Category: travel

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 #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

Fringe Diary #6

Fringe Diary #6

Omg who’s pumped for a blog post about me being sick ???

Because that’s what you’re getting !!! Give it up for your host, Josie Parkinson !!!

[crowd goes wild]

[I am rolled out on a sofa]

My guests tonight are: a plastic bowl, for my vomit! and: a lukewarm glass of water!!!

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(I’ve been alone in the flat for a while now.)

Everyone has different approaches to feeling sick; my parents told my brothers and me early on that sometimes we might be feeling ill because of something psychosomatic. That’s a cool thing to learn early on, but it also means that I don’t so much get sick as I do fall into a crisis of what’s real and what’s not. Am I just feeling ill because I am ill, or am I feeling ill because I’m … feeling … ill?

So yesterday I thought I might just need to sleep it off. Instead I lay down for three hours, slept for 25 seconds and then thought “where does the word ‘spate’ come from?” and got up to find my laptop. By the time I needed to leave for my gig though I was so nauseous I cancelled it and then immediately threw up a lot. I timed it perfectly so I could change out of the top that Hetty had lent me for the gig, because for some reason I thought “no matter what, I am not puking in a chic black rollneck.”
But it was a bit nostalgic, to be sick, I was like “oh yeah! That takes me back.” You know? Yeah!

I’m a bit gutted not to have performed last night, especially since like, in and around the vomiting, I was actually quite good at making jokes maybe or Hetty was just humoring me oh dear she’s a good friend.

Lol um there’s really not much more to say on the previous day unless you want to read about dry toast and podcasts I like? Because dry toast – I’ve had some! And podcasts – boy am I listening to them! But boy – do I need a nap now!

Oh, I’m going to try and hobble over to my gig tonight. I feel sort of bad but I think in maybe a 24-hours-y kind of a way? Hopefully?
Do I look too sick to go on stage? Let me know in the comments !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fringe Diary #4

Ah, yesterday was lovely, just lovely. But also I think I have scurvy? Like, really really quickfire scurvy?

Or I just ate a really pointy chip and it’s making my gums bleed.

Anyway, don’t panic, Mum and Dad.

Back to yesterday! Yep, fab day, chilled out, got a little taste of the mad world of flyering for punk rock comedy, Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show, which yes I can say five times fast, thank you. I turned up to the Location at 5pm sharp to be ushered upstairs by Kate and Lyris. They handed me a Hello Kitty hat, some flyers, some stickers, a promo t-shirt for their band, Slanty-Eyed Mamas. (They said it would be fine for me to wear.)

Now some of you reading this may think you know me. But you will never truly know me until you have seen me react to someone trying to hand me something in the street.
Usually I will automatically beam like a toddler at anyone smiling at me, before suddenly I realise what’s going on and make a split-second decision (split-second decisions are decidedly not my strong point) whether I want the flyer or not, whether it’d be best to just take it to please the person or leave it with them so that they don’t waste a flyer, and usually what happens is whether I take it or not, I’ll yelp something like “THANKS SORRY YOU SEEM NICE THOUGH BYE!”

So it was nice to be on the other side of that for a change, doing an hour of intensive flyering on the Mile as Slanty-Eyed Mamas (sorry) played some great and obscene music about stereotypes of Asian feminine sexuality. For some reason I only handed flyers to 100-year-old people with furrowed brows, and tiny children.

My gig that night went well, too! I’d briefly met up with my brother, his fiancee and some friends at The Auld Hoose, home to the largest nachos in Edinburgh which ARE THE VERY SAME NACHOS FROM THE PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT OF THIS DIARY. I do know this city! So I was in a cracking mood before the gig, having wolfed down an egg-cress sandwich very much behind a wheelie bin and definitely in the rain, which is my favourite meal. I unexpectedly opened the gig and it was no problem. I felt amped, a little tense but calm and excited for the show, i.e. the ideal mood.

