Tag Archives: the comedians guide to survival

Failed Critics Podcast: Halloween Necromancing Triple Bill

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Brushing the cobwebs out of the way through the passage right at the back of the Failed Critics library, where nobody has been for centuries or more, we’ve found an ancient book containing spells for raising the dead.

Using our powers wisely, we let Steve Norman, Owen Hughes and Tony Black conjure up some deceased actors, putting them straight back to work in brand new movies pitched on this very episode of the Failed Critics Podcast Halloween special.

Resurrecting the dead in a triple bill is about as creepy as it gets this year, with What We’ve Been Watching ditched in favour of reviewing the new release Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and a quick chat about the brand new semi-biographical comedy The Comedian’s Guide to Survivalstarring James Buckley (The Inbetweeners). Comedian’s Guide is co-written by and based on the life of our very own James Mullinger from Underground Nights – check out their latest episode for some great background information on the making of the hilarious film.

Elsewhere on this podcast, the Failed Critics found time to bring back the quiz with Owen in the driving seat. News was trailer heavy, packed with discussion about the new Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Logan trailers.

We’ll be back as normal next week with a review of Doctor Strange, but in the meantime keep an eye out for a brand new episode of our sister gaming podcast Character Unlock – as well as a round-up from this year’s Cambridge Film Festival, the longest running film festival in the UK!

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Field & Mullinger’s Underground Nights: The Comedians Guide to Survival

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Welcome to this special episode of Field and Mullinger’s Underground Nights all about the brand new comedy film The Comedian’s Guide to Survival, the semi-biographical story of James Mullinger.

Written and directed by Mark Murphy, featuring The Inbetweener‘s star James Buckley as Underground Nights’s co-host Mullinger, Comedian’s Guide follows the trials and tribulations of a hapless pant-wetting stand-up juggling his dreams with paying the bills as a magazine writer.

In this hour-long podcast, Mullinger chats with Paul Field about how true to life the film’s depiction is, how the movie came about, as well as some reminiscing about life as a journalist for GQ and nights in comedy clubs.

The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 28 October 2016. Follow on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news.

Support the podcast by streaming the podcast from our hosts Acast, subscribing on iTunes and leaving us a review and rating, and sharing this page with all of your friends – and some people who aren’t your friends too, just for good measure.

The Comedian’s Guide to Survival

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“I’m not even on stage and I’m getting heckled.”

Imagine you’re heading into the office in the morning. Heading towards your desk, coffee in hand, when for the fourth time that week, you’re reminded not to piss on yourself at work. If you’re anything like me, you’ve quit that job as soon as the first trickle hit your thighs. You certainly haven’t made it such a regular enough occurrence that colleagues feel the need to drill into you that urine on your jeans is simply not the way to go.

While you or I might quit and take solace in a darkened corner hoping for the ground to open up and swallow you whole, that’s not how veteran stand-up comedian James Mullinger rolls.

Maybe he’s got less pride than me or you? Maybe he likes the feel of warm urine leaking into his socks? Or maybe, if semi-biographical comedy The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is to be believed, it’s just that a shoe filled with warm asparagus scented fluid isn’t even close to the worst thing that happen to James Mullinger on his journey to become a stand-up comedian.

Stuck at a career impasse, magazine writer James Mullinger (The Inbetweeners star James Buckley) has aspirations to be a stand up comedian. And he would be able to do it, except for one rather large problem: he sucks harder than one of them toothless £1.50 cum-buckets you can smell coming down Catford High Street. Oh, and he pisses his pants on stage.

Failing to balance a job he’s beginning to loathe with countless hours on the road, urinating on pub stages, and spending time with his wife and kids; James is fast coming to a point where something has to give.

The writer’s abusive twat-bag boss (the equal parts sublime and hilarious Paul Kaye) gives him an ultimatum: take a promotion to deputy editor but drop the dreams of making people laugh, or lose his job and try and live on the pittance bar room comedy pays.

It seems the difficult decisions are being made for him. If having his dreams shat on isn’t bad enough, his dick-breath editor sends the down-trodden writer half way around the world to interview some of his comedy heroes and cover Montreal’s Just for Laughs comedy festival.

One way or another, James is going to have to take control of his own destiny and decide what he wants to do with his life. Only once he hits several feet below rock bottom does his path become clear.

Biographical comedies are a tough sell. You’ve got to make someone’s story interesting enough to watch, but make it funny as well. This can only have been made more difficult for a stand-up comedian as the audience will be expecting side-splitting, laugh out loud funny from start to finish. Of course, the early gigs where everything is going laughably bad are easier to win the viewer on side, but the tricky part is saving a little for when all is going well in the life of Mullinger.

