Tuesday, 14 February 2017

LOVE AND SEX BOTS



Valentine's day when upstanding members of the community in secure jobs and loving relationships show their love and financial capabilities with a pre-planned, scheduled day of romance whilst single people are forced to grapple with feelings of being a worthless, infertile hunchbacks incapable of forming a meaningful relationship with anything or anyone other than the self checkout at Sainsbury's.  


You might say Harry don’t be so cynical, embrace romance. I am romantic. If I fell in Love tomorrow I’d be ready to go on Valentines day. On my budget it would have to be some lady and the tramp affair where we go down a back alley and eat spaghetti off a bin lid and then go fuck in a park. See I bleed romance. Not everyone agrees. I actually fingered a girl in a park once but she told me to stop as it wasn’t romantic. In hindsight I’m sure she thought being fingered in a park was the romantic equivalent of sitting in a gondola boat in Venice after she’d seen my flat. We never saw each other again as we realized we were miles apart on what we thought romance was. Her loss because for our next date I was going to take her to that bridge with all the locks on in Paris and fist her.  

I don’t trust love. Well interpersonal love at least. I am capable of love. I can do commitment - I’ve had a phone contract with the same network for five years. I think what stops me getting together with a human, apart from that I use the phrase “getting together with a human”, is for love to be successful you’ve got to evolve, adapt and change. Why would I want to become a better person? I’ve got this far by not changing my behaviour and by got this far I mean I’ve got credit on my oyster card and I know how to switch the washing machine on. If I wanted growth I’d buy a pot plant.

I actually think the best relationship I ever had was 4 hours long. We had a brilliant night together. It ended when she said she couldn’t kiss me as she had a boyfriend. We never saw each other again. I often look back on that four hours with great fondness. I didn’t get in trouble, we didn’t argue. I didn’t have to make small talk with her family about my career prospects. It was all joy and happiness with none of the commitment and  pain of a relationship. I cherish that memory. Why does love have to be forever? Four hours is more than enough, stop being so greedy for love.

I say bring on sex bots. “deactivate shame mode in sex bot” Yes please. “Sex-bot would like to judge your behaviour” turn that mode off thank you. “Would you like to take disable the moral high ground on Sex bot?” Of course. Harry are you saying you want to fuck an opinionless robot with a rubber vagina? Yes, but it comes from a good place.  I am showing true love by not subjecting anyone to a relationship with me, selflessness, thoughtfulness, consideration all the hallmarks of love. All these selfish pricks burdening some poor person with their problems, subjecting them to the up’s the downs of life. Not me I’m keeping my (up) and downs to myself. It’s clear I’ve just not met anyone who compares to how great I am, not a criticism. I’ve been in a great relationship for the last 35 years with a good looking, loving, intelligent, funny person all along and I’ve finally realized that, so tonight I can finally use those Pizza Express vouchers.


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Thursday, 2 February 2017

TAX APOCALYPSE


I managed to finish my tax return this weekend. Thanks, I’m great at admin. Once again I had not earned enough revenue to pay tax. My gross earnings were £7,000 in the Tax year 15/16. Tax owed, zero. Satisfaction felt, ten. After a few nights out on the tiles I realized this was not in fact a cause for celebration but rather a sorrowful, financial kick in the balls. Yes, well done Harry that’s the most money you’ve earned in ten years but it’s also the salary of a child.For half that money you could have signed on and it wouldn’t have been as degrading as filling in a tax return for a non taxable amount and checking Google during the process to see if crisps can be classified as an expense.


I did sign on for a couple of weeks once and it was horrific. I was so broke at the time I had to take out a government loan for £27 till the dole came through. The problem was that I had to travel to High Barnet in order to collect the loan. A journey I couldn’t afford.  A journey  you wouldn’t wish upon an employed man let alone an unemployed one. The woman on the phone assured me that a thing called a yellow ticket existed that gets broke, unemployed people to the dole office free of charge. What she didn’t tell me was that this was completely made up by her. I found this out when I demanded to be let on to first the bus and then the tube with my “yellow ticket”. The whole incident put me off the dole and I’ve been in gainful employment ever since- if by gainful employment you mean 7 hours contracted work a week and then a couple of stand up gigs a month where you are paid from money that’s been collected in a hat.


