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interview - Page 8 of 9

Patrick Monahan: Shooting From the Lip

July 28, 2012 |

2012 Loaded LAFTA’s Best Newcomer and Forth Radio’s Best Stand-Up People’s Choice, Patrick Monahan, will be making a welcome return to this year’s Fringe. Performing at the festival for the ninth year in a row, the larger than life Teesider/Spooner/Hugger is bringing some all new material with him. Having said that, critics and fellow comedians praise Patrick as being one of the few comics who manages to make each night a totally unique experience, so expect the unexpected.

We caught up with him as he prepared to board the hugging train to Edinburgh:

If you could describe your show as three Olympic sports which would you choose and why?
It would have to be gymnastics, cos I like to fall on mats!
It would have to be wrestling, cos I could just hug people for ages holding on pretending I’m wrestling!
It would have to be the 100m relay race, cos I’d swap the baton for a cream cake so that we could all have a bite while I’m passing it on!
For you, what makes the Edinburgh Fringe so unique compared to other comedy festivals?
Edinburgh is like the Mecca of comedy cos comedians and performers from all over the world come to the festival from West Africa to West Wales!
Also, there’s comedy and shows on all day from early in morning to 5am at night, whereas other festivals people like to go to sleep!
What has been your defining moment there?
Every year doing the festival, you learn so much it would be hard to pinpoint one moment but I’d say that hosting “Late an Live” shows at 1am soon teaches you how to pump energy into a room of 400 drunk people on Prozac!
What is your worst memory/experience there?
One time I tried to pretend to be a gymnast, where I tried to lift a person above me head whilst walking off the stage, not realising there was an extra step off the stage and me foot tripped and took a persons body weight above me head, which instantly tried to snap me ankle and kept me in hospital for a night and hobbling about for the next 3 weeks at Edinburgh!
Have your preview shows gone to plan?
Well if the plan is to over run by 10 minutes and still have routines left over to use!
I always get excited at previews and try and preview everything except the stuff that I’ll use in me shows!
Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?
Yep all the time, constantly having to cut, edit, swap, rotate, change words, sprinkle with cake crumbs!
What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?
Take me crumbled clothes out of me suit case that I packed the night before because I never pack on the morning cos I always think I’m going to sleep in and miss me train!
Also go and buy loads of food to snack on and toilet paper, and a TV guide, even though I wouldn’t be able to watch any telly cos I’ll be on stage doing shows till 4am!
Which acts will you definitely be going to see?
Everyone that I can! The great thing about the festival is that you can go and see loads of other acts as long as they are not on the same time as you!
What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?
Sleep, sleep, sleep and a bit more sleep! Eat hot meals without having to eat it in a shovel!
Watch telly using the TV guide that I bought, even though it’s out of date. Most stuff on telly is repeated!
What unique selling point would you say your show has that other shows don’t?
My show comes with this guaranteed at the start and end! With mentions of cake and dances and promises of happiness!
Patrick’s show will be performed every night at 8pm at the Gilded Balloon (Wine Bar)  from the 1st to the 26th of August (except the 14th) (Ticket information here.)

Rob Beckett: Summer Holiday

July 28, 2012 | 1

[Image courtesy of Ed Moore]

What is comedy without new faces? A boring old rubber mask you’ve seen a million times? Yeah, probably. Well get a load of this guy…

Rob Beckett started performing comedy 3 years ago and within no time at all was winning awards left, right AND centre. Sounds like he’s got it covered. His observations are unique and his face makes you want to smile. He tells us about his new show ‘Summer Holiday’ (and why it is named so!), family life, and why he does what he does.

With rave reviews from The Guardian, The Scotsman and The Times, he seems like a comic to keep your eye on. Let’s see what the new nice-guy of comedy has to say…

Hi Rob. After scouring the internet for what seemed like years, I can’t seem to find your age out?! Is it a secret…?

It is no secret, I am 26. I can have a showbiz age if you want? I am 11 years old.

The reason I ask is, you started stand-up 3 years ago and have won more awards than most people have had dinners (not hot, regular!) How does it feel to receive this amount of acclaim at such a young age?

It’s been amazing. I never started in comedy to win awards I just wanted to be a comedian. It’s basically a hobby that’s got a bit out of hand. But I am not complaining! I love it and awards are just added bonus.

