Tuesday, 31 August 2010

It wasn't even like I was ever there

The last day of the show started early as I had to move rooms. Successfully checked-out, I went and sat in the car for a bit and checked my emails. Nothing of any import and I headed down to Cowgate in time to get there before mid day. Flyering had a slow start made even remotely interesting by a short conversation with Daniel Kitson as I was giving out leaflets. He's lost weight since I last saw him and was quite charming considering the earliness of the day.

Then lovely Heather showed up to offer some help. She had mentioned in the comments on one of the blogs below that she would do her bit and she certainly did. I had my best turn out of the festival (35) and the show featured the return of Alex Marion. Despite me warning the audience that four of them would walk out during his act, they were still surprised when inevitably four did, laughing as they left. I screamed "I know you're working for the government!" at them and it got the desired response from the remaining audience. I packed up my guitar and amp and said goodbye to Count Chavula. I can't really knock the staff at Base nightclub but the venue just wasn't right for my show, which was burdened by problems throughout its run. Despite everything it's been worthwhile and I'm already looking forward to next year.

One thing that was burdened however was me. The amp (a Marshall) is surprisingly heavy and I was quickly ruing my decision to walk it up to my number one Subway. A six-inch "Ham" sub of the day was made extra entertaining by a group of local kids who decided I was cool because I was English, told me they had already met an American today who was a bit cooler than I was but said I would be cool if I did an Australian accent.  I obliged them and it made the Australian couple (who were also in line) chuckle. We all decided to eat in, the Aussies remaining unusually quiet as I berated the nippers and generally wound them up. When I'd had enough (And finished) the kids said "Do one more Australian accent, Mr. Englishman". I refused but said simply "That couple in the corner are really good at Australian accents" and left them to deal with the little tykes themselves.

I got myself a cab back to the University hotel and checked in to my new room. it was much nicer and I decided not to nick any towels out of it (I'd accidentally removed a couple from my previous room).I semi-unpacked, took things easy and then went back up to The Pleasance to see Matthew Hardy's Willy Wonka show for a second time. It was even better than I remembered it. Then I just drank my way round a bit before bumping in to Heather. I suggested a drink in "Three Sisters" by way of a thank you. Big mistake. It was a right Chav's wedding and we went our separate ways after a single pint.

This just meant an earlier-than-usual appearance in The Loft Bar which led to a huge amount of hob-nobbing and I'll try and list the protagonists as best I can. In no particular order:

Andy Linden (Who insisted on buying me a drink)
David Whitney (Who insisted on buying me a drink)
Sean something (Who bought me a Jager Bomb)
Ian Franklin (Who again gave me grief about not playing his show in Chelmsford).
Both the blokes from the Ian Dury show up here (One of which was a founder member of The Rubber Bishops, and still best mates with both Bill Bailey and the other "Bishop", Martin), (We bought each other a drink)
Gareth Morinan (Who I made buy me a drink)
Don Ward (Who bumped into me for the first time in about eight years, said Hi, Paul" and then went off to buy himself a drink).
Roy Walker (Who looked like he'd had a drink)
Sean Hughes (Who had definitely had a drink)
Paul Ricketts and Verity Welch (Who had just got a drink as I was leaving)
Mike Manera (Who probably owes me a drink)
Marnie Whiting (Who was thinking of giving up drink)
Josh Howie's missus (Nursing a drink).
Louis Schaeffer (Had had enough to drink to scare the horses)

...and some other people who I can't remember, probably due to the drink.

I left there too late for The Newington Traditional Fish Bar (To give it it's full title) and got home about 3am. I had one gig left - at in The Pleasance Courtyard) at 1pm.

I slept fitfully despite the improved surroundings and missed breakfast. No matter - I was in a cab at just gone twelve to get me there way before my 12.45pm arrival time. Had a cup of tea with Andy Linden (Well we're not getting any younger) and sound checked. The bill was John Robbins (MC), myself, Stephen Carlin, Ivo Graham and Andrew Bird. It was a lovely show and I probably had my best gig of the whole festival. My agent saw all and we'll see if it transfers into more work.

I went home feeling broken (like a great weight had been lumped on my shoulders) and fell soundly asleep. I woke up at 5pm, checked my watch, convinced myself it was 12.25pm (Well anyone could mix up the big hand a the little hand) and spent a few seconds in wild panic before I realised I had already done the gig at 1pm and it was now tea time.

I took stock of just what a twat I had been and had a shower before getting down for a second viewing of "Music Club". Their last show was frankly a damp squib, sparsely attended and not nearly as good as the first time I had seen them. This was a shame because they were clearly enjoying it again but there just wasn't sufficient audience to get a response. The result of the day was the Music Club" chaps dragging me to a show by a duo called "The Rayguns".

I can't explain them. They were on at 9.45pm, played to a packed crowd and over-ran. They're a music act who do incredibly clever live mash ups of songs that shouldn't go together and were quite excellent. The gig was only marred by Manera's seeming obsession with them. Belgrave had made a load of inflatables (Well, balloon models) which were underwhelming during their song but afterwards when the lead singer was talkingto the crowd they resurfaced and annoyed him enough to tell the audience to stop it.

That is the least accurate review of any gig ever and I recommend you see them. I buggered off up The Loft Bar but had to wait because there was a private party in there. I had one in The Library, decided not to bother and headed out. As I left, I bumped into David Whitney. he was wobbling by the Crepe stall, was clearly back to enjoying the life of a bon viveur but in parting suddenly made clear to me with a succession of gestures who he really reminded me of.

Oliver Reed. A latter-day Oliver Reed - slightly more controlled but clearly in the "Zone". I was home early and packed a little to save time in the morning before I left. One more breakfast, then one hell of a drive.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Richard Stilgoe is all very well but... Jim Bowen?

I'm writing this from in my car. It's all right, I'm not on the A7, I'm parked up outside my old room. It's my old room because I'm changing rooms today. As I am changing rooms (I'm upgrading to an en suite for the weekend, ooh get me) I have to check out of one at 10am but I am not allowed to check in to the other until after 2pm. I am being penalised for giving them more money. Cameron's Britain... Cameron's fucking Britain.

I took my sub (Turkey Breast & Ham which was 40p more than I normally pay because it was not the filthytunabastardsuboftheday but a conventional one, retailing at £2.69) back to the room yesterday afternoon and lazed about for a few hours, reading "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" and enjoying a bit of "Me" time. Then I treated myself to a taxi around 7pm to go to see Belgrave & Manera's "Music Club" at the City Life Cafe. It's on the rival "Free Festival" to "PBH's Free Fringe" (The one that I'm on) but the only people who seem to care about it are the two blokes running the things.

It's a really great show. Two grown men dicking about with records, dressing up as women, singing awful songs and doing an impromptu quiz halfway through that I was astonished to find left an audience unable to answer the question "Which member of Belle and Sebastien is called Sebastien?". It's also in a really great room in a really good spot. I would have been jealous but their crowd was unfortunately small enough for me to feel for them more than anything else.

Anyway, I had a chat with Manera (They're both called Mike) afterwards about interviewing them for my podcast and he said he had to rush off but we could do it some other time. I buggered about for a couple of minutes finishing my drink off and then, on a whim, decided to nip up to The White Horse to thank Jools Constant for doing my show at lunchtime. When I got there Mike Manera was in the front bar with the bloke he'd gone to meet.  Jools asked me if I wanted to open his show as he was an act down (How often does that happen?) I was happy with that arrangement (I had a lot of time to kill) and as I was introduced saw Mike Manera sit down. I didn't have my guitar with me so just did a few minutes of stand up and buggered off down to Canon's Gait to do a bit of flyering. I bumped into Bennet Arron and we went for a couple of pints in Bannermans (Where we saw Mike Manera). It turns out that he's a massive sci fi nut as well. Two rapidly emptied glasses of Deuchars IPA later and we were writing a show together for next year. Hmm.

Well I'd eked out the day as long as I could - there was now no choice but to go up to Base, pick up my guitar and yomp up to The Meadow Bar which was two thirds of the way home for me even though I wouldn't be going home after it. I was booked in for an 11.30pm slot in their late night "Pick Of The Fringe".

The Meadow Bar is my sort of place. The Clash were on the jukebox as I walked in and the clientele most likely would not have ever described themselves as "clientele". It has  an upstairs room that holds about forty people and bizarrely is the only way to the ladies toilets so during your performance there is a steady stream (Sorry, maybe not the best word) of women walking past you with full bladders. No-one bats an eyelid.

