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Archive for August, 2013


Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 22 and post-Fringe thoughts

That’s it for Edinburgh Fringe for another 11 months and it is now time to reflect on what has taken place.

In case you were wondering, our final show did go ahead and we had our largest audience of the entire run; we were only about six people away from having a full-house. Unfortunately, they weren’t an audience who responded particularly well to material and were quite a talkative bunch. There was a lot of crowd control work going on, mainly to try and get certain audience members to stop chatting and focus on what we were talking about. It was a weird gig, but sort of fun and not too horrific.

In short, it has been a real struggle this year. I knew I’d miss Paul, but did more so than I expected to. He does the donkey work and seems to relish it, leaving me to focus on my material. Getting the room setup every day really cut into crucial flyering time.

I overestimated my flyering abilities and thought I could fill the room on my own. I adore the Kilderkin, but its location cannot be changed. You have to really put in the hours flyering and even then you’re not guaranteed an audience.

It is also worth bearing in mind that when Paul first dropped out, I was angling to do a solo show in the same venue in the same time-slot. I am grateful for this not materialising, because it would have likely been an even greater struggle.

I enjoyed Simon’s company, but his solo show left him understandably low on energy for much else. With my material developing and changing as the month went on, it almost felt like a month of previews. This is a good thing, because after previous Fringes, I felt that my material has been in need of sealing up and putting into storage. But with this one, I feel that there is much more mileage I can get out of it. Ideas are still evolving and it is exciting to see where they go.

Even so, for the most part, people who came enjoyed the show and said some very nice things.

It was a year when I did some things for the first time. I managed to avoid the Edinburgh lurgy, which is almost unprecedented. I saw more shows than I have previously and I also managed to make the hike up to Arthur’s Seat after putting it off for four years.

As a wise man once said, clouded the future is. I have just arrived back in London and am already getting itchy feet as to what to do next. I think that the London circuit can be stifling in terms of stage-time, so my future may lie further north where there is an improved chance of actually getting paid regularly.

You are a harsh mistress, Edinburgh. You cause me physical, emotional and financial pain. But I bloody love you. I will be back in 2014 and have ideas for shows already.


Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 21

It turns out that our penultimate Fear and Loathing show actually took place on the previous day, as what would have been our penultimate show yesterday had to be pulled.

I noticed when I began flyering that it seemed to be worryingly quiet for a Friday, which is normally one of the busiest days of the week. In theory, the last Friday of the Fringe should be particularly busy.

But when we were due to start our show, we had three people in for audience. This would normally be no problem and I would do it, but as both our energy levels are particularly low, it would not have been an enjoyable experience for any involved.

I tried in vain to convinced passersby to come in and boost numbers, delaying the start of the show by ten minutes, but it was to no avail. For me, a pulled Fringe show hurts more than dying on stage. At least with dying on stage, you can learn something from the experience. When you pull a show at the Fringe, nothing positive is gained.

Thank you to Billy for being one of our three audience at the show that never was; he discovered this blog after attending one of the slightly less dreadful A Mixed Bags in 2011.

Although this has been a tough Edinburgh, my biscuit consumption would suggest that it has been bearable. As a rule, the worse things are going, the more biscuits I eat. It was not until yesterday’s show was pulled that I felt the biscuit urge. Then I listened to some Queen songs. Biscuits and Queen make everything better.


Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 20

In 48 hours, my run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013 will be at an end. Not that I’m counting down the hours or anything.

Well, I quite obviously am. In 48 hours, I am going to be extremely relieved that perhaps my toughest Fringe so far is at an end. But until that time, I have work to do.

We managed to get another decent crowd in for yesterday’s show, with 12 actual people and no Deech in sight. They were friendly and happy to be engaged with. There were three rather tipsy women swaying about a bit in the middle of the room and one of them did become distracted with astonishment at remembering she had hands.

The bucket collection was also good, with about £20. It might have been our largest collection so far, but I cannot confirm this as I have not been keeping track.

Last night, I went to watch two shows by Brendon Burns. The first one was his hour-long show, which I highly recommend but can’t go into detail about as I am bound by confidentiality. This has nothing to do with me feeling lazy and not wanting to write more.

