Marcel Lucont hits the Drygate

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Marcel Lucont, easily the greatest UK-based French Comedian, to charm Glasgow

Expect louche musings, deadpan wit and Gallic superiority when the multi-award-deserving French comedian, Marcel Lucont, headlines Gilded Balloon Comedy at Drygate on Friday 02 June 2017.

The legendary flâneur, raconteur and bon-viveur promises to charm the women and mock the stupid; such is his unassailable arrogance.

The French, self-centred alter-ego of Alexis Dubus, Marcel Lucont has toured the world with his dry wit, bawdy chansons, literary sophistication and exquisite sex poetry; The Tits Of The Brits and Baise-Moi Ce Soir Dans Le Pissoir, among the legendary titles.  Now he is making a special trip to the second city of The Empire and promises that every one in the audience will have their life enriched by this experience.

Adopting a status higher than Mont Blanc this philosopher, poet, lover and bon vivant will spend the best part of his set on his two favourite subjects: himself, and how much better than you he is.

Marcel was named the best sketch, character or improv act in the 2015 Chortle Awards, a year after being nominated in the same category. He was winner of the 2012 Amused Moose Award for the Best Comedy Show of Edinburgh Fringe and the 2013 Fringe World Award for Best Comedy.

6’ 2” skinhead Gary Little, who is blessed with that special brand of Weegie banter, will join Marcel Lucont on the Drygate Brewery stage.  He is one of the most consistently funny acts in Scottish comedy, forcefully opinionated combined with unflinching honesty and openness. His imposing physical presence and his masculine, sweary persona is undercut by his obvious warmth, personable style and slight vulnerability.  When Little speaks from the heart about such things as his man-of-few-words father, religious figures and sudden deaths, this is when he really shines.

Jojo Sutherland, the charismatic comic with a commanding stage persona, will compere the evening, keeping both comedian and audience in check.  She is in as much demand for her compere abilities as she is for her comedy routine.

Her natural stage presence alongside her “healthy neglect” approach to life and parenting forms the backbone to her material.  This is interspersed with everyday grievances and motherly advice.  It is a comedy journey through life’s ups and downs and twists and turns. As an accomplished actress Jojo frequently appears on stage and undertakes work from a variety of fields including radio presenting and improvisational forum theatre.

An Interview with Steve Gribbin

This weekend, Steve Gribbin will be headlining the Monkey Barrel Comedy night in Edinburgh –  the Mumble managed to catch a few words with the fellow… 


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Hiya, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I was born & brought up in the North Liverpool suburb of Waterloo, named after the famous battle, next door to Crosby, the third most Catholic place in England! It’s also the traditional seaside destination for North Liverpoolians, although if you swim in the River Mersey you would need a Black Armband! Nowadays I live in the SE London Borough of Lewisham in a part of it called Ladyell, which is being rapidly overrun by bearded hipsters and has six artisan coffee shops to very person, and some very nice ironic Victorian moustaches

When did you first realise you were, well, funny?
It was in a Nativity play at my Junior school, St Edmund’s, Waterloo, when I was about 10 years old. I was one of the Three Shepherds, and I had a line that said “Hark! I hear The Angel of The Lord in the distance!”, but on the word “distance” my voice suddenly went up three octaves and the whole audience fell about laughing. Even though I was mortified, I can still remember the feeling that I had stumbled on something. That laughter was like catnip. Mrs O’Shaughnessy, the Drama teacher, was apoplectic with rage, which was another plus

Who are your comedy idols?
Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson and Alexei Sayle are my Comedy Holy Trinity, but I also love Steve Martin, Woody Allen, Mort Sahl, Mark Steel, Mark Thomas, Jeremy Hardy, Bill Bailey, Tim Vine, Bill Hicks, Linda Smith, Victoria Wood, Zoe Lyons, and George Formby. It was really Alexei Sayle that got me into comedy in the first place…seeing him in Edinburgh in 1982 blew my mind, he was like a coiled spring of righteous rage with all this Surrealist stuff going on as well

