Sunday, 24 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Daily Diary Day 12 Friday 22nd and Day 13 Saturday 23rd

So Friday was my last full day in Edinburgh. It began earlier than other days as Joe came in at 6:30 in the morning and proceed to play his fucking ukulele singing "EVERYONE IN THE FLAT GET UP!"  How that boy has so much energy to keeping going I do not know!
I took one last chance to walk around the city that had been my home for the past couple of weeks, I was going to miss the city, it really is beautiful, I met with Gary, Baz and Jess for lunch, Gary wanted to have haggis one last time (I mean he calls it haggis, he's veggie it's not its just vegetables they sell vegetables everywhere) After that we hit the Royal Mile one last time, the street didn't seem very busy but I got a lot more people asking me where the venue was and what time it started and how long it would go on for etc etc. Questions like that are normally a positive sign that they are going to come and watch and we got a reasonably large crowd at least 30 with a few late walk-ins could have been more. As I was coming to and end of my time at the Royal Mile a women came up to me taking a flyer.

"I know you from somewhere?"

"Yes, I think I know you"

"Where do I know you from?"

"I don't know" I should point out it was raining and I had hood so the fact anyone could recognise  my face was rather impressive.

She looked at me and then on the flyer and began to walk away shouting "I'll figure it out." Just as she was out of view I heard her shout two words which meant she defiantly knew me and this wasn't a case of mistaken identity.


"Yes" Was all I said as a response, I'm from Holmes Chapel that much is true, but I still didn't know the women in question. It was rattling my brain for over an hour, I would look back at Jamie and say "Who was that?" and he'd shrug. Then it hit me or it kind of did because I'm still not if I'm right but I'm pretty certain 60% certain that 58% certain, I think, that it was an old Drama teacher, Miss Nelson I hadn't seen her for about ten years I was a lot shorter last time she saw me so well done on her for noticing. I felt bad for not being able to make the link sooner but if this was after two weeks of fringe antics and I had been up since 6:30 am. So my apologies for not recognising you (if you were at the fringe or know someone who was at the fringe who saw me and was pissed off I didn't recognise them please get in touch, and I'm sorry brain has stopped working properly.)

The gig was fairly busy which was nice for our last night but they weren't a loud audience, but at least I was looking at smiling faces rather than one man wanting to punch me in the face. After the gig we went out drinking and we ended up in a bar, called Frankenstein's which seemed to only have memorabilia relating to Frankenstein's monster and very little regarding the man Dr. Frankenstein a cynical me might say that the person who did the decor didn't know that Frankenstein and the Monster are two separate characters but I'm sure that isn't the case.

The bouncer in the club didn't seem to like us, at one point I was dancing and was told by the bouncer if I did that again he'd kick me out. Gary decided to do an Irish jig claiming the Killers were a Irish folk band that sold out. We had fun, but that bouncer will definitely be voting Yes in the upcoming referendum.

Epilogue - Day 13 Saturday 23rd

The next day we woke up hungover and packed our things, we got out on time (+50 minutes) and headed over to the Purple Pig which is where I met Gary and Hayley on the first day, an event that seems like a lifetime ago. I left after eating as my train was a few hours before everybody else's. The train was packed and I spent most of the time sleeping. The train pulled in at Crewe and I was home, my Edinburgh adventure over. Right now to start planning next year's show...

Friday, 22 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Daily Diary Day 11 Thursday 21st

So we are getting towards the end of our run, it has been fun but it's also been hard work and exhausting. Today I wanted to get away from the fringe so I set off fairly early and went to browse some second hand book stores and record shops. I sat in a cafe and had a coffee and didn't really do anything. I then headed back towards the centre of the city and grab myself some lunch from the Tempting Tattie. I ordered a medium potato which in hindsight was fucking mental as it was huge but delicious the guy behind the counter was really friendly and we had a little chat. Afterwards I walked over to Haymarket train station to pick our friend Jess up, we dropped her bags off at the flat and then headed up towards the Royal Mile.

I then went to meet Gary and Joe who were ukulele shopping. Joe uses one in his act and he want one of superior quality than the plastic one he purchased from the Early Learning Centre five years ago.  When I arrived Gary was sat on a sofa in the shop and Joe was quizing the sales women over the ukulele.

"It sounds better than my current one"

"Yeah it will because it's made out of wood, not plastic."

"Yeah, but it's not blue, my current one is blue, could I paint this one?"

"No. Well you could, but you'd ruin it."

After Joe brought his ukulele we headed up to the Royal Mile and began to flyer, we were starting earlier today as we really wanted a good crowd for our second to last night. I also needed to head over to drop of our donation for the PBH Free Fringe. As I was walking down the street the heavens opened and I was almost drowned by the onslaught of water. The entire mile was deserted, this was worrying as it was about 4:15 and this was prime time to be flyering for the show. I went and sat with Gary and his friend Baz in Sportsters bar as I attempted to dry off. We waited for an hour for the rain to die down, but I really had been caught in the thick off it and my socks would remain wet till I got home in the evening (after 10pm)

We hit the mile again, now that the rain had died down there were few people, but even fewer flyers which I think worked in our favour there was more room to walk up and down the mile, so people were more likely to stop and talk to us about our shop.

Tonight's gig went really well for all three of us, they were a loud friendly audience, my only problem was at the end when off my set where I lose my temper with the audience was hard to pull off because the audience were so lovely everyone was doing what I said first time, but I successfully imagined to isolate myself from the audience once again and the gig was a success. So successful that someone left a bag of frozen peas, which I think tops the teddy bear from last week. Of course I'm not sure if this counts in the same way as it was from my friend and his Dad who had come to see the show and had read the blog about the teddy bear, still the vegetables are appreciated.

We had tea at Pizza Hut and we were lucky enough to be served by George again, he was as friendly and as funny as last time. Joe was ordering a glass of water and then several other people asked for water, George said
"None of you wanted water until he said it."

"Perhaps we could just get a jug?" I suggested

"You couldn't drink a whole jug by yourself" I mean that's not what I had meant but it was funny and I saw it as a challenge.

He brought over a jug and we continued with our meal, about half an hour later he walked past and had another look.

