Saturday, 30 April 2016

Dull, Dull, Dull.

I don't have much to report today, which will sometimes inevitably be the case, when you write a daily blog. 

You can't always have something novel to share. That's not to say I haven't been doing things; I just don't feel they'll be of interest to the casual reader (or a sports-casual one, at that). 


One thing that did happen today was we decided to add an extra Mostly Comedy in July, to accommodate an Edinburgh preview or two. A couple of days ago, I was approached by an act that I know, who asked if it was possible to fit in a preview at the club that month. To cut a long story short, I said yes. It will happen the day before the July show that's already booked in, making it the first ever Hitchin Mostly Comedy to take place on a Wednesday - and the first example of a Mostly Comedy two-day stretch (though we did have a couple of London dates in the past that directly preceeded Hitchin ones). If it goes well, we may even entertain the idea of doing a few more shows in a row next Summer, but it's too early to pass extra comment on that. Either way, it shouldn't make for much extra work, as we'll essentially split a days' worth of a set-up across two gigs. 


One thing that disappointed me today was a lack of reaction to a joke I posted on Twitter:


Sometimes you're wasted on your own audience. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Friday Night Ramblings.

Tonight's been mostly 'off duty', catching up on recorded episodes of The Simpsons and The X Files, with a cat on my lap. My cat, to be specific; not just any old cat.

If it weren't for the technology I'm using to write this, you'd be fooled into thinking it was the early 1990s, thanks to my viewing habits. I may be behind the times, but I don't care, as I enjoy it. It's nice to switch on my TV and switch off my mind.

I'd hoped to work on some new material today, but try as I might, I couldn't get into the right mindset. It didn't help that I didn't get started until mid-afternoon, as I met parents for lunch. I'm not complaining - I had a nice time - but I'd hoped to get more done. Frustratingly, it wasn't until minutes before I left the office that I had a small burst of inspiration, which I quickly made note of before I walked home. At least this gives me a checklist to work through over the weekend and into the week.

I'll keep today's blog brief so I can go to bed. Hopefully sleep will encourage more creativity. If not, I may have to employ a ghostwriter to finish off my show. I'd ask Ewan MacGregor if it weren't for all that stuff with Pierce Brosnan and Roman Polanski; fans of Robert Harris will know what I mean.

Working Woking.

A man in the audience at tonight's Joke in the Box told me he'd seen me play Buddy Holly in the theatre across the road; IN WOKING, NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN.

In a way, I hope that some of what I did tonight will be. I was on first, and while my set started well, it tapered off towards the end. I kicked off by remarking on how the harsh spotlight I was performing in made me feel like I was recreating the cover of 'Band on the Run'; a niche, yet appropriate reference that at least hit the ground running. This spotlight ended up conspiring against me, however, as it was very hard to judge where on stage I was properly lit. The emcee had unwittingly stood in near-darkness at the top of the show, so I tried to compensate by moving further stage-left, but couldn't get comfortable. The sound was also a little muddy; I spent the whole set trying to find the sweet spot on the mic that enabled me to be heard. I got so caught up in working out how to purse my lips that I lost energy and focus. Such is life.

Before the gig, I had a nice chat with the comic who runs the club: the lovely Jay Cowle. He's a generous, warm-hearted chap with a gentle, self-deprecating manner that reminds me of me and Glyn. I like his style, and the fact he isn't afraid to be honest. He clearly cares about comedy; but enough of the personality analysis.

I made a swift exit after my set, guiltily, to make a headstart on the homeward journey. I'm currently on the train back from King's Cross, which should get me home before 11pm, which is impressive, considering I was on stage two hours ago. On the underground I spotted the following 'tube face', with a suitably Macca-like pout; what with this and the Band on the Run-style spotlight, it seems I can't escape my Wings-themed evening...which suits me. 


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

When I visited my dad's house today, I made the executive decision not to sit on the noisiest chair.

Most people don't own a seat that's noticeably more audible than the rest, with the exception of CJ in the Seventies sitcom 'The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin', but he's less relevant on account of being a fictional character who was played by an actor who's long dead; he didn't get where he is today without shuffling off of this mortal coil.

My Dad, however, does. It lulls you into a false sense of security by 'sitting' next to another one that's identical in every way, save the silence. It's leathery, Mastermind-style opulence has no aural accompaniment. Meanwhile, the noisy chair does everything it can to lower your status; creaking and farting practically every moment you're on it, irrespective of how little or often you move. It's the most sensitive and volatile surface on the planet: capable of picking up the subtlest buttock shift (I was very careful with how I spelt that.)

I nearly succumbed to its trap, when my mum (who was there too) put her handbag next to the safe chair, thus cunningly forcing my hand. I parked my bum on the Evil One for a split second, but resulting cacophony made me instantly bail out. I made a beeline for a nearby dining chair, consequently saving face. I long for the day when my dad opts for non-slapstick furniture; I prefer to sit without a soundtrack.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Power Guzzler.


Today, I was responsible for two household energy-based fails: (1) I left the iron on while I was in the bath, and (2) the heating's been on for most of the day.

It seems I’ve become lackadaisical with electricity in my mid-thirties. When it comes to power these days, I just don’t care. The melting of the polar icecaps is nigh on inevitable, so why not speed up the process? I'm not going to sit and wait for it to come of its own accord.

In reality, I was annoyed on both counts. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve been out and about, worrying that the iron was still plugged in; on this occasion, I was only in the next room, getting clean. Not only did I have a bath; I also washed my hair - so it must have been on for over an hour. I’m lucky my kitchen didn’t wind up resembling a sauna steam room.

