Thursday, 22 July 2010

Meeting Tweeps.

Well it’s about time I had a ramble again and blurted all of my random thoughts onto the internet. Before I begin, thank you to all of you who do read this and send me lovely comments on here, on twitter or via email. I do really appreciate them.

As the Edinburgh fringe festival looms next month and I have reflected on my eventful birthday weekend in London I have been thinking more about meeting people. I don’t just meeting friends of friends but the random way in which I have met more and more people from twitter. I know this will escalate in Edinburgh and it is one of the things I am really looking forward to. There are many people I have chatted to on twitter on an almost daily basis; to meet those people will be intriguing and I’m sure lots of fun. I know (as I have done before) we will find it mostly quite easy to talk, especially as there will be so many shows we have seen or are seeing in Edinburgh to chat about.

But then there is the other side...

I am sometimes shy, especially with people I have never met or when sober (so may not be too much of a problem in Edinburgh). It is easy not to be shy on twitter, you can hide behind the laptop, if people don’t respond, so what? There is no risk, I use twitter for fun, if people get offended they can unfollow or block me. Face to face is not so simple. Body language greatly changes social interaction, you can tell if someone is offended, even if they are polite enough to try and hide it. Just as you know quite soon if you have good chemistry (no I don’t mean in a sexy way) or they are bored with what you are saying. Other people I meet will also be just as shy, this can make drumming up conversation not that easy. Don’t get me wrong, once I get going I can talk for England, more so if I am nervous ( I am aware not everyone wants to hear me wittering on and on), but in a large group I can be the quieter person hiding at the back.

If there are people there that I know already I am more comfortable as they act like a kind of safety net, people who I know understand that no matter how much I come across as a twat to these new people, they know the real me and will forgive my momentary lapse. I can always turn around and talk to them when a conversation with a new person fails.

Sometimes I do ok, if I can talk about my interests and it is appealing to others and stimulates conversation then we are usually off to a good start. This is why I usually don’t do so well when meeting the comedians and acts I admire. They have (mostly) all been lovely and chatted, but it is usually brief, which is sometimes all that was needed. But occasionally this could be my lack of preparation for the situation, I am focussed on my admiration of their talent and usually have a few questions or comments about their shows, but after that there needs to be more of a conversation (unless they are not friendly/interested). This is where I am totally unprepared. Or it could just be that I am not funny or entertaining. However, sometimes it is different not so long ago a lovely comedienne who I had met a couple of times politely answered my questions and then asked “So, how are you, how are things?” I stumbled over my words and awkwardly said “Erm... fine thanks *long pause* just busy with work.” Not the best conversation starter, but I didn’t expect “normal” conversation so was totally unprepared for it. I need to remember sometimes comedians are everyday friendly people too not just there to answer my interrogations. I do think this is sometimes why I get shy, a moment of paranoia I don’t think people are interested in my life, why would they be? I am nothing special. What I need to do is realise none of us are (or we all are depending on your philosophy). People in general are interesting, if it seems like someone wants to chat then tell them about yourself, but then don’t be rude do also remember to listen and ask about them and their interests. (I do find myself thinking “stop talking, let them say something” but it can lead to an awkward silence if they are not as chatty as me). And no this does not mean I think we should all start telling comedians our life stories, not all of them even want to chat, saying “I really enjoyed your show [some comment about a particular part]” is often enough. I mean in the situations in bars where conversation is more expected, the same advice goes for meeting people from twitter (this is advice to myself, this is why I am rambling); where conversation is expected do have some questions prepared, not in an interrogating way, but ones which (you hope) would stimulate conversation.

I will give away some of my questions now (some are obvious and corny I know and I do plan to think about this more before Edinburgh), feel free to use them if you meet me in Edinburgh, I won’t be offended, actually I think they could break the ice...

- Who have you just seen/seen today?
- Which has been your favourite show so far?
- Who are you most excited to see?
- Is it your first fringe?
- Are you managing to find your way around yet?
- Is your accommodation nice?
- Are you seeing [insert my favourite show/one I am most looking forward to]?
- Have you met many tweeters?

I would hope by this point they too have asked questions and we are locked in Edinburgh conversation, which goes on to anecdotes and friendship (unless we don’t get on, then we just have to make excuses and run away, although sometimes I will need the loo/food/sleep/beer/to meet people/to get to a show).

