Amber and Paul join me in my pod room again for a rambling discussion about everything! Includes a language point about adjective + preposition collocations. Notice the phrases and try to find examples of them in context. Video version available.
Check out the premium series which accompanies this episode (P39 parts 1-3) 👇
Sign up to LEP Premium to get the 3-part series of episodes (audio, video, PDFs) about the language point in this episode.
P39 Part 1 – All about the grammar of prepositions and how they fit into sentences, including plenty of vocabulary and a quick pronunciation exercise at the end
P39 Part 2 – Let’s go through my list of adjective + preposition phrases from the conversation with Amber & Paul. I’ll test your memory and help you notice the target language, while clarifying some of the adjectives. Also includes discussion questions for free practise.
P39 Part 3 – Pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation. The 5 Ps. There’s a focus on weak forms of prepositions, -ed endings of adjectives and 40 sentences to repeat after me.
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.
Can Luke, Amber & Paul pass this funny Russian citizenship test which was written and sent in by a Russian LEPster? Join us as we attempt to answer questions which (apparently) every Russian person would know. This could be embarrassing! P.S. I am 99% sure that this really is the final episode of 2021.
What animals we have in Russia instead of Tom and Jerry?
A) Wolf and hare
B) Bear and bee
C) Dog and cat
D) Elephant and mouse
(See the answer below)
The answer is…
A) Wolf and Hare
From the “Nu, Pogodi” (eng. “Well, Just You Wait!” ) animated series, (1969 – 1986).
In the 2014 all-Russian poll “Well, Just You Wait!” won as people’s favorite cartoon/animated series of all time.
The series follows the comical adventures of Wolf, trying to catch – and presumably eat – Hare. The series’ most common line is the eponymous “Nu, pogodi!” yelled by the wolf when his plans fail.
Fun fact: Since the 1990s, when the fall of the Iron Curtain allowed better exchange of films, both Russian and Western audiences have noted similarities between Nu, pogodi! and American cartoons, the most noticeable being Tom and Jerry. The director has admitted that he was learning from Disney animated films which were brought into the USSR from Germany immediately after World War II, particularly Bambi. However, he did not see any Tom and Jerry episodes until his on bought a VCR in 1987.
What animal does every Russian see on the streets every day?
The answer is…
The GAZelle is a series of light commercial vehicles: pickup trucks, vans and minibuses made by Russian car manufacturer GAZ. Until now, it is actively used in all Russian cities as a “marshrutka” – shuttle or public bus.
Side mission: Can you say “marshrutka”?
September 3rd in Russia is a good day to …
A) Drink vodka from balalaika
B) Crush wooden sleds with axes
C) Turn calendar upside down
D) Hang winter boots out of window
The answer is…
C) Turn calendar upside down
“The third of September” is a well-known Russian lyric song, first performed by Mikhail Shufutinsky in 1993. The chorus of this song contains the lines:
I’ll turn the calendar upside down
And there will be the third of September again
Of course, the singer meant, “I’ll turn a calendar page in a loose-leaf calendar” but many Russians making fun of it. It gave rise to many funny pictures of upside-down calendars. These lines have become a popular meme in Russia, and the third of September in itself has become a kind of holiday, when people joke about the calendar and listen to this song whole day. The singer, by the way, has a positive attitude to this meme and to the popularization of his song among young people.
What do Russians expecting the lobster to do on the top of a mountain?
B) go to war
The answer is…
“When a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain” – it is a Russian idiom. In fact, it is an adynaton — a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility. The implication of such a phrase is that the circumstances in question will never occur.
“The pigs will fly when a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain”. Oh, I’d like to see it.
What French name is most often mentioned on the New Year’s Eve in Russia?
The answer is…
Olivier salad (Russian: салат Оливье, salat Olivye) is a traditional salad dish in Russian cuisine, which is also popular in other post-Soviet countries. It is usually made with diced boiled potatoes, carrots, brined dill pickles, green peas, eggs, onions, diced boiled chicken or bologna sausage, with salt, pepper, and mustard added to enhance flavor, dressed with mayonnaise. In many countries, the dish is commonly referred to as Russian salad.
In Russia and other post-Soviet states, as well as in Russophone communities worldwide, the salad has become one of the main dishes served during New Year’s Eve (“Novy God”) celebrations.
Additional information: The original version of the salad was invented in the 1860s by a cook of Belgian origin, Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage, one of Moscow’s most celebrated restaurants. Olivier’s salad quickly became immensely popular with Hermitage regulars, and became the restaurant’s signature dish.
The exact recipe—particularly that of the dressing—was a zealously guarded secret, but it is known that the salad contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck, although it is possible that the recipe was varied seasonally. The original Olivier dressing was a type of mayonnaise, made with French wine vinegar, mustard, and Provençal olive oil; its exact recipe, however, remains unknown.
What tree do Russians always want to hug when sad?
The answer is…
Birch is considered as a tree of “Russian nationality”.
