Keep meaning to finally tie up my Fringe blog. Been doing the day job and a million other things. But tonight I go on a bit of a High Priestess Comedy Pilgrimage to Soho for ACMS in London. I won’t write that up until I’ve finished the Edinburgh entries though, so I have a reason to get them done. Duty calls.

Edinburgh does take it out of you. A brain can only take so much.

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On the sleeper home. Have been awake for about 37 hours straight now. I was going to catch up with the blog and have been writing up a bit but I’m beginning to nod again. Rest assured, dear readership, my notes are copious and once I have had some decent sleep in my own bed with a nice, warm spouse I will complete the magnum opus. For now, I need to try and get some rest in this train chair, get across London and home.

Failed in my attempt to see all the shows at the Hut in one day, partly through tiredness and partly one getting nominated for Best newcomer and therefore being utterly full. Will attempt to blog after midnight when I have some time between last show at the Hut and Novalounge after Late n Live. Failing that, probably tomorrow afternoon, or on the train home. Frequent readers will know that the Fringe diary tends to tail off as exhaustion sets in, but I have been taking notes so the last few days will be written up at some point.

23rd August: Woke up more tired than when I went to bed. Reminds me of before I had my sleep disorder diagnosed. It’s nearly midday. I need to get some rest as I’m going to have to pack to go home in a few days. Nearly missed the bus as I’d lost my purse. Throwing stuff around the place (thereby making packing a lot more difficult) then find it on the floor. Bus.

A couple of people walk in the back door while we’re still doing our getin. I think they’re used to theatres were you can wander in half an hour before the show is due to start. This is Fringe. You’re lucky if you get ten minutes to set up. They are ushered back out and round to the queue by Robin, who tells them not to come in yet or it will “spoil the magic of theatre”. I have the usual fun of making sure everything is set before giving the venue staff the nod to open the house but it is sometimes hard; today as we’re about to open the house I have everyone on stage except the two people who are actually supposed to be there when we open the house. One appears. Then when the other one appears and I nearly signal to open the house, the other one has mysteriously vanished.

Improvised amusement today included “Did her boyfriend do it? I’m telling EVERYONE.”, the shipping company website looking like Super Mario, “After Uni I dropped a pen”, “Clean up on Aisle 2” on the mysterious non-appearance of the janitor, “Just like Charlie Sheen – mostly winning, but with lots of breakdowns”, “That’s a small pocket… oh, there’s the big one”, Egg Salad and Trouser flavoured sandwiches, and what happened to all the boss’ shoes, “I’m a likeable character… we’ll be the judge of that”. Bel Air and Golddigger again. Improvised swearing of the day was the outstanding “Rectum Croutons!”.

Today I want noodles, but shall get the oyster sauce again. Read the news, and admire their rather strange toilet signage.

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As usual, to Brooke’s to write up blog, but got a mug of cocoa at the Potter coffee shop on the way up. Apparently The High Priest is on at Chortle Fast Fringe so I’m going to go this time as I’m free then.

Didn’t do my blog yesterday so I have tons of admin, although according to STDVD that’s what Princesses dream of doing. Lucky me.

It’s always odd earwigging people talking about acts you know at comedy clubs or comedy-related bars. Tuck is “a bit of a rising star” I overhear. Best Newcomer at his tenth consecutive year at the Fringe, although they did point out it was the first time he had done a solo show. I think I recognise one of the speakers from being in the audience of The Temps also. He didn’t say anything of our show though. No news is good news. They continue to chat, moving on to talking of the “warring” Free Fringes and Assemblies. It is certainly true that there have been some epic schisms lately.

Finish one blog post, including a veritable dissertation on what happened at the last ACMS. It needed careful description. Upload a ten-second video of the pie fight, that for some reason on this shonky wifi seems to take 30 minutes to upload. Tuck shows me a screenshot of a by now notorious bad review of Michael Legge that appeared and then almost instantly disappeared when everyone started taking the piss out of it for the fact that it was peppered with grammatical errors to the point of being incomprehensible. We have a good old laugh at that. Just goes to underline the fact that you will only enjoy Michael Legge’s show if you are able to string sentences together. Turns out Tuck is on at Fast Fringe too, but near the end, so I say I’ll see him down there.

So, Chortle Fast Fringe again, the comedy smorgasbord. Horse and Louis – singing comedy duo. Two guitars! Harmonies! Funny! I’m impressed.

