Jolly Mixtures Forever

Hello,

Welcome to the third invite to the third night of the third instalment of the sketch night – Jolly Mixtures. (For the keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed I’ve been titling these invites with the Batman-numerical system.)

First off; a big thank you to everyone who came along to the first two, the second in particular was a brilliant turnout and way beyond what we expected. We hope everyone enjoyed it and will be back for this month’s instalment, which is on Wednesday 29th May.

We promise the same mixture of sketches, characters, songs and general idiocy with the wonderful Jolly Birds – Rob Gilroy, Graham Oakes, Nicola Redman and Amy Gledhill.

So come on down to the Caroline Street Social Club, Caroline Street, Saltaire, on Wednesday 29th May, doors: 7:30, show: 8:30 – for £3 worth of fun, frolics and sketch-erly goodness. Part of your One-a-Month.

See you all there.

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Jolly Mixtures Returns

Jolly Mixtures logo

Jolly Mixtures logo

We’re back!

After huge popular demand (a couple of people couldn’t make the first one) Jolly Mixtures returns for a second night of sketch-based hi-jinx and mirth.

All the regulars return – Amy Gledhill, Graham Oakes, Nicola Redman and Rob Gilroy – with a new batch of sketches, songs and characters. Please come and support this new night as it promises to keep getting better.

Featuring writers who have contributed to BBC Two, E4, BBC Radio One, Radio Two, Radio Four and Radio Four Extra and performers who have been named ones to watch by a variety of people including the local constabulary.

Same time – 8:00pm (doors 7:30)

Same place – Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire

Different date (obviously) 18th April, 2013.

If you couldn’t make the first night or simply thought “What the hell have I been invited to now? Bloody social media.” then please reconsider as Jolly Mixtures is shaping up to be a great new monthly sketch comedy night of fun and frolics.

Don’t forget to share this with your friends, even if you can’t make it share it with people who may like it. Alternatively share it with people who will hate it, just to wind them up.

Jolly Mixtures

Jolly Mixtures

Jolly Mixtures

Here’s a quick announcement for a new Bradford-based sketch night I am running. I’d be ever so delighted if you would read it, pass it on and attend. Wouldn’t that be nice? Thank you.

Jolly Mixtures is a night of brand new sketch, character and musical comedy.

Starring: Rob Gilroy, Amy Gledhill, Graham Oakes and Nicola Redman.

Do you like laughing? No? What’s wrong with you, you big misery guts. Sort yourself out. All those that do like a giggle, though – step this way. Jolly Mixtures is a brand new night of the best sketch, character and musical comedy that Bradford (and the surrounding areas) has to offer.

Featuring a cast of writers who have written for the likes of Tom Deacon’s Road Trip (Radio One), Dave Gorman’s Pub Olympics (Radio 2), The Now Show (Radio 4), The News Quiz (Radio 4) and Newsjack (Radio 4 Extra).

As well as performers that have gone on to be crowned; Funny Women Finalist, Laughing Horse New Act of the Year Competition Semi Finalist , contributor to BBC’s Jesting About and ‘Best Male Comedian’ – Whitley Bay sixth form prom.

So what’s not to like? Unless you happen to hate sketch comedy in which case this might not be for you. But it probably will be because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like sketch comedy?

So please come on down to the Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire on the 14th of March and support the new night – only £3 in!

March 14th, 2013
8:00pm till 10:30pm
Doors: 7:30pm
Caroline Street Social Club, Saltaire, BD18 3JZ
Entry: £3

Jolly Mixtures – ‘Mixtures’ because you won’t know what you’re going to see next and ‘Jolly’ ‘cos it’ll be funny and that.

Is There Anything There?

