Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Edinburgh Fringe 1984 - Fringe Sunday



In 1984 a young couple visited the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time, here are some of their souvenirs. At that time there was a tradition of Fringe Sunday, an open air event which began with a parade of floats down the Royal Mile and culminated in an afternoon on the green in Holyrood Park. Performers would showcase their events, sometimes in tents, sometimes on the back of trucks, and there would be general open-air shenanigans, the likes of which most of us would associate with the usual summer festivals which, unlike, Edinburgh, are all tents and outsideyness. Fringe Sunday had begun in 1981 and continued every year until 2008 by which time the Fringe had grown too big to accommodate it. Now more street performance takes place on the Royal Mile every hour than was staged in 1984's Fringe Sunday. (The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre performed in the Cabaret Tent of the final Fringe Sunday in 2008).

Above we see some street performerly art performance with big flags and colourful costumes. There was a lot of that. And below you might just make out Tom Robinson, then cult pop star riding high in the charts with War Baby, now a Radio 6 DJ, wanging a welly* in the general direction of Hank Wangford, a qualified medical practitioner and humourous country and western act who in 1984 was nominated for the Perrier Award, and aged 73 is still gigging.


You can also see tickets for two shows we attended at 84's Fringe, a Tom Lehrer musical for £2 and The Cambridge Footlights for the then highest-price-in-town of £3.50. Riddles Court, where We Will All Go Together was staged, is a unique A-listed 16th Century courtyard house with a rare late C16th painted beam ceiling and rooms that once housed a banquet for James VI. Now being preserved and restored, back then they let student theatre groups loose in it.

The Footlights show of 1984 starred Steve Punt, Hugh Dennis and Nick Hancock. A very funny show (we still quote the line "he was ever an unfortunate man"), their predecessors had won the Perrier in 1981 and, though many ex-Footlighters have gone on to win the award, the Footlights itself would not be nominated again until 2001 (as Best Newcomers).

* Wikipedia says it was a cow pat. Thirty years on I stand corrected.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014, July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm

Monday, 28 July 2014

MacScottish Play - brand new Socks costumes


Is this a dagger that I see before me? No, it's a fantastic new Macbeth costume, made by Heather, for the grand finale of the Scottish Falsetto Socks new show, ...And So Am I. And if that's not exciting enough, check this out.


Hubble bubble toilet trouble, it's one of the witches off the blasted heath. Complete with entertaining hat (not quite hours of endless fun, but certainly a few enjoyable seconds). See these and so much more in the brand new show, running all month in Edinburgh.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Edinburgh 1984 - Flashback

30 years ago a young couple went to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time. In this blog we're looking at some of their souvenirs. And how are these for the ultimate Edfringe mementoes? A bedfull of flyers and membership cards to the Fringe Club.

The Fringe Club? Whatever happened to that? In 1984 it was the must-be, have-to-have-membership-of... it was the ultimate dangled preposition in Edinburgh. Now I'm not entirely sure it's still a thing. I'll ask.

As for the flyers in this photo. That was days' worth of the flyers one got thrust in one's hand walking down the Royal Mile. I seem to remember plucking flyers from dispensers to add to the stash. 30 years later, you'll be rejecting this many flyers every 30 to 35 seconds, thrust insistently into your face. And they'll be in colour, not just photocopied onto coloured paper. Really, the 1980s, how third world do you want everyone to think you were?


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Socks Edfringe promo clips - 3 of them

You wait ages for a Scottish Falsetto Socks promo film for the new Edinburgh show, and three come along at the same time. They're short little stings, we hope you enjoy them. Above (click to play) we have a Mumford & Son teaser, below there's a word from Nigel Farage, and below that we have a skit on the satirical theme of our show.

Whether there's a connection or not we can't say, but after we'd spent the afternoon making these, our sales took a big upturn, a lovely little blip on the graph (which is a very healthy graph we must say, leaving the last two year's sales way behind).



The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Fringe Pig arrives - reviewers get stuffed. Toys.



How delighted are we to be invited to be all over the launch of a new website - Fringe Pig. We've recorded a new song and video, and here it is for the first time. (If you can't read the subtitles, here's a bold subtitled version).

The brainchild of comedian and journalist (anonymous), Fringe Pig is edited by a stuffed elephant called Mr Kipper, and aims to review all the Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviewers, with the reviews being done by stuffed toys.

