The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed -

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Whoah, Gary Gary...

Since I moved to London, if not before, I occasionally get accused of playing up my Leicester roots professionally. Asking bakers for cobs or saying ‘eyup mi duck’ is taken as an assertion of regional identity (although it’s more to do with my slovenly speech patterns). Americans sometimes get confused when I don’t conform to the ‘British accents’ heard on US TV; I sound like neither a villainous toff nor Simon Moon in Frasier. Get over it, people.

There’s not much to be gained from performing as a professional ‘Glenny boy’ in higher education and the media. Unless you work with Derby fans, still sore after last night’s helping of stuffed ram, then projecting yourself as from Lest-uh within the city limits of Joe Orton’s hometown seems bizarre. Yet a local comedy act is based on doing exactly that:
“Playing the home advantage, Leicester lad Gary O'Donnell had the whole audience behind him as he performed probably the biggest gig of his career. An energetic performer, O'Donnell runs around the stage like an excited schoolboy, but his energy could not mask his nervousness and he seemed shocked to find himself on the stage of the vast De Montfort Hall.
O'Donnell's brand of observational in-jokes seemed to exclude those of us who weren't born in Leicester or didn't go to Gary's school. However his excitement and energy are infectious and you can't help but go along with his trip down memory lane. Though somewhat limited by his material he is a talented performer clearly loved by the partisan crowd who chanted, Jerry Springer-style, "Ga-ry, Ga-ry" as he left the stage. Hopefully this experience will spur him on to look outside Leicester for material.”

(Read on here and here)

The last time I saw Gary at De Montfort Hall it was on a May Day stall, where we argued about the class nature of the Soviet Union and tried to get Keith Vaz MP to support Irish freedom. Since then he – Gary that is, not Keith Vaz - has ditched the orthodox Trotskyism of Worker’s Power for stand-up comedy (insert your own sectarian joke here).

From transitional demands to memory lane, or is that the other way around? Whatever happened to the 1980s? The next thing you know the A-team will be getting a pardon


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