Tag Archives: comedy

In the land of the one-eyed man, Lewis Schaffer is king.

9 Feb

3AM Saturday 9th February 2013 Nunhead Heights

You know me: If something bad happens to me, I mean really bad, I will blog about it.

Last night at Vivienne and Martin Soan’s lovely Pull the Other One gig in Herne Hill, south east London, something really bad happened. I killed. 

I made the audience laugh so much that there was no doubt I had done well, really well. Usually I have my doubts.

A comic knows when he has done really well.

Everyone wants to talk to you. Everyone wants to touch you. One experienced comic tells you, unsolicited, “Your time has come”. Another tells you how professional you seemed.

Jeff Ross, the now-famous New York comic turned Roastmaster General of the United States, once told me that ‘you know how to bomb; you need to know how to kill’ – using the vernacular of comedy. That was maybe 13 years ago. I assume you all know what ‘bomb’ and ‘kill’ mean.

Well, I killed and it felt weird.

In the front row of last night’s show sat a big black man with one eye and a huge scar on the side of his head. He was wearing a stethoscope, a sling-shot and bells that tinkled as he walked.

He had been shot in the head, I found out later. This was on the edge of Brixton and the area was once rough. It all fell into place like a movie.

‘Hey, look at me’ he was saying. He was casting a pall on the entire show.

During the break, before my set, I went up to him at the bar, to judge if he was going to try and destroy my show, and to somehow mitigate any damage.

Pre-frontal lobotomy. Does anyone young know of them? Where part of a distressed mentally ill person’s brain was scraped out removing the site of excess emotion.

I knew one man who’d had a lobotomy. At least, I guessed he’d had one because he had the tell-tale horseshoe-shaped scar on his temple.

I had a summer job in a lawyers’ publication in Lower Manhattan when I was 17 or 18 and worked with him in the mailroom – back in the 70s. He would smile weakly all the time.

The man at the show had the same look as the mailroom guy. He wasn’t a brute, anymore. If he had ever been one. The bullet had made him genial.

I sensed the one-eyed man just wanted a good time, to ring his bells and have everyone pay a bit of attention to him.

Maybe that is why I’m funny now – consistently funny – or funny most of the time. I can look a man in his eye and know that he isn’t evil. I can know that he isn’t going to try to mess up my show.

All I had to do was ring his bells for him.

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed 

Lewis Schaffer’s American Guide to England
Leicester Square Theatre – £10
Sundays, March 3rd to April 21st 6 PM (except 7th April at 5PM)

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio 

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow 

I’m turned noir: The film I didn’t want you to see.

30 Jan

3PM Wednesday 30th January 2013 Nunhead Heights.

Comedy guru John Fleming reported the other day that I blocked Jonathan Schwab’s film about me.

I did not.

I only preferred that the film wasn’t seen. [John’s Blog ‘The Film of comedian Lewis Schaffer you cannot currently see online.’]

The German filmmaker himself restricted access to the film because he felt it was still a work in progress and to clear entry into American and European film festivals.

The film reminded me of FW Murnau, Fritz Lang, Werner Hertzog and even Orson Welles. If you’re into comedy and tragedy you’ll probably enjoy watching it. It’s brilliant.

I only wish it isn’t about me. You’ll see why when you view it. Or maybe I am wrong.

Because of the John’s blog I’ve asked Jonathan to allow the film to be seen. Or maybe because I am a poor judge of these things? Anyway, Jonathan Schwab has generously allowed access – but only for one week.

‘Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous’ by Jonathan Schwab.

On 7th of February access will be denied.

Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous at the Source Below
The Longest Running Solo Comedy Show in London
11 Lower John Street, W1F 9TY
8 PM – Every Tuesday and Wednesdays.
www.sourcebelow.com

Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer – Since 2009
Mondays 10:30 PM on Resonance Radio 104.4 in London and www.resonancefm.com/listen.

The latest Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer re-broadcast is on iTunes bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio
Real radio.

twitter @lewisschaffer

Have your taxes prepared by BritishAmericanTax.com – available for British taxpayers as well as the American Taxpaying Community.

“Where there is disarray, Lewis Schaffer creates chaos.” (Chortle) “An hour with Lewis Schaffer is an hilarious, cathartic, exhilaratingly appalling experience.” (The Scotsman)

Peregrine Falcon spotted on Nunhead Heights. News of Nunhead for 10 Dec 2012.

10 Dec

Listen TONIGHT at 10:30 GMT or 5:30PM UK time to Nunhead American Radio. www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. 

