The Shoe Leather Express

Writing and Comedy from James Harris

Tag: Paula Varjack

How the EU saved my life

In Britain’s upcoming EU referendum, I am a passionate supporter of the #Remain campaign, for both pragmatic and sentimental reasons. Watch me explain why in this short video, made with help of my friends Jenny Chamarette and Paula Varjack.

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‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: Unofficial trailer

Hope you’re all enjoying the part of the summer which is really summer, before it all starts fading into the August melancholy – but we don’t want to think about that now!

To maintain your spirits, Paula Varjack and I – aka People with Wigs and Stuff – are back with our latest film parody, now taking on that marvellous epic ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘. We had fun! Next up – well, what do you suggest?

Showreel in excelsis

It’s been a while since I updated here, but that’s what blogs exist for isn’t it, to not update them or at least to apologize for doing so only sporadically. Memorials to good intentions, they are. Life has been busy and intense; in April I did a run of shows in Germany and, for the first time, Italy – my spring fascist tour you might call it – and a performance at one of Germany’s biggest comedy clubs, the Quatsch.

London comedy has been, as ever, tougher. I both reached and flopped in the semi-finals of the ‘Amused Moose Laugh Off’, one of the UK’s biggest comedy competitions; the audience reaction to my set, constructed as both an example and parody of contemporary UK comedy, brought to mind the old Bill Hicks line about people looking at him like dogs who’ve been shown a card trick. Pearls before swine? Friends have advised me that failing in front of this particular audience was a badge of honour, but I always think blaming the audience is small time; I should have got ‘em, I could have been a contender, or at least on some late-night Channel 4 highlights programme! Imagine! Still, it’s always weird for me though to hear that my comedy has been ‘too smart’ for an audience; I’m just talking about what interests me, not aiming to be clever, and I think audiences are always very smart things. Maybe I was just crap.

Better news arrives in the form of my fantastic new comedy showreel. Thanks so much for Ian Buckley for filming, Paula Varjack for editing, Live in Berlin for staging and all those who made it possible. I’ll be thinking this summer about what my next move for comedy is – and yes, we are still taking bookings. In the meantime, enjoy this; 2.26 minutes of distilled me; comedy whiskey, as my friend Chris likes to say.

‘Gone Girl’: Unofficial trailer

International performance artist and my flatmate, Paula Varjack, and I have been at it again, producing one of our parody film trailers. This time we take on the Ben Affleck/Rosamund Pike domestic seether ‘Gone Girl.’ I’m particularly proud of this one, mainly down to Paula’s superb work on the technical front. Incidentally, we have a rule making the trailers to never spend any money on them.

Check out Paula’s website here and also our YouTube channel here. There will be more parodies in 2015. And in case you’re wondering – yes, we do do requests. Currently I’m agitating for our next parody to be ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, which Paula assures me is a terrible idea.

Charles Bukowski translation

Last week I was performing at the lovely night ‘Never Mind the Full Stops‘, run by Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson. My teamate  Nick Field and I were given the task of ‘translating’ a Bukowski poem. I’ve never been a big fan of romantic paens to abandoning all personal and social responsibility, so the result was, somewhat predictably, the unimpressed below.

The next night is on Tuesday December the 9th at the Hackney Picturehouse and I am very pleased to say I’ve been invited back.