Posts Tagged ‘paul vickers’

Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel

Apologies Twonkeyfans…. Hunchback HQ has been credit crunched, and relocated. We now work on the move with little or no notice, and have cleaned out our Panamanian hidey-hole. With our new reliance on the minimum wage, we’re even thinking of voting for Jezza Corbyn just for extra pocket money. Having a hit-and-run lifestyle like the A Team can make updating a fanblog a bit tricky. Hey, if the A Team blogged like motherfuckers in the Liam Neeson movie, we wouldn’t know. A movie by morons for morons. We’re only talking about the ’80’s vintage here.

And all this travelling, tragically, just as Mr. Twonkey begins an assault in London Town this May. We won’t be around for most of it. We could put a sad face emoticon here and confirm our membership of the emotionally stunted idiocracy, but we’re not gonna.

Although we’ll miss most of the May gigs, we did manage to catch the debut of Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel at the Beckenham Comedy Festival at the end of Feb. Mr. T swung into town to debut 20 minutes of the 2016 show. Here’s photographic proof of the man setting his Hotel up for business. People often say to us ‘you can’t blog for shit, but fuck me, you sure can take a good photo!’ What can we say, it’s a gift! You’ve either got an eye or you haven’t. Contact us for competitive rates.


So how is the Hotel shaping up? Needless to say, everything is tip top. He kicked off with old favourite The Flying Tailor, before launching into the new show. We’re happy to say you know what to expect. The wheel has not been reinvented, observational comedy it aint. If you have a single romantic bone in your body, a story about filet-o-fish might make you change your junkfood allegiance to Burger King. And this year’s classic new song may very well be entitled ‘Macaroni‘. The show went down a treat with the Beckenham crowd, still reeling from the death of their favourite son, Mr David Jones, but not so much that they didn’t make a few jokes about him. But you have to give our own Mr. Twonkey full marks for playing just 20 minutes of his set 400 miles away from home, and bringing the whole hotel with him!

He’s back in London next month for a whole plethora of dates:

Brighton Fringe: Sweet Dukebox 19:00 hours- 6th to the 8th of May.

Nunhead’s Ivy House: 20:30 hours, London 13th of May

Museum of Comedy: 19:00 hours-London 14th of May.

Wandsworth Fringe London: 22:30 hours on the 20th of May, 20:30 hours on the 21st of May.

Don’t Miss It!


Hooks, Vine & Sinister (the new album!)

The Cork

One year on, and we’re exactly 12 months closer to being six feet under. But on the bright side, there’s always a new Twonkey show, and a new album… Last year Mr. Twonkey shook it up by putting out Giddy World on a USB stick and included a 13 minute Radio Play at the end. This year, he has another USB release, cork-shaped, and it contains an absolute bounty of material. A new album, Hooks, Vine and Sinister (a compilation of 11 old tracks, and 5 new ones), a splendiferous full length Mp4 video of his last show, Twonkey’s Private Restaurant, an audiobook of his novella, Itchy Grumble, as read by the author itself, and a bonus short comedy video and 3 tracks from his other album of the year (!!!) with The Leg. Phew!

We’ll look at the Twonkey Hits album by Paul Vickers and Friends first:

Hooks vs Hunchbacks 3rd attempt


The New Tracks

Just five, but we’re talking vintage Vickers here. At least two of them would have made this album anyway (the Best Of section) had they been released earlier.

This Is Showbiz – We loved this from the moment we heard the first note back in January. It was played at the end of the performances of his play Jennifer’s Robot Arm (strictly as outro music, not an actual part of the show). Instantly memorable (sung by folk at the bar afterwards on a single hearing), we initially thought this jaunty number could qualify under ‘sinister’ with the line ‘a vacancy where a hearse should be’. But the line turns out to be the more jovial ‘a vacancy where a heart should be’. Actually, that’s still quite bleak now that we think about it. It’s another collaboration with Hamish ‘Hot Beryl’ Hawk and Steven ‘Victor Pope’ Vickers. Catchy as the proverbial fuck.

Mugulvery’s Farm – Wow, another bona fide Vickers classic. One of his best ever vocals, which we can only describe as a drunken Vincent Price showing off his best Barry Gibb falsetto. In a perfect world, this would be a smash hit. Collaborator is ex-DotR bandmate Grant Pringle, who is also behind The Flying Tailor (heard in The Hits section). Quite a one-two whammy. It’s almost 15 years since this pair were in a band together, but they’re still dynamite. Our favourite track.