"You're getting through that fast. Do you want another one?"

"I think I'll be fine thanks."

"Are you sure, because if you had two you could hold them up and go look at my jugs."

How could I say no.

We left Pizza Hut and grabbed a taxi home, everyone was up for going out but I felt like I needed a early night, and I don't think my stomach could take another night of drinking (it was still recovering from the stupid amount of water I drank.) I caught up with a bit of TV and then went to bed. Tomorrow the last day and I hope it goes well I really want to end this festival on a high.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Daily Diary Day 10 Wednesday 20th

So firstly I should mention a few things that I forgot from yesterday's blog. Firstly Gary and Joe managed to get on ITV news on Tuesday. It was during their segment on the fringe and Tim Vine winning the best joke of the fringe competition. They were only on for a few second but it was a funny shot of them. They were cut from the 10 O'clock news bloody censorship that what that is.

I had a leisurely morning and then Mark and I decided that we would go and see James Freeman's Man of Steal which had been recommend to us by Gary. James Freeman is a master pickpocket and a rather good showman as well. The show was on in the Voodoo Rooms a venue which is part of the free fringe venue that hasn't failed to disappoint me once.

After that we grab a coffee and then I went for lunch with Gary. He had Haggis, sorry he had vegetarian haggis, he insists on calling Haggis, it's just vegetables mushed together. Before long it was 4 O'clock and that only means one thing time to start flyering. We hit the Royal Mile and the Royal Mile hit back, back into the left. Round 1, Round 2, Round 3 ding ding ding. Sorry just filling up space.

The room for the gig filled up nicely we had a solid 30 in the room. We started a bit late as we were waiting on a few audience members to get drinks. The back doors sketch that we open with got a great response one of the best of the fringe so far (two shows left, two shows left) however after that the audience were a struggle they were all smiling but laughs were spread out. At the start of the run I might have panicked, but by now I had enough self confidence to go out there and just do what I do and hope for the best. The audience smiled as I went through my set, it went well with a few loud audience members laughing. Joe came on stage at the end of my stage to tell people to tweet about us. This got a few laughs when I kicked off at him.

As Joe was collecting money a elderly couple who had been sat in the second row walked up to him and said with no anger or malice "Garbage, absolute garbage" still nice of my parents to come and watch. BOOM! THAT'S WHAT THEY CALL A JOKE! Don't worry there's none of them in the show.

Afterwards we took Mark to Mosque kitchen because I WILL NEVER TIRE OF THAT PLACE I LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!

Then Mark and myself headed over to Free Sisters to see Joe Munrow, I'd seen the end of his show the other week when I walked in 45 minutes late, so it was good to see it in it's entirety. He's playing in a yurt which as you can imagine doesn't have the best sound proofing but his material and stage charisma makes up for any drum and base leaking into the tent.

After that it was a quick walk home and then bed.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Daily Diary Day 9 Tuesday 19th

So today was the last day Oonagh was up visiting, we got up early and headed into town with me dragging her portable library  (she doing her masters so brings about 13 hardback with her wherever she travels.) We went for Brunch (yeah that's right we're those type of people) at Sportsters bar, the food was OK and then we waited for Ed O'Mera show, it's about the Roman Empire and Oonagh had wanted to see whilst we'd be up but we'd frequently ran out of time. Ed is really friendly and funny, his other show is on after ours so if you are planning on coming to see us you should defiantly hang around for his show.  After the show Gary and Mark Till were waiting outside. Mark had come up to visit us for a few days as massive Sherlock Holmes we took him to The Conan Doyle pub which is in the square that Arthur Conan Doyle was born in. Gary is obsessed with Edinburgh so walking through the streets you get a history lesson about the city and Mark is an encyclopedia when it comes to life and work of Conan Doyle, thus making this the most informed walk I'd ever been on.

Mark and Gary had lunch and then we headed on down towards the Royal Mile to do some flyering. We flyered hard today and with Oonagh, Mark and Jamie all lending a hand we were able to hand a fair few out, I also found people asking me where the venue was which I guess can only be a good sign. Before the show began I took Oonagh to the train station and we said goodbye.

I ran back to the venue and got changed. We had a nice crowd at least 30 and they were all friendly and smiling which is always a bonus. However we realised we couldn't get the speakers to work, the other week I'd experimented seeing what the room would be like with a mic, I didn't enjoy it but I knew I could do it. Joe and Gary were a bit more panicky about the mic not working and on top off that Gary was having trouble tuning his banjo. We did the low-fi version of the show, the crowd were really lovely and even though some bits just didn't work as well the gig was a success with some lovely feedback.

After the show I had to make a quick exit as I had a ticket to see Josie Long. Josie's show is easily one my favourite at this years fringe, the show is funny and heart felt and as an audience you really go on a journey but not one of those shitty contrived ones. Josie Long is a brilliant comedian but this was by far her most personal show, it's also her funniest.  Afterwards I sent the guys and text to see where they were and was waiting outside the venue, I noticed some other people were waiting obviously to see Josie. Oonagh and I had tried to get tickets for the gig at the weekend but she had sold out it was totally my fault as I should have been more organised. I thought Josie could sign the free comic she gives her audience at the start the show. Josie came out and it became clear that the people waiting for her weren't fans but actual friends off hers. I was about to turn around when her friend pointed out that I was waiting to speak to her. I explained that Oonagh had tried to see her and she was really friendly and lovely and signed the programme and asked what  Oonagh was studying, after that I gave her a flyer for my show and she had a look at it and asked me how the show was going, I was honest said I found the last week tough but things were starting to get better. She said that normally the way it goes. She also found the photo of Joe on the back really funny. She said she probably wouldn't be able to make our show as she liked to relax before performing but wished me luck.

