Jay Richardson

Freelance journalist writing on comedy and the arts. Credits include Scotsman, Herald, Guardian, Independent, Sunday Times, Irish Times, Metro, Channel 4, Daily Record, Big Issue, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald, Chortle. Regular contributor to The Comedy Cafe on BBC Radio Scotland.

Axe Rhod Gilbert

Ask Rhod Gilbert has been axed by the BBC. Gilbert revealed the news in a podcast interview, in which he also suggested that he may quit stand-up to become a primary school teacher. The comic did not seem particularly fazed by the cancellation of the BBC One panel show, which also featured Greg Davies and Lloyd Langford, following its second series in 2011. ‘They’ve canned [Ask Rhod Gilbert]’ he said during on Stuart Goldsmith’s Comedian’s Comedian podcast recorded at the Edinburgh Fringe but only now released online. ‘I think panel shows are really hard and some of them are brutal experiences. You feel like you’ve been sodomised after them.’ He rejected the suggestion that stand-ups are ‘coasting’ by appearing on them, adding, ‘when I did something like Mock The Week … I don’t like it. It’s not me, I don’t write topical stuff, I don’t especially like the environment. ‘If you get 80 pages of notes two or three days before a show and you’ve got to try to write gags about things you’re not especially bothered about, it’s enough to just wade through the notes they’ve given us, without trying to write top-notch material about stuff. Coasting? My God, no. Absolutely not, it’s panic stations for a lot of them.’ Gilbert also revealed that he’s working on a new TV project with Davies for this year but didn’t say more. His management confirmed that it’s ‘still early stages and there is nothing concrete’. Independently, he is also writing a sitcom. Reiterating how stressful he finds comedy and his ‘obsession’ with it, Gilbert also disclosed that he’s considered becoming a teacher, after trying the job for three days at Monnow Primary School near Newport, as part of his BBC One Wales series Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience. ‘I just fell in love with it totally, to the point where I thought maybe there’s a change of career coming up’ he said. ‘I think you can get out of it, you can escape [comedy]. But ‘I know that if I go and teach, I could be just as obsessive about that and just as workaholic and throw myself into that.’ Filming on a fourth series of Work Experience begins next month His management stressed that Gilbert has no plans to retire from stand-up in the ‘near future’. But he has pledged to return to the school, telling the Times Educational Supplement last year that ‘many teachers I know are tired, stressed, downtrodden, poorly rewarded, overworked, over-examined and league-tabled to within an inch of their lives. ‘All teachers should have government-funded personal masseuses, drivers and personal assistants to massage their shoulders on the way to school, rub their feet and grant them sexual favours … The rest of us should be doing this ... or, at least, the rest of us in society who are paid pointlessly large sums of money for doing sod all.’ Both Ask Rhod Gilbert and Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience have provoked controversy for their perceived similarities to the Irish programmes Great Unanswered Questions and Des Bishop’s Work Experience. - by Jay Richardson

Luke Wright: Mondeo Man review

Performance poet Luke Wright’s Cynical Ballads was an unquestioned highlight of the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe, earning gushing reviews for his witty, unsparing view of modern England. Several pieces from that show are reproduced here in his debut poetry collection, happily losing little without his cocky, assured delivery. Some, such as ‘The Ballad of Chris & Ann’s Fish Bar’, benefit greatly from the chance to linger over their tender, pathetic humour, a clear-sighted examination of an unexamined relationship sadly eroding. For although Wright’s sprightly verse drips with cynical disdain for Tories, outraged tabloidese and the weekend excesses of a feckless working-class, there’s a rich strain of empathy coursing through his work, albeit one brutally evidenced in ‘The Ballad of Raoul Moat’. More Crappy Albion than Broken Britain, Wright finds elements to celebrate and indulge in the demonised aspects of our culture, rarely going too long without belittling his own status as a show-off, stay-at-home dad.

The Look of Love review

‘We’ve got dolphins pulling knickers off girls, what’s not to like?’ demands Steve Coogan at one point during The Look of Love, an affectionate biopic of the late porn and nightclub impresario Paul Raymond. And that’s the film in a nutshell. Blizzards of cocaine, escalating orgies and naked girls cavorting with animals. So why is everyone so depressed? Reuniting Coogan with director Michael Winterbottom for the fourth time after 24 Hour Party People, A Cock and Bull Story and The Trip, the film contains a similar alchemy of comedy and tragedy, taking plenty of liberties with the events of Raymond’s life for a tender portrayal of the millionaire dubbed The King of Soho. Roguishly charming, egotistically fragile, and with an eye for the ladies and fast cars, Coogan relishes playing up to Raymond’s notoriety, with more than a nod and a wink to his own. Yet The Look of Love also calls upon him to deliver his most vulnerable performance to date. There’s sympathy and warmth in this tale of sleaze, excess and self-destruction. A compulsive self-mythologiser, born Geoffrey Anthony Quinn, Raymond is fond of telling everyone how he arrived in London a boy from Liverpool with ‘just five bob in his pocket’, and gamely rolls with the punches of censorship and press outrage. He twists the most damning reviews of his nude revues and flesh-exposing farces into positive quotes for his posters, hailing the divorce settlement for his second wife and choreographer Jean (Anna Friel) as the biggest in UK legal history. The pair’s marriage is shown to be open from the start, with Raymond mixing business with the pleasure of his dancers, all the while maintaining a respectable family life and huge pile in the country. Yet when he transfer his affections to the beautiful Fiona (Tamsin Egerton), you get the first inklings that he may have difficulty reconciling love with his insatiable sex drive, which he reinforces with a glamorous nightlife and growing drug intake. There’s several hints that he may be a sex addict and the real love of his life emerges as his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots), determined to follow him into showbusiness. With a predictable but spot-on soundtrack, the freedom of Twentieth Century Boy giving way to You Sexy Thing as lively parties become grasping orgies, before the comedown of Tainted Love, Winterbottom ably captures London’s swinging sexual revolution turning into something more cynical and exploitative. Playing against type, a bearded Chris Addison is cheerily loathsome as Tony Power, the streetwise, forward-thinking editor of Men Only, coercing an eager Paul and Debbie into his degenerate orbit. Friel and Egerton are excellent as the long-suffering partners who can’t live with, or completely without, the fun-loving Raymond. And Coogan is never less than watchable, whether delivering an hilarious Marlon Brando impression or stiltedly failing to engage with Raymond’s estranged son. Featuring cameos from the likes of Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas and Sarah Solemani, there are also more substantial roles for David Walliams as Soho’s notoriously open-minded Reverend Edwyn Young and Dara O’Briain as a cheeky stand-up biting the hand that feeds him, during the opening night of The Comic Strip in the Raymond Revuebar. Watching on, he suffers the Irishman’s backhanded compliment with the tautest of rictus grins. Simon Bird also pops up as Debbie’s jingle-writing husband Jonathan Hodge, an inoffensive geek joining a dysfunctional dynasty. Throughout, Winterbottom never really challenges Raymond’s assertion that he’s not just a pornographer. And though he captures Soho in all its seedy glory, with acres of naked flesh and merkins on display, the film lacks soul. It obviously has pretensions to a morality tale, of a Midas touch turned to powder. Yet Raymond’s descent into darkness never quite feels universal enough to totally engage.