Here is the thing I would love to pay tax. Tax me up. The highest rate.  I’ve not set out to make no money, on the contrary monsieur, the worrying thing is this is my best effort to try and make money. Until I did my tax return and saw the cold hard evidence that I could have earnt the same revenue if I’d gone down my street asking people can I look behind your sofas for coins it really felt like I’d had a productive year. And even now despite evidence to the contrary I can’t shake the feeling that I had a good 15/16. This proves a theory I’ve had- the only thing that’s been holding me back all this time is civilized society. Lots of people are worried about the apocalypse. I’ve been living there for the last ten years and it’s actually not that bad, I found a roast chicken in a bin once.I’m pretty sure when everyone joins me I’ll come into my own. I’ll move into a cave. No one's going to tell me to tidy my cave. Double crossing is frowned upon in our current society, so I don’t do it,  but once the artifice of civility crumbles I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion I’d be quite good at it. Selling a fellow camp dweller out for food.


“But Harry I lent you my lave, I thought we were friends”


“welcome to the apocalypse John.”


I could also really picture myself stepping out from behind a tree and saying to a bunch of lost travellers “Looks like you got lost in the wrong place.” The current society plays to my weakness - long term commitment, paying rent, pretending you are interested in other people’s lives, not my strengths double crossing, living in a cave and ambushes. It’s clearly the system that is broken not me. Bring on Brexit and Trump. I can’t wait till this society falls apart, hell if it really goes to shit with my skill set I'll be the one charging the tax.  


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Thursday, 19 January 2017

2016 IN REVIEW: PART TWO


Two weeks ago we covered what a great year I was having in 2016. I’d been deleted off the internet, found out that my only childhood achievement was a swimming badge for a width and added a new irrational fear of bridges to my collection of irrational fears. By my standards this was turning out to be a great year, but would I be able to carry on the momentum?


JULY
The most shocking thing that has happened in my lifetime was 9/11. Fifteen years later it is still difficult to comprehend what happened that day. It is a memory that will forever be ingrained on mine and all the world's consciousness.


July 2016 I had some news. I was moving out of home. For the last 15 years the fountain in Trafalgar Square has had a better cash flow than me. I’d looked on dewey eyed when friends and family had spoken about joining a gym, consistently eating three meals a day, earning enough money to pay tax, going on holiday, not living at home with their parents aged 35. The type of financial commitments I could only dream of. You know the basic financial commitments that any primate who can tie their own shoelaces can make. I was fully prepared to live at home for the next 40 years. Ready for it. Open to it. Looking forward to it. When out of nowhere I got a writing commission. For the first time in forever I had enough money to pay rent and eat three meals a day. So I moved out of home. This was my 9/11.            


AUGUST
As I’ve covered in many of my writings in the past most of the worst things that have ever happened to me have either been at or the result of the Edinburgh Festival. 2015’s trip  I would describe as “a huge success.” Full disclosure, a huge success for me at Edinburgh is if none of the following things happen during the run. 1) I have to sleep rough 2) I don’t lose £5,000+ 3) None of the big review sites say I’m racist 4) My girlfriend doesn’t dump me during one of my shows  5) I don’t get my foot caught in a venue that is a blow up igloo and have to do my show with a strobe going off because I kicked the cable that controls it whilst trying to dislodge my foot from said venue that is a blow up igloo.


To clarify.  In my own mind because I’ve failed at all the things I thought I wanted to achieve,   in order to have any self esteem, I’ve had to downgrade my aims to things like not owe anyone any money for 24 hours and not feel like I’m going to vomit at the end of the day when I think about something I said or did during it. Achievable goals. So when I say the Camden Fringe which I did this year instead of Edinburgh was a big success what I mean is no one died and I’m not in prison. And for that I am very happy. I did six shows. Only one was cancelled, three made money and just once did I have a nervous breakdown on stage,call an interval half way through to give people I thought were hating it a chance to leave and then have them stare at me with my head in my hands for five minutes during “the interval.”


