Tag Archives: Laura Lexx

Yesterday was like all last days before the start of the Edinburgh Fringe

It is the same every year but different.

Horrible.

Dies horribilis.

I got to bed at 2.15am this morning and set off for Edinburgh by car at 6.15pm.

Yesterday started at 8.00am with the postman ringing on my door bell.

I went downstairs. I did not have my keys in my pocket.

“Hold on a minute! I don’t have my keys! I’ll be back in a mo!”

Upstairs. I could not find my keys.

Spare bedroom. Look for the spare set of keys. Could not find the spare set of keys.

Downstairs. The postman had gone. I could not see anything left outside the door.

“I won’t be here tomorrow to collect it from the sorting office,” I thought.

I went back upstairs. I could not find my keys.

“It is a bad enough problem when you are locked out of your house,” I thought, “but it is actually worse if you are locked inside it and can’t get out.”

It was going to be embarrassing to phone the two neighbours who have spare sets of keys to my place. And I think they may be away on holiday. Which would mean phoning my friend in Greenwich and asking her to get two trains across London to let me out of my own house.

Then the phone rang.

It was a call from New York. It was not glamorous.

It was now 8.30am.

“Buggeration!” I suddenly thought. “It is 3.30am in New York. What on earth is he doing?”

I found my spare keys in the spare bedroom.

The postman had left a package outside my door. It was not for me.

I had to go to Kwik-Fit for 9.00am to have my tyres and treads checked. One of my headlight bulbs had also stopped working the previous night.

“Great!” I thought. “The Kwik-Fit man can fit it quicker than me.”

I am not one of Life’s naturally practical men.

The Kwik-Fit man had trouble getting access to the headlight bulb; another Kwik-Fit man tried. He had trouble. I looked at the area under the bonnet behind the headlamps. It looked hermetically sealed in plastic.

The two Kwik-Fit men said to me:

“Can’t do it. It’s got a plug socket thing attached. You can only get it from a Toyota main dealer.”

They are very nice people at Kwik-Fit. I like them. They did not charge me.

I drove to my local Toyota dealer.

The young couple in front of me had been waiting 20 minutes for two light bulbs. That is the short version of their service trauma. Toyota are usually very good. They were having an off-day.

Halfords told us we could only get Toyota light bulbs for our car from Toyota,” the young couple said.

“Kawk-Fit told me that about my car,” I said.

They were not impressed.

Eventually, I got my light bulb fitted.

Then a travel company phoned about a trip I am making next year. There was a long but necessary 15-minute conversation. It was almost all settled. Except Aeroflot have not yet confirmed their flight schedule for next April. I was told I could travel by Emirates, but I prefer Aeroflot for the eccentricity factor because, when I last travelled with them under Communism, scowling stewardesses used to serve you caviar to demonstrate what life was like in a true Socialist paradise like the Soviet Union. Things may have changed now they have discovered capitalist corruption and McDonalds.

Back home, I found my doorkeys under a Boden clothing catalogue.

I started to wonder if Johnnie Boden’s wares had reached Novosibirsk yet. They do very good winter coats. You need good clothing in Novosibirsk.

I think Edinburgh Fringe fever may have started early this year. It is a swirling of uncertainties in the head, coupled with a slight shivering. There is no known antidote except September.

Around 1.00am this morning, I collected elfin comedian Laura Lexx (she was once employed as an elf in Lapland) from the Elephant in South London (American readers will just have to pass over this reference, mystified) for the trip up to Edinburgh later in the morning. Laura had no Boden clothing, as far as I could tell, and had given me the impression she had packed as if for a year-long expedition to the Sahara and the Antarctic by the massed ranks of the Dagenham Girl Pipers and would have the entire contents of the Colindale Newspaper Library for her Fringe play Ink.

Unfortunately, she had packed quite modestly.

I told her: “I had been going to say I have a Toyota, not a TARDIS.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because,” I explained, “I pre-wrote tomorrow’s blog and I was going to say you had too much luggage.”

“Well just make it up,” she told me. “I don’t mind.”

When we got back to my home, there was a drip-drip-drip sound in the kitchen.

“What’s that?” Laura asked.

I thought for a bit. “That’ll be the new washing machine,” I explained.

And it was.

A handyman (much cheaper than a plumber) had sorted a leak on the water tap when connected to the new washing machine; he had made his own rubber washer to stop the water leaking.

It clearly had not worked.

We mopped the floor under the washing machine, having dragged it out of its recess and into the middle of the kitchen floor.

I got to bed at 2.15am. I will post this blog around 6.15am.

Ars longa, vita brevis.

Or maybe Limbus longa, vita brevis.

Look it up on Google Translate.

But most definitely the traditional pre-Fringe dies horribilis.

Spaghetti-juggling at the Fringe will be like a walk in the park.

