Saturday, April 17, 2004

Every Other Blog at the Cleveland.

April 2004: Woke late, enjoyed the bright morning, lunched on the deck, took the family to the Community Recreation Center pool, mowed the lawn, ordered plants for the garden, listened to the radio, watched a little TV.

April 1988: On Thursday [April 14] we took in some comedy. We'd read about it in Time Out magazine, an event called "Every Other Thursday at the Cleveland." It had the advantage of being close by, in the basement of a pub called the Cleveland, on Cleveland St. We arrived a little early and had one of the most satisfying meals of the whole time in London, fish and chips at a storefront spot called Atlantis. Very fresh fish, fresh-cut fries too, and a mere £3 each.

After dinner we hung out in the Cleveland, drinking ale, till the doors opened at 8:15. We paid £2.50 each to get in, another satisfyingly cheap price in this expensive country, and sat close to the stage, which was really just a small platform in the corner of the basement. One comedian came out and did 20 minutes or so of standup, followed by a rotating troupe of others who did a few minutes each. Five men and two women. We'd seen one of the women, a slight blonde with a disarmingly deadpan act, on Channel 4's Friday Night Live the week before. The other comedienne, a large woman all dressed in black and deadpan too, and funny, we saw on FNL the next night.

One of the men launched into a story about his days as a teen in bondage pants. "You got it, all the black leather, all the zippers and chains all the way down, and that was it!" he boomed out, not needing his mike. "That's it, you're it, in bondage pants at a concert in so-and-so park, at least in '79 before all the yuppies moved out there." Somehow he steered the story to punks clamoring onto the stage at the concert, screaming "Lord Louie died for your sins! Lord Louie died for your sins!"

"I couldn't figure out what the [expletive] they were talking about. Lord Louie didn't die for my [expletive] sins. But it was '79. What's blue-blooded and flies over the Irish Sea? Lord Louie Mountbatten." It was manic, this story, just amazing, and absolutely British, but I got a kick out it, even though I didn't get about a third of what he joked about.

Another comic went into a long story about playing Clue with his friends, and how he got pissed at them for keeping secrets -- and making accusations. It was his bizarre delivery that make the story work, as if he were a boob self-righteously unclear on the Clue concept. " 'Hey,' I said. 'We're all friends here. What's this business about keeping secrets and making ac-cu-sations?!?' "

Without warning, some of the comics assembled as a band -- with real instruments. "It's Hot Lemon! A recently formed supergroup of the '70s!" Hot Lemon broke into song, satires of songs from the '70s. The best one was "Seasons in the Sun," a song of the time that everyone hates, but these guys did such a lunatic version of it that it's redeemed in my mind. A little, anyway.


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