9 PM Monday 10th December 2012 Nunhead Heights.

Nunhead, Southeast London, is also what Germans call the white bit of the finger nail – Das Nun’s Head. Did you know this? No? I made this up. Nonne Kopf!

The News of Nunhead

Friend Doug Brooks of Friends of One Tree Hill spotted a Peregrine Falcon atop Nunhead’s highest point over the weekend.

The Peregrine Falcon’s name means ‘wandering falcon’ and is the Official Bird of Nunhead American Radio. I just decided this today.

The southern link of  London Overground trains opened on 9th December linking east London with southwest London.

1.3 miles of track were re-laid to connect Surrey Quays (pronounced ‘keys’) with Nunhead and points west. This allowed the 150 year-old South London Line rail trains to be removed from service. Now it’ll take 15 minutes to get to Clapham but 40 minutes to get to Victoria from Peckham Rye Station.

We will ask our guest, Councillor and friend Renata Hamvas, what can be done about this!

According to the Southwark News, East Dulwich artist Heather Burrell is to recreate from old shoes the stolen Barbara Hepworth statue. The Dulwich Park art was believed taken for its scrap metal value. Why old shoes? Who’d steal old shoes.

Peckham Open 2012 & Charity Art Auction Event, which Nunhead Arts is involved in is happening at Peckham Space. The exhibition is running from 30 November – 20 December. Check out Nunhead Arts website. I don’t know what this is but it is something!

The Nunhead Community Choir, led by friend Richard Swan, is having a festive pub carol crawl on Sunday 16 December. Meet at the Rye Hotel at 2pm at the bottom of Peckham Rye. I have often crawled pubs Carolling. Also Debbying, and Sarahing, and Elizabething…

They’ll be at the following pubs at the approximate times singing:

2pm – The Rye Hotel, Peckham Rye,
3pm – The Old White Horse, Nigel Road, Peckham
4pm – The Old Nun’s Head, Nunhead Green
5pm – The Waverley Arms, Ivydale Road – ‘followed by the usual carousing and raucous behaviour leading to embarrassing videos on Facebook in the morning.’

THIS JUST IN: Save the Ivy House has just received an offer of funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund. The plan is to buy the Ivy House and run it as a cooperative pub and community hub. Keep informed on twitter and @Save_Ivy_House and at the Save the Ivy House website.

Tonight’s guests are the brilliant Brian Damage and Krysstal, famous musicians I’ve known for years. Nunheader Ed Hammond was scheduled but he’s coming in next week. Instead we have Renata Hamvas, Nunhead Heights Southwark Council councilor talking about the trains! And maybe the cemeteries and parking and bicycles…

With the Dulwich Ukulele Club, our house band, and a new song for Christmas! Lisa Moyle is our lovely co-host, and Chris Dixon, our Man. Possibly Claudio on the desk. Who knows?

LISTEN!

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed 

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio 

Go to our facebook page! Nunhead American Radio.

Shows restart 8 January 2012: See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow 

Did you hear what happened at the Comedy Store last night? That’s the problem with live comedy today.

10 Nov

3 AM Saturday Morning 10 November 2012 Nunhead Heights.

Back in New York in the mid-’90s, a TV producer asked me to test an idea he had. He had seen me host shows in Greenwich Village and wanted me to trial a new kind of  comedy-talk TV show.

I had been doing comedy for maybe two years.

I went to the Kaufmann or the Silvercup Studios in Queens – I don’t remember which. It was a proper TV studio with a sets, cameras, and a camera crew. It probably cost him a pretty penny, and an ugly penny, too, to arrange this, even though he was using the crew from an earlier show. Unions don’t do favors.

His idea was for me to do only the ‘funny bits’ of my act. Make it fast – superfast. And cut out all the dull bits. Jokes without setups. Interviews at the speed of sound.

You cannot do only punchlines. I know that now. And ‘one-liners’ really have two lines. I know that now. And if a joke is just two words then one of them is the set up and the other is punchline and you can’t be sure which is which. I know that now.

It was a failure. I was a failure. He never called me again or came to see me in the Village.

There is a crisis in the live comedy business in the United Kingdom.

British comedy clubs are getting maybe half as many customers as they did a couple of years ago and are cutting back or closing down.

At the same time, the comedians, who used to make a decent living from these clubs  are struggling to get paid work as more clubs close or cut down and more and more comics come into the business.

My friend Martin Besserman runs the Monkey Businsess Comedy Club in north London He has called a meeting of the comedy community for this Monday. Comics and club promoters are coming. I’ll be there.