I’m sat on a table at the back so have a good view. The stage looks clean and freshly shaved. Lloyd Langford comes on and does his three minutes, then says that he has just realised that his show starts in 45 minutes so none of the audience are going to be able to come. Helen Keen whom I have already seen, and will again on Sunday. As a night owl myself, I do love her bit about how the early bird getting the worm has a totally different message from the point of view of the worm, who would have benefitted from a lie in. Another Lloyd, Lloyd Griffiths, with some interestingly accurate tape impressions. Fred Cooke doing a nice deconstruction of “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”. Adam Hess doing a series of hyper one-liners, that left me and a lot of the audience wondering if it was an act or genuine inexperience. Some good lines though. The Trap with Bad Musical again. MC was Toby Hadoke, and I remember particularly liking the bit about the main job he has to do as warmup for University Challenge, bearing in mind Jeremy Kyle is recorded next-door. An audience member called Jess is asked to recommend something; she says Tony Law, but of course he is an award nominee so has sold out to the end of his run. Hadoke suggests that it would make Mr Law feel good if people could instead go and stand outside his venue looking in with “puppy dog eyes” as they couldn’t get in. Next act is Max and Ivan with a wonderful sketch about a homeopath army medic. Next the info screen says it’s Milo McCabe but it’s his old-school comic dad Mike McCabe, who is also in the show I believe. Thom Tuck is up next – he does the 3D bit from DVD and the bit about Hungry Hippos from Flips Out… “om nom nom nom… why can’t you control your hippo?!” makes much more sense in context, and to my experienced eye is is visibly chafing from being restricted in his storytelling style to a mere 3 minutes. His shows are more about callbacks and forwards setting up details to introduce further stories and details later, and therefore taking 3 minutes out of his 2 hour-long shows is a bit like giving someone a raisin and telling them it’s fruit cake. Tuck sees the 3 minute light and just goes “Bye.” and is off and out. He did his bit and got the laughs, but I don’t think he was comfortable in that restricted format.

Finally the High Priest. Not a me clone, so I don’t have to send the lawyers it seems. Another singing comedian, bit more edgy this time. Not really my kind of thing but he went down well.

Back to the sofas. Tuck and Ross are playing pool. Ross is having a Good Day. His ball nudges one of Tuck’s out the way and goes down in an almost trick shot way, and Tuck is just slightly missing everything. Yorkshire honour is at stake. Ross tells Thom to think of Leeds United and that seems to make it worse. “Would you like a woman to do it?” I respond, which gets a laugh but as Thom says, I’ve misquoted it. It’s nearly, but not quite, one of the six Alternative Comedy Memorial Society Permitted Heckles. It should, of course, have been “Would you like a woman to sort it out?”. They’re off to work at Flips Out and I tag along. Just as well – it was a weird one and I’m glad I saw it first-hand.

The Front of House is not there and so two ladies sit on the chairs. Obviously thinking it jolly nice of the Dome to provide chairs at the top of the stairs for people. And ignoring the queue. The house opens. Seven drunken locals make it to the top of the stairs and ask if there’s a bar in the venue. Uh oh.

They try Brooke’s but are refused as they do not have passes. Some go off for more beer and the others go in to get seats. Thom’s started and we’re all having fun, when the Seven Drunken Knights start arriving from the bar. Thom does his usual latecomers gag. After the fourth time it’s getting a bit forced. Then the Beer Mule arrives with a tray of booze. Thom does some of his famed eyebrow acting, managing to convey with an expression exactly what he thinks of this game, to the amusement of the front row. Beer Mule starts to try to negotiate the row with his tray of beer. Tuck, with thinly-veiled sarcasm born of being able to hold his drink a lot better than this lot, tells him it will be MUCH quicker if he comes across the stage. He does. They sit. The show continues.

All goes well, despite the fact that the pissheads are talking at the back like they learned to whisper in a waterfall, which is fairly normal for drunk punters. Tuck attempts to intimidate them into shutting up by doing part of his show from inside the audience, right in front of them; a spirited attempt at penetrating the beer goggles enough to remind them that this is not the telly.

Most of the audience, who paid attention at school and therefore understood the punctuation jokes and cultural references, are loving it, but part-way through, Pisshead 1 shouts to his friend “Less’ go. Iss shite.”. Silence. This, of course, bonds the rest of the audience to Tuck. They turn to see what he will do. He is not the type to shout abuse at his audience; rail against the world, yes. But not paying customers. His face speaks volumes, however. He indicates the door, and the rest of the audience shout encouragement for them to leave and stop spoiling the show. They walk out. The show continues.

