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!

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