The second show was about an hour and a half later. It was Brendon providing commentary on bad wrestling matches with the pro-wrestler Colt Cabana. Professional wrestling will always have a place in my heart and it was the most I have laughed at any show this year, and possibly. Some of the clips were utterly ridiculous. It is a different show every night and I might be going along tonight as well.


Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 18 and 19

I was all set to denounce Bob Geldof for being wrong in his dislike of Mondays, when it should be Wednesdays that should be held with such contempt, at least during the Edinburgh Fringe.

Wednesday has been the most difficult day of the Fringe this year, positioned in the frustrating limbo between the two long weekends. No-one includes Wednesday as part of their long weekend; and if they do, then they are surely insane.

After having two quiet Wednesdays, with one show finishing with an audience of two and the other not going ahead at all, the Fringe surprises me yet again and we had our largest audience on this particular day of the week with 12 entire people. Okay, there were 11 entire people and one Deech. He doesn’t count as an entire person unless I’m clutching at straws for audience figures, and I have been doing that during this Edinburgh. In fact, to make the room seem fuller this year, I have been placing drinking straws on seats.

They were a friendly crowd, but it was quite hard work getting them all laughing together. Not everyone understood all the pop culture references as they were not from the UK, but we got through it.

I started the day being very excited for my show partner Simon Lilley, who I had been told by Deech was on the list of the Telegraph’s top 13 jokes of the Fringe. I quickly skim-read the story, then went down to the voting bit at the bottom and attempted to rig the poll to help out a friend who has had a tough time this Fringe.

After sending Simon a congratulatory text, I realised that these were the least funny jokes of the Fringe. Fortunately, my three fraudulent votes did little to dent his 250+ lead and the article also misquoted his joke, the inaccurate idiots.

On the plus-side, he is cruising to victory in achieving a comedy accolade from a national newspaper, which is something that Paul Langton has never done.

The moral of this story is to never help anyone, ever; at least when it comes to attempting to rig an online poll before you have properly read the article.

You know you have been at the Fringe too long when you forget what day it is and what you have been doing on the previous day. After writing this entry, I realised that I didn’t actually write one yesterday. We had a good show on Tuesday with a double-figure audience. I’m afraid that is all I am going to say about it now and you’ll just have to deal with it.

  • Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing is on at 6pm from Saturday August 3 to Saturday August 24. At Kilderkin, 65 Canongate, EH8 8BT. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe, which means it’s free.

Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 16 and 17

On Sunday, Simon had another day off, so my plan was to draft in two replacements who would then flyer outside the venue for an hour before the show.

Unfortunately, comedians being comedians and Edinburgh being Edinburgh, the flaw in my plan was exposed when both Michael Mooney and Ian Lane were held up by half an hour. So their respective times for flyering were halved.

It was unusually quiet everywhere on Sunday, which is usually a day of the week you would expect to do well on. We managed to persuade five people into coming in for the show, with two stating before entering the room that they had tickets booked for another show that was starting at 6.45pm and would need to leave halfway through, so we were left with three after the first act.

It was quite a relaxed show and was not as awkward or uncomfortable for anyone in the room as it perhaps should have been.

Then yesterday, an old comedy partner (37-years-old, to be exact) filled in. It was of course Paul Langton, I don’t have any other comedy partners in that age bracket. In fact, I only have one person who could be considered a former comedy partner and he is the same age as me. Hello Ed.

We both put in an hour flyering on the Royal Mile, which resulted in no-one attended. We managed to get nine people in and they were mostly all dragged in off the street.

It was a good show and they were a good group of nine people. Paul was the most relaxed on stage I have seen him for some time and it was nice to see him do well in a venue that he was patchy in last year’s run.

The entity known as Love and Langton never really split up. In fact, we already have plans for next year.

This could also be one of our plans:


Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 15

The end is in sight. In a week’s time, my 2013 run at the Fringe will have finished.

It has been a hard slog so far in terms of promoting and performing to varying levels of audience, but that is what can be expected at the Fringe. There will be more time to reflect on it all in a week’s time. In the meantime, I am determined for the last few shows to be successful.

