Thursday, 31 March 2016

Doubting Thomas (David)

...and here we go with another ‘on-the-way-home-from-a-gig’ blog: strap in.

Tonight I did a short set of mostly untested material at Touching Cloth. To be honest, I'm quite surprised I went, as this afternoon a black cloud descended on my head, telling me I couldn't and shouldn't do it. I think this mostly stemmed from the fact I've been feeling overloaded, and have been frustrated with the fact that all the time I'd like to devote to writing and rehearsing new material for Bath is being constantly snapped up by something else; by the time I've got to grips with the day-to-day admin of life, plus the admin for tomorrow’s Mostly Comedy, the impetus and the time to work on what I really need to do has gone.

(I'm currently being distracted by the guy opposite me on the train, who’s listening music on his MP3 player and stamping his foot along like a five-toed fleshy metronome; assuming he has the requisite amount of lower-extremity digits.)

By 3pm this afternoon, I'd lost my nerve and felt completely overwhelmed. Then, gradually, I started to redress it. I remembered the reason I'd booked tonight's spot in the first place: to run something in and see if it works. I realised that if I didn't go, I'd only end up being annoyed with myself, along with being aware that that precious five minutes of stage time would be gone. I firmly believe in the mantra of using every moment. It reminds me of something Nick Helm said to me once, regarding doing work-in-progress: “Even it doesn't go well, I know why I'm doing it; if I get one little bit of material sorted, it's worth it”.

He worded it better than me.

All in all, the new bit went reasonably well. i’ll know how well for sure when I listen back to it. I caught the train into London and faced my ‘am I good / am I shit’ demons head-on. Like Nick said: “I know why I'm doing it.”

...roll on tomorrow's Mostly Comedy.  

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

"D.E. Phone Home."

I feel like most of my evening has been wasted, through trying to set up my new mobile phone.

Such is the way with modern technology. While it’s always exciting to be armed with a new bit of kit, far too much time can be spent initially, in making it work. All those fail-safe ways to quickly transfer data or install a backup never seem to work in practise, or maybe it’s just me.

It doesn’t help that every moment devoted to setting up my new handset should really have been given over to something else, such as compiling material for next week’s Bath Comedy Festival work-in-progress dates. I purposely upgraded my phone before I went to Bath, so I could make the most of its facilities for recording my sets and putting together the show. I’m still pleased I did this, I just wish I hadn’t taken so long to do things today, as it feels like another day was lost that could have been used for more important things.

Other than wrestling with my new BlackBerry Priv – which to its credit, looks pretty nifty – my Tuesday was spent walking my mum’s dog, sorting things for Thursday’s Mostly Comedy, checking brochure proofs for Edinburgh and having a look at some new material, ready to try out at tomorrow’s gig at Touching Cloth and Thursday’s Hitchin show. I keep looking at my calendar and realising how little time I have to get everything sorted for next week. If I have no more setbacks I should be able to get everything done, but it does feel like every second of every day is taken up; oh to have more assistance.

That said, I do have moments where I look at some of the clips of my recent work-in-progress gigs and feel a little heartened by the content. I fluctuate between thinking everything's rubbish and some of it’s quite good...but there’s no change there. If I can at least lean more often in the latter camp, it will all be okay. I’ll stop rambling now, as I’ve nearly transferred all my mobile data, and I could do with some sleep. Night night, electrical equipment; night night.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Cover Me.

Tonight I met with Mr Doggett to update our Public Liability Insurance and sign a few forms to register with a new accountant.

I plan to so bloody reckless now we’re re-insured. I’ll dress solely in shell suits with my hair lacquered up to-the-max. Never before in the history of mankind will one person have been so inflammable; I’ll be the personification of the cast of Backdraft after a grossly misjudged publicity stunt; call me Wicker Man Ephgrave.

(...though I've never actually seen it.)

The only downside to our policy is it doesn’t protect us from everything you'd think. We’re not covered for any equestrian work conducted by us or someone else on our behalf, nor can we handle muskets, pistols or guns; there goes our proposed Three Musketers remake. We can’t perform at an altitude in excess of three metres without potentially falling financially foul should we injure anyone around us, so our fourth plinth physical theatre installation has been nixed. It official: we’re living in a nanny state.