Your first forays into comedy began in the early 80’s SKINT VIDEO, can you tell us about the project?
Well, it wasn’t really a “project”, as such, it was just something I fell into by accident! When I was the lead singer in bands playing in Liverpool I often used to cover broken strings, false starts, endless tuning up etc…with little jokes, and I discovered that I quite enjoyed it. Skint Video started as an attempt to gain a precious Equity Card, because I really wanted to be an actor, but after I had done about 12 gigs, I thought, sod being told what to do by a poncy Director… in comedy you can do what you like, so I decided to go for it full time. We started life as a sketch duo, way back when sketches were about as fashionable as crocs are now, but we eventually developed the musical side of it as well, and began to spread our wings, touring constantly throughout Britain and Ireland. We felt part of a movement, really, “Alternative Cabaret”, which then morphed into “Alternative Comedy”, was just a reaction against all those reactionary frilly-shirted racist comics that had dominated our TV screens for decades. We saw ourselves in direct opposition to those wankers. My proudest moment as Skint Video was when Harold Pinter told us to “get the fuck out of my dressing room”, and he din’t even pause

Almost 35 years later, how has your approach to comedy changed, if at all?
Well, I still do get nervous before a performance, but now instead of ten thousand butterflies in the stomach which then turns into the obligatory pre-gig “comedy ablution”, my nervousness manifests itself in tetchiness and a sort of pre-show “trance” where I try not to think of anything, just let my mind go blank, like a contestant on “The Apprentice.” As to the writing, I just try and write something that makes me laugh, although the fervent hope is that the audience may be induced to guffaw also. The subject matter has not really changed, I am always trying to “punch up” at the rich and powerful, and Evertonians. One thing that has changed is that I am much more open to being silly and stupid onstage than I used to be. If you’re gonna be onstage, I think you should be prepared to look a prat. Luckily, my hair has decided to f*** off and give me no choice about that!

What is is about performing live you love the most – I mean 3000 gigs & counting, come on, you must love it?
The live gig is still the arena that matters, in terms of the relationship between the performer and the audience, which TV can never really capture. The feeling that anything that happens is happening right here, right now and can never be replicated, is a powerful one. It’s like the feeling you have when you are in the crowd of a huge gig, a sort of current that runs through the audience. And that laughter is STILL like catnip!

What are the differences between regional comedy & that of London?
That’s an interesting one. In the pre-alt.com days, of course, there were very strong regional differences, but I think TV and the Internet have smoothed those out to a certain extent. Where I do think it is noticeable is if a London-based comic keeps going on about “The Tube” and “Oyster Cards” in front of a Newcastle audience, then they may get a little pissed off

What does Steve Gribbin like to do when he’s not being funny?
I am a very keen swimmer, like to go every day if I can, I read a lot of books, currently reading a book about North Korea called “The Impossible State”, plus Ray Davies’s new autobiography “Americana” and a fascinating book about football called “And The Sun Now Shines”, which is brilliant. I also have my golden Labrador called Pablo, who I walk every day, although he is so badly trained that he has got me punched a few times. I also have a 6-piece Country band called The True Believers, for whom I write all the songs, sing lead and play rhythm guitar

You are soon to be headlining the Monkey Barrel in Edinburgh : have you done it before?
Yep, did it in January, and had an absolute blast!

How do you find performing at the mega-mash-up that is the Edinburgh Fringe?
It’s such a great feeling to put together a full one-hour one-person show, very artistically satisfying. But then comes the bewildering business of publicity, trying to be heard above the million and one voices of The Fringe

What have you got in store for us this year?
I shall be performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe with a show about Britain’s Rail Network called “Shunted Again!” at Stand 5 at 3:45pm Fri 4th- Sun 27th August (excepting Monday 14th). I’ll also be touring in the Autumn with a fuller version of that show. And my band The Tue Believers will be releasing an EP in September entitled “Songs In The Key Of Heartbreak”

An Interview with Sully O’Sullivan

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This Wednesday & Sunday, New Zealander Sully O Sullivan will be headlining the Monkey Barrel Comedy night in Edinburgh –  the Mumble managed to catch a few words with the fellow… 
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Hi Sully, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Te Upoko o te Ika a Maui, the head of Maui’s fish, otherwise known as Wellington, New Zealand, where am I right now? ‘The Dirty North’ (of England) not quite as poetic….

