grey and dull. There's no creative spark. The need to write new stuff is constantly in my head, but where are the jokes? Nowhere. How can you write about your experiences if your experiences are staying indoors all day because you can't face going outside? You haven't got a bit about your funny mate, because your funny mate doesn't exist. No-one wants to hear "so I go to the gym at midnight for an hour cos it's that or stay in and drink two bottles of wine just so I can go to sleep". For me, depression has stifled me. It's made me hit a plateau. One I know I'm capable of breaking through, but one that is gonna take a monumental effort on my part.
I would often use Edinburgh as a focus. Sadly, I'm not going this year, so in my head (wrongly) my brain has decided "well, I guess we don't need to write new stuff". Wrong dickhead. We need to write new stuff, because for the last 18 months we haven't, and we're now falling down the pecking order. We need to refocus. We need to look at the words we say on stage. Do we care about them? Can we still feel them? Will they resonate with an audience? Is it gonna be funny? Are you gonna have fun doing it? If I can't answer yes to all those questions, then I need to do some more thinking.
My perspective has changed slightly. Due to us wanting to buy a house, I've had to get a job (most comics are now in the same position because the circuits fucked but probably won't mention it). It's not a job I take home with me. It just provides a little bit more secure income, some payslips for the bank, and allows us to save for the mortgage and possible kids in the future. I'm basically maturing up. However, the plus side of this, is that I've felt freer on stage now. The pressure of "I must smash this gig as this is all I've got and all my income depends on this" has sort of gone. I've been able to enjoy it a bit more. Yes I'm still struggling with the same words I haven't been able to change, but I can feel that I'm ready to make a change. A positive change. I want to be better at stand up. I want to be better at life. I want my head to fucking sort itself out and let me get on with life. It will. It just takes time.
I'm aware I've blabbed on here. But ultimately, I just wanted to say, even though things might look rosey on the outside, you never know how someone is truly feeling. If you have any mental health issues, please talk to someone. Don't bottle it up. Don't be scared. The sooner you can address the issues, the sooner you can get fixed.
What you having for your tea, Tony?
Why not follow me on Instagram to find out...
Yeah I've succumbed and decided to create an Instagram account. I didn't think I'd like it, but you know what? It's alright isn't it?
If you wanna follow me on there, feel free. I think its just @tonyjameson. If I've done that bit wrong, I'm sure you can search for me by name.
What you'll get is basically pictures of burgers, pictures of odd things at gigs, or pictures of me looking confused. So if that sounds like your kind of thing, head on over to Instagram and lets hang out.
Do you even lift, bro?
Yup, that's right, I've taken up lifting...
During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I was doing three shows a day, which ultimately meant there wasn't much time to hit the pub between shows. This is a good thing, as I remember being given the advice when I first started that, "Edinburgh is work. It's not cool to go out and get pissed all the time. You're there to show audiences you're good. If you're hung over all the time, you won't be good". That advice stuck with me, and every year, I avoid the ass kissing and smoozing in The Loft Bar, as it's not my scene. I do my show, I go home. I might see some shows, I might not. This year was slightly different.
Inbetween my three shows a day, I took up going to the gym. It felt like a good way to keep myself focused. A good way to get an hour to myself away from the festival. A perfect place to stay in shape and keep away from the pub and fatty deep fried food.
In the lead up to Edinburgh, I had started doing Insanity. High intensity cardio. I thought, yeah its killing me, but I'm getting fitter. I should also do more running, that'll help. Ultimately, it wasn't doing what I wanted. My legs have always been muscley as I have played football since I could walk. I've never had any muscle up top, or any physical strength. I needed to start working on that. Cue an introduction to the barbell.
After a conversation with comedys Dave Longley, he basically told me that the best way to shed fat and gain muscle, was to get a barbell, and start lifting weights. Initially, I panicked. I've never lifted anything heavier than a 5kg dumbbell before, and even then, the prospect of more than 5 reps was something I'd struggle with. I've never been able to do push ups. Basically, the top half of my body was just a place holder for my head.
The conversation went back and forth. "What do you want?" "I was some definition, Dave. I want some muscles". "Then you need to start lifting weights". "But I don't want to get massive". "You wont get massive straight away, but just lift the weights". "Can I still stay lean?" "You're asking questions you already know the answer to. It's lift some weights". "Do you have any more advice?" "Yup, lift some weights. And stop doing Insanity and running. It's for cunts. Stop being a cunt". I guess that's me told.
So, after a bit of reading, and a membership to a local Pure Gym, I read up on what I'm supposed to do. 30mins? Is that all? 30mins? Oh my. The first round was brutal. Don't worry, next session you're gonna add weight. And then you'll add more weight the next time. And the next time. And the next time. You sure I can do this?
Well, you know what? After a month of lifting properly (I'm not really counting August as that was me 'playing with the idea of lifting' and getting used to the positions), I'm now 5kg off squatting my body weight, and already dead lifting more than my body weight. How the bloody hell did that happen? What's more, is I bloody love it. I really do. I never felt comfortable being in the weights areas of gyms cos it was all full of blokes who could lift dead heavy, although now, I'm just like "yeah bro I lift too. Here's my vest".
