6th August 2015 – A rant or three and looking forward to Edinburgh

Firstly three rants

1. State of local comedy

In a recent blog https://plymouthhohoho.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/do-venues-promoters-and-comics-actually-care-about-their-audiences/ I bemoaned the state of comedy in our area and in particular the constant changes to lineups which are not being communicated to the paying public so they constantly have to turn up to gigs without having any indication who is performing. An update to that follows.

I contacted local venues including Plymouth BBar to tell them that following previous multiple incidents and having taken legal advice, it would be my expectation that if I had bought tickets for their event for a particular lineup they should keep people in the loop for changes.

Their lineup for 5th August was billed as

Closing – Geoff Whiting
Opening – Neil McFarlane
Compere – Chris Norton Walker
Open spot – Josh Smith

On Monday 3rd they sent out a mail with the same info, and also posted this on Facebook. On Tuesday 4th, a day before the gig they advertised the night again with a link to the same lineup. I pointed out that on Mirth Controls gig list they were advertising for Compere and Headliner at 5:30pm on the 4th.

I got no response and up to a few minutes before the gig the lineup was still the same. I was waiting until the last minute to buy and would have quite liked to confront Geoff Whiting face to face about his comedy policies but bearing in mind I had no idea whatsoever what the final lineup was, I was not prepared to pay on the offchance.

Who is to blame here? The venue or Mirth? What was the actual final lineup? Did Geoff Whiting actually turn up or was this at least the fifth time in the last couple of years he has pulled himself where advertised for a gig local to us? For the answers to these questions tune in for the next episode of “What the F*** is the Mirth Lineup”

I also pointed out in the same blog my problems with some preview nights at Hannah’s in Newton Abbot. I made a direct complaint to the venue about this on the 11th July. I got the following reply back from them on the 11th July.

Thank you for your email. I am sorry to hear of your experience and have forwarded your concerns to the departments involved and have asked them to contact you as soon as possible.”

Four weeks later I have not heard a thing. Which kind of reinforces my point about their quality of customer service!

2. Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards

No matter what I say here is going to be seen as sour grapes, so here goes anyway.

I was keen to apply for one of the three public judges spaces for this years awards. Though I never thought for a second I would be successful as there are many more people with vastly much more comedy experience than myself. And it is clear from previous panels that the so called public places usually go to people already heavily involved in the industry already, journalists, promoters and acts.

But I gave my application a huge amount of time and consulted with many people within the industry with experience as well as 5 previous judges for advice.

I decided I wanted my application to stand out from what I anticipated would be the norm. So when asked to submit short reviews of my three favourite comedians, I chose two that most people in the industry would not be well aware of, as well as my absolute favourite Tony Law. I deliberately did not choose who I thought were necessarily the BEST comedians as I wanted to show a broader knowledge of the industry. I did get the offer to have fringepig and kate Copstick review these, but chose not to as I would not feel happy if my reviews were effectively someone elses, probably the first mistake.

I also had an interesting bit of advice from Kate Copstick via a mutual friend who paraphrased her advice as such. “But don’t bang on too much about crazy record setting. Its good to show the passion – but focus on the breadth of shows he has seen and how he is able to analyse and communicate his analysis. that and a real passion for comedy is what she will be looking for”. I was always going to follow this and made one mention of the World Record as a proof of stamina for the task.

I did think the record would count against me as it clearly counted me in this category “…the crazies who just love everything”, something I disagree with as I tend to think of myself as very critical, though appreciative of all those who do entertain Carole and myself.

So, I was very sceptical of my chances, but knew I had given it what I thought was my best shot. I have no problems with not being chosen but here is my gripe.

The Fosters team were incredibly rude throughout the whole process.

1. Applications were never acknowledged

2. No one knew when they could assume they had been rejected from the process so they were left in limbo waiting to hear something for three months.

3. No one received a courtesy reply (how much effort would it take to let people know they had been unsuccessful with one mass email out thanking people for their time and saying they were welcome to reapply the following year). Basic courtesy missing methinks. People only actually found out on the 3rd August via a tweet announcing the panel, published on ‘Beyond The Joke’

4. I did actually email the team on 27th May a few days before the interviews were going to take place to ask the following.

“I would assume that my application has been unsuccessful as I have not heard anything and interviews are next week.

