Chris McQueer: The Madness of Reality

words fae shaun mccluskey (@shaunmccluskey)
photo fae vanessa murphy (@vanessamurphy)

Glasgow’s Chris McQueer is kept busy with his full-time job where he dishes out tankings for a living. But on the odd occasion where everyone has been tanked for the day and he isn’t hanging out with his best friend, Brian from Glow – he can often be found relaxing and unwinding, typing away at his computer: sending tweets and writing short stories… both of which he’s actually very good at. On Thursday night, McQueer – who, for the record, shat it from my offer of a fight – put on his longest show to date in Ashton Lane’s Grosvenor Cinema. A whole 2 hours of stories, stand-up and short films. Whilst he may have found the running time daunting, it honestly flew in and was an absolute delight from start to end.

Chris read a selection of short stories from his debut book Hings to kick off the evening’s proceedings. It has been described by many as ‘Limmy meets Irvine Welsh’, and such comparisons are certainly justified. Less than a year from its release, Hings has become somewhat of a cult classic amongst Glasgow’s literary and non-literary scene. It’s received great reviews from the press, people have taken it on holiday with them and posted photos with it across the world, a friend of mine was even given it as a leaving present from his work – and folk that I know full well canny read have posted about how much they love it. Chris has made reading cool again for those of us with a vernacular so often looked down upon.

I’ve had the pleasure of digitally knowing (@ChrisMcQueer) for the past couple of years. I stumbled across a story of his about a mind-controlling Moth, and it was clear even then that he had a real knack for storytelling. Over the years, Chris’ stories have only gotten better, with his latest short ‘Afterlife’ offering a comical take on what comes next and the sort of food you can expect your granny to cook for you when you get there. Last year, Chris quit his job selling shoes + signed a publishing deal with 404ink. It wasn’t long until HINGS began to come together for the man aff Twitter.

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Chris spoke during the show about his time selling shoes, notably one interaction with a kid and his dad, and how it inspired his story ‘Crisp Packets’. In the story, the boy is told that footballers had to wear empty crisp packets on their feet in the days before fitba bits were invented. He then makes an absolute arse of himself on live telly when he grows up to become a football pundit. We were also treated to a new story, ‘Sammy the Crime Scene Cleaner’, from Chris’ as of yet untitled second book which is (hopefully) set to be released this Autumn.

McQueer’s work is grounded in the absurd nature of daily life in Glasgow. Therefore, The Madness of Reality is the perfect title for the show, because that’s exactly what it is: surrealist observational comedy, in realistic and familiar settings. His stories are so honestly told, with such great characters, that you listen to them thinking ‘this isn’t even surreal in the traditional sense, but this could definitely only happen in Glasgow’.

The biggest thing that I took away from the show was just how well McQueer’s written material translates into different mediums, and how great the short film adaptations of his work were. Working alongside Grave Day Productions (David Gray and Kris Cummins who produce content for BBC the Social + BBC Short Stuff), two of McQueer’s existing works were transformed into hilarious laugh-a-second shorts. ‘The Wee Voice’ sees David eat a urinal cake following instruction from his intrusive thoughts which suggests ‘come on, it’ll be funny’. ‘Mairried’ tells the story of a wee Glesga gran that discovers she hates her husband and the way that he eats prawn crackers after 50 years of marriage. And film three features a new story, co-produced by the trio, entitled ‘Road Closed’ which follows the pursuits of a young couple who encountered a road closure, on their way to their holidays at the most Instagram-able lodge in the country. I’ll leave that one at that because you’re going to absolutely love experiencing that one with no prior knowledge when it becomes available online.

The show was followed by a short Q+A, and a Santa’s grotto style Meet and Greet where you got to sit on the big man’s lap and tell him what you wanted for Christmas (the hottest new gaming device, new gutties and a copy of Hings 2 pretty please). Chris McQueer is an absolute natural storyteller and performer, with a very bright future ahead of him.

Hings is available from here and all good bookstores.

Is Baywatch (2017) Really That Bad?

