Tag Archives: Giada Garofalo

Jaw droppers of the Edinburgh Fringe

Lewis Schaffer Googles himself outside a mosque

Lewis Schaffer Googles himself near a mosque

“You should consider Lewis Schaffer for the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award for comic originality,” Lewis Schaffer told me yesterday. “I’m so original people are starting to imitate me.”

“No-one could imitate you,” I told Lewis Schaffer.

“Yeah, they’re starting,” said Lewis Schaffer, “I saw this young comic who said he had done 1,000 bad shows.”

“And was he,” I asked, “too young to have done that?”

“Well, I don’t know if he had done it. I’m not saying I am the only failure in town, but I think people are realising it’s very easy to be a success at being a failure because most comedians are failures. There is heavy competition for my spot as the premier failing comic in the business.”

“And for this reason,” I asked, “we should nominate you for the increasing prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award for comic originality?”

“Well,” argued Lewis Schaffer, “when people come and see my show, they say: God! I’ve never seen anything like it. That means it’s original.”

Everyone has to have a publicity angle in Edinburgh.

For me, yesterday, it was worth seeing Cassie Atkinson & Oh Standfast (Graham Goddard)’s Comedy In Progress show simply for the reference to the great Dudley Sutton who has one of the great unpublished autobiographies, as evidenced by his 2003 and 2006 Fringe shows Killing Kittens and Pandora’s Lunchbox. Anyone who mentions Dudley Sutton is OK with me.

Giada with some cutting-edge Fringe comedy

Unflyered by Giada in Edinburgh yesterday

Then I bumped into Italian comic Giada Garofalo in the rain about 20 minutes before her show started. She had been feeling ill, it was raining quite heavily and she had done no flyering, so expected me to be the only member of her audience for Live in the Staff Room (Sex, Fairy Tales, Serial Killers and Other Stuff). The second half of the title is very commercial; the first half not-so much.

But people in the full-to-overflowing audience yesterday seemed to have come simply because of the word-of-mouth. There were people listening to the show from the corridor because they couldn’t fit in. One couple had been unable to get in the previous day (no room) so had come back again, determined to see it. They were not disappointed.

Then, on the way to check-out The Counting House Lounge for my Grouchy Club with Kate Copstick (which starts today), I bumped into Giada’s fellow-Italian Luca Cupani, who has got through to the final of the So You Think You’re Funny comedy competition.

Does this look like an Italian character? Luca Cupani

Does this look like an Italian character?

“It was unanimous,” Luca told me, “but one of the judges thought I might not be Italian. He said I looked like an Italian ‘character act’ though he admitted my accent was very good. I asked him: Why should I pretend to be Italian? I would not wish anyone to be Italian.”

“I have just seen Giada’s show,” I told him. “She got a full room and had not done any flyering.”

“Yesterday,” said Luca, “I flyered two tramps. I thought it would be kind to offer them to come see a free show on the BlundaBus. But they were smelling in a wonderful way. Sometimes poverty stinks. Then I thought, if they get on the bus, maybe the act on after me will be not so happy. Luckily, they were a little bit drunk and didn’t take the flyer.”

Then I saw Harriet Kemsley’s show Puppy Fat. Immediately afterwards, I texted someone:

Harriet Kemsley with an owl

Harriet Kemsley with a stuffed owl

Good grief! I just saw Harriet Kemsley’s show. I think the audience and I need counselling. Talk about suddenly changing the tone without warning! There was no hint of it coming. Mouths were open and jaws dropped. It was like a trapdoor suddenly opened.

Then I went to see Elf LyonsBeing Barbarella. I bumped into Kate Copstick by accident in the cafe next door to the Voodoo Rooms. She was going to see Elf too. There was a mystery girl manning the door of Elf’s room who recognised both of us (always unnerving). Under intensive grilling, she admitted she performed comedy “occasionally” and was taking part in an Edinburgh Fringe show, but refused to say who she was or what the show was.