UPDATE Aug 3rd: Two people today, on the streets in Edinburgh, thought I was the person behind Fringepig, and one reviewer (who knew who was actually behind the site) was critical of my involvement. Can I just make it clear in this update that I'm not responsible for Fringe Pig. I was happy to be asked to make a video to appear on the site (and to get a free advert on the site), and the Socks' light-hearted attitude to reviews is clear in the song, but the reviews that appear on Fringe Pig (which I hadn't seen when we made our video) don't have anything to do with me and don't reflect my opinion of any of the reviewers or publications mentioned.

Here is Mr Kipper's original press release, as featured on Chortle:

'Mr Kipper' on another new festival website

First of all, there is no plug for an Edinburgh Fringe show tacked onto the end of this article. It is not a fatuous blether with an advert on the end. I’m not even going to Edinburgh.

I know what time of year it is. I know that, by now, all Fringe-bound comedians will be feeling anxious and agitated. Perhaps the paradox of appearing confident and happy is grating against the reality of feeling frightened, clammy-palmed and stressed. Perhaps you already feel lonely.
But think of all the reviewers heading that way. They feel just the same as you. Some of them have invested literally tens of pounds, and minutes of time blagging a sofa for a couple of days. Some have bought brand new notepads and pens from WH Smith. Some have forfeit a month of their too-short university holiday, or the chance to sit in a field surrounded by strangers and bottles of warm supermarket cider, for the dream of being discovered as a reviewer.

Every August, hundreds of young people gamble the best part of their summer on the hope that someone out there will read their reviews and offer them the chance to write some more reviews, or maybe give them an unpaid internship or something. And for all but a few, that dream is broken on the wheel of Fringe. Many don’t even get noticed. Some reviews don’t even get read.

So here’s what I’m selling: fringepig.co.uk.

It’s a new website, in which all the Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviewers are reviewed. By stuffed toys.

I know what you’re thinking: Not another one. Not another fly-by night Fringe rag in which stuffed toys review all the comedy reviewers. I know you have reservations. I’ve heard them all. Here are some of the statements I’ve had to deal with:

'Bloody comedy reviewer-reviewers! They’re all just failed comedy reviewers!'
Ah, no. None of our staff have ever been comedy reviewers. They have only ever been stuffed toys. And I know reviewers can’t get their heads around this, but not EVERYONE wants to be a reviewer. It’s not THAT glamorous.

'Why does the Fringe NEED comedy reviewer-reviewers?'
Well I’ll remind you that there were almost 200 comedy critics at the Fringe last year, most of them penning about three reviews a day. The Fringe-going public simply doesn’t have the time to read 600 comedy reviews each and every day of their visit. The growth of comedy reviewing means there is a genuine need for stuffed toys, with experience of reviewing, to sift and assess these reviewers; to tell the public which reviewers are worth their valuable time and which ones to miss.

'Most reviewer-reviewers have no life experience and don’t even know what they’re looking at.
True, but at Fringepig we try to make the most of that. None of our reviewer-reviewers have anything AT ALL in their heads apart from sawdust and foam, so they have no preconceptions with which to judge from.

'Comedy reviewer-reviewers are making the Fringe all about stars and soundbites when it should be about the art and beauty of reviewing comedy'
The stars we give out are what SELL the comedy reviewers, and their websites or magazines, to the public. Simple as that. The Fringe is a beauty contest, and the competition for clumsily-penned three-paragraph comedy appraisals is just SO fierce now. We didn’t make it that way and we can’t change it.

All we can do – all ANY reviewer-reviewer can do - is give a boost to the ones who have genuine talent by saying to the public: 'Hey! This person over here can sit in the dark and then write 200 words and hand it in! Read THIS person’s reviews because we gave them four stars for saying something more or less cogent about Paul Foot.'

"Aren’t you just peddling your crappy website to get free tickets to see the comedy reviewers?'
Yes. There is an element of that. We will be writing to ALL the main editors of Fringe publications asking for their reviewers’ schedules. Hopefully we can then turn up in the seat just behind the reviewers and review them at work.

'Lots of comedy reviews are ruined because the comedy reviewer freaks out about having a comedy reviewer-reviewer in.'
This is the biggest comedy-reviewing festival in the world, so comedy reviewers should understand the pressure and be prepared for it. We are very discrete, and most comedy reviewers have the option of not being told that we will be reviewing them. One of us is a life-sized stuffed leopard in a bowler hat who falls off his seat a lot, but apart from that, I would say to all comedy reviewers that by and large you’ll be left alone to just review your show. Remember: we don’t WANT to see you fail.

