Tag Archives: Paul Eccentric

One man’s day at the Edinburgh Fringe: name-dropping, walking and hugging

Jo Romero - Scenes of a Sensual Nature

Jo Romero – Scenes of a Sensual Nature with comic actors

A sign of the times yesterday morning.

I was sitting in Cowgate waiting to go into Jo Romero’s Scenes of a Sensual Nature – four playlets with Jo in various states of undress, Mick Ferry stripped to the waist, Gary Colman doing a sex tape, James Dowdeswell looking nervous and David Mills in a vest. Something for everyone.

So…

There I was, sitting in Cowgate typing a text message, when I heard a voice say: “Are you interested in comedy shows?”

It was a comedian whom I had seen in clubs a few times. We had never met. He handed me a flyer and pitched his show. When he left, I checked and, sure enough, we were Facebook Friends.

But we had never met.

Later, waiting to go into the Noise Next Door’s Really, Really Good Afternoon Show, I bumped into comedian Diane Spencer. She told me she had had ten Norwegians in her Power Tool audience the previous day. I told her comic Lindsay Sharman had had five Norwegians in her show the previous day. It sounded like they were different groups of Norwegians. I went and joined the Noise Next Door queue. The two people behind me started talking in Norwegian. Totally true. (I used to work for a Scandinavian TV company.) Inexplicable but true.

The Noise Next Door

The Noise Next Door seem to come with a built-in TV aerial

The Noise Next Door are a faultless improv troupe. Why they do no have a TV series is more a reflection on TV producers and commissioners rather than on them.

After the Noise Next Door show, I went to see the Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection show.

On the way, I passed Bob Slayer’s double decker BlundaBus venue. Bob told me: “I have a blocked urinal. Somebody was sick in it. This is the exciting end of running a bus venue.”

At this point, performer John Robertson joined us.

“Parking this bus,” continued Bob, “was easy but these toilets have cost me £1,000. I can’t afford to have them filling up. They are no-poo toilets. I hope people don’t find them. There are no signs to them. Have you seen the sign inside?

WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT AND WE
WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU DO NOT TOO

Bob Slayer and John Robertson at the BlundaBus yesterday

Bob Slayer and John Robertson at the BlundaBus yesterday

“Bob’s toilets,” said John Robertson, “are the only venues on the Fringe you don’t want to have full.”

As John Robertson and I walked along the Cowgate, we saw comedian Patrick Monahan coming towards us.

“Oh dear,” I said to John, “he is going to, isn’t he?”

Sure enough, Patrick spread his arms wide, said nothing, hugged us both simultaneously and then continued along the Cowgate.

John and I then bumped into eccentric performer Mr Twonkey. John went into the Underbelly venue. I continued walking along with Mr Twonkey, who told me he had been unable to think up a decent idea to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. I tried to console him but it proved impossible.

When I got to the Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection show it was, unlike Bob Slayer’ blocked toilet, filled to the brim and overflowing. I stayed to see Juliette Burton’s set. She hugged me. I left.

This gave me time to go and record a Grouchy Club Podcast with Kate Copstick.

Tim Renkow

Tim Renkow: man with a dangerous title

Then I went to see Tim Renkow’s show Kim Jong-Un, Muhammad, Jesus and Other Power Hungry Maniacs. Highly intelligent. Very funny. As expected.

Tim hugged me as I left and I went to have a chat with Kate Cook, who had asked to meet up so she could plug her show Invisible Woman.

“Food is essential here in Edinburgh,” she started.

I said: “It’s fairly essential everywhere.”

“Yes,” admitted Kate, “but somehow you really notice it is working as fuel here. I can’t eat just before a show and I ate too early this morning. So, by the time I was getting towards the end of my show today, I could feel the madness setting in. You have seen my show. It’s quite physical.”

“It is very good,” I said. “What sort of madness?”

“I miss my dog,” said Kate. “I think animals keep you sane. I do feel a little bit mad in Edinburgh, but maybe you need to. It’s completely mad here. In a good way.”