Wayne Mazadza interview

Wayne Mazadza writes routines to surprise his fellow comedians, ‘with unpredictable punchlines, storylines with surreal endings that really bring justice to the set-up’. Fine-tuning them for up to six months, the Harare-born, Edinburgh-based comic doesn’t just want audiences to ‘laugh for a little bit, I want real clappers. I’m trying to make people remember me. I’m not just doing a gig for the sake of a gig.’ What makes his dedication so striking is that the 22-year-old Zimbabwean has only been performing since August 2011. Yet he’s already bringing Adopted, a debut hour-long show, to the Glasgow International Comedy Festival. ‘It’s ambitious, to be honest,’ he admits. ‘But then I wanted to do it last year’. A graduate of The Stand’s stand-up course, taught by Susan Morrison, he was inspired after witnessing Tom Stade, a regular at the club, on television. ‘He’s just so comfortable on stage,’ he says admiringly of the laid-back, naturally-gifted Canadian. In his fledgling career, Mazadza has already reached the final of the Scottish Comedian of the Year and Laughing Horse New Act contests, while he took third place in the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny competition. ‘They’re good for quotes and publicity but so, so nerve-wracking,’ he says of these necessary evils. Alongside Stade, he cites other internationally successful acts like South African Trevor Noah and Americans Louis CK and Kevin Hart as idols. ‘I feel [Hart] is like me in a way, he came from nowhere. Now people just love him.’ About to start a course on filmmaking, which he’s ‘fallen in love with’, he’s currently forsaken material about growing up black in Scotland, having lived here for 13 years with his parents and nine apart from them with his younger brother. ‘It seems too easy, just trading on stereotypes,’ he argues. ‘I wasn’t satisfied with what I was writing and it felt like I was cheating. I just want to write about dogs or something normal.’ He maintains that he finds it ‘hard performing for black people’, but that he’s ‘trying to come up with some African-friendly material’ that he might one day perform in Zimbabwe. ‘I’ve never used Robert Mugabe for a routine because it’s hard to think of material on him for some reason. Like George W Bush, I obviously want him out of the picture as quickly as possible. Just hopefully not before I’ve got a really good punchline.’ Wayne Mazadza: Adopted, The Art School Union, Glasgow, Thu 28 Mar.

Sanderson Jones brings his atheist church services to Glasgow

Sanderson Jones is one of stand-up’s great innovators, an irrepressible ideas man. Over a predictably faltering Skype connection, the strikingly tall, bearded, sometime face of the IKEA ads, admits to occasional gremlins during a tech-comedy gig the night before. Jones is also currently developing his own app for Facebook to better engage with audiences. He can’t divulge any more though, as ‘it’s very much in the beta stage’. This has been a busy month for a comedian whose tinkering with temperamental technology and commitment to a routine about civil liberties used to provoke police interest, but which lately has seen him debate religion in The New York Times. What began as a discussion with fellow comic Pippa Evans en route to a gig, about reconciling their enjoyment of ritual, music and church architecture with their lack of religious faith, has become the Sunday Assembly, prompting a flurry of column inches on the merits of atheism. Their services – featuring scientific lectures on life’s wonders, comedy, cups of tea and singalongs of ‘Superstition’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ – have been packed. More than 130 people have been in touch about launching assemblies elsewhere in the UK, and there are plans to mobilise this congregation of the godless, in a manner reminiscent of Dundonian novelist and comedy producer Danny Wallace’s Karma Army. ‘We’re talking to people about getting charitable status and we absolutely want to get organised and are striving to help others,’ Jones explains. ‘We’re just trying to work out how to expand so that people have a sense of freedom while we retain a degree of control from the centre. We can’t have a Sunday Assembly somewhere endorsing child sacrifice.’ Currently seeking a Glasgow church for Easter Sunday to host the first assembly outside of London, Jones is also planning two performances of his ingenious Comedy Sale. Selling each ticket by hand, with no phone or internet purchases and each show specifically tailored to those audience members he meets on the street, the Anglo-Scot and former salesman is hoping to encounter all kinds of punters when he arrives a week early to drum up trade. Featuring such delights as a ‘Cock Hunter’ trawl through Chatroulette, the show has already sold out in London, Sydney and Edinburgh. You can have Jones deliver a ticket to you direct by contacting him via Twitter or at the Comedy Sale website.

