Ross Noble is comedy nobility. For the past 21 years, he has been one of our leading stand-ups. Over that time, he has proved himself a comic tour de force. He has been responsible for 13 sell-out tours and seven top-selling DVDs. He came 10th in Channel 4’s 2010 poll of 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.
Sam Wills needs no introduction. His actions speak louder than words. Although he claims it was an accident, there’s no denying that Wills (aka ‘The Boy With Tape on His Face’) has rewritten the rules of silent comedy. He left behind going over and over his lines in favour of scavenging the aisles of his local hardware store in search of the perfect comedy prop. The Boy adeptly blends speechless stand-up (there is a mic on stage), perfectly suited soundtracks, puppetry and extreme audience participation to create a positively unconventional experience.
London based trio ‘The Midnight Beast’ have been delighting YouTube audiences with their own brand of comedy music, high jinx videos and well played parodies. With enough hits to populate a small country, a successful E4 series and a current tour underway. I sat down with the guys to talk triple bunk beds, dirty pigeons and why they should be scared of Hollywood legend Will Smith.
Abi Roberts first rose to fame in a series of sketch shows featured both on the London stage and at the Edinburgh Festival; debuting in the satirical comedy Newsrevue, followed by Bleeding Arts and A Touch of Roberts and Roper, the latter co-written with the British stand-up Matt Roper at Jermyn Street Theatre.
A refreshing and brilliant spin is put on the found-footage flick with End of Watch, the latest film from writer-director David Ayer. Unlike anything you have seen before, the film will hit you with full-force and leave you feeling completely drained by the time the end credits roll.
End of Watch focuses on Officers Zavala (Michael Pena) and Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) as they uncover a shocking secret that makes them the prime targets of a local ruthless drug cartel.
End of Watch wastes no time and begins with an overwhelming Need For Speed-style car-chase that throws the audience into the front seat and in the position of a police officer in hot pursuit. Right from the onset, the film grips like a vice and refuses to let go. Whether it be the hard-hitting action sequences or the moments of poignancy, End of Watch is thrilling and engaging for its entire 109 minutes.
It is considerably rare to see a film that can successfully mix action and romance, without leaning too far to the either side. Thankfully, End of Watch thrives on its ability to blend its moments of sentiment with the scenes of action, making it appeal to a vast audience. It may look like a film that will only please action fans, but this could not be further from the truth. End of Watch covers universal themes that everyone can enjoy and relate to.
End of Watch explores love, loyalty, death and family in an equal manner. However, the themes are not split into chunks and divided over the run-time; instead they are intertwined and overlap each other. The strongest sections of the film are the ones that have you on the edge of your seat with a smile on your face. This is thanks to the incredible performances by Pena and Gyllenhaal. The fantastic chemistry between Zavala and Taylor makes for such an unforgettable and incredible viewing experience. Neither actor dominates the screen; the two bounce off each other and in turn, create a friendship that is both wholly credible and undeniably absorbing.
Underneath the hard-hitting and explosive action there is a film that hits hard for much different reasons. The bare bones of End of Watch sees it as a buddy movie; a touching tale about two best friends who have a job that pushes their friendship to the limit. The stand-out moments exploit the wonderfully witty and truly sincere script that has been perfectly written and is delivered equally as well by the two leads. The audience gets to know and love the two policemen and the whole film builds up superbly to the heart-stopping and downright devastating ending.
The longer it is on the screen, the better it gets and the closer it creeps to its end the more you will wish it didn’t have to. For a film this tiring to watch, to not become tiresome is a sign of brilliant direction. David Ayer has a worthy contender for one of the top films of 2012 here, and that really is a fantastic surprise considering End Of Watch probably didn’t make many people’s lists of most anticipated films of this year.
Ayer has created something refreshing and much-needed for the near-exhausted found-footage/hand-held camera sub-genre of filmmaking. As it doesn’t totally devote itself to the found-footage idea, End of Watch does not succumb to the clichés and stereotypes often seen within these films. It chops and changes; keeping the audience guessing and doesn’t spiral into complete predictability.
Not only is End of Watch a complete adrenaline rush from start to finish, it has a massive heart to go with it. Beneath the hard and exciting exterior, there lies a wonderful story that is sprinkled with a perfect helping of comedy and romance.
PPSF Rating: 8/10
End of Watch is released in the UK on the 23rd of November.
Here’s the official trailer to get you on the edge of your seat in the meantime.
Phil Nichol, acclaimed actor, award winning comedian, producer, presenter, writer and musician. This year, he performed his 14th solo show Phil Nichol Rants at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to rave reviews all across the board whilst also appearing in Dave Florez’s drama The Intervention. Now, six years after originally recording his two shows Nearly Gay and The Naked Racist, which were never originally released on DVD, they have both been unleashed.
Over the next few days we’ll be posting postcards from various comedians appearing at Dave’s Brighton Comedy Festival. Our first one come’s from Lloyd Langford. Watch this space for more:
What are your top 5 things to do/ see in Brighton?
1) Watching Dan Atkinson spending over ten pounds on the pier trying to win a snow globe at the penny waterfalls.
2) Have Eggs Benedict at Nia. Delicious!
3) A snoop around Wax Factor on Trafalgar Street. Excellent choice of second hand music and books.
4) I like a stroll along the promenade in the sunshine.
5) Fish & chips at Harry Ramsden’s. He was a sort of Northern Ronald McDonald.
Which is your favourite bar?
The Komedia, after everyone else has left, and it’s just the comics and the staff.
What about your favourite restaurant?
I’m going to say Bill’s. I took the piss out of the manager at a gig once then she gave me a free meal.
Tell us a shop you love and what have you bought there?
Prowler. I’ll answer this question with a photo.
Tell us a little story – What’s your funniest, weirdest or happiest Brighton experience?
I got invited to a house party at Katie Price’s next door neighbour’s house that involved skinny dipping, fancy dress and indoor petanque with some sort of alcohol-based penalty system. That was pretty memorable.
[Photographs: Andy Hollingworth]
Rob Rouse, comedian, actor, writer, presenter, radio personality and all round lovely man, seems to be one of the hardest working men on the comedy scene. You’ll no doubt have seen him on the likes of Dave’s One Night Stand, Celebrity Juice, 8 out of 10 Cats, to name just a few of his numerous TV appearances. He took the time out to speak to PPSF about his life as a performer, this years forthcoming tour and firstly, playing the trumpet…
First off, how are the trumpet lessons going, I’ve been following them on line?
Thank you. It’s good to get another disciple of the horn on there. I think I’ve shown a lot of improvement. I’ve nearly done my 10,000 hours and, once I’ve done that, I can probably, officially, sign myself off as the world’s greatest trumpet player. I don’t try and over think it when I play. I try and feel it. You don’t want to over analyse these things. Just to let the music out is one of the messages I try and get across.
You’ve been doing this for a long time. What was it that made you step on stage for the first time as a comedian?
At some level there are circumstances and stories, or narratives, as to how it happened. I think ultimately, to agree to do it, and to keep doing it, there’s some kind of deep rooted personality flaw, insecurity or borderline mental issue that all stand-ups have got that makes them somehow rationalise what they’re doing. For most people this is the antithesis of what they’d want to do with their day. It’s a terminal illness.
I balance this odd night work and shambolic, irresponsible career with a family life, so deep down, I’m just as sensible as any one who, quote unquote “does a normal job and in fact if anything”. As I get older, the more I think about it, being able to stand on stage and shout and scream and swear at strangers is a really healthy thing to be able to do. I’m lucky to be able to do it because all the stuff you couldn’t scream and shout about, if you worked in an office, I can scream and shout about and get people to laugh at and I get paid for. The more I think about it, it’s quite a healthy thing for me to be able to do with my time.
How long was it before you were able to quit the teaching and become a full time performer?
I was lucky. I finished my teacher training course and moved to London in ’98 to start doing open spots because in Sheffield, where I was at the time, there wasn’t a comedy scene at all. Then I won ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ up in Edinburgh and off the back of that got some University tours with Brendan Burns. That enabled me to live off it, hand to mouth, with a bit of temping in between but really that was me, on my way, just eking out a living, but able to do it full time.
You seem to have done everything; acting, presenting, stand-up, radio. Is there anything you enjoy more than the rest?
Lots of things have come along. It’s been a lot of fun. However, throughout the whole thing I’ve always done stand-up. There’s that bit of you, as a comic, that thinks, if I stop I’ll forget how to do it, become out of shape comedically. You feel like you need to be sharp to do it. It’s a funny thing; it’s goes in waves of admitting to yourself that that’s what I am. I have comedian on my passport now.