Anyway, I feel a little more confident now I have thought this through by having a ramble on here. I also realise that many other people will feel exactly the same meeting new people, maybe we should all remember that? Please feel free to comment or offer any advice/ice breaker suggestions/conversation starters (it doesn’t matter that we may all say the same things, in fact it may amuse us). I hope I don’t do what I tend to and stick to talking more to people I have already met than people I haven’t. I am determined to be more outgoing this time.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Day 2 of what a weekend! #PreciousLittle LIVE party

For those of you that don't know, #PreciousLittle (hashtag used on twitter) is a comedy podcast by Michael Legge and James Hingley, see their website here I have been a listener since the beginning last September. Michael calls us fans of the podcast, Podophiles and we often have #ListeningParties where we all listen together and write on twitter. For more about #PreciousLittle see my previous blog The idea behind the events of the 11th of July were to do the podcast with an audience of 40 podophiles, as it was the 40th podcast. It also happened to be my 30th birthday which suited me very well, thanks Michael. So that is the background, here is what happened...

Vicky (@tainted_harmony) and I met up with Neale (@ColonelHitch) to head over to Euston to our hotels (more hot tube journeys). We had a lovely breakfast in the sun (lining our stomachs), checked in and then set off towards the secret venue. Oh, that is not quite accurate, we then searched 6 shops down lots of back streets for a pineapple, but I will come to that in a while. We met up with a few podophiles before the podcast in a pub nearby, it was nice to break the ice in a smaller group, although I had met a number of them before at Los Quattros Cvnts gigs. I think everyone was as nervous as each other walking into a pub and asking a group of strangers if they were podophiles. But soon we were all giggling about the gifts and contributions we had brought to the recording. At this point Neale (@ColonelHitch) revealed the pineapple (see the photo), we had joked that he was the hardest person to recognise as his twitter avatar is of a pineapple in a bow tie, so we recreated it and Neale carried it around all day (until in began to get rather mushy later). We then realised that Graham (@GDLockuk) had a similar avatar of a pint of lager, hence the photos above of them meeting for the first time. We had a drink and a chat, the lovely Neal (@Neal55) gave me a brilliant birthday present of lots of American candy, and Ashley (@waytowastetime) gave me more chocolate. The ice broken we headed across the road to the venue.

At the venue there were more podophiles already waiting, some were recognisable, some were not. We all mingled and said hello, and I was very grateful that Sarah (drunk Sarah @misswiz) had sent everyone a badge, as it was my task to give them out, another great ice breaker. They were also very funny badges which said "I am a pair of bastards" on them, this does make sense if you listen to the podcast. There were too many podophiles to mention but some of the ones I speak to more regularly on twitter were there making it not too awkward to chat (@howlieT, @AndyMcH or Jingle Jim, @BarrySkellern, @The MightyBlackout, @Neal55, @waytowastetime, @GDLockUK, @tainted_harmony or Vicky Harsehole, @wllmtnnnt, @GordyODT oh and many more, sorry if I missed you off this list). Finally we went into the basement for the recording.

Pre-recording Michael had a bit of a funny rant at James due to the microphones being in pint glasses... "I asked you to do one thing... set this whole thing up!" which had us all giggling ready for our treat of a warm up act Mushybees. As podophiles we all know Mushybees does the voice of Pam Ayre for Ayres Rocks, where we send in poetry to be read out. It was great to see Mushybees do her own material and she wonderfully chose William Tennant (@wllmtnnnt) to hold her flip chart and turn it when promtped. Do go and see his work here. The set end with rather a lot of Madeleine McCann material which had me in stitches and William struggling to hold up the chart.

