Tag Archives: networking

Edinburgh Fringe: Networking with the media + a comic is threatened with rape

At The Grouchy Club yesterday: a bad selfie of Coptick and me

Seen and heard at the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club

Yesterday afternoon at the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club, I said:

“Performers at the Edinburgh Fringe get worried about the number of bums on seats and I don’t think performers should come to the Fringe thinking about audiences; they should come thinking about the media. If you get a full house, the word-of-mouth from that is not going to let you fill the O2 Arena. But, if you get a review in the Guardian or spotted by a TV producer that might get you part of the way. It’s all about self-promotion, not bums-on-seats.”

Comedian Matt Price had a question about ‘networking’ at the Fringe.

“How,” he asked, “do you do it without looking like a dick?”

“Oh, you can’t do it without looking like a dick,” said doyenne of comedy critics Kate Copstick. “one of the things you need to know about most of the people who are doing most of the networking – I would say 85% of the media people who are up here can do nothing for you. They are Muppets and low-grade grist to the media mill.

“They could go back and say: Oh! I saw this amAZing guy. He should have a TV series! and, even if they say that, it can only go so high and someone will say Who’s he with? or Is he a black lesbian? – They have quota as for everything and they are in thrall to a lot of the big managements.

“Everybody is terrified to fail in television, because you don’t get that many chances. There are a very small number of people who make the decisions and there’s a awful lot of people who are pretending they make the decisions. They generally – I say maybe 85% – have no imagination or creativity whatsoever. And, unless you are like something that is already out there…”

Matt Price & Martha McBrier

Matt Price with his ‘missus’ Martha McBrier

“But,” said Matt, “we’re not inspired, as comedians and performers, by following convention. There must be a way of doing it by being progressively better. I am basically just a fat bloke from Cornwall whose missus is probably more talented than he is.”

“The important thing,” said Copstick, “is that you are a fat bloke from Cornwall who did a brilliant show last year and so, in people’s minds, you’re a terrific comic and I’m interested to see what you’re doing this year.

“If you really wanted to whore yourself around to the media circus, you could style yourself as ‘The new Johnny Vegas’. You’re big, you could be all over the place, you could drink too much…

“The networking that is important at the Fringe is networking with other comics, with people who book live gigs and with other creative people. The leap between performing live in a tiny room on the Fringe and your own series on the telly is exactly the same size as it ever has been. But there are now thousands of pointless people with media badges swanning around getting freebies and pretending they’re important.”

Matt Price, though, had another reason for coming to The Grouchy Club yesterday.

“I didn’t really want to come here and speak to you,” he said, “but I thought Oh, it’s raining and it’s been on my mind and I figured Well, if I can talk about this to anyone, it’s the fearsome Kate Copstick.

“Something happened yesterday: an incident that really shook me. I wrote a blog about it but then I thought I’m not going to put it online because, if I do, people might say Oh, Matt Price is just playing the PR game.

Cowgate_Edinburgh

Cowgate, near where it happened, last night

“I was walking along Cowgate yesterday. It was about 11.30 at night near (a particular nightclub). There were two bouncers in the doorway and this big guy and I know when people are coked-up. When you’re a comedian, you know about that. And this guy said something to me and I said: Sorry mate?

“He said: I want your phone number. Kiss me.

“He looked quite aggressive and then he said: Shake my hand.

I thought: OK, he’s made some kind of sexual advance, but I can still shake his hand because I have no problem with my sexuality and I’ll just walk on my way. But he grabbed my hand and nearly ripped my arm off and then said: I’ll fuckin’ rape you, you cunt! I bet you’d like my cock up your arse, you bastard!

“I said: No, mate, I really wouldn’t. But thankyou. And I walked away.

“The bouncers obviously heard all this. The guy was in the doorway. I thought: Are you a thug? Are you a criminal?

“I phoned my missus and she was upset and I went back to my Edinburgh flat and Claire (Smith, the Scotsman journalist who rents him a room during the Fringe) gave me a whisky and I went to bed.

“I didn’t have any adrenaline in me until today and what really got me was not the incident but when Claire said: Welcome to the sisterhood. This is what women have had to put up with over the years.

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Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh, Rape, Sex

Christianity and close-up magic tricks at Parliament… followed by naked radio

Radio magic - Lewis Schaffer (left) & Martin Soan (naked)

I had an interesting, if slightly varied, day yesterday.

It started with lunch at the Houses of Parliament and ended with a naked radio chat show near London Bridge.

