Author: jopocalypse

Dire Straits

 Okay, this post is about my less-than-fortunate living situation here, but I am fully aware that I am in a position of  privilege as a white middle-class person with a British passport and a good university degree. Please, as you read it, play the song below, a song which is not by the band, Dire Straits, but by a different band called Pulp, Common People, to keep my words in perspective.

Once again, I am homeless and extremely jobless, which is actually the most authentic way to experience Berlin so that’s good, isn’t it?

Basically, in Germany you need to register with the municipal council (Buergeramt) in order to get an official address, a tax number, and get a proper contracted job. I’ve not been able to do that because I’ve been subletting all this time, because I’m too poor to get a proper place, so I’ve also had to get jobs that are cash in hand or based in the UK, which means I stay poor, so I can’t get a flat … etc. It’s frustrating, and not uncommon, and going from place to place has made this year very bizarre.

There was my friend Rafael’s place, a charming flat near Treptower Park with classic hipster pallet-shelves. I electrocuted myself in this flat! Definitely my favourite of the year.
Then there was the flat I sublet from a friend I met on Tinder. His apartment was a 2.5 room place where most of the kitchen was a shower. (Gross, but very good if you want to eat a hot lunch immediately after washing.) The flat also had many digital canvas prints, apparently of early 2000s Windows desktop backgrounds.
Then, there was the place I shared with up to 200 DJs. (Only one on the lease but he kept loaning his room out to other strange young men I wouldn’t even know were there until I bumped into them in the kitchen at 1am.) I was going to stay there till spring but then the boiler broke and the toilet broke and the gas was shut off because the stove broke and then I was told to the best way to get the landlord to fix everything was to move out immediately. That was just before my trip to Edinburgh, so I’ve now found a floor to sublet for this month while I try and scrape some money together and get somewhere permanent.

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I’m now quite used to scraping money together by whatever means I can. Over the last seven months, I have scrubbed floors and toilets, proofread dissertations, and took a background role in a porn film. (Me and a friend had to walk past a couple on the stairs and *react*. We’re both English so basically we just giggled nervously at the floor.) Most of my income has come from a couple of freelance jobs I picked up as a tour manager for youth choirs, amounting to about €1,200. A lot of the time it’s been very difficult, I’ve struggled, and I really didn’t know what the phrase “living hand to mouth” meant until this year. (But in fairness, it is a bit of a weird phrase.)
When I came back from Scotland to find myself back to square one, realised that I wouldn’t even be able to host my own brother and sister-in-law, who’ve been planning to come and stay with me since May, honestly – I felt truly ashamed.

[Feel free to start playing Common People again at this point.]

But I am, let’s not forget, incredibly incredibly lucky! This year has been really really tough at times, but it’s also been brilliant – when I appealed to my friends, looking for somewhere for Ben and Sasha to stay, so many people got in touch to offer beds, both for them and for me if I needed one. People offered to cook for me. People offered me airbeds even if they have some foot-blood stains on them. Although I am homeless, this city is really starting to feel like home, with the ace network of people I have here.

This year, somehow(!!!) I’ve even made money as a stand-up comedian, something I’d never have expected. The original motivation behind founding SAUCE, my own open mic night, was just to make ends meet and truly it’s one of the best things I have ever done. (Please don’t mistake this as an endorsement of the dangerous + hackneyed old idea that “you gotta be poor to make art! You gotta be hungry!”. It is rare to be able to make literally any money from stand-up this early in the game – I just live in Berlin where the scene is still small and pretty cheap. Being poor does not help me make art, it makes me sad and it makes me tired.) Making money from what I do, from what I love, is such a joy, such a boost to my confidence, a real f***-you to my imposter syndrome: I need the money to live, but it also reminds me that my voice, my creative output, has value. It’s crucial. If there’s something you love that you get for free, think about if there’s some way of sponsoring or supporting it – if it’s an artist, see if they have a Patreon or a PayPal or some way of contributing, it is so essential.

I guess what I’m saying is, pay artists always, and life is very very strange. I didn’t expect to be living like this at 26, or even this late into this year, because I sort of figured it would have worked itself out by now. But I also didn’t expect myself to move to Germany, start doing stand-up, and start my own show, so really, I shouldn’t underestimate myself, and anything is possible, and uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh reach for the stars I guess

WITCH HUNT! (Not that one)

Ah, oh, what a fab night!

