Tag Archives: Eric

Edinburgh Fringe, Day 19: How to perform comedy to a tough audience

Yesterday’s blog ended (because of the interruption of midnight) just before Arthur Smith’s annual alternative tour of the Royal Mile started (at 2.00am).

Telephone box claiming on the Royal Mile

This tour used to be a near Bacchanalian trip with occasional appearances by the boys in blue (usually the police; seldom the Smurfs).

Now it is a comparatively more civilised trip down the cobbles from the Castle to St Giles Cathedral – if you can call it ‘civilised’ with 60 people following Arthur down the street as he declaims poetry, misrepresents statues, accosts passers-by, encourages people to perform cartwheels, climb atop telephone kiosks and get into holes in the road, become living statues in the night-time street, and introduces a man loudly singing Frank Sinatra songs from a second-storey window at the top of his voice at around 02.30 in the morning.

Arthur approached one of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judges (not me) this afternoon to run naked down the Royal Mile but, alas, they felt the possibility of arrest and getting a criminal record was even riskier to their future reputation and job prospects than being an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judge.

By the time Arthur had finished his shenanigans and I got home to my flat and into bed, it was around 04.00am. Which is fairly average for Edinburgh during the Fringe.

Later in the day, I bumped into former sailor Eric, who tried to persuade me again that he should get a Malcolm Hardee Award For Comic Originality because he has now been performing the same show – Eric’s Tales of the Sea – A Submariner’s Yarn – at the Fringe for 10 years. He was eating a chip.

Could be good. Could be shit. Don’t matter.

The former squatters on the late Malcolm Hardee’s boat, the Wibbley Wobbley, are staging a one-off comedy play about him – Malcolm Hardee: Back From the Drink, on Wednesday at The Hive, not to be confused with my own Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards show on Friday at the Counting House.

Their comic play should be interesting, as they never met him. And though I say it is a one-off. In fact, they tested it out on Friday in London… They are performing it this Wednesday in Edinburgh… And are hoping more London performances may happen.

They – five of them – came to the Grouchy Club this afternoon to discuss the show but I am told I have to keep schtum about it to avoid plot spoilers.

Who knows if it will be an audience-pleaser? I have not yet seen it. “Could be good. Could be shit,” as Malcolm used to say when introducing as-yet unseen acts.

To be really honest, it is not the shows I enjoy most about the Edinburgh Fringe, it is the city and the people. The shows come third.

The aforementioned Grouchy Club is open daily, totally free to all at the Counting House 1415-1515. If you got it, flaunt it.

The manager of the Counting House and the adjoining Pear Tree is Brian.

During the Fringe, all day long, weather allowing, he sits at a barrel on the pavement outside the Counting House, helping and supervising and helping and advising.

Brian is a big man. I did not realise how big he actually until today. He is normally seated at his barrel.

One of his lovely Counting House assistants told me Brian was officially the tallest teenager in Scotland in 1985.

Big Brian by his barrel with one of his lovely assistants on a surprisingly sunny day outside the lovely Counting House

“I was 6 feet 5 inches tall as a teenager,” he confirmed to me outside, sitting by his barrel. “I’m 6 feet 11¾ now – a quarter of an inch shorter than a giant. Imagine that. If I had just spent a little bit more time growing, I could have made it to giant status. I could have had it on my passport and my CVs. Occupation: Giant. There is a Tall Person’s Club, but I’ve never joined. It’s supposed to get you good flights with extra legroom and stuff.”

“Do you,” I asked, “get charged extra for having a sideways…”

“For having long legs?” Brian asked. “Yes. That or the drinks trolley goes over your feet. You are crucified either way.”

People. The Edinburgh Fringe is all about people.

I got an inevitable text message and two pictures from Lewis Schaffer.

Lewis Schaffer (left) with what he calls ‘candies’ and Eric

“Eric the Submariner,” it said, “has been going around town today handing out candies to brighten performers’ moods on what he calls ‘Shit Sunday’ – the third Sunday of the festival. He has picked the right person. I’m a mess.”

Eric the submariner used to be a regular in the audience at Malcolm’s Up The Creek Club and it was Malcolm who encouraged Eric to perform. His Tales of The Sea is a real audience-pleaser of a show with Eric in total control of the audience. Well, he should be, after ten years!