By Fraser Nunn (@badknitbear)

Baywatch. It’s one of those Nostalgia bait movies that Hollywood keeps spewing out. If only they did it justice. With a few in jokes and cameos to keep a vague sense of connection, there’s little else.

There are a few good reasons to watch Baywatch and a few good reasons not to! If you walk in to the cinema looking for boobs and butts and muscles galore well then you’ve found your film.  10/10. Must see. Honestly the first 120 or so minutes, (it might be shorter but time kinda slowed down) were just gratuitous shots of Zac Efron and The Rock’s bouncing pectorals. (I know his name is Dwayne Johnson but I’m going to call him The Rock because it’s still real to me damnit!)

I went in to the film with this looming sense of fear that I would have to slate one of my greatest childhood heroes and I think that this mentality probably saved the film for me. It’s by no means a film to take seriously. One standout feature of the film that should draw in a good few punters is the barrage of names that The Rock’s Mitch Buchanan throws at Efron’s character Wonderboy, Matt Brody. This also throws out one of the best jokes in the film, a sly 4th inside joke for the audience digging into Zac’s High School Musical beginnings.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few good jokes throughout and the general feeling of the film was pretty positive. The story made sense, and gave decent character development, but let’s me serious, you didn’t go to see Baywatch expecting an emotional performance by Zac Efron or Dwayne Johnson. The films spends an elongated amount of time on one severely stretched out joke: a penis joke. Honestly, it just becomes uncomfortable. I get that stretching a joke out can sometimes make it funnier, but there are also times when it definitely kills the joke, and this is probably one of those times.

One of the vague standouts of the film was the comic relief (honestly you know they’re really struggling when a film billed as an action comedy has a comic relief character). Played by Jon Bass, he’s wacky and kinda funny and he pulls off the over the top character he’s playing and it does work in this situation. As for the over the top action sequences, they’re a bit shaky and wobbly and not great. But honestly I can’t tar the whole film with the same brush because although the end was bizarre and WAAAAAAAY over the top, The Rock has a damn fine fight scene in a kids bedroom which also provides two more of the best jokes in the film.

As a whole the film works as a stupid daft nonsense film you go see when there’s nothing else on and you fancy throwing away some cash. Or as a movie you throw on in the background when you fancy a ‘quiet night in’. From Baywatch I’ve learned that I want more Rock-Efron bromance/frenemies movies. They work as a duo and they bounce off eachother well. But with an underutilized group of secondary characters, and over the top attempts at action and comedy it’s hard to see this film as anything better than average.

5/10


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TV REVIEW: Master of None – Season 2

By Fraser Nunn (@badknitbear)

Allora! Turns out it just means ‘well’ but I can’t help but agree with our main man Dev Shah: it’s a pretty word.

Master of None seemed to catch everyone by surprise, Aziz Ansari previously being primarily seen as the pain in the ass Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation. I think a lot of us expected something more akin to his Parks and Rec role for Master of None season one but his performance as Dev Shah surprised us by being an incredibly deep ‘little bud’ that is full of life, energy and love.  If anyone watched the first series without wanting to hug him every time he smiled then I would argue that they don’t deserve Netflix. Now that the show has returned for a second season, let’s venture into this series full of wit, heart and, most importantly, pasta.

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Dev spends the early parts of the second series getting over his break-up with Rachel, and it’s evidently a pretty pivotal theme of the early half of the series: Dev spends a lot of quality alone time (not the bathroom kind), eventually meeting and gaining the phone number of a very nice British lady and then immediately losing said number to a thief. The black and white of this episode in the setting of Moderna, (vaguely ironic I suppose) makes the episode absolutely stunning and there’s something about riding a little bike around Italy and making pasta in black and white that just makes me want to be Dev.
We also see Dev dining on more pasta alone, and with his big bud, the lovable Arnold. Arnie teaches him how to say “hi cutie” to some ‘hi cuties’ and Dev takes this as an excuse to send a little ‘hi cutie’ flirtatious Gif to Rachel.  We get some obligatory pasta scenes in “Osteria Francescana”, one of the world’s best restaurants and honestly you can try not to salivate over it but that scene is amazing.  Arnie also has some ulterior motives in regards to his own lost loves which Dev has to talk him down from with the help of some tasty melon and a scooter trip. It gives Arnold some serious scenes which he sells incredibly well but it maintains its comic brilliance behind it so that no one sinks into some terrible depression over any lost loves in their own lives.