SEPTEMBER
You may remember in the last blog me discussing the quest for sex. It looked like the search was finally over when one evening I was performing my blue set. As is now the tradition of the set at the end of it i say “does anyone want to fuck me”  to no reply. I’ve done it about 15 times and tonight as always the response was no reply


I was standing at the back of the room at the end of the night when a girl walked past me and said “I’d like to fuck you.” I didn’t quite know what to say to that. I went with “thanks.” Which was much better than the other flirting techniques I’d  been pioneering recently which Included "Did I see you outside crying?" When a girl touched me "don't touch me unless it's below the waste" not forgetting  "why don't you trust me?"  And my favourite.
HER: What do you want
ME: What have you got?
HER: Nothing
ME: Sounds good.


That night I got a Facebook friend request. It was the girl. We got speaking on Facebook Chat.


“ You were my favourite act tonight”
“Thanks, you were my favourite audience member”
“Was it something to do with me saying I wanted to fuck you?”
“That might have something to do with it”
“That’s the point of the act though right, getting girls to have sex with you?”
“No, the point of the act is to get laughs, the sex thing is an unfortunate bi-product”


We decided to meet up the next night, she didn’t live in London. Apart from our brief FB chat and her saying she wanted to fuck me when she walked past me at the gig I had no idea what she was like. She messaged me just before we met to say she was quite shy.Yes telling someone you’ve never met before you want to fuck them is definitely a trait of a shy person. We had a nice date though. Towards the end she said “look. About me saying I want to fuck you. I don’t think it’s a good idea”. I agreed, as I always do whenever a girl says this to me. She asked me to order her a cab. I did.”I don’t have your number could I have it?” So she missed called me. The cab rang it was outside. I kissed her goodbye and then away she went. Now I’m not proud of what I did next but when I got home I sent her a couple of sexts. I fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning I’d had a missed call from her on one number at 5am and some texts from her on another number. I had no idea what was going on, why did she have two phones? Anyway about an hour later it clicked, I’d been sexting the minicab driver. He was into it as he’d rung me at 5am. Abdul, we met up a couple of days later lovely guy. He didn’t seem very happy that I turned up to meet him and was a man.


OCTOBER
The positive news was that gigs were really picking up for me in October. The negative news was that they were all bookings for an act I do called “The Goblin.” An act so weird and out there that even I think it is weird and out there. This culminated in The Goblin’s last ever performance on Halloween. I’m pretty sure there is only one woman in the world who's Saturday night Halloween consisted of being called up on stage "as a goat" by a middle aged man dressed as a goblin where she was then fed "goblin eggs" told she was now pregnant with goblins and then ridden out of the venue as "a goat" by said middle aged man in the goblin costume after the audience failed to answer three riddles correctly.The good news is I will never do this character again. The bad news is from the look on the girl's face when I left the venue this characters retirement came one day too late.


In other news the shy girl is now stalking me, texting me every day and saying she thinks she might be in love with me. Happy to have the attention to be honest.  


NOVEMBER
Donald Trump is elected president of the USA. I had a sneaky feeling this might happen so I put £20 on him to win. My thinking was if he wins then I make some money and if he loses well at least he isn’t the president of America. One equation I hadn’t legislated for was not putting the bet on but thinking I had and him winning. An outcome the magnified the horror and made me feel even more sad.  


Six months into my new Facebook account and I am getting suggested posts for therapy. I don’t need therapy I need recognition, money and sex. Following almost daily texts my stalker sends me a text which just says “block me.” I explain that this is not how stalking works and block her.


There is a beautiful Italian girl who works in the coffee shop next to my house, she asked me if I’d like to be Santa at the shop for a night in December. She would be my helper and dress as an elf. This was my fourth paid gig of the year.It was definitely the only gig of the year where I had to concentrate for three hours on not getting an erection.


 
DECEMBER
I finished my shift as Santa, went out to a bar, got chatting to a girl and we fucked. The quest for sex is over. I leaned back into my bed and out of the corner of my eye I saw the real Santa fly by the window laughing maniacally. I’d been a good boy this year.  Have a great 2017 everyone.


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Thursday, 5 January 2017

2016 IN REVIEW: PART ONE







2015 was the first good year I’d had in 15. Sure there were parking meters that made more of a financial contribution to GDP than me. Ok I didn’t get laid for the whole of it. Alright I was 35 and still living at home with my parents. Look, in the intervening years between 2015  I’d either been sued, clinically depressed, going out with someone who hated me or constantly having to put on a foreign accent when I answered the phone in case it was someone I owed money to. 2015 was a walk in the park. I was optimistic about 2016 and as the history books will show I was right to be...

JAN
My Facebook got deleted because someone hacked into my account and used my debit card to advertise knock off Polo Jeans. At the time of writing Facebook still do not believe I am me and all my memories, pictures and statuses from the last ten years have vanished from the internet. I am the living embodiment of Marty McFly in the photograph from Back To The Future, I’ve disappeared and I had to stop my mum from having sex with me (that story is for another time).

If the existential crisis of having all your memories deleted off the internet wasn’t trying enough also in January My dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

FEB
In a rare show of pity I managed to convince a girl to come back to my parents house.

“Yeah I’m house sitting”

There was a girl lying naked in my bed all I needed to do now was lean over to my bedside table and retrieve one of the many unused condoms left over from my previous relationship. Ahh my previous relationship. It had all the negatives of being single and none of the positives of being in a relationship, like having sex or being loved. Anyway the condoms weren’t there. Let me tell you the dancing around your room looking for condoms that aren't there for twenty minutes dance is not an aphrodisiac.

The quest for sex continues.

In an attempt to lose weight and have more energy I decided to give up sugar. Pancake day was a complete disaster without sugar. Buckwheat pancakes, they tasted like a refugees shoe. I cooked some fruit that was so sour I’d have had a more pleasurable eating experience if I’d slept with a lemon in my mouth. Refugees shoe with sour fruit, disgusting. If that wasn’t bad enough my dog died.

MAR
One evening in March  I gate crashed a 40th birthday party, within a minute of being there a very attractive girl started kissing me. All my friends then left. I’d say approximately 30 seconds after they left she stopped kissing me and then began ignoring me. I never asked her to kiss me and  now I’m alone at a 40th birthday party where I didn’t know anyone. I stayed for 10 minutes, why?  I still have no idea. What was I waiting for? An invite to the 50th? Someone to ask me to cut the cake? Did some Facebook research the next day, the girl was married.

APR
After finally going as low as I could go in 2014 and coming to terms with the hell of the last 15 years it was time to get some momentum off the back of the good work of 2015. I decided to read a self help book maybe I could have some spiritual growth. One of the exercises I had to do was recount childhood achievements, so I asked my mum what mementos she had of my childhood achievements. She pulled out a box, opened it and there was a swimming badge for one width. Not even a length. A width. There was nothing else in the box.  

Spurred on by my childhood achievements and In an attempt to stimulate my live bookings I launched my bue set in April. Blue comedy is a genre made popular in the 1970’s by working men’s club comics. It is adult in it’s nature, traditionally containing swearing, sexual content and often a racist overtone. I’ve dropped the racist overtone which left plenty more room for filth.

MAY
The blue sets first outing was at world renowned pervert and comedy promoter Martin Beserman’s night at the Holiday Inn. He made me perform it to an audience that contained two seven year old children. As karmic punishment for this I forgot my keys and had to spend the evening in a 24 hour McDonald's in North Finchley. I woke up at 7am and a crow was staring at me from the car park (You can read in detail about my experience with Beserman here).