Imran Yusef was compering the show. He's been short listed for a newcomer award this year.and will find out at 2pm today if he has won. I'm pleased for him, especially as I found this out later off his agent and not from the (rather humble) man himself. I was headlining which allowed me to have another couple of pints, one of which was bought by comedian Dan Willis who is a very smooth operator, is running two shows this year and is cleaning up, apparently.

Oh and Mike Manera was in there, watching.

The gig was a bit of a beauty as it goes and I sloped out of there about quarter to one, hot-footed it back to Base to drop my guitar off again and then retraced my steps almost exactly up to the Gilded Balloon for a potential last hurrah in the Loft Bar. On the way in I stopped briefly to say hello to a triumvirate of queer bedfellows - Terry Alderton, Tim Vine and Jim Bowen. Sadly none of them were coming upstairs. It was exceptionally quiet when I got there and the only person I even vaguely knew was Johnny Vegas. I went over to say hello but he was actually far more vague about our very casual and occasional relationship in as much as he couldn't remember who the fuck I was and just smiled and shook hands like I was one of his fans. I am as a matter of fact but we've also worked together quite a bit and if I hadn't found the whole thing quite so funny I might have got a bit upset.

No matter, Gareth Morinan appeared holding a glass of white wine (The ponce) and we settled ourselves on the bench of anonymity just by the door. We weren't anonymous for very long. Ed Byrne (Who I have not spoken to in a very long time) spotted me and we talked openly and frankly about how each other were wankers before shaking hands and I introduced him to Gareth, who was very impressed to meet Ed Byrne. I have half a dozen stories about Ed that are all pre-2001 so I'll not go into them now. I suspect he has one or two about me as well but we'll leave it there. Greg Davies came and went (He really does look and sound like a giant Rick Mayall) and it was very funny watching him talk to Gareth. Greg is (I think ) 6'7" and Gareth is 4'10" or something like that

Then Mike Manera walked in.

We had a gas for a bit and then Ed was seemlessly replaced by the mastermind behind "The Comedy Club" and one of the players on the UK comedy circuit, Ian Franklin. He had a very intense chat with me about getting my agent to force his booker (Leah) to get me a gig in Chelmsford. When I say "intense" I mean I stood there a little bemused as he badgered me to get myself a gig in Chelmsford. I'll acquiesce, of course. Anyone who wants me to go to Chelmsford that badly is not to be messed with.

I can't remember leaving but I can remember buying an Angus burger outside and using it as survival food to get me to The Newington for fish and chips. This was gluttonous in the extreme but worth it as Robert DeNiro was working again. He smiled at me as I walked in, held his hands out and said "Not you again" before closing his eys, holding his head back and smiling. He had become Robert DeNiro.. I burst out laughing and exclaimed "DeNiro!", everyone in the chipper looked up from what they were doing, looked at him and absolutely pissed themselves laughing. It was a truly beautiful moment to end a decidedly odd day, really. Oh I found out his name as well - he's from Northern Ireland (I'd guessed that by his accent) and he's called "Vaz". THAT I was not expecting.

I got into my room about 3am smelling of fish and beer. Fortunately, Mike Manera was not there.

Friday, 27 August 2010

A short, sharp shock.

I was having breakfast by 9.10am. This time round it was scrambled eggs and bacon on brown toast, weetabix with milk, orange juice, coffee and fruit to be removed. Fortunately I had remembered my banana-nicking jacket which it turns out also had an apple pocket. An apple pocket? I am an ithief. It has really been the only successful bit of the day. I was on Cowgate by midday flyering my little plants off. And Chris the emo flyer person was also showing greater resolve then normal.

We got eleven people in.

Eleven.

Three of those were Tiddles, his son and his son's mate.

It was a really good laugh show, Jools Constant had a good gig and funny things happened throughout. I reckon that would be worth more than an average of 45p per person, don't you? I reckon if you sit and watch someone else perform for the best part of an hour, you would expect to pay more than 1p per minute. Not my audience. Not an audience that know a quarter of the profits are going to Amnesty. Not an audience that know damn well that obviously they are more under pressure to contribute than in a full audience, obviously because they know the compere can see them.

Tiddles' fiver brought it up to £9.80 or something. Otherwise I may have cried. It's the last show tomorrow. Hopefully it will be nice and busy. I went up to get my "Sub of The Day" from Subway.

It was fucking Tuna.

Chris Addison in "cogent point" shock on Royal Mile.

I trust by now you have realised that the last thing that happens in the previous blog leads directly to the first thing that happens in the latest.

I missed breakfast.

Well I didn't so much miss it as refuse it at ten minute intervals between 8am and 10am when the kitchen shut. That is both the beauty and the curse of the "snooze" button. I was actually still snoozing beyond 11am but it was badly needed. To my shame I got a cab to The Pleasance to save me walking all the way to Cowgate as I was both achy and late, decided to skip the "Sub Of The Day" and try and hold out to eat until after 3.30pm. Within fifteen minutes of that decision I had a gob full of salt and vinegar "French Fries" (A retro snack of some distinction) which encumbered flyering a little, to say the least. There weren't nearly as many people about as I was expecting and this reflected in a far smaller audience than I expected, resulting in my second-lowest audience, a paltry fourteen people.

Nevertheless, they (And my guest Andy Linden - he of dying pig fame) had a really good time and I was rewarded with a larger-than-expected bucket. If you're reading this for the first time - that is not rhyming slang. The PBH Free Fringe is effectively "Indoor busking".

With an hour and a half to kill before opening a show for Simon Lilley in the same venue, I decided to get my Italian BMT from the Subway and then go and investigate a few other PBH venues. I opted for my most convenient Subway, which was on South Bridge. Big mistake - THEY'D RUN OUT OF TOMATOES!

The 66 points I accrued on my clubcard felt shameful and dirty. That branch is dead to me now.

Here are the results of my survey of other venues (Possibly with intermittent other stuff):

Royal Mile Tavern - 40 capacity approx. Great flyering location, possibly good place for one-man show.
White Horse - 40 capacity. Excellent showcase spot and easy to play when only half-full.
Canons Gait - 100 capacity. Might be daunting to take on myself. Possible location for double-header?
Bump into Chris Addison on Royal Mile (High Street). Have surprisingly involved conversation about how Stand Ups move on to other things but then always want to go back to Stand Up. His theories are based on the previous night's (probably drunken) teachings of Phill Jupitus. I am in total agreement. It's very rare for me to disagree with either Chris Addison or Phill Jupitus. This annoys me.
Whistle Binkies - 100 capacity. Great room but only separated from rest of pub by curtain.
Bannermans - 100 capacity. Improvement on WB but limited spot times as bands after 8pm
Cabaret Voltaire - (THREE ROOMS. (Large Downstairs) Very old, cavernous, great spot for idea I had earlier (I realise this makes no sense to you but I'm not going to divulge an ingenious idea for a show next year now, am I?) (Smaller Downstairs) Odd two-tiered thing. Don't think I'd be comfy. (The Speakeasy) Good room for Star Trek show? 80 seater? Nice warm room, good sound.

It was a worthwhile exercise. I then went back to Whistle's where I bumped into Robbie Bonham and had my first pint of the day. This followed a really enjoyable opening set in the show "The dog ate my birthday cake" with Simon Lilley at 5pm. Now (I thought) I had a two hour wait to go and see a show called "Music Club" which is basically Mike Manera and Mike Belgrave talking about their favourite LPs. How could I not love it. Sadly I didn't notice on the flyer that it said (Not 26th). I hung about outside with my second pint of the day and struck up a conversation with a statue and an alcoholic. The statue in question was called Colin and was taking a break from street performing as a statue. The alcoholic was called Martin and was fucking leathered. I said my goodbyes about 6.55pm, went downstairs to stand in an empty room for five minutes then came back out again, said "Hello" again and left rather sheepishly.

No matter - There was always "Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting".

SBJM are a previously-discussed New York female sketch duo that I took a shine to on one of the first nights I was here, having seen them at PBHASC. Sorry about the abbreviations but if you've read this whole blog you'll know what I mean. It would have been quicker to have spelt that out than tried to explain it. Oh for crying out loud.

