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
La Vie en Rose
Here's a sweet and romantic song about being in love. It's originally by Edith Piaf, though Louis Armstrong just sang these translated lyrics in my ear. I assume "La Vie en Rose" might be described in English as "I'm in the pink" or "Life's coming up rosy". All of which sound more camp than keeping the original French translation.
Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me heaven sighs
And tho I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose
When you press me to your heart
I'm in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak...angels sing from above
Everyday words seem...to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose
Not Silent and Not Deadly
What A Cliché
They say that going on holiday is stressful. It shouldn't be. It should be a matter of paying someone some money and then getting in a vehicle or somesuch and then being on holiday. That's my view. However, reality has a way of kicking in. As a result, I had a series of things to organise today to get the right hotels to be in the right places along a route that will take us from Thursday evening, via Milton Keynes, Leicester, Leeds, Stansted and THEN, if we're lucky, after watching Doctor Who, onto our plane to wherever the hell it is we're going. I can't even remember.
On top of that there are cats to consider. They don't travel well, so will be staying in some form of moggy hostel. This also needed organising. One side effect of their stay is that they may be rather clingy when we go and collect them, which will be amusing and also rather sweet. I like it when the cats are attentive - it's almost as if they care in a human way, which, of course, they couldn't possibly as they're cats.
So, I suspect tonight will involve more running around than I necessarily look forward to on a non-gig-night, and I'm also a bit stressed as I really need there to be some other of the planets in alignment for the show stuff that will happen in May, a couple of weeks after our return from the holiday. I won't be doing show stuff while we're away. I've decided to take some time away from "work" (like it's work!) and just focus on enjoying total down time. Rest and relaxation.
I wonder whether you actually end up with an aggregate loss or gain of happiness with holiday, or whether the pre-holiday stress actually takes you down so far that your time away can't bring you back.
Did I mention I also hired a car today?
I think I'll be printing out a sheaf of crap to take with, tonight or tomorrow night.
It's still tonight, but the date suggests that I'm writing about last night. How fickle is time.
Tonight had highlights and lowlights.
I got my car back.
Just as I transferred my stuff back into the car, the rainstorm hit and I became drenched.
I got to my first gig pleasantly on time.
The audience drizzled in, in smallish numbers.
The pre-show toilet visit was in a relatively well equipped loo.
I left a bad smell... indeed, much the same could be said for the way I was received by the audience.
So I then jumped in the car and headed to gig two. Before I say more about the second gig, I should observer a few things. Firstly, double-up gigs are a tricky business. In my experience, it's the second one which seems to get the most attention. This is because part of your brain is already planning your way to the second gig while you're at the first gig. I really tried hard to avoid falling into this trap while I was on the stage and, although I went through the time on stage at one hell of a pace, I was also talking myself out of clock watching and not allowing jokes to settle. The bar staff, in the other room, were having time to laugh, so I don't think I can truly put my own performance in the role of "the scapegoat" for all of what happened in the first gig.
Secondly, I'd like to observe how comedians, even my own skeptical self, can be somewhat superstitious. It's like the superstition of a gambler. The last time the MC and I had worked together, we'd both had an uncharacteristically tough one in front of an awkward crowd. Tonight, back together again, and it was tricky. Again. Coincidence? No. Because it wasn't even the same. There's no specific cause and effect, though the self-fulfilling prophecy thing can kick in if you harbour such illogical mystical thinking.
I drove off to the next gig with a lot of worries. The promoter and I had agreed an arrival time, and it was just
doable, according to the sat nav, but then I'd seen an email suggesting I would have been on stage for 10 minutes already by the arrival time I thought was reasonable/feasible.
With my nerves and driving licence being important things I wanted to protect, I hastened to the second gig as fast as was safe, but without watching the clock too much or trying to will myself to be there too soon. They'd have to wait and I wouldn't be too late. I also spent some time dispelling the fear that I'd have another similarly tough ride with the next audience. I know that sometimes the first gig is like a vocal warm up and that the next audience can get the cream of you for the night, and I also know that you can run your energy low on gig one and lose control in gig two. I was worried that I was in the middle of a run of mediocrity and that the audience would be similarly too posh for my stuff, like the first lot thought they might have been (but weren't).
As it was, I arrived at the next gig during the middle section. There was still a whole break and set-up time before I was due to go on. I got to see how the audience laughed and reacted. I read the room, rather than the superstition and all that tosh. The MC did about 10 before I went on, basically giving me an index on the way the room behaved. I wandered up there and did a 30 minute set (or thereabouts).
