Edinburgh Festival. Part Two. Gigs 101-118

“Trauma”. Lets look up the definition:

‘A deeply distressing or disturbing experience’

Mmm. Thats not quite enough. Lets look up “psychological trauma”:

‘Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event’

Mmm, thats better but still not there. A little closer, but not quite. How about “Agony”:

‘Extreme physical or mental suffering.’

Ah, thats better! Much more like it. Lets look up another one:

‘Intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain’

Yes!!

‘The agony of doubt’

YES!!

‘The torments of the damned’

YES!!! YES!!! YES!!

PERFECT!!! Extreme mental suffering. Agony. Anguish. The AGONY of doubt. THE TORMENTS OF THE DAMNED. That’s exactly it. That’s precisely how I would describe what it’s like doing Edinburgh.

Sat Aug 9th

No.101 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.102 Dada Comedy Ettrick Hogg + Woodward 6.15pm
2014-08-09 19.24.33
No.103 Kelly Wenham gig George Next Door 10.10pm
2014-08-09 23.52.20
No.104 Matt T Woodward Midnight Comedy, Espionage – The Kasbar Room
2014-08-10 01.46.11

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scottishland, city of literature and volcanos and the Firth of Forth, the city of phlegm. Home to the greatest Festival in the world, cradle of the arts, ground zero for broken dreams. The streets awash with the tears of failed comedians. The ghosts of those that came and flopped before, wailing in the darkest corners of those cobbled streets. Wailing: ‘GO! GO BACK!! GO BACK HOME AND LIVE YOUR LIVES!! DO NOT TRY TO CONQUER EDINBURGH!! FOR EDINBURGH SHALL CONQUER YOOOOOOOU!!!’ Many a man/woman/hermaphrodite has heard those cries, and failed to heed them.

THE TORMENTS OF THE DAMNED

(Hermaphrodite ghosts, theres a new one)

After arriving on day one, I dropped off my suitcase/haemorrhoid camera off at my B+B, freshened up a bit, and set back into Edinburgh city centre. Royal Mile. The epicentre of the Festival. It’s a bright sunny day, and there are tourists and performers everywhere. The place is alive and abundant with the spirit of Festival summer. But I don’t notice that. The first thing I see? The posters. Big massive fuck off posters. Of comedians. Everywhere. People I know. On big fuck off life sized shiny posters. Acts I knew and have gigged with had huge professional shiny posters on walls, windows and billboards. Billboards! Acts I’d gigged with in tiny grimy little clubs and cat litter bins back in the early days, were here, now, on massive billboards. And here I was, a Festival virgin, the life suddenly drained out of me like a used tea bag.

Oh, fuck. I think I’ve made a terrible mistake.

I do not respond well to the success of others.

‘GO! GO BACK!! GO BACK HOME AND LIVE YOUR LIVES!! DO NOT TRY TO CONQUER EDINBURGH!! FOR EDINBURGH SHALL CONQUER YOOOOOOOU!!!’

Sun Aug 10th

No.105 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.106 Dada Comedy Ettrick Hogg + Woodward 6.15pm
2014-08-10 19.20.47
No.107 Laughter on the Outskirts, Wee Pub, Woodward Ettrick Hogg 7.30pm
2014-08-10 20.44.02
No.108 Ms Ettrick Hogg + Matt T Woodward Midnight Comedy, Espionage – The Kasbar Room
The Bite

Mon Aug 11th

No.109 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.110 Joe Grant’s Shit Show
2014-08-11 20.57.51

Tue Aug 12th

No.111 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.112 Alexis Weironiey How Not To Be An Adult, Ibis Hotel 5pm
2014-08-12 18.00.53
No. 113 Dada Comedy Ettrick Hogg + Woodward 6.15pm
2014-08-12 19.26.17

This is not good. I’m being bombarded with evidence, actual empirical real world evidence of my own relative failure, my own utter pathetic lack of career progress. These fucks are on billboards! Massive posters!! The only poster I’ve been on was for a college theatre piece about AIDs. Nearly 20 years ago. And that was just a photocopied A3 size of a drawing. Someone’s SHITTY little drawing. That was when I peaked. I peaked early in community college agit prop AIDs theatre. I was just 18. That’s an incredible achievement. Mark Zuckerburg started Facebook at 21. I beat that fuck by three years.

Wait a minute. Wait. It’s only day one. Day fucking one!! I have three weeks of this shit. I have a B+B booked, a venue booked, flyers printed and paid for, people to I’m responsible to. Stop walking back to the train station. Turn around. You must not let a few posters defeat you. Especially not those containing other comedians. Or, pertinently, people who are doing a fuck sight better than you. Let it go. Success is all relative. Half these fucks will probably have terrible Edinburghs. Hopefully.

Forget about them. Don’t worry about it. Go and check out your venue. Baby steps lad. Baby steps. I get my map out and begin the search for my venue. I try to block out the overwhelming knowledge of peer success. Which is nigh on impossible because people keep offering me their fucking flyers.

Wed Aug 13th

No.114 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.115 Laughter on the Outskirts, Wee Pub, Woodward Ettrick Hogg 7.30pm
2014-08-13 19.22.23

Thur Aug 14th

Day off!