They were on in Whistle Binkies and it put me off Whistle Binkies. I got a pint of Deuchars IPA in (A particular favourite) and settled myself down on the comfiest bench in the house. They got a crowd of about 40 people but their reluctance to use anything other than ambient microphones meant that I could often hear the murmur of the pub beyond it was a bit distracting. I also missed some of the things they said and then when they did use the mics they were too loud. Nevertheless, their sketches are great and they went down really, really well. From there it was a little trot back round to The White Horse to do Jools' gig again. Robbie opened, some people I didn't know went on in the middle and I closed. It was excellent. Jools knows how to fill a room and it did make it very easy for us. One of the people I didn't know was and odd little thing called Becky. She sounded annoyingly like Lily Allen and quite clearly had an inner rage that would have terrified most men. She also did a really fucking disgusting act that clearly was a true story and I felt for the girl.

She sounded perfect for Shaggers.

Then I got a text from Nick Coppin asking me to do Shaggers.

Then I asked her if she wanted to come to Shaggers as it might be a good environment for her material and I might be able to get her on.

Then I got another text from Nick Coppin asking me if I would compere Shaggers and if I knew of any other acts who could do it.

Serendipity? Possibly. We walked up to Three Sisters where I got a pint of Guinness downstairs until Nick arrived. I took a few flyers off him and headed on to Cowgate for some late-night flyering (I was getting 25% of the bucket for MC-ing so thought I'd try and get a few more in). I persuaded three Irish girls and the fattest, loneliest geek I have ever seen to come in. Rob Rouse ran past me at surprising speed, waving and smiling as he went. That is indeed one way to avoid getting flyered.

I started the show fine but the audience were really flat. Everyone struggled, no-one appeared to enjoy it that much, I was heartily embarrassed and then there was a healthy enough bucket at the end of it all for Nick to give me £9.36.

£9.36!

I would have been SO FUCKED OFF if someone had DARED to give me £9.36 after a conventional gig but in Edinburgh it was PURE PROFIT! Good job I had only had one pint of KopperBLEURGHHHH pear cider up there or I might have tried to fellate him, such was my joy.

I went outside into the Three Sisters courtyard and my friend called and asked how the weather had been. I said "Miraculously it has not rained for two days". It immediately started pissing down and I had to take cover. Edinburgh, you are a cruel, cruel mistress.

The rain subsided and I walked home via The Newington Fish Bar. Not only is it the best chip shop in Edinburgh but when I said I wanted "Salt and sauce on the chips and vinegar on the fish", the Irish bloke behind the counter gave what he considered to be a knowing and appreciative look (This is how the Bedlamburgh purists would their fish supper) but in fact handed me the best Robert DeNiro impression I have ever seen in a chip shop. I was home just before 2am. Nice early nights, that's what I like, nice early nights.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

really?

Despite the very restful evening (I did indeed stay in, only nipping out about 11pm to get Singapore-style noodles), I still missed breakfast with some ease and fortunately my voice had recovered a little more. This was a good job because I had an extremely busy day ahead.

I got out of my room earlier than usual having successfully showered, shaved, tidied and sorted out emails etc. I also enjoyed listening to my Punky! radio co-host do the show on his own. But that's a private joy for me and not to be discussed (Rather like "Shaggers"). Although I was doing Edcom in The Pleasance Courtyard at one o'clock I took a minor detour down Nicolson Street to go to my favourite Subway by The Festival Theatre, now armed with my loyalty card. Wednesday and Thursday are my favourites. The "Sub Of The Day"s are ,respectively, Turkey Breast & Ham and the astounding Italian BMT. I ate in the shop (I had time) and accrued a massive 66 points on the card (it's triple points for the first month - cowafuckingbunga). In the developed world I care little for money-saving when it comes to food, but in Scotland I scrimp and save like a wee schemie.

I got to The Pleasance early and was passed by Richard Stilgoe. I'll be perfectly honest with you. I thought he was dead. Edcom was hosted by Susan Murray and she gave me a lovely intro, I had a great gig performing the best bits of "Hung Parliament...", working on the basis that none of them were going to go straight from there to mine. I was just about right. I didn't get to Cowgate until gone half past one and got a couple of quizzical looks from the already arrived Alan (Count Chavula) and comedian Paul Savage who (bless him) had put out the chairs for me in the venue. Yesterday's biscuits were still in the amp and I was good to go. I flyered the best I could and saw my flyboy Chris up the street with his right foot on a wall, James Dean style, head bowed and limply holding my flyers out like an emo tramp selling the Big Issue. He's worth his weight in gold.

Only having a short amount of time to advertise did mean I expected a smaller turnout than on Tuesday and sadly I was right, clawing in twenty people, including the lovely Marnie (Geoff Whiting's wife) and her evil MILF buddie who had nearly killed me with Rothmans a couple of days previously. She was named and shamed during the show, everyone had a good time, my guest (Robbie Bonham) was terrific (And had interesting Hitchin-related news for me) and we all got out of there with our heads help high. Not a bad bucket as well which I suspected would be important as I was out for the duration.

Next stop The Gilded Balloon. I had a comp ticket for Andy Linden's "I Kid You Not" show. It's terrifying. I went with Nick Wilty (up here for a couple of days laughing at everyone going mad) and by the end of it we came close to holding each other's hands for comfort. Andy tells a story abour being made to kill a pig in Cuba, is a terrific actor and frankly became the dying pig. The entire audience looked on in shock. It's a rather powerful event. Terry Alderton would have called it "An Interesting piece". I'd recommend it to anyone.

Anyway, that came and went and we had a beer with Andy, his wife and hilarious little son (He wasn't on the beer) after the show. She's called Liz, used to do Stand Up and is also fabulous. Then Nick decided I was his new best mate and accompanied me to The Pleasance to see Matthew Hardy's "Veruca Salt" which is a play featuring himself and Julie |Dawn Cole. Nick made so many new best friends on the way to the gig with me that despite an hour and a half to do a ten minute walk we were still fucking late and missed the first minute, much to my chagrin.

Note to self: Don't walk anywhere with Nick Wilty.

It's brilliant. It's a really weird and dark and funny and entertaining and sharply observed and everything else that makes something good and heart warming oh and Julie Dawn Cole is in fact the original Veruca Salt in the original Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (The one with Gene Wilder). Obviously we had a beer with them afterwards  and she said, rather coquettishly, "I got your email". This is to do with a business idea we had the other day (When I didn't know she was the real Veruca Salt). Anyway I gave her a kiss on both cheeks as I left because I wanted to tell everyone I had kissed Veruca Salt.

It was now about twenty to nine which meant I had exactly twenty minutes to do a twenty-one minute yomp up to The Dragonfly at the other end of Grassmarket to be guest compere at "The Bald And The Beautiful". I was the baldest guy there, there were twenty people in who had handily, Noah's Arc style, come in two-by-two.

Two Canadians
Two Kiwis
Two Scottish
Two English
Two Spanish
Two more English
Two Welsh
Two Irish
Two Americans
Two more English.

I took the piss out of all of them, had a great laugh, put the first act on and went to get a beer. She was angry with me for doing too well at the start. I hadn't done it on purpose. The next act asked me if I would "Do a bit" before him to get the audience buzzing again. I did (I worked really hard at this show), David Whitney called (I answered the phone on stage) and then I caught said act doing the international sign for "Wind it up" so put him straight on. He was obviously angry with me for doing too well at their show. It was just one of those things. They're new acts and I've been doing this for the best part of twenty years. I'm not particularly showing off about this, it just comes down to experience and I've got a lot more. At the end of it all I forced the crowd to put every spare penny they had into their bucket and left without taking any of it. I had another long dash to get down Canongate to do PBHASC. I had twenty minutes to do a twenty one minute journey.

Running through Edinburgh with a guitar on your back is bad enough but when you get to your next gig and realise they've started late and you could have walked it is just a monumental piss off of the highest order.

I have no idea who was on in the first half but Bennett Arron was compering and said it wasn't that great. The second half was identical to my first appearance there and this time I have remembered the guy-on-before-me's name. He is called Nick Hodder. He has some excellent jokes and some really funny ideas but he's a rough diamond and didn't do as well as before. I again closed with the best bits from "Hung Parliament" as it was now 11.30pm and I knew no-one in their right mind would be at the show today.

David Whitney called again. This could only mean one thing - the Loft Bar loomed large.

