Friday, 26 October 2012

Thursday 25th October 2012 - Ultimate Booknerd 64 2k12

I seem to be spending too much of my time asleep. My body appears to want to sleep until half 12, every day. This is annoying. Losing the 'morning' (between quote marks, because, like a proper Fresher, I feel mornings are a conceptual entity never actually experienced by anyone. That's what I'm feeling like at the moment. Like a fresher. Again) means that most of my days I start from a distinctly 'annoyed' perspective. Last night was great, once again stuck in Falmer bar with lovely people I hadn't seen for ages, then off to Brighton for drinks with yet more friends from way back. At the moment I am writing this (on Thursday afternoon)  from the Sussex Piazza Café (Yoghurt+Muesli+Kiwi = brill, Latte = brill, Cake = meh) where even the spoons are made of fully compostable materials. I approve of Sussex's Sussexiness. From today, I'm also the primary Dutch validator for Brandwatch (Boom! Employment!) which will enable many good things.

Before all that though, my friends Ben and Kristy (with whom I'm staying atm) chucked me out of the house, because I was crashing/falling asleep again after taking meds at half 12, and just as well they did. So I left, and had an amazing Halloumi wrap in the Lanes and then, on my to Brandwatch, went into a secondhand bookshop. Now I'm a secondhand bookshop addict. They're not really around in Amsterdam, which is good for my financial situation. But here, I had a 20 minute bookbuying binge. I just had to give in. The booty is:

Under Western Eyes - Joseph Conrad (to make Gene, my Thesis Supervisor and world authority on Conrad happy)
Orlando - Virginia Woolf (After yesterday, how couldn't I?)
The Awkward Age - Henry James (James is amazing if longwinded. And for me EVERY AGE is the Awkward age. Might name an Edinburgh show after that)
The Penguin Classics edition of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman - Lawrence Sterne (which beats my cheapo Wordsworth edition hands down*)
Spike - an Intimate Memoir - Norma Farnes (which set off this binge, because it's related to my thesis topic)
When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro (which I thought would be a great book for my MA, but according to my friend Sophie it's millions of different kinds of crap. Ah well)
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel (just had to)
Requiem for a Nun - William Faulkner (Gene is also a world renowned expert on Faulkner)
The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood (My second unread Atwood, will have pride of place next to Bodily Harm)
The Mating Season - P.G. Wodehouse (My second unread Wodehouse)
The Longest Journey - E.M. Forster (Ditto re. yesterday. I just had to)
and an awesome paperback edition of White Teeth by Zadie Smith. 12. 12. 12 new, used books. I have a problem.

* Also, I appear to have stepped up a notch in my booknerdery in actually having double-bought a book for a better edition. Hence the title.

Wednesday 24th October 2012 - WHOSE HOUSE?!?!? WOOLF'S HOUSE!

So, I'm writing this in a pub called the Abergavenny Arms in Rodmell, East Sussex, surely one of the most English of places I've ever been. Currently having a coffee froma  caffètière as I'm waiting for the bus to take me back to Lewes, which won't be here for another hour and a half*.

* I have to add, this is written in the present tense, since I was actually writing this on Wednesday afternoon, didn't have my laptop with me then and can't be arsed to put it in the tense it's supposed to be in. Moving on.

They´re playing Miles Dacvis and I'm in a corner, with some books (as ever). Very happpy that I went out and did this V. much looking forward to reading ALL of Woolf. Right, beautiful things about Monk's House: Wonderful, bright (with the weather being genuinely glorious for once) English garden, with two ponds, an orchard and amazing lawns. The kind of garden you'd have liked to get lost in as a child, discovering something awesome round every corner. It's also slap bang in the middle of the South Downs, which are wonderful in general but even better when it's all autumnal, like today. Seriously need to walk those. A friend of mine did it about a year ago and she was ecstatic about it, so I might just slap on some walking gear and get frisky.

There are some allotments in the garden, but the best bit by a mile is the writing shack (it's tiny, but it's the real thing). There were windfall apples from the orchard, of which I partook and enjoyed one. Woolf's actual chair, table and the small Persian rug that these previous two stood upon were all quite magical. It wasn't that much of a stretch to imagine her bashing her brains out over some seriously difficult bit of prose, nor authoritatively laying down the law in her critical writing or to spread out her daily experiences in her many diaries. The house itself is left  in pretty much the state it was in when Leonard died in 1969, meaning the furniture and all of the decorations were still very much in the 1890s-1920s style, established by Woolf. In her (small) bedroom, she had a brilliantly beautiful, specially made bookcase, just for Shakespeare, which, after a bad bout of depression, she chose to give her own designed covers.

Apparently, quite a lot of the Woolf collection had been stolen; at least, that was implied by the seriousness of the National Trust workers- by Sussex University. All of them, ladies in their sixties and seventies, terrified of me seriously injuring myself against the low ceilings e.g. cracking the beams of the house. There were pictures of the Bloomsbury lot in the shack. Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry, Vanessa (her sister, beautiful woman), Thomas Eliot, Morgan Forster, Vita Sackville-West, Elizabeth Bowen, Lytton Strachey; pretty much all of the Bloomsbury set. Also, there were pictures of some of the pets owned by the Woolfs. There were two Spaniels, one of which was called Sally, I forget the name of the other one. They also had a spider Monkey called Mitzy for about five years.

A man from the National Trust told me about Woolf's schedule, writing in the mornings (those electrical heaters wouldn't have been there for nothing), having a nice lunch, then doing correspondence and critical writing, as well as reading in the evenings. And that she used to scare the living daylights out of the housekeeper when, during her morning bath, she used to shout out whatever she'd written the morning before, to feel the rhythm. I approve.

I cannot stress sufficiently how teensy the house is, full of 1920s beautiful stuff, especially the chairs, which seem to have been made especially with a pattern by Vanessa. Also the beautiful portrait of Woolf's by Vanessa that is used quite a lot as a cover for The Years and The Waves just hung there in the lounge. Of course, none of this actually brings one closer to Woolf herself, walking around the garden as she must have done, pockets full of stones, in the direction of the river Ouse, shortly after finishing Between the Acts. None, apart from a lavatorial break in the outside loo., which I can't imagine having changed much since, where she would be sitting and coming up with the secondary plot for Dalloway, or the best critical insights. As I turned to wash my hands and the cold water hit me, I imagined Woolf, deep in thought, doing exactly the same, all those years ago. Apparently, they rent out the house during winter. I might go on honeymoon there. Any takers?

Monday, 22 October 2012

19th-22nd October 2012: Lower Back Pain, Buses and Zombies

Hello, I'm back!

Since it seems to be an unwritten rule that I can only blog when in the U.K. I'm starting again. I'm in Brighton for a week and a day, and so far have done very little of note. I've woken up, thrice; seen some friends and had coffee. But since all these things happened to occur in Brighton, that made me very happy indeed.