Fri Aug 15th

No.116 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.117 Adam Money WhyNot night club 18:45
2014-08-15 19.43.12
No.118 Ms Ettrick Hogg + Matt T Woodward Midnight Comedy, Espionage – The Kasbar
2014-08-16 01.24.11

You’ve probably noticed something. Its the end of part two of my Edinburgh blog, and I still haven’t got past day one. There’s a reason for that. I’m procrastinating. I don’t want to dredge up the pain and memories of those three weeks. I’m not ready. It was like failure rehab. Being forced daily to confront who you are: A fuck up. But part three is next. I will have to deal with it. Next time, I’ll try my best to show you what happened. Just don’t be surprised if it comes in the form of incoherent screaming. So. Part three. Lets press ahead Joe. You have nothing to fear. Nothing to fear. Nothing to fear. Except maybe permanent psychological oblivion. And hermaphrodite ghosts.

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Edinburgh Festival. Part One. Gigs 80-100

This is it. The big one. MY FIRST EDINBURGH FESTIVAL.

Goal: Do 100 gigs

Secondary goal: Become a world famous comic behemoth

Goal three: Try not to become an inmate somewhere

I failed all of them. Fucking miserably.

Lets start with the journey up. How do I get up there? I thought long and hard about this. I thought so long and hard about it, I didn’t book anything til the day before and started running about all panicky poos trying to sort my travel. (It’s the way I live. Louche and laid back for months, not a care in the world, then one day of psychotic, frenzied panic) But which mode of transport shall I choose? Scotland is a long way, it’s at least 12 miles. (I dunno know how far it is, I’m not fucking Columbo. Columbo? Columbus? Did Columbo discover America? That would explain things. He was quite astute. Pretend to be a lowly apologetic one eyed hick. Lure people into a false sense of security. Discover America.) Again, I’ve left things to the last minute. It’s not going to be cheap. Train will be too expensive. So, I have to make a cheaper decision. Quick. How do I get up there? Rematerialization teleportation device? Einstein-Rosen Bridge wormhole? Or Megabus?

Friday Aug 1st
Gig No. 80 Joe Bains, Licence to Laugh 11pm
2014-08-02 00.17.02

No. 81 Matt T Woodward + Jo Ettrick Hogg Midnight Comedy, Espionage – The Kasbar Room
2014-08-02 02.06.17

I’m not using the teleportation device. Last time I turned into a fucking fly. That’s staying in the box. And the wormhole? Nah. There’s no point travelling all over the very edges of existence, through the totality of everything that exists, has existed, and ever will exist, just to get to go a few miles past Hadrians wall. Slight overkill there. (And there’d be a good chance you get back when they were fucking building it.) The third option – no. Just, no. 10 hours on a Megabus. No. 10 long interminable hours on a bus, stewing in other people’s farts. No. No. Fucking. Way. A 12 ton rancid shit box carrying a herd of penny pinching scum. Human bacteria, smothering up the environment with their stinking pathogens. All wearing sports casual. Smoking electronic vapour fags and picking scabs off their knees. (I love stereotyping the working class) If I could, anyone who smokes electronic cigarettes, I’d chuck em in when they were in the fucking bath. Fart bubbles aplenty.

A lot of people drink on the Megabus. Why wouldn’t you? It’s like a sensory deprivation tank. They might as well dress us all in orange, chain us to the seats and blind us with pink padded sleep masks. Actually no, thats a contradiction. They’re not like sensory deprivation tanks. It’s the opposite.They’re like sensory saturation tanks. They lock you in there and torture you for 10 hours by bombarding you with all manner of disgusting smells.You walk in as human beings, and walk out like a bag of stewed onions. Your sense of smell dying a slow pitiless death. Fuck that. I’ll get a train.

Sat Aug 2nd
Gig No. 82 Cracker Jokes Pilgrim Bar, Venue 100 4.15pm (Everyday)
2014-08-02 16.53.17
No. 83 Dr Electric Hoggs Dada Garden of Dark Delights, Maggie’s Chamber, The Free Sisters
2014-08-02 18.24.48
No. 84 Singles Night, George Next Door, Miranda Kane
2014-08-02 22.20.35
No. 85 Ms Ettrick Hogg + Matt T Woodward Midnight Comedy, Espionage – The Kasbar Room
2014-08-03 01.42.59
Sun Aug 3rd
No.86 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm
(Will post one photo in final part of Edinburgh blogs. Stupid uploading a new photo for every single show)
No. 87 Glang Show, Sean Morley 6.45pm
2014-08-03 18.51.34
No. 88 Barely Regal, Beat Nightclub, Stephen Palacito 7.45pm
2014-08-03 19.38.44
No. 89 Capital Comedy Club, Moriartys, Davy Mitchell 8.50pm
2014-08-03 21.36.01
No. 90 Singles Night, George Next Door, Miranda Kane 10.20pm
2014-08-03 23.20.13

Friday morning.

My train is at 10am. Lovely. A nice lie in. I get there at 10.01am. Why the fuck do I fall for the same lie every time? I should know by now: ‘Lie in’ = Being late.

“Never mind,” I thought. “This ticket is valid all day. I’ll get a nice breakfast snack then saunter onto the 11am train like Jamiroquai. Perfect”

Perfect? Was it fuck. This wasn’t my train, I hadn’t been allocated any seat. All the seats are gone. People are packed in like slaughterhouse pigs. Standing in the hallway bits, shifting, squatting, squirming in people’s moobs, sitting on the floor and/or very old men. (Old men make for good seating as it goes. Great for your back. When you position them correctly, they’re almost like orthopedic seats.) The only seat I’d been ‘allocated’ here was on my own fucking suitcase. Four hours I spent on that suitcase. Four miserable hours with my own suitcase handle probing my anus like a fibreoptic haemmorhoid camera.