After that I met back up with the guys, Joe wanted to go to C-Venue Gary said wild horses couldn't keep him out...we compromised with a drink in a bar and then headed home.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Diary Day 8 Monday 18th

Well the weekend was over and we were back to work today, myself and Oonagh didn't have any plans for the morning so we just pottered around the house. We had planned on going to see a play called Unsung at C-Nova, sadly though when we arrived at the venue, due a family emergency the show wasn't able to go ahead, which was a shame but hopefully I'll be able to catch it later on in the week. After that we headed down to Greyfriar's Bobby, one thing I am get impressed with is just how good my navigation skills around the city are people able to take short cuts and see which streets lead where. Greyfriar's Bobby is a local legend off a loyal dog who's said to have waited by his master's grave for 14 years. Over years people have questioned the legitimacy off this story, with there being three, that;s right three books claiming to have finally exposed the truth, I mean it's a nice story and anyone with common sense might be see how the story isn't a hundred percent true, but writing a book about one urban legend? Time well spent. We met up with Jamie who's here for the week with his family, we grabbed some food and then it was time to flyer.

Flyering today seemed to be hard for me I don't know if I just stood at the wrong part in the mile or my weekend off had knocked my confidence but there weren't many people taking flyers, Joe, Gary and Oonagh all seemed to be having more luck than myself. Gary and Joe dress as the old couple from our first sketch and this is often a successful way off dragging people into the show. Today though well, I don't if you've ever seen them but there are stages up and down the Royal Mile, normally they are vacated by a cappella groups or shows about Oliver Twist set in Nazi Germany, but day there was a gap for some reason and the women in charge (we say in charge she was just wearing a high vis jacket she could have been anyone) said Joe and Gary could have 15 minutes to perform, they got and perform a series of songs (they played blowin' in the wind 5 times) this gathered a crowd who I could then flyer. I do have photos and videos which I'll upload when the day to day madness off all of this has died down.

 Something must have worked because we got about 30 people in the room. Joe and Gary sets went down well, although they both said they had found the room hard, I went out and gave the best performance I had given off the entire fringe. It felt pretty amazing, gig haven't been going badly but I've never been as good as I would have liked to have been, or I've been on top form but the audience didn't get but tonight all was perfect, and it was being filmed, right up until I heard my camera making a very strange noise. I looked over and Oonagh was looking at the camera with a sense of panic.

I FUCKING HATE MY CAMERA WHY? IT'S ALWAYS FUCKING WORKED *runs over and grabs tree branch and starts hitting the camera* WHY NOW? WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST?

but despite this I enjoyed the gig, afterwards it was quick turn around to go and see Frank Skinner, we got to the venue just in time and watch him do his set, Skinner really is a master off his art form, and it was well written and performed show (but then what do you expect). Afterwards Joe and Gary hung around has they wanted their photo taken with him, we saw him leave a few minutes later he was really friendly and just bloody lovely but apologise as his taxi was waiting for him, just as he was about to leave Oonagh told Frank that her Mum had seen him do a gig at the Bear pub in Bearwood (the road where Smethwick and Birmingham met) whilst she was pregnant with Oonagh.
"Oh Oonagh, that makes you my youngest fan." He then insisted on giving Oonagh a hug, we said our goodbyes and thanked him. We headed back towards the main street to get some food. When we heard a voice shout "Oonagh" we turned round and it was the member of security who had been walking next to Frank, "Frank just said as he got in the car I should have asked her for some money for that gig." Frank Skinner is just bloody lovely.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Edinburgh Daily Diary Day 7 Sunday 17th

So the plan for Sunday was to go up Arthur's Seat, however we all slept in. The average time I've been getting up everyday is about 8:30 and the average time of going to sleep is about 2 in the morning, so a week of this had caught up with me. I got up and had a fairly leisurely morning have some food round the house, do a bit of house work. Oonagh and I set off to see Simon Munnery. Simon Munnery is one of my favourite comedians the man is quite simply a comic genius, however I'd been hearing mix reports from his latest show Simon Munnery sings Soren Kierkegaard. Luckily I wasn't disappoint it wasn't his best work, but it was a solid and interesting show which delved into the world of a barely known philosopher. The show starts with a ten minute routine where Putin is referred to as Poo Tin, it's this wonderful mix of the absurd, the profound and the silly that makes Munnery such a joy to watch.

After that I met up with Karl Barnsley the director of Removed and Destroyed, he's up here working on a few shows at C-Venue. It was good to catch up with him and find out what's going on with The Lion Tamers. Coincidentally you can buy tickets for Removed and Destroyed when it goes to Oswaldtwistle's Civic Art Centre on the 19th -20th September by following this link

I then headed over to The Street bar to met up with Gary and catch some stand up. The Dutch-Esses was a hour stand up show from two girls who had moved from Holland to London in search of happiness, they had some strong material but about half room weren't interested with one person pulling out their phone half way through, and a language barrier for others. Audience can be such dicks.

After that we moved from one side of the city to the other to catch Red Redmond. I've never seen Red Redmond but Gary and Joe have both gigged with him, it was a great show with some solid stand up. After that we grab some food at Mosque Kitchen, that place is amazing this time I hate too much but when it's that price how can you not. Well with self control if you're going to be like that.

After tea we headed up to The Conan Doyle pub and had a quick drink before heading over to the Voodoo Rooms for The Legion of Dooms late night cabinet. We first met the LOD at a scratch night at the Unity in Liverpool they were pretty fantastic, sadly we clash with their main show but we'd been meaning to try and catch their late night show for a while. It was daft, silly and in places very very dark.

So that was my last day off, I've got another week now left in Edinburgh, on the way home me and Gary discussed plans to come back next year and what shows we want to bring, ideally I think we'd want to bring a sketch show and a stand up show. There have been times when I've worried that going to fringe was a bad idea, would it make me hate the festival, would it make me hate performance and writing, thankfully it hasn't. I'm more encouraged than ever, I also had a few ideas for things I want to write when I get back to the real world.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Edinburgh Daily Diary Day 6 Saturday 16th

I feel I should talk about PBH's Free Fringe who are the organisation our show is part of this year. PBH Free Fringe finds venues for shows to perform at during the fringe where they won't be charged and in return we don't charge people to come in. It's a great scheme for performers and audience members a like and if you are up at this year's fringe please support as many PBH shows as you can, take a punt on someone you don't know, you'll have a great time and who knows you might just see the next big thing. Gary, Joe and myself would not be performing at this years fringe if it wasn't for PBH, it's a great organisation which has made us better performers.

