Monday 30 August 2010

A-Z of the Fringe, N for New Town

Let's say goodbye to our 4th and most successful Edinburgh Fringe yet, with N for New Town. We love you Edinburgh!

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre play London's Leicester Square Theatre September 6th & 13th - Book now!

Sunday 29 August 2010

Edinburgh audit

A few quick notes while I remember them, as I start the last day of Edinburgh Fringe 2010.

Flyers - this year 10,000 was way too many. I have two unopened boxes here. Out of three. That means I can only have distributed 4500 flyers, including the 1500 that went straight to the venue. Now obviously this means I have flyered less heavily than any previous year, which suggests that had I done more we could have sold even better. But if I do next year, I would suggest I might be able to survive on a print run of 5000.

Coffee - We still have 16 unopened free sachets of coffee given away daily with The Scotsman. That'll last a month, cheers The Scotsman.

Late nights - This August I have done fewer late nights at any Fringe since I first brought a show up in 2001. This has done wonders for my mental and physical health, and for the health of my wallet. Has it harmed my career, that is the question. Has resisting the temptation to meet the important and influential people of The Loft Bar & Brookes Bar meant that everyone else has been given TV deals that I could have nabbed? We shall see. All I know is that in 2009 I didn't get a TV series, in 2008 I didn't get a TV series, in 2007 we did get an appearance on Comedy Shuffle as a result of someone having seen us before the Fringe then the head of comedy actually coming to our show, and way back in 2002 The Sitcom Trials did indeed get a TV series. None of that came from drinking till 5 in the morning and trying to crash the TV Festival party.

Going to see shows - This year I have seen fewer shows than any other previous year. The weather has played a big part in that. Unlike England, which has been full of wet whingers, Edinburgh Fringe 2010 has had the best weather I can remember. No bout of rain has lasted longer than a shower, and some days have been so gloriously sunny I've found myself overdressed and have been far from tempted to go into a dark room to watch a play that might not be any good. Only saw two standups - Bec Hill and Ray Green who were, luckily, both excellent. Attended two talks at Fringe Central, on funding and Adelaide, both of which were helpful. Saw a few plays at Gilded Balloon, best of which was Could It Be Forever which Hev & I loved, part out of nostalgia and part out of it actually being a good play, and good mention for the Ian Dury play Hit Me. And we saw the worst show that I've seen at the Fringe in 20 years, which I'm still loathe to name as some people seem to have liked it. Anything else we saw can't have been that bad, but may have slipped from the memory as the weeks have passed. The thing we saw most of was the art, the best of which was an installation at the Observatory that finished on the 16th, Joan Mitchell's paintings at the Botanic Gardens, and the retrospectives from the collection at the Museum of Modern Art. Martin Creed was okay, as was stuff at Collective, Talbot Rice and a few other places, but really nothing to knock the socks off or to compare with previous years. Heard no buzz about any Must-See play, act or exhibition.

Telly - The Socks did The One Show and The Culture Show. These were personal highs, and felt like real achievements, whether or not the rest of the world noticed much.

Press - Our Scotsman interview was great, as were our reviews which included 4 stars in the Scotsman, 5 stars from Broadway Baby, and three other 4 star reviews. No reviews marked us less than 4 stars, which cannot be bad.

Our show - I knew from the start of the run that this year's show, On The Telly, is not as good as the one we did last year and which we'd just finished touring in June, Goes To Hollywood. A month's gap between the end of one show and the start of the next was never going to be enough time to come up with another great show, and the structure of this one was really quite floppy. It seems that the audience didn't notice this, and laughed at things because they were funny. But I knew, and if I do next year I'd really like to write a well constructed show that's more than just some sketches and songs strung together by an extended linking routine. Let's see. Wouldn't it be good to write a show that actually deserved 5 stars?

Ticket prices - We must make Sundays cheaper. They took a dip every time, and a lot of that will be because they cost the same as Fri & Sat & more than weekdays. Whose stupid idea was that?

Our flat - Must mention the flat on Lothian Rd that Heather and I have shared for a month, the first time Hev's stayed up for the entire duration. It's been lovely, conveniently located, and quickly became our home from home, with a fantastic view of the castle (the nightly fireworks have been amazing). But bloody hell, the noise! How anyone can live all year round with the noise of Lothian Rd outside the window is beyond me. Our past two flats were just off the Royal Mile, on Jeffrey Street, and before that in Lauriston Gardens. Both locations that are spared traffic. But Lothian Rd's traffic never seems to stop. And every single police car, ambulance and fire engine seems to have to come past our window, and always has to put its siren on. And, of course, it's been a warm month, so shutting the double glazing isn't really comfortable. None of which is to knock our flat, which has been great, and at a good price, but I'm just saying I couldn't live here all year round.

