08 Jun 2014

Here’s a potted biography of my working life.  

At the bottom I've added some things people have said about me.



Perform around 20 or 30 gigs at folk clubs and Working Mens’ Clubs around Leeds during my school holidays. Whimsical songs and no jokes, for sure.


Occasional gigs in student bars and more folk clubs. Punk happens. But not to me... yet.


I get punk, just as the cool Londoners pronounce it dead. Suddenly there are more gigs to play. The punks are so amazed when a long-haired bloke with acoustic guitar walks on that instead of gobbing they let me do my two silly songs and cheer ironically when I leave.


Support local punk band The Cortinas in front of 2000 fans at Bristol Locarno. Get the best heckle of my career (still to be improved upon 30 odd years later) - "Ere mate, you gettin’ paid to do this gig?" asks a punk at the front. "No." "Ere’s a quid then, now f**k off."

Discover Edinburgh. Well, obviously not in the Columbus sense, but find out about the fringe.


Set up a punk record label. Not a success – until I leave, when the label re-invents itself as the home of the WOMAD festival.

First Edinburgh one-man show. Am told by Fringe Director Alastair Moffat that one review of Guts, my one-man punk opera, is ‘the third-worst review I’ve ever seen in The Scotsman.’ I learn my first lesson in comedy – several okay reviews will not get you as big an audience as one certified stinker. Show is a complete success.


Serving in a pub in Bristol when my comic hero, surrealist theatre supremo Paul B. Davies asks me to be in his new show. Paul’s Crystal Theatre company are big stars in Bristol, their shows at punk gigs featuring the likes of Keith Allen and Dave Rappaport are legendary. Of course I’d like to be in it. The play is called The Fatted Calf and is about prostitutes. Most of the cast are women. I play five different sexual perverts. The play runs for two weeks at the ICA. Every night I make heavy breathing phone calls, act masturbation while a woman is strapped to a crucifix, and pretend to scream in exquisite pain as a cigarette is stubbed out on my naked back.

Set up Venue, a what’s on magazine for Bristol. This becomes a very big success, the moment I leave.


Spend two weeks in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in Paul’s latest show Men Of Stone. Don’t remember much about it. (Clue is in the word: ‘Amsterdam’)


Give up silly writing and performing, become a journalist  in South Wales... unsuccessfully. When I leave two years later my managing editor genuinely says:’I’ll see to it that you never work in newspapers again’. And is even more genuinely surprised when I say: ‘Thank you.’


While still training to be a journalist, go to the old Comedy Store, above a strip club in Soho. Get up on stage for five minutes. Am pleasantly surprised not to be booed off.


Begin performing stand-up at London comedy clubs.


Regular writer on Radio 4 topical show Week Ending. Occasional contributor to radio shows Huddlines, In One Ear, Unnatural Acts. And Spitting Image on ITV.

Occasional music articles for NME and The Face.


Edinburgh Show: Tuxedo Junta written and performed with Paul B. Davies. Perrier nomination.


Edinburgh Show: Stand-up with Kit Hollerbach, Paul Merton.

Out of this show emerges The Comedy Store Players – still going strong, despite me leaving...


Edinburgh Show: Stand-up with Nick Revell.


Co-wrote 20 + songs with Pete Sinclair for Spitting Image. The answer to your next question is 'no'. (‘Did you write The Chicken Song’?)


Edinburgh Show: Comic Abuse with Phil Cornwell, Felix Dexter, Ivor Dembina.


Writer-performer Edinburgh – first solo show.

Writer-performer Radio 4 sitcom pilot. Can’t even remember what it was called.

Co-writer with Pete Sinclair: The Best of British Radio 4 series narrated by Willie Rushton.


Edinburgh Shows: One man stand-up, and The Smouldering Globules of Love (writer-performer, my first Edinburgh play)


Created and performed ‘David Clichet’, journalist character for Up Yer News on British Satellite Broadcasting (later BSkyB).

Edinburgh: One man stand-up


Regular member of the Comedy Store’s Cutting Edge topical comedy show.


Edinburgh Shows: Dog (Play), and The Cutting Edge


Occasional guest on Radio 1’s topical panel show Loose Talk.


Edinburgh Show: One man stand-up

Co-creator, writer, performer Songlines (Radio 1 songs/stand-up series)


Edinburgh Show: One man stand-up

The Vicar of Deptford (ITV sitcom scripts). Exactly the same premise as Rev (2010) Dicover I'm exactly 17 years ahead of my time.

Songlines series 2


Edinburgh Show: Fit (Stand-up Play)


Wrote all or most of the sketches for Radio 5 topical comedy show The Treatment, 100+ episodes.

Regular writer of Ned Sherrin’s Radio 4 Saturday morning Loose Ends monologue.


Occasional performances with the world’s first Jewish heavy metal band, Guns’n’Moses


Writer-creator Shalom You Northern Bastard (Radio 4 sitcom pilot)


Occasional guest on Loose Ends


They Came From Nowhere – Radio 5 documentary, writer/presenter


Writer for Jack Docherty (Channel 5)


Regular writer on Channel 4’s Big Breakfast.
Regular writer on Radio 4’s News Quiz

Regular writer on Channel 4’s Eleven O’Clock Show. In my defence, yer honour, I was asked to develop my own quirky topical ideas for this show - all the bits that got cut before episode 1 aired.


Travels With My Anti-Semitism (writer-performer, Radio 4 sitcom series)


Occasional writer for Radio 4’s Dead Ringers (4-5 series)


Regular writer for Radio 4’s Sunday Format (4 series)


Script editor, Blouse & Skirt (BBC2)


Scriptwriter Channel 4 Political Awards


Writer/co-creator The Mayor of Balham (Radio 4 pilot)

Writer/co-creator You Are Here (BBC2 pilot)

Winner of the Wally Malston Comic Heritage Award for new young comedy writers. (age 42)

Regular writer on Have I Got News For You (since series 22)


Occasional writer on Room 101 (BBC2)

Co-writer Arthur Smith’s Last Hangover (Radio 4)

Writer-creator Doctor You (Radio 4 sitcom pilot script)

Writer-creator It’s History (Radio 2 spoof chat show pilot)


Writer-creator Des Murphy (Radio 4 sitcom pilot)

Writer/co-creator Beat The Kids (Radio 4 panel show, 2 series)


Invited to write for series 5 of BBC1 show My Family


Co-creator, -story and -lyric writer for 15 Minute Musicals, 5 series on Radio 4.


Writer and guest Jammin (2 series Radio 2)


Writer/creator The Tolpuddle Martyrs (Radio 4 sitcom script)

Writer/presenter I Want To Give Up Driving (Radio 4 documentary)


Lyric writer for CBBC’s Horrible Histories (3 series)


Gagwriter for BBC1 sitcom Not Going Out


Occasional columns for Chortle and British Comedy Guide websites


Gagwriter for BBC1 sitcom Life Of Riley

Occasional columns for The Guardian

Writer/presenter It’s About Time (Radio 4 documentary)

Writer/performer My Life As A Footnote (new one-man show)

Winner of the Writers’ Guild Radio Comedy Show award with David Quantick and Richie Webb for 15 Minute Musicals

2010 onwards

More Horrible Histories, Not Going Out, 15 Minute Musicals, My Life As A Footnote, book, some more radio, blah blah blah

The Future

"Tis only just begun" Norbert Holder.

Like Me

Here’s a few things people have said about me. For all you know I’ve creatively inserted a few dots and made these reviews look brilliant.

I Want To Give Up Driving BBC Radio 4 Documentary broadcast 29 May 06

‘Very funny, very cute, should be repeated during every Bank Holiday Monday traffic jam’ The Observer

‘Charmingly candid’ Pick of the Week, BBC

Dave Cohen Live 2006

‘hilarious songs’ Evening Standard

‘great comic talent’ Daily Mail

Travels With My Anti-Semitism BBC Radio 4 series 2000

‘Extremely funny, I’ll be tuning in to the rest of the series.’ Jewish Chronicle (Well they would, wouldn’t they?)

Dave Cohen’s stand-up in a previous millennium

‘The Funniest Act on the Fringe’ Radio Forth 1988

'Guru Of The One-Liner' Scotsman 1989

‘Laid-back, self-deprecating and very funny.’ The List 1989

‘Has the ability to get to the hilarious heart of any issue and his wit is as caustic as ever. For me the acid test of his acid wit was, what would my mother think? She loved him, and so did I.’ Evening News 1989

‘The surgeon of life’s underbelly, his voice remains deadpan as he cuts through fashionable foibles. The survivors of his acute observation come out tingling with hilarity about the chaos of the world.’ The Stage 1992. You don’t see reviews like that… ever, do you?

The Smouldering Globules of Love Edinburgh 1989

‘Hit the mark exactly the way most other comedian/acting crossovers didn’t. An exciting first effort.’ NME

‘Sheer enthusiasm and gusto, I look forward to seeing more from Mr Cohen’s pen.’ Guardian

Dog Edinburgh 1991

‘Oddly and gloriously amusing’ NME

‘A dog of a show.’ The Scotsman

Fit Edinburgh 1994

‘A jolly, genial fun lunchtime show’ The List