John Shuttleworth

John Shuttleworth reminisces about weekends. And Wee Kens.

When “versatile singer-songwriter” John Shuttleworth – from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, no less – returned to the airwaves with his Radio 4 series …Lounge Music last year, it was cause for celebration. It marked the first Radio 4 series in eight years for Graham Fellows’ most enduring character creation, whose low-key comedy and hopeful demo tapes have delighted audiences since the early 1990s.

In that time, Fellows hasn’t stopped touring though, continuing to don his alter ego’s trademark thick-rimmed specs, red turtleneck and brown leather jacket. On his latest tour, titled A Wee Ken to Remember – a pun attributed to a misunderstanding at the printers caused by his “neighbour and sole agent”, Ken Worthington – he gave the audience exactly what they wanted. Which, judging from the merch stand, was a nice flask and a tea towel. Read the rest of this entry »

Josie Long

Josie Long: Political Animal (Photo by Idil Sukan)

By her own admission, the title of Josie Long‘s latest show is something of a red herring. Romance and Adventure wasn’t really about either of those things, and instead saw her grappling with her place in the world and the political climate which has existed in the UK since the 2010 general election. If you’re fed up of reading articles about how no one does stand-up about politics any more – which I think is absurd and untrue; it’s just packaged in different ways compared with the right-on alternative comedy which was born out of the Thatcher era – then Long is only too happy to disabuse you of that notion.

A critically acclaimed stand-up, Long has only spoken frankly of her belatedly becoming politicised, with her opposition to the Tory-led coalition government as her jumping-on point. Long has often brought along musicians on tour, such as Fence Records co-founder Pictish Trail, and this time it was the turn of singer-songwriter Grace Petrie whose politically charged folk songs sounded as though heavily influenced by Billy Bragg. Read the rest of this entry »

Several generations of music fans grew up cherishing the tones of the late, celebrated DJ John Peel and the records he used to play. A decade on from winning a box of records from the much-missed broadcaster’s shed, poet John Osborne has turned this experience into a critically acclaimed one-hour theatre show.

A treasure trove of memories and stories, John Peel’s Shed received great reviews at last summer’s Edinburgh Festival and Osborne is now taking it out on a national tour, including an evening at Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry. It’s a must for anyone who shares a passion for rare records and the intimacy of radio.

There are two performances of John Peel’s Shed at Warwick Arts Centre on Sunday February 12th, at 6pm and 7.45pm. Tickets are £10.50. John Osborne is a poet and author, and his published works include Radio Head.

Bo Burnham: A precocious mind at work

It’s five years since Bo Burnham became a YouTube sensation as a 16-year-old with a knack for penning comic songs. As he’s grown older, the songs and his act have become more sophisticated and this has been rewarded with a movie deal with Judd Apatow.

If there were any doubts about his ability to transfer his wordy yet hyperactive comic persona to the stage, a special for Comedy Central (he became the youngest comedian to record one for the channel) and an acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe last year dispelled them with aplomb. Currently touring the UK, this gig served to prove that you really should believe the hype. Read the rest of this entry »

Carly Smallman: Fun, filth and flirting to a folk-pop soundtrack

When it gets round to the summer months there are plenty of places to be which are more appropriate than the top floor of the Victoria. A small, hot room isn’t the ideal place when there’s warmer weather around, but that ignores the fun-filled delights of Popcorn Comedy, back for another monthly celebration of the best work of comedy film-makers online, and quality stand-up acts too.

Along the way, there are videos on the dangers of being a cyclist, a sketch from Two Episodes of Mash about what happens to a human cannonball when directions go awry, the alluring properties of a picture of fruit (in a clip featuring Community‘s Donald Glover), and the tale of a village and its problems with delinquent pensioners. Read the rest of this entry »

The good folks at Dice Productions are back with another helping of Popcorn Comedy this month, at the Victoria on Thursday May 19th. This month the acts include Worm Hotel, purveyors of sketch comedy online and on TV (Big Train, Smack the Pony) plus also the creators of the wonderful – and really rather touching – Misery Bear. They’ve appeared in The I.T. Crowd and Charlie Brooker’s How TV Ruined Your Life too, so come with a fantastic comedy pedigree.

Also performing is Carly Smallman, a musical comedian who’s appeared on The Rob Brydon Show and has written and performed in a host of sketches for the BBC’s online comedy emporium. See her now beforeher name’s everywhere!

Tickets for Popcorn Comedy are £6 and are available here. For more information look up Popcorn Comedy on Facebook.

Three Bonzos and a Piano: Anarchic music and mirth

For fun and heart-warming acts, few can top Three Bonzos and a Piano. Marshalled superbly by Roger Ruskin Spear (whose son Justin is now a broadcaster, journalist and Stuart Maconie’s sidekick on his BBC 6Music show The Freak Zone), Rodney Slater and Sam Spoons completed the triumvirate of remaining Bonzos members.

If it’s never quite going to be the same without Neil Innes and the late Viv Stanshall, two hours in the company of Three Bonzos and a Piano acted as a superb tribute to the anarchic spirit and humour so fondly remembered by the audience. Fitting timing, too, given that EMI released a triple-disc compilation of remastered songs and rarities earlier this month. Read the rest of this entry »

John Shuttleworth: A man with no more rolls (or should that be 'morals'?)

With any performer who’s been playing a character for a long period of time, it’s often natural to wonder how much of themselves they put into the creation – the lines can become blurred. If this is sometimes said of Steve Coogan (with reference to Alan Partridge, a character who remains enduringly popular with a new batch of the brilliant Fosters-sponsored webisodes), the same is perhaps true of Graham Fellows, creator of John Shutleworth.

For over two decades and across several BBC series (mostly for the esteemed Radio 4, but also fondly remembered TV shows like 500 Bus Stops), Fellows has been fleshing out the character ever since, to the point where he could scarcely be more believable. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Bonzos and a Piano: Anarchic comedy pop from a trio of music stalwarts

A lot has been said and written about the similarities between comedy and jazz. The Bonzos effectively bridged the gap between music and comedy with their offbeat pop surrealism, appearing as the house band alongside future Monty Python members in Do Not Adjust Your Set, while pin-sharp pop songs like ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’, ‘Monster Mash’ and ‘Canyons of Your Mind’ won them fans on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Beatles.

Original members Roger Ruskin Spear, Rodney Slater and Sam Spoons are back on tour as Three Bonzos and a Piano, and they’re appearing at Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry on Sunday February 13th. Tickets can be purchased here. Look out for our review of the show soon!

Ooh look, there go Conchords again...

Tickets to the Flight of the Conchords sold quicker than excrement off a digging tool thanks to some marketing imbecile, who decided that priority ticket purchasing would be allocated to those who had become a ‘fan’ of the show on Facebook.

The power of social networking is apparent in the modern day and perhaps I’m too over critical of artists who turn their back on their loyal following unless they play ball and surrender to the phenomenon. We’ve come a long way since simply buying a t-shirt satisfies our heroes. Read the rest of this entry »