EDINBURGH FRINGE – GRAHAM DICKSON IS THE NARCISSIST

Graham Dickson is a talented performer, who has an abundance of charisma. He seems to be an actor capable of great range as well, as evidenced by some of the scenes in ‘The Narcissist.’ But this show was advertised as a comedy, and I did not laugh once.
It is obviously a labour of love, taking influence from pretentious and buffoonish thespians and works of Russian literature, but nothing ever really landed for me. It is a show that tries to do many things, but arguably never really accomplishes any of them. Part of the show takes the form of a farce, as Graham and his director Hamish argue about different approaches the show should take. It then starts to delve into character comedy, Graham playing a Russian man who self-absorbedly looks back throughout his life to give us a taste of his formative years. The lead character, Grigoriy Alexeivich Dhukov takes us on a journey through his life, detailing the life of shit that he’s led up to this point, the experiences that led up to him writing his magnum opus.
With the exception of two cringe inducing American characters that play on tired archetypes, the play mostly follows this Russian protagonist and Graham himself as he breaks character to bicker with the director. The main problem is that while a lot of the writing has the cadence of a joke that invites you to laugh, it’s not actually funny enough to force one out. The story is okay, it might even be pretty interesting if it wasn’t littered with jokes that make you want to crawl out of your skin and out the exit. The show jumps around pretty frantically and Graham does a good job with some of the physical comedy, but neither the characters nor the humor in ‘The Narcissist’ make any impact. It’s not mean or cruel enough to be truly narcissistic, instead it is a lame, ill-conceived concept. It presents itself as a vehicle for character comedy, but nothing about the characters or the writing is particularly amusing.

Last year I worked for a publication that did not publish negative reviews, so I haven’t written one in a while. It does pain me a little to write this, because while the guy although hasn’t written something I could connect with, the audience I was in there with did enjoy it. But still, there were times where the laughs felt forced from the people sitting next to me. I was impressed with Dickson’s acting ability, and he does have the potential to be a great comedic actor. The writing though, needs to be funnier all round. I was almost going to give it a second chance halfway through if they didn’t do a joke about everyone’s least favourite president, but near the climax they blew it with a joke that had no place in a show dealing with a 1930’s playwright. It might have been an out of character moment for Dickson, but it was still a cheap joke in final few minutes. I do wish Dickson all the best though – it’s hard to be objective when something really doesn’t connect with you on such a wide ranging art form such as comedy. I despise most improv troupes that I’ve ever seen on the festival because of each members need to outperform each other. I understand Dickson comes from an improv background and this does feel like a play that was scripted by a good improviser. Perhaps my fault with the show of is just the incompatibility with the styles of comedy we draw influence from.

✮✮✰✰✰

Graham Dickson is The Narcissist is on at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61) ​
20:10, Aug 17-27

EDINBURGH FRINGE – NEIL DELAMERE : BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE PENSIONER

I’m not usually a fan of crowd work at comedy gigs, because it’s a mixed bag. There can be too many loose ends and jokes that fall flat, wasting the precious time you have to make the audience like you and your material. However, Neil Delamere has mastered the art of crowd work to the point that it’s flawlessly woven into his fringe show. It’s not often that you’ll get someone that comes out to do the fringe that has so much fun joking with the audience, their actual fringe material becomes barely distinguishable amongst the improvisation.

The show is framed around a story about helping his father deliver meals on wheels to pensioners in Ireland, who at this point is an 82 year old man himself. Whilst telling us about the weirdos and ultra-religious people he delivers food to, he is able to jump around and go off on tangents without going on too long, without straying far from the structure of the show. He enjoys riffing on the audience’s reactions and their flustered answers to his questions, and because you can see his delight it makes the experience a lot more comfortable. He slides into this free-spirited approach on riffing by telling everyone not to be worried if he talks to them, “we’re only having the craic”. I can get behind this method, having spent too many nights cringing in the back of a comedy club when the comic chats up the audience.

Neil is your stereotypical fast talking Irishman, but it’s probably cause of his quick wit trying pushing out the jokes as fast he can. The jokes come so rapidly at some points I didn’t think I would be able to catch up with him. As the show goes on, Neil divulges more about his life in Ireland and about his childhood where the threat of the IRA could be quashed by getting your dad to join Al Qaeda. His main story about his delivery journey doesn’t seem to be anything more than a comedy vehicle, until in the end he ties it all together in a rewarding finale. It’s a performance that heavily relies on but also benefits from the use of improv, using it as a buffer to make his own jokes sound unbelievable. It’s also a show about getting older and dealing with how you cope with the inevitable – your parents getting too old to deliver meals to other old people.

