05/12/2019

Deleting Twitter

Social media comes in for some stick. It's blamed for increasing hate in political debate, for making us feel ugly and ruining our sleep patters. And if we're not sleeping we probably don't look as good, which makes the second point worse.

There was a story recently that linked using social media to getting piles. No wonder people are so angry on there.

Many people rant about how evil social media and often they do it on social media, without spotting the irony. It's like sending a "Royal Mail is Sh*t!" postcard.

Twitter is cleaning up its act as it announced a cull. Sadly it's not a cull of the hatemongers and spreaders of fake news – they don't want to lose Donald Trump as a user – they have said they'll be getting rid of inactive accounts.

Why? The inactive people on Twitter aren't the ones issuing death threats to people they disagree with over Brexit and telling anyone on TV that they're crap. They don't fill your timeline with retweets from Russia Today (RT RT) and they're not posting conspiracies about the media.

The inactive users don't make the world worse and yet they still boost your follower figures. On social media, inactive users might just be my idea target demographic.

In the last few years we have had elections and referenda, footballing events and some terrible acts on Britain's Got Talent. If you have kept your opinions about those things to yourself we should send you a gift basket.

The reason behind the thinning out of the herd is all about the usernames. Some people signed up and got a great Twitter handle and if they're doing nothing with it you may feel annoyed.

If you wanted to open up a stationery shop called The Pen Is Good but were upset to find that @penisgood was taken by some adult actor, this could be good for you.

The cynics will say that this isn't anything to do with freeing up usernames, it's an easy trick to get more people to log in. It's like when Harvester threatened to stop serving peas. No one really cared about peas but the threat of losing something you assumed you'd always have made you want it more.

So log on, spread some fake news, row about Brexit for a while and follow @mrstevenallen.



The new book by Steve N Allen is out now. Lasted Yet Another Year sums up the happenings of the last 12 months. It's available on Amazon Kindle, Kobo and paperback.

While you're here, subscribe to the Steve N Allen podcast. It's free! Find it on BBC Sounds, iTunes or Spotify.

📕READ (the new book) | 🎧LISTEN (to the latest podcast) | 👀SEE (Steve's live stand-up)

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02/12/2019

Lasted Yet Another Year

Congratulations, you have made it through another year. Yes, we do that every year but take a second to rejoice.

As the memories of those great 12 months start to fade you can get the perfect summary of it all in the new eBook from comedian Steve N Allen.

A lovely compilation of the newspaper columns you can find across the UK along with some other writing, Steve looks at a selection of the year's events. From Brexit to an angry Neighbourhood Watch to probably Brexit again, take a look back through the year in this comic take on things.

"Lasted Yet Another Year" is available on Amazon Kindle. It's the follow up to Lasted Another Year that summed up 2018 nicely in ebook and paperback.

It's also now available on Kobo reader.




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28/11/2019

Read Even More About It

There's some more news about the news. The newspaper column by Steve N Allen has now expanded to include publication in the Swindon Advertiser.

A longer, more in-depth look at the news is published every Tuesday. It can be found on sale in news agents in Wiltshire.

This adds to the circulation that already includes London, Essex, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.

The column takes a look at a news story from that week and finds the angles that may not have been considered to shed light on issues in a way that only humour can.

Keep an eye out in your local papers to see if the Steve N Allen column comes to you area in the coming months.
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15/11/2019

The Goop Christmas Gift Ideas Have Landed

Do you have someone in your life who is difficult to buy for? If so, Christmas can be a harrowing time. Sure, you have thought of dumping them before the big day but that way you don't get the things they have bought for you so that option is off the table.

What do you get the man who has everything? Antibiotics. But you probably got them that last Christmas, or the Christmas before. It's certainly such an old joke I am sure you have bought it by now.

Thankfully help is on hand from someone who understands how hard it can be to keep someone happy. Gwyneth Paltrow! I am assuming she knows how hard it is to keep someone happy judging by the number of Coldplay songs in a minor key.

Her website Goop has published some gift ideas. If your money to sense ratio can be expressed as a vulgar fraction this stuff might be for you.

For just $250,000 you can buy a Virgin Galactic space flight. If I were to spend that much money and do something as risky as go into space I might be tempted to go to the actual Virgin website. Sure, I'd try Expedia first to see if I could get it cheaper but I'm not sure I want Pepper Potts selling me a space flight.

