Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Getting "High" In Manchester

When people create scales they usually have a ranking that runs from low to high. But the people in government are not usual people. They have a ranking system that starts at "medium" and then climbs to "high" and "very high" in a move somewhat reminiscent of a certain minister who in the past said all schools should have "above average" results.

Manchester is "high" (insert obvious joke) which, though not as bad as the tier above, is still pretty grim for bars and similar venues. Yes, you can get a drink. No, you can't drink it with anyone outside of your household.

So Bonkers Bingo in Stalybridge this Friday is still on and, presumably, now reduced to a weird take on Family Fortunes. This does mean that Angela's latest videos promoting the show, and her MCing of it, have not been made completely in vain. 'Balls Balls Balls' has clocked up over 400 views on Facebook Video whilst 'Sani-Tiger' is heading that way with an additional 200 eyeballs on Youtube. Her latest track - the closest she's ever going to get to writing a protest song, 'Bars,' had 100 Youtube views in 24 hours + another 50 or so through Facebook. Whether songs do better on Facebook Video or Youtube, and if FB better promote content it hosts, is an experiment in progress for me. Currently, there's no clear winner.

What I do know is that the most watched video of Angela's on Instagram TV comes in at 28 views. Clearly there's still some way to go before she becomes a social media sensation.

And before you ask. Yes, as well as views the videos do actually have likes. And yes, I have grown my subscribers by a modest but much valued amount.

Elsewhere in comedy, Retfest is on in two weekends' time and Parodies from the Peak District will be showing in video form. There's also a chance I'll be doing something more live for them in the run-up to it next week. With the chance of live shows further diminished by Boris's flipflopping I'm pretty much a streamer for hire for as long as this cruddy situation continues.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Back on stage

Last Thursday I broke my covid enforced stage absence with a show in Manchester for new act / new material show The Laughienda. Based at The Lions Den on Deansgate the beer was ordered from the bar by text message and the audience were socially distanced only in the physical sense. In short, a nice little night.

Overall it was thoroughly entertaining with a number of more experienced hands stretching their stand-up wings once again. Ben Silver and Hannah Platt performed either side of me in the final segment and both were great to watch. Also, it's also nice to see Adam Hughes, on MC duties, hasn't let fatherhood or lockdown change his raucous rambling approach to crowd work and drinking on the job.

My own set gained momentum after a slightly shaky start with 500 Miles, making its live debut as the mic stand recoiled and forced me to pretty much stand over it to be heard, before I gave it a few determined twists and tugs and knocked out Stuck in the Lidl With You and Ex On Fire like the stalwarts they really are now they form the core of my Parodies from the Peak District show.

By 9:50pm the show had run and we were outside the venue - the audience using the QR code posters to donate to the night. Laughienda is every Thursday night at The Lions Den from 7pm. Entry is free and you should definitely go.


Back in the virtual world, Anything Goes Online put out it's October show with Angela Bra on MC duties. So far it's clocked up 74 views. Small beer to most people but it's more than the last one and well worth a watch!

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Covid Confined Comedy Series Completes!

It's been a month since the last blog but that doesn't mean nothing has been happening. In fact, quite the opposite. Okay, that is excepting the small matter of breaking out of our sickly isle for a week in Turkey (productivity rating: 0, sitting in the sun and swimming in a pool rating: 10) but otherwise it's been rather busy.

Last week I published the sixth and final vlog/music video for the 'At Home With Angela' mini-series on Youtube. A green screen on green screen tribute to female fronted indiepop bands of the past and a certain contemporary comedy duo, Tea Time Lottery turned the guitars up to an audible level but still made room for some mum-at-the-wedding-disco dancing in the choruses. 

I had hoped that by the end of this series the pandemic would be easing but quite the opposite appears to be happening. Angela is booked in for several appearances with Bonkers Bingo in the coming months but early closing, social distancing and super-lockdown measures in the north mean that these will be the only shows she'll be doing in the forseeable future thanks to the large rooms they inhabit and the useful coincidence that bingo has always been a form of fun delivered best seated with people you know.

So for now the focus stays online. In a tribute to the multi-format music releases of the past (who remembers the CD, tape, vinyl trio that used to be offered on the weekly singles?) I'll be uploading re-edited versions of the AHWA shows onto Facebook and Instagram in the coming months. 

Angela will also be hosting Anything Goes Online for the while. Now published monthly, my round-up of the best new UK comedy on the web will feature actual links between sections of the show and even more content. The last one was a bit slim on clips, a sign some people are actually getting back to work I think, but October's is looking really good at the moment.

Anything else to report? Angela's been approached by Britain's Got Talent today and a sportswear brand has written to her offering to pay her for endorsements in her videos. Will either go anywhere? If you see more footage of the sort last seen in Fitness To Practice then you'll certainly know!

In parody news, I'm playing a show next Thursday in Manchester for Laughienda and Retford Festival will be showing the full fringe show online in October.

As I said, it's been a busy month.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Parodies International and Angela's Balls Balls Balls

This evening Parodies from the Peak District got it's first proper live airing thanks to Laughing Horse and their virtual Edinburgh Fringe offering. I had no idea who would be buying up the tickets to see me pay homage / desecrate the hits of The Smiths, Erasure, The Zutons and others in a vague narrative of my life between 2018 and 2019. Come 8pm I had a Zoom gallery window largely made up of retired Americans and Australians - plus a few Brits. 

When the first question posed by your audience is "Where is the Peak District?" you know that it's going to be an interesting 45 minutes. They were all an absolute joy of course and there's was plenty of chat between the songs. It had the vibe of one of the smallest festival rooms you get at the fringe where the fourth wall is so blurred its part theatre show / part dinner party minus the food. Except in this case people actively encourage you to get your guitar out and sing some songs. 

I can now also say with some certainty that no-one outside the UK realised that Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse didn't write Valerie. Educational and entertaining.

Elsewhere this week, project Angelabra continued with her first live outing as the featured comedy act at Bonkers Bingo - an all singing / all dancing Butlins-style cabaret with a few games of bingo thrown in for good measure. Nearly thwarted by unforseen circumstances the show went on and Angela spent a good portion of her set ribbing the tipsy but good-natured audience members at the front before cracking out I Love My Microwave and finding the same set of people singing along to the chorus.

Performing in pretty much the same outfit featured in the photo (a still from her advert for the night) it turned a few heads in what was an otherwise ultra-straight cocktail bar come gastropub but there was no grief or heckles that the reputation of a location like Bolton might suggest. Angela may actually be more mainstream than first thought. Or Bolton is more camp.

Why Balls Balls Balls in the title? This.



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.