It’s not over. It seems the pissheads have decided to cause maximum chaos by pronouncing the show “shite” (even though everyone else is clearly loving it) and leaving in pairs. Thom and the majority of the audience who are now his Sharks to the Pisshead Jets, are just glaring at them, until they leave, with the odd jeer and “Go away!”. They all go. Peace is restored, and he storms it. Sometimes walkouts can gel the rest of the audience into defending their hero on the stage, and this was one of those times. Definitely the most polarised gig I’ve been to in a long time, if ever. Seven walkouts and he stormed it. Obviously not what they were expecting. As Tuck said, “Just as well they left before the Descartes joke”. They might have enjoyed the cyborg golfers though.

Phone Mr Spouse briefly, who says we must get down to ACMS when it’s in London. We must, we must. Talking to the lads, about Disney again. If Ross is Nala, that must make me Tony… the accordion playing waiter from Lady and the Tramp. So we’re both the wrong gender.

Down to Cabaret Voltaire. Thom goes to get his liquid props. I stole a stylish ice bucket from behind the bar to make sure we have one ready this time. Get big on the Free Fringe and you get a sexy bucket. Ross and I reckon that’d be a good band name. The Sexy Buckets.

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People are taking turns to kick milky drinks over tonight. Me, being the naive innocent, thought they were milkshakes. Thom informs me that they are probably, in fact, White Russians. Of course. Silly me.

Someone guesses Baloo in Jungle Book 2 was played by Phil Collins, which is a daft suggestion but as Thom points out to the audience who are suitably impressed with his subject knowledge, Phil Collins does play a part in the film.

For some reason I had picked the tightest bit of aisle to sit at, and had to actually stop playing for a bit as Thom went by and then contort my bellows at a strange angle to play the next chord past him, which got a laugh. It’s all played live, folks! Big laugh when the disco lights came on also. Thom asks if I need more 20p’s for the bus; thanks but no. I have enough for the rest of the run now. Sorted for 20p’s and whiz, as the old song goes.

Do I want to go to the Underpass Party. What? Apparently last year some of the Pleasance Press Office staff and various performers, in a true Spirit of the Fringe moment after a lot of them couldn’t get into all the industry parties for not being marketable enough, decided to hold a party in the underpass between Pleasance Courtyard and the Dome. Ideal location – everyone knows it, it’s handy for the Dome shops and toilets, nowhere near human habitation and dry in the rain. You don’t need a pass for the Underpass Party…

Of course I will come; it would be churlish not to, I feel. We practice a quick tune to perform in Brooke’s – “Part of Your World” is pretty much obligatory but we can’t just do the one, so we quickly knock out “Too Drunk to Dream” by Magnetic Fields once I work out how to get an A minor out of the box. Our version is much more Lounge than the original. We have a quick go at playing it on the sofa at Brooke’s, but I don’t know the song all that well so I can’t really grasp accurately what the chord changes are, although I can see where. He plays a funny G chord also. We’ll busk it. Literally. I now notice that his uke is held together with gaffer tape. Apparently someone sat on it. I must learn some three-chord pop songs to play for next year.

So, we head off to this reaction to exclusive industry parties via the Dome shop for party stuff. Some Courvoisier to sell from a plank, perhaps. But, unfamiliar with Scottish licensing laws, we can’t get any. But we have sufficient to turn up to a party with, as he already has a bottle of wine and I buy Pringles. And milk. I like milk. The milk turns out to work very well, but more on that later. Milk and Pringles. Another good band name, Thom suggests. So, down to the underpass at midnight… just gone midnight, anyway.

It was great fun, to be honest. Robin Clyfan, one of the hosts of the party, has put on “Just Can’t Get Enough” and is having people do warm up exercises. It turns into a nice, friendly party with a boombox crackling out selections from the contents of Charlie Partridge and Robin’s phones.

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I managed to invent a milk strobe. I’d been using my phone flashlight app to make party disco lights and found that the effect was improved on being shone through an empty 1 litre plastic milk bottle. Later in the evening I changed to a Heineken bottle. Green. There’s even a video screen like a proper big club – although this is tiny, because someone was so desperate to play “Mysterious Girl” by Peter Andre they’ve pulled it up on YouTube on their smartphone. Someone, of course, has a whistle.

You don’t need a pass for the underpass party (in fact, I have been given a bit of paper with “This is not a pass for the Underpass Party” written on it with a sharpie (the Techie Pen of Choice). I go up the hill to the toilets at the Dome, and get back to see that a woman with a bicycle has just walked her bike through a party and is looking bewildered, and that the party is now singing “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green at the tops of their voices. Tuck is about to go “on the decks” by means of his laptop, propped up on my melodeon case to keep it out of the spilt beer.

