Transcript of #13

Abnormally Funny People Episode 13: Show 13, Lucky for Everyone

Presented by Simon Minty and Steve Best

intro

Welcome to the Abnormally Funny People Show, with your hosts, Simon Minty and Steve Best. This podcast is sponsored by Barclays. For more information please see our website, abnormallyfunnypeople.com. We hope you enjoy the show.

[playing music]

simon

Hello and welcome to the Abnormally Funny People Show number 13. I’m Simon Minty.

steve

Hello. And I’m Steve Best. We’re officially one year old.

simon

Yep we made it. Sorry for the listeners there was a little pause between the last show and this one.

steve

Barclays, our sponsor, had to sort out some admin. But we’re back until the autumn which is great.

simon

So it is the month of August; and for us comedy types that means just one thing.

steve

Sunshine.

simon

Hm er yes. And the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

steve

You know you paused there. Do you have to pause on that bit?

simon

Yeah you always have to have that pause. Abnormally Funny People will be up there as will thousands of other shows. And today we have two people who will be performing in their own show.

steve

And with us Abnormally Funny People.

simon

Indeed. Firstly, there’s Caro Spark, she’s a performer with many skills. Caro’s act is unique and she is deaf bilingual - so it’s speech and sign language. She performs well known recorded songs such as Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ with dance, mime and sign language. And you just won an acting award in France didn’t you, Caro?

caro

Yes I did.

simon

What was that?

caro

That was for best actress in a film that I made.

simon

Congratulations.

steve

Fantastic. And we have Jo Coffey as well. Jo is a regular performer in comedy clubs up and down Britain. She was a new Act of the Year finalist last year. She’s also involved in television presenting on Big Brother’s Bit on the Side. Her comedy CV says she’s tiny like really short.

jo

Like really short. Like really short.

simon

As well as our two funny guests in this month’s show we will talk about Abnormally Funny People’s 10th anniversary show up at Edinburgh Fringe.

steve

And we’ll catch up with Shannon Murray in LA.

simon

Let’s get cracking.

[Jingle: Find us on Twitter or Facebook by searching for Abnormally Funny People or using the hashtag, afpshow]

steve

So let’s kick off with Moment of the Month. Jo, your moment of the month?

jo

I’ve got a couple but I can’t work out whether this is a disability thing or just a child being a little bit weird.

steve

Okay.

jo

So it could go either way. So basically you know how usually when you’re in supermarkets or wherever and children come over to you and approach you, you know, agog and they say things like, “Oh she’s really short, oh mummy” and their parents guide them away and sort of shove them into another aisle so they won’t attract any attention. I don’t mind that actually because they’re kids, so what can you do? But I was in Asda in Southgate buying my nephew some Manchester City pyjamas when this child came up to me with complete intent, sort of came walking… It’s very rare that they come straight up to you, look you in the eye and said, “Are you a small wolf?”

steve

Small wolf?

jo

Yeah. To which I said, “Yes.”

steve

You have to.

jo

Absolutely just to see what would happen. And she looked absolutely satisfied with the answer and just walked off like she knew that all along. Like of course I was a small wolf, why wouldn’t I be a small wolf in Asda, of all places, of course.

simon

I’m a fellow small person. I’ve not had a wolf.

jo

I know.

simon

Where has that come from?

jo

I looked it up on Urban Dictionary when I get home.

steve

If it means something else. I thought she was to going to say in Asda, “Every little helps” or something like that.

jo

Yeah. That would have been a little bit too intelligent. Even I couldn’t have come up with that one, which doesn’t say much. Yeah so I had no idea. I looked it up on Urban Dictionary it doesn’t mean anything. I genuinely am aghast to what that could be about really.

steve

And you haven’t got that much facial hair either.

jo

No I’d shaved that day. I was fine.

simon

The film ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ had a short person that they did humiliating things like throwing them and so on. But I can’t believe a young child has watched ‘Wolf of Wall Street’…

jo

No. Well…

steve

Especially that opening sequence.

simon

Yeah.

steve

Yeah that’s a bit sexual.

jo

Maybe that was… But she looked quite pleased that I’d said that I was one. Made her day which was good.

caro

Maybe she had a list and she was able to tick off of that list…

jo

Yes!

caro

…that she’d met.

jo

This is it, yes. A small wolf? Tick. Unicorn? Tick. Brilliant.

steve

And you said you had a second one as well.

jo

And this is another thing as well that I can’t work out whether it’s a disabled thing or again people are being nice - it’s probably a disabled thing. But I think I’m starting to be part of that whole internet sensation which is a pay it forward thing. I don’t know if you’ve heard any of this. So you do a good deed for somebody else to pay karma forward basically.

simon

So you might pay for an extra coffee and the next person gets it for free.

jo

Exactly, exactly so it’s all about karma on the internet and karma kind of universal karma. So I was in a really terrible sandwich shop the other day and I may have looked slightly pathetic because they don’t take card or anything, so I was fishing loads of 20ps and shrapnel out this tiny little child’s purse that I have, so I did look a picture of Charles Dickens when I was doing it. I just sort of had my sandwich and put it on the side and I was trying to get the money out and this guy came, swooped in out of nowhere, “I’ll get that for you” and I went, “Oh no, no don’t, don’t worry about it. No it’s fine.” “No, no, no let me get it for you. I’ll get it for you.” I went, “No, no really you don’t have to do that, it’s fine, it’s fine.” He was like, “Please, I have to do this, just let me get it for you.” And I went, “Okay” and then just put a bag of crisps in with it, make the most out of it. And I thought kind of put it on the internet to gauge myself I was like is this part… And people came back going I think you were part of a pay it forward thing.