I think I've possibly turned into a bit of a gym wanker as I get annoyed when I see people 'playing' at lifting. I never thought I'd be that guy, but now I am. I'm reluctant to use the term lifestyle change, but my god, if this is what I've got to do for the rest of my days, then that's awesome. When the wife and I get round to having a wee one, I'm gonna get them squatting, regardless of whether it's a boy or a girl. I've even got the wife lifting weights now, although the fact she has super human strength means she's gonna be great at it.
Essentially what I'm trying to say, is 'do you even lift, bro?' And if not, why not?
Love, laugh, live
Get in the sea...
The wife and I are currently looking around potential new homes to buy. We're first time buyers, which means we're pretty much up against it, and as we live in York, prices are sky high. I'm a working class lad from the north east, so whenever I see a house available for £250,000, I see 'a quarter of a million', and for that, I expect a fucking golf course or land attached to the 7 bedroom property, not a 3 bed semi detached in a 'vibrant area'.
What I've noticed since visiting and inspecting peoples homes, is that most people have incredibly poor taste when it comes to interior design. Seriously. Why do people have their houses decorated in 1970s wallpaper and artex on the ceiling? I should point out, I'm no DIY expert (in that I have no intention of ever doing DIY or decorating), but haway man. If we're gonna spend quarter of a million pounds on a house, then surely it should be ready to move straight into? We shouldn't have to spend another god knows how much on redecorating as the previous owner was a fucking moron.
Also, another thing I've noticed is the amount of similar tat everyone has. I've collated a list of things, that if you own these things, I'm sorry, but you're going in the sea.
Anything that says 'Love, Laugh, Live'. GET IN THE SEA.
If you have the word 'LOVE' made out of a block. GET IN THE SEA.
One of those 'Keep Calm and Carry On' things. GET IN THE SEA.
Union Jack cushions. GET IN THE SEA.
Family portraits by a 'professional photographer' on a white backdrop. GET IN THE SEA.
Anything that says 'I love my mummy / daddy' from their 2/3 year old child. GET IN THE FUCKING SEA.
Seriously. If anyone reading this has any of those things in their own house. Have a word with yourselves, yeah? It might not be that bad if only one person in the world had them, but for pretty much everyone to have them. Jesus. It's just tacky. It seems that there's no such thing as individuality anymore. Everyone seems to have the same 'personality'.
Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the idiot. Maybe I'm not sentimental. I find it weird when people have photographs of their partners in their wallets, or as their background on their phones. Why is it seen as weird to have anything other than the Apple home screen as the background on your phone? That's what I've got. And you know what, I still know what my wife looks like. I haven't forgotten because I didn't see her face when I picked my phone out of my pocket.
Why do people have photographs of their kids on their desk at work? Is it to remind them why they're doing the shitty job they don't enjoy?
I think I've got myself wound up, and that's not good, cos we've got to go back out and view more properties this evening. You know what's gonna happen though, don't you? Every house we view this evening will have at least one of the things I've highlighted above, and I'm gonna have to try and stop myself shouting "GET IN THE FUCKING SEA, THE LOT OF YOU!"
What I'm saying is, I'm really enjoying house hunting and am not finding it stressful in the slightest.
Yet Another Comedy Podcast back up and running
It never really went down, I just got a bit lazy...
After a bit of a wait between episode 22 and episode 23, my 'Yet Another Comedy Podcast' is now back up and running folks.
If you've never listened to it, where have you been? Go and have a listen. I must say though, if you are new to the podcast, then I'm afraid you're now gonna struggle to find the first 22 episodes as I deleted them this weekend. The reason I did that, was I basically figured that since I've been listening to a lot more podcasts myself now, there's been some stuff I've been able to learn from the early episodes. I've noticed a few new various techniques / styles / elements that I feel could enhance what I'm actually doing.
The first, and probably the most important, is regularity. I'm gonna make a promise with you guys now, that every week (probably on a Monday or a Tuesday) I'll have a new episode for you, no questions asked. No-one likes waiting 3-4 weeks for a podcast episode. They'll just unsubscribe if that becomes then norm. So that's the first thing. To prove its gonna be weekly, episode 23 with Kai Humphries is already up online now, and I've got interviews with Phil Walker and Katie Muglrew already in the bag, so there's three weeks worth of podcasts in the bag before I record any more this week.
Second thing I've learnt, I prattle on too much on the intros. I'm gonna be cutting that down to no more than 5 mins at the start of each episode. You've subscribed to a podcast to listen to me talk to another comedian, not listen to me waffle on about god knows what for 15 mins.
Third thing. Maybe try and tone down some of the swears. This might be tricky as I'm a naturally sweary person, but I will try.