'Surely there are some comedy reviewers who don’t want you to review them?'
Of course there isn’t. Why would they be up here, putting their names on things that can be viewed all over the world, sometimes with a little photograph and a mini-biog, if they didn’t want to be graded and assessed? Why are they always tweeting that they’ve just written a comedy review about this or that person if they don’t hope it will reach a wider audience? They wouldn’t get into this line of work if they didn’t crave the attention.

'Why are there so many female comedy reviewers? Are they any good at it?'
I’m completely fed up of this question. I mean, what year is it, 2009? There are plenty of male comedy reviewers too if you care to look for them, and some of them are excellent and are doing some really out-there comedy reviewing stuff.

• Mister Kipper is a stuffed elephant who edits Fringepig.co.uk.
 
Posted: 25 Jul 2014


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there. 


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Abracadabra! Las Vegas and Magic

Las Vegas is known for its casinos and there is a good reason behind this, on just about every street there is a casino waiting for you to enjoy its many different casino games. As you walk around the city of Las Vegas you will find something for everybody no matter what kind of tastes or preferences you have. Las Vegas also has a huge history with bringing entertainment acts to people, with its legacy being present even in online casinos such as JackpotCity.org online casino, who have developed Vegas based slots games. However these days another kind of act is starting to become popular again due to new talent on television. The likes of David Blaine and Dynamo have inspired the love of magic in people again and so many people who visit Las Vegas now want to see the magic shows once again.

There are so many of them to see and it all depends on the kind of magic as well as the type of show that you want to see. Just like the huge variety of casinos, they have a huge variety of magicians performing nightly. Take for example David Copperfield, he is one of the most well-known magicians in the world and has been performing huge jaw dropping illusions for decades. He now has a show that takes place in the MGM Grand Casino twice a night so if you can’t get enough of him the first time, there’s always another chance. Maybe you’re not in the mood for something so serious, if this is the case then the likes of Penn & Teller will surely entertain you due to their hilarious comedic routine as well as their incredible magic. You can find this dynamic duo in the Rio casino and you surely won’t regret it.

So not only can you see amazing acts such as Criss Angel as well as many other huge magicians, but you can also enjoy an entire holiday with hundreds of things to do including playing all your favourite casino games at some of the most famous casinos in the world. Your friends will surely be jealous when they hear all the stories you have to tell.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Monty Python vs Crumpkiss - a review

Python Review - Tries to think of title that's not a play on "ex-Parrot". Fails.

Crumpkiss's Half Hour's debut gig at the Hollybush in Cradley Heath this weekend

I had the interesting experience this weekend of watching two comedy acts at the polar extremes of their careers. In Cradley Heath on Saturday I saw a brand new double act, Crumpkiss's Half Hour, doing their very first live performance. And the following night, via Gold, I saw Monty Python doing their last, live at the 02 Arena. The two had curious similarities.

Crump and Ipkiss, one of whom I'd taught comic art to as a teenager and both of whom have just turned 20, performed 30 minutes of ramshackle sketches including cross-dressing, near-nudity, and silly voices, in front of a delighted audience including a good few friends and actual family. They got by on the loving support of the crowd, to whom they mugged regularly, and four of whom joined them on stage for the various sketches. They corpsed frequently, which was always greeted warmly, and covered up their fluffed lines with asides to the audience, often in an exaggerated Brum accent  - "Script? We amn't written one".

This is how many comedy acts start their career, by making their friends laugh. Some of their material is genuinely funny in its own right, most of it gets by with the support of a home crowd. Then, bolstered with the confidence engendered by this nurturing cocoon, the act goes out into the harsh world of audiences full of strangers, and they get better quick or they give up.


This, too, is how Monty Python began. Fifty years ago John Cleese was that awfully funny tall chap reading Law at Downing College and Palin & Jones were those terribly witty undergrads from Brasenose. Their first sketches were bound to be rough and ready but full of promise (Cleese famously approached the Footlights table at Freshers Fair in his first year and was so intimidated by their questions he panicked and fled and didn't join the group until 12 months later). Their first smoking concerts, amateur affairs performed in Junior Common Rooms to drunk friends, will have been met with riotous laughter, and included innumerable fluffs, asides and hilarious cockups. They then went out into the real world and became professionals.

Last night at the 02 Arena, the septagenarian Pythons had regressed to the level of their novice selves. They were, to all intents and purposes, performing in front of family and friends, and felt quite comfortable breaking character, corpsing, mugging and fluffing, secure in the knowledge that whatever they did would be well received. Though I have to say neither of Crumpkiss's Half Hour resorted to reading the other person's cue card for them because the other couldn't quite see it (as Cleese did to Terry Jones during the Crunchy Frog Chocolate sketch).

