Thursday, 25 August 2011

Parallelogramophonograph: Villainy

One of the disadvantages as an improv group being reviewed on a single show is that the reviewer might not get you on your best performance. That's true of any theatre, but more so in improv because of the infinite range of possibilities that could happen on stage. Even the best improvisers in the world still have the constant threat of a terrible show just around the next corner.

However, one of the joys of reviewing improv has just revealed itself to me. You can go back and see the same performers do a completely different show, and give it a whole new review. Well, that's probably not really best practice, but screw it, I make my own rules.

I went back to see the wonderful Parallelogramophonograph again, as I loved their show the first time. Look see, I gave them a 4-star review for their superb Grimm Fairy Tales show a short while back. I went back because they've been doing a series of different shows this Fringe and I wanted to see their "Villainy" format.


Right, firstly, these guys really are immensely likable on stage. It's hard not to be charmed by their demeanour when just chatting to the audience. The 'front-man', Roy, is warm and cuddly and looks like a big friendly puppet, and the rest of the group have friendly eyes and an infectious playfulness. This is in stark contrast to their Villainy show, where they "play for scares instead of laughs". The show I saw was based on an audience member offering a childhood memory of Santa creeping into the darkness of her bedroom on Christmas eve... great for a scarefest.

I must say, what followed was some of the most enjoyable long-form improv I've seen, ever. It was dark, hilarious and all set at the perfect pace. I love slow-burning stories that take their time to unravel, and this did exactly that. It also had a really sexy ending that left you with unanswered questions and a sense of edginess. It was exactly what I wanted. Rather than hastily resolving all the elements of the story in the the last few minutes, as many groups will mistakenly do, Pgraph perfectly judged it to leave you wanting more, exiting the room with your own ideas of where the story had went and would go. It sounds like bad storytelling not to tidy up all the threads, but I must reaffirm, they did this perfectly.

Because I've re-reviewed this, I'm giving myself permission to give them more stars. I'm not sorry. It was gorgeous. I live by no-one's rules but my own. Not even my own.


Parallelogramophonograph perform Improvised Plays from Austin, Texas at 'The Space On The Mile' (Venue 39) in Edinburgh, at 7.40pm, 5-27th August.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Why are most comedy groups white, middle class twenty/early thirty-somethings?

First off, are most comedy groups white, middle class twenty/early thirty-somethings? I haven’t done a formal scientific investigation, so this blog could be based entirely on something that isn’t true. But from my random observations and general feelings based on four years at the Edinburgh Fringe, it does seem to be the case.

What’s more worrying though is that nobody seems to be asking the question here or discussing the topic at all. Maybe it is being discussed behind the scenes in various organizations, but at the front line of performance and venues it doesn’t seem to be covered at all and there seems to be more of an every man for himself attitude and no real discussion on where performers actually come from.

Added to this it still appears in many TV circles that TV comedy is largely produced by Oxbridge graduates. Do you have to be educated in classics to be funny? Not in my opinion, especially when compared to the hilarity I’ve seen when running improvisation workshops in Balham secondary schools.

I believe there are other factors that influence the demographic of people performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, and most of them accidentally come out from the presumed open access nature of the Fringe. The Fringe is structured on being open access, so that anyone can take a show to the fringe – but can everyone really take a show to the fringe?

These are the basic requirements in taking a show to the fringe in a standard paid venue, and this is for quite a small group (us) with a small budget (ours):

£3000 guarantee to secure venue
£400 programme entry
£400 printing costs
£1500 accommodation
£400 equipment
£300 costumes

So that’s a bare minimum of £6000, and that doesn’t include living expenses. Most groups in paid venues probably spend more than this too. On the Free Fringe the guarantee payment is removed, but then again so is the chance of making any major money back.

For comedy groups to start making a proper impact and get noticed in Edinburgh they usually have to come back at least three years in a row, for example Pappy’s Fun Club, Delete The Banjax and The Penny Dreadfuls. But behind the scenes you’ll usually find that the performers had already been performing at the festival with other groups for a few years before their better known group took off.

