Monday, 3 May 2021

Socks Zoom Shows - Top 15 Sales Chart

 Here's a bit of fun, a Top 15 chart of the Socks' Zoom shows based on ticket sales. Audiences have always included extra guests, so this doesn't reflect the total number of people in the 'room', and also bears no relation to the quality of the show. So, which show's our biggest seller to date?

15 - April 17 - Superheroes - 21 (See what I mean about quality? Our award-winning show sold fewest tickets to date)

14 - April 30 - Social Club 2 - 25 - (Not, as I thought, our lowest-seller ever. But, at £5 a ticket, our lowest takings)

13 - Nov 7 - Roll Up - 26 (A last-minute addition to the schedule, when its live outing in Birmingham got cancelled)

12 - April 2 - Social Club 1 - 30 (The first of our brave new venture with guest acts)

11 - 
Dec 31 - Hogmanay Quiz - 32 (Another gig announced at short notice, with stiff competition on the night)

10 - Sept 25 - New Material Night - 33 (Actually featured less new material than the subsequent show)

8 = Aug 13 - Socks In Space - 37 (Our first Edinburgh Fringe Zoom show, that won us a 4 star Scotsman review, and bigger audiences for its successors)

Jan 22 - Burns Night - 37 (A fun themed night, I was pleased with how much new material we came up with)

7 - Mar 19 - Talking Of Changing The Subject… - 40 (Some have called it our funniest show, made up mostly from material that pre-dated our current fan-base, from our 2009 & 2010 shows)

5 =  Oct 30 - Hallo Ian - 54 (The most new material of any Zoom show, one I'm very proud of)

5 = Aug 21 - Boo Lingerie - 54 (Our second Edinburgh Zoom show, benefitted from the previous week's 4 star review)

4 - Feb 12 - Murder Mystery - 55 (Working with Bedford Fringe's box office helped here. Hopefully not an experiment too far)

3 - Aug 29 - Shakespeare - 56 (The best show, and the biggest crowd of our Edinburgh Zoom season)

2 - July 31 - All Request - 62 (Our Zoom debut. After which, it would seem, some had had their fill)

1 - Dec 11/13 - Xmas Special - 64 (Scores the biggest sales, by dint of us having to re-perform it two days later, because of broadband problems, netting an extra 8 sales for the second night)

Let's see how well we do with our next show. Will it be our last before live gigs take over in earnest? Only time will tell...

May 14 - Eurovision Sock Contest 

Monday, 26 April 2021

April travels

 I've kept quiet about them on social media, partly cos I don't want anyone to feel offended that we haven't come to visit them, and partly cos we may have been pushing the "stay local" rules of the recently relaxed lockdown, but Hev & I have been doing a lot of day trips in the last couple of months.

Perhaps the most significant is to Chepstow. You see, we have plans to move house, and have had for the past year or more. We've now put the flat on the market and are seriously looking at places to move. Because of how expensive Clevedon is, we've genuinely considered such places as Worcester and Bath, and ruled out many more including Stroud. It was only last weekend that, with cross border travel being relaxed after 6 months, that we had a look at Chepstow, and fell in love with it.

OK, fell in love might be going a bit far. But on our first visit, last Sunday, we got talking to the people at a gallery who asked Hev to exhibit, and bumped into Socks fans Nigel & Kerry Thurgar and chatted. Everyone seemed friendly and there's a great vibe to the place. And it is very very affordable. We returned the very next day to look again. And again on Wednesday when we ventured as far as Tintern (above, abbey just out of shot). And yet again on Sunday, when we visited Monmouth, walked a bit of Offa's Dyke, and continued to give Chepstow a thorough exploring. Though we've already ruled out a handful of properties and not found anything that matches our current flat for fabulosity, there's no doubt we can have 4 bedrooms and a garden in our budget, and get a period property that's somewhere quiet. Let us see.

The biggest journey of the past fortnight was to London. We've been dying to return and were amazed to find an art gallery that was actually open. Hev had got tickets to the new Gilbert & George exhibition at the White Cube in Piccadilly. The night before we watched the live interview with G&G - who answered a question texted in by Heather! The next day we were standing on the very spot where they'd been speaking, and we were looking at their giant screen prints all round the wall. It was brilliant.