Monday Aug 4th
No.91 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

Tue Aug 5th
No.92 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.93 Singles Night, George Next Door, Miranda Kane 10.20pm
2014-08-05 23.16.44
No.94 Ms Ettrick Hogg + Matt T Woodward Midnight Comedy, Espionage – The Kasbar Room
2014-08-06 01.04.07

I sat in front of the suitcase shelving unit next to the toilet. Yes, the toilet. Why? My only other option was to be one of the carriage hallway slaughter pigs. And least sitting on my own suitcase, I didn’t have to smell someones armpit. Being next to the toilet though, I had to smell people’s faeces. One thing I learned on that trip: Humans are shitting machines. If you think about it, thats all we are. Our bodies, all they do is produce voluminous amounts of shit. That’s it. No wonder the ozone layer is fucked. The train was packed. I had to stand up and down every few seconds for 4 hours. Up, down, up, down, up down. I developed quads like a Slovakian Hammer champ. I stood up and down more times than Kerry Katona in one of her workout videos. So, coupled with the 4 hour workout session, the smell of the toilet etc. by the time I got off the train I had big beefy legs, a deviated septum and an advertising contract with Iceland. Just like Kerry Katona.

Wed Aug 6th
No.95 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.96 Gary Shaw – Now That’s What I Call Stand-Up#1, Blind Poet, 5.15pm
2014-08-06 18.40.00

Thur Aug 7th
No.96 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm
Really nice audience of 4 people!
2014-08-07 17.10.09

Edinburgh. Train station exit. I did not know the fuck where I was, or where my B+B was. My first job was to get my bearings, buy a map and see where I was in relation to the B+B and Royal Mile, the apparent epicentre of all things Festivial. (I’m not sure if that’s a word. If it isn’t, then I’ve invented it. Ah’m loike fackin’ Shakespeare. Also, like Shakespeare, ‘I’m’ not really writing this. I am actually a well mounted Gentleman of the Court, and I wouldn’t be seen dead publishing second rate comedy blogs. I’ve made a secret pact with the young peasant Joe Hunter, who shall claim the credit for my works.)

Friday Aug 8th
No.97 Cracker Jokes 4.15pm

No.98 Dada Ettrick Hogg + Woodward 6.15pm
2014-08-08 19.13.23
No.99 Cheaper Than Therapy, George Quinn, 11pm
2014-08-08 22.39.27
No.100 Ms Ettrick Hogg + Matt T Woodward Midnight Comedy, Espionage – The Kasbar Room
2014-08-09 00.29.39

The quads came in handy. The first thing I had to do was walk up some really steep stairs from the station up to Royal Mile. A long fuck off steep set of stairs. It was like an upright wall. I needed mountaineering gear not quads. Ranulph Fiennes himself would have looked at it and said ‘Piss off! Piss off mate, yer ‘avin a larf ain’tcha?? Fack all that mate ah’m off!’ Gone back to base camp and ate one of his egg sandwiches in his toilet tent. I did not have that luxury. I had forge ahead. Carrying my suitcase. (Which, actually, made a pleasant change from having it lodged up my arsehole.) So. Ahead. I have arrived. The Festival is just beyond the top of those stairs…

Part Two coming to a cinema near you.

Bonus mould blog

I’ve been requested by one of my fans to write a bonus blog about demoulding. OK. I’ll give it my best shot.

Two days ago I noticed black mould creeping up the wall underneath my sink. “Right”, I said, “next time I go to the shops I’m getting some mould cleaner”. Two days passed. I still hadn’t bought any. And in those two days, my fear of black mould began to creep into my psyche like..well…black mould. Black mould is dangerous toxic shit, and if you breathe it in for long enough, you’ll have health problems like Tiny Tim. You’ll need proper medical care and a serious drug program if you’re going to get over it. A big christmas chicken from Mr Scrooge won’t cut it. So two days passed, and fuck it. I bit the bullet. I bought some mould cleaner, some sponges, plastic gloves and one of the those scrubbing sponges on a stick. “I’m going to deal with this. I can’t rely on Mr Scrooge for outdated medical care”

I got home with my bag of assorted mould weaponry, and went to work. Mould war. Lets do this. The first thing I did, I sprayed the mould with the cleaner. Instructions: Spray liberally, then wait five minutes. Mmm. Five minutes. Just enough time for a quick poo. I take a book into the toilet and kill five minutes. (It took 6 minutes, but who’s counting?) I pull my trousers up and make for my kitchen. An lo!! The black mould HAS DISAPPEARED. All of it – gone! Like invisible ink! Amazing stuff. Suddenly, I no longer have black mould. I no longer have that noxious lung nemesis infecting my clean air. My anxieties melt away and all is restored in Joe Hunter’s miserable little universe. And there did end one’s amazing mould adventures.

There.

Regretting asking me already eh? (If you feel like you’ve just wasted two minutes of your life reading this, how do you think I feel having spent 10 minutes writing it?)

Evil mould
evil mould

Blog INTERMISSION

Blog INTERMISSION

Er, hiya! How’s it going? Alright? Cool. Me? Yeah, I’m er, good! Cool. Where have I been? Nowhere! Honest!

OK thats bollocks.

You want the truth? Ok. I’ll tell you the truth. Er, I’ve been in China! Yeah! Been um..training as a sleeper assassination agent. Yeah…Just waiting for my first mission now!

OK thats bollocks.

You want the truth? Ok. I’ll tell you the truth. Erm..I’ve been in South America! Yeah! River Plate signed me a striker and I’ve been banging in the goals but then my family got kidnapped and I’ve come back home because it’s safer.

OK thats bollocks.

