Tag Archives: XS Malarkey

Updated Gig List 2011 (May-December)

I have just done an updated gig list with my agent to ensure I’m neither double booked nor unemployed, so I may as well share for those of you who like to plan far too far ahead to be remotely healthy.

Please note that I only link a comedy club on its first entry, and that some of the tour dates are a bit vague. I’m pleased to observe that as well as my usual roster of fine comedy haunts, I’ve added both Highlight and the Comedy Cafe as places I’ll be MCing relatively frequently.

For those new to this domain, I can be found at the award winning (nay, legendary) Manchester comedy Club XS Malarkey every Tuesday, at another award winner, The 99 Club in Leicester Square, every Wednesday, and at The Comedy Store in Manchester every other Sunday (generally – it’s worth checking as we sometimes get moved about: it’s always twice a month though) to do the fantastic New Stuff night where established comics try out brand new material. I’m also touring Now I Know My BBC and Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf intermittently.

Do come to say hello if you can.

May
12-14th – Stand, Edinburgh (set)
17th – XS Malarkey (MC) (Special Guest Headliner – name embargoed due to fame!)
18th – 99 Club, Lecester Square (MC)
21st – Now I Know My BBC, Arts Depot, Finchley
22nd – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
24th – XS Malarkey (MC), Junior Simpson Headlining
25th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
28th – Now I Know My BBC, Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, North Yorkshire
31st – XS Malarkey, (MC)

June
1st – 99 Club, Leicester Square
5th – Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Loughborough Town Hall
7th – XS Malarkey (MC)
8th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
12th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
14th – XS Malarkey (MC), Sean Percival Headlining
15th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
19th – New Stuff, Comedy Store (MC, tbc)
21st – XS Malarkey (MC) Carey Marx Edinburgh Preview
22nd – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
24th – Red Card Comedy, Milton Keynes, (MC, with Nick Revell from Slipback, Who fans)
28th – XS Malarkey (MC) Edinburgh Preview
29th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
30th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)

July
1st-2nd – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool, MC
5th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Edinburgh Preview
6th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
10th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
12th – XS Malarkey (MC), Matt Kirshen Edinburgh Preview
13th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
15th – Special Doctor Who related day, tbc
19th – XS Malarkey (MC) Jason Cook Edinburgh Preview
20th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
21st – 23rd – Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)
26th – XS Malarkey (MC)
27th – 99 Club, Leicester Square
29th & 30th – Highlight, Camden (MC)
31st – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester

August
2nd – XS Malarkey (MC)
3rd – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
5th & 6th – Frog and Bucket, Preston (MC)
9th – XS Malarkey (MC)
10th – 99 Club, Leicester Square
12th & 13th – Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)
14th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester
16th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
17th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
19th & 20th – Highlight, Camden (MC)
21st – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester

Sept
6th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Loretta Maine Headlining
7th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
10th – Special Doctor Who related day tbc
11th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
13th – XS Malarkey (MC) Tom Stade Headlining
14th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
16th & 17th – Highlight, Birmingham (MC)
20th – XS Malarkey (MC) Patrick Monahan Headlining
21st – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
22nd – 24th – Comedy Cafe, Shoreditch (MC)
25th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
27th – XS Malarkey (MC) Sol Bernstein Headlining
28th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)

Oct
4th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
5th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
9th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
11th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Andy Robinson Headlining
12th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
13th – 15th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)
16th – Sheffield (Headlining)
18th – XS Malarkey (MC) Danny Ward Headlining
19th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
20th – 22nd – Comedy Cafe, Shoreditch (MC)
24th – potential North-West Now I Know My BBC date
25 th – XS Malarkey (MC) The Boy With Tape On His Face Headlining
26th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
28t & 29th – Highlight, Reading (MC)
30th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)

November
1st – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Daliso Chaponda Headlining
2nd – 99 Club, Leicester Sqaure (MC)
3rd – 5th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)
8th – XS Malarkey (MC)
9th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
11th-12th – Doctor Who event tbc
13th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
15th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
16th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
18th & 19th – Highlight, Leeds (MC)
27th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
29th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
30th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)