We also took in Trafalgar Square, where we ate outside a Pret - the first cafe food we've eaten in six months - walked down Denmark Street again, and bought guitar strings in Regent Sounds; did Carnaby Street, Liberty, Covent Garden, Regent Street and Fitzrovia, and breathed in the city. It was brilliant. Feeling slightly guilty that we didn't see Jude and the family, but there's only so many hours in a day and we wanted culture culture culture. And we got it. It does you good, and you miss it when you're cut off from it for so long.

(Here are Gilbert & George, answering Hev's question, probably)

Our travels have also taken us, in the past month or so, to Exmouth where we walked up coastal paths and round backstreets that we recognised from when we last trod there, forty years earlier; to Exeter, more than once, where the nostaglia for our student days will never truly fade; to Minehead (pictured below, I'd forgotten about that excursion until I searched for photos to upload); to Worcester, where we considered moving, but which, on a return visit with specific properties in mind, never quite feels quiet or connected enough to be right; to Bath, again more than once, where we go to show anyway, and where, with properties in mind, nowhere seemed to have quite the right vibe (except for places like Widcombe where we could never afford to live); to Stroud, which was inexplicably voted most desirable place to live by someone somewhere, without providing any evidence to us of why this should be the case. 

We've strolled through Taunton, breezed through villages and suburbs from Burnham to Gloucester, Weston to Cheltenham, and all points Bristolian, to such a degree you'd think we're never at home. Oh, and we go for a walk almost every night on the back streets of Clevedon. It's going to be weird when lockdown finally ends and my travels begin in earnest. This is the longest period of time that Hev and I have spent without staying overnight anywhere outside our flat (save for one night, last August, at Audrey & Dennis's in Bod) in all the time we've been together. Even back in the Leicester days we'd have done the odd night in Kibby, and had a holiday at some point in the year. We are very lucky people that we can bear each other so well.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Socks Live Shows 2021

The Socks should be returning to the actual live stage, in the real world, in just a few weeks time. Here are the dates. Spread the word and let's sell these babies out.

Sat May 29th (late addition) - Market Harborough Drive In Gig!

June 11th - Bath Widcombe Social Club, on a top bill of comics with a 20 minute set

June 26th - Zion Arts Bristol, giving them our Shakespeare outsde. Yes, Open Air Shakespeare! A first (tickets coming soon)

July 2nd - Lichfield Garrick, our most postponed show yet, see our first proper full indoor hour, and the debut of our new Fingers Crossed show.

July 3rd - Clevedon Theatre Shop, a home gig, and they're getting Superheroes, making its first proper live outing in a few years (after a run through online last week)

July 4th - Derby Bar One, our regular Edinburgh Preview show will be getting Fingers Crossed. Though whether we actually take the show to Edinburgh remains in doubt.

July 18th - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern, another Edinburgh Preview, as above.

July 24th - Bedford Fringe. We're back at the Quarry Theatre, at the festival that we've played for more consecutive years than we've played Edinburgh itself. They're getting Fingers Crossed, which should be ready to be seen by then.

Hopefully more shows will be added. In the meantime our next two Zoom shows await your attendance:

Friday April 30th - Social Club 2
Friday May 14th - Eurovision Sock Contest

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Superheroes online report


How's this for classy? Nick Steel watched last night's Socks production of Superheroes on the big screen at Widcombe Social Club where, coincidentally, we'll be making our return to the live stage in June.

As it was, our latest outing online was the poorest attended of our solo Zoom shows to date, with only 19 paying punters (supplemented with a good few guests, invited from my recent open mic shows). This was hardly surprising given that this was the first weekend when pubs were open, following the latest lockdown relaxation. And it was sunny, so the usual last minute rush for tickets didn't emerge.

The audience that did turn up for the show were lovely, and we had great laughter throughout, followed by a highly enjoyable drunken aftershow chat.

The show ran for an hour and ten minutes, even with us cutting the Cross Channel sketch near the end. Partly this was laughter and interaction causing the overun, partly it would be the advert segments that I interspersed on video (a Batgirl Equal Pay advert from 1974, a 1970s ad for superhero toys, a bizarre superhero-based advert for insurance, and a 2000s Got Milk ad, none of which I'd seen before I started searching the day before the show). And partly it would be technical issues, which included me re-starting the Avengers Reel song halfway through when Hev slipped me a note telling me the music wasn't playing.