President Obonjo harangues his full audience of 350

The same could be said of President Obonjo – Benjamin Bello – whose African dictator character dominates any room – which is more difficult than he makes it seem because it could be fraught with all sorts of racial stereotype problems. The fact it sails smoothly through and he had his audience of 350 (he insists all his audiences anywhere at any time are and forever will be 350 but, in fact, today he did have a full-to-the-brim audience) eating out of his comedic hand is a tribute to his skill.

Matt Price was in charge of the Royal Marines

A talent that Matt Price (partner of cunning stunt vixen Martha McBrier) had to have in spades tonight.

His show The Weed Fairy is about his father – so-called because of his dad’s predilection for growing marijuana plants at the family home in Cornwall and consequent visits from those boys in blue again.

But that was not why Matt needed all his audience-controlling cleverness and amiability tonight.

Matt and men from 42 Commando, K Company, including Corpsey in the striped shirt, second from the right

He had eight Royal Marine Commandos in the audience, one of whom – Corpsey – was almost paralytically drunk. Matt managed to be relentlessly insulting to Corpsey (which is what his Marine mates wanted) without in any way offending either Corpsey or his mates.

It was an extraordinary feat of professionalism intermingling the scripted show, drunk-wrangling, physical improvisation, ad-libbing and street psychology.

Matt played very literally passive aggressive. He would be insulting to Corpsey and the other Marines (which they loved), then back-off into amiable self-effacement and amiability, then swing back into put-downs, then be your-best-chum, then land a slight insult, all-the-while keeping the pace of the narrative of his story on-course and on-pace.

Brilliant.

Plus there was film of him, as a slim teenager, skateboarding… and an online instruction video about didgeridoo-playing from a man claiming to run ‘The Didge Project’.

It might have been a Cunning Stunt.

Anything could be.

Fantasy and reality are beginning to merge in my mind. That is not uncommon at the Fringe, which may be the best thing since slice bread.

Meanwhile, the world outside the Edinburgh bubble still turns.

In non-Fringe-related news, my eternally un-named friend points out to me that entertainers Bruce Forsyth, who died three days ago, and Jerry Lewis, who died today, were older than sliced bread.

Sliced bread was born on 7th July 1928.

Bruce Forsyth was born on 22nd February 1928.

Jerry Lewis was born on 16th March 1926.

There are sequences from Jerry Lewis’ unseen movie The Day The Clown Cried in a documentary extract on YouTube. It has a commentary in Flemish…

Welcome to my reality.

 

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Chinese cupping, some Australian wet comedy, a doctor and a baby on stage

Should I turn my back on Chinese medicine after this result?

I was hit by a truck in 1991. It pulverised two parts of my shoulder which still occasionally hurts; I also hit the back of my head on the edge of a brick wall and have not been able to read books since and the base of my spine is slightly damaged, causing me occasional pain.

The bottom of my spine is painful as I write this.

In my apparently never-ending quest to try and stop this occasional pain, a friend and I tried a cut-price offer from the Daily Telegraph this week – three Chinese techniques, one of which was cupping.

Certainly interesting. But, three days later, we still have giant red-and-brown blotches on our backs. My friend likes to swim but can’t go to the pool with these blotches – “I will look like a mobile art installation!” she says.

I tried to cheer her up by suggesting she could sell herself to Tate Modern, but this only made things worse. One problem, I think, is that she believes the blotches on her back look “very Sixties”. There is nothing worse than being scarred in an outdated style.

But our mild medical traumas are minor compared to British comedian Eric’s financial problems at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia, where he had his credit card stopped after a company tried to take over $4,000 from it for a hotel bill which should have been $640. Being on the other side of the world with his wife Helen and newish-born baby ‘Little E’  but without access to credit, he is struggling a bit.

And it never rains but it pours.

Eric, Helen and ‘Little E’ were eating a pizza under a tree when a leaf fell off the tree onto the pizza, signalling, Eric presumed, the arrival of autumn.

He tells me:

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It appears the change of seasons are very marked here. I wasn’t able to finish my pizza as I had to go see Gordon Southern’s show A History of History. As I walked away, the sky darkened quickly and I heard a clap of thunder, followed by the inevitable lightning. “Crikey,” I thought. “It was 31 degrees when we went to the restaurant!”

