Jo Brand And The Acidic Joke

Telling jokes can be hard. As a comedian you get people come up after a gig and say how they could never do what they just saw. We seem to have a fear of trying to be funny and it not working.

I used to think that the biggest worry was getting booed as if you were Laura Kuenssberg trying to ask Boris Johnson a question.

It seems I was wrong. If you make a joke you could find yourself wanted by the police. That's the message from the fallout of Jo Brand's comments on BBC Radio 4's show Heresy.

The comedian was talking about the recent trend of throwing milkshakes at right-wing figures. She said, "I’m kind of thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?"

She phrased it as a question and the answer would be, "Because throwing battery acid would be wrong and a lot harder to find on the menu at Five Guys."

Even though the comments weren't explicitly made about Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage he took them personally as he was one of the recipients of a lactose-based protest. While campaigning in the run up to the EU election in May he ended up looking like Big Bird from Sesame Street had been in a tree above him.

Nigel tweeted, "This is incitement of violence and the police need to act."

All of this over a joke. Somehow it turned into a philosophical debate about humour online akin to working out of trees make sound when falling. Using the joke defence caused many commentators to say that they don't find it funny.

So what? You're not in charge of all humour. The definition of a joke isn't that it is found funny by every person who hears it. That can't be the deciding factor or we would have a situation where you could incite violence but only as long as you land the gag well. If you fumble over the punchline or don't use the rule of three you're off to jail.

The audience at the show's recording laughed so it is a joke in that sense. It is also a joke in the sense that she didn't mean it. If you listen to the show there is no point where you think Jo is likely to be shopping for car battery repair kits online.

If you were left in any doubt about if The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice presenter was about to turn to violence she added, "I'm not going to do it. It's purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry."

Nigel Farage must understand what it is like to threaten something without expecting to be taken seriously. He once said he would, “don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines” if Theresa May failed to deliver Brexit. No one was calling for the police to look into the colour of the trousers he'd be buying just in case.

A joke, of course, could still be inciting violence but who do we think she'd be inciting? Do we think that some lift-wing lone wolf was almost ready to tip and it was a comedy show on BBC Radio 4 that would push them over the edge?

Is it a funny joke? I don't know, but she certainly has the right to make it. Ordinarily it is the Brexit supporters who will take to twitter to champion free speech, to bemoan the trigger warning requiring snowflakes who take comments too seriously and to rail against those who seek to no platform the pubic figures who say things that may cause offence.

It would normally be the right-wing voices complaining that too much police time is spent investigating online comments when real crimes go unsolved.

Genuine threats of violence are to be abhorred. That's not political. If you have seen some of the online hate directed towards the likes of journalists like Carole Cadwalladr you will have seen how vitriolic people can be. Hate is prescent on all sides of the political spectrum.

Even throwing milkshake at people is a terrible development in debate and that's the point I think Jo was making. Throwing milkshake is pathetic.

It seems that some members of the left think that right-wing views are like heartburn, mainly in middle-aged men and can be cured by milk.

However, it is also pathetic to race to claim offence. Trying to strip out all humour from a comment to frame it in a way that lets you be upset. That makes you look like a bit of a joke.

See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than (or see the previews in the South East)
Info and stuff is here


Tory Leadership Update: White Powder

As the Tory leadership race ploughs on one major theme has been drugs. I don’t mean the ones you have to take to be able to cope with all the coverage. If you have made it through a day without aspirin you’ve done better than me.

There’s good and bad news for Michael Gove. He has received cash backing from the man behind Next. That seems good but it comes at the one time Gove doesn't want people saying he's had a “little bump”.

You see, Michael Gove admitted using a class A substance, and I don't mean big eggs. And it's all kicked off. Some say he should have to pull out of the race. Well, in most races you're disqualified for drug taking.

Others have pointed out that Mr Gove has been honest and his admission has done more to make drugs uncool than many Government campaigns.

Fellow leadership contender Sajid Javid said of people like Gove who "boast about buying fair trade, they talk about climate change and, at the same time come Friday or Saturday night, they're all doing Class A drugs."