Later come a few “acoustic sets”. Tuck and I do the usual Little Mermaid routine, and they are all singing it so loud I can barely hear my melodeon; remember, this is an instrument made to be heard in acoustic folk dancing so it’s pretty hard to drown out, especially when your ears are directly above it. He does the other song but I can’t actually hear him well enough over general party noise and I don’t want to spoil it, so he does it solo. Some beatboxing occurs, improvised on the theme of Underpass Parties.
Underpass Beatbox
My Pringles got spilt. Some beer got spilt. I did the Twist to work the Pringles into the beer. I call that “tidying up”.

Party games include Robin’s “Circle of Trust” – a call and response game including lots of gibberish interjected with famous names (I heard Keith Chegwin in there), and a classic – “Say to the person on your right, “I trust you””, and a bit later, “Say to the person on your left, “I’m sorry, I missed what you said, I was talking to the person on my right”.

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Thom sang again, but by that point it has devolved into the acoustic party on one side and the whistles rave party on another, and people are trying to get close enough to hear and beers get knocked over and I retire to a safe distance with melodeon, laptop and uke to save them from being trodden on in the anarchy. Thankfully, he did not bring Simba.

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Tuck and I take turns guarding the Shiny Things for toilet breaks and then share a taxi back. A good night, but we’ve both had a lot of late nights recently and 1 pm shows to do. I get dropped off first. Straight to bed. My melodeon case and the bottom of my rucksack are soggy with beer. Party on!

22nd August: Nomination day. A few jokes about it at ACMS last night and a bit of discussion on theories. People who are in the running would have noticed the sheer amount of judges coming to their show. Unless they’re Free Fringe of course.

Up. Dress. In my tired state I am slightly freaked out by the fact that I have some strange black fuzz in my armpits. Then I remember my new black T-shirt and the fact that I went to bed sweaty. My engagement necklace chain is also horribly tarnished. Come to Edinburgh – free sauna in most venues. Lots of hill walking. It’s like a health club. Apart from the junk food diet and drinking. Bus. Notice that the bus has Edinburgh-themed seat cover cloth. Stylish.

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It’s raining again. Get to the Hut just as Seeing Double is finishing. Apparently there was some problem with the comms between the two venues and they were quite badly out of sync at one point, leaving one poor soul onstage singing Eye of the Tiger until they meshed it back together again. With two shows simultaneously in neighbouring venues I’m amazed it hasn’t happened before to be honest, so hats off to them for keeping it together so well.

Well, my earlier prediction for the Fosters Newcomer nominee didn’t bear fruit. I haven’t seen all the shows on the Fringe, of course, so I can’t comment on the suitability of the nominations, but anecdotally the standard of shows this year is generally high (everyone seems to have a few four star reviews at least this year) and I’ve had various people say they’re very impressed by the nomination list – comedians are not known for grace in defeat in such circumstances, so it must be a really popular list of people. I have seen a few of them at Storytellers’ Club and ACMS so I know the circles I have been moving in this year will be pleased.

I think not getting nominated for Best Newcomer is a bitter pill to swallow – perhaps worse than the main prize; my reasoning is that, once it’s gone, it’s gone. You will not be a newcomer again. Oh well. It’s not all about the awards, although the leg-up given by a prize is certainly useful in the short to medium term.

Today James is singing Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Boombastic. He seems to have settled on those two as his favourites. Robin says that laminating is the new framing, Alex has changed his eel fisherman to a tiger herder, Tom holds his tie carefully out of the way while blowing air onto Alex, and later in the show is apparently making Blu Tac models out of animals. A “frankly canoodling” couple are invited to fire the new temp in random Alan Sugar impressions. Celia comes up with “You can hear anything through this; there’s not even a wall there” and “I set the sprinklers off with my hair straighteners”. Robin asks who put gravel in the meeting room, and Sarah corpses after being mauled by Robin and I ask her if she needs a moment.

Beasts are in after us, and their techie tells me that The Temps had left our Meeting Room sign up yesterday, which must have confused the audience a bit. Waiting for a sketch that didn’t happen. We’re packing up as they are getting in and there are crossover antics – Oliver’s Army is playing and there is, for some reason, a fencing foil leaned up by the back door. I pick it up and do a touché on Neil the tech at the “but there’s no danger” line.

Bec reappears, changed out of her costume and she is wearing an awesome jumper that says “Pow!” in comic book style. I admire it. Apparently she got it yesterday in Primark. I’m going to Primark this afternoon then.

