Tag Archives: Stand-up comedy

What’s the point of big ideas?

Scott Jeffery (noun):  Carbon-based biped of Earth. Has a PhD and teaches sociology. Often wonders how this happened.

First things first, I never expected to become an academic. When I was young I was told I was smart, perhaps very smart, but that never really translated into academic achievement. What I did know, even as a very young kid, was that I loved big ideas. Give me a big philosophical concept-Why are we here? What is reality? What is the purpose of art? – And I was happy as a pig in shit. If the shit was made out of abstract philosophical concepts. (Feces – Antifeces – Synfeces. The Hegelian Diarrhoealectic)

To me, knowledge was a kind of food. An idle thought, that’s like a starter, and then a theory, that’s your main course. For pudding I might have a hypothesis. Notions and conceits, they’re like a light-snack, something you might have for supper. The point is I dug philosophy and art and poetry and foreign films and just thinking and talking about big ideas. I didn’t JUST like those things, I liked a lot of stupid, ephemeral shit as well, but my favourite thing was when those two worlds collided. Really smart, stupid shit. Like Monty Python or Woody Allen or that Daffy Duck cartoon where he’s talking to the animator and keeps getting rubbed out and redrawn (by the way, it’s called Duck Amuck and you can watch it here).

My point being, I loved all that shit already. In my own time. For fun. School wasn’t a place where you learned, it was a place that distracted you from learning.

(I’m being overly emphatic by the way. I did have good teachers, great teachers even, but this is a blog post not a peer-reviewed journal article so get off my back, lady!)

So I didn’t get school. School, as any sane child knows, is boring. My entire early education was marked by could-try-harder syndrome. I don’t know if that’s a real thing, I just made it up. If I liked a project and wanted to do it then I would produce outlandishly detailed presentations like a ten-page critique of the history of censorship when I was thirteen. Of course, it helped that I had a love of horror movies, so I had an emotional stake in whether the British Board of Film classification wanted to stop me seeing splinter go into someone’s eye (which I totally did) but still, this was in the days before the internet, so a guy had to go out of his way to research that shit properly, dig? Continue reading

Let us rest and catch our breath a while…

Laughter on the Outskirts, August 1st-25th, 19.45, Jekyll and Hyde

Hello humans!

Nth Mind has been rather quiet for a while. Events in the meat world have meant that this blog has had to take a back-seat.  These events include finishing my thesis and handing it in for the examiners, with a viva set for late September. So you will have to forgive me if am both drained and deranged. But fear not, gentle reader, posts existing at various stages of completion include a three-part exploration of the economic, social and philosophical implications of robots; a delve into Disney’s darker and more deranged cinematic output; a theory on the two modes of transcendental style in cinema; an exploration of the links between transgender and posthumanism; an examination of language as a control mechanism by way of Genesis P-Orridge and William S. Burroughs (“language is a virus from outer-space”), and more. Towards the end of the year I will also be writing about my Quixotic attempt to watch 500 films in one year. I warn you now: there will be unnecessary charts and graphs. With the thesis in the bag (writing-wise, if not examination-wise) there should be some time to hammer these out.

Not in August however, when I leave the world of failing miserably to become an academic behind for a while to enter the world of failing miserably to become a comedian, The show Laughter on the Outskirts (with partner-in-crime Woodward) starts at the Edinburgh Festival in August. It’s on at 19.45 everyday, from the 1st to 25th August at the Jekyll and Hyde, Hanover Street. It’s free! And there’s also the possibility of getting a free souvenir fanzine!

Not that academia and comedy can’t mix. I’m super-excited to be taking part in one of the many Bright Club shows at the festival, all of which are worth your time. More details on Bright Club and its inspired mix of academic research presented as stand-up comedy here.

I’m also involved in a few other bits and pieces, details of which are below.

And that’s about all. if any regular readers of the blog (are there any regular readers of the blog?) find themselves in Edinburgh during August then please come along, track me down, buy me drinks, and chat about posthumanism, comedy, comics, occultism, and all the other fine diversions Nth Mind specialises in. If you are not in Edinburgh in August I promise I will be writing about those same things in September.

If I survive…

Dates, dates, dates:

August 01- Laughter on the Outskirts, 19.45 Jekyll and Hyde Continue reading

Laughter on the Outskirts is coming!

Hello Humans.

On Friday the 15th of February, 2013 the world trembled as Laughter on the Outskirts made it’s world premier at the Leicester Comedy festival. A rough beast, slouching towards Edinburgh to be born. Over the course of an hour the charming enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in human flesh and skin Woodward and I said things with our mouth-holes and moved our meat-sacks around to entertain the audience. Paradigms were shattered, unthought ideas were thought, the falcon could not hear the falconer, and mere anarchy was loosed upon the world.

At the very least people chuckled and no-one died.

So that was good. I am excited to see how it develops over the course of the Edinburgh Festival in August. That’s right, I said it! Woodward and Jeffery: Laughter on the Outskirts will be playing there every day. More details to follow, but it can’t hurt to start spreading the word now can it? Come along, all of you! It will be free too!

In the meantime I wanted to use this post to talk about jokes. Specifically my joke about the French philosopher Michel Foucault. Not immediate comedy gold, granted. But I was pleased to see th joke finally work properly. or how I’d always imagined it would work in my head even though it never necessarily did.

Michel Foucault

Foucault if he was texting you

So this post will either be an interesting and entertaining consideration of the mechanics of comedy or painfully solipsistic self-examination. Potentially both. But, if you are still with me, I’ll continue. If you’re not with me then I can’t say I blame you, so instead here is a link to a youtube video of giant anconda regurgitating a  cow. It’s pretty amazing. Continue reading

Joke Writing and the Exquisite Corpse

A few weeks back I wrote a post about applying the cut-up technique to comic books where I mentioned  Robert B. Ray’s excellent book The Avant-garde find Andy Hardy. In that book Ray highlights the surrealist’s use of a parlour game they called Exquisite Corpse,  a method of collectively assembling words or images; the name of which derived from a phrase that was created when they first played the game: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (“The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.” (thanks wikipedia!)

Here’s what they have to say over at exquistecorpse.com:

Among Surrealist techniques exploiting the mystique of accident was a kind of collective collage of words or images called the cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse). Based on an old parlor game, it was played by several people, each of whom would write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal part of it, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution. The technique got its name from results obtained in initial playing, “Le cadavre / exquis / boira / le vin / nouveau” (The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine). Other examples are: “The dormitory of friable little girls puts the odious box right” and “The Senegal oyster will eat the tricolor bread.” These poetic fragments were felt to reveal what Nicolas Calas characterized as the “unconscious reality in the personality of the group” resulting from a process of what Ernst called “mental contagion.” At the same time, they represented the transposition of Lautréamont’s classic verbal collage to a collective level, in effect fulfilling his injunction– frequently cited in Surrealist texts–that “poetry must be made by all and not by one.”

The ‘mystique of accident’ was of course explored in the previous post on cut-ups. In this post I want to apply the exquisite corpse technique to joke-writing. That’s just how I roll people. Deal with it!


I posted on twitter and facebook for people to give me two nouns, two adjectives, and two verbs. No-one who replied had any idea of the purpose of this exercise. Some participants used the same two words for each category (e.g. crap and shit). Including these repeated words would have lessened the potential for chaos and real chance in the exercise so they were eliminated. All in all I ended up with the following terms 18 adjectives, 18 verbs and 18 nouns. I wrote these down on bits of paper, folded them and sorted them into piles. I then picked adjectives, nouns, and verbs from their respective piles at random and inserted them into the following four classic joke structures. Naturally it would be possible to take issue with or alter which nouns, verbs and adjectives could be replaced in each joke but really? People are starving in Africa you know. Let’s just crack on with this shall we? I decided on the following frameworks:

1.Knock, knock!

Who’s there?


NOUN who?


2. Why did the NOUN cross the road?


3. How many NOUNS does it take to change a lightbulb?

Two. One to VERB it and one to VERB ADJECTIVE.

4. A NOUN and a NOUN walk into a bar.

The barman says, “VERB ADJECTIVE”.



Knock, knock!

Who’s there?


Mahogany who?

Mahogany running fluffy dwarf.


Knock, knock!

Who’s there?


Dog who?

Dog rebuke pensive cat.


Why did the mountain cross the road?

To cry to the mellifluous pig.


Why did the corpse cross the road?

To melt the abject raconteur.


Why did the apple cross the road?

To wash the scenic house.


Why did the elbow cross the road?

To climax the exquisite door.


How many barrows does it take to change a lightbulb?

Two. One to boom it and one to exist wobbly.


How many crabs does it take to change a lightbulb?

Two. One to smile and one to rotundly calibrate.


How many tables does it take to change a lightbulb?

Two. One to run and one to flip stinky.


A conker and a music walk into a bar.

The barman says, “Read colourful”.


A thalidomide and a book walk into a bar.

The barman says, “smelly sighing”.



As I’m sure you agree, this experiment in surrealist joke writing techniques has resulted in the most hilarious jokes humankind has ever witnessed! Naturally I will now give up writing jokes the traditional linear single-author manner and begin writing all my material in this collaborative, non-linear manner. Next time I appear on stage these are the only jokes I will be telling. Maybe not though (although that might be an interesting follow-up experiment at some point). At the very least we’ve ended up with some interesting poetic non-sequiturs. Who amongst us has not wanted to witness a dog rebuke a pensive cat? Or “cry to the mellifluous pig”? If any comedians reading this are willing to risk it and use these punch lines please feel free. They are a group effort after all, products of the hive mind/nth mind rather than a single author. Personally I would be interested to hear how they went.

In the meantime, if anyone else has any suggestions for surrealist/automatic writing techniques we might apply to jokes then please get in touch. because clearly I have little else to do! Thanks for reading (and to everyone who offered their adjectives, nouns and verbs!) and see you on the other side.

Edinburgh Festival 2012

The Edinburgh Festival is but  couple of weeks away and I will be there, scrabbling around after 5 and 10 minute open-spots like a hobo searching a bin for the butt-ends of cigarettes. Unnecessarily unpleasant metaphors aside, these shows are on all through the festival and will feature a vast cheese-board of delicious comedians for you to sample, many of them less bitter-tasting, less pungent smelling and more amusing and less riddled with blue veins than me. So go along to them if you are there and support live comedy! It’s an entirely different experience from watching it on television, where the breakdowns and deaths are minimised and almost no-one gets their knob out. Out here in the booze and rain-sodden streets of Edinburgh however, you never know what you are going to see.

I will also, at some point, post some recommendations for shows, but I haven’t seen any yet because, you know, it hasn’t started.

Anyway, here are some dates. If you wold like to come and see me that would be nice. I also accept pints of beer, intoxicants, free books, food, moral support and job offers. See you there!

For news, reviews, live, real-time emotional discombobulation and updates on any new spots I might be doing you can follow me on twitter.


Monday, 30th-Red Raw@The Stand, Edinburgh

Tuesday 31st-Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow


Wednesday 1st- The Newbest of the Newbees, The Beehive Inn, 12.00-13.00

Thursday 2nd- Aberdeen vs. Glasgow vs. The World II  The Newsroom, 16.30-17.30

Friday 3rd- The Newbest of the Newbees, The Beehive Inn, 12.00-13.00

Wednesday 8th- The Newbest of the Newbees, The Beehive Inn, 12.00-13.00

– Fresh Faces at the Free Fringe, Southsider, 16.30-17.30

– Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection, City Cafe, 21.15-22.15

Thursday, 9th- Fresh Faces at the Free Fringe, Belushi’s, 18.00-19.00

Friday, 10th- NTFF Comedy, The Wayside, 17.00-19.00 (I am compering this one!)

