Thursday, 31 March 2011

A spoon? For face wash? (New Vlog Channel)

Welcome to the first of many future video blogs (vlogs, if you like to shorten things)! I'm not planning on writing my blog any less, I just want to try a new approach and see how things go. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Nothing Short of Genius.

Last night I went to the Quack Quack Comedy Club and what an amazing night of comedy it was, if not the best I have experienced in a long time. The overall calibre of the night was tremendous and was made extra special for me due to the mind blowing progression I was witnessing in some of the acts.

Rich Pullen was MC for the night and did a smashing job. Had he not mentioned half way through the night it was his first time as MC I would never have know, he pulled it off with effortless confidence and quality. The night was a good night for seeing regular acts try out new material. James Christopher brought out new and old material and even managed to make the lighting hilarious. He never ceases to entertain and it was obvious as one of the more experienced acts of the night that he knew exactly what was working and how to play with it. Last night was the first time I have seen Phil Harker (although I'm sure I have seen him somewhere before, just not sure where). He performed a very energetic set with my personal highlight being when he forgot a punchline and I helped him out despite never seeing him before. We highfived.

Phil Golder is a joy to watch time and again because every time I see him he has something new and he just seems to keep on getting better. He performed on the same night as my very first gig and lets just say if you were to compare the performance I saw that night to what I saw last night you would think he was a completely different person. The largest laugh out loud moments from his set were very simple ideas that were executed to great effect in a way I think only Phil would be able to pull off. Talking of people who could only pull their style of comedy off, Jack Gardner finished the night in a way only he can. He also presented me with a moment I have been longing for; the chance to stroke Betty Blue Eyes, well, almost. He is always one of my favourite acts to watch because you honestly never know what he is going to come out with next.

The stand out performance of the night actually blew me away and has placed this man as my current favourite new act in the North East. His name is Andy Clark and he basically represents my long lost comedy twin. One week before I did my very first comedy gig I went to see a new act night run by the Grinning Idiot, this is the night I talk about in my second ever blog post (The Start Begins Soon. June 2010). The man I talk about having a conversation with on the metro is Andy Clark. I saw his first gig 6 days before my first gig and I haven't seen him since. His performance last night was nothing short of genius and I made sure I told him this afterwards. There are few acts that can leave you with such an impression that when you think of one of their punch lines you start laughing again. He had the audience in uproar straight from the get go and never let down. At points I was still laughing at his previous joke to then start laughing at his next. When we were talking afterwards I told him that a common trait of new acts is to find a funny idea and develop that idea into a singular punchline but what Andy did was punch you in the face multiple times. I'm still smiling the day after.

He has done 10 gigs and every gig he tries out new material. Only 2 of last nights jokes were repeats from a previous gig. I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next and I cannot wait to see what he finally decides is his strongest 10 minutes. The entire night was nothing short of amazing. I do love this orange.

Note: The orange is not Andy. You know what I mean.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A learning experience in Redcar.

I did my first gig (#16) outside of Newcastle last night. Myself, George Zach, Nicola Mantalios-Lovett and Jack Gardner went to the lovely seaside resort of Redcar, it was magical! There was a late night street performance where a group of young male performers put a girl in a bin against her will. Cultural satire at it's best.

Did I have a great gig? No. Did I have a bad gig? No. So it was good? Yes, kind of. I exclaimed afterwards that I may have ballsed it up, which was untrue, it was fine, but I immediately regretted my performance. This was my 3rd time of performing first on a night, you would think by now that I would have learned that my material doesn't seem to work to a cold audience. They laughed in all the right places which is what made it a good gig, but there was no energy. The MC didn't warm the audience up as there were a lot of acts to fit in due to the night being two shows seemingly joined together. I found out five minutes before going on I was going first which sadly didn't give me enough time to consider my options. The problem I had was as soon as I stood on stage I knew what I was going to say wasn't going to sound right. The audience had no energy and hadn't laughed yet and as a result I had no energy either.

This would have been fine for most but I knew straight after that I could have done so much better. I immediately started to think of what I could have talked to the audience about instead of trying to force an anecdote about getting my hair cut. Fractions of my day have been spent improvising with them (which lead to some interesting material being written). I love improvising with an audience and I wish I had done it last night if only for a couple of minutes to get them going.

As the night went on the audience turned into a good supportive comedy crowd, a world away from the staring faces I was greeted with when I first walked on. I now perceive going first as a personal challenge, I intend to pull it off next time. I will leave the MC thinking 'Wow, I wish I had warmed them up like that'. It also gives me an excuse to just chat with the audience, which is something which might seem odd if you started doing that halfway through the night.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

If comedy were an orange...

Stand up comedy is like an orange, or maybe a tree, I think an onion is the classic vegetable to use for comparison, however I am going to go for an orange. You see as a viewer of comedy all you ever see is skin of the orange, whereas being a comedian you get to swim around in the juicy insides.
I'm currently making my way into the inside of comedy (past the skin, not quite pip territory). It's fascinating, I mean it's like a world of it's own that you don't appreciate until you take the skin off. I really fancy an orange. There are two distinct observation levels on the inside; that of your direct peers (non-professionals) and that of the experienced comedians (getting paid gigs or professional) and both are really interesting.

Seeing comedy on a regular basis allows you to witness the progression of your peers, seeing changes and refinements to their set almost weekly. There are 4 people who's set I know really well (if not word for word at parts thanks to seeing them more times than I can count) and being able to see how they keep improving is a fantastic thing to be a part of.

Seeing experienced comedians on a regular basis gives you the chance to see how their material actually works. I saw Simon Donald twice last week, doing the same set both times, but not the same, if you understand what I mean. I have seen him 4 times now and the little changes start to pop out at you. I also saw Kai Humphries last week and having seen him a hand full of times it was interesting to see how he altered his material based on the room. I have chatted to Kai a few times, he has a lot of good advice especially when it comes to writing material.

One person who I have met who is well inside the orange is Jason Cook. I sat with him briefly before a gig but the problem I had talking to him was all I wanted to talk about were the shows I have seen him do. I have been to see him every year at the fringe since we first came across him in Die Clatterschenkenfietermaus (minus The Fear, missed that year). I ended up not making conversation at all, thinking he would probably prefer not having an 'enthusiatic fan' asking him questions before a gig.

Doing the Edinburgh Fringe this year myself I imagine I will be seeing a lot more of all these people, not just as an audience member but as a friend in comedy. Someone needs to assault my face with a wet fish. Or an orange, whatever you have to hand.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Why Real Vampires Hate Twilight

So this is the first of many sketches to come!

Alongside my standup comedy I have been writing sketches to go on my You Tube channel as well. I have about a handful written so far and will be collaborating with the brightest new comedians, which I am very excited about. Standup is new to me whereas I have been doing sketch and improv comedy for years, it is a lot of fun working with other people. Filming the above video with my friend Laura was a right laugh, as you will see if you watch the outtakes (link at the end of the video).

If you would like to support my online sketch creations please subscribe to my channel (it's free! Click the subscribe button in the video or the button on the right of this page)
If you liked the video, 'Like' me on Facebook (again on the right of this page).
I have also created a Twitter! I never saw the point in it, but it's actually quite good for getting information. Follow me at @graham_oakes. I haven't said anything interesting yet but give me time.

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