I had a better alibi for forgetting about the heating. I spent the morning tumble-drying bath towels, which always raises the humidity. Today, I thought I’d assist this by letting my hot air vents jam along with it. The upshot is I now look like I’m made from leather. I resemble a present-day Paul Nicholas, which isn't a bonus.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Do You Mind?

I've been practicing meditation more and more frequently in the past few weeks, to quieten my frenetic brain.

I find it very helpful to slow down my thoughts, which often race ahead at a lick, and to focus on what I'm doing there and then. Like most things that are good for me, I expected to only meditate in fits and starts, but surprisingly, I'm pretty regular with it, though it's harder to commit and concentrate when I'm overtired and stressed.

It's become an off/on part of my warm-up routine when preparing for a show. There are a string of vocal exercises I always do before a performance - partly to wake up my range, speech and diction and partly because I'd feel weird if I left them out - but meditation has certainly been added to the list. While mindfulness is currently in vogue and may seem a buzzword to a cynic, there's a lot to be said for it. Anything that helps you prioritise and take stock in where you're at can only be a good thing.

On a completely different note, I'd like to get back to writing my blog posts earlier in the day, as I keep starting them when it's late and my concentration is shot. It's not so bad when I'm coming back from a gig, as I'm more fired up (plus I usually have something to talk about), but I'm ltired of doing it when I should be in bed. That said, I need to prioritise in the coming weeks; while the content of my blogs tend to be weaker in the lead-up to a show, I'd like still write something that's vaguely of interest.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Still Tired.

Much of the afternoon was spent trying to pull together a press mailout for my Brighton Fringe show.

I got there in the end, thanks to a little assistance from my wife. It's nice to have help, as I've sent so many press releases out over the years that I almost cease to see the point in doing it. It's useful when it comes to promoting Mostly Comedys with high profile line-ups, but there's much less impact when you're just promoting yourself. It's hard to create interest, or to find the time to a publicise what you're doing properly, when there's so much other stuff to be done as well, like writing and rehearsing your show in the first place.

Now the mailout's completed for the most part, I can focus on what needs to be done for the show. I was suitably enthused by my Bath 'Work in (Hope of) Progress' dates, as they gave me a positive sense of moving on with my stand-up; to paraphrase a well know 60s song, "It's getting better all the time". Well, it couldn't get much worse.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Liquid Exhaustion.

I've done nothing of note work-wise today and I feel a bit guilty about it.

I have a lot of catching up to do ready for my dates in Brighton next month, but I'm allowed to take it easy occasionally if I see so fit. It's easy to forget that you sometimes need a rest.  Right now, this doesn't seem much of an option, as it's one of the many things I shun, but if I give myself a bit of time doing nothing, I might be more capable of of getting my work done when I'm 'on the case', so to speak.

I'm going to have to keep it brief tonight, as I'm literally falling asleep as I write. I genuinely keep catching myself falling under. I'll try to write a little more tomorrow when I'm less zonked. Zonked: now that's a word.

Friday, 22 April 2016

May's Mostly Pressing.

Some might say sharing next month's Mostly Comedy press release in lieu of a proper blog post is a cheat, but those people probably weren't up until 3am yesterday and therefore too tired to share anything else coherent. If it's any consolation, I wrote it myself - plus it's partially about me. So, strap in:

Press Release – 18.04.16

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

While 5th May’s Hitchin Mostly Comedy with HENNING WEHN and Red Dwarf’s HATTIE HAYRIDGE is sold out, there’s still a chance to snap up tickets for the 12th May date with stand-up from KERRY GODLIMAN and DAVID EPHGRAVE.

KERRY GODLIMAN is an accomplished actress, writer and stand-up, best known for her portrayal of Hannah in Channel Four’s Ricky Gervais-penned sitcom ‘Derek’. She’s no stranger to other TV work, however, having appeared on BBC1’s ‘Live at The Apollo’, ‘Miranda’ and ‘Our Girl’, BBC2’s ‘Life’s Too Short’ and ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ and C4’s ‘Comedy Gala’, to name a few.

Godliman has been in hot demand in recent years, writing and appearing in two series of ‘Kerry’s List’ for BBC Radio 4, supporting Micky Flanagan on tour and taking a handful of stand-up shows to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She recently finished shooting scenes for the forthcoming Christopher Guest mockumentary ‘Mascots’.

The locally-based comedian, actor and musician (and back end of the duo behind Mostly Comedy) DAVID EPHGRAVE will also be previewing material from his forthcoming Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Mostly David Ephgrave’, following his recent solo work-in-progress dates at the Bath Comedy Festival.

David’s credits with Doggett & Ephgrave include eleven seasons with ‘The Comedy Project’ at the Soho Theatre, numerous shows on the Edinburgh, Brighton, Camden and Leicester Fringe, plus the Time Out-recommended version of Mostly Comedy at London’s Leicester Square Theatre. A notable D&E career highlight was reading an episode of their self-written sitcom ‘Nick & Joe’ in the West End, alongside a cast that included Michael Barrymore and Norman Lovett (Holly in ‘Red Dwarf’). They also host a weekly show, ‘Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear’, on SG1 Radio.

David’s solo acting credits include portraying both John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the No. 1 Tour of ‘The Roy Orbison Story’, Buddy Holly in the UK / Ireland Tour of ‘Buddy Holly and the Cricketers’ and Richard in the West End production of ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’. In 2015, he took his debut solo show ‘…and Ephgrave’ to the Brighton & Camden Fringe Festival ("A very likeable standup, confident but not cocky, and a lot of fun to spend time with...He's a natural entertainer." - View From The Gods). He also writes a daily blog (www.mostlydavidephgrave.blogspot.co.uk).

