Kiss and Tell Cabaret

Sophisticated Satirical Cabaret & Operatic Comedy 


The Despot song

Posted by kissandtell on December 23, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Spare a thought this Christmas for the fallen Dictator's mistress shopping alone in Knightsbridge.

"Where have all the Despots gone" was dreamt up in my bed on yet another insomniac-filled night but I realise that's when so many of my fun ideas materialise so I'm just going to have to give in to regularly falling asleep at 3am..

We worked the song in the usual process; I wrote out some ideas; lyrics, the form, angle and direction of the song and gave them to Lloyd Evans to work his magic. Lloyd came up with great twists and turns as well as the "Moussa Kousa" line (originally intended as final punch line) but it was worked into the song by Jeremy as the keychange (inspired).

Jeremy did yet more wonderful tweaks to the lyrics such as changing "you wore a flackjacket I wore a thong" to " I wore a flackjacket, you wore a thong" and building on  rhyming "hash" with "Johnny Cash"  and Shisha/ Aletia and "hashish cloud / Girls Aloud"- genius, our Jeremy ( but don't tell him I said that)...

I had the chorus buzzing in my head for days and sang it down the phone to Jeremy  late one night. Three days later he completed the desired pop song format.

"Jeremy" I instructed" It has to be cheesy cheesy cheesy."

"I'll see what I can do" he replied.


We first performed "Where have all the Despots gone" at the Pheasantry, Kings Road, London on November 23rd and a friend said it just had to be a youtube pop video. After some lucky sponsorship for the recording, I drafted up a shooting script with Neil Armstrong.

I've spent a lot of time in the Middle East on tour with various opera companies,passing the time in too many hotel rooms watching Emirates MTV, I remembered "Habibi" (meaning "Darling") featured heavily in all their love songs and there's plenty of slow fades, soft focus and flashback love scenes in the videos.

We recorded the song at Soho Studios with a great engineer who totally got what I wanted to do with the song.

Then I called my old friend (and colleague) Tenor Cameron Rolls to be my dictator. We filmed the video on 12th December in Knightsbridge and it was damn cold and we didn't have much time to film but my, weren't we lucky with the light!

Filming in the Bedouin tent (Robert Stephenson Carpet shop)

My friend Brendan turned up on his scooter to play my bodyguard as we sauntered in and out of Gucci trying a) not to get chucked out of the shop and b) to get a shot clear of the entrance clear of double decker buses. We then raced to Robert Stephenson's carpet shop in Chelsea to film the bedouin tent love scenes with Cameron. 

Then as luck would have it, another friend Paul who specialises in covering shotguns in swaroski crystals (don't ask)  said he could pass by for fifteen minutes with the appropriately named "Pimp my Purdey" shotgun.

I clearly have wonderful eccentric friends who gave their time for next to nothing and I'd like to thank them for that. It all came to life in the editing and this was done by Simon Thorpe who totally got the angle - It only took us six hours, alot of laughter and four bottles of Becks.

Thirsty work satire.

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