And then when I was in Tesco, another high quality supermarket the other day, I happened to walk past this long t-shirt thing and I picked it up and thought that would be nice for my holidays, my jolly holidays; picked it up and as a guy came swooping to the side and went, “That would look really nice on you, would you like me to buy it for you?” And I went, “No you’re alright actually, I’m fine.” He went, “Really? I can buy that for you if you’d like to.” And I went, “No, no you're fine. But thanks very much for the offer.” It’s like what is that?

simon

What’s happening?

jo

Yeah. Is that just creepy or is it a pay it forward thing? I don’t know.

caro

I think you’d just pulled.

jo

Lucky me.

steve

Yeah on both occasions, yeah.

simon

Whether they’re being a nice person but it’s also slightly…

caro

Creepy.

simon

…I don’t know, yeah, you’re kind of what’s going on?

jo

Yeah. And should I have said yes.

steve

Is it creepy? I don’t know if it’s too creepy.

jo

Oh it was a bit creepy. Although it wasn’t saying it in a creepy manner he was like, “I’ll get that for you now.” It was more like a…

simon

And then I’ll buy you dinner later is that what he said?

jo

No I don’t know…

simon

So he stopped at the right…

jo

It was more a caring relative type like, “That would look really nice on you” and I thought “Hm creepy.”

simon

Are you being patronised that’s the problem.

jo

And should I?

simon

Because it is a nice thing but is it…

jo

Well I should I just give him my ((0:07:11.8?)) shopping basket and he can just get it online you know, going to settle with a Tesco’s dress.

simon

Living the dream.

jo

Exactly.

simon

Thank you, Jo. Caro, moment of the month for you?

caro

Well I have a couple as well. There was one moment, I say a moment, it was something I saw on the internet and it was about the Glastonbury Festival and Kanye West was performing and it was being transmitted live on the BBC. It was about the subtitlers and I always feel sorry for the subtitlers at any time doing any comedy typing and things like that.

simon

When it’s live do you mean?

caro

This is live rap.

steve

Oh wow.

caro

And Kanye West apparently, I don’t know I’ve never really followed him, but apparently he sings very fast, very fast and he says a lot of rude words. And you know what the BBC are like about language and they did say before transmission that there would be swearing and things like that, they didn’t bother with the bleeping because it would have been bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep and so they didn’t bother. But it’s quite interesting in the subtitling they wouldn’t allow swearing on the subtitling. So am I allowed to swear on this programme?

simon

Yeah, we’ll bleep you out.

caro

So the word motherfucker was replaced by motherducker. And bleep was replaced by ligger. L-i-g-g-e-r.

steve

Which isn’t even a word though is it?

caro

Whatever. So you’re allowed to hear it but you’re not allowed to read it. So I felt really sorry for the typists because you know you have a pattern with your fingers when you're typing particular words and these are not real proper words are they? Anyway the typist, poor typist was typing away and in the end he couldn’t cope with the speed so he just put in brackets (he raps). Bless him. And apparently he kept trying to do motherducker and ligger and motherducker, ligger. Apparently I think he gave up because up on the screen came up “How much more of this, Bev? How much longer is this going to go on?” I’d love to know who this Bev is.

jo

Broken.

caro

She has the power to make him type. So that was one moment in the deaf world. But I think the hearing people were also tuning in and they were saying on Twitter “You’ve got to put your subtitles on it’s hilarious, it’s really funny.” So he got a lot of attention on that. But the wrong type of attention possibly because, I don’t know, if he wants to be known as “He raps”…

steve

He’s getting the wrong type of attention all over the place at the moment isn’t he?

simon

Who Kanye West?

steve

Yeah.

simon

Probably. That’s a tough subtitling gig that one isn’t it?

caro

Oh gosh absolutely. I mean it’s hard enough in the courts and they have these professional stenographers I think they’re called where they’re just bashing away. And that’s at normal speech speed. But rapping is a total… I just feel for the people who are typing any kind of music programme on this rap.

simon

And what was your second, Caro?

caro

The second one is actually it’s about when I was in France picking up the award…

simon

Very good.

caro

…for the best actress. And in this film I play a fat actress who has to lose weight for whatever reason. The film is called ‘If I don’t lose, I’ll lose’ and I am a large person in it. And it’s really funny in sign language there’s no subtleties at all. So I had all these people from all other the world coming up to me and signing, “You’re the fat lady” and I must say I loved it.

jo

I’d have been furious.

caro

I like it when my curves are appreciated. No I love it when my curves are appreciated. They’re hard work my curves, they’re very demanding. I have to eat cake and pies all the time just to maintain my curves. 

simon

That’s why you’re an award winner because you're dedicated.

caro

I think I was the largest person on that stage and it was quite nice to be of a minority, because everyone else was deaf.

simon

So when you’re saying sign language has no subtlety, so there’s not a kind of a “Oh you look like an ample woman” it is fat, that’s what you do.

caro

It’s just “You look… ((making a noise to indicate sign language)) which is quite…

simon

Which is quite nice because it’s direct and straight forward.

caro

It’s very direct. Absolutely.

simon

And no faffing around. It’s straight in.

caro

No, no. That’s it. They knew how I was by my curves.

simon

Brilliant.

steve

That’s great. Thanks Caro. And so, Simon, what about your moment of the month?

simon

I’ve got two as well.

steve

Goodness, I’ve only got one.

simon

Nobody’s sticking to the rules anymore. One relates a little bit to Jo’s. I have quite a fancy pants car and I wanted to get… Caro’s nodding because I gave you a lift in it the other day. And I had to get this USB charger thing and it means you can play the music through… And it’s for a BMW. And this USB cable is like £40 and you know it’s not really £40 worth of technology. Anyway so I spoke to the guy in the shop and he said, “It’s forty quid” and I said, “Well I bought three or four of them off eBay and none of them work” and he said, “Yeah they’re a bit fiddly, do you want to give it a quick try and then come back and tell me?” And at the moment my hips are giving me so much grief and I looked at him and went, “You know what, the pain I’m in at the moment just even walking back to my car is really quite an effort, I don’t know whether I just chance it or do you want to come?” And I was getting a bit faffy. Anyway to cut a long story short I did go out and he came out and he helped me and it was really lovely. I went back in and he said, “I’ve given you 10% off as well.” And I went, “Thanks very much.” I was thrilled because it’s 10% off a very expensive cable. But again I knew I was… If I hadn’t said I’ve got real pain in my legs would I have got 10% off? Should I now tell everybody when I buy something I’ve got painful legs and I get…

caro

Particularly houses.

