Tag: humour

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!

Et tu, Cabernet*

 

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Me and wine, back in the good times.

I have to give up drinking.

EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER SEEN ME DRUNK: Yeah, we know!

NOT FOR THAT REASON.

E.W.H.E.S.M.D.: So, not because Drunk You will casually spend 20 quid on a full meal and then eat it from a plastic bag on the dance floor?

NO.

E.W.H.E.S.M.D.: And not because Drunk You is a terrible flirt, as in, all you do is either lurk around the poor bloke or LITERALLY SAY THE WORDS “oh my god I actually got lost in your eyes!”

Mmm. Well, not not that.

E.W.H.E.S.M.D.: Because you realised that you were using alcohol as a social prop that really, as a generally self-confident adult woman, you really shouldn’t need?

Of course not!

No, my brain does this thing every so often where if I have too much to drink, either a) I wake up with a hangover and eat a lot of breakfast and think about the terrible decisions I made, or b) I wake up with a hangover and then have an epileptic seizure and black out and come to with a room full of hunky paramedics and all my loved ones standing around me looking very, very upset.

Option b) is pretty rare but having happened roughly three times in three years, I think enough might be enough.

It’s tricky though, because I have zero memory of any of the seizures, just their aftermath, and what anyone nearby at the time has said, so the idea of changing my behaviour because of something I can’t at all remember, and which forms no part of my experience, is like if your friends said “hi, we just watched Psycho and we’d rather you never took showers again, please, we’re very frightened.”

Okay maybe it’s not quite like that, at all. But it’s still a hard habit to kick when all that you really remember is a mad and dreamlike day; the last one was here in Berlin, at my still very new boyfriend’s place, and most of the day I was just left on a trolley in a hospital in Neukolln with my boyfriend not allowed to come in with me, and I had to explain everything in German even though my head was really foggy and no one had even the slightest sense of humour, even though the seizure happened while we were having sex so at first BF thought that he was just crushin’ it before realising something terrible was going on, which is objectively hilarious. You know what, it was actually a rubbish day, seizures aren’t at all up to the hype and aren’t worth the visit really.

Anyway, it means I have to give up drinking, pretty much forever, unless I find myself jonesing for a seizure for some reason. So I’m searching for a brand new vice, everyone! Please suggest a new guilty pleasure in the comments below, ideally, lo-to-no cost and legal. I need to stay fun somehow.

 

*okay so I captioned this one Et tu cabernet like et tu brute because the first time I went in to hospital after having had a fit my brother was like “maybe you should eat something light, like a Seizure Salad” and I thought it was hilarious and so was going to name it something similar but then went for a Caesar reference even though on a second look that makes zero sense unless you are me. GOOD

Lizard Man

Lizard Man

I hardly slept last night because everything was too funny. Yes, everything.

Okay so to begin with, I need to tell you about my first ever stand-up gig in Berlin. I’d been here a week and got sick in record time. I woke up the morning of the gig and tried to yawn and some kind of hoarse ancestral howl came out instead. “Oh!” I thought. “Well, as long as I don’t have to say any audible words during my stand-up set, we’ll be fine.”

My solution was to cobble together a really high-energy routine and undercut it by wearing a bathrobe and coughing a lot, and then just hope that the steady and unwavering stream of snot making its way down my face wouldn’t affect my stage presence too much. You know: comedy.

Once I staggered to the venue it was clear that it was not at all the right crowd. They were chatty and sarky and it occurred to me to be very terrified. I backtracked from the original idea, got up on stage, and realised that this now meant that I had nothing prepared. But was still wearing the bathrobe with a box of tissues stuffed into the pocket because obviously that part was rock solid.

Of course, I bombed. In a bathrobe. I somehow sounded both way too sick and not sick enough, I was all over the place, I popped weird German painkillers onstage.

