Friday, 31 July 2009

Edfringe promo video No 38274a

New from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, a brand new promo video for our Edinburgh show. Tickets going well, get stuck in baby.

Edinburgh Fringe Preview thoughts concluded

Last night saw the last of our Edinburgh Fringe Previews (for the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Goes To Hollywood, which begins at the Gilded Balloon on Weds Aug 5th, ie 5 days away). It took place at Widcombe Social Club in Bath and was organised by Owen, who I met at an earlier gig and who just suggested doing this off his own bat out of the goodness of his heart. He and his mate Joe are in a band called The Edsel Furies and runs a night called Fluffys, with eccentric acts in.

I was worried at first that we had no lighting or CD player, but the guys got that sorted and I rose to the challenge of the Socks performing under flourescents. It was okay, it worked. Our support was Gentlemans Relish, a one man and his guitar act which was pleasantly somewhere between Ivor Cutler and They Might Be Giants.

As for the content of our actual hour, well. One promising thing was that our hour ended up lasting an hour and a quarter. Which means, given that an Edinburgh Hour is only 55 minutes anyway, we have 20 minutes of chaff to cut away. There is still chaff left, and I'm worried that I'm opening the show with some of it, but some of the material is absolute killer and the audiences have all been full of praise at the end of the shows and, more importantly, forthcoming with laughter during it. Though they laugh more after the first quarter. Oh the boring navel-gazing of comedians, take no notice.

I went over my epic Preview season and gave each show a star rating last night:
1) London preview - cancelled due to organisation probs
2) Leicester preview - 4 stars, brilliant start, not all new material
3) Glasgow preview - cancelled by me cos I couldn't afford the return flight
4) Milton Keynes previe - 4 stars, tremendous. They love us there and make us think anything we do is comedy gold.
5) Bristol preview - 4 stars, excellent, biggest audience and they loved almost everything
6) Bedford preview - 3 stars, a blur, started an hour late, think it went well but too dizzy to remember
7) Gloucester preview - 2 stars, mid afternoon subdued crowd, chickened out and threw in material from touring show as new material wasn't strong enough for a tough crowd
8) Bath preview - 3 stars, went increasingly well but now worried about poorer material early in the hour.

So we've gone from feeling like it was perfect from the start to worrying that it's not all that good, all I can do is sort the stuff into the optimum order, mend the dodgier of the props (Obi Wan Kenobi's arm fell off last night, without getting a laugh, which is worse) and get stuck in next Wednesday. Thanks to all my audiences for sitting through the shows, and saying such nice things, which I can only believe you actually meant. Let's see if Edinburgh audiences, and Edinburgh reviewers, are as kind.

NB: Tickets are selling well in advance, well outstripping both previous years. But there are still 2 days where we've not sold a single ticket - Monday 10th and Monday 24th. I'm wondering whether the box office has some glitch in it and thinks we're taking days off?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

New flyer back

Fresh off the designing machine, the back of our 2009 flyer. Here's hoping it does the trick.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Gig delay hell traffic journey shock etc

It's 9 o'clock in the morning and I'm still durrling (there's only a Scots word for the sensation, it's not quite tingling, it's not quite shaking, it's buzzing in a bad way) after last night's travelling.

It was an Edinburgh Preview at the Corn Exchange in Bedford, the venue that gave us our best preview and our best review in the run up to the Fringe last year. The journey from my home near Bristol to Bedford take 2 hours 50 mins according to satnav. I've done it in less, in good traffic. Yesterday wasn't good traffic.

Yesterday was the first Friday of the school holidays for the majority of kids in the country. (Not, I realise, in Scotland where they broke up three weeks ago, or in posh school where they've had at least a week off, or in some criminally mental schools who will still be teaching next week. I think I'm working at one on Monday) So Sally Traffic on Radio 2 was full of news of blockages, stoppages, crashes and holdups. She mentioned three roads that caught my ear, the M25, the A34 and the M40. Best avoid those I thought.

Now you try navigating from Bristol to Bedford without using those three roads. Whichever road I ended up on, and yes I ended up on all three of the above despite my best endeavours, I found myself standing stock still.

