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Counter Culture Interview with Radu Isac

raduisac

Radu Isak: “cynical and tricksy”?

You’ve been described as “simultaneously sweet and dark” and “cynical and tricksy”. Our own review of your show described your comedy as “dark and edgy”. Do you think these are fair descriptions?

I like them. I think they describe my personality and if I managed to get that across in my comedy that makes me happy.

Some of your jokes might be deemed offensive to some. You discuss some potentially sensitive issues like depression. Do you worry about causing offence? How do you deal with the possibility that some might be offended? Do you think there is a right not to be offended?

I don’t really believe there is a right not to be offended. I do think about offending people though. If a joke gets one person upset in a live show that ruins the flow of the gig. Doesn’t matter if the person is right to be upset or not. My work that evening is still ruined. I listen to what offended people have to say. It’s always constructive. I can either edit the joke to include their viewpoint. Or add another layer to the joke to contradict it.

In Good Excuses for Sociopaths, you talk about keeping the audience liking you. Is it working and how do you do it?

I am mostly joking when I say that I want everyone to like me. Of course, a lot of people don’t and won’t like me. I’m happy with that. Wanting everyone to like you seems like a very constrictive way of life. 
But generally, I think if people are laughing they are liking me. Most of them came to the comedy show to laugh.

Do you feel that comedy, in general, has any social responsibilities to avoid topics or deal with them in a certain way?

I honestly like all types of comedy. From musical to prop and even magic sometimes. If it brings a smile to someone’s face I’m happy it exists. The only type of comedy I don’t like is the preaching to the choir and learning genres. I think those comedians should get into politics, teaching or motivational speaking and stop hijacking comedy. Comedy has a responsibility to itself to never become another disciplines bitch. If the teacher does a joke in a chemistry course, it’s still a chemistry course. I wouldn’t want the Professor to start teaching chemistry in comedy clubs under the pretext that they’re doing comedy.

You’ve worked in different countries. Have you noticed differences in the way audiences from different nations react to your comedy?

I have noticed big differences between cities in the UK and even the boroughs of London. I don’t think the differences between countries are bigger than that. Generally, in my experience, wealth, education, class and sobriety are the big important parameters of differentiating audiences.

You draw on your Romanian background to highlight some differences between Romania in the past and what used to be referred to as “the West”. Clearly, we know a little about the bad side of Romania in the past but were there any areas which were better than what you’ve seen in the UK?

Well, we always did better at gymnastics than the UK. And I’m sure there are a couple of other areas where we always surpassed you. But in my show, I was mostly addressing the differences between communist Romania and capitalist Romania. I like to highlight the negative parts of our transition to capitalism. As I feel “The West” only ever talks about the positive ones.

The reaction of the audience at Good Excuses for Sociopaths I attended was very good and people were talking about it on the way out after and in the bar area. What kind of feedback have you been getting for your show?

I’m very happy to hear that. One of the main reasons for doing controversial material is to get people talking about me. I’ve mostly been getting positive reactions as well. Writing the jokes was the tough part. I had to try out suicide and genocide material sneakily in London. People still react well to edgy jokes in 2019. But no one reacts well to edgy work in progress jokes. You get branded as a risky booking way faster and more permanently than with other jokes that fall flat.

Have you seen any Fringe shows yourself? Are there any you really enjoyed?

I haven’t seen enough. I really enjoyed all that I’ve seen. Leo Kearse, Rich Wilson, Luca Cupani, Tony Law, Phil Nicol, Tania Edwards, John Kearns, Olie Horn, Darius Davies.

What next after the Fringe?

Back to the grind, I guess. I have a lot of shows booked around the UK and Europe. Will use them to write and hone new material. And hopefully, be back with a new offensive but fair and considerate hour next year.

Radu was interviewed by Pat Harrington

Radu Isac is currently giving ‘Good Excuses for Sociopaths’ at the fringe. Tickets can be purchased here.

The Counter Culture review is here.

