Monday, 25 July 2011

Ta-ra Tara!

Rich and Yen
A friend and I had a joint birthday barbecue on Saturday and I didn't get home till about midday on Sunday. As soon as I got home it was time to go out again, to see some Edinburgh previews from Rich Fulcher and Michael Legge. I have seen both these shows before, but as Edinburgh approaches it's great to see them taking shape and getting very close to the final show.

Michael's show in particular has really progressed. It seems completely ready to go, and more importantly is very very funny indeed. Curse Sir Walter Raleigh is about his obsession with good manners as well as his obsession with the titular Sir Walter, who he learned about from his dad. Apparently Sir Walter was the only man that could hit a church's plastic drainpipe with a stone and when Michael, at 3, managed it, his dad told him how special he was. As well as being funny, it's also rather touching in places.

Rich Fulcher's Tiny Acts Of Rebellion has changed too, with the addition of his director to the show, who plays his simpering but rebellious assistant. Both Yen, Carl and Neal ended up on stage at one point, and Carl got one of the biggest laughs of the night describing crisps at the focus group as being sexually arousing and salty. 

Rich and Neal
After the show it was Tara and Carl's leaving drinks as they are heading across the water to Ireland. This part of the day lasted a lot longer than I expected, but it was great to see so many of my favourite people in the one place. Spent some time chatting with Michael, Rich, Tara, Carl, Yen, Neal, Simon (x2), Paul Litchfield, who was strangely obsessed with docking. Even Christian Reilly turned up and decided to also discuss docking.

In the morning I was in two minds whether to come to the gig or not as I was feeling so terrible. I had decided I would go, but only have one quick drink with Tara. Naturally that plan went wrong and 8 hours later I was still in the pub.

If you're going to Edinburgh this year I would make both Michael and Rich's shows ones to see. And to quote Michael, "if you don't come I will kill you in the penis"

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Angry Show & Jigsaw

I met up with Richard at The Albany, and we went downstairs, eventually to be joined by Bob, Laura, and Simon. We got downstairs fairly soon. Luckily we had beers as it turns out the Albany don't open their downstairs bar till the last minute which was rather annoying.

The first act were a double act. Well, they weren't and they were very keen to point that out. I imagine they are booking shows together to save costs in Edinburgh. Anyway, the guy was an impressionist and the girl did musical comedy. I have, unfortunately completely forgotten their names. Do people still do impressions these days? I guess they must do. Apart from a pretty good Michael McIntyre, a lot of his stuff was pretty dated. I mean, is Roy Walker cutting edge? I wasn't a huge fan. The female half of the non-double act came on and did some pretty funny songs. Not to the standard of Tara Flynn of course (If you're going to see one piece of musical comedy at The Fringe this year, make it Tara's!), and it ended with both of them together doing a song involving Jeremy Kyle, which was actually pretty funny.

Next up was an extremely long interval. It must have been close to half an hour as we waited for Jigsaw to arrive. Jigsaw are a 3 piece sketch act featuring Dan Antopolski, Tom Craine and Nat Luurtsema. They had another gig in Camden earlier and arrived very late. I wasn't aware of the other two, but have seen Dan a few times and he is always very very good. (You know, he did the "hedgehog" joke... )

The sketches were fast paced, with very few of them lasting more than 30 seconds or so, which meant the laughs were pretty continuous. So, Jigsaw are an act I would definitely advise any Fringe attendees to go to.

There was a short break (thankfully) and next we were shown a film by The Segue Sisters. Well, I didn't really get it. 3 women, singing rock songs in a "Sheila's Wheels" style. That was about it really. Al Murray was in the video, but I'm not sure why. Maybe if you see them perform it'll all make sense?

The compere came back on to introduce Robin and Michael's "Pointless Anger: Righteous Ire" show and was immediately terrified by Michael pushing a piano through the curtains. If you're ever in a room that contains Michael Legge and a piano, or any other form of keyboard instrument you are pretty much guaranteed a game attempt at "Just Can't Get Enough" and if you're lucky, the Eastenders theme, both of which we got tonight, when Robin demanded that Michael play him a song.
Robin with "Brian Cox"

Michael had had words with the impressionist before Robin arrived and got him on stage before walking off leaving him to speak to Robin as sexy scientist, Brian Cox. Did it work? I'm not sure, but it definitely happened.

The show was fairly short tonight and there was only time to get one issue resolved which was people with allergies. I think we all decided we hated people with allergies.

Robin also berated Jigsaw for their late arrival and about Dan forming a sketch group with much younger cooler comedians.