I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!! I CAN’T TAKE THIS SHIT!! I CAN’T STAND THE LIES!!!

You want the truth? OK, heres the truth. Erm… I’ve been in Mexico! No this is the truth this time. Mexico. For real. Why? You know that bit in Born on the Fourth of July when Tom Cruise fucks off to Mexico to drink tequila and sleep with whores to get over his disillusion with the war? Well that was me after Edinburgh. Yes. Edinburgh was my Vietnam. I very much see myself like a modern day Ron Kovic. You might think it would be crass to compare myself with a man who lost his legs. But I’m going to do it anyway. When I got back from Edinburgh, I lost my legs. My comedy legs. I spent the first month in September doing gigs with missing limb syndrome, scratching an itch that wasn’t there. Convinced I was still OK and I’d left all the bad shit back in the war. Then slowly I realised I really had lost my legs, and fucked off to Mexico. If you still think this analogy is crass, you have NO idea was Edinburgh was like. YOU WEREN’T THERE MAN!!!! YOU WEREN’T FUCKING THERE!! There are real war veterans right now, all over the world, with missing limbs, all saying the same thing: ‘I might have no legs, but man…At least I’ve never had to do three weeks in Edinburgh during Festival month’. (OK, it’s getting crass. All donations to this edition of this blog will go to Poppies. Not the charity, I have developed a private heroin factory to ease the pain of my stumps.)

Edinburgh burned me out. I’ll cover that when the time comes. Then September. And October. And November. Amd December. Oh, Christ. So much blog to catch up on.

So think of this as an Intermission. Like they had in old fashioned moves. Like they had in Kubricks’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. That film’s very similar to my blog. The film is a meditative masterpiece set in the ancient past and not too distant future, ultimately a speculation on a possible final evolutionary step for mankind. Moving beyond the physical and the technological, toward the metaphysical and the transcendental. The dark monoliths gently nudging humanity toward perfect knowledge and transendental rebirth.

And my blog… Well..er…it’s got monkeys in it?

Monkey-smiling

So yeah. Thats what this is. An intermission. Sometimes films/blogs are so intense you need breaks. But now, coming soon in a browser near you, part two of my 365 challenge is coming. Be warned. It’s gonna get freaky.

Born-on-the-Fourth-of-July1

(Me, arriving home on the train from Edinburgh)

July 11th – 31st, Gigs 69 – 79. The Gigshank Redemption

Erm. Hello. It’s been a long while hasn’t it. Sorry about that. Why have I been gone so long? Well, to my shame, I’ve been in prison.

Eh?

Let me explain: I’ve been slacking off. Not with the gigs. I’ve been keeping up with the gigs, I’m on target. Promise. (Dunno why I’m making promises. I’ve broken more promises than a fruit machine addict with four kids. And, by ‘on target’ I really mean ‘behind already by about a month and a half’). No. This fucking blog. This absolute arseache of a blog. Since I’ve moved I’ve had no unlimited wireless internet at home. I can’t afford a new package right now. And I still haven’t figured out how to steal/siphon off other people’s internet like Richie and Eddie stealing the next door neighbours gas. GAS MAN!!! GAS MAN!! GAS MAN!!! (If you don’t get this reference, GET OUT OF MY LIFE) So I have to travel to internet cafes or the library just to go online. What a fucking arseache. So I’ve been putting off the blogs. But I have to do Edinburgh. So I have to get these blogs done. I have to clear all accounts. So I looked at my wall chart and counted how many blogs I need to catch up on.

Eleven.

Fucking ELEVEN.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am genuinely a broken man. 11 blogs to catch up on. ELEVEN. I feel like I’ve been given a life sentence. I feel like this:
shawshankredemption-9

So how the hell am I gonna catch up with this shit? Easy. 11 blogs – that’s a prison sentence. I’ve been sent down for life. I’VE GOT ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD

“Cause I’ve got all the time in the world
All my life for you, girl
Now the timin’ is right
Baby, we’ve got all night!”

boyzone2

* A lesser known classic by seminal Irish Rock Band ‘The Boyzone’

July 11th, Friday. Gig No.69, Dog House, Kennington

I will not talk about the gigs. I will talk the hard time I’ve suffered as I write this blog. This first post – my first five years in jail. The hardest five years.

The Doghouse! How apt. I’m in right in it. This gig, I was taken there in a prison bus handcuffed to all the other acts. As we entered, we were lined up in a dark room in front of the promoter warden. She starts talking about “Discipline, and the Bible”.

One act pipes up.

“When do we go on?”

One of the promoter warden’s guards starts screaming at him

“YOU GO ON WHEN WE SAY YOU GO ON! YOU
PISS WHEN WE SAY YOU PISS! YOU SHIT
WHEN WE SAY YOU SHIT! YOU SLEEP
WHEN WE SAY YOU SLEEP! YOU MAGGOT-
DICK MOTHERFUCKER!”

Then he rams his club into the acts belly, sending him collapsing to the floor in a wheezing, asthmatic mess.

Oh. It’s gonna be one of them gigs.

(Your enjoyment of this blog will depend entirely on having watched the Shawshank Redemption. If you’ve not seen it and want to find this blog funny, you’d better go watch it pronto.)

Gig No.69 done. Promoter warden So Ying Pang (“Rule number one: No blaspheming. I’ll not have the Lord’s name taken in vain in my gig”.)
2014-07-11 22.03.25

14th July, Monday. Gig No.70, Hideaway, Tufnell Park

The acts upstairs walk down into this dingy basement bar, cuffed in chains, each of us barely suppressing our private terror. The punters are taking bets on which of us will crack first.