This music thing's a new problem I've found with Zoom. We only discovered two shows ago that we could play music from iTunes and sing along to it on Zoom (which we hadn't been able to a few months ago). However, when you then play a video (all of which played perfectly) it causes the music setting to re-set, which means you have to go back a step and allow the sharing of music again. It's hard because I, as a performer, am hearing the music perfectly, it's the punters who are getting silence. I imagine Zoom will fix this problem soon.

Apart from the adverts, and the abandoned Cross Channel sketch, the running order was the Superheroes show as done at Edinburgh and on tour, and most of it worked well. But god do those costume changes and music cues need some tightening up! Next time it'll be smoother. If, of course, there ever is a next time.  

Fri April 30 - SOCIAL CLUB 2

Saturday, 17 April 2021

The Rabbit Who Ate France - comics by kids

Only a few comic classes recently, but what quality productions they've resulted in. The Rabbit Who Ate France is from a sellout class run by Largs Youth Theatre; The Fox That Ate The Queen was from a class I organised myself, which attracted a respectable dozen punters; The Killer Laptop was from another sellout class, this time run by Plough Arts in Devon; Jo's Big Tik Tok Escape was from a private party to celebrate an employee, Jo, leaving Sky to go and work at Tik Tok; and Enog Noggy was from a 10th birthday party, another private booking. So no actual schools this month so far, which is a shame. I feel another mass emailing coming on.

The celebrities these five groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Ariana Grande, Elvis Presley, Taylor Swift, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and JK Rowling.

Next class Sunday April 25th: Ropetackle

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

12 Socks shows in 14 days (and then some)

Brace yourselves, buckle up, select the metaphor of your choice and put some dates in your diary if you want to see the Scottish Falsetto Socks this month, cos they're about to do 12 dates in 14 days, and some more on top of that.

I mean you've already missed the first Social Club, about which more here. That was on Friday April 2nd. Now here's what's coming up...

Weds April 7 - Super Fun Comedy. 7pm (8pm Europe), 7 min set, free on Zoom, register here.

(Good show, from Brussels, we gave them Richard III)

Thurs April 8 - Chicken Box Comedy. 9pm, 7 min set, free on Zoom & Facebook.

(Good return show, from riot-torn Derry, which could be seen and heard in the background of Les Ismore's screen. We gave them Richard III, good audience 30+)

Fri April 9 - Comedy Pops, 8pm, 7 min set, free on Zoom, tickets here.

(Highest professional quality of acts, we opened with not very good Prince Phillip material, though thankfully couldn't do the hastily-prepared song, but then gave them An Actor Prepares which went well. Felt it wasn't our best show, and of course it was the biggest audience, 60+)

Sat April 10 - Merthyr Comedy Festival, 9pm, 10 min set, free on YouTube here.

(An actual paying gig, on Streamyard so no visible audience, we gave them the Magic routine)

Sun April 11 - Larklord 

(The Socks hosted a round of this Taskmaster-like very good fun show on Streamyard, managing to entertain the room with our improv and ad libs, no actual material.)

Thurs April 15 - Social Distance Warriors 

(A fun, and different, format, which comprised 15 minute interviews and a few games, lasting two hours. The Socks won the Cast List movie quiz and did some fun improv & ad libs. No actual material. On Zoom, but then given a treatment so it went out nicely framed, but with no audience, like Streamyard.)

Fri April 16 - Blue Suede News

(A variation on Have I Got News, hosted by Roger Poulter, again on Streamyard - it's been a Streamyard week. The Socks managed some good improv on topical stories, again no material.) 

Sat April 17 - SUPERHEROES (our own solo show, full report here)

Sun April 18 - Sounds Proper 

(A good and busy line up, we were on second and had to leave early. Did a cracking 5 minutes of Magic routine and some banter. Also picked up the final act for the next Social Club, Michelle MaliZaki who was on right after us, live from LA).

Mon April 19 - Unmuted, from Australia, 11am UK time, the Socks host the show

(Great fun. Gave them a new, Melbourne-oriented, version of We Can See You, and various other bits of schtick and lots of banter, between 7 acts who filled an hour.) 

