December 2016

Sat 2nd December, and here we are at the lovely Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington. It’s a bit of a hike up to GT, not that much further in miles than Exeter but no fast dual carriageways, and all a bit twisty and windy as we make our way up through Devon’s further reaches.

We’ve traipsed up for Mark Steel and Who Do I Think I Am, a story of Mark’s search for his birth mother, a Scottish model, quite a tale and with surprises along the way. I don’t want to spoil the story, so won’t say much more that. With opening pokes before the interval at the Brexiteers, Mark’s leftwing politics are no secret.  We’ve had plenty of leftie rants recently, but there’s still plenty of ire left to be mined in this particular subject.

All in all, we had two and a  half hours with Mark, good value for money and a great night out. I’m definitely a convert.

mark-steel

Thursday 8th December.

Just a few days later, and it’s a trip to Exeter’s Phoenix once more. This time for Nish Kumar’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words Unless You Shout The Words Really Loud.

With no support, Nish comes on and gives us half hour of delightful warm up, making it rather ironically known that at last his time has come and with it some small fame. The late David Bowie, James Brown and Prince all get a mention on stage too during this first part of the show. Always strange I think, to find that the people of whom we are fans, are also fans of others.

Nish’s show around hipsters, gentrification, social divisions and rich white men, is quite a performance; at times Nish imploring his audience to keep up with his theme. Cleverly written and funny (of course). There is the inevitable Brexit mention and once more we are aware of how, with recent events, just how much more political comedy has become.

dave-nish-carole

9th December – Dave’s mini trip to London

With Carole having to work (schools!), I took a day off work to traipse off to London for two shows. My Megabus return worked out at £4.10 including booking fee. Due into London at 6:20, at this time I was just passing very near to the Museum of Comedy where the first show was due to start at 8pm. I asked the driver whether I could just get off somewhere as I had no luggage but he made me sit on the bus  until it reached Victoria 50 minutes late.

Not being a townie I wondered whether I would make it up in time, but eventually I did with a good 15 minutes to spare, immediately bumping into and being able to say hi to the star of the show Brendon Burns. I thought it was going to be an hour show but it turned out to be 90 of Brendon at his absolute best. As often with his shows, there was a big twist but I wont say anything about the show as he asked people not to, suffice it to say it was brilliant and highly recommended. We both love Brendon (he is Carole’s number one comic) and she was absolutely gutted to have missed this.

As I said, I was expecting this to finish at 9pm giving me a leisurely 30 minutes to stroll down to the Leicester Square Theatre for the Weirdos Big Fat Christmas Wedding, my main reason for the trip. As it was I was late, so ran (waddled) my way down, arriving 10 minutes after the advertised start time, immediately bumping into Bob Slayer who told me I had not missed anything! My seat was in the second row but I stayed at the back until the interval, where I eventually stayed, finding in the break that my seat had been turned into a cloakroom for seemingly dozens of people.

No matter, I had a lovely time, I don’t know where to start, but it was a joyous experience and everyone was brilliant. Unless you attended there isn’t really any point in trying to explain. Carole and I have come to love these guys so much, and their brand of humour, they are always first for things to do in Edinburgh and they will be again in 2017. I got to say hi to lots of people who I have come to know down the years, and went away with a huge smile on my face. I had a wander around for a while and finally got something to eat, then went back to Victoria to settle in for the night. I had booked a 9am bus back, but didn’t want to waste money on a room for a few hours. So I went to the Costa in the station and settled in with a coffee for the night along with around 70 others. I had a Twitter chat with Brendon Burns and then got to sleep. At 3am some miserable gits came around and kicked us all out, saying we couldn’t stay there. So I ended up wandering around until 6am when I became the first customer at Wetherspoons for breakfast. This was quite amusing, seeing the guys who came in asking for a Guinness, only to be told they didn’t serve alcohol until 8am, getting quite aerated.

Eventually, I got onto the bus as planned, but although I had a ticket to Plymouth, I got off in Exeter where Carole met me on the way to…

10th December – A trip to Bridport for our seventh wedding anniversary and a gig at the Bridport Arts Centre with Suzi Ruffell and Tom Allen who are on tour together.

Hands up gov’ner, we were both a little three sheets to the wind here; it was our anniversary weekend and we’d already seen off a pint each and a bottle of Prosecco between us round the corner at the local ‘Spoons before the gig; plus although the art centre didn’t have full bottles of Prosecco; they did have one third bottles, and so we had some of those instead!

From what I can recall (forgot to make notes), Suzie was performing her Edinburgh show ‘Common’, and was her usual fabulous self, stories of her family, her on then off then on relationship with her partner and her dog, er, cat. Some we’d heard before, some was new, all was enjoyable. Suzie has a warm, funny and fizzy delivery; we’ve got a chicken  named after her and she never fails to make us laugh. Positive words were also overheard in the Ladies!!

After the break we had Tom Allen who announced, as if he needed to, “So, I’m gay” as soon as he’d pranced on stage. Family tales were also a feature of Tom’s act, his mum’s friend Joyce featured as did his upbringing in South London. Another artist who comes across as warm and genuine. The audience loved it and so did we!

A big gap till between Christmas and New Year, but soon we are on to Tues 27th, the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth with La Navet Bete and Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. 

This Exeter clown troop, beautifully family friendly (and most people in the audience had children with them) work on two age levels of humour; there’s stuff for the adults that whizzes over the kids’ heads. Their version of the JB had an “electric net curtain” hanging down at the front of the stage to begin with, to contain the “live animals” which obviously could not be let loose to run around the audience!

Of course the original production “goes wrong”, and has to be rescued by the lads who dress up as the various characters using whatever props can be found backstage. Of course there is audience participation (mostly children, plus one adult “volunteer”) and knicker wetting loud bangs and flashes. All good stuff.

Another panto the next day, Wed 28th, this time a definite change of venue as we have caught the morning Megabus up to London and we are at The Latchmere in Battersea for Sleeping Trees and Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves.  

Again, we have an original production that “goes wrong” and the boys have to fix it. We have a “planted musician” in the audience who is “volunteered” to help out – that definitely fooled the wee lad behind us, who had to have the concept of the “plant” explained in a loud whisper by his dad.

The troop are so good at what they do; they are all good actors and there’s plenty of action and a lot of running on and off stage to cover the multiple parts each of them is playing. Of course we all have to have a singsong at the end!

Hoping to have had time for a proper meal before the next gig at 7pm (we had three booked!), Dave had identified a restaurant that did vegan options, but as luck would have it the Trees had gone on longer than we thought and so we had a mad dash from Battersea via bus and Tube to the Soho Theatre, grabbing some food at Victoria on the way.

Thus we found ourselves in Dean Street’s Soho Theatre for Jayde Adams, a lovely Bristolian comedian who was presenting her show “31”(Jayde’s age). A born storyteller, Jayde had a row of costumes hanging behind her, some glittery, some not so, but all looking very theatrical. Later we find out that it is her mum who is handy with a needle and thread and who has kept Jayde in outfits for years.

Jayde’s story of her family, and especially of her sister, weaves a fine cloth; it is by turn engrossing, funny, sad and affirming. The hour flew past in what seemed like a few seconds. Also, wow! This woman can sing! We loved it and I for one can’t wait to see her again!

Last up that evening, and again in the Soho Theatre, we were seeing Scott Gibson, a Scot with a story to tell, and what a story!

After a somewhat airy fairy start (Scott acknowledges he doesn’t know how to start his shows) we get straight into a tale that will have you wondering how Scott even comes to be still here on this Earth!

A stag night, a dodgy Blackpool B and B, headaches,  hangovers, and due to the self-perceived immortality of the young, a complete lack of self-care (IMO) leads to Scott’s health going quickly downhill over a very short period of time. And that’s just for starters!

Scott is the typical dry humoured and direct Glaswegian – he’s a good teller of a tale and there’s plenty of humour injected into this one, despite it’s dark subject matter. We had a lovely time, well worth a viewing if he comes to a venue near you!

Carole.

 

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November Nonsense

After a very busy October, we had a quiet start to November with just four gigs before the 25th for both of us, then Dave going a little mad on a bonus couple of days in London.

Our first gig was Friday 5th Nov (yes, that’s right, Bonfire Night) and in the lovely Watermark venue in Ivybridge. Seann Walsh, once again ably supported by Mark Simmons.

The venue was about 3/4 full, not bad at all for Guy Fawkes night. We were glad to get away from the fireworks (our local council was throwing a firework display in the field near our home, and the locals had been letting off the bloody things all around for a week or more previously). Not good when you keep rescue chooks in a coop in the garden!

Mark was his usual one liner self; a fact which he introduces right at the start. I loved it that he got a few puns in, was interrupted by a later comer, and said  he’d have to start again. The audience laughed, Mark took a deep breath and went through his first few jokes again but getting the audience to complete the punchlines – and we gave it a bloody good go – he was impressed!  I am not and never have been a big pun fan but Mark is quality and I love it when he gives a trademark little chuckle as the audience either groan or roar depending on the line. Later we also we get “Well done Ivybridge, they didn’t get that in ‘insert name of last town here'”. We know how it works Mark. 😉

Mark’s been busy (alongside the brilliant Danny Ward) making Wheelbarrow Town, a gem of a Youtube series set on a farm (Mark’s parents’ place!) We’ve watched the first series plus outtakes and  the Hallowe-en special so far. Seann has had a small part as have several other comedians. All funny and classic cult material – mark my words! Watch it now!

