Category Archives: Humour

Omid Djalili interview in The Independent

Below is a link to an interview with Omid Djalili , star of 9th April comedy release “The Infidel” in which he plays a Muslim who discovers he is a Jew by birth.

Omid Djalili is contemplating taking his clothes off. Well, not right now, as we’re sitting in a busy restaurant near his house in leafy East Sheen and that would be extreme behaviour, even by his standards. No, he’s talking about…” [read on:  Omid Djalili: ‘I’m cast as the Arab scumbag’ – Features, Films – The Independent.]


Omid Djalili, who had his own two-series comedy show on BBC1, can currently be seen on British television fronting adverts for moneysupermarket.com, which are reported to have brought the company great success.

Omid Djalili is also among a big line-up of comedians appearing at Channel 4’s Comedy Gala at the O2 in London on March 30th in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

How it is heard on YouTube

YouTube have publicly launched a captioning service that was previously only available on educational channels.

The service uses voice recognition to work out what is being said and to place captions at the bottom of the screen. Currently the service is only available in English and the quality of the captions depends on the quality of the audio track but even with high quality audio, beyond getting an idea of what a video may be about, the number of mistakes means that the service probably has more entertainment value than transcription value at the moment.

Captions of YouTube

Uploaders have the option of correcting the captions, which may be used in the future to enhance YouTube’s search capabilities.

Captioning is not yet available on all old videos, where it is available it can be accessed either via a “cc” icon or an upward pointing triangle on the video player tool bar.  Automated captioning in other languages should follow in the near future.

Contents may be hot!

Last Tuesday morning I awoke to the sensation of slightly itchy legs, itching in an almost tingling and non-stop fashion. I kicked my hot water bottle from between my legs and tried to get a few minutes of extra sleep before getting up and facing the cold air that awaited me on the other side of my duvet. This was the second night I had used a hot water bottle this year, the previous night I had filled it from the hot tap and it had still been warm in the morning, on this occasion I had part-filled it from the kettle and it had retained a good amount of warmth in the four hours I had been asleep. My attempt to fall asleep again was being hindered by the tingling in my legs and so I decided to get up, I kicked the duvet in much the same direction as I had kicked the blue hot water bottle a few moments earlier and threw my tingling legs over the edge of the bed. My legs in full view, I could now see the cause of the tingling, a large area of each leg had been scalded by the hot water bottle. I would have been shocked that I had failed to wake up as my legs cooked but for the fact that this had happened to me once before. On the previous occasion I had awoken in my flat in Harrow with my pyjama top stuck to my chest, when the scalding calmed down I was left with a small heart shaped scar on my chest for about a year, a fact that I found amusingly appropriate because I had recently had some very severe chest pains which had been diagnosed as pericarditis, which is a scarring of the lining of the heart.

On this occasion the burning wasn’t quite so severe, I had nothing stuck to my skin, just three large areas of redness and blisters, I poured cold water over them for a while, but nowhere near as long as I should have done (which I wasn’t aware is about 15 minutes), partly because the cold water was freezing my feet. On advise of the Boots family health guide I then applied some large Melonin dressings, with bandages, to each leg to help keep the wounds covered and clean. I have been most impressed with how, just keeping the burns covered over, they healed without itching very much. There are still a couple of irritating marks and blisters left but for the most part the legs are looking normal again. I have Ladan to thank for the health guide and first aid kit that got me on the right path so quickly.

I haven’t used the hot water bottle again since then yet, but with the cold weather we’ve been having up in Newcastle over night, I will have to place my trust in it again soon… without, I am sure, any assistance from the kettle.

The Omid Djalili Show

BBC – Comedy – The Omid Djalili Show
BBC ONE, 9:30pm, Saturday 17th November

The Omid Djalili show starts a six week run on the BBC tonight, having survived the criticism that it may make light of serious subjects such as terrorism with, for example, a sketch called Suicide Bomber School. I am personally a firm believer that comedy can subtly eat away extremist and erroneous views by magnifying them beyond the point at which we identify those views as being our own, but there is always a line below which such comedy will be seen as tasteless and that line is not easily defined. The BBC may, therefore, appear brave to give Omid a Saturday night slot on their flagship channel, but Omid has been staying on the right side of that line in his stand-up routines since he started touching on such material, following the 9/11 bombings, in 2001.

