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Blog ArchivesOctober 2001
Friday, October 31
MR did it again! Thanks big fella - DP passed it on. We'll have to find a time and a place, when I have not got a car in tow, and share a few fizzy drinks.
Durham and the censoring tape-recorder
As usual, the gig list is awash with data about past and forthcoming gigs.
Had an interesting gig tonight. I've not gone on first in a while and I had to work harder than perhaps I was expecting. I enjoyed myself though, and found jokes to say for when the audience was on the brink of a laugh. My tape recorder has censored the gig, managing to cut out nearly exactly when every punchline occurred. D'oh!
I also chickened out of my new material and threw the tail end of the set together on the hoof, which was fun.
Thursday, October 30
A classic - Things I've pushed through toast.
They say honesty is the best policy, but perhaps they're lying!
Wednesday, October 29
I can be very naive sometimes. There's a comedy agency called "Bound and gagged". Searching for their website on the internet is not a good idea at work. It never even occurred to me!
The spam mail keeps on rolling in. I had one with the subject Ideology emitting knoll. That's amazing. They use random word generators to try and make each mail unique to make it harder for less sophisticated spamfilters to catch them. Random word generation is great. My spam filter is more sophisticated, so it catches these cheeky mails - giving me the occasional glimpse of a weird subject line before the filter kicks in.
I got a laugh from that knoll. Indeed, I laughed at it more than I laughed at the Radio 4 sitcom I listened to in the car yesterday at 6.30pm. I don't know what they're trying to achieve, but hearing a middle aged black man doing childish knob-gags on the radio really didn't impress me. The acting and directing was patchy and the script was very poor. If this is what constitutes the state of radio writing, then I ought to try to get a commission. I should have some time in Q2 2004!
Bit of advice: if you are going to write a comedy song, which contains a lot of self-deprecating lyrics about your lack of sexual prowess/endowment...
... try to write it without a catchy tune/chorus. You may find that it's perpetually going around in your head and, although you know it's just a joke, it can be a little bit off-putting.
Number 1. Scott Tyrell.
Number 2. Lou Saffire.
Number 3... some geezer in a silly shirt.
If I could have chosen some comedians to be the winners out of line up, then the top two there would have been my favourites. I wasn't judging, thankfully, since that would have been most unfair - being a participant and all that.
I like the Manchester comedy scene. It's taken me a while to work out what I want to do as a comedian - I'm still working it out too - and the Manchester folks have been supportive and provided me with venues, audiences and colleagues. You can't really ask for any more than that. As for comedy in the North East, that's on the up too and I'm looking forward to seeing and doing a load more of it.
My blog over at my AshleyFrieze site muses on the subject of competition - especially comedy competitions. I should point out that I don't do sour grapes and that I wrote my critique on the arbitrary nature of comedy competitions before performing in the one I was in last night.
It's interesting how the human body works. I left the office yesterday afternoon, feeling like death warmed up. I drove for nearly 3 hours to Fallowfield in Manchester, stressed about arriving on time and about having time to prepare (the running order came out of the hat and so could have randomly put me on first - I wouldn't know until I arrived). I got out of my car in a rainy car park, with 15 minutes to spare before my soundcheck (the bit of the gig I enjoy the most) and all of a sudden I felt quite well. Indeed, I gave the performance my all and came of the stage with legs of jelly (something I don't get before going on) and yet strangely elevated.
I didn't win.
I'm a 3rd rate comedian (I came third).
I had fun and I would have paid money to see the two guys who came 1st and 2nd.
I'll put more comedian's feelings type stuff on the other site.
Today I feel more rested and relaxed, despite not having had all that much sleep. I plan a day of concentration and endeavour in the office... then perhaps I'll watch a gig tonight... and then get an early night...
It's all good stuff.
Tuesday, October 28
More spam, and this time from someone claiming to miss me:
Thing is, it's nice to think that someone misses me and perhaps wants to hook up... but then this one appears to have a screw loose. Indeed, the original sentiment gets quite scary when the message turns into basic gibberish. Is it part of an internet campaign to make everyone think that they have a crazed stalker?