The show ended with Michael playing a song for Robin, before Robin left the stage, abandoning Michael, and shouting at him to play it better. Michael persuaded the girl from earlier to come up and play, which she rather nervously did, before, of course, Michael abandoning her too, leaving her on stage tinkling her ivories (not a euphemism)

She finally stopped before being told very loudly from Michael and Robin to keep going, and the compere was pretty confused too as he couldn't tell if the show had ended. An unusual end to the show and left us all feeling as if we were going over a humpback bridge in a car. Which I'm sure you'll agree is a lovely feeling.

After the show Simon and I went upstairs where he swooned over the compere (which I didn't understand at all!) and I swooned, and indeed made inappropriate remarks to his rather dishy friend. I think all gigs should end like this.

And it turns out that if I had some coke, he would have.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Mummy's funny but Daddy just talks.

Japanese Knotweed
Wow. It's been quite a few days for me. After a day at Gay Pride on Saturday I ended up at a free comedy night in Angel where i saw Jay Foreman. I know this because I have a scrap of paper with his website written on it. I obviously thought he was very good, therefore asked for more information. So, even though I can't remember much (any) of his act, I recommend him.

The next day I saw Robin Ince and Michael Legge in Brighton. Another fantastic and entertaining day. The day after I was not well and spent most of the day trying to eat something and keep it down and feeling very sorry for myself (I would rather not go into the details) but by the evening was feeling a little better and decided to pop down to The Fortnight Club just round the corner from my house. There I saw a number of comedians: Bennett Arron compering, as well as Sean Brightman, Tony Cowards, Juliet Meyers and others. After the gig (also attended by Richard and Simon) I met Michael Legge (again) and had a little chit chat with him, Bennett and Sean before heading home.

Jesus and Bridget Christie
Today was the long-awaited Edinburgh preview with Michael Legge and Bridget Christie. I had seen Bridget's show last year, when she performed at LQC as "A Ant" (in an elaborate ant costume) and was keen to see more. I met up with Neal, Bob and Simon at The Olde Explorer for some grub beforehand. I was horrified to see that my favourite Field Mushroom and Shropshire Blue sandwich had been taken off the menu, so tried a Grilled Halloumi instead. It was ace.

We got to The Phoenix and I wondered where Alex / Mr Pineapple Band was (we eventually found him after Michael's set and before Bridget's). It was pretty stuffy inside so we moved outside (and now it's nearly a month since I stopped smoking, I'm amazed I still had no compulsion to have a fag!) By 7:45  we were summoned downstairs. We found a nice table, but no one seemed to want to sit at the front, so in the absence of volunteers we moved into the empty seats.

Simon & Bridget
Andrew Collins was compering for the evening, coming out of retirement to say funny things on stage. He asked us about a Sun headline about a new species of lizard in the Philippines that had 2 penises and asked us to think of a better headline than "Busy Lizzie" which, he argues, is the worst thing in tabloid journalism today - not the voicemail hacking, but the lack of good headline puns.

Michael came on to do an almost finished version of his "Curse Sir Walter Raleigh" which has certainly moved on a lot since I saw the last "full" preview. OK granted that was 12 months ago, but it was really shaping up. He starts by telling us why the Edinburgh Fringe is shit, as well as the time he and Colin Hoult were rescued by a 90s superstar (no spoilers!), as well as coming to the main point of the show - his obsession with Sir Walter Raleigh and good manners, including an obvious lie told to him by his father about Sir Walter's ability to hit a plastic drainpipe with a stone. The show ends with some stories of Michael's encounters with rudeness on trains. For full details, see his blog.

After the interval, Andrew was back, introducing Bridget Christie's "warm up act" (it's actually her in a costume, but ssshhh, don't tell anyone), Japanese Knotweed. The music plays. And plays. And plays. We wondered if this was truly avant-garde comedy and she wasn't going to set foot on the stage. We weren't sure if we should applaud when the first song ended. I didn't. Others did. Turns out it was just a cock up and Bridget was still getting changed into her rather elaborate costume.

Bridget / Nick Clegg
Andrew came back on to reintroduce her and she arrived (see picture above) with a tambourine and ukulele round her neck as well as a hula hoop tied round her waist and coconut shells on her feet. She eventually managed to take the costume off but it did take some time. She isn't sure if she'll do this again, but I think we'd all like to see it.

