Saturday, 26 February 2011

Saturday 26th February 2011: Self-Promotion, Stars, Masques and Jacques D'Ancona

This blog will be a bit shorter than those in past weeks. That is because it's quite a busy time at the moment, what with all kinds of goings-on happening in my life. You know. Here's a list for the coming week.

13.00-14.00 Performing Ben Jonson's THE MASQUE OF QUEENES for the first time since 1609 and guaranteeing myself a place in an obscure history books on the much neglected and palpably irrelevant theatrical form of the Masque. I'll be playing Jonson himself (meta) and it's going to go down in EDB 128.

19.00-22.00 (with interval) In Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. By Tom Stoppard, I'll be the one shouting (in character as Claudius), standing in a corner looking tired/smug/menacing (in character as a tragedian) and doing lots of scene-changes. Please come, it's going to be brilliant.

Three stand-up gigs in two days, both in Brighton. There's been someone round to leaflet the neighbourhood, as well as Sussex campus (hopefully) so my name is on a piece of paper yet again. How lovely. I'm doing two TopBanana nights as well as the Hanover Pub (not 100% certain yet). So COME! My parents will be coming to one of those nights, so my usual nervous energy might tip over into mania or make for a tour-de-force of quiet, odd, voice-based comedy stories. Whatever floats your boat.

As well as the fact that my bike has returned from repairs (new brakes, new left pedal and a serious de-rustification process about 30 years overdue), costing me 30 quid. But hey, at least I'm not going to die in traffic anytime soon. And in a hillbased town such as this, that's always nice. The soles of my shoes were getting worn down, being used as stand-ins for proper brakes, making me look like a crap Wile E. Coyote wannabe. Which is the least aspirational cartoon character in my opinion. So yeah.

Two gigs last week, aside from the R&G rehearsal process. One in Hove, which went -meh- (insert that well-known nasal sound of ambiguity) and one yesterday, at UpstairsAtTheThreeAndTen (actual name of the venue, I swear, I didn't make this up) which went brilliantly. So much fun. I was on in the second half, and just before the end of the interval, I heard a reviewer was in. That would have been the first review since January 2009, where I was reviewed in a touring comedy play by infamous Dutch theatre critic Jacques D'Ancona. Negatively, I should point out. The only negative review of the entire run. But I didn't really care about that, since the man made a name for himself as a panelist on the Dutch version of Junior Stars in their Eyes, judging the children and arguing with his fellow-panelist, a talking bull. Lovely man. Hello Jacques, if you're reading this!

I just realised, I should have put the 5 stars we got in August 2008 from on my blog as a means of self-promotion. Oh, I just did. Ah well.

But, yeah, the gig was brilliant.

That's what I wanted to say, really. So I'll just continue now with drinking tea, reading Lewis Carroll (seminar on both Alice-books on Friday) and watching Whose Line is it Anyway.

Love to all, individually and collectively.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Monday 14th February 2011: Bah, Humbug (Part 9)

I despise Valentines Day.

Well, what did you expect? Don't ever think I'd take an unbiased viewpoint for the sake of mere originality, you fools. I'll just take whatever's the most angry thing I can think of and write about that for your diversion (wouldn't dream of using the word entertainment).

But no, I genuinely do. I hate it. More than anything in the world, even after filling 40+ of these blogs with nothing but angry, faux-depressed, deeply unoriginal bile at the world. And references to meta-theatrical trickery without meaning or value. And crap spelling/grammar. Who's the dawg? ....

I have several reasons for hating Valentines day:

1. It's February.

2. It's innately false and intended to make non-single people feel anxious, and single people feel inadequate; though I suppose that's what it's meant to do in a society where relationships are valued and those without are mocked.

3. I failed to get through in the Chortle Student competition; which means that to all intents and purposes I am a failure, without merit, use or value and possibly seriously deluded about my comedic abilities. Although I am the one saying this, so I cant be that deluded, can I? (see what I did there? I took a negative, and spun it round to a complimentary pat on the shoulder. That's got to be quality. Book me, bitches!)

4. It's February. Didn't you listen the first time?

5. I've had a genuinely crap day so far, with as a high point, the moment where the lock on my bicycle decided to ruin my slowly improving mood by refusing to give way, even after kneeling down and turning the key with violent force, normally reserved for carpentry and veterinary operations. Then, the key turned to mush and snapped, charmingly, into my astonished hands. I did not have any spare key at hand at that particular point in time, so I shamefacedly hobbled over to a local bike shop, where I asked if he could help me. He did lend me a tong-like thing, to wriggle what was left of the key out of the lock. The best I could do now, he said, was give up, leave it there, and buy something else from his shop.

Right. Thanks for that sir. Thanks a lot. You have taken away the one thing of value I own on this horrid planet and in turn, punished me for it. Who are you? God? (Actually I do like my laptop. 500 grammes of electrified goodness. Purr.)

If this blog will not do my stillborn comedy career any good, then please let it help me settle the score with an unnamed bike salesman somewhere in Brighton I'm too cowardly to mention.

Again, self-defeating logic there. Yet, if you do defeat yourself, then at least you've won. And lost. I'm confused.

Thanks to Ian, the guy I bought my bike from, way back in September, I could leave with my bicycle intact and not rained on for 4 months and rusted to easily-collectable pieces. He actually cut through the lock, making this the first time I'd even stolen a bike. My own, mind. I'd never stolen a bike before. Not even a Donald Duck-shaped Claxon from the steering wheel of some kid. I've never done anything illegal on a bike. And that makes me an even worse Dutchman than many of you are convinced I already am. I don't deserve my passport. Wilders*, extradite me, I'm not worthy.