After the break we get Seann with his show One for the Road.

Seann’s getting older and he doesn’t like it. He used to be able to go out drinking all night, now he wants to stay home. His girlfriend annoys him with her “noise machine” aka hairdryer and other household implements. This is further development of his last show’s theme. I’m fully expecting a baby to be coming along anytime soon to give Seann even more to complain about. If he thinks a hairdryer is a horrible noise early in the morning…

The very next night finds us up in Exeter at a frequent haunt, The Bike Shed for Beth Vyse‘s show “Funny As Cancer”. Dave has played a part in this show twice now, during a first viewing during its gestation at Machfest (May )2015, then again in Edinburgh this year, by which time of course, it was fully birthed. We deliberately sat several rows from the front despite Beth greeting everyone at the door in full Dolly Parton wig and false boobs,  handing out ping pong balls, asking us both to sit down front. But Dave wanted to see the whole show from his seat this time, and not some of it from the inside of a Michael Jackson mask!

The show itself is a masterpiece of course, telling the true tale of Beth’s discovery, at the very young age of 28, of a lump in her breast, the subsequent story of her diagnosis, and how she, with support from boyfriend, family and friends, dealt with her disease. It’s funny, touching and at times quite raw, but Beth tells us her story gracefully and leaves us, quite literally, on a high.

Friday the 11th of November and we’re back once more at the Watermark in Ivybridge for Marcus Brigstocke and Why the Long Face? Having seen Marcus before in Edinburgh doing a short stint reading sections from the papers in The Sunday Assembly in August 2013 in a Bingo Hall, and also in Spamalot, we weren’t sure exactly what to expect in what proved to be a two hour long show. As it turned out he was definitely value for money!

why-the-long-face-mbrigstocke

The space was sold out; although there seemed to be a bit of arbitary musical chairs going on along our front row, which was a “temporary” front row created by throwing down some extra seating in front of the fixed rows. Nobody in the venue seemed to know which seat was numbered what, so we all shuffled around with a few other punters and a lady in a wheelchair until the venue and ourselves were happy.

Eventually, just a few minutes late, Marcus came on after a short Voice of God and lifted the needle on the retro turntable which had been belting out muzak, asked the rhetorical question, “Why the Long Face?” and more or less launched straight into a fabulous rant against the Brexiteers and Trump voters for starters. Similar heartfelt insults towards the Tories, the lefties, including Jeremy Corbyn, followed by a particular dig at Nick Clegg gave away (IMO) his slightly left of centre politics.

Following on from this we had personal heartbreak – being messed about for nine months by someone who can’t let go, back to Trump and Marcus having to explain to his young daughter how a misogynistic, racist bigot ended up in the White House, then how annoying are Vapers and people who boast about their Nutribullets amongst other things. That was just the first half! We were all feeling like we had grown central partings in our hair with the blast of vitriol that was coming off the stage. As we entered the break I waited with bated breath to see how many of the audience members would come back for more – almost all of them as it turned out!

The second half was slightly less ranty but still enough to make anybody of a sensitive disposition wince several times – there was even some whimsy and a call back involving Brigstocke wearing … well, I’m not giving anything away.

Marcus does a nice line in accents and is a very funny man; we had a very good time with Mr Brigstocke.

Our next gig was on 18th Nov in Exeter (Corn Exchange) and was the lovely Sara Pascoe (with her show Animal) supported by Jen Brister. Both of these ladies are vegan and were there prior to the (Exeter Friends for Animals) EFFA fair going on in the same venue the next day, Sara having a guest appearance there at noon.

Jen was clever, funny and upfront; giving the audience a very good time indeed by the sound of the applause at the end. Tales of her mum (with Spanish accent) and other observations kept us all entertained for a good 30 minutes prior to the break.

On to Sara then. We’d seen Animal before in an earlier incarnation and although a lot of it was the same, there were a few wee tweaks. Sara reckons she is a “bad vegan” because she likes the results of taxidermy. Her piece about her boyfriend making sure she had life insurance had also changed. I like to see a show change (and grow) as the artist hones and polishes their work.

Sara’s appearance at the EFFA fair the next day was much more about her journey towards veganism and her ethics around her vegan lifestyle. I thought she delivered a lot of ethical points very well and I hope that, although the audience seemed to be mostly veggie/vegan anyway, that she sowed a few vegan seeds in fallow omnivore earth.

On to Friday 25th November and a gig I’d been looking forward to for months. Jonathan Pie Live. We were heading up the A38/M5 once more to Taunton Brewhouse. Initially we’d only been going up for the night, but on spotting that one of our fave bands were playing in Bristol the following evening (along with four support bands), we’d booked an AirBnB room in Taunton for after Pie, then going on up to Bristol on the Saturday after a tour of the Taunton’s best charity shops.

pie

Jonathan (left wing reporter character act) was as ranty as only he can be, (catch his YouTube videos). The conceit was that he was being asked to present Children in Need (much to his disgust) and so he was playing to “air” when the “studio” would ask him for an update on the fundraising. Meantime when he wasn’t “on air” he would be ranting to us about his politics, Brexit, Trump etc as is his wont. Lots of swearies – my favourite being flashed up on the screen behind him – giving us his opinion on what he’d like to do to the Tories, (clue – a short word for fornication).

A break and into the second half, where, technical crackly sound issues which had been apparent in the first half, became far too annoying for Jonathan and he slung his earpiece/mic to the ground, and pinned on a small chest mic. Further irritations for everyone, as Jonathan tried to build to the climax of his show, were provided by idiots getting up to go to the loo. How many times have we seen this at gigs? Go to the loo in the break, that’s what the break is for!! Jonathan was not happy.

Despite the people who don’t know how to behave at comedy gigs, we had a great time.

Carole.

Dave’s Mini London Excursion

28/11 The Bill Murray ACMS
29/11 Soho Theatre Kieran Hodgson – Maestro
29/11 Soho Theatre Lolly Adefope – Lolly 2

I was fortunate enough to be attending a work event in London on the 29th so was allowed to go up the afternoon before and stop over. This allowed me to fit in ACMS on the Monday and then two shows on the Tuesday before a sleeper train back home.

I love the ACMS – this was at their new venue ‘The Bill Murray‘ in Islington which by the looks of it will be a great new venue.

I got there in time to chat to several old friends like Chris Coltrane and Michael Legge and it was a lovely night. My highlights – Will Gompertz from the BBC getting a lot of stick before leaving at the first interval, and then getting much more in his absence. Bec Hill with one of her montages – The Christmas Fox – aww it was lovely. Alexis Dubus and his Shakespeare version of autocorrect. Funniest moment – Joz Norris and his definition of a joke. There was so much going on and so many acts – it went on late but I wished it had carried on all night. Especially as the hotel I was in gave me a room right on the corner of a main street, with no noise protection – even with earplugs the noise was horrendous.

On the Tuesday after work I wandered down to Soho Theatre for the two shows. First up Kieran Hodgson – Maestro. Simply wonderful story linking Mahler and Kieran’s love life. Can see why it got a nomination at Edinburgh. Loved it, though did love ‘Lance’ slightly more. Wonderful characterisation from a wonderful young comic actor.

Then I stayed for Lolly Adefope – Lolly 2. Carole and I have seen Lolly do spots twice before and never really been won over in that environment. However, this was an amazing show, wonderful from start to finish. Great characters, links, serious points to be made, call backs and audience interaction. Faultless and one of my absolutely favourite shows of the 220 or so this year. Just wish Carole had been with me to see it.

Dave.

On the last night of the month, we were in The Phoenix, Exeter for the wonderful James Acaster.  Against a mustard poo coloured backdrop, James, delivered an hour and a half (with a break) of classic whimsy and make-believe. “You guys are the ones I was hoping for, “ he addressed us, his generic audience (he knows, that we know).

From there we went on to the honey scam, (when he had to instruct several people in the audience, who weren’t “getting it”  that they’d better get with the programme, because this was going to go on and on and on) …

We had two male latecomers who were quizzed on why they were so late; they had to confess they’d stayed home to have a couple of drinks and were soundly berated for their tardiness.  He then had some words for the bald but bearded guy who was not laughing at all “you will break me”.

Leading towards the break, there was even more audience interaction; in particular a bloke who confessed that he’d been to the dress up photo booth in Exeter Christmas Market. Questioned about the booth, he said you had to try on four different costumes in a quick change act. Cue much more questioning on the how and the why and the wherefore.

Into the break and yet more chat. Another guy near us finally gave us the name of his hamlet after James just about had to pull teeth to get info out of him. There was a woman punter cackling about ten seconds after every joke and a couple of other hecklers got short shrift.   We went on to Brexit (via brilliant t-bag and Leaning Tower of Pisa analogies)!!

James was giving us good value for money, all the chat and distraction was definitely making us run over time. This may have been problematical for some with smaller bladders, but for us, once more the end of a gig was slightly spoiled, this time by a youngish couple sitting on the end of the row behind us who just had to go to the loo (and get a drink at the same time!) From their attitude it would also seem they’d probably had quite a few drinks already! Acaster was also less than impressed.

