This Sunday I will be performing a final stagger through of my new show, ‘The Great Indoors' at The Space in a double bill of Edinburgh-bound delightfulness with Lucy Frederick and her brand spanking new show ‘The Claw of Anxiety’.
I met Lucy Last year during the Amused Moose and she is bloody excellent. You would do well to come and see her and throw things at me while you’re at it. Tickets are £10 but quote ‘Edinburgh’ at the box office for 2 for 1 tickets. That’s 2 for 1 people - a fiver each for two, you heard - TWO - comedy hours.
Come you bastards. I mean it this time - it really matters. You know how you’re always saying ‘I’d love to come see you sometime’. Well you’re in luck sunshine because this Sunday is now, officially, SOMETIME. There will be no other times like this time. This Sunday, at The Space; in there it’s our time - it’s our time in there!
Seriously come or I’ll be cross.
Hello all. So I’ll be doing a set in east London this Thursday. You should totally come and stuff. Here are the details so…yeah! Come.
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It’s a tricky business, this comedy lark. It’s hard enough to write the gags, do the leg work, make the right connections, write more gags without having to worry about your image. Sadly, that’s the world we live in and getting those all important publicity photos right can make all the difference sometimes. It’s not like an acting headshot, where the casting director can project onto the blank canvas of your face. A comedy headshot has to send a message about the kind of hi-jinx an audience can expect from you in one image. Here’s mine:
'Ooh, I'm all ill at ease was with this attention because I'm just that fucking Generation Y. What is a white, middle class thirty something boy to do?'
I worry constantly about how it comes across but in the end you’ve got to have something and this is the best I’ve got.
So, to assuage my paranoia and have a bit of fun, I thought I’d compile some of the more often used types of compostion and a few notes on what they might suggest - what are the semiotics of mugging?
As a disclaimer, none of my comments are intended as criticisms of the acts themselves, I have worked with many of them and I think comedians can and should be relied upon to have a sense of humour about themselves.
THE ITCHY HEAD
kicking off with one of the most popular, the itchy head is a long standing favourite of mine as well. It says, “My, the world confuses me! What a complicated, head-scratchingly bizarre puzzle this old being alive lark is eh? Let’s go through it all together shall we?”
"I’M A TOTAL RIOT"
It involves pulling a face that you last pulled christmas 1989 when you got the Ghostbusters fire-house. It says, “I will blow your audiences socks off so HARD that they’ll be pulling them out of the trees in the next county. I am a comedy bomb, about to go off!”
"…AND ANOTHER THING!"
Slightly more niche but effective with the right comic. It says, “I am so full of comedy that I’m cracking funnies during the photoshoot. Hire me before I start accosting strangers in the street.”
(Yeah, I’m guilty of that one.)
"WE HAD SO MUCH FUN DURING THAT SHOOT".
For the down to earth, sometimes earnest - sometimes brash - kind of comic. It says, “A simple photo cannot capture the REAL me unless it is a candid moment of pure joy”. It’s very humanising. The key is to look down and smile deeply.
Sometimes, you’ve got to go for production values and some comics - especially the ones with a more theatrical streak - like to have some big, bold, fantasy fulfilling style shoot that is obviously a gag in of itself.
"ME? UP TO SOMETHING?"
Very popular with the girls this one, though a few boys like it too. It’s mischievous, it’s mysterious, it’s wry and it’s a bit like you saw something just out of frame.
"AM I IN THE RIGHT PLACE?"
"Why am I doing comedy? Why are you taking my photograph? I was only looking for the loo and now this? I think I need a lie down.
PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST
Very popular with the more established acts this one. Usually shot out and about because “It’s out there, on the streets - out in the world - where the good stuff is.” Also very useful for doubling as a page header for Guardian opinion pieces and retrospective interviews. Either leaning against something or peering out from behind it is recommended.
THE MOMENT IN THE SUN
Good for all levels, stadium to pub basement. A stage shot of the act mid-flow. It says, “Get me in front of an audience because that is where I belong.”
"THESE THINGS JUST COME TO ME"
Less popular than it once was, this old classic says, “I think, I muse - that is my function. How odd it must be to live in YOUR world”
"BEEN DOING THIS A WHILE, ME"
And finally, the idiom reserved for the elder statesmen of comedy - the war horses. Shot in the way one would expect to see a picture of a grumpy old author in discussion of their latest best-seller. They are carefully lit and, usually, with dark backgrounds. They say, “This is me, warts and all. I don’t need to look like anything other than who I am. This is what 20+ years on the road looks like kids. Listen up!”.
Well guys, that’s it! I hope you liked it. Before we go, let’s hear a big hand for all the acts you’ve seen this evening. You’ve seen (in no particular order):
Andrew Bird, Chris Martin, Danny Bhoy, Dan Mitchell, Holly Walsh, Henning Wehn, Jason Manford, Liam Mallone, Mark Oliver, Phill Hammon, Vikki Stone, Stuart Mitchell, Dan Atkinson, Colin Hoult, Barbara Nice, Allyson Smith, Alan Carr, Alfie Brown, Carl Donnelly, Frankie Boyle, Gareth Richards, Josie Long, Daliso Chaponda, Sharon Horgan, Omar Hamdi, Adam Bloom, Angela Barnes, Anna Keirle, Ava Vidal, Barry Ferns, Charmian Hughes, Felicity Ward, Ingrod Dahle, Nick Dixon, Geraldine Quinn, Diane Spencer, Andrew O’Neil, Addy Van Der Borgh, Gareth Morinan, Tiernan Dioueb, David Elms, Daniel Sloss, Jack Grant, Pierre Hollins, Russel Howard, Tim Key, Bobby Mair, Alex Horne, Bill Bailey, Chris Addison, Dylan Moran, Phil kay, Sandi Toksvig, Robin Ince, Paul Merton, Norman lovett, Marc Lucero, Louis CK, Ivor Dembina and Ian Cognito.
Hello! So I’m going to be on doing some new bits at the camden head next Thursday. You should come - it’ll be good.
So next week I head north to headline for three nights at the three different Stand Clubs. If you or mates of yours are in Edinburgh on Monday the 2nd, Glasgow on Tuesday the 3rd or Newcastle on Wednesday the 4th - I’d love to have you in the room.
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I’m doing a ten here on Saturday.
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Trying out some recent bits in soho tomorrow.
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I’m co-running this night and its going to be an absolute stunner! I’ve been wanting to run a night that has proper circuit acts and space for newer guys while not being too crowded for ages and this is it. All Fall Down is going to be anold fashined Pro/Am night and just will you look at this opening line-up:
Doors at 7, show at 7:30
£5 on the door, £4 in advance.
To book phone the pub on 020 7987 5205.
COME YOU FOOLS!
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It’s odd isn’t it? When you think about your past heroes. When you think about what they’ve meant to you and taught you. It’s also funny how your relationship with them changes the further along you go.
When I was a kid, there was no one else but Eddie. I loved him, in a way I never loved a musician or something like that. I saw ‘Glorious' live when I was 14 and it changed my life. I perceived comedy as something I could do for the first time. He was like me. A fugitive from the private education sector, an disciple of Milligan and the Pythons, a sufferer of the ennui of Eastbourne and a man with a fluid conception of gender and beauty. To hear him speak was to hear a voice of the playful, liberal, intellectual adulthood that - surely - lay in wait for me.
But then, as I got older, I came to think of him differently. He had run out of things to teach me and I now saw him as representing an order of thinking that seemed self-congratulatory, naive and indulgent.
But now, a little older still, I find myself comparing him to todays members of the comedic aristocracy and thinking, ‘He represents AN order of thinking…those were the days.’
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I like comedy. I sometimes like it too much. Sometimes I drive up to inspiration point with comedy and try to have my wicked way with it - get it to reveal its secrets to me. Comedy usually gives me a slap on the face and insists upon being driven home in awkward silence after that. Sometimes though, I catch comedy when she’s in a slutty mood and she lets me draw her.
The above is a chart I drew a while back during an attempt to refine formulae for narrative comedy. I don’t think it’s a particularly complete vision but if you wanted to write a sitcom episode using characters that were (at least in terms of their narrative function or properties) similar to ‘The Simpsons’, you could use this chart to clone the sequence of action and then superimpose your own story beats, gags etc.
It’d be kind of like writing a new song over the changes of an old one. Once you’ve got the new lyrics written to the old song, you can alter the chord progression of the old song and then - presto! A whole new song just two steps removed from an oldie. A sort of ‘Ship of Theseus' kind of creativity. I have actually done this a number of times with song writing and it's a neat way of getting a new thing going if you're banging your head against a wall.
However, ‘The Simpsons’ chart is to do with observable behaviour of the story writers - I’m just notating what they did as a sequence of action. It’s an imprint rather than being a representation of the essential forces at play and (as somewhere between romantic and scientific as it may sound) I’ve always loved the idea of there being some sort of underlying, yet expressible, quantum reality to the world of fiction.
Now I used to watch a lot of ‘Seinfeld’. Before they were out on DVD, I had most of the series recorded off the TV on VHS and I, along with my writing partner James Ward, would frequently go out on the lash, after a day of trying to be comedy writers, and then come home and stare at a random episode - rewinding and dissecting it ad nauseum.
Fans will tell you that the great strength of the series, as it matured, was its knack of neatly interlocking its story elements and elegantly structuring its call-backs. The more we watched, the more we wanted to be able to do it ourselves, to make stories of that complexity. One night, when we were particularly enthused, we started discussing what a singular unit of ‘sitcom’ looked like.
What we experienced was almost like a joint vision, two people both smacking their heads on the toilet and seeing The Flux Capacitor at the same time. We both drew what we thought a ‘sitcom unit’ looked like and what we both produced look VERY similar. They both looked like this:
I found it while digging around at my parents house this Christmas. I find the logic behind it (if any) very difficult to decipher all these years later.
I think that any one of the eight blue nodes around the outside were meant to be entry-points for principle characters (note the E, the J+G and the K annotations, suggesting Elaine, Jerry, George and Kramer) and that the bizarre, inter-connective circuitry between them was meant to be their trajectory through the story…it all made so much more sense at the time.
However, reading further through my notes, I find that this was not where the arcane ridiculousness ended. NO SIR! No, a few pages over, I tried to render the circuit again only this time as one of six potential planes:
Thinking about it now, I seem to recall that the different sides of the cube were meant to indicate the continuation of story arcs or differing themes. One side might represent greater leanings into absurdity, realism, pathos, bathos etc. Moreover, it would seem that what we were actually attempting to express was the behaviour of not just a single episode but an entire series. Depending upon the direction a series took, you could assemble these blocks accordingly as a projection of that data and (from, say, a 13 episode run) produce something that looked a little like this:
It’s nice, sort of like a molecule or, more accurately, DNA.
Now of course, this is (almost definitely) a load of Dingos Kidneys. However, in some strange way, I find it difficult to let go of. It makes a bizarre kind of sense to me and I fully intend to return to it one day. If I can refine all the variables and make it so that they could be expressed numerically I’d like to - one day - build something that is able to graph narrative data in this fashion. If nothing else, it’d be a fun conceit for a framed print business. It’d be awesome to have something that looks like that LEGO worm up there on the wall labelled as ‘Cheers: Season 3’.
What do you think?
THE BAD NEWS.
So I didn’t win the Amused Moose. I knew it was always going to be a tough sell because I was on at the beginning and I had accepted that I was probably going to lose out to Pierre Novellie. He’s just, quite simply, very good and I’m pleased that the competition recognised his quality.
I have to say though, I was annoyed by just HOW flat my material fell. Maybe it’s because, in my heart, I knew that I was saying last years stuff and that it’s time to do the scary thing of starting to throw away a bunch of stuff that works to find a bunch of new stuff that I’m actually excited to say. Steve Bennet on Chortle, while not utterly savage in his critique of me, just seemed underwhelmed by my lack of original material. Now while I don’t agree with him necessarily - I think that he has a point that the material I did in the competition was not the best representation of me. I just wish that, having got this far in the competition, I had the courage or the wherewithal (or just the fucking time) to bust out some of the story telling stuff that I really enjoy doing in the later half of my club set.
You can read the full review here.
Now so far, I’ve been pleased with how my show has been going. That is, when I’ve been allowed to perform it. I’ve had to cancel three shows due to having no audience and one in order to do the competition. At the moment, the no shows are neck and neck with actual performances which is a trend I want to stop dead. Thing is though, a lot of the other shows are in areas that look a bit like this:
Whereas I am in a place that looks like this:
I fucking love show business! Also, I’m on at 12:30pm so there is NO foot traffic at all.
Also, I’ve only got one review so far - from ‘Broadway Baby’. Now while they do say that:
The Bravery Test is an honest and enjoyable examination of the way families shape us and the unpredictability of life, told with heart and humour.
Which is nice, they also say:
It felt like Dunican had more to say about his family and would have benefited from separating his material regarding his illness into a different set. Whilst his recounting of the diagnosis is interesting, it feels like a big leap between childhood escapades and being twenty-two in hospital with a chronic illness. This disconnect is, unfortunately, a bit jarring.
Which, I have to say, annoyed me. The juxtaposition of the past and the much more recent past in the show is - somewhat - the point. you can read the whole thing here:
However, I did have a review from an audience member that was, by far and away, the nicest thing I’ve heard so far. It was from a guy called Lee Butler and it ran thusly:
This show is the best I have seen at the fringe so far. Witty, insightful and best of all it was free! Angus is an all round funny guy who paints the most amazing picture with words that will transport you back through time. For those of you who were born in the 80’s it will have you reminiscing over a post show pint. Definitely worth the time and effort, this guy is going places.
God bless you Lee Butler, whoever you are, and may your children grow to conquer space.
That brings us neatly to…
The Good News:
A nice lady from Radio 4 came to see the show, really liked it and told me to call her.
That’s all I’ve got at the moment but I’m holding onto it for dear life.
First of all - this is where the show is happening:
If you’ve already been to see the show or fancy just looking at stuff on the fabulous internet then here are some additional bits of fun for you. Also, if you go onto the rest of my blog, you’ll be able to access the rest of my festival diary, including reviews, recommendations and HIJINX!!!!
For now though, here are some relics:
THE BOOK OF MAPS
I don’t know why but I started drawing maps when I was little. I think maybe I was inspired by one that Niall (my older brother) drew which looked like this:
As you can see, it’s pretty sophisticated stuff - it’s on graph paper! I especially like the dead-end that leads to water and the weird fish-dragon that’s lies in wait for you near the end. Also it’s Doctor Who themed so that was always a plus. Needless to say, my first attempt to replicate this sort of thing was less successful.
So I think this was meant to be ‘Return to Oz’ but it wasn’t terribly detailed. Poor Tick-Tock just had to find his way past a Wheeler and that patch of yellow (signifying the deadly desert).
Now I think this stab at doing 'Trap-Door' was, artistically, more interesting. What’s odd about it, in terms of being a map, is that - having reached the trap door - the spidery beast that gets let out then finds its way back to the beginning to spook Berk in the first place. Hauntingly cyclical.
This Batman map, while colourful. represents something of a step backward for the cartographer in terms of clarity of form. But then crayon is a very difficult medium. These problems have been addressed by the time we reach this Turtles map:
Here we find the colour renderings in pencil crayon, with the more engineering orientated forms of the empire state and the Technodrome conceived in sobre pencil.
Now, seeking to match my brothers earlier effort, I went one further and drew a Doctor Who map that doubled as a board game - in which two sides (represented at the beginning of the game by the TARDIS and a Dalek spaceship) raced to find K9. Please observe the excellent spelling throughout.
Feeling somewhat hungry for more space adventures, I rushed out this Star Wars effort all too quickly - mainly focussing on creating an epic battle, with only the most perfunctory of nods to its status as a map. Notable use of colour and perspective though.
This 'Robocop' map is the only example of collaboration in the Book of Maps. Here the line of progress, the pit of spikes and the larger of the two baddies were drawn by my friend Matthew Gordon - hence the differing conceptions of scale.
This 'Ghostbusters' effort is altogether too derivative - though it does predate the Turtles map, hence the re-use of the Empire State as a landmark.
This 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' effort sees the beginning of the complexity that my final works would become so notorious for. The route is suitably convoluted as well as there being one or two elements ( a 600 tonne weight and a crocodile) that were the pure inventions of the cartographer. Along with this 'Gremlins' map:
…we can see the beginnings of a new direction. Please note that this is the first formally titled entry.
Returning to the Star Wars universe with a bang, we see this attempt to capture the essence of 'Return of the Jedi' - with additional stylised titles (which were to become a mainstay). Once again Star Wars brings out the desire to draw perspective - with both sideways on and top-down views of speeder bikes on show. My confidence was growing.
The film 'The Neverending Story' has a prominent place in my unconscious and this colourful and detailed stab at its story line is one of my favourites. Sadly, water damage effects much of the Ivory Tower. I have begun discussions with a restoration team.
Finally, we have my only attempt at a sequel to my own work - a depiction of 'Gremlins 2: The New Batch'. as well as this being, by far and away, the most busy of the maps, it also scores impressively on detail, colour and titles. Of particular note should be the mischievous Gremlins in the corner - whom I intended to seem like the writers of the titles. The only sad mis-step here is my terrible attempt at a speech bubble coming from the Brain Gremlin at his desk. It was supposed to read ‘I have the brain around here.’ but, instead, come out as ‘BRAN…I HAVE THE’
A BLOODY POEM!
Ok, so earlier this year, I had a minor relapse of my condition which led to me being put back on some not-so-very-much-fun medication and generally feeling sorry for myself. While I waited to be seen by my specialist at Guys, I found myself doing something I haven’t done in years and started writing a poem. So here it is - hope you like it.
A visit to an un-finished future,
tense with trepidation
that this day shall be that day
you wished would not come for good long whiles.
A TV whispers, low as conspiring children, while some soul far away
writes the minutes of meetings no-one called,
so that we - the un-called for - can sit and read them,
out of step with powdered lips.
I am on the system but he wants my details anyway.
Bless him, he wants to do it properly.
Soon he’ll learn the faces
and turn the wasting of their time
to idle games for his tidal mind.
It’s the only sane response.
This woman seems to have fallen asleep,
half-melted into her coat like some long-pocketed treat
and younger feet fall dispassionately all around and about.
Is she alone
or there to bear bad news as one half of two?
From the way she’s seated I’d say she’s a
"Let’s wait and see dear."
not yet 4 years old,
investigates new ways of not sitting still
and defies the will of those that made it.
its favourite game is not playing theirs.
It wouldn’t be here at all except Lee had to work
and Mum irons for Nan on Mondays…always Mondays
or else disaster.
So here it struggles, a he in fact,
Cargo that wont go in the car without his owl and
"How did it get in there?", his mother asks him
but more herself.
How DID it get in there?
Most have stopped asking the sky this by now,
It’s just how it goes for some so why not them?
all things can be lived with when one is stubborn enough.
"You can’t have these can you?"
"Thank you but I’ll give them to my grandson if you don’t mind?"
"Sign your name and date of birth on it
or who on earth knows where it will fetch up”
A thimble full of something that was this mornings coffee.
Half an hour now and it
"Shouldn’t be allowed!" someone remembers to say.
"Today of all days, I’m meant to be working at eight.”
That TV makes a change and finds us something with some jokes.
Time slows down as you approach the speed of light entertainment
and glaciers blur past like vacuumed clouds being tidied by Mrs. God.
The door to his room will open soon
and someone who dares to not be me
will be pleased to step this way.
He’ll call them
"Mr. Adeyeye" or "Mrs. Forsyth"
and try and sound less tired when he asks
"How are you today?"
Soon it will be me,
The best ‘till last when the rest have passed
and gone to wait elsewhere.
There I’ll be and he’ll call me by
the first name, I’ve been coming long enough for him to learn.
I’ve earned as much as that.
…AND NOW, AN ADORABLENESS CHASER!
My EXCELLENT Dalek costume.
and the day of the X-Wing.
Oh to be young was very bliss.
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