My Stand-up & gigs
The Coding Craftsman
There Must Be 50 Ways To Make A Gig Difficult
Hi, we’re calling from Some Criminals.com
An Open Letter To HSBC
Pay What Now?
Hearing the music
When to quit
I am not as other men
Tonight I was funny
What's the point!?
I got woken up by my new alarm this morning. Hoorah. Not quite. You see, I was woken up by the doorbell going and the postman delivering the alarm, which I'd bought online for a modest sum.
I was still excited. I'm terrible at waking up. I thought that a small travel alarm might have, in its tinny beepy nasty way, the ability to irritate my brain into wakefulness. Two hours of radio 2 at stupid volumes seems to fail, so perhaps a small device would burrow into my consciousness. The alarm is made by Westclox, who are long-standing veterans of the clock world. I had high hopes.
The clock is lovely - a nice LCD with bendy numbers. It was also really obvious how to set it and set the time. I was pleased with it. It's also a lovely shape and seems to be tough enough to outlast my gigging schedule. I set the time and set the alarm to go off a minute later.
It went off. Then it went off. The second "went off" means that the alarm beeped at me for a minute and then shut up - for good. What's the point!? The alarm comes with a snooze button which will let you postpone the alarm call - up to a maximum of 4 times. What's the point of that? I want an alarm that nags me persistently until I get out of bed. If I snooze it, I want it to come back with a vengeance the next time. I don't want a radio alarm clock which only runs two hours - it takes more than that to wake me. I don't want an alarm that cuts out after a minute so as not to disturb anybody
. I'm a bleeding corpse of a morning. I'm getting virtually no sleep. I need something to gnaw into my consciousness and help me get the motivation to get the hell out of bed.
Still, the numbers were a nice shape.
For ****'s sake!
To be ignorant of the past is to be unprepared for the future.
I'm getting to a time of year where I can't help but reflect on past couple of years. Let's look back at what I was doing at the end of March in the last couple of years:
- Eating fruit, creosoting fences, losing weight, getting read for an early comedy gig, buying DVDs and recovering from performing in Chess, followed by an orgy of show-watching in London.
- At home while the fiancee (now ex-) was visiting her parents. I filled my spare time with household tasks and a visit to the office to do some geeky things.
I've no idea how I spent my Marches in previous years - I wasn't keeping a diary. I hope that I don't look back in 12 months' time and say - 2004: I looked back on 2003 and 2002's entries.
I must say that my house-proudliness has somewhat diminished in the last 12 months. I should really spend the night at home doing some gardening or something. I shall, instead, work late to try and ensure that I'll cover my hours for the week, since I have a lot of gigs to fit in between now and Monday.
I'm Gonna Hit The Highway
According to The Funny Magnet himself, I'm "gigging like a mo' fo'" (actually, I abbreviated that for cleanliness). Plus, I'm starting to find out that people are reading this website. This is slightly disturbing. Especially, since I only ever write what's on my mind and there's not much there worth reading.
However, I can use the existence of the modest readership of this site for a good purpose. I'm going to plug a charity gig.Darran O'Neill
- Meatloaf Tribute ActFrog and Bucket, Manchester
Sunday 11th April (Easter Sunday)
Tickets £6 - in aid of Macmillan Cancel Relief
Available from the venue and from Darran - 07812 821380
He's a good lad, a good Meatloaf tributer and doing it for a good cause. Support him if you can.
Another rollercoaster of a weekend. This weekend is also going to be mental, but I have some relative sanity on the horizon, so I should probably enjoy the messing around while it lasts.
On Friday, I worked until 7pm and then hopped into the car and drove to Hexham. I performed a gig there and then hot-footed it to North Berwick where I saw the tail end of the gig that was going on there. I'd been asked to go and perform as the last act, since the act who was booked had dropped out of radio contact. I was curious to see whether I'd have been able to make it in time. Luckily for me, I wasn't required to perform - the act got back in touch and I arrived just in time to watch him.
After the gig, I went to Edinburgh where I stayed the night. The following morning required some walking around Edinburgh, checking out venues, followed by an afternoon of songwriting and jamming. Saturday was quite a relaxed day. On Saturday evening, I went to The Stand to watch some comedy. I knew one of the acts and I'd met the MC twice before - he still recognised me on the front row and gave me something of a diplomatic immunity against being picekd on. What a lovely man.
Saturday night, I drove back to Newcastle, exhausted and ready for the bed I eventually arrived in at stupid o'clock. The clocks moving into British Summer Time didn't really help my cause. However, I managed to get some nice sleep and woke up at "whatever o'clock" on Sunday, ready for the remainder of the day. A bit of housework and my life is back into a vague semblance of order... an order I'll be shattering over the next few days. I have gigs every night between now and Sunday, with the exception of tomorrow night. This involves a lot of travelling. My favourite night will be Thursday - I go to Scotland after work on Thursday, do a gig, sleep over, get the 8am train back to Newcastle, do a day's work and drive back to Scotland. Fannytastic!
