Saturday, 22 September 2012

Michael Macintyre's Roadshow!

This was the first song I recorded for my latest CD "Songs In The Key Of Death". It was produced, mastered and MASTERMINDED by Chris Hollis at SoundArc studios. When it came to make a video for it, he was the obvious man to go back to and the fact that he offered to do it was at the very least, bitehandoffable. I would love to say it could help my "career" but frankly it's not going to get me any closer to the fame and fortune and I obviously crave...


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Oslo progress, a very handy Andy and another exercise in living cheaply in the most expensive country in Europe.

This blog starts and ends with food. Last Wednesday night I enjoyed Kangaroo steak and chips. My friend Jo (Who I was supposed to be sharing the 'Roo with) was concerned that the marsupial had not been locally sourced. Of course it was - I bought it in Lidl - it's only down the road.

Kangaroo steak, chips, peas, tomatoes and green chili relish.  It might not look that appealing but it was  a veritable ripper.
Jo's non-attendance (as a result of a dubious gardening emergency) left me a steak heavy but I was feeling resourceful so I cooked it anyway, thinly sliced it and made sandwiches out of it (with mustard) which I enjoyed on the 5.18am bus to Stansted. This bus is typical of my year. I've been to Oslo on several occasions over the last few months and each time the travel to the airport (plus parking) has cost twice as much as the flight itself. Only now, three quarters of the way through the year, do I discover that there is a "Unobus" that goes from the stop you can see from my flat window direct to the airport door. It is £6.60. That is roughly £70 cheaper than the petrol  + parking scenario I have been dealing with up to now. I could already have saved hundreds of pounds this year. HUNDREDS.

Never mind, the ticket was procured and the sandwiches were excellent. When I got to Stansted I had a little wander through "Duty Free" and a couple of bargains were too exceptional to turn down, namely - two bottles of 50% Smirnoff Export vodka for £24 and four hundred B&H cigarettes for sixty quid.  The only problem of course was that this was precisely double my allowance into Norway. I decided to risk it. Fortune favours the brave and I bumped into my mate in departures. He was also going to Norway for reasons I can't discuss but had not bought any duty free so he became my "Mule" for the journey. We had our photo taken on arrival at Oslo Rygge because I was so happy.

My mysterious mule.
Contraband in hand, I boarded the "Unibus" to Oslo. It is not lost on me that either a. This bus nearly has the same name as the one I caught from my flat or b. It is nearly three times the price at £16. The bus took about an hour. I slept soundly and didn't notice it. Disembarking bleary eyed into the lunchtime Oslo sunshine, I did the usual, missed my tram stop and alighted at National Theatre. It's nice there and anyway, the Oslo mass transit system is basically free when you need it to be. Ticket buying appears to be the preserve of the socially terrified. I am not socially terrified. The first thing to do was give Troy (The landlord of the venue I was going to be gigging at) my gift of two bottles of 50% Smirnoff Export vodka. The second was to gratefully accept his offer of free beer for a couple of days. What a coincidence that we should both have wanted to give each other such lovely presents...

Troy. That's not Helen behind him by the way. It's  a Norwegian girl called "B". She has a scouse accent. I've left the red eyes undoctored. If you know the man and you have any knowledge of Doctor Who you will understand it when I say that booze can switch him in a similar way to The Ood.
The rest of the day was spent chilling out with a few different people and waiting for the other acts at the show to arrive. They didn't materialise until around midnight and only then did the drinking really begin. We finished up around 4am and retired to the two-bedroom flat that was the home to seven men over the weekend. I was on a blow-up mattress between the sofa and the kitchen wall. There was a little tent attached to the mattress over the head end. It meant I could have a camping holiday from the neck up. My surfeit of cigarettes was greeted warmly by the other guys in the apartment and I generously exchanged them for food and beer tokens. Weren't we all lucky to have such good friends!

The gig itself on the Saturday was lovely, sold out and I had my best pay day to date in the country. Afterwards I persuaded the double act (Le 122), "B" and Simon the compere/organiser to recreate the video of Bohemian Rhapsody. All these gifts were going down rather well and despite them being a little bit too well lit, I think they made a fist of it

"Queen" 2012, pictured clockwise from left: B, Steph, Simon and  (holding the lighter), Ceri. Ceri likes to tell fibs and is a Welsh Nationalist. Steph likes to look like Jackie Chan in publicity photos.
On Saturday I met up with my mate Tom and we bar hopped across the Norwegian capital looking at potential places to put on stand up comedy shows. We didn't find any but we did find some great bars. Later on Simon and I had some roast chicken and dauphinoise potatoes from a department store up the road from our venue. It's the cheapest dinner you can have in Oslo that isn't fried. it's 35 NOK (About four quid) and we go there once every trip. The Fall were playing that night in a venue across town but tickets were 350 NOK and I wasn't paying that. I told Tom that if any of his mates had any going spare I would buy one for 200 NOK. I knew several of them were going begging and brinkmanship won out in the end. I got a text at 8pm offering me the deal I required so I caught the free tram to the wrong stop, called Tom, met up with him, went back to this other guy's flat, had some red wine and sausages and walked to the gig. The Fall didn't come on until almost eleven  O'clock and did barely an hour. They did however close the set with "Container Drivers" which is my favourite song, so I left happy. Oh and at one stage I was fairly close to their legendary front man, Mark E. Smith. My ex-wife saw The Fall once and said "What's Gollum doing fronting a band?".

The Precious.
The rest of the night is a little hazy but involved a missed tram, quite a long walk and an eventual return to the venue for some more of my liquid presents. Sunday proved interesting. I slept very late and then walked up to  a really nice cafe bar called Fru Hagen. Darren (One of the lads in the flat) is the head chef there and had offered to throw me a free lunch. I eventually took him up on the offer about 5pm after getting completely lost and almost ending up at Bislett Athletics Stadium, a good two miles from where I was supposed to be. It was worth the wait though - quite possibly the best chicken sandwich I've ever had. Darren has just relaunched the restaurant's menu and his descriptions of the meals are great. He accuses his fish dish of being stupid, declares his love for sheep (in keeping with being Welsh) and at one point describes a burger as being so nice "it will make your nipples hard". He is also an angry little cook and I entered the bar to witness him hacking away at lumps of meat with a cleaver and shouting to himself "Who the f**k is allergic to bread? BREAD!" Apparently two people in a row had asked for salad instead of bread because of allergies. When my sandwich arrived I explained I was allergic to bread. He only just realised I was joking in time for me to avoid a cleaving.