Joe Grant, the horrible promoter, motions to one of his stinking little minions:

“Delouse that piece of shit! Next man in!”

He flings a huge scoop of delousing powder in my face. I collapse in a heap on the floor, coughing and spluttering in a heaving shitty mess.

Oh. It’s gonna be one of them gigs.

Gig No.70 done. Promoter/weasel Joe Grant
2014-07-14 22.01.24

July 15th, Tuesday. Gig No. 71, TNT, Kentish Town

Next, we are shoved into the Infirmary. The MC Jake Pickford is in a white coat, bored expression, a pair of white rubber gloves, and a big pen light slash forward anal probe.

“SQUAT!!”

I bend over. Mr Pickford puts the penlight in his teeth, and has a good root around in my shitpipe. I don’t argue back.

(I don’t remember this scene in the actual film, have I imagined it?)

Gig No. 72 done. MC/Anus Dr Jake Pickford
2014-07-15 21.53.17

July 17th, Thursday. Gigs No. 72 + 73, Rascals, Stag’s Head + Genesis Cinema, Whitechapel

Ah, mama mi. They say your first two years in prison are the hardest. They don’t lie. I spend the next two years/gigs being serenaded and courted by ‘The Sisters’. John Talbot (Bogs) and Sammy Tuitalifalinoa’a (Rooster). The Bull Queers. Two vile men rapists* hell bent on turning me into the prison fairy.

The first night was the toughest. The Sisters taunted me with their creepy vibes:

“Fishee fishee fisheeee…You’re
gonna like it here, new fish. A
whooole lot…Make you wish your
daddies never dicked your
mommies…You takin’ this down, new
fish?”

The next day. The showers. Talbot stands next to me, naked as the baby he kidnapped. He sizes me up like a fresh loaf. (Don’t ask) He makes a pass at me. I rebuff him, turning my back. (Probably not the best of ideas, as this gives him the ideal opportunity to sneak a peak at my cheeky bottom).

Sammy and John, the Sisters, then proceed to chase me for two years, two long years, until that fateful day when Talbot tries to force me to suck him off:

“Now I’m gonna open my fly, and
you’re gonna swallow what I give
you to swallow. And when you
do mine, you gonna swallow
Rooster’s. You done broke his nose,
so he ought to have somethin’ to
show for it.”

Only to be told I’ll bite down on his yoghurt slinger harder than Jaws wolfing down some chum.

Bogs steps back.

To Rooster: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”

*this is definitely a joke. They are not, I repeat not, prison fairy rapists

Gig No. 72 + Gig No. 73 done. MC/Promoter John Talbot + MC/Promoter Sammy Tuitalifalinoa’a – The ‘Sisters’. ‘The Bull Queers’
2014-07-17 19.33.32

2014-07-17 22.53.57

18th July, Friday. Gig No. 74, Theatre Royal Comedy Club, Windsor

Head Guard James Lillis is talking about his financial problems while we’re tarmacing the roof. (We do comedy mainly, but occasionally we’ll be required to do other jobs for stage time in return). He starts talking about his wife. I stop tarmacing and stand up.

“Do you trust your wife?”

He turns to me. He asks me to repeat myself.

“Do you trust your wife?”

He grabs me and surges toward the edge of the roof. I quickly tell him all sorts of practical financial advice and win the tarmac crew some free beer. Then I tell em I fucked his wife.
andy3

Gig No. 74 done. MC/Promoter/Head guard James Lillis and other assorted loonies
2014-07-18 21.27.34

21st July, Monday. Gig No. 75, Rhythm Factory, Aldgate

I am doing less comedy and more accounting for all the other acts. They all bring their receipts in to the gig and queue up as I legally shelter all their cash and help them avoid tax. Weirdly, Gary Barlow is in the queue. I didn’t know he’s started doing comedy? Jimmy Carr is there too, but the promoter tells him to piss off

Gig No. 75 done, MC/Promoter Geoff Alderman
2014-07-21 21.15.18

24th July, Thursday. Gig No. 76, G+B Comedy, Camden

An new inmate/act tells me a story that an inmate/comedian at another prison/gig claimed responsibility for doing the 365 challenge! He can prove my innocence (This whole Shawshank thing is getting a bit weird/implausible. Fuck it. Lets drag this shit out to the bitter end.) If someone else is doing this challenge, I can stop writing this fucking blog!!!

I go to the warden. I tell him my story:

“I am trapped in a never ending blog nightmare, and if another act is doing the 365 challenge, I can finally stop writing it and you can release me from prison!!”

He looks at me. He has no fucking clue what I’m talking about. He’s just a comedy promoter. I’m just some act he’s booked to do 5 minutes.

“We must take his deposition and go to the court of appeals!! I can be a free man!!”

He looks at me like I’ve smeared myself in shit. He says, er, I’ll be on in 5 minutes. He smiles at me like I’m carrying a knife.

What??

“How can you be so OBTUSE?”

“WHAT?? What did you call me?”

“Obtuse! Is it deliberate?”

He goes APESHIT.

“Don’t ever mention this shit to me again!!”

He presses an intercom. (No idea why he has an intercom)

“Get in here! NOW! “

His burly guards storm in

“Solitary! A month!”

A MONTH??

“What’s the matter with you?? It’s my
chance to get out, don’t you see
that? It’s my life! Don’t you
understand it’s my life???”

I am dragged kicking and screaming into solitary, thrown into the darkness and I collapse, crying like a baby.

