Saturday, 20 January 2018

Bear Jokes at The Leyton Star

Bear Jokes has had a rough old time of late with the Christmas and new year battering audience numbers but last Thursday's event showed the fresh shoots of a spring-style recovery with cheerful couples in attendance looking for something to lift their January blues.

The line-up had plenty of variety and, of course, bucketloads of talent. Whether it was Cheeky Kita going for surrealist impressions (see photo), Dan Attfield singing London Underground based love songs or David McIver introducing his fantastically awkward Shy Man character there was nothing not to like in our comedy broom cupboard. For my part I dusted off a reinvigorated Shuffle and Stop and confirmed that Meal Deal is a bona fide classic. I have an avalanche of Edinburgh previews booked from March onwards which will no doubt pack the room and give Leyton something to laugh about as we all slide into a Brexit related collapse by the summer. Ian Lane headlines the next show on Feb 1st - which is also the start of my birthday weekend so perhaps I'll see you there as I'm more than likely disappearing to the coast the next day to clear the smog from my lungs.

Today Anna and I are off to the Musical Comedy Awards opening round to see if we can make a hundred comedy fans smile enough to give us their vote then next Thursday we have a twenty minute set in Hackney for Folked Up. The festival calendar is filling up nicely with appearances booked for Brigton Fringe, Hastings Comedy Festival and the Merthr Tydfil Comedy Weekend. We should know where we are for Edinburgh this year by the start of February too. 

It's all so exciting I bought no less than four different retro computer t-shirts today for stage wear. Yes, four.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Two gigs in east London

Last week I found myself at two east London gigs. The first was my own Bear Jokes whilst the second was Peter Merriment’s Comedy Beast in Bromley by Bow.

Bear Jokes had a storming lineup with great new material on offer. The minimal crowd didn’t detract from this but more bums on seats would have been better. 

London gigs with large audiences appear to neatly divide between newbie “bringer” nights with 15+ acts doing 5 minutes each with a friend in tow a contractual obligation and pro shows with names off the telly charging big money. 

Low cost / pay what you want shows with high quality established circuit acts, Bear Jokes being one, find themselves full one night and empty the next on the whim of the great British public. It’s a challenge and should anyone have any fresh ideas I’m all ears as there has to be a middle in this turnout sandwich somewhere.

By contrast, Comedy Beast was packed out thanks to its bringer policy for all but a handful of more established acts doing longer sets (Anna and I included). The newbies were of decent quality and with Ali Woods on MC duties it all hung together rather well. We nailed two songs in eight minutes in optimistic readiness for the Musical Comedy Awards semi-finals (at 6 minutes the opening heat will be a single song job) and had plenty of good feedback from the crowd. Peter, you are a legend.

So is the person who, according to my download site, bought the FWP album on iTunes in the last month. I figured we’d all gone to streaming by now. £4 in the bank. Kerching.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Comedy Beast at The Hoop and Toy, South Kensington

This evening I headed down to South Kensington for the newly relocated Comedy Beast with MC Peter Merriment. Having found out Anna and I had made the heats for Musical Comedian of the Year earlier in the day, I was focussed on how to deliver two songs with the requisite before and between song patter in the 8 minute limit.

The room was well lit with plenty of other acts in attendance plus a smattering of real audience. I found myself to be topping the evening's entertainment and settled in with a pint of coke and no preconceptions.

The material flowed with the usual mix of the good and the very much in development. It was a warm crowd though and we urged each other on when things got rocky. The bit about masturbating someone's nose will probably stay with me forever - no matter how much I try to expunge it.

Come 10pm I was up and delivering Meal Deal with caffeine-assisted vigour and the clubbing chat that preceded West End revealed three clubs that had never come up before (Jesters, Valentinos and Manhatten I salute you). I'm building quite a picture of the UK's least desirable night spots. I suspect it could be the basis for a Radio 4 endorsed travel log in a similar vein to that book about traversing the UK open mic scene with a ukelele.

Did I do it in 8 minutes? Did I heck. 10 minutes and 3 seconds. Time for some serious editing on the chat. That or write a song that lasts 1:30.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Bear Jokes at The Leyton Star

It's been a while since I performed to two real audience but last night's Bear Jokes proved that just because the total number of people in the room is tipping halfway to ten it doesn't mean it'll be a bad night.

It didn't start promisingly. One act cancelling without replacement and a second not showing up wasn't ideal. We hung on for 15 minutes as the room remained stubbornly empty and our opener had to shoot on to another gig. 3 acts and an MC remained and we thought we'd workshop the night away. 

