Don Moses Comedy & Magic Blog - A light hearted look at life, comedy and magic.

Archive for August, 2007

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

What else have you got?

Well, I hope by now, you have taken my advice and BOUGHT TICKETS to see some great theatre and stand up shows at the Edinburgh Festival 2007.  I really hope you haven’t just been hanging around the Royal Mile watching the FREE jugglers and pretending to put money into the mime’s hat (ignore what I said earlier about that – they  really don’t like it). Free shows are great, but remember, when something is free; it is generally free for a reason.  Today, I overheard someone say, as they left a venue, “I know it was free, but I still want some money back”.  I suppose they had a point after all, “time is money”.

Talking about getting money back, I was speaking with my friend who works at the Gilded Balloon, and she said that an audience member had seen the “Puppetry of the Penis” and had asked for their money back, claiming, wait for it……..he did not know it was going to be about THAT.  Now the flyer for POTP clearly states that it is the art of genital origami.  Even the financial times reviewed it, saying “does exactly what it says on the packet”.  And, as if more evidence was needed (which it is not): the poster outside the venue, shows; two Australian men, naked, apart from sunglasses, white socks and capes (see, I told you, capes are fashionable). 

Now, I am so heterosexual I have never been to this show, but I won’t let that fact, stop me explaining what I think the show is all about (other people have confirmed my assumptions).  What happens is, the two men bend and squeeze their genitals – this is where I am a bit unsure, as I don’t know, if they contort their own genitals or if there is a reciprocal arrangement going on – however it is fair to say, that cock and balls are being manipulated in the name of entertainment (this is Edinburgh, they may even be passing it off as Art as well – after all, they apparently title every display as if it were an exhibit, for example “bulldog from behind” and “mushroom cloud” (yes me too, the image is enough, I don’t need to see the show, I can picture it, thank you).  This makes me wonder, at what point into the performance, did the man think? “Hey wait a minute, this is not gentle origami”.

Anyway, I am aware that many of you aren’t going to the festival, this year (or probably any other year).  And that is a good choice – Scottish weather, millions of tourists, no hotel rooms, I can’t really blame you.  So why do performers turn up in their droves? Two words – Industry people (by that I mean TV people, reviewers and award judges).  This is the sole reason so many acts come to the festival for the whole month.  It is like a three dimensional “myspace” for comedians and acting types (if you are reading this in 2008, “myspace” was the fore runner of “facebook”). 

Some of the acts are the complete article, with lots to offer TV companies (and some are not).  By this I mean, you need a lot of strings to your bow (two bows would be even better).  Because one day you are going to be asked that dreaded question (which industry people like to ask after they have seen your act), the question being ………“So, what else have you got?”  These days, it is not enough just to be good at one thing.  For example, if you are a stand up comedian you should also be working on a script for a play and / or a book, sitcom or game format etc etc.

Now if you forgive me, I have to practice my “hamburger” and “windsurfer” (that last one must get easier with age).

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Tips stands for “to improve promptness”

Oh yes I was telling you about Edinburgh on a Sunday – not a good idea.
After parking, we met up and had Breakfast at Browns on George Street.  It was not great.  I am never sure what to do about tipping when the food is bad.  Tip actually stands for “to improve promptness” – I haven’t just made that up – that is where it comes from honestly.  Do I still tip?  After all, the waiter was excellent and Scottish (see I am not a racist).  But on the other hand, am I just encouraging the serving of slops so long as they are delivered with a smile (how hard can it be to smile?).  I am English, so tip very well indeed and then complain afterwards – you can’t get more English than that.

Anyway, I pick up a Fringe Brochure and find myself the very best place to sit in the sun.  This leads me on to your top tip for today: titled “tips for visitors to find the very best places to relax and chill even though you were warned about how busy it would be on a Sunday”.

Firstly, get off the Royal Mile you are not a tourist (oh you are).  I noticed that this year they have special wardens patrolling the Royal Mile making sure all the acts have permits (I suppose).  I think these wardens should also be given some sort of quality control powers as well.  I would like to hear the wardens say “sorry pal but that was just pesh” or tell a mime “I am going to have to arrest you, are you going to come quietly?”  By the way, mime statues love it when you go over and mime putting money in their hat.

So where do I recommend?  Well firstly, you could go to see TV people at the Pleasance Courtyard; sit at the picnic style benches, whilst fending off people trying to give you flyers.  On the subject of flyers, watch out for the two big giveaways of very bad shows, which are: when a flyer promises just a bit too much; for example, any show that suggests your life will never be the same again – yes it will – it will be exactly the same, only you will be £10 down on the deal and ruing the loss of one hour of your life.  Or, when the picture on the flyer looks like they are trying too hard to be funny and they have no reviews stapled to their flyers (even though it has been reviewed and it is the last week of the festival)– that is not good.