All in all, quality acts throughout the month, slightly spoiled by punters who do not know how to behave at gigs. I put a lot of this down to venues who should have a no readmit policy for customers. This might make them think twice about using the breaks appropriately and not drinking like fish!

Carole.

September – Short but Sweet – a Swift Superview

Still in recovery from the Fringe, Edinburgh and the long bus journey south, we’d kept September as a quiet month comedy wise and had only four gigs booked!

First up, on the 10th,  Alfie Moore, retired policeman, with The Naked Stun, at the lovely Watermark Theatre in Ivybridge; a show about Alfie’s case where he had to hunt down a flasher. Of course there’s plenty more in the show than rude raincoat wearers, with lots of anecdotes and eye opening stories from the other side of the thin blue line.

Then on the 20th, a gig at Plymouth Uni as part of Freshers Week – a club type gig with the lovely Laura Lexx hosting, George Rigden opening and Jarred Christmas as headliner.

I always feel uncomfortable at uni gigs because we are invariably the oldest people there, standing out from the youngsters like the pair of old wrinklies that we are.

However, the night was good, not a huge crowd, made to look all the smaller for being in a largish marquee and with very poor lighting, (which was pointed out by the comedians themselves whilst on stage) however with Laura bouncing around on stage with her usual energy and verve, George delivering some good musical comedy with his guitar and Jarred bringing the gig home in his own inimitable style, the night was worth the effort. Lots of audience banter from all three and the young punters (and the two older ones) enjoying themselves. What was that about robot whales Laura??

A visit to Honiton on the 24th (via Exmouth for a wander around the shops and cake at Plantbased) for The Birthday Girls (at the Beehive) with their show Shit Hot Party Legends. Handing out shots of peach schnapps at the start of the show (I got two as Dave was driving!) the girls soon had the sedate Beehive punters warmed up and ready for the show. We’ve seen them more times than we’ve got fingers but they’re always worth a viewing for the high energy dancing, hilarious sketch and vegetable based feminism! Rose, Camille and Beattie get our vote every day for sheer good fun.

Rounding up the month at Sterts at Upton Cross on Bodmin Moor on the 30th, a new act for us, Croft and Pearce, a sketch duo made up of Hannah and Fiona; two ladies with some very cleverly written, to the point, sketches telling it how it is from the female side of life. My favourite characters Jean and June bemoaning middle class, first world problems – oh the angst – but there were lots of other parts just as good and the sketches had a thinly connected story line going on in the background too. There was some cheeky audience interaction – enough to delight the women and thoroughly take the mickey out of several male punters.

We weren’t sure if we’d be outside in the canopy covered, wooden bench seated amphitheatre, so we took a thick blanket and cushions for our nether regions, but in the event, we were in the much smaller (and warmer) studio room. The ladies had had transport problems and we wished for a bigger crowd to reward their seven hour train trip but the small audience was very appreciative and we thought the duo were hilarious. Well worth the trip out and the ticket money. Go and see them!

Carole.

Fri 26th August – Mark Dennett, Louis Burgess, Maggy Whitehouse, Sandi Smith and Danny Ward – Lanson Comedy Storm – Storm Nightclub, Launceston

Brewing up a Storm

Just one more gig for August to add to the eighty-four we saw in Edinburgh – this one just up the road in Launceston. As we were both still on holiday however, we had made a (boiling hot) day of it and given Holsworthy another chance (nope, still dead) and then a trip to Bude where we had games of Crazy Golf and their normal green putting. After I miraculously won both games the first time round, Dave wouldn’t rest until honour was satisfied and he got his wins an hour or two later after a browse round the shops and a cuppa coffee/tea!

Anyway, enough of frivolities! We headed back to Launceston in search of food before the gig, and both found something good at Firebrand. It’s not always easy tracking down decent vegan food so just a heads up for this place who served me a lovely chickpea burger and sweet potato fries!

We then headed back to Pennygillam where we’d been told the Night club was and found it without too much bother and a hello to the lovely Mark Dennett at the door.

A quick hello to the other comedians, a dash to the bar and the loo and we were seated (at tables) not too close to the front but still in the firing line if any comedians dared. The room was quite large and, we think owing to the very hot day, could definitely have been a bit busier, but a decent enough audience considering this monthly night was only on its second evening. Dry ice was pumping out by the side of the stage to add to the atmosphere.

First of was Mark as our MC – and after a few tiny teething problems with the mic he soon got off to a bantering start with several of the punters. A short warm up was all that was needed and soon Mark brought on our first act, Louis Burgess.

Tonight Louis was opening and we could immediately see why; his act has come on in leaps if not bounds since last viewing. Now using an electronic loop board as well as his trusty guitar, he rapped, did spoofs of well known songs, danced and joked his way through a twenty minute or so set. The punters were lapping it up and it was just what was needed to get us off to an energetic start.

After our first obligatory break, we had Maggy Whitehouse, an ordained Independent Catholic Priest. We’ve seen Maggy before, the first time being at the B-Bar and hadn’t been blown away that time; but here again, as with Louis, Maggy has grown her act. She told us of her relief at being a comedian which means she can “swear at last” and doesn’t get nervous because “if you can lead a funeral service, you can stand up in front of anyone”! Maggy is much more assured and funnier on stage than anybody would expect of a “woman of the cloth”, and all enjoyed her.

Our second middle act was Sandi Smith. Well known to us, Sandi gave us a mix of old club set and some newer material. Lines around the older woman’s body in dressing rooms in clothes shop, waxing, and “mature sex”. All getting plenty of laughs of recognition from the mostly older audience.

Our next break, and then our headliner, Local boy (Plymouth) now in London,  Danny Ward who is quality standup. Danny has a classic club set, cleverly written and delivered everytime as if it’s just come freshly off his pen. His delivery is of a man slightly disgruntled and annoyed at the inconvenience of life and it works a treat paired with his material.

We always enjoy the car keys, the random aisle at The Lidl, and The London Look. Danny is also fabulous at the thousand word a minute rants, and we had at least two of those during his half hour.

All in all, an entertaining evening and we may well be back. The next Lanson Comedy Storm is Friday 30th September.  Go along and support this fledgling comedy night – they are trying to do something for the locals!

Carole.

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Fringe August 2016

By Dave.

13th August – We decided months ago that to save money and leave more for shows, we would catch a coach to Edinburgh. Within minutes of getting on the coach we regretted this, as we were informed that the toilet was out of order for the sixteen hour journey.

Within ten minutes of the journey commencing, a broom and child seat booster fell down from the overhead compartment, landing directly on my head. We laughed at the time, but it could have ended in an injury.

We survived the rest of the journey with little incident, although we were both too excited to get much sleep, and were also somewhat hindered by the noise of a captive wildebeest. At one point the relief driver woke this poor creature up and told him off for making too much noise. This lasted approximately five minutes until the creature was fast asleep and snoring away again.

14th August Day 1– Arrived in Edinburgh at 7:50am and made our way straight to Wetherspoons for breakfast. We got there five minutes before opening and met a local ‘character’ who was waiting for her usual Sunday tea and toast. But only if they hadn’t ‘Hiked the prices up again for the Fringe’.

Then off for a shower at Waverley Station and then to our student digs to leave our bags there for the day as we were not allowed to check in that early. A first visit to the Blunderbus to see how the Chilcott Report reading was going and then off for our 11 planned shows.

( Just after collecting some tickets from the Fringe office I spotted a blue suit rushing past on The Royal Mile, my first spot in real life of the wonderful Jonathan Pie whose show we will be seeing later in the year – Carole)

Minky: A Sketch Show

Three young students. Some very good sketches and very few misses. Thoroughly enjoyable start to the first day.

Adam Larter’s Return on Investment

Wow – What a show, Adam Larter and his conspirators of Joz Norris, Marny Godden and Lucy Pearman. Satrising 80s life and finance. Fantastic script and performances from all these crazies. We loved it.

Matthew Highton – I, The Universe

This slot was supposed to be Ali Brice, but he cancelled his show as he was suffering from the night before. It was easy though to switch to the room next door. Another enjoyable romp with elaborate effects.

Beth Vyse as Olive Hands in All Hands to the Pump…

What can we say here? I saw Olive Hands previous show three times though never all the way through as I always ended up being part of the show. So feared for the worst again. And yes, here I go again, and here I am being face painted again. Exactly the sort of lunacy we have come to expect and love from Beth Vyse. Everyone knows I love her. And will continue to do so. Will I ever get to see one of her shows without being part of it though?

Ed Aczel’s Foreign Policy

Ed’s brand of anti comedy is not to everyone’s taste. I love him, Carole doesn’t. One of a handful of acts we are diametrically opposed on. I had a lovely time, Carole, having seen him twice now, will probably not want to see him again.

Pete Johannson

Pete was poorly this day. Suffering from a heavy cold and debating whether to pull the show. He didn’t and I was glad for it as he was superb as always. Carole missed out on this one to check us in to our accommodation and pick us up some food!

Joz Norris: Hello Goodbye

I saw Joz in 2015 when he played to me and a handful of other people. It is hard to generate energy needed for a high tempo interactive show, but we all did our best that day. This year, a very healthy crowd. And a quite beautiful show, structured, silly, sublime. We both loved it. And we both love Joz – a lovely man and one of our heroes of the Fringe.

