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The Funny Farm was a co-operative of new comedians, based in Glasgow, in the 1989-90 period. We were a varied bunch, thrown together by necessity in our need to do-it-ourselves, as there was literally no comedy scene whatsoever at that time in Scotland, outside of the mainstream club comics, and pantomime and summer season vaudevilians.

We set up our own gigs in pubs, clubs, and community centres … did improv comedy and workshop nights, and in the course of a couple of years established ourselves to the extent that Scottish Television recorded an eponymous series of stand-up comedy, based around our members, which I hosted each week, on Friday, late-night

The original Funny Farm members were a lovely bunch of people … keen, funny, and great to have as friends … our enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment spilled onto the stage, and it was a great experience to be involved with such a fine bunch

Here’s a foto of myself, Parrot and Bruce Morton

Here are some really low quality shots, taken from a contact sheet I found, of some of the original gang.


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DAVID COSGROVE / KEVIN KOPFSTEIN

FRED MAC AULEY / GORDON ROBERTSON

BORIS VESTA (LEWIS MACLEOD)

MAY MACREADIE / STEWART MACDONALD

The Funny Farm tv series, was produced by the wonderful Kim Kinnie, whose Comedy Store connections in London allowed the show to feature guest artistes of an astonishing quality and pedigree, such as Bill Hicks, Lee Evans, Jo Brand, Jimmy Tingle, Sean Lock, Nick Revell, Paul Merton, Eddie Izzard, The Comedy Store Players, and practically every good comedian who appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe over the years the show was broadcast

Sculptor, Tony Morrow, famous for his Loby Dosser & El Fideldo statue in Woodlands Rd, used to live near me, in Kildrum, here in Cumbernauld.    At that time, he was a fireman, hadn’t yet been to art-school, and was a mate of mine .. with a great sense of humour.

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First time I ever visited his flat, I sat down on the couch, as he went to put the kettle on, and I started to skin-up, a wee  number on his large coffee table

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Situated at the opposite end of the table was a box of Maltesers … but a box which was maybe four or five times bigger than even the biggest, family size, Malteser box
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“That’s some fukkin size of a box of Maltesers, Tony!” I shouted through to Tony in the kitchen
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“I love Maltesers. Have one”  he shouted back

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I lifted the partially opened flap top of the box.

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Inside was one HUGE brown, chocolate Malteser, the size of a volleyball.

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“But don’t eat the last one”  Tony shouted …. “Leave the last one fur me”

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I doubled up, pissing myself laughing

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“That is fukkin genius … You should do stuff like that professionally”  I told him … constantly for the next few years, … and eventually, he did

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Over the years, I saw dozens of people fall for his little trick … he’d made the box and Maltesers, perfect to scale, and it was typical of the daft visual gags he eventually did in his sculptural work

MRI MEW SICK

 

In hospital today, for an MRI scan, which involves lying prone for a half-hour or so inside that large, donut-shaped apparatus, which is highly reminiscent of a cheap, sci-fi, time-portal.
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You are advised that you can bring your own CD of music to play, through their headphones and, on my first visit, I’d taken a chill-out, Café Del Mar compilation, but found out it was totally drowned out by the noisy scan equipment … so, this time I’d taken along some throbbing dance tunes, courtesy of “Meccano Mind” by Syntax, which raised a few eyebrows from the nurse, and a huge smile from the radiographer.  I don’t think that 62 year-olds are meant to like bangin’ choons.

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The radiographer was very friendly, and he enquired as to what the album I’d brought was, saying that the previous patient, an elderly lady, has just inflicted upon him with over an hour of “The Best Of Jim Reeves” … which should at best be ten minutes long, and two tracks at most, in my opinion.

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I’d noticed that on the hospital’s own play list of albums available, there was a compilation of military marches played by The Royal Dragoon Guards Band, and I wondered if it was ever requested … “Constantly!” he replied “So many elderly guys ask for it … and it’s rather bizarre watching them lie there, their toes twitching away in military drill”

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The fact that you’re supposed to lie there, motionless, made this seem rather silly, and I remarked that I’d heard a story, on a previous visit, of an elderly lady who’d come along with a CD that her son had bought her especially for her MRI session.  She was duly fitted with headphones and left in the MRI suite for her scan.
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Within some minutes, they realised that she was twitching and flailing her arms about, and also raising her legs … this concerned them, as people with pacemakers, metal pins in their joints, etc, can be adversely affected by the electro-magnetic field of the scanner … so they stopped the scan and rushed in to see if she was ok.

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When questioned about her movements, she said that she was just doing what they told her to do on the headphones … It transpires that her son had given her a relaxation CD, which featured dreamy, chill-out music, and then a soft mellifluous voice, saying “Lift your left leg … raise your arm in the air slowly, etc”

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”I was on duty that day … I saw that” said the radiographer … “We thought she was having a fit!”

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Fantastic … it must have been a sight to behold … so beware folks, pick that music carefully.

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Here’s a selection of images that tickled my fancy

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And click on the image below twice, for lotsa detail

Many decades ago, when I was a graphic artist, we were told a cautionary tale with regards to checking your sources when combining foreign elements in a design

Seemingly, or so the story goes, when Japan was becoming Americanised in it’s commercial culture, some time during the late 60’s, the concept of Christmas as a shopping extravaganza was slowly and gradually foisted on the non-Christian, Japanese consumer.