It's one thing if you buy that for yourself but if you buy a ticket to space as a gift for someone it's a bit of a hint. "I got you this. Now there is a risk you'll die and, best case, you're not on this planet for a while. Bye."

Also on the website you could treat someone to a $100,000 tree house. Actually, if you could have them build it somewhere in Zone 1 London you'd make a profit.

It's not all big ticket items, you can get some stocking-fillers, which have to be small as I'd guess the kind of person who shops at Goop and only has macrobiotic snacks won't fill large stockings.

You can get a pot of caviar for $16,000. Jesus! These are motorway service station prices.

My favourite item on the site is the lovers' bondage restraints. They cost $1,350 but at least they are useful. You can tie up your partner before you explain that you wasted all your joint savings eating a pot of fish eggs in a tree house.
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10/11/2019

A Few More Podcasts with Steve N Allen

For the 17th year in a row we're told that podcasts are the next big thing. Let's hope so because recently I have been kept busy turning up on the odd podcast.

Should you suddenly be hit by the urge to listen to what I get up to in podcastland here are a few of them.

I was interviewed about comedy and radio by Ben Punter in his "What Have We Learnt" podcast. Fun fact: It was recorded in a pub, which I think should be the location for more of my work.
Hear here

I talked about my theories of how to have a good relationship on the Frank podcast. I'm no expert, and some days it feels like calling myself a "gifted amateur" would be a bit of a stretch, but I give my thoughts all the same.
Hear here

I had an in depth conversation about comedy on Rhodder's "Stand and Deliver" podcast in this episode.
Hear here

I was on a panel of comedians talking about comedy and its role in political discourse and news coverage in this episode of the RedBox podcast from The Times
Hear here

And if all of that isn't enough for you there's my podcast with the BBC, it's called "Steve N Allen’s Week", which you can…
Hear here.

If you'd like to have me on your podcast find a way to get in touch and I bet we can make it happen.

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01/11/2019

Christmas Election - Get Festive

I hope you wanted a General Election for Christmas because that's what we're getting.

For me, the news was like getting my Christmas wish early. That makes sense because Christmas gets earlier every year, why shouldn't the wishes? As soon as the August Bank Holiday is over shops start to peddle their red-themed tat, but that's a rant for another column.

It's been nearly a century since this country had a December vote. Those who think things were better back in the olden days should be happy.

Christmas is a time for traditions like wrapping up warm to stand in a queue outside a primary school in whatever weather we'll get that day.

Some may struggle to get out to vote. Do a postal vote. Dashing to the post box before to deadline is a Yuletide classic.

Christmastime post isn't known to be reliable but if your postal vote gets lost it will probably turn up again years from now. You'll have voted in the 2034 election, which could easily still be mainly run along Brexit lines.

Will this festive election sort this whole mess out? Maybe not. A General Election isn't the best way to sort out a single issue and due to the first-past-the-post system people living in safe seats will feel like they don't have a say. But this is what we have. Learn to be grateful for what you get at Christmas. It could have been a lump of coal.

The Christmas election comes down to this, which Santa will you want to visit you? Will it be the old man with a white beard who wants to give things away to people but doesn't talk about how much that costs? Or will it be the overweight, jolly man who has been in many bedrooms?

I can't wait to find out.
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30/08/2019

The Jo Brand Milkshake Joke - BBC Has Last Laugh

Do you remember when people were throwing milkshakes at political figures? It seems to have stopped. Maybe it's the heatwave and we'd all rather drink the milkshake than waste it.

It kind of culminated with the Jo Brand joke. She hit the news after saying on Radio 4's show Heresy, "Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?"

The BBC has now decided that the joke went too far. But in a classic case of BBC balance, it also found that the joke wasn't inciting violence.

It's another thing in life where the left and the right can read the news and think they're correct.

Even Jo Brand admitted it was "a somewhat crass and an ill-judged joke", which makes sense from the host of The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice. That's someone who should never joke about wasting sweet goods. When GBBO was on the BBC it received more than 800 complaints when Diana Beard chucked Iain Watters’ ice cream away, so this is serious stuff.

The BBC found that the joke "went beyond what was appropriate" for a Radio 4 comedy show. Here's the tricky thing, the show is about saying the things that aren't appropriate. The joke can be inappropriate for Radio 4 but by definition that makes it an appropriate joke for the show.

Of course, no show should have jokes that incite violence but as the BBC found, the context of the joke made it clear that she wasn't doing that. Exactly. I have never incited violence but I presume you'd do that on social media, not a Radio 4 show. In the Venn diagram of life "people who riot" and "people who listen to Radio 4" probably don't share much of an overlap.

Nigel Farage said the joke was "incitement of violence" but then he said he'd "Don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines," if he didn't get the Brexit he wanted. OK, he hasn't done that yet. Or he has done that and the khaki part of that plan has really paid off and that's why no one has seen him.

He wasn't the only one to complain. The BBC said it received 444 complaints about Brand's joke.

Wow. That's around half as many people as complained about a waste of ice cream.

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07/08/2019

We're All Becoming Hot And Unfunny

The experts have run the figures and it is now official, July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded.

This has the double-effect of giving us a temporary break from people who say climate change can't be real because it was cold in winter and also it stops people saying, "Oh, you think this is hot? I remember the summer of 1976." It was nippy by comparison.

I put forward another theory, that August 2019 is the least funny month in the UK. I am currently performing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe called Better Than. This year there are more comedy performers putting on shows than ever before. Therefore anywhere that isn't Edinburgh surely has fewer comedy performers in it than it has for the rest of the year. It's a funny drought.

In a similar way to extreme weather events being part of a larger trend I think the humour deficit in August shows a general decline in people having a sense of humour. When I mentioned climate change earlier someone probably got all upset because they prefer to think it's a hoax and can't take a joke.

Do you remember when you didn't give two hoots about trade deals? If someone brought up the issue of a customs union you'd mock them for being the dullest person in the pub.

Now if someone hears a point of view they disagree with they don't have a laugh about it the take to Twitter is issue death threats.

The world is becoming hotter and less funny. We're all sweating and not smiling. It's like we're living in a gym.

If you need an antidote to a hot, humourless world head to Edinburgh during August. You can see my stand up show and it's Scotland; the weather makes you feel like it's winter again.
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03/08/2019

Why Do We Hate Clever People

People think being rich is about how much money you have. They are wrong.

That sounds like I am about to go all new-age and say true richness is about having time to know yourself. That's a load of rubbish too.

Being rich is about how much money you have compared to the average person. If you have a million pounds you sound rich but if everyone else in the UK also has a million pounds you'd have to cough up a lot to get that millionaire plumber to come out.

This means that for all the talk of a fairer society it is in the interest of some to keep things unfair and you can see this in the education system.

A new report has found that poorer teenagers are 18 months behind their wealthier peers in their GCSEs. That education gap is largest and growing fastest in parts of northern England.

Part of the problem is that in the working class world we don't value being clever.

On a TV show like Big Brother we vote the smartest ones off first.

It may be different for posh people but when I went to school you didn't want to be seen as keen. Trying hard at school was a sure way to lose friends and when you don't have much other than a little bit of social status you can't afford to lose it.

It's probably impossible to make being clever cool so we should focus on making being dim uncool.

We also know that young people aren't using Facebook these days because older people are. Basically, if grown-ups are doing it young people don't like it.

So we can solve the wealth-based educational gap if old people pretend to be stupid even if they're very clever.

It looks like maybe Boris Johnson will make this country better after all.


See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than
Info and stuff is here
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12/07/2019

Trump's Ineptitude

It’s been a fun week of seeing how upset Donald Trump got after being called inept by a UK ambassador.

I didn’t realise that was what ambassadors did. Maybe that's why the buy Ferrero Rocher; it's to say sorry.

Leaked emails from Sir Kim Darroch said Trump's leadership was inept. In all of the criticism of this no one has come out to say that Trump isn't inept. It seems the main objections are that secret documents shouldn't be leaked and you shouldn't call inept people inept because that's rude.

I'm sure Donald Trump didn't get upset right away, but as soon as he slammed that dictionary down he was gunning for us.

Since then he has been on the attack, calling our ambassador "very stupid".

It must feel strange to be someone's least favourite man called Kim when you know that man has met the North Korean dictator.

Here is my confusion. If it isn't OK to call someone inept in a message they thought would be private, how is it OK to call someone stupid in a public tweet to nearly 62 million followers?

Some say you should respect the office of president even if you don't respect the person, but Trump didn't do the same when he tweeted a dig at our Prime Minister implying he was happy she was leaving the job.

Is Trump inept? I don't know. But he is being a hypocrite. He can dish it out but not take it.

There's little we can do, however. We need a trade deal with America and we can't afford to fall out with them.

If we do, at least it will only be a war of words. That's better than a real war. No one gets hurt, we attack each other and it all ends when America develops an F-bomb.

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06/07/2019

[Newspaper Column] Networks

Each week a selection of various local newspapers carry the Steve N Allen column. The list of publications include the Romford Recorder, Ilford Recorder, Ashfield and Mansfield CHAD, Hucknall Dispatch, Eastwood Advertiser, Retford Guardian and Worksop Guardian. More are being added all the time.

Follow @mrstevenallen for updates and get the archive of past ones here.


You can click the image to zoom in on the paper, or read the column below.

You can now change your mobile provider by text. That seems fair. They keep sending me SMSs that I don't want to see, so it's nice it can go the other way.

It is a much needed new rule because we have been ripped off. When you take out a contract and get a free handset you pay a monthly line rental and a monthly fee to pay back the handset.

At the end of the contract term the phone company keeps charging you the same amount every month even though you have fully paid off the phone. You might well throw Gift Aid onto that because you're treating the phone company like it's a charity.

Changing network can seem like a pain, but now Ofcom have brought in the text-to-switch system.

In general that's great but it means you don't get to do that thing where you can call them up and threaten to leave, and they start to beg. They offer you discounts, free handsets, back rubs, it gets a bit needy.

If you are going to leave text, please make sure you send it to the right number. We have all done that thing where we send a text to the last person who messaged you and you forgot it was your other half.

If you sent a message that reads, "I want to leave you. I can get a better deal elsewhere. And they'll give me more minutes," it will take some explaining to your spouse.

Also under the new plans you can change networks within 24 hours, so I suppose that means that when you change network you will only have 24 hours where people can't call you.

And that's the best reason to do this. A whole day where you can't be contacted. Sounds like bliss.
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29/06/2019

Boris The Bus Man

They say, “A man needs a hobby.” I suppose it’s to keep us out of trouble. If we chaps are spending our time tinkering in the shed we’re not doing the kind of thing that could end a marriage. The increasing divorce rates in recent decades is probably linked to a decline in hobbiests.

So it was interesting to see what kind of hobby the potential future Prime Minister undertakes. When asked in a radio interview what he does with his spare time Boris Johnson said the most shocking thing since the last time he spoke.

He makes small model buses by painting on wine crates.

Firstly, it’s not a man of the people moment. I don’t know about you but I don’t have wine delivered in a crate. Most of my wine gets carried home by me and comes in a box these days. I could paint those to look like buses but I’d get some strange looks when I put my recycling out.

Secondly, how far into that bottle of expensive red would you have to be before painting a little bus on the side becomes a good idea?

More importantly, what do you think this hobby says about his character? Some will see this as one step above making wicker baskets as they used to do in asylums.

Some could see this as being consistent. When he was London mayor he brought in bendy buses that caught fire. Now he makes buses out of wood. There’s a theme.

Some might think he gave such an answer so we commentators focus on this instead of looking at his thoughts on more serious issues.

Either way, we know one thing; even if you have a hobby you can still do things that mean you don’t stay married.


See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than (or see the previews in the South East)
Info and stuff is here
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22/06/2019

Warning Labels On Alcohol

New scientific research found that smoking is linking to the shrinkage of a rather embarrassing area on men. That will mean the warning photos on the side of the boxes will get worse.

Do warning labels work? Is that why you don't smoke, because you don't want to have a collection of ill organ photos like a sick Panini sticker album?

The Labour Party announced plans this week to bring in a similar system for beer. It's hypercritical because the state of politics in the UK might be the reason you drink.

The plan is to put warnings on beer and wine to cut binge drinking. The problem with this is, after a few, you're not good at reading. You're certainly not good at making sensible decisions about your health. I can prove that with a kebab. Would you you order a greasy unspecified meat and wet salad meal at 1am if you were sober?

If the slightly inebriated can't read too well maybe we should make the warnings pictures of what could happen if you keep drinking. Whether that would be a picture of a diseased liver or a headshot of someone you'd only find attractive in your beer goggles, I don't know.

The problem is, we already know everything the warning label could tell us and yet we still binge. The problem isn't a lack of information, it's the other reasons to drink. It's in our culture.

There is one part of the plan that might work. Along with the warning labels they want bottles of alcohol to say how many calories there are in the drink.

It's around 700kcal in a bottle of wine and over 200 for a pint of beer.

That'll make me cut down on that binge. I need the spare calories for that kebab I have planned later.


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