simon

((0:12:59.4?))

steve

If you were Jo you’d get it for free.

simon

Well actually yeah.

jo

Don’t stop at 10%.

simon

If I was a small wolf they would have been giving them to me. I don’t know. Again it was a lovely thing to do but there’s that other bit in your brain that goes, “Oh am I being a bit patronised or something.” The other bit I had you probably all saw this there was that viral clip where someone in Brazil had parked their car in a disabled parking bay, and then this… Have you not seen this, Jo?

jo

No, no.

steve

It’s great.

simon

Caro’s seen it.

caro

It’s hilarious.

simon

So there’s about six people who descend on it and they’ve got lots of blue post-it notes that they put over the car. There’s probably 3,000 post-it notes all over the car with a big sort of disability symbol, wheelchair symbol. And then there’s loads of people start arriving and they’re filming it and showing it. And then the chap who did it who clearly was illegal and he shouldn’t have parked there, he’s so angry. The police are standing there and this guy’s trying to rip off all these post-in notes.

jo

Oh brilliant.

steve

It’s really hard to get off the post-it notes, it’s really hard.

simon

We’ll have to put a link up if you haven’t seen it because it was a brilliant stunt and it was great. But there was something and I don’t know because when he got back there were so many people surrounding it, there’s loads of people filming it and there was a lot of jeering. And part of me says, “Yes you’re an idiot you shouldn’t have parked there” but I was talking about this with another friend and she kind of suggested was that too far? Was the punishment, the joke did it go too far that this guy was completely and utterly humiliated as well?

jo

Of course not. Idiot shouldn’t have parked there.

caro

The thing that alarmed me was he drove off with all these post-its on the windows so he couldn’t have seen properly out.

steve

He was trying to push off the windscreen and he just couldn’t do it and he was looking out of his door more or less.

 

caro

Quite scary. I’m surprised that the policeman didn’t stop him from leaving.

simon

Or you could end up being disabled because he wouldn’t have been able to see and crash his car and then you get a real badge.

steve

I don’t think the stunt went too far. I think if he had been a bit kind of what’s the word…

simon

Conciliatory, embarrassed?

steve

Yeah, yeah and taken it and said, “I’m really sorry” and more or less laughed about it and said, “I won’t do it again” then you think okay. But because he was so angry about it you don’t feel sorry for the guy really at all.

jo

Oh no.

steve

You’re meant to I think.

simon

I know I thought it was a great stunt and it was a brilliant stunt I mean they did it so well but there was just that bit of me that wondered oh okay. But maybe it was… You know what it was it was like having 200 people standing around filming you as you get really worked up. But the flip side of it is if I was a disabled person and that’s my space gone I’d be standing there getting really furious.

jo

Yeah absolutely, yeah.

simon

So maybe yeah comeuppance.

caro

And there comes to a point doesn’t there when you think I’ve got to do something about it and these people did. They must have worked really fast because as you say there were thousands of these post-it’s on the car.

simon

Mr Best, moment of the month?

steve

Well that was mine as well. I was thinking about that one. I suppose this is one. I keep watching stuff on my tablet, late at night I watch episodes of things. And I was running out of things to do and someone said “Why haven’t you tried Dare Devil?” Have you seen Dare Devil?

simon

I know the film. Ben Affleck.

steve

Oh yes, yes but this is the series. There’s a series.

simon

TV yeah.

steve

But the disability side of it, it was quite strange. Because he can’t see, he gets an acid or radioactive kind of acid attack when he’s a kid so he loses his sight, and then he becomes a really good fighter, so he wears a mask. I’ve only watched a few episodes but I’m going to carry on with it. But the idea that he’d lost his sight but his hearing had become really good and I thought that was all a myth and the fact that you’re hearing… And I asked someone and they said, “Well actually it was because of the radioactive substance that went into the…

jo

You're not selling this.

steve

No, no exactly. It kind of slightly put me off the series. I think it’s really well done, it’s quite violent.

jo

It’s about fighting? He’s just a fighter?

steve

He’s a superhero. ((overlapping voices - 0:16:47.6?)) so it’s like Spiderman or Superman.

jo

It’s not like Fight Club?

steve

No. But you know with Spiderman he gets beaten by a radioactive spider and all they’ve got on this is that he got blinded by this acid but then he’s got this super hearing. So he can fight because he can hear all around him. But it just seems to be to extreme. And I don’t know whether I’m losing the will I’m not too sure.

simon

No I think you're joining the disability critical club and that’s quite impressive. The film, the Ben Affleck film, came out maybe five/ten years ago and got really slated for being way over the top and it was just a really pants film. I explained to a couple of blind people about Dare Devil TV show and they’re saying this is better, it seems to be a bit more… Well saying that, acid attack and you get super hearing is a bit silly. But it sounded like they’d got it a little bit better, but you’re still saying maybe not.

steve

Only because I asked someone who’s not disabled and they he said oh no, no if you lose your sight you definitely get more… Your other senses are more… but that’s not true though is it?

simon

No.

steve

There we go.

simon

We’ve been trying to dispel that for a long time.

steve

Exactly. So I wonder why people still think that then?

caro

I just have to butt in here. Is the actor who’s playing the Dare Devil is he blind?

steve

I don’t think he is. That’s a good point actually.

simon

I’d be very surprised.

caro

Carry on.

steve

That’s a good point actually because you want more disabled people to take lead roles.

simon

Presumably, Caro, because you are deaf does that mean your eyesight is fantastic?

caro

Oh no, no I’m going blind. It’s not true at all. I think we might be more observant in different ways with sight, but I don’t think we have particularly better eyesight.

simon

But that’s that. And they’re saying people who are blind you use your hearing better, you use it in different ways. But it doesn’t suddenly become super?

caro

That’s right.

simon

You get magical hearing.

steve

But that’s the slight problem with this series is that the incident at the beginning when he’s a kid you aren’t given enough information of why he suddenly has such good hearing unless they come back to it throughout the series.

simon

Could be a reveal.

steve

Might to yeah. But there we go.

simon

Well done, Steve.

