I/Mmature Student 9. New perspectives. Love the arts.

So there’s been no Immature Student blogs this week. The reason for that is I had a go at writing a 15-20 minute bit of theatre. That took up a fair bit of time and energy both physically and mentally. What I was writing is part of a competition from our local fringe theatre group Alphabetti Theatre. We were to write a 20 minute “response play” to a play we saw there. Truth us  first year students didn’t actually have to do this but I’m a big believer in just getting something down, moving out your comfort zone and seeing what happens. I’m lucky that I’m going through a very unblocked period as a writer. There are reasons for that. Go back about 8 years and I could hardly produce a thing. A great friend of mine and fellow comedian Martin Mor gave me a book called the Artists Way. It’s a book that’s as much about therapy as it is about freeing the creative process. It eventually worked for me along with other factors that take too long to get into here.

I was pleasantly surprised when one of our lecturers advised my fellow students to follow some of its practices this week. As for the bit theatre I produced…well quite by happy accident I produced something that acts perfectly as a kind of warm up play to the new solo monologue about mental health I’m putting together. (“Solo monologue about mental health” ??? That’s new. I used to just call it stand up!) That’s why sometimes its worth just going for it. I’ll post it here once the competition winners are announced.

There’s so much to report about this week I just can’t in a quick blog that’s also supposed to entertain. . All I can say is I’m doing things that comedian me would have poured scorn on two weeks ago, but who now is looking at others and the world around him with a shifted perspective. Anyhoo this is supposed to be entertaining. I decided last week Fridays blog would be compilations of things from the arts I love. So here’s some more. have a good weekend.

Here we have Boys From The Blackstuff. The fact you’ll find no BBC drama addressing issues of unemployment, poverty and the disenfranchised on the TV just now is very telling. It’s taken Ken Loach with his new film I Daniel Blake to set the record straight. But this Alan Bleasdale drama hasn’t aged a day. If anything it’s even more important now. Go find the whole thing if you’ve never seen it.

 

 

 

Growing up in the 70s he was everybody’s favourite Doctor. Here faced with a great dilemma. He remained my favourite Doctor for a long time…well until this Scottish bloke arrived…

 

And here he is. Our latest Doctor delivering the greatest anti war speech ever of a so called “Kids show” In fact maybe just one of the best anti war speeches ever. Carling don’t make anti war speeches…but if they did…

 

Time for a musical interlude I think. There are umpteen versions of Heroes out there. But this one from the Concert For New York is among the best. This concert was a remembrance of all who died in 9/11. It was also really aimed at the Firemen/women, policemen/women ambulance men/women etc who died trying to attend to the situation.

Whether you think it was a staged conspiracy or a real event isn’t important. What’s important is the impact this song has on the service workers in the audience. Service workers who give much with little reward all over the planet. Heroes.

 

Rock and Roll is exhilarating. Dion here putting one of the last more traditional forms of that into the charts in 1961. But what they do here isn’t that far from what the next guy did with his first bands…

 

And here’s that next guy. The Sex Pistols is where as a kid I found music. They were  a bunch of kids who had the establishment on the run. What they did has never been repeated…because it has never been allowed to. They learn from their mistakes those establishment types. This song was about the current prime minister.

 

I’m sticking with the great John Lydon/Rotten. He’s done much outside his first band and will always be an icon to me. This song was taken off air because it was out at the time of the L.A riots. As always he was ahead of the game. “Burn Hollywood burn.”

 

As we’re on the subject of Hollywood here’s something they’re good at. Great action in films takes great direction. It has a story and beats to it as the action unfolds. If you just throw spectacle at it you end up with nothing. That’s why Batman V Superman was shit. When I first saw this film I thought it was the greatest Batman movie ever made…It didn’t have Batman in it, it had an assassin called Leon. But really it was a Batman film and heavily influenced by Frank Millers work in that field. This is action as ballet. Every move is perfected.

 

 

 

 

John Gets Mad. Bi-Polar Tales 2. Introductions and so who’s really mad?

Here’s another part of a new stand up show I’m putting together on mental health… I was actually really reluctant to do this at first because unlike physical disability mental hea…

Source: John Gets Mad. Bi-Polar Tales 2. Introductions and so who’s really mad?

John Gets Mad. Bi-Polar Tales 2. Introductions and so who’s really mad?

Here’s another part of a new stand up show I’m putting together on mental health…

I was actually really reluctant to do this at first because unlike physical disability mental health still carries a lot of stigma. Mind you we’re getting to a stage now where comedy audiences at least are starting to go, “Oh…another Bi-Polar comedian…that’s original.”

It’s fair to say there are a few of us out there. I was thinking of gathering us all together, forming a jazz band and calling ourselves Mood Swings.