Vic And Bob shoot BBC sitcom

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are shooting a new sitcom for the BBC. Currently known only by the working title The Vic And Bob Sitcom, the pilot episode will be recorded at BBC Television Centre next month. The script is still being finalised but the cast will include Reeves and Mortimer’s Shooting Stars sidekick Dan Renton Skinner aka Angelos Epithemiou as well as Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson and Pramface’s Dylan Edwards. It will also feature Norwegian stand-up Daniel Simonsen, last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award best newcomer, in his first acting role in the UK. Mortimer leaked the cast details in a Tweet which began: ‘Today rehearse new sitcom “Fuck This House” …’ The message was subsequently deleted. Unsurprisingly, the BBC say that will not be the title the show will go under. A spokeswoman couldn’t reveal whether it is in any way inspired by ITV’s 1970s sitcom Bless This House, starring Sid James and Diana Coupland as parents struggling to understand their offspring. Last year, Reeves said he felt unwanted by the BBC after they cancelled Shooting Stars. Before he and Bob debuted the pilot panel show Lucky Sexy Winners on Channel 4, Reeves said: ‘I didn't think we were required at the BBC any more so that's why we decided to go elsewhere. ‘Shooting Stars is getting on for 20 years old so it was probably a good thing the BBC didn't want it anymore. We can go on to be more creative.’ Reeves recently appeared in BBC Two’s Hebburn, written by Jason Cook and Graham Duff, and can currently be seen in the CBBC sketch show Ministry Of Curious Stuff. His last venture into sitcom with Mortimer was 2004’s BBC Three series Catterick, which also featured Charlie Higson, Morwenna Banks, Reece Shearsmith, Matt Lucas and Tim Healy. The pair planned to revive some of the Catterick characters in a live tour last year but that never transpired. Another clue as to the sitcom’s theme may lie in a film project Reeves and Mortimer were said to be developing last year. Reeves said: ‘It's probably going to be about a hotel and some people trying to make a hotel work.’ ‘It’s going to be nothing like Fawlty Towers, it's going to be more like a Mike Leigh film.’ Their pilot will be one of the final recordings at BBC Television Centre before the West London site undergoes a £200million redevelopment to include a hotel, flats and offices. -by Jay Richardson

Milton Jones On The Road - Live Review

LONG established as a live circuit favourite and on Radio 4, Milton Jones’s spots on Mock The Week, where his surreal interjections and colourful wardrobe set him apart, have brought him to a much wider audience. * * * But sustaining that level of expectation and incessantly touring demand, especially in a conference centre venue, is tricky for a one-liner comic. Even the uninitiated can struggle to retain interest in the regimented gag-gag-gag rhythm of a 90-minute set. Appreciating this, Jones, as ever, mixed it up a bit. Prior to support act Chris Martin, he whizzed on stage riding an electric scooter, in the guise of his grandfather. The performance was relatively short, the character slight, a more doddery version of Jones’s usual metier with a few choice lines about fighting in the war. Elsewhere, he incorporated a few visual setups with the lo-fi aid of a projector and rudimentary stick men drawings. Generally though, this was simply characteristic, occasionally classic Jones, an endless cavalcade of silly, leftfield jokes, invariably more inventive than they initially appeared. Ad-libbing banter with the crowd isn’t his forte, yet he more than held his own this evening. Despite having a little gentle, teasing fun with the Edinburgh-Glasgow rivalry, a song derived from it was underwhelming. Regardless, he successfully countered any and all resistance, justifiably saying with confidence of his best material: “You’ll be telling it tomorrow!”

Adam Riches to play Andy Warhol

Here is character comedian Adam Riches in an unlikely new role – as pop art pioneer Andy Warhol. The 2011 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner is to star in the new play A Thousand Miles of History which explores Warhol’s friendship with fellow New York artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring in the Eighties. Speaking to Fred MacAulay on BBC Radio Scotland, Riches described the role as ‘a bit of a head-turner’ and ‘a complete sidestep from what I’ve been doing. I just fancied doing something where I wasn’t the lead singer on an album, being part of an ensemble. ‘It is nice to be back in a rehearsal room and struggling with a character I’m nothing like whatsoever.’ The play, which opens on March 4 at The Busey Building in Peckham is a co-production between London’s Soho Theatre and Lincoln Centre Theatre in New York. It traces the transition of Basquiat (played by Michael Walters) and Haring (Simon Ginty) from street artists to international art icons under Warhol’s influence. Writer and director Harold Finley told The Independent: ‘Warhol is the Big Bang. We’re still trying to understand his influence. We were rehearsing a scene set in the Whitney Museum this morning and were rolling with laughter. People will recognise Warhol but they will be stunned by what [Riches is] doing with the part.’ Warhol appreciated comedy, producing the 1977 film, Andy Warhol’s Bad, starring Carroll Baker as a hairdresser who runs a beauty salon in her house and makes extra money by providing hitmen with jobs. Previous actors to have played the enigmatic artist include David Bowie, Hank Azaria in The Simpsons, Guy Pearce (twice), Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader in Men In Black III and Tom Meeten in Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. Riches – whose series The Guns of Adam Riches is currently airing on Radio 4 – also admitted to MacAulay that he lied about his grades and experience to get into studying acting at Salford University.

City Lights writer on new show Maldinis

Attracting four million viewers at its peak, City Lights was the first sitcom to portray a recognisably modern Scotland. Running for six series between 1985 and 1991, and UK-wide on the BBC from 1987, it starred the late Gerard Kelly, as Willy Melvin, a workshy Glaswegian bank teller with aspirations to be a great novelist but little discernible talent. Spawning two stage adaptations, popularising the phrase “pure dead brilliant” and featuring Billy Connolly as the guardian angel Boaby in a Christmas special, City Lights is still warmly remembered, despite last being shown on television in 1998. Following Kelly’s death of a brain aneurysm in 2010, it seemed an opportune time finally to release the series on DVD. Yet despite a Facebook campaign, fans have been left to make do with bootleg discs or grainy, VHS-taped episodes on YouTube. Surely an official release is long overdue? “It’s been a big disappointment,” admits writer Bob Black. “It’s just circumstance. City Lights was of the era before video and DVD broke big. DVD would have given it much greater longevity.” Black, who also wrote for Scotch & Wry and Naked Video, is best known these days for penning the hugely successful pantomimes at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre, which invariably starred Kelly until his passing. Of City Lights – which also included Jonathan Watson, Dave Anderson, Jan Wilson, Andy Gray and Elaine C Smith in the cast – he maintains that “Paul [Kelly’s real name] had enormous likeability, he was very fondly thought of. “But you could say that about the whole cast. It seemed to find a place in the national psyche and it’s gratifying when I hear people still talking about it. It sounds twee but people could trust it, families watched it together. As one of the first Scottish-based comedies with Scottish accents and very visible Scottish actors, it made an impression. I also knew that the truer it was to its locale, the more universal it would be.” Now, he’s hoping for a similar reaction to Maldinis, his first sitcom writing for 18 years (cast pictured left). Starring Watson as Gino Maldini, patriarch of a café in a seaside town, with Dawn Steele as his put-upon daughter Anna, the BBC Radio Scotland pilot was inspired less by the famous Nardini clan, than Black’s own childhood trips to Rothesay and Largs, and his wife Antonia’s Scots-Italian family. “It was that feeling of belonging I got from Friday nights at her parents’ house” he explains. “Everyone talking and everyone listening at the same time, that crescendo of voices. “There’s a generational clash in Maldinis, with each feeling their Italianess a little bit less, manifesting itself in them being less interested in working in the café. The two threads of the family business and existing in the family are in constant friction.” He acknowledges that his absence from sitcoms hasn’t been deliberate and that he’s continually sending out script proposals. He’s begun to think of Willie, the frustrated writer manqué, as “perversely based on myself, my antithesis – very loud, very outgoing, supremely confident in his own ability with very little justification. “Yet it doesn’t matter how many blows he takes, he always comes back for more.” • Maldinis is on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday, 20 February.