The show will be emceed by DOGGETT & EPHGRAVE. It takes place at The Sun Hotel on Thursday 12th May. Tickets are £11.00. Doors open at 7:30pm, with the first act on at 8:00pm. Tickets are available in advance via www.mostlycomedy.co.uk. A waiting list for the HENNING WEHN date will be taken on the door from 7:15pm on 5th May.

Date:Thursday 12th May 2016
Venue: The Sun Hotel
Sun Street
Hitchin
Hertfordshire
SG5 1AF
Time: Bar open all day. Doors at 7:30pm. First act on at 8:00pm
Admission: £11.00

Mainly Mostly.

Tonight's Mostly Comedy saw a lovely mix of acts doing great stuff, marred slightly by a few audience members deciding to leave early in a ball of distraction and disruptiveness, because they did like the final act.

That's the way a comedy night goes; not everyone will like everything. It was just a shame that decided to make their distaste so vocal, pulling focus so much as they left.

Outside of that, it was a nice gig. It was always going to be quieter, what with Henning Wehn having to move to a different date - but while the numbers were slightly down, they were a pretty responsive bunch.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It was great to have our techie Paul back tonight at the helm. Our get-in was relaxed and completed in good time, thanks to his hard work. Glyn and I had the chance to get ready for the gig with relative comfort, which is in start contrast to usual. This can only be good. Now, it's time for bed as it's FAR TOO LATE. Good night y'all.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Brain Resting.

I had a nice relaxing evening tonight, switched off from thoughts of anything work-related.

I feel guilty when I say things like this, like people would question what I do as being 'work'. That's a ridiculous mindset for a 34-year-old to consistently be in - or does everybody insecure about this? I shouldn't feel the need to justify what I do; I'm a self-employed performer who has always earnt a living in this field. My CV vouches for this. I've toured the country, appeared on TV (albeit in adverts) and been in the West End (and not just as a tourist), yet somehow my career doesn't seem real or tangible. Not just that; I also feel the need to rationalise why I might want a night off from thinking about what I need to do the next day.

...I'm essentially a bit of a fucking idiot.

It helps that I met with Glyn today and we discussed a lot of things that need to be done. It was time well spent. I also phoned our Mostly Comedy technician Paul to talk through plans for tomorrow, so things now feel more organised than usual. Glyn and I plan to take it relatively easy tomorrow, in terms of what we do to aid the set-up and what we do onstage. I'm determined for it to be a stress-free day, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be (he says, tempting fate).

I'm not sure whether I'll do any solo stand-up, and if I do, it won't be anything new. I can save that for other gigs in the next few weeks. I could do with giving myself a little brainspace as, as I've mentioned in the past few blogs, I've been feeling overwrought. So, why not take things a little easier when I can? It reminds me of something an ex-colleague said to me once about singing: "If your voice isn't in shape on any given day, you don't need to aim for the notes you can't hit; you can adapt a melody to suit what's comfortable that night". It's like being an athlete; you need to be in tune with what you're capable of at any given moment. Even if this sounds wanky, I'm going to take heed to it. Step One: I shouldn't feel the need to justify this.

Barbeardba Ann


If I don’t tidy up my beard soon, I’ll morph into an early-Eighties Beach Boy. 


This style choice isn’t intentional; it’s brought about by a 50/50 mix of laziness/busyness. There hasn’t been sufficient time to go about my usual high standard of personal grooming. If I’m not careful, I’ll be buying a sandpit, pushing my piano into it and playing the verse riff of California Girls on it on loop.

(This is a very specific Brian Wilson reference.)

I’d better knock my untrimmed facial hair on the head before Thursday’s Hitchin gig. Phil Kay’s on the bill, and I don’t want to end up in the crossfire of a high stakes ‘beard-off’. He’s more likely to this battle than me; he’s a professional beard wearer. If nothing else, I’ll buy a beard snood, as I’m not sure our public liability insurance covers hygiene.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Moaning Minnie (David).

Yet again, I've frazzled my brain with admin, rather than focusing on the things I'd rather prioritise on.

This always seems to be the case. Tonight, I've written press releases for the next few Mostly Comedys (I never know how to pluralise this) and pulled together a mailout to be sent to our mailing list in the morning. I wanted to get this out at the weekend, knowing it would increase sales for this week's show and raise awareness of the next few dates, but life got in the way. I long for the time when I'm not chasing my tail (in a metaphorical sense, as I'm essentially tail-less).

This happened at the expense of the two things I wanted to do this evening, which were (1) apply for the BBC New Comedy Competition (for which the deadline is midnight tonight) and (2) watch The X-Files with my wife (our current brain switch-off of choice). Predictably, neither happened. Bloody bastard bloody linear time.

Thankfully the whole day wasn't like this. This morning, my friend Rob drove to Hitchin to meet me for a coffee and a catch-up. I was looking forward to this all weekend, as it was the one pressure-free thing in my diary. It's always good to see him and we always have a laugh. He's a good chap, is Rob. Hopefully we'll meet up more often. This paragraph is about to fizzle out, but that's allowed. I make the rules here, right?

Sunday, 17 April 2016

IYIE #25

Predictably, I listened to tonight's episode of 'Doggett & Ephgrave: In Your Inner Ear' when it went out; primarily so I could tweet along the pictures that accompanied it.

