Stanhope Strikes Back

Doug Stanhope

There are still a good few dates left of Doug Stanhope’s current UK tour, and personally I think you have a moral obligation to at least attempt to go to one of them.

We did.

Red Eye sent our best reporters to his gig in Bradford last month, so that we could put together a thorough and enlightening review of his latest material, as we thought this information was in the public interest. Unfortunately every single member of that team fell victim to what can only be called, a dangerous and repugnant level of alcohol consumption. When they finally rolled into Red Eye HQ, several long days after the initial assignment, not one of them could string a coherent sentence together, recollect anything about the show that they had attended, indeed it seemed to us, that all they had managed to achieve over that fateful weekend, was to get massively shitfaced.

We can only apologise for their conduct and confirm that no review was submitted to this blog for publication.

Our only advice to Doug Stanhope fans who may be reading this in order to determine whether the show is worth seeing, is to stop endlessly googling shitty reviews of your so-called hero, buy a fucking ticket, and see the goddamn show for yourself. Stop looking at others to tell you how to think. If you like this guys stuff, go and see him while you still can, you revolting, mindless bottomfeeder.

If you’re still unconvinced about whether you should spend your hard earned sheckles on a Doug Stanhope ticket, sort your life out and check out his blog here.
His merciless annihilation of Allison Pearson forms a strong thread throughout his new show. It will make you piss. And he doesn’t even mention kick-fucking girls with cerebral palsy or anything…

Here’s a taster:

This is the arrogance of a media that is beginning to realize that they no longer have a monopoly on public discourse. People like Allison Pearson are dipping their toes into the internet, into the medium that is quickly making them irrelevant and they are shivering at coldness of their own sudden vulnerability.

It used to be that people like me were at your mercy, Al-Zebub Pearson. If I said something considered mean-spirited or off-color on stage, the papers could lambaste me in the press with impunity. Now the shoe is on the other foot as we, the people have columns and readers of our own. You wrote what I found to be loathsome, I gave you a bad review and all of a sudden the flurry of email you’re getting isn’t so pretty.

You are a moribund Vaudeville act. And you can either sink with the ship or come into the future where you are gonna have to hear what people think in whatever language they choose to use. If you google my name or read the comments on any one of my Youtube clips, you’ll find boatloads of comments that are far worse than any of the slings and arrows you or even Fabrice Muamba suffered. It’s par for the course. And if anyone ever went to prison for even a minute because of the viciousness of their online attacks on me, I would campaign endlessly for their freedom.

Enjoy your breakfast.

redeyewitness

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Reflections on another Black Mirror

Black Mirror 2 - 15 Million Merits

The second installment of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror leads us to another implausibly grim vision of the future, but the main difference between The National Anthem and 15 Million Credits, is that the latter is actually rather good.

Co-written by Kanak ‘Konnie’ Huq (of Blue Peter fame) and directed by Euros Lyn (Doctor Who), this modern fable is a surprisingly entertaining glimpse at a possible future dystopia. We can only guess that what unfolds is society’s answer to the impending energy crisis, as people are put to work on millions of exercise bikes to fuel a hi-tech, computerised existence, obsessed with mindless entertainment and online living – distractions from their slavery.

The plot is much more emotive and engaging than the first episode, with characters you actually care about and everything – and it does what all great satire should do, which is to push the current way of things to the extreme, in order to reveal some hidden truths about their nature.

It’s also really heartening to see some proper Science Fiction back on the television. The best Sci-Fi uses the future to tell us about the present, and 15 Million Credits does this better than most. Its exploration of the cruelty innate within Reality TV shows like The X Factor is undertaken by pushing them further in that direction. Its subversion of the idea that social networks somehow bring us closer together, its parody of throwaway digital culture, web advertising and online pornography and its use of a Microsoft Points-style credit system in place of a currency – all have deep sociological and psychological resonances with the new ways we have begun to live our lives through technology.

Black Mirror’s dark future is like our own world with the volume turned up, and what is reflected back is not a pretty picture. Most worrying of all is how the technology is used to placate us, used to make the population do the bidding of the powers-that-be, by removing people’s freedom of choice and disempowering them, while making them believe they are actually getting exactly what they want. In full high definition. Just keep peddling and saving up those credits and all your dreams will come true, citizen. It’s the same lie we’ve always been told, and the black mirror of the ubiquitous LCD screen reflects both that, and a ghostly wan imitation of our vitamin D-deprived faces. Now plug in, shut up and resume viewing.

This is a very clever caricature of our increasingly digital world, the full consequences of which, we are still oblivious to. Let’s just hope Brooker and Huq’s vision of a malevolent force behind the network is just another dark fantasy and not a true sign of things to come.

Can’t wait for next one now…

Watch On 4OD

First Impressions on Black Mirror

Black Mirror Part 1 - The National Anthem

Unbelievable, nauseating and bleak are all suitable adjectives for the description of Charlie Brooker’s latest satirical drama, Black Mirror. When I heard about the premise, I suppose I was hoping for something akin to a dramatised Brasseye Special, or Nathan Barley with added politicians and bestiality – but struggled to find the humour in it to be honest.  The TV-crime-drama aesthetics and tempo also put me off a bit, and the implausibility of the plot left me cold.

