Sunday 28 June 2015

Minging Detectives preview in Cheltenham and Birmingham

This week saw two Edinburgh previews for the Socks' show Minging Detectives and also marked an interesting moment in that there had been a whole month in between gigs. This is a very unusual thing, certainly compared to this time in previous years when I've been engaged in very full spring tours that segue, around now, into preview shows. This year I've been doing a lot of schools, and have even thrown a new season of Sitcom Trials into the mix (see that show's own blog for details), taking the development of the new Socks show slowly and steadily.

So it was that Thursday's show, in the basement of the Strand in Cheltenham, to a crowd who don't pay for tickets but take a collection at the end (I left early so I don't know what I made), was a bit rusty in places. Partly this was the gap since the last show, but I would put most of it down to the fact that I've spent the week losing my voice. Having developed a cold on Monday morning, my classroom voice had become croakier and croakier and a throat infection had made my swallowing muscle into a ring of fire. On Thursday morning I had a workable human voice but no Socks falsetto at all. It took a lot of practice to get it back. It cracked and struggled during the show, but we got there.

The best test of the Cheltenham show was seeing how well new Socks material goes in front of an audience who've never seen or heard of the Socks before and had no idea what to expect. With no safe or classic material to fall back on (apart from I'm A Sock, they got no Magic, no Michael Jackson, no Walk On The Wild Side, none of the standards) the only slightly old material was last year's UKIP Song which has now become a strong opening routine, and the Baby In The Corner running gag which holds the disparate sketches together and is still to be replaced. The fact that someone said at the end how much they liked The Isis Song (Hello Muddah Intifada) was encouraging...

...especially given that, just before we started the Isis Song two nights later in Birmingham, I could clearly hear someone saying "too soon." Admittedly there had been the deaths of 15 British tourists inbetween times, on a beach in Tunisia. But that sort of thing is going to happen at various times all the time, which shouldn't affect the fact of the satirical song I'm trying to do. The Isis Song is this year's UKIP Song, which I spent last summer thinking would be "too much". It still slightly divides an audience (you can tell when there are UKIP sympathisers in the crowd, and I stand by my song's highlighting of their xenophobia and racism, and by the way it gets great laughs) but it's worth it. Ooh, listen to me, I'm Stewart Lee. (I'm not, I'm a silly, shallow, gag merchant who writes entertaining verbal slapstick routines, half of which centre on parody,  and one in a dozen of which is genuinely satirical with an actual point.)

Birmingham's audience at the Old Joint Stock were fantastic, and the show was improved to match. Learning all the lessons from Thursday in Cheltenham, where there'd been fluffs, indecisions, costumes not prepared between scenes, lulls while I tried to get my voice back and get the material to work, Saturday night was spot on. The voice was still a little raw, but making a virtue of, and a joke out of, drinking lots of water throughout the show, kept it going. I kept the pace up, tightened the gaps. And, without rewriting the script inbetween gigs, made the show work brilliantly. We ended up playing for an hour and a quarter, which bodes very well for being able to take out the ..And So Am I (2014's show) material and being left with a good Edinburgh hour.

A record number of selfies were taken by audience members with the Socks at the end, so I look forward to seeing those on Twitter. And now we have a similar gap between shows before we do 5 previews in a row at the end of July then hot Edinburgh running. Writing, editing and the like ahoy. Keep buying those tickets, people, we're doing well.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are at The Gilded Balloon throughout Edinburgh Fringe 2015, August 5th - 30th. Tickets are on sale now.

Saturday 27 June 2015

The Rise Of Noodleman - new comics by schoolkids

This week I've found myself teaching comics to slightly older pupils than average, in Hampshire and Taunton. Although I can teach comics to anyone of any age, I more often find myself in primary schools or with year 7 and 8 at secondary schools. This week however has been dominated by Year 9s, who are an interesting kind of hard work. They're slower to laugh than any other group, and are obsessed by in-jokes and Vines. It's a struggle to get them to suggest a title for the comic that doesn't feature "Jeff", "Deez Nuts", or "21". No, don't bother asking me, I don't know. Cheeky Nandos On The Toilet was the work of Year 8s, who are often no better.

