English actress and broadcaster Samantha Baines first comic turn happened in 2015 when her stand-up career birthed at The Comedy Store in London. A year later she was nominated for all the awards going, winning the What The Frock! Best Newcomer gong.
Probably best known to small screen viewers as Janet on BBC’s SUNNY D, Dot in CALL THE MIDWIFE and recently Mary the ‘cougher’ in the 4th episode of Netflix’s THE CROWN, Sam’s debut comedy show 1 WOMAN, A DWARF PLANET AND 2 COX featured at last year’s Edinburgh Festival. Described as ‘science meets funny’ Sam needs space… the final frontier kind, as one comedy’s brightest stars loosely documents her action plan for romantically ensnaring Professor Brian Cox.
I had hoped to catch up with Sam in person when she was scheduled to perform the show one night at the Museum of Comedy, but she had to cancel due to a family bereavement, so I posted my sketch to her. She kindly emailed me to acknowledge its arrival and returned it, signed and inscribed.
“You get to solve a crime, meet Cher (as a bat) and fall in love with the women with Two Heads – it’s a damn good time!” said acclaimed comedian Alison Thea-Skot about her latest show IT’S THEA-SKOT IN HERE (SO TAKE OFF ALL YOUR CLOTHES), which had its sold out, five star run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe following her equally impressive SOME LIKE IT THEA-SKOT last year. Funny Women described her as “Everything an Edinburgh Fringe show should be, brave, silly, a little bit unhinged and very, very funny.” The British solo character comedian, actress, writer and improviser has moved extensively from Shakespeare’s Globe to the BBC’s Basil Brush. She was nominated for Best Actress at the 2014 British Independent Film Festival for her role in DESIRE.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Chortle’s ‘comic genius’ after her one-night stand-up last week at London’s Museum of Comedy in the bowels of St George’s Church in Bloomsbury, where she signed this montage sketch for me.
British actor Derek Fowlds has graced our television screens for over half a century. During his National Service stint in Malta, he was a member the RAF theatre group and followed one of his sergeants to RADA, where he trained as a professional actor. After a number of West End plays including THE MIRACLE WORKER, Derek landed his first TV role, replacing Rodney Bewes as the presenter in THE BASIL BRUSH SHOW.
Upstaged by a stuffed fox, ‘Mr Derek’ intended to stay for one series, but remained for eight, charmed by the Basil character. This was followed by the first of his famed small screen alter egos, Bernard Woolley, the pedantic private secretary in the massively popular series YES MINISTER and YES PRIME MINISTER alongside Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne. In 1992 he created his longest running role, the pig-headed and cranky former copper-turned local public Oscar Blaketon in the police nostalgia drama HEATBEAT. In an interview Derek said he always wanted to play Oscar as a transvestite, but the producers of the family show didn’t think that was appropriate. “He had a theatrical mother, hence the name Oscar. I always thought he would become Olivia in the weekends.”
Late last year the 79 year-old Derek published his autobiography ‘A Part Worth Playing’ and as part of it’s promotion he appeared at the Museum of Comedy last month in an evening entitled ‘Yes Prime Minister and Me’ in conversation with journalist Sam Westerby about his long career. Derek’s six-year old grandson Marlon said to him,
“When I’m a man, you’ll be dead, won’t you?” Derek laughed, “Well, it’s possible, but you’ll have a book to read about me.”
Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the event, but I drew this sketch of Derek and called past the Museum of Comedy earlier on the day to leave it there for him to hopefully sign.
The Museum of Comedy is situated in the basement vault, known as the ‘undercroft’ of St George’s Church in London’s Bloomsbury. It was not open at the time I arrived, so I slipped my envelope under the door and hoped for the best and some divine intervention. It worked. Derek not only signed and dedicated my rendering, he also sent me an appreciative note.
The Rugby World Cup has just started in the UK and my team, the New Zealand All Blacks are the defending champions. They wear the famous silver fern. So what better way to start the week than with a Fern. In this case it’s the enchanting Scottish comedian Fern Brady. A tenous connection I know, but writers have to look for interesting ‘hooks’ in our intros. In fact Fern is a writer. She is a columnist in The Guardian and used to be a comedy reviewer. It was in this capacity that she switched sides when asked by her magazine to ‘fake it’ and write an article from the stand-up point of view. She liked it on stage, and everyone liked her on stage,so she stayed. The second most famous person to come out of West Lothian since Susan Boyle, Fern has appeared on the telly in numerous shows, including 8 Out Of 10 Cats. She finished joint third in the finals of So You Think You’re Funny? at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe and was a finalist in the Piccadilly Comedy Club’s New Act Competition the following year. Fresh from a sell-out season at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, Fern returned to London with her show for two nights at the Museum of Comedy. This quaint, 100-seat performance space is situated in the vaults of St George’s Church in Bloomsbury Way, where I waited to have this drawing signed. With the title of her act, People Are Idiots, and described in ThreeWeeks as “Obnoxious, rude and utterly brilliant,’ who teaches you that the only way to true happiness is to lower your expectations, it was with some trepidation that I waited. When I greeted her underground with the request an expletive or two escaped from her lips….but this was, I think more a astonishment for the artwork and “I thought you were the guy organising the gig” she explained as she signed it and took a photo. Undoubtedly the experience confirmed the title of her show.