When did you first realise you were, well, funny?
I went to see a friend try stand-up at an open mic for the first time, then and there I decided if did the same I’d be better than at least three of the acts I had to sit through that night.
 
Who are your comedy idols?
I admire specific traits and skills of specific acts e.g. Bill Baileys ability to make jokes incorporating theological concepts accessible to anyone, Bill Burr’s ability to make seemingly unfunny subjects such as suicidal thoughts, frankly hilarious, Steve Hughes’ ability to look at an everyday concept we all already accept from a completely new angle, the list goes on.
Upon which life-experiences do you draw your own comedy?
I tend to look at the big picture, I never feel natural making jokes about mundane subjects such as self service checkouts, but oddly perfectly comfortable making jokes about racism, homophobia, religion, colonialism, the impending apocalypse etc
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Do you find your set is constantly evolving, or are their periodic times of change
The answer is kind of both, but sometimes a new joke doesn’t appear for a while as it doesn’t yet fit with the others until another joke in the chain changes, giving the illusion that you’ve written a new set all at once.
 
What are the differences between the UK comedy scene & that of your native New Zealand?
When I left Wellington (the capital) for Auckland, Wellington had one gig once a week for the entire city, I know that for a fact as I was booking the gig. So the biggest difference in the comedy scene is the size of the scene itself.
 
What does Sully like to do when he’s not being funny?
Right now I’m training for a 3 legged marathon, that’s me tied to another bloke for the entire 26 miles for the British Red Cross. If you want, you can donate here: www.justgiving.com/3LegRun
 
You are soon to be headlining the Monkey Barrel in Edinburgh : have you done it before?
I’m frequently sneaking across the border. This time round I’m Closing in Hamilton on the Tuesday (May 16), Monkey Barrel on the Wednesday and Sunday, Yes Bar in Glasgow on the Friday & Saturday, and squeezing in Foxlake Outdoor Festival Sunday afternoon.
How do you find performing at the mega-mash-up that is the Edinburgh Fringe?
The Fringe is a behemoth, you can’t understand just how big it is without seeing it for yourself.
Will you be there this year?
I’ll be back performing with my comedy partner in crime Monkey Barrel’s resident compere Rick Molland as part of the Scottish Comedy Festival at the Beehive Inn.
At 16:00 we perform Freestyle Comedy, our improvised stand-up show.
At 17:45 we’ll be hitting the stage with ‘Another Political Comedy Show’
And then at 22:45 I’ll head up to the Gilded Balloon and strap on my own compering boots to host AAA Stand-up. It’s gonna be a long month!

An Interview with Abi Roberts

Its early May, & Scotland has just had two days of unbroken sunshine IN A ROW – my god it must be Summer. That means the Fringe is coming & the Mumble will be getting ready to for the onslaught of Comedians into Edinburgh, some of whom we will be interviewing, beginning with Abi Roberts.—-

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Hi Abi, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

Born Ely Estate, Cardiff, moved to London when I was about 6, went to Swansea University to study Russian, then to Moscow Conservatoire to study opera. Now live in London but gad about gigging all over the shop.  This week: Folkestone, Cambridge, London. Next week, Derby, Brighton, Exmouth!

When did you first realise you were, well, funny?