To be fair, that's because you can't get fair trade drugs. If you could those people would love to boast about how ethically sourced their stash is. They’d sound like a Marks & Spencer ads: “This isn't just class A drugs. This is the finest boutros boutros from the Colombian foothills.”

I'm glad that's not available. Let's be honest, the kind of people who love to boast about how fancy the food at their dinner party is don't need any help being chatty and self obsessed.

This is becoming a weakness the other leadership candidates are using. So, it seems like the key to a good Conservative leadership campaign is to keep your nose clean.

See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than (or see the previews in the South East)
Info and stuff is here


The Milkshakings

At a time when Jamie Oliver's restaurants are having trouble there is one eatery that must be doing well. Five Guys was known for its burgers but these days it is the milkshakes that are hitting the headlines.

Nigel Farage was the latest in a line of right-wing figures to get covered in the drink. Other milkshake recipients include Tommy Robinson and YouTuber/Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin.

It's almost as if the left think right-wing politics are like heartburn; more prevalent in older men and can be helped with milk.

You may have seen the pictures of Farage. At first it didn't look like milkshake. It looked like he'd been to Sesame Street and stood under the tree that Big Bird was in.

Then we heard that Nigel was trapped on a bus because people were outside it holding milkshakes. He's got the fear now. He'll be having anxiety dreams about the Nesquik bunny.

In the old days people like John Prescott and Ed Miliband had eggs thrown at them. That was protein and fats, these days it's calorie-laden drinks. No wonder we're an obese nation.

It's hard to ignore that there's something funny about pomposity being quenched by a diary treat but it's wrong. There are many things I disagree with in life but I don't show it by making them look like a builder's radio.

Where will this end? Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament will be a series of custard pies hurled from one side to the other. Andrew Marr will be replaced by Noel Edmonds so he can gunk the cabinet ministers.

Why don't we try this, if you disagree with someone, say it, don't spray it? And if you're not going to drink that milkshake, hand it over here, I'm parched.


The Final Straw

If you have a plastic straw in your house, keep it. It could be worth something one day. Antiques Roadshow will feature people's McDonald's straws in the original packaging.

The Government has announced a ban on plastic straws by 2020, which will mean we'll be telling our great-grandchildren what it was like to drink through plastic and they won't believe such fantastical stories.

While I am in favour of stopping this plastic blight getting into our seas I am saddened by the replacement; the paper straw. I used one for the first time on the weekend and they taste like paper.

You might not find that shocking but it ruined the drink. It's much like the reusable coffee cups with rubber lids, they make the coffee taste like rubber. I'm spotting a pattern.

I am all for saving the planet, it's where I keep all my stuff, but we have to do it in a way that doesn't ruin all the drinks.

Here's how I got around the problem of the paper straw. I took it out and drank from the glass. Thankfully I don't need a straw because I'm not five.

That's the real problem here, not the plastic straws but how often they're popped into drinks. You pay for the round, thank the bartender, and then take the straw out and put it on the table. That's not even single-use plastic. All it does is risk poking you in the eye if you forget to take it out.

Some say the straw culture came in when people claimed drinking with a straw is better for your teeth. I think it may have been when we were told if you drink through a straw you get drunk quicker.

Stop using plastic straws, stop cutting down trees to make paper ones and simply use your mouth.

I'll drink to that.


The New Politics Is A Load Of B******S

[Warning: Contains a lot of swearing, but they started it.]

Have you seen the new eye-catching part of the Liberal Democrats slogan? It's bollocks.

That's not a judgement, that's the actual angle. They have put a swear word on their latest campaign. It is clearly a bid to sound more relevant. You get the mental image of a meeting with one Lib Dem says, "OK guys, we need to relate to the younger voters. So, what do you people do?"

Five to sevens minutes of silence pass before one of them says, "Swear?" And a campaign slogan was born.

Will it work? Seeing someone of Sir Vince Cable's age starting to swear more is normally the first sign they're starting to lose it.