After the Four Eyes storytelling night I performed at on Wednesday, I also went up at yet another lovely and great show hosted by Marne Litfin last night, WITCH HUNT. The line-up was entirely women, trans and non-binary performers, with some of my absolute favourite Berlin comedians on the Comedy Café Berlin stage. (CCB is so great and I really should watch and/or perform stuff there more often – the vibe there is so warm, so friendly, and you get shows there that are so much more quirky and original than in a lot of the traditional stand-up shows in town.)

Performing as part of an entirely w/t/nb line-up felt especially significant this week, given recent news of people who think it’s okay to make their colleagues watch them do a wank returning to the stage like that’s also just fine, naming no names. And it was so brilliant to see so many incredibly talented people get up onstage and just completely kill.

witch_hunt
found some witches

I changed around a bit of my material and put together a set I was worried would be a bit too rough but it actually went down really well! Put in tonnes of energy, played up my nervous/dorky/dweeby side, and felt the same kind of rush I did when guest-hosting Free Footlights or performing at Four Eyes the other day. When I’ve got people laughing at my most vulnerable side, it just feels incredible!

So I’d give myself maybe a 7/10 for that show (with 10 being the perfect set ever) but a 3/10 for sulking for a bit once it was over, since I ran out of time to do an extra bit I wanted to try. (It was taking the piss out of “female comedy” and it included a ***grammar joke*** that only I will probably ever like but still). This week is going to be mega intense as I am both jobless and quite homeless at the minute, so I have a lot of applications to do – but I really want to be writing new jokes every day, like I was when I was last in a full-time job. INTENSE INTENSE INTENSE ALL THE TIME INTENSE. But will also write a couple more blog posts because according to Statistics, some of you are reading them? Nice!!!!

i had one coffee okay

 

love you bye !!!

 

Friday Story: The Magic Crop Top

HELLO I’m back in Berlin finally and really missed it. It’s so much warmer than Edinburgh and so cool and great !!! I am totally exhausted and destroyed !!!! 

Wednesday night I went and performed at Four Eyes, a comic storytelling show on Dieffenbachstrasse. Although Andrew and I were both totally knackered from travelling and weren’t sure if we could make it, it was definitely the right call. Such a kind and cosy and funny evening with a lovely bunch of people! 

I told a story that I hadn’t 100% worked out before I told it so I figured it out this morning and thought I’d put it here for you to read, as part of a weekly story on the blog. There is some sex in this story (ew gross!!!) but I have signalled when it happens. A fun fact is that I had to deliver this story in front of a child !

THE MAGIC CROP-TOP

This is a Cinderella story about being young and starry-eyed and also a really great crop-top I used to own.

It was 2015. I was newly out of university, back living with my parents, and not at all famous. I wanted to make films, and had a real talent for telling people this.

When I wasn’t telling people I wanted to make films, I was working at an auction house in London as a lowly admin assistant, bringing forms and files to tall and willowy consultants with skin and hair that said “my dad owns land!”. Meanwhile, I was small, greasy and always wearing oversized men’s shirts and jackets and trousers, looking like an oiled-up Danny DeVito by comparison.

In other words, I was firmly at the beginning of my rags-to-riches story.

One night, while traipsing back home to Chorleywood after a long and exhausting night out drinking, my phone buzzed: an email from a Prestigious Film Festival about a networking event.

“Get your tickets to the Independent Filmmakers Ball!”

A push notification … from my fairy godmother?

Rather than a pumpkin or a handful of mice, all I needed to go to this ball was £22.50 and something to wear.

I chose something brand new that I was super excited about: a long-sleeved, backless crop-top, all-black, which I wore with a long black skirt. I would only ever wear black because actually, I was a very complicated person!

I could hardly wait. The ball was to be held the following Wednesday night, the most magical night of the working week. I finished up at work before quickly changing into my outfit in the toilets while the cleaner rolled her eyes at me.

Heart fluttering in my chest, I made my way into the ball, hosted at self-confessed nightclub, the Café de Paris. I just knew that tonight would be a night to remember. It’s like that line in The Lord of the Rings, “Tonight will be a night to remember.”