December
2nd – Nantwich
6th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Caimh McDonnell Headlining
7th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
11th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
13th – XS Malarkey (MC)
14th – 99 Club, Leicester Square
15th -17th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)
20th – XS Malarkey Christmas Party (Reveller)

Gig List Jan – April 2011

Just a quick update on my movements between January and April. I’ve a lot of TV warm-ups in the first three months of the year, so there’s been very little time to squeeze anything in apart from my regualar gigs, as you’ll notice below. Brilliantly though, my roster of residencies has expanded, and I’m proud to start work as the permanent Wednesday night host of the brilliant 99 Club in Leicester Square. There will also be a few more Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf dates, as there are still venues very keen to put the show on and I’m more than happy to oblige. The tour of Now I Know My BBC kicks off in April at the Ustinov Theatre in Bath, which is great news as Moths … has been there for three stints and sold out every time.

8th Jan
Wimbledon, MC

9th Jan
New Stuff, Comedy Store, MC.

11th Jan
XS Malarkey, MC (Greg Cooke headlining)

12th Jan
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

13th Jan
Roar With Laughter, GJs, SW19

18th Jan
XS Malarkey, MC (Mike Newall headlining)

19th Jan
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

20th Jan
Leytonstone (opening 20)

21st Jan
Bolton Albert Halls, MC

22nd Jan
Opus, Printworks, Manchester, MC

25th Jan
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

26th Jan
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

28th Jan
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf
Alleyn’s School, Dulwich

30th Jan
New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester, MC

1st Feb
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

2nd Feb
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

4th & 5th Feb
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf
Hull Truck Theatre 01482 323638
Email: boxoffice@hulltruck.co.uk

8th Feb
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

9th Feb
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

11th – 12th Feb
South Bank, MC

13th Feb
New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester

15th Feb
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

16th Feb
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

18th Feb
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf
Little Theatre, Chorley
01257 264362

19th February
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf
The Pounds Arts Centre, Corsham
7:30pm, 01249 701628 £8 (£7)

22nd Feb
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

23rd Feb
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

27th Feb
New Stuff, The Comedy Store, Manchester, MC

1st March
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

2nd March
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

5th March
Wimbledon, MC

8th March
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

9th March
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

13th March
New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester, MC

15th March
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

16th March
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

22nd March
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

23rd March
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

25th – 26th March
Frog & Bucket, Preston, MC

27th March
New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester, MC

29th March
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

30th March
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

31st March
Norwich

5th April
XS Malarkey, Manchester, MC

6th April
99 Club, Leicester Square, MC

8th-9th April
Now I Know My BBC – Bath

10th April
New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester, MC

Updated Gig List : Sept – Dec 2010

OK, Edinburgh is done and dusted, so here’s what’s going on for the rest of the year.

It’s a little quiet from October onwards as frankly I’ve been away too much this year so I’m doing a lot of work that keeps me at home (especially as Now I Know My BBC will begin touring in 2011 – the first date is booked in already!).

I’m doing a couple of jobs in the next month that will take up most of my time, but I can’t talk about them yet. They’re exciting though, good work that I will relish. I’m also going through the edits of Running Through Corridors which is taking shape nicely (if I’m found murdered in the next few months, patient and thorough Mad Norwegian Press editor-in-chief Lars Pearson must be considered prime suspect, as I’m sure I’ve stretched his good nature to snapping point with my pernickety notes and feedback).

I am allowed to talk about one thing – during October (from the second week) and November, I shall be the temporary replacement for the Voice Of The Daleks himself, Nick Briggs (who is taking to the stage in Doctor Who Live!), as the Voice Of The 7th Dimension for the wonderful BBC 7. The team there, especially my producer Martin Dempsey, have made me feel very welcome. Have a listen, I will say the odd amusing thing and sneak in the occasional Quatermass reference.

Here is my gig list – there are more events at XS Malarkey than merely the ones I MC, so check out the website:

Tuesday 21st Sept
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, with Ivor Dembina)

Thur 23rd – Sat 25th Sept
Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)

Sun 26th September
Comedy Store, Manchester (New Stuff, MC)

Tues 28th September
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Super Special Birthday bash – 3 headliners and lots of fun!)

