Monday, 17 December 2018

One week - Three gigs

Since the last time I wrote life has been keeping us plenty busy both on the comedy front and that other one known as everyday life. With wall coverings in our house being ripped down and put back up sans-artex swirls and financial experiments ranging from DJing to selling children's books at boot sales, performing has been given a chance to breathe. 

The past month's hiatus from the stage, Anything Goes aside, has also enabled the completion of all the new tracks for our 2019 show, "99 (First World) Problems". Lyrically and musically more ambitious than anything we've done before, we're looking forward to taking them out to a string of festivals next year which so far include Leicester, Buxton and Manchester. Edinburgh applications open shortly with our friends Laughing Horse and there are a number of other places we intend to take our rhyming frustrations with modern living to as well. Stay tuned.

This week though has put us back on the road (literally now we're in the north and without a decent public transport network) and has witnessed three performances, all unique in their own way.

First up we were in Lancaster last Wednesday for the Christmas comedy special at The Gregson, a rather wonderful community-lead pub with three decent rooms for events under its roof. With singing drifting out from one and an environmental film in full swing in another we found ourselves in the third space - a neat little room with a stage and six rows of chairs. The crowd was sparse and 3/4 made up of people Anna had invited. 

Almost every set made grudging or self-deprecating reference to the low turnout with the energy level to match. Weirdly surreal in places, we closed the show with a couple of songs and probably raised the party vibes from a 1 to at least a 3. Everyone involved was lovely and the night deserved to be more successful than it was - though there's something strangely prophetic about when even the Christmas crackers the MC uses throughout the show turn out to not even have jokes in them. 

Next stop was a local one with the final Anything Goes of the year at Isaac's in Glossop. Anna rested so it was down to me to take the MC reigns and welcome acts from as far afield as Rhyl, Leeds and Stoke on Trent. We had one liners, songs about bodily functions and observational storytelling in this evening's mix and the audience really went for it with the first outing for our new song, Shake It, bemoaning the spirit crushing experience of waiting at the bar whilst the staff slowly but surely grind out a large cocktail order. I usually close the show with a song too but this evening David Eagle and his accordion blew everyone away with a trio of exceptionally funny songs and the job was well and truly done. AG returns as a monthly event starting Jan 9th with a new ticketed night kicking off at The Globe on the 24th.

The final show of the week drove into Skipton on Sunday at a bar advertising drag queen karaoke and cocktails made of Love Heart sweets. Instantly enamoured with the place we headed in and met the other acts at the back of the bar. The show took place in the main room on a stage that resembled an industrial coffee table. If you were drinking you were audience so the numbers weren't bad. They were also somewhat loud and drunk as far as the first table were concerned but even they managed to sustain attention on those performing for the most part. 

Following sets including several surprisingly confident tens from acts with less than ten gigs under their belt, an MC dressed as "Shit Santa" driving a remote control car around the pub with a rubber penis taped to its roof and a battering ram of intense Scouse humour from the promoter just before we came on the intro track started and we got people's hands in the air shouting along and, in pockets all over the pub, mobile phones recording the proceedings. 

Meal Deal did its job, preceded by Anna J mercilessly ribbing audience members for their food choices and, in the case of the BGT semi-finalist sat right at the front, their hairstyle. Once we'd come down from that it was on to Gentrifried, a more relaxed and lyrically dynamic song which kept everyone who wasn't seven cocktails to the wind laughing whilst those incapable of comprehension at least managed a shoulder shuffle on their stools.

Job done we sat back to watch the headliner and eat our sandwiches (yes, we take sandwiches to our gigs nowadays). Show over, all that was left was to agree a headline spot for next year and drive the dark roads back to Glossop.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Anything Goes and the Binary Bar

Last Thursday's AG was another belting little hour that showcased talent from both near and far. Eleanor Mottershead opened with some locally sourced singing before Katherine Ferns (from Canada via Wigan) stepped up with a strong ten minutes of new material from her forthcoming Edinburgh show. This was followed by Westcountry comedian, now resident of Glossop, Harriet Dyer putting on her broadest accent and drawing on her upbringing with a sideline in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles references. The final act to take the stage was Mancunian Jack Vincent with a self deprecating exploration of his very being. Shout out to the New Mills massive, nice to see some of our cousins coming over the hill for this one!

Yesterday it was our turn to guest at someone's show so we hopped in the rap-mobile and powered into Manchester for our closing set at The Binary Bar. Host, Matty, was enthusiastic, helpful and all-round brilliant whilst the majority of the acts (some, recent AG performers) put in genuinely entertaining sets held together by an easy going MC from Birmingham.

As the last act on we had a good measure of the audience. Up for it, vocal and keen to laugh, it wasn't hard to get them shouting along with Meal Deal and Gentrified after ram raiding them with our intro track. The lack of two microphones meant we could indulge in some pantomime-level play fighting over it and we had enough space and volume to dance about and generally pretend we were at a rave. Definitely one to do again!

Monday, 29 October 2018

Anything Goes 25th October

For the first time in its five week history, local poets joined Anything Goes for its busiest night yet with no less than seven acts compressed into a concise hour of comedy and spoken word. 

Bolstered by a chatty birthday party group, the atmosphere was boisterous and welcoming for the acts who stepped up to perform. 

Following a rendition of Meal Deal by myself, David Bawden presented a tight ten of observational humour followed by Diane Fitton with her own take on the world. Tim Hoy then presented some stirring spoken word before resident comedian-in-progress Daniel advised the audience with a novel solution to deterring door-to-door salesmen. Stuart Thomas ruminated on being larger than life and Andy Millican wrapped things up with a few well chosen verses.

With the hour complete it was time to retire to the bar downstairs and review the night's proceedings, beer in hand. Next Thursday's show promises to be just as good with another full-to-bursting line-up of comedy travelling in for Manchester and beyond. Be sure to join us!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

What's on your t-shirt?

It was another cosy corner of comedy at Isaac's this week when we welcomed Manchester acts, Luke Helly, Richard Probert and Andrew Rowan to the stage alongside ourselves for sixty minutes of mirth. The drinks were flowing, spirits were high (in both senses) and the sofas were comfy. It was time to begin.

Anna J and I always like to start with a musical moan on a first world problem vibe so we kicked things off with a track about self checkouts then slid into the woes relating to the defining feature of our decade, the meal deal. The audience were up for it and were singing along in all the right places, it was time for our visiting acts.

Every set was entertaining and unique in it's own right with plenty of observational humour, punchy one-liners and, at one point, an extended a cappella remix of The Smiths mashed up with The Bee Gees. Two acts in we got personal and compared t-shirts, concluding that those with attire sporting slogans and logos from New York and Venice Beach had never visited either location...or Venice...or York...or even a beach in recent memory. Next time you see someone sporting such a t-shirt ask them what it was like there.

At the end all that was left was to acknowledge Andrew's Joy Division t-shirt and then sully their legacy with our alternative 80's themed track about finding yourself standing in a bad nightclub at 3am with no idea how you got there. Cheap disco lights, sticky carpet, the vague aroma of Lynx deodorant. We've all been there.

Which leads me to the conclusion of this entry with a question. Where is the worst nightclub you've ever been, what made it the worst and what was its one saving grace? The last blog entry had over 400 views so it would be good to hear from some of you in the comments section. Failing that, join us for the next Anything Goes at Isaac's this Thursday and tell us. There's almost certainly going to be some open mic from 8-8.45pm and the comedy hour kicks off at 9. As ever, entry is FREE!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The debut of the comedy hour

When starting a new night there's always a period of experimentation where you have to adapt your almighty vision to the realities of the area. Initially Anything Goes was planned to be a grand melting pot of creative locals, out of town special guests and community support. 

Three weeks in it was becoming obvious that the majority of the good people of Glossop would rather watch something than be obliged to be an active participant in it and to that end the fully open-mic approach originally designed to be core to the night has been subtly recast. Because I have a core belief in equal opportunities for self-expression the open mic element still exists between 8-8.45 but this is now a first half to a fully pre-booked comedy hour from 9pm of emerging acts and established pro's experimenting with new material.

This Thursday's show not only had a prime mix of acts travelling in Chester, Manchester and Blackburn but also a keen audience of locals and visitors from further afield. We enjoyed material from an Edinburgh Fringe work-in-progress, a self assured observational set exploring everything from the blurring of gender lines to driving under the influence, a short improvised set on sex from local hero Daniel and ten minutes in the world of bisexual politics. Spread throughout like mirthful glue, Anna J and I delivered four different first world problems in rap form before heading off in an unexpected direction with the audience on the meaning of fisting...what more could you ask for from a free night?

Drinks at the bar followed before heading off into the night. Next Thursday's lineup is again very strong and draws talent in from all over the north so why not swing by for a drink and a local warm-up at 8 before the hour kicks off at 9.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Isaac's New-Town...

Three shows in and Anything Goes continues to impress, both with the quality of its acts and the effort they make even when the audience numbers are small.

On a cold and quiet Thursday night we assembled for drinks and discussion before making our way up to Isaac's very nice function room to watch the UK's leading dinosaur impersonator, a former sideshow stuntman turned dealer of pure one liners, a gong-beating rising star, an avowed non-goth and our local up and coming gross-out stand-up. These followed my opening with a long overdue revival of Selfie Stick.

The good thing about running a weekly show in a place you're new to is that you quickly learn the lay of the local land as far as entertainment preferences go. My original assumption that Glossop is teaming with open mic legends in the making so far appears to be false with few guitar slinging troubadours or Peak District inspired poets ready and waiting to step up.

Instead there's a wealth of comedy talent ready and waiting to drive in from Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and beyond to hone their ten minutes into lean mean chuckle-delivery machines and there's a sizeable number of grassroots Glossopites who like a night out and a laugh. 

Therefore, from now on Anything Goes is powering forward with sixty minutes featuring the rising stars of comedy from 9pm, preceded by open mic from 8 for anyone local looking to take their first steps or share a song, story or joke.

Looking forward to next Thursday already!

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Welcome to the north

One month since our move from London and it's been a busy time for us here in Glossop. Having acclimatised to the fact strangers speak to you in the north and that people here don't live their lives to the rapid beat of commuting we've started to acquaint ourselves with our new surroundings and opportunities for a comedy rap duo outside the M25. 

Having secured the night before securing our house, Anything Goes is now two nights in (next one tomorrow) and is growing in both confidence and audience numbers. Our weekly show in the upstairs room of funky cocktail bar Isaac's looks and feels very much like Bear Jokes at Pub on the Park with its sofas, cosy dimensions and all important disco light. Most of the acts so far have travelled in from Manchester and beyond but last week a young local delivered his first ever five minutes and truly smashed it as far as spontaneous debuts go.

Yesterday kicked off things officially for our own act with confirmation that we're booked to perform at the Leicester Fringe next February in the cavernous back room of O'Neill's. Full stage, 80 seats and banging PA included - "99 (First World) Problems" is going to be immense.

That evening we also took fifteen minutes to Liverpool for Hot Water Comedy. The comedy kings of the city, since I last performed for them over two years ago in an adopted hotel suite they've opened two dedicated venues and are packing them in. Seel Street's room is everything a club should be and the staff were brilliant, friendly and professional. Thanks to it's notoriety most of the acts on the bill had travelled in for the show, two from Southend only trumped by another who'd flown in from Ireland. Being the sole musical comedy act, and a somewhat zany one at that, in a lineup of standup can always go two ways but the crowd warmed to us and couldn't get enough of Anna J's surly ways. As the venue manager put it, "I've never seen anything like your act, it's funny and completely mad." One for the press release.

As the way things always work at shows we also got to know some other acts and chatted with the affable Adam Hughes - who showed us the near-secret shisha bar above the venue and invited us to perform at his own nights in Blackburn and Skipton sometime. Looking forward to those!