So that’s probably about five years of sourcing £6000 to make a serious impact on Edinburgh and the comedy industry. But in reality the costs each year actually go up, as groups tend to rise up to higher profile venues and bigger rooms.

Also remember the Edinburgh Fringe takes place over the whole month of August, so you need that time off any work and family commitments. If you’re doing a proper job you’re probably also going to need a few weeks off before, and most people are pretty dead to the world for a week after.

So to summarise the following is needed to launch a successful comedy group on the Fringe:
1. At least £6000 a year.
2. At least a month off from work and other major commitments.
3. Repeat for at least five years with no other ‘life things’ getting in the way.

I believe these requirements already cancel out huge sections of the population from doing the fringe. People who have £6000 outright to spend might tend to also be in ‘proper jobs’ that don’t allow the time off required, whereas those with easy time off might be in a life situations where it’s harder or riskier to find the money. Older people may have families that makes it harder to justify the repeated time away. Younger people just don’t yet have the money or organization skills to get a group there.

So it’s already self-selected a small fraction of the population. When you then multiply this over the repeat years needed you can see why a tiny percentage of “fringe types” remain.

In addition to this is the peer group effect. When I went the first time I came back home and reported to all my friends about it, and low and behold four years later they are all here with shows. This seems to be repeated for most people here, as they originally heard about it and were inspired to do it when someone from within their peer group took a show here.

There may be Edinburgh Fringe outreach programmes going on, I really hope there are as I think they are really needed. Otherwise it’s just like one internal slap on the back fest.

Also there seem to be large comedy organizations (BBC, Avalon, Comedy Central, Channel 4 etc etc) that have huge amounts of money and could make a massive difference to grass routes comedy but don’t. They seem to support the fringe by showcasing the best new talent, or supporting competitions, or swiping off the annual award winners into fame and fortune. But they seem to target people who have already gone through the five year cycle, so the self-selection process has already taken place.

Why aren’t the BBC sponsoring the Free Fringe? That’s the real grass routes here, that’s where the help is really needed. Why aren’t Channel 4 covering the fringe programme costs of new acts?

I was at the Edinburgh International Television Festival last year, which occurs over the last weekend of the Edinburgh Fringe. The general attitude of many producers I met there seemed to be looking at who had won awards at the end, going to see them, and then maybe arranging a meeting. This is so lazy it makes me feel physically sick. Again the self-selection process of who can afford the time and money to do the fringe for five years has already happened, and they can swoop in like vultures at the end of this process claiming they ‘discovered new talent’. Idiots.

So the closest we’ve got to any kind of open access point to the Edinburgh Fringe is the fantastic Free Fringe, with Peter Buckley-Hill genuinely caring about new performers and doing an amazing job of keeping the fringe alive. Without him the cycle would break down.

How does the fringe as a whole treat this amazing gift of a Free Fringe? Terribly.

Last week there was a horrendous mail out from Three Weeks, one of the largest reviewers at the fringe. They seemed to have taken it upon themselves to spend an entire issue slating off the Free Fringe, with one star reviews for multiple acts. Furthermore the writing was far from objective, with idiotic reviewers gleefully insulting acts personally just to prove how jolly clever their writing was. Even worse was that simultaneously some of the higher profile groups seem to have such great press people that their reviews now read like a verbatim copy of their press release.

The message to new acts was clear: DON’T BOTHER, WE DON’T WANT YOU.

But we do want you, and more than that, we need you. Without these new acts trying new things the fringe will freeze up and die and just become a massive orgy of men who have been on Live at the Apollo or Mock the Week.

Why are the reviewers even marking new acts on the same scale as groups who are professionally managed with over a decade of experience? By all means point out the great things on the Free Fringe (Cariad Lloyd, Phil Kaye, Four Screws Loose etc) but why on Earth bother to kill off everything else from this amazing melting pot?

Reviewers don’t do that for TV.  They should. “X factor. Shit bog standard talent show of people that can’t sing. 1 star.” Three Weeks. I don’t understand why hours of awful TV manages to avoid being reviewed at all while a group of sixth formers missing a beat in sketch show on the free fringe results in such a barrage of poison pen reviews.

