Back in Blighty again and spent a whirlwind week in London, catching up with my closest friend, before she disappeared to her second home in Suffolk…will be joining her this weekend, travelling up by train, which I love. Despite delays and timetable frustrations, here with the engineering works and be bumped by freight trains in the US (there is only one rail line)….it is a joy just to sit and look out of the window at the passing scenery. Wish there was more available train service in the USA…never understood why, in the West train lines and stations lie empty and unused..automobile industry I suppose…money. It’s a waste …those tracks built by pioneers …all that back breaking, heart breaking labour going to waste. Good series on Netflix about that story…Hell on Wheels.
Now a little about stand up comedy…largely performed in clubs. Many of our finest actors started in standup: Steve Martin, Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams. You couldn’t pay me enough to do it. It takes enormous talent, skill,and sheer guts to stand up on stage alone and make an “okay make me laugh“audience …..laugh.
One of my good friends here in the UK is the playwright Terence Frisby, he who wrote the hugely successful play There’s A Girl in my Soup, suddenly decided at the ripe old age …let’s just say over 80…to try his hand at stand up comedy. Last Sunday I assembled, with his group of friends, of which I am a part when I am here, together with his son Dominic (also stand up comedian and financial writer) and his two teenage children to watch Terry do his act. This was in a competition for stand ups over the age of 35, surprisingly called A Competition for Old Comedians…..old at over 35? Now I know we are all in trouble! The performers were all talented and funny, but what surprised me was the amount of really “dirty” humour. Thought I am reasonably sophisticated, having lived for a while now, but even I was uncomfortable, especially with two teenage kids a couple of seats away. I was bored with the endless “funny?” discussion of men and women’s most private parts in graphic conversation. Are we grownups or what?
I am no prude…I love sex as much as anyone, provided there’s a little love attached to it. However sex, in its crudest form abounds in every direction now in the media….press, screen: small and large and of course social media and not in an attractive nor amusing way. Page 3 is no longer confined to Page 3. It’s as if sex had just been invented and we’d never heard of it before.. It’s presented in every graphic detail..prurient and nasty. There’s no mystery nor fun attached….pity.
Sex has been around a long time in the media….you might remember those Restoration comedies on stage in the 17th Century : The Country Wife, The Way of the World.…bawdy, naughty, but above all charming and engaging, not sly and isolating.
Last word about stand up, new friend and co-star in our new short About Andy, Austin Van Johnson does stand up and is very very good at it. And thank goodness the “coarse comedy” doesn’t seem to have reached the clubs in Idaho so far. Long live stand up, but don’t rely on smutty material to make us laugh!!!
All for now friends!