Friday 1st October
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf – Cranleigh, Surrey

Sunday 10th October
Comedy Store, Manchester (New Stuff, MC)

Tuesday 12th October
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Kent Valentine headlining)

Thursday 14th – Saturday 16th October
Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)

Tuesday 19th October
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, with Noel James and Hils Barker)

Friday 22nd October
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Leamington

Saturday 23rd October
Downstairs At The King’s Head, Crouch End (MC)

Tuesday 26th October
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Nige headlining)

Tuesday 2nd November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Tanya Lee Davies headlining)

Tuesday 9th November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, The Boy With Tape On His Face headlining)

Tuesday 16th November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Sally-Anne Hayward headlining)

Friday 19th November
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Cirencester

Monday 22nd November
Mirth On Monday, Manchester (Headlining)

Tuesday 23rd November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Miles Jupp headlining, and probably lots of jokes celebrating Doctor Who’s birthday)

Friday 26th – Saturday 28th November
Chicago TARDIS, Chicago, USA (including a performance of Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf)

Tuesday 30th November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Elis James headlining)

Friday 3rd – Saturday 4th December
Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)

Tuesday 7th December
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)

Saturday 11th December
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Tonbridge, Kent

Sunday 12th December
Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)

Tuesday 14th December
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)

Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th December
Opus, Manchester (MC)

If there has been any fighting in the dance floor, I haven’t seen it.

4 EDINBURGH FRINGE 2010 REPORT NUMBER FOUR

Saturday 14th –  Tuesday 17th

Saturday

Saturday, Saturday. Tiswas day, Doctor Who day. Or in the case of Edinburgh, just another performance/walking up hills/promising to see too many other shows day. The Now I Know My BBCs are all blurring but I think I’m settling into a rhythm. I have to be very careful with the ending – there is a reveal that people don’t guess unless I really heavily lay the groundwork and thread the theme blatantly throughout the show. It obviously wasn’t clear enough in the first week but seems to be hitting home more now.

This is what happens when you do a show every day – you really trim it, make it clearer and ad lib better jokes whilst in the moment. It’ll be about 25% better as a show when I finish on August 29th. Because of the overruns I actually sat down with the script and trimmed and rejigged – there’s no point just resting on one’s laurels, and I may do a further rewrite next week. We’ll see. I note the irony that in a show that maintains that the audience aren’t as stupid as television people assume them to be, I’ve had to spell something out to make it clearer to the audience, which might actually mean that … (ahem)

I went to see my first show (I vowed this year to not even pretend I was going to anything in the first week). Jeremy Lion Goes Green had me doubled up with laughter – what a virtuoso performance from the enormously talented Justin Edwards (ably assisted by a beguilingly deadpan Gus Brown). For those who haven’t caught up with this phenomenon, Lion is an alcohol sodden children’s entertainer whose awful shows are replete with sequestered cans of Special Brew, hopeless props and staggering theatrical ineptitude. And are hilarious. Doing something badly well is an art, and Edwards has his shtick so well honed he’s at Turner Prize level. There’s pathos too, a show-stopping ending, some terrific songs and an absolutely splendid comedy of errors involving ventriloquist’s dummies. I will also be flabbergasted if anyone watching doesn’t have the song lyrics “Rim-nim-a-nim” dancing merrily through their head for days on end afterwards. Even thinking about it now is making me chuckle. A genuine treat of a show. And I’m not being biased because I was I was at university with Justin. I had never seen his creation live before, but the critical acclaim he has received is well deserved. I hooked up with his former collaborator and old pal of mine George Cockerill. We had a good old natter and catch up and it is insane we reacquaint ourselves in a city hundreds of miles away from the one we both actually live in. Justin is married to the heavily pregnant Lucy Porter. I know Lucy from my early days as a stand-up, but she didn’t know Justin then, though I did. Confusing, these intertwined lives. As the evening went on to prove …