I always feel slightly nervous before the broadcast; mainly because I can never quite remember what was said, or if I was any good on it. The show's recorded so quickly, you barely have the chance to consider it - and when it's a been a busy week like this one, it fills such a tiny fraction of your time for you to barely even consider it as you're doing it.

This can be positive, as the content often takes me by surprise when I listen back to it. Tonight, I genuinely laughed at a lot of it; not in a self-celibratory way; more because I didn't know what was coming next, bar the basic outline. There was the odd bit of cross-talk in places, which was frustrating, but funny lines frequently came up. I like the broad scope of our references (tonight's ranged from Pingu to...oh, I forget the rest: it's late).

One of the things I enjoyed the most, sadly, was discovering the show is definitely now broadcasting in stereo, which we had problems with in the past. I have the eccentric stereo mixing of the 1960s to thank for the clarity, as John Lennon's voice clearly starts in the right-hand speaker for the first verse of A Day in the Life, and the left in the last. i don't know what's worse: me knowing this in advance or being excited enough to text Glyn about it. Thankfully, he'd noticed it too; it turns out we're as anal as each other. Who'd have thunk it?

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Saturday Night's Alright For Gigging.

I'm currently on the train back from a lovely gig at Guildford Gag House in - yes, you've guessed it - Guildford.

It was nice to do a set in a 'club' club, having done a lot of open mic gigs recently, to work up new material. The place was run like a tight ship, which was refreshing, and the room (which was in the back of a pub called the Star Inn) had a decent stage and a proper tech set-up. I suspect it doubles as a music venue, but to be honest, I haven't done my research.

I was on in the middle, between Tom Lucy and Mark Dolan, which was good for me logistically, as it meant I could nip off earlyish, which makes for a change after a week of late nights. I felt guilty for missing Mark's set, but I quickly said hello, to hopefully negate my inherent rudeness. I also had a good chat with Tom, who I haven't met before, and enjoyed his set; he's far to self-assured for someone I now realise is half my age; I'm officially decrepit.

My set went well, considering my brain's a bit shot. My wife came with me, which was great, as it's nice to have the company, particularly when you're not feeling your best. I was heartened when I saw how warmly the crowd received the MC Elf Lyons' stories; happy to listen and invest in them. It's good when people are happy to pick up on detail, which is a rarity when playing to a Saturday night crowd. It was a nice way to round off the week; now I'm going off-duty to eat an apple; rock 'n' bloody roll.  

Friday, 15 April 2016

A Night Off


It was nice to not be gigging tonight.

Today I’ve been feeling brain-dead and overworked. It didn’t help that I had a late night last night, thanks to an exceptionally delayed train home from Brighton to St Pancras. It’s been good to be so busy recently, and to be working towards my goals (primarily next month’s Brighton show and Edinburgh in August) – but it’s also nice to have a bit of headspace. I feel like I’ve been overloading myself a bit.

I vaguely ran through my proposed set for tomorrow’s gig in Guildford late this afternoon, but was too tired to make any definite decisions about it. Either way, it will be good to play a proper club for a change, other than just my own one. I’m looking forward to it. I made some rough notes about what to talk about, so I’ll check it again tomorrow on fresh eyes, to decide for certain what goes in and what goes out.

On that note, I’ll sign off for tonight, as my eyes are trying their darndest to shut up shop. Hopefully, I’ll wake up tomorrow all invigorated from tonight’s break; we shall see.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Running Up That Road.

There's nothing less dignified than a sweaty Ephgrave running for the train in the rain, after returning to a venue to rescue his neglected umbrella.

That's how the evening played out to me. I zoomed from the gig, after the MC had kindly put me on first so I could leave early, to find I'd mislaid my 'portable shelter'. I contemplated leaving it behind, but a quick peek out of the door made it patently obvious that this would be churlish. To make things worse, the room the gig was in was as tight and rammed as a room could be; I had to go back, having already made a painfully awkward, stumbly exit in the first place.

The location of tonight's slapstick was the Black Dove in Brighton; a pub I've played before, about a year ago. The room has a distinct opium den vibe that adds character to proceedings. It was a shame I had to leave early as it looked like a good line-up. I got talking to a couple of the other acts before I went on, who were very nice. It's intriguing to see how close-knit the Brighton comedy scene is; it has forged a definite identity. I'd like to gig there more often (which is convenient, as I'm back with my new show next month; how fortuitous.)

I picked up a copy of the Brighton Fringe brochure as I stepped off the train; quickly flicking through it as I walked, trying to find my listing. It was reassuring to see it there, and to know there was some semblance of promotion already in place. Glyn kindly put together my flyer for me today, which will go to print next week, making it all more official. I'm looking forward to the run - and to more sprinting, as I wend my way home each night.

A Little Bit of Everything.

Today's been the dictionary definition of jam-packed.

(N.B. It's not literally the dictionary definition, but FUCK YOU. This is my newer, reworked, rowdier post Bath-Comedy-Festival self, and you've gotta LIVE WITH IT.)

(...I'll now step down from my pedestal.)

The day started with meeting Glyn for breakfast, which was nice, as it gave us the chance to catch up on what's been happening for us both in the past few weeks. I filled him in on my Bath Festival experience, which was for the most part good, and he filled me in on his current job hunt. The only slight frustration was we were pushed for time from the start as I had a doctor's appointment, so we resorted to talking in bullet points. Nevertheless, it was still a good thing to do.