Are there any gigs that stick out in your memory as the best or worst experiences?
I think, like a lot of comics, you only seem to remember the last few, because you only feel as good as those. I did a gig with Sarah Millican and she was telling me about her rule – the 11 o’clock rule. Whether she’s had an amazing gig, or if something happened that she didn’t like the previous day, by 11 o’clock the next morning, that has to be it. I think it’s a healthy way to look at your life., If you’ve had a difficult show the night before, by 11 o’clock, boom. It’s over. It’s dead to you. If you had a great show the night before, you can’t then think “Well tonight’s show I’ll be just a brilliant.” It makes you refocus. It’s sensible, as a general rule of thumb.
It’s hard to pick out one, but ultimately, what it comes down to is when you really connect with an audience, it transcends what the material is, who is there, what happened. It’s almost like it’s just happening and you’re just part of it and all of you are connected in this crazy, lovely moment. It’s hard to pick it apart and analyse it because it’s just a great feeling.
You did a big walk for Oxfam last year. Are there any charities in your sights for the future?
Yes. I’m always open to stuff, doing interesting things. As I get older, and the more I do, the more of life I see, the more I realise that sadly, we live in a cruelly greedy world and it’s a sad fact that we have to raise money full stop. But then I guess that’s human nature, isn’t it? There’s greed and benevolence out there but the more I realise I live a charmed life, the more I don’t want to end up feeling disconnected from the world. You’re a long time dead and no one ever dies wishing they’d spent more time at work. It’s about finding a balance.
Now, you’re next tour, ‘Life Sentences’, starts on the 28th of September, in Crawley. Are you ready to go?
Yes! I’m chomping at the bit a little. I feel like a greyhound in a trap, ready to go.
You’re going all over the UK. Where are you looking forward to visiting?
There were little places that I found last year, that I’d never done before, like Chorley Little Theatre. That was a spectacular place. I’d never been there. I’d never seen the place or and knew nothing about it but it was incredible with an amazing audience. To be honest, there wasn’t a gig last year that I didn’t love. They’re all fun. It would be cruel to try and pick one out. The bottom line is, no matter how many people come to see your show, they’ve come to see exectly that and it’s brilliant. It’s great being out of the clubs and not hearing another drunk man from the back that claims to have shagged your Mum! It’s great when you get to do your own show and push what you do further and do more with it and express yourself; let it all hang out.
And post tour, what does the future hold for you?
I’ve got a couple of scripts that I’ve got people reading. Other than that, I’m going to keep making short stuff. I’ve got another Stephen Redgrave film I’m editing. I did a live gig pre-Olympics, shot on three cameras, so I’ll probably put that on my website. Basically though, just more writing, more touring and probably a holiday with my wife and kids.
Rob’s tour starts on 28th September in Crawley and travels all over the UK. Details can be found, along with lots of other funny videos, on his website.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook to keep up with all the latest comedy goings on.
If you’ve already heard of Charlie Murphy then you’re in for a treat. If you haven’t, you’ll wish you had after reading this. If you didn’t know, Eddie Murphy is his brother and he is every bit as talented, has so much of his own potential and definitely has his own style. He started gathering the right kind of attention and acclaim with his work on the U.S TV hit Chappelle’s Show. Since then he’s released DVDs, toured, been in many movies including ‘Night at the Museum’ and is hopping over to pay us a visit next month to perform his new show ‘Acid Trip’. We are a lucky bunch. Here is what he had to say to us when we gave him a call…
Charlie Murphy! What’s going on man?
Right now, what’s going on is I’m alone in my house watching the news man, in case something I can take to the stage occurs, or something I have already taken to the stage has progressed.
You’re not the only comedian in your family. Is funny in the Murphy blood? Are there any more to watch out for?
Oh absolutely man yeah. My Dad was a comedian. He never became famous for it, nor was he able to make a living from it, but there are a whole gang of us. There’s a whole new generation of us. My niece has been on TV several times – she’s one of the spokesmodels for ‘Dark and Lovely’ hair products. My nephews, Eric and Christian, are doing music. Yeah, look forward to seeing some more Murphy’s. My son Charlie is an actor, my son Xavier has dabbled in comedy but he’s only 13 so he doesn’t know what he wants to do. But there are going to be some more Murphy’s man, definitely.
Chappelle’s Show has received so much praise by critics with its unique brand of comedy that mixes both stand-up and “hellacious” sketches. What was it like working on such a popular show?