In the Brookes Bar at The Pleasance Dome, George and I caught up with Justin and Lucy. Gus was also there, with the actor Rufus Jones, who was in a play with a great friend of mine at The Royal Exchange some years ago. Rufus and I met there and I’ve been pleased to see him pop up on telly being good in stuff ever since. His show, No Son Of Mine, is being produced by James Seabright, who is in charge of me. When talking to Gus and Rufus, I noticed an advertising hoarding (for Spotlight) up at the bar which featured a big picture of a friend of mine, Madeleine Worrall, a terrific actress and a pal I’ve kept in touch with since A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Exchange some years ago. I texted Madge as it tickled me to see her writ large (especially as it wasn’t a custom made picture for the advert – it was a randomly chosen theatre shot that she would have had no idea had been co-opted for this purpose). About a minute after that, Gus, to whom I’d not mentioned this, got a text. From Madeleine. She was on her way to that very bar. She knows both Gus and Rufus of old but not through each other or me. What a delight, and I proceeded to reel with all the mad strange coincidence of this. And then with consumption of white wine. Then Emma Atkins magically appeared in the corner – I’ve known her since pre-Emmerdale days when we acted together in a number of plays written by … Adam Riches, who I haven’t worked with since then till – this very Fringe.

Spooky, spooky spook.

Madeleine Worrall threatens to short out the time differential by meeting her photographic self

It was a convivial evening and I seem to recall bumping into Paul Sinha and telling him how brilliant he is (and he is, his show Extreme Anti White Vitriol which he previewed at XS Malarkey, is passionate, searingly intelligent, brutally funny, but shot through with decency and no little fire).

Sunday

George very kindly came to see Now I Know My BBC from which I’d managed to shave off 12 mintes from the previous overrun. That’s seven minutes short. My A For Androemda joke can’t have been that long surely? Weird. We caught up afterwards and the time simply flew by so we had to hightail it to the Dome to catch up with Justin, Madeleine, Gus and Rufus. The Roaring Boys were also there playing pool – they’re on before me and never fail to dispense a cheery greeting when I arrive after they’ve come off. They got a five star review the other day which is great and couldn’t have been given to two nicer fellows (and since I first wrote this, have earned another – good for them!).

A five minute phone call to my lovely wife turned into a half an hour one so I had to wave to Justin and George as they left for a show, all the while blowing kisses down the phone to Italy. Then to the Gilded Balloon where Jason was having birthday drinks. Wine and Hadoke combined to hopefully not disastrous effect, though I think I keep showing people pictures of my wife because I think she’s very beautiful and miss her. I suspect she’s not doing the same in Italy – “Look sophisticated Mediterranean types, this is the portly, pasty English thing that’s waiting for me when I get home, aren’t I lucky?”.  Agent and confidant and all round level headed ego wrangler Lee Martin’s wonderful Mum was up, enjoying herself and clearly proud of her son, and loads of the Manchester crew were about. Drink, familiar friendly faces, fun conversation, illustrious comics milling about – some corner of a foreign field that is forever XS Malarkey…. It was good to see everyone, and to enjoy chatting to, and celebrating the success of, fellow Gag Reflex acts (and married couple) Lilli La Scala and The Boy With Tape On His Face. They have both earned a number of hugely complimentary reviews (for totally different shows, independent of each other) and couldn’t be nicer people (and have now probably seen quite enough pictures of my wife).

Monday

Fringe showcase at the Pleasance Courtyard was done in the fug and wooziness of my previous night’s over indulgence. I got away with it and what a great, packed out and good value afternoon show it was. All the acts – John Robins (who gets Brownie points for doing the offstage mic announcement to get me on and pronouncing my name correctly), Danny Ward, Asher Treleaven and Gareth Richards – were spot on. Much fun was had by me being awkward about the fact that there were twelve year olds in the front row. I managed to make a virtue of not swearing, but Danny dropped the C-bomb to hilarious effect.

