A sunday afternoon – perfect for Comedy. With tickets for only a fiver it would have been rude to not go. I haven’t been to any other recordings of ‘Inside the Comedian’ since the one I blogged about earlier so I was well over-due a show. It was also going to be a ‘double header’ with the new show from the gang that brought you ‘Do The Right Thing’ – Bad Therapy.
This recording was also at The Phoenix in Caverdish Square. Nice and easy to get to.
I got there a little early to try to catch up on some blogging but as I approached the pub I bumped into @AndyMC, @NealP55 and @MrPLitchfield. I’d not met Paul before but I had seen him perform as part of The Trap during All Day Edinburgh.
We went inside and grabbed a drink. It wouldn’t be long until the doors opened and we headed downstairs. Front row seats were needed and luckily no-one was challenging us for our primo seating.
Unknown to me Paul was going to be starting the gig and we would be treated to some Erotic fiction by his character Sean Goldsworthy, one of Somersets leading writers of erotic fiction. I think I have seen Sean before, but I’m not sure…it felt like something I had seen before, especially when we had the choose-your-own-adventure-erotic-fiction. The audience were in stitches all the way through. The 2nd CYOAEF sounded excellent however somehow the page numbers got muddled and the story took an unexpected turn at the end!
A short interval David Reed took the stage and Inside the Comedian began.
It is a hard balance to make in having a ‘comedian interviewing comedian’ discussion without it being too much of just one big inside joke and I think David Reed does this perfectly. By aiming to be more Parkinson in his interview technique it helps to bring the humour and over-the-topness of some of these interviews. The guest this show was Marcus Bridgestock. I saw Marcus a year or so ago at his show downstairs at the Soho Theatre and really enjoyed his show. He managed to bring the kind of improv skills that Inside the Comedian really needs. There was plenty of ‘yes and-ing’ and that’s what this podcast needs. The 8 legs of government was a path Marcus gave himself to navigate and he did so with conviction. David did point out that the last one would be all we’d be able to remember, Law, but then he also mentioned Gastronomy…. and how the current government has forgotten this important pillar! The Podcast will be available soon so I wont ruin it at all for you.
After another interval Michael Legge took to the stage to introduce Bad Therapy. Michael, Margret and Danielle would be acting as a shirks to today’s patient – Doc Brown/Ben Smith. This was a new format for a podcast. Three people interviewing one person. The podcast was to be split into 3 parts where Doc Brown would be asked about his past, his presents and his future. Each section would be 15 minutes long and was sounded by an alarm to signal the end. In the final podcast maybe this will be tidied up however during this recording the 15 minute sections didn’t really mark the start/finish of past/present future. We had some interesting glimpes into the lives of all the people on the stage. People talked about actual therapy sessions – or even attempted ones in newsagents, hypnosis, and one of my favourite things – T25 volkswagen campervans!
The format of the show worked really well as an idea. Hopefully it will come across how enjoyable it was for everyone. The audience could tell the performers were having fun and along with his relaxed delivery, Doc Brown opened up and I certainly knew more about him at the end of the show than I did at the beginning.
When these are next being recorded, make sure you do get tickets.
I really enjoyed the comedy impro – Criminal – the other week and when both David Reed & Danielle Ward tweeted they were doing a double-header I had to book tickets. Only a fiver as well! Great value for money.
I’ve not been to The Pheonix since All Day Edinburgh last year. Last time I came for an individual gig was probably a Pappy’s or Do The Right Thing recording. Its a big venue but underground and no wifi, in case that matters to you. Its just up from Oxford Circus (or down from BBC Radio Theatre – if thats a better point of reference)
I arrived with moments to spare and bumped into a couple of my comedy chums. We managed to grab a table right in front of the stage and I look forward to the evening. One of my chums asked if the music playing was Manic Street Preachers but unfortunately my music knowledge is a bit pap so I wasn’t sure.
Danielle took to the stage and explained the show would be in two halves – she would present Spookywookycocktailhour and then there would be an interval and David would be Inside the Comedian during the 2nd half. She also said she’d made producer Ben play the Manics so my chum was right.