It's Twitter, the board game

Stand-up Rob Delaney is to launch a board game based on his tweets. The American announced the ‘filthy’ War of Words on Twitter, naturally enough, where he has more than 750,000 followers. The game is out in May but available to pre-order now, and is the latest and perhaps most intriguing attempt by a comedian to make money from their social media influence. It is being manufacturer by All Things Equal, a company that has already adapted the popular website Awkward Family Photos into a board game War of Words – which will be officially launched at the New York Toy Fair next week – challenges players to test their knowledge of more than 500 of Delaney’s ‘most entertaining’ tweets, by filling in the Blanks or answering other questions based on the 140-character messages. One example depicted on the back of the box, is completing the phrase: ‘Things aren’t going well. I just said “I love you” to...’ Delaney’s original tweet ended ‘...a bottle of lotion.’ Amazon’s description of the game, which also includes a board, voting chips, an answer pad and a die, maintains that ‘no knowledge of Twitter is required’ and warns that it ‘contains naughty words’. Delaney said: ‘I’ve been an avid board game player my whole life. Even though I’m a comedian, some of the loudest laughs I’ve ever heard or emitted myself have happened while playing games with family and friends.’ Eric Poses, president of All Things Equal, added: ‘Rob’s unique brand of wit and humour provides the perfect foundation for a fun adult party game.’ Last year, Delaney was named Funniest Person on Twitter by Comedy Central. And when he made his UK stand-up debut in October, he sold out his entire week-long run at the Soho Theatre in an hour to followers. Delaney returns to Europe soon, performing at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London on April 13 and at Vicar Street in Dublin the following night. Several comedians, such as Peter Serafinowicz, have compiled joke books from their tweets, while funny corporate Twitter accounts like Betfair Poker and Arena Flowers employ anonymous humourists to attract followers to their brand. - by Jay Richardson

Cut! - Doon Mackichan to star in improvised hairdressing sitcom

Smack The Pony’s Doon Mackichan is to star in a semi-improvised hairdressing comedy for BBC Four. Currently shooting in the London suburb of South Ruislip, where it is set, Quick Cuts is described as ‘a sitcom crossed with a sketch show’. A scripted, sitcom element traces the staff’s lives, but their interactions with customers are short, partly improvised sketches. A camera acts as the salon’s mirror, with the shop environment described as ‘one big dysfunctional co-dependent family’. Mackichan plays Sue, the salon’s owner, with Paul Reynolds as her ‘dodgy’ boyfriend Trevor. Jessica Gunning, O.T. Fagbenle and Jane Dowden, who plays a male to female transsexual, are the ‘bad, screwed up, unreliable or dishonest’ stylists. Dowden’s character Marianne is thought to have been conceived before the BBC launched its drive to include more transgender characters in its programming. According to producer Catherine Bailey, the show’s script employs a similar process of workshops and improvisation to The Thick Of It, with the ‘sitcom very much structured and written but with some of the customer scenes, involving a big cast of cameos, improvised’. Both writer Georgia Pritchett, whose credits include Smack The Pony and Miranda, and director Natalie Bailey have previously worked on the political comedy. As with The Thick Of It, and Jo Brand’s hospital sitcom Getting On, Quick Cuts will initially run for three 30 minute episodes on BBC Four, with an option for more to be commissioned. Filming wraps by the end of next month. but no broadcast date has been set. - by Jay Richardson

Eric Idle set to shun another Python reunion

The Monty Python ‘reunion’ film, Absolutely Anything, begins filming in the UK this spring. John Cleese, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam will join director Terry Jones in voicing a group of aliens who endow a human being with the power to do ‘absolutely anything’ trade magazine Variety reports. The science fiction comedy mixes live action with CGI effects. Eric Idle is still being sought by producers but his involvement seems unlikely. Yesterday, when asked about his unwillingness to appear alongside all the former Pythons in A Liar’s Autobiography, the 3D animated film based on the late Graham Chapman’s memoirs, he tweeted: ‘Not written by Python, just passing off as a Python movie...’ and ‘Python is about writing. Three or four doing a few minutes voiceover doesn't make it Python’. Absolutely Anything also features Robin Williams, voicing a talking dog named Dennis who seems to understand more about the ensuing mayhem than anyone else. Williams is also being lined up to play a Frenchman according to producer Mike Medavoy, who also made Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Benedict Cumberbatch and Gemma Arterton have been linked to the film, which is based on a script developed by Jones and Gavin Scott over the past two decades. Stand-up John Oliver was mentioned as the lead when it was first announced in 2010, but Chortle understands that Oliver is no longer involved. Medavoy told Variety: ‘Terry and Gavin have crafted a classic farce - something I feel I know a little bit about after all the Pink Panther pictures we did with Blake Edwards at United Artists. In fact, the movie even has a pompous Frenchman reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau - but there the similarity ends. Like all projects originated by any of the Monty Python guys, Absolutely Anything delightfully defies a logline.’ Spamalot creator Idle also revealed yesterday how he had plans for another Python movie as recently as 1997, a sequel to The Holy Grail, set during the Crusades and featuring Salman Rushdie. Writing on his blog, he outlined several potential scenes, explaining: ‘In 1997 I came up with an idea for a Python movie. I went to visit John in Santa Barbara and he seemed genuinely OK with the idea of doing another Python movie, and everyone seemed interested, enough to suggest we get together, but by the time we all assembled at a hotel in Buckinghamshire to discuss it he had changed his mind.’ The five remaining Pythons last appeared together in 1998 at the Aspen Comedy Festival along with an urn that allegedly contained Chapman’s ashes. - by Jay Richardson

Well done them - Trodd en Bratt land Radio 4 series based on their Free Edinburgh show

