G live

A PAIR of 2-Tone legends are heading to Surrey on Thursday (14 Nov).

The Selecter will be joined on their 40th Anniversary Tour by Rhoda Dakar, lead singer with The Bodysnatchers, at G Live in Guildford.

The Selecter, still led by the queen of ska Pauline Black, will play a set packed with old hits like On My Radio, Three Minute Hero and Too Much Pressure, as well as tracks from their most recent album, Daylight.

QUEEN OF SKA – Pauline Black with Arthur Hendrickson

Black will be accompanied by fellow original member Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and their politically-engaged songs remain as relevant today as when they originally hit the charts alongside labelmates like The Specials and Madness in the late 1970s.

While Dakar’s career began as lead vocalist with all-woman 2-Tone band The Bodysnatchers, whose first single was double A-side Let’s Do Rocksteady with Ruder Than You, she later sang and collaborated with The Specials. On this tour she will be warming up the crowd with a DJ set.

There’s some sad news involving UK-based Canadian gag master Stewart Francis…Into The Punset is his farewell tour.

However, he’s promising to go out with a show that proves he’s at the peak of his punchline-making powers.

“For me, it’s a happy conclusion as I’ve left the best til last,” says Stewart. “I’m thrilled to bits with what I have and it’s nice to go out on a high, like when the athlete that throws the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl then retires.”

HIGH NOON – The sun is setting on Stewart Francis’s comedy career

He’s pretty confident the farewell show will go well as he’s been trying it out on the folks back home.

“I’ve been doing it in Canada, my home and native land, where I got to workshop it and get it into my brain,” explains the Toronto-born comic. “I write solely for British audiences, so I was doing jokes there that I knew full well the Canadian audiences wouldn’t really appreciate. But I had fun with it by stepping back from the joke to tell them what I’m going for in it and when I repeated it, that would generally be a nice moment. There’d be some sarcastic laughs…but what are drunks like?”

Having arrived in the UK over a decade ago, Stewart has cultivated a strong following among critics and audiences, aided by TV appearances on the likes of Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo, but fully consolidated by joke-heavy live shows such as Tour De Francis, Pun Gent and Outstanding In His Field. And at the Edinburgh Festival of 2012, he won the Dave Joke Of The Fringe Award for this perky one-liner: “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.”

“From my perspective, British and Irish audiences are so comedy savvy, so I don’t have to pull a big cheesy smile after every punchline to let you know that the joke’s over and you can now feel free to laugh,” he says. “With my dry, deadpan humour, I can just leave it out there and the audience will connect the dots.”

Stewart admits to feeling no extra pressure to make Into The Punset an extra-special one, and his joke-writing process for this show hasn’t changed. “I just come up with the gags as and when. I’ve got the template for the show down, so as I come up with a new gag I try to work out how I can put it in there. But for me, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and that’s how I can carry on with my day without being obsessed with writing jokes. I just feel the sunshine on my cheeks and if I come up with a gag, all the better.”

The big question, then, is what comes next for Stewart Francis?

“I’m going to step away from comedy and focus on acting which is another passion,” he says. “When you’re a comedian, casting directors can be a bit lazy and think, ‘well he’s just a comedian’ but I’m not. I think I have some significant acting chops and I want to prove that to myself and to the world. But when you’re wearing both hats as a comedian and an actor, you can be taken less seriously; so I want there to be a real separation.”

So, anyone thinking that this ‘farewell tour’ could be one of those fake finales which some bands have announced down the years only to return and tread some more boards shortly after, you’ll have to take Stewart on his word.

“I saw Simply Red’s last show at the O2 three years ago and they came back out a year later!” he exclaims. “I have way too much respect for the audience to do something like that. People don’t know me well enough to know how much I value the crowd and how much I appreciate their time.

“Even if I did want to come back, I wouldn’t do it, I’d get a job doing what I needed to do, because I try to be a man of my word. Sadly we live in a world where there’s all this cynicism and some people might believe that it’s just a publicity thing. It’s not. Andy Kaufman is dead, he’s not coming back, and this is my last tour.”

To date, Stewart’s acting CV features the likes of Canadian comedy An American In Canada, US legal drama Kevin Hill, and British sitcom Not Going Out, but is there a particular type of role he’s on the lookout for?

