Sunday, 31 May 2015

Yellow Revelation.


If it wasn’t for The Simpsons, I wouldn’t know what one of my kitchen utensils did.

For years, I'd washed up the offending item whenever it appeared amongst the dirty dishes, oblivious to its purpose. ‘What the hell is this for?’, I’d think to myself. I’d never seen my wife use it and I’d never used it myself. If I had, I wouldn’t know if I was doing. For all I knew, I could be holding it the wrong way up.

It wasn’t until Marge Simpson name-checked the implement in the episode ‘A Milhouse Divided’ that I came out of the dark. In it, she plans a dinner party, in an attempt to reunite recently separated Van Houtens. While shopping for it, she panics about not being suitably prepared, saying, “It's just not a dinner party without a melon baller - and we'll need a citrus zester, a ravioli crimper, ooh, and an oyster mallet”.

As she spoke, she held a perfectly drawn replica of my mystery apparatus in her right hand. Suddenly, it all became clear:


I owned a citrus zester without even knowing it. Think of all the lemons I would have rinded if I had. This wasn’t the first time that Matt Groening taught me a lesson: if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t know why you shouldn’t step on a rake.

West Highland T̶e̶r̶r̶i̶e̶r̶ Terror.


I’m not prepared to feed a dog with an expendable income, whatever the writing on his chest might say.



It takes the piss. Everything he’s wearing is an extravagance. He sits there in a bowtie, glasses and a natty pair of pink Converse - all of which are extraneous - and has the audacity to suggest I should cater for him. I'm sorry to be brutal, but that Westie's a cunt.  

If I were prepared to wine and dine him, I wouldn’t submit to his menu. He can make pictures of the food he fancies appear around him all he likes. Apples, bananas and carrots aren't an appropriate dog's diet. Their tinned food may contain the odd vegetable, but they're not the main ingredient. The stuff you buy from Lidl is mostly made from other dogs.

Who’d want a rucksack with a picture of a partially clothed terrier on it anyway? You’d have to be a certain sort. How's he keeping his glasses on? How did they type on his chest? This backpack throws up too many questions for its own good.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Geomeatric.

The other day I walked past a stall outside King's Cross Station that was selling 'meat cones'; a delicacy as heart attack-inducing as it was non-specific. 

Unsurprisingly, I was intrigued. While I didn't stop long enough to suggest I'd want to buy one, I still managed to catch a glimpse of the culinary delight, which was cooling on a little oven-rack-cum-plinth. What I saw lived up to its unsavoury savoury name: all the fleshy elements of a standard mixed grill had been tipped into a paper cup, without flourish or garnish. It looked horrific. ‎

Who wants to buy a beaker of dead animal? Not me. I can't see many people being enticed in by a mass-cull in a cone. Their target audience would die out after a few repeat visits. 

I suppose it could have been worse. They could have blitzed it in a food processor and sold it as a meat drink. I've just been sickened by my own sentence. ‎

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Pressed.

I'm tired of writing press releases. 

I wrote one for Mostly today, and it felt like pulling teeth. Last month was the first time I've missed the local press deadline in seven years, for similar reasons. I couldn't face juggling the same few words around again to make it work.

My life is filled with admin, most of which I'd never set out to do in the first place. The balance seems to be firmly in favour of organisation over creativity. My work with Glyn is a case in point; we spend far more time chivvying things around, digging out one piece of technical gear or another, sending emails and promoting gigs, than we ever do writing or performing. Sometimes, you can clearly see a positive result - the way our club has grown, for example - but most of the time, it's indistinct. We've sent hundreds of press releases out for various projects since we started out, and only received a handful of reviews. I did the same with my solo show in Brighton this year, plugging the hell out of it whilst writing it from scratch, and all I got was a slating from one source, a knock to my confidence, and the knowledge that it will now be harder to promote it in the future. Oh, for a little P.R. ‎

I look forward to when someone takes us on, and relieves us of the organisational burden. If I never wrote another press release again, I'd live. ‎

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Going (Not) Live!


