Saturday, December 31, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL - PROGRAMME 23 - TRACKLISTING

There are some very strange people about...and they all seem to be on board the final 404 Special of the year.

As a precaution, we strongly advise you avoid direct eye contact with other passengers as you listen to:

CARLA ULBRICH Swamp Thing
FLAT 29 A Warm Country Welcome
PAUL & STORM Me Make Fire
JAY FOREMAN Magnus is on Fire
TONY GOLDMARK Burn
MORNING SIDEKICK Renaissance Fair
ERIC COLEMAN Inner Voice
TVs KYLE Grumbledy
BALDBOX FEAT. POSSIBLE OSCAR USfnA
ROB PARAVONIAN I Love America

In case of emergency, pull the communication cord. (There is a penalty for misuse, but we've been told we can't advertise it because it contravenes current guidelines...and a fair chunk of human rights legislation as well.)

Given today's passenger list, don't be at all surprised if Old Father Time arrives at your place in a taxi tonight.

Happy New Year! (i.e., let's hope it's not as shit as the old one...)

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special23_eq.mp3

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL - PROGRAMME 22 - TRACKLISTING

The 404 Special is making two further journeys to see out 2011 and the first of these is available right now, taking the music business and the art of songwriting as its subject.

Subscribers to Country Music Television, as well as fans of Li'l Wayne, Jason Derulo, Lady Gaga, Nirvana, The Carpenters, and Nickelback may wish to look away now, as Richard Cray presents for your delectation:

WORM QUARTET What Your Parents Think All Your Music Sounds Like
MATT GRIFFO This is a Generic Country Song
DEVO SPICE How to Sing
DINO-MIKE All the Same
CONSCRIPTED North Shore Rapper
MORNING SIDEKICK Meds - My Story
PROJECT SISYPHUS I’ve Got Garage Band
MONEYSHOT COSMONAUTS Smells Like Karen Carpenter
BOB RICCI The New Song

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special22_eq.mp3

For more singer/songwriter-themed shenanigans, may we also recommend you listen to programme 6 from May 2010:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special06_eq.mp3

And don't forget to come back for the final show of the year on New Year's Eve!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EVE DEPARTURE 2011 TRACKLISTING

Richard Cray could have gone Christmas shopping today. But he didn't.

Instead, he made you all a brand spanking new 404 Special Christmas Eve Departure for 2011. Which is a bit fortunate, as he has no money and is spending Christmas on his tod watching that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy DVD. (That's right: just like the last eight years.)

Praise be for the abundance of chuckles forthcoming from:

ROBERT LUND & SPAFF Fun to Fly with the Fat Guy
CRANKSHAFT & THE GEAR GRINDERS Louisiana Bayou Santa
ROB PARAVONIAN Breaking Up for the Holidays
MONEYSHOT COSMONAUTS Red and Green
STEVE GOODIE Shall We Burn a Book for Jesus?
MIND MAP THAT Please Don’t Wish Me a Merry Christmas
JACOB HALLER Dear Santa
NICE PETER Santa is a Gangsta

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404specialxmas2011_eq.mp3

BUT - in true Ronco style - that's not all.

Want even more festive frivolity? (Please say yes or otherwise we'll have to come up with more aliterative balls like that.)

Then why not transport yourself back to 2009's hour-long Christmas Eve Depature show featuring:

THE LIMEYBIRDS The Limeybirds Christmas Song
MONEYSHOT COSMONAUTS Pink Christmas
THE MYDOLS Merry Freakin’ Christmas
ROBERT LUND Nuttin’ but Spam
TWO DRUNKS & A GUITAR Christmas is Over
JAY FOREMAN No Christmas
THE GREAT LUKE SKI Black Friday
SEAMONKEY There’s No Santa Claus
TOM WATERACRE While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night
CONSORTIUM OF GENIUS Winter Slay Ride
THE BANANA SESSIONS Don’t Lose Your Mind
TV’S KYLE Auto Christmas
THE HOT RODS Santa’s Too Drunk to Drive
NICE PETER All I Got
THE KNUCKLE KIDS I Got Syphilis for Christmas
JENNY JUSSELL & COUNTRY SUNSHINE Maximum Security Christmas
POWER SALAD Santa’s Gonna Telecommute This Christmas
BILL KAHLER Christmas Eve in the Trailer Park
TRACES OF NUTS I’m not Santa Claus, I’ve Come to Rob Your House
PEEPER RADIO THEATRE The 12 Days of Christmas