There are other places which have a really good feel and they are: the courtyard just outside the Udderbelly – it is the upside cow next to the Teviot (which is also popular).
If it is raining the Pleasance Dome has an indoor courtyard which is on different levels quite befitting of the acts in this venue – which can be good but some decidedly ropey – but then that is the whole festival I suppose.
The assembly rooms VIP lounge is very comfortable this year with sofas and chairs, ideal for that late drink at 3am.  Because that is what you need at that time……. “breakfast lager”.

Monday, August 13th, 2007

life is like driving a car

A word of warning: if you can avoid Edinburgh on a Sunday during the festival, do so.  We didn’t, my wife has a proper job and so she had arranged to meet up with some mutual friends and also to see Joyce Carol Oates at the Book Festival.  Yea, that is what I thought, Book Festival, glasses on chains, leather arm patches, Christmas jumper.  Sure, I did not have to wear them, but I wanted to fit in. 

We needed to be there early, however, the trains only have a Sunday service (no crap gag about vicars, please) and so they started much later than normal.  The train journey takes about one and a half hours and is very scenic indeed as it hugs the rugged coastline.  It is very relaxing; the car journey is very not relaxing and takes about two hours and forty minutes (with car parking problems at the end).  Don’t even get me started on that little “Basil and Sybil” exchange.

My wife decides to drive – I may have said “you arranged it, you drive” I can’t remember now, due to the lack of sleep from driving since Friday night.  After an hour, she is informed by the car that it needs petrol (it doesn’t, the computer dashboard display has simply dropped from 100 miles in the tank to 95 miles left).  This is woman speak for, “must get petrol NOW”.  A man would happily crawl along at 46 miles per hour with the display of 2 miles of petrol left, without panicking (nervous laughter is not panicking is it?).  Nobody tells a man when to address the fuel situation.

This made me think “life is like a car journey” – yes, you want to enjoy the journey but you have to keep checking to see how you are doing and watching out for any warning signals on the dashboard, as well as throwing an arm out to the back seats if you have kids. I get very philosophical at 8:36 on a Sunday morning.

So we pull into Morrisons at Berwick – it opens at 9am and it is 8:37 but I can see the lady already set up behind her counter.  After much to-ing and fro-ing between her Perspex window and the locked door, it appears I can’t have petrol.  She must have had a hangover (is Berwick Scotland or England? – a bit racist Don?).  I would have accepted a “computer can only deliver petrol after 9am” chirpy denial followed by a smile of sorryness (I think that might be apologetic smile).  What I got was, a lot of vague “can’t be arsed” pointing at doors which displayed opening times.  Not a great start.

Tomorrow I will tell you more about our day in Edinburgh, only I am starting to say things like, smile of sorryness, which must be a sign I need to catch up on sleep.  I can tell you, that on the way back we (I say we, I mean about 10 cars) were held up by a very bad driver going at a very inappropriate speed.  We (yes I can speak for the other cars -I can spot impatience) were furious with the guy.  However, when we overtook we felt a bit ashamed of ourselves as the man appeared to be (what ever is the politically correct word for) disturbed, which made us feel a bit sorry for him.  He was about 46 (about the same age as his speed) –  wait a minute, I have just thought, he had better not have been trying to save petrol and his only justification for his slow driving was pretending to be a bit mental as people overtook him.

Anyway, I will definitely take the train midweek.

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Is it ever acceptable to wear a cape?

Well, did you look up “Barry Ryan – Eloise” on “youtube”? And do you think the cape will ever come back as a fashion item? Everything these days is retro, so why not? I reckon, that if “they”* found the video of the cape wearing Elvis and released that video along with the Eloise video, then people would start wearing capes. Who knows, it may even encourage people to ride horses while wearing their capes; that has got to be good for the environment.

It is strange that nowadays if someone doesn’t understand my “seasoned with age” thoughts, I can simply show them exactly what I am talking about by using the internet. What I mean is, years ago, we used to pass on knowledge to the next generation by sitting them down and telling them about the past. This worked, mainly because the children had attention spans and did not have Wii to distract them. However, today, if somebody hasn’t your vision of a particular memory, you can implant it into their brain in a “Tom Cruise Minority Report” kind of way, simply by saying “click here” on youtube to see what I used to watch when I was a kid. So now we have the ability to bring everyone upto speed, making sure the next generation’s heads, are as full as mine with useless information: you can’t tell me that isn’t progress.