Bad couple of days so ate some sugar as a treat, this induced a panic attack that made me unable to walk across the Embankment bridge as I had a compulsion to jump off it. Why were you walking across a bridge in the first place if you have a fear of them? Because until this point walking across a bridge had never been a problem. I had to close my eyes and sort of walk crawl on all fours the rest of the way over. Someone threw 10p at me as they thought I was a street performer.

I turned 36 and can now add walking across bridges to my list of irrational fears that includes horses (don’t trust them, arrogant), kites (the swishing) and spiders (I’ll manage the insect population myself thank you)  

JUNE
June 2016 will forever be remembered in my mind as my summer of romance.

One evening when I was leaving Aces a very attractive young lady stopped me on the door and asked me not to leave. I asked her why she wanted me to stay, to which she replied “because my mum likes you.” If you handed out a 1000 surveys that had the question if you were leaving a bar and a young girl asked you to stay because her mum liked you would you stay I’m pretty sure you’d have 100 surveys back saying no. 1 hour later back at the mums flat I’m on the verge of ending a period of 16 months of celibacy when mum made her first sensible decision of the evening and put her clothes back on before saying  “I can’t have sex with you because my 27 year old son is in the next room and I’m embarrassed.” I thought I was the embarrassed one, at which point I put my trousers back on and wished her and her son a nice evening



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TO BE CONTINUED...
Next time... Will I get my online identity back and make my mum fall in love with my Dad and stop her from having sex with me ? What had a worse atmosphere the Archway STD clinic or a gig I did in Swansea? And what could possibly go wrong when I recorded m DVD at a Holiday Inn.  

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

CORDUROY PEA COAT

When you don't want to release something for 99p on Ebay blame moths. #toptip Good feedback on the way :)


Friday, 17 June 2016

MONKEY KINGDOM



“Don’t give too many flyers out, they are quite expensive. Also don’t give any to Spanish people, they won’t come”


A small bald man, wearing a two piece suit, with a garish yellow t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a chimp over the top of it says to a flyerer in matching outfit. He continues


“Don’t really push the first show, it’s not very good and a couple of acts have dropped out”


It later transpires the flyerer will be performing at the show he’s just been told not to promote. And that concludes a motivational speech that Donald Trump would be proud of. The flyerer vanishes into the throng of Camden Market and I make my presence known to Martin Besserman, promoter and host of Monkey Business comedy club.


“I didn’t see you Harry, would you like to perform at the first show tonight?”


“No thanks, I’ve heard it’s not very good”


“Who from?”


“The promoter”


At its 15 year nadir on the eve of a make or break relaunch I’ve decided to check in with one of the original independent promoters from the comedy boom of the late 90’s. In his latest venture Besserman as he is affectionately known has crawled out of Camden Lock into the post apocalyptic Holiday Inn situated on it’s banks.

TWO CLOWNS DISCUSS MONKEY BUSINESS 



Twenty years ago riding the crest of the Newman and Baddiel playing Wembley wave stand up comedy became “cool” and very profitable.Eddie Izzard kicked off the playing arena craze, Live At The Apollo and Mcintyre's Roadshow were two of the most popular shows on telly. It trickled down and small venues fell over themselves to have a comedy night in their back room. Why have the hassle of some degenerate band with all their instruments and equipment when you can just plug in a microphone, book a couple of comedians and boost your bar take with much less risk. A big plump carcass had been felled and agents swooped from high to pick at it, PR’s swarmed and gnawed at it’s bones. Now the independent comedy circuit is rotting.  Staffed only by the lost and the doomed, performed at by ambitious tragedies and attended by scavengers clinging to the wreckage. But back then anyone could set up a comedy night and Martin Besserman did.