Gig No. 76 done, MC/Promoter/Warden Kyle Wallace
2014-07-24 21.36.16

25th July, Friday. Gig No. 77, T Bird Bar, Finsbury Park

After two months in the hole, I come out of solitary. I sit on the floor, leaning against a wall, staring at the other walls. My imaginary friend, Red, an articulate, well spoken Basset Hound, sits beside me. We have a deep conversation about life and I fuck off. But not before I give him instructions to meet me in Mexico. Which is perturbing to my friend Red, as he doesn’t have a passport. He’s a fucking Basset Hound. He has a worried look on his face.

“He’s talkin funny…” (Told you he was articulate)
basset-hound-howard_34698_990x742

Gig No. 78 done. MC/Promoter Marilyn Muruako
2014-07-25 20.17.38

28th July, Monday. Gig No. 78, Hideaway, Tufnell Park

Red the Morgan Freeman Basset Hound is worried about me. I’m talking funny, and I’ve started wearing the wardens shoes:

“I have had some long nights in
stir. Alone in the dark with
nothing but your thoughts, time can
draw out like a blade…

That was the longest night of my
life… “

Stop banging on you moaning little cunt

Gig No. 78 done. MC/Rapist Joe Grant
2014-07-28 22.28.14

July 31st, Thursday Gig No. 79, Wickham Arms, New Cross

That’s it!!! I’VE ESCAPED!!! YEEEE HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!
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How did I escape? Long story short, I dug a hole in the wall of this gig and robbed the promoter. He wasn’t happy, and neither was the pub. Still, fuck em.

Red gets paroled from the prison of my subconscious mind. He books his tickets to Mexico.

Red, the Morgan Freeman Basset Hound:

“I find I am so excited I can barely
sit still or hold a thought in my
head. I think it is the excitement
only a free man can feel, a free
man at the start of a long journey
whose conclusion is uncertain…

I hope I can make it across the
border…

I hope to see my friend
and shake his hand…

I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been
in my dreams…

I hope…”

At last. Mammoth blog done!! All I have to do now is chill out, relax, and enjopy my hard earned freedom. And do my Edinburgh blog. Oh, wait a minute. Oh, fuck.
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Gig No. 79 done. Promoter/Mc Douglas Layton
2014-07-31 20.03.11

 

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July 2nd – July 11th 2014. Gigs No. 64, 65, 66, 67, 68. The Great Joe Hunter Laughter Famine

I’ve hit the skids. This is it. My Great Depression. My Great Laughter Potato Famine. Every single time I go on stage, I die on my arsehole. Laughter poverty. It’s the worst disease there is.

You know what a laughter famine is like? You know when a depression comes – A great crash comes, and people are unemployed. The unemployed have no wage and cannot buy things, which causes more businesses to go bankrupt and creates more unemployment? That’s exactly what it’s like. You get no laughs at one gig and have no confidence to do your jokes at your next gig, which causes more laughter voids and creates more lack of confidence. In the end, you are a broken man, travelling in an old mobile wooden shack, ruminating on the hardships of life, travelling to a new land in search of hope, dignity and a future.

Gig No. 64, Wednesday 2nd July, Old School Yard.

This is where the whole famine started. Front row, 3 girls. All three of them couldn’t stand to look at me. Literally look at the floor, at the ceiling, anywhere but at me. Even when I talked to them. I literally couldn’t do my act. Impossible to do your act when the audience won’t even look at you. Got off.

Gig No. 64 done. MC/Promoter Brian Chimombo
2014-07-02 21.48.55

Gig No. 65, Thursday 3rd July, Battersea Barge

Oh, me. I followed a rather attractive Spanish Burlesque act who got her knockers out (Saving her modesty with tasteful nipple twirlers) and as I walked out they immediately took a disliking to me. Course they did. I FOLLOWED SOMEONE WHO GOT HER TITS OUT. Actually it wasn’t that kind of crowd. Not a pervy sex club. A gig on a barge. A good gig, a joyful, up for it audience. I have no excuses. I died on my hole.

Gig No. 65 done. Promoter Paul L Martin
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Gig No. 66, Fri 4th July, Tottenham Chances

Now, after two rotten gigs, I’m going on with low self esteem and little confidence. Apologetic. They pick up on that, and assume I’m shit. One bloke decides to walk off right in front of the stage halfway through one of my bits. (By bits I mean jokes, not my genitals)

Gig N. 66 done. Promoter Jason Why
2014-07-04 20.44.59

Gig. No. 67, Mon 7th July, Hideaway

More laughter void. I have a little Facebook rant to blow off steam. Someone suggests at the next gig I do, I say to myself: ‘I don’t give a SHIT if I die on my arse”. I resolve to try it.

Gig 67 done. MC Stephanie Laing
2014-07-07 22.32.58

Gig No. 68, Thur 10th July, Pegasus

So. I try it. “I don’t give a shit if I die on my arse”. And I die on my arse. But, strangely, I feel OK about it. Maybe the Famine has turned a corner. Light at the end of the tunnel. The rains have fallen on the lands, and the seeds are finally beginning to grow. A new dawn, the smell of spring. A butterfly fluttering it’s wings in the dew fresh morn. It better not fly near me, I’ll kill it.

Gig No. 68 done. MCs Matt Smith and Gary Knightley
2014-07-10 22.21.16

I’ll end with a quote from the Grapes of Wrath:

“Men who have created new fruits in the world cannot create a system whereby their fruits may be eaten. And the failure hangs over the State like a great sorrow. …and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”

How this applies to my comedy journey? Fuck if I know. He’s talking about angry grapes. Fuck is he on about? He’s mental. Let me try another quote:

“For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it.”