Omid is a serious actor as well as a stand up comedian, his own web site includes a show reel of some of his more serious roles. Perhaps Omid would rather be known as an actor than a comedian but he has always had a natural ability to entertain, my earliest memories of him are from a Baha’i youth conference in London in the mid 1980’s where he performed some sketches with the help of Inder Manocha, now also doing stand-up routines. My brother and I did some break dancing at the same event.

That conference was before Omid took on stand-up comedy professionally and so his material has matured a lot since then, but as a long standing fan and admirer of Omid’s talent and radiant joyousness, I am very familiar with most of Omid’s stand-up routine, some of which is to be repeated yet again for this tv series. Hopefully a prime time BBC ONE airing for this material will be a last stand for some of the older routines and more newer jokes will be developed. The old jokes are still funny to watch, but I don’t need to see them performed because I have seen them so many times that they are imprinted in my mind. That said, I do have a desire to see his “Indian bingo caller” resurface, though I doubt that will make it into this show.

The Omid Djalili show starts tonight at 9:30 on BBC ONE and runs for six weeks.

Extrapolate and Laugh

Lately a few things have happened to me which I felt would be well placed in a comedy, with just slight alterations to the course of events. A couple of weeks ago I went to pour tomato ketchup along side some chips on my plate, noticed it was a little runny, casually closed the lid and shook the bottle, only to have the lid fly open and the ketchup follow it out of the bottle and onto the walls, appliances and furniture in the kitchen. I am sure this has happened to most of us, but I seem to be having a season for these things.

I am not very good at having fresh fruit in the house, I either eat it all on the day of purchase or leave it to rot in the bowl. Somebody told me about Sainsburys new range of frozen fruit, conveniently frozen fresh fruit, cut to edible chunks where appropriate. I keep some in my freezer and eat it when I feel like having something fruity. Recently I decided to get frozen blueberries for the first time, having enjoyed many blueberry flavoured foods through the years. They were a little blander in taste than I had expected but still refreshing. The fruit was all I had eaten that afternoon and I was about to leave the flat when I wondered if I should brush my teeth, I remembered that I was out of tooth-paste and headed for the front door, I had a sudden change of mind and decided I could squeeze something out of the tube if I tried, so I went to the bathroom and beheld my mouth in the mirror, a bright glowing hue of blue. How embarrassing it would have been had I walked out of that door without cleaning my teeth and mouth!

As most readers know my wife is in a nursing home and from time to time we have a doctor or a consultant come to see her for something. A few weeks ago we were expecting a consultant and I was washing some jugs in the sink having just given Ladan a fruit drink. All the sinks in the care home are low so that wheelchair users can reach them easily, which also means that any splashes are aligned on the trousers to appear that an accident has been had, especially when your trousers are a light beige colour, as mine were that afternoon. How ironic it would be, I thought, if the consultant would arrive just after I have managed to splash water onto my trousers, I quickly grabbed a hair dryer to start drying them off when there was a knock at the door and the consultant walked in with a nurse. Ladan was up in a chair near the bathroom and the chair has wheels so I quickly positioned myself behind the chair and moved Ladan with me, in her chair, as I moved around the room to keep my trousers hidden. After a short while I was asked to get something that was on the other side of the room, I kept my body turned away from the guests as I walked to the drawers, then quickly moved into a new position concealed behind Ladan’s bed when nobody was watching and handed over the item. Several minutes later the water had dried enough that it was no longer visible and I noticed this. I looked down several times, trying to be subtle, to check I was right about this before proudly coming out from behind the bed to let my dry trousers be seen again.

