Nick Gilmartin's Weblog

And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Posts Tagged ‘comedy

Say Something Funny

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Dave Twentyman

Of all the speaking jobs, and there are indeed many, none strike me as more nerve-wracking as stand-up comedy.  For the simple reason that it is just you and your voice entertaining a crowd of slightly drunken locals looking for a good night out.  Add to that, the fact that what ‘funny’ is, is difficult to define.  So it  takes a set of brass balls to pull it off.

But indeed some people do pull it off, night after night, in hostelries and clubs up and down the country.  Prominent among them is an old Twitter friend of mine, Dave Twentyman.  He is, as I write, somewhere between North Yorkshire and Hull, gigging.  If he can make a Yorkshireman laugh, he knows no fear.

Do you have a natural fear of public speaking and how did you overcome it?

I was petrified at the thought of public speaking. I was always the centre of attention amongst my social circle, and I always felt I could transfer that to the stage with performing comedy. However, I had no experience of talking to an audience. I’d never done drama in school, and I was never given talking roles in school plays. So in my first few months of standup, alcohol was very much my crutch. However, I knew I had to stop and face my fear head on. I would sometimes be crippled with nerves. My hands would shake and my voice was such that you’d have thought someone was holding a gun to my head.
I overcame it gradually by structuring what I was going to say. I don’t mean word for word, I believe that’s counterproductive as you end up focusing on a script in your head, so instead of projecting outwards, your looking inwards and thus you’re more disconnected from the audience. I used bullet point words so I could talk more loosely around the subject. So for me, it was structure and knowing the subject I was talking about really well (not word for word). I also found that it was good to hold something in my hand, like a bottle top, small bouncy ball, a coin or something which I could fidget with in my hand without them noticing. It was like it was absorbing the nervous energy and also reminding me to slow down, and talk more slowly. I still do this now if I feel a little out of my comfort zone. However, 10 years later I’m so relaxed before a performance I could quite easily eat a big meal before I go on stage.
 Do you have a pre-show warm up process?
There’s no point fidgeting and pacing around beforehand, it makes your heart rate go up more and instils that feeling of panic. I sit down and relax. Even though I know my material I will still have a quick glance at my bullet points. It sounds crazy but I find having a nice cup of tea before you go on stage really settles me.
Are there any words that you trip up on?

Yes, I really struggle with the word ‘comfortable’. I’ve no idea why so I just say ‘comfy’ instead.

As a comedian you have played some pretty scary places.  Give us a good ‘rough gig story’?

I’ve done gigs in all sorts of places. The gig that mostly sticks in my head though was when i was in my first year of comedy.   I was at a pub in Manchester in an area so rough the UN probably wouldn’t go in. It was about as friendly and welcoming as that bar in Star Wars. I was on stage and this big fella starts heckling me. He didn’t appreciate my offer to get him some crayons and started threatening me. Thankfully the other ‘locals’ kicked him out. I thought that was the end of it but then a brick came through the window, glass shattered everywhere. I had no idea what to do so I just introduced the next act on stage. I’m still very good friends with him. He just looked petrified. He has a very broad, scouse accent. The last thing this Manc audience wanted, right after the confrontation and the window being smashed in was some Scouser. They made him feel about as welcome as Nick Griffin doing the moonwalk in a mosque.
If you want to book him, drop him a line via dave@davetwentyman.co.uk
Or check out his website
Or even stalk him on twitter at @davetwentyman
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Written by Nick Gilmartin

January 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Speech

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Lights, camera, laughter

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With the world the way it is at the minute we all need a laugh from time to time. Comedy clubs have sprung up all over the country as an alternative to the inauspicious working men’s clubs where the comedians of the seventies plied their art.

Showcase cinemas have not been slow to notice this and they made a very substantial investment in live entertainment. It has not escaped their notice that people are starting to stay away from cinemas because of the recession and the explosion of illegal downloading.

Martin, the General Manager of Showcase Coventry, was there to greet me personally and show me around the new area. It soon became clear what they meant by substantial investment. A whole auditorium had had the seats ripped out and replaced with cabaret style tables and chairs. They had a good selection of food to order and a mobile bar set up. This was clearly a serious investment to them.