Darren the chef, calming himself sauce-tasting after the "Day Of The Dough".
All that was left to do was say my goodbyes, get the bus back to the airport, get my flight delayed so late I couldn't get my cheap bus back and have to travel in and out of London to get home at enormous expense and then get stung "Double Time" on a taxi because it was after midnight. Wellll... It couldn't all go well, could it?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Edinburgh 2012 - The Finale

I'm home now and things are slowly returning to normal but there are a few ends to tie up and no end of mischief.

About ten days ago the lovely Kerry from BBC 4Extra got in touch to say that she was interested in getting Arthur Smith to interview me about my attitude to The Fringe in general. Keen (As usual) to offer up my opinions in any situation I jumped at the chance and we agreed on last Wednesday at 3pm. Since no publicity is bad publicity, I figured it might even swell the numbers at my solo show if it went out in time.

They were late to the meeting point (Banshee Labyrinth) of course. She blamed it on him being too old to walk anywhere quickly. He blamed it on leaving it to a woman to read a map. I think it was a combination of the two but I let it go. The interview was fun and I'll provide a link to it at the end of this blog as it makes a lot more sense for you to listen to it (if you can be bothered) than for me to describe it. We did it in one go and it wasn't edited at all (unusual for the beeb) and despite the odd stutter and stumble, I took that to mean we did a pretty good job.

Obviously I only consented to the interview on the condition that Arthur flyered for me.  He agreed. He understands  the  needs of us superstars.
I also got reviewed! After saying I didn't want any I was of course flattered when Hilary from "The Best Of Hitchin" showed up to "Songs In The Key Of Death" and wrote a very flattering (but entirely unquotable) review that I will also provide a link for at the bottom. It's typical that it would be someone from my "Home" town who went to the trouble to say something about it, but anyway.


Now here's a thing. You need to know that a girl called Chloe occasionally sits at the front row of my burlesque show and that I do a drinking game to the tune "Roxanne" at it, that I do a song about Breachwood Green every month at my comedy shows in Hitchin & Letchworth and that there is a local catchphrase for the former town before you understand the following and why it freaked me out. Prior to the arrival of Hilary La Pen, someone from Hitchin visisted The Banshee Labyrinth. They stuck up four of my flyers on a mirror in the bottom bar and defaced them by writing slogans on the cartoon of my (ample) forehead that appears upon them. I have no idea who did it but they're a comedy genius.

"Hitchin Is Bitchin" (Pictured) was joined by "Sting (Or The Police)". "I Fancy Chloe" and "It's A Village". Very bizarre.
One of my favourite things about Edinburgh is that it's the only time of year I bump into old friends. Some have done better than others but it's always nice to see them because (As a rule) they don't talk shop with me but instead we just have a laugh. Brendon Burns is one such character. To say he splits a room is an understatement but he's built a loyal Edinburgh audience over many years (We were both in the Footlights & Firkin venue in 1996 along with comedian Simon Dowd (Who has since moved to Ohio) and Peter Buckley Hill (Who did his first ever "Free" show there and thus created a monster). Brendon and I have rarely had so much as a cross word and I've seen him do some terrific gigs. He's also very amiable on a street corner and was happy to have his photo taken with pretty much anybody walking past, so I got my own for this here blog. He would probably have "Done The Tull" if I'd asked him but I forgot. Oh well...

Burns et moi - connected at the head. I've got one with Matt Welcome as we well but forgot to upload it. Doh!
My last few shows were all great - both my solo show in BL and my compilation show in Whistle Binkies. I'm keen to get both of the venues again next year and I am already working on it before most people have got home. All the staff in both venues are great and I really like them. They already know that in Banshee but WB's was my first run with them. I found out exactly how they felt about me on my last night however. After my BL show I settled in at the bar to enjoy a "Ghostbuster" cocktail that became three as I was joined by Matt (Monkeypoet) who announced he didn't drink milk just after I'd ordered it and another Chloe who had been to my show, was from Oakland, C.A. and proved to be the most unusual visitor to Edinburgh that year. This for one reason and one reason alone. She had been on vacation in Paris and decided to extend her stay in "Europe" by a week and visit Scotland. When she arrived in Edinburgh she had NO IDEA THAT THERE WAS A FESTIVAL ON. How anyone could not know is beyond me. Still - it meant she had had far more than the cultural and historic experience she was expecting and was having a whale of a time. She wandered into my show about ten minutes late (She obviously didn't know that was on either) but bought a CD afterwards and I felt honour bound to get her in on the round of cocktails. "Ghostbusters" in Banshee consist of (And I'm reciting from memory) Baileys, Vodka, Amaretto, Kahlua, Milk, Chocolate Sauce and probably something else. They taste like dangerous pudding.

Just after my last show and I'm stuck into a "Ghostbuster". The Banshee Labyrinth is immense. IMMENSE.
I wobbled home about 7.30pm, got fish and chips from The Newington Fish Bar, met up with Whitney the happy flatmate (His show had started selling out) and then swanned off to meet my agent, Joss, in The Abbatoir bar. There I was formerly introduced to Sean Hughes, reacquainted with Michael Winslow and got stuck in to no small amount of red wine. Joss and I then retired to The Loft for a wee dram where I said my goodbyes. Around 2am I decided I had had enough of showbiz and headed back to Niddry Street for one last drink. There I bumped into Greg the sound man/bar person form Whistle Binkies. He insisted on buying me a Jaeger Bomb. He was smashed. I soon caught up as we wandered up and down the street, ducking in and out of The Globe and Banshee Labyrinth, drinking shots and talking rubbish. On our return to WBs we chanced upon comedian Bob Walsh and an assortment of female comedians etc. who had clearly come out by mistake. The Bar Manager saw me. He smiled. He got me a shot and said "Thanks for being great this year - hope you'll be back in 2013". I thanked him, knocked it back in one and then had a coughing/retching fit as I realised it was Chartreuse. He walked off pissing himself laughing. Bloody Glaswegians. We got kicked out around 5am and I enjoyed a dawn stroll back to the flat. I hardly had any voice left, insufficient money for a cab and I can't pretend I was entirely steady on my feet. It looked like Edinburgh had won, again.