Last year I was given a very nice pair of shoes by a relative and recently they started deteriorating. A few months ago the front of the sole had come loose from the rest of the shoe and I fixed it with super-glue. Many years ago I went to have shoes fixed under similar circumstances by a shoe repair specialist and he did exactly the same thing for four times the money, so since then I have resolved just to do it myself when required. More recently the same thing happened with one of my shoes shortly before I had to attend an interview. It would be embarrassing to attend an interview with shoes that were falling apart but I used super-glue before heading out and was optimistic that they would stay together, there was no time to get a replacement pair of shoes, even though I had now accepted that my sentimental attachment to this pair of shoes was no longer justified. I went to the interview, there were two people conducting the interview and I was behind a desk, there were some other people sat waiting further down the room, too far away to hear us but close enough to see. As the interview neared its conclusion I went to bring my feet forward and failed. My foot would not move. I used a greater force and my foot still remained fastened to the floor, not only was the sole glued firmly to my shoe, it was now fixed firmly to the floor too. I tried to look completely focused on the interview while I used more and more force to try and kick my foot free from the floor, eventually my foot flew forward and the people sat in the distance were sending some very strange looks in my direction. The interviewers seemed not to have noticed anything. I got some new shoes pretty quickly after that, I couldn’t help imaging the scenario of a boy trying to impress a girl on a first date and, after a lot of kicking around under the table, walking out of a restaurant with a carpet tile stuck to his shoe.

Being Fooled by the Signs

Over the weekend I made a brief trip to the South East corner of the country to meet my Mum at Heathrow airport and bring a car load of our belongings back with me. I set off from Ladan’s room at just after 6am and enjoyed the wide empty roads before me as the crisp light of dawn arose around me.

When I was about a third of the way down the country a sign above the almost deserted motorway informed me that there was a queue ahead and that I should slow down to 40mph. Sceptically, I started slowing down only to find that the next overhead sign, just around a bend from the first, said “End” meaning that I had passed the congestion.

I wondered, for a moment, what had prompted the sign to flash such an unlikely warning at me, before forgetting about it and pondering more interesting and important facts such as when and where I would get my breakfast. However, it was not to be the only overhead sign to flash nonsense warnings at me during my 14 hours of driving that weekend, I was warned numerous times of imminent danger by overhead signs on the A1(M), the M1 and the M25 and on every single occasion the warning was false.

Motorway Warning Sign

There were a couple of occasions on the M25 where it is possible the traffic conditions had been different a few minutes earlier, but for the most part the warning signs were not just wrong they were verging on the impossible. The last instance of this that I experienced was on my way back where a sign warned of congestion ahead and suggested I slow down to 50mph, doubtful I ignored it and decided that I would only take notice if the next sign repeated the warning and recommended a drop to 40mph… actually the next sign did repeat the warning and suggested 30mph. The road was flowing so well that with all my experience of false signs I merely ensured I wasn’t above the speed limit, then the next sign was blank. Either it wasn’t playing along with the previous signs or it knew that nobody was taking any notice and took a “What’s the point?” attitude to giving any kind of warning. Of course, there were no delays and the next sign said “End”.

I am reminded of the parable of the boy who cried wolf. During my journey I saw a few accidents and delays on the opposite carriageway. One man I saw sent a cloud of smoke across the road as he burned his tyres coming to a sudden stop from over 70mph… had he seen a warning sign about queues ahead or were they only telling lies this weekend, or had he indeed seen so many false warnings that he had decided not to take any notice anymore.

I have no idea why the overhead warning signs were so outrageously wrong this weekend, but it is dangerous for them to be so. The overhead signs are a means of communicating important information to drivers but if the drivers lose their trust in the communications they are receiving then the communication becomes useless and it can no longer be used to improve safety on the road.

 

 


I had intended to get back to the old flat, pack our remaining things and give it a good tidy before collecting my Mum from Heathrow airport. I had forgotten how much stuff was still there and so I didn’t even finish the packing part, though I did pack as much as I would be able to bring back the following day. My Mum is in the country for a few weeks and should be coming up to Newcastle to visit me here soon. On Sunday morning I had the pleasure of seeing my brother Robert, his partner Anne and my nephew Finlay for the first time in over a year. It was a relatively short time before I felt the need to get back on the road but it was really great to see them all. Finlay is so very cute and cheerful.

Unfortunately I will need to make another visit to the flat to get the rest of our things from there, I had hoped this trip (my second quick visit) would be the last so that next time I go south I might just spend my time visiting friends or family rather than packing and loading. Hopefully the next trip will be the last.