She told us she goes to church every week and was a Catholic. Now this is not the done thing theses days in comedy (and I remember telling Robin Ince on the tube on Sunday that I was personally getting bored with atheism in comedy - a brave move I tink you'll agree) and the freshness of it really worked. Although I imagine most of the crowd were atheists, we were all still on her side. Words cannot describe her Jesus puppet. They can, but I'm not sure which words to choose. Just look at the picture.

She told us that she was married to a comic who is an atheist, and I won't say any more about that but she told us that her babysitter asked her kids what mummy and daddy did. She said "Well... mummy's funny, but daddy just talks...) - I immediately thought it was a great title for this blog, especially when you know who "daddy" is !

Andrew came back on to thank us for coming and decided to out me by pointing at me and saying "you're gay..." - There was some sort of reason for this - oh yeah about another weak Sun pun that was about Daniel Radcliffe being straight - "Potter's not a Botter". I was chosen as a representative of the gay community, in fact the Scottish gay community to agree that "Botter" is not any sort of gay slang.

What a great show. Completely silly, not an apologist for the Catholic church, but not being ashamed of her beliefs. Forget religion. Your beliefs are irrelevant. You will LOVE Bridget Christie.

We had a couple of drinks after. Hey Collings & Herrin fans - I was told by a reliable source that he is pretty sure there will be more podcasts. So nerds - stop worrying. Once Edinburgh is over, all bets are off... anything could happen.

I had a nice chat with Bridget after too, and she is extremely sweet. She doesn't seem half as confident off-stage than on it, and both Simon and I had to really tell her how much we enjoyed it - and I'm still not sure she believed us!

Anyway, Michael has 2 more previews here on Sunday afternoons. I will be there to see Michael anyway (honest!) but on the 17th, the other guest is Thom Tuck, and on the 24th it is Rich Fulcher from The Mighty Boosh - so come to both of these ! See you there!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Pointless Anger: Righteous Ire

Michael Legge
I went on holidays today. It was less than a day, but surely any time anyone goes to Brighton it's a proper holiday? I haven't been to Brighton in years and realised my geography wasn't as good as it was. I went for a quick booze at The Bulldog; a pub I used to go to quite frequently in about 1988, but it took me ages to find it, and when I did realised it was much smaller than I remember it.

Robin Ince
I met with Neal at the Caroline Of Brunswick (or The Kaz, as someone told me when asking directions). We had a rather disappointing but enormous Sunday roast, and moved upstairs to the L-shaped venue. We got front row seats. No one ever likes to sit there, but Neal and I are total attention seekers and grabbed them. We were soon joined by Vicky and her friend.

It was an odd start to the show. Traditionally the audience face an empty stage and the act is introduced, before bounding on and basking in the applause. Not so today. Robin and Michael were on "stage" just chatting as the audience filed in. Eventually the show began and the two boys moved off stage. We thought that was so they could come on again to applause, but all they did was pull the curtain closed on the other side of the L-shape, leaving almost half the audience behind it.

Pissed dog
They ranted for a while about nothing in particular, and although this is what we come for, they have a section in the show where they ask the audience what has made them angry and the audience vote to see if it is pointless anger, or righteous ire. My hand went up first and I regaled them with a story about being at Gay Pride yesterday and being threatened with being hit quite hard simply because I told a man he was a "fucking cunt" for buying his dog a beer,. Thats right, he didnt just give his dog the remnants of his own pint or give it water and pretend to us it was beer. He actually went to the bar and bought a beer and poured it into a bowl for the dog. The dog was hot. He was panting and would have drank anything. I'm getting angry again just typing this Anyway, let's look at the dog cos he is nice and it will make me calm down -->

Other topics included a man who was angry about a "try it before you buy it" religion course, (resulting in controversial comments from Michael, leading Robin into an awkward silence) and someone being furious about the price of booze at a festival (duh!) Michael finished the gig by reading one of his blogs - in fact this one here - which was much funnier being read out than reading it of the page.

The evening ended with a lovely song from Michael, like all good shows should. We had a beer or 2 afterwards outside, and headed home. I shared a train with Michael and Robin which was lovely if disappointingly devoid of arguments. I did, however, learn lots of comedy gossip as well as the fun that can be had with Wikipedia - I'm also amazed the blog I wrote about that journey has managed to get more words of comment than there are of blog already, and had a lovely chat about the atheism in comedy with Robin on the tube on the way back to Angel.

This is a show that will never have a script or even a plan. Basically, the show will change every time you see it, depending on Michael and Robin's particular moods, or what they have seen recently. I imagine in Edinburgh they will be much much angrier ! Anyway, if you are going to Edinbugh go and see it !

Sunday, 3 July 2011