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special1xmas09_eq.mp3

Merry Christmas, wherever you may be...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MERRY NON-XMAS FROM JOHN DREDGE



Today, inimitable radiophonic holdall consultant John Dredge (not pictured above) invites you and your team of aardvarks into his cubic audio realm for his Nothing To Do With Xmas Show, featuring some 34 minutes of continuous weirdness involving comedic hi-jinks and peculiar yet odd skits direct from somewhere including:


  • At Home With The Human League (pictured above)
  • The Adventures of Basil the Cylinder
  • An exclusive Open University lecture on cutlery
  • Partly-acclaimed avant-garde film director David Lynch showcasing an awful track from his new album
So download this mollusc-packed show to your family's wireless replacement device of choice today by clicking HERE!

Picture posed by models

And remember: never put a washing machine inside another washing machine on Christmas Day, as it gets confusing. (I speak from personal experience.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

JOHN DREDGE: HE'S STILL HERE



Subscribe to 404 Funny for the last of four brand new Programme Shows in colour from your Master of Ceramics, John 'Teacups' Dredge to:
  • HEAR! unusual sounds the like of which have never been hearded before (probably)
  • SEE! very little, as this is an audio-only podcast
  • MARVEL! as radiophonic personage John Dredge takes you through an alarming series of odd features that cannot be described on this blog without a special licence costing £9.99 and nine-pence
  • BAULK! as many inexplicable things occur
  • STOP BAULKING! as they stop occurring as quickly as they started occuring 
  • TRY TO WORK OUT! if that is indeed how to spell the word 'Baulk'
This week’s guests do not include:
  • Barry Lurgons!
  • Frank Twiggtonby!
  • Ralph McMac!
  • Simon!
  • Pat Coombs!
  • Arthur Mullard!
  • John Conteh!
  • John Inman!
  • Willie Rushton!
All joining Bob in the big box game, Celebrity Squares! And here he is, the starmaster of celebs, the big square himself, Bob Monkhouse!!!

Yes, it’s all happening on 404 Funny - listen in HERE or subscribe HERE and win nothing at all TODAY!


Easy, tiger.

Monday, October 24, 2011

ZENCAST ANNOUNCEMENT

It has come to our attention that Creative Labs discontinued their ZenCast podcast organizer on October 1st. Unfortunately, Creative chose not to inform any of the podcast producers whose content has helped make their products and software so popular over the last five years, particularly among those who've given up on Apple and/or iTunes. To this end, we've removed the dead link to subscribe to 404 Funny via ZenCast and would encourage any former ZenCast users wishing to re-subscribe to use one of the alternatives provided in the right-hand gutter of this blog page.

We have no intention of charging for our content and we have absolutely no desire to ask for donations to meet our running costs. The financial side we can handle. Just. But the operational difficulties, lack of communication, and poor customer service both we and our subscribers have had to endure with some podcatchers (iTunes and ZenCast included), along with almost contant tinkering with social networking sites such as Facebook (which many podcasters use as their sole promotional avenue) and the complete failure of Twitter to handle its own success, have all contributed to make 2011 a terrible year for independent podcasters like ourselves. With specific regard to 404 Funny, this has meant that we've had less time and energy to spend on bringing you new content than we would have liked.

With some of the more reputable online directories not accepting new entries over the last couple of years and other directories establishing and discontinuing themselves within the blink of an eye, it has become incredibly difficult to know exactly which of these "service providers" deserves an investment of both our time and our trust. But we're always on the lookout for new ways to build our audience, and would encourage anyone with any views on the matter to email us at 404funny@googlemail.com. Hopefully, that will enable us to start 2012 in a more commanding position. Because we have plans. Oh, yes, we have plans...

In the meantime, we'll keep on producing content as long as we can guarantee a way for you to download it somewhere, anywhere, as well as doing our best to let you know as soon as we know of any hinderances to providing you with our service.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NAR DEN...

Coming to 404 Funny for the next few Wednesdays, a brand new holdall-packed series of short-ish podcasts recorded in special Sound-o-Noise.

Yes, it’s The Programme Show - featuring Frinton’s answer to somebody else, John 'Frinton's answer to somebody else' Dredge!


Listen in a not-dissimilar manner to the trio of fun-loving anarchists in the serving suggestion above to:
  • LEARN! all about the significance of the mungbean storage unit
  • THRILL! to the guest appearances of a man called Clive*
  • DISCOVER! exactly how many types of cube there are in YOUR town
Produced by producers of productions, this never-to-be-ironed series comes free*** with an unusual hoist.

