2016 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August began for me with a trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard United in the opening game of the Irish League season.

The following day, I ventured to Cupar Way to check out the Peace Wall in Belfast, something I do every six months to have a look at the Street Art.

After that, came a triple whammy if Irish League matches, taking in Linfield’s games against Coleraine, Crusaders and Glenavon.

That was then followed by a triple whammy of concerts – Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Belsonic, then Red Hot Chili Peppers at Vital.

The month ended with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Belfast Peace Wall

Belfast Peace Wall Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

Madness live at Titanic Belfast

Madness live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Catfish and the Bottlemen Photo Album

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at Titanic Belfast

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Red Hot Chili Peppers live at Boucher Road Playing Fields

Red Hot Chili Peppers live at Boucher Road Playing Fields Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

WEIRD AL YANKOVIC – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 7.10.2015

There are some concerts that, as soon as they are announced, you have to just stop everything to make sure you get a ticket. This was one such concert.

For me, like many others in the venue, it was an opportunity to see Weird Al Yankovic live in the flash.

I had been hoping he would be a residency at the Edinburgh Festival one year, I never thought he would venture to Belfast.

There was a Dublin concert announced. I decided to hold out and hope for a Belfast gig. My prayers were answered.

This concert was announced in mid February. It had been a long seven and a half month wait for this night.

As fans waited for him to appear on stage, a fire door was opened in the venue, prompting speculation of a grand entrance. Or maybe people were reading too much into it? Sometimes, a fire door would be opened to let a bit of fresh air in, or to let a member of the road crew in or out.

His band appeared on stage but Al was nowhere to be seen. Eventually, he appeared on the LED screen in the background, standing in a street. On closer inspection, that street looked familiar, it was Linenhall Street, just around the corner from The Limelight.

He then casually walked into the venue from the street nearby singing Tacky, his parody of Happy by Pharrell Williams, embracing all forms of tackiness.

Who is Weird Al Yankovic? You need to be told?

Simple really, he’s a singer, but he does comedy versions of songs that are in the charts. It’s often said that you haven’t made it until Weird Al Yankovic parodies you.

He also does Accordion driven hits medleys, known as Polka …….. with a varying suffix.

He lifted his Accordion in the air, like a weapon, the crowd screamed “POLKA!!! POLKA!!!”, he simply replied by saying “How did you read my mind?” before doing a medley of hits from 2014.

There were quite a lot of costume changes inbetween songs, there had to be, it wouldn’t have worked if he wasn’t in character when doing his parodies. The LED screen on stage filled the time with a compilation of his appearances in TV shows and movies (Guest appearances in The Simpsons and The Naked Gun are on his CV, though is Simpsons appearance wasn’t shown) and sketches.

He didn’t need to win over the crowd, he was preaching to the converted. They knew the words to every song and sketch.

His new hits were prominent, Word Crimes (Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke), Handy (Fancy by Iggy Azaela) and Foil (Royals by Lorde) as were his classics, the biggest cheer came for his food related Michael Jackson parodies, Fat and Eat It.

All his biggies were there, parodying Nirvana, Lady Gaga, Joan Jett, Queen, Backstreet Boys, Devo, Green Day, Madonna, Billy Joel, Coolio and Chamillionaire.

The crowd were loving it as Al shouts “DO YOU WANT SOME MORE?” and is met with a reply of “YES!!!!” before replying that he can’t because of a host of logistical reasons, before leaving the stage.

He was only winding them up, as he came back on for an encore, dressed in Star Wars cosplay and joined on stage by dancers dressed up as Darth Vader and Star Wars, performing The Saga Begins, a synopsis of Star Wars set to the tune of American Pie.

Photo Album

EDINBLOG 2014

A few weeks back, I headed to Edinburgh to take in the Fringe Festival. It was the 6th successive year i’ve attended it. Not going to lie, I love this event, that’s why I keep coming back.

Usually, I arrive in the city on a Saturday, but this year I made it a Thursday to Monday trip. I’d consider myself to be an Edinburgh Veteran, so the trip began in usual fashion – an early morning flight, then a trip to the Ticket Office.

It’s a bit of a risk to wait until arrival to buy tickets, as a lot of shows sell out quickly, I usually find it easy enough to get a good schedule.

It might sound sad, but I plan what I want to see, and have back-up options, just in case.

I didn’t get some of my first choice options, so I had to switch some of my schedule around to accommodate other nights which had tickets available.

I decided to keep some windows open in order to wait and see what to get to fill those gaps, later in the trip.

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Edinburgh ………. they have Trams!!!!

It’s a sad development for the world of comedy, as in previous years, comedians weren’t slow in putting a gag or reference to the much delayed tram line.

As a result of delays getting my baggage, I missed out on being in the audience of MacAulay and Co, which I had a ticket for that morning. Frustratingly, David O’Doherty was a guest that day.

I try to get a mixture of people i’d seen before, and people I haven’t seen. David O’Doherty is one I have to see everytime i’m in Edinburgh. I tried to get tickets for his show but it was sold out, which made it even more frustrating.

I’d planned to see my first show that afternoon, a musical of the movie Ghostbusters, but I got lost trying to find the venue (yes, even Edinburgh Veterans get lost sometimes) and missed it.

Later that evening, I went to my first show of the Fringe – Tedfest, a show based on the Festival/Fan Convention of the TV show Father Ted.

It had a World Cup style comedian battle, a talent show, and of course, a (mock) Lovely Girls Competition. It had it’s moments, most notably when the compere asked people to stand for the national anthem, and “Ghost Town” by The Specials was played, but overall, it just wasn’t that funny.

Friday began with MacAulay and Co, always a pleasure, with guests that day including Alun Cochrane and Tom Rosenthal.

On Friday afternoon, I went to see a show called The 56, a show about the Bradford Fire in 1985.

There was no plot, just three actors reading and acting out real life testimonies of people who survived the fire. It was well acted, to the point where it felt like a hard watch at times.

I got lucky with my dates, that Paul Merton was performing when I was there. Paul Merton only does a few dates in Edinburgh each year, and some years i’ve missed out on seeing him because the dates didn’t match.

The show, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, sees him, and collaborators, including his wife, performing Improvised Comedy.

That evening, I went to see Frisky and Mannish. I’d had them recommended to me in previous years, and finally decided to go and see them in 2013 …… except, they didn’t have a show that year.

Their show this year, was a musical comedy looking at popculture and it’s best meltdowns, and how they struggled to come up with an appropriate anthem for feminism. They were very funny, especially when they sang all of Sinead O’Connor’s unpublished open letters to various pop stars.

My next show on Friday was Margaret Thatcher : Queen Of Soho, a musical comedy about how Margaret Thatcher became the Queen of Soho.

Margaret Thatcher is the lead character, telling her story, in a laugh a minute show, which isn’t afraid to make fun of her, as she offers a bottle of milk to an audience member, and gets into an arguement with fellow cast members, and tells them “I won’t hesitate about making people unemployed”

When asked by one of her staff is she should screw over the Lib Dems, she simply replies “No, we might need them some day”

There is also a talking picture of Winston Churchill.

From there, I headed to the Comedywealth Games, presented by Mark Watson. I’d wanted to see Mark Watson’s show, so this was the next best thing.

Comedywealth Games was, unsurprisingly, a comedy version of the Commonwealth Games, where comedians competed against each other in a range of events, none of which were athletic based, including sock pairing, eating fruit on a treadmill, and a sack race.

The night I went had Mark Steel representing England. Romesh Ranganathan was due to represent Sri Lanka, so Mark Steel’s son Elliott took his place. It was the day before his 18th birthday. As the show began after 11, he celebrated his birthday midway through the show.

The final competitor was Andrew Maxwell, from the Republic of Ireland.. As Republic Of Ireland is not a member of the Commonwealth, a draw was made to assign him a country. He was assigned Kiribati.

After spending some time on Wikipedia before the show Andrew Maxwell was now a patriotic Kiribatian.

Star of the show, was an audience member called Darren, who was picked to assist the competitors. He was “slightly worse for wear” and spent most of his time swearing and making rude gestures.

The crowd loved him, and chanted his name everytime Mark Watson asked for a member of the crowd to assist.

For the record, England and Kiribati were level on the medals table, with England winning 2-1 on a Rock/Sissors/Paper Play-Off.

The first part of Saturday was mostly football dominated, having a pub lunch to watch Man United v Swansea, then to see Sid Lowe do a talk about his book, Fear And Loathing In La Liga, a look at the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

That evening, I went to see Axis Of Awesome. I’d previously had them recommended to me. It was a musical comedy, very much in the style of Flight Of The Conchords, with each member taking it in turns to be the butt of the others jokes.

The highlight of the show was when they performed “4 Chords“, a series of pop classics to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, showing how so many songs use the same 4 chords.

I had an unexpected bonus on the Saturday night, as David O’Doherty performed an extra show at 11pm, due to demand. It was classic O’Doherty, with his surreal sense of humour having the crowd in stitches.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Tynecastle watching Hearts v Hibs. From there, I had a very long walk to see John Lloyd’s Museum Of Curiosity, a very QI type show, unsurprisingly, considering that John Lloyd was the creator of QI.

My final show, came on the Sunday night, called “What Does The Title Matter Anyway?”, though it was listed in the festival programme (published in early June) as “Whose Live Show Is It Anyway?, which sounds a bit like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

It was hosted by Clive Anderson, who hosted Whose Line Is It Anyway? and featured Whose Line ….. regulars such as Greg Proops and Stephen Frost.

Anderson, a former lawyer, was quick to point out that this show was totally different from Whose Line Is It Anyway? I feel it’s only fair to repeat what he said.

Whatever the legalities, the audience didn’t care about that, they were only there for laughs, which they got, from the mapcap and surreal situations the show provided. It was a good way to end Edinburgh 2014.

I always keep meaning to explore Scotland when i’m there, possibly taking a day trip to Glasgow or Stirling. But there’s so much going on in Edinburgh, it seems a shame to leave the city while you’re there, even for a day.

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009

EDINBLOG 2013

As per usual in August, I headed to Edinburgh for the festival. It was quite later in the month than my recent visits. From my experience, it’s usually best to visit during the middle of the month, but in truth, there’s never a bad time to visit.

It was a double milestone for me, 10 years since my first visit (albeit, I was working) and my 5th proper visit overall.

It was an early start for me due to the early morning flight, but the advantages of it were that I got to the ticket office early.

It might sound sad, but it’s best to get a copy of the programme before you go and plan what you want to see day by day, and make it so much easier when you go to get tickets.

You can book online in advance, but I prefer to purchase when I arrive. For some of the bigger acts, it’s harder to get a ticket at such short notice, but you mostly get at least 90% of what you want.

Tickets purchased, I checked in, and headed out in the city. Comedy, however, was parked for the moment, as I headed to Easter Road to see Hibs take on Dundee United. It wasn’t the best of games, which is unsurprising considering it was a meeting of two struggling sides, though it did liven up after a double red card.

After that, I had a bit of spare time, before heading to the Book Festival and was pleasantly surprised to pick up a last minute ticket for John Taylor (Yes, John Taylor of Duran Duran) reading excerps of his autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove.

Taylor didn’t really need to do much to win the crowd over, they were hanging on his every word, speaking about his teenage obsession with his favourite bands, most notably Roxy Music, then becoming obsessed with Sex Pistols, speaking of his pain about having to put up with Nick Rhodes reminding him at least once a month that he saw Sex Pistols live in concert, while Taylor didn’t.

When it came to the Q and A section, there were people who could barely speak, such was their excitement of getting to speak to their idol. He didn’t quite confirm it, but he didn’t deny it when pressed on rumours of a Duran Duran tour in the summer of 2014.

My first full day, Sunday, saw me head towards Guilded Balloon to see Grainne Maguire do a show about a TV guilty pleasure …….. Election Night.

After 2010 UK General Election, 2011 Stormont Elections and 2012 US Elections, I was a wee bit electioned out, but to be honest, I wouldn’t mind another election soon.

Her stage was set up on a political theme, complete with a swingometer, and pictures of political broadcasters such as David Dimbleby and Jeremy Paxman, with a beard topically drawn in with permanent marker.

After comparing it to “Eurovision for Politics Nerds”, she observed that life situations are just one big election, bemoaning that she is yet to win the seat she wants …….. Favourite Maguire Child.

From from one G, it was to three G’s for The Ginge The Geordie The Geek at Just The Tonic. I’d seen them advertised on my past visits and heard good reviews but had only now decided to take a chance on them. It was well worth it.

It was a simple formula, quick sketches with a range of humour from the surreal to the sick, such as a police horse facing a disciplinary panel. Best sketch was when they audition as dancers, and when told to finish and go home, interpret them as dance instructions and do hand gestures based on it.

For my Sunday evening show, i’d originally planned to see Andrew Maxwell, but decided to see David O’Doherty as his Saturday show was sold out.

I’d previously seen Maxwell in May, though it was a very Northern Ireland specific show, I knew if I did go to see him in Edinburgh, it would have been a different show.

It’s the law that you have to see David O’Doherty when in Edinburgh and he didn’t disappoint, commenting on all that is wrong with the world, having seen the two things he believes in, church and state, let him down, consoling himself with the fact he still had Professional Cycling.

From there, I went to see Marcus Brigstocke at Assembley, where I spotted Clive Anderson queueing up to see him. I was trying to stifle the laughter, as all I could think of was the Brass Eye sketch of him and Noel Edmonds.

Brigstocke was a largely autobiographical show, the highlight of which was where he tried and failed to try out new material when in the doctor’s, even though the doctor declared he was a fan.

Monday morning began with MacAulay and Co, BBC Scotland’s mid morning show. It was filled with guests from the festival, giving a showcase to acts you might not have heard of.

The downside of buying tickets when you arrive, is that you don’t have much room for manoeuvre if you change your mind and want to see something different.

From there, I dashed to Assembley Rooms to see David Schneider discuss if the internet is making people more stupider. It was essential just a Best Of Lamebook show, but it was still enjoyable, as Schneider observed that Twitter is essentially cute pictures of animals, and pictures of things/people that look like Hitler.

After a bit of lunch, it was Pleasance for the rest of the day, seeing Gyles Brandreth discuss the persuit of happiness, and noting his unhappiness at seeing a personalised copy of a book he wrote appearing in a second hand shop days after giving it as a gift.

From there, it was Newsrevue, a musical satire about the news, sometimes straying into dodgy ground, but still being funny.

Later in the evening, I saw Tom Rosenthal, star of Friday Night Dinner and son of ITV’s Jim, with a tale of trying to blend into Bulgarian culture when spending time in the country filming. He managed to slip in puns and punchlines subconsciously without lingering on them too much.

It was enjoyable enough, without being laugh a minute.

Next, was The Boy With Tape On His Face. Brilliantly funny last year, and the same this year, though if I was to see it for a third time, might be too much.

Tuesday morning was spent at a Podcast hosted by Shaun Keaveney. He does better bouncing off people than performing solo, his guest that day was John Lloyd, creator of QI and Blackadder.

From there, I went to see Football Manager Ruined My Life, an amusing enough tale of becoming addicted to the video game, with the jokes making sense if you’ve ever played the game

Next, was a play, A Complete History Of The BBC, being set in a shed where a BBC enthusiast called Terence, who is currently trying to create a BBC museum, one of the articles is the tub of Lard which replaced Roy Hattersley on Have I Got News For You.

The highlight of it is the exchanges between Terence and his wife Ingrid, who doesn’t quite share his passion for the BBC, and makes the mistake of suggesting that Doctor Who is a kids show.

Tuesday night, was Jason Byrne, with an autobiographical show (seemingly a theme this year) the highlight of which was the awkwardness when his dad accidentally slept on a packet of Rolos, causing much panic from his mum.

Wednesday morning was spent at MacAulay and Co before going to see When I Grow Up by Juliette Burton, a tale of trying to live out childhood fantasies of the jobs she wanted when she was younger, and finding they weren’t quite as she hoped. Though, there was a happy(ish) ending.

There was a bit of a gap before my next show (I went to see Alpha Papa in the cinema in the afternoon) that night of Kunt and the Gang, which as the name suggests, isn’t exactly family entertainment.

Never mind sailing close to the wind, he sailed into the wind. Not for the easily offended, which, thankfully, I am not.

Thursday morning was spent at Shaun Keavaney’s Pleasance Podcast, which was marred having Nick Helm as a guest, as most of the exchanges were excruciatingly awful. Thankfully, the next guest, Johnnie Walker, was a lot more entertaining.

Then, it was time for Amnesty’s Secret Podcast. Not awful, but not brilliant.

Thursday night, was spent in the EICC watching Jason Manford’s show, First World Problems discussing, well, the little things that annoy us.

The highlight of which, was Manford chasing after a man who headed to the toilet during the last joke, dragging him to his seat and insisting he stays there for the joke.

Next up, was Ed Byrne, with (another) autobiographical show looking at life now that he has just turned 40. It was an enjoyable night and an enjoyable end to an enjoyable week in a city that always raises a laugh.

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009

EDINBLOG 2012

For the 4th successive year, I headed to Edinburgh for the Festival. After booking it, I did start to have second thoughts, mainly because I was worried about repitition. How wrong I was.

I flew out at 7am on the Saturday morning, which always sounds like a good idea when you book it. What this ridiculously early arrival did mean was, that I could get a prime position at the Ticket Office when it opened at 10am.

Last year, I managed to get everything I wanted. This year, I had some disappointments, as i’d hoped to see John Peel’s Shed, Adam Hills and Marcus Brigstoke, but they were all sold out unfortunately.

My first show that I saw was that afternoon, ‘The Boss Rules’ by Sarfraz Manzoor talking about his Bruce Springsteen obsession, and how the lyrics to Springsteen songs can offer guidance to any situation in life.

Not a comedian, Manzoor did have some comic gems, recalling his musical tastes pre Springsteen growing up in Luton, joking that he naively thought people were sharing his love of AOR by shouting “FOREIGNER!!!!!” at him.

He jokes about the negative images of his hometown, as the origin of the EDL, that their leader is so racist, he runs a Tanning Salon, the only place where you will never see a Black or Asian person.

He speaks passionately of his Springsteen obsession, thinking nothing of travelling across the world, even to the point that Springsteen spots him in the crowd at Pittsburgh and asks “What are you doing here?”

Having recently become a father and this change has meant a lot of financial sacrifices, with his own brand of Brucanomics, ruefully observation that the money he spent on a highchair could have got him flights to Mainland Europe or Scandinavia to see Springsteen in concert.

Overall, it was a very good show, and you don’t need to be a Springsteen fan to get the gags.

Next show that I saw was Mark Watson. He was on my reserve list but his show was excellent. You may recognise him from the Panel Show circuit and he has the same bumbling demeanor as his TV appearances.

The show is called ‘The Information’ and focuses on interaction and information organisations have of us. He began by recalling a story of how he overheard two audience members having an argument, that one didn’t want to go so her boyfriend said that they could leave at the interval and got to Nandos.

That was his competition, chicken …….. and not even a high quality of chicken.

It just so happened that they were in the front row, and he used this information against them. You never quite know what direction he is going in when he performs, which is no bad thing.

That night, I went to see The Boy With Tape On His Face, which was originally on my reserve list. It turns out missing the shows I wanted was a blessing in disguise, he was fantastic.

As the name suggests, he has a tape on his face. He doesn’t say anything, it’s all physical comedy (often using his emotions to signal approval or disapproval), using audience members, props and musical assistance.

The first observation, was that he stood on stage as the audience entered the arena, eyeing them up for possible participants.

Best moments were when he had a stapler shoot-out with an audience member with a balloon under each arm and one inbetween the legs, and using a tape measure as a light sabre to recreate Star Wars.

The following day, I went to see Hibs play Hearts. Go on, joke about me going to see an SPL game during the middle of a comedy festival.

A blog about the match can be found a few posts back.

From there, I was Pleasance (My favourite venue. One year, I will spend a whole day there) bound for One Rogue Reporter by Rich Peppiatt

Rich Peppiatt always wanted to be a journalist, but not for the reasons most people want to be a journalist. It was the long hours and low pay which appealed to him, as it was a proud Peppiatt tradition to do jobs that they hate.

In his words “It was one low point after another”

Peppiatt is probably best known for leaking his resignation letter when leaving Daily Star.

The show’s title, in his words “Is stolen, in fine tabloid tradition”

It comes from the Leveson Inquiry, which provides a lot of material for the show.

Peppiatt weaves between speaking and introducing video clips. The clips were often Brass Eye-esque surrealism, poking fun at senior media figures.

Daily Express editor Hugh Whittow stated at Leveson that somebody should have intervened regarding a series of stories about Madeline McCann.

So, Peppiatt blutacs a series of print-outs of these stories onto Whittow’s car, and when challenged, nonchalantly replies “You should have intervened”

The highlight is his stitch-up of Kelvin McKenzie. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t seen it, but it is worth the admission fee alone.

That night, I went to see Jim Jefferies, an Australian comic, not the former Hearts manager.

I didn’t know much about him, but he did have some brilliant reviews, so I took a chance. Laugh a minute stuff, but not for the easily offended.

A routine where he dreams of being widowed purely to get sympathy shags off women sets the tone for the rest of the show.

My final show on the Sunday Night was a show called ‘Guardian Reader’ …… it was utter wank.

I’d thought it might be good as a witty analysis of lazy stereotypes and cliches, it barely referenced The Guardian. It was just a rollcall of crap jokes and anecdotes about the performer’s failed teaching career.

All his ‘jokes’ were read off a page, and he even laughed at his own jokes.

I made my excuses and left after ten minutes. Not sure if the other 12 people in the room stuck it out.

Many performers took Monday 13th off, making it problematic for shows, as it was mostly acts I wanted to see.

That afternoon, I went to see ‘My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver‘ by Toby Hadoke, about a Doctor Who obsessive learning to bond with his deaf stepson through the medium of Doctor Who.

His fame as a Doctor Who obsessive saw him appear at a fan convention on February 14th this year, which he joked was a good date to hold a Doctor Who convention as “Doctor Who fans don’t usually have plans on Valentine’s Night”

Even though he’s a Doctor Who obsessive, he gets annoyed at people who automatically think he’s likes Star Wars, angrily stating “I’m not a geek” and thanking Doctor Who for scaring his kids, meaning he hasn’t needed a babysitter since March 2005.

Having a deaf stepchild, he has learnt sign language, and even created Doctor Who related sign language terms.

He describes watching Doctor Who with subtitles, that the opening credits simply says *DOCTOR WHO THEME* and expressing his sadness that he will never hear such an iconic TV theme tune, even if he watched every episode of Doctor Who, the room fell silent.

That silence was soon turned into laughter with the punchline “which he will do, because I have an week long Whoathon planned for his next birthday”

From there, I went to see ‘Man 1 Bank 0‘, a true story about a man who jokingly deposited a junk mail cheque, which amazingly cleared.

1-0 is of course a football score, a hard fought victory. To use a football analogy, this was an FA Cup giantkilling as the story went from end to end before it’s star, Patrick Combs, eventually was victorious, and $93,000 richer.

That night, I saw Rhys Darby live.

Best known as Murray Hewitt from Flight Of The Conchords, he’s not afraid of typecasting, arring on stage in a spacesuit, where a robot voice welcomes him, he asks “Is that you Jermaine?” (in reference to his FOTC co-star Jermaine Clement)

This robot is called Al, which he explains by singing “You Can Call Me Al” much to Darby’s annoyance

In the show, Darby reminisces about his schoolkids, when he and his friends were known as the “Dicks Club”, so they claimed it for themselves.

The finale involves him dancing to ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer’, which he renames “Rhysie Is A Dancer’

Monday night should have been renamed New Zealand Night, as I went to see Jarred Christmas afterwards.

He was funny throughout, and like Darby, spent a lot of his show dancing. Must be a New Zealand thing.

The BBC broadcast shows at the festival, and I was lucky enough to get tickets for MacAulay and Co on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, where Jarred Christmas was a guest (twice in 12 hours) and Des Bishop proved that anyone can have a hip-hop hit by sampling an already popular song, and showed by doing a rap about stalking an ex on Facebook and sampling ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele for the chorus.

After that, I was in the audience for Festival Cafe, where Schlomo was a guest.

My first proper show on Tuesday was a show called ‘Superheroes’, which I thought might be a funny look at comicbook superheroes. It wasn’t. It was a man who should be old enough to know better playing with toys and shouting a lot.

I managed to sneak out after fifteen minutes. The other nine people in the audience were not so lucky.

From there, I went to see Jimeoin at the EICC, which is the Wembley of the Edinburgh Fringe

To be honest, the show was disappointing. It was funny in parts, but not riproaring.

Next up was David O’Doherty at Pleasance. There is a 30-40 minute walk from EICC to Pleasance, my best bet was a taxi. I’d been quoted fifteen quid for a Pedicab, but I knew I was being ripped-off as I travelled a similar distance on Sunday for just under a fiver.

I started walking in the hope of hailing a cab.

As a cab drove past me, I saw it picking up fellow hailers ten seconds in front of me. I chanced and ask where they were heading, they replied Pleasance. Result, got a cabshare. It came to £5.90, so I gave £3 (I felt duty bound to contribue 52-53%)

If Edinburgh Festival is the Olympics of comedy, David O’Doherty is Usain Bolt in the 100m. He’s just as quickfire and madcap.

He bemoaned going to an all boys school and the concept of single sex schooling, pointing out “What’s the point in getting a C in Home Economics is half the world’s population are like aliens to me?”

The master of improvisation, he sang out tips from a Cosmopolitan Sex Guide based on numbers shouted out by members of the audience.

Wednesday’s MacAulay and Co was fantastic, guest Neil Delamere pointing out that Holland’s Olympic team would get a lot of support in Glasgow as they wear tracksuits with ‘NED’ written on it.

Sammy J and Randy were a guest on it. I’d always been thinking of seeing them in Edinburgh. I’ll defiantely do it in 2013.

On Wednesday night I went to see Scotland v Australia. A blog about this is a few posts back.

On Thursday afternoon, I saw Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, as the title suggests, Paul Merton doing improvised comedy with a support cast. I’d seen the show in 2009 and it was fantastic then, and fantastic again in 2012.

And this, Edinburgh 2012 was over for me.

TOP FIVE

1. The Boy With Tape On His Face
2. Man 1 Bank 0
3. David O’Doherty
4. My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver
5. One Rogue Reporter

WORTHY MENTIONS

Michael Winslow – Best known as Larvell (or, the voice guy) from Police Academy, I saw him last year and he was fantastic.

David Hasselhoff – He wasn’t on while I was here. He has a talking car and invented Baywatch, as if you need an excuse to see him.

The Boat Factory – Friends of mine worked when this toured schools, so there’s a bit of bias with this choice. A two man play set in H and W starring Dan ‘Red Hand Luke’ Gordon.

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009

EDINBLOG 2011

If it’s August, then it must be Edinburgh.

As is now annual, I headed to Edinburgh for the festival recently. Having taken in the last week (2009) and the first week (2010), I decided to take the middle week, and it turned out to be an inspired choice.

Instead of the festival just getting started or winding down, it was in the full swing of things when I arrived.

If I could afford to stay in Edinburgh for the whole month. I would.

I flew in on an early morning flight on Saturday 13th. So early in fact, I managed to be at the ticket office before it’s 10am opening time.

Pleasantly, I was surprised to have been able to get tickets for all the events I wanted tickets for, without resorting to second choices.

Like the previous two years, I was sad enough to make a timetable of what I wanted to see, and it helped me plan my time in the city.

It was time to leave the culture to one side as I headed to Tynecastle for Hearts v Aberdeen. A blog of the match can be found here.

That night, I saw Ed Byrne at the EICC, and he was very funny, even if he did rehash a couple of jokes from Mock the Week, giving his views on immigration, pointing out the irony of Irish people complaining about immigration and stating he has no problem with the number of Eastern Europeans living in Dublin ……… except for the fact they work as doormen and don’t watch Mock The Week, meaning he can’t pull the “Do you know who I am?” line.

After a nice relaxing sleep, I headed to see some free shows on the Sunday afternoon.

One which caught my attention in the programme was Him and Me TV which turned out to be an inspired choice, as it was laugh a minute stuff.

It was a live sketch show poking fun at television and popculture, much in the style of The Kevin Bishop Show, but if the exception that it was brilliantly executed, such as the sketch of a superhero called “Councilman”, a masked vigilante who fixes road and infrastructure, that the local council won’t, and the continuity announcement of an upcoming movie premiere of Batman Biggins, a superhero epic starring Christopher Biggins.

The next show I saw was “Ze Hoff Und Friends”, which to be honest, was dreadful.

Yes, the Germans love David Hasselhoff and yes, they speak in what appears to be funny foreign accents, but it’s hard to do a show about such a thing.

Later that night, I saw David O’Doherty who I saw in 2010, and he was as madcap and erratic as ever, a must see.

Following on from his facts about Panda Bears, he moves on to facts about Sharks, pointing out that 9 out of 10 shark related injuries happen at sea, clarifying that the remaining 10% include incidents such as people falling out of bed after a shark related nightmare, or stufed sharks in museums/aquariums falling from where they are displayed an injuring people.

From there, I headed to EICC to see Jason Byrne who was one of the star turns in 2009.

He didn’t do the joke about how he injured his knee while doing a poo (Youtube it) but still managed to entertain in the most novel of ways, most notably, how many audience members can they fit into a pair of spanx.

The first act I saw on Monday was the one i’d been waiting for the most – Michael Winslow

If you don’t know who he is, he’s the voice effects guy from Police Academy, taking his live show to Edinburgh for the first time.

He enters the arena with a great opening line, informing the audience that it is a crime to impersonate the PA system on an airplane, a fact he found out the hard way, and then saying he is banned from every Tesco and Sainsbury in Scotland for the same reason.

A fantastic show well worth seeing if you get the chance, Winslow managed to interact with the audience, pointing the spotlight on people leaving to go to the toilet while doing comedy sound effects to their footsteps.

And yes, he even did his much famed Jimi Hendrix tribute.

The next show I saw was by Jason John Whitehead , title “Letters From Mindy”, going through the story of a break-up, but, as he entered the stage holding cue cards for the audience to see, it wasn’t the story of a breakdown, it was a breakdown of a breakdown.

I’d previously seen him before, and this was a darker show by comparison, but there was still heartwarming moments as he spoke about his companionship with his dog, a relationship where he forgives his dog for pooing in the kitchen, something he wouldn’t do for his human friends.

Unfortunately, on the Tuesday, I managed to sleep in and miss MacAulay and Co which I had tickets for.

At teatime, I went to see Isy Suttie, best known as Dobby in Peep Show, for a musical tale of a holiday romance brought back to life later in life via the internet.

That night I went to see Neil Delamere, who i’d seen before in Edinburgh. The master of the quick witted banter, he managed to tease and taunt his audience in equal measure.

When someone in the front row returned, he told them not to worry as they hadn’t missed anything, apart from him getting Madeline McCann on stage to perform a dance, to which an audience member groans “Too soon”

It was one of those types of shows.

I then went to see Rich Hall who was typical Rich Hall, ranting away at all the things he hates about America, complete with all the things he likes about Scotland, before bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t think of a good way to end the show, and that he should have possibly ended when there was racaous laughter at a joke he did five minutes earlier.

On Wednesday, I saw Rosie Wilby in a show called “Rosie’s Pop Diary” recalling her days as columnist at a magazine called Making Music, whilst persuing her dreams of music stardom.

It wasn’t laugh a minute, but there were still some enjoyable moments.

Next up, was Seann Walsh, currently being seen on 8 Out Of 10 Cats.

The show seemed to struggle at times as he had nobody to bounce banter with, as came be the case when panel show regulars do their own shows.

However, the magic moment of the show came when an audience member left to go to the toilet. In such an intimate setting, it’s hard to escape unnoticed.

If there’s a moral to the story, it’s to never leave during the middle of a show to go to the toilet.

Walsh hatched a plan where the girls friends would swap with another group.

There was another woman also going top the toilet, so Walsh sat in her seat, talking to her friend in a Kilroy style whilst waiting for the other woman to walk in, only to find someone else sitting in her seat, and her friends nowhere to be seen.

It was a prank that Jeremy Beadle would have been proud of.

Later that night, I saw my favourite show of the festival, by Angelos Epithemiou, star of Shooting Stars, wheeling out his segments into a laugh a minute, hour long show.

The show began on a travel theme, explaining that he’d come back from Afghanistan, entertaining the troops, and that The Taliban were a hard audience to please.

He also spoke that he was heading to the North-East after Edinburgh, and hoping it was nothing like the Middle-East.

His trusty keyboard was there, as his keyboard went on a blue theme, playing sex noises, before accidentally hitting the wrong note, when a monotone American voice says “Dictionary”

What was in his bag? A blind man’s walking stick, which Epithemiou boasted the victim he stole it from never saw it coming.

On the Thursday morning, I managed to see MacAulay and Co, where guests included Michael Winslow and Jimeoin, whose Northern Ireland accent was mocked by Winslow, which made me smile that one of the voices of “The Man Of 10,000 Voices” was North Coast accent.

That night, I went to Tynecastle to see Hearts take on Spurs, and thus, my Edinburgh adventure was over for another year.

Already counting down to August 2012.

Edinblog 2010

Edinblog 2009

EDINBLOG PREVIEW

In just under three weeks, i’ll be making my annual trip to Edinburgh to take in the Fringe Festival.

Since the programme was released, i’ve been circling and scribbling notes, trying to decide what I want to see, a process I may finally have mastered.

As with my previous two visits, once I drop my belongings at the hotel, i’m heading straight for the ticket office to get tickets for the shows i’m wanting to see.

I arrive on the morning of Saturday 13th. Feel free to label me as brave or stupid for flying on the 13th. At least it’s not a Friday.

I should be there in plenty of time, and I know the route to Tynecastle, so planning to take in Hearts v Aberdeen that day.

I took in football at Tynecastle and Easter Road when in Edinburgh in 2009, plus I get to add 1983 European Cup Winners Cup Winners Aberdeeen to my UEFA 100 Club list.

That night, i’m planning to see Fred MacAulay with Ed Byrne as my back-up option, and then possibly Tim Key, depending how tired I am.

The programme for the event gives performers a brief showcase of their work, which can often make or break them in the eyes of tourists.

Him and Me TV” and “Ze Hoff Und Friends” both have good write-ups, plus they’re free, so if they’re crap, it’s no loss.

The main one I hope to see on the Sunday evening is David O’Doherty. I saw him in 2010 and he was fantastic, laugh a minute.

Im also hoping to see Jason Byrne, having seen him in 2009, again, laugh a minute stuff, especially the sketch about how he wrecked his knee ligaments.

Each morning, MacAulay and Co, a BBC Scotland show hosted by Fred MacAulay will be broadcasting from the festival, so i’m hoping to attend as many of these as possible.

For the Monday night, i’m hoping to see Michael Winslow. Winslow, along with David O’Doherty are the two performers I desperately want to see.

You may not immediately recognise the name,but you will recognise th voice, or should that be voices, having gained fame playing Larvell Jones in Police Adademy.

For Tuesday, i’m hoping to see Isy Suttie, best known as Dobby from Peep Show, mainly because (a) I love Dobby (b) I love Dobby (c) I love Dobby …….. and so forth.

Later that night, i’m hoping to see Neil Delamere and Rich Hall, having seen both on the same night in 2009, and both were excellent (and were absent from the festival in 2010)

On the Wednesday, i’m hoping to see “Rosie’s Pop Diary” by Rosie Wilby and Seann Walsh, who you may recognise from the recent panel show circuit.

At some point on the Wednesday or Thursday, i’m hoping to see Angelos Epithemiou, star of Shooting Stars.

Nothing has been planned for the Thursday yet, mainly because I have to get up ridiculously early on the Friday morning for my flight to Gatwick, so i’m debating wether to go to bed early, or pull an all-nighter.

If Hearts are playing a UEFA Cup tie that night, I may go to Tynecastle for the second time of the week.

If not, i’ll be hoping to see some of the acts i’ve got highlighted and not yet seen such as Dave Gorman, Alun Cochrane, Jimeoin, Andrew Maxwell and Phill Jupitus.

If you’ve never been to the Edinburgh Festival, I can’t suggest it enough for you. If you are going to this year’s festival, I hope i’ve helped you decide who you are going to see.

Only another 20 days until I arrive.

TMN HEADQUARTERS AND THE SUMMER AHEAD

Had a couple of errands to do in Belfast, so took my camera with me to see what, if any, additions had been made to the wallspace of Belfast.

Spotted some new art on Garfield Street.

For those unfamiliar with Belfast, it’s a wee sidestreet off Royal Avenue, leading towards the Cathedral Quarter. The first thing you see when you walk down it is the offices of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium.

The street had previously hosted work by ANCO, which has since painted over.

Not exactly sure what it is, but it looks nice.

Meanwhile, walking home, I saw that an abandoned office at the junction between Shaftesbury Square and Dublin Road has appeared to be rebranded as an unofficial headquarters for ‘TMN’.

Those who have noticed graffiti in Belfast will have noticed that he is one of the main culprits.

Like ‘ANCO’, ‘Sick’ and ‘4Fun’, they probably suffer a form of reverse discrimination from myself when it comes to photographs, that I don’t want to have albums where it’s dominated by the same 4 people.

Meanwhile, there’s some update on the STLFTEM front, because I know that’s what you want to hear.

July will be the Base Festival in the middle of the month, though I have applied for tickets to a free show (being filmed for TV) by Australian comedian Adam Hills, who you may recognise from doing the rounds on various TV panel shows.

If I don’t get lucky with that, i’ll try and get to see him at the Edinburgh Festival, which will be my STLFTEM for August.

I’m going on the first week of the festival this year, as opposed to the last week of it last year.

I had an excellent time when I was there, but going over for the final weekend, it had a ‘Last day of school feel’ about it, whereas this year, I hope to be at the heart of the festival.

Already booked tickets to see Doves on my first day there. Fucking win.

Meanwhile, September’s STLFTEM promises to be special. When the Premier League fixture list gets published, there is one game which immediately gets circled in red. When the Irish League fixture list gets published, there is one game which gets circled in red. And they’re both happening in the same week.

I’m hopefuly (almost certain) of getting to go to the United-Liverpool game in September. If so, it will be my first United-Liverpool game i’ve attended in person since 1994, having turned down an inivtation to see a meeting in 2004 to watch Linfield beat Glentoran to win the league instead.

The week after hopefully seeing United beat Liverpool, i’ll be at The Oval for the first meeting of the season of Linfield and Glentoran. It’s a game I hate and love in equal measure.

Three of the four league games last season (like in 2008/2009) were evening kick-offs, which weren’t good for my nerves. At least with a Saturday 3pm game, i’ll have four and a half hours less of nerves, tension and excitement.

Meanwhile, Four Four Two Photo Awards are now accpeting entries, and I have submitted most of the photos I want to.

Of the ones that were nominated on my shortlist blog, only ‘Portadown’, ‘Dungannon’ and ‘Coleraine’ haven’t been submitted.

The reason for this is that they require that you submit the original, rather than a scaled down saved photo, and I am currently struggling to find these photos. Feel free to wish me luck.

Base, Adam Hills (Hopefully), Edinburgh Festival and United v Liverpool is going to be my summer. Can’t wait.

Garfield Street, June 2010

Ryan Giggs, Old Trafford, September 1994. I took this photo the last time I saw United play Liverpool in person.

BILL HICKS, AN AMERICAN HERO

Something that caught my eye recently when flicking through the listings guides was not one, but two, events commemorating one of the greatest comedians of all-time, Bill Hicks.

If you know about Bill Hicks, no doubt you will have already opened up a new window to find youtube clips of him.

If you don’t know about Bill Hicks, google him. It will be the best thing you do today.

I first found out about Bill Hicks during the summer of 2002, purely by fluke.

I was sitting at home, channel hopping in the hope of finding something good. I clicked onto the Paramount Comedy channel, thinking that, as I like comedy, I might see something I like.

The show just starting was ‘Bill Hicks : One Night Stand’. I’d never heard of him, but I thought i’d give it a try. By the time the first ad break came, I was in stitches, trying to store his one-liners in my memory bank, so that I could shamelessly steal and use them at an appropriate moment.

I was instantly in love with his sense of humour. As soon as possible, I went to HMV in the City Centre. I knew they had a section for audio CDs, so I thought i’d give it a try. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw all of his CDs for £5. I bought three of them, took them home and gave them a listen.

And what a decision it was, laugh after laugh, and one-liner after one-liner.

By this point, it was now my hope and dream that he would do a date in Belfast. That night, I logged onto the internet to find out more about him.

After typing ‘Bill Hicks’ into google, I reached his official website, then it just hit me, like a kick in the you know wheres.

I got to the homepage, and it said ‘WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF BILL HICKS, 1961-1994’. Gutted. The comedian I had just found out about, whose routines I fell in love with, and whose live show I wanted to see, had been dead for 8 years. Just gutted.

I consoled myself with the fact that I had a collection of CDs which Bill had recorded, that I could listen to. The best thing about Bill Hicks was that you didn’t know which direction the routine would go. One minute, he is talking of going on a killing spree, taking out Debbie Gibson, NKOTB and Kenny Rodgers, then joking about starting a career as a children’s entertainer called ‘Beelzebozo’, before sharing us his thoughts on American politics.

For those who know about Bill Hicks, the name Dwight Slade will be familiar. Slade was the best friend of Bill Hicks and a funny comedian in his own right. I saw him perform live in 2003. Very funny indeed.

You can’t help but think what sort of jokes Hicks would have come up with in the 15 years since his death, especially with Bill Clinton’s tomfoolery with Monica Lewinsky and George W Bush, being …….., George W Bush.

Many comedians have done funny jokes about such subject matters, but Hicks would have blown them away. The tragedy is, we never got a chance to hear it.

Hicks was a smoker, and proud of it. One of his famous lines was “I’d quit smoking if I didn’t think i’d become a non-smoker”. A man with his stored-up rage having his favourite pastime taken away from him by legislation would have been comic gold.

No point moping about what we didn’t get to hear, but rather celebrate what we did get to hear.

Looking forward to the showing of one of his live performances as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and the screening of The Bill Hicks Story, at the QFT

See Also :