Tues April 20 - Comedy Virgins (3 minute set, show cancelled)

Weds April 21 - Spiky Mike's birthday party

(A last minute surprise. We knew we'd been invited to Spiky's online birthday party, and that there were going to be some acts performing, but it was only the day before we discovered that the Socks had been put on the bill. That makes this by far the most star-studded bill we have been on this month. We were performing alongside Hal Cruttenden, Patrick Monahan, Steve Royle, Tom Binns, James Dowdeswell, Brian Damage & Krystal, Mandy Muden, Jonny Awsun and Scott Bennett. I know! The Socks did a nifty little 5 minutes of gags, mostly the travel puns, and were well received. A brilliant show to have been on.)

Fri April 23 - 27 Minute Comedy Hour.

(A tight format, a. bit like Mock The Week, that admirably squeezes everything into less than half an hour, as advertised. The Socks were out of their comfort zone with this one. Apart from a 3 minute set, the rest was cracking gags about topical stories and it's not a style that we're best at. We've been doing nicely with our adlibs and improv on other shows - see Larklord, Social Distance Warriors, & Blue Suede News - but this time we felt we weren't up to strength. Not bad going to have one weaker show among such a busy month of appearances)

Sat April 24 - Reckless Comedy (headlining) + Thirst Grab (from India at 6.30, look at us doubling up)

(This was an interesting double-up to compare and contrast. The show from India had 100 people in the audience, started at 6.30pm and we did 10 minutes at the start. Great to be seen by so many new people, and on a bill where the acts were doing half their set, usually the punchlines, in Hindi. Then we crossed to Reckless which, I thought, was going to be maybe 90 minutes long. So, since I knew we were headlining, I told Socks fans we'd be on about 9pm. There then followed a succession of open mic comedians, some good, some less so, and I lost count of how many. Maybe ten? That meant that we didn't get on stage till nearly 10.15. We then did a blistering set - we gave them Halloween, Earth Song, and Magic, the classic 20 minute set. Sadly, apart from three Socks fans who hung on to the bitter end, there was no audience apart from fellow comedians, but the laughter was great and it's always reassuring to know we've still got it. But performing to so small an audience, and for no money, does seem slightly pointless and we'll have to be more discerning about the shows we do from now on. We need to get back to paying gigs, so thank heavens we have seven live shows lined up starting in June.) 

Sunday April 25 - Dean Friedman's All Request Show

(We do this every month and sometimes forget to mention it, usually cos we do so little in the show. This time we had a spot miming to a song by Dean called He's My Friend, that he wrote for the TV show Boon back in the day. We also did door duties and led the chat at the aftershow, and Dean always makes me feel a part of the team, so a fun and fitting end to the weekend's run of shows.)

Weds April 28 (was to be Weds April 14) - Velvet Banana Comedy from Prague 

(This was a storytelling show, rather than straight stand up, so the Socks gave them The Performance Artist and some gags. Fun atmos, audience was just the comedians but a good bunch.)

Fri April 30 - SOCIAL CLUB 2

And announcing the next new show - Eurovision Sock Contest on May 14th!

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Social Club report

The inaugural Socks Social Club went very well and was a joy to do. Though only half the show was Socks, I ended up writing more for this than I did for their last solo show (Talking Of Changing The Subject). You can see the first Social Club in its entirety on Facebook.

No sooner had I drafted the ad above, adding the names of the actual acts (following a conversation where it was suggested all shows should do this) than two of them pulled out, on the morning of the show in fact. So it was that we ended up with no Sam Serrano or Ian Crawford, but with Jaleela Galbraith and Rebekka Turner in their place. The acts went well, Jaleelah being a perfect headliner, and Tori Burton proving invaluable as a temporary stand-in host when my broadband cut out mid-show.

The running order was:

Intro video and theme tune (I've remade the 20th Century Fox theme and Respect, cos they kept getting flagged and muted on Youtube, this version escapes that fate)

Intro gags

Act 1 - Simon Hall - does stand up with slides which works very well on screen

Advert 1 - Dragnet. I'd curated a set of ads, from, for cigarettes, each more shocking than the last. This one had the star of Dragnet telling you how fags weren't bad for your health.

Pouring a drink routine - this got cut off by my broadband cutting out and Tori taking over till we returned a minute or so later.

Meat Raffle - very good Socks routine, got great laughs from two raffle tickets

Act 2 - Maeve Boffey - was the funniest act on the very first online gig we did, Frenzy back in Feb, and did very well today

Fine Fare interview - One of my favourite bits of new material, we introduced the character Dave Clark Five and the house band. They then sang a song about a "Northern Hero", the Jim'll Fix It theme. I don't know if I'm the only person this amused, but they seemed to laugh enough for me.