Neil Delamere: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Pensioner is a great show because it doesn’t feel rigid at all. It’s a show that has the promise of something fresh and original each night along with his prepared fringe material. The guy is genuinely affable, but funny too – he’s not pandering to anyone, you can see that the act is what it is, a hysterical hour with a hilarious comedian.

★★★★✩

Neil Delamere is on at Gilded Balloon at the Museum (Venue 64)​, 21:00
Aug 11-14, 16-27

EDINBURGH FRINGE – BEST OF SCOTTISH COMEDY @ THE STAND 08/08

When it comes to the festival, I don’t get excited to see Scottish comics or most British ones. My eye usually wanders to the fresh stream of American comedians who are trying out their new hour before realising how unprofitable the fringe can really be. But as this year came around, I started to think this is a dangerous mindset to have. This year I’m trying to confront my own prejudices and snobbery towards comedians who perform in Scotland year round, by seeing as much home grown talent as I can.

The first place I could think to get a decent show that has good Scottish acts was at The Stand on York Place, which as Edinburgh’s most prominent comedy club has probably more integrity and common sense than most of the pop-up places at the festival. Being a variety show of sorts, ‘The Best of Scottish Comedy’ is an energising comedy show that works well because it emulates the comedy club circuit these comics have worked in for so many years. Unlike a lot of shows on the fringe which focus on a personality, a gimmick or promise of celebrity guests, BOSC is able to harness what is good about seeing Scottish comedy in a club without taking anything away from it.

The show is held in one of the stand’s festival venues, a full house that got right into it as soon as compere Ray Bradshaw hit the stage. He has an affable quality to him, something essential for a great compere. He was able to rip into the Americans, the loud drunk English and the reluctant Scots in his crowd work, without it sounding hammy or played out. When he even ripped on me, a reluctant ginger kid in the front row, he did it in such a good nature that I was surprised I liked him after it, considering how much self-loathing I feel after being chosen while working the crowd at a comedy gig. Ray was great and I’d like to see him again outside of the host role.

After Ray warmed up the audience, on came Fern Brady, a sharp tongued comedian who opened with a dig at braindead cabbies in Northern Ireland. Fern has the spark – she’s a talented performer who can take on darker material without sounding too cynical or losing laughs to offended gasps. Her jokes felt warm and kind of life affirming, even though they focused on the pros and cons of crushing her tiny boyfriend to death, or cooking eggs for a halfway house full of paedophiles. The levity of Fern’s act was definitely the highlight of the night, she never faltered to what was quite a mixed bag of an audience. She bit through the tuts and groans of the older audience members, telling them she wished she could cancel her fringe show because the 12pm slot is full of old cunts who can’t deal with the word labiaplasty. To be fair, I cringe just thinking about it.

Next up was Robin Grainger, who had a hard act to follow after Fern, but he still had a solid set. Whereas Fern saunters around the stage with the grace of a drunk stepmother, Robin has the manic energy of a kid that’s just done speed for the first time. His main bit deconstructed the pitfalls of releasing mental patients for a weekend, otherwise known as T in the Park. The glorious shamble of a festival, where he tried to perform comedy for a tent full of muddy people chewing their faces off and requesting ‘Wonderwall’. Robin’s strength was telling these weird, abstract stories and I got distracted because his jokes were so similar to my own stand-up material, forcing me to confront myself about why what I wrote wasn’t as good as his material.

The headliner for the night was Mark Nelson, who is best known from this year for making a video with his daughter about the 2017 general election. I had seen Mark before, maybe a year and half ago at the stand. He killed then, and he killed here too. His opening line about the anti-terrorism barriers on the royal mile set the irreverent tone for the rest of his set “As everyone knows, the nemesis of the terrorist is the street performer.” As he slowly sips on a pint he lays down his take on family life, where you don’t like your kids equally and you wish you could die in your sleep. His grumbles about getting on, your ballsack growing bigger and bigger don’t get tired quickly like it would for some comics, it was those down to earth observations about life that completely slayed the audience. I was sat at the front with my girlfriend who was crying with laughter at the start, and then proceed to not be able to breathe.

‘The Best of Scottish Comedy’ exceeded my expectations for Scottish comedians at the fringe this year and left me leaving with a strange, twanging feeling in my heart which I later realised was patriotic pride. As I left the gig and went home, I kept thinking about how damn good it was and how blinded I’ve been due to these insecurities about my own identity. Maybe one day I’ll be able to channel that self-loathing into something worthwhile, even comedy. I was a fool to look down on the broad spectrum of Scottish comedy, because there really is some true greatness in there.

