Hey! Every couple of years or so I get around to writing a new comedy book of original material for performers to use in their magic and mindreading acts. My new book is called The Comedy Climax: Visual gags, one liners, tricks and routines to make you memorable! As usual, it’s been designed by Phil Shaw, design editor at Magicseen magazine and he’s given it the retro feel that I love. Nice one Phil!
This book (printed and ebook versions) contains guest contributions from the brilliant Nathan Kranzo, the hilarious Mel Mellers, and the fabulous Mike McClean.
Mike has contributed a quick and simple gag/routine called: The Mindreading Chair, which he uses in his cruise ship act every single time he performs. It’s simple but will get you a BIG laugh!
The Mel Mellers effect is P.A.T.E.O Socks – a great stand-up routine which he uses in has cabaret shows and on the ships. Once again, a very simple effect, but one that has a big impact.
Nathan Kranzo’s contribution is purely a gag which he uses for kids AND adults. All you’ll need is a miniature air-horn and you’ve got a great little thing to do between tricks!
The printed version of The Comedy Climax will soon be available through wholesalers for magic shops, and it will also be available as an ebook version too. I’ll keep you posted!
Well, here’s a bit of news – my next novel Confessions of an Invisible Man is now going to be launched towards the end of January and it’s all because of that flippin virus! As many of the major publishers have been holding back launches of their titles, it seems that almost a thousand books are being launched before Xmas! Yeah, so that means small publishers like Chronos get squeezed out by the big corporate bully-boys! I’m not sure if they are bully-boys, but it certainly sounds dramatic!! So don’t despair dear fans, the book is coming soon.
So what is Graham doing meanwhile I hear you all ask? Well, I’m currently watching series 3 of The Bridge (on BBC iPlayer) which is brilliant. I’ve now put brown leather trousers at the top of my Xmas list. Fans of The Bridge will know why!
But I haven’t just been watching the telly 24/7, I recently finished a screenplay for a movie that will probably never be made: Kendo & George, about iconic wrestler Kendo Nagasaki and his manager George – written by myself and Nigel Fitzhenry.
I’ve also been writing my next comedy ebook: The Comedy Climax which should be out in a week or so. It’s currently being designed by ace designer Phil Shaw on his private island just outside Malton.
It’s choc-a-block with one liners, visual gags and some easy tricks for magicians and mindreaders to use in their shows. The last one I wrote did fantastically well, with all six issue selling out within a matter of months. Er, yes, I’m joking!!
This new ebook has contributions from the sensational Mike McClean, fabulous Nathan Kranzo, stupendous Gary Jones and mediocre Mel Mellers! Sorry, I mean Marvellous Mel Mellers!
Right, I’ve got to go now as I need to cook some sausages which went past their use-by date yesterday. They won’t kill me will they?
So, at last, the first draft of the Kendo & George screenplay is done. My co-writer, Nigel Fitzhenry and I have put a big effort into this movie screenplay and we’re pleased with how it’s turned out – at least for the first draft! It’s now been sent off to one of the UKs greatest-ever comedy writers (sorry I have to be a bit vague at the moment, due to confidentiality!) who is our ‘script advisor’, so we’re waiting for any info back from him. The next step is to send off the synopsis and screenplay to several of our contacts in the industry and we’re fortunate to have a couple of movie companies interested in seeing our work, so at least we aren’t having to sent it out blind.
As a little taster, here’s a bit of our synopsis:
Two men – one touching, heart-warming and often hilarious TRUE STORY.
Peter Thornley (aka Kendo Nagasaki) Adopted at birth and after a far from idyllic childhood in Crewe, Cheshire, Peter Thornley grew up to become one of the world’s most famous wrestlers.
Inspired by Japanese Judo master, Kenshiro Abbe, Peter becomes a student of meditation and after an operation to amputate part of a finger puts a stop to a promising career in judo and weightlifting – Peter creates his alter-ego, Kendo Nagasaki, and his career as one of the most iconic show wrestlers ever, begins.