Raspberry – this one is actually credited as ‘Raspberry 2014‘, and may be an updated version of a much older track, especially as collaborator Andy Currie has been off the scene for a few years now. Likely to date from his Recording The Impossible days. It debuted in London, October 2014. Short techno track with slowed-down vocals. He sounds utterly demented. Not for the first time.

Pencils for a Broom (Looney Tunes) – great little guitar number, the lyrics telling the story laid out in Twonkey’s Stinking Bishop. Energetic as hell to fit the subject matter. Wonderful stuff.

The Architect – this one starts with spoken word and orchestral tones, with the vocal playing over itself before breaking into a proper song It’s remarkably similar in structure to an obscure Duran Duran track called Drive By, which we’d be surprised if anyone involved in this had ever heard. Bloody Philistines. It’s a collaboration with Massimiliano Puddu, who did the Italian bits on Hands Off Mussolini, so we can only assume he’s Italian. And that it was he who personally added or inspired all the dubious lyrics about the Italians inventing everything. Like Joe Mantegna does at the start of Godfather III before Andy Garcia shoots him dead like the lying prick he is. And we wonder… Did Mr. Vickers misread those lyrics when adding the voce? There’s a bizarre line ‘Pleasure was discovered by a monk in a drain in Lazio,’ which we think was supposed to be ‘Pleasure was discovered by a monk in Adrian in Lazio.’

Christ, that poor kid.

The Hits!

Right, onto the ‘compiled’ tracks. Paul has been involved in 13 music albums now (5 x Dawn of the Replicants, 1 x Pluto Monkey, 3 x with The Leg and 4 x Twonkey Soundtracks), not counting the odd extended EP, compilation or two recordings that have musical elements, but are basically comedy albums (1). This release features Eleven of the Best musical selections from the last four Twonkey albums (Oom-Pah!, Nest of Knickers, Gasp! and Giddy World).

Now, we’ll concede Mr Vickers seems to master every discipline he attempts. But is choosing his Best Eleven a step too far? What made him wake up one morning and decide he was Sir Alex Ferguson?

“a real jockeys ale ~ makes yer knees fall in ~ Hot Beryl ~ she’s a stiff lay-day”

This is a selection we couldn’t possibly give anything less than five stars to. But that’s more about the strength (‘in depth’, as all those pundit pricks say every two minutes) of the material he chose from. We would probably change about half of the selection.

Most criminally, there’s no Stan Laurel, nothing less than Paul & Pierre’s absolute masterpiece! It’s not quite like buying the Greatest Hits of Renée and Renato(2) and discovering there’s no Save Your Love, but still…

Anyway, we think we can beat Paul with a simple 4-4-2 (restricting our love of Paul & Pierre to half of the players) and don’t mind laying out our team-sheet here. It’s a squad overflowing in belief. Read it and weep.

Hunchbacks, Mine and Definitive

11 tracks (2 subs)

In goal, it has to be Mother Shipton. If it goes to penalties, she’s gonna guess the right way. Bottom of the World kinda picks her own place at the back. We need to fill central defence with some aerial power, so Sophie The Aeronaut gets a nod as well as The Flying Tailor, who’s great with headers (off tall buildings), and Fizzy Lemonade who sounds like he should be faster than he is.

On the left of midfield, we’ll have Pissed As A Postman to provide good delivery to the forwards. More central will be Lon Chaney (Revisited), but if it becomes a snow / orange ball situation he’ll get the fear and be next to useless. We’d replace him with the weather appropriate Crimp Drizzle. Next to Lon is Lillian Gish, since we reckon that pair of contemporaries might ‘know each other’s moves’ (wink, wink) and avoid the square-peg / round-hole criticism that dogged Gerrard & Lampard (3). And The Night My Lip Swelled Up should add some Keane-esque hard edge to the central stronghold.

Up front has to be Stan Laurel for speed, what with his lean frame from all them fun-runs. If he’s lost some pace by injury time, we will replace lean-for-lean with Easy On The Mayo. And for expert finishing (on at least two albums now), it’s got to be crowd favourite Hot Beryl.

It could be hair dryer time at Twonkey Towers… takes us back to the old mixtape days when you’d consider yourself a musical genius after compiling one, momentarily forgetting that you didn’t actually create a note of it. If that affliction still applies when you’re a grown man, guess what – you’re a DJ!  Whatever the selection, Twonkey’s 2015 release is a thing of utter beauty. Count the days till you can bag your own ‘cork’.

  1. Call ourselves fans? There’s actually TWO musical numbers on the first Twonkey album Fucking Storys, a second hidden at the end of the last track. We’re sure we looked for something in the silence originally and found nothing. So imagine our surprise when listening a few months back, getting distracted and failing to turn it off at the end, only for the CD to come back to life with an additional track… nothing less than an earlier version of The Catshop Catastrophe! We’d been sitting on that badboy for four years, totally oblivious. For the record though, it’s not a patch on the fab Gasp! re-recording.
  2. Gosh, we made the huge mistake of looking up Renée on Wikipedia for spelling purposes. It only turns out that the Italian bombshell was an English cleaning lady with the un-enchanting name of Hilary Gibbon! And she was even replaced by a model for the video, the fat cow!
  3. Dogged, as in ‘followed around’, not the post-George Michael meaning.

Twonkey’s Stinking Bishop blows Brighton away

The Quadrant, Brighton:  May 1st and May 2nd 2015

He’s back! This is our FIFTH annual Twonkey show (his sixth) since we discovered him in what seems both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. We have temporarily put our tired movie-sequel-analogies on hold this year… it’s next year, Twonkey #7, that is the big precarious one when it could all go Mission To Moscow tits up!

Brighton once again gets the show (and accompanying album) a few months ahead of anyone else. But is it any good? Or does it stink to high heaven? Are we going to have to bash the bishop?

We held off on this review, until we found out if anyone received Mr. Twonkey’s celebrity endorsement in the general election. But now, with Big Dave freshly tucked back in at No. 10 barely an hour ago, we can happily shoot our load.

Enough of the suspense. Twonkey’s Stinking Bishop is another 50-odd minutes of classic five star Twonkey buffoonery and great new songs. The crowd loved it, the critics loved it, and most importantly we loved it. The plot, such as it ever is, involved Mr. Twonkey being sacked from his job at Looney Tunes. And, as only he could, Paul Vickers kinda reckons it’s more or less a true story.

All of your favourites are still here. The ship’s wheel with its powers of prediction – now a smaller, plastic travel wheel (in Brighton at least) – is back, hilarious and accurate in equal measure, with a double helping of dirty. The wheel even came with a prize for one lucky punter, a private performance of Dracula in Skipton.

Way back last October, when the Dracula in Skipton: Finger Fantasy routine debuted in London, we said we were too drunk to follow it. Shame, sobriety, an addiction to energy drinks, and a long dark teatime of the soul followed for us.

Well, wouldn’t you know. It wasn’t us, it was him! It feels like a proper narrative, but is so quickfire, absolutely none of it lands, despite Vickers moving his fingers in  perfect harmony with the dialogue. Being delivered directly to the competition winner, right in his/her face, just makes it funnier. Safe in the new knowledge that we’d been tricked, we went straight from the show to the ‘Offie’, laying waste to a six pack of Carly Specials on the train back to London. A few spots of bother, nothing serious.

We forgot to take photos, so knicked this off Twitter (2nd night photo)

We forgot to take photos, so knicked this off Twitter (2nd night photo)

Have you, like us, been wondering what happened to Hugh Grant since hard-hitting witness protection drama Whatever Happened To The Morgans? We reckoned he’d got his recent training in the method all higgeldy-cock, and has been hiding in character post-production. But no. Mr. Twonkey has the answer. Fear not for Hugh, he’s living it large on a gold-plated nuclear sub, banana’d up to the eyeballs.

And every year, without fail, there’s at least one new showstopping tune. This year, it appeared to be the instantly memorable This Is Showbiz, premiered at the end of the play Jennifer’s Robot Arm. But, as in other years, an early-debuted stunner (see Pissed As A Postman) is suddenly trumped by another (see Mother Shipton) come showtime. And it turns out that Mugulvery’s Farm is this year’s smash. It’s a peach.

Watching the debut of the new show, and immediately following it with a viewing of the newly released video of the last one, we can see changes creeping in. The fishnets for instance, fully recognised now as an utter liability, have been promoted to a main prop, guaranteed to cause  unpredictable chaos. At one point, the nets stick Twonkey to a chair amongst the Brighton crowd, which meant he couldn’t get all the way back to the mic for the next number. He just leaned as close as possible, kept calm and carried on. The uplifting spirit of David Cameron’s glorious England.

And the physical comedy is fabulous these days. He tried to lock a pig between two cheese wheels (don’t ask), one handed at that. It was the kinda stunt that a mime would spend hours getting wrong just right. But we have the feeling Twonkey was winging it, his confidence in failure absolute. A full glass of red wine was sitting just millimetres from this calamity, adding to the tension. Alas, the glass turned out to be as real as Nigel Tufnell’s trousersnake.

What a show! Count the days until August from right now.

Mr. Twonkey’s Acid House Circus Tour continues at London’s Soho Theatre on Fri May 22nd and Sat May 23rd.


