Upfront Comedy with a French Twist

  • Star Rating: ****
  • Tricycle Theatre
  • London NW6
  • Sunday 8th October 2017

Oh la la. A new season of Upfront Comedy got off to bang with something of a French theme, merci beaucoup to Parisienne Arielle Souma and French sounding South Londoner Angie Le Mar performing at the Tricycle Theatre.

The show was superbly compered by Eddie Nestor who regaled the Kilburn audience with tales of getting old, or at least finding out that some people, perish the thought, see him as an older man! I loved the story of him almost getting into a fight over this and not with whom you might expect!

Eddie Nestor

These jokes were interspersed with hilarious stories about the joys and perils of fatherhood, mixed in with everyday realities of living in the capital city. It was an enjoyable the mix of the serious and moving, with the light hearted asides and unexpected punchlines peppering his set and keeping things moving along nicely.

From L-R Eddie Nestor, Angie Le Mar, Arielle Souma & Icy Jones

 

Kilburn lad Icy Jones is a relatively new, raw talent and what he lacked in stand out material he partly made up for with his confident, relaxed stage persona. Some of the jokes about living at home with mother were OK, not the best in genre, but unfortunately all too often his set was spoiled by a level of shocking profanity that was more brutally harsh than funny. Many experienced comedians can carry that off and it’s getting the accent, timing and context right that matters, or doing without it altogether that is the real skill to be worked on. Considering the audience was a more mature crowd it didn’t go down too well and it jarred slightly as otherwise he came across as a good, presentable guy. Icy Jones has potential and he’ll do well to focus more on creating good jokes than shocking people with his swearing and sometimes off key Caribbean accents. 

Arielle Souma got off to a wonderfully topical start with jokes about detention centres, passports and immigration, with a semi-political bent, joking that Brexit’s making it harder for her as a French woman. Arielle Souma is a one woman production line of wickedly saucy jokes. The audience were in hysterics re her, how can we put this, rather unusual and indelicate method of making lemonade to earn a living.

The jokes taking the mic out of British drinking habits such as “getting drunk before 7pm” hit the sweet spot for this audience. Much of her set was quite self-deprecating and worked all the better for this.  She’s clocked the Brits loves nothing better than seeing someone taking themselves down a peg or two! The only other time I’ve seen her was over 2 years ago and I recall writing that she’s definitely one to watch and on this performance she more than proved me right.

She clearly won Eddie over, who despite his initial couldn’t care less attitude to her being from France, “just be funny and make me laugh”, hilariously commented at the end of her set that “her ‘assets’ were as big as his mortgage!”

Angie Le Mar

It was great to see headliner Angie Le Mar and Eddie Nestor teasing one another about their age and longevity in the industry. As with most Stand Up Comedians, they focus on where they are in life and thus, like Eddie, much of Le Mar’s focus was on getting older and the fact she’s reached that age, that when it comes to form filling, equates to ticking the boxes higher up the age categories!

She too was concerned re parenting and life for youngsters in London today. Whilst some of it was quite familiar ground, including the beatings the older generation received “back in the day” versus restrictions upon parenting today, she made a serious point with great humour that there is something to be said for strict parental discipline that doesn’t cross that line into something else.

There was a nice topical gag re the latest Dove advert, although having watched it (see below) I’m not so sure they did cross the line with their latest advert that has caused a little bit of a stink in the last 48 hours resulting in Dove pulling their latest advert. I thought soap firms were meant to clean up a stink not create them! If anything its a rather dry, poor advert, but not really anything to, no pun intended, get all worked up into a lather over! Watch it for yourself and let us know. Though it’s in French, don’t be put off.  The images speak for themselves.

Le Mar referenced the fact it was Black History Month quite frequently and bemoaned the fast food culture and lack of Caribbean cooking old school style, lots of preparation, that seemed to be going on nowadays.

This is Upfront Comedy’s 25th year in business and the show was a fine example of what they’ve been doing since 1992, namely bringing to the stage overseas talent, brand new local talent and mixing it all up with seasoned pro’s. Long may that continue. C’est magnifique.

Review and photos © Tiemo Talk of the Town

Montage pictures courtesy of Countryman &  Leighsa

The next Upfront Comedy Show at Tricycle Theatre is on Sunday 5th November 2017 and stars Judi Love, Kevin J, Special P and Gabriel Ebulue.

Before that, Upfront Comedy are at Wolverhampton Lighthouse on 3rd November 2017 as part of the Funny Things Comedy Festival (23.10.17 to 05.11.17) and The Mac Theatre, Birmingham, on 4th November 2017

 

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Heads Together for Young Minds Comedy Gala

Heads Together for Young Minds Comedy Gala
Star Rating: *****
Shepherds Bush Empire
London W12

Review Date: 18th September 2017

Early on in proceedings Compere Frank Skinner made a topical, venue related joke about three things dying out in the country. It was a neat, original gag that went down a treat in a packed Shepherds Bush Empire and set the tone for a star studded night of top comedy. Fortunately for ticket holders for this ‘Heads Together – Young Minds’ charity fundraiser/awareness raising show stand up comedy isn’t one of those things dying out. If anything, English comedians are world leading when it comes to stand up comedy.

In a superbly entertaining show the audience were treated to a high calibre show featuring a wide variety of comedic styles from the high energy, hyperactive Russell Kane to the whimsical Tommy Tiernan; clean, highly relatable everyday tales made funny by Michael McIntyre to the rude, crude and witty repartee from Jimmy Carr.

Heads Together is the very high profile campaign fronted by Prince Harry, Prince William and his wife Catherine to get people of all ages and backgrounds talking about mental health.  Young Minds is a charity, as its names implies, focused on getting young people to talk about their mental health.