The aforementioned canoodling couple turn out to be the people who are going to be videoing the show for posterity, so we talk afterwards about the logistics of that. The conversation turns as usual to what everyone is doing during the Fringe and so I do the by now familiar turn on the melodeon. I tend to go with Bear Dance as it sounds a bit piratey so suits the sound, and it doesn’t involve any of the buttons that are different to my other melodeon. Sometimes I throw The Sloe in as well, and if I’m feeling particularly brave then The Moon and Seven Stars although that one has some quite complicated row crossing to get the chords right and I only learned it quite recently so it’s not great.

Hip is hurting again. So I decide to walk it off with some Ibuprofen and a trip to the New Town for jumper shopping. Might get it looked at when I get home, although I think it’s just that I’m spending so much time on my feet this month. Find and buy the jumper. Try on a few other things and indulge my feminine side, then end up indulging my tomboy side by buying a parka. Lovely and cosy, lots of pockets, removable hood that is so huge I feel like saying “Oh no, my young Jedi. You will find that it is you who are mistaken, about a great many things.”. A bit too cosy for August, but it will be autumn soon enough. Walk back to the City Cafe, past someone doing what sounds like an Yngwie Malmsteen arpeggio-shredding widdly-widdly solo… on bagpipes.

I need salt and fat. City Cafe all-day breakfast, the large one this time. The waitress asks me if I’d like tea with my milk. Apparently they’re waiting on tea from the kitchen. I wait for my tea. They play good retro music in here yet again. Today’s standout track was the funk gospel classic “Are You Ready?” by Pacific Gas and Electric. Gaze at the Total Perspective Vortex caused by the diner-themed floor and mirrored counter.

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Edinburgh always seems to turn into excess of some sort. Drinking, smoking, or in my case, sugar, salt and fat. Bad me. It’s like religion. A bit can be a comfort to people who take comfort in such things, but too much can be dangerous…

To Brooke’s for my usual drink and chill. Read Cracked for a bit and repost a few bits. Tuck is lounging in a sofa and looks more tired than Milly for a change. (I am typing this up two days later, opposite the man himself, who has just told me that he’s done 80 gigs so far this Fringe. It’ll be 86 by the end).

I walk to Inlingua to see old chum Nick Pynn, in a show with his wife Kate Daisy Grant (Nick’s own show clashes with DVD and I haven’t actually seen her stuff yet, so decided to go to hers, which he also plays in).

Get to Inlingua – or rather, where it used to be. It’s moved. Power walk to where it is now and arrive just in time. It’s on the third floor. Sit down, now shattered.

You can see why these two multi-instrumentalists work so well together. Nick is his usual dulcimer / guitar / ukelele / mandolin / wineglass / fiddle / loop playing self, and Kate Daisy paints pictures with soprano and drama (think Kate Bush or Alanis Morrisette ) accompanying herself on toy piano, electric piano, glockenspiel, bells, autoharp and looped birdsong.

Afterwards we talk music for a short time as Nick’s show starts in only about 20 minutes and he has to retune his guitar, although of course the melodeon comes out and I’m pleased to see that my usual offering of Bear Dance is something that Nick recognises as he’s humming along. Kate pronounces that Lili has a lovely tone, nicer than a piano accordion. Lovely to meet her.

Another collaborator of Nick’s and another old friend, Jane Bom-Bane, I bump into coming up the stairs. Apparently she heard me playing. I must try and squeeze her show in before I go – I didn’t even know she was up, as she’s on the Free Festival and not in the main programme. She plays the harmonium and has a fine range of mechanical hats.

Back to Cabaret Voltaire for my own support gig. Got squashed between an American tourist and a railing on Princes Street; he was gazing raptly at something or other and walked right into me. Very apologetic though. One of those times when you can see it’s going to happen but can do nothing about it.

Got there too late for a chair, but as a Cab Vol frequent flyer I know there are spare chairs next door and go and nab one so I can sit on the right to give myself room to squeeze. Some other people spot what I’m doing and get chairs too. The show starts with Thom’s usual “Hello….” but he confesses that he has started slightly late as he “had to listen to the end of that Prince song”. Urbane as ever. He continues… “I have seen… (clomp of feet to floor as he descends from the stage to the aisle)… EVERY… Disney straight to DVD video. So you don’t have to. You’re welcome.” And I worked out where he says “gotten” instead of “got”. Where he says how many people correctly guessed who played Baloo. Tuck downs his second “prop” of the show and pulls a face; “Oh God, is that Bells?”. Have to use the melodeon coolbag as an emergency bucket again. Thom can’t find his bag. Ross has it. Thom has my bag. Confused yet? The loose change is poured from my bag to Thom’s bag as he tells me that apparently the hen night-looking girls (tiny dresses, enormous heels, you know the sort) had apparently come just for the song.