Spookywookycocktailhour was in 3 parts. There was a short play, followed by a sketch, then another short play. The rest of the cast joined the stage – Abigail Burgess & William Andrews.
Short play one involved the re-animation of a lady’s husband. As with all re-animation stories there was an unexpected twist with the recently revived that brought a level of mild peril to the proceedings. Abigail played the wife, William played the Doctor, Danielle the assistant and David played the husband and all were excellent!
The sketch was about twins. One of which was a grumpy french guy.
Short play two, Danielle explained, would be a farce. Who doesn’t like a farce? not me, I love the silliness of them! This play had a guest appearance by everyone’s stereotyped Northern Irish comedian, Michael Legge. It all revolved around an ‘end of life’ care home and a brothel. Who hasn’t made THAT mistake before?
The interval came and went with little fanfair. The 2nd half of the night would be Inside the Comedian. As an enjoyer of comedy podcasts and listened to well over 100 hours of comedians interviewing comedians, I did wonder how niche this would be. Chatting to one of my comedy chums, we weren’t sure if it was going to be a load of back-references to other podcasts/tropes that get repeated indefinately.
David took the stage and after a Parkinson-esque introduction to Michael Legge, the show started. David had a couple of sheets of pre-prepared questions/talking points but the star of this was Michael. Luckily his long career of Improv had him well protected and ready for the challenges that would be put his way. We heard about his Improv troop of 50 people, the Royal Variety performance, who he gets all his jokes from, and the interview ended on a bit of word association. David’s interview character worked really well and there were only a few times when he struggled to stay in character and failed to hold in the laughter caused by some of Michael’s replies. I am sure that there will be some smart editting by the team before this is released as a podcast however it just goes to show you should try to attend these shows in person.
there was a tiny interval and David was joined on stage by Tom Bell. I’ve not seen him before but we worked very well with David on stage. It started with learning about Tom’s time as a boat, the TV shows he’d work on, The Blind Panda comedy venue (in Hove, sadly no longer around) with its unique sunken stage at the bottom of a 90 foot hole with 5 seats at the very top, although one of the seats was on a ‘bungie jump’ type mechanism, Felicity Kendal (two very different sides to her) and ended with Tom reciting parts of the famous characters he has played.
The crowd went on an awesome journey for the night. The two episodes of ‘Inside The Comedian’ would be released as a podcast so you can enjoy them if you weren’t there. Danielle explained at the start of the night that her stuff is more just getting a recording of stuff for prosperity. There is a chance some might appear on Renaissance FM, but if it doesn’t then it will be released online at some point.
Like how the night started, at the end of the night I left as quickly as I arrived. I will get tickets to the next ‘Inside The Comedian’ and I wonder if it will develop further. Would people like something that lampoons the very thing that comedy fans spend months listening to? I was expecting to hear a choice direct quotes from other podcasts and I don’t know whether it was politeness, industry informal rules or it just not being the direction this show is going to take, that they didn’t appear.
I really hope it does make it as a podcast. Even 6 episode (3 nights of recording) would be great output. I do regret not chatting to Ben Walker at the end of the night as I really want to talk to him about how he got involved in the podcast recording business. Interesting to a small handful of people but as I’d be one of them, it wouldn’t be wasted on me.
See you next time, comedy fans. I leave you with some photos from Andy McHaffie. See if you can guess who was Michael Legge in his ‘disguise’!
I’ve been a massive fan of Karaoke Circus for years. Unfortunately my move to London coincided with them stopping doing it. 🙁 I’ve spent ages following the people who did it (Danielle Ward & Martin White) with hope of them doing some secret gigs but nothing ever came up. If you’ve not heard/seen Karaoke Circus before then I’ll update this blog with some that I’ve found on-line. In summary, They are Martin White on Keyboards, Danielle Ward on Bass, Foz Foster on lead guitar and David Reed on Drums. Comics then perform songs which are then judged by a panel.
In 2016, David Bowie died. This appeared to be the motivation for Danielle & Martin to get the band back together and arrange a special, one-off, BOWIEoke Circus. All money raised would go to charity and after a teaser or two on Twitter it was announced! couldn’t believe it. The opportunity was there to see the Karaoke Circus band back on stage doing only Bowie hits. I managed to get a pair of tickets before they sold out and this had to have been one of the most anticipated gigs for me ever, let alone just 2016.