Last night I did a gig in Sunderland. Not every joke worked perfectly, but I really enjoyed the gig, not least because of the attitude I had before I went on. I've been known to forget the mood to be in to go on and do my act. It's such a simple thing - if I go on with plenty of energy and look like I want to have fun (which I do), an audience can respond quite positively. Simple. Effective. Fun!
I have just had my hair cut, which is sensible, since it was raging out of all proportions and threatening to form its own independent state. Actually, it was just making me look a bit shaggy.
What else is news? Well, I still have to call the Edinburgh venue... and find accommodations... and a whole heap of things I'm completely ignoring for a few more hours.
I also need to stop eating rubbish and get some exercise.
I bought a new alarm clock - a travel alarm clock. I'm hoping that its wee piercing beep will somehow reach me during my coma-like sleep. I could get more done if I slept in less.
My self-sanity rating today is 8/10. Not bad.
The previous post feels like it was made absolutely ages ago. It's probably a good thing that I keep some sort of online diary - it can help give me some sense of time, especially on months where so many things are happening in such a short space of time.
- Took train to London after work on Monday
- Performed not one, but two gigs on Monday night - very different gigs and very different responses
- Enjoyed a tipple with my congenial host and then took a few hours' sleep - perhaps an hour too many's sleep, but my host was very congenial
- Headed into the city to go to a meeting
- Met my sister for a coffee
- Had another Starbucks online experience - looking for emails about "The Musical!"
- Went to the venue for our London preview for "The Musical!", paid and signed for it
- More Starbucks action
- Another gig - more friends and friends of friends to see what I do on a stage
- Then a good chinese meal
- Then a taxi ride back in time for a couple of hours of sleep
- First tube into town on Wednesday morning and then the first train to Newcastle
- After struggling through a day's work against my exhaustion, my spirits were raised by a phone call from a comedy competition, offering me a place in the next round
- Home, washing, tidying, food, bath, bed... I needed the sleep - was in bed before 10!
- Thursday was another full day in the office and then off to Leeds for a weird but enjoyable gig
- Also had a curry in Leeds city centre after the gig
It's something of a full life at the moment. I couldn't do this all the time, but March Madness is a reasonable acceptable temporary state.
I suspect this weekend will be nowhere near restful. I'm half expecting to hot-foot it to Scotland tonight. My poor car.
On the up side, it's great to be able to spend good nights out with friends. Stand-up is a very sociable activity and a good excuse to travel to places where I have people to spend time with.
I should keep the diary, though. My mind can only think about the next 24 hours.
I'm also happy that I have a one-way-arch-nemesis. This man doesn't know he's my nemesis - I don't want to upset him by making a big deal of it. However, so long as he exists, I have a focus for my negative thoughts. Believe me, this fool deserves to be the focus. The beauty of it is that I only need to use him as my nemesis when he's actually present. The rest of the time it makes no difference. This is not a serious comment, but reflects a certain degree of irritation that a certain person causes me... and it amuses me.
Last night, my guitar lost a string, the audience were in a funny mood and I performed my set, standing on tables in the middle of a room, with my eyes at the level of the beams. I still enjoyed myself and managed to make them laugh.
March is proving to be something of a busy month. There's the Glasgow Comedy Festival going on at the moment, so I'm hoping to spend a bit of quality time over in that neck of the woods. In addition there have been many nights out to enjoy around the country. At the current estimate, my average speed for March is about 6 miles per hour - no wonder I'm getting some sort of motion sickness.
The gigging will start to calm down as I prepare for The Musical!, the Edinburgh extravaganza that will undoubtedly bankrupt me.
February had its highlights, not least of which was the lovely reception I was given at XS Malarkey
on my birthday at the end of February. They also did a very good recording of Fluffy
A weekend of mixed entertainments over, I'm now preparing for a brief excursion in a southerly direction. The amount of sleep I've enjoyed is a levels below which I'm capable of appearing sane in conversation - I had an argument with the ticket machine at the car park this morning.
I can't wake up in mornings. The only reason I woke up today was that my mind decided to help me. I could envision a recording studio. A man walked up to the microphone with a Gibson guitar (he was black) and played the intro to "Downtown (Skid Row)" from Little Shop of Horrors. Then he sang the lyrics:
Alarm, goes off at 7 and you...
And then I jolted awake, looked at the clock, swore and then got out of bed, to arrive at work in split seconds of late. The alarm had run for 2 hours and then given up by that point.
Yes, my own brain is using trivia from musicals to control me when all else has failed. Aaaagh.
Funliness and costliness continues today with news of my new musical acquisitions:
1. A stage piano - for performing piano on stage
2. A bass guitar - for performing bass guitar
3. A stage - for being underneath us on May 8th while we perform guitar and piano
I've set up a website for it, but it's not really got anything on. However, I'd like to introduce you all to The Musical!
