What ever happened to the sideburns?

So back in April Logan’s Close played the Voodoo Rooms with a new addition of a keyboard player – fine. Next thing, the new pics on FB only show four guys, four plus one should be five? Was it an aesthetics thing – sorry only four to a photo, five would be too much!? The drummer with the great sideburns seems to be oot of the picture, literally. The Close have a new single out soon, no doubt they’ll play Edinburgh to herald it’s arrival, and we’ll see who’s in or out. Same drummer, new drummer, drum machine?!?

It’s reminded me of one of my favourite Fringe acts, Dead Cat Bounce. They wrote a rather magnificence song about the day they fired the drummer, performed at the end of the show literally as though the other three had just agreed earlier that day to fire him. Nine years later I still laugh when I hear it, absolutely brilliant, but then Dead Cat Bounce were top class comedy writers and performers as well as being great musicians. They would most definitely be one of my Desert Island Fringe Acts!

Ironically it was the keyboardist who left the band just over a year later. Sadly the remaining trio only played the Fringe one more time in 2012, it wasn’t quite the same without Mick; and it put Outsized Orthopaedic Shoe and Four Lads off the playlist, shame. In 2013 they called it a day, well, playing live, until in 2017 they apparently did a 10th anniversary reunion show, and there’s a DVD of it!! I must hunt one down. I shall keep on with the occasional stalk to see what they’re up to, in case they reform proper!

The Penny Dreadfuls, particular favourites of mine, were originally a four-man sketch show when my buddy and I first came across them in their Victorian sketch show Aeneas Faversham. It was our favourite show that year, silly, surreal, clever, witty, and thoroughly British! The following year they pulled it off again with Aeneas Faversham Returns, by George, even Bud’s elderly maiden aunt loved it, especially the Invisible Man sketch – the one part we feared she would disapprove of! Why? Specimen 626 had escaped from the lab and they had to find him, he was invisible, at least to them on stage, we could all see Specimen 626 who was stark bollock naked! He was prancing around, jiggling about between the others talking trying to put them off, he even did a cartwheel across the stage! By the following Fringe Jamie (aka Specimen 626) had left them. Had the naked cartwheels been too much for him? So 2008 saw the Penny Dreadfuls down to a trio for Aeneas Faversham Forever, and they’re still loosely together, every now and again popping up on Radio 4 and Radio 4extra, besides following their own solo careers, occasionally popping up at the Fringe. David Reed is up for  four nights with Inside the Comedian and of course, Thom Tuck is up as usual doing lots of silly things with lots of silly people.

Just to show you there were originally four Penny Dreadfuls and also what an awesome act they are……

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behold, the Penny Dreadful playing cards! Yes, they didn’t just do badges, they had decks of playing cards! Three years in a row! The chap at the back of the middle card is Jamie. I wonder what became of him? And can he still cartwheel?

 

Now how do I put it in my phone calendar?

Yay! Today those lovely people at Assembly finally announced that their Edinburgh Locals £5 Tickets offer was back on again this year. I wasted no time in re-checking my cuttings and making a decision which six to go for (there’s a maximum of six and up to the end of the first Sunday night). I quickly got it down to nine, but which other three to drop? Ummm.

As it’s his final tour ever (so he says), Stewart Francis: Into the Punset would have been a definite contender but that 8pm timeslot knackers up so many other shows so no; plus he’s doing a full run and is on the Friends of the Fringe 241 list, so I may get to see him later with a chum. Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds was a thought. Yes, I saw it last year but it is really good – and at only a fiver! On the other hand my cuz may pop up for a few days and he’d love them, and I’m already going to their Garage Party show.

Also dropped for now as it would be the wrong time of the Fringe, much more suited to be a final week show (no, I don’t know why, it just is) is the magnificently titled John-Luke Roberts: After Me Comes the Flood (But in French) drop splosh splash drip BLUBBP BLUBBP BLUBBPBLUBBPBLUBBP!!

So what has made it into my Fringe diary? The lovely Sarah Kendall with Sarah Kendall: Paper Planes, and it’s just occurred to me, yes, indeed, same time same venue as two years ago! Also from Oz The Long Pigs claiming to be “spine-tingling original theatre” showing at the Roxy, very few duds seen there. Staying antipodean, Laser Kiwi a surreal sketch circus troupe, at a fiver it’s worth a shot.

Fringe regular Guy Masterton is directing The Shark is Broken, apparently a true story set during the filming of Jaws (what else with that title?) It is at eleven on the Sunday morning which could be hard after Saturday night, but I’ll just have to force myself to go straight home after Nick Helm’s I Think, You Stink, a musical comedy horror at the Roxy. And finally those Silly Funny Boys the Sleeping Trees, I wonder if they know what it’s about yet?!

Ha, who needs 241 Monday and Tuesday? If I knew how to spell it, I’d spell a long, fruity, loud raspberry. Yeah, I’ll be well into my Fringe before they even come round (bitter? moi?)

Toodle pip!

 

In a darkened room …..

I’ve decided I should record Gotham and fill you in on how my Film Festival is going so far. So far it’s going well, I say well, this evening’s film didn’t really do much for me sadly. Bulbul Can Sing from India is a story about a teenage schoolgirl in rural India; it certainly showed teenagers are teenagers the world over. I did feel for Bulbul and wanted some happiness for her but towards the film seem to meander to a slow stop and I have no idea how Bulbul was feeling or coping at the end. Shame because I wanted to like it more, having said that it was a enlightening insight into a country, culture and life so different from my own, not wasted time by any means.

Back to Thursday evening and my first foray was to see Happier Times, Grumpy from Finland. (A quick pause to hum the old Python tune😊) Ah, that’s done. So, grumpy old man makes his own coffin, self-centred son plans to put him in a home, pregnant granddaughter runs away from her life to hide at grandad’s. There’s plenty more too it, plenty humour, though I wondered about the subtitles at times. I get that it may be a toss up between how much of a literal or colloquial translation is given; a different manner of speech may not make sense when truly translated but neither will it do the original line justice if it’s altered too much. I don’t think the subtitler of this film wanted to commit either way (that or it wasn’t a great script anyway – or again, that may be how they like it in Finland?!) Enjoyable? Yeah.

Bodies at Rest was set in a Hong Kong morgue on a very wet Christmas Eve. I went into the film not remembering any of the blurb in the programme, so on seeing the dark wet night, skeleton staff, morgue, jumpiness, I thought it was going to be a zombie movie (all those cadavers in body bags, fat man being autopsied, I was so convinced one was going to move) turned out to be an action movie. An entertaining action movie, plenty fighting, good comic moments, reasonable plot and a sweet pair to root for against the baddies. Oh wow, just noticed that the director is Renny Harlin of Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and Cutthroat Island, among others (I am one of the few who loved Cutthroat Island).

Blimey Charlie, it’s rather late, better wrap it up. I shall tell you about my Spanish adventures next time, but I will mention How to Fake a War, an Irish/ Georgian production; rock star gets his PR to fake that a war is still ongoing so that his peace concert can look like it brought about peace between the warring nations. Yeah, some of the plot was really stretching things (like a lame Radio Four comedy) BUT the  Georgian parts and the two female leads were great. Katherine Parkinson was just marvellous (as usual) and Lily Newmark was a joy as her character became more feisty and inventive. And there was a Q&A afterwards with the director Rudolph Herzog and, omg, Katherine Parkinson (looking gorgeous) both very delightful and interesting.

Okay, so if you’ve read previous posts20190622_195852 you’ll know this film is just teetering on the edge of inclusion, but hey, I saw Katherine Parkinson 😆

I was too tongue-tied to speak to her, such a big fan, but being close enough to snap this pic was a thrill ❤

 

 

Bears and foxes and sockses, oh my!

Yes, there’ll be bears and a fox and a pair of socks at the Fringe this year, yay! After a year off Goodbear are back with Dougal, no, not the dog, it’s the name of their new show. Oo, I might even make that a first night show, it’s always good to start well and I’m sure Mr Barnes and Mr Perryment will not disappoint me.

The Abbott and Costello of the sock world, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are back with Roll Up! I’ve been following their show development throughout the year on Facebook, bits have come and gone, and there’s plenty of video footage. I expect it honed to perfection by August!

And the Fox? Why, it’s my childhood hero Basil Brush! Apparently he sounds slightly different these days, but it was forty plus years ago when I was watching him on the telly. If only he’d come to the Fringe in 2015 – he could have met up with his old pal Rodney Bewes (this tablet wants to make him Rodney Beers! No, tablet demon, it’s Bewes). Mr Rodney was Basil’s side-kick in 1968, he’s the first one I can remember. After that there was Mr Derek, he stayed around a few years and was very good, but my favourite side-kick/straightman was Mr Roy, I loved it when he would grab Basil’s snout in exasperation to shut him up (while trying not to laugh).

Turns out Basil first appeared on telly as a support act to a magician before getting his big break with his own tv show. He was very influenced by Terry Thomas, he liked the charm and droll wit, and was always seen wearing a cravat (and comparing his clothes to now, he definitely had a better tailor back then, probably Saville Row). The stars were all queuing up to be on his show, Lulu, Cilla Black, Demis Roussos, to name a few, all eager to duet with him. Yes, Basil was so popular he even made a cameo appearance in The Goodies Rule-OK? 

Indeed, I shall have to go see the Fox, why, I learnt all my wit, humour and sarcasm from him (and Dougal, yes, the dog, and Brian). I wonder, will he still talk about Dirty Gertie from Number Thirty?! Does he still have that laugh? He must still use his catchphrase. Until next time, my friends,

Boom! Boom!

 

Well, that was a ride and a half!

And so tonight The Big Bang Theory finally came to an end (after which E4 announced they’re going to start showing it all again from the start). Gonna miss those guys! Sheldon Cooper must be my favourite comedy creation, closely followed by Niles Crane, both so brilliantly written and portrayed. Indeed, I used to watch Frasier as avidly as I’ve watched BBT these last twelve years. Even when Frasier was in the Friday 9pm slot my friends and I wouldn’t head to the pub until after it (mind, I would be oot til two o’clock or so).

It got me trying to remember what other american half hour comedy shows have had me so hooked over the years……

Roseanne immediately sprang to mind, okay so towards the end it seriously declined, but that is where my moose crush on Johnny Galecki began! I remember the hallowe’en episodes were always excellent. Grace Under Fire was another firm favourite, Home Improvement was around at that time, and Cybill, a show I loved for almost everyone in it apart from Cybill Shepherd (Christine Baranski was wonderful, of course). Oh yeah, Spin City too, Michael J.Fox was sooo, just sooo, yeah, moose crush time (and Jennifer Esposito was hot!)

I had videos recorded long play from the telly full of American comedies. The odd Married With Children episode thrown in as well. Crikey, almost forgot Third Rock From The Sun!! Wow, that was sooo funny and such a brilliant ensemble piece with great cameos (Christine Baranski and Laurie Metcalf to name two). Another connection – a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy) was briefly in Roseanne.

Later came My Name is Earl and Scrubs, then How I Met Your Mother. It took a while to get into HIMYM, but it sucked me in and by the sixth series I was seriously committed! Yeah, The Goldberg’s kinda pulled me in despite my lack of initial interest (I do like it when they have the people portrayed in it talking at the end).

But Bruce, what about Friends and Seinfeld? Seinfeld, I really did try, and it did make me laugh, but we just never gelled. Friends? They were on a break!! That’s when it lost me, oh I still watched but I was irked, the guys would, should have stuck by their bro, they were on a break, they were free agents. Wow, yeah, I’m still irked about that plotline now!

Two more classics that I adored, The Wonder Years and The Golden Girls. How come neither of them are being repeated on some channel?! They probably are, somewhere.

Ain’t it nice to look back on old loves!  Who would win a hissy fit fight – Niles or Sheldon? What new comedy show will grab Laurie Metcalf for a cameo? Whatever happened to Harry?Did any of your old favourites pop up here?

Toodle pip! Sweet dreams  x

 

….then the armadillo said to the bishop….

Hello peeps! No he didn’t – I have no idea what the armadillo said, which I suppose means he could have said it after all! Way back one of my first posts was about the effects of negative advertising on fringe-goers, this title is to test the effect of false advertising. If you’ve read this far and intend to continue on, well, yay!

So I happened to glance at one of the update Assembly emails and noticed that Sleeping Trees have gone for the Ronseal approach for their show this year; no messing just Sleeping Trees: Silly Funny Boys.  Indeed they cannot be done for false advertising, they are as funny as they are talented with silliness in spades, and the brilliance of a show title like this is it says everything about them but nothing about the show itself (most likely because they haven’t written it yet but wanted to get a good slot).

They have been very busy; last year’s Edinburgh Fringe show Sleeping Trees: World Tour is still touring the world, they were at the Adelaide Fringe earlier this month, then a quick hop to Melbourne before coming home to Blighty. Even then they still have a few performances to go. Phew! A new show, new ideas, new jokes must be quite an attractive prospect after such a long run. I can’t wait to see it!

Oh yeah, for those not familiar with old British tv adverts, the Ronseal tagline quickly became part of the vernacular “it does exactly what it says on a tin”.

Toodle pip!

A Poster Is Not The Show

See what I did there? I’ve heard it said that the songs in Mary Poppins Returns aren’t memorable – poppycock! Ok, so I don’t remember the words much but I often find myself humming them, even whistling them on occasion (when did whistling tunes go out of style?)  Anyways, the song A Cover Is Not The Book has been making Jeremy Lion, a bygone Fringe performer, pop into my head. Why? Because I judged and made presumptions about Mr Lion from the poster.

And here it is in all it’s glory!

2019-02-18 23.11.30Nothing about this poster appealed to me, not even the Perrier Best Newcomer bit – we hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye Pez and I about what funny actually is. This was 2003, the year of God Inc. the only show Bud and I had ever walked out of at that point, and not just because it was running an hour late!! The show we caught after God Inc was thankfully also running late, but it really wasn’t up to much and hadn’t been worth our mad dash to catch it. We’d also had the pain of watching April in Paris (see A Cautionary Tale), I was in no mood to waste more money on a dubious poster!

2019-02-18-23.23.15The following year Mr Lion returned with a new show; The Guardian described it as “Play School meets Hellraiser”. Actually on that description I’m surprised we didn’t give it a punt!

Looking at the posters again now, they are perfect for the show they were advertising; all the colours and tones have an old-fashioned, yester year feel. It’s the 50s and 60s and Butlins again (I do have vague memories of Butlins holidays as a young calf!) He’s the children’s entertainer who wants to be anything but that, but he keeps going with what he thinks is entertaining (and educational) with the aid of the odd drink or two or three or ……

So when he returned yet again in 2005 with Jeremy Lion – What’s the Time, Mr Lion? Bud and I decided we should give him a go, after all, three years in he must be doing something right! Even then we bought tickets for 241 Monday, 18:25 in Pleasance Beyond (by’eck I’ve seen an awful lot of shows in that hut over the years,  worth a post of its own at some point). OMG!!! One of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen to this day! So good we saw it twice, both immediately having agreed that we had to see the show on the last day to check if he was still alive!! Surely no-one could drink that copiously through an entire month and live to tell the tale?! We debated long into the evenings how much may not have been actual alcohol but decided he really was drinking that much, wow. We drank plenty ourselves at the time but even we would have been under the table against old Lion! And the belching – he could have done a masterclass, such was his talent. It wasn’t just about the drinking and the belching though, it was a brilliantly conceived, written and performed show. Total Fringe. We both felt thoroughly miffed with ourselves that we’d poo-pooed his previous shows.

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Did he come back again? He reappeared in 2010 moving over to the other Pleasance presence the Dome. It had taken five years to have sobered up and now be looking back fondly thinking what fun to do it again. Mind in those five years he’d got older, could the liver take such punishment again? He now had the very enchanting Lucy Porter as a wife and a child on the way (she was at show we went to, looking very pregnant). Ah, she’s married to Justin Edwards, Jeremy’s alter-ego, I’m not sure there’d be many takers to be Mrs Lion. He’d obviously taken time to reflect on life, the world, the times, and so his final Fringe show was Jeremy Lion Goes Green, an environmentally-aware show, which as usual with Lion went awry with arguments with his pianist, daft props and, of course, drinking. We did murmur to each other that he wasn’t drinking as much, until, to quote from my Fringe diary “Finding bottles of Malibu in his bit of the desert was the start of the end and the finale was a marvellous rendition of Ten Green Bottles that he decided should be ten empty bottles to recycle – so he drank a lot of them.” I notice I said “a lot” rather than “the lot”, well, the mother of his child was looking on 😆

 

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Post Fringe Blues

Hi folks! I’m writing this from the doldrums, the pit of despair, aka postfringe-Edinburgh. Motivation is currently a four-letter word. My get-up-and-go got up and left with the Fringe and all it’s accoutrements. My joie de vivre has taken on the tone of Marvin, “Life? Don’t talk to me about life.” Was it only six days ago it all ended again? I was still in full Fringe-mode this time last week (eleven o’clock Sunday night).

This time last week in the rather warm Monkey Barrel 2, I was trying to see round a rather large gentleman to watch some bad wrestling matches. Yes, I finally got round to going to Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches and can confirm you need know nothing about wrestling to enjoy this show. It may help to know something or be a fan, but just an enjoyment of hilarious video clips is enough, and the banter between Burns and Cabana is a joy to behold, like some old married couple. There were a few guests on to add to the mix and chat, the last of which was John Hastings; he must always have a lot of posters up as I’ve never seen him but I knew who he was  (unlike the other guests).

Then, what happened at the very end of the show made me very glad I’d finally gone ….. Brendon announced it would be his last time of co-presenting it!! His reason being he’s getting old – er, 47?! Old? It was quite touching the emotion in the room, while everyone tried to stay very manly about it! Ya big softies! So I’m very glad I finally made it to BBACCDCACTBWM for Burnsy’s swansong, now I wish I’d been earlier, like six years earlier.

Toodle pip!

A walk on the fringe side

Last night walking through the Cowgate, Fringe posters everywhere, I got to pondering if someone was trying to remember a recommendation …. “I remember it’s John, yes definitely John, the surname was something like Roberts, or possibly Robertson? What’s that? John-Luke? Oo, not sure, the guy said he was very good. Huh? Roberts? No, I think it was Robertson. Well, they’re both comedians, how different will they be?” Well, sir, they are very different, just like porters and golden ales are both beers but one style is bogging whilst the other is rather nice; pick the wrong one and the result may leave a rather unpleasant taste! Personally, of course, I enjoy both Roberts and Robertson but I don’t like porters.

Earlier today after seeing Scary Story at Paradise in the Vault I headed home the roundabout way down the Royal Mile, now the last chance saloon for flyerers desperately trying to drum up one last audience. Also walking along was one of the silent disco walking tours, yeah right, silent?! They dance around singing loudly and badly to the amusement/annoyance of other pedestrians. Today I happened to catch their rendition of Sheena Easton’s 9 to 5, damn them, it’s still in my head! And I remember all the words, oh the shame!

Let’s make it a threesome, yesterday afternoon heading from the Gilded Balloon up the Royal Mile I happened upon a chap typing up instant poetry on the street. Ho, I thought, never had a poem written just for me, so I commissioned him to tap something out. Him was Ben, a lovely American chap who’d seen it done in New Orleans and decided to give it a whirl himself. We had a lovely chat, enjoying the late afternoon sun as the world passed by. Here’s his endeavours, a new treasure to add to my Fringe Box.