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First Review

Alan’s first review of the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Three and a half stars in Adelaide Now, a good solid review suggesting a better than average show. Alan is currently three nights into a thirteen night run at the festival and appears at the Piglet at the Gluttony venue every night except Mondays at 10.30pm. This week Alan can also be seen each night at 8.15pm in Laughing Horse’s Aaaaaaargh! Best of the UK show at the Austral Hotel.

You can read the review here: Adelaide Now


Star Trek: The Moral of the Story

I was surprised to learn that it is 25 years since Star Trek was revived for television in the Next Generation series. And intrigued, as I’m not sure I’ve watched them since they were first broadcast and was interested to see how they had stood the test of time. Having just worked my way through the first series, my first impression is, they really, really haven’t. However, I shall persevere, mainly because I’m a slightly sad and obsessive person.

What I did notice is that each episode is a little self-contained morality play. Each tries to teach us something about life, about human nature, about how we can improve ourselves. Usually it does this by bludgeoning us over the head with a big dose of the bleedin’ obvious. So I decided to look deeper, and find the hidden meaning in each of the stories.

Here, for your delectation and amusement (or, more likely, total indifference) are the results. (Before reading, it might help to have a working knowledge of the episodes of Star Trek: TNG season one. On the other hand, it probably won’t).

Episode 1/2 (two part episode) – Encounter at Farpoint

At some point in our near future the world will undergo a nuclear holocaust or disaster which will turn us all into babbling medieval halfwits. Do not worry, as this will apparently not prevent us, just a couple of hundred years later, from becoming an enlightened utopian society with starships that can travel the galaxy.

Episode 3 – The Naked Now

If a doctor realises that a deadly disease is communicated by touch, it probably isn’t at all necessary to tell the people in the effected area this so that they will be careful not to touch anyone.

Episode 4 – Code of Honor

No matter how advanced a humanoid race becomes, if it develops with black skin, it will also naturally gravitate towards the wearing of African tribal clothing and dayglo pink 1970’s disco outfits.

Episode 5 – The Last Outpost

The Ferrengi are an advanced race which travels the galaxy in search of commercial opportunities. They have developed an warp speed space travel technology, transporter beams and snazzy laser whips. They have not, however, developed ritalin.

Episode 6 – Where No-one Has Gone Before

The edge of the universe is pale blue with sparkly white bits that race around in a fixed pattern. It doesn’t matter that this does not seem to follow any known law of physics. Just accept it.

Episode 7 – Lonely Among Us

When two races hate each other so much that, when confronted with a member of the opposite race the urge to maim or kill them is irresistable, the perfectly logical thing to do is to transport delegations of both races on the same spacecraft and give them full access to the corridors.

Episode 8 – Justice

If you wish to create the perfect utopian society, the best way is by killing people who ignore keep off the grass signs.

Episode 9 – The Battle

When one of the most duplicitous races in the galaxy gives you a spacecraft as a gift, all you need to do to check that it is safe is nip over there and turn the lights on.

Episode 10 – Hide and Q

Any planet that has two moons is so remarkable that you should continually comment on this fact.

Episode 11 – Haven

When a spaceship carrying a deadly plague that will wipe out the entire population is approaching a planet, rather than informing the population that you have tractor beam capability that will prevent it from reaching them, the correct course of action is just to tell them to shut up. They probably won’t panic much.

Episode 12 – The Big Goodbye

Just because someone is a computer generated hologram with no real feelings or emotions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t risk pissing off a race of thoroughly violent and bad tempered space ants in order to reassure him about the direction his life is going.

Episode 13 – Datalore

If you need to scare away a big crystalline entity that has already killed hundreds of people without compunction, the best method is to show it that you are capable of blowing up a tree.

Episode 14 – Angel One

In a female dominated society, it will naturally still be the men who wear the trousers. Even if they are floaty chiffon ones. Also, Klingons have their own sneeze.

Episode 15 – 11001001

When you only have precisely five minutes to save your ship, it is always good to spend the first 15 seconds of it having a chat, then gently stroll to where you need to get to.

Episode 16 – Too Short a Season

In the Federation, it is possible to become an Admiral and be considered a master negotiator, whist still being unable to understand that taking the whole of a years-long course of medicine in one go, probably isn’t going to work.

Episode 17 – When the Bough Breaks

Being a member of an enlightened society which has dedicated itself for millenia to art, beauty and philosophy, does not preclude you from being a bit of an asshole.

Episode 18 – Home Soil

Encountering an intelligent crystalline life form is so surprising, unexpected and unique that everyone will comment on how they never thought such a thing possible, and completely forget that they already encountered one six episodes ago.