I met up with him further up The Royal Mile, again had to beg the manager of Opium to let me in to Base to put my guitar in (The doorman said to me, when asked, that tonight's manager was called Ian and I would recognise him because he had a tattooed head) and we hot-footed it up to the Gilded Balloon. Straight into the Loft (I had to show my pass, grr) to be surrounded by some of the usual suspects, Veruca Salt, my agent Joss, Andy Linden, Matt Hardy, basically all the people I'd seen all day and then a load more. I got a text from an old friend, a phone call from Tiddles (The man who runs the doors of Hitchin) to tell me he was also in Edinburgh and doing security in Festival Square), information from Verity Welch that I did NOT need regarding her "Significant Other" Paul Ricketts (Very funny), put the world of comedy to rights with Jools Constant, caught up with Janey Godley and her daughter Ashley, missed Phill Jupitus, didn't get in to Late & Live, drank a load of booze and had a couple of fags when my agent wasn't looking.

Also, in the midst of an "Isn't Edinburgh odd" conversation with Veruca Julie (I doubt she would like that title but she's a game bird) I said I had seen Richard Stilgoe in The Pleasance courtyard that afternoon which surprised me because I thought he was dead. She remarked

"Oh he's looked like that for years, darling".

I got chips and cheese on the way home because it was the only thing the takeaway would sell me, scoffed it in transit and hit the sack about quarter to four in the morning. It had been quite a day.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

...You forgot the biscuits, you idiot!

Waking up at midday shouting "Fuck!" a lot was not the ideal start to the day and I had to forego the usual pleasantries such as eating and shaving to get a cab to Cowgate in double-quick time to start flyering for my show and to set the room up. I wasn't the only one who was late. Alan the landlord had suffered even less sleep than me and didn't show up until twenty to two - fifty minutes before show time. I gamely handed out leaflets to very few people in appalling conditions and then went to procure some throat lozenges.

The previous night's excesses had once again threatened to destroy my voice so I nipped off to buy some lockets at the shop where I have begun procuring daily (recession busting) Maryland Cookies for 69p. With hindsight I'm amazed it's lasted a week but this time have taken steps (As of yesterday) to look after it. More of that later, but "Free Biscuits" has been far more successful at getting people into my show than anything else.

Alan showed up looking like a Chav vampire and said something indecipherable before hiding away from the light and doing things with bins. I got my joint-second-lowest attendance so far (18) and my second crappest bucket (£9.81) which equated to a paltry £2.46 for amnesty. The show was unremarkable, my guest Caroline Mabey was good fun and I did it all the other way round to normal because my friend Jo was in but had to leave early to get a train and I wanted her to hear the songs. Note to self - balls to Jo, you can't go changing the show round on a whim halfway through its run. It doesn't work as well.

I came back to my room via "Subway" to procure their "Sub Of The Day" (Ham) and hung about feeling sorry for myself - my voice was really bad. I had some phonal spray which eased it but I could feel it on the cusp. I headed out again just after 7pm to see my friend Kerry singing songs from her new album in the Jazz Bar on Chambers Street.

Jazz.

JAZZ!

Now I hate Jazz as much as the next man. I also hate it when I have to get a cab to somewhere because it's pissing it down when I've had my weakest bucket (when the show has actually happened - It was pulled last Tuesday). I also hate it when the traffic is so bad that the cab costs a quid more than it should do. I also hate it when I get to Chambers Street and have to ask open mic spots where The Jazz Bar is. I also hate it when they don't know but finally I find a little boarded-up bar with a sign saying "The Jazz Bar" and another one saying "Closed due to flooding". I also hate it when my own lack of attention to detail leads me to read (And then disregard) instructions and walk completely the wrong way to where the gig has been moved to "The Southsider" on (I think) West Richmond Street. I chose West Nicolson Street: Well, it had "West" in it.

"The Southsider" is a pub. About thirty people had braved the weather and the change of venue to be there and after 35 minutes (I just couldn't watch any more) I had to leave as they clapped the umpteenth trumpet solo. I will probably get told off for calling it a trumpet. It was one of those ones with a tub of margerine on the end of it so you can go "Mwa, mwa, mwaaaaaaahhhhhhh...." like when Tom tries to catch Jerry but accidentally gets hit in the face with an anvil or something. Everybody thought the show was brilliant. I thought my brain was going to explode. Something was apparently in 7/8 time. Take nothing away from Ms. Hodgkin - she's a really terrific singer. I just fucking hate Jazz.

Anyway my reasons for leaving were twofold. I also had to go via my venue to pick up my amp as my next gig was at 9.30pm for the Laughing horse free fringe at Espionage and they had nothing to plug my guitar in to.

They call the show "Pick Of The Fringe". I'm not sure about that but anyway I was on last, it went OK and a few people who had been at it showed up to today's "Hung Parliament". I then went to drop my guitar back at "Base". It was locked. "Base" isn't open on a Monday night so I had to drag the bar manager from the nightclub next door round to open up for me. I was mightily relieved - it is over a mile from where I'm staying and I had both the guitar and amp on me and not enough money for a taxi and chips. Instead, once relieved, I yomped past the Newington Fish Bar, walked back to it when I'd realised what I'd done and was home for half past midnight. Over the day I had made nodding contact with Andrew Lawrence, handed a flyer to a woman who had already been to my show and got a little uppity about it, had a "Vocalzone" sweet off Kerry  (Star jazz singer) and then settled down to a late "Fish Of The Week" (Hake) supper. Hake is a lot more sustainable than Cod. I prefer my fish to be conscientious.

I went to sleep around 2am (a good hundred pages into "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest") and woke up at 5.46am AGAIN. This town may well have beaten me by the weekend and if it doesn't, the journey home might as I am making a detour to Ollerton to pick up a section of my vinyl record collection that has been with a bloke called Luke and various members of his family since I left the area three and a half years ago and we have finally been able to arrange a time when he's around the same time I am. He's got the rest of them in Birmingham. I found out via a text that was so long it came in two bits. I don't know - people who waffle on, eh?

I am going to sum up today very quickly. The weather was miserable again, breakfast was excellent again but I didn't have my fruit-nicking jacket on so I had to put the banana down my 501s. It might have gone un-noticed but for the two apples I had already stuffed down them. I got glances of admiration and giggles from a group of Japanese student girls. Flyering was boring again, the venue was depressing again and then I had my best audience so far (32), my second best bucket (£32.76) and a really good time. Mandy Muden was really funny, my voice survived but I forgot to give out the biscuits so DOUBLE BISCUITS FOR THE AUDIENCE TOMORROW! YUM! Then I went for a quick soft drink (I know - a fucking soft drink, but needs must) with a guy in the crowd called Neil who used to be a comic, also used to be the president of Mensa and last spoke to me precisely thirteen years ago in Brighton (Of course he knew that). He's doing an improv show but it clashes with a lot of things I've said I'll go to over the next few days and there is also the small matter of me HATING FUCKING IMPROV which I did at least tell him. I'm still getting over the Jazz, for Pete's sake.

On the way home I bought a box of vocalzone for myself and the "Sub Of The Day" at the Subway opposite the festival hall (Meatball Marinara - promising much but bizarrely delivering less than the ham the day before). The guy behind the counter was having a coughing fit when I walked in. When he'd calmed down and I asked him if he was all right he just said "Don't have the jalapenos". He gave me a "Subway card" that I can register online and then get a free sub. I'll probably take them up on it. Their "Sub Of The Day" offers are doing me proud. Mark Watson walked past me on South Clerk Street and he had a woman with him who was presumably his wife or girlfriend. I hope he's told her he's not really Welsh. The rest of us found out ages ago.

I'm going to try and move my (borrowed) car a bit closer to the room I'm in then I'm going to have a bath and read some more of the final volume in the Stieg Larsson trilogy of conspiracy, intrigue, ultra-violence and the occasional nipple. Comedy is the religion of choice for the month of August and Tuesday is its day of rest.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Just a normal Edinburgh day.

The problem with going to bed early is that you wake up early. On Saturday night I was in bed by 2am. On Sunday morning I woke up at 5.46am, which was obviously a major error of judgement. Admittedly I had a lot to do but nevertheless - It was foolhardy, plain foolhardy.

I finished off "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and lazed around until about seven when I dragged myself out of my pit for breakfast. I spoilt myself actually. I had a glass of orange juice, glass of diet coke, cappuccino, coco pops with milk (They do actually work - it did go all chocolatey), a banana, a plum and scrambled eggs topped with grated cheese on brown toast. Well I had a feeling it would be a while before I ate again. I listened to a couple of back episodes of "Punky! Radio" and got about some admin and then walked up to Cowgate for 12.45pm to meet my now sole flyer, Chris (The lovely Lucy had departed on Saturday night). He popped off up Grassmarket to no doubt hand out flyers exclusively to the old, infirm and penniless so as to make my life harder and I stood there flyering myself for about two minutes before Jimmy Carr walked up and said "Hi - finally doing your bit for the festival, then?".