Watched by millions on TV throughout the 1970s and 80s, Kendo Nagasaki – a mysterious, masked Samurai warrior – remained an enigma, never giving an interview and remaining resolutely anonymous, despite countless attempts to reveal the man behind the mask.
Gorgeous George Gillette Flamboyant, outspoken and outwardly gay, George was an iconic figure in the London scene during a time when homosexuality was illegal and homophobia was rife in the establishment and society in general. Never one to shy away from the limelight, George is well known and well-loved throughout the capital’s gay community. His personal life is chaotic and his life spirals downwards, eventually ending up with George living in his local burger bar. And then he meets Kendo Nagasaki…
And there’s a lot more. This is the story of Kendo and George…
I’ll keep you posted of developments as they happen!
Halloween is an annual holiday in the USA, celebrated each year on October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward-off ghosts. Imagine hundreds of people all moaning and groaning, all dressed in strange outfits. A bit like pension day at the Post Office.
Halloween of course, is the time when people all sit around to watch a horror movie. But which movies are the scariest of all-time? I’ve put together a list of the creepiest halloween movies I could think of. Don’t complain if your own favourite isn’t included, because this just a fun item – so don’t come running ‘round my house with a big cleaver saying you’re going to do stuff to me! In no particular order, my off-beat look at some of the best Halloween movies…
The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson plays a writer who gets a job as a caretaker in an empty school during the holidays. He thinks it will be great to have peace and quiet to write his book. It all goes horribly wrong, he gets possessed or something and runs ‘round with an axe. You can imagine what that school’s OFSTED report was like!
Scream (1996) People are being bumped off left, right and centre in this ace horror movie. We couldn’t stop screaming when we went to the cinema to see this – and who could blame us? Have you seen the popcorn prices in Vue??
The Whicker man (1973) A guy goes to an island and there’s loads of creepy stuff going on such as strange dancing, effigy burning and nudity. Sounds like a typical Saturday night party at my house!
Psycho (1960) The classic Alfred Hitchcock movie about a weirdo serial killer who runs a shabby motel in the middle of nowhere while dressed as an old lady. I didn’t actually realise that Grayson Perry had a background in acting!
Saw (2004) Two friends wake up semi-naked and chained to a sink in a bathroom – nothing unusual there, that’s a regular occurrence during ANY Fresher’s Week in the UK. But, in the movie Saw, one of the pals has to kill the other, or his family will die. You don’t get to find out whodunnit until ‘Saw 346’ which is due for release in 2087. Oh, I can’t wait!!
Silence of the Lambs (1991) A woman from the CIA goes to interview a serial killer in prison about some crimes that are being committed. She thinks he might be able to help her, and he wears this mask thing which makes him look scary. He seems very bitter about the whole prison experience. And you can’t blame him, so would you, if YOU’D been given a triple life sentence for parking in a disabled space outside Aldi.
Halloween (1978) One of the classic Halloween movies. A guy with a mask on causes mayhem on Halloween night. It all starts off where he’s quite happy knocking on doors and getting sweets – until some rotter gives him a pickled onion dipped in chocolate – the rest is history!
The Exorcist (1973) A girl gets taken over by the devil, and her head turns around 360 degrees. A vicar comes round and tells the devil to sling his hook! It all ends happily when the devil stops possessing people and goes back to his normal job as traffic warden.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) An all-time classic. Some young people get lost in the rough part of West Yorkshire and a mad man goes on a savage killing spree. People were physically sick in the cinema, which is not surprising – those explicit images of Huddersfield Town centre in the 70s were stomach churning.
Wolf Creek (2005) This always comes near the top of people’s favourite Halloween movies. This is where another group of youngsters accept help from a friendly local in Australia. He tortures them by playing Crocodile Dundee 3 on a loop. It’s a horrible way to go.
Let the right one in (2008) A story about a bloodsucker who has no friends. No, it’s not about a solicitor, it’s about a young vampire who plays centre-forward for a soccer team in Denmark. He’s good with his feet, but he’s not a fan of crosses!