Jo

((overlapping voices - 0:18:55.3?))

simon

Steve sometimes struggles to find moment of the month.

steve

I always struggle.

simon

You’re doing it. Your late night TV.

steve

So there we go. Coming up next we’ll speak to Caro and Jo about disability, deafness, comedy and the Edinburgh Fringe.

simon

Festival.

steve

Pause.

[If you’d like to get in touch you can email us on podcast@abnormallyfunnypeople.com].

simon

Lovely to have you here, Caro. I’m very excited about having you here. I’ve known you around the deaf disability arts scene for quite some time but I haven’t asked you this, also for listeners: how did you first get involved in this?

caro

Well I started off just working professionally as an actress. And through my jobs working in theatre I came across Graeae Theatre. And they were set up in the 1980s; Nabil Shaban and a tall guy called Richard - for the life of me I can’t remember his last name. But they set up this theatre company and I got some work with them. And also around the time of the ‘80s there was a cabaret club called ‘The Workhouse’ and they only had disabled people performing in this cabaret. And I used to go to these cabarets. And so that’s how I really got involved in the performing disability arts side of things.

simon

And do you consider yourself… I see you as an actor or actress more so, but you do comedy with us in Abnormally Funny People.

caro

Yes I do stand-up comedy and I also have a cabaret act in which I just sign songs. 

simon

These are a joy. I’ve seen you do ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Red Shoes’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and it’s a kind of a piece of art in itself; it’s funny but it’s artistic and it’s beautiful and you’re so expressive and so on. And again where did the idea of this come in or come about?

caro

Well I’ve always enjoyed listening to music, even as a deaf person you can still enjoy music.

simon

And do you have some residual hearing or vibrations?

caro

Yes with hearing aids I can hear high pitch frequencies and I can feel the drum beats. But music-wise I cannot hear a double bass or the lower end of a piano if that helps.

simon

So you choose Freddie Mercury singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Kate Bush because they’ve got quite high voices or is that a coincidence?

caro

It’s not just to do that. I tend to choose songs that have a story or I can find a story in the song. So it’s not just words blah, blah, blah.

steve

So you don’t translate the words word-for-word, you translate the story?

caro

Yes that’s right. Or it’s my own take on the story. And for some reason whatever I do is funny. So Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t set out to be funny, it just happened.

simon

But that’s - and this is going to come out , it’s meant to be a compliment - but it’s because you can pull great faces.

caro

Yes.

simon

Or funny faces.

caro

Yes.

simon

And there is that bit in the middle when they go to the big guitar and you play that hell for leather.

caro

Yes I just head bang like mad. It’s the only way. I mean not only do I express the words, but I express the music and the emotions as well as the story within the song.

simon

And there is that bit isn’t it where they’re talking to each other in Bohemian Rhapsody and you’re kind of flipping…

caro

Yes and I do role shift. In sign language it’s called role shift when I take on the persona of the person being.

simon

And the dancing and signing all at that same time this is just completely natural now.

caro

Yes.

simon

This is your stick.

caro

Well I trained in mime. And I use a lot of my mime skills in sign language, in signing songs. So if people are sitting in the audience and they hate mime, they don’t realise they’re watching mime being used when I sign songs.

simon

We will have to put a clip up because it’s a joy and come to watch the Abnormally Funny People Show in Edinburgh because it’s a joy to watch, it really is.

steve

And also in the previews, the first time I’ve seen it because I was standing at the back of the stage rather than watching it from the front and it’s actually also great watching it from the side because you see the audience laughing and you’re walking away from them as well. You see it from a different angle which is great as well.

simon

So you’re up in Edinburgh for the festival.

caro

Yes I’m doing AFP.

simon

Thank you very much. But you're doing your own stuff as well?

caro

I’m at this theatre show called ‘Edmund the Learned Pig’ and it’s with Krazy Kat Fittings Multimedia Arts commissioned by the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre. And it’s part of the British showcase, the British Council Showcase.

simon

Ah okay.

caro

And we’re hoping to tour with this worldwide.

simon

So like cue Edinburgh you're trying to hope that people come along, see it and say…

caro

Yeah. We’re at the Summer Hall at ten to twelve in the day.

simon

Jess Thom, Touretteshero, is she part of that British Council thing?

caro

I think so. I’m not really sure who else is in the British Council thing, she probably is.

simon

Do you do a whole hour on your own or is there a few of you?

caro

Oh yes we’ve got an hour and ten minute show. It’s actually been reduced from a two hour show with an interval into an hour and ten without an interval. And of course the changeovers are really fast in theatre. We’ve got this huge set and loads of props to set up in 15 minutes. Do a show and they take it all down again.

steve

That’s very Edinburgh isn’t it where you’ve so small time to…

caro

Yes, yes.

simon

Ours is a bit more simple than that isn’t it?

caro

Yes.

simon

We’ve kept it simple.

caro

I’m coming for a rest.

simon

First time in Edinburgh or have you done a few runs?

caro

I made my professional debut at Edinburgh Fringe back in 1983. So yes.

simon

Wow!

caro

It’s always amazing to go back because the festival every year I go back, I don’t go back every year, but every time I go back it grows, it’s a bigger festival.

steve

It’s massive now isn’t it? It’s huge.

caro

It’s huge now. And I’m only going to see shows that I know people in. I think that’s the best way. You’re nodding, Jo, you agree it’s very difficult to see very show in Edinburgh.