So Saturday was my first day off and I had successfully managed to make sure I was fully booked for the entire day, we started early being at The Stand to see Bridget Christie her show last year won her the Foster's Comedy Award and this show which was all about it's success and feminism in general was thought provoking, clever, funny and actually uplifting. It's second time I've political show at this years fringe and again I haven't left feeling angry, more inspired a sense that we can change the world. She gave us a envelope with some information about FGM but asked us not to read if we were going to see another comedy show. As we had only an hour to kill before Stewart Lee we went and grabbed some lunch instead.

We headed over to Pret, where a very angry Scot in a green kilt was offering tourists and angry tour and history of the city.



He was funny and passionate and during the course of a falafel wrap I did find out more about the history Scotland, I hadn't asked for this information but it is now stuck in my brain!

We headed back over to The Stand to catch Stewart Lee's work in progress, it's always a joy to see Stew's work he's one of the main reason I got into Stand Up Comedy and one of the reason I wanted to come up and perform at the fringe. His show was a work in progress for his next TV show, it was everything you'd expect from a talent like Lee. He also had a lot of fun complaining about how Saturday audiences didn't understand him. Afterwards I brought a copy of his indeterminacy Cd a John Cage project he worked on with Tania Chen and Steve Beresford, I had wanted a copy of the Jazz Cellar tape a recording off him as a young stand up but sadly they were sold out.

After that we headed back to the flat and had a quick power nap before heading over to the Voodoo Rooms (a PBH Free Fringe venue) to catch John Luke Roberts. He was someone we took a punt on a few years ago so we were excited to go and see him now. Sadly when we got to the venue the place was packed and we couldn't get in. Luckily though Dave Alnwick other magic show was about to start. I'd seen his big show in the Ballroom earlier on in the week but this was more close up magic. It was a fun and interesting show, I've always had a soft spot for magic I understand the basic principles but never the self discipline to become a good performer.

Afterwards Oonagh and I went got some food at rather nice restaurant on Cockburn street (God I laugh at that every time) the place was cool with a TV showing Lost in Space.

After tea we went up to the Pleasance to catch Tim Key's show. It was bloody amazing, I love Tim Key and this show was simply spectacular with thrown in magic as a bonus. Afterwards we headed back to the flat and spoke with Gary for a bit before heading to bed.

Edinburgh Fringe Daily Diary Day 5 Friday 15th

And just like that it was the end of the first week. Friday had come and I think everyone in the house is in need of a break, one think I would say is I'm really glad I have Joe and Gary up here with me to help do the show, at no point when things have gone badly have we been on our own, which is good. I had thought Friday could be a quite day but after the surprised success off Thursday we thought it would be good to get out and flyer and hopefully build a big audience. In the morning Me and Oonagh got up and headed over to The Stand, it was my first time this year a the venue and it is easily the best venue at the fringe, it has all the best acts Daniel Kitson, Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery, Bridget Christie etc etc. Tony Law is just brilliantly silly from dance routines involving beach balls to shaggy dog stories about his dying dog, Oonagh described it as "The perfect hangover cure".

After that I took Oonagh on a Micro tour of the city showing her where all the main venues were and then we stopped by the tempting tattie for lunch (easily the best baked potato shop in Edinburgh) and then I met up with Gary and began to flyer we managed to round a rather good audience we had 19 from the start and another 5 walked in towards the end of Joe's set. The crowd were lovely and we filmed tonight's performance, watching the video back I wasn't happy with my performance I was speaking to fast, and wasn't leaving pauses where I normally would, this was largely due to having to compete with the Friday night open mic downstairs, I made a joke about it towards the end and I ended the set with the audience on side. After the show we grabbed some food at Mosque Kitchen which is easily one of my favourite places in Edinburgh.

This week has been hard work, it's also been fun and life changing, it also been really shit at times, I'm not getting enough sleep, and there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do what I need to do. But ultimately I'm looking forward to the next week. I have a few days off now which is slightly annoying as Saturday crowds are easily the biggest but equally will give me chance to see some other shows.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Diary Day 4 Thursday 14th

I woke up late on Thursday which isn't that surprising when you consider I didn't get home until after 5. My first job was to pick Oonagh up from the train station, Oonagh is staying with me for a few days and this was the first time she had seen me since in began. We went out and flyered as usual but we started late on in the day. Still we made a good go off it and somehow we managed to get an audience of over 40 which was great, I'm not sure how many off those people were the result of us flyering on that day, but they were a lovely crowd, looking at it now a few days later it may have been one of my best performances so far. Unfortunately at the time none of us were able to relax during the performance as a table of monumental twats had decided to take a seat around the corner from us and make as much noise as humanly possible, as it later turned out this was a bigger distraction for us as performers than it was for the audience, because of how the room is designed there impressions of Neanderthal Man were coming through to us on stage but a wall was bollocking much of their distractions out. After the gig we headed off to Pizza Hut I'll be honest we were hoping to run into George but alas he wasn't working still...Pizza is Pizza and you can't really argue with it I mean you can't you with any meal, they're not sentient.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Diary Day 3 Wednesday 13th

Today started like any other day with the police knocking on my door. I opened the door and police officers said they were looking for someone who lived in flat 3. I explained that I was just renting a flat for 2 weeks as part of the fringe, I didn't know if there was anyone in flat 3 but they were welcome to have a look.

"Which flat are you renting?"

"Flat 1" It was only after I said this and lead them through to the flat I realised which flat number I was staying in. "Oh it appears I live in number 3" I thought this is it I'm going down, they're going to arrest me, I cursed myself for being the first awake in my flat.

"OK well we'll have to speak to University then." and with that they walked off, I was little surprised out much the police just took me on my word, I mean I could be lying, I could have been the man they were after, they didn't even ask to see inside the flat. It could have a crystal meth factory for all they know.

I decided to take it a bit easier today, we did some rehearsals in the morning and then did some serious flyering in the early afternoon. We thought it would be fun and a good way to get people attention by getting Joe and Gary to dress up as the characters from the first sketch. Gary and Joe's friend Jim was coming to visit and we went to pick him up from the train station, we flyered along the way, three ladies getting off the train from Manchester found Joe really funny and said they were definitely coming to the show, to be honest I just thought they were being polite.