We managed to get the room about half-full again yesterday. I have worked out a better flyering strategy of standing nearer the venue, instead of eight minutes walk up the hill. It seems obvious, but flyering up the hill worked well last year because there were very few people walking past the venue from about 9pm onwards. But after having spent two hours flyering in the Royal Mile this year and only getting in an average of two people as a result, promoting the show nearer the venue has proved more successful.

We had a decent show yesterday, getting the room about half-full. They were a friendly crowd, but didn’t give their laughter away and we had to work hard for it. It was a much nicer gig than Friday’s with the John incident.

Langton is now up at the Fringe and I have missed having him around, mainly to laugh at when things are going badly.

In other news, the march of the Scottish Defence League through Edinburgh yesterday did very little to disrupt my show. Thankfully, they also didn’t hang around to watch it.

  • Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing is on at 6pm from Saturday August 3 to Saturday August 24. At Kilderkin, 65 Canongate, EH8 8BT. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe, which means it’s free.

Edinburgh Fringe – Day 13 and 14

Yesterday’s show wasn’t one of my best. As soon as it began, a very vocal heckler called John began interrupting things and treating the gig as a conversation, talking over setups to kill the momentum of punchlines.

He wasn’t being malicious, he was just being very annoying and his contributions added no comedic value. Hecklers are fine when you can bounce off them, but when one is trying to be the alpha male in the room and has a total lack of self-awareness, it becomes a vacuum.  When I asked John if he was going to behave himself, he said that he would. Then he mimed zipping up his mouth and locking it. It can’t have been a very effective zip and lock combination, because it only worked for a few seconds before he started interrupting again.

It was hard to set the tone for the gig before I introduced Simon.  John made the whole crowd recoil in awkwardness. When I drew attention to the tension, John protested that it was all part of the Fringe experience. I said he didn’t have to stay and a few other audience members piped up and said John should leave. I said if John wouldn’t behave himself, we’d have an audience vote and he would be thrown out if a majority agreed on it. John accepted this. I then introduced Simon, who immediately put John’s presence in the room to an audience poll and John then willingly left.

Neither of us did particularly well, but didn’t totally die. It’s no coincidence that the biggest laughs were from people who came in after John had left. We started the gig on the back foot and the audience were never able to relax. I could have handled it better, but will try and learn from it.

The previous day’s show was much better. We had seven people in but they were very friendly and their contributions added to the show instead of derailing it.

Today’s show has the potential to be just as awkward and eventful as yesterday’s. The Scottish Defence League will be marching down past our venue to the parliament buildings, where they will be met by a counter march from anti-fascist protesters. There will be 600 police present to control things, but I am expecting things to get confrontational. It should all be over before I need to be down there, but there is definitely the potential for trouble.

  • Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing is on at 6pm from Saturday August 3 to Saturday August 24. At Kilderkin, 65 Canongate, EH8 8BT. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe, which means it’s free.

Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 12

I knew it was a mistake not to find some wood to touch when I was writing in my last entry about how we have yet to pull a show, because yesterday’s show did not go ahead.

Whether or not touching wood would have made any difference to people showing up, I don’t know. I didn’t get any anyone I flyered asking me about this.

But after waiting for ten minutes in the vain hope that a handful of people would walk in, our total audience stood at zero.

In the three full-run Fringe shows I have done, this was the first that I have ever had to pull. Admittedly, I do kind of wish that some of the more painful shows in these three runs had been pulled. I also pulled one of the six-day run in my show with Gwilum last year due to the same level of audience.

When you have spent a bit of time flyering on the Fringe, it doesn’t take long to know when things are going to be quiet. Although I am frequently proved wrong when I try and predict how the Fringe is going to behave, sometimes I am right and yesterday was one of such days.

Wednesday’s are now my least favourite day on the Fringe. The majority of punters come up for long weekends, and Wednesday doesn’t fit into one.

I will be spending more time flyering today. Things should pick up as it is nearing the weekend.

We have now passed the midway point in the Fringe, and there is still much more fun and pain to be had in varying measures.

  • Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing is on at 6pm from Saturday August 3 to Saturday August 24. At Kilderkin, 65 Canongate, EH8 8BT. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe, which means it’s free.

Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 11

After three days of consistent audience levels and a room half full (as opposed to half empty), there was a relapse yesterday.