After my appointment (which I won't relay, as there are limits), I went to the office to quickly look at a prospective set for a gig I was doing this evening (which I'm currently on the train back from as I write this: 'future me' is looking back at 'past me', working to aid 'future me'; this paragraph's an existential nightmare). Not only was I working over material; I also had to quickly read over the stories I intended to bring up in Sunday's radio show, which we also recorded today; as I said: "Jam-packed".

The topic for this week's show was 'fool', which gave us ample opportunity to relay the usual anecdotes about our awkward, idiotic selves. Steve and Glyn joined me in the office at 1:30pm, when we quickly set up to record, knowing we had to be done in time for me to catch the train into London at 6pm. We somehow managed to fit the recording in, which, despite being a little rushed, went well. Glyn didn't feel quite 'on it', but I felt it was better than our last show; we shall see when it goes out.

Once we'd finished the record, I quickly walked home with Stephen in tow (he'd parked by my flat, because he's cheeky like that). I quickly said hello to my wife and cat (who are one and the same), got changed, ran my set again, then sped to the station to catch the train.

The gig tonight went well, despite being in the not-so-good room to the other space at the venue where the show usually runs. I decided to roll out my old Spurs / Bleep Test material which I haven't touched for ages, to see how it felt on fresh ears. I thought it would be nice to see how some of my older stuff would work on a rereading, having focused so heavily on new material for Bath over the weekend. It wasn't too bad; I felt more relaxed than usual, which was partly thanks to my mostly positive 'Work in (Hope of) Progress' experience over the weekend. I got talking to a nice comic who happened to be from Stevenage originally too (something I'd name-dropped in my set), and lo-and-behold, he'd heard of our radio show, which is nothing short of a miracle; I told him he was probably the only person in existence outside of our immediate family to be aware of it. He also knew about Mostly Comedy and said nice things about it, which was good to hear. I enjoyed his set too, so hopefully he'll be at another gig soon.

As I mentioned a few stanzas back, I'm now on the train home. I'm feeling a strange mix of enthused and over-worked. The week's a busy one - I have a gig in Brighton tomorrow for starters - but there's a feeling of momentum. I don't want to overdo it though. At least I know we squeezed a lot of good things into today. As a wise person said to me once, "You use every cut of the meat". It's a strange analogy to apply to a pescetarian, but I appreciate the compliment".

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Fatigued(avid).

I've been exceptionally tired today; so much so that I didn't get much done.

I caught the bus to Stotfold this morning to walk my mum’s dog; a visit that was well-timed, as my mum has injured her foot, making it hard to do it herself. It was nice to see Barley and to catch up with my mum, having not seen her properly for a few weeks. By the time I'd taken Barley around the block and caught the bus back to Hitchin, it was 1:30pm. I walked to the library to renew a book, then headed to the office to do some writing.  

I settled down to look at some new material for tomorrow’s gig, but couldn't keep focused. This was annoying, as I hate wasting time. I know I’m entitled to a break after Bath, but I'm not very good at allowing myself this. I'm seldom satisfied with what I've done, and woke up today feeling frustrated about the lack of audience I had over the weekend, and the unlikelihood of a review or anything else positive coming from it.

I know I'm being pessimistic, as the show went well, despite having no performance on Saturday. I was surprised by how cohesive it felt at such an early stage. I just find it hard to shake the feeling of an uphill struggle I always seem to be presented with; it would have been nice if more people had come to watch it, so I felt more secure about the reaction and less like I'd wasted my time and money; it wasn't cheap to go there and pay for the flyers and accommodation as well. It's a knock to your morale when no-one comes to see you.

I'm sure I’ll feel better when I'm a little less tired, though my exhaustion isn't likely to abate quite yet, as I have a lot on over the next few days; I hope I haven't overloaded myself.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Sleep-blogging.

Much of today was spent driving back from Bath in the rain.

To be fair, I wasn't the one doing the driving, on account of the fact that I can't. Instead, the responsibility fell on my wife, while Steve squeezed himself into the back of the car, with most of the show’s gear. If he fancies a change, he could have a promising career as a contortionist.

Thanks to the weather, the journey felt like it would never end. We managed to fill the time with a couple of travel games, which lightened the mood, but by the time we approached Hitchin, we were a little delirious. We laughed a lot, but I think we were all pleased to finally get home. Then followed a lot of clothes-washing and unpacking, before my wife and I went to pick up the cat from her sister’s and settled down for a quiet, yet tired evening. I'm falling asleep as I write this which is never a good sign. The last thing I’d want to do is just peter ou...

Bathstards.

First off, I'm pleased to report that I had a show tonight and second off, I'm pleased to report that  it went well. 


The audience were small but quite responsive, and all in all, it felt that what I did held together. I did find myself going in unexpected directions as I went off on various tangents, but I felt I was just the right side of improvising, while keeping a sense of the show as a whole. It was one of those rare occasions where I felt in control even when things went off in a random way. 


All in all, playing the Bath Comedy Festival was a pleasing experience, even if I only ended up doing a short stand-up spot and a full show. I think next time I should be tighter on the PR, so I don't end up in a similar position. Perhaps if I sent fire to myself the public would be interested. It's always worth a try.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Bathe Me, Clean Me, Any Way You Want Me.


Tonight, I didn’t have a show, as no-one came to see it.

This isn’t as bleak as it may read at first glance. Firstly, I barely slept last night, so I wasn’t exactly feeling match-fit. Also, I had the chance to run the show in the space, which made me feel more comfortable for tomorrow. I also got to set up at a leisurely rate, which is always good when you have an elaborate tech set-up (the word ‘elaborate’ is a little hyperbolic, but I’m now on the outside of one and a half espresso martinis and a glass of prosecco, after enjoying a lovely meal in an Italian restaurant with my wife and Stephen (who couldn’t finish his espresso martini due to an amaretto allergy; the most middle class sentence you’ve ever read). It made for a nice release after a long day, and a nicely sociable evening.