I actually get quite jealous of the physically Disabled. They get an entire Olympics. We get a Stephen Fry documentary every ten years.

When Stephen did that first documentary on Bi-Polar. I watched it and was gobsmacked to see we both had the same psychiatrist. I though, “Well I’ve not had his comedy career, but when it comes to shit mental health I’m up there with the elites.”

I do love the Paralympics and trying to figure out what the fuck is going on at times. One night I tuned in I genuinely thought they were having a three legged race. It turned out to be the blind sprinting. They have a guide running beside them. One guy was actually disqualified because the guide was hauling him along. Mind you he was strapped to Usain Bolt. Poor guy was screaming “Help! I think I’ve be tied to a Cheetah.”

Saying that, those guys don’t get it easy either. Now that the Paralympics is over I’m sure they’ve all been declared fit for work and sent to do time in some Mike Ashley style workhouse.

My Bi-polar is a bit different from Stephen Fry’s. He’s Bi-Polar Two I’m Bi-Polar One. Not that I’m saying here…Hey! My Bi-Polar is better than yours. Mines has gold epaulettes, brass buttons and is here to save the planet. Although being the centre of the world is a common delusion of BP 1. It’s not until the finally get you into a psyche ward that you realise, “The Masons are after me.” is quite a common delusion among the mentally ill. Which initially doesn’t help. “What is this place? They’ve managed to catch you as well? Is this some kind of holding facility for those that know the truth?”

You meet people with other mental illnesses as well. I feel for the schizophrenics. Bi-Polar is quite trendy now but those guys get bad press. Sadly it’s a condition where very rarely AND IT IS VERY RARE something bad happens and someone gets hurt. Saying that if Katie Hopkins is ever to go on QI could we maybe get the Yorkshire Ripper as guest host.

Those guys have auditory hallucinations. They hear voices. That must be absolutely awful. What gets me is the voices seem to tell them to do bad things like kill the neighbours. Why do they never say sensible things like, “Hey, maybe it’s time you tidied the house….Feeling a bit anxious? Perhaps you should give your mum a phone…or hey this is God. Have you ever thought about switching to a cheaper energy supplier.”

But you tell me…Who’s really mad. Those with delusions in a made up world or those with delusions in the real world? That’s right we’re about to make someone like Donald Trump the most powerful man on the planet. He shows all the characteristics of a psychopath and you folks think that’s a vote winner. People were surprised recently when he showed some concern for Hilary Clintons health. Yeah but we never saw that on camera. He issued a statement. I can guarantee there was some fucker putting a gun to his head going, “Just say the fucking words on the paper.”

We have our own deluded type in this country. The Working class Tory. What the fuck is that? You know what that is…remember those missionaries who used to head up the jungle, meet a tribe of cannibals and go Hey we’ve got some new friends and they’ve invited us to dinner. All the time not realising they’re on the fucking menu. That’s what a working class Tory is.

So you tell me. Who’s mad?

 

John Gets Mad. Bi-Polar tales 1. (Don’t be a pain in the arse.)

I’m soon going to do a new show based around experiences of mental illness called John Scott Gets Mad. The things I post here are first ideas of what will be in it.

There’s a fair bit of hippy dippy thinking out there that goes along the lines of, “oh but if you take a medication for your mental health problem you’re not addressing the problem you’re just masking it.”

Look the condition I have is genetic. It requires treatment but is also very treatable. If it rains you put on a coat. It’s the Same idea when taking a treatment. Of course you get whack jobs like Scientologist Tom Cruise who claims all mental health treatments are the work of the Devil. Perhaps Tom if you took a pill you might have a moment of reflection on your double divorces and come to terms with the fact that your gay.

Saying that, having a mental health disability isn’t an excuse for being a pain in the arse. Or so my wife keeps telling me.

I once went on a tour to raise awareness on suicide in the highlands of Scotland. It’s really proportionally high up there. Lots of alcohol and access to shotguns.

The woman who organised the tour works with self harmers. She herself was a self harmer. She was also one of the rudest and more difficult of folks I’ve ever had to deal with. If she wasn’t trying to completely control everything we did she spent the rest of the time trying to convince us we were all self harmers. By the end of two weeks I was wondering why she had to self harm at all. I would have happily offered up a quick punch in the kidneys.

“Oh you bite your nails. That’s a sign of self harm. Oh you smoke. That’s self harm”…OK you got me there…”drink, that’s self harm”…Fuck you the reason I’m drinking is to get through the next week with you. The best one was, “If you were a Goth in the 80s there’s new evidence to suggest that’s self harm.” Are you kidding me? The reason I was a Goth in the 80s was because I liked to sleep with slightly over weight girls in fishnets. How can being a Goth be an illness when you’re in a band called The Cure???

