Category Archives: Comedy

775. A Rambling Chat with James (June 2022)

My brother James comes back onto the podcast for a conversation about the hot weather, tricky WordPress updates, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, Rock Music concert movies, Alan Partridge’s live show, Irish/British relations and plenty more.

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Introduction Transcript (the audio version might be slightly different)

Hello listeners,

I hope you are doing fine today, and I mean that and I sincerely hope that you’re doing ok and that my podcast brings you some level of comfort.

You know my main aim is to help you with your English with these episodes by either teaching you language directly or by just providing you with a natural source of spoken English with my content, but also I hope to give you some enjoyment, and if that is any kind of remedy for the more serious and difficult things going on, then I’m glad.

Recently I was in London, wasn’t I, staying at my brother James’ place for a long weekend. You might remember that. In the episode we recorded together on the Friday, about the Royal Family, I mentioned that I was planning to record two conversations with James, one about the Royals, and another episode about whatever we felt like talking about. You heard the one about the Royals of course, but we didn’t actually get round to doing the second one.

But a few listeners got in touch wondering about the second conversation with James. It seems he has a bit of a fan club out there, which is no surprise I would say. 

So just the day before yesterday I sent James a Whatsapp message to see when he might be free to record another episode, online this time, and he immediately wrote back saying “I can do it now if you want”. 

I had about 1 hour before I had to go and get my daughter from school so I wrote back saying “Yes, great – let’s do it!” And a few minutes later we were recording a conversation, and that’s what you’re going to hear in this episode.

Now, my intention with episodes like this is to let you listen to a natural conversation in English, with all the usual features of spontaneous speaking. If you like you can imagine that you’re just in the room with James and me as we have a bit of a chat. 

Now, conversations like this, between friends (or in this case brothers) usually go in lots of different directions, don’t they? They don’t usually just stick to just one topic. They move from one thing to the other, they wind this way and that, there are tangents, serious moments, funny moments. That’s how informal conversations work. We’re rambling, basically. I mean, I’m rambling right now too. I’m rambling about how this episode features plenty of rambling. It’s like rambling on the top of rambling – or like Inception for rambling.

So, here’s a run down of the topics that come up in this conversation. I’m saying this to give you a kind of road map – as if to say “here is the main route or path of this journey today. We’re going to go here, then here, then there, then here and so on” – just in order to give you an overview of the conversation which might help your comprehension. Instead of presenting you with a slow, scripted conversation I am throwing you in at the deep end, but also throwing you a rubber ring, so you have at least a fighting chance of not drowning. 

Topics (A mix of serious stuff and not-serious stuff)

  • We start with the recently hot weather in Europe, and when that turns to the slightly depressing but important subject of the climate crisis we transition to a different subject, because we’re trying to keep it light – and we talk about what we both had for lunch and about eating habits and the challenge of eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, plus the pros and cons of eating salmon on a regular basis. That’s /sæmən/ not /sælmɒn/.
  • Then James shares what he was doing before I called him – trying to update a website using WordPress php and we talk about horrible moments when you get error messages when working on a computer.
  • During my lunch that day I was watching the new Obiwan Kenobi Star Wars TV series on Disney+ and we talk about that – just a few brief comments really. Not a full review. See if you can spot the vocabulary that James uses to describe the show.
  • This leads us to wonder about Jawas from Star Wars (side characters that appear in the SW universe), and the mystery of what they really look like under their brown hoods. Don’t worry – the SW chat is kept to a minimum.
  • Then we turn to the subject of rock music concerts and Neil Young’s live concert video called Rust Never Sleeps, which appears to feature some jawas, which is odd. 
  • We also talk about some other classic rock music festival movies including Woodstock, Rolling Stones at Altamont and The Last Waltz. So get your denim jacket ready.
  • We describe Jimi Hendrix’s historic version of the Star Spangled Banner performed at Woodstock, which also became an astounding statement against the Vietnam war.
  • We give some responses to comments from listeners on our recent conversation about The Royal Family, and also questions about why James doesn’t appear on video in my episodes.
  • James describes his recent experience of seeing the Alan Partridge live comedy stage show, called “Stratagem” at the O2 Arena in London recently. He gives a kind of review of the show and the venue, and describes a fight between two guys which happened in the bar afterwards.
  • We dissect some frogs – specifically several jokes from the Alan Partridge show featuring an Irish character also played by Steve Coogan.
  • This leads us back to more serious matters and the subject of Irish protest songs associated with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) which would normally never be played on the BBC but it happened in an episode of the Alan Partridge TV show. That was quite a surprising and fairly significant moment in the history of the BBC. You might learn a little bit about Irish and British relations there, and you can hear a clip of an Irish accent too.

There are some other bits and pieces too, but I’ll say no more here in this introduction. I think that’s probably enough. I hope you can keep up with the conversation – I will chat to you again a little bit at the end, but now, let’s chat to James, or as my daughter calls him: Jamie.


Ending Notes / Script

Thanks again to James. If you want to buy him a pint by the way, or just to show your appreciation or support – the best way is to visit his page on bandcamp.com and buy some of his music. jimthompson.bandcamp.com/ YOu know what, don’t tell anyone, but you might be able to see a photo of him there. And while you’re doing that, check out his music. He makes mostly electronic music, some ambient, some techno, some hip hop. You can buy his music and most of the money (if not all of it) will go directly to him. You can support him like that and also you can get some of his “choons” too, which are getting better all the time by the way. jimthompson.bandcamp.com/ 

I’m going to ramble now for some minutes. 

Some changes to premium content and how it is delivered to you.

