Friday, 30 August 2019
Reading time 1 minute 07 seconds
The war is over for me now – Private Chris Taylor – Platoon
I’m now finished at the Edinburgh Fringe 2019.
Here’s are some statistics, and the odd memory or two I have from the experience.
• Number of days in Edinburgh x 26
• Number of great days in Edinburgh x 26
• Days performed x 24
• Shows per day X 3
• Shows performed in X 71
• Approximate audience members x 3782
• Comedians who performed at compilation show X 92
• Number of four star reviews for compilation show X 1
• Days off X 1
• Fringe flu time off [it’s like Man Flu, affects both genders and is real] X 0.5
• Deaths on stage X 9
• Excellent performances x 7
• OK performances x 71 minus 16
Funniest thing said to me when I spoke to them backstage;
Me: The audience clearly don’t like me.
Comedian: No, they do not!
Funniest line I heard;
Two comedians were walking down the street. Both were having bad days. A Fire Engine raced past with sirens blaring.
Comedian 1: Some lucky sod is burning to death.
Comedian 2: I wish I was them.
Funniest thing I saw;
A Street performer named Mephistopheles who played the accordion while singing Madonna’s like a virgin. I laughed like I did when I was 5 years old.
Feedback on my solo show;
“It’s got a lot of heart”
Other feedback on my solo show;
Audience Member: I saw your Skydive show yesterday!
Me: Did you enjoy it?
Audience Member: I Loved it, my other half didn’t. In fact………….
Even more feedback on my solo show;
Comedian: Your show must have been rubbish today as you finished 15 minutes early.
One person said it was the best show they’d ever seen, which is a lovely thing to say. The following day I had the worst gig, then repeated that 2 days on the trot.
I had a great time and was shown love, compassion and kindness by so many people it really was overwhelming. It felt as if everyone wanted to help me and that is very humbling.
I love the festival and the people I meet while doing it and will return with a smile next year.
Picture: Walking home after a lovely gig I spied my solo show flyer in the gutter all on its own. That’s the Edinburgh Fringe!
Friday, 23 August 2019
Reading time 1 minutes 16 seconds
Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity – Roy T. Bennett
I’m at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival performing my first solo show “Skydive to Stand up”.
It’s a 45 minute story covering my skydiving accident. It’s part of the Free Festival which means I cover the costs by accepting donations from my audience as they leave.
Some people donate, some don’t. I’m only angry at one person so far. I know I shouldn’t be but I am.
It was a Sunday and the audience were 47 strong and the show went well. Not my best if I’m being honest but I entertained and the feedback was very good as I stood by the door and people left and generously giving.
A young man in his twenties stopped and explained how he enjoyed the show and could really relate but that he wouldn’t be donating.
I enquired as to why, remembering to late that curiosity killed the Mat.
On one of my jokes his mate whispered something in his ear that was funnier than my joke. He went on to explain that he wasn’t being rude but he thought his mate was more entertaining in that moment so would not donate.
I should have thanked him for his time and let him walk on.
I should have done a lot of things that day.
I told him his mate was a terrible whisperer as I heard something during the show but could not make it out and when I asked them what it was the pair of them said nothing. Which I was the very definition of being rude. He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and walked off. I Long to feel that sense of privilege that the young man carried with him.
The next person in line gave a bigger donation explaining they had overheard our encounter and were sitting near the rude man and his pal and that they were idiots as it was a great show. This travelled down the line and the donations increased proving that humans are very kind.
I’m still angry about that rude man. Not because he didn’t donate, the interaction between us gave me more money than if he would have reached into his long pockets with his very short arms.
I’m furious because I’ve woken up three times at night now thinking about that show and the encounter. I want to know what his mate said so I can compare the jokes. Not knowing is killing me.
I still Love this festival!
Picture: My favourite place to relax in Edinburgh to get my feline fix. https://www.maisondemoggy.com
Friday, 16 August 2019
Reading time 1 minutes 25 seconds
Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated – Mark Twain
I’m still at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival selling my show. I do this by standing on street corners shouting into the void, handing out flyers with my details on. Some days it’s soul destroying one moment and uplifting the next.