Ok, why I love Brighton. a. It's a selfconsciously silly place. Even when it's cold, rainy and uncomfortable, Brighton's a town that's content and confident in what it is. Saturdays in Brighton may be busy as hell, it's never terrifyingly packed. When I moved here two years and a month ago, I had no sense of what I was going to be doing here, apart from the facts: I was going to study here, and I was going to do stand-up. b. The stand-up scene is amazing. Everyone I met through doing stand-up, as an arrivée from the great big ol' foreign, with no confidence in my own abilities, was endlessly lovely and ended up actually being pretty fucking instrumental for my continuing stand-up at all. c. The city is absurdly beautiful. When I arrived on Friday night, after sixteen hours on a coach, I have to admit: I had a little cry. It almost didn't seem real, especially since part of me never really thought I'd ever make it back (For the reason of this, either ask me, or watch my 2015 Edinburgh show Can I Be Honest For One Moment (And Never Again After That)). But I have. Hooray. d. The ocean is there. I like the sea. e. The University of Sussex is a really cool place. One of my favourite places in the universe actually. I'm going to be there for a number of days from Monday, working on my BA dissertation (finalement) and meeting up again with old friends.

But first: I've been having lower back pain for a couple of weeks, ever since I first did boxing. Boxing, Jorik? You may ask? You don't seem like the violent type? I know, I'm a wuss. But I tried it out one evening, and I enjoyed it massively. It's the best workout possible, and even though I was clocked in the nose 5 times, I really enjoyed it. But I do think I may have pulled a tendon in my lower back. What you need to know is that I'm quite a tall man, 6'4'', so I usually am hunched over something or other anyway.  Usually a book, often a laptop. Which is not good for one's lower back anyway. Thirdly, I'm on the way back from being really quite fat indeed, and most of me is packed around the waist-area. I admit, I'm a great hug, but it's not as erotically powerful as one would wish. Fourthly, I spent most of Friday on a coach, which isn't good for anyone. Meaning that by the time I'll get back to Amsterdam, my back will be fucked and I'll have to hire a prostitute to just stand on it for four hours, whilst I read Balzac.

Secondly, I'm really enjoying rekindling friendships and just chatting to people I mostly haven't seen for over a year. I've changed significantly, and mostly, so have they. What I appreciate most is the capacity for kindness that seems to exist, even when you've been away for such a long period of time. And the chats are really good. Like you'd expect adults have about their lives, you know. It's genuinely empowering and I feel that friendships are cemented and I even have found people who were allright with chatting for an hour or more with a strange Dutchperson. This can only be described as a good thing. To those people: endless thanks, you know who you are etc.

Today (the 22nd) I was to make my first foray back onto the Sussex campus. I bought a ticket for the train, but chose the discounted ticket, thinking my 16-25 railcard would still be valid. I was wrong. An incredibly friendly ticket inspector (I know, it's an oxymoron. But he genuinely was) kindly informed me that I was travelling on the wrong kind of ticket and in the friendliest possible manner told me I had to pay a 20 pound fine. I then told him I a. didn't have an address in the U.K., since I was just over for the week and b. my working bank card was a Dutch one. He then sighed and said: ok, this is probably going to cost us more in the end, and let me go! All of my ideas about ticket inspectors changed. I think I may be in love.

Sussex campus was a bit dreary. I expected to be hit by a deep sense of belonging and emotional connection as I had on Friday night, but it wasn't like that. I did of course remember everything about it, I saw the ghosts of my past selves swerve past (metaphorically, I am NOT psychotic) and it felt sort of right. But without the entire emotinoal hoo-hah that I initally expected. Sussex is still, you know, Sussex. I couldn't find a wifi connection either, since I'm now officially a past student. Ouch! The rest of the day was spent chatting to friends in and around Falmer bar. I tried to read some Beckett but I couldn't get through it. I just wasn't in the mood that I thought I would be. And so many of my friends from back then had, of course, already left. The Sussex I was at in 2010-2011 didn't return to me, as I vainly expected it to. Not to say it wasn't worth it. Going back tomorrow.

P.S. Oh, balls! I forgot about the Zombies! On Saturday, I spent most of the day in a Starbucks in the centre of Brighton, trying to read and failing. What surprised me in particular was that, after a while, people in zombie outfits started to walk past. There were people just walking with bits of their faces hanging off in a theatrical fashion, there were others who were more into it, shuffling in and out of view. One guy really went for it and started to attack the front window to get to girls who were sitting on the other side. But my favourite has to be the zombie in the banana suit. Gave a whole new meaning to compost. Amazing. Gotta love Brighton.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

31st August 2012: Fin de la Fringe


First of all, yes I am writing this during the post-fringe Back-In-Holland emotional crash that always accompanies leaving the Edinburgh Fringe (and my leaving Britain in general). So it's a couple of days out of date. But you're just going to have to deal with that. Currently, I'm feeling slightly better than I did yesterday and the day before. It may be a Holland thing, but it tends to happen. I currently feel a bit better. So much better, even, that I wrote this mutha. Don't take it in all at once.

23rd August
I cut my teching of Paco's show short to watch The Lumberjacks perform at the Assembly Rooms with my friend mister Alexander Bennett (great stand-up and character actor). I was there in time. Especially since there was a slightly scary lady at the Counting House I had no interest in dealing with any further, so I skedaddled. The Lumberjacks' performance (for which I had tickets due to underhand comp-dealing with one of the three Canadians performing after Brendon Burns's show) was however slightly ruined for me, having to sit next to the loudest person in the world. It was actually not that she was loud per se, but it was something in the amplitude of her laugh that was utterly painful for me to sit next to. I was in agony, shielding myself as well as I could from the producer of those sounds. Myself and Alexander did enjoy the night (including a surprise appearance from Tony Law who was wonderfully devisive in the big room he found himself in) as much as we could physically stand. After the show, I was near tears, some people approached Alexander and me, jocularly asking whether I was allright, with the smug superiority of random sitting arrangements. I might have tinnitus now. At least I know who to sue if I do. Alexander and I said our goodbyes and I made my way back home.

24th August
I had an early appointment with my friend Jane, for breakfast at the Edinburgh Larder and the final interview for the podcast. Unfortunately, I slept straight through our 10 AM meet-up and awoke only when she phoned me to check whether I was still alive. I was, so I rushed a shower and ran down to Blackfriar's Street. There wasn't enough time to do the interview then, for she had got us tickets to see Tam o' Shanter, the Robert Burns musical 'Extravaganza'. I'd met one of the actors in the show in the queue for Daniel Kitson several days previously and noted my interest to Jane. She then bought us two tickets at Assembly at the Mound (so many Assemblies this Fringe! And I never even went to George Square, other than to tut at the gaudiness of it all). Back on topic: Tam o' Shanter was the first musical I've enjoyed in ages. Scratch that, this was the first musical I think I've ever enjoyed. Even though all of it was in Scots, about a poet's works I know next to nothing about, concerning things I have scant knowledge of at the best of times (including the mess that was the Jacobite rebellion and issues of Scottish identity I still have to explore more deeply), I really enjoyed it. The acting was closer to comedy acting than Musical theatre, making it a less top-heavy experience, with some brilliant singing and a great sense of occasion and fun (and that at noon! At the Edinburgh Fringe!).
After that show, Jane and myself recorded the final interview for FringeReview to publicise her show Arguments and Nosebleeds on the steps of the University of Edinburgh Divinity offices. I argued that Divinity was a priori useless and stupid, so no-one in their right mind would care if we'd block the door for a bit. It was a fun interview, including some point blank poetry from Jane, which was brilliantly sporting of her. I saw a tiny flicker of 'I should take you round the back and shoot you for this' in her eyes. Completely deserved, naturally. But she did very well. Listen to episode 8 and you'll find out for yourself!