If you’re wondering why it’s been a while since I uploaded new stuff, it’s because I am working behind the scenes to make a few changes to the way I deliver premium content to you. I have also been making a series of premium episodes but I’m holding onto them until I know exactly what is happening. That is the storytime series which I’d been meaning to do for ages. I finally got down to it and wrote about 15 stories – all true stories from my life, which I can use to teach you grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. That’s coming up on LEP Premium. Don’t worry, I am still working on that and have no intention of stopping or anything. 

Remember if you need any information about your premium account – any questions about it, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo because I have put answers to all the frequently asked questions about the premium sub there.

I also just want to say to all of you – especially the premium subscribers and people who have donated but also to those of you who listen until the end of episodes like this and leave comments and so on – thank you for supporting my show. There are always so many episodes I want to make, things I want to say and do – including different topics, different techniques, more language-focused content, returning guests, new guests – and all the things that people often request or suggest. 

There are only so many hours in a day and days in the week though. It’s tricky to do everything – and I don’t want to overload you or myself.

These are not complaints I am making by the way – nor are they excuses. I’m just attempting to have a bit of transparency here at LEP.

It’s hot! It’s now the day after the day after I recorded this conversation with my brother. It’s Friday late afternoon as I record this and the current temperature is 34 with a “feels like” temperature of 36. So it’s 36 degrees basically. I’m flippin hot, but my pod room is not too bad. The podcastle withstands the heat quite well and I don’t get any direct sunlight in my window which helps. Another thing that helps is that if I open a window in the corridor outside my room, and open the window in my room (of course) and then prop open the door of my room just a bit (if I keep it ajar by propping it open with an object – in this case a retro plastic skateboard) then I get a slight breeze blowing through the room and this really helps to keep me cool. That’s a little tip I picked up in Japan. It’s common sense of course, but it was one of the little things I used to do to try and deal with the hot summer weather there. Always try to keep the air circulating if possible, by giving the air somewhere to come from and somewhere to go. Oops, nearly got back into cotton eye joe there. Sorry for the earworm listeners.

OK, that’s enough now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. Leave your comments about these things:

  • The Obiwan Kenobi series – do you agree with James and me that it’s lacklustre, or not? 
  • Do you always get your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and how?
  • How is the weather where you are and how do you manage to cope with it? Do you have any good tips for keeping cool? Maybe you just have air conditioning, but what if you don’t?
  • What is your favourite rock concert film? We mentioned Neil Young, Rolling Stones at Altamont, The Last Waltz and Woodstock, but there are so many others. Which is your favourite? Maybe you’ve never seen one. Actually, my all-time favourite concert film is probably Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads. Amazing film. 
  • That’ll probably do actually!

Have a nice day, night, morning, evening etc, keep cool and I will speak to you soon.

Videos

Jimi Hendrix – “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock

Santana – “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock

Alan Partridge meets his Irish lookalike Martin Brennan (This Time With Alan Partridge, BBC1)

Alan Partridge talks to Martin Brennan during the live “Stratagem” show

By James a pint and listen to his music – jimthompson.bandcamp.com

772. Rambling in the Podcastle (June 2022) News / Thoughts / Reflections

This is an unedited monologue in which I talk about some things which are on my mind at the moment, including how my hair is stopping me from learning French (and vice versa), virtuous and vicious circles, how English is like a shark (or a river – or maybe a shark in a river), some comments about recent episodes and a visit from a friendly bat at my podcastle.

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Some vocabulary extracts

I have been deliberating about which microphone to choose

Geeky microphone chat

I have a plethora of microphones

People who have just stumbled across this and are wondering what this is all about

Perhaps you’re in transit somewhere, maybe you’re doing some housework, maybe you’re listening to this in a classroom while your teacher takes a well-earned break, or maybe you are lying in a floatation tank or in zero gravity in the international space station

Stick with me, and enjoy being a LEPster

Here’s a run-down of some of the things I’d like to talk about.

  • How my hair is stopping me from learning French, and vice versa – how my French is stopping me from getting a hair cut (virtious and vicious circles)
  • How my summer is looking, what my plans are and what that might mean for the podcast (busy – difficult to record podcasts in July and August – what’s new?)
  • Thoughts on recent episodes like Sick in Japan and Spinal Tap
  • Some metaphors and similes for language learning and teaching
  • That’s probably plenty!

I’ve been just sweeping it (my hair) back over my head

Maybe I’m being a bit precious about this but I can’t help feeling self-conscious

Taking initiative is very important but it can be hard. 

It can just be taking the initiative to speak, to make an effort to communicate with someone, to risk looking a bit stupid, going out of your comfort zone.

But if you take that tiny little risk, it can pay off in various ways.

You need to keep the English moving through you like a river or the water of your English will become stagnant. We all know this.

But without that little impetus to speak, you won’t do it.

If you don’t take initiative, you don’t put yourself into situations in which your confidence can develop.

Starting a virtuous circle is a matter of taking small steps in the right direction.

Micro-decisions or micro-steps.

Now I have to go out of my way to walk to the hairdresser.

Some people commented that the crowd were quiet.  Well-behaved maybe. 

I should have:

Hyped the crowd up more

Done more stand up at the start

Warmed them up by getting them to make noise. 

“French people make some noise!” Etc

I should have done more crowd work.

Spinal Tap – maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but at the end of the day I am the one who decides what happens in these episodes.

I find that with my learners it’s not just listening skills or vocabulary, but just “being on the same wavelength” and that includes things like little references to culture, or just having a certain sense of humour.

It’s also important that I do stuff that I am personally invested in, or this whole thing just won’t happen. So there.

I love teaching but sometimes I get a bit frustrated because it can be a bit like banging your head against a wall.

