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Dan Wright: Michael Jackson Touched Me

July 23, 2012 |

Hello there readers! How are you? Good? Good.

We recently caught up with Dan Wright, a professional funny man who you may know from such shows as Big Brothers Big Mouth, Big Cook Little Cook and if you’re a warm blooded oxygen-breathing male, Nuts TV. He and his partner Steve Marsh make the tour-de-force that is ‘Electric Forecast’, a double-act that we learn have exciting things in store for us.

His talents transpose both on and off-screen into stand-up comedy. Dan has been an Edinburgh fringe festival regular since 2001, and in 2010 Dan won the Laughing Horse new act of the year award, a prestigious string to the bow of any comedian.

This year he brings to us his new show ‘Michael Jackson touched me’. He talks to us about this, a woman blowing chunks at a gig in Watford, and why you shouldn’t let your 3 year old watch ‘adult’ channels.

For your viewing pleasure.

Hi Dan. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. So, you have a comedy face. Do you think you would be just as funny if you looked like say, Gordon Ramsay?

Yes I would. Funnier in fact, because then I could talk about how ridiculously similar I look to Gordon Ramsey. I’d certainly get heckled more. I’d just respond by telling them all to ‘Fuck off’!

What would you say if I told you that you looked like a tall Eric Idle?

It’s funny; people have said that before. And apparently I sound and act a bit like him too. Maybe I’m his secret love child. I’m not, I have a legitimate father.

‘Funny.co.uk’ described your partnership with Steve Marsh as a striking one. What do you think it is that makes the two of you work so well together?

We’ve known each other for the best part of 15 years. We share a similar sense of humour and feed off each other really well. We’ve always been mates before work colleagues.

We’re developing a sitcom together.

You started doing stand-up in 2001 and still perform today. What is the weirdest gig you’ve ever done?

The weirdest gig I have ever done was in a pub in Watford.

The football was on in one corner, there was a fight going on in the other and some woman was throwing up in-between. My jokes surprisingly weren’t the main focus of the audience.

You presented Big Brother’s Big Mouth, but would you ever consider going into the house?

No, I don’t plan on ending my career just yet. I’m just getting started.

You are soon to start filming on a new sketch show for CBBC called ‘FIT’ and have also presented Nuts TV. Bit of a contrast, don’t you think?

Yeah, there’s no deliberate attempt to go from one extreme to the other. I just happen to have done a lot of different stuff. A parent once complained that she’d seen me on Nuts TV with her small child. Why is she watching Nuts TV with her 3 year old son? Take a look at yourself love?

I’m really excited about the new sketch show. It’s being made by the producers of Horrible Histories.

I’ve noticed your upcoming Edinburgh show ‘Michael Jackson Touched Me’ is to be performed without Steve. What’s happened there?

Steve and I stopped doing stand-up together a few years ago. I think with every double act there’s a ceiling. We both wanted to do other things and to be honest; it’s much more fun on my own. I can talk about what I want to talk about; hence the new show; ‘Michael Jackson touched me’. It’s all about my life-long obsession with Michael Jackson and whether I should finally stop bothering people about him.

Last year you performed with Northern sensation Tony Jameson. What’s the background there?

I didn’t know Tony until I put an advert out asking if anyone wanted to share an hour with me. We didn’t perform together on stage. I just wanted someone who would fit the theme of the show.

Tony was the best man for the job. Lovely chap too. Really enjoyed working with him.

The movie ‘Alien’ was famously sold in 3 words as ‘Jaws in space’. Could you do this for ‘Michael Jackson Touched Me’?

Dickheads in public. Come and watch it, it’s on at The Gilded Balloon at 9.30 throughout August.

You can purchase tickets for the show here.

We’d like to thank Dan for his time to answer our questions and we wish him the best of luck with his Edinburgh show.

Katie Yossarian: Catch Comedy Showcase

July 19, 2012 |

Katie Yossarian has organised the second Catch Comedy night and this time will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. This showcase will be presenting North-East England’s finest comedic talent. Whilst each act is individual in itself, they all share something in common – they’re bloody hilarious! Be prepared to expect a more than varied show each day from the likes of Simon Donald, Kunt & the Gang, Slap & Giggle, Sean McLoughlin, Lost Voice Guy, Dan Mitchell, Jeff Truth, Steven ‘friz’ Frizzle and more, including brand new acts. Given such a great lineup we decided to have a chat with Katie about her own set and the story behind deciding to orgainise this event.

How did you get into comedy Katie? Was it something you’d always wanted to do or did you fall into it unexpectedly?

I’d been writing songs about rubbish dates I’d been on, working on building sites and other things for quite a while & had always been involved in music open mic nights since I came up to Newcastle in 2006 for university. I’d go along, do a few covers & then play one of my ‘funny’ songs and people really seemed to enjoy them, but I’d never thought about doing stand up proper until I went to Edinburgh Fringe in 2011. One of my friend was doing a show with a guest every day and invited me to come and play one or two of my songs, so of course I jumped at the chance and took a week off work. I was so excited! Imagine me playing some of my daft songs at a proper festival! I chucked my keyboard into the car & drove up to Edinburgh. However, when I got there I found out that my friend had become ill and was in hospital (he’s ok now). I was advised to go to the venue to meet the other ‘guests’ and between us we just decided to carry on with the show. One of the organisers asked me if I fancied a proper slot and, despite having basically no material, I said yes. I’d been gradually increasing the introductions to my songs, making up stories about the people in them – I’d never thought of it as standup. So it didn’t seem much of a stretch to write a short set, sitting in my youth hostel, on Monday & Tuesday. Wednesday I was obviously shitting myself, but I had a few pints and went onstage! It went down a lot better than I expected (‘oh my God, people are laughing!’) so I returned every day for the rest of the week. It just seemed natural to carry on once I got back to Newcastle. The people I’d met there were already experienced comedians, and, because we were with each other almost constantly all week, we became friends very quickly. They were so supportive when I got back home, helping me find gigs, it was awesome.

How did the Catch Comedy Showcase come to be?

I really fancied putting on a special one-off night for my birthday in March. It originally started off as a simple idea – I’d sit there getting drunk and having fun in a small venue while me and a group of mates enjoyed a small, hand-picked selection of my friends perform. By this point I knew quite a lot of entertainers, including comedians, street performers, dancers, magicians, sketch artists etc. I was going to charge a small entrance fee and donate it to charity.

However, little ideas soon turn into big ideas & I suddenly found myself in charge of 10 support acts, a lovely headliner – Gav Webster, a large and very classy venue and an aim to raise £400. You know how it goes. I must admit, I really don’t remember much of the night. I only decided to go on and perform myself that night after peer pressure from my family who had never seen me before. I was too busy sorting out the music, the drinks, talking to my friends, running round like a mad’un.. to actually sit and relax. But I’ve been told it was pretty good, so that’s a relief. We raised over £500 for Breast Cancer Research!

Did you set it up by yourself or was it a joint venture with various comedians? Had you organized anything like this previously?

I suppose Catch Comedy as a ‘thing’ was my idea, but I couldn’t have done the night without the support of my friends and family. I know it sounds soppy, but I just had no idea how HARD it would be to run a night! Everyone makes it look so easy! I have to say that without the support of the wonderful Graham Oaks (the MC) I would have broken down and wept, and my family were great on the door, taking money & dealing with the charity raffle.

To answere your other question, no, I’d never organized anything like this in the past. I’m still slightly amazed with how it all went, I suppose it was quite an ambitious thing to do on my first try!

You have a great lineup of comedians. How did you go about choosing them and getting them all involved?

I guess I’m lucky to have such a talented group of friends! Seriously though, I’ve been doing this comedy thing for a year now & I am constantly amazed at all of the hilarious people I meet every week. It was quite tough to choose people, but I had a good idea of who I definitely wanted on. The good thing about comedians is that they’re a nice, fun-loving bunch (on the whole) and very rarely turn down the offer of a decent gig, especially if it’s for a good cause. I’d known Simon, Kunt and Dan for a while, so I just sent them a quick email & they were happy to help out. I’m in this comedy thing for the enjoyment of it, and I must say that the majority of it is getting out to gigs and meeting funny people – I’m just chuffed they all want to perform alongside me.

It must be seriously hard work sorting out your own act whilst organising everything else. How do you manage to juggle it all together?

I have honestly not thought about it that way! I see the two very separately; I’m just another act on the show. I will be hosting it, MCing I suppose, but I do hope to go on and do a proper set a couple of days. I suppose it doesn’t really matter if I don’t, because I’ve been invited to do other nights other than my own: Funny Filles, Funny’s Funny and Laughterholics so far, but I am hoping to get a few more as well.

I’d say the most difficult thing is juggling my full-time job (I work in engineering. We’re currently refurbishing powerlines for the National Grid, fun eh?) and comedy. Seriously, coming home after a full day and then managing to get myself out to gigs and things can be quite hard. Even harder is getting there and being awake enough to give a decent performance!

What about your own set? What can we expect to see from you, and how often will you be performing?