25th August
The first of two early rises for me, I had to be out, up and running by 10 to get to Paco's ridiculously scheduled 11AM extra performances of his show at the Counting House. I wasn't even that late, though only 13 people showed up, which enabled Paco to do his show without amplification. That meant I could go into the audience and have a bit of a lie down. I've been hit with the curse of the techie in that I could probably perform his show about being German easily myself, with the one caveat that I'm actually not German. Probably not a good idea. I won't, I won't. Don't worry.
After that, I'd got a ticket for an extra show David o'Doherty was doing at Pleasance One. I'd been trying to see him for 3 years without success. This time I did get in, and I loved it. The show was mainly about the breakup of a relationship and his subsequent breakdown into Domino's Pizza and playing Frisbee Dog on his own, in the middle of the night, in his pants. He surprised me, by often sailing close to the sadness that may not have been as 'done and dealt with' as Felicity Ward told me hers had been for her show The Hedgehog Dilemma. O'Doherty was still supremely funny, especially when he was not playing his tiny Yamaha keyboard, but doing stand-up in the technically speaking more mainstream version of 'standing up holding a microphone in one of your hands'.
I had my first gig in a while today, a spot at Davy Mitchell's Stand-Up Sit-Down gig at Anderson's, in the New Town. I had prepared and everything. I'd sat in a Costa for a number of hours to calm my nerves with what was only my second Cinnamon Latte of the Fringe.
The gig itself went OK, seeing as I had to go on early to still make it to Paco's evening show. There were some titters here and there from the small audience, but nothing more. I probably was too rushed and didn't really make a connection to the audience. Then I had to leave, with Davy saying he looked forward to seeing me again tomorrow. I did get my new facebook profile picture taken then. So not all for nought. However, I had no time to revert the adrenaline of being on stage in front of some people who didn't really care that I was there- into anything helpful, so I just ran my face off until halfway up the Grassmarket, where I realised that I'd have at least another 15 minutes until I had to be at The Counting House. The staff there were more vigilant than I'd ever seen them, so I felt I couldn't really do my job, but afterwards realised I'd probably had been hyperactive myself, so didn't make such a cool and collected impression on them as I thought I'd had.

26th August
The second early morning proved more winning, since we had more than double the audience of yesterday's morning gig. Boom! Which was good. It was a nice atmosphere and -again- a lovely gig.
I teched Arguments and Nosebleeds today, once more since I had done exactly that 5 times at last year's fringe and twice at the fringe the year before. The Gothic Room in the Free Sisters was pretty full, especially for a midday poetry gig. I say teched, I just fiddled about with the lights and mic for a bit until Robin said it was fine. The show itself was lots of fun, Jane was very good, and so was Chris (who was closing after their first special guest had pulled out). Cat, the special guest they found on the trot was actually on her way back to London, nearly on a train when Jane and Chris found her and got her to guest on their show. I filmed her Neil Armstrong poem, and also the rest of her set- on her phone. So the wonky camera-work you're seeing, that's my handiwork right there.
I thought I'd have a bit more time to myself today, before my second gig, I didn't. I ran to Anderson's and again, hid in the corridor. The book I was reading at the time was The Unbearable Lightness of Being. This would of course never defend me from endless accusations of my infinite ponciness.
Jane was at this gig, but two thirds of yesterday's audience. I could only really step off of the small stage and just chat to the individual audience members, which I learned is really the only thing you can do in that situation. I also seem to have ended up on the table that an elderly couple were sitting behind, singing 'Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus' with the table nearly tipping over. That was a good gig.
Paco's final show was massively full, as always. It was so much fun working for him for a month. It gave an impetus to my day and I'd learned a lot from him. That was something I didn't tell him that night, because straight after the show, Jane and I had some lovely dinner at the Bistro opposite the Counting House.

27th August
My first actual day off in a very busy Festival month started with me sleeping like a beast, for 13 hours. This was undeniably a very enjoyable part of the day.
I saw Simon Munnery for the second year in a row, doing his show Fylm-Makker with the lovely Lizzy Mace, off of Mace and Burton (known to everyone who's listening to the podcast). I'd seen comedians working with ST video before, notably Kommil Foo in a very early stage of their show Wolf, but Munnery was way better. Non-stop funny, the best I think he's been since the days of The League Against Tedium. The 101ers song from last year also made an appearance, but now I could actually understand the lyrics (always important in comedy songs).
The second show I saw today was Sammy J and Randy's The Inheritance, which was to the same amazing standard as last year's Rickett's Lane. And I should know, they used one of my quotes in the Brett Vincent flyer-booklet-thing (not on the poster, unfortunately. But still, hey? Dare to dream). I could be a reviewer if I wanted to... Second thought no, thank you.
I then had a lovely pizza with Paco down the Canon's Gait, a final get-together with the One-Eyed-Men in their flat in the West End and I had my first proper gander around Brook's Bar at the Pleasance Dome. It was mostly press people, but I did meet some friends I hadn't seen for a while, like Joe Wells (who seems to be doing very well for himself. Go him! … Nope, no vestigal jealousy this time) and had a chat with them. I didn't stay long, because I'm a twat after 11.30 and have to go to bed like a child or an old man. Something between the two but still childish and smelly.

28th August
The Fringe seemed to be pretty much over today. So I was happy to lounge about for a bit, do some cleaning in the flat and then leave for my gig at the Stand in Glasgow. A few days previously, I'd wandered into the Stand offices in Edinburgh and told them I was leaving the country, so I was curious whether they'd start doing their new act night again? I was told that they did, but in Edinburgh not until the next Monday. But they did have a reserves list for Newcastle on Wednesday and Glasgow on Tuesday. I opted for the Glasgow one, because of cheaper train tickets Off Peak Return. And whaddaya know, on Sunday I was phoned with the message that someone had pulled out and that I could do 10 at the Glasgow Stand! Booyah!
This required some train travel. I, of course, was offensively early and had all the time in the world to reacquaint myself with the wonderful notion of British based rail travel. The sights, the smells, the somehow inescapable sense of melancholy that seeps through every train station in Britain (with the exception of the big ones in London like Victoria, King's Cross and Euston). When living in Brighton, I always loved getting on the train to gigs (almost as much as I loved coming back from gigs, triumphant). The view would almost always be beautiful in some way. At least there'd be something to look at, which is more than you can say about any train journey at all in Holland, which is just plain empty. I was charmed by the station names being in Gaelich as well as English as we trotted through the Borders.
As I got to Glasgow Central, Jane was there to meet me, and we walked up Sauchiehall St, as we'd done more than a year previously, down to the Stand. The room was sold out, which was more than I'd bargained for. 300 people in a small room (I was lucky to get Jane in) just for some new acts or older acts doing new stuff. I was to do 10. I was nervous as fuck. The compère seemed very chilled out though: 'You'd have to be fucking shite to die in this room, they're just a lovely crowd.' At those moments, I become convinced of my innate shite-ness. I was to close the first half. Three guys went on before me, one very brave soul doing his first ever gig. I congratulated him, after which, for no apparent reason, the tension left my shoulders. I could breathe normally again. I was in gig-mode. No need for all the physical and vocal warm-ups that made me look like a twat in the green room. I was called on, did about 9½ in which I pretty much improvised my new first 2 minutes to every single show I'm doing in Scotland or Ireland ever again, did some very niche, literary stand-up about death and sex, took out Dr. Johnson, said 'It's Dr. Johnson', got no reaction, shrugged, put Dr. Johnson back into my bag and got a laugh, only realising the penile pun half an hour after my gig was over. Everything worked, I got off sparkling. One of the best gigs I've ever done in the best room I've ever done one in. Amazing. Very proud and very grateful to the Stand for allowing me this brilliant end to my month in Scotland. After the two girls I'd met up with in the station who'd been at my gig had left (no funny business there) I sat back, and just realised how happy I was with the job I was doing, and realised that I'd just had to stick with it, until either I broke it or it broke me. In short, me and stand-up are definitely In a Relationship. Good times.