Considering the subject matter, Russell Kane must be commended as the only act of the night to perform a set predominantly based on the very subject matter of the event. That’s not surprising as his most recent tour was entitled ‘Right Age, Wrong Man’ which was largely centred on his rites of passage journey from boy to man to father. I really, really enjoyed his set, which was by turns, quite literally, as he ran about the stage like a spinning dervish, both extremely amusing and thought provoking. Amongst other things, he joked about men of a certain age being more interested in not laughing, not having a good time and saw that as a one way street to an early death in your 60’s, whereas if they looked at life differently, more optimistically, they could live a happier, healthier life.

Women have it more sorted he said. They talk to one another. They share life experiences. They get real with one another. Men need to talk to one another more and not bottle things up. You could tell he passionately cared about the subject and that earnest energy and commitment really got the message across loud and clear without being overtly preachy. Bravo Russell Kane.

Frank Skinner was similarly on point, though in a less obvious, far more restrained way. I suspect he can’t be asked to run around the stage… though he mentioned losing 1.5 stones at one point and looked pretty trim on it, so he must be doing something right off. He got his point and jokes across in a way that many comedians do by seemingly over sharing about their relationships, the arguments, tensions that go on within them. I say over sharing, but perhaps it shouldn’t be seen as that. How audiences knowingly laugh when he jokes about the furious rows with his girlfriend of 17 years or the dreaded silent treatment.  P.S. Why is it that only women do that? Such was the animosity in his relationship he even feared for his life whilst on a break in Paris, the so called most romantic city in the world. Wow!!

The silent treatment material was responded to, somewhat ironically, with loud laughter all around the vast theatre. The silence is something that I’ve no doubt countless men in long term relationships have endured. Some like naughty Jimmy Carr get particular pleasure when his partner is giving him the ‘silent treatment’! All this was good to hear really, totally and frankly embraced the theme of the night. Talking. Sharing. Oh and of course women need to stop with the silent treatment thing as it’s so off point and un-helpful!

In a way, it’s a good thing that comedians ‘overshare’ as the reason people find it funny is that they identify with their pain and suffering! It normalises it, which is reassuring. Reminds people that they are not alone. Shared laughter can be cathartic. The need to and benefits of talking things through are universal and if anything that was the key message of the show. People need to put their heads together and come up with solutions, not keep their heads apart from one another in silence where problems can fester, resulting in unhappiness which, at worst, can turn into sadness, depression and mental health issues that require psychological treatment.

Canadian Katherine Ryan was on good form and arguably on rather safer terrain, joking about familiar areas of singleness and being a single mum. It was somewhat ironic that I was sat next to two Montreal women who’d timed a 2 week vacation in England deliberately to catch this gig. One was practically choking with laughter during the sets of Michael McIntyre and Tommy Tiernan.

Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntrye was brilliant as usual with an original set finding the funny in everyday life situations. It was quite masterful watching him transform innocuous tales of driving, motorway service stations and men’s toilet etiquette into side hilarious routines.

Irishman Tommy Tiernan was entertaining with physical health related yarns comparing the health of his health with ticker with his dick(er)! As with Kane, he skillfully combined humour with getting across a much needed message about the need for men to take care of their health and not let pride or a busy life stopping them going to the GP to get checked out.

Surprisingly and very sadly for such a talented man, Harry Hill was the big disappointment of the night. Considering the great heights of popularity reached with his TV shows this was a great comedown as, for some reason, he really struggled to connect with the audience. By his standards it’s fair to say it was a shockingly bad performance, woefully short on funny gags. There was a lot of silent, physical movement material that was watchable but alas it just wasn’t that funny. Surreal, character comedy was his former stock in trade before creating hit TV shows, so trying to pull this off on a stand up comedy show starring some of the best in the business was always going to be a tough ask. 

I don’t think Hill has done that much live work and certainly has not done stand up comedy, for years and that was reflected on stage. I’m sure there’s better to come with future performances as he gets his live comedy groove on.
It could have been redeemed by the finale singing ‘My Way’ but for some bizarre reason he chose to sing it backwards. Kind of impressive, but somewhat pointless and irrelevant. Nonetheless it was the best bit of his show and in fact sung normally it would have made for a lovely close to the whole show as it actually sounded really good. The 02 Empire is more used to concerts so that’s not surprising. It was noticeable that most performers said that this was their first time performing there.

Jimmy Carr

As it was, we had Jimmy Carr closing the show with a quality set of rapid fire gags that as always, didn’t just cross the line, but ran right past it leaving it well out of sight! The audience lapped it up.

Considering the evening was about encouraging young people to talk about mental health it was a missed opportunity to not hear from one or two young people about how they had benefited from talking about their mental health and/or at least have representatives from Heads Together and Young Minds taking to the stage to talk about their work. Furthermore, in a night targeting young minds it might have been nice to at least include one young, 20 something comedian on the bill. Notwithstanding that, this was an outstanding night of high class comedy for a very worthy cause. It was fitting and poignant that Frank Skinner closed the night with a personal account of losing a family member to a mental health condition. I’m sure if enough well meaning people put their heads together his show can be repeated again for the benefit of our young and not so young alike.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. Heads Together – website
  2. Young Minds –  website
  3. It’s Good to Talk – Tackling the Male Suicide Crisis

Heads Together

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health. Heads Together aims to change the national conversation on mental health and wellbeing, and is a partnership with inspiring charities with decades of experience in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges.

 

There has been huge progress made to tackle stigma surrounding mental health in recent decades, but it still remains a key issue driven by negative associations, experience and language. Through this campaign, Their Royal Highnesses are keen to build on the great work that is already taking place across the country, to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that stigma no longer prevents people getting help they need.