Notably, tonight's show continued the pattern of singing the music live, as debuted in the last show. This means video clips are reserved for pre-filmed and novelty items, and music is fresher and more flexible.

Act 3 -  Rebekka Turner - appealed more to some than others, but I liked her, with offbeat character comedy verging on the very silly

Advert 2 - Dog. You could win a free puppy with fags in the 50s.

The Bingo Round. I'd previewed this at Talking Of Changing The Subject, and with one round changed it went just as well this time.

Act 4 -  Tori Burton - does a great routine with slides, looking at her time as a pole dancer. Excellent.

Advert 3 - Flintstones. The Flintsones advertised fags in the 1960s, quite shocking.

Ventriloquism routine - a brand new routine that could, I think find its way into a live show. Must keep trying this in open spots.

Act 5 - Jaleelah Galbraith - a perfect headliner, good professional stand up, adapted well to the small screen.

Closing lines and final song from Fine Fare - Chopped Up Sheep & Chopped Up Sheep & Cows, of which I am again inordinately proud.

Ticket sales for Social Club totalled 40 (13 on WeGotTickets, 17 on JokePit), which is about the same that the monthly shows are getting. At £5 a ticket (compared to the usual £9) I thought we might do better. This means that, once I've paid the acts, I come away with less money than I have for any of my solo shows. But it was so much fun to do, we're doing it again on April 30th. See you there.

Fri April 30 - SOCIAL CLUB

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Vaccination and gigs, March summed up


I got my first Covid vaccination, at Ashton Gate Stadium, on Monday March 15th. Hev had hers a week earlier. We have made the first big steps towards recovery which makes reading my diary from March 2020 a curious experience. An odd mix of doubt, optimism and pessimism fills those pages. 

As for March 2021, it feels very much like business as usual. I have had almost as many Comic Art Masterclasses as I did a year ago, albeit online, and have had both comic strips to draw and Socks shows to perform. Indeed I may be getting a bit heavily into the open mic circuit, just in time for online gigs to wind up and schlepping around the country with my socks set to return. Here's what my busy March schedule looked like...

Comic Art Masterclasses

Mar 1 - Latymer Prep (inc Claudia Winkleman's son, and other celebrity kids unidentified)

Mar 3 - Renfrewshire Library Will Eisner classes (one very empty, 4 kids, as it was a schoolday)

Mar 4 - John Hapmden Primary

Mar 6 - Class Bento class, organised by me, attended by fewest pupils ever (3)

Mar 7 - Class Bento Party Class - better attended, this is where they specialise

Mar 16 - Rothbury, Hexham Book Fest classes, kids now back in classroom, so sound issues

Mar 18 & 19 - Chantry, Hexham classes. Kids in classroom, even worse sound issues

March 20 - Zion class, good turnout, good to have them on individual screens again. Did an interview on Radio Bristol beforehand, great fun.

In comparison to 2021's 8 days of classes, March 2020 managed 11 days of classes before the rest got cancelled (final live class was March 14th 2020), so we're not quite up to the old hit rate, but we might get there soon.

Socks performances

Mar 1 - Global Comedy Hour. Good line up, small audience.

Mar 5 - Virtually Hilarious. Good size audience (40+), good quality acts (at least one poached for Social Club), good quality presentation.

Mar 11 - Tokyo Stand Up. More a meeting of half a dozen comics than a show.

Mar 14 - International Comedy. From Tel Aviv, audience mostly acts themselves, low key.

Mar 16 - Late Stage. Audience 30+ v good, good adverts, good quality line up, weekly shows

Mar 18 - Jolters Barrel Of Laughs. Audience 40+, local crowd, friendly, mixed quality acts

Mar 19 - Talking Of Changing The Subject. Solo show, some say funniest yet. 40 paying punters.

Mar 21 - Freudian Slips. Streamyard (so no visible audience), mixed bag of variety & art.

Mar 23 - G&B Character Comedy. Audience mostly acts + 3 or 4 guests, mixed variety acts inc magic, good technical presentation.

Mar 26 - Henn's Night. Streamyard (no vis. audience) V good technical presentation, fun mix of acts.