The food looked to be of fairly good quality and was obviously hot. I didn’t have any myself as we had eaten before we came out. Never mind, we will know next time. The beer was served in plastic pint glasses and was far from cheap. The wine, at least, came served in proper wine coolers. So far so good.

Comedy shows never start on time, they start when they are ready. Comedians need a fair bit of preparation (or in some cases Dutch courage) as they have a lot to remember. It also gave people time to get in the mood, i.e. half-cut.

The compare was a northern lad, Dave Twentyman, who I later learned was an amateur boxer. A compare of comedy is never an enviable job, like being the first soldier to hit the beach. But he carried it off well, keeping the audience chuckling until the first act came on.

Steve Day, act number one, did a fair set. He told us about his time on the Cruise ships, trying to be funny to the nearly dead in what was basically a floating hearse. He told us about his African wife and five kids. Steve is also deaf, note the little ‘d’ in deaf, which means nearly but not quite. Deaf with a capital D means totally. So here we have a Journalist with a stutter reviewing a deaf comedian. Honestly it’s like the blind leading the… never mind. But was he funny? Yeah, not bad.

Our Dave came back on for ten minutes while half the crowd queued at the bar. Serving vast numbers of people from a portable bar is like towing a caravan in a mini. It can be done but never that quickly.

Act number two was a little Hindu guy called Dave Biswas. He started off with a few one-liners that were generally well received, but his material didn’t really cover the things that the crowd could relate to. He had not had the easiest life, suffering from something like Aspergers syndrome and he told us all about it. He became repetitive after a while and people lost interest. I think he needs to throw out most of his material and start again.

Our Dave returned, and he wasn’t slow in noticing the edgy mood of the crowd so he wasted no time in introducing the headlining act.

It is no exaggeration to say that Ivan Brackenbury saved the show. My better half said he reminded her “of that bald bloke with the long hair.” It took me a few minutes to work out that she was referring to Bill Bailey. I understood what she meant, Ivan’s act was mostly music driven. He played the part of a hospital disc jockey, something I suspect he did in real life. Ivan had excellent comic timing and could literally make a joke out of any song or ailment you can mention, usually both in the same sentence. He got the best response out of the audience, and left us feeling like the whole thing had been a worthwhile visit. Of all the acts, he is the one I expect to get his own series.

So the following night I managed to catch up with Dave Twentyman for a quick chat on Facebook, while the better half was engrossed in Dancing on Ice.

What was the best heckle you have ever had and what was your come-back?

I’ve been racking my head for ages trying to think of heckles I’ve had. But the only thing that sticks in my mind wasn’t a heckle as such,but it was bloody awkward.

It was in Jongleurs in Battersea. I was having a cracking gig,but these people sat at a table at the front kept chatting. So I thought I’d better sort it out. I said “hey, it’s not the telly this, I can see u when you’re talking”. The room fell silent & these people just stared at me. To bring the atmosphere back up I tried to engage them a bit by asking where they were from. “Rwanda” was the stern reply in this strong african accent (they were black) & I came straight back with “oh, it’s a good film that”, which got a massive laugh.

What do Northern comics have that Southerners don’t?

That’s a good question regarding the North/South thing. There’s no difference in quality but a Northern accent is so much more distinctive & it sounds friendlier. It’s much more difficult for a Southern comic to gig up North than it is for a Northerner to gig down South…which is good. Sod um, they live longer than us.

So if you want a change from watching saturday night telly and you live in the Coventry area why not check it out? More details are available here

Coventry Showcase on a map:

Written by Nick Gilmartin

January 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Jessica Delfino – UK was a blast all the way

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Photo by Doug Jaegar

Photo by Doug Jaegar

Comedian Jessica Delfino is back on home soil after a month shocking the hell out of  the UK from as far north as Edinburgh to as far south as Reading.    Just to bring her back down to earth she was promptly told to repack her unwashed laundry and pushed on to a train down to the deep south for a week to entertain the good people of North Carolina.

