Tag Archives: Stu Turner

Edinburgh Fringe myths and Lou Reed

There were two notable shows which I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday, both about myths. One was Charlie Dinkin’s Child Star, in which she is a (fictional) eponymous and now slightly twitchy former stellar performer.

The other was Transformer, a tribute to Lou Reed. I am a big fan of Lou Reed.

Last night’s show – supposedly a performance at Max’s Kansas City in New York in (I think) the 1970s – was like a re-imagined Las Vegas version of Lou Reed. Loud, rocking, lively, hard-edged, professional. Everything you want in the West End or Broadway production of a rock star tribute.

On a bizarrely anal website which lists 776 gigs Lou Reed played over 44 years (1970-2013), someone who saw him perform live on a pier in Baltimore, a Bowling Alley in Dallas and at a club in Washington the night before he played the White House describes him as “an artist that created the ‘Punk’ ethos if not the music itself.”

Quite right. “If not the music itself”. When I think of Lou Reed, I think of quiet, cold melancholy. Last night, Lou Reed was turned into Meatloaf. There was a loud, rocking version of the Velvet Underground’s song Heroin. A loud, rocking version? Yup. I think someone, somewhere took the wrong drugs.

But the audience mostly seemed to love it. Even if they mostly seemed to think an acting-out of Andy Warhol being shot by a banana was a random irrelevant oddity. If it introduces Lou Reed to a new audience, then maybe it is worth it. And Pretty Miss Cairo as Candy Darling – not an easy part to cast – sang and stripped well: he was excellent.

Frankly, I prefer Lou Reed’s Berlin album to his Transformer album anyway.

On YouTube, there is a video of him singing Take a Walk on the Wild Side from the Transformer album. This is not a hard rock song.

YouTube also has a video of him singing Caroline Says II from the far more interesting Berlin album.

Meanwhile, Kate Copstick and I are not getting ready to start our live Grouchy Club shows at the Counting House Lounge tomorrow (15th-29th August). They are intentionally not advertised in the Fringe Programme because we are not really interested in random passing punters. It is more a chance for performers and media people to have a chat with the most influential comedy reviewer in Edinburgh (her) and a fat, slaphead daily blogger (me, although I see my blog hits are nearing a million and all publicity is good publicity).

The live Grouchy Club costs us nothing and costs the people who come nothing (not on the way in; not on the way out; no Free Fringe ‘bucket’). If people come along, we will have an interesting chat; it might turn into a podcast; it might even be streamed live on Periscope (via @thejohnfleming) – 3.45pm-4.45pm.

If no-one turns up, Copstick and I will have an interesting chat which will almost certainly be a podcast and might be live streamed on Periscope.

The reason we are not preparing for this in any way is that what happens totally depends on what happens… if you see what I mean.

Other people have to prepare for their shows.

Stu Turner

Stu Turner: “I’ve decided to use this photo for publicity to try and grab some attention with it”

I got an email from comic magician Stu Turner:

“Hope you’re well and it’s not pissing down with rain up there. I’m organising a big charity gala to raise funds for Autism Initiative’s Hermitage Garden project after it was vandalised twice last month. I’m organising it next Wednesday. It’s two hours (2100-2300) at the 400-seater New Empire Bingo Hall in Edinburgh and we’d love to fill it.”

On the ‘free’ principle, it is free to enter the charity show and there will be contribution buckets at the end on exit.

The bare image promoting the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show

Much like the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at The Counting house on Friday 28th August, then – free to enter; bucket at the end; 100% of all money goes to the Mama Biashara charity.

This is the Edinburgh Fringe. It is all about self-publicity.

And, on that note, an update on how my toenail – which fell off after a tragic shelf-falling incident – is re-growing. The last time I posted a photo of it, there were complaints from cutting-edge comedians who felt this crossed the line of acceptability. You know who you are.

BigToe_growingNail_CUT

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Filed under Charity, Comedy, Music

The magical near-arsonist behind the Cowgatehead and Fringe cover parodies

Stu Turner with the fake Fringe cover

Stu Turner with fake Fringe cover yesterday

Two of the few joys in the ongoing Cowgatehead saga in Edinburgh have been videos put online by Stu Turner.

Who he?

I talked to him yesterday at Soho Theatre in London.

His first video was a new parody of the Hitler-in-the-bunker scene from the movie Downfall. It appeared online the day after the Cowgatehead shenanigans blew up.

The second video – a parody of the front cover of the new Edinburgh Fringe Programme – appeared only about half a day after my copy appeared in the post direct from the Fringe Office. That is an impressively-quick turnaround.

The real cover of the Fringe Programme 2015

The real cover of the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Programme

“It’s such a shame I’ve got sod all to promote off the back of these videos,” Stu told me yesterday. “I have no show at the Fringe. I’m just going to be up there for a week doing open spots.”

“So why do the videos?” I asked.