#edinburghfringe2019 #edinburghfringe

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Radu Isac: Good Excuses for Sociopaths

raduisac

Radu Isac: dark and edgy comedy

Comedy (satire, stand-up)
Venue
27
Just the Tonic at The Grassmarket Centre – Just The Meeting Room
20:30
Aug 16-25
1 hour
Suitability: 16+ (Guideline)

If you like your comedy dark and edgy then this is the show for you. If you are in need of a ‘safe space’ then probably not! Radu Isac isn’t afraid to push boundaries and buttons. Yet as he explains he wants to keep the audience onside and still like him. He says that he got into comedy because he realised he could say things that might offend but still keep friends if he said he was joking!

I found it refreshing that at a time when comedy is coming under pressure to conform Radu talked about difficult subjects like depression, suicide, and male sexual desire. He did this in a way that revealed some truths through the humour. He is a very skilled comedian with a dry wit.

The audience loved it and I think you will too.

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

You can buy a ticket here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/…/radu-isac-good-excuses-for-s…

#edfringe #edfringe2019 #edinburghfringe2019

 

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The Crown Dual

crowndualpicGilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Big Yin
16:20
Aug 1-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-26
1 hour 10 minutes
Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)
Country: United Kingdom – England
Group: By Daniel Clarkson, Director Owen Lewis, Presented by James Seabright

Rosie Holt and Brendan Murphy play the Queen and Prince Philip in this sharp parody of the hit Netflix series The Crown. Not just these two central characters but many more – including a Penguin! When other characters were needed members of the audience were recruited/pressganged. Some of the audience when I attended were themselves very funny and up to adlibbing.

Without being preachy or heavy there was a subversive undercurrent to the show which I enjoyed.

The Crown Dual had me laughing a lot. It is incredibly well-written with many different forms of humour woven into it including visual. If you just feel like having fun this a great show to see.

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington

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17 Million Fuck Offs

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17 Million Fuck Offs.  Written and performed by Dominic Frisby.  Music composed and played by Martin Wheatley (based on a traditional Devon folk song).  Video directed by Anon.   Audio mixed and recorded by Wayne McIntyre.  Assistant Director Mark “Yeti” Cribbs.  Available from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/17-Million-Fuck-Offs-Explicit/dp/B07PKY39CK/ref=sr_1_3_twi_mus_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1552953132&sr=8-3&keywords=dominic+frisby

INDIVIDUAL TRACK reviews for Counter Culture are like busses – you wait ages for them to arrive and then two come along at once!

Eagle-eyed readers may recall that – towards the end of last month – I reviewed a track called The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right!  You can read the review here https://countercultureuk.com/2019/04/25/the-dirty-fucking-hippies-were-right/ and listen to the track here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKEZoY-TMG4 At the time (and to the best of my knowledge) I’d never reviewed an individual music track before.  Little did I know that I’d be at it again so quickly.

As with last months track, I can’t recall where (or when) I first became aware of 17 Million Fuck Offs but I somehow came across it on YouTube.  You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiUFPjulTW8

Remarkably, there are several similarities and differences between The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right! and 17 Million Fuck Offs.  For instance, both deal with important subject matters.  The first was a track about an entire counter cultural movement – the Hippies – which had its origins in the 60s.  The second track is about a specific event, the EU referendum of 23rd June 2016.

Mystery surrounds those who wrote and performed The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right! although it’s been attributed to George Carlin (1937 – 2008) the American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and social critic.  However, there’s no mystery about 17 Million Fuck Offs which is the work of Dominic Frisby.  According to his web-site – https://dominicfrisby.com/ – Frisby is a libertarian and a ‘writer-performer’.  However, this brief description is very modest indeed, for he combines straight stand-up and character comedy with writing books about the economy as well as acting, presenting, voiceovers and public speaking.