Of course the kids are marvellous as always, and include some inspiring artists with lots of imaginative ideas. It's unusual to find a title like the one above coming from year 9, I must say. She was trying to write "Unicorn Apocalypse". I guess it's one of those words teenagers drop into conversation all the time without feeling the need to look up the spelling.

And this week I even found myself teaching 6th Formers, which hardly ever happens. And lo, when it comes to dreaming up titles that turn out to be cyber-bullying, they're no better than year 9s. Harrison Goatleigh turned out to be a play on the name of a boy in another class, who I'm assured took it in good spirit. The author of The Booty (year 9s again) probably wasn't envisaging pirate treasure when he wrote that one.

The celebrities they nominated to tread on the worm were Kim Kardashian (twice, she was very much this week's Simon Cowell), Johnny Depp (twice), Nicki Minaj, and most imaginatively Bruce Forsyth. And my thanks to the teachers at Hounsdown school near Southampton for these photos of me in action.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Sunday 21 June 2015

30 Crime Shows - the Socks titles as a Buzzfeed list

Because it can't hurt to promote the show, I just made the 30 titles (see if you can spot the latest one that I drew to make up the number) into a Buzzfeed list. (Though I am finding the more I tweet and facebook promo material, the slower the sales go up!)

30 Crime Shows That Should Never Be Made

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’s new comedy show about crime is called Minging Detectives (at Edinburgh Fringe this August). But you should see the titles they rejected (illustrated by Beano artist Kev F)… 

30. Cagney and Lace-Up

Cagney and Lace-Up
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
They’re socks, expect a lot of footwear related puns here.

29. The Pong Good Friday

The Pong Good Friday
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
If you’ve not seen this Helen Mirren and Bob Hoskins classic we may have just ruined it for you.

28. Brechin Bad

Brechin Bad
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Did we mention they’re Scottish? Trust us, if you know the East Coast of Scotland, this reference is hilarious. See also: The Name Of The Montrose

27. Shin City

Shin City
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Footwear, parts of the leg, anything goes.

26. Brighton Socks

Brighton Socks
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
They call him Pinky. Used to be whitey but he mixed with the wrong kinda crowd in the washing machine.

25. Broadfitting

©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
David Tennant and her off of Peep Show get miserable in slow motion on a beach.

24. GoodSmellas

©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
I’m funny? What? I make you laugh? Am I some sort of clown? (Yes, you’re a comedy double act. Duh.)

23. Rear Windae

Rear Windae
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
We did mention they’re Scottish, yes?

22. The 39 Insteps

The 39 Insteps
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
The 39 Insteps is an organisation - BANG! (That was for the pun)

21. Hill Street Shoes

Hill Street Shoes
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Let’s be careful out there. Though frankly these puns are asking for trouble.

20. The Third Sock

The Third Sock
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
And what have the Swiss invented? The cuckoo clock. But let’s blame them for this pun. They can’t zither out of it.

19. Get Shortie

Get Shortie
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Again, if you’re Scottish, this is a real knee-slapper.

18. Angels With Dirty Socks

Angels With Dirty Socks
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Not that there’s a competition for most obscure title to base a pun on…

17. Size Se7en

Size Se7en
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. That’s the Socks doing Brad Pitt and Morgan… yes it does.

16. Chinatoon

©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Forget it Rick, it’s Chinatoon. They’re Scottish, did we mention that?

15. Shersock

©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Remind us to tell you the story about how Benedict Cumberbatch once stole the Scottish Falsetto Socks one day. True.

14. The Big Slipper

The Big Slipper
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
“I’m doing my Bogey” “What do I do?” “You do Bacall” “I do quite a lot given the opportunity”. ©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

13. Lock, Sock and Two Smoking Barrels

Lock, Sock and Two Smoking Barrels
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Some titles have been suggested by members of the public. Did we mention that?

12. Woollander

©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
The Socks would like to point out they have never seen an episode of Wallender. Have they nailed it?