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Sucking up or sucking off? UK Prime Ministers, Rupert Murdoch and a puff

Look, I only plug people and things I believe in on this blog so, with that in mind, read on…

British Prime Ministers have been sucking Rupert Murdoch’s corporate cock since the 1960s. It’s nothing new. Nor is amorality.

Lance Price was a special advisor to Tony Blair. In 1998, he became deputy to Blair’s Communications Director, Alastair Campbell; and he was the Labour Party’s Director of Communications from 2000 until the General Election of 2001. Price says Blair was under Murdoch’s thumb from the beginning:

“I started working for Tony Blair a year after he became Prime Minister. I was shocked to be told by one of those who’d been closely involved with the talks in Australia, and subsequently, that: ‘We’ve promised News International we won’t make any changes to our Europe policy without talking to them’.”

But – hey! ho! – political pragmatism, like journalistic amorality, is good news for some…

My elfin comedian chum Laura Lexx is staging her first straight play Ink at the Edinburgh Fringe in three weeks time.

The play is actually about the London 7/7 terrorist bombings and the media intrusion into victims’ lives but, of course, the subject of where the journalistic tipping point lies between investigative illumination and amoral intrusion is timeless.

Laura’s press release (written months ago) says: When reporting the news is business, is there space for truth and a conscience?… Will we accept hack journalism as a necessary evil for swift information?

It could have been written last week about the phone hacking scandal and the closure of the News of the World. It is a subject, as the red-tops might themselves say, RIPPED FROM TODAY’S HEADLINES – but of eternal relevance.

The play’s billing reads: “Ordinary man blown up by terrorists – he made jam and had a son. Nothing special. The media made that clear as they conjured headlines from victims and sprinkled them between crosswords.”

My elfin chum Laura Lexx was both a Chortle and Paramount Student comedy finalist in her first six months of live stand-up performance; then she went on to reach the semi-finals of both the Laughing Horse and Funny Women competitions.

I saw Ink when it was a student production at the University of Kent.

It was impressive then.

With the number of actors in the cast cut back for financial reasons and the writing sharpened up even more, it will be interesting to see how it fares at the Edinburgh Fringe, given its accidentally up-to-the-minute relevance.

Now.. if only I could see some RIPPED FROM TODAY’S HEADLINES angle for my own two spaghetti-juggling events at the Fringe…

My head is spinning.

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Elfin comedian Laura Lexx gets bigger ideas after meeting the real Santa Claus

At the University of Kent, you can study Stand-Up Comedy. My natural tendency would be to think this is a right load of old wank if it were not for the fact they seem to have produced some rather good rising comedy performers.

There is (in alphabetical order) Tiernan Douieb, Jimmy McGhie, The Noise Next Door and Pappy’s.

And then, out of alphabetical order, there is elfin Laura Lexx. I call her ‘elfin’ because she actually did for a period literally work as an elf in Lapland as part of the Father Christmas industry. I have seen the photos. She is low on height but high on energy. Which is just as well – not just for elfing around in Lapland.

All the way through July, Laura is promoting a month of London previews for other people’s Edinburgh Fringe shows at the Glassblower in Soho, with a line-up which includes Bridget Christie, Phil Nichol and Paul Sinha.

Then she takes off her promoter hat and she’s off to Edinburgh for the Fringe where she’s in both the Comedy and the Theatre sections – performing, producing, writing and directing.

She’s performing daily as part of the improvised comedy game show Quiz in My Pants at the Opium venue

She’s performing and directing the cast in her own straight play Ink (about the 7/7 London terrorist bombings and the media) at the Kiwi Bar.

And she has also done the very neat trick of spotting a new way to finance Edinburgh Fringe shows via wedidthis.org where people who want to support the Arts in a positive way can donate money to the month’s chosen projects. If you reach your target within the month, you get the money donated. If you don’t reach your target, the promised donations made so far are not collected.

At the time of writing this blog, she has another fortnight to raise £175 to cover some of her Edinburgh costs. The donations page is here.

I wonder if anyone would fork out money to cover my modest and artistically-vital publicity costs for Malcolm Hardee Week at the Fringe.

Or maybe I should get work after the Fringe as a Father Christmas clone in Lapland. I would need a wig, I could grow the beard, but I would need no padding.

Oh, to be an elf…

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Of the Blue Lady, academic comedy and Shaggers

(This blog originally appeared in What’s On Stage)

I’m organising the Malcolm Hardee Awards until 2017 although “organising” was an anathema to Malcolm. With luck, the ashes in his urn will forgive me.

We have now announced this year’s shortlist, but there were other acts I personally saw and wished I could have included but we couldn’t.

Prime among these was Tricity Vogue’s The Blue Lady Sings at The Three Sisters, which mixes kitsch theatricality, Freddie Mercury, torch songs, audience involvement, Blues medleys and a bright pink ukelele and which has more laughs than several alleged comedy shows I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe. It’s highly original and almost indescribable because it falls into no existing genre. But it’s not comedy as such; more a music show.

All The King’s Men at Espionage (not to be confused with the totally different All The King’s Men at Surgeons Hall) brings together four highly promising young Scots comics including Richard Gadd who has aspirations to high levels of weirdness which, if developed, could easily bag him a Malcolm Hardee Award in the next couple of years.

And joker in the pack is my comedy chum the elfin and highly talented Laura Lexx in Quiz in My Pants at Dragonfly. All three of this show’s team studied Stand-Up Comedy (yes they did) at the University of Kent at Canterbury… as did other Fringe participants Tiernan Douieb, Jimmy McGhie, The Noise Next Door and Pappy’s.

Malcolm Hardee’s ashes must be turning in that South East London urn of his at the thought of anyone studying Stand-Up Comedy but, on present evidence, this Kent course looks like it may turn into a comedy equivalent of Malcolm Bradbury’s legendary Creative Writing course at UEA.

Who has won this year’s three Malcolm Hardee Awards? We won’t know until around midnight on Friday during Nik Coppin’s nightly Shaggers show.

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Of credit fraud, Rocket Science and an elf

(This blog originally appeared in What’s On Stage)

It’s as inevitable as rain at Wimbledon or mud at Glastonbury – things going wrong immediately before the Fringe, just to add to the last-minute pressure and increase my chocolate-eating.

On 16th August, my home phone is moving from BT to O2 and my broadband is moving from Pipex to O2. All arranged – letters from O2, BT and Pipex confirming everything… then, today, a letter and text from O2 saying they’ve cancelled it all. Eventually (after 50 minutes with O2, BT and the mysterious Equifax company), it turns out I’ve suddenly developed a bad credit rating (despite being Mr Squeaky Clean) and O2 have turned me down as untouchable despite the fact I already have my mobile phone with them.

The very dodgy-feeling Equifax credit agency won’t tell me why they’ve given me a bad credit rating without me telling them endless security details about myself over two days – details which they don’t appear to have.

I have a funny feeling this may go back to a bizarre letter I got about a year ago from Littlewoods saying they were going to stop my account because of credit problems. This surprised me as I had never had any account with Littlewoods and it seemed to involve someone ordering goods via my address in North West London for delivery very close to the home of a dodgy South London semi-gangster who appeared in Killer Bitch, the soon-to-be-a-cult-classic movie which I financed.

Dealing with the Chaps has its downsides as well as its upside.

The upside is ease of problem-solving. I once told one of the Chaps about a person who was giving me hassle and he said: “Back of a pillion. Pop-pop-pop. End of your problems.” I declined, though with profuse thanks for the offer.

The downside is you may get your identity stolen and/or end up in a packing crate on a dockside in Albania.

Time will tell with the very unhelpful Equifax – well, the next two days – including tonight when I’m videoing Helen Keen’s late night Camden preview of her Fringe show It Is Rocket Science! V2 and tomorrow when I’m leaving London at 0600 to drive up to Edinburgh with elfin comedian Laura Lexx (she once worked as an elf in Finland) and Helen Keen’s set and props.

Helen Keen’s preview of It Is Rocket Science! V2 last night got a very fast and very good review at lunchtime today, around twelve hours after it finished. An admirable example of the power of modern technology, which is also evident in the release today of a Janey Godley Nokia app for mobile phones.

This clever little app keeps the user updated on the move with what’s going on in the sometimes very very very odd world of “the Godmother of Scottish Comedy”… “Scotland’s funniest woman”… “the most outspoken female stand-up in Britain”.  You can check her 500,000-hits-per-week blog (I have seen the figures and think that’s usually an underestimate), watch videos she’s uploaded to YouTube and download the regular podcasts she’s currently making with her daughter Ashley Storrie.

All this techno stuff is enough to make the late ‘godfather of alternative comedy’ Malcolm Hardee turn in his urn. He found even simple e-mails a bit daunting although (unlike me – but who knows what the future holds) he was arrested and imprisoned for credit card fraud. He found it surprising in his latter years that he was bombarded by letters from American Express and other credit card companies offering him gold cards immediately, no questions asked.

Malcolm is in my mind because, last weekend, the Independent on Sunday listed its Top Ten Tips for comedy shows at the Fringe this year. Number One was Aaaaaaaargh! Malcolm Hardee Documentary Preview. It’s possibly the first ever time a film, as opposed to a live performance, has been recommended by a national newspaper as the best comedy event to see at the Fringe.

It’s definitely an event rather than a film, as it involves the screening of a 32-minute documentary The Tunnel (about the notorious comedy club which Malcolm ran), plus the trailer for a longer documentary currently in production: Malcolm Hardee: All The Way From Over There plus a trailer for that longer film. There is a trailer for The Tunnel short itself on YouTube here.

Ah! 21st Century Comedy!

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