Tag Archives: Nicole Harvey

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(Graham Goddard)’s Comedy In Progress show simply for the reference to the great Dudley Sutton who has one of the great unpublished autobiographies, as evidenced by his 2003 and 2006 Fringe shows Killing Kittens and Pandora’s Lunchbox.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.


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.”


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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Delicious and dateless Nicole Harvey on taking a sex doll and whip to Brighton

Smiling Nicole Harvey with Gorgeous Gavin as yet un-inflated

Smiling Nicole Harvey + the Gorgeous Gavin

I met actress/writer/voice-over performer Nicole Harvey in the Soho Theatre Bar yesterday afternoon. She had a broad smile on her face and had just been to a sex shop in Goodge Street to buy an inflatable man.

“He’s called Gorgeous Gavin,” she told me.

Nicole’s show Delicious & Dateless is at the Brighton Fringe this weekend and next weekend.

“You did the same show at the Edinburgh Fringe last August,” I said. “At what point since then did you think: The one thing missing from this show is an inflatable doll with an inflatable penis?”

“I‘ve completely re-written the show,” Nicole told me. “In Edinburgh, the show was very much in development. It now has a very different beginning.”

“Gorgeous Gavin appears at the beginning of the show?” I asked. “How are you going to climax at the end?”

Nicole’s show, revised for Brighton Fringe

Nicole’s show, revised for Brighton Fringe

“Well, there are boots and whips that appear later,” she said.

“And you bought Gorgeous Gavin at a shop in Goodge Street?” I asked.

“There was also a Justin Bieber doll called Just-In Beaver,” said Nicole.

“Why did you go to that shop in particular?” I asked.

“Because I had to take back the female doll I had bought – Lollipop Lolita.“

“Why did you have to take back Lollipop Lolita?”

“Because I don’t want to fuck her mouth and that’s what she is designed for.”

“Didn’t this strike you at the point you originally bought her?”

“I had just wanted her legs for my show. But her boobs were so huge she wasn’t going to work as a comedy prop – there was no way I could scrunge the boobs down. So I decided to buy Gorgeous Gavin instead.”

“Do you have a discount at this shop for bulk buying?” I asked.

The show as it was at the Edinburgh Fringe last year

Since Edinburgh last year, Nicole has had “a real eye-opener”

Nicole ignored the question and said: “Since doing my show in Edinburgh last year, I have had a complete eye-opener and, in one part of my new show, I am commenting on this cultural shift that we’re in.”

“Cultural shift?” I asked.

“The reason I don’t have a love life,” explained Nicole, “is because I refuse to get on Tinder. That is what everyone is doing. But it’s purely pictures. It is about as superficial as it can get.

“Everyone is glued to their phone. I’ve seen pictures of guys’ hard-ons on Twitter that even 12-year-olds can see – and messages saying: Hi, I need someone to suck me off at lunchtime; I don’t mind if it’s male or female. Message me. It seems that, in this reality today, no-one will actually talk to you. Certainly no-one chats you up.”

“Which reality?” I asked.

“Actual reality,” said Nicole, “as opposed to virtual reality.”

“No-one chats you up?” I asked.

“No. Not in the real world. But they’re quite happy to be totally up-front asking for sex online with someone they’ve never met. so the world’s gone mad.”

“Well,” I said, “the whole Sex Positive thing does seem to be just an excuse for random sex with strangers.”

An irrelevant film poster for Fifty Shades of Grey

Was the film a sexual game-changer?

“With Fifty Shades of Grey,” said Nicole, “not only am I not up-to-date with fashion because I won’t go on Tinder, but I now need to be up for a spanking with a stranger – or get good at whipping – just to keep up with the trend.”

“What sort of man are you after?” I asked.

“Someone kind. Someone funny. Someone who’s emotionally mature, with not too much baggage, who’s got his shit together.”

“Well, that rules out most comedians off-stage,” I said. “Did you get any reaction from your show in Edinburgh? Your posters were really saying; I want a date!

“My audience was mainly women wanting to tell me their Tinder horror stories.”

“Tell me more about the man in the sex shop.”

“I said to him: Whatever’s kinky is not taboo. But what is taboo is loneliness.”

“Explain?” I said.

We are not really shocked by kinkiness any more. We’ve seen god knows how many politicians with sex scandals and 50 Shades of Grey became a mainstream movie. Anything that was kinky doesn’t really seem to be taboo any more. but to need a doll because you’re lonely… Yes, there is online dating and Tinder and it’s oh-so-easy to meet up, but what we don’t have easily any more is intimacy.”

Nicole Harvey - looking for emotional intimacy

Nicole Harvey – waiting for her right cup of tea

“What type of intimacy?” I asked.