Having set out at 3pm, with an ETA of 6pm, plenty of time to set up for my gig starting at 7.30, come 5.30 I was phoning from the ring road around Oxford to say I'd be late. Which is when I realised my phone batteries were about to die. I hadn't charged them up in a couple of days and they were on one blob as I set out. Knowing they were about to blink out for good I rang Hev to try and get the number of the venue, I rang the venue, it was only the box office, I could only leave voicemails. Then I asked Hev to send Facebook alerts to say I was running late, then the phone died.

When at 6.30 or so I got to a motorway services on the M40 I then had the greatest fun looking for a payphone. When did you last need a payphone? I don't think I've used one in nearly a decade. Suffice it to say they're thinner on the ground than they once were. Indeed there are signs for them in the services which then turn out to have no phones underneath them (in this place they'd been replaced by internet terminals). There was one payphone, in the foyer of the motel next door.

Blah blah blah, having set out at 3pm on a journey that should have lasted less than three hours, I finally got into Bedford at 8.30. 5 and a half hours, and my audience had been waiting for the Socks to start since 7.30.

And they waited. God bless em the audience was so big and so faithful they actually all hung around in the bar until I turned up, set up at lightning speed, and started performing at about 8.45

The show was a blur, props all over the place, the wrong CD in the CD player, no time to even breathe before we started. But I think it went well. They liked it, they laughed, I've made notes, parts of the new show are excellent, a couple need tweaking, and the brand new James Bond routine (rewritten since I did the first draft as a YouTube video) worked, it stays. And the Excorcist line, new killer. This is the boring chaff that fills the heads of comedians. I drove away with mental notes like "first good laugh Ooweeooweeoo, first belly laugh Michael Jackson, need to move the Australian" blah blah.

Then the drive home. Surely hitting the road at 10.30 I'd miss the rush hour? So it was that at 20 to midnight I found myself Twittering from my recharged phone, from a standing still traffic jam on the M25. Oy vey (there's not a Scots word for that, only Yiddish). I got home nearly 2.30. Nine hours driving, one hour's performing, not a moment to rest or collect my thoughts. Durrling, I am. Durrling.

Thanks again to the good people of Bedford for being a fabulous and patient audience, I hope they'll have me back (though I may have to promise to set off 9 hours before the gig just in case), and to the people who passed on the Facebook message from Hev. I believe Pat Monahan's sister contacted him and he spoke to the promoter. Oh and thanks Pat, for letting me delay the start of his gig from 9pm to 10pm, an almost unforgivable comedy crime for which I hope he'll almost forgive me.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Edinburgh Fringe Preview thoughts

Tonight we have our antepenultimate Edinburgh Fringe Preview show in Bedford. The next two are a matinee in front of kids in Gloucester (so the new sweary song will be missing), and finally an odd one in an unusual venue in Bath, so tonight's will be the last one where I can be sure of a big audience of adults in a theatre. I think we're almost there, with the running order of the show needing adjusting. I'll throw in more new stuff tonight (they'll get James Bond and, hopefully, Silent Movie for the first time) then we'll keep whittling it down and adding gags. But all this time I'm thinking we should have got this far months ago. Then I read Robin Ince on Twitter "off to do a preview at the Perseverance near Marylebone. Richard Herring has nearly finished writing his show making me look quite the idiot". So Herring has only "nearly" finished writing, and Ince isn't even that far on. I think that's reassuring.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Socks do James Bond

New from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre - Bond, James Bond. Just another bit of the mountain of material that will most likely end up rejected from THE SCOTTISH FALSETTO SOCK PUPPET THEATRE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, which opens in Edinburgh on August 5th.

Edinburgh Previews:
Fri July 24 Bedford 7.30
Tues July 28 Gloucester 2.30

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Edinburgh flyer art 2009

I've finally designed the flyer for our Edinburgh show. But only the front. Still no idea what to stick up our backside.