“But it’s publicity,” I suggested to her.

“I like anti-publicity,” she said.

Kate Copstick (right) with an unknown

Kate Copstick (right) with an unknown girl

She has something to do with shadow puppetry. The first person to grass her up and tell me her name and the show’s name gets a copy of Malcolm Hardee’s increasingly prestigious but tragically out-of-print autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake.

Anyway…

Elf Lyons’ Being Barbarella: mesmerizing, barnstorming, hyper charismatic performance.

Then I saw The Story Beast (John Henry Falle)’s show – mesmerizing, barnstorming, hyper charismatic performance.

Yes, both mesmerizing, barnstorming, hyper charismatic.

In between, I went to the launch of Freestival’s new venues at the New Waverly Arches where I bumped into Nicole Harvey.

“I didn’t know you were doing a show up here,” I said.

“I was coming up for a jolly and to support mates anyhow,” she told me, “and was warmed up after the Brighton and Camden Fringes and I saw Freestival had a new venue, so I thought Why not? But I wasn’t expecting to have to wrestle my Gorgeous Gavin from a rough drunken Scottish girl.”

NicoleHarveyFreestival_CUT

Nicole Harvey with her Gorgeous Gavin

Part of Nicole’s show Delicious and Dateless involves an inflatable man.

“This girl actually wanted to start a fight with me over Gorgeous Gavin,” Nicole told me. “His rather extended protrusion had been modestly covered with boxers but she was carting him off flashing all in sight.”

I don’t normally give show time and date details because it means bugger all to people reading this blog in Paraguay or in three weeks or two years time but, in this case, Nicole is performing her show Delicious and Dateless at Freestival’s New Waverly Arches:

15th August: Arch 1 at 6:45pm

16th August: Arch 2 at 6:15pm

18th-22nd August: Arch 2 at 6:15pm

Welcome to an everyday story of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe fucked-up by the mess at Cowgatehead.

But the Fringe is all about surprises.

Chris Dangerfield in Thailand yesterday morning

Chris Dangerfield in his prime in Thailand

This morning, I texted comic Chris Dangerfield to ask if he was coming up to Edinburgh. He told me:

“Avalon asked me to do their Comedy Central shizzle This Is Not Happening.”

Well, that should be interesting, then…

Chris Dangerfield is not Mr Mainstream Showbiz.

I asked if I could mention it in my blog.

“Of course,” he replied. “Just say …with Fringe big hitters like Chris Dangerfield not doing a show this year… or …with Chris Dangerfield successfully bribing me with drugs for copy this year…”

It is all about publicity. It is all about self-promotion.

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A Rumble, women talking about their sex lives, Fringe awards and my big toe

Things are not as bad as they seem (Photo by MEUNF)

Yesterday someone – as people often do – asked me if it is difficult to find subjects for this daily blog. “No. Not at all,” I told them.

But, of course, the difficulty is often fitting in time to actually write the bleedin’ blogs, especially if (as is often the case) listening to, transcribing and editing 45-60 minutes of chat is involved even before I start writing the bleedin’ things.

Even when there are no lengthy chats to transcribe, time or too much stuff coming together can be a problem.

For the 16 days until I leave for the Edinburgh Fringe, I already have 9 recorded chats, I am seeing 11 upcoming shows, there are two podcasts to plug and I am meeting up with 5 other people for possibly bloggable chats. Plus whatever else turns up.

Ali Jones having a Rumble in Hemel tonight

Ali Jones having a Rumble in Hemel tonight

Tonight I went to Hemel Hempstead to present one of The Rumble Awards. They “celebrate the positive contribution people with learning disabilities and differences make to the world and recognise their unique skills and talents and personalities”.

Organiser Ali Jones says the awards are not about doing things for people but doing things with people. The recipients are the participants and her Pioneer Approaches organisation are complementary therapists who compliment people.

The prestigious two-hour Rumble Awards show tonight was basically a series of awards wrapped up in a variety of other interesting events.