Young Minds

The Young Minds charity exists so that young people have the strongest possible voice in improving their mental health. We need your help to make sure that voice is heard.

We champion children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing across the UK. Driven by their experience we create change so that children and young people can cope with life’s adversities, find help when needed and succeed in life.

Young Minds: Our Goals

  1. To keep ourselves focused and on track, we’ve set out 4 key strategic aims:
  2. Foster innovation to meet the needs of vulnerable and excluded children and young people.
  3. Promote good mental health to more children and young people than ever before.
  4. Champion the voices of young people and parents to influence mental health policy and practice.
  5. Inspire excellence to achieve transformed, integrated services.

 

Posted in Comedy Reviews 2017, Health and well being, Men and Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Detroit: Harrowing Civil Unrest Drama

Detroit Movie
Star Rating: *****
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Producers: Megan Ellison, Kathryn Bigelow, Matthew Budman, Colin Wilson and Mark Boal
Made by: Annapurna Pictures. Running time: 143minutes
Review date: 02.9.17

Detroit maybe famously known as Motor City, but back in 1967, it became notorious for something other than producing automobiles. In July 1967 this American city experienced a series of terrible riots and an infamous night of Police led terror at the Algiers Motel.

Produced and Directed by Oscar winning (‘The Hurtlocker’) Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit, is the story of the summer of 1967 when racial tensions between Police and African-Americans boiled over. Bigelow vividly and harrowingly depicts the unfolding tragedy on what starts out as an ordinary Saturday night out with people enjoying music, drink and dominoes at an un-licensed night club. Elsewhere, theatregoers are enjoying a concert. The Police however have other ideas and set out to spoil the party.

Detroit 1967

Although the drama is clearly set 50 years ago, the events would not seem out of place if this was a story from 2017, such is the horrifying way too many American police officers have been unlawfully executing, quite literally, their duties in recent years. If you think the excesses of recent times are new, you need to watch this film.

It’s an extreme story, expertly told which grips your attention from start to finish, especially the scenes of terrifying torture as a group of out of control policemen seek to bully confessions out of a group of Black men and a couple of young white women for what seems an eternity. You never quite know what might happen next such is the deranged way in which one particular officer directs proceedings.

Londoner John Boyega (pictured on trailer) plays Security Guard, Melvin Dismukes, who finds himself witnessing the drama first hand. His studied and underplayed reactions, almost like an external insider to events speak volumes. He handles himself and this role with a dignified, sensible and entirely credible manner.

A little more context to events leading up to the riots and civil disturbance might have been helpful. Nonetheless, I can see Oscar nominations and awards for Detroit for it is a horrifically sad,  yet gut wrenchingly great movie that recounts real life events decades ago that unfortunately rings all too true today. It’s fascination in large part is down to this very timelessness as watching it you can’t help but think of recent tragic events in America. It makes you wonder how far, if at all, things have progressed with regards to civil rights, justice and basic human respect for African-Americans in the so called land of the free.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links:

  1. After Ferguson: How Far Has the Civil Rights Movement Progressed in Britain and America? – Battle of Ideas review  – 11th November 2015
  2. 3.5 Minutes, 10 Bullets – Review – 10th October 2015

 

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Faith: The George Michael Legacy Lives On with Wayne Dilks

FAITH George Michael: The Legacy – Wayne Dilks
Star Rating: *****
Venue: Beck Theatre
Hayes
Middlesex
Review Date: 31st August 2017

Cos you gotta have faith, faith, faith. So sang George Michael in his pomp and so too did top tribute artist Wayne Dilks during his legacy tour concert. At a packed Beck Theatre he belted out these very same lyrics in a memorable tribute to celebrate the life of the late pop superstar.

It was pretty clear to me that the audience of fans had a lot of faith in Wayne Dilks to deliver. They certainly didn’t have to be asked twice to get up and dance and sing along. Who wouldn’t as the big hits rolled along seamlessly like cars on a production line, one after another, from ‘Amazing’ to ‘Let’s Go Outside’ to ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go!’
This amazing show was filled not only with these well known and much loved get up onto your feet tracks, but also contained a good number of more reflective ballads like ‘Praying for Time’ and ‘A Different Corner’. These slower numbers allowed you to pay more attention to the carefully crafted lyrics and simply admire the music. Noting the age of the audience – average age seemed to be 40-50 something it was probably just as well there were plenty of sit down numbers!

Wayne Dilks

Wayne Dilks struck just about the right balance here and worked well to engage the audience throughout with plenty of friendly chit chat, jokes and audience participation, urging the crowd to dance, wave their arms, sing along and repeat familiar sounding openings to songs e..g “Da da da da, da da da da daaaa, da da…” which hard core fans will recognise as the opening to ‘Amazing’.

This truly was an amazing show. A real spectacle in terms of its creative, bright and sparkling light and video show as backdrop to the singing and dancing. The backing singers and musicians were on song.

An unexpected and memorable highlight of the night came from Steve Booth and Bonnie. Who I hear you ask? Let me explain. Prior to one song Wayne invited a Steve Booth to join him on stage to sing his favourite George Michael song. OKAY. Steve comes bounding down the stage and greet Wayne with a big hug as if they know one another. Then he takes out a sheet of paper. Maybe it’s the lyrics, but I’m thinking if this is your favourite song why do you need the lyrics written down? Hmmm.

Steve and Wayne Dilks

Anyway, he proceeds to deliver a speech. The moving speech conveys how much he’s loved Bonnie these past 11 years, how she’s been a real rock for him. His voice is clearly crackling with tremendous nerves and emotion. We feel his passion and trepidation. The audience quickly cottons on to what’s going on and starts to go wild. Camera phones come out. Raucous cheering and clapping ensues. Steve finishes with … you’ve guessed it .. a marriage proposal to his Bonnie!