29th August
After some cleaning, I saw off James and Luke to their train ride back to London (I somehow missed a lot of the others due to being asleep or just not running into them). I climbed Arthur's Seat today as well, after rain showers seemed to make it pretty much impossible for most of the day. Also, I made some pretty spicy pasta about which I have a story to tell (come to my gig on September 12th to hear).

30th August
I packed (again), repacked until I was absolutely sure I could fit in all the books I'd bought up here into my bag so I would only have hand baggage. I waited in Starbucks for a few hours, reading, drinking coffee and retrying their strawberry/cream frappuchinno myself and Josh had enjoyed two weeks previously (how time flies). I met up with Alice from Witness Theatre (know your podcasts, guys) before I'd took the bus to the airport. Which pretty much concludes my blog-series about Edinburgh 2012. I'd like to thank Zoe Fell, James Hamilton, Jess Duxbury, Jane Overton, Erhard Hübener, Diane Fitton, Davy Mitchell, The Stand, Paul Levy, All of Casual Violence, The One-Eyed Men, Alexander Bennett, Josh Crisp, Jamie Hunt, Lana Harper and all of the people we interviewed/whose shows I saw or came to see me. Keep your eyes peeled for more written work of mine or gigs near you.




Thursday, 23 August 2012

Thursday 23rd August 2012: Whooosh! Big Ol' Blog!

Woosh is the sound of deadlines flashing by that Douglas Adams famously liked so much. For me it kind of represents this fringe. As much as I'd like to chill out and have a nice time, there's always so many things to dive into, and come out sparkling with joy and laced with sweat. The podcasts have proven to be nearly as much fun as actual gigs, I've seen some top of the range comedy (including The Boy With Tape On His Face last night. Amazing. The only thing that'll make me a four year old, losing all self-consciousness. Major likey) and I'm falling in love with stand-up again. Only this time in a healthy way. Lovely stand-up (kissey sound. Stand-up's asleep next to me on the sofa. I don't dare wake him up. But I'll make him tea. That'll be enjoyable).

The podcast interviews I did yesterday were nicely distinct, in that one was probably the most serious one of them all and the other one of the silliest. I look forward to what Zoe has to say about the Ellis and Rose one. But I did have my first Cinnamon Latte of the run. Which was pretty much unfathomably nice.

I was talking last night to my friend Alexander Bennett, who is a great comedian and chararcter actor about previous Edinburghs, mutual friends and all-out idiocy. One of the silliest moments was when we were both doing Brendon Burns impressions and a guy with an odd looking mouth asked us whether we'd like some MDMA. We were fine, thanks. On enough drugs ourselves to begin with. And with ourselves, I mean me.

Now, I'm quickly going to go through all the shows I've seen in the past few days. I've entered the Allen Wright competition for Fringe-based writers and so I may well have a crack at doing some serious talkies about stuff.

- Monkeytoast
My friend Jamie was in town for a flash visit to the Edinburgh Fringe. I had been successful in persuading him to go and see Storytellers Club at the Pleasance Courtyard. We bought our tickets and joined the queue. Only after about 5 minutes and a lady having to tell us that Sunday is not the same as Thursday, we had to go back, tails between our legs (ok, mainly mine, because I'd been responsible for this cock-up) and trade in our tickets. Instead, we went to see MonkeytoastUK at the Dome. This made up for the mess-up before. David Shore is a good interviewer, the guests (Nick Helm, Jay Foreman and one of the writers of Coalition, I think his name is Richard Goode) were tired but amusing but the improv in between the interviews was stellar. I quite like the fact that, like in America, stand-ups are allowed to be doing different things as well as their act. Idil Sukan stole the show for me, often contorting her face to increasingly implausible heights of funny, with Rob Broderick and Richard Soames a close second.

- Bridget Christie - War Donkey
My friend Chris texted me about coming to see the show whilst I was still asleep. There's nothing like that for a wake-up call. The show is on in the newly refurbished Assembly Rooms (where I had just a little snuggle in a corner for a bit. Oh my god those carpets!) and contains Christie in several different costumes and increasingly angry at misogyny. Genuis. And I now have a full set of Christie badges. How did I do that? Come and see the show and be quietly embarrassed. After that, me and Chris had quite a serious conversation about liberal feminism. That's the kind of show this is.

- Josie Long - Romance and Adventure
I'd seen Josie do her 2010 turnaround show Be Honourable where she for the first time shifted towards political comedy. Having missed her last show, I was curious to see whether she could actually do a show about things she liked and not have her righteous anger at everything the current British government represents come in and mess up things. Well, it did. But this breakdown show (as in: she had a life-based breakdown, see Felicity Ward, episode 4), contained positive advice, great polemic and a supportive way to live through the constant horribleness of being represented by people you despise. I have a similar thing about absolutely despising Dutch politics, and being ashamed about why our government for nearly two years (TWO YEARS!) had a crypto-fascist party as a support. In October, when I was going through my lovely breakdown, Occupy Amsterdam had just started and I tweeted Josie about RT-ing a positive note about how lovely Occupy Amsterdam really was. She did, and the message got through. I thanked her for that after the show. She's a great human being on top of being a great comic.

- Brendon Burns - Home Stretch Baby
I'd seen Brendon for the first time in July 2009, dying on his arse in Amsterdam. I was one of two people falling apart with laughter in an otherwise entirely quiet room. I saw him again this year in the Pleasance Dome and couldn't contain myself. I went for it and told him the Dutch are c**** and he was amazing. He told me to come to his show, because the ending was mainly about the Dutch. I saw him on a quiet night and was baffled by his powerful presence. He rarely shouted or even raise his voice, but was as unforgettable and impressive as before. After the show, I bought his book whilst being filmed by (awesome comic) Craig Campbell who has awesome slippers. I told him the story about his death in 2009. That'll probably end up as a dvd extra somewhere.

- Daniel Kitson @ the Traverse - As Per 1:52 PM On The 30th Of April 2012, This Show Has No Title
Two years ago, I saw Kitson at the Traverse performing It's Always Right Now Until It's Later, and wept like a baby. For one, I'd never seen anything (ANYTHING!) that good, so I doubted my ability to ever reach a stage that I could do something like it. This show is different. It's Kitson doing Pirandello, writing about the writing process, about his personal life and about two people, one old, one young, who come together over stories told and untold. The three narratives are beautifully interwoven and the shifts of focus are astounding in intensity. He is -at times- incredibly funny, but more clever than heartstring-tugging, than his 2010 masterpiece. In Kitson terms, this is more a Weltanschauung than a C90. Kitson sits at a table, in cold fluorescent light, reading out the script, including all stage directions. This requires a lot from the audience, not least in terms of attention, because a beautiful turn of phrase will just fly away into the aether if you're not careful. It's heady stuff, but beautifully pitched. After the show, my friend James Hamilton just received a text that he'd been nominated for a Malcolm Hardee award. Rejoice!