Carry On Screaming (1966) Perhaps the greatest ever ‘horror’ film isn’t actually a horror movie in the true sense. It’s a comedy starring Kenneth Williams, Fenella Fielding and Jim Dale. Women are mysteriously disappearing – at the same time as similar-looking mannequins are appearing in a local shop window. Are the two connected? The Carry-On team featured some incredible comedy talents, plus Bernard Bresslaw. Oh, google him!
So, you’ve written your latest novel and you’re reasonably pleased with it after the usual changes and improvements… and then the publishers say it’s gone out to a focus group for their comments. What does this mean for you as an author? And is it going to make your book better?
My forthcoming novel ‘Confessions of an Invisible Man’ (a rom-com about a man who’s going to be invisible for EXACTLY seven days) was duly completed and passed to the publishers. It came back, as expected with quite a few changes, but nothing to give me sleepless nights. Then, the publishers tell me it’s gone out to a “focus group.” Woop-de-doo!
So my novel is then sent out to selection of people. Actually a selection of people of all ages and who are not chosen for their love of rom-coms. They are a group of people who read books they are sent and then pass on their thoughts to publishers. They may hate rom-coms for all I know, they may not… The group reports back on the characters, the idea, the pace, the storyline, the writing style and more…
Their comments (and scores) come back, it’s an interesting mix of remarks. Some will pick out a word or phrase that they’re not happy or comfortable with, others will tell you where they see weaknesses in the plot. One reader says my very first line could be improved and tells me which word to use in order to improve it. One mentions that the main character isn’t likeable, two have an issue with a sex scene, one says the pace of the story is too fast, another isn’t keen on the ending. It’s an interesting mix of comments. *Just for the record, I got the distinct impression that the people who had an issue with the sex scene were ‘older’ people who had never read a sex scene in a book before! Plus, it was actually meant to be a comedy scene and I’m not sure they understood that. Then again, maybe I didn’t write it skilfully enough!
If I changed everything the focus group mentioned, it would be a different novel to the one I’d envisaged. So, does a focus group help or not? Well, it’s easy to get defensive when going through all the comments, but I guess where focus groups are good, is that you can pick up patterns. If several people are making similar comments, then you can assume that particular thing may need looking at, tweaking or changing. Of course, when all the comments come back from readers, you have to stand back and not take things personally. Look at their comments positively, pick out the one’s which make sense and then improve your book. Better to fond out weaknesses now, rather than later.
At the present time, I’ve made a list of possible changes and things to look at, and I’m going through my novel improving where necessary. I must point out that whilst there were several negative comments from the focus-group, there were also lots of positives too, so the publishers and I are looking forward to producing a successful book later this year. Do focus groups help? I’d say yes, but be selective about what you take from their comments!
Confessions of an Invisible Man is published by Chronos Publishing and released later this year!
I decided to form a comedy cult because a few of my friends said they were bored during ‘lockdown’ and needed to do something. Plus, I was in the mood to exploit people, and what better way than starting a cult?
Call me old-fashioned, but I think that people like to belong to something – a golf club, a society, a group – so why not a cult? In my cult I’ll be getting my followers to work hard to make MY life better. Then, they’ll have the joy of seeing me deliriously happy, living like Vladimir Putin, riding a horse half-naked through my lounge and doing exactly what I want. Sounds pretty good, eh?
My followers will still have to work full time but have their wages paid directly in to my, er, the cult’s account. And that cash will pay for things such as gardening implements, bedsheets etc for my followers, and a massive flat screen TV, a speedboat and a big flash car for me. No cult leader can have credibility if he’s seen driving around in a Fiat Punto. That goes without saying, that does.
Here are the first few rules from my comedy cult manifesto:
1. The cult leader (me) has total control over your finances and any vinyl records you have. Also, ALL chocolate biscuits must be declared AND handed over to me. Additionally, all copies of Health & Efficiency magazine are to be kept under my bed, for my own health-related purposes.