«While traveling for a long time abroad, a Russian often misses his “native birches”. To hold a birch tree tight and cry… that’s the only thing a Russian wants to do in a melancholic mood.
According to multiple folk proverbs and beliefs, ancient pagan Slavs considered hugging a birch tree as a sign of good luck. Birches were compared to humans – its thin trunk was frequently associated with a thin body of a young lady.
Modern Russians would never confess they hug birch trees on a daily basis. However, some of us have done it or at least thought of it. And for sure, when we see those leaves and branches trembling by the wind, our harsh northern hearts melt. And the one certain sign that Russians love birches is the fact that they make fun of it, even creating “go hug a birch” memes and jokes.»
Extract from the article https://www.rbth.com/lifestyle/331832-russians-birch-tree
What is the right way to drink vodka in Russia?
A) Only for the reason and with lots of food
B) Looking into each other’s eyes shouting “Na zdorovye!”
C) In small sips from a large glass
D) No matter how – it has to be drunk!
The answer is…
A) Only for the reason and with lots of food
Most Russians never drink without a reason. A birthday, wedding, funeral, national holiday – these are all appropriate reasons to drink Vodka. However, it doesn’t need to be so pretentious; you can always make up a good reason for drinking, but the important thing is that you should always have one.
Before you begin drinking, make sure you have something to eat. In Russia we call it “zakuska” – literally means “snack”, but it isn’t that simple. Its history goes back to the traditional Russian ritual of greeting important guests with “bread and salt” – and, in most cases, an alcoholic drink. Other Traditional Russian «zakuska» is cold cuts, cured fishes, mixed salads, kholodets (meat jelly), pirozhki, various pickled vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sauerkraut, pickled mushrooms, open sandwiches, and breads. The fact is – you should never drink vodka without eating immediately something afterwards.
And here is a fact: Russians never looking into each other eyes while drinking – it would be considered very strange and weird. And they will never shout “Na zdorovye!” NEVER.
Now, let’s count your stars, comrade.
If you got…
Congratulations! From now on, you are officially Russian. You can go to the embassy and get your balalaika. The pet bear will be send to your place later this evening.
Nice try, comrade! A couple more shots of vodka and the citizenship will be in your fufaika’s pocket!
Well, you will get your citizenship one day, but first you have to ask the lobster to get to the mountain and do some action. Is he still waiting for Gazelle?
If only you dare touch a birch, it will turn you upside down, like a calendar!
(Just kidding. It doesn’t matter how many stars you got – everyone is welcome to Russia. Zakuski are waiting for you!)
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.
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…
Hello ladies and gents, welcome back to the podcast. Are you ready for your regular dose of English listening practice? Here we go.
This is episode number 663 and it is another Lying Game with Amber & Paul, this time recorded remotely during the lockdown, fairly late in the evening, recently.
The Lying Game is something Amber, Paul and I have been playing for years on this podcast. Basically it involves us telling each other stories about our lives, but we can choose to either tell the truth or tell a lie. The others then have to ask questions about those stories and then try to guess if they are made up or not. Points can be won or lost accordingly.
Before we start I just want to point out some bits of language for you to notice while you listen.
Grammar: Watch out for the narrative Tenses
Essentially this game is about storytelling and most of the time the stories take place in the past, so there are lots of descriptions of past events and questions in past tenses. If you wanted to, you could look out for things like the grammatical tenses being used.
Past simple tense is definitely the most common one (“I jumped into the water” “I didn’t jump into the water” or “Did you jump into the water?” or “Why did you jump into the water?” ) , but also watch out for instances of the other narrative tenses that we know and love – past continuous and past perfect and how they’re used in combination with past simple to build a narrative.
Past perfect (had + past participle –> I was going to Ireland becauseAlice had invited me to stay) is used to show that certain things happened before the main events of the story. It doesn’t just mean “things that happened a long time ago” (a common mistake) but rather it’s used to show background events – things that happened before the main events of the story. It’s not as common as past simple or past continuous but it is definitely used, although it can be quite hard to hear the ‘had’ part.
Also, we use past continuous (was/were +ing –> I was living in Brighton at the time) to show the situation or context at the time the main events happened, or to show things that happened over and over again.
For example, watch out for these sentences in the episode. (these ones mainly contain past perfect) Watch out also for the pronunciation. Can you hear the “had” in these sentences?
“[We went to Greece.] It was the first time that we’d ever been on holiday together.” [First time in their lives at that point. No previous trip to Greece before then.]
“We’d never been together outside the UK or Paris.”
“[At the time] I was living in Brighton, it was the summer holidays and Alice had invited me to stay with her in Ireland which is where she is from.” [Alice invited Amber earlier than the main events of this story]
“Alice had already gone home for the holidays and I was joining her.” [Alice went home before the main events of this story]
“They were making us drink cocktails that I’d never heard of before” [Never before in our lives at that point]
So if you are up for it you can listen out for bits of grammar like that but you can also just listen to the stories without worrying about grammar and play the game with us. Do you think these stories are true or are they untrue? Are they fact or fiction? All real events, or completely made up? Try and work it out as you listen. You get one point for every story you guess correctly. That’s a maximum of 3 points for you. For us playing the game, the points system is equally simple for some reason we always manage to get a bit confused by it.