Et enfin...

I drove home on Sunday through the Scottish Borders, Cumbria and then Lancashire where I stopped off at Tebay services. Tebay is famous amongst truckers, reps and artists for being by far and away the best motorway service station in the UK. It is independently owned, the food is delicious, the prices are fair, the farm shop is out of this world, the toilets are clean, the parking is ample and the views are stunning. It was the perfect end to a nigh-on perfect trip. Roll on 2013.

If someone had been taking a photo of me at this point they would have seen me beaming over a steak and ale pie, cup of tea and an oatcake.  ROCK AND ROLL.
The promised links:

Arthur Smith interviews me on BBC Radio 4Extra
"The Best Of Hitchin" blog

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Edinburgh 3 - Ohhh... THAT'S how you have a good Fringe!

OK, first thing's first - I need to fulfill the promises laid out in the last blog. Last week I was having a drink in the Pleasance courtyard when a girl approached me asking me if I would pretend to be called Richard. It transpired that she had seen my show the day before and needed me to gatecrash a show compered by Mark Watson involving an 'Olympics' of fun with Richard Herring, David O' Docherty and Al Pitcher representing England, Ireland and New Zealand respectively. Not one to turn down a bit of fun, minutes later I found myself in her assembled gang of 'Richards' as she attempted to find more of them than other contestants could find Als or Davids. Make sense? I hope so. Anyway, the one problem with this is that all the acts on the bill knew me. This led to minor hilarity in the room when messrs Pitcher and O'Docherty staged a sit-in protest at this obvious subterfuge. The girl in question pleaded that even though I wasn't called Richard I was famous. Herring (The man I was trying to help) declared that I wasn't exactly that famous, except for in Hitchin. He had a point. Several members of the audience came to my show the next day. It was thus worth it, in my opinion and one of those 'only at Edinburgh' moments that make the Fringe, for me at least, special.

My annual drunken evening with Anna Keirle was (as usual) unplanned but delightful. I bumped into her in The Loft Bar at a time when we were both well on the way to be honest. Amongst other things she informed me that I was to be honorarily enrolled into the order of The Blue Blazer, it being a pub specialising in rum at the wrong end of Grassmarket. Working on the basis that I have only ever really got stuck in to the booze there on one previous occasion, I consider it an honour and a privilege. I'm going to try and get there before the end of the week, obviously.

The other day I was stumbling down Canongate in the now more regular rain when I saw this sign for the third year in succession and finally did something about it:

Of course! An entire shop dedicated to Princess Diana memorial tartan! It's what every  Scottish town needs!
It's what she would have wanted.

My mate Trevor Lock is having a tricky festival, in all truth. His venue is not ideal for him, his show is ticketed and the resultant small audiences have left him a little down in the dumps and also pushed a couple of reviewers to label his show weak. It's not. It's great. I dealt with reviewers in the last blog so I'm not going to bring this up again but suffice to say I think they're wrong. I saw the show a couple of nights ago and it's really funny. The "Best gag of the fringe" has just been awarded to Stewart Francis. Don't get me wrong - he's a great comic and it's an OK joke (As I admitted when interviewed on BBC 3Counties radio today) but I don't think it's as good as a throwaway line in Trevor's show which reads simply

"Now I'm no scientist, but I do look good in a catsuit"

It nearly made me spill my over-priced can of unpleasant lager (the only real offering in the venue that didn't make me wince on sight). Go and see him if you get the chance. He's not like other guys.

Trevor looking a little less keen on this handshake than my good self. Mind you, I had just told him I was going to kill him.
I also have a rather embarrassing update on Trattoria Italiana. My new favourite restaurant was subject to a third outing on Saturday night, this time with my friend Harriet (Who has been staying with me but mercifully left today) and mutual friend Verity. I had 'bigged up' the establishment and they were keen to try it out in a ninety minute window they had before going off to see Steve Bowditch's ridiculous take on the Sherlock Holmes stories. We got a bottle of wine each, so as to save money (it being well in to the festival now and there only being a £1 corkage fee) and hot-footed it down there. The place was busy and we were led to a table in the bowels of the little trattoria. An hour later we had finished two of the three bottles of wine but none of our food had arrived. They made their apologies and left. I was furious. Poor Salvo the chef was alone in the kitchen and had never got our order. It was a genuine and honest mix up but it left them hungry and (ultimately) me by myself. When he found out what had happened he insisted I stay and have a meal on the house. Well I'm not one to turn down free food. I struck up a conversation with a couple sat to my left who had ordered two glasses of wine that never came. I sold them the remaining bottle at a very reasonable £10 (twice what we paid for it) so actually left there a fiver up with three courses inside me and a rosy hue to my weather-beaten cheeks. Sometimes you just have to make the best of a bad situation.

Two hot chicks I let down in an Italian restaurant. At this point they still thought they were going to be fed. ALL PART OF MY EVIL PLAN.
The Loft Bar is all things to all men. Yes it is a terrible name-dropping, networking show-off kind of place but it's also the only gaff in Edinburgh where I know I'm going to bump into old friends. Below is the last photograph that was taken on a particularly unsober evening the other night. It features Canadian comic Glen Wool who is in the "Return Of The Lumberjacks Show" with the aforementiones Stewart Francis and Craig Campbell. I've known Glen for fifteen years and once we'd got over the relative increase in sizes of our midriffs it was a pleasant conversation, from what I can remember.