The Programme Show will keep YOU in loam for literally years to come.

Listen to it – before IT listens to YOU!

Here be link: http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/DREDGEprogrammeshow1final.mp3

*Clive appears by kind permission of Ronald.**
**Who Ronald appears by kind permission of we simply don't know.
***£74bn postage and packaging fee applies.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

THERE'S SOMETHING NOT QUITE RIGHT ABOUT MARY...

Today, 404 Funny kicks off its third year with a new addition to its roster of artistes: the delectable Ms Mary Christmas.


For the next six Sundays, the sexiest siren ever to come out of Steeple Bumstead (if you discount that April 1st when the village fire engine blasted Donna Summer's Love to Love You Baby on its way to a spate of local arson attacks) presents a fearless insight into her world.

Hear what happened when Mary tagged along with Russell Brand on a pub crawl, co-produced a celebrity version of MacBeth with Alan Sugar (complete with a female lead), and was whisked away on a yacht by Brad Pitt. [WARNING: Contains delusions of grandeur and unsubstantiated gossip those with a nervous disposition and/or an aversion to Closer magazine may find distressing.]

Listen to the first instalment here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/STEEPLEbumstead1.mp3 or subscribe to our feed using one of the links at the top of the gutter on the right-hand side of this blog to hear each episode as soon as it appears on our feed.

You can also follow Mary's exploits online at:
twitter.com/MaryChristmasxx
http://marychristmasxx.wordpress.com/
www.facebook.com/MaryChristmas
www.youtube.com/MaryChristmasxx

Mary would like it to be known that Maggie Gordon-Walker is her sole owner but is willing to sell some of her shares to the right bidder.

Friday, August 12, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: PAUL HARRY ALLEN

Genial Welshman Paul Harry Allen has been performing comedy for eight years, making the final of the Hackney New Act Of The Year competition in 2006.

In addition to his many appearances on the circuit, Paul has also written for children's television, appeared in an educational programme as a frog, and shared a festival bill with those other laugh-a-minute comedians Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.

2011 sees his second solo show, Stuff and Nonsense (Laughing Horse @ Finnegan's Wake, 16:45, August 15th-26th, not 21st, free entry), in which Paul continues to follow his now well-established formula of exploiting the untapped comedy potential of second-hand goods he's found in jumble sales and junk shops. Among other things this year, we are promised "camp ceramic cats". The mind boggles. More here: http://www.laughinghorsecomedy.co.uk/dynamic/show.asp?ShowID=425

For a flavour of his act, here's a ten-minute set featuring some of his vinyl delights (his words, not mine) that bears a few similarities to the set he performed for Comedy 365 in Edinburgh 2009 but comes with the added benefit of being able to see the album covers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: JAY FOREMAN

Regular downloaders of The 404 Special will already be familiar with Jay Foreman's songs, as indeed will readers of this blog, so there's very little we can add to what we've said before, apart from:

  1. His show at the Underbelly, We're Living in the Future, is on every day until August 28th except the 16th at the very sensible time of 14:30. Tickets are priced £9 or £10, depending on the date of performance. More info here: https://www.underbelly.co.uk/node/20389.

  2. He's recently updated his website.

  3. This is a track about John Lennon from his second album. Don't shoot the messenger (as it were).

Finally, an update on Monday's post: we've heard that Mary Bourke's show has been selling out all week, so if you want to see her, get to the venue well in advance of show time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: IONA DUDLEY-WARD

On Saturday, I sarcastically alluded to the extraordinarily long lead time required to submit show information for the official Edinburgh Fringe programme.

With the Fringe's traditional start date of the first weekend in August, the programme needs to be available no later than the first couple of weeks in June to allow for pre-booking, which means each performer's 40-word maximum of promotional copy needs to be submitted by mid-April, along with the £393.60 fee (unless they want a 25% discount, in which case details need to be submitted a month earlier). Quarter-page display ads featuring a show's poster, often need to be submitted before the end of January at a cost of well over £1000.

Given that a lot of a performer's time before then is spent searching for the right venue for their hastily-titled and concept-free offering (spot all the show posters parodying films in programmes passim), it's hardly surprising that hundreds of listings in the fringe programme all read like the same show and feature little more than a load of press quotes for a show the performer was remotely involved in a few years earlier. Not exactly great when you're a punter in town for a few short days trying to choose between 2,000+ comedy shows and being charged anything up to £16 per show for the privilege.

