Something for the Weakened

Archive for August, 2005

Finally, Edinburgh (other bit)

August 31st, 2005 by

Okay, I’ve been rubbish. Deal with it, alright. Before I wrap this all up, I should point out that I managed to miss something from the last summary. At some point on the Monday I went to one of the free comedy venues and watched another comic whose name escapes me. Something alliterative with a double D I think. Londoner. He was very funny. Anyway, let’s move on to Wednesday.

Wednesday – Finally feeling normal again, which leads to my ability to actually go and watch a relatively early show. With a name like ‘Paddingtons Crack’, it sounds like it might have some promise. In reality it hasn’t. Instead we have two drama students, who admittedly do have some acting ability. Unfortunately no one seems to have told them where there writing falls down, which is nearly everywhere. A wafer thin plot allows them to do four or five character studies of ‘comic’ grotesques, but without any real story to carry them along on. Apart from a couple more faintly amusing names, I fail to crack a smile throughout the proceedings. If it had been listed in theatre I might have felt less cheated, but I doubt that they would have got half the audience they did (and the show did seem pretty packed out). Also the only performance I saw any actual walk outs from. At least they were pretty, or else I might have joined those who departed. What am I saying? I paid to get in and I’m damned if I’ll ever waste money that way. As afternoon progressed into evening, we managed to get into ‘An Englisman, An Irishman And A Scotsman – Exposed!’ This turns out to be far more enjoyable, a one man show, deconstructing many of the old jokes I fondly remember forgetting in my youth (I can not remember jokes). Some of the biggest laughs in the cavern it’s performed in are from these old classics, but a lot of the material that they are written around has some merit too. Plus you can’t help but laugh at props that don’t quite work – the Scotsman’s moustache losing its stickiness being a prime example. Next up we move on to a cinema that has been converted into a stage to see ‘News Revue 24/7′. I wasn’t holding out a great deal of hope here if I’m honest, despite the good press it gets every year. Expecting a weak student mish mash, I’m instead treated to a highly polished mixture of sketch and song, some in gloriously bad taste. Proof that there can still be some life in the comedy song, something I’d doubted for many years. Probably wouldn’t work on record though. Finally, we forego a late show and instead opt for watching something called ‘The Good Doctor’, all because one of our number had been fliered by someone thrusting the paper and shouting “Science?” It’s being held in a room above a pub, so again I am forced into having reservations. Again these are unfounded, as the mixture of skewed pop culture references, Hammer horror style mad scientists and barely special effects make our group the ideal demographic for the performers. We manage to arrive back at the flat earlier than we have during the week so far. I then stay up until stupid o’clock watching cartoons on Sky and then fail to sleep.