 

 

NIGHTMARE CHALLENGE – EPISODE 1#

Nightmare Challenge is a podcast about things gave us nightmares and still do to this day. When I was a child, everything they showed me on television induced me into a state of paralysis, I couldn’t turn away because there was only 4 channels and only one with any kids telly on. To this day, I can’t stomach the body of work made by Ragdoll Productions. I’m sure you all have things that give you an unsettling feeling in the recesses of your damp, dank mind. Perhaps it was an episode of ‘Boy Meets World’ that just went TOO far? Or perhaps it was a game on the Amiga that everyone told you was ‘mega haunted’.

On this podcast we explore some of the things that made us want to piss our drawers with irrational fear. Surely these things were made with the consideration of their audience of weak children with developing minds, whose ability to draw fear from nothing is at maximum capacity. The mind of a child is a fragile, broken thing, and I don’t know what I would do if I had to go through it all again. Maybe read a book or something. This episode features our co-host Sam Mackeddie, whose own fears include morality tales from the 1930’s and everyone’s favorite ‘Roy Chubby Brown’, a man who on the surface appears to be offensive – but his jokes don’t make enough sense to offend anyone.

Fuck you, Theresa May

I think it might be pretty clear from this video that i don’t like Theresa May. I don’t, nor do i like any of the English Tories, but this was only meant to be a joke. I had this footage of the leaders of the political parties on a table football game, and started to think “oh i could do a short funny thing with these and then the punchline would be theresa may fucked up in calling this election” but as i started to write the song it started to get less silly and more angsty. I did a couple rewrites of the lyrics while sitting on the toilet, and that’s where i do my angriest writing. It turned out kind of funny to me, because she seems like such a laughable, fragile figure who also is a dangerous reactionary. The problem with conservatives is that their views on what the right thing to do for society or the country rarely hold up under the pressure of real life situations. I thought the dumbest thing she said in her campaign was about the terror attacks “Enough is enough.” I had this image of all these radicalised terrorists putting their guns and knives away and shrugging because this woman told them to. The reasons for terror attacks are not always clear, but to then blame something huge and free as the internet for the rise in attacks is ridiculous. The current government doesn’t understand the internet, it scares them. But if you were to schedule it like a drug, you’re only going to put everyone at further risk.

I can’t talk about them for too much because i just get angry. I was happy to see Corbyn finally given the praise he has always deserved and overcome the stabs in the back that the Blairites gave him. It’s why labour has made a comeback in Scotland, they don’t support Scottish labour, because they all seem like a bunch of entitled cunts that can’t be told ‘no’, it’s people like Corbyn they like, somebody who isn’t a stuffy little prick looking down at their constituents.

(Isn’t it weird though how specifically scottish labour are more unlikable than the regular brand? Why did it evolve like that? Just before the election nadia met a bunch of them using a conference room at work and they were treating people like they were on the caste system)

Tim Farron, who cares really. He brought Lib Dem back from the brink, and Clegg got ejected. They fucked up though. They really fucked it with that coalition.

Nicola Sturgeon, we love you. I mean, you’re the best. Whenever somebody criticizes the SNP, they are just mad jealous. I think.

The weird one in the bunch is Ruth Davidson, leader of Scottish Conservative. She always seemed like a walking paradox to me, proud LGBT, remain supporter, – is constantly getting these things dangled in front of her like keys. She doesn’t seem bad, but i still don’t get what to be a scottish conservative is about. It means you like the UK, sure. You don’t like independence, okay. But that was their entire platform this election – just “FUCK THE SNP”. I like the SNP, a lot. Sure they’re maybe a little slow on some things, but you can’t blame them, they’re Scottish. They’re just a bunch of dirty urchin children who grew into those suits.

Ruth Davidson doesn’t really have anything that annoys me, but i feel bad for her. It’s like she seems a little powerless through all this and you don’t really ever get to see what she cares about, why she got into it all. She’s the one tory that i still got sympathy for. but at the same time, i don’t understand how anyone can like the Tories without being an insufferable cunt. I’ve still to meet somebody that was conservative that wasn’t deeply unpleasant to be around.

Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Peter Carson Anymore

Not long ago, actor Peter Carson was at the top of his game, acting in multiple movie franchises and starring in his own TV show, but after a series of public outbursts painting him to be an outcast, the powers that be have been considering pulling the plug on his career in Hollywood. Best known for his starring role in ‘The Milkman’ and cult hit ‘Room 836’ Carson captivated audiences with his witty and emotional performances, but recently his career has hit a slump. Here at Bad Talk, we might have found out the answer.