Episode 19 – Coming of Age

Rather than choosing candidates for the Starfleet Academy based on qualifications and levels of ability, Starfleet generally considers it better to make entry the star prize in a game show format.

Episode 20 – Heart of Glory

A heavily armed Klingon running through the engineering department is wholly unremarkable. Most people will naturally step aside and let him through, then go on about their business.

Episode 21 – The Arsenal of Freedom

If you need to search an entire planet for weapons development, sending three people randomly to the middle of a forest is quite adequate.

Episode 22 – Symbiosis

Three small aging cargo spacecraft are all that are needed for one planet to supply all the material needs of a second Earth-sized planet on a permanent basis.

Episode 23 – Skin of Evil

If you really need to piss off a talking oil slick, getting Captain Picard to have a chat with it will almost certainly do the trick.

Episode 24 – We’ll Always Have Paris

It your science experiment nearly destroys the fabric of time and reality, and only fails to do so because an android that can withstand it’s effects happens to be in the right place at the right time, it is unlikely that anyone will really mind. In fact, they’ll probably be quite happy for you to go right back and start experimenting again.

Episode 25 – Conspiracy

As a fairly minor Starfleet officer, it is okay to set yourself up a huge room in the middle of Starfleet headquarters with a big throne in the middle of it. Nobody is likely to notice, or ask why you can’t just have an office with a desk like everybody else.

Episode 26 – The Neutral Zone

It is quite unremarkable for a satellite put into orbit around Earth in the late 20th Century, using the technology of that time, to be discovered countless light years away just a few hundred years later, even though that would require it to have travelled at least close to, if not beyond, the speed of light.


It’s Going to be Wizard in Oz

Alan has announced the dates he will be performing in Australia early next year. He will be performing his Edinburgh Fringe show, Careful What You Wish For, first at the Perth Fringe World festival in early February, and then at the Adelaide Fringe later that month. The details are as follows:

Perth Fringe World

Alan will be performing at the Leederville Hotel at 742 Newcastle Street in the heart of Perth’s bustling Leederville district, regarded as a centre of nightlife in the city. He will be performing the show for five nights on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th of February at 8.45pm. Tickets will cost A$16.

Adelaide Fringe

Alan will be performing at The Piglet performing space within the Gluttony venue in Rymill Park. This is close to the bustling Rundle Street, considered the heart of the Adelaide Fringe. The show will be performed from Feb 15th through to March 1st, every evening except Mondays at 10.30pm. Tickets range in price from A$5 (first night promotional deal) through to A$18.

This will be Alan’s first time performing in Australia, and the first time Careful What You Wish For has been performed outside the UK. He is in talks to have other performing opportunities while in the country, and more details will be posted soon.


Alan in the Black Chair

Alan has filmed an episode in the forthcoming 2012/13 season of the UK’s most prestigious quiz programme, Mastermind.

The show was filmed at the BBC Media City in Salford on July 24th, and Alan’s specialist subject was mountaineering on Everest. This was chosen as he is a keen mountaineer with a lifelong fascination for the mountain and has climbed in the region on a number of occasions.

Adhering to the rules, Alan will not be informing anybody of whether he won or lost before the show is broadcast, but has stated that he reached “a very respectable score”. The date of broadcast has not yet been fixed, but the series begins it’s run in mid-August.

Update: The show was broadcast on 5th October. For the next seven days it is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01n1z1x/


Festivals Galore

The summer festival season is nearly upon us and you can catch Alan in a number of locations around the UK over the next couple of months.

Beginning in June, Alan will be appearing at the Download Festival comedy tent. The country’s premier Heavy Metal rock festival, Download is held annually at the Castle Donington race circuit near East Midlands airport. This year’s event runs from June 8th to 10th and features headline acts The Prodigy, Metallica and Black Sabbath. The comedy tent runs in the camp site for two days prior to the festival, to entertain those who like to arrive early and camp out, and is always popular with festival goers. Organized by Funhouse Comedy, Alan will be appearing on the Wednesday night, June 6th.

In July, Alan has been invited to perform at the Jersey Comedy Festival. Held in St Helier, the capital of the largest of the Channel Islands, Alan is one of twelve acts invited to perform at the Gala event, as well as a number of smaller events over the course of the weekend. Other acts include such well known names as Tony Law, James Dowdeswell and Kate Smurthwaite. The festival takes place over the weekend of July 13th and 14th.

Finally towards the end of the month Alan will appear in the comedy tent for the Kendal Calling festival in the picturesque Lake District. Voted the UK’s best small music festival for the last two years running, Kendal Calling runs over three days and is headlined this year by Dizzee Rascal, James and Maximo Park. Alan will appear in the comedy tent on Friday July 27th and Sunday July 29th.


