Friday, August 30, 2013


So, here's my post Edinburgh revelation:

Comedy is subjective. Sometimes you're good, sometimes you're very good and sometimes you're average verging on bad. Sometimes you are all those things in one night. It couldn't matter less.

With that in mind, I've been thinking of some ways to make sure I get the audience that is most likely to enjoy what I've got to say. Or, if it's an audience of strangers (as most are) then I need to be able to mould them to my way of thinking.

I've decided a good way to do this is to reveal snacks that go well with my comedy in the same way a wine expert might recommend a good grape for a meal.

For example, snacks that will go well with my comedy:

Cashew nuts,
Brie and Bacon sandwiches,
Any form of biscuit except ginger biscuits and party rings. (This is nothing against party rings, I just feel that if you're at a party ring level of wigging out then you might want a more shouty comedian.)
Marinated anchovies,
Scrambled egg and smoked salmon on crackers (at a gig with tables, otherwise you're going to have eggy/fishy knees by the time I get to the B.O.B. bit.)
Green apples (pre cored but still apple shaped, not slices.)

I can also recommend snacks for specific set lengths so that they don't bleed into the next act (they may have their own pre approved snacks and I don't want to be pushy)...

My tight 5 - Cherries and/or Gruyere and Poppy Seed Twisty sticks. (Fresh, and yet classy and satisfying).
My solid 10 - Crackers with cream cheese and smoked bacon bits followed by chocolate mousse with popping candy. (Good variety, nice and childish and you'll want more).
My club 20 - Pop corn chicken, a plate of nachos, angel delight and lots of Tangfastic Haribo. (It's got a nice retro feel to what's essentially quite mainstream, but there's a nod to other cultures and it'll make your teeth feel furry in places).
New material: Some broccoli. brown bread and a bottle of water (someone needs to have a good grip on reality).

I would always recommend a cup of tea with my act, and if you want a glass of white wine or a pint of cider (not pear, thank you) as well as the tea then you be my guest. However, if you're having sugar in that tea you'll want to be in the front row because we've got stuff to iron out.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beep Beep Boo Hoo

I think I'm tired and run down, how can I tell? The microwave and I just had the following conversation:

Me: I'm tired of making excuses for you.
Microwave: *Silent accusatory stares*
Me: I'm sorry that was really mean. I'm just tired and run down.

My saving grace throughout the Edinburgh Fringe this year has been the amount of Televsion I've been watching in between shows to calm down. It's a saving grace that whilst you're running around wildly trying to work out what's funny and how to do it, you can occasionally see an advert for Phone Shop and see that comedy is totally subjective and success can come for anything.

Literally anything.

I've got a cold... it feels like all my bodily fluids are trying to escape through my nose via some serious internal bruising through my sinuses. My legs are heavy, heavy like Catholic guilt, and it's not just from all from the Minstrels I've ingested over the last 6 hours. There were a few Twixs in there too. How do you correctly pluralise Twix? Should there have been an 'e' added?

Maybe you can't do it, maybe that's the problem?

 Maybe you're never supposed to have more than one Twix.

I don't know any more and neither does the microwave. He's just sitting smugly in the corner like the fastidious prick he's turned out to be. His insides are full of cheese and he smells like burned food but I'll be damned if I'm going to clean him out.

What am I, his mother? No. He doesn't have a mother. Because he's just a microwave.

If you microwave a Twix for a few seconds it's delicious - the caramel goes all melty and chewy and I like it. My friend Jenna and I used to do it when we were little. We'd have been littler if we didn't like eating a Twix each so often. See how awkward that sentence became because I don't know how to pluralise Twix? That's the problem with comedy Twix chocolate bars. They're irritating bastards that no one has written down hard and fast rules for.

I'm not saying I blame the microwave, but I'm certainly not going to let it get me down any more. If he doesn't want to play ball then why should I go begging at his partly see through door? Either you're transparent or you're opaque, microwave! Why do you have to be both? Who are you helping? Not me, that's for sure. I'm sick of you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sometimes I Wipe My Snot in the Carpet and other Awkward Subjects

I've been in Edinburgh for a fortnight. I'm 39 gigs in and feeling on top of the world. There've been some good ones and some stormingly terrible ones where the best I could do was to hope no one in the audience was crayoning a review that would eat into my self esteem for the next 6 months.

