Fun Facts

The fire alarm has been screeching out false alerts in my building for weeks now. At random and inconvenient times I’ve been shaken awake or disturbed mid dinner by a sound so loud it travels through one’s body, deafening all the senses. I’m glad to know the alarm system works, but not glad I had to chat to a landlord representative at 11pm the other night after having to make another stroppy phone call. This gentleman didn’t seem to take what I was saying seriously until my neighbour backed me up; this was also after he’d referred to my neighbour as my husband. My feminist instincts were rather riled but I chose to remain silent since there was no reason in getting even angrier when I was going to have to try and get to sleep shortly thereafter, and this argument was not going to dismantle the patriarchy with a single bitter-tongued lecture.

The pervasiveness of everyday sexism and the dominance of the patriarchy have been highlighted to me in the last year by the hilarious comedian Deborah Frances-White on her fantastic podcast The Guilty Feminist (which I strongly recommend for all humans). It addresses the double standard in society and our unconscious biases through humour, making a potentially thorny topic we should all be talking about engaging and accessible. Getting tickets to a recording of this podcast has proved near impossible due to its popularity (I’ll get there one day). In the meanwhile though, I thought I’d get a couple of tickets to Frances-White’s other podcast: Global Pillage.

Linda Kupo

Deborah Frances-White from her website as photographed by Linda Kupo

A newer show I’ve heard promoted but not actually listened to, Global Pillage as described on their website: “Global Pillage is a brand new comedy panel show podcast all about idiom, culture, customs and norms”. Not doing much more research than that a buddy and I went along to see what this was all about.

We arrived at Kings Place just in time to find seats before they started. Frances-White gave an introduction about the show and we rehearsed a couple of audience participation bits; saying the word ‘idioms’ in unison and with enthusiasm took a little bit of practice. She also asked if there were any international audience members to contribute an idiom which we may not be familiar with in the UK. My friend identified us as being South African but we were ‘let off the hook’ by other nationalities that hadn’t featured on the show before.


Waiting panellists Rev Kate Harford, Sophie Duker, Sarah Bennetto and Athena Kugblenu

The format of the show had two teams of diverse comedians being asked their interpretation of what various sayings and customs from other countries meant for points. The audience were included as the third team under the title of ‘Hive Mind’. We could shout out suggestions of what we thought once the comedians had made their guesses and vote for a preferred answer by buzzing. Points were awarded by the question writer and ‘Pedant in Chief’ Ned Sedgwick.

The team names were a source of hilarity all on their own, with one team going under ‘Holy Queers’ while the other was ‘Plant Based’. Under questioning the team admitted that neither of them were actually vegan so to avoid controversy their name was caveated with the subtitle ‘Plus cheese and fish, we’re trying’. Inclusivity in action there.

The podcast opened with us all singing along to the theme tune as it was played live on piano by the talented Kirsty Newton. Midway through the first round our South African origins came in handy for a cultural question. I tried to help Frances-White pronounce the word ‘Xhosa’ when I recognised that’s what she was referring to. Explaining that this tribe was local to our home town I proceeded to try and explain the ‘Xh’ of the name was pronounced with a lateral tongue click, which of course is tricky when you’ve not really tried before. We abandoned that idea eventually, and we still managed to not get the answer to the question right anyway after much mirth.


Traditional use of blankets in Xhosa culture formed one of the questions

The questions for the episode were all themed under manhood rituals and customs and I must admit it left me feeling a bit smarter and armed with lots of unusual icebreaker facts; ready for any awkward conversation stagnation during this festive party season. The recording went quite quickly, despite a few technical hiccups. Frances-White then announced the panel would change and they would be recording a second episode which delighted me. This second show had a dairy theme with one particularly interesting historical fact about yoghurt, which I will leave for you to discover when the episode is released next week.

It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It was great to see some comedians I’ve heard and enjoyed before on other podcasts, as well as learning some bizarre facts while chortling. Having the live piano reminded me a little of being in school, the difference being I was enjoying myself this time and I knew there wasn’t going to be an exam on any of the facts. The definition of ‘win win’ I feel.

Listening to the first episode, which was released at the beginning of this week, I had a special chuckle hearing my friend’s voice giving an answer suggestion too. I shouted out an answer towards the end of the second show so I’m looking forward to that being released soon. Global Pillage is available wherever you get your podcasts or you can click through to their website here where you can scroll down to find episodes. The first episode mentioned above is titled “Coming of Age”. I recommend, it’s great fun.