By this point I’d realised that however well the early part of the set goes, to my mind it hasn’t been a success unless I get that big closing laugh. The length of my slot increased since there weren’t as many people, going up unexpectedly went from 5 to 7 minutes. So I did at first just chill out, riff a little, and talk to the crowd, which I’m getting fonder and fonder of doing as I get more confident on stage. But the extra time meant I didn’t find my way to an ideal, heavy-hitting closing line. I got a laugh at the last joke but it felt like a connector, not an ending.

Now … I could have just said “thanks, I’ve been Josie Parkinson, goodnight!” and felt a bit stupid and lukewarm about the gig.

Or, you could do what I did, which was say [and this is verbatim] “I’m gonna go now, so, um could you do me a favour and just laugh really loudly?”

And they flippin’ well did! Listen, here’s proof:


Anyway I have to go wash a bunch of make-up off my face and get to a show. I’m going to be performing at Cosmic Comedy 19-22 Aug at Espionage Edinburgh. Promo GIF below:

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Fringe Diary #3

People are way too quick to just get drunk, when they have a bad show, and it’s like guys – have you tried, um, crying into a Choc Ice? Maybe get a second one as dessert? Sort it out.

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Last night’s gig didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped – I’d been looking forward to it all day, as I had a 10-min set and was verrry hungry to perform. It was a late show, in the Bier Keller of Frankenstein’s, and it was such a packed and lively crowd. I didn’t bomb, I did fine, but I just didn’t get the laughs you’d want from 100 people. Without wanting to get into another really lengthy piece of self-evaluation, I think the material I did was good, but the style was too polished and reserved for that crowd. They were all very happy to yell stuff out, they really wanted to be involved. Next time I’m in that situation, I’d do better to perform half the stuff I’d prepared and spend the rest of the spot bantering with the audience, or do a bunch of stuff that requires their participation. The crowd was drunk, their attention span was short, the biggest laughs came from spontaneous stuff going on in the room rather than my more downbeat sarky material which is basically me pretending not to have fun. Which is silly, because I am terrible at pretending not to have fun.

I’m even having fun giving myself homework about this stuff every day. You know how your favourite part of fitness is the bit at the start where you think “I’m going to get fit” and you imagine the fit perfect version of yourself just floating into brunches like “hi, it’s me, but I’m fit and perfect now” and all your friends are like “ah, wow” and you’re like “yeah”? Well, that, but for comedy, is what I’m doing. It’s great fun.

Oh, I saw some more shows last night and they were great! I saw The Russian Comedy Experience which was perfect for jokes about linguistics, bears and dogs in space; I saw my friend Kwame Asante’s simply lovely show “Teenage Heartblob”; and then Demi Lardner’s “I Love Skeleton” which was just the maddest hour of my life and it was just incredible. I am going to see it again next week and I can’t wait.

Anyway I’ve got to go, I want to rewrite all my jokes and then I’ve picked up some ad hoc promotional work. I thought it was flyering, now I don’t know what it is but I’ve been promised a Hello Kitty hat, and also some money ?
p.s. I’m sorry for the slideshow I thought it would be like gently funny
p.p.s. Mum and Dad I didn’t actually cry I was fine but I did eat an ice cream and a chocolate bar but I did have a salad for tea

Fringe Diary #2

Good afternoon!! I sat down to start writing this and immediately wanted to apologise for writing this in the first place when nobody asked me to, and that’s #womanhood

(Sidenote: surely more first-person novels should start, continue and end with: “um, sorry, not to make this all about me, but…”)

Anyway, it’s Friday afternoon, baby! and I have no gigs tonight. Yesterday I tried to just sit and hone my set and for those of you who aren’t writers or creatives, “hone” means I spent eight hours eating toast and listening to podcasts. I produced two (2) new lines so, you know, that’s like one new line for every two slices of toast which is really pretty economical. The gig went better than the previous night, but I’m still a bit annoyed at myself for not having more material that I feel comfortable with, that sounds like “me”.

(Everyone says Fringe is exhausting and I didn’t know if it was because of like performing a lot and drinking a lot and staying up late but it can also be exhausting because of RELENTLESS self-evaluation. Enjoy!!!!)

I needed a picture to spice the post up but didn’t take any yday so please enjoy this evidence of me drunkenly eating nachos at my last stint at the Fringe in 2014. A boy made out with me after this because THAT IS HOW POWERFUL I WAS AT 22

I’ve been toying with some new and more sort of dorky, smiley work for the last few months but it’s not ready, especially not with the Footlights where the style tends to be more “hello I am a Clever Student like a Baby Stephen Fry!!” The Footlights as a group do have a definite voice, though, which I’d never have noticed if I hadn’t grown as a comic outside of that scene and outside of uni, and of the UK. I don’t know if I can even call myself a British comedian, stylistically. Does this sound like … er … a thing? Comment below!!! This is an interactive blog, you tell ME what the heck I’m on about!!

After my show, I hung out with some of the guys from the show, which was lovely, before heading to Stamptown’s variety show at midnight (midnight! I’m such a grown-up). It had loads of clowning in it and although I wish I’d had more energy for it, it was totally exhilarating and a really great refresher course in how comically effective it can be to just play with sound and movement. For some reason, people dancing really energetically to loud music and then the music cutting out unexpectedly for someone to say one thing, before immediately going back to dancing to the music again, can be really funny. I mean, there’s only so much I could take away from it to think about in my own comedy as the show was pretty weird and wild – I don’t think there’s really space in my act to perform ballet butt-naked besides an Elizabethan ruff collar – but it was great to see something different, and cool, and stupid, and really just very, very silly.

So far, so much to think about and work on. This week has been very knackering for me, with more and longer sets than I’ve ever performed at the start of the week hosting two shows in Berlin and performing on a showcase, all to a lethargic over-heated summertime crowd … I went to bed last night at 3am so bleary-eyed, but thinking “lemme back up on that stage!!”

Fringe Diary #1

Okay so it’s been a while I realise, so let me get you up to speed. I moved to Berlin six months ago this week, and it’s really fun and great apart from the fact that I am homeless and jobless and my hair is now just about long enough to look terrible, always. Mmm.. that’s probably all you need to know at this point. 

Oh but I’m at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival now! That’s why I’m writing this. COOL

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from my Very Good instagram

Scotland makes me think of Germany, and both of them make me think of Canada. Scotland and Germany are the first places I travelled to without my family, alone, because I was interested in them. (That’s not true for Canada, but once I moved to Quebec in a dream and it was great.) They both feel like my places, I have a fondness for them that a fair few, but not all, people do. The Fringe was the first place I went as soon as I turned 18 and I was there for the whole festival just after I graduated, working on some short films and kissing absolutely everyone.

Never would have expected that just four years later, I’d be here performing at shows for the Cambridge Footlights and a Berlin comedy club, as a blonde. Life comes at you fast.

I did my first show with the Free Footlights show last night, which I think is mostly there just to help them promote other shows they have going on. (I may need to invent something sharpish. Comedy show titles aren’t hard. “Josie Parkinson: Bangle Monkey.” There we go.)
Performing for a British audience for the first time since January was always going to be great and strange, but performing for an audience for a Cambridge-educated comedy troupe is a different thing. My set went down all right, but having done that show I’m free to rewrite it all with MAXIMAL ENGLISHNESS. I can make cultural references! I can do super-sophisticated wordplay! I can talk fast and miss out my “t”s! Tha’sm’favri’!