So much for the differences between the two singles.  The one obvious similarity is the use of the Anglo-Saxon word, ‘Fuck’, in both titles.  Whilst it’s still considered a reasonably offensive swear word, many people seem to use it – maybe even unconsciously – in everyday speech.  To this extent, the word has become somewhat ‘normalised’.  However, I believe that it’s used on both tracks for description and emphasis.  The hippies were way, way before my time, and I’m far from an expert on them, but I believe that they were sometimes described as ‘dirty fucking hippies’.  That would explain its use on the first track.  On 17 Million Fuck Offs it’s used to great comedic effect – especially as it appears like a bolt out of the blue.  Based on a traditional Devon folk song, Frisby sets the scene at the start of the track and sings in a very authoritative manner:

‘On the 23rd of June, 2016
The people of the United Kingdom – and Gibraltar – went to vote
On an issue that for some had been burning for years
The question in full – and unaltered – was – I quote

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union
or leave the European Union?

It was the greatest democratic turnout in British history, I do not scoff
And when the time came to speak the British said fuck off.
Fuck off.’

I’ve shown the YouTube video to a few people and they’ve always reacted with a great big belly laugh when they first hear the words ‘fuck off’.  Have a listen to it yourself and you’ll know what I mean.

Dominic Frisby spends most of his time on the track ridiculing the warnings that the establishment made in the run up to the EU referendum.  Known as ‘Project Fear’ the electorate were warned, if they voted for Brexit, that ‘you’ll lose your job’, ‘you’ll lose yourhome’ and that there would be all manner of food shortages, no medicines, grounded planes and the stock market would collapse. However, most terrifying of all, there’d be ‘an outbreak of super gonorrhea. They seriously said that’. 

He also calls out various members of the establishment who promoted ‘Project Fear’.  They include politicians like David Cameron, Theresa May, George Osborne and Tony Blair – who, in my honest opinion, should be doing serious bird for war crimes – right the way through to ‘celebrities’ like Gary Lineker, JK Rowling and the deliberately (yet delightfully) misnamed Benedict Cumbertwat.  At the end of the list comes Labour’s Lord Adonis.  Frisby proves that he’s truly a great iconoclast when he asks the question on everyone’s lips:‘Who the fuck’s he anyway?’

Listening to the track, it struck me that this was the first time I’d heard a pro-Brexit comedy song.  Indeed, 17 Million Fuck Offs was only song in support of Brexit that I’d come across, no matter what genre it hailed from.

This is odd – to say the very least!  Brexit should’ve provided plenty of material for various mainstream artists & comedians to work with.  For instance, for three years now we’ve been in the ridiculous position of having those MPs who ‘represent’ their constituents in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ trying to overturn the democratic will of those very same constituents.  It’s absolute comedy gold!  So where are all of the mainstream artists and comedians – shouldn’t they be calling out these MPs on their failure to carry out the express will of the people?  After all, we live in a democracy, don’t we?

Despite the reluctance of many ‘household names’ to point out the obvious – that representative democracy is no longer representative or democratic – Dominic Frisby has managed to do so using both gentle humour and biting satire.  This makes 17 Million Fuck Offsvery important as it reminds us why the electorate voted for Brexit and why the public is so frustrated with the current political stalemate.  To do so using music must be a nightmare for Remainers – that’s because music is universal and can cross so many barriers.  Indeed, music has the ability to touch everyone, no matter who they are.

Have a listen to both the original track – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiUFPjulTW8– or the Ramona Ricketts Mix –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD-Sz8S7bA0– which has a slight Irish lilt to it.  And don’t forget to let Counter Culture know what you think of  Dominic Frisby’s highly original work – both in terms of musical comedy and the message it conveys.

Reviewed by John Field.

• LOOK OUT for Dominic Frisby’s Libertarian Love Songs later this year at the Edinburgh Fringe.

 

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IRONY?

IronyPQA Venue 3, Riddle’s Court  8:00pm

3-27 August, 2018

Davy Mitchell supported by John O’Hare

The inventor of the Segway fell off a cliff while riding on a Segway. Oh the irony. That’s the theme running through Davy Mitchell’s stand-up comedy routine with some support from Galway man John O’Hare.

There were only three people in the audience the night I attended; a young man from Sheffield, a young woman from Switzerland and me – an older man from Belfast. Such a poor turnout on one particular night might have discouraged some performers but Davy and John took the opportunity to engage more fully with their audience.