Home, via the Dome shop for milk and Ibuprofen Tired. Hip hurts. Bed.

21st August: A High Priest is doing the Chortle Fast Fringe. No idea who he is. Shame I already have a ticket for something or I’d check it out. He may be a long-lost twin or something.

It’s one of those sun/drizzle days. Rainbow weather. I banged my head on bus but pretended that I hadn’t as I didn’t think anyone noticed. Arrive for The Temps and get my usual breakfast snack; a girl at the coffee bar there is liking my blue glittery nails, although they are beginning to grow out now. Back to French nails for work next week. Tom Webb arrives wearing a stylish Scotsman branded binbag/poncho and we ask him if he’s just come from Alton Towers.

All very relaxed at the Hut by now – we know the techs and they know us, well enough to announce “Dowdeswell, you slaaaag!” as the man himself arrives. Slight panic before the show as the lights are not working, but it turns out that the blackout button is on. Panic over.

I’m worried I’m beginning to finally get the old Fringe Flu which I have thus far escaped. Bit of a cough and a touch of tinnitus. Probably just poor physical maintenance and lots of sitting in dank cellars. I am treated as usual to various menfolk of the cast changing into their “work’ trousers. Amusement is found today by the fact that Robin appears to have his pants on inside out (nothing gross. We could see the tag).

Audience are lovely, and start laughing right from the start – no warmup required. Improvised highlights today included “Ronette” in the audience being particularly masculine today; I presume there were no women sat in that part for a change. James is singing Bel Air, Careless Whispers and Boombastic again. Alex tries again to slam dunk the paper but this audience member dropped the paper ball; however, they do get the Swiss joke this time. Sarah has a feather in her purse and is told you can’t buy things with feathers. It starts to rain, quite obvious when your show is in a Portacabin, and Celia jokes that the sprinklers have gone off upstairs. Here is my view:

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Our poor prop sandwich is suffering today. It’s been stuffed down Alex’s trousers, dropped and then repeatedly beaten on the table for dramatic emphasis. As it’s obviously raining outside, our “rooftop breakroom” has had an awning added just for today. Total banter is now “totes bants”, and the Slick Exec likes sweeping so much he is going to demote himself so he can carry on. Celia almost got skewered by a broom running through the set, and as it is still raining, the meeting room “has a leak”. Improvised swearing of the day had to be “arse ferrets”. I played the scene change sting at the end instead of the playout music, but it seems that no-one really noticed.

I have lots of blogging to catch up on – two days’ worth and a diatribe about Late n Live to write, so straight off to Brooke’s for peace, quiet and wifi. On the way there, while I’m waiting to cross the road, a woman got her brolly caught on the Toy Story alien I have on my melodeon bag. We laughed.

Cue a LONG blog sesh. Two of my normal, loquacious posts. Took hours. I was full of ire about Late n Live but it’s going to have to wait until after Gordon Southern’s show, which I hosted a preview of so I’m very keen to go and he’s organised me a ticket. Bump into Gordon in the Dome shop. He nips off to get his show ready. Also bump into Tuck – tell him I’ve got to dash as I’m picking up a ticket for a show; he has to dash also as he’s “off to do the admin” which in my head gets put to the tune of “We’re Off to See the Wizard”.

Teviot box office seems to have a Ye Olde Sweetie Shoppe in it for some random reason. I must come back and get some sweeties. Gordon’s show was pretty fully-formed when I saw it, as it had already been doing the rounds of the Australian festivals, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything has changed.

Bits that stick in my mind are a well observed bit of physical comedy he calls his “History Channel Walk”. I got a Gold Star but failed to catch it – he says “It doesn’t matter. She’s my friend who didn’t pay to get in.” which gets a laugh. He has a gift for succinct descriptions – he is in the Teviot Nightclub which is normally, you’ve guessed it, a student nightclub, or as he describes it “fingering dungeon”. He also gets a big laugh when he has to take a quick toke of his inhaler and calls it his “lung gun”.

After the show I found my star on the floor, but gave it back to Gordon as he was running out. He jumps briefly as there is some kind of air tube blowing off round the back of Teviot where the food stalls are. He’s compering Late n Live Wednesday but I’ll have had two nights up late on the trot and I don’t think I’ll be able to manage it.

Squeeze in Danielle Ward’s storytelling show Playdead, which features Milly Thomas, whom I have mentioned previously, at the end – I’ve been promising her I’ll go for a while now. Ward has to ask at the start if anyone has come expecting her standup show – in retrospect she seems to have regretted alternating them, as it seems people hear a recommendation for one or other of the shows and then manage to come on the wrong day. I have come on the correct day, thankfully.

An interesting selection of spooky comedy stories. Not too spooky though. The first is a touching tale of a shy courtship by post gone wrong, with an odd but pleasing twist at the end; the reason for the seemingly random words. The reanimating doctor and his Hoover Baby treads the darkness between comedy and horror nicely, and Milly features in a little sketch based on what the people who have to clean up after the more messy crimes (someone has to do it) turn up at a haunted house. Lovely stuff, and something a bit different.

Back to Brooke’s. The Pleasance’s answer to Team GB, Tim Vine at the dartboard and Thom Tuck at the pool table, are in residence. TT and friends retire to a sofa, and we start talking about Olympic events no longer featured, like flower arranging and chess. I volunteer the fact that Team GB have been the reigning Olympic Cricket champions for over 100 years now, and the French team they defeated were in fact ironically made up of British expats. This is true. You can look it up.

Time for us to head down to Cabaret Voltaire again. While I’m waiting for Thom to retrieve his uke and Simba from their secret hiding place somewhere in the Chaplaincy, I see a man with his shirt on inside out (again, the tag). It must be catching. We walk down to Cab Vol and I note that carrying a musical instrument and a Disney soft toy seems to be a really good way of broadcasting you are about to do a show and therefore not worth bothering with flyers. I must remember that one.

Ross/Nala has arrived. We’re trying to work out what Lion King character I’d be. This is what happens when you are talking to someone who, along with you and last year’s tech, has probably seen Thom Tuck Goes Straight to DVD more than anyone else in the world. Including Tuck. This discussion morphs into a debate about whether Nala can be rightfully described a Disney Princess or not. He reckons not, as she has no “flowing locks”, but I counter that she does have a tail.

Someone has left a pile of flyers and, for some reason, an avocado at the back. I joke to the boys preparing the stage area that someone has come prepared with their own fruit to throw. The girl at the back who asked me if it was my avocado, has to agree that that would be a vicious fruit to throw. Splat and a hard centre. Evil. I bag a nice seat, and watch as Thom is stalking his territory, idly singing along to the blues interval music while rearranging chairs in a feng shui pre-show moment.

David in the front row gets lots of “Points!” today. He knows his Disney DVDs. And/or can speak Spanish. Someone at the front laughs so loudly that Tuck’s mask comes off again and he cracks up, saying “I have never heard such a nervous laugh!”. I also notice that he does occasionally betray the fact that he went to an American school, not just by talking about it but also by the fact that in some sentences he says “got” but in others he says “gotten”. Watch a show repeatedly enough times and you begin to notice subtleties within subtleties. It never ceases to amaze me how a comedian can respond to something from the audience with a bit of material that normally comes much later in the show, and then get back to where they should have been in the first place. It comes with familiarity and practice, I imagine. “That was soooo good!” says a girl as she leaves. Last year’s award nominated show for free. It certainly is. I never tire of watching it myself.

My phone external power pack is flat. So now, my phone is nearly flat, so I have to move back to Ye Olde Pen and Paper. Nostalgia.

ACMS tonight so back to Brooke’s. I go via the Dome Shop with Ed Coleman (the face of Ponder Stibbons, as I have previously mentioned), as I want to try and get rid of this potential lurgi before it bites. Baguette with Applewood cheese, big bottle of orange, crisps and chocolate. That should do it. So here’s me having my what I call “brinner” (breakfast/lunch/dinner) half an hour before midnight. I don’t need my pass to get into Brooke’s these days. The boss knows me now. This pleases me.

Food with Nala while he’s on Skype to his lady. I do a bit of knitting to chill. I’ve got a heat rash inside my right elbow from the melodeon bag strap. I suffer for art. Time to start carrying it on the other side for a bit. Brief chat to Mr Legge on the way out about the relative merits of different late night comedy shows, and then off to ACMS.

Ross and I, once inside, gravitate to the back and have a chat with the tech to talk shop about lighting desks for a bit. Find a place at the back to stow my melodeon and settle down for ACMS. Now I am with my tribe, who can do appropriate call and response routines. John-Luke comes on stage to announce “The show will start in one minute… this is for my co-host as much as you”. Tuck stalks past to prove he is in the room, drink in hand, from the bar. Very Pete and Dud. International Comedy for tonight (I did Esperanto at the first week) is a 3 minute routine in Norwegian, which was well-received. Apparently it might have been about cats, so I’m told.

Johnny and the Baptists are the house band for tonight, which involves them singing short snatches of pop songs with the lyrics changed to suit the oncoming act. The first is “What is love? David O’Docherty, O’Docherty, no more”, who does more Bontempi Home Organ style songs, including one outstanding one about what parties are actually like – “Receive the Party!” he shouts before the start.

Back to Pete and Dud – ahem… John-Luke and Thom. Cue ACMS’ resident dipsomaniac to announce “I’ve got a new drink! I have a brown drink, and a blue drink…”. “Don’t encourage him” says John-Luke, so of course they do, and Tuck begins to create what is probably the first (and probably the last) beer and blue WKD cocktail.
TT: “Bottle is my friend”.
JLR: “Preferably full, and with the lid on”.
TT: “No, potential friend”.

And now for Ben Target (Esperanto pronunciation guide would be Taĵej – always useful to use a language that has rigid pronunciation to remember how to pronounce odd things. Basically it’s like Hyacinth Bucket). Apparently he has promised not to make a big mess. Everyone is expecting a big mess. Our MC’s stand at the side of the stage looking daggers as Ben takes to the stage. Johnny and the Baptists sing “Heeeeeeeey, Ben Target! (oooh, ah)” and the scene is set.

Two men, one in pants (of course), one in a towel, kneel on the stage playing chess for some minutes, echoed by the woman behind who is doing face painting (a choice of the barcode from a Club biscuit, a slighlty wonky clown face, a spolier of the ending of Sixth Sense, or three ducks on a wall – I saw all of these displayed in the Dome afterwards). Thank the Muse for ACMS. Surreal isn’t just random. It means it is beyond real. So it has to be grounded in reality. Things have to be logically possible, just out of context.

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Anticipation builds. Enter about 20 people carrying shaving foam pies, to the music of “We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be” from Bugsy Malone. You can guess what happened next.
Ten Seconds of Mayhem
There is now shaving foam all over the stage, up the backdrop, and on Tuck’s elbow. The chess players have continued to play through the orgy of soapy destruction. Finally Target shouts “Checkmate!” and a wrestling match ensues between the two chessplayers. Wonderful stuff.

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Brief cleaning up ensues.
TT:”At least this time we can shave the stage clean”.

I go to the bar for a drink as it’s as hot in here as ever. Phone now totally flat. Walking back I get an odd olfactory experience; if I turn to my right I can smell stale sweat, and if I turn to my left I can smell shaving foam. It smells like a school changing room in here.

Tuck is being the facepainting pimp, picking people out and leading them by the hand to be painted. He tries to get me in as well but I tend to come out in hives with a lot of things, and I don’t want “Bruce Willis is a ghost” picked out in red welts on my face for the next few days, so politely decline. I’m sure she does use hypoallergenic paints but you can’t be too careful.

The next act involves a video screen, which is being set up. Tuck is fiddling with his microphone as if a guitarist is about to come on.
JLR: “The sound doesn’t come out of the screen”.
TT: “This one is for the up sound. Yours is for the down sound”.

JLR, baffled, does as he is bid, and the video begins. It is a long, complex and wonderfully animated intro sequence to someone announcing briefly that he can’t come.

Back to our hosts. John-Luke tells his alphabetical celebrity story, to the sound of Thom audibly banging his head repeatedly on his microphone. Then we are treated to some of Thom’s eyebrow acting. On the audience being asked if they have any requests, “Sober Eyebrows” gets a big laugh.

Next act is Tom Bell (“Underground, overground, Tom Belling free”). Ideas for novel stag do’s culminate in a “meat hammer” game, in which a man from the audience (Irish, but having to wear the stag’s uniform of St George Flag wig) has to batter some random meat in a bag with a hammer and guess what it is. He loses. Thom decides he wants the Scottish Breakfast pack (now somewhat dented) and sidles up to steal it from the stage.

The next act obviously hadn’t got the memo. He thought alternative and experimental meant edgy. He did have some good points and the audience received him politely, as I think they’d worked out he’d taken a wrong turn somewhere, but it didn’t really fit in, and the two comperes come on afterwards and look at one another as if to say “what now?” and promise more whimsy to come. Fortunately, in a short time the audience are spontaneously chanting “Whim-sy! Whim-sy! Whim-sy!”, prompting Tuck to raise his arms and shout “I love you!” with emotion at his beloved audience, and all is well again. Cue the whimsy. A lion on a hill, talking about famous lions.

All of the painted ones are now called to the stage as if it were a re-enactment of “We are the World”, swaying behind Johnny and the Baptists as they do a great song about Quentin Blake. The singer says “this is wierd” and Tuck, on his offstage mic, replies “No it isn’t”. This is ACMS. I must go to some of the London ones.

On the walk home, the bakery is baking, and playing ELO’s “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”. Lovely tune, lovely smell.