Mar 28 - Dean Friedman Show

Mar 29 - Unmuted, from Melbourne Australia, at 11 in the morning. Audience mostly acts themselves, but good fun and we've been invited back to host next time.

Considering March 2020 had no Socks gigs whatsoever (our last show was February, and March's events were all cancelled) this is quite the improvement on a year ago.

Comics wise I have written and drawn a second three-page Space Elain strip (which I have yet to letter and colour). This rate of three pages a month doesn't quite compare to 2020 when, having produced 125 pages of Findlay Macbeth before the pandemic, I began Prince Of Denmark Street in March and drew 120 pages of it through April, repeating this feat with Midsummer Night's Dream Team later in the summer. My plan to get book four, Twelfth Thing, written and drawn before Christmas was overly optimistic. I have still to finish writing it, and as for when I might start drawing it, we'll have to wait till the classes and the comedy shows dry up for that to happen. It's good to be busy, but it was great to have time to produce three whole books in a year. 2020, we won't see its like again.

Facebook jottings:

March 2: How many Zoom gigs did I have to google until I learned that UTC and GMT are the same thing!

I think I've been dismissing gigs cos I thought UTC time meant they'd be somewhere in the States or Australia.
Apparently it's not been Greenwich Mean Time since 1972! So how come all through my education (which took place after 1972, thankyou very much) it's been GMT all the way.

Did everyone else know about UTC except me?

March 7: Just watched the movie Us. I have some questions (spoiler alert)

Is there a Tethered zombie for every single person in the world?
What the hell are the rabbits all about?
And that Hands Around The World chain?
And the ballet dancing?
At the end are they all still there taking over the world? Or are there so few of them they'll easily be outnumbered by their doppelgangers who have bombs and guns?

(NB I've just read the plot again on Wikipedia and it explains the Tethered origin better than I got from the film, I think we were getting bored by that point. Still doesn't answer whether there's one for everyone in the world, or even America).

March 10: Where & when did the stand up comedy brick wall originate?

We've been doing a lot of virtual gigs at other peoples shows this year, and the most common feature is the brick wall background. It says "stand up comedy". But why? And when did it start?
I know in Britain's Working Men's Clubs there was always the tradition of the tinsel backdrop, and before that comedians worked in front of the curtains on stage (as Morecambe & Wise paid homage to). But where did this brick wall start? When? And why?

March 14: Talking of changing the subject, who else is thinking of doing outdoor gigs? In my memory, outdoor comedy gigs are always rubbish cos you can't hear the audience laughing, but because of this half-lockdown situation lasting for the next few months, it might be worth a punt.

Also I've always fancied doing open air Shakespeare. (Though I am also aware that my puppet set, unless I rebuild it, reacts to the slightest breeze like a ship's sail in a hurricane).

Quick, someone talk me out of it.

March 14: Is anyone else slightly fearing the end of lockdown? I have got so into the swing of doing online comic classes and gigs that I don't want them to end.

Classes are going to be a particularly sad loss. I fear I've already done the last one where there is a classfull of kids looking at me from their individual screens. This coming week they'll be back in the classroom looking at me on the big screen which, frankly, isn't as good.
When I ask them to hold up their work, on individuals screens, I can see them all at thumbnail size - and read their names too - so I can jump from pupil to pupil, enlarge their work so everyone can see, and give them feedback. Now they'll have to file up to the camera and, as is always the case, half their pages will be impossible to see, and those won't be the ones that make it to the camera first, if at all (I'm able, on multiple screens, to identify the boldly-finished inked pages first, start with them, then pay lip service to the ones I probably can't make out at all).
Comedy gigs I'll be able to get used to faster, if I can line some up, but the unpaid open-mikes I've been doing this past two months will be a short lived experiment.
Anyone else lamenting the passing of our locked-down online world?

March 15: I once had to make the decision of going to a party with my mates, or with my Irish cousin. It was a no Brainne.

March 16: Top 10 TV Satire Shows (British) - When The Mash Report got cancelled last week, I drew up a Top 10 that I was going to turn into a piece and didn't. Still here's the list I drew up. What did I miss?