Er, that's it - If there's more that we've done, haven't done, meant to do or forgot about, I've forgotten about it. As ever I've done a lot of comparing this year's Fringe to previous years. But remembering that Heather and I started coming to the Fringe as punters in 1984, and I've been bringing shows up here since The Sitcom Trials in 2001, it inevitably becomes a jumbles of mixed memories, selective highs and lows, and lessons we think we may have learned from our past but can never quite be sure. Heather was in the official Edinburgh Art Festival brochure this year with her Lost Not Found: Abscission intervention, that was fun and not demanding. And did I mention the weather's been great? I think it's been the best weather at a Fringe since 1984, and that's saying something.

Today I have to go and collect the car, which has been parked outside the exclusion zone for 3 weeks and probably won't start. Then we do some packing, I do some flyering (I haven't mentioned the incredible ticket sales, have I?), I do the Socks' final show, and tomorrow we head for home. And that is as interesting as this blog will get. Hey ho.


★★★★ 4 STARS The Scotsman
"The puns are glorious... discover the magic for yourself"

★★★★ 4 STARS one4review "The classic double act"

★★★★ 4 STARS Edinburgh Spotligh review

★★★★★ 5 STARS Broadway Baby 5 star review "I experienced streaming tears of laughter and almost fell off my chair clutching my aching sides"

★★★★ 4 STARS National Student 4 star review
"It’s always entertaining and constantly funny"

Edinburgh 247 "If you want to laugh and to make your way home with your mates delightedly quoting lines from the show, then these are the dudes to see."

Scotsman interview: here

Hev Art Google Map:
Hev in Art Fest prog:


Planeteye traveler Top 10
Edinburgh Spotlight Top 10

Thursday 26 August 2010

Deja vu all over again*

* and I bet I've used that title before.

I have just reread my diary from Mon Aug 24 Edinburgh 2009, ie about the same time of the month as we're at now, and I find myself describing a poor gig that left me feeling a bit like last night's gig did, although last night's wasn't nearly as bad as the one I describe. By this stage, I guess, this just happens. Props fall apart (same thing both years), the audience are quieter than you've got used to (ditto), and there are 3 Press tickets in the audience (snap). Added to which I then have a dream which has me waking up feeling depressed (last year it was all about the Socks and, sort of, being on stage naked, this year it was having made a whole plate of food and someone throws it away before I can eat it).

And of course in both cases it signifies nothing. We've had a great month, this year having made more money than last year, continuing the year-on-year pattern that's happened since 07, and yesterday we had our 4 star review in The Scotsman, which we've had every year since 08. So all's well with the world.

We haven't got a TV series yet. And I'm starting to feel I should have made more use of the month to secure further work. Which is what I feel at this time every year. I think everyone does. Oh, and we even had time to make a video. Here it is, enjoy:

Monday 23 August 2010

Best gags and Oink

This morning the TV channel Dave has managed its annual EdFringe Silly Season non-story success by announcing the Best Joke of the Fringe. As always their top 10 is debatable, and those of us foolish enough to chat about it have given the story just the spin it needed to ensure maximum coverage.

Today's most popular observation is that some of the jokes might not be all that original. Jack Whitehall's wristband gag, for example, is very similar to a Gary Delaney gag from a few years ago. And Gary Delaney's walk the plank gag is one that I remember seeing as a cartoon in Oink comic (I may have even drawn it myself. I certainly wrote and drew "would you like it wrapping? / No just talking quietly will do" in 1988, a gag which turned up years later in Time Vine's set, purely by coincidence).

Following on from the Keith Chegwin joke-lifting furore of a few months ago, it reminds us that some jokes are conjured up simultaneously by a number of people, and that some are not as new as we imagine. I tried to find my Oink! comic collection the other day in order to find just which gags had had their first outing there (but the box is buried deep in my studio, and suddenly it was time to come to Edinburgh).

Anyhoo, what better excuse could there be for digging out these clips? How many of these gags are brand new (I think about 25% of them), how many are more than 50 years old (I think 75%) of them, and how many have been unwittingly stolen from working comedians (I hope none of them, but I bet one or two). Either way, enjoy:

Dave's Top 10 funniest jokes from the Fringe Festival

Tim Vine – “I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I’ll tell you what, never again.”

David Gibson as Ray Green – “I’m currently dating a couple of anorexics. Two birds, one stone.”

Emo Philips – “I picked up a hitch hiker. You gotta when you hit them.”

Jack Whitehall – “I bought one of those anti-bullying wristbands when they first came out. I say “bought” – I actually stole it off a short, fat ginger kid.”

Gary Delaney – “As a kid I was made to walk the plank. We couldn’t afford a dog.”

John Bishop – “Being an England supporter is like being the over-optimistic parents of the fat kid on sports day.”

Bo Burnham – “What do you call a kid with no arms and an eyepatch? Names.”

Gary Delaney – “Dave drowned. So at the funeral we got him a wreath in the shape of a lifebelt. Well, it’s what he would have wanted.”

Robert White – “For Vanessa Feltz, life is like a box of chocolates: empty.”