That’s when I saw him: Jake.

I’d met Jake in passing at another event earlier that year. He had a large and chiselled head like a really big block of marble. Something about his tall frame and cheekbones made me think that maybe we were meant for each other…?

At the Independent Filmmakers Ball, Jake was undoubtedly the prince, but if the prince also helped to organise the ball. Clothed in a tuxedo, he was seated at the entrance at a table covered in tarot cards. He saw me immediately, shot me a dreamy smile, and handed me one. I turned it over: it was the Star. He leaned in close.

“You can exchange it at the bar for a free can of organic cider!” he said.

Thank you, magic crop top !!!

After spending twenty minutes walking around trying to look very elegant and important while scanning everyone’s faces for famousness, I floated over to the bar. I met a make-up artist and 200 teenage men in anoraks trying to hand me business cards saying that they were writer-director-producer-actors. I didn’t have any business cards so I just scribbled my details down on pieces of paper alongside a sketch of me waving my arm, you know, how successful people do.

I handed over my Star card in exchange for a drink as Prince Jake had told me to. The organic cider manufacturer had sponsored the event, a shrewd move because their product tasted truly awful. Needless to say, I drank three of them, because nobody wanted to finish theirs. As I shuffled around the dance floor with the 200 anorak boy-men and the one make-up artist, I craned my head looking for Jake. He was busy darting from one group of people to another, and otherwise looking like a scaled-up plastic groom on a wedding cake.

I was getting anxious. At midnight, I’d have to get my last train back to Chorleywood and it was looking like the specialness of the night would never come. Although I’d had a nice time, where was the magic? Where was the romance? Could the Independent Filmmakers’ Ball just have been … a regular networking event?

The clock ticked away as my purse filled up with business cards and the raffle came and went. I didn’t win anything in the raffle, which wasn’t that surprising, since although I have participated in every raffle I have ever been at I have never won anything apart from once in 1999 when I got a £10 voucher from the local pet shop. You can’t buy a hamster or especially not a magic talking lion for £10 from Chorleywood Pet Shop so my mum spent it all on dog food.

It was almost time to go and I prepared myself to leave …  

… and then Jake lolloped into view, in slow-motion, the club lights haloing his magnificent and gorgeous head. This was the moment I’d been waiting for.

“H-hi!” I shouted over the music.

“Hey,” he shouted back. “I’m so glad you’re here; I really wanted to talk to you for longer when we met, but I was busy. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” I said. “I understand.”

“Do you -harmumarmum- attractive?” he asked.

“Sorry, what?” I yelled.

“DO YOU THINK I FIND YOU ATTRACTIVE?” he said.

Seems like a weird thing to ask me.

“Oh!” I said. “um. I don’t know?”

“What does THIS tell you?” he said and kissed me. No teeth, all tongue, quite (7/10?) slimy.

He lolloped away again to sort something else out with the event.

The clock chimed; I had missed my last train.

Magic crop top … what does THIS tell me?

My head was swimming. I’d need to find somewhere to rest for the night, but I couldn’t stay at any of the anorak people’s homes, I barely knew them besides drinking their horrible organic ciders.

There was only one person to turn to …

“Jake, I know this is an imposition but if it’s okay, could I maybe please crash at -”

“I’LL GET MY COAT” he yelled back.

Jake whisked me away, out to a big suburban house that looked a lot like a youth hostel on the inside. Jake lived in one room with no decorations or personal photos like a handsome + normal diamond in the rough, or maybe a serial killer.

I thought “this is fine.” The magical crop top would not have led me here for nothing!

I made to fall asleep in all my clothes but instead made out with Jake a lot which was quite nice.

[a bit with sex is coming now.]

 

[if you don’t want to read about the sex you should stop now.]

 

[okay, well, here goes]

 

Then Jake thought it would be an idea if we gave some sex a go and … well.

Jake was just rutting away like his life depended on it, in total silence, his eyes all bulging out of his great big head.

As I lay there, I knew that the Prince had turned into a frog. And this frog was not fun to have sex with.

It was very uncomfortable especially because he looked so angry and red while being so quiet, like maybe he was being strangled, so I mumbled “could you please – could you maybe talk to me, a bit?”