I went off to catch David Alnwick show at the Voodoo Rooms. He's a magician based in Liverpool, his shows is great with some very impressive magic tricks. I met back up with the Guys and got ready for the show.

We had about 19 people in tonight, and they were clearly the loudest audience we have had so far, the three women from the train station were there as well, sadly the show wasn't what they thought it would be and they walked out half way through my set, but a minute later two people joined us, perhaps they saw the three women leaving maybe they heard them talking about how offensive it was and they thought "If those women find it offensive, we'll love it." I think tonight  we decided on the definitive running as well. Sketch followed by Gary, then me and Joe closing.

Afterwards we went to Pizza Hut and met the funniest and friendliest waiter I'd seen in a long time.
"Do you know if there are any online vouchers for Pizza Hut?" asked Joe
"Do I look like the type of guy who eats at Pizza Hut?" was his reply. He was upbeat and full of energy and we guessed that this had probably been a tough shift. We ordered drinks and helped ourselves to the salad but then George told us there was no gluten free bases (Jim doesn't eat gluten). George was really apologetic and refused to take money for the drinks we'd ordered. Joe became quite depressed having ordered tap water and missed out on the chance for a free drink.

We went to C Venue afterwards where I swear to God time moves faster, it's like something from Doctor Who only rather than having to fight the Daleks or Cybermen you have tolerate really shit dance music, then when you try to leave they start playing The Rolling Stones. Gary and myself planned to leave at around 1am and didn't get home until after 5.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Diary Day 2 Tuesday 12th

I woke up surprisingly early given that I'd had no sleep from the night before and hadn't gone to bed till after 2 in the morning. I got ready and had some breakfast only to discover that I hadn't packed a toothbrush, I ventured out the near by Sainsbury's local and picked up some other goods. On returning to the flat I discovered that Joe likes to walk around the house in just his boxers which is lovely...Joe and Gary have been friends for a long time and they have quite a strange relationship it 1/3 homoerotic 1/3 psychologically abusive and 1/3 who can weird the other one out first.

 I tried to get out fairly early today as I wanted to catch some shows, I did a bit of flyering on the Royal Mile and had a look around for some shows I might want to catch. I have a long list of comedians I want to see but not so much on the theatre front. Despite being handed a Rain Forest of leaflets, I didn't come across any shows that I fancied. The first show I saw was Lunchtime of Champions, it on at the same venue as us. It was a fun and enjoyable stand up set, in away a similar concept to our show in that it's three stand up comedians with a few sketches. The guys were really funny and members or ex members of the Cambridge Footlights, they had a big crowd at least fifty, some other acts can be harsh about the Footlights and the Oxford Revue, some people think they have an unfair advantage, a lot people have also told me that they are usually shit but to be fair to these guys they were really funny. I also thought it was interesting that they didn't use a microphone for the venue, I was sat at the back and could hear them perfectly clear. I handed out flyers to people as they were leaving the venue in hope they might want to come back later.

I did some more flyering and then headed over to watch Chris Coltrane's show. I've followed him for a while on twitter and I've always found his tweets really funny but this is the first time I've seen him do stand up. His show was great, well written jokes and great stories about protesting, it was smart political comedy, but it also had a heart and warmth and the show wanted to inspire you to get involved in politics and not to be cynical. It also worth mentioning that Chris also didn't use a mic, although his room was slightly smaller than ours and with better acoustics.

I met back up with Gary and Joe and we did some flyering. There seemed to be less people on the Royal Mile this afternoon, Joe decided to dress up as an old woman (who's a character in one of our sketches) this got us some attention and we were able to round up about 15 people for the show. It was a difficult gig everyone was spread out across the room and good handful of them didn't seem to laugh. Gary and Joe both did terrific jobs, I was on last tonight as I walked on stage two members of the audience stood up and walked out (they must really hate people wearing Great Gatsby T-Shirts) I went through the gig there was laughter in places and I think I had most of the room on our side, however one gentleman was not having a good time, from his facial expressions he went from confusion to anger, from anger to boredom, and from boredom to having a look in eyes that said "I want to punch you in the face" the end bit of my set was really fun to do partly because of the gentleman in question becoming more agitated which was something for me to play with. I also did the gig without a microphone I'm not sure how I feel about this I might try again tomorrow.

At the end of the gig a man said he didn't have any change but he enjoyed the show and would like give us Teddy Bear he'd gotten from the Edinburgh Dungeon. This has set and all new bar for what we expect for payment, if you are coming to show bring cash or something that is more impressive than a Teddy Bear, I think we can easily get something far weirder.

We went back to flat and ate before going off to see Nick Helm's 2 hour show at the Pleasance he's only doing two nights this year and we caught his last show. Nick Helm's great and in the environment he was playing his show really worked. The more successful he's become the more fun the shows have been as he's been able to add more and more spectacle to show. I also admire his dedication to make sure things get out of control regardless off how well he is doing. The show was made up with old and new material and two audience members in front of me walked out because they said "We've heard all these songs before" It's a weird one that, if you went to a gig and the band only played new material you'd feel pretty pissed off, yet with comedians doing old material is a cardinal sin. So where does that leave Musical Comedians?

Gary and Joe first saw Nick Helm 6 years ago playing a small room as part of the free fringe. It's really inspiring to see someone who's been through  Free Fringe have so much success. Joe tweeted about and Nick Helm favourited it, which I think made Joe's night.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Diary Day 1 Monday 11th

Yesterday was a long day mixed with high and lows. It began with me waking up at 5am well I say waking up, I hadn't really been a sleep, I spent the night awake with a mixture of excitement, fear and dread. The Fringe is something I've wanted to do since I was 16, every since then I've been promising myself that next year I'll take up a show and the moment had finally arrived. I briefly slept and had a weird dream where Jeremy Paxman and Chris Morris teamed up and went on a road trip to bring peace to the Middle East. My brother drove me to Crewe and after 3 attempts at trying to use a lift and very awkward attempt at buying coffee, I was on a train heading north of the boarder. I arrived in Edinburgh on time and with minimal difficultly with the lift. I jumped in a taxi along the way I saw a city covered in posters and then a group of school children walking down the street wearing bright yellow Stars of David, I presume they were on their way to do a show about the Nazi either that or the Scottish Nationalist Party wasn't what I thought it was. I met Gary and Hayley for breakfast in the purple pig cafe. I had the big breakfast, the waitress said they were out of potato scones but I could substitute with another sausage, I said "perfect" (I hadn't even noticed that the breakfast came with a potato scone.)