The final thing I've learnt, is that I want to engage with you guys a bit more. A lot of you send me Tweets, which is awesome (please keep doing that). My Facebook page will also be getting used a bit more, particularly in the lead up to Edinburgh, so do feel free to go and 'Like' my page if that's the sort of thing you enjoy doing.
I feel that its important for me to learn these podcasting lessons now, as I've agreed to do live shows on the Free Fringe during August where I'll be chatting to comedians live, and then uploading the episodes the following day. This is where you guys come in. Who do you want me to try and get? Some suggestions will probably be easy enough, some might be a bit more tricky / not possible. Maybe they won't be able to do it as there's a clash with their shows, or maybe they're a lot higher profile than me and maybe just won't want to do it. That's not a trouble.
If there's a particular comedian you'd like me to try and get onto the show, please drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the mean time, kick back, and get subscribing to the show via iTunes.
We're the famous Aston villa and we're off to Wemberley
And me holding my hands up...
So Sunday was fun, right?
I'd spent the entire week down in London doing my Football Manager shows at the Leicester Square Theatre (big shout out to those guys). They were lovely. I was really well looked after by all the venue staff, and the audiences we got were brilliant.
I don't do a great deal in London (partly due to the fees being lower than the rest of the country), and I've never had a residency of sorts outside of Edinburgh, so it was really interesting seeing how London audiences were. On the whole, I'd say they were great. Sure, the show was at 7pm, so some people may have come straight from work and not had time for a beer, but overall, I was really pleased and genuinely appreciated the effort people went to to come to the shows.
So yeah, my run of gigs finished on the Saturday. I was then stuck in Victoria coach station til 2.30am (comedy, how glamorous) as the coach I was supposed to get at 11.30pm didn't turn up! Apparently the driver was on his break and had switched his phone off, so was unable to be contacted. Eventually we got a replacement driver, but that meant that I would be returning to York at 7.20am rather than 4.20am. I was walking back when people were out on their early morning runs!
After a quick Nana nap of an hour and a bit, I was then in the car up to the north east to witness my nephew getting Christened.
But Tony, that would've been Sunday. Why weren't you at the FA Cup semi final? Well, I guess there's a thing where we never considered a cup semi final would've been possible. Did I try to get a ticket? Well, kind of. I got offered one on Thursday, but figured it was more than my life was worth buying the ticket and sacking off the Christening.
Anyways. What a result! I know you're probably not gonna believe me, but I had been saying 2-1 all week. Don't know why, but it was just my gut feeling. I still haven't seen any of the game, but by all accounts were excellent.
I feel I should hold my hands up and admit that I may have been a little hasty in my words regarding Tim Sherwoods appointment. If you've read the article I wrote for The Secret Footballer, I think it would've been clear that I wasn't 100% convinced we'd got the right man. Am I 100% now? Not really, but you know what, he's doing a brilliant job of galvanizing a failing team. The Cup Final is now there in our diaries (and scratched out of Steven Gerrards). We need to turn our attention back to the league, and I reckon one more win and a draw should see us safe.
If we stay up and win the FA Cup (which isn't as unrealistic as it would've been when Sherwood took over), then he'll have done a remarkable job, and we can all look forward to next season. As it stands, until we're mathematically safe, we're always going to be looking over our shoulders. Well done Tim, you're starting to prove a lot of people (myself included) wrong.
Now, who's gonna help a brother out with getting me an FA Cup Final ticket?
Edinburgh Fringe and DVD news
Well, there's news for one of those topics...
It's that time of year again, when comedians realise that they've agreed to do another Edinburgh Fringe Festival run, and I'm no different. I'm delighted to say that I'll be back at The Stand Comedy Club, but not in Stand 4 where I usually perform. Oh no, I've been moved to the brand spanking new, Stand 6! It's just a few doors down from Stand 4, so that's awesome. Plus all the staff were raving about a 'great room behind Stand 5' last year, so I'm presuming that is what has become Stand 6.
After a bit of a chat with my tour agents, they decided that it would be fun to go back up with a slightly updated Football Manager show. They figured that it would help to get venues in to see the show in order to keep the show on the road into next year (we've already taken bookings for November this year, so it looks like we're going to be staying out for a while).
I'm also trying my best to get a DVD / Digital Download of the show available, but my god, what a faff on its becoming.
What I've learned, is that a 6 year old MacBook is not built for video editing at 1080p. If I was happy to just export a low res version, then no worries at all. But, because of my background, and the fact I figure if people are paying good money, the least they deserve is high res, that means an export of a 90 minute show clocks in at around 30 hours. Thats not that much of a problem though, right? Well, it's not, if it works perfectly. Which it didn't. Plus we then needed to work with a variety of different codecs / settings for each avenue we're hoping to host the show. It's been a right stress.
It's nearly done now though, so hopefully I'll be able to announce the news soon.
If you wanna sign upto my mailing list to get the news first, then do feel free.
Also, I don't know if my heart has managed to recover from last nights Villa vs QPR match. It's gonna go to the last game of the season isn't it? Oh my. I don't know if I can cope.
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.