I realised I was able to be funny and hold attention of a group at school. I had a Miss Herbert – a real bully of a geography teacher. She was very patronising, posh and a right twat. She looked like a hippopotamus. At a school revue, I dressed up as her and did an impersonation of her and everyone laughed. The second time was about 14, my school put on a production of Cinderella. Course I wasn’t cast as Cinders…that went to my pretty, blond classmate..so I was cast as the Fairy Godmother. They gave me a really dull script so I ignored that and I changed all the lines to a Billy Connolly Glasgow accent, with loads of “wee man” and “big man” and it brought the house down..got into a lot of trouble for that one….I used the word “bollocks” without knowing what it meant….

Who are your comedy idols?

Richard Pryor

Eddie Murphy

Billy Connolly

Jim Carey

Lee Mack

Upon which life-experiences do you draw your own comedy?

All of them. School, University, Being a dancer, musical tastes and singing styles and singer, Russia, the general public, my mother. Language and accents. My other half. Everything really. My comedy is very physical, so I act out a lot of the stuff onstage. I’m not a stand in one spot comic.  My life is frenetic, so my comedy is as well.

Last year you performed in Russia – in Russian – can you tell us about the experience?

I don’t want to give too much away so you’ll have to come and see the show! To give you a taste..I went there last year and was heckled by the Russian Mafia….who later bought me a HUGE bottle of vodka because my Russian was so good and they enjoyed the show.  There is opera, hip hop, Cossack dancing and a dog that uses a human loo.

What are your own links to Russia?

Well, I speak Russian and my family has always had links to it….via my father who went to Russia a lot as part of his job.  I hadn’t been back there since the 90s when I was at the Conservatoire studying opera, but I went back there last year to be the first UK comic to do stand-up in Russia in Russian. I did four nights out there and it was fantastic…packed out a 160 seater every night. A wonderful experience and it’s all in my ANGLICHANKA show.

What does Abi Roberts like to do when shes not being funny?

I watch Columbo…I am addicted. One day soon I am going to do a show about Columbo and his detective philosophy of life. I’m a big film buff so I watch a lot of films.  I’m currently writing a pilot for TV so that’s taking up a lot of my spare time at the moment.

How do you find the mega-mash-up that is the Edinburgh Fringe?

Love it. I did Edinburgh as a singer/cabaret act in the past and since 2012 (when I became a full time stand up), I’ve been doing stand-up shows there. It’s so nice not having props, costumes and endless music cues and just being able to talk to an audience and make them laugh. It’s also a great chance to catch up with friends you don’t see much of…when you’re doing comedy clubs week in, week out, you only see friends for 5 minutes in the green room before you do your set, so Edinburgh is a great chance to catch up and the best example of working hard and playing hard.  It also is a fab opportunity to hone material..25 shows over three weeks…and this year I’m doing two shows: ANGLICHANKA at the Underbelly and my new work-in-progress show FAT GIRL DANCING at the Voodoo Rooms as part of the PBH Free Fringe so I will have tons of new stuff honed and ready for use in clubs. I usually take a holiday straight after Edinburgh as I’m knackered.

What have you got in store for us this year?

ANGLICHANKA is currently touring but coming back to the Underbelly White Belly at 6.40pm from 3-27th August and my new work-in-progress show FAT GIRL DANCING is at the Voodoo Rooms Speakeasy in the Edinburgh New Town at 4.15pm 6th to 27th.  I’ve just been in two comedy films as well, “One Under” and “The Honeymoon” which everyone should be able to see later this year. There’s also other very exciting stuff happening for me toward the end of this year but I’m sworn to secrecy.. watch this space!

Flyering the Free Fringe

PBH-photo-Free-Fringe-700x455.jpgOn first moving to Edinburgh in 2004 & experiencing its International Festival, two things struck me. One, there was loads of amazing entertainment on offer, & two: I couldn’t afford to see any of it. Then Peter Buckley came along & set up a system where performers could bypass the epic funds needed to put on a Fringe show, meaning we punters could chuck money in a bucket at the end of the show instead. Which basically meant more money for beer! Some stuff was excellent, some stuff was… well, not. Either way, the Free Fringe is now a staple during August, & its performers are all now getting themselves ready for the greatest show on earth. But what does it really mean to put on a Free Fringe Show.

The deal is this : the venue gets beer money, the performer gets the bucket money & we get a cheaper night out. The organiser, Peter Buckley, also gets an free army of free fringe flyerers, as he’s stipulated that any of the performers, when handing out their own leaflets, ‘must also offer the Wee Blue Book to the public. This doesn’t mean having one tatty copy available on request; the offer must be of the Wee Blue Book and your show flier, in that order.... by these means everybody is publicizing everybody else’s show. You will find that the Wee Blue Book brings in more audience than your show’s leaflet. It works to everybody’s advantage.’

After several decades of experience doing the Edinburgh comedy festivals Buckley has developed a mantra for how to flyer to the optimum effect. He says; ‘Because the WBB is so powerful and because the Free Fringe has built up a reputation over its 21 years, there is no need for excess publicity. Yes, you will need to have a presence on the street with leaflets, combined with the Wee Blue Book. But flooding the streets with too many leaflet distributors is counter-productive and anti-social. And having people leaflet for your show who have not themselves seen the show and are not committed to it is a waste of money, and reduces the value of your show. A further waste of money is having more posters than a small number (10 to 30) for around your venue and anywhere else you can put them up. Another waste of money is buying enormous posters (“big head posters”) on public sites, like many shows at the larger money venues do.

You may say: it’s my money, I’ll waste it if I want. No. We don’t like that. By founding the Free Fringe, we’ve saved you thousands of pounds you would otherwise have paid to the money venues. This stops you making a massive loss at the Fringe. If you spend the money you’ve saved on publicity, this forces all similar Free Fringe shows to spend just as much. The result is that everybody spends more and nobody benefits. That’s not why we started the Free Fringe; we started it to make the Fringe better value and a happier experience for the majority of performers. We don’t want our low-cost system to be exploited by people who want to gain fame at the expense of others. Keep your display and publicity to a reasonable level.

So that’s a little inside info on just one of the multiple aspects of the Edinburgh festival. The Mumble likes to be active right at the heart of it all, & in about three months from now the first of those ‘10 to 30 posters’ cited by Buckley will be finding their way on to the walls of this years Free Fringe venues.  And the Mumble, for one, cannot wait.

Damian Beeson Bullen

Rob Deering @ The Gilded Balloon

Rob Deering, ‘The Finest Comedy Double Act’, to headline at Drygate Brewery

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Rob Deering, the UK’s foremost guitar-wielding, loop-layering stand-up comedian, will headline Gilded Balloon Comedy at Drygate, when it returns on Friday 7 April 2017 after a very busy Glasgow International Comedy Festival.

Joining him on the brewery stage will be Micky Bartlett, one of the funniest and fastest rising stars on the live stand-up circuit, and fellow Irish comedian, Catherine Bohart, a finalist in both the BBC New Comedy Awards and Funny Women in 2016. Ray Bradshaw, one of the funniest and most dependable acts on the UK comedy scene, will compere the evening of mirth and music driven entertainment, keeping both comedians and audience in check.

With his easy charm, cheesy singing voice, razor-sharp wit and clownish physicality Rob Deering has established himself as a firm favourite on the nationwide comedy scene.   Some even say that Rob Deering and his guitar are ‘the finest double act working in Britain today’.

Widely hailed as one of the funniest and fastest rising stars on the live stand-up circuit, Northern Irish comedian Micky Bartlett (from BBC NI’s Monumental) will also be taking to the Drygate stage to entertain Glasgow with his unabashed and hilarious observations of life, the world, and the people in it. Catherine Bohart is a Dublin-born comedian, writer and actor who started performing stand-up in 2015; quietly subversive manner and dry acerbic observations. Since then ’the OCD, bisexual offspring of a Catholic deacon’ has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks of UK and Irish comedy, with a finalist spot in both the BBC New Comedy Awards and Funny Women competitions in 2016.