By now Beck Theatre Ushers have come out armed with flowers and balloons for Bonnie. Steve’s Bonnie lass (pardon the pun lol) comes bounding down the steps onto the stage and gives him a great big hug. They warmly embrace. Sharing a “private” moment in front of 600 strangers takes some guts. The audience erupts and joy abounds. Wonderful. They go back to their seats.

Bonnie and Steve

Someone shouts out, “Did she say yes?” Good question, for in all the emotion and noise we didn’t actually hear the answer. Bonnie must have answered with a careless whisper that no one heard! Hushed silence. Wayne enquired and he gets the thumbs up. Phew!! Cue more applause.

Follow that Wayne! Tough ask as Bonnie and Steve threatened to totally eclipse the show but he did with a few more numbers before going into the interval.

Wayne Dilks  – Click on photo for excerpt of Freedom 90’s video on the night

The second half was full of more hit songs including, ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘Club Tropicana’, and ‘Careless Whisper’. What was so nice re this was not just the music and songs, but that it was educational at times and Wayne talked frequently talked normally to the audience with good humour. It was clear he was genuine fan too – 16 years doing this – and loved George Michael as much as the fans sitting in the theatre. We learned that Last Christmas was written in just 20 minutes! That George’s favourite WHAM! Song was ‘Everything She Wants’ and that ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ was last performed “live” by WHAM! in 1986. Great. It would also have been nice to have heard classics which George didn’t seem to play live too often such as ‘Last Christmas’ ‘Blue’ and ‘Credit Card Baby.’

All in all the Faith George Michael: The Legacy was a wonderful tribute. Great music, singing, video and spectacular light show. The fans showed the love, none more so than Bonnie and Steve! All the best to them in a night they and all present will never forget for obvious reasons.

© Review and Photos – Tiemo Talk of the Town

First photo courtesy of Wayne Dilks

The Faith: George Michael The Legacy Tour continues all over the UK right through to September 2018

Have you ever witnessed a live marriage proposal in public? If so, let us know your story via the comments section below. If you were at this show your comments would be welcome.

This was the third time in 5 years I’ve witnessed a marriage proposal mid-show. The last time was back in November 2013 at the Indigo o2, London, during a World Superstars of Comedy II show hosted by Richard Blackwood.

The first time was at a YolanDa Brown – April Showers, May Flowers show at the Hammersmith Apollo in February 2012.

Links:

  1. Fans Flock to George Michael Public Memorial Service – 1st May 2017
  2. Symphonica review – Earls Court – 19th October 2012
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Why are Some of the People v Reginald D Hunter?

Why are Some of the People v Reginald D Hunter?
Star Rating: ****
O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
London W12
Review Date: Friday 23rd June 2017

It’s the last week-end of June so it must be time to see Reginald D Hunter. Exactly two years ago I reviewed the penultimate night of his previous tour. Here I was again to review the penultimate night of his tour. Same borough, Hammersmith & Fulham. Different venue. This year he is concluding with two nights at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a slightly smaller venue than Hammersmith Apollo. That may be significant and I’ll return to that later, or it may just be because his fellow American stars, Penn & Teller, are performing a short residency there. These yanks. Coming over here and taking our best venues!

Whilst Reginald D Hunter (RDH) covered familiar serious topics – politics (USA and UK), racism, gender, age, family and faith(briefly) this time he was doing it in a very different manner and that was quite sad to see. Having mastered the art of stand up comedy, RDH was now practicing the art of sit down comedy. Maybe he fancies himself as the next Dave Allen? Ironically, in my review of his last Hammersmith show I referred to the fact that “I think the only thing he didn’t touch upon [in terms of controversial topics] was disability. Maybe that’s for his next tour!”

Well sadly for him he ticks, or should that be two ticks, that box now (one for the Equalities and HR experts) for it’s his own new disability that creates the odd sight of RDH being wheeled out onto stage in a wheelchair, for 3 weeks before this show he broke his leg. That’s taking the old maxim, ‘break a leg’ just a little bit too literally! RDH being RDH he used his newly created disability to form the opening gag of the night, “I thought I’d find out for myself how good your NHS is…. It’s good!”

Reginald D Hunter

You soon get used to the sit down RDH as his delivery and ability hold the audience’s rapt attention is second to none. If anything it probably helped sharpen the focus as there was to be none of his usual pacing up and down, not that he does a lot of that anyway. As I say the show covered familiar ground and whilst it was a very good show, there were a few familiar moments in there – talk of his bisexual niece, his sojourn into the daytime world of book, authors and literary agents, his christian brother and his return to his deep Southern American roots to make a show for the BBC. That was fine in the main as these are fascinating stories and the pay off’s are worth it. For instance, it allowed RDH the opportunity to regale, if that’s the right word, the audience with the incredible tale of the agent who’d been married for 45 years, yet whose marriage crumbled to pieces due to the most extraordinary discovery she made.

There’s some fine comedy in this show indeed. Not a little bathos too. It looked like he might break down at one or two moments when recalling his father’s response to his acts of generosity on a recent home visit to see his folks in Georgia, South America. With the amount of racism still prevalent in the States to hear your own folks uttering comments that question whether you earn your good living legitimately must be quite heartbreaking. That said, RDH is pretty famous so can point to countless DVD’s, press and TV appearances to back up that he is probably doing quite well thank you very much.

I thought the material on Trump was a bit so so by RDH’s usual high standard’s and didn’t particularly offer much beyond the usual ‘Oh isn’t Trump an embarrassment fare.’