I had a really enjoyable gig. I could have done the encore. But always leave the audience wanting more.
Between you and me, dear reader, the second audience were there to have a good time and did all the work for me. I just gave them a big smile and a bunch of shouty bits that might or might not have been punchlines. The rest is just pavlovian. Probably.
It's going to be a busy one
Well, tonight is a ludicrous challenge. I have two gigs. I'm opening in Northampton and closing in Bicester. The timing seems to be down to about 3 minutes. I'm going to have to plead with the compere of the first night to put me on no later than 10 minutes after we start the gig... then I'm going to have to grab the money and run to the car. Parking will be an issue.
Why do I do this?
I do it because it's possible. It's simply within the modern man's capability to drive 90 minutes to one place, then 40 minutes to another, then another couple of hours home within an evening, performing for 40 or 50 minutes along the way.
It's not just possible, it's fun. And it can even be made to look easy... though probably not by me.
So, I'll head off on my miniature voyage-cum-odyssey tonight and have an adventure, then return home to my domestic bliss with a smile on my face. Because I'm doing what I love doing.
Hopefully, sometime in the midst of this, the holiday which we booked over lunchtime (I say "we", I mean my girlfriend) will suddenly spring into life on the internet and will result in an email confirming that everything is hunky, dory and tickety with lashings of boo. Then there'll be a calm to enjoy after the storminess of blasting around the place...
...blasting around the place in a nasty little Ford Fiesta that smells of both secondary AND tertiary smoke. The rule I use is this: if I can't smell myself fart, then the car is too smelly.
Facebook Linked To Syphilis
A quick song for a Thursday lunchtime:
They linked Facebook use to Syphilis
I hope that I won't get it
Though I know that there are viruses
Kicking around on the net
A friend of mine on myspace
Met a ladyboy called Lola
She gave him gonorrhea, herpes
clap, gout and ebola
You're best not to connect
on the net with the other sex
But if you do, then please install
A firewall upon your balls
Well Of Course
It's not hard to predict. If you burn the candle at both ends, you end up with a fat stubby splotch of a candle. It was quite a challenge to do last night's gig and I'm paying for it today with the following symptoms:
- Stomach grumpiness
- Occasional vaguenesses
All of this is to be expected from a man in my condition - i.e. Stupid.
I refuse to learn my lesson, though. If I give up on agreeing to do the plainly ludicrous, then where will I be? My sense of fun is one of my more useful attributes; it's what makes me funny, and it's what keeps me motivated in the myriad things I like to do. If it's not fun, then you have to find the fun in it.
Now I sound like Mary Sodding Poppins.
Tonight is going to be lower octane (in both fuel and other senses) than last night, where there was a nearly 4 hour drive to the gig and a 2 and a half hour drive home. Tonight is a night of being in and cooking.
Don't get me wrong. Last night was a load of fun. I enjoyed the gig and, although I had to work for the laughs I got from the audience, it was a very satisfying situation. I even got some "me time", which was, in practical terms, a chance to listen to three radio series. I listened to two series of Truly, Madly, Bletchley
and one series (the fourth) of That Mitchell and Webb sound. In truth, I found the former to be mystifying. I realise now that some of the reason for this was that it was more of a show "of its time", rather than just one of the classic examples of Radio 4's boring middle ground outpourings.
Perhaps I should have listened to something which made me giggle like a giddy schoolgirl. Or perhaps I should save that for tomorrow night. (I'll explain) Maybe last night worked because the only peak I had of giddiness and effort came when I was on the stage. With nearly 7 hours of driving to do last night, perhaps it makes sense that I kept myself on a fairly even keel in terms of energy levels and mood. It's the peaks and troughs that can hurt - the troughs hurt, the peaks cause them.
Sitting in a car that someone had been smoking in was a definite drain on my own resources and the fug of the car made the red-eye journeying seem all the more difficult. I curse the very ground that its previous driver walks on. May he find himself forced to sit in a seat imbued with the smell of farts, sick and chemicals.
As for tomorrow night, I'm doing a double-up. I've not doubled up for a while, so it should be both fun and stressful. I'm opening a gig in Northampton and closing one in (aaaah) Bicester. If you need me, I'll be on the M40.
Fiesta And Finding Jesus
I subscribe to a website that sends me a "How To" every day. I mis-read today's how to as "how to find Jesus". I'll be covering that in a minute.