More later in this blog, as you might expect, about another increasingly prestigious two-hour awards show.

Sofie Hagen has a memorable opening line

Sofie Hagen has a memorable opening line

The last couple of weeks have involved me seeing a lot of Edinburgh Fringe previews in London.

Some of the ones I have seen recently might seem to imply that a 2015 Fringe theme will be female comedians talking in extreme detail about their sexual experiences. So far I have had Sara Mason with tales of Burt Lancaster piercing her hymen and much more… Giada Garofalo linking her sex life, fairy tales and serial killers… and Sofie Hagen, whose very first line in a preview of her Bubblewrap show two nights ago (I might be paraphrasing, but only slightly) was:

“So, I was pissing on this man…”

This week has been awash with unexpected lines. I had Fringe preview organiser Dec Munro say to me, without any introductory explanation:

Dec Munro attempts to mount a horse

Dec Munro tries his best to mount a horse

“I wanted to be the king of gerbil sales at school. Michele was going to be Gary Lineker’s wife and so I played romantic music – Barry White, all that sort of stuff – into their little gerbil cage and actually sang Let’s Get It On a couple of times to them. Unfortunately, after six-and-a-half months, it transpired that both of them were male.”

“Explain,” I asked him, “the phrase ‘I was the king of gerbil sales’.”

“I said,” replied Dec, as if explaining it, “I WANTED to be the king of gerbil sales.”

“Ah,” I said.

That was on Monday.

Then, last night, after a preview of her show Punching Pigeons, Martha McBrier insisted I should give her a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award this year.

Martha McBrier

Martha McBrier after London show last night

“Why?” I asked.

“Because,” she said, “Malcolm Hardee died on my birthday – the 31st of January – and that was very hard to organise in advance.”

“You were born in 2005?” I asked.

“I was ‘created’ in 2005,” she insisted.

“So you’re ten years old?” I asked.

“In many ways,” she replied, as if this explained something.

Either I am developing dementia or explanations are getting less clear.

Then the Edinburgh Fringe Office sent me a list of awards at the Fringe this year, which excluded any mention of the three increasingly prestigious annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards. I suggested, they could just repeat last year’s listing, but a new one was written by them for me, which was very nice of them. It read:


THE MALCOLM HARDEE COMEDY AWARDS 2015

The Malcolm Hardee Awards, with ‘Million’ award in middle

The three Malcolm Hardee Awards await their Fringe winners

The Awards are in memory of Malcolm Hardee, one of the most anarchic figures of his era, a great influence on British comedy over the last 25 years and the Godfather to a generation of comic talent.

The Comic Originality Award is for performers who, in the opinion of the judges, have not yet been given the attention they deserve and who have potential for continual development.

The winning act does not need to have the potential to become a major mainstream star. It is an award for people who deserve to succeed and who deserve to have their potential recognised and nurtured but who have not yet received their due recognition.

  • The Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality
  • The Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best publicity stunt publicising a Fringe act or show
  • The Malcolm Hardee ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’ Award

Acts will be shortlisted by a panel of judges and awards will be presented during a two-hour variety show Friday 28th August 2015 as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival.


The Fringe Office asked: “Could you clarify how the selection process is made?”

I suggested: “If you fancy, you could change:

“Acts will be shortlisted by a panel of judges and awards will be presented …”

to

“Acts will be shortlisted by a panel of judges more-or-less on a whim and awards will be presented …”

My damaged big toe

My toe – shortly after it got unexpectedly shelved

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So it has been a fairly odd week.

And then the nail of my big toe started coming off.

Over a month ago, the sharp edge of a heavy wooden shelf fell on the big toe of my right foot

Cutting into the bottom of my big toenail.

Well, I think maybe it actually did cut the toenail under the skin.

The nail has now grown to a point where it is loose on the right and unconnected to anything at the bottom.

toenail

My toe this week – The left is just hanging on.

