The inspirational Jo Cox

I never met Jo Cox. But like most people now, I wish I had.

Learning now, as so many of us, about all her work both before becoming an MP and while she was in Parliament, it’s clear that Jo was an extraordinary person whose compassionate world view ran through everything she did, and how she did it. She was loved and respected by her constituents and on both sides of the House; and she used her power and position to help those in need, whether that was in her humanitarian work for Oxfam or as an MP, helping refugees, chairing the all-party parliamentary group on Syria, and championing measures to help immigrants, women and children.

As Conor Costello of Oxfam said: “She had an amazing capacity to inspire and lead, and a soul-deep commitment to equality and justice that she acted on, every single day.”

And in her death, Jo continues to inspire.

During the May elections, I was proud to wear my very first Labour Party rosette. I wore it all day on May 5th, as I walked into work and around central London, hoping that if the bright ‘VOTE LABOUR’ in the centre of it caught even one person’s eye and made them subliminally take on board that message, like some kind of Derren Brown mind trick, then my job was done.

On the evening of June 16, I went to Parliament Square and wrote a message on the board that had been put out for people to pay their tributes to Jo. And I laid my Labour rosette alongside the flowers and candles that people had left, with a note telling Jo that she inspires me to be a better person.

Because she does.

How Jo Cox chose to live her life, what she decided to do with her precious years on the planet, inspires me to follow her lead. She inspires me to serve my community and help others. She inspires me to speak out loud about my passions and beliefs. She inspires me to reach out to people  I may not agree with – because, as she said in her maiden speech to the House of Commons, “we have far more in common than that which divides us”. And she inspires me to just get on and do it – with humour, grace and compassion.

RIP Jo. As I wrote on the board that sad, sad night: you were, are, and always will be an inspiration, to so many people. Thank you for all you gave to the world. It was a much, much better place with you in it – and is immeasurably poorer without you.

Jo’s friends and family have set up a fund in her memory, supporting three charities that were close to her heart. You can donate to it here.

Are you RH Experienced?

rh experience

The RH Experience are a delightful bunch of comedy eejits (you can use that on your next Edinburgh poster, lads) who I was lucky enough to share a radio studio with recently.

Specifically:  I was the guest on their weekly radio show/podcast Played Up – in which they improvise the contents of ‘cassettes’  that their guests bring in for everyone to listen to. And suffice it to say, the results are delightfully silly and funny.

From the game show ‘Whose Dog Are You?’ to the classic jazz standard ‘You Can’t Scat This’, you can listen to the full show below or the iTunes podcast cut-down version here.

Have I Got NewsRevue For You

newsrevue

The very first show which paid me for my very first bit of comedy writing was NewsRevue.

NewsRevue is the world’s longest-running live comedy show – #fact – and writer-performers like Rory Bremner, Alistair McGowan and Bill Bailey cut their teeth on it. It takes place every weekend at the Canal Café Theatre in London – the cast (of four) and director (of one) change every six weeks – and the show consists of comedy sketches, jokes and parody songs based around the latest news events.

As a budding comedy writer five years ago, their open door policy on submissions was exactly what I was looking for. And as a musician, the words ‘parody songs’ were, well, music to my ears.

So my very first bit of paid comedy writing was for a parody song about the US midterm elections, set to the tune of Stuck In The Middle With You. The chorus went “Clowns to the left of him/Jokers to the right/Obama/Just blew the midterms, it’s true” and you’ll have to take my word for it that it wasn’t as awfully shoehorned in as that sounds. Because it got performed in the show – and my day, nay week, nay year was made.

Since then, they’ve continued to perform sketches and songs (and the occasional joke) of mine in NewsRevue, and I’m forever indebted to them – not just because they provided me with my first break, but because they continue to provide Real Live Actual People Performing Your Stuff (AND Paying For It) for comedy writers both new and experienced. I also particularly love them because they’re one of the rare places that do perform parody songs, and those are, in some ways, my very favourite comedy things to write. I’ve written a song about the World Cup in Qatar set to the tune of Do They Know It’s Christmas? (chorus: “FIFA’s world/We’ll move it to Christmastime”), a song about Liz Kendall set to the tune of Alright by Supergrass (“She’s Blairite”) and countless other silly songs for NewsRevue, and they’re a labour of love.

So here are a few things I’ve written and had performed there over recent months. A spoof of the film Room (which I loved, by the way, and it’s a crime Jacob Tremblay didn’t get an Oscar nomination for it)…



A spoof of Adele’s ‘Hello’ (because the world needed more of those, right?)…



And a song about Obama trying to push through gun control…



If you’re ever in London, I highly recommend the show, which is always performed by ridiculously talented people (they’re usually learning scripts super-quickly AND can sing); and if you’re a comedy writer, I highly recommend submitting to them. Whether you want to see it or write for it, all the info you need is on their website.

A Bowie/Brits mash-up

If there’s one thing that gives me tingles – apart from that thing where you sit with one leg under the other and it goes dead – it’s great dancing set to great music.

So making this video with That Lot – to celebrate the Brit Awards and the music of David Bowie – was the very definition of a labour of love.

It’s a whole host of Brits winners dancing to ‘Let’s Dance’… And I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it… 🙂

 

 

Terry Wogan and The Art of Being Yourself

He was twinkly, he was funny, he was loveable… and he was also one of my earliest schoolgirl crushes (well, can you blame me?!)

But above all these things, our beloved British broadcaster Terry Wogan was, quite simply, himself.

I say ‘quite simply’ – but being truly oneself isn’t as easy as it sounds. Which is why, perhaps, people who are their genuine selves – people without ego, people like Terry Wogan – stand out.

I wrote about all this for Standard Issue. Here’s to learning to be ourselves – and here’s to dear ol’ El Tel.