Monkey Business comedy club started in 2002 downstairs at a Lebanese restaurant in the Edgeware Rd. The owner gave Martin £1000 cash to promote the night and pay the acts. “It was way too much money” he tells me over coffee in Archway. The first line up was Julian Clarey, Rory Bremner and Paul Merton . The night was inspired by his regular visits to comedy institution Downstairs At The King's Head  “where you’d see real insane comedians including a man whose act was putting his big belly in a bowl of water” he tells me remembering a less careerist industrialised time. Now you'd be more likely to see an act put their five year career plan in a bowl of water rather than their belly.


No one in their right mind would recommend working over ten years as a comedy promoter. Look into Martins eyes and you will see behind the jovial welcoming smile is the broken soul of someone who has been ravaged by the vagaries of the job. As a promoter you face a constant battle against the odds. The summer months people want to be outside, you can’t compete with the marketing spends of the higher arts like theatre and cinema. There is little prestige and the economics are negligible for acts and promoters. When an act's starting out they need the circuit to hone their craft and get stage time but when they’ve made it the circuit needs them but by then it's served it's purpose. Why play an abandoned nightclub in Hull for £150 when you can do an hour of your own material at a theatre for £10,000 +


However the economics accommodate failure. As a club comedy promoter the only reason you can continue despite the numerous hardships and minimal financial income is it's relatively low risk cost wise. Unless you are a contestant on The Apprentice and the task is putting on a comedy night you’d be hard pressed to lose money on even your most ill attended nights. You can just about scrape a living together (although that's getting harder and harder). Of course there are promoters who’ve turned it into a career but that’s through signing up big name acts to tour. In the main club comedy is the domain of the hobbyist, on AND off stage, and you need a way to supplement your income. Martin thrives in the wretchedness of it, he’s the pig and the circuit is shit.




Against the backdrop of a crumbling circuit the holiday Inn is El Dorado in Martin's eyes. The  mythical venue he’s been searching for that regenerates audience with minimal effort,
has the perfect atmosphere and one he will never be replaced with at by a karaoke night.


“So this is where the busy New Years Eve gig was that secured me the venue”
Martin says as we stand in the Glass House, the Holiday Inn’s main function room. The operations manager comes striding over.


“Last time I saw you was at the Busy New Years Eve gig”


Martin repeats for my benefit.


“How’s it looking tonight?”


The ops manager asks having no time to reminisce, it’s June.


“I’ve got a party for you in July that want 80 portions of fish and chips”


Martin says making no attempt to answer the question. Classic promoter speak, reframe the quiet night. Mention a busy one. Step away from failure being anything to do with your promotion efforts. There is a tube strike, it’s champions league tonight, anything but it’s my fault.  As with most venues the only thing standing in the way of you being a long term tenant is the ops manager. Your friend in the busy times, the concerned onlooker during the bad ones and a complete stranger who will pretend they’ve never met you when you are out on your arse traipsing the streets looking for a new venue.


“That might surpass the busy New Years Eve gig”


I say, using my ten years as a promoter to get us back on message.


“Hopefully”


They reply in desperate unison. He leaves. It’s time to find out the truth.


“How is it actually looking tonight?”


I ask.


“Not good, I haven’t sold many tickets, the free comedy nights are killing me, being black listed by Time Out has really not helped. I submitted the listings to Listeria, but the new system is very complicated”


“Listeria?”


Martin looks at me like I’m the one who thinks it’s fine to submit comedy listings to bacteria.


“I need to go and flyer If you want a free coffee just head to the bar and ask.”


I do want a free coffee. They have no idea what I’m talking about and look at me like I’m the one who thinks it’s fine to submit comedy listings to Bacteria. I pay for the coffee. Showtime in one hour.


"ONE OF THE BEST MC'S IN THE BUSINESS" MARTINS WORDS OF COURSE 





There are two shows at Monkey Business. The more traditional one on stage and the avant garde performance piece that is Martin dealing with the thrills and spills of live comedy promotion. The complicated comic narratives he weaves behind the scenes are like if Mr Magoo was written by the team behind The Wire. It can be complicated with several plot twists or just something simple like him introducing an act, going to sit down, missing his chair and lying on his back like a tortoise unable to get up. Despite Martin’s great taste in acts I always prefer the Martin show as it’s real and unplanned. I’ve been at gigs where he’s done anything from stand on his head mid act to holding an audience of Norwegian school children prisoner by not allowing an interval as “there are not enough audience members and you might leave.” This was shortly after the Anders Breivik massacre. As the old adage goes comedy is all about timing.  Sadly Skynet is not online. The comedy genius has no self awareness.