Is there anything more frustrating than a faulty wi-fi connection? Surely not. Even the prisoners in solitary confinement stare at three little bars less than I do when I’m trying to get mine working. It’s hardly an advancement in society; it’s the technological equivalent of taking two steps forward and fifty steps backwards. Like inventing the wheel and deciding it would look much better if you squared-off the edges. Nothing is as dull as waiting for it to right itself – it’s the most impressive form of torture there is. If you were extracting information from the enemy; you’d better forcing them to try and keep a secure broadband connection to Virgin Media, than you would be using water boarding. No other activity brings about the same desire to self-harm as much as this.

And why is it that when you urgently need to ‘log on’ – to send an important email or find the name of that actor with the moustache in Midsummer Murders – that it then decides to be even more temperamental than usual? Having a wireless connection is like have a petulant child; only, it’s a child that somehow has access to all the information you could ever want in the world, ever. And won’t give it to you until you work out why it’s sulking.

One of the most annoying things is that, when you’re working; there is no greater distraction than the internet. You can while away whole days looking at YouTube videos of cats performing the Macarena, or spying on distant relatives through Facebook and passing judgement on a wedding you weren’t invited to. Before you know it; more than a week has gone by and you have nothing to show for it except a couple of Amazon purchases and a few dubious Wikipedia facts about Louis XIV. It’s a wonder Julian Assange leaked anything at all, I’d have spent too much time watching auctions on eBay; never plucking up the courage to bid on them, myself. All these distractions, all this information that, moments before you’d switched on your computer; you had no desire to know, suddenly become more important than sorting your online banking or finishing that piece of work before the deadline. And yet; when your wi-fi signal breaks, nothing takes up more of your time than trying to fix it. Now, that may only amount to pressing ‘repair’ every few minutes, but suddenly you are unable to think of anything else. Any capacity for thought becomes impossible until you can sort it out, even if the one thing you’ll do once it’s sorted, is force yourself to avoid the internet.

So that’s what I’ve been doing whilst writing this piece – opening ‘My Network Connections’ and staring at the blank screen. I have re-clicked, re-wired and re-shaken everything and I still can’t get a response. It’s like watching the two leads from Kramer vs. Kramer try and make amends. It isn’t going to happen. Much like a scab, if you leave it alone; it will eventually sort itself out. And so, devoid of distraction, I have no choice but to do some work. Curse you Richard Branson!

From 17th October, 2012

If Carlsberg Did Laser Quest…

I’ve been inundated with requests from people wanting to know how the stag do went. I haven’t, but humour me. It went very well, actually. My worries over what to book were largely ill-founded. Namely because by the time we got everyone together and had had a few drinks, none of us were in any fit state to do anything. I’ll be honest with you, the level we operated on sunk quite low, quite early on. In my desperate attempts to be a ‘classy’ stag do, I had underestimated how un-classy we were as a group. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of 20 year olds off their face on Babycham and rum and coke. The weekend went off without a hitch, everyone enjoyed themselves but it did teach me one valuable lesson – never play laser quest when you’re drunk.

I booked laser quest because I thought it would be silly, but mainly because it would be infinitely less painful than paint balling. I like the great outdoors – the silence, the peace, the serenity, so it baffles me why anyone would decide the perfect game to play there would be one where you fire capsules of emulsion at each other. If it’s trying re-create an army-style scenario in a safe environment then I think it would work just as well to watch Dad’s Army in a tent. Anyway, I picked laser quest – for those that don’t know what laser quest is; it’s like a lightsabre battle from Star Wars but set in a warehouse in Sheffield and kitted out by Chad Valley. I should have known it was going to be an odd affair when we turned up twenty minutes later than our arrival time, drunk, to find our opposing team waiting. Our nemeses consisted of two middle aged parents and a child in his mid-teens. OK, it’s not exactly al Qaida, but they were a fearsome bunch.

