15 October 2007

Have you seen this man?

I watched that Channel 4 '100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians' thing the other night. Yeah, I know, on E4, only six months later than everyone else. Needless to say, there were some improbable results along the way, and I'm thoroughly mystified at how Jimmy Carr and Jack Dee, for all their virtues, polled better than Woody Allen. Has nobody heard him talk about the moose? And what on earth was Victoria Wood doing in the top ten? Or Harry Hill, for that matter? Especially ahead of Bill Hicks.

Still, the top four were pretty decent, despite, say, Eddie Izzard having gone off the boil nearly a decade ago. They could certainly be argued with some credibility, unlike, say, Robbie Williams being voted the sixth most influential musician of the last thousand years, ahead of, say, Bach, who barely scraped into the top ten.

All of which reminds me, I see Ian Cognito is performing at the Manchester Comedy Festival. He's on this Friday and Saturday at Charlie's on Harter Street. No, he doesn't make the list at all.

I think the brother saw him back in the day, back when the likes of Eddie Izzard, Sean Hughes, and Jo Brand were working the circuit and Frank Sinner was holding court in Birmingham, and was impressed. Though I may have imagined that.

He's pointed me in the past - and did so again the other day - to A Comedian's Tale, Ian Cognito's rather rough and ready account of the often harsh and occasionally very strange realities of life of the road for stand-up comedians in the UK. It's certainly worth a read, not least for jokes like this:
Not only did he clear the land of snakes, St Patrick was responsible for the Irish adopting the shamrock as their natural emblem, when he sayethed

"And isn't the shamrock a bit like the blessed holy trinity. That mystery which none of us can truly understand can be seen in the humble shamrock. The three leaves coming from the one stem, similar to the three people in the one God. . And if we think....."

So interrupted someone in the gathering

"For fuck's sake Pat, if you've got the ace of clubs will you just put it down."
Okay, that's not the best there by any means, but in truth what makes it worth reading isn't the jokes so much as the anecdotes and observations. If you read it you'll probably conclude pretty sharpish that it's badly in need of an editor, but there's a fine book there trying to get out.

My point being, if I were in Manchester this weekend, rather than - say - next one, I think I'd be very tempted to go see what he's like. It'd be the only way to find out, after all, seeing as he 'doesn't do' television, and is banned from half the comedy clubs in England.

In the absence of Mr Cognito, though, I shall be happy to make do with the Moose.

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