The comics have different needs from the club owners.

The comics want to work for the highest possible wage and they want to work. The club owners would be happy to put on a show without comics if they could get away with it. If they have to hire comics they strive to pay them as little as possible. That’s just business.

The gathering will be like a meeting of the British Zoo Association except instead of just the zookeepers the animals have been invited, too. The crocodiles and the stingrays in the same room with the Steve Irwins.

Martin’s main gripe is that other club owners are either putting on free admission shows or heavily discounting admission and it’s killing his business. And that comics are undercutting their value by working shows for less or even for free.

He’s right.

He charges ten or twelve pounds at Monkey Business – I don’t know exactly how much as he refuses to book me for Saturday nights because he thinks I’m unreliable. He is not alone in thinking this.

But other clubs can put on free shows as they get the money from the bar or if they don’t pay the comics very much, or pay the comics at all.

Martin pays his comics. But there are now many more good comics than there are spots and comics want to work. What comedy-goer would pay ten quid when right down the road is a free show, with comics seemingly just as good? 

Did you hear what happened last night Comedy Store in London?

Of course not.

Nothing ever happens at the Comedy Store in London.

In my 12 years in this country I haven’t heard a live comedy-goer or comic tell me of amazing goings on at the most successful comedy club in Britain. Not even once.

No amazing new jokes. No amazing revelations. No trauma or drama or theatre. Nothing unreliable at the Comedy Store.

I’m having a dig at the Comedy Store but it’s the same at almost every club and show in the UK. And I mention the Comedy Store because they’re the most successful comedy club in the country, they don’t book me, and owner Don Ward had a pop at me a few years back.

He once asked me, at a party in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, “Which Lewis Schaffer do we have tonight? The funny Lewis Schaffer or the not funny Lewis Schaffer.”

“At least I am funny half the time” I answered.

And though I didn’t know it at the time, that’s the point

Brilliant comedy is funny only part of the time. Daniel Kitson. Clown Doctor Brown. The other half is panic, insecurity, boredom, introspection, insight, education…

Great comedy, and I AM saying that sometimes I am a great comic, though not always or not often enough, involves a lot of the non-funny. It demands pathos, crisises, chaos and breakdowns. True anger and true sadness. And risk.

There is no risk at the Comedy Store in London only a couple of hours of funny.

I needed to be not funny half the time in that Queens studio. And we as comics need to be not funny half the time at Monkey Business and the Comedy Store. Okay, maybe a quarter not funny. But the clubs demand funny all the time. 

That is why my show, Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, is drawing twice as many people as it did last year. It isn’t completely funny.

Live British comedy today is all funny all the time. Until that changes comedy clubs will continue to die.  

I’m not worried about Live British comedy because it will change.

Read about the blind soldier who came to my show. I am proud of what I did that night and proud of this post.

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

iPhones and umbrellas. It’s not stealing if you find one.

27 Oct

12:18 AM Saturday 27 October 2012 Nunhead Heights

I have just lost my phone.

Good, proper, lost. It is either one or two places and they are not there. I’ve gone back and looked. If someone returns it I will give them £50. Or should that be £100? That is the bargaining. Or is that the denial because the phone isn’t coming back. How is the finder of my phone supposed to know where to return it?

I should have put my phone number or email address on the back. Too late.

The five stage of grief by Kubler-Ross. Or are there six? That was two of them. Bargaining and denial.

I have just called O2 to put a block on the phone. That is a sign of acceptance that the phone is not coming back and is probably in the hands of evil-doers calling Egypt or Pakistan or Russia.

Maybe I should look again in the rucksack which I have looked through twice? Just checked. Now three times. Not there.

Maybe I gave to my son when I was transferring my things from my rucksack? He hasn’t brought it over and he didn’t answer the phone when my friend Jane called. And why would he have taken it without telling me? He would have given me that knowing, naughty, giving-away-the-secret smile he is famous for.

God, this is an empty feeling.

The feeling of loss is weighing on my chest. This tragedy and the money I had stolen from my luggage in Edinburgh this summer. And the other ‘lost’ phone I had nicked about six years ago. And that I let my car engine block freeze up. Plonker.

The Stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance. Kubler-Ross left out the big one: bankruptcy.

This failure is going to cost me a fortune of wasted British Pounds. I have to get an iphone. I am an iphone person. I am the slightly more pretentious version of the council house tenant who has Sky TV. I have to get an iphone.

And they don’t call it ‘Pounds Sterling’ anymore. Why is that? When did that happen? Why am I thinking about that at this time?

My mind is all questions.