I wonder how hard it is to juggle knives? There’s only one way to find out; henceforth, my blogs will come to you via dictatype technology.

The Angel of the North (London).

Tonight, I performed at Angel Comedy at the Camden Head in Islington.

It was nice to play a room with a real audience who were up for comedy, rather than a roomful of other comedians. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to wait for a laugh to subside before delivering a line. It was a genuine surprise and a welcome one at that.

The club was run like a tight ship and was very well subscribed, and not just because it was a bank holiday weekend. The crowd were very up for it, sounding positively ‘American sitcom’ by the end of the night. I closed the first half, which was good, as it zipped by, and I always find being early on the bill preferable; it’s nice to be able to relax and have a drink, instead of having to keep your brain in performance mode.

I feel I’ve turned a small corner in the last few weeks, regarding working alone. I’m a little less self-judgemental and a little more secure in my ability. ‘Little’ is the operative word of that sentence – I’m still hugely self-critical – but things are beginning to slot into place. I’m a lot more comfortable with performing without a projector than I used to be, and while I still prefer to use one, I feel more capable of holding attention without. Or at least that’s how I feel today. Still…it’s good to be taking baby steps in the right direction.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Many Years From Now.

There’s something comforting about watching a programme or reading an article on a subject you know a lot about.

Personally, I’m referring to The Beatles in this instance. I’ve just got home from the office, to switch on the TV and catch up on ‘The Nation’s Favourite Beatles No. 1’: a documentary that aired last Christmas, as a shameless promotional tie-in to 'The Beatles 1+’ (the DVD accompaniment to their singles collection, ‘1’).

It’s a well-known fact among my friends - and to anyone who’s paid close enough attention to Glyn's and my radio show and / or stand-up - that I’m a bit of a Beatles nut. My brain is addled with Fab Four trivia. I became interested in them while at junior school, when I pulled out my mum’s Sgt Pepper LP to play 'When I’m Sixty-Four' to my elderly babysitter, because I assumed it might be her sort of thing, without realising that I was a couple of generations out. Listening to that album ignited a fascination in the band that hasn’t left me to this day, albeit steering more to Paul McCartney’s work as the years went on.

Though I listen to their records less these days, whenever I pull one out, I’m still struck by the freshness and excitement of the performances within. The creative journey they took in their less-than-seven-year recording career was extraordinary. This tweet says it all:

For me, The Beatles are a comfort; a constant in my life that’s provided inspiration and warmth; giving me something to luxuriate in, like a packet of chocolate biscuits and a cup of tea. So it is tonight, as I watch a mix of footage I’ve seen countless times with the odd shot I haven’t, accompanied by songs I can recognise in a millisecond, having listened to them so much. It’s nice to switch off to it, and forget about the things I need to, I’m going to this now, rather than just write about it.

P.S. The way McCartney sings the word “home” in ‘Golden Slumbers’ sounds like home to me; I’m a sucker for detail, you see.

Friday, 25 March 2016


We recorded the 24th episode of ‘Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear’ tonight, ready for it to go out on Sunday.

I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind for it this evening, and consequently felt it didn’t really gel, for the first hour at least. Somehow, we weren’t quite in the same mindset. It didn’t help that I foolishly started with a piece that relied on Glyn recognising the artist responsible for an audio clip, but hadn’t pre-warned him about it. This was unfair, as he was busily multitasking while running the desk and couldn’t remember the band’s name, which meant the segment fell flat. Things gradually picked up pace from that point, but it felt a little forced, though perhaps it won’t sound so band when I hear it back.

To be fair, it’s not always going to be perfect (not anyone would say it ever is). Reaching our twenty-fourth programme and forty-eighth hour is pretty good going, and there has been lots of good stuff amongst it. The last few shows in particular seem to have found their groove, so we’re allowed the occasional false-start, though I think by the second half of tonight we had woken up.I also felt a story I told about missing a solar eclipse because I couldn’t get dry from the bath quick enough feels like it has some merit as stand-up. I’ll leave that decision for another day though, as I’m literally falling asleep as I type, so I’m hardly a man of good judgement.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Night Off.

It’s nice to be at home tonight instead of doing a gig.