Promoting an Edinburgh Fringe show

On Chortle, a visiting act from New Zealand was looking to hire a publicist. My reply:

I would urge you to self-publicize, it really is the most effective way at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I'm a bit spoilt these days cos I'm at a venue with an excellent and fully-staffed publicity and marketing department, but I have found in the past that it is self promotion that gets you furthest.

If you have email and a phone, then you should by now have allready got your press release into the in tray of every media outlet covering the Fringe in the UK. If you haven't done that yet, do that now. They've started writing their Fringe coverage.

Once you're up there in Edinburgh the single most effective bit of promotion you can do is flyering, ie the hand-to-hand placing of bits of paper in peoples hands. This puts bums on seats better than any other method, and I have worked out in previous years that, on a good day, 300 flyers distributed can result in 30 bums on seats.

Good reviews are the other best promotional tool, and those can be hard. You'll need to chase every publication and website that gives reviews and make sure they come to your show. Then you need to do a good show, obviously. I have heard it said that reviewers are reluctant to come to Free Fringe and Free Festival shows, but I'm sure that is changing. Once you have a good review, you can attach it to your flyer or post it up outsie your venue and that can help attendance. Again, do it yourself and you can make sure it gets done.

On the other hand, I know of acts who have hired publicists and, because a publicist is usually working for a number of different acts, they've not got individual attention and the publicist has not been on their case. You also need to ask what a publicist can do for you. Obviously you want them to get you on TV, radio and in the papers. Yeah, you and 1000 other acts. I'm afraid that is going to be the hardest thing to pull off. They may be able to get reviewers into your venue, but you can do that yourself.

In short you've come over here at your own expense and effort, you've put a show together single handedly, and it's going to be you in the spotlight every night for an hour. You are possibly the only person who can do justice to the promotion of your show.

And trust me on the flyering.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Back In E.D.I.N. Braw - Scottish Falsetto Socks Fringe promo video

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre have recorded and released and brand new promotional video for their 2009 Edinburgh Fringe show, THE SCOTTISH FALSETTO SOCK PUPPET THEATRE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. And here it is -

Unlike most other acts it's actually recorded on the streets of actual Edinburgh (last week should you be interested).

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Fringe Previews continued

So, we had 7 preview shows lined up. A week's worth of shows to get it all right, which sounded too good to be true. Lo the first one got cancelled before we'd started.

It was a doorsplit, as many Edinburgh Previews are, run in a venue that doesn't run comedy the rest of the time and, by the sound of it, weren't ready to. So London was to do without a preview. The thing with Previews is that they come at a time of year when, previously, comedy clubs used to just close their doors and give up till September, it being nigh on impossible to get an audience indoors to watch comedy when it's warm and still daylight outside. This year more than most that looks like being a problem.

But our first actual preview went ahead, in the Looking Glass in Leicester, our familiar preview venue of the previous two years. And Leicester didn't disappoint, with a nice sized audience, helped out by friends and family (my Mum & Dad live in Leicestershire). So the only concern was the material, was it good enough? And I'll be honest, I chickened out and pussyfooted a bit, including reliable sketches from the touring show, including Halloween and Kraftwerk, to keep the audience onside. I also tried out two "Cross Channel" sketches: Sex & Politics which has been in the touring show but will be new to Edinburgh, and Superman, which was one "similar sketch" too far.

The material that got debuted in Leicester that looks like staying is Casablanca, Western and the brand new Sweary Song which was a total hit. Sockodile Dundee got some laughs, but not enough. Stuff that is defo going is Halloween and Kraftwerk, they've had their time. The musical sequence is still from the 08 show, and works well but maybe it has to go, just because.

Our second Preview was last night in Milton Keynes and it was brilliant. No Kraftwerk, no Halloween, it was all new (except for the musical sequence towards the end) and featured the world debut of Star Wars as our new finale. Yes, we have an end to the show. Also the Andy Warhol song, which got its laugh. But Sockodile Dundee doesn't quite fit because it's a monologue, so it need turning into a dialogue. And now I'm aware of all those films we don't mention. How to squeeze in Hitchcock, Spielberg, and all the other audience suggestions? We now work on that.