Having survived all that she finally put her feet up to check her e-mail and there is this guy from England trying to contact her for another  interview.  The true professional that she is, she got back to me pretty much straight away.

The Vagina song:  My Pussy is Magic!  Do you think (Whhhooohhoooooooowww!!) Bodyform or Fannyfresh Sanitary towels will be using it for their advertising campaign?

Actually, Always (brand of maxi pads) has already just recently begun using a “Magic” slogan / angle in a new ad campaign. I’m expecting a royalty check in the mail, but it probably “got lost”. Anyway, I’ve explained before — my pussy isn’t really magic, its just really tight, like one of those chinese finger traps. But I couldn’t have written a song called “My Pussy Is Like A Chinese Finger Trap” because that would have been racist.

When Sir Walter Raleigh returned from the UK he brought back Tobacco and Potatoes for Queen Elizabeth to try.  “Thats right, Liz, you burn the leaves in your face, sure it’s safe, babe.”  If you had an audience with President Obama, what would you bring him back from the UK and why?

Chocolate porn

Chocolate porn

I’d bring him one of those sweet ass Twirl chocolate bars with all that chocolate bunched up like a crumbly scroll of confection perfection, because them shits just melt in your mouth. We’d eat them together, savoring each chocolate wrinkle, discussing the importance of taking a moment to feast upon a tasty treat with a friend. I would make no metaphoric references or racial comparisons to the goodys we enjoyed. It’s not about race. It’s about the snack, man.

Do you feel any wiser for the UK experience?

You betcha. I learned that driving on the wrong side of the road is easy, climbing mountains is best done during daylight hours except that sometimes if you climb during the day, you get stung by wasps, buddhists are nice and cook yummy, gassy food, there are good sights to be seen in the UK, Faith No More still rocks, my friends are awesome, my UK fans and new friends are way cooler than other people who suck, the 24 hour stomach bug comes on quickly and is a huge asshole, and pounds are so much better than dollars. But the last one I already knew, it was just reiterated. Also, the Brits do not call their phone a “jingly-doo”.

Did you get as many Wolf-whistles in the UK as you did in the US?

Naw, UK dudes are polite. Even the flirtatious Russell Brand was a gentleman. Instead of “wolf-whistling” me, as you call it (we call it “cat-calling”) they strolled up, removed their top hats, announced the style of weather we were surrounded by, invited me to enjoy a hot beverage or trip to the countryside and if I declined, bid me a good day.


Where were you when you heard Patrick Swayze had died?  How did you take it?

I was watching Dirty Dancing on a loop as is the custom in my household, and my entire family called on a conference call to break the news. I am still not quite the woman I used to be. All my childhood heros are dying. It’s a real drag fest, and not the fun kind where the men all wear huge high heels.


We saw the Tyra Banks episode you were in, your Borat-like take on the show had her pretty well stitched up.  I am so glad that American TV caters so well for the mentally retarded.  Could you tell us how this all started?  (You going on the show, that is.  Not the ice age, dinosaurs, and all that shit)

A casting person called me and asked me to be on the show. I knew I had to do something a little silly. I wish I’d gone even more overboard, but your hands are kind of tied. The shows are edited and aired later, so even if I did something super fun, it would’ve gotten taken out. Tyra has prehistoric shark eyes. I looked for a glimmer of soul in them, but all I saw were colored contacts.


What is next on the agenda for the Jessica Delfino comedy empire?

On Nov 12 I have a show at Ars Nova, a really cool and subversive comedy theater in NYC which I’m really excited about, and I’m going to be performing in the NY Comedy Festival as part of the Andy Kaufman Award Show. I was asked to make a video for the show, here is mine:

So there you have it.  If you feel an uncontrollable desire to see her perform live keep checking her myspace page (remember those?) or on her twitter account or her blog.

If I blend in, the cops might walk right by

If I blend in, the cops might walk right by




Written by Nick Gilmartin

October 7, 2009 at 3:14 pm

The rise of Sara Benincasa

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Hey!  Watch me swallow this thing

Hey! Watch me swallow this thing

Well since we are playing catch up this week I thought it would be a great idea to hook up with Sara Benincasa, the girl from New Jersey who has been tickling funny-bones from New York to South Carolina.