For a barrel-scraping hobby writer like myself, the mere thought of having to do that is giving me heart palpitations, but the man himself, writer James Mullinger along with co-writer and director Mark Murphy, have not only pulled off the great comedy balance, but managed to squeeze a little soul into the film that I really didn’t expect.

James trudging through the bar and pub comedy scene is a depressing little look into the lives of all those stand-ups that have told us stories of their early days. The fourth wall is broken to regale us with stories of journeys with people he couldn’t stand, running for busses and trains, and of nothing ever really going right. At the point that our protagonist gives in, going about his regular writing job, trying to move on with the 9-5 life, you truly feel sorry for this man who can’t catch a break. You can’t even find it in yourself to will him to keep going. The poor bastard is done.

And you really feel it when a line of the man’s heroes, in a string of “as Himself” credits from the likes of Omid Djalili, Mike Wilmot and Gilbert Gottfried, tell him to give it up repeatedly, brutally and painfully.

Conversely, The Comedians Guide to Survival is a real joy to watch. Particularly after the turning point in the film as a sense of purpose and a new found confidence washes over Mullinger. It’s almost humbling to watch – which says just as much about the direction and Buckley’s performance as it does about the writing.

It’s not all plain sailing. I do have one minor complaint about the film and it’s simply this; while I appreciate seeing Mullinger’s story on the screen, I would have liked to have seen a little more of the darker, behind the scenes stuff that the comedy scene can be known for. I only say this because it seems like the film should be telling me the whole story. This rings especially true when your film features Brendon Burns; a man who has very prominently, very loudly and very bluntly spoken about the comedy scene in the past. I just would have liked to have seen it explored a little more.

But this isn’t a deal breaker by any means. Comedians Guide doesn’t suffer without this aspect, it’s more a personal preference and I wouldn’t expect everyone that watches this laugh-out-loud comedy to come out wanting it.

What I would expect for everyone that sees the film is to see a big old smile on their face. The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is a comedy with a steady stream of chuckles right from the start that gradually builds into some brilliantly delivered laughs. It will have you pissing in your pants (not literally, James) and at the same time rooting for our hero the whole time. There are even some unexpected moments that had me wanting to reach in and give the guy a hug.

As the credits roll, you will find yourself with a massive involuntary grin on your Chevy Chase. Just remember who told you how much you were going to enjoy this cool little comedy.

The Comedians Guide to Survival is released in UK cinemas nationwide on 28 October 2016

Field & Mullinger’s Underground Nights: Aroma du Troma

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Emerging from a flaming toxic waste drum ready to avenge the podcasting world, potty-mouthed Paul Field and feminist comedian James Mullinger are back – and they’re bigger, better and uglier than ever! Well, at least two of those are true.

Joining your Underground Nights hosts in the fourth episode of the podcast is the iconic Troma producer, director and all-round legend that is Lloyd Kaufman. If that weren’t enough, Troma Institute for Gifted Youth inductee Dylan Greenberg also takes part in the very personal interview. Lloyd and Dylan discuss everything from how Kaufman got into films, to what they really think about Netflix and why Troma NOW is better.

To top it all off, Dave Valentine (aka Crisp Packet Dave) and Mullinger bond over their love for VHS, whilst Paul holds an impromptu quiz… and not a single question was about laser-disc! There’s also enough time to chat about VHS Forever before Dave’s sexy voice gets all too much.

Support the podcast by streaming the podcast from our hosts Acast, subscribing on iTunes and leaving us a review and rating, and sharing this page with all of your friends – and some people who aren’t your friends too, just for good measure.

To see James’ VHS and Troma collection follow him on Facebook and Instagram:
Instragram: @tromavillecitizen

 

Owen’s 2015 In Film: Part 11 – No(tmanyfilms)vember

In the penultimate entry to Owen’s 2015 in review series that has been looking back on all of the movies he’s watched during each month of the year, he discusses a few of the films he’s seen in November.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

cg-buckle1If October was my busiest movie-watching month of the year, watching at least one horror film every single day, then November was something of a respite period. When I wasn’t writing stuff for my University assignments, then I was writing a new blog post every single day, or occasionally even finding time to review movies on here.

What I apparently didn’t find time for is actually watching more films. I think this past month is possibly the first time since around 2011 that I actually went four days in a row without watching anything at all. Not only did that happen once, but twice! What kind of behaviour is that for a man who supposedly runs a film podcast?

