Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Were You Thinking?

It's safe to say I'm not having the best month of my career. Spoiler alert for those not involved in the comedy industry: it's not in the best shape it's ever been in from what I can work out. Work is scarce for excellent acts, let alone ones like me who are still carving out their reputation. I am signed up to about 5 or 6 different forums for comedians and promoters to advertise and apply for work from. I rarely get involved but I interestedly watch the comings, goings and moanings of people with things to say. There are far more moanings than comings or goings.

If the average interested but distanced comedy fan spent some time browsing these forums I think they'd get a horrendously inaccurate impression that we're all lying bastards when we're on stage.

"My mate said to me the other day..."


"I was gigging overseas last week..."


"This next act is a great friend of mine..."


I've tried to make a point of only commenting on these places when I have work to offer, and even that is quite a minefield. I once posted the following:

"Comedian needed for fundraiser gig in Brighton. No money so please only apply if you're in town anyway and can double up doing new material or something here. No progression to better gigs; not worth it unless you just want some small gig stage time for whatever reason."

Someone asked what the cause was, I told them it was a theatre group raising funds to go to Edinburgh. I got called manipulative for making out like it was a charity or a good cause in some way by a comic who didn't think my reasons for putting on a fund raiser were good enough. Fair enough; I won't book him and somehow the gig was still a success.

The truth of it is that for every gig that gets posted somewhere, or emailed out to a list of comedians, at least 100 people that apply for it won't get it. I post gigs for the small shows I run in Shoreham and Taunton and I am absolutely overwhelmed with responses and spoilt for choice. I generally only book people I've worked with before and I suspect most bookers are the same.

I have a fairly good reputation I would say; there's only one promoter who won't book me because I'm unreliable. He decided this after he sent out confirmation of my open spot for him about 24 hours before the gig and I'd rather stupidly double booked myself with paid work. I had to tell him I couldn't make it and I received a furious email back telling me that was the last time he would book me. Personally, I know it was my fault but I think it was unfair for two reasons:

1) If you need more notice than that, send your confirmations earlier than that. A confirmation request is an indication that you're expecting one of two answers; be prepared for the one you don't want.
2) The promoter in question was someone I'd done about 6 open spots for. At least 2 of these gigs had been cancelled after I'd turned up to the gig because 0 audience members turned up. In many ways, I should have been the one to break up with him.

So, back to the beginning; why does this month suck? Well, last night I was on my way to Derby for a gig - that's not the reason it sucks, I'm sure Derby is lovely before you all start revolting over an assumed slight - I wouldn't know if Derby is nice... I never made it there. I was a generous 30-40 seconds away from being involved in a fatal car crash about 6 cars ahead of me on the M1. I'm not trying to be over dramatic (although I may well be achieving it anyway), but I had 3 hours to sit in my car at the crash site and think about things like that.

I pulled to an emergency stop just in front of a Carlsberg lorry that was now stretched across 3 lanes with kegs rolling out into the road. I sat still in my car. Other people got out and ran towards the scene. I didn't; I didn't think I could help. After only a couple of minutes emergency vehicles arrived - amazing. I stayed in my car. Lots of men from the cars around me were up at the scene watching. I didn't want to watch.

After about 20 minutes a man came back to the car in front of me. I got out and asked him if he had any information.

"Get comfortable in your car, love, we'll be here a few hours."

"Is anyone hurt?"

"Someone's dead. Not sure about the others."

I got back in my car; I didn't think I could help. I didn't want to watch.

I'm extremely sensitive. My fiance, let's call him Alan, told me on Monday that he thinks I might have the emotions of some other creature. He said, "You don't get human sad; you get some kind of goblin super sad. Like you have human sad and then you have a whole extra sadness. I've never seen a real person have a bottom lip stick out like yours does when you get teary."

Being in that proximity to someone dead and someone having physically died seconds away was quite overwhelming in a cold car on my own in the dark for 3 hours. I am a sheltered, pampered, 1st world idiot and things like that make me maudlin. I don't have much survival instinct; if you lined up 8 people and said "someone has to die" my hand would be first in the air. Not because I am heroic or brave, but because I would find that easier to deal with than the brain aftermath of someone dying for me. (There's nothing special about 8 people, by the way; I'm not saying if it was 9 I'd be like, "Nah, not today; get that fucker on the end. He looks like a prick.")

I sat and worried about the nightmares that the sheer volume of blue flashing lights were going to induce. The sound of the saw on the central reservation as they tried to cut through it was chilling through the foggy gloom and I was nervous that this was going to bother me unduly in my sleep. Then it occurred to me that at least I would be going to sleep; someone wasn't going home that night. Someone was never going to dream again and their newly bereaved families would be having far worse nightmares than mine.

Having previously been on my way to a gig, I had people to call and cancellations to make when it transpired we were going to be stuck there far longer than predicted initially. I was in an odd situation because one of the other comedians was perhaps 500 yards behind me in their own car so we were in communication; stuck together but apart. Th gig got cancelled and I sat there in the dark.

"Your life cost me £127.50." thought the voice that no one wants to admit to having in their brain. No matter how liberal/I don't see colour/I'd die for anyone/I recycle/who doesn't love the sea you think your brain might be, you're still capable of thoughts like that.

Because sitting there in my car I realised that I wasn't going to get paid for tonight's gig now, and that was really bad. And the longer I had to get used to the fact that if I got out of my car and walked forward a few yards I could see a corpse, the more I was worried about my £127.50. I'd already spent the fuel to get within 30 minutes of the gig in Derby, you see.

Money worries and the worsening need to urinate seem to really numb you to a situation. They say life goes on; it's not life. It's nervousness about bankruptcy and or soiling yourself.

As I said, this month hasn't been the best of my career. Because of various last minute cancellations due to low ticket sales at gigs, I have had close to £1,000 removed from diary this month with only a few days notice on most and no compensation at all.


I do not make even nearly enough money to not worry about £1,000.

The conversation or email from the promoter is always the same;

"Unfortunately I'm calling/writing to say that this Friday's/next Tuesday's/Saturday's gig is now no longer going ahead due to a dispute with the venue/low ticket sales that would leave us deeply out of pocket were we to proceed. Please could you confirm you've received this email and we'll try and get you booked back in as soon as possible."

It is considered extremely rude if you write back and tell them how far out of your own pocket you are rapidly becoming.

I'd hope that this is why my brain reminded me of my £127.50; because it was the latest in a long string of cheques I won't be receiving. Maybe I'd have thought it anyway.

Something about sitting there being so grateful to be alive made me feel vulnerable in every sense of the word. There is no protection financially and there is no protection on the roads either. I phoned Alan and told him neither of us can be comedians any more; I need us both to be in the house constantly where I can't lose him one night on the M1. I couldn't cope with that phone call. He told me I'd be cross with him within a few hours of our confinement and I'd be begging to get on the A303 and see my family. He was probably right; don't tell him.

Today I feel deflated and sad and like I want to quit comedy (I won't - sorry) and go and live in some cotton wool somewhere hot with donkeys instead of cars. The M1 is still closed while I'm writing this; I feel like if 6 donkeys and a big donkey had a row then the path would be back open in minutes. Has anyone properly researched donkeys to see if they are a viable option?

I'll punish myself quite a lot for having sat there at the scene of someone's death and thought of my own financial situation. I know I wasn't the worst, I watched a man shout at a Highways Agency Officer beside my car when she asked him not to film the emergency services attempting to reach people in the vehicles.

"Why?" he said.
"Do I really have to answer that?" she said.

He carried on filming.

I stayed in my car; I didn't think I could help.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chicken Nugget

From my cosy overpriced flat in Brighton I can see a main road. My living room overlooks the road and so when I say I'm writing, what I frequently mean is I'm sat staring out of the window at passers by on the main road. My dreams vary from simple ones where my boyfriend, let's call him Alan, comes home with a winning lottery ticket or a commissioned TV series to far more complicated ones where a helicopter lands and out jumps a publishing company and the owners of a curiously well funded Indie film company. They've found my blog online and like my excerpts for As We Know It and they just have to be able to make it - especially if I agree to maintain complete creative control and star in it too.

"Quick!" They say, "You must finish it... NOW!" And, spurred on by their enthusiasm I finish the book there and then while they feed me mackerel pate on excellent little biscuits. Alan comes home to find me already on the phone to Graham Norton - I'm going on the show this weekend! We do some furious cuddling while the publishing company proof read my flawless grammar in the next room.

Ah, what a dream. If only I were actually writing instead of gazing out of the window there's no reason that dream couldn't morph into a vaguely similar reality.

My little hobbit hole of a residence is in a lovely area where we have many local shops and community centres. It's the sort of place you move to when you've got the time and energy to believe in society again. Or, at least one of you has; one of you probably works in London to afford the time and energy the other one is spending.

Around the corner, just down the hill and slightly to the right there is a community centre that does sport classes and children's dance lessons. I've never been in there but I like the eclectic mix of offers on the hand written posters in the window. If I had children it would be exactly the sort of place I could take them. As children they would hate it: "Why can't we just watch TV instead? I hate ballet." but as young adults they will feel differently, instead of despising the fact that they have to go they will realise they have a choice and feel guilty instead that they choose not to keep it up. But at least it won't be my fault.

One of my favourite things to witness from my porthole into Brighton's events, is the 30-40 minutes before the Samurai class begins. Yes, you heard me right. If you have enough money in the residential parts of Brighton you can pay for your child to become a Samurai... and it only seems to take about 60 minutes a week of their time. I sit in my chair by the window and I watch all the little would-be Ninjas traipsing down the hill in their black pyjamas with a red belt. At first I thought they were having some sort of regular karate or judo lesson (excuse my ignorance in this subject - I do not know the difference) but then I walked past the little building and noticed that it has a new poster up in the window.