We prerecorded the second In Your Inner Ear show last night, which will be aired on Sunday - but don’t tell anyone it won’t be live, as it’s a secret.

We did it in advance because I have a gig on Sunday, plus it’s my wife’s birthday, so I had two reasons I couldn’t be there. That’s not to say that stand-up takes precedence over her special day; it was the first solo spot I was offered, months ago, and I ran it past her before I confirmed it. We’ll do something nice too, so I won’t be deserting her, I promise.

The recording was more relaxed than Sunday’s live broadcast, mainly because we were familiar with the set up. We did it straight through in one go, as if it was going out, which created enough tension to keep us on our toes; it may as well be live when you hear it.

(If you hear it. Please hear it.)

It was a fun one. Personally, I think the content was better than the first show. While we decided the topics we’d discuss in advance collectively (this time opting for awkwardness as our central theme, rather than last show’s less user-friendly subject of death), we kept a lot of the content a secret. The fact we didn’t know which story the other would tell kept the reaction genuine. It also made it funnier. Glyn let me start the show with a surprise, which thankfully had him in stitches. He had a few tricks up his sleeve too; as did our guest, Stephen Halliday: a man with more anecdotes about awkwardness than most.

I’m looking forward to it hearing it back. I’m also excited about doing the next one, knowing we have more time to prepare it, knowing us, we’ll still end up doing it last-minute.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Quick Time.


Today, I thought I’d share some more music.

It's one of the better songs I wrote after my band split up. This band was the main focus of my teenage and early-adult life. When I left drama school I was offered a large-scale theatrical tour, which led to me eventually knocking the band (and songwriting in general) on the head. I lost my musical impetus, which was a shame, as up to that point, it had driven and defined me. I'd still have the occasional burst of inspiration and finish something up, but without a format to write for (i.e. the group), I had no reason to do it.

Quick Time is a rare instance of me seeing a song through, which is ironic, as it's about laziness. It sounds like an attack on an ex-partner, but it isn’t. It documents the end of a close friendship, and the betrayal that went with it. It’s one of the few things I’ve written in a minor key, so I was clearly feeling angsty.

As with Hang On, the only recording I have to hand is a live version. It skips the middle eight, which was my favourite bit, but you still get the essence of it. Not many songs share their name with a Media Player, so that's a bonus.

Open up your lugholes and click on the triangle below:


Neck-and-Neck with UKIP.


I suspect the man wearing a purple and yellow-striped tie on the platform of Hitchin Station the other day voted for UKIP.

If he didn’t, he clearly hadn’t considered the colour scheme. Either that, or he’d bought it before the party came into existence (or chose their branding) and wasn’t prepared to send his neckwear out to pasture. That’s fair enough; why retire a tie-able tie?

(…easy for me to say.)

Even bearing this in mind, it’s still a brave choice. I’d made this political association within seconds, and all I did was write a short blog about it. Other commuters may have not have been so kind. Maybe he was off on a UK Independence Party day trip to Clacton. I hope he didn’t buy a return ticket.

I see UKIP as a bunch of leery, casually racist uncles with funding – and a worrying propensity for mustard-coloured trousers.

Monday, 25 May 2015

SG1 One.


Tonight saw the first installment of our new weekly SG1 Radio show, ‘Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear’.

I really enjoyed it. The lead-up was frenetic, what with us having to learn the system in the hour leading up to live broadcast, but it wasn’t too dissimilar to the tech we’d used previously. It helps that the studio is very comfortable, and that the guy who runs the station is lovely, helpful and easy-going. You feel like you’re walking into a space in which you fit (I don't mean this literally, though - of course - we do).

The couple of hours we were on-air zipped by. We managed to stay to schedule. We met in the morning to finalise this, drawing two pie charts to represent the show’s two hours and then breaking them up into segments relative to the topics we’d discuss. The method worked well, so we’ll keep it. It was vague and off-the-cuff enough for us to not feel like we were working to a script.