The stories this time all involve drunken nights out. There’s also some swearing in this, which you might want to bear in mind if you’re using this in class or something.
I want to just highlight some vocab in advance, just to help you a bit. These are things you might not know but which are pretty important for understanding the stories.
a stag do / a stag party = a party a man has before he gets married, usually involving going out with best friends – one of whom will be the best man at the wedding, lots of drinking, a trip to another city or country, some humiliation of the groom-to-be, maybe a trip to a strip club. “I was on my cousin’s stag do” – you heard me mention my cousin’s stag do in a recent episode, when the two of us were dressed as a pantomime horse. It’s called a bachelor party in the USA.
a hen do / a hen party = (not mentioned in the story, but if you learn stag do you’ve got to learn hen do as well, they go together as a pair) basically a hen do is the same as a stag do but for girls – it usually involves going out with a big group of girls, including the bridesmaids, but they’ve got fancy dress on or they’re all wearing angel wings or something, or special T shirts with the bride’s face on, lots of drinking and fairly lewd behaviour, and maybe a male stripper. Stag dos and hen dos, that’s the kind of rich, deep cultural heritage which makes me proud to be an Englishman. “It’s Emma’s hen do at the weekend.” Bachelorette party in US English.
What the Fuck France! This a comedy TV show that Paul Taylor made on French TV, which made him quite famous among the French (French people).
Boxers / boxer shorts = a kind of men’s underwear, similar to those worn by boxers.
To get whacked – to get assassinated by the mafia (this is Italian American slang that you might hear in a Martin Scorsese film)
Frolicking – playing, jumping, dancing around –> frolicking around in the water
Lax = not caring enough about security or rules, being lazy about security, a lax approach to air travel, very lax security at the hotel
A maze = Something you might find in the garden of an old English stately home. Imagine the garden of an English stately home – an old house in the countryside, like Downton Abbey or Hampton Court or something. In a maze there are hedges which have been grown to form a series of interconnected paths, and for fun you have to find your way from one end to the other or find the middle, without getting lost.
I will let you discover what actually happens in the stories and how all that language is actually featured.
So that’s it for the introduction and a little pre-teaching of language. Now you can just sit back and listen on as we let the game begin!
So that was the late night lockdown lying game with Amber and Paul. I hope you enjoyed it.
I think I’ve found the cure for hiccups.
Happy Hour with Paul Taylor – 6PM CET weekdays on YouTube and Facebook.
There are lots of other lying game episodes in the archive. Head over to teacherluke.co.uk and do a search of the archive for “lying game”. You can also search in the app that way. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve done this on the podcast now. We’ve had stories about working on Keanu Reeves films, being bullied by members of Coldplay, meeting rock stars at buddhist temples, seeing famous French film stars on my roof, working as a pole dancer in Paris, stabbing yourself in the face accidentally, rolling cars on country roads, knocking down walls in Japanese apartments, getting offered threesomes, and all kinds of other things. It could be a whole podcast of its own.
Rambling about my birthday… My daughter is a toddler now. She toddles around.
Thank you so much for the lovely birthday messages that you sent to me.
I’d like to give a shout out to students in my class today who surprised me with presents, delicious cake and champagne – at 10.30 this morning!
We all drank champagne during the class, in the morning. It seems that champagne is the only alcohol that you can drink in the morning and it’s acceptable. You can’t really drink whiskey, wine, beer, vodka (although I’m sure in some places that a breakfast drink) – where I’m from, it’s not acceptable to drink those things in the morning and if you do you’re an alcoholic, but champagne – go for it!
It was pretty interesting for me to teach English after having drunk champagne, which was great.
Anyway, I am another year older, which I am fine with as I said in a recent episode.
But that brings me to this episode, which is a conversation with one of the pod-pals, Paul Taylor, and the conversation is all about growing up, getting older and becoming a father.
As you will know if you heard the previous episode, Paul is about to become a Dad for the first time. His wife is pregnant and the due date is at the end of June. Congrats to the two of them, on behalf of all the LEPsters! It’s a girl. Hopefully she’ll grow up to be friends with my daughter and the other kids from our circle of friends. We don’t know what the name will be yet. We’re all hoping that the rest of the pregnancy goes well, and the birth too.
Having a child can be a bit of a turning point in your life. I don’t know if you have children.
So, in this conversation Paul and I get a bit deep & meaningful and talk about where Paul is in his life at this point, including our thoughts about becoming a father, getting older and growing up.
All I have by way of an introduction at this stage, are some questions for you to consider in order to prepare you a bit for what you’re going to hear.