Curse my barren loins that there is no child in my life I can enrol to become a Samurai. I will have to satisfy myself with watching other parents taking their little darlings past my house and down to the classes. I like the mix of children that attend... they are mainly boys but there are a few girls. There are the tall, wiry girls with already terrible hair that you know will struggle for another few years and really only come into their own when they discover hockey and the fact they can drink as much as a man. There is one particular sweet looking little girl whose mother dresses like a barbie herself, and I like to imagine that this Samurai class is the little girls very first act of rebellion against following in her 6 inch heeled footsteps.

There are a few boys that head down the hill together, already practising last week's moves on each other and imaginary foes. They are excited - proud of their pyjamas and pretty sure every week that this will be the week they finally kill someone.

Then there is my favourite little boy. He is a fat little boy who trudges behind his mum and dad, already crying and trying to move his feet slowly enough that he will miss the lesson. Sometimes Mum is carrying him to scupper his plan, sometimes Dad is. Sometimes he's not crying... sometimes he's playing an excellent little game in his mind to distract himself, it seems, from the horrors that lie ahead. I guess that Mum and Dad both take him to the lesson so that he feels better about it, but maybe they drop him off there and go and have time to themselves? I don't know.

He really is a fat little boy. His Mum and Dad are not fat. He is only fat in the way that a young child is... He doesn't look ill and it doesn't look like the fat will last. But he is fat.

I am impressed with his parents for making him go to Samurai classes; for not just plonking him in front of a TV and assuming their job is done because he's eating and the electricity is paid for to power the learning box. It is good that they get him exercise, it makes me not judge them that their boy is tubby. Maybe he's just tubby.

On the other hand... I hate them for making him go.

"Let him be fat and happy!" I sometimes think, when my brain is feeling sorry for me and projecting onto people walking past, "Dear god it is never going to come in handy for this child to be a Samurai. If there was ever a time in history when it was ok for this little boy to wallow in his flesh and be jubilantly ignorant to the ways of the Samurai then it is now! He will get a marvellous job doing computer coding because he never wanted to leave his computer and he will earn more than all the joggers currently lapping Hove Park put together. He doesn't want to be a Samurai... he wants to be a happy lazy fat boy. Let him be!"

Sometimes I day dream well for him. Sometimes I imagine that his walk there is actually awful because he hates cars and he is delighted when he steps inside the sanctuary of the Samurai centre. Sometimes I think he is probably a master of Kung Fu (is that what Samurais do?) and only wears a tiny fat suit to help him train harder and so that he doesn't embarrass the other children at his class. He's really down to earth like that. Sometimes I think he is probably crying because he doesn't like being saddled with all the wisdom of a Samurai at the tender age of... what is he? Maybe 6? What 6 year old is comfortable knowing they have the knowledge and the physical capacity to kill both their parents if the need arises?

Sometimes I daydream badly for him and I'm plummeted into despair. I daydream of the day he finally stands up to the bullies who tease him for his size. He remembers that he is, after all, a Samurai and therefore doesn't need to take this mockery. So he begins to fight. They laugh at him and punch him. He is no match. He falls over. He is not a Samurai.

I daydream that one day I will rescue him. As his daps carry him past my house, beyond the window's gaze in Brighton that day, I will dash out onto the steps.

"Wait!" I'll call after his parents, "Stop that Samurai!"

They turn, confused, wondering if I mean them.

"I mean you!" I call, dashing down my front steps and after them. "Wait!"

They look me up and down, slowly recognising me from my head shots and from the front page of last week's Brighton Argus.

"You're Laura Lexx," they say in disbelief, "That local author who has just signed a multi billion pound deal to have her book published and put in every hotel room instead of the bible. The one who has the film deal too where Sandra Bullock and Dawn French have agreed to work for free because the script is so good? My goodness. What do you want with us?"

"I need your little boy." I say, a little out of breath because I haven't got the most out of the free gym membership I received when they made me honorary Mayoress of every town I wanted to be Mayoress of.

"You can have him..." they say quickly, "Anything you need. We'll pack him a suitcase tonight. Obviously we'll miss him because we love him dearly but we're sure you can give him a better life than we can."

"No, no, no!" I say, laughing and shaking my head. "I need him to be in the film."

"But there isn't a little boy in As We Know It?" the parents say, confused. "We have already read it four times."

"It was only published this morning?" I say.

"We know." They reply, "But we burned all our existing books and cancelled our broadband connection because it's really all we need. There is definitely no little boy in it."

"Ah," I say, kneeling down so my face is the same height as the fat little Samurai's. "But you haven't read the film script. And in the film script there is a little boy. A little boy who looks just like this. Because I wrote in a little boy, just so you could have a part. Because I think you are so special."

The little boy looks at me, hope and a desperate fear of believing too hard in his eyes.

"Is the little boy a Samurai?" he asks nervously, wide eyed.

"Absolutely fucking not." I say.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

You Plonker

A few months ago I decided I wanted to start writing about my heroes. It was an idea borne from seeing the way tributes pour out when a celebrity dies, and I wanted to write some things about the people I love before they are lost. Long before hopefully. My previous post was about Eddie Izzard and can be found here.

Today, I bring you David Jason.

I think my love for David Jason is increased dramatically by the fact that he shares a large physical resemblance with my own Dad. They both sort of look like loveable garden gnomes turned into the best kind of people. I think it's quite hard not to have some kind of increased affection for a stranger if they look (even just to you) like someone you really love.

I suppose Only Fools And Horses is my earliest contact with David Jason. It was the first TV show I ever cried at. The first in a line that was to grow overwhelmingly until it took in adverts, most films whatever the genre, and moving scenes I imagined while driving. Before that, I had never understood how people could cry at things on a screen... I was pretty young and I didn't understand the empathetic connection. Then I watched the episode where Granddad dies and Rodney is devastated and doesn't understand how Del Boy doesn't appear to care. I remember sitting down in between the gap in our two sofas (where I sat so I could suck my thumb without my parents seeing and asking me to stop) bawling silently at how awful it was for them.

I think the writing of Only Fools was exceptional, oh to have a script like that appear in my lap for me to attempt, and all credit there goes to John Sullivan. What a phenomenal talent for reality and people. However, that show could have easily been nothing in the hands of the wrong actors (exception being Cassandra who I never took to).

I hear a lot of people who describe The Royle Family as having been ground breaking for them because it was such an accurate portrayal of the life they knew. I never got the Royle Family, but in Only Fools I think I saw what they meant. Not that my family, in a sprawling house in rural Somerset, resembled the Trotters at all... but the way we interacted did. The constant banter, the insults and the complete inability to maintain a line of emotion for longer than strictly necessary.

The BFG was also a big hit with me... how clever, I thought, that the funny little man from Only Fools has got into a film?! Until recently (when I read his autobiography) I didn't really have any concept of the chronological order of his work, I can only write from the perspective of how and when I experienced them. I was amazed that someone from, what I thought was, a small English show could be in a film (I think I thought all films were probably American at that point).

Whizz Pop Whizz Bang was the most brilliant thing I'd ever seen and the disgusting nature of snozzcumbers cemented my long held belief that courgettes were ungodly and I was right to refuse to eat them however Mum served them to me.

In my teens I found Frost quite difficult because, it felt to me, David Jason had aged far too quickly. Why was his hair white? Why was he grumpy and old? I suppose I must have wanted him to have been playing Del Boy in a different show and I had to grow up a lot before I could appreciate Frost for what it was and what he was doing.

Wherever David Jason turns up I am delighted - I adore him in the Colour of Magic. He is a comfort - something from the deepest depths of my childhood that will never fail to make me feel at home. His face is the face of Saturday nights at home on the sofa.

I can't remember where in my David Jason timeline I discovered Open All Hours. I presume it was around the time my older sister was at college because I know she got quite heavily into Porridge at that time and so we side stepped (via a long obsession with M*A*S*H) into Open All Hours as we discovered the behemoth of comedy talent that is Ronnie Barker. However he is a subject for another blog post.

Open All Hours was so adult and charming that I didn't understand it properly for a few years. How could you fancy Nurse Emmanuel? She didn't look like the people in television that were hankered after. Why didn't Granville just get a better job and therefore a better life? These were all questions that I was too naive to answer, but I loved the slapstick that surrounded Granville and I liked that my friend of Only Fools seemed to have gone back in time and I thought it must mean I had longer with him.

I read his autobiography this year and it was a good read... I suppose it's easy to write your own life how you like but I was pleased that he wrote to me as I expected him to be. The book has a sense of earnestness... it seemed to take him such a long time to get anywhere as an actor, and seemed to be an surprising path to him as well, my impression through the book was that he was continually delighted to be working and equal parts baffled at his success and delighted that his hard work was paying off.

I had no idea about the huge back catalogue of theatre work he had done, it being totally before my time, and I think his story is a brilliant endorsement of the non X-Factor approach. Nothing drives me more nuts than people on these God awful talent shows talking about "their one chance" I think it's a poisonous concept to plant in the minds of the viewers that there could be one chance and no option of just 10, 20, 30, 40 years of hard work to get you somewhere. I want to shake those people and say, "You know David Jason? Didn't really get anywhere until his 40s. One chance my foot."

Thanks David Jason... I get the feeling from reading your book that you did it all because you liked doing it, but just so you know I enjoyed it too as you went along. If you wouldn't mind carrying on, that'd be cushty.