What made you start?

I have always loved comedy and I used to go Up the Creek in Greenwich most Sundays. I remember watching a terrible open spot and thought that I could never be that bad. So I put my name down for a spot and performed my first gig at the same club a few weeks later. Funnily enough I was as bad as the terrible open spot but I got better over time.

The Times said you have ‘the confidence of a veteran’, but where does it come from?

I am very lucky to have a strong family unit which I think gives you a wonderful amount of self-confidence. As I always know no matter how bad things get I can go home, visit my family, eat toad in the hole, watch You’ve Been Framed and all will be right with the world.

In only a few years of stand-up you’ve appeared on panel shows AND on TV shows. I’ve heard it said that there is a 7 year gestation period for comedians. Do you think a person is born funny or can learn funny..ness? And please, be honest.

I think you can be naturally funny or learn it and either way have a career as a comedian. However, all the great comedians in my opinion are born funny and then work their nuts off and learn how to be even better.

Who are your comedy idols and why?

I’ve always loved Billy Connolly. He’s so effortless and always looks like he is enjoying himself. I’ve always liked Alan Davies too: his videos were the first comedy videos I had of my own. Peter Kay live was the funniest thing I have ever seen – my whole family went to watch him and we laughed until it hurt. He gets a lot of stick but I think he’s great and that night he was incredible.

Tell us a bit about your first solo Edinburgh Show, ‘Summer Holiday’.

It’s about my family, my working class background and their expectations for me. It’s called ‘Summer Holiday’ as they won’t let me call comedy a proper job. It’s true – for me doing my show is not work. I enjoy it too much. My brother starts work at a New Covent Garden Flower market at 3am 6 days a week. It’s an insult to him to call what I do work.

What do you hope to achieve from the show?

I want the audience to laugh throughout every show and leave the venue smiling. I also want to play professional football for Arsenal. Hopefully Arsene Wenger will be scouting at the Comedians vs Critics football match.

And finally, what is next on the radar for you Mr. Beckett?

I have a few TV appearances coming up which will be me performing stand up so I am very excited about it. Also FIFA 13 is released in September and that will keep me busy.

Summer Holiday’ is being performed in Edinburgh at The Below in The Pleasance Courtyard, and runs for most of August. Check www.pleasance.co.uk for ticket info.

It’s Grimm Up North. Taking Edinburgh Fringe to New Heights

July 27, 2012 |
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time, there were only stand-ups and sketch shows. That was, until the knight in shining armour, Hardbody Productions, came along. Inspired by fairytales, fables and films, they found themselves brandishing more than enough material for their particular blend of cartoon humour and parody.

This year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be home to the world premiere of ‘It’s Grimm Up North’, an animated series set in the fictional town of Hardington. The series features a waide array of bizarre characters such as a b’stardly barber and a gaff-prone general practitioner.

Here we included the ‘teaser’ for episode one on our Dot Com(edy) Spot last week, with the teaser for episode two featuring this evening.

As they prepare to screen what will be the Fringe’s first ever animated feature, we spoke to Director of Hardbody Productions, Matthew Linsley.

Which three adjectives best describe your show and why?

“First, only, animated”. It’s the Fringe festival’s first ever, and only, animated comedy!

For you what makes the Edinburgh Fringe so unique compared to other comedy festivals?

The sheer size and variety of acts on offer at all hours of the day.

What has been your defining moment there?

So far, just appearing is the defining moment as it’s our first time this year!

What is your worst memory/experience there?

As it’s the first time we have no bad memories but we hope to be able to give the same answer after the festival!

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Yes, they have gone just as expected. We have received very, very good feedback and also very, very bad! Our work has provoked strong reactions either way, which is great!

Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?

There have been some slight moderations based on feedback to some scenes but nothing major.

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

Giving out flyers to as many people as possible.

Which acts will you definitely be going to see?

Patrick Monahan and Graham Oakes as they are both superb!

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

Most probably sleep, sleep and more sleep.

You can catch ‘Grimm Up North” at theSpace @ Symposium Hall from the 3rd until the 25th of August. Times may vary so be sure to check the ticket sales and calendar here.

Billy Watson: Sex, Drugs and Marriage

July 27, 2012 | 1

Followers of the Dot Com(edy) Spot will be well aware who Billy Watson is, as he has garnered more than a few fans here at PPSF. For the unaware, Billy first had designs of becoming a rock star but, in his own words, his “severe lack of musical talent” held him back. It was the late, great Bill Hicks that brought Billy’s passion for stand-up to fruition, with him realising it was a great way to vent off his anger at the injustices of the world and make people see the truth as read in David Icke books he’d picked up along his travels.

Billy’s first solo Edinburgh Fringe show was back in 2002. He recalls having had a tough enough time just trying to get 10 minute unpaid spots back then, nevermind performing one hour shows every day for a month. Even so, it got a three star review though, so it clearly wasn’t half as bad as he believed.

This year Billy will be be performing ‘Sex, Drugs and Marriage’ at the Laughing Horse.  He sums the show up as portraying his “journey from drugged out loser in search of pussy through marriage to a psychotic Turkish woman and beyond”. What more could one ask for?

Billy kindly answered a few questions in the countdown to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

If you could describe your show as three Olympic sports which would you choose and why?

Diving – As I have not performed comedy since last year’s Edinburgh Festival, my show will feel like taking a big leap of faith off the top board into the deep end.

Tennis – It is a solo sport for which a great degree of flexibility and stamina is required. Hopefully the audience will return my jokes with laughter but I still aim to hit more than a few winners.

Archery – I will be taking aim at a few targets and trying to hit the bullseye to make as many points as possible, while still being entertaining of course.

For you what makes the Edinburgh Fringe so unique compared to other comedy festivals?

I have not been to any other comedy festivals so I can’t really compare.  However, this is the one that most comedians work all year round for and is seen as the place where you showcase the best of your year’s work. For that reason it is held in the highest regard. Plus, no other festival I’m sure gets as much rain. Lol.

What has been your defining moment there?

This will be the fourth time I have put on a one man show at Edinburgh. I can’t say I have had any particularly defining moment. I did get to the final of a cabaret competition in 2007 as Nob Stewart, so I guess that would be my biggest achievement there.

What is your worst memory/experience there?

It is pretty torturous flyering for a few hours and then have nobody turn up to your show. That has happened a few times. My toughest gig was when I had one elderly gentleman and one reviewer in the audience. I ended up just talking politics to them and although the gentleman was interested at what I had to say, at the end of the gig he said ‘Well, I’m thoroughly depressed now.’   I got a two star review.

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Because I live in Turkey where there are no comedy clubs I have not had the chance to do any preview shows. As I said before, in at the deep end.

I spent two months writing out ‘Sex, Drugs and Marriage’ to tell the story of my life but because I couldn’t preview any of the material I have decided it is too big a risk to go through with that idea, so I will mix in some stories from my life with some of my older material.

I prefer to be spontaneous anyway and the thought of doing the same show every day was weighing heavy on my mind. This way, I will be free to improvise as required and therefore I will enjoy it more and thus I think the audience will too.

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

I will be attending the Alternative Fringe launch night at The Hive, where Bob Slayer will be the host. I became friends with Bob at last year’s festival when I got involved in Kunt and the Gang’s Cockgate Scandal. You can read the story and watch the videos on my website, www.billywatson.tv.

Which acts will you definitely be going to see?

I will go and see some of my friends shows for sure. Phil Kay, John Scott, Patrick Monahan, Raymond Mearns, Kunt and the Gang, Lewis Schaffer and Ro Campbell.  I also know Gavin Webster but this year I am particularly interested in his show ‘Bill Hicks Wasn’t Funny’ because I started performing comedy due to being inspired by Bill Hicks and I am interested to see what he has to say about him.  Other than that I usually just go with the flow.

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

I intend to try and stay sober for this year’s festival because in the past the stress of it all has made me hit the booze and it affects your energy levels. I want to try and stay as clear headed as possible and focus on doing the best show I can.  However, I do intend to have more than a few after my last show.

After the festival itself I have two weeks in Scotland to take my American girlfriend to various parts of the country as she has never been here before, and to be honest after living in Turkey for 6 years I miss the country myself.

What unique selling point would you say your show has that other shows don’t?

My USP I think is just me being me. I have led quite an interesting life and have some viewpoints that are not the standard way of seeing things. The mix of my personal stories coupled with my beliefs should make for an interesting hour.

I will also be performing some poems from my poetry book and may even get the guitar out even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Nob Stewart may even make an appearance to sing one of his comedy songs. All in all, although I am a bit nervous, I am looking forward to it and intend to enjoy myself as much as possible.

 

Milo McCabe: Kenny Moon – This Is Your Life

July 27, 2012 |

If you’re familiar with UK based character comedian Milo McCabe you will no doubt have seen him perform as Portuguese character, ‘Philberto’. Despite the popularity of his alter ego, Milo will be putting down his bottle of vintage Madeira to perform a brand new solo show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012, ‘Kenny Moon – This Is Your Life’, whilst fitting in time to take part in the play ‘George Ryegold’s God-In-A-Bag’.

His solo performance is described as a ‘fascinating, funny, moving show, based around the life of his father, old school comic and New Faces finalist, Mike’. Milo will play a whole range of characters from his Dad’s past, in an attempt to express just how much British comedy has evolved since the seventies. Mike McCabe will play Kenny Moon, whilst Chris Henry hosts.

We posed a few questions to Milo as he prepares for the very long month ahead.

 

If you could describe your show as three kitchen utensils which would you choose and why?

A blender, because there are lots of different things going on in the show, a coffee machine, because it’ll get you thinking and an Aga oven, because my Dad’s in the show and his comedy’s very old fashioned. I honestly thought that was going to be a tough one to answer.

For you what makes the Edinburgh Fringe so unique compared to other comedy festivals?

The level of intellect and comedic savvy of the punters. Performance wise, there really is nothing like playing to a typical Edinburgh crowd.

What has been your defining moment there?

My defining moment was probably getting to the finals of The Amused Moose Laughter awards last year.

What is your worst memory/experience there?

Watching Tony Law start his set in the abovementioned finals and realizing that despite making a good account of my show, there was nothing that was going to beat him that day. That wasn’t so much a bad memory as a grim realization.

In terms of bad experience, it has to be getting smacked in the face by a hefty Glaswegian girl last year when I stepped in to stop her battering her much smaller friend just outside the Caves venues (in full view of about fifty people). I was left with a black eye for my last show and they were seen ten minutes after the incident cuddling each other and crying.

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Yes and no. Preview number two sucked hard, as number two preview shows tend to do, probably because there isn’t the mad adrenaline that powers the first one. However, in terms of previews, that was the most successful, because it showed up a lot of weak spots. The last three previews have gone to plan but I’m sure a few things will change over the run.

What’s interesting in the preview process is how certain sections begin to get very tedious for you as a performer, and these are the bits that need to be cut. From the first preview I’d say at least 60% of the show has changed.

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

Could I have three? Thanks. Try and load in early at The Gilded Balloon. Go to the supermarket and stock up the flat, and then walk around the streets at night while they’re still relatively empty.

Which acts will you definitely be going to see?

Chris Henry on the free fringe (and not just because he’s in my show either), Dr Brown, Paul Foot and Nick Mohammed. Oh and Chris Stokes if we didn’t clash and I hadn’t already seen his show, which is a real gem. I also want to check out Matt Roper’s Wilfredo, because we have some ridiculous comic parallels. We both had old school comics as fathers (mine being in the show this year!) and we both perform foreign character acts on the circuit. And I’ve heard it’s awesome.

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

I’m going canoeing on the river Wye with three of my scouse mates. The only people we’ll see are other canoers or suspicious looking farmers. I doubt I’ll have a refuge from comedy though, mostly at my expense. You know what scousers are like…

What unique selling point would you say your show has that other shows don’t?

I can honestly say that I don’t think there’s a show at the festival like my one. My Dad’s onstage the whole hour and I play a number of different characters from his past, with the narrative being a true one, relating to my Dad stealing some material and performing it on TV in the nineties.

You can buy tickets for his solo show here and tickets for the play he is in here.

Phil Buckley: Simple Things / Stupid World Tour

July 26, 2012 |

Phil Buckley performed his first solo show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe back in 2007 with ‘Stroke the Panda’. He proved extremely succesful with a number of subsequent tours. The show ‘Jokes Not Included’ was nominated for best solo comedy show at the Buxton Festival Fringe in 2010 and Phil has also found himself a finalist in the ‘City Life Comedian of the Year’ and the Frog and Bucket’s ‘Beat the Frog World Series’.

More recently he has been supporting ‘The Boy With Tape On His Face’ on his spring tour, and has gone down so well that he’s been asked for a repeat performance on the autumn leg of the tour. Before that, Phil will performing not one but two different shows as part of this year’s Edinburgh Free Festival.

The first show ,’Simple Things’ sees Phil looking at the simple things in life that make you “laugh, smile and just plain make you happy”. His second show, ‘Stupid World Tour’ poses the question, is stupidity really a bad idea and can acts of uadulterated foolery truly lead to large amount of happiness?

He was happy to answer a few questions in the build up to this year’s Fringe.

Describe your Edinburgh shows with three adjectives and explain why.

Crazy, stupid & funny. My material is aimed to just make you laugh, it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it is funny.

What is it that makes it so special to perform at the Fringe?

The whole environment during the festival is crazy and you just get swept up in it. I wasn’t going to do it this year, but I got asked to work on another show and it didn’t take much to convince me.

What has been your best moment there?

The last time I went up was in 2010 and the last day of my show was the day after all the big four had stopped doing shows and I expected nobody to be there. I headed to my venue to discover not only did I have an audience, but the room was full and people were being turned away. A great end to what had been a great festival

What was your worst experience there?

The first time I went up to do a show, called ‘Stroke The Panda’. The show was about being single and trying all the different types of dating. The shows were going great until the day I had a reviewer in. I knew she was there and was trying to ignore her when I did a joke about it being really hard to meet a girl in Salford because if you want to talk to her you first have to step through her earrings. The line got a huge reaction so I turned to look at the reviewer only to realize she had the biggest hoop earrings I’d ever seen.

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

They went really well. As always, you come away with bits you need to tighten, but the show has been really well received.

Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?

Not a huge amount, it just needed tightening up and making a lot quicker

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

First thing is always to head to City Restaurant for a breakfast. It’s not Edinburgh without a Maxi Breakfast.

Which acts will you be catching there?

The Boy With Tape On His Face is a genius and can’t wait to see it take over Edinburgh.

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

Sleep. It’s a really long month and I’ll need lots of sleep and fruit.

Why should people go and see your show?

It’s funny. I like to look at the world in a fun friendly way and my shows invite the audience in to my world.

‘Simple Things’

Date: 2-26th August

Venue: Venue 170 – The Lounge @ The Counting House, 38 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DD

Show time: 1415 (60mins)

Ticket price: Free Show

‘Stupid World Tour’

Date: 2-26th August

Venue: Venue 272 – The Yurt Locker @ The Free Sisters, 139 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JS

Show time: 1915 (60mins)

Ticket price: Free Show

CHRIS HENRY: WE NEED TO TALK

July 25, 2012 |

Chris Henry has been a regular on the comedy circuit for years now having performed in all corners of the UK, with the occasional BBC and ITV appearance. Now, at the age of 34, still living life as if he were in his tender 20s, he claims he’s lost friends, jobs, relationships, family, religion and dignity and is ready to bare all in his first full-run solo Fringe show, We Need To Talk.

In spite of appearing to have lost virtually everything, he was only too happy to lose a bit of time answering our questions:

Describe your Edinburgh show with three adjectives and explain why.

Vain . It’s all about me dealing with hearing the phrase “we need to talk” too many times.

Profitless. I’m performing at the free festival at the Free Sisters, so I can’t stop your readers coming in without paying.

Funny. It might be all about me and I might be broke, but it’s still a comedy show and a damn funny one at that darling.

What is it that makes it so special to perform at the Fringe?

The Fringe is like being in Gotham just after the Scarecrow has broken out the lunatics from the asylum, but they’ve replaced their hunger for chaos with a need for recognition. It doesn’t get more special than that.

What has been your best moment there?

Climbing to the top of Arthur’s seat at 5 am. Never go drinking with a fitness fanatic that’s been on Red Bull all night.

What was your worst experience there?

Being rather intoxicated at a late night party and trying to convince a very well known comic that I loved a piece of material he performed, whilst he repeatedly told me that he never had. Apparently I was there for some time.

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Of course not. That’s why we do the previews. I have gone from the first one being a stuttering, stammering mess, holding notes and rushing through routines, to a calmer, charismatic, performing, stammering mess.

Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?

The format has so far changed three times: bits have been dropped, routines added. I started with a wild obtuse oak and I’m now aiming for a refined bonsai.

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

Go straight to a supermarket and buy food before I run out of money. And since it’s Edinburgh, my shopping trip shall be similar to Renton’s for “The Sick Boy Method” in Trainspotting, although I wont be looking for the suppositories.

Which acts will you be catching there?

Milo McCabe (because I’m also in his show), Mark Nelson, Billy Kirkwood, Christian Reilly, Jimeoin, Davey Conner, Sean Hughes and many others.

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

Sleep, eat vegetables and tell my mother that I’m still alive.

Why should people go and see your show?

There are loads of reasons to come see my show. It’s funny, its some of the best material I’ve ever written, hearing the wonderful sound of an audience laughing every day will stop me from crying myself to sleep, its funny, it’s on in the early afternoon (3.30) so it’s perfect for starting your day at the festival, it’s FREE, it’s funny (for more reasons why you should come see it, come see it).

You can catch Chris’ show at The Yurt Locker, at The Free Sisters, Venue 272.

Shows run from the 3rd until the 26th of August at 3:30 pm (no show on the 24th).

Be sure to keep up with Chris over on his website.

SAMEENA ZEHRA: TEA WITH TERRORISTS

July 25, 2012 |

If you prefer being tickled with funny stories than Tim Vine gagathons then Sameena Zehra’s Fringe show Tea With Terrorists may be right up your street. She’ll be sharing experiences she’s gained from a life straddling two very diverse cultures; covering even more diverse topics ranging from having tea with terrorists in Kashmir to planning the perfect murder. As you can imagine her tales are just as shocking as they are funny.

She was happy to answer a few questions as we discovered terrorists can in fact be a real hoot.

Describe your Edinburgh show with three adjectives and explain why.

Unique, because it explores a world that not many people have experienced; a world of piss poor terrorists, sheep that stalk you, the perfect murder, and magnificently vicious old ladies.

Funny in an absurdist sort of way. Some of the situations are bizarre and inexplicable, but you have to laugh because if you didn’t, life would be depressing and pointless!

Terrific‘, (not sure that adjective has made it to the OED!) according to Rip it up, Adelaide- I guess because some of it is terrifying to think of, but hilarious at the same time.

What is it that makes it so special to perform at the Fringe?

The Fringe is part trade show, part smorgasbord of every sort of artistic performance, all in one place, in a human scale city where everything is within walking distance. Where else can you watch shows every hour of the day, without shelling out hundreds of pounds; where you can mix the sublime with the ridiculous, the professional with the amateur, the experimental with the truly bizarre? It’s wonderful to perform, surrounded by the buzzing artistic creativity and the anticipation and excitement of a population of locals and tourists who have traveled from all over the world to come and join in. It’s fabulous. There’s really nothing else like it in the world.

What has been your best moment there?

It’s difficult to pin point a single moment. I’m relatively new to the Fringe- last year was my first time there, so everything was new and exciting. I guess the best moment for me was seeing Josie Long, Mark Thomas and Daniel Kitson on the same bill during a charity gig for Palestine. Three of my favourite performers in one place; just great. bumping into Rich Hall and chatting for 5 minutes, leaving and realising i had been calling him ‘Reg’ the whole time. He didn’t correct me, but it sort of explains why he looked in a hurry to get away, although he was nothing less than polite and charming.

What was your worst experience there?

Losing an hour of my life watching a show, which will remain nameless, when i could have been watching something good. However, it was free, and that’s part of the democracy of the free festival. I suppose I could have left after the first 10 excruciating minutes, but I was one of only 6 people there and I couldn’t bring myself to make the performer cry.

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Pretty much. I did them as double bills with other comics and met some fab people, who I would definitely go see again. Trevor Lock, Damien Kingsley, Daphna Baram, Ali Shahrukhi. I recommend catching their shows if you are up there.

Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?

Not really. It seems to have gone down really well. I am a comedy storyteller, so I’m not delivering punchlines every thirty seconds. It’s a more gentle sort of comedy that creeps up on you while the story is being told. It’s pretty much set the way it is. I’m comfortable with it, I’m enjoying it and the audience seems to be loving it; thank goodness for that!

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

Boringly, I will be doing banal things like checking into my flat, buying groceries and settling in. Then I will go for a walk and take in the city. It’s such a beautiful place and I really love the architecture.

Which acts will you be catching there?

I’ve got tickets already to see Daniel Kitson, which I’m really looking forward to. Other than that, I will suck it and see. Part of the fun is wandering along and discovering things spontaneously, sometimes from recommendations received from people I meet in cafes or in the street. It’s the kind of thing that happens in Edinburgh!

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

Drive home and then sleep for 3 days, probably!

Why should people go and see your show?

It’s funny, unique, and full of surprises and crazy characters. If you like a good story, you’ll love it. If you like shock comedy full of cock jokes, best stay away!

Tea With Terrorists will run from 2-18 of August at Captain Taylor’s Coffee House, 18 South Bridge at 6.45 pm.

You can follow Sameena on her website www.sameenazehra.com

Ashley Frieze: Discograffiti

July 25, 2012 |

Comedian Ashley Frieze will be taking his show, Discograffiti to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. In a show containing songs that have been written, and others which appear to have been scrawled on a toilet wall, Ashley will be exploring what makes songs great, and what happens when music fights back.

He was happy to answer our questions before one last Edinburgh preview tomorrow at Caroline of Brunswick in Brighton.

Describe your Edinburgh show with three adjectives and explain why.

Musical, energetic and thoughtful

This show is my search for the perfect formula for the perfect song. The idea is to make you think about music and what’s behind writing your favourite songs. However, I’m a very silly man, so I keep misusing these formulae I discover, or taking them to extremes. In the end, I discover a simple truth about writing anything.

What is it that makes it so special to perform at the Fringe?

The Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival. It’s THE place to find all the nation’s comics over summer, and the atmosphere is amazing. I’ve been in love with the Fringe since before I was a comedian, and it always makes me thrilled to be a part of it.

What has been your best moment there?

Last year’s show was probably one of the best things I’ve done at the Fringe. People were tapping me on the shoulder in the street telling me that they were coming to see it a second time. I felt like I must have been doing something right.

What was your worst experience there?

I was once given a total dressing down by someone I’d attempted to flyer. She was an Edinburgh resident who was clearly sick of the festival and had been for years. I took one for the team that day.

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Almost entirely not. Apart from the fact that the script is pretty much a work in progress until the end of the Fringe anyway, I’ve agreed to do some previews this year which were not quite the right environment for the show. In addition, I ran some shows at the Brighton Fringe, and one of them went remarkably wrong, culminating in me having to throw out a couple of audience members. It’s ok for previews to go wrong – that’s kind of their job, but one or two of them this year were quite demoralising. It got better, though!

Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?

I’ve done some sort of rewrite after every preview. You need to. In some of the earlier shows I was doing major rewrites, as I’d expected to. Some of my songs went through two or three drafts, usually on the way to the bin, and some new songs appeared as certain things clicked with me. I discovered what the show was really about as I was previewing it, and the ending is not what I originally expected.

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

Sleeping. Seriously. It’s miles away. Eight or nine hours of driving up on a Friday night. Actually, usually I unpack and then catch up with my Edinburgh flat mate, whom I only really spend proper time with during the Fringe. Once I hit the streets in the morning, it will be time to shift equipment and put up posters. I’ll start properly when I hand out the first flyer.

Which acts will you be catching there?

As many as possible. Pappy’s will be a must for me. I also hope to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, Richard Herring and Ian Fox.

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

I will have a massive case of the post Fringe blues. The misery you get, discovering that there isn’t a show on in a few minutes is palpable, plus it’s hard to get over all the exhaustion of a busy Fringe.

Why should people go and see your show?

I’ve written a show that’s good-natured, full of jokes and is on a subject I think most people can relate to. It’s well worth an hour of your time… Oh, and it’s a free show.

Ashley Frieze’s discograffiti is on at Espionage (Pravda Room) from 11th to 26th August at 3.45pm. Part of the Free Festival, this show is free entry – just turn up, free tickets can also be reserved via www.edfringe.com

TRODD EN BRATT: WELL DONE YOU

July 24, 2012 |

You’ve been warned! A female double act will be hitting the Free Fringe with a debut character sketch show that will have the entire audience saying ‘Well Done You’. Ruth Bratt and Lucy Trodd, both founding members of the critically acclaimed musical impro comedy Showstopper! (which can also be caught at the Fringe this year), felt the time was right to go it alone. They will be providing punters with what they call “an hour of stimulating silliness and deliberately discomforting  characters, unintentional impro and delightfully dark dispositions.”

They are “Deliciously dark and very funny”  in Rob Brydon’s books, whilst Chortle praised them as “One of the finest comedy performances seen this Fringe with a delightful eye for timing and subtlety… a genuine all-round talent”.

With the Fringe just around the corner, Trodd en Bratt were only too happy to answer the ten Edinburgh Fringe questions we put to them:

Describe your Edinburgh show with three adjectives, giving reasons why.

LOUD:  Many of our characters have big voices. Honestly, it’s funny.

QUIET: We like awkward quiet moments. This pushes the boundaries of comedy, don’t you know.

MODERATE: Sometimes we are in between 2 volumes. We have a very wide range of volumes.

What is it that makes performing at the Fringe so special?

It’s a shop window for talent and it’s a bubble of creativity you don’t get the rest of the year. You only focus on your show because there is nothing else to focus on. Not only that, Edinburgh smells good, and we’d miss all our friends if we didn’t go because they’re all there too being brillo.

What has been your best moment there?

The first year that we performed with Showstopper (The Improvised Musical) and we sold out the run and had people queuing round the block, AND, we had Mike McShane guesting. Other moments involved the heat of the theatres and the contrasting rain outside, climbing Arthur’s Seat, bumping into unexpected festival angels (people who cheer you up), but always laughter. So many moments!

I think the moment someone draws an errrr, shall we say ‘rude symbol’ on one of your posters, it makes you feel like you’ve really arrived. This happened in 2011.

What was your worst experience there?

Doing my (Bratt) one woman show to a one man audience. Tough. Performing in a bad improv group (Trodd), one of those shouty enthusiastic harmless ensembles, but nonetheless not very good.

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Yes. We’ve learnt a lot from each other and from our audience reactions. We got rid of a lot of material and put in a lot. The show in now in good shape and it’s the show we want it to be. We’ve listened to our guts and we’re proud to say we’ve found our identity. We’re always going to improvise even though we are trying not to, so, by end of run, the show will be two hours long.

Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?

We haven’t had to, but have wanted to! Mostly to do with sound effects. Bratt could have a new career as a sound engineer and Trodd’s always loved Foley after our Showstopper radio show. We also have a lot fewer costumes now. We’ve lost the wellies to tap shoes change and realise you only need to have 1 representational item of clothing to make the sketch work. Ahhh, the magic of theatre.

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

Get to flat. Panic. Get to venue. Panic. Get to tech. Panic. Then drink too much and pretend to be a student for one night. Then make rules not to drink until the last night. Trodd will probably Skype her son.

Which acts will you be catching there?

Holly Burn. She’s weirder than us and we LOVE LOVE HER. John Robins & Charlie Baker, who gave us notes in our Bristol preview! The Showstoppers (when we’re not in the show- dedication!), The School of Night, Pippa Evans, Cariad Lloyd, Jess Fostekew. Trodd is looking forward to taking her son to The Scottish Storytelling Society to see The Elves and The Shoemaker.

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

Bratt will be filming from the 27th August so sleep will have to wait until October. Trodd will be trying to persuade her child that she’s not going to leave him! And The Showstoppers begin their West End run at The Charing Cross Theatre. There will probably be some tears.

Why should people go and see your show? 

Because it’s funny and we’re nice and we need an audience and to make back a couple of grand so Bratt can buy a wood-burning stove and Trodd can pay for all the babysitting… Catch us before we’re a cult (a cult of more than 2 that is).

We strongly recommend you catch the show which will be playing at the Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters, Maggie’s Chamber, 139 Cowgate. Shows commence at 5:45pm (non-ticketed) with previews running from the 2nd August-3rd August and the definitive show from the 4th-12th, 14th-26th August.

BOX OFFICE: 0131 622 6801 / www.laughinghorsecomedy.co.uk

Be sure to keep up with them over on their website too.

Courtesy of Idil Sukan