Paul Currie: FFFFFFFMILK!

What can we say about Paul, like our favourite comic Tony Law, he weaves a tapestry of silliness and you have to just go with it. We had both seen and loved his previous show, but this was even better. Faultless and beautiful. One of our joint top four shows of this year’s Fringe.

Mat Ewins: Mat Ewins Will Make You a Star

We have seen Mat at the Fringe four years running, and his shows have always been hugely entertaining, Also, occasionally, for the things that went wrong. Not so this year. Amazing technical skill, great jokes, and interactions. Another faultless show for us and unhesitatingly another one of our joint top 4 shows of this years Fringe.

Kate Lucas: Whatever Happened to Kate Lucas?

Carole always likes a musical comic. We had first seen Kate during 2012 in an all female show at the Three Sisters on the Cowgate. It was a surprise then, that this was her debut hour. Armed with guitar, she sang some great comedy songs and intertwined with a good narrative. Thoroughly enjoyable.

We had been planning on going to the Gilded Balloon next for Rebel Bingo and then pop along to the Blunderbus after, but on checking my phone found Rebel Bingo was cancelled. As we were close to our digs and we were knackered from a long day and 36 hours with virtually no sleep, we decided to go ‘home’ get a good night’s sleep and be ready for another long second day. It is probably as well we did as it was then that I discovered that I had left the folder with all the tickets for the other days, along with money, at home. So panic stations hit. Nothing we could do until the morning however.

So day one, an AMAZING day, best start to a Fringe ever. But would there be a day two?

Paul Currie and Mat Ewins were the stand outs of day one, closely followed by Adam Larter et al, Beth Vyse and Joz Norris.

15th August Day 2 – We got up really early, so Carole could contact our house sitters, who found the folder of missing stuff in my office. They kindly arranged to get it all couriered up to our halls for the following day. I popped along to the Fringe office and the lovely Ciara, who had spoken to me via email in the past, and knew about my World Record and our rescue chickens named after comics, made it really easy for us and reprinted our tickets for the day. (Thank you so much again!!!). It was 10:20am so we had to miss our first planned show which was due to start at the same time, but to be honest the relief for not being totally screwed, far outweighed this. We went and got the first of three lovely breakfasts during the week at our favourite haunt Hula Juice Café. They remembered us immediately from years past, and we really felt at home.

And onto the shows…

Andy Storey – Funny Storey

We had followed Andy when he made the final of the BBC New Act Competition, and had seen him a couple of years previous in Manchester the day after I finished the World Record. It was billed as a less than an hour show, and was heavy on laughs and Andy has a lovely relaxed style. Still very much and up and comer. We enjoyed seeing him again a lot.

Sketch Thieves

Thoroughly enjoyable hour with a format that can work or not. It certainly did this day. (Unfortunately I cannot remember everyone we had, except Lovehard and Best Boy, who we will look out for in the future).

Katia Kvinge: Squirrel

Character comedy, loads of characters, a bundle of manic energy. A multitude of voices. A delightful hour from someone we had not seen before.

Goose: Hydroberserker

One of our most anticipated shows and boy did it deliver. Third show we have seen from the boys and as wonderful as ever. With wonderful interactions, and a lovely cameo from Kath from Geins Family Giftshop. Oh and a live band. You have to see Goose for yourselves to appreciate how good they are. Another of our four top shows this year immediately followed by another.

Sarah Kendall: Shaken

We have said before that Sarah has a lot to answer for. If we had not gone to her late night show at the Soho Theatre in 2011, we would not be as hooked as we are now on comedy. Her narrative storytelling is beyond compare, and always has us spellbound from start to finish. Sarah will always be top of our list to see and she delivered again in spades. We were surprised not to see another nomination for best show as this show was as good as last year.

The Eulogy

A strange one. Enjoyable clowning and a clever show. But not something that stood out against the best of what we saw this year.

Ria Lina: Dear Daughter

Always love to see Ria, Carole gets excited seeing anyone with a ukulele and spends as much time watching the playing techniques as listening to the show ( I know! It’s very distracting but educational at the same time! – Carole) Another very fine effort from one of our faves.

Simon Slack: The Fantasist

A very odd one this. I really enjoyed this drug fuelled romp about loneliness and depression, which was very strange. Carole hated it. As did half the audience who walked out.

Spank – Laura Lexx and James Loveridge hosting. Kitten Killers, Alison Spittle, Pete Dobbing, Al Porter, Jollyboat, John Robertson. We do not tend to enjoy the raucous late night gigs like this and Late N Live. But tonight we were still in celebratory mood following the rescuing of the Fringe, and we bought tickets as there was a great combination of acts we know and love and those that we had not seen before. We had an absolute blast from start to finish. Despite one very strange bloke at the front, who looked like he might go on a killing spree at any moment. Bloody fantastic end to a night.

And so to bed, shows of the day. Goose and Sarah Kendall by a street but Spank was an absolute delight. We aren’t too old yet!

Day 3 – 16th August

We had lots of contingency plans for this morning as still needed the special delivery post to actually turn up, but no need to worry as the package was waiting at reception as soon as we got up. So off we toddled for a breakfast at the new Spoons, The Booking Office by Waverley Train Station, and a day principally at the Stand.

Josie Long and Martin Williams: Investigations

A lovely start to a day. Any time with Josie is fun. And this show was exploring dodgy politicians and their other interests. Corrupt bunch of fuckers they are too.

Mulhollandland

Our one show away from the Stand this day, at a dodgy little venue just down the road in the middle of nowhere. We arrived to find the audience was just we two, then met the lovely Patrick Mulholland who after asking whether we wanted him to go ahead and being greeted with an enthusiastic “Yes!” from us, proceeded to give us an hour of surreal wonderfulness. Ghost Cow was brilliant as were several other of his creations. This was billed as a work in progress, and we cannot wait to see the full show next year. Hopefully in a better venue. Well done fella, this was our surprise of the week.

Seymour Mace: Shit Title

Back to more well known territory with the wonderful Seymour who we have been back to see for several years now. Another wonderful show from the master of silliness and fun.

Andy Zaltzman: Plan Z

This was actually the first time we had seen Andy live and we loved his political show, featuring a lot of Post Brexit angles.

John Gordillo: Love Capitalism

Another fantastic show about consumerism from a master of stand up. We had seen John with some of this material at Plymouth Comedy Club in 2015. But what a great show it was incorporated into. One for thought.

Andrew Doyle: Future Tense

We last saw Andrew at our first Fringe, the night after a punter threw a pint over him when walking out. He is a bit ranty, and dark and we still love him. And will be looking forward to seeing him again supporting Jonathan Pie later in the year.

Standard Issue Stands Up

A big line up featuring Sarah Millican, Ellie Taylor, Harriet Dyer, Zoe Lyons, Susan Calman and Jo Caulfield. Whats not to like. It was great. Especially Harriet our local lass who got the best reaction we have ever seen her get, which made us very happy.

ACMS: The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

We have been to several ACMS now. Last time, Carole said it was not for her, so I was glad she let me talk her into giving it another go. She was glad I did as it was a fantastic night from start to finish.

Highlights were Faye Treacey playing vegetables as musical instruments. Chris Coltrane unable to say Squirrel. And Deborah Frances White and her quiz. Oh, and I think Carole quite enjoyed me getting dragged up on stage by Howard Read’s children and being forced to sing and dance the Haberdashery/Gnu song over and over. A tune we are still singing two weeks later (earworm!)

A great day. Shows of the day were Mulhollandland, Seymour Mace and ACMS.

Day 4 – 17 August

We started the day at the Pleasance Dome for The Big Byte Size Breakfast Show

Always a good start to a day. Five or six short plays. With food and drink to start the day. I really enjoyed the Clown/Marriage Guidance act.

Revan and Fennell: Fan Club

Really enjoyable sketch comedy from Devon lasses who we had seen three years before at the final of the Best New Sketch Act and headlining a charity night at a theatre in Babbacombe Devon. Loads of winners and still lots more to come we hope.

Short & Curly: A Curly Night In

What can we say about these guys? We have seen their last four shows and loved them all. This was the best yet. And having seen a very early preview in Leicester in February, it was really interesting to see how it evolved.

Joey Page: Jowie

An enjoyable surreal hour, which had some real highs but also a few lulls.

Katie Mulgrew: Saboteur

Was lovely to see Katie again and she put together a lovely hour full of charm about being a new mum.

Diane Spencer: Seamless

Diane is a wonderful comic. In recent shows, she has thrown off her previous smutty image and produced some quite wonderfully knitted story (and home sewn!) telling shows. This her best yet about becoming a stepmom.

Larry Dean: Farcissist

Another wonderful show from one of the most natural comics and lovely guys we have met.