With my good friend Glen Wool. We have both seen better days. Well, we had that night anyway.
It's not all been good news. I have previously blogged about how I feel a sense of loss when a pair of my brothel creepers come to the end of their lives but I'm particularly upset that the sole has split on one of my favourite red pair. I got these for half price (about thirty five quid) over a decade ago and they've been with me over three continents, to festivals, bike gigs, comedy shows, weddings, rock gigs, punk gigs and worn recreationally on so many occasions that to think I won't be able to wear them again is heart breaking. I know they're only a pair of shoes but they were my absolute favourite and now they are no more. Here they are in all their fallen glory

These are probably my favouite ever pair of shoes and it seems fitting that I took this photo on Niddry Street. One of my favourite ever roads. I'll miss them both come the end of the week.
Finally, a bit about the last week. Whitney has seen an upturn in numbers which has improved the mood in the flat and both my shows have enjoyed relative success so all in all it looks like this last three weeks have been a success. There's still room for the delightfully odd , however, and so I present you with Erin K. I clocked her a couple of times on Niddry Street with a guitar on her back looking like the most stylish and delicious musical act you ever did see but when I bumped into her in Banshee labyrinth on Monday night I didn't think she would be quite so excited about Andrea the Saridinian barman's open-mic music gig that was happening in the Chamber room. Minutes later she was on stage playing frankly bizarre songs and getting her friend to wear a rubber horse's head next to her as she crooned. Sorry the photo isn't better - my phone didn't have sufficient battery for the flash to work, more's the pity. She gave me a CD after the gig. I gave her one back, obviously.

This is a very bad photo of Erin and a girl wearing a rubber horse's head. My battery was too low to use the flash, thus making it even spookier. These things happen

Tomorrow I'm being interviewed in the street by BBC Radio 4Extra. They want me to talk about my attitude towards The Fringe. I hope they're ready to strap themselves in. I am rather belligerent.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Edinburgh part deux - suddenly things get interesting...

Reviewers are both the scourge and the salvation of comedians in Edinburgh. A single blessed five star review can catapult a budding gagster from being an empty-room nobody to being an overnight sensation. A bad report on a comedian's show can reduce his bank balance to zero and his credibility lower. The schadenfreude of your fellow performers is palpable when your career heads south and a seemingly happy community pick on the wounded like vultures on a desert road.

I chose not to list myself in the Fringe Programme this year and didn't even send out a press release to the suggested media regarding my appearance in Auld Reekie for this latest three-week marathon. The result? I haven't had a single reviewer in, half of my fellow comedians don't even know I'm here and I'm having a ball. Why? I'm relaxed. I'm safe in the knowledge that an undergraduate on work experience isn't in a position to make or break my summer. This is the problem with the reviewing system. Everyone listed in the Fringe Programme HAS to be reviewed by three or four publications. There are so MANY shows that this means the usual/experienced/knowledgeable guys are few and far between and the workload is farmed out to pretty much anyone with a pen who is prepared to sit and watch eight shows per day for a fortnight. Some are obviously very good but most are at best "hack". This mirrors the huge amount of comedians currently up here. A good ninety per cent probably shouldn't be for one reason or another. They however have taken their own risks and deserve to be masters of their own destiny. They're not though. They are beholden to the (unlikely) situation where someone will come to their show and give it an honest opinion. This year's batch of scribblers have two basic styles:

1. Completely destroy a comedian for being useles for eighty per cent of a review but then explain why they personally think said comedian is brilliant and give them four stars.

2. Completely hero-worship a comedian for eighty per cent of a review but then say they are rubbish and give them two stars.

This is no different from the plethora of new comedians who all feel the need to do a paedophile joke, a "ginger" joke, a midget joke, use the word "rapey" at some point in their act and refer to THE WORD THAT SHALL NOT BE SAID AS "The 'C' Bomb". The difference however is that these guys only have an effect on the audience in front of them, not a potentially paying public who do not yet know them. Our nascent reviewers are unleashed on the internet with only a modicum of experience yet can easily be put in charge of covering a comedian who may have (in my case) twenty years of experience.

Never mind the obvious age/culture gap, there's also something a little disrespectful (I feel) in getting a boy to judge a man's work. If this is over-simplified, a football analogy will ram the point home. The job of the England football manager is perhaps the most demanding in the modern game and is entrusted after great deliberation to the man most suited for the job, in the eyes of the F.A. This man, along with his advisors, picks the eleven players that he thinks will best represent the nation and are most likely to achieve success. What would we all think if the job was given to someone without any knowledge of the modern game and who had never kicked a ball in his life? We wouldn't be happy if it even went to any old professional manager. We would want the best. Don't our most talented performers deserve a similar respect? It doesn't take much internet research to discover that this Summer has already seen some established and even famous acts get utterly slated by reviewers who aren't really fit to lick their boots.

Anyway, gripe over. Now the good stuff. The other night I saw Hattie Hayridge in the GB loft bar. This was after a brief meeting with a hero of mine, Graham Fellows (He of 'John Shuttleworth' and more pertinent to me 'Jilted John' fame). THIS was after a return visit to 'Trattoria Italiana', a fantastic little restaurant on Buccleuch Street (just round the corner from my house) that somehow seems to survive with a single chef and a single waitress. The chef is called Salvo and a first impression of the man is that you can trust him with your food. Both of my visits there this year have featured the same conversation

Salvo: Hell my friend - table for three?
Me: Yes please
S: You want something to drink? Red wine?
Me: yes please
S: I bring you something nice. You want a starter? Bruschetta?
Me: Bruschetta would be great
S: How about for a main course?
Me: Bring me something you like to cook
S: I bring you something nice

One hour later I am drunk on fantastic wine and full of fantastic food, I'm drinking espresso and waiting for a bill that, when it emerges, is laughably small. The waitress has left and now it's just my table of friends and Salvo. Let me know when this gets boring because I want to go there every day.

Anyway, sorry about that. Hattie and I are old friends and as we chatted one of her older friends came over. Namely, Alan Davies. I've only met Alan a couple of times in twetny years and he barely recognised me but was civil nonetheless and we soon found common ground in football and a couple of other ex-circuit comedians. Alan of course has even older friends and it wasn't long before we were briefly joined by Lorraine Chase. You're going to have to look all these people up if their names aren't immediately familiar to you but suffice to say I was pleased as punch to meet her and what a lovely woman! Before you ask - no I did NOT ask any of them to 'Do The Tull'.