jo

Yeah. I think I’d like to go and see more… Every time you see the comics that you want to see I’d really like to see some theatre and different things this time. And maybe take a gamble on…

steve

That’s the whole thing with Edinburgh. I think it’s changing slightly now because I think there was a time when it was really experimental, you could just go up and try stuff. That’s why the free Fringe that’s comes on now is good because that’s gone back to the old style of what Edinburgh was all about to start with.

caro

Yet it’s so expensive to go and see a show.

steve

But not now so much because of the Free Fringe. So that leads nicely on to Jo, not saying you’re a freebie. But Jo you’ve done some stand-up with Abnormally Funny People before, a long time ago at the Soho Theatre.

jo

A long time ago yeah.

steve

And that’s the first time I saw you. And we got the impression that you were dabbling then and it sounds like you’re not dabbling so much, you’ve actually gone fulltime into it. Is that what’s happening now?

jo

Kind of yeah, yeah as much as you try and get rid of it and it just keeps coming back.

steve

Well I remember at the beginning you were quite, not nervous, shy about doing it and you were really not sure.

jo

I gave up for a while in the middle of it and went away and really thought about my act and stuff and what I wanted to say.

steve

We’re going to hear what you’ve got to say, we’re going to have a little clip of Ms Jo Coffey.

[Playing clip: You guys at the back can’t even see me. It’ll be a nice surprise when you get off. Yeah really short, yeah let’s dress it really short. I want to put your minds at rest because basically I absolutely hate short people. Can’t stand them. One’s alright, anymore and it goes a little bit Channel 4 documentary. Let’s face it. I’m going to back that statement up because basically the problem is as a short person when you see another short person in the supermarket you, that short person, and everyone else around you will automatically presume you’re going to sleep together. Because that’s what happened in the Wizard of Oz.]

steve

That was very funny. It was really funny. I really liked it. And I don’t know how to say it without being pat--… because I think you’ve massively come on since I saw--… You were good then…

jo

Thank you.

steve

...it’s just leaps and bounds.

jo

It’s just gigging loads isn’t it? Just getting out there.

steve

You are gigging loads?

jo

Yeah, yeah just gigging all the time. And not so much in London gigging round which is the slip side of it that you’re in Kenilworth or you’re Midlands up and then Manchester you pop to places like I’m just going to pop to Nottingham for a gig. It’s like who pops to Nottingham it’s not normal.

simon

We get lots of people write to us and say I want to be a comedian and how do I do it? And I don’t know so normally Steve answers. But one of the bits he always says is stage time.

jo

Yeah exactly.

simon

Write your stuff and can get the stage time. So when you first did it with us that was the ((0:27:50.0?)) you do them very infrequently. But now you’re saying right I’m taking every gig, I’m practicing and then you know what works and what doesn’t.

jo

I’m MC’ing more as well.

simon

Wow!

jo

And doing longer slots and not being… So I used to really stick to my set and be like right this is my ten to 15 minutes I’m not going to now try and throw in loads of different stuff. I kind of do… like just try and throw in as much material as you can basically and see, obviously on the not so big gigs, on the big gigs I wouldn’t just do…

steve

Are you finding, because I’ve been doing the circuit a long, long time, and I’ve noticed in the last five years it’s really changed. The middle ground where everybody made a very nice living has gone. And then you’ve got the top end and a lot of people are coming into it.

jo

Yeah definitely.

steve

So are you scrabbling around for gigs or you just know… There are a lot of gigs on to do I think.

jo

I think the bigger clubs make you kind of obviously you have to go and progress, you’re constantly looking for progression and it’s a lot harder to get progression from the bigger clubs. If you go to The Glee Club their waiting list is about six months to get on. Comedia is good, Comedia are really good at sourcing. Steve will go and pick out who he wants and put you on on a Sunday so you get really good experience of being in, you know… But one of my first big clubs was in Edinburgh and I did Spank and everyone got naked and there were pyrotechnics. It scared the living daylights out of me I nearly didn’t go back. A lot of the other big--… Well not that I do all the time but there are some really lovely northern clubs like Just a Tonic and The Glees and stuff that we’ve been doing. Because I’m from the Midlands anyway so it’s quite easy for me to…

steve

Oh so yeah and also somewhere like The Glee will have try out bits where you can try out some material.

jo

Yeah, exactly, yeah. The audiences in Birmingham are brilliant.

steve

Yeah supportive.

jo

People will come out. And there are some really good kind of ((0:29:42.5?)) they’ll have professional comics on nights that run in pubs and like in rock clubs and stuff like that. And packed audiences, people will come.

steve

That’s good. I think that’s changing. London’s not quite like that I think.

jo

No, no it isn’t. I find no worth in going to a gig where there’s loads of comedians unless you want to do a workshop, but you know.

simon

And the disability part, I think I like to think now that if you’re a comedian that happens to have a disability or a difference or whatever, it’s fine, that’s not unusual anymore, we’ve kind of gone beyond that so it’s not an issue.

jo

Yes, it’s fine, yeah.

simon

And I watched your stuff as well and I really laughed out loud at the video that you sent us. You do talk about being short and stuff, are you kind of cool with that or was there ever a time where you thought I’m not going to go there or are you like I’ll weave it in and out and it just depends?

jo

Yeah, I mean I do, I think with everything, when I come on stage you have to say it, I tried to not say it once in Edinburgh a couple of times and died hideously and I couldn’t understand why and I was like I’d kind of get 20 minutes into it and would say no, but almost you’re allowed to laugh, none of this is serious basically, or this is all a joke, and people would go, oh god, thank goodness and start laughing, you could see them physically relax. So I moved that all to the front and it was fine then. So even in my Edinburgh show where I’m not really doing about disability at all, I’m doing the first sort of five, ten minutes saying that I’m not the shortest comedian on the circuit, I’m number four, so it looks really rubbish on my posters and everything like that and a lot of the stuff’s about really stupid characters, but I have to still mention it, I think you really do, you can’t get away with not.

simon

You’ve got to sort of make it an issue so it’s a non-issue.