- Nick Helm - This Means War
I'm a big fan of Nick Helm, seeing him twice in Brighton, where he 'kicked it in the dick' big time. This show holds a middle between an AC/DC gig and Tim Key's Masterslut but with songs instead of poetry. Although there are a few poems here and there. The band is a brilliant addition to the force of nature that is Nick Helm. The only downside is that the songs are not always funny enough to last the night. They might be well written and as melodious as is possible with the raw power that has become Helm's trademark, but just not as laugh-out-loud funny as his older songs. The audience that day was slightly reticent, not to their credit. It meant that Helm looked vaguely unfocussed at times and tried to address the lower energy in the room than usual. So a good four star instead of the five star I was expecting. Which is a shame, really. Better next year.

- Daniel Kitson @ the Stand - Where Once Was Wonder
I queued for this for more than two hours. Let me repeat that. I queued for this for more than two hours, outside of the Stand One, in decreasing temperatures. I was very chuffed that it didn't rain, so I read a book for a bit and in the end bought a ticket from a man whose friend wasn't coming. 3 pounds more than I'd otherwise have paid, being 3rd in the queue. But that didn't matter. It was so worth it. It was the most exciting, powerful, intelligent piece of stand-up comedy I've ever been proud to witness. Just go and see it

- Tony Law - Maximum Noonsense
I had to work quite hard to laugh at Tony Law's fantastic whimsical brainjolts of comedy. Not because ot wasn't funny, but because Kitson ended at 2 'o clock in the morning and I couldn't really sleep after that, due to my mind being blown. Although after about five minutes of working hard, I decided to have breakfast in the lovely deli place in the Arcade on North Bridge, after which laughter came more easily.
[note to all performers: laughing is hard work. Respect audience members if they do so. It's not easy, especially on an empty stomach]. The final song is amazing and Law's most powerful weapon (his voice) was in full flow this early in the day. Absolutely five stars. The breakfast was also dead good.

- Ellis and Rose - Failing to Pay Off Their Student Loans
Ellis and Rose only had 6 people in, including myself, in the Southsider bar. But it did nothing to diminish their performance. Think of Penn and Teller without the magic, but with physical comedy and lots of infighting. Rich Rose narrates with increasing incredulity their wilfully shambolic show while Gareth Ellis shifts from miming illustratively to having 3 full breakdowns on stage. There is a lot of potential here, the double act narrative is interestingly handled, but this show, more than anything, makes one curious about next year's. Plus Gareth's balls were very near my face during an explanatory dance sequence. I don't know whether that's a positive or a negative. Possibly both.

- Made for Each Other
Made for Each Other is an American style multi-character dramatic monologue. This style of performance doesn't usually travel, but that is exactly what writer Monica Bauer and actor John Fico have done. It's about many things, including Gay Marriage, death, afterlife and Alzheimer's disease. Go and see it while it's still on. Fico is a discovery.

- The Boy With Tape On His Face - More Tape
I cannot stress enough how much I love this show. As said in the title, it is more of the same, done phenomenally well. The Boy is the only act that makes me lose self-consciousness and revert to being four years old, shouting, ooh-ing, aah-ing and more vowels. He makes the Pleasance Grand feel intimate. Best show so far apart from Kitson.

Also, Felicity Ward missed out on a Foster's Nomination. In my view, entirely unjustified. There. Deal with that Foster's (e.g. Nica Burns who actually was there on the night I went to see Felicity. She should have known better)! Still congratulations to Ben Target, Josie Long, James Acaster and Pappy's (I haven't really spoken to any of the others, although my congratulations obviously extend to them also). Listen to myself and Ben Target pretending to run up Arthur's Seat for no other reason than to make Zoe giggle on Podcast number 5. The only relationship I have with David Trent is him pretending to wank over me in a room above the Caroline of Brunswick pub when I still lived in Brighton. I've apparently got a very wankable face. This is distressing.

Speaking of the Craic (and tenuous wanky connections), I'm planning to do A TOUR OF IRELAND in June, couch surfing and doing lots and lots of gigs. If you're in Ireland and you want to put up with me being on your sofa for a bit and/or you'd like me to do a gig at your night, then please get in contact through the obvious media (twitter/facebook).

Also, I'm doing two gigs, one on Saturday, one on Sunday, both at 5:30 at Anderson's, 161 Lothian Road. I'll be on early, because I'm doing Paco's shows straight after those. Come and see how I've grown/lost weight. I tried on pants that nearly didn't fit me 5 months ago. I've got room for another person in there now. KABOOYAH!

Don't forget to download our amazing podcast! Yesterday I had Monica Bauer and John Fico and Gareth Ellis and Rich Rose. That'll be online soon. Only 2 to go! And one of those is about Poetry! Home Stretch Baby!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


That's where you'll find 'em.


More news later.

In the past few days, I have seen Bridget Christie, Josie Long, Brendon Burns (interspersed by walking LOADS around Edinburgh and possibly getting glue poisoning), Daniel Kitson (TWICE!) and Nick Helm. I feel privileged to be in this great place. Also, follow @zoefell on twitter. Because she's like really good at everything.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Very quick post to let you know the next podcast is here!

YES IT IS! Please listen, download, share, whatever you do. x

Starring Fronteiras Theatre Lab and The Silky Pair.

Friday, 17 August 2012

17th August 2012: Busy

This Fringe, for me, has been about reducing stressful situations. But last night and the night before were pretty late, and at the Free Sisters. I haven't been clubbing for more than 10 months, (I'm pretty sure the last time was in November). Now I have nothing against the Free Sisters, but after 10 'o clock, it scares the living daylights out of me. For the last two days, I had to spend the hours between 12 and 1.30 at exactly that location. On Wednesday, I'd just come back from doing an interview with the genuis Felicity Ward, and I had only 3 minutes to make it back from Bristo square to the Three Sisters on Cowgate. I made it. Usain Bolt eat your heart out.

The interview with Felicity was lovely, open-hearted and long. Both of us sat on the floor of the Dairy Room at the Udderbelly, really getting into the conversation. I was a bit shocked when I looked at the timer-thingy on the microphone for the first time, which was at that point saying that 50 minutes had passed. Talk about losing track of time! It was the most fun I've had interviewing anyone. I'd like to take a moment to give two very arrogant fingers to Fontys Tilburg where I spent two whole weeks doing a journalism course at age 18. Still very happy I quit before it got worse.

On the subject of podcasts: Zoe's been recuperating from a very intense couple of days, so you'll hear from Felicity, The Silky Pair, Horse and Louis and others before long I promise.

Basically, apart from sleeping well into the day, I'm pretty much doing loads and loads of things every day. Which is how it should be, I suppose.