Me, setting up, like.
I’m raring to go for tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting my new material out in the open and trying it out. It’s a shame I won’t get two goes at it with an audience, but that’s okay. I’m optimistic about it. Sometimes, it’s just the way it goes, and I was up against a lot of competition tonight from other festival shows. At least I can write the whole thing off as a legitimate tax expense or a very expensive rehearsal. Why practise in my hometown of Hitchin when I can decamp to Somerset?

P.S. If you can spot Stephen's head, you get thirty points.





 

Bath Me.

Tonight, I did a spot in the Bath New Act competition, as it felt like a thing to do while I'm here...and still on the fringes of being able to describe myself as a ‘new’ act.

It was a nice room and a great line-up of a very high standard. I was on first, which can be a bit of a poisoned chalice, as the room aren't sufficiently warmed up, and you can easily get forgotten in the stream of other acts. That said, I quite like getting it over and done with, rather than having to keep my brain firing asI wait to go on. That said, my set went well and the audience were pretty responsive, which was good, as I took a bit of a risk and did mostly new material, in a slightly different format to what I've done in the past.

I didn't get through to the final, which was a shame, but to be honest, it wasn't what it was about for me (but I would say that). I see every gig as a chance to bed in new stuff and settle into working alone again, as I gradually build up my stamina and confidence for Edinburgh. I feel I've turned a small corner regarding working solo, which is good, but I'm still aware of the loneliness that goes with it. My friend Stephen's with me this weekend, and my wife joins us tomorrow, but there's still a subconscious yawning gap. It's hard to remain self-assured in a room of comics you don't know and the lack of camaraderie that goes with no longer facing it as a double act. That said, I prefer working in the context of a show rather than a short spot, as you have more time to get your personality across with no competitiveness - and I can wheel out my projector, which is a comfort (and not a euphemism)

I'm looking forward to kicking off some ‘Work in (Hope of) Progress’ this weekend and experimenting with new ideas. Some will be rough around the edges, but that's okay. So let's bloody get on with it.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Mostly Promotionly.

is it a cop-out to share the press release I wrote for this month's Mostly Comedy today in lieu of a proper blog post? Yes, it probably is...but when you're tired and preparing to nip off to Bath for a few days to perform at their comedy festival, you're allowed to give yourself a little break.

It's only so much of a cheat anyway as I still wrote it - even if it wound up being a cut-and-shut of various other press releases in the past. I was pleased to see the resulting article is already displayed on the  Hertfordshire Mercury, plus we've also managed to shift a few more tickets today, which is presumably as a result of this, so that's good. See below for the press release that inspired it, and then visit www.mostlycomedy.co.uk to book.

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Press Release – 04.04.16

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

21st April’s instalment of Doggett & Ephgrave’s Mostly Comedy sees a variety of familiar faces return to the club, headed by the truly original PHIL KAY.

PHIL first burst on to the comedy circuit in 1989, winning the Edinburgh Fringe Festival competition So You Think You're Funny in its second year. His unpredictable, freestyle approach to live performance led to a Perrier Award nomination in 1993, as well as winning Best Stand-up at the British Comedy Awards in 1994.

He went on to make two series for Channel 4, Phil Kay Feels… and Next Stop, Phil Kay; more recent TV appearances include stints on BBC1’s ‘QI’ and BBC3’s ‘Russell Howard’s Good News’. He is huge on both the comedy and festival circuit, as well as working hard behind the scenes, writing for the likes of Harry Hill, Reeves and Mortimer and Jonathan Ross. In 2013 he published his autobiography The Wholly Viable.

Joining Phil on the bill is another familiar TV face, JAMES REDMOND. James made his name as a model and actor before turning to stand-up, and is best known for his roles in C4's 'Hollyoaks' and BBC1's 'Casualty', and for presenting ITV's 'SM:TV' and 'CD:UK' alongside Cat Deeley. He has also appeared on BBC2's 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' , C4's 'Celebrity Come Dine With Me', and is a regular on Sky One's 'Soccer A.M.'

Also appearing is Best Newcomer Nominee at the 2012 Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards, SAM FLETCHER. Sam is a comic actor, whose credits include BBC2's 'Ideal', BBC3's 'Coming of Age' and Channel 4's 'Shameless' – though it was 'Good on Paper' (his first solo hour at this year's Edinburgh Festival) that caught the critics eye and led to his prestigious nomination; press quotes include 'no other show made me smile so much this year' **** (Independent),  and  'another star is born' **** (Metro).

The only comic on the bill who’s never played Mostly before is 2014 ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ semi-finalist FIONA RIDGEWELL. Fiona has won a number of comedy competitions including 'The Blackout' at Up The Creek (twice) and ‘Beat the Gong’ at the Comedy Store London in December 2014. In May 2015 Fiona was a finalist in 'Jokers Joker'. Most recently, she was a semi finalist in ‘Funny Women 2015’.

The show will be emceed by its organisers, the “polished, natural comedians” (Camden Fringe Voyeur) DOGGETT & EPHGRAVE. It takes place at The Sun Hotel on Thursday 21st April. Tickets are £11.00. Doors open at 7:30pm, with the first act on at 8:00pm Tickets are available in advance via www.mostlycomedy.co.uk.

