I got woken by heartburn this morning around 4.00am and started mini-puking around 6.20am. I think it must have been from the chicken curry I had with Janey Godley and her daughter Ashley Storrie last night at a restaurant in Edinburgh.
‘Janey Godley’ might or might not be her real name, depending on your viewpoint, as anyone who has read her autobiography Handstands In the Dark will know.
Perception is everything at the Edinburgh Fringe.
As I was walking along Chambers Street yesterday, on my way to comedian Bob Slayer’s solo comedy show Bob Slayer: Worldwide Bawbag, a middle-aged couple passed me. The woman asked the man:
“Who are we going to see?”
“I can’t remember his name,” replied the man. “He’s on one of those Never Mind The Buzzcocks type shows.”
“Oh,” the woman said, “so he’s not a proper comedian.”
Whoever they were talking about, I suspect he is a ‘proper’ comedian, but I see their point.
Is Bob Slayer a proper comedian? It depends on your perception. He likes to take risks, which is always a good start. People tend not to twig that ‘Bob Slayer’ is not his real name. It is a sporting pun.
Perception is everything.
When I arrived at the corner of South College Street yesterday afternoon, I perceived Bob Slayer chasing a girl in a red dress down Nicolson Street. She had, perhaps rather foolishly, refused to take one of the flyers for his show.
A few minutes later, as I sat in Bob’s Bookshop, waiting for him to come back and start his show, I chatted with one of the other members of the audience.
“Where do you come from?” I asked.
“Edinburgh.” he said in an English accent.
“How long have you lived here?”
“About a year.”
“Why did you move up here?”
“Because my friend got a job as an anaesthetist – teaching anaesthesia at the vet school here.”
“So you moved up here to do what?”
“I’m training as a cyclist,” he told me. “And I’m an inventor.”
“What do you invent?”
“In the last year,” he told me, “I’ve been working on prosthetic joints, pieces for an engine – hopefully for Jaguar – a driving tool for the AA and make-up and hopefully chocolate for the Third World.”
“What’s your name?”
“You have a website?”
“I do. gregdickens.org.uk.”
“Org?” I said, “That implies you don’t make any money.”
“It means I don’t make any money through the website,” laughed Greg.
When Bob Slayer arrived in the room, he had a scar on his arm.
“How did you get that?” I asked.
“I fell down my own trapdoor,” Bob replied.
Bob’s Bookshop has a trapdoor in the floor, as if it were all part of a pantomime.
I told Bob: “This man designs chocolate.”
“What sort of chocolate do you design?” Bob asked Greg.
“Chocolate for hot countries, so it doesn’t melt,” Greg told him.
“So,” suggested Bob, “you looked at the Malteser and said They want it to melt in the mouth not in the hand in Africa.”
“Yeah,” said Greg Dickens. “Testing finishes in a few months time.”
Bob (of course) did not have any script for his show, but managed to stumble onto a rounded show starting with how, as a rock music manager, he had turned down the Arctic Monkeys.
This then developed into extensive, increasingly OTT and surreal tales of touring with the Bloodhound Gang, who are currently stranded in a Russian hotel for pissing on a Russian flag in the Ukraine. When they arrived on Russian soil, they were reportedly pelted with eggs at the airport, thrown by Cossacks.
After Bob’s show, I rushed to The Hive venue to see Matt Price Is Not In The Program: Turkeygate, Tinky Winky & The Mafia.
Matt Price only had ten days to prepare his show – because the performance slot only became available after Chris Dangerfield cancelled his show at the last moment due to alleged threats (see my blog of a week ago).
Matt was worried that he had not had enough time to prepare the show. But, because it is all true – about his encounters with the Turkish Mafia on a very recent, abandoned series of gigs of Turkey – I told him there was no problem forgetting the stories and he did not need a script.
He still had to decide, though, whether to name some of the men in the story on stage. He did. (The main name had already been reported in a Chortle news story on Matt’s problems.)
I thought I already knew what had happened, but he has rounded it into a slick (in the best meaning of the word), entertaining and funny show. He was worried it was too serious a subject for comedy. But he is not telling a funny story; he is telling a story funny.
Unexpectedly (for me) it all started with him being persuaded to ghost write the autobiography of a well-known London gangster (whom he did not name, though I have been in the chap’s sex dungeon) and it ended with Matt saying he was going to write a book about the psychology of gangsters.
As I left the gig and walked up to the Royal Mile to get a taxi, someone said to his friend as he passed me: “The trouble is there are too many old people alive right now.”
I was not sure if I should take this personally.
I needed the taxi to get to Hearts FC’s Tynecastle Stadium, where their manager Gary Locke was facing a comedy This Is Your Trial show with comedians Norman Lovett as judge, Janey Godley as prosecutor and Bob Slayer as defence. The charge seemed mostly to be about Gary Locke’s hairstyle.
Despite having Bob Slayer as his defence counsel, Gary was found Not Guilty. Even more bizarre, I thought, was the fact that Janey – a woman not without experience in matters of crime, the court system and let’s not even mention gangsters – was cast as the Prosecution. But I guess she has taken the saying Know Your Enemy to heart. As a prosecutor, she was both aggressive and highly, highly funny (mostly ad-libbed).
Which brings us back to the Indian meal and its after-effects.
When I was up with heartburn and would-be vomiting early this morning, I looked up the website www.gregdickens.org.uk
It does not exist.
Then I remembered that Greg Dickens, the man in Bob Slayer’s show, had said he had just come from an improvisation show.
I should have realised what he meant when he said he was “an inventor”.
You must never believe anything anyone says during the Edinburgh Fringe. It is all smoke and mirrors. It is all perception.