My sarcastic analysis is wrong though, and it's proved wrong by its own existence. Without dropping the b-bomb on their posters I wouldn't be talking about it, lots of way more important people in the media wouldn't be talking about it. Every mention of how shamelessly publicity-seeking this is rewards it with the publicity it seeks.

So let's learn from this and come up with other swear-based campaigns. Politics could be more successful and more fun if it includes a little potty-mouthed terminology.

Labour could go with: "For the many, not the poo." (Starting tame.)
Who wouldn't love Theresa May repeating, "Brexit means Brexshit!"
Let's dub video of George Bush saying, "Suck my dick, no new taxes."
Tony Blair would only need three words, "Masturbation. Masturbation. Masturbation."
And how emotional would you be looking at the iconic Obama poster in red, blue and beige sat atop one simple word, "MINGE".

The main downside to all this is that it won't be long before Gordon Ramsay ends up Prime Minister. Still, we have had worse.



Woman Comes Out of 27 Year Coma

It’s nice to find the good news stories in a landscape of otherwise negative stories. This week we heard of a woman who has woken from a coma after 27 years. Obviously it’s still early days but let’s hope that she goes on to live a life she enjoys.

It’s a story of hope and medical success. She had been taken to several hospitals and specialists including one in the UK during her coma.

Now she has to catch up with all she has missed since 1992. That was the year that Bill Clinton became the American President. You’d have to tell her what he did and when she was shocked you’d have to say, “Oh, you wait till you hear about the recent one.”

Until she’s caught up she’d be likely to make some social errors. She’d say how much she liked OJ Simpson or call a radio station and request a Rolf Harris song.

Some of it would be great. She’d get to discover the sitcom Friends for the very first time. Some of it would be less fun, she’d have to watch the third season of Lost and that's a waste of anyone's time even someone who's just happy to be alive.

She has so many firsts that we have all experienced and forgotten. She'll get to see someone using a Bluetooth device and cross the street because she thinks they're talking to themselves.

I know what you're thinking, "As she catches up with all the news that's happened in the last 27 years what will she think when she hears about Brexit?"

To that I say, don't be daft. Some people think that when you're in a coma you can still hear and if she's been in the UK even briefly someone is bound to have gone on and on about Brexit to her. She already knows.


How To Boycott The Dorchester

I have taken part in a protest and I didn’t even know I was doing it.

I saw in the news that, “Hundreds protested against the Sultan of Brunei's new anti-LGBT laws outside his Dorchester hotel."

They have brought in laws that could include the stoning of gay men. That's the kind of news story that makes you check the top of the page to see if we’re actually in 2019.

Some people might not care about LGBT issues, and to those we should point out this new law also includes chopping off limbs for theft and capital punishment for adulterers, so everyone has something to lose here.

People are joining this protest by boycotting some of the hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei. That includes The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London.

It dawned on me, I have been boycotting those places all my life. Admittedly, it has been less because of the human rights issues and more because of the "£35 for a single whisky" issues.

In the same way I have been boycotting opening up a bank about in the Cayman Islands. I guess I care about tax evasion after all.

It raises a difficult question, how do you boycott something that most people can't afford?

I have been taking all the overtime I can get, saving up, and when I have enough I am not going to spend it at The Dorchester. Ha! See how he likes that!

Even though it’s hard to make a dent in his fortunes by not going to those hotels, especially when I wasn’t going to go anyway, I like the idea. Deciding where you spend your money on ethical grounds is a pretty good plan. They say people vote with their feet and that's true, especially if they were previously caught thieving in Brunei.


The Mash Report's Steve N Allen

It's good news for BBC2's The Mash Report as it received a BAFTA nomination.

Some episodes may still be available on the BBC iPlayer and many clips from the show have gone viral on social media. A little search can easily find comedy bits on Brexit, Doctor Who, some of the oddities of sports coverage and what really happens in a relationship if we say what we're actually thinking.

With the satirical show set to return later this year here are a selection of clips from the show featuring stand-up comedian Steve N Allen.