Also, the article I wrote a couple of days ago is now on Chortle. See if you agree with me. Or not. Would love to hear from you regardless. It makes a hell of a lot more sense than this blogpost.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

15th August 2012: So Funny She Fainted

Yesterday was a bit of a weird one. It seems that A Five Step Guide To Being German might become too successful for its own good. There were more people in than ever before, it was mental trying to fit everyone in. Therefore: chaos. I feel guilty asking people to sit in the aisle rather than leave to come back another day, because the fan (that I always turn off before the gig but the audience always turn on again) didn't really work with all those people in front of it.

The show did go really well, but was a bit low on laughs, due to the restricted amount of oxygen available in the room, I expect. It took us 2 songs to get everybody out again. But as the auditorium emptied itself of people, there were a couple of girls sitting at the back, around another girl. She had tried to get up but then only saw black in front of her eyes and dropped off. Dehydration and overheating, we quickly diagnosed. Luckily, one of her friends present was a trainee doctor, so at least that was taken care off. When she could stand a bit and had drunk a bit of water, we had to carry her down 4 flights of stairs, and onto a chair and a stool on the pavement. There we had ice to cool her head and wrists and get her body temperature back to normal. In the end, Paco paid for her cab fare, he's a gent.

I was quite shaken by the whole experience, so I went home, had some Indian food and then was quite nervous before the gig in a way that I hadn't been for ages. So I just did some warm-up exercises. Myself and my friend Ben had a little chat about entrance music. He thought I should have Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. Personally, I'd prefer this one: PJ Harvey's This is Love. That'd be awesome.

After Dan's set, I bounded onto the stage and after 15 minutes I left. The main growth area that's been caused by the medication is my ability to chill out on stage, go with ideas and improvise. I got so much laughs from improvised bits tonight. A number of friends were there to support me, which was great. Including Jona, who'd never seen me do a gig before. I'm proud I'm now no longer in a place where my entire set is shite, so I can relax and do a lot of things that work, and then get to play around. The clowning element is something I'm really going to look into in the coming year. Still, a pity I couldn't do my new character (who's lines are now on two Tesco's receipts. But he will come out before long. I assure you).

I basically went home after the gig and felt a bit miserable. Mainly because of the girl at Paco's gig. We need to do something about that, pronto, or more people will faint. Or worse. So I felt a bit weird, running down the royal mile. I read for about an hour and listened to music. I'm really getting back into Jacques Brel, who was ruined for me by drama school for years and years. I've been thinking about his performativity, physicality and especially the way he uses his voice and how I can take some of those concepts into stand-up. I also had a bit of a cry when listening to Les Désespérées. Then I think I must have blacked out.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

14th August 2012 - Gigging! We're on a Bus Mothaf***az Don't You Ever Forget

Sometimes gigs just happen at the Edinburgh Fringe. I had planned to take most of the day off, to chill, read and advertise the podcast on the manifold of online barfing cups you can advertise a podcast on. So that's what I did for most of the day. I also wrote an article for the correspondents section on Chortle, which I shall post here if it doesn't get published by Steve Bennett.

After that, I went to see my friend Diane do her 1 hour split bill on the bus, at the Free Sisters. For people not acquainted with the Free Sisters, it's dickmagnet The Three Sisters but with lots of free comedy. Hence the clever name change. I was allowed to do 8 minutes at the end of the show by Diane and Joe. The gig was rowdy, fun and physically interesting in that due to my height, I could never really stand up properly. So I thought I'd do the gig on the stairs, one step down from the audience. Bad move. I felt like I wasn't communicating so much as shouting to the people on the bus, purely by grace of being one step lower down than they were. I then sort of clung on to the side of the stairs and continued the gig. The audience had been rowdy at the start but was completely going for it, listening intently. It's pretty cool when that happens.

Diane is a teacher, and we'd had several conversations about performing teaching. It's about asserting authority in different ways in different environments. Stand-up, although not as openly, seems to me to be similar to teaching. An audience's intelligence, as Kitson put it, is in inverse proportion to its size. That is true, but it also seems to me to have something to do with what being an audience is all about. Yes, you receive information, you process that, and sometimes there are semantic shifts or narrative doubles and you shift the mental image (because most people will always think in images) and in the gap between those comedy might occur.

The gig was lovely, although the bus was not the greatest venue I've ever played. The windows on the left were all see-through (i.e. no-one had thought to blind them) so the daylight was streaming in. That will make it more difficult to focus for act and audience alike. After that, myself, Diane and Joe had a lovely meal from what we made doing the gig. That's always a proud moment.

When I got home, myself and James Hamilton had a good 4 hour natter about life, the fringe and everything. There was fruit juice and crisps. Party 'o clock. One of the main topics is this year's anxiety about the fringe as an institution overheating. Lots of people are concerned about low audience numbers, and I am interested to see how many agencies will pull out of next year's fringe (if any will). Nobody seems to be quite sure where all the people have gone (apart from A 5 Step Guide to Being German, which I'll be playing techie at in about 3 hours).

Personally, I feel this is academic. I know that I'd love to do a split bill next year, since I do feel that it'll improve me as a stand-up. And it's just too much fun. Even if there's only 3 people in, that's still more than none (in Amsterdam...). Being on medication also helped deal with my main problem in the year I lived in England. I am now far less nervous and far more relaxed than ever. This really helps with projection and audiences making sense of the sometimes odd things I like doing with stand-up.

Tonight, I'm doing 20 minutes at the Free Sisters, Maggie's Front Room from 22:10. It'll be great, I promise. I'd love to see some of you (all of you, really) there.



P.S. Podcast-wise, we're going strong. Zoe will be editing like crazy to get them all out. We've now got a lovely website to put all of the interviews on. It's got my face on it and everything, so click on the little star and favorite it (if that's a sentence).

Monday, 13 August 2012

PODCAST Episode 2 - Also Some Edinburgh Stories

Here it is. Share it and listen to it.

Also, I'm quite tired, having been turned away from the Just the Tonic party last night, I felt quite despondent. So I self-harmed with KFC. I had a large fries and a Healthy Option wrap. Which at the time made me feel like more of a twat than is basically necessary. Because if you self-harm with food, you at least take a bucket of chicken. But I had the healthy option. Twat. Then I decided to eat the entirity of a packet of Hobnobs. This is how I deal with defeat.

When starting on my self-pitying meal deal, the great James Hamilton of Casual Violence renown recognised what was going on and immediately laughed in my face. This is an unusual form of fellow-feeling but oddly, it made me feel a whole lot better. I'm a sucker for punishment. After a while my friend Diane phoned me, and told me I shouldn't feel like such a dick about it. That helped.

Today is again a day off for me, no 5 Step Guide to Being German, which is manic every day. I've met the oddest people, including German comedy deity Ingolf Lück. No, me neither. But still v happy about that. Also, for most of the day I was coasting on the joy that the gig on Saturday had given me. My next appearances may be at the storytelling festival on the 15th where I will talk about my breakdown using jokes. I may also do Comedy Car Crash if I feel like I need more punishment.

Also, I've been getting known on the Royal Mile and environs as 'That twat in the hoodie who runs everywhere'. This is true. I love running around Edinburgh. Yesterday, I was running from St Andrews Square, near the RBS HQ (evil corporation I used to work for in 2008. For my sins), to Princess St. Suddenly, a 9 year old boy (or something. I didn't frisk him for his ID) started running alongside me. We sprinted for about 100 metres, going pretty much the same speed, until my way was blocked by an old lady, so I congratulated the small boy on his victory. But still, I'm 6 foot 4. I have way more wind resistance. So I still win. Bad luck 9 year old boy! Bad luck!