I haven’t been in of an evening all week. I’m glad I’ve been productive, particularly when I want to get as much material run in as possible before my work-in-progress dates at the Bath Comedy Festival, but I also need a break. A consecutive run of late nights takes it out of you and make it harder to focus on writing when you need to do it.

Consequently, tonight has been spent catching up on a little television, and having a long chat with my wife. You’d think we’d have run out of things to talk about, but it seems we haven’t; we haven’t consulted my Big Book of Icebreaking once. I like that we still have so much to talk about and are by no means bored of each other’s company. This bodes well for the future; I mean…imagine having to live with me. The smell alone is bad enough.

I'll keep it brief this evening, as my bed and book are calling. Night night all; be good.

Post-gig Ramblings.

Tonight, I did a short spot at Touching Cloth on Folgate Street (I've shared this extra nugget of geographical information for anyone out there with a fetish for topography; you people make me SICK). 

I felt more relaxed than I did last night, which helped me out with my set. The gig was sparsely populated, but they were a nice bunch. The guy who opened, who's name I didn't catch, was great; he had that right mix of confidence and likeability, which somehow made me feel more at ease with going on myself. The show had a different host to usual, Chester Constable, who was also very nice and comfortable to watch; he reminded me of my favourite 'likeable' comic, Tom Goodliffe. 

The only fly in the ointment was when an act laughed sarcastically at an aside I made whilst chatting with the emcee, after leaving the stage. It was clearly for the benefit of the people he was sitting with; an irritating moment of feigning superiority, with the assumption I wouldn't pick up on it. Well, I did. What's the point of being like that? Why be a bully? You can't pick on someone as hyper-aware as me and think I won't clock it; plus anything negative you think about me I've probably already thought myself. Just ask my therapist.

The gig was very friendly and useful, despite this little blip. The guy who runs the night, Frank Cassidy, is a thoroughly good egg. I'm back there next week, when I plan to try some material about the steely-eyed man-bear Paul Hollywood; stay tuned to find out it works. I like to keep my reader(s) on tenterhooks.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

I Don't Want to Spoil the Party Piece.

Continuing my 'fit-as-many-gigs-in-before-April's-Bath-work-in-progress-dates-to-try-out-new-material' run, I did a short spot at Party Piece at Shaker & Company on Hampstead Road tonight.

First off, I have to praise the venue for their exceptional vegetarian burgers (a phrase that has seldom been used before or since). I arrived an hour before I needed to sign in with the emcee, so I decided to make the most of the pub's gourmet burger selection, devouring my second veggie burger in so many days. Yesterday's was ingested whilst out on an Old Man Pub Crawl with my friend Steve at one of my favourite Hitchin pubs, the Half Moon. It was described as a beet & bean burger, which sounded violent; appropriately so, as the resulting patty was an alarming shade of blood red. It was delicious, but today's burger still knocked it out the park. Tomorrow, I'm gigging near Liverpool Street - and if there isn't a meat-free snack on offer within its environs to rival tonight's, I'll be a very disappointed version of me. 

The gig itself was fun, despite playing to to a room of comics in lieu of a real audience once again. The room itself was lovely, and perfect for comedy, and the acts on were a nice receptive bunch. I got chatting with the comedian Dan Licence, who happens to have been on the bill at just about gig I've done in the last few weeks. We bonded over our mutual love of Buddy Holly and The Beatles, which is always a good subject to strike up for me. I hope I didn't bore him with my tales of actor / muso touring. He's a thoroughly nice bloke, and I like his stuff. 

I tried out a new bit tonight, which went reasonably well. It felt a little too ‘written’ rather than spontaneous, but I think it will work better in the context of a longer set, as it’s slightly different in style to my usual delivery if I pitch it right. I have another chance to run it in tomorrow at Touching Cloth, so hopefully I’ll come away from there with a better idea of whether it works or not (and with more herbivorous snacks as sustenance).      

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Selling Out.

Tonight, I thought I'd share the press release I wrote for next week's Mostly Comedy; partly as it may be of interest, but mainly because it's getting late, and I feel that going to bed would be more beneficial than staying up to write a blog post about today's adventures (which included a spot of dog-walking, a little writing and going out for a drink with my co-In-Your-Inner-Ear host Steve).