Then it was podcast time. I do not need to go through it in detail as you can go and listen to it yourself, episode 40 of Precious Little is on iTunes now or available from the website here. I will point out some of the highlights for me though. At the beginning of the podcast they played the theme tune by Ian (@IanReentrant) as always, but James was obviously shocked that we all sang along! Of course we did. IN some of the chats with the podophiles we discussed how they all get stuck in your head like little earworms. We did sing other jingles too, my favourite being in the mini podcast, so I can't mention it as it isn't out yet. Michael seemed to bounce off the crowd's reactions as I would have expected but it was great to see and hear James get so many laughs and stand his own ground. Sadly Misha's (@HowlieT) friend Lauren couldn't get in as she was only 17 years old (although another 17 year old did get in), as sorry for her as we felt it did lead to rather a lot of the podcast being dedicated to her in a sick and twisted way, leading to Bunky (@mushybees partner) bringing a barely 18 porn magazine for Michael in the interval. The whole show felt very warm (in the good way) and comfortable, I'm not sure Michael and James would agree with this. Michael did of course look beautiful in his grey t-shirt (which he blogged about here). They seemed incredibly touched that we had a whip around for some beer money for them, the gig was free after all! A wonderful idea from Andy/Jingle Jim (@AndyMcH). I laughed too much at the use of the wanker sign throughout the recording, especially when both Michael and James did it to each other when the other turned their back, a visual catchphrase on a podcast brilliant! Imagine that is what is happening for all unexplained laughter in the podcast. The Gentleman's Review finally joined Michael and James on stage and were almost buried in biscuits from the podophiles (they then had to carry them around all day, there were loads). They were as always very funny, when they could get a word in over Michael, thankfully they do speak more in the mini podcast. Lots of us also brought postcards for the last ever Fuck A Thing, but it will not be heard until the mini podcast later in the week so I won't spoil it, but there were prizes and another live jingle.

During the interval I gave Michael his present from my twin sister, which was a book "The 100 World's Greatest Podcasting Tips", we thought it was appropriate. Michael read some of it out while we waited for people to return, it is obviously the work of a genius and should greatly improve the podcast.

After the podcast we had more booze and chatted, although as always happens I was sad to not get chance to chat with everyone. We also ate my birthday cake, made by Misha. And we skype called Wet Sarah (@h2osarah) in Canada so that she could see all of the podophiles, although we did struggle to hear her on my phone and the picture was a bit rubbish for her, at least we tried. Then followed more booze and more chatting, it was great to meet Andy (@DrBobChoco) and Martin (@Martinwolfenden) from The Gentleman's Review. There was one casualty of the night, a blue ukulele, but it is too upsetting to talk about *sobs*.

A brilliant day/night thanks to everyone involved, I couldn't have had a better 30th birthday.

What a weekend... part 1 (Don’t worry there are only 2 parts).

I know I usually write reflective blogs about issues and topics which I believe I need to think about more. But I had a great birthday weekend full of comedy fun and meeting lots of new people from twitter, so I shall tell you about that instead, you lucky people.

The 11th July was my 30th birthday, not something I was dreading, mainly because I’m generally ok with getting older (see this blog) but also because I had such a full weekend planned. My twin sister was a little bit annoyed that I was missing her party on Saturday night, but we compromised and went to Alton Towers together last week with some friends. So on Saturday the 10th July I headed to London town. I had managed to book first class train travel as it worked out only a couple of pounds more expensive (if you know where to shop for cheap train tickets it helps), I was extremely glad I had done this as it was a very hot day and the air conditioning was only working in those carriages. Free tea is always a bonus too.

On arrival to London I soon met up with Vicky (@tainted_harmony) who I had met before and we got the tube the Southwark to check in to our hotel. I don’t need to go on about it but I will just point out the tube is ridiculously hot on a sunny day, think of this whenever I mention tubes in this blog. So we freshened up and headed on the TUBE (see earlier comment) to Hyde park to find the Watsonian’s picnic (Mark Watson fans from his forum set up by the lovely Misha (@HowlieT) had arranged a meet up). Being as rubbish at keeping up with forums as I am, I had already booked later trains for us to get there fashionably late at 4pm (ish), it started at 12pm. We also failed to bring any food (everyone else had contributed), but there was plenty left and they were all very friendly and fed and watered us. I didn’t catch everyone’s name (nor would I have remembered them if I did) but it was nice to finally see some people from twitter in the flesh and have a chat (I had met a couple of them before). As we arrived the blog entry was being written, each person was writing one word and passing it on, the result can be found here. There was lots of chat about gigs, comedians, arenas and the travelling we had all done just to see comedy. It was all very pleasant and civilised. After burning in the sun for a while we said our goodbyes and headed for the tube again.

