MOSTLY FILM: Man vs. Chick

Simian Substitute Site for April 2011: The Monkey Bar


Comedy: The second series of Limmy's Show has finished on telly now, and enough time has passed for it to have dropped off the BBC iPlayer. If you missed my warning in the comments section about how good it was going to be, there are plenty of dodgy clips available on YouTube. Alternatively, you could go back to the source - Limmy's World Of Glasgow, a series of audio podcasts he released on a daily basis back in Autumn 2006. Plough through the nine and a half hours of MP3s on this site, and you discover plenty of characters and situations that Limmy would rework on telly a few years later. (They make for some interesting comparisons: for example, the six minute video version of Dee Dee's trip to Yoker, and the twenty-two minute audio version.) There's also lots of material that's exclusive to these podcasts, including a whole magnificent strand featuring the adventures of Benjamin from advertising agency BAMN Concepts. I commemorated the death of Elizabeth Taylor by listening to the podcast describing her involvement in a promo stunt for Arden Botox. Don't judge me.

Internet: Speaking of Limmy, one of the sketches in his new series - a documentary clip covering the new teen craze of Clowning - inspired me to go back to the video editing software after a few months away. Thanks to the miracle of cut and paste, I can honestly say that This One's For The Clowners took me less time to make than it does to watch. "Cracker!" was the response from Limmy himself on Twitter, although he paranoidly deletes all his old tweets every few days so I've no real way of proving that. If language guru Elisabeth Smith had a Twitter account, I could send her a link to the other video I've made this month, Bus Doesn't Register. It lightly takes the piss out of the way that her One-Day language CDs (recently rebranded as Last-Minute) all use nearly identical scripts. It's been a long-standing in-joke between myself and The Belated Birthday Girl for some years, and now it's out there confusing the rest of the world. Put those two together with my Gordano video, and it would appear that TheSpankTM's YouTube account has gone a bit peculiar. I kinda like it.

Theatre: Danny Boyle's production of Frankenstein at the National Theatre is the hottest ticket in London right now. If you know anything about it, then you know about its central casting gimmick - Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller alternate between the roles of the doctor and the creature from one performance to the next. It may seem to you like a fiendish ruse to make people watch the play twice, and in fact that's just what I've done: I caught Cumberbatch's creature in an early preview at the National, while I saw Miller's monster during one of the NT Live relays transmitted to cinemas all over the world. For my money, the latter arrangement is the one you should aim for. Miller explained in a short film before the NT Live performance how he'd been studying his two-year-old for movement tips, which makes perfect sense: his creature undergoes the equivalent of the first twenty years of a human life compressed into just one, and he calibrates its increasing maturity perfectly. Meanwhile, Cumberbatch comes off best as Victor Frankenstein, playing him as an arrogant genius frustrated at how the rest of the world fails to recognise him as such: anyone who saw Sherlock on TV last summer will know he can pretty much do that in his sleep. It's not a perfect production by any means - Nick Dear's script doesn't do any favours to anyone who isn't one of the two principals - but Cumberbatch and Miller are both strong enough to make it a terrific night out. If you can get in, of course.

In the meantime, your Simian Substitute Site for April 2011 is the homepage for The Monkey Bar, located at 60 E54th Street in New York. Oh, no reason, really. Check out the venue's history, have a look at their menu, and take an interactive peek at Ed Sorel's spectacular mural.

Comments, anyone?


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