How to make the most of Edinburgh Fringe with Nigel Lovell

 

 

When it comes to keeping busy, Leyton- based comedian Nigel Lovell certainly knows how. As well as running the monthly comedy night “Oh So Funny”in Leyton, which has hosted big names such as Hal Cruttenden, Alan Davies and Russel Kane, he has been taking shows up to Edinburgh Fringe for the past five years. This year is no exception, with him taking not one, but three shows up to the festival. TBWMYL caught up with him and asked him and asked him to share his secrets on making the most of the festival.

 

How and why did you get started in stand up?
I was having a bit of a bad time of things. I’d been made redundant, dumped by my girlfriend and then my mum  died. I started looking for another accountancy job, when it struck me that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life adding up numbers for a living. I wondered what else I’d like to do with my life and thought, “Stand up comedy, I’d be brilliant at that.”  I did a course at Keith Palmer’s Comedy School in London and quickly discovered that comedy isn’t quite as easy as I had thought it might be.

 

Tell me a bit about the shows you are taking to Edinburgh Fringe this year.

This year I’ve got 3 shows at the fringe, and I’m really excited by all of them.

The first is “The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen” which is on at 12.10pm at the New Town Theatre (Freemasons Hall, 96 George Street, New Town, EH2 3DH) in conjunction with The Stand.  It’s an improvised storytelling show that is suitable for anyone aged 10+ , all based on the fabulous stories of Baron Munchausen.  It should be a lot of fun.

The second is “Worst Show on the Fringe”.  Now in it’s 5th year, Worst Show on the Fringe is the compilation show where all the guests must have had a one star review at some point in their past.  It’s on at Subway (formerly Movement), 69 Cowgate, Old Town EH1 1JW at 2.30pm every day. It’s a PWYW gig through the PBH Free Fringe and we’ve got some fantastic guests lined up including several Perrier Award nominees and a number of big TV name acts too.

My other show is a two hander that I’m sharing with Alex Love. It’s called “Love and Lovell’s Comedy Love-In” and it’s at Barbados (Room 1) on Cowgate at 4.15pm on the 9th and 16th August and at Ciao Roma (64 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1LS) at 8.20pm on the 8th, 15th and 22nd August.  The show hasn’t got an overarching theme, it’s just Alex and myself being funny for 30 minutes each. We’re hoping that from this we’ll germinate the seeds of next year’s show.

 

 

How many times have you performed at Edinburgh?

I’ve been going to the fringe for 7 years, but I just did spots on other people’s shows for the first 2 years. I also spent those 2 years watching a lot of shows and seeing what worked and what didn’t, and I found that really useful. I’ve been taking my own shows up the for the last 5 years.

 

Best and worst Fringe memory?

So many great memories of Edinburgh, it’s hard to pick just one. Having Barry Cryer laughing at one of my jokes; playing cricket and having my bowling described as “Tight and threatening” and my batting as “textbook” by Blowers; singing “Parklife” on stage with Massaoke in front of a packed final night audience. I do remember queuing to see a show in the Pleasance courtyard with some friends who’d come up from London and whilst we were waiting, Phill Jupitus came up to me and  started chatting, asking how my show was going etc.  That was really quite lovely, my friends were dead impressed, it made it feel as if I wasn’t an “outsider” and that I had every right to be at the fringe.

Worst memory?

A few years ago I had a lovely show called “My First Laugh” where I interviewed acts about how they started in comedy. It was a really good show, but unfortunately it was scheduled in the wrong place at the wrong time and audience numbers were dire. I was in a room that sat 150 and I’d have 7 or 8 in the audience. In the end, we used to get the whole audience on stage with us and we’d do the interviews up there with them sitting with us. It was heartbreaking to have so few people in every day.  You do learn from experiences like that though.

 

Why do you think that performing at Edinburgh is a goal for so many aspiring comics?

 

It’s interesting, in Dave Cohen’s book, “How to be Averagely Successful at Comedy” one of his biggest bits of advice is to ignore the Fringe. Yet we all still do it.  Personally, I love Edinburgh and the fringe. There is no other place where you can perform so many times, to so many people, on so many types of show, with so many different comedians, in the world.

Edinburgh gives you a freedom to try stuff that you just wouldn’t be able to do in a comedy club set. It gives newer acts the opportunity to do longer sets than they would be doing in clubs. I see newer acts who might be doing 10 minute spots on comedy nights for the rest of the year getting up and doing 20’s on a split bill in Edinburgh. It helps them develop and hone that so that when they are called to do an opening 20 at a club they have that skill.

