Tag Archives: Adrienne Truscott

Edinburgh Fringe Day 7: Three naked bottoms, tears and a cunning stunt

Today, I watched three performers talking out of their arses. Hardly a new thing at the Edinburgh Fringe, you might think.

I couldn’t possibly be cheap enough to use a pun

Except this was the much-touted Wild Bore comic theatrical piece at The Traverse in which Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott perform with their naked bottoms (and occasionally with the rest of their bodies).

It is a knowingly self-referential post-modernist labyrinth of analysing and criticising critics and the performance itself with some wonderful surreal images – the sight of them running around naked and erect with their heads inside their own bottoms made me glad I never remember my own dreams and nightmares.

The self-referencing reminded me inevitably of that 1969 movie I am always banging on about in this blog – Anthony Newley’s Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? – You sit there thinking the movie is a self-indulgent mess and then, at one point, three ‘movie critics’ walk on the screen and start criticising it in detail for all the many faults you have just been thinking about. I sat through it twice when I first saw it, because I had no idea whether I liked it or not. I was still not sure after seeing it twice, but it was and is certainly addictive.

Nathan Willcock’s State of The Nathan at Moriarty’s also kept referring to itself and had a strangely straight, middle-of-the-road, middle-aged, non-Fringe audience happily sitting through and enjoying an hour of his (as he admitted to them) liberal Londoner comedy.

Daddy Kamali – indefatigably charismatic

The indefatigably charismatic Jody Kamali was pretending to run a hotel – Hotel Yes Please – in a room in the actual Apex Hotel/Sweet venue in Grassmarket where he played multiple characters, integrated the audience into the show and unusually-for-him added some genuine personal stuff into a character playing another character. Apparently last year’s Fringe show was such a happy experience that, on the final night, he celebrated with his wife and the result is that he now has a daughter.

I think he will make a good dad.

Which was something Lewis Schaffer’s dead mother told him (Lewis) in one of the 23 letters he is opening nightly in Unopened Letters From My Mother at the Counting House. As he said in this blog two days ago: “To me, the letters are full-on scary and sad. But funny for the audience.”

Lewis Schaffer reads his mother’s letter for the first time

He says he does not know why he did not open the 23 letters she sent him between 2000 and her death in 2011, some from a mental hospital.

But I do remember the late Malcolm Hardee, going through a bout of depression the like of which people would not imagine Malcolm Hardee had, telling me that he was only opening one in three of the letters he received through the post. The other two he threw away without even checking who they were from.

After tonight’s performance – well, performance is the wrong word – experience – someone said to me: “I have never seen Lewis show that sort of real emotion on stage before”.

Lewis’ shows are always one-offs. These ones almost go beyond unique, if such a thing were possible.

Which could also be said of Becky Fury’s show tonight at the Black Market. Well, she did not actually perform her prepared show but improvised 55 minutes around the audience which included a Polish social worker who came to Edinburgh for the Fringe last year and just stayed. He said he was attracted to her show title Molotov Cocktail Party because of what happened at Polish football matches.

Becky Fury – not hosting a Christian show at all

Then there was the young Spanish couple who were there despite, it seemed, not actually being able to understand any English. Becky at first persuaded them it was a Christian show in which everyone had to bare themselves and managed to get the male half of the couple to strip off.

And then there was the American girl who arrived late. She said she played the violin and sewed.

“Simultaneously?” asked Becky.

Alas no, but she then took out her sewing and continued throughout the rest of the show while listening and participating. She said she was not a performer but did busk naked in Seattle, playing the violin.

I do believe this was and is true. But who knows?

In this blog four days ago, Martha McBrier mentioned that she had received a complaint about the fact that she plays a didgeridoo during her Balamory Doubtfire show – something that women are not allowed to do in Aboriginal culture. A white sociology professor in New York had accused her of racism, sexism and subjugating an entire culture.

The story was followed up, with more details, in Bruce Dessau’s Beyond The Joke site, on the Chortle comedy site and  in The Scotsman.

Chortle carried quotes from Janet McLeod, producer of the Melbourne Comedy Festival show Aborigi-LOL, and Dane Simpson, a comedian from the Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay culture.

Martha McBrier – cunning player of religious instruments

Tonight, I got a message from Martin Walker, who told me that, during the recording of his On The Mic podcast, Martha had admitted that the whole thing was a cunning stunt.

The didgeridoo appears on her flyer/poster and makes an admittedly brief appearance in her show so I do wonder if this is a stunt planned so far in advance that it is almost a work of art in its own right.

On the other hand, allegedly offending Aboriginal didgeridoo players might not have been a stunt at all but, on seeing the reaction, Martha decided to say it was a stunt to fan the flames of publicity and edge ever closer to a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt nomination.

Only time will tell.

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Edinburgh Fringe: 5-stars, fake breasts, deaf squirrels, iScream and Hokum

BethVyseA lot of Edinburgh Fringe acts do not need publicity in this blog any more. They are doing too well.

This morning, on my way back from the laundrette – oh, the glamour of the Fringe – I bumped into comedian Beth Vyse who, two days ago, had a full half-page article about her in the Guardian.

As a result, she told me, the audiences for her show As Funny As Cancer have changed for the better. Instead of (my phrase) drunken passing Scots, she is now getting more women interested in the actual subject of her show. The Guardian piece was headlined: Fake breasts, ping-pong balls and tears in a comic exploration of cancer. 