“I love my fellow Canadian Will Arnett, he gets the most wonderful parts,” he muses. “But I’ve been watching The Assassination Of Gianni Versace recently and I’d love a part like Darren Criss has on there. That would be juicy. Honestly, I want to be the Disco Killer. I can do the eyes so I’m good to go.”

Stewart Francis will bring Into The Punset to G Live, Guildford, on Friday 25 October.

If you’ follow football, the chances are you’re a fan of The Football Ramble Podcast.

Founded in 2007 around a kitchen table by friends Marcus Speller and Luke Moore, the fortnightly show switched to weekly in 2009, by which time the original duo had been joined by comedian Jim Campbell and Absolute Radio DJ Pete Donaldson.

The show soon reached number 1 in the iTunes sports podcast chart and is now released twice weekly with over 65 million downloads!

“I remember we had a bottle of champagne because we had 3,000 listeners, which seems insane now,” recalls Jim.

Luke adds: “For me, I realised people were listening when we booked out a pub on the Saturday or a Sunday. We basically said we would put the football on all day in the pub and whoever wants to come can. It was absolutely rammed!”

So what’s the attraction of four blokes talking about football?

C’MON – The Football Ramble team is (from left) Luke Moore, Pete Donaldson, James Campbell and Marcus Speller

“Saying we are just ‘four mates in a room’ I see as a little patronising,” says Luke. “But it’s a credit to us that we can make it look like we are relaxed and we have just waltzed in from a night out and are just having a laugh.”

And Jim insists: “We’re not just four blokes down the pub talking about the game. We work harder to be more interesting than that.

“What I like about the format that makes it a bit different from those mainstream things is that we are free to talk about playing headers and volleys over the park and the stupid side of football. In most mainstream football media that’s the ‘and finally’ and we can go ‘but first’ and I think that is a crucial difference and for me is the most enjoyable thing about our podcast.”

Marcus adds: “It’s almost like when you see the lead singer of an indie band and it looks like they have just got out of bed, an awful lot of work has gone into that look. For us it’s important to be well-informed but also have a bit of bloody fun.”

Fans can certainly expect more than four blokes talking about football when their live tour hits town – the foursome insist The Football Ramble Live Tour is definitely not just the podcast in your local theatre.

“Videos, games, nuclear-level messing about and a wealth of football-related daftness sounds about right,” explains Pete, with Marcus adding: “We definitely approach the live shows differently to the podcast. On the podcast we want to give our views on current footballing affairs. Whereas in the live shows, we just find the funniest things to talk about and have as much fun interacting with the audience as we can each night.

Luke says: “Yeh, you see other podcasts live and it’s just them sat behind a desk, doing exactly what they do in the studio. Every idea we have for the live show is about what gets us away from that. We can’t wait!”

Jim goes on: “I’ve always thought you want to watch a show, you don’t want to watch a podcast. At our first live shows in 2014, we tried to make it as different to the podcast as we could and there was a real sense of excitement in the venues. It was obvious from then that we wanted to continue doing live shows.”

Pete admits to eyeing up more and more powerful confetti cannons on Amazon and bemoans the fact that he wasn’t allowed to use a drone on previous tours.

Luke says: “Pete is the most inspirational when it comes to ideas – sometimes you think ‘we can’t do that’, and sometimes they are great. With the drone, Pete wanted to fly a Newcastle shirt over the crowd and drop it on someone who’d win something. The venue said we weren’t able to do it and now the venues are a bit bigger we’re going to try again…”

The Football Ramble Live reaches G Live in Guildford on Friday 18 October and all four of the lads are looking forward to it for different reasons. Marcus’ revelation that he used to play for Guildford Saints sets the others off, with Luke declaring the show “a homecoming” and Jim musing: “I think we’re doing the show on an open bus.”

TOM Lucy is one of the youngest professional comedians on the circuit. He is also, apparently, a millennial. This is not something he is happy about – and he’s going to explain why in his latest show, Reluctant Millennial, at Guildford’s G Live on Friday 17 May.

Comedian Tom Lucy

Expect an hour of new material from the snowflake of his generation, who is also the star of Stand Up Central, Roast Battle and Live at the Comedy Store. He was also voted The Sun’s Best New Comedian 2017 and has supported Jack Whitehall on tour.

LUCY Porter has inherited dodgy knees and global warming from her parents, but can she leave a better legacy for her children?

Find out in a new stand-up show from the comic who has appeared on QI, Room 101 and Live at the Apollo as well as News Quiz and The Now Show on Radio 4.

