Tag Archives: Birmingham

Impractical Jokers – Birmingham 2017

The last month or so has been filled with an unusual number of opportunities for Mike and me to take a little time off from our jam-packed lives at home and have some much-needed time to relax, rejuvenate and re-find ourselves as a couple. We’ve been fortunate that, just as she did last June when we enjoyed my surprise holiday win to Italy, my Mum was willing to take charge of G and M for the duration and we’ve been celebrating our 40th birthdays in style. Our first treat involved a road trip to Birmingham, an overnight stay near the Barclaycard Arena (previously the National Indoor Arena) and an evening spent laughing, courtesy of the tickets I had bought for Mike as part of his 40th birthday present.

img_13471Just over a year ago we discovered the American hit comedy show, Impractical Jokers and have spent many hours curled up in front of the TV, often with the children added to the mix too, giggling and guffawing at the escapades we’ve watched unfold in front of our eyes. For those of you who have never heard of the Impractical Jokers, this hidden camera show follows 4 childhood friends from Staten Island, Sal, Joe, Murr and Q, as they play a series of practical jokes on each other and the unsuspecting general public. In a hyped-up version of “Truth or Dare”, they challenge each other to complete a string of ridiculous tasks, knowing that failure to complete or achieve the goal will result in the biggest loser of that episode having to undergo a punishment at the hands of their friends.

The Jokers usually do not know the details of the pranks until the moment they have to do them and are often pushed to say and do things that are well beyond most people’s normal comfort zones. From saying outrageous comments when serving customers at one of the many stores, fast food joints or cafes featured from New York, to having to convince strangers that they have met before in the most unbelievable set of circumstances, the pranks nearly always have us all laughing out loud. I’d be hard-pushed to say which part of each show we most enjoy, but the final punishments are almost always as funny as the pranks themselves and go from the sublime to the ridiculous. img_13531In many ways, it’s seeing the response that adds to the humour of the situation. My Mum freely admits that she can’t see what makes us laugh so much and perhaps it’s true you require a certain quirky sense of humour to enjoy the half-hour episodes.

Having missed out on tickets for their first UK tour in February 2016, I was determined to get some for January 2017 and was delighted when I managed to secure 2 great seats at the Birmingham Barclaycard Arena. It took some strategic planning with my Mum – well, I had to check she’d be in the country to look after G and M for the night! – but we got there in the end and I even managed to keep it a secret until the big reveal on Mike’s birthday in October. M was not so impressed with our planned night out, but Mike was as thrilled as I was and the time just flew past until we found ourselves taking an afternoon off from work and bombing down the motorway towards our final destination. We found a great place to stay – City Nites Serviced Apartments – within walking distance of the Arena that included a secure location to park the car and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Thai Edge before the show itself started.

We were hoping for a great night out and weren’t disappointed. The Jokers, also known as The Tenderloins comedy troupe, have been performing stand-up for years and their show was filled with a skillful mix of scripted jokes, some improv and the inevitable reveal of previously unseen clips from their successful TV show. I’ll be honest, a few long days and nights on UK tour had obviously taken their toll on all their voices and a heavy drinking session meant that one member of the group in particular was not as sharp as he usually is on-screen, but my favourites, Sal and Joe, were in fantastic form and made the night for me. Mike loved being at yet another live comedy show, having already enjoyed seeing Josh Widdicombe and Dave Gorman for previous birthday treats. It was a brilliant overnight break from the children and one that we both needed after the medical stresses that had stalked us at the end of last year.c2dvr6txeaan_op

Big Bang Science Fair

Last weekend we travelled to the Big Bang Science Fair at the NEC, Birmingham for a day full of science, maths and electronics fun.  This isn’t an event we’ve been to before and I have to confess that it wouldn’t necessarily have been one that would have even registered in our consciousness before this year.  Since last September, M has been attending a weekly Electronics Club after school and he loves every moment of it.  During the past few months, he has learnt to program a Raspberry Pi, has become an expert with circuit boards, has written his own computer games using Scratch, built a crawling microbug and is now embarking on his latest project, a turning frog.

M getting hands on with one of the exhibits

M getting hands on with one of the exhibits

Electronics has quickly developed into one of the great passions in M’s life and his recent birthday gifts reflected this new-found interest. From solar-powered robots to salt-water cars and night-sky constellations to a build-your-own robot arm, there’s been an awful lot of “building” going on in our household on a nightly basis.  So, when the Electronics Club mentioned a possible day-trip to the NEC for the Big Bang Science Fair, M leapt at the chance and soon had the rest of the family on board too.  We arrived at around 11am, split into small groups and started making our way around the huge number of exhibits that were there.  There was a brief hiatus for lunch and then it was back to exploring the space before the show finished at 4.30pm.

G working hard to power the lightbulbs

G working hard to power the lightbulbs

Mike and M were in one group, whilst G and I were in another and we followed different paths around the hall.  G loved her opportunity to generate enough power to light up some lightbulbs through pedal-power, whilst my favourite exhibit was playing musical vegetables, thanks to a piece of music software and some clever wiring.  M, on the other hand, has been hard pressed to choose his favourite activity, although he is very proud of his memento of a rock-hard silicone glove, created by mixing some chemicals together (don’t ask me which, neither Mike or M can remember!).  He also become the subject of discussion with some university students working there, when a medical student spotted his NG-tube and called her colleagues over as they had never seen a tube in situ before.  Mike was also impressed that one of the nurses working on the ambulance display had not only heard of EGID, but also knew a little about it.

2015-03-14 16.24.25It was a fantastic and fascinating day out and M has already requested a repeat visit next year, with just one proviso:  that we get there right at the start of the day in the hope those extra couple of hours might enable us to see everything there is to see.