But it is stubbornly remaining attached on the left by, I suspect, clinging on to some congealed blood.

I suspect the nail will come off any day now.

Someone suggested, when it inevitably does, I should wear it round my neck.

Like a medallion.

I meet some strange people.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Sex with comedian Giada Garofalo. Miss Behave tries to get money for dogging.

Giada Garofalo - not a woman to mess with

Giada Garofalo – maybe don’t mess with her

’Tis the season for jolly comedy performers to be previewing and thinking of ways to promote their Edinburgh Fringe shows next month.

Last night, I went to Soho in London to see Edinburgh preview shows by Giada Garofalo and Oli Bettesworth.

In his very funny show about depression – Sunshine and Lollipops (and a Creeping Sense of Existential Terror) – the very English Oli is seemingly making a fair bid for the loudest show on the Fringe. I cannot see his voice lasting out beyond the first week.

The very Sicilian Giada – with Live in the Staff Room! (Sex, Fairy Tales, Serial Killers & other Stuff) – is making a strong bid for the most autobiographically sexual show on the Fringe – the sex even permeates the fairy tale section which dumps Disney for Edgar Allan Poe.

Before the two previews, I had tea with Miss Behave, who is promoting her Edinburgh shows with the help of crowdfunding via a Kickstarter appeal.

“How much did you appeal for?” I asked.

“£397 – and I made it in six hours. So, I have decided to take it bigger and better.

Miss Behave’s successful appeal on Kickstarter

Miss Behave’s very successful first appeal on Kickstarter

“I did start off wanting camels, because I thought it would be a great way to launch my show(s) at the Fringe – to actually parade through a pedestrian area, flyering on camels.”

“And…?” I asked.

“Just try and get a fucking camel to Edinburgh,” said Miss Behave. “So then I thought: Donkeys.”

“You bet your ass,” I said.

Miss Behave ignored me.

“Or cows,” she continued. “But apparently cows have a tendency to charge at crowds of people, so that felt too dangerous. So then I was riffing with this person who is an animal wrangler. A Scottish animal wrangler.”

“For films?” I asked.

“Yeah. So I said: What about 50 chihuahuas? She thought about it overnight, called me back the next day and said: Right. I’ve sorted it. I’ve got a guy, who is also an animal wrangler, who has 20 chihuahua Jack Russell puppy mixes, so they’ll get on. If I just got 50 random dogs, there would be a dog fight.”

“These are,” I checked, “an interbreeding of chihuahuas and Jack Russells?”

“Yeah. Pretty cute. Chihuahuas are a bit too scary but, if you throw a bit of Jack Russell into the mix, that’s cute-tastic. It’s got a special name – a Jahuahua or JackChi or Jackhuahua or something.”

Jacksie?” I asked.

“JackChi,” said Miss Behave.

Miss Behave under the weather in Soho yesterday

Miss Behave under the weather in Soho yesterday afternoon

“You know,” I told her, “that there are dogs which are a cross between shih tzus and poodles?’

“What are they called?”

“Not what you’d think,” I said. “Which is a pity.”

“Anyway,” said Miss Behave, “the animal wrangler also found me a Newfoundland dog. The idea was that the Newfoundland would pull a cart with me sitting on it and all the chihuahua Jack Russell puppies would be around it and we would do a parade – again, flyering. Which was fine. But then the dude just went silent. Just dropped off the face of the earth. disappeared. I thought What am I going to do? I am not known for the ‘cute’ area, but I wanted it to be cute and silly.”

“Cute?” I asked. “You started with a herd of camels!”

“Yeah, but then I’d got into puppies. So I thought: Never work with children or animals. Well, alright, how about kids? I could get a lot of kid dancers. I could have six different children’s dance companies, all with the same music, but each doing different routines. Kids are cute. I am not – and I don’t really like children. So that’s funny.

Cute or not? Miss Behave.

Cute or not? Miss Behave.