Reginald D Hunter

He mentioned that we should look out for some scandal down the line re German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Whilst that may sound a little far fetched, he reminded us that he did tell us to watch out for Ant n Dec during past shows and that turned out to be true the week before this gig, with the surprise revelation that Ant McPharlan of Ant n Dec fame had checked into rehab for drug addiction.

The show’s title is ‘Some of the People v Reginald D Hunter’. I wonder if that’s a throwback to the furore caused by the Hammersmith show in 2015 when he got heckled by a couple of women for a “rape joke” that they didn’t take too kindly to. That marred the end of what had been a very good show and perhaps this is his way of addressing that on stage.

Maybe this is a reference to those who don’t take to him because of such material and of course the whole “rape joke” furore has divided some comedy audiences in recent years. However, whilst he has a hugely loyal fanbase who want the comedy with a focus on the less frivolous, more serious aspects of life, one can easily see how certain not insignificant sectors of the population (i.e. women) may be v Reginald D Hunter.

For instance, the areas covered are constant – race, rape, gender, failed relationships, the N Word. As always he opens by way of explaining why he uses the N word. Well maybe he could save a few minutes and avoid the controversy by just cutting out the N word. This isn’t America and by and large British audiences don’t want to hear the word. He jokes about crossover audiences but sadly he doesn’t actually have that. His audiences are predominantly (98%) white English men and women. Not even many, if any American’s. It’s not as if there aren’t any in London at any given time. That’s not surprising they’re not at his show as he seems to brands white Americans as racist most of the time. I understand the use of the N word definitely deters what ought to be, arguably, his natural audience of Black Brits, but they’re not attending in any significant numbers either which is a real shame as he has a lot to say on many serious topics that deserve to be heard by a wide range of audiences. RDH has the uncanny knack of being able to be both funny whilst often making a serious point as well.

Then there’s the female audience. Not unexpectedly they’ll not be great fans of so called “rape jokes”. The funny thing is he doesn’t really do rape jokes and the one he told actually was “ironic” and not at all in defence of rape. Quite the opposite.

He tells us that his agent pleaded with him to put some lighter, more fluffy stuff at the end of his show … not just for the fans benefit, but to “reduce the number of letter of complaints” she gets ! he pondered this for a moment on stage as we half-anticipated what he was going to do but he moves on to discuss another heavy topic … Bill Cosby!

RDH seems to have a fascination with the darker side of life, the sexual deviant activities that go on – and that’s not dissimilar to many comedians – Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, to name but two, who also aren’t exactly renowned for doing light and fluffy!! However this is at the expense of showing a lighter side which may be a welcome relief not just to his agent, but his audiences too. Could this be why he’s playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire rather than Hammersmith Apollo?

Nonetheless, it’s the raw, uncompromising, shock comedic material that has made his name, and thought it’s always worth exploring new topics, I don’t see RDH changing any time soon. So some of the People v Reginald D Hunter had, like him, better get used to that, take a seat and enjoy the show.

© Photos and Shepherds Bush Empire Photos – Tiemo Talk of the Town

 

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Why a Victorious Theresa May Will Deliver on her 5 Year Mandate

If you were to believe our media (established and social) you’d be mistaken for thinking the Labour party won last week’s General Election. Since when did second become the new first? On that basis I must congratulate Spurs on winning the Premier League title this season and offer belated congratulations to Arsenal for winning the League last season. Let us also congratulate FA Cup runners up Chelsea on actually being the real winners, rather than Arsenal, a few short weeks ago! It’s utter nonsense. As in sport so in politics. Results are what matters and whether you win 5-1 or 2-1, a win is a win, is a win. Brexit means Brexit.

The first thing people should do is congratulate Theresa May and the Conservative party on being victorious once again against an, as far as they and the media anticipated, unexpectedly strong opponent. In a fair contest she increased the Tory percentage of votes and beat nearest rival Labour by a clear 52 votes. The British public turned out in record numbers to vote and the Conservative party won fair and square. Yes with less of a majority than last time, but that happens. They entered the election with “only” a  majority of 12 so it was hardly an enormous majority to hold onto or lose. You can’t expect to win 4-1 every time and anyone who does expect that is living in cloud cuckoo land. It’s funny, but the media are now banging the drums trying to convince the electorate that Theresa May has had her day. Well I’m sorry but why should we listen to them? Did they call this election right? No. Did they call the EU Referendum correctly? No. Did they call the 2015 general election correctly? No. Perhaps all the political Journalists and editors should collectively resign too? Three strikes and you’re out.

Collective Responsibility

Let us be very clear the Prime Minister on her own did not decide this election will happen. Under the fixed term parliamentary process there wasn’t one due until 2020. She asked Parliament to vote on it. Her party, the Labour party, along with most MP’s voted pretty unanimously for it. 522 MPs voted for, just 13 against. A thumping 98% majority for an election. Labour could have blocked this election happening, just as Tory MP’s could have. Therefore the Tories must accept collective responsibility for not achieving the thumping, increased majority they sought and let’s be honest, they had the intent to wipe out Labour and they missed that goal by a country mile.

Prime Minister Theresa May

It was a gamble and it backfired. Labour are a major, major political party and they were seriously underestimated. It reminds me of how Arsenal were so written off as massive underdogs in last month’s FA Cup final. This is Arsenal we’re talking about (who’d won the FA Cup twice in the past 3 years) with their long, proud, trophy winning history. Yet they were dismissed as if they were a no-hoper and look how that turned out.