Scott was filling in for Simon again. We started off with nine people, but the group of four Italian people left shortly after the show started due to a misunderstanding. They thought the show would only last ten minutes, instead of one hour.

We were left with five people plus my flatmate Deech, who came in after the Italians left. It was never going to be the greatest gig. They were a friendly audience, which included a German couple who pushed through the slight language barrier, but it was hard to really get into a rhythm. Although there were laughs, it felt more like a spoken word event than a comedy one at times.

But for five people, we did very well in the bucket collection at the end. Alison, who was interacted with the most, put in £10. I could interpret this as being out of pity, but it feels better to delude myself and believe it was out of genuine enjoyment.

As each day of the Fringe passes, it is becomes more apparent that although Fear and Loathing is a solid theme for a show, it is not as strong as Dirty Laundry. For the location of the venue, the theme needs to be strong enough to make people want to walk off the beaten track. But I am mostly pleased with this year’s show; most of the people who have seen it have enjoyed themselves and out of sheer belligerence, we have managed to get to the halfway point without pulling a show.

I am already thinking ahead about themes and ideas for next year’s Fringe.

In other Fringe news, I went to see The Wrestling II last night. This is an event that features comedians wrestling against professional wrestlers. It is two worlds that crossover perfectly. Both are scripted to a large extent and success is measured from audience reaction. Admittedly, comedy is not quite so physically demanding and I am grateful for that. I did actually give some serious consideration into becoming a wrestler when I was in my teens.

I missed out on seeing the first The Wrestling in Edinburgh 2011, when no-one knew how or if it would work. Last night, there was more than an air of knowing that it would be a success, so I imagine that it didn’t feel as fresh as two years ago. I also have to seriously question the intricate wrestling knowledge of most of those who attended.

I would say the star of the show was Matthew Crosby, who put together some very funny backstage interviews and then donned the tights in our moment of need and entered the ring, reminiscent of Spike Dudley circa 2001.

I did enjoy the spectacle and I have to give some serious kudos to Thom Thuck for nailing a Fisherman Suplex. And Max from Max and Ivan also deserves a mention for his perfect Huricanrana. Max used to be a wrestler, so loses some points for being able to do the move anyway. But then he regains points for helping organise the event.

The audience was mostly full of the ‘cool’ festival people and although I felt slightly out of place in my Layeth the Smacketh Down t-shirt, I felt superior for having a greater wrestling knowledge. So all those years I spent watching wrestling weren’t a total waste of time.

  • Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing is on at 6pm from Saturday August 3 to Saturday August 24. At Kilderkin, 65 Canongate, EH8 8BT. Venue 227. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe, which means it’s free.

Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Day 10

Here we are, the days have now evened out and I am now writing entries on consecutive days. I am aware that you also know of this and this isn’t the snappiest intro. I have the power and ability to change this, but am choosing not to. You’ll just have to deal with it.

At yesterday’s show, we managed to keep the numbers consistent with the weekend. This is no mean feat for a Monday. The beauty of the Kilderkin room is that it doesn’t take many for it to feel full, with 15 people proving more than sufficient.

I should add that the ‘we’ I refer to above is not Simon, as he has two days off. I have drafted in Scott Merrington as cover, who has experience in promoting and performing at the venue.

We had a very friendly audience, but there was a very drunk, middle-aged Scottish man sitting at the front who was there with his son and daughter. I had a feeling that he would be a diversion from the loud and vocal way he welcomed the start of the show.

He was friendly but persistent and difficult to understand. Scott dealt with him very well, but it made it difficult to establish much pace or build momentum because of the heckler’s interruptions.

Thankfully, the heckler left just it was my time to go on stage. Although the masochistic part of my comedy makeup would have liked the challenge.

There wasn’t much energy in the room, but the audience were very smiley. Things that normally get big laughs received titters, and things that normally receive titters fell flat. It wasn’t my best gig of the run, but wasn’t a death.

Despite the lack of a success I considered the gig to be, we still made £19 in our collection bucket at the end. Although about £10 was from the embarrassed children of their drunken father.

  • Love and Lilley: Fear and Loathing is on at 6pm from Saturday August 3 to Saturday August 24. At Kilderkin, 65 Canongate, EH8 8BT. Venue 227. It is part of the PBH Free Fringe, which means it’s free.