Once I finish this (which I really need to do, soon) I’ll be moving on to working on some new and/or better jokes for tonight, anyway. That’s something I love about stand-up that I didn’t love about film and it’s why I will sometimes, in the dead of night, if I’m feeling very bold, tell people that stand-up is like a language. Because my stand-up right now… is like a GCSE French oral exam: the weekend, I play tennis with my friends. It is fun! What I mean is that although I know I’m not great or remarkable now, it’s so easy to get to practise, and hone, and improve – I feel like there’s a clear trajectory to find a way to get better. Film used to terrify me because there seemed to be so many obstacles to actually getting good at making them, you’d have to get so many people involved, so much money, so much time and at such an expense, just to find out you have a terrible film and need to do better next time. With comedy, I can cock up as many times as I want for free! Quel bonheur!

Girl, Unsupervised

(Obviously I was going to title this post A Broad Abroad for those of you who love puns but then I realised that there were inevitably going to be like 4,000 blogs called that and because I am writing this in an extremely trendy coffee place I didn’t want passing Berliners to see that title and be like “pfft, so derivative” and then like flip their hair at me)

Two days ago, journalist Deniz Yücel was allowed to return to Germany after having been detained in Turkey for a year, enduring solitary confinement and conditions which he described as “almost like torture”.

This story struck me as particularly timely, bringing to light as it does the value of a free press and international diplomacy, but it also resonated with me on a more personal level: to this date, I have spent three and a half days living alone, without WiFi.

I know. I know

I’m currently staying in a flat in Treptow that belongs to my dear friend, and principal go-on-then-move-to-Berlin cheerleader, Rafael, while he is away. It’s a very sweet little place, it has a door, I can put things in it – I feel like a real person, with a real Berlin apartment!

Now, you’re probably thinking, “but Josie, if it doesn’t have WiFi, how are you writing this, or are even still alive and not dying of eating some weird poisonous herbs like that guy in Into The Wild?” And the answer is: yes.

I did consider dying of eating some weird poisonous herbs, because I thought it would just make a really cool and great story, until I remembered that it had already been done by that guy in Into The Wild, so I just left the house instead. (I am writing this from Wolf Kino, a cool cinema that Rafael recommended, and wrote down the name of, on a piece of paper. Just like in the past!)

In fact, it hasn’t been too bad, thank you for asking. I’m quite comfortable with my own company, and you know, being a little bit isolated has a lot of perks. I can take baths with the door open, can get up in the middle of the night to make tea, and I have all the time in the world to think about things like Amy Schumer’s surprise wedding, and who knew about Amy Schumer’s surprise wedding, and whether I would have been invited to Amy Schumer’s surprise wedding, if I were friends with Amy Schumer.

I’d forgotten how as soon as I am on my own I become a massive hypochondriac, but it is much, much less satisfying to be a hypochondriac if you can’t Google your symptoms. You just have to assume you will probably die in the night, and although that sounds bleak, it really gives you a boost in the morning. (Yes! I beat imaginary diphtheria! Twice!!)

Something about living alone also always leads me to try and cut my own hair, because dammit, if both Franka Potente AND Julia Stiles could do it in the Bourne films, why can’t I? (It is this uncanny ability to distinguish between reality and fiction that has allowed me to make a series of well-thought-out life choices.)

waaargh
I don’t have a photo of Franka Potente but this is me the first time I cut my hair, with blunt scissors, in the dark. And also it was halloween, come on you guys obviously i didn’t walk around like this the whole time i am clearly dressed up as an essay crisis

Anyway, I’m taking a secret sort of pleasure in it for now. It makes me feel like everything I do is a little more romantic. Especially Tinder. It really adds suspense and drama when you can only steal fleeting moments on the IM when you’re in a coffee shop, or, as I frequently am, at the underground budget supermarket across the road. Truly, there is nothing sweeter than skulking around the canned soup aisle, trying to flirt with someone in GCSE-level German. (It did work though. We play tennis on the weekend, after I go to the park with my girlfriends.)

Also if anyone has any insight on this Amy Schumer wedding business please let me know in the comments. Thanks!