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“La Nozze” allows Arnie to bring our little Dev back to the Big Apple and back to his friends and family and new gig, hosting ‘Clash of the Cupcakes’. When back in New York, Dev has a difficult situation to face with his parents: they ask him to lie to his super religious relatives about his dedication to his faith and of course Dev obliges but feels off, he is eventually persuaded to tell the truth after a chance encounter with Denise when Dev and his Cousin skip Eid prayer to go to a Barbecue and eat Hella pork with a wide set bearded man. Obviously, this causes friction between Dev and his parents who ,I’ve got to say, I thoroughly enjoy watching on screen. Dev’s Dad Ramesh seems to quickly resolve everything by letting Dev know that he can do what he wants, eat pork, “smoke Mary Jane” but doing these things infront of his mum is not cool and “it hurts her feelings”. Soon after Dev and his mum reconcile and it just manages to be another amazing episode in the series and is probably one of my favourites of the second season.

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The season continues, as does the theme of break ups, seeing Dev start to delve into the terrifying and daunting world of online dating. It’s immediately clear that they’re tackling both the ease of access of the new online dating community as well as the idea of over dating: you can see Dev meets a total mix of people from friends he already knew, new friends he thought he had a chance with and the racist he goes home with. This episode lets us see into the world of moving on and Dev stares down rejection and girls he has no interest in, and through that we see some hilarious interactions and truly awkward moments and a totally new side to Dev and the way it’s cut makes each First Date work so well together.

We start to see a bit of a shift in the direction of the series when Dev’s lovely Italian friend comes over from Moderna. Francesca and Pino take a trip to New York, while Dev weighs up his happiness at “Clash of The Cupcakes” as we see him growing more and more unenthusiastic about his “uninspiring” role. Dev and Francesca visit a musuem together and start to catch up while Pino has to work. This is the first time we see Dev start to mix his work and personal life, as he meets up with producer and celebrity Chef Jeff who invites him and a guest to a dinner party. Dev weighs up who to take, contemplating one of the girls from the previous episode, but after 2 dates the conversation has gone flat (not sparkling) so instead he takes Francesca and immediately we see the flicker of excitement as something starts to brew beneath the surface. This episode is probably one that doesn’t have as much magic as the rest of the Series but Dev’s interactions are amazing, and there’s no doubt romance is in the air as soon as the John Legend cameos behind a grand piano.

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It’s not often you see a series step away from its main character and focus on the people they pass on the street. Master of None manages this beautifully as we meet a barrage of New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives. We meet Eddie the doorman, the loveliest doorman in New York, a man who does everything he can for those who inhabit his building. He attempts to medicate a parakeet on incredibly vague instruction, and is taken advantage of by a horny Mr Strickland and his mistress. When caught, Strickland lets out a tyrade against the poor doorman, who ain’t taking none of it. Honestly this segment is excellent, a primarily ignored doorman becomes the sole focus and it sits so well, it’s easy to love Eddie and it’s just as easy to love Maya, the store clerk who is having a little trouble in the bedroom department.

Maya is deaf and it makes for one of the most interesting scenes in the series, with no sound and all interactions in subtitled American sign language, it’s easy for the characters to think they have privacy, and their topic of conversation provides one of the funniest scenes of the show so far.

The transitions were amazing and we’re led seamlessly into meeting Samuel the taxi driver who lives in a cramped little apartment with his roommates. They save up their cash to head out for a night on the town and get turned away from the nightclub they’re hoping for, eventually being persuaded into a shady little bar blasting ‘vengaboys’. The boys leave and meet a group of girls and they get to partying in a closed burger shop! Once again, it’s just an incredible sequence which manages to create a sense of belonging for these characters who are simply passersby in the life of Dev as they all venture to the Cinema.