Gareth Richards – “Wooden spoons are great. You can either use them to prepare food, or if you can’t be bothered with that, just write a number on one and walk into a pub…”

Some of the biggest groaners include:

Sara Pascoe – “Why did the chicken commit suicide? To get to the other side.”

Sean Hughes – “You know city-centre beat officers… Well are they police who rap?”

Gyles Brandreth – “I’ve got nothing against lesbians. I mean, that’s the point isn’t it?”

Doc Brown – “I was born into the music industry. My dad worked in Our Price.”

John Luke Roberts – “I made a Battenberg where the two colours ran alongside each other. I called it apartheid sponge.”

Sarah Millican – “I bought a cross-trainer to keep fit. I suppose that it’s not enough to just buy it.”

Bec Hill – “Some of my best friends are vegan. They were going to come today but they didn’t have the energy to climb up the stairs.”

Dan Antopolski – “How many Spaniards does it take to change a lightbulb? Juan.”

Andi Osho – “Floella Benjamin is in the House of Lords. How did she get in, through the round window?”

Gareth Richards – “My mother is always taking photographs of me; she said if you disappear tomorrow I want you to look good on the news.”

Emo Phillips – “I like to play chess with bald men in the park although it’s hard to find 32 of them.”

PS: Some of those jokes are not as new as they think.

- Here's the How many Spaniards? lightbulb/Juan joke From a 2008 blog

- Here's the Walking The Plank Earlier cartoon version of that gag, and here it is again, as Why did the Pirate Walk The Plank? Because he was in B&Q in a 2007 collection

Friday 20 August 2010

Mr Weekend - Sock art

We've just been directed towards this tremendous bit of Socks art. It's an animated sculpture by Mike Simi called Mr Weekend. If it's not a tribute to the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.. that wouldn't be surprising. Watch the video, it's cracking.

Thanks @Lionesskeeper for finding that.

Socks on The Culture Show

Look at us, all on BBC2's The Culture Show (click link for iPlayer) and that. With Sue Perkins.

No credit, or even a mention of our name (a similar fate befell Boy With Tape On His Face in his link), but a buzz to be involved, so many thanks BBC.


Thursday 19 August 2010

A-Z of Fringe, G for Great Audiences

G is for Great Audiences, and at this year's Fringe the Scottish Falsetto Socks have been blessed with some beauts. We've had more sellouts already this year than we'd had by the end of last year's Fringe, and take a listen to this lot if you want to hear how marvellous their response can be:

If anyone's planning on coming to the show, booking in advance is becoming increasingly necessary. I've already heard from a punter who's desperately trying to get tickets for this Saturday's show and can't. And if my flyering continues to be as effective as it was yesterday (we went from low start-of-day sales, via 4 hours frantic flyering, to our best one-day sales of the month, ending up 6 short of a sellout (so near and yet so not bad). If Edfringe's box office is sold out, try the Gilded Balloon's box office.

As part of every show, the Socks improvise a biopic, doing the life story of a celeb as suggested by the audience. Here are the ones we've done so far:

Weds - David Hasselhof
Thurs - Michael Jackson
Fri - Tom Baker
Sat - Wayne Rooney
Sun - Gary Glitter
Mon - Osama Bin Laden
Tues - Cliff Richard
Weds - The Stig
Thurs - Nat King Cole
Fri - Princess Di
Sat - Rod Hull
Sun - Anthea Turner
Mon - Amy Winehouse
Tues - Brian Blessed
Weds - Sean Connery

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Socks tshirts - Edfringe special only £12 each

Attention Socks fans who are in Edinburgh,

I have a limited number of 2010 Scottish Falsetto Socks t-shirts still available and up here in Edinburgh with me. If anyone wants one, shout now. It looks like this:

(okay the logo's not quite that big on the shirt, it's 8" round)

I'm not posting these or anything, these are just for people who are in Edinburgh (or will be next week) who can pick them up in person and pay cash.

The sizes left are
Small (1 left only)
M (1 left)
L (3 left)
XL (4 left)
XXXL (2 left)
Ladyfit Small (4 left)
Ladyfit Medium (5 left)
and Ladyfit Large (1 only).

All you need to do is text me on 07931 810858 saying the size you want and we'll fix a rendezvous (most likely outside the Gilded Balloon in Bristo Square) and the shirt's yours. First bagsied first served.

Love The Socks xxxxxx

Youtoobling - a hobby of mine

I had a good night Youtoobling last night after my show. Am I the only person who does this? I sit at the computer, with the headphones on and a drink, and watch Youtube videos, mostly music vids, with each having to link in some way to the previous. Sometimes the suggestions come from Youtube, sometimes from Wikipedia, sometimes from my own memory. It's trivial, time-wasting drunken fun, and I love it.

Here was last night's string of trivia:

Can't remember why I'm watching this Forever Young Alphaville. Must be #youtoobling

#youtoobling: vids must link. Forever Young by Alphaville = film by Jean Luc Godard, who filmed: this

#youtoobling Godard also directed Breathless which the Corrs did, as well as This Town...

I meant Old Town, done by the Corrs and, as I said, Phil Lynott: #youtoobling

...who co-wrote this Top Of The Pops theme with Midge Ure Yellow Pearl #youtoobling

Talking of which Top Of The Pops rundowns used to look like this #youtoobling

That last clip ended with Manfred Mann's Mighty Quinn, by Dylan who also wrote Bryan Ferry Hard Rain

Well, he's no Bryan, but... Dylan's Hard Rain live 1964 #youtoobling

And didn't Bob write Wheel's On Fire, Julie Driscoll Brian Augur Trinity #youtoobling

...which was the theme for Absolutely Fabulous (oh, this sounds crap though) #youtoobling Pet Shop Boys as was, rather better, this: Go West #youtoobling

Did someone say Go West? We Close Our Eyes #youtoobling produced by Godley & Creme, talking of whom Englishman In New York #youtoobling

C'mon you saw this coming next Englishman in New York, Sting #youtoobling

Talking of the Sting #youtoobling

That was Scott Joplin. Now, what other Joplins do we know? #youtoobling

Of course there was another Janis wasn't there? At 17 Janis Ian #youtoobling

Who else sang about 17? The Regents #youtoobling (and not yet a woman)

Nice find, The Regents 17 vs Bollywood still #youtoobling

#youtoobling gives us Passions I'm In Love With A German Film Star

Propaganda Duel #youtoobling (oh, some German link)

You know what this video reminds me of? (Dr Mabuse, Propaganda) #youtoobling

Nice Video, Shame About The Song Not the 9 o clock news #youtoobling

J Arthur Rank & a Titty Bum Wee Wee The Two Ninnes #youtoobling

From 2 Ninnies to One Nena 99 Luftballons #youtoobling

Neil Hole In My Shoe #youtoobling

Not on Steve Winwood's Best Of album Well, the rest must be pretty damn good #youtoobling

See Emily Play (last good thing Pink Floyd did) #youtoobling

Maybe last of the night, Bike by Pink Floyd who, did I mention, I hate #youtoobling

Monday 16 August 2010

A-Z of the Fringe: L (also Biopic update)

In their latest A-Z of the Fringe, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre manage to include their interview with The Scotsman, which you can read here.

By the way here are their reviews so far from Broadway Baby (5 stars), National Student (4 stars) and Edinburgh Spotlight (4 stars).

Every night as part of the show, the Socks improvise the biopic of a celebrity suggested by the audience. Here are the ones they've done so far:

Weds - David Hasselhof
Thurs - Michael Jackson
Fri - Tom Baker
Sat - Wayne Rooney
Sun - Gary Glitter
Mon - Osama Bin Laden
Tues - Cliff Richard
Weds - The Stig
Thurs - Nat King Cole
Fri - Princess Di
Sat - Rod Hull
Sun - Anthea Turner

Edinburgh Fringe 2010: 9.15pm 4-29 August, Gilded Balloon

Saturday 14 August 2010

Friday 13 August 2010

Losing money at the Fringe

I'm intrigued by something Chris Addison said on The One Show last night, about how in a usual year at the Edinburgh Fringe, even if he sold out every seat, he'd end up owing £8000.

Now I've been putting on shows at the Fringe since 2001, and I thought I'd pretty well worked out the maths of this thing and, to me, that sounds like bollocks. So I twittered to that effect, and I had another fellow comic, Gary Delaney, replying that his losses were even greater than that. I remain puzzled as to how that could be.

Our show, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, started off in a 55 seater venue for two years, moved up to an 80 seater last year, and this year is in a 90 seater. We have been very lucky to be building up a following which means we sellout quite often. With a push and a following wind we can sell out 80% of our seats (fingers crossed, we've already had 6 sellouts out of 9 nights, with more to come). I would expect Gary and especially Chris to be doing the same.

It costs me around £4500, or 40% of my door takings (whichever is the greater) to hire my venue, with an extra £500 to be in the Edinburgh Comedy Festival programme, £1500 to rent a flat for the month, and between £500 and £1000 to print flyers and posters. Let's say I don't get much change from 8 grand, and then I have my living costs (and have you seen the price of a pint at the Loft Bar? I ask you)

My tickets cost 9 or 10 quid each, with some going for as little as 4 quid on a preview or 2-for-1 day. Say they average 8 quid a ticket over the month, and I only sell 65% of my seats, and I'm only in last year's 80 seater. That's 25 nights times 52 seats times 8 quid, equals £10,400. So take away 40% of that (or £4500 whichever is the greater) and that's paid off the venue hire and I'm left with £5900. Taking the other costs out of that I'm still in profit. So how do the Addisons of this world manage to blow an additional ten thousand pounds?