The Free Fringe is more creative than the entire Edinburgh Television Festival. In the Free Fringe there is no money and yet every year there is a never ending world of imaginative new ideas and life. At the Edinburgh Television Festival there was loads of money flying around, men in suits drinking free champagne in the museum, and multiple lectures on creative strategy. Over the same year the entire multi-million television industry seemed to spawn Geordie Shore, Made in Essex, and Made in Chelsea. Well done TV.

On top of all this in The Scotsman recently there was an article that seemed to suggest that The Free Fringe would be the death of the Edinburgh Fringe. What??? It’s the only thing that’s keeping it alive long term. This is because the Free Fringe’s Peter Buckley-Hill suggests a sliding scale for the programme entry, which I think is a fantastic idea.

At the moment all groups/shows pay the same amount to be in the Edinburgh Fringe programme. So if you are a multi-millionaire Mock the Week comedian, with a full production team behind you, performing to 500 people every night at 20 quid a pop OR a new to the fringe performer with a free show in a small room behind the pub – you pay the same to be in the programme. Seems fair? No!

So many Free Fringe people, and others, are suggesting that maybe the people performing in bigger venues with more money should pay more to the infrastructure of the fringe than the people playing in smaller venues with no money.

This is such an obviously good idea to me that I can’t believe it’s not the case already.

Yet it appears to be blocked by everyone. One of the major arguments seems to be “It’s only 400 quid or whatever, it’s such a small amount and it’s good value.” Which is quite frankly pathetic. Of course it’s a small amount to the huge acts, that’s the whole point. But to the 17 year old doing comedy for the first time in drafty church hall in Balham, it could be the deciding factor between going to the fringe or not, and unfortunately at the moment the answer is “not”.

So all in all, yes the Fringe is open access, but hidden rules and patterns pop up that make it anything but. When we have a chance to attack these factors head on, we should be open to change. Listen to Peter Buckley-Hill.

- by Steve Roe, blogging for

Improsium 2, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Hello Fellow Improvisers!

We'd like to invite you to this years Improv Symposium - "Improsium 2!"

Last year (2010) the Improv Symposium brought together over 70 representatives from around 30 improv companies, from around the world. The event was hosted by The Maydays and the panel was made up of Dylan Emery (Showstopper!/Grand Theft Impro/School of Night), Katy Schutte (The Maydays/Katy & Rach), Tom Livingstone (Noise Next Door) and Mike McShane (Whose Line is it Anyway?/Paul Merton's Impro Chums).
It was so much fun that this year we're doing it again and we'd love you to join us.

Improv Symposium
Wednesday 24th August 2011 - FREE
10:45am - 12:00pm
White Belly

Calling all improv companies at the Edinburgh Fringe...

There is more improv at the fringe than ever before. We're very excited about that, so we thought we'd get everyone together for a panel discussion/networking event, followed by a bit of a social. There will also be a photocall at 12:00pm

The panel will include representatives from Showstopper and The Maydays with more to be announced, to share their thoughts and answer questions on topics such as improv as a comedy career and how the entertainment industry views improv.

All members of improv teams performing in the festival (or indeed improvisers coming up to perform in the future) are welcome.

Please wear your performance kit as we'll do some photos and there may well also be a press photographer or two there as well.

If you want to get in touch or have any enquiries email us at or call Heather on 07818290562

Saturday, 13 August 2011

PPP 2 - Partnership

Luke Beahan presents the second part of his interesting insight, as he learns about making stuff up in the great improv city of Chicago

Hello and welcome to the second part of my exploration of what people mean when they say 'Improv'. Improvising is really a set of different skills that we use to create sketches, plays or abstract games on stage, and for me it took a while for this to sink in. I just thought of it all as Improv. The second part is:


This is something I only really started to get a couple of months ago, and I am still practicing it now. I think I will forever be practicing it, because its all about supporting my partners, and they will always be changing throughout my improv career. I would say this is the most valuable improv skill, and the most difficult to master, because you don't know how well you are doing unless you ask your fellow improvisers.

Supporting your partners means a lot of things, but at the basic level it means coming into every scene and respecting your partners' ideas and reacting to them or heightening them. It means suspending all judgement on what's going on and joining in, and that goes against a lot of habits that we all have.