It’s called Lucy Porter, Pass It On and she’s bringing it to G Live, Guildford, on Thursday 21 February.

WHY would audiences flock to hear 1970s cheesy classics like YMCA, Blame It On The Boogie, We Are Family and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart?

Because those old hits were the soundtrack to their lives, according to a legend from the era and now a star of stage show Boogie Nights – ‘Little’ Jimmy Osmond.

“Why is there such an appeal for the music?” he asks. “When you go on your first date or whatever, all those experiences are set to music, so it takes us back to earlier parts of our life.”

BLAME IT ON THE BOOGIE – Andy Abraham, Gareth Gates, Louisa Lytton, Chico, Shane Richie Junior and Jimmy Osmond (inset)

BLAME IT ON THE BOOGIE – Andy Abraham, Gareth Gates, Louisa Lytton, Chico, Shane Richie Junior and Jimmy Osmond (inset)

And don’t get the idea that it’s just women who like to re-live their musical youth.

“A lot of them bring their guys along and they look disgruntled at first,” says Jimmy laughing.

“They sit there with folded arms making out ‘the women dragged us here’, but at the end they’re rocking out and singing along – and that makes me so happy. It makes me feel like I’ve had a good experience.

“You also see sons and daughters come along because they have experienced the music with their families.”

Boogie Nights is also a family affair for Jimmy. As well as Gareth Gates and X Factor stars Andy Abrahams, Laura White and Chico, the show includes his brothers Merrill and Jay.

“When my brothers come out we play ourselves and do a medley mix that includes Love Me For A Reason and Crazy Horses and we might throw in a few lesser known ones,” he reveals.

“But it has all the music we all love. It’s fun for us to perform other people’s hits as well.

“I did Boogie Nights years ago and I had such a blast, so I was keen to come back and do it again.Then, at the end of last year’s Osmonds tour, Jay and Merrill said ‘Hey we fancy that’.

“The producers had already hired Gareth Gates and Andy Abrahams but I said ‘Do you mind if my brothers come and join in?’ and they were over the moon.”

Jimmy was too young to be part of The Osmonds originally but he is keen to point out: “I was the first one of my family to record. I had the first hit in the family, I was this little kid singing and had a hit in Japan – the song was called My Little Darling.

“And I’d had four or five hits prior to Long Haired Lover (his first big UK hit in 1972). My first show was with Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra when I was three.”

He has always been very much part of the family and has toured with his brothers in recent years.

“Anybody who has lasted has had to reinvent themselves and put themselves forward for different projects. That’s why my brothers and sisters have lasted,” says Jimmy.

“We’ve kept going because we’ve always been open to new things and never been so precious about who we are, or take ourselves too seriously.

“Every one of our personalities is different and we look at things differently, and we have learned to agree to differ. It’s a tough business but we still get along. So many families fall apart because of the narcissism of it.

“It helps that our dad always taught us there’s something bigger than us, which is a relationship with your family and a belief system, and that helps to get you through.

“Sometimes one of us will go off and try something else but they always come back, and we all have our roles to play. I don’t really have any expertise but I guess I’m the clean-up guy. I’ve always loved the business side and represented other artists as well as my brothers and sisters.

“But the most fun is to be part of the team. It can’t be just about me. It comes in things like Boogie Nights where you’re one of the cast, or on tour with The Osmonds where you’re one of the family. Those projects are such fun and it uses all your skills.”

Jimmy Osmond (along with Jay and Merrill) stars in Boogie Nights which will be at G Live in Guildford on Sunday, February 3 and at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Friday, March 1.

JON RICHARDSON has been on the road for most of this year – but he’s loving it.

The comic, who made his name as a team captain on Channel 4’s panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats, spends his time on stage pondering the everyday items that have a major effect on his outlook.

Now host of Channel 4’s topical comedy show, Stand Up For The Week, Jon (below) says TV is great but he loves touring more.

“Live comedy is such a rush,” he says. “That’s why I’m not a writer or an actor or a painter.

“There’s simply nothing like the urgency of having 500 people look at you and expect you to be funny.

“I love writing, but it’s a totally different experience. You know that on a 60-date tour, every single night will be different.

“Everyone is there in that particular moment, and it will never happen again. At every show, the room is set up differently and every person in the audience has a different barometer.

“You’re aware that any moment someone might stand up and shout ‘I completely disagree!’ That’s what’s so brilliant about stand-up!”

