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.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Parodies and Rap Requests

How's your week been? Covid-compliant comedy contined this week in a multitude of ways alongside the occasional raid on Aldi and walks when it wasn't raining.

Andy Quirk's Parodies From The Peak District Festival Show
With live comedy all but a distant memory with no sign of an imminent return several festivals this year have gone down the virtual route. With First World Problems in furlough, Disco Divorce Party back in the workshop and At Home With Angela only just becoming something; festival duties fell to the parodies set, a green screen and a bunch of plastic flowers.

Recording the audio has been the easy bit. There are seven songs in the set plus "bonus" tracks in the form of the two Boris/Dominic Cummings videos I recently uploaded. In the space of three days I'd written bass and drum tracks to accompany the guitar and put enough reverb on my vocal to suggest I've recorded in a cave.

Given what I've learned from the Anything Goes Online Open Mic, sitting in front a camera and playling along to these songs in the lounge isn't going to cut it. Online audiences have attention spans attuned to short clips rather than anything longform unless the budget is appropriately broadcast-TV-sized.

My plan, each song presented with a short intro and then slotted together somewhat like an album. Each music video performed in front of a constantly changing green screen in a variety of costumes relavent to either the original recording artist, an association with them or with the song.

The end result should resemble in some ways a low budget Channel 5, "Top 100 TV adverts of all time," type clip show - with the exception that every wistful piece to camera about a clip the comedian or commentator had probably only seen shortly before recording their piece is taken by me on my iPhone somewhere in the Peak District.

Will it work? Who knows. These are experimental times. Buxton, Morecambe and New Mills Fringe Festivals are all on board for it - in essence providing a listing and link to my host page with the obligatory donate button positioned optimistically under the video screen.

Anything Goes Online Open Mic
Speaking of clip shows, AG goes from strength to strength with a modestly sized regular audience clicking through on a fortnightly basis to see what comedians have sent in. Many of the acts are becoming regulars too with Mark Rodrigues, Marty Gleeson and Tom Short appearing on all the shows so far. This week's show also has some polished stand-up from the annoyingly young Sam Serrano and a number of others who probably look back at their live clips like they're from a long-forgotten era.

500 Miles / Dom's The One And Only
Proof, if needed, that timing is everything. 500 Miles came out the day after Dominic Cummings' trip up north became public knowledge. The video is somewhat thrown together and the audio was done in one take. Views to date: 62,000.

Dom's The One And Only came out three days later and, though more about Boris's defence of his advisor than Dom himself, scraped through the 1,000 mark yesterday despite a much superior video, audio recording and set of lyrics.

More will follow when a news story comes along that has the legs to run for a few days and I'm not still dancing about in front of a green screen dressed as a crap Morrissey.

What about the "Rap Requests" in your subject line?
Ah yes, that. Yesterday I received a message out of the blue from someone who watched Andy Quirk's Got First World Problems three years ago in Brighton. Their boyfriend is turning thirty next week and they both still sing Airport to this day. She asked if I could record a birthday message or rap for him, which I'll be doing later today like a proper "celeb" once I've dusted off the FWP golf visor. To me, its little things like this that mean a lot more than any review or number of Youtube views possibly could.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

500 Miles and The One And Only

First of all, can I say a huge thankyou to everyone who's viewed 500 Miles and its follow-up Dom's The One And Only in the past few days. When I scribbled some half baked lyrics on a notepad on May 23rd I thought 500 Miles might prove popular enough to break the thousand views barrier.

36,000 views later and still rising, this is now the most watched video I've ever made by a margin of about 35,400. The Proclaimers may even make a few more pennies off their best known song and good luck to them for that.

It's been interesting to read the comments and see people come together enjoying the song, plugging their own or starting intense political debate and conspiracy theories around why this particular event has been so high profile in the news compared to transgressions by other political figures. Bless the lot of you - this song isn't going to change anything and neither will an angry rant in the comments section of a meme. Have you ever read the comments on Mail Online? I did yesterday for the first time and nearly lost a day.

Yesterday morning, Anna and I came up with the concept of Dom's The One And Only over our morning coffee. Longer and technically a lot better (in true blogger style let's plug the products: Photoshop, iMovie, Garageband) - in the grand tradition of follow-ups to "hit singles" I fully expect it to do not nearly so well. Six hours of effort created this true work of art and art should be created for art's sake.

I'm joking. Please share the proverbials out of this :)

Elsewhere in comedy, thanks to those who gave feedback on the original tracks for At Home With Angela. The character's developing and I should have some kind of video series ready in a few months. Or whenever I stop making political parodies. I'm also working on a Parodies From The Peak District show for both Morecambe and Buxton Virtual Fringes this year. The green screen is going to get plenty of use that's for sure.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Anything Goes Online Open Mic #4

Click to view the show!
Yesterday the latest episode of Anything Goes Online went live on Youtube with another fantastic selection of acts. Some have been on before, others are brand new. All are worth a watch so click the picture to commence proceedings!

Assuming you've done as directed you may have noticed a unifying feature of the clips this month. In coincidental follow-up to my post about the Abba parody earlier this month, the production values of the clips are all rocketing away from the comedian-talks-to-their-webcam style (in plentiful supply in earlier shows) and towards TV-esque micro-series with cut scenes, green screens, subtitles and rolling credits. One in particular even has a blooper reel on the end of it.

With lockdown forcing all performers into a screentime or die scenario it seems many have taken the time to pick up a copy of iMovie or equivalent and set about getting their work out to the biggest audience possible by playing a glossier game. 

In this fortnight's show Jack Kelly moves into documentary parody featuring a cast that includes his mum, Aimee Cooper goes the classic route of addressing you directly through the camera as a member of her fitness group (complete with green screen background), Marty Gleeson present the third episode of her ongoing one woman sitcom, Zachary Slater goes mad with Powerpoint, Tom Short and his partner Rhiannon are up to episode thirty two thousand of their travel and lifestyle mocumentary and Gaz Smith produces an entire noir pastiche with the aforementioned blooper reel. This leaves just myself powered by green screen and some, occasionally awkward, dubbing + a straight to camera song by Mark Rodrigues that in this new context actually looks like a deliberate act of indie-inspired minimalism right down to the point that he leans forward to turn off the camera at the end.

Regarding the rights and wrongs of this new normal I'd conclude that no-one knows right now. High production values often make for better viewing but conversely they can delay getting an idea out quick enough for it to be relevent. From my own experience it's quite apparent how little content is going out that is based on current events - beyond a general nod towards Covid-19. When you spend time and effort on something you want it to last so a joke about a dodgy quote from a politician or commentary on a soon forgotten event seems like a waste of time. Perhaps it's just best left to Have I Got News for You and its awkward no-audience atmosphere for the while. Then again, maybe someone will come up with something that works. At the moment there are a lot of unknowns and its actually quite exciting to be observing and being a part of it.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Comedy Competitions and Furloughed Festivals

As the lockdown continues the festivals continue to fall. Though already a foregone conclusion, the loss of Edinburgh this year was further confirmed by email last week with Edfringe requesting bank details to send refunds to. The chances of a "mini-Edinburgh" also currently look slimmer than the regulation 2 metres social distance that would be required for anything to go ahead.

My own Glossop Festival, scheduled for mid-July, is also now looking very unlikely and I'm looking at alternatives ranging from postponement to the Autumn to re-running the whole thing next July and pretending 2020 simply didn't happen. Fortunately, very little money had been spent on this before the lockdown came in and I'm glad to say I don't have 5,000 festival programmes currently sitting under the stairs.

I did potentially have 5,000+ flyers for our 2019 Edinburgh show destined for that position last summer when I found they'd printed double the amount I'd requested but fortunately they were delivered to the venue and the city has a very good recycling system.

Do we even really need flyers anymore given the use of apps and websites though? Something to think about.

Anyway, one festival that did go ahead (sort of) was the West Didsbury Comedy Festival. This boutique event has been broadcasting panel games and a limited number of full length shows in place of the originally envisaged physical experience. They were also halfway through their new act competition heats when everyone was told to stop going out.

For a while it looked like the competition had been shelved but then it was announced the final heat would go ahead after all - online. And so it was that yesterday I sang about pies into my laptop whilst the public posted comments on a wall and the host and MC provided the laughs in the right places. As a viable alternative to the live experience there were plus points - not least that I could go and get a beer after my set without paying £5 for it - but I'd be lying if I said it had the same atmosphere. Still, a valiant attempt and 10/10 for effort by the organisers. I shall be watching the final on Sunday even if I didn't make it through to the next round, congratulations of course to those who did.

Disco Divorce Party rehearsals continue with Anna taking on scripting to transform the show into a full blown musical rather than our usual knockaround-with-the-audience approach. Meanwhile, Angela's online mini-series now has five songs of its own and filming starting next month. Parodies from the Peak District also has some recording going on for the Morecambe Comedy Festival (online). I may as well paint one of our walls green at this rate.

Monday, 11 May 2020

What's in the Box?

As social shutdown continues and it looks like the chances of any kind of live entertainment is kicked squarely into Autumn at best, more and more comedians have been looking to flex their virtual arms and initiate the kind of online content projects originally sat halfway down the third page of their global domination to-do list.

One that is now plenty of episodes in is Friz Frizzle's, "What's in the Box", an improv-based gameshow featuring three comedians and the man himself in the driving seat. Last Friday, in the space of thirty minutes my fellow contestants and I had sold items from each other's boxes QVC-style, made dashes around our houses to find items that rhymed with other items in our boxes, played a list game and predicted which bands from 2007 are still releasing records. Despite some technical issues early on it went well and was thoroughly enjoyable - though if the same can be said as a viewer rather than a guest is of course up to you.

Another covid-prompted opportunity that came up last week was from West Didsbury Comedy Festival. Originally booked to perform at their new act competition, the lockdown threw the whole festival into doubt but since then some shows have taken place on the web and now the competition is back on next Monday evening at 9pm. If you fancy watching me ride my parody pony into battle the event can be found on Facebook.

Given that I've now finished watching the incredibly violent but utterly brilliant Gangs of London and the latest episode of Drag Race the rest of this week will mainly be spent writing songs, working out how to crowbar two tracks into five minutes for the comedy competition and collecting in more videos for the next Anything Goes Online Open Mic for May 21st. The current one is well worth a watch if you haven't already.

That's probably enough for now. I've just remembered there's the current episode of Killing Eve to watch.