You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

769. Film Club: This Is Spinal Tap (with James)

A return to Luke’s Film Club with the classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap, a “mockumentary” about a fictitious rock band from the 1980s. This time I am joined by my brother James and we discuss what was once voted “Funniest comedy film of all time”. Learn some famous quotes from the film, listen to some scenes and understand the comedy with help from James and me.

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767. Amber & Paul in the Podcastle

Two hours of PodPal action for your enjoyment. This one has a bit of everything. Some audience questions, an idioms game, some dodgy jokes, accents, impressions and more. Video version available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, welcome to the podcast.

I’ve got a full two hours of Amber & Paul lined up for you here. Actually, it’s about an hour and twenty mins of Amber & Paul and maybe 45 minutes of just Paul as Amber had to leave to pick up her kids.

There’s a bit of everything in this one. It’s just the usual rambling from the podpals but we answer some listener questions, do a few accents, tell some stories and dodgy jokes and Paul and I play an idioms game at the end. It’s a pretty goofy episode which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. There is a video version on YouTube as well.

Just an announcement for any LEPsters in the Paris area. I am doing a live podcast recording and storytelling show at the British Council on 19 May at 7pm. It’s free, everyone’s welcome and all you need to do is sign up to reserve a seat. All the details are available at www.britishcouncil.fr and then click on EVENTS or événements. I’ll be telling the story of how I ended up in a Japanese hospital scared out of my wits. It’s a story of culture shock, comedy and misadventure. If you can’t come, you should be able to listen to it on the podcast, if the recording comes out ok and the show isn’t a complete flop!

Right, so let’s get back to this podpals episode. I want to point out a stupid slip that I make right at the very start. I wanted to say “Hi, I’m Luke and I need a haircut” but for some reason it came out “Hi, I’m Luke and I’m need a haircut”. I suppose it just shows that native speakers make language errors from time to time, although this was more of a slip than an error. A slip is when you make a mistake even though you know the rule. It just comes out wrong accidentally. An error is when you make a mistake because you don’t know something about the language.

Anyway, I will let you enjoy my language mistake and then settle into over 2 hours of Amber and Paul in the podcastle.

748. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent [Part 2]

Understand more of Karl Pilkington’s rambling as we learn about the Manchester accent and pick up vocabulary along the way. Video version available on YouTube.

Audio Version

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Episode Transcript

Introduction

Hello everyone. Welcome back to LEP. This is part 2 of a double Karl Pilkington themed episode. I would recommend that you listen to part 1 of this first – it contains important context about who Karl is plus more details about Karl’s pronunciation and accent. 

Listening to that first will help a great deal in understanding this one.

I got plenty of good responses to part 1 of this, so let’s carry on.

In this part we are going to continue as we did before – listening to Karl Pilkington talking about various subjects, understanding exactly what he says, looking at features of his Manchester accent and picking up vocabulary along the way.

Karl is basically just a normal bloke from Manchester and his accent is fairly typical for people from that area so this episode aims to help you understand his accent and pick up vocabulary too.

Some responses to part 1

I disagree with Karl on most things.

Is he arrogant?

I just enjoy the way he puts things. He speaks like a comedian in the way that he expresses a point of view and has a certain way with words, but he’s not a comedian.

This is the enigma of Karl Pilkington – is he really just being himself, or is he playing a comedy character, and in real life he’s a lot more erudite.

I actually think it’s the former not the latter and that he’s just being himself. He just happens to have a funny way of putting his opinions across. 

Sometimes the best comedy comes from someone sharing a specific opinion. I think this is what I enjoy about this, rather than the opinions he is expressing, and as I said I disagree with Karl about most things, and some things he says are quite laughable – especially stuff he’s said on the Ricky Gervais podcast, like his Monkey News stories.

One other thing – apparently it is possible to be choked by a live octopus as you eat it. What I meant was that it would be impossible for an octopus to strangle you from the inside, as strangling means choking from the outside of the throat, with your hands for example, but of course a live octopus could choke you from within, by sticking its arms up into your throat or your windpipe. So, fair enough, it is possible for an octopus to choke you.

Also, in the UK we do eat oysters – which are raw seafood, so I think raw fish are generally ok in the UK but most other raw things would be considered a bit strange for us.

Quick Pronunciation Recap

In part 1 we listened to Karl talk about life, health and food and in terms of his accent I talked about H-drops

  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.
  • Look, how many do you need?

glottal stops 

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.

The ‘bath/trap’ split 

  • podcast/podcast
  • laugh/laugh
  • path/path
  • bath/bath

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

Do you go to the gym much? 

Topics: Holidays & Karl’s Fridge

This time he’s going to talk about holidays and his fridge and we will look at more features of his accent.

There’s a video version of this on youtube with text on the screen, plus you will find all the text presented on the page for this episode on my website. 

Just one more thing before we start – I have premium episodes in the pipeline for these two episodes of LEP. The Premium episodes will be a chance to review and remember the vocabulary that comes up in these episodes, and then pronunciation drills too. So, I’ll do a sort of memory quiz with you to see how much vocab you remember and then the usual pronunciation drills – but in my accent, not Karl’s. 

Sign up to LEP Premium

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo 


#4 Karl on Holidays

(not Karl on Holiday)

Karl is on a camping holiday, sitting in a tent and moaning. 

  1. Why does Karl think holidays are stressful?
  2. What does Karl think of Lanzarote’s nickname?
  3. What did Karl do on his holiday there?
  4. What’s the problem with holidays in the UK?
  5. What did he think of the seal sanctuary he went to?
  6. What’s the best place Karl has been? Why?
  7. What does Karl think of holidays to the moon?

Vocabulary

You’ve got free time on your hands which you’re not used to.

We ended up walking around this seal sanctuary. 14 quid. £

They were just floating about, hardly moving.

I’m not having a go, but don’t charge me to come in, or at least let me see them again when they’re better.