2. Rituals may change at short notice, depending what’s on the telly. (Eg: if there’s a good film on such as Jurassic Park, I can’t be expected to break off to reprimand a follower etc.). Any dancing naked at midnight rituals may be cancelled if there’s a cold snap or heavy frost.
3. ALL members of my cult MUST listen to the new album ‘Together’ by The Vapors EVERY DAY (on vinyl). They sang Turning Japanese in the 80’s you must remember it, for crying out loud. Anyway, failure to do this will mean extreme punishments such as having to watch school choirs performing on BGT or made to join a Morris Dancing group.
Right, got to go now as I’m planning a ‘free-love’ evening with about twenty of my followers. If I don’t blog for a while, please call the emergency services and send them round to my gaff pronto with a defibrillator. Thanks.
Guest blog #1Writer and artist Jay Fortune explains how he works during lockdownwhen he’s not confined to his straightjacket…
Potter & Fondle. Lockdown. Stay home. Well, let me say that I’m an artist (not THAT kind!) and I’m used to staying home. Us arty types work more-or-less in isolation. My day begins around 6:30am. I get up when the sun gets up (and to let it dry the sheets – the other uncontrollable reason I rise early). Then it’s into the art studio. Bright and early. Not to actually do any work though; more to look at yesterday’s efforts and try to quieten the perfectionist in me that has awoken overnight and realises that what looked totally brilliant last night isn’t quite so stunning in the full glare of day (and without the alcohol flowing freely).
Me and my perfection go downstairs to breakfast (rule one; never, ever take your perfectionist self into the bathroom at this early stage; you will suffer when ‘it’ sees your natural born glory reflected in the full length bathroom mirror). Radio goes on. As does the ‘Porrange’. This unique breakfast concept is my own creation. (Note to self; look into trade-marking ‘Porrange’. Make sure this note is removed before sending this to the blog as guest writer. Wouldn’t want anyone nicking the concept.) Porrange is porridge with an orange. Simples. Breakfast done and I’m back in the studio. How is Mr. Perfection now feeling? Is he a) still being bloody judgemental about everything or b) quieter now he is full up on Porrange. If ‘a’ then it’s into the bathroom to turn the mirror around against the wall, shower, shave and allow the internal judgment to continue. If ‘b’ then it’s into the bathroom. Shower. Shave. Simples. (Perhaps even a quick glance in the mirror pre-steam. Lookin’ good! The more steam, the more I like the reflection.)
Daily Duties taken care of and I’m back in the studio again. More self-loathing, inner turmoil and frustration. I potter around like an ageing gardener forever fondling his pansies. And, like gardening, the art world has its fair share of pansies. And fondling. Few hours later and it’s lunch. Often I’ll try to be social and go meet a friend. But not at the moment. Staying 2m away makes what is usually a close friendship into more of a stand-off conversation. Think pre-virus when you would be in a rush to catch a bus and a friend wants to stop and say Hi. You can’t stop, so stay a good distance from them so you can socially get away to catch the bus before they can get too close and chatty. That’s how these lunch meetings now feel. Like one of us is in a rush. Usually me.
The studio always beckons. Lunch. Back in the studio yet again. More pottering. I get adventurous and squeeze some paint onto the palette. I even dip a brush in and let the paint dry to a crust while looking at yesterday’s efforts. It’s dried to a nasty crust so I can take great delight in washing the brush thoroughly. A proper scrub. I sing ‘happy birthday’ twice. Cleaned it goes back into its holder. Afternoon tea-time. I’m feeling quite exhausted what with the demands of being an artist. A nap is called for. This takes place over a short period of no more than 3 hours. Nothing major. I wake sluggish. It’s getting dark. Another 5 hour power-nap. Too long. There’s not enough time left to do anything worthwhile now, apart from grab a bottle of lager and retreat to the lounge. Bung a tray-dinner into the microwave. I forget to pierce the film again and the resulting ‘pop’ after a few minutes adds a surprise highlight to the day.