 

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this is actually how i went onstage

After the show, I was chatting to some of the other acts, who were being quite sweet about how terribly I’d done. A young bloke came up to me and said “I really enjoyed your set – it was – you know, there was something very poetic about it…”

He was quite charming, very talkative. As he spoke, I was running the numbers: he was in his twenties, I guess quite attractive, I was obviously gross and sick, but then it was a very dark room…

Then I came back to the conversation and heard him say: “So, I’m still somewhat sceptical, I’m still reading about the lizard people theory; in my view, perhaps Donald Trump isn’t a lizard man in a skin suit per se, but certainly a snake or an insect person…”

Ah.

So that gig was pretty much a total failure, (or not quite – I did get friended by Lizard Man on Facebook) but it was as good a way as any to get my start on stage here. I didn’t take it too much to heart – that was a month ago now and I’ve done many more successful gigs since then, in a newly-created character of a healthy person.

Last night, I was up at Monday Night Mics, my tenth gig in Berlin. Someone from university I hadn’t seen in years came along, which was a little surreal, but really lovely. (Shout out to Chris!)

I go up and do my act, effectively, lot of stories about dating, my rubbish taste in men, and my Berlin romances so far, of which there have been, surprisingly, any!

Partway through my set, a guy walks in. It’s dark but it looks like a guy I’ve been seeing here. “Ah, that’s sweet of him,” I think. He goes and sits down at the back as I finish my set with a joke about that weird lizard man guy I met after my first gig here. Pleased with how I’ve done, I bound towards the back of the room and it’s only when I’m a step from my seat that I realise that this wasn’t my guy, but Lizard Man himself.

“Oh, God!” I announce to no one.

Lizard Man is already coming up to me, greeting me, and I can’t tell if his tone is angry or amused or reptilian.

But he smiles and says, “You can use me in your comedy anytime.”

Phew!

“…It’s actually really good that you’re giving this theory more exposure…”

Ah.

Soon I’m trapped in his own private discussion of the merits of comedy for spreading conspiracy theories, which he is going into with a Quentin Tarantino-style intensity while Chris has uselessly gone off to bum cigarettes from strangers.

I eventually extract myself and run to the toilets, where I text Chris “Omg please save me from lizard man”. This is a request that he either doesn’t see or interprets somewhat creatively, as when I come back from the bathroom, the two of them – Chris from my year at university, and Lizard Man – are playing table football together.

You know: comedy.

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!

Business or Pleasure?

Valentine’s Day can be rough as a single person, but I’ve always loved it. It is like a festival of bitterness. As a confirmed bachelorette, I’ve only had one Valentine’s Day in a couple and although it was, you know, lovely – I got a song played to me on a ukelele as a surprise and I completely freaked out and splurged on a mediocre prix fixe – it just didn’t feel like it was really in the spirit of the thing.

For me, the rule is: the bleaker, the better, and Valentine’s Day 2017 was an absolute cracker. I had just been dumped, had no job, my house was so cold it was like it was trying to attack me. Although I did get some post, it was just a letter from the NHS inviting me to book a pap smear. (It’s the thought that counts.)

true romance
My cervix brings all the boys to the yard / and they’re like / “Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25 to 49 every three years.”

Valentine’s Day 2018, though, I really wanted to treat myself. #Galentines! So I ran away from all of my problems to start a new life in Berlin.

This had started out as a Lovely Thought at some stage last year. Oh, such a Lovely Thought! The kind of thought you lovingly pore over as you go to sleep at night. The kind of thought you carry around with you like a comfort blanket. The kind of thought you imagine fixing everything – this thought will make you more beautiful, more successful, it will make all of your ex-partners and school bullies and rivals jealous and obsessed and you won’t even CARE because of how lovely the thought is.

It could have stayed a Lovely Thought, absolutely it could have done. When I die, you will find in all 15,000 of my To-Do Lists a perfect and intricate account of everything I meant to do but never got around to doing. Just ask my yoga mat.

So when all of a sudden I found myself on the 09:10 flight to Tegel on Wednesday, I was more surprised than any of you. “Aha!” I thought, “I guess I wasn’t joking.” As the plane took off, I started to giggle. Helplessly. I was wiping tears from my eyes. I don’t know what the other passengers must have thought – probably that I was drunk, or it was my first time on a plane, or I was really enjoying the Eurowings sick-bags which said “Don’t worry, we won’t take it personally” on them in English and German.