There were lots of nice moments. The planned recurring features worked, so I'm sure we’ll explore them again in the next few programmes; sitting back on them more, now we’re familiar with the desk and the software.

It was by no means a two-man show. We were joined by local comedian (and optical manager) Stephen Halliday, who contributed wonderfully to proceedings. My favourite sequence centered around him relaying a story about a cremation he attended as a child which featured a poor choice of closing music. I won’t reveal the details here to protect all concerned; should you want to know the ins & outs, then listen the podcast.

We’re prerecording the next show on Tuesday, as I'm gigging on Sunday. I hope no big news stories take place before broadcast to render the content out-of-date. If everyone on Earth can keep a low profile until then, I'd appreciate it.

Thanking the human race in advance. 

Kind regards,

David.

'Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear' streams at www.sg1radio.co.uk from 21:00 to 23:00 every Sunday, with the show available as a podcast soon afterwards. Check the SG1 Radio website for details.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Ephgrave's Eurovision 2015.

It may surprise some people to learn that I'm a big fan of the Eurovision Song Contest.

I watched the competition from from beginning to end tonight, and tweeted along. See these posts below, live-blog-style, in all their four-hour glory. If you get to the end, you win a prize of similar value to the Eurovision trophy. You won't need to up your contents insurance, believe me.

(N.B. As far as I'm concerned, the best country won.)


Friday, 22 May 2015

Don't Stop Me Now.


Today, I accidentally stopped a funeral procession at a pelican crossing. Was this a massive faux pas?

By the time I’d spotted them, I’d already pressed the button. It was already too late. Grief had no place between me and the other side of the road. You don’t have right of way over a corpse every day.

I didn’t like the fact that I’d had an impact on the running time of the ceremony. Suddenly, without warning, I was a part of their unhappy day. I hope they didn’t miss their slot. I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.

It’s not as if they were travelling fast enough that I couldn’t cross in front of them without the assistance of traffic lights. Mourners by their nature don’t tend to travel fast. Either way, I’m sure they hated me. How dare I sneak in at the last minute when they’re trying to get the body to its final resting place? I’m nothing, if not inconsiderate. It could have been worse though: it could have been an ambulance. I’m not sure what would have happened there.

I bet there was a lot of tutting from the undertaker. Still, if they’ve got a problem with adhering to the green cross code, that’s their funeral.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Music to Ablute To.


I’ve got into the habit of playing a handful of YouTube clips of songs that put me in a good mood, when I’m in the bath in the morning.

This is not without risk. I keep my mobile on the window ledge above the bath: reaching up to it with the driest hand that I can muster, to switch from one clip to another. It’s my personal take on an extreme sport. If only there were other ways I could do it, such as listening to a playlist I’d set up in advance or - God forbid - an ALBUM, there’d be less chance of me making an insurance claim in the near future. What can I say? I like to live dangerously.

The music I choose tends to go around in cycles. I’ll listen to the same few songs for a week or two, then move on to something else. I’m quite careful about my selections, never wanting to play anything so maudlin that it makes me want to slip my head below the surface. I’m like the priest in Father Ted who listens to the Theme from Shaft to lift himself from depression, without the coach-riding Exit Music (For a Film) bit.

(Niche reference.)

That’s not to say that everything I choose is relentlessly upbeat. It can be something thoughtful. If I need a calm-me-down, I’ll pick something appropriate. I’ll go for whatever settles my mind on any given day. It’s also a good way of ensuring I don’t stay in the bath too long; two or three songs are usually enough. It’s when I start listening to prog rock that there’ll be cause to worry.

For the last week or so, I’ve been flipping between Ray Charles ('I Got A Woman', 'Georgia on My Mind' and 'Hallelujah I Love Her So') and Elton John (his 1976 solo Edinburgh live version of 'Bennie and the Jets' and Old Grey Whistle Test’s 'Tiny Dancer'). I’m a middle-aged man in a slightly under middle-aged body. I work on the basic principle of ‘nothing that was released after my birth date, unless it’s a later work from a 60s or 70s artist’.

If I’m feeling particularly excitable, I’ll stick on The Who’s Baba O’Riley. I’ve been known to kick the bathroom door down in this instance. You don’t want to know what I swing around in the style of Roger Daltrey’s mic, believe me.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Hang On.


Today, in a change to my usual text-based posts, I thought I’d share a song.

I wrote it when I was a mere slip-of-a-lad, at eighteen. It was meant to be a blissful come-down song, if there was ever such a thing. It’s written from the perspective of someone who’s in the midst of an out-of-body experience; floating above everything and everyone he knows, and through seeing it all, learning to appreciate the things he’s got.

(NB. I've never taken a hallucinogenic drug in my life.)

Listening back to it now, the lyrics sound a little twee and simplistic. Perhaps I’m being too self-critical. I still like the sentiment. It’s my mum’s favourite song of mine, so I must have done something right. Sadly, the only copy I had to hand was a live version, recorded at a solo gig at Hitchin Football Club in 2004. You can’t hear the percussive stuff I’m doing with the body of the guitar, which was the hook of the song, but you should still get the idea. 

It’s called Hang On, and it goes like this:


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Juddering Your Eardrums.

While my wife was out earning a living today, I was at home, recording these.



This is what I do with my time. This is what I laughingly call a career. Other people save lives, fight wars and cure diseases; I make noises. It’s not for me to decide which is of most use to society (it’s clearly the first three).

What can I say? I spent my day harmonising with myself. I’m like a one-man Bee Gee (though the same could now be said of Barry Gibb.)

The reason for my strange mantra-like repetitions of four words in a variety of styles is for them to act as jingles for mine and Glyn’s radio show ‘Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear’, which starts this Sunday. We wanted our stings to be slightly surreal and purposely crap, to give us something to bounce off, and then deconstruct on air. These should do the job. There’s no point in us using anything that’s too slick or too cheesy, as it wouldn’t sit comfortably with what we do.

That’s not to say that the show will be a shambles; that’s the last thing we want. But it has to be reflective of our style for it to work. We’re not Steve Wright: Steve Wright is.

It’s my neighbours I feel sorry for. They have to put up with me recording this shit. My cat gave me a disdainful look while I did it, but that’s cats for you.

Freed(em)on.

I exorcised a few demons tonight. 

I took part in the first heat of So You Think Your Funny, which was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. This wasn't the source of the demon exorcising, incidentally; I'll get to that.


Competing in a comedy competition is something I never thought I'd do; SYTYF in particular. I remember attending a semi-final with Glyn and our fellow cast member Calogero Tumminello, when we took our play the Balloon Debate to Edinburgh in 2008, and us all remarking as we sat in the audience how the idea of being part of an event with that name was terrifying. It sounded like a taunt. To make it worse, the applicants performed between two free-standing screens bearing the So You Think Your Funny legend; those five accusitory words boreing into them from both sides. It may as well have been called 'PROVE YOURSELF'. 

Tonight, seven years later, I stood between those free-standing screens myself. I didn't see that coming. Back in 2008, the thought of performing stand-up hadn't entered into my head, least of all solo. Right now, it's still a fledgling experience, with me being only eight months into it. Why not confound my own expectations by giving SYTYF a go, at the only time I might be eligible to do it?

(...I'll get to the exorcism in a minute.) 

Everything about tonight was lovely, just to confound my expectations. The organisers were friendly, low-key and put us at our ease. The fact that we weren't competing directly (the panel decide who goes through at a later date after seeing every participant) made things easier. I was reasonably happy with how my set went. We shall see. It was good to give it a go, if only to counter what Past David once said. 

After the gig finished, I walked along the South Bank, past the London Eye, then crossed Jubilee Bridge towards Embankment. I took in the skyline on my way. As I came down the steps on the north side of the bridge, I was confronted with the Playhouse Theatre: the scene of my less-than-joyful West End debut experience. I found myself tracing the route I took to the tube after each show. I was desperately unhappy back then, mainly due to illness. I was suffering from a full-blown bout of labyrinthitis, which made the job a near-impossibility. I also had the threat of two unsuited understudy tracks hanging over my head, which could lead to me being called on at any minute, with no notice, when I wasn't well enough to do it. I'd breath a sigh of relief as I stepped onto the escalator after the show, knowing all the while that my nightmare scenario could happen the next day. 

As I walked down the escalator this evening , I let out a different sigh of relief. It was good to be there in entirely different circumstances. Whatever comes of tonight's heat is irrelevant. I'm finding my niche. Being an actor / musician never satisfied me like being a comedian* does. I'm doing things on my own terms, and not trying to fit into someone else's crudely-drawn requirements. I'm grateful for the opportunity working at The Playhouse gave me, and it was a wonderful thing to do, but I'd much rather be telling jokes; therein lies the exorcism and the release. 

(I'm not sure that even means anything.)

*alleged.


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Going Innerer.


I quite like the idea of going on a meditation retreat.

I don’t know if I ever will. It seems like an extravagance. Do you need to go away to do something you can practise anywhere? Despite the nagging feeling that I shouldn’t, primarily for financial reasons, I’m still tempted. It would be nice to know I’d be using the time to consolidate on the techniques I’ve learnt from my classes and books, and treating myself to a little me-time in the process.

I’m not sure I’d be able to cope with the social side, being by my very nature, antisocial. I like to have time to myself, so the enforced sociability would be a struggle. I know I’ve used the word ‘social’ in various forms three times in this paragraph, but I haven’t got the energy to rework it; I write every day, man.

(...I’m already down with the lingo.)

Despite this potential setback, I think it would be good for me. It would be great stress relief. What may seem like a luxury might actually be a necessity, if it helps me be more relaxed in my free time and more productive in my work. It certainly did wonders for The Beatles. They wrote most of The White Album on their sojourn to India. I think I could rustle up four sides of vinyl over a similar timescale. I’ve already got the beard for a kick-off.

In the meantime, I’ll keep practising at home and going to classes. I won’t decamp to Rishikesh yet; not yet, but soon.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Saturday Moaning.


I feel like everything's winding down at the moment, now that my Brighton run is done.

Since the beginning of the year, if not before, I’ve been going into the office every day to write or rehearse bits of my show. As soon as I committed to writing an hour or thereabouts, the work intensified. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it in the timeframe, so I forced myself to work even harder at it. Now I’m out of the other side - at least in the case of ‘…and Ephgrave’ Mark One - I’m at a bit of a loss. It’s strange to not need to go into the office, or to push myself so hard.

I still went in this morning, to run my set for Monday’s gig. It’s nice to have a space to work in, and to then leave that work behind. I could have stayed there to write my blog, but I told myself I didn’t have to. I don’t need enforced solitude to do it. It’s also Saturday, and I could do with a break.

It’s less of a wind-down and more of a comedown, in a way. My enthusiasm for writing has dipped, hopefully temporarily. I’m also disheartened by the lack of castings that have come my way of late. I feel like so much of what I do requires me to initiate it, and I’m tired of being the catalyst. I’m sure my mood will change once I get into the swing of my forthcoming gigs and mine and Glyn’s radio show. More than anything, I need a holiday, but I have to wait until October for that. Still, it could be worse: at least I’ve got my health. Isn’t that what old people always say?

Friday, 15 May 2015

Just Seventeen.


It was while I was out for a birthday meal at Hermitage Road in Hitchin last night that I realised I’d also spent my seventeenth birthday in the same building, competing in the final of a Battle of the Bands competition – and that the gig had taken place exactly half my lifetime ago.


It’s strange to think that something I remember so clearly, which happened on the cusp of adulthood, could be such a large fraction of my life ago. I know I’m hardly decrepit, but it was still a wake-up call. I would never have guessed that I'd be there seventeen years later, having dinner with my wife; partly because in 1998 it was a dank, dingy club, and not the sort of place you’d want to eat in.

The phrase ‘wake-up call’ makes this realisation sound negative, when it was actually pleasing to note. When you’re seventeen, you don’t think that far in the future. You’ve no idea how things will turn out. I’d only just left school and started college, which was when I started to grow up. My life was at a transition point. It’s nice to look back from an adult perspective, even if at thirty-four, I still feel like I’m pretending.

It may interest you to know, incidentally, that my band won the contest. We were dubbed Best Band in Hertfordshire 1998, which ended up being a bit of a poisoned chalice. 


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Birthdavid.


I spent the morning of my thirty-fourth birthday (which is today) walking my mum’s dog.

It was a nice way to spend it. He’s always pleased to see me and he’s good company. I tend to walk him most Thursdays, but I haven’t been able to for the last few weeks, due to other commitments. I think he still remembered me, though he’d probably give the same enthusiastic reaction to anyone who turned up at the door. He’s not much of a guard dog, that boy.

I began the day by running for the bus. This is always a good way to start. By the time I sat down, I was sweating copiously. I was surrounded by teenagers on their way to school; all far more comfortable in their own skin at that moment than me. How can this be the case, when I’m in my mid-thirties? The more I tried to control my perspiration, the worse it got. I looked like a human water feature.

I managed to get my secretory glands in control by the time I got off, which was a relief. I didn’t want people to think I had a problem. Not that problem, anyway. No one likes a sweaty Betty.

After I completed my dog-walking duties, I caught the bus back to Hitchin. I went into the office to tinker with some stand-up material, ready for a gig I’m doing next week. My enthusiasm for it has waned a little over the last few days, which is probably a combination of a natural come-down from my Brighton run and frustration with my Chortle review, which felt like an attack from every angle. I know it’s rubbish, and I know I’ll get past it, but it adds an unnecessary background noise in my head when I’m working. How easy it is for one person to flippantly affect the mindset of another, and in doing so, unwittingly unravel months of hard work. Shame he didn’t proofread what he said before he posted it.

(“Donut?”)

I listened back to bits of March’s Soho Theatre gig to help me decide what to put in next week’s setlist – and lo and behold, I heard laughter. That’s the thing to hold onto. If people find Citizen Khan funny, there’s still hope for me.

P.S. I spotted this magazine on my mum’s dining table today.


 Surely that title's an oxymoron?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Journa-MISSED.

For the first time in seven years, I haven't written a press release for Mostly Comedy. 

I've always made the local press deadlines every month, but this month I've had other things on my mind. My solo show became my priority. That said, I would have put some promotional material together if it had been strictly necessary, but it was less 'pressing' as we were already sold out. 

(There I go again with my 'first thought jokes'; *cough* Brighton review *cough*.)

Despite it being less important than usual, I'm still frustrated that I haven't done it. I'm a completest, so these things make me tetchy. It's also good to spread the word about such a great line-up (*cough* Sara Pascoe and Aisling Bea *cough*). It's good status for the club. But it's still out there, without us having to encourage it along. That's why people booked in the first place. 

(...starting sentences with 'that' and 'but', David? Has it really come to this?)   

Perhaps I'll do it tomorrow. If I do, it might at least make The Comet on the day of the gig. I'll ensure I'm up to speed again next month. Let's face it: missing the deadline once out of about eighty times isn't bad going. ‎

Tuesday Ramblings.


Tonight’s gig was a nice way to round my Brighton run off.

It was a little ragged around the edges in places, but if anything, this made it more fun. Bizarrely, it was the busiest night of the lot, which was surprising, being a Tuesday. Either word of yesterday’s blunt review hadn’t spread, or people were intrigued by the thought of the show's apparent awfulness. Whatever the case, it worked in my favour.

The past week has been extremely valuable. It’s helped me build on the show, gain confidence in it, and feel more comfortable about performing solo. I know the show needs work, but I’m willing and looking forward to doing it. My one write-up thus far was a setback, and a painful one at that, but I’m also aware of the review’s faux pas and faults. The internet is full of vitriol, so one more slice won’t hurt.

I’ve learnt that I’m happiest on stage when I'm telling a story. I want to explore this more. I’ve also learnt that I can’t do my show without assistance. Having Stephen with me has been invaluable. He’s given some excellent notes. I’ve asked him to direct it, which is great, because he has a comedic eye that I trust. I’ve also been grateful of his company, because without it, I would have spent most of my time on my own, which would be no fun.

Now, I need to go to bed, as I’m struggling to stay awake. I can rest, safe in the knowledge that the Brighton dates that have been on my calendar for so long have passed. I came out largely unscathed and I enjoyed it. It’s a great Festival to play. I’d thoroughly recommend it. Christ, I’m tired though.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Spoil Me.

Today started with a feeling of positivity about where I'm at with my show, which was swiftly scuppered by reading a scathing review of it.

I know the clichés - it's just one person's opinion, and getting negative write-ups are all part of the game - but it still hurts; mainly because I can't compete with the reach the source will get. ‎This isn't a concern because some of copy isn’t complimentary; more because it reveals a frustratingly large amount of the show's content in just a few short paragraphs. 


It’s like seeing its key stories and punchlines resorted to bullet points. It takes away the element of surprise. I didn’t expect a Dummies Guide to ‘…and Ephgrave’ but I got it, or for my show to be available as York Notes.

It’s a spoiler akin to Channel Four’s one-time advert for ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, which started with the prison governor throwing a rock at Raquel Welch.

(I hope I haven't just made the same mistake myself.)

When you’re working without PR, you’re lucky to get a review in the first place; if it isn’t good, and more people come into contact with it than your own promotional material, you wind up working from the back foot. That's just the risk you take. When the dust settles, I'll remind myself of all the people who did laugh rather than the one who didn't. I won't lie though: it will make the show's stories a little harder to tell tomorrow. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Brighton III: The Search for Spock.


Today saw my third Brighton show in a row after a five-day-straight of gigs.

It went well overall. I was slightly more rested then I was for yesterday’s performance, but still pretty exhausted. I’m looking forward to a day off tomorrow to allow me to regroup for Tuesday, when I have the luxury of a later start time. It should make for a fun - and more energised - finish to the run.

There’s no doubt that today was pressured. I had press and an agent in, plus a friend who I had discussed the show with a lot without her seeing it. Glyn came too, despite suffering from what I'd affectionately term the Death Plague. This was very good of him - and I’m not just saying this because he’s next to me on the train as I write.

Despite the added edge of an industry presence, and a quiet house, I felt less rushed than yesterday. I painted myself into a corner once or twice when adlibbing through tiredness, but there were still nice moments. I’m enjoying the experience; it’s been useful in getting the show up on its feet. It makes me wish I was taking it to Edinburgh this year, though there’s plenty of time before I again face the debt which goes along with that. 

That’s enough show talk for the day. I’m going to sit quietly with a cup of tea and a biscuit. What am I saying? Biscuits work best in plural.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Brighton II: The Wrath of Khan.


Today I’m suffering from four-day-travelling-between-Hitchin-and-Brighton fatigue.

This was compounded by the fact I didn’t get home until 01:00am last night and had to be back in Brighton at 11:00am in time for kick-off at 12:45pm. It’s hard to be funny at lunchtime, particularly when your last few days have been peppered with late finishes. I struggled to get my brain into gear before the show, and had to purposely over-enunciate during it to get the dialogue across. Still, someone liked it:

Or are they being sarcastic?


I was offered a homemade chocolate brownie by an audience member afterwards in lieu of payment, which was a nice treat. I asked if it was a hash cake to an inconclusive response. If it was, it hasn’t kicked in yet. 