So imagine what it's like when a performer misses one of these deadlines. Perhaps they need to get funding in place or arrange time away from their day job before confirming a slot, or maybe they're waiting for a cancellation at a particular venue in order to save some money. It's a risky strategy. Such a performer may have a show that's far more fully-formed than most others on offer, but because they're missing from the official programme they'll have to work that much harder with their flyering to stand even the remotest chance of getting more than a couple of bums on seats most days, not to mention standing a chance of persuading reviewers to come and see them as early as possible during their run in the hope that a positive review will led to an increase in audience numbers during the latter couple of weeks.

The reason I mention all this today is that one such performer who's not in the official programme is Iona Dudley-Ward, whose free character-based one-woman show Me, Myself and Iona can be seen downstairs at Rabbie Burns Cafe and Bar at 16:00 every day until August 27th, except the 17th. Thankfully, she did make the much-later deadline for the Fringe website, so you can read more about the show here: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/me-myself-and-iona.

So far, the lack of an "official" listing doesn't seem to have affected audience numbers too badly - although the show did get off to a slightly inauspicious start last weekend when a stage light fell on her noggin. It wasn't part of the show. Owch. Hopefully there won't be any further unpleasant surprises in store over the next couple of weeks; in fact, we all hope that today's show is especially pleasant as it's Iona's birthday. So if you're going along this afternoon, take along some Mr Kipling Fondant Fancies or something.

By way of commemmoration, here's some footage of the character that saw her reach the final of last year's Funny Women competition, unconfident confidence coach Lyn.



As for the Fringe programme, surely a separately administered programme for the comedy section with much later copy and advertising deadlines is long overdue, for the good of the festival as a whole? Discuss...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: CAROLINE MABEY

Caroline Mabey is a real one-off in what can often be a sterile stand-up environment, where a long line of comics (most of them male) exist for no other reason than to facilitate an interminable game of one-upmanship.

The quirky banter within Caroline's free 2009 offering, Go Go Go Coffee Show (a lunchtime show aimed at those who'd only just woken up) when combined with her eccentric attire (she greeted audience members in her pyjamas, offering very strong black coffee) and clever use of PowerPoint-based animation, proved an inspiration to many acts who had previously felt that such a technical show could not be achieved at a free venue. It came as no surprise, therefore, that when she returned 12 months later at a major-name Edinburgh venue with Eat Your Friends, there were many inferior copyists armed with a laptop and projector screen littered throughout the fringe programme.

Both of these shows also featured interaction with an onscreen animated sidekick, Kip the Coffeepot, and he's back again this time around in Caroline's 2011 show One-Minute Silence (Just up the Stairs @ Just the Tonic at the Caves, until August 28th, not 17th, tickets £9-10 depending on date), where she'll be attempting to break the world record for remaining silent. (A bit like David Blaine but perhaps not quite as deranged.)

More info here: http://edinburgh.justthetonic.com/performances.php?eventId=88:47

Historically, Caroline's perhaps been better known as an animator, having worked on BBC2's unforgettable Monkey Dust, designed the titles for the otherwise forgettable Little Miss Jocelyn, and - most impressively - created the video for Evan Dando’s excellent 2003 solo single Stop My Head.

Below is a short animation she did for a Cartoon Network sketch show a few years back. Expect to see more of this - and more of Caroline herself - on your tellies in the years to come.


Monday, August 8, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: MARY BOURKE

Today, it's the turn of Mary Bourke.

Born in Dublin, Mary started out her professional life as a burlesque dancer in San Francisco before moving into comedy more than a decade ago.

Described by one journalist as being "like an emerald in a cowpat", Mary's soft-spoken and often deadpan humour is equal parts incisive, intelligent, and erudite - yet she's unafraid to aim both barrels at the rich and famous (and even some of her comedy contemporaries) and let fly with some ferocious and highly observant putdowns.

As well as being "co-conspirator" of The Fortnight Club at London's New Red Lion in City Road, where up to a dozen established comedians (often including a big name or two) try out new material, Mary is also very much in demand on the comedy and festival circuits on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, 2011 sees Mary becoming one of the year's most experienced Edinburgh debutants, as her show Mary Mary Quite Contrary, which features a gameshow section tantalisingly entitled Tweet or Delete, marks her solo debut at the Fringe. It's free, and takes place at 16:00 every day until August 29th at The Street, 2b Picardy Place (the venue gets minus ten points for making their website inaccessible to the general public - fix that 403 error, barman).

Still, there's more info on the show on the official Fringe website here: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/mary-mary-quite-contrary.

One assumes it's because of this popularity that clips of Mary in action on the web are few and far between - after all, if you've a full diary of bookings, why bother with the more frustrating and time-consuming elements of social networking like the rest of us when you can just get out there and be seen by the public in the flesh (as it were)?

However, we did find this rare TV clip of Mary from a few years back, appearing on ITV4's FHM Stand-up Hero, which serves as a perfect taster of her irresistable style. (Trust me: my mate Tony loves her act, and he's a difficult bugger to please.)


Sunday, August 7, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: THE BOOM JENNIES

Oh dear. Late update.

Sorry - woke up late after watching Tottenham burn to the ground on the news last night, then went down the pub for the Community Shield, then went shopping, and have only just returned home to realize I hadn't done this update.

Thankfully, The Boom Jennies (Lizzie Bates, Anna Emerson, and Catriona Knox) have no such memory lapses in their current Edinburgh offering, Blowout.

Now firmly established in the annual Edinburgh offering, Ver Jennies are not afraid to try new approaches to comedy, having started as a duo (Bates & Emerson) and grown to a sketch trio before successfully turning their hands last year to a play with a bloke - eeeek!

This year, they've shrunk down to a trio again and have returned back to a sketch-based offering, but have upped the ante somewhat by laying themselves bare in front of a late night audience (albeit one at the Plesance, whose rudeness probably stops at failing to apologise after sneezing).

Quite why this witty, hilarious, kooky, and gifted trio haven't already made in-roads into the comedy establishment is beyond me. Considering the sort of ticket prices some acts are charging at the Pleasance this year, I can guarantee that an hour in the company of The Boom Jennies will not leave you dissatisfied.

The Boom Jennies: Blowout is at the Pleasance Baby Grand every night until August 28th (not 15th) at 22:45. Tickets are priced between £9 and £10.50, depending on the date of performance.

More info here: http://www.pleasance.co.uk/edinburgh/events/the-boom-jennies-blowout.

And if you want some idea of what to expect, here's a brand new video from the ladies:


Saturday, August 6, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: MARK DAVISON

So...if you happen to be venturing past the massive Three Sisters pub on Cowgate at lunchtime between now and August 19th, you might want to check out Give Me The Funnies, a free hour-long showcase featuring stand-ups Sarah Callaghan and Ben Jay.

The third performer in the show was to have been Nico Yearwood - indeed, he is still listed as appearing in many places that harvest show information from the official 2011 fringe programme, the listings for which, as any fule no, were compiled way back in 1974.

But for reasons unknown, Nico is not taking part in the show. Perhaps this is something to do with him having reached the semis of the Amused Moose Laugh Off competition for new stand-up talent - but, then again, so has Sarah. So bang goes that theory...

Anyhow, the upshot of this is that our good friend Mark Davison has stepped into the breach to form the third point of the comedy isosceles in character as Mr Susan.

Mark is perhaps best known as being the co-writer of BBC Comedy's online short Henry 8.0, which stars Brian Blessed as the aforementioned Tudor monarch and marriage addict living his life online in the present-day. Click here to watch all 14 episodes.

However, we rather like this recent instalment of Rachel Stubbings' online agony aunt series, Stubbing Out Problems, where Mark appears as Geoff in Cockfosters, a man whose issues truly come from within...



Give Me The Funnies is on at The Meeting Room, The Three Sisters, 139 Cowgate as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival every day at 13:05 until August 19th.

For more details, see:

http://www.laughinghorsecomedy.co.uk/dynamic/show.asp?ShowID=613

Friday, August 5, 2011

EDINBURGH 2011: DELETE THE BANJAX

Delete the Banjax have come a long way since we first made their acquaintance shortly after they formed in 2008.

Returning to the Pleasance for their fourth consecutive fringe appearance , the quartet of Samuel Champion, Daniel Cook, Gareth Cooper and Caroline May-Jones are offering for your delectation a show entitled Pigs and Ponies (Until August 29th, not 15th, 18:20, tickets priced £5-9.50 depending on date).

Apparently the show contains neither of the said creatures, although the Pleasance Beside has this year been described by some as "an iceberg", so you might see some polar bears if you're lucky.

More here:

http://www.pleasance.co.uk/edinburgh/events/delete-the-banjax-presents-pigs-and-ponies

Assuming they don't get done under the Trade Descriptions Act for misselling the show in its title, expect to see and hear more of DTB over the coming 12 months.

In the meantime, enjoy this clip from their rapidly-growing online portfolio of daftness:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

SEE JOHN DREDGE LIVE AT THE EDINBURGH FRINGE

It's Edinburgh Fringe time again, with all that that entails: bad food, excessive amounts of alcohol, tendonitis until Christmas, twice-weekly psychotherapy until next year's festival, and massive debt for well over a decade.

Because of these piffling factors, 404 Funny has decided not to go up to the festival this year. However, those of you who are making the journey may wish to check out the Edinburgh debut of comedy duo DREGS at the Underbelly (21:30, tonight until August 28th, not 15th, tickets priced £6-10.50 depending on date).

Appearing alongside the duo themselves (Sony-nominated Absolute Radio DJ Max Dickins and So You Think You're Funny Finalist Mark Smith) in a supporting role, making his own Edinburgh debut, is our very own John Dredge.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Underbelly website here:

www.underbelly.co.uk/node/19331

John will be putting his daytimes to use at the festival by writing some new podcasts for us, which we hope will be ready early in the autumn. We have also located some previously unavailable material from John's early days on Comedy 365, which we also hope to put out around the same time.

In the meantime, feel free to delve into our archive for some of John's many fabulous shows from the past five years. Our particular favourite is the one that features The Human League in Outer Space.

Also, keep coming back to this blog on a daily basis during the next three weeks for video content from some of our friends currently performing at the world's greatest fringe festival.

And, at the risk of being accused of overkill, let's start with this one from Mr Dredge:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

GOT THOSE PEAK-TIME COMEDY ON ITV1 BLUES AGAIN

We don’t often get the chance to see people who’ve contributed to 404 Funny in one way or another on the telly, so forgive us for blowing our own trumpet for a second.

It may not be the most original title for a comedy talent search, but Show Me the Funny, which starts airing in the UK on ITV1 this coming Monday (July 18th), plans, as so many other talent searches that have gone before, to find a new star from the world of stand-up.

Initially, the show’s producer, Freddie Foss-Smith (with a name like that, he belongs in showbiz) was said to be seeking “unknown and relatively new comedians” that “might” have appeared at open mic nights. Some, he said, may not have performed a single gig. There was even a suggestion that sketch writers and performers would be considered. However, pre-show publicity now describes the ten selected stand-ups as “a mixture of unknowns and those who have experience on the circuit”. This is quite a liberal interpretation of the terms “unknown” and “experienced”, as several of them have already at some point of their careers made the step up from the live circuit to television.

Rudi Lickwood, for example, received his first TV exposure 20 years ago, as part of the excellent team on The Real McCoy. Patrick Monahan’s appeared on TV several times over the past decade, most recently presenting the Billboard Music Awards. Tiffany Stevenson too has made several TV appearances, first as an actress in The Office and Absolute Power, and then in ITV2’s Comedy Cuts. In addition, all three have been regular talking heads on the sort of TV shows that have titles like Most Annoying / Shocking / Embarrassing (delete as applicable) People / Pop Songs / Fellow Comedians (again, delete as applicable).

Less familiar to television audiences is Prince Abdi, who, despite much success in competitions on the live circuit, has only been seen in Laughter Shock, a one-off BBC Three show filmed at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe. Cole Parker also is described as having played “big clubs, both in the UK and abroad”, but has to date made a solitary TV appearance in The Friday Night Project on Channel Four.

Thankfully, there are some relative newbies as well: Dan Mitchell, a former undertaker who’s performed over 500 gigs, Ignacio Lopez, who’s been on the circuit for two years but has only been paid twice, and Ellie Taylor, a former model who, despite never having done a single paid gig, has given up her day job to focus on a comedy career – or as much of a career as one can get out of comedy. Rather her than me.

And then there are two performers who will already be known to 404 Funny subscribers:

First off is Stuart Goldsmith. Previously half of double act Kiosk of Champions (with Richard Sandling), he’s recently turned to stand-up after previous stints as an award-winning busker, a writer for several BBC Radio Comedy shows, and appearing in a small role in BBC Three’s Coming of Age. You can also hear him in the first two episodes of Pegabovine: House of Mirth right here on 404 Funny.