All the world's a rich vein of the amazing, amusing and freaky!
Not Winning Competitions?
I thought now would be a good time to make a comment on the arbitrary nature of comedy competitions. I can do this, since I've not yet got into the mindset of preparing for tonight's final at Bar XS of the Comedy Balloon Comedian of the Year competition (the gig list on this site will be updated soon) and I am still remembering last night's competition at the Frog and Bucket.
The truth of a comedy competition is that it puts a mental obstacle between the performer and the crowd - because they're there to be better than another act, rather than interact with the audience. It's also hard to judge the quality of comedy, something which is so in the moment that it almost doesn't matter how good it is, so long as it works, or alternatively can be excused for not working because it's of such a quality that means it will work next time. It's a problem.
There is one truth. Acts who come along and wow a crowd will win their audience and probably not fail to win a competition if one happens to be happening at the time. If I ever become an effective experience comedian, I will hopefully have developed an armoury of set pieces and audience coercion techniques that enable me to give audiences a good time. If I don't win any competitions, I won't complain.
Right, I'm off to baste myself with bacon fat and sit under a sun-lamp while stroking a Yorkshire terrier. My rider is amazing!
Oh... how do I love spam? Not much... but I love the surreal stuff they put in the mail to hide it from spam filters. They're not supposed to appear, but sometimes things go wrong and these random words appear on the screen and almost make a special sense of their own:
stowage rightful lima asheville precipice trepidation dickcissel bethlehem incinerate dram gibby greensward gown hornwort could ntis tuberculosis obstinacy mimetic butchery carrion deallocate amadeus declamatory that'll herman
["that'll herman", eh?]
Ban[/bison]ned C[/ziegler]D Gov[/horton]ernment d[/bodied]on't wan[/fertile]t m[/conservatism]e t[/contribute]o s[/dustbin]ell i[/between]t. Se[/corporal]e N[/cromwell]ow
[fertile conservatism... sounds almost like a googlewhack!]
inflect fleece forth soldiery stung barrett churchgo pad transgress caw herself wrapup d'etat squill propensity
[are you worried about your squill propensities... buy this new medication]
Friday, October 24
Still in starbucks, proof-reading some stinky text, stinking headache, farting: stinking in general really.
And now, the completely made up Starbucks tango:
Take your cup of cheer, dear
There is no beer here, dear
But it isn't queer dear
Let's do the Starbucks tango today
There's nothing to fear, dear
This is no bum steer, dear
Frappuccino and coffee, dear
Let's do the Starbucks tango today
That was abysmal. Let's never talk of it again!
Well, isn't this a whole load of fun... I've spent hours in this place (Starbucks) and I don't recall hearing the same tune played twice. I've been proof reading, drinking pleasant liquids and having the occasional item of food. So far:
If it were not for the fact that the cost per hour of being here is remarkably high, I would recommend that everyone work this way. I reckon that this could one day be the office working of the future. A series of coffee bars/workshops, where people can go, sponsored by their employer, to eat drink and immerse themselves in their own personal thought-space.
I can dream can't I?
I've also learned about Starbucks decor and lighting and how they think they're a fair trade high quality company. Bizarrely, their bottom line profit is not as impressive as you'd think... so my buying their nicely overpriced drinks is more of a public duty than ridiculous luxury.
Ballooning into the next round
Not to make a big fuss of it, but yours truly was one of the heat winners of the Comedy Balloon Comedian of the year competition the other night. Which means I'm a finalist. Which means another trip to Manchester next week.
Well, isn't this just cool. All my favourite activities in one bite-sized portion. I'm here in a branch of Starbucks with my computer, access to the internet (via wireless) a hot mug of something and the world at my fingertips. Not only that, but I'm miles away from home - an adventurer, a pioneer.... an idiot.
All this gadding about like an imbecile is all very well.
Where's the but?