For me personally, the final Python performance was a return to the way in which I'd first encountered them, as my first real experience of the team was Monty Python Live At Drury Lane, the live album in 1975. As a teenager in the 1970s, I had been too young to see the Monty Python TV series when it first went out - I caught the 4th and final series, which was still on after my bedtime, and found it not nearly as funny as The Goodies, who were much bigger with kids my age.

So it was that I first got to know Monty Python by hearing them, not seeing them. Sketches like The Four Yorkshiremen (which pedants will point out was not originally a Python sketch, having appeared in 1967's At Last The 1948 Show), The Parrot Sketch, The Cheese Shop, The Lumberjack Song and Albatross were greeted with tears of laughter by we groups of schoolboys (I'm sure schoolgirls also listened to the album, but sadly not in my presence) sat around dansettes, filling the pictures in in our minds.


And a fascinating feature of Monty Python Live At Drury Lane was the familiarity the audience already had with those sketches. Unlike us, they weren't hearing them for the first time, as you can tell as their applause greets some sketches at the start, when they realise what they're about to see. This was, I believe, a first. A comedy team from the television, performing live on stage comedy sketches that the audience were already familiar with, and which got funnier on a second hearing.

Many years later, in the 80s when Monty Python was repeated on TV, I finally got to see the original versions of the sketches I'd got to know from the live album and was non-plussed to find that classics like The Parrot Sketch & the Travel Agent were met with almost silence from a baffled audience, and performed without much polish or gusto. Monty Python's best sketches were clearly at their best when performed live.

But there'e performing live when you're at the peak of your comedic career, when you've spent a few years polishing these performances and you've not yet tired of them, and when you're on the verge of springboarding into the next flourish of your career (Monty Python at Drury Lane was followed by the film Monty Python & the Holy Grail launching the directorial careers of Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam in 1975; the first series of Fawlty Towers in the same year; Eric Idle's Rutland Weekend Television the following year; and Palin & Jones Ripping Yarns the year after that). And there's performing when you're seventy.

The Broadway treatment that had been given to the final Monty Python live shows, at the hand of Eric Idle following his success with Spamalot, was the making of the event. Such set pieces as Every Sperm Is Sacred, I Like Chinese, Sit On My Face, The Spam Song and the Lumberjack Song deserve a West End show to themselves. And the filmed items, which gave an opportunity for set changes and a good share of screen time to the late Graham Chapman, stood the test of time well, though quite whether the audience in the 02 expected to be paying 50 quid to watch so many clips from a TV show from 1971 I can't say.

The live sketches were where the strains showed. They were greeted with the aforementioned loving familiarity and appreciation of doting friends, but were quite often a bit ropey. Cleese and Palin were, as always, the best actors of the troupe, making sketches like The Argument and The Parrot Sketch almost as good as they'd ever been. But Terry Jones, who hasn't trod the boards for some decades, seemed a little old for this kind of thing, Terry Gilliam looked like he was there under sufferance and was embarrassed throughout, and Eric Idle, though he sang and danced excellently,  couldn't keep a straight face for more than 10 seconds. It was a shame that routines like Nudge Nudge and The Bruces were reduced to a collection of amateurish ad libs, corpsing, and some gags which were already old when the Pythons joined their first University revues.

And one of Python's unique selling points, the fact that their sketches very rarely had proper punchlines, proved to be a big problem in the live show. A very successful Spanish Inquisition performance crashed awkwardly into The Galaxy Song, and The Cheese Shop was cut-and-shut welded onto The Parrot Sketch, to the detriment of both. Maybe not much could have been done to bring the sketches together better than they were, but one can't help thinking it must have been possible. I don't remember Drury Lane's sketches fizzling out so disappointingly.

Of course I enjoyed watching the Pythons last show, and I'm delighted they did it. I would be pleased to see a version of that show go on tour, with new actors and comedians taking the roles. I think much of the material merits it, and it's a shame to see those costumes and choreography go to waste. And indeed I found it better than I had been (I think I can use the word) dreading. I should be so lucky as to be that entertaining when I'm in my seventies. (Pauses to realise how few years that is. Gulps. Moves on.)