Date:Thursday 21st April 2016
Venue: The Sun Hotel
Sun Street
Hitchin
Hertfordshire
SG5 1AF
Time: Bar open all day. Doors at 7:30pm. First act on at 8:00pm
Admission: £11.00

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Mostly David Ephgrave's Predicament.

While I’m enjoying piecing together various bits of material for this weekend’s Bath Comedy Festival work-in-progress dates and am happy with how it’s going, I'm in a bit of a quandary as to which direction I should go with the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe show that will hopefully rise from the ashes of it.

(I like a bit of drama in a blog post.)

My sticking point is this: should I keep the show personal and use more stories about me and my family, much like last year’s Brighton and Camden Fringe show ‘...and Ephgrave’, or should I go with the material that's more outward-looking than inward, much like Glyn’s and my output.

At this stage, I'm not sure. There's a lot to be said for keeping things universal, but it's possible that in doing so, the stand-up becomes more generic and less original. The big, big, big decision I'm faced with is how much I should use projection. It's very easy for me to fall back on it, as it's so familiar a format for me, having used it so much with mine and Glyn’s stuff. I feel I know exactly how to get a laugh from it, whereas the straighter more story-based stand-up is a newer direction for me, and therefore less foolproof.

I’ll see how the different styles of material come across on Saturday and Sunday and in the gigs that immediately follow, before I make too many decisions. I realised not long ago that I don't have to try so hard to avoid the Doggett & Ephgrave-style stuff as, when it comes to it, few people in the wider picture are aware of it, and I was only trying to steer clear of it initially when I wanted to turn up to gigs without a projector, and to see if I could do something slightly  different. I wanted to find my own voice, forgetting that a lot of D&E’s stuff was written in it anyway. Perhaps I can make the show fall somewhere between the two. It would make sense to take a show called Mostly David Ephgrave down a more personal route, as the title would lend it to that, but not if I can be funnier by taking it the other way. Questions, questions, questions (answers on a postcard, marking the top left-hand corner ‘EPHGRAVE WOULD LIKE SOME HELP’.)

Obstacles. Bloody Obstacles.

As is often the case when I’ve had a good day working on my show, it is swiftly followed by a less productive one.

This was solely due to other things getting in the way. First off, this morning, I had to walk a massive dog; my mum’s dog, to be precise. I caught the bus to Stotfold to take him out, which I often do, as it saves my mum paying a dog-walker for one day a week, plus I get some exercise. Today, Barley - for it is he - was particularly keen to go out, and delighted to say hello to everyone we met on the way; including an 18-week-old sausage dog who didn't quite know what to make of the huge Digby-like beast who was so desperate to greet him; vive la différence. Yes, that's right: ‘French’.

After that, I spent the afternoon battling with a mobile phone provider that ironically started life in the self-same village. Or maybe I misremembered that. Either way, it made for an irritating distraction, which ate up far too much time and meant I got a lot less done. Let me state for the record that I hate Vodafone with every fibre of my being; I may even get that tattooed on my face.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be clearer and more conducive to doing some work. I was meant to be meeting Glyn in the morning and recording a new episode of ‘In Your Inner Ear’ in the evening, but I’ve had to postpone both so I can get more done. It will be good to have a day where I can work on my Bath setlist uninterrupted - though 'best laid plans', and all that.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Running, Running, Running.

Today felt pretty productive.

Aside from the odd bit of personal admin, such a dropping off prescriptions and buying bin bags, I spent much of the day running material and starting to piece a set together for this weekend’s show. I felt quite energised and enthused by the results, which was an exciting place to be this early in the week.

My only sticking point at this stage is whether to be bold and make my setlist predominantly new, untested (and relatively untested) stuff, or whether to pad it out generously with things I've tried before, such as material from last year’s show. I'd initially intended on doing the latter, but working through my notepads today, I reminded myself of various bits and pieces I'd vaguely worked up, or blogs I thought would be appropriate for stand-up, that I could probably learn sufficiently over the next week. I remembered the reason I'd booked the Bath dates in the first place: as a chance to openly try new ideas out. I don't expect what I do this weekend to be particularly like the show I do in Brighton and then Edinburgh as regards structure; I also have a number of blogs I know are likely to wind up as part of it, that I clearly won't be sticking into a set in the next week...but I'd sooner remain true to the original point of the weekend’s dates: to - as the blurb says - road-test material. So why not use it for that?

(That’s a rhetorical question.)

The other thing I need to decide over the next few days is my set for the New Act Competition I'm taking part in at the end of this week. It only need be short, but - like this weekend’s ‘Work in (Hope of) Progress’ dates - I'm not sure whether to go for something older and more familiar that feels a bit stale, or go for my newer, more animated stuff. I’ll have a think as I work through my prospective set for Saturday and Sunday and see what stands out.

I also wrote and sent out the press release for April’s Mostly Comedy to the local press, which thanks to last month’s later-than-usual date, takes place practically tomorrow. On top of that, I scheduled a mailout to our mailing list (poor double use of the word ‘mail’ then) and watched a couple of episodes of The X-Files; all in all, a successful day. Good work, everyone. Lunchbreak.  

Get in the Bath.

Today (Sunday), I reached my secret self-enforced mental cut-off point for writing new material to go into next weekend’s Bath Comedy Festival ‘Work in (Hope of) Progress’ dates.

