Friday, 22 July 2016

Matt Hoss' Brexit Blog

Martin Luther King Junior once said:
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

In the last month, right wing members of the government, like a big evil Uri Geller, have bent this moral arc away from justice and towards a torrent of sewage, evil spirits and Paris Hilton.

So. Here we are. Brexit.
Jesus Christ.

It’s nearly a month since the vote on Brexit. So much shit has happened since then, both personally and politically. Never before have I been so distraught about politics, never before had I felt so utterly saddened and deflated by the actions of the people and the government. Never would I have EVER thought that I could have been saddened at David Cameron stepping down. These are strange and dark times. I mean, Those £9000 loans aren’t looking as bad now. Jeez, remember when the Lib Dems were the worst thing in our lives. Awh, remember when we were happy? Whereas now: watching the news is like subscribing to a daily punch from David Haye, which they make you pay for. So I feel sad and have a broken face. 

This blog is going to be me trying to wrap my head around some of my feelings and thoughts at the moment.It attempts to find humour. Does it succeed? I'm not too sure. But it's entertaining at the very least. 

So just to have a quick little catch-up on some of the crazy events in the last month:
·         The tragic death of MP Jo Cox.
·         The Remainers were confident for a win.
·         The Remainers did not win. Brexit vote emerges to victory.
·         Farage is a wankmuffin.
·         Brexit Leaders freak out at unsuspecting win.
·         David Cameron quits office.
·         Farage is a Wankmuffin.
·         5 homophobes apply to be Tory Leader.
·         There is a spike in racial hate crimes.  
·         Bojo quits office. Like taking a massive shit in a hotel room, and expecting others to clean up his self-curated mess.
·         Gove gove’d himself out of office.
·         Andrea Leadsom and May battled for leader. Like the most menopausal Jedi/Sith battle ever.
·         Leadsom thinks she is better at being PM because she is a mother. She said that she would ground the entirety of the UK until it tidied it’s room. Leadsom is certainly a mummy, in regards to that she looks like she’shad her heart harvested and just left left a sarcophagus, being incredibly old, and probably had a few slaves. May, like a unglamorous Clare Underwood, ignored these attacks.
·         Instead of utilising the Tory’s weak sinking ship; Labour called a mutiny, sets their own boat on fire,  and in unison blamed Corbyn. Their ship sinks faster.
·         Farage is a wankmuffin and wankmuffins his way out of being UKIP leader. Again.Still claims payment on being a MEP. 
·         Leadsom drops out of the race. Everyone rejoices. Then everyone realises they have May as Pm. Everyone says “Oh fuck!”.
·         Labour, like a teenage girl, still hates on itself. Labour listens to MCR, wears heavy make-up and says how “no one gets them”.  
·         Theresa May gets into office. Gets rid of the necessary departments dealing with climate change, the environment and if it were possible, oxygen. Fails to reinstate the department of happiness.
·         My mum came along to a gig, sat down in the front row and visible wore a thong. Worst day ever.
·         May dictates a hard-line of austerity…
·         …but spends £205 billion on a useless submarine. God bless the NHS.
·         Cthuhulu emerges from the sea and creates havoc. Followed by having tea with her sister, Theresa May. 

That isn’t even half of the events. I mean the Chilcot Inquiry was pretty big news, but I think he revealed it at the worst time. He should have marketed it WAY better. You need more hashtags Chilly! And there have been awful and atrocious terror attack all around the globe. We are living in unstable times. 

I just want things to be consistent just for a week. Thankfully Farage is consistently, he’s always been a wankmuffin before and after Brexit. It’s nice to have somethings not faltered in such a fragile time.  You know it’s bad when we have to rely on Nigel for emotional support. I feel bad for his wife.

But the next couple of weeks,  who know what could happen. Following from that list, events could exponentially grow crazier and crazier. We should try and foresee some of these things – it’s called “Depressing Events Bingo”. The only game where you can never win  or get any better (unless you hate human rights).   

Some of the events I predict in the forthcoming months. If I get three right in a row, I win.
The prize: Heartbreak and white guilt.

1)      Jesus has his second coming, hates everything he sees and goes to Las Vegas for a long weekend to forget about it all.
2)      Ghostbusters come to the UK and cannot get rid of the ghost of Margaret Thatcher who has possessed Theresa May.
3)      The entirety of Scotland decides to leaves taking their land mass with them. They floats towards Canada and they create a progressive utopia. Canada then has three languages: English, French and Drunk Glaswegian.  
4)      George Osbourne becomes the next King Kong on Skull island. Or so he thinks. He is a weedy man in a loincloth on Blackpool beach; out of head on bath salts.
5)      The devil puts in a formal application to have the UK to be the new hell. Unfortunately for Brexit fans, there would be a lot of immigrants for this option.
6)      Pirates support Jeremy Corbyn as he has a nautical image. Ninjas support Owen Jones because he often found hiding from the public eye. And he’s welsh. Labour’s civil war has the world biggest and most awesome fight yet.
7)      David Cameron gets a talking car and lives a life on the road. He lives a life as a mixture of Mad Max and Knight Rider, but instead of learning to fight, he just talks down to everyone poorer than he is. 
8)      Blair robs a children’s charity in order to to pay for the vol-au-vents at a cocktail party. He says “he’d do it again”. Chilcot sighs and starts typing again.
9)      Boris Johnson joins Blink 182.
10)    Donald Trump becomes president.

If anyone of those happens, particularly the last one, I think we should just start civilisation from scratch. Might be for the best. Year 0 everyone?

Want to add to this the Depressing Event Bingo list? Tweet it to me @MattHossComedy and I’ll edit it in (with #DEBingo) and attach your name to it. 


Democracy is a fickle bitch. Everyone wants democracy  (if it's in their favour). If it isn’t they kick off a fuss. But being a left-wing young person in the last month has been the pinnacle of a society so pinned against us. So I’ve been trying to understand the full spectrum of Brexit thoughts.

So why exactly did people wanted to leave? Do people not like Human rights, free movement and no spikes in racial crime? They certainly don’t like democracy, why else would you vote for the Tories and read The Sun?

A lot of people claimed that the voted out because of TTIP (which is an agreement that may have happened which would have led to the privatisation of the NHS), but that was far from a done deal. 

Ironically now, Farage has come and say “well because you voted Brexit, we need extra money so we are going to have to privatisation it anyway”.  I’ll pay anyone £20 to kick that wankmuffin in the cock. The £20 won’t be worth anything between the time of kicking and collecting payment, so I’d recommend you doing it for yourself more than for the money.

And apparently, Brexit may not really happen to the full degree that leavers had voted for. Hollande has given May an ultimatum which may lead to a partial Brexit and if it is a full Brexit, then it won’t be happening until at least 2017. Which is understandably frustrating if you voted leave.

There is one good thing to come out of this though. The ladies call me the Brexit of the bedroom
No- not because  I have a gaggle of randy bigoted white men follow me into the love chamber. 
It’s because I disappoint everyone involved.  

Another good thing - I think I’m going to write Brexit: The Musical. It will be overly flamboyant to truly represent the repressed Tories which backed it. It will be full of actors and musicians who can’t afford living costs because of austerity measures on the arts. And Boris will be played by Barry from Eastenders.

Some of my songs from Brexit the Musical:

- Springtime For Farage
- Defying Democracy
-  RENT (prices going up).
- The Music of the Nightmare.
- The Book of Morons
- Mamma Mia has been deported back to Greece

And after article 50 has passed and since the department for environmentalism has gone, I imagine the whole world will look like STOMP.
No more, Brexit makes me feel miserables.

So we have got a Nuclear submarine. Which is explains why the Beatles’ submarine was yellow, it was carrying hazardous materials. Imagine the song for that. Well I wrote a song. Enjoy. The lyrics are on the bottom of the page. SKip to a minute in for the music.

We are in times of austerity, where working class people have to strive to feed families, where young people can’t get a decent living wage out of university, where the green polices and the arts are not even considered for funding. 
But  guys don't worry. We have a fucking submarine.
I bet they won’t have the decency to call it Boaty McBoatface.

A nuclear deterrent is a pointless thing.  It’s basically a cock measuring contest. It’s saying “don’t bomb us – or else we will bomb you back”. But if the warring country, let’s Russia for example, have already sent a nuclear missile, the deterrent is therefore useless. It isn’t going to save our lives, it’s only going to kill more people if we send a bomb back. So ultimately we’ve paid £205 billion for peacock feathers. But we are talking about nuclear destruction, and we are certainly plotting our own history here and planning for a war in the future.

My argument is, why don’t we, you know, start talking our problems with other countries, instead of plotting for the worst? Because if we can sort our problems in a civil manner, it may be better and safer for everyone in the long run. But that would require Britain to be an approachable, friendly and non-abrasive country. It would require to maintain friendly relations with all of the EU. Erm. Hmm. Yeah. On second thoughts,  maybe Trident wasn’t a bad idea. Let's prepare for nuclear assault. 

Also, since we have weapons of mass destruction, can America invade us now? We don’t have any decent resources for them to take, so they will have to invade us to take our British sense of humour away from us.
I mean they have already taken The Office. They’ve essentially taken all of our cultural capital anyway. Regardless, Tony Blair will be living in the submarine, like Golum with the ring, will end his days surrounded by pointless weapons of mass destruction.

National Pride:

People say they want “our country back”. “Our”. Who are they referring to? The citizens already here? The UK citizens since birth? White people? I dare you to pick ANY  person at random and if you go back a couple of generations into their lineage, there will be some foreign element to that person's genes. There are no “purebloods”. It's not Harry Potter. And why the hell would that matter anyway? Who honestly gives a shit where you come from?

“Well we don’t want immigrants coming over here and stealing our jobs”. They aren’t stealing your jobs. They are fulfilling a positive role in our society, by largely filling menial and non fulfilling jobs, low-paying jobs.  If you don’t want them coming over here are doing our menial jobs, well put some marigold gloves on and grab a mop. You’re hired. And stop eating McDonalds too. Lose some weight. 

I believe this antagonising feeling all comes down to one thing: National Pride. 
National pride makes people do inane shit against people they don’t know or understand purely for the reason that they “love their country”. You love your country? If you love the Tories, the England football team and shit weather, you have awfully low self-esteem. You can do better. You could love Germany.

I don’t think I have ever had any National pride. I really like living in Britain. I’m honestly over-privileged, overly lucky  and I feel awful complaining about it. I love that I’m able to study and pursue my passions and art, but do I have any pride in my country? Not really.  I don’t really feel “British” and I never have done.

For example: I mean I hate all sport, so I’m never behind England/Britain when it comes to sporting events. I mean there is rarely any pride in most English sports, but you know.
And I hate getting really drunk. Or going out. Or enjoying many fine ales. I’m vegan – that means I don’t like fun. I don’t want to get wrecked in the name of my country.
I mildly like Yorkshire tea. But not enough to defend my country over.

But National pride is a weird reason to justify any action. For example, I really love my cat. REALLY LOVE HER. But I’m not going to try and destroy the economy, future generations and make an irredeemable split in the nation for her.
But then again she is SUPERCUTE so I might do it anyway. #loveyourcatnotyourcountry

I think it really comes down to this. How do you define someone as “British”? What values do they sustain which splits them from the rest of the pack?

Hard-working? Determined? Willing to do what it takes when things got hot? 

That could be used to describe any number of immigrants coming to the UK to find a better start for their families. Or Syrian refugees who have traveled for their lives, after we bombed their homes. They don't give up for the people they love. That is British. 

Farage is none of those things. Farage is rude, ignorant, and gives up when shit hits the fan. Above all else, he blames other people other than himself. Do you know what Farage is? 

Farage is American.

No PROPER British person would kick up a fuss about the EU like he did. If you were properly British and discerned with the EU, the most you would do- would be make passive-aggressive small talk with a Remainer, consider making a point, but just go home and grumble instead. Farage is none of those things. He is archetypally unbritish. We should have him and all the bigots deported as of immediately for being overly American.

Farage is also a Wankmuffin.

You don’t own Britain. You don’t have the right to take away it from anyone else. Unless you are Rupert Murdoch. Then you do.

It’s so tough to be liberal at the moment. We are living in very dark times. Without sounding overly dramatic, we are seeing the rise of nationalism and it’s looking a little Nuremberg-y at the moment. Fuck me, if UKIP youth are coming soon, those kids need to get bullied.

Being a Remainer, being left wing, being young and helpless has made me feel like you don’t have a voice. Since my adult life, politically, I’ve had nothing go the way I want it to.  And in personal life too. May be it’s just me? I understand that is how democracy works, and I’m happy for it to take action, but when will there be an outlet for change for my generation?

In the last month, it’s exacerbated as I’ve had right wingers, racists and leavers who have sneered down at me in their gluttonous win. Chuckling with sick a demeanor.  They spend their time rejoicing in their newfound victory, but we must have faith.
Do you know why?
Being a liberal, EVERYDAY we lose, we are betrayed, and the odds are not in our favour.

I’ve realised we are The Stark Family.

We are backing the good guys, we get continually dicked on and all of our best friends die: WE ARE THE STARKS.  The thing is, that you have to bear with it. I know it doesn’t sound great, being that the Starks have awful awful lives. But they stand-up for what they believe in and eventually, through trials and tribulations, we get our vengeance. The North Remembers.

The Tories are the Frey family, drinking their (European imported) beers and metaphorically wanking each other off with their constant success. They are glib. They are over confident. They are beating us. For now. Our time will come. We unfortunately do not have a dragon to aid us in battle, as she has just turned Prime Minister.

And the wildlings (The SNP) are always willing to help us. Ironically, they are way more progressive than us. 

Struggling with your day? Slight spoilers – but think of the Leave team being Ramsay Bolton. And imagine you are a dog.  That should give you solace. 

But we must continue to survive and thrive. To find our feet, and not to fight within our own family.
We are Starks, and Winter is coming my friends. Winter. Is. Coming. 

Before I go. A parting image and a final piece to summarise my blog.

                                                        Farage is a wankmuffin.
                                                         And that is not icing.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have enjoyed this. If you like it please share it! 

Please visit my website:

Here are the lyrics to NUCLEAR SUBMARINE:

In the country, where I was born,
Lived Theresa, on Downing Street
And She decided, to take our money
For her nuclear submarine

She call it a deterrent
But would she have done this, if she was a parent?
She’s like Ursulla, but her trident,
Is  a nuclear submarine
Theresa live on a Nuclear submarine, a nuclear submarine, a nuclear submarine.
We’ve all grown limbs on the Nuclear submarine, the nuclear submarine, the nuclear submarine.

And her friends, are all on board,
Claiming taxes to live next door,
And the band begins to play

We’ve spent too much money on  a Nuclear submarine, a nuclear submarine, a nuclear submarine.
ISIS don’t care about a Nuclear submarine, a nuclear submarine, a nuclear submarine.

And the Tories live with ease
Spending billions, instead of things we need,
like Public services, or anything green
For a useless - submarine (Submarine, ha, ha)

We all live in a nuclear submarine
nuclear submarine, nuclear submarine
We’ve lost the NHS to a nuclear submarine
nuclear submarine, nuclear submarine
The russians don’t fear our nuclear submarine
nuclear submarine, nuclear submarine
Cyberattacks continue despite with a nuclear submarine
nuclear submarine, nuclear submarine
G4S will profit from the nuclear submarine
nuclear submarine, nuclear submarine
The world’s underwater because of the nuclear submarine.
I’ve written this song because of the nuclear submarine.
But thank fuck we don’t have Boris – or else it could have gone like this

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen,

I am a walrus.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Experimental Comedy Part 2: A Game Of Hoss

Experimental Comedy Part 2: A Game Of Hoss

Introduction to the Essay

Hello everyone!

Thanks for clicking on this! You must be a comedy nerd or some kinda stalker. Either way - I'm grateful that you are here.

So this is another of my experimetal comedy blogs. Instead of dressing up as Hitler this time, I dress up as Jon Snow.

This is QUITE academic of an essay. It's a bit hoighty toighty. But it is interesting. I explain what I'm on about during the essay - but the gist of it is - How do a get an audience to get fully behind my Game Of Thrones show despite people having not known the prior references.

It's that fun all the way through.

However I would be happy to release the footage - if there were enough interest. I don't want to put it it out public yet. But if there are enough people keen to see it - just tweet at me (@matthosscomedy) .

Here we go. My experimental comedy essay about Game Of Thrones.

How can you make a successful stand-up show despite varying levels of knowledge from within the audience?
Making a successful stand-up comedy show from of a limited pool of references.


For my experimental comedy show, I wanted to experiment with references and how they are used when engaging an audience. References are a staple for comedians’ jokes. They offer a workbench for joke-crafting and are “the basic blocks of knowledge from which the joke is built” (Double,2014;221). References are a shorthand for getting across comedic images within moments, however as it requires the audience to have prior knowledge, it can be simultaneously inclusive and excluding.

