Tag Archives: Stompie

Yesterday in Edinburgh, the post-Fringe world was getting increasingly odder with nudity, hedgehogs & flying saucers

Bob’s Bookshop Bar - a penis bottle opener, a bottle of gin & a fridge

Bob’s Bookshop has a basic minimalist Bar – a penis bottle opener, a bottle of gin & a fridge

Last night at what was the Edinburgh Fringe and is now just Edinburgh, Stompie the Half-Naked Chef played his last show at Bob’s Bookshop.

It was, for him, a normal show.

The room (a former shop) was full, so I sat outside on the cobbled street where venue runner Bob Slayer had thoughtfully placed three chairs for just such an eventuality – and because Stompie had always intended to perform his show both inside and outside the venue at the same time.

As always, Stompie – naked except for a kitchen apron and a pair of underpants (occasionally removed) – tended to run out onto the pavement to accost passers-by or into the middle of the street to stop passing cars, hail a cab or, on one occasion, to give a melon to a bemused and smiling middle-aged lady driver who appeared to speak no English.

I can only imagine she thought it was a local custom like men wearing kilts or people blowing bagpipes where the mouth movements bear no relation to the sounds being emitted.

The show occasionally strayed into the street

Car drivers were waved down by a half-naked man on cobbles

I was joined after a time by a passing lady who sat down. We watched couples and groups of mostly very respectable, ordinary (in a good way) people pass by, as the Festival Theatre round the corner had just finished its performance.

They – and other passing pedestrians who just looked in the window – and the accosted car drivers and taxi drivers who stopped because a mad-looking man was standing in the road in front of them – took in their stride the sight of a semi-naked man occasionally waving a cucumber at them.

A foreign lady driver accepted a melon of friendship

A foreign lady driver amiably accepted a melon of friendship

“Only in Edinburgh,” I said to the lady sitting beside me. “If this happened in Nottingham or Plymouth or London or Cardiff, people would be calling the police or running away.”

“I think I have seen too many shows,” the lady said to me. “It’s starting to seem normal. It has been a mad night.”

It turned out she, too, had been to the Festival Theatre show.

“What was it called?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she told me. “It was mad and wonderful and involved men and donkeys.”

Don Quixote?” I asked.

“It must have been,” she replied. “There were windmills.”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

Artist Gay Halley watched the show from the street

Artist Gay Halley sat watching from the street

“My name is Gay,” she replied. “I always say that, rather than say I’m Gay. It avoids misunderstandings.”

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“Just south of Aberdeen,” she replied.

“Stonehaven?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied, surprised.

“I was partly brought up in Aberdeen,” I said. “We lived in Mastrick, a council estate on a hill. In the winter, my mother used to make the beds in the morning wearing her overcoat.”

Perfectly true. These were days of linoleum and coal fires, before fitted carpets and central heating.

“Where do you live?” she asked me.

“Borehamwood,” I replied.

“You’re joking,” she said. “My sister lives in Borehamwood.”

The lady sitting next to me on the cobbles turned out to be artist Gay Halley and she had just had a picture hung (and sold) at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.

After the show, in Bob’s Bookshop, I asked Stompie/Richard Stamp, the Half-Naked Chef what he was doing next.

“I have an Arts Council grant to build a flying saucer,” he told me truthfully.

stompie_cut

He has a grant to build a flying saucer but not to buy clothes

He is also going to London’s Wonderground, to perform with Miss Behave whose broken heel has now partially mended, though she is still performing on crutches.

If you have no idea what this is about, the only solution is to read my blogs regularly.

After that, I went back to my rented flat where two e-mails were waiting for me.

The first was from this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith. It commented on my blog of yesterday:

“You can find the odd hedgehog wandering the streets of Plashet Grove,” it said.

It did not define the exact meaning of the word ‘odd’.

Along the mean streets of Plashet Grove a hedgehog must go

Along these mean streets of Plashet Grove walked a hedgehog

Plashet Grove is in the East End of London, in the Upton Park/East Ham area.

“I once found a hedgehog there,” continued Anna. “Just once. I was with a comedian, very late at night. We almost released it into the custody of the local parkies, but they suggested we bake it in clay so we fled and set it free on Wanstead Flats (a nearby open area). It was odd, finding a hedgehog in Plashet Grove.”

Odd was the word last night.

The second e-mail waiting for me was from comedy critic Kate Copstick, who returned to London from Edinburgh at the beginning of this week.

In my blog yesterday, I mentioned that, now the Fringe was over, the paper strips stuck on posters giving review quotes and showing the 4 or 5 star reviews are coming unstuck in the wind.

Copstick told me that, when she was leaving Edinburgh, she had bumped into a well-known comedian at Waverley station. She wrote:

There is nothing as worthless as yesterday’s stars

Edinburgh: fading and sometimes unwanted review stars

“He had told both his venue and his PRs (at a major management company) that he did not want any strips of stars to be stuck on his posters. NONE. AT ALL. He saw some of his posters in Bristo Square with a Broadway Baby and another star strip stuck across them, so he called his PR people.

“They said they had not put any strips of stars up as per his instructions. So he called up the venue PR. They said the same and told him (which he has had confirmed) that it is the publications THEMSELVES who go around and put their own strips of stars up on posters sometimes!!… If the acts’ PRs do not stick the stars up, then Broadway Baby does!”

Copstick and I both found this odd.

But, to me, even stranger was the fact that the act did not want to have his stars and review quotes publicised on his posters.

