Comedians Getting Easter Lattes (series one)

 

S1E1:
Mathew Williams

Originally not aired on 15/04/2019

Testing… 1,2,3; testing…

And we’re back!

 

The mics are working fine; they’re switched off and safely tucked away in the cupboard, and everyone’s favourite unrecorded podcast is back off the air.

 

Now, as you’ll remember so clearly it’s practically singed onto the back of your retina and fully integrated into the deep neurological mechanisms of your brain, the last series of this podcast was all about Christmas. Although we steered clear of religion in that series, Christmas is actually short for Jesus Christmas, and it celebrates the birth of a little baby called Jesus, named after God’s favourite Man City player Gabriel Jesus.

 

As you’d expect, Jesus was little baby back when he was born. A helpless baby who hadn’t even done his GCSEs yet. Raised by his mother Mary – who, incidentally, fought tooth and nail with God to call the baby Fernandinho instead – Jesus grew up, got his GCSEs (failed science) and became one of most important and controversial figures in western civilisation.

 

Like a lot of people in that day and age, Jesus died in his 30s. However, instead of dying from violent diarrhoea brought on by drinking dirty water like most people (not a funny way to die, don’t laugh… hehehehe), Jesus died for our sins on the cross. Also, he had a known history of stealing Mars bars from his local off-license, a crime at that time punishable by death.

 

This week is Easter week, or Holy Week as it’s actually called, a week where we mourn the death and celebrate the life of Jesus. A saviour to many, but a shitmunching shoplifting charlatan to others, this week, in, “Comedians Outside Edinburgh Getting Easter Hot Chocs” we aim to answer the question “Was Jesus a wrong’un?” once and for all.

 

The first guest to discuss all this and more with me is MATHEW WILLIAMS. Now, a lot of the time I write my guests’ names in uppercase for emphasis, but somewhat bizarrely, this is MATHEW’s actual name.

 

“Mum filled out the birth certificate in block capitals,” he explained. “She was a very shouty woman.”

 

His mother’s shoutiness persisted through his childhood. This had obvious negative effects, and when he was of a sufficient age, MATHEW turned to stand-up comedy to fix his mental trauma. Although comedy hasn’t quite given him the love he’s searching for, being on stage has helped him find the peace and quiet his childhood lacked. A lot of people think that comedy is about laughter, but actually people who study the form will tell you that it’s the gaps between the laughs that are most crucial, how you hold the silences. MATHEW is a master in keeping calm during these gaps.

 

“MATHEW, I once saw you perform a whole ten-minute set without getting any laughs whatsoever, and you just took it completely in your stride. Very impressive.”

 

“Thank you, Eric.”

 

Despite having one of the smallest laughs per minute ratios on the circuit, MATHEW’s unique brand of comedy still has a lot to offer. For example, his set is very moving, but instead of moving audiences to tears, he moves them to the nearest exit, where they’ll search for someone to give them a refund while angrily exclaiming, “what the fuck is this shite?”

 

After finding out a bit about MATHEW’s comedy background, I turned the conversation to religion.

 

“MATHEW, the death of Jesus got rid of our sins and also brought us hot cross buns, why do you think so many people slag him off still?”

 

“Well, to put it bluntly, Eric, it’s feminism gone too far. You see, nowadays, if a man is successful it’s seen as…”

 

What followed was a 20-minute rant about the #MeToo movement.

 

“You have a lot of anger and resentment inside of you, don’t you MATT?”

 

“Yes, Eric. Yes I do.”

 

Interesting stuff.

Tune in tomorrow!

 

S1E2:
Mary Flanigan

Originally not aired on 18/04/2019

“Where is he then? Go on, if he’s really real, show me where he is. Where’s he hiding!? I know you’ve got him tucked away somewhere, Mary.”

Looking back, it was perhaps an overly aggressive way to start my conversation with today’s guest on “Comedians Outside Edinburgh Getting Easter Hot Chocs”, Mary Flanigan. We hadn’t even sat down yet, and like a jealous husband who’s just walked home to his wife making funny noises in the bedroom, I was tearing the place apart.

 

“Calm down, Eric. Jesus isn’t here,” Mary assured me.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Anyway, I thought this interview was gonna be about comedy. Can you at least set them up with my backstory before we get into all of this?”

 

“Sure.”