We will return to this morning at the end of this blog.

Tom Binns’ characters

Tom Binns’ characters need no help from me after that review

Yesterday, I went to see Tom Binns. He had just got a 5-star review from Kate Copstick in The Scotsman for his Club Sets show – hardly surprising as it showcases his three characters and himself and he does a genuine psychic trick, a card trick, ventriloquism and a plethora of sharp verbal and musical jokes.

Then I went to the Italian Cultural Institute where they were showcasing Italian-related acts and shows linked by comic Luca Cupani who surprised me – I have no idea why – by being a very very good MC.

Amy Howerska - allegedly

Amy Howerska – the word of mouth will deafen squirrels

Then Amy Howerska Sasspot – she really DID grow up in a family of trained killers – had her room so packed to the rafters with appreciative punters (on a day when, traditionally, audiences drop off) that she needs no publicity from me and the word-of-mouth on her energetic show will be so loud it will deafen squirrels at 200 yards.

Coming down the Gilded Balloon’s spiral stairs after seeing Amy’s show, I bumped into Charmian Hughes whose daily show When Comedy Was Alternative (The Laughs and Loves of a She-Comic) actually names names, including ex-boyfriend Dave Thompson (Tinky Winky in TV’s Teletubbies).

Charmian Hughes When Comedy Was Alternative

Charmian Hughes knew how to get booked

“I’m doing two of Dave’s jokes,” she told me, “to portray his part in my life. He said I could do it only if I told his jokes right, but I can get very muddled up. So he’s coming up from Brighton next week and he will have a walk-on part in my show next Tuesday or Wednesday, when he will do his own two jokes.”

“When did you two meet?” I asked.

“When he ran a show which included an open spot. My open spot went really badly and I thought: How can I get another booking? I know! I’ll get off with him, become his girlfriend and then emotionally blackmail him throughout the relationship so he has to give me gigs… And it worked!

I then went to see Adrienne Truscott’s a One-Trick Pony!

Yesterday morning, Adrienne had posted on her Facebook page:


Adrienne Truscott

Adrienne Truscott is not a one-trick pony

In the States they say that, if a pigeon shits on you, it’s good luck. 

I went out for coffee at the corner and came upon a 2-star review of my not-yet-ready-for-prime-time second show by a very thoughtful and fair writer.

I agreed with his observations heartily and went directly home to continue working on it and, in my lounge room, came upon 2 trapped pigeons! One for each star?!! They were flying everywhere and nowhere, mayhem back and forth, all around me, smashing into the windows, smashing into the walls, swooping past my head, feathers and wings everywhere.

They shat everywhere!!

Neither shat on me. Not one ounce. 2 terrified trapped pigeons and one shit-free me!

I am not yet an experienced stand-up comedian but I have a hearty sense of humor. I’ve cleaned up the shit. I’ve made my show better. I love it now and can’t wait for tonight.


She was still shit-free last night and the show was as she hoped.

PhilJarvis

Phil Jarvis’ Hokum. Don’t ask… Just don’t ask

The last show I saw yesterday was Malcolm Julian Swan Presents Hokum at the Freestival’s new venue in the New Waverley Arches. The repeated cry was: This is not a show. It’s an album!” And, indeed, it was not really a show, more a time trip to some deranged 1967 Happening which involved kazoos, pipes, much banging and chanting of random phrases like Human Detritus! plus a bit of nudity, projected computer screens, bits of cardboard and the repetition of phrases through a loud-hailer. Oh – and Phil Jarvis, whose admirably shambolic show it really was.

Hokum (if it really was called that) is highly recommended as a one-off which was really a two-off (it was only on for two days) but you can’t see it – last night was the final show.

So back – or maybe forward – to this morning.

This morning, comic actress Jo Burke was flying up to Edinburgh for her show iScream, which starts on Sunday.

Texts and e-mails flew, because she has also written a book iScream – now available – to go with the show.

Jo Burke with her physical book

Jo Burke with one of her physical books

“The show is new,” she told me, “but I wrote the book about ten years ago – It was a book about internet dating and a year in my life with a brief history of me to set it up. At that time, it was called From Strangers with Love – like in the subject heading of an e-mail.

“This year’s Fringe stage show was called iScream and I did a preview in London and someone – well, you, John – told me it should be more about me. So I took some stuff out that was not about me and thought: What shall I put in to fill the gaps that’s about me? And then I realised: Y’know what? I already have a whole book of stuff that is ‘me’ and, when I looked at it again, I found two little things from the book which I added to the stage show and I then thought: This is a perfect opportunity to release the book as well. So the book is now called iScream too.”

“Did you re-write bits?”

“No. It was written ten years ago and now I am a completely different person to the one who wrote the book.”

“So are the book and the stage show about the same thing?”

“No,” replied Jo. “The book is maybe only under ten minutes of the hour-long show, which is the abridged version of me. The stage show is very personal to me and it does end on what could be considered a downbeat note, but it’s actually not; it’s a very positive note. Like everyone else, you trolley through the shit and come out the best you can.”

Jo Burke iScream designed by Steve Ullathorne

Jo Burke’s show poster, by Steve Ullathorne

“You must be happy the book is out,” I said.

“It is doing extremely well and has been as high Number 17 on Amazon in Comedian Biographies. But I’m actually terrified people will read it and never speak to me again – I have been ridiculously honest. Friends read early drafts of it and told me to take things out and I refused. I’m already writing the second book.”

“The story continues?”

“No. I’m easily bored. I like to try my hand at different things.”

“With luck, money might roll in,” I said.

Jo Burke with butterflies and Prosecco a London City Airport

Jo – butterflies and Prosecco at City Airport

“If money was the prime motivator,” said Jo. “I wouldn’t have done all the things I’ve done in the last ten years. Unfortunately, money doesn’t motivate me; but doing stuff I can feel proud of or which makes other people happy or think… I enjoy that. Just a living. I’d just like to make a living out of it.

“If you’re money-motivated, you gravitate towards the City and almost no-one I know is a City suit person. I don’t want to meet City suit people. I don’t like them. They lost everyone’s money and are still rich and it makes me sad.”

“Where are you now?”

“Currently at London City Airport awaiting lift off. I have butterflies and Prosecco…”

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Just some of the many oddities I tripped over at the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday

Joz Norris doing a passable impression of Hunter S Thompson

Joz N doing a passable impression of Hunter S Thompson

Publicity is difficult at the Edinburgh Fringe. Acts hand out flyers to people in the street. And try to get articles and photos in the press.

Two days ago, I went to a photoshoot for clowns performing at the Fringe. Apart from the clowns, I was the only person there.

Yesterday, on my way to the Grouchy Club, I had a chat with ever jolly japester Joz Norris who told me about a photoshoot held two days ago for clowns performing at the Fringe.

These were two separate photoshoots. Clowns should talk to each other more.

The one I went to involved clowns sitting on a taxi and running through it as if they were all coming of it.

“What was the one you went to like?” I asked Joz.

“The idea,” he told me, “was to see how many clowns we could fit in a car. There was supposed to be loads of press interest with loads of photographers but, when we turned up, there was nobody. Only about four of us bothered to turn up, so the answer to the question How many clowns can you fit into a car? was The normal number – four. We grabbed some random flyerers in beekeepers’ outfits and got a man in dressed as a tent and pressed our faces against the glass.”

“I went to the other one,” I said, “and I think I was the only non-clown there. People just looked at me as being a bit under-dressed.”

“Did you wear one of your bright shirts?” asked Joz.

“I was still out-coloured,” I admitted.

There is a video on YouTube of Joz’s clown video shoot

At the Grouchy Club yesterday, extraordinarily OTT New Zealand Maori cabaret act Mika was reunited with Scotsman critic Kate Copstick, who saw and raved about his show around a decade ago and has emotionally never been the same since.

Kate Copstick and Mika at The Grouchy Club

Copstick & Mika at Edinburgh’s Grouchy Club show yesterday (Photograph by Garry Platt)

Mika told her: “I’ve brought a show here this year – Salon Mika – because I’m going to make it into a feature film.”

Bizarrely, the New Zealand Arts Council did not fund his trip to Edinburgh. All the acts they funded were white non-Maoris. But Mika’s show has already got a 5-star review and – surely only by coincidence – Mika told us: “The entire Arts Council of New Zealand and the Minister are meeting me a 5 o’clock tonight, here in Edinburgh.”

Mika was strangely not really complaining; he was more bemused.

Bemusement is not something common in Scotland. But protesting is. Though badly.

Copstick pointed out: “Scotland doesn’t do protesting very well. We have all-purpose Scottish Labour Party moaners. You get the feeling they’re just professionally disgruntled moany Scottish people waiting for the next protest to come along.

At The Grouchy Club yesterday: a bad selfie of Coptick and me

Looking on with interest from Grouchy Club Towers yesterday

“On one of the first days of the Fringe, there was a big group of them outside the Gilded Balloon protesting about an Israeli play that wasn’t even on there. It was on at the Underbelly.

“I went and said to them: Do you know you’re outside the wrong venue? Plus, if you’re really smart, you would stop with the moaning and the shouting that nobody can make out because you’re all broad Glaswegians and most of the people walking past have no idea what you’re saying. Play nice, get near the upside-down inflatable cow, get somebody with a knife and puncture it. I did not think that would escalate anything.”

At this point, Miss Behave walked in and took her shirt off.

You had to be there to understand.

She is co-running nearby venue Bob and Miss Behave’s Bookshop as well as putting on her own show.

Miss Behave and Mika compare tongues (Photograph by Garry Platt)

Miss Behave and Mika compare tongues at the Grouchy Club (Photograph by Garry Platt)

“I have,” she told us, “been Mrs Cabaret for a really long time, wandering round being very slick, so this year I’m doing a very silly game show – Miss Behave Gameshow – involving mobile phones.

“I have a wonderful assistant – Harriet – and he is becoming the star of the show. He is wonderful. It’s very silly and fun. I’m starting with an idea, it’s evolving and, by the end of this month, it will be absolutely amazing. At the moment, it is an exciting, fun work in progress, very entertaining.”

At this point, multi-award-winning Adrienne Truscott arrived. As well as winning the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award for her solo show last year (and some lesser Edinburgh prizes), she is half of the Wau Wau Sisters.

Adrienne Truscott not standing on her head (Photo by Garry Platt)

Adrienne Truscott not standing on head (Photograph by Garry Platt)

“Stand on your head!” I said.

“No,” said Miss Behave. “You have to leave her alone. She’s got a bad back.”

“I,” said Copstick, “have been dangled upside-down on a trapeze by the Wau Wau Sisters.”

“What are you doing this year?” I asked.

The Wau Wau Sisters’ Death Threats (and Other Forms of Flattery),” said Adrienne, “about doing a show that got death threats from religious fundamentalists. They sent us three letters and we had to do our whole show with armed guards in the house.”

“Moslems?” someone asked.

“No,” said Adrienne, “We had done a show which was a very cheap re-interpretation of the Last Supper.”

The Grouchy Club did not live up to its name yesterday. Everyone seemed to be laughing rather than being grouchy.

Blanche Cameron, Lewis Schaffer, Heather Stevens

Blanche Cameron, Lewis Schaffer and Heather

But then I went over to Niddry Street, home of what seems like a hundred free venues, and I bumped into Lewis Schaffer and two of his entourage. I occasionally get text messages from Lewis Schaffer saying simply: Mood black.

I tried sending him a text message once saying: Mood black – to see what his reaction was. He never replied.

His main entourage – Heather Stevens – continues to spend most of her time with her face in her hands. This is understandable.

Lewis Schaffer has branded Blanche’s bosoms

Lewis Schaffer has branded Blanche’s bosoms

But he seems to have rebranded another of his entourage – Blanche Cameron – as his personal stalker with a naked picture of himself across her bosoms.

To cheer myself up, I chatted to Chris Dangerfield, who was out on the cobbles promoting his show Sex With Children to innocent passers-by.

“I got here yesterday,” he told me. “My posters had gone missing. No posters, no flyers. Ten minutes before my first show, I was about to cancel it. Suddenly, sixty people turned up. I took £120.”

At this point a happy-looking couple approached.

Chris Dangerfield demonstrates with finger

Chris Dangerfield demonstrates with finger

“When you’ve finished with the show you wanna see,” Chris told them, “come and see Sex With Children.”

They looked slightly startled.

“Look!” he told them. “You can put a little penis on the flyer!”

He has flyers with a full-length photo of a man. They have a hole at groin level just big enough to put through and wiggle your little finger.

“There you are,” he told the couple. “Nine o’clock – in there – Sex With Children. You’ll love it.”

At this point – and this is true – I noticed the anonymous flyerer about whom I blogged two days ago.

At that point, he was handing out strips of blank paper to publicise Ben Target’s show.

The Anonymous Flyerer yesterday @markdeanquinn

The Anonymous Flyerer for ACMS yesterday

Yesterday, he told me: “I’m flyering for ACMS (the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society). It involves me standing with a cardboard box over my head and holding up a sign that says FLYER so people can take their own flyers. I do it for two hours every day and can’t see anyone who takes the flyers because I have my head in a box. But I am sure they’re the right people for the show.

“With ACMS, we also exit flyer them. As they leave, we give them flyers for the show they’re just.seen.”

“I admire originality,” I said.

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Rape performer Adrienne Truscott on a gimmick & the tawdry Wau Wau Sisters

Adrienne Truscott and her Soho poster

Adrienne Truscott kisses her Soho Theatre poster yesterday

New York-based Adrienne Truscott is performing her show at London’s Soho Theatre until the end of the month. She performs naked from the waist down. The title is:

ADRIENNE TRUSCOTT’S ASKING FOR IT – A ONE-LADY RAPE ABOUT COMEDY STARRING HER PUSSY AND LITTLE ELSE!

“I understand,” she told me at Soho Theatre yesterday, “some people could see the title and think Who is this gimmicky, cheeky woman trying to make light of rape?

“Is it a gimmick?” I asked.

“It’s a gimmick,” said Adrienne, “but one which has some weight to it because, in theory, if I’m on stage with my pants off and my make-up on and I’m two or three gin & tonics in in a roomful of people then – on a certain level by the logic that it’s discussed in our culture – I am ‘asking for it’… And it HAS happened that someone’s got raped in a room full of people and no-one did anything to stop it.

The Wau Wau Sisters’ image for their new show

Wau Wau Sisters’ image for their new show Death Threats

I saw the show’s first night at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

This year, Adrienne is taking it back to Edinburgh for a limited 8-day run at Bob & Miss Behave’s Bookshop as well as performing as half of the Wau Wau Sisters in a 17-day run of their new show Death Threats (and Other Forms of Flattery).

“Your mother came to see your opening night at the Soho Theatre last week,” I said. “Had she seen Asking For It in New York?”

“I’ve barely done it in the States.”

“How did she react last week?”

“The best part was I could hear her laughing during the show. Afterwards, she said: I thought it was brilliant, love.

“She’s American?”

“She’s from Exeter.”

“So you’re half English?”

More than half English

More than half English, part wild West Country girl Adrienne

“I’m more than half English. My father’s American, but his father is from Cornwall. My mother moved to the States when she was 20.

“I lived over here for a little bit when I was seven, after my parents got divorced – St Austell in Cornwall, but I spent most of my time around Exeter and Devon.

“My grandfather is from Fowey and his father was a ship’s captain. My sister is a writer. She’s currently working on a historical novel. She’s written a lot of poetry in her time.”

Adrienne’s father is an academic specialist on the writings of the Italian poet Dante.

“My family,” Adrienne said, “are not showbiz. They’re not chomping at the bit to get on the stage.”

“Your mother has seen the Wau Wau Sisters presumably?” I asked.

“Yes.”

There is a video on YouTube of the Wau Wau Sisters performing their show The Last Supper in Australia.

“So your mother is used to nudity and dodginess and sexuality?” I said.

“I wouldn’t say she’s used to any of that. She’s seen the shows and she sort of gets I’m doing it from a different place than that other tawdry version.”

“The Wau Wau Sisters are tawdry?” I asked.

“I feel that we’re insistently tawdry. It’s not that we’re called tawdry. We announce that we’re tawdry, though we have a lot of slyly political fun with being tawdry and being naked. My mother sort-of gets that this Asking For It show is smart-tawdry but that doesn’t mean it makes her any more comfortable. My mum is not entirely comfortable with me running around taking my clothes off, but she sort of understands the reasons.”

“Had you decided you’d had enough of the Wau Waus?” I asked.

“Not at all. We’re still Wau Wauing.”

The Wau Wau Sisters - a bit of Vow; a lot of Wow

The Wau Wau Sisters – both Vow & Wow

“You pronounced that with a V,” I said. Vau Vau not Wau Wau.”

“Yes,” said Adrienne, “Vow-Vow Sisters.”

“It’s German?” I asked.

“It comes from a Brecht character named Mr Wau. We were given the name because someone watching us found us to be somewhat Brechtian and because this character Mr Wau is a strongman in a circus and is followed around by a band of freaks. So we, with the help of this friend, sort-of imagined us like the bastard daughters of Mr Wau.”

“So what’s the point of writing a one-woman show on rape?” I asked. Because it’s going to have an effect?”

“First and foremost,” said Adrienne, “I thought it was interesting material. I’m not saying, Right! That’s my show! We can put rape to bed. That won’t be happening any more. I just wanted to contribute to a conversation that I felt was lacking.

Adrienne in the Soho Theatre bar yesterday

Adrienne Truscott in Soho Theatre bar in London yesterday

“It started writing itself in my head and then I realised it was quite topical. I was writing it before all the rape show shenanigans started last year. I had been thinking about How can you use comedy to talk about rape in a smart way? and then, as I was working on it, it became as much about What are the rules and pitfalls and structures of comedy? and then, while I was working on it, all this Rape Joke controversy blew up last year.

“In the States, it turned into an election year, so there was a lot of crazy politics going on. It was getting kinda zeitgeisty and that’s when I thought Fuck! I’m going to take it to Edinburgh NOW – Now is the time to comment on this!

“Because?” I asked.

“I’ve never been satisfied with the way rape is discussed. Even organisations and ad campaigns I still felt took the wrong approach and still talked about it in an annoying way.”

“Annoying in what way?” I asked.

“Talking about victims. One origin of the show – but not the only one – was I was in a very small class at university: it was sort of a race gender class.”

“How very American,” I said.

“My professor was a man and he was trying to get us a bit riled-up by shocking us with statistics. Amongst many statistics about race and pain inequity, he said 2 in 5 women are sexually assaulted or raped. There were about 13 or 14 people in the class – about 10 women. He said: Doesn’t that get you riled-up? It means in this class at least 4 women have been raped? How does that make you feel? and he asked why we weren’t responding. I told him: Partly, we’re not responding because we’re shellshocked and feel weird and uncomfortable. I would like to know – because there are two male students and you in this class – which one of you is a rapist? Let’s talk about you guys. Literally if, statistically speaking, you’re talking about a closed group and you’ve announced some of us got raped, then one of you three had to partake in it. So you’re fucking guilty. Let’s talk about that instead of the ‘victims’… And I think that’s a really potent conversation to have.”

“How did he react?”

“He found himself at a loss for words, just like we had been.”

Adrienne Truscott's one-woman bottomless show

Adrienne Truscott’s one-woman bottomless show

“The interesting thing in Edinburgh last year,” I said, “was that the word got round very, very quickly that it was a serious piece of work.”

“I had never done solo stuff before,” said Adrienne, “and had never had an interest in it. I found it really challenging and thrilling – doing solo work as well as stand-up. Both were new to me.”

“It was a big leap,” I said. “First solo show. Small room. Nudity.”

“Yeah,” said Adrienne. “And make it about rape. What could go wrong? I knew I’d made a show that basically had a shape and an arc and was basically what I wanted to say. But I had only done that exact version of the show in front of an audience once – about four days before I left for Edinburgh.

“I was hoping to make a little bit of a splash with Hey, maybe you can talk about rape this way, I also just wanted to perform 30 nights in a row because I knew, by the end of it, I would have something better than what I arrived with. I would get all that feedback from an audience and sort it out.”

Adrienne Truscott at the Malcolm Hardee Awards

Adrienne, winner of Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award 2013 (Photograph by Keir O’Donnell)

As it turned out, Adrienne won the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality and the Panel Prize for whatever the Perrier Awards were called last year.

“I have,” Adrienne told me, “never yet got a review saying: This is an outrage! Why did she do it?

“Would you say you were a feminist?”

“I’m absolutely feminist. But I want this show to be understood as a comedy show. It’s really fun for me to watch the audiences’ eyes when I do my show. “

“So, are you going to do a Rape 2 show next year?”

“No. But I was talking to (promoter) Bob Slayer over one too many bourbons last night about doing maybe a one-off in Edinburgh this year about some material that’s come up from doing the show.”

“A show about the show?”

“A night about the show.”

“I’ll be there,” I said.

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Filed under Comedy, Rape, Sex, Theatre

Adam Taffler on mute speed dating, feeling goats & a nomadic naked sauna

Adam juggling spaghetti  in Edinburgh in 2011

Adam juggling spaghetti in Edinburgh, 2011

I first met Adam Taffler aka Adam Oliver at the Edinburgh Fringe two years ago when I was organising – if that’s the word – spaghetti-juggling in the Grassmarket.

He was promoting his own show, but joined in. This impressed me.

The next time I encountered him was at the Fringe this year, when I saw him as half of Almond Roca: The Lost Cabaret with Nelly Scott aka Zuma Puma.

But he is not only a performer. He is also a promoter. This weekend, he is staging a show and workshops by American act Red Bastard, who got a lot of attention and an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award nomination at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Then, on 20th October, Adam’s Adamotions company – slogan: Cultivating Hilarity & Humanity – gets together with comedian Bob Slayer’s Heroes company – slogan: Let’s have another drink! – to stage a performance of Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award winner Adrienne Truscott’s Fringe show Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else!

Last night, though, Adam enticed me along to see one of his Shhh Dating events – which are basically speed dating but you are not allowed to talk. Last night it was for 35-45 year olds. I was way out of my age range.

“You’re putting on Red Bastard this Friday,” I said to Adam afterwards. “So you’re not just a performer. You’re an entrepreneur.”

“Well, if I really like an act,” he said, “then I want other people to see it. Originally, we were going to do one workshop and one show with Red Bastard, but the bookings went so well we’re doing two shows and three workshops now.

“It’s happened on the back of what I do with Phil Burgers – Dr Brown – I run these retreats with Phil – Clowning In Nature – one-week immersive events. The idea is it’s beyond a workshop. Instead of just going for one day and going home, you’re all there together, living in the same place for a week and Phil takes people out into the nature. It’s not all just in the classroom. It’s blindfolded running down the hill and feeling goats and…”

“Hold on,” I said. “Feeling goats?”

“Yeah,” said Adam. “At the last one, we did this blindfolded walk and I took the lovely Leanne Davis into this pen of goats and she was touching them but was so scared. Afterwards, she told me she’d had a phobia about goats since she was a kid (his words) but she got over it through doing that.

“After I’d done that with Phil, I wanted to do some work with Eric (Red Bastard) because I loved his act in Edinburgh.”

“He and Adrienne Truscott were the most talked-about people this year,” I said.

“And now I’m working with both of them!” said Adam.

“Do you come from a showbiz background?” I asked.

“My maternal grandfather Leo Indra was a lady lifter.”

“A lady lifter?” I asked.

Adam, last night, lifting two ladies

Adam in London, last night, picking up ladies

“He travelled round Europe in the 1950s with water revues, painted in gold, lifting up women with gold loin cloths. This was quite risqué at the time.”

“Sounds fairly risqué any time,” I said. “And on your father’s side?”

“My father’s father was a real businessman. He was the 12th of 12 children and came from a family which was so poor that, if you looked away at dinner, someone would steal your food… My mum is the matriarch of a community called Spirit Horse, which she set up.”

“A hippie thing?” I asked.

“I wouldn’t say ‘hippie’ – I’d say they were really intelligent people who are trying to re-invent culture. And my dad is a hardcore academic: he doesn’t get me at all.”

“An academic of what?” I asked.

“Financial accounting. He’s a socialist academic who travels round the world giving papers about stuff. A lovely guy.”

“You started performing at hippie festivals,” I said.

“Well, I studied Media Studies and French at the University of East Anglia,” said Adam, “but, mostly, I was promoting events and did the radio station. Before I left UEA, I asked people what they were doing – Oh, I’m applying to be a manager at Boots The Chemist – Oh, I’m joining the Civil Service – and it made me cry and shrivel up.

“When I left university, with three of my best friends, I set up a nomadic naked sauna at festivals and we toured that for five years and it was one of the best times of my life. We had these beautiful hippie audiences who would do whatever we said and every single show I did at a festival ended at about one in the morning with everyone stripping naked and painting their nipples gold and running through the fields.”

“You can’t get a better job than that,” I said.

“It really turned me on,” said Adam. “That level of permission and permissiveness and freedom. But how do you give that level of permission to a mainstream audience? I think you have to re-train the audience. That’s why I’m experimenting with all these different formats.”

“Including this dating thing?” I asked. “How did it start?”

“I had a job looking after ‘blank canvas’ spaces in central London,” explained Adam. “We had things like Gucci comedy fashion shows and…”

“What are blank canvas spaces?” I asked.

Adam (right) with Zuma Puma at Edinburgh this year

Adam (right) and Zuma Puma at Edinburgh Fringe

“You hire a space,” explained Adam, “but all you have is electricity and maybe some house lights, so you have to bring everything in for yourself. You have to decorate it and… it was mostly for fashion events and a bit of film, which was more interesting for me. So I would sell Sony a £50,000 space for a month to have an electronics trade show and… Well, it wasn’t that exciting… The stuff I loved doing was… I was looking after The Sorting Office in Holborn and we had You Me Bum Bum Train and I managed to get them an extra month of shows because I was so into them. I loved that bit. But I left my job. I thought I can’t pretend any more. I can’t pretend to be a normal fucking person. I’ve got to be myself.”

“Which is?”

“I like people coming together and experiencing each other. I like people being ‘real’ together.”

“That sounds a bit Californian,” I suggested.

“Well,” replied Adam, “this dating thing is my first attempt at doing it in a way that mainstream people can understand. When you take away words, you get to see people as they really are. That’s interesting. We’re all so protective. Which is OK. It’s OK. But I think, in these hippie festivals where I started painting everyone’s nipples gold and naked crowdsurfing and…”

I interrupted: “There seems to be a motif running through all this of nakedness.”

“It’s a metaphor,” said Adam.

“It’s a metaphor for psychological nakedness?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s the same thing; it’s like stripping away the stuff. If you can get an audience to act something out, then they become it. Audiences – at these hippie festivals especially – are all waiting to have permission to do the shit they want to do. In the festivals, I used to be able to give them that permission, to speak their exact language and it was incredible. Such fun.

“I’ve not yet found out how to do that with a really cynical, mainstream, alcoholic comedy audience, so I’ve decided to create my own audience now – and that’s what I’m doing with all these events.”

“How did you get the people who came to this silent speed dating thing tonight?”

“We’ve been in Time Out a couple of times, we’ve been in the Sun, we’ve been in the Daily Mail. Actually, the Daily Mail journalist really got this more than anyone else. We’ve been in the mainstream press and people from around the world have been contacting us wanting to set these things up.”

“So,” I asked, “the Shhh Dating is not just going to be in London? You’re going to expand into other places?”

“We’ve got people actively working on Brighton and Bristol. We’re going to do Cardiff; there’s someone in Berlin.”

Red Bastard is in London this week

Red Bastard on stage in London this week promoted by Adam

“And,” I prompted, “as well as Red Bastard this week, you’re co-promoting Adrienne Truscott’s show in a few weeks with Bob Slayer. Will you do other things with him?”

“We might do,” said Adam, “What I like about Bob is he’s creating this stage where any art can happen. He’s opening it up for true art and creativity to come true and that’s what really excites me. I love the renegade nature of it.”

“So what are you?” I asked. “A performer? A promoter? An entrepreneur?”

“I feel I’m a showman. I like performing shows, I like putting on shows. I was at my happiest travelling round from place to place with that nomadic naked sauna.”

“Other people you want to work with?” I asked.

“There’s a friend of mine – Joanne Tremarco – we trained together with Jonathan Kaye at the Nomadic Academy For Fools and she did a show called Women Who Wank. You might have heard about her, because she was dressed up as a vagina and there was a guy dressed up as a penis at Glastonbury and someone ripped his hat off and punched him. It went round the world – Man Dressed As Penis Gets Attacked.”

“The penis head had a hat?” I asked.

“Yes, he had a proper bell end bit,” said Adam.

“I think attention to detail is important,” I said.

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US comedian Lynn Ruth Miller replies to critics of that controversial ‘rape’ blog

Lynn Ruth Miller (left) and  Kate Copstick

Lynn Ruth Miller (left) & Kate Copstick at Fringe chat show

Two Mondays ago, I posted a blog which transcribed part of one of my chat shows at the recent Edinburgh Fringe.

It was a conversation between Scots comedy critic Kate Copstick and American comedians Lynn Ruth Miller & Laura Levites. The section quoted in my blog referred to specific situations in which rape might occur.

Laura and Lynn had been booked by me for the chat show because I thought it would be interesting to hear a conversation between two female Jewish American comedians of different generations.

Laura arrived late (as pre-arranged) because her own show overlapped the start of my chat show.

So, by the time she arrived, a more general conversation had started about feminism, prompted by the critical and box office success at the Fringe of American performer Adrienne Truscott’s show Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else!

My blog quoting an extract from the chat show was headlined Feminist female comedians agree there are different types of rape in Edinburgh – entirely my choice of headline and responsibility – and it caused a lot of comment online in the UK, including various blogs like this one headed Rape Is Rape, even in Edinburgh.

They attacked the perceived opinions expressed in my original blog – as did a piece written for The Skinny culture magazine by their comedy editor Vonny Moyes headlined It’s an Unfair Copstick, Guv.

I had followed up my original blog with one expressing the opinion of my eternally-un-named friend and one quoting three of the interesting online reactions including a Facebook comment from Adrienne Truscott who had, by this time, won the 2013 Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality and the 2013 Fosters Comedy Awards panel award  for her Asking for It show.

I also posted an open response to Kate Copstick’s quoted comments sent to me by comedy critic Corry Shaw.

Until now, the three people quoted in the original blog have not reacted.

But this is American performer Lynn Ruth Miller’s reaction today to what has been said about that original blog extracted from the hour long conversation at my Edinburgh Fringe chat show:

_______________________________________________________

Lynn Ruth Miller - Grade A show; dodgy C venue

Lynn Ruth Miller replies to critics of the discussion

I really cannot believe how these people misconstrued what Kate Copstick and I actually meant… but the real problem was THEY WERE NOT THERE AT THE PANEL DISCUSSION.  Not one of us demeaned or criticized the innocent victims of rape who were doing nothing but being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We were talking about women who deliberately set out to provoke men and, when it works, are surprised at the consequences… and I for one think rape is violence not sex and has nothing to do with how you dress or swivel your hips. We didn’t even get into that aspect.

I certainly stand by my comment that more and more women are using their bodies to ‘get the job’, to ‘get the promotion’ even to ‘get the attention’ and I personally think that is a shame…There are better, more effective ways. I find flaunting your sexuality both immature and not very intelligent. However, we all have our own means of making life work for us and I for one will not criticize anyone else’s methods or motives.

I do not want to go on and on about this but I do believe that had one of those people been at the discussion they would have gotten the spirit of what we were saying. Not one of us condoned rape or hinted that men are uncontrollable animals…

Ah well… the beauty of the world is that we all have different opinions… and I think that is a very good thing.

I also wish they would take what we actually SAID in context and not extrapolate from a word or a phrase an opinion or an implication that was in their minds, not ours.

However I think this is one of the interesting downsides of web blogging.

All these people vented their outrage at something that was neither meant nor implied by any of us and it was to no real purpose other than making themselves heard. The writing was not particularly studied; the prose was more stream of consciousness than an edited piece with proof to substantiate their accusations… and I find that very shallow and meaningless.

What did they accomplish?  What kind of consensus did they achieve?

Perhaps their universal conclusion was that the three of us are shallow shits… and I for one can live with that. That is, after all, their opinion; not a fact. Anyone’s opinion is a direct reflection of who THEY  are, not the person they are criticizing.  All of them were forming a judgement about what our core philosophies were from a single phrase that was objectionable to them. This is their problem and their lack of perception, not ours.

And one more point.

It is very easy to vilify someone when you are writing an impersonal blog. I would truly love any one of these angry people to come to me directly, look at me and  discuss the basis of their accusations and the logic of the hysteria they want to fuel over a very innocent, lighthearted, casual discussion about women, who we are and want to be.

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Filed under Blogs, Comedy, Rape, Sex

“Fourteen year old girls in these places are total sluts mate,” said the financier

The extract I posted a couple of days ago from my Edinburgh Fringe chat show – about attitudes to rape – provoked quite a few comments. Three in particular struck me as particularly illuminating, The first was a Facebook comment from Adrienne Truscott who won the 2013 Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality and the 2013 Fosters Comedy Awards panel award  for performing her show Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! She wrote:

Adrienne Truscott and her one-woman bottomless show

Adrienne Truscott’s show was Edinburgh sell-out

Even statistics about rape focus on women or the victims of the rape, when it would be much more productive to lessening rape by accruing statistics on rapists, and addressing that behavior, as that could actually be preventative.

There is rarely any other area of society, its ills or its triumphs, wherein men are not given full responsibility and credit for their behavior and its effects – the tradition of making women responsible for men’s sexuality is deeply historical.

I’m not saying only men rape. But, on the other hand, male victims are rarely accused of ‘asking for it’. The emphasis on this ‘asking for it’ discussion of how and why rape occurs belies a predisposition, as far as I can tell.

If women change their behavior accordingly – you know, started wearing ill-cut suits or figure-obscuring caftans, dowdy hairdos, no make up and tee-totalling – should we expect and rejoice in the sudden, brilliant absence of rape?

You know, like in India….

Another reaction to my blog, which had quoted three women taking part in my Edinburgh chat show, was this Facebook response:

Having had a daughter attacked by a moron when she was doing nothing more than walking home on a late December afternoon dressed appropriately (because apparently, according to my sisters above, a woman is responsible for being attacked if she wears anything less than full body armour) I am totally dismayed by both the garbage that has come out of their mouths and the fact that they are holding women accountable for the bad things that happen to them – I really hope that they never experience that stomach churning, leg collapsing, brain disintegrating moment when you are told your child has been seriously assaulted by some man!

I don’t think it is something that you ever ‘get over’ as it hits your inner core of belief in other human beings and in particular that we are innately good to each other. Worse things happen on a daily basis all over the world to women and children and of course men. But that doesn’t actually help, in the sense that this violence is an everyday occurrence everywhere.

The third response which interested me was this from comedian Leo Kearse:

Jimmy Savile - the truth revealed in the edit

Role model for financier

I used to be a criminal intelligence analyst and we generally approached crimes looking at the victim, offender and location to see what could be done to each to reduce crime. Fine for most crimes but rape doesn’t work like that; you can’t analogise it to a laptop being left next to an open window.

In my opinion, it’s mainly caused by men’s attitudes.

I shared a car with two ‘lads’ a fortnight ago.

One of them was a total fanny: a city financier who kept banging on about all the deals he’d done and who gave me all this unsolicited advice about ‘branding’ myself as a comedian.

He then bragged about his sexual exploits and told us that, up until his early 20s, he and his mates would go to care homes (kids who are taken off their parents by the state end up in these homes) because “14 year old girls in these places are total sluts mate”.

What shocked me wasn’t just that he did all this; it’s that he felt that this was ‘cheeky lad’ behaviour and he could brag about it to a stranger even though he was bragging about being a member of a predatory nomadic paedophile gang.

I’m pretty sure this used to be something men would not brag about.

I told him he was a predatory paedophile like Jimmy Savile and then we didn’t speak to each other much.

I think it does reflect a common attitude otherwise he wouldn’t have felt like he could brag about it in front of me.

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Filed under Rape, Sex