We then headed over to see our first show of the day. Big Wow the art of falling down. It's a fast pace piece of comedy theatre, with the two actors playing several characters as we follow one character as his life appears to fall apart filled with bizarre characters and absurd situations. The show was great, strong characters, good gags, it had something to say and was surprising uplifting.

Joe arrived and we headed over to our accommodation which proved to be more complicated than it needed to be. We got into the flat later than planned, but these are possibly the nicest student halls I've ever been in (seriously the broom cupboard alone is bigger than my room from first year halls). We unpacked our bags and began to rehearse the sketch at the start of the show and then headed over to flyer for it. We didn't spend as much time as I would have liked flyering but we got a fairly decent crowd.

I opened tonight, my set was OK , but my pace and rhythm were slightly off  and I flustered a few strong gags, I had spent the day worrying about the sketch and flyering and hadn't put anytime into go through my set. Joe and Gary both went down well. Afterwards I stayed for drinks with two friends who had come to see me. I didn't know they were at the fringe and it was really nice to see friendly faces at my first gig here.

The night ended with me and Gary in Brew Dog when my phone buzzed with a Guardian update told us Robin Williams had died, suspected suicide, I'm not a huge fan of his work, but I like the fact that as a comedian he always approached stuff with warmth and heart and that tends to be rare in comedy and helped Good Will Hunting get made. It was a sober way to end what had been quite frankly an exhausting day.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Meaning of Python

Everybody remembers there first time, where they were, who it was with. I’m talking of course about the first time they saw Monty Python. I was 7 or 8 when I first saw Python, a perfectly normal trip to Blockbuster [R.I.P.] I can’t remember what film I was going to pick to watch with my Dad one Saturday evening but he seemed pretty unimpressed with my selection, at the last moment he saw his opportunity and he took it, grabbing a bulky VHS he said “Look, Matt you’ll like this. He presented me with the Holy Grail, well Monty Python’s Holy Grail, I recognised John Cleese name (I’d seen a few episodes of Fawlty Towers) we went home and that night my life would change forever.  As I sat on the sofa the epic music began the scene is set England 936AD a misty moorlands the sound of horses and knight on horseback, hang on there isn't a horse, wait are those coconuts? And from that moment on my life was completely changed, from then on I was on a mission to find as much Python as I could get my hands on.  I devoured as much Python as I could. I never liked sport and it would be a few more years before I discovered music so until then Python was all I had. I learnt entire sketches and even performed “Always look on the bright side of life” in a school assembly.
The genius of Python is that it works on so many levels originally I was sold on the silliness off it all (and that’s still the main appeal) but soon you discover that all of life is in Python philosophy, religion, science, history, the migration patterns of swallows.  I was drawn in by Gilliam’s anarchic animations but at different points in my life I have always favoured one of the Pythons more than the others, but today if asked who my favourite one is I couldn't tell you, for me there longitude is a result of the collective. The mixture of the surreal with well written witty dialogue, the combination of the absurd with the everyday, they work best as an ensemble which is why anything they have done since is dwarfed in comparison.   
In life everything has been viewed through the lens of Python like the Guards at the wedding watching Lancelot charging at them from a distance. When I first started performing I imitated Python, at the end of first year when I first began to write I took influence from Python taking the mundane and everyday and flipping it on its head.  When writing essays on Post Modernism I quote Python more than Barnes, the Avant- Garde looks pretty tame in comparison to Flying Circus. When I find myself entangled in complex debates on theology and philosophy  I find myself quoting The Meaning of Life, I was never able to stomach student politics as it all felt a tad Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea or the Popular People’s Front (you get the idea). Before I had music or theatre or love or spam there was Monty Python. And after it’s all gone as I lie dying in a hospital bed abandoned in the corridor of an overcrowded NHS hospital with nothing but the machine that goes ping for company, I’ll be there muttering the lines to Dead Parrot Sketch.
When people look back at the 20th Century we will have to consider Python as one of the great artistic movements along with DaDa, the Cubist, the Surrealists, the Punks, but of course Python is better than all of these, why? Because they had the fish slapping dance! That’s why!
Looking back Python’s influence on me is pretty obvious, but it’s not just me it’s our entire society, nearly every comedian states Python as an influence. Everyone takes influence from them, Musicians, Journalists, even Politicians. The General Election is basically a real life upper class twit of the year competition.

A few weeks ago I saw Monty Python live, it’s an event I never thought was going to happen, I like many thought there days of touring were long past. It wasn't perfect; Cleese is too old for the Ministry for Silly Walks. Chapman is missing but not forgotten with many video clips of his brilliant performances. It was more than a comedy gig it was a celebration of the most influential comic group ever. They've all aged since I first saw then on that VHS tape all those years ago. Yes they will be older, maybe even a little wiser but just as silly. If you are see them tonight at the O2 or at the cinema enjoy it. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

22nd January: Influence for Removed and Destroyed

My first full length play  Removed and Destroyed will go into rehearsals in April and is currently being cast. I started writing the play in 2012 it started in my head as a short play, no longer than 20 minutes and had a rather confusing sci-fi concept to do with people have memory and information download (nice thinking Phillip K Dick but I got lost in my own rules). The characters and the story developed and play evolved into what it is today. The play was developed whilst I was on the Liverpool Everyman Playhouse young writers programme, and I am forever indebted to the course and my fellows students for the play being in the state that it is today.

I knew over the coming months I'll be asked a lot about why I wrote the play, what am I trying to say  and I know that there is no simple answer to these questions.  The play was a collage of ideas, the contexts of which stuck to the back on my mind and scribbled in ink in various notebooks over a long period of time.  So in attempt to make things clearer for myself I thought I should write about some of the influences that helped shape the play. This is very self indulgence and may not be off any interest to anyone other than myself so apologies if you are reading this.