Twonkey Product: 2015 is an absolutely jaw-dropping cork-shaped USB stick containing… an album, two videos, an album sampler and an audio book read by the author! Reviews are as imminent as David Milliband’s learjet back to Labour HQ.

Twonkey Transcendent!

Twonkey’s Private Restaurant (*****) is now halfway through its run at the Edinburgh Fringe. And we’ve caught it on both weekends so far coz we are the Twonkey Army.


We gave it five stars back in May on its Brighton debut and nothing was going to stop Mr. Twonkey from still delivering the goods, and not just coz he’s dressed as a Postman.

There have only been a few minor tweaks since then. His stuffed cat (see photo above) has been scalped of most of his hair, which can now be found down the knickers of the ‘attractive lady’ puppet. Honestly, this kind of behaviour wouldn’t even go on in the Vatican! And a hilarious parody of Hands Off Mussolini has also been cut.

Signature song Pissed As A Postman was unexpectedly dropped from the Aug 10th gig. He may simply have left his costume at home, but that doesn’t make for good copy here at Playboys With Hunchbacks, oh no. So let us report that the night before, a local Postie threatened to punch Mr. Twonkey – right in his ‘potato face’ – if he sung that song just once more.

The bizarre ‘face of a potato’ description actually comes from a mostly great Time Out review:

As you can see, five stars! And four of ’em in red! For a grand total of nine! We do disagree, however, with the notion that these are ‘daft’ comedy songs and not ‘anthemic’. The Vickers songbook can take the Pepsi challenge against absolutely anyone this decade. He’s as anthemic as Coldplay, and a whole lot more. We hope the reviewer has a chance to listen to the albums. His opinion would surely change.

The Scotsman run a different star system, where they give up to five white stars, but any additional stars (the equivalent of moving up a ‘dan’ in Karate if you’re already a black belt) are overlayed in patriotic Scottish blue. See below:

Another all-colour nine star review for our man! Some say the blue stars count double, and that makes it… 13 stars! Woohoo! We do the sums for you at Hunchbacks HQ.

Will Twonkey garner another award nomination this year? He certainly deserves to, but you can’t second guess that lot.

At HHQ, we’ve pretty much given up on comparing the Twonkey shows and albums against each other – they’re all amazing. Having said that, the general consensus within Team Playboys is that this is his best show and best bunch of songs yet. So there you go. We do miss Stan Laurel though. So much so that we got an alternative Stan fix at this year’s festival, catching the ‘And this is my friend Mr Laurel‘ show at The Pleasance. It’s exquisitely conceived and performed (by Hi-Di-Hi’s Jeffrey Holland), a great retrospective of Stan’s life and career. Even if it failed to mention his participation in the Annual Ulverston Pensioner’s Fun Run.

Twonkey’s tuck shop now boasts of six masterworks for your purchasing pleasure. The accompanying CDs for the four previous Twonkey shows (2010 – 2013), a USB stick for the current album (Giddy World, 2014), and the book Itchy Grumble. All on sale for £5. As a body of work for the decade so far, it’s an unrivalled jaw-dropping achievement.

Itchy Grumble is onto its second printing (at least), although the copyright page doesn’t mention it. The cover is centred slightly differently now, it’s minutely less green and the book now sports a barcode on the back cover. Unlike the postman story above, on this more trivial issue you can take our comments as the word of God.

It’s the show of the year, folks. Get yourselves along whilst you still can.


The Gentleman’s Guide to Gasp! (2013) Part 2

Here we are… Part II of the album guide that takes longer to read than the album takes to listen to. But if any album deserves this treatment, it’s surely Gasp!. This covers tracks #9 to #16.


A Rare Tingler (with Steven Vickers)

If we had to describe the Twonkey Tales in a single word, we’d say they were a bloodbath, and then argue that it’s just one word if you don’t use a space in the middle. Honestly, Vickers makes Game of Thrones look like Enid Blyton. King Evelyn, the hero of this tale, has the same fate as most Vickers’ heroes, which is a hideous, barbaric death. It’s vivid and amusing and disturbing as always. Now, we have tried to find out what a ‘tingler’ is with little success. So all we can use is the circumstantial evidence, which would suggest it’s a finger sized device used to scratch your arse with! And if that’s the case, we can only imagine that it’s a ‘tingler’ which adorns the album cover (see detail above). Don’t take that to the bank, though.

Trivia: The sonic background for this has been kicking around for some time. It was originally the backing for a Recording The Impossible era tale about Marlon Brando giving birth to a ‘man baby’ (it didn’t happen!), which was once available on a long since vanished Impossible website. (Thanks to ‘Deepthroat’ for the info).

