This Sunday evening at Bethnal Green's Backyard Comedy Club, a unique event takes place, celebrating the on- and offstage life of the comedian Jack Russell, who died a few weeks ago.
Russell - also known as John Cowley - may not have been a household name, but it was clear from the comedy community's response to his passing that this was an enormously well-liked figure on the UK circuit. And further afield, in fact: the tribute night features rare film of a set he recorded in Jakarta.
Jack seems to have been incredibly well liked - what was he like, off and onstage?
Susan: He was just as he looked to be honest. Impish, mischievous but with absolutely no malice in him whatsoever, which in some ways could make him sweetly naive. And annoying. But he was mostly good fun and always full of ideas.
His stand-up was gentle but not fluffy. He'd act lots of things out and was the only act I ever saw doing spiritual stuff about Buddhism in front of drunk stags and have them roaring. He was a proper hippy at heart but didn't wear flares. I'd have never gone out with him if he had, ha ha.
Joss, can you remember your first encounter with him?
Joss: Jack was a regular at a comedy club we ran in West London, The Cosmic, from the early-nineties when he was first starting out. He was a favourite with all the staff so was often at the club in those early days. We had a Tuesday night New Act Show which Jack hosted on a regular basis, and he became one of our resident weekend comperes very quickly. We worked together for many years, until 2006.
Would you know what happened to Jack in recent years - was he still doing stand-up?
Joss: I don't think he was still doing any comedy after he moved back to Ireland. He was always full of ideas and schemes, and would sometimes phone up with a book or film idea to talk about, but he rarely did gigs over there.
What's your standout memory of Jack, Susan? Or the best story you've heard about him since you broke the news?
Susan: Unfortunately none of my standout stories are printable, so this is one from John Ryan that's going in the book of condolences I'm collating for his mum:
"There was a gig in Crystal Palace years ago and it was chaos. There were football fans in and they were being noisy and disruptive. Jack arrived accompanied by a dog on a bit of rope and went on stage and said very quietly 'If Yis want to listen, come up here'. Half a dozen people brought their chairs forward and sat in a semi-circle while he told hilarious stories. All the while there is a fight at the bar and general chaos.
"An old man arrived, sat down and started tuning up a ukulele. Jack asked what he was doing and the man said he thought it was 'Uke Club'. Jack shook his head but asked the fella to do a song. The man sang and a hush fell across the room. There was a massive round of applause as the fella finished and with perfect timing Jack stood up - 'I am Jack Russell thank you and good night' - took the dog by the lead and left like a star.
"I left the 'gig' about an hour later and about three miles up the road saw him happily walking along in the lashing rain. He said he was walking home but wherever it was it was miles away. I offered to drop him off along the way and he explained that it was okay, the dog needed a good walk before bed.
"I once bumped into him at three in the afternoon on the embankment. He was walking to a gig in Leytonstone! The dog must have cried every time he put a lead on him."
What's your abiding memory, Joss?
Joss: Jack was a family friend and my kids adored him. He did this trick with his fingers and thumbs, switching them over really fast and impossible to copy which entranced the kids and earned him big respect in our house! They are adults now, but Jack goofing around entertaining them is how they remember him.
How did this tribute event come about, Susan - and how did you come across the film?
Susan: Well as his cremation and ashes burial are both in Dublin I thought it might be nice for people that knew him to celebrate his life here in England.
A promoter in Indonesia contacted me and said he had a copy of his gig in Jakarta where he smashed it for 45 minutes. I can't wait to see it. He was the first ever stand-up over there. I'm hoping his mum will come over for it too.
It's going to be a night of laughter and tears no doubt. Entry is free and everyone is welcome. His agent also has a few telly bits and bobs [to show] too. There will be a mic set up for people to tell anecdotes if they want to.
I'll probably end up in a heap of Prosecco and snotters. Be nice to me.