We are acquaintances rather than friends and there was a slightly awkward silence as we reviewed our positions relative to each other and then he hopped off up to The Pleasance to be famous and stuff. He's a really nice guy and I don't particularly envy him his life. I think he likes Edinburgh. During the festival he can walk about without being mobbed/asked to sign autographs/pose for snapshots. It was a grim couple of hours  - drizzly, overcast, not particularly warm but there were quite a lot of people about and I actually put more chairs out (45) than normal (30). What a mistake that was!

Exactly the same number of people came along as every day, regardless of flyering, posters, weather, traffic, population, how well I've done the day before, how well I've done at other people's shows etc. etc. Between twenty and thirty only this time they sat at the back on the extra chairs so I had to move them forward This is the 2.30pm audience for Paul B. Edwards at the festival. Between twenty and thirty and a little bit older than I would like. My good friend Tim Shoesmith was in the audience. Tim is a very good magician but I think his heart lies in comedy. Whether he will successfully cross over remains to be seen but he is a nice bloke.The show (For once) went without a hitch and the biscuits (Maryland Cookies) were exceptionally well received. After the show Tim took me for a couple of pints in Bobby's bar round the corner. I left him just before five to nip down to Espionage (Which I walked past twice) where I had a gig on the rival Free Fringe, run by Alex Petty. There was nothing to plug my guitar into, the compere wasn't very good, the crowd were awfully quiet and it was all a bit excruciating, really. I am of course doing another one for him at 9.30pm tonight.

Next stop? The White Horse on Canongate. I love doing gigs in there and this one was no exception. Ben Van Der Velde compered and did a perfectly good job, I unleashed a bit of "Hung Parliament" on them and it was all fine. Oh and I had a pint of IPA as well, of course. I shuffled off down the road (Having recovered my lead which I had left there the other day - minor result) to meet up with Bennett Arron and even did a bit of flyering for him which resulted in him getting SEVEN EXTRA PEOPLE. I know because I recognised them as people I had definitely handed flyers to. I then watched his show and it's good. It's funny and interesting and I recommend it. It's also free.

At just after half past eight I met up with my agent Joss and we had a Turkish mezze in a restaurant over the road from Canon's Gait. I've hardly seen her while I've been here so I think she paid out of guilt (We also had a rather nice bottle of red to wash it down with). It turns out she's promoting that woman who is "Stifflers Mom" in American Pie. Apparently she's late every day and is winding up her crew but her show is really good so that's all right. These little titbits of information always amuse me. There's a very matter-of-factness about Bedlamburgh that leaves a student techie furious with a Hollywood Film Star because he's already got her intro music on and she's outside having a fag.

Joss departed to do something important but I can't remember what and said she'd meet me in the Loft Bar of the Gilded Balloon, having furnished me with a pass! Good agent... I went down to Dragongfly to meet up with Alex Marion and persuaded him, the other guy in his show, his wife and another random to carry on up to The Blue Blazer. Alex had been sold on the rum, exclaiming "I'm from Mauritius - It's a spice island! I LOVE rum". Then he thought about it and said he would only go if they had Mauritian rum. I bet him they would without having the faintest idea. They did.

Of course they did.

Alex bought the drinks and I enjoyed a pint of Orkney-brewed "Dark Island" and a chaser of the same rum that nearly finished me off the day before. I had a really good laugh with them all actually but I couldn't persuade Alex's beautiful Polish wife to leave him which was a shame because, certainly, at that point, I did think she would have been much better off with me.

She wouldn't, off course.

They headed off back in the direction of The Pleasance and I took a walk round to the Beehive where I was a "Special guest" at Gareth Morinan's "New Day" show which was frankly big on idea but small on both audience and execution. Actually it was a fucking mess, we were all pissed (I'd had another pint of IPA by then) and this conceptual chat show descended into abject farce as the audience of eight people heckled each other, tried to get off with each other (Actually, she was a very sweet young thing - I'd probably have done the same half my life ago) and were generally disruptive. I was also rather disruptive as it goes and heckled Gareth himself at one point. I think we can blame that on the rum. Yes let's do that. Naughty rum. He got a bucket of £12 which was impressive, considering, and offered me four of it, which I refused to accept. I really am no businessman. It was now 1am and my working day was over. Time to go for a pint.

I can't remember who I walked up to the Gilded Balloon with but I think they were nice. I also very much enjoyed using brashness and confidence to get past security into the Loft Bar, despite the fact I had a pass. It was more fun pretending I hadn't to myself and subversively slipping by them. The next three hours are something of a blur but involved a whiskey with David Whitney, a good long chat about someone else's kids with someone else who was in her fifties, could best be described as "MILF" in the most flattering way possible (She was a very fit older woman) and was friends with Geoff Whiting's wife Marnie, who was thrilled to discuss the last time we had met - around a decade ago, in surprising detail.

In amongst all that I was ignored by Phil Kay but had Jim Jefferies bizarrely come up to me and start singing "I Love Ross On Wye" to me. The fact that one or two other people began singing along with him was even more bizarre. Handing out all those CDs to comedians was clearly not entirely in vain. I saw Mr.Whiting himself very briefly but had missed Joss by about twenty minutes. No matter though - her daughter Georgia was up there with her mate. Their discovery became a minor mission for me after a very welcome conversation with Phill Jupitus, who, again, I haven't seen for several years but we picked up where we had left off. He's a really nice man but on hearing Georgia was around became slightly desperate to see her. He and my agent have always been good friends and there was something to do with some connection surrounding Phil and Georgia's birth (Not like that). By this point guinness was also flowing and my legs were getting a bit wobbly. I'd saved enough cash for a taxi so got one and the next thing I remembered was waking up at midday today saying "Fuck!" a lot. I'll leave it there for now - this blog's turning into "War And Peace".

Sunday, 22 August 2010

...And then fourteen years later...

I'm going to have to change the time of day I write this thing as it's getting too easy to forget things as I attempt to straddle days. Since the last (almost deleted) blog I have had a great show at The White Horse, an equally good one at "Shaggers" (It turns out my pain is in fact your joy), been approached in the street by an agent, angered Peter Buckley Hill over nothing (Although that appears to be relatively easy to do this year - the poor man is under immense pressure), had a breakthrough in my show (I've started sitting down, it's done us all the world of good) and finally fully understood the beauty of Edinburgh: yesterday I didn't so much as bat an eyelid when a man walked past me dressed as Elizabeth I because I was too busy staring across the street at batman and a six foot cane toad having an altercation about flyering rights on the Royal Mile.

I also managed to stay out until 4am again with little to report except I am partially guilty for Nick Coppin losing his manbag and for that, I apologise.

Today, however, I want to fill you in on a rare and serendipitous poignancy.

I doubt I'll ever use that sentence again.

The guest on my show today was one Anna Keirle. Anna is Cornish, delightful, a handy enough drinker and has a pirate fetish. Every day, as discussed, four people have walked out of my show. Today they didn't. While she was on three people actually came in.  Admittedly they were her friends, but it was still a breakthrough. Also one of them was (the rather fit and utterly charming) Caroline Ferriday (I may have spelt her surname wrong) who is a BBC radio presenter.

After the show (No walk outs), Anna suggested we went to a bar called "The Blue Blazer". To be perfectly truthful when she told me where it was (The other end of Grassmarket) I honestly considered just making my excuses and leaving. Fourteen years ago I did a show at The Fringe in that part of the city that went horribly wrong. It's the reason I've never done another show until now. I've not even been to that part of Edinburgh, could tell you nothing about its layout and certainly wasn't familiar with "The Pubic Triangle", a little area where there are three lapdancing clubs on a sort of a "triangleabout" that also contained said bar.

Anna had spent three weeks in there (by the sounds of things, every day) at a previous festival excursion of her own and was keen to meet up with two old Scottish rogues called Davey and Sinbad.

It has seventy two different sorts of rum.