So here it is, in all its comedy club-promoting glory. Pray silence for pure, unadulterated information:

Press Release – 18.03.16

mostly comedy
a monthly comedy and music club, at the sun hotel in hitchin

While 31st March’s instalment of Doggett & Ephgrave’s Mostly Comedy is officially sold out, there’s still a chance to snap up return tickets on the night. This month’s line-up includes stand-up from JAMES ACASTER and DOGGETT & EPHGRAVE and music from The Bluetones’ frontman MARK MORRISS.

JAMES ACASTER has come a long way since appearing at the second ever Hitchin Mostly Comedy back in November 2008. He has since been nominated for Best Show at the prestigious Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards on four separate occasions (formerly the Perrier’s) and once for Best International Show at the 2013 New Zealand Comedy Festival. His three previous solo shows toured the UK to widespread critical acclaim (“deliciously whimsical, deliciously daft” - Evening Standard; “Beautifully constructed, ‘art of stand-up’ stuff” - Sunday Times; “curious, original and immensely enjoyable” - Telegraph). Recent appearances on BBC1’s ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘Live at The Apollo’, BBC2’s ‘QI’, ‘Mock the Week’ and ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’, BBC3's 'Russell Howard's Good News', ‘Josh’ and 'Dave's One Night Stand', along with support slots on both Milton Jones and Josie Long's UK tours, have served to boost James’ reputation as one of the most hotly-tipped young comedians in Britain. He’s also had his own radio series, ‘James Acaster’s Findings’ for BBC Radio 4. He’ll be previewing his new hour-long solo show ‘Reset’ at Mostly Comedy, prior to a run on the Melbourne Fringe in April.

Can it really be twenty years since MARK MORRISS first shimmied into our lives as singer with The Bluetones? Apparently so. But after thirteen hit singles (including 1996’s Britpop anthem ‘Slight Return’), three Top Ten albums and a collaboration with David Walliams, his ability to sieve poetry from the colander of every day life still remains unique.

“I always try to add little things that most songs wouldn’t use,” he says of the lyrics on his remarkable first solo album ‘proper’, A Flash Of Darkness.
“If I can squeeze a mention  of Bergerac into a song (as he does in surefire smash  ‘Consuela’) then  I’m happy.”

In the 12 months since the release of his 2015 album A Flash Of Darkness, Mark has been busying himself with some of his other side projects and collaborations, including playing rhythm guitar for The Maypoles, the studio and touring band of Matt Berry (IT Crowd, Toast Of London, House Of Fools) as well as recording a new album (The Taste Of…) for Acid Jazz Records. In April, his band The Bluetones hit the road with a tour to celebrate their twentieth anniversary, culminating at The Roundhouse on 5th May.

The show will be emceed by the “polished, natural comedians” (Camden Fringe Voyeur) DOGGETT & EPHGRAVE. It takes place at The Sun Hotel on Thursday 31st March. Tickets are £11.00. Doors open at 8:30pm, with the first act on at 8:30pm (a later time than usual). A waiting list for returns will be taken from 7:45pm, with any available tickets sold on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Date:              Thursday 31st March 2016
Venue:           The Sun Hotel
                        Sun Street
                        SG5 1AF
Time:              Bar open all day. Doors at 8:00pm. First act on at 8:30pm             
Admission:   £11.00

Sunday, 20 March 2016

My Day (in Reverse).

I listened to this evening’s In Your Inner Ear when it went out, so I could tweet the relevant pictures along with it, as per usual.

I laughed quite a lot at the content, which is always a good sign. I sometimes got a little annoyed by my tone, but I guess there’s nothing new here; everybody suffers from the old ‘not liking hearing a recording of their own voice’ syndrome from time to time, though as a performer, you get over it pretty quickly, otherwise you’d never do anything. Seeing and hearing yourself goes with the territory (unless you’re Roger Daltrey in Tommy, that is; *rock opera reference*).

Today was also one of those few occasions in my life when I felt the urge to catch up on some housework. First off, my budgies’ cage has needed cleaning out for an embarrassingly long time; so much so, it had got to the point where I could barely see the birds for the pile of birdseed shells. I also took out the recycling and the food bin and vacuumed my flat. That’s possibly the dullest sentence I’ve ever written, but it describes the makings of a tidier household, I can tell you.