Born and raised in a little-known place called Belfast, Mary is what’s known in the comedy industry as “Irish”. Hugely likeable and fiercely original, these are just two examples of phrases that Mary pronounces incorrectly in her stupid Irish accent. Having become fed up of all the sectarian violence and also the silly dancing they do, Mary moved from Belfast a few months ago to pursue her passion of stand up in Birmingham, the place where comedy was originally invented in the 1950s and 1960s, when Bob Hope and Joan Rivers first started to dominate the Midlands scene. It was the Brummie Henny Youngman who really took things to the next level with his famous “take my wife” joke. “No, seriously, take her, bab,” so the punchline goes.

 

“From Don Rickles to Jim Carey, Birmingham has such a rich history when it comes to stand-up comedy, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she explained.

 

On this level, we connected. I myself moved to Birmingham for the same reason. Having watched some videos from the 70s of Richard Pryor performing at The Hollybush in Cradley Heath, I decided to finally up sticks and head on a pilgrimage towards comedy’s Mecca. But on another, arguably more important level, Mary and I didn’t connect at all. I’m talking about faith. And I don’t mean a faith in Birmingham as the spiritual home of comedy that insensitively trivialises the fifth pillar of Islam. On this we’re agreed. I’m talking about a faith in Jesus.

 

As her name suggests, Mary is a Catholic. But far from being the virgin mother of Jesus, the only thing Mary has ever raised is a lot of eyebrows at her choice to pursue a career in the arts, like a lot of other virgins on the comedy circuit. But the thing that’s positively BEFUDDLING about Mary’s love of Jesus is that she keeps it to herself. I came into this interview hoping to dissect it, to question her, to engage in a lively debate. Mary’s response to this was to politely change the topic of conversation back to comedy.

 

“My faith is a private thing to me,” she told me. “It helps me, that’s all I’ve really got to say about it.”

 

Hmm.

 

There’s something kind of nice about that. Although I’m not totally or even partially convinced by the Jesus story, I envy what Mary has. I wish I had something that helped me like that. Something that I don’t need to justify to other people. In a world where we constantly have to justify every aspect of ourselves, it would be nice to be able to turn to a set of ideas that can help us muddle through, religious or otherwise.

 

The reason I was like a jealous husband at the start, is because I AM jealous. I wanted to know where she was keeping Jesus because I want a bit of that sweet sweet salvation for myself.

 

Maybe we all need what Mary has.

 

You know, guys, this series is taking me all over the place. I don’t know what to think. It’s good job I have a VERY special guest lined up for tomorrow that may be able to clear things up once and for all.

 

See you next time!

X

 
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S1E3:
Damon Conlan

Originally not aired on 16/04/2019

What’s the point?

Why am I even bothering with this shitty podcast?

Like anyone cares about what I write.

No one gives a fuck about me, and to be honest, I doubt they ever will. Because why would they?

 

I’m ugly for a start. I’m sorry it’s just true. I have spots and a receding hairline and yellow-stained teeth and it surprises me that anyone can even bare to look at me sometimes. Tinder has been shit for me. Everyone else is having sex all-day and all-night off the back of Tinder and I’m just sat at home, eating coco pops (for tea) while writing a podcast. Even the fact that this podcast is incredibly original doesn’t give me consolation. If anything, it just makes it more frustrating that I’m having such a hard time getting this thing out there. iTunes still won’t have this podcast on their platform. Neither will Spotify. Neither will Audible. No one gets me. I’m a creep. A weirdo. What the hell am I doing here?

 

Things will NEVER get better.

 

Never never never.

 

These where the thoughts whizzing around my troubled mind as I rocked up to meet today’s guest on “Comedian’s Outside Edinburgh Getting Easter Hot Chocs,” Damon Conlan.

 

Now, fans of the show will remember that Damon appeared on the Halloween version of the podcast, where I ripped the absolute piss out of him and his comedy while sipping on a pumpkin spice latte. One thing I didn’t get into on that episode, however, was Damon’s Atheism. Devoutly Christian up until the age of 1, Damon lost his faith when he first realised that an adult covering their face with their hands doesn’t actually make them disappear.

 

“It was a game-changer,” he explained. “If my parents could lie to me about something like that, what else were they keeping from me? The idea of a talking man in the sky started to seem ridiculous.”

