Said club is the monthly night run by Josie Long, as recommended by carsmilesteve in his Edinburgh best-of. The only real problem with it is that it's in c0cking Crystal Palace, which means that it takes forever to cycle there, but that's still the quickest option.
I must remember, the next time I get a route from Transport for London, to check to see if it contains or is adjacent to anything called 'Rise'. Or 'Hill', which should by rights have been a giveaway. It was nice as always to tie bits of London together, like Bermondsey down to Old Kent Road down to Peckham (though I learned that particular connection the week before while questing with L'Chevaliers Dans Sue L'allotment).
Despite arriving past the time when my table that I rang to book might have been given away, all's well and I'm given a programmezine and a pen for returning afterwards. And after I sit down (a table of my own! with my name! And next to the Coke machine which is pumping out so much light that some people in the back might actually think I'm on the bill!), Josie Long comes over and says "Are you Andrew? Here's the materials for the competition! One's write a story about a punk band, and the other is make a collage story with this big piece of paper and these random photos I cut out of Take A Break and Chat!" and then she's off.
Shortly afterwards, she's on. She explains that the idea for the club is that they have a different theme every time and everyone writes material specially for it. And this one is about Punk and D.I.Y., which will be handy if anything screws up. She talks about it for some time, and shows some of her old art from when she was 10, proud and wry at the same time. It doesn't always work, some of the jokes fall flat. And then they stop before they hit the floor, and rise again, she can with charm and invention rescue anything and make it funny, if you know what I mean. If you don't, I mean that you should go see her before it costs £1000.
She also introduces the band (the Back to the Future Three), and her friend whose name I've forgotten, who does a different craft during the show every month. This time, live on-stage Applique!
Robin Ince is up next, and talks about standup and how he hates observational comedy because he never felt included in all the usual "You know when..?" jokes. Charts his brief attempts at same, "So who here dances around the house a bit when there's no music playing?" and suchlike.
The first of two breaks finish then, and I find out that the bar doesn't have any peanuts or crisps or anything, but they do still have an open kitchen! So it's proper nachos and dips, with banana cake for afterwards (I have to keep my strength up for the return journey, yes).
The first contest is judged over the break. I peaked too early with a great name for the band, so I scribble some stuff down. The winner is someone who's just drawn a cock. "So if you'd like to come up and collect it"?
The next act is Holly Walsh & Caroline Crawford - Holly is the more sensible one and has prepared a power point presentation on the history and meaning of punk, caroline is far more enthusiastic and doesn't entirely get it, in a Sandi Thom way (which is the same as everyone, this is the genius of Sandi Thom). Their jokes are maybe a split second late, which is a shame as they're generally a really good double act.
Matthew Crosby has a sticky wicket to play, he tries to makes MySpace jokes only to find that only two of the people present know what it is, and does a long routine about how Punk will never turn up on Stars In Their Eyes - true enough for his example of Howard Devoto, but I have trouble believing anyone would bat an eyelid if someone wanted to be John Lydon (taking Joe Strummer as read). He ends by asking if anyone would like him to do a punk rock impersonation - not very amused by me asking for Howard Devoto, but the whole thing turns PUNK ROCK for a second when someone yells "Woody Allen!" and he replies "Oh, fuck off!"
Sometime during this my food arrives, which adds considerably to my enjoyment of the proceedings. Nachos are actually a great food to eat in front of comedy, particularly with something non-alco like my trademark blackcurrant and water, you get to eat it with your hands and feel like a king with an infinite supply of jesters: "Haw haw haw (chomp) ho ho ho (quaff) haw haw"
Lloyd Langford reads stories about real DIY. He realises that it's not actually the kind of DIY that's under discussion, but he reckoned it wold be more non-conformist to do it that way. He's pretty good considering it's mostly stuff off the internet, he's got dead good delivery.
Another break, and they start to collect the photo-collage. Because I've been eating All The Food, and also because I have the creative faculties of a log, I still have nothing going on, so I take all the photos, and spare ones from my neighbour, and glue them ALL ON BACKWARDS! Exposing the advertising behind the facade! Yeah! Also I write in the corner "
And Josie seems to like my half-assed effort, and points it out (no prize but still)! Then it's time to sing the theme tune to the club. In the cold light of day this seems a little twee and toe curling, but it isn't, it's brilliant! If you can get it to work (and we are in the palm of Josie's hand by now) then there's something brilliant about a bit of a singalong. Then the headline act, Wil Hodgson. He's a big lad, from Chippenham, an ex-skinhead, ex-wrestler, my little pony collector with a pink mohawk and matching nailvarnish, and.. he just talks. About those things, about his time in the Air Cadets and the band thereof. It's spoken word of a sort, the closest thing to a joke-joke is him advising anyone who's interested in professional wrestling to go to school with (lists a long collection of My Little Pony/Care Bears/etc), because if it's anything like Chippenham, you'll have to learn to fight pretty quick, just to keep them in their mint condition". He's funny throughout, though laughter largely stops after he talks about one of the local wrestlers: "He was a security guard by day and a world champion by night" (gales of laughter) "and if you think that's ridiculous, you're just a middle-class snob" (laughter dies out). His best moment is a story about Remembrance Day that's incredibly awkward and bleak, the whole thing is less like a comedy gig than being down the pub with an interesting friend holding forth about things that have been important to them - in fact between the build the wrestling and the accent he reminded me a lot of martinskidmore. At the end he seemed surprised at where the story had taken him, I get the impression that it meandered a lot more than his usual set, which I'd still love to see.
And afterwards, before the last of the prizes and the appliqued-to-fuck t-shirt, a guy called Martin White got up with an accordian and player Teenage Kicks, switching halfway through from English to German without particular care for the meter. It has been said that it's difficult to order a glass of water in German without sounding like you're invading Poland, and the song is pretty energetic to start with, so it was a little bit scary. And then afterwards he said that he'd just returned from abroad (possibly actually Germany) and the show that they'd been interviewed for had Camera Obscura on next, so after their bit was done they'd taken turns to appear behind the DJ and try to break the concentration of the incredibly dour lady from that same band, and he'd actually gone so far as to moon Tracyanne Campbell. Which was the most punk rock thing ever.
I hung around a little afterwards to get details of other things that might be closer than the actual end of the Mini-AZ, and Josie scribbled down her myspace page above on a random bit of paper that I later realised also contains "My Old Art", "Kettle Bag", "How Many Punks", and the other comics names and lots of arrows => I have a Josie Long Setlist! Ebay will pay highly for this!
Afterwards cycling home was much quicker (due to being very much downhill). Mostly in third gear, mostly in the middle of the road. It's still lovely to see the city from afar, and see get closer. Though the Gherkin, being the main landmark I was heading to, seemed unlit? Surely it should have at a minimum some sort of pulsing purple vein.
Anyway, the good news is that Josie Long and Wil Hodgson are playing in Hackney Empire on October 1st for NO2ID. Do go see them!