Questions to consider before you listen to the conversation
As you get older, does your perception of other people change?
For example, if you see a group of 18 year olds, how do you feel?
If you see people who are in their retirement, elderly people, how do you feel?
How do you feel about the passage of time and getting older?
How does life change as you move from being a teenager into a young adult and then into being middle-aged and retirement age and old age?
What do you think of the way society views old people? Are they looked after, represented or respected fully in your society?
What about having children? Does it change your life? How? Is it a change for the better? In what ways?
What about your lifestyle?
Are you good at looking after yourself?
Do you keep yourself fit and do enough exercise? If not, why not?
Have you managed to find a sport or exercise routine that suits you and that you enjoy?
How about your diet and eating habits? Do you manage your diet well? Do you make sure you’re staying healthy and eating the right things?
Do you manage to get enough stuff done in your average day?
What’s your daily routine? Could you improve it in any way? How much discipline do you have in your life?
How motivated and disciplined are you about doing things that don’t bring you instant results?
Do you think you need to change your lifestyle as you get older? Is that an easy thing to do?
What influence did your parents have on your life? Do you ever judge the way your parents brought you up?
Do you ever compare yourself to your parents? Do you ever feel like you can’t live up to their expectations or the example they set for you?
Were either of your parents often not there when you were growing up? Maybe one of them or both of them worked a lot and wasn’t always there. How do you feel about that?
At what age do people leave home and become independent, in your country?
What kind of time should you spend with your child? Should you always be there, or is it ok to be absent sometimes as long as you are working hard and making money to help support them?
If you have kids or are planning to have kids, what kind of example should you show to your children? What aspects of your personality do you want them to inherit from you? Which aspects would you rather they didn’t learn?
Do you need to say “yes” more in your life? Or do you need to learn how to say “no” more?
As you get older do you feel that you are becoming more open-minded, or less open-minded? Are you still happy to meet and get to know new people and see new places in your life as you get older?
And, is Paul ready to be a Dad? Is he looking forward to it? Is he in the right stage of his life for parenthood?
These are the sorts of questions we are talking about in this episode.
So without any further ado, here is my conversation with Paul.
Congrats again to Paul and his wife Adi. Best of luck for the birth. We’re all looking forward to meeting the new Taylor when she arrives.
You heard us mention a book there.
“Yes Man” by Danny Wallace – a great, interesting and funny book written in modern plain English.
I know my listeners are always interested in finding new books to read. This one was very popular when it came out and I think it is not too difficult to read and should be full of the right kind of English. Everyday English in a plain and modern style.
There is an audiobook version which you might want to listen to. It’s available on Audible.
That’s almost it.
Podcast News / Admin
I have two more free episodes to publish before things go a bit quiet while I work on premium content.
Those next two episodes are also conversations with guests. Earlier this week I spoke to Oliver Gee, the Australian journalist and he told me lots of interesting stories about things like the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, meeting some famous people while working as a journalist and also his experiences of learning Swedish and French.
And the other conversation hasn’t been recorded yet, but it’s going to be with my Dad. We’re going to talk on Monday next week and the idea is to somehow describe the recent situation in UK politics and some other things like a recent conference that my Dad moderated about climate change, and hopefully we’ll have time to talk a bit more about football, because my Dad follows UK football very closely. That one isn’t recorded yet, but if all goes according to plan I’ll do the recording next week and publish it quickly afterwards, then the Oliver Gee episode should go up.
After that – things will go quiet for a while and there will be no free episodes probably for a couple of weeks, but I will be working hard on new premium content which should arrive steadily during that period.
Don’t forget also that Paul’s live 1hr stand up show is now available on YouTube. Search for Paul Taylor Franglais. The bits which are in French have English subtitles. It’s about 50% English and 50% French. You can check out Paul’s excellent French skills. It’s impressive.
Episode 600 – YouTube Live Stream – I’ve chosen a date and time!!
It’s going to be Friday 7 June at 3pm CET (Paris time)
6AM on the west coast of the USA
9AM in New York
8AM in Mexico City
10AM in Rio, Brazil
2PM in London
4pm in Moscow
4pm in Ankara, Turkey
6.30pm in New Delhi
9pm in Shanghai
10pm in Tokyo
11pm in Sydney
1AM on the Saturday morning in Auckland, NZ
If it’s not at the perfect time for you, then I am sorry! There’s not much I can do about that I’m afraid. Whatever time I do it, there will be some people who won’t be able to attend.
Also, this is just when I’m free!
I will be announcing this again on the podcast, but here it is – 3PM Paris time on Friday 7 June.
I’ll also create a YouTube link for the live stream which I’ll share on my website and on social media. That’s how you’ll access the live stream.
In the last episode you heard me talking to Amber and Paul. I hope you enjoyed that. It was lots of fun. I recorded it last week and after doing that mammoth episode about poshness Amber had to go but Paul stayed and so I thought we would return to the topic of the British citizenship test. We talked about this last time in episode 527 when Paul took the test on the podcast and failed.
