Sunday, August 31, 2008

31/08/08 Up North

I've been away in sunny Crovie for a couple of days visiting my pals Sim and Bob, their daughters Harper and Alice and their greyhound dug Honey.
It was a hugely enjoyable contrast to the madness what is the Fringe, and I now feel suitably refreshed.
The banter was exceptional, the weather was great and I had the best seafood I've ever eaten in my life (fresh oysters and scallops).
I did have a slight disappointment in that I only beat Bob 5 & 4 at golf, after being 7 up after 10 holes, but hopefully I'll soon come to terms with this disappointment and move on.
It was great to see Honey tearing up and down a deserted beach at full speed..a truly awesome force of nature to witness at first hand.
To give some perspective, a greyhound has been recorded running 100m in 4.97 sec, (Usain Bolt's new world record is 9.62 seconds).
So if the two were in a race, rather than just a quick chest thump and a wave at the finish, the greyhound would probably have time to stop and have a quick shit, and still win the race comfortably.
I got talking with Alice (5) on the memory of a previous much-loved dog of theirs who'd passed on a couple of years ago.
Alice was aware that the dog had been taken to the vet to be "put to sleep", however she surprised me by confiding that the vet had "cut Jack in half".
I'm not quite sure how she had come to believe this, but it was a revelation that caused more than a few giggles as I drove back home to Edinburgh.
In general, it was much more relaxing and straightforward spending a lot of time talking to Harper (8) and Alice, rather than the previous month's experience of chatting to comedians about the Fringe, their shows, their audience numbers, their reviews, their material etc
It's a minefield and it's very easy to slip up and inadvertently upset someone with an unwise choice of words.
(and I'm just as bad and over-sensitive as anyone else, I hasten to add)
It's like spending a month playing one of these games you get at Gala Days where you have to guide a metal loop around some bendy wire, trying not to touch the wire and set off the alarm.
Hard work.
Had another 3 gigs last week which fell into the "solid but unspectacular" category.
Last night, I was playing my congas with my neighbour's band at a Sports Club prizegiving evening.
I enjoy the playing, but always find this event a little odd, as no-one seems to acknowledge we're actually there...(an occasional single clap at the end of a song, and that's it)
There was a little late flurry of dancing this time, and in fairness the food was good, and free pints will always be welcomed as far as I am concerned.
At the end of the set, the female saxophonist remarked on how much she had enjoyed my conga playing, and said that I had a "great sense of rhythm".
I have to admit, that I did have an "absolute stormer" in terms of conga playing...(it's great to write your own reviews, isn't it? It really takes the stress out of being reviewed, and I recommend it heartily to all comedians/musicians/whatever)
She went on to say that the previous drummer she'd played with here 2 years ago was "rubbish...and all over the place!".
I took great amusement in informing her that this drummer was me as well...(I think I may have overdone it on the "free pints" last time)
It's good to get honest reviews...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

26/08/08 It's All Over

So the circus has headed out of town for another year...
Last Saturday, I was quite relieved to have finished off the 17 day run of NCFOM and put my feet up for the rest of the Fringe.
However, I ended up doing 12 extra gigs last week, including a run of afternoon Electric Mouse shows at the "Jekyll & Hyde" that I'd rate as amongst the most satisfying gigs I've ever done.
I just seemed to find an extra comedy gear from somewhere, and a few of them I'd even hesitantly describe as "absolute stormers".
I'm itching to get back into a comedy club and keep the momentum going, because obviously I'm scared of forgetting whatever it is I am doing now that is getting a much bigger reaction than at the start of the Fringe.
I thought Rhod Gilbert should have won the big award thing, and thought it pathetic and patronising that the "Spirit of the Fringe Award" was given to "all the comedians on the Fringe".
There are loads of Fringe stalwarts who could have been deservedly recognised by this award, but they blew it and went for a stupid gimmick dreamt up by some pissed PR jackass.
I suspect Rhod was maybe the victim of politics ; being unwittingly associated with the idiotic branding calamity that was "The Edinburgh Comedy Festival".
I suspect it won't re-appear next year.
I do really like David O'Doherty, but I just thought that Mr Gilbert was out on his own this year.
But anyway, as I've said before, I hate competitions.
Other things I learned this year...
Free late gigs are to be avoided.
A completely pissed audience with no financial investment in a show isn't worth the hassle.
One of the rituals of such event is a succession of tired, jaded comedians politely asking the compere if they can "get on early"...
The compere then puts on the classic car mechanic expression when you ask how much they reckon the repair will cost....
So you do a gig to a few pissed up members of the public, and a few pissed off comedians, who realise they have to hang about longer than they wanted.
It's ideal!
And to Edinburgh drivers....cheer up you miserable bastards!
Do you really need to be taking your car anyway ,wherever you are going?
Driving during the Fringe is bad enough, but with the ubiquitous tram roadworks added to the equation, you ain't going anywhere particularly quickly, so just relax and stop being such aggressive twats.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