Jess Robinson – Impressive

We loved Jess the last time we saw her and were really looking forward to this. But despite the bigger production, this did not hold our attention as much as her previous show did. Possibly because it started late and overran and we were worrying about getting to our next show. Also partly because of the weird choice of one particular member of the audience to sit on tables on the stage. It was odd and distracting as he really did not seem to be enjoying it. And was eventually clumsily moved elsewhere by one of the production crew. It was obviously because he was in the position to be part of a major piece of crowd work. But it was also rather clunky and fell flat, like the show did overall for us

Phil Nichol: Twenty

Phil has always been a favourite of ours and this was a best of show to celebrate twenty years at the Fringe. Only about a third full, but what a show Phil gave us. He even dressed Carole and I in Muslim origami costumes and we renamed ourselves Ahmed and Fatima for the rest of the day. She still won’t walk six paces behind me though 😉

Ettieboo’s Cabaret Bonanza

Late night Cabaret compilation at Frankenstein’s. Very rowdy and acts featured were very hit and miss. A bit disappointing.

Late N Live – John Hastings, Kevin Gildea, Larry Dean, Marcel Lucont, Elliot Steel, Aunty Donna

The last time we did late N Live together we hated it – this time it was very good. And we enjoyed ourselves a lot. We went straight from here to the Blundabus to do our slot reading the Chilcott Report, Iraq Out & Loud something we were immensely proud to have been able to contribute to in a tiny way. We did the 5-6am slot. And by the time we got to bed it was 6:30 am and daylight. Not bad for two old 50+ fuddy duddies! And with our first show due to start at 10:45am!

Show of the day Larry Dean for Carole, Phil Nichol for me. But the overall highlight was taking a tiny part in Chilcott.

18th August – Day 5

So, considering we had had just two hours sleep, we did well to get up for another Hula breakfast and make it to our first show. Would we last the day?

A Sketchy History – three young lads doing a history of the world in sketches. Some good stuff, but mostly as the title suggests – sketchy.

Rachel Fairburn: Skulduggery – very good show from Rachel. First time we had seen her since the day before the record attempt two years previous and everything about her style and delivery seems so much more mature.

Dude Looks Like a Lady: Call of Dudey – we met these ladies in Leicester but had other shows booked, so promised to see them here. This was great sketch comedy. Energetic, with great calls backs and interactions. A big future ahead we think.

Danielle Ward: Seventeen – Great autobiographical show by Danielle. Well thought out and thoroughly enjoyable.

Tom Neenan: Vaudeville – We struggled a bit with this one. Tiredness took over and being in a dark portacabin with most of the show taking place in low lighted conditions. It was a struggle, which was a shame as we like Tom’s narrative driven shows. Good ending.

David Mills: Shame! – David is a great comic, and this show is a lot about his experiences playing a role in a recent Meryl Streep movie. Always a winner.

Tim Renkow: King of the Tramps – Another winner from the master of dark comedy. We are always very happy to spend an hour with this chap and he will always be one of the first pencilled in to our schedule.

Limmy: Daft Wee Stories – This run of shows by Limmy was a very cynical cash in. Dearest tickets we bought all Fringe and biggest waste of money. Consisted of a few minutes introducing himself. Twenty minutes reading from his book Daft Wee Stories and a Q&A. (I agree – Carole)

Gavin Webster’s 11 O’Clock Bill – As late night bills go. This was one of the worst we have been to. We got there ten minutes late after getting a little disorientated walking back from the EIC and then saw both acts, who we won’t name as we know they are much better than this, die horrible deaths in front of a small crowd who did not laugh at all. It was a very painful hour – especially after Limmy. A combined waste of nearly £60. Poor end to the day but overall another good one.

Shows of the day – Call of Dudey and Tim Renkow.

19th August – Day 6

Carole got up very early to catch a bus to Glasgow to stay with her sister for the night and catch up with family so I had a little lie-in before a day on my own.

Sooz Kempner – Queen. Lovely little show about Sooz’s life. Enjoyed this a lot, unfortunately smallish crowd did not help.

Alison Spittle Discovers Hawaii – Absolutely love this lady. Boundless energy and enthusiasm, even more impressive as show has a mental health theme.

Marny Godden: Where’s John’s Porridge Bowl – Another massive winner at the Hive. High tempo. Great interactions with the audience. Wonderful characters. And a non stop smile throughout.

Adam Hess: Feathers – Another quality hour of stand-up from Adam. He is very good indeed.

Jenny Collier: Jen-Hur – Debut hour – wonderfulful stuff. Really enjoyed this.

What a day so far. Was going to the Dome next to see Mr Swallow, ambled along , had a sandwich, then realised I was at wrong venue and should have been at courtyard. No time to get there so made a quick switch to: Fast Fringe: Katie Mulgrew, George Rigden, Damien Kingsley, Jody Kimali, John Hastings, Abigoilh Shamaun, Damian Clark, Laughing Stock, Stephen Carlin, Colt Cabana, Sooz Kempner, Olaf Falafel. Purpose of this show is to give a lot of quick tasters to peoples shows. Not of much use to me with my meticulous planning but it did remind me that I really need to see Olaf again soon.

Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Neal Portenza. Tracey. Wonderful surreal nonsense. Did well to turn the show around from a bizarre walkout, which most people did not know whether it was staged or not.

Hayley Ellis: FOMO Really enjoyed this show and the rest of the crowd clearly did as well. Quality stand-up.

Twins: Two balls in a Bag I Really like Jack Barry’s stand up. This felt very laboured and was at times painful. They kept mentioning a bad review they had received and the disappointment in this clearly permeated through to the attitude onstage. Very disappointed.

Shows of the day – Alison Spittle and Marny Godden

20th August – Day 7

Carole arrived back on an earlier bus from Glasgow and was trying to call me at our digs while I was blissfully sleeping. Eventually she got me and off we went for a nice breakfast before heading off to our first show…

Previously on Maff Brown – quality hour from a real pro. Full of gags. Was recording the show as a showreel for a job in America!

Ahir Shah – Machines In same room as Maff, just as well we stayed as massive queue and room was totally full and every available bit of floor space used a full twenty minutes before it was due to begin. Really quality polital comedy from one of our favourites. Full of passion and draws you in to his world wonderfully.

Late Night With Boabby Roaster Show – A lot of work went into this. And some of the videos linking things together were really good. But the onstage action was flat and just not funny.

Becky Walkers Mandatory Rest Break – Not so much a show, but a lovely relaxed chill out for an hour. Love you Becky.

Phil Ellis is Alone Together (But Mainly Alone) – Great nonsense and a really clever ending. We loved this show but should have twigged the two comics sat in the front row were plants.

Zoë Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning – A difficult one this. I really enjoyed this but Carole didn’t. But I think this was more due to the fact we were next to a massive speaker and she was being deafened, rather than the show itself. I found this a wonderful piece reflecting sexism in comedy.

Max & Ivan: Our Story – We saw part of this new show as part of their tour earlier in the year. But as always with a Max & Ivan show the narrative and characters were vivid and immersive. Another wonderful show from one of our absolute favourite acts. Part of the theme of the show involved wrestling as Max was a wrestler in his earlier life. And Colt Cabana was in watching the show. This did put us off a little as we kept expecting Colt to turn out to be a plant and to join in at some point as he had in a previous Brendon Burns show..

Garrett Millerick: The Dreams Stuff is Made of – We love Garrett and his style, but we really struggled with this late night performance as the room was literally like a sauna, and it was uncomfortable from start to finish. It felt more like a hostage situation than a show. It was so bad we were just waiting to get back into the fresh air. And we abandoned plans to do a late show in favour of getting a bit of extra sleep to recover.

Shows of the day Ahir Shah, Phil Ellis & Max and Ivan

21st August – Day 8

Our last full day of a too short Fringe, but you can only do what you can afford.

David Callaghan: Let’s Get This Partly Started – What a fantastic start to a day. I had seen David before and loved him – Carole had not. A really imaginative and clever show using innovative technolgy. And importantly it was really funny.

Candy Gigi: If I Had A Rich Man – Again an old favourite of mine, but new for Carole. What a voice, what a twisted mind, what a show. Absolutely immense.

Red Richardson Experience – When they warn you something is going to be very dark beforehand, you have anticipation. But this was a bit of a damp squib, with nothing edgy or particularly exciting to write home about. First Fringe – plenty of time to develop though.

Mark of Stupidity Two: Even Stupider – A very silly and childish show from a friend of ours. Huge amount of fun. Ventriloquism, visuals, songs and so much more, an all round entertainer and good guy.

Pat Cahill – D.O.T.T – Was not originally in our plans as we had seen in an early preview, but another show got cancelled and we were in the right place to see this again. Much tighter and brilliant. Along with Haberdashery from the ACMs, we are still singing the COCONUTS song regularly two weeks later. Lovely show, lovely fella. (Coconuts – ANOTHER EARWORM – Carole)

Ari Shaffir: Ari S-P-E-C-T Full on straight stand up – I really enjoyed, Carole was a bit meh about it.

Steen Raskopoulos – You Know the Drill – The trick with audience participation shows is to pick the right people. This was the best we had ever seen of its kind. As it seemed everyone picked was a performer already and really up for it. Huge laughs. Also a couple of running gags that were spot on. The ping pong balls was brilliant.

Taylor Glenn: A Billion Days of Parenthood – Not seen Taylor since she had her baby. Last time was in Totnes after she had opened for Arthur Smith and then sat with us in the audience to watch him. Always liked her and in her time away she has put together a really great show about being a parent. Great to see her back and look forward to the next show.