I've just done a rapid car switch. I've got a loan car, which someone appears to have been smoking in. Boo. It's a Fiesta. I've not driven one of these in a while. For good reason. However, I'll be positive about it. I don't mind cramming myself into a wee car if it means my actual car will finally, after about 4 months, get fixed. I will have a wing mirror. Huzzah!
So, I was wondering about finding Jesus and I thought maybe it might make a film. Here's the pitch.
In a world of confusion, one man is lost and needs to be found. He's loved by a caring father, who only wants what's best for him. He has a slightly misshapen arm on one side, and he's been swept away by the tidy.
Be amazed and astounded as the search is on. Can they find Jesus? Is he behind the back of the sofa? Is he imprisoned in a tank in a dentist's waiting room? Is he in Australia? Is he advertised on the lost and found notice board somewhere. Nobody knows.
If you have a problem, and noone else can help, and if you can find him, then maybe you can hire the J team.
Displacement Activity and Good King Wenceslas
Was it good king Wenceslas who stomped through some snow to make easy to follow holes for a smaller person to step in? Is this where the phrase to follow in someone's footsteps originates? I don't know. I do know that I will be putting the finishing touches to a script that discusses both Lionel Ritchie and the so.h Twinkle Twinkle. Both of these are subjects I know other comedians have discussed.
In comedy, following suit is not a recipe fir success. It is either irrelevant or a bad thing. I'm sure my routines can be judged on their own merits as they share no jokes or opinions with the others. But it can be a worry. Still, audience reaction is a good editor. And my heart is pure.
I really must get on with today. There's a lot to do. Writing about it isn't the answer... unless the thing to do is to write about something.
Exciting Time Paradox
Excited Doctor Who fans are already clamouring to be a part of the new DVD release of the Matt Smith series, a series that hasn't been broadcast yet and whose DVD isn't available until June. It seems that some are already reviewing this DVD on Amazon, which is amazing. Perhaps these fans have mastered the art of time travel and have already seen the show, in the future, and come back to review it. Or perhaps they don't understand the word review and how it compares to "preview" or "reeling out my dogmatic fixed opinions".
Two things make me unworried about this. One is that I am looking forward to this new series either way and will watch it as excitedly as a child, provided we get our TV aerial to work, or so long as my computer and iPlayer like each other. The second reason that I don't mind that people are posting somewhat provisional reviews is that there's always someone else on the internet to counterbalance them.
Back on the road
Opportunity can be a blocker to effective writing. If it is hard to commit the words to posterity as you think of them, they can be lost or not even dreamed up. Twitter for the mobile generation is a solution to this. It's easy to text, unless you have fat fingers and a small Touchscreen phone, so it is just as easy to write something pithy on the hoof.
Long form is always harder, which is why we have blogs. Hopefully, I now have the technology to crank out larger sets of thoughts via my small Touchscreen. This will be good. I hope.
The gig last night was fun. The audience laughed in the right places and I was a bit giddy. I've been more in control, and I've had less fun... I think last night was good on all counts that count.
Blah blah blah Richard Herring does this. Yatter yatter yatter, it's hard to write. Etc etc etc.
On a more interesting note, the work of Richard Wiseman
is always very enjoyable and I think he's covered some of the self-help aspects of writing, which is why I've come to write a few words of blog at 11:37 this Saturday morning, with an impending sense of needing to move my arse coming over me.
I've finished revamping the technological aspects of the parent site of this blog - Incredible.org.uk
, so at the very least, I feel like I have a platform for blogging and having stuff online that's at least remotely viable for the next year or so. A lot of information coming from my ISP and also from Blogger was telling me that it would all stop working... around about now, really.
However, with a Twitter widget on the front page, and a more blogger-hosted site to play with, I feel like I've pretty much got myself back into the spirit of the decade. It's a delicious amusement that the first post on this blog, in its current form appears to come from 1st January 1970 - 4 years and nearly 2 months before I was born. Why would this be? If I were an annoying comedian, like the Australian I saw during the Fringe last year, I would declare a whole bunch of half-formed theories on what this meant. Given that I'm a geek, I'll simply tell you that 1st January 1970 at midnight is what's known as The Epoch - it's the point in time from which all other times in modern computing are calculated. It's Zero time. If computers were to form a religion, they would "think" that the earth was created in the 70's.
And is that more ridiculous than any other notions of creationism?