We walked into the bar where we were greeted by said ageing reprobates and the rum began to flow. A couple of nips in (And a pint of "Dark Island" Orkney Ale) I took the air outside and stopped, astonished, as across the street was the very bar I had had my 1996 calamity. It had changed its name but was definitely the same bar. Our pub was adjacent to the massage parlour where I had managed to get a poster up - thus becoming the first ever performer to get a poster up in a massage parlour. The pub, now called the Footlights bar but formerly the "Footlights & Firkin" was also the scene - that year - that Peter Buckley Hill transformed Edinburgh at a single thrust by doing his show (At the end of the night) for free. Simon Dowd, Brendon Burns and myself all struggled to get audiences but Peter's was "Sold" out, packed every night. From this success, he built up, over many years, the Free Fringe to what it is today...

...And I am doing a show on it.

Obviously nobody else found this nearly as interesting as I did but it was an excuse for more rum. We got in there about 4pm. We were out of there by 6.30pm and I was MUCH the worse for wear. Sinbad and Davey had not been inconsiderate in keeping my emotions in check by keeping me topped up with rum. Anna went back to her hostel, I had a battered sausage and went to watch a female acoustic act for no ther reason than it would be soothing and might be the equivalent of a lullaby and help me drop off. It nearly did.

Oh and Nice Guy James was doing the teching for her. I think he was more surprised to see me at her show than I was to see him teching it, but nevertheless, it was surprising. It was windy when I left the University at mid day. This turned to bright sunshine mid afternoon. This turned to the heaviest rain I have seen so far this year at The Fringe. Fortunately the brolly I bought for a pound yesterday held firm. I nipped down to Canon's Gait where I enjoyed a beer with Bennet Arron and Paul Sinha. Frankly they paid me little attention as they were too caught up in a pointless yet entertaining argument over who was more fucked up. Bennet is a Welsh Jew and Paul is a gay Asian doctor. I'll give it to Bennet on points.

I decided to leave early, get a "sub of the day" and a cab home. This became a trek up the Royal Mile, fifteen minutes flyering for a comedienne with the surname Edwards, a near miss with buying a drink in a chav's bar (I changed my mind and left before I had ordered), a brisk walk home and a stop en route at the Newington Fish Bar where I ordered a haddock supper with mushy peas which I am enjoying as I type.

It might be a while before the next edition of this new baby as I am very busy tomorrow. oh and I never explained the "Bagpipes and Bongos" from yesterday's title. I was so heartily sick of the sound of bagpipes within my first day of being here that it was sweet relief when a bongo bloke drowned them out beneath The George IV Bridge yesterday about 2.15pm. Sadly he also drowned out all other sound in the world until he was told to move along by my new favourite Scottish community bobby.

...and he's not the "Bobby" you're thinking of either.

Death Before Dishonour - Bagpipes Before Bongos

(I've re-posted this because I accidentally deleted it - Doh!The couple of hours chez Paul were spent lazing about, napping and making slow progress of "The Girl Who Played With Fire". So far I'm not enjoying this Sieg Larsson sequel as much as "Dragon Tattoo" but it's all right and I'm going to finish it because even though I am incapable of finishing writing my own book, I am capable of finishing reading other people's.

Just before I went out to do my favourite gig at The Fringe, "Peter Buckley Hill And Some Comedians" I got a call from Susan Murray. Everyone has an Bedlamburgh horror story but hers this year takes some beating (Although it will be later in this blog, well, sort of).Two days into the Fringe she contracted gastro - enteritis and it took her four days to be well enough to be able to perform again. She's a a plucky type though and is back not only on the horse but also (lightly) on the booze. I had forgotten that we had arranged to go to "Shaggers" together and during the conversation it became apparent that she too was doing PBHASC so deciding where to meet wasn't too difficult.

As we arrived, Peter came over to sort out the running order and everyone was very non-committal. To be fair - only Susan and I knew each other. The two additional acts were a bloke whose name escapes me and a 2-girl sketch group from New York called "Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting". Peter very sensibly put Susan and first, followed by the sketch girls, called a break, put bloke-whose-name-escapes-me on and then I closed it. This managed to annoy all of us but served us right for not saying where we wanted to go on the bill.

Peter was his usual enigmatic self at once useless, brilliant, counter-productive and utterly necessary to the show. His audience love him. I loved Vladimir the Inanity Kangaroo. You had to be there. He put Susan on and she did a really good job but I thought she said "cunt" a bit too often. I told her this as Skinny Bitch went on. As I was telling her they did a sketch that involved one of them saying "cuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcuntcunt" and I changed my mind about Susan. She had been totally out-cunted. Skinny Bitch were excellent and I'm thinking about bringing them over to do my gigs some time.The break came and went and bloke-whose-name-escapes-me went on and he was great as well. He's a really interesting act, really different in his approach and had some great lines.

Then I went on. I got the crowd laughing and then asked if any of them would seriously consider coming to my show at 2.30pm the next afternoon (It was already well gone eleven). They said "No". That meant I could do some of "Hung Parliament - The Musical". I did. They loved it. It's reassuring to hear the reaction from a large night-time audience. Everything's a little subdued at 2.30pm and it can make you doubt yourself. Afterwards some of them said they were going to come along anyway, even though they'd heard some of it.

They didn't.

Susan and I walked up to Three Sisters to see "Shaggers". We only caught the last two acts, one of which told a fantastic story about a situation he and a couple of mates got into in Columbia (I'm afraid that's as much information as I can give you). The other one just did his act so we left again. I'm doing it tonight and will be bearing my soul in secret, let me assure you. We had to go anyway. I had another gig to do, this time at The Counting House at 1am on West Nicolson Street. It was run by Alistair Greaves (The man who had done my show at lunchtime).

We bumped into Jay Foreman at the venue, had a quick chat about how he is developing as a performer the way I would have done if I had paid attention, stayed off the booze and not chased women. Then we went into the venue, that had a capacity of I suppose thirty people. Good job then that there were only ten there. Aistair is not a bad act but he is a fucking useless compere. He may also have been a bit pissed. I say this because he tried to play my guitar at the start upside down. Then from on stage he asked me and drunk-woman-whose-name-escapes-me who wanted to go on first. She shouted first, went on, confused everyone, barely got a single laugh and staggered off stage, out of the building and into the night. Susan's face was a picture. I'm pretty sure she said "Gastro-Enteritis was better than this".I got some laughs and similarly fucked off. Susan got a cab back to Leith and I strolled home in caning rain, getting in to bed about 2am.

I was very unhappy to wake up four and a half hours later. Wide awake. The ikind of wide awake that you can't sustain.I got up, had a ridiculously early breakfast (They really are good in this place) came back to the room and was woken again at about half ten the my maid who wanted to strip my bed down. SHE WAS HOT. I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful cleaning lady. She said I could go and sit in the pantry while she sorted the room out. I grudgingly agreed but would have been quite happy to watch her work, which is probably why she wanted me to go to the pantry. I got ready and walked in to town about mid-day Any plans to do any preparation went out of the window with Mister Stupidhours and when I reached Base my flyer people were already waiting. Town seemed a lot busier and I had my fingers crossed for a good sized crowd. They didn't materialise. I got about twenty people in.

My concern about my show is the reaction it's getting through the Free Fringe Brochure. I'm seeing a lot of much older people clutching the thing when they're waling in to see me and most days one or two of them seem to be walking out if the air turns too blue (Which it certainly had done the day before). Anyway, my guest today had cancelled. He is called David Whitney. It was just as well - Peter Buckley Hill had asked everyone to blackball him anyway. If you want to know why, might I suggest googling his name. Suffice to say that he is a friend of mine, an emerging new talent and I don't think he deserves the vilification he is currently receiving. I put down his absenteeism as further proof that The British Government were covertly sabotaging my show. His non-attendance didn't have any effect - four old people walked out half way through anyway.

This is often not as bad as it sounds.Certainly everyone at a free show is within their rights to leave at any time  - the challenge is to keep them in sometimes - but getting rid of them lightened the mood and the remaining fifteen or so had a great time. One of the audience members was one of the girls who was playing poker on Tuesday night. I couldn't remember her name, of course. She's really nice though and invited me to go and see a show Emma Thompson is doing about sex trafficking. I thanked her but alluded to the fact I was "Washing my hair". The idea of listening to Emma Thompson talking about sex trafficking is only slightly better than being mistaken for a frog and sexually assaulted by a chimp in front of my mates or even worse, re-locating to Derby.

