Janey Godley in GOOD GODLEY

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

23/05/2006 - 27/05/2006

ODDFELLOWS Comedy Festival

Production Details

Janey Godley

Described by the UK press as “a gangster’s moll”, Scottish comedienne, actress, playwright and best-selling author – Janey Godley returns to New Zealand this festival season. Her last visit in 2002 saw her take home the Best Show Concept. The New Zealand Herald wrote that she “demands intelligence from her audience – and rewards it well.”

This year, Janey will be performing runs of her near-legendary comedy show GOOD GODLEY! in both Auckland and Wellington. In addition she has also been selected to perform in the LINDAUER Comedy Divas showcases and to feature in the festival opening gala, filmed live for a national television audience.

A term used commonly by the media to describe Janey is “unique”.  Brought up in near-Dickensian poverty in Glasgow, from the ages 5-13 she was sexually abused and relentlessly raped by her uncle (whom she successfully prosecuted and got imprisoned around 30 years later). Aged 18, she married into a Glasgow gangster family. Her mother was murdered by a psychopathic boyfriend, her body thrown into the River Clyde. Janey ran a pub in the tough East End of Glasgow for 14 years, where stabbings and slashings were common and even crucifixion was not unknown. During the ‘Trainspotting’ years, 17 of her friends died from heroin in a 22 month period. All this is the subject of GOOD GODLEY! – she has received wild critical raves for this comedy monologue about child abuse, murder and gangsters.

When GOOD GODLEY! was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2004, the London Times reported that Janey risked arrest because of a claim she made during the show’s final 9-minute anecdote. If prosecuted, she faced a charge with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in the UK. The New York Times called GOOD GODLEY! “some of the sharpest-elbowed comedy in the world”. The Glasgow Herald wrote: “If all of this show is true, and she is extremely convincing, she must have a damn good lawyer.” The Financial Times review read: “It’s not unlike the sensation of shock and delight, thirty years ago, of seeing very early Billy Connolly.”

The same subjects are also covered more seriously in her bestselling 2005 autobiography “Handstands in the Dark”. Her 19-year-old daughter Ashley Storrie, a central character in that book, will accompany Janey on her New Zealand visit.

For full details and background visit www.janeygodley.co.uk, which has links to her extraordinary and award-winning daily online blog, carried by at least 30 websites worldwide.

Tue 23 – Sat 27 May, 8.30pm
Downstage Theatre
Bookings:  04 801 6946, www.downstage.co.nz

Tue 30 May – Sat 3 June, 8.30pm
Silo Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, City Dates:
Bookings: Ticketmaster 09 970 9700

Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,


Feisty fighter fascinates

Review by John Smythe 23rd May 2006

With a life like hers behind her, Janey Godley (not her real name) from Glasgow is a living example of the efficacy of comedy for healing a wounded soul.

She has also written an autobiography – Handstands in the Dark (Ebury Press/Random House, 2005) – about the poverty, dysfunctional family life, sexual abuse (at the hands of an uncle), criminal in-laws and encounters with the law that forms the surprising substance of her comedy show.

While she claims the show changes every night, there is a strong through line. A clearly signalled set-up involving her ambidextrousness leads to a payoff at the end that no-one could predict.

Janey – "Don’t judge me, I had a hard childhood" – Godley is a feisty fighter who shocks us out of our complacency with colourfully expressed truths. She forbears to use as weapons, however, but climbs over them, triumphantly, as if they were slag heaps invented to give us all a better view.

There is a perverse fascination to be had in witnessing this product of that life, live before our very eyes, celebrating the human capacity to survive against extraordinary odds. And peppered throughout are more prosaic observations about more recent experiences, like flying into Wellington for example.

The best stuff is not in her book and is unlike anything I’ve heard from a stand-up comic before. She tells it as secrets not to breathed outside the theatre. The legal implications are huge. Besides, as a survivor she knows how to get bums on her seats.