 

Fast forward 30 years and Damon’s Atheism is as much a defining feature of his personality as being the leader of a giant paedophile ring is to the Pope. Just about anything Damon puts out there these days is informed and influenced by his atheism. In fact, he’s even started writing erotic novels where the main characters engage in S&M while quoting Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” to each other. He calls this new subgenre “Atheist Erotica”. Saucy stuff.

 

“Damon, Jesus preached tolerance and forgiveness. How can you argue with that? He was a good bloke, what do Atheists have against him?”

 

“Atheism isn’t about having anything against Jesus,” Damon replied, licking the whipped cream off of his hot chocolate.

 

“Oh, what’s it about?”

 

“Beliefs.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, not quite catching what he meant.

 

“Well, you see, Eric, beliefs are so crucial. Beliefs aren’t just abstract playthings of the mind. What people believe shapes how they act. The stories we tell ourselves are extremely powerful. Good people will turn into monsters if they have some core belief that backs up their actions. They’ll murder. They’ll enslave other human beings. They’ll even sabotage their own happiness. Denying themselves pleasures that every human being should be entitled to, like sex, like loving whoever the fuck you want. Living a life of misery, all in the service of a belief that has no real substance.”

 

“Right.”

 

“Atheism is about questioning these beliefs, and building new ones based on reason, creating a world where as many people as possible have the opportunity to flourish. Bad ideas and beliefs don’t allow people to flourish. They trap people. They limit what people see as possible for themselves. Religion is a madness that needs to come to an end.”

 

When he said that last bit, it kind of hit me quite hard. I started thinking about my own beliefs. Not about religion, but about myself. All that stuff I was saying at the start, the relentless self-hatred, where the fuck does that come from? I don’t really have any evidence to back those beliefs up. Nothing that holds up to any real scrutiny. I just decided these negative things about myself were true one day and I’ve been devoted to that story ever since. But they’ve done nothing but limit me.

 

Maybe it’s madness. Maybe it needs to come to an end.

 

I’m still gonna have an Easter Egg though.

 

See you next time! x

 

S1E4:
Jesus

Originally not aired on 19/04/2019

TGIGF – Thank God it’s Good Friday!

 

We made it everyone. Holy Week is coming to an end and it’s time to sit back, grab a beer, eat some fish and enjoy Good Friday, the day we celebrate the brutal and drawn out death of Jesus Christ.

 

I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking about sex aren’t you? You dirty little cretin. You can’t help yourself. Literally. You have no control over it. Whether it’s every few seconds, or every few minutes, or even every few hours – whatever you’ve got it down to, you’ll never completely eliminate those impulses. Like clockwork, the thoughts keep coming. And for the Catholics amongst you, these thoughts are wrong. Really wrong. Sinful. As the culture around you grows more sexualised and more accepting of open conversations around sexual behaviour, it eats away at you. Not because you’re repulsed by the culture, but because you’re drawn to it. It’s part of how you’re programmed. Whatever the religious structures you’ve grown up under say, the far deeper biological structures endowed to you by billions of years of evolution are what are really in charge. But what do you do? Listen to the tenets of your faith, the thing that’s given your life meaning, the thing that knits your community together, or listen to your dumb monkey brain that just wants to fuck the nearest bit of flesh. Stay true to your faith, or stay true to your nature? It’s an almost impossible situation.

 

Sad init.

 

Go on, have a wank. You know you want to.

 

But apart from that, I know what you’re also thinking. “Good Friday, Eric!? What’s so good about it? Jesus died, for crying out loud. He was my favourite!”

 

Well, guess what guys? It may be almost Easter, but Lent’s not over yet, and this year I’ve given up letting down my fans*. So please give a massive round of applause for today’s guest on “Comedians Outside Edinburgh Getting Easter Hot Chocs,” Jesus Christ.

 

That’s right, he’s back.

 

Now, after some of the things I’ve said about Christianity in the last few days, I expected Jesus to come at me all guns blazing. I expected him to enter the interview swearing his mouth off, insulting me and my audience, calling me a liar, like a guest on the Jerry Springer show who’s spent the majority of the episode getting riled up backstage while people chat shit about them.

 

But when he sat down with his delicious hot chocolate, he was much more relaxed. He actually came with a message, one that I haven’t managed to work out. I think it was some kind of metaphor.

 

Our saviour said this:

“Eric, I’m not Jesus. I’m the comedian Jay Handley.”

 

Make of that what you will

 

See you next time! x