Desperate for a curry, I actually resorted to making my own, but it was worth is. Yum yum. The National Student allayed my fears by giving me Four Stars. I’d thought they may be a bit young, would reject my nostalgia and not forgive the uncertainty of an early gig. The List joined in with Three – a fair review of a choppy and under-energised show, from a few days ago, in which I stumbled a bit. They got the ending, which I’d worked hard to get right, and praised it, which is an important breakthrough. No complaints, though it seems that reviewers of my age like to apologise on the show’s behalf for “80’s nostalgia” when actually all the references to old telly highlight thematic elements of the show rather than being “do you remember so-and-so” nonsense. Interesting that the student paper had no problem with it, and didn’t add the “you probably have to be of his age” caveat. It was the same with Moths, where all the  newspaper reviewers who were self confessed Whovians dropped a star, with a self flagellating “Well, I like Doctor Who, but you might not so…”. The best reviews came from people who had no vested interest in, or had never seen, Doctor Who, so they could see beyond the umbrella theme to what the show was really all about (you know, the important stuff : imagination, love, family, goodness, and remembering cast lists). Interesting. Still, I knew I’d risk misunderstanding when I latched upon the ideas for the show, and I can’t spell it out any more. Again, it is so much better now anyway, but the critics can only review what they see, and as The List has crucified the odd person this year, I’m happy to have emerged unscathed.

Then a great show, with a pretty good house, with my Mum, brother and niece and nephew on the front two. A few comedians had a day off today and I noticed Dan McKee and Wil Hodgson there, lending much-appreciated support (unless it was the Tony Kinsella situation again and they have some doppelgangers augmenting audiences just to mess with our minds). I didn’t notice another gentleman till the end, who stayed behind to congratulate me and say it was good someone was supporting the BBC. Nicholas Parsons! Nicholas bloody Parsons! A legend and an honour and how thrilling that he should come along. Glad he and Mum and my mate Steve Berry all saw a good show. Tripped home with a spring in my step, and stayed up late but without drinking. Jason has bought an X-Box or somesuch, and so I vent my spleen on Call Of Duty 2: Modern Warfare. If this comedy lark fails, I’m pretty certain that there’s a future for me in special ops, saving the world from tyranny and insurgency with clinical, military precision. Oh yes.

Tuesday

This town, is ‘coming like a ghost town. Lots of comics have a day off at around this time, and the venues look a bit more sparse than usual. So I was expecting no-one in. And so it was a pleasant surprise that we had quite a nifty house, with some good mates up from London, off the train and straight in to see me. Another enjoyable hour (well, OK, hour and three minutes), free from too much uncertainty and stumbling. Two in a row that have come together nicely. So a break tomorrow to ruin any momentum I may have built up, of course.

Reports from XS Malarkey were that it was a bit quiet – do you hear me Manchester (shakes fist)? Support your local comedy club, especially in August. Hooray for Spider and Fishcake (codenames, no-one must uncover their true identities) for keeping their expert eyes on the place while the rest of us gallivant about here, lying about our intentions of going to see other shows and wondering just how much the human statues earn a day (and suspecting that they’re probably onto something – you don’t see them fretting about stars and reviews and audiences).

Missing home and family a bit more than I’m letting on to people, to be honest, and it isn’t easy. Everyone has their own frustrations and difficulties though, so you just plaster on a smile and get on with it. You don’t want to impose your hardships on others. Much better to hide such feelings and only note them down here, on the World Wide Web.

Jason Cook’s lovely wife Clare, who brings our flat a certain respectability and calm, returned to Manchester for one night only, so he and I saw out the day protecting the free world from computer generated hostility whenever Call Of Duty chose not to freeze on us. We’ll probably, therefore, spend tomorrow wondering around the flat in our pants. Because we can. There’s a thought for you all to take home with you.

Tickets for the big, spanking Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf are still available. Tell the universe!

If there has been any fighting in the dance floor, I haven't seen it.

4 EDINBURGH FRINGE 2010 REPORT NUMBER FOUR

Saturday 14th –  Tuesday 17th

Saturday

Saturday, Saturday. Tiswas day, Doctor Who day. Or in the case of Edinburgh, just another performance/walking up hills/promising to see too many other shows day. The Now I Know My BBCs are all blurring but I think I’m settling into a rhythm. I have to be very careful with the ending – there is a reveal that people don’t guess unless I really heavily lay the groundwork and thread the theme blatantly throughout the show. It obviously wasn’t clear enough in the first week but seems to be hitting home more now. This is what happens when you do a show every day – you really trim it, make it clearer and ad lib better jokes whilst in the moment. It’ll be about 25% better as a show when I finish on August 29th. Because of the overruns I actually sat down with the script and trimmed and rejigged – there’s no point just resting on one’s laurels, and I may do a further rewrite next week. We’ll see. I note the irony that in a show that maintains that the audience aren’t as stupid as television people assume them to be, I’ve had to spell something out to make it clearer to the audience, which might actually mean that … (ahem)