The coliseum, they don’t do it up.

There’s no overheads.

That’s a mess. Get it knocked down.

At the end of the day the moon is just a big rock. You may/might as well go to Lanzarote.


PRONUNCIATION #3

Nasal

Alright so I went on holiday and it was great and all that.

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • When’s the last time you heard about a tortoise having a heart attack?

Works well with glottal stops.

Nasal sound in /aʊ/ and /ai/ sounds

/aʊ/ in words like about and now sounds more nasal.

What’s he going on about now?

If there were dinosaurs about now and that.

If we’ve run out we need to go outside and get some more.

Nasal sound in /ai/ sound

The /ai/ sound in words like alive, inside, survive, fighting, riot and dying sounds more nasal.

You’re not supposed to eat them alive.

We’ve got to stay inside if we want to survive.

If they were running about fighting and dying and that.

Running riot (sounds like “roonin raiyut”)


#5 Karl on his fridge

Karl’s fridge is broken and he called out a guy to fix it. 

Naturally he’s moaning about workmen who come to your house to do different jobs.

  1. Why does the guy charge £80?
  2. What is Karl’s main problem with engineers, plumbers, workers who have to come to his house?
  3. What advice does the fridge guy give to Karl?
  4. What’s the problem with Karl’s new fridge?

Vocabulary

The fella turned up, right.

Yeah, it’s broke. (broken)

That’s why I called you out.

That’s 80 quid

I said, “you what?” 

An 80 quid callout charge.

I tell you. They wind me up.

I had a fella come round to do the tiling

Turned up late with a carrier bag.

A pot noodle

A copy of the Daily Mirror

A crossword book

He was asking what the pub was like across the road. “What is …. like?”

Having a laugh

When did you last vac it out

Vacuum cleaner

You’re meant to vac them out, because dust and that gets in.

Can’t afford any food to put in it.

It needs wiring in. It’s got one of those fancy plug things.


PRONUNCIATION #4

A lot of other vowel sounds are nasal too.

Turn the corner /ɔː/

They becomes thee

It depends what they do with it.

Why have they only just found that? 

How did they miss that?

Also, he adds little fillers like:

(Do you) know what I mean?

Right? (just sounds like a nazal grunt, almost)

… and that

Like that

And whatnot

And stuff like that

Do you know what I mean?

I tell ya…

Watch out for those things if you like.


Ending

Ladies and gentlemen, this brings us to the end of this episode, as we now prepare to exit the world of Karl Pilkington and re-emerge blinking into the light of the normal world.

Welcome back to yourself, your own attitudes and your own personality again.

I urge you to (just wanted to use that phrase) check the page for this episode on my website where you will find a downloadable full transcript, the audio file for download in mp3 format, a text video version of this episode where you can read the entire thing as you listen and it’s all presented in a rather majestic looking font before your very eyes and of course there’s the comment section where you can share your thoughts not to mention the episode archive with all the previous episodes plus lots of bonus extra stuff. 

Teacherluke.co.uk

LEP Premium 
LEP App
LEP Merch

Have a good one and I will speak to you again soon, bye!

746. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent

Understand English as it is spoken by native speakers. Let’s listen to Karl Pilkington rambling about life, the universe & everything, and see what we can understand and learn. Karl is from Manchester, so we’ll be looking at some features of his accent, picking up plenty of vocabulary and having a bit of a laugh along the way.

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Full Episode Transcript

Hello LEPsters,

Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing today? 

In this episode we’re going to do some intensive listening and use it as a chance to learn some vocabulary and pronunciation.

This episode should be a bit of a laugh as we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of Karl Pilkington and listen to his thoughts on some big issues like health, food, animals, holidays and just existence itself.

We’ll be looking at the different features of his Manchester accent, and there will be lots of vocabulary to pick up too as we are covering a range of different topics. You can also consider this as a little intensive listening test, as I will be setting questions that you have to find answers to, then going through each clip in detail and breaking it all down for language.

We last heard about Karl Pilkington on my podcast in episode 656 in which we listened to a couple of his Monkey News stories about a chimp that works on a building site and another chimp that pilots a space rocket. 

Do you remember that? If you don’t, then get the LEP app and listen to episode 656. It was a very popular episode and it should make you laugh out loud on a bus maybe. 

That was pretty funny stuff, and Karl is very funny even though he’s not actually a comedian.

Who is Karl Pilkington?

To be honest, Karl Pilkington was most well-known about 10 years ago
and these days he’s not in the public eye as much as he used to be,
but he’s still a fairly well-known person in the UK, especially for Ricky Gervais fans.

Karl is just an ordinary bloke from Manchester who met comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant when he worked for them as a radio producer in London. 

Later, Ricky invited Karl to be on his podcast in order to broadcast his weird ideas and inane ramblings to the whole world, and the rest is history. 

The Ricky Gervais Podcast became a world record-breaker with over 300,000,000 downloads.

In episodes, Ricky, Steve & Karl would talk about big topics like religion, evolution, philosophy, nature, birth and death and Karl would often say some bizarre and hilarious things, apparently without intending to be funny.

Ricky was always slightly obsessed with Karl, and he always described him as “an idiot with a perfectly round head like an orange”. 

After being on Ricky’s podcast, Karl went on to become a fairly well-known figure in the UK, doing more podcasts with Ricky, then TV shows, books and documentaries like “An Idiot Abroad”.

Karl is known for his funny and slightly odd musings and observations about life. 

He comes from a working class background in the Manchester area, and his accent has many of the features that you would expect from that. 

Accent / Pronunciation

We will be going into the specific features of his accent in more detail as we go and this kind of follows on from episode 682 which was all about common features of pronunciation in England which are different to RP.

Which accent should you have?