At a higher level it can also mean supporting the story as a minor character rather than adding to it. I saw a lot of improv in Chicago and a lot of Harolds spiralled out into overly complicated narratives because people kept introducing new characters and ideas instead of picking what they started with and supporting that.

I didn't even realise how guilty I was of such habits until I took a Crunchy Frog workshop earlier this year. My job was to come in at the end of a scene and reincorporate, and it wasn't until Dylan Emery sidecoached me to use only what had come up before that I realised how much new stuff I was adding. When I just reinforced what had already been said I got a laugh and the scene ended on a coherent note. I had been standing offstage judging the scene instead of waiting to support it. You can't invent or support if you are judging.

Think about that example pragmatically, if the scene really was that 'bad' then all I was doing by adding more stuf was prolonging it. By coming in and supporting it the scene ended straight away. So even if you believe that you should be standing there measuring ideas, the only way to avoid doing 'bad' work is to stop thinking that there is such a thing as 'bad' work.

Here is another revelation I got whilst I was in Chicago. I used to get frustrated in scenes with newer improvisers who would ask a lot of questions or make similar scenes where they don't add much information into the scene. I used to think of it as them 'not giving me anything'. But they are always giving you something. Craig Uhlir was my teacher in the last week and he said something offhand that clicked for me, always be assuming. So if they are just asking you questions about how you are going to do an operation, just assume they are after your job, or they are a health inspector, and endow them. You have reacted to their input and given them something in return, parternship yay! If they are really fresh then there is a chance they will deny that endowment and you are stuck, but that's the learning process.

So now I try not to think of people as 'not giving me anything', instead I feel more frustrated because they are not playing with me. That is a judgement-free observation that allows me to step up my interaction with them. How do you get an improviser to play with you? Play with them by respecting their ideas and react to them. There is no such thing as a bad improviser, only a scared improviser.

This contains a lot of humps to overcome. You have the idea from your own Process that everything you say is cool, but now you have to modify that to fit in with other people. Also the 'Do unto others' paradox, you have to be completely supportive, but what if they aren't supporting you? Can you even make that kind of judgement in the middle of a scene?

Partnership is what I would call the real core of being an improviser. If I can't get up and make anyone look good then I have a long way to go. That might sound like a ridiculous goal, but people can do it. If you really want to create something unique then you need to learn how to create with other people, so the creation is more than the sum of its parts. Otherwise all you have is two or more people being funny or interesting on stage.

Next up - Performance, what it's all about.

PPP 1 - Improv is Meaningless

Luke Beahan is in Chicago right now, learning the ways of Improv in one of the best Improv cities in the world. Lucky so-and-so.

There I said it, improv is just pretending, you can do whatever you want.

Often when I hear or read people using the term impro or improv I have no idea (and thus I imply they probably have no idea) what they mean when they say impro. Something I was thinking about before I came to Chicago has now crystallised in my mind, and I will now explain how talking about impro as this unified thing confused me and held back my learning.

When people talk about improvising they are actually talking about 3 different things, which I have named as Process, Partnership and Performance. Just to be clear these are headings I use to organise things in my mind, if I treated them as absolute definitions then I would have a completely different problem blocking my learning.


Process is what goes on inside you and brings up the ideas you use in improv. Complete beginners and dabblers in improv have the same problem when it comes to process, they are afraid of getting it wrong, so they filter everything that comes out of them. Improvisers that never seem stumped for an idea are the ones that have connected with their process. They don't worry about being right or funny, they just say what comes into their heads. This is really hard but really important to learn, and we often have different blocks when it comes to process. I began as a very verbal improviser, so I go to physical workshops to learn how to tap into being more physical, and these workshops contain people who can roll around on the floor and act like a duck at the drop of a hat but who are clearly afraid of everything that comes out of their own mouth.*

Process is so much larger than most beginners tap into. We can work from words, we can work from emotion, we can work from action, we can work from object-work, and in longform we can work from theme. It is impossible to be on stage and get stuck because for example you can just bend down and pick up an imaginary object and relate it to your scene. Most improv I have seen so far is verbal. About 80% of scenes start with two people walking on stage and talking to each other. A game like Freeze Tag uses positions to start ideas. Imagine combining the both and suddenly your options for stumbling on fun ideas is multiplied. Throw in all the other things and you have a literal infinity of resources on stage. There is no such thing as a bad improviser, only a scared improviser. Everyone is interesting and filled with imagination.