He growled, “Your pussy’s so tight and wet, I wanna fuck you in your pussy”

“PLEASE STOP, PLEASE STOP TALKING NOW!”

Jake finished having sex with me.

 

[the sex part is over now]

 

[you can read again. all you missed was: the sex was bad and gross!!!!]

 

Then Jake said he needed to wake up at 5am to go to his second job as a yoga instructor and I thought “wow I didn’t know I could hate you more?”

I slept as far away from him as I could for three fitful hours. At 5am, we got up, he pulled a beanie hat all the way over his head and I struggled back into my clothes from the previous day. As I strained to yank my tights back on he breathed, “you’re so sexy”.

“Oh, God,” I sighed.

I was seething, especially since I was going to be something like two and a half hours early for work before the office had even opened yet.

Just as we were about to leave – I couldn’t wait to get away from him – he said, very quietly, and a little sadly: “Today’s my birthday.”

Literally what more could you want from me at this point????? You already had sex with me????

But I just said “Happy birthday?” and walked out the door.

 

Epilogue: unexpectedly, I flippin’ CRUSHED it at work that day. Jake asked me out that afternoon and I rebuffed it. At first I felt a little bad because it’s not his fault that he is really gross, but then when I saw him again, at another networking event a year later, he warmly embraced the friend I’d come with and t-o-t-a-l-l-y ignored me. Looked straight through me as though I were a ghost he’d never even met, let alone one he’d had sex with.

The moral of the story is that magic crop tops maybe aren’t a thing. I have a magic playsuit now and that works much much better!  

Fringe Diary #12 : The End………….?

I don’t care WHAT you say, it’s not *art* unless it finishes with “The End…………………..?”

Well, here we are, the end of the festival. Andrew and I got up at 1:30pm. It is now 4:30pm and he has managed to fit an hour-long nap in that time.

Aaaand he’s just gone back to bed. Poor thing.

In fairness we’ve been out till 3am the last three nights. I felt very tired and groggy all day but dragged myself out to see Daniel Simonsen (a friend of Andrew’s from New York comedy). He was really really good – really like no one else I’ve seen. It was straight stand-up but he trained at Le Coq, the clowning school, so although his style was incredibly incredibly deadpan he had a slightly strange and alien element to his persona. Stand-up is often about making the familiar seem ridiculous, the performer takes things from their experience and they are made relatable to the audience. Watching Daniel’s set, it felt like I was taking a trip somewhere else – like being welcomed into his funny little world. It’s a bit tricky to explain.

After we saw Daniel and ate as much salt as possible in the space of 15 minutes we saw Kate Berlant’s Communikate. Ahhh Kate. She has such fab vaudeville energy, every single movement and vocal inflection was so performative and delightful to watch. Plus, her kind of slick and charismatic style, coming on stage and drawling that “the moon is obsessed with me; it followed me here” and that she was begged to do Edinburgh – it’s just so joyous. The self-conscious hyper self-deprecating style of a lot of stand-ups is really fun too but it’s very calming and nice to watch someone play at having a giant ego, I don’t know. It’s a very warm and sort of magnetic, attractive style that feels like having the most popular girl in school pay attention to you.

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After hitting several bars and bumping into a few of the acts I’ve mentioned in this blog and me trying – and failing – not to fangirl over them, we ended up in a little bus by the Pleasance Dome with a piano in it (anyone who is at the Fringe knows what I mean, anyone who isn’t – I’m sorry but this is exactly what it was). Andrew and two strangers ended up giving a very spirited rendition of a few songs from Hamilton while I talked to some clowns. Wow, it’s going to be fun for things to be dull again …

Anyway, I’ve got to go and try and put together something for a storytelling night on Wednesday. Storytelling is fun and scary because it tends to be more vulnerable – the crowd doesn’t really expect it to be packed with jokes, they’re there to hear how you really think and feel about an experience. I’m going to try and keep this blog up because it’s nice! So don’t worry, this isn’t the end.

 

or is it……………………………………….?

 

(it’s not)

Fringe Diary #11

Folks! We’re approaching the finish line! My final gig was last night! I am very sleepy! I tried to nap instead of write this but I’d already had a coffee so I couldn’t stop thinking about dipthongs!