To be fair, I’ve also seen some acts who have a ropey 5 minutes attempt an hour, but that’s one of the beauties of the fringe too.

 

Do you have any advice for taking a show to Edinburgh or performing at fringe festivals in general?

I can only talk about the Edinburgh fringe really as it is the only one I do. There is loads of advice that I could give but I’ll try and keep it short.

Plan – Planning your show is really important. Give the show a catchy name that tells people what the show is. Preview the show as much as you can. The more you preview it the better it will be. Having a good show is a lot about the preparation you put into it.

Budget – Make sure you can live on what you have for the month. Don’t go to Edinburgh planning to live on what you make from the show. Cooking for yourself is not only cheaper than getting takeaways all the time, but it’s also healthier.

Stay Healthy – Don’t try and be the party animal every night, you will end up looking and feeling awful. Try and eat healthily and join a gym/pool if you can. I spend more time at the gym in Edinburgh than I do for the rest of the year put together.

Flyer – You might hate flyering, but learn to love it. No one is better at selling your show than you are, so get out there and tell people about it. Smile when you flyer, you are trying to convince someone to come to something that will make them happy – they are more likely to come if you look as if you are enjoying it.

Don’t Be a Dick – This should go without saying, but don’t be a dick. Don’t slag off other people’s shows to punters, don’t try and steal punters who are already queuing for a show, don’t turn up at someone else’s show and heckle. Everyone hears about everything that happens at Edinburgh, don’t let the gossip be about you!

Enjoy It – I think Edinburgh is a brilliant city and I love the fringe. Embrace it and enjoy it, there’s nothing like it anywhere else.

Check out Nigel at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 4th -28th August or catch him at his monthly comedy night “Oh So Funny” at O’Neills Pub in Leytonstone.

http://www.ohsofunny.co.uk/about/

Check out his stand up below:

 

Stand up Spotlight: Charming the Audience with Connor Armitstead

With his quiet confidence and the ability to win over an audience with the first punchline, it’s hard to believe that Portsmouth-based comic Connor Armitstead only started stand up last September. In fact in the last ten months Connor has already performed fifty gigs, including one in Cannes, France and runs his own stand up nights in Gosport  under the 50Fifty Entertainment 
banner – “we have an Open Mic new act/new material night, and 18+ showcase and a 12a rated show where comics can come do clean sets to broaden their skill set.”  It’s safe to say that he’s serious about making people laugh.
Connor has always been interested in the entertainment industry and
even auditioned for the X Factor in 2009. But it’s on the stage telling jokes where he really hits the right notes.However, stand up was something he got into by chance:
 “One evening I went to a local comedy show in Portsmouth and managed to convince myself that I could do that. I asked the promoter (Michael Frankland) to put me on his next show and he said no – BUT offered to take
 me to an Open Mic night in Brighton. I had my first gig for Kayo Opebiyi at Junkyard Dogs – and told no one it was my first time. I loved the rush of getting my first laugh and have stuck with it ever since.”
Whether he’s  cracking cracker style jokes or making himself the butt of the joke  ( “I’ve inherited quite a few things from my mum, the main one being her tits”), Connor’s cheerful and down to earth persona has the audience warming to him instantly. It doesn’t matter if he’s got a proper stage or a corner in a noisy pub to perform in, Armitstead stands his ground and makes the most of his performances by making the audience feel like supportive, if not at times verbally abusive friends. And whilst many fledgling comedians dread heckles, Connor is as unphased as a seasoned professional and even thrives on the audience participation. In fact, he uses it to his advantage and incorporates it into his act as much as possible, by getting the audience to randomly select one liners to end on and even helping them out with their love life. When Connor is on stage it doesn’t feel like it’s a case of audience and performer, but rather a conversation between old friends. 

It’s fair to say that Connor has come a long way in his first year. As his confidence on stage grows and his routine tightens, I can only imagine that his second year in stand up will be his biggest and funniest yet.

Catch Connor on  28th August at Kingfisher Caravan Park at Lee-on-the-Solent, or go alone to his comedy nights at The Seahorse Pub in Gosport on  9th August (Open Mic) and 12th August (showcase night). Or find him on YouTube at  Connor Armitstead .