I have now bought a new bike lock. The only one available. It's from the well-known brand. SHEmx (clever, huh), which defines itself as a brand: FOR OUTDOOR GIRLS. It's pink. It's very pink. And the plastic bits at the end are purple. The lady behind the counter didn't even ask if it was a present, she just looked at me, with eyes saying: you are not worthy of purchasing anything. And now you bring this before me? How dare you mock the noble world of commerce with your presence? Go away from here, and never return! "that'll be 99 p please. Thanks, have a nice day!" The lock will now hang from my bicycle, saying: Here ye! Here ye! This is ridden by a girl! He has failed to ride a bike in a man's way, now he will sit side-saddle! Which no human being has done since 1204! Mock him and fling at him your vegetables and sharp kitchenware! Burn the failure!"

No it wasn't a good day. It can only get better. But still,

The Failure-train to Loser city is stopping at my house. Not even as a stop, just because of technical difficulties. In other words: epic fail. And I blame St. Valentine. So there. Deal with it.

6. It's February!

Love you all, thanks for being an internet-emotion valve.

* For a quick and hopefully clear-headed view on how horrible The Netherlands have become over the last five years, check out This World on BBC Two today at 7. It's about Wilders, and this man and his voters are so repugnant that I wanted to hand in my Dutch passport and nationality straight away. But did I? No. That's the Dutch mentality as well.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Wednesday 9th February 2011: Mindless Self-indulgence


Just coming off the wagon. With that I mean, I'm not goint to be doing that many stand-up gigs in the next few weeks. With not that many I actually mean quite a lot, starting again on the 22nd of February. Then a few weeks of all-out giggery (and acting in a kick-ass production of quite a brilliant play, if I may say so). It's weird to have had a couple of days rest after two weeks of stand-up. It does take over your life a bit, and you (or I, at least) get a bit addicted to the sheer visceral higs of it. That's why, over the last couple of days, I've been a tad down. Ah well. If I forgot anyone, I'd like to thank them here, for two weeks of brilliant gigs. Please contact me if you liked them!

Last night I spent a night in, catching up on BBC Four I liked to be patronised in elaborate ways than just shiny lights and faux-aspiration, thank you. One of these programmes contained the least convincing noddy-shots of all time. It was the one about the British Novel, presented by a man looking like Phil Mitchell, who talked to a lady, a slight bit shorter than himself. As noddy-shots are usually shot after the interviewee has left, Phil had to look down onto the camera, raising his eyebrows unconvincingly and pulling a face like the baby Jesus had come down from on high, declaring him Uncle of the Lord. By which I mean he looked patronising, fearful and impressed while simultaneously bored. That also meant that he couldn't be Phil Mitchell, for these are far too many emotions for Soap Opera-viewers to stomach in one look. Sophie's Choice has nothing on this man.

You may notice I still harbour some resentment against Meryl Streep for ruining my coach journey to Brighton, a month ago. I don't care. Let her apologise to me first! And give me some of her money. To paraphrase a famous phrase and make it about me: t'was ever Dutch. If you didn´t get that one, you probably are Dutch.

The Dutch don´t think they´re thrifty. But they are.

You see, I´ve been having problems writing, and it's been going on for a number of years now. Mainly, because in my head, negation is far more important than validation. I've got quite a good critical faculty, when it comes to other people's work. But when it comes to my own work, the main word in my head is: No. Anything that I can come up with, I eventually lose faith in. In performance that can be solved by complicating the performance itself, so the notion stays fresh. But in writing, it's pretty solid. I can read essays I wrote no more than a year ago and I'm gobsmacked by their utter stupidity and am left with feelings of utter contempt I normally leave for members of the third reich, molluscs and viruses.

This genuine sense of hatred could be based on one of two things. One; I am an intellectual so am painfully aware of my own faults and lackings of knowledge and too much of a perfectionist to appreciate my own basically good ideas. Two; I am a dickhead. Now, either of these ideas would be valid, and the first is the most logical, so most realistic. Yet, my sympathies lie with number two. But I also think I'm a dickhead for proclaiming myself to be a dickhead without rime or reason. This would render me a multidimensional meta-dickhead, a thing to be feared and loved throughout the sweeps and chasms of the Universe, much like the Queen.

When rehearsing Stoppard, we often fall upon a meta-theatrical moment; and some of us have started doing the meta-dance. A woozy flurry of movement away from the stage into the dark realms of theory. But ultimately, without value. That's what I love about Stoppard.

I love him so much, I think his name should be a catch-all noun. Like Thingy. Or a swearword; 'Have you seen him tonight, all drunk to the gizzards on bluff-juice?' 'Yeah, what a total flipping Stoppard he is, isn't he?' 'What a Stoppard.' Or a catch-all word. Like Smurf. 'Have you Stopparded my Stoppard?' 'No, you're Stoppard has Stopparded my Stoppard.' 'Oh, you Stoppard!' (Everybody laughs).

You are probably aware that I'm now in the library, wasting time to write an essay and not wanting to commit to it. You are my procrastination. I'll never achieve anything and my hopes in both comedy and academia will die in the dust. And you'll stand there, laughing. You'll be the death of me. I bet you'd like that, wouldn't you?

Nah... I'm far too brilliant for that.

For more information, I direct you to the title of this piece.

P.S. Yesterday, a lecturer thought that it would be a good idea to, after my death, donate my full skeleton to the RSC for the role of Yorick. As a piece of wordplay that was a. funny, b. violent, or c. determining that I will only be successful after death, rendering me a genius by proxy. Haha, I am funny.

More loveliness to follow. If you have been. (L)