So this episode is about one of the UK’s regional accents.

You might be thinking – Luke, by doing this episode are you saying that we should all learn to speak like Karl?

I’m not saying that. You can choose your accent, and many learners choose a neutral accent to learn, but it’s not all about learning an accent, it’s also about learning to understand different accents, and learning about the varieties of English that are out there.

So, you might not want to speak like Karl, but I certainly want you to understand Karl and the many millions of other people who speak English in a non-standard way.

So this episode is all about understanding an accent, rather than copying it. But of course you can copy Karl’s Mancunian accent if you like.

Vocabulary

There will also be plenty of vocabulary coming up too as we pick apart the things that Karl says and the way he says them.

You’ll find it listed on the screen on the video version and also presented in text form on the page for this episode on my website.

Video

We’re going to be using a series available on youtube in which Karl ponders certain big questions in just 3 minutes of video, originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK as part of their “3 Minute Wonders” series. 

These are short videos in which Karl talks about his fridge, health, food, animals and holidays, covering each topic with his usual ramblings, all delivered in that Manchester accent, know what I mean?

I have about 6 recordings, which are about 3 minutes each (this could become two episodes).

Before I play the recording I’ll give you a little bit of context and I’ll set some questions. 

Then you listen and try to get the answers. 

Then I’ll break it down – listening to each bit again, with some explanations if necessary.

We’ll also pay attention to pronunciation – specifically his Mancunian accent. I’m going to break that down too, exploring the main features of that particular accent.

And I’ll sum up some of the vocab from each clip before moving on to the next one.


#1 Karl on Life

Karl goes around a museum looking at meteorites, dinosaur skeletons and endangered animals (stuffed ones or models) and muses about life in general medical science.

  1. What does Karl wonder about the big bang?
  2. What makes the meteorite room a bit disappointing?
  3. What’s Karl’s main criticism of humanity today?
  4. What does Karl think would happen if a dinosaur got loose and started to “run riot”?
  5. What’s Karl’s main point?

Vocabulary

  • The big bang
  • Did it only seem big because there was no other noise to drown it out at the time?
  • Meteorites (on earth)
  • Meteors (flying in earth’s atmosphere)
  • Asteroids (flying in space)
  • The edge is taken off it because that isn’t the only one.
  • I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
  • Enough’s enough. If your body is that done in, call it a day.
  • The more we know, the more we interfere.
  • Don’t interfere with nature and that.
  • Even if it was going round running riot they’d go “We don’t want it to go extinct
  • The panda is dying out.

Notes on Karl’s accent

Here’s a summary of the main points regarding Karl’s Manchester accent. 

Many of these features are common in people from the Manchester area, although not all people from Manchester will speak like this, and there are different degrees of it. 

This is certainly Karl’s Manchester accent in any case. 

A lot of what I’m about to say will include things brought up in the episode I did about Key Features of English accents, episode 682.

PRONUNCIATION #1

H dropping

  • Look, how many do you need?
  • I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
  • She’d had a new lung, a new heart
  • He puts his hand in and goes “Yep, it’s broke”
  • They weren’t doing anything. They weren’t jumping through hoops. (talking about animals in a zoo)
  • I don’t know if it’s cruel or not, to have them in there.
  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.

Glottal stops (/t/ sounds get replaced by /ʔ/ )

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • Let me see them again when they’re better.

Go back to my episode called 682. Features of English Accents, Explained to find out more about glottal stops.


#2 Karl on Health

Karl recounts a conversation he had with a woman about going to the gym.

  1. Does Karl go to the gym?
  2. What does he think of the idea of breathing classes?
  3. What does he think of drinking 7 pints of water a day?
  4. What’s Karl’s argument for not going to the gym? Heart beats, tortoise

Vocabulary

  • I know what’s probably putting you off – the fact that it’s hard work.
  • Breathing classes – I’m 32 I think I’ve got the hang of it
  • My Dad’s like 60-odd. I’ve never seen him drink a pint of water, yet they’re telling us we should have, like, 7 pints a day or something, and then they wonder why there’s a water drought on.
  • They keep coming up with daft ways of keeping fit.
  • Chucking paint at each other. 

PRONUNCIATION #2

/æ/ not /ɑː/ (the “bath/trap split”, again)

Short A sound /æ/ in bath, podcast 

(gas and glass have the same vowel sound in Karl’s Manchester accent).

This is normal across all northern accents, and many accents in the midlands. I would use /ɑː/ because although I lived in the midlands for many years (half my childhood), my accent is mostly from the south because I’ve lived there more and my parents don’t have strong regional accents.

Come to my class. We do breathing classes.

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

The U sound in but, enough and much.

I pronounce it /ʌ/ but Karl pronounces it more like /ʊ/

Do you go to the gym much? 


#3 Karl on Food

Karl talks about a new trend – eating things which shouldn’t be eaten. 

Coming from England, Karl thinks it’s weird to eat certain things that might be eaten in other cultures, like live octopus, insects, frogs, snails, probably raw meat, raw fish and sushi.

  1. What is the danger of eating a live octopus?
  2. What’s Karl’s issue with kids and food today?
  3. What does Karl think about eating dog?

Vocabulary

  • They choke you. Why would you want to eat that?
  • If we’re eating octopuses, why are dogs getting away with it?

END OF PART 1 – TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2

741. Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Learn English from some jokes in this episode as we go through 9 jokes chosen as the best of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe stand up comedy scene this year (2021). Let me tell you the jokes, see if you understand them, and then I will break them down for language learning opportunities. Video version available.

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Episode Transcript / Notes

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Hello listeners, hello video viewers. How are you? How is the world treating you today? Not too badly I hope. 