And now it’s time for bed. The sun is going down. I’m aware of a huge smile on my face as I realise I get to do it all over again tomorrow. Potter and fondle. NOTE: All of the above is not true. Except for the fact I am an artist. And the sun dries the sheets. And Porrange. Jay Fortune spends his time as a professional artist and part-time writer and on rare occasions is slightly comical. But only on rare occasions. This isn’t one of them. www.jayfortune.co.uk
Thanks to Jay for that. It’s no wonder he only produces one piece of work every twelve years!
*Join me next time dear readers, I’ll have the chocolate digestives open and displayed provocatively for your pleasure…
Everyone has their own idea about how to write a novel – and to be quite honest, I don’t think there is a right and wrong way. I think that if you have an interesting story, and you tell it in an interesting way, or a way that’s easy to read, then you’re well on the way. When I wrote my first novel, the last thing I wanted to do was try and work to some sort of successful template, I just wanted to tell the story how it was in my head and not be influenced by other writers. ( Damn, maybe that’s where I went wrong! 😊).
Please note: For those not interested in how to write a novel, I’ve put a picture of a little kitten at the end, to create a bit of interest.
The book that has inspired me the most is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – and not for a good reason! I remember buying it, wondering what all the fuss was about. I read this blockbuster and realised one simple thing. That if he can make it, then so could I. I hated that book, and the way it was written. It sold millions, so what do I know? Bret Easton Ellis, you’re the man! But I still hate that rubbish book. He’s probably laughing at me as he sits in his extra-large hot tub in LA, while I sit in my extra-small bedsit in the rough part of Hull!
So, here are my top tips to write a novel:
Plan it out in advance. Yes, I know there are some geniuses out there like Stephen King who just start writing and it’s amazing every time. Well he makes me sick!!! (Because he’s so good, and I can’t do that!). So, if you plan the whole story (roughly) and then break it down into chapters, you have a book, laid out in front of you like the Xmas turkey. All you have to do now is stuff the bloody thing with detail!
Planning your book solves one or two potential problems. Firstly, if you happen to get stuck, or have a case of writer’s block then you can just stop that chapter and skip to the next. Come back to the trouble-spot later when you have an idea for it. Easy! If you plan your novel and break it down before you begin actually writing, then it also helps you get over the hurdle of pacing the book. You can do a chart, stick it on your wall, and see where all the highs and lows are.
Write character sheets. Simply write each character’s personality and anything else you need to remember about them, such as their favourite movie or where they met someone, on to a piece of paper. Do this for all the main characters, as it’ll save you lots of time, and will enable you to write a novel that is consistent. Let’s just say I’ve learnt the hard way.
Do call backs. I’m not sure if this is an actual term that authors or publishers use, but comedians do this a lot in their acts. The call-back is a stand-up comedy term that means to refer to an earlier joke that got a laugh. For example Dennis Carney, a stand-up comedian, had a piece about performing in Las Vegas. He talked about how exciting it was to see his name on billboards and on the side of every fifth or sixth cab that went by. “Of course, it wasn’t my real name. It was my stage name: Prime Rib $9.95.” That punch line, which he delivered better than I am describing, got a good laugh. Later, he told another story about being in Las Vegas, and having a cop knock on his door. When he answered the door, the cop addressed him as “Mr. Rib.” That call-back to the previous joke got another laugh.
A call-back in a speech or novel does not have to refer back to something funny in order to be an effective call-back. It does need to refer back to something that will connect emotionally with the audience. I try and use call backs frequently in my novels as I think they also really help the reader realise that a lot of thought has been put into the story.
OK that’s enough for now. If any of the ideas above have been useful, let me know! Thanks for reading this blog. If you’re disappointed, I’m afraid no refunds are available! Bye for now.
Yes, it’s a question most of us have pondered in our hum-drum lives – and it’s the first question that Cooper McRae asks in my new novel ‘Confessions of an Invisible Man’ (Out on October 8th).
Well, you could do something positive, like assassinate Donald Trump or that w*nker who runs Syria, (you know, that lanky fella who looks like Borat’s brother!).