Saturday, 11th- Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection, City Cafe, 21.15-22.15

Wednesday, 15th- The Newbest of the Newbees, The Beehive Inn, 12.00-13.00

– Aberdeen vs. Glasgow vs. The World II  The Newsroom, 16.30-17.30

Thursday, 16th- Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection, The Free Sisters, 17.30-18.30

Friday, 17th- NTFF Comedy, The Wayside, 17.00-19.00

Thursday, 23rd- The Newbest of the Newbees, The Beehive Inn, 12.00-13.00

– NTFF Comedy, The Wayside, 17.00-19.00

Saturday, 25th- The Newbest of the Newbees, The Beehive Inn, 12.00-13.00








New Stand-up Video and a New Date

Haven’t posted for a while. The siren call of my thesis deadline has most of my attention right now. So this is just filler really. This is the video footage of me at Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow, 26/06/2012. Hope you enjoy it. Anyway, sometime soon I will be posting the dates I’m doing spots at the Edinburgh Festival. Got around twenty so far, with more to come. I’ll also post some recommendations for things to go and see if you are there. Things that don’t involve me. You know, funnier things. But that has to wait, academia beckons. See you anon.


Coming up…


Monday, 30th-Red Raw@The Stand, Edinburgh

Tuesday 31st-Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow


Watch this space…

Stand Up Shamanism Part 2: Shamanic Comedy vs. Fascist Comedy


To be fair that title is deliberately provocative and designed for optimal attention-grabbing value. So lets say right off the bat that I am in now way suggesting that any of the comedians talked about here are actual fascists. This is just for fun and because I like being overly analytical about comedy. Also, there’s a built in double bind which means if you do get offended by my lighthearted assertion that certain forms of comedy and comedians are ‘fascist’ and think I shouldn’t be saying such things then that would indeed make you look like a fascist.

So I’m just going to start and if you are the kind of person who has an irony deficiency (seewhatIdidthere?) then you should probably look away now. Unfortunately, if you do suffer from an irony deficiency then the chances are you will not know this. That’s one of the symptoms. For the rest of you, what follows is an irritatingly contrived attempt to come up with a theory of comedy I will no doubt simply discard and disown as soon as I’ve written. For I am a multiplicity damn it!

Hopefully the writing won’t get too florid and the theory too abstract but it is me writing this, so you can’t say you weren’t prepared if it does. Luckily I’m going to whack a load of videos of comedians in there to illustrate the argument so that should take the edge off things. Basically, the question I want to ask here is, “what is the point of comedy”?

The answer seems obvious; to make people laugh. But that’s a deceptive answer isn’t it? Because Bernard Manning made loads of people laugh and the general consensus at this particular historical juncture is that he was a fat racist cunt. Albeit a fat racist cunt with good timing. So it can’t be that the role of comedy is simply to make people laugh. There seems to be what we could call a moral hierarchy.

Enter Micheal McIntyre. Continue reading

Tpot Freedom Sessions and The Stand: It’s been a busy week…

Hello humans.

It’s been a while. Sit down, let’s catch up. Tea? Coffee? How do you take that? There you go. Some biscuits on that plate too if you want. Just help yourself. No not those ones. They are for me.

So let’s begin. Its been a busy week. Thesis continues apace as the October deadline looms. Hopefully when I start editing it down-because its way, way, too long right now- the academic excess fat can be put up here on the blog. I believe the theory is that they should be turned into journal articles to further my academic standing. Or something. But information wants to be free! And besides, the blog affords more opportunities for digression and humour.  Because obviously I pepper my academic writing with knob gags.

Its standard academic practice! Everyone does it!

My actual point being that I have nothing to report from the realm of research for a while. But when I do, you will be first to know. I know you have an unquenchable thirst for writing that considers the evolution of the superhero through the lens of posthumanist theories. Considering the evolution of the superhero through the lens of posthumanist theories is very fashionable right now. It’s all those hipster kids down at the discotheque ever talk about on their blackphones and i-berries.

For now though: Comedy News!