Darren Walsh had some great new material and Susie Steed was concluding her satire when two actual audience members arrived. Susie did a bit more before MC Nig Lovell suggested a quick beer break before our "headline" 20.

Beers duly in we performer like it was a full room and somehow it wasn't a total car crash. Meal Deal, Shuffle and Stop, West End and Airport all got a look in and our two happy punters joined in with carefree abandon. The video may not be ideal for the Musical Comedy Awards as planned but there's always tonight to shoot one with additional bodies in the room.

Post-show we had a drink with our audience and were assured they'd be back.

We'll fill our comedy ark with followers yet, if necessary two by two...

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Jolly Rogers at The George Vaults, Rochester

This evening I hopped on the train, meal deal in hand, to Rochester for Jolly Rogers at The George Vaults. My last visit has been a good one and I was looking forward to returning - particularly as the promoter had told me I was his wife's favourite act. Forget your reviews, this is what really counts when it comes to repeat bookings!

The first half was comfortable and charming. Fiona Ridgewell and Kieran Pool both being familiar faces mixing up old and new material. By the halfway point the room had filled nicely and I put on my visor and limbered up for a 4 song set.

Meal Deal got the ball rolling and Shuffle and Stop worked well with its debut electro reworking. Clicking Like seemed particularly topical with its reference to sharing social media posts from the far right and the newly reworked Two Shots wrapped things up nicely. 

Performing in what looks like a crypt thankfully didn't result in dying on stage and I look forward to returning in 2018, hopefully at a time when I don't have leg it to the train afterwards to get in at a decent time.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Bear Jokes at The Leyton Star

Last week Bear Jokes was back in action in Leyton with a line-up of familiar faces and an audience consisting of the acts themselves, three local housemates and a quietly mysterious man at the back. Given the broom cupboard proportions of the room this still felt quite busy so it was on with show and Anna and I opening with Meal Deal. 

It's been commented before that this track is pretty minimal compared to earlier offerings but ,in comedy terms at least, less-is-more seems to be particularly appropriate. Much as I enjoy covering my tracks in thumping basslines and retro synths it's clear that once in a while the audience like it stripped back with the focus fully on the lyrics. Tonight was no exception and we were all chanting within two refrains of the chorus hook.

Following us Ian Miller ran through his tried and tested best, Alice Frick returned from a three year hiatus since performing at one of my nights and Gatis Kandis cross examined the audience in the way only he can. We closed the first half with a stomping rendition of Airport - some danced, others just look completely overwhelmed by the rave vibes colliding with Scooter's back catalogue.

In the second half Sadia Azmat and Jonny Gillam both did well and Yuriko Kotani rounded things off with some brand spanking new material. Thumbs up all round.

In other news, I'm pleased to announce that 2018's First World Problems show is now confirmed for Brighton Fringe for four Saturdays over May and June at The Temple bar at 2.30pm. We're currently working on it being a full-on hip hop show parody so bring your bizzle to the izzle and we'll see' shizzle....

Sunday, 5 November 2017

First World Problems on iTunes

It's been a long time coming but having remixed, revived and rebooted the recordings of all my tracks the debut album is finally "in the can" and makes its debut on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Tidal etc al from Monday 6th November (that's tomorrow chronology fans).

I'm not expecting Andy Quirk's Got First World Problems to storm the chart (though, in a fit of optimistic egomania, I did throw in an extra tenner to ensure it is actually chart eligible) but as another step on the enormous ladder to some kind of recognition beyond the comedy community it's very much worthwhile. I'm very proud of it. If you have any of the services mentioned please do check it out and let me know what you think. If you don't subscribe, here's it is on Soundcloud.

Elsewhere this week I hosted Bear Jokes with another very fine line-up. "Meal Deal" went down well at the start and satisfyingly a number of people doubled up in laughter part-way through. John Paul-Mcque travelled down from Darlington with his bag of wind to amuse the assembled with his headline set and a bunch of tourists from Germany left a fiver each in the bucket even though they could only stay for the first half. The Leyton Star's room is a cosy little space and one I'm glad to have found. The mugging-depicting wallpaper being just one of the hipster highlights.

Next Saturday Anna and I find ourselves back in South Kensington for Go West Comedy with a set we hope to record for the Musical Comedy Awards. If you're looking for something to do that night I'd thoroughly recommend it.