Can you confirm as I provisionally had 2 days leave booked from work and am being hassled by my bosses as to whether I need them.

Will there be a formal rejection sent to all unsuccessful candidates at some point?”

This was never responded to which was also extremly rude, as I wanted to plan my Fringe if, as assumed, unsucessful.

I did tweet my disgust at their disgusting treatment of applicants on 3rd August after they announced the panel. But also received no comment to this either.

Poor Fosters, poor.

Obviously for those three who were successful I wish them the best, I bet it will be the most amazing experience of a lifetime, which is why I applied myself. But there will be no point in trying again, especially after this blog 😉

3. Edinburgh Accomodation

Two years ago we had an absolute nightmare at Edinburgh losing our planned abode on the day we were checking in, despite having paid a year in advance https://plymouthhohoho.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/16th-august-2013-hostelbookers-com-destroyed-our-trip/

We have been wary of this ever since. This year I booked us into Snoozebox at Gilmore Park a mile or so from ‘the action’ and so within easy walking distance. On the 27th July I received an email from them saying that due to problems with the site they had to move the location. This was to somewhere near the airport 8 miles out and totally impractical with the kind of schedule I always have. I was livid so having found an alternative home in a hostel off Cowgate at not TOO much more cost. I cancelled this ridiculous proposed home. I voiced my displeasure with them and contacted Edinburgh Council to get the true story. I got a reply today.

This told me that Snoozebox never had a formal agreement with the Council and when the Council visited the site they found multiple problems including asbestos. All of these could notvbe fixed in time. And Snoozebox were formally told they could not use the site on the 7th July. So why did they wait a full 20 days to inform their customers of this fact. Pretty obvious methinks, they wanted to leave it until the punters had no alternatives and were unable to find alternatives and cancel. And also of course continuing to book people into a site that was never available. Ring any bells? It reminded me a lot of the Freestival/PBH Battle of Cowgatehead.

Anyway this does leave me a little nervous about my new accomodation in Edinburgh Student Halls for obvious reasons.

Right, ranting time over, time to look forward to Edinburgh. We honestly did not plan to go this year, until by some strange stroke of luck I did get a Foster’s place. Finances are always an issue with everything costing a fortune up there. Once, however, it became obvious Foster’s was not an option Carole absolutely insisted that I go up for a week on my own. She knows me too well and could foresee the wave of depression missing it all would send me into. She has several other plans for her school holidays this year including entertaining a 67 year old lady Facebook friend who is coming over to do a tour of the UK and Europe.

It is a weird feeling knowing we will apart for over a week (including travelling time), as this is the longest we will have been apart since we have been together. And the thought fills me with real misery although I am equally excited about being back at the Fringe. Anyway, as always I have fitted in as much as possible during my time.

My journey was ill advised. But, bloody cheap! I am going via megabus. £8 Plymouth to London and then £17 London to Edinburgh. And the stopover in London lets me fit in two shows at the Camden Fringe on the way.

Carole was going up to Glasgow separately at the end of the Fringe for her mums 80th Birthday, with American friend Mary Ann in tow. As this now fits after my pay day, I worked out I can join them and share the driving on this trip, where we are dropping into Liverpool as a stopover on the way and visiting Baby Blue, for the comedy of course. While they do the family thing and sightsee, I am being dropped off for another 3 days at the Fringe, lol. I was due to join them for the birthday on the 31st but this has now been moved to a big party on the 29th which I can’t make because of show commitments. I am genuinely sad about this because I really do like my mother in law and the rest of the family.

I hope I get to meet lots of friends, old and new who share in this love of comedy. Here is my schedule if you are interested or fancy saying hi at any time. Edinburgh 2015

On a final very happy note, anyone who  knows us will know we keep rescue chickens. This Sunday we picked up 4 new girls to join our happy clan of rescuees. Say hi to Josie Long, Nicky Wilkinson, Sofie Hagen and Catriona Knox (the chicken versions) on their first afternoon of freedom from the evil battery hen cages.

Sofie 2

Sofie 2

Sofie 1

Sofie 1

Nicky

Nicky

Nicky 2

Nicky 2

Josie

Josie

Catriona and Sofie

Catriona and Sofie

Catriona 2

Catriona 2

Catriona 1

Catriona 1

Sofie 3

Sofie 3

Dave.

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