Drawing: Jerry Seinfeld

Comic genius and car collector Jerry Seinfeld returned to London last week to perform four shows over two nights at the Hammersmith Apollo. He is listed as the 12th Greatest Stand-up Comedian of All Time by Comedy Central with his ‘observational comedy’. A couple of examples to remind us of his brilliance, “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper” or “Make no mistake about why these babies are here-they are here to replace us.”
In collaboration with Larry David, he created and wrote the self-titled sitcom SEINFELD, in which he plays a fictional version of himself, a mild germaphobe and neat freak, minor celeb, stand-up comedian with his best friend George (Jason Alexander), friend and former girlfriend Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and the neighbour across the hall, Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), set in a Manhattan apartment building on New York’s Upper West Side.

SEINFELD ran for nine seasons from July 5, 1989 – May 14, 1998, collecting 41 major awards, including 10 Primetime Emmys and three Golden Globes. It is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms ever, and ranked the best TV show by Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and TV Guide among others. The dialogue incorporated ‘Seinfeldian’ code words and recurring phrases, often referred to as ‘Seinlanguage’ that have become cemented in popular culture such as ‘Hello, Newman!’, ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that’, ‘It’s not a lie if you believe it’….’Yada, yada, yada.’

Jerry also has an impressive collection of 150 cars, including 43 Porches, housed in a three-story, $1.4m Manhattan garage with it’s own dedicated fleet management team. Some of the vehicles appear in his talk show, COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE.
Jerry very kindly dedicated and signed my sketch for me at the Apollo.

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Drawing: Dara O Briain

Autographed drawing of comedian Dara O'Briain

One of the most recognisable faces on British TV is Irish funnyman Dara O Briain, although the London-based comic and presenter says he’s only recognised once a day. Described as one of the most charismatic, intelligent, fast-talking and downright funny performers working today, ‘Britain’s favourite Irishman’, who studied maths and theoretical physics at Dublin’s University College was voted the 16th greatest stand-up comic on Chanel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.

On stage he has the ‘aristocratic bearing of someone esteemed in almost every household in the land,’ according to Guardian reviewer Brian Logan. The ‘craic dealer’ is a regular fixture on the telly, hosting the hugely popular MOCK THE WEEK, plus STARGAZING LIVE, ROBOTWARS, GO8BIT and THE APPRENTICE: YOU’RE FIRED! among others. He is also a frequent guest on QI and LIVE AT THE APOLLO, reminding us that ‘nostalgia is heroin for old people’ and ‘stop taking it literally – it’s only the Bible, it’s not gospel!’ His favourite word is ‘defenestration’, which is a form of political assassination where people are thrown out of a window. His most overused one is ‘fuck’, which he justifies -“it’s a solid word,” When asked what extinct thing he would bring back, he said, the fountain pen. Write so!

It was great to finally meet Dara earlier this year when he signed my sketch at the London Palladium stage door in February when he arrived for the 100 HEARTS NIGHT OF COMEDY charity evening.

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: Mae Martin at the Soho Theatre

mae-martin

Young Canadian comedian and writer Mae Martin, described as a ‘brilliant mix of clever, venerable and goofy,’ was even younger when she began performing comedy, at the age of 13. Now eleven years later she has established herself as one of the bright lights on the British circuit. Mae trained for four years at the Toronto outpost of the internationally acclaimed comedy institution and world’s premier school of improv, The Second City, which boasts alumni including Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy and Bill Murray. London-based since 2010, Mae successfully debuted at the Edinburgh Festival the following year and then her sell-out MAE DAY run in 2012.

I was lucky enough to catch he delightful comic last Thursday before her show at the Soho Theatre where she signed my drawing.

Sketch: Frankie Boyle

Frankie Boyle

Scottish comedian Francis Martin Patrick Boyle, known to all as Frankie, is one of the UK’s most popular and most controversial comics.

His genres are listed as one-liners, black comedy, blue comedy, surreal humour, improvisational comedy, insult comedy, pessimistic humour and political satire and he is exceptional at all of them, if not everyone’s cup of tea.

He once said he planned to quit stand up before he turned 40, but thankfully that age has passed and he’s still performing live. Frankie’s currently doing ‘work in progress’ shows around London. He did a short run at The Phoenix near Oxford Circus, where I caught up with him… with some trepidation, given his stage persona.

But I needn’t have worried, he was extremely pleasant as he arrived and headed to the basement performance area, in spite being interrupted by a ‘grapher wanting his pencil scribble signed at the precise moment his pen decided to slip through the hole in his jacket pock and lodge in the lining…

I quickly grabbed another pen from my bag and thanked Frankie for his patience and for his ‘graph and dedication. Sigh of comic relief… reminding myself of the first rule of autograph collecting, make sure you give them something to sign with!

Drawing: Shappi Khorsandi in Because I’m Shappi at the Soho Theatre

Shappi Khorsandi

Tehran-born, British comedian Shappi Khorsandi was brought up in London after her family was forced to flee Iran after the Islamic Revolution, following the publication of a satirical poem composed by her satirist father, criticising the Ayatollah.

The star of Live At The Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Have I Got News For You and QI completed a sell out run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. Entitled Because I’m Shappi, she performed a season let month at the Soho Theatre, where she signed my sketch after her final performance.