To this end, a major department store in Tokyo commissioned two trendy, young, inexperienced but hip, Japanese designers to produce a huge & costly window display for their flagship store.

Being in an era before Google and the Internet, artists would leaf through books and magazines to obtain source material and artistic references and inspirations when designing such a major undertaking

If I, for example, were designing a Japanese-themed display at that time, I would probably have referenced images of snow-topped Mount Fuji, lotus blossom, the Rising Sun emblem, samurai, Japanese calligraphy, etc

The young Japanese designers obviously did the same, and produced a snow-covered landscape, with reindeer, snowmen, penguins, in pride of place, at the centre of it all, a large, and beautifully fashioned, Santa Claus figure nailed to a seven-foot high wooden cross.

A beautiful cross-fertilisation of Christian symbolism, in a manner that any non-Japanese artist might’ve easily misinterpreted Shinto symbols … maybe!!!

Whether true or not, I’ve always loved the idea of a crucified Santa … and being a heathen, non-believer who is aghast at Xmas tacky decorations, imagery, and symbolism, I’m amazed it took me so long to realize that vision.

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Merry Whatsits To Y’All … Do What Ya Do!!

Love’n Stuff – Stu & Maggi



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Beat Yourself Up – Save The Police Time

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For most of my adult life, maybe the past 45 years or more, I’ve been hearing the same phrases repeated endlessly

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Things have never been as bad as they are now

Things are getting worse … there’s no hope for the future

This is the worst government we’ve ever had to deal with

The last government created the problems

The next government will solve the problems

We’re heading for economic collapse

We’re heading for a nuclear war

The apocalypse is predicted to be imminent

The majority of people in this country are selfish, greedy, and stupid.

The majority of people in other countries are selfish, greedy, and stupid.

The majority of people in the World we live in are selfish, greedy, and stupid.

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YOU have never met and have no real knowledge of the majority of people in this country. 

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YOU have never met and have no real knowledge of the entire population of seven billion people who comprise the Earth’s population, so you must be basing this negative deduction on your knowledge of yourself, and on your knowledge of your immediate friends and associates … therefore, YOU and everyone you know must be selfish, greedy, and stupid.

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Right?

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Wrong.

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Armageddon, in one form or another, has been predicted, on a yearly basis, for almost every single one of the sixty-two years of my life.

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Like the boy who cried wolf, or the chicken who predicted that the sky was falling, eventually anyone with sense eventually stops listening to such fear-ridden blather.  I stopped worrying that the sky was falling many years back, and have noticed that the downfall of civilisation, the rise of fascism, the erosion of all our civil liberties, the creation of new concentration-camps, the round-up of liberals hasn’t happened as expected and foretold …  and the runaway train that is civilisation hasn’t crashed yet either.

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On the other hand, over the past 40 years I’ve witnessed an astonishing change in the levels of social responsibility and political awareness around me, the rise of a highly effective and powerful environmental movement, the liberation of women both in politics and everyday life, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and a level of social acceptance of gay lifestyle that I never expected to see in my lifetime, the denunciation of everyday racism, sexism and homophobia in the media, in government, the workplace, and on the street, a level of social interaction and communication on a global level that wasn’t predicted in even the most prescient of science fiction, and a potential for positive change within the Global Village that I never even dreamed possible when I went on my first ever street-demos back in the 60’s & 70’s.

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In many ways, as far as I can see, things have never been better, as the potential for change has never more eminently possible, and the tools of change ie. Mass communication, and education as a product thereof, have never been more readily available and accessible.

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So stop succumbing to the fear, the hype, the bullshit, the propaganda, the fairy-tales and horror stories designed to make you fear the worst, expect the worst, and give up trying because there ain’t no point … because resistance is futile.

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In my early days as a political activist, our mass communications were limited to Roneo and Xerox leaflets, screen-printed posters, underground magazines and newspapers, and cheaply produced button badges … simple, but effective forms of spreading our doctrines, and a far-cry from the easy access of emails, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

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One very popular button badge wryly proclaimed the slogan:

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BEAT YOURSELF UP – SAVE THE POLICE TIME

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That, my friends, is what you and your negativity are doing.  You’re doing The Power’s job for them.   That is the tactic that seems to be working highly successfully at present with the wave of rampant negativity I see on so many articles, and blogs, and vids and Facebook postings: …..

“The Future is Hopeless”

No, my friends … Your attitude is what is Hopeless … The Future is just fine.

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Fight The Power … Free The Future
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Thanx to my Facebook buddy Brian Spencer for the motivation to write this … one of the many Good Americans I know
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http://www.comedycarpet.com/map/

 

A large granite carpet which displays the names and catchphrases of 1000 UK comedians was unveiled this week, in Blackpool, and much to my surprise and pleasure, my name is featured

I’ve never been interested in any award ceremonies, prizes, or competitions throughout my years as a stand-up comedian or performer, but this wee inclusion on an art installation does give me a rather nice glow of satisfaction, as it has a certain aura of working-class credibility, for me at least

I’ve always had a huge respect for my precursors in the world of comedy, and have read and studied the history of UK stand-up comedy, and written on the subject too, in the Scottish Encyclopedia of Cuture, and on BBC Radio Scotland

Being included amongst some of the greatest stand-ups of the past and present is a pure honour, and I’m well chuffed

Unfortunately, I’m now gonna have to try and visit Blackpool to see the bloody thing!!

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