But the biggest pain was the obsession she developed over the size of my luggage. Every day at regular intervals. “That case is TOO BIG. It’s too big for the Highlands. It’s TOO BIG for this tour.”

The reason my case was bigger than the other comics was they were all going home half way through. I was away for a full 12 days.

Eventually one night in a calmer moment everyone got to speaking about their families, partners and children. “Do you have any children John?” She enquired. “Yes I’ve got three.” I replied. “Oh really? That surprises me.”

“Oh..Well I should explain none of them are mine…no they’re all in that big fucking case I’m dragging around the place.”

 

I/Mmature Student.8 Loving the arts.

End of week 1 of looking at Drama and Script. Fantastic. Lots learned/to learn. Making new friends…Here’s some things from the arts I love….

The first group therapy. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.

 

 

Bill Hicks final TV appearance…

 

Gary Oldman chewing up the scenery in True Romance…

 

Supermans first flight into action

 

Bowie  at his most discordant

 

Talking Heads at their most energetic.

I/Mmature student 7. Bowie and Brecht.

So far today has been a lovely day, which is a relief as it’s the one I was most nervous about as we’re looking at movement, voice and getting down to techniques that I know nothing about. But the groups have been lovely and I find my self now getting quite excited about Bertolt Brecht…now you know where this is going.

So yes my main connection to Brecht is via David Bowie who studied him and was a fan. It wasn’t’ until we sat down as a group and I started to find out more about him from the other students who have studied him that I began to realise how much Brecht has influenced what Bowie did. From isolation, alienation and the “othering” of people it’s all through his stuff.

I maybe chose a bit of a fluffy example of this in the song Space Oddity when mentioning this as I was challenged by a classmate who brought up Marx and other political notions to say that wasn’t quite it. But I argue back it’s definitely in there. If I was to name Bowies most Brechtian LP I’d go for Lodger or Scary Monsters. which in themselves both sound like titles he may have given to his plays.

Anyhoo I’m now paired up with said challenger and we’ve to investigate Vsevolod Meyerhold who neither of us know for a dwell period. Cool

The Ladies of Greggs (poem)

DISSENT.

If you’re reading this outside the UK I should explain Greggs are a nationwide chain of bakers who originate from the city I live in Newcastle. I’ve heard several locals refer to them as a good employer. I can’t vouch that 100% you’d have to ask the staff. But the notion of employers treating staff well is a dwindling standard across the globe with some large areas being shoved back to slavery. I think that’s what the deliver us from evil line is about at the end…

THE LADIES OF GREGGS.

The ladies of Greggs work hard on their legs.
To bring us those pasties that keep us all fed.
The ladies of Greggs rise early from bed.
They’re the best of all mothers Ive oft heard it said.

With a smile and a cheery, “There ye gan pet.”
To say they seem happy is a fairly safe bet.

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When a comedy review becomes a hate crime. (And what to do about it.)

DISSENT.

As a comedian of 17 years experience I’ve had bad reviews before. I’ve also had a lot of good ones. But a review I came on the receiving end of recently was so unbelievably misrepresentative and packed with lies, slander and libel it had me contacting lawyers and trade union representation. So I thought I’d write about the experience in the hope that should any other artist or performer come on the receiving end of blatant lies about themselves, lies they may find being published online, it might encourage them that there are things you can do about it. Don’t ever take these things lying down or dismiss them as part of the job.

Before I get into what was said about me and how I dealt with it I feel I should maybe put the comedy that was attacked so scathingly into a bit of context for you.

Here’s a review the material in question received from the

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I/Mmature Student. 6. Great actors (and bitchin’)

Great acting is awesome. Great actors are also equally awesome. I was making some jokes about the craft the other day and would just like to clear up that I hold great acting with the same level of reverence as I hold the music of Bowie or the comedy of Hicks. I cracked a joke about Tom Cruise the other day and yet one of the finest pieces of screen acting I’ve ever witnessed is in Mission Impossible 3 where he has to first bargain, then beg for the life of his wife and ends the scene (later in the film) with silent utter devastation. All of this being played off the equally formidable, magnificent and tragic Philip Seymour Hoffman Here it is below…

 

How good is that? Now go watch the rest.

I had an acting lecture today. It was awesome. The lecturer was awesome. We were even entertained to an excellent piece of story telling within the lecture that was informative, engaging and at times hilarious. As I said. Actors are awesome. People that lecture in acting are awesome too. Is this all sounding just a bit too positive for my regular style of blog? Ah well maybe I’ve another point to make.

A more typical start to such a blog from me might go…The Actor…I am a tool. But I didn’t do that because this is a less humour based blog.