Prior to all of this housework activity, I popped into the office for an hour or so, to run through some of the material I’d been working on this week. I made a point of not hanging about, as I’ve spent far too much time there on my own lately, which has made me a little cabin-feverish. Time seems to disappear rapidly when I’m in there, so it’s good to escape before another day flies by. The only setback today was that nothing seemed funny, though this was probably just the mood I was in, rather than an accurate reading of the content. I’m my own worst critic and, like with the radio show, I sometimes tire of my own voice. Hopefully things will look better tomorrow on fresh ears. I hope so, otherwise I’ll have to employ a ghostwriter for my forthcoming shows; I hear Ewan McGregor’s pretty good it, apparently, considering what he did for Pierce Brosnan. There’s nothing like an obscure reference to a Roman Polanski-directed film of a Robert Harris novel to round off a blog-post.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

You Can't Handle the Truth.

I watched the pilot episode of The X Files tonight, having recently enjoyed the new series when it was shown on Channel 5.

I was surprised by how much detail I remembered, despite having not seen it for a good - nay, fantastic - twenty years. Some of the shots were alarmingly familiar, which I can only put down to the fact I'd probably been quite tense watching it first time around, as a younger, more easily scared Ephgrave. It's funny how these things lurk in your subconscious. 

I found it hard to get over just how young Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny looked, particularly as I'd only finished the new series the other week. That's not to say that either actor hasn't aged well; more likely that my perception of age has changed through getting older myself. Anderson looks positively foetus-like, which isn't surprising, as she was only in her early-to-mid twenties, while Duchovny was around the age I am today. This passing time thing's a bugger, which ever way you look at it. 

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the first series proper fairs on watching it again. Will it have aged well? We shall see. Whatever the case, there had better be a lot of torch shining, trouser-suit-wearing and ominous looking blokes smoking cigarettes. Let's be honest: I'm only in it for the possibility of seeing in David Duchovny in a thong, or Mr Burns being mistaken for an alien, whilst wandering through the woods. ‎

The No Show.

I’ve just got home from recording this week’s ‘In Your Inner Ear’, which goes out on Sunday.

The theme for tonight’s show – episode twenty-three, no less – was ‘No’. While my last sentence may sound like I’m channeling Frankie Howerd, I assure you I’m not; if I were, I would have followed that ‘No’ with a ‘Now, listen’.

It was nice to record a new episode, as this was something we didn’t think we’d be able to do due for a while, due to Glyn’s and my lack of shared availability. This has now changed, meaning we have a little more time at our disposal. Tonight we tried out a new mixing desk that we’d bought primarily to enable us to record the show with us both in separate locations, should we not be able to find a time when we could both be in the same room (we haven’t fallen out). As it stands, don’t need this option as much as we did, but it was still nice to use better and smaller equipment than the cumbersome desk we’d been using to date. The sound was cleaner than usual, which is a definite improvement.

The show itself flew by pretty quickly. We’ve taken to gently rambling off topic more than we used to, which hopefully still being on the right side of not being self-indulgent. It will be interesting to hear it back when it goes out, to verify this; I know I felt our last episode was a little too loose as we recorded it, only to enjoy it when it was broadcast; it goes to show that you can’t always tell how something is coming across while you’re doing it.

As for the rest of the day, it was spent sending out press releases for this month’s Mostly Comedy (which sold out yesterday, despite still being two weeks away), cat-sitting for a friend, putting together a playlist for the recording, and picking up a prescription. My life’s a non-stop hedonistic thrill; I’m the Shaun Ryder of comedy. The one thing it wasn’t spent doing was writing for my work-in-progress show, which was very frustrating, as something always seems to get in the way. I want to make sure I knuckle down over the next few days, as the more material I work up, the more useful those dates will be. It would be nice to be able to prioritise without any additional distractiosn. Still, as Madness would say, “Tomorrow’s another day”. Or “Tomorrow’s just another day”. I clearly didn’t think this through. Perhaps it would be best to leave it that. After all, it’s gone midnight, and a man like me needs his beauty sleep.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

In the Presence of Magic.

Today's been overshadowed by the sad news of Paul Daniels' passing.

I was on my way to meet Glyn for breakfast when he text me to tell me the news. When I joined him we had long chat about the night Paul played Mostly Comedy last November; reminiscing about how excited we were to have him on the bill, and how bowled over we were by his and Debbie’s easygoing nature that night.

