Thursday, 30 August 2012

Edinburgh Fringe report 2012

Wow! glad to be home.

After 8 months of planning I arrived in Ed keen to show off the new version of 2 Facedbook... Last year over 2500 people came to see the show live and 800 watched live online. This years version was all about audience interaction, using their mobile phone to heckle me on my Facebook wall which was projected behind me. There was also a live internet feed so that people around the world could watch and heckle.

4 Days in I could not understand why large chunks of my audience were walking out and why no-one seemed interested in interacting. I was completely on the back foot, filling for time, pulling every old story out of the back of my head just to keep the show going until people started getting involved. There was little online input and although some photos etc were hitting the wall, the sheer lack of volume meant there was very little to work with and the energy in the room was not any where near what I was used to from previous years.

I then received a very rude email from one of my returning audience members stating that not only was the show totally rubbish but also that no-one in the audience could get online and interact and thus were leaving disappointed. The internet  (the venue had provided) was not keeping up with demand and as soon as a certain level of load was put on it, it went into meltdown. It was no-ones fault, we just did not anticipate this as a potential issue.

During one of these disaster shows a reviewer came in, and not realising anything was wrong, decided that the problem was clearly me and thus wrote a tirade of personal comments the highlights of which include; lecherous hack who belongs in 1962 Butlins (BTW 1962 was the hey day of Butlins!) and that I don't deliver on any level. He then goes on to misquote a story completely leaving out the punchline, in order to support his theory that I am hack and past it. I don't mind that he didn't like the show, I don't care that he disliked me, but I hate that I was so misrepresented because of his inability to listen carefully to the whole story and then get so very personal with his vitriol as a result. He also says that I fail to establish a positive relationship with my audience... every day 30% of this years audience had seen me before and returned for more, I guess they were there simply for the chance to have a relaxing sit down in a large damp cave beneath an Edinburgh bridge and nothing to do with my ability to charm my room.

before the end of the first week, I had to pull the show as we couldn't get the technology to keep up with our demands. I guess the show was soooo cutting edge that it hadn't even been invented yet!  :) next year we will attempt time travel and have a working version of the Stargate on stage. Then all the critics can pass through and have a second chance to quote things in context instead of trying to boost their own ratings by ranting about the made up weaknesses of others (although it hasn't done Simon Cowell to badly!)

Matt Price (my friend and my hero) stepped in and suggested I put on a 3 header comedy stand-up show in place of 2FB3. Matt became my anchor man and became completely invaluable and a real source of strength at a time when I was ready to pack up and go home. No matter how tough the audience, and some days were really bad, Matt always managed to turn them around and read their mood perfectly, delivering his outstanding set in a completely different way every day according to how he read the room. It was a real pleasure watching such a pro at work.

2 weeks in and the going was tough but the morale boost came in a very special way. Whilst waiting for my show to start, a coach pulled up outside the venue and a chap jumped off, explained that a whole bunch of them had seen my show the previous year and they had brought their friends and come back for more. I explained that 2FB3 had been cancelled and in its place we were doing straight stand-up... they said they still wanted to see me, whatever the show, and they then filed into, and filled my venue. I felt honored and humbled by the experience but at the same time my Cahonies definitely grew and I was strutting like a prize peacock by the end of the evening.

On my other show We Love Comedy which was a showcase show for other comics to promote their slots elsewhere or for new comics to learn their trade. I made sure that up to 3 of the 5 comics everyday were newer and less experienced acts and gave them an opportunity to play a big stage in an environment that allowed them the room to be not quite as good as some of the bigger names that I booked. It was great fun seeing some of these people growing as comedians over the course of the month and thus leaving Ed far better than when they arrived.

The nightlife, the parties and the Loft Bar is as much a reason to go to the Ed Fest for a month as the performing and networking. It was often chilling out with my friends and talking absolute bollocks until the sun came up which kept me sane... although my measure of sanity cannot be relied upon in the real world. :) My good friend Rory (who worked for me on my shows) however could always be relied upon just to be himself and that was often funnier than the guys we saw on stage, but for all the wrong reasons.

After 85 performances; I had some great gigs and I had some awful ones. I met some great people and consistently ate over priced and poor quality food. However, the one treasure I will take with me from this years Fringe is the knowledge that I have some wonderful friends who can be totally relied upon when you need them and I consider it a privilege to be counted among such talented and loyal individuals. There were times that i was so fed up I wanted to cry, but they always lifted me up and urged me onward.

 If comedy never brings me fame or fortune it will always be the thing that gives me something money can't buy; the company of some really great people who seem to like my company too. What more could I ever ask for? I am indeed infamous and fortunate!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A tribute to the Brave

Grab life today, embrace it, shake and force it to do things your way! In the process never forget to show a little love to those around you, especially those with mental illness.

This year two of my friends have lost the fight with depression. When you hear such sad news as the loss of a loved one, if the loss is due to old age, or accident, whilst still tough, it has a reason, there is a hook to hang your emotion onto. However when you hear that your friend took their own life the situation for those left behind is far different.

Anger, resentment, tears, frustration, sadness and regret all intertwine into a big noisy mess inside your head.

'maybe I should have called him' 'why wasn't i there for him' 'if only I hadn't dismissed his troubles as melodrama or attention seeking' 'I should have noticed he was that bad, I should have known, I was his friend!'

These thoughts and a million others race through your head as you try and resolve the hurt that is biting at your heart.

Here's the thing though, there is no way of bringing back a loved one once gone, there is no cure. There is however a vaccine that might help those suffering from the same disease hold back its symptoms.

If you have a friend or a colleague who is suffering from depression or manic depression or any one of the many terrible mind maladies which display similar warnings, then there is one thing you can do for them right now and its really quite simple.

Just show them some love. Don't judge them. Don't scorn them or hate their moments of melodramatic self indulgence. Don't try and assign reasons for their behaviour using your best judgement from your sound mind that has no idea of the complexities and complications, the demons and the torture some have to deal with. Do not pretend you understand their pain if you yourself have never known such pain. Do not figuratively patronise or pat their head in wayward lip service. Just give them a little more love.

Many people with the many forms of depression are often the most creative and colourful members of our world. They are impetuous and bouncy one day and morose and negative the next. They build great walls of personality and bravado and lull the world into thinking that they are ok, they love the fight. They make it seem as if the fight is a tough one but one which is exhilarating in its pursuit. We often see those who suffer as somehow the strogest amongst us and thus the least likely to fall. This is a fragile illusion and the many dear friends I have said goodbye to are sad proof of that.

You may not be able to save a friend, you may not be able to extend their life one day beyond the day they decide their time has come, but you can wave them off with a heart that is clear in the knowledge that you did everything you could. You spent that extra moment to share a smile, you hesitated before judging them and you never forgot to tell them that you valued them and loved them.

Good bye my dear friends. Sleep well and peacefully.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

poetry & cheerful reasons

Its national Poetry Day so I thought I would share a couple of recently scribbled musings and then I came up up with a list for a magazine article recently 'Reasons to be cheerful' and thought maybe you would like to read it too :)

Written a couple of weeks ago whilst gazing accross Morecambe Bay very early one morning.

Morecambe bay journey

Whilst cockle pickers flick salty molluscs from watery cracks & distant mountains cast lonely authority over this ancient muddy wasteland.
Behind me sits the chaos of a world in brick built regularity, in front of me the wilderness in random, ordered singularity.
Behind me the past, in front of me the future, should I advance or retreat, conquer or be conquered, make a stand or take my seat?
The decision is simple, the route unknown, but my strength is certain because my destination is home!


Like rose petals fallen pon a glassy pond,
Your sweet eyes soften and sweeten my world.
Like sunlight falling into icy depths,
Your smile is the moonlight melting my night.
Like jewelled armour your your strength is your tribute.
Your beauty is your spirit, your laugh and your kiss.


Reasons to be cheerful

It was 1979 when Ian Dury penned the famous ‘Reasons to be Cheerful….’ This was the last hit he had with his group the Blockheads. His lyrics were born out of frustration and written in a time of national unrest and turmoil…. This all sounds very familiar eh?

So here are my reasons to be cheerful… make up your own tune!

‘Reasons to be cheerful.’
by Jools Constant; ‘the only comic in the village!’

* The new leader of the free world has great Abs.

Can we get buffer than Barrak Obama during international ‘Let’s Get Buff Week?’ Yes we can!

Barrak is set to be Torso of the Decade. With his handsome grin, buff body and position of extreme power, he will have a queue of Monica Lewinski’s begging him to pay for their dry cleaning.

* You’re now unemployed, but just think of all the extra time you have with your Xbox.

Thanks to rising unemployment, sales of video games are on the up. Another bonus is that MFi has closed…. So with all your new free time, you couldn’t fit that new kitchen, even if you wanted too.

* Sarah Palin is still alive so we still have someone to laugh at now that Bush is probably dead.

The Moose hunting Moose is the main reason her team lost the election. Ms Palin is so stupid, she makes George Bush look like Steven Hawking without the wheelchair! Her knowledge of world geography is based purely on Disney films. If she had ever been elected President she promised her first act would be to hand out free lipstick for all Pit Bulls!

Yet despite all this the right wing extremists think she's the best.... the very same people also have lots of guns and a very limited IQ, lets hope their trigger finger gets twitchy when MRS P is passing by!

* No-one has any idea who is running the Country now, so we don’t know who to blame or moan about anymore.

I’m not even sure which Man is really in charge and I am not remotely interested in new coalition politics. I do know that now the benefits are being slashed, rich people are uncharacteristically grumbling! I don’t really care as long as they keep recycling our rubbish, it has been revealed that cheeky councils all over the country are throwing our tins it into landfill! Throwing away our rubbish – it’s a scandal! I will write a strongly worded letter on recycled paper, and very soon that too will be recycled and my prickly anger may be mopping the bottom of the very ploiticians I disdain!

* Only 123 shopping days until Christmas

Take advantage of the Poundland Sale now! They are still selling the remnants of the Woolworths stock. They have 300 Mona Lisa Jigsaws left. The pick-a-mix stand is completely empty except for the coffee creams and even the ‘Barbara Streisand sings Black Sabbath’ CD box set is still available if you hurry.

Christmas is almost here, it's the best ever reason to pig out on chocolate without the ‘Obese Police’ wagging their chubby little truncheons at us.
Every day we are being told off for eating the wrong things; burgers, chips, pizza, carpet! With Christmas on the way we can fill the trolley full of chocolate without the Check Out Operator hitting the alarm button and having our kids taken away by social services.

* Big brother is over forever! Yes!

Who would have guessed that by shovelling 10 nuerotic oversexed village idiots into one hole the result would be benign dribbling dross of the highest order. The series ran 9 seasons too long me thinks!

* I know times are tough, but you wouldn’t sell you Ferrari and replace it with a wheelbarrow, would you?

Why is Rooney riding a bike when he has enough money for a taxi? Lets take heart, even with all his money, advisors and resource, he can still cock things up just as spectacularly as us mortals

* Michael Douglas isnt too well.

KZJ may soon be single again. Dancing shoes at the ready lads.

* Angelina & Brad haven’t bought any babies this year which means they are becoming more affordable for the rest of us.

Now that they have their Quality Street tin filled with a United Nations calendar of adopted kids, they are turning their attention to old people and the disabled. Apparently they have put in an offer for Cliff Richard and the whole of the England Rugby team.

* Greggs has not gone bankrupt.

You used to be able to guarantee that if a Banker invites you out to eat, it would be an expensive steak washed down with a very exclusive Red. However in these tough financial times he's thinking; ‘Greggs,’ washed down with a bottle of Dandylion & Burdock! However cold the weather, however little money is left in your pocket, a steak pasty & a Chocolate Flake Fancy will always wash away the boyfriend blues. Bankers are quickly tightening their belts as its going to be at least another twelve months before they get anymore multi million pound bonus's from us taxpayers

* The French are still in France.

Bon Bon. When the French Market visited Newport recently they had no-where to park their vans because the Welsh Sheep Farmers blockaded the car park. We had vans stacked up all the way back to Bon Marche.
Some people dislike the French so much they have suggested that we force them as a nation to adopt Russell Brand and Ricky Gervaise.

* I haven’t heard mention of the Ryder Cup for a full three days!

We are considering re-naming Newport; Celtic Manor City, electing Terry Matthews as President and turning the Castle roundabout into a putting green. The river is to be a new Water Hazard and there will be a windmill built at the end of the footbridge for those who fancy a bit of Crazy Golf.

* Cheese and onion crisps.

If there is a God in Heaven, you can guarantee he will have a secret stash of Cheese and Onion under his bed – which makes sense I guess as he probably invented them first. The last supper would not have been the same without a crispy cheese starter.

* Finally, here is the most astonishing news I have ever heard – after last years’ unveiling of Amy Winehouse at Madame Tussauds, they decided to do some tests and they found there were actually less artificial substances in the wax model , than in Amy herself. Shocking but true!

Always remember; Smile, and the world smiles with you. Frown, and the world will think you are constipated!