Liberating man! I had done several things prior to Chappelle’s Show and people saw my work, but I wasn’t that ‘out of the box’ per se. People had seen me in a few things, but they still thought I was Eddie Murphy’s brother. If I worked on a movie, everybody else that was in the movie was themselves but I was Eddie Murphy’s brother. I probably should have knocked it out of the way, but, at the same time, it’s human nature. It’s not fair, but human nature is life. If people see an example of success in a family or a blood-line, whatever, whoever it is attributed too, they all just assume that they are the only one who has anything you know and everyone else is just trash. And that’s not true, but they do that automatically and it definitely wasn’t true in my case. So Chappelle Show took that away from the public. There was no room to go ‘oh, its Eddie Murphy’s brother’ because everybody would be saying ‘Charlie Murphy!’ Some people have a nickname, but it was my own name they were yelling at me which took that spell off me. I was able to be called my own name. I had some times where people would come up to me and go ‘you’re Eddie Murphy’s brother right?’ and I’d say ‘Do you have a dog?’ and they’d look at me strange and I’d say ‘What do you call your dog? You call him by his name right?’ Well I’m not ‘a dog’, but then they’d get it. They didn’t come over trying to intentionally be disrespectful, but it goes on man. They see celebrities and they get nervous and do something that isn’t smart. In that case, even before I was a celebrity, I wouldn’t allow you to come and lower me even by accident, by calling me out of my name. If I do that to a woman, that’s called disrespectful right? It’s the same thing. If you don’t call me Charlie, which is the name with which I was born, you call me something else, because of somebody else’s accomplishments in the world, then you have to be prepared to meet my presence!
What is Dave Chappelle like as a person?
Very cool and very open. He didn’t have an ego. A lot of people are unapproachable. If a guy is known for humour and you come to him with yours, he’s likely to be like ‘how dare you tell me what’s funny.’ You know what I’m saying? But he wasn’t like that. If he liked something, he liked it. It was because of him that I was even seen. When I was on Chappelle’s Show I wasn’t under contract. I got paid 500 dollars an episode! That’s how much I got paid to be on the show, but it was because Dave was demanding me, saying ‘we’re using him again’. What took the show to the level it got to, I had a lot to do with that.
Apart from Dave you’ve worked with such big names such as Spike Lee and Ben Stiller. Is there anyone else you want to work with?
Anybody that’s good! Anybody that’s talented! I want to work with the best, man! In this profession there are some really top level people you get to meet and that’s who I want to work with.
What has been the best part of your year so far?
This year? The stand-up. I’ve done the TV stuff here and there, a little writing, but the stand-up is what has been persistent and the last 12 months have really made my 2012. Right now were getting ready to travel from the North Pole to the South Pole (figuratively). We went from Iceland to Auckland, in New Zealand. We’ve done Canada, Scandinavia, Australia and now were getting ready to come to the UK. It’s a completion. By then I will have been to 11 countries. To me, that is a tremendous accomplishment as a stand-up comedian and something I will be proud of for the rest of my career. I put together a show and it took me all over the world.
What can the UK audiences expect?
Laughs! I mean that’s why you go to a comedy store, right? *laughs* You expect to laugh! And if you want a definition of me, there’s plenty of me. I had a DVD out in 2009, ‘I Will Not Apologise’. I have pages full of material, videos on YouTube and a website. If you want a definition of me, it’s better for you to make up your own mind. I have the audience behind me to testify for what I’ve done. Type my name into YouTube and see all of the places in the world I’ve been to, all of the fans, and one thing that will be persistent in those videos is that everybody who came to my show had a good time. That’s all I’m charged with doing, and that’s what you can expect when you come to my show.
Top man! So, how do you enjoy personal time?
Rest! That’s what you’re supposed to do! There are people who beat their heads against the wall going ‘Aaah, I’m bored!’ but when there’s nothing to do then it was written for you that that’s when you’re supposed to take a break. Follow the lead. Take a nap, rest your body and rest your mind. Go find a place to sit down and think and go over your plans for your future. There’s always something to do.
Inspiring words, I’ll surely be heeding that advice. Hurry along to get tickets to go see Charlie and join the huge pile of fans he has worldwide. Get yo’ bad self over to: http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/Charlie-Murphy-tickets/artist/928068
For a taster of the man himself, check out this video. Has me in stitches every time: