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Blog Archive: August 2013

Out Of Office
I'm off on HOLIDAYS this weekend - myself and The Dates Of My Leave are going to Majorca i.e. The Same Place We Go Every Year. Because we LIKE it!

I am RIGHT looking forward to it as i am KNACKERED after the huge summer of ACTION that has comprised Total Hero Team, and hope to return REFRESHED (and having completed an ENTIRE issue of Puzzler Collection) ready to ROCK into all the exciting events that begin in September. As detailed in this month's newsletter we've got a new SINGLE coming on September 23rd, the WEB SERIES version of Total Hero Team, some dead exciting GIGS, and various OTHER stuff which is still in the PENDING rather than the SHOWING OFF ABOUT tray.

For the next week however I intend to dedicate myself to LOLLING and drinking BEER in the SUN - be good while I'm away, and see you on the other side!

posted 30/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Meeting Skills
I headed back to leafy Angel after work for the first time in AGES yesterday, for LO! I was attending a meeting with my fellow MA students to talk about the WEB SERIES that we've been planning.

As I wandered over I was thinking about the Transferable Skills Of ROCK - when arranging the meeting I'd utilised one of these SKILLZ to select a date when everyone could attend. It's the same system we've always used for The Validators, for me and Steve's stuff, AAS meetings and all sorts, although I actually learnt it over TWENTY YEARS AGO in my first proper job as secretary to Professor J Lindesay in Leicester. Hey - if something works for drummers AND psychiatrists it'll work for anyone!

When I arrived, however, it turned out that ANOTHER skill would have been good to use: Rehearsal Room Etiquette. It is always the way that the band before you in a rehearsal room will ALWAYS still be in there when their allotted time is over. Steve and I ran into this problem a couple of months ago, and after waiting for AGES while they Took The Piss (you may recall that Steve, kind soul that he is, said they could finish the song they were playing - they chose to still be there 10 minutes later, doing OTHER songs) I applied the aforesaid skillset and BARGED in, plonking MY gear in the middle of the room, SMILING at them POINTEDLY and loudly SAYING things so they couldn't continue. It always works, and WOULD have worked in this situation, as someone was STILL in the room that we'd booked for our meeting. She'd been GLARED at and SPOKEN to, but we could clearly see that she was titting about on the interweb reading showbiz articles and taking AGES packing things away Very Carefully. Unfortunately, by the time I realised the transferable situation, I'd already been stood outside the glass wall for several minutes, so couldn't really suddenly Walk In Unknowing without looking like a twit. Next time though!

Once we DID get in we fell to work IMMEDIATELY. We've all written an episode each of a seven part webseries, with each script around 3-5 minutes long. We read them out in a proposed order, and then had a big discussion about how it all worked together. This was DEAD interesting - hearing all the stories together suddenly made characters LEAP out, demonstrating how they SHOULD be written and suggesting all sorts of tweaks and changes to make everything work better. Our SHOWRUNNER Emma also suggested that we needed more Actual Drama, which was certainly very true of MY script. It was dead good - having heard everybody else's, and getting a clearer idea of how everything fitted together, meant that whole NEW ideas presented themselves which will, hopefully, make it easier to make mine BETTER!

The two hours FLEW by at extreme speed, after which it all looked like it might actually work. All we need to do now is finish the scripts, cast the parts, work out how on earth to film it, get locations, rehearse, direct it, edit it and then tell people. PEASY!

posted 29/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Victory Lap Part Two
On Saturday night I zoomed to Camden with The Landlady for the final night of Total Hero Team at The Camden Fringe and, by extension, the final night of our entire FRINGE ADVENTURE. We're planning to do a gentle few gigs over the next few months and then finish off the live shows completely in Leicester in February, but after Buxton, Manchester and Edinburgh this was IT for Fringes. AUSPICIOUS!

We arrived to find Steve lightly REFRESHED by an afternoon's drinking... and a whole lot of chums VERY refreshed by the same! We knew that we'd sold eleven tickets beforehand, so knew that we'd have more in than the night before, but were surprised by quite how MANY more people were turning up, and also by the fact that LOADS of them were people we didn't know. The room was looking nicely ready at 8pm, but Miriam, who was doing the door, informed us that we still had a booking for NINE people to come in who hadn't arrived yet. What on earth would a booking for NINE people look like?

It looked like a STAG DO is what it looked like, which always makes me a bit nervous in case there is Raucous Behaviour, but this lot were a DELIGHT. There was singing along at (almost always) appropriate points, beers were got and the STAG fell asleep, and they were LOVELY. This may be in comparison however to the PALS BRIGADE who joined in A LOT and laughed at all SORTS of things that had rarely, if ever, got LARFS before and, in some cases, Were Not Actually Jokes.

It made for a HUGELY enjoyable final show, one of the most fun we've ever done. My absolute favourite bit was right at the VERY end, just before "We Did It Ourselves". All was quiet, Steve said - "A wise old man once told me..." and then a PHONE went off. A LOT. "A wise old man once told me two things," Steve repeated. "Firstly, always turn your phone off before a show" - LARF ERUPTION - "and secondly, and most importantly..." and then he DOVE straight back into the script. As I have said before, one of the BIG things for me has been the joy of us both Ad-Libbing In Character this time around, and I was VERY HAPPY indeed that it had culminated in this joyous piece of work by my colleague.

After the show we decamped to the downstairs bar for some BEERZ, some STORIES, and some chat with chums various. It was the perfect way to end this run of shows, and sets us up nicely for the Occasional Live Performances to come and, perhaps more importantly, gives me impetus to get on with sorting out the scripts for the forthcoming WEB SERIES version of the story. Every time I think about it my BRANE says "Do you realise how much WORK this is going to be?" so it's nice to have a memory of a really really GOOD show behind us to keep us KEEN. It's going to be GRATE!

posted 28/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Victory Lap Part One
Friday night was our first night back at The Camden Fringe, but it felt like being back in Edinburgh.

To start with we were meant to be going for curry... but nipped in next door for a Cheeky Half first. Nothing could be more "Edinburgh"! The four of us - me (and Steve), Mrs M Hewitt and The Spice In My Curry then went for our traditional pre-Camden tea at Maharani, a curry house i ENDORSE heartily! We had a lovely time, and it was almost with REGRET that Steve and I left the Wives to finish their BOOZE and headed over to The Camden Head to get set up.

We VIDEOED the show for posterity, and though it wasn't necessarily a CLASSIC - we had post-curry DRY MOUTH so singing was a bit tough, and suddenly doing the show in a different room from The Dram House seemed WEIRD - there were many lovely people in. We did get thrown a bit at the start by three people LEAVING, though we later discovered they hadn't walked out in disgust at our SEARING CRITIQUE of bankers, but had just come in to the wrong show!

Afterwards we had a celebratory BEER with some of our Flyer Buddies from Stand-Up Tragedy (they were on the other side!), then HOPPED into a taxi to zoom across town to The Lexington, where Keith Top Of The Pops and co had JUST finished their gig. They were on at the same time as us (something that happens SO OFTEN i suspect that THE MAN is trying to prevent me seeing them again) so The Band Members In My Band had gone to see them instead of seeing us for the eighteenth time (KRAZY!) and reported back that it was GRATE!

We then watched Joanne Joanne, the EXCELLENTLY named all-female Duran Duran covers band. The actual gig was ACE, they're a BRILL band, though I couldn't help thinking that they showed up Duran Duran themselves for being... well, Not An Album Band, as they mostly played the first album which featured "Girls On Films" and Some Other Duran Duran songs. We were surrounded by people who did not agree, however, especially a lady in front of us who knew the words to EVERYTHING!

More beer, more chat to delightful pals, and then we zoomed home for a WHISKY - if there had been more HILLS it could have BEEN Edinburgh again!

posted 27/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Fringe Report part two: GRAPHS
We haven't had any graphs round here for AGES, so let's get that rectified: during our run at the Edinburgh Fringe we kept a record of how many people came each day, how much they put in the bucket, and how many free CDs we gave out, which allows me to present you with the following slices of PURE FACT!

Fig 1: Cash Taken And CDs Given By Number Of Audience Members

This shows that, as you would probably expect, the amount of cash you get in the bucket and the amount of CDs given away tends to increase the more people you have in the audience. As you can see though, it's not a straightforward relationship - one of our smaller buckets came from one of our biggest audiences. It does look like the increase in CDs taken slows down the more people you have, and I'd guess this might be due to the increased likelihood of having couples/families in bigger audiences (who take one between them). Also you tend to get more money per person with a larger audience - this might be because a bigger crowd leads to more laughter (most of the time) and so people think they've had a better show?

Fig 2: Average Bucket By Number Of CDs Taken

This one looks a bit more straightforward - the more money people put into the bucket (on average) the more CDs you give away. Note that this is the average money, per person, and not the number of people, so it could be that the more money put in (and thus, arguably, the more the audience wished to show their enjoyment) the more they felt able to take a CD.

Fig 3: Average Bucket By Audience Members

By "Average bucket" I mean the amount of money each person put in the bucket on the way out of the show. Not really sure WHAT'S going on here - if anything it shows that you can't predict how much money you'll get based on how many you had in! The amount does tend to increase according to audience size, as mentioned before, but you can clearly see how changeable it was.

Fig 4: Final Facts
Number of show15
Total Audience284
Average Bucket Per Person2.70
Total CDs given away170*
* we ran out of CDs on the last day, but there were only a couple of people left to leave and they didn't seem to mind

So what, in conclusion, do we LEARN from all of this? Well, the key thing that comes out of it for me is that the PBH Free Fringe is VERY MUCH on an even footing with paid for venues for the amount of CA$H that comes in. When we were on the five pound Fringe we had to pay an admission fee to the organisation, rental for the venue, and then I'm pretty sure we paid them a cut of the ticket sales too, which meant (as far as I recall), we were getting in less per person than we did this year. If we'd done one of the big paid for venues we could have charged more, of course, but that costs a HUGE amount of money just to get a room, and they do expect you to spend yet MORE on publicity.

But it isn't about the money - obviously, if it WAS about the money we wouldn't do the Fringe at ALL!! Being part of the PBH Free Fringe is more about being part of something a) delightful b) RIGHTEOUS that harks back to the proper spirit of the whole thing i.e. being an open access festival of ARTS rather than just an expensive showcase for the corporate comedy industry. We were very happy to be part of it, and hope they'll have us back next time we do it!

posted 26/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Fringe Report part one: FACTS
So, as we're home from Edinburgh and a little bit settled, I thought I'd take a two part look at how it all went. The first part will be some NUMBERED THORTS, as follows:

1) It's Really Good Fun
Going to see loads of shows, having lie-ins, showing off every day and drinking beer - going to the Fringe is GRATE!

2) Free Shows Are Exactly As Good As Paying Shows
There was lots of nonsense talked this year about whether Free shows are as good as paid for ones. In my experience: yes, they totally are. You don't see as many famous people, but you do have just as much FUN. I'd tend towards preferring FREE shows if only because a) i am dead INDIE and like the idea of supporting people NOT grovelling to THE MAN and b) most of the paid ones I DID see i could fairly easily see in The London during the rest of the year.

3) I Did See Some Good Stuff
Here's the TOP SIXTEEN (I couldn't get it down any further!) shows I saw, in the order I saw them:
Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle
Kriss Foster & Friend
Richard Herring - We're All Going to Die!
The Islanders
Dan & Dan Live
Nat Metcalfe - Enthusiast
Shall We Just See This One?
Eric and Little Ern
Johnny Awsum's To Do List
Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks
Each of Us - Ben Moor
Barry On Arthur's Seat
Sad Faces Threw a Party
The Bravery Test
Test Tube Comedy
Storyteller's Club
Happily for my THEORISING exactly HALF are free and half were paid for! Also good for my theory, of the twenty OTHER shows I saw, the ones that were most DISAPPOINTING were slightly more geared towards the paid for than free. NOTE: I didn't include The Just Joans in any of the counts as it wasn't really a Fringe show. Whatever: I think we can conclude that I AM RIGHT either way!

4) Our Venue Was Ace But Could Have Been More So
Playing at The Dram House Upstairs/The Wilkie House/The GRV/Whatever It Gets Called Next was lovely - good location, FANTASTIC room and brilliant set-up. I just wish they'd got the whole building finished in time, as the room downstairs would have been GRATE if it had actually stayed as a BAR (we could have funnelled the F***lights crowd down there for one thing, also had BEERZ). Also calling a room you have to go DOWNSTAIRS to get to "The Attic" confused the heck out of people, and also also it would have been nice to have more than 10 minutes notice that our show was cancelled. HOWEVER!

5) Having A Real Fringe Moment Was ACE
I'm SO glad we ended up doing the show doing the road on that day, rather than just giving up. It is a memory that I shall cherish FOREVER!

6) Not Getting Reviews Is A Bit Upsetting
However much I'd like to pretend otherwise, it IS really nice to get reviews when you go to the Fringe, and the fact that we didn't get a single one was a bit disappointing. Also disappointing was the fact that we were IN for THREE competitions but won NONE of them. Oh well - at least it means that the lyrics to We Did It Anyway still make sense! Also -

7) Doing Lots Of Other Gigs Is BRILL
Apart from the show (obv) the thing I was MOST happy about this time was the fact that we both got to do LOTS of other shows. We both did Fresh Fringe Radio and Bright Club, Steve got to be ARTY at The Stand, and I did ukulele cabaret and Crunch The News. In all previous years I have LONGED to be able to do this sort of thing, and was very VERY happy that it happened this time around!

8) The Bucket Speech Is a Specialist Art
My favourite bit of the show every day was doing the Bucket Speech (i.e. when we tell people what the Free Fringe is and how they should give us CA$H) as it got more daft/FUN each day. The psychology was INTERESTING tho - on days we didn't spell it out we didn't get as much, and the days when I left off the "you don't HAVE to give us a fiver" bit we got MORE!

And this leads me nicely into the next batch of FACTS - every day we kept track of how many people had been to see us, how many free CDs they took, and how much money went in the bucket. This allows me to promise you, in a forthcoming blog, GRAPHS!

posted 23/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Heading Home
As I type this blog I'm sat back at my desk as if nothing has happened, like Mr Benn finding himself back at his house on Festive Road, with only a huge pile of dirty laundry to remind me that it really did.

Our last day began with rising at 9am which, after a fortnight in Edinburgh, felt like when you used to have to get up at 4am to "beat the traffic" on a family holiday. We packed, hoovered and generally TIDIED, and were surprised to meet an Eastern European Man (who i believe may have been boozing even later than US the night before) who'd come to collect our sheets and towels. I hope he was from the rental agency!

We said our farewells to the flat and rolled downhill to the station, with everything going FINE. Our route was perfect, Steve dropped the keys off, we got nice seats, had tea and sandwiches on the train, saw The Angel Of The North, and all was DELIGHTFUL (apart from Steve doing SADFACE when we passed an Actual Circus that he wanted to run away and join instead of going back to work) until we reached York, where the train stopped. It stayed stopped for AGES, and then we got an announcement that someone had fallen in front of a train at Potter's Bar, so there would be delays. This is always SAD, obviously, and I know there's nothing the rail companies can do about it, so we just settled into our seats to wait.

After AGES another announcement came on, telling us our train was CANCELLED. ARGH! About an ACTUAL THOUSAND people thus got turfed off and crossed the platform to wait for the next train, it was INCREDIBLY ANNOYING. We'd all got seats, had settled in, and now we were being DUMPED onto a whole other train which would undoubtedly be JUST as busy for a HORRIBLE journey home. There totally bloody IS something East Coast could have done about this i.e. NOT cancel the train for THEIR convenience, but leave it running for OURS.

My ANNOYANCE was added to when they announced that our next train was arriving... but on a totally different platform, so the Actual Thousand of us ALL had to dash all the way along the platform to stampede over a bridge. At this point I looked at my Network Rail App which told me ANOTHER train to London would be arriving five minutes after this one, being TRANE NINJAS me and Steve went for THAT instead. This was an EXCELLENT plan - we got proper SEATS and, though we had to wait for about another 40 minutes on the platform before leaving, so did the train we'd been TOLD to get onto. It must have been HORRID for the people in that one... but it was jolly pleasant for us, and the rest of the trip ZOOMED by. I will, however, still be claiming a refund!

Back in London, The Column In My Trafalgar Square had come to meet us, so there was much HOORAYING and HUGS before Steve headed off to The Lexington and we popped into The Parcel Yard for a cheeky/celebratory beer.

That evening we had CHAMPAGNE and a proper tea containing ACTUAL VEGETABLES and watched TELLY. Everything was gently slipping back to normality - in the words of Mr F Sinatra (via Messrs S Cahn and J Van Heusen), it's very nice to go travelling but it's oh so much nicer to come home!

posted 22/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Final Day
After the rock and roll antics of the night before we both arose late on Saturday morning, late even for Edinburgh, and there was a general feeling of hangover hovering over the household. This hardly ever happens when we're at The Fringe - massive lie-ins tend to cure most of them - but it WAS a bit of a late night.

Bleary eyed I set off to see one of the few remaining shows on my big list, a new adaptation of "A Matter Of Life And Death". It was all right - it felt very much like watching a very good school production, partly because the cast was so young and partly because it had the air of being put together by The New Young English Teacher, who was determined to play fast and loose with the story, throwing in as many ideas as he could. Some of them really worked, like having nearly all the characters dressed in pyjamas and making everything dreamlike, but it seemed weird to VEER away from the actual plot, characters, message and indeed ENDING of the original.

I did one last trip back up the hill to get the gear and then returned to the venue for our final show. It was a GRATE one to finish on - we had a nice big audience who gently warmed up to us and LARFED along a LOT, and we managed to banish HANGOVERS and go out on a HIGH. Amazingly we had exactly - EXACTLY - the right number of badges to give out, and got rid off ALL our CDs! Hoorah!

We packed up, said bye bye to the venue, and had celebratory pictures taken, THUS:

the view from the stage

the view from the audience

As we left we bumped into Charles, our excellent Venue Captain, and congratulated him on his Good Works. We then strolled off for a couple of beers with CHUMS where we discussed the oddness of our room being called "The Attic" when you have to go DOWN some stairs to get to it. "The Upside Down Boat", it was agreed, would be much more apt and lead to a lot less confusion!

Suitably refreshed, we took ALL the gear (including Prop Bag, which had lived in the back room of the venue for the past fortnight) home and then headed out for one last show - Storytellers at The Pleasance Courtyard. It was a BRILLIANT way to finish off - Sara Bennetto and James Dowdeswell were ace host/regular as ever, and we had a Star Studded cast of Katie Mulgrew, Deborah Frances-White (who did a HUGELY informative story about Hollywood) and Sarah Millican, who was utterly FAB. It was odd to be seeing someone SO famous in such a tiny room, but GRATE to find out she was so good!

We nipped into the Auld Hoose for One Last Pint on the way home and bumped into MORE chums for a chat, before going for One Last Dirty Pizza (we'd had no tea!) where amazingly we bumped into Mr Dec Munro, all round hero,on his way to take the Arthur Smith tour. It felt like he'd been SENT to bid us farewell from Edinburgh, and we went home for tea and WHISKY happy to have been so blessed, ready to get up PROPER Early (9am!) to get packed and go home. Our epic journey was very nearly at an end!

posted 21/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Indie Time
We began the day of our pre-penultimate show by LOAFING AROUND. For AGES - it was lovely! I then dragged myself out of the flat at about 1pm to head to the Grassmarket to see Sarah Hendrickx do her "Time Traveller" show. It had been picked by The Blurb On My Flyer but she'd not had time to see it, so I decided to go and see it FOR her.

I was very glad I did, as it was ACE. She advertises herself as "The Thinking Person's Sarah Millican" but I think "The Indie Sarah Millican" would be more APT, as she felt like someone from MY generation/inclination. She told some VERY funny, occasionally rude, often touching, stories but the whole experience was AMPLIFIED by having her mother-in-law in the front row, who joined in and took REMARKS with a huge grin throughout. It was dead good!

I did my now familiar STOMP back across town to the flat, where I picked up guitars and headed down to the Pleasance Courtyard to spend an hour with the Fresh Fringe Radio lot. They were doing a 24 hour radio challenge, which had begun at 10am that morning, so everyone was still in good health when I arrived. We had a FINE old time, including getting them to join in with Do The Indie Kid and several other shenigans. It was LOTS of fun - and they raised over 1000 by the end of the 24 hours. Well done team!

I popped into Holyrood 9A for a much deserved PINT, then met Steve outside the venue to see who was coming. We had an audience of SEVEN, and they were all BLOODY LOVELY. Possibly for the first time they had all come on purpose and LARFED throughout, it was a JOY to do the show for them!

Oddly though we did have two more people join us briefly - every day, as we stand outside the venue, we get people coming to see The C***ridge F***lights, and we always spend a lot of time organising them into a queue and explaining what's going on. It's a bit annoying - we've asked on a number of occasions for them to send one of their butlers - even a valet - down to help, but to no avail. We are, however, always "polite". If people want to get a glimpse of the next generation of Tory party leaders, who are we to complain? ANYWAY, we spoke at some length to two gentlemen of post-retirement age, explaining that we weren't F***lights, but that their show started at half six and there'd be a big queue. At half six these same two gentlemen wondered into our room... and stayed for ten minutes! I had spoken to them AT LENGTH earlier on, yet it took them ten minutes to realise they were in the wrong place

It was an AMUSING part of what was one of the NICEST shows we'd done so far, not least because Fran from Cheshire 4 Life had turned up - he's doing his "Scott Of The Antarctic" show in our slot from Sunday, and we thanked him for all the people we'd had in who'd got the wrong date but had stayed to see us anyway!

After we'd packed up there was a MEGA STOMP back to the flat to drop off gear then straight back out and across town AGANE to get to The Wee Red Bar at the Art College in time for the GUMS/Just Joans gig. It was UTTERLY ACE - GUMS were doing their first gig but sounded FANTASTIC, full of ace words and TUNES and ESPECIALLY a majestic use of Electronic Cigarettes to create JAZZ atmosphere. It's Martin From The Plimptons' new band, and he seemed surprised HIMSELF by how good it had been!

Also excellent were The Just Joans who did a HUGE set of HITS - man alive but they are one of the best live bands EVER, it was a gigantic ROCKING set, also featuring a bit of TEARS during "What Do We Do Now?" AMAZING scenes!

The best bit though was being back at an actual INDIE gig and seeing lots and lots of old PALS and indeed NEW pals, not least the aforesaid Just Joans, Mr Adam Smith, Mr E Argos and many many others. When I DEMANDED Belle & Sebastian ("just the good stuff though") Mr Disc Jockey obliged, and LO! there was much BOOGYING!

The only problem was that it had started SO early, at 7.40pm, that by midnight my body was convinced it was about 4AM and INSISTED I go home. It took me a while, as there was MUCH hugging!

Later, two ODD things happened. First of all i dropped my phone and mildly KNACKERED it (can't think why THAT might have happened, hem hem) and secondly Steve came home JUST as I was emerging from the LOO after a 3am WEE. This latter was odd because EXACTLY the same thing had happened the night before. Was he sitting outside the front door, WAITING for me to go to the loo before he came in? I would never suggest he was, but the evidence is pretty damning, right?

posted 20/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Steve Day
Thursday was a big Steve Day, as he was the official voice of the Fringe Voices twitter account. Every day they pass the BATON on to somebody doing the Fringe and they talk about their own experiences - thus Steve talked about flyering theory, BEER, flyers, the fact that review sites always seem to review the same shows as each other, and flyering experiences. The stuff about review sites was ESPECIALLY pertinent (and not just because none of them have reviewed us this time!), why would you want to be the tenth person to review a show that's sold out anyway when you could be the first to review something amazing that needs more people to go? Comedy reviewing needs its own Steve Lamacq!

The effects of this can be seen for shows like The Bravery Test, a one man show by Angus Dunican which I went to for my first show of the day. It was BRILLIANT - moving, funny, DELIGHTFUL - and yet there were only seven people there. It's a bit out of the way (at The Edinburgh City Football Social Club, a FANTASTIC, gorgeous establishment that reminded me very much of pubs from my childhood/The Buffs Club from the year before last, but CLEAN) but it's only five minutes from Princess Street, and totally worth it. A few big reviews could DESERVEDLY be filling the room - if you're up there this week go and see it, go on!

On my way back into town I decided to be Healthy/POSH and go to the John Lewis Cafe for lunch. It was nice - the view, as stated previously, is AMAZING - but I got stuck sat next to a family operating Modern Correct Parenting i.e. allowing their daughter to SCREAM AT THE TOP OF HER VOICE for twenty minutes, ignoring her so she would know this was not a method to get her own way. I'm all for this at home, but GOOD LORD it was a bit much when I was having my lunch. In John Lewis too, What Has The World Come To??!?

I then met Steve "Fringe Voices" Hewitt at Test Tube Comedy, run by Mr Dec Munro who had helped us so much the week before when our venue was closed. Steve was able to partly pay him back by manning the PA system at various points, and enabled an excellent show to go ahead. There was a LOT of interacting with the audience, with two particular nitwits in the front row who didn't realise - despite it being repeatedly pointed out to them - that the comedians could SEE them chatting during their sets, or taking pictures, or generally causing a kerfuffle. The funny thing was that, comedians being comedians, most of them hadn't been there for other people's sets so didn't realise that the ones before them had ALREADY spoken to the two twits, so all of them basically did the same interaction at the start of each set, so by the end the audience ALMOST felt sorry for the twits. Only almost though!

Hungry for even MORE ARTS I then went to see "She Was Probably Not A Robot", which was Quite Good. It was a performance PIECE, gorgeously DONE with the music and acting and very funny bits and lovely interaction, but as usual with this sort of thing I wanted a bit more substance to it. I think this is probably because a) I've seen SO MANY THINGS this fortnight and b) i judge all performance on the basis of Would You Get Away With Doing It First On The Bill At The Bull & Gate in 1998? I accept that this may not be the most valid method of assessing The Arts.

I then did my traditional stomp to and from the flat, arriving at the Dram House Upstairs a bit earlier than usual, then waiting a bit longer than usual to actually get IN. I was worried that the audience we were gently accruing would wander off, but they all followed us inside - in fact I think some people just got swept away with the excitement and came in to the wrong show, as they left 20 minutes in looking a bit confused!

Apart from that it was a GRATE show, huge fun to do and with LARFS aplenty. When it was done Steve and I nipped into the C Venue next door hoping for a cheeky half but, finding only a "cocktail bar" serving bottled lager two floors up, we divvied up the money and went our seperate ways. He in search of noodles, me once more to the flat before coming back into town for our Big Course Meet Up.

There's a whole BUNCH of people from SCHOOL up for the festival and most of us managed to get together for several DELIGHTFUL hours of discourse in the Library Bar at the Teviot. It was really nice to see everyone, though a little bit strange NOT to find myself walking back to Angel Tube station, as I always do after school.

I went home, but for Steve the day of LARKS was not over, as apparently he ended up on stage at the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society spending the interval on stage being NOT The Comedian Ben Target! He ended Steve Day as he began it: being ART!

posted 19/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Southsider Bookends
Before I came to Edinburgh I did a big list of shows I wanted to see. As the weeks have gone by this has changed - some have been added, and for some I've thought "Why did I ever want to see THAT?" - but generally I've ploughed through it, leaving a very do-able shortlist of Shows Remaining that I still wanted to get to.

Thus I set out on Wednesday morning determined to see one ... and almost immediately got waylaid by someone saying "Is that Mark?" It was Rob,one of Ray's friends from Brum, who was stood outside his pal's show waiting to go in. It was in The Southsider, starting in 2 minutes and called "Short And Swedes", an hour of "sweded" films (i.e. where people do home remakes of Hollywood films) so I thought "Why not?" and went in. It was dead good, and made me KEEN to do something similar myself!

I'd originally intended to stay out and see other shows, heading back to get GEAR after my last show of the afternoon, but changed plans to go back to the flat and get it BEFORE going to see "Sad Faces". It was a good job I did, as it over-ran slightly, but that was the ONLY thing about their show this year that was anything but EXCELLENT. For lo! we LARFED and LARFED throughout, also joined in, also GASPED at REVELATIONS, and had a fantastic time. Their shows are always ACE, and this was the best yet!

Back at The Dram House we spoke to a Real American, who SOUNDED a bit like Deirdra from our show (SPOILERS) and then greeted the aforementioned Rob who'd come to see us. For a LONG time it looked like he was going to be the entire audience, but in the end we had seven in, who were LOVELY, making for a hugely enjoyable and CHUCKLE-FULL show.

Two of the seven were pals of Steve, with whom we went for a quick drink. I stood in the pub AMAZED watching the SCOTTISH television version of commentary for the England VS Scotland game (it was DIFFERENT!) and we agreed that this might be a good time to make our annual trip to The Blue Blazer, to avoid any potential Nonsense around The Football. It WAS a good idea: The Blue Blazer is LOVELY!

Our day finished with a trip to see "Boris And Sergey", a puppet show featuring two puppets each controlled by three people, all clearly visible holding limbs and head. Beforehand we'd been told it was "AMAZING", but I wouldn't quite go that far. It was Quite Good - they used the oddness of the situation and did do very convincing movements, especially when they went slow motion, but it could REALLY have done with a) more actual story and b) less rubbish/embarrassing audience participation. As per, my enjoyment may have been grouchily depleted by sitting in a room full of excitable theatrical youths, GASPING at things!

It was PIDDLING with rain as we emerged, so the day fully ended as it had fully begun, by ducking into The Southsider for a quick one!

posted 17/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Act Three Commences
The second ACT of our Edinburgh Stay (THEATRE TALK) began to end on Tuesday, as The Days In My Week was booked to head home and thus the Window Of Wives began to close. We've been going OUT for breakfast every morning, being dead sophisticated, and on this final morning discovered a dead nice cafe, The Engine Shed, that was not only at the end of our road but also Vegetarian! Some places seem to like keeping SCHTUM about being veggie, thinking it will scare people off, but we'd have gone sooner if we'd known!

We trundled down to the station and tried the First Class Lounge - The Seats In My Lounge had bought an ACTUAL First Class ticket as the Bargain Offer she'd been intending to get had turned out, at the ticket window, to be unavailable, so we thought we ought to make the MOST of ALL available benefits. It was quite nice - i had a free cup of coffee!

The train turned out to be PACKED as a) the one before was cancelled b) there were hundreds of people going down for the England vs Scotland next day at Wembley. Apparently POLICE entered the train at York, but I think she was OK, though I was obviously SADFACE to the MAX as we said our goodbyes.

I didn't have much time for MOPING however, as my sister and family were in town, and when this involves FOUR NEPHEWS there is always a LOT going on!! After some lunch we SWARMED back into town to see "Captain Flinn And The Pirate Dinosaur." For some reason the posters had been catching my eye all week - can't think why...

It DOES look familiar, doesn't it? The show itself was FINE - it was full of kids so there was a LOT of noise and moving (NB in the audience) and tho the show itself did seem a bit knocked together, the Giant T-Rex was VERY impressive!

Unsure of what to do next I took everybody round the corner for an hour or so of CHAT (adults) RUNNING AROUND (nephews) in the Assembly's astro-turfed garden before heading back across town with Child Roadies in tow for the SHOW. It was another big (30ish) audience, but by CRIKEY it was a TOUGH one. "Cricket Applause" was much in evidence and though I think most people enjoyed it, it felt like HARD WORK at times!

Afterwards I HUGGED all available family members before they set off home and I went a) for a recuperative beer then b) back to the flat for TEA and a night off. It had been a day of many farewells, and I needed a KIP!

posted 16/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Climb Every Mountain
I've done a lot of walking while I've been here and paced many miles from show to a show, but I'd never actually climbed a MOUNTAIN to see a show...until Monday.

The Lava In My Volcano is from Yorkshire and thus LOVES hills, and so to celebrate the fact that she'd completed her target of 25 shows with a day to spare, we decided to climb Arthur's Seat and, if we timed it correctly, see Barry On Arthur's Seat. The trip started well, as there's an entrance to Holyrood Park at the end of our road, but then we got a bit confused about which direction to go in and ended up climbing a DIFFERENT hill. Or so we thought. On further investigation it turned out we WERE climbing Arthur's Seat, which mean that when we thought we'd climbed it before we'd been on the wrong bit!!

Coming from The Fens means I'm really not BUILT for hills, but we made it to the top pretty much in one piece where we found about FIFTY other people waiting for the show. Music was playing, but no-one was "in" the venue yet - Barry had set up a door frame on top of the mountain, which we entered through once he'd opened the venue! Some people preferred to sit "outside", so he picked the doors up and carried it OVER them, one by one, so he could then stamp their hands and count them as audience!

It was a GRATE show - he did ten minutes of "where are you from?" which normally I don't like but a) he did it in a really funny, nice way and b) we HAD all climbed up a MOUNTAIN to be here, so there were some interesting people! He talked about how he did the show EVERY day, even if it was raining and even if there was only one person there - this got a CHEER from our party! After twenty minutes of CHAT and getting us all to talk EN MASSE to people on other peaks he began the actual show, which was him reciting the poem Leisure, by William Henry Davies after which we all sat in silence, staring at the landscape, before giving "a round of applause for The World". It was MAGICAL!

After a bit more chat the show ended and we queued up to leave via the door before strolling and occasionally stumbling down the mountain. At the bottom we walked BAREFOOT on the grass, which ended up with me losing a SOCK. Not wanting to litter the environment The Grass In My Lawn went back to find it, while I, basically, COLLAPSED. Not, as I say, built for hills!