(Didn't qualify cos not topical satire: The Day Today, Drop The Dead Donkey, Friday/Saturday Live)
10 - The Mash Report
9 = The 11 O'Clock Show / 10 O'Clock Live
8 - Mock The Week
7 - Armando Iannucci's Saturday Night Armistice
6 - Bremner, Bird & Fortune
5 - Mark Thomas Comedy Product
4 - Spitting Image
3 - That Was The Week That Was
2 - Not The 9 O'Clock News
1 - Have I Got News For You?

Go on, what's wrong about that lot?

March 18: Has everyone else been watching Resident Alien? It's currently our favourite TV show, and its position in our favourites list is helped by the fact that it's released in weekly episodes so you can't binge it and forget it in a weekend.

It's really well written, with original concepts done well, and excellent characters developed and revealed gradually and satisfyingly. Plus it's adapted from a comic (which I fear I hadn't seen) which I am happy to let take the credit.

Oh, and it's family friendly, which is an increasingly rare thing these days (I would argue it's harder to write a comedy drama that entertains a wide audience than a niche genre crowd) . You really shouldn't miss this gem.

March 21: Line Of Duty: this isn't a spoiler, but where did the term "Chiz" suddenly come from?

How have they managed five series without ever using it, and tonight they use it 80 times. Has someone been reading Molesworth or something?

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres - AND NOW ONLINE on ZOOMemail for details. His debut graphic novels Findlay Macbeth , The Prince Of Denmark Street and The Midsummer Night's Dream Team are available on Amazon. Follow Kev on Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre will be touring near you sometime. Catch up with them on Facebook for the latest. 

Friday, 26 March 2021

Socks to do Superheroes online + TikTok debut + recent gigs


The Scottish Falsetto Socks are proud to announce the online debut of their award-winning 2018 show Superheroes, on Zoom on April 17th. Looking forward to this, one of our favourite shows. Tickets are here on We Got Tickets and also here on JokePit.

I've been running the two box offices concurrently and seeing which does better. The Jokepit link is used for all Twitter plugs, and the Facebook listing, ensuring that Jokepit themselves share it. We Got Tickets is used for the mailing list. For last week's Talking Of Changing The Subject this resulted in 12 tickets sold on JokePit to 28 sold on WGT. For next week's Social Club sales currently stand at 3 on JokePit and 3 on WGT, while Superheroes currently has 8 sold on JokePit and none on WGT. 

Talking of Talking Of Changing The Subject, it was a very successful show. Not only a healthy turn out (40 paying punters, plus a few guests including the comics who'll be doing Social Club and friends) but a good few people said it was our funniest show. Given that the last couple of shows have included experiments like Murder Mystery and Quiz Night, I can see how a return to straight comedy could be very satisfying. Also it had almost no new material, being full instead with classics, most of which hadn't been seen for a while. we gave them...

Intro routine - What's Missing Off Telly (from 2010, last seen in Adelaide 2012)
I'm A Sock song - with music performed live for the first time*
Ship In A Bottle / Formats routine (from 2010)
The Western routine (from 2009)
I Change The Key/ Johnny Cash song (2009)
Hovis Advert (from Quiz Night)
An Actor Prepares Routine (from Shakespeare)
St Patricks Day routine (2010)
 - DEAN FRIEDMAN 1st song
Coke Advert (didn't do this, as by this stage we were, to my surprise, overrunning)
Interred Routine (2010)
Bingo routine (new, planned for Social Club. Now rewritten for then.)
Always A Bastard song (2010)
Postcodes routine (didn't do this as we were overrunning)
Falling out - "where's Dean Friedman when you need him?"
- DEAN FRIEDMAN 2nd song - Well Well Said The Rocking Chair (v popular choice)
Spectre song (on video, from 2015)
Finale - James Bond, ending with improv.
We Can See You song (didn't do, as ended well with Bond)

*We're now able to perform music live, playing it from iTunes. When we first tried this, I couldn't get the sound to play through Zoom. Now I try it and it works, so no more pre-recording songs on video, unless they need special green screen effects, as Spectre did.

I'd gone through the planning of the show thinking this really didn't look like an hour's material, and in the end had to cut a routine, a video, and a final song. That's always the best way round, and the punters seemed happy. Enjoyed a pleasant 90 minutes in the aftershow bar too.

Our gigs this week were:

Tuesday 16th March - Late Stage Comedy. We gave them An Actor Prepares, v good. See it here. Good size audience (in the 30s I think). A good range of mostly stand-up material, from which I plucked Sam Serrano to headline Social Club (and also Simon Hall, who makes good use of on-screen graphics).

