Monday 19 August 2013

#SocksInSpace (And Other Mammals on the Fringes)

When a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth.
- George Bernard Shaw


It isn’t so much what’s on the table that matters, as what’s on the chairs.
- W. S. Gilbert


Critics can’t even make music by rubbing their back legs together.
- Mel “Braveheart” Brooks

Previously on No Complications:

If you want to know how everything works -  Turn to 1

Now, read on...

Me:  So.  The Socks.

Him:  In Space.

Me:  “In Space” indeed.  How do you want to go about doing this?

Him:  “They were just moving, indistinct shapes.  Their hideous forms could not be described by words…”

Me:  That’s a lovely start but it doesn’t really take into account the fact that we were in the front row and had a cracking view.

Him:  I wasn’t talking about the Socks.

Me:  Fair enough.  I’ve read a lot of reviews like that.  In honesty, I’ve written a lot of reviews like that.  I doubt this one’ll break the tradition.  Or old charter.  Or something.


Me:  “COME ON!”  Anyway...

Him:  You need to stop writing down the stuff I’m saying.  It’s not all for this and it’s out of context.

Me:  It’s our USP. 

Him:  Is that not a type of snake?

Me:  Carry on, Cleo.

Long, long pause.  The Him’s baffled.

Me:  Are you sitting comfortably?

Him:  I’m sitting at an angle.

Me:  Then we’ll begin.  I’ve managed to see the Socks three times this year now – and you hadn’t seen them since…?

Him:  What is an ‘usp’?

Me:  It’s a rapidly-rising ‘us’.  When did you last see the Socks?

Him:  What are A, B and C?

Me:  If I remember correctly, a third of them had a thing for Penelope Keith.  In black and white.  Just after Doctor Who Plays Cricket.

Him:  Last year.

Me:  That’s right.  And in the same venue, same row, almost the same seats.

The Him nods.

Me:  And of course that was the matinee children’s show.

Him:  Did we not see the one about the bakery? 

Me:  No, that was the second show - the full-on horror review in the night.  They were doing two shows a day.

Him:  Right.

Me:  So, I’d been lucky enough to see them twice this year already, which gave me a bit of a perspective on how the material had changed and the show’d come together.  Although that does mean that I was one of the few people who noticed that the Sock in the kilt actually travelled in time last night, which is damn impressive when it’s part of a show about science-fiction.


Him:  What do you mean ‘actually travelled in time’?  I know the Sock was wearing a different costume and everything-

Me:  I’ll tell you at the end and make it look like it was an intentional piece of post-modernistic meta-fiction playing against the expectations of a predicted contextual assessment.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  Is that alright?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Marvelous.  I’ll try and work out what that means before we get there.

Him:  Okay.

Me:  Talking of Doctor Who, which we weren’t2, would you like to tie this review in with our last post?

Him:  No, not really.

Me:  Do you want me to?

Him:  Not really. Neither does the Law.

Me:  I don’t think we need to involve Judge Dredd.

Him:  We do.

Me:  Grudd!  Drokk!  Stomm! 

Long, long pause.  Dust drifts.  Squirrels weep.  The usual.

Him:  Oooookay.

Me:  Shall I go first then?

Him:  If you want to.

Me:  What did you think of Edinburgh at night?

Him:  “Natsy Hobbitses.”


Me:  Ah.  Umm.  Now, I see what you’ve done there with the halfling anagram but I don’t think you should Godwin the post at this stage.

Him:  What?
Ent bling courtesy of QVC.

Me:  Nothing.  Let’s move on.

Him:  I thought we were going to link this in with Peter CapaldiWhy are you asking me about Edinburgh?

Me:  Nicely done.  It was a shame that the Socks weren’t allowed to do their new routine based on the Twelfth Doctor3.  I was wondering if any Whonatics would walk out if they didn’t do it, but luckily that didn’t happen.

Him:  I think that was more of a joke that you made than something you were actually worried about.

Me:   Quite possibly.

Him:  I thought as much.

Me:  I’m glad they drew attention to it though.  And explained what they weren’t allowed to say.  Kind of gets us talking about Doctor Who again.


Me:  And we’re off-road again.  Would you like to explain what a Zombie Sock is?

Him:  It’s a sock with holes in it.

'eck of a climb.
Me:  Fans have started turning up with their own Socks tribute socks.  We were going to make some, but the spares all had holes in and would’ve looked-

Him:  Like zombie socks. 

Me:  “And that’s all the weather.”

Long pause.

Me:  By which I mean…   Um…  There was an excellent atmosphere in the theatre.  The audience were up for it and the show’d sold out -

Him:  Ninety seats seemed a bit random.

Me:   Yeah, but it’s not a bad amount of people to have on your side.

Him:  That wouldn’t even unlock the unlimited rice pudding level.

Me:  I think you’re right.  Something else that I thought helped was that the speakers were set to a decent volume and that gave the songs an extra push.   

Him:  It was loud last time.  Well, last time for me.  

Me:  Yeah – and that was a great show.

Him:  Did you not like this one as much?

Me:  I thought that this one, Socks in Space, was the best performance that I’ve seen by them to date.  They were obviously enjoying it -

Him:  You could see it on their faces.

Me:  Definitely.  And I didn’t mean that the previous shows weren’t great – they’ve been consistently excellent – but last night’s performance had a bit of an edge to it.  It was buzzing and – well, this is going to sound strange – but I thought it was a bit punky.  And that’s a massive compliment.

Him:  I couldn’t smell anything.
Photo of poster: contractual obligation.

Me:  Ha!  No, what I mean is that they really went for it – and the audience were so into it and enthusiastic I think it gave them a bit of a lift.  The Socks knocked it out of the park and onto a different level.  To mix an analogy.  And there was a lot of new stuff, which surprised me because it must’ve been pretty fresh.

Him:  The sell-by date was not 2012.

Me:  Oh, very much so.  There’s a new song about the history of comics which I thoroughly loved.  It was so fast and tight – ahh.  Smashing. 

Him:  I know a song that sounds very similar.  It’s very fast and educational.

Mystery Voice:  Does it help you learn the different elements of the periodic table?

Me:  That’s the one!  I remember when you sat me down and sang the whole Element Song at me –

Him:  You used to play it at me.

Me:  If I told you who introduced me to Tom Lehrer, you’d think I was bluffing.

Him:  Was it Tom Lehrer?

Me:  Ha!  No.  It was the lovely Chris Bell.

Him:  Who’s he?

Me:  He’s a she.  Makes a cameo appearance in The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.

Him:  Never heard of it.

Me:  Wait until you’re a bit older.  She’s behind Rose at the Battle of London in what was then the second volume - the one with the Alan Moore introduction.  Chris is someone I feel genuinely privileged to have met - in many ways this blog wouldn't exist if it weren't for her.  Oddly enough, Valkyrie Press published Redfox too.  But you’ll still have to wait for the payphone story…  Oh!  I keep forgetting to mention Kick-Ass 2.4  Did you like the improv?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  I felt bad about suggesting Space Precinct.

Him:  I’d never heard of it.

Me:  It was a single-season Gerry Anderson series that was probably only watched by me and the makers of Farscape.  The Socks recovered well.

Him:  Blake’s 7?

Me:  I didn’t suggest that one.  Is that with or without an apostrophe?

Him:  Without.

Me:  Ah, I’ve probably typed it wrong then.

Him:  Well you can go back and fix it.

Me:  I bet I forget.  I think it’s supposed to be pronounced “Blakenoapostrophesssssseven”.

The Him stares at me, making a face like a camel watching Question Time.

Me:   And the David Bowie song – it’s spot-on -

The Mystery Voice starts singing the song in question.  You’ll have to imagine.5

Me:  -and layered like you wouldn’t believe.  I think you start off laughing ‘til you cry and end up crying ‘til you laugh.

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  How many stars are we giving this then?
Him:  Ten.  What ranking system are we using?

Me:  Out of five.  No halves.

Him:  So my ten doesn’t work then?

Me:  Ten out of five?

Him:  I don’t think that’s allowed.

Me:  The universe’ll probably do something to rectify it.

Him:  It might.

Me:  Five stars?

Him:  Fine.

Me:  And we got to meet the Socks’ manager, Mr Sutherland, afterwards. 

Him:  Yeah, and we got shirts.

Me:  You high-fived the Socks.

Him:  I shook them by the head three times.

Me:   Your hands didn’t smell of socks this time.

Him:  No.  But I did wash them.

Me:  Oh – almost forgot – remember when the doorbell rang at the start of the Socks’ set?

Him:  Have you thought of something to say here?

Me:  I hope so.  Do you know who was at the door?

Him:  Was it us with the Borders doorbell?

Me:  Oo – that’s an obscure reference.

Him:  I don’t think it is.

Me:  That’s because you’re pretty good on our continuity.  No, the Sock in the kilt at the door was actually a time-traveller.

Him:  So, you haven’t thought of anything to say here then?

Me:  Wait for it.  The Sock in the kilt at the door was actually a time traveller from the show I saw in Cardiff...

Long pause.  Like a polar bear.

Him:  Really?

Me:  Yeah.  Because that’s where he headed back to after he appeared.

Him:  But he headed forward.  So it hasn’t happened yet.

Me:  Time-travel’s touchy.  It’s worse than tracking.

Him:  Is it worse than cobbles?

Me:  Easily. 

Him:  At least you can fly with Cobbles.


Me:  So, in conclusion then?

Him:  It was the bestest–

Me:  “Bestest”?

Mystery Voice:  Don’t write ‘bestest’.  He’s not three.

Me:  Ha!  I’d like to quote the brief review I tweeted after the Cardiff show because I think it’s still pertinent.  Would that be alright?

Him:  If you’d like to.

Me:  I would.

Him:  I don’t know what to say, other than that I want to sleep.

Me:  So, ten out of five?

Him:  I don’t think the Law will allow that.

Me:  We’re looping now, back to Cal-Hab. Why not draw a rating?

Him:  I have.

Drum roll.

Me:  Further frenetic fiesta from the frantic footwear - phenomenal!




August 3 2011.
The Mystery Voice and myself get to see Richard Herring and Stewart Lee performing at The Stand in Edinburgh.  If it wasn’t for the gap between the two performances, it’d be a Fist of Fun reunion show.

July 12 2013. 
Half of us are onstage in Cardiff as part of my old band’s final farewell gig.  It’s subtitled The Beast Must Die – named after the Amicus werewolf classic.  I’m sure you’re both familiar with it, so we won’t dwell.  It’s the hottest day of the year so far.  The venue’s packed – the lights are burning – and by the time the Beast’s actually dispatched even the walls are sweating. 

July 13 2013.
Chapter Arts Centre tonight. It’s the Cardiff Comedy Festival and the Socks are performing.  It’s the hottest day of the year so far, again, but the room’s air-conditioned.  The Socks try some new material.  I get to shout “Doctor Who” when the Sock not in the kilt asks for science-fiction titles.  It’s not a bad attendance but there’s something missing from the room – it’s hard to say what. 

August 4 2013.
The Doctor reveals he’s going to be played by Peter Capaldi now.  The sell-out audience are divided but it’s hardly Dylan going Industrial.  That night, in Edinburgh, the Socks perform the first Malcolm Tucker/Who mashup.  The performance is recorded, goes viral and ends up in the Guardian, next to the paper’s new fan-fiction section. 

August 5 and 6 2013.
I rewatch The Thick of It.  The fifth episode of the third series features Malcolm Tucker being rude to a Radio 5 producer played by Sara Pascoe. 

August 8 2013. 
Baconface, the mythical Canadian comedian, causes a flurry in porcelain by walking offstage at the Stand in Edinburgh.  At first the audience think it’s part of the act, but when they’re asked to leave, a penny the size of the Batcave drops.  Baconface is revealed to be Stewart Lee and angry articles begin to pop up.  Personally, I still think it’s part of the act. 

August 15 2013.
 The Mystery Voice and myself are back in Edinburgh for our bi-annual This Morning With Richard Not Judy ‘reunion’.  We start at The Stand with a recording of Richard Herring’s daily podcast.  The great man himself seems a little out of sorts – he puts this down to staying up later than usual the night before.  His first guest is Paul Foot (played by Tom Chadbon) who hasn’t aged a day since his aggro-art days.  Being accused of being both a cannibal and a werewolf is always going to run deep so it’s nice to see he’s almost recovered.  Next up is a local comedian from Australia - he’s not on long and his jokes are fine but we let him down as an audience.  Sean Hughes comes on and we improve in our audience duties a bit.  By the time the show’s over I’m baffled.  Something was missing, but I can’t put a digit on anything solid. 

The third Stand is an oven disguised as a comedy venue.  Stewart Lee runs through two shows from the third series of his Comedy Vehicle and points out that audiences often need to put a lot more effort in than they expect to.  Afterwards he signs the Dodgem Logic I’ve brought along.  He looks genuinely surprised and shakes my hand.  I leave, feeling I’ve at least made an effort to do my part.

The final show of the day is performed by Sara Pascoe and it’s excellent.  She works her way through a variety of thought experiments and philosophical questions in an elegant and – ultimately – stunning way.  Stewart Lee does a similar deconstruction of How Comedy Works, but turns the façade around to show the process as an exploded diagram, pointing out how easy it is to kibosh if the grease the audience provide is missing.  Sara Pascoe shows us what looks like the façade and highlights aspects we always suspected were there, interspersed with delicate moments of gentle venom.  She guides us into a cave and we laugh at the dancing shadows flickering on the wall.  It’s a bravura performance – and it’s damn clever.  Sara Pascoe makes us laugh at these shadow puppets whilst pointing out that they merely prove reality is consensual.

The performer dictates how reality will be working for the next hour or so and, to paraphrase Bill Hicks, the audience then take the ride.  After all, that’s what the ticket allows you to do.

And that’s the Truth. 

There are no facts, only interpretations. 
- Nie(t)zsche (after Pascoe) 
Welcome to our blog. 

2.  An ongoing state of affairs that’s a bit weird seeing as this is a blog that pretends to be about Doctor Who. 

3.  Nope, we’re still a 12 rating.  The Capaldi Routine is amazing, but after the controversy it’d be like throwing cheese on a fire.  Even with our honour system. 


Kick Ass 2 review (radio edit) 
A superhero film rather than a film that happens to be about superheroes,
Kick Ass 2 review (Old Fart mix)
The original Kick Ass came out of the darkness with little warning. It was a tabloid-baiting sugar-rush of a movie, cascading with unexpected colour and profane enthusiasm.  The writing sang, the emotional beats were nearly perfect and the casting was spot-on – Nicolas Cage’s possession by Adam West certainly helped.  It’s just a shame that – actors aside – no-one involved with this foetid disaster managed to find the time to rewatch the original, just went along with their vague memories, somehow dragging Heathers into the mudpit along the way.  Apparently filmed on a backlot and totally wasting excellent actors, this is really, really bad.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.

The dialogue is largely leaden and predictable.  Hit Girl’s character arc is largely the same as Carrie White’s - which is interesting.  There’s also a distracting number of Meaningful Stares.

The tone of the film is misjudged totally – but this time round the source material (Kick Ass 2 and Hit-Girl) has similar issues – and we’re faced with a tedious retread of Your Favourite Moments from the first film with Added Offence, because that’s what Da Kids want.  The cynical hints at the gut-wrenching musical moments of John Murphy that threaded through the original are particularly annoying.  The music in general is all over the place – the eclectic compilation album feel of the first film’s soundtrack is noticeable by its absence this time around.   

Ultimately, this is a cover version of a (flawed) floor-filler, with all the subtlety and nuances missed in favour of turning everything up in the hope that a new West-Side Story will somehow appear and spray cash like racing driving champagne.  What actually emerges is more like a hasty golem constructed of grey riverbed clay.  It leans forward, stretching its maw wide open to entertain us and a monotonous vowel sound retches out, rising in volume as it bangs its filthy fists against the floor (mostly in time to be fair).  It’s desperate to be liked, but it shouldn’t exist.

And it can’t dance for toffee.  

Kick Ass 2 review (Twitter mix) 
Sound/fury/idiot/nothing.  I’m with Jim on this.  Shark Sandwich.


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