Stephen Bailey has been busy lately, especially given his recent support slot on Katherine Ryan’s latest tour. This comedian is cheeky, flamboyant and a prime example of someone who is destined to perform in some medium or other; his recent successes on the live stand up circuit prove this to be the case. Stephen is taking his latest solo hour, Nation’s Sweetheart, to this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
I asked Stephen these seven questions to learn a little more about him…
The Edinburgh Festival is nearly upon us once again. Thousands of punters and performers are heading their way up to Scotland for anything from a couple of days to a whole month of arts, comedy and entertainment. And once again, MoodyComedy is there in spirit, singing the praises of projects that look particularly innovative and interesting.
But this year is a little different; in order to celebrate the diversity of artists and performers attending the Edinburgh Fringe throughout August, MoodyComedy will be bringing you countless interviews with those risking their emotional, financial and social wellbeing in putting together shows for your entertainment. The Seven Questions With feature is going strong, having already given around sixty comics a platform to share their comedy secrets, darkest confessions and silly musings, and soon we are to see this interview feature at its absolute best, as a means of bringing to your attention acts you may have never heard of before, as well as others who you may already be familiar with.Over the next two weeks, MoodyComedy will be speaking to performers who are making their Edinburgh debuts and those who have been bringing shows to the festival since before I was born, with at least one interview every single day for you to enjoy. There are double acts, character comics, musicians, sketch actors, magicians, television panel show regulars, radio royalty and even the occasional past CBBC presenter. You will experience the flamboyant, the odd, the surprising and the controversial. We have political comedians, absurdist comedians, bilingual comedians. From Glasgow to Dublin, Manchester to Birmingham, France to Canada to Kenya. It’s fair to say that a lot of bases have been covered, with each of these comedians being able to shed insight into the lives of working stand ups, as well as provide many laughs along the way.
Stay tuned over the next two weeks to find out which comic practises driving in his mum’s Ford Focus; who has recently taken up cross stitch; who is desperate to be friends with Barack Obama and who has decided he just doesn’t care about anything. Here’s to another fantastic festival of creativity, community and laughter.
Peter Brush walks onto the stage at MAC in Birmingham to perform a preview of his new show Dreams With Advert Breaks with an air of apology about him. Confident in himself but self-critical, constantly editing, analysing and evaluating. This show is just his second solo hour, but Peter progresses through his material efficiently and chronologically, with a quiet confidence in the content of his show, if not quite the timings at this stage.
Aware of the impression an audience may have of him based on his appearance, as a young-looking, moderately long-haired, spectacle-wearing man, Brush openly shuns the label of ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’, stating that he actually has little interest in things that one might associate with such a trope. The comic explains the premise of his new show, which one could describe as a nostalgic look at childhood, including his past dreams (those that occur whilst asleep and those upon waking).
Brush’s guilty pleasure, it seems, is incorporating the kind of jokes into his sets that induce groans or tuts from an audience. What is refreshing is that he doesn’t care, because he enjoys these quips, and often so do we, or rather we enjoy the satisfaction of a small, rounded-off joke, as a change from longer-form narratives. Peter is aware that silly throwaway remarks are not sufficient to build an entire show and he knows that this is, in turn, not what an audience wants to hear, and in this way the comic shows a proficiency for reading his audience.
The narrative of the hour itself shows promise of being satisfyingly complex, with pleasing callbacks towards the end of the hour that bridge the gaps, from early childhood memories to the present day, although there were gaps within this performance as Peter expressed a wish to perform the latter part of the show, and therefore missed out sections from the middle. A shame for us, perhaps, but surely audiences in Edinburgh will have the loose ends sufficiently tied up.
The most impressive aspect of Brush’s writing is arguably a remarkable ability to conjure up surreal imagery within everyday mundanity. These whimsical reconstructions of childhood memories and dreams earn him many satisfied nods of heads, as opposed to laughs, and epitomise his comedic style; quiet, subtle, understated.
Peter Brush will be performing his show Dreams With Advert Breaks at the Edinburgh Festival.
Known by many as Rhod Gilbert’s trusty sidekick, both on the 2010 television panel show Ask Rhod Gilbert (as well as other projects including Gilbert’s pilot sitcom Back To Llanbobl, which is expected to air this Autumn), and in recent years as tour support, Lloyd Langford is a comic of extensive television and stand up experience, and this shines through consistently in a preview of his latest show Rascal, performed at MAC in Birmingham.
Langford takes to the stage with his trademark droll delivery and slouched posture. His new show primarily considers the perils of relationships in the 21st century society, with the comic self-proclaiming it to potentially be his rudest hour of stand up thus far. Lloyd takes delight in saying what everyone else is thinking; not afraid to push an idea slightly too far or make his listeners feel slightly uncomfortable, particularly regarding latecomers. Here we have a comedian who clearly appreciates what an audience want from a live comedy experience. Lloyd’s off-the-cuff remarks are pleasingly quick and he segways between audience interaction and material smoothly, despite the fact he is performing an unpolished show.