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Vaguely reminiscent of the episode dedicated to parents in season one, we have door 3. Dev grows increasingly exasperated by his job hosting Clash of the Cupcakes, leading him to seek wisdom from papa Ramesh (the best part of any episode). Dev’s story is not the sole focus here as well, as we see Dev’s good friend Brian and his dad, who has just started dating again. Caught between two woman, who each have a trait Brian’s dad can’t resist. Honestly, the interactions between both father and son parties makes this episode amazing, incredibly funny and one warning to anyone who visits Dr Ramesh Shah’s practice, don’t touch his trinkets. Dev’s story leads to him having the opportunity to pitch a new show idea to Chef Jeff, which he takes to immediately but Dev’s mind is elsewhere with the news of Francesca and Pino’s engagement. 

It’s not often that you get two absolute belters from a show but that’s exactly what Master of None consistently offers, especially when after ‘New York, I love you’ we are gifted the absolute peach that is Dev’s Thanksgiving traditions. The episode is primarily flashbacks seeing the growth of his friendship with Denise or apparently… DD. It shows Dev’s relationship with Denise’s family and how welcomed he is as part of the family. We see how Denise’s mum and her aunt take to the relationships she has, their reactions to her coming out as a lesbian and her partners. Denise’s mum struggles with the idea at the time but Denise knew from a young age and shared the information with Dev. Thanksgiving gives the opportunity for Denise to introduce her partners to her family and some go down better than others (nipplesandtoes23. Not nipples&toes23. Nipplesandtoes23). But this episode is riddled with poignant emotional moments that are full of love and humour and seeing Dev in this kind of family shows how tight he is with his friends, and how much love he has for them.

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By this point we somehow find ourselves at the last few episodes of the season and the only problem so far has been “how did we get to the end already”. It’s one of those whirlwind series that disappear before your very eyes. It maintains focus and it feels like the main story is simply a side plot for the simple reason that it is a side plot. Dev’s life is the main story, and the Best Food Friends storyline and the Francesca storyline slide in to be a massive part of his life. I don’t actually want to ruin any of this for anyone who’s still to catch the last few episodes. The rest of the series is one of those series where nothing major happens and nothing really exists as a spoiler but the last two episodes are what everything has been leading up to and none of it disappoints!

The series as a whole is full of warmth: it’s beautiful, poignant and smart. It’s witty and has a sense of normalcy about it. There’s no extravagance, no bells or whistles, just a lot of love in the life of everyone’s little bud, Dev. Give it a go if you like understated, if you like colourful, if you like character based humour or if you like dramady: in short, just give it a go.


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TRACK REVIEW: Sunrise Skater Kids – Rylo Ken

If you couldn’t tell from the release date of Sunrise Skater Kids debut album being April 1st then it’s worth mentioning the band are as much of a legitimate emo band as The Lonely Island are a hip hop act. After last year’s success with his satirical album Beating A Dead Horse, Jarrod Alonge is returning next month under this aforementioned parody band name with a bunch of guest vocalists set to join him as he pokes fun at a genre fronted by men in their late 20’s for girls and guys in their teens.

Varrick Jay, a friend of Alonge and frontman of Insomniac, is the lead vocals on SSK’s latest track Rylo Ken which is vastly different to the track that came before it Pit Warrior. The high octane, snarling guitar full sound has been swapped out for a calmer, acoustic one which won’t be anything new for anyone who has listened to music ever. The fact of the matter is though that no one listens to these songs for the instrumentals and breakdowns, enjoyable as they are, they’re here for the laughs and thankfully there’s plenty.

Showcasing a wit that Weird Al made a name for himself out of, we get a song from the perspective of Darth Vader’s number one fan Kylo Ren which perfectly suits a genre that is best known for being full of songs that are essentially just moaning about mundane things. Complaining about how no one will ever understand him and saying “I hate you Dad”, it’s clear Alonge has a clear knack for making hilarious tracks and hasn’t just went for whatever is popular to parody, instead choosing his subject matter carefully which results in some of the best comedic music I’ve heard since Ninja Sex Party.