Newspaper Columns - The Update

Good news. The Steve N Allen newspaper column is now available in more newspaper. Sorry trees, it looks like Steve won this one.

You can find the weekly topical comedy rants in the Ilford Recorder and Romford Recorder if you’re in those parts of East London and Essex.

Now you can read them in the Ashfield and Mansfield CHAD, Hucknall Dispatch, Eastwood Advertiser, Retford Guardian and Worksop Guardian.

If you live in any of those areas you should be able to get a copy of the newspaper column or find it on the online versions of those papers.

More newspaper titles coming soon.


Podcast ep78: Brexit and Probably More Brexit and Other Stuff

Yep, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E78 (I'm starting to think series 2 won't happen), we look at Brexit and other stuff. News is becoming all a bit of a blur really.

Subscribe to the podcast now to get it free every week.

Download the mp3.

     | Subscribe with iTunes | Subscribe via RSS feed |

P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.


Brexit Got Worse

I can admit when I was wrong. I thought Brexit had already got as ridiculous as possible. And then Uri Geller got involved.

You’ll remember him from the 1980s when he would turn up on TV and ruin people’s cutlery sets. He could use the power of his mind to bend spoons. I don’t know if that was the best way to use supernatural powers, to harness them to achieve exactly what everyone can do with their hands.

Now he’s back and he has decided to use his gift to stop Brexit.

At first I wasn’t sure how. I had mental images of him stood near Theresa May as she goes to sign the official leaving documents and he bends every pen nib just as she’s about to use it.

It seems odd that Uri would get involved. I knew that his politics, much like all of his spoons, is slightly to the right. In the past he has said he will use his powers to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

Uri said: “I am ensuring that Jeremy Corbyn never gets the keys to Number 10 Downing Street. I will ensure that they bend out of all proportion to ensure that he never takes up residence there.”

Good plan but they have someone behind the door to open it. You never see Theresa May get out of a car and go through her handbag looking for the keys.

I’m not sure how the ability to mess up cutlery helps you on the issue of Brexit. Surely he should be helping the Government with knife crime.

As it turns out it’s a mass-telepathy experiment, he is asking people to think about Brexit at 11:11 AM and PM. I wish we only had to think about Brexit twice a day. It’s non-flippin’-stop.


Podcast ep73: Sue Parents, Drone Swarms and Seaborne Freight

Yep, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E73, drone technology gets a really useful use, there's a man suing his parents and you probably won't believe why, and Seaborne Freight, the ferry company that doesn't have any ferries lost a ferry contract. Shocker.

Subscribe to the podcast now to get it free every week.

Download the mp3.

     | Subscribe with iTunes | Subscribe via RSS feed |

P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.



The Labour Defectors

Do you remember where you were when it happened? The seven Labour MPs who split from the party caused the biggest upset in British politics since the last one which was probably to do with Brexit and was probably only last week. It caught on and has taken more MPs with it.

It was like watching the press conference where we heard Take That were splitting up or like hearing the devastating news that Geri was leaving the Spice Girls.

It was also confusing, because it seems the issue is the seven who left were the kind of Labour MPs who’d fit the old way Labour was when it was called New Labour, but now the newer version of Labour is more aligned with the old Labour which was older than New Labour.

No wonder they left.

It was all slightly undercut by the BBC who left someone’s mic on during the press conference. You can find the clip on my Twitter feed. While the MPs were telling us how they were starting solo careers to release a new single (that may have been the Geri one I’m thinking of) we could hear a man giving a very sweary commentary. It was like I’d pressed the Red Button and got Gordon Ramsay’s take on things.

The voice over said, “Between this and Brexit we’re...” and then he said something that needs bleeping.

It’s not the first time Labour have struggled with mics being left on. We all remember when Gordon Brown called Gillian Duffy a bigoted woman after she had said to him, “All these Eastern Europeans, where are they coming from?”

I don’t know if she was a bigot but she certainly wasn’t a phone-a-friend if you have a Geography question.

Where does the Labour Party go from here? I don’t know, why not ask Gillian Duffy for directions?

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