Wednesday, October 22
I particularly like condiments which have four syllables:
Tuesday, October 21
Watched some of The Office tonight. It made me angry and resentful. That's a sign of good comedy. Some would say it's a sign of perfect comedy.
The internet is a great way of finding things out, but it can also be a wonderful way to circulate nonsense. There's a lovely website called TruthOrFiction.com, which can be used to check the facts on the sort of interesting information that drops into your inbox. Like this suggestion about the Qur'an clearly fabricated by some bizarre American bigot. If only they'd read the real passage in question, they'd realise how poignant it is to the rot in American (and indeed all western) society.
Sunday, October 19
Quite why Mal feels he has to keep his opinion on gay people in the clergy to himself is mystifying. As much as one tends to censor the exposing of certain personal thoughts for one's website, I think the beauty of running a site like this is the sheer honesty that it brings out in you. I'm prepared to be a lot more self-critical in a forum like this, which anyone can read, than I would be talking to someone face to face. I know that, no matter how clever I am editorially, writing this site is a terribly honest exposé of the sort of person I have become. Even the things I choose not to write tell a lot about me.
So, I have no problem expressing my own views of homosexuality in the clergy. In principle, the problem is that there is a conflict between the faith in the words of the bible and their observing the needs of their sexual orientation. In much the same way as a non-celibate man cannot be a priest in the Catholic faith, a non-celibate homosexual cannot be a clergyman in mainstream Christianity. I'm seeing this in black and white. It's the same way that mainstream Christianity cannot condone gay marriage.
Ah... but times have changed, and ah, there is acceptance of homosexuals into Christianity and gay people can be proudly Christian... Yes, they can... but I dispute all this ahhing. I'm a computer programmer. I see things in binary. If the scriptures did not say that homosexuality was "an abomination" (not my opinion - those of the scriptures) then there would be no conflict. If you want to follow a religion like Christianity, but which specifically ignores those lines of the scripture, then be my guest. Indeed, I've no axe to grind with it. I'm not a Christian, nor am I a homophobe. I'm a computer programmer, I've just said that. I'm just being horribly logical.
However, if your religion specifically prohibits something you can't be a champion of religion and still do that thing, and in the case of homosexuality, it's a rather stupid thing for a religion to prohibit - it's guaranteed to cause distress and bigotry, rather than understanding and love. So, make your own religion. Or have no religion. Just don't start a practice of saying - "here is the word of God... but we've decided to skip a few bits because they're not important"; that's hypocrisy.
Oh dear... I suspect someone will take me the wrong way.
No pun intended.
Friday, October 17
So, I'm writing my blog and some spam comes in to my mailbox. I don't realise it's spam - I just hear the "tada" - the message of new mail. SpamNet eats the message and I get the disappointment of not receiving the mail. So I went to see what I'd missed. Here's the claim:
"We Do What Viagra Can't"
*GAIN UP TO 3" IN LENGTH IN JUST WEEK
*BECOME THICKER AND FULLER
*MULTIPLE, MORE EXPLOSIVE ORGASMS
*ENDLESS STAYING POWER
*SAY GOODBYE TO PREMATURE EJACULATION
*BOOST TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
*INCREASE CONFIDENCE AND VITALITY
Which is just silly. They may as well claim that it:
Then I highlighted the mail to paste it here... why not, eh! and realised that, as a way of trying to fool lesser spam filters, they've inserted random words into the text, white on a white background so you don't see them if you look at the mail in your mail program - with these extra words, it's quite a funny set of claims:
"We Do What Viagra Can't" plundering scaffoldings humidity
*GAIN UP TO 3" IN LENGTH IN JUST WEEKS illuminate brakeman hungriest
*BECOME THICKER AND FULLER tantamount counsel immaculate
*MULTIPLE, MORE EXPLOSIVE ORGASMS postcard hungered actuating
*ENDLESS STAYING POWER meteoritic crafted schizoid
I personally plan to buy some to plunder some scaffoldings.
It's always amazing when you have a half-remembered fact and then can use the internet to prove/disprove it. Especially, if you can do it within the first hit page on Google. Today's half remembered fact was that Rene Descartes invented Cartesian geometry while lying on his bed looking at ceiling tiles. Read it and weep.
Thursday, October 16
I am exceedingly tired. There's not been much sleep in the Frieze household of late and I've not been getting up to naughty nightly shenanigans. A lot of driving has been going on and even when I've been home, I've found it necessary to work on the recording of our musical. The rest of October will also be highly stressful and I'm already feeling rather run-down. It would be lovely to spend about 20 hours in the bath, eating and sleeping - that would probably invigorate me. The risk of drowning is probably too great to contemplate taking the risk. Plus, I'd end up a little shrivelled... and cold.
Perhaps if I got a servant to keep the water warm and stop me from choking and drowning...
Or maybe I'll not bother.
I'd like to praise chocolate frosties for being there when I needed a pick me up at 3.45 this morning.
I'd like to praise coffee for being there when I needed a pick me up at 9.45 this morning.
and I'd like to praise milk for its capacity to go frothy. Sadly, a cappuccino, left unattended, will ultimately become a latte.
Last night at the very wonderful Comedy Cave in Edinburgh was a treat. Everyone had a good gig. I think the audience got a little tired and I was heckled by my own watch, but overall it seemed quite enjoyable.
I was due a gig in York tomorrow, but it has been dropped. Having said that, I suspect that the gig in question may have been likely to cause me some sort of over-exhaustion, so it's a sort of relief. Plenty more gigs this month to watch and participate in.
Tuesday, October 14
Here's some advice I dispensed to one reader on the subject of petrol-powered leg-warmers:
I think the fumes from the petrol engine might cause problems too - even if it did have a good starter motor and automatic choke. It would be too automatic a choking experience. I like the solar hat/leg warmer concept. The solar panel on the hat, which would double up as a non-stick frying surface on very hot days, would be connected to heating elements in the woolen leg warmers. Since, under direct sunlight, the legs probably won't need warming, a secondary device, using modern fridge technology, will be able to kick in, using the solar power and a vat of coolant, kept in a backpack on the user's... er... back... will circulate through the leg warmers, making them into leg coolers.
And you'll be able to make ice cream too.
That gig didn't go very well... onwards and upwards, though.
Another day another dollar. Indeed. Though it's really inconvenient being paid in dollars when I work in the UK and have to convert them to... ah what's the point!? of course I don't get paid in dollars. I get paid in Livres Sterling. It's English money, but a French accountant... stop it! You're not funny Ashley!
Of course I'm funny! I'm just misunderstood.
Anyone got any spare sleep?
I have long theorised how much better the day would be if only it were 28 hours long. Perhaps the solution is to reduce the rotational velocity of the earth. I've been wondering how we could do that. If we took a small country, perhaps the size of wales, and rapidly accelerated it in the same direction that the earth is rotating - using, say, a massive low loader, would this impact on the earth's rotational velocity enough to allow me to sleep more and still stay up as late as I do?
Or would I simply end up with a bunch of pissed off Welsh people and more bags under my eyes from staying up even longer?
Not beating the Frog
I was due a bad gig. Shame it had to be while there was a competition on. From the first gag, I was in trouble... it was only a matter of time before some vindictive sod in the audience exercised their right to croak me off the stage.
I completely blame the table of witches at the front centre of the gig... these Leeds-resident harridans were humourless, which could be easily determined from their tactical voting when the weakest act was playing. I can't fathom why anyone would card George and Zippy!
On the other hand, I most certainly failed to get the big laughs or audience rapport. I did a bad gig. I would not have won. Croak-tastic!
Monday, October 13
Friday, October 10
This Tom Baker outtakes mp3 is just wonderful. The man himself sounds like he was recording a voiceover for something and what we hear is what he thought of the clearly abysmal script and direction he'd been given.
With his charismatic voice and his keen dissection of what mighted be termed "marketing shite", this recording sounds simply perfect.
Thursday, October 9
Wednesday, October 8
Bizarre, and totally non-sexual footnotes having been written (yes, that sentence was translated from the original Latin), I thought I'd pen a few words on the subject of reality.
I always liked the Stephen King novels (and some of these particular ones were written under his pen-name of Richard Bachman) where we met a character who, within a very short time frame, had their entire life and personality turned upside down. All of a sudden, the comfort of their normal life was stripped away and they had to adapt, changing their life goals on instinct to meet the challenge. As events fought against the character, their very concept of what was normal and what was acceptable had to change - a sort of survival instinct crept in.
So, now, I look at my own world and wonder if I would have ever believed it would be like this. What I consider now to be pretty frequent behaviour for me would have seemed remarkably abnormal only a few short months ago. The hoards of people I now feel like I know, the abundance of trivia that's running round in my head, the places I've been and the things that I've seen - they all seem pretty damned surreal if I put them in the context of the person who started writing this weblog nearly two years ago (though I started publishing regularly to my website nearly three years ago - wow!).
I don't know that I could do what I'm doing now forever. I don't know whether, were my domestic circumstances to change, I would want to. Gigging and rehearsing for shows, and working on the occasional show backstage, writing music, recording things here and there - well, it's a great game, but I don't know whether I'll ever achieve the heights of skill required to be satisfied doing any of these things exclusively (even if I were given the chance - and chances are rarely just given anyway). So do I quit?
I'm having a whale of a time. For the time being, I'm happy with this reality. So, I miss a few hours of sleep. So big deal! And I may be far too well acquainted with the M62 - whatever! As I've already discovered several times, life can change radically in a very short timeframe. What's the point in worrying about things at the expense of making the most of what you have? Maybe one day I'll be incapable of doing these things and I'll miss it. And maybe one day I'll look back at my recollections (or record collection - whichever) of this time in my life. I only hope I look back and remember that I made the most of it.
Live the dream. It's that easy!
Another blog... yikes... I'm becoming a serial blogger today.
Sometimes the mind suddenly just goes "Kerching!" and your opinion changes. I'm thinking about the moment in Fawlty Towers where Basil is chatting on the phone while angrily asking a guest to sign in. He distractedly asks the guest for a full name and then:
Guest: I'm Lord Melbury, so I usually just write Melbury.
Basil (into phone): Go away! (starts simpering to Lord Melbury)
There's a "Kerching!" moment if ever you needed an example.
Tired eyes sometimes reveal more than you expect. Mine are telling me that the fluorescent light in the office sucks and they're also revealing how my mind has shifted from programmer to lyricist. I'm currently looking at a shorthand pad on which I've written some text, relating to what I plan to make the software put on the screen when I complete the task I'm working on. My eyes are looking at these arrangements and seeing a song and it's not a very good song.
Ok, so I usually write songs on shorthand pads in groups of four lines using my handwriting, but surely the following could not be a hit:
The 3D is enabled
But if it's causing you problems
You can make it disabled
just push the button, push the button
The 3D is disabled
But if you want it to come back
You can make it enabled
Just push the button, push the button
Open GL has caused some errors
it's auto-ma-ti-ca-lly been paused
you can override it if you want to
it's up to you... it is your choice!
Enjoying it XSively
Last night at XS Malarkey was very good fun. A remarkably late-running gig, but worth staying around for. Sadly I proved my lack of capability at table football, but such is the way of the world. I am developing a theory that most audience members develop a degree of fear of the performers that they've just seen. Some less than others, of course.
The Huddersfield gig was a pleasure to perform at too. I had to refer to the tape for verification that I'd coped - my stride got broken a few times near the start, but I kept it going. It's not meant to be easy.
Tonight is the Sunderland Royalty gig. This should be a good crowd, which makes it a hard gig for me. I have to remember that you can't take an audience for granted - even a good audience. You have to work or they know you're leaning on them. So I will go there and give them all the energy I have... which is virtually none, since I've had about 9 hours' sleep in the last two nights!
It seems that I've owned my lovely guitar for just over a year now. In that time I've gone from someone who bought a guitar to do a little recording and with the aim of maybe performing comedy on a stage, to a musical act, who uses that guitar quite regularly. It's been on a stage with me quite a lot recently, including last night at XS Malarkey in Manchester. The guitar has more class than my act, but luckily it brings the average quality up.
Okay, so I'm always funnier during the soundcheck!
Today's Musical of the day is Phantom of the Opera. Despite the fact that it probably caused Andrew Lloyd Webber to become a popular figure of disdain, this is a fantastic (phantastic) work. It's quite often the case the works of power and detail become hated if they are also liked by the masses. There's no doubt that this musical, with plenty of memorable tunes and even its slightly cheesy opening overture, which was always being overplayed around the time the show was lauched, is a popular masterpiece and it deserves to be loved.
I've seen Phantom a couple of times. It has a good pedigree. Lyrics by the then unknown Charles Hart, who seems to be using a number of Sondheim-isms in his writing (as does ALW in some of the dialogue scenes IMHO), and direction by Hal Prince, who is behind a lot of famous musicals (including Evita and quite a lot of Sondheim works). The stage machinery alone is worthy of note, but the sheer drama of the piece is just magical. You have everything from pathos to blood-curdling screams and murder... with the obligatory love story. I've read a piece saying that it is cheesy to try to get the audience to sympathise with the villain, but what the hell - everything's possible in showbusiness!
Tuesday, October 7
Monday, October 6
It's a sign from the whacking gods. I've found a Googlewhack within Googlewhack.com. Yikes... and it's not one listed there:
Click to enlarge
Well... I couldn't help it. Googlewhacking is a lovely challenge and I needed a hit. It's addictive, I found another - you'll have to look at the graphics, since writing its words will immediately ruin it!
Click to enlarge
I also have another fun picture. I put this on the Chortle forums and thought I'd share it with you. It was the exciting moment when I simultaneously starred in the film Saturday Night Fever and achieved sainthood. A magical moment in movie history:
Click to enlarge
Friday, October 3
I am not Dave Gorman. Sometimes I wish I could have adventures like his, but it's probably safer to read, watch and otherwise absorb his works. However, in the spirit of his Googlewhack Adventure, I decided to try my hand at a rapid Googlewhack. I've tried my hand before, but not managed it.
Click to enlarge
The excitement of getting a qualifying Googlewhack was palpable. I can only begin to imagine what it must have felt like to achieve what Dave did and didn't. I look forward to receiving my copy of his book.
Note: I just checked out the Googlewhack site and my whack looks inspired by the first on their list - this is not the case. I thought of it before I looked at their site (at least, I'd seen their site before, but this whack came to mind without my referring to the GW site today).
Thursday, October 2
The Leeds gig was good fun. I followed it up last night with a spot at (The Mighty) Swob's gig in Bolton. BOLTON ROCKS!!!
Last night was very good fun. It was also the first time that I've had to stop a joke part way through because I was laughing. If I was the only one laughing it would have been inappropriate... but the audience were laughing so loudly I couldn't control myself... that's acceptable... just.
I almost felt funny!
Too busy to blog?
Well, it has been quite a busy week and I can't believe that I've not had the time to add to this diary. There's loads I'd like to write about, but time is something that is swiftly escaping me. A quick summary of what's happened between the last entry and this would include:
Tonight I head off to sunny Huddersfield for another stab at it. That's a lot of driving, a lot of petrol and many hours of sleep lost.
This coming weekend includes more recording for the concept album. So far, we've had fun. I hope this weekend will break the back of the recording and be even more entertaining.
I have not been blogging this week (until now, that is) but I have written an article on how to set up your own blog. I'd heartly recommend a visit to Micro Mart for this (when it's published) as well as countless informative and educational items of editorial.
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