Here’s a new episode. So stick with me. Listen closely. Pay attention. You can definitely learn some new English from this. Let’s get started.

Introduction

It’s time to dissect the frog again as we look at some of the most popular jokes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of this year 2021. I’m going to read them to you and then explain them so you can understand them fully and also learn some new vocabulary in the process. 

This is something I’ve been doing every year at the end of the Ediburgh Festival when the list of the most popular jokes is published in the newspapers. 

Last year I didn’t do one of these episodes because Ed Fringe got cancelled due to Covid-19. 

But the festival was back this year, so here we go again. Let’s find some popular jokes told by comedians at the fringe and use them to learn English.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Just in case you don’t know, the Edinburgh Fringe (full name: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe) is a huge comedy festival that happens every August in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

Sometimes it’s called The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe, The Edinburgh Comedy Festival, Ed Fringe, just The Fringe or simply Edinburgh.

It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, and every August comedians travel to the city in order to perform comedy to the large crowds of people who travel there. 

For comedians August in Edinburgh is a huge opportunity to get exposure and experience, but it is very tough, especially at the beginning when you have to drum up an audience of people to come to your shows every day.

Just in case you didn’t know, stand-up is a form of entertainment that involves one comedian standing on stage with a microphone telling stories and jokes in an effort to make the audience laugh. It is an extremely popular form of entertainment in the English speaking world.

This episode is about specific jokes told by comedians during the fringe this year, but stand-up comedians don’t really just go up and tell individual jokes one after the other (except in the case of some specific comedians), rather they fit their jokes into stories, observations about the world or confessions about themselves.

However, this list of the “best jokes from the fringe” just picks simple one or two line jokes from people’s performances.

Lower Your Expectations Now 😅

I expect that taking these jokes away from their original performances will not help the jokes. 

They will probably be less funny outside the comedy show that they came from because we’re going to remove the context of the joke, the attitude and personality of the comedian who told the joke and what was happening in the room that particular evening. All those elements have a huge impact on how funny the joke will be.

So, it’s not very fair to judge these jokes on their own like this, outside of their original context, but this is still an interesting experiment in learning English, so here we go.

Here’s how we’re going to do this

  1. First I will read each joke one by one. 
  • There are 9 jokes in total. 
  • How many jokes do you “get”?
  • If you “get” a joke, it means you understand why it is funny.
  • Ideally you will laugh, but you can also groan.
  • If you don’t understand it you need to say “I don’t get it!
  • The main thing is: You have to notice and acknowledge that a joke has been told to you.

So, listen to the jokes, do you get them all?

  1. Then I will go through each joke one by one and I will break them all down, explaining exactly how they work, showing you double meanings, explaining any specific vocabulary or cultural reference points and giving you all the information you need to be able to understand these jokes properly.

There is a lot of vocabulary to be learned from this, which I will highlight as we go through and recap at the end.

So, get ready, it’s time to dissect the frog again.

Of course, I have to say the quote: 

Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You can learn something from it, but the frog dies in the process.

I expect I will be killing all these jokes by explaining them. 

You’re not meant to explain jokes, and if you do, the joke suddenly becomes less funny. 

Most jokes work by surprise. 

Getting the double meaning instantly is usually the only way to find a joke funny. 

So I can’t guarantee that you will laugh at these jokes, but this is certainly going to be good for your English in any case.

Joke types

A lot of these jokes use 

  • synonyms (different words with a similar meaning),
  • common fixed expressions and sayings
  • homophones (different words that sound the same)
  • similies (finding similarities between otherwise different things), 
  • pull back & reveal (revealing extra information to change the situation)

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021

I’m getting this list from the website Chortle.co.uk which is the UK’s number 1 comedy website.

www.chortle.co.uk/news/2021/08/22/49087/masai_graham_wins_the_dave%2A_joke_of_the_fringe

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.”

– Masai Graham 

2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” 
– Ivor Dembina

3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” 

-Tom Mayhew

4. “The roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.”

– Adele Cliff

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.”

– Leo Kearse

6 “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.”

– Will Mars

7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” 

– Sameer Katz

8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” 

– Rich Pulsford

9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” 

– Sameer Katz

Vocabulary Focus

Now let’s go through those jokes again and break them down so you can understand them fully, picking up bits of vocabulary along the way.

Broken down versions (sorry frogs)

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.” 

– Masai Graham

Vocabulary

A caesarean

A C-section


2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” – Ivor Dembina

Vocabulary

Common phrase: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Quid

Halved (verb)


3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” – Tom Mayhew

Vocabulary

To be into role play

Role play – pretending to be someone else, often during sex to make it more interesting.

To pretend to be someone / to do something

He pretended he was James Bond

She pretended she still loved him.


4. “The Roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.” – Adele Cliff

This is a pun – a word joke and it’s just that one thing sounds like something else.

“Julius Caesar” sounds like Julius sees her, which is why his wife hates playing hide and seek because Julius always sees her. Julius Caesar. I think you get it.

Vocabulary

To play hide and seek

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.” – Leo Kearse

Oooh, this is a bit of a groaner. That’s where you go Oooooh like it almost hurts. 

“Heard it through the grapevine” is one of Marvin Gaye’s most famous songs.

“Herd” can mean to move a group of animals in a certain direction, like sheep or cows. You herd your sheep into a field.

Marvin used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. A vineyard is a place where you grow grapes for wine. 

The grapevine is where the grapes grow, but there’s also an idiom “through the grapevine” meaning when you hear people gossiping about something, or you over hear people talking about something. 

In the case of the song, he hears that his girlfriend is cheating on him and he hears it through the grapevine. 

He heard it through the grapevine. He heard rumours or gossip about it.

He’d herd it through the grapevine. He attempted to move the sheep around through the grapevines of the plants in the vineyard.

