Tag Archives: Andrew Watts

Edinburgh Fringe: a cute dog, a dead pig and three women I don’t talk to…

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Some people just don’t know when to stop…

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned an unwise act who sent me the same introductory e-mail three times then, the next day, phoned my mobile four times in an hour while I was driving up the M6 motorway. Yesterday morning, within half an hour, I received another three copies of the same e-mail from him within half an hour.

When I say “the same e-mail” I mean the same introductory one he had sent two days ago. Not a new one. It is like repeatedly getting a Nigerian scam e-mail without the misprints.

The exquisitely funny Andrew Watts and his new co-star son

The exquisitely funny Andrew Watts with his new co-star son

After aiming Google’s spam filter at the comedian’s address, I went to the Counting House to see if the posters/flyers for today’s Grouchy Club show had arrived. (They had.)

I bumped into the exquisite Andrew Watts who was looking for his own Feminism For Chaps posters.

I have made it my mission to relentlessly call him “exquisite” (Time Out reviewed him as “exquisitely funny”) until he breaks and runs naked down the Royal Mile attacking passers-by with a gherkin. I give him two weeks maximum.

Andrew told me he has decided to include his small son in his show after he heard comic Karen Bayley was including her dog in hers.

Karen Bayley’s dog Bertie - the photograph accompanying the talented canine's brand new Twitter account @Boatmanbertie

Karen Bayley’s dog Bertie – the photograph accompanying the talented canine’s brand new Twitter account @Boatmanbertie

Karen had been handing out flyers for her Geezer Bird show in Edinburgh’s streets with the cute mutt. People then went to see Geezer Bird and were initially disappointed not to see the dog in the show. So the canine has now been added and Karen has clothes on order for it.

Then, after seeing Juliette Burton’s flawless funny show Look At Me at the Gilded Balloon, I bumped into sound girl (in all senses of the word) Misha Anker, who is doing the technical stuff for my increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Counting House on 22nd August. She was on two crutches. This is not normal for her. She told me she had fallen in the street and doctors had told her not to walk up hills. This is Edinburgh. It is all hills.

Grouchy Club + Malcolm Hardee Awards 2014

1st Rule of Edinburgh. If you got it, flaunt it

Since arriving in Edinburgh, I have been meaning to arrange a meeting with Misha to talk about the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show. We had no time to talk yesterday.

I have also been trying to meet Kate Copstick since last Friday in London about our daily Grouchy Club show in Edinburgh (which starts today) but we failed utterly. So we will do that today, during the show. It is, after all, a chat show.

The third person I have failed to talk to – over several weeks – is Miss Behave, co-presenter on 22nd August of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

Tim Fitzhigham (left) and Bob Slayer host the Fool Members Club

Tim FitzHigham (left) and Bob Slayer yesterday…

After midnight last night/this morning, I went to Bob Slayer and Tim FitzHigham’s IndieRound (Fool Members Club) at Bob & Miss Behave’s Bookshop and, of course, she was there. It is her venue. But, again, we failed to talk because she made an early exit.

I am beginning to think the problem is either me or my shirt.

After the Fool Members Club meandered to its finish, around 3.00am, I went back to my flat and read an e-mail from Free Festival supremo Alex Petty telling me about journalist Nadia Brooks and the pig.

I found out more from Nadia this morning.

Nadia Brooks is a puny Lexicon Lady

Nadia Brooks is the punny Lexicon Lady

She is performing a show called Lexicon Lady which, she says, is filled with “pithy poems, poignant prose and perky puns as well as a litter of alliteration”.

Two days ago, about halfway through her show, a man in a high-visibility jacket walked in with a dead pig over his shoulder and took it into the bar at the back. He then came back out but returned a couple of times with another man who was wearing a high visibility jacket and carrying boxes.

This morning, Nadia told me: “The pig man was grinning broadly as he wandered through my show. The dead pig slung over his shoulder was not smiling.

“I think the audience thought it was part of my show because I’m a northerner and we often have bizarre deliveries to working men’s clubs. Usually it’s a cockles man.

“Yesterday, the show was bac-on again. This time three fire safety chiefs popped in about halfway through, carrying clipboards, seemingly unaware a show was going on.

“The pig man came in again – at the end this time – sans piggie. I asked him if he would be delivering a pig again and he said: Maybe in a couple of days.”

I should perhaps not mention that Nadia rounded-off by saying:

“I am hoping it is all a big stunt to secretly audition me for a part in a new series of Phoenix Nights. Still, hopefully it means my show will be the pork of the town.”

As I mentioned, Nadia describes her show as “pithy poems, poignant prose and perky puns”.

She also said:

“I look forward to coming along to see you at The Grouchy Club!”

So that is one person in the audience then. The upside is that, if no-one turns up, Kate Copstick and I will actually have time to talk. I may get Miss Behave and Misha Anker to come along on subsequent days.

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Pagliacci at the Edinburgh Fringe – but will laughter get women into bed?

Giacinto Palmieri in Pagliacci costume

As mentioned in my blog yesterday, I had a drink with Italian-born British-based comedian Giacinto Palmieri – after seeing the first try-out of his show Pagliaccio which he will be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

Giacinto is one of life’s natural quotables:

“It’s a love story,” he says, “but it’s a double love story because it’s also a love story for the Edinburgh Fringe itself.

“The Fringe is an intense experience. It is like those war veterans who spend the rest of their life talking about what they did in the War. People think Why? The War is a horrible thing – but it’s the intensity they are missing. Once you have done the Edinburgh Fringe, the rest of your life just looks bland.”

This will be Giacinto’s fourth year at the Fringe.