Doors opened at 7pm and the show was to start at 7.30pm. We joined the queue at 7.20pm and there were at least 50 people in front of us.
Some people walked past and asked me what we were queuing for. “A David Bowie Themed Karaoke Fundraiser” was my reply but that didn’t seem to interest them. 10 minutes later the queue hadn’t moved. I just hoped that the band hadn’t started. Luckily I noticed a familiar face talking to the crowd. It was Martin White! Eventually he got to us and explained that the format of the show was that there would be one comic performing a song and then one member of the public would perform the next one and would we like to do one? There was a list of 7 songs and you could choose to put your name into the hat for any of them. I decided to go with ‘Under Pressure’ and that’s when Martin explained it would be a ‘blind date’ – a male and female member of the public would be picked at random to perform it. Martin left to go back inside and as slowly as the queue moved forwards, more people joined behind us.
Eventually we got inside where we were told that my man-bag was allowed in but we’d have to check my girlfriend’s handbag. This came a shock to both of us as I’ve never had to, or been with someone who had to, check in a handbag. I guess this was a good money maker for the Working Men’s Club as at £1 per item, the cloakroom was plenty full.
We walking into the hall around 7.50pm and luckily the show hadn’t started. After finding a good place to stand I headed to the bar and bought a couple of drinks before returning to our spot and getting ready for the show. Moments later the lights dimmed and Foz & The Baron appeared on stage with a banjo to welcome us to the show.
The rest of the band took to the stage and Martin introduced the first performance of the evening. This was a member of the public, Victoria Redfern who did a great version of ‘Rebel Rebel’. That got the crowd going and after she had finished singing she was then judged by the judging panel – Dan Tettsel, Dan Maier and The Baron and was followed by Michael Legge and Robin Ince with ‘The Man Who Stole The World’. Although they didn’t start it immediately as Michael decided we needed to all recite The Lord’s Prayer.
It was a great song to get the crowd going at the start. Whether people knew it more as a David Bowie hit or as a Nirvana Unplugged hit, I don’t know. But what I did know is that their performance was both true to Bowie, Cobain and themselves.
What followed was a surprise. The next member of the audience was announced and I couldn’t believe it. A friend of mine (well ‘Twiend’ – if that is such a word) is @johngalantini and it was his name read out! He made his way to the stage and belted out an amazing performance of Be My Wife.
Then we got to enjoy another comic with Colin Hoult. This was a very acceptable performance and the best the judges could do was Dan Tettsel with ‘Carpet Salesman on a Works Night Out’! The Baron confirmed what the crowd thought….that it was Brilliant!
The first section ended with Peter Serafinowicz doing some great Bowie impressions while performing Boys Keep Swinging. I don’t think anyone knew who any of the guests would be and seeing as in the last week he has been in the news loads with his Racist Donald Trump video, it was excellent to see him perform live.
Chatting with Martin in the queue for the gents he said Peter had been there during sound check and performed loads of the songs as Bowie….what a great guy!
The 2nd act started like the first. Another audience member performed – Alex Norris. A DJ set favourite of Let’s Dance got the crowd back into the mood and really kicked off this section.
The acts were coming thick and fast and what we saw next was Holly Burn. Martin introduced her and said we’d not be seeing her in character but as she walked onto the stage it became evident that this was not true! I have experienced Holly Burn at The Queens Head in Angel where I was the unfortunately audience member she picked on to dance with her on stage so I knew what to expect. Well I thought I did. UNIQUE would be the best word to describe it, and it certainly wasn’t a style anyone else would use that evening, that was for sure. A hasty jacket removal and throwing into the crowd caught a woman in the front row. Ooops!
A photo posted by Clare Nightingale (@drasticsturgeon) on
It was time for another comic and this one was a total surprise. Adam Buxton (The Adam & Joe Show/Bug/Etc) got up to the mic and after a brief introduction and telling people about the sad death of his own father over Christmas, he treated the audience to Kooks.