 

Stand up Spotlight: Pokemon Go and the Ugly Truth of Tinder with Michael Frankland

 

 

 

With delivery as slick and jokes as sharp as his suits, Portsmouth-based Comedian  Michael Frankland has no qualms ridiculing anything in his decidedly blunt stand up, least of all himself.

South Coast Comedian of the Year finalist Michael offers up unique and witty observations which vary from random musings, like about how the discoverer of Oranges lacked imagination in the naming of them, whilst whoever first found Bananas was too creative; to the  more dark and cutting one liners-  “my ex wanted me to treat her like a princess, so I did. I took her to Paris… and then killed her in a car crash”.

Whatever he’s talking about, be it badly dubbed Kung Fu films or the comparisons between Pokemon Go and Tinder ( one helps you find weird creatures in your local area, the other is a Pokemon game), Frankland delivers material that is original, clever and so close to the line that you feel bad for laughing, if only for a second or two.  But what really stands out about Micheal is his brilliantly dead pan delivery and stead fast persona which is reminiscent of comedy big guns like Jimmy Carr and just as well executed.

He may be relatively new to stand up, but there’s nothing about his performances that says beginner. In fact, with a clear comedy alter ego and razor sharp material, Michael would seem as  at home on “Live at the Apollo” as he does doing open mics in Pubs.

Be sure to catch Michael at The Jolly Sailor Pub in Southsea on 23rd July 2017 or check him out on YouTube at frankland88

 

Dear BBC, we should be encouraging all female comic talent, regardless of postcode

To begin, yes I acknowledge that a ranty post seems a bit of out of place on a blog whose title promises laughter, not negativity and, yes, I also realise that this being the first post doesn’t really set us off on the right foot, and for that I apologise like the bumbling Brit that I am. However, something caught my eye that annoyed me so much that I couldn’t help but write about it.

Whilst scrolling through Facebook during a mindless session of procrastination, I saw a post that immediately stopped my scrolling and had me clicking on the link quicker than you could say “unemployed student”.  It was the news that the BBC are introducing a new bursary to help female comics, in honour of comedy writer-performer Caroline Aherne, who sadly passed away last year. “Finally!” I thought, and was already mentally filling in my application. As a young female starting out in stand up, with aspirations of writing and starring in my own sitcoms a la Miranda Hart or Lee Mack, opportunities like this are a chance to get  recognition and encouragement in a high competitive and sadly still male dominated industry.

However, amidst the writing of my acceptance speech for winning the BAFTA for best sitcom ( if there is a BAFTA for that, I’m a bit rusty on the television ones, they always seem to pass me by), something cut my (imaginary) career plans short. The bursary is only open to Northern Women.

We’re not  yet in a position where we can focus on encouraging a certain female demographic to come forward. Women are seriously underrepresented in TV comedy shows. Period. You need only look at the main panel shows to work that out.  Out of the big hitters, only QI has a female host, with Sandy Toksvig taking over from Stephen Fry last year, and of the BBC shows she is the only permanent female host. Both “Have I got news for You” and “Mock the week” are constantly male-dominated with the former only ever having one female guest on the panel per episode, making her in a sense the “token women” and the latter using the same 2-3 female comics again and again, with Angela Barnes appearing on three episodes in a row this series, although she isn’t team leader and this isn’t done with the male guest comedians. Furthermore, of the sixteen currently running sitcoms on the BBC, only five feature female writers on their writing teams, with only two having a women as the head writer.

If the BBC was bursting at the seams with female comics who spoke in received pronunciation to the extent that anyone north of the M25 couldn’t get a look in, I’d say yes BBC, mix it up a bit, but it’s not. We need more female faces on on “live at the Apollo” , we need female hosts and gender balanced panel shows. We need female comics on shows not because they’re the “token female”,but because they’re hilarious and deserve to be seen. And for goodness sake, we need more women in the writing rooms. We are capable of coming up with good ideas if you let us.

It’s great that the BBC are acknowledging  this issue and are trying to put a scheme in place to support new talent, but eligibility shouldn’t be based on Postcode. Restricting something like this to one area of the country means thousands of ideas and potential stars are being overlooked. We already have it harder in this industry and have to overcome prejudice before we grab the mic or step into the writer’s room. Why put another obstacle in the way?

 

Here is the link to the orginal article:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40610460

I think we should really be making some noise about this. Please share this, tweet people in the business and let’s show them that it isn’t OK to leave people out in a group that is already overlooked in this industry.

Until next time (when I’ll be less annoyed, I promise!)

Stella