I walked straight past the the "Subway" on the way back so had to settle for a footlong chicken with pesto mayo from a random store a couple of hundred yards from the university. It was sixteen pence cheaper than my usual. Good job. I only had £17-ish in the bucket again. Roll on tomorrow.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Poorlybee: Death Before Dishonour - Bagpipes Before Bongos

Poorlybee: Death Before Dishonour - Bagpipes Before Bongos: "The couple of hours chez Paul were spent lazing about, napping and making slow progress of 'The Girl Who Played With Fire'. So far I'm not e..."

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The fall and fall of Paul B. Edwards

Leaving Mr. Hulse to his own devices is rarely a good idea (Read the previous blog for details) but it did give me time to try and get back into the little Edinburgh routine I had developed post-show, namely - stroll up to the "Subway" on South Bridge, then walk back down Nicolson Street until it turns into West Clerk Street, make a left, make a right onto Dalkeith Road and head back to the uni accommodation for a couple of hours catching up, blog writing, reflecting and reading.

If this sounds a little odd, it's really just the Bedlamburgh equivalent of a siesta for yours truly. Relatively early mornings and insanely late nights leave it necessary at some point to just relax - and then there's the walking - Oh the walking....

If you have been to Edinburgh before you will know that it is sort of built on at least two levels. If you have got drunk in Edinburgh before you will know that these levels can take on magical properties.. I actually got lost trying to find my own venue a couple of nights ago. I could see it but had lost all knowledge of how to get down to it other than by abseiling from the upper level of the city I had found myself on. Eventually I just (drunken logically) walked along the street I was on until a road off it descended. Then I just kept looking for roads that appeared to be going downhil until it flattened out again, then I got to Grassmarket, only to find I was at the wrong end of it so had to trek back to Cowgate (Where the venue is). Distance from starting point to destination? Approximately 150ft vertically. Time duration of journey? An hour and a quarter.

Anyway, I digress. I headed back into town after my siesta to pick up my guitar from Base (The venue in question) and walk up/down to Canons Gait where I had a feeling I was doing Peter Buckley Hill's "And Friends" gig, which is my favourite show at the whole festival. I wasn't - it was his day off. I had however walked past The White Horse on the way to it, where comedian Jools Constant was outside, smoking a fag. He asked if I fancied doing his show at 9pm. I did. It was terrific fun and I'm back down there on Friday. Back to Canons Gait for a quick chat with Robin Ince and a bump into the lovely Timandra who claimed she hadn't seen me for twelve years. I think it's less than that but I wasn't going to argue with her - She's a very athletic street performer and I suspect she could beat me in an arm wrestle just by using one of her eye lids.

Then Rick (Remember him?) called to say he, Susan Murray and Gvain Webster were in Bannermans. I like Bannermans. I met up with them (Having first yomped back to the venue to drop my guitar off) and they invited me to some Time Out comedy gig that sounded terribly trade-fair ish so I said "No thanks" and took Rick to Shaggers. It was shit. I was embarrassed. It even sobered him up a bit - enough for him to say "I've had enough" and get a cab back to his van. I headed up to The Loft Bar with Alex Marion which you need a pass for. I haven't got a pass. Alex hadn't got a pass either. I told him the trick was to be confident. I was. We got in and engaged in a conversation with Al Murray (Big star) and Simon Evans (Going places). Over the next few hours I spoke to Andy Linden (Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings) and briefly rubbed shoulders with Sean Hughes, that Hardeep bloke off the telly who I don't think is very funny and a host of other Edinburgh "faces" until one by one they sensibly went home and I was left with a load of open mic spots until 4am when I got a taxi the wrong way with Paul Ricketts and his girlfriend Verity Welch who informed me she had had a dream about me being "The Master" from Doctor Who.

...And then I missed fucking breakfast today when I woke up which really pissed me off because it meant I had to pay for it somewhere else, en route to The Pleasance, to meet my flyer people who were both late. It didn't matter. They did a sterling job for me and dragged 30 people into my show, the best numbers yet. It wasn't an easy show, the audience were a little awkward but I got some really BIG laughs (When they did happen) which was a relief. There is something vaguely terrifying about The Free Fringe in that you are literally dragging people off the street who have never heard of you, might not even like comedy and often are just coming in to get out of the fucking rain. A part of the show covers the fact that I know very few people who have actually been affected by the recession. Unfortunately one bloke in the audience had. He'd had his pay as a mechanical engineer slashed by 25% because of cutbacks.

I told him - and everyone else - that I was giving 25% of my "Bucket money" to Amnesty. An audience of thirty people responded to that by leaving £17.32. £17.32 for my fucking life's work.

Then I had to yomp up to George Street (Via everywhere) to pay in thirty quid that I owed a woman called Bernie before taking a leisurely stroll back along Princes Street, North Bridge, South Bridge (Where I paid £2.29 for a 6" sub of the day with EVERYTHING) and then bought a radio mic clip for the venue (£3.75) and a load of shit from Poundland that I may never need.

Then I came back to the Uni. We are now up to date.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

You win some...

I was woken up at 9.15am this morning by a phone call from the motorbiking legend that is Rick Hulse. Anyone who knows the man will testify that he is one of the most lovely, warm-hearted, well meaning blokes on the planet. Anyone who doesn't know him takes one look at him and thinks "Massive, drunken psychopath.". He certainly has a look about him - mid 40s, large, normally wearing a cowboy hat and shades. Full beard on him, a general air of menace and a walking stick (It's a long story).

Rick was coming up for a 24 hour party in Bedlamburgh and I had said he could stay with me if he got stuck.

Refusing to meet him until at least 10.30am (I had to go and enjoy my delicious breakfast of weetabix, orange juice, coffee, toast, bacon, eggs, beans, sausage and mushrooms) I left him to have a power nap in his van on the road that the University is on. He didn't mind.

I did. I could have used an extra hour in bed. The annual Edinburgh comedians' poker tournament had ended in disaster at about 3.30am when Andy Smart got lucky with an unsuited 5/3 against my pair of nines and I was out in second place. It was an honourable 2nd I suppose but there was a lot fo money up for first that I, above all others around the table, could have done with.

It wasn't all bad though - my flyers finally showed up at around 9.45pm and I made the printer deliver them to the university. He told me to wait by the side of the road and asked me what I looked like. I pointed out that he had 5000 photos of me in his van if he needed reminding. He said he wasn't in his van - he was in a yellow Rolls Royce Phantom. He  said to wave to him when I saw him. I didn't. He drove straight past me. In his white Transit van. He thought he was being funny.

He did however not charge me for the reprint which makes me think he just forgot about them but anyway... My flyer people did their work today while I was doing a lunch time show called "Edcom" with Dan Atkinson, Pete Johansson, Simon Evans and "Some bird who got the response she deserved" (Rick's words, not mine).

I left to go down to my own gig leaving Rick there to drink what I can only think was the equivalent of an EU wine lake. My show started a shade after 2.30pm and was going all right. There were a significant number of old people there but they were coping until I introduced Rick. I introduced Rick because Gareth Morinan (Who was supposed to be there) wasn't.

The result was not entirely what I expected but had a positive outcome.

Shortly after Rick took the stage and launched into a routine about a chimp shagging a frog, the old people got up and shuffled out, grumbling. I apologised profusely and they said I was nice but he was horrid. It worked out all right because I looked fantastic when I went back on and the removal of the octogenarians did lighten the mood a little. After the show I took him for a pint he didn't need and pointed him in the direction of Susan Murray's show. God help the poor woman.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

My kingdom for a flyer

Day Two of "Hung Parliament - The Musical" started ridiculously early as the young people who had replaced the old people in my hostel all started getting ready at about 6am. Perhaps they were acting like old people to keep me comfortable. I had at least got to bed by 2am this time - it had absolutely pissed down all night and I didn't really have anything to do after "Shaggers".


Shaggers is a very interesting show but I'm afraid I can't divulge much information about it. As genial host Nick Coppin says several times during the night (He has to!) "What happens at Shaggers stays at Shaggers".


There are just too many careers that would be ruined by some of the stuff that is revealed in there and I am indeed looking forward to Friday. Let's just say I saw a side of Sully O'Sullivan that hadn't previously been revealed to me.


Anyway, I checked out of the hotel and strolled up to my car/office to catch up on emails etc, then it was down to the venue to once again to try and flyer my show without any flyers. Here is something I wrote to my friend:


"Today I have had to cancel the guest spot I was looking forward to the most because it was at 12.10pm (It was Robin Ince's show) and I have to hang around my fucking venue waiting for a reprint of my fucking flyers to arrive so I can fucking flyer and also pay my fucking flyer people to fucking flyer so I can get some fucking people into my fucking show and hopefully get some fucking money off them."