I went to see my first show (I vowed this year to not even pretend I was going to anything in the first week). Jeremy Lion Goes Green had me doubled up with laughter – what a virtuoso performance from the enormously talented Justin Edwards (ably assisted by a beguilingly deadpan Gus Brown). For those who haven’t caught up with this phenomenon, Lion is an alcohol sodden children’s entertainer whose awful shows are replete with sequestered cans of Special Brew, hopeless props and staggering theatrical ineptitude. And are hilarious. Doing something badly well is an art, and Edwards has his shtick so well honed he’s at Turner Prize level. There’s pathos too, a show-stopping ending, some terrific songs and an absolutely splendid comedy of errors involving ventriloquist’s dummies. I will also be flabbergasted if anyone watching doesn’t have the song lyrics “Rim-nim-a-nim” dancing merrily through their head for days on end afterwards. Even thinking about it now is making me chuckle. A genuine treat of a show. And I’m not being biased because I was I was at university with Justin. I had never seen his creation live before, but the critical acclaim he has received is well deserved. I hooked up with his former collaborator and old pal of mine George Cockerill. We had a good old natter and catch up and it is insane we reacquaint ourselves in a city hundreds of miles away from the one we both actually live in. Justin is married to the heavily pregnant Lucy Porter. I know Lucy from my early days as a stand-up, but she didn’t know Justin then, though I did. Confusing, these intertwined lives. As the evening went on to prove …

In the Brookes Bar at The Pleasance Dome, George and I caught up with Justin and Lucy. Gus was also there, with the actor Rufus Jones, who was in a play with a great friend of mine at The Royal Exchange some years ago. Rufus and I met there and I’ve been pleased to see him pop up on telly being good in stuff ever since. His show, No Son Of Mine, is being produced by James Seabright, who is in charge of me. When talking to Gus and Rufus, I noticed an advertising hoarding (for Spotlight) up at the bar which featured a big picture of a friend of mine, Madeleine Worrall, a terrific actress and a pal I’ve kept in touch with since A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Exchange some years ago. I texted Madge as it tickled me to see her writ large (especially as it wasn’t a custom made picture for the advert – it was a randomly chosen theatre shot that she would have had no idea had been co-opted for this purpose). About a minute after that, Gus, to whom I’d not mentioned this, got a text. From Madeleine. She was on her way to that very bar. She knows both Gus and Rufus of old but not through each other or me. What a delight, and I proceeded to reel with all the mad strange coincidence of this. And then with consumption of white wine. Then Emma Atkins magically appeared in the corner – I’ve known her since pre-Emmerdale days when we acted together in a number of plays written by … Adam Riches, who I haven’t worked with since then till – this very Fringe.

Spooky, spooky spook.

Madeleine Worrall threatens to short out the time differential by meeting her photographic self

It was a convivial evening and I seem to recall bumping into Paul Sinha and telling him how brilliant he is (and he is, his show Extreme Anti White Vitriol which he previewed at XS Malarkey, is passionate, searingly intelligent, brutally funny, but shot through with decency and no little fire).

Sunday

George very kindly came to see Now I Know My BBC from which I’d managed to shave off 12 mintes from the previous overrun. That’s seven minutes short. My A For Androemda joke can’t have been that long surely? Weird. We caught up afterwards and the time simply flew by so we had to hightail it to the Dome to catch up with Justin, Madeleine, Gus and Rufus. The Roaring Boys were also there playing pool – they’re on before me and never fail to dispense a cheery greeting when I arrive after they’ve come off. They got a five star review the other day which is great and couldn’t have been given to two nicer fellows (and since I first wrote this, have earned another – good for them!).