Developing ideas based on life experiences over the past year, with topical references scattered throughout, it is somewhat difficult to tell whether this comic is being truly open with his audience or not. Langford’s material makes him appear quite solitary at times; yes, there are mentions of past girlfriends here and there, and talk of a cruise with his parents and brother, but the majority of the show centres around Lloyd’s own private musings, triggered by his experiences while travelling with work (perhaps fitting with the view that stand up comedy is one of the loneliest careers).
Lloyd Langford epitomises a no-messing-about, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of comedy. He conveys an attitude that is both underwhelmed and apathetic, yet also irritated by the many obstacles that modern life presents, from hotels, to the weather, to terrorism (those “proper ne’er-do-wells, scamps, bad eggs”). But beneath the silliness, an anger certainly bubbles under the surface of Langford’s comedy, reminiscent of fellow Welshman Rhod Gilbert. This new show, however, does not see any of that frustration overflow; Langford remains in control. Instead, he is gleefully childish, sometimes bordering on pedantic, happy to play devil’s advocate through his cynicism and judgements, bringing out the naughty child that hides within each of us.
Lloyd Langford will be performing his show Rascal at the Edinburgh Festival.
So the Edinburgh Festival draws to a close for another year. The final weekend saw a whole array of awards being presented and futures being temporarily flipped on their heads. The Edinburgh Comedy Awards are perhaps the most prolific of the entire arts festival and the effects of winning either the overall award for best show or the prize for best newcomer results in a great deal of publicity and ticket sales for the next year and beyond. Nominations for both titles this year, which were announced on Wednesday (26th August) with winner announced yesterday, were as strong as ever.
Those shortlisted for the award for Best Comedy Show were James Acaster, Joseph Morpurgo, Kieran Hodgson, Nish Kumar, Sam Simmons, Sarah Kendall, Seymour Mace and Trygve Wakenshaw. A diverse list, to say the least, with two of the comics above coming from Australia and another one being a mime act from New Zealand. Sam Simmons (who was MoodyComedy’s Comedian Of The Month this March) took the award along with the £10,000 prize, which was presented by last year’s winner John Kearns, for his bustling, surreal show Spaghetti For Breakfast. This was the third time the comic had been nominated for Best Show, much like James Acaster who’s show Represent saw him nominated for the fourth time, showing the high calibre of nominees.
The award for Best Newcomer is one that has proven itself time and time again to completely catapult the careers of the world’s brightest new talent. ‘New’ that is, at least, in terms of being newly recognised. A quick glance at the list of previous winners will demonstrate to any cynic that this award is not to be overlooked. Winners over the 35 years that the award has been running have included Sarah Millican, Harry Hill, Tim Minchin, The Mighty Boosh and Josie Long. This year saw Danish stand up Sofie Hagen claim the crown for Best Newcomer with her debut show Bubblewrap. Sofie’s show has been delighting audiences with her refreshing take on growing up into a proper adult and issues such as body image and the stigma around mental health. You can catch my interview with Sofie Hagen here.
And finally, the winner of the Panel Prize was Karen Koren who has worked as the founder and artistic director of the Gilded Balloon for the past 30 years. The Guilded Balloon also saw the launch of the So You Think You’re Funny? competition which has been running for 28 years.
A full list of past nominees and winners is available on the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards website.
Patrick Monahan has an energy that could wake the dead. In a last minute preview before the Edinburgh Festival (which was, at the time, imminent), the Irish-Iranian-Geordie comic was adding the final flourishes to his latest stand up hour, working on cementing the overall structure of the show, yet he bounded on stage with the confidence of a man that new the next sixty minutes were to go swimmingly, regardless of how far progressed his material was in that moment.
A show that begins with several minutes of vigorous seventies style dancing from the older members of our Birmingham audience is not the way I expected Patrick to get the ball rolling, but comedy is all about new experiences, and we were clearly there to learn. The hour (and the rest) itself is a personal and honest account of the comedian’s experiences as a young boy growing up in Iran in the 1970s, with heavy influences from the world of dance, of course, as this appears to be Patrick’s speciality.
I was born in the late 1990s and it’s fair to say that I know very little of what went on in the 70s (or even the 80s and 90s for that matter) other than the obvious pop culture stereotypes and a brief understanding of international tensions at the time. Diverse, to say the least. But not only were us younger audience members (or “the children” as we were referred to) able to learn a little more about what living in the 1970s was like for many, we were also invited to be a part of the discussion, which resulted in many laughs and a unified feel in the room. Forgetting, possibly, that the house lights were up for the entirety of the show, Monahan nurtured and maintained a friendly, sociable atmosphere. Even if that meant unknowingly encroaching on regional banter with innocent questions like “which is nicer, Worcester or Wolverhampton?”.