Sadly it's now quarter to five and they still haven't arrived. I do however type from my new room in  Grant House - a part of the University. It's a fucking long walk up Dalkeith Road but after the hostel I stayed in (Where I couldn't even bring myself to shit, it was that manky) it's like the fucking Ritz. single-bedded bathroomless student accommodation has never been so inviting


Two people came to my show today. They were really nice and from Bradford. I sat down with them, we had a beer and I talked to them about politics for a little while and then gave them my four poem guide to Britain, incorporating anti-government vitriol, a wry aside at the state of the working classes, a minor jab at 250 years of largely misguided foreign policy and an anecdotal rhyme about multi-national conglomerates....



"Cutbacks"

They're cutting back the NHS / They're cutting back the dole / They're cutting back the ferrets / They're laying off the moles! / Ant and Dec are now just "Ant" / But here's the real cheek / Tess Daily has been cut so much / She's now Tess once a week.


"Shell Suit"
To describe the contents of a shell suit / Isn't very hard / It's full of all that's bad in England / And three hundred pounds of lard.

"Well Done, Mr. Gandhi"
We invaded their towns with our armies / We blockaded their ports with our ships / Now everyone in England eats curry / But no-one in India eats chips.

"Swim Fishy, Swim"
Swim fishy swim / Swim very fast / Fishy not quick enough / Big fish eat him, blast.

They were impressed enough to not leave but sadly not impressed enough to leave a tip. Nothing in the bucket for me, thus nothing in the bucket for amnesty.

Off to see David Whitney's show at 6.45pm before getting mentally prepared (Well drinking) for tonight's comedian's poker tournament at The Circus Casino. If by some fluke I win I'm going to keep up my strategy and give 25% of it to Amnesty.

Wish me luck on actually getting some flyers. I could really use it about now. One expects a bumpy ride at Edinburgh but at some point I just need a fucking break to get my show up and running....

Monday, 16 August 2010

Back To Bedlamburgh

So I got up to Edinburgh about 8pm last night. I would have been earlier but I spent most of the morning looking for reasons not to pack. A fairly disastrous time up there doing a show in the 90s (Which I think led to a minor nervous breakdown) was bringing back awful memories and I just couldn't motivate myself to go.

Anyway - I did, eventually, and had a painless journey through some of Britain's most beautiful countryside and then hit the town of no parking as the sun began to set. I lobbed the car on single yellow by my hostel, checked in (into a seemingly empty six-berth room) and jogged across the road to pick up my flyers.

They weren't there.

They weren't next door either.

They weren't anywhere.

I was the only show of the Free Fringe with no way of advertising itself. There are about 300 shows on the Free Fringe. There is a rival Free Fringe with about 150 shows. Then there is a "Five Pound" fringe with about a hundred shows. Then there is the fringe itself with about a thousand all in, I suppose. All of them had flyers - except mine.

Distraught, I headed for Canon's Gait to see Peter Buckley Hill, the man behind the Free Fringe. He gave me the printer's number. The printer said he had delivered the flyers to the venue next door. Somebody was lying because they weren't there. I decided the best thing to do was scoff a bottle of Rose wine with a comedian called Caroline Mabey, who was already pissed. I left her at her (well attended) gig. Apparently it had flyers. Next I bumped into Jools Constant and another comedian from Germany called Christian something. We had bavarian smokie hotdogs and the German won a free crepe. We talked about Henning Wehn. Then we went up to the Loft Bar (Comedians hang out) where we bumped into Henning Wehn and also:

Jim Jefferies (Who cupped my balls).
Verity Welch (Who didn't, but did pretend she was working at a school where they got the teenage pupils to suck off the male teachers in the lunch breaks).
Josh Howie and Ed Akzel (Who I talked to about Star Trek)
Andy Smart (Who invited me to a Poker game on Tuesday night).
Toby Hadoake (Who exchanged Sci Fi Pleasantries - he's all about Doctor Who)

And the wonderful Andy Linden.

Andy was on the circuit when I first started but has made his career in acting. He is often seen as a monster, troll or baddie in fantasy feature films and apparently was a pimp in "Rome". He's quite old now and shortly after re-glueing his dentures and putting them back in his mouth, he put his hand over one ear, leant forward and said

"The thing is, Young Paul (I know - young!) - I'm mutton in one ear, I've lost my railings, my haystack's gone and I've got sciatica - I'm just waiting for the darkness, really". I had little idea what he was talking about - the guiness was flowing and his own particular brand of rhyming slang was a bit much for me.

Much of the night is a daze but I returned to the hostel just about 4am, waking up the three old women I discovered I was sharing a dorm with in the process.

I slept until 10am then walked to the car (I'd left it in a car park about a hundred miles away the night before) and had a chat with the attendants who said I could leave it there for two days for twenty quid. I then bought an extension lead for my amp (the venue didn't have one, of course) and some concealer because I had grown a pus-filled extra head on the end of my nose that made me look like a pervy Rudolph. I got to the venue about mid day only to find that my flyers hadn't. Neither did one of my flyer people. The other one did though so we hit the streets for a couple of hours with Free Fringe brochures that at least had my listing in.

The result? My first show had 25 people in, including two people I knew. It went all right. I was rubbish at the start but have to thank a lovely comic called Alex Marion for effectively warming them up for me. I embarked on Hung Parliament - The Musical and it was relatively well received. At the end of the indoor busking the audience had left £17 in the bucket. Twenty Five per cent of that was for Amnesty International ( |I decided to be a bloody do-gooder this year). That equates to £4.25, so you know. I don't think it's enough to free political prisoners, but it might be enough for one of them to have the rope loosened. I am currently sat in my car writing this as I can't be bothered to take the laptop to the hostel. One more night with the oldies and then I move to the university. Apparently my flyers arrive tomorrow, I have two people flyering tomorrow and I have already turned down one extra show today because I wanted to write this. Tonight I am going to "Shaggers", a show where comedians get up and tell their disastrous sex stories.

I'm booked for Friday. It might have to be an extended set.

Friday, 13 August 2010

One down...

OK, so Brian and I finally performed "Is Star Trek Voyager Good For You?" tonight at The Roundhouse Studio Theatre as part of The Camden Fringe. Six years thinking about it, eight months developing it and what turned out to be the last seventy two hours writing it.

We had approximately six times the amount of people in the room that I expected and thanks to Brian's ad-libbing skills we got round the fact that he hadn't actually had time to look over any of his script until two hours beforethe gig and we appear to have got away with it. Most people left happy - even the blind fella and his (ridiculously calm) guide dog.

The Romulan Ale (Well, supermarket-derivative WKD bitch piss) was well received and I was pleased to frugally get fifty small cups of it out of three bottles. Student parties were not in vain. The international audience (Swedish, American, Brummie) kept up with most of the banter but I think everyone got a little lost on our more conceptual pieces towards the end of the show (That sounds a bit more wanky than it actually is). Fortunately there were enough photo shopped pictures of a dubiously naked Seven Of Nine for anybody to really mind. Live Long And Prosper.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Is Star Trek Voyager Good For You?/Hung Parliament The Musical

Hello,

This is a new blog that I'm having a go at (almost reluctantly) as I really don't think the World needs one more but I want to see if I can commit myself to some regular writing. It has no purpose, no aim, is not aligned to any particular group or opinion and may possibly be of interest occasionally. For now all I have is a couple of ads for you. Having not really written anything significantly new for a couple of years I now find myself in the company of two one-hour live shows that I didn't have a week ago.

ISTVGFY? is an exceptionally geeky comedy "Lecture" that has a "One night only" gig this coming Thursday at The Roundhouse Studio Theatre in Camden, London, England. Tickets are £7.50 from here http://www.camdenfringe.org/index.php?id=3&displaydate=2010-08-12

HPTH has a fortnight run at The Edinburgh Festival from August 16th to 28th and is a mixture of topical stand up and a few songs about the recent general election and its outcome. It's at 2.30pm every day at base (Venue 56) on Cowgate and it's FREE to get in. There's a bit more information here: http://freefringeforum.org./event.php?event=3306&sid=c304536238242ad5384adfc004610bf6

It would be lovely to see some people turn up to these shows and I'll be interested to see how they're received as they're both significant departures for me, really. Hmm.

I imagine my next blog will be a little more interesting. Hopefully.