Vocabulary

To herd sheep

To hear something on/through the grapevine

Vinyard

This is too much of a stretch and if you get the joke please let me know. Write a comment in the comment section – do you get the Marvin Gaye joke?


6. “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.” – Will Mars

This is quite a clever little joke. Everything took longer in the past – travelling, communicating etc. 

Marriages seemed to last longer, but everything took longer back then.


7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” – Sameer Katz

This is quite funny and of course it hits two of my favourite notes, well three in fact: Star Wars, France and speaking English. 

There is a common misconception that French people arrogantly refuse to speak English in Paris let’s say, 

but I find that French people are more willing to speak English than it seems, and in fact they’re a bit more shy than arrogant, and if a French person in Paris speaks French to you, that’s quite normal as you are in France. 

Also, rather than being arrogant, a lot of French people just feel quite self conscious about their accent and certain common mistakes that French people often make. They also might have bad memories from English lessons at school which knocked all the confidence out of them, and they’re afraid to be judged by each other. So it’s more likely to be shyness than arrogance.


8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” – Rich Pulsford

This is a clever little joke. 

To have an inkling means to have a suspicion or an idea of something.

“I don’t know who stole the last biscuit, but I have an inkling. Or I have an inkling of an idea who took that biscuit, and I think it was you!”

But an inkling does sound like a small spillage of ink from a pen. A small puddle of ink, or ink on your hand. An inkling. 

What do we call that? I don’t know, but I have an inkling!”

Vocabulary

To have an inkling

A spillage


9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” – Sameer Katz

I’m not sure I have to explain that, do I?

Being humane means treating people in reasonable and humanistic manner. 

Treating people with respect, dignity, justice. 

Inhumane is the opposite – and although it includes the word human, we do use this word to refer to the cruel treatment of animals.

Keeping animals in a cage is inhumane. 

Even though they’re animals, we still use the word inhumane, and this is just a funny little thing that can make you laugh when you notice it.

Vocabulary

Humane

Inhumane


Vocabulary Review

  • A caesarean
  • A C-section
  • “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
  • Quid
  • Halve (verb)
  • To be into role play
  • To pretend to be someone / to do something
  • To play hide and seek
  • To herd sheep
  • To hear something on/through the grapevine
  • Vinyard
  • To have an inkling
  • A spillage
  • Humane
  • Inhumane 

730. Marie Connolly Returns (+ 2 songs)

Talking to author Marie Connolly about her new books for children, plus a story about how Jerry Seinfeld came to one of our comedy shows, with two songs on guitar at the end.

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Introduction & Ending Transcripts

Hello listeners,

Hello, hello, hello.

How are you doing? How is everything in your particular part of LEPland today as you listen to this? What’s going on? Where are you? How are you? Who are you? How’s your English? OK I hope. 

This podcast is here to help by giving you a source (not sauce) of authentic English to listen to on a regular basis. There are various ways you can use the podcast to improve your English but let’s just keep it simple and say – all you need to do is listen, try to follow what is being said and hopefully enjoy the process, even if it’s a bit difficult to understand every single thing. Sometimes you will find notes and transcripts on the page for each episode on my website. Checking them can also be a good idea.

I have another guest today. Marie Connolly is back on the podcast in this episode. She came over to the flat a few weeks ago to record this conversation.

I know Marie from doing stand up comedy both in London and Paris. Like a lot of my friends she does stand-up, and she has also worked as an English teacher but these days the main thing she does is write – she is mainly a writer now – an author – writing books both for adults and for children.

You might remember Marie from episode 683 in October last year, when she told us some funny stories about moments when French men have flirted with her, and the book that she wrote which contains all those stories. Episode number 683 – that’s the last time Marie was on the show.

But she is back again to tell us about a new series of books she has written, this time for children. So, if you know any kids aged 8 or above, and you want to encourage them to read something fun in English, these books could be a good choice. They are written for people with English as a first language, so they’re not for beginners, but they are fun and if your kids can read English, they might like these stories.

She’s going to tell us about those stories and the process of writing and self-publishing them  but this conversation also contains lots of other stuff too – including different types of extreme sports, the classic old topic of doing comedy to audiences from different countries, an anecdote about the time Jerry Seinfeld came to one of our comedy shows, some comments from listeners in response to Marie’s last apperance, and more stuff for your listening pleasure.

Right then. So let’s now enjoy the company of Marie Connolly once again. I will speak to you a bit more on the other side of this conversation, and here we go…

—–

Click here for links for Marie’s books: Dude’s Gotta Snowboard & More

—–

Ending Notes

Thanks again to Marie Connolly there. You can find her books on Amazon – her writing alias is Muddy Frank, and you could search for Dude’s Gotta Snowboard. 

There are also links on the page for this episode on my website.

So thanks again to Marie.

So how’s everything going with you?

I will say that things are pretty busy here, with a lot of work going on and also some fairly complicated general life stuff – basically, we are in the process of moving to a new flat, and if you’ve moved flat or moved house, you’ll know how complex and disruptive that can be. 

Of course, all our possessions will have to be packed in boxes, moved to a completely new place and then unpacked, and that’s after all the decoration and work we’re having done on the new place and all that stuff. I will be leaving my pod room, taking everything down. All the books are coming off the shelves, all my equipment will be boxed up, all the guitars are coming down, everything is moving. 

What is cool is that I am going to have my own dedicated office/recording space/pod-room. 

It’s going to be incredibly small – more of a cupboard than an office, but it will be my HQ for LEP, and it’s not going to be part of our new flat. It’s in a completely different location, but it’s 5 minutes on foot from our new place. Anyway, we have a LOT of stuff to get done and our lives will be kind of turned upside down over the next couple of months, plus we want to do a trip to the UK for a holiday and various other things, so I don’t know how this is going to affect the podcast. I suppose there’s a chance I won’t be able to record, which would be a pity, although I’m sure you’d understand. I would have to publish some premium content though.

