Sunday, 24 January 2010

Last Week Of Luke & Ross's Shows - GO! GO!

Apologies for the spotty updates so far this 2010 - I'm hella busy with lots of pseudo-exciting stuff that may or may not come to fruition, and some of that will involve my posting sporadically worthwhile things on this here blog for your perusal. I do enjoy having a meagre platform for my first drafts and half-formed opinions like terrible irradiated embryos hacked from their dead mothers' swollen bellies.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that last week I went to see the latest solo shows by my dear chums Luke Wright and Ross Sutherland, during their run at the Old Red Lion Theatre (nearest tube Angel), which continues until the end of this month. Luke's is called The Petty Concerns Of Luke Wright and Ross's is called The Three Stigmata Of Pac-Man.

Obviously I'm not a very credible advocate of their work, because, as I've made clear, they're good mates of mine. HOWEVER, if I'd thought the shows were crap I simply wouldn't have mentioned them. I actually reckon that they're brilliant. You should go and watch them and see two experienced young poets operating at the height of their powers. They've had several splendid reviews, and a bit in The Independent, and, you know, if you're in London you should do something different and interesting with one of your weeknights and take a friend along who's never seen performance poetry before. The shows are funny and witty and not so long you'll get bumache, and you'll have a new thing to have an opinion about and you'll feel all cultured and arty when you talk to friends for the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, look, you can make your own mind up by watching these clips from their shows. I hope you enjoy:

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is In Another Castle

So, I just realised I've never posted up this track by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and Kaki King. It's written from the perspective of one of the Mushroom Retainers (or 'Toads') that Mario saves at the end of each castle in Super Mario Bros. Toad was my favourite character in Super Mario Bros 2, and I'm glad to see the plucky guys triumphantly return in Super Mario Bros Wii.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Hello 2010!

Hey you. Nice to see you again. You're looking well. Have you had a haircut? Sure? Well your hair looks great today, then. You're welcome.

I had a pretty Kinder Bueno 2009, all told. My first (maybe only!) book came out, I got to do gigs with Vic Reeves, Jon Ronson and Tim Key, I tried my hand at stand-up, and I made some new friends. So come on 2010, how are you going to beat that?

Well, it looks like I'm going to be taking my first ever solo show to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. I'm working on it at the moment, and my main goal is to make it not crap. Having written material for four live shows in the past two years, I know only too well that I'm capable of lurching between rather entertaining and drab sniper bait, so I'm kind of counting on lots of trial runs and useful feedback between now and then. If you were to ask me what kind of show I'd like to go see at the Fringe (well, clearly even if you weren't I'd still volunteer the information unsolicited) I'd say something funny and interesting that made me think. That's the kind of show I'm trying to write.

It's weird though - the moment you start putting stuff down on paper, all these possibilities start closing themselves off to you. I think, as a writer, my biggest enemy is lack of focus. My ideas fly about like shiny bits of paper in the Crystal Dome at the end of the Crystal Maze, and I get sort of dazzled and mesmerised by them and can't decide which to grab for. I think probably the piece of live writing I'm most pleased with so far is my 'How To Save Your Girlfriend' bit for Infinite Lives. Although, in the linked video, it was my first run-through and so my performance is not the greatest, once I had it down I really enjoyed delivering it. It allows me to talk about some obscure shit that I secretly care about, like the opening part of Wardner, or Dynamite Dux on the Master System, but by making relationships the nominal subject of the talk, it's accessible to people who are usually bored to within a merry inch of their lives by banter about video games. I love video games, and getting people to laugh at random stuff I'd privately laughed at before felt really good.

It's very unlikely my first show will use a screen. Though I'm a fan of the Aisle16 comedy microlecture format, and it's hugely useful to be able to illustrate a point or chuck in cool, colourful pictures, unless you need it for every section, it splits attention across a whole extra medium. Plus, I'm a bit concerned that I'll end up writing in that ironic faux-lecturer voice, whereas I'm trying to work towards the 'Hey, I'm just a regular folksy dude telling you the story of what happened to me' voice (though just as grounded in artifice) that typifies things like The Moth. Also, it's just much easier to find places to practise bits of a screenless show in front of a live audience, whereas if I use a screen I've pretty much got a coupla previews, then I'm doing it.

I don't know. Like I say, as soon as you start chowing down on one meadow, the grass o'er yonder starts to look increasingly verdant. Like ectoplasmically so. We're talking Slimer or some shit. That's why it's good I've left myself with plenty of time to pull a 180 if I decide I need to try a different route, like 'git with clicker'.

Anyway, onwards with scriptwriting. In the meantime, you should really go check out Cat And Girl. It's so witty it annoys and depresses me. The internet is renowned as a world-trumping cretin nexus, yet it's full of people much smarter than me.