I still had some other bits and pieces that I wanted to cover in the episode, including a stand up routine about the citizenship test and also an article in The Telegraph. Both of those things include their own citizenship tests, so let’s see if Paul can pass them. Be prepared to be either shocked or amazed by Paul’s knowledge about British things in general. Also we end up taking a citizenship test for the USA and to see if we pass or not, just keep listening.
So this episode is a chance for you to listen to Paul and me in conversation, but there’s also loads of stuff to learn in terms of British culture and certain words which are often pronounced wrong by native speakers of British English.
Check the page for this episode, where you will find links to the various tests and videos we’re talking about.
Let’s now join Paul and me after we’d just finished a cup of tea, ready to talk more on the podcast and let’s see how much he and you know about British life, culture and language.
Videos & Links
Imran Yusuf’s British Citizenship Test
The Daily Telegraph’s British Citizenship Test for Meghan Markle
Amber, Paul and Luke tell some stories of their worst ever stand-up comedy gigs. Expect some anecdotes about embarrassing and humiliating experiences on stage, and “dying on your arse”. Intro & outtro transcripts available + bonus audio in the LEP app.
In this episode you’re going to hear a conversation with Amber & Paul – both regular guests on this show as you will know if you are a long-term listener.
I thought I could do this episode with no introduction, just jumping straight into the conversation, but I’ve decided that I do need to say just a few things before we start. I think it will help to put our conversation in context, which should help you understand it all and generally keep up with our fast talking. I know, I can’t help doing these rambling intros, but what are you gonna do? There ain’t nuttin’ you can do.
This conversation is quite fast
When I get together with Amber and Paul, we talk quite quickly and we talk about things that you might not know about, like things that we’ve seen and done together. That might make it hard for you to keep up and understand everything. So, a bit of context from me, now, might help. This is going to make this episode longer, but that’s ok isn’t it?
Amber, Paul and I are all stand-up comedians and in fact that is how we know each other. We all originally met while doing stand-up in English in Paris. Stand-up, you should know by now, is a form of comedy entertainment in which one comedian stands on stage with a microphone and tells jokes and stories to make the audience laugh.
Amber and I do stand-up on a kind of part-time basis while also doing other work but Paul is a full-time comedian, and is actually quite famous these days, particularly in the French-speaking world. He has made some TV programmes for French television and YouTube and also he has a one man stand up comedy show which has been very successful, playing to large theatres of people. Sometimes Paul invites other comedians to open his shows, which means doing 5-10 minutes of stand up in front of Paul’s audience, in order to warm them up before Paul takes the stage. So, you’ll hear us talking about when Amber and I opened for Paul in a big theatre recently.
And then we go on to talk about other stories and experiences of doing stand-up comedy over the years.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen stand-up comedy live in a club or theatre, or if you’ve watched a lot of stand-up on TV. It might not be a big thing in your country. But a great stand-up show is possibly the best kind of comedy entertainment because when it goes well, you laugh so much. You laugh until your face hurts. That’s how good it can be. That rarely happens with films in the cinema. When was the last time you went to the cinema and laughed all the way through, like, every 15 seconds you’re laughing? Well, a good stand up show will be like that.
A bad stand up show on the other hand, can be extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Good and Bad Stand-up Comedy Shows
But what makes a show good, or bad?
The thing is, as a comedian, after performing on stage even just a few times, you realise that it’s not just you, your jokes, your performance that make a show good. There are other factors involved that are terribly important for making sure a show is successful and that the audience have a good time. I mean, you can do pretty much the same thing – the same jokes, the same stories at one show and get lots of laughs, but then do it at another show in front of a different audience in a different room, with different conditions and it can get no laughs.
Certain things are vital, basically to make sure that the show goes as well as possible.
Obviously, you need a good performer with good material. But also, the audience need to be able to see and hear the comedians on stage, there shouldn’t be many other distractions in the room. The audience should be in the dark a little bit so they don’t feel too self-conscious. The audience should be sitting together, fairly close to each other and fairly close to the performers. They should be comfortable but not too comfortable and it helps to bring the comedians on and off the stage quite quickly, in order to keep the energy up. It also makes a difference how you introduce the comedians on the stage and have them exit the stage, in order to manage the expectations and the reactions of the audience and generally to make the audience feel like the performers know what they’re doing and make sure the audience remember the comedians at their funniest moments (e.g. to end on a laugh not a dead moment).
In fact, there are loads of little factors which you should get right in order to run a successful comedy show. It’s show business, basically.
But the thing about stand up is that if the show doesn’t go very well, then for the comedian it’s especially painful, because you’re basically up there completely on your own and you’re completely exposed. It’s not like in music when you can basically hide behind your song or your instrument and you probably have other musicians on stage with you. As a stand up if things don’t go well, you know about it instantly because nobody laughs and it’s like you’re dying up there.