Thursday 18th March - Jolters Barrel Of Laughs. Darren Hoskins club, with a very good fun local club feel. Good size audience, into the 40s, inc regulars. Some of the acts a little old fashioned in material but a good mix. The Socks tried out James Bond (which we then rewrote for our Friday show) and Bingo (ditto). First time I've dared use one of these new material nights to actually test out new material (more usually preferring to make a good first impression).

Sunday 21st March - Freudian Slips. An interesting one, on Streamyard so you can't see or hear the audience. Had art and variety, including a burlesque dancer interviewing her Mum, a band performing live, and art video clips, so a very different mix to previous clubs. From Berlin, so another international feel to the show. We gave them An Actor Prepares (during which I was suddenly worried because I knew we'd given them a pre-recorded set for last week's show and couldn't, for the life of me, think what we'd done. Luckily it turns out we did Richard III then).

Tuesday 23rd March - G&B Character Comedy. A very good variety bill of novel characters, hosted by a magician who did a very good performance of the nail-through-hand trick. My favourite act was Kevin The Nerd who uses model figures to tell stories, again making excellent use of the Zoom screen. I'd like to get him on Social Club if we do more of this sort of thing. The audience comprised mainly the acts themselves, but there were a lot of those so that was good. We tested out Batman v Joker, which went well. You can see clips on TikTok.

Oh, didn't I mention the Socks have made their debut on TikTok? All the kids are doing it, so I edited up some one minute clips from Friday's show, and our G&B appearance, and uploaded them. After a couple of days we have 120 likes, 6 followers, and our most watched clip has been seen 383 times. I don't think that makes us influencers quite yet. 

Gigs coming up:

Fri 26 March - Henn Night (10 mins, headlining, Streamyard)
Sun 28 March - Dean Friedman show
Fri April 2 - SOCIAL CLUB
Weds April 7 - Super Fun Comedy Show
Thurs April 8 - Chicken Box Comedy
Fri April 9 - Comedy Pops
Sat April 10 - Merthyr Comedy Fesy (good lord, a paying gig)
Sun April 11 - Larklord
Thurs April 15 - Social Distance Warriors
Fri April 16 - Blue Suede News
Sat April 17 - SUPERHEROES
Sun April 18 - Sounds Proper
Fri April 23 - 27 Minute Comedy Hour

How's that for a gig schedule? We are getting out there on the open mic circuit like the Socks have never done. Let's see how much of this leads to gigs in the real world, shall we? Let's just keep killing them, it's all we can do.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Nan's Pills & Impossible Dogs - comics by kids

 A week of Comic Art Masterclasses on Zoom this week included a few organised by the wonderful Gil at Hexham Book Festival, but with way less travelling than usual. These were done by kids at Dr Thomlinson's Middle School in Rothbury, which I have visited in person before now.

And this, also via Hexham Book Fest, was one of the pair done with Chantry Middle School. With these classes we found a new problem that, sadly, is going to dog my online classes from now on. The kids are all back in the classroom together so, almost inevitably, the sound is awful and I can hardly see the kids. It's better when they're on individual screens at home. Though, ultimately, it's way better to be there in person, so let's hope that happens again soon.

This comic was from a party booking, arranged through Class Bento, an online agency that have got me a couple of gig. This was a lovely family from North London, and it was Jeremy Callman's birthday. Only afterwards did I discover that he's a QC and the son of the famous Judge Callman. Prestigious. I really should learn to charge more. 

Class Bento's success is in letting people book bespoke classes (see above). They're not so good at attracting individuals to classes I've set up myself, as this comic shows. I ended up with only 3 kids in my class, literally the smallest group I've ever worked with.

This, however, continues to demonstrate how worthwhile it is for me to team up with art centres and exploit their mailing list. Zion Arts in Bristol, where I've done the class live a number of times, attracted a full house and give us all a splendid Saturday morning experience. Also it was great to get the kids back on individual screens rather than in a classroom on the big screen. I hope I can do a few more of these before it's all over.

The celebrities these 8 groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Elton John, The Queen, Michael Jackson, James Charles, Boris Johnson, Prince William, Rick Astley & Billie Eilish.

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Next Comic Classes, open to the public:

Fri April 9: Plough Arts

Mon April 12: Largs Youth Theatre

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