But I had to laugh, because somehow, I had gotten away with it. This ridiculous plan to just pack up and go because I fancied it. That’s not how life works, doing things because you fancy them. The structure of society, of politics, of bureaucracy, does not allow for it. Nowhere on immigration forms or job applications or marriage certificates is it acceptable to list your purpose as “Just Because I Felt Like It, Really”. And yet here I was, with my one-way ticket and a case full of weird oversized navy clothes, cackling away to myself and with no reason at all to be there besides wanting to be happy and thinking I might as well do something about it.

(Obviously, I was also giggling because of the sick-bags. That was a solid joke.)

Reception

Reception

I’m a receptionist now. I get to sit and answer phones and eat lunch at a desk!

It’s not all fun and games, though. It’s a surprisingly difficult job for a woman to do. For one thing: everyone is frustrated that they cannot have sex with you, so you have to act a bit like they could do, if they weren’t so awful. Because the art of femininity doesn’t come that naturally to me, I have to really put the effort in and it’s stressful. I’ll be sitting at my desk (see above), brain full of thoughts and feelings and plans to secretly eat all the office snacks over the kitchen sink when no one is looking, when – suddenly! – I have to transform into “Lady Receptionist”. This sounds like a terribly ineffective superhero name, which is fitting, as I am a terribly ineffective receptionist. Possible reasons for this include that I am afraid to lie for people, I don’t like looking after people I don’t already like, and since I stopped drinking milk I make awful, awful tea. On the plus side: at least you know that when I seem to be a complete mess, I really am a complete mess. I do what it says on the tin.

But after six months, I’ve learned a thing or two. So, for anyone who is looking to step down their receptionist game, look no further! Here are some tips.

Lady Receptionist Pro-Tips

  1. Nails. Either get enormous fake nails put on so that you look like a Classic Lady Receptionist, alongside some cat eye glasses, so that you can’t actually use the keys, or perform any of the other myriad physical tasks clumsily lumped in with your job description. “Please change these lightbulbs/clear out this office/wrap this gift for me.” Sorry, no can do, I have mauve talons now. Alternatively: entirely remove nails altogether, and just go with raw gummy flesh there instead. It’s a bold look but might save you time ripping them out by accident later on.
  2. Smile. But not too much, so you don’t look like you’re laughing at them. Not all the time, so you look like a genuine, down-to-earth receptionist – you’re not like all those other receptionists. I prefer to alternate between a scowl and furrowed brow that says “I’m too busy for you!” and a wild-eyed, maniacal grin when you offer them tea and coffee knowing full well that you have run out of both.
  3. Cool, calm and collected. All of these are overrated. It is best that everyone knows that everything is a disaster, all the time. Otherwise, how will anyone know what a passable job you are doing, holding it all together?
  4. Professionalism at all times. Once a week, wear a really big ugly collared shirt and cartoonishly oversized suit trousers, so that you look like a baby businessman. After that, note the looks of relief on everyone’s faces when you go back to your shitty ordinary broken clothes.
  5. Take things with a pinch of salt. Also consider: sugar, trans fats, a big ol’ glass of wine. All useful remedies. I, personally, have started to branch out to include revenge, in a subtle, receptionist way, whereby I deliberately give you a smaller and less nice plain white IKEA mug. Ha, ha.
  6. Try to brighten people’s days. Maybe try to tell people jokes as you carefully bring them drinks, but make sure to mutter them quietly into your chest so that they have to ask you what you said, and then refuse to repeat it. They will *love* how mysterious you are!
  7. Be diligentIf you find yourself getting anxious, just remember that you need to do everything 100% perfectly, 100% of the time. No one will notice if you do, but boy, they sure will if you don’t!
  8. Be friendly and gregarious. “Hey, I love your shirt!” “Oh, uh, I just got it from H&M like five years ago.” “Okay, I will stop liking it then! Thanks!”
  9. And when all else fails… remember that that receptionist slug from Monster’s Inc. was also a receptionist, and everyone loves her, now.

slug