A Horse, A Horse, The Kingdom For A Horse

Two days ago, with much fanfare, the Sun on Sunday launched, the latest title from the News International, its new flagship publication introduced to replace the disgraced News of the World. It is the Sunday edition, sister paper if you will, of the daily tabloid The Sun, which has, in the two days since, seen its own reputation dragged through the mud as never before.

The last two days of revelations at the Leveson enquiry have been truly shocking, uncovering a culture of corruption at the newspaper at a level previously hinted at, but never confirmed, and on an unprecedented scale. Yesterday we heard how as much as a million pounds in bribes had been paid to police sources by the newspaper, £150,000 by one journalist alone. That the police had known the scale of the phone hacking six years ago, and yet still insisted only a handful of people had been involved, how Rebekah Brooks was informed in confidence by the police.

Sue Akers, the Deputy Commissioner charged with the investigation stated that the payments were frequent, regular and significant. That the journalists involved knew what they were for and knew that they were illegal. That News Corp was an out-of-control organisation where bribery was routine and sanctioned by executives.

And then today we had the revelations of Jacqui Hames, the former Crimewatch presenter, that she and her husband were placed under surveillance at a time when her husband, a senior Scotland Yard detective, was investigating a murder case where the suspects had close contacts with the News of the World. How she believes the surveillance was an attempt by those suspects to have the couple intimidated, and how Rebekah Brooks made the “absolutely pathetic” in Ms Hames words claim that this was because she was investigating if the couple were having an affair with each other, despite that they had already been married for four years and openly in a relationship for eleven.

You find yourself staring, slack-jawed and open mouthed, as the revelations keep coming. Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who has already received £30,000 in compensation for having his own phone hacked by the organisation, has stated that it might turn out to be the worst case of corporate corruption for 250 years, that his researchers have so far counted 486 lies told to parliament by News International and that he suspects there is still a great deal more to come.

Oh, and Rebekah Brooks borrowed a horse.

Yes, you read that right. The red-headed harridan and public enemy number one Rebekah Brooks, went to the Metropolitan Police and borrowed a horse.

You probably already knew that. It’s been all over twitter and facebook. #horsegate has been one of the top trending hashtags all day. Jokes about the horse have been coming in thick and fast from every direction. No doubt in comedy clubs up and down the country this evening, the sort of comics who thrive on the topical already have been giving their horse jokes their first outings. It’s a great story that lends itself to humour. Rebekah Brooks, who we all agree looks a bit like a horse, borrowed one from the very people she is now accused of colluding with.

Now there are a few things to point out at this juncture. These are as follows.

1. Rebekah Brooks did not break the law when borrowing this horse.

2. The Metropolitan Police did not break the law in loaning her the horse.

3. There was nothing untoward in the loaning of the horse.

4. The horse was a retired police horse, it was not removed from any important duty in order to be loaned to her.

5. It is common practice for retired police horses to be loaned to horse lovers to look after.

6. Rebekah Brooks and her family know how to look after horses, and probably looked after it very well.

And yet, if you had looked on any of the social networking or political commentary sites today, you would think that the loaning of this horse was the scandal to end all scandals. That this was the most important of all the revelations heard at Leveson today.

Except, it wasn’t heard at Leveson. In fact, it’s not entirely clear how the news came out. Some vague mention that the ongoing investigation turned up this fact.

You’d almost think someone wanted this news to come out today. Today of all days.

Look, widespread corruption. Yeah, but a horse, that’s funny.

Look, millions in bribes. But “hey Rebekah, why the long face.”

Look, News International may have tried to cover up for murder. HORSE! JUST LOOK AT THE HORSE! THERE IT IS LOOK!HORSE! FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE, KEEP LOOKING AT THE HORSE!

It’s called a classic diversionary tactic. When you know bad news is coming, try to get everyone talking about something else. And the horse was a doozy, they have probably been holding it back for months just waiting for the right moment. One thing we have tended to forget in all this, is that News International are not just corrupt lying scumbags, they are also extraordinarily good at it.


Announcing the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Show

Alan will be returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012 with his third full length show, titled Careful What You Wish For.

Alan is returning to the same venue and time slot as last year, the Banshee Labyrinth, in the Cinema Room at 9.45pm each evening from Saturday August 4th until Saturday August 25th. The show deals with life’s twists and turns and how it often doesn’t go the way you planned. It deals with a life-changing incident ten years ago which transformed him from a corporate suit into the rather less straight-laced individual of today.

The show will be previewed in other venues around the country in advance of the Fringe, and hopefully toured around other festivals afterwards, including a tentative plan to take it to Australia and New Zealand in early 2013.