jo

Yeah, so even in one line so the sort of entrance line that I come on sometimes and say, which I could just go on with that and then move on really, but I do have to address it, particularly if I’ve had trouble… Well, this is the funny one actually, I used to address when I’d had trouble getting up on the stage and then that never went well ever, I’d never get a laugh for it and I did try every date, like kind of oh you know, that was this, that was this, and people would be like oh I really don’t care, like I really… and it suddenly occurred to me that they perhaps, they couldn’t see it, they couldn’t see the fact that I’d just been winched on stage or like kind of it’s a big problem to me because I’m worrying about getting on the stage, but people really didn’t notice. Well, I hope not.

steve

What about when you’re on stage, because I mean Tanyalee Davis would stand on a chair but on that clip you were just on the stage?

jo

Yeah, that stage was fine because it was slightly raised. It’s a hard one, I mean I wouldn’t stand on anything because I wouldn’t really be able to get up there, so I’d stand on a stage if it’s there and in the Edinburgh show we’re talking to Kate at the moment about putting some sort of… because I think everything’s going to be on the flat so they’re just going to see here and I’ve got some props with me which I need them to be able to see that on chairs so I’m going to try and craft a stage out of it there.

simon

Tanyalee’s probably the first shortest.

jo

Oh, Tanyalee’s a superstar on the stage. I’d better build my own.

steve

But are you still doing other bits as in TV, the producing-y bits and…?

jo

Yes I am, I’m sort of not doing the kind of, or I haven’t for a while, done the sort of  big ‘X Factors’, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, all that stuff, I’ve kind of moved on to, I did a fantastic show this year which I really enjoyed called ‘Ninja Warrior’ which was brilliant, it’s like this massive obstacle course that people are desperate to do, it’s lots of athletes.

simon

Oh!

jo

Yeah, it was brilliant.

simon

I did see that.

jo

It was really good, it was so much fun to film, it was a ridiculous amount of fun to film.

simon

And wasn’t there a clip with a man who runs on naked?

jo

Oh that’s in Holland or somewhere, yeah we didn’t get any of that. Shame we didn’t get any of that. We had a Gladiator.

steve

Oh, that’s another clip we should put on.

simon

Sorry, Caro, this is an activity course that they all do and you have to be really fit.

jo

Yeah.

simon

But there’s one guy who runs on and he’s naked and they chase him for a bit but he’s quite fit isn’t he so he does most of the course.

jo

Yeah, because it’s really difficult.

cara

Like a ninja thing.

steve

The guy was just about to start and then this guy just runs on. But he’s good at it though isn’t he?

jo

Yeah, I’ve seen it and then there’s the woman in America who’s like quite a short woman and she runs the course like at one of the stages, just completely clears it, it’s like wow. So yeah, that was really good fun to make, but as far as the kind of the ‘Big Brother’ and ‘X Factor’ I haven’t done for a couple of years because I’ve sort of been concentrating… Oh, I did the jungle, what am I talking about? I worked in Australia and did ‘I’m a Celebrity’. So yeah disregard all the last bit.

simon

I remember the last ((0:34:21?)) for me there’s always that point, Lost Voice Guy, Lee Ridley, who’s just given up his day job to now become a full time comic, you still have to earn your money and do the gigs in the evening, do you think there’ll be a point where you can start earning enough from stand-up?

Jo

Oh I’d really like to, I would really, really like to. It’s really difficult, as you said, the circuit is…

steve

It’s gone strange I think.

jo

It’s so hard.

steve

There’s enough gigs out there to ply your trade and do the stuff but to actually make a living out of it, it’s a big jump.

jo

Yeah, yeah, yeah it is. And then you kind of clear your circuit and you’re like right okay, I’m doing well at gigs and stuff and you kind of move up a level and you come back on to another circuit and you’re like oh wow no, everyone’s brilliant, I don’t even want to go there, I don’t want to go to work tonight because everyone’s fantastic and you’re like, oh. But, you know, so it’s upping your game isn’t it all the time as well. But it is, financially it’s such a difficult thing to be able to sustain. Just all driving all around the country nonstop as well which costs, so hopefully, fingers crossed. Although I do love being a TV producer as well.

simon

Thank you, Jo. In a moment we’re going to be speaking with Shannon Murray who’s in Los Angeles.

 

[Jingle: If you’d like to get in touch you can email us on podcast@abnormallyfunnypeople.com.]

steve

Hello Shannon, how are you? How is life in Los Angeles? Did I say that right, Los Angeles?

shannon

Well you can say it any way you like. Los Angeles is lovely, it’s sunny, it’s about 92 degrees, but things took a little bit of a bad turn since I spoke to you last. I had some very good news, I landed a great part in a drama, and then two days before I was due to start shooting I fell out of my chair and I broke my leg pretty badly.

simon

Crikey.

shannon

Which has kind of put paid to anything for the past six weeks.

steve

So you got the job? What happened to the job? They held on for you or you couldn’t get the job?

shannon

No, it had to go to the next person so I didn’t get the job, I lost it.

steve

Oh no.

shannon

Which was rather gutting, but I’m trying to keep philosophical and say that things happen for a reason, and there are worse places to recuperate than sunny LA.