Leadership Change

I accept that mistakes were made in the campaign and arguably the PM does have to take a degree of responsibility. Moreso if, as reported, she was drafting and launching new policies and a manifesto without consulting and getting the agreement of her cabinet, then clearly the buck stops with her, but this doesn’t absolve the cabinet of all responsibility. It’s their job to know what is going on and when they first became aware of May operating in such a manner to challenge her. Seemingly they didn’t. May knows how cabinet responsibility works and should have operated under the principles of shared cabinet responsibility and decision making.

Nonetheless, for a number of reasons I do not think May deserves to be forced out or feel any need whatsoever to resign this year or for the foreseeable future. Firstly and most importantly she won the election.

Secondly, it could have been a lot worse. A lot, lot worse. Imagine. The Conservatives could have actually lost.

Thirdly, as mentioned above, if she has to go, then surely the media and pollsters should resign too for not calling this outcome correctly? I can tell you that won’t happen.

Fourthly, if it was an error to call an election and not at least retain a Commons majority, then the Tory cabinet and MP’s of both main parties who all voted for an election and campaigned hard to win should resign for agreeing to an election that the victorious are having described by media pundits as a defeat and the other seen as a victory, which it factually is not. That neither party won by a clear majority is a collective failure of the leader’s of both parties, their manifesto’s and their MP’s. So either they all resign or none do.

 

Prime Minister Theresa May

What would May resigning actually achieve except to create the very same instability the country doesn’t want or need right now or in the next 2 years as we seek to negotiate our way out of the EU. If May goes, we’d have another leadership campaign which would distract from the business of running the country and Brexiting the EU; potentially the calling of yet another General Election if any new leader wants the public’s mandate to be PM. That would create the potential for Labour to get in power which, if it happened, would equate to the most spectacular own goal of all. Why give Labour yet another unexpected election opportunity when they’re only meant to get the chance every 5 years?

There is no law or rule of any sort that says a victorious PM, even with a smaller winning margin, has to resign. I think the media and politicians should stop treating politics like a game where there constantly has to be threats of elections, calls for resignations and talk of potential leadership battles all the time. 8th June 2017 was not the latest opinion poll or exit poll. It was the actual, final result of the biggest political, public consultation you can have. The public has spoken and decisively voted in the Conservative party. That party should proceed to carry on running the country for five more years. If the public wanted another outcome they would have voted for that. It’s akin to the Brexit vote. Many said 52:48 in favour of Brexit was too close to call and called for another referendum. Remainers said the Brexit vote wasn’t really decisive enough for such an important matter, but the Brexiters held firm and said ‘a win is a win, is a win’ and the country has accepted that. So too must we over the vote last Thursday.

Lessons Learned

We could always consider the novel approach of leaving May with the opportunity to learn the lessons from this result and work on any areas of weakness identified, just as any readers would expect if they had not quite achieved in all aspects of their job, especially if relatively new into post, as of course, May is. From July 2016 until April 2017 May was widely perceived to have been a good Prime Minister, a steady, safe pair of hands. You cannot seriously allow a mere seven week election campaign to derail that opinion and her capability to fulfil her role. This are just a select few annoyed MP’s, allied to media, seeking to make trouble and create a new agenda and storyline now that the election has happened. It suits them to talk up the drama and paint the outcome as a Tory defeat, Labour victory.

If the Tory party can form a workable and sustainable deal with the DUP they do not have to call another election for 5 years. If the DUP don’t sign up to the proposed ‘”confidence and supply” ‘non coalition’ arrangement this could of course trigger a general election if not now, at any time in the future if there is a vote of no confidence in the Government.

Even if we had another general election in the next 6-12 months who’s to say that lessons won’t have been learnt by May and the Government and they return to power with a clearer and bigger majority than they have now? There are no certainties with any option.

How could things have turned out very differently?

With both main parties aligned when it comes to Brexit this meant the PM’s stated intention to make this a Brexit election never materialised. The public decided there were many other issues that concerned them, from the NHS, security, pensions, elder care and the financing of it etc… It would have been much more interesting if a major party campaigned on a ticket of overturning Brexit. Surely with 48% in favour of remaining we’d have had a real point of difference and a legitimate opportunity to reverse last June’s referendum outcome. As it was we never had that, so the Brexit v Remain debate failed to materialise.

Similarly it would have been good if one of the parties campaigned for a completely different approach to tackling Islamic extremism and terrorism, particularly after the Manchester Arena and London Bridge/Borough Market terrorist attacks. The current approach taken means many can see no end in sight to what is going on. Logically that should point to adopting a different means of resolving the problem. It’s not going to go away just by increasing Police numbers or arming them all. You could double their numbers but in itself that won’t prevent another attack.

Credit to Jeremy Corbyn

Credit where credit’s due to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. From being 20 points behind on 18th April 2017 when May called the surprise General Election, Labour closed the gap to 8% with the Tory’s achieving 318 MPs (48% of 650 MPs) to Labour’s 262 MPs (40%). That’s hugely impressive and to his and his party’s credit. It shows the power of sticking to your beliefs, trusting in yourself and your values. The victory over his critics internally and externally has been total, decisive and must be personally immensely satisfying for Corbyn.

He has silenced his critics and had them eating humble power. Ergo Arsene Wenger facing a season long, longer actually, campaign to oust him from Arsenal, but he toughs it out and for the 3rd time in 4 seasons wins the second most important trophy in English football, the FA Cup. Not bad for a leader seen as unfit to run his club. If these guys can tough it out through the brickbats for so long, so too can May survive the alleged, media driven let’s be clear, turmoil swirling around her position and authority to carry on.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. After Manchester & London Bridge Can We Do More to Combat Islamic Extremism and Knife Crime? Is it a Black and White Issue? – 11.06.17
  2. Brexit Fall Out – Who’s Laughing Now? – 29.06.16
  3. How Did Corbyn Get Away With Wearing The S Word? – 24.09.16
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After Manchester & London Bridge Can We Do More to Combat Islamic Extremism and Knife Crime?

