Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Falling Short(s)

I bought a pair of shorts today to wear at a casting tomorrow that make me look like a shit tourist.

Shorts aren't the sort of thing I have in my wardrobe. I like to keep the goings-on from the knees down to myself. It’s good to maintain a little intrigue. We live in an era where people are used to seeing everything. We’ve been desensitised by porn and violence. By shielding my legs from public view, I’m trying to take us back to a simpler time; I’m doing my bit for public decency.

Yet despite my misgivings about displaying my appendages, I’ll be standing in a casting suite tomorrow evening, committing them to tape. Such are the compromises an actor makes for money. I'm whoring my pins out for cash.

There’s nothing wrong with the pair I bought in the end (£30 from Next); it’s more how I look in them. Something about the situation isn’t right. My wife assures me they’re fine, but I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who sees me on the tube will pick up on my uncomfortableness; they’ll know I’m dressed as someone else. The question is: will wearing knee-high socks be a step too far?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Listen to Yourself.

I listened to last night’s In Your Inner Ear when it went out and was pretty pleased with it; particularly considering the show was recorded the day after a late finish at Hitchin Mostly Comedy.

We’re definitely getting more comfortable doing it. We’ve settled on a simple format that works for us. I was surprised by how direct our conversation was when were all shattered at the time; I guess that’s what comes from working together forever (or pretty much).

The main thing letting the side down at the moment is the quality of the broadcast. A fault in the studio’s set-up is causing electrical interference, which runs underneath everything going out. I suspect it’s either to do with the power source, or one dodgy lead touching another, but it’s frustrating, as the hum masks the detail - and gets very irritating in the process. They’re trying to fix it, but until it’s done, we sound like an AM station coming through a battered radiogram that’s been poorly tuned in.

Despite this little teething problem, I’m satisfied with the results. I’m pleased with how relaxed we sound, and like the laidback, loose feel to it. The show’s far from perfect, but will tighten up over time. We’re also moving to an earlier slot from next week, which should encourage more listeners. It’s fair to say, I’m enjoying this small-scale radio lark.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Corbett's Protégé.

When I was young, I had some Sooty, Sweep and Soo puppets. Bizarrely, I owned two Soos: one with a skirt and one without.

This wasn’t for sexual purposes; I was only two, for goodness’ sake. I don’t think they came in a job lot; I always assumed they were sold separately. But why the extra Soo? Did I wear the first one out? I’d have to ask my parents, though I doubt that they’d remember. Perhaps they got me a Soo first, to see if I took to it, before awarding me with the whole set. I’ve always had a penchant for secondary characters.

Owning only Soo would be weird. It’s too specific. Having just Sooty would be fine as he’s the lead, and Sweep has the extra novelty of a squeaker – but there’s something unsavoury about a solitary Soo. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe this gives a shocking insight into my thoughts on lady pandas: they’re black-eyed harlots (whatever their reluctance to procreate might suggest).

My Sooty, Sweep and two Soos weren’t the sum total of my puppet collection. I also had a Gordon the Gopher and a full-size Emu (à la Rod Hull and Emu). I owned an excellent facsimile of Kermit the Frog - except his arms weren’t on sticks - and a cuddly Oscar the Grouch without the bin. These toys made up for my lack of friends or siblings; I didn’t meet another child until I was eighteen, which was awkward, as I wasn’t still a child then.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Golden Showers.

The antibiotics I’m on at the moment have turned my wee fluorescent, which makes me feel like a superhero.

Not that the ability to produce DayGlo urine is a superpower. It doesn’t have any lifesaving properties, unless you’re crossing the Sahara Desert and desperate for water. You can’t even see it in the dark (not that I’ve checked). If nothing else, it makes me feel special – and looks like I've overdosed on Berocca.

(Other effervescent multivitamin tablets are available.)

You could argue that the day I write about the colour of my urine is the day my blog takes a turn for the worse. I just thought it was something the world needed to know about – and I’d dare you to say it to my face. Count yourself lucky; there are more unpleasant excretions I could discuss, believe me.

At least my water would pass for health and safety. No-one could take umbrage to me weeing on a building site, though it wouldn't be so much high-vis, as high-piss.

(Sorry. I’m better than this.)

Friday, 26 June 2015

Let 'Em In.

It says a lot about the state of paranoia I live in that when someone rings the doorbell, my first thought is ‘IT’S THE POLICE’.

This may suggest I have a guilty conscience. I haven't, though it’s best not to ask why I recently re-tarmacked my drive. I’ve just become so conditioned into not receiving visitors that when there’s a knock at the door, I only assume the worst.

