Monday, 20 January 2020

The Script Writing Begins


She is very knowledgeable. In her spare time she follows current affairs. She knows about everyone who’s having an affair in our town. And to check they’re still current, she follows them...

Scripting a comedy show is a tricky beast. In our previous Edinburgh hours there was a simple, but effective formula:

1. Pose a question to the audience that relates to the next song.
2. Improvise some quips in response to their answers.
3. Tell everyone their job in the next song.
4. Perform the next song.
5. Repeat 4 times.
6. Anna J performs a surreal monologue.
7. Return to steps 1-4 and repeat 3 more times.
8. Bucket Speech. End.

This worked well. Not least because both of us were in full time work with long hours and the idea of learning anything more than the songs themselves was unrealistic.

This year things are different. This year we've dialled down the day job hours in favour of a little work-life balance. This year I decided to swap the golf visor for a blonde wig and a show that really only works as a full show and can't be diluted into something shorter than a twenty minute set.

This weekend Anna and I embarked on our first run-through of the songs since last week when we worked on who was exactly singing what in each track.

Singing is a big part of this show, unlike First World Problems which tended to only detour from the rap in choruses. My strongest singing voice up to now has been a low baritone with more than a hint of Phil Oakey from The Human League about it.

However, in DDP (an acronym for Disco Divorce Party which sounds like a department of government) I'm pushing a Gemma-Collins-having-a-breakdown vibe and this needs a little work as I currently start songs sounding nominally like the "fabulous" GC herself before turning into anyone from Michael Caine to the randy grannies created by Harry Enfield. Anna, of course, has only to switch up the moody Anna J to someone less adolescent and is already in fine voice.

Still, the songs themselves are, in my considered opinion, very much all killer and no filler and are in many ways a lot more ambitious than those in the FWP cannon. Recordings will not be online anytime soon though (see previous paragraph.)

The script is in development. The quote that kicked off this entry is from the start where we introduce each other in the style of a gameshow / dating profile. As a barometer of sophistication this will probably be as cerebral as it gets but who knows, it's taken me two hours to write two links so we've got some way to go next.

After that, learn it all - leaving opportunities for audience interaction and improv - and after that...

Dance routines.

As you can see from the photo, our cat is very much looking forward to this.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

New Year, New Blog

Happy new year everybody! having recovered from the mince pies, prosecco and turkey it's into 2020 with plenty to be getting on with.

Let's start with the most obvious. The blog's had a refresh. A refresh in the same way that demolishing a house and rebuilding it is a refresh. There are now pages for all my comedy endeavours both on the stage and behind the scenes in one convenient place. Gone is the original website (how very 2019) - here is the central hub blog with it's link-enabled tentacles reaching out to the various Facebook pages, Twitters, Instagrams, Soundclouds and numerous other things that take up all the time that should be going into writing and producing actual material. What do you think? All feedback appreciated. So long as it's positive because this has taken ages and I'm in no mood to change it.

So what's going on in real life? 

First and foremost, Anna and I have launched a Facebook page for our new show, Annie and Angela's Disco Divorce Party. Set to take our musical comedy up to a whole new level, I've written a whole bunch of new songs and been experimenting with contouring whilst everyone else has been watching Dracula and the remake of A Christmas Carol (spoiler alert, Scrooge likes Christmas by the end.) Combining the best bits of First World Problems (catchy multi-genre songs, audience participation, a general disrespect for the conventions of an Edinburgh fringe show) with drag, disco lights and something resembling an actual script (ish) we've got a long way to go before we have anything like the full hour worked out but we've already got some provisional dates booked in and at least one song will be on Youtube with a video by May. 

Secondly, applications for the Glossop Comedy Festival are now open. Running from the 10th to 12th of July more info can be found on the Facebook page for anyone interested in performing. Following the success of the Oakwood Fringe in 2019 I'm looking forward to this full weekend event being even better and the start of an annual event here on the edge of the Peak District.

Thirdly, I'm slowly but surely putting dates in the diary for appearances with Parodies from the Peak District. I've got a competition in a few months so now I've got an albums-worth of tracks in the sack (the benefit of only having to write the lyrics I totally admit) give me a shout if you happen to be a booker. Links to video etc can be found here.

And last but not least, Anything Goes returns to Isaac's here in Glossop on Feb 6th - moving from the first Wednesday of the month to the first Thursday. If you'd like 5 or 8 minutes (experience depending) just drop me an email.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Workshops and Festivals

Last night was my final live performance of the year and one that summarised the ups and downs of promoting nights. Following a decent little Anything Goes a couple of weeks ago, Clash of the Tight Tens brought together six acts (down two due to car trouble) from near and far to wait expectantly in a room for the substantial number of ticket holders who'd booked a freebie in advance.

Come 8.30 we were still waiting so it was into workshop mode as everyone took it in turns to demo their new material. Reserved for the fledgling comedian, a surprising (to the uninitiated) number of new act / new material nights go this way so to acts with the collective experience of this room it was a familiar but unexpected chance to settle in and take part in a real-life version of Gogglebox. There were one-liners about relationships, references to WWII, personal storytelling with the potential for a punchline and a song about budget supermarkets (mine.)

Anything Goes returns on the first Thursday of February whilst applications for The Glossop Festival (on the weekend of July 10th-12th) open on January 1st. Acts looking to bring 50 minutes to Glossop should send a press release, photo and video link to apply.

As for our own show, three tracks from First World Problems have now been re-worded and their musical arrangements revamped and improved whilst two brand new tracks are also complete. Two further new tracks are awaiting lyrics and once that's done it'll be on to scripting the links. It's shaping up to be a quite a show and very different to what we've been doing with FWP over the past few years. Exciting times. 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Remember Remember the 4th of December

Last night Anything Goes Open Mic did itself proud with a lineup that spanned one-liner stand-up to surrealist monologues via musical mirth making. The audience, and yes there was an audience, enjoyed themselves throughout and we even recruited some new local performers.

Isaac's upstairs room is a small space which, when coupled with the angle-poise desk lamp lighting and floral wall paper, shelves of old photos and sofas for those watching, gives the impression of being someone's lounge. With a disco light. It's a friendly warm space and one which means you can easily slip from acts on their third or forth appearance to gig hopping pro's like tonight's de facto headliner, Dave Bawden - arriving fresh from a spot in Liverpool just in time to close the night.

The final Clash of the Tight Tens of 2019 is on Sunday December 15th at The Oakwood. Set to be a good one, many seats already reserved. You too can book a few for free here.

Away from running gigs, Anna and I are in the depths of preparing our new musical comedy show for 2020. Taking elements from First World Problems, it's otherwise looking to be an entirely new endeavour with character comedy at its core and a playlist of brand new tracks - give or take a couple of revamped and remixed tracks from previous shows. FWP isn't being retired entirely but for our own creative sanity it'll be taking a back seat for the forseeable future. The acoustic parodies continue as far as my solo club set is concerned - the new show possibly too quirky to translate well into a ten or even twenty minute set.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

The two minute audience couple.

It's Sunday night in Glossop and eight comedians are gathered in the function room of The Oakwood together with six audience members. It's nearly 8:30pm and I've played a song, two acts have brought chuckles from the assembled and Paul Campbell is about to come on stage.

A couple arrive and sit in the second row. I welcome them in and welcome the final act of the first half. The couple smile and sip their drinks. Paul literally rips the roof off (well, makes the windows shake a bit given the size of the audience). The audience are laughing a lot. Except for the new couple.

The new couple look at each other.

The new couple sip their drinks.

The couple look at each other again and one of them whispers to the other.

The other one whispers back.

The audience laugh very loudly. The couple miss the joke.

The couple get up and leave.

Incapable of laughing couple aside, the show went well - especially considering the diminished numbers. Glossop is proving hard work for audience despite flyers at the bar, posters in both the bar and local shops + a hefty does of social media / online listings activity but I'm not going anywhere (literally, I don't even want to think about how much we've spent on the house in the last year). The fun continues in December both with CotTT on the 15th and Anything Goes Open Mic on the 4th - message me for a spot at the latter, all are welcome to do what they please for 5 minutes.

Have I made new videos for the parody songs? Have I heck, I've been repairing a shower. However, it's on the to-do list so you never know. Tonight I'm in Chorlton at the trendy sounding Beechwood Tap House doing ten minutes. Official beard count to be announcedc when I write next.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

London: Gig and a Festival Meet and Greet at The Bill Murray

Last Thursday night I departed a rapidly submerging Glossop to London for a weekend of comedy antics.

On Friday night I joined Sonia Aste for Comedy at the Castle in Aldgate East. The original home to Clash of the Tight Tens, I handed the reigns over to everyone's favourite exuberant Spaniard in the run up to departing the capital. Now a buzzing new act night, I put in a quick ten at the start of the show with my guitar and a couple of Parodies from the Peak District songs. As a tester for what a Southern crowd would make of a song full of northern references I was pleasantly surprised with the reception for "I Will Eat", but the big laughs came with "My Ex". A while later I was down in the main bar with the ever brilliant Andy Onions having a drink and a pint.

Saturday was a day of friends and family but on Sunday it was comedy time again with a festival meet and greet at The Bill Murray organised by Simon Caine. Attending both as an act and as founder of The Glossop Comedy Festival (formerly The Oakwood Fringe) I was shown to my group of chairs with my logo on a little sign for what turned out to be a session of comedy speed dating with acts moving around the room. I met plenty of interesting people with a range of different shows to offer and ended the afternoon with a pile of flyers and postcards (pictured.) I also got chatting to other promoters in the room and now have a shortlist of festivals to which "Andy Quirk and Anna J Have Issues" may be visiting. Largely guided by locations where we know people who live there!

***

If you're wondering why the Parodies From The Peak District Youtube channel hasn't updated for a while it's because I've been away a lot. More will be coming soon. For the while, check out the channel here.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Blackpool and the final Newsjack jokes no-one wanted

I have never been to Blackpool.

There's a first time for everything though so, following the postponement of a gig in North Wales, I buzzed the Micra north to the home of lights, a tower and - as it turned out - a pier that came out quite epic on my camera during my wander around the town before the gig.

The Comedy Station is a proper comedy club sitting pretty much opposite Blackpool Tower's entrance and attracted a neat little group of 30 or so adventurous individuals looking to sample the new act night. Host and club owner, Ryan eased them in after ejecting a man who was on the wrong side of eight pints and a seasoned pro called Chris stepped up to try out some new material, notepad in hand. The response was good and I hopped up next.

Things started well with the intro track booming out but as it dropped into the verse something was missing. The something turned out to be all the instruments except the drums and I realised we had a stereo-input-going-into-a-mono-jack situation on our hands. Something that through exceptional bad luck hadn't been picked up in soundcheck on account of the first eight bars of said track somehow all miraculously being audible.

Somewhat thrown, I had a chat with the audience and hoped the next track would somehow be okay. The intro to Shake It sounding like interference on an AM radio suggested otherwise. However, a quick change of scenery for the FWP iPad from the stage to an input at the mixing desk meant the show could go on and both Shake It and Meal Deal got their North-West seaside debut.

The acts that followed were all strong, including Keith Wild who yet again crossed paths with me and brought the house down with some familiar and not-so-familiar guitar-based mirth making. I headed off in the final break unsure of how well my set had gone down after my tech-related false start but received a much appreciated ego boost by a group of audience members at the entrance stopping me to say how much they enjoyed it.

And now for those Newsjack jokes I submitted this week that didn't make the show. Thumbs up to Tom Little though, who I heard credited at the end of this week's episode.

BREAKING NEWS: 

1. Extinction Rebellion protestors learned on Monday that their demonstrations in London had been officially banned. Thanks to their tactic of gluing themselves to objects, police predict a sticky end. 

2. This week it was reported that churches are using social media to improve links with their congregations. The next step is a brand new platform that will also host Christian music, called Hymn Book. 

3. Due to what they refer to as a “technical error,” Vodaphone customers in Europe this week were shocked to receive texts informing them that they had racked up roaming charges close to five thousand pounds. Needless to say, it wasn’t the 4G they’d been expecting.