19/08/08 I'd like to thank....

Well, that sure was swell....
I'm glad the run is over as I can now gad about seeing loads of other shows, but it'd be fair to say that's the best I've ever enjoyed being involved in a Fringe show...
It was big crowds all the way, and a happy bunch of co-performers with whom it was a pleasure to put on a show.
I'd also like to make a special big thanks to Dave Reilly for taking the time and effort to record our intro tape.
He is truly a man of the people....
And a big thank 'ee kindly to all our special guest spots!
And thanks to the Meridian Bar Staff who were all extremely supportive of the show.
(It isn't always like this...and yes, "Roman Eagle Lodge", I am talking about you...)
We had a greatlast show on Saturday.
Some people couldn't get into the venue as it was absolutely full.
It's always nice when you have friends along for the show to witness this.
It looks fairly impressive.
This situation could only have been improved upon if an A-List comedian turned up, was unable to get in, resulting in me having to tell him to piss off...
Somewhat like the old joke in which a man gets Frank Sinatra to approach him in a bar to impress a lady he's with, and ends up saying "Fuck off Frank, I'm busy...".
I've particularly enjoyed the pisstake introductions for each other which we introduced throughout the run of the show.
Audiences seem to really enjoy the acts taking big swipes at each other in an affectionate way.
Also, the NCFOM team have been approached about running a regular comedy night at The Meridian, which would be good.
Oh, and I've stopped smoking again...
I was watching the Olympics Steeplechase race last night...
It's something of an oddity isn't it?
I mean, what is the point of the "water jump"...
It must have been a real pain for the people who built nice, new athletic tracks to comply with the requirements of having a hole in the track filled with water.
Who are the Steeplechase runners...
Are they people who aren't fast enough to just run, but have more of a chance if there's "jumping over things" element?
(obviously the answer is yes)

Friday, August 08, 2008

08/08/08 Hey Edinburgh!

Only kidding.
I am still having a fun time (yes, really!)
Predictably, after our frankly, amazing crowds for the first few shows, it has been a bit quieter over the last few days.
The monsoon conditions haven't helped.
Anyway, we have fairly solid bookings for the next few days so should be back to playing to big, happy crowds rather than to slightly bewildered looking, smaller ones.
Yesterday was by far my worst gig, as the small audience just stared at me for 15 minutes.
There was a bad omen before the gig which led me to suspect this might be a bad gig.
I was on the number 12 bus heading down Leith Walk.
Towards the end of my journey a man came upstairs and sat in front of me.
It immediately became apparent that he'd shat himself at some point within the preceding few days.
As I got out my seat to alight at the next stop, I started gagging and it took superhuman powers of control on my part to stop me projectile vomiting down the stairs of the bus on my way off it.
It really was the worst smell I have ever experienced in my life.
It wasn't an ideal pre-gig preparation by any stretch of the imagination.
Other notes to self.
Shut up.
ie don't laughingly say to a a crowd of comedians "I wonder how many crap comedians will be referring to the "Credit Crunch" as a type of biscuit during the Fringe...!"
(I could tell from some of the expressions on the comedians' faces that they themselves had such "Credit Crunch" material)
Probably better to keep such prejudices to myself.
I chuckled when I heard that one of our guest spots referred to the "3 Weeks" reviewers as "very enthusiastic".
There's definitely a subtext going on in that quote.
I don't think we've had any more reviewers in since the "3 Weeks" one, but I'm quite happy with that.
It'd be nice to get one today or tomorrow, as we are going to be very busy again.