The Penny Dreadfuls were an act I had never seen or heard much about, but I trust Simone’s (@Simone_QOF) comedy judgement as should everyone (see her blog) and so we headed to Greenwich with Vicky to meet up with a few more people and watch the preview of their Edinburgh show. I really should thank Kerri (@KerriSullivan) for organising my ticket, thank you! Now I won’t give too much away about the show as it is not fair to spoil it for others, but I can say the opening was very Pappy’s (fans of Pappy’s Fun Club, as they used to be known may guess what this means). It was a wonderful hour of dreadful overacting in brilliantly clich├ęd sketches. Some of the twists on other sketches I had seen were much more clever than I expected. I was also impressed at the colour theme which ran throughout all of the intricate costume, set and prop changes. I do recommend you go and see them in Edinburgh or anywhere else if you can. We hung around in the bar for a little while after, again talking to a variety of people I hadn’t met before, and a few I had. And then we realised that our plan to get the boat to Southbank for our next gig had some timing flaws in it, so we dashed for the train, only to find our timing was not quite right there either. But it didn’t matter, the lovely Kirsty still had cookies in her bag from the Watsonian’s picnic, so fed us as we looked at Venus in the night sky. Until a random man came and ranted at us that we were wrong (there is an app for that and we checked, we were not wrong), he told us to google someone, as this wise woman knew what the mystical light in the sky was... we laughed, a lot.

We dashed into the upside down purple cow tent, that is Udderbelly on Southbank, just a couple of minutes after Andrew Maxwell’s Fullmooners had started.

Words cannot describe Andrew Maxwell’s outfit (see the photo, you will know which one I mean). He had a go, he said he was going for “summer” and then later there was some discussion about how the tight 80s shorts were squashing his knicker kittens. It was my first Fullmooners, and I did enjoy the cabaret aspect of it, it felt like a proper Edinburgh late show (which is where I will see it next), the only part of the concept I wonder about is the howling at the moon. I understand why... Fullmooners, but is it not forcing people to react to comedy rather than waiting for the laughs? The idea is that people howl instead of laugh, sometimes the crowd start it off and then the moon picture is projected onto the back of the stage, but sometimes the picture is up first and the audience reacts. The howling was lots of fun, but there were one or two times it felt like I was in the audience of a sitcom and someone had held up the APPLAUSE sign. The first act was Adam Bloom, I had never seen him before and although he was very energetic and I did laugh out loud a few times there were a couple of bits of his material I was not comfortable with. I had heard about his vegetarian material from Michael Legge’s blog which he did at the end of his set. I don’t mind offensiveness or pushing boundaries, but it just didn’t make me giggle as much as I had hoped. I didn’t think it went as well as it could have done for Adam, despite him stating every few minutes how much he was enjoying the gig. The breakdancers are a regular feature of Fullmooners and do it very well, I do think it is a great way of energising the crowd again. Lady Carol is another regular, she was very beautiful and played the ukulele while singing a song (I think some of the lyrics of the song passed me by, but it was entertaining none the less). Abandoman were another act I had not seen and they were excellent. I can’t say I am a fan of hip hop but the way they improvised the lyrics and had fun with the audience was genius. There first song being “Something in my pocket”, I did hope to see more of them but it was a packed show. The final act was Steve Hughes, I think I have seen him before maybe at Latitude?), he is an Australian comic who is very at ease on stage. Some interesting political commentary including a bit of ranting, just my kind of comedy. I really enjoyed his set. After all of the acts had performed (breakdancers and Lady Carol twice) it was time for the closing ceremony. This takes place outside of Udderbelly as we reached the 1am kick out time (they wouldn’t even let us go back in to wee after). Sir Timothy Fitzhighham (who was on the sound and lights desk all evening and had some wonderful banter with Andrew Maxwell between acts) brought the ceremonial bugle following the still caped and caned Andrew Maxwell. They climbed onto a raised flower bed at the entrance to the udderbelly pasture where the crowd surrounded them. Sir Tim drank a pint of beer through the bugle which he then played as we all saluted. Someone had thought it a great idea to light a Chinese lantern at this point and watch it float into the sky. However, it flew straight into the tree above us and staying there burning dangerously, resulting in Andrew and Sir Tim climbing around trying to know it out of the tree. As all of this was going on some of the people I was with remembered it was now my birthday and sang to me... aw lovely.

We then wandered through Waterloo (for the wee the Udderbelly staff wouldn’t let us have) and in search of food, realising we had only had a couple of bits of cake at the picnic and nothing else since breakfast. Neale (@ColonelHitch), Vicky and I not only found chips n cheese, but we also found a possible entry for Pun Street on Dave Gorman’s Absolute radio podcast (I think it deserves fail lane, but I have not checked the website yet to see if it already exists). Then finally after a great day, we were needed sleep ready for day 2 of the comedy adventure...

Thank you for reading if you got this far (I do realise this is more for my own future recollection than anything else). Oh and sorry I didn’t mention all of the tweeters I met up with, there were too many of you, and I don’t know all of the twitter names, do say hello though.