On the other side of the coin, when it goes really well and the audience laugh a lot, it’s an incredible feeling for everyone, particularly the comedian. But any stand-up who has done even just a few gigs will have stories of both good and bad experiences. It’s particularly common for comedians to share with each other their stories of the bad experiences and the times when they “died on their arse” which is how comedians call having a bad gig. A gig, means a show or concert. Stand ups love to tell each other about difficult gigs they’ve experienced. It makes us feel better, and stories of failure are usually pretty funny, right?
I’m saying all this, because basically, in this conversation you are going to hear Amber, Paul and me talking about some good gigs we’ve had recently and then some stories of truly awful experiences of dying on stage, not literally dying because, well, if we had actually died on stage then we wouldn’t have been able to record this, because we would be dead. Maybe we could have come back as ghosts, or something, but ghosts can’t talk normally, because they’re ghosts and they’re made of clouds or whatever. Ghooooosssts teeeend to speeeeeeaaak like thiiiiiiis, that’s how ghosts speak. That’s is no good for podcasting or any form of communication really, except for scaring people out of an old house.
That’s the only time when ghosts speak, isn’t it? When some people enter their old house and they want to scare them away. Leeeeave this plaaaaaace. Etc. or maybe they want to steal their souls and they say “jooooooooin usssss!”
So no, hahahaha just being silly. The point is, you’re going to hear stories of us having bad gigs and as we say, “dying on our arses” but not literally, don’t worry.
I think that’s it for context. I hope you can keep up with this and that you enjoy another conversation with Amber and Paul.
So, that was Amber, Paul and me, recorded in my flat just the other day. I hope you enjoyed listening to some of our stories of doing comedy there.
A couple of comments at the end here.
You’ll notice there wasn’t much from Amber in this episode. Paul and I did most of the talking I think. Perhaps we didn’t really let her get a word in, although I think she was happy, but still – sorry to the ‘Amberfans’ who missed out on some of her input and, yes, her lovely voice. I’ll make sure we get more Amber input next time they’re on the podcast, which should be fairly soon because Paul is now less busy than he was before and is more available for podcasting duties, not that it’s a duty.
There is Bonus Audio in the App
You will find nearly 20 minutes of bonus audio for this episode in the LEP app. Just tap the gift icon to access that. You’ll hear more of our conversation which wasn’t included in this episode because I didn’t want it to be too long. In that bonus audio we talk about more comedy-related topics, including what it’s like to receive negative comments on YouTube and also how Paul has been accused of stealing a joke from Louis CK, which is not true, he didn’t.
Joke theft is actually a very serious business among comedians. It’s one of the big no-nos and if you’re found guilty of joke theft, it can be very bad for your reputation and your career.
The thing is, it can be quite hard to work out if someone has actually stolen someone else’s joke, or whether the two people just came up with the same bit independently, which is possible – depending on the joke.
But Paul has been falsely accused of taking material from Louis CK, but he didn’t – they both just happen to have come up with the same joke.
Basically, this is a joke about how French people measure body temperature by sticking a thermometer up the bum. It seems most other countries just put it in the mouth or maybe under the arm, but the French – up the bum. This is an observation that Paul has been talking about on stage for several years, and Louis CK recently started talking about it too in his stand up (because these days he is with a French woman and has spent time in France). Some of Louis’ stand up shows have been leaked on YouTube, including that bit about thermometers. Also, Paul recently published a clip from his stand up show which included his thermometer joke. So some people have seen the videos and then mistakenly thought that Paul stole the joke from Louis. The fact is, they just both came up with exactly the same observation, independently of each other.
Paul’s been doing that material for several years at least and he has recordings to prove it.
Anyway, if you want to hear about the whole thermometer – bum – Louis CK – joke theft accusation scandal, then check out the bonus audio because we talk about that a bit, and a few other things too. That’s only in the LEP app, which you can get from the app store completely free.
In the app you can also get the full episode archive, plus loads of app-only episodes and content, plus the option to subscribe to LEP Premium content.
Register for LEP Premium to get episodes in which I teach you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation with PDF worksheets – all available in the app or online.
Join the mailing list on my website to get a link for the episode pages of new episodes when they are published.
Thank you again to Amber and Paul for being on the podcast.
Thank you to you for listening. I hope you enjoyed our stories of embarrassment and humiliation in this episode.
As ever, leave your comments on the website. Check the page for this episode where you will see some transcriptions and some videos, including footage of Paul dying on his arse at the French Football Awards and the vlog he made about it.
Keep in touch. Send me an email with your thoughts.
I’ve got more episodes about comedy coming up, specifically ones in which we listen to some clips and then understand them in detail.
You can look forward to that.
Have a wonderful day, morning, night, evening and please remember to be excellent to each other.
Speak to you again soon, but for now – goodbye!!!