They melted off into the night like true professionals and I hung about with the rest of the bloody amateurs until God Only Knows what time in the morning. It was light anyway and I'd managed to agree to let a comedian called John Smith stay overnight on my couch (in exchange for him buying the beers - I'm resourceful when I'm broke). He was supposed to be staying with Lewis Schaeffer but Lewis had allegedly been kicked out of his flat. I am yet to find whether this was true or the reasons why. John proved to be an excellent companion and unlike my mate Steve didn't snore. The lack of sleep didn't make for a good time on Wednesday morning though and I'm afraid I was a little below par at both my shows that day.

The reason for me staying out that late was that Whitney (my flatmate) had his girlfriend Liz arrive at about half past ten at night. Wanting to give them some privacy and a chance to 'catch up', I stayed out of the flat until around 5.30am. When John and I eventually careered in, it was to an empty residence. They out-partied us by two hours, eventually rolling in at around 7am giggling and guffawing. My misplaced consideration had cost me around five hour's sleep, although I DID meet Lorraine Chase, who I believe may ACTUALLY have flown in from paradise.

I'll tell you about pretending to be called 'Richard' and gatecrashing a festival show in the next blog, which will also feature the delightful Anna Keirle, a ridiculous conversation with Brendon Burns and (hopefully) a couple of photos to brighten the place up a bit. Oh and my friend Harriet is coming up to stay tomorrow - she once went from entertaining the great unwashed in a Greek bar to becoming a full-time beekeeper in the Corfu interior within a fortnight. My agent Joss wants to have a conversation with her because she too wants to keep bees. I'm not sure how this is going to help my "career" but she delighted in telling me in Trattoria Italiana the other night. Her daughter is furious. She knows there ain't no money in honey. Maybe I'll get a five star review and everything will be all right.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

New Punky! Radio posted and it's a comedy special...

Bonjour. This isn't the next Edinburgh blog (that will be up around midnight) but I seem to be running out of places to post the previews for the podcast I do so I hope you don't mind me doing it here. You never know - it might even be worth a listen...

Goopa! McGoopa!.

I'm surrounded by savages in the frozen North so here's Tony to tell you about this week's how. Back off, Sweaty!

"At least 50% of Punky is coming to you live from Edinburgh this week along with great music from dragster, Faintest Idea, The Roughneck Riot, Kunt & The Gang, Paul B. Edwards, Sweatmaster, The KDV Deviators and Wonk Unit.

Surrounded by Comedians, Russell Howard needs to eat, the Olympics, Closing Ceremony, Tony has your Facebook comments, Paul's CD, Tony gives a house update, Tony's blog which can be found at, Paul talks about the effect of the Olympics on the Edinburgh Fringe, Paul talks Italian, Air Out My Shorts, "Too cock happy for an Edinburgh audience", Tony's International Gig Guide, Sweatmaster, Paul talks about his week, Paul is this weeks Izzatwat saviour, Wonk Unit and Tony get's confused about timezones with our beloved internet radio friends!

Song 1: dragster – Silent Violence
Song 2: Faintest Idea – Bull In A China Shop
Song 3: The Roughneck Riot – Down & Out
Song 4: Kunt & The Gang – That’s My Erection
Song 5: Paul B. Edwards – Tiny Handed Girlfriend
Song 6: Sweatmaster – One Hand Stand
Song 7: The KDV Deviators – Under Attack
Song 8: Wonk Unit - Thief"

...He's a lovely boy and he does his own ironing.

Download NOW! At any of the sites below!

Our site:
Our sponsor’s site:

Thanks for your continuing support! Paulybx

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

...And finally - EDINBURGH! 2012! Ouch!

OK so here's the first instalment of my Edinburgh 2012 blog. I realise I should already have half a dozen up but it took me five days to get sufficiently online enough in the flat to be able to do it. What follows is basically a diary of the last week.

Last Sunday (6th) I headed North from Hertfordshire about an hour later than planned in glorious sunshine until I got about ten miles South of Edinburgh and the heavens opened. I fully expected it to rain every day I was in the Scottish capital but I thought I might at least have been allowed to unpack. Arriving about nine o'clock I called my flatmate David Whitney and asked him to meet me at the flat. He said he would see me in five minutes. Six minutes later he called to ask where I was. I said I was outside the flat. He questioned that by saying he was in fact outside the flat himself. Once we had established that I was on the wrong street, he left me the keys and hot-footed to his 10.15pm nightly show at The Gilded Balloon. He has spent thousands on his show this year and I was clearly holding him up. I unpacked what seemed to be half my worldly belongings, listened to the Olympic 100m final in the car (I was never in any doubt that Bolt would jog home in nine and a half seconds) and found a place to park it near where I lived last year. Then I took a walk up to the Gilded Balloon (from now on 'GB') loft bar where Whitney had said he would meet me outside. The first comedian I saw was a new guy called Rob Beckett who was walking past an A1 billboard of himself. The second comedian I saw was Russell Howard, skulking under his hoodie so as not to be recognised and looking terribly thin. That boy needs a good dinner. I've known Russell for over a decade. He's a lovely bloke and exceptionally humble. I've only met Rob Beckett a couple of times and he's still in the pomposity of comedy youth. Showbiz will beat it out of him, I'm sure. It's left the rest of us for dead.

Whitney managed to forget within thirty seconds that he was supposed to be meeting me at The Loft Bar so I went in alone and caught him chatting to Swedish comedian Magnus Betnér. Magnus has a fearsome reputation in his native land and is something of a star there. Edinburgh is a great equaliser though and here he is just one of thousands desperately trying to get you to see his show. It's the one time of year when we all suffer the same hardships to varying degrees. We are only as good as our last review, money is at a premium and everything is someone else's fault.

My flatmate and partner in crime, David Whitney, although when he's passing off a mint chocolate straw as a cigar, there's more than a touch of the Marlon Brando about him. I hope Marlon was better at washing up. Whitney's a very funny man on stage but in the kitchen he's a pig.