She will be working her one-woman show, Agorafabulous, every Saturday night from 1 August until 29 August at the Pit in New York City (check out http://www.thepit-nyc.com).  She can induce an asthma attack on anybody old and rich just by saying stuff on stage, but she charges extra for that.

So I finally managed to stalk, sorry track down, this lady for a little chat:

Sarah Palin recently resigned her post as Governor of Alaska, doing you out of living as a Palin impersonator.  Does this bitch have no considereration for other people’s comedy careers?  Doesn’t she realize we are in the middle of a recession?  How could she do this to a struggling commedienne?

First of all, I don’t think she’s a “bitch.” I think she’s a doggedly determined, extremely manipulative, breathtakingly disingenous, highly charismatic, very pretty, proudly ignorant woman with a great sense for what certain people want to hear. I made some money making fun of her, but I never made my living that way (she did help me pay off part of my student loans, however—thanks, Sarah!) At present, I make my living co-hosting a nightly radio show on satellite radio, writing for various blogs about various things, and telling stories on stages. It’s really quite a lovely life and I’m greatly pleased with it. Of course, I also end up begging various family members for loans that they and I both know I shan’t be paying back, so I suppose that’s rather pathetic in its way.


The shows are going really well.  Are you surviving life on the road more or less?

Oh, I enjoy it very much. I stay in New York for the most part, but over the past three months I’ve gotten to perform in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. All of those adventures were great. I’m doing a one-month run of my show, AGORAFABULOUS!, here in NYC at a theater called the PIT. It’ll be every Saturday night in August at 9:30 PM. I’m going to do the show at Chicago’s Playground Theatre on Saturday, September 19th, and I’m really psyched about that. Chicago is an incredible city for comedy and theatre alike. And then hopefully in late October I’ll be in Los Angeles for a week, doing a couple shows out there.
I really do want to get to the UK next year. London is allegedly insanely expensive, even compared to New York. Maybe I’ll go to Cumbria and do an hour of comedy at one of their lovely nuclear power plants. Some of my impoverished ancestors straggled out of that part of your fine country, anyway, so I’ll commune with the spirits of dead family members while getting irradiated. Then my dead Irish ancestors can appear (perhaps having taken a heavenly helicopter from Co. Tyrone) and they can all beat the shit out of each other. Everyone will be drunk and unhappy, which is exactly how I like my crowds, living or dead. Good times.

You are a big fan of Princess Diana’s happy drug of choice, Prozac.  The whole world is on a collective downer at the minute.  She we distribute free prozac to those on welfare?
I would go with a no on that one. I do think we should have affordable, high-quality psychiatry and talk therapy available to all seekers regardless of their income. It’s worth noting that Prozac works quite well for me but doesn’t work well for everyone who has depression and panic attacks. Each person has to come up with his or her individual recipe for wellbeing, which generally includes some amount of physical exercise, decent eating habits, therapy, and even medication if necessary. Christ, I’ve got to start exercising.
I hadn’t heard that Diana took Prozac. If it helped her overcome her eating disorder and depression, then I think that’s wonderful and I’ve got nothing snarky to say about it, sadly.

Or what about Ecstasy?
Ecstasy is so 1994 and it does weird things to your jaw. Ugh, raver culture was so gross. And you’ve only yourselves to blame for that one, UK.

And thats pretty much it.  The best of luck with the shows and I will keep the British end up for you.  Your buddy Jess Delfino is over here at the minute, I think she want’s to bone Prince William, but that’s her business.

Delfino’s amazing. She plays an entire song on the rape whistle. I believe the song is called “Don’t Rape Me.” It’s the most offensive thing I’ve ever loved.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

July 29, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Humour

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Coming to the UK: Miss Jessica Delfino

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jessica-delfino

Cancel all army leave, call up the riot police, roll back the carpets and load up the shotguns. Because Jessica Delfino is coming to England.

Jess has been making her name on the stand-up circuit over the last few years and this lady has some unusual trophies in her collection. She won the Stoned Spelling Bee contest (self-explanatory, but it sure sounds funny). She managed a record-breaking mayoral campaign for Christopher Brodeur.

