Comedy in a Nutshell

Well yours truly, along with ten thousand others, has been asked to contribute to an opinion piece for a university comedy website. They have a list of some commonly asked questions. Well here’s how it went.

Interviewer: Lewis Calvert, Liverpool John Moores University

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Interviewee: Andrew Hutchinson aka ‘Bobby Nitro

https://laughterpool.wordpress.com/ask-me-anything/comedy-topics-by-andrew-hutchinson/

All rights reserved © 2015 Andrew Hutchinson

Friggin’ Foragers

Supermarkets accross middle England are in turmoil, not at the prospect of EU withdrawal but goose stepping ancient foraging laws more ancient than the Royal and Ancient and more akin to the middle ages than middle England. Do they mean that supermarkets are unable to legally charge for fruit, meat or vegetables on the proviso that they could have been picked, dug up or hunted in Britain?

A spokesman for the National Association of Friggin’ Foragers told us “Most of our members do spend a lot of in woods, up lanes and generally getting lost but it’s comforting to know that on occasions that they can’t be bothered or it’s raining, all the loose unpackaged products in supermarkets can still be legally foraged for free. As long as they carry a wicker basket and only pick up food they plan to eat that evening.”

William Bracey-Norris known locally as ‘Foraging Noris’ had just left Samesbury’s and remarked, “I’ve just foraged berries, potatoes and a joint of pork, all free as I could have picked it myself in the countryside. If I hadn’t also had to pay £140 for a baguette and a newspaper, I’d have been quids in.”

A spokesperson for supermarket giant Polska Express explained that the company would still expect to be making a profit charging for their best selling chopped and shaped chicken derivative miscellaneous shapes and bear ham. “What do you expect for 99p, a organic raised, Cheltenham Gold Cup winning, two foreign holidays a year thorough bred? Retard”. Karol Wotzamakallitz went on to say that his parents always told him to watch what he ate and now he understands the importance of watching the Grand National as a family.

All rights reserved © 2015 Andrew Hutchinson

Why I’m joining Equity

And all other comedians should too, says Paul Ricketts

Comedians (me especially), love to moan – in cars, onstage, backstage, on Twitter & Facebook, Chortle and most recently at meetings.

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I hope most working stand-ups will have heard about the newly formed UK Comedy Guild which came into being after a series of meetings held in London – mostly initiated by the issue of late payments by Jongleurs.

The frustration by felt by some comics at Equity’s response to this issue indirectly led to an invitation for a comedians’ delegation to meet with Equity bigwigs. At these meetings both the delegation and Equity quickly realised that things need to change.

As a result, I’m not only going to join, but also ask other comedy performers to do the same.

champagneAfter these meetings I’m now confident that finally comics can have the effective, professional and expert unionised representation to campaign and negotiate on pay and conditions, which can change the industry for the better at all levels. And while the nascent UK Comedy Guild will be a welcome watchdog overlooking and representing all parts of the comedy industry, only Equity wishes to solely represent all comedy performers (from sketch to improv, alternative to new alternative, clowns to musical comics) working in all the different circuits, venues and media.

This is a new start, but if we want Equity to take us seriously then we need to show that we take it seriously too. The aim is in the near future that comics will feel that Equity membership is a badge of professionalism – much like musicians in Musician’s Union and actors in erm… Equity.

But will things change?

Already Equity has given the chance for comics to have a new, distinctive voice within the union by offering us the opportunity to form a Comedians’ Network, and an allocated Equity official to work with us.

Further meetings are planned with the comedian’s delegation and Equity officials have also offered, through the UK Comedy Guild, to come to a general meeting to answer comedy performers’ concerns.

More changes have been offered such as the formation of a comedians’ branch (removing us from being under ‘Variety’ branch of Equity), plus the possible future recruitment of a new dedicated comedy official.

But none of these things will happen unless loads of comedy performers choose to join (or re-join) Equity. I’m mainly preaching here to those comic performers who make (or part make) their living in the industry, but open spots shouldn’t think that joining Equity won’t be of use. If they want to graduate into regular paid work and already have evidence of earnings in excess of £500 from comedy (up to six email scans/screen grabs will do), then membership is an investment in their future.