, which is to be the labour of love for myself and co-writer/co-performer between now and the end of August. It's about now that things get both exciting and also rather scary.
If you are free to come and see the show, then email
with your ticket requirements. I shall be announcing proper selling locations and also cost and time of day - "evening" is a bit vague.
Are you a graphic designer?
If so, then please email me: Ashley@incredible.org.uk
and let me know whether you'd be prepared to help me out with some publicity. I can't afford to pay good rates, but let's negotiate. If you know a designer, then please suggest that they do me a favour. I'll repay it in kind as well as some money. The project is to include print-ready artwork. Details of the project will be released later. Needless to say it's both fun and costly - that's a summary of my life, I think.
I have been slack of late. Not really any updates to speak of. There's tons happening, but I'm not getting around to recording it.
Er. Let's see...
5th, 6th and 7th March were spent in a converted Abbey in the Yorkshire countryside celebrating 30-ness. The star organiser/birthday celebrator created something wonderful for us to enjoy. I still can't quite believe that I ate fruit and went hiking... but I did. A truly splendid weekend!
That weekend started with me doing a gig in Newcastle, on the Friday, and ended with me doing a gig in London on the Sunday night. Driving back from London, even with a 10pm start, is an arduous task for a Sunday night, especially with work in the morning. I got through it ok, though. The gig on the Sunday was a competition. Unfortunately, the original plan of using cheap rail tickets to make the journey less costly for the 4 minute spot at the end of it... well that plan fell through. I ended up paying £60 in petrol to London for 4 minutes on the stage - that's 25pence a second. Despite my best attempts to screw it up, I got through the heat and into the next round of the competition. I'll try to be funnier next time around - I think I let the stress of the occasion get to me, which is stupid!
I had a sane night of normality on Monday - supermarket, a night in the home. This turned into a recording session, but I was still in the house so it counts as normal.
Tuesday was a rehearsal with my co-writer of The Musical!
and we started to get a handle on setting some of the scenes. We also did a full read through, which is dangerously close to the 1 hour time slot the show is intended to fill.
Wednesday I went to watch a gig in Sunderland and enjoyed myself. I brough a comedian (note the gender) home and provided him with transport for his train in the morning, making me a good samaritan. My belief in comedy karma means that I feel I am more likely to be blessed with laughs.
On Thursday I was the last act on at a slightly unusual comedy night in Manchester. Overall it went rather well and the heckler at the end actually saved me a lot of embarrassment, now I think about what she effectively stopped me from doing. I got to bed late, but such is life.
Friday night was another night in the house and it was time for more rehearsal. Things got a bit out of hand and my dining room is now laid out as a miniature theatre. It shall probably look like the set of The Musical!
for the next 5 months! Bizarrely, the show is actually set in my dining room... so it's sort of a reflection of itself... aaagh! We also watched This Is Spinal Tap
, after rehearsing and annoying the neighbours (accidentally).
The sudden upsurge in interest in the show comes from the fact that we're recording a show reel of some highlights from it in the next few days and we're also planning its first performance in Newcastle in early May. When the show is actually 8 weeks away, you have to start organising yourself... quickly!!!
Saturday was a day of variety. After a lie in (needed after the preceding week), I took myself to Ikea and bought some bar stools, which are now part of "The Set". I went to B&Q and bought a variety of hardware items, which I laboured with for about 4 hours in the garage in order to construct more of the aforementioned set. Oh... and I also managed to get myself sat down in a theatre in Sunderland watching Miss Patsy Palmer (Bianca from Eastenders... RICKEEEE!!!) perform in a one-woman musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black.
You know what? Miss Palmer can pull Tell Me On A Sunday
off. She's not naturally a strong singer, but it's an acting piece as much as it's for singing and her voice was actually very listenable. She made me laugh and she managed to convey all she needed to very effectively. A part of me was taking the show to pieces, but I liked the pieces!
Not bad for a day's work. Oh, and I also bought a wig. Not because I'm balding, though I am, but because it's a prop. The people in the shop had a good laugh at me, including some kid who, the moment I asked for a wig, started picking on me. My reaction was genial, which is probably for the best - I took it on the chin, rather than striking back at the little oik, in whom I could see enough faults to have spent my afternoon on destroying him. I suppose it's nice he's confident enough to take the piss out of strangers; at his age, I was a bit too meek.
On the way to Sunderland, the car behind me, as I joined the A19, was acting oddly. He seemed to want me to pull over so he could get past. I pointed at the cars in front of me, going no faster than I was, he still seemed to think that his journey would be quicker if I were not in the way. I left him fuming as I stood my ground. Then, when the cars in my lane pulled over, I overtook them and left the imbecile, in his crap car, for dust. If an 8 year old rusting Volvo can do that to him, he shouldn't mess with it!
There. A record of stuff.
Best spam ever! especially the bit at the bottom!
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