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana – The first time we have been to the wrestling commentary show. As a wrestling viewer, I appreciated it more than Carole, who tolerated it. It is a very geeky show. We had the bonus of a very special guest in a man we love, Sam Simmons. So in my book it was great.

Will Seawards Spooky Ghost Stories III – Will is a gent. We love him and his quirkiness. And we have bumped into him several times this fringe and he has always had a chat. Really enjoy the spooky midnight ghost stories format, but it was somewhat spoilt by two bunches of dickheads who were very drunk and kept disrupting the flow. Fortunately one lot fucked off, but another was constantly making quite rude comments then turning around to get acknowledgement from a woman behind. A shame, but these things happen at the Fringe. We hope Will didn’t get fined too much for overrunning by over 20 minutes!

Four absolute stand outs in David Callaghan, Candy Gigi, Pat Cahill and Taylor Glenn.

22nd August – last day and what a last day!

Bridget Christie: Mortal – We saw a preview in May after which Bridget completely rewrote the show following Brexit. Wonderful as always. And loved the gardening framework (or should that be trellis) to the show.

Fern Brady : Male Comedienne – Love Fern – loved the show.

Silky: Indoor Fireworks – Always a pleasure to spend an hour with this guy. Quick witted, funny and lovely.

Joanna Neary Does Animals and Men – This show was cancelled and then uncancelled and we had to book again. Carole was really looking forward to seeing Jo again, but we were a bit disappointed as there was little coherence to the show.

John Robertson: Arena Spectacular! – John is unique in that he can do a whole hour by just talking to people and poking gentle fun at them. Like a perpetual motion machine, never stops. Relentless fun.

John Pendal: International Man of Leather – A lovely gentle show from a lovely chap. There are some testers in there to determine how filthy the show can be, and we were a VERY vanilla audience, so it was gentle. Have seen some of John’s late night material before and it would have killed some of these guys 🙂

Viv Groskop: Be More Margo – The last time we saw Viv was in Exeter on Halloween a couple of years ago and she was face painted as a zombie. This show was a beautiful little homage to the eighties and middle classes.

Gavin Webster: Jesus Christ’s a Window Cleaner Now – This needed to be good to make up for the late night bill previously and it was. Loved last years show. This wasn’t quite as good but still one of my favourite acts. New for Carole.

Martin Mor: #RoadComedian – We saw most of this show and were thoroughly enjoying it, but had to leave as it was only ten minutes until our bus left for home, so Martin gave us some freebies, a CD and a DVD as we were missing the end of the show. Martin was lovely again, and is one of life’s real gents and natural funny men. A great way to end the Fringe.

Nearly a perfect day to end with. Martin, Fern and Bridget were the stand outs, but all in all a great day. Eight and a bit days – eighty-four shows and overall probably our best Fringe yet. But still not enough time to fit more acts in.

It is worth noting we also saw another fifty plus shows in preview and some of those were absolute corkers too. Delighted to see Sleeping Trees and Birthday Girls do so well and virtually everyone else we love seemed to have a great Fringe. We deliberately left out some of the big hitters, James Acaster, Nish Kumar, Richard Gadd and Tony Law as we already have tickets to see them on tour before Christmas.

Dave.

July 2016 – Previews Galore

July 2016– Fringe previews and other performances by Carole

July was a busy month for us comedy wise, and with many comics making the annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh, it was always going to be “practise” gigs, Edinburgh previews with the comedians honing and finetuning as they went along, that became the norm. Notes become de rigeur and the audience contribute to the writing process as they either fall about, or look askance, at their entertainer.

However, there were some entertainers who were NOT doing previews, and one of them was Sara Pascoe, with her tour show Animal, (the same name as her recent, excellent, book).

Bridgwater Arts Centre on 2nd July

In a well paced set, Sara’s told us of ruses to get drugs (with a friend as a teen!), oblique references to her boyfriend (another well known comedian), with one particular comment around his making sure she was covered for life insurance soon after they began living together!

The dangers of having selfies taken with “fans” is another subject covered; always be prepared for the unexpected!

Immediately after this gig, I was dropping Dave back down the road to Plymouth Bus Station, where he had signed up for the delights of a Megabus to:

Sunday 3rd July

London Gigs – Shoreditch Town Hall – 3 rooms.

Dave had a lovely day watching:

Pierre Novellie

Fin Taylor

Rhys James

Felicity Ward

Juliette Burton

Lucy Porter

(Dave: All great previews – had a lovely day)

Hosts – Robyn Perkins, Jess Fostekew, Garrett Millerick

Wed 6th July B-Bar (I know, I know, we’re not supposed to be doing local club nights anymore, but Dave had heard that Doug Segal was going to be there and really wanted to see him).

Our MC Adam Broomfield-Stron was obviously well into his weight training/gym and was dressed to impress, with a bodyclinging tshirt cut low round his very sturdy neck.

Rory O’Hanlon was our first act; hailing from Dublin, full of the craic and equally good at bantering with the audience. A good opener.

Our headliner, mind reader and magician, Doug Segal, was a large, loud and hairy force of nature. A range of tricks using words, sleight of hand and hidden objects were very clever, and not easily unpicked. The punters however, weren’t as appreciative as they could have been. Again, a typical B-Bar Club night with a typical club crowd.

Friday 8th July, Sandy Park, Exeter

Our first time at this venue, and for a club night! Yes, yes I know, make rules, break rules, but again, the line-up looked interesting and we were curious…

The venue was a large function room at the very swish and swank looking Sandy Park, the ground of the prestigious Exeter Chiefs rugby team. The tables were also large, round and ours was shared with a couple of lads who were very well behaved and seemed, from what they told us, to be proper comedy fans instead of just being “out for an evening where comedy just happens to be part of it”.

Our MC for the evening was Dave Ward who we’d seen before in Coventry and Edinburgh and the show was slightly late to start. Food, in the shape of various curries, had been served (although we’d eaten before we came out and didn’t partake) and I think this slowed things up somewhat.

Dave got us off to a slowish start with some slightly dodgy joke introductions, but as he got into his stride, bantered with the crowd fairly well and did what he was hired to do, get the punters warmed up and ready for their first act…Javier Jarquin

Javier has been seen many times by us in both his stand-up and Card Ninja sets and we weren’t sure which one we were getting. In the end, Javier gave us stand-up, but what stand-up! Comically, he has grown exponentially since we first saw him deliver jokes on stage. More life experience (Javier has got married) meant cleverly structured storylines around his home set-up and a more feminist viewpoint from our man. Javier stays home and does the housework while his lady earns during the day as a Management Consultant, then Javier does his earnings share in the evenings. He was quick to praise his wife and women in general for what they have to put up with from men which earned him brownie points from me for sure!

Sheer co-incidence meant that for the second time in a few days, we were to see Rory O’Hanlon the Irishman! He gave us more ginger jokes and some material on the EU in/out debate and some other, ever-so-slightly twisted material around his now extinct marriage.

Our headliner for the night was Rich Morton, a man who has been in the comedy business for more than thirty years. A lovely guy, Rich delivered guitar backed spoof covers of well known tunes from a range of several decades, plus his own cheeky ditties to add to the fun.

All in all, an entertaining evening and well worth the trip up to Exeter.

Just a few days later, on the following Tuesday, we were back in Exeter for a double up of Edinburgh previews.

Tuesday 12th July, Exeter Phoenix.

Kieran Boyd – Egg

A preview that seemed, at this late stage, to be almost fully formed. This was a show of accents, opinions (on running, grammar, heavy metal and angry middle-aged men) and material about Kieran’s family (N.Irish dad, a brother and sister). There were callbacks, trombones, haemophobia and instances of Kieran fainting in different places. Kieran admitted to a slight problem in hearing but told us that British politeness and a smile usually get him by.

Mark Cooper-Jones – Geographically Speaking

Looking every inch the geography teacher in tweed jacket with elbow patches and scuffed hi-top boots, one with the front sole trying to escape, Mark gave us a lovely, entertaining hour which included a geography quiz, tectonic plates, the Richter Scale, and lots and lots of maps, interspersed with old Mark’s old school certificates, and topping things off with a very, VERY long toilet roll to represent the Earth’s timeline. Mark’s show is oh so nearly ready for Edinburgh. Just a few teeny adjustments to make and, Geographically Speaking, the show is ready to move North.

An immediate return to the Phoenix took place just the next evening for another double-header of previews…

Wednesday 13th July – Phoenix, Exeter

Naz Osmanoglu – Exposure

The third member of Wit Tank gave us a darkish show about racism (his Dad’s) and wrong decisions (Naz). His Dad’s comments are usually preceeded by a knee coming up in the air, so the family get some warning – all physically acted out by Naz and if racism can ever be said to be funny, this is how to do it, by taking the p*ss out of it.

The wrong decisions caused upheavals and a bit of a meltdown in Naz’s personal life and being as we were still pre-Edinburgh, and others involved in this were going to be up there for the Fringe, there was a hint of suspense in the air as well.

An interesting story all around and pretty well polished up to the point we saw it.

Steve Bujega – The Decision

Steve’s show was about a tale of the heart versus the head. A shortlived romance in Edinburgh last year, and then a separation of many miles. Family advice and ties to elderly relatives all took part in this story of love, loss and then more love. A feelgood show for sure!

