The home of the haikulator



Sentence Generators
My Stand-up & gigs
The Coding Craftsman

The Musical!
Incredible Productions


Previous Posts

Let's Look At Tom
Did you enjoy that?
Keep It Brief
In Praise of Queen
You Don't Have To Like Everyone
A Sneering Smearing Of Facts
Series 4
How many intelligent people does it take to change...
To say I cried with laughter is an understatement
Answer your goddamned emails you idiots

Blog Archives

October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
August 2009
September 2009
January 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
October 2011
December 2011
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
May 2014
July 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
July 2016
August 2017
January 2018
August 2018
September 2018
July 2019
August 2019
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
December 2020
January 2021
July 2021
September 2021

Friday, July 26

So, How Did it Go? - a.k.a. Did I Enjoy That?

This year I'm not going to the Edinburgh Fringe. I can't say I'm happy about that in itself. There are good reasons why I can't commit to it, the main one of which is that my family life has changed and we have a baby daughter to look after, which isn't compatible with fringe-going, or at least, not compatible enough. I AM happy about having a baby. It's a little conflict. No Fringe- boo. Being a daddy - big yay.

I'm digressing.

With the idea that I'd challenge myself to produce something comedic this year, I registered with the Henley Fringe to do Ashley Frieze's Greatest Hats Album, a show whose premise was simply that I'd do my greatest bits from 10 years+ as a comedian. A simple concept. The other idea was that I'd get some of the satisfaction of writing a show, without the pressure to run in new material, and I'd also get the pleasure of doing an hour long performance, twice, to a nice Fringe audience - Henley has always been reasonably attended for me, and last year's preview of Discograffiti was especially enjoyable.

That was the theory.

I should add that I'd used the Henley shows as an unofficial leaving do from my old day-job employer, and felt a few people might show up from there to boost numbers. I felt it was going to be a highlight of the month.

To answer some of my initial question, I'd have to say it didn't go anywhere near the way I anticipated. So many things were not as I imagined, and you could say that they took away from my aims. You could say that, I'm not going to offer any conclusions at this point.

  • I never actually got the time to write the show - I had about 3 ideas in my head for how it would work, and then procrastinated horribly.
  • Changing jobs between organising the show and doing it meant the dynamic of my life had also changed.
  • My goal to do a purely guitar-based standy-uppy show crumbled when I realised I could take the piano, and that I wanted it as a crutch, making the show immediately more like the last 3 years' solo shows, the sort of thing I was thinking I might move away from.
  • The venue wasn't equipped, so I had to take my own stuff along - this actually wasn't an issue, but made me feel like I wasn't being recognised by the organisers for what I do.
  • The publicity that was made by the organisers somewhat failed to say what the show was about.
  • There were 2 pre-sales on day 1 and 10 pre-sales on day 2.
  • On day one, the numbers were boosted by three friends of the venue owner, who were asked to turn their evening into a spontaneous ladies' night out to avoid the place being totally empty. These ladies had an average age of about 60.
  • One both days, the pre-sales were all from people I knew, except for two people on day 2, one of whom claimed to be a reviewer.
Somewhere there's a young comedian, who's just bust into TV laughing his head off at the fact that he didn't have to do these two gigs. Not like this.

So what did I make of performing my stuff to a bunch of ex-work-colleagues, and rent-a-crowd people? What did it feel like?

You can stop reading at the next sentence if you wish. It was pretty okay, actually.

To expand on this, I have to compare it with last year's full-show experience. Discograffiti was quite a difficult show to put together. I wanted to use more new material in it than I did, though I wrote quite a bit for it, and only kept older material which both suited it and which was really strong. I had a lot of awkward or awful previews with the show, which seemed not quite to come together before Edinburgh, though it got closer and closer to a show before I left to go there. I was so pushed for time and perhaps so uncommitted to the content of the show that I didn't learn it at all before going to the Fringe, taking a crib sheet on my tablet on stage with me. All in all, I ended the Fringe thinking it had been a bit of a disappointment, and I didn't listen back to the recording.

I forgot what I'd been doing between shows. I had been rewriting and editing the show. By the end of the Fringe I had a pretty slick 55 minutes which kept the laughs coming when it meant to. Of course, I'm judging this on the last two performances, which were extra special because the audience came in numbers with an end-of-term spirit. So everything appeared to work, which was great. When I eventually listened to the show back, I was proud of it. In February this year - 5 or so months later!

The point is, I didn't appreciate it when I had it.

The Henley experience this year is something I did appreciate as I went along. In terms of career, general writing, finance, and personal growth, I can't say I took anything away from the last couple of shows. In terms of everything else, it was lovely.

To understand why it was lovely, you have to understand the atmosphere. Pictured is the "stage" set up for my show. It's the back of a small but perfectly formed coffee shop in Henley called Hot Gossip. It's well worth a visit. Everything there is pleasant and personable.

I turned up with an estate car full of stuff and my high-falutin' demands, which mainly were "can I plug everything in and sort it all out for myself, please?" and I was treated like a member of the family. They couldn't do enough for me. I nearly left on both nights with a packed lunch. Just lovely.

The Henley Fringe woman on the ground as also very helpful and great company. Even if the show hadn't gone ahead, I'd have had a pleasant evening out.

Also, on day one, there was a member of the shop's staff sitting around doing not much (as there was not much to do). I discovered a "ring this bell for attention" bell on the counter and explained how, if I made a gag in conversation, especially a bad one, I could make it funny by just ringing the bell. So if someone said something like "With a salad I like dressing", I could say "Dressing, eh? That's my favourite sort of gown. [PING]". Yes, you had to be there. I want a bell for home! [PING]

Despite the low numbers, I decided to take to the stage and share my stuff with the audience to have fun. At no stage did I consider whether I was disappointed with the turn out. That wasn't my role. The only thing which gave me a few moments' anxiety was the suitability of the material for the audience. I knew they'd go with pretty much anything if they were comfortable, and I realised my scripted first page was simply the wrong tool for the job. So I changed it. I wasn't that married to the script. The script was really just a playlist of stuff I wanted to perform again.

I quickly came to the conclusion on both nights that I'd enjoy the overlap between the stuff on my list of things and the audience's tastes. I delivered two slightly different shows, switching in different material between the nights and the audience went with it, at least enough of them went for it for enough of the time.

Why wouldn't I enjoy it. I wrote these jokes to get laughs and I chose them because I enjoy them or at least enjoy the reaction they cause.

One of my ex-colleagues commented on one of my routines in my leaving card - it has an audience-participation element. I foolishly gave her her wish to be the person who writes the word that I have to sing. It didn't backfire.

On the first show with the more mature audience, I baulked at saying one of the rude-word punchlines in one of my songs. I replaced it with "I'm not going to sing that word". This was foolish, but my second brain, the one which edits my show and goads me into being silly, while my primary brain performs, told me that I had to quickly break the taboo I'd just declared, and that it would be funny to add, a line or two after my "I'm not going to say that" the line "by the way the word I wasn't going to say was...". I did this, which I think is quite funny, and then nearly gave myself the giggles.

Throughout both shows I had a chance to remember why my hard-won, experience-edited material is worth repeating, or at least, worth repeating to a dozen or so people in a small coffee shop. We all had a laugh and I really enjoyed it.

So that's how it went.

Gotta run, I think that's BBC3 on the phone. They want to know if I'm free. Do I look like John Inman? [PING]


Post a Comment

<< Home

All content ©2001 - 2020 Ashley Frieze