I’m not sure that’s a common problem but it’s the truth!

My friend James brought a bunch of friends to Cosmic last night which was super sweet of him, especially since the place was totally totally rammed. The streets were all packed last night with people in town for the last weekend of the Fringe and so even Cosmic was sold out, standing room only.

I’m both pleased and a little annoyed with my set last night. After all the shows I’ve seen and loved here, my old material just seemed even less palatable to me than it did before I came to Edinburgh. Yeah, it’s neat and compact and witty, but that isn’t me! I want to do something that’s energetic and vulnerable and ecstatic not just like “did you guys hear that men … are bad?” There are loads of people who can do that kind of sarcastic cool thing really really well but I don’t think that’s me. So I sort of threw together a new way of delivering the set and it didn’t go over too well, it was too sloppy, but I’m so glad I gave it a go. Really. After how much I’d enjoyed emceeing the night before, the thought of going back to my old routine just didn’t feel right to me. Although the new stuff I tried wasn’t perfect, it felt like a step in the right direction though and I think it has legs. And who doesn’t like legs?

Now all I want to do is sleep but when my head hits the pillow it’s just bubbling away with ideas and plans and – and dipthongs apparently – but that feels right. It’s what I imagine having loud early-rising babies is a little bit like: you really want to sleep a bit longer and wish they could be quiet until you’re fully rested, but you’re very happy to have them regardless. I’m really optimistic about the next year to come! Can’t wait to have my own show here sometime! Can’t wait to get better at what I do! Can’t wait to be the best at what I do!

I’m going to dredge my adolescence for some funny trauma and think about venturing out into the rain for bread. Catch you later!

Fringe Diary #10

Hi again!!!!!

I feel incredible today. Yes I do. The sun is out. I just ate some avocado toast and some yoghurt and some grapes and I have had two coffees. I had a fancy brownie even though I definitely can’t afford a fancy brownie but I just love fancy brownies. I could eat 100 fancy brownies. Just try me. Especially if there is something weird in them like nuts or flowers or bits of gold.

Does anyone know a fancy brownie company that would like to sponsor a penniless comedian + her blog with a readership of 10 people? Let me know!!

Aaanyway, yesterday was one of my favourite days at the Fringe so far. After some flyering in the rain for Slanty-Eyed Mamas, who remain very great and cool megababes even if I was totally drenched afterwards, I saw Elf Lyons’s show ChiffChaff with Andrew and Kwame. It was Kwame’s choice and his treat actually (such a dreamboat!!!!) and I would have been so sorry to miss it because it was just a total delight. Again, in common with Rose’s and Demi’s shows, it was so silly, so vulnerable and absurd and mad and great and with so much talent behind it. There were a couple of technical faults at the start but because Elf completely took them in her stride. One element of the show that I really liked is that she gave some of the audience members tasks, at the beginning of the performance, e.g. one person had some maracas that they would need for a rendition of If I Were A Rich Man to come later on, Elf told another man in the front row that she would be “very sexually aggressive” towards him and asked for his consent, gave a woman a little bell to ring every time she found something funny “[so] you are totally responsible for my self-worth”. Everyone was already super invested in making the performance work, is what I mean, so when there was a problem with the microphone or something, the vibe in the audience seemed to be one of “we’ll get through this together!” I mean, Elf was obviously also super charming and charismatic too otherwise it wouldn’t have worked. Ah, it was so great. I was cackling away the whole time.

Lets get Fiscal.-2 - Elfy Lyons
*not representative of eyebrows in the actual performance

After the show, I rushed over to the Mash House for Free Footlights, which I ended up hosting at the last minute because somebody dropped out. I tell you guys, because I am trying to be as honest as possible here: it was by no means perfect. But it was hands down my favourite show I’ve done here. Watching Rose, Demi and Elf made me so much more excited about getting onstage, made me so much more confident in the sorts of things you can accomplish with a crowd, I don’t know. I just poured all of my energy into it, threw out my sarkier material, stuck to the sillier stuff, was honest about how I was unprepared but made sure to keep it funny. I hared through the acts to begin with which is a bad habit of mine, just because I’m not great at doing the patter in-between acts, but made up time partway through by getting everyone to join in with a knock-knock joke from HerInterest.com (I will blog about that another time). It was just so much fun. I did end up bringing on the last act by looking at my watch and saying “err um okay so how much more ado do you guys want?” which is by the way not a good question to ask a crowd who generally responds best to things they can either woo or shout a one-word response to. Little tip for you there.

