Sunday, 29 November 2020

Quiz Nights and Christmas Cheer

With confirmation we were going to be stuck in Tier 3 for the foreseeable future, it was back to the internet for all things comedy this week. Who needs actual social contact when you've got a green screen and Streamyard? Well, everyone as it turns out but this runs a close second.

The first stop was making the video for Angela's Christmas parody tribute to Mariah Carey and nights out in the pub, 'All I Want For Christmas Is Spoons.' Featuring a Santa hat, an early Black Friday deal from Boohoo and thirteen vocal takes until something reasonable came out, this parody was initially inspired by Anna reading the distressed tweets of Glossopians mourning the continued closure of our local cheap drink chain pub. A few shares on the local Facebook groups and it topped 300 views in 24 hours. Where it goes from here remains to be seen but you can watch it here.

Saturday night was Bonkers Quiz Night and Annie Sup (say it quickly and you should get east end vibes round 'the old Joanna') joined Angela Bra for the full show. The guests were chatty and the atmosphere very lively as we clattered from one round into the next. At 90 minutes we gave triple gameshow value but every minute was well worth it. Angela has learned, however, that long false nails and trying to operate a laptop do not mix well. Feedback has been great and there's another show planned for Dec 12th, followed by the Boxing Day special on the 26th. Big thanks to Kitty Cassis, Donna Landy and Andy Onions for being our very special guests. The full stream can be watched again here.

This week Annie and Angela are working on the final draft of their 2021 festival show (cross fingers for the vaccine) and a potential second show spinoff. Annie is also writing her first quiz round, giving Angela the time to take pointless selfies and build on her Instagram following of 50.

Sunday, 15 November 2020

A Weekend of Quizzes

It's been a busy couple of days full of clever questions and occasionally clever answers as Angela Bra has both competed in and hosted a quiz show this weekend. In the run up to this there was much chaos on the hosting front as I got to grips with Streamyard, question writing and the best way to stream to ensure no-one appeared as a blurry collection of pixels. Overall, it work out pretty well.

First stop was on Friday night when I took part in Kate Bouquet's On The Game, an improv panel show hosted by drag superstar Kate Bouquet and in the company of a couple of stand up comics. Getting the brain in gear took most of the first round but after that I came up with a couple of winning answers in the Blankety Blank-esque competition to fill in the gaps and my conspiracy theory behind Pride and pea powered Boris bikes also took a few points. By the end of the show I'd come joint first and got my mind sufficiently sharpened to be confident Angela's own quiz the next night wouldn't be a complete disaster. You can watch the HD ready Youtube version on the link.

Angela Bra's Bonkers Quiz Night on Saturday was scheduled for 9pm but with tech, make-up, multiple outfit changes and general faffing about started three hours earlier. Come 8.40 though I was sat in front of a shower curtain festooned with fairy lights chatting to my contestants for the night. Bang on 9pm the intro rolled and we were off with four rounds of varying daftness. General knowledge in a general's hat was followed by a song lyric round, a video round featuring footage created by resident contestant Andy Onions, a bonus round just for Andy to account for him making the video and a final round involving guessing the weight of objects owned by Annie Sup (Angela's housemate / my wife.) I won't give away the pun powered titles for some of these rounds and will leave it to you to click the link and find out for yourself.

The show lastest about 1:15 and felt turbo-charged for the most part. Running a quiz is a very different beast to performing comedy straight and gives both the contestants and host the chance to continuously adlib safe in the knowledge that everyone will at some point come back to questions and answers. The pressure to be funny is less intense and as a result when funny occurs it's more natural.

Importantly also, with the pub quiz aspect opening the show up to multiple audiences the viewing figures were excellent with approximately 400 tuning in live and a further 200 watching the recorded version today. Once this lockdown's over Anna and I will be looking to take it live but until then regular episodes are almost guaranteed.

Tomorrow it's back to the weekday necessities but I'll certainly be looking for more opportunities for Angela to pop up on alongside her own doings. The most recent Anything Goes Online Comedy is close to 200 views itself which is a huge improvement on the past few.

I've also attracted a troll or two this week which I'll take a compliment.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Can I ask you a question?

Occasionally I make a decision that pans out for the best in retrospect. Two weeks ago, feeling frustrated, I started to make enquiries with the various bars in Glossop about running a covid-safe comedy night as the town was in tier two and with any luck would be moving down a rung within the month.

Then it occurred to me that this could be a lot of work for something that wouldn't happen so I retreated back to the box room office to think again. Days later Bonkers Bingo were on the phone to tell me that all the November shows were being punted into 2021 and could I think of anything that Angela could do to entertain the substantial army of Facebook followers they'd be amassing.

Now, I've always liked a pub quiz. I've always liked a gameshow. Not the daytime ones with real questions and actual tactics but the cheesy bombastic ones where previous rounds become irrelevent as the money doubles. Family Fortunes is king when it comes to this, Catchphrase and it's increasingly obscure non-sayings is heir to the throne and Pointless is most likely the court jester with its attempts to add marginally higher brow content through the veil of 100% silly.

Pub quizzes are great too because you get to join in. But the catch is they can go on forever and the questions are often far too challenging for mere mortals. There's also the issue with people cheating on their mobiles. The i-phoneys of the egghead world.

Incidentally, Eggheads is rubbish.

So I've started work on a gameshow pub quiz for these lockdown times. Some rounds will appeal to know-it-alls, others are more so for those who preferred their gameshows with a gunge tank. You might get all the questions right. You might not. There's no point in cheating because there aren't any prizes and if you're on your own you can chat with others by commenting on the Facebook stream and watching the "special guests" (also known as locked down comedians) on screen with Angela.

At a technical level there's an audio mixer for background music, a green screen and a video round. Will it all work properly? Probably not. But Angela isn't so good with the tech and she'll no doubt ride it out in style.

Angela Bra's Bonkers Quiz Night streams on the FB page for Bonkers Bingo - The Tour from 8.45pm with the quiz kicking off at 9pm and runs for a solidly manic 60 minutes on Saturday November 14th. Pop it in your diary by joining the event here.

Elsewhere on the internet, the November edition of Anything Goes Online went live and has already had more views that any of the previous three did in a month. It could be the quality. It's more likely that no-one can go anywhere. If you fancy a fix of new acts and new material from across the UK the playlist starts here!

I'll leave this with a joke that popped into my head this afternoon when Anna showed me a photo taken during her walk in a churchyard. No, I don't want to know who thought of it first hundreds of years ago!

#quiz #comedy #drag #standup #musicalcomedy #blog

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.