Tonight should have been a Preview in Glasgow, but I had to cancel it because, sadly, I can't afford it. So, the day and evening are devoted to making costumes & props, recording music, and thinking more about those bits of the show that need making perfect.

I realise this diary is of no interest to anyone but me, so thanks for ignoring it.

Edinburgh Previews

The Socks have started their Edinburgh Preview process, and it's more drawn out than any previous year.

The Preview tradition, which seems to have developed in the last decade, sees comedians setting themselves the challenge of coming up with a totally new show every year for the Edinburgh Fringe. They do this partly for their regular audience, partly to prove their versatility, part as a personal challenge, part to appease reviewers who demand a new show every year, and part to be eligible for the Edinburgh Comedy Award (formerly the Perrier Award).

In year one it was easy for us, we cobbled our best stuff together and just did it. We had 2 previews, one in Leicester and one in Bristol at the Hatchet. It went well, our expectations being low and the result surprising me as much as anyone else.

Year 2 we only had 3 previews, this time Leicester, Bristol and a show at the Bedford Fringe, and the show, made of all-new material save for the opening theme song, only really came into shape during the Edinburgh run. It was better than the previous year, sold more, got better reviews. Suddenly I got to thinking about how much better year 3 had to be, with the spotlight being on us.

So with Year 3 looming we lined up a record 7 Preview shows, and for the first time a them - The Socks Go To Hollywood. (to be continued)...

Friday, 10 July 2009

New comics by Comic Art Masterclass kids.

Below, Covers of comics produced by kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses, June/July 2009. Left to right: St Peters Marlborough, Danum School Doncaster, Larbert Library Stenhousemuir, Grangemouth Library, Denny Library, Collegiate High Blackpool, Backwell School Somerset, Shire Oak School Walsall.

Covers of comics produced by kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses, June/July 2009. Left to right: Clifton College Bristol, Collegiate High Blackpool, Don Valley High Doncaster, Windsor High Halesowen, Ruskin Juniors Swindon, St Peters Marlborough, Meadowbank Library Polmont, Gordano High Portishead.

Covers of comics produced by kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses, June/July 2009. Left to right: Clifton College Bristol, Bonnybridge Library, Woolwich Poly school London, Don Valley High Doncaster, Falkirk Library, Bo'ness Library, Slamannan Library Falkirk, Ruskin Juniors Swindon.

Glasgow Socks gig July 12 cancelled, sorry folks

Sorry Glasgow Socks fans, we've had to cancel this gig on Sunday July 12th, Edinburgh preview in Glasgow. I know people who were intending coming and we hate to let you down, but travel problems have made it impossible to do now.

Really sorry to do this at short notice, but take consolation that it was a free gig, so hopefully no-one's lost any money over it. And I hope Alan the promoter will still be my friend.

Love Kev & the Socks

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Sitcom Trials 10th Anniversary Season - now open for entries

Announcing The Sitcom Trials 10th Anniversary Season

Have we found the new Fawlty? The new Father Ted? The new Phoenix Nights? You decide. In The Sitcom Trials.

The best new comedy writers in the country are about to compete to create the next great situation comedy in The 10th Anniversary Season of The Sitcom Trials.

Thousands will enter, only one can win. Could it be you?

Anyone can send in a sitcom script, it costs nothing to enter. The shortlisted finalists will have their sitcoms staged at London's prestigious Leicester Square Theatre this autumn, with the audience and a panel of experts from the comedy industry voting on which, if any, deserves to be seen again. After the heats and the semi finals, the best new sitcom scripts in the country will go head to head in the grand final in December.

The winner of the last season of The Sitcom Trials, From Riga To Rotherham author Dean Hardman, has subsequently been commissioned by the BBC. And over the last decade, writers and artists who've competed in The Sitcom Trials have gone on to great success on TV and radio.

So, could you be the next great sitcom writer? Now's the chance to find out. The competition is open for entries now at

Will we find the new Brent? The new Bilko? The new Blackadder?
You decide.

THE SITCOM TRIALS - the Future of Sitcom, in your hands.

Deadline for entries Sept 6th 2009. Live shows begin Oct 19, Grand Final Dec 1st.
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