It was a great vibe though and I left on such a high, the best best high I’ve had definitely. Ah, this is such a fun stupid thing to spend so much of my time doing. Fab.

Fringe Diary #9

oH NOOOO! no fringe diary yesterday???? have you deserted us?!?!?!
I hear you folks and don’t worry, I did write you one but didn’t have time to finish or publish what I was typing as I walked so here it is now!! 

The special feature of today’s fringe diary is that I am writing it on my phone as I march the two miles from Hetty’s into town. My legs are getting quite the workout in Edinburgh but don’t worry: I am still eating terribly!!

Yesterday was – excuse my French – flippin’ GREAT, once it got going. I’d booked tickets for Andrew and I to see Rose Matafeo and Demi Lardner and although I was pretty positive Andrew would like both, I hadn’t really told him anything about either of them so it was all riding on my taste.

But of course they were both just brilliant. Just sublime. Both just delightful energetic impassioned performances, simply joyous, wow wow wow. Andrew and I were talking about what felt so different and electrifying about the both of them and I think it’s a larger question about people’s underlying motivations for doing comedy in the first place.

Okay so forgive the mini essay here but the reason why I am generally less interested in straight stand-up by cisgender heterosexual white men is not because I dislike them or anything like that, nor that anybody’s voice has any less value. I think the reason why I would naturally be more interested in stand-up by women and people of colour, LGBTQIA+ and/or disabled performers, is that their motivation for performing stand-up is more likely to come from a compulsion to communicate something about themselves and their world that other people may not understand. Their voices are from the margins. (I say “they” because although I am a woman and as such have a somewhat marginalised voice, I’m still straight and cisgender and middle-class so I’m nevertheless in a position of privilege here.)

I have encountered far more “straight white men” comedians who perform in a way that seems to come from a desire to have control over their audience rather than to share something of themselves. Their style is often quite reserved, they are more likely to keep the audience at a distance, and the tone is more likely to be one that edges on cruel or mean-spirited. Again, I’m not talking about the demographic as individuals, I’m just saying that I have seen this kind of stand-up more often performed by this group of people. It may even be a masculinity thing – it’s very scary to get onstage and share something that you’ve written and that you’ll perform yourself, a rejection of it feels like (and sort of is) a direct rejection of you as a person. So it’s easier to try and be cool and exert less energy and keep that power. I mean, I’ve even performed gigs like that before. But a “straight white man” keeping the power and trying to be cool onstage is just the norm. They’re retaining their high status and it isn’t exciting. Whereas a performer like Dulcé Sloan, who is cool and reserved onstage, who does keep a very high status, is great to watch because her position as a black, plus-size woman means that she is challenging society’s treatment of her. Also, she’s just really funny.

Something I love about the show I run in Berlin, SAUCE, is that the whole vibe is joyous, energetic, silly and a bit girly. (The 7-min spots are reserved for minorities and there are two 5-min show-up-to-sign-up spots that generally go to straight men.) But the difference in the vibe, the fact that no one will come across as “cool” in that setting, it’s not a very hetero, macho bar or club setting but a community salon with home-cooked food, means that sometimes the “straight white men” or more bro-ish comics can really loosen up with their material. The last show I did before the summer, we had three young guys all turn up for the second of the open spots. They all have a somewhat similar, cool and reserved tone to their stand-up. I said that if they wanted to, they could split the time between them somehow and they agreed and disappeared up the street to rehearse. They came back just in time for their spot and said “please introduce us as ‘No Direction’,” and came on in formation as a boyband, each one performing about 90 seconds of their stand-up while the other two clicked their fingers behind them. It was so silly and the best I’d ever seen them, and I wonder if they’d have felt comfortable enough do that in a different setting, with a bunch of dudes trying to outperform each other.

I just love comedy that tries to reach out to you, something really earnest and mad and unashamedly absurd, something that wants to give a laugh to you rather than extract a laugh from you.