A five minute phone call to my lovely wife turned into a half an hour one so I had to wave to Justin and George as they left for a show, all the while blowing kisses down the phone to Italy. Then to the Gilded Balloon where Jason was having birthday drinks. Wine and Hadoke combined to hopefully not disastrous effect, though I think I keep showing people pictures of my wife because I think she’s very beautiful and miss her. I suspect she’s not doing the same in Italy – “Look sophisticated Mediterranean types, this is the portly, pasty English thing that’s waiting for me when I get home, aren’t I lucky?”.  Agent and confidant and all round level headed ego wrangler Lee Martin’s wonderful Mum was up, enjoying herself and clearly proud of her son, and loads of the Manchester crew were about. Drink, familiar friendly faces, fun conversation, illustrious comics milling about – some corner of a foreign field that is forever XS Malarkey…. It was good to see everyone, and to enjoy chatting to, and celebrating the success of, fellow Gag Reflex acts (and married couple) Lilli La Scala and The Boy With Tape On His Face. They have both earned a number of hugely complimentary reviews (for totally different shows, independent of each other) and couldn’t be nicer people (and have now probably seen quite enough pictures of my wife).

Monday

Fringe showcase at the Pleasance Courtyard was done in the fug and wooziness of my previous night’s over indulgence. I got away with it and what a great, packed out and good value afternoon show it was. All the acts – John Robins (who gets Brownie points for doing the offstage mic announcement to get me on and pronouncing my name correctly), Danny Ward, Asher Treleaven and Gareth Richards – were spot on. Much fun was had by me being awkward about the fact that there were twelve year olds in the front row. I managed to make a virtue of not swearing, but Danny dropped the C-bomb to hilarious effect.

Desperate for a curry, I actually resorted to making my own, but it was worth is. Yum yum. The National Student allayed my fears by giving me Four Stars. I’d thought they may be a bit young, would reject my nostalgia and not forgive the uncertainty of an early gig. The List joined in with Three – a fair review of a choppy and under-energised show, from a few days ago, in which I stumbled a bit. They got the ending, which I’d worked hard to get right, and praised it, which is an important breakthrough. No complaints, though it seems that reviewers of my age like to apologise on the show’s behalf for “80’s nostalgia” when actually all the references to old telly highlight thematic elements of the show rather than being “do you remember so-and-so” nonsense. Interesting that the student paper had no problem with it, and didn’t add the “you probably have to be of his age” caveat. It was the same with Moths, where all the  newspaper reviewers who were self confessed Whovians dropped a star, with a self flagellating “Well, I like Doctor Who, but you might not so…”. The best reviews came from people who had no vested interest in, or had never seen, Doctor Who, so they could see beyond the umbrella theme to what the show was really all about (you know, the important stuff : imagination, love, family, goodness, and remembering cast lists). Interesting. Still, I knew I’d risk misunderstanding when I latched upon the ideas for the show, and I can’t spell it out any more. Again, it is so much better now anyway, but the critics can only review what they see, and as The List has crucified the odd person this year, I’m happy to have emerged unscathed.

Then a great show, with a pretty good house, with my Mum, brother and niece and nephew on the front two. A few comedians had a day off today and I noticed Dan McKee and Wil Hodgson there, lending much-appreciated support (unless it was the Tony Kinsella situation again and they have some doppelgangers augmenting audiences just to mess with our minds). I didn’t notice another gentleman till the end, who stayed behind to congratulate me and say it was good someone was supporting the BBC. Nicholas Parsons! Nicholas bloody Parsons! A legend and an honour and how thrilling that he should come along. Glad he and Mum and my mate Steve Berry all saw a good show. Tripped home with a spring in my step, and stayed up late but without drinking. Jason has bought an X-Box or somesuch, and so I vent my spleen on Call Of Duty 2: Modern Warfare. If this comedy lark fails, I’m pretty certain that there’s a future for me in special ops, saving the world from tyranny and insurgency with clinical, military precision. Oh yes.

Tuesday

This town, is ‘coming like a ghost town. Lots of comics have a day off at around this time, and the venues look a bit more sparse than usual. So I was expecting no-one in. And so it was a pleasant surprise that we had quite a nifty house, with some good mates up from London, off the train and straight in to see me. Another enjoyable hour (well, OK, hour and three minutes), free from too much uncertainty and stumbling. Two in a row that have come together nicely. So a break tomorrow to ruin any momentum I may have built up, of course.