Then it started to rain. I was wearing only shorts and a shirt – I have not worn a coat or carried an umbrella since I got here in October. The trees on my side of the road provided some cover, but spotting an awning outside a pub over the road I made a dash for it. This was a big mistake. I got as far as the median strip and it absolutely fell down and, as the traffic slowed dramatically at the onset of the downpour, the gap I had anticipated in the cars closed up and I was stranded in the middle of the road with no cover whatsoever… And this was no light shower – it was bucketing it down! Within seconds, the rainwater overwhelmed the drainage system (which is probably only designed to cope with about four inches of rain a year) and great puddles formed by the kerb.

By the time I reached the awning, I was already soaked to the skin and the shelter it offered was of no use to me now. I continued in the pouring rain to see Gordon’s show. I arrived but had missed the start – he was already up to the Greeks (not the financial bail-out, but Aristotle). I sat on a stool at the back of the room and wrung my socks out into an empty glass on the windowsill.

When I had finished, I did not know whether my glass was half full or half empty (of sock juice).

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Eric started his comedy career when the late Malcolm Hardee dragged him out of the audience and up on stage at Up The Creek and, ever afterwards, encouraged him to become a performer. It seems Eric’s baby daughter ‘Little E’ may follow in his footsteps (when she learns to walk):

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Helen and I have been taking ‘Little E’ to shows at the Adelaide Fringe and she has seen quite a few now, though we suspect that some of the more subtle stuff has gone over her head and a lot of her dinner has certainly gone over Helen. Nevertheless she seems to be having fun.

We went to see the legendary (almost wordless) Dr Brown’s show. I first saw him at the Edinburgh Fringe and he ejected me from his audience, because my mate Charlie Saffrey clapped in the wrong place and Dr Brown thought it was me.

‘Little E’ was silent all the way through his show and, when it came to the part where Dr Brown was miming a baby onstage, I whispered to Helen that, for once, the little one’s cries might actually have fitted in with the proceedings, instead of proving a distraction.

No sooner had the words left my mouth, than Dr Brown left the stage as part of his continued mime and, when he got to the back of the room, he spotted our silent ‘Little E’ perched on Helen’s lap. So he whisked her onto the stage to the delight of the whole audience and ‘Little E’ made her stage debut at 11 weeks and 12 hours old.

Afterwards, Dr Brown said that “it was an honour to be working with such a professional.” Well, actually he said “playing with” but I felt I should change the wording.

My first stage performance was as a result of being dragged up onstage by one comedy legend. Now Erica has followed in her father’s footsteps, but at a much younger age.

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Life in Adelaide after comic Bob Slayer leaves: audiences collapse with laughter

Eric, ex-Navy, now comedy lifeguard (photo by Alex Brenner)

I saw Oscar-winning silent movie The Artist last night, where the dog has all the best lines. After getting home and taking my NightNurse cold remedy, as I drifted off to sleep, I thought today’s blog should be an update on what has been happening at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia.

Which might be why, when my coughing woke me during the night, I was in mid-dream about getting off a bus near Victoria station in Manchester. Packs of feral dogs roamed the near-empty streets, barking at and harassing anyone who got off a bus. And, in an empty street, idle dogs of various breeds watched two Alsatians sliding along the roadway on their stomachs and taking run-ups then bouncing in the air like kangaroos, rising maybe ten feet high with each bounce.

British comedian Bob Slayer – whose exploits in Australia were the subject of many a blog these last few weeks – has now returned to the UK with his explanations of what happened to him there mostly ending with the phrase “because I am an idiot”.

Meanwhile, Italian-born British comic Giacinto Palmieri arrived in Adelaide last week from Sydney and emailed me: “It is just like arriving in Southern Italy from Milan. Everybody is suddenly chatty and eager to tell you how much better the weather and the food are and how much friendlier the people. Although, just like with the Southern Italians, it is friendliness with a double edge: Ah! they say here, You are an Italian Pom! And you are going to the backpackers hostel? Aren’t you the wrong age for that?

German comic Paco Erhard’s computer has broken down which, in the 21st century, is almost a trigger for psychological counselling. He writes: “I’ve definitely been more boring than Bob Slayer. But hopeful I have proper stories to tell after/while travelling and doing the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Hope my computer gets fixed soon, then I can write down some stuff.”

The Nik Coppin “racist” row with radio host/journalist Peter Goers is still in the hands of lawyers.

And English comedian Eric tells me of his constant hassles with late-night Adelaide transport and his new(-ish) daughter ‘Little E’, whose milk seems to come in leaking bottles. He also tells me that history has, in a way, repeated itself.

He is currently performing his show Eric’s Tales of the Sea in Australia.

When he was performing the same show at London’s Soho Theatre last year, a woman got up halfway through, left the auditorium and collapsed outside. Eric rushed off stage and, remembering First Aid Training from his 17 years in the British Navy, put her into the recovery position.

At the time, he was quoted as saying:

“I was just getting to the part of my show which is particularly emotional and often has the audience shedding a tear, but the reaction has never been as extreme as this before.”

A couple of days ago in Adelaide, Eric says: “Nik Coppin sent me a text message asking me to be a guest on his show. Unfortunately, he sent it while I was doing my own show, so I didn’t see it until after I had finished. I then texted him back. But, by that time, Nik had already started his show. So I thought I would wander over to the Austral venue to tell him that I was available if he needed me.

“When I got there, Nik had sorted out a guest but he bought me a beer. Just then, Alan Anderson walked by and asked me if I would be a guest on his show. Just before Alan’s show started, Nik and I were stood in the corridor leading to the Red Room, which was filled with punters eagerly awaiting entry to Alan’s show, when there was a loud thud.

“A man was prostate on the floor.

“As this was Australia, after 10.00pm at night and it was a public holiday (Adelaide Cup Weekend), everyone assumed the man was drunk – and he was with a friend, who helped him up.

“A few seconds later, though, the man collapsed again and this time it was clear to me that he was unconscious.”

Eric’s British Navy training kicked in again. He put the guy in the recovery position and got a nearby woman to call an ambulance. Eric says he “instructed the man’s friend as to what position to put his friend’s legs in, as I could not reach them in the narrow corridor, while I attended to him at the head end.”

I remember in the very dim and distant past – 1975 – someone had a heart attack while laughing at The Goodies on British TV. Newspapers quoted his wife saying, “He died happy.”

In comedy, there is The Rule of Three.

Having had two people collapse, I just hope Eric is not practising for a publicity stunt in which he can say his audiences really do die laughing.

Although, if that happened during this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, he might well be in the running for a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.

PS… The man in Adelaide recovered fully.

PPS… For regular readers of this blog I have, alas, no further news of Juliet Meyers’ bottom-watching exploits.

I live in hope.

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British ex-Navy comedian Eric and Bob Slayer’s banning bother in Australia

Bob Slayer at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe

On the day Malcolm Hardee Award winning British comic Bob Slayer was thrown out of his Austral venue at the Adelaide Fringe this week, I received this e-mail from his fellow British comic Eric, whose show is running at the Tuxedo Cat venue in Adelaide.

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As I walked through the Tuxedo Cat on the way to do my show this evening, I was surprised to see Bob Slayer stood by the bar. We exchanged pleasantries and Bob told me that he was going to come and see my show tonight. I must admit to being a little confused by this, as Bob had previously told me that he was unable to see my show in Adelaide because our shows’ times clashed – and, of course, he was unable to see my show in Perth as he had been banned from the venue…

Seeing the quizzical look on my face, Bob solved the mystery instantly by informing me that he had cancelled his ‘entire run’ simply so that he could see my show. Seeing my expression had now changed from ‘quizzical’ to ‘incredulous’ (I was eighteen years in the Royal Navy, an organisation that runs on bullshit, so I can smell BS at forty paces) he relented and told me that he had once again been banned from the Festival and all his shows had been cancelled.

“Oh well,” I thought, “that’s Bob I suppose.”

I, of course, knew that he had also been banned in Perth, but, as he had been reluctant to talk about that (or indeed anything else in Perth), I didn’t enquire further, but simply sorted him out with a ticket and went off to set up for my show.

After the show, Bob came backstage and we chatted while he watched me get changed. I am getting used to having an audience for my backstage strip now – I am thinking of selling tickets to it rather than to my show… I understand that Bob also treated Juliet Meyers to the spectacle that is The Bob Slayer Arse when she arrived to set up for her show. Anyway that is by the by…

Bob told me that the reason he had been banned from the Adelaide Fringe was because he had blogged the story of one of his shows attended by a number of people with Fringe Festival Passes, whom he eventually ejected because of their behaviour.

This made me think: “Oh! I had better be careful about what I write about last night’s show.”

A couple of guys sat right in the front row wearing ‘Artists Passes’ spent the entire show whispering to each other and generally being a distraction and, if it wasn’t for all the trials and tribulations that we had had with the show not finishing on time, I would have quite happily taken them to task on this. But, terrified of over-running, I let it go and just hoped they weren’t proving as much of a distraction to the audience as they were to me.

At the risk of also getting myself banned, I have to say that, if someone is going to take advantage of a pass that allows them free access to a show, then it is simply common courtesy not to disrupt proceedings.

Adelaide Fringe has a policy of allowing performers free admission to performances that are not sold out. So does Perth. And certain venues at the Edinburgh Fringe have a similar policy.

But audience members who have made no financial investment in seeing a show are far less likely to invest their attention in that show. We value what we have had to work for and earned far more than anything we are given for free. I am all in favour of artists, volunteers and other contributors to any Fringe being able to sit their bum on any empty seat at the Festival that they have helped to create but – hey guys – just don’t take the piss, eh?

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I received that e-mail on the day Bob Slayer lost his show at the Austral venue. But the story has a happy ending. Well, happy for one night.

Eric asked Cass, who runs the Tuxedo Cat venue, if she would be interested in having Bob perform there. She said he was exactly the type of edgy performer that the Tuxedo Cat would welcome with open arms.

Eric then mentioned this to Bob and so, tonight, Bob is performing one last show in a late slot at the Tuxedo Car in Adelaide.

He immediately issued a press release saying:

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Just when I thought the whole comedy world was going to cast me out for being a liability… I have been thrown a lifeline by Cass @ The Tuxedo Cat.

– Hang on wasn’t he banned from the Adelaide Fringe? The Fringe itself is an open access festival… with various promoters… I was banned by one of these promoters: Ha Ha Comedy who promote at the Austral as part of the Fringe… But Cass at the Tuxedo Cat has offered refuge and redemption like the church of yesteryear…

– Is this just a press stunt?

Oh man when you come along and find out what actually happened in Perth to get me banned (which had a knock-on effect here) and how much money it cost me (current estimate $7,500 and still counting) you will know that it is not!

– Why did you get banned in Perth? Why did you get banned in Austral?

– Look, if you want to find this out then you are going to have to come along for this one off special gig which will reveal all – It will make you laugh so hard that you will wish you were wearing a nappy.

This show will incorporate Bob Slayer’s full Australian adventure including: banned in Perth, touring the outback with a goat, hanging out with the proper locals in Coober Pedy, making wine in McLaren Vale, homeless in Adelaide, banned in Adelaide etc – and a conclusion that will make you weep.

Prepare for the most exciting and hilarious one-off show of the Fringe… qwarr

(Well maybe after Sanderson Jones’ gig – Seriously that will be special – Buy your ticket off him)

FREE GIG – there will be a hat for Bob Slayer’s repatriation Fund!

Also there is a great $10 bucks curry and vegi option plus Little Creatures Beer (and other drinks!)

1 Hour show (with after party til late!)

(My flight is at 6am and I will be drinking through)

One Night Only!

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Bob may be unpredictable, but he knows how to write a press release – and how to prepare the material for one. He now calls the Tuxedo Cat venue “The home of alternative comedy and cabaret at Adelaide Fringe and the defender of idiots”.

So the story has a happy ending. Sort of. Probably. At the time of writing, the show has not taken place. So who knows what may happen? As with all things in life, it is probably a good idea to hope for the best but prepare to hear the worst…

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Trouserless British comedian again appreciated at the Adelaide Fringe

Eric, photographed by Alex Brenner, appreciated by a fellow comedian

In my SO IT GOES blog two days ago, British comedian Eric told how the start of his first Tales of The Sea show was delayed at the Adelaide Fringe. I have just received this new e-mail from him:

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The third show kicked off late (as did the second) – so at least it is consistent. There was a mini power-cut tonight – just the lights this time and, thankfully, it happened before the show, as opposed to during it, which is what happened on opening night.

Kicking off late meant we finished late again. I hesitate to use the phrase ‘over-ran’, as the show was the right length, it just did not match the slot it was supposed to be in…

This meant that Juliet Meyers got to see me taking my trousers off again.

The dressing room was empty when I got offstage, so I thought: “Oh, good! I can get my trousers off unmolested tonight” and, to save time and the embarrassment of being caught, I tried to take them off over my footwear. Unfortunately, my trousers would not quite go over my trainers and I was in mid ‘dying crane’ impression when I heard a voice behind me:

“Ooh! You must have been doing press-ups with those buttocks!”

Juliet had snuck up on me. She said she had read the SO IT GOES blog and confessed that she had, indeed, been thinking about my bum for some time. Before she had seen it unfettered, she had mentally given it a ‘7’. But, when she saw it in the flesh, she told me she had upped that rating.

She did not let on what new rating she had given me, but I must admit to being curious… Is that wrong?

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After posting this blog about Eric in Adelaide, I am driving to Bournemouth to attend a funeral. So it goes.

Life goes on.

You have to laugh.

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Comic capers and calamities on the first day of the Adelaide Fringe Festival

Eric with “Tales of the Sea” - and now Adelaide

Two days ago, I got an e-mail from Bob Slayer – the day before his comedy show opened at the Adelaide Fringe:

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I am in Adelaide stopping at the house of a man called Matthew who I met on couchsurfing.org.

I have stopped at many random people’s homes in my life but never one I met through an online service that did not involve the prospect of sex. I once topped-and-tailed with singer-songwriter Beth Ditto – the big girl in The Gossip – in Portland, Oregon, when they supported Japanese band Electric Eel Shock, which I was managing. Did I tell you this recently? I also have an early demo I was sent by a band called the Arctic Monkeys who were, at the time, looking for a manager… Anyway I digress…

Matthew seems cool. He took me straight to the bottle shop and we bought beers. Jimbo came around to introduce Gary the Goat.

Oh! How I have missed Gary the Goat in the last few days!

Jimbo and he stayed in Port Kenny on the Eyre Peninsula with a girl while I went to visit an old tour manager friend of mine in McLaren Vale and ended up shoveling grapes and making wine for a couple of days. They paid me in my weight in wine.

I have lots of new things to talk about in tomorrow’s gigs like killing and eating the Australian national emblem but I might also pop into the hospital and see if I can visit strangers just to add their story to the mix.

__________

I got that e-mail from Bob two days ago. Then, yesterday, I received this e-mail from comedian Eric about his (Eric’s) show on the first day of the Adelaide Fringe.

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As last year, I am doing my show at the Tuxedo Cat venue. Last year it was ‘Adelaide Fringe venue of the year’. It is run by super cool Cass & Bryan who, every year, take over a derelict building and make it into something wonderful.

As with all refurbishment projects, it takes time to complete and, as Bryan & Cass are presented with just a shell every year, the build is coming from a long way back. Time is the old enemy and, when I ask about doing a technical rehearsal on the day of my first show, I am somewhat taken aback to be told that my room has not been built yet – but a blitz is about to take place that will turn three walls and a pile of old pallets into a performance space in time for my first show at 6.00pm.

I discover that there is no projector either. Last year I borrowed Dan Willis’ projector, so I drop him a quick text. He tells he now lives in Melbourne but has left his magic lantern with a mutual friend who lives in Adelaide. Our mutual friend Alex is at work and cannot leave. I go to his place of work (30 minute drive), pick up his keys, drive to his house (20 minute drive) pick up the projector, drive back to my house (20 minute drive) pick up my family (wife Helen and baby ‘Little E’), drive back to his place of work (30 minute drive) drop his keys back to him, then drive to the venue (30 minute drive).

I eventually emerge triumphant with projector and family at the venue. We park outside and unload everything we need for the show, which now includes pram, change bag, bottles and assorted toys.

I discover that the Blue Room where I am due to perform in an hour’s time is nowhere near ready and my heart sinks. Fifty minutes later, little has changed. There is no lighting, no sound, we have done no tech rehearsal at all. There seems little or no prospect of putting on a show. And the room is now filling with punters clutching their tickets.

I inform them that the room is not ready and invite them to return to the bar. No sooner have these people vacated than another wave of punters arrive. I give these people the same advice and, as the third wave arrive, I decide this is hopeless and locate the ushers and tell them the room is not ready and ask them to hold the audience in the bar until we are ready. I obtain the customary Australian “No worries, mate” response, return to the room and do what I can.

Five minutes later, there appears to have been a shift change with the ushers as the room again starts to fill with punters.

We finally kick off nearly half an hour late. I ask if any of the audience need to be anywhere before 7:30 and offer anyone who does their money back – No-one moves and we crack on with the show.

Ten minutes into the show, we lose all power. The light that we belatedly got onto the stage extinguishes. The projector’s whirring fan falls eerily silent and we lose both sound and picture, like a faulty TV.

Then the audience, who have been so tolerant up to now, really come into their own. Many of them take out their mobile phones and light the room up with their screens. It is a joy to behold… almost literally ‘people power’.

As we have gone completely off-piste and are unable to continue with the show, we just spend the next ten minutes chatting. Cass dashes about in the shadows trying to fix the problem which, as expected, she does and we finally get on with the show – a show that, to be fair, I have actually enjoyed… And so, it seems, have the audience. Much of the credit must go to them. I resolve to have all of them come to all of my gigs.

Comic Juliet Meyers is doing the show following mine and she is none too pleased that she is starting over half an hour late (and to be honest neither am I). I tell her the only upside is that she now gets to see me change out of my seafaring show garb and into my civvies.

As I drop my trousers, she tells me that my buttocks are “surprisingly pert”. I am not entirely sure how I should take this information but eventually conclude that the only explanation is that Ms Meyers has been imagining my buttocks for some time and now – faced with the actuality of my derrière – has found them to be more pert than she had imagined…

I then go off to find the family.

As usual, Little E is found feeding on her mum and, after I get myself and Helen some of the fabulous Vietnamese salad with dumplings from the food counter, we sit and eat in quiet contemplation, until a queue unexpectedly forms beside us.

Unbeknown to us, the ‘quiet’ corner that Helen had positioned herself in to feed Little E was in fact right next to the entrance to the Yellow Room venue and, for the next five minutes, we become a living exhibit entitled ‘Feeding the Family’ for the entertainment of the waiting crowd….

I then dash across to the Austral venue to perform in Nik Coppin’s show Shaggers.

On arrival, I see Bob Slayer making his way from the bar with four jugs of beer, two in each hand.

“Oh” I innocently think, “He is getting a big round in… He must be with a large group of people.”

Then I see him go and sit at a table alone and conclude he must actually be continuing his mission to outdrink Australia and, having done battle with Perth, it is now Adelaide’s turn…

The crowd at Shaggers are also lovely and everyone has a lovely time talking filth with them.

I am second on and, as I finish my stint onstage, I get a text to say Little E has finally fallen asleep and Helen has come to the venue collect me but there is a fight in progress outside the Austral and she is sheltering around the corner.

With the time approaching midnight and the car park I abandoned our car in closing at midnight, I have no choice but to brave the crowd and the fight and collect my girls. We all go home, having had one very long day.

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…That was a heavily shortened version of what happened in Eric’s hectic day. And that was only Day One of the Adelaide Fringe.

I feel we may hear more anarchic tales from Down Under.

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Researching Bob Slayer’s comedy show in the Australian outback with a goat

Jimbo, Gary the Goat and Bob Slayer on a research trip

I spent most of yesterday driving from London to Plymouth in Devon and then to Penzance in Cornwall.

Who knew Penzance was that far away? Not me. And why are some of the road signs in Cornwall printed in Cornish? Who speaks Cornish? It is bad enough Tesco supermarkets in South Wales have signs in Welsh in areas where people don’t speak Welsh.

My friend and I are staying in a very nice 4-star seafront hotel in Penzance.

She complained to the hotel that the room was too cold; I took my sweater off because it was so hot. Mind you, she had been sleep-deprived the night before. (I had nothing to do with that.)

Hot water came out of the cold tap and cold water came out of the hot tap; then hot water came out of the hot tap and hot water came out of the cold tap.

Then the ends of the taps saying HOT and COLD fell off.

My friend was by now getting hysterical with laughter.

There was a slight creaking from the wall. She put her dressing gown over the wall-mounted trouser press.

“Was the trouser press creaking?” I asked.

“No,” she replied.

Meanwhile, from Australia…

British comedian Eric sent me an e-mail saying:

Just three days until the Adelaide Fringe kicks off and I have just found out that my opening night is sold out! And ‘Little E’ had her first bogey today. (I am so proud.)

Little E is his newish-born daughter Erica.

I found it rather worrying that the Adelaide Fringe starts in three days, because British comedian Bob Slayer is supposed to be performing there and, yesterday, I got an e-mail from him in the outback.

When last heard from, Bob had disappeared in the desert on his way to the Adelaide Fringe. He was stuck in Coober Pedy, the opal mining centre of the world, accompanied by Australian comic Jimbo and by Jimbo’s amiable animal mate Gary the Goat. They had encountered a Czech opal miner who might or might not have a daughter he is trying to marry off.

Yesterday’s e-mail told me all three have now reappeared in Roxby Downs – a town, Bob tells me, which was built to house the miners of what is set to become the largest mine in the world – the Olympic Dam mine. This is what he told me:

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Extremely well-paid employees are pulling copper, gold and uranium out of the ground in vast quantities. Instead of Coober Pedy’s beat-up trucks and utility vehicles, Roxby streets are lined with 4x4s that have never seen anything other than tarmac. The streets are lined with green manicured grass and there is not a real local in site.

We go into the smart environs of Roxby Downs Community Club and I am pleasantly surprised when they are happy for us to put on a gig the following night. They initially have concerns about being able to drum up a crowd, but the presence of Gary the Goat swings it. We have a feed and then, after seeing how expensive the motel is, we decide to sleep rough on the football oval. I doubt the motel would be very happy with Gary anyway. In the morning, we are woken by the sprinklers and then, before we can have a shower, we are moved on by the parkies. 

The three of us go for a swim in the outdoor swimming pool at the community leisure centre but then staff change their mind about Gary the Goat because someone has complained. If they had thrown us out because Jimbo and I had turned their pool cloudy then I would understand. But Gary the Goat was happily chewing grass and being patted by the local kids while we had a swim. 

The nice staff at the pool tell us that the complaint comes from a lady with a dog. It seems that if her little poodle isn’t allowed into the pool area then why should a goat be? Well little vegetarian goat droppings are very different to dog shit. People are odd complaining about someone else’s happiness. When we take Gary out of the pool area, a little girl cries because she wanted to pat Gary some more.

We decide to go for breakfast before doing some promotion. The cafe is next to the school and Gary the Goat somehow gets into a classroom. Woops! There follows a heated lecture from the principal who tells us that Gary is a danger to the children. While she is telling us this a dozen toddlers, who are now leaving morning playgroup, are taking it in turns to pat Gary. 

A council lady turns up. She is nice but says we have to take Gary the Goat to the park. We explain that we have already been thrown out of there. We take Gary away and more children cry. Two of the mothers get angry with the principal. We are causing a bit of a scene. 

In the middle of all this commotion, the kinder garden teacher tells us that her husband Julian runs the local radio station and would like to interview Gary the Goat. As we leave the radio station, two girls turn up from the Roxby Downs Monitor and we give them an exclusive on the Gary situation. When they leave a man from the Roxby Downs Sun turns up and we give him an exclusive as well!

In the evening, at the gig, our gorilla promotions seem to have worked as over 100 paying punters turn up to see just who are these people with the goat. We have a great show and a good old knees-up afterwards.

We now have more than enough money to afford the Roxby Downs motel but we sleep on the football oval, this time by choice!

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That was yesterday. When I woke up this morning, there was another e-mail from Bob – a Press Release saying he has been doing preparation and research in the outback for his Adelaide Fringe show Bob Slayer Will Outdrink Australia, including a visit to Wineries in McLaren Vale “where I spent the last couple of days working on the new vintage for Alpha Box & Dice winery who paid me in my weight in wine!”

I looked up the Alpha Box & Dice website. Their slogan is: “Where all your dreams come true”.

According to Bob’s Press Release, there will be two shows each day at the Austral venue in Adelaide:

5:45 – Early show (first drink of the day) – a solo show.

Midnight – Late show (still drinking) – includes special guests.

Bob describes himself in the Press Release as a “hilariously drunk and deranged rock & roll tour manager turned Edinburgh Fringe award winning comedian. Wilder than the acts he has looked after (Iggy Pop, Snoop Dogg, Grinspoon, Bloodhound Gang, Regurgitator, Electric Eel Shock etc).

“I have been to Australia once before, maybe five years ago,” he says, “when I was tour manager of Nashville Pussy (from the USA). This time I wanted to take in the real Australia.”

Apparently his escapades are being filmed for a future documentary and “reported on a highly-regarded UK Comedy Blog.

I am beginning to worry about Bob’s views. Is this blog highly-regarded? I feel it should be less respectable.

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