I had lunch at the Palace of Westminster with Fred Finn (Guinness Record holder as the world’s most-travelled person and blogger for Ukraine International Airlines), Grenville Burn (personal assistant to former Labour Chief Whip Lord Foster of Bishop Auckland) and a barrister who had better remain nameless lest it sound like advertising.

Grenville Burn is a former colonel in the Salvation Army, comes from a family of Salvation Army officers and the only person I have ever met whose opening gambit to me over lunch was “Are you a Christian?” and, when I said, “No,” responded, “Why?”

He is also an intriguingly enterprising man who is involved in the Executives Association of Great Britain and the Mikado Experience which, he tells me, was involved in creating over £70 million of new business last year. He ‘teaches’ Networking – at universities, to directors, for companies. He has some fascinating psychological and schmoozing insights in how to get on in business, something he told me he partially learned by being a Christian preacher… and he is involved in an organisation called BestForBusiness which, he tells me, is already bigger than the Institute of Directors. He is a sophisticated and persuasive man who – perhaps fortunately for me – has not yet started selling double-glazing.

More interesting to me than all that, though, was that he frustratingly told me a couple of extraordinary and totally unpublishable true stories plucked, as they say, from tabloid headlines… and he is a skilled close-up magician – rope tricks, dice, you name it – as well as being impressively fast on the creation of magic squares from any numbers. In years past, he might have been burnt at the stake as the possessor of unearthly powers.

There is no easy way to link from Christianity and magic tricks performed in the environs of the Houses of Parliament to exposed male genitalia in a radio studio near London Bridge, so I will not even attempt it.

I wrote a blog last week titled How I talked myself out of comedian Lewis Schaffer’s naked radio show.

It seems I was over-optimistic.

Last night, after a meal with comedian Martin Soan, I ended up at Resonance FM for their lengthily-titled weekly radio show The Voice of Americans with Lewis Schaffer of Nunhead – a man who could and should never be confused with Lord Foster of Bishop Auckland.

When we arrived at the studio, Lewis Schaffer told Martin: “You can’t take your clothes off. They won’t allow it. Sorry. Apparently OfCom rules say you can’t do naked radio.”

“Well, I’m going to take off my clothes anyway,” replied Martin, “because that’s what I’m doing here.”

“That’s the only reason I’ve come!” piped up my eternally-un-named female friend.

“Do I look good?” asked Lewis Schaffer, stroking his black suit.

“Fuck it,” said Martin. “Being naked is really what it’s all about, isn’t it?. I’m taking my clothes off.”

“Well I’ll take my clothes off too,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“Keep your socks on,” advised Martin, taking his clothes off. “You are never naked with your socks on, man. You are never naked with your socks on.”

Martin had had a few drinks with us before arriving at the studio.

“I don’t want to take my clothes off in front of the young women,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I’ll take my shirt off.”

“I’ve got no microphone,” said Martin.

“I’m so fat. I’m so fat,” said Lewis Schaffer, taking his shirt off. “Am I too fat? I’m too fat. Who can love a man with a… Let’s see your penis…”

“You can see my penis any time you want,” said Martin.

“It’s a lovely-sized penis,” said Lewis Schaffer with warmth in his voice.

“I think I can retain some kind of calm and I will not freak out for this announcement,” said the Resonance FM girl who had to introduce the show on air. “I will not freak out for this announcement.”

“Have I got a microphone?” asked Martin.

“Would I look good naked?” asked Lewis Schaffer. “Am I too fat? Yes I am. Do you understand what I am saying? I am too fat.”

“It’s pointless being naked if I haven’t got a microphone,” said Martin.

“No-one will like me naked,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I dress up nicely. I wear a dark suit. That’s what I wear. A dark suit. Do I look good for my age?” He started to put his shirt back on. He looked at Martin. “He’s got a lovely-sized penis. Me? I’ve gained a bit of waistline; it’s not a sexy look.”

“You’ve got one minute,” said the Resonance FM girl.

“This is just a normal Monday night for me,” said Martin. “Being naked.”

“Take a picture of his penis,” Lewis Schaffer told me.

“You’re listening,” said the Resonance FM girl, “to Resonance 104.4 FM. That was Luscombe’s Choice. Coming up next, Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer of Nunhead.”

Then the opening music – God Bless America – swelled up, the show started, I coughed a bit and Martin stayed naked and got passionate about funding cuts for the elderly in Nunead. It will probably turn up as a podcast at some point. What can I say?

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