ITEM! Started the week with my first ever open spot at The Stand‘s Red Raw night. The Stand, for those who don’t know is a comedy club in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. I was on in Edinburgh, which is an amazing place and where I have seen two of my comedy pantheon-Stewart Lee and Simon Munnery– performing. So being in the same Green Room as those two, and many more besides, was very exciting. basically the Stand’s ethos is that they take  comedy seriously, paradoxical as that sounds.

So yes, it was an open spot night, but it was an open spot night at proper comedy club The Stand. So I was more nervous than I’ve been in a long time and desperate to make a good impressions. A nice tight five minutes with no lulls. And while I don’t know if I necessarily managed that it was great fun and with a proper audience, a roomful rather than a handful. Not that performing to a handful isn’t fun and instructive itself of course.

It seems to have gone down well though. I’ve been offered a few more open spots anyway, (dates can be found at the bottom of the post) including a ten minute spot at the end of July. So I’ve gone up by 5 minutes! Sort of. For that one spot anyway. It is, of course, entirely possible that a full ten minutes at a Stand Red Raw night might be the dizziest height my stand up career ever reaches. This is fine. two years ago it never would have occurred to me that i would be anything but an audience member in there anyway. So I guess there’s a lesson in there about following you dreams and you will one day shit rainbows or some such. Got a thing you love to do? Or have always suspected you would love to do? Go out, dear reader, do it now! For life is short, and one day you will be nought but dust.

(This is  why I failed as a motivational speaker)

ITEM! Wednesday night I spent an enjoyable hour and a half talking to Peter Wood for his new series of podcasts. You can keep up with Pete on his blog or follow him on twitter and see where he’s playing next. If you can bear to listen to it an hour and a half of me talking about comedy-lord knows I couldn’t -then that’s here. He also interviewed the excellent Robin Valo (who blogs and tweets too- my, aren’t we all modern?) which you can listen to here.

ITEM! Friday was the filming for the inaugural Tpot Freedom Sessions show/website/multimedia juggernaut. Our tagline is: Teapot Freedom Sessions: Smashing you repeatedly in the face with a fist made of entertainment. At least that’s what it’s going to be on this blog. More news when it’s all cut together but the Facebook page is up here and I will post more details when the website goes online early next month. The short version: to film a show that can be broadcast with an accompanying website where viewers can find what would effectively be DVD extras: interviews with the performers, extra live footage. A mixture of music and comedy filmed up at Tpot Music Studios out in the middle of deepest darkest Perthshire, the day was a roaring success. But as the things not edited yat and this post is about stand-up I’m only going to talk about that aspect of it here. Except to briefly plug the bands who were on and urge you to like their Facebook pages, but their albums, go see them live, and write them inappropriately suggestive fan mail. So thanks to The Boston Tea Party, The Creeping Ivies, Homesick Aldo and the enigmatic Family of Ghosts who have no internet presence whatsoever which means we can safely call them an underground band. They would like that.

Anyway, we made up a room in the house to be the comedy club for the evening by shoving in a higgledy=piggledy mix of chairs and sofas and bean bags. An intimate venue is the polite way to put it. Then we shoved it full of Perthshire reprobates. Who were, let us say, a lively crowd. it made for a fun gig. Four of Scotland’s up and coming comedy talents were good enough to come through. So I’d like to say a big thanks once again to Dave Nelder, Ray Fordyce, Genevieve Cytko, James McIntosh and Les Sinclair for their time and their jokes. Everyone did amazingly. And thank you too to the audience, who were supportive, quite drunk and occasionally a bit mental. But in the best possible way. It certainly made for a good show and I cant wait to see the footage. More details on that as and when. In the meantime click on all those comedian’s names, see what they are doing, go and see them live, become their friends, but them drinks, write them letters that go way past inappropriately suggestive into the realms of Sadean pornography. They will love you for it. Trust me.