YOUNG FILMMAKERS GLASGOW CALLING FOR ENTRIES IN BREXIT FILM PROJECT ‘NO FRAME IS AN ISLAND’

A group of filmmakers have put an open call out to young people across Scotland to get creative and make short films as a way to make their voices heard on Brexit.

Young Filmmakers Glasgow have launched ‘No Frame Is An Island’, a project that consists of 30 second short films submitted by anyone aged 13 to 30. The submitted films are required to have no cuts or editing, consisting of a response to Brexit and a chance for your voice to be heard.

Sean Mcinally, the founder of Young Filmmakers Glasgow feels that doing something creative is the perfect outlet to figure out your identity and help voice a person’s opinions clearly. “It really helps to create. I think when you go to create, or when you have to refine your identity into something like a 30 second short film, it’s forced out of you so it helps a lot.

Last year the collective debuted the First Act Film Festival at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, showcasing some of the best films made by young Scottish people.

“It was our first year, it was great. We went in with it with pretty high ambitions, we wanted to bring in a big guest and we ended up securing Iain Smith who produced Mad Max : Fury Road, and that film had just won 7 Oscars or something. He did a speech that was so inspirational, he had a lot of wisdom about the Scottish film industry.”

No Frame is an Island – Scottish Filmmakers are Reacting to Brexit from Young Filmmakers Glasgow on Vimeo.

This new project is similar to a film festival in that takes these homemade shorts to the big screen, adding a touch of cinematic flair.

“I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to do what we’re trying to do, there’s no better way to get young filmmakers making films than to promise them an audience of people that are gonna watch it, not just online. It’s a cinematic experience, it’s real people in a dark room, which I think is gold for a new filmmaker, especially today.”

This is new ground for the Young Filmmakers Glasgow, who haven’t curated their work with a political agenda in mind so far. “I think people are excited about it because I don’t think filmmakers have had a collective response or movement against Brexit yet, so we’re one of the first groups of filmmakers to tackle it as a whole.”

There is an assumption that most submissions will be from the remain camp, but they hope for the sake of the argument that they will be quite balanced. “Our group has always been very international, so we’ve got a strong European identity. The point is you don’t have to be Scottish, just based in Scotland, because Brexit affects everyone. I don’t think we’re gonna find out what we have until we bring the films together and get around to screening them but it’ll be exciting.”

Part of the group’s manifesto is anti-film school, disregarding the notion that you need to be a film graduate to make a film. ‘No Frame Is An Island’ is refreshing in it’s optimism that anybody can create a film, whether it’s been shot on a high priced film camera or somebody’s mobile phone. The group are hugely ambitious, one of their goals being the creation of Scotland’s first film studio. If they keep coming up with innovative ways to get people into film-making, they might just be the catalyst that Scottish film needs to become truly groundbreaking.

The closing date for submissions is January 31st 2017 and the screening will be held next month at the Gilmore Hill Centre, 9 University Ave, Glasgow on February 26th.

You can get involved with ‘No Frame Is an Island’ at the website youngfilmmakers.scot and check for updates on Facebook and Twitter.

THE MILKMAN – FIRST ANNIVERSARY

What? You didn’t see ‘The Milkman’? It’s one of the most revolutionary films in history! Recent history, of course. It’s been nearly a year since we set out to make Sam Mackeddie’s first short of 2016 – a series of short films that get worse and worse as the year goes on. However, with aid from Agent Sam Rose, Renaissance man Ray Syed, Playboy Matt Cameron, Primetime player Reetta Tihinen and Pete ‘Milkman’ Carson, there was enough competence from the hungover crew to complete this one and make it look all pretty and emotionally scarring. A year has passed and a lot has changed. We’ve all moved apartments, and lost each others phone numbers. I gained a lot of weight and got fat shamed on twitter. At least we have ‘The Milkman’ to remind us of a simpler time.

HARRY POTTER RETURNS! (RECUT)

Just one last thing before you go out for 2017. Harry Potter is back and bigger than ever, in his debut directors cut edition. That’s right, they’ve started the extended cuts, but only for specific films. This time it’s a new cut of the fourth film, arguably the first one to cut large chunks of the book out of the adaptation. With this latest edition, we will be able to bask in the original’s glory.

THE INTERVIEW WITH DAVIS DOCHERTY

Hello, and goodbye. The year is almost over,today being the only day of the year appropriate to say to someone “see you next year.” Isn’t it cheeky? next year is tomorrow! Other days, it sound so far away. Usually I get a bit soppy on new years but I don’t have any excuses to do that this year. Here’s a treat for you Hogmanay gay divorcees out there, a film about the exposure of a corrupt politicians. Riveting.