The Shoe Leather Express

Writing and Comedy from James Harris

Month: February, 2015

New York and London

New York and London they dream of each other
And when one rises the other’s in bed,
Neat New York which peers over the ocean
Tucking its skyscrapers in. And London
The businessman is sure to come calling
To the place he remembered Liberty last;
London and New York will dream of each other
Until the ocean rises, till the cities fall.

‘Since you went to Mars’

I never really think of you
Since you went to Mars.
Easy, thinking less of you
Now you’re living there
Floating out the capsule,
Piping oxygen,
Doing all your shopping
At the arboreal forecourt.
A sales clerk turns and smiles at you,
‘Electric storms tonight.’
Me, I no longer really think of you,
Ignore you you could say,
Of course I sometimes miss you
But Mars is very far,
My old red-planet patriot, you’re
A long way from me now.

Gigs in London and fun in Germany

Well Germany, that was fun, wasn’t it? Seven gigs, four headline spots, lots of money and nice big crowds. After two days on tour there came a moment, already having had more stage time than London had given me in fifteen months, with a roll of money in my pocket and two free meals in my belly, when I thought – what the hell am I doing in London? Imagining some German saying to me: ‘Mr. Harris! How much comedy would you like to do tonight? 45 minutes? No, please do an hour! We love you here! And would you like some more potatoes?’

But now I’m back in El Humo and once again working the open mikes and showcases; you can see my upcoming gigs list here. After just over a month round the houses I’m beginning to suspect that the majority of London open mikes could be renamed ’24 year olds talking about their penises’ or maybe ‘White Guy Meltdown.’ There’s certainly some unique angles out there. Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing a young man making an extended analogy between homosexuality and cricket, a comparison based on them both being two things ‘which he had nothing against.’ Your guess is as good as mine – but perhaps that’s what the kids want these days, apart from money and affordable places to live. Later a comedian called an audience member a ‘bitch’ for no reason.

There’s an interesting book to be written about this, about a comedian – it could be any artist in fact – who lives abroad for a long time, acquiring a measure of success in his adopted home, only to return and find that he has to start from scratch. He hauls round open mikes in his new city’s further outskirts, where the producers respond to his allusions to prior success with ‘Big in Germany? So’s David Hasselhoff kid. Now shut up and get sucking!’ Certainly I currently have the interesting sensation of being both a mild failure and a moderate success, a psychic experience which, if not exactly to be recommended, is at least stimulating. To this end it seems entirely appropriate that I was a guest along with the poet Amy Acre on Varjack and Simpson’s new ‘Fail Better’ podcast – you can have a listen here; I think it turned out rather well. What does Harriet Mancy-Barrat know about comedy anyway?

And then it’s the Anti-Slam, another Varjack and Simpson affair, this Valentine’s Day. Time to pretend I’m German again, in my role as Johannes the punctillious scorekeper. Somehow I always end up playing the foreigner. People thinking you’re an idiot is a great place to do comedy from.

German success.  Picture by Dr. Hemmet under the creative commons attribution license 3.0.

German success.Picture by Dr. Hemmet under the creative commons attribution license 3.0.