Kiss The Gargoyle (with Roger Simian)

A short, jaunty number with a kid-friendly melody but some racy lyrics, this became a favourite around Hunchbacks HQ especially with Hunchbacks Junior. But we don’t play it out loud any more. Can’t take the risk. All we need is for little Hunchbacks to turn up at Nursery singing ‘I got a hammer for a prick, I tease the rats with my stick’ and we’ll be in front of a judge quicker than you can say ‘It’s A Knockout’.

Trivia: this is the only ‘song’ performed during a show (Twonkey’s Kingdom) that wasn’t played as an instrumental for Vickers to sing over. Instead it played with the distorted vocals intact and he just mouthed the lyrics when he felt like it. If he felt like it. Our old Primary Three school teacher used to have a word for that kinda behaviour. ‘Lazy!’ she would say to us. ‘You’ll never amount to a single thing!’ History has proved her right.

Playboys With Hunchbacks (with Steven Vickers)

At last, after probably millions of tunes celebrating man’s superstitious mental failings, evolution gets a song in its honour. Richard Dawkins should come on stage for his debates to this tune. Let his detractors come out to Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam and Dickie D is already 1-0 up. A great track which we were thrilled to see on disc. And, if you haven’t already figured it out, we named this here blog in its honour.

Trivia: Playboys With Hunchbacks comes from our first Twonkey experience, Twonkey’s Castle, although was absent from the companion album at the time. The original version had a kinda Egyptian thing going on, although this remix sounds just as good in a different way. This version – to the best of our knowledge – got a single live airing during an encore at the 2012 Brighton Fringe.

The Horror of England

This played at a few Blue Cadabra gigs, but was quickly dropped. Which is a shame as it was something of a classic. And topical as hell. But maybe he thought some Scots might take the whole thing literally. It’s a pisstake of a few Scottish stereotypes, that they are fond of a few drinks and hating the English. But the thing about stereotypes…

Trivia: The goat being milked is called ‘Laddie’, the funniest gag at the expense of the Scots in the whole track. A few little things non-Scots may not understand: ‘sat on’t bucket’ is a reference to popular D.C. Thompson cartoon character Oor Wullie. And the children ‘sat up in bed drinking pints’ is a reference to the tradition of Scottish children at home in bed… drinking pints.

Stan Laurel (with Pierre Chandeze)

We have no idea if other fans or even the creators would agree, but for us this is it – the pinnacle of Paul and Pierre as songwriters and performers, both separately and together. And there’s no way we could do it justice here. Vickers had a short history of dedicating tracks to golden age stars, and maybe this was written to order by Pierre, as opposed to being something Vickers just happened to fashion into a Stan Laurel tribute. I only say this as you can almost hear a funereal re-write of the jaunty Laurel & Hardy theme in those opening nine notes, which under-pin the entire song. And it seems unlikely Pierre is suggesting the subject matter for these tunes (“Dear Paul, here’s my latest tune which needs some words. It’s up to you, but for me the music suggests something about a kitchen appliance that just won’t shut up! Love Pierre”). This would be one of our eight picks on Desert Island Discs, no question. It’s a melancholic masterpiece that honestly would have been the highlight had it appeared on Sgt Pepper. With its mood, and Stan Laurel recently dead and appearing on the cover, it even would have fit right in. It’s probably got the best opening line of anything we can think of, soaring right out of the gate and departing from the main melody before it’s even been established with a stunning vocal. And Pierre does exquisite work on more layers than an Elton John wedding cake. Simply incredible work that should be in every collection. The fellas have made it available for free on Soundcloud and you can listen here. Use decent speakers or headphones though for the full Stan experience.


Trivia: The websites that sell Gasp! as a download erroneously credit this track to Paul & Steven Vickers. The song is also available on Paul & Pierre album Eggs Benedict With Mr Wu on the Seahorse Monorail. This release is technically a compilation, although as the tracks all date from 2011-13, it has a gestation period no longer than 90% of original albums these days, so you can treat it either way. We love everything Paul Vickers does and that’s why we’re here. But we’ve got to say there’s something just utterly magical about Paul & Pierre.

The Sound of the Holy Grail (with Andy Currie and Thomas Traux)

‘What does the Holy Grail sound like?’ asks Vickers at the beginning of this track. I did some digging and can you believe no one has thought to ask this question before? Is it any wonder the grail’s still missing if we can’t even ask the fundamental questions? With Vickers, archaeology’s loss has been music and comedy’s gain and the track is a classic. It’s a Vickers and Andy Currie collaboration with (I’m assuming) a musical backing track by Thomas Traux, and an outtake from Vickers and Currie’s priceless 2008 album Recording The Impossible. Currie also wheels out his first rate Harrison Ford impersonation. Great stuff. But the truth is the Holy Grail sounds exactly like the track that had just preceded this one!