Before Martin fell down the rabbit hole that is comedy promoting he sold net curtains in the market. In the evenings he was a poet who had Adam Ants manager. He opened for The Pretenders and Depeche Mode. Whilst on the weekend he’d speak at Speakers corner,a hobby he continues to this day. Monkey business has had to deal with the vagaries of freelance promotion. It’s testament to Martin's resilience that it’s existed at upwards of twenty venues. There have been many highs including regular appearances from Harry Hill, Russell Brand, Stephen Merchant and Stewart Lee but also lows which include being accused of “introducing an act as a prostitute” and “being seen as condoning an audience member throwing a shoe at an act.” Mentioning his name can elicit responses from “passionate Independent maverick who supports new talent” to “crazed sex pest who doesn’t pay acts enough.”

“In 14 years running the club I may have asked a couple of acts out but any suggestions that I’m a creep or don’t know the boundaries is completely ridiculous. Also a lot of the accusations are from acts who’s material is very weak. I’ve never exploited an act, I’m very transparent. In the history of running Monkey Business I’ve paid an act via cheque once, when I’ve not had the money on the night. The acts see the busy nights and not the quiet ones, promoters are seen as the greedy pigs of the industry. I’m entitled to make a good living as I work hard and if I do well the acts will as well.”

Lets just say if Monkey business had an HR department there would be lots of complaints. But that would be a reflection of today's politically correct corporate culture rather than an admission of wrong doing.



A BUSY EARLY SHOW 

It’s time for show one. Morrissey's very sombre You Were Good In Your Time Blares out of Martin's I-pod. He is out flyering as 15 audience members wait for “The not very good show.” to start. It’s very much the atmosphere of a Holiday Inn. The acts do well and the gig has a nice vibe. Martin returns in time to deliver his marketing message to an audience who enjoyed the first show. “That show was very low quality” he states despite having not watched it and with the acts who have just performed at it standing at the back of the room. “The next show is going to be a lot better. There are some TV names and one of the acts is pregnant, so she could give birth on stage which could be really interesting. Also a mentally ill man has present for one of the performers so do stick around.”


I know you are dying to know what happens. Will Monkey Business survive to the end of this article? Is an act actually going to give birth on stage? And why won’t Spanish people like the night? All questions that will hopefully be answered later but for the benefit of the reader  the following week I decide to perform at Monkey Business, can it really be as challenging as it looks from the sidelines.




Things are off to a frantic start as I turn up and Martin comes running over when I arrive.


“I gave the flyers and a monkey business t-shirt to a 17 year old Spanish girl and and I haven’t seen her since”


Why did you do that Martin?


“She needed the money.”


Doing Monkey Business is like the comedy equivalent of level 21 on the bleep test. Everything is stacked against you. The microphone doesn’t work, Martin Takes a picture of you mid-set (with flash on), you're lucky if he says your name in his introduction, often you’ve got to help put the chairs out, you are usually in a weird room in a weird location. Why make an act feel at ease when you can tell them that all of the evenings marketing materials were randomly given to a destitute teenage girl, but Martin is not a traditional promoter and that's what makes him relevant.


Alas, Besserman’s attempts to sabotage his own night have been in vain as an audience begins to form including a family with two young children. Their presence brings an air of tension over the backstage area. I find Martin and pull him to one side.


“Hi, I’m doing a blue set tonight I really don’t think it’s suitable for Children”


“ Don’t worry about it, I’ll go and speak to the parents”


He says marching over to the unsuspecting family before announcing


“One of the acts is doing sex comedy, is that ok with you?”