I cannot imagine what a younger generation can possibly have made of that show. Comedy sketches that are from before even my time, from a TV show that ended 40 years ago this year, performed by men older than their own dads were at the time. Perhaps I'll get the opportunity to ask Crumpkiss when I see them next time. For them, I assume, there will be a next time.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Gigglebeats Edfringe sketch show picks

Thanks to the lovely people of GiggleBeats for this:

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: our sketch show picks



So, you like sketch shows? Is that familiar faces, rising stars or complete unknowns? Double acts, threesomes or troupes? As our sketch selection below illustrates, the choice is endless. It’s best to go to Edinburgh with a plan, and tickets for the shows you don’t want to miss. Here are our sketch picks.

 

News Revue 2014


A regular fixture on the Fringe, the show retains all its characteristic freshness and vibrancy as it returns for an incredible 35th year. The winning recipe of two women, two men and a pianist delivers a biting satire on the topical events of the year with a sparkling array of brilliantly performed and written sketches.
Pleasance Courtyard, 6.30pm, 30 July-25 August (except 12 August)

 

Croft and Pearce


On a bare stage and with minimal props, Hannah Croft and Fiona Pearce magically conjure up a dazzling variety of comic characters using only witty dialogue and an impressive physicality. Running gags and audience participation come as standard, and the high laughter count demonstrates that the duo know how to write and put together a show. It’s no surprise that the BBC is already on their trail.
Gilded Balloon, 5.45pm, 30 July-24 August (not 11 August)

 

Ben Ashenden & Alex Owen – The Pin


Confident, clever and strong performers individually and collectively, the fun they’re having on stage is contagious and winning. Their writing stands out too, using and subverting the sketch format to devastating comic effect. Comedy bigwigs descending on Edinburgh searching for the next big thing need look no further than this immensely likeable pair of Footlights alumni.
Pleasance Courtyard, 6.00pm, 30 July-25 August (not 11 & 18 August)

 

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: And So Am I


That’s right, sock puppets. A treat for aficionados of comedy cross-talk, and a tour-de-force of hilarious sketches and songs. Never better than when the script gets thrown out and the puppets interact with the audience. There’s simply nothing like Kev F Sutherland’s wonderful one-off comedy creation on display elsewhere. A sure-fire way of curing Fringe fatigue.
Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm, 30 July-24 August.

 

Twisted Loaf: Half Baked


Together as Twisted Loaf for a mere couple of years, actors Libby Northedge and Nina Smith won top prize at the Funny Women Awards 2013. Gifted physical performers, and accomplished writers, the duo’s blend of clowning and character comedy powers them fearlessly through some of funniest, silliest, and zaniest sketches to be found anywhere on this year’s Fringe. The fact it’s a free show is a bonus.
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 8.45pm, 1-25 August (not 12 August)


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

8 must-see sketch comedy shows at the Fringe

Thanks to the lovely folks of Wow 247 for this:

8 must-see sketch comedy shows at the Fringe

Published by Matthew Dunne-Miles


The Fringe is a great proving ground for comedy sketch groups - new talent gets the chance to shine and more established acts get the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Monty Python, Cambridge Footlights & co.
Matthew Dunne-Miles looks at some of the sketch comedy acts that you would be really rather silly to miss from your Edinburgh itinerary this year.

Anna Morris: Would Like to Thank

Anna Morris may be familiar to some from the BBC 1 show Outnumbered, but in this show she takes on the persona of four comedy creations battling it out to be voted ‘Woman Of The Year’. Who wins? That’s down to the audience. Check out the video below and see why Anna is one of the finest female comedians on the Edinburgh scene.
Jul 30 – Aug 25, Underbelly, £11, more info

Clever Peter: Free For All!

Clever Peter bring their award-winning sketch style back to the Fringe. Their show includes new material and old favourites from their BBC Radio 4 series ‘Strap In – It’s Clever Peter’. We like to think they wear their matching jumpers even when not performing on stage.
Jul 31 – Aug 24, City Cafe, free, more info

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: And So Am I

Sometimes a Fringe show will come up with an abstract or misleading title to reel you in, but it’s safe to say ‘Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’ could not be accused of that. There’s a part of the human brain that’s easily pleased by the sight of a funny-looking puppet using bad language. Watch below as the Sock Puppet Theatre give their take on Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor Who.
Jul 31 – Aug 24, Gilded Balloon, £11, more info

Foil Arms and Hog: Loch’d

Fast paced, smart with wordplay, award winning, willing to accuse you of racism if you even mention a potato. Foil Arms and Hog are a well-oiled sketch machine who are making their return to the Fringe on the back of selling out their shows in the five previous years. No pressure then.
Jul 31 – Aug 24, Underbelly, £10, more info

In Cahoots: Some Like It Hoots

After making their debut last year to positive reviews – the In Cahoots duo are back with their sophomore Fringe show.  Straight away it’s obvious that these young guys have big writing chops and definitely have shades of Fry and Laurie in their delivery. One to watch this year – they could go far.
Aug 1 -25, St. John’s, free, more info

BBC: Sketchorama

A chance to see some up and coming sketch show talent courtesy of the Beeb and their long running Radio 4 series ‘Sketchorama’. Expect young talent with a way with words – but hurry and enter for tickets now as it’s for one night only.
Aug 11, Potterow, free, more info

Cardinal Burns

Fresh from their second series on channel 4, Seb Cardinal and Dustin Burns bring their offbeat brand of sketch comedy to the Pleasance for eight shows in August. Fans of the show will no doubt be expecting appearances from some of their favourite characters from the show, including Banksy the boring middle aged Stepdad, the cast of ‘Young Dreams’ or even London Taxi cab heart-throbs ‘Hashtag’ and ‘Bukake’.
Aug 15-17, Pleasance Courtyard, £13, more info 

Sketch Transfer Deadline Day

An interesting concept, Sketch Transfer Deadline Day takes some of the best sketch groups of the last ten years of the Fringe and messes with their very fabric by making them swap troupe members for one night only. All the drama and laughs of transfer deadline day without having to watch Harry Redknapp hang out of a car window. All proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research UK.
Aug 18, Pleasance Courtyard, £10, more info

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Matthew is a freelance journalist & copywriter who is currently in the role of 'Digital Media Intern' at WOW247.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Edinburgh Previews, the story so far


The 2014 flyer begins life, designed on a train to London at 4.45 in the morning. It improved.

I'm experiencing the rarest of things today, a day off. We haven't even gone into town to the shops, I've just had the whole day to myself, slobbing on the sofa reading Facebook and updating the blogs. After a week which has seen me in Cradley Heath (Sat), Leeds (Fri), Dorset (Thu), Halesowen (Weds), Greenford (Tues), Crystal Palace (Mon), Sheffield (Sun), Beverley (Fri/Sat), it's been a bit of an unbroken slog of travel, gigging, schools, and more travelling. So, with time to think, let's look at the Edinburgh Fringe previews I've done, and see what needs to be done before Edinburgh begins for real in (gulp) 10 days.


I've had a look at my past years' Edfringe Previews diaries, and they're always fun to read. At this stage in 2009 I was about to try out a piece of material called Silent Movie which I don't remember even existing, let alone it making the final show. In total I did just 6 previews that year and went on to have a massive hit with Goes To Hollywood.

At this stage in 2010 I'd had 3 reviews already for my Preview shows, which may have contributed to what on to be our best selling show to date, On The Telly. I also still owed the Gilded Balloon money, which thankfully isn't the case this year. And in 2012, after a year off, Boo Lingerie had a 6-date preview schedule, so well organised I drew a map (thought the first of a two-night run in Harrogate was so disastrous I'd forgotten all about it. There was even a reviewer in, whose comments I didn't circulate widly. It got better the second night). At Edinburgh, Boo Lingerie went on to suffer The Olympics Effect but otherwise turned out to be a successful show.

Of course nothing compares to the preparation that went into 2013's Socks In Space. I'd dreamed up the theme and the title before the previous year's Fringe was over, started previewing material at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February, and by August had tried and dropped an unprecedented amount of material after introducing SIS sketches into the touring show from the Spring onwards. By this stage in 2013 we'd only just written the Alien routine and some of the best gags of the show. It's no coincidence that, by the end of August, we had my favourite complete show ever which, following one of our busiest touring years, makes it our most-performed of any single show. 


Nice preview for July 23 show in Manchester. Spot the deliberate error?

So, what of ...And So Am I? Well, I made the deliberate decision to not start preparing as early as Socks In Space, knowing that most of the best stuff had come together in the two months before Edinburgh. And indeed when I booked some of our spring gigs, we were using the working title ...Do Art (Brighton bore that title, as did last week's Leeds Carriageworks show). Here's a breakdown on the preview shows so far:

May 14 - London Camden Head. A "pre-preview" 90 min show, mostly Socks In Space, but with an attempt to do 45 mins of new stuff. A mess, well received by a big crowd.
June 11- London Camden Head again. 90 mins again, improved new material, much smaller crowd.
July 4 - Old Joint Stock, Birmingham. First proper preview (45 mins of a 90 min show) goes excellently (see blog).
July 6 - Ward End, Birmingham. Tiny crowd, more of a rehearsal than a preview.
July 9 - Bedford Fringe. 60 mins, mostly Socks In Space, new items go well. Last appearance of Les Mis.
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack. Another tiny crowd, War song makes its debut, gets best laugh of day.  First tryout of Macbeth.
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks. Best preview yet. Hev was there and gave very good feedback. Only did 45 mins of new show (as part of 90 min set) but all gets thumbs up from sellout crowd.
July 19 - Cradley Heath. A washout. 6 people in the audience, so again more of a rehearsal than a preview.


To come we have Cardiff,  Manchester, and Market Harborough, then it'll be Edinburgh time. So we'll have had about 10 previews, half of which might include the whole show. Saying which, I realise this tells me nothing. It will be fascinating to see what shape the show has taken when the next 6 weeks have passed. 



The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Fat Elvis & the Action Donkey - new comics by kids

And so we come to the end of the school year with the final comics of term. As you can probably guess, most of the kids I was working with here are from year 8 and 9 - you don't get titles like Action Man Gets Some Action from year 3. As for what Bish Whet means in the Never Touch Another Girl's Weave illustration, I don't think I want to know. Year 8 are very into their in-jokes and memes. And LOL always gets in there among the suggestions, this time making it onto the cover.

The celebrities they chose for the "treads on a worm" demonstration were Michael Jackson, Kim Kardashian, Bob Marley, Barack Obama, Jennifer Lopez and, novel suggestion of the week, Paul McCartney.

The classes featured include a specially arranged one from a comedy festival in Ward End, Greenock library (where kids have been on summer holidays for a fortnight already), and schools in Walsall, Greenford and Crystal Palace. And, though term time is over, the Comic Art Masterclasses resume in a week or so when I'll be gracing the libraries of Edinburgh with my presence while the Scottish Falsetto Socks are doing their thing every night at the Gilded Balloon.



Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing Bananaman in The Beano, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He's been writing and drawing comics for 25 years, he must know something.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

New Edinburgh flyers & posters


What do you mean the eleventh hour? Just in time, the Socks Edinburgh flyers and posters have gone to the printers so that, hopefully, they can start going up at the Gilded Balloon next week. Above you can see the back of the flyer, and below we have the flyer front and the poster.


We've stuck with the classic 2009 head shots for this year's show, augmenting them with smaller images of the new costumes. After two years of planning the show right at the start of the year (Boo Lingerie and Socks in Space had their head shots taken as early as February), I began this year thinking the show would be all about Art (we've written a half hour TV pilot on the subject), but by the time of Brighton Fringe in May it was clear that we were coming up with much better material on totally different subjects. The costumes you see on this year's flyer & poster (Nigel Farage, Desert Storm, Mumford & Son and Lady Macbeth) were finished just a week ago and are based on material that mostly didn't exist two months ago (the London previews saw only one of these songs & sketches) and one written in the past fortnight.


At time of writing, the Socks have just done their best preview yet, at Leeds Carriageworks, where I had Hev in the audience to tell me afterwards how well things had gone. We gave them 45 mins of Socks in Space for the first half (missing out everything from Star Trek to David Bowie and still going down fabulously) then 45 mins of And So Am I for the 2nd half (missing out Macbeth & Batman). It was a really good show, a sellout, and such a delight to have an audience going out making all the "wow" and "funniest thing I've ever seen" noises, after what was largely new material. They'd had 90 mins with no Michael Jackson, no Magic, no Halloween, no Horror Cliches song, and even what I consider to be the funniest parts of S.I.S. were missing, and they still loved it. Very pleased.

Of course, as I write this on Saturday morning, we still have a 60 minute preview in Cradley Heath to come, so we'll see how that goes. (After which we have previews in Cardiff, Manchester and Market Harborough, and if the show's not right by then, too late! Edinburgh starts in 11 days. No pressure).


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

5-4-3-2-1 Stars - Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre


Brand new from the Socks, at the invitation of Liam Mullone for use on his new website Fringe Pig, the Socks have a look at Edinburgh Fringe reviews, in song. This version has subtitles, which we thought you might need. You can see it without subtitles here. Enjoy.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's new Edinburgh show, ...And So Am I, opens July 30th at The Gilded Balloon on the Edinburgh Fringe. Book now to avoid disappointment.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014


Saturday, 12 July 2014

More Socks brand new costumes


What? The Socks doing the War? Whatever next? Well, these brand new costumes suggest the new show, And So Am I, might have quite a bit in the way of satire. Why, they might even be impersonating the leader of a certain controversial political party. But whom..?


A beautiful costume production by Heather Tweed there (Uncle Kev can take credit for Operation Desert Storm). Between us we have an impressive array of new costumes for the new show. Stay tuned.

If you haven't told all your Edinburgh-going friends to book for this show (or the remaining previews listed below), which casts a satirical eye at everything from the Scottish Independence Debate to UKIP, from the War on Terror to Downton Abbey, and many points inbetween, get spreading the word.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's new Edinburgh show, ...And So Am I, opens July 30th at The Gilded Balloon on the Edinburgh Fringe. Book now to avoid disappointment.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Socks brand new costumes alert!


It's Mumford and Sons like you never saw them before! The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's brand new show, And So Am I, comes to the Edinburgh Fringe in a few weeks time (see preview dates below) with a new array of songs, sketches, socks and violence. And costumes, so many new costumes. There's a banjo-picking yokel above, and how's this for a femme fatale from a costume drama we'll be unveiling this year..?


There are more costumes for us to reveal, so stay tuned. Meantime, if you haven't told all your Edinburgh-going friends to book for this show, which takes a satirical look at everything from Scottish Independence to UKIP, from the War on Terror to Downton Abbey, and many points inbetween, get spreading the word now!

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's new Edinburgh show, ...And So Am I, opens July 30th. Book now to avoid disappointment.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre ...And So Am I is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. See you there.

July 11 - Beverley Puppet Festival 
July 13 - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Larmer Tree Festival, Wilts
July 18 - Leeds Carriageworks
July 19 - Cradley Heath Comedy Festival
July 22 - Comedy Den Cardiff
July 23 - Taurus Manchester
July 24 - Leicester Ship Of Fools
July 30 - Aug 25 Gilded Balloon, 10.30pm - Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Black Exorcist - new comics by kids


More new comics, the covers thereof, by kids in my recent Comic Art Masterclasses in Burton On Trent, Sutton In Surrey, Greenock on Clydeside, and Keswick in The Lake District. Yes, when I say distance is no object, I clearly mean it.

The celebrities they chose for the "treads on a worm" demonstration were Miley Cyrus (twice), Hugh Jackman, Matt Smith, Elvis Presley and, for the first time, Kim Jong-Un. And don't these covers feature rather a lot of "generic schoolkid"? Sorry, inspiration can't strike every time. Did I mention I draw these covers in less than 15 minutes?


If you're interested, my day trip to Greenock is probably the most complicated bit of travelling in recent weeks. I had my flight to Glasgow and car-hire at Glasgow airport pre-booked, remembering to take my driving licence with me. Then just as I'm about to leave the house, at 5.45am to catch a 7am flight, I realise I can't find my passport. Panic ensues in the household, with me even trying to phone the airport to see if I'd be allowed to travel with just my driving licence as photo ID. For the record, you can't get an answer from Bristol airport at that time of the morning, and I still don't know whether a driving licence is good enough to fly with.


I set off for the airport with fingers crossed, only to find my passport lying in the car where it had fallen from my jacket pocket earlier in the week. Phew, panic over. I caught my flight in plenty of time. And it was only on the steps of the plane that I realised I've forgotten another thing I was supposed to remember - my Satnav. I'd instinctively put in the glove compartment instead of sticking it in my bag when I parked at the airport. This meant I had to cough up an extra fifteen quid to hire a satnav from Avis.

If anyone's bothered, I can attest to the fact that Garmin satnavs are rubbish compared to the Tom Tom I'm used to. This particular model seemed to be out of time, often telling me to take a turning that was two turnings behind, then, towards the end of the journey, giving me directions that were two stages ahead. When I arrived at my destination, the satnav though I had arrived a minute earlier and was displaying the words "Satnav off" on screen. Rubbish.

Luckily I took this journey as an opportunity to find out how my new iPhone works as a Satnav. And, guess what, the iPhone is way better than a Garmin. I could only hear the voice directions, but if had myself a way of mounting it on the dashboard it might give my beloved Tom Tom a run for its money.

Okay this is turning into Top Gear. Off with you. More Comic Art Masterclasses lie ahead, see you there.



Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing Bananaman in The Beano, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He's been writing and drawing comics for 25 years, he must know something.
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