Tonight is Zoom quiz night with buddies from the north east of England. An inquisitorial and musical shindig, borrowing from traditional variety entertainment formats utilised by Old Time Music Hall and, latterly, TV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
None of the six-eight participants/performers of our clambake bear the great names of music hall entertainers like Archie ‘Barley’ Harkness, Talbot ‘Wheat” Grain or Bessie ‘Hops’ Lyth. Or indeed receive the adoration those acts of yore enjoyed from discerning audiences.
Having never heard any of that trios late 19th century performances, yours truly can’t make informed critiques of Harkness, Grain or Lyth’s work. I can say, though, around that time the fashion of employing crop based stage names appeared rampant.
Our quiz night doesn’t bear a cast from the entertainment top table. However, I’d like to think the brio received from our evening of quizzing, live music and whimsy attains a similar glee plateau as that experienced by Leeds City Varieties audiences in the early 20th century.
An era where bonneted ladies in long petticoats stormed the stage after hearing ‘housewives choice’ Kurt ‘Chipper’ Wentworth’s inaugural performance of his jocular refrain Whipping Top & Daisy Dooes. Chipper’s risqué song, borrowing strongly from the double entendre laden British postcard humour from the late 19th/early 20th century, reportedly sending the ladies into a frenzy.
The upbeat Chipper gaining his nickname from the response he seemingly always gave when asked how he was feeling. If his habitual reply to that query had of been “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.”, I’d envisage he’d have acquired the stage name Kurt ‘I’m Fine. Thanks For Asking.’ Wentworth.
The above a ridiculous moniker which’d only be usurped by fellow early 20th century entertainer Arthur ‘My Prostate Is Playing Up’ Piledriver as the most preposterous name in show business.
I’ve been mulling over, In the unlikely scenario myself or my quiz buddies one day tread the stage as members of entertainments top table, what stage names would we employ to spice up our uninspiring birth titles?
My initial thoughts are the following, with explanations of how those dubious nicknames may come about:-
a) Ian ‘Pass The Corkscrew’ Strachan – My guitar playing brother Ian is fond of the odd tipple of the old vino. Despite this, our kid enhances the shindig’s entertainment levels by playing songs he’s written, and at the end of the evening inadvertently speaking in Tongues.
b) Gary ‘You’re Nicked Son’ Hannah – Mr H is a copper, whose party piece is whistling Cornish folk songs on his police whistle. Mystifyingly brings his taser to the online Zoom quiz.
c) Tim ‘Monty Don’ Marrison – A part-time gardener, Timothy is an accomplished guitarist with the multi-tasking wherewithal to play the whole James Taylor back catalogue with his cat balancing on the guitar. That being said, his attempts at balancing on the guitar while the cat plays have been infinitely less successful.
d) Tony ‘Not Ridley’s Brother’‘ Scott – Mr S is a retired vampire, who likes to make it clear he’s not the sibling of Ridley Scott and, apart from the odd bout of indigestion, garlic has never really troubled him. Forgetful of mind, this staunch socialist he once tied himself to the Tyne Bridge to protest about something, but he couldn’t remember what.
e) Jeff ‘I’ve Never Met The Pope” Patterson – As there are a plethora of many other religious leaders he’s never met, I’ve absolutely no idea why I’ve given Jeff this nickname for the purpose of this prose. The brain box of the group his neurological capacity comes in handy for translating my brother Ian’s dialogue in Tongues.
f) Mick ‘The Meters On‘ Todd – Employed within the taxi trade, Toddy knows all you need to know about camshafts, alternators, and advising passengers “Did you know I’ve a mate who can whistle Cornish folk songs?”…….. As the rest of us know bugger all about car mechanics, Mick’s camshaft, alternator, and advising passengers “Did you know I’ve a mate who can whistle Cornish folk songs?” questions are deeply unpopular.
g) Scott ‘Yus M’Lady’ Parker – A pragmatic, undemonstrative fella, Scott normally acts as the facilitator of our Zoom evenings. His occupation a lecturer in Pragmatism and Undemonstrativeness at a Northamptonshire university. When not rabble rousing and organising protests on campus, he spends his days shouting at unruly students, imparting the importance of remaining pragmatic and undemonstrative. A fine guitarist, we’re hoping he proves it one of the evenings.
h) Darrin ‘Are You’ Shaw – A business executive, D rarely attends these entertaining evenings. His lame excuses varying from he’s allergic to Tim’s cat and Mick’s camshaft queries to he’s going through the menopause. Ordinarily the self appointed leader of this unruly crew, his organising skills are so accomplished he has on many occasions arranged piss ups in breweries without incident..
g) Gary ‘Of Course It’s Not True’‘ Strachan – Erratic of thought, deed and joke quality, the now Yorkshire based fella acts as Tony Scott’s garlic dealer. Their clandestine transactions surreptitiously taking place in the fictional book aisle of Low Fell library. Like Jeff Patterson, he’s never met the Pope.