So. I'm about to try to pull together enough of the elements of my Edinburgh show to be able to do a run through next week. Scary stuff. I prepared for this by taking my girlfriend to work, first thing, which is nice for us, and is also a nice way to ensure I don't lose all of Saturday morning to sleeping. I then went to Tesco where I had breakfast in the company of Nietzsche - not him, so much, but one of his books. Then I bought a bra and some tights (not for me).
After the road system threatened to block my route home, I ended up back in the house with the kittens for company and a vague sense of purpose.
I think my displacement activity has almost come to an end. Wish me luck. I'm going in!
Please visit my blog, which should now tweet itself and end up on Facebook. With a bit of luck, it won't then blog itself and end up facebook, twittering an infinite loop, wearing out the internet.
Well Whaddya Know
You should definitely write about what you know. That's for sure. I have used that before in shows and in life. It's a good way to share a little of yourself if you're writing about something you care about. So, I guess I'll be writing about me, then. Well, sort of.
I should share a bit more about the projects I'm working on right now. There are three of them.
1. Me - I need to lose weight - what a fatty bum bum
2. Stand-up - I want to kick myself over the next hurdle and develop the stand-up even more
3. Edinburgh show - badly named, as I'm doing it in other places
I need to lose weight. I went swimming last week. I still hurt. Not sure if it was the physical exertion or the getting quite naked around strangers which most bothered me. I invented a new swimming stroke that improves the exercise because it's deeply inefficient and counter productive.
I have been better with the eating. That's the secret to this, by the way. Diet and exercise. The pair of them together = being healthier and happier and more awake.
I would really love a bakewell tart, though.
I went through a bit of a slump in Jan/Feb. I'm well on the up now. I have been gigging a fair bit in March and they've been going pretty well. I think I just needed to adjust my motivation a bit. It's probably quite common - those people who feel negative about what they're doing don't do as well. While I've felt positive about wanting to do comedy, I think I've been focussing on some of the wrong things, like the pressures of getting to gigs and getting a show put together, along with the whole "if I've not gigged as much recently, will it go well?" issue, which is a non issue if you just smile and have a nice time.
Still, you need to have some crappy gigs to inspire you to improve... and they are long in the past now (in gig terms at least).
Edinburgh is a place. However, it is also used in the stand-up comedy scene as a time of year. Also known as August. On top of that, it's used as a description of the sorts of acts of vanity that stand-ups put themselves through, which is otherwise known as creating some sort of hour-long show. Perhaps these shows are great. Perhaps these are acts of woolliness that don't deserve an audience. It's hard to say.
Last year's show, as a format, worked pretty well. I'm pleased with the idea of doing a one-hour themed show, and I think that the theme can both generate and support material. You can write any old random material and then find a way to hook it loosely into your theme... but then the theme can ask you questions, which you can use to generate material. I say you. I mean me.
So, I have a certain quantity of source material, some of which I've tentatively tried out in my stand-up set, and some of which remains woefully untested. Some is funny. Some is weird. Who knows which is which.
There's a lot of work to do on this show which will be given proper publicity soon on TheSevenDeadly.co.uk
and is called The Seven Deadly Sings
. It is due to be exposed in Brighton at the beginning of May, and has already sold some tickets. So I have to go there now.
There will be previews galore, and I hope to develop this into a tight hour which could tour, and which could offer me some alternative material to use in my stand-up in place of the stuff that's coming up to 7 years old.
But worth it.
I'm working hard on a bunch of things and have less time than ever before. I have taken to twittering, which is why I've put my twitter feed on my blog. It seems time to work in all media.
Keep in touch.
The End Of One Era
It shouldn't be a big deal, really. I've not been blogging very much for the last year or so. This is a result of various changes in my life, all of which are good, so no complaining. However, owing to changes in Blogger, as well as changes in internet service providers, I've moved the blog from its current home to ashleyfrieze.blogspot.com
. This is a change that won't affect people reading on Facebook, and I'll try to make the old www.incredible.org.uk somehow show the blog, so it all looks about right.
It seems like I should justify this change in hosting by also changing the amount of blogging I do. I only seem to have time for it when I'm away from home, or trying not to write something else. I'll try to put this right, but I know I probably won't return to the heyday of blogging that I had back in the day.
Still, at least there'll be something to read today.
Feel free to wander over to incredible.org.uk
and look through the archives of nonsense that I put on there. Also, please feel free to tout my multitudinous comedy appearances to anyone you know. Full list can be found on www.ashleyfrieze.co.uk/gigs
Over and out... for now.
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