“I thought: I can co-ordinate it all but, with the cost of actually doing Edinburgh this year, I can’t also afford £300 worth of helium balloons and all the other stuff for the kids. So I costed it all up and I had been wanting to try a Kickstarter for a while. £397 is not a massive amount of money to ask for. Give it a go!

“And it’s been real fun. It took me six hours to raise £397 and now, at the point I’m talking to you,  it’s been just over 24 hours. I have 25 days left and I’ve got £708 already pledged. I thought: If I get more, let’s see how large a production number we can give ‘em. That could potentially mean more helium balloons, confetti cannons.”

“It could,” I suggested, “mean the return of the camels and the chihuahuas.”

“Or a drone camera,” mused Miss Behave. “With £708, I’ve got enough to buy a cheap little remote controlled helicopter, strap a GoPro camera onto it and that could be a drone. I think it’s going to be a laugh and there’s no ‘wrong’ in it. If the worst thing that happens is a bunch of kids show up dressed in cardboard boxes with a load of helium balloons, that’s fine. At the moment, I have four different dance schools and one majorette school.”

“What,” I asked, “are they actually promoting?”

 Miss Behave and her lovely Gameshow assistant Harriet

Miss Behave and her lovely Gameshow assistant Harriet

“I’m taking my gameshow up to the Fringe – the large version I did in a Spiegeltent in London.”

“Are you appearing in any major Edinburgh comedy awards shows?” I asked.

“Well, I’m going to run in late and make a spectacular entrance into the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show, but don’t tell the organiser, because he thinks I’m actually hosting it with Janey Godley.”

“Chaos is always welcome,” I said. “It is good to live in interesting times.”

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Giada Garofalo on terrorism, porn and comedy – but don’t mention the Mafia

On their way to Shepherd’s Bush tonight (L-R): Luca Cupani, Giacinto Palmieri, Giada Garofalo, Romina Puma

On their way to Shepherd’s Bush tonight (L-R): Luca Cupani, Giacinto Palmieri, Giada Garofalo and Romina Puma

Tonight, I am off to see the London-based Italian language comics of Il Puma Londinese preview their Edinburgh Fringe show at Kate Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in London.

I talked to one of them – Giada Garofalo – about her upcoming Edinburgh solo show, catchily titled Live in The Staff Room (Sex, Fairytales, Serial Killers and Other Stuff)

“You are a Sicilian,” I started. “So you’re not to be messed around with…”

“I am not connected to the Mafia,” she told me. “I am a good girl, though I know people. But I don’t want to talk about that, because that could be really weird.”

“Oh,” I said. “OK. How long have you been in the UK?”

“I have been here for 13 years.”

“Why did you come over here?’

“I ran away. I was going through a tough time. My mama had passed away two years before. I was a bit lost. I was in a very serious relationship. I was going to get married soon.”

“So you came over here to marry an Englishman?”

“No. I came over to run away from my Italian. But it wasn’t just for that. I came for two months, just to refresh my English and, instead, I thought – Hey! – I don’t want to go back home. I don’t want to get married. I want to live a different life. I went back home for a month, left everything, came back to London and here I am.

“The first year, it was tough to find a job and I started to do an unpaid internship in PR because, after my degree, I did a Masters in Italy in Business Communication. Big mistake. It’s not me.”

“What is Business Communication?” I asked.

“Marketing, PR. So I did an internship here and, after a couple of internships, I got a job doing a little bit of PR, then moved into Admin because, at the same time, I had started to write bits because I wanted to be an academic.”

“In what?” I asked.

Serial killer aficionado and terrorism expert Giada

Serial killer aficionado and terrorism expert Giada

“I specialised in terrorism and security. I have written about human rights. I have written about European politics. I wanted to do a PhD. So, while I had my job in Admin here, I started to work with some universities as an external researcher and I was writing at night.”

“For British universities?” I asked.