Yes Steinbeck. You’re right. When everything crashes around you, as long as you keep stepping forward, you’ll come out the other side. Step forward and keep going. Keep going and maybe, just maybe, you’ll outrun the angry grapes.
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July 1st, Tuesday. Gig No. 63, Bear Jokes, London Fields

This gig is in Hackney. Walking along the high street, I liked the vibe. Theatres, cafes, arts venues. A nice, cool, chilled out vibe. Even the pigeons were chilled out:

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Then I walked past the Hackney Empire. Wow. That brought back memories. Back in the day, in my mid 20s, I decided to do stand up. This was it. This was my thing. So I went to check out some comedy. Which happened to be an early heat of the Hackney Empire awards. What I remember most about that gig was how nervous it made me. Watching the acts perform in front of a huge black backdrop, (A vast macro cosmic void of nothingness) with an audience comprised mainly of other acts and judges (A vast macro cosmic void of twats), it struck me how incredibly vulnerable you are up there as a performer. That made me extremely nervous. I remember my knees shaking as I walked out. What the FUCK have I let myself in for.

Fast forward to present day, and I am walking to Bear Jokes to perform gig number 63 of my challenge. I am not nervous. When I started stand up I would get nervous the moment I booked my first gig several months away, and those nerves would stay with me every waking moment until my hair fell out. Now, I don’t get nervous at all (Bollocks. But the truth doesn’t serve my joke.) Until I saw this:

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The function room upstairs has been hired out (Yes, pubs always drop the comedy if they get actual paying customers wanting to give cash for the room. They drop you like a hot sack of shit) so the comedy night has been demoted and moved downstairs. And when I saw this sign, I honestly thought we’d be performing in the actual toilet. Why did this make me nervous? I can’t ‘go’ when people are watching. (It wasn’t really worth it was it?)

But no, we aren’t in the Unisex toilet. (It’s not actually a Unisex toilet, it’s a women’s toilet that’s been temporarily transformed into a Unisex toilet cause it’s the only way to get to the function room in the basement. Great. To get into the gig, you have to walk past a row of shitting women.) A rather tough little gig. A lot of work needing to be done with a girl in front who works in a Camping shop. (She heckles me. Me: ‘Go sell some fucking tents’. It’s all very good natured.)

What did I get from the sudden contrast of the memory of nerves when I first decided to do comedy, to where I am now? Basically: Existential futility. Why do I fucking bother. Nine years later and I’m doing a gig down the road for free on a Tuesday night in a basement that stinks of disinfectant and shit.

Ah, only kidding. It’s a nice gig and a decent room. The lady who sells tents was very nice too and we even swapped telephone numbers. No we didn’t. Anyone wanna buy an IPHONE? I need the money to go camping.

Gig No. 63 done. MC/Promoter Andy Quirk
2014-07-01 21.03.27

June 29th, Sunday. Gig No.62, Bottom Fest, Rik Mayall tribute night, Purple Turtle

A one off night, hundreds of Rik Mayall fans watching Rik stuff on a big screen, with a couple of acts on in between. Me, following the King, on HIS day, to perform for a load of his hardcore fans. Shat myself? Fuck yes. Like Richie did when Eddie electrocuted him with the cattle prod. Did my five minutes. A pleasure and a privilege.

Gig No 62 done. Promoter Mick Wood
2014-07-04 22.27.42

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June 28th, Saturday. Gig No. 61, Monkey Business, Sir Richard Steele pub, Belsize Park

A few weeks ago at a gig I walked on stage feeling really relaxed for some reason. And all I did was smile and I got a big laugh. They liked me instantly. Then afterwards, one of the acts said to me that ‘You have instantaneous likeability’. That stuck in my head. It stuck in my head and made me overly conscious of it. And now, every time I make my entrance, that weighs on my mind and I feel pressure. So I’m not relaxed. It’s made me overly conscious of the ‘likeability’ when I walk on stage, and it’s become a mental albatross. Once it became a conscious thing, it made me feel uncomfortable, like I had to replicate it. It makes me worry about not replicating it. It’s become a thing.

It’s weird. It’s like when you fail to get an erection one time with a girl. It’s so embarrassing, you worry about not getting one the next time you sleep her. And when you do get her back in your room, (Or dungeon, whatever you’re in to) your anxiety about it kills your erection. And it becomes a thing. Before you know it, you’re actually impotent. You can’t get an erection with women at all. Every time you see a naked girl on your bed/torture rack, your penis shrivels up like wet cling film. Then you start to question your sexuality. You worry that you might be a homosexual. So you dabble in gay sex, and threesomes with young Moroccan men. And with them you don’t have any anxiety about getting erections, so you convince yourself you are indeed gay, and spend rest of your life in a loving partnership with a nice man called Donald. You live in a quiet cul de sac in Surrey, where you grow geraniums and dress up in leather bondage gear and cock and ball torture kits. Well, that’s what my entrances are like.

Those first few seconds on stage are actually crucial. They are key. If you don’t seem relaxed, and you’re uncomfortable, that transmits immediately to the audience that you have no faith in yourself and thus are probably not very good. And they lose belief in you. They have to believe you’ll be funny. If they don’t believe it, they won’t laugh. Even if your stuff is really good, proven funny, repeatedly, if on a particular night you walk on looking hesitant and awkward, they’ll think you’ll be shit and sit there, staring at you like a group of tired, pissed off haemophiliacs.