Yours, puzzled of Lothian Road

Wednesday 11 August 2010

A-Z of the Fringe, B is for Bad Publicity

The latest offering from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre looks at ways of publicising your show at the Edinburgh Fringe. The punchline of this video earned me a drink in the Loft Bar last night from a promoter who found it particularly amusing.

Edinburgh Fringe 2010: 9.15pm 4-29 August, Gilded Balloon

A-Z of the Fringe, F & Q

The Socks are having a go at the A-Z of the Fringe, though we can't promise to cover the entire alphabet. Here are F & Q

Edinburgh Fringe 2010: 9.15pm 4-29 August, Gilded Balloon

Tuesday 10 August 2010

***** 5 stars, Broadway Baby

5 star review from Broadway Baby

Broadway Baby Review
Sock it to me baby

Rating: 5.0

Kathryn Mack Reviewed by Kathryn Mack
August 10, 2010

How can a full house of adults be entertained for an hour by a couple of grey socks in a tartan Punch & Judy tent? Ask Kev Sutherland, the writer and performer, who returns for forth year with the bug eyed characters.

There’s something so simple, so endearing and yet so funny about taking innocent sock puppets and creating an adult world for them. This year, once again, the socks are seeking fame and a tv show, which leads them to explore different tv genres in an attempt to sell their talents to any programme commissioners who may be in the audience. One sock takes this task very seriously, while the other undermines him with wilful misunderstandings and a series of terrible puns on the theme of tv show titles.

Sutherland gives convincing life to the socks and I am captivated for the full hour. Gags come at you thick and fast, and the show never lets up pace, with costume changes and audience interaction. They manage to pull off a parody of a BBC costume drama (think about it – socks, costume drama, how can that work?), explore society’s obsession with paedophilia, and punctuate the whole show with songs from the guitar playing sock. It is during one of these songs (a short, but brilliant take on a Lou Reed track) that, for the first time this Fringe, I experienced streaming tears of laughter and almost fell off my chair clutching my aching sides. This experience is repeated when the socks get their tv genres mixed up and present a cooking-gardening-superman show.

The audience – about half of whom have seen the socks in previous years - clearly adored ‘On the Telly’. The sheer silliness may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for an hour of joyful exuberance, go see.

Edinburgh Comedy Festival is evil, discuss

News story on Chortle today: Comedy Festival unity slips: Venue chief admits doubts

This is an interesting one to discuss. So interesting, indeed, that I bet I'm the only person who bothers discussing it.

The Edinburgh Comedy Festival, which has existed for 4 years, previously existed as the GASP brochure, a programme separate from the Fringe prog which contained only the shows from the then Big Three venues (Gilded Balloon, Assembly, Pleasance). This riled venues that weren't included in it, and boosted the visibility of those acts and shows who were. It also, significantly, attracted sponsorship from, among others, a cigarette company. Ah, innocent times.

The newer EdComFest programme still includes the theatre offering from the, now, Big Five venues (printing them upside down at the back of the programme) but concentrates on the overwhelming number of comedy shows. This is its first big difference from before. Its second big difference is that, coinciding as it did with the recession, the ECF has not attracted a sponsor.

So we have a spin-off Comedy Festival, which now attracts attention away from Theatre as well as away from smaller venues - and which doesn't include the highly significant Free Fringe and Free Festivals, who have expanded exponentially in the 4 years the ECF has existed. The list of people the ECF now pisses off is therefore greater than ever, and growing.

So it must benefit somebody? Well, speaking as a show that is included in the ECF programme, it benefits me by having me included in another programme as well as the Fringe programme. However this year the Fringe programme has started including a photo of every act with every listing, which was a unique selling point of the ECF programme up till now, and until the start of the festival 90% of my sales were coming through the Edfringe box office (ie via official programme) and only 10% through the EdComFest box office, so that's hardly a ringing endorsement for it.

Added to this, I have to pay an extra £500 to be in the ECF programme, as does every other show in it, which is more than I've spent on my posters and flyers, which I know are the most valuable tool in my marketing arsenal.

So, if it were put to the vote this morning, I would vote for abandoning the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, and simply acknowledging that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival includes a lot of comedy, and that a lot of it is in the big five venues, but a lot of it isn't, so let the best shows promote themselves (as they already do) and win.

(Now don't get me started on Avalon's "Comedy" mini brochure which, every year, passes itself off as a mini copy of the Fringe programme, or a bit I just spotted in Fest magazine which tells you to turn to an "official" Fringe map, and then turns out to be a map only showing Pleasance venues. It's as if some people aren't in this business to make friends.)

Kev F
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

Biopics - Socks fun every night

As part of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's current Edinburgh show, On The Telly, the boys perform an improvised biopic, enacting the life of a famous person based on the audience's suggestion.