Below is an almost verbatim word for word exchange between myself and a prospective audience member.
Me: Hello, I’ve a show starting in 20 minutes would you be interested?
Stranger: Sure. What’s it about?
I show them my flyer and point to my picture.
Me: It’s about this handsome devil who jumped out of an plane and forgot to pull his parachute.
Stranger: Is that handsome devil you?
Stranger: Did he die?
Me: Who me?
Stranger: Are you sure?
Stranger: So was it fatal?
Me: You mean did I die?
Me: At this moment I wish I had.
Stranger: Is it you?
Stranger: So you couldn’t have died.
Stranger: So how did you survive?
Me: Come to the show and find out.
Stranger: There’s no point now, I know how it ends.
I thanked them for their time and walked away.
After my performance that day, as people were walking out and thanking me for a great show, the stranger appeared as if by magic. They stopped and generously gave me £10 as a way of thanks for being entertained. They explained they had to come along just to make sure I didn’t die.
I Love this festival!
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My next shows: Edinburgh Fringe Festival 1st until 25th August 2019
My Solo comedy show
17:00 Skydive to stand up [45 minutes] Everyday
101 Comedy 14:30 & 19:30 [1 hour] Everyday
Both @ The Hanover Tap, 112 Hanover Street, Edinburgh. EH2 1DR
Picture: My Flyer, featuring a handsome devil.
Friday, 9 August 2019
Reading time 01 minutes 58 seconds
Don’t look back in Anger – Noel Gallagher
I’m trying to be a nicer person. Who knew it would be so hard?
I stand on street corners. It’s a living.
I do this In order to sell my show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival by handing out flyers which details the venue, and show itself, and as I stuff them in the hands of passers-by, I try to convince them to come and see me as opposed to one of the other 3000 shows that are on every day.
My favoured street corner happens to be 150 seconds from my venue.
I hand out hundreds of these daily, and for one lady I gave her my sales pitch and saw her smile as she walked away. A few minutes before show time I left the safety of my corner and walked the brief walk to the venue. I happened to stop by a kind looking lady and handed her my flyer.
She was not kind though. Anger erupted from her as it turned out someone else had handed her a flyer and she loved the sound of the show but on arrival was turned away as she had a child who was under 18.
In her incandescent Scottish tones, she raged that I should tell my boss and ensure that all people who flyer in Edinburgh should make it clear that children can’t get in to some venues.
My soft southern ears believe the raging Scottish accent sounds brutal when it may not be the case. As an example, I often think my Edinburgh landlady and her boyfriend are arguing when in fact they are flirting.
Anyway, I smiled and nodded and then explained that not all venues and acts are connected, and each of the 3000 daily shows are independent. I enquired what show she wanted to see and was pointed to the leaflet in her hand which had my face on it.
“Only I would have handed that to you” I said.
“Then it was you who made us walk all this way. With a child. It’s disgraceful. You don’t know what you’re doing.” She replied.
Her family were standing away from her as she vented at me and I envied them. I figured all of this aggression needed to go somewhere so it may as well go to me as it was strictly speaking my fault. I stood there, took the verbal volleys, and apologised repeatedly to have wasted her time but confessed it was not my intention. We repeated this dance 5 times until she bid me good day and stormed off.
She was gone forever and not for the first time in my life I felt cheated as I didn’t put my point forward and have unresolved conflict which has been eating me up. Here’s what I wanted to say;
“You’re a really mean person”
“I didn’t know you were with your family and to be fair they are not walking near you, and I don’t blame them.
“Why not do what a lot of parents used to do and give your child a can of coke and a bag of crisps and get them to wait outside”
“It’s a very funny show and the kid does have an umbrella”
I feel better now I’ve got that off my chest. Thanks for listening.
That makes me a nicer person, right?
My next shows: Edinburgh Fringe Festival now until 25thAugust 2019
Solo comedy show
17:00 Skydive to stand up [45 minutes] Everyday
101 Comedy compilation show 14:30 & 19:30 [1 hour] Everyday
Both @ The Hanover Tap, 112 Hanover Street, Edinburgh. EH2 1DR
Picture: Me in New Zealand where my Skydiving Adventures began a couple of years ago
Friday, 2 August 2019
Reading time 03 minutes 08 seconds
A firm, hearty handshake gives a good first impression, and you’ll never be forgiven if you don’t live up to it – P. J. O’Rourke
Never meet your heroes, but if you do try not to hurt them is good advice that I should have followed.
I was a bell boy in the London Marriott Hotel and worked on the Concierge front desk. There were four Concierges who could source anything a guest required and each one in some small way shaped the person I am today. Looking back I had great lessons taught, some painful to learn, some necessary.
They had all been doing the job for some time and traditions were followed one of them being the hello handshake. I would start my shift and no matter what they were doing, they would stop everything and give their full attention to greeting me.
“Good morning Matthew”.
I was never Mat or Willsy always Matthew as that was the name on my badge. Then they’d shake my hand while making eye contact.
What a lovely thing to do, or as I’ve noticed in other places I’ve worked, what a sad thing not to do. That handshake offered you a connection in some small way, that physical contact reminds you that your colleagues are real, that they are there. It tethered you to each other as human beings. I miss it.
One of the concierges was Dagenham Dave, he was funny, very cheeky with eyes to match and always had a great story to tell. At the first time of meeting me and after shaking my hand he said my grip and my whole manner of the greeting was wrong and that he’d show how it was done. This happened every day for two and a half years.
Dave was a huge man, he had boxers hands, a boxers nose, and boxers ears. He might have boxed in his youth.
“Morning, Matthew” he’d announce then his hand would swallow mine as if I was slipping it into an oven glove. He would grasp my mit then squeeze tightly.
The first time it hurt, the next time I was ready and I offered resistance. He responded in kind.
These days he’d be done for physical assault, but back then it was a lesson to be taught, and more importantly, learnt. Over time my grip grew stronger, it probably helped that I was also a teenage boy.
Once I could shake hands like a Dagenham man, Dave took his lesson onto stage two which involved crunching my hand on the shake until I could withstand it no more. Once again my grip grew stronger and eventually Dave’s Bearpaw held no power over me. My right hand was a lean, mean, squeezing machine and very well moisturised, because I was a teenager.
To this day I still grip everyone’s hand in greeting way too tightly. it’s as if I am overcompensating for my height, or something else. I’m not. I’ve just got a very strong right hand thanks to Dagenham Dave the concierge.
A few years later I met one of my favourite writers who was signing his latest book opposite a computer shop I worked in. He sauntered in wearing a hat, a long coat and a beard and looked like the type of man who wrote the books I loved, mainly because he was.
I introduced myself and shook his hand. He screamed.
I stood there amazed by my heroes high pitched wailing but failed to stop, I just kept shaking while he kept screaming.
I was Lenny from Mice and Men and his hand was the helpless mouse that I patted and squeezed and called George.
The Author could not escape my clutches because Dagenham Dave had taught me well. He then stopped his wailing and shouted at me to let go of his hand.
After ice was applied he explained in a long writery fashion that he’d been signing books all afternoon as well as just having completed writing one. His hand was in agony and I had not helped him any. If only he’d met Dagenham Dave when he was a teenager, he’d have a stronger grip. He said he wouldn’t be able to write for days, maybe weeks, and he was furious.
He did go on to write more books, lots more. He became quite successful and I hope that was partly down to me making him develop stronger hand muscles. Sadly I was so disappointed in this man’s handshake that I never read another one of his books again. If you get a chance though you should, he is a very talented writer and I’ve been told his books are marvellous. His name is Terry Pratchett.
It’s good to have mementos to remember people by and I think fondly of Dagenham Dave on a daily basis as I’ve now got arthritis in my right hand.
Picture: Me on the first day of the Fringe taking it easy watching comedians work. What a great job!