What Price a White life over a Black life? What price a man’s life?

#Men’s Lives Matter #Black Lives Matter

Aside from trying to figure out what kind of madness would make a man commit such heinous crimes and take away so many innocent lives, including putting their own at risk of certain death, the media, Government and Police response to recent events in Manchester and London, has made me question the value we put on men, boys and Black lives.

The answer’s quite apparent to me. Greater value is placed on a white and female life than those of men and boys, even less if they’re Black boys and men.

As we know 22 people were tragically killed at the Manchester Arena Ariana Grande concert on 22nd May 2017. 59 people were seriously injured. Many still remain in hospital being treated for their injuries. Last Saturday night history repeated itself with 7 people killed by three terrorists wreaking inhumane havoc, reportedly (and utterly misleadingly if they believe it) “in the name of Allah” on London Bridge and Borough Market in the heart of London. This had echoes of the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017.

It’s sickening and my thoughts go out to the dead, the injured and their bereaved families and friends. Just as awful are the deaths of 31+ innocent young men in London and across England in the first 6 months of this year. 19+ of these were a result of knife crime. Hundreds more have suffered non-fatal knife injuries. In previous years they would have died but the development of trauma centres of expertise in the capital, over familiarity with knife wounds has resulted in improved skills of NHS surgeons and doctors and therefore the capability to save people from what previously would have been fatal wounds.

Whilst many knife attacks, especially the fatal ones, garner a fair amount of media coverage, none of it compares to the mass, sustained coverage that Manchester and London Bridge has received and will continue to over the coming days and fortnight. It will be relentless, unlike the coverage of knife attacks.

One thing that is apparent is the racial and gender profile of those attacked. The 22 killed in Manchester were all white and predominantly female. 17 women and girls. 5 men.

Manchester Arena victims 22 May 2017

In London the majority of the knife crime victims were male and Black. Approximately 31 people have been killed so far in 2017. 30 of them men and boys. Last year 61 people were stabbed to death in London alone.

It’s ironic then that Manchester’s had so much focus especially when you look at the response to Borough Market when so many brave men stood up at risk of personal injury, which most suffered and survived, to selflessly protect others. Men get a bad rap a lot of the time and of course it is sadly men committing most of these knife crimes and terrorism, but on this occasion let’s hear salute the many brave ordinary men who stood up and fought the terrorists last Saturday night.

Response

The almost immediate Government response to Manchester was firstly to convene a Cobra meeting of the Cabinet, then raise the threat level to the highest ‘Critical’, then lower it back to ‘severe’. We quickly saw the army on the streets of London, patrolling side by side with armed police in a show of military strength. Less than two weeks later the futility of that ‘after the horse has bolted’ approach was brutally and violently exposed with the attack on London Bridge by a van ploughing through pedestrians and three armed knife men running amok through Borough market in Central London.

Solutions

I’ve said it before [Armed Police Can’t Stop Attacks, Evening Standard 22.08.16] and I’ll say it again, you could double Police number’s, arm them all if you like, put soldiers on the streets of the capital and right across England but it’s not going to prevent another attack ever happening again. This Islamic rooted extremist terrorism is not based upon a traditional foe, an army that we can locate and bomb to smithereens. The lone wolf or wolves are clearly unpredictable and virtually impossible to stop in their tracks without legitimate reason. That means other solutions are required. Namely understanding and tackling the root cause of extremism. It’s all well and good the Government having a go at social media sites, but they are not to blame. They are just the tool by which some extremism is voiced. If it wasn’t through that, it would be via email, text or verbal conversations. It means talking to people, educating young people; infiltrating Mosques and elsewhere where extremists and those with potential to become radicalised hang out. For sure there’s a role for Social media giants here but so too for the users. No one company can be expected to monitor and act upon the millions of posts made across social media each day. Users of these sites also have a role to report posts and individuals of concern.

Armed Metropolitan Police

Some commentators say the cuts in the Police force numbers have partly facilitated the opportunity for recent attacks. However you could treble Police numbers and quadruple the Police budget but it wouldn’t necessarily of itself prevent further attacks. In fact the new Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has said they Police have enough funding, so that closes that argument down.

In the light of the need to find savings society as a whole has to be the eyes and ears of the authorities. Vigilant as they go about their everyday business to what’s going on around them and reporting anything suspicious. There are around 70 million people living in the UK. The Police can’t possibly monitor everyone of us, or every possible suspect, but if everyone stays vigilant and alert we increase the chances of uncovering, reporting and rooting out extremists.

Christian solutions

The country needs to stop running away from its core Christian values return to them. Fast. We’re currently lead by a daughter of a vicar, Theresa May. We have a Green party leader Tim Farron, a known Christian who seems to be all too keen to keep his beliefs and core spiritual values hidden. I would say that the Christian values he and the Prime Minister Theresa May share (as well as the DUP) are the values that need to be emphasised and promoted in order to help keep our nation safe and secure. They should not be hidden. They are nothing to be embarrassed about. It is the first responsibility of a Prime Minister to keep their citizens safe and to be fair on the whole our Government, Police and security forces do keep us safe, but there can be a perception at times like this, that more could be done to prevent the atrocities we’ve seen, be it terrorist attacks or random knife attacks on individuals.

Allied to this, there is a vital role for the church, for people of faith generally, whatever faith that might be to reach out and preach a message of love and Christian, faith values to an audience beyond their congregation. Literally and figuratively there is no point solely preaching to the converted! The church and its followers need to spread the word outside of their Christian circles.