11. Get Garter

Get Garter
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Yes it is an item of footwear. Yes that does work. No, YOU get out more.

10. Clog Day Afternoon

Clog Day Afternoon
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
It’s Al Pacino in a wig robbing a bank so he can get a sex change. You should watch it.

9. Dixon of Sock Green

Dixon of Sock Green
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
One for the kids

8. Pump Fiction

Pump Fiction
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead. As is our credibility after these gags.

7. The Usual Socspects

The Usual Socspects
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
You can stop pulling those faces or we’ll tell you who Keyser Soze is.

6. The Postman Always Mings Twice

The Postman Always Mings Twice
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
That’s the Socks doing Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. I know, uncanny.

5. Brooklyn Size Nine

Brooklyn Size Nine
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Yes the Socks can do every single character in Brooklyn Nine Nine. Get over it.

4. Judge Tredd

Judge Tredd
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
He is the law. (So technically fits into this category, though he should have been in The Socks’ 2013 show Socks In Space really)

3. Strangers On A Trainer

Strangers On A Trainer
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
The the Socks discussing taking the blame for each other’s dastardly puns there.

2. The Unwashables

The Unwashables
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Starring Kevin Costco as Elliot Mess. You’re right, there should be a prohibition on these titles.

1. Better Call Sole

Better Call Sole
©2015 Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
No longer Slippering Jimmy… Oh, you’ve not seen the show yet? Trust us, you’ll love it.
The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’s new show Minging Detectives is at the Edinburgh Fringe throughout August. Book now at

Thursday 18 June 2015

Chuckle The Minister - new comics by kids

When I ask the kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses to come up with a title for the group comic, a copy of which they each take home at the end of the day, their suggestions are always surprising and often baffling. When a title seems to have no basis in anything other than the pupil's imagination, and it wins their fellow pupils' popular vote, that's a treat. So that's where Chuckle The Minister come from. As for We Are Ducks And We Don't Give A Quack, that's the sort of title that, when it comes from borderline-innocent year 6s, you can get away with it. It did make the teacher wince.

These comics are from four yr 6 classes at Ruskin juniors in Swindon, who've had me back year after year. And the next couple are from Bonner primary in Bethnal Green.

The celebrities they chose to step on a worm (see blogs passim) were Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, The Rock, David Beckham, Morgan Freeman, Vin Diesel, and (most originally) David Attenborough. This final example comes from a day-long class with year 7s, 8s and 9s at Backwell:

Elsewhere in my world of comics, the Magna Carta book I produced with schoolkids in Lincoln has been published:

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

Monday 15 June 2015

Beat these Sock-crime puns & a Beano artist will draw them

Press Release: Comedy - for publication

Minging Detectives -
Record number of criminal puns from Sock Puppets

Comedy show wants your puns - best ones get drawn by Beano artist

From Cagney and Lace-Ups to The Usual Sockspects, from Pump Fiction to The Pong Good Friday, comedy double act the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre have come up with a criminal selection of puns to launch their new Edinburgh Fringe show, all illustrated by a star artist from The Beano. And they're looking for more!

The Socks' new show, Minging Detectives, is an hour of songs, sketches and satire on the subject of crime. They spoof everything from Inspector Morse to Breaking Bad from Z Cars to The Killing, and to promote it they've drawn cartoon parodies of the posters for 28 TV and movie crime thrillers - one for every night of their Edinburgh Fringe run.

And they'd like your suggestions for more. If you can think of a crime-meets-footwear pun that's better than The Unwashables, Strangers On A Trainer, Brighton Socks or Better Call Sole, then tweet them @falsettosocks and the best suggestions will get drawn by the Socks' performer (and Beano comic artist) Kev F Sutherland and retweeted througout the show's run.

Show title: Scottish Falsetto Socks: Minging Detectives
Act: Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Venue: Gilded Balloon, Teviot, Bristo Square Edinburgh EH8 9AJ
Dates: 5 - 30 August
Time: 10.30pm (1 hr)

Press contact: Kev F Sutherland 07931 810858

Hi res copies of any or all of these images will be emailed on request.

10 latest titles - higher resolution

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