Fringe Diary #8B

Hiya folks, welcome back. My last post got a bit too long and if I’m doing 500 words for every 24hours then 900 words on a 4-min conversation is a lot.

So, to yesterday. I recovered from my verry emosh day by talking to Josiah on the phone for an hour. Josiah is brilliant for many many reasons but one is that they’re the kind of friend who will somehow make you feel better by just relentlessly making fun of you. I also rang them because I’ve got a storytelling show almost the moment I get back to Berlin next week and I’m thinking of telling the story of how we became friends and they basically showed me how being a girl is actually really fun. (We didn’t discuss this at all because we were too busy chatting about boys.)

My gig last night was a bit rubbish to be honest. It started out fine, I got some pretty big laughs, but then it just trailed off and died by the end? I’m trying to figure out quite what went wrong and it might have been that I didn’t get straight to my set but did some like “hey how’s it going?” stuff at first, but I’ve got a gig-free day to think about it. Comedy’s not as much of an exact science as you’d like, but also, I don’t like science.

Andrew’s spot onstage was just after mine and he won them back no problem, so I was really pleased for him (if a little jealous! but not really. but a bit). But the guy who headlined the show though, oof. I’m not one to throw shade, really, but this guy’s jokes were just so hacky and offensive. It was upsetting how he managed to get some response from the audience with jokes about how “men who identify as women and expect everyone should just accept them as that should have to take a test. Can they break into my iPhone in the time it takes for me to go to the bathroom?” and then closing with like a full minute of a fake Indian accent, talking about Bollywood dancing and squeezing women’s tits. It was frustrating because there are so many people who hate comedy shows because they’re full of people just easily getting laughs by playing off how some people are different, just reinforcing harmful stereotypes and it’s offensive, it’s boring and it’s unoriginal. There are so many really amazing comedians who are from a minority and who don’t get the time or space to tell their side of things, or to make fun of the perceived “norm”, because they’re still marginalised. They’re kept to a minimum on the bill, so that nobody thinks it’s a show for anybody other than this same “””norm”””. Representation matters people!

Phew okay by now my mum will be upset by how angry I sound so let me say also that I bought a lot of fruit today and that later I’m seeing Rose Matafeo’s show Horndog and then Demi Lardner (again), both super great and amazing comedians and WOMEN OF NOTE. I’m going to go eat an orange now, it’s good for scurvy

Fringe Diary #8A

HI TODAY’S POST WILL BE A RAGE POST ANY QUESTIONS

[“Wow I really like Josie’s blog, especially all of the feelings in it. Really great” – You]

Okay this is a public service announcement:
Women never want to be spoken to by a strange man on the street. Ever ever ever. Even if you’re dazzlingly handsome, it is annoying and scary and confusing and makes us feel bad.

This morning, I was walking back from the shops with two big grocery bags, listening to Las Culturistas (which is very good) on my two very big headphones, in the drizzle. This guy in I’d guess late 30s, early 40s, and not handsome, runs in front of me, and cuts me off. I’m wondering if maybe something has dropped out of my shopping bag or something because I was just deep into the podcast, so I adjust my headphones.

HIM: Hi, hey. I wanted to tell you that you look like a giraffe with your long legs. 

Ah, okay, so, you know. What?

ME: Um, thanks?

Well, I guess he’s told me now. Goodbye, strange man! 

HIM: You have a bit of a Central European look about you. I was just in Poland, you look Polish or Hungarian but you sound completely Scottish.

I am none of those things.

ME: I am none of those things.

By this stage I know I am in too deep, I’ve engaged in conversation and I need to get away. This guy seems okay but I do not know why he wants to talk to me, why he feels he can come up and talk to me, I’m assuming it’s a sexual thing but he’s talking about stuff that isn’t sexual. I’m just assessing the risks, assessing the risks, assessing the risks.

HIM: So if you’re not Scottish I imagine you’re a student here at the university?

Well, too bad, I’m not based here. Not worth pursuing, mate.

ME: No I’m – I’m here for a couple of weeks for the festival.

HIM: Oh for the festival! Are you travelling alone, or are you here with friends?

Aha. I’ve got another card up my sleeve.

ME: No, I’m here with my boyfriend. We’re both comics – we’re performing.