His performance did include a ‘Stephen’ (Just Coming) and a WozzaWozza for the fans. He did hang around and didn’t rush off somewhere else.
Two comics on the trot can only mean one thing, audience time. Martin took the mic and explained this would be the ‘Blind Date’ song with 2 members of the audience called up. The first name was ‘Kelly Jackson’ and as she made her way to the stage the next name was called out……’Twon’.
Ho-Lee-Fuck! I’m at Karaoke Circus (which I didn’t think would ever happen), the comics have been amazing and I’m getting the opportunity to perform in front of this crowd. I made my way to the stage not believing what was happening. The song was Under Pressure and I was hastily given some words. The time was a blur but it certainly was an experience I relished. Unfortunately the sound of wedding bells didn’t ring for me and Kelly but I think we gave the song our best shot and could rely on The Baron for some honest feedback….we were BRILLIANT!
p.s. ignore the fact it looks like we forgot the words. We didn’t, but the words we had written down were incomplete.
Making our way off stage we were replaced by Gary Le Strange (Waen Shepherd, Kate Darby, Stephen Evans and Phil Whelans). I think I was a hard act to follow but they did an acceptable job. Being judged by the Two Dans, I think they were unfairly cruel but The Baron moved the swing-o-meter back in the AMAZING direction!
A photo posted by Clare Nightingale (@drasticsturgeon) on
The second act ended with The Actor Kevin Eldon take to the stage and perform Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide. He appeared out of no-where and was apparently helping with the backing vocals on a number of the songs. It’s a slow Bowie song but rather than bring the audience down, it rallied them up and the sing-alongs helped drive the song through to the end and a welcome drink/toilet break for the audience. Martin gave us 15 minutes and everyone returned much quicker (baring a few of the brass section) than in the first break.
The third and final act began with another audience member – Alex Sievewright. He sang Changes. The audience were well lubricated and his performance, along with the band’s, really got us all going. First time I’ve seen someone play a bow-saw (or is it saw-bow) live.
With the crowd pumped the 1st comedian of the last act took the stage. Actor/Director/Comedian – Chris Addison!
Sporting a look that tip-toed the fine line between 70’s porn star and 80’s footballer he performed Diamond Dogs. Chris has been a regular on Karaoke Circus and as such he felt comfortable from the moment he said, “This aint Rock’n’Roll….this is Genocide!” to the last bar played. The Judging panel gave a mixed review with much being criticised not about the performance – much booing was done by the audience. Chris took it all well and the final view of The Baron put the bed any doubters…….BRILLIANT!
Another audience member took to the stage. This time it was Emily Webber singing ‘Life on Mars’. The audience got behind this entirely and it was mainly a sing-along between 300 people. As a collective it seemed like everyone was just thinking about the great man himself and what had brought everyone to this very place, at this exact time to not only celebrate his life, but to also raise money for two cancer charities – MacMillan and Cancer Research UK.
With the last audience song it was left to Martin to introduce the final act of the evening.
The final act of the night was introduced as Pappy’s. They appeared at the back of the room carrying what looked like a coffin that was about to be posted. You can see it in the video but as you can see the audience loved it and it looked like they loved it to. Sometimes I wonder if Karaoke Circus is just a coping mechanism to handle Pappy’s required level of nudity?
Pappys certainly didn’t let anyone down and those people who stayed until the end got to see special effects and a performance that had to be seen to be believed. The video above gives you an idea but really…being there is the only way to truly experience a Pappy’s Karaoke Circus performance.
As they left the stage I was thinking about what I’d just watched over the last 3 hours. How lucky I was to be there. Not just being there but sharing it with 300 people who will all have those same memories for ever. Will the Karaoke Circus gang reform again? It’s possible they might. If they ever do I’ll be there and I’ll bring everyone I know (both of them) to share an experience that is so much more than the sum of all its parts.
My biggest thanks to Martin, Danielle, David, Foz, and all the team behind Karaoke Circus. To all the comedians who performed and the audience members who went on stage and gave it their all. All the efforts of both performers, audience and all the team behind the Bowieoke Circus helped to raise over £3000 for two cancer charities. You have also given me a place in my mind I can go to that will remind me that the world isn’t shit all the time.