Luckily I have a few episodes recorded and edited and ready to be published, and they will continue to arrive over the next few weeks, but meanwhile, things in LEP HQ are a little bit chaotic at the moment. I won’t go into it in further detail at this moment, but as I said I will try to publish a rambling episode with news and comments about what’s going on and maybe I’ll respond to some listener comments and stuff like that soon, ok. In any case, podcasts will be arriving as normal at least for the next 4 or 5 weeks, so everything should be ship shape in podcastland, even if things are a bit crazy behind the scenes. We will see if I can continue to create and publish content during the madness of the next few months.

I said I wouldn’t ramble here. I’ll save it all for a full on rambling episode next time.

In any case, I hope you are well out there in podcastland.

At the end of the episode I thought I would sing a couple of songs which I’ve been playing recently. 

They’re both by Beck.

Song Lyrics

Lost Cause by Beck genius.com/Beck-lost-cause-lyrics

Dead Melodies by Beck genius.com/Beck-dead-melodies-lyrics

719. Amber & Paul are on the Podcast

Talking to pod-pals Amber & Paul about diverse topics including organ harvesting (yes), favourite fruits (exciting), accent challenges, guess the punchline, British Citizenship tests, What the “great” in Great Britain really means, and Amber’s son Hugo’s astonishing fluency in English.

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Episode Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners and welcome back to my podcast for learners of English. How are you doing today? Doing ok? 

I won’t talk at great length at the start here, suffice to say that as the title of this episode suggests, Amber & Paul are on the podcast again, after a one year absence. 

Yes, the tangential trio are at it again.

I’ve been wondering What on earth I should call this episode. As you will hear, the options I had for a snappy title for this one were a bit tricky because our conversation covers some pretty diverse topics, including some quite dark themes, some potentially controversial moments and the usual fun rambling nonsense. It’s hard to sum it up in one pithy clickbait title. I think I’m just calling it “Amber & Paul are on the Podcast” but that does seem like a bit of a cop out. Anyway, we will see what I ultimately choose as a name for this episode. 

Here’s a quick hint of the diverse topics which we explore. 

Organ harvesting – yes, that’s right, organ harvesting. To get this, you will need to have listened to the previous episode of this podcast (#718), which was a conversation with Michael the hitchhiking shaman from Poland. In that episode Michael explained how, when hitchhiking once, he almost got kidnapped by several people who he suspected were organ harvesters – people involved in the illegal trade of human internal organs. Amber heard that podcast and was sceptical.

This prompted nearly 30 minutes of conversation about the ins and outs of organ harvesting, including how, where, why and who would do this. 

Then we go on to do various random questions & challenges from my list of random questions and challenges, so you will get some accent fun, a thrilling discussion of Amber’s favourite fruit and vegetables, a story about Amber’s son Hugo and his surprising articulacy in English, a joke about Spanish firemen, some British citizenship questions about Easter holidays, British overseas territories and why Great Britain is actually called Great Britain, and plenty more besides. So, other than organ harvesting, there isn’t just one theme for this episode, hence the rather generic title.

It’s a thrill ride of an episode which has everything you could expect from a a conversation with Amber & Paul. I hope you enjoy it. Nothing more needs to be said except that you are about to hear a rapid conversation between friends and it might be difficult to follow, so strap in, hold on tight and let the tangential chat commence…


Episode Ending Transcript

Well, there you have it. Amber & Paul reunited on the podcast once more. We’d been waiting for ages for that to happen, and I hope you were not disappointed.

Just in case you were wondering what “tangential” means (and you’re not a long-term listener)

A tangent or a conversational tangent is when someone starts talking about something that is unrelated from the main topic of the conversation. To go off on a tangent.

Tangential is the adjective and it refers to something different from the subject you were talking about. This is typical of all my podcast conversations, but especially those ones with Amber & Paul, and so we are the tangential trio.

As ever I am curious to know what you think about all of this. 

Sometimes our conversations become quite rude and inappropriate, but I’m just presenting you a natural conversation between friends, and this sort of thing is normal when socialising in English. 

Here are some questions for your consideration:

  • What do you think of Michael’s organ harvesting story? Do you believe it? Is it possible?
  • What is your favourite fruit or vegetable?
  • Why is Great Britain called Great Britain?
  • Did you hear about the Spanish fireman and his two sons?

Let us know your thoughts and comments in the comment section.

I’ve got a ton of episodes in the pipeline which will be coming out over the next few weeks and months.

Here’s a little taster of things to come:

Bahar from Iran

A couple of episodes about expanding your vocabulary using word quizzes and dictionaries with a returning guest

More episodes in the vague Beatles season including some stuff about the psychology of John Lennon, adjectives for describing personality traits and some analysis of Beatle song lyrics, with a sort of expert guest.

Various stories which I have been searching for and then reading out on the podcast, with YouTube versions (this is because the recent Roald Dahl story I read out was a popular one)

More special guests for interviews and collaborations, more bits of comedy analysed and broken down, and plenty of other things too…

I am still waiting for my shiny thing from YouTube but when it arrives I will be doing another YouTube live stream. Who knows, I might do one before it arrives, but I will let you know. 

Premium subscribers, I have the rest of the “What did Rick say” series coming up, and then a similar series called “What did Gill say?” focusing on language from my recent conversation with my mum about The Beatles, following a suggestion from a listener.

So, new premium content is either being published, written or recorded all the time, so watch out for new episodes. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo if you’d like to find out more.

I will be back soon with more episodes, but for now it’s time to say goodbye…