Ruth Bratt and Lucy Trodd have landed a Radio 4 series based on their 2012 Edinburgh Free Festival show. Comedian Bratt and actress Trodd are currently writing and testing additional sketch material for Well Done You, which will be recorded in October, and air in 2014. The four 30-minute episodes will likely broadcast in an 11pm slot, ‘which is great as we can be a bit darker and a bit more absurd’ says Bratt. Performing as Trodd en Bratt, with ‘the conceit that I’m the jaded comedian and she’s the serious luvvie’, they credit the late comedian and playwright Ken Campbell for introducing them as part of The Showstoppers improv troupe, ‘we’ve got to thank him for everything really’. The pair will return to the Fringe next year as ‘we’ll have the radio show behind us, that should make Edinburgh easier to sell. We had a great time this year and getting a commission without losing our limbs financially was everything we wanted the Free Fringe to be.’ Well Done You is produced by Ben Worsfield for Lucky Giant, the comedy arm of NBC Universal International, which is also making Family Tree, the improvised Christopher Guest TV comedy about genealogy starring Chris O'Dowd. The Showstoppers are currently on a UK tour and start a four-week residency at the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room on Monday. Bratt can currently be seen in Ricky Gervais’ comedy-drama Derek on Channel 4 and alongside Vic Reeves in the second series of CBBC’s sketch show The Ministry of Curious Stuff, which started today. -by Jay Richardson

Minchin's anger over Superstar Auto-Tune

Tim Minchin has said he was ‘humiliated’ and ‘insulted’ after his singing voice was Auto-Tuned on the DVD of Jesus Christ Superstar. The comic was acclaimed for his role as Judas in the arena tour of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revived musical – but was shocked to discover his voice had been manipulated by computer for the DVD release. Speaking on an American podcast, Minchin said said it was ‘fucking rude’ to be subjected to the technology, which was designed to correct off-key ‘inaccuracies’ in recordings. He told broadcaster Ken Plume: ‘I don’t like that the put an Auto-Tune on my voice. It really pissed me off. It was an absolute surprise.It’s completely bizarre. ‘I’m not deluded about my voice. I know the weaknesses of my voice more than anyone. But I also can hear pitch. I know when I’m out of tune and I’m just not very often out of tune particularly. That’s not my problem. I’ve got problems and that ain’t it … If I wanted to sing bang on the notes, I could choose to do that. ‘As I interpret it, it’s actually worse than Auto-Tune, what they did was change what I sang a bit. Andrew’s got incredible ears. He would have sat there in the editing studio and gone “I just don’t like the way he’s doing that, can we pull that note a semi-tone this way?”’ ‘That death scene, there was no holding back for me … trying to represent such emotional turmoil that you’re going to kill yourself, stumbling up the stage and crying out to God and all this, it’s so awful. It’s such a slap to be tuned. ‘It’s like, “So that was good, I like how you utterly put your guts on the floor there, we’re now going to turn it into a pop song.”’ ‘It’s humiliating... it’s fucking rude, it’s insulting. ‘I’m sounding more outraged than I am. I know that they’re just trying to do a good product but they just got it wrong.’ Minchin added the Auto-Tuning had been ‘a little negative in a largely massively positive experience’. He admitted that he hadn’t raised the issue with composer Sir Andrew, who wrote the show with Tim Rice, but said: ‘Assuming [the DVD] goes to a reprint, I might have to have a little tantrum, I don’t know,’ he said. The 110 minute interview was conducted for the Bit Of A Chat podcast, while Minchin was in New York, preparing for the Broadway run of his musical Matilda, based on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl. In it, he also discussed the musical, his role as a dissolute rock star in the US comedy series Californication and overcoming his insecurities. ‘I’ve always loathed my voice and even more personally my relationship with my body. Judas made me learn to sing a bit and Californication made me lose weight, and suddenly I’m in my late 30s feeling powerful,’ he said. However, Minchin will not return for Californication’s seventh season because of his starring role in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead at the Sydney Theatre in August. Auto-Tune’s use across pop music and television talent shows has become increasingly controversial for its ubiquity and perceived lack of authenticity. In 2009, Time magazine quoted an unnamed Grammy-winning recording engineer as saying: ‘Let's just say I've had Auto-Tune save vocals on everything from Britney Spears to Bollywood cast albums. And every singer now presumes that you'll just run their voice through the box.’ Lloyd Webber’s production company The Really Useful Group, declined to comment on Minchin’s comments.’ Here is an extract from the DVD showing Minchin playing Judas, which he has previously described as his dream role, stating ‘I just love it because it is just pain and rock.’

Channel 4 to air London Irish expat comedy

Channel 4 is making a comedy-drama about four Irish friends living in London. Written by Lisa McGee, pictured, whose credits include BBC Three’s Being Human and Channel 4’s Totally Frank, London Irish begins filming in June. It features the relatively unknown cast of Sinead Keenan (Being Human), Peter Campion, Kerr Logan and Kat Regan, following a successful non-broadcast pilot last year. Produced by Caroline Leddy and Liz Lewin for Company Pictures, which also made Shameless and Skins, the series mirrors Derry-born McGee’s own move to London, after she became a writer on attachment with the Royal National Theatre in 2006. A director is still to be confirmed. McGee’s CV also include the award-winning Irish restaurant drama Raw for RTÉ and forthcoming BBC One War of the Roses serial The White Queen, based on Phillipa Gregory’s series of novels The Cousin’s War. She told the Derry Journal: ‘I’m really happy that Channel 4 have agreed to go with it because I love the way they’ve always been a bit bolder and I’m really looking forward to getting the show out there.’ - by Jay Richardson

