Tag Archives: comedy

The Changing Room by Jane Turley

I proofread The Changing Room and worked on its Book Club Discussion Points and Author Q and A. I’m very lucky that Jane Turley sent me a gorgeous paperback edition last week. It’s a joy to behold and it was a delight to work on.

The Changing RoomIt is undoubtedly the funniest novel I’ve read in a long time. Jane Turley’s natural wit and flair for sharp dialogue make this an absolute pleasure to read. She reminds me of Sue Townsend, with a good dose of Rachel Joyce: all three have a gift for seeing the humour and pathos of everyday life.

“Today, I am in the changing room of my life and tomorrow, win or lose, I’ll move forward a stronger and wiser woman.” 

Alongside the classic British comedy are deeply moving moments as Sandy looks after her mother, who is becoming increasingly difficult due to Alzheimer’s, and loses her brilliant PTA frenemy to illness. There is a strong sense of social justice, responsibility, and the importance of looking after each other and coming together in times of crisis, as well as a lot of enjoyable silliness.

It is essentially a warm, genuine and life-affirming novel. I cannot recommend it enough.

The Changing Room Header

Available from Amazon in ebook or paperback, Smashwords, or Barnes and Noble. Please read and review it.

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The Bard and The Doctor: British Institutions Re-imagined at the Brighton Fringe

England’s largest fringe festival takes over the city of Brighton during the month of May. The Brighton Fringe brings the great, the good, and the ‘that-could-do-with-a-bit-more-rehearsing’ of the arts to the seaside city. Of the 740 events, my partner and I went to see two: I need a Doctor: The Whosical and Shit-faced Shakespeare.I Need a Doctor

The Whosical runs through the story of two Whovians and their need to dodge cease and desist letters from the litigious Stephen Moffat using a questionable principle of “different, but the same”. K-9 became K-10; Daleks became Exterminators; and the Cybermen are cunningly disguised as the Cyber-Gents (who tap dance!). Different, but the same. With just two of them playing all the characters; sometimes more than one at the same time. It’s a wonderfully warm and endearing tale, peppered with songs, which only adds to a story that is best described as cute. I laughed so hard that I was close to rolling in the aisles. Here’s a taster:

ShitShit-faced Shakespeare: a team of classically trained actors stumble through an abridged version of Much Ado About Nothing, whilst one of them is, well…. shit-faced. Shit-faced, for those of a non-UK background, means bladdered. That’s just as confusing, Gazebo’d? Tanked? Hammered? Legless? Smashed? Three sheets to the wind? Really drunk basically. This thoroughly enjoyable story is made all the better as the other (non-tipsy) actors attempt not to corpse in the face of alcohol-inspired anarchy.

The compere, wearing what can only be described as Dorothy’s Ruby Red Chucks (something I must own!) a morning suit jacket and braces, is in charge of the plastered actor, directing them back to the stage when they wander into the audience in search of a lighter, a cigarette, their boyfriend, a friend, a seat to rest or just a chat. My favourite bit was when she stopped the show to tell another actor they were hamming it up too much and should have another go.

Here’s footage of them on a different night:

Both performances highlight the fantastic variety of great performers in the UK and the unique twists that have been applied to iconic British institutions. If you ever want to go on a journey in a Police Box (different, but the same) or see an actor actually go rogue with Shakespearean material then these are definitely two shows to check out. Both will be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest fringe festival in the world.

 

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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Miss Pettigrew goes clubbingThis isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned a Persephone Books title, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. Again, they’ve chosen a perfect gem to resurrect. This cheery, comic tale, set in 1930s London, begins with shy Miss Pettigrew, ‘with a timid, defeated expression and terror quite discernible in her eyes, if anyone cared to look’,  calling on the glamorous Miss LaFosse. She is hoping to gain employment as a governess, but becomes swept into a world of style, society and night clubs, becoming invaluable to her hostess.

Watson wittily adopts Miss Pettigrew’s perspective:  ‘Shocked by such flighty thoughts Miss Pettigrew took her imagination severely in hand and forced it back to the practical.’ Her upbringing as a gentlewoman initially inhibits her enjoyment of Delysia LaFosse’s more louche existence: ‘Odd,’ said Miss Pettigrew conversationally, ‘the undermining effect of flowers on a woman’s common sense.’ Miss PettigrewThe transformation of her character is simply lovely: she is physically transformed by Miss LaFosse and her friend’s application of make up, curls and a velvet gown. Her personal transformation happens concurrently. She shows herself to be intelligent, sharp and free-spirited, despite her jittery inner monologue. The little details, like the way she ensures where ever she sits she can glimpse her new self in the mirror, bring this tale to life.

This is just the sort of book that everyone should read at the start of a new year: it is optimistic, funny and has a heart-warming happy ending. It reminds me of P. G Wodehouse in style and humour. Also, the illustrations are lively and really give it splendid character.

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Podcasts!

I love words in all their forms, not just when they are written on pages; I’m rather a fan of them being said out loud. So, for a change from book reviews, here are a few of my favourite podcasts.  

I Like You – JP and Elah discuss relationships, love and a huge range of related issues. The hosts are very natural, genuine and funny. Sometimes it’s just the two of them, but often they have really fascinating guests and contributions from their families, friends and experts. One of my favourite episodes was ‘Letters to my ex’ where people shared their personal epistles, both sent and unsent, to their ex-partners. It was touching and sad and hopeful and wonderful. Massive variety is one of their greatest assets- as well as the great emotional pieces, there is an episode where they attempt to match-make through smell. Genius.

Getting Better Acquainted – This is another fantastic personal podcast. Lovely Dave chats to people that he knows in an attempt to get to know them better. He has a remarkable range of interesting acquaintances (including JP and Elah from I Like You). The chats feel mostly unstructured with a few essential questions asked to each guest. Dave is a warm and engaging host. Also, the theme song is charming and now pops into my head every time I am chatting to someone new – I want to get betterlet me get better acquainted with you!

Answer Me This! – I have listened to this brilliant comedy podcast by Helen and Olly (and Martin the Soundman) pretty much since its inception and I’ll never tire of it. Listeners contact them with questions on all sorts of topics and they respond hilariously. The rapport they’ve built with listeners is really impressive; they are sent everything from etymological minutiae to the most intimate dilemmas to broadcast. With the laughs, they also provide considered and honest responses to the queries. Jingles by their talented comedy friends pleasingly punctuate each episode.

Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown – This is like the funniest sitcom-panel show ever, but for your ears. Fantastic comedians compete to not do domestic tasks. The rounds are incredibly imaginative. The songs are magnificent (listen to the Christmas episode- their ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ is hysterically funny- round my Christmas tree we were all singing …Dame Thora Hird… and a part in godfather part three! ) The wordplay is unrivalled. When I got seriously ill last year and couldn’t sleep for the pain, this is what got me through! Laughter is the best medicine (except perhaps morphine…) and this podcast makes me laugh more than anything.

Podcasting is a really wonderful medium. The fact that they are free and not too prohibitively tricky to make and upload means it’s a really democratic field of broadcasting. I also love the interconnectedness of it- Pappy’s have recorded jingles for Answer Me This! Helen, Olly and Martin have appeared on GBA, as have JP and Elah, and Dave has been a guest on I Like You. I love that there’s this fun, inter-linked community of talented people all providing free content for our enjoyment! Thank you, brilliant podcasters! 

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