Paul dies on his arse at the French Football Awards. It’s in French, but you can still see him ‘bomb’ quite badly – hardly anyone laughs at his comments and some people aren’t even listening to him (time code 48m29s)
In this episode you can listen to Amber, Paul and me as we take an online quiz and try to find out what school of philosophical thought we belong to. Are we empiricists, epicurianists, existentialists, hedonists, humanists, platonists, skeptics or stoicists? Listen on to find out more and to hear a full-on discussion of life, the universe and everything.
In this episode you can listen to Amber, Paul and me as we take an online quiz and try to find out what school of philosophical thought we belong to. Are we empiricists, epicurianists, existentialists, hedonists, humanists, platonists, skeptics or stoicists? Listen on to find out more and to hear a full-on discussion of life, the universe and everything.
If all those terms are completely new to you (empiricists, epicurianists, existentialists, hedonists, humanists, platonists, skeptics or stoicists), don’t worry. I don’t expect you to be an expert in philosophy or anything – but this can be a good way to practise listening to a slightly complex discussion in English.
I expect those terms aren’t completely new to you actually, because I’m assuming that you listened to the previous episode of this podcast, although it’s entirely likely that some of you have skipped that episode and jumped straight to this one because you were attracted by the prospect of listening to Amber & Paul on the podcast again.
You might have thought “meh, I’ll skip that one about philosophy and language and I’ll hurl myself towards this new Amber & Paul episode instead.”
Well, allow me to gently guide you back towards episode 509 at this moment because in that episode I explained what those types of philosophy involve, using various examples including how they relate to language learning. So I highly recommend that you listen to the previous episode if you want some explanations and general clarification of some of the concepts involved. It’ll help you to make sense of this episode a bit more, I promise.
And I think the combination of this episode and the last episode should be quite useful for understanding not just the general concepts we’re discussing but also for your English too. So, as you listen watch out for some of the ideas that I was talking about in the last episode.
Often, understanding something you’re listening to is a question of familiarity with the general subject. If you just listen to this conversation without hearing episode 509 (or without having general knowledge of philosophy – which admittedly some of you might have anyway), the topic area might be unfamiliar to you because it’s not every day that we talk about how we understand the meaning of life is it?
So listening to the previous episode could help you get more familiar with the topic and that will make this episode so much more accessible, the things you’ll hear will be a bit easier to understand and it should reinforce some of the language and terms that come up in the conversation and that should all lead to a more effective and satisfying listening and learning experience.
Are you convinced? Yes? You’ve already heard episode 509? Just get on with it? OK then…
So, in this episode you’ll hear Amber, Paul and me discussing the questions in a quiz that I found on Facebook, called “Which Philosophical School of Thought Do You Fall Into?” and generally talking about our approaches to life in general.
You can take the quiz with us if you like. You’ll find the link on the page of course. Click the link and follow the quiz with us. You can read the questions and different options that we’re discussing. You might need to pause the podcast in order to consider your answers on your own before hearing what we say and which options we choose.
Or you can just listen along without looking at the quiz – it’s up to you of course. You have free will don’t you? Or do you? Maybe all of this is predetermined either genetically, socially or as part of some divine plan by an intelligent (or perhaps not so intelligent) creator.
Now, I would like to just share some concerns with you at this point. I have a few concerns, and here they are.
I recorded this a few months ago and I’ve been sitting on it ever since. Not literally. I mean I’ve just been holding on to the recording, and wondering what to do with it. The reason for that is that, the conversation didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned or hoped. What I planned and hoped was that taking this quiz with my mates Amber & Paul could be a fun and clear way to explore some philosophical concepts for you my audience of learners of English. But what actually happened, as you’ll hear, is that we got quite frustrated by the way the quiz was written. These quizzes are always a bit annoying aren’t they? You always notice the flaws in the questioning and you wonder how accurate they will be. This quiz is no exception. Frankly, the questions and options don’t make complete sense – they’re quite vague and conceptual and you’ll hear that we spend quite a lot of time just trying to work out what each question actually means. There’s a lot of us interpreting the quiz itself, rather than discussing the philosophy.
On balance I’ve decided it’s still worth listening to, but I just want you to know that I know that it might be quite a heavy conversation for you to contend with. Of course, abstract stuff is harder to follow than down-to-earth stuff. I’m just saying – if you get overwhelmed by this one, then don’t worry – I am aware of that. I don’t mean to underestimate you, but there it is. Anyway, I’m just saying – I know that this is pretty complicated stuff, but I think you should listen to it anyway because ultimately we do finish the quiz and we do find out what school of philosophy we all belong to. It will really help if you take the quiz with us, so do get your phone out and click the link on the page or just google “which school of philosophy do you fall into?” and if you’re walking along in the street while listening to this and you’re looking at your smartphone please be careful where you are walking because I don’t want you to be doing a different quiz later, called “which hole in the street did you fall into?”
We did this recording at my place and Amber’s young son Hugo was there in the background watching “Andy’s Wild Adventures” which is a CBeebies TV show (BBC for kids). I realise that you can hear the TV in the background a bit. I don’t think it’s too disturbing, but you can hear it a bit. I don’t expect you’ll mind, but remember that I don’t record this podcast in a studio, so sometimes there might be the noise of real life going on around us.