We've done Gary Glitter once, though he has been shouted out for three nights, and I'm worried people think he's a planted suggestion. The line up so far has been

Weds - David Hasselhof (very good Pamela Anderson)
Thurs - Michael Jackson (had done this once before and remember it being better. Never try the same adlib twice?)
Fri - Tom Baker (nice one, a memorable Matt Lucas)
Sat - Wayne Rooney (poorest so far, about all I knew about him was that he looks like a potato, and it seems the audience weren't unanimous on that)
Sun - Gary Glitter (very goo, but sadly only thought of the line "Gary Grectum" on the way home)
Mon - Osama Bin Laden (a very good one, though 9/11 got fewer laughs than I was hoping. Gave myself mental high five for the "radical" Imam)

Looking forward to some more great suggestions, bring em on.

Meanwhile, it's raining. Which reminds me of this hit from the pit...

Monday 9 August 2010

Comedy In The Dark and a Judge In A Quiet Room

Last night at the Fringe was a good demonstration of my optimism and how sometimes it can overstretch itself. I said yes to two things, one good, one not so good.

The good thing was Comedy In The Dark, at 11.45 at night, a show where comedians perform in a completely darkened room, with even the exit lights covered up. An interesting concept that is raising money and awareness for ecological charities, and a novel one for the audiences. The other acts went well (especially Rob Rouse, who'd have you in stitches if you were only overhearing him from another room, which this experience is a lot like). For the Socks, however, it was a test of something we've long wondered about, namely how does our act work if you can't actually see us?

It turns out the Socks are very visual. So the opening sock went well, but towards its end when the Socks start bickering it started to become clear that, if you can't see which Sock is talking and which Sock is reacting. it gets confusing. Then the Halloween routine, about the safest guaranteed hit routine we have, fell flat for that same reason. The audience either couldn't follow who was talking, or without the looks, the props, the visual extras, the routine lost so much of its structure as to be just a bit, well, unfunny. Walk On The Wild Side got laughs, only being performed by one sock, and Sweary Poppins also worked, but not as well as it would have done if the sketch had worked. So I was disappointed, because I like people laughing at everything all the time, but the organisers liked it and we started discussing doing it again, and doing a photoshoot for participants tomorrow. Meanwhile the Socks' radio show needs a lot more thinking through.

Before that came the thing I shouldn't have said yes to. I had known in advance that sales for Sunday were low. After 3 sellouts out of four, and with Monday & Tuesday already nearly sold out, I could see this night was going to struggle sales wise. So I'd told my venue in advance that I didn't want any Press in. But I got an email in the morning saying an Edinburgh Comedy Awards Judge wanted to come to my show, expressly tonight Sunday. Would I let them in? And this is where my optimism got the better of me. I had such faith in my flyering technique and my chutzpah and selling skills on the street that I thought that, if I said yes to the Comedy Judge, then that would spur me on to sell sell sell and we'd end up with a full house and another great show. So I said yes to the Judge.

I then flyered for longer than I have on any day so far this Fringe, and by showtime had added little more than a dozen sales to the piddling figure I'd started the day with. The Socks ended up performing to 37 people, the smallest Edinburgh audience we've played to since 2008. No show last year sold as badly as last night's show. And, as a result, there was a lot less laughter, even though they were enjoying the show it simply didn't explode like it has been doing. And as a result of that we even under-ran. It turns out almost 10 minutes of our show is laughter! We stuck in an extra 2 minutes from last year's show just to give them their money's worth. So the audience went away happy, but I didn't, and I can be pretty sure a Comedy Award Nomination will not be coming the Socks way (not that it was on the cards following last year's whole "slagging off the comedy award judges in the press" debacle, about which least said soonest mended read all about it here).

Afterwards I had my first good night in the Loft Bar, inc good chats with Tim Vine, Jobbins, Klarfeld, Ali Cook & team, and got to meet Kirstie who booked a lot of Ali & my tour this year for the first time (that wasn't a well constructed sentence was it? but I know what I mean and you don't care).

My low sales were, apparently, not unusual with a lot of acts reporting a Sunday dip. I learnt, from an Avalon flyerer, that one of Avalon's acts (who will, obviously remain nameless) performed, in a Pleasance Courtyard venue, on Saturday night, to an audience of four. FOUR!?!??!?? I don't know how that can physically conceivably actually humanly be possible. Surely in the Pleasance Courtyard you're going to end up with an audience just by accident cos they can't get into a show they've heard of, or they're looking for the loo. But 4 people? At about the same time slot as I was getting a sellout in? And promoted by the biggest comedy agency in the country? That did indeed make me feel a little bit better. Because schadenfreude is a wholly admirable emotion and doesn't make me a bad person shut your face.

Today I need to flyer to get the rest of the week's sales up the levels we need. And it's pouring with rain. Hallelujah.

Edinburgh Fringe 2010: 9.15pm 4-29 August, Gilded Balloon

Sunday 8 August 2010

**** 4 stars, National Student

The Socks 2nd review is in, another 4 starrer from National Student

Review: Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre – On The Telly

Posted on08 August 2010.


Pocketfuls of punnery and an overflowing bag of TV geekdom is just what the Falsetto Sock fans ordered and the new recruits lapped it up too. The Falsetto Socks’ fans are legion, having established quite a following on YouTube, any moment when participation is invited promptly gets followed by a request for some of their popular online material.

It’s worth noting that despite the inclination to refer the socks in the plural, they are of course the work of one man; Kev F Sutherland; a comic artist, comics aficionado and author of numerous Beano strips. This man has written comic strips for the Bash Street Kids and Doctor Who Magazine, there aren’t many credentials as geekily impressive as that. He also knows his telly, oh boy does he know his trivia and can casually rattle off details of classic TV shows with ease.

Nippy costume changes, funny ditties, snappy cultural gags and demonstrative punnery is the order of the day and Sutherland has refined his glorious socks act to be as slick as it needs to be. It’s always entertaining and constantly funny.

It can’t be easy for a guy to hold an audience and interact with them whilst sitting behind a tartan cloth and emoting with socks as a one-man double-act, but he bloody well does it, year after year and always does it brilliantly.

by Ian Phillips

**** 4 stars, Edinburgh Spotlight

First review of Fringe 2010 is in - 4 stars from Edinburgh Spotlight

FRINGE REVIEW – The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: On The Telly (Gilded Balloon)

Ladies & gentlemen: there is a comedy double act on the scene you may not have heard of yet; one which deserves to rub shoulders – or perhaps ankles – with the greats.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are a perennial Fringe favourite, and have brought their shambolic undergarment-based chaos to small, sweaty venues in Edinburgh for several years.

This year, they return to the larger (though equally sweaty) Sportsman’s Bar at the Gilded Balloon, with their hour of goggle box themed nonsense, On The Telly.

If you’ve seen the Socks before, you know what to expect: the stage is empty, save for a ramshackle tartan puppet booth. Then, as the lights dim, the stars of the show appear: a pair of grey woollen socks with googly eyes and lolling tongues.

They then proceed to sing, bicker, pun, ad-lib, improvise, crack jokes, perform sketches and generally speed through the performance without stopping for a second to hitch themselves up.

So, we get them acting out a period drama (complete with impressive costume quick changes); singing songs about the World Cup (complete with obligatory vuvuzelas); performing the death-defying ’sawing a sock in half’ magic routine: and much more inspired lunacy besides.

Yes, they do speak and sing in falsetto voices with Scottish accent – and at around a million words per minute. Non-English speaking audience members might therefore find themselves missing some of the humour – as would anyone not overly familiar with the depths of UK television the Socks sometimes plumb.

However it is to the credit of Kev F Sutherland (The Man Beneath The Socks) that, if one joke flies over your head, there will be another one along in a few seconds which will quite literally sock you in the face.

This year’s show has the premise of the Socks trying to impress ‘industry’ types who may be in the audience. If there are indeed any TV talent scouts out there, they could do a lot worse than giving these hilarious and witty knitted duo their own primetime slot.

Although it’s unlikely they would be co-starring with Fern Britton…

Ticket information is available on the Gilded Balloon website.

Review by Keith D

Wish I Had Something To Say*

* That was a record by the Goodies, by the way. A really obscure track from a really obscure comedy album from, I think, 1975. And that may be as interesting as today's diary gets.

I've just been rereading my Edinburgh diary from 2009 and finding it passing interesting, but only to me. This year has had a similar start. My show, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre has had three sellouts out of four nights and is looking at low sales figures today unless I flyer very hard (last year was a different permutation because of diferent special offer and preview days, but amounted to the same ups and downs).

We've had a quick appearance on the telly - last year it was a few seconds live on GMTV plus a live clip on BBC Scotland and the BBC website, in 2008 it was a brief appearance on the Culture Show, this year it was a fleeting few words on The One Show, all a nice fillup and a boost to the ego and possibly the sales.

And I've been doing Comic Art Masterclasses in the afternoons, as I did in 09, but unlike last year those have now finished so I will now be able to flyer more in the daytime, see more daytime shows, and most importantly stay up later pointlessly socialising in the Loft Bar (and, I imagine, trying to get into Brookes Bar at the Pleasance and, when I succeed, meeting no-one of any interest.

This year already has a major advantage over last year in that our flat back home hasn't flooded (a dreadful accident that marred not only our August holiday but also our entire autumn, which went on to involve months of building work and disruption). And a couple of nice extra fillips, the Socks have been invited to appear on some other shows; Comedy In The Dark which we'll be performing tonight, and Hardeep Singh Kohli's Chat Masala which might happen this week. Like The One Show, these have come out of the blue without any plugging from me, which is delightful, and reminds me how successful I might be if I were to do a bit more proactive self-promotion.

And that is that. How much more technical, boring, and self-obsessed could I possibly be? Maybe today a mix of flyering, shows, guest slot and interviews (two lined up for today, already done Real Radio and Edinburgh Podcast) will throw up something worth talking about.

Oh, and we had reviewers and some telly in last night, and I didn't think the show was as good as previous nights. What will that turn out to have done to our chances? Let's just see. In the meantime, let me relive last year's media highpoints...

Our TV profile got off to a great start with GMTV:

...and the BBC:

And Heather became the lead story in ArtMag:

And the icing on the cake of our first week was the 4 star review in The Scotsman, along with a big photo:

Saturday 7 August 2010

The Socks on The One Show

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre promoted their show, On The Telly, last night by appearing... on the telly. On BBC1's The One Show, to be precise, live from the Pleasance Courtyard alongside Gyles Brandreth and other select acts.

A cough and a spit, sure, but an honour and great fun. Now we're off out flyering to see whether it'll put more bums on seats. Did we mention last night was a sellout too? That's two out of three so far, and counting.

Thursday 5 August 2010

Sellout start to the Fringe

Thankyou the public, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre began their Edinburgh Fringe 2010 with a sellout show. All 90 tickets sold (though bizarrely a couple of seats remained empty, I remember this has happened before) and a lovely audience who seemed to like it all.

I have to confess I was more nervous before this show than any show I can remember in ages. Having toured our previous show "Goes To Hollywood" all spring & summer, I've become so attached to its great songs, routines and really good ending (it was the show with the Facebook Song, Michael Jackson, The Western, Sweary Poppins and Star Wars) that it's been an incredible wrench to throw it all away and do a totally new hour. I've been full of doubt that the new show isn't as good as the last, though preview after preview has been getting better and better, I still wasn't sure.

But last night, with the brand new closing number getting an airing for the very first time (I recorded the music on the Monday night before we drove up here), and a brand new costume to go with it, which I finished sewing an hour before the show, the hour ended well and they loved us.

Quick notes: A member on the front row asked us to move the set back a bit because they had bad sightlines. This wasn't as greedy as it might sound. Afterwards she came up and had a word and pointed out that, because our new venue has an odd L-shaped seating area, our set was off-centre for half the people closest to the stage and would be better off moved about a foot and a half right. A small detail that won't interest you, but true and I'll be changing that tonight.

The biopic is a star routine of the new show, wherein the Socks improvise the life story of a celebrity suggested by the audience. Tonight it was David Hasselhoff. That will be an interesting knife edge to walk every night, as sometimes it is bound to go less well than others. Tonight it went well.

We were also spurred on by the fact that shows were over-running (we got into the venue 10 minutes late) so we had to keep things tight. With more leisure I hope things will still have the same energy.

There you go, an Edinburgh comedian is totally self-obsessed and immersed in the minutae of something that'll never interest anyone else on the planet. Tell you what, you all just come along and enjoy the show, and we'll stop going on about how it's done and spoiling the magic.

Now, while we wait for the Socks to get their act together to make any new videos, here's a hit from the Edinburgh pit:

PS We did an interview on Real Radio in the afternoon, don't know when it'll be going out, so stay tuned, and we may (just possibly) have some telly on Friday. Will let you know if that goes to plan.

Monday 2 August 2010

The Socks on Canadian TV

Wow. We have just discovered that the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre were featured on Canadian national TV news earlier this month and we didn't even know. Check this out:

About 2 ins 20 seconds in, the article ends with us, namechecked and everything. Brilliant. Can a Canadian tour be far away?

Sunday 1 August 2010

Selling out? Jings!

Two nights of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre On The Telly at the Edinburgh Fringe 2010 have already SOLD OUT! Look:

Don't worry. That just means the Fringe box office have sold their allocation, which means they've sold 82% of that night's tickets. There are some still up for grabs, but you'll need to go to the venue's own box office at:

This is, I hope I need not add, a first. The Socks have never sold out in advance, and this year's sales are a good third up on last year's. The Socks have sold more tickets right now, two days before the start of the Fringe, than their predecessor The Sitcom Trials sold throughout their entire year (most years, probably all, I'd have to check). So let's hope the show is as good as I think it's going to be. We've just finished a fantastic tour of The Socks Go To Hollywood which is the funniest show ever (as the reviews and audiences attest) and it's a wrench to be doing a brand new show. But previews are getting there, so fingers crossed we might not do a show that sells out then gets tragically bad reviews and scuppers the rest of our career. Yes, that's the way to look at it.

Buy tickets
Send flowers

Comic Art Masterclasses update

Kev F's Comic Art Masterclasses are coming to the end of a frantic season, with a record number of classes and a bum-bending amount of travel packed into the last few months. I'll write a full report when there's time. Meanwhile here are some lovely cuttings to record the memory:

Maidenhead Advertiser
Swindon Advertiser
Malvern Gazette

Great work, great pupils, all part and parcel of my spreading my love for my artform, comics. I now have three days at Balerno High School in Edinburgh to go, then the classes take a break until September. Anyone who wants to book me for their school or library, email me
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...