Right now you are either reading this and thinking "Yes I agree, I remember this scene or this teacher..." or you are thinking "I don't agree, what about that one guy in that scene..."; whether you agree or disagree your mind has thrown up a whole load of random connections, specific to you. Learn how to turn that connection into a character or line of dialogue (or whatever you want) and congratulations, you are now an improviser, stop paying for classes you imaginative fool and get on stage.

If you have ever looked at a first-timer in a class and thought "That person is boring and will always be boring," then congratulations, you have just placed an invisible ceiling on your own mastery of Process. If you don't believe that all humans are imaginative and are held back by social chains then you are not training yourself to recognise those chains and if you can't see them then you can't take them off yourself.

That's all I got to say about Process. It's a personal thing, everyone has different hang-ups and learning experiences. I think we only learn by challenging ourselves and doing new things, so that we gain the confidence to use those things more.

Remember: If you look at an improviser and say "She is a good improviser because she has loads of ideas," then what you are saying is that she has confidence in her own ideas and is in touch with her own imaginative process.

I will write two more posts detailing what I think Partnership and Performance means, and then maybe a summarising post explaining why thinking like this is going to help me move forward in my learning. I think I will call it Collisions because you get a lot of contradictory advice and teaching in improv and making sense of it has been my biggest challenge. Now I can decide what part of improv a teacher or game is working towards. I am also going to talk about an elephant, prepare yourselves.

*Here is a tip for this kind of thing. It doesn't matter. Every hang up comes down to the same thing, you don't want to say or do something 'wrong', but there is no such thing. Is the idea that I am afraid of moving in a certain strange way any different from not wanting to say something strange? They are the same fear with a different label, we need to be more confident in our own inherent interestingness as human beings. Simple and therefore very difficult to do.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Improvised Plays from Austin, Texas

Firstly, Parallelogramophonograph is a brilliant name for a group. Good.

Secondly, what a really likable bunch of performers. Excellent.

Parallelogramophonograph are doing a variety of shows at the Fringe, swapping each day. They specialise in French Farce, 1950's Screwball comedy, and - on the night we saw - Grimm Fairy Tales. For this they had a pleasantly accessible, simple format where each improviser took turns to narrate a tale in the style of the Brothers Grimm. Beginning in a shack in a wood, a family of goatherders fill their evening by telling odd tales with mysterious morals, and the other characters act out the story. It's a bit like the shortform game "typewriter" but with a back story and setting for the writers.

I found them to be immensely likable people, and when you're selling an impro show that's a pretty good start. They were technically good and had a lovely mischief to their period piece; naming a character "Burger King" for example. The show was about as utilitarian as it's title. Improvised Plays from Austin, Texas provided an improvised play, with simplicity and playfulness that I will definitely pop back and see again. Very interested to see the 1950's screwball comedy, although that might be linked to my pin-curl fetish.


Parallelogramophongraph perform Improvised Plays from Austin, Texas at 'The Space On The Mile' (Venue 39) in Edinburgh, at 7.40pm, 5-27th August.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Lady Cariad has Character

I'm going to be jumping on a massive bandwagon here as she's already been reviewed and recommended by The Guardian, Fringe Review and.. well let's face it, pretty much everyone in the world, but Cariad Lloyd is ace and her show should be seen by you. Yes, you.

Okay, maybe I'm slightly biased. I've already admitted I have a massive comedy horn for her. And if I'm going to be completely honest, I am doing the tech-stuff for her show and she's said that if her audiences are big enough she'll boost my £5 per show fee to £10... but please take that honesty into the next paragraph.

