Culture

Comedians are turning to podcasts to find people to show off to

Comics have been left without an audience for their witty anecdotes. Won’t someone please think of the show-offs?

Alexei Sayle at The Soho Theatre. Image credit: Photo by Donald Cooper/Shutterstock

Alexei Sayle at The Soho Theatre. Image credit: Photo by Donald Cooper/Shutterstock

“I knew a guy who once found a box of live iguanas by a motorway,” is as good a start to an anecdote as I have heard all month. This is from the Pope Lonergan is Plimmin’ and Lompin’ podcast. Pope is a care home worker, Quaker, former drug addict and comedian, which is also as good a start to thinking, this person may well have something interesting to say, and he often does.   

The guy who found the iguanas was repeatedly bitten and whipped by their tails, but would not have a tetanus shot as he believed all such things were government-mandated and engineered to make you behave erratically and cause you to commit crimes. 

It is this mindset that leads to the iguana-bruised man expressing support for Laurence Fox and his new right-wing party which seems to be for snowflakes in black shirts. 

Lonergan sums it up as “If those are the people you are attracting, maybe stop being you”.

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Plimmin’ and Lompin’ is a very honest piece of conversation covering free speech, Frosty Jack’s Cider, women’s liberation, Finnegans Wake and anything else that is at the forefront of his very busy mind. His experience of life and his work in the care home mixed with his voracious reading make this a podcast that is a good alternative to much of the more-publicised popular opinion. You never know when it is going to turn from Dostoevsky to some disaster with a diuretic or a story of finding some sick in a tin. It is the fluid way he travels across so many levels that makes it so captivating, even when it teeters towards the nauseating. 

Lonergan began this podcast in May. The last year has seen a wild explosion of podcasts. Performers have been unable to show off to an audience and families soon got  tired of having to sit on the sofa in the front room to watch their fevered parent put on another bloody show at 8pm every night. The performers have retired to a cellar or shed and started making podcasts to get their work beyond their bloodline. 

Alexei Sayle, an inspiration to generations of comedians and a voice of righteous ire and absurdity, has started a podcast. His disdain for shilly-shallying around is clear from his announcement of the first show’s title, Keir Starmer, Establishment Tool(?). He recalls Maoist singalongs of revolutionary fervour which ended with someone singing On Ilkla Moor Baht ’at “at which led to profound discussions on why capitalism had led to a man being unable to have so much as a hat”. As a milksop, hearing confident, angry and funny voices is a boon to me as I remain sheepish in my attic.

The most recent episode is a conversation with Stewart Lee talking about finding crumbs of art in television and one of the finest of those, which is his recent documentary King Rocker about the band The Nightingales and the Midlands sculpture movement. They talk about the problems of Lee being too fat for his act at the moment, JW Stead the performer, whose act was jumping up and down really fast, and the blurred line between righteousness and selling out. 

As I have reached the question of what is ethically sound and what is grotesquely capitalist, it seems the right time to mercilessly forget all other podcasts and, in a fit of narcissism, mention the latest podcast I have done with Stewart Lee which is all about John Carpenter’s The Thing. Stewart recalls seeing the film for the first time at a music festival, sat in a tent with one stoned man watching people’s heads fall off and sprout spiders’ legs.

It’s called An Uncanny Hour and it also has someone remembering seeing The Thing while stationed at the South Pole and a physicist discussing evil from the perspective of quantum physics. What an ungracious way to end a column. That’s what happens when we rampant egotists are kept in for so long, the carefully controlled humble veneer cracks into 1,000 pieces and we all cry, “For heaven’s sake, will someone look at ME.” 

Plimmin’ and Lompin’ and The Alexei Sayle Podcast are on Spotify. An Uncanny Hour is on cosmicshambles.com

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