Jon’s reputation has been built on comedy that strikes a chord with most people.

He says: “There’s nothing better than the laughter of recognition – that sense the audience has felt the same thing.

“I learned that when I did my stuff about obsessive-compulsive behaviour. People listen to you and think, I’m not on my own.

“Nothing can beat the sight of people in the audience nudging their partners and saying, ‘You’re like that’.

“You’re not alone if you find it difficult get out of bed in the morning or if you have moments of sadness. For me, being sad proves you’re still alive. I don’t trust people who say they’re never sad – that shows an element of delusion.

“You have to accept that bad things can happen. You have to notice what’s wrong in order to fix it.”

Much of Jon’s set is devoted to contemplation of growing older and he says: “The core element of every show is about trying to be happy.

“This year I’m turning 30. It doesn’t mean a great deal to me. I’ve always felt a lot older than I am, and I’ve grown more comfortable with myself as I’ve got older.

“But the big dilemma is that I haven’t really had the 20s most people have had. I haven’t slept around or drunk as much as others. Your youth should be about making mistakes, but during my 20s I limited the risks and didn’t take too many wrong turns.

“You should hit 30 and think ‘Now’s the time to knuckle down’ but I went too early with knuckling down. Perhaps the opposite will happen now and I’ll start letting people down.”

Jon is disarmingly honest and that will shine through in the show where he will talk about a recent relationship break-up.

“If you’re discussing something on stage, you have to mean it. You can’t spend your life deliberately ordering the wrong things in restaurants just so you can get a routine out of it,” he says.

“I talk about issues such as the fear of the end of a relationship, which I hope everyone will be able to associate with. But rest assured, if it’s not funny, it doesn’t get into the show.”

Jon, who will also be discussing living with friends, adds: “If I read this interview, I might think, Is this guy a comedian or just too tight to pay for counselling?’

“But ultimately my stand-up is like house renovation. Every year I take the wreck that is my life and renovate it on stage.

“There’s an underlying pessimism to my world view, but I’m like a workman who accepts the damage and still tries to sort it out. Maybe I’ll have to start wearing a hard hat on stage.”

Jon Richardson will be at G Live, Guildford, on Tuesday, September 4.

ALL AT SEA – House Of Burlesque girls give being Shipwrecked! a glamorous look

ALL AT SEA – House Of Burlesque girls give being Shipwrecked! a glamorous look

HOW do you get to be a burlesque artist? Well, for Miss Tempest Rose it came from a love of showing off.

The glamorous Tempest, who brings Shipwrecked! to Surrey this month, reveals: “I trained as a musical theatre actress and did that professionally for about three years, but then a colleague suggested I audition for the Kitten Club, which is London’s longest-running burlesque club.

“She knew I loved to sing and dress up and show off and said you’d love this.

“So I auditioned even though I didn’t have a clue about burlesque – I’d seen the film Cabaret and imagined it was similar – and got in. That was about five years ago.”

Tempest took to the art form immediately and has never looked back, even travelling to Las Vegas to appear at the Burlesque Hall Of Fame.

“To me burlesque is a way for women performers to be all the things they are in real life, which can be intelligent, funny,
playful, inspiring as well as sexy,” she says.

“For people who haven’t seen it before, I’d say if you think of burlesque as a sensual type of theatrical entertainment, you wouldn’t be far wrong. It can be very funny but also very sexy and beautiful.”

Shipwrecked! is being taken on tour by Tempest’s company, the House Of  Burlesque, and while burlesque performers are usually female, this show includes a male artist as well.

“We’ll be singing and dancing all in glamorous striptease costume and with beautiful jazz music.

“We tend to think of burlesque as the British meaning which is ‘satire’ – it’s very playful and funny and tongue-in-cheek. Each of our scenes is tied together by a central theme – in this case Shipwrecked!

“All the acts add to the story from sailing to hunting and there are flamboyant costumes and even a hula hoop routine. Each of the acts has a little story of its own.”

And if you like the look of the outfits and want to dress to impress at a House Of Burlesque show, feel free.

“The audience often dress up,” says Tempest. “Lots of people come in beautiful costumes, and it really adds to the show – but people shouldn’t feel pressurised into doing it. You can come along dressed however you want.”

The House Of Burlesque will present Shipwrecked! at G Live in Guildford on Saturday, July 14.