“No. a couple of Italian ones. We wrote papers that were collected in academic books. Then I did another Masters here in Security Studies and I kept writing about terrorism, theories of the state and blah blah blah. Then I wanted to do a PhD but I didn’t get a full scholarship and thought: I can’t carry on working full-time and doing academic stuff at night. I was tired and I was also a little bit fed up with politics, a little bit cynical, and so, one day, I thought: I’ll do a comedy course.”

“Terrorism to comedy is a bit of a jump,” I suggested.

“Well, not really. You can be interested in different things. I just wanted to do one gig, just for my birthday. I had already said In another life I might be a comedian and my sister said Why do you have to wait for another life? So I did the comedy course. I did the gig. And I really enjoyed it and haven’t stopped since.”

“What is the appeal?” I asked.

“At the beginning, when you start, I think it’s the adrenaline on stage. Now I really enjoy the writing. My favourite moment in comedy is the first time I come out with ten minutes of new stuff and it’s not even polished. Then there is the editing and the things you learn. It’s a learning process. To learn how to be more concise and connect with the audience. It took me nine months to get rid of the microphone stand.

“I had always used to study, analyse, deconstruct. But with comedy – and with photography, which I started at the same time – I’m learning by doing. It comes from the inside. It’s very slow – it’s coming up to seven years now… That’s pretty much me in a nutshell… Maybe more nuts than shell.”

“How would you describe your act?” I asked.

“I do more storytelling than stand-up.”

“And, when you started…?”

“The first gigs I did were about language and being Italian but then I thought: I can’t do that, because all foreigners do that. Then I became aware of this idea that all women in comedy talk about the same things, so I thought: I’m not going to talk about these; I am NOT going to be ‘the female comedian’ or ‘the foreign comedian’. So all I had left was politics and I got into a niche: benefit gigs, the Marxist Festival. But I thought: I want to talk about other things. So I gave up for six months, then I started to do Il Puma Londinese, which was really interesting. It started three years ago and I joined about six months later.

(From left) Marouen Mraihi., Giada Garofalo, Giacinto Palmieri, Romina Puma, Alex Martini after last night’s show

After Il Puma Londinese show (L-R) Marouen Mraihi., Giada Garofalo, Giacinto Palmieri, Romina Puma, Alex Martini

“I stopped seeing myself as an Italian, stopped seeing myself as a female – just being me. Humour is more universal than we think, except for specific cultural references”

“Is your Italian-language comedy different from your English-language comedy?”

“No. Though some jokes are different. In Italian, I maybe play more with the language, but 95% of what I say in Italian is what I say in English.

“In Italy, we have this tradition where you do a comedy monologue as a character. In this country, you just do it as yourself. You don’t have to create a character. That’s great, because I can’t act, I don’t know how to create a character, so I can just be me.”

“And your Edinburgh Fringe show this year…?” I prompted.

“I get bored very easily with what I write so, this year, I have decided to go unscripted. I have five bullet points. Every time I go on stage, I will try to say it in a different way and improvise it.”

“When I saw the preview,” I said, “it seemed tight.”

“I’ve got a good memory. The problem is that, if I write down the script, I will remember it word-for-word immediately and, after that, it becomes a lecture. This year, I want to play the show to the room, not just play the show.”

“It is about fairy tales?” I asked.

Giada with some cutting-edge Fringe comedy

Giada with her cutting-edge Fringe comedy

“Fairy tales with a twist, because I talk about the original fairy tales, which were horror stories. We have this idea of fairy tales as Oh! Find your Prince Charming! – Well, in fact, Prince Charming used to rape the princesses.”

“In the original version,” I said, “he did not waken up Sleeping Beauty with a kiss…?”

“No. They were really gruesome. In Cinderella, one of the sisters gets her toes cut off to try to fit in the shoe. Sleeping Beauty is really gruesome.”

“And you have this interest in serial killers…” I said.

“When someone tells me: This is how you should feel about something, I tend to go the opposite way just to see if it’s true or not. And, since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by serial killers.

“I think there is a potential serial killer in all of us and, I guess, being a comic means you are a bit of a psychopath. Serial killers lack empathy with their victims and, to find humour, you have to be detached, you need to lack empathy. For a comic, if they have had a good night, they say they ‘killed’.”

“Or,” I said, “the comic ‘dies’ on stage… But surely the performer has to have total empathy to ride and control the audience’s emotions?”

“That’s when you’re performing,” said Giada. “I’m talking about writing. But, even on stage, you have to assert your power over an audience – in a nice way. You do want to control the audience, to manipulate them and that’s what serial killers want. But it’s just comedy. I’m just messing around. I dunno.”

“Your show title also has the word ‘sex’ in it,” I said.

“I discovered porn at a late age,” said Giada. “I think maybe I watched a couple of movies back in the age of videocassettes. But, in the last couple of years, there has been a lot of talk of… I don’t know if it’s because of social media or because there’s been a shift in people… a lot of talk about pornography and feminism and anti-feminism and, I think, in some cases, it’s a bit trivial. So I decided to watch porn.

“Some stuff was really fun; some stuff made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe porn is to other people what serial killers are to me. Where I can explore some darker fantasies without acting upon them. And one of the theories about fairy tales is that they had that same function: to provide a safe place for children to explore their fears and darker fantasies. I dunno. I don’t have an answer. I just have questions.”

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Critic Kate Copstick on what makes a good Edinburgh Fringe comedy show and how to get reviewed by her (maybe)

Yesterday’s Jewish Comedy Day

Yesterday’s very full Jewish Comedy Day

The second (25 minute) Grouchy Club weekly podcast went online last night. Comedy critic Kate Copstick and I recorded it immediately after a live Grouchy Club show at Arlene Gorodensky-Greenhouse‘s  Jewish Comedy Day in the London Jewish Cultural Centre.

It was edge-of-the-seat stuff for Copstick and me, as we both had diarrhoea and had been told not to mention the Holocaust.

There was a high percentage of comedians in the audience at yesterday’s live show and one asked: “What makes a good Edinburgh Fringe show?”

“Honesty and passion,” Copstick told her, “both of which are in increasingly short supply, because now too many people just want to be on telly. They don’t really want to be stand-up comics. They want to be presenters, so they’re just looking for the shortest possible route through all the nastiness, which is stand-up.

“The most wonderful shows I’ve seen are all about passion, about honesty. I saw shows in tents, halfway up The Mound; I saw shows that only lasted 15 minutes. They’re the special ones. What the Fringe is for, especially now we’ve got the Free Fringe, is passion and honesty and doing what you want to say your way.

Giada Garofalo and Janet Bettesworth after yesterday’s show

Giada Garofalo and Janet Bettesworth after yesterday’s show

“If it’s your first time, then it’s finding out what sticks to the wall. NOT thinking: Ooh! I’ll do an hour by numbers because it’s just what the Fosters judges are looking for. There are hundreds of those shows at the Fringe. It’s about finding out what your USP is. A comic should have a real, burning personality and a voice that should not be like anybody else’s – otherwise, what the fuck are you doing as a stand-up?”

I added: “What’s going to be interesting, by definition, is something the audience has never seen before. If you’ve seen it before, it’s not going to be as interesting. If a comic is doing something vaguely similar to someone else, they should dump it.”

“Unless,” Copstick argued, “you’re doing it much better than them.”

“Even so,” I said, “it wouldn’t be THAT interesting. If you’re doing it better, you’re probably doing it in a slightly different way.”

The Grouchy Club will be back at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, running daily 14th-30th August at 3.45-4.45pm.

Copstick makes a point in the second Grouchy Club podcast

Copstick makes a point in the second Grouchy Club podcast

Later yesterday, in the Grouchy Club podcast, Copstick made an appeal to stand-up comics:

“If anyone has a comedy show that is on between 3.00pm and 5.00pm, then do feel free to get in touch with me (copstick@grouchyclub.co.uk) and try to get me to come and see your show before 14th August. If you are one of these highfalutin comics with some expensive PR who is going to turn round and say something to me like: Ummm… (insert name)’s show is not quite ready yet; we’d like you to come after the 19th, then fuck you!

“If your show is on between those two times – 3.00pm and 5.00pm – I can only really come before the 14th, because I would not want to leave John on his own, because he might not be on form. At the moment, his creativity is leaping out in diarrhoea-coloured fluid from his little clenched bottom as we speak.”

And that is why Copstick is the doyenne of Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviewers. Honesty, passion and a vivid turn of phrase.

I had an edge-of-the-seat ride home on the train.

You can hear the 25-minute Grouchy Club audio podcast HERE and see a 3-minute video clip HERE.

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In order to speak and perform Italian language comedy, you have to live it

Romina Puma

Romina Puma, creator of fortnightly shows

Last night, in London’s Soho, I went to fortnightly Italian language comedy night Laboratorio di Cabaret – Il Puma Londinese. They usually have at least one English language act.

This is the fourth of their shows I have been to and I understand about a quarter of one percent of what is going on in the Italian parts. But the atmosphere is hugely enjoyable and, to illiterate me, the shows are like watching abstract comedy performance. I watch the visual performance and can appreciate the structure of the emotional delivery of the words and feel the emotional meaning of the words, even though I don’t understand the words.

Last night I went with comedy critic Kate Copstick, who is multilingual – she can speak English, Italian, Swahili and Glaswegian. She has written guidebooks to Italy.

“Did you understand 100%?” I asked.

“Maybe 90%,” she told me. “But, in Italian, people take a lot more words to say stuff so, in a way, to get the gist, you only need to understand 90%. One of the wonderful things about Italian conversation is it’s ‘Big’. You maybe say things twice or in three different ways. You just say more than you would in English.”

“Earlier today,” I said, “I was talking to someone about Irish English and it’s often more meandering than most English English and Irish people have told me it’s because the Gaelic is not a succinct language: it, too, needs more words.”

“There is just such fun in saying things in Italian,” said Copstick. “Alex Martini (the compere) was terrific – great energy and quintessentially Italian – which is a GOOD thing. Really, really likeable. But a night like tonight also proves there is an element to comedy that goes beyond the words. I didn’t understand 100% but I laughed more than I do in a lot of good English language gigs. It’s the feeling of fun and enjoyment and laughter.

(From left) Marouen Mraihi., Giada Garofalo, Giacinto Palmieri, Romina Puma, Alex Martini after last night’s show

(From left) Marouen Mraihi., Giada Garofalo, Giacinto Palmieri, Romina Puma, Alex Martini after last night’s show

“Those two girls – Romina Puma and Giada Garofalo – warm, funny, confident and out there – they really brought the audience into it all. Very warm, very female, very anecdotal.

“If you translated their set into English, it’s just very anecdotal, chatty, kinda Sarah Millican-ish. But the energy and the whole character of doing it in Italian just pulls you in so much more.”

“I have an English friend,” I told Copstick, “who worked in Tokyo then married an Italian and now lives in Milan – so she’s good at languages – and she told me the only way to speak Italian is to ‘live’ the language. You can’t just say Italian words with English speech rhythms: you have to almost perform Italian. Saying the plain words just doesn’t work.”

“Absolutely,” said Copstick. “Giacinto Palmieri is warm and wonderful when he performs in English but, in Italian, it’s like someone has lit a fire under him. In English, he is black and white; it Italian, he is in colour.

“What your friend said about ‘living it’… the minute you translate the Italian words into English in your head, it’s not as funny. The whole approach to the story and the whole way of telling stories in Italian is just different. Literally – to coin Frank Carson’s old phrase – it’s the way they tell ‘em.”

Kate Copstick enjoyed my lively wit (Photograph by Giada Garofalo)

Copstick found herself unable to resist my captivating wit last night (Photograph by Giada Garofalo)

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