She has featured on BBC radio’s Loose Ends programme and Russell Brand’s radio show. Jesus, imagine those two together.

And, God help us, she is coming to the UK later this year. She will be playing gigs at the Leeds and Reading festivals, Edinburgh and Soho.

More recently she played live shows across Ireland and Edinburgh.  Here is some of her stand up show.

So we grabbed her sorry ass, sat her down and shone a light in her face.  She asked for her lawyer and a phone call.  We tightened the handcuffs.  Finally she cracked.  Here is her confession.

According to the Catholic Church you are going to burn in hell. Who are you looking forward to meeting down there?

All of the people who have told me I’d be going to hell. See ya there, suckers! But seriously, I don’t really believe in hell. I think I’m there, now. I think that Hell is a place on Earth, sorta like that Belinda Carlisle song.

And they say you have been providing ammunition to the terrorists? What type of ammo is the most popular among the Taliban these days?

According to the Catholic League, the Taliban apparently really like using f-bombs (and other “f” words) and also vaginas full of glitter, sprinkles and rainbow fluff as their weapons of choice. The worst part about getting hit with a fanny full of glitter is getting all the sparkles out of your clothing and hair later. It’s a real bitch to clean up and the Taliban knows that.

You recently toured Ireland, any road stories you care to tell? They have a wonderful way of giving road directions.

At the end of my Roisin Dubh show in Galway, I requested someone in the audience drive me to the Cliffs of Moher or get me some pot. A cute gent named Cian came to my rescue. He said he had his starter’s permit and could accommodate both of my requests. The next morning he and his friend “Crazy Mary” met me at my hotel, and he, she, myself and a friend drove in his tiny car with a huge red “L” on the windshield through the beautiful, hairpin curves of the countryside to the cliffs. I kept expecting Jimmy Page to leap out from behind a rock and play Bron Yr Aur. Every time we met another car, one of us had to pull over so the other could pass. We met a parade of really old time-y vehicles on our way and I thought maybe we’d accidentally driven through some ancient Celtic porthole. Parking at the cliffs cost a lot but Cian was a local and knew a secret off site spot in some farmer’s field so we parked on his potato patch and walked fromthere.

The cliffs were breathtaking. I was floored that it wasn’t fenced in the way America has fenced in every natural wonder we have. Cian said several people leapt over the cliffs each year. I say “thank you” to the Irish government for letting their people govern themselves. Jumping off a cliff is a basic human right.

You are performing in two festivals this year, so you may never feel clean again. Have you ever tried using a rickety chemical toilet at 03.00 after your fifth joint?

I heard no one uses the chemical toilets at all. I heard they just go on the ground and dance in it until it becomes a swarming fecal cesspool. I look forward to observing the indigenous festival peoples, and maybe even participating in their local pastimes, as well.

Could you happily live in London?

I LOVE London. London loves comedy, and Londoners are smart and quick, and funny and ribald themselves. London is a city I could happily live in. But I’m currently in love with another city. NY City is amazing. It treats you like shit, overcharges you to live and eat, swallows you up in it’s grandeur, makes sure you know you’ll never be good enough, and acts like it’s shit doesn’t stink. NY is like an abusive boyfriend that you just can’t leave. So though I could happily live in London, London and I would first have to devise a plan to KILL NY.

Your forefathers brought Nylons and Hershey bars to our country in return for a good time. What are you bringing, in return for a good time?

I’m bringing a good time in exchange for nylons and chocolate. So get your London Hosiery and your Cadbury Flakes and Crunchies ready for me.

Jessica is playing the following dates.

Latitude Festival — July 17-19
Soho Theatre — July 21-15 @ 21:55, every night in “More Dirty Folk Rock”. Mon & Tue are two for one £.

Duckie in Battersea, London — August 1

Edinburgh Fringe Festival @ Jekyll and Hyde, “Jessica Delfino — I Wanna Be Famous” 21:55 Aug 6-25

Reading & Leeds Festivals — August 28-30

Written by Nick Gilmartin

April 19, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Humour

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