Some things I haven’t done.

My name is James Herbert, I am responsible for this blog, but not for any of the following…

I am not the author of lots of horror books, some of which have been made into movies. This man is.

I have never set foot inside Yale, let alone lectured as a Professor of Art History or Visual Studies. This man has.

I have helped produce a few short videos but cannot claim to have produced lots of R.E.M. pop videos, which this man has done.

I have never been a member of the of the Clinical Engineering Association of South Africa, let alone served on it’s National Council.

I have read a lot about the human brain in recent times but I haven’t gone for a Ph.D and specialised in cognitive-behavior therapy, unlike this man.

I also did’nt work as the production manager on such big motion pictures as Die hard 2, Demolition Man and The Goonies like this man did. I am not a top college american-football defender like this man. Nor have I edited the movie version of Dirty Sanchez or help edit Troy and Die Another Day like this man.

Inder in the Edinburgh Festival

Inder UnpronounceableFor the past decade Inder Manocha, one of the longest serving members of the Regional Baha’i Council for England, has been a popular master of ceremonies at Baha’i events in the UK for his quick wit and intelligent humour. In 2001 Inder chose comedy as his career over the psycotherapy he had qualified in, and began performing regularly in comedy clubs with an act that mixed cultural observations from his indian heritage with amusing scenarios built from common experiences of life in England.

In 2004 Inder won the EMMA (Ethnic, Multicultural, Media, Award) in the category best Comedy/Comedian. Inder has been making appearances in the Edinburgh Festival since 2003 but this year he has been performing his own nightly 45 minute show, “Unpronounceable”. While anybody can perform at the Edinburgh Festival fringe it is still a prestigious venue for comedians because it is so well attended by the public and every show is likely to receive several reviews in the press, there are also awards for the best shows and the best newcomers.

Among Inder’s Edinburgh reviews Hairline says that “Not only is he very funny but his subject matter really makes you think” and Three Weeks describes Inder as “tackling racism with the contempt it deserves, and conjuring up a belly of laughs with his sharp-shooting cultural observations.”

The Scotsman printed an interview with Inder Manocha and another commedian called DJ Danny on 5th August.

Some of the less enthusiastic comments I have read on Inder’s “Unpronounceable” show have been based on the expectation of something greater from past performances. Overall the reviews have placed Inder on about 3 stars out of 5, I have not seen the Edinburgh show but I have seen Inder perform on many earlier occasions and he has been hilarious, not just to me but evidently to the entirity of the audiences where I have seen him.

Inder is performing at the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh until 28th August.

Summer Reaches Newcastle

As the temperature crept close to 20 dregrees centigrade a few weeks ago most northerners could be found taking in the sun in their T-shirts and complaining that it was too hot for work. Coming from the south-east corner of England I was still wearing my (almost trademark) pullover and jacket as the temperature hit the early twenties and the sun shone on these well-watered lands.

Shortly thereafter the residents of Newcastle upon Tyne were found lacking in vocabulary to describe true warm weather, reaching as high as 28 degrees centigrade, feeling especially hot when, for a few days, the breeze from the north sea seemed to die down. I duly removed my jacket and declared that even I found the weather to be summer-like.

Alas those two warm weeks are now ended and the rain has returned. Still, it was enough for me to stop missing the sun for a while. When you watch the weather forecasts and see the “maximum temperature” in the shade, you don’t appreciate that in addition to the north being several degrees cooler all the time it is also the case that in the south-east the shade keeps you from feeling the full warmth of the sun and so it feels hotter than the forecasted temperature when you are out, whereas in Newcastle the shade often shelters you from the winds coming in off the north sea’s shore, and it can feel cooler than the forecasted temperature when you are out of the shade.

So, it seems that these tough-as-titanium northerners have had their one true weakness revealed, they cannot stand the heat. But try coming up to Newcastle in the winter and dressing down like they do in the city, virtually naked in the cold and the rain, no south-easterner could possibly survive it. So, if global warming eventually triggers another ice-age then it will be the northerners who will survive most easily.