Of course we kept an eye on Hugo during the conversation and every now and then we had to pause the podcast just to check up on him and so Amber could respond to him when he sometimes said “Mummy!”, which you might hear sometimes.
So, I just wanted to explain some of the background noises you might hear while you’re listening to this.
OK then, so get the quiz ready on your phone or computer – the link is on the page for this episode, or just search for “What school of Philosophical Thought Do You Fall In?” – and get ready for some philosophical ramblings from 3 people who quite possibly don’t really know what they’re talking about!
Alright, no more faffing about. Let’s go…!
I told you it was a heavy one didn’t I?
Are you ok? Are you still alive?
If you found that conversation difficult to follow and yet you are still listening, I just want to say “Well done” for staying the distance and sticking with it. Some people didn’t, they didn’t get here, and frankly they are just weak, generally weaker and will probably die out in the next evolutionary stage, so there. I don’t mean to say that you should feel glad that some members of our species just won’t make it, but rather that you can feel good that you’ll survive. I’m talking nonsense here of course.
Please, leave us your comments. What’s up with you? What are you thinking? What’s going on in your brain-head? We would like to know, and when I say “we” I mean the collective consciousness and the entire human race on a metaphysical level, not just me and the other members of the comment section crew.
Basically, write something in the comment section and express yourself in English!
The podcast will be back, doing it to your eardrums soon. Thanks for listening and take it easy out there in pod-land.
6 quick things left to say:
Get the LEP App– it’s free and there is cool stuff in it that you can’t get anywhere else. All the cool kids are using it.
Sign up to the mailing list to get email notifications of new stuff on the website, like all the cool kids do.
Give yourself another slap on the back for getting this far.
Write something in the comment section, and that includes just the word “something” if you like.
Consider sending me a donation by clicking a donate button on the website. It would be a sincere and practical way to thank me for my continuing efforts to help you with your English in many real ways.
Amber and Paul are back on the podcast as we catch up with their recent news and the conversation goes off on many tangents covering subjects such as: pollution and fog in Paris, a possible new word – ‘pog’, other potential new words of the year, Harvey Weinstein, wanking in the office, ‘human pollution in the swimming pool’, Paul’s recent showbiz news, seeing The Rolling Stones on stage and a slightly worrying email from a LEPster. Includes a cameo appearance by young Hugo, saying his first words on the podcast.
This is quite a disgusting episode at certain moments. There’s talk of masturbation and poo. Please prepare yourself accordingly.
The pollution and fog in Paris.
Potential new words of the year for 2017.
The Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal.
The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast with Stuart Goldsmith (and Reginald D Hunter)
Wanking (masturbating) in the Office (Big Train) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKH9ECC_Qa4
What’s Amber been doing?
A play date
“Human pollution” in the swimming pool.
Having to wear “speedos” or “budgie smugglers” in the swimming pool in France
How to fix technical issues:
Blow on it
Take the batteries out and put them back in again
Turn it off and turn it back on again
Leave it for a bit
Blowing at a hairdryer (they do get a bit clogged up at the back)
What’s Paul been doing?
Touring around different cities in France
Making episodes of What’s Up France?
PHOTO OF PAUL’S SOCK
Seeing The Rolling Stones on their European Tour
A slightly worrying email from a LEPster
iñaki Sanchez I really hate you and your podcast lucky Luke. Let me explain it please. I usually listen to certain podcasts like culips, vaughan radio etc. Those are very good podcasts and I have lived happily with them for quite a long time. I do not know yet how it came to my mind to find something else and here you are. Finally I found you….. or I´d better say I found your podcast. It seemed to be nice and I started using it. After a while I got hooked and started downloading all your podcasts. It was then that I became horrified by the fact that there are around 500 episodes. I have to recognize they are quite good, to be honest they are very good…. Let´s say the truth they are awesome and that is the bad thing. I discover myself listening your episodes from the very beginning. As I cannot listen to more than 1 episode a day I reckon I will be doing it for good….. or maybe for bad because you are going to be the cause of my divorce. My wife has begun accusing me of a lack of attention. Even my cat is angry with me now. My neighbours look at me strangely, and I don´t know if I have to say I hate you or I love you. What do you recommend me Luke? Tell me the truth, because I trust you. Should I get divorced or just keep on listening to your marvelous podcasts. In the meantime here I am on the fence waiting impatiently for your answer. Could I ask you please not to do so well so that I can hook off [unhook from, or just “get off” if it’s a drug or “clean up”] and come back to life? I think I am going bananas and this letter is the evidence. Help me Si´l vous plait and do not do it so well, because your podcast is driving me mad. Cheers Iñaki from the Basque Country
Just get divorced. Either that, or you try to convert your wife to the podcast. Have you tried that? Try it, and if it doesn’t work – divorce. ;) :) :)
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