Although, some of that time that I didn’t spend watching films, I did spend productively. I appeared on the pilot of The Bottle Episode‘s new podcast, talking about my TV genealogy, which was a lot of fun. I also drove down to Wikishuffle HQ and interviewed Chris Wallace and Phil Sharman about their show and Best Comedy Podcast award, which you can watch on my YouTube channel.

Anyway. Back on topic, I suppose I better get on with discussing a few films that I’ve seen lately, starting with…


Week 1: Sunday 1 – Sunday 8 November 2015

Sunday – The Blair Witch Project (1999); Monday – The Blair Witch Project (1999), The Blair Witch Project (1999); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – Batman (1966), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994); Saturday – Iris (2015), HUDSON HAWK (1991); Sunday – Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

hudson-01I’ve already moaned about this on the podcast, but I honestly don’t think I can fully portray just how bad I thought Hudson Hawk was. For those that don’t know, Bruce Willis plays a cat burglar recently released from prison, who is set up with a new job to steal various Da Vinci inventions from museums. Hidden in said items are special diamonds required to power an alchemy machine, turning lead into gold. I said it at the time and I stand by it now, even after the steam has stopped blowing from my ears, but Bruce Willis (credited as a story writer) is absolutely appalling in what is one of the worst movies I have seen all year. Possibly even ever. From the eye-rollingly bad premise that’s too absurd to contemplate, to the lamentable performances and sickeningly smug comedy skits, it’s just horrendous. I’m sure it was probably a lot of fun to make, as Danny Aiello, Richard E Grant, Andie MacDowell etc all seem to be enjoying themselves in what I think is supposed to be a throwback to old fashioned goofball comedy capers; it just doesn’t translate into anything even remotely associated with the word “fun” for the viewer. It’s definitely one to avoid.


Week 2: Monday 9 – Sunday 15 November 2015

Monday – He Named Me Malala (2015); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968); Saturday – [absolutely nothing]; Sunday – Green Butchers (2003)

2a9435Going right back to where this blog series all started with last October’s Horrorble Month, where I watched one horror film every day in the build up to Halloween, the very first review I wrote was for Witchfinder General. I don’t remember when I first watched Michael Reeves’s English folk-horror, starring Vincent Price as the infamous Matthew Hopkins. What I do remember is that it was then – and still is now – one of my favourite horror films of all time. It might possibly have been my first introduction to Price, kick-starting my love-affair with his movies. It’s atmospheric, dark and uncomfortable to watch as you might expect. Whether it’s because the charismatic witchfinder himself is asserting his influence to sexually assault and murder women, or from the sheer brutality of the violence, it’s a chilling historical drama. I think this time around, one thing struck me more than any other, which was the fact that you never understand Hopkins’ motivation for doing what he does. Not properly. You don’t know whether or not he believes he’s actually on a mission from God, or if he’s just a sadistic killer who is after fame and fortune. It’s odd that I’ve never really noticed that before. It seemed like a glaring omission at first, but the more I thought about it, the more clever I thought it was. Hopkins (the real Hopkins who was responsible for around 60% (nearly 300) of ALL the women killed in the 17th century accused of witchcraft) was a monster. Leaving the film character’s motivations as clouded as the real man’s were, it’s entirely fitting. And, more to the point, doesn’t matter. Price’s subtleties in the role are more than enough to keep you interested in the character – and again, credit to the young director for winning Price’s respect and forcing him to tone down his occasional tendency to perform with a certain… vivaciousness. Excuse the plug for a moment, but I wrote up a piece on Witchfinder General for my blog, Films As News, which you can read here.


Week 3: Monday 16– Sunday 22 November 2015

Monday – [absolutely nothing]; Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – THE VOICES (2015); Saturday – X-Men: First Class (2011); Sunday – Don’t Look Now (1973)

