Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Parodies from the Peak District becomes Award Winning Show!

We loved performing at Morecambe Fringe Festival last year and so we were disappointed when it and every other 2020 fringe went up in smoke thanks to the pandemic. Fortunately, like Buxton and Edinburgh's Laughing Horse, the promoters went online with virtual festivals instead.

After receiving amazing comments and a lovely review at Buxton, Parodies from the Peak District has gone one better at Morecambe - winning the 'Best Musical Comedy' category. A full list of winners can be found on the Lancashire Post's website here.

This now makes me look forward even more to my live performance (through Zoom) of the show on Saturday August 29th at 8pm with Laughing Horse. Having battled my audio equipment yesterday, I'm confident it'll sound great and it will be fantastic to be able to speak to the audience during the performance. You can find out more, and book a pay-what-you-want ticket, here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Laughter in Lockdown and Fitness to Practice

Last Friday I popped Fitness to Practice, Angela Bra's second vlog/music video onto Youtube and crossed my fingers that the costume changes, battles with the green screen and DIY prop making had been worth it. Testament to my hardcore primary teacher skills, our front room was littered with sub-Blue Peter detritus - ranging from a pair of binoculars made from toilet roll tubes to carrier bags stuffed with carrier bags to resemble a very large takeaway order. I also had the First World Problems hat back in commission thanks to my brief appearance in the shoot as a tennis player.

The liberating thing about developing a character to carry the songs is that pretty much nothing is off the table. Angela can be whoever she wants to be. Would Andy Quirk perform aerobics in a lycra crop top and leggings? No. Would Angela? You just try and stop her raiding the fitness section of Primark. It's also nice to have a full head of hair in role as Southend's most eccentric singer/songwriter - the rather severe post-lockdown haircut I had recently has given my scalp somewhat of an airing.

So does the world like Fitness to Practice? Yes, if somewhat more cautiously than Nuclear Cooking Cave. As I type it's had 97 views (to the debut's current 230) - which is a slower start than I hoped for. However, it is reassurring to see six likes, a compliment on Angela's polka dot dress and no dislikes in the mix with it.

Also, my dad really likes it too, as he did the first one, which means a lot.

What do you mean you haven't watched it yet? Click the this or the picture and you'll witness the inevitable outcome of Boris's new fitness initiative for the nation.

Elsewhere, Anything Goes Online continues to impress with plenty of views and a really good mix of fresh newbies and old hands on the latest episode (if contributors who've now featured on the five episodes so far can be called as such.) This Thursday's looks to be superb too - featuring a whole array of different acts and one of the glossiest comedy music videos I've ever seen for a home production.

Click here or on the picture to view the playlist.

Live comedy is creeping back into the world in the coming weeks with nights spotted both in Manchester and Sheffield. I may well drop in on them simply to see how their pint-sized venues are handling the social distancing aspect with a view to getting something up and running again in Glossop after August. The online world may have its perks but you aren't doing comedy properly unless you're one of nine people watching hopefuls try out new jokes for free on a Sunday night!

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Please Like

Approximately three years after anyone else watched it, I completed both series of Pls Like on iPlayer. A spoof documentary following a comparatively ancient thirty year old's investigations into the vacuous youth-driven vlog movement it ticked plenty of funny boxes and even featured a guest appearance by the very funny Yuriko Kotani towards the end of series one. If you haven't seen it and find the tick tocking insta-world a confusing combustion of the self aggrandising and truly deluded then you probably should.

Speaking of which, Angela is performing moderately well across her social platforms following the release of epis
ode one of her Youtube mini-series, "At Home With Angela" - featuring a vloggy get-to-know-you and the music video for her latest stab at stardom, My Nuclear Cooking Cave. 8 likes, 2 dislikes and just shy of 200 views is more than many of my previous uploads and the Facebook page has started with a promising 77 likes.

The Instagram, however, needs work as she's got just 15 followers - down from 17 earlier this week as, I suspect, two of them were fake accounts. She uploaded a video there earlier today to give a "behind the scenes" preview of her next vlog and music track so it would be nice if more people saw it. If you select "nametag" on your insta account and wave your phone over the image here it should automatically subscribe you. The next song, Fitness To Practice, will be online next Friday.

Elsewhere on the web, Anything Goes Online returned on Thursday with a very solid show of comedy from across the UK. Performers like Jack Kelly, Marty Gleeson, Neal Craig and Tom Short are putting new content on every time to create their own online series. If you haven't tuned in yet you really should.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

At Home With Angela and her Nuclear Cooking Cave

For one post only I have reluctantly agreed to hand over this blog to my wayward sister from Southend to talk about her new vlog, 'At Home With Angela', and its embedded promo video for her debut single, 'My Nuclear Cooking Cave'. She's a tad eccentric, some might say delusional, but she's a good egg.

Oh. My. Gosh! It's sooo nice to be able to write and thank you all, my fans, for your support on my newly relaunched Vlog. I had a bet with Pinot and Grigio that I'd make the virtually viral view target of one hundred in a day and I smashed it with a storming eleven to spare! Typically they didn't have anything much to say. They seemed more interested in licking themselves and clawing the carpet but I know they're totally impressed.

I've been asked by at least one viewer how long it took to make the video and I have to admit it was quite the challenge to make such an epic masterpiece. Not least because my green screen was so small I couldn't raise my arms above my head and the camera kept running out of battery. My collection of household angle-poise lamps did a great job though and gave me the healthy orange glow I know we all secretly strive for.

I'm lining up interviews as I type having tagged a whole host of celebrities through Andy's Twitter. I don't have one myself as his is just full of worked-up people talking about politics and totally egocentric non-celebrities trying to promote their videos. Who really needs that?

As a social media star though I do have plenty of the others though. There's my Instagram for people with limited reading ability, my Facebook for old people, Youtube for my videos and a website for...well, I don't know who really but you have to have one don't you if you want to be taken seriously as an artist.

Subscribe to all of them as soon as you've finished reading this. My Instagram is currently very exclusive and intimate and won't just be full of pictures of me as - being a singer, songwriter and storyteller who observes the world - they'll be pictures of the world as I see it too. And cats. Lots of cats.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Fringe Shows and Anything Goes

The Buxton Fringe launched at the start of July with over a hundred shows appearing either virtually or to very small audiences of six. A challenging but much appreciated effort by the organisers to provide something in these challenging times. With Disco Divorce Party on ice until 2021 I submitted 'Parodies from the Peak District' as an online video music show complete with green screen, costumes and lyric subtitles.

The response so far has been amazing with over a hundred people viewing the show, a solidly great review from the fringe team and with currently with the most comments (all positive I may add) of any show at Buxton on the website. The program of events can be found here - I'm first in the comedy section.

Parodies gets its own live performance at 8pm on Saturday 29th August through Zoom with Laughing Horse - the team who run The Free Festival at Edinburgh Fringe. Consequently I've invested in a better microphone for such things and experimented with the feed to check I can be heard. Some green screen backdrops would have been nice but they appear to beyond the reach of my somewhat antiquated laptop. Still, you'll get a nice view of the lounge. More info on the show, and all the others happening throughout August here.

Elsewhere on the web, Anything Goes Online continues to bring together fresh new lockdown comedy from across the country with a number of regulars creating their own mini-series whilst others chuck 20 second moments of inspiration into the mix. Well worth a watch and it's free and here.

Once summer's over it'll be back in the lab with Disco Divorce Party but complementing this is my new Youtube series following my own character - singer/songwriter social media sensation (and primary school music teacher) Angela Bra (pronouced like candalabra and just as classy.) The first episode/song will land on Monday but in the meantime you can have a look at the website if you're so inclined.

This will be the last time I refer to her in the third person so should she be posting in the future expect it direct from my sister's mouth - an approach that respects the genre and builds depth but does have the potential to make me look like I've developed a multiple personality disorder...

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Anything Goes Online Open Mic, June 18th

Many things in life at the moment aren't predictable. But as sure as a
nything, every second Thursday the latest installment of Anything Goes hits Youtube. Starting out as a bit of an experiment with a handful of clips mainly drawn from live recordings at previous shows it has since grown into its own little community featuring an ever-growing cast of comedians, on the whole, creating content for the lockdown era with little regard to delivering it in the confines of a ten spot at the Dog & Donkey Bum on a weekday night.

Things are getting ever more experimental in this episode with green screens, multi-track recording, DJ mashups, subverted TV footage, travelogues and Death itself putting in an appearance. Plus me as Gwen-Stefani-if-she'd-become-a-news-anchor-for-Fox of course.

Give it a whirl, give the acts you love some likes and shares and share the playlist far and wide. The ever-so catchy link is below, though you could always divert people to here ( instead to follow the trail.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Double Trouble in the Youtube Bubble

It was a parody video party this weekend with not one but two new videos uploaded to Youtube, plus the full Parodies From The Peak District fringe show for 2020 got its first airing at the Hastings Online Comedy Festival.

The first video came about following a Facebook post about Donald Trump's 74th birthday being on Sunday 14th June. I'd been meaning to address some of his near-beyond-parody actions of late but was well aware of the number of Trump-related videos already out there. His birthday provided this opportunity.

I haven't said much about the Black Lives Matter movement online but needless to say that, having taught in inner London for most of my teaching career, I have always been invested in the advancement of the lives of children of all backgrounds. The current situation being particularly pertinent given one ex pupil of mine later died in a horrific incident with police.

I don't do marches and I don't think my hashtag really helps anyone so instead I took No Doubt's 90's mega-hit 'Don't Speak' and reworded it to take him to task on some of the ugliest things he's done recently and in the past. Using primary school children's coding program of choice, Scratch, I created an animated Trump band to back my Garageband and iMovie powered creation.

Then for good measure I decided to use this video to introduce my drag in development alter-ego to the world. The styling was loosely based on Gwen Stefani but observations have been made that I look more like the anchor on an American news channel. Still, given Trump's open disregard for the rights of those who don't fit his ultra conservative views it should only add oil to the fire of potential grim right wing reaction regardless of who I resemble. Which I think is a good thing.

Anyway, I'm very proud of it musically, technically and personally so click here or on the pic to see it in action.

Speaking of the grim right wing, my second track addressed the remnants of the far right who massed in London on Saturday to piss on the statues they claimed to be there to protect. Having assumed both the EDL and Britain First had died an infighting death years ago it was a surprise to see these thugs on tour again looking for nothing more than to get drunk and shout at the police.

Unlike the first video, this one was short and sharp and, by my own admission, no great work of art. As a result, from sound recording to video to release the whole project took less than ninety minutes.

It is no surprise to me that the second one quickly overtook the Trump video in terms of views. Having an awareness of what people are talking about right now is worth a lot more than a snazzy video or well honed wordplay when it comes to the internet. Here's a joke, it's one minute long, enjoy!

So for those of you who like to mix The Wannadie's "You And Me Song" with alcohol fuelled ultra-nationalism click the pic or click this.

Last but not least, thanks to Hastings Comedy Festival for adding Parodies from the Peak District to their festival at the last minute. I hope those who saw it enjoyed it. I'll be adding a direct link to my site in July when it joins various other bills across the country.