Comedians and critics tend to have a love-hate relationship. Critics tend to love comedy and comics tend to hate critics.
Yesterday morning, I bumped into comic Charmian Hughes. She told me she gets nervous when critic Steve Bennett of the influential Chortle comedy website comes to see her shows, but not for the reason you might think.
“My show (When Comedy Was Alternative) has been going well and getting huge laughs,” she told me, but I’ve always had a phobia about Chortle, because Steve Bennett reminds me of my dead mother. She used to wear a big hat and gatecrash my gigs when I was seven.”
“But Steve,” I pointed out, “does not wear a big hat – or any hat.”
“He wears a metaphorical hat,” said Charmian. “It’s a spirituality thing. I would see my mother in the school concert, making her notes. She was a very difficult woman. Steve reminds me of my first boyfriend too – He wore glasses.”
“Wasn’t your first boyfriend disgraced politician Chris Huhne?” I asked.
“You’re going to ruin my life with this blog,” said Charmian. “And everything’s been going so well so far. It’s a new show, but it’s getting better and better… except when I see my dead mother in the audience.”
According to Alexander Bennett’s highly inventive late-night gameshow Hell To Play, all comedians end up in hell. Alexander – all hail to him – could be a wonderfully effortless, reassuring and self-assured mainstream TV gameshow host, but I suspect might not want to be.
Last night, Joz Norris and Archie Maddocks were competing, with Michael Brunström in a black, backless dress as Countess Elizabeth Báthory aka Countess Dracula. It was a role to rival Mary Quant on a whaling ship.
Inexplicably, when I arrived at the building early (it is the Cowgatehead, so you have to allow extra time to actually find any venue within it) Joz Norris was in what looked like a glass-and-metal coffin. In fact, it turned out to be a freezer. This had nothing whatever to do with the show. And it was not an attempt to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. I have no explanation that seems at all likely.
I had seen Joz earlier when he sat behind me at Michael Brunström’s unique and wonderfully absurdist The Golden Age of Steam. Later, we bumped into each other at the late-night ScotMid grocery store. It seems possible Joz Norris may be stalking me.
Last night, I also saw the Papa CJ: Naked show in which Papa CJ almost stripped physically and did strip psychologically. Voted Asia’s Best Stand-up Comedian last year, he is off back to India tomorrow with no immediate plans to return. Our loss. VERY smoothly professional, great audience control and, with stories of his marriage, divorce and child, very touching.
You may have noticed I have not mentioned yesterday’s Grouchy Club, the daily chat show I am co-hosting with comedy critic Kate Copstick.
Yesterday, I was not co-hosting it, because Michael Brunström’s Golden Age of Steam, here for a limited run, overlapped. But I turned up to see the show which precedes us – Peter Michael Marino’s Late With Lance, a staggeringly energetic showbizzy romp starring his OTT alter ego Lance. I saw it with my comedy chum Janey Godley.
Janey is not a woman to mess with. She was once arrested when the police found a whole cache of firearms hidden in her family home.
After Peter Michael Marino’s show, she and I went into the lounge bar of the Counting House where Kate Copstick was waiting to go in for The Grouchy Club. The two of them got into conversation and pretty soon a fist fight erupted. I took photographs. It seemed the right thing to do.
There are two things to be learned from this, both relating to my blog a couple of days ago when I discussed the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.
One is that, of course, you should never believe the announced context of the pictures you see.
The other is that, as I have said before, during the Edinburgh Fringe, self-publicity is everything.
The Grouchy Club is at The Counting House, 3.45pm daily until next Saturday.
Janey’s show Honest To Godley! is at The Counting House, 7.45pm daily until next Sunday 30th August.
The increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show is in the Counting House on Friday 28th, 11.00pm-01.00am.