Friday, October 17, 2014


When someone you know and love goes into labour, the rest of your own day just has to pale into insignificance. Because, however much you achieve today, you're not going to bring another life into the world, so you are not as good as that person today.

I am terrified of childbirth, but I also like that it's still terrifying. No matter how sanitised and app based the world gets, if you want to continue life you still have to get down and dirty and push that thing out. It's a little link back through to the dark ages. When you give birth, you become a doctor for a day - you get that little person that you've kept alive and your body works out how to get it out.

I don't think I want my own children, but I am 100% ready to change my mind. I think it's one of the most frustrating things about being a woman in her 20s; when you say "I don't want children", 99% of people say... "Ah, you say that now!" Like you've pulled that decision out of your butt crack to please some late 80s version of a feminist code you were following. People assume there's no way you could have recognised that you might want to change your mind.

I'd like to want children because the idea of not having them is quite desolate and frightening. Whilst it's a big thing to do, for me, it's also a big thing not to do. I'm sort of hoping that one day I do wake up begging my body for kids because it'll fill the desire I have for the concept of children. I still don't feel like I want to do the day to day necessities of having a baby, a two year old, a six year old... etc. But I do wonder if I'll be sad not to have a 25 year old one day when I'm old and the arthritis is preventing me from writing my wisdom down here.

My boyfriend is very keen on having children. I have told him that if he can find a way to not be 6'3" with the biggest head known to man (too big to go paint balling, ladies and gents, too big to go paint balling) then I'll think of a way I can reproduce him without tearing my innards beyond recognition.

I'm hoping to have ironed out a missing chapter in my book by the end of the day, but, all going well, someone out there is going to finish up the day with a family. That is an incredible thing to achieve in a 24 hour period. Things like that are huge, enormous, stratospheric things to happen in a life but they actually just happen on days when other people are buying toilet paper or finishing a long shift at a boring job.

Your birthday is a great day for you to get a present and to say "Well done you!" for staying alive, but really that day should be a nod back to your parents who had their world paused so that they could slip you into their nest.

I'll stop now and go and have a shower before I really start turning into a slushy mess, but really, wow. Babies, eh? Get it done, Oli.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Comedian Factor

It's Saturday night, the deep voiced guy is really going for it. We've been waiting all year for this.

The final. A number of lucky winners have been hand picked from months of scrupulous searching through the tedious masses of hopefuls. Now, here we are. Here they are. The judges are lined up, their familiar faces shining out from behind the tooth glare and layers of foundation.

There's the industry mogul, famously rude and cruel but undeniably successful. No one could argue with the way his career panned out and even those without a pleasant word to say about the scowling gentleman on the end would jump at half the chance to work with him. It's Don Ward, ladies and gentlemen. As I live and breathe.

Next to him is the hugely successful vision of what each of our hopefuls are dying to become. She's beaten the odds to become the well presented face of up and coming clever, vivacious, hugely popular comedy. A hit with both men and women alike, she looks great, sounds even better and is there to offer insight as someone who's actually done it. Katherine Ryan is ready for action.

Next to Katherine we have the one with nothing to lose. He made it big in the 90s and is ready to criticise his way through the next generation with the acid tongue of someone who just couldn't give a fuck any more. Obviously, a nice boost to his own career wouldn't go amiss so there'll be an attempt to keep the crowd onside but this savvy comedian knows how to occupy the screen. Peter Kay is chomping at the bit, asides prepared and experience dripping from every pore.

Lastly, it's the industry figure that everybody knows and can't help but love in a shambolic fashion. He's been around as long as anyone can remember and is, how shall we say it, a character on the scene. He's certainly been successful, no one can argue that, but how that success has come about might evade some people's memory. A cheery, smily, comedy obsessed face reveals Martin Besserman as our final judge.

We're ready to go.

The first act is up. Belting out a string of carefully traced jokes about their shitty home town. There's an original spin to one or two of them but it looks as though's she's lost the interest of Katherine Ryan who seems to have been hoping for something more exciting. The rhythm is there, the timing is excellent - no one watching at home could argue with the professionalism of the delivery of this act.

Don is bowled over - he loves it. He knows a steady routine when he sees one and this is the sort of thing that would go down a storm at a big weekend club. He's smiling from ear to ear and this girl looks as though she might just have a future in comedy. Peter is scathing at best. He's completely unimpressed by the audacity of the act to come up armed with nothing better than jokes about being from somewhere - don't they have an original bone in their body? Not a yes from Peter.

Joel Dommett is thanking the act and sending on her on her way, relieved and exhilarated, back into the dressing room. He's introducing the next act.

This guy has clearly done his research. Research of one particular inimitable act. The jokes come slow and incoherent, repetition is a key feature. The only feature. Repetition is the only feature. They key feature? Repetition. Rhetorical questions and overusing his own name come naturally to this rookie and he laconically drips lists and concepts onto the stage with seemingly absolute no interest in how he's being perceived. He finishes up his set and Joel shuffles awkwardly on set to firm him up.

Katherine is first to speak.

"I could see what you were trying to do..." she begins kindly. She has positive words for him but she can't hide the disappointment. No amount of constructive criticism can make up for a silent audience... but you can still go home and claim they just didn't "get you". Don't you worry.

Martin loved it. Something weird, something wacky... "Well done!" he enthuses sincerely. "I'd book you for my London club any time. I loved it. You're something different and that's what the circuit needs."

"Don't be ridiculous." chimes in Don, "What works works for a reason, because it works. And this, didn't work. Sorry but you need jokes, you need a certain punchline rate, you need observations, you need punch. You, had none of that."

Peter says something irrelevant that makes the crowd laugh and we're off onto the next act.

The next act looks the party. He's all bouffant hair and skinny jeans. A red chequered shirt that the stylists have picked straight off of BBC3. He's personable, smily and great company for his brief spell. Lad culture, am I alpha enough, why do women want a real man not a weakling like me, I can't get a girl, I'm a geek and I'm camp. He covers it all. He's sewing together "honestly true" stories from his ramshackle life with terrible puns that he cajoles the audience into laughing at. They are loving it. He's just handsome enough to be handsome without being handsome. He's every agents dream.

The judges are unanimous. He's excellent. He's got panache, he's got style, he's got jokes and he's got persona. What a guy. He will fit right in with all the other exact replicas currently lining the charts. Money signs are lighting up behind the judges' eyes. It's going to be a tough act to follow.

Luckily, the next act doesn't seem to be trying that hard to go any further than infamy. The last of our four finalists has a few American influences and he traipses them across the boards without a second thought for the careful touch that his idols used to scatter them. He hammers home cancer punchlines and flips the concept of rape up in the air like a February pancake. The audience make no more noise than a few extremely uncomfortable titters and eventually the camera pans round to Katherine just miming the word "stop". He ploughs on regardless, mining the deep well of baby death comedy between a lighter section on a particularly racist grandparent that, oh no wait, has actually turned out to be dead now anyway so don't worry. The set comes to an abrupt end as the act stabs someone on a bus and Joel tries his best to be professional without in any way condoning anything the act had to say and landing his own career in scalding water.

The judges don't know where to begin. Peter shakes his head in despair, "How could you take something as fluffy as comedy and do that to it?" he asks. "It's like you took the ingredients for a greta cake and just shat on them instead of baking." The audience muster a low laugh but they're too shell shocked to react properly. We move on.

Katherine asks the act politely to go back to being an estate agent. Martin is not impressed and consequently only offers him a spot at his Thursday night show. Don, well Don is thinking.

"You actually don't have no joke writing skill." He concedes, "But what you lack is any kind of respect for you audience or skill at reading a room. I wouldn't be surprised if you got somewhere but you've got a long way to go yet."

Joel ushers him to one side and brings the four finalists into line on the stage. They stand, nervous. There are clearly only two in the running. The girl from a shit hole and the lad with masculinity issues... who is it going to be...?


He had it all... the hair, the teeth, the jokes, the smoothness, the twinkle in his eye and ability to turn his hand to any panel show that needs a jocular guy to sit next to the other ones. Well done lad. You're the king of comedy for a year. Wear that crown with pride.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wolf Eyes Meets a Hufflepuff

On Wednesday I'm going to be in the same room as Paul Hollywood. Having given up harrassing whoever books the comedians for Great British Bake Off Extra Slice to take a punt on someone who, whilst being unknown, is a massive fan of the show, I've got myself a ticket to go along and see the recording of the show.

It turns out that because it's the show that'll be on after the final, Paul Hollywood will be there. Now, I love Paul Hollywood for the following reasons:

1. He's mean in a sexy way.
2. He has the eyes of a wolf that has killed the rest of his pack and isn't even sorry.
3. He makes bread.

Pause. I don't think you've let that sink in.


Imagine the following scenario:

Paul comes home from a hard day at work.

Paul: I have had a hard day at work.
Laura: Oh dear. What happened?
Paul: I made loads of bread.
Laura: Do you have any bread with you?
Paul: Yes.
Laura: *jumps on Paul* Oh my god you taste like bread on your skin because you spend all your time around bread. You are delicious. I love bread.

4. He is not a hugger. His highest form of praise is a handshake.
5. His surname is Hollywood and Laura Hollywood sounds great.

What I can't work out is what to bake on Wednesday for the show. Have I got a better chance of talking to them if I bake something truly awful, or should it be excellent?

If I bake some kind of wedding scenario involving myself and the Wolf will I even be allowed into the studio?

Any help appreciated guys. You're all beautiful.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Autumn In The Mirror

Iris was sitting in the garden enjoying the warm autumn day. This was her favourite kind of weather - when the heat was all encompassing and wholesome. The summer heat from the earth was still lingering, and as it rose up and met with the descending day's sunshine it melted beautifully into the bones. Iris thought the heat was kinder in autumn. Autumn heat is not sharp like heat in spring, where the sun is just starting to pierce the remaining chill of winter. In autumn the heat is gentle and relaxed; no need to try too hard. The sun's work for the year is done and now it's just easing itself off in search of new surroundings.

Iris didn't much mind seasons changing... she'd seen enough of them not to become too concerned about the temperature adjusting one way or the other for a few months. Once you reached a certain age you picked a jacket you liked and wore it all year round regardless of weather. It was just easier.

Iris liked to imagine that in winter the sun had another home it went to live in. As she and Colin would have done had they had the money and the fearlessness. She thought the sun probably enjoyed the break from the English gridlock. It was kind enough to leave it's wintry hologram up there to light the days for them, but Iris knew that it wasn't the real sun. Neither was the summer sun real to her; the summer sun was too grandiose, too imposing... too eager to show off to holiday makers and doubters. She felt the summer sun showed off like a teenager whose parents had tolerant friends over - the sort who might coo over a mantle piece performance or two. It was the autumn sun that she liked best; when the campers had trailed back up the M5, the Spanish students had gone home to their Spanish desks, and country life was back to normal. Then the sun seemed genuine... it seemed to relax - content to give it's best few weeks to people at home in their gardens. Late evening BBQs and frantic veg patch preparation could be done with this friendly orange face nearby to say, "Well done, we did it. Another year's busy season done."

As she sat on the green canvas, reclinable chair the thought crossed Iris' mind that sun worship didn't seem so daft when you really thought about it. There was much stronger evidence for a causal link between the sun and prosperity than there was for a God. She'd always thought it lightly amusing that people had once offered gifts up to a ball of gas like the sun, but now, as she sat with only the sun for company, she realised that actually she had a lot to be grateful to it for. She and Colin had always loved the sun... sought it out for holidays, made the most of it in their own gardening, and added a conservatory as soon as they had realised conservatories existed. After Colin died, the sun had been the first solace Irisfound. His death had brought dull panic to a life she quickly discovered had been emotionally privileged to the utmost. She'd felt routinely crushed by the daily bouts of realisation that this new life was permanent and that all the empty spaces opened up by a lack of Colin, were now constant. For the first time in her life Iris had wished for children - begged the heavens to let her wake up having had a child with Colin 40 years ago so that now she'd have another version of his face to miss his old one with her. But every day she'd woken up childless and alone in a house that felt too big for the love she had left for it. Her own attention to it couldn't fill the corners any more and the visitors who shuffled round kept leaving tupperware dishes of good intentions that would sit in her fridge for days while she stared at them. She didn't want to reheat a lasagne portion and eat it in front of the TV, she wanted to chop an onion for a soup while the pips played on the radio and Colin chose that exact moment to wash up and get under her feet.

She'd felt wretched without him. The sort of heartache you thought you'd left behind in your teenage years could still find you despite your wrinkled disguise. Iris hadn't been totally sure if she was allowed to cry and wail and stay in bed, or if people would think that odd. She felt an unspoken assumption that if your partner died in old age, you were supposed to be ready and prepared for it. The fact that you knew it was coming and had already spent a life together, meant you didn't have many hard feelings about him going now. Iris didn't have hard feelings - she'd had wet feelings; mushy and limp feelings. Feelings that made her want to keep her eyes closed because thoughts didn't settle so firmly if you were looking at the colour lights on the black of your eyelids.

She clearly remembered that the sun was the first thing that made her want to bother being Iris without Colin. She'd been hungry, and a panicked loyalty had overwhelmed her brain so that she couldn't bear the thought of eating anything but Colin's tomatoes. She wanted to show him how she still loved him - she wanted to fill herself with something he had put so much time into. She wanted any tiny, miserable way to be with him. She'd slipped out the back door, up the step, along the path and down to the grow bags at the front of the greenhouse. Then she sank to her knees and began piling tomatoes into her mouth... red, round... green and hopelessly unripe... yellowing... she pushed fruit after fruit into her mouth. Not letting a single pip fall from her mouth to be wasted. Then she sat back down onto the grass and just cried. A tear for every second she had loved that man, and an extra one for every long minute she now had to 'get on with it' without him. She cried until she was exhausted and then just lay back on the grass and drifted off to sleep. When she woke, her first thought was how pleasant the burning sun felt on her skin. It was like fingers massaging into her cheek bones. As her drowsy thoughts came awake and she remembered why she was lying in the garden, she realised that for the first time since his death her first waking thought had not been Colin. The sun had given her a few brief moments of respite - the smallest insight into the possibility that one day there would be more thoughts that weren't of a lack of Colin. The sun had given her hope.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

You and your lations.

I went swimming today and, because I can't swim so much as I can deftly lollop through the water like a cramping barrell, I was using the slow lane. The slow lane in my local pool contains three different types of people:

1. Elderly women who are less interested in swimming and more interested in standing in the shallow end having a nice chat. One can only assume it's nice for them to know they are wet for a reason and not just because they can no longer handle the witty repartee without Tena assistance.

2. Hairy yet very attractive men who are pretending not to look at the other hairy attractive men.

3. Uncomfortable people of middling age, middling weight, middling swimming ability who desperately want to be in the medium pace lane but are worried they'll upset someone. These people haven't really swum since the days of school swimming where the one chunky girl in the class inexplicably got a week off every month, and everyone got over excited at the thought of a free play swim time instead of endless lengths.

As I turned around at one end of the pool, someone smiled at me and asked me how I was getting on. I said:

"Oh, it's ok. I hate swimming actually. I just hate swimming slightly less than I hate running so I'm here."

She laughed, which was great and I've subsequently added it to my comedy CV for sending out to presenters. I continued...

"I'm getting married next year and I just wanted to work on my figure a bit before the dress fittings."

Her: "Congratulations."

Me: "Thanks."

She swam off and I continued my lengths with ever decreasing levels of finesse.

Had I had something else to do I would have not thought about the exchange again. But I didn't have anything else to do... all I could do was continue swimming behind this nice lady and wish I could in some way catch up with her and say "By the way, I care intermittently about the health and appearance of my body at other times in the year too - not just when I have a wedding coming up. I'm not that kind of woman."

But maybe I am that kind of woman. I am the kind of woman who grins from ear to ear at the end of the make-me-skinny-pool because someone else has congratulated me on getting married soon. Because, I deserve congratulations, don't I? I've won haven't I? I've got one?

Marriage and weddings still have that hold over us that it's an accomplishment - it's something you've achieved. It's a life goal that you've conquered. I somehow think we view marriage as different to love. Falling in love is easy - marriage, so I'm told, is not.

Is a woman congratulating me on getting married sinister? Is it some hark back to the dark ages if I grin and widely accept the congratulations? Am I revelling in the delight that someone has got me and is going to make my life easier? Or, is the congratulations better than that? Is it "congratulations on deciding your fluttery new love is worth stapling down so that when it inevitably gets difficult, you can look back and know that at some point you felt so seriously about this being forever that you made the biggest noise possible to shout about it so it's much harder to let it slip away quietly"?

I wasn't too worried about my comment on trying to look good for the wedding. The truth is I have a tempestuous relationship with food that's quite hard to casually describe to an unsuspecting woman making small talk at the side of a pool. Much easier to say "I want to be a size 8 bride" than "sometimes I cry because I've only eaten a cube of cheese in 24 hours and my brain's melted because it thought even that was too many calories". I think the poor thing would probably have fled for the medium paced lane and sod the rest of them had I opened that can of worms-lite.*

So there I was swimming up and down the pool under the beady eye of the life guard (who I just knew was judging my stroke and my life choices) suddenly wondering if I should be getting married at all. Because someone had congratulated me. A sort of misguided feminist cold feet I suppose. Cold feet that were kicking up a shit storm behind me in the face of the grey ladies of Kemp Town.

I think I'm getting married for the right reasons... I'm getting married because I love my relationship, have done for a few years, and hope to keep it similar to this for the rest of my life. I could live without getting married, but I also really want to do it. I don't think marriage will change anything immediately and I'm certainly not expecting an expensive party to miraculously fix anything.

I think I know that the people at my wedding, the people I love the most, will be congratulating me for the right reasons. They won't be praising me for slipping off the shelf and into the arms of someone eligible. They'll be congratulating us for having made each other's lives better and having made it really easy to have great dinner parties because we are now a team.

I'm sad that I felt bad about getting married, but I'm grateful to that woman for congratulating me because it made me have quite a long hard think about it all. But I shan't be going swimming again just in case.

*The only reason I mention this element, which is very personal obviously, is because I think the more people talking about horrible, awkward, ridiculous issues like these the better. I do not want any sympathy but if it helps someone else to know they're not alone I say shout about stuff like this from the roof tops when you're feeling strong enough.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Musical

I'm not normally one for topical comedy or writing. My general opinion of my own level of education is low; I never feel informed enough to weigh in with words on current affairs. However, this week seems to have been a big week for events that are shaking the foundations of humanity. And, for once, I feel like I have something informed to say.

It feels like we're living in a time where people in a position of power are stooping to new lows. Malicious actions with effects that ruin peoples' lives are one thing, but the worst element seems to be the way people are not stepping in. How can the world stand by and watch as someone takes what doesn't belong to them and destroys another person in the process? How can this be something we're OK with?

I'm talking, of course, about Diana's fatal blow to Iain the bearded wonder in this week's Great British Bake Off.

What? The Actual F.U.C.K?

As the great Irishman himself put it, "Who takes someone else's ice cream out of the freezer?"


And, yes, maybe Iain did have his own freezer and maybe that's where his ice cream should have been... but would it have killed you Diana to have asked him to move it instead of just leaving it out on the side in 25 degree heat?

Of course, you can't get too mad at Diana. She was under stress, she was pressured, she had the all seeing iris' of Hollywood boring in to the back of her head. But was there not a single camera operator or runner or producer that could have seen her activities with the stolen Alaska? Could they not have intervened? Or is this where television has got to these days? Has decades of awful Big Brother programming reduced the Great British Public to enjoying the kind of demeaning activities that we saw in the tent this week?

We'd rather have big viewing numbers and exciting TV than have a gentle Irish giant through to the next round with some sesame ice cream to be proud of. It's not even that I think the Baked Alaska would have been good - I'm confident he would have ballsed it up even without Diana's help but that is not the freaking point.

Gosh darn it that tent full of flour and Mel & Sue goodness is my sacred place where I know no harm can come to me. Some people have the arms of a loved one or a happy place in their head... but my closest friend is my Sat Nav and I can't remember the last time I ate a meal with someone else. So I need this. I need that marquee of dreams where the best rise to the challenge and the worst sink under the pressure and crumble before the might of the Berry.

I don't think I'm going too far when I say that that marquee represents a silken walled dream space where jams and flour dusting patch up the worst woes of the world and cover them in carbohydrates. If you let even the slightest element of foul play in through the glorious, flexible walls, then really, I ask you, is GBBO any better than the Kremlin? Are we taking the very thing we're using to distract ourselves from the evil cess pit sliding rapidly towards destruction we call society, and making it a microcosm of the problems we're avoiding?

Please, BBC, I'm begging you... don't take it away from me. Let's see justice. Let's see Iain resurrected. Sure, you can't go back in time and put him back in the show and neither would I want you to, because he was dreadful, but how about we give him his own show? Eh? A terrible show where he mumbles through a full bushel of oddly tinged beard and shows us exactly how not to do anything particularly adeptly? And in the corner Berry will be dressed as Princess Leia on a chaise longue while Hollywood is caged and taunted by men in Spartan costumes. Mel and Sue will be there, with their guest: ME! We'll be having a lovely encouraging time and telling Iain we largely don't even care about the baking because it's always really been about the pastel colours and the equipment envy.

And someone else will fix the rest of the world. Probably UKIP I expect.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In a Plastic Cup

Yesterday the news that Robin Williams had died was all social media was concerned about. I wrote about it, something I've never done before for the death of a celebrity, and something that I saw criticised quite a lot across various media platforms.

Some people got quite angry about people who didn't know Williams personally writing a message about what they'd thought of him. I think I saw it called "competitive grieving". I found it interesting that people would have a problem with it; preferring to believe people are crass than emotional is a nice way to feel like you are above such ridiculous reactions possibly? And in some cases, I suppose I did look at a few statuses and think - "Yikes! Bit much?" But it's not for me to criticise people disliking the grief any more than for them to criticise the grief.

What it did make me think though, was that perhaps this anger stems not from people having a love for the deceased, but from this love having never really been shown up until this point. The death may have felt like a bandwagon rather than a jolt to realise you'd had affection for a face you didn't know? How many people daily had a status about Williams prior to that? Very few. So of course it might seem odd that someone suddenly couldn't live without him somewhere in the ether.

What with my Facebook and Twitter being largely comics and creatives I had a plethora of tributes to read from people who had been influenced by Williams as one of their earliest comic idols. It was really interesting to read and very moving. It got me thinking... who would mine be? Who will I one day be writing for when I am shocked and saddened they are gone?

I don't want to wait. I have decided from now on to write the occasional tribute to someone still out there that I think is brilliant. Someone famous, someone not so famous, but someone who I want to recognise now might have that capacity to give me a jolt when they are gone. The cynics among you might think of this as a crafty way to wave an "I loved them" flag now so that my future grieving is legitimised. But you can fuck off.

So. To Eddie Izzard. The man I have loved since I was about 11 and my parents had a copy of Glorious on cassette. At first I remember it being on in the car - I thought it was weird. I didn't know what stand-up comedy was and it took me a while to work out the genre... not quite story telling and not quite anything else. The genre just seemed to be "being silly".

I fell in love.

The cassette was fairly swiftly stolen from the car by my sister and me, and it came to live in our bedroom. We were never very good at falling asleep and Glorious quite quickly replaced George's Marvellous Medecine as our bed time reading. I remember the opening music really used to give me chills... it's odd, spooky music and I wasn't keen. But then Eddie's voice would kick in... "Hamm-ersmith Apollo! Apollo! The God of the sun..." and so on and so o. I remember the intonation as though it was my own material.

Having it on cassette meant I didn't know a lot of the actions. I had no idea he ran around like such a perfect giraffe, I didn't know he wore lipstick, and I didn't understand some of the laughs he was getting. But then, I didn't understand a lot of his laughs anyway because the references were too much for me. But the imagery he put into my tiny stand-up virgin brain was incredible. I had no idea what the 6 million dollar man was but I had my own Izzard version played by the Queen and it was funny enough in its own right for me not to need to know the original.

Even looking back now, I find it hard to watch Glorious and pick it apart as material like I would do to someone else. For me it is total woven magic. Blurry lines between each of his lines, seamless and carefree, chasing a picture across the stage and then smashing it with a sledgehammer.

"Rwanda doesn't work very well."

I vaguely knew what Rwanda was, but that image of him dragging Rwanda back to lie it back down was incredible. Mind fireworks exploding left right and centre for things this grown adult must be doing on the stage.

His section on losing his mother and Diana was an absolute lightning bolt. I thought for a long time he must be lying about that - how could someone quite easily talk about that and then go straight back in to being very funny? I found him very impressive for having that little cold section in the middle in between the big beards and the French dogs.

Many, many years later and Eddie Izzard had become a major feature in my relationship with my sister. We'd since gone on to discover Definite Article and Dress to Kill on VHS, and then for my 17th birthday my sister took me to Birmingham (A CITY?!) to see Sexie. Wow. Probably the best birthday present I had ever, or have ever, been given. It was amazing. I laughed and laughed and bought merchandise and didn't even care that he was so far away I watched the whole thing on the big screen. It was incredible.

I remember buying a copy of Sexie when it came out and being so bitterly disappointed that it was nowhere near as funny as that live show had been. I would defensively tell anyone who would listen that the reason it didn't seem as funny was that it had been filmed really early in the tour before it had been developed as far. I have no idea where I got that theory from but I defended him, it, and my birthday with an iron will.

When I went away to University and I moved from Somerset to Kent and missed my family something chronic, my sister filled my first birthday card after the move with little cut out paper bees so that when I opened it I would be "covered in beeeeees!" and I stuck each tiny bee onto the wall of my halls around my giant "Labyrinth" poster. Yes, I was extremely cool in my first year. No wonder I didn't have a single boy back to my room for the entire year. I was chronically lonely in my first year... I hated going clubbing, I just wanted to do acting and I couldn't seem to get a part for love nor money. But then in the first reading week my mum brought my little TV VCR combo over to Kent and suddenly I had company in my little room. Eddie was back and with his videos came the idea to go into town and buy more videos from the million charity shops in Canterbury. I had Alexei Sale, Tim Vine I think, and various other contributions. Eddie was still my favourite and it was an extremely pleasing thing to know that he was to my taste - he wasn't just the only flavour I'd ever had. Billy Connolly was up there in Eddie's league but Izzard still had the top spot in my heart.

I studied him for my dissertation at the end of my masters... I used an excellent clip of Phil Jupitus doing an impression of Eddie at We Know Where You Live, Live to write an essay on the levels of comedy in the clip. You're laughing at Star Wars, you're laughing at Phil, you're laughing at Eddie, you're laughing at the cleverness of Phil's writing in the style of Eddie, you're laughing at the actual jokes Phil has, and you're laughing at the relationship between the two (Izzard was compering the gig). I love this clip and, having just watched it back there, I still find it just as funny now even after having studied it. The same cannot be said of Waiting for Godot.

I've never gigged with Eddie Izzard and I've not seen him live since that birthday 11 years ago in Birmingham. But I did have the pleasure of meeting him very briefly last year when I was performing in a play in Brighton and he happened to be staying in the hotel we were performing at. It is the only time in my life I have ever just had to go and say hello to a celebrity and tell them how much I admired them. Yes, bit pathetic looking back, but he shook my hand and asked my name and told me to carry on with stand up as he thought there really should be more females doing it. I was shaking like a leaf. One day I'd really hope to catch him on a bill in a tiny club and see him where I love comedy being the most. To gig on the same bill as him would be a dream and terrifying all at the same time. He's the direction I hope my material moves in - towards the caricature and the mini-play and the downright silly logic. He's also the first glue that started to hold my relationship with my sister together and that's a weird thing to attribute to a man who had no intention of doing that. Possibly a bit creepy. I don't know.

But, Eddie Izzard, I salute you. Thank you for introducing me to stand up comedy and for remaining my favourite long after I'd discovered Mitch Hedberg and Simon Munnery and Tim Minchin and Billy Connolly and Richard Pryor. Hero #1.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I've never been very concerned when I've woken up to a celebrity death before; I'm not heartless, I just didn't know them. It was sad that they'd died but I wake up to the news that at least 30 people have died in some kind of atrocity somewhere every morning and I didn't know them either.

I didn't know Robin Williams. But I think, along with a lot of other people of my generation, it had never occurred to me I didn't know him. He invited me in to so many of my favourite films. Twinkly eyes, a voice made of plasticine and the hairiest arms that childhood me had ever seen; the man was a god.

I got mad at him for ruining his own marriage in Mrs Doubtfire - who invites a goat to a child's birthday party? I'm with you Miranda.

I swore at Aladdin for breaking his heart when he was a genie.

I was petrified of Jumanji.

I was so proud of him in Hook (after I'd squinted through the Boo Box bit and stopped wondering why he wanted to get such snobby children back anyway).

People will be baffled if it's suicide, the way they were when Hoffman died, because they won't understand.

"How can someone who made so many people smile have been so sad?"
"Didn't he know he could have turned to someone?"
"How can someone so talented have wasted it all?"

Depression might manifest itself in the mind but it isn't controlled by being strong willed; you cannot will yourself to get up anymore than a paraplegic can will back their limbs. The credit for the smiles you might cause doesn't get back to you; it's filtered out by the fog of guilt and shame and isolation that a bad spell can cause. You can have all the money in the world and still get hungry; you can have the biggest support network on earth and still get low.

I don't think it's too far to go to say Robin Williams was a genius; up there for me with Alan Alda, Ronnie Barker and David Jason for the ability to weave a character so warm, loving, hilarious, genuine and solid that you can't help but believe it must be what the real man is like.

If only there was a bit of hope that something like this would break the myth that someone famous is indestructible and fair game for endless criticism. Can we stop breaking skinny little girls with our circles of shame? If someone so universally loved can have been so desolate, can we understand that someone dodging media bile daily is not immune? Shout what you want at a stand-up or a beautiful woman; they're paid enough to take it. It's their job.

My favourite comedy moment in cinematic history is the point where the lime hits the back of Pierce Brosnan's head. I have rewound that moment on scores of videos and DVDs over the years. Endlessly watching it bounce off his shiny head.

"It was a run by fruiting."

You can't miss someone you didn't know; his films will always be here, and his stand up, and the memories that he must be competing with Roald Dahl for having planted in children's lives.

Thank you for being honest about the way you felt behind it all. You're a terrifying legend and an inspiration to me; you've shown me how much it's possible to achieve, but you've burst the bubble that one day any of it will be enough to take away the crumbling.

From the bottom of my heart Mr Robin Williams; thank you so much for doing what you did. Thank you for weaving yourself through a dozen characters that punctuated the tedium of most adults; thank you for playing for us and with us.

Friday, August 8, 2014

When Your Head's In a Mess

My seat is so uncomfortable I think it could possibly be used as an effective deterrent against crime. Fill all the prisons with ex-National Express coaches and make serious offenders sit in them for hours on end while scenery worthy of a cheap hotel painting goes rushing by in a world that is cooler where the "air conditioning" cannot reach you. This is not air conditioning, it's a series of hair dryers glued in to the ceiling and set to medium. We will be sweating but styled by the time we reach London.

The chair seems to be made of some kind of sticky substance, spread across some wooden beams and what feels like a very upset animal. Something leggy and spiky. It's been forged in the 80 degree angle so that my face is pointed ever so slightly towards my thighs. The seat belt that I'm legally required to wear is chewing away nicely into my neck causing lesions that I'm sure will fester nicely in the sauna style atmosphere of the coach.

I've decided to kill the man next to me, because he is reading this blog as I type it and even though he seems to have just this second decided to dig his book out of his bag, I am still going to kill him because he spent the first 30 minutes of the journey telling me I should tell him a joke. Of course that's largely my fault for telling him I'm a comedian - rookie error. But he really should have taken no for an answer.

Him: Tell me a joke.
Me: No.
Him: Go on, you've got to.
Me: No, I haven't. It's not really what I do.
Him: You don't do one liners?
Me: Rarely on stage, never on coaches.
Him: What kind of thing do you do?
Me: I tell rambling anecdotes about bird documentaries I've watched recently.
Him: Do you talk about periods?
Me: Oh for fuck's sake.
Him: I really like that Scottish guy off Mock The Week.
Me: Of course you do.
Him: What's his name?
Me: Frankie Boyle.
Him: That's it! What do you think of him?
Me: *radio silence*
Him: Not a fan?
Me: Not really - not my kind of comedy.
Him: What is your kind of comedy? Tell me a joke...
Me: Ah shit, my laptop slipped and now it's in your head. Oh god you're bleeding all over the seat and the heat from the "air conditioning" is baking it on to the pleather. Oh dear, well, you might not think it's particularly funny now but then it took years for people to get Stewart Lee. Frankie Boyle would never do something like this I suppose but he would joke about it happening to someone less fortunate than him so I suppose that's the same thing?
Him: *Dead from blood loss*

I hate this coach. I hate everything about it from the woman who keeps slamming back into the seat in front of me, to the happy Welsh people who are enjoying their lives. Since my great toboggan accident of 2010 there are very few positions I can stay in for more than 2 minutes without crippling pain through my back. Thankfully doggy style is one of them. AM I RIGHT? LADS? There's a fucking one liner for you, you miserable cretin. Does that please you? Stop pretending to read your book and laugh at my you-induced hilarity. Look what I've done... I've told a joke! A sexy, sexy joke. I'm sweating at the same time, I'm practically Lee Evans and Lee Mack rolled into one. Call me Lee MacEvans because I am brilliant and just like all the comics you see on the television.

I hate this coach. I hate the way the wheels are made of granite and have an inbuilt pot hole seeking system that is churning my mediocre hotel breakfast into a paste of potential salmonella and motion sickness. Bouncing along the M4 in a misery seeking missile bound for a city that's pouring with rain and full of people who have that Friday feeling. I don't have that Friday feeling, that Friday feeling is just a feeling that tells you you actually hate 5/7ths of your life. You are so miserable for most of your days that you've invented a term for the tiny bubble of joy you feel when you realise today is the day you can get drunk and waste your 2 days of freedom in a haze of regret and panic about Monday.

I hate this coach. I hate the way it's sucking all the natural optimism out of my mind and replacing it with thoughts of doom and of repeatedly flicking the corpse next to me until it comes back to life so I can kill it again.

Far from divine.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Left or Right

I just spent over a month's rent on half a dress - anyone that tries to tell you weddings aren't insanity incarnate is lying and probably about to sell you something wedding related. To console myself for my temporary (year long) lapse in sanity concerning money I'm allowing myself two caffeinated teas today. Break them rules bitch.

I might have spent a small fortune on half my dress (lord I hope it's the bottom) but it's still only the equivalent of about 5% of what the Edinburgh Fringe would have cost me had I been there this month. I'm not there, but do you know who is? EVERYBODY ELSE ON THE PLANET (or so it feels). All splashing about in the quagmire of soiled leaflets and trodden egos. God I miss it.

My fiancée is there (let's call him Alan), and for the first time I understand what people mean when they call their partner their other half. I feel like someone's turned the volume down on the world now he's gone; I'm doing stuff... Gigging, seeing friends, writing, exercising, exercising our joint account's generosity on satin and shoes that make me feel like a Tim Burton character... But it feels a bit numb.

I'm not crying or wrenching my clothes, but I just can't be bothered with much. It just simply isn't as much fun to be me without him. That's weird isn't it? Is this going to be life from now on? Is he my emotional hearing aid?

Or will this fade, will he become as background as the carpet while I wonder what I was ever so desperately attached to?

I hope it's the former. I don't believe in the one or soul mates, but I've come to believe that a best friend that you like banging is the most sensational thing you can achieve. Worth spending the equivalent of 6 nights at Portsmouth Jongleurs on a dress to marry him in.

I miss the Fringe too. If Alan is my rock, the Fringe is my abusive spouse that I just can't leave because he needs me despite his occasional full frontal violence. I've been to the Fringe In different guises for the last 5years and this year I gave it a break as I'm doing my first solo hour at the Camden Fringe next week (ticket link just to the right should you not have got round to buying yours yet...!). My show is quite based on Alan and our life so not having him here while I'm tweaking and writing, amidst fervent wedding planning, is a little odd... I feel slightly like I'm pretending it's real when actually I'm just a crazy cat lady who doesn't have any cats because she doesn't like them and her fictional Alan is really allergic.

Edinburgh Fringe is intoxicating - a real drippy soup of ego, elation, grinding effort and repetition. Set against a backdrop of twinkles and grey stone architecture. Edinburgh in itself is spellbinding - with the additional furore of the Fringe added it becomes sensational. Like every last day of term rolled into one at a theatre school full of terminally ill models who've taken a very positive outlook on the situation.

I look forward to being back next year - a married woman, with a well rehearsed, planned and presented solo show and a husband back to turn up the volume with me. Here's to various fringes, to finding someone brilliant and to passion. And to our joint account, because that poor bastard needs it more than anyone. Alan, if you're reading this... Please don't check the balance.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stabby McTabby and the Heatwave

Stabby McTabby (that twat of a cat),
Lay in the shade near the corpse of a rat.
He writhed and he twisted and searched for a breeze,
Reeking of sweat and of bile and disease.

The sun beat down on his patched scabby coat,
Stabby McTabby resembled a rotting bear scrote.
"For god's sake just kill me!" he screamed at the sky,
Licking thick, green, dry sleep from the corner of one eye.

Just then a mouse came scampering past,
"I do hope this glorious summer will last!"
"The days by the river in the cool of the pool,"
"The hours I have sunbathed - this heatwave just rules!"
"I wish it were sunny all day, all year long,"
"When the weather's this good being miserable is wrong!"

Stabby McTabby swallowed the sick that had crept,
Up the back of his throat while his soul had wept.
This mouse was a retard - that much was clear,
Stabby McTabby felt his teaching side rear.

He'd show this mouse that the summer sucked cock,
It was not 'majestic', a 'miracle' and nor did 'it rock'.
It was a bath in your sweat and sticky limbed hell,
It was a place you got sent to when kicked out of hell.

Despite not being hungry - not even a bit,
McTabby stretched a paw towards the mouse and smacked it.
He bashed its mouse head onto the baking tarmac
And rubbed out the sticky bit inside like a Big Mac.

Using one dextrous, long, brown claw
He snapped down the little mouse's little mouse jaw.
He ripped open its stomach and pulled out some guts,
Before gently decorating the rest of the mouse skin with cuts.

A cut for each day that McTabby had been hot;
A cut for sticky nights, the long days - the lot!
A cut for the unseasonably warm, lengthy season
A cut on the mouse for any old reason.

McTabby grinned at the mouse, whilst looking for the right tool,
To finish the job and make the mouse his lessoned fool.

He reached in the dirt for a stick like a splinter,
And rammed the mouse remains on top,
He'd show that happy mouse that only an idiot,
Goes about praising summer instead of worshipping winter.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Some people hate fat people. Some people hate white people. Some people hate ginger people. Some people hate people who cannot use grammar.

I don't hate these people. I hate one specific group of people.

I hate a group of people who could spring from anywhere. It could be any of us. Like an infectious disease it could be lurking within you only to rear it's head at a time no one can control. You'll only know if you're one of them if a set of very specific circumstances happen to you. It's a terrifying prospect that one day I could love my Dad to the very ends of the earth and then it will only take one short phone call and I'll never want to speak to him ever again.

Do you know who I hate? I hate people who phone in to national radio... What all of them? I hear you ask in your best italic voice. No, not all of them. I reply in a slightly bassier voice so you can differentiate between me in the conversation and me the narrator. Well, I correct my self unnecessarily given that I could have just edited what I've typed, I do hate the vast majority of people who phone into radios. Particularly the Jeremy Vine show. I just think you should always be too busy to call in because you are doing something. Even if you work in the field being discussed, if you are not important enough to be flat out busy in the middle of the day then the nation doesn't give a flying fuck dropping about your opinion. So, if not all of them, then who specifically?

I'll tell you, oh slanty voiced voice of the people. I entirely hate, loathe and despise this person:

"...can I just say a few hellos?"


"My wife will be just delighted to hear her name on the radio. It'll make her day."

Then fucking leave her because she is the most boring woman I've ever heard of. In fact, don't leave her: treat her better. If the nicest thing you do for your wife in a day is say hello to her while she's sat in the kitchen with the door closed so the radio in the background doesn't interfere with the phone call, then the love has left your marriage and you need to move on.

There are 64 million people in Britain, plus those listening to the World Service abroad, and I don't care if only 1% of those people listen to Pop Master. It is still too many people to have their day held up by the dullest form of social broadcasting. Thank the good lord in Devon that you don't need a license fee to listen to the radio because I'd be asking for mine back in the light of recent activities:

Dear BBC,

I should dearly like my license back please because of the following:

June 13th: David from Poole wasting my time saying hello to "Mark, Lisa, Amy and new baby Eric. All the lads from work - they'll be laughing at me for this one. Last and not least to my beautiful wife Jodie and to everyone else who knows me.

June 15th: Lesley from Dartford using the radio to say hello to Wendy her best friend from school who has been having a really tough time lately and so a little mention to her will really brighten up her day. WILL IT LESLEY? WILL IT? Apparently Wendy's dog died recently so Lesley was pleased to get a mention out to her. Oh thanks Lesley, hopefully Radio 2 will send Wendy a new dog. Or maybe the nation could club together. Or maybe you should just pop round and see poor fucking Wendy because she's obviously upset and you're doing quizzes on the radio instead of being there for her.

June 16th: Richard from Cheltenham who would just like to say hello to *grabs preprepared list* Joe, Martha, Kate, Nicky, Catherine, Katherine and Kathryn. Luke, Simon, Matthew, Paul, John, Jesus, the Son of God, God (obviously) Louisa, the population of India, the staff writers at the Daily Mail, Kim from the deli, his car, Tony, the tiger and of course... the dreaded everyone else who knows me.

You have wasted seconds, minutes, hours of my time with this shit BBC and I will be writing to you every day with a list of people I feel like saying hello to you just to waste your time in a similar manner. Today I want to say hello to Ainsley Harriott, Catherine the Great and Ed Milliband's thumb. Make it happen BBC or my revenge will be swift and cold as ice.

Yours Faithfully,

I'm not saying people who feel a desperate need to say hello are the scum of the earth but I am saying they are the sort of person who drives at 40mph in a 60 zone because it is almost time to turn the headlights on and they've only ever driven this road in broad daylight (every day). They are the people who drive down a straight road and brake when a car comes the other way on the opposite carriage way "just in case". They are the people who buy Which? magazine. They are the people who buy CDs from service stations. They are the people who order good steak medium well. They are the people who buy Nissan Micras for the driving experience. They are the people who talk to you in a queue even though you clearly have head phones in. They are the people who chat to the ticket inspector on a train. They are the people who wear fleeces. They are the people who refer to "the" ASDA instead of ASDA. They are the people who preferred Paolo Nutini's first album. They are the ones who leave the concert before the encore to beat the rush out of the car park. It's a Rod Stewart concert. They are the people asking for the encore at the Rod Stewart concert. They are the people who see someone they know in the street and just stop walking in the middle of the pavement. They have children named after Fleetwood Mac songs. They are the people who overfeed their obese grandchildren. They are the people who call charity workers chuggers and think their walk through town being interrupted is worse than the issue of poverty. They are the people who vote based on wind farm promises. They are the people tutting at homeless spikes and shaking their heads that it's awful. They are the people tutting homeless people and shaking their heads that they're awful. They are the people selling the house they bought in '86 for a tidy half a million.

They are the people just wanting to say a few hellos. They are the scum of the earth.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Your Biggest Fan, Naturally

Call it a documentary and I will watch it. From Attenborough in the desert to Worseley in Hampton Court, via a bit I don't like to talk about much with some idiots in Chelsea, I will be there bravely waving the flag for factual television.

Factual = Fucking Actual. This is what television is actually for.

Breakfast, documentaries and defying Best Before Dates are my biggest passions in life. Happiness is watching Frozen Planet, eating eggs and scraping the mould off pesto to see if it's still good underneath. Pesto would have to be coughing up blood for me to believe it was truly inedible. I am a tyrannical PE teacher style fridge master, peering at the blueing cheese, "Doesn't look that bad to me son, just scrape the scab off and get on with it." Where most people would be down at Sainsbury's buying new food, mine have all just been forced to do it in their pants and vest - "IT'S YOUR OWN TIME YOU'RE WASTING!"

I find documentaries ultimately quite uplifting, in that they open my eyes to new respect for humans and the journey we've come along. I think too many people want to hate humans and believe the end is nigh; for every despairing thing in the world there's a documentary to make you realise we're brilliant/it's not that bad.

People who laud animals as being so superior to humans are bizarre in my opinion.

"I love lions. They're so regal, majestic. Look at them; King of the Animals. I have so much respect for lions."

Selected viewing much...? Or do you have the same reaction when you see a news item about a stepdad murdering the children of his new girlfriend because NEWSFLASH - THAT'S WHAT LIONS ARE LIKE. Sure, lions have things you can be in awe of; their power and might etc... but they're not angels.

We got to level Lion in about the 1950s I'd say; when women nervously presented dinner to a grumpy man who was finding being a man pretty damn tiring and so sat about shouting and his harem to bring him dinner so he had the strength to fuck them roughly again. What lions need is a lion Beyonce who can get them all shaking their booty towards equality. I'd imagine the lions' main nervousness about this plan would be that leotard probably means something quite different to a lion. It's very interesting that most human feminist icons post 1980 have so heavily involved leotards; I suppose they are easier to slip on than a horse or chains or something.

"Oh! Penguins are my favourite! Have you seen March of the Penguins? They're so incredible the way they survive those conditions. I have so much respect for penguins after seeing that."

I mean, are you literally high? Are you smacked off your tits right now or did Morgan Freeman's voice lull you into some kind of bass coma? You didn't watch that and go "What the fuck is wrong with penguins?".

We reached level Penguin sometime way back in the dark ages where we believed birthing had to be done high up on a mountainside and if you survived the birth you and your baby were worth it. Fuck it, Scientologists are still on level Penguin. How could you not have watched that and thought, "Take it in turns guys!" It only takes one penguin, one year to say, "Hey, I think I might not have a kid this year. I'll, uh, yeah... I think I'll just pop down to the beach this summer and maybe have a kid next year. There's fucking thousands of us, I don't think it'll matter much in the grand scheme of things." Think about it penguins. Have a break...

"Did you see that poll? A quarter of young people don't trust Muslims? Unbelievable."

Is it unbelievable? On 27th November 1095 Pope Urban ii gave a speech urging Christians to fight the Muslim infidel which lead to between 60,000 and 100,000 Christians heading off to the Middle East to slaughter Muslims. You might have heard of it, it was called the Crusades?

Before you tell me that was 900 years ago and we should have got it solved by now; there were 9 crusades, I think, and they lasted approximately 200 years. 200 years. And those are just the officially recorded campaigns. So, 200 full years of slaughter... and in a little over 3 times that amount of time we've got to 75% of the future generation not only not wanting to massacre, but trusting. Call me an optimist but when you look at the slow grind of development on other long held conflicts I feel like that's a positive statement given the major derailments to peace that have occurred in the time between the Crusades and now.

If the current Pope tweeted "Death to the East!" would 60,000 people even favourite it, let alone get on to see about flights to Baghdad?

Progress is everywhere. Yes, we're* still obsessed with what Kate Middleton wears to every single social event and the country ground to a halt when she married William. However, we didn't buy her from Angela Merkel to try and keep up with a steady German economy. Neither did Prince William marry one of Obama's waaaay too young daughters because of our special relationship. I for one didn't notice many instagram shots of the bloody bed sheets the day after their wedding either. We're better than we used to be!

We're also better than giraffes too because William isn't going to beat Charles to death with his neck when he decides it's his turn to be King.

We're far from perfect, but we're pretty cool. I  like us.

* I use "we're" with a heavy heart here, because I like to think that you and I actually are not, but the media certainly is so it's how history will record us.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

About People

There's something about working in the service or hospitality industry that makes you absolutely fucking hate people.

I'm currently working out the last few shifts of my bar job in the slow unwind to just doing comedy full time and the last few shifts are the hardest because the patience I used to have with people due to "needing the job" is vanishing.

I'm the same person whether I'm on stage or behind a bar; I look the same, I am just as intelligent, just as personable... but there's something about having a job where you're doing something for someone else where they suddenly assume you must be either:

a) too stupid to have inherited your father's company
b) sniffing glue
c) both

Tonight I had the following conversation with a woman:

Woman: Is it always like this? I've had to wait 10 minutes!
Me (whilst serving someone else): Sorry about the wait, obviously we've got 1,000 people to serve in this interval so there will be a slight pause while we get to you.
Woman: But I've waited 10 minutes!
Me: That's why the interval is 20 minutes... you'll get a drink, you can take it back in to the theatre and everyone will get served in order.
Woman: Oh! Well, I was waiting over there and I got asked to move.
Me: Yes, you were queuing next to the sign that said Please Keep This Area Clear For Disabled Access. I can't serve you there; I need to keep that area clear for wheelchair users.
Woman: I didn't know.
Me: There's a sign.
Woman: I couldn't see the sign.
Me: That's why I asked you to move.
Woman: Well I want a drink!
Me: What can I get you?
Woman: A red wine. Have you got a Rioja?
Me: (pouring the nearest not Rioja to hand) Sure.
Woman: Oh! Is it a plastic cup?
Me: Yes.
Woman: Can I have glass?
Me: No, it's a children's dance event... no glass.
Woman: That is beyond disgusting. (She walks away).

I guess some people just have their things that are important to them. But, my final shift will be next Monday night when I work the bar for an amazing event that's a nightclub for people with learning difficulties. The sort of conversation you have there are:

Customer: Please may I have a coke?
Me: Yes, absolutely. Ice?
Customer: Yes please. Thank you.

So different. How different people are:

Woman: I cannot have a glass - beyond disgusting.
Customer: I've got no legs and I'm deaf and can barely speak - hooray I'm at a disco!

I'll miss working the bar at the disco, just because it gives me a refresher every now and again to try and not be a "beyond disgusting" person. I want to be a "hooray disco".

Monday, June 16, 2014


The group of boys looked round at each other, nervously. They were excited, invigorated... but ultimately a little lost and confused. The voice had been so compelling. As the woman had sung, they had listened: their bodies becoming vessels for the longing and power in her voice. They'd lapped up every word they could decipher until the last few notes played out and they were standing, once again, on the street corner looking at each other. They felt exposed, but it wasn't unpleasant. The problem was the vagueness of the woman in the song... like a siren on a rock calling them to her but leaving out the vital details. The blonde boy clicked off the radio.

Each of them keenly wanted the milkshake; deep in their souls they felt an urging more powerful than anything they had heard before. But where was the yard? Had there really been nowhere in that beat heavy track to include a postal code or a vague name so they had something to go on? The boys shifted their weight, unsure how to satisfy the powerful longing in their bodies.

The tall one spoke.

"I know a yard." he said quickly spitting the words out like they were hot to the tongue.

"Where?" asked the fat one.

"I... It's not far from here. Near the touristy bit. I've seen the address on bottles of my mother's. It's a very famous yard."

"Let's go!" said the short one.

They bundled off down the street. Eagerly anticipating the sweet milkshake that was waiting for them at the yard.


"Either you buy something or get out. I don't know of any woman and certainly none of my products are edible. I'm sorry, I think you have wasted enough of my time."

Neal was losing his patience with the group of boys. They had bundled into his shop unannounced shouting and gossiping about milkshake and a mysterious woman who was going to let them have some. The best milkshake in the world, they said! Neal had no patience for milkshake. He watched anxiously as the fat one and the topless one argued dangerously close to his precious blue bottles.

"It must be the wrong yard!" shouted the squinty one.

"Sorry." mumbled the tall one, "It was the only yard I could think of."

"What if she wasn't saying just "the yard" " said the feline one, "What if she was saying "the yard"?"

"Well, where's the yard?" asked the extremely skinny one.

"Follow me!" yelled the feline one.


The police were even less impressed than Neal.

"We are not willing to take on this case." said the man at the desk.

"What, the famous case of the missing milk shake?" asked the tallest one.

"Yes. This is a place for serious investigations. Not for boys looking for milkshake. Why don't you pop down the the Shake Shed? They put biscuits in their milkshakes." the man at the desk really was trying to be friendly despite his fraying patience.

"It wouldn't be the same." said the anaemic one. "Her milkshake will be better. It's the best. The radio said so."

"Well, you've got the wrong yard here I'm afraid. There's no milkshake for you here."

The boys filed out, one by one, back out onto the street into the daylight. Shame was clouding them. What kind of a group of boys couldn't even find the yard containing the best milkshake a woman had to offer? They felt like failures. They felt like feminism had bested them. They felt like the worst outcome of everything the Daily Mail had warned them about. Now that women had the milkshake and the right to vote, they no longer had to tell the boys where the milkshake was.

"We'll never find that milkshake now." said the loudest one.

A man walking past on the street looked up, sharply. "Milkshake?" he asked.

"Yes!" Said the loudest one. "The best milkshake in the world. But it's hidden away. The location is a mystery."

The man walking past on the street wiped away a telltale white moustache and leaned in; taking pity on the boys. "You should get down to Kelis' Milkshake Yard on the High Street. It's just opened up today. Best milkshake I've ever tasted."

"Hooray!" shouted all the boys! And they ran to the yard. And this time, it was the right yard. They loved the milkshake so much they asked the lady who ran the shop if they could work for her. She said she could teach them, but if they were going to take a course in milkshake making she would have to charge them. They agreed and began the following week. And not a single one of them ever had healthy respect for a woman again.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer In The City

I'm not going to the Edinburgh Festival this year. No, not at all. No, not even popping up for a few days. Aren't you going to miss it? Yes, I expect I will miss visiting that beautiful city for a year, and I will miss all the little things I do there to distract myself from the fact I'm at the festival. Will I miss doing a show in the Fringe? No, no I don't think I will.

I've written a show for the Camden Fringe. It's a bit wonky and I don't know if it all works and it's got stuff in that I'm proud of but audiences might hate and it's got some wiggle room to include things I've written and pored over but haven't yet properly performed.

I'm not taking it to Edinburgh because I don't think Edinburgh is the right place to try out a Fringe show. I'll take it next year when it's polished and I'm ready to field the criticisms and the fringe audiences.

When Rik Mayall died this week the outpourings of grief and tributes from comics towards him was really moving and it made me think about the Fringe quite a lot. There were so many comics applauding Mayall for being their inspiration and being the first person they saw letting go and doing something different. He started something very cool.

Reading all of those tributes I started thinking about all the current TV shows and stars and TV comics and trying to imagine if any of them were different enough to strike such a reverberating chord with someone. I'm not sure; maybe? Nick Helm certainly has that renegade chaotic element about him. Maybe Frankie Boyle's loose tongue is inspiring? Russell Brand I suppose. Probably Russell Brand.

I think there's a link between the Edinburgh Fringe and this slight lull in exciting, inspiring comedy on the screen. Edinburgh is so expensive and draining, it is a huge pull down on a creative career that doesn't make enough money the rest of the year to support itself. I was told if I wanted to do my show with the company I used last year in a small venue I would need 10k upfront and I'd lose 6k of that. How can I afford that without working full time along side my comedy? Or, already being an established act who can invest that without worrying?

When the stakes are so high for a show, the room to be creative shrinks I think. If you've invested 10k in a new product for an exhibition are you going to attempt "Something Marketable" or really try and patent "The World's First Possibly Useless Terrible Thing"? Most people wouldn't have much of a choice but to try and pull something together that's not going to ruin them. I certainly don't.

Of course, the Free Fringe has really helped and I can think of a few people who are pulling together unique stuff that's exciting and different; Matthew Highton  and Adam Larter immediately spring to mind. On the paid fringe there are a few people who stand out as different; Pat Cahill, Sam Simmons... but most don't, including myself.

I'd love to be able to run some tests on the Edinburgh Fringe and see what happened:

* No reviews for a year. What happens?
* All shows are free to put on for a year. What happens?
* Shows cannot have been previewed. What happens?
* Nobody with any form of TV exposure can do a show. What happens?
* Nobody without any form of TV exposure can do a show. What happens?

I wonder if it would just help put something into the Fringe that I always assumed was there until I started going; a sense of silliness, messing about and trying something out without failure being so utterly devastating. If there isn't so much riding on the outcome, would the outcome be much more creative? Could we breed something new? Something that is struggling to develop on the circut where work is so scarce?

I have no idea. And I won't be there this year to have a think. But I might find that free little space to play in Camden. I hope so anyway.