Reports from XS Malarkey were that it was a bit quiet – do you hear me Manchester (shakes fist)? Support your local comedy club, especially in August. Hooray for Spider and Fishcake (codenames, no-one must uncover their true identities) for keeping their expert eyes on the place while the rest of us gallivant about here, lying about our intentions of going to see other shows and wondering just how much the human statues earn a day (and suspecting that they’re probably onto something – you don’t see them fretting about stars and reviews and audiences).

Missing home and family a bit more than I’m letting on to people, to be honest, and it isn’t easy. Everyone has their own frustrations and difficulties though, so you just plaster on a smile and get on with it. You don’t want to impose your hardships on others. Much better to hide such feelings and only note them down here, on the World Wide Web.

Jason Cook’s lovely wife Clare, who brings our flat a certain respectability and calm, returned to Manchester for one night only, so he and I saw out the day protecting the free world from computer generated hostility whenever Call Of Duty chose not to freeze on us. We’ll probably, therefore, spend tomorrow wondering around the flat in our pants. Because we can. There’s a thought for you all to take home with you.

Tickets for the big, spanking Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf are still available. Tell the universe!

Updated Gig List

Just a quick update of what’s where, especially Edinburgh previews (the last one, in Huddersfield, was a blast):

GIG UPDATE

Tuesday 13th July
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Jason Cook Edinburgh Preview)

Wednesday 14th July
Robin Ince’s Book Club, Bloomsbury Theatre (with Josie Long, Phill Jupitus and others)

Tuesday 20th July
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Markus Birdman and Brendon Burns Edinburgh Previews)

Thursday 22nd July
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf – Lowestoft

Sunday 25th July
Now I Know My BBC (Preview) – Lancaster

Tuesday 27th July
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC Dan Nightingale, Seymour Mace, Gary Delaney Edinburgh Previews)

Wed 28th July
Oxford – Now I Know My BBC (Preview)

Thurs 30th July

London, New Diorama – Now I Know My BBC (Preview)

Fri 30th July
Worksop – Now I Know My BBC (Preview)

Sat 31st July
Bristol Tobacco Factory – Now I Know My BBC (Preview)

Tues 3rd August
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, with Alun Cochrane Edinburgh Preview)

August 2010

Edinburgh Fringe

5th – 29th August, Underbelly, Cowgate, 6.55pm
Toby Hadoke – Now I Know My BBC
Brand new Edinburgh show!

I’ll also be taking part in various other gigs during the Festival; – I’m already booked in for loads of F***ing Funny For A Fiver slots, Jason Cook’s late night show, and as a guest on Hardeep Singh Kohli’s cookery/comedy chatshow. Just keep an eye out, you’ll find me.

Plus –
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf returns to Edinburgh for one night only!
August 20th at the massive Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

For those not going to Edinburgh, remember to visit XS Malarkey every Tuseday:

10th August
XS Malarkey (MC Dan Nightingale, Paul Pirie headlining)

17th August
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC Dan Nightingale, Chris Cairns headlining)

24th August
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC tbc, Brendan Riley headlining)

Monday 30th August
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf – Newcastle

Tuesday 31st August
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Daliso Chaponda headlining)

Friday 3rd Sept
Please note – the Cineology Convention has been cancelled.

Tuesday 7th Sept
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Andrew O’Neill headlining)

Friday 10th Sept – Saturday 11th Sept
Covent Garden (MC)

Sunday 12th Sept
Comedy Store, Manchester (New Stuff MC)

Tuesday 14th Sept
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Rob Deering headlining)

Saturday 18th Sept
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf – Corsham

Tuesday 21st Sept
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Kent Valentine headlining, plus Ivor Dembina)

Thur 23rd – Sat 25th Sept
Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)

Sun 26th September
Comedy Store, Manchester (New Stuff, MC)

Tues 28th September
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Super Special Birthday bash – 3 headliners and lots of fun!)

Friday 1st October
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf – Cranleigh, Surrey

Oct – Dec gigs to follow.