Monday, July 04, 2011

Edinburgh 1987 and a Lovely Wedding...

Good King Hal, suddenly remembering he left the spare key for the castle at the BACK door, and not under the portcullis. What a twit.

Let me take you back, if I may, to August 1987. I am 20 years old and have just written and produced a show which is going to open at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on the 16th August. It was a tremendously exciting time in my life, when everything seemed possible and my dreams, such as they were, were not sullied by the disappointments of age or clouded by experience of rejection. I wrote the show with my friend Steve Newman and we were quite genuinely convinced we were going to go to Edinburgh, make vast sums of money, become famous, get given our own BBC TV comedy series and then probably end up on "Whoops Vicar, My Kilts Exploded" or some such other daytime "entertainment" show. Looking back now, nearly 24 years since that time I can't believe we were so naive. Our show called, brilliantly originally "The Revue" quite naturally bombed. When you go to do the Fringe you need something to grab people's attention, whether it be something they already know, or something to intrigue them. Having a show simply called "The Revue" is not going to be noticed by anyone. When you do the Festival Fringe, unless you are someone staggeringly famous already, you share your venue with countless other shows, and we were no exception. On before us each night was a show called "The Ballad of Halo Jones" based on the 2000AD comic strip of the same name. Each and every night they were packed out, purely because people knew the name. We went to see the show one evening. It was total crap. BUT, and let's face it folks, it's a BIG BUT, the show may have been total crap, but they had bums on seats and were making money. We'd come on at 10pm to do our show and there's three drunk students, two deaf old ladies and a small Cairn Terrier called Ernie. If we were lucky. And they never charged for the dog. But I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, possibly the best two weeks of my entire life. I was 20 and I was doing comedy, in Edinburgh, with some very groovy people and I was drinking too much, sitting up all night and it felt really bloody good! And the main reason for all these reminiscences flooding back now, is that from dear old Ebay the other day, I managed to purchase for the princely sum of 99p an original copy of the "Edinburgh Fringe Festival Programme 1987". It was fun flicking through it seeing all the names that at the time were struggling but are now TV stars. I had great difficulty in finding our show, but then, under the banner of the Theatre we were working in (Theatreworks, based at St Paul's & St George's Church Hall in York Place) was our listing. Now, when you place your advert in the programme you have only I think a maximum of 15 words for your placement, so it has to reach out, smash potential ticket purchasers between the eyes and drag them bleeding into the hall by their thousands. So what did Steve and I come up with? I had long forgotten, but there in slightly faded black and white in the Fringe Programme the stark reality of our folly glared out at me. It read: "Busty Norseman, Stig Volvo, has totally surrounded Edinburgh. Seeks medical advice." And we wondered why no one was coming to see us? I'd love to have another bash at Edinburgh, take my Henry's Horrid History Show up there sometime. Who knows, maybe next year...

Back to now, I was asked some time ago by a lovely couple called Corinne and David to be master of ceremonies at their wedding reception at Dillington House near Ilminster. I was delighted to oblige and last Saturday the day came. The weather could honestly not have been better, bright and sunny, but not too hot with a slight breeze to help Corinne looked stunning in her dress and David and all his ushers and male family members looked very dashing dressed in fine kilts and waistcoats. It was a magical day with a super mixture of the two families, one from Somerset and the other from Ballymena in Northern Ireland. I was on duty so to speak from about 12 noon to 7pm, and can honestly say it was one of the nicest weddings I have been to anyway, and was fun to work at!

Next Henry appearance is on Thursday this week at Green Rock School in Walsall, followed by my appearance at the Somerton Summer Arts Festival on the Friday evening. I am then at Barrington Court on Saturday for another outing of the Henry's Horrid History Show.

No comments: