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.

 

 

SCOTLAND.MPEG

I’m pretty sure neither Sam or me had any real ideas when we made this. He just picked up a bat and started saying dumb shit. There’s maybe another couple things like this in the editing pipeline, as YouTube is a fan of quantity, not quality. I can not describe what this has done to me psychologically. I have started to feel patriotic in places where I felt no patriotism before. I can confidently say that I’m immune from the ‘500 miles’ effect having lived by Easter road for a couple years, but Glasvegas…a band I used to have such disdain for because they ruined a perfectly good slang term for Glasgow…I’ve been singing that ‘Daddy’s gone’ song for a couple days now and not ironically. I used to think they were just another overproduced band from the overpopulated indie scene of the mid 2000s, I even made fun of the sad nature of it being a daddy issues song. But now I’m listening to it and enjoying it, and even thinking that the guy did an amazing job on the production. The accent being super weegie doesn’t even scratch me, or make me cringe like so many ‘Scottish cringe’ red flags have done so before. What is happening to me? Just a couple months ago I was telling Scotland fans at the six nations how much Scotland never did for me, how much I wanted as a kid to leave and start again somewhere else, somewhere that wasn’t here. Now I’m listening to old Glasvegas songs and actually liking my home country? Be warned : this could be the end of my only shred of personality folks. Check back near New Years Day to see if I’ve got an opinion on the latest ‘Only an Excuse’.

THE CARSON BLAZKOWICZ SHOW (PILOT)

O, Carson what have we done to deserve such majestic fuckery? Let me present the pilot episode of ‘The Carson Blazkowicz Show’. This is our submission into ‘Test Card’, a talent scheme by the Edinburgh TV Festival. I chanced upon an advert at this otherwise dull careers festival and went to see the boys afterwords who agreed to film this with me. It was this, or a completely scripted show which i don’t think we could have done on a budget of nothing. The result is what you see here, a weird talk show using the format as a way to push forward surreal comedy sketches. However, doing this has given us a little insight on what direction to take it from here. I hope that you enjoy this programme, and that you think it’s a good idea for us to continue making them. Otherwise, i’ll have to go back to trying to making Harry Potter fanfiction come alive in front of the greenscreen.

MISTY BUSINESS

Misty Business is a documentary I made for University after they deemed my pitch for a doc about squatting in a Spanish hotel ‘so lame’. The title comes from Father John Misty, an artist who I have yet to ever listen to. But I always liked his name, and i thought it appropriate in the misty, empty place Scotland can be sometimes.

I’ve got to really thank all the people who appear in it, and Andy Donaldson (wecamefromwolves) who kept me company when i was cold and alone in Dundee filming at a bar i’d never been to before. Fun Fact : the barmaid at that place was the most unhelpful, unpleasant people I’ve tried to speak to in a bar. I was the only person in that whole bar, and she clearly didn’t like that she had to serve a customer and not chat with the chef for another 30 minutes about getting neck tattoos. Not that i have anything against neck tats…I just like getting served pints without getting sneered at.

Emily Atkinson who is a delightful singer also graciously let me film her soundcheck, which led to her becoming one of my favorite performers. I had seen her once before, but in the year that had passed she had significantly stepped her game up. It was mind-blowing, and now i’m a huge fan. You can find her stuff here.

I will be working on a follow up in the year to come, having already filmed a couple of interviews which would be perfect for it. I had to cut a lot of stuff out of this one for time constraints so it’d be good if i can get it to be around a half hour or so. I’ll get some people in it to totally trash the original doc.

A review of “Bandit Promotions – Blackmail lettering” at Studio 24

This was posted on a previous blog on 4/8/14, two years ago today.street finn

I actually spent TWO days exploring the local music scene, not through my own choice but through the coaxing of my friends. On Friday, an impromptu drinking session my friend dragged me out to Henry’s Cellar Bar down by Lothian road, where a promise of cheap entry was quashed after finding a new Belgian kid working the door. We went in only to find out the band had two songs left which pissed me off but the bar staff were sound enough so I kicked around and had a drink. The kid told me that what i’d paid would get me on to the club night later on, which i also went to but got so bored i left twice in the middle to get something to eat. I left first to get a greasy kebab from Samsun’s where i had not ventured for over a year. When i came back, Sandra told me I stunk of onions so i told her that’s just all i had. The night dragged it’s heels further, and i again found myself in limbo – not drunk enough to enjoy the tech house, yet i didn’t feel like another Red Stripe. I left again without telling anyone and found myself at Mcdonalds eating everything you can get there for £4.49.

The taxi home was expensive and depressing, as i wiped the special sauce off my mouth an intense shame spread from my stomach through my body. I couldn’t face my friends or the rain, It’d been a long but forgettable day. I think in the morning me and Sandra went for lunch, and the both of us being cheapskate bastards forwent any nice cafe meals or sandwiches and found ourselves at KFC. It was cheap, and it was chicken. I felt shame once again. Not for having the chain of my meals go from Kebab – Big Mac – Pulled Chicken, (Amelia Bayler would be proud!) but because i laughed and a bubble of snot came out my left nostril. Sandra was noticeably enraged and disgusted by my actions, i hope the old ladies sitting across from us weren’t too horrified at seeing pure bred bubble action.

We went to the museum out of boredom and when leaving received a call from my cousin telling me “I’m on my way, we’re doing something tonight right? We’re going to a gig now!” I hastily got my shit together, purchased a road beer and met him at my flat. My roommate came along when he said it was a Psycho-billy gig and off we went to Studio 24. On the way we looked at the “Legal graffiti wall” which looked beautiful. There was some lads there at the time signing off on a few pieces which we all were impressed with, and a motorbike popped a wheelie up the road as we walked into the tunnel. I kept telling my cousin “ooh this is the bad part of town” which he got angry at seeing as i’d never been to this side of the burgh.

The drummer of the band we were there to see came and gave us cheaper entry which was nice and gave us tickets with the band names on it, which is the only way i was able to remember any details of the gig whatsoever. I’m usually intimidated by most bouncers but these ones seemed real cheery and were just arguing about what Chinese food they wanted to order. As you walk in you see exactly what Studio 24 is attempting to go for as their ‘look’ inside the club. A dirty grimy punk club from the eighties, except it works. For whatever reason the fact you can’t see 4 feet in front of you in the hallway is quite appealing to me. I walked inside got what i pretty much expected from the crowd, a mixture of crusty punk mums and dads, barely legal scene kids and metalheads and definitely not legal emos and kids wearing badges and ties. I looked past the bar and it said “This is an over 14’s gig – only one drink is able to be purchased at a time.” Quite a good strategy for not selling underagers? But i doubt it works completely. I went to buy a Red Stripe but the bartender offered to give me it for a “low low price” if i gave him my hat to take a photo of, which i sucked up my pride and did. This hat in particular was the ‘SLUTS’ cap, which was perfect for blending in to this crowd of pink haired nosering flickin’ teens. He made a bearded guy wear it who didn’t look too happy about it.

The first band, ‘The Phlgem’ had a particularly good repertoire of old punk and new wave songs, but it was hard to tell if they had mixed in their original material. It’s probably better to announce when it is your own song when starting with 3 or 4 covers. They were Ok, the drummer was great, but the guitarist and bassist couldn’t really sing. They could certainly scream, which reminded me of the old days where i would proclaim “I’m not this band’s singer, i’m it’s shouter” in bands back home. The singing didn’t sound good. They even brought ‘Steve’s Cousin, Wee Hannah’ on to sing the chorus in one of their songs who looked so racked with nerves that her performance was all warbly. The notable thing about the band was their use of feedback. The guitarist fucked about with his cable and his guitar so much you didn’t really know if the feedback was intentional in creating a raw sound for the performance, or his guitar and amp were just plain broke. Either way, it’s probably OK to have shitty amounts of feedback swirl behind you if you’re trying to emulate punk.

We went out for a cigarette. Me and my roommate talked about the band and the atmosphere and decided we’d stay to see most of the gig. These teens not a lot younger than me came out and started whinging “Ugh it’s full of fuckin’ kids in there” and i would look at them and think, “you are kids.” This chubby guy with curly hair came out and started talking mosh pit tactics with his mates and then was left on his own. He said to us “Aw thank god am not the oldest person here anymore!” to which we cringed. He was near our age but probably not mentally.
He started to ask us if we were going to opium later for the after party, which we weren’t. He also asked us if we were going to go see a bunch of random thrash bands in the coming weeks, to which we declined. He had tapped out, and asked “What are you doing here then?” I shrugged and told him we knew the drummer, which we really didn’t. At this point the balder of the bouncers piped up and said to us “Steven there’s a drummer, aren’t you Steve?” to which we all said nothing, but smiled anyway to appease his awkward chat. Steve asked the other bouncer if he was gonna eat his rice.

The second band confirmed my feelings about the crowd, a lot of scene kids and punks who have being doing this since they WERE actively going to over 14’s gigs and having nothing else to do on a Saturday night. The band, Two Step Theatrics looked as though they had a bit of a following, and the “followers” started a mosh pit which resulted in an awkward circle in the middle of the room. If you didn’t want to participate in getting shirtless and smashing your peers to the ground, you had to stand aside.

The band were actually very talented, and had a decent amount of original material which we liked, and they had a fat guy singer which kinda relates to me when i see them, i always considered myself a fat guy singer. He had great stage presence and joked easily about their performance, and was able to switch into a smoother piano led track straight after asking to audience to form a “wall of death”. After the second song, he instigated a ‘wall of death’ which is separating both sides of the mosh pit and smashing them together to cause mayhem. The moshing which was led by the curly headed bro we met outside and a long haired greek guy wearing an extensive sleeve of anarchy badges. There was also a lone black kid who seemed to be really into it, it started to make me think that he was the only black kid in Edinburgh’s moshing scene. How lonely, maybe someday he’ll find another scene that’s way cooler, rather than hang out with metalheads who shove the girls they like into the circle. The sexual tension in some of these male to female encounters i saw was brutal. The desperate look on most guys faces and the longing glances from the blue haired snakebite girls, It reminded me of being a hopelessly in love teenager and only being in my early twenties, it also made me feel old.

The third act, was a girl singing one Jason Mraz song. I initially thought it would be a girl band after glimpsing her backstage but no, just one Mrazzy tune on the acoustic. Her name was Kayleigh Turnbull i think, depending on which girl is featured on the ticket. The girl had stage fright and looked away halfway thru the first verse so me and my roommate called her on(as well as a rowdy older crowd who sounded like pedophiles, shouting “come on Kayleigh, yeah. Kayleigh get it done girl”). She had the whole crowd cheering for her at the halfway point, even me, being sincere as i could be. It was quite funny seeing a nervous teenager coming on after a band that convinced the crowd to beat the shit out of each other, so out of place. But you don’t get to see those nerves often and that’s why she was my favourite, because of the connection she made with people. If it was a 16 year old nerve racked Peter Carson singing “I’m yours” i doubt they would have cared that much.

The last band played mostly covers and had an adept couple tunes, the main thing that stuck out about AMi was that their singer sounded very similar to the one from Wolfmother. They didn’t shy away from this, blasting out “Woman” for their opening song and closing with “Joker”. They had a great repore with each other, and nobody was trying to lord anything over anyone – they seemed to be old friends that were making good music together. We danced the most to their tunes, and cheered when they told the stagehands to fuck off cause they weren’t done yet. It was better than the previous two put together, and as the house lights turned on to kick us out at barely 10:30 i felt i’d got my money’s worth. The last band did have a lasting effect i suppose, as for the past few days after i listened to a Wolfmother album. You always forget these bands until you go out and get drunk and somebody convinces you to remember them.

All and all I kinda enjoyed the whole shebang. Sure i might have some differences or issues when it comes people active in the rock scene, where i have devolved into a guy who’ll listen to anything if it’s good. These people have their genres, they stick to em, and they enjoy it. What’s not to like? As we left i heard one of the pink haired girls on the phone asking to buy a pill off her mate, so at least these kids aren’t straight edge or nothin’, as long as they are taking casual drugs i feel that they might be an interesting crowd to revisit. I give the experience a on the spot rating – Three dyed heads out of 5.

But it doesn’t stop there, these adventures keep on going and going! My roommate was getting a lift with one of the bands so we made a swift exit with them. The night had just begun for me and we went off to find some other places to haunt, my roommate went to a deaf comedy jam – and i went to harass the Italians on Robertson’s Close who were going out somewhere close. I walked round the cowgate for a while until i met somebody to ask what the crack was, both girls were p.ring and only one had time to speak to me. Venturing south i met David and Gregor playing Jenga in the Monkey Cellar with two attractive weegies that lived in Dundee. We fucked about having a couple drinks before going to a party which took us a while to find, and full of quite drunk girls talking about somebody’s birthday and MDMA. I told a few people about the gig when my chat to the strangers ran out, which gave everyone (including myself) a chance to “laugh at somebody different!”There was a fair share of idiots there, including an Essex boy who appeared to be the stupidest person everyone had ever met. He wasn’t mean or a dick, he just wasn’t all there if you know what i mean. Without any booze i managed to tolerate everything till 6 in the morning, where i left to go to some other guys house…why didn’t i just go home there and then?

8am i walked into a Tesco i’d never seen before and bought a meal deal. Eating the whole thing on the walk i observed the colour of the sky and the attitude of the church goers. “Maybe i should go to church someday?” I thought. I always tell people i’m gonna. Just to tell the morally sound people they are doing a great job.
With my last breath i whispered “Christ..” as i slunk into my unmade bed, where i would sleep for a hundred years….