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The Secret Policeman's Ball

Posted by Gordon Southern On the 1st April 2014 Back

When I was very young I saw the original Secret Policeman’s Ball. I was a kid growing up in Essex and we hired it from Capricorn Video on Betamax for about £2 for the weekend. Any young people reading this may wish to Google “Betamax.”  To see all these big name stars doing sketches: Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Rowan Atkinson and most notably, the Pythons were highly influential.

 

I’d recently seen “The Life of Brian” so the Python’s were my favourite thing at that time. I’ve seen that film so many times with my best friend Jay that in 2013 when it came on the TV while he was visiting we drunkenly recited it word for word to my wife, who was initially amused, then impressed, and by the end of the film distressed that she’d married this comedy super nerd.

 

The video was one of the many pointers in my early life that I would end up working in comedy. That I ended up in a six strong BBC radio sketch team called “The Cheese Shop” makes the Secret Policeman's Ball even more influential- Cleese and Palin performed the sketch of the same name in the Secret Policeman's Bal.

 

I’ve now been a stand up comedian for nearly 20 years, and to be a part of an event that was such an influence, seriously, I’d do it for free…

 

Then there’s Amnesty. Of course they are a charity close to my heart. Where would comedy be without free speech? Think of the comedians and satirists that risk their lives to amuse and illuminate the people of Egypt, Turkey, China, Myanmar… Amnesty is dogged and tireless in it’s pursuit of oppressive regimes. I’ve been donating to them by direct debit since I moved into my London flat in 1998.  I’ve worked out that’s nearly £2,000 over the years.  So when I get to perform at the NZ Secret Policeman’s Ball it will be an honour and a privilege. AND I will be the only act that’s getting paid!

 

 I don’t want pay, this is a charity gig that I’ve longed to do since I was a boy, and for a wonderful cause, but I’ve done the maths and it’s payback time, bitches. £2,000 is like, $50,000 NZ Dollars I think. So… I will also need you to fly me in business class from Sydney Comedy Festival, put me in a swanky hotel and my rider is choc full of frivolous and expensive requests.

 

This may seem heartless but I pledge that I will then do my best to amuse and illuminate the oppressed people of New Zealand.  Did you know women didn’t get the vote in New Zealand until 1893? Savages.  As a child growing up in the UK we used Kiwi boot polish. Poor little things can’t even fly away or defend themselves and you squish them into a paste? It’s time to drop some uncomfortable truth bombs on this ghastly former colony, and being invigorated from the day spa I imagine this hotel will have, refreshed from the flat bed during my short flight, I think I’m the man to do it.

 

Check Gordon out in his solo show ‘Your New Favourite Comedian’ as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival.

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