This first week's low audiences have been blamed on the recession, the Olympics and bizarrely, the weather. Since Sunday night's deluge the last week has been nothing short of beautiful and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to have been inside. My two daily shows have been a tale of two different fringes. My 4.20pm solo show has struggled for numbers as it competed with the sunshine and the sport. My 7.45pm evening show has been packed to the rafters (until tonight, but more of that later). That hasn't matched their respective audience responses though. "Songs In The Key Of Death" (At Banshee Labyrinth) is the early show and has proved to be a minor hit with the few people that have seen it. The accompanying CD has sold well post-show and I'm really loving the bedding-in of new material that's been six months in the writing. "The Lastminutecomedy Club" (At Whistle Binkies, a little further up Niddry Street) has so far only vaguely entertained the masses and it's a puzzle. Some of the shows have been great but quite a few of the acts have under-performed to be honest. For now I would rather just lean towards the ones who have shone and my eternal thanks to Gordon Southern (An old mate of mine) and Caroline Clifford (Who I didn't know until this week) who frankly have saved my neck when all seemed to be falling apart. Gordon's an old hand and reluctant to do "Free" shows but his class is undoubtable and he lifted a particularly average night and left the audience very happy. Caroline is a newish act based in Berlin and has got a really nice line in bitter songs. She's on again on Friday. He's got another gig booked in with me but might pull out. I hope he doesn't. His show is called "A Brief History Of History" and if you can get along to it, do.

I know what you want though - you want the dirt.

Well you're not getting it.

You can however, get this - I've been doing comedy for twenty years now and along the way have met/become friends with/fallen out with pretty much every great act to grace the stage in the UK (And hundreds of rubbish ones). I am also one for clowning about and have probably previously told you about "Do The Tull". This is the exercise of me recreating the famous flute-playing stance of Jethro Tull's lead singer Ian Anderson, should anyone shout "Do The Tull" at me in any situation. It being Mr. Anderson's birthday the other day, I was honour bound to take a couple of suitable photos and (via twitter) I let Jethro Tull know themselves about one of them. The other two I saved for this though. What follows is a trilogy of classic "Tulls". My apologies for the picture qualities but bear in mind these were taken in the early hours of the morning and we may all have been drinking...

First up we get myself and Al Murray (AKA "The Pub Landlord") happily doing  The Tull in The Abbatoir bar  at Underbelly. Al took little cajoling and is an extremely good egg. He has also invited me along to his solo show which is a new hour of The Pub Landlord. It will undoubtedly be brilliant but starts only fifteen minutes after my one finishes and it might be tight. I'll try, Al. I'll try!

Jim Jeffries is currently one of the biggest comedy stars on the planet. He also used to get pissed with me quite a lot (normally in Bristol). I don't think his heart was in this but he gave it his best shot.

If it's 5am it must be Tom Stade time. The international Tullage is not lost on me. Tom's Canadian, Jim is Australian and Al is quite possibly one of the greatest living Englishmen. You can see by the way that Tom is gripping that imaginary flute that he is nothing other than PURE rock and ROLL. I also fancy his wife, Trudi.

Time to sign off for now. Suffice to say the first week has been rewarding and frustrating in equal measure but the Olympics are over now, the rain has finally returned to Scotland and all bodes well for the rest of the fest.

One footnote - tonight I had my lowest crowd for my evening show by approximately two thirds - I'm hoping it was a blip, particularly as I had my second BIGGEST crowd for my afternoon one today. This after I hardly flyered the first and heavily flyered the later. Perhaps that was the problem. My own presence might well be putting people off coming to my show. Now THAT could prove problematic.

PS. A word about Ronnie Golden. He and I have been no more than acquaintances, really, until the last week when we have spent several happy hours exchanging stories and putting the world to rights. Up until a few days ago I thought he was doing a show with Barry Cryer. He's not. Barry is doing a show with him.

read to be read at

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Punky! Radio Is Back!

Punky! Radio returns tonight after a fortnight's hiatus to celebrate seven years of constant podcasting. During those fourteen days I have performed at two different music festivals, run a miniature comedy festival, hosted an Olympic quiz, bought a guitar, left it in Oslo (on purpose), hit the breadline in two different countries and recovered from it in forty eight hours. Now I plan for my annual August jaunt to The Edinburgh Festival. acebook have updated my profile to the new "Timeline" and in the process they have removed my option to write "notes". This has left me with only really this blog in which to let people know what music we are playing on the show, so it may temporarily become the Internet "Voice" of Punky!

Anyway, here's my cohost Tony to tell you about this week's show...

"Our 7th birthday signals the start of a new era here at Punky Radio and we're back with great songs from Faintest Idea, The KDV Deviators, The Mexanines, Steve Lieberman The Gangsta Rabbi, Safety Orange, Thee Vicars, The Bones and Paul B. Edwards.

We have an email from Liam, phrase of the week, Tony has your Facebook comments, one way ticket to Fishtown, Tony's pest infestation, Paul talks about the festivals he performed at, we have bad news about Steve Lieberman, Air Out My Shorts, Tony's International Gig Guide, sad news about Thee Vicars, Paul talks about his week ahead,, Edinburgh, no Izzatwat this week, flying mice!, Motor museum, Oslo, Songs in the key of Death and thanks to the various stations that feature the show!

Song 1: Faintest Idea – 36 Barrels
Song 2: The KDV Deviators – Deviator Zone 86
Song 3: The Mexanines - Shimmer
Song 4: Steve Lieberman The Gangsta Rabbi – We’re All Derek Jeter
Song 5: Safety Orange – To Save A Man
Song 6: Thee Vicars – I’ll Do You Wrong
Song 7: The Bones – The Hooligan Bop
Song 8: Paul B. Edwards – Things In Tins

...He's a good lad but he's a bit obsessed with houses.

Download NOW! At any of the sites below!

Our site:
Our sponsor’s site:

Thanks for your continuing support! Paulybx

I also knew that I would not get away with this without some sort of font issue. I'm afraid this blogging site really doesn't like you cutting and pasting.. Anyway, if you've never listened to the show before it's really easy to do, it's normally about fifty minutes long and it's usually quite a good laugh. I like it, anyway.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Punky! Radio waves goodbye to seven consecutive years - or does it?

Goopa! Goopa!