“You should get together with the man in the shop,” I suggested.

“I think he makes sex videos and wears a pig’s face.”

“Generally?” I asked.

“He used to be a singer and has a book coming out.”

“I feel a blog coming on. You’ll have to take me into the shop – Pimp a blogger. How do you know he wears a pig face?”

“There’s a back room.”

“Why were you in the back room?”

“Because I need a whip for the show as well.”

“Gorgeous Gavin, the inflatable man, was not enough for you?”


“Did you buy a whip?”

“No. They were all a bit wonky.”

Nicole Harvey grew up with her horse

Crop expert Nicole Harvey aesthetically dislikes wonky whips

“Define a wonky whip,” I asked her. “It sounds to me like an ice cream.”

“It was the way the leather was platted. It wasn’t nice and straight.”

“So for you,” I said, “it’s not to do with sex or pain but the aesthetics?”

“Oh yeah. I’m probably just going to get a horsey one, a riding crop. I ride horses.”

“I was thinking more of Zorro,” I said.

“That’s more of a lion tamer’s whip.”

“You’re smirking again.”

“I am allowed to.”

“What else does the shop have?”

“There are dolls you can get that cost thousands and thousands of pounds because they’re made of silicon and have real hair. There was a TV documentary about it and a play I saw called Companion Piece.”

“So, you’ve researched it in depth?”

“I’ve just come across things.”

After a long, thoughtful pause, I asked: “I wonder how large the demand for sex dolls is.”

“I guess,” replied Nicole, “some men don’t want a woman to answer back. But, on the other hand, plastic dolls can’t cook.”

“Swings and roundabouts,” I said.

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An actress: delicious, dateless, banned

Nicole Harvey - Delicious & Dateless

Nicole Harvey – Delicious & Dateless in Edinburgh last year“

“Is it your real name?” I asked actress Nicole Harvey last week.


“It’s not just Harvey Nichols back-to-front?”


I saw Nicole in the Freestival at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, performing her show Delicious and Dateless about her love life.

“Any luck in love in Edinburgh?” I asked.

“I did wonder if people would interpret it as an advert,” she replied, “but they didn’t. Audience-wise, there were lots of middle-aged, Middle England, 40+ couples who just ‘do’ the Edinburgh Fringe. And I had younger girls in their 20s going Mmm, she’s right. It IS like this.

“I just did two weeks at the Fringe because my birthday was in the middle of the month and I went on holiday with my mum – I’d not performed at Edinburgh before and I thought I might be playing to three people looking bored so I had thought I might be quite glad to escape. But, as it turned out, I had full houses and ended up having to move to a bigger room… I didn’t get any reviews, though, because my run was short.”

“Are you going back to Edinburgh again this year?” I asked.

Nicole Harvey

Nicole Harvey – in Soho last week

“No. But I’m doing Delicious and Dateless at the Brighton Fringe in May – I managed to get evening slots in the first two weekends and Brighton is nearer to home and warmer than Edinburgh. I remember having to buy vests and socks in Edinburgh because it was hailing.”

“You sound very posh,” I said.

“I went to Harrogate Grammar School,” Nicole told me. “I remember auditioning for Bugsy Malone and getting the part of Tallulah but then they didn’t even bother to stage it, because creativity was not deemed ‘important’. It was literally: If you’re thick, go and be a hairdresser; if you’re smart, work in a bank or be a diplomat.”

“So you…?” I asked.

“I was on the debating team. I believed in justice. I was naive. I wanted to work for the UN and save the world. So I went and studied law at Bristol University.”

“Being in court is a form of acting,” I suggested.

“Well, I thought being a barrister would have been interesting, but everything I found interesting in law had a human element in it. When you’re in it as a career, though, everything has to be black or white; there’s no grey. I nearly did an MA in medical ethics because it’s all grey, it’s all fascinating.”

“I am,” I said, “not a great admirer of the English legal system.”

“It was a three-year course,” said Nicole. “At the end of the first year, I knew I wanted to change my degree, but my dad said No.”

“Why did you want to change it?” I asked.

“Because I realised I had been very naive, believing in justice and idealism… and the legal system is nothing to do with that. I was a country girl. I grew up just outside Harrogate; we always lived in villages.”

“Still sounds very posh,” I said.

“But there wasn’t even a village shop. I grew up with my horse.”

Nicole Harvey grew up with her horse

Nicole Harvey grew up near Harrogate… with her horse

“What did your father do?”

“Just lots of very traditional things. Personnel Director and Distribution Director and things.”

“Did your mother work?”

“She was around and then, when my younger brother grew up, she worked in a doctor’s surgery because she wanted something to keep her busy. In fact, she is really talented at water colours, but it’s quite a solitary pursuit so she doesn’t do it. She has not really found her purpose since we all fled the nest.”

“You sound,” I said, “like you really did want to flee the nest.”

“I lived in Paris when I was younger and worked in distribution – buying and selling TV rights. And I worked in TV production here.”

“For Avalon and the trendy Planet 24 production company,” I said.

“Yes. Planet 24 had a legal show they wanted to do, so I was a researcher on that.”

“How had you got that?” I asked.

Nicole Harvey publicity pic

Nicole Harvey – TV producer or dolly bird?

“It was the summer of finishing my degree and I’d devised this big fashion show for the NSPCC. Then I’d gone and done some presenting at HTV in Bristol.

“I really enjoy making documentaries and I’ve done some TV anchor stuff, but I don’t see where I fit into telly. You either need a specialist subject – which I don’t; I’ve done lots of different things – or be a hostess dolly and I realised as a producer, seeing the bigger picture, getting the deals – all of that – I’m good at. But crunching numbers in Excel I’m not that good at.”

“You sound like your mother,” I said. “As if you haven’t found your exact thing yet.”

“Well, we’re talking about my past,” explained Nicole. “What I feel now is a good ‘fit’ is being able to write my own stuff and perform it and get it made. It’s firing on all cylinders now because I’m a ‘doer’. I have the performance side, but I’ve also got this practical, resourceful nature. It’s satisfying to get stuff done and make things happen.

“I’m on my second wind as an actress. As a younger actress, it’s all Get yer kit off,  cry, don’t say very much, be the pretty girlfriend. Which is not very fulfilling. Whereas, when you are slightly older, you get a chance to play The Lawyer or whatever.

“I think the first time round, I just didn’t try hard enough with acting. I trusted the wrong people and made a lot of shit decisions. I wasn’t very grounded and didn’t have a lot of self-belief. Whereas now I think I’m in a better place and that comes with age. I’m comfortable in my skin.”

“To me,” I said, “you seem perfect for TV.”

Footballers Wives - a lucky escape

Footballers Wives – a lucky escape

“I’ve only had a few TV auditions in my life. I was pencilled to play the lead in a spin-off of Footballers’ Wives called Extra Time. They’d asked me how I felt about on-screen nudity and I’d said: Well, if it’s story-appropriate, it’s something you deal with. If it’s gratuitous, then I’m not so down with it. Then, of course, the whole angle was gratuitous. I watched an episode and the character I would have played was spread-eagled, getting banged by a 60-year-old dad.

“So I tried to move to the States. In Britain at the time, they were all: Well, you look like a leading lady, but you haven’t got the CV because you didn’t do the drama school thing and you’re too young for character stuff. We don’t know what to do with you.

“So I thought: Well, in the States, being attractive is not held against you. I thought: Fuck it, I’ll go there and feel like I’m on holiday every day. But I got deported for waitressing illegally for two weeks in Los Angeles.”

“Surely,” I said, “half the acting profession is illegally waitressing in Los Angeles?”

“You would think so,” agreed Nicole. “In my show, I say it’s a case of: How dare they! These foreigners coming over and taking the Mexicans’ jobs!… Basically that broke my heart more than all the boys I’ve ever met.”

Nicole Harvey - banned from US for 5 years - but not for this

Nicole Harvey – banned from US for 5 years – but not for this

“Can you go back to the US?”

“I was banned for 5 years – that was 12 years ago. Back then I enjoyed acting because I escaped reality – Why would I want to be in some kitchen sink drama? – but I don’t think I look desperately right for period drama, except maybe Poirot.”

“Why not period drama?” I asked.

“They usually pick brunettes and they usually pick… I dunno. I think I look more modern than English rose… After L.A., I ran off to Buenos Aires for a bit.”

“Why Buenos Aires?”

“They like horses; they speak Spanish; I had an agent for commercials and the rand had got strong in South Africa so they were using Buenos Aires cos it looks like a European city.”

“Was there a Spaniard involved in this?”

“Yes, it’s in my show. I thought I’d get kidnapped by some handsome hunk but I met an evil dwarf instead.”

“So now, comedy,” I said.

“When you’re acting,” explained Nicole, “all the things you work on are all about screaming at each other and crying, so comedy is a bit of a revelation for me. I started with this monologue – and then I thought: Mmmm. Each of those points could almost be content for a webisode.”

“Why webisodes?”

“It’s nice to be creative and to be seen.”

Nicole’s first webisode is currently on YouTube.

“So,” I said, “there’s your one-hour show and upcoming webisodes… but not stand-up comedy as such.”

“I did pop my 10-minute spot cherry in Edinburgh,” said Nicole, “but, because I wasn’t talking about my periods, I didn’t really fit in.”

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