Thursday – Another fairly early show today, but before that I try to get film tickets. Having only seen a Film Festival programme that day, I notice the UK premiere of Mirrormask, a collaboration by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, is tomorrow. Obviously it’s going to have sold out weeks before, but I try to get tickets anyway. After I find the cinema. Which takes half an hour. To find out that they’re sold out. Thankfully it doesn’t make me late for ‘Arthur Smith’s Swan Lake’, which is a phenomenal experience. A walking tour/ballet, believe it or not. The stroll takes in a small housing estate round the back of the Pleasance and a short nature trail just behind it. Throughout the walk various people are in preordained places, dancing, singing, being dressed as the Elephant Man Presley and many other things besides. There is even an interval in which we are served shots of vodka by people in their pants, which have the genitals of Michelangelo’s David printed on the front. It culminates at a vantage point over looking Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s mountain, where in the distance we can make out swans dancing half way up. It is a joyous experience and possibly my highlight of the week. From there we nip to the Spiegel Garden where I was hoping to buy tickets for the Tiger Lilies who the main guide had claimed were playing there last night there. It transpires that their last night had been last night and thus no tickets were to be had. Disappointed, but with spirits still high, it seems like a good time for some more free comedy instead. This time around it’s a showcase spot for a variety of acts, none of whom will I even try to recall the names of. The compere is also quite good, though does accuse me of sucking cock due to the kneeless trousers I’m wearing. He strokes the left one when leaving the stage, as if to say sorry. It doesn’t help. After a slap up meal we then head off for ‘Beergut 100′. This is Bill Bailey’s band, with vocals from The Actor Kevin Eldon and a couple of other faces from the comedy circuit whose names (and acts) have escaped me in the past as well as the present. Apart from an intro and outro of Bailey’s songs, the rest of the night consists of them doing punk covers. This is actually a lot of fun, helped by The Actor Kevin Eldon’s astonishingly good voice, plus numerous cameos throughout from figures as diverse as Rob(ert) Newman, Simon Munnery, Gary Le Strange and probably a couple of others I’ve forgotten. Then it’s off back to Spank again, this time arriving half an hour late and not being able to get seats until the interval. We get in some way into Gary Le Strange doing his own spot, like some bastard love child of Gary NuMan and Tom Lehrer. It’s quite amusing, but I don’t think that he entirely pulls it off. Next up is a repeat showing from Birdman, doing a slightly extended routine after the one from a couple of nights before. It’s still funny and his dealing with a heckler is perfectly within the spirit of the rest of his act. During his bit, Stuart Lee enters and walks past me. I’m tempted to try and shake his hand as well, so I have the full Fist of Fun package over my grubby mitts, but am not drunk enough this time so bottle it. He’s on next and does a great routine, fortunately with only a few bits I’d seen at Glastonbury. His slow, dry delivery is something to behold. There’s then another sketch troupe, whose name is something to do with albatrosses or summat. They do a couple of quite inspired bits, which it would have been nice to see more of. After the interval there is some full frontal male nudity from the same compere that got his cock out last time. I’m fortunate enough to find a pillar behind. I’ve emerged long enough to get a look at the woman on next flashing her tits, so it’s not all bad. She isn’t extremely amusing, generally coming out with some fairly uninspired filth, followed by an impression of what she doesn’t sound like cumming. The second Australian, she being the first (I think) is funnier, though I can’t off hand remember much of his act, or his name. I recall thinking some of it sounded like it was partly ripped off from Bill Hicks’ bit about flying, but the rest I laughed through. Finally there’s the first black comic I’ve seen all week, whose name I think was Matt Blaize, though I may have that wrong (it was nearly three in the morning! What do you want from me?). A lot of his stuff is actually very funny, though again, bits of it felt unhealthily reminiscent of other peoples work. We ad planned to stay up drinking then climb Arthur’s Seat to watch the sun come up, as we had a couple of years ago, but everyone is too tired so the idea is knocked on the head and we all head back to bed.

Friday – My birthday. Meh. It’s kept low key and, feeling lazy, I don’t leave the house until late afternoon. From there it’s on to see Boothby Graffoe, who performs his trademark mixture of comedy songs and stand up. It is all genuinely funny; the only problem I had was that I’d heard most of the material before on his last Radio 4 series. Still made me laugh though, just not as hard as I would if it had been new. Very good guest appearance by some violinist he knows too. After that it was on to the full show of Mikelangelo & The Black Sea Gentlemen. Thankfully we were some way back from the stage on this occasion, so no physical contact was made between me and any of the players. The group seemed slightly more restrained in their own venue (unwilling to break anything anyway), but still provided quite a spectacle. The music really does hold up and I can’t help but wonder when the next big Russian folk revival will happen. We must be due one soon. The late show of the evening was the near legendary Late & Live, which, after being herded like cattle for a while, we get into quite easily. Compere is some fluffy blonde kid, who is being heckled from the moment he arrives on the stage. He deals with it well and obviously has some talent, eventually getting one of the hecklers onto the stage where he remains for the whole of the nights proceedings. First guy on isn’t very good and quickly begins to die on his arse. His material has some funny lines, but not enough to placate a rowdy, drunken audience. Next is yet another bloke whose name has left my mind, though I do recall that he is of some sort of bizarre mixed lineage (Iranian and Jewish perhaps, but I can’t quite remember). He only ends up doing half a dozen lines of his own routine, instead spending most of his allotted minutes chatting to the man appointed as King of the Show who is still sitting on the stage. This is all highly amusing, if only for the fact that the former heckler seems to be coming out with all the best lines, impressing the comic and the crowd. I think Stephen K. Amos was on next, though I may have missed someone out. Do all black comedians have to do jokes about ‘the myth of the enormous penis’? It seems to more than a little hackneyed in my eyes, but every time they seem to trot it out. Is that racist? I hope not. Anyway, Amos has some really funny material, though the first half of the routine seems to be an amalgam of old stuff by Omid Djalili and Felix Dexter, playing the comedy foreigner. When he hits his stride though, laying into some members of the crowd for being too young to understand his early eighties references for example, he got a few belly laughs out of me. What better way to finish than some more Munnery though. In full Alan Parker stride, he manages to command the drunks far more convincingly than I thought he would manage. I’d never seen him heckled before and was worried that he’d lose the majority of the audience, but he dealt with it far better than I believed he could so nuff respect to the man. A couple of drinks after the show and then it’s back to beddy byes before the final day.

Friday – By this point I’ve realized how little money I have. Again, much of the day is spent in the house, not getting into town until early evening. This time it’s for the Umbilical Brothers – two more Australians putting on a show billed as ‘The Rehearsal’. This is a lot of fun, with them doing mainly physical comedy on the largest stage I’ve seen all week. They also have one or two gimmicks. One of these is a recurring plant in the audience, who turns up a couple of times. The other is some clever use of a large video screen at the back of the stage, so that one of them can appear huge and tower over the other. This leads inevitably into giant puppet bears who proceed to menace the actors, before taking over the whole show for its finale. The last show of the festival is ‘Not For The Easily Offended’, one of the shows Jerry Sadowitz is putting on this year. It is all that Sadowitz is supposed to be. Relentlessly offensive, bile fuelled, ranting from a man in a top hat. We end up trapped in the front row (we’d booked tickets in row B – there was no row A!), but thankfully there is no audience participation. It still means that some bile propelled sputum lands on my bare arm though. Some of the laughs are a little dubious; whether the audience are laughing at the preposterousness of Sadowitz’s character’s beliefs (which I think is the point) or agreeing with the foul invective he is screaming makes me wonder in hindsight. But at the time I just went with it and many laughs were to be had. The absence of magic was a little disappointing, but I think that was reserved for the other show. Then it’s back for an early night for the travel in the morning.

Christ knows what I’m going to write about tomorrow now. Here endeth the lesson.

Finally, Edinburgh (first bit)

August 28th, 2005 by

Okay, so I’ve got to wait an hour for this thing to download Adobe Reader (I have Photoshop but not Reader. What’s that all about?), so a week after my return seems like as good a time as any to try and get as much as I can remember down on paper, so to speak. Not as detailed the Glastonbury report, mainly because of my frustrations with this fucking space bar, but hopefully of some interest to some of you. Let us begin with Sunday.

Sunday – Arrive into the city around 19:30, 24 hours later than I had planned. I now officially hate buying train tickets. Meet people and head straight for theCity Restaurant. Fish and chips and the first pint of the night. Perhaps the first mistake. Continue drinking until going to watch ‘Spank!’, a late show that kicks off around 1:00. Can’t remember everyone on the bill, partly through intoxication. Comperes are annoying and occasionally naked. First bloke has floppy hair, some amusing lines and a funny song. Next is Richard Herring (whose hand I shook just before his arrival) who is a lot better than I had feared he might be. Read his blog, which I can’t be arsed to link too right now. Then the Trap (a sketch group I had seen before) do something funny with glasses up to the interval. I am by now very drunk. Robin Ince comes on next and is fairly amusing. I succeed in heckling him with an “Oh no it isn’t” shortly after a bit about pantomimes. Some laughs, but his bit about ChristopherBiggins afterwards gets more. Finally (though I might have missed someone out) we getTopping and Butch, two very gay men in red PVC suits doing comedy songs. A lotfunnier than it sounds and in thebar later I shout “Topping” at Topping, who chats to us for a while. I fear he finds me attractive, but leaves after a bit. Eventuallyget back to the flat about 5:00ish and tumble onto my mattress.

Monday – The day does not begin well. Every part of my body is screaming in agony, which doesn’t let up over the course of the day. First show of the day is a full performance by The Trap. Despite my occasional waves of nausea, it is another funny show, as good as memories of their previous one had been. And it was inthe same potacabin. Following much grumbling and a refusal by my body to eat anything, we head over to watch Jimeoin (sp?). This I enjoyed more than I had expexcted too, having found stuff I’d seen before to be a little patchy at times. But actually watching him in a live environment made it seem a lot funnier. Finally on to a late show, as my body began to regain some of its faculties. This time the Phat Cave (if only because of it’s genius posters). Compere Mickey D is extremely good at his job and has some inspired lines, which sound as if they’ve come straight from the top of his head, though may not have. He does also buy everyone in the audience a shot of tequila, so perhaps I’m biased. The acts in the first third are amusing, though there names escape me. The least funny picks me out of the audience for some back up during a joke about glasses (not literally – he speaks to me). Second third is given over to some Australian improvisers who haven’t worked together much. It shows. Sporadically amusing, but nothing incredible. The final third is weaker still. An interesting premise, getting comics to come on and do the first routine they ever did on the Fringe, but in execution it doesn’t work so well. Most of the jokes do sound like those of up and comers and the five year old topical bits quickly lose any amusement factor. Then it’s back to the flat again, for some fitful kippage.

Tuesday – Feeling a little better, I manage to rise from my pit early enough to get into town to watch Simon Munnery. I’ve yet to see him with an entire audience who seem to get what he is doing. The response was much better than a few years ago when I saw his Buckethead show, which toward the end had a spell of at least five minutes with nary a titter. The show has some very funny parts, and it’s good to see him back on form again. Plus guest appearances from Boothby Graffoe and Rob(ert) Newman. During the show I feel the temprature of the room rising exponentially, which I take for another onset of nausea. By half way through my shirt is half unbuttoned, serving to cool me slightly but also to feel embarrassed that someone is going to get a flash of my nipples. If they do they are gracious enough not to mention it. After this we attempt to get tickets for ‘An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman – Exposed’, but it is sold out. Instead we go to Brian Longwell’s ‘Why Work?’ He’s mildly amusing as he gives us his non-motivational talk, but there is little there in the way of belly laughs. After that it’s on to another late one, which I seem to have lost the ticket too and can’t quite remember the name of. I believe it had the wo r d shaken in the title. Anyway, it provides us with some jazz of an extremely high quality. This is punctuated with a variety of cabaret type acts, including the extremely funny Birdman, the self explanatory Strong Lady and some miserable bloke in the rafters with an acoustic guitar. The second half features a different band rattling through a few numbers – Mikelangelo & The Black Sea Gentlemen. Speaking in over the top Russianish accents (though for some reason I’m convinced they’re from Bromley), the onld style Russian folk songs that they kick out sound authentic, but with the added bonus of some over the top single entendres. Mikelangelo himself gives the greatest performance himself, periodically striding off into the audience, throwing a candle holder to the floor, getting onto the drum kit while everyone’s attention is diverted by the band (there were two stages, you see) and generally interfering with audience members. At one point he sits on my knee and strokes my beard. Uncomfortable doesn’t begin to sum up the feeling. After half a dozen numbers the original band return (can’t remember the name for the life of me) and round out the evening. This culminates in the drummer roaming off and playing everything in the room, including behind the bar. I think it’s probably quite an old trick, but it is carried off with some panache. After that, we all pile into a taxi and head back to base.

Right, Acrobat’s up to 99%, so I’m going to leave things there for now. Tomorrow I’ll try and finish things off. Cheers.

“There’s no such thing . . .”

August 27th, 2005 by

Not been as good about writing as I’d meant to be. It will improve I’m sure. Anyway, let’s have a true story to keep things interesting for a moment. Apologies if some words run together, but this space bar is extremely tempramental. A couple of weeks ago I passed someone I recognized as a local Big Issue seller pushing a trolley down a back street. He stopped and asked me for twentypence to buy himself some Rizla. Ordinarily I don’t givecash to strangers, but was in an uncharacteristically beneficial mood, so handed over the cash. At this point he gestured to the trolley and stated that Tesco had been throwing out loads of nearly off food into a skip behind the shop. At this point my mind arrived at a crossroads. One half of it felt sorry for the guy and more than a little ashamed that in this day and age some people are still forced to forage through bins to get enough to sustain themselves. Meanwhile, the rest of my brain was screaming out “Free food! Free bloody food! Get down there quick while there’s still some left!” I did walk past the skip on my way to my planned destination. I didn’t look inside. I have some dignity. Not much, but enough to avoid a free meal.

Scot Free

August 23rd, 2005 by

Finally, I am returned. Much fun seen and had in Edinburgh, so much so that my tiny brain is still trying to process it all. Slightly ballsed up my travel arrangements – managed to book train tickets going out a day later than planned and got stranded in Birmingham on the way home. Arrived there an hour late, only to discover that the last train back had left forty five minutes earlier. Got a taxi. Seventy quid. Paid for by GNER Trains (thank Christ!). Half the fun is getting there, my posterior. Anyway, I’m back with only a bit of a cold and an empty bank account to show for it. Blew my last seven pounds on a cable to plug myself into the internet. Seconds later it occurred to me that I could have bought food. Ah well, fasting never hurt anyone. Except for some people on hunger strike, I guess. They were asking for it anyway.

As you may have guessed from the above, I am with computer once more. This should hopefully mean a couple of things for this site. Posting should return to an even more regular basis, even on weekends. A History of Collecting should restart as soon as I can get the previous entries back in some way, so I can begin filling your lives with the endless tedium of my own all over again. When I get some speakers (managed to leave my old pair in a pub), I might get round to attempting some musical composition, which could possibly go up here. It’s more likely that it’s going to be appalling and will never leave my hard drive, but I shall persevere until the moment that I inevitably give up in frustration. Might try and do something with t-shirts too, but that’s even further away in the future at the moment. Apparently there are still people wanting an “Ask Alastair” section. God alone knows why, but I might consider it.

Still feeling a bit snotty, so I’ll cut this short. Might try and put some Edinburgh high points down in the next couple of days once my head has regained some semblance of lucidity. And I should probably point out that my chin is again a hair free zone. I abided by your decision and kept it for a week longer, but examining it on the Thursday morning decided it made me look like even more of a tit than normal (should such a thing be possible). Yet I still consider the experiment a success. I’ve proven that I can grow something that does resemble a beard. I’ve also discovered that I probably shouldn’t. Maybe in a year’s time my follicles will be able to produce wisps that look good. Until then my face will just have to stay naked. Except when I’m wearing the balaclava.

Who said “gimp mask?”

Results and More!

August 12th, 2005 by

Let us begin with a question asked by Jerry Sadowitz that I heard the other day. “What’s funnier than The Proclaimers dying in a car crash?” Answer to follow.

The polls closed at midnight Wednesday and since then a small army of volunteers have been counting the thousands of votes. Well, nine. Who says voter apathy isn’t taking hold? Three of those were offering me organ enhancements, so will probably go down as spoiled ballots. Not that that means I won’t be investigating them further. At least one of them was from an undisclosed mystery voter, which at least adds some mystery to the events, though I imagine it was probably from one amongst you who is known to me anyway. Some amusing comments with votes also. Particularly notable were these two that came in with pro beard casters: “BEARD! I like furry animals.” “Big fuck off Dubliners style beard! Go on you know you want to!”

So thanks to all of you who took part, shame on all of you who are letting democracy collapse around your ears even as we speak. SHAME I say! All that remains are the results. The anti beard group cast a total of two votes, there were three spoilt ballots, leaving (for those of you who aren’t too hot at the maths thing) the pro bearders with a whopping majority of four! Thus my chin will be continuing it’s slightly fuzzy status for at least a week longer. And it’s all because of you!

I couldn’t really think of anything that anyone would possibly want as far as free prize draw incentives go, but if any of the voters out there want my old Region 1 Clerks DVD, they’re welcome to it. First come and all that.

This is libel to be the last post for a week or so, as next week I’ll be steaming around Edinburgh, probably having my facial hair mocked by a bevy of Fringe comedians. Again, thanks for that. Might try and post while I’m up there, but it’s probably doubtful. Also I’ll be turning twenty-eight on the Friday, which is a depressing thought I’m trying not to dwell on. So let’s finish with some slander, to cheer me up if nothing else.

I say, I say, I say. Have you heard that Tom Cruise used to have a bird collection? I overheard someone saying that he’d had a cockatoo. At least, I think that’s what they said . . .

Enough. Gone.

“One of The Proclaimers dying in a car crash.”

Beard Poll

August 3rd, 2005 by

I’ve not mentioned that the second beard experiment of the summer is currently under way. What is perhaps most remarkable is the fact that it’s almost looking successful. For the first time ever I’ve managed to grow something which is more or less visible to the naked eye on my chin! The follicles work (except for those on the cheeks which still only seem to form eyebrow shaped tufts) – they’re almost visible from a distance! On a daily basis I’m having facial nerves I’d forgotten I had tickled in a faintly annoying fashion!

Which begs a question – Do I keep it?

And that’s where you come in, dear reader. Yes, it’s time for a poll. I’ve been racking my brains for months to try and think of some way to entice you swine to use the Contact icon at the top of the screen. Then this came to me in a flash of inspiration earlier today. You could be the one to decide the fate of my chin! Feel the excitement!

Here’s how we’re going to do it then. Click on the Contact thing and put either ‘SHAVE’ or ‘BEARD’ in the Subject box of the e-mail. Simple as that really. Only e-mails sent through the Contact bit will be counted – those of you who already have my address are asked not to use it. It’s an experiment you see. I’ll give you until Wednesday 10th August to give your opinion and once the thousands of results have been counted the future shape of my face will be known to the world at large. What more of an incentive do you need? I’ll have a think about a possible prize draw at the end, more of which later, if I can come up with anything . . .

Well? What are you waiting for? It’s not like it’s unimportant, like an election or something.

VOTE NOW!

Todays Top Tip!

August 2nd, 2005 by

If forced to wear the same trousers you spilt beer on the night before, don’t try to mask the odour by spraying your crotch with furniture polish. It will make you smell like an alcoholic Mr Sheen. This does not endear you to members of the opposite sex.

Gippy Tummy

August 1st, 2005 by

Been feeling poorly for the last twenty-four hours or so. Probably for one (or more) of these reasons.

1. Catching some sort of bug.

2. Something unpleasant bursting in my stomach.

3. Eating pasta sauce after a period longer than the three days it suggests you consume it in after opening.

4. Lame sea sickness bought on by being on a slow moving boat in a still river.

5. Eating some rainbow coloured bacon.

6. Sea creatures nesting under my skin (and possibly bursting).

7. Some sort of ulcerous growth spitting out toxins (and not necessarily bursting).

8. Hypochondria.

9. The slightly dubious prawns I ate on Thursday and will be eating more of today.

10. An embolism popping in my brain.

Maybe it was nothing, but the bit when I lost the feeling in my hands was a bit scary. Hopefully it’ll all pass soon. Unless it was the prawns.