There were a couple of off-the-cuff moments that went down well, which I might keep in, if I can remember the gist of how they went. I made a point of recording all of my previews so I had the audio for reference, but haven’t done this in Brighton, which I’m living to regret. I’ve learnt my lesson for tomorrow’s gig.

Today also saw the death of mine and Glyn’s long-standing slideshow remote. It’s been on its last legs for a while. We tried to order a replacement a couple of months back, to find they’ve been discontinued. They've been replaced by an upgrade which, in reality, is anything but that. It fits in your hand like a thing that doesn’t fit in your hand, and no longer has a volume control. It’s bullshit. This isn’t so much of a problem for ‘…and Ephgrave’, but it will be an issue for the double act material, which is more video-centric. I’d buy a second-hand version of the original one if they weren’t trading at a ridiculously marked-up price; clearly because everyone except the company who manufactured them has realised the old one was far superior.

(Bored yet?)

I decided to pull out of tonight’s Pick of the Fringe gig as I’m rapidly losing my voice. I needed a day where I wasn’t burning the candle at both ends (which would require two-sided wick protrusion). Instead, I visited the Brighton Sea Life Centre, which is not a euphemism. I’m writing this on the train home, after seeing a lot of fish. I’m looking forward to a reasonably early night before another early start tomorrow; I’m not the dirty stop-out I once was.

(N.B. I never was a dirty stop-out.)

Brighton the First.

I'll keep it brief, as I've got to get up in a couple of hours to get the train; such are the unsociable hours of a performer. 

Tonight saw my first proper performance of '...and Ephgrave' on the Brighton Fringe. I have to say I enjoyed it. I don't HAVE to say I enjoyed it, in fact, but I still will. The initial set-up was stressful, due the usual problems I associate with doing a show in a Free Fringe venue. While they do a wonderful thing, and I'm exceptionally grateful for the opportunity, it's always a little fraught when you're playing a space with no technical support. I spent at least an hour and a half trying to work out which channels worked on the two desks at my disposal. As someone who's reasonably technically proficient and still struggled, I dread to think what it would be like if you had no idea how anything worked. 


Thankfully, I had my friend Stephen there to assist me. It was nice to have the moral support, particularly after the last two days of travelling there and back on my own with no company. It's nice to have someone with you both for your sanity, and also for practical assistance, when you have to wrestle with projectors and  gaffa tape leads to the floor.

A huge bonus was I was allowed to use the projector and screen that are rigged in the space. This cuts out a lot of set-up and pack down time. It also helps that I'm first in the space every day, despite the varying start times, so have no-one there in front of me. 



Tomorrow will be a long one. I have to catch the train at 8:30am to get to Brighton for my show that starts at 12:45pm, and I'm then doing a spot as part of Laughing Horse's Pick of the Fringe at 8:15. As it stands, I probably should have left Brighton sooner today - but it was nice to have a wind-down with Steve and another friend - the comic Jack Hope - who had come along to see it. 

Now, it's time for bed, if I can just convince my cat to vacate my lap. Oh...pets.  

Friday, 8 May 2015

Sweet Scrumping.

Someone has left an open packet of wine gums on the train; should I or shouldn't I? 


They're sitting on the table by the seat in front, taunting me with their prospective juiciness. It's proving hard to resist. There'd be no effort involved; no fumbling with the tiny tin foil with my fingers. I could just reach over and pop one in my mouth. No gummy sweet tastes better than a free gummy sweet.

I keep saying WINE gums, when that's not strictly true: these days, they're called FRUIT gums. When did this change come about? Did somebody sue them for trade descriptions? Surely no-one ever believed they had any actual alcoholic content. If they did, it would make for a cheap night out. 

The reason for my late night train journey is I'm coming back from a gig in Brighton. I've been on the 'Laughing Horse Pick of the Fringe' bill for the past couple of nights. They've served as a little warm-up for my show, which starts tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. I'll keep you posted on how it goes; whoever you may be.‎