After going home for showers I did intend to drop The Hairs On My Head off at her NEXT show, John Otway's Big Band, but was so DONE IN I had to be dropped off myself for a cuppa on the way. Suitably refreshed i then nipped in to The Halfway House to be further refreshed, where I did some INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVE flyering - two chaps on the next table were going through a pile of flyers collected, so I gave them one of ours. They came!

Also at the show that evening were Mrs Hewitt Sr (i.e. Steve's Mum), two people that STEVE had target flyered (as he left they said to each other "Is this flyer drawn by John Allison?"),Alex from my course and various people who wandered in, seemingly LOST, again. One pair who came in for a bit sat at the back refusing to applaud, arms folded in Angry Gangster poses. They later turned out to be COMEDIANS - of course they did! The only people less willing to SMILE than gangsters!

Steve and Meg went to drop off Steve's Mum then we all four gathered once more in The Albanach for BEERZ before going our seperate ways yet again - they saw Knightmare, we saw PBH - before the pair of us tried to get another CURRY. Thwarted by them closing we finished The Food On My Plate's final full day at the festival with our traditional Edinburgh meal of Dolmio Extra Spicy Sauce, Pasta, Bag Of Salad and WHISKY. We know how to live it up!

posted 15/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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A Day That Ends With Curry
I was up bright and early (Fringe early i.e. 11am) on Sunday as I was booked to do Crunch The News again. I knew I was on the panel with the leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, one of the founders of the Yes To Independence Campaign, so thought it would be HILARIOUS to wear my "Team GB" t-shirt, but when I got there he turned out to be a very nice man indeed, full of REMARKS, who'd been to the Olympics too. I clearly have no future in Political Antagonism!

The show itself was lots of fun - I was sat next to Mr N Metcalfe, who was dead good, and we had lots of LARFS. I managed to put forward my counter plan to Scottish Independence i.e London Independence so that they stop annoying the rest of the country, and finished off with a SONG - years of experience of Comedy Shows has taught me that Comedy Audiences only like SLOW SONGS, so I did "It Only Works Because You're Here", which seemed to work all right. Also it was nice to get to sing it myself again, rather than letting Steve do it!

I met up with The Shops On My High Street to see a show about GHOSTS, which was good, and then to see a "Sci Fi" play, about which our opinions differed. One of us thought it was really good, and one of us (i.e. me) really didn't, but either way it felt CORRECT to see at least ONE actual PLAY done by students all wearing tights with Expressive Movement, Minimal Costumes and Supportive Parents. It was Proper Fringe!

Back to the flat for a) Falafels for Lunch (NICE) and b) collecting gear before heading back YET AGANE to do the show where, much to our surprise, we had one of the most LARFY and definitely the BIGGEST audience so far. It was a complete JOY to do that show, even though there were not sufficient MISTAKES to do any covering up. I DID manage to FINALLY find a way to make "Massive Banker" work properly, to my mind at least, and Steve, as United Statesman, also professed his love for The Woman-Droid SO CONVINCINGLY that it rather threw me!

We retired to Brewdog to count our CA$H, to celebrate that fact that we'd completed ALL of our outside commitments, and to meet WIVES, then went our separate ways once more. My team went to see Brian Appleton, who was dead good -i enjoyed it but by heck The Slides In My Presentation thought it was HILARIOUS, which was a relief to me as not only had I suggested it, but also it was her 25th show, thus meeting her TARGET! HOORAH!

We went home, dropped off the gear and then went to the Auld Hoose to await The Hewitts, for lo! we were going out for a curry together! Or at least, we tried to - Kismot was closing early as they were all KNACKERED (there's a lot of that about at the moment) post-Ramadam, so we ordered a take away and went back to the pub for twenty minutes while they cooked it. This idea seemed to cause some confusion with Steve, who for a time protested that we should go home instead. After checking his fingerprints - a Steve who refuses to go to the pub MUST SURELY be a CLONE or ROBOT - it turned out that his BRANE was thinking "But I've ordered a take away curry, surely I then nip home for a bit?" so we took him to the PUB to recover. It was a frightening moment!

And so the day ended with CuRRY and BOOZE and CHAT. Perfect!

posted 14/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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A Whole Lot Of GRATE Shows
Another day, another bunch of shows, and by heck we saw some GRATE ones on Saturdy. We kicked off with all four of us flatmates going to see "Big Daddy Versus Giant Haystacks" which was one of the best I've seen of the whole Fringe - even better than the very casual cat we saw sitting on the grass outside. It (the show, that is) was surprisingly moving, especially the big MATCH about two thirds of the way through. Hearing "We Shall Not Be Moved", cheering, booing, and especially especially shouting "Easy! Easy! Easy" was ENORMOUS fun - who knew that two middle aged men playing all the parts (including a couple of Celebrity Impersonations) using very basic props could be such fun eh? Afterwards they both stood outside to shake everyone's hand as they left, which was LOVELY - I loved it!

Myself and The Shows On My Schedule dashed across town to see "A Comprehensive Guide To The Roman Empire" arriving just in time for the start but not in time to get a seat, which made for a bit of an uncomfortable hour standing up in Bannermans, which isn't the nicest of venues. The show itself was dead good though, and full of FACTS!

The shows continued with a trip to The Pleasance Courtyard to see Mr Ben Moor doing "Each Of Us". I'd seen a version of this early in the year, but seeing the proper show, with all the music, the lighting, and the ACTING was gorgeous. He's got an incredible way with words, ladelling out fantastic phrases and hilarious ideas with every sentence, so you've barely got time to digest them before the next magnificent THORT comes along. It was ACE!

It was nearly Total Hero Team o'clock by this point, so I dropped The Drink In My Glass off at her next show (she was determined to see LOTS on this day, and despite the fact that the said show turned out to be FULL she managed to FLEX her schedule and see some others instead) and headed back for the GEAR. I met Steve at the venue, along with his sister and her family who'd come along to see us. The show went fine - just after halfway through (just after the halfway point of the entire run, in fact) some people wandered in who we assumed were lost, but stayed to the end, and Steve's nephew and niece seemed to enjoy it very much, which was a relief as they'd previously been big fans of Dinosaur Planet. If they'd not liked this one it would've been awful!

Steve and I then had an appointment to appear on Fringe FM, so toddled round for a pre-show pint in the Pleasance Bar. With all the SHOWS and DASHING ABOUT it was nice for the two of us to have a chance to actually catch up! We then went on the air and spoke to My Daniel Fawcett at SOME LENGTH on a VERY BROAD RANGE of subjects. We did the full version of "Total Hero Team" together (for the first time EVER - EVER!) but mostly just YAKKED. It was ENORMOUS fun - especially for us!

(UPDATE: you can hear the entire thing here)

I then ran round to collect The Licensee Of My Establishment from The Canon's Gait, where I bumped into PBH himself for a quick chat. The Prices On My Bill had been to see Addy Time, which she said was BRILLIANT - our conversation about it was so full of LARFS that I completely forgot my UKE, and had to run back to the bar to collect it. It was still there: PHEW!

After that PANIC I required a Recuperative Drink in The Albanach before heading home, KNACKERED. AGANE. Another long day, but by heck we'd seen some good stuff!

posted 13/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Show Must Go On
Friday started SO well!

We were up bright and early to go and see a show called "Shall We Just See This One?" which, apparently, had been in Chortle's Top Ten Most Off-Putting Fringe Guide Blurbs. However, market research (i.e. asking during the gig) showed that EVERYONE (including us) had gone BECAUSE of the blurb! The show itself was GRATE - very funny and very jolly, i RECOMMEND!

Being DEAD SOPHISTICATED The Words In My Blurb and I popped to The John Lewis Cafe for a cuppa, and found that it had an ASTONISHING view looking out to Leith from the top floor of the shopping centre. It's AMAZING - if you're ever in this incredible city I heartily recommend it - and the tea was nice too.

At this point we divided our forces, with The Hills In My Range going off to see another show and me heading for The Royal Mile, to do the Stand Up Tragedy podcast at The Soundcloud Booth. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, despite the COLOSSAL NOISE of everything going on around us. I did "Get Over It" and, for the first time, a fully joined up version of "Total Hero Team", then took part in some interview/discussion. As per I found everyone else was being QUITE SERIOUS about everything so may have over-GAGGED things a bit - every time I talk publicly with Comedy Types this ALWAYS happens, I'm supposed to be the Sensitive Artiste, not them! You can hear the results HERE.

We regrouped with Meg outside the Teviot and went to see "Eric and Little Ern". It wouldn't be The Fringe if we didn't see at least ONE Morecambe and Wise show, and this was a GRATE one. It very much raised the question: why aren't there loads of Morecambe & Wise Tribute Acts doing the rounds? I, and thousands of others, would PAY just to hear the jokes again! INDEED where we were sat we couldn't see the faces of the actors, but didn't NEED to - I've seen those routines so many times I know EXACTLY what they're doing at all points!

We went back to the flat to collect gear, had some tea, then headed to the venue. Everything was going SO WELL - look! there are The Pattisons who have come to see us, i thought, what a delightful and marvellous Fringe I'm having!

"The man said the show is cancelled" said Emma. "Oh my!" I thought, "what a foolish mix-up! I shall soon sort this out!" Someone from the venue was there who asked to speak to me in private... which turned out to mean stepping one foot away, so he could tell me that yes, they were closing our room from 6pm onwards for A Reason.

I got told off for speaking about it out loud 5 seconds later, so will not repeat the offence here, suffice to say that we couldn't use the room... although I could wander in and get our props, as i was determined we WOULD do the show. Somehow.

Mr D Munro, who'd been in to see us a couple of days ago, wandered past and became an INSPIRATION. On discovering what was occurring he DIVED into the entirely empty shop next door, where one person was busy folding some flyers, in front of two CLEARLY and COMPLETELY EMPTY rooms. She told him that we couldn't possibly use their huge empty rooms as there were other people coming in soon to help fold flyers. These must have been a) tiny b) intangible flyer folders, as we didn't see them when we looked back an hour later.

Undeterred, Dec emerged and said "Just do it in the street!" and so we DID! We took our 14 strong audience down the road with us to some steps and Did The Show Right There. PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF:

It was a Real Fringe Moment! As I said later (emailing someone in charge of Musical Theatre Awards), when you have a show trying to get back to the bare bones of What A Musical Can be, ESCHEWING large cast,big bands and complicated costumes, doing the show without even a VENUE is the logical next step. We totally did the ENTIRE SHOW - PROPERLY - for everybody, and everybody merrily sat there for a whole fifty minutes and watched. Steve directed the audience to only sit on ONE side of the stairs, so there was a constant flow of people going up and down beside our audience (including a TROUPE of Young Musical Artistes who arrived singing some songs from their shows... but then HALTED when they saw what we were up to) and also cars coming VERY close behind us and MANY people taking pictures. It was GRATE - Steve Did Not Like It to start with, but by the end we were RIGHT into it. HOORAH!

Show done we hugged the Pattisons, thanked everyone for coming, then nipped to the pub to celebrate. The Steps On My Stair and I finished our evening by popping back to the venue (and returning the props bag to the now deserted room) to see Johnny Awsum upstairs, who was ACE. He did a brilliant uplifting FUN show, which we initially thought would be waylaid by a STAG DO, but they turned out to be Very Well Behaved. It was three pensioners near the front who were Rowdy and Wouldn't Shut Up, but Mr Awsum handled them beautifully. We left with HUGE GRINS all over our faces!

Back home i got onto the emails to contact the Fringe Office, telling them what'd happened, including photographs, asking if they could get us some coverage. AMAZINGLY, several days later, we appear NOT to be on the front cover of The Stage. It is a SCANDAL!

posted 12/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Show Thwartings
The Edinburgh Fringe is rammed with literally BAZILLIONS (maths terminology) of shows, so you'd think it'd be easy to see LOADS, but the other day events seemed to conspire against us.

We got into town a bit early so popped to The Whisky Shop (NB not a show, actually a whisky shop) and then had a lovely half hour SAUNTERING up and down the Royal Mile. Sauntering is pretty much the maximum possible speed as you get apprehended by Nice Young Peope who are promoting their shows. I don't understand why people get so ARSEY about being given flyers - if you just take one it makes the flyerer SO happy, and you get to find out about all sorts of daft ideas that people have been planning all year. NOT taking a flyer just makes them a bit sad and you look like a miserable sod - everyone! Just take the flyers!!

Our own day of shows began with Dan & Dan Live. Anyone who's seen Dan & Dan's videos will know that there are some pretty fundamental technical difficulties to get over in order to do a LIVE show, but they did it fantastically well. The whole hour was a mind blowing technical feat, but it was also very very funny and a Proper Show, with a Proper Ending that I would LOVE to tell you about because it was SO CLEVER, but which you should really see for yourself, if you get the chance. It was ACE!

Then we went round the corner to see Nat Metcalfe who was facing his own technical difficulties, in the form of a DRILLING noise which had forced him to halt his show the day before. Luckily this didn't happen on our day and we had a DELIGHTFUL hour in his company, singing along to The Bit About The Theme Tune at the end.

It was here that things started to go AWRY. We went to get tickets for "Four Sad Faces" and a lady at The Pleasance pretty much DROVE us out of the normal queue, saying the box office at the back was much quieter. It was - because half of the two tills was BROKEN and, after waiting ten minutes, it turned out the OTHER was too. We eventually gave up and went back to find about a HUNDRED other people had joined the queue, so ended up not getting tickets - GRR!

After collected GUITARS and having some CHIPS we tried again,going to see a stand-up at The White Horse. As we sat down he came in and said "Guys, it looks like there's only three people coming..." at which point two more people came in. "Show time!" i thought, but still, after some moaning, he decided to cancel the show!! With five people there! At a free show! At The Edinburgh Fringe!! COMEDIANS!! He went on about how he had 30 people in yesterday and would probably sell out tomorrow, but what that had to do with US having turned up TODAY i do not know. We were both disgusted, and so sat in the bar and slagged him off while we finished our drinks. THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN WITH BANDS!

It was only when we left that I realised he'd been sat behind us. GOOD!

With our plans in disarray we headed off towards another show on the list, only to be accosted by TWO happy young flyerers who gave us Polite SELLS on their shows, with the result that The Text On My Leaflet realised she could see BOTH their shows, and did so - thus bringing up her daily average, servicing the quest to see 25 shows. PHEW! A victory for flexible planning AND delightful flyering!

I, meanwhile, strolled round the corner and up the hill to The Dram House Upstairs to do our show. It was RAINING and I had no pre-knowledge of anyone coming so wasn't expecting much, but ended up having a BRILLIANT show. We had a family in who'd come to see "Scott Of The Antarctic" (we get a few of these every day - it's the show from the Cheshire 4 Life chaps which is on after we finish) who LARFED UPROARIOUSLY at ALL the rude bits, so for the first time I got to STOP during "Come On Pussy" and do a PROPER innocent look of confusion. ACE. Also Steve, i think, is deliberately making one mistake a night so that he can PLEASE me with our In Character Recovery. It is making me VERY PLEASED INDEED!

After that we all regrouped at the confusingly named Assembly, George Square (NOT The Assembly Rooms, George Street which is RIGHT on the other side of town) which was a LOVELY area of Astroturf. Jenny and Dave rolled by, ALSO on their way to see Sara Pascoe, so we went in together. She was good - it wasn't the funniest show I've ever seen, but there's something about her that makes you more than happy to listen. I kept saying "engaging" on the way home, and I think that's as good a word as any to describe it.

KNACKERED again we headed home, while the Hewitts (Mrs M Hewitt having arrived at lunchtime) went for TEA. We all ended up back in the flat later on, looking through flyers and having an Intellectual Discussion, also glugging whisky. The Wonderful Window Of Wives was fully open, so this will doubtless be par for the course for the next week or so!

posted 11/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Record Breakers
This year The Shows In My Programme is DETERMINED to at least equal her record of 25 Shows Seen In A Fringe Visit, so we were up bright and early (NB Fringe Early, so around 11ish) to Breakfast Out (POSH) and then head for the first show. She was seeing "The Bravery Test" so I set her in roughly the correct direction and went round to Potterow for my Bright Club rehearsal.

For LO! It was my turn to do Bright Club and, once I found the right room, I had a run through of my talk on "How To Release A Single" along with some Actual Scientists. It seemed to work OK, and I was put down to go last... until a Mathematician did a BRILLIANT set with jokes AND romance. "Maybe you should be the tent pole in the middle, holding it up?" the organiser said to me. I was relieved - i would NOT have been able to follow THAT!

Concerned with the welfare of The Streets On My Map I then stomped into New Town to collect her from the show she'd been at (which she said was good) and escort her to the next one. I was VERY GLAD i did, as it turned out I'd written down the times wrong in our Huge List Of Shows and we'd missed it - if I'd not have been there I'd have PANICKED at the thought of her thus wandering LOST through the streets of Scotland, but as it was I was there when she said "I'll just stay here then and watch the next show." PHEW!

I went off to The Assembly Rooms, where Bright Club is located, and collected a load of flyers, as we were duty bound to do an hour's flyering. It was HORRIBLE - i don't mind exit flyering after shows, as people are already in motion and have just seen something similar to our show (according to me), but apprehending people in the street and thrusting flyers at them is AWFUL. And people can be SO MEAN about it too, I find it soul crushing. People At The Fringe! Just TAKE A FLYER, it won't kill you!!

We regrouped at the venue and then waited for an audience. It was BLACK WEDNESDAY, which is traditionally the WORST day for ticket sales (it comes after previews, then the first weekend, then Monday and Tuesday 2 for 1 days) but we still got about 15 in and they seemed ready to ROCK. It was all DEAD interesting- i learnt about SPACE EXPLOSIONS and Gender Recognition Software (from the chap whose show we'd missed early, coincidentally) and MATHS, and my bit seemed to go OK (but could, I must admit, have used some more practice). I merrily exit flyered afterwards, thanked the excellent organisers, and went for a quick BEER with The Lines In My Script to celebrate.

After that she headed off for another show (which was RUBBISH, it is reported) and I did yet ANOTHER uphill sprint to get the AXES from the flat before dashing downhill again for the show. Earlier I'd had an email from The Butterworths, who'd been flyering for us, saying they're met a very nice chap who'd known my back catalogue. Outside the venue I met the esteemed Mr Ben Moor, who said he'd met a very nice family out flyering for us. A Mystery Solved!

The show itself was yet ANOTHER lovely one with a decent sized audience (22, including lots of Young Women for some reason), featuring ANOTHER bunch of lovely pals and was a HUGE pile of fun to do. It really is going JOLLY well this year: Nothing Can Go Wrong!

I nipped out for a celebratory pint with Mr G Urqhart and Dr A Thomson, before nipping in to the second half of "There's More To Life Than Chips", the pretty good One Woman Show that The Woman In My One Woman Show was watching. TIRED by all the ACTION we decided this would be a sensible point to RETIRE for the evening, so went home for pasta and TELLY, happy in the knowledge that we were well on course to SMASH that record!

posted 10/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Opening The Window Of Wives
Days are beginning to slide into each other, and the wisdom of having an official Knower Of Which Day It Actually Is becomes clearer and clearer, but I'm pretty sure that the following events began on Tuesday, for Tuesday was the long heralded day when The Train On My Tracks would be arriving, and thus The Wonderful Window Of Wives would begin to open.

She wasn't due until after our show, however, so there was plenty of time for me to see MORE SHOWS. Me and Steve started with "Lah Di Dah - The Jake Thackray Story" at The New Town Theatre, a show which had been on BOTH our lists, and it was ACE. It was mostly Jake Thackray songs, done really really well, with very very lightly sketched snippets of biography. I thought it could have done with a bit MORE of the actual story, for people like me who don't know it, but I wouldn't really complain as this left more room for some BRILLIANT songs. I must go out and get some of his records!

We stomped back to the Old Town, where Steve went off to do his Comedy Club For Kids tech duties and I went to see "The Islanders" by A Mason and E Argos. It was BRILLIANT! It was the story of how the two of them ended up living together as teenagers and going on holiday, with Amy doing spoken word sections and Eddy (backed by Jim Moray, who was GRATE, especially when he SUBTLY evoked Billy Bragg) singing songs. It was Surprisingly Moving, evoking a weird nostalgia for that part of your life, but also making you (well, definitely me) think "God! Being young was AWFUL!!" It felt like a description of millions of relationships, and was BEAUTIFUL!

I did a quick bit of exit flyering, then RUSHED back up the hill to our flat to get GEAR and then met Steve back at The Dram House Upstairs. It was another good show, with our biggest audience yet. There were many small children, so a LOT of giggling and The Poo Joke got an EXCELLENT laugh! There was also more Covering In Character and even MORE of The Bucket Speech!

We gave some flyers to The Family Butterworth, who had offered to do some flyering for us, then I headed down to Waverley to collect The Trains On My Timetable. It felt like AGES since I'd been at home, but also like no time at ALL since we'd both last been together here... possibly because we made our first stop The Albanach, as usual!

We headed back to the flat, unpacked, and then nipped down to Red Fort for a curry (where, weirdly, they had an entirely different menu and staff) before finishing off with a swift pint in The Pleasance Courtyard. The Window Of Wives hard started to open, which means we're now PROPERLY into this year's Edinburgh Holiday. Let's ROCK!

posted 9/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Busy Busy Day
I knew Monday was going to be a busy busy day so I got up early to get it started. Well, I say "early", it was about 8.30am, and I say "got up" but I mean "sat in bed with the laptop". I had an article to finish off for those lovely ThreeWeeks people, so spent half an hour removing most of the bits being rude about comedians, sent it of, and then headed out of the door.

My first stop was The Cabaret Voltaire where I was taking part in Crunch The News, a sort of Topical Panel/Discussion Show. We sat around for an hour or so beforehand looking at the papers and discussing what stories we'd do - I, of course, did Doctor Who - and then we got up on stage in front of about 20 people to DISCUSS. It was REALLY good fun - everyone else was being A Bit Serious for most of the time, I thought, so tried to say some daft things, but couldn't resist having a RANT once or twice. The others said some Very Interesting things I must say - my THORTS were very much PROVOKED, which doesn't often happen at lunchtime!

I nipped back to the flat to put my first Festival Washload in, then headed across town to the Assembly Rooms, where Steve was doing Bright Club. It was a REALLY good show, especially the guy talking about the sociology of SUPERHEROES (who turned out to be a PROPER comics geek when I spoke to him later), someone else explaining MATHS using Die Hard Films, and of course our very own Mr S Hewitt, who spoke of BEER. So proud!

Not wanting to repeat the cross town HIKE again I got a taxi back to the flat - he drove straight past our flat because he was thinking about his daughter's wedding, aaah! - where I did a quick bit of IRONING, picked up the instruments, and strolled down to The Dram House for our show.

It was BLOODY GRATE! We had about 20 people in who LARFED throughout and, best of all, waved their arms in the air like they just didn't care during "It Only Works Because You're Here". It was probably our best performance yet, with an EXTENDED bucket speech and, my favourite, some covering up IN PIRATE VOICES when something went wrong. ACE!

It's also getting QUICKER - we've cut about ten minutes out just by knowing it properly! This meant that we had time to pack up and nip round (well, not nip - we got caught in The River Of Tattoo Goers, which is a very SLOW moving river) to The Bow Bar for my first beer of the day. We'd never been before, but will doubtless go again, as their beer range was WIDE!

And then it was time for our last port of call - Tricity Vogue's Ukulele Cabaret. What a BLOODY LOVELY gig this was - ukes were distributed amongst the crowd or playing and singing along, there were two ACE other acts, and my bit went dead well too. I did "Come On Pussy" (with its guest) and "Boom Shake The Room", during which the audience were DELIGHTFUL. I was very content not to "win", especially when the actual winners did a GORGEOUS version of "Wise Men Say", and then we all got onstage to play "These Boots Were Made For Walking". I emerged from it all with a BIG SILLY GRIN all over my face!

The busy busy day ended with a quick nip into The Auld Hoose again before bedtime. I think this'll probably be the busiest day for the whole trip this year, it was GRATE but flipping exhausting!

posted 8/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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A Whole Lot Of Shows
On Sunday I decided to get out there and SEE some stuff, so was out of the house at the ridiculously early hour of 12:40 to stomp down the hill to see "Making News". Phill Jupitus was good, Sarah Pascoe was good, and I bumped into chums Jenny and Dave outside, so we all got to have a good old CHAT about the play afterward. REVIEW: it was a bit rubbish.

Jenny and Dave went to catch a coach trip to an Immersive Experience, so I strolled across town to see Kriss Foster & Friend. Kriss had flyered me the day before, saying "MJ Hibbett! I'm coming to see your show!" Well, after that it would have been rude NOT to go, and I was EXTREMELY glad I did, as his show was BLOODY GRATE - open hearted, charming, and very very funny. I LIKED it!

On the way to his show I'd popped into the Smelly Comic Shop to drop off some flyers. I was pleased to find it still had that old fashioned Comic Shop Smell (festering paper and MEN) that you don't get that often any more, and the bloke on the till was a fine example of the levels of CHARM and SOCIABILITY that comic shops used to be so well known for. I expect he is given a GRANT or something as a piece of our Arts Heritage.

Anyway, I got a taxi back to the flat to pick up the guitar and uke, then strolled back to the venue for our own show. After our first night's BIG audience we were GIRDED for a slightly smaller group, and that's exactly what we got! The eight people seemed to enjoy it though, and so did we!

I very kindly VOLUNTEERED to take the gear back to the flat, where I JUST SO HAPPENED to see that they were unveiling the new Doctor on telly! What A Coincidence! I watched for a few minutes but couldn't stand the FILLING any longer, so left, only to bump into the Four Sad Faces chaps along the road. Tom from them saw me and shouted "Mark! It's Peter Capaldi!!" as one of them had JUST rung someone to find out. Peter Capaldi!! For the rest of the evening you could see Certain Varieties of people looking VERY happy. Peter Capaldi!!

Steve and I then went to see Richard Herring, who was EXCELLENT. This year I haven't been reading his blog, so most of it was new to me, and HILARIOUS.It was SO good that even the fact that I was sat next to a LOONEY - who GUFFAWED and SLAPPED his thigh and PUNCHED THE AIR at EVERY gag, before shouting it to his girlfriend sat next to him - did not distract from how ACE he was. And he gave away free DVDs too - all the best people are doing something similar!

We finished the evening by going to see Kunt & The Gang, who was ASTONISHING. I've seen him a few times but he's still STUNNING. You find yourself laughing at things that are SO APPALLING your entire BODY goes into shock, but he does it in such a LOVEABLE, even SWEET way, that you can't help yourself. This time Steve was sat next to some pillocks, but they left after talking at HIGH VOLUME for the first five minutes. There did seem to be a little bit of the Alf Garnet/Al Murray effect going on, in that I thought he might be attracting a part of his audience who were laughing in an UN-SHOCKED, "this is fine", sort of way, but that might just be me - I remember seeing him in a small pub in Lewisham with The Kooba lot, so seeing him in a big room PACKED with young people felt WEIRD.

Leaving the venue we both felt EVISCERATED, as if we'd been mentally cleansed by a shower of FILTH, and finished off with a pint at the Auld Hoose on the way home. It had been a long, PACKED day, but there was a whole lot more to come in the morning!

posted 7/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Curtain Up
Saturday dawned EARLY for us - or Fringe early,anyway, as we needed to get down to our venue to help set it up. We arrived just after 10am (EARLY) to find things underway, with perhaps a few too many people around. There was panic and leads missing and turmoil, but after a while we boiled down to a CORE TEAM of us, a very capable young man from a MUSICAL who talked like a hoodie but had the SKILLZ of a senior electrician, and Charlie our Venue Captain. There were errands to buy leads, lots of discussion, lots of GAFFER TAPE, but by 11:30 we had the PA system rigged up, the lights working, the backdrop up and the seats all set. It looked FANTASTIC!

That done we nipped back to the flat to fetch some flyers and then to the Pleasance Courtyard to meet Mr D Pickering. We're sharing flyers with his show, so handed over a huge BOX of them, and then retired within for lunch. Here we met Mr B Moor who very kindly gave me a copy of his BOOK - he did the first ever BIT of his new show, "Each Of Us", at a Totally Acoustic several years ago, and EXCITINGLY I'd got a mention inside!

We headed back to the venue to drop off our props, then went our seperate ways. This week Steve is teching at Comedy Club For Kids, so while he was doing that I crossed town once more to go and see Mitch Benn's show "37th Beatle". It was GRATE - an EXACTINGLY PRECISE look at various people who've claimed to be The 5th Beatle with jokes about some MINUTELY OBSCURE Beatles facts and several CORRECT opinions along the way e.g. he said that the only REAL "New Beatles" were Monty Python. CORRECT! He also did an acapella version of "Tomorrow Never Knows" looping his own vocals through his phone. He claimed that this could be seen as self-indulgence, but, speaking as someone who's TOURED an acapella version of "Revolution #9" I thought it was FINE.

I went and collected parents once more and then headed back to The Dram House where I found Steve already in the room, getting set up. Much to our surprise a whole HEAP of people turned up, including some PALS but mostly people we didn't know, not least someone who'd come because she's a John Allison fan! The show itself was GRATE - yes, there were a few bits that we didn't do PERFECTLY, but we handled it well, managed some heckling/dancing from the under 10s, and generally THOROUGHLY enjoyed it. The audience seemed to like it too, and afterwards there was a strange look playing on the faces of my parents. I do believe it was PRIDE!

We had a post-show beer before they had to head off for The Tattoo, and then Steve and I went in search of CURRY. We ended up in Kismet, handily placed a) at the end of our road b) next to The Auld Hoose, so while we waited for a table to come free we were able to a) drop our gear off b) get a CARTON of TAKEAWAY BEER to have with our (DELICIOUS) tea.

Thus full of the joys of FRINGE we decided to REWARD ourselves with a trip to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Theatre Company (ACE) before STAGGERING home once more, EXHAUSTED. I'd forgotten quite what a KNACKERING experience this all us, hiking back and forth across town, up and down hills, and doing an hour of CARDIO at 6pm every day, but by HECK it's a lot of fun!

posted 6/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Fringe Report 1
Greetings from the Edinburgh Fringe, where it's all going JOLLY well!

On Thursday everything was FINE. We sat in the same carriage as Arthur Smith, Rich Hall AND Adam Buxton on the way up, our flat turns out to be NICE, the flyers look GRATE (we met Dr A Thomson in The Auld House to collect them - a GOOD MEETING) and though it did take half an hour to get our TEA in Red Fort (apparently because of Ramadam making people KNACKERED) it was a DELIGHT to be back.

Things were a little less easy on Friday. We got to our venue, The Dram House Upstairs,at NOON ready to get everything set up,only to find out it wasn't actually FINISHED yet, with electricans and carpenters and painters buzzing around, DOING stuff. We were asked to come back at 5pm, so I went and collected my parents from the station (they'd booked to come up for the tatoo, only later realising they'd have the EXCITING CHANCE to come and see the show too!), dropped them at their hotel, and then returned at 5pm to find the venue still wasn't sorted. There was, however, a Free Fringe Welcome Party at 7pm, so we came back for THAT... only to find that it had been rescheduled to 8pm!

In the interim I'd booked some show tickets on my PHONE! I thought this was the height of modernity, until we went to collect them. I swiped my card and the ROBOT said "HELLO MARK HIBBETT" and printed them out automatically. I was AMAZED!

Thus armed with tickets I left Steve merrily chatting to Dec, one of our colleagues from the Buffs Club two years ago, and went and fetched The Parents. We were booked to go and see Richard Digance, who was Quite Good. Having been COMPARED to him for years it was nice to actually SEE him, and he was dead funny, but also rather NERVOUS throughout. It was quite sweet really - he's been doing gig and telly for DECADES, but had never done The Fringe, and seemed to be SCARED of it!

We had a couple of post-show BEERS and then said our goodnights, with me returning to ou venue to find Steve sat in EXACTLY the same seat I'd left him in over three hourse ago. He claimed to have moved about and talked to people, and who am I to say otherwise.

So ended our first full day in Edinburgh. We didn't have a venue yet, but we'd certainly had some FUN!
posted 5/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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None More Sleeps
You find me this morning a little AWESTRUCK for LO! the day has finally come when we actually GO to Edinburgh! Not the day when we think about it, or have a little bit of a practice, or worry about poster design, no - the day we actually GO!


There are thus a succession of PANICS to get through. Obviously getting to the train is the first - I've got a suitcase, CDs to give away, a guitar, the prop bag, and sundry ITEMS to get me through the next 2.5 weeks, all of which need LUGGING on the tube to St Pancras on one of the hottest days of the year. This year should be a bit less ridiculous than previous times, as I don't have a) 2,500 really heavy flyers to carry nor b) a great big EASEL/Giant Robot Heads, but still, i'm expecting SWEAT!

Once we're ON the train it's RELAXATION (apart from some LINEZ practice) until we GET there and PANIC 2 kicks in - getting into the FLAT! Will anyone be there to let us in? Will it be nice? How many TV channels will it have? We'll recover from THAT panic with BEER I should think, before we get to PANIC 3 on Friday - the VENUE! Apparently they're still BUILDING it at the moment, so I expect a full day of dashing around and WAITING for things, before we go and COLLECT our flyers from Dr A Thomson, who has very kindly received them for us, and then go and collect my PARENTS, who are in the HOOD for a couple of days.

And then the final major PANIC comes on Saturday when we do our first show - we're on at 6pm at The Dram House Upstairs everyday so do come along and see us if you're in the area won't you?

After all THAT panicking's done I can finally have a proper relax, although AMAZINGLY this year I seem to have a TONNE of other things to do, some of which are listed on the gigs page, some of which are not finally finalised yet. I will, as ever, be BANGING ON about everything on the twitter so do have a look there if you're interested, and I'll do my best to provide regular updates here.

It is about to HAPPEN! PANIC!!!

posted 1/8/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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