Either I am or the world is getting increasingly odd. Perhaps both.

_________

P.S. The folks at Broadway Baby tell me: “Broadway Baby does NOT stick up flashes or stars on posters… Bizarre indeed. As if any publication would have the time, resources or inclination to stick pull quotes on posters.”

Yup. That’s the word for this story.

Bizarre.

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At the Edinburgh Fringe, Jimmy Savile show actor beaten up in the street after being named in Chortle website review

(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)

Juliette Burton (right) and her flash mob yesterday in the High Street

Juliette Burton (right) and her flash mob in the High Street

But, before that…

Juliette Burton led a flash mob in a choreographed dance down the High Street to publicise her show When I Grow Up

And, on my way to see Irish comic Christian Talbot’s late night comedy compilation show at the Phoenix venue, I heard one of those lines that only seems reasonable during the Edinburgh Fringe.

I bumped into Frank Sanazi in the street and, as we walked along, he told me: “She only does the gimp act on my show when Jesus Christ is not available.”

This is both bizarre and true: I myself have seen Jesus climax Frank Sanazi’s Dax Vegas Night II.

Other things which seemed perfectly normal yesterday were:

Andy Zapp introducing his gorilla (who had flown in from London) at Christian Talbot’s show…

Stompie - The Half-Naked Chef - cooks up mischief last night

Stompie – The Half-Naked Chef – cooks up mischief last night

Stompie performing his unbilled nightly Half-Naked Chef show at Bob’s Bookshop partially in the venue and partially in the street…

And Bob Slayer of Bob’s Bookshop explaining where he got his new chairs from. Bob is known for his high-profile criticisms of the Big Four venues in Edinburgh, including the Underbelly.

“I was in the Udderbelly’s Abbatoir last night,” Bob told me, “and Ed (co-owner of the Underbelly/Udderbelly) came up and said: So you’re Bob Slayer, who writes things about us!

“I said: We don’t have a problem here, do we?

Bob Slayer (left_ thanks Ed of the Underbelly (photograph by Claire Smith)

Bob Slayer (left) makes up with Ed Bartlam of the Underbelly (photograph by Claire Smith)

“He said: Well, it does annoy me when you get your facts wrong.

“I gave him my card and said: Well, do correct me, because I would like to criticise you with the correct facts.

“We had a bit of a smile, a bit of a laugh and he said, as an aside, Well, if there’s anything I can help you with, just let me know.

Well, funny enough,” I said, “I’d love some new chairs for my audience. And – first thing this morning – Ed had 40 brand new chairs delivered to Bob’s Bookshop.”

And so to the beating…

At last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, I blogged about performer Ian Fox being randomly attacked in the street.

Three days ago, I mentioned in a blog that Scotsman journalist Claire Smith had been randomly attacked in Leith.

Yesterday, Ellis of comedy duo Ellis & Rose told me about being attacked in the street – but not randomly. He was with his comedy partner Richard Rose.

They are performing in two Fringe shows this year – their own show Ellis & Rose: Big in Denmark and (as actors) in Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show.

Richard Rose (left) wit Gareth Ellis and his eye yesterday

Richard Rose (left) with Ellis and his eye yesterday

“We went out for a few drinks last night,” told me. “We were walking down to Cowgate, near Bob’s Bookshop, at about two or three in the morning, a little bit drunk, and this guy walked past and asked us: Are you Ellis and Rose?

“We were quite chuffed that someone had recognised us,” said Richard.

“He told us,” continued Ellis. “You’re sick! You’re sick in the head! and we reacted like What?? and he said You do that Jimmy Savile show, don’t you? We said Yeah and he said You’re fucking sick!

Rose explained: “Ellis tried to engage in dialogue.”

Ellis continued: “I was saying to him But you haven’t seen it, have you? You haven’t seen the show. He was quite a big guy, Scottish accent, in his late-twenties.

“And then he just punched me in the face. I stumbled back a bit and then just ran.”

“To look on the bright side,” I said, “the good thing is that you were recognised in the street. That’s all most Fringe performers want.”

“This stuff wasn’t happening before we were named in the review,” said Ellis.

Gareth Ellis suffers for his art (photo by Lewis Schaffer)

Ellis – how he he suffered for his art (photograph by Lewis Schaffer)

As I mentioned in my blog three days ago, Ellis and Rose (who did not write the Jimmy Savile show) had specifically asked reviewers not to name them but the Chortle review did.

“We initially didn’t want to be named,” explained Rose, “because we just didn’t want it to be confused with our own show.”

“I imagine if he’d see the actual Jimmy Savile show,” continued Ellis, “he would not have punched me.”

“Maybe we should sue Steve Bennett of Chortle,” mused Rose.

“Yeah,” said Ellis, “maybe Steve Bennett (editor of Chortle who personally reviewed the Jimmy Savile show) actually is culpable.”

“This wasn’t happening before that Chortle review came out,” said Rose.

“Though it may increase our audiences,” said Ellis. “We are doing the Fringe properly… One star reviews; audiences love it; and I got punched in the street.”

“A couple of days ago, at the end of the Jimmy Savile show,” said Richard, “it had gone really well so we asked the audience: Would you like to hear a review of the show? And we read out Steve Bennett’s review to rapturous applause. They particularly liked the opening line This show is an insult…

“Did you see stars when you were punched?” I asked Ellis.

“I only saw five stars,” he replied.

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