I'm surprised by how much new non-projection based stuff I've accumulated, but I suppose it's no wonder when I think of how few gigs I've been able to use the technology at in recent months. That's not to say there won't be more of it to squeeze into my Brighton and Edinburgh show - there are more than a handful of routines I have in mind for it - though I'd sooner draw a line under what goes into the Bath setlist, than put in too much half-formed half-learnt stuff I won't yet be able to do justice. It’s reassuring though, as it gives me a firm sense of the direction my show will take in the next few months.

My Bath ‘Work in (Hope of) Progress’ dates will be markedly different to Brighton and Edinburgh’s ‘Mostly David Ephgrave’ show, but no less free-standing and self-contained. I want to keep them loose and unpressured, though that doesn't mean they’ll be unstructured. I’m putting in a couple of routines from last year's show to make Bath feel more robust, though, having said that, the nature of the new material nights I've been frequenting recently (that mostly give you only five minutes to perform) have indirectly contributed to the content, resulting in little chunks of story-based stuff that reach a small resolution in and of themselves.

This afternoon, I ran all of the new stuff that's likely to go in, and was pleasantly surprised to find I had just under forty minutes of material to play with, before padding it out with my so-called tried-and-tested stuff. This has definitely heartened me as to what will come over the next few months when I throw in the more tech-based stuff, but it's good to stick to my self-prescribed cut-off point than to try and do too much. I'll now use the next few days to choose the running order for - and tighten up - my Bath set. Now, I’ll stop talking and get on with it.  

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Picture This.

I took a couple of photos today when I was on the way to the library. 

I only managed one shot before the cat stopped cooperating and started washing. They're all the same; feigning nonchalance when they know exactly what they're doing. They may be my favourite species, but they’re a pain in the arse whenever they see fit.

The door reminds me, perhaps unsurprisingly, of the old Big Day Out song ‘Red Front Door’, that we used to play as a four-piece. The song was inspired by the appropriately-coloured entrance to former Labour MP Barbara Follett’s old house on Stevenage High Street, which I used to walk past every day on my way to school. Despite the fact I’d see it the most, I played little part in the writing, but I liked the concept, which was taken from the point of view of someone in the public eye seeking solace in their house when it all got too much:

“And I can’t take any more; it drives me out of my shoes.
I’m happy hiding behind my red front door; it keeps me out of the news.”

I imagine Follett felt very much this way in the midst of the expenses scandal.

The other photo I took was this:




I can’t quite read the expression; is it sheepish or happy? It's either embarrassed about the parking enforcement or ecstatic. Still...never trust noseless being. It looks like Wizbit on a pike.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Mostly Morriss & Acaster.


I found yesterday’s Mostly Comedy frustrating, though this was probably more to do with my mindset, than the gig itself.

James Acaster at last night's Mostly (photos by Gemma Poole)
It was an exceptional line-up, with Mostly old-timer James Acaster making his first appearance at the club in a couple of years to preview his new show, and an acoustic set from The Bluetones’ exceptional (and thoroughly nice) Mark Morriss to round things off. It was nice to see James again, having not crossed paths for a while, and my kid inside was all worked up to hear Mark’s distinctive voice ringing out in our venue. When I introduced his set, I made reference to the fact that I have a clear memory of my old band Big Day Out jamming our way through the Bluetones’ song Solomon Bites the Worm in the front room of our then-guitarist’s house, when I was just seventeen (not the magazine). If you told me then that I’d one day play host to their frontman at my own club, I would have (1) questioned how you got in Rich’s house, (2) how you were privy to this information, and (3) why you felt the need to spoil this happy ending; life is improved by the occasional unexpected twist.

Mark Morriss.
So what was the root of frustration, I hear you ask? I just found myself a little irked by the fact the gig ran late, and that the audience seemed a little confused by proceedings. Things started well, then got a tiny bit strained as the night went on, perhaps partly because the crowd may have been a little irritated by the long queue to get to the bar to buy an interval drink, leading to an extended break and a later finish. I did ten or fifteen minutes of solo stand-up before Mark went on, to try and run in some more new material, but felt acutely aware of the tiredness and slight uncomfortableness of the room. I signposted this a little too much, through being pretty shattered myself, creating more awkwardness, and slowing things down before Mark’s set. Oh well; it was still very useful for me, plus Mark finished things off perfectly. We had a nice long chat with him after the gig, which made up for not recording the podcast. We decided to not do it, to give us one less thing to think about, which is a shame in hindsight, as we were both particularly keen to interview him...but there’s always next time. At least by then, we should be more settled in the new venue.

Channelling The Krays.
Before the gig, we showed a short video clip of Paul Daniels’ appearance at November’s Mostly Comedy as a tribute. Watching it back, I was struck by just how razor-sharp he still was. Seeing it again was bitter-sweet. I’m honoured that we got to meet and play host to him. It’s a night I’ll always treasure; my God, the man was good.

It's only bloody Glyn Doggett.

The Blog That Wasn't.

Tonight (or should that read "this morning") I wrote a long detailed blog about this evening's Mostly Comedy, which I managed to delete without saving. Consequently, I've spent the last hour or so trying to revert to a previous version of the file, to save me having to write the whole thing again. Now, a good sixty minutes into to trying to do this, I'll admit, I've been beaten. It's far too late to rewrite that blog post now - so I'll try and approximate it again tomorrow. It's very irritating, as I was quite pleased with it. 

In the meantime, as a space-saver, you can enjoy a picture of me and Mark Morriss sharing an intimate moment after tonight's gig. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Watch this space.

(I'm well aware that this is a cop-out, but it's nearly 4:30am, so give me a break; I'm talking to myself here and not you. Night night.

This wasn't the way this blog was meant to be.