Trivia: The Harrison Ford quotes are all from the first three Star Wars films. Not the so-called ‘Original Trilogy’, but the first three films. But those are the same, I hear you say. ‘Fraid not. George Lucas has written the first Star Wars sequel out of history in a way that would have made Joseph Goebells proud. The first three Star Wars films are actually thus: 1. Star Wars 2. The Star Wars Holiday Special  3.The Empire Strikes Back. The Holiday Special was a full length Star Wars film shown on TV in 1978. It featured the full cast, even including the debut of fan-favourite Boba Fett, with Han Solo and Chewbacca going back to the Wookie home world to celebrate Life Day (‘Happy Life Day’) with Chewie’s family. And Chewie’s father’s name? Wait for it….. drum roll….. Itchy!

Nose Umbrella

This short more-or-less instrumental track was used as backing music for a Twonkey magic trick during Blue Cadabra. The opening notes always make us think of the Bond theme. Hard to hear now without being transported back to the show and hearing Vickers tell his onstage assistant ‘Please pour in the hat full of heroin’ as it was playing. You had to be there.

Trivia: This tune also has its genesis back in the Recording The Impossible days, where it was introduced as ‘Socks by Honking Snout’. The current version isn’t the same and has been slowed right down.

Charabang (with Pierre Chandeze)

The second of two songs with Pierre on this album. A great little catchy number which kept its place in every single Blue Cadabra show we attended (which included the first, the last and a good few in between). As with most Pierre numbers, the production is extraordinary with all kinds of unusual sounds working beautifully in tandem all at once. And Vickers tops it all off perfectly, singing with such conviction that I assumed it was a true story. Just like The Talking Oven.

Trivia: A charabang, or charabanc to give it its most common spelling, was a proto-type turn-of-the-century open-topped bus. And when they had accidents there seemed to be an unfortunately high incidence of the death of everyone on board. Some digging to find a possible event being sung about lead nowhere. A few charabanc disasters on Moors, but none sounding remotely like ‘Oakley Moor’ which I think is what he sings. Also, I’m no social historian, but the idea of anyone in England circa 1900 going by the name of Hillary Wu seems unlikely. Weirder still though, is that I did come across a charabanc victim with the name of Sarah Ann Dunn, the name of a character in Oom-pah!

Coming soon… Part III of the album guide they tried to ban! But at the risk of curbing your enthusiasm, everyone knew we were always going to shoot our chucklemuck in Part 2.

Twonkeys Blue Cadabra


Twonkeys Blue Cadabra: An Overview (1)

(Rather than waffle on, I’ve relegated a chunk of our belated Blue Cadabra review to ‘notes’ at the bottom. So there you go).

Finally this year, Twonkey’s show was nominated for a major award at the Edinburgh Festival. He didn’t win, losing to an 80 year old Britain’s Got Talent contestant who, like many others who appear on that travesty of a show, isn’t remotely British. By all accounts, her show was superb. And it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Twonkey.

We caught this year’s show both at the Itchy Grumble book launch (April 2013) and the official opener at the Brighton Fringe (one week later). Then, during a couple of shows at the beginning and end of the Edinburgh festival. Our first August show could be filed under ‘special’ by the attendance of Kate Copstick (2), the festival’s celebrity Scotsman reviewer. It was probably quite a coup that she chose to attend. Pop along to Twonkey’s Blogspot to see which way she swung *cough*. She definitely could be seen to be enjoying the Twonkey experience and who can blame her? His 4th Festival show was another triumph deluxe, and was a huge hit with both audiences and reviewers alike (3). They are the highlight of our year.

On paper, the venue was a step up to previous years, but had the unfortunate side effect of having a bar at the back of the room where random strangers could heckle from.

The show begins, in wonderfully bizarre Twonkey fashion, with a cover of George Harrison’s Shanghai Surprise (4), before moving on to the first of two reprises of material from his first Twonkey album, Fucking Storys. Here Vickers states that a microphone should be ‘sexualised’. In that regard he certainly takes his own advice and gets away with absolute murder. So much so that I didn’t even realise until the last weekend just how sexual the show had become. There are obvious bits, such as the Ship’s Wheel which can guess people’s sexual preferences (5). But suddenly the Stan Laurel story seemed a whole lot more sinister, as he ‘takes liberties’ with a young girl, but to add insult to injury, makes her do all the hard work for him. And the story about the clogs later seemed to be Sexual Imagery Central with peg-legs and, erm, porridge. I’m thinking that ‘porridge’, in this instance, may share a consistency with Stan Laurel’s ‘chucklemuck’.(6) Stan can’t complain, however, given he gets a song in his honour, a new track from ‘Paul & Pierre’ which is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece. The songs throughout are as amazing as always, with Stan Laurel and The Flying Tailor being the highlights from new album Gasp!, and a great new song, Straggler On The Run. Vickers was in fine voice throughout, possibly the best I’ve heard him (7).