Cariad Lloyd is one of those rare performers, someone who has managed to become funny, skilled and in possession of a hyperbolically superb comedy muscle, but she's managed to do all that while still retaining a warmth and generosity in her performance that brings the whole audience along with her. Her show features a collection of characters from her own mind that are all engaging and amusing. They are all just the right amount of surreal, with just the right amount of darkness. My favourites are Andrew The 7 Year-Old Stand-Up and Jack Le Cock, the (largely shit) parkour expert. Cariad perfoms in a way that draws you ever further to the edge of your seat, so you don't miss a single one of the hundreds of tiny little jokes that hide in between the big ones. I've now seen the show 4 times, and I've still found new funny in each show. And I still have about 23 performances to go. That's a good thing. By the end I might have picked up on all of them.

We love Cariad as an improviser, and we love that her impro-brain has led her to other types of performance. And coming runner-up in the Funnys Funny female comedian of the year a couple of weeks ago lends credibility to my gushing. For which I'm not sorry.


Cariad performs Lady Cariad's Characters at The Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh, at 3.55pm as part of the Free Fringe. So the show is free. And it's worth a hundred times that.
Come along. I highly recommend it. And there's a ten pound note with my name on it.

Dr. Music Box's Prevention of the Edinburgh Lurgy

Hello, Dr. Music Box here. At previous Edinburgh festivals I have rapidly fallen victim to Edinburgh lurgy.


Symptoms of Edinburgh lurgy include:

- Sleeping all day for no reason.
- Turning a pale green/grey colour.
- Sheltering under a duvet like an introverted snail and only coming out to perform. If the first words you say each day are actually on stage to an audience, you’re in trouble.
- Shouting to yourself the second you leave the flat “why does it rain only when I’m outside?” and taking the weather really personally.


Causes of Edinburgh lurgy include:

- Sharing 3 bedrooms with 10 people.
- Putting on shoes in the morning that haven’t dried out from the night before
- Flyering in the constant rain while maintaining a positive attitude,
- Calling 3am an early night.
- Ongoing jealousy of other people’s show (“They’ve got a set?? How come we don’t have a set?” How many people did you get in your audience?” etc)
- Obsessive checking of facebook and twitter for #edfringe news. This includes late at night while surrounded by snoozing members of the cast.
- Surviving on nothing but rain and mist all day and then overloading on beer in plastic cups and late night takeaway vendors in the evening.


This year my previous Edinburgh experience has kicked in and yesterday I made various attempts to prevent the Edinburgh lurgy. These included:

- Walking up Arthur’s Seat straight after the show. Wooo, like, we’re totally looking down on Edinburgh man, like, totally getting some perspective.
- Deliberately eating in a chain pizza restaurant away from the Royal Mile surrounded like normal people.
- Dressing like a tourist when I’m not flyering or performing.
- Experiencing sunshine for the first Edinburgh in ages. Yep, this happened yesterday and it was awesome. I actually have a suntan.

In fact everything about yesterday was pepping me up. We had a full audience, which was an amazing experience, and had improvised a really cool show set in a graveyard featuring various ghosts and 1500 year old gravediggers and the song “it looks like a human, smells like a human, but it’s actually a demon”. So we’re now entering the show in high spirits and having fun.

Other Random Edinburgh Observations

Whose poster can you flyer over?

All manner of un-written rules about this. It’s widely agreed that it’s open season on the Royal Mile pillars, and you can poster over stuff, but that’s the only place you can do so. But even then I’ve discovered various sub-clauses when it comes to putting posters up there. These include:

1a.i: Not postering over a friend’s show, obvious really.
1a.ii: Not postering over a show you’ve seen and enjoyed.
1a.iii: Not postering over someone you’ve met in person. This had the weird effect of me meeting someone at a promo show and immediately thinking “dammit, I can’t poster over their show now”.
1b: If someone posters over your poster then all of the above are null and void, and you are allowed to hold a postering grudge for the rest of the festival.
1c: If someone is more organized than you, with multiple posters attached together and a taller ladder, then they are a valid target.

Most Popular Phone Conversation in Edinburgh

“Hello. Where are you?”
“I’m on the Royal Mile.”
“Come over to C Venues.”

Second Most Popular Phone Conversation in Edinburgh

“Hello. Where are you?”
“I’m at C Venues.”
“Come over to the Royal Mile.”

Exciting stuff.