The removal of Christian, faith based religious school assemblies hasn’t helped. If you want young people to grow up with good, decent values then perhaps schools could review their policies on assemblies.

Foreign Policy

Foreign policy needs reviewing too. The Government can’t revoke past military interventions, but it could revisit its current approach to foreign interventions and how it may well have exacerbated tensions and fired up Islamic extremists.

Local Authorities

Can Local authorities do more to create more amenable environments for young people? Give the young something positive to do. Somewhere safe and fun to go to. The closure of youth centres hasn’t helped over recent years. Can local council’s look at the general environment to make areas more pleasant places to live, work, play, shop and socialise in? If you look around a big city like London, there are beautiful boroughs, wealthier boroughs with relatively low crime rates, as well as poorer borough’s that are less attractive places to live in, but despite such disparities that doesn’t mean more can’t be done to instill a sense of pride in an area, make it a nicer place to reside in and visit.

On an individual level, more people need to consider stepping up to see what they can do. Be that mentoring, volunteering, engaging with young people, so that they know they are loved, know right from wrong and have good values instilled in them.

Whether you’re killed in a terrorist attack or one of the random London knife crimes the effect is the same and I doubt the poor victims are distinguishing between the two, but what they want and deserve is a better response and better, more realistic solutions put forward to help prevent others suffering their fate.

Regardless of whether we agree with the potential solutions suggested here, you have to wonder why the response is so disproportionate between Manchester, London Bridge and the more regular knife attacks going on in London and all over the country? Was it because mainly white women and girls were killed in Manchester, but “only” Black men, predominantly, in London? Does society, the Government and Police care more about young white girls and women than young Black boys and men? When you look at the images of those killed the coverage and response from the authorities is quite stark.

Fundraising Appeals

Furthermore and astonishing £10+ million has been raised for the Manchester attack. Whilst that’s great I have to ask what on earth is it for? This includes £2m from the Arianne Grande ‘OneLoveManchester’ concert. I understand it’s for the families of the bereaved. The Manchester Emergency Fund site states, “The fund will make payments to help families who are in need – including those who are faced with funeral costs and individuals who may have suffered life limiting injuries. The fund has been established after countless people, from Manchester and from around the world, expressed their desire to help.”

Fine, but let’s look at who’s been killed. 10 were children. They weren’t working. They were not the breadwinners for the family. So other than support with funeral costs what financial loss have they or their families suffered? 12 were adults of working age. Great to help them, but this is Manchester, not the Philippines or Jamaica. People have pensions and life assurance here. It’s their job to pay out to the bereaved, not Joe Public’s. At this rate everyone bereaved or injured will be millionaires. Unless they were that rich, this is hardly a sum that just gets them back on their feet as per the stated intention. I think more transparency is needed over this. I understand that sums in excess of that required will go back to the Red Cross for further victims of terrorists attacks so in that sense it’s great to know that others may benefit in future from the UK’s and world’s generosity in supporting this fundraising campaign.

Divided Britain

The media likes to report that tragedies like Manchester and London Bridge, along with major concerts like the ‘OneLoveManchester’ show on Sunday night, unite a nation. Really? Did you see the 50,000 crowd packed into the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground? It didn’t look very diverse to me. I spotted less than 10. A mere handful of Black and Asian faces in the crowd. There were more Black people performing on the stage at any one time (and not many at that) than in the audience! Some might say that the artists lacked appeal to Black and Asian’s but that’s missing the point. I thought the idea was for the people of Manchester to unite in celebration of life and music, as well as fundraise for the victims. Whether Arianna Grande, Justin Bieber or Coldplay are you cup of tea or not somewhat missed the point.

It actually highlighted what we all know that at the end of the day. Different cultures don’t mix socially. White people prefer to mix with white, Asian’s mix with Asians and Black people prefer to socialise with fellow Black people. You see that everywhere. That’s just the way it goes. That’s not going to change anytime soon, but perhaps it needs to if we’re to understand one another better, remove any prejudices and basically get along better. In that case maybe the line up needed to be more racially diverse and inclusive?

Conclusion

The Prime Minister Theresa May said after the London Bridge attack that “enough is enough” but we’ve heard that before so many times from others after terrorism or knive attacks. I even wrote an article with that very title 2 years ago. A more joined up, revitalised approach is urgently required to tackle Islamic extremism, try and prevent or at the very least seriously reduce the chances of further terrorist attacks as well as strive to reduce the localised, individualised knife crime, that is no less dangerous and murderous, in our country.

We (Government and individuals) need to come up with solutions that are not just military, scaremongering ones. Those one’s have not worked. As we enter men’s health week (12-18 June 2017) and approach Father’s Day next Sunday 18th June 2017, society needs to care more for and recognise that men’s lives and black lives matter just as much as white men and women’s and if we do so, perhaps we’ll come up with actual, workable solutions.

“All you need is love” sang the Beatles famously 50 years ago this month. The sentiments are poignant and ever relevant. Our country, our world in fact, could do with a little more love and a lot less hate.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

#MensLivesMatter
#BlackLivesMatter

Links

  1. Armed Police Can’t Stop Attacks – Tiemo Talk of the Town writing in Evening Standard – 08.08.16
  2. Standing up to Knife Crime –  Fundraising Comedy Show – 19.10.15
  3. The Cross and the Switchblade – Book review – 17.02.15
  4. Enough is Enough – 03.02.15
  5. Remembrance Sunday – Is it a Load of Poppycock? – 09.11.14
  6. Are men in Crisis? – 25.09.15.
  7. Men’s Health Week 2017 – Men’s Health Forum
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