I go and hide in the toilet and cringe  By the time I come out of hiding the show is going ahead and the children are still sitting there. Martin has vanished, I assume he’s gone to look for the 17 year old Spanish girl. I’ve had to re-calibrate my sexually explicit blue set for an audience that contains minors. At one stage one of the children is visibly distracted and the mum audibly says “ pay attention to the comedian” If I was ever going to hear a parent tell an infant to pay attention to my act it was  going to be at Monkey Business. Against all the odds I had a fun gig and I’m a better comedian for it as I had to improvise and and adapt to the difficult circumstances. It's certainly not to everybody's taste, but the unique atmosphere at Monkey Buisness is original, dangerous and authentic. It’s not affected, it’s guerilla comedy that tests your mettle whether you are performer or an audience member. I’d call it “real” comedy.

It’s late at night now I leave, on my way home I realise I’ve forgotten my keys, I’ve been touched by the
A CROW PONDERS WHAT I MIGHT BE DOING WITH MY LIFE
hand of Besserman. Rather than wake my flat mates up I decide to spend the night in a 24 hour McDonalds. I feel like It’s what Martin would do. Perversely there is a weirder atmosphere at Monkey Business. I log on to the Monkey Business web-site on my phone to kill some time. In my sleep deprived state I feel like I’m now digitally immersed in the cracked, warped psyche of Besserman. Is it real or am I dreaming? Blurred pictures of acts taken mid set with quotes from them in the jokerman font in bright colours burn into my retinas, reams of email testimonials from audience members that old father time wouldn’t have enough hours to read clog my mind. There are Listings of the nights with either the wrong picture of the act or a very strange description of them, sometimes both. The crown jewel is a yearly diary that contains anything from Martin's insights on the night to under the heading of “news stories” updates about leaving voicemails on big name acts answer machines about them playing Monkey Business (If you are interested a voicemail was left for Noel Fielding in 2009 which has not yet been replied to).  I fall asleep or did I just wake up. I look out the window and instead of my reflection I see Martin Besserman’s, I scrunch my eyes now my reflection is the Monkey Business Chimp. Maybe I was Martin Besserman all along I blink and a crow is staring at me from the car park. It’s time to sleep.


THE AUDIENCE MARTIN DESERVES




Good news Monkey Business has survived till the end of this piece. It’s time for the main show, the one we’ve all been waiting for. Martin returns to oversee the door. We’ve heard about it in the marketing, we’ve been given the flyer and now it’s finally here. The doors are open. His mum stands by his side. The ops manager peers over the balcony. The first customer arrives  A man dressed head to toe in full Barnet football club merchandise. “Mum, this man has had his penis mutilated like me” Martin says. The man stands there awkwardly before saying “who wants to hear a joke” No one says they do but he does it anyway.


The TV names start arriving one by one. All but one of them asks to go on first which Martin agrees to. I do the maths, this will not be mathematically possible. The room starts to fill up it looks like it’s going to be a busy one. I can’t believe it.  Ten minutes before the show there is a great atmosphere. Martin takes to the stage. There aren’t enough chairs for the audience so TV names start putting seats out as Martin is busy MC’ing the show. The show starts off by him realising that he’s still got chewing gum in his mouth, he takes it out and puts it on the speaker. The he goes into some light racism before saying out loud that he is very good looking. Some underage children walk in. He then introduces the only act who didn’t ask to go on first.No one comes to the stage, so the acts decide amongst themselves who’s going to go on first. I survey a sold out Monkey Business. The audience are loving the chaos, it’s going to be fine. I sneak out whilst the acts are still deciding who should go on first. As long as there is an empty room in a venue that needs filling on a Saturday night there will always be Monkey Business. The thought pleases and terrifies me in equal measure long may he reign in the Monkey Kingdom.

Monkey Business is every Thursday at the Camden Eye and on Saturdays is at the Holiday Inn. See web-site for listings. http://www.monkeybusinesscomedyclub.co.uk/

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