That’s part of the job. Convincing the audience you are funny. I’ve seen very, very good acts with superb material slightly hesitate when they started, or not quite commit with any conviction to their material, the audience lost faith, and they died like an anxiety fuelled penis . Conversely if someone sees a super confident young act with slick, well rehearsed delivery and who follows all the right patterns in their writing so it ‘sounds’ like stand up, and it is delivered with commitment and conviction, the audience will become subliminally convinced they are funny. Thus, we have J**k W*******l. As funny as anal bleeding, but rehearses his act so well doesn’t he? (His favourite method is to go off on a big rant that goes on forever, and then at the end round it off with a climax. He does this a lot. Audiences instinctively give a round of applause, essentially because he’s remembered a big rant and rehearsed it really well. It’s a con. J**k W*******l is to comedy what Andy Coulson is to phone calls.)

So anyway, that is my note to self: Stop over thinking about your likeability and learn to commit with conviction to what you’re doing. And con people into thinking you’re funny.

Gig No. 61 done. MC/Promoter Martin Besserman
2014-06-28 22.07.45

June 27th, Friday. Gig No. 60, T Bird Bar, Finsbury Park

Gig went fairly well. Tried some new stuff. Tried an old joke I did years ago but didn’t do again. Now I remember why. Cause it hurts when I do it. Physically. It really fucking hurts. I probably deserve it really, cause it takes the piss out of epileptics. (You can see where this is going already eh? Wankers)

Basically, the joke is this:

Julius Caesar. Did you know he was epileptic? That’s ironic isn’t it? He was the most powerful man in the known world, commanded the largest army in the world. Yet he couldn’t even command his own body

“I came, I saw, I conq…” SUDDEN MASSIVE FIT ON THE FLOOR

Yes. I threw myself on the floor and had a rather convincing fit. Even one of the punters came up to me afterwards and said she thought it was real. Too real. Well, I woke up the next morning covered in fucking bruises, so yes, it was real. I’ve done it about three times now, and every time I get bruises. Bruises on my ankles, knees and elbows. I look like a model for one of those domestic abuse posters. (Imagine, you embark on a career as a model, and the only work you can get is for domestic abuse posters. Or brittle bone disease.) Here’s the one on my elbow:

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So I am retiring this joke. As I finished onstage, I retired it. But I said something curious. I said: “That is the first and last time I’m ever performing that joke, so you have witnessed something special”. Or something to that effect. “The first time”? Why did I say that was the first time I said it. It isn’t. As I said, I’ve performed it maybe three times. But the last two times years and years ago. It was one of the first jokes I wrote. I accidentally kicked a woman’s leg in the front row when I first did it. She was really REALLY angry with me. She came up to me after the show to complain that it was deeply offensive to epileptics. I argued that I had tested it to AN ACTUAL EPILEPTIC and he thought it was funny. (Though to be fair, he has a chillingly sick sense of humour. He came round our house once and showed us a website of dead people dressed up as characters from South Park and laughed like a drain. It still disturbs me) Anyway, I retired it. I apologised for kicking her in the leg – you know, assaulting her – and to all epileptics vicariously through this sanctimonious witch. (She wasn’t pissed off for epileptics, she was pissed off for her leg. To be fair though, she probably had a big bruise too. See, I’m not the only one who gets hurt doing this joke. The audience gets hurt too)

So I retired it after her, I retired it after the second time when I woke up with more bruises than someone with a congential bone disorder, and now I’ve retired it again, this time for good. But with a lie. Why did I lie? It wasn’t the first time I performed it. I’ve done it before. The lie just popped out. Onstage. Afterwards, when I spoke about it to an act, he asked if that was really the first time I performed it, and without any time to think, I said “Yes”. I MAINTAINED THE LIE. Why the fuck did I do that? Why is it even worth lying about? The lie popped out impulsively, and suddenly I was forced to maintain it. I bet that’s how compulsive liars and con men start. With an innocent lie. The lie gets reinforced in some way, and they’re obliged to maintain it. Then another lie is need to prop up that lie. Then another. And another. Before you know it, 5 years later, you have no idea who you are. You’re on the run from the police, you have several false identities, and you’re plotting to fake your own death by pretending to die in a canoe. Then escape to Peru to live a new life as a peasant. Well.

IT STOPS NOW. I’M COMING CLEAN. I HAVE PERFORMED THIS JOKE BEFORE AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS ABOUT IT.

“I’ve got to break free
I want to break free, yeah
I want, I want, I want, I want to BREAK free…”

AND I LIED ABOUT IT. I DO CARE SLIGHTLY WHO KNOWS ABOUT THIS, CAUSE IT’S FUCKING WEIRD.

“Save me, save me, save me
I can’t face this life alone
Save me, save me, save me…
I’m naked and I’m far from home…”*

*Queen lyrics. Always good for a laugh

Gig No. 60 done. MC Gwilum Argos

*Picture to be uploaded as I forgot to take it. Will get it sorted ASAP

Meanwhile, here is a picture of a Chihuahua that sat on my lap at Hideaway last week:
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This brings to mind one of my first Facebook statuses all those years ago:

“Joe..is forcing himself on a Pekingese Chihuahua”

This time, a Chihuahua is forcing itself on me

*Chihuahua is really hard to spell, I had to Google it. I also had to Google “Is it illegal to sexually assault a Chihuahua”. Funny how a minor spell check search can wind up. (*Deletes History)

** I’m enjoying getting some use out of the *star button. I shall have to find ways to make use of it more often:

“Joe Hunter is the new star of comedy” *****

*That’s going on my poster

**And so is my Chihuahua