John Smythe June 2nd, 2006

AN INSIDE STORY from Janey’s editor [John Fleming]: Re your comment about Janey's show changing every night... If it's of interest, the background is this... At the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Janey did a show called "Caught In The Act of Being Myself". This got 12 visits from the Perrier panel who decide on the annual Perrier Award - the top comedy award at the Fringe. I have talked to two of the judges that year. There was a gigantic verbal fight over whether or not to nominate Janey for the Perrier because it wasn't until they actually sat down and discussed her show that they fully realised she was making it all up as she went along... They had seen 12 completely different comedy shows. She was ad-libbing a totally different 60-minute show every night for three weeks. Part of the panel argued strongly she should be nominated; part argued she could not be under the Perrier rules. Eventually, it was decided she had to be barred from nomination because she was not actually performing "a show" - she was, in effect, just chatting to the audience. The Perrier Award is given for performing a show. The next year - 2004 - her Fringe show was "Good Godley!" - which she and I discussed in advance because it is based on her autobiography, which I edited - and, to avoid this Perrier problem happening again, she structured the show so that it had (I think it was) six true anecdotes which were told every night. And, in Edinburgh, the final 9-minute anecdote about the guns was exactly the same each night. The tech operator flashed a light 9 minutes from the billed end of the show, Janey abandoned whatever she was talking about (without the audience noticing) and embarked on the 9-minute story, ending exactly on time to within about 30 seconds every night. Within the structure of six or so stories every night, she was able to ad lib both in the links and in the way she told the stories. But they couldn't say it was not a structured show and could not say it varied in structure each night. She almost got nominated for the Perrier again but didn't and, well, basically, figured "Fuck it". In 2005, her show "Janey Godley Is Innocent" had a general list of possible subjects, but varied from night to night. Earlier this year, she performed "Janey Godley - Unscripted!" at the Glasgow Comedy Festival and she was also going to do this at the 2006 Fringe, but found venue owners got nervous when she told them she would just ad-lib three weeks of one-hour shows. (She has never ever actually written down any show, including "Good Godley!"). Because of this, she decided to call her new show "Janey Godley's Blog - Live!" and explained in detail to venues what would be in it. All made up, of course. In fact, like last year, she will have a general list of possible stories in her mind - who knows? - maybe 20? - and she might use 5 or 6 of these each night - never exactly the same ones - as the fancy takes her. And she'll change the way she tells them each night. It will all be about stories she has written in her blog; or things which have resulted from it; or people she has met or had dealings with as a result of blogging. Which - if you think it through - is basically just ANYTHING she wants to talk about which has happened to her in the last two years. As her blog is about the interesting parts of her life, she'll just talk about her life. As she just tells true stories on stage, she doesn't need any script to remind her what happens. She simply tells each story in the way that will have most effect on a particular unique audience each night, as she leads them to the story's climax. Different audiences; different telling of different stories. So the short explanation is that "Good Godley!" does have a structure - setting up the ambidextrous hand... 5 or 6 stories... then the pretty-much-exactly-the-same-every-night final story. But how she gets from story to story and what she adds in depends on what's happened that day or the day before - she'll just tell the audience things that have tickled her fancy. And, with Janey, it's the telling of the story that becomes funny - the journey is as funny as the punchline. After all, there's nothing in any way funny at all about any of the facts in the stories she tells in "Good Godley!" - about child rape, murder, drugs and being arrested. It's the way she tells 'em that is funny.... It's the ultimate triumph of comic ability and comedy timing over content... Hope that's of some interest! Best wishes, John [Fleming] -- WEBSITE: www.TheJohnFleming.com * * * * * EDINBURGH FRINGE Janey Godley - www.janeygodley.co.uk/fringe2006 Ian Watt - www.ianblairwatt.co.uk/cut * * * * * BOOKS ON SALE NOW: "HANDSTANDS IN THE DARK" The Autobiography of Janey Godley (editor John Fleming) www.janeygodley.co.uk/book.html "SIT-DOWN COMEDY" Original fiction by 19 stand-up comics (editors John Fleming & Malcolm Hardee)

John Smythe May 28th, 2006

Interesting - that proves JG is telling the truth when she says the telling of her tale varies each time. HC's hairdo was not mentioned on opening night in Wellington.

Shel May 27th, 2006

Her show was intense and side splittingly funny at the same time. I was fascinated by the Wellington audience's rather mixed reaction to the commentary on Helen Clark's haircut!

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