Patrick Monahan is a truly charming comic who exhibits great care for his audiences as well as for the quality of his craft, making his show one of the most enjoyable and uplifting experiences to be had at the Fringe.
Patrick Monahan is currently performing his show The Disco Years at the Edinburgh Festival.
There’s something inspiring about attending a comedy show, which you have no prior information about other than a name, and discovering something quite remarkable. Witnessing a preview of Jonny Awsum’s second musical stand up show (at the MAC in Birmingham, of course) was certainly a unique experience, with the comic bringing boxes of mysterious objects on stage which were to be used throughout the hour, starting with three audience members on the front row who were supplied with plastic silver trumpets.
It is really no surprise that a large portion of his comedy work is in the form of being the ‘warm-up guy,’ or Hype Man as it is apparently called, for the energy Jonny managed to summon from a mixed-aged Thursday night crowd in Birmingham was admirable. One reason for the sustained high-octane feel of the show was that the audience as a whole were called to action regularly, whether that be to cheer performers on in their harmonica solos, shout back obscenities, or simply hum along to songs. Just because some of us weren’t picked on, it doesn’t mean that we weren’t a crucial part of the show.
The most applaudable aspect of Jonny Awsum’s performance was that no audience member was ever the butt of the joke, which made for unexpectedly enjoyable audience participation. Jonny enabled us to create something fantastic as a group and it unified us all as one; I chatted to people I’d never have mixed with in my daily life due to age and general background and that is a testament to this comedian’s positive attitude and the uplifting nature of his show as a whole.
Jonny Awsum’s latest musical extravaganza is magnificent: exciting and skilfully crafted. It seemed as though he didn’t even need to be doing previews at this point in late July, but the crowd were certainly pleased that he was. Musical, interactive comedy is not my preferred style of entertainment, but this show made it felt like it could be.
Jonny Awsum is currently performing his show Everything Is Awsum at the Edinburgh Festival.
It’s common knowledge that being a stand up comedian is hard work. The travelling is arduous and lonely; there is often a loss to be made once all the costs are detracted from any money gained from ticket sales. The Edinburgh Festival is probably the most strenuous time of year for a working comic. Performers from across the globe travel up to Scotland for a month of entertaining, spectating and living out of suitcases.
Having worked on their new shows for the past however many months and performing them nearly every single day of the festival, there are plenty of comedians who live with a constant anxiety that nobody will even turn up to see them. Comedy is a volatile art form, and while this is what makes it so exciting, it is also what makes it a risky thing to dedicate your life, love and money to, as a performer. Comedy is a labour of love and those who pour the most into their art are sure to be the ones who can bask in the most future success or personal triumph. But, as you can see, it must take its toll, and a helping hand from a friend is sometimes the perfect way to lift the spirits, or, in this case, the ticket sales. This is where Michael Legge and his army of comedy folk come in.
Sell This Gig Out is Michael Legge’s initiative, which he has been utilising in recent years to allow groups of comics and comedy fans to promote shows through various social networking platforms. The idea is simple enough: Legge has summoned together a network of people who are willing to help each other, and, of course, who would be grateful for any help they may too receive. The group have been focussing on one comedian’s show per day so far but are also constantly recommending other shows to attend as well as attending them themselves, beginning as they mean to go on, by completely selling out Angela Barnes’ first show of the run.
— Nigel Metheringham (@nmeth) August 5, 2015
Here we have a prime example of the wonderful camaraderie shown by so many of our most loved stand up comedians, and I, for one, find it incredibly uplifting.
Gavin Webster is a comedian I have very much looked forward to seeing in the flesh, having made him my Comedian Of The Month last August. I finally managed to catch a preview of this high-energy Geordie comic’s latest show The Sexist’s Sexist at the MAC in Birmingham.
Gavin begins with his tried and tested material; clearly the comic’s safety net of top-quality, trustworthy gags. From the early stages of the show, Webster showed an obvious competency, coming across as a man who gets the job done and gets it done well. He exudes natural charm and a genuine warmth, which came across progressively strongly as the hour passed by and references to friends and family were made, such as his late dad’s blunt life advice, which was a profound moment to say the least.
The Sexist’s Sexist is not what it may first appear from studying the poster or name alone: it is a well-crafted, personal hour which showcases Webster’s story-telling skills and admirable casual confidence. Talking of his delight at being crowned Comedian’s Comedian on Christmas Eve last year, Gavin demonstrated to us all why he received the award in the first place; not only is he a lovely guy but he also clearly understands his creative responsibilities as a stand up. He expertly toes the line between comfort and danger, teasing us with elements of the two.
Gavin Webster’s latest show is a satisfying blend of home comforts and absurdist anecdotes, making him one to watch at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
Gavin Webster is currently performing his show The Sexist’s Sexist at the Edinburgh Festival.