Double writes: “In order to understand it, the audience must recognise whatever words, names, places, news stories, songs, movies, TV shows or other cultural artefacts it may contain. It’s a process of shared understanding” (Double,2014;221). These references are common in stand-up, with references to films, idioms and celebrities; however these references can be significantly more acute than these.
My experiment was to do a show based on a single pool of knowledge, in which consists of the references from a solitary source.  This project is similar to Phill Jupitus’  Star Wars show entitled Jedi Steady Go and also Paul Sinha’s The Sinha Carta, which comically discusses The Magna Carta. Doing similarly niche routines, are comedians like Robin Ince on science[1], Bridget Christie on feminism[2] as well as Mark Steel’s series of comedy lectures[3], alongside others.

From seeing this, my show was to do routines associated exclusively with the book and television series: Game Of Thrones. As an obsessive of the franchise, my show was to create references on which I could write an entire show exclusively about Game of Thrones.

The challenge is that the audience is divided in regards to their knowledge of the series, as they may be book fans, television fans or uninformed, thus there are three demographics that I have to perform to. Stewart Lee in 90’s Comedian refers to this situation as a “mixed-ability room” (Lee;2006). My experiment was to make all parties enjoy the show and have the audience simultaneously laugh, regardless of their prior Game Of Thrones knowledge. Did the audience need knowledge of a subject to laugh at it? I had to make Game Of Thrones universally funny for the non-fans whilst appeasing the well-read fans and negotiate between the differing knowledges. Failure, in this show, meant alienating a part of my audience. 

In this essay, I will discuss the writing process of the show in terms of how my research influenced my decisions whilst creating the show. I will also discuss the show itself and analysing the successes, the results and the effectiveness of my Game Of Thrones show.

The process of writing the show

Shared Knowledge, Bisociation and Springboarding.

The writing process was difficult, as I had the challenge of making a show entirely structured from Game Of Thrones. Whilst there was material that I could make about Westeros’ logic, the reference points had to be carefully selected. The skill in the show was to negotiate with the audience in both writing and performance. The writing had to be meaningful and fun for the audience that understood the references, but the context, set-up and inferences had to be coherently enjoyable for the uninformed.

Stewart Lee explains finding a perfect reference for his Scottish audience in Stand-Up Comedian. Lee needs a location which shows his knowledge in Scottish culture and chooses “Glamis Castle” (Lee,2006). He discusses this reference:

“[T]he trick was to find somewhere suitably obscure that would delight an audience by its apparent oddness, but at the same time ring enough bells to get laughs. I suppose that’s a trick many of us employ throughout our stand-up – trying to employ a reference or a structural device that’s just close enough to the edge of comprehensibility to make the audience feel flattered, whilst at the same time not doing something arcane that it deliberately freezes out the majority of the room”

What Lee describes as the “edge of comprehensibility” acts as my show’s starting point by only discussing one thing. This means that the writing must be universally funny, to stray away from this ‘edge’. Failure would mean toppling off and success would be a balancing act. This was my writing aim.

When I had workable references, the struggle was how to utilise them. The first hurdle was addressing the challenge within the room: the lack of ‘shared knowledge’ puts me at a disadvantage. Shared knowledge is a powerful tool to for a comedian, as it has the power to create to big laughs and unite the audience.

An example of this is to analyse how reincorporation gags work[4]: the comedian delivers information on a subject and the audience adopts this comedic knowledge. Later, the comedian will surprise the audience by referring back to the earlier joke, which simultaneously impresses the audience and makes them laugh.

Shared knowledge, however, does not always refer to the information given by comedians in a single performance. It may reference an earlier joke in the comedian’s career, like a catchphrase or routine[5] and the comedian plays with the audiences’ knowledge.  Steve Martin shows this in action in A Wild And Crazy Guy.

Steve: If you bought my album and came down here expecting me to do a-lot routines from the record and I didn’t do them, maybe one or two, there is a reason for that. I think performers have to move on. You just can’t do the same old material over and over and over. I think it’s a cheat to have to rely on the same stuff. And if you don’t agree with me: WELL EXCUUUUUSSSEE MEEEEEE [Roars of applause].
(Martin, 1978)

This joke gets a howling response, as it directly references his first album: Let’s Get Small, in which Martin (under comic conceit) askes the technical crew for lighting which the technicians ignore:
Steve: I come out here and can’t get a little co-operation from the BACKSTAGE CREW?!  [Laughter] EXCUUUUUSSSEE MEEE! [Laughter and applause]. 
(Martin, 1977)

As Martin references his own work, he gets an extreme response. Martin gains some laughs from his joke, but gains the extreme wave of applause by reemploying his renowned gag.  This shows that shared knowledge, when universal can have an impact, especially if it feels like an inside joke. It makes the audience feel like insiders. Whilst shared knowledge is lacking in my piece, I wondered if there was a way in which I could relay information to the audience. Then the uninformed could understand the references and laugh, as well as have the fans enjoying the inside information, making my show successful.

I then looked at Alexei Sayle as he has potentially alienating jokes. Sayle mentions Chekhov, Kierkegaard and Russian history. If Sayle is able to make these references without alienating his audience but gain laughter that means that my challenge would be achievable.
Sayle does a routine about Josef Stalin staying around his house in Cak, like he was an uncle. Sayle concludes his list of associations with:
Alexei: Just stay away from the fridge young Trotsky! [laughter]”.

This is an incredibly niche reference. It refers to Leon Trotsky being assassinated by an ice-pick by the orders of Stalin. There is a high risk to alienate the audience with this joke due to lack of knowledge (the stakes are drastically less than my show, but the effect is the same). Sayle proves, however, the knowledge is not wholly needed. Double says whilst discussing Sayle: “It’s wrong to underestimate an audience’s ability to cope with more difficult references” (Double,2014;232).  Sayle, as quoted in Double’s book, states: “It’s about finding the telling phrase”.