Simon

Well what was the reason, I mean what happened, had you had too much wine or something? What happened?

shannon

No, there was no alcohol involved whatsoever, I was simply bending down to pick something up out of my chair and I lost my balance and I tippled forward and my right leg went in the other direction.

simon

Ow!

shannon

There is nothing quite like feeling your own broken bone in your leg I’ve got to say it guys, you don’t want to ever feel that sensation.

caro

That’s gory, that’s so gory.

shannon

I know, I’m sorry.

simon

And how are the reactions from other people, being a wheelchair user with a broken leg?

shannon

I mean this has been quite hilarious. I’m having to keep my leg extended and elevated so a friend of mine built me a plank that’s attached to my chair, my leg is in a leg immobiliser to keep it totally straight. And I’m very lucky in that my apartment is very open plan so I can actually get round in my chair, the problem is I can’t really get in and out of any cars because I can’t bend my leg. But when I have gone to local shops or restaurants or made it out to the beach it’s actually been quite amazing how much I can get around because access out here is so good that I’m not having to worry about steps, I can still get into accessible bathrooms even with my leg which is like 36 inches long out in front of me, and I can still fit in places which would be impossible in London. But lots of people keep stopping me and saying oh you know, what’s wrong, get better soon and when are you going to be up walking again, it slightly blows their mind when I say I’m not going to be up and walking again, I’m actually paralysed, and then they go a little bit white and I say no, no it’s fine, that’s an old injury, that’s fine, I’ve dealt with that, that’s all processed, that was 25 years ago. But people look very, very confused. There’s people shouting out of cars saying get well soon! It’s very friendly.

steve

I just think it’s a very funny reaction, that that happens, that they think you’re in a wheelchair because of your leg I suppose.

shannon

Yeah totally, and it’s funny because when I go around as a paraplegic nobody shouts out get well soon.

steve

Oh course, yeah.

shannon

But with my leg on a plank I’m really popular.

simon

You’re also quite stylish and you’re into looking good, I mean this must be a nightmare isn’t it with a wooden plank sticking out with your leg on it?

shannon

Well it would have been except luckily because it is so hot here, I mean the only thing I can get over the leg immobiliser is shorts and it is so boiling I’m just wearing shorts and vests the whole time, so luckily it’s a good place to get better.

simon

So yeah, so the bit I was going to ask, so you were coming back which would have been lovely, you had work so we could all have seen you in everything, but how is, well presumably how is the acting work hunt going in LA or are you having to pause it for the time being?

shannon

At the minute I’m having to pause it because everything is such a quick turnaround that when you get called in to be seen it’s always the next day so obviously… But I did go to an audition out here about two weeks ago with my leg on a plank and I explained, I said this is temporary, I don’t always go round like a pirate with my leg on a plank. So hopefully we’ll see what happens. But it’s a novelty.

steve

There’s no roles for someone with a leg on a plank then? You haven’t got a good agent?

shannon

No, I’m pushing for it. I do think the diversity needs to be increased, wheelchair users that’s fine but you know, come on, leg on a plank there’s so much more to offer. But I am looking forward to just being a straightforward paraplegic again.

simon

So it’s the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s the 25th anniversary this year in America, are things happening over there for this, Shannon?

shannon

There are, there are a lot more events happening because it was actually signed on July 26th 1990, so July seems to be a very busy month with lots of events. Last week in New York they had the first Disability Pride parade which wasn’t dissimilar to the very big parades that we see for Gay Pride and the whole community was coming together, different disabilities that are normally fairly segregated by their diagnosis all came together and it looked pretty impressive I’ve got to say, there was about I think 4,000 people doing the parade down Broadway, and New York’s mayor has now said that that will now be an annual event. So that’s a positive thing to come out of it.

steve

That wasn’t Disability Gay Pride was it, or just Disability Pride?

simon

Are you serious? No.

Jo

That’s some festival.

steve

That would be a very niche kind of a… yeah.

shannon

They can have their own spinoff next year for sure but this year there was no segregation, it was Disability Pride for gay, straight, whatever, happy for everyone to be there.

steve

I’ve got you.

simon

I saw some pictures from that and was very pleased to see short people from Little People of America strolling, you’re right, I mean it was just a real ragtag of loads of people with different impairments wasn’t it?

shannon

Yeah, exactly, it wasn’t the usual thing where you have, you know, everybody kind of tends to stick a little bit to their clique, and this was very much everyone coming together, which I think is a good thing because we’ve all got different stories and experiences we can share and learn from.

simon

That pride bit, I think, I mean I would do that, I just think I’d feel really empowered. Would you do this?

caro

I was just thinking, do we have a Disability Pride march over here in the UK?

simon

They do the thing, it used to be in Trafalgar Square, in September there’s a sort of mayor’s…

caro

Oh Liberty, the Liberty Festival, yes. That’s happening on 26th July, but you’re right, it’s usually the end of August.

simon

It’s not really a march per se, it’s more a performance isn’t it?

caro

No, it’s just a day of disability arts out there in the big wide world of society.

steve

Why don’t you guys start one up? Let’s start one up. Abnormally Funny People.

shannon

You could have a float just like Notting Hill, just going down the street in a parade.

jo

I’ve always wanted a float.

shannon

You see, the float’s a good idea, everybody wants to be on the float.

simon

I want to do the Ferris Bueller ‘Twist and Shout’, that would be great.

caro

Yes.

simon

Anything else ADA-wise or is it…? Oh saying that, I’m meant to be coming over to New York, there’s a big event in New York with Matt Fraser who’s organising a sort of cabaret night?

shannon

Oh yes, I think Matt’s being pretty active in New York at the minute. I wish I was out there to go and see some of his stuff because he’s keeping very busy and it looks very cool.

simon

Yeah, it should be fun, it should be great.

shannon

I think you should get on a plane and just go from New York to LA and come out here.

simon

Oh, I do want to come and see you and I’d love to come to LA, we’ll work it out. Anything else from you, Shannon?

shannon

No, the only other thing I would add just when I was just thinking about the funny thing that happened when I did actually fall is that out here, sorry I’m just being reminded because there are sirens going past my apartment, a fire truck automatically comes when you call an ambulance, so in my apartment there were about three or four paramedics and about four firemen and that’s pretty embarrassing I’ve got to say when you’re trying to explain to them that you’re already paraplegic but you’ve got a broken leg and they’re looking very bemused.

steve

So why does the fire truck come out as well then?

shannon

Well in case they need to break down a door to get in, so they automatically send one. I’m not entirely sure if that’s the best use of resources. I didn’t point that out to them at the time, but yeah you do get a great big fire engine and an ambulance and your neighbours looking out of the windows, it’s pretty awesome.