I think, as a comic, a certain level of self awareness is the mightiest weapon you can have. You need to know whether you're good overall, whether you're good on a certain night, whether you're good with the front row you're chatting to, and whether you're good telling "that" joke and remaining morally sound.

In my opinion Edinburgh ever so slightly throws a lot of that self awareness into disarray, because people get very worked up over reviews. Myself included. Despite only caring about the opinion of about 4 reviewers out there, I am still lapping up the writing of every 19 year old given a Press Pass and a free ticket and sent to review the work of someone who's been on stages for longer than the reviewer (or myself) have been alive. It's a difficult time when the reaction of an entire audience of paying people is often seen as less valid than a solitary pen on paper. I've read too many negative reviews that seem to have nothing but bad to say about the show and then casually remark, "of course, the audience were loving it - heaven knows why." Perhaps because this comic knows their own audience and knows how to play to them? Because, it's sort of what they're professionally trained to do?

Anyway, that's enough of that. I don't want this blog post to be about reviews. Because, personally, I find Edinburgh slightly harder than previously because I am constantly comparing how I am getting on to other comics. More specifically, one other comic... the one I share my bed with.

No, I'm not just so hard up that I'm sleeping in a comedian commune (although I have done in the past), I am in a relationship with a fellow comic.

I find this a tough subject because I am so mixed up in my own head about why I behave the way I do with regard to our respective careers. I am a pathologically obsessive person, I'm highly strung, nervous and have a tendency towards despair. My boyfriend is perfect for me, because... well he hasn't left yet.

He (let's call my boyfriend Alan for the purposes of this blog because a) I like the name Alan and b) it's always been my brother's first choice of name for a dog which I find hilarious) is a much more successful comic than I am and this poses a number of problems for me because anything I achieve he has already done and better.

If I've managed to get on a particularly good showcase show up at the Fringe this month, he's done it once a week and kind of bored of it. If I've been asked to write a little thing about myself for then he's being filmed for a TV piece for Somebody's Heard of You Sky TV Channel 936. If I'm writing what might turn out to be a drossy piece about an insecure comedian who wishes she was better, he's probably not. In fact he's definitely not. He's in the kitchen laughing with his friends about how flappy wafer thin ham is.

Please don't get me wrong and think I'm not insanely proud and respectful of him. I wouldn't want to take anything away from the success he's on his way to. It's just that I find it hard to hold our careers in totally separate comparison panels. Whilst I know this is wrong and I should never compare my creative achievements to anyone else's for fear of tainting what makes things good about my work, it's so SO hard not to feel downcast when you're the dull star in your own fairy tale.

It's largely how I know I could also never be a successful lesbian. It's hard enough living with the knowledge that my right breast is never going to live up to the precedent set by my left breast... let alone having two whole (you'd hope) other breasts in the situation to have to compete with. Sex is alright when there's a boy there because you're the only one supposed to be doing the girl moves - I can only imagine me hooking up with a girl is going to lead to increasingly more complicated efforts to be the best sexer until I'm dressed a bird of paradise, dancing on one leg and presenting her with a series of tin foil Karma Sutra mouldings.

I have no idea if it's the same for all careers (we're off lesbians now, by the way - in my limited understanding of lesbianism I believe it is the same whatever career path you choose. I've certainly not come across descriptions of corporate vs self employed lesbianism). Whether two lawyers in the same house compete over who's represented the biggest tosspot:

"See you later darling, I'm off to make sure Vodafone are squeaky clean for the 31st Jan."

In some careers you might even think it was quite cute. I can't imagine a lady baker being able to muster too much fury when she's still on pain au chocolat and he's whipping up an olive focaccia.

It's certainly not uncommon for comics to pair up - there are a surprising number of comic couples out there. In a lot of ways the similar lifestyle and sharing your downtime with someone who understands your compulsions is incredibly satisfying. We're like addicts. It's hard to explain the buzz and the highs and the lows and the process to someone who finds it all a bit baffling and alien.

But back to the competitive element...