There were some unexpected changes and additions since Brighton, including a horse race which the audience participate in. We had ‘Best Bit of Fuzz’ at 18-1, and I could feel a victory coming on. I had that Martine McCutcheon song ‘This Is My Moment’ blasting out in my head (complete with video) but it was not to be. I didn’t bloody win. It was a fix – The Florist won every night. Even during the festival run, parts were still being added, including a new opening for The Flying Tailor.

Some of the funniest things, certainly for a Twonkey veteran, were fairly minor on the surface. Like the desperate way the songs were shoe-horned into the narrative (such as it was). And after all the weird and wonderful names he has given his puppet assistants, to call the new one ‘Chris Hutchinson’ was hilarious.

Helpfully there was a typed up setlist right at our feet, which gave another insight into how Twonkey constructs his shows as they go. Coz he didn’t entirely follow it. Parts were skipped, songs were added, etc. ‘The Horror of England’, a comedy classic from his new CD and early performances of the show was bizarrely nowhere to be seen. Had he been burned by a raucous Scottish audience who didn’t get the joke on a previous night? Not impossible (8).

Team: Playboys With Hunchbacks even ended up on stage, helping Mr. Twonkey perform what we thought was a magic trick. Assorted knick-knacks are put into a sack with a pair of large clogs which, when shaken, shrunk. Now I’d seen this in previous shows and assumed some sleight of hand was going on. But – darn it – I swear that sack was getting lighter as I shook. Was it just the buzz of being so close to Mr. Twonkey? Who knows, but if it wasn’t just a cheap trick at all, I couldn’t let Twonkey down – not with Copstick looking on. So I put my heart and soul in to it, doing my best Louise Woodward impression until I could feel those clogs practically vanish. I hope the reviewer took note, but I even put a cherry on top, concentrating so much that the clogs also changed pattern and shape. Oh yeah!

If that wasn’t enough to rock our world, Twonkey then points out that he has brought something miraculous with him, in the vein of finding the image of Jesus in a coffee stain. We were shown the bottom of a Morrocan biscuit tin which featured… well, I shouldn’t spoil it, coz it was so fantastic he should bring it out again next year. All I know is that there was something pictured on that tin which made me re-evaluate, well, everything! Doubters may scoff, but I know what I saw!

Lilly Vumper (9) was apparently set to make an appearance, per the setlist, but didn’t show (10). Even Paul’s axe of choice, the slide whistle (11), was waiting on his table of tricks purely to be utilised for that performance. Instead he plumped for a funkier finale in both of the Edin shows I witnessed, with Goat Girl (12).

It’s another fabulous show, and you can feel the Twonkey name is growing in stature every year. We left with what may be an exclusive… Twonkey will return next year with Twonkey’s Creepy Restaurant (13) where, per a brief mention in this year’s story, he hangs out with Nosferatu, Frankenstein and The Riddler.

We will be there.