Well it's nearly the end of an era as Punky! waves goodbye after seven unbroken years of podcasting - but only for a fortnight! Here's Tony with the details of our "farewell" show...

"As we prepare for our 7th Birthday celebrations we bring you another great show with music from The Gashers, The Felines, Jaya The Cat, Hank Haint, The Dirty Panties, Full Tilt, The Tuesday Club and Vice Squad.
Quite an impressive Poetry Corner, vague vagina reference, Tony has your Facebook comments, Porn Clown, Tony talks about the moving house trauma, Air Out My Shorts, Tony's International Gig Guide, Rhythms Of The World, Guilfest, Paul talks about his week, Psychobilly Meeting, the bite!, no Izzatwat this week, Paul talks about his new album, Paul has a surprise for Tony, Tony talks about the internet stations we are on and don't forget we're back on the 31st July!

Song 1: The Gashers - Panic
Song 2: The Felines – Black Joe
Song 3: Jaya The Cat - Thessaloniki
Song 4: Hank Haint - Blackout
Song 5: The Dirty Panties - We
tSong 6: Full Tilt - I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Song 7: The Tuesday Club – Dolly Dynamite
Song 8: Vice Squad - Firepower"

...He's a stalwart of the righteous, he really is...

Download NOW! At any of the sites below!

Our site: Our sponsor’s site: itunes:  Podbean:

Thanks for your continuing support! Paulybx

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Comedy and the recession

Dear all comedians currently hassling me for work because the recession has left a load of comedy clubs shut/reducing their money/taking a Summer break when they wouldn't normally,


I've made a point of not booking people just because they run gigs themselves and might return the favour and it's cost me a lot of shows down the years because some comedians who promote comedy just aren't good enough to play my Lastminutecomedy Clubs. This isn't showing off - I only have two acts each month performing extended sets and I can afford to be very choosy. It's left me without huge swathes of work myself that jobbing comics get routinely because entire circuits-within-circuits are closed to me because of my monthly weekender.

This also doesn't mean I think the aforementioned promoters are terrible performers. Many of them are good comperes but I MC ALL my own shows so I can't help them there either. The long and the short of it is that I've generally done great shows all year and am having a bit of a resurgence. I'm doing two shows at Edinburgh this year and am already at the point where I'm turning down work for the month up there as four shows a day is enough for anyone. I've just today got a new album out that will accompany the Edinburgh performances which I'm really pleased with.

Edinburgh work is generally for nothing, though. I' will probably do eighty shows while I am there, beginning as early as 1pm and finishing as late as twelve hours later. It's what happens after it that is becoming a worry. This recession has affected numbers at my own comedy clubs. Everyone is within their rights to decide to save themselves a bit of money by staying in when they would otherwise go out. Collectively this becomes a death knell for comedy clubs around the country because if fifty people think the same thing, the venue is massively down on numbers and can VERY quickly become insolvent. I'm still holding on to good crowds at my shows but my Hitchin show has dropped from around 200 per month to around 150, my Letchworth show from 120 to 90. People who used to come along every month now come along every other month. People who used to come along everyother month are now showing up four times per year and so on. We are still getting new people coming to the events all the time but this largely due to the brilliant support we have had from the local press - and who knows how long THEY will be around, either?

The net result is that the audience still has a good time, the comedians still get a decent wage, the printing place get their monthly (albeit small) fee, the email girl gets her twenty quid, the venue get their room hire, the sound men get their fee but crucially, I don't make enough money to be able to justify keeping the thing going long term. 

I suppose, what I'm trying to say is this:

If you are a comedian and you are a little low on work against usual, put yourself in other peoples shoes. A lot of us are struggling, regardless of what we do in life. You may well have an excellent fifteen minutes and have made it through to the quarter final of an excellent competition but it doesn't mean you have a divine right to get booked for my shows or anybody else's so please don't be offended when I delete your generic email.

If you are a promoter, have a look at the people you don't book and decide whether it is because they are not good enough to do your shows or whether the reason is personal/petty. It's well documented that I don't like a number of people but actually I've only ever not booked them because they weren't available. I will never stop getting absolutely the best line ups for my shows regardless of whether I am friends with the performers or not. I owe that to my audiences, who down the years have been the best thing about the whole gigs anyway. They've been extraordinarily good.

Lastly, if you are a comedy fan but you haven't been to your local comedy show in a while, get yourself down there as soon as you can. A full house is good news for everyone, not just the promoter. It's still a relatively cheap night out for you and your friends and you might just be doing your bit to keep your favourite comedy night going for another year. That's got to a good thing forall of us.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Egg And Chips!

So I found myself alone and without a gig on Saturday night. Only one thing for it - watch France v Spain in the Euros and then write, record and make a video for another song that was an on-the-spot job. I've had a bit of a creative spurt this year - well, I say "creative" - I've had a load of ideas and some of them are a bit funny. Anyway - this has come too late to get on the album I'm about to release but I will go back in the studio at some point  and do a "proper" version of it. I'll probably re-write it and try and make it funnier as well. Most of the songs I perform get a minimum of ten re-writes. So far this one's only had two., which means that theoretically it can be five times funnier than it is right now. Please do leave a comment and let me know what you think!

This is proof positive that I do have too much spare time on my hands, or more to the point - I will do anything to avoid the proper work I should really be getting on with. If you're reading this blog, you're as bad as I am. Go and do the washing up!

read to be read at

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Hitchin Comedy Festival July 21-22 2012

IT'S BACK! Less than a decade since we last tried it, the Hitchin Comedy Festival returns as a part of the official Hitchin Festival 2012.

Eleven shows over two days in the barn at The Victoria Pub, Ickleford Road, all of which will then be heading up to The Edinburgh Fringe festival for the whole of August!

We don't want you having to go all the way up there though, so instead, we're bringing Edinburgh to Hitchin

The Line Up:


(All shows priced £5 tickets available from The Victoria Pub from early July Special £15 tickets available from the Hitchin Festival Box office permit entry to ALL the SOLO shows - in other words - see five for the price of three - bargain!)