All humour is relative; some jokes made me cringe, others made me laugh out loud. This pair picked up cues from their audience, improvised accordingly and gave an entertaining performance; despite noise pollution leaking in from a musical production next door.

Reviewed by David Kerr

Gold star

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The Death of Stalin (2017)

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Click on image to buy film

Directed by Armando Iannucci

Certificate: 15

Runtime: 106 minutes

These days we often hear of people being dismissed, denounced or criticised as ‘Stalinist’. This has become a term of abuse in the same manner as ‘fascist’ or ‘racist’; a useful cudgel with which the unscrupulous individual can use to beat political opponents about the head.

Armando Iannucci’s new black comedy, The Death of Stalin, offers an insight into the paralysing fear felt by everyone who lived in the Soviet Union under the rule of Josef Stalin and his brutal, sadistic henchman; NKVD spymaster Lavrenti Beria, chillingly played by Simon Russell Beale.

The best example of this gnawing fear is shown by Paddy Considine’s panic stricken Radio Moscow producer who tries to get a recording of a classical concert to Stalin after receiving a phone call from him ‘requesting’ a copy. The problem was that the concert was broadcast live; not recorded.

Stalin, (Adrian McLoughlin) is a vulgar peasant with a penchant for practical jokes and bad cowboy movies. All the other members of the politburo go along with his every whim for fear of ending up on one of Beria’s lists of ‘enemies of the people’. This tension makes for some excruciatingly bleak humour that leaves the viewers on the edge of their seats.

Great characterisations from Steve Buscemi as the calculating schemer, Khrushchev who struggles to stay ahead of Beria and keep himself free and alive; Jeffrey Tambor as Malenkov, the vacillating deputy to Stalin who finds himself in over his head after Stalin’s death and most notably by Jason Isaacs as the brash, no-nonsense war hero, Marshal Georgy Zhukov.

Some critics have questioned the use of humour in depicting this dark time in Russia’s history. Isn’t it in bad taste? Perhaps. Nevertheless it is a work of genius from the master of dark sardonic humour. Iannucci has triumphed again.

Reviewed by David Kerr

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Dr JOHN COOPER CLARKE

CQAF Festival Marquee, Customs House Square, Belfast. May 3rd 2016

As he gets older, the Bard of Salford looks more and more cadaverous. John Cooper Clarke’s wry observation, “As you can see, I’ve been piling on the pounds” won one of the biggest laughs of the evening. Most folk I know have never heard of him, so I wasJohn Cooper Clarke pleasantly surprised to see the venue packed almost to capacity.

The huge audience in the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Marquee had already been warmed up by another Mancunian poet, Mike Garry, who entertained them with a mixture of shrewd observational comedy and heartbreaking pathos. The most memorable item was Pay as you Go, a poem about a young girl who had been inveigled by a conniving boyfriend into ‘sexting’ him intimate pictures of herself. He then betrayed her trust by posting them on line. It was powerful stuff.

With a non-stop rapid-fire line of patter, John Cooper Clarke launched into a series of old favourites; Beasley Street and its gentrified update, Beasley Boulevard; Twat, ending with the full and unexpurgated version of Evidently Chickentown, made famous in an episode of the Sopranos (albeit in a toned down form).

Due acknowledgment was given to the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, who a couple of days earlier had tweeted his appreciation of the Tarantino movie Django Unchained, by describing himself as a ‘Ballymurphy Nigger’. This storm of universal disapproval and outrage – some of it may even have been genuine – that broke over him was still fresh in everyone’s mind. To the delight of the audience, Cooper Clarke dedicated his upbeat rendition of Some Cunt Used the N-Word in the Sinn Féin president’s honour.

Cooper Clarke is rude, irreverent, iconoclastic and at times profane. He manages to be all this and also very, very funny – even when you can see a mile off where he’s going or what he’s going to say.

The Bard of Salford is touring throughout the UK and Ireland during the month of June. If he comes to your town, go and see this show.

**** Four stars.

David Kerr

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