“Just for fun,” he told me. “I just fancied doing the videos for a laugh. I had the Hitler video at home, just sitting waiting for something suitable and, when Cowgatehead kicked off, I thought: Perfect!

“You are only doing open spots in Edinburgh?” I asked. “Why? Remind me who you’ve worked with.”

“In a former life,” said Stu, “I was part of a double act called Magic Incorporated and I’ve worked with Bob Monkhouse at the Lakeside club in Frimley Green and appeared on TV with Des O’Connor many moons ago on his awful talent show Pots of Gold on primetime ITV.

“The acts all got 30 seconds. For weeks and weeks, we rehearsed one of our big illusions, which normally took several minutes, down to 30 seconds and then we were told we couldn’t do it: Oh no: you’ve got to walk up and do a quick visual gag. You can’t do an illusion. We were a magic act! So we did a quick visual gag and the person who won played the piano. We were quite cross. We were not allowed to do an illusion because it had to be a visual gag, but this person could play the piano! We weren’t happy.”

“Was the magic act you and a lovely assistant?” I asked.

“We were a male double act. We did mainly comedy.”

“So why are you doing open spots in Edinburgh?” I asked.

Stu Turner

Stu Turner: back in not quite the old routine

“I’m sort-of starting again. The double act was quite a while ago – some years ago. We almost went full-time pro. We did a bit of TV. We did shows round the country and it got quite big. We had girls – dancers, assistants – on bigger shows. We did illusions, magic, juggling unicycling, fire-eating, all sorts of stuff. We did it for a few years and it just kind of petered-out after a while. Stopped it. I got a day job.

“So I had a few years’ break, but I missed performing, got back into it three or four years ago and have sort of got back into it as a solo stand-up act and it’s very different. Rather than touring with illusions and big stuff, it’s now just me and a bag of props. Back then we were doing cabaret and theatre and big stuff; now it’s all comedy clubs. Very different to back then.

“You have to start again. You can’t go round saying: I worked with Bob Monkhouse. At the moment, I’m doing open spots on pro nights, headlining smaller nights – doing half hour closing spots on some of the smaller out-of-town clubs. There’s no rush. I’m enjoying it. Doing it for fun and working towards an hour-long show at some point. Because of the magic background, instead of just comedy clubs, I can do cabaret, theatre, burlesque, the whole range of…”

“Burlesque shows?” I asked.

“Yes. They have a variety of acts.”

“Being a magician is almost a vocation,” I said.

“It was never serious,” said Stu. “I always did it with a comedy angle. I never did the cards and the doves and the rabbits. We once almost set fire to the studio on Bob Says Opportunity Knocks.”

“This is what the public wants,” I said.

“We had,” explained Stu, “a trick which involved a box which ‘accidentally’ caught fire. We would put the fire out and produce whatever out of the box. But, for Bob Monkhouse, we thought: Let’s make this a big one… So on went the lighter fluid, a bit more, a bit more, bit more. The box catches fire. We try to put it out and the lighter fluid goes everywhere.

Stu Turner has put magic behind him now

Jester Stu has put magic behind him

“They had just put down an expensive new studio floor and the burning lighter fluid went all round the studio floor. Luckily, they thought it was part of the act. Everyone laughed. Almost a nasty disaster. We didn’t get through.”

“What is next on the video front?” I asked. “You have done two. Rule of Three. You have to do another one.”

“I think I need to do a video after the Fringe,” said Stu. “I’m going up the middle week. I need to see how it pans out.”

The Downfall Cowgatehead parody which Stu made is on YouTube.

This week’s Edinburgh Fringe cover parody is also on YouTube.

The original, rather over-arty poem on the front of the real Edinburgh Fringe Programme reads:

This may contain material that may shock or offend,
it’s not a stunt or some attempt at a trend.
There are no rules only exceptions,
and exceptional acts challenging perceptions.
Stand-ups standing up for what they believe,
uppercuts to the upper classes, quick jabs at the masses.
Shows without boundaries or even a stage,
crossing lines, becoming headlines on the front page.
The audience can become the cast of a show,
basking unexpectedly below a spotlight’s glow.
A song may have no words or even no rhythm,
nothing is certain, nothing’s a given.
Here anything goes, anything can happen,
the greatest show on earth, entertainment heaven,
the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, defying the norm since 1947.

Stu Turner’s parody words are arguably an improvement and even more realistic:

This may contain humour that may shock or may jar,
it’s not a stunt or some attempt at PR.
There is no compromise only pure frustration,
& pissed off acts challenging no concession.
Stand-ups standing up for what they booked,
spending a fortune to attend, and now they are fooked.
Shows without venues, rooms, or even a stage,
broken promises becoming headlines, they’re all full of rage.
The audience cannot find the advertised show,
seeking unexpectedly when the venue says no.
A show may have no room nor any address,
nothing is certain, it’s all a complete mess.
Here nothing’s allowed, nothing can happen,
the greatest fool on earth, entertainment hell.
The PBH Free Fringe, being totally draconian since, well…

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Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, Magic