As it’s the end of December I’m going to review the year in which me and my comedy chum Andy Wilson attempted to do some comedy together and that.
Before I start, I’d like to plug the Dab and Tench Christmas special. Thank you.
January was a wobbly month. I’d only been out of hospital for a couple of weeks when it started and I spent a lot of time using a golfing umbrella to keep me upright and taking vast amounts of medication. In many ways I was like an old man bimbling around. One day in W.H Smith’s I was asked to leave because I was being a ‘drunken nuisance’. Lovely people, I will never shop there again.
Feeling better and having discarded my brolly, I decided it was time to get back on the horse of, er, life and, er, do something.
Me and Andy had planned to do a Christmas Dab and Tench podcast to finish off the first series. However Christmas had long buggered off, so instead we decided to record an episode based around an ad casting. I quickly realised that having feeling in only half my mouth was going to be troublesome and I spent most of the podcast redirecting my spittle away from the microphone. Happily though, it seemed that the bit of my brain which made shit up was still working.
As spring sprung around us, we decided that this was the year we’d do an Edinburgh, which was rather an ambitious idea for a man with half a brain (me, not Andy). After a bit of thinking, we settled on a Dab and Tench show which would purport to teach people how to act. Then we did the sums and scrapped the whole idea. Edinburgh was just too damned expensive, we’d left it too late to get the really cheap accommodation and none of our chums were going. I egotistically wrote a blog about how we were pulling out of Edinburgh. Five minutes later I found out that all our chums were going and we decided to go after all.
We began our show preparations in earnest (poor Earnest). We set aside one evening a week until July to work on the show. However we mostly spent those evening watching Star Trek TOS and devoted only about 45 minutes to the show. We thought this would be plenty of time to create a brilliant award winning show. I attempted to book us in for some Edinburgh previews, I failed, so we pushed on regardless.
We managed to get a couple of Thursday Star Trek nights in before I began a month of celebrating my 40th birthday. However we were suddenly thrown into panic whenwe actually got a preview gig. The lovely Michael Legge was previewing his stuff in London and kindly invited us to try some of our stuff out. This was very exciting as we would be on the same bill as Michael, Richard Herring, Catie Wilkins and Tony Law. This was also terrifying because we were on the same bill as Michael, Richard Herring, Catie Wilkins and Tony Law.
An emergency Star Trek night was called and we worked for nearly 90 minutes on the bits of the show we’d already managed to write in between our adventures with a youthful William Shatner.
I cancelled the London leg of my birthday pub-crawl (as this was going to fall on the same weekend as the gig) and attempt to book a hotel for that weekend. We were dumfounded to discover that our regular hotels were three times the price. Turned out that some old lady was celebrating 50 years on the lavatory and they were cashing in on the increase in tourism. However the lovely Lizzie Roper rode to our rescue with the offer of a bed for the night.
I receive a text message from Michael, he’d double booked himself and won’t be able to make the London gig. He asks if we want host it for him. I squeal like a kid and say “yes”, completely failing to consult with Andy. However he’s alright with it.
We set off to London a 5am on the day before the gig. We arrived at Lizzie’s like two sweaty zombies, why do they have to make London so warm? We say hello then decide to pop out for something to eat with our chum Liz. I get confused between the names Lizzie and Liz for a while and then we head off into the metropolis before quickly realising that we’d forgotten to take a key with us. So we wouldn’t be able to get back in until 11pm.
We had lunch with Liz but were both exhausted so were less than sparking company, I grunted a few times and then we got confused about the bill which seems to be £20 more than the food we’d eaten. Liz paid the difference and we both walk away feeling we’d diddled her in some way.
It became clear that we now needed to get some sleep but not being regular homeless, we had no idea where to do it. Andy then had the splendid idea that we could go and see the new film Prometheus at the Empire and have a snooze. However I’d not heard anything about it, so became quite irritated that the film I was trying to sleep through was blatantly ripping off Alien. However I eventually managed to dose off and only woke up near the end to discover that the film was in fact an Alien prequel. I laugh at my stupidity and tried to get out of my seat, it took three attempts because my legs had seized.
The day of the gig arrived and we lumbered towards The Phoenix, still exhausted from the day before. We were surprised that the audience were quite a bit smaller than these gigs usually get but we put that down to Michael not being there to draw them in. We discovered later that some idiots had decided to float a load of boats down the Thames to show off to that old lady. However the gig was fun and as usual the audience were lovely. There’s something about The Phoenix that makes everything lovely.
With the fringe looming we get to work. More Star Trek nights are arranged and we plough through the first season like men possessed. By now we have nearly half a show and we congratulate ourselves by having a Thursday off. As the month progresses the show grows to about forty minutes long, which is just about right because we’re planning on doing a lot of ad-libbing with the audience which will make it up to the full hour. We pat ourselves on the back and watch Star Trek 2.
The Fringe is upon us and we board our train to Edinburgh confident that we have a good long show. A good long show that we know really well. A good long show that will definitely get laughs.
On arriving in Edinburgh we decide to drag our cases two miles to our digs before running across town to have a drink with Michael near The Stand. My dreams of being soave and sophisticated fade as I burst through the door and Michael tells me to remove my jacket before I dissolve. In August I was four stone overweight so even the Edinburgh sun was able to change me into a pile of sweaty clothes.
It’s the evening of our first show, the really good long show. We’re relaxed, after all we know that the show is good and long so what else do we need to worry about?
Our exclusive first night audience the shape of The Trap, Michael Legge and Andrew J Lederer seated themselves and we awkwardly went into character.
Twenty five minutes later the show was over. The guys laughed and we were relieved but shocked. How had our evenings of watching Star Trek not yielded a longer show?
No, we’d not forgotten any of the material, we’d just forgotten the whole ‘improvise around the audience’ thing. I suppose it would have been tricky, we had a room full of comedy talent so it would have just turned into one large show without an audience. Later in the run of six shows Tara Flynn brought along the cast of the musical she was appearing in which helped no end with our dwindling audiences.
In short we got a boot up the arse by Edinburgh and we vowed that we’d be more prepared next time. Though I don’t want you to think that we hated it, we had loads of fun. Yes, audiences were small but we are a new act and the Olympics were on for the whole of our run. If bigger acts were struggling for audiences, we didn’t stand a chance. However we went to Edinburgh to learn a few lessons and we learned them, we spent time with people we adore and I spent most of the time laughing like a twat.
Soon though it was all over and we were heading back on the train home. If you’re in Edinburgh for the whole of the Fringe, you ride an emotional rollercoaster for a month. If you’re only there for a week you get a short and very intense ride which makes you incredibly emotional. I was no exception so when I left Andy Leeds station, I sobbed. I dragged my case towards the escalator with eyes full of tears. I instantly missed Edinburgh, my fringe chums and even though I’d only seen him a few minute before, I missed Andy.
I was in a terrible mood for a large amount of September. I had nothing to do and I was facing a mountain of debt from Edinburgh. Most people who go to Edinburgh earn a reasonable amount of money to pay for their accommodation. I however work in the public sector, at a very low administrative level. This means that my wage hasn’t risen in three years, so a week in Edinburgh’s student accommodation equates to a person on a middling salary staying in a five star hotel for the same duration. To do this I had to borrow from people who charge a vast amount of interest, never do that it is silly.
However it wasn’t all horrible, the first week of September saw the annual Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing festival. This is a very silly two day pub-crawl hiding behind a mask of tradition. I was joined by Andrew J Lederer for a day of it and I had a lovely time chatting about U.S comedy and old Hollywood films with him and pretty much ignored the big cart thatched with rushes trundling around the streets.
Later in the month I spent a lovely afternoon in Sheffield with another friend which cheered me up so much that I spent the entire next week in a horribly good mood.
In October Andy and me got some lovely news! Michael was going to do an All Day Edinburgh charity gig in London. He was going to gather loads of Fringe performers together and he invited us to come down and be silly. Yet again I said “YES!” Without consulting Andy.
We decided that if we were going to do six minutes minute slot, we would have to make an impact. So we reworked a sketch that we’d done in our Edinburgh show and made it considerably ruder.
On the day of the gig, we got to The Phoenix just after it began and positioned ourselves at the bar next and Paul and Jeremy from The Trap. In life it is very important to position yourself near very funny people. Michael was on the stage, so it would have been awkward if I stood next to him while he was doing funny talking. Dan soon turned up and The Trap were complete.
After a few hours of watching ever more funny people come and go, it was our turn.
Now, I’d had a couple of drinks, so thought it might be funny to push the barriers of taste a little. My experiment didn’t go down too badly but I think a joke about Jimmy Savile shagging Anne Frank and Maddy in heaven may have alienated the audience a little, however we kept on shouting and the laughs came back. All in all it was my favourite gig ever. Yet again The Phoenix had been lovely and we didn’t run short. We did exactly six minutes.
Near the end of the month submitted our application in for the 2013 PBH Free Fringe and began to gather some ideas for a new show.
With the shows over for the year, we settled down to work on a radio comedy we’ve been writing. It is more of an exercise in improving our writing, than a serious attempt to get commisioned but it never hurts to submit stuff.
After a few weeks we got it finished and I attempted to submit it to the BBC Writers’ Room. However they now only take submissions three times a year so we’ll have to sit on it until the spring.
In mid December we recorded Christmas specials for The Gentleman’s Review and Dab and Tench.
Near the end of December I looked at my finances and realised with a horrible sinking feeling that taking a show to Edinburgh in 2013 will be impossible. Yesterday we withdraw our application to the free fringe. We’ll be able to pop up for a couple of days to visit and will be back properly in 2014. Of course we won’t be idle in that time and we’ll be working on next years show and some other projects we’ve got planned. You haven’t seen the back of us yet. No! Stop booing!
Happy new year.