Tag Archives: Abigoliah Schamaun

Edinburgh Fringe: The trauma of a 5-star review & why I don’t like fauning

Extreme absurdism reaches The Times

Extreme 4-star absurdism has now reached even The Times

Maybe absurdism and ‘outa left field’ comedians are starting to make inroads into mainstream media consciousness. Even if I have no idea what ‘outa left field’ actually specifically means.

This week, definitively absurd Mr Twonkey got a 4-star review and near double-page spread in The Times, which (like Martha McBrier’s 5-star review in The Scotsman) had an immediate effect on audience numbers.

Then, yesterday, Lewis Schaffer got a 5-star review in The Scotsman. This too had an immediate effect. He sent me a text saying: “Feeling bad about it.”

Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award judge Claire Smith, who wrote the review, told me: “Lewis is upset. He told me not to review him. I did it without telling him. So I said: Lewis, you’d better buy the paper. Now he’s in bits.”

Lewis Schaffer’s 5-star anguish

5-star anguish for coffee-stealing Lewis Schaffer

I told her: “He is bound to be upset. Five stars! His reputation is in shreds!”

Critic Kate Copstick told me: “Lewis Schaffer stole my coffee today. I was sitting at the Community Centre. He came out of his show with an entourage and I told him: I’m terrible sorry. I’ve heard all about it. I don’t know what Claire Smith was thinking of. If it had been me, I would have been kinder and not have given you more than 3 stars.

“Although he was obviously emotionally devastated by the review, he managed to quickly get it up… on his mobile phone, I mean… and let everyone around him read the review. It’s a lovely review, but he was so upset he started sipping my coffee – Oh! This is delicious! Just like American coffee! – and, because he was so distraught, I let him drink it all. He was chuntering on about the star-chasers who just go and see anything that has 5-stars.”

The star system for reviews also came up as a subject at yesterday’s Grouchy Club. Co-host Kate Copstick was scathingly against it. Two members of the audience staunchly defend it, on the basis that it was just quicker than reading the reviews.

Peter Michael Marino - six stars

Not a compilation show – a compilation review

Abigoliah Schamaun (as mentioned in a blog last week) has taken to putting stars on her posters from fictional publications. And Peter Michael Marino, whose show precedes The Grouchy Club, yesterday started putting ‘compilation’ stars on his flyers. He proclaims a 6-star review from Fringe Guru/Broadway Baby – on the basis that Fringe Guru gave him 3 stars and Broadway Baby gave him 3 stars. The combined quote of the 6-star review is Outrageous! Hitler!

He told me Fringe Guru had used the word Outrageous! in its review. So presumably Broadway Baby reviewed him as Hitler! I thought it better not to ask for details of the full quote.

After The Grouchy Club, I bumped into my comedy chum Janey Godley on the pavement outside The Counting House. She started raving to me about the joys of Comics and Graphic Novels: the shop next to the venue.

“In the very first week of the Fringe,” she told me, “I got really sick. I went in there, didn’t know them, but they let me lie on their couch and they had a random dog called Bonnie who jumped on the couch with me – Why wouldn’t he? – Then they all went away to get drunk – they’re a wee bit hippie – and forgot I was there and locked me in.

Janey points out her favourite shop

Where do you find a comedian in Edinburgh? In a comic shop

“So I was locked in the comic shop with ten minutes to go before my show – at the window screaming – with a dog barking and folk passing by who thought it was a show – Why would it not be? It’s the Fringe. Eventually, I got out in time and did my show with Bonnie the Dog at my heels. So now I can go in to the shop whenever I want and have a nap and I have coffee and tea in the back, sandwiches in the fridge and I have a dog to stroke. Now piss off. I have people to see.”

And with that, as Kevin Spacey said in The Usual Suspects, she was gone.

So I went to see Pat Cahill’s show Panjandrum, a bizarrely endearing mix of something, something and something. Not quite sure what. I think it was probably echoes of English Music Hall, a bit of absurdism and something indefinably original. There was a metal hat and a large bomb involved along the way. He had built the bomb himself.

Then came my worst nightmare.

I had been invited to see the well-reviewed and much-touted Follow The Faun but I think, somewhere along the way, I had failed to read the small print.

Faun and games for everyone except me

Faun & games for everyone except maybe me

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I hate being part of anything where people do things in unison. I abhor community singing. I would have hated the Second World War. All that bleeding singing jaunty songs together. Anything where ‘bonding’ en masse is involved I loathe.

I hate dancing.

I am a fat slaphead of an unspeakable age. I am well past my prancing prime. But, even when I was in my teens and twenties, I hated dancing. I am not and never have been filled with any hint of an inkling of any desire to be joyful through moving in unison with other people and waving my arms and legs about. I would rather kneel in an orange jumpsuit for ISIS.

What I am saying is that, for me, Follow The Faun was an hour of torture. It involves going into a darkened basement room and following the dance moves of a satyr with large horns. It is a combination of 1960s/1970s hippie, trippy Glastonbury-type Acid-fuelled love-in, 1980s/1990s Ecstasy-fuelled Rave dancing and The Wicker Man with a lot of sexual miming and a bit of wannabe human sacrifice. You may think I am joking about that last bit. I am not.

I hated it. Though I am not averse to a bit of human sacrifice.

But…

I am not the target audience.

Everyone else – young, lively, outgoing people (mostly girls) in their twenties – LOVED it… They L-O-V-E-D it. Beaming faces, pogo-ing bodies, sweat pouring, occasional screams of joy.

London’s theatrical mask falls

This is not the figure of a graceful satyr used to joyful prancing

If you are an optimistic, outgoing, life-loving, youngish, Rave culture dance-loving lively person, go and take part in it.

If you are a grouchy fat male slaphead well over 35 who likes cynical endings to films and looks a bit like a bald, lightly-bearded Hattie Jacques… avoid.

More to my taste was the show I saw after that – the ever-dependable Frank Sanazi with his Iraq Pack – Saddami Davis Junior, Osama Bing Crosby and Dean Stalin. The full house at the Voodoo Rooms was packed tighter than a cattle truck and the audience was well-up for an hour of bad taste songs about mass murder and dictators in hiding – so much so that, when the subject of people on the run and in hiding came up, an audience member threw Madeleine McCann’s name into the mix.

You can’t beat a bit of continually-updated bad taste for a good Saturday night out in Edinburgh. And it is good to see ISIS and Tony Blair added in there among the Biggies of Badassness.

There is a Follow The Faun video on YouTube

… and one of Frank Sanazi, solo, singing his signature tune.

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Filed under Bad taste, Comedy, Dance

Comic going to hell at Edinburgh Fringe offers hug for £5, tongue kiss for £20

Craig Shaynak. He’s amiable and now he’s Google

I woke up this morning to an e-mail from amiable American actor, comic, raconteur and fat, bald, loud American guy Craig Shaynak. (Look, gimme a break – it’s the name of his website – fatbaldloud … )

I can vouch for the fact that he is amiable because, several years ago I wrote a review of one of his Edinburgh Fringe shows which I thought was constructive. But, of course, being a sensitive performer on the receiving end, he took it as being critically critical…. Nonetheless, he is still friendly when we bump into each other in the street in Edinburgh every August.

I highly recommend his show this year I Am Google, which has picked up 5-stars. Either I was wrong all those years ago or he has got much better. Almost certainly both.

His e-mail this morning, though, was a general e-mail to Free Festival performers. At the risk of him suing my ass off for breach of copyright and my past failings, this is what it said:

________

We’re past the halfway point now and things are crazy in Edinburgh as usual…

While the Festival has been fun, a few of our own have had some setbacks. There have been some missing props and performers left without a place to stay. (Someone get in touch with Lewis Schaffer if you know of a place to stay!!!!) 

________

At this point, I can reveal exclusively that Lewis Schaffer has a couple of days respite from homelessness on the streets of Edinburgh.

Because comedian Janey Godley rushed back to Glasgow when her daughter collapsed in the street, my spare room became suddenly empty and Lewis is now staying there until Sunday, when Janey returns for her Monday night, one-performance-only play #timandfreya at the Pleasance.

But enough of this blatant though worthy plug.

Craig Shaynack’s e-mail continues…

________

Recently, one of my personal favorite acts, Abigoliah Schamaun has endured a burglary. I thought it would be nice of us to pitch in and try to help her recuperate some of what she lost… Please read the message from Abigoliah below and see if you can’t pitch in and help. We’re all in this together!

********

The burgled performer Abigoliah Schamaun

Hello all,

So after having one of those great nights at the Fringe where my show sold out and meeting my favorite comedian ever, I got home to my flat to find it was broken into. Someone had crawled through my window (which LOOKED locked but apparently DIDN’T lock) and stole £300, my MacBook Pro, my digital camera and my camcorder battery, but not my camcorder (weird right?)

The police were called, the room was dusted for finger prints and it was concluded that someone did come through the window. However, he or she was wearing gloves so we can’t identify them based on finger prints. The Fringe community and others have been really helpful, finding me new accommodation, offering couches for me to crash on and what not. The only people who were not helpful were the landlord and the letting agency. They are taking no responsibility for the un-lockable window and refuse to give me back part of my money.  But, like I said, the Fringe community has been really sweet. So thank you for that! On the upside, I have new jokes for my hour long show!!

Craig suggested we do a fundraiser online so I might be able to recuperate my losses.  I know we all have spent a lot of money to be here so if it’s out of your budget, I understand. Unfortunately, I did not have insurance and any amount you can give will go a long way. If you do donate to my cause, I’ve arranged prizes:

£2 a big bear hug

£5 a big bear hug and a kiss on the cheek

£10 a big bear hug and a kiss on the lips

£20 I will give tongue

£100 prize will be privately negotiated (I have no shame as well as no laptop)

Thanks, guys, for taking the time to read this and if you can help at all you can make a donation to my PayPal account.

See you around the Fringe!

Abigoliah Schamaun

________

I have removed Abigoliah’s contact address in case she gets the wrong type of response, but will happily pass on the details of anyone who wants to genuinely get in touch.

Fringe Abigoliah: Going To Hell

I think her £20 and £100 prizes represent the true Spirit of the Fringe and almost count as a Cunning Stunt in Malcolm Hardee Award terms – a Cunning Stunt does not always have to be a conscious publicity stunt, as Stewart Lee proved in 2010.

But Abigoliah did, perhaps foolishly, fall at the first hurdle of publicity: she forget to plug her show in the e-mail.

Her show, perhaps appropriately enough, is titled Girl Going to Hell.

Now, £100? That’s almost the price of two cappuccinos in Edinburgh in August.

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Filed under Comedy, Crime, Sex