Having said all this I will still be watching the next two instalments of this mini-series, as I’m interested to see where he takes it next. Certainly, the YouTube generation is ripe for satirical analysis, and holding up a “Black Mirror” to the unseemly side of our digital lives and the effect it has on society and politics, is virgin territory that needs to be charted. And who better than Charlie Brooker to have a go!

I hope the next one is either more believable or more comedic, as I think The National Anthem fell between two stools, in so much as it was neither, and needed to be both, to be all that effective as a satire on our networked zeitgeist. The first episode felt like watching someone’s dark fantasy made real, rather than a future history playing out – but maybe that was the point Brooker was trying to make – that the internet age can bring that dark fantasy one step closer to being real. And that people will watch it. In their millions…

Watch on 4OD

Life’s Too Short

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are at it again, writing and directing their latest situation comedy for the BBC.

Life’s Too Short combines elements of The Office and Extras, but with a new slant on proceedings. This series features Warwick Davies (Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, Willow) as the lead role and all the things he gets up to in order to raise his profile and drag himself out of the massive tax debt he has run up. It transpires very quickly that this is due to his incompetent accountant who he can’t get rid of, as he considers him a friend.

Warwick Davies is a brilliant actor and although he has obviously taken influence from Gervais for this role, he performs as if he has been in comedy for years and should not be overlooked….. no pun intended!

Whereas The Office is a full on Mockumentary, Gervais and Merchant have cleverly designed this sitcom to feel a lot more like an actual documentary, as everybody plays themselves (albeit characterisations of themselves) and includes references to actual events which makes for great comedy and even more cringe-worthy situations than you have seen before. The correlation with Extras comes from the inclusion of film stars, although because of Ricky Gervais’ Hollywood status he is now able to incorporate the likes of Liam Neeson and Johnny Depp, both delivering outstanding comedic performances in very different ways.

I did notice a few people on social networks being quite negative about the show after the first episode, with the main criticism being; it was just more David Brent but out and about and played by a dwarf, however I personally think there is much more to it than that and with the self referential jokes included in the second episode, it is clear that the potential for public opinion swaying that way was not lost on the creators.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet and/or enjoyed any of their previous work. Gervais and Merchant are two of the best comedy writers around at the moment and long may their careers continue.

Click here to catch up on BBCiPlayer.

Rap News 9

Buxton’s BUG

BUG
Adam Buxton
“I tell people that BUG is like going round to a friend’s house and having him open up his laptop and show you interesting and amusing things he’s found or made, except not as tedious and shit as that sounds.” Adam Buxton

We went to see Adam Buxton present BUG last night at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, with no real preconceptions whatsoever.

Well, maybe one. That it would be something akin to watching Rude Tube live, but with more interesting beats and without that curly-haired twat.  Thankfully it was nothing of the sort.

Sitting in an art-house cinema to watch cutting-edge music videos was a novel enough experience in itself, but the focus of the evening was definitely the host, Adam Buxton, who was in fine comedic form, making the whole experience much more like live stand-up comedy than anything else I can think of.

He would be the first to admit he has been off the public radar for a few years – in “TV Jail” as he puts it! But he has still been very active in the digital realm, carving out his own surreal style via his Youtube channel. While incarcerated in obscurity, Buxton has embraced the viral and assimilated this culture into his comedy vignettes, which seem just as playful (but a lot less infantine) than his seminal work with former partner-in-crime, Joe Cornish. As a childhood fan of The Adam and Joe Show it’s really nice to see his comedy mature and develop as I do.

The whole evening had a really relaxed and intimate atmosphere – like you really were round his house, peering over his shoulder while he showed you his favourite online clips. My only criticism of the event was that it didn’t last quite long enough. I could easily have stayed into the small hours watching music videos with him. It felt like I was hanging out with an old mate of mine that I hadn’t seen for a few years, and it seemed like the rest of the audience felt the same.

The music videos he showed us were also of high quality. Alongside more obvious (but still great) choices like Roots Manuva’s Witness The Fitness and contributions by the legendary Cyriak, there were also some great videos that had passed me by, and I enjoyed this aspect as much as the comedy. If you get chance to go see one of these shows, do so!




Some of Adam Buxton’s new material:


Adam Buxton’s website

BUG website

redeyewitness

8 Billion Year Sentence for Bankers

Bankers in Prison
“One way to deal with this would be to make the rules consistent. So after an inquiry into the riots, the gangs would be given eight years to separate their regular mooches round shopping centres from their time looting Dixons. Or we could apply the same sentence to bankers as to looters for each pound’s worth stolen. So as one looter was given four months for stealing two bottles of water, the average banker would be jailed for around eight billion years, though obviously they could be out in four billion for good behaviour.”

Mark Steel writing in The Independent.

Funny and a good idea!

Read the rest here