Then there’s Alfie Moore, the serving police sergeant who leads a double life as a comedian. Since first arriving on the scene with flashing blue lights and all in 2008, he’s become an in-demand after-dinner speaker and has performed some 250 gigs including two stints at the Edinburgh Fringe, which is where we first met him. You can hear extracts from his sets in programme 2 of Comedy 365 at Edinburgh 2008 and programme 2 of Comedy 365 at Edinburgh 2009 - again, both available on 404 Funny.

So quite a mixed bunch in terms of age, experience, style, and background. Sure, it would have been nice to see ten acts completely new to television, but perhaps there just weren’t enough decent ones out there who the producers felt had a reasonable chance of surviving the show’s run. Discuss.

Aside from the very generous prize of a UK tour, a DVD release in time for Christmas, and £100k (imagine how many nights you’d have to play Jongleurs to earn that sort of money), the show will give all ten contestants a great deal of peak-time exposure. But this is ITV1, remember – home to The X Fucktor, Britain’s Got a Tendency to Show Off at Parties, and Simon Cowell Chooses Which Act(s) to Sign By Hedging His Bets and Signing All of the Finalists Before the Series has Even Started. In other words, it’s likely that, by the time a winner has been selected, some of those who’ve fallen by the wayside may start regretting ever having sought out that exposure in the first place.

Sure, the ten contestants will face some interesting challenges during Show Me the Funny’s run: Will they manage to come up with five minutes of top-notch (alleged) fresh material every week? Will they cope with performing in front of unfamiliar types of audience or people for whom their style of material may not be particularly suitable? And how many of the acts will end up with their heads still attached to their necks after being taken apart by Kate Copstick, the 21st Century TV equivalent of New Faces’ Tony Hatch cross-bred with the Wicked Witch of the West.

It seems there’s a very fine line between achieving that potentially lucrative future career and suffering a humiliating and soul-destroying defeat from all these modern TV talent shows, and I fear Show Me the Funny isn’t going to be any different.

Renowned headliner, MC, and all-round punsmith Tony Cowards, posting on the British Comedy Forums, sums it up perfectly:



“A bad experience…could well put you off doing stand up for life, or at the very least set you back a bit. And don't forget that bad auditions make good TV.”

One person has already gone public with his / her experience of being in the studio audience for the recording of Monday’s show, describing the event as “boring”, the jokes largely “appalling” and “below the waistline”, and the whole thing rather spoilt by the host (the very talented but hitherto poorly utilized TV-wise Jason Manford) and the warm-up act, who is not named. That said, everyone’s opinion of the show and the acts will differ, particularly after the show’s had a few days in the editing and dubbing suites.

Purely from a personal standpoint, everyone at 404 Funny wishes Stuart and Alfie the best of luck. But whoever wins, we hope that he or she is worthy of the excellent prize and that the other nine acts come away from the project better (and funnier) for the experience. If they don’t, then Show Me the Funny will have done more harm than good, and that won’t be a positive thing for British comedy long-term.

In the meantime, don’t forget, folks: other comedians are available…



Richard Cray is currently on a mental sabbatical.

Friday, June 24, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL - PROGRAMME 21 - TRACKS

Once upon a time in the Land of Pod, there was a silly old man who - for reasons we won't go into at this time - called himself Richard Cray.

Every week on a Friday, he would pretend he was the driver of an imaginary train he referred to as The 404 Special, offering up silly songs over the public address system to the few people still willing to travel with him.

On this particular Friday, he offered up:

ROB PARAVONIAN Children’s Song
MATT GRIFFO Go to Bed, Little Darling
PROJECT SISYPHUS The Emo Girl’s Favorite Things
JEFF KORNBERG What a Lousy Day
WORM QUARTET My Apologies
BEN TWISTED One Time
ROB BALDER Never Say Never
ROBERT LUND Hey, Old Stripper
FLAT 29 You’re an Old Lady Who Used to Be Hot
THE VOLUME BROTHERS I’ve Turned Into My Dad
TVs KYLE Good Advice

But sadly, before the train had reached its destination, the regular commuters decided they'd had enough of his announcements and strangled him with the communication cord, taking every precaution to make it look like suicide.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special21_eq.mp3

Friday, June 17, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL - PROGRAMME 20 - TRACKS

Today, The 404 Special opens up its buffet car, with warm watered-down alcoholic beverages, mouldy food-to-go, and refried salmonella on offer at inflated prices, all served with the medical intervention of your choice.