Hailing from Glasgow, Ray Bradshaw, compere for this Gilded Balloon Comedy at Drygate gig, is one of the funniest and most dependable acts on the Scottish comedy scene.  A double Scottish Comedian of The Year Finalist, Ray has travelled the length and breadth of the country telling jokes to anyone that will listen. He’s a thoroughly engaging comedian.  His utter joviality and friendliness, coupled with witty and unexpected asides and great audience interaction, make him a real ‘people pleaser’; and raucously funny with it.

Rob Deering, Micky Bartlett, Catherine Bohart with compere, Ray Bradshaw – Gilded Balloon Comedy at Drygate – Friday 7 April 2017

 

An Interview with Karen Koren

That’s Fife Festival has just returned to the Kingdom in April 2017 with an eclectic programme of comedy, theatre, spoken word, magic and family entertainment. The shows will be staged at venues across the Kingdom from Saturday 1 to Friday 28 April 2016, with Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, the central Hub of the festival.   From the masters of stand up and comedy entertainment on stage, TV and radio to the UK’s most spectacular touring magic show – The Champions of Magic – to shows from Fun Box for younger kids, theatre and the spoken word, there is something to entertain every member of the family at That’s Fife. Over the weekend, The Mumble managed to catch its artistic director, Karen Koren, for a wee chat

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THE MUMBLE : Hello, Karen, so what got you into comedy in the first place?
KAREN: Its a long story – I had friends from London who were into the “alternative” comedy scene (early 80’s) – we are talking 35 years ago now! They were looking for a venue in Edinburgh as there were not enough venues doing comedy, so I found one and put them on – they attracted other comics and it grew from there.

THE MUMBLE : The Gilded Balloon has grown so big over these past three decades, are you surprised by this?
KAREN: I am very surprised by it. It has grown bigger than I could have imagined. I also instigated a lot of shows like Late’n’Live which attracted comics – as there was no late night hang out in the early days.  Now late shows are the norm during the Fringe.  The Fringe has changed and become the biggest arts festival in the world. I am only glad that I can still be a part of it and contribute with good shows.

THE MUMBLE : How has the comedy world changed since you first started out?
KAREN: There was a greater camaraderie when I first started. There weren’t too many comics and they all liked hanging out and learning from each other. The material was a little angrier in the Maggie Thatcher years, more political, its not so much now and I am pleased to say that there are much more women doing it now; there was only Jo Brand and a handful of others back then. I would say though, that comedy has changed for the better, there is more competition, which means the comics have to work harder at being good.

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THE MUMBLE : A couple of years ago, you handed over SOME of the reins to your daughter. Did you feel she as keen on comedy as you were?
KAREN: Katy and I are working along side each other at the moment and she is still learning the ropes. Katy is very keen on comedy and making the Gilded Balloon the best venue on the Fringe. She is interested and looks towards the future. She has a good eye for comic talent and is enjoying the challenge of the Festival and the tours, That’s Fife and promoting our work and performances throughout the year.

THE MUMBLE : That’s Fife has just started, can you tell us about the Festival?
KAREN: That’s Fife has lots to offer, its great to get an opportunity to have Elaine C Smith on at the opening Gala. It has been a while since she has performed at Glenrothes. Alan Davies is back with stories from bringing up his young family.  Grant Stott brings his “Tales from Behind the Mic” and the very successful Doll’s Abroad are back after a sellout at the Alhambra earlier in the year.  The Burnistoun boys are also in the programme with their new show Uncles. There is lots more with Funbox for kids, Horse McDonald in Careful and Scotland’s National Poet Liz Lochead all performing.

THE MUMBLE : What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Karen Koren?
KAREN: There is lots happening this year – but right now concentrating on getting a good programme together for this year’s Fringe. We have some exciting shows coming and there will be an announcement in a few weeks about an exciting new venue that we will be working with. We will also have a small venue all year round from September time. Watch this space!