I think when you're trying to get somewhere in comedy, or acting, it can feel like everybody who achieves something who isn't you has used up one of the "success spaces" and has therefore made it that little bit harder for you to go anywhere. It's an absolutely horrible thing to admit but every time a sparky, young, female comedian achieves something newsworthy a little part of me feels petrified that she's just called dibs on all the work out there for comedians in our category. It's horrible, but that's the way it is and I'm sure I'm not alone in having those deep down feelings. It's not quite enough to just be repeatedly good at what you do in dark rooms across the country, if you're going to earn a sustainable living you need a little bit of a boost to get you going. The right award, agent, USP or press piece about why you're a quirky crowd pleaser who's broken the mold.

I've certainly in the past been turned down for a gig because they "already have a woman on that night" and I know of a comic who lost out on a representation deal because he bears a passing resemblance to another comedian.

Competition for work is fierce.

But when that competition is also your solace when you crawl into bed at night. What then? Well, thankfully Alan isn't a sparky, young, female comedian so I at least don't have that to worry about. He's also downright supportive, patient and an excellent person to bounce material off when I'm working on new bits. The hardest nights are when he's away gigging for a week at a time and I'm not so not only am I dealing with the fact that I'm not as in demand as I'd like to be, I'm also alone and dealing with fact that the love of my life is living my dream.

On nights like these I find an evening of too much mascara and weeping into the bath so that I can make tie dye patterns on my flannel are an effective outlet for bottled up emotion. Crying is excellent and I pity anyone who doesn't do it at least once a week just to let loose. I can now cry at anything from a lonely person on a train to a particularly well directed SMA advert.

All in all, competition is what brings out the best and worst in comedians and people (totally separate species). The entire Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Award Newcomer Festival Sponsored by Chequed Shirts and Bitter Lagery Tears is fuelled by competition and it produces magnificence. The quality of the shows on offer is testament to the peacockery and desire to have people love you and want more of you. Without it we'd all just make our own friends laugh and leave yours alone. But spare a thought when you're cackling at one star reviews and contemplating walking out of a Free Fringe Show 3 minutes before the end so you don't have to put your measly £1.50 in the bucket for that hours entertainment you enjoyed... you could have just come to see my show and not dealt with either of those eventualities.

Or something more poignant. Fuck it who cares.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Quick Sit & Think

I've been up at the Edinburgh Fringe for about 10 days now... I've done 26 gigs myself, seen 8 shows and cried at that infuriatingly comforting SMA advert on several occasions despite not having any children of my own.

Seems like a good time for a few reflections.

1. It doesn't matter how much of a good time I'm ever having, I am looking forward to Christmas.

2. The number of gigs you can do in a day up here at the Fringe is mind blowing - I have developed more new material in the last week than in the last 8 months combined. It's been a tough year getting gigs on the circuit and to suddenly be inundated with opportunities is the best thing you could ask for.

3. I love bacon and any meal that includes bacon. Some days I need bacon and those days are best started with bacon.

My aims for this trip up here were:

1. To gig as much as possible to really polish my act for the rest of the year.
2. To try and get to know other comics a bit better - it's the part I find most awkward and feel like such a nob.
3. To be more forthright in getting into showcase shows and contacting promoters.
4. To decrease my dependancy on bacon.

I'd say thus far that 3 out of 4 of them are going pretty well.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How To Not Particularly Do the Fringe

It's Day 2 of the Fringe, which is also concurrently Day -1 of the Fringe because technically it's Day 2 of previews for the Fringe which starts tomorrow (and yesterday).

I got here via a festival in Kent and a gig in Somerset so I've only brought 3 dresses and a toothbrush which are all looking forlornly out of the window and wishing I was better at forward planning.

WHERE ARE THE COATS? Scream the dresses. Whilst the toothbrush tangos to silent music.

The "Quiet" carriage I'd booked was a bloody sham. Two families with children younger than 3 in them? That's not a quiet coach in my opinion. Next year I'm booking a seat in the Perverts and Aids coach.

"This seat is free! Hey, no seriously, your kid can sit here. I have a clean bill of health... Where are you going?"

So far it's gone well. And I mean that entirely by my own standards... there was an AMAZING party last night for the Caves launch which I didn't go to because it was raining and I wanted some tea. So, that was a good night. I heard everyone who went had a great time and everyone in my room (me) was pleased with the itinerary at our place too.

It's quite hard to get the balance right up here - trying to be sociable but also not killing yourself in the process. What with having a show at 11pm and 12 noon it's not going to be that easy to have a reckless all nighter without threatening vomit at the poor lunchtime audience who've been assured I'm up and coming. Up and going where? To bed probably. I like it there.