As a comedian I often encounter a common response from people. They often think whatever I am engaging in, from a chat about the weather to a discussion on Europe that it I come to it from a point of cynicism and scorn. This in itself shows a lack of understanding of what comedy does. Yes comedians can bring that to the table. But we also bring waves of empathy, joy, surrealism, tension and celebration. That’s right. We do spend as much time celebrating the foibles of humanity as we do laughing at them. Awesome.

Last week I had a meet with the second and third year drama and script students and it was put to me that we should try to engage and socialise with those studying more performance based pathways as they sometimes worry the “writers area wee bit up themselves.” I was informed there’s a karaoke night where all groups let their hair down. I in turn wrote a humour based blog about this. See here…

https://johnscottcomedy.com/2016/09/18/immature-student-3/

Now you could read this as, “Could you possibly go make a tit of yourself so the actors can feel better about themselves.” As if I comedian would be so cynical. You can also read it as., “We all have a great time together at that perfect social leveller karaoke.”

It’s hugely important to me to be accepted by performance pathways as I hope to participate in at as well. Hey we work in a trade founded in insecurity. Awesome.

In todays lecture we were shown an excellent clip of Marlon Brando being interviewed quite aggressively by Dick Cavett.  This isn’t unusual of Cavett he often had a confrontational style. He puts to Brando the question, “Why do you down grade acting as a profession.” And I think Brando deals with it beautifully. You see, as things unfold it’s actually Dick Cavett who is trying to bring grandeur, mystery and greatness to the art form while Brando tries (and succeeds) to demystify it and generally get across the point that acting is for all and not just for those with some kind of mystical elite powers.

The discussion starts around 5.40 in  clip number 3 and ends in clip 4…

 

How awesome is Brando.

Also today as groups we engaged in a brief exercise in displaying 6 emotions of acting. My groups was awe. What? Did you think I was repeating that word endlessly without reason? Hey, I write. We love our tricks. So as a group we were to arrive at an expression of awe by committee. Here’s what unfolded.

ME.              Is awe wide eyed?

ACTRESS.  Right so what are we going for here? Realism or Panto.

ME.             Is there perhaps a slackening of the face?

ACTRESS. So you want us to look bored.

So as you can see I was dismissed by the lass fairly abruptly. We’re back to those insecurities again aren’t we? Here’s the first image that came up on Googling awe…

awe

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So in this situation I think we had a wee bit of a reversal of “The writers are a bit up themselves.” Panic not. I can accept such things. As I say we’re an art form founded on insecurity. Buuuut…I will issue a warning. I wont accept such dismissiveness as things unfold. Confront, challenge, debate but don’t dismiss. Maybe I’ll develop a three strikes and you’re out system. Or two verbal warnings then a written. Or perhaps I’ll word it in the styleeee of da great bard,

“Yo! Should I unclasp this tongue, from which spits acid so potent it doth sear beyond bone and skin to thy very soul . Your word and clatter shall be scattered. Like a gasp within a hurricane…Bitches.” 

All we’re saying is…a bit manners please.

I/Mmature Student 5. Getting ahead of myself.

A CONVERSATION.

ME. OK besides how awesome Mathew Mcconaughey is (especially in Killer Joe.) How far has everyone got with Macbeth?

STUDENT 1.   I’ve finished it.

ME.                  Fuck off! Ooh Mrs Swoty knickers.

STUDENT 2. Shit! Were we to read Macbeth?

ME.                  Ah now I like this guy. Don’t panic I think we only really have to have got most of it down come Thursday. So did you read it with the notes and everything? It took me over two hours to get through the introductory notes in the copy I’ve got.

STUDENT 1.  Yes, notes and everything.

ME.                  Hmmmmnn….Your edition is probably simpler than mine. What with you being foreign and that.   (this last statement was recognised as the joke it was)

So we settled down to proper study this week. I’ve been hammering writing exercises and putting in reading hours all over the weekend…only to discover today that I didn’t need to do all that until this week commenced. So I turned up with a handful of work today which isn’t due until next Monday. This is no bad thing as  I intend to enter a playwriting competition  later this week so probably best to be ahead of the curve. On another note there was one wee bit of reviewing work we were supposed to have ready today and I was the only one who’d done it. So who’s Mrs Swoty Knickers now? I imagine this also explains why STUDENT 1 had more time than me for reading. Am I starting to sound competitive here?

On another note completely…isn’t Tim Farron an utter tit? I would take the trouble to write more about him if people actually had any idea who it is I’m talking about. Bottom of the class Tim. I’ve never seen such a fake/contrived bit of public speaking since Stuart Hall was due up in court. He says he’s got two major political policies. I’m assuming they’re Mr Wing and Mr Prayer.

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/