The plus side to living in a block of flats (the drive bit was a lie) is that anyone who wants to see me has to get past a security door first. Provided they don’t arrive before midday, when they can gain access by pressing the services button. So if I ever commit a crime, I need to make sure it remains undetected until the early afternoon. Then I’ll have time to climb out of the bathroom window to make my escape. I’d still have to walk past the front door to get away, but I’d have a head start.

A few years back, I was 'knocked up' by the law (not like that). They were going from door-to-door to see if anyone in the area had any concerns – or at least, that’s what they told me. They were probably scouting me out to see if I acted suspiciously. I knew hanging my football boots over the power cable outside was a mistake.

This morning’s unscheduled visitor was the postman. When I saw him, I let out a sigh of relief – once I’d caught my breath back from vaulting through the bathroom window and running halfway up the street. Next time, I’ll look through the spyhole first.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Jingles Jangles.

Today, I quickly knocked up a short script for a trailer for mine and Glyn’s radio show. 

"Every Sunday, the duo behind Hitchin’s Mostly Comedy are inadvisably allowed on the airwaves. Join Doggett & Ephgrave for a mix of banter, chat and music on 'In Your Inner Ear'. But don’t let the title put you off. 'Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear'; Sundays from 7-9pm on SG1 Radio." 

It will be voiced by the person who does all of the station’s trailers rather than us, so therefore had to fit the same style. If Glyn and I were to record it, I would have worded it differently. As it stands, I still wanted to make it underselling and self-deprecating. It wouldn’t be about us if it wasn’t. It also gives the advert an essence of the show’s content, rather than making it too slick.

I have mentioned already on this blog how much I’m enjoying doing the show. I listened to last Sunday’s when it went out (we’d prerecorded it a few days before as Glyn was unavailable), and was pleased with how it came across. I think we’re settling into it. We’ll be moving to an earlier time slot in a few weeks, which should help encourage more listeners.

The rest of the day was spent trying to finalise the line-up for next month’s Mostly Comedy Summer Special (which is nearly there) and doing a little admin for my solo stuff. All in all, it was fairly productive. The one thing I haven’t done for a while is any writing for writing’s sake, as I’ve not been in the mood. I hope to address this soon, before the blog becomes a dry account of my day-to-day activities - and I end up with no new material.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Listen In.

I’ve spent the afternoon editing together an audio clip of me performing stand-up, to send off to a comedy competition.

This was a useful exercise, considering my recent doubts about my ability. In doing it, I was forced to watch a number of videos of my gigs, to work out what to send. While some of it made me cringe, a lot didn’t – and what shocked me most was there were laughs.

...quite a lot of them, in fact. Far more than I remembered. For some reason (*cough* Chortle review *cough*) I’ve convinced myself that there weren’t. It’s surprising how much you can reinvent something in your head, from a distance. That’s why recording my stand-up sets can be invaluable. It gives me the chance to experience them from the outside looking in, rather than the inside looking out.

One thing I noticed was that the bits that came across the best had more attack. This was probably because they were in a club - and not a show – setting. It made me think that I’ve have been sitting back on my material too much. When I work with Glyn, my persona is edgier and more driven. On my own, I approach the material more gently. This may be a mistake. I’d like to make the two performance versions of me more alike. I’d also like to use the word ‘more’ a lot more-less.

It was interesting how different it came across when listening to the audio in isolation. It sounded more confident. It also signposted the bits that didn’t work. At least hearing it back has given me a boost. I must hold onto that.

That’s enough talking about myself for one day. I’m a contradiction in terms: a self-loathing narcissist.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

So tired.

(Note to self: it’s best to not write a blog post when you’re falling asleep.) 

While most of today was spent trying to sort out my problems with my phone, the most productive part was when I ran through my show in my office. It’s the first time I’ve touched the material in a good few weeks. It’s strange to be revisiting it, after such a long hiatus0o9p12. Anyone wondering what a ‘hiatus0o9p12’ is will have to ask my cat, as the word only came about as a result of her running across my keyboard.

Going over the show again felt strange. Some parts felt almost alien to me, after my break from it. It wasn’t that long ago that I performed it, but it feels like in eternity. Either way, it’s good to get back on the horse, to use a clunky metaphor.

It will be nice to put it in front of an audience again, so I can get a better judge of it. While it has got a fair few laughs in the past, I’ve started to forget this. I'm overthinking it, through doing it too many times to myself. It helps to have an outside eye, giving you feedback. This was why it was so useful having my friend Steve with me every day in Brighton. He gave me a reason to do it, plus the luxury of lots of constructive criticism, which is what I need.

I hope I can get the fire back into my performance. The radio show has given me a creative boast, but I want to remind myself that I’m also capable of doing things on my own. It’s just harder to do when you have no-one else to motivate you to work on it – and I like to avoid work as much as possible.

Monday, 22 June 2015


I spent most of the day wrestling with my mobile phone, trying to make sure my contacts are backed up before I take it to the shop to be repaired and risk losing my handset.

(You're in for a riveting read today.) 

This should have been easier than it was. The software on my phone and laptop should have dealt with it sufficiently, but of course, as with most technology, I couldn't get it to work. I downloaded various apps to do it, none of which would back everything up. I looked on forums for advice. I deleted and reinstalled software, to no avail. I was like I was trying to do something seriously outlandish. 

In the end, I resorted to the old-fashioned method of copying my address book out manually. I roped my wife into typing the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet as I read them out; we know how to relax. I can now visit the Vodafone shop tomorrow, safe in the knowledge  that I can text my friends and colleagues afterwards, to let them know how it went. Most of them will be on tenterhooks; when you live in North Hertfordshire, youmake your own entertainment. ‎

Sunday, 21 June 2015

All For a Good Cause.

Today, I assisted Glyn with the filming of the charity event Afternoon Tea Delights, in aid of Garden House Hospice.

I’m not sure how much assistance I gave; I was there more for moral support. It came about through the fact that one of the organisers is my meditation teacher, who mentioned he was looking for someone to document their annual fundraiser, to which I suggested Mr Doggett. It was only fair that I pitched in as a result, though I could hardly refuse such an exceptional cause. There were a few cakes thrown into the bargain, which literally sweetened the deal.

It took place at the beautiful Priory Barn in Little Wymondley. I’d never been there before, which is ridiculous, as it’s only a stone’s throw from my house (if I were a professional shot-putter). The weather was perfect, which helped smooth things along. They had live entertainment from - amongst other things - a harpist and an opera singer, both of whom were marvellous. They also held an art auction, which was quite exciting, as I've never been to one before. There was a beautiful oil painting of the Houses of Parliament viewed from the South Bank, which I would have bid for if I had the money. There was also one called The Silver Curtain; an interesting title, as the curtain was ever so slightly upstaged by the naked woman posing in front of it.

Glyn was in charge of the camera work today, while I recorded the sound. He’s an expert at documenting these events, having filmed them regularly as part of one of his many guises, working for the advocacy charity POHWER. The results I saw looked great.

I’m now home with a cat on my lap, ready to listen tonight’s episode In Your Inner Ear. What better way to round the day off? Tomorrow, I’ll get back to practising the shot put.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

In Your Inner Ear, Mark VI.

Tonight we did our last semi-secret pre-record of next Sunday’s In Your Inner Ear.

All canned up.
It was fun, despite us both suffering from post-Mostly Comedy fatigue. We were exhausted. We were also held up by technical gremlins that meant we didn’t start the recording until 10pm; not the best time to get your brain into gear for a two-hour show, particularly when you didn’t get to bed until 3am the night before.

Show notes.
The topic for tonight’s show was ‘jobs’. This gave us ample opportunity to recall various anecdotes about our lives on tour. Steve was with us too, sharing tales from a more ‘real world’ perspective, though in reality, his day-to-day life is just as strange as ours. We rounded things off with a Shakespearian acting competition, with us each delivering a speech from King Lear to a dramatic musical backdrop and Steve’s judgement. I won’t tell you who won, as remembering the outcome will only piss me off. 

Ever the professionals.
I’m looking forward to listening to the next two shows when they go out, from the comfort of my home, while Glyn does the same from his holiday in Devon. He’ll probably be eating a cream tea at the same time, the lucky bastard.

(Photos by Gemma Poole).

Friday, 19 June 2015

Shit Happens.

When I was sixteen, I decided to set myself the task of writing a song in the style of Bob Dylan.

The only catch with this self-commission was I wasn’t overly familiar with what Bob Dylan did. I knew he had turned The Beatles onto pot and from folk to electric, but that was about it. I’ve since caught up (he now has the largest presence in my CD collection outside of the Fab Four), but as a teenager, I was largely oblivious.

The song I squeezed from my subconscious was Shit Happens. I’m still proud of it. The recording below isn’t the best, but it gets across the essence. I remember being pulled to one side by a middle-aged man at a Big Day Out gig back in the day, to tell me that the song had epitomised his recent break-up with his wife, and helped him draw a line under their relationship. He said it made him cry. I took this as a compliment.  

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Who's Asking? (Part Two)

Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz, for those who have been waiting with bated breath.

Round One: Names.

1)    Gerald Wiley was a pseudonym for which famous comic actor and writer? ANSWER: Ronnie Barker.
2)    Give the Christian names of the four members of The Beatles, as they appear on their birth certificates. ANSWER: John, James, George and Richard.
3)    What is the real name of the magician ‘The Great Soprendo’? ANSWER: Geoffrey Durham
4)    Who is Richard Wayne Penniman better known as? ANSWER: Little Richard.
5)    What are the first names of the two original Blues Brothers? (Characters, not actors). ANSWER: Jake and Elwood.
6)    Name the Three Musketeers. ANSWER: Aramis, Porthos and Athos.
7)    What are the first names of The Famous Five? ANSWER: Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the Dog
8)    What is the only letter of the alphabet which does not appear in any of the names of the 50 American states? ANSWER: `Q`
9)    What are the names of the four stations on a Monopoly board? ANSWER:
Kings Cross, Marylebone Station, Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street
10) Under what stage name is John Eric Bartholomew better known as? ANSWER: Eric Morecambe.
Round Two: Films

1)    Who directed the Back to the Future Trilogy? ANSWER: Robert Zemeckis.
2)    What was the name of the character played by Leslie Nielsen in the ‘Naked Gun’ series? ANSWER: Lt Frank Drebbin
3)    `The Hunt for Red October`, `Patriot Games`, and `Clear and Present Danger` are all based on the novels of which author? ANSWER: Tom Clancy
4)    Name the six films in the James Bond series with one-word titles. ANSWER: ‘Goldfinger’, Thunderball’, ‘Moonraker’, ‘Octopussy’, ‘Goldeneye’ and ‘Skyfall’
5)    What is the name of the 1985 Disney sequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz’? ANSWER: ‘Return to Oz’
6)    Which 1959 comedy classic ends with the line, ‘Well, nobody’s perfect’? ANSWER: ‘Some Like it Hot’.
7)    The song ‘Smile’, most widely-associated with Nat King Cole, was co-written by which iconic actor and film-maker? ANSWER: Charlie Chaplin
8)    Who played the title role in the final installment of the Carry On series, ‘Carry On, Columbus’? ANSWER: Jim Dale
9)    What is the name of the spy that Cary Grant is mistaken for in the 1959 Hitchcock classic, ‘North By Northwest’? ANSWER: George Caplin
10) What is the title of the sixth film in the original Star Trek franchise? ANSWER: ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’.
Round Three: General Knowledge

1)    Who was the Teddy Bear named after? ANSWER: Theodore Roosevelt.
2)    Which Dickens novel starts with the line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? ANSWER: ‘A Tale of Two Cities’
3)    How many are there in a Baker’s Dozen? ANSWER: 13
4)    Which British submarine sunk the General Belgrano during the Falklands War? ANSWER: HMS Conqueror.
5)    Which three teams have won the FA Cup Final the most? ANSWER: Manchester United (11), Arsenal (10), Tottenham Hotspur (8)
6)    What nationality is Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot? ANSWER: Belgian
7)    Who wrote the novel ‘The Woman in Black’, on which both the film and stage show were based? ANSWER: Susan Hill
8)    Who played the title role Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’? ANSWER: Graham Chapman
9)    Which Shakespeare play features perhaps the finest unexplained stage direction of all time, “Exeunt pursued by a bear”? ANSWER: ‘The Winter’s Tale’.
10) What year was JFK assassinated? ANSWER: 1963
Round Five: Table Round: 1960s Lyrics

All of the following are taken from the lyrics of a popular sixties hit. You score one point if you can name the correct title, and another if you can name the original artist.

1)    “I was all right for a while, I could smile for a while” ANSWER: ‘Crying’ by Roy Orbison.
2)    “Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend”. ANSWER: ‘We Can Work it Out’ by The Beatles
3)    “Over the Bridge of Sighs, to rest my eyes in shades of green”. ANSWER: ‘Itchycoo Park’ by The Small Faces
4)    “Please allow me to introduce myself”. ANSWER: ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ by The Rolling Stones.
5)    “Imagine me and you, I do’ ANSWER: ‘Happy Together’ by The Turtles
6)    “On a blanket with my baby is where I’ll be’ ANSWER: ‘Under The Broadwalk’ by The Drifters.
7)    “The pump don’t work ‘cos the vandals took the handles” ANSWER: ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ by Bob Dylan.
8)    “Flies are in your pea soup, baby, they’re waving at me”. ANSWER: ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ by Jeff Beck
9)    “And when I'm sad, you're a clown. And if I get scared, you're always around” ANSWER: ‘I Got You Babe’ by Sonny & Cher
10) “I know you’ve deceived me, now here’s a surprise” ANSWER: ‘I Can See For Miles’ by The Who.
11) “I got so much honey the bees envy me” ANSWER: ‘My Girl’ by The Temptations (Otis Redding)
12) “She makes the Indy500 look like a Roman chariot race now”. ANSWER: ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ by The Beach Boys.

If you got them all right, you're a smug face.