“This is my first attempt to do a thematic narrative show,” he told me in a Soho pub. “I was doing joke-joke-joke comedy but, as a member of the audience, I started to discover and love thematic shows. There was a mis-match between what I was doing and what I really like. So I set myself the goal of writing a thematic show.

“Edinburgh is such a strong experience, it really stimulates your writing. I started to write this year’s Edinburgh show the day after the Fringe finished last year; some material I even wrote during Edinburgh itself. I wanted to start writing fresh from the Edinburgh experience without waiting for January or February like most comedians.”

“Most comedians seem to start writing around 25th July!” I said.

“Yes,” he laughed. “Or on the train up to Edinburgh! It’s true.”

“But I really wanted to express the intensity of being there and the fact that people are up in Edinburgh to express their emotions, so anything can happen there. Once you open the bottle, you don’t know what comes out. Once you go there to express yourself every day for three-and-a-half weeks, you don’t know what you will discover about yourself.

“My show is about comedians living together and sharing a show and working together and it is a true story of unrequited love and jealousy between the comedians and I play with the similarity between that situation and the plot of the opera Pagliacci which is about a travelling group of clowns.

“So it is a love story about another performer I became romantically interested in at last year’s Fringe, but also about the craziness and intensity of the Fringe itself.”

“The Pagliacci cliché,” I said to Giacinto, “is that all clowns are sad.”

“There is clearly some truth in that cliché,” he replied. “One of the best responses I have ever seen on the comedy circuit was when a comedian asked a member of the audience What do you do for a living? and the reply was I’m a therapist and the comedian simply asked So why am I doing this?

“You do need to wonder why we are all doing this.”

Giacinto has been in the UK for eleven years (and is now a British citizen) but he has only been performing comedy for the last four years. Before that, he was a full-time I.T. consultant. That seems a bit weird to me – coming to a foreign country, pursuing your career for seven years, then becoming a stand-up comic.

“It is even weirder than that,” he tells me. “The first time I went to Edinburgh was as a member of the audience. I absolutely loved it and saw 30 or 40 theatre shows but only one comedy show which I did not even like. So I did not know comedy at all. I discovered it later. I was in a pub in London and saw there was a comedy show upstairs and I went and I was mesmerised because I discovered how much creativity and energy there was in it. It looked very fresh. I was fascinated by that level of comedy, not by the professional level on TV.

“When I started, my models were the comedians who were one or two levels above me on the London circuit, not the Big Names.. I discovered the Big Names quite late.

“I had always liked writing. I started writing a fake, mock anthropological study of the British tradition of the corporate Christmas party and – completely by mistake – I emailed it to the MD of my company and he liked it so much he read it in front of everybody during the Christmas party. And it worked very well. People liked it. People laughed. But he did not mention my name. He thought he was protecting me. But I would have liked the recognition.

“So, at the same time, I discovered the comedy club scene on the one hand and my comedy writing instinct on the other hand. I put the two things together. I thought why not take my material and convert it into a stand-up comedy form and perform it myself?”

“But,” I asked Giacinto, “people from I.T. have a different mindset to comedians, don’t they?”

“Well,” he explained, “people in I.T. are interested in recursion and self-referential paradoxes like Bertrand Russell’s – the paradox of the infinite sets.”

“Ah, of course,” I said, nodding sagely and hoping Wikipedia had an entry I could look up later.

“Philosophy,”  Giacinto continued, “is what I studied at University, so there is a connection between my interest in logic and philosophy which can be brought into the I.T. arena because computer programming is applied logic and many jokes are based on paradoxes and self-reference. So, if you like logic, you will probably like word gaming, paradoxes and so on.

“That is why, until now, as a comedian I have always been very academic, very much inside my head, very much philosophical – it has been about language and so on. Which, of course, is very much part of my personality and my way of looking at things.

“The fact that English is not my native language is a difficulty – an obstacle of sorts – but it is also a great opportunity, because you can play with it. I can see in the English language things which a native speaker cannot see. Every foreigner is able to see cultural things which a native cannot see.

“Most foreign comedians in Britain are foreigners but still native English-speakers. They are Australians, Americans, New Zealanders and so on. I have the advantage, as a non-native English speaker, of being not only able to see British culture but the English language itself from a fresh point of view.

“I played with that as part of my act for a long time. This new show Pagliaccio does not play with language so much. It is a love story, so is more universal.

“My comedy was very abstract, so I decided to try to be more personal, to go more into the emotional side of things. And people told me one of the reasons I always had problems with women was because I am too much inside my own head.

“It is true comedy is a journey of self-discovery, in a sense. I am trying to discover the emotional side of me. It is frightening. Once you open the bottle, you don’t know what kind of genie will come out. It might be a good genie or a bad one.”

“One great cliché,” I suggested, “is that the way to get a woman into bed is to make her laugh.”

“Well, it hasn’t worked for me!” laughed Giacinto.

“The comedian Andrew Watts – a very very clever guy – wrote an article. His theory is that women use laughter as a way to communicate a sexual interest in somebody. In a comedy club situation, maybe onstage I can get a bigger laugh than a very good-looking comedian but, if you go for drinks with the girls afterwards, I am pretty sure the good-looking comedian will get bigger laughs in the bar. Pretty sure. Because women are sending signals.

“Getting a woman into bed by making her laugh… That was my hope, but I lost that hope: I don’t think it’s going to work for me.”

“The press will love your show in Edinburgh,” I told Giacinto: “A love story with laughs actually set during last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.”

“Perhaps,” he mused.

“Maybe you should call it Pagliacci – An Edinburgh Fringe Love Story,” I suggested.

“Perhaps,” he mused. “Perhaps. Perhaps women will like it.”

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