Oh, I will remember anything, really, facts like, in 1977 there were 450 Elvis impersonators in the world, in the year 2007 there are over 200,000 of them and if this trend continues by the year 2057 one in four of us will be an Elvis tribute (I strongly advise buying shares in cape manufacturing firms).

Talking again of Elvis, the question“which Elvis did you like?” is almost as perennial as the James Bond preference one. There was of course the holiday camp blazered Elvis (only shown above the waist) or the very pretty, all black leathered, Elvis – which after Sharleen Spiteri did that video, is just too confusing to watch. No, in my opinion, it has to be the “pork chop” side burned, towel wiping, karate inspired 70’s Elvis. I mean, what could be more manly than a white sequinned jump suit – no sexual ambiguity confusion there surely?

It is coming up to exactly 30 years since Elvis died at the (kind to his memory) age of 42. 95% * of Elvis’ appeal has to be his, looking like, he was really enjoying himself entertaining those people. Charisma is impossible to break down – it is all the little things added up I suppose; the way he joked with the band, his eyes disappearing when he smiled etc (I am not gay by the way).

There are plenty of people (and comedians) who have made “ageist” fun of the fact that they would not like to see Elvis at 72. But to me, it should never be about age. No, it is about the performer still wanting to do it; and that life force can transcends age. Ok, he might have to pass the microphone over to his younger backing singer to hit that final difficult note but as long as he was enjoying himself and he was throwing in a few karate moves, we’d all be happy wouldn’t we? I could be wrong of course.

*Have you noticed I say “they” a lot? Who are they? They say they can put a man on Mars etc – who the hell are they? No wonder there are so many conspiracy theories around.

*arbitrary percentage made up on the spot

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

youtube search – “Eloise – Barry Ryan”

I was working the other night on the same bill as a band: one member of this band had been responsible for that “dance remix”, of the 1977 song “Thunder in my heart”, that was so popular last year. I told him I loved that record (leaving it up to him to decide whether I actually liked his little version or the original masterpiece by the great Leo Sayer).  Most of these recordings where “they” lazily choose a classic song and then, talk over the top of it, are, how can I say this? – Oh yes, shit.  I mean, my dad used to talk over “Top of the Pops” when I was trying to record it with my microphone and spool to spool, but I never thought “I must release this as a single”.

Anyway it turns out he was a very nice guy and not just because he really enjoyed my performance.  We talked in the one changing room (to be used by both sexes, it did have a sink, mirror and seat so I wasn’t complaining).  As we were ushered out of this laughable green room by the female member of the band wanting to get changed (yes, we could have just looked the other way, that is what I thought) we talked about music.  I told him of my love of the classics from the 1960’s and 70’s: for example: Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell and Barbara Streisand (oh yes, I was bullied).

I told him I also love records which have great introductions, for example, “Thunder in my heart” (he was probably still undecided which version I meant).  Yes, I love a song which starts with a massive, completely over the top, intro and then, actually has the audacity to deliver.  Records like the “Rocky theme (Gonna fly now) and *Eloise by Barry Ryan (and to a lesser extent) Macarthur Park, open brackets, someone left the cake out in the rain, close brackets (it is actually just, “Macarthur Park” but I know you like doing a Jimmy Saville impression).  And talking of impressions, don’t even get me started on the fantastic “The wonder of you” by Elvis.

Imagine being out in the fresh air, running up concrete steps with the backdrop of an industrial wasteland, listening to the Rocky theme or Eloise by Barry Ryan (there is a slow bit in the middle – perfect for getting your breath back, if you are not that fit).  Although, I wouldn’t recommend Macarthur Park, as you would probably just sit on the steps sobbing.
I can’t wait for Channel Four to make another one of those “talking head” shows (that is the industry name for that genre of programme).  It would have to be titled something like “The Top 100 “over the top” records which make you either cry or feel ridiculously optimistic”.  I will probably get asked to say something witty like “if only Richard Harris had an A4 folder to keep his recipes in, he could have made the cake again” or maybe not.
Now you will have to forgive me, I am off to buy some new trainers.

*If you are very young and don’t get these references – put the following words in the search box of youtube

“Barry Ryan – Eloise” – and watch the 4 minute and 40 second clip and then, tell me how that is the best record you have ever heard.  The video doesn’t even need the Peter Kay treatment.  It is all there already, the Austin Powers’ hair and shirt – hellfire, he even has a horse and a cape, what are you waiting for?