The very next night we were out again for the first in a series of three mixed nights, with two performers each time, some previews, some not, (each one a week apart) at the Funny Fort (venue, Fortescue Inn, Plymouth). We did several of these last year and although there was some mixed attendance, the event was fairly well organised.

Thursday 14th July, Funny Fort, Fortescue Inn, Plymouth.

Richard James

Richard has come along in leaps and bounds with his material and his confidence. Banter with the audience, anecdotes and observational stand-up. Standard stuff but all done well and kept the punters happy for the duration.

Ian Lane – Aloof!

New to us, Ian has a laid back nasally drawl. A multitude of surreal whimsies. At times very entertaining.

Thursday 21st July Funny Fort, Fortescue Inn, Plymouth

Aidan Goatley – The Joy of Retail

What happens when, despite a complete lack of experience, you end up being the £40,000 a year manager of a branch of a well known garden centre chain which has a leaking roof and health and safety issues re electrical Christmas decorations? Add to this petshops, staff training, the fact that Aidan reckons he’s too nice a socialist for retail, and you have a recipe for an entertaining hour.

Aidan tells it all very well.

Stuart Goldsmith – Compared to What

Upbeat, clever, confident, whimsical storytelling to the nth degree. A seamless preview about his love for his partner and baby, kittens, callbacks, film references, city people versus country people at festivals, the Teletubbies and Quiet Carriages! What a performer. An excellent hour.

Saturday 23rd July – another double up of Edinburgh pre-views…

Birthday Girls – Shit Hot Party Legends, Bike Shed, Exeter.

The girls each have their own personality within the group’s sketches. There is Rose, the lead dancer full of wild energy, Beattie who takes everything very literally and is a “sicky” drunk, and Camille “the slutty one”. Their sketches, some old, some very new, were the usual mix of dance, filth, booze, shoes and some “in the know, wink the eye” ironic feminism (broccoli puss!)

Dan Cook – He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s Daniel Cook

I’d say that Dan was like a cross between James Acaster (measured) and Joe Lycett (every so slightly camp) in his delivery – if I didn’t think that he might take offence!! Dan’s been in a lot of adverts (Crunchy Nut Cornflakes) and had a multi-media screen to show us excerpts from them but there was a lot more to this show than adverts. A very confident show, put across very clearly.

Wed 27th July – Another double upper at the Bike Shed.

Hayley McGee, I’m Doing This for You

A dark, theatrical comedy performance from Hayley. The conceit is that we are waiting for the proper comedian (her sometime/erstwhile boyfriend) to arrive, but that Hayley will “fill in” until he gets here. Dressed in a blonde bobbed wig, a sixties outfit and bright midheeled shoes, Hayley gives us history and snippets of their relationship, including a very outdrawn sex scene. As we creep towards the end of the hour, the audience are all wondering if there’s going to be a late visit from the so far invisible bf. I’m not telling.

Sleeping Trees, Sci Fi

Fast paced, seamless character changes, a million miles an hour scene changes, bodies as props. The boys are fab every single time we see them. Nothing more to be said!

Back to the Funny Fort in Plymouth for:

Thursday 28th July

David Arnold

Not a preview, but a collection of David’s tales told in his lovely lilting Welsh accent, of which I never tire. Old favourites (by request from us – the weekly bath!) mixed with some new material. Always a pleasure to watch.

Matt Price – Poltroon (Poltroon is a very old noun meaning “coward”)

Matt’s preview of his new show, about how, although a large man, he’s not up for a fight, and is much happier noshing on a pasty, was siderailed almost from the beginning by the crowd, who were clearly up for plenty of banter.

Matt is a champion of crowd conversation, a master of mischief to the masses and a pied piper of the punters, leading them on journey to the end of the hour – still managing to get bits of his show in here and there – apologising to Dave and I later that we hadn’t seen as much of the preview as he originally planned. What is there to forgive? We love watching Matt in action with his audiences and everyone had a bloody good time.

Then our end of the month, nothing else before Edinburgh, treat.

Two more previews in Bristol at the Tobacco Factory.

Friday 29 July, Ellie Taylor, Infidelliety, and Mitch Benn, Don’t Fear the Reaper

Firstly, Ellie.

Well! What a grower Ellie Taylor has proved to be. Assured, confident, full of sass and as shiny as a brand new button! Her tale of being newly married to a (whisper it) immigrant, which, according to her, is all fine and good, except for one wee thing – this business of being stuck with one bed partner for the rest of your life!

Ellie told us of other partners who hadn’t been up to scratch, including a posh ‘un who looked down on her, but who got his come uppance in the end.

This was Ellie at a whole new level from the first time I’d seen her at The Counting House in Edinburgh, several Fringes ago. A great show – much appreciated by the almost full Tobacco Factory room.

Then Mitch.

An hour to make you think of your own mortality, Mitch is getting older, has lived over half his life (he reckons) and there’s nothing after this, whatever you may think. An hour of very entertaining music and observations, with some great sounds and some deep thoughts. I thoroughly enjoyed it – the best I’ve seen from Mitch.

Carole.

June 2016 -Fringe and Festival Fun

1st June – and we’re off to a flying start with the first of several shows at the Plymouth Fringe, an event we haven’t attended before. We are upstairs in the Barbican Theatre, the show is called Invisible City and is being put on by a new theatre company called Nova.

Always happy to help out artists, we were hosting Lowri and Jen who comprised Nova (along with with original sound design by composer Mat Martin and set courtesy of designer Buddug James Jones).  For a change, it looked like we were mixing proper theatre with our comedy – an excellent piece which, as good theatre should, made us think about how people can still be lonely in a city full of other beings.

With the Plymouth Fringe falling neatly into my school half-term holiday; the very next day (2nd June) we were back at the Barbican Theatre again for Get Yourself Together with Josh Coates. It is a story of downs and some ups, of depression and trying to find work and it’s told from the heart.  Again, more theatre than comedy, and what humour there was, was quite dark.

We then walked over to the Jill Craigie Cinema  (part of Plymouth University), a largish space, for How to be a Man with Jon M Coleman. A very small audience was in attendance. There were lots of clothes on rails, an inflatable doll of indiscriminate sex on one side and a shop mannequin on the other. Some Heath Robinson style special effects in the way of recorded voices, speakers and remote controls and Jon strutting around the stage, doing costume changes and giving us his version of how hard it is to be a chap in today’s world. One or two good points but on the whole, this left us fairly lukewarm. We’ve heard this lament before, in several different incarnations.

Some dinner and then into the Theatre Royal’s packed Lab (down, down, down in the depths) for Szgrabble with Nick Hall. A thoroughly enjoyable romp with Nick playing multiple parts in this spy thriller based around  – well, you can guess that bit! We loved it. Three shows in one day; just a bit of practice for later in the week!

The 3rd of June found us at the Nowhere Inn for Bill Jones and Graveside Manner. The Inn is just off Plymouth City Centre and is a small space. The room was quite full however with people perching on bar stools, settles and squeezing around to get the best view.

Hailing from Stroud (allegedly) Bill’s poetry is dark, dry, wry and perfect for warped senses of humour (ours). Twisted and bitter lines about his lost love; the portrayed (on an easel!) Mavis (subject of some brilliant rhyme), were the main theme of the show but there were lots of other wee alleyways and some general story telling thrown in for good measure. We came out into the sunshine, feeling glad for the brightness, having been shown just a little of the darker side. So ended the Plymouth Fringe for us – we are looking forward to next year!

A little later the same day and we were off to our old favourite The Calstock Arts Centre for another old favourite, Pat Monahan and The Disco Years, his last year’s Edinburgh Show.

Bounding onto the stage space in suitable disco gear and medallion, Pat works his  usual magic, bantering with the Calstock regulars (white and mostly middle class). Explaining some of his ethnic background, Dad – Irish, Mum – Iranian, he soon gets onto the subject of dance. Various audience members are involved, some willingly, others not so, to give their versions of different dances. The man I’m married to, gets dragged up to give his version of Irish Dance; nearly ending in a hospital visit, but managing to get up off the floor in one piece!! It is all, as always with Pat, tremendously good fun. We are glad that we aren’t running hugely late because the very next day we are off to…

Wells Comedy Festival 4th and 5th of June 2016.

The Festival actually started on the Friday evening (3rd) with a two and a half hour long Gala in the Little Theatre, but we were in Calstock and don’t get to see this bit. We joined it in The Globe pub (upstairs) at 1:30pm on the Saturday. The festival was running in two venues, the aforementioned Globe and The Little Theatre.

4th June

We departed Saltash in good time in the morning, called in at Street for some breakfast and a quickish saunter around the shops and were parked up at our B and B (The cheap and cheerful Sherston Inn) before trekking off to find The Globe  and our first show, Sam Simmons – Not a People Person.

What can I say about Sam? Surreal, silly and sidesplitting are just three of the adjectives that come to mind. Using various objects and bizarre costumes he delivered a show that had me wondering “Whaaattt?” but we were loving every minute. At one point he was chair surfing the audience with nothing but boxer shorts and a large, fake penis smacking people in the face as he climbed over them. Yes people, it was pretend prick, a cosmetic cock, despite (according to Sean), what some members of previous audiences had thought (and complained about).