Meeting your heroes can be a risky business; they have so much to live up to and so far to fall. We needn’t have worried in this instance. We were concerned the backstage facilities we could offer were lacking (our then-venue, the Market Theatre, has no dressing rooms), but they didn’t mind at all; we mucked in together, with Glyn happily chatting away with Debbie and the other act on the bill that night, Bec Hill, in the tiny auditorium that adjoins the venue, while Paul prepped his props on stage.

We received a call from the Hertfordshire Mercury and BBC Three Counties today, who’d picked up on Paul Daniels’ recent Mostly Comedy appearance. It was great to be able to pass on how lovely and ‘on form’ they were that night, and how much the audience loved it. He was razor sharp and on top of his game, which was a joy to see.

Paul Daniels was my childhood hero, and the reason I became a performer. He lit the fuse. I’m glad I got to tell him and spend an evening in his company. That night was precious and I’ll never forget it. Thank you, Debbie, Thank you Paul. God bless.

Unexpected Spot.

Tonight I did a short walk-in spot at the open mic gig Touching Cloth on Folgate Street, though by the time I went on, I was so tired, I’d lost faith in what I’d gone there to talk about.

I went armed with a new five minutes, which, when it came to it, I did for the most part; though the room had lost interest by the time I took the stage. I got laughs out of dissecting what wasn’t working, as often seems to be the case, but this can be frustrating as the more you rely on this, you start to feel you haven’t enough good quality material in the first place.

I’m being hard on myself, to be fair. Open mic gigs are tough, however well they’re run (and this one’s run splendidly). There’s just so many people on, and an audience can only take so much information. You end up with a distorted reading of what lines worked and what didn’t. At least I managed to for the most part get across the genesis what I’d written, and remain true to the ethos of the gig, which is all about trying new stuff out. I’d much rather do material I haven’t tried before and have it falter, than keep recycling the same ten or twenty minutes in bijou chunks. That serves no purpose when you need to write a show. I also wasn’t officially booked to do a gig tonight, so I’m now a little ahead on the game. I’m also now the proud owner of a new toilet brush, which I bought as a prop for the set. I’m glad no-one searched my bag on the tube, as it might have looked a little ominous. I don’t want a reputation for the wrong type of cleanliness.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Please, Mr Postman.

Tonight, I went to see Letters Live at the Freemasons’ Hall for the second year running; an experience that was as moving, amusing and enriching as it was last time around (by which I mean it was).

It was great to hear correspondence from people from so many walks of life, and to once again be reminded of how we’re all much the same beneath the surface. Like last year’s show, it was the actors of the company that brought the readings to life the most; breathing truth and sincerity into the thoughts locked behind the words on the page. Yet again, it was an impressive line-up, including Jude Law, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Bremner, Juliet Stevenson, Timothy Carlton, Matt Berry and more. The audience were clearly impressed by the celebrity-heavy cast, yet this didn’t steal the thunder from the real stars of the evening: the writers whose lives we took a privileged peek into tonight.

The most impressive star-turn of the night for me was the person providing the off-stage narration between each reading, who I would have sworn was Leslie Crowther, if it weren’t for the fact he died in 1996. I spent much of last year’s show trying to place the owner of this disembodied voice, before realising I was thinking of Stars in Their Eyes’ original helmsmen; it’s when you can bring people back from the grave that you know your event has a serious pull. Impressive stuff.

Monday, 14 March 2016

University Challenged: Volume Ten (14.03.16)

It wouldn’t be a Monday without me turning to Twitter to subconsciously act out my jealousy of the University Challenge contestants' intelligence by picking on them so personally and unscrupulously  - so here goes.

(I’m sorry for being such a git.)

8:03pm: Kirkman is like Scottish for church, man.

8:05pm: Paxman thinks Bennett's "cuticle".

8:06pm: Kirkman saw tonight's #UniversityChallenge as 'Dress-down Monday'.

8:08pm: Ormestad Frendem is Mednerf Datsemro backwards.

8:09pm: Ormestad Frendem's hair looks like it's parted the wrong way.

8:10pm: Ormestad Frendem: two bad hands at Scrabble.

8:11pm: Gard-Murray's beard perfectly matches his name.

8:12pm: Kaliski's dad was Pob.

8:14pm: Gard-Murray's jacket and facial hair are made from the same corduroy.

8:17pm: Ormestad Frendem's surname was formed from left-over letters.

8:18pm: Isn't the Ormestad Frendem part of the male genitalia?

8:20pm: Smith is only in Nuffield's team to make up for Gard-Murray & Ormestad Frendem's surname obscurity.

8:22pm: Paxman Kirkman, Paxman Kirkman, Paxman Kirkman, PAXMAN KIRKMAN.

8:25pm: Paxman sped from his dressing room in record time to sidle up to Bennett at the BBC bar after the recording finished.

8:27pm: "Water water everywhere" (Coleridge). "Water way to have a good time" (Partridge).

8:29pm: Did Oxford purposely harmonise their goodbye?

Sunday, 13 March 2016

We All Stand-up Together.

Tonight, I did a short spot at the open mic night Big Nose Comedy in Kilburn – and it’s fair to say that the stars aligned for me in both a negative and positive way, as the sad passing of George Martin this week resulted in it being a Beatles-themed gig; a subject that’s right up my street; my zebra-crossinged-in-1969 street.

(I’m referring to Abbey Road.)

I was second on in the first half, which was nice, as it meant I could relax fairly early on in the evening, rather than spending the whole night trying to keeping my brain in gear. For some reason, I was very nervous just before I went on, to the point of having the shakes. I made sure I psychologically knocked these jitters on the metaphorical head with a mantra the Maharishi would have been proud of: “David, you’ve played bigger rooms than this. David, you’ve played bigger rooms than this”. I’ve performed at the Liverpool Empire as a fucking Beatle, damn it, so I can riff a bit about them for five or so minutes.

In the end, it didn’t go too badly, considering the brand spankingly barely-in-my-head nature of the material. If I’d had a little more stage time, I could have settled into what I was saying, and squeezed more humour out of it. I stand by the opinion that it’s hard to be funny in five minutes, as you barely have time to get your personality across – and I’m bloody hilarious at the five-minute ten-second mark.

I took my laptop with me tonight, to use it as a substitute to working with a projector, so I could get a couple of slide-based gags across. It didn’t work as well as I would have liked, as the screen was a tad small for the room, but it still reminded me how much more comfortable I am doing stand-up with visual assistance, particularly when I’m doing a short set. This could either be down to habit and experience, or it could be symbolic of the direction my solo work should go in. It’s the closest I can get to working as a double act without my partner on stage, and I like to have something to work off of – even if it’s a picture of a wet-look mulleted bored-looking Beatles lead guitarist I’m feeding from. I’ve now got an mental image of a lactating George Harrison that I’d really like to shake. 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Barley My Dear.

I’m dog-and-cat-sitting for my mum this evening. 

It’s nice to have a quiet night in with the animals and ‘the wife’ (in that order), in a proper house, like a proper adult and everything. In some ways it’s unnerving, as my mum’s pets are massively out-sized compared to my cat and two budgies at home. Her retriever Barley could make a solid case for dwarfing Digby, while her cat Chaser is just too lengthy for his own good; he’s the feline Ford Cadillac to my cat Millie's Smart car model.

I’m enjoying the time away from work, having spent the afternoon holed up in the office, planning a set for a short spot I’m doing in London tomorrow. I feel my time there was wasted as, instead of running material that’s likely to end up in my show – which was the reason I took the gig in the first place – I found myself vaguely working up something to fit the theme for tomorrow’s gig, which appropriately for me, is ‘The Beatles’.

In reality, I could have just stuck in a gag or two in about the band as a token gesture, but instead, I’ve hastily cobbled a brand new set using a few of my Fab Four-related blog posts of the past as a starting point. Consequently, I only half-know it, plus it’s unlikely to be something I’ll use in my show, as it’s probably won’t sit comfortably in that context. Once again, I  lost sight of my priorities, spending too much time on a thing I'll probably never use again

That said, I’m going to see tomorrow as an experiment: trying out something for the sake of it and keeping it loose; seeing it less as stand-up and more as a gentle debate on a subject close to my heart. I could hardly turn down the chance to talk about my biggest obsession after all; if I can riff on anything, I can do it on The Beatles: they’re my proverbial Mastermind Specialist Subject.