The bloke in charge had all the enthusiasm of someone who had started working there at 16 and now found he was 28 with nothing to show for himself but some cargo pants and a film studies degree. He was also pretty oblivious to the fact that most of us were slightly inebriated, to the point where we were turning the guns on ourselves before leaving the changing room. Then we went in. What followed can only be described as the biggest drugs trip I’ve ever experienced. Now, given the fact that I’ve never taken drugs, using a permanent marker for too long can set me well on the way to tripping the light fantastic, but this was something else. You’re essentially running around a darkened room, wearing a UV breast plate that lights up blue or red, waiting for a friend to come and kill you – so far so pathetic. However, having had one too many bottled lagers there was an incredibly sinister side to it. My most prevalent memories included trying to shoot a forty year old woman in the head with what can only be described as one of those scanning guns you find in Asda, running so hard into the young lad that we both fell over and lying on the floor screaming as a friend pinned me down with his foot and repeatedly ‘shot’ at me, laughing maniacally. There is nothing more hideous than considering your own mortality whilst seeing a loved one standing over you, holding a gun, illuminated with fluorescent light.

All round the experience was an eye-opener, more so for the family who’ll, no doubt, think twice before booking another Saturday afternoon activity again. I can’t speak for the others but I now feel like some sort of Vietnam veteran, getting crippling flashbacks every time I open the fridge door. It will be a long while before I play laser quest again, drunk or not.

From 10th October, 2012

Competitive Streaking

I performed in a competition yesterday. A stand up comedy one, obviously, not one of those ‘eat as many pies as you can, in an hour’ type competitions. Although I would easily walk that; I’m a monster with a quiche. It was a New Comedian of the Year competition in London and the Quarter Finals. I had already gotten through the heats, which in itself was a fluke. There were only two audience members in attendance and eleven acts; I think I got through by default of the fact I’d travelled furthest. There’s nothing worse than pity votes but I’ll still accept them; it’s the only way I’ll ever win a Bafta. I may even walk with a limp up to the podium, drawing more fake-respect from the audience. I’m vain, like that. I used to get people to cheer anytime I used my potty but I stopped after a while because my university friends were never as willing to participate.

This time round it was a more enjoyable process, as there was a good handful of audience members. No disrespect to the two girls who bravely sat through a barrage of desperate amateur comedians last time, but you could hardly fill a room with their laughter. In the end it would probably have made more sense to get them to use the microphone. It was just a bit unnecessary for us; we were close enough to be heard – it was less of a gig and more of a conversation between friends, where someone had decided to bring their own amplification system along.

The problem with competitions though, is that it’s such an odd experience. The fun of doing stand up is trying to enjoy yourself as much as the audience is. Obviously you don’t crease over in blind hilarity at your own jokes, that would probably dampen the experience for others, but you can get enjoyment out of it, if it’s going well. Much as you can with a relationship. It’s very hard to elicit laughs in a comedy club or a relationship if it isn’t going well. That’s why so many marriage councillors have started enforcing a ‘no heckle’ policy; it’s not as constructive as you’d think. Competitions however, do have a tendency to raise the pressure and therefore hinder your ability to find it fun. It’s much more about having to be the best of the best. Think; The Apprentice but with more references to bodily functions. I don’t mind doing them because I know it’s all part of being a comic and progressing in that world, plus you can meet lots of nice people, it’s just that there’s an unspoken tension there. You’re always eyeing up the competition. Are they funnier than you? Do they look nervous? That guy’s wearing a blue T-shit, so am I, will it make me less funny if I go second? It verges on paranoia. And because (I assume) everyone feels the same, no one dares bring it up. It’s like when an aeroplane crashes in the mountains and the survivors have to eat each other. You’re never going to be popular if you’re the first person to stand up and say “I think we should have a nibble on Sharon.”

I was thinking about that above analogy when I was there, then I got on to thinking; ‘if something happens now, who would I eat first?’ That’s why very few people talk to me at these sorts of things. And probably why I didn’t win. I wish it had been the pie-eating contest.