In short, the more members we have, the more Equity can do for us!

What does Equity offer? Click here for the full details, but in brief it’s protection from unfair treatment from managements, employers, agents or bookers, insurance, free legal services and tax and welfare support. And it can offer collective representation in disputes with employers, thereby minimising the risk of comics being ‘blacklisted’, as well as campaigning for better pay and conditions across the industry.

I know that for some comics unionisation conjures up images of obstreperous ‘I’m Alright Jack’ leaders asking workers for ‘a show of hands’ in factory car parks. But I’m not asking you to join Equity to ‘break the balls of the bosses’. I know that the stationary and even reduced performing fees that currently exist are understandable during an eight-year recession.

What I want in the future is a flourishing and successful comedy industry and a professional body to represent and ensure that performers get their fair rewards in a growing multi-million pound business.

But as I said before we need lots of new members to make this achievable aim possible. So that’s why I’m joining Equity and asking you to do so too.

Click here to join Equity; and once you’ve joined please email UK Comedy Guild with your name and conformation that you’re an Equity member: comedianscollective@gmail.com

All rights reserved © 2015 Source: Chortle

A Star Is Born!

Well, what can I say?  Those who follow me on twitter know that I have difficulty limiting myself to 140 characters or less.  Well away from the cyber world and inviting the real world in to make one of its increasingly rare guest appearances, I can publicly announce that the secret is out.  Yes I have been ‘outed’.  There are two of us, or maybe three.  As my late mother used to say, “Us three make a fine pair if ever there was one!”  Me the consultant, writer and occasional blogger, known and loved by many (Note to Editor: Check facts before publication) and my alter-ego Mr Bobby Nitro.

Last night I made my Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival debut, delivering a thirty minute set as part of the Square Mile Smiles Showcase.  Leicester is one of the top five comedy festivals in the world according to the Guardian and it was a sell-out.

I’ve fought the ‘outing’ for a while.  Don’t worry I’m not buy-sexual, I don’t pay for it!  I was in two minds for long enough about the day job meeting the after-hours job but clients should fear not.  Names are always changed to protect the guilty.  So if you are that Whitehall mandarin and you’re worried about that ‘pickle’ that you got yourselves into before you invited me in to help-out (you know the one that was so bizarrely unbelievable that no-one would ever believe it) you’re safe! (clears throat).

facepic AndrewSo I’m now featured on the UK’s largest promotional website for comedians, appearing alongside the likes of Peter Kay and fellow goldbug Dominic Frisby (though it is a well documented fact on Kitco that all of my gold was lost in that boating accident!).  As the promo piece on Bobby Nitro says, “Everyone has talent. What is rare is the  courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads”.  Well in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king (I lost my left eye on a ’visit’ to Israel via Dhekelia Garrison eons ago).

I’ll be interested to see where the published article takes us, opportunities or repercussions?  Whatever the outcome, there is only one individual behind the mask and he continues to be driven by integrity and positive intent.  So your criticalfriend slays dragons, tilts at windmills and does ‘stand-up’ too but he remains a trusted advisor, he just needs to vent occasionally.

“‘Bobby  Nitro’ is the alter-ego of management consultant, writer, satirist and mentor  Andrew Hutchinson.  As the founder of criticalfriend.eu, featured on BBC Radio 4′s World at One, he has mixed with academics, politicians  and entrepreneurs whilst working for household names and government departments.  As a tested after-dinner  speaker, for an informed and educational take on leadership, management, the  economy, politics or the stories behind the headlines, Andrew has a growing  reputation for providing a unique take on events which is both challenging and  thought provoking, as he educates and entertains with positive intent.  With a wealth of material to  draw upon he has, by popular demand, added stand-up sets to his offering  enabling him to push the boundaries even further as he satirizes and ridicules  his paymasters.  Names are changed to  protect the guilty.

He believes in ‘working to  live’ and not ‘living to work’ and you are just as likely to find him jamming with  a French rock band in Burgundy, doing stand-up comedy in Budapest or delivering  after-dinner speeches in Sweden, as you are in the boardroom.”

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson