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Friday, June 18

On The Brink

So many things rattle through my brain and would be ideal candidates for sharing on this very screen. There is a lot of stuff happening at the moment and I could use a chance to put my thoughts into some sort of an order. A quick bullet list of events from the last week or so will get the juices flowing, so to speak.
  • I've been an awfully absent nursemaid to an ill girlfriend
  • I was on Radio Leeds last night
  • So I drove a long way
  • I had my car broken into
  • I did a gig in London
  • I did a couple of previews of my Edinburgh show>
  • I did various other gigs, including a Jongleus spot

There's enough there for a much longer discussion. On top of that, the day job still manages to challenge and befuddle. So, in some sort of structure, here are some thoughts on some of those things.

Poorly Girlfriend, Poor Service
As is quite apparent from the way I run myself ragged, I'm not the best of people to rely on if you need time from me at short notice. The gigging has me committed to doing stuff all over the place all of the time. I have limits in place to avoid overbooking myself and making it impossible to spend any time at home with loved ones. Sometimes I overcommit. In a normal circumstance, the overcommitting isn't the worst issue - it can be overlooked.

My girlfriend has had tonsilitis for the last 2 weeks (well, various illness and then being made better while still week) and I've been trotting all over the place, with a heavy heart, unable to do the right thing - either stay at home with her, cancelling a gig I feel I can't cancel, or go to the gig and neglect someone who's ill in bed.

I need to review the way I conduct myself. If this is the normal way I go about my life, then it's not victimless.


Luring Friends To See Shows
I feel a bit bad about it. I don't want all the people who've ever known me to think that I only see them as "potential audience". However, when you've got shows to do, you have to push your social network. So I've been pimping myself on various channels. Hopefully it comes across as reaching out across the years, distances, and whatnot. In short, I'll like these people if they don't come to my shows...

... just not as much as if they do. :)

Previews I Have Done
So, a couple of notable previews of . Firstly there was my own showing at The Hen and Chickens. I know a lot about this showing because I've watched the video I made of it, and I've also listened to the soundtrack of that video several times over in the car. It will very much be the reference point against which other shows are measured.

A lovely audience came specifically to see me and did their best to see the funnny in the material. This led to a number of laughs I wasn't expecting. It also showed me where the lulls are in the material and delivery. People seemed to enjoy themselves, and that's the pay back for them coming to see me.

I knew that the follow-up would also be a "tricky second album" and it proved to be challenging. That said, it went pretty well and was a great learning experience. I am clear in myself that this show needs a lot of performance energy to carry it off, and that I'll be slowly, but surely, trimming bits of the material to leave only the strongly strongest strong stuff.

For now, though I've had two London previews of a show, which I've already performed twice in Brighton and which I did an audience-present read-through of in Stafford. So, that's 5 shows down. The next show is good old "Show 6". This is the one where it re-gels. Probably.

To be honest, if I knew how this worked that scientifically, I'd be more in control of it. I'm enjoying the process of doing what seems best at each stage along the way. Bring it on!

The Bastards!
Returning to my car after Wednesday's gig in central London, where the car was parked in a reasonably well lit area in what should be a decent part of London, I found a police car parked next to my car. Broken glass on the floor. A break in. Bugger!

Flashback to earlier in the day. Shall I unpack the car? There's a piano in there, a piano stand, a PA system, mic stands, a case full of tricks, a box full of wires, a box full of props and other stuff. Basically, the whole of my show equipment's in there. What did they take? Shit shit shit.

I checked out the equipment, it was all there.

So I gave some details to the police and then arranged for the window to be replaced. It would have to be a temporary plexi-glass repair. They sent a man to central London at midnight. He constructed me a new window out of perspex and then fitted it into the frame, so that the car is rain proof and secure enough for a bit. Wow.

I had a late night coming up the following night, so I was feeling a bit sorry for myself for the loss of sleep that this incident had caused... then it struck me. The laptop bag? Where is it? Uh oh.

No laptop in the bag, so that wasn't lost. However, my recent purchases from Amazon were in there. Also, there were my notebooks. Words I wrote down to store them for later... gone for good. That's what hurts. I've had three car break ins now, for various reasons in various situations, they always take my notebooks.

The thieves also got my cheque book and some bills - let's hope they can be arsed to sort the bills out, because I'd been procrastinating.

It's a nuisance, but I'll live. Not even sure it's worth making an insurance claim. Sigh.

Gigs are...
Generally speaking, the stand-up is going well. I can't recall a "phoned in" performance of late, which is a good benchmark. I enjoyed my trip to Hammersmith Jongleurs. You get all manner of insecurities and forebodings playing to a larger audience than usual, especially in a massive room. However, I stood up there and did my thing, and felt like I was in control of the situation.

And when it works, you can sometimes slightly step out of yourself and say "will you look at that, I DO feel confident just being up here and doing this sort of a think like this". And that's probably part of the drug that makes you want to go back and do it. And you should start a sentence with "And".

In a more intimate situation, you can have more inspiration. I've done a bit of MCing recently, which requires more spontaneous material and witticism. You jump off the cliff and grab onto something funny as you fall.

I have a new resident MCship in Cirencester, the first of which I've done recently. It was good fun. Indeed, it was a nice gig from start to finish, proving the simple fact - if you put good comedians in a room with a good audience, great stuff happens (I'm excluding myself from this description).

I want to do a rant about pseudo-edgy comedians at this stage and how they don't understand how to make comedy (compared with funny edgy comedians who do), but not now. I'll rant about it another time.

So I love comedy still. Which is good, because I do a lot of it.

Looking Forward To Leeds
At the moment, my head is sort of jingling with the half-formed re-writes that came out of the show I did on Monday. I could really use a rehearsal, though I think I could get some of these things right pretty quickly. I'll make time to corral my thoughts into order before show time on Sunday, I'm sure. Small tweaks, only.

It's weird organising a show 200 miles away. I've done my best to spread the word. I've done the press. I did the radio (though I suspect that the radio won't turn out to have had a great effect on things - to not try would have been a guarantee of 0 effect). There's not much more I can reasonably do except turn up to the venue and do my thing.

On the one hand, I'm looking forward to another show where it's all about me - I'm the only one on the poster, and people are coming because they want to see what I'm offering. On the other hand, I'm utterly mortified at the whole self-promotion bit. What's the best way to feel like a fraud? It's to say "Hey, I'm really brilliant" and then immediately fail to live up to your own hype.

However, I've come to the conclusion that I've made something which is enjoyable and illuminating, so hopefully people will enjoy their hour with me on Sunday. I can't say more than that.

Clippety Doodles
I uploaded a couple of YouTube clips:

This is my "Writing a Love Song" routine from

And with a song from last year's Seven Deadly Jokes, here's a pop video that Hannah George made of our Amy Winehouse Song:

Looking Forward to Edinburgh
I've been on the Edinburgh trail since February, when I decided to do this show. With the Brighton run in May as the first waypoint on the trail, the Fringe really takes over one's life. It's sort of a good thing. It's also a bit much from time to time. So much stuff to organise.

However, we're getting onto the final, very very long, straight. Basically, I'm about to pay the rent for the flat. We're at the middle of June. By the middle of July, I should expect my preview shows to be pretty robust versions of the show. The first half of August will be weird as the festival starts without me, and I have a few gigs to do before I go up there.

Then I'll be there, and I'm definitely over-committed. My first week may hurt. I'm doing three shows a day minimum in week 1:
  • My solo show
  • The stand-up show I do every year
  • A nightly MC slot at a gig

And I've got guest spots in other shows hither and thither.

However, assuming I keep my voice, and there's a risk there, I should hit week 3 with vigour. Hopefully I'll work up a nice lather and get into a health kick to knock away some of the excess flab that's making me a bit of an articulated lorry of and individual.

I wouldn't miss the Fringe without good reason. I'll also be glad when I can stop obsessing about the whole process of putting my show together.


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