From 3th October, 2012

Stag Do to-do

This week, I’ll be mostly organising a stag do. Now, I know what you’re thinking; “You, Rob? A stag do? Well they go hand in hand, what with you being a lad’s lad an all?” Well, no actually, it’s not as simple as that. I know my usual bloke-ish charm seems well-suited to a day of paint ball-ing, binge drinking and lap dancing, but actually; deep down, I’m quite a sensitive soul. I’m not used to the sight of breasts in public, and if truth be told, I’m allergic to emulsion. It’s made even worse by the fact that the lucky man himself, is further from the perceived image of a ‘stag’ than me. And that’s saying a lot considering I use a napkin to eat crisps. I fear if we were to do anything too ‘staggy’ it might give him an aneurism. The last thing I want is to finish off the night in A&E because the groom had one too many Babychams and then fainted at the sight of a thong. The problem is; if you’re not interested in all of that, how do you organise a stag do? At the moment it’s shaping up like a weekend away with a prayer group.

The stag’s original brief was ‘just a meal with some friends’, which sounds nice, intimate and modest. However, considering the group of people will be coming from all four corners of the country, it seems like a bit of a waste to make them travel all that way to split the price of a stuffed crust. I knew it had to be something more, but, as I’ve already stated, my idea of a fun day out is going to Waterstones and browsing the hardbacks, maybe using one of the sofas provided, if I’m feeling wild. So I endeavoured to find a suitable plan of action – the best place to start is always the internet (unless you’re addicted to online gambling).

The first site I found was something like StagDoMaximum.com. It presented me with a with a choice of packages – like a travel agent for the emotionally repressed – all with their own idea of what a stag do could be. Each was made up of different elements, which were essentially; BMX-ing, Lap Dance, Night Club or Go-Carting, Lap Dance, Night Club or Base Jumping, Lap Dance, Night Club – as you can see, a pattern is forming. Nightclubs aren’t really my scene. If I wanted the ‘night club experience’ I’d stand in the middle of a busy train carriage, during an earthquake, while listening to Radio One. It’s not for me. Or the stag for that matter. Another option was ‘Dinner and a Dance’ which, on the face of it, sounds lovely – a bit of goulash and a waltz or pasta and a foxtrot, but no. This delightful option was having a home-cooked meal while a naked woman danced on the table. Now the only home-cooked meals I’ve ever eaten have been at my mums and she’s in no fit state to be dancing after cooking a roast. It’s not even that I don’t like naked women, far from it, but do you really need to see them when you’re tucking into your beef stroganoff?

The only possible exception to the list of stag options is wine tasting. That sounds grown up/respectable/fully clothed so it’s definitely a possibility. The only snag is; the groom is as capable of handling his drink as a hook-handed, fundamentalist on a long haul flight to America (yes, topical!). I give up. It’s too much hard work. We’ll just stick with the stuffed crust. They do balloons there, right?

From 26th September, 2012

Childish Whining

I’ve got a niece. At the time of writing she will be two days and nearly twelve hours old. Not much is it? Imagine living in a world where you missed some of the big defining moments of the last 20 years, like the invasion of Iraq. Hard to believe, isn’t it? To be fair to her, she also missed out on last week’s episodes of Coronation Street. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose. It just seems odd to me that anyone would be born from 1990 onwards. I was born in ’87, so I only just scrape through but it’s like when you meet kids that were born in ’93 or ’96. What have they got to show for themselves? At least we had the Spice Girls and Pat Sharp. Shocking, isn’t it? Not that my niece is aware of her sheltered upbringing. She’s too busy doing what she can to make things uncomfortable for me.

Take the other day; the day I met her. She’s beautiful and tiny and just what you’d expect from a baby, i.e. she doesn’t do much. It’s not that I expected her to cartwheel into the room and let off fireworks to announce her arrival, but there could have been a bit more ceremony. I mean, she just lies there and sleeps. She doesn’t even cry like a normal baby, it took a good few prods to the ribs to get any sort of reaction out of her, and even then she pulled a face and fell back to sleep. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good nap, everyone does – right after lunch, just before Deal or No Deal – perfect. But all she does is sleep. I can’t imagine she’s that tired. Presumably she’s awake through the night; sat bolt upright in her cot with bloodshot eyes as though she’s been on a 24hour bender of Pro-Plus and Red Bull. If it wasn’t for the fact she’s a chronic squirm-er when she sleeps, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between her and a doll. Even some dolls have the common courtesy to wet themselves, just to let you know all’s well.