The-Voices-01-GQ-10Mar15_rex_b_813x494I think I owe Callum a certain degree of gratitude for being so insistent earlier this year that The Voices was one of the best films of 2015. If it wasn’t for his continuous recommendations for this psychological horror comedy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a delusional psychopath whose dog and cat talk to him (both of which are voiced by Reynolds), it might have passed me by entirely. As it happens, I’m inclined to agree with his assertion that it genuinely may be one of the most underrated gems of the entire year so far. It’s almost guaranteed to make my top 10 list when I submit it for the Failed Critics Awards (ahem, please vote in them this year as soon as you’re done with reading this article!). As Callum also pointed out in his review, to say too much about The Voices would be to spoil it for those who have yet to see it. Suffice to say, it’s a plot that escalates in its complexities as Reynolds’ character, Jerry, stops taking his meds. Whilst I’m positive there’s a message behind the film about not-so-much perhaps mental illness and how it affects people, but more about a general social conscience and how we, the mentally well, perceive them, the mentally unwell. With Jerry more contented to live in a fantasy world as it makes his grim situation more easy to digest, there’s a sadness in what feels like an uncomfortable truth. Marjane Satrapi deserves to take credit for the way she portrays Jerry’s dreamlike existence with its vibrant colours that fade or get stronger, depending on what stage his mental wellbeing is at, but I also think that Michael R Perry’s script is incredibly detailed and it just seems like the perfect combination of style and substance that’s so very rare. So if Callum’s recommendation wasn’t strong enough for you, let me add my weight behind it too. Go see it! It’s on UK Netflix right now so you have no excuses. Unless you don’t subscribe to Netflix, I guess.


Week 4: Monday 23 – Monday 30 November 2015

Monday – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – Event Horizon (1997); Friday – The Warriors (1979), Zardoz (1974); Saturday – [absolutely nothing]; Sunday – Force Majeure (2015); Monday – Cartel Land (2015), THE COMEDIAN’S GUIDE TO SURVIVAL (2016)

James-bombing-on-stageI’m not going to talk about The Hunger Games again. I made my feelings quite clear on the podcast that week that it’s just not a series of films I’ve particularly enjoyed. In fact, I am struggling to think of a series of movies that I’ve invested so much time into and got so little out of with each passing entry in the series. Especially as I didn’t even enjoy the first bloody one! Instead, I’m going to talk about (and not review) a film that I went to see the test screening of in London that’s due for release sometime next year. It’s called The Comedian’s Guide To Survival and stars James Buckley (Jay from The Inbetweeners) as the struggling stand-up comedian, James Mullinger. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because Mullinger is not only an actual professional comedian with his own TV show, but is also (and more importantly, I’m sure) the co-host of the first Failed Critics spin-off podcast, Underground Nights, along with Paul Field. The movie about his life (which he wrote along with director Mark Murphy) had an audience test screening that Paul, Carole and I went along to see at the Courthouse Hotel. It’s a bit weird going to see a film about the life of someone you kind-of know. Mostly, as Paul and I discussed on our way there, what happens if the film turns out to be.. well.. shit? Do you lie about it? Do you not say anything at all? As it turned out, it wasn’t an issue, because the film was thankfully very funny. With support from various British comedy actors such as Paul Kaye, Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap and so on, I think it could go on to be a success next year. Word of warning, though: don’t buy a round of drinks at Soho hotels. £28 for three drinks! What a rip off. (Cheers for that by the way, Carole. I’ll buy you one next time….)


And that’s it. Only one more of these to go that I will be scrabbling around to write in the following few weeks. If you’ve any thoughts about the reviews above, or if you disagree and want to tell me why I’m wrong, leave a comment in the box below or message me over on Twitter at @ohughes86. See you all in the new year!

Failed Critics Podcast: The Good Bridge of Dinosaur Spies

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We’re back to our normal routine today with Steve Norman and Owen Hughes joined by Callum Petch. There’s not a single professional comedian amongst them after the first episode of Paul Field and James Mullinger’s Underground Nights popped up in your podcast subscription software of choice this past weekend.

And what a bumper crop of new release reviews we have in store for you! Four new movies that have hit your cinema screens recently, including: The new Pixar dramedy, The Good Dinosaur; Black Mass, a crime biopic starring Johnny Depp; a film that Callum describes as “perfect” in Carol; and cold war drama Bridge of Spies, the latest Spielberg and Hanks collaboration.

All of this plus a look at the new Captain America: Civil War and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice trailers and a bunch of other stuff that we’ve seen this past week. Callum boldly goes where millions of others have gone before and inducts himself into the Star Trek universe via the original motion picture. Meanwhile, Steve talks us through a post apocalyptic horror like so many more before it with Hidden and rounds up this season of The Walking Dead. There’s also still time for Owen to talk about a film that very few have seen before after attending the test screening of The Comedians Guide to Survival, a movie starring James Buckley (Jay from The Inbetweeners) about the life of James Mullinger (yes, that guy from Underground Nights).

Join Owen and Steve again for more “film related nonsense” with returning guest Andrew Brooker.

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