simon

And normally four firemen in your apartment would be fun but not when you’ve got a broken leg.

shannon

I mean that would be a party.

steve

That’s a Friday night that is.

shannon

Exactly, that’s a quiet night in.

simon

When’s the splint coming off, or when are you going to be recovered, do you know?

shannon

I had another x-ray last week, I’ve got about another four weeks before I’m allowed to put my leg down in its normal wheelchair position, I’ve got to start some physio but obviously this is America so I’m going back and forth with regarding expenditure. Don’t lose the NHS, it’s really worth it. It might not be perfect but it’s better than the alternative out here.

simon

Well we wish you well, Shannon, and speedy recovery.

shannon

Thank you.

simon

Lovely to speak to you.

shannon

Lovely to speak to you guys as always and I’ll speak to you next month.

steve

Lovely, bye.

simon

Bye.

jo

Get well soon.

caro

Heal soon.

shannon

Bye-bye.

 

[Jingle: Have a question or a comment? You can also text us or leave a voicemail on 07756 190561.]

simon

We’re coming up to the end of the show. A big thank you to Jo Coffey and Caro Sparks, and we’re going to put up the links to your shows so people can find out what you’re up to in Edinburgh, but before you go…

steve

So besides Edinburgh young lady, what else are you up to, Jo?

jo

I’m going to finish Edinburgh and go home and take a long hard look at my life and figure out where it all went wrong. No, I might possibly be going back to the jungle.

simon

Just for our American listeners?

jo

Yeah, so there’s a programme called ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ that’s in a jungle, I don’t know if they have it in America actually, it’s just started in Germany, I know that, and we put loads of celebrities in the jungle and we leave them there and we film them. And so I did it last year, I’ve done it two years running, one from the UK and one over in Australia last year.

steve

How long did you stay in Australia for?

jo

About two months.

steve

Really? Wow.

jo

Yeah, if not a little bit longer. But I was doing the live show because I usually do live TV, the one with Rob Beckett so I was getting my act in there.

steve

I know Rob, he’s a stand-up.

jo

Yeah, he’s great, he’s absolutely brilliant. Yeah, so I was doing that and it’s all jolly good fun, so hopefully I’ll get to do that again.

simon

I find the show, every time it starts I look and kind of go I don’t know any of these celebrities and I’ve seen this a hundred times, within about a week I cannot stop watching it and I record both, so the live show and also the follow up show.

jo

Oh good. Good, good, good.

simon

I know, but it’s a bit like Wimbledon, when it finally stops you’re like, there’s nothing to watch, I’ve lost something.

jo

Yeah, well imagine how we feel, we’re watching it 24 hours, particularly in things like ‘Big Brother’ and stuff because it never goes, it doesn’t stop.

simon

Yes, you’re right.

jo

So you’re just watching and if you wanted to you could work for 24, well we do, for 24 hours a day nonstop for three and a half months.

simon

Well good luck with that and I hope also, I remember the first time I did Edinburgh, have you done Edinburgh in a solo show before?

jo

No I haven’t, I’m really nervous.

simon

I was petrified and I’d not even done stand-up, the point of it was you saying afterwards, I remember coming back and for about a week afterwards my girlfriend at the time and other friends said I’ve never seen you so relaxed, it was like a sense of achievement…

jo

A weight had been lifted.

simon

Well yes, you’d done something on the bucket list and had survived it and it went well and I just remember feeling so calm for quite a while, it was a big relief.

steve

And Simon was only doing six minutes of that.

caro

Well maybe it was exhaustion.

simon

Yes, could be. Caro, besides Edinburgh what else are you up to? Where can people see you?

caro

I’m about to go into R&D, research and development, with a theatre company called Red Earth who are doing a production of ‘Oliver Twist’ and I’ve been told to look at the character of Fagin. So that will be quite interesting for a deaf and fat woman playing that.

steve

That’s a big part.

jo

That will be amazing.

caro

And that will be touring next spring, but also at the moment I’m looking for panto work because I love doing panto so I’m looking for a job.

simon

I suspect me and Jo can probably get into panto easier than you. We’re not going to but…

jo

Fancy a Kardashian for panto.

caro

So yes, that’s my plan.

simon

Panto is good fun.

caro

Oh it’s great fun, yes. I’ve done panto at Theatre Royal Stratford East doing ‘Dick Whittington’ a couple of years ago and it was an amazing experience and the company were lovely so I want to do it again.

steve

Yes it’s great fun, I did it a couple of years ago and I did a touring panto, I just loved it, we just got on so well, it was fantastic.

caro

It’s great fun.

steve

That’s fantastic, thank you both, it’s been great having you on the show.

caro

Thank you very much for having me.

jo

Thank you.

 

[Jingle: If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard please leave us a review or a rating on AudioBoom and iTunes.]

steve

So thank you all who stay in touch, we love hearing from you, whether it’s via Twitter, email or phone.

simon

And you can find out how to contact us via our website which is abnormallyfunnypeople.com.

steve

And you’ll find the transcript of the show as well as photos and other bits and bobs.

simon

And we’re going to put up links for Jo and Caro’s work and shows and stuff so you can see what they’re up to, and hopefully if you’re in Edinburgh, have we mentioned Edinburgh?

steve

Not yet.

simon

You can come and see it. Do come and see us also at the Edinburgh Festival, there’ll be a link.

steve

At the Fringe, festival fringe, pause.

simon

I forgot the pause.

steve

It doesn’t matter, they get that now.

simon

So during August we’re not going to do one show, we’re planning to do lots of shorter little podcasts so we’re going to try and talk to some of the acts and go out and about, so you’re going to get shorter but more frequent podcasts from us.

steve

And lots of bits and bobs from who we find interesting up there.

simon

Exactly.

steve

It’ll be great, yeah.

simon

So smaller but frequent.

steve

Nice, Simon, nice. Well said.

simon

Okay, that’s it for now. Thank you to Harry, our editor.

steve

And thank you all for listening.

 

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