  1. An ‘overview’ is the technical term for a review that is three month’s late
  2. Call me bitter, but Copstick was in the audience during Playboys With Hunchbacks’ sole onstage Festival performance. And did she mention it in her review? Did she bollocks. We were on stage with a camp, charismatic powerhouse hitting notes we never thought we’d manage. Honestly, if that description makes us sound like Monsterrat Caballe, that’s exactly what we thought too. And then… nothing from Ms Copstick. As the feller says in Red Dragon ‘You were privy to a great becoming, and yet you recognised nothing.’
  3. Everyone else did, but Three Weeks didn’t like it, with an almost identical review as last year. I will not buy their rag ever again. Even if it is free!
  4. Shanghai Surprise actually sounds, both musically and lyrically, like a Vickers original. If he hadn’t announced the track at the Itchy Grumble book launch back in April as coming from the ‘flawed Madonna classic’, I would have been none the wiser.
  5. A story about a sexual coming of age watching a snail on a Great Yarmouth beach is told in such detail that it can surely only come from Vickers’ own formative years!!
  6. It begs the question, ‘Would semen under a different name taste just as sweet?’
  7. His voice was bruised and battered at the Itchy Grumble book launch and, for that reason, may never sound better. Croaky as hell, even just when speaking, the vocals were utterly amazing that night. His brother filmed the whole thing – surely there’s a Blu-ray in the pipeline!
  8. In one of his live shows, Stewart Lee mentions a night when he was almost attacked on stage in Scotland for a routine claiming ‘William Wallace was a gay’. It was at an after-midnight Variety Show at the Assembly Rooms and Team: Playboys With Hunchbacks witnessed the whole sorry spectacle first-hand. That said, if we’d known how big a hypocritical bitter old prick Lee would soon become, we’d have chucked the first bottle fer sure.
  9. Lilly Vumper is the number previously known as Lilly Bumper from last year’s show. The song appeared in its new form on this year’s Gasp! CD. Aside from the new surname, the recorded version was also a bit more experimental. Vickers misses his vocal cues a couple of times, adding a bit of amusing anarchy to the number. In his earlier Brighton gig (and possibly all others where this gets performed), he tried to recreate that spirit and it all went completely arse over tit. He was still halfway through the verse when the chorus kicked in on the backing track. Which just adds to the creative mystery. Did he mean to a) get a little lost in the song and instead get totally lost?, b) balls it up intentionally and not care where he ended up, or c) know exactly where he was at every moment? Who. The Hell. Knows?
  10. I was describing the Twonkey show to a friend when he said ‘so, he just sings, he doesn’t play an instrument on stage?’ I replied in the affirmative, momentarily forgetting about the slide whistle. Sure, it may only get an airing for a single number, but we’re dealing with quality here, not quantity. Don’t get me wrong – I’m no authority on the instrument – but if there’s a better slide whistler than Paul Vickers anywhere in the whole wide world, I sure as shit don’t know who it is.
  11. New song All Old Minds Are Dead was originally included in the show per the setlist but was skipped at least once. There could be a few reasons for sitting this one out in Edinburgh, but here’s one for sure: the lyrics are easily misheard. ‘Your Old Mind is Dead’ – the chorus lyric – sounds more like ‘Your Old Man is Dead’ in Vickers’ tones. And that’s dangerous. Coz the song is so ridiculously upbeat, with Vickers waving his hands from side to side (‘like a Day Centre’) with a big smile on his face. What if some poor fella was on his first night out after the death of his father, hoping for a laugh to cheer himself up, and suddenly heard that? What if he was from Glasgow? It wouldn’t be pretty. Twonkey would end up having to twat him with The Flying Tailor. Could make for a good showstopper actually. I was glad to see it back in for the final weekend when I guess he could afford the risk with the Reichelt doll.
  12. Not, of course, just a choice of song, as Goat Girl comes with mighty fine opening gags involving ecstasy, Wagon Wheels and Skiing holidays.
  13. That said, this year’s show was supposed to be called Twonkey’s Empire which didn’t last, so all is subject to change.

Twonkey nominated for TO&ST Award!!!


Twonkeys Blue Cadabra has been nominated for a TO&ST Award, which stands for Time Out & SoHo Theatre. The Award is judged by a panel including Kate Copstick, celebrity reviewer from The Scotsman. And the prize seems rather amazing as well – a two week run at the SoHo Theatre! Team: Playboys With Hunchbacks could attend every night!!! But we wont get carried away just yet, as on paper there is just a 20% chance of victory. However, the nomination itself is a step in the right direction, whatever the result.

It is perhaps going to take something like this for the world at large to recognise the utter magnificence of Twonkey as much as we do. I think, at least if he doesn’t win, this could be the start of such things being a regular occurence for him. Not that he’s a stranger to Awards in general – it was this time last year that Itchy Grumble won a book competition leading to publication.

Twonkey has uploaded most of the early Twonkeys Blue Cadabra coverage on his blogspot, so no need to duplicate some of that stuff here. Reviews so far have been overwhelmingly positive, and this in a year when they seem to have become much tougher on the acts. I read a few reviews from shows which went down well and even appear to have won over the reviewer… then got three stars. Others have been lucky to get two. The evergreen Tony Law’s* heart is apparently not in it anymore (The Scotsman) and Mike Wozniak, my favourite show this year (other than Twonkey of course), barely scraped by on three stars.

Anyway, here is another link to Twonkey’s blogspot and all the recent reviews / coverage. Like waiting for a bus, Twonkey shows and CD Guides will be uploaded here in a day or two.

Good luck to Twonkey!

*Tony Law’s Tony Soprano impersonation should have bumped his show to a three star minimum on its own. In his latest show, he asks the question ‘What are Black Hole’s accents like?’ which has more than a whiff of Paul Vickers asking ‘What does the Holy Grail sound like?’ on his recent album Gasp! Do great minds think alike, or is Tony a closet Twonkey fan?