“How?” I asked.

“I suppose we’re all very vulnerable,” Kate explained.

“People,” I said, “talk about all the performers’ egos but I suppose all the vulnerabilities are feeding on each other too.”

Kate Cook at Soho Theatre

Kate Cook – she misses her dog, but has a supportive Wolf

“We are all vulnerable,” said Kate, “and maybe we all need one another. I think everyone’s actually quite supportive of one another. I brought a technician up with me called Max Valentin Wolf. That’s a good name, isn’t it? He doesn’t look like he’s called Max Valentin Wolf.”

“Bob Slayer’s toilet is blocked-up,” I told Kate.

“On the BlundaBus?”

“Yes. Apparently it takes liquids but not solids. That is a bit of a drawback in a toilet. Where is your show?”

“The Mash House. It’s very nice. It smells of wood.”

“Like being buried alive?”

“No.”

“Any humorous show-publicising anecdotes?” I asked.

Kate Cook - Invisible Woman

A wooden leg, one arm, a pipe and chickens

“I play lots of characters in the show,” said Kate. “Invisible Woman. You’ve seen it.”

“I have,” I said. “It’s very good,”

“It’s very fast-paced,” said Kate, “and yesterday I got some scenes mixed up, which has always been my nightmare. I was being the man with a wooden leg and I should’ve been the posh lady with one arm. So I had to apologise to the audience and make a joke about it and then become the lady with one arm. And, during the same show, a box full of rubber ducks fell off a chair backstage and you can imagine what sort of noise that made.”

“Quacks?” I asked.

“Chickens,” said Kate. “They were chickens.”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, I’m a chicken,” said Kate.

Then there was a distraction and we lost that line of conversation.

Kate joined me to see Die Roten Punkte: Haus Party.

Kate Copstick lip-syncing at the Haus Party

Kate Copstick with low-key lip-syncing at the Haus Party

Frankly, you can’t go very wrong if you perform as a brother-and-sister German neo punk band duo with guests Paul Foot being surreal, a big black transvestite called Le Gateau Chocolat who can sing anything from Wagner to Whitney Houston, critic Kate Copstick lip-syncing a song and Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award winner Adrienne Truscott taking her clothes off. It was the second time in a week that I had gone to a show where Adrienne Truscott took her clothes off. I am not complaining. Just saying.

After all this finished, Kate Cook hugged me goodbye and I left for The Illicit Thrill at the Voodoo Rooms – a show which had been recommended to me.

Frank Sanazi & The Iraq Pack with two punters

Frank Sanazi and The Iraq Pack + two happy Iraq Pack fans

When I arrived, Frank Sanazi’s Iraq Pack were having photos taken with their fans.

I also bumped into Paul Eccentric, who is here in Edinburgh as a punter until, on Wednesday, his book The Edinburgh Fringe in a Nutshell is launched in Leith. (I blogged about the London launch last month) He had a large bandage on his hand.

Paul Eccentric fell over a tree

Paul Eccentric. An arboreal tale of movement

“What happened?” I asked.

“I fell over a tree,” he told me.

“You fell over a tree?” I asked.

“It moved,” he explained.

“That’s the trouble with trees,” I said.

Waiting for The Illicit Thrill to start, I checked my e-mails.

Mark, a man of mystery who runs the British Comedy Guide website, had sent me a piece about Abigoliah Schamaun, who has been plastering fake review quotes and stars on her show posters. He suggested she might be a worthy Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award nominee.

Abigoliah Schamaun poster

Abigoliah Schamaun poster. A cunning stunt?

The quotes include: “A true talent!” (Just One Person’s Opinion) and “Funny. Hilarious. I laughed Loads!” (Rather Redundant Mag)

I must have not paid attention when The Illicit Thrill was recommended to me. It turned out to be a fairly straight hour-long strip show. Not really a Fringe show, more a well-produced strip show. In its own terms, it was extremely well-done, although excellent local rock band Black Cat Bone looked mildly embarrassed. We were given fake dollar bills on entry to stick in assorted garters and gaps.

Whereas Adrienne Truscott had been completely naked earlier in the evening, the professional strippers in The Illicit Thrill kept their lower regions thong-covered. Unless I missed something. I do not think I did. I am not sure what this difference in nudity between art and populist perv entertainment demonstrates sociologically (The Illicit Thrill’s slogan on the dollar bills is: Teaching Edinburgh To Perv Responsibly). But I am sure it must illuminate something.

Illicit Thrill dollar bills

Crisp Illicit Thrill dollar bills awaiting insertion late last night

The Illicit Thrill included Mother Masochista – a stripping nun – and, separately, JC – a Jesus Christ male stripper of whom I have been an admirer ever since seeing him in 2013 at a Frank Sanazi extravaganza at the Fringe.

Last night, he did not go as far as he did in that extravaganza, but apparently he returns to the Fringe in his own show next week: Christ on a Bike.

After that, I walked back to my flat at about 02.30 in the morning with the slightest of toothaches, amid a fairly common Edinburgh late-night event which is unbilled and rarely mentioned – flocks of giant white seagulls swooping low and fast along the roads and around the junctions, as if looking for small dogs, children or crushed egos to snatch off the darkened streets.

Sometimes I think I might as well have taken drugs.

 

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An Edinburgh Fringe Performer’s Guide to Staying Solvent and Sane – maybe

Paul Eccentric signing a boom last night

Strawberry Statement: Paul inscribes a book

Last night, Paul Eccentric was back in London for his book launch, having performed at the Glastonbury Festival, where he fell off the stage for a second time – I think the first time was three years ago, but the people in the medical tent still recognised him and, as someone said last night:

“It is not good when the people in the medical tent recognise you.”

Paul is a man of many festivals. He even has a catchy performance poem about it.

Last night, he was launching his new book The Edinburgh Fringe in a Nutshell which is somewhat optimistically subtitled A Performer’s Guide to Staying Solvent and Sane at the World’s Biggest Arts Festival.

The first part – staying solvent – might be possible after reading this book. The second – staying sane – might be a fantastical step too far.

Julie Mullen

Julie Mullen looked normal last night

Last night’s book launch also included performances from, among others, Rob Auton (who, at one Edinburgh Fringe, managed the impressive feat of getting a 5-star AND a 2-star review of the same performance of the same show), multi-award-winning poet Paul Lyalls (who one year tried to sell the exhaust from his car at his Fringe performances) and Julie Mullen (who looks sane and ‘normal’ but looks can be deceptive).

I should point out other Fringe books are available:

Critic Mark Fisher’s The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: How to Make Your Show A Success (2012) which includes theatre as well as comedy shows… And performer Ian Fox’s How to Produce, Perform and Write an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show (2014, now in its second edition).

“So why did you write your book?” I asked Paul Eccentric last night.

“I have no idea, really,” he told me, “but someone during the Fringe said to me You seem to be very angry and I said I’m just a bit pissed-off with myself.”

“Why?” I asked

“For badly managing my day, for taking too many bookings in too short a time and forgetting to eat and drink. The guy said: You should write this down to stop other people making these mistakes. So I did.”

Paul with fan from Siberia (true) who bought 2 books

Paul with fan from Siberia (true) who bought 2 books

“Someone,” I said, “ told me they thought the book was fascinating to read even if you’re not a performer and not thinking of going up there.”

“Well, people have sai…” Paul started to reply.

I added: “…although it was your father who told me that.”

“He wants to know where his money went,” laughed Paul.

The book’s sections include:

  • How To Do It
  • The Show Itself
  • Travel and Accommodation
  • Publicising Your Show
  • Adventures on The Fringe

with advice from producers, performers, venue runners, publicists, reviewers and even me (I seem to have turned into a ‘Fringe commentator’ according to this book).

If nothing else, it is worth reading to see that even a wise participant like Paul Eccentric who has excellent and highly practical advice to give can be conned into thinking I know what I am talking about.

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