No, I don't know why there's a mural of the last supper on the wall of Kayal now. It's dated 2020 and definitely wasn't there last time we played here. Whatever, the Socks couldn't be more delighted to be back at the Leicester Comedy Festival after the inevitable cancellation of 2021. Our last live appearance before lockdown (on a proper stage, we actually did a party in Margate afterwards) was LCF 2020, and now we signal the return to normality by previewing a new Edinburgh show at the Kayal in Leicester. We're doing three shows, at time of writing we've done two. Here's how they went.
It was billed as The New Show, with me having had no idea what I'd do way back at the end of last year when I put it in the programme. In reality, I've ended up doing the Eurovision Sock Contest.
Friday night had an advance audience of 14, but I think we ended up with nearer 30. On Saturday advance sales were 64, so we ended up with pretty well a sellout. (Last time I looked, Sunday's 2pm show was standing at 2 advance sales).
Friday's show went very much from the script we'd used for the two online versions of the show in 2021 (May & August), with the addition of the Postcodes routine (so we could reference BGT) and a few other tweaks. The show went well, but I felt the script needed tightening. So, on Saturday afternoon, I rewrote the script, got a new printout done at hotel reception and worked with that.
The big changes between Friday and Saturday's script were: Deep C Diva, the Austro-Hungarian contestant, originally had the character of a racist politician. These gags just fell flat, and indeed just sounded racist. So I wrote her a new routine which is just a string of plastic surgery gags. That made a big difference. The second big change was the running order of the 7 songs. On both nights we open with Jonny Forrina (France), then Sexiblond (Scandinavia), and Dekonstructivist Kollectiv (Germany). On Friday it then went 4: Graham Norton (Ireland), 5: Azerbicurious (East Bloc), 6: Fine Fare (UK), and 7: Deep C Diva (Austro Hungary).
For Saturday I changed it to 4: East Bloc, 5: Ireland, 6: Austro Hungary, 7: UK. This separated out the two Northern accents of East Bloc & UK (one's supposed to be Manchester, and one Yorkshire, but I bet I'm the only one who can tell them apart) and left the, supposed, best till last. The UK's Stick Your Brexit Up Your Arse had been the outright winner on Friday (and on the two online versions).
The great news was that we now got a better spread of good reactions for the songs across the board, and when it came to the audience vote at the end (done on audience response, guaged by the Gnome playing Graham Norton moving along the top of the set) the results were really close. Saturday's result was a 3-way tie between Deep C Diva's Ignore The Song, Azerbicurious's East Bloc People, and the ad lib song.
Ah yes, the Ad Lib Song. That'll be a big variable in every show. Between songs 4 & 5, we get the audience to name a country that's not in the contest, and we adlib a song from their suggestions. On Friday we did Australia, to the tune of Neighbours (getting good laughs from the topical fact that Neighbours has just been cancelled this week). And on Saturday we did Wales, to the tune of Manic Street Preachers' Design For Life. If we can keep that feature working, it's a good part of the show.
Saturday's show was a much tightened improvement on Friday's. We'll see how an audience-lite Sunday show goes. I've now confirmed that we'll be playing a shorter Edinburgh run this year, because of the (hopeful) house move, from the 3rd to 14th August, at 4.45 in the afternoon. Eurovision Sock Contest it is, it'll go in the programme next week.
UPDATE: Sunday's show ended up with 30 in. But, at 2 in the afternoon, they weren't quite as voluble. A good test of the material, which needs tightening to make sure there are laughs for even the toughest crowds. The improv song was Costa Rica, done to a cod-Tango tune and a definite high point. Good reactions to all songs, the UK won, with Austro-Hungary and the East Bloc tying for second.