Monday, August 04, 2008

04/08/08 Fringe Update

Well, it's been a pretty hectic few days as the Fringe has swung into action.
"No Comedy For Old Men" has been ticking along nicely.
We had a reviewer from "3 Weeks" in for our first night which could have been a disaster, but turned into a great start with a surprisingly big crowd.
(review posted at bottom of blog)
Friday was a little quieter with about 20 in, but then we had 60 plus on Saturday.
On the basis of my previous experience of doing Fringe shows, these numbers are pretty sensational.
I had worried about the remoteness of the venue, but it seems that perhaps the remoteness is working in our favour as there are not many other venues in our particular area.
I enjoyed watching Wilson Dixon and Arnold Brown knock 'em dead at The Stand launch party on Thursday.
The biggest laughs of the Fringe so far for me were watching Richard Herring's "Wanking Off Paedophiles" story.
I was in serious pain from laughing, and came perilously close to falling off my seat at one point in the proceedings.
I'm also delighted to see his "Headmaster's Son" show get 5 stars on Chortle.
Ok, I'm a fan, but he definitely deserves more recognition in terms of the consistently brilliant shows he brings up to the Fringe year after year.
I was worried for him this year as he foolishly decided to go head-to-head with our show in the 7-8pm slot.
I hope it hasn't cost him too much at the box-office.
I also played my drum in the Festival Cavalcade Procession with the Edinburgh Samba School.
It was the first time I'd done it for a while, and it was very enjoyable to be back in the groove...
We seemed to upset many of the army stewards for moving too slowly along Princes Street...maybe we're all just getting a bit older...
The feel of the event has changed though...the Samba School was always an eclectic mixture of individuals...hard-core, alternative tree-huggers rubbing shoulders with those with more conventional lifestyles....A little of that diversity seems to have gone...but hey it was great fun!
Pissed, on Saturday night, I mentioned to a couple of fellow samba players that I was speaking to "Arthur Smith" the night before.
This prompted a raising of virtual handbags under chins and a chorus of "woooooos", as I was roundly accused of being a shameless name-dropper.
It's a funny one...the only reason I mentioned it was that Arthur Smith is a legend, and one of my true comedy heroes, and it was a thrill to speak to him.
I'm certainly not trying to impress anyone by saying that I spoke to him. I was merely being honest that it was a special moment for me to meet one of my idols...but anyway, as I said to Stewart Lee later on in the same evening, "People are cunts.." :-)
I'd also recommend "Teddy Bares" at The Stand...a delightfully dark and witty journey from one of Scotland's top comics.

No Comedy For Old Men - Free
Laughing Horse Free Festival - Gordon Alexander, Jeff O'Boyle, Jim Park and Martin McAllister
Cheered on by enthusiastic locals and some Celts outside the venue for good measure (yes, there is performer/audience interaction - that's how I know!) this is clearly the comedy event to go to if you want to mingle with the natives. The predictable themes of Bush, asylum seekers and sex are all covered but the toilet paper raffle ending is one hundred percent unique, as is a hilarious account by O'Boyle on Irish in-breeding (I'm Cornish, I understand).This may not be the cleverest or the funniest show on the Fringe but it sums up what the festival is all about: friends who love to have a laugh together, cold pint of beer, good atmosphere... and all for the bargain price of nothing!
Laughing Horse @ Meridian, 31 Jul - 16 Aug, 7.05pm (8.05pm), free, fpp 82.
tw rating 3/5