Also to see Elvis do his karate moves, search “Polk Salad Annie – Elvis”: And if you feel like a cry, how about the “Rocky theme” and “The wonder of you – Elvis”.  You will thank me.

Friday, August 10th, 2007

The King

You know life can’t be that tough if your first thought in the morning is “I must change the Cds in the car”.  There is nothing worse (really Don? Nothing worse, are you sure?) than being locked into an nine hour round trip and you have forgotten to remove other people’s music from your car’s changer – I don’t own an ipod – two reasons – I am over the age of 15 (seems to be my excuse for everything) and I also have an attention span which allows me to commit to a full album (probably Elvis) without flicking around.

My travelling time for my gigs over the weekend is eight hours – it is spread out, so not a problem, it should be a piece of cake.  That reminds me I should really pack some food.  This is not because I don’t want to pay motorway services’ prices, far from it actually, if they are going to provide me with award winning toilets the least I can do is patronise them – when I say patronise obviously I mean, to be a regular customer, I don’t mean I say “oh these sandwiches are so cheap how do you manage it and with so little salt, no I mean it you are really really great”.

No the reason is when you get to a gig (we say gig it makes us feel like we are in a band) you are never sure how much the client values you.  This can vary greatly from dinner at the top table and the client saying “let me help you with your things, just say if you need anything won’t you?”-  right down to, “Who?”   “Dave, (shouts louder) DAVE, did we book a musician? Sorry a magician? A magician Dave?”  “Dave wants to know are you going to make him disappear“.  I wonder if the Mafia get that too.  Also, set up areas vary, from best boardroom down to “couldn’t swing a mouse with a very short tail” broom cupboard, and this is the one I like, the wait for it….….“disabled toilet if I want to use that?”   this always reminds of the long rambling joke that ends in the punch line “what and get out of show business?”

Anyway back to the important stuff.  Yes definitely some Queen – there is one track which always makes me smile it goes “Don’t stop me now” – I think it might be called “Don’t stop me now”.  The sign of a great performer is the ability to work on two levels – by that I mean as soon as you hear the song you smile A. because it is great music and B. because the passage of time has made the actual live performance (how can I say this) well quite funny.  Yes it is impossible to watch Freddie Mercury or the later years Elvis doing his Karate moves (come on I mean who would do that in public?) without smiling to the point of nearly laughing.   That reminds me I will put some Elvis in, what with the anniversary coming up.  Yes I do have music from this Century actually, cheeky.

Right, so music is sorted , Sat Nav programmed (fingers crossed on that one), food check, shirts ironed check, white sequinned jump suit check.

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Top tips for Edinburgh

I am still not up at the festival yet -but will be very shortly.  So I thought I would give you a list of ideas for surviving the festival.  I hope the list is excellent so it helps you (with possibly your first festival, who knows?) and also reminds me of my travel and packing arrangements .  However, as this is my blog I will be simply verbalising all my thoughts like an excitable 8 year old.  So what I am saying is, I have no idea if the tips will be any good or how many they will be.  This is now my 20th blog and quite frankly I have stopped agonising over my incorrect use of the semi colon, hellfire man, can’t you see I am working against the clock.

Anyway here there are:

Try to blag VIP tickets for the lounges so you can rub shoulders with the stars.  Oh yes stars love  their shoulders being rubbed , although Nicholas Parsons hates having his chin tickled.
Always carry water – Edinburgh is very dehydrating – it must be all that sunshine.
Forget style – take your most comfortable shoes for walking – you will thank me.  You can get taxis (and there are many) but if you have a good map and/or know the short cuts it is actually quicker to get where you need to be walking.  Don’t forget Edinburgh works on two levels  – I mean exactly that – and not that kids laugh at different parts to adults.
I don’t know whether they will be there this year, but in past years there have been a group of incredibly fit and stupidly optimistic “pedal rickshaw” cyclists.  That is right, you and your loved one (or wife) sit in the back and this beefcake pedals you up the hills.  I don’t think they were there last year, maybe the novelty has worn off.  I often think people pursue a business simply because they come up with a great name for that business – I am almost sure that is what happened with wait for it……. “chariots of hire” – fabulous isn’t it?
Why do you want to climb Arthur’s Seat? Edinburgh not hilly enough for you?
Take a very light weight rucksack – you don’t have to wear it back to front this isn’t London.  In it, place clothing for all four seasons – the weather can snap as quickly as Nicholas Parsons having his chin tickled.  If you are a Geordie ignore that last tip – one tee shirt is fine.
Try something you wouldn’t normally do  (Good advice for Edinburgh  maybe not so good advice in Amsterdam).
Book your show tickets in good time.
Accommodation is the big problem in town – this year I doubt (even if you wanted to stay at the prestigious hotels and had spare arms and legs to throw at the problem of cost) you would get a room.  Guest houses further out should be ok but best to book early.
Pace yourself.

This blog took 37 minutes I think this is a personal best – unless I faff around and tidy it up – damn this O.C.D.

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

A Clunky Novel

Well first of all thank you, if you did read yesterday’s “catch up” bit of nonsense.  The title was “Nothing” (a big clue there, I think) so I assume your expectations of a great blog were fairly low anyway.  You may have guessed from yesterday that I am not a fan of Eastenders – if you watch such shows, what are you doing with your life? – it is bad enough you are reading this.  No, you should be outside playing sport in the fresh air or at least bowling on your new Wii with the patio door open.

You are probably wondering if this daily blog is helping me in anyway come up with new material for my act.  Oh by the way, I will get around to reading your emails and posting them on the blog page – I just have to find out how to do that (I will probably do it tonight after Corrie – argh got you).  So is the blog helping, or is it, my best ever excuse for not exercising early in the morning?  Well, it does make me look at life, in order to come up with something to say in the blog .  So I am constantly more aware of the minutiae of life – that’s right, the insignificant things which are quite rightly overlooked by normal people with jobs.

Let me see if I can give you an example.  The other day I noticed a sign on the A19 which read “tractors slow down”.   I thought, don’t tell them that – I think that is what is holding us up now.  I would not use it as material, but it is making me think a different way (yes a life threateningly different way I grant you).  A bit like the sign “slow children ahead” outside a special school (rub it in why don’t you)*.  I also play around with ideas which are so politically incorrect I could never use – such as: 1977 lots of bullying – only one fat kid in the class,  the year 2007 no bullying etc

I am even starting to notice good things (which probably have no comedy value at all).  For example, I was in the Woodall services’ toilets – they were incredibly clean and they had a plethora of hand driers (the powerful type, not like the “need a towel after 3 minutes of drying” pathetic ones) .  They have only won an award – they had an “Egon Ronay style” certificate stating “Loo of the Year”, then in small print – valid until 31st December 2006.  They had not slipped in their standards as I assume they did not want to be beaten by that Tibshelf bunch and were striving to be on the “Roll of honour” for 2007 (like I said probably no comedy value at all).

These blogs take me one hour to do – they are always over 500 words.  If there are any English Teachers out there, without showing you the maths here (you will just have to believe me) it would take a year to write a novel.  Ok, so my novel would be reviewed as very clunky unless I was able to pull together 365 story endings in a “pulp fiction” coming together kind of a way (that isn’t going to happen by the way).   But it is food for thought for you, unless you are too busy watching Eastenders.

*credit to Jimmy Carr

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Nothing

I have to be honest with you, I am writing this on the Thursday as I am now well behind with the “daily blog“.  Anyway, I am doing my best to catch up – I am just going to have to write everything that is in my head now.  Surely not the stuff about the hot one from the Pussy Cat Dolls and Danni Minogue – yes Don you need the word count. 

This is ridiculous, there must be a quicker way – like speaking into a tape recorder then typing it out.  That is right, I do have a digital camera with a setting for voice record and audio playback (oh yes, I read every page of that instructional manual – God I do have a woman’s brain, what is happening to me?).  So here goes – well as soon as I have charged up the batteries – so in two hours time I will be flying through the blogs like something which flies superbly (oh I haven’t time to think of an analogy and just look at the extra words I am getting by being a bit thick).

Ok the batteries are charged and I’ve recorded today’s blog and I am ready to go, pause button off
 - Well I had told you that Sunday was my day off so maybe I should tell you what I did.  (pause) Yes that would be good (cough).  I am aware I don’t actually have to write down everything I have on the audio playback but just explaining that, has given me extra words (who is the idiot now – you are still reading this aren’t you?).

I had wanted to relax in our manageable garden – I think that is how the estate agent had described our very small garden.  You couldn’t play tennis in it but you may be able to play swing ball if you shortened the string and did not mind grazing the fence occasionally.  As I said I would have liked to have relaxed in the sun (what with the summer now officially underway) and catch up on my sleep.  As I have mentioned, I love to travel and to perform.  The performance side is never tiring as there is no limit to my crowd pleasing idiocy, however, the travelling is unbelievably tiring and those Eastern  European waitresses aren’t going to flirt with themselves (stop trying to picture that, Really!).

Anyway on Sunday we decided to get some exercise – I was told I needed some.  So we went off on our bikes, cross country.  We stopped to take in the view.  It was a clear day and you could see all the way down to the Yorkshire coast and all the way up to Northumberland’s great beaches.  It was like the aerial shots you get on the BBC programme “Coast” (I like such programmes and happy the BBC spend my money on them – I will even watch Griff Rhys Jones climb mountains for no reason – much better than the miserable sarcasm driven conversations in Eastenders with its non-aspirational / advertising teenage pregnancies, plot lines).  I don’t think non-aspirational is a word – I get bitter and really bad at grammar when I am trying to catch up these blogs.

So there I was trying my best to recover from tiredness and getting lots of exercise – excellent training for Edinburgh next week.

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Stags

Yesterday was Sunday and I decided to have a day off.  I had got back from my weekend in Birmingham at 2:30am on Sunday morning.  It would have been earlier, only I was held up in the city centre.  It was a very interesting traffic jam as it went through the party area of Birmingham. Chairs and tables were out on the street in a café culture type of way (not because there was a fight inside). 

I do like to see people enjoying themselves.  There was a group of “Hens” blowing whistles and wearing pink cowboy hats.  Some of the ladies looked like the ones in that awful Eastenders’ advert on the BBC.   Surely, these ladies didn’t just look at this tawdry trailer for the flagging soap and say “that is good enough for us – we shall all go dressed as Cockney Slappers”.  Come on girls make some effort, last month I was in Newquay and the “groom to be” had been made to carry a 10 foot inflatable cock (with quite impressive detailing down the side) around with him. I laughed as the bouncers let the stag party in, however they insisted the massive synthetic member must stay outside the club. I overheard one of the Stags say “What if someone steals it?” He hadn’t really thought that one through.

Talking of Stags, I feel honoured to have been asked to go on an extended Stag weekend in Magaluf for my very good friend Michael Murray (a top bloke and great inventor of magic effects). I can’t go unfortunately, as I have bookings I can’t get out of – shame really as I was hoping to convert them all to radio 4 and vegetarian restaurants. They are all going dressed as Superheros – probably best I don’t go, as the last time I pretended to have powers that I didn’t really have, it did not work out so well (see mugging anniversary blog).

In my time I have witnessed the evolution of “The Stag”.  In 1975 the groom would have two drinks the night before his wedding day (three drinks if he was marrying the wrong woman).  However by 1977 it was de rigueur to get absolutely hammered. This behaviour did not even achieve £250 for the groom when he collapsed at the altar (video cameras were still to be financially viable).  In 1979 a law was introduced stating all stag parties must take place at least one week before the wedding day.  Again this did not last long – many wedding photos from the early 80’s were ruined due to black eyes and bandages (not to mention the hairstyles and Magnum* moustaches) and in 1982 talk of broken hands changed the way we planned stag nights forever. Now the Stag weekend or week should take place at least one month before – thus allowing for “fight with the best man” injuries to heal.  Some settle for three months before the wedding, as some “Nee body spills my pint” injuries can take longer to repair. In 1999 the law clearly stated Amsterdam or Europe and must involve at least two generations of Stags. This is quite obviously disturbing and wrong.

*Tom Selleck not the ice cream

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

CSI

Coffee again in a flask by my bedside – my wife must be planning something.  By the way it is not really Saturday morning.  I have a busy weekend coming up and won’t have time to write on Saturday so here I am writing in bed on Friday morning.

I am gigging down in Birmingham over the weekend and setting off shortly, today which is Friday, honestly.  Look I will post the blog just after midnight tonight, if that helps you.

One of the venues in Birmingham is new to me so I am hoping the Tom Tom (Sat Nav) is on form.  I must redo (the correct term is probably upgrade or something like download, I should really have done an IT course by now) its memory to stop it getting confused on that new stretch of the A1M.  For about 10 miles or so it just starts making up directions I can’t possibly take.  I shouldn’t complain as it is still a fabulous invention – in fact so good it is the only thing I remember from watching “Tomorrow’s World”, well that, and the old Sinclair C5 (amazingly that never caught on – we wouldn’t be talking about global warming now if we had all just sold our dignity and simply bought into Sir Clive’s vision of the future, would we? – No we all decided to be cool and have proper cars – we are such idiots).

Anyway, this job is so much easier now with the Sat Nav (although probably more time consuming if I were in a C5).  I love maps don’t get me wrong I could look at them all day – I just can’t follow them without wanting to walk my body around 180 degrees to even try to understand them.  It is no wonder my IQ score is well below genius level, it was the space awareness shapes that let me down (that is my story anyway).  I am also beginning to think I have a woman’s brain as I quite like asking for directions.  Although I do get mad when the people I ask, seem confused.  I have discovered that, “Look – you have a dog on a lead and a newspaper under your arm and it is in the radius of a quarter of a mile, you must know – think man think” is not a good thing to say to help them with the directions though.

The organiser of the gig at the new venue sounds a very nice fellow and quite posh.  He did insist on a contract being drawn up, which is quite unusual as emails back and forth is sufficient for most bookers (and also for me to change the colour on my outlook calendar). 
It is, of course no problem, as I simply make up the contracts myself, cutting to the chase with no legal jargon – it is basically, I show up and do stuff, they pay, it is not difficult.  I have faith in our legal system dealing in common sense not like the American system.  Their system works on, guilty, unless you are very rich and/or you provided us with entertainment in the 1970s and 80s, if OJ and MJ are anything to go by.  I know it is well out of date now, but in the OJ Simpson case the foreman of the jury must have returned with the words “Not Guilty on account of it is never the most obvious person who did it” – In a kind of clever ending to an episode of CSI – so clever in fact that Horatio’s sunglasses come off, he looks to the middle distance, then puts his sunglasses back on before walking off.
That reminds me I hope my wife doesn’t tape over my “Still Game” programme with her CSI – how many of those CSI murder scene dramas can she watch? I hope she is not planning something.

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Shows 4U2C@fest

That is, “Shows for you to see at the festival” (come on keep up, can’t you even txt yet).
My website manager has informed various website organisers that his client (that’s me) will be writing a blog from the Edinburgh Festival this year. This is true, although due to commitments I won’t be there for the full month (even if I did not have commitments I would still need some sleep surely).
I will be up there sometime mid August, you will probably notice when I am there in these daily notes (lets’ hope so; surely I’m not going to bang on about water aerobics all summer).
I feel since I will only start to review shows later in the month that I should let you know which comedy performers are consistently very good every year. Yes that would be a good start wouldn’t it?
So even before I get to the festival I would like to recommend the following – they are in first name alphabetical order and if I have missed you (and I know you really well and I like your act a lot) it means I really did not see your showcase “needle” amongst the “haystack” of listings (nearly 700 shows are comedy this year). So if I have missed out your show, catch me in Edinburgh and we will put that right, either by me reviewing your show, or depending on time, me saying it was great anyway (in a Blue Peter “you have already won the competition” kind of way).

Adam Hills (very happy – the exact opposite to Jack Dee in delivery)
Adam Bloom – very funny every year
Andrew Maxwell – won the king of comedy award in a big brother style comedy house – No? me neither, but he is still very funny.
Book Club Robin Ince – very dry poking fun at bad books – much better than I made it sound there.
Daniel Kitson – very very funny – nearly always 5 star shows
Frankie Boyle (that very funny Scottish guy on “Mock the week”)
Frank Skinner – tickets may be hard to come by.
Ian Stone – again very funny always
Lucy Porter – very funny (great photo Lucy – you are easily the best looking at the festival)
Michael McIntyre – very funny guy. He won the 2003 newcomer award – I was on the Perrier panel that year and I fought his corner to get him this award, but does he thank me?
Nina Conti very funny (great photo Nina – you are easily the best looking at the festival)
Pat Monahan – fantastic bloke, very funny comedian and compere.
Pete Firman – very funny and excellent mix of comedy and magic.
Phil Nichol – completely mad and of course very funny – won top award last year at Festival
Punt and Dennis – radio’s finest writers and performers
Ricky Gervais – tickets may be hard to come by, even though they are £37.50
Richard Herring – is 40 and very funny indeed
Rhod Gilbert – is Welsh and very funny indeed
Stewart Lee – is very dry and very funny indeed
Also if you have kids with you, call in to see James Campbell’s Comedy 4 kids – again very funny.

 

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Htba magician part 2

Once you have gained “the knowledge” (that’s magical knowledge, you don’t need to learn all the street names in London – although I think Derren Brown does this as part of his stage act) then it is time to for you to work through and decide which magic effects work best for you.  More importantly, which effects sit well with your personality (I am assuming you have a personality).
Oh, by the way, this is point Number 6 – Subtitle: Get specific, Get ready.  This sounds easy but it is not as (if you are anything like me) you feel reluctant to throw out great effects (mainly because you have spent years mastering them and also because these effects get “killer” reactions) even though they don’t work for your style (yes style, I am assuming you have some of that too). 
My style is comedy and magic (it says Comedy and Magic in the title to my business just in case you can’t tell on the evening).  I am a big fan of this form of entertainment and of John Archer (a local lad if you happen to live near him and I do) and David Williamson (an American).  Both keep you laughing all the way through their sets.  It is only afterwards the audience realise they have seen some great magic too.  Only then can they backtrack in their minds, switching from relaxing and enjoying the journey of the act to “how on earth did he do that?”   I should point out that a lot of fellow performers disagree with me on this point, some even saying it trivialises the magic.  Like I said, you will have to decide what is best for you and your charisma (I am assuming – oh, come on, the chances of us both having it are fairly slim.)

7. Subtitle: Get creative, Get paid.  Next you should come up with your own new effects and more importantly new words to say (not just comedy as this may not be your style see 6 above – it may even mean coming up with the right music, as in the example I am about to give you) to entertain your audiences.  If the audiences are trying to find out during your act how you are doing these tricks then you are not entertaining them, you are just showing them puzzles.  To give you the (non comedy) example I just promised you, I could quite easily find out how Lance Burton does his dove act but I don’t want to know.  Why?  Because by the time he gets to the part where he tears one dove into two doves I am too busy enjoying the entertainment (I was going to say the artistry, but don’t want you coming around and beating me up) of it all.

8. WORK
9. WORK
10.  I was going to end with some glib comment about “The Ten Commandments” but I have remembered John is a Church goer and I don’t want to upset him (or more importantly God, for that matter).   So number 10 is – Oh I don’t know – don’t work with any animals: hamsters, doves or oxen (be they yours or your neighbours). 

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

How to become a magician

People often ask me, “How do you do all of that stuff” (they are referring to my magic I think – I am not into drugs). This is good, as it shows that these people like my act (and hopefully they like me – However, if they ask me, “Why do you do it?” – well, that is not so good). These people usually follow up with: “Are you in the Magic Circle? When I say yes, the conversation usually ends as if I have said the code words “say no more”. It is as if in joining the Magic Circle you embark on a PHD in magic or better still the mysterious magical juices somehow wash over me, subliminally pouring into the crevices of my fresh young mind, suddenly her breasts heaved (opps sorry wrong article).

 The truth is you have to be proactive and focussed. As my name is Moses I will give you 10 suggestions (they are just suggestions, I mean they are not cast in stone that would be ridiculous). As I have explained this daily blog is a stream of consciousness and it is not a carefully thought out document of well crafted prose (whatever that is).  So at this stage of writing I don’t even know if I actually have 10 points to make about becoming a magician – more likely, there will be about 7 points, with me stretching them out to 10, in a kind of “take a break” magazine way.

 Anyway here they are:

 1. Read, read, read – everything you can on the subject (see the internet for books and even DVDs if you can’t be arsed to read) and make a list of questions.

2. Befriend a magician and meet up, buying him drinks whilst secretly working through your list of questions. Most magicians will help you as long as you have the basics learnt (and you are paying). The expression “God helps those who help themselves” is good advice for magicians (although, maybe not such great advice for kleptomaniacs).

3. Start with a goal in mind – visualise yourself performing in the future at paid gigs (if you would like to be a professional) – this will get you through darker times (see 4 below).

4. Enter competitions even if you think you are ill equipped or worse, under rehearsed – do it anyway, life is like learning to play the violin in public, just have a go. In the early days I entered a Magic Circle competition and every thing went wrong. My hamster (our family pet) had be commandeered by me to be the final load from my cups and balls routine. All three pieces of fruit appeared under the three cups to massive applause however my very adventurous fourth load of the hamster never materialised. I turned to see him in the corner of the room and I am sure he was giving me the jazz hands and going “daa darrr”. He retired from show business after this escapologist act. Don’t even get me started on my hammer and wedding ring trick which followed the hamster debacle.

5. Never work with animals or expensive jewellery.

I am sure I still have more to tell you about becoming a magician but you will have to wait for tomorrow’s blog. I just petered out there, didn’t I? If you notice I usually tidy up my daily blog, with the stories I have been talking about, being tied up in the end, like a Pulp Fiction final scene sort of way. However, if I am writing this blog everyday (which I am) then this type of ending may end up as being hackneyed and contrived. So you will just have to be happy with my new style of petering out my daily blog as if I have simply run out of ener


Don performs as a wedding magician, corporate entertainer, and after dinner speaker at events throughout the country. London Magician, Manchester Magician, Liverpool Magician, Birmingham Magician, Newcastle Upon Tyne Magician, Magician Surrey, Edinburgh Magician, Oxford Magician, Bristol Magician, Magician Milton Keynes, Leicester Magician, Leeds Magician, Magician Kent.