In an aside to this write-up, the room above the Globe pub seriously needs some air conditioning fitting if it’s going to continue to be a future venue for this festival. In almost all the shows we attended there, the room was full and unbearably hot.  It was warm outside but we were absolutely sweltering upstairs, even with the windows cracked wide open. A typical Edinburgh room you may say; ideal for getting acclimatised!

With a good hour between shows there was time for some fresh air and a drink before heading back up the stairs again for Bridget Christie and Mortal – Work in Progress. We love Bridget, her shows at the Stand in Edinburgh are always packed out, quite literally standing room only, and so it was nice to be able to have a seat for a change. There’s quite a bit yet for Bridget to do before Edinburgh, when the show will be beautifully polished – however there was a fair bit of distraction from a very cute baby who was sitting with his mum and dad in the audience – and Bridget couldn’t resist a cuddle.

A change of venue then to the just as packed but cooler environs of The Little Theatre which is just around the corner from The Globe. We were there for Arthur Smith, not seen by us since The Civic Centre in Totnes several years ago. Arthur’s show, Mindlessness, was a bit rough at the seams, but the theme was there, sending up the current pre-occupation with Mindfulness, annotated with multimedia and spoof examples delivered as confidently as only a comedy veteran can. Another good show!

Back around to the Globe and upstairs for Lou Sanders – What’s That Lady Doing? Work in Progress.  Lou really is a force of nature, a law unto herself and someone for whom the seven second profanity delay on live broadcast transmissions was invented. We both really enjoyed this – however it ends up it will be something special.

Nipping to the bar for some drinks and food, we were soon back upstairs (where it wasn’t getting any cooler!) for Spencer Jones Presents Herbert’s Eggy Bagel: A Work In Progress.

Spencer was in skin tight costume, a portrait of his Dad (who he strongly resembles) on stage behind him. His show is a study in the absurd. Ordinary objects are transformed by his weird sense of invention, nobody knows what’s going to happen next, and Spencer guides us all along, muttering to us and himself to reassure. Excellent and one for the surreal fans.

Stewart Lee presented his show, Content Provider, at The Globe twice on the Saturday, at 5:30pm and at 11pm. We’d saved him for the late show and so up the stairs we went one more time. As ranty as usual, and in great form, despite the late hour and the hot room. Stew’s Comedy Vehicle on BBC2 has recently been cancelled (why – it’s great!) and so he had something to say about that (and plenty of other subjects) as you would expect. Lee holds nothing back usually, in his opinions of his critics and his audiences and life in general. No change for this show!

So we toddled back to The Sherston, where we found a very comfortable bed awaiting us. After four pints of cider each and six shows, we were more than ready for a good night’s sleep.

5th June.

I was up early (8ish!) the next morning for my now traditional staying-away-for-the-weekend Sunday morning run. I’d enquired about a route from some Globe customers the night before.  The sun was already quite high and temperatures were rising as I jogged off to the town centre and right past the Bishops’ Palace and out through the fields to the pretty village of Dulcote and back in a loop through trail and under trees.

Later, showered and breakfasted we presented ourselves back at the Globe for Andrew Hunter Murray. Currently on the BBC2 comedy show No Such Thing As The News, Andrew has also starred in Austentatious and contributed to or appeared in several other TV and radio productions. His show, Round One, was excellent. Andrew playing the character of a quiz master (amongst others), the audience being the teams. Our technician appeared to be playing more than one part too! Great fun.

Katy Brand‘s show – I Was A Teenage Christian – Work in Progress. Katy was at The Little Theatre, thankfully, it being a bit cooler. We’d never seen Katy live before and didn’t know quite what to expect. What we got was a story about Katy’s youth, her background and about a lonely, impressionable, young teen who was ripe for a bit of fundamental Christianity. What happened to make her see sense? A good yarn told well, if not yet showing too much of Katy’s comedic side.

Round the corner (again!) for the wonderfully silly, feel good Pat Cahill and D.O.T.T. Dressed in full overalls with gaiters and bells, Pat’s is a breath of fresh air. With various references to local traditions, Morris Men etc, Pat led us into a hour of whimsy and lighthearted observation. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Our penultimate show. The Little Theatre once more and Mr T, or as he is properly known: Tony Law. He was part of the original Soho Theatre gig at the tail end of 2011 that switched us on to live comedy and we have loved him ever since.

Tony, as he tells us in his show, has been through a rough patch recently, but has come out of the other side stronger and still full of his trademark themes, silly outfits and ideas. There was a mix of old (Aztec witch doctor and the usual, great accents) and new ( an Alsation who takes no notice of his owner!) as well as updates on the trolls – oops, twins. Always fabulous.

Our last show of the festival, at the Globe, was the Comedians’ Cinema Club with their presentation of Hot Fuzz. There’s a very local link here as the original movie was filmed in and around Wells. Indeed, one of the audience members, the mother of the festival’s founder and organiser Ben, was an extra in the movie!

So, four comedians playing the film’s multiple parts to a hot, crowded late night room. The cast were: Amy Howerska, Sooz Kempner, Matthew Highton and Will Seaward. Some very dodgy West Country accents, a lot of sweat, tight shorts, police outfits and slidey helmets (!),  not to mention several dairy free cornetto type ice creams. This was, as you would expect, a fast paced spoof that very roughly (with the emphasis on roughly) followed the original story line – and if anyone started to go off at a tangent, Amy was there to bring them back, being the only one who seemed to have a handle on the movie. The audience were loving it; a few Hot Fuzz geeks amongst them, occasionally prompting the cast! It was quite anarchic but a great round off to the festival.

This final show over ran slightly, not too much, but we had a long journey back (we weren’t staying another night as I had to be back at work the next day!) so we didn’t want to be too late out. What a great time we had over the two days. Wells, we hope to be back next year!

It was six whole days before our next show on the 11th June. As far as I know, we’ve never had to do any proper homework before going to a show; a sort of pre-view viewing so to speak. We were going to Graeme of Thrones (sic) in The Brewhouse, Taunton. Long before going to this, as soon as Dave had spotted it was happening and bought the tickets, we invested in a Now Box for several months viewing of the Game of Thrones series. We were G o T virgins and so had to start from scratch! We thought we’d better get up to speed or we’d have no idea who was who and exactly how far the original was being sent up.

I was very glad we’d put in the hours as for sure we wouldn’t have had a clue. The show comprised three comedian/actors, Ali Brice (Graeme), Libby Northedge and Mark Davison who all end up playing multiple GoT characters. The production is a play within a play. There are plenty of GoT in-jokes, dodgy props , a back story going on “offstage” and some great set pieces including Sansa Stark’s first period – I am still picking pieces of that out of my handbag two weeks later! Dave ended up in a lot of trouble ( for sniggering, along with many others, at Libby’s “getting into the zone” method acting) and being dragged up on stage to perform a “blinding” (although he took a few seconds prompting) and showing us all his fancy fencing (as in sword play, not garden edging). All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable gig – we both just wished we’d had a go on the Iron Throne!

Dave on GoT

A little nearer to home on the 24th June. The Watermark in Ivybridge once more with Jeremy Hardy ( Jeremy Hardy Live 2016).

Jeremy Hardy’s brand of political comedy was right up my street. Leftist, current, pointed, and just ahead of Brexit as it was, full of cautious optimism.  He rattled along at a hundred miles an hour and packed plenty into the first 45 minutes before the break and a good hour plus in the second half. Star of Radio 4 and TV, he is a confident performer who gave us our money’s worth. We like that.

So to our last show of the month on the 24th – Lewis Schaffer – Free Until Famous, at the Calstock Arts Centre. This happened to be the day after the EU Referendum and a  lot of people were still in shock from the news, over their cornflakes, that the UK would be (if the government followed through on the result of the vote) leaving the EU.

To quote Dave: “Only Lewis Schaffer can go to a rural community the day after Brexit and do the entire first half about it, stirring up a placid crowd into near blows. It was wonderful to watch. We were in stitches. I think watching Lewis can be like a reverse enema, where they are shoving it all back inside you. A cathartic experience, but one we really enjoyed.”

It didn’t help that when Lewis asked “the question” on who had voted Leave/Remain, one middle aged blonde lady replied loud and proud (paraphrasing here as I can’t remember her exact words)  “I voted leave, and it was all about immigration”.  There were other members of the audience spluttering their reasons for Remain. It all got a little heated.

Luckily Lewis was back “on message” for the second half; telling a story about his relationship with a Thai ladyboy (or was she?). At any rate; he maintained for the most part that “she” was a girl with a penis. The penis was the one part of her he had a problem with. The thing with listening to Lewis Schaffer is that he’s the verbal equivalent of one of those “write your own story” choices books. The minute you question the story line, he changes it. He gave us about three different endings within ten minutes. Did he? Didn’t he? Who knows. Parts of it seemed very heartfelt – that’s all I will say.  I enjoyed it.

Dave and Lewis

Loads of good stuff coming in July including Sara Pascoe, Stuart Goldsmith, Ellie Taylor, Zoe Lyons, Matt Price to name a few. Dave is going to London on Sunday the 3rd of July for ARG – Actually Really Good, in Shoreditch Town Hall.

Until then. Keep the comedy coming!

Carole.