Please form an orderly queue for the one working lavatory as you listen to:

ROB PARAVONIAN She Brings Me Beer
MARC GUNN St Patrick Never Drank
TVs KYLE Mr Sandwich
ODD AUSTIN Taco Bell
PINK STEEL Sausage Party
STEVE GOODIE What’s in My Hot Dog?
JAY FOREMAN Matthew and Ben
ROBERT LUND & SPAFF Midol
FLAT 29 Cook Up a Little Bit of Love

How's their cooking? Visit their websites and tell them. They're listed in the right-hand gutter of this very blog. (Don't bother looking in the left-hand gutter - that's tomorrow's dinner.)

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special20_eq.mp3

Friday, June 10, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL - PROGRAMME 19 - TRACKS

Celebrities. Don't you just love 'em?

One minute they're taking out superinjunctions to protect their privacy; the next they're parading three generations of their family around a football field.

That's sort of where we start with today's 404 Special, winding our way through the whole murky waters of charitable causes championed by over-earnest famous people, and ending up roughly dissecting the state of the world - Hollywood, in particular.

(It's not an excuse to poke fun at a few famous people and some dodgy films and TV programmes, honest.)

Hoping for that Conan guest spot today are:

STEVE GOODIE Calling Dr Phil
JONNI MUSIC Preoccupied by the War
JEFF KORNBERG Fuck the Earth
NUCLEAR BUBBLE WRAP Act Pottery
FLAT 29 FEAT. THE GREAT LUKE SKI & CARRIE DAHLBY Sneaking Snacks into the Cinema
TOM SMITH New Moon
ROBERT LUND The Awful Truth About Hannah Montana
LOTZIE WEAVER They Can’t Stop You Laughing

Use the links in the right-hand gutter of this blog to visit the websites of these and other fine musical comedians, buy some of their CDs, and get them on the telly ahead of all those air-headed reality show trollops, gosh darn it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL - PROGRAMME 18 - TRACKS

Sometimes on The 404 Special, no matter how hard we try, the already tenuous thematic links between songs completely break down.

For example, planning for this edition began with the rough description Consumer Goods, then adopted an even-rougher episode title of How We Spend Our Disposable Income, before resting on the frankly awkward House and Home, and the Things We Fill it With. Which was all very well until we got to the last track and realized - way too late - that it was a song about voyeurism, rather than window coverings.

Despite this, today's tracks still manage to complement each other remarkably well, we think. So perhaps it is best to consider today's show as an audio equivalent of aesthetically-pleasing interior design.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 30-Minute Makeover team for today is:

ODD AUSTIN Kenmore Fridge
JAY FOREMAN Calypso
STEVE GOODIE Ice Cream Man
POWER SALAD Electric Razor Blues
PROJECT SISYPHUS Butt-floss Girl
FLAT 29 DIY Lovin’
ROB PARAVONIAN Particle Board
ROBERT LUND With Blinds Wide Open

Links to artist websites can be found in the right-hand gutter of this blog.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special18_eq.mp3

Friday, May 27, 2011

THE 404 SPECIAL - PROGRAMME 17 - TRACKS

...And we're back!

Yes - it's a new series of The 404 Special, and not before time. The quality control on this new series is as good as ever and we've even got a handful of new artists to bring you.

Sadly, Richard Cray is still the host. But you can't have everything, I suppose.

On today's show, you'll hear the following delights:

MATT GRIFFO I Want You Miss Clinton
FLAT 29 Factually Accurate Love Song
DAVID TANNY Girl, You Drive Me Wild
ROBERT LUND Re: Your Song About My Client Delilah
LOTZIE WEAVER The Bouncer’s Song
PRO AUDIO The King of Awkward Conversations
NUCLEAR BUBBLE WRAP Inyourendo
JOSHUA GROSVENT MySpace
PROJECT SISYPHUS O.M.G.
ROB PARAVONIAN Less from You

And, as always, you'll find links to these and many more musical comedy artists in the right-hand gutter of this blog, under The 404 Special Passenger List.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/funny404/404special17_eq.mp3

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

EAT YOUR HEART OUT, MORGAN SPURLOCK

With a new series of The 404 Special imminent and the news that documentary maker Morgan Spurlock has made a new movie created entirely by product placement, I am reminded of 404 Special regular Jay Foreman's award-winning take on Spurlock's most famous work to date, Super Size Me.