With gestures, inflections and joke-craft, Sayle infers lots of information upon the audience. The audience assumes the gist of the joke, without knowing specifics. This is a significant discovery. Double points out something significant: “All that matters is that the audience share the comedian’s understanding of the reference”(Double,2014;235). This meant that I could discuss the references which I wanted and the uninformed audience would infer the information, given the comedian’s context is strong enough.

With this, I looked at some of Jupitus’ Star Wars material to prove this hypothesis. Jupitus uses colloquialisms to describe Star Wars. Whilst discussing the Mos Eisley Cantina scene, he illustrates Luke as a nervous teenager:

Phill: Luke, behind him, is like your nephew. You know when you take your nephew to the pub for the first time and he is about 15? You take them in there and they got that look about them – that kinda [Gaunt, chewing and nervous expression]. [Laughter] They are really red. And-and you come around to them:  What would you like Steven?
Steven: Uh-Ah! A Lager?! [Laughter].

Jupitus demonstrates that the reference is not laughing at a Star Wars observation, but a real-life observation about teen-drinkers. Jupitus introduces the uninformed audience to the world of Star Wars with a recognisable situation.  Jupitus states: “I’ll tell the whole story of the film…so if you don’t know the story of the film-don’t worry-this is one long plot spoiler” (Jupitus,2015).

By using Koestler’s theory of “Bisociation”[6] I believed that I would be able to develop my material even further. Bisociation is where we take two incongruous “frames of references” (Koestler,1975;37) and intersect the two ideas for comic effect.

Koestler theorises that “the sudden bisociation of an idea or event with two habitually incompatible matrices will produce a comic effect, provided that the narrative, the semantic pipeline, carries the right kind of emotional tension” (Koestler,1975;51). Koestler has a diagram showing two matrices of logic (M1 and M2 respectively) intersecting and a line charting it where laughter (L) would be.

My theory was that if I use Game of Thrones as a single plane of logic, I can intersect this matrix with infinite of other ideas. M1 would always be Game Of Thrones but M2 could be anything, meaning that it could still be relatable for the uninformed. By having M2 bypassing the knowledge of M1, it still results in ‘L’. Through bisociation, my Game Of Thrones jokes can be unitedly funny.  Put into the correct gag structure, the audience would infer the appropriate Game Of Thrones knowledge for the joke.

Robert Newman demonstrates this bisociation during a performance of The Brain Show, a show about neuroscience. Newman establishes a bitesize fact about the brain and bisociates it with an incongruity. He uses the established logic as a starting point for his comedy and ‘springboards’ into a routine sparked by the bisociation. The audience do not need to know the neuroscience, just the incongruity which the comedian has highlighted.  This can be seen with a routine beginning with an absurd academic neurological claim that Japanese people cannot differentiate between fear and surprise. Newman ‘springs’ from this by impersonating Yoko Ono being unable to understand the emotionless Paul McCartney (Newman,2016). Neuroscience to Newman, as Game Of Thrones is to me, is simply a starting point.

Newman shows his ‘spring-boarding’ capabilities through his previous work as well. In History Of Oil, Newman discusses the Iraq invasion in World War One and discusses the idea of a “Special Poets battalion” and how they wouldn’t last very long at war. From this point his springs into a flight of fancy which builds upon the foundation of his bisociation:

Robert: You are in the map room…the general is saying:
General: IF the special poets battalion decides to pitch camp here (touches map) they’ll cut our supply line in two…Fortunately however they have decided to pitch camp here: where doppled shade falls on rustic farm equipment [laughs]… near an almond grove where walks a young shepherd’s boy with an unblemished complexion [laughter]”

By being faced with the problem of a broken shared knowledge and a disparate audience, through research I have found a way to discuss Game Of Thrones: through bisociating its logic with more universal subjects. Therefore the audience is only required to know of the ‘M2’ subject and the contextual information for Game Of Thrones that I infer. The audience then will interpret the necessary information into the bisociation. In theory, the audience should be able to follow. In short, I would be discussing Game Of Thrones, but I’m only discussing its unique incongruities to help fuel more universally engaging routines. I developed this throughout my entire show, but this can be seen within my ‘Westeros Sex-positions’ as they take the theme of Game Of Thrones, but ultimately relate to sex in a comedic context. This can also be seen with my bisociation between Sansa Stark singing Alanis Morrisette. The audience are not necessary laughing at the Game Of Thrones reference but at the incongruity of both ideas intertwined.

Jupitus summarises my findings with his explanation of Jedi Steady Go: “It starts off with someone explaining Star Wars to you for an hour, with jokes, that’s what the show was. So even if you hadn’t seen it – it still worked” (Jupitus,2015).

Creating material: The persona perspective.

With research in mind, I wanted two halves to the show: material based upon my persona relating to the subject and material based upon the storyline. With the persona segment, the audience would be initially laughing at my obsession, my passion to the world’s logic and not necessarily at Game Of Thrones itself. Therefore, this made the show universal for the audience, as the comic points comes from my persona, thus no prior knowledge is needed.

An example of this was my material about my getting my first ever kiss:

Matt: My first ever kiss was with my second-cousin….it was a disgusting thing to happen but equally I was like: YES I’M ONE OF THE BIGGEST FANS OF GAME OF THRONES...Anyone else in the room would get memorabilia for Game Of thrones. Not me – I go the extra mile. I make out with second cousin. [Pause, followed by laughter].

The stories are made funny because of my weird persona. The show is firmly rooted with Game Of Thrones, however my persona is a tool which transcends this and allows the audience to be united in laughter, as my jokes are aimed at myself. These jokes give justification for my obsession, as I demonstrate the reasons why I love it. My persona vividly works consistently through my piece but is established in this segment. 

Creating material: Narrative.