Squirm she most certainly does, and that just makes it all the more difficult for me. Now, I love kids and babies but I’m not built to deal with them. How are you supposed to hold them? It’s like trying to carry a bag of marshmallows with a bomb inside – they’re not that heavy or that big but you know if you drop them there’ll be hell to pay. What’s worse is that she’s handed round like some sacred game of pass-the-parcel, people awkwardly trying to make the drop off. Drug dealers have operated with a greater degree of nonchalance. So the turn falls to me, and there I am; juggling this squirmy mess of limbs with everyone shouting “support the head” like a group of teachers during a team building exercise. How can you support the head when “E.T” seems intent on throwing it back? If she’s not careful she’s going to give herself whiplash. The last thing I need is a law suit.

So, I finally I manoeuvre her into a position that isn’t far from being comfortable, certainly for her, anyway. I’m not quite so lucky; I’ve shifted my weight to my left buttock and am holding her head up with my right arm. If you remove the baby from this picture then I look as though I’m suffering from a virulent bout of piles. The narcoleptic princess then falls into a deeper sleep, with no intention of awakening. Meaning I’m stuck there, my body contorted like some sort of acrobat in down time, holding this tiny pink sloth, too scared to move. And Deal or No Deal’s on. Is it really worth missing my nap for this? Yes.

Dedicated to Isla Lily, lovely to meet you.
From: 19th September, 2012.

Feeling Old Women

I’ve just had my haircut and I’m not happy with it. The barber did that thing of showing me the back and saying “How’s that?” and I did the usual thing of going “That’s brilliant, thanks.” It wasn’t brilliant. It was fine, there wasn’t anything wrong with it, but you always have to seem over-appreciative, don’t you? It’s not that I’m not grateful but it’s his job, yet I still feel the need to wax lyrical about it, as though he needs the constant reassurance. I’m pretty sure his self-esteem is better than that. Unlike mine after having it cut. I’m always holding out for compliments. Not because I’m big-headed (although I am) more because I need a second opinion about the hairstyle. I’m always convinced it looks stupider the further you are from it. Anyway, he said “How’s that?” I said “That’s brilliant, thanks.” And then he did something I’ve never seen before; he kept cutting. I’m not just talking about neatening the edges. He kept hacking away at it. For at least another ten minutes. I was horrified. Clearly he didn’t understand the small print on our verbal contract.

To cut a long story short (no pun intended (yes there was otherwise I wouldn’t have written it)) I came out of that barbers, or salon if you’re that way inclined, with my hair devastatingly shorter than I was comfortable with. The reason I don’t like it too short is because my hairline starts quite far back. It’s not receding you understand, it’s been like that since I can remember – I like to think of it as a deep-set fringe – but having short hair only highlights this issue, which others feel bound to address. I don’t know why having short hair suddenly turns everyone into a follicle expert, but they’re all on hand to tell you how fine your hair is or how it’s receding (it’s not). It wouldn’t happen with plastic surgery; you wouldn’t come out of an intense course of liposuction, only for your friends and family to say “Good one, but next time you might want to have a look at that backside. It’s starting to spread.” You keep your comments to yourself and I’ll keep my vastly deteriorating scalp to mine. If I can, I make no promises; I’ve had a lot of problems with malting recently.

None of this would bother me, however, if today wasn’t my 25 birthday. Suddenly I feel that pang of age (could be angina?) and I don’t like it. I know most of you will say 25 isn’t old but you try thinking that when your fringe starts so far back you have to comb forward. I’ve stopped smiling altogether because my wrinkles are becoming too deep. You could literally use my face as a toast rack. You wouldn’t want to though, there’s no place for the jam. I am desperately trying not to think about age but I’m halfway to 50. If I was a dog I’d have been put down long ago, or at least be wearing one of those plastic cones 24/7. Trust me; it’s not easy getting old, you can wear all the trainers and ride all the bikes you like but you’re not young anymore, you’re just that weird guy in the stupidly big shoes, who cycles to work.