With Sunrise Skater Kid’s debut album just mere days away, I’ll have my khaki shorts on and my pizza at the ready to witness what other side splitting stuff the “band” have to offer.

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Top 5 Peep Show Moments

For a lack of a better term, Peep Show is generation defying. While most would point out something like Friends or even Game of Thrones would usually be the first guess, the unlikely successful sitcom introduced us to Mark (David Mitchell) and Jeremy (Robert Webb), the most loveable pricks on television. Nowadays it’s hard to go anywhere without hearing a quote or trying to match the same laid back attitude as Super Hans which makes it all the more difficult to not only face that the show’s final season is about to air but that we have to cut its greatest moments to just 5 entries.

Jezed up the interview – Season 1, Episode 2

Where better to start off than an episode straight out the first season, an important one not only for the introduction of the hated Jeff Heaney but also the hilarious scene where Mark tries to get Jeremy a job at his work.

What follows is an absolute train wreck of an interview where Jeremy’s trademark ego comes out to play, trying to sell a pyramid scheme to his hopeful employer and calling out Mark for “pissing on my bonfire” and “fancying elves and pixies.” So if you’re ever in the same situation, just know you can’t screw up nearly as much as Jeremy. I hope. 

Best quotes #1 – “I like you, and if you can’t handle it, you can just..you know…fuck off.”

Too close for comfort – Season 5, Episode 2

If you’ve ever watched The Inbetweeners, another successful Channel 4 sitcom, then you’ll know how cringy protagonist Will and his antics are, especially anything sexual. Before Will though there was Mark, a slightly older yet just as awkward guy whose pursuits with women bring the show some of its most hilarious moments, the most notable probably being this office foreplay moment that includes a…chat about cheese? As Mark leaves the cupboard with post it notes and a stain on his trousers, viewers also leave with something gross etched into their minds.

Best quotes #2“Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. If she fucks him, I’ll kill myself.”

Gotta hans it to him – Season 3, Episode 2

The aforementioned Super Hand is arguably the show’s best character, providing some of the best laughs with Matt King putting on such a brilliant performance in his audition he managed to beat Russell Brand for the role! This moment showcased this perfectly, teaming up with Jeremy to try and get Mark sectioned to get the rights for a pub. “There’s a pigeon in Catalonia that’s in control of his legs” is all he has to say to make chaos ensue, showcasing the amazing chemistry between all the characters.

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Best quotes #3 – 

“Jez, can you tell me, yeah, as a mate, someone that knows me really well, is the bottom half of me on fire?”

Bark bigger than his bite – Season 4 Episode 5

I remember watching this episode when it aired, back in the days before Netflix was your number one stop for binge watching. The thing about this entry though is it’s pretty much the whole episode since it’s so eventful yet hilarious. From running over and killing the pet of a girl Jeremy is trying to hit on to trying to burn said evidence to then EATING said pet in front of said girl, the episode is so ridiculous in its premise yet I can’t stop laughing when Jeremy just tries to play it off as “undercooked, disgusting turkey”.

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Best quotes #4“This is like watching a porno. Except I can’t see anything, I haven’t got a hard-on and I want to cry.”

Did nazi it coming – Season 1, Episode 4

Making friends is difficult. All your worries before college or uni weren’t about surviving on £2 ready meals for a month, it was “will I have any friends”. Mark struggles just as much as anyone. Hell, the bloody episode is titled Mark Makes A Friend. While Daryl seems all lovely at first, just a minute into discussion he turns out to be, well, a nazi. “Oh bollocks. Of course, I can’t just make a nice, normal friend, that would be too simple” Mark says before his new pal shouts “Heil Hitler”. Could be worse I suppose…

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Best quotes #5“Jeff’s doing a joke, Jeff’s doing a joke, everybody quiet ’cause Jeff’s doing a joke!”

 

Big love, Liam x

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