For my part, aside from being presenter for the day, which was interesting, fun but a bit weird, I was compeer for the comedy section which was a whole new experience for me and an eye-opener. mostly because my comedy is, if not slow exactly, then I guess ‘considered’ whereas comepering for this to an audience well on their way from ‘merry’ to ‘fucked’ on the Inebriatometer I felt I had to go full tilt. A lot of jumping around was involved, a lot more shouting and, for some reason, a lot more swearing than usual. I enjoyed it anyway, and I’m looking forward to the next one. So keep an eye out for that and come visit the countryside!

Don’t forget to like the Facebook page and keep up with what’s going on.

FINAL ITEM! The mystery that is Davey Mitchell has a venue booked for this years fringe. Last year he was based at The Blind Poet, where I spent several happy afternoons, drinking, doing a five-minute spot and then watching and chatting with an insane variety of different acts, at various levels of experience, and it was always an enjoyable gig. Even when there was only three people to play to, there was a kind of benignly anarchic egalitarian atmosphere. All comers were welcome. No news yet on the time but when I know I will tell you all and you can get down there and support the show. All of the comedians mentioned above will no doubt be there ar some point so again, follow their blogs, tweets, face droppings and all that.

Support live comedy people! It’s good for the soul.

Anyway, this is my blog, so fuck those guys! I will be around leaving my comedy smearings on walls at the dates below. And during August I will be tweeting my random whereabouts at the festival. So if you like this blog or you like my comedy come along. if you like this blog but you don’t like my comedy, come along anyway. You can tell me I’m not funny and that we can discuss the philosophical implications of the posthuman instead. Although both is preferable.

Over and out.

Upcoming dates!


Monday, 11th-  Comedy Variety Show@City Cafe, Edinburgh

Monday 18th- Red Raw@The Stand, Edinburgh

Tuesday 19th- Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow

Tuesday, 26th-Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow


Tuesday 31st-Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow


I will be running around the Edinburgh Festival. Follow me on Twitter to find out when and where!

City Cafe Gig 09/04/2012

Haven’t posted anything recently as the thesis has been eating up my time so this is a bit of filler. Here’s the video from the City Cafe  09/04/2012. Still very much a work in progress this one, although I am quite happy with the final couple of minutes. And it’s nice to have a new set. Meanwhile, I have been  working on polishing the five minutes I will have to do at The Stand on the 21st of this month. Very exciting, so I’m determined to make it the tightest, shiniest five minutes I can. Nothing new, just tried and tested stuff for the most part. But in a different order. Saying that, there’s a fair bit of it that has never been caught on film so there should be few surprises if you have had the misfortune to see me before! Come along, bring your friends, etcetera. Upcoming dates can be found below the video.


Monday, 7th-  Comedy Variety Show@City cafe, edinburgh

Monday, 21st- Red Raw@The Stand, Edinburgh

Monday, 28th- Comedy Variety Show@City cafe, edinburgh


Monday, 11th-  Comedy Variety Show@City cafe, edinburgh

Tuesday, 26th-Red Raw@The Stand, Glasgow

Some Random Thoughts on Stand-Up

I haven’t written anything about comedy in a while so I though I should in case people forget I’m a comedian and just think I am posthumanist anarchist academic. Which I am, but I’m a posthumanist anarchist academic comedian. You know, like Micheal Mcintyre.

On that note, I’ve always wondered when do you get to say that you’re a comedian. Is it  A) when you get paid? Or B) from the minute you drag yourself up on stage for another five-minute spot of potential public humiliation, mass apathy, or, if things are going well, actual proper laughs? I’m going to go with option B. Otherwise there’s no point in writing this post.

So anyway, its been a busyish month-for me anyway-of comedianing (that’s what it’s called!) so this is a brief summary and some thoughts which will hopefully be more entertaining than self-indulgent. At any rate as usual everything will be hyper-linked; all the nights I was at are regular and well worth your custom. There are lots of brilliant comedians you’ve not heard of yet out there that you can catch at these nights.

And then there’s me.

(If you haven’t seen me, or need some means of distracting an elderly loved one for five minutes, there are videos of me here) Continue reading