So even though I had that thing happen to me last night, on the whole, I'm feeling pretty good about myself. That's a change. Let me read now. xxx


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Chuffed Like A Train In A Choo-Choo Chuffing Railway Station - 12th August 2012

I did a gig yesterday. It was wonderful.

Now that could mean quite a number of things, either I did well (I did) or the ambiance was great (it was) or the crowd was large (50 people on a Saturday night at the Free Sisters, or what is otherwise known as Cunt Central) or the other comedians were brilliant (the amazing Dan McKee and my close friend Paco Erhard were). It was all of those things.

I got to do most of the jokes I did last year again. God I had missed them. Really enjoyed doing Zizek to 50 people who didn't know what in the name of balls I was talking about (apart from one girl who advised me to pluck my hoodie a bit more. Brilliant). The new material I did was a bit hit-and-miss, but the hit rate surprised even me. It was just so much fun. But the main feature was that I, now on lots of medication, can still enjoy stand-up. It was really interesting to talk about these things honestly and jocularly. There were a couple of faces in the crowd that went a bit empathetic during the gig. There was one lady in the third row who looked a bit concerned for my sanity, but laughed uproariously at the jokes I could make about my condition and some of the crap I've been going through for the past year.

When I got off-stage, I was buzzing. Not the highly agitated buzz of 2 years ago, but a buzz of contentment. To use quite a wonky analogy, I got to empty my painful comedy blue balls. And it worked. I'm now far more secure in my ability to continue doing stand-up. If you've got a gig somewhere that needs a spot, I'm your man.

I even got a share of the bucket; precisely 195 pennies. Which is going to buy me an americano at the Elephant and Bagels after I've finished this blog. Which is now. By-ee.



P.S. According to Zoe, Episode One starring Doug Segal and Witness Theatre should be out TODAY! HURRAY!

Saturday, 11 August 2012


Yes people. It's here. Episode 0 of the FringeReview New Talent Podcast. Please, do all you can to spread it around, but don't forget to listen to it. We'll be putting out new episodes as the fringe goes on. Please support us!

This is the link:



P.S. I've got a gig tonight. Well nervous.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Quick Explanatory Post


For anyone who just happened upon this blog, or followed the link in this article:

I'm using this blog mainly as a vehicle for ideas. It contains my experiences of studying abroad for a year in 2010-2011 and my attempts at stand-up during that time. Otherwise, there's short stories, there might be poetry (heaven forbid) and some journalism might appear.

Hope you enjoy it and get in touch if you do. I will be doing the FringeReview New Talent Podcast during the Edinburgh Fringe festival and I'm also without any open spots as yet. So give me a shout on those.



Saturday, 14 July 2012

Saturday 14th July 2012: Sorry + Is Stand-up Dying?

Well, that was a bit of a disappointment. The gig ended up being pulled, because there were exactly 0 (zero) audience members present. So the emotional build-up was- as ever- for nought. It is quite difficult to do gigs in Amsterdam anyway, because of this apparent dearth of audience caring for comedy. It's different to what I hear is going on in London, and I got the beginning of last year. There are just too many open spots. Too many losers, like me, who want to see their name in lights. And it may well be that it's just going to be too difficult to have a career as a stand-up, precisely because -as Dutch uncles tell you every day- 'everyone's a fucking comedian'. It may just be the case that, like in Holland in the mid-nineties to mid-noughties, there was an interest in comedy, which will just wax and wane. Friends of mine who work the Cabaret (a theatrical form of stand-up, with clip-on mics and satirical songs- not like burlesque in any way) circuit in Holland talk about the difficulty of getting up and running. Once a career has got going, and you've been on the television in the past, you've got a career. But, like one friend who recently won one of the leading Cabaret competitions, it's never certain that you'll even get booked e.g. get the chance to start your career. Because the bookers are theatres, they'll only book the big names, to get a regular stream of bums on seats. 

The huge numbers of open spots currently trawling the capital and surroundings worry me for the very selfish reason of just not being able to slot in and have a sensible career progression as a stand-up. I want to get good, I want to play clubs both horrible and wonderful, and I want to do Edinburgh. But I'm worried that- due to nothing else than the biscuits being eaten and shout before I even got the chance to get near them- I will not be able to do stand-up anymore. The reason for that is that I'm deferring my MA at UCL for a year, in order to -you know-, get better. Especially since I won't be able to get my regular shot of stand-up, I should actually maybe consider learning to be a proper person. Some friends don't agree with my pessimistic view of the comedy circuit. They say quality will get you there, as long as you're prepared to put in the hours. But we all secretly know life doesn't work like that. You can try and try and still not get anywhere. Past a certain point, this has got nothing to do with quality. Of course if you're really shit, then of course. You're never going to go places. But it might just be that -like the Dutch theatre world- the U.K. comedy circuit is overheating and lots of acts who could have been brilliant will therefore fall by the wayside. Whether we should bemoan this, as I'm clearly doing now- is another matter entirely.

SO BASICALLY WHAT I WANTED TO SAY IS THIS: I will be putting poems and more short stories on here as well, as I'm writing those in addition to stand-up material that no-one might ever see because there are just too many acts and too few spots. If stand-up is really dying, I will be seeing that with my own eyes at this year's Edinburgh fringe. Will it be a last hurrah or a moan, curling up and dying? Or maybe I'm just wrong? Convince me here on the comments-bit. I will of course be writing about my Edinburgh experience. Through which media you'll get to know what I'm thinking- well, you'll just have to wait for that. In the meantime, love to all. xxx

P.S. I'm currently writing a thing about an open spot experience I'd had last year. The general idea that most people have is that most comedy open spots are in some way damaged or mentally ill. That is of course a cliché of the comedy open spot, which unfortunately happens to be exactly true. I saw one who fitted that bill perfectly, who in fact gave me a full-blown panic attack. In Portsmouth. But now, more than a year later, the realisation has dawned on me that I'm basically just as bad as the mentals, I'm writing about that person. It may turn up on here. It's now called: The Ocean Queen of Portsmouth. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Wednesday 4th July: Braininess and Comedy

Good news, I'm coming back to stand-up. Tonight will be my first gig since December 2011. I'll probably be rusty as fuck, but on the plus side, I've lost loads of weight, so I'll be more attractive. Pick and choose, people. It's going to be at the Comedy Theater in de Nes, so please come. Amsterdam crowds have a reputation of being apathetic to the point of inertia, so I need some good laughers to come round.

That's neither here nor there, though. What I'm really interested in is the physical aspect of stand-up comedy. Or rather, the physiological, psychosomatic aspect of going onto a stage and trying to get laughs. I have a theory about that. Last year, in April, I did a gig in Southampton with another comic who shall remain nameless (unless he really wishes to have himself 'outed' in this way), who said something quite interesting. His adrenaline rushes that he used to experience when on stage or just after were far less now than they were when he started out. I tried to explain something about your body getting used to the sheer amount of adrenaline being shot into your spinal cord and that causing a different reaction.

