Monday, August 29, 2005

Edinburgh: Week Three; Home

Wow. I'm actually home. And my cat ran all the way up the street to greet me when I got back, which was nice, especially as he's an old man and should by rights be on a zimmer frame by now. It's actually been more than a week since my last post, and so I'm struggling to remember what's happened. In no particular order, the shows I have seen include: Stewart Lee, 90s Comedian (a masterclass in stand up comedy and extremely funny); Al Pitcher, Wolf Catcher (such fun it made me giggle heartily in spite of being in my worse mood of the festival); Daniel Kitson, Stories for the Wobbly Hearted (genius, nothing need more be said); Political Animal (in which I made Andy Zaltzman laugh, and he made me laugh even more); Daniel Kitson's Listening Club (a hugely fun way to wake up of a Sunday morning, and great to watch him wetting himself behind his sound system); Stewart Lee's Afternoon Delight (in which he read a fabulous poem about the perfect joke and the death of hack comedy, then read the first few chapters of his beautiful new novel Soiled Doves); aaaand some others which escape my mind right now.

The rollercoaster of emotions continued unabated, for many different reasons, but now I'm home, I'm missing the experience already. Along the way I'm sure my sour face annoyed and bored a lot of people, and I'm sure I offended some people too. If I did, sorry. Mr Hodgson finished his run of shows in perfect style, giving his best performance to an overpacked room, then expressing his delight that his Edinburgh had been his most enjoyable by a long way. Unproper finished on a mixed note, with Iszi giving a great set, and Owen having to deal with an annoying heckler. He handled it consummately and got some huge laughs on the way, but it wasn't the way he wanted to end the run, so my heart felt for him when he came off.

Having done not nearly enough gigs myself whilst there, I hope to rectify it with some more, write new stuff, and try out the ideas I jotted down in my lonely moments. I did a gig at Nicol Edwards, which went well in front of a handful of people, and I got through my storm story with aplomb. I like performing it, and it's about the only true thing I have in my set at the moment. As I said, the plan is to do my own hour next year, but that's going to depend on many factors.

Overall, I have no regrets about the whole experience, and I would do it again, but maybe not for a few weeks at least. If I was a piss poor writer who decided to put star systems on what is essentially just an opinion, I'd be inclined to do that now, but I'm not. Which is good. Reviewers are cunts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Edinburgh: Week Two; Frustration

There's a whole arts festival going on in this beautiful city, there's a book festival going on, there's a film festival starting today, there's the only chance to see a photographic exhibition in Britain, there's even the Scottish Museum, yet it seems all anyone I meet here wants to do is comedy. Which seems a shame, and frustrates me that people aren't taking advantage of the opportunity. It also annoys me that the only socialising I really get to do is comedy based too. No-one really wants to go and wander around the new parliament building. But anyway, bitch over, I really am enjoying the rollercoaster ride of emotions.

I stood in for Mr Owen Niblock on Monday night, as a replacement in Unproper. I did okay, kind of enjoyed it, but I felt creaky and rusty. It was nice to do a lengthy 20-25 minutes though, and I feel much more confident that I can do support work now, given that I went on stage to a cold room, warmed them nicely, and got some pretty big laughs, even with the newer material.

Mr Wilberforce P Hodgson got a five star review from the Guardian on Monday too, calling him Christ-like. That means he's pretty much sold out for the rest of the run now. Alan Davies came along to see him and thoroughly enjoyed the show. He's not nearly as tall as he looks on the telly. And Stewart lee introduced himself to me, which is an incredibly vapid thing to post, but it cheered me up for a few minutes and shook me free from my melancholy for a while.

Iszi and Owen are improving at a dramatic pace, which is great to see, and really makes me proud to be a small part of their endeavour. It makes me want to do my own show next year, but that's a matter for the bank manager.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Edinburgh: Week One; A Gamut of Emotions

I'm not going to talk about comedy. That's my resolution, every day, and every day I end up breaking it. But I've figured out why, it's because of something I have arrogantly labelled Chicken McNugget Social Interaction. Everyone is rushing from place to place, and that means any chat you have with a familiar face is a tiny morsel, and unsurprisingly, the first things people want to talk about is their show and how it's going. By which time they have to leave. There's nothing wrong with this at all, but every now and then I'd like to have a chat about the gorgeous architecture of the city, or those two life sized bronze giraffes on the Leith Road.

The flat in which I am wonderfully being allowed to crash is lovely, and situated near a great little Delicatessan, so I've been getting up each morning and coming back with what Tom has called a Gourmet Breakfast. It's a nice start to the day, a cup of coffee and something different to munch on. This week I've been experiencing my first proper Fringe, and I've visited most of the big name venues, but my favourite place to be at the moment is the Cafe Royal, though I don't know why.

Somehow, I've managed to do quite a bit of writing, and I feel stupidly bohemian sitting in a bar with my notepad, scrawling badly thought out jokes. Gig wise, it's been less proactive. I've done a couple, two of which were great fun, the others were a waste of time.

The biggest sense I've had this week is one of desperation. Not in a bad way, but it seems to be the overwhelming thing in the air, aside from the hops from the nearby beer factory. People are desperate for an audience, for a review, for a break, for a good show, for some sleep. Not having a show myself, well, that's a double edged sword. It means I'm not being sucked in by all of that, but it also means I'm feeling a bit lonely, becasue quite rightly, everyone else in their own little cocoon. Having my own show would be the antidote to that. But I have the shows I am helping out on, and both are going well in their own ways. Good Wil Hodgson is a fantastic hour of storytelling, and has audiences captivated. Wil is where he belongs, doing the kind of comedy he wants to be doing. Unproper is pulling in much bigger audiences than I expected, and is in a lovely room, which is helping iszi and Owen to develop.

I'm rationing myself to seeing what I think will be great shows, and so far I haven't been disappointed. The Little Howard Appeal was a wonderfully charming hour, and so cute it belied the sharp comedy beneath. Also, the Book Club was great, especially Robin Ince, who was really nice to me after my spot at the (brilliant) Last Show Around, hosted by Tom Bell and Andrew O'Neil. But my favourite so far has been An Audience with Dan Nightingale and Josie Long. Dan is good, and Josie is sublimely brilliant. It makes me realise that I can do the comedy I want to do, but makes me realise I am not nearly as good as I want to be. Listening to an interview she did with Iszi also shows the keen insight and intelligence she has and which informs her comedy.

I plan on seeing Stewart Lee and Robin Ince's solo show in the next week. maybe also Craig Campbell. Oh, and I saw John Oliver and Andy Saltzman, which I thoroughly enjoyed, It's good to see some proper satire that doesn't resort to the button pushing laziness of the majority of lame attempts I've seen or heard recently. It's as good as Charm Offensive was, and that's high praise indeed.
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