Maybe it is where I got into the car? I was holding it in my hand and when I went into Jane’s car for her to give my son Carnegie and me a lift back from Forest Hill. I didn’t check that side of the street. Should I bicycle back there in the rain and cold and dark? She did call the phone and I would have heard it ring had it from across the street. Wouldn’t I?

Why didn’t I hook up that app – I had that app – the Find-My-Iphone app? Too difficult to understand and to keep on and I have heard the police do nothing if you tell them you have found it’s location.

Why wasn’t I paying attention to my phone!?

Two people I know had found iPhones and didn’t try to find the owners.

I told them both it wasn’t right for them to keep them but I didn’t do more than that. I should have taken a strong stance! I was staring at MY iPhone in their hands. What goes around comes around and all that.

I checked where I got out of the car, where Jane dropped us off. I move aside the leaves. Nothing.

In a flash I thought: Maybe I left it on the counter of the news agents when I bought the newspapers – the Telegraph and ‘ I ‘. Don’t judge me, Britain. I picked up the Guardian yesterday and the day before that the Times. I refused to be judged by the newspapers I read.

I asked the weak-looking shopkeeper:

Have you found a phone just now? And the clerk’s reply was ‘I don’t think so’.

‘Don’t think so’!?

Wouldn’t you know if you just, within twenty minutes, found a phone? Even if it were the cheapest phone I think you’d remember. And mine was an iPhone 4S. I didn’t say this.

What can I do? Jump behind the counter and search the house that lays behind the shop? I may be wrong. Forgive me if I am wrong.

Twenty minutes later I’m resigned.

‘I’ll get a new phone tomorrow.’ I tell myself.

Then I panic again. I must change my passwords! I swing into action. I’ve changed my passwords. But I remember the stand-up shows I’ve ‘taped’ or whatever they call it. Damn Apple for making it almost impossible to download ‘voice notes’ or whatever they call it. Damn you arrogant Apple! I’ve lost a lot. But it is just me. And I am no Lenny Bruce and comedy gold.

I speak to my flatmate who has just come in. Coincidentally, he informs me, his phone is broken.

I don’t care! I feel guilty I’m not sympathetic to him in his moment of need.

Fidel is up on all things current. He works in the dole office and sees life on the ground floor and below. And he’s a Southwark boy.

‘Do you have insurance?’

No, of course not. It is £10 a month or £240 a year and who pays half of the cost of something in insurance? Would you pay £15,000 insurance over two years for a £30,000 car?

I have another flash: I will put up posters on trees offering a reward for the phone.

He laughs, again.

Should I make a stink with the newsagents? They have it. I am almost sure of it.

‘Let it go. That is how so and so [mentions someone we both know] got his iphone. So and so had lost his Samsung phone and then he found an iPhone and that’s how it works.’

Indiana comic Jim Gaffigan entered my mind. I remember a comedy bit he did 20 years ago, before he was famous and rich. How it is okay to not to search for the owners of lost umbrellas. Umbrellas are just passed around the universe. It was funny.

I ask my flatmate, Fidel:

‘Could an £500 iphone with a person’s work, all their contacts and apps and music, be treated the same as a £3 (three pound) umbrella?’

He smiled.

Yes, lost phones are reunited with their owners in Britain. I left my phone in the dressing room at the Edinburgh Fringe last August and it was returned to me. And misplaced phones are probably returned every day in South London and Nunhead, too.

But it is possible that an lost iPhone now belongs to the universe.

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

Comedy topics that don’t risk causing serious offence.

11 Oct

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>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

The new way to make enemies.

2 Oct

10 AM Tuesday 2 October 2012 Nunhead Heights

It used to take a week to make an enemy. You had to leave the house and actually speak to people. At least that’s what I did.

Now I can make thousands of enemies in just a few minutes at home. All because of the internet.

They call it ‘social media’. In my hands, it’s ‘anti-social media’.

The accusations against ‘TV Comic’ Justin Lee Collins touched a nerve.

My children weren’t staying over with me, again. They haven’t slept over in months even though the court says I’m supposed to have them twice a week. I was feeling bitter and angry at being frozen out of my children’s lives.

Not the best time to be writing about relationships.

I posted a defense of Justin Lee Collins.

It wasn’t funny.

If I can’t make something I say or write funny I’m probably too angry or too wrong and I definitely shouldn’t say it or post it.

I’ve gone not funny again. I shouldn’t post this. I’ll make even more enemies.

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

John Fleming's blog - SO IT GOES

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

John Fleming's blog - SO IT GOES

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic