Drawing: Rose Matafeo – Horndog

Autographed drawing of Rose Matafeo in Horndog at the Soho Theatre on London's West End

Kiwi comic Rose Matafeo won the top comedy gong at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival last month with her show HORNDOG. The 26 year-old New Zealander of Samoan and Scottish/Croatian heritage, who has been honing her standup skills since the age of 15 is only the fifth woman to take the coveted Best Show Award.

The ad for HORNDOG reads that Rose ‘has kissed 10 men in her life, AKA she’s a total horndog.’ It chronicles her barely functioning love life and mid-20’s angst. Her definition of ‘horniness’ is “girls putting 100% into something that’s not worth it.” They’re looking for a passionate relationship rather than love. As a film-mad, geeky teenager she had no luck with boys, so when dating happened she became obsessed. “Go hard or go home” was her MO.

In his review, the Guardian’s Brian Logan wrote, “…a volcanic eruption of standup… Matafeo’s neurosis, intelligence and flamboyant sense of her own ridiculousness make her a near-perfect comedian.”

I caught up with the charismatic Rose after her second show at London’s Soho Theatre where she’s performing HORNDOG until the end of month and she signed my drawing.

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Drawing: Andy Zaltzman

Autographed drawing of comedian Andy Zaltzman

“Probably one of the finest satirical comedians this country’s ever produced,” is how Time Out describes English satirist Andy Zaltzman. He has firmly established himself in the vanguard of British comedy with his unique brand of political satire with a style that centres around verbal dexterity and an extensive use of the pun, especially the ‘pun runs’.

Andy has been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe since 1999 and has worked extensively with John Oliver. In 2004 they began hosting the POLITICAL ANIMAL stand-up show which Andy hosted solo from 2006, transferring to BBC Radio 4. From October 2007 until June 2016 Andy and John co-hosted the weekly satirical comedy podcast THE BUGLE. John left due to other commitments, and now Andy has a rotating group who share the hosting duties.

He is also a huge cricket fan, doing guest commentary on a variety of formats and contributes to a regular blog on CRICINFO. I took the opportunity to meet him at the Soho Theatre last month, where he was performing his SATIRIST FOR HIRE gig.

Audience members had the opportunity to submit ‘satiric-queries’ they cared about, which Andy satirised. I did this very quick sketch, based on the poster at the theatre and he signed it to my wife (a serial BUGLE devotee) and I and took a photo of it… probably for evidence in a visual defamation case.

Drawing: Jen Kirkman

Autographed drawing of comedian Jen Kirkman

Massachusetts-born, LA-based comedian, podcaster and actor Jen Kirkman brought her THE ALL NEW MATERIAL, GIRL tour to London’s Soho Theatre earlier this year for a sell-out run and returned for a one-night only gig at the Leicester Square Theatre in June.

She does regular stand-up at the Hollywood Improv and The Laugh Factory. On TV she’s a panellist on CHELSEA LATELY and narrates DRUNK HISTORY, while her podcast I SEEM FUN gets 50,000 downloads a month. Jen is a stand-up consultant and writer for Amy Sherman-Palladino’s latest hit series THE MARVELOUS MRS MAISEL, which won two Golden Globes recently and has six Emmy nominations.

In a Guardian interview earlier this year she said, “My fan base tends to be, for want of a better phrase, on the punk-rock side of life, feminists, lesbians, guys who wear nail polish, mums who are really fun and like to drink a lot.” She also said the audiences are different, depending on the day. “Monday’s are more responsive, anyone going out on a Monday must be a die-hard fan. Whereas on Fridays, people have worked all week, they’re tired and angry… and drinking. Friday’s are the toughest, weird energy. Saturday’s are just rowdy, so if you can combine the loyalty of Monday with the rowdiness of Saturday that would be ideal.”

Jen signed my drawing for me at her Leicester Square one show only on 22 June. It was a Friday.

Drawing: Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement – Flight Of The Conchords

Autographed drawing of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement Flight Of The Conchords

Self-styled as New Zealand’s ‘fourth most popular guitar-based digital-bongo acapella- rap-funk-comedy-folk duo’, and ‘retired sex symbols’, Flight Of The Conchords, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are, by global consensus, one of the most successful musical comedy bands on the planet.

As fellow Kiwis… actually as a members of the human race we had to see them perform live, the first time in eight years in the UK. We managed to get tickets to see them at London’s O2. However their big comeback, sold-out arena tour was postponed after a couple of dates, when Bret fell down a flight of stairs, breaking two bones in his hand, “a very rock ‘n’ roll injury” he wrote on his Instagram post.

Bones fixed, the bona fide rock stars rescheduled, adding extra shows. We finally got to the O2 gig on 22 June. “Sorry we’re three months late,” they said in typical Conchordian laid back schtick. Jemaine also apologised for looking ‘older and dustier’, but Bret pointed out that the audience have also put on some years since they last toured “So we’re even.” In London, they did three sell-out shows at the O2 and four at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith.

The O2’s a fortress and nigh impossible to meet the artists let alone get stuff signed. The Apollo isn’t much better, with a reinforced gate protecting the lane to the stage door, but it has an opening. I had also heard that sometimes barriers are erected for after show signing and selfie sessions. I decided to go with an entry rather than exit option and quickly did this sketch, arriving at the said gate just as it was closing after Bret and Jemaine had passed through in a big black van and down to the stage door.

However, while I was muttering the typical antipodean expletive, ‘bugger’ or something stronger, a very accommodating gentleman with a lanyard approached me and asked if he could help. I explained the situation and he promised to pass it on. A month passed, nothing returned. Then yesterday this arrived back in the post. Apologies for thinking the worse of said accommodating gentleman with lanyard… in fact ‘thanks.’

Drawing: Russell Howard

Autographed drawing of comedian Russell Howard

One of the many absorbing things about living in London is that you frequently see well-known people, often referred to as celebrities in mainstream media or ‘targets’ in the tabloids, walking amongst us mere mortals, on the tube or shopping, going about their not-so-well-known business. In general I don’t bother them and visa-versa.

I might occasionally say ‘hi’ or even sometimes, if they are currently in theatre, a complementary comment. Sharpie stalking siggy requests are to be avoided. A few years back, Geoffrey Rush, was walking towards a restaurant and declined one such request from a fan, saying he was not ‘working’ and it was ‘his time’, but would be happy to oblige at the Premiere (THE KING’S SPEECH) the next day. Fair enough. These days the selfie has replaced the siggy, but the principle’s the same. It’s important to acknowledge private and public time.

However on Saturday, one of my favourite comics, Russell Howard, was standing beside me at the traffic lights opposite the Palace Theatre on Charing Cross Road. Last year, I had drawn a sketch of Russell, one of the best selling acts in British stand-up, when he smashed the record for consecutive performances at the Royal Albert Hall, with ten, beating previous holders Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. He returned to the venue in January this year to host AN EVENING OF COMEDY for the Teenage Cancer Trust, where I had hoped to get my rendering signed, but I missed the opportunity. As luck and a certain trace from my all-too-brief experience as a boy scout would have it, the sketch was still in my folder.

He was heading to the Soho Theatre to see fellow comedian Andy Zaltzman. Same – two things I had in common with, as Time Out called him, a ‘comedy superstar.’ Firstly I thought I had better make sure it was actually him-lot of doppelgängers in these here parts.

“Russell?”.

He confirmed. Then I showed him the sketch-not a usual balmy Saturday evening occurrence, even for a comedy superstar, but he was genuinely, I like to think surprised rather than shocked, followed by low status expletives and was happy to sign it before the little green man flashed and it was time to cross the road.

Drawing: Miriam Margoyles in Madame Rubinstein

Autographed drawing of Miriam Margoyles in Madame Rubinstein at the Park Theatre in London

In May last year the irresistible BAFTA Award-winning actress Miriam Margoyles returned to the London stage in the titular role of Jez Bond’s MADAME RUBINSTEIN at the Park Theatre. The play centres around the intense rivalry between 20th century cosmetic giants Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden (played by Frances Barber). Coincidently, it was also the subject of WAR PAINT, a simultaneous production on Broadway with Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole.

I last saw Miriam as Nell in Samuel Beckett’s ENDGAME at the Duchess Theatre in 2009. Three years earlier she was one of the original cast members of the musical WICKED, as Madame Morrible at the Apollo and subsequently at the George Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. HARRY POTTER fans will know her as Professor Pomona Sprout. I’m a big fan of her THE REAL MARIGOLD HOTEL travel doco series… and told her so.

Her ‘comic tour de force’ in MADAME RUBINSTEIN was described by Alun Hood in his WhatsOnStage review. “Margoyles plays Rubinstein-so imperious that even her own children call her ‘Madame’-to the absolute hilt: she’s brash, amoral, manipulative, paranoid, rude, crazy: a bejewelled gorgon in a pillar box red dress. She is also, in Margoyles’ endlessly skilled hands, utterly irresistible.”

Miriam is a humanitarian advocate for many causes. I managed to catch-up with her when she arrived at the Royal Society of Medicine last Friday evening for The Silver Line’s fundraising event, which operates a 24 hour helpline for older people, where she signed my Madame R sketch.

Drawing: Kevin Bishop in Lady Windermere’s Fan

Autographed drawing of Kevin Bishop in Lady Windermere's Fan at the Vaudeville Theatre on London's West End

English actor, writer and comedian Kevin Bishop plays the ‘dashingly funny’ (The Times) Lord Darlington in Kathy Burke’s ‘vividly fresh’ revival of Oscar Wilde’s LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN at London’s Vaudeville Theatre.

Kevin is well known to small screen fans for Channel 4’s comedy sketch series THE KEVIN BISHOP SHOW, which he co-wrote with Lee Hupfield and the BBC’s remake of the classic comedy PORRIDGE. His recent London stage appearances include the one-man show FULLY COMMITTED at the Menier Chocolate Factory in which he played 40 characters and ONCE IN A LIFETIME opposite Harry Enfield at the Young Vic.

Playing Lord Darlington gives Kevin a chance to work with two of his comedy heroes, Kathy Burke and Jennifer Saunders and deliver some of Wilde’s memorable lines, such as “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I met Kevin as he was about to take his dog for a walk between shows on Saturday. I held the leash and he took my sharpie and signed my drawing.

Drawing: Jennifer Saunders in Lady Windermere’s Fan

Autographed drawing of Jennifer Saunders in Lady Windermere's Fan at the Vaudeville Theatre on London's West End

After a 20 year wait, Jennifer Saunders has returned to the West End, this time as the imposing Duchess of Berwick in Kathy Burke’s production of Oscar Wilde’s LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN at the Vaudeville Theatre.

One of the most influential women in British television comedy, Jennifer kept to prominence as Vyvyan in THE YOUNG ONES and, with her comedy partner Dawn French, launched the sketch show FRENCH AND SAUNDERS in 1987, which became staple BBC viewing through to 2007. Let’s not forget the champagne-quaffing PR Edina Monsoon opposite Joanna Lumley in ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, among a raft of other memorable characters and appearances, collecting a truck-load of accolades along the way.

Her current stage performance has garnered equal plaudits, The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner calling her portrayal, “a monstrous star turn,” as “A Duchess with a walking stick like a taser and a hat like a homunculus.”

The two things Jennifer and I have in common is our age and being at the same stage door at the same time after Saturday’s matinee, where I asked her to sign this sketch. “Well done you,” she said, which is always a good sign.

Drawing: The Play That Goes Wrong

Autographed drawing of Dave Hearn, Henry Lewis, Charlie Russell, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields in The Play that Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre in London and the Lyceum Theatre in New York

One of the big success stories of British Theatre is the creation of the Mischief Theatre Company and their first hit production THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG. Written by LAMDA graduates Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, it follows the exploits of members of the fictitious Conley Polytechnic Drama Society and their disastrous attempt to put on a 1920’s murder mystery. The writers were joined in the original cast by Charlie Russell, David Hearn, Greg Tannahill, Nancy Wallinger and Rob Falconer, who used to work at my local pub and said he was working on an interesting theatre project.

From modest beginnings above one of London’s oldest taverns at the sixty-seater Old Red Lion Theatre in 2012, it moved to the Trafalgar Studios a year later then to the Duchess in September in 2014, where it is currently in residence and booking to later this year. It won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Last year it transferred to the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design. It has now gone global, with productions in over 20 countries, including a UK tour.

Last month the two Henrys, Jonathan, Charlie and David returned to the West End, as part of the ensemble for the improv MISCHIEF MOVIE NIGHTS at London’s Arts Theatre, where I met them to sign this drawing for me.

Drawing: Margaret Cho

Autographed drawing of comedian Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho is one of America’s most politically outspoken and savage standup comedians. In his Guardian preview before she embarked on her just completed UK Tour ‘FRESH OFF THE BLOAT’, Rob Walker wrote, “If you have never heard of Margaret Cho, think of the caustic, crude comedy of Joan Rivers, the politically-charged jibes of Bill Hicks and the quick-witted improvisation of Robin Williams – all rolled onto one but with a feisty Korean twist.”

The five-time Grammy and Emmy nominated actor, author and singer-songwriter is a household name in the US. Earlier this year Rolling Stone magazine named her as one of the 50 Best Standup Comics of all time. Openly bisexual, Margaret’s famous for her brazen take on sex and politics. She is also a regular on the small screen, playing the rebellious daughter in a traditional Korean-American household, ALL AMERICAN GIRL and as Teri Lee in DROP DEAD DIVA. She has also appeared in a number of films, including John Travolta’s FBI colleague in FACE/OFF.

Margaret’s last gig on the tour was at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Sunday 10 December. The previous day I popped by to drop off a drawing, but it was completely shut, so I fired the enveloped sketch under the stage door and hoped for the best. It arrived back, signed, in the mail on Saturday.