I got a Facebook message from someone who said that if they were invisible, they’d spend all their time eating sausage rolls in Greggs. What a ridiculous idea. I’d personally hang out in KFC! Party bucket here I come…
There have been several books (some great ones, I might add) about being invisible, but I wanted the power to land on the shoulders of a young guy who found it difficult to think outside the walls of his own flat. It had to be a small, personal story rather than a “change the world” type story.
So how does the lead character Cooper McRae use his invisibility? Well, he wants to get one million pounds – which is not easy – definitely not as easy as you would think. In the story, he comes up with some ingenious ways to make money but even these land him in hot water… anyway, while you’re thinking about what you’d do if you were invisible, let me tell you more about my comedy cult!
My Comedy Cult – I need help!
You may know that I’ve decided to start a new comedy cult, but there is some admin I need to tackle before I can get cracking. The first thing I need sorting is a big detached house in the country, where the cult will be based. So, if anyone has one they’d like to donate, then please get in touch. I’d like an en-suite bedroom and a large HD TV so that I can relax in between thinking of punishments for my followers etc.
I also think that if I’m going to run a successful comedy cult, I might be needing a long white gown (bed sheet type thing) to make me look a bit mystic and cultish.
Anyhow, there’s lots of time to think about all that stuff – I’ve also been busy doing other things such as doing some promotional stuff for my next novel (Mentioned above). If I’d known I’d had to do all this sort of thing, I’d have told the publishers where to stick their multi-million-pound deal, but I’m too polite to say anything.
Oh, the life of a humble author! I’m exaggerating of course. The deal the publishers offered me was extremely flexible. “Take it or leave it” they said. You can’t get more flexible than that!
OK, got to go now as I have to spend the afternoon swanning about looking all wistful – apparently that’s what authors are contractually required to do, so I’m off to dust down my cravat and my turquoise suede suit….
*Please let me know if you think of an easy way to make ONE MILLION pounds. Thank you.
If you like my blogs, let your friends know. I need all the friends I can get! My next blog will be all about how to write a novel! (Not that I know anything).
If you don’t know me, then I’d better introduce myself. My name is Graham Hey and I’m a writer (see the ‘about me’ page for my remarkable story!). I’ll be posting regularly with news and funny stuff so I hope you’ll stick with me and join my comedy cult! There are no weird initiation ceremonies or “Free Love” requirements (at the moment), so don’t worry about a thing.
I’ve always fancied being in a cult, although not so keen on any dancing naked at midnight. I tend to be in bed by 10.30 so that just wouldn’t work for me.
Anyway, I have some news to tell you… Chronos Publishing have announced that my second novel will be launched on October 8th. It’s called ‘Confessions of an Invisible Man’ and is a rom-com with a difference – the leading man is see-through! It’ll be able to pre-order it soon.
It’s set in London in 2019. Here’s a bit about it!
Cooper McRae is going to be completely invisible for seven days. He plans to woo Lucy Pendleton – the girl at work who acts like he’s invisible ALL the time, get himself one million pounds and meet his hero, Elton John. However, things don’t go to plan. A drugs cartel, an ex-girlfriend’s pregnancy and a neighbour with an unhealthy interest in Lego all conspire to make his week of invisibility more complicated. This is his confession. Will Lucy fall for his charms, or will she see right through him?
It’s a light-hearted read that combines comedy, romance and fantasy! What a combo. I’ve also thrown in some swearwords to give it a bit of adult-related pizazz! What would you do if you could be invisible for exactly one week? We’ve all thought about being invisible but for Cooper McRae it becomes an unlikely reality!
The front cover was designed by Sam Eastwood and is done in a 1950’s/60’s style. I love the retro feel to it, and this was just one of about half a dozen designs we chose from. I’ll post the other designs soon – so you can judge if we’ve made the wrong decision!!!
Ok, time for me to go now as I need to adjust my electronic tag. If you share my blog on any social media, I shall give you one million pounds in cash, as soon I have it available.
Welcome to my cult. Rules and regulations to follow. If you have any interesting rules you’d like me to consider for my cult, then send them to me and I’ll consider them!