- by Steve Roe, blogging for

Thursday, 4 August 2011

1st Music Box Show In Edinburgh


First show done, first flyering done, first pint had.

This feels soooo good and has released a feel-good sense of adventure within me where I just want to make more cool things happen. More good news is that the first show had an audience! I was fully prepared to perform to one man and his dog, but in the end there were a lot more than one man, and no dogs.

We made up Lather the musical based on an audience suggestion of a car wash and featuring the song "Couldn't Fit Quicker than a Kwik Fit Fitter". I played a rich banker who had a love of red Fiat Puntos and the girl who worked in the car wash. For some reason I changed from American to posh British to myself to underdog throughout the musical, so a bit of character work needed, but other than that thought it was a fun musical.

Such a relief to get it done too, and the first show nerves are evaporated.

Also it was a hurdle getting over flyering. I don't usually enjoy flyering but I found the Edinburgh people were lovely and actually up for me chatting about the show. They also found it funny that I was pictured on the flyer.

The C venues staff are really top notch - professional, friendly, switched on and are adding loads to the show.

So really happy overall for a great first day. Going out to a C venues party this evening, and then more of the same tomorrow.

Jon says: "Remember it's not how many laughs you get, it's how many girls you've got in your Cadillac."

Thanks for that Jon, that's really helpful.

- by Steve Roe, blogging for

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Edinburgh To-Do No.456: Be in a good mood.

There was a flurry of Music Box social activity before leaving London. On Friday night I found myself at a BBQ where everyone there was about to be in a show before Edinburgh. Everything was noticeably “before Edinburgh” over the weekend. I’m eating a burger, before Edinburgh. I’m sitting on the tube, before Edinburgh. This is the last time I’ll be in Morden, before Edinburgh. Morden, I’ll miss you.

We also did our last pre-Edinburgh show, at London Zoo, which went down really well and so put us all in great spirits. This was followed by our last pre-Edinburgh rehearsal at The Miller, where everyone had the same idea and brought along loads of cookies, cake and sweets. This also went really well so morale is at a high at just the right time, which makes me feel really happy.

I also got to the point on Sunday where I’d finally done all the pre-Edinburgh admin I could possibly do, and was staring at a ticked to-do list for once in my life.

My first thought was, what shall I do now? The answer I decided was to chill out, and have fun. Whatever the aims of the show are, the best thing to do right now is to chill out and have fun. Afterall there’s nothing worse than being in a comedy group that’s getting stressed and staring at each other wide eyed saying “WE HAVE TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH, NOW!”

Similarly nobody wants to be flyered by someone who looks sick and stressed. It’s not the face of someone who is going to make you laugh and feel good about life.

So whatever I do now, being in good spirits is the main priority. I’ve been diligently organizing myself into a good mood. First step was a run in the park. When I’m running I always pretend I’m an escaped prisoner of war and I’m running away from Nazis. It makes it more exciting. I haven’t admitted that to anyone before! I’m 32.

This good mood was rapidly escalated by finally getting the train to Edinburgh this morning. That’s right, I’m in Edinburgh now! The whole of Twitter is overflowing with people tweeting “I’m in Edinburgh, woooooo!” and I’m one of them. That’s right, I’m a massive Edinburgh cliché, and I’m proud of it!

I arrived off the train and immediately walked into C Venues to meet everyone. Was amazed how professional and friendly and efficient everyone was. Amazing stuff, I feel really confident in the venue team. This was rapidly followed by a similar series of really helpful and friendly meetings at Fringe Central Office. I had probably the most productive day I’ve had all year and things that I thought would take all day just took a couple of hours.

Which left me the rest of the day to hang out with Becca, our director, and be really silly. We spent the evening walking up to the top of Carlton Hill where we occupied ourselves by singing random songs about the Edinburgh view below while eating Muller Rice. These included a punk number along the lines of “Pleasance Courtyard, didn’t want us, we don’t care” and dirty little number about a phallic shaped Chinese lantern falling from the sky. It was incredibly childish, and did wonders for chilling us out.

So I might have remembered, just in the nick of time, that if you’re doing comedy you can’t take things too seriously. Edinburgh, wooooooo!

- by Steve Roe, blogging for