I’ve given up trying to fight it anymore, there’s no use. I’ve booked in at the solicitors to get my will drawn up and I’ve cancelled my subscription with Bupa. I would sign up to one of those life insurance plans but I doubt I’d make full use of the free Parker pen. No, that’s me done, I don’t want to make a big deal of my birthday; they all merge at this age, anyway. No party, no cake and no presents. Well, maybe one – I could do with a hat.

From: 12th September, 2012.

Love is in the Airer

The other day I bought a clothes airer. I know I should have one already; but I just didn’t, OK? I’m the one that’s losing out because not only is it costing me hundreds of pounds in dryer time, but it’s making a mockery of my anti-wrinkle fabric conditioner. But, after a few weeks without one, I now have an airer – it’s sort of an important thing, isn’t it? You don’t realise how essential it is until it’s gone, like oxygen only you hang wet socks off of it.

We used to have one at our old flat but then in the fuss and panic of packing, we left it behind. I’m not proud of myself for doing it but there was no space left for it in the car. I keep expecting to see one of those charity films on the telly about it – ‘This is Airer, he was abandoned by his owners in the boiler room of a flat with no food or water. Please give £3 a week or whatever you can…’ I felt as though I had left a child behind at Euro Disney; only this child wouldn’t be getting free trips on Space Mountain, because we never had a Space Mountain at our old flat. And it’s an airer, as I’ve said. Not a child. It was an odd feeling, having an emotional connection to a metallic frame covered in white plastic with blue safety knobs on, but I did – I could picture the moment it arrived into my life, like a new born baby, or a late delivery from Argos (which it was).

It was just before I left for university, I’d had a sudden panic that maybe I was unprepared for independent living, so I had an emergency stock-up. BHS never knew what hit them – bedding, desk lamps and hole punches – the lot. In all my three years at university I have never used a hole punch and I’m never sure I will, but if the time comes for something to be holed, then I’ll be there clamping my way to victory. I’d done all this shopping and suddenly realized I would need to wash my clothes, now a lot of students would just bring them home on weekends and holidays but I had a better idea; I was going to get my mum to drive up and collect them for me, a sort of motherly laundry collection service, if you will. I was going to call it Mum’s Wash Dash but she wasn’t keen. Instead she bought me some washing tablets and the airer. I can still remember pulling the plastic off that rigid frame; it was like Christmas at the Home Essentials department of Wilkinsons. We’ve been through a lot him and me, now he’s gone; airing out other people’s clothes and it’s all my fault.

So, we were pushed to by a new one, because we only have so many backs of chairs to hang stuff off (we would have more but ours is a solely beanbag-furnished house). I was going to go for the same, traditional fold-out airer but instead I thought I’d upgrade. We chipped in the extra £1.65 and got a three-storey collapsible model and you know what? It’s rubbish. I dried some clothes yesterday and it took me twenty minutes to get the thing up, another twenty to get it down again and the blue connector-y bits kept dropping off, like some demented Crystal Maze game. I’ve never been this disappointed with a purchase, except for the time I bought the film Jurassic Park. I’m sorry but, to me, that title suggests 90 minutes of dinosaurs playing on swings and slides. By not having two stegosauruses on a seesaw, Mr. Spielberg, you have made a grave mistake.

So now I’m in a new house with a new airer and I don’t like it. I pine for my old airer, he was trusty, he was faithful, he was reliable. He didn’t just support my clothes, he supported me and now I’m alone and damp at the seams. My heart is creased. I’m sorry; sorry I rejected you and hung you out to dry. Oh, the irony.

From: 5th September, 2012.