Well the thing about my set is that it’s fairly interchangeable. I’m a mixture between anecdotes and stories, musical stuff and ‘traditional’ standup. I rarely do exactly the same set each time, because I get bored. I do feel a bit jealous of acts who have a ‘set’ that is perfect and polished each time, but I enjoy mixing my material up.

I guess I’ll just have to say – I’ll see how I feel on the day! What you can definitely expect, though: Being the only girl on the building site, how it feels to be from Hull, the delight of the job centre and a couple of dodgy jokes about pirates. It’s gonna be good.

Have you performed your Fringe preview shows yet, and, if so, how have they gone down? Pretty much sorted for the main event or does it still need a bit of fine tuning?

Yes, I’ve done a couple – Laughter Surgery, Long Live Comedy and so on. I’m not sure about the rest of the comedians out there, but to be honest I’ve been treating every gig from about May and all the way up til August as a preview show! I know a lot of comics have an hour-long set that’s just them, so preview shows are important, but I’m not doing it that way this year so they haven’t been stressful for me. I’m just going to be doing my normal set & I’m mostly happy with it.

Like I said before, I do enjoy mixing my material up & I am constantly writing new songs and material, so obviously the new stuff needs a bit of practice before I unleash it on the general public! I’d say I was mostly prepared in myself, but I am getting a bit nervous on the MC front. I think I’m just going to go onstage, be friendly and focus on introducing and encouraging the acts.

It’s also great to see you’ll be supporting Macmillan Cancer Support this year. What made you decide to donate to this charity in particular? Apart from going to your gigs, how can people support this charity?

Thanks! Well, the way I see it is, I already have a job, and because I have so many acts I’m not going to make enough to give anyone anything substantial, so I might as well do something good with it. My charity of choice last time was Cancer Research, so I wanted to do something similar again. I, along with most people I know, have seen how fucking devastating cancer can be. Recently I’ve had a few friends who have been given the all-clear, but I have also had friends who weren’t that lucky. So I suppose Macmillan is relevant to my interests, and lots of other people’s too.

Aside from buying tickets (50% of sales profit will go to charity) and putting money in donation buckets at the gig (100% to charity), I have a justgiving page! So even if you can’t make it to Edinburgh, please think about throwing few pennies in this direction:

http://justgiving.com/catchcomedyedinburgh

The good thing about justgiving is that you can GiftAid your donation, which means more money for charity & less for the taxman! Hurrah!

Which shows, apart from your own, are you most looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?

I CAN’T WAIT to see East End Cabaret at the Fringe again this year! I saw them twice in 2011 and they are one of the funniest shows I have ever had the pleasure to watch.

Apart from that, I’m planning to go to as many of my friends’ shows as possible, most of whom are doing sets on mine. I reckon most of them have only agreed to do Catch Comedy so they can pimp their own shows out, but that’s fine with me!

Dan Mitchell: Free Egg

Simon Donald’s School of Swearing

Kunt & The Gang

2Facebooked 3

Jeff Lantern’s Truth Explosion

Lost Voice Guy

Sean McLoughlin

Making Life Taste Funnier

Oyster Eyes

I’m sure there will be more. Last year I just got into the spirit of things & ended up wandering into shows and having a great time. Can’t wait!

Thanks very much to Katie for spending a few moments with us. We highly recommend you check out some of the shows she is putting on at this year’s Fringe as there really are some great acts lined up, herself included.

See you there.

Update: There has been a slight change of plan and the show will now run from the 13th until the 17th at Cafe Camino, 7.30pm. Unfortunately Kunt and the Gang have had to be removed from the lineup but you can still catch them at their own Fringe shows.

 

Ed Surname: Wrestling From Rags to Having People in Stitches

July 11, 2012 |
The Madness Magnet, Ed Surname has been filming every moment of his waking life for over 10 years with a view to sharing his crazy situations that he seems to naturally attract, all the while creating an introspective case study of what it’s really like to follow dreams showbiz dreams. Ed can say “been there, done that, bought the T-shirt” for pretty any situation you can imagine.
He first became a wrestler, under the pseudonym, Matt Skillz, mentored by and living with none other than Jake “The Snake” Roberts. His wrestling carrer involved years of travelling, with 10 hour round trips to 3 hour gruelling lessons. Out of sheer dedication, he never missed a single week. Ed took the last ever bump in a WWF arena, had the final photo on Earth with Yokozuna and amassed a massive $20,000’s worth of wrestling merchandise.
Despite this fascination, his wife can consider herself extremely lucky to have a husband who says he is even more obsessed with spending time with her. Once he met her, all the travelling stopped temporarily in favour of a comedy career, which seems to be taking off rather nicely. He also hosts a radio show, the Standup Sitdown, interviewsing comedians to share their insight into following showbiz dreams with listeners. Ed also recently appeared on our Dot Com(edy) Spot, and, as it’s not every day you meet someone who’s filmed their entire life, we were more than eager to have a chat with him to share this unique journey with you.

When did you realise you wanted to document your entire life and how much of your life has this project consumed in terms of filming/editing?
At 7 I decided to be an entertainer (subject to personal opinion!) and wanted to record that pursuit for myself, but in those days it was just photos and tape recorders. I got a video camera at 17 which was really big; it was before everybody had one on their phone. It’s easy to forget we didn’t always have them in our pocket. I also wanted to record my life due to naturally attracting mad situations. The two pursuits merged and now my career is sharing mad things that happened to me. However, it’s also the first case study of someone’s entire journey into showbusiness with every single step filmed.
Since the filming covers my personal life, filming is all-consuming (I’m filming me writing this right now). Editing is probably 60 hours a week- though I have so far only released just under 100 shows.
How do you manage to film so much of your life whilst maintaining a fresh approach?
Assuming I do keep it fresh, it’s cuz I go through different career stages- there has been wrestling, on the street bits, family bits, sketches, stunts, radio, stand-up, then running my own comedy night. I also put a twist on whatever I do, like at my comedy night I interviewed acts on stage after their sets. I have so many plans I’ll likely never complete them all.
How do you manage to strike a balance between showbusiness and family life, particularly as you film so much of your life?
My wife is extremely supportive which grounds it. But honestly, I couldn’t find a balanace for ages. It affected family life but the project itself doesn’t shy away from that, so the struggle has become part of the story. The sheer magnitude of the project is lost on some people, who are perhaps expecting a few YouTube sketches. It’s an intimate case study that looks at literally every step of my journey into showbusiness- first payment, first TV appearance etc, and all of my family’s feelings on them. With other performers you hear in retrospect about how it affected family life. With me, you see it. It’s never been done.
Has no one ever said that you were over obsessive with this project? You even tried tracking everything down even if someone took a photo and your leg was in the distant background. Surely this is going a bit too far. What did these people say once you tracked them down? Anyone ever call the cops?
Oh yeah it’s totally over the top, I’ll be the first to say! Then again, nobody on the planet is doing my project so I have to draw my own lines. I pursued some photos which ended up becoming integral to my project, making me lose perspective and pursue everything. Luckily, there has been no cop-calling, largely due to the fact that my politely requesting photos hasn’t been considered a criminal offence, no matter how frequent.
The most difficult pursuits have been recordings of when I performed in Daytona Beach and also when I fell off a wall in St. Ives while I had my arm in a sling. Two pretty unique recordings that I still haven’t got, that are really needed for the project. However, the project as a whole can never fail- I simply made a chapter covering how I became obsessed, and another chapter exploring how if you’re doing a personal project, it’s an uphill struggle when dealing with people who don’t understand it. My case study is difficult by its nature but also explores the concept of how it is difficult to implement difficult case studies. It looks at itself, and it was all born out of being obsessive. 
Having said that, it appears that your persistence has paid off. For example after three solid years trying to get into a magazine you did eventually manage it and from that appearance you got a deal to license out your videos. What would you say to anyone trying to get recognition in the showbusiness world?
That literally every step is a fight and the equivalent of a job interview IF you are wanting things on your terms. I’m saying that from my own experience and from the experience of every show business personality that I like, who have said the same. Also, one needs to personally define recognition: there are amazing artists that have no mainstream recognition and all that matters when the sun burns out is if you had a great time.
Which “pitches” have been the biggest failures, to date, with regards trying to get into magazines/television/radio?
The hardest ones to take aren’t blunt rejections, they’re the ones where everyone means well but to no avail. I had a TV company that really, really understood the project and were going to develop it with me, but they went into liquidation.
You could say that you learn from everything so nothing is a failure. But comforting philosophy aside, I considered it a bad day when I had a TV pitch go down well for a pilot but was then hit with a £16,000 bill at the eleventh hour if it was to go ahead. I declined, gutted, but then remembered I had a project where every disaster is my latest storyline.
You have had “nine near death experiences”. Can you enlighten us a bit about these? Where they all the result of your life filming master plan or did some of them happen by chance?
Firstly, thanks for generously referring to this crazy endavour as a master plan!
The near death experiences were all from filming…
1. We went to film some layabouts at a holiday resort and planned to invite one back to our hotel then wake up the hotel manager. But we got lost in a drug dealers den and held up with knives.
2. I was attacked by a gun maniac.
3. I nearly fell off a car park during a photo shoot.
4. I had no choice but to take a car ride with someone who went 90mph down a one-way forest road. At night. The wrong way.
5. In Florida I found myself trapped up a tree with venomous snakes at the bottom.
6. I am allergic to bees and was stuck on top of some castle ruins while a swarm surrounded me.
7. I went running at night when I lived in Florida. I was told not to, something I later saw sense in when I was met in the dark by a massive animal that I managed to run away from into the house.
8. I jumped off a 30ft bridge.
9. There have been many suicide overdoses (so, more than 9 near-deaths). Sorry to lower the tone, but they are part of my history.
I also hear you had a stalker and rather than seeking a restraining order you actually developed a stage show with him. How did all of this come about? When did you find out you had a stalker and how did you approach them regarding the stage show? Were they willing to work with you?
He met me under the proviso that he was a TV producer, but it became apparent that wasn’t the case. In the following weeks I was bombarded with 4am calls and did have to call the police when he threatened suicide if I didn’t work with him. However, in an untold part of the story he actually got me a show business job at the place he was doing an internship at, which was too good to turn down, therefore I was around him by default. Fast forward to months later when I was developing a stage show, I wanted to focus on the stalker as a storyline. As things with the stalker had calmed down, it crossed my mind that it’d be different to blur reality and have him involved as himself. Development began and he was willing, but he was ultimately too difficult to work with so the script remains on the cutting room floor- though I haven’t hired a cleaner just yet.
You also take a lot of your filming out on the street. What are the most memorable “stunts” you have played out in the public and how do passers by react to you?
Passers by are supposed to react with confusion if I am, for example, singing a song with a trolley attendant after having convinced him to wear tape on his face and abandon his workday. Of course, that’s the intention. Most memorable would be visiting a gun maniac at 3am, who really could have shot us. The first time we visited he hadn’t yet bought a gun- but he did punch me in the face and run after us with fire tongs. This aspect of the show isn’t hidden camera, it’s me leaving my common sense at home then making a ‘school project’ with anyone that’s around, about anything that’s confusing.
You have your own radio show “The Standup Sitdown” where you chat with comedians about their journey through business and what it all entails. How did you end up doing this show? What were some of the biggest surprises you have heard from some of your guests?
Though a development of my psychoanalytical exploration of my own journey where I could now explore other, the real intention was to network in London and meet influential people. And that has happened better than I could have hoped for, though it’s no accident. I’ve been surprised that every single guest has been really interesting and introspective about the craft of comedy. Nobody has been disappointing. It started when I had an interview on the station about my 500 hours of footage. They spoke about me doing my own show; I had a printed pitch ready. That’s obsession for you.
On the back of your interviews with comedians, you turned your hand to becoming a stand-up comedian yourself. How has that gone for you? Was it all you expected it to be?
Yes and no. The bad thing is that when labelled as a stand-up, people expect all your other content to be always hilarious, when most of my videos are me sharing my feelings about my journey and not meant to be funny at all. I wanted to have stand-up as a way to vent things that really happened to me. Those things may be funny in real life if you consider that they actually happened but a stand-up audience expects a punchline and doesn’t care or always believe they really happened. Therefore its not always the right outlet for me personally. But there have been big promotors that have been very complimentary, therefore in many ways it’s taken off more than I planned.
Although comedians seem to the the happiest people on stage, they are only human and obviously many can become depressed. You filmed some depressive periods of your life. Is it not difficult to now watch these videos of some of the hardest moments in your life? What message did you want to get across by filming the “downs” of your life?
On the contrary it’s very uplifting to see how things can be turned around. The footage shows this is possible and this is now my motivation for including them in my show, though at the time I was just filming out of habit. Comedians especially seem prone to depression, but mental health in general needs to be talked about more. Apathy is part of the problem, so I can’t consider working with these filmed moments a difficult thing.

We’d like to than Ed for his time with us and hope to have him back with is in the near future.

You can keep up with all his latest antics over on his website.

Clair Myychael: Charlie Nicholas Bought Me an Ice-Cream

July 10, 2012 |

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is right around the corner and PPSF will interviewing as many acts as possible throughout July.

First up is Clair Myychael who will be presenting “Charlie Nicholas Bought me an Ice Cream”, which has been described as a comedy mash-up, featuring character comedy, sketches, stand-up and a severe blend of Sillyness-ness-ness! The show also includes Anna Devitt of Direct Devitt “Mammy” and “Rooney and me” and will be proudly introducing the newest quirky writer, Lewis Brameld, with Chris Bain stand-up and actor providing support. It’s dark, it’s light, it’s downright ridiculous… and everything inbetween! I had a chat with Clair to find out what’s in store.

You wrote, directed and performed in two shows for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August last year. How did they work out for you? It must have been a struggle to get two shows prepped simultaneously.

It was indeed a struggle! The cast were all relatively young, so the majority of the PR and advertising, organizing and orchestrating, lay on my shoulders. I was just doing my final exams and assessments in performance and acting, so life was hectic. I had improvisation workshops and worked closely with the cast, carefully assessing strengths, weaknesses, accents, special talents and quirks. I didn’t even begin to write until I had undergone this process… Basically, anything that could be brought to the table and contribute to the flavor of the show, I wanna know about it and I want to include it! … Did I mention that I could no longer afford my ridiculously large mortgage? Yeah, so I was evicted from my home at 10am on the day of the Fringe launch… I was in Edinburgh that night…all singing, all dancing!  How the hell I pulled that off I will never know! But I did!

Can you tell us a bit about ‘Soliloqueen’ and “Tis merely a F-Arse!”. What brought you to write a book of monologues?

When I wrote Tis merely a F-Arse, it was tailor made for the cast, including monologues for all, comedy sketch, character stand-up and ridiculous moments of improvisation. I wanted the audience to truly be unaware of what was going to happen next! To start the show I wrote a whodunit type farce called ‘Crème de Passionel’ inspired by a book on crimes of passion. Set in an English Manor with 3 of the cast in RP and myself as a dithery old house-maid from Scotland. I sabotage every murderous attempt as the seemingly unaware Agyness, building up to a rollercoaster of events which leave only one survivor. The rest included a jail cell in Dublin with a talking spider, a mandarin translator dance scene, a hoity toity scene which is graphic in a very matter of fact way, a Spanish household scene where the wife is bored with her lot, an Australian who ends her marriage as her man is mid-flow, based on advice she received from a psychic, Agyness, the maid, revealing her true colours in a stand-up manner, becoming filthier and filthier. It also included a scene with a real gangster feel, where a New York surgeon becomes enraged that his wife is planning on new breasts with another surgeon behind his back, an office bitch who has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand and a scene called ‘The Therapist’ where the only marriage advice given, happens to be song titles.

On the other hand, Soliloqueen was my baby, set aside for me! As a student I felt the same monologues were being performed everywhere and choices were limited. I wanted to create a book of 50 cool, quirky, funny and thought provoking monologues. I set out to perform so many on each night, whilst leaving some time to play around with my own stand-up and presenter/compere skills. It was tough, but it was a huge achievement! Especially as I had the other show running. That said, I picked a fabulous cast who are front runners with spectacular roles and projects ongoing.

I hear you have a screen play up your sleeve. I’m intrigued.

Ahaaaa, Plagiarism is rife!! Let’s just say…. It has never been done!

You were also a former international gymnast. Has this helped you in the world of comedy in any way? It’s a bizarre change of professions. How did this come about?

It’s the reason why I do it! As a gymnast, I was in the gym, training and travelling the country on a constant basis. Discipline is instilled from a very young age. I was in the Commonwealth Games squad, training for Canada and I broke and dislocated my finger in three places.  I was 21 at the time, so thought it best to retire. Life was alright for a while. I discovered Southern Comfort and dabbled with menthol cigarettes. Mild rebellion! However, I started to feel there was a massive void in my life. Something was missing and it took me years to work out what it was. There just seemed to be this massive void! As a gymnast,  I was a performer. When you do a floor, beam or bars routine, or run down to execute a perfect vault, all eyes are on you! You do it to entertain. You do it to shock. You do it to impress, to clown around, to be playful, and because it just feels so damn good! Package that together for adults in a way that’s deemed acceptable, and there you have it:  Comedy!

You were a bit hesitant to do stand-up out of low self-confidence I hear. How did you manage to overcome that and get yourself up onto the stage all on your lonesome?

Hahaha, easy….I got a divorce, and re-discovered my own strength.

It must be a real struggle to travel around the country performing whilst having two kids to look after. How do you manage this?

With blooming great difficulty! That said, my mother lives close by and she is a hermit! Sadly, we witnessed my father’s unexpected death together: Me, my Mum and my two kids, out of the blue, one day 5 years ago, from a heart attack on the floor of the conservatory. It all but destroyed my mother, so having my kids around is her therapy and keeps her going. My Dad and I had the same warped sense of humour. It’s a pain in the ass he ain’t here to run through my stand-up sets. He would have vodka and heckle me and tell me it was good practice!

So what can you tell us about your new Edinburgh show this year “Charlie Nicholas Bought me an ice cream”? What surprises do you plan this time round?

More of the same nonsense, with Anna Devitt, the main face of our Direct Devitt team and Chris Bain a relative newbie. I see enormous potential in him, and picked him because I am like that. The kid needs a break and Auntie Clair is gonna give him the chance (Not his real auntie. No relation. Just how I am known by the masses). This show will be heavier on the stand-up, but with characters, sketches and flashes of the absurd. The title is a line from one of my characters, Karyn Whytebread, a fat Olympics hopeful who’s bonkers! “ Charlie Nicholas bought me an ice cream… I was a minor at the time”.  It’s actually true. He did buy me an ice cream, in Largs, when we were training at the national sports centre in Inverclyde. Any surprises will be kept for during the show.

How have the previews gone? Will you be changing much of what you have down on paper now or did it all go really well?

We have performed sections of the show on several occasions and the feedback has been what we wanted. Full previews will be done in S.P.A.C.E in Glasgow and Behind the wall in Falkirk. We can’t confirm all the dates yet as we have 3 shows per day in Henley to contend with first.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?

I would love to see a show called “The ghost of fringes past” you know? With the Monty Python team, Bill Hicks, folks like that. Nothing too extravagant. Ha! But that ain’t gonna happen. In truth I like to catch as many as I can and get most excited when someone new struts on up and blows me away!

What’s the first thing you’ll do once you get to Edinburgh?

The usual… eat, organize even more open spots to my schedule, then flier like a mad-man!

How will you celebrate the end of your run at the festival?

With filming, two days later, once the Bollinger has left my system!

 

Be sure to catch Clair’s show at The Free Sisters, from Aug 13-18.

 

 

Prometheus Movie Review : Big Things Have Small Beginnings.

June 19, 2012 | 2

Ridley Scott’s new movie, “Prometheus,” is, believe it or not, his first return to the sci-fi gender since way back in 1982 with the cult film,”Blade Runner”. What is most striking about Scott’s new film it the eerie atmosphere he has created for the entire film. He has certainly given the fim a distinct look, with the pristine clean white of the ship contrasted with the sobre, greys and blacks of the alien infested caves. Although you won’t be seeing a great deal of human on Alien action, what we do get is both emphatic and terrifying.

The movies plot is unleashed upon us and we get lead astray a bit, with secrets kept in the dark, dialogues not giving much away, leaving us asking ourselves what it all means. The first half of the story is beautifully set up by screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof.

The film does actually loose a bit of pace towards the middle, but it quickly gains momentum as it hurtles towards the end. If you go in expecting to see your typical Xenomorphs, think again. We don’t see these for all the right reasons though, as this movie features one of the earlier Alien AncestorParents.

The Promethius crew is headed up by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) with all members having been suspended in pords for their journey, monitored by the droid David (Michael Fassbender). Here Fassbended excels as he really got into chacter with comedic touches included such as his cycling around the ship and shooting baskets. He even has a favourite movie “Lawrence of Arabia”. Over the course of the film he appears to start out polire, with a touch of irony, but there is an ever increasing malevolance about his persona. Noomi Rapace (the original Dragon Tattooed Girl) played one of the most emotional and versatile parts. A big thumbs up to the casting team there.

Charlize Theron and Idris Elba provided decent supporting performances. Elba has really proven himself a force to be reckoned with, particularly in the series, Luther, and here he does himself proud. His dialogues were funny and interesting at times and Logan-Marshal Green really had his head around his part. Another cast member worthy of mention is Guy Pearces who gives a brilliant take on the evil money chasing fiend. There have been unlimited amounts of complaints about why he was cast for this part as he is so young but I think it he pulled it off brilliantly regardless of so many complaints about using a young cast member to play such an old character.

Prometheus ramps up massive helpings of SuspenseMystery. My only complaint would be that the prologue before the mystey and secrets could have been set up just that little bit better. Also, without spoiling anything, when you do actually see the film I am fairly confident in saying you will find more than a few gaping plot holes. There are even times when you will find yourself grinning at the sheer ridiculousness of some of scenes such as a robot stapling shut a mother after a cesarean section. Don’t let that put you off though. Both the action and way the story plays out more than make up for these minor letdowns.

What previous Alien movies didn’t really capture, was the idea of making you think about our origins. Questions like Where are we from? Who created us? This will resonate on our minds for the best part of the movie. Without giving too much away, the movie tries to explain this. Ridley Scott has crafted something difficult and done it with a perceived ability and flawlessness. The genre has been represented in almost every way shape and form, and it’constant reminders that this is a prequel are rife.

Despite a few minor complaints, Ridley’s overwhelming Direction and Stunning VisualSpecial Effects, Great Landscapes give you a false sense of security at first, as if there is nothing to be concerned about. All in all, despite a rather lacklustre ending, we are dealing with one of the best Sci-Fi, Mystery-Thrillers released for quite some time. It gets “4 stars”  in my book and it really is well movie worth both the ticket price, and the price of a giant bucket of popcorn. With today’s prices, that’s saying something.

 

Interview: Stuart Goldsmith. More Than Meets The “I”

May 29, 2012 | 1

It’s hard knowing where to start when it comes to Stuart Goldsmith. He’s a Jack of all trades. His skills range from comedian, compere, warm-up artist and actor, having worked clubs in all corners of the UK. A former street-performer (Scottish National Busking Champion and placed third in the World Busking Championships 2008), he did his first street-show at the tender age of sixteen, having learned to fire-breathe, fire juggle and walk on broken glass. More ‘safety first’ skills include hammering a nail into his nose, eating glass and juggling chainsaws.  He’s even been spotted stripped down to his underwear or walking a tightrope on the streets of Edinburgh.

As a stand-up, his 2010 Edinburgh show “Stuart Goldsmith: The Reasonable Man” received positive reviews, as did his follow-up 2011 tour “Another Lovely Crisis”. Most people will remember him as the “ever so nice guy” on ITV’s show me the funny who was constantly criticised for being, well, too nice. His upcoming Edinburgh show was originally entitled “Prick”. However, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society have obliged him to change the “I” so that it reads Pr!ck in all official Fringe publicity materials, including brochures and even the website. So, before we crack on with the interview, here’s what Stuart had to say about the “Prickgate debacle”:


I read that you ran away to join the circus? What made you head off in that direction? Have you always had the urge to entertain people?

I am appallingly desperate to be liked.  Juggling, as well as being monumentally satisfying in a way only other jugglers can understand, seemed like a good way of making people look at me.  Then to make them like me I had to start talking. And, critically, stop juggling.

After the circus you went on to street performances? When did you suddenly realize, right it’s time to get behind a mic and do stand up?

I will always miss street-performing; part of me wouldn’t mind if the comedy bubble burst and I had no reason not to get back out there.  Even on days off I’d be looking around a town centre and wanting to make it my bitch.  In the end though, I wanted to talk about more complicated ideas than I felt a street audience would accept…

Which group of people did you find it the hardest to entertain? I honestly thought you were going to have a seriously hard time with the rugby crowd but you nailed it right from the word go when you dived straight into the rather thick necked character right in front of you. There’s definitely a fine line between having a laugh at someone’s expense and just making a fool of someone, although some people just throw that fine line right out of the window as soon as they walk on stage. What is your best heckler tactic?

Look them in the eye, and know, in your heart, that you’re wearing your girlfriend’s pants.  As long as you know a secret, they can’t touch you.

You were often criticized for being too nice. I have read that some of your last act on Show Me the Funnier was actually bluer and darker than we got to see. Is this true and why do you think it was cut out in the end?

I felt I was being nudged into doing a specific bit from my 2010 Edinburgh fringe show, and I didn’t want to hand over ownership of one of my best and most personal bits of material to an editor I’d never met!  I’m glad I made that decision – my stuff is still mine to do with as I please!

What would you say were the most important things you learnt from taking part in Show Me The Funny?

That if the deadline seems important enough, your work-rate can exceed your wildest expectations!

Which of the guest judges on the show were you most excited at getting to meet?

We didn’t really meet any of them sadly – though i’d have swapped the 100 grand prize money for a week’s mentoring from Johnny Vegas.

On most of these reality shows there seems to be an awful lot of bonding going on, although there was one moment when you had a bit of a fall out with Rudi (maybe more that we didn’t get to see). You even said that you were scared of him. At least you were in a hospital if anything did kick off. Do you all try to keep in touch with each other now?

We keep in touch as much as the comedy circuit allows, although I’d only met Dan once before and now I really like his act and am enjoying watching him develop as a comic.  I gigged with him tonight and he had a Henry Hoover on his head, it was lovely.

What kind of gigs were you doing before Show Me The Funny and how has this served as a spring board for your career? What has being a contestant brought to the table that you never imagined you’d be doing now?

One benefit of being constantly interviewed about comedy (on the show) was that I realised just how much I enjoyed talking about the art and craft of making people laugh – something which I’m now putting into practice in my interview-based podcast “The Comedian’s Comedian”.  It’s a very geeky, very specific, almost forensic look at how top comics create their work from scratch. You could say it’s the antidote to “Show Me The Funny”!

If you weren’t a comedian now, what do you think you would be doing now?

Con artist.  Pretty much the same skill set, same buzz, less driving.

What have you got in store for us over the next few months?

My new solo standup show “Prick” hits the Edinburgh Festival in August. It’s my best work to date and i’m giddy with excitement.  It’s an exploration of likeability, and contains one devastating act of real violence.  Whilst smiling.

A few quick fire questions:

Favourite Movie: Sneakers.

Favourite book: Good Omens.

Worst Movie: Spawn.

Favourite Band: Faith No More

Worst Band: Owl City – soulless cash-in Postal Service-lite. Gaah!

Favourite Videogame: hmm…  The Gears series was incredible. I’ve played 5-man Horde mode for hours.  However, it’s still Portal 2.  Just essential.  Breathtaking!

Which rising new stand-ups would you like to see more of in the future?

My favourites among my peers are Benny Boot, Henry Paker, Mike Wozniak and Nishant Kumar.  Gentlemen all.

Since you became a comic what is the joke/punchline that has gone down the worst?

Ah, got this one!  Years ago I tried to get away with:

“I used to be a freestyle aerial-display tap-dancer.  But I kept falling in sync”

Before the days of twitter you see – that’d probably work now!

If you had to go and live on a desert island with Kate Copstick, what three things would you take with you?

You can’t make me do this. Much as I love her, Cop and I are not designed for island-based cohabitation.

If you could present your own game show what would it entail?

I actually got to do this!  I played the host/last human alive in Mission 2110 on CBBC – it was my dream job on every level!

If you want a new one though, my own idea, a live-action zombie shopping mall task-based game.  Combination of Takeshi’s Castle and Shaun of the Dead.

A big thank you to Stuart for sparing us a few minutes of his precious time. Don’t forget, you can now catch his new podcast where he interviews a different comedian each time about their approach to the world of comedy. I couldn’t have thought of a better idea myself. Be sure to check those out at www.comedianscomedian.com

You can also keep up to date with all his latest news at:

www.stuartgoldsmith.co.uk

or @StuGoldsmith on twitter

We’ll leave you with a short message from Stuart himself:

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Update: Patrick Monahan – Shooting From the Lip!

May 16, 2012 | 1

A little over a month ago we interviewed “Show Me The Funny” winner Patrick Monahan. Since then he’s gone on to complete the last leg of his tour, launched some brand new celebrity guest vlogs and has announced he’ll be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival this year.

We asked him how well the last few dates had gone for him on his recent tour and it sounds like fun was had all round.

Pat told us that one bloke at Lullington Cricket club popped off to have a quick wee and didn’t want to queue up for the gents toilets and sneaked into the disabled toilets. The lucky chap got locked in for over 25minutes and the show had to be be put on hold with both staff and audience helping to unscrew the door and pull it off its hinges.

Also, recently at Nottingham, one  lad was out with his girlfriend and friends celebrating his 24th. It just so happened there was a trio of firemen in the audience, with one being a bit of a dab hand at playing the harmonica, and had one with him. Patrick got the birthday boy on stage, sat him on a chair while the fireman with the harmonica played a song for him (and happy birthday), while Patrick and the other 2 firemen did a birthday dance for the lad. He won’t forget that birthday in a while or the image of 3 blokes dancing round his crotch. Sounds like the fire brigade were starting fires rather than putting them out there.
I mentioned Patrick has been releasing various celebrity guest vlogs on his youtube channel so here just a few. You can find the rest over here. A massive budget must have been required to invite such AAA celebrities:

 

I always said Lady Gaga sang out of tuna…Sorry about that.

As a final note, please be sure to catch Patrick at his Edinburgh Festival show “Shooting From the Lip!”. Tickets are on sale now! He will be there for the whole month giving out hugs.

Just just click HERE if you fancy coming along
And last but definitely not least, don’t forget you can catch Patrick in the brand new movie “The Limelight” which will be available on the 20th of May to stream or download here.

If NE1 Can, Andy D Chambers Certainly Can

May 15, 2012 | 27

Andy D Chambers may not ring too many bells as he only puckered up courage to take to the mic last year but he came under our radar when I discovered he was going to be hosting an upcoming gig with two other comedians we had previously interviewed, Patrick Monahan and Lee Ridley. If any of his fellow comedians’ praises are to go by, I’m sure Andy will be much more of a familiar face in the not so distant future:

“Nobody is supposed to be this good after just 3 gigs. Very funny comedian with bags of potential. Go see.’ (Dated November 2011) – Rob Collins, ”So you think you’re funny” finalist

”Funny guy with great stage presence, a natural at building rapport with the crowd” -Paul Brett, winner of Mr Ben’s Gong Show

Right now Andy runs his own ‘NE1 Comedy’ night up in Newcastle , which he compères once a month. He also likes to do his bit for charities whenever he gets the chance, also working in promotion, as a stand-up (MC and performer), and topping that all off with a bit of radio work to boot. He definitely has his work cut out for him, so, given his rather hectic agenda, we were chuffed that he could spare us a few moments of his time to talk about love, prostitutes, and mirrors. That got you intrigued right?

Read on at your peril!

How did you get into comedy? Was it a personal decision or did friends or family tell you that you should try it as they felt you had a knack for it?

People have always told me I’m funny. I probably agreed with them but back then I was a young student, and mostly drunk; so I chose to ignore a lot of that, or perhaps didn’t hear them. I’ve always felt like I can entertain people, and also offend people at the same time, but definitely make people pay attention. I did a short set at a variety night at Uni when I was hammered and I was told it went well, but I don’t even remember doing it. I flirted with the idea of trying comedy sober, and did a gig for The Grinning Idiot last year. It went really well for a first proper effort. The lads who were on the bill said they couldn’t believe it was my first real outing. That gave me an incentive to crack on with it.

How easy/difficult was it to get your first gigs? What resources did you find most helpful to give you a kickstart?

Comedy’s very much in vogue at the moment, and as a result there are a lot of open mic opportunities out there (probably too many), particularly in the North East. I started to put on my own nights, and people got in touch with me via facebook etc to ask for slots, and it’s very much reciprocal. You tend to do gigs for your friends and vice versa, and once you get to know a few people on the scene, you tend to get asked to do more gigs. It was tricky at first; you feel like you have to beg people for gigs. Once you do a few, it’s much easier. Nepotism lives deep within Comedy.

You claim to be a “miserable person from a horrible little town called North Shields, who went to a horrible school called John Spence.” This must make for some great comedy routines! And I’m not joking. Brits seem to have a gift of coming up with comedy gold based on the darkest of subjects.

It’s interesting that people find truly miserable stories funny. One of my favorite Comedians is Michael J Dolan, who personifies misery. Some nights you get on stage and tell people some of your worst, most degrading personal experiences, and they just laugh at you! Bit of a knock to the confidence really. It’s the comedy equivalent of going to a counselor and spilling your guts while they have a giggle to themselves and text their mates about you. Misery is a great inspiration for me. I write mainly in that style, but I only use true anecdotes. I don’t believe in making stories up for the sake of comedy. It’s much funnier when you actually believe what you’re saying.

Another period of your life saw you living with a prostitute. More great material there I’m sure. I assume you didn’t work on the side as a flesh-peddler, but were you her Richard Gere? What we all want to know really is how did you end up living with a prostitute and did it have its perks?

You assume wrongly friend. I lived in a house share. Someone moved out and she moved in. We figured it out after a couple of weeks; just little things we noticed like her spending a lot of time in her room, her always having a lot of money despite being on the dole, and the series of men who came to the door asking for ‘Poppy’ (not her real name). To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have minded, and potentially would have enjoyed the perks of shamelessly blackmailing her, but alas…it wasn’t to be. She was horrifically ugly, rather ‘generously proportioned’ (my Dad’s words when he visited) and she had serious mental problems, as well as severe substance addictions (the worst part was she wouldn’t share, the bitch). We used to joke about how much she charged for a ‘crushjob’. In the end the police came to the house, and one of the policemen was clearly trying very hard not to laugh when I came to the door with a grin on my face. It was great timing as well, as she was upstairs with one of her ‘boyfriends’ who was at least 40 years older than her. I imagine she was rather excited about the money she would make when I shouted to her that there were two men waiting downstairs for her, and her face was such a picture when I told her they were policemen.

I hope it wasn’t a one bedroom flat with a bunk-bed. How did you manage to sleep at night?

I was in the room downstairs just below hers, but I still slept soundly. With my headphones blaring full volume, listening to the sounds of whales…being harpooned by Japanese fishermen. Bliss.

So what about YOUR love life then? I imagine you haven’t had as many on/off relationships as your previous housemate but I believe you have found it difficult finding the right person.

Haha! Her relationships were far more beneficial than mine! She got all the sex, none of the commitment and a paycheck to boot. All she had to deal with was potential STD’s, an Ann Summers’ expense account and a depressingly low sense of self-worth.

Personally, I find myself a bit unlucky in love. A little like ‘fly boy’ in the original Dawn of the Dead. I find the right woman and then something goes wrong, but more in a metaphorical sense than being shot by a looter and then bitten by zombies and coming back as a zombie, before seeking out a loved one to eat.

I’m quite antisocial at times and tend to need time to myself, and women always take this to mean that I’m fed up of them. This is true, but it’s only so I have time to recharge and ignore everyone. I get like that. I’m hopelessly optimistic though. It’s doing wonders for my mental health.

You have your own comedy night called “NE1 Comedy”. What does this consist of? What are the comics like that have a go. Any particular attempts that went down really really badly?

NE1 Comedy is in the ‘NE1’ postcode but the idea also is that anyone (ne1) can perform. Clever eh?…ok maybe not. The lineup’s tend to consist of a professional comic headlining, often with professionals supporting them. The rest of the night is filled with great local acts, and I always keep a slot open for someone who has never performed before. So far I’ve had 5 or 6 people perform for the first time, and they all went down really well, particular one lad Lee (a mate of mine) who is the nephew of the great Scouser Comedian John Bishop.

I’ve had some great acts perform at NE1 in the 6 months that it’s been going including Gavin Webster, John Scott, Vladimir Mctavish, Steffen Peddie and Al Dawes. In June I have Patrick Monahan, Simon Donald, Abi Roberts and Lost Voice Guy on the lineup. My greatest set of bookings to date, and it’s bound to be a cracker!

I have read that you have great audience interaction. Is this not a risk for a comedian. Particularly as there are always hecklers in the house?

Who said that? Its news to me, the audiences tend to be full of people, and I can’t stand people! Haha just kidding…sort of. I MC a lot, and a lot of that is based on audience interaction. There’s always hecklers, but to be honest, I love being heckled. It’s annoying if you’re right in the middle of a routine, but you can get a big laugh/round of applause if you come back at hecklers with something that shuts them up. What people don’t mention very often is that audiences get just as annoyed with hecklers as the acts do, so they’re always pleased when someone puts them in their place. I saw Frankie Boyle a while ago, and he got heckled by some moron in the second row. I swear the guy was on the verge of tears (not with laughter) when Frankie was finished with him. That’s a risk hecklers take, but I do actually love bantering with people. It’s nice to be able to vent your resentments and frustrations on people rather than let them build up to the inevitable stroke/brain tumor/nervous breakdown.

You did actually study Psychology. I did too and whenever I tell anyone that, they either stop talking to me or say “bah, your crazier than your patients”. Would you agree with that statement? Also, do you find that having studied this helps you to read your audience so you know which people to interact with?

I used to hate telling people I study Psychology when I was at University. People would say things like ‘Can you tell what I’m thinking?’ and shit like that. I used to pray they were thinking about suicide.

To be honest, I don’t think it’s helped me a great deal with reading audiences. I’m quite a good judge of character and personality anyway, so I can normally tell how people will react to certain things once I’ve spoken to them. As you would probably agree, Psychology is a lot more Scientific than people think, and it often gets lumped in with similar pointless degrees like Sociology. I have noticed that most comedians aren’t normal, a lot of them (including myself) have some sort of personality defect or mental problems. It’s great, like a big social club for head cases.

As you’ve compered your own open mic show, you must have seen a lot of talent and a lot of cringeworthy stuff. Who would you like to see more of in the future?

Of course! You take the good and bad with a pinch of salt, mix a few more clichés into the mix, and you have yourself a comedy cocktail! There’s some great comedy talent around the North East. I’ve seen a lot of ‘Lost Voice Guy’ (Lee Ridley) recently, and SKY are currently doing a documentary about him. He’s a phenomenal talent who’s dealing with life altering disabilities and talks with a voice box. His act is superb, and he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. There’s some other great comics around the North East like Lee Kyle, Biscuitz (hip hop sensation), Ben Messenger and Jerry Buckham (real name Rob Gilroy) and Nicola Redman. These are just a few of my favorites. Remember what I said about nepotism and comedy? I also had the pleasure of meeting Patrick Monahan a few months ago, he’s the nicest guy on the planet, and destined to be the biggest name in Comedy. I’m so excited to be working with him.

In terms of cringeworthy stuff…I wouldn’t like to name names, but safe to say there are a few people on the scene who I don’t think are funny and have gone down very badly. But everyone will have an audience to suit them, and it takes a tremendous amount of bravery to actually get up there and do it, so I cant really bitch about them. Not on a public website anyway.

A few quick fire questions:

I hear you are a massive zombie fan. Dawn of the Dead or Shaun of the Dead?

My god, it’s like Sophie’s choice. I’d have to go with Dawn. For one reason, Peter actually shot his best friend when he came back as a Zombie. Shaun left his in the cellar of a pub.

What is your favourite zombie movie of all time?

Day of the Dead (1985). Easily the most underrated out of the original trilogy, but a classic.

And the worst one?

The remake of Dawn. Running zombies? How ridiculous.

I believe you are also a bit of an indie music fan? Which group do you think we should have as our band of the week?

Hmmm…..Twin Atlantic. They’re a great Scottish band who I predict will outdo Biffy Clyro.

What song(s) are on your ipod at at the moment?

Twin Atlantic (Make a Beast of Myself), The Darkness (One Way Ticket) and Staind (Everything Changes) were the last 3 songs I listened to.

What was the last book you read?

Stevie Tyler’s autobiography. Awesome read. Currently reading Stephen King’s ‘Cell’

What has been the worst experience as a stand-up?

I once did a gig in Catterick where the PA system was only loud enough to reach 30 out of the 130 people there. That could have ended much more violently than it did.

Do you still have any fears you had as a child?

Just Zombies.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

When people leave food all over the house. That’s how you get ants.

So what have you got lined up for the immediate future?

Got some gigs coming up, and I’m organizing some more; a new venture with a pal of mine called ‘Taking the Mic’. Other than that, the main thing is the NE1 Comedy Gig on 11th June with Patrick Monahan, Simon Donald, Abi Roberts, Lost Voice Guy and Ben Messenger; which I will be MCing. For all the details check out http://www.facebook.com/events/354178667964375/

Should you happen to be in the vicinityof Hoochie Coochie,Pilgrim Street in Newcastle on the second Monday of any month you’d be doing yourselves a big favour making way over there to check out the NE1 Comedy Nights. Entry is only 3 pounds per head and absolutely free of charge for anyone daring to to perform a minimum 5 minute set.

I’ll leave you with a short message from Andy. I’d just like to thank him for this video as it has just dawned on me what Michael Jackson’s hit “Man In The Mirror” was actually all about, and why he always wore one white glove all the time…

You can all twitter the man himself  @AndyChambersNE1
There’s also a Facebook group for NE1 Comedy
And for all booking enquiries please send your e-mails to takingthemic.info@gmail.com. Andy is available to be booked for gigs anywhere in the UK.

MOVIE PREVIEW – THE LIMELIGHT

May 11, 2012 | 2

If you’re in need of a good dose of comedy then this could be just what the doctor ordered. The black comedy feature film “The Limelight” features an A-Z cast of some of the UK’s finest talent. Take your tissues with you though as you’ll be crying tears of joy and sadness.

If you thought comics have an easy life, with not a care in the world, think again. Writer/director and star of the movie, Glen Maney has been on a mission ever since he first came up with the script some 15 years ago. He wanted to show audiences just how much it really takes to be able to stand up on a stage and give it your all, regardless of what awaits you when the spotlight fades. That doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing any comic relief here though. Far from it.

The film itself will see its official release on the internet on the 20th of May. What better a time then to speak to Glen as he reaches the summit of a mountain he has been clambering up for so long.

I thought I’d leave it to Glen himself to get the ball rolling:

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PPSF – The script itself dates back over a decade and you did in fact sell the option to script in 2001 but came up against financial problems as a massive 2 million pounds was required. Where did the idea for the script come from? Had you written any scripts prior to this?

I’d been on a creative writing course and I’d also been writing my own comedy for some time,so I knew how to basically structure a script and develop characters although to be honest this is something that improves over the years. I’d written a script about a pub football team which came back to me virtually the day after I’d sent it to agents, but when I read through it again, they were right. It was rushed and under developed.A  script has to be developed and developed until you’re happy with it.

I sent ‘The Limelight’ , which at the time was called a pretty cheesy ‘Tears of a Clown’ off to about three agents and one of them placed it.

PPSF- On writing the script did you have most of the actors in mind or did you choose the cast at a later date? I understand Ricky Grover was originally cast as the lead. How did you land the protagonist’s role in the end?

I sort of had Ricky Grover half in mind for the lead when I wrote it. I’d met him when I first started doing a few alternative gigs and he was so encouraging and we had a mutual love of boxing, so we hit it off straight away. I’d seen a lot of comedians live but when I saw his act at the Comedy Store I thought to myself ‘How is this guy not a household name?’. He was known in comedy circles and had a following for his BULLA character, but he wasn’t as well known as I felt his comedy deserved, so I thought he could bring a humour, an empathy with the man and woman in the street, out of what was a pretty pathetic character in my script.

Ricky read the script and loved it. When I sold the option, I put his name forward for the lead role, as it was envisaged that a couple of million budget was going to be attached.

Three years later I got the script back as the option had run out.I  was talking to Ricky on set,when he was making a pilot to raise funds for Bulla The Movie (eventually Big Fat Gypsy Gangster) and he said why not make it yourself. He agreed to come on board.

It soon became clear that Ricky wouldn’t have the time to play the lead because he’d have to turn down a lot of well paid work to do it. We never had much of a budget and Ricky was chipping in with that as well! (His own expenses – Cast and Crew breakfasts etc), so I suggested he play Al Moran (The Monster Manager). Ricky wasn’t that enthusiastic because the character is a bit of a monster, but looking back now Ricky is one of the few people I know who could have got away with being menacing and vile whilst injecting humour into the character. I think he does a great job.

So we advertised for a Gary Shand (the main character) and had a few actors audition but no one really captured the essence of what I was looking for. I was assisted at the time by Steve Hammal and Paul Long who were friends I’d made some shorts with under a heading of The Giggle Factory and whose opinions I respected and they both looked at me one day and said, ‘You should play him yourself’ .At first I didn’t want to do it but I did a screen test and whilst you’re never happy with yourself on screen, I thought I could get away with it. So I was cast! And loser Gary Shand was born.

PPSF- The lead character Gary Shand must have been a really difficult role to get yourself prepared for as you describe him as an ageing, struggling comedian fighting depression, alcohol dependency, schizophrenia and a marriage break up. I presume you have little in common with the role you played.

Ha,Ha. You presume right. I’m an ageing comedian (coming up to my prime!). I’ve had the odd struggle in life and sadly, I’m divorced, but that’s where the similarities end. Gary Shand is a mix of a lot of characters I’ve known in my life, both on the comedy circuit and off. People have asked who it’s based on and it is genuinely not based on any one person. In one way it was difficult to get into the role because I hadn’t experienced any of his weaknesses personally but in another it was drawn from people I recognised to such an extent it was easy.

The funny thing is that people seem to identify with him. I think that’s because we all know people who suffer from one of his problems, if indeed they haven’t suffered themselves.

PPSF- A fair few popular British comedies have had a very dark plot to them such as The Full Monty, Brassed Off and Wilbur (wants to kill himself). Why do you think Brits are so good at drawing humour out of the darkness?

I think our comedy in particular is born out of the need to escape depression. That’s how we handle things. If something major happens, some awful event, how do we usually get to hear of it? The news? Occasionally, yes, but more often than not,the text jokes start coming! There’s humour in every situation if you look for it. Some atrocities I can’t find any humour in, but we make a quip, not necessarily about the event itself, we brush ourselves down and we get on with it.

I once had two coach loads of Americans walk out of a gig because I said (three years after 9/11) I love those Americans but I don’t understand them. In a recent survey 23% of Americans said they wouldn’t fly again after 9/11. What I can’t understand is why they are still using buildings! A British crowd would have handled that even if it had happened on British soil. It wasn’t being disrespectful to the victims of 9/11. It wasn’t meant to hurt. It was a quirk that I found funny, so I said it. So the answer is I think we Brits are good at laughing at ourselves and we use humour better than anyone else to cope with tragedy. Let’s face it, we’re always dealing with tragedy. Why? I don’t know.

PPSF- Apart from Ricky Grover, you have got some fabulous talent working on the project. Tell me a bit about the cast and crew you got involved and how they all fit into the puzzle?

Well I knew Patrick Monahan from when I first gigged on the alternative circuit and we’d got on well. I thought he was funny but more importantly a nice guy and with a low budget feature it’s important you all get on and there are no prima donnas. I was loking to cast a good looking, funny, younger comedian and Patrick fitted all the boxes. Could he act? I think we found he could. The feedback on his performance was excellent.

John Robson who I got involved with the film because he has a great eye for detail and had overseen a few music films for his artists at Vandalism 360, had shared a flat with Mark Monero (formerly Eastenders –Wild Bill ) and was close friends with Phil Nichol and Craig Campbell, who I knew from gigs but not to any great degree. He wanted to use their talents and as we looked through the script there were perfect roles for them with the time they had available.

I was good friends with Jay Sodagar as we’d worked for the Laughing Horse together on lots of occasions and as we needed an Asian landlord, I got him involved. He looked at the script and said,’that’s not stereotyping is it Mr.Maney!’ He said it with a smile though and was onboard.

The leading lady we auditioned for, and Sonya Roseman had the look I wanted.

Steve Hammal who is as good a cinematographer as you’ll find and has a great name in advertising films and corporates is a good friend and has been for years and he agreed to do some camera work for us, as did John Cattle (Wight Trash) who makes his own extreme sports films and Simon Higgins from Sky God Films who’d made the critically acclaimed ‘This is Asa’ about a young boy who tragically died on the Isle of Wight. John Robson knew Simon and we both knew John Cattle.

We hired another professional cameraman and sound recordist via Talent Circle and called in all our contacts for favours with other roles like make-up etc.

So that’s the story really. Basically EVERYONE involved loved the script!

PPSF- In the end you managed to record the film for 50,000 pounds from your own earnings, 1500 pounds from Screen South and financial assistance from family and friends. This was on the back of the defunct National Film Council having refused to fund the project, in favour of other, more essential projects, such good old Harry Potter. That’s a pretty big risk to take (you, not the National Film Council). You must have been extremely convinced that your film would have a certain degree of success.

How then did you go about making sure the project would have the best possible team working on it with the now restrained budget you had to work with? I heard John Robson even said that you must be the only film production company who doesn’t have a camera.

I’m laughing thinking back to that. Yes,I bumped into John in the street on The Isle of Wight where we both lived although he had a flat in London. He asked what I was up to and I said putting a film together and starting a film company. He had read the script a year earlier and loved it. I asked him if he wanted to be involved because of his experience with music videos. He asked what equipment I had. I replied none and his answer was ‘’Brilliant. We must be the first film company not to own a camera! Yes, I’m on board! ‘  It’s worth pointing out that the next day we went out and bought two cameras, lighting and sound equipment and with Steve Hammal, John Cattle, Simon Higgins and of course our paid crew having their own equipment, we were more than well stocked from the equipment angle.

We had a good experienced team in place and their track records spoke for themselves. We felt very lucky. The amazing thing was they all loved the project too. They’d go to work and then come straight to our set, as and when the actors were available.

I believed that the story was a strong one and one that audiences of all ages would relate to but I honestly didn’t think the costs would escalate the way they did. We’ve spent £760 on London Travelcards alone and over £4000 on travelling expenses!  Just to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner for a crew of say ten film crew and five actors in the centre of London for example costs more than you realise and then you have to put them up in a hotel. I remember me and John Robson sleeping in a car to keep the costs down! The costs just escalated.

We had things like monitors, tapes, lenses and even hard drives to buy. There wasn’t the terabyte hard drives of today available when we first started! Anyway, the point is, the costs just mounted and before you know it you reason to yourself that you’ve spent too much to lose so you plough even more money in! I didn’t realise how much it’d all cost until the end! That’s the truth!

PPSF- All in all, the production process has gone on for five years. That is some serious dedication. Was there any time where you felt like packing in as it just seemed as though it would never get finished or were you always confident that you would reach where you are today?

There were LOTS of days when I thought it wouldn’t be finished! We had a hard drive, that wasn’t backed up, literally set on fire in front of our eyes and we had to go back and re-film. There were days when we’d get to a location for a second day of filming and overnight there’d be things like roadworks springing up! There were too many days to mention but there was such a commitment from everyone and so much goodwill, I had a sneaky feeling that one day it’d be finished.

PPSF- After all this time, what five words would you use to describe the entire process and the finished product?

Exciting, Frustrating, Humourous, Infuriating and Funny.

PPSF- Based on some of the reviews the early screenings have received it looks like the long journey has well been worth it with comments such as “The Limelight will make you cry but will also make you laugh and make you laugh like you haven’t for a long time”.

The film got it’s national premier at the London Independent Film Festival on the 20th of April, this year. How well did that go for you? Are you happy with its reception so far?

To be honest I’ve been blown away by it’s reception. Let’s be honest, we’ve made a small little independent film and to be getting reviews like the one you’ve stated from an independent film critic is just so pleasing it’s not true. The film won’t be for everyone and we’ll have bad reviews to come as well, I’ve no doubt, but yes, we’re pleased.

The reception to it at The London Independent film festival was more than we could have hoped for. You always hope that you’ll make a film that captures people attention but when you do it’s so gratifying I can’t put it into words.

PPSF- Something I must ask you. At the end of the trailer we see a guy walking around with his pants around his ankles? Can you enlighten us about that or will we just have to watch the movie to find out? It’s definitely got me intrigued.

Intrigued is good and yes you’ll have to watch the film. One secret I can let out though is that he was bloody cold! No porn film auditions for Gary Shand that day!

PPSF- The film is released on the 20th of May. It’s being released online via your website. How exactly will that work? What will people have to do to get their hands on it? Will it be available worldwide and do you have any intentions of releasing it on dvd/BluRay?

For a small film like ours the big problem is enough people knowing about it. We are initially going to distribute via a company called Distrify. David Wilkinson of Guerrilla Films has been of great help with his advice and knows the film market better than most. The film can be downloaded or streamed worldwide for a small fee via our website, you’ll literally go to the site, press buy the film, decide whether you just want to watch it on stream or actually download it and pay with your card there and then. People can also sell it on their website wall for a small income stream if they so wish, so it’s a good way of spreading the word with very little marketing budget.

We’re going to see what the feedback is like before deciding on a DVD run. It’s in our heads to do a limited edition after it’s done the festival rounds. We’re entered into some pretty big festivals worldwide that specialise in Independent film and I think a DVD release would come after it’s done the rounds in those.

PPSF- If the film garners the same kind of reception from the general public as it has from critics to date, what do you have planned for the future? Have you got any more scripts up your sleeve or are you going to focus more on your stand up career for the time being?

I have a few scripts up my sleeve and I’m working on a project with a Director called Malcolm Mowbray who co-wrote and Directed a film called ‘A Private Function’ many moons ago and has done a lot of film and t.v. I’ll tell you more once it’s set in stone.

I will be doing some stand-up but I won’t say concentrating on it as I enjoy performing but my true love is the writing of comedy.

PPSF- I mentioned earlier that the National Film Council rejected your film in favour of Harry Potter. Nows your chance for redemption. Let us know why we should all be watching the Limelight rather than a 3 hour wizard fest. (I think I left the easiest question til last here).

Well hopefully you’ll laugh more and relate more to the characters. It’s real and yet it isn’t. I HOPE it’s an emotional rollercoaster and we’ve relied on a strong script and good performances rather than a load of expensive CGI to make it watchable. Not that you’d want to see Gary Shand flying through the air on a broomstick anyway! Not a pretty sight!

My advice is,if you’ve seen Harry Potter, go and watch The Limelight and then you the viewer decide for yourself. We hope you enjoy.

A screener of the film was well received by the board of the Los Angeles Cinema Festival so it looks set to make it over the pond any time soon. We’ll keep you posted.

For now though, please check out the official site (where the film is available as of the 20th of May), the facebook group or follow Glen and the team on twitter: @limelightmovie

You can also check out a trailer for the movie on the website but I must warn you that you are in for a bit of strong language. I thought that might get you clicking on the link a bit quicker…. If you liked this article please show us your support and come and visit us over on Facebook.

 BACK TO THE COMEDY SECTION

Lee Ridley: Stand Up and Be Counted

May 8, 2012 | 2

(All photography courtesy of Caroline Briggs http://www.carolinebriggs.co.uk )

There’s a brand new comedian in town and he’s got the gift of the gab. Only thing is, he can’t get a word in edgeways. Confusing right? Well, Lee Ridley, who suffers from cerebral palsy, lost his voice as a child and has had to speak through his Lightwriter communication aid ever since. Thanks to fervent support from friends, Lee decided it was time to give it a shot, performing his first ever stand up gig as Lost Voice Guy, a mere three months ago.

Lee had always got a kick out of making people laugh and stand up was something that had always been in his sights. Whilst on his comedy quest, he also raises money for Scope, the leading UK disability charity for children and adults with cerebral palsy. Should anyone wish to sponsor please don’t hesitate to donate at his Just Giving page.

Actions definitely spoke louder than words in Lee’s case as not long after venturing onto the comedy circuit he started making quite a name for himself. Matt Lucas describes him as a wonderful comedian and the praise doesn’t stop there. He has a string of gigs lined up this year, including support spots for Patrick Monahan and Abi Roberts. Patrick believes “Lee is the future of comedy” saying “We all work in 3D while Lee is working in 4D with his voice box and his amazing one liners.” Abi told us that Lee is so unique and she just can’t wait to be gigging with him.

With such a rapidly growing fanbase it was only natural for us to ask Lee for a good old chin-wag. Here’s what he had to say on the matter:
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45686895″ params=”auto_play=false&show_artwork=true&color=0086ff” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

A lot of people will be wondering how on earth you manage to perform stand up if you can’t speak. Can you briefly explain how you get yourself across to the audience?

I use a text to speech app on my iPad to talk to the audience. The app is called ‘Speak It’ and it’s pretty basic as far as communication apps go but it suits me fine when I’m doing stand up. It’s really cheap too if anyone wants to have a go. Basically I just store my jokes in the app and make them speak when I want it to. Some people have said I’m cheating because I don’t memorise my set but I hope my writing makes up for that!

Obviously, stand up is not the typical choice for someone with a disability like your own? What was it that drove you in this direction?

I seem to have a habit of wanting to do things that I shouldn’t be able to. I also trained to be a journalist which is another bizarre career for someone with no speech! I had always enjoyed watching stand up comedy though. Friends have always said I was funny enough to do stand up too. Obviously I never took any notice, I just thought it would be too hard or a logistical nightmare. I didn’t even think anyone would understand me. Then, late last year, my friend suggested it more seriously. I didn’t do anything for a while but the idea got stuck in my head. Eventually I decided to give it a try because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. It seems like it was a good move!

Your disability is prominent in the jokes I have seen you perform. In a way it is very satirical, dark humour. You have clearly embraced you disability and are ready to joke about it openly. This is definitely a love it or hate it type of stand up as some people are pretty unforgiving when it comes to jokes about the disabled. Have you come up against much criticism or has it all been well received?

It’s all been well received so far. I think I get away with it more because I essentially joke about myself. Even if I didn’t, I think my disability would give me license to go a bit closer to the bone. I like to think I take the piss out of disability without being nasty about it. It’s just a laugh. Most disabled people I know have twisted senses of humour, I suppose it helps! I want to show everyone else that disabled people can have a sense of humour too. Not everyone will like it or feel comfortable with it but that’s like anything else in life. I don’t plan to exclusively concentrate on my disability forever. It was just the easiest subject to write about.

What about your family? How supportive were they when you first told them you wanted to do stand up? Did they think you were joking or did they back you right from the word go?

To be fair to them, they’ve always supported me and let me follow my dreams. Whether it was learning to drive, going to university, becoming a journalist or doing stand up, I know that I can count on their support. In fact, I couldn’t have done any of that without them. I did feel a bit awkward swearing in front of my Mam but she seemed to enjoy my set!

Which stand-up comics do you admire?

My comedy hero is Ross Noble. I just love how quick witted and random he can be. I could watch him all day and not get bored. My head probably wouldn’t be able to cope though! I also like people like Eddie Izzard, Dave Gorman, Chris Addison and Tom Binns. I love dark comedies like League of Gentlemen too. There hasn’t been a better comedy since.

I heard you auditioned for the X-factor but they didn’t see the funny side to it. What happened there?

I thought it might be funny if I went along and see what happened. Sadly this meant getting up at 6am on a Saturday and standing outside for two hours. I’m still not sure why no one questioned how I was going to sing but they never did. Eventually I got through to the judges and started to sing ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. They didn’t see the funny side and rejected me after a few verses. It made great material though!

Recently you have begun to ramp up a fair bit of a following and you will soon be doing a gig with “Patrick Monahan”. Surely this must be a great feeling of satisfaction, and you must be really proud that you are able to show people how barriers can be broken if you put your mind to it.

Yes. It’s such an honour to be mentioned in the same breath as people like Pat. Especially when they give you such positive feedback themselves too. It means a lot when people like Matt Lucas call me a wonderful comedian on national TV. I’m just enjoying the ride though. People can call me an inspiration or whatever but I’m just a bloke telling jokes. If it helps break down barriers though then that has to be a good thing.

So it looks like things are really starting to pick up for you as you will now be traveling around the country. Surely this must be quite hectic for you. What are the main problems you have to overcome now, with this new found fame? Or are you just content that things are taking off the way they are?

The main problem is dealing with all the bookings and getting to and from gigs. It is getting very hectic, especially as I have a full time job too. It’s hard to fit everything into a day! Thankfully, I’ve got some mates who are happy to travel with me and assist me when needed. As I’m paying for two people, it’s expensive too. I just have to hope it’s all worth it one day!

Tell us a little bit about what we can be expecting from you in the future?

Hopefully you’ll get to see me at gigs across the country. I’ve also got two dates booked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Details are on my web site. After that who knows! This has all happened so fast that I’ve given up trying to predict the future.

What advice would you give to disabled persons who would like to give it a go at something they never thought possible, not necessarily stand up comedy, but in general?

I guess you’ve just got to believe in yourself and believe that it’s possible. Even if you don’t succeed, you should give it a try. It sounds cheesey but you’ll never know what would happen if you didn’t give it a try.

For a guy who’s lost his voice Lee is definitely making himself heard, appearing on many a TV channel over recent weeks.

BBC Breakfast interviewed Lost Voice Guy and went down to record his gig at Bar Loco in Newcastle last month. If this clip doesn’t convert you into an instant fan, I don’t know what will.

Keep up with Lee’s progress on his blog, Lost Voice Guy. To sponsor Lee, visit his Just Giving page.

You can also follow him over on his Facebook page.

As a final note, I highly recommend the range of extremely dark humoured T-shirts available on his site.

Also, please check out our other comedian interviews and general funny stuff over here.

Calling all comedians. If you fancy a bit of a chat with PPSF please contact us. We are also looking for guest comedian bloggers to review movies, music and video games to spicen things up a bit. Should anyone be interested please contact us at howard@ppsf.co.uk

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