Rage Performing Arts Pages

STOOD UP By Jaspre Bark

"I am discharge woman," proclaims Perrier award winner Jenny Eclair, from the stage of Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End. "Talk about custard, fruit sponge fingers, you name it, I've got a vagina like a bloody trifle." Replete in fake leopard skin top and tight leather trousers, she is filming her award winning show from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for her forthcoming video Top Bitch, available November 13th on PNE Video.

For many comics whose routines, because of their contents or nature, make it difficult for them to get work in TV, the home video is becoming an attractive alternative. This is very much the case for Jenny Eclair, it's very difficult to imagine her doing more than ten minutes of her hour length show on TV. But then, this is one of the unique selling points of her live act and her up coming video, people will pay to see something they can't get at home on the telly. And get it they do. "Oh I've found your level haven't I," she says knowingly to her audience after the massive burst of laughter that follows her comment that she hates dinner parties, because the guests always expect a salad "and that means scraping the Vaseline off the cucumber."

Her act isn't total filth however, and it does manage to rise above crotch level on more than one occasion. It's the often neglected feminine perspective that she takes on life, personal relationships and of course sex, that makes her an important comic. Especially in such a male dominated world as comedy. And probably the greatest accolade that could be paid her, were the scores and scores of women in the audience turning to the various men through out the evening and pointing accusing fingers. "That's you that is," and "you do that" could be heard like a constant murmur all through out the theatre. Men be warned, watch this video alone, your women don't need any more ammunition than they've already got. Special mention should also be made of Kevin Eldon, who warmed up the crowd and provided support for Jenny on the evening. Kevin's brand of bizarre and sometimes down right surreal observational comedy was an absolute treat. And however much I enjoyed Jenny's show, I was a little sorry to see him leave the stage. About time he had his own video too, I say.

And while we're on the topic of the Perrier Pick of the Fringe season, one comic who was pipped to the award by Jenny is Boothby Graffoe. Boothby to my mind is the single funniest mainstream comic in Britain. Stand up comedy and the business of making people laugh for a living, is very much a craft, the longer you do it, if you've got any talent, the better you get. Most comics at the top of their profession have spent years working to be as good as they now are. This is not the case with Boothby, if ever the term 'natural born comic' applied to anyone it applies to this man. At least half of his act is made up on the spur of the moment while the other half adds a whole new element to the term cheesy. If you only catch one comic this year, you wouldn't go far wrong with Boothby.

Our rising young star this month is the long, quirky but gifted Richard Asplin. When I contacted Richard about this article requesting photos and a CV he sent me the following:

"Richard Asplin was designed and built in London at the turn of the century and has failed not to live there ever since. At an early age he began to show a remarkable talent for getting beaten up and being called a 'lanky four eyed git', an ability he has continued to nurture through out his adult life.

Almost educated in Central London, his formative years saw essays such as 'My favourite Star Wars figures' and 'When I grow up I want to be Steve Austin' gain critical acclaim, many getting copied out neatly and pinned above the nature table. In 1982 he was rumoured to be behind (or at least standing quite near) the subversive campaign to allow those ten year olds who have already finished their times tables to be allowed to watch the A Team - consequently leading to the 'Dukes of Hazard' riots in the mid eighties.

As a teenager, although busy not getting laid, Richard spent time travelling around his desk occasionally oozing out the odd short story, the odd sketch and a very odd play or two, all of which, combined, are soon to be published under the misprinted title 'I suppose you think that's fanny'.

He first appeared with a mike, a stage, ten minutes of amusing banter and an absurd hairstyle at the VD Clinic in Hampstead, supporting Rob Newman in February 93, which he enjoyed a lot and is currantly (oops, bit of a bun joke there) attempting to persuade other large groups of people to laugh at him. Time Out has said '....Time Out is published every Wednesday.' He lives in Harrow with a cat, a teapot, two pairs of Dr. Martens and a sort of nagging headache. Laughter is not his middle name. His middle name is Anthony. The rest as they say is History, double period, followed by double maths and lunch."

And that doesn't leave much else to say except that, as you're now probably aware, he's one of the wittiest and most effortlessly funny up and coming comics performing in the British Isles. Catch him Downstairs at the Kings Head on Wednesday 8th of November or at the Wibbly Wobbly Cabaret on Sunday 11th.

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