Hannibal Buress interview

“I’m like ‘Yo, ninjas kidnapped my family, so I had to learn standup comedy to entertain them in order to get my family back!’” Hannibal Buress chuckles. “Instead of explaining I got into standup through open mic gigs. Because that ain’t going to sell no tickets.” Ever since the smooth but vengefully sarcastic Chicago-born comic fell foul of a college newspaper, which printed that he “was the most popular comedian in [the] price range of $2,000,” making it harder for him to charge more than that in the future, the 29 year-old has endured a relationship of mutual wariness with journalists. This frustrating episode became a withering routine in his debut Edinburgh show and featured in his television special Animal Furnace, though it’s not risking Fest’s reputation to suggest the former Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock writer is pocketing considerably more these days. Securing an Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination and the Rising Comedy Star Award at the Montreal Festival recently, Buress is burnishing a glowing reputation. Nevertheless, faced with the same “goofy” questions journalists tend to fall back on, he hears himself becoming “unfunny and robotic,” so “I switch off the genuineness and start uttering weird shit.” As a measured, low-energy performer, reportedly suffering jet lag and less than enamoured with his Edinburgh accommodation (“the toilet is in a different place to the shower! That’s a horrible fridge! This place cost $2800!”) I’d begun to worry when I was told he was running late for this interview. My concerns deepened when I heard he’d have a documentary crew with him. And would it bother me if they filmed our conversation? I needn’t have stressed. In the US, Buress’ status as The Eric Andre Show’s notional straightman, drily reflecting on his manic co-host’s unpredictable outbursts means he’s at ease in front of a camera, sucking down crisps and explaining that his aim for his new show, Still Saying Stuff, is for it to be “solid… I don’t think I’ve gotten worse, more people should turn up…” He’s also prowling for an Edinburgh girlfriend. Contrary to his low-rev onstage appearance, he’s adopted an ethic of working really hard and gigging constantly from erstwhile mentors Louis C.K. and Chris Rock. Prior to Animal Furnace, the latter instructed “you’re doing a special so make sure it’s special and not regular. You want it quoted by people because it relates to their lives.” After making a documentary in the lead up to recording the show, he realised he hadn’t seen anyone capture the “crazy intensity” of Edinburgh for a US audience. “It’s almost mythical man, there’s no way to show it.” So, this year, a two-man crew are following him all over the festival. "The Fringe definitely makes me a better comic… an opportunity to get this new hour tight.” And a better cook, he muses, notwithstanding that “bullshit mini-fridge.” There’s much greater openness to him than you might imagine. Despite being a 30 Rock writer for just one season—the lure of performing comedy outside New York proving too attractive—he enjoyed a recurring, onscreen cameo as a homeless bum in Tina Fey’s self-referential sitcom. Incredibly, he confirms, he was so committed to succeeding as a standup in his early days in the metropolis that he had spent time sleeping rough rather than sloping back to Chicago. He downplays this bleak period though. “I just didn’t want to apologise to my sister,” he smiles ruefully. “All I had to do was humble myself and apologise for my mistakes and she’d have let me stay. So it doesn’t seem that crazy. Which is crazy. I could have changed that situation with one phonecall.” On a lighter note, answering to Tina Fey as your boss is “strange man. I’m still a fan, I was a fan while I was working there. She wasn’t in the writers’ room often because she was actively running the show. But once a week she’d pop in for 20 minutes. One time, she was sitting next to me, I left, then came back and her phone was on my phone. I was like: ‘Yo! Tina Fey’s phone is touching my phone! Tina Fey’s phone is touching my phone right now man!’ I was 28 years-old.” With more collaboration than SNL, where “40 sketches get submitted for each episode and only nine are used,” 30 Rock was a tough, joke-heavy creative environment. “Sometimes when you’re pitching stuff it’ll take an hour to get a joke right. Other times someone says something, someone else says something on top of that and boom! It’s in the script. If everybody laughs, that’s undeniable. You’ve made a room of top comedy writers laugh.” After being in C.K.’s sitcom Louie he’d love a broadcast vehicle of his own, and is acutely conscious of this at the moment, with a current development deal with Fox and an ongoing project with Hollywood star Jonah Hill. “It’s very much time. I have to figure out what it is, write it up and get a pilot together before my clock ticks out.” Meanwhile, he’ll be keeping tabs on the US basketball team’s shot clock during the Olympics. But as a touring comic, he rarely punches out early, estimating that he only spends 12 days in his current home in Los Angeles at a stretch. With a show in Alabama the night after Edinburgh finishes, “I’ll work till I’m dead man. I got bills to pay and vices to feed!”

David Hasselhoff interview

'THE first time I went to rehab, I got a job. The head of a big US production company was in there. It was great." Is David Hasselhoff the greatest self-promoter on the planet, as his ex-wife alleges? Or will he simply say "yes" to anything? Audiences can find out next month when the US celebrity brings David Hasselhoff Live to the Edinburgh Fringe, an all-singing, all-dancing, interactive "runaway train we call 'From Baywatch to Broadway to Berlin!'" Promising to reveal everything, "an evening with The Hoff" is "very, very intimate. Absolutely nothing's censored." He's "excited", having visited the city before to judge the auditions of Britain's Got Talent and to see his friend, Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills host the Fun and Filth Cabaret last year. And although he won't be allowed to perform atop Edinburgh Castle, he still loves the Festival, despite being unsure what to expect. "I've had mixed reviews," the Baywatch and Knight Rider star reflects. "Some say it's going to be a drunk, crazy, fun audience. But I thought I'd been hired for a more sophisticated, West End-style show. Either way, I'm prepared." His last show was attended by countless Germans and he indulged them with his greatest hits. "We ended up bringing up a Berlin Wall, tearing it down, knocking it into the audience, everyone on stage dancing a limbo, then singing Delilah. They loved it," he enthuses. "The only bad review I got was for dressing up as Hitler." He clarifies: "I'd been Hitler in a Las Vegas production of The Producers. Some people took it out of context." Just turned 60 and a strapping 6ft 4in, Hasselhoff looks fantastic in the flesh, ridiculously so in fact, something he attributes to "drinking plenty of water". Tanned and with fiercely piercing eyes, in a green T-shirt and tight grey jeans that could embarrass a man half his age, he's quintessentially The Hoff, given to inexplicably raising his voice and referring to himself in the third person. Where The Hoff finishes and David Hasselhoff begins is certainly difficult to ascertain. You'd be foolish to think it's the threshold of his penthouse in a London hotel, overlooking the Houses of Parliament. Sequestered inside with his nephew and personal assistant Nick, monitoring online football odds "because there isn't much else to do", he enjoys the beautiful game enough to know Franz Beckenbauer personally, and that "Zoltan [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] is a diva". Last night he made and broke "a deal with God that if I won, I wouldn't bet for eight weeks." As television's most watched performer in history according to the Guinness Book of Records, he can't venture outside without being mobbed and reckons he "can shut down Times Square in 28 seconds". Nomadic tribes in Kenya are ignorant of his existence but "the Maasai working in the hotel recognised me". A recent personal appearance in Hertfordshire pocketed him £12,000 simply for singing Jump In My Car, before "they played the Baywatch theme and all the girls took off their tops". "It's just so tiring and stupid," he shrugs, leaning back across a sofa. "You feel like Santa Claus". Indeed. So ubiquitous and diffusive is the perma-grinning Hoff brand, endorsing everything from an Avatar-themed nightclub in South Africa to a German microwaveable sandwich, that notwithstanding the latter turn as ultra-camp, Teutonic snack-pusher Gunter "Mr Lean" Hasselhoff, the only screen roles he gets sent are self-caricaturing cameos. A shame, because he's a decent mimic. Playing superhero Nick Fury in a TV movie last year, he was frustrated to be overlooked for The Avengers blockbuster in favour of Samuel L. Jackson. "I don't have the right representation to get me into those circles," he sighs. His manager naively believed he'd "never work again" after recent schlock-horror Piranha 3DD, in which he delivered a savage self-skewering, a celebrity lifeguard at the opening of a killer fish-infested swimming pool. Yet he signed up for the ludicrous "blood, tits and ass" fest for leverage with producer Bob Weinstein's brother Harvey, who owns Knight Rider's rights. Weinstein reportedly plans to reboot the 30-year-old series as a movie, bringing Hasselhoff back as Michael Knight, the father of a new hero of the road. Only this week, the actor suggested at San Diego's Comic Con convention that this could happen sooner rather than later. Before all that, there's a big screen version of Baywatch. Yet instead of reprising his "hunk in trunks" Mitch Buchannon, Hasselhoff will once again be playing himself. As the television series's executive producer, he was behind the revival and global syndication of the marathon show after NBC canned it in 1989. Over nine more seasons, it became the most successful ever, making him incredibly rich. A significant male demographic never tired of seeing nubile girls in red swimsuits. "At some conventions perhaps," he shakes his head. "Never at colleges though, woah!" History doesn't relate whether Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his East German counterpart, Erich Honecker, were committed viewers, before they consented to Hasselhoff belting out Looking For Freedom on a semi-demolished Berlin Wall on New Year's Eve, 1989, wearing a Knight Rider jacket with red flashing lights. Only that he gave them an ultimatum: on top of the wall or nothing. "I did say that," he admits. "But of course I would have done it anyway." Bill Clinton, though, is a bona fide fan. In the Oval Office, Hasselhoff recalls the "nice guy" former President flirting outrageously with his ex-wife and erstwhile co-star Pamela Bach, "almost like a caricature of himself. "If I'd only known (in their acrimonious 2006 divorce, when he took custody of their two daughters, Bach accused Hasselhoff of violence, a charge he always denied). I'd have been 'take her, take her, please get her out of my life, call her Monica, I don't give a damn'. My biggest mistake was not leaving her." Despite rejecting narcotics while at the liberal California Institute of the Arts, where public nudity was embraced at Halloween and it was "very dangerous, a university of drugs, I was always in theatre while everyone else was taking LSD and jumping out of windows", the actor has long battled alcoholism, entering the Betty Ford clinic. In 2007, a video appeared online showing him drunkenly struggling to eat a cheeseburger on the floor of a Las Vegas hotel room, while his daughter Taylor Ann begged him to curb his drinking. At the time, he claimed it was "deliberately released" but now maintains it was stolen from her camera. Philosophical about a once-friendly media that turned "abusive and disrespectful of my children - it took a toll on me emotionally", he still "secretly" manages his daughters' group, The Hoff Drops, after launching them in the short-lived reality series, The Hasselhoffs. He's advised them "they're going to run into a lot of crap". But "if anyone says anything bad about me, they're in your face." Beginning preparations for Hoff Broadway shortly, a "very funny, irreverent" New York musical penned by a team from the comedy show Saturday Night Live, he's also releasing an album of country pop. "I had the music sent a while back but I just wasn't ready," he explains. "I was in the wrong place, going through the divorce, trying to get out of the whole drama dance, get out of the ring, don't engage. "Everyone in a relationship that's not working, don't engage because you can get addicted to shouting at each other. Just walk. Don't let that weird stuff rent your head. When love comes you need to be open." Despite his tongue-in-cheek motto of "don't hassle The Hoff" and Nick's alertness – "he's really quick to grab the camera, take the picture and we move on" – he met girlfriend Hayley Roberts in Cardiff after she asked for a snap. Subsequent trips to Welsh pubs have been "like being attacked by friendly pirates". He still chats with fellow BGT panellist Piers Morgan but not Simon Cowell, "he's too busy". Familiar with both sides of the judging process, as a talent arbiter and as the first celebrity eliminated from last year's US series Dancing With The Stars, he's decidedly ambivalent about the genre. "They're wonderful stories that make a lot of money for the producers," he says carefully. "It's great to have the ambition to be on them but they're not 100% honest, the motive is always ratings. Yet even when they lose, as long as no-one gets their feeling hurt, it's a tremendous showcase. In Vegas this year, half the people I knew from America's Got Talent were there." He won't be surrendering his own fame without a fight, despite the pressures, because "I've never bought a ticket for anything. "I performed for a million people in Berlin two New Year's Eves ago and woke up the next morning in Australia. Frankly, my life is a giant cartoon. I have no idea where I'm going next. Or where I am. I roll with the punches." An Evening with The Hoff is at the Pleasance Grand on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe form Tuesday August 21 to Monday August 27. www.pleasance.co.uk

Adam Hills interview

Adam Hills enjoys messing around in Edinburgh so much he gave up the chance to compete in the Paralympics. A former tennis coach, the Australian comic was born without a right foot but rejected an offer to train for the Games when he was 14, having never considering himself disabled. “My mum asked me ‘do you want to go to the disabled Olympics?’ And the stigma of the word made me say no." Commentating on the Beijing Paralympics for Australian television however, the 42-year-old found himself regretting his youthful stubbornness. So when he was asked to try out for London, he gave it serious consideration.“The wheelchair tennis coach took me aside” he recalls, “and said ‘look, technically, you’re probably limited enough. The hardest part is teaching the tennis skills but you’ve already got those, so we’d just need to teach you how to use the chair.’” This would have meant spending four hours a day in a wheelchair, which part of him felt was cheating. Still, he warmed to the idea. “Maybe there’s a documentary in this. Maybe I can really compete ...But then I learned how much work was involved. And it wasn’t laziness that stopped me. I’d have had to quit comedy, give up on hosting TV shows. It would be head down, full-on training. Even after covering the Paralympics, I hadn’t realised how much sacrifice goes into it.” He will, however, be involved with the Paralympics, hosting highlights of the Games on Channel 4. Hills was 19 when he started performing stand-up. He refrained from discussing his prosthetic foot onstage for more than a decade, fearing he’d be labelled “the one-legged comedian” and maintaining “I had to prove my comedy chops first.” He remains reluctant to be a spokesperson for disabled people, but is happy to be a spokesperson for the Paralympics. “As soon as you mention the Paralympics and disabled people, there’s a tension there. But it’s a great honour and I’m pretty sure Channel 4 will cut through that tension and make the Paralympics cooler than the Olympics. There’s an alternative feel to it. We can’t take the mickey out of the sporting achievements but we can be irreverent about the disabilities. That’s where the comedy comes from. "When you’re in a room where a guy’s got one arm, this girl’s a dwarf and that guy’s in a wheelchair, there’s no rhyme or reason as to why any of us are in these situations. It’s a celebration. And the Paralympians think it’s funny too. They laugh at each other. I laugh at the shit that happens with my foot.” He deplores the clichés and condescension that attach themselves to the Games. “One of the Australian coaches took me aside in Beijing” he recalls, “to say ‘it’s been great having you here because a lot of the able-bodied commentators talk about how inspiring it all is, whereas you talk about the sport.' And that’s what disabled people want. They don’t want to hear about a kid fighting back after falling off a horse. They want ‘holy shit! That guy swam fast!’ I’m looking forward to everyone realising you’re not watching people with disabilities, you’re watching elite athletes. Most Paralympians don’t feel like they’re disabled. I don’t feel like I’m disabled, even if technically I am.” If elite sport demands dedication, so too does standup, especially if you’re ad-libbing a fresh hour of material every night. For this year’s festival, and indeed, for the last two years, Hills has been honing his show Mess Around, an improvised dialogue with the audience. “You learn tricks and your instincts get sharper, it’s like a muscle,” he reflects. “Rich Fulcher taught me that. The more you use it, the better it gets. Other comics are more cynical." Chuckling, Hills recalls Boothby Graffoe’s lugubrious enquiry: “Are you doing the lazy show this year?” Defining the Mess Around ethos as that of “an anti-talk show,” he laments the fact that he’s obliged to interview celebrities plugging their latest Hollywood blockbuster, rather than simply chatting to the crowd for a whole programme. In the course of the last series, he bowed to numerous requests to host a mass gay wedding and fulfilled one Monty Python fan’s dream, arranging for him to recreate the famous fish slapping dance with John Cleese. Disregarding the skill it takes to flirt with sentimentality and still be funny, Hills can’t quite escape the feeling that, again, “I’m cheating – which is why I’m charging less.” And reducing his show’s capacity to just 200 seats, because there’s an intimacy to Mess Around that he’s missed. “The audience knows they’re seeing a one-off, which is what makes them come back. It reminds me of when I started out, that raw excitement and the ever-present possibility of failure.”

Des Bishop: "There's plenty of humour in mispronunciation'"

Like many Irish, Des Bishop is fleeing recession-hit Dublin in January. But he's not emigrating to Australia or the US. He's moving to China for a year, where the comedian plans to learn Mandarin from scratch and perform stand-up to lao bai xing, ordinary Chinese with no English. Mandarin relies on the subtlest tonal inflexions. And Chinese comedy has traditionally favoured slapstick and double acts, only embracing the notion of a solo stand-up addressing the audience directly in the last five years. Fortunately, Bishop is an anecdotal comic. And "there's plenty of humour in mispronunciation and crossed-wires material". The 37-year-old has built a career on "fitting in, from learning how to engage with people out of necessity". One of Ireland's most popular comedians, he was born in London and enjoyed his biggest UK breakthrough last year, with the acclaimed show and book My Dad Was Nearly James Bond, a memoir prompted by his late father losing the 007 role to George Lazenby. Raised in New York, he retains a Queens accent, despite going to live with unfamiliar cousins in County Wexford at 14, an unlikely destination for a troubled, teenage alcoholic. Sober by 19, he established himself as a stand-up and in 2004, with the Celtic Tiger roaring, made The Des Bishop Work Experience for Irish broadcaster RTE, chronicling his efforts to survive in minimum-wage jobs for a month. Befriending Chinese co-workers in a Waterford branch of the fast-food chain Abrekebabra, he visited when they went home and has been back three times since. "What I thought China was and what it is are two very different things" he says. "All you hear is the very narrow focus upon human rights, the economy, the one-party system and the disparity between the rural poor and the urban wealthy. "You never hear about everyday life. I was blown away by how different it was to my expectations and how much it was unlike the West." Planning to live with a family in a Beijing suburb, find a job and learn a martial art, RTE's record of his attempts to integrate will recreate a series he made four years ago. For In the Name of the Fada, Bishop spent a year learning Irish in the Gaeltacht area of Connemara, so he could feel properly Irish and perform stand-up as Gaeilge. "I picked it up faster than I expected and quickly started using it at gigs in Irish-speaking areas. Only improvised stuff, just bantering with the crowd. I realised structuring material would be difficult but actually messing around with the language, it was easy to be funny," he says. Playing for a Gaelic football team, redubbing South Park for local television, "what surprised me learning Irish was how much better I understood what made those places tick, it's something you don't feel until it happens". The extent to which his Chinese material could recall his forthcoming Edinburgh Fringe show, Des Bishop Likes To Bang, about his passions for drumming, sex and beat-boxing, remains to be seen. But after memorably performing an Irish version of House of Pain's "Jump Around", he'll be seeking out Beijing hip-hop artists to rap with, because "anything that gets you out of the classroom and still studying is a bonus. I love it, it's great for live performance and good television". A Chelsea fan, Shanghai Shenhua's signings of ex-Blues strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka has reinforced his desire to join another sports team. "That was just so important for In the Name of the Fada, it builds trust." Especially for someone who lost a testicle to cancer. "Suddenly you stop being the guy with the camera crew and become one of the team. Once you've all seen each other's cocks in the shower, barriers are broken down."
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