First off I should start with the obvious I love dystopian fiction, Orwell's 1984 is one my favourite books, V for Vendetta is a masterpiece (the comic book, the film was a hatchet job) and a big healthy dose Catch 22 and Kafka clearly have influenced the way I see the world.

Abu Qutada
When I began writing the debate surrounding the deportation of Abu Qatada was in full swing what angered me most about the debate was how caviler the mainstream media and politicians were when it came to idea of Qatada's human rights. The idea that because this man was dedicated to the destruction of civil liberties and human rights he was himself  not entitled to these basic rights. I found this interesting wasn't the idea that EVERYONE  was entitled regardless of what they said or did? A long with this came the arguments in the defense of torture, I remember one Sunday morning watching The Big Questions (I do not recommend this show to anyone who is easily irritated by morons) In which one man actually quoted George Orwell's Room 101 scene in an attempt to justify torture.

Theatrically speaking Dario Fo and his infamous play Accidental Death of an Anarchist were a massive influence on me, Fo's balance of black comedy, stage craft, satire and well research political observation is masterful. I first studied Fo when I was 17 and he's influenced a lot of my work both consciously and sub. You can read his noble prize speech here
Poster for a production of Fo's masterpiece

Other playwrights who's work  influenced me whilst writing are Simon Stephens The Trial of Ubu Roi Martin McDonnagh, The Pillowman and Caryl Churchill Far Away

Cruel Britannia 
Ian Cobain's book Cruel Britannia was massively helpful resource for research and is an incredibly interesting read about the UK's use of torture over the last 60 years. As was Christopher Hitchens' essay on Water boarding.

The Poems If by Edward Bond and Vultures by Chinua Achebe have clearly struck accord with me, I first read them aged 18. During a rehearsed reading workshop one of the actors asked me why I had chosen to set my play in a Dystopian future Britain when there were plenty of countries around the world where this was an occurrence. I was reminded of the first line of Bond's poem

"If Auschwitz had been in Hampshire, there would have been Englishmen to guard it."

Samuel Beckett and Charlie Chaplin defiantly shaped the way I see tragedy and comedy, I think it's the mixing of the silly with the suffering that makes a truly fascinating and enjoyable night at the theatre.

“We must laugh in the face of our helplessness against the force of nature – or go insane” Charlie Chaplin 

Likewise Armando Iannucci work shows the madness and insanity behind modern politics, as does Kubrick's masterpiece Dr. Strangelove.
The War Room from Dr. Strangelove designed by Ken Adams

Somewhere between the second and third draft of the play the news about the NSA secret recording everything anyone did on the internet broke, whilst this wasn't a direct influence on the play it's a reminder of how important our human rights are when our governments now have the ability to spy on us, what protects us?

I was listening to a lot of folk music at the time of writing, Billy Bragg and Steve Earle in particular.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

10th January

Today was another morning shift, which went fine, I arrived home and began work on my play for the second LABB night which is on the theme of childhood I also did the last bit of redrafting for Bondage which I'll be rehearse tomorrow.

If that wasn't enough writing I also began to work on another short play for LABB. If I'm honest I'm not a hundred percent sure off it. I had the idea of Wednesday and the deadline is tomorrow, and with rehearsals for Bondage I don't think I'll be able to get it into great shape. It's a nice idea but not one which entirely links in with the theme for the night, if it doesn't get picked I might develop it for something else if not it was a good exercise, I wrote two 3 dimensional  female characters (I've written female sketches before) which shockingly is a first for me. That's one of the great things about Writers LABB is it forces you to write towards deadlines, and gets you writing things you might not normally work towards.

I went to Pub tonight which given my decision to not drink in January was surprisingly easy I had two other friends taking part in the challenge known as Dryathalon, however one of them fell at the first hurdle (went the bar and came back with two pints of Stella). When I came back home I was excited to find out that the latest series of Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is finally on Netflix. I watched one...OK I watched two episodes before going to bed.

I also had an idea for another short comic book strip which I think would work well as a future shock short for 2000AD I've already worked on one short which I will be hopefully sending in sometime this week so I can begin work on the next one.

I think if I want to get anywhere in this industry i'll just have to keep writing.

Friday, 10 January 2014

09th January

Today was a long. Largely because I was up at 0500 hours. Why because that's the ungodly hour I have to be up for work occasionally. I coped for most of the day on a diet of coffee, oh how I love coffee. I'm totally addicted to it but as far as addictions go I think coffee is the healthiest. After I finished work, I came back home and looked over the proposal for the next ASSEMBLE, there is a great selection for the next night and I'm really excited about the company we've chosen to work with Massive Owl, but I can't announce this until Monday so check out the ASSEMBLE blog for updates.

I've also started reading Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. I've already Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. I love Vonnegut's bleak humour it's like someone has looked into the abyss and laughed. His work is a reminder of just how unfair and insane the world is and just what silly little apes are capable off.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

6th, 7th and 8th January

So yeah I know I made a rule that I would do this everyday but rules are made to be broken. The last few days have been fairly busy what with the deadline for Assemble, discussing actors for the next LABB event, Bondage sketch re-writes, Oonagh (my girlfriend) stealing my laptop to do her work on and everything else I've been trying to do this slipped me by.

So what have I been up to, well the deadline for the next Assemble night was today so applications have been coming in thick and fast there are some really exciting projects and me and Hannah (Woods) will make our decision tomorrow. Keep your eyes on the twitter and facebook feeds for details @AssembleNW .

Bondage is also coming together I've finished the re-writing for my sketches and hopefully there will be a cast rehearsal on Saturday.

I've also finished reading Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Gaiman is one my favourite authors his latest book for adults The Ocean at the End of the Lane was my favourite book of 2013. Anansi Boys tells the story of Fat Charlie who on finding out about his estranged and rather embarrassing father has dies learns that he is in fact the Spider Trickster God Anansi, when Fat Charlie asks if his father was a God why did he not get any powers he find out they went to his brother, Spider. Tricksters are really interesting archetype they cause mischief and chaos and are normally very funny.
"Tricksters disrupt the world around them, playful, mischievous, subversive, amoral. Tricksters are a great bother to have around, but paradoxically they are also indispensable heroes of culture"
 Anansi Boys mixes humour with fantasy a delicious mix that makes this a fun and interesting look into the power of storytelling. Gaiman completely gets to grips with the paradox within the character, Spider brings chaos to Fat Charlie's world but from that Chaos comes order. It's a funny book but this humour that comes from somewhere dark, somewhere old, it's a story that Anansi would be proud off.

Tomorrow will be another busy day but I will blog about tomorrow night, I promise.

Monday, 6 January 2014

5th January

This evening I watched the latest episode of Sherlock. I love the BBC version of Sherlock, it's a wonderful reinvention that captures the spirit of of the Conan Doyle books. But I must confess I was slightly apprehensive about tonight's adventure, the trailers showed that it was going to be Sherlock being Watson's best man. Now I love the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Freeman, but part that idea almost felt like it was a sketch, where would be the great mystery that only Holmes could solve, surely he's better than folding napkins? Thankfully I was completely wrong and I feel guilty for ever doubting it.
  Cumberbatch is my favourite Sherlock but I know what you are thinking what would be your top five? Well I'm glad you asked...

1. Benedict Cumberbatch
2. Basil Rathbone
3. Peter Cushing
4. Jeremy Brett
5. Basil the great mouse detective

I love Sherlock and might start to binge on some of my favourite adventures and write about them. The other day I was given the Rathbone adventure "The House of Fear" so will give that a watch before next Sunday's episode.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

January 4th 2014

Today was my first day back at work after a few days off. It was chaos, it always is. Work was tiring and after I finished up, I walked into the bright cold lights of a Tesco Express. I rummaged through the reduced to clear items, overly adventurous yogurt flavours and rotting bags of salad. Nothing that caught my imagination.
  I rang Oonagh and she told me off her plans with friends to go out in Stourbridge, which in my tired and caffeine deprived state my brain registered as Starrybridge, much to Oonagh's amusement. I like the sound of that though, Starrybridge, I began to daydream to imagine what Starrybridge is like. On Starrybridge it's always night time, not night night, twilight, a dark rich blue, and in the stars stand out like they do when I was 17 standing in a field with a can of warm Fosters in my hand, bright white dots. Starrybridge is not so much a place, it's a monument, a feet of engineering which would make Brunnel weep, a long, strong, black and white metallic bridge creeping off into the distant, a bridge between our world and some forgotten world, built by a man or a woman, or maybe something else entirely long before, anyone had dreamt up men and women, long before anyone had dreamt up us.
  Starrybridge hangs between the imagination and reality, people have crossed it, but they've never re-turned, they've never even existed, sometimes you might dream off them. I imagine that this bridge has a watcher, all the important bridges have watchers, he dresses as a gentleman would dress, all coats tails and top hats. One night perhaps something gets over the bridge, something that was never meant to cross something uncontrollable, something mysterious, something dangerous.
  "Do you have a clubcard?" Asked the bored checkout worker, and it was back to the real world.

Friday, 3 January 2014

3rd January

Busy and productive day today, the first of 2014. Most the day was spent working on  a script meeting for Bondage a new sketch show I've been working on with Tom Critch, Mark Till and Gary Lunt based around James Bond. This is obviously rich material for comedy but has also been done quite a lot before, so find original and interesting ways of exploring the material can sometimes prove to be more difficult than first imagined. However we have built up a rich bank of material over the last couple of months and now we had to be disciplined in what we were putting in.

We found the best solutions was rather than cutting whole sketches was to be brutal and cut them down in size. After a quick look in some record and book shops (I walked away with three Sandman Graphic Novels, they were on offer!)

I jumped on a train home, bagging myself a table seat, and started to type away a re-draft on my Funding Cut sketch. In a early scratch performance in Preston Emily (the new minister of defense) and Mark (M) did a fantastic job of making my frankly hammy sketch into something really exceptional, I went through and re-wrote it, now with their characters voice more clearly drawn, it still amazes me how much your writing improves when you have the input of actors, little things like the tone of their voice can add so much flavour  to a scene which can totally exceed  your own imagination. I'm  quite happy with the re-write and I'm really looking forward to what I think will be a really funny and fun night of live music and comedy. I'll keep you up to date as when I know the final details on the performance.

It also seems pretty certain that I will be going to the Edinburgh fringe this year which is very exciting. I had a quick email correspondence with Ruth (a fellow member of writers LABB) the director of my short play for LABB next night "Childhood" Tuesday 18th February

A good start to 2014.

2nd January 2014

Today was a tough day, it was a long day, it was a day we had been expecting but when it came we were still shocked, it still hurt, and perhaps it didn't hurt me as much as it hurt others who I loved. But that didn't make the day any easier for me. Despite the day being sad the despite the day being long, tough and upsetting, it was in many ways a day to be thankful for friends and family and the love they feel for one another. A day to be proud as I sat there and watch my Dad do something I knew he found so hard, I was so proud to see him achieve it. Today, today was a tough day. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

January 1st 2014

In an attempt to become a more disciplined writer I've decided to keep a daily journal, and I am defiantly going to do it every day, even if it kills me, which it probably will do. New year means new resolutions effectively a list of things I am going to try and do and almost defiantly fail at.  Number 1 was this blog, so so far so good...

The rest are writing and career goals, I also want to move out of Cheshire and into the big city (which big city I have no idea yet). The next couple of months are going to be busy for me, Writers LABB  the Liverpool based writing group I'm a member of have their second night in February, I've written a short play for it which will be performed on February 18th. Check out our really cool website here.

ASSEMBLE  the Manchester based theatre collective which I'm a producer will be having it's second event in February and for more details on ASSEMBLE and how to take part check out our blog. The deadline for submissions has been moved to the 8th January.

I'm also in a sketch show based on James Bond called Bondage and I'll post more information about that as and when it happens.

After all that is done with I'm going to start focusing on my first full length play "Removed and Destroyed" which is going into rehearsals in April. To keep up to date with it and the company check out their website.

Last night the NYE celebrations all proved to be a bit to exciting for me as I ended up having a nap on a sofa in the early hours of the morning.

I've also decided to not drink during January in an attempt to save money, lose weight and pray I'm not dependent on the stuff.