This is such a bittersweet defence because it works, but it’s because what you’re saying is “no no no, it’s not that you should respect my boundaries – it’s some other man you’d be pissing off! Don’t worry, I’m still not really a person with my own thoughts and feelings!!!!!!!!!”

HIM: Oh you’re both comics! Right, right. Well I thought I’d come up to you because you looked interesting, with your green skirt and your leather jacket, and you know, you’ve got to take a chance and you are interesting.

ME: I’m sorry I’ve got to go – I’ve got to write before the show, sorry.  

HIM: No of course, I’ve got to go meet some friends. But listen you do seem really interesting so I’d love to take you out for a glass of wine sometime.

Should I just scream that I don’t drink? No, maybe it’s not the wine that’s the thing.

ME: Oh, thank you, I’m really sorry but I’m really busy with shows and my boyfriend, I can’t. 

HIM: How about I’ll just text you once, and you can reply or not. How about that?

That sounds reasonable? Is that reasonable? He just wants to text me, and loads of people have my number. Does it sound silly to say “no, I’m never going to hang out with you, EVER?”

A few years ago I’d probably have just been like “uh sure, fine” because it’s so easy for someone to make it seem like a reasonable request. He just wants a chat! He just thinks I look interesting!

But it’s not like I was going around on a flippin’ unicycle yelling “FASCINATING AUTOBIOGRAPHY, RIGHT HERE!” I was walking along with shopping bags and his first comment was on my legs. My legs! My legs don’t even drink wine.

ME: I’m really sorry, no. 

You’re not sorry, why did you say you’re sorry? Ugh.

The thing is, his perspective on the thing was probably “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. And like – he got to talk to me, for something like three or four minutes, even if I was just trying to figure out an escape route. So he got to get some of my attention, but why did he think that was okay? Why did I act like it was okay for him to just come up to someone who clearly is busy with whatever they’re doing, carrying stuff, listening to something, just to ask to hang out with me and then try and guilt me into giving him my number?

No, nobody hurt me or screamed at me or assaulted me, but it made me feel weird and bad afterwards because I was very uncomfortable and the man didn’t seem to notice or mind that I was uncomfortable and clearly didn’t seem to respect that I might have more going on than wanting to talk to him, and undermined my “no” to a drink with him by asking to text me. Yuckkk.

Fringe Diary #7

I feel tender as all hell today and every song makes me want to cry !!! Honestly, I never used to get why people wanted to watch films or listen to things that would make them cry until the split second I first got dumped and I made a whole playlist on Grooveshark called “no” that was just old old songs from the past of people who sounded like they were on the verge of tears? Mmm!! Top-notch crying!!

Great okay so a good and positive start to today’s blog. Yesterday I was asleep for almost all of the time, besides watching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix and it was very very good. More rom than com, arguably(?). But so so rom. And so great to see a WoC in a lead role, even if I have to say that all of her clothes are frustratingly good for someone who is supposedly 16. Of course it is great to have the Asian-American teenage experience represented onscreen but what about the shit clothes teenage experience? I once sewed a red studded belt to an old lilac floral dress of my mum’s and wore it over red skinny jeans with tartan Converse and thought “yes, this is good”. (In fairness, I first started become aware of fashion in 2002, so who could really blame me?)

Anyway, back to Edinburgh. My boyfriend got into town yesterday, he’s also a stand-up so we’ve sort of found ourselves on holiday together but separately. I went to meet him at the first gig he’d booked which turned out to be a 6-9pm “rolling” show with no emcee, which basically means it was a microphone in a corner of a hotel bar. Now, that’s not really how a comedy show works. Giving someone the basic technology needed for a comedy show doesn’t create a comedy show. Street preachers also have microphones but no one is psyched to watch them for 30 minutes. In the end Andrew didn’t go onstage so we just went in search of something to do before my Cosmic gig.

Yikes, it was a rough crowd. It didn’t help that I was pretty woozy and was using a lot of energy trying to pretend that I was definitely 100% well, but yikes. The two acts before me and the host had all had very tepid responses, but then I was a little scattergun. It sucked though because I know I could have turned them around if I had been feeling a little brighter, but ah well. At least I get to go up again tonight! Comedy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

oh p.s. I am better now thanks all good just needed to sleep