Now, I am more guilty than anyone I know for abusing the noble form of stand-up to my own wicked devices. When I lived in England, I basically did stand-up to keep sane. The rush I got from doing a good gig and killing basically heightened my self-confidence to a point that was almost live-able. I needed (NEEDED) to gig at least once every four days, or I would crash. And it would hurt. 

Now I'm working on other aspects of my life being functional, I probably won't experience the heights of stand-up that I used to. Tonight will be quite important for my continuation of comedic work. I will be doing new material and it will be a shitty open mic night (unless YOU'RE THERE!) but I will hopefully get a good response from it. What that response will be, I don't know. It'll have to be somewhere between utter euphoria (that's the one that made me give up drinking) or contentment (that's the one I'm going for). It's going to be interesting either way.

Also, the Higgs Boson has been found. Better figure out a joke about it to remain super ultra topical. Or not. 



P.S. More blogposts will come soon.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Short Story: Lemmings

Disclaimer: Not necessarily funny.

Tuesday 28th May 2012

David stood up.
Here's a list of things that I'm NOT expecting of you-”
Buh-” she'd wanted to interrupt, but wasn't given the time of day.
Ready? One, no sympathy. I have absolutely no need for fellow-feeling, whether it be yours towards me, or some old guy standing in the park, trousers round his ankles towards the kid he's just paid 20 quid so suck his old dangly balls.
Secondly,” he paused, checking her eyes to see whether they had drifted at the balls-bit, but when he found they hadn't yet, he felt he could do without the rhetorically cute repetition of the word, but since he was on a roll anyway, he decided to go for it, raised his chest and repeated, with a higher cadence this time: “Secondly, I don't want you to try and change my mind. You're not the most convincing person I've ever known. No, wait, no-no-no-no-no! Wait.” A breath. “Thirdly, no pity. There is no reason – well” he interrupted himself, sneaking a look at her to see whether she'd grasp the opportunity to interject, which she let fly. “I actually meant no love.”
A shattering pause. He tried to keep his voice steady, which he wasn't fully in control of anymore. “You've shown to me that this is perfectly possible, over a number of years- running nearly into double figures now- No Alice don't even try-”
But his refusal was empty. Alice sat, her dark brown hair cascading over her shoulders, focussing her eyes on a flowerpot in the middle distance and fixing her mind, trying to think very hard about egg cups. She'd always preferred them orange. She also thought about Nick. In her vicinity. Naked, the hairs on his chest and forearms bristling with excitement and the magnetism of her and of what they'd just been engaged in. His smell, the taste of the inside of his mouth, his sweat streaming in canals along the ridges of his spine as he thrusted into- “ALICE!”
Her reverie was broken by David, who appeared to be having one of his moments of misplaced grandeur again. That she could deal with. Him no more. Not for nine years. After all the- Not the- she-
Alice, I...” a broken David addressed her now. She could obviously see his grand oration failing miserably, so without sympathy, pity, love or even much interest she -having bored herself on the subject of the colour of egg cups- asked him the 10.000 dollar question.
So what IS your plan, David?”
He raised his shoulders, which had been forming the left side of the hypotenuse with the doormat and his feet in a Euclidian triangle, over-back, as if he were the base of anti-aircraft machinery, erect, very much like the ones you get in packs of plastic green toy soldier; catapulting unbidden truth in the direction of his girlfriend: “I'm going to do a bike ride.”

Alice spat out some biscuit crumbles over the kitchen table. “You what?”
Yeah,” he said, as he was building himself up again from that salvo. “I'm going to cycle, and I'm going to go end up in the mountains. And I'll live off the land.” Just then, he realised that he should have demanded that she would address him without ridicule, which was a late realisation of Homeric proportions. He was going to feel the full blast of her ridicule. He bit his lower lip and closed his eyes to narrow slits, as if he were trying to avoid salvos of archers firing from the back ranges of the front, all the while preparing his fragile ego for the Howitzer of mockery that Alice was about to deploy.

In the meantime, she cleared up the biscuit crumbs off the table and dropped them into the bin, before taking offensive position number 24: left arm akimbo, hips out, right foot over the other -toes uncurled and straight-, right arm leaning into the door frame, her head ever so slightly sideways. All he could do now was prepare for the assault. He knew there was no way he would be able to cope. No way.

She then began. A sigh. “Ok,” she looked at the tiles, at the floor, as far away from the man she used to love as she possibly could. “So! Cycling!” she tried, with the drag of feigned optimism in her voice. “Whereto exactly may I ask?”
That was it. He had been defeated. His great, heroic plan was noting more than dead shit in someone else's garden. He tried to suppress his tears. “Highlands. The Highlands.” he blurted out, surprising Alice, in that he still had some sort of faculty of speech, not to mention not having desintegrated before her very eyes.
There I will cycle to. All the way up to the mountain top. And then-” he raised his shoulders one last time. “I want to jump off. I want to jump off the highest mountaintop and fall. I want to fall and fall until nothing is left and my bicycle bell will be found by a fucking seven year old in fucking Dundee for all I care.”
As his lungs tried expanding outwards for air, they hit so many physical blockades that they eventually had to find some spare space in his neck which then expanded and retracted, making him look even stupider than the words he had just spoken. The term 'unattractive' would never carry the full significance of exactly how repulsive David then was.
Because Alice, I would die for you.”

Alice sat down, took a sip of tea and turned her thoughts to where Nick might leave his stuff as the main obstacle to their relationship had apparently gone the way of the lemming.

Alice I will.” He started to undress. A hideously unflattering lycra pair of shorts and bicycle shirt unveiled themselves. All of David's bodily flaws, faults and bumps (of which Alice could draw the Michelin maps blemish by idiotic useless blemish) were more visible to her than if he had stood naked in the kitchen before her.

She said: “I don't know what to say anymore. You denied me giving you love, despite all the arguments against and how you seem to have turned into a fat lemming in lycra. By the way, who's sponsoring you? Gregg's?”
David was as ever silent. Alice looked up at his face for the first time in five years. “So what you need from me is – forgive me if I get this incorrectly- some kind of blessing? Is that it? So you can chuck your sorry self off a mountaintop?”
She paused, feeling her anger rising, and looked at that man there, clad in lycra, 38 years old. Infertile, jobless, on lithium since October.
David, I'm telling you this as a friend. Ok? Go and, you know. Take a break. No. Listen to me David. Pack your things (he'd started to silently weep by this point) and go. Take these fucking things off first, you look ridiculous. No! Don't fucking look at me like that, I'm not taking you back.” She made an attempt to leave the room but felt she couldn't yet. “I deserve a life of my own too. I'm not just there to deal with your shit. I refuse. If it were, fucking if it even were washing a wannabe lemming's disgusting lycra shorts. I still would not. David I cannot deal with you any longer.” She inhaled with force now, but started her exhalation before she even commenced to form her words: “Now leave.”

So he did. David left Alice, who couldn't even bring herself to kiss him goodbye anymore as he boarded the train to Aberdeen. The highland streams were tainted that year. The water under the bridge coloured red at places. A stone in Pembrokeshire was now illegitimately used as advertising space for Gregg's the baker's. It took Alice a week to stop feeling guilty and two years to stop thinking about him every day. She never taught her and Nick's children how to cycle, which always puzzled Nick. He would have to forget about it too.