2.30pm Barry Castagnola "Where's Barry?"
Barry Castagnola (Cyderdelic, 11 O'Clock Show, The Swingers) is late for his gig… 'Character comedy at its best' (Independent). 'Fantastically innovative and astonishingly funny' ★★★★★ (List). 'Innumerable comic moments … a hugely entertaining and intelligent piece of character comedy' ★★★★ (Metro). 'Straight down the line, old-fashioned hilarious … excellent blending of live action and film … hysterically funny set pieces … acting, good characterisation and crisp writing.' ★★★★ ( 'Film sequences are used to hilarious effect with perfect timing and some brilliant character acting' ★★★★ (Times). 'Inventive use of video footage … very funny and enjoyable' ★★★★ (

4pm Marlon Davis "Enter The Davism"
An anticipated debut show from one of comedy's rising stars and winner of FHM Stand Up Hero. 'Bursts onto the stage like a breath of fresh air' ( 'Charming Observationalist' (Time Out). ★★★★ (ThreeWeeks).

5.30pm Danielle Ward "Speakeasy"
A brand new show from award winning stand-up Danielle Ward (Mock the Week/News Quiz), writer and creator of Fringe hits Gutted and Karaoke Circus. Speakeasy: An hour of stand-up about sex, politics and the world's greatest Ryan Gosling joke. (Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat). 'Hilarious' **** (List). 'Delightfully naughty' (TimeOut)

7pm Paul McCaffrey "Pills & Thrills & Bellylaughs"
You can take the boy out of Glastonbury... Paul seeks to emulate bands reforming for 20th anniversary classic album tours by reuniting his old raving crew at a festival, with the words 'Come on Paul, you're not 18 anymore', ringing in his ears. Is this really a good idea? A hilarious, engaging hour of stand-up. As seen on Russell Howard's Good News. 'Born to be a comic' (Scotsman). 'He has charm, charisma and success written all over him' (Evening Standard). 'Likeable, animated and fluid with a first rate sense of timing' (

8.30pm Sara Pascoe "The Musical"
The uplifting and inspiring tale of Sara who lived from the 1980s to 2012. Sara was born as a baby, meaning she could neither talk nor walk, but she didn't let this hold her back, she faced adversity in the face and grew up to be the overachiever you're all jealous of today. The show includes catchy tunes, stand-up and many morals. Sara's life includes being on TV in Stand Up For the Week, Todd Margaret, Free Agents and Campus (C4), The Thick of It, Being Human and Twenty Twelve (BBC).

10pm Late & Live
MC. Paul B. Edwards introduces four great comedians and possibly the odd special guest...


(As part of the PBH Free Fringe, all of today's shows are FREE ENTRY but a voluntary contribution is encouraged at the end of each performance).

2.30pm Paul B. Edwards "Songs In The Key Of Death"

4pm Charmian Hughes "Charmageddon"

5.30pm Peter Buckley Hill

7pm The Quadrantines

8.30pm The Lastminutecomedy Club
MC. Paul B. Edwards introduces some of the best new acts on the comedy circuit as well as one or two of the performers on during the day.

The festival is curated by BBC radio's Trudi Stevens and supported, of course, by The Lastminutecomedy Club. Check back here for more information about the acts.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A song I have written about modern comedians. Don't expect an Eno-style production...

OK I've never posted a song on here before and I'm hoping it works. I'm not sure if I can upload music but will give it a try. I wrote it in five minutes and recorded it in one take on very lo-fi equipment. A re-recorded version may well make it on to my new album as a last minute addition. It's also the first ever video I've made and is obviously rubbish. I welcome feedback and any additional lines you think might make it better/funnier/worse.

Here it is:

It appears to work. I can only improve. My thanks to Joseph Brigham for being the initial inspiration to get off my backside and do this today.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

How NOT to get booked at a comedy club...

Well, it's been a while, four months to be precise, but I'm finally blogging again. So much has happened over the last few months and I will TRY and catch up but basically since I last wrote I've been shafted by a promoter in Hungary, nearly bankrupted by a disastrous trip to Austria, won and lost a small fortune in Vegas, seen the Grand Canyon and thrown out of a nightclub in Norway. I'm facing a court case for non-payment of a rail ticket, am recording a new album, planning a comedy festival and writing a new show for Edinburgh. While I get my head round all of that, here's the transcript of an email exchange I had today with a new act wanting a paid spot at my most established comedy show, The Lastminutecomedy Club. The gig features two professional (And often well known) comedians doing extended sets with me compering. You can find out more about it here The best comedy clubs in the world, in my (not so) humble opinion

Make of it what you will...

Hi Paul,

Please may I have a spot in your club? You saw my act during the competition you were running in Letchworth.

(Name removed) stand up comedian


(Name removed),

The winner of the overall competition gets a full set at my club. Second and third places get half-sets at my club. People who are unplaced in the heats are not ready to do extended half hour sets alongside professional comedians. I have only even replied to this email so that you fully understand that I do not book new acts for Lastminutecomedy Clubs and you can take me off your list of promoters to contact. You are welcome to enter next year's competition and if you win it you will be booked.

I hope you understand.

Paul B. Edwards


Dear Paul,

Thank you for your arrogant reply I am a promoter too running very successful gigs but I at least have courtesy. Stuff your competitions you arrogate twat

(Name removed) NCT teacher and stand up comedian


(Name removed), you came last in your heat and it was arrogant of you to ask for a gig. Most promoters would just have ignored you. I was courteous enough to get back to you because I am a full time comedian first and part time promoter second. There is nothing I hate more than being palmed off by promoters who end up wasting my time because they don't tell me why they are not going to book me. I prefer straight talking. I don't think there is any need for your abuse. I'm sorry you found my reply arrogant. Would you have preferred me to say that you are joint-40th in line for one round of support slots next March and if the other 39 drop out I'll get in touch? Good luck with your own ventures and stop being silly. You were nice when we met - that's how I prefer to remember you x



I would have preferred you ignored my email it was polite enough, rather than be rude and you are entitled to your opinion. I am totally shocked that you are a professional comedian because we all thought how unfunny you were. Good luck in future   


Hi (Name removed),

You saw me at a show I hosted recently and I wondered if I could have a gig at your successful comedy shows?

Paul B. Edwards