The second half of my show would be discussing the narrative of series two, to avoid spoilers. I wanted to avoid spoilers entirely to avoid the risk of alienating or aggravating an audience member who were currently reading or watching the series. In this half, though the risk of alienation was high, unexpectedly the writing for this was far easier compared to normal routines. Since I was discussing a pre-existing storyline, it was inherently easier to springboard from different routines, as the plot acts as a vehicle to get the next piece of material.
The plot which acts as a vehicle, is similar to Stewart Lee’s Pea Green Boat.  Lee reads a stanza and then narrates The Owl’s increasingly deranged logs (Lee,2007). Lee uses the poem to allow the character to escalate over the period of the show. Equally, this is similar to Sinha’s Magna Carta show, as he narrates this history of the document, in-between spring-boarding into different material (Sinha,2015).  This device was significantly useful in creating the second half of my show. The Game Of Thrones material slotted into place with easy-to-follow structure.

Manipulating responses.

I stumbled across a final way to reach out to my audience: by using verbal devices to allow the audience to understand when they are meant to laugh. Max Atkinson writes: “three out of every four displays of approval occur in response to about half a dozen verbal devices” (Atkinson,1984;xvii).
By using well-trodden comic devices, audiences will assumingly laugh at the punchline, regardless of their knowledge to Game Of Thrones, because it would sound like a joke. The joke could relate to the audience in separate way other than from the stem material.

To analyse these ‘packing’ techniques I looked at comic formulas, to find generic patterns of writing to manipulate audiences to know when to laugh. Ronald Wolfe lists comic devices: “Reversals, exaggerations, comparisons, switching, role reversals, surprise” (Wolfe,2003;22). I also looked Tony Allen’s rule of three: “Establish, reinforce, surprise” (Allen,2002;42) to develop material. These helped build my jokes as I made snappy lines which involved reveals, twists and surprises. I built material around the Game Of Thrones universe but connected to more relatable references, for example:
Matt:[Daenerys] has three dragons. One of them is called Drogon, the other is called Viserion and the other is Jeremy Clarkson.
That joke is a surprise as it breaks the pattern of dragon names and incongruously involves a celebrity, insinuating he is a dragon. Sophie Quirk writes that “audiences…understand that the completion of a three-part list is a prompt to applaud” (Quirk,2015;99) and by that logic that joke, and my others, would be funny and unifying. Upon this finding, I made this occur throughout my material, but especially during the narrative segment.

The Show 

My final performance featured formulas, persona and improvisations on my favourite subject, as I put research into practice. It was important to understand why I was attaining laughter: was it my writing or my performance merits? Were the moments which the experiment failed? Within the audience there were approximately sixteen people whom had watched the show, two people who’ve read the books and four people whom haven’t seen the show.

My writing:

I discovered that the more obsessed and nerdy I got towards a subject, the funnier I was, because I was performing the references passionately. Therein lays a two-fold comic response: people were laughing for either understanding the comical use of reference or they were laughing at the persona indulging his greatest pleasure. They were laughing at my enjoyment onstage; shown with the ending of the show, in which I was murdered onstage by men in cloaks (fitting with the Game Of Thrones nature).
Matt: Shit! [Laughter]
Two cloaked men come onstage and stab Matt.[Laughter]
Man: Jaime Lannister sends his regards. [Laughter throughout]
Matt falls down and has his throat slit.
Offstage mic: Valar Morghulis

This showed that it did not matter that the audience did not understand the references to Valar Morghulis or to Jaime Lannister: they were laughing at my obsession, my dedication and the onstage ridiculousness created by the performer. The uninformed understood that this was in the nature of Game Of Thrones and enjoyed my portrayal of it. This showed that the research into bisociation, inferences and contextual knowledge succeeded within my piece; helped by Newman and Jupitus.

In the moment:

I created universal laughs within the show by making instant jokes and reacting to what was happening in the room. Allen describes this as “The Now agenda” (Allen,2002;28). This could be talking to audience, commenting on a mistake or improvising upon an idea.  Naturally, these moments are improvised and they required me to think on their feet.
These ‘in-the-moments’ bits occur in my experimental piece, for example I make people laugh from messing-up a punchline:
Matt: ‘What’s The Wall?!’ Some of you might say it’s a massive plaice of ice which separates the wildings from the civilised people. And this Wall is entirely endorsed by Tonald Drump [titter]. Tonald Drump?! (High-Pitched voice) Messed up that punchline!  (Matt jumps and clicks heels) [laughter].
This was able to gain laughter by addressing the obvious mistake. Not only that, but I utilised my persona to rectify the mistake. It showed the audience it was impromptu and exclusive to that audience, which creates a group unity and a shared knowledge that I had made a mistake. This resulted in group laughter as they engaged with me for that moment, which transcended the Game Of Thrones theme.
Whilst these moments are improvised and organic, I strategically placed a section within the show to specifically bring these moments out. This was the Q&A session, in which the audience could ask me anything about Game Of Thrones. I had planned to make the audience laugh at my improvisation skills and they will be more inclined to laugh as they could see the unique wit. Since it was in-the-moment, laughter would come from the rapidity of the response, as opposed to the references. Whilst my ripostes were improvised, I had to make jokes from the questions that were asked:        
Audience[7]: What’s the name of two upcoming books in the Game Of Thrones series?
Matt: See-Good Question! It is-A-The Winds Of Winter And A Dream Of Spring. (Celebrates) WHAPOO!(Starts singing accidently) I’ve  got… Big Books and I cannot lie?! [Big Laugh].
The audience enjoyed this in particular as they didn’t see this coming, but more importantly and more hilariously is the fact that I, as a performer, did not know what I was about to say. This is shown with my hesitation and the inclination of my voice poses uncertainty. The audience could tell this was occurring, thus they laugh at my genuine surprise when those specific words came out. They saw the genuine challenge in that moment and I played with it, creating a unified laughter. Another example:
Audience:  Who do you think Jon Snow’s father is?
Matt: I believe it is Rhaegar Targaryen [Silent Pause]. It’s not funny but it is accurate [Huge Laughter].

