Its Never Really ‘Just like That’

Tommy Cooper’s “gag file”, in which the late comedian meticulously recorded his jokes, is now preserved by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The V&A acquired an archive of papers and props once owned by Cooper in 2016 which show he was less shambolic off stage than he appeared when performing.

The gag file is among 116 boxes of his papers going into the V&A collection.

The museum said he used a system for storing his jokes alphabetically “with the meticulousness of an archivist”.

‘Funniest of all time’

On stage, Cooper was known for his apparently chaotic magic routines as well as his trademark red fez and his catchphrase “just like that”.

But the file shows how he carefully sorted his jokes into dozens of categories, ranging from boxing and bull fighting to wives and women.

The material sheds light on his “scrupulously organised working methods, the business side of his vocation and the extent of his writing”, the V&A said.


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I read the above on the BBC website after watching David Threfall in the Simon Nye film ‘Not Like That Like This’ over Xmas. In the film we see Tommy obsessively prop checking before a performance. ( I myself have to position all the props in The Spurting Man show and need them to be in literally the same position as always). For example the pipes behind the Spurting Man show are even wound the same way round before each performance (anticlockwise in case you were wondering). I’m not comparing myself to the great Tommy Copper, but my point is that something appearing simple in a performance very rarely is, especially if you are concentrating on, in Coopers case, performing magic tricks and in mine trying to keep track of the ever changing and chaotic outdoor environment where we perform. Obsessively controlling everything I can helps me to deal with and even enjoy the bits that go (apparently) wrong.


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Arts By The Sea Bournemouth

The last weekend of shows this year were in Bournemouth at Arts By The Sea. We played our Hydromania show over two nights. The audience was estimated at eight thousand each night and although size isn’t everything it’s an impressive turn out by any standards. The World Beaters opened the show for us and we all felt that they did an amazing job with Mark high on a balcony on the Town Hall encouraging the audience in a call and response then the rest of the team joining in from within the audience quite a special moment! We are planning more of this unique and strange large scale show for 2018 watch the diary for details.WB Balcony

Pitching Full Circle

I will be pitching Full Circle as part of Xtrax shorts at Out There Festival in Great Yarmouth this weekend. Here are the essential bits of my five minute talk.


  • Full Circle is a mischievous, experimental entertainment for an audience of between 50 and 300.
  • It has no text or technical requirement
  • The style of the performance deadpan comedy.
  • There is a paid opportunity for a local performer.


The main thing to say is that like all new shows, and this applies particularly to outdoor work where the environment can be so chaotic, it really needs bookings, Fingers crossed it tickles the fancy of the assembled great and good.

On The Case

I was packing the flight case in which The Spurting Man show, props and costumes etc. has travelled the world for twenty odd years when it struck me how many performers must have similar cases packed with similar tat. When sending this stuff by freight I have to fill in the value and its always a tough call, as the real value, what its worth on E.bay, would be about £50 (mainly for the case) but the value to me on the gig is huge, I mean how could I replace a plastic water spurting crown at short notice its not exactly a B&Q item! Here are three such other cases from a recent dressing room. Traps cases from  SticklebackPlasticus,  MC Fois and Avanti.

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The Britannia Music Hall

I visited the Panopticon otherwise known as The Britannia Music Hall in Glasgow last week. It is in what might best be described as ‘atmospheric decay’. I loved the playbills and that one can walk on stage to experience how it must have felt performing there. During my visit some of the staff were in the back cracking jokes one of which had them it fits of laughter. This sound, uncontrolled laughter, must have echoed round this building over many years perhaps even Bob Hartley ‘King of the Corn Beef Tin’ stormed it! (See below) News just in – Bob Hartley apparently danced on a corn beef tin and the difficulty of this was where the comedy came from – genius! Being the king of something does rather imply that there were other corn beef tin dancers to be king of imagine that.