Again the audience witness me reacting to a situation. In this case there was a lull after I had answered the question, ergo I pointed out what was occurring within the moment and created a unified laugh because of it. This honesty to the room and playing the moment with encompassed the success of unifying the audience.

Moments of where the experiment failed.

With my proposed theories on how formulas worked as well as my research, I had an idea of what the show would be like and how I would attain laughter. However there were some jokes which simply were not good. They may have fit the verbal devices, but they simply were not funny. This can be seen with this rule of three:
Matt: If you wanna be a bigger fan than me you have to murder a king, pillage a village and make out with your sister.
In terms of quality control, some of the jokes could have been removed from the set; however I was eager to see whether the verbal devices would allow the uninformed to laugh.  Although this did not create alienation, as it was universally unfunny, as opposed to being funny for a specific demographic. The audience were united in their lack of laughing.
There were moments of alienation, as I tested the audience’s knowledge upon my subject, to test the obsessed fans seen with:
Matt: Catelyn Stark is a lovely person, but if you get on the wrong side of her and she has a bit of a Stoneheart [titter].
This joke alienates the audience, as simply not many people understand the reference, as it is a book-exclusive reference. It does get a titter, as it sounds like a joke. Having prepared for this alienation, I did have something bring the audience back with.
Matt: That’s a joke for two people who have done the recommended reading...It’s not your time you’re wasting it’s mine [Laughter].
The whole show did not fail because of this, as I took a risk within this isolated joke and I was able to keep the momentum going, however, testing the audience’s knowledge proved to be a failure.
A negative effect of the formulaic writing was that it made my performance feel overly-rehearsed. My strength as a comedian is telling life-stories. An area where I struggle is memorising observational material and set-up-and-punch structures. This show was mainly compromised of the latter. Acknowledging this weakness, I militantly rehearsed these lines so I could remember the show, which affected my delivery. I sound relaxed when discussing a life-story and I sound wooden in my observational routines: it sounded like I was trying to remember the lines, and ergo sounded a little rushed and unnatural in the pace of my delivery.  One of Mark Thomas’ rules of comedy is: “This is an encounter not a recital” (Thomas,2015). Unfortunately my performance seemed to be like a recital. This didn’t fail the show but reduced the volume of laughter of what it could have been.  
Similarly, this lead to a couple of stutters in my speech pattern as well, which disrupts the rhythm of the jokes. This reduced the audience to a titter from a laugh, thus creating a negative impact to my show.
On the contrary, my mess-ups (for example my stutters) did not make the show worse but made the show more authentic and got laughter from it. It was an unintended necessity as a counter-balance to the over-rehearsed segments. In the mispronunciation of the ‘Donald Trump’ line, an example I mentioned earlier, I acknowledged the failure, played the moment and gained laughter. Another example:

Matt: Before-I actually came out here, Jack Lock, the first act tonight went:
Jack: Matt-are you dressed like Samwell Tarly?
Matt: (Grinning and flicking robes)No-I’m dressed as Jon Snow.
Jack: No –you are dressed as Jon S-eurgh.
Matt:(Hands on hips)I messed up that joke [laughs]. But imagine it was really funny [Big Laugh]. I think you got the gist of it anyway. But-eurgh: I’m Fat –there you go [Laughter].

From messing-up this situation, I was able to gain more laughs and potentially bigger laughs than I would have gotten from that joke alone. This is similar to Daniel Kitson, whom has a stutter which affects his performances. Kitson occasionally draws attention to it:
Daniel: Once it had b-been r-r-really really really cold. F-F-F-F-For about a week. You see, quite often having a stutter is quite annoying cos f-from time to time, like then, it will lend undue precedence to a seemingly innocuous word [Laughter]. I will repeat that sentence and I will emphasise the correct word, cos my stutter is a fucking idiot [big laughter]. My stutter has no grasp of grammar-Ey! [laughter] AND my stutter is a racist [laughter]…Once it had been really really cold for a week [Laughter and applause for saying the line]. Don’t do-Don’t do that! Fucking hell -It’s not a gang show- I’m not doing well – y’know? [Huge laughter] Fuck- what was that?!
Audience member: Oh bless him, he’s having a crack at it [Huge laughter] He’s so brave – he makes me wonder what I could do in my life [Huge Laughter]. We’ve all got our demons – haven’t we? We all have our demons [laughter]. He’s got a stutter and I'm a fuckwit- we’ve all got our demons! [Huge Laughter]
Ergo this shows that Kitson and I do not fail in this moment, but we actually make the show better as we play the moment, and make jokes which are not the ones we planned to put onstage. Rob Deering says “the material is just a means to an end” (Deering,2012) meaning that you do not have to be rigid with your material, as long as you are funny. Through failure, it made the entirety of the room laugh, ergo it could be stated that recovering from the failures, was significant in uniting the audience.


After the experiment, I have observed some key things. I discovered a generic rule of comedy is that you can discuss anything in stand-up. It matters not what the subject is. Anything can be placed onstage and made funny. Katherine Ryan states “everything can be approached in the right honest way…There are parts of anything which people can relate to and can be funny” (Ryan,2014). Regardless of knowledge people could relate to it in some way, whether they we responding to the source material or to my persona. Comedians have successfully discussed more obscure and more controversial subjects than Game Of Thrones.
Overall my experiment was successful. Despite some joke failures, I manage to keep a consistent flow of comedy throughout the entire performance from the entire audience. Not at one point was a demographic truly alienated; there may have been some disparate knowledge towards some references, but the audience understood my interpretation of the references. Through inferences and context my writing was able to succeed.
I feel that the formulaic responses did not work as planned, simply as it did not work to my styling. The audience were more accepting, the more obsessed I was towards the subject- as it was natural. The formulas however distanced me from the material and the jokes in place were not good enough to make up for it.
In conclusion, my biggest finding of the show is not a generic comedy rule, but a personal one. I believe my biggest success with dealing with the disparate-levelled audience was by playing the moment. By doing this, it allowed an instantaneous shared knowledge with the audience which unified them beyond their Game Of Thrones knowledge. This is partly to do with my stagecraft and partly my persona, both of which trump the bisociations and written material, as they create an instant connection with the audience. The writing makes a gigantic effort, but the experimental truly succeeded with the skilled improvisations.
Word Count: 5000 

Allen, Tony: Attitude: Wanna Make Something of it? - The Secret of Stand-up Comedy.  2002, Published by Gothic Image Publications, Glastonbury.
Atkinson, Max: Our Master’s Voices: The Language of Body Language and Politics. 1984, Published by Meuthen, London.
Christie, Bridget: A Book For Her. 2015, Published by Penguin Random House UK, London.
Double, Oliver: Getting The Joke: The Inner Workings Of Stand-Up Comedy. 2014, Second edition. Published by Methuen, London.
Double, Oliver: Stand-Up! On Being A Comedian. 1997, Published by Methuen, London.
Koestler, Arthur: The Act Of Creation. 1970 (Picador Edition), Published by Pan Books Ltd., London.
Lee, Stewart: How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian. 2010, Published by Faber and Faber Ltd., London.
Quirk, Sophie: Why Stand-Up Matters. 2015, Published by Bloomsbury, Meuthen, London.
Wolfe, Ronald: Writing Comedy: A Guide To Scriptwriting for TV, Radio, Film and Stage.  2003, Revised Edition, Published by Robert Hale Ltd., London.

Live Performance[8]

Christie, Bridget: A Book For Her. 24th August 2015, The Stand 1, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015.
Jupitus, Phill: In Conversation With Oliver Double. 29th September 2015, Templeman Library Lecture Theatre 1, British Stand-Up Comedy Archive. Canterbury.
Newman, Robert: The Brain Show. 13th February 2016, Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury.
Thomas, Mark: The Linda Smith Lecture. 20th May 2015, Gulbenkian Theatre, British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, Canterbury.

Recorded Performance

Goldsmith, Stuart and Deering, Rob: Stuart Goldsmith- The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast: 1 - Rob Deering. 19th March 2012, Itunes. Podcast.
Herring, Richard and Ryan, Katherine: Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast- Episode 46: Katherine Ryan. 8th October 2014, ITunes. Podcast.
Ince, Robin: Happiness Through Science. 2013, Go Faster Stripe, GFS-48. DVD.
Jupitus: Phill: The Stand-Up Show. 15th April 1995, BBC1. VOB.[9]
Lee, Stewart: Pea Green Boat.  2007, Go Faster Stripe, GFS-4 .CD.
Lee, Stewart:  Stand-up Comedian. 2005 2 Entertain Video, Avalon Television, 2005. DVD.
Lee, Stewart: 90’s Comedian. 2006, Go Faster Stripe, GFS-1. DVD.
Kitson, Daniel:  The Stand- August 2005.  2005, Bandcamp[10]. Album.
Martin, Steve: A Wild And Crazy Guy. 1978, Published by Warner Bros. Records. Album.
Martin, Steve: Let’s Get Small. 1977, Published by Warner Bros. Records. Album.
Newman, Robert: History Of Oil. 2006, Published by Tiger Aspect Productions. DVD.
Oswalt, PattonFinest Hour. 2011, Published by Comedy Central Records. Album.
Oswalt, PattonWerewolves And Lollipops. 2007, Published by Sub Pop Records. Album.
Sayle, Alexei: Cak. 1982, Published by Springtime/Island Records. Album.
Sinha, Paul: The Sinha Carta. 2015, BBC Radio 4 Extra. Audio.
Steel, Mark: The Mark Steel Lectures: Series 2: People With A Passion. 2001, BBC Radio 4. Audio.
Steel, Mark: The Mark Steel Revolution. 1998, BBC Radio 4. Audio.
Hoss, Matt: Matt Hoss Experimental Comedy Part 1. 16th March 2016,  - [Accessed 16th March 2016]   
Hoss, MattMatt Hoss Experimental Comedy part 2. 16th March 2016, -  [Accessed 16th March 2016].

[1] Robin Ince’s shows largely consist about science and philosophy particularly: Happiness Through Science. (Ince,2013)
[2] Christie has three live shows about feminism: A Bic For Her, An Ungrateful Woman and A Book For Her. A Book For Her is also the title of her book on feminism (Christie,2015).
[3] Mark Steel has informative lectures on famous revolutions (Steel,1998)  and on historically important people like Da Vinci, Aristotle and Karl Marx (Steel,2001).
[4] Reincorporation gags are explained by Double in Stand-Up! On Being A Comedian (Double,1997;230).
[5] Patton Oswalt does a routine in The Finest Hour (Oswalt,2011) about the reaction he gets from his routine about KFC Famous bowls in Werewolves And Lollipops (Oswalt,2007).
[6] Bisociation is a term coined by Koestler in The Act Of Creation (Koestler;1975,35)
[7] In my transcriptions, the performer and the characters they possess are shown in bold and underlining. Audience are shown in italics.
[8] Each live performance, for the sake of academic accuracy, was annotated upon immediately after each show.
[9] Ideally, I would have liked to have seen Jupitus’ Jedi Steady Go however it was never filmed nor written down.
[10] Accessed through the Bandcamp website: