Broken Biscuits No.13.

At the risk of overloading you with information, it’s time to push this forthcoming show. The haphazard, leaky vessel that you have come to know and love as Broken Biscuits has been thrust into uncharted territory and somehow we will deliver. Brighton Fringe‘s The Warren is a pretty big deal for any performer in the UK, and we’ve been given a showcase night at The Main House (the biggest of their four stages) on Weds 31st May. Yes, it’s scary and yes, it’s cost eye-watering amounts to get us where we are, but we’ve got a great product and it’s time to put it out there. And with your help and support, we’ll do just that. If you’ve not yet been to one of the shows (or even if you have), now’s the time. Seriously.

For this one, the line-up is wonderful: the two Jennys (Vegas & Lockyer) are on board and, as you will already know from previous posts, absolutely superb. We’re also lucky beyond language to have Joanna Neary with us, one of the finest character comics of our time. The inimitable Kate Tym is back as compere with, no doubt, some accompanying kick-ass poetry. And father/son combo Joss Perring & Nick Hollywood will once again cast their audio/visual spell and transform the space, as they already have done with us twice at Komedia. Dan Laidler‘s Windy’s Farm will get its biggest ever screening too! All in all, it’s going to be quite spectacular.

I’ll not bang on: there’s still heaps to do and nine days left. But if we could just ask you to like and share, spread the word etc… we’d be more than grateful. There’s some radio promo coming on Juice FM this Friday (airs Sunday) with Brighton’s very own Boogaloo Stu, and you may see a zombified insomniac trawling the Laines with flyers and that as the day approaches. If you do, you know the drill x

Broken Biscuits No.12.

BB12, despite stealing every strand of my will to live from my trembling, broken body, was truly magnificent: anyone there will back me up on this. A three night extravaganza in one of the coolest spots in Hove as part of Brighton Fringe, with every act at the top of their game and the loveliest, most supportive audience we could possibly have wished for. I’m going to go all Gwyneth Paltrow on you in a minute so perhaps it’s best to give you a rundown before I do:

Joe Duggan kicked it all off, with his inimitable word-perfect prose that charmed and challenged the room in equal measures. You could have heard a pin drop as he spoke. Quite, quite extraordinary.

Julitha Ryan‘s gut-wrenching piano ballads were so moving, heartfelt and beautifully performed, the hairs are still standing upright on my arms as I type this. Watch the video below. Then watch it again. You’ll thank me.

Thanks to the eternal gift of his surname, Elvis Parsley was once again in the building. And he owned that crowd for the first time in forty years, yesiree. Don’t think I’ve seen a reincarnated star of yesteryear bring the roof down quite like that, well, ever. The King was on fire, and the rest of us were wet with laughter.

That Jenny Vegas has upped her game, I can tell you. With puppets re-enacting domestic abuse that still managed to be hilarious, and a torch song nicked and adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber that was genuinely heartbreaking. Don’t let on though, she’s handful enough as it is.

Vivienne Westnorwood continued her upward trajectory to be the maddest punk rock grandmother on the planet. No one knew quite what to make of her (herself included), until she hollered, howled and screeched her way into everyone’s hearts via the medium of song and general weirdness. I’ll have what she’s having, please.

Headbackbob were sublime. All Weimar cabaret meets gypsy punk, headed up by Nadia Strahan whose stunning voice can knock small birds out of the trees at fifty paces. Everyone was on their feet and loving every second; the perfect way to round off an evening.

Daniel Laidler‘s Windy’s Farm had its best reception yet. I swear there were people on the verge of tears by the end, and quite vocal with it. Danny boy, we need some more, your public demands it!

A small mention for Idle Eye, I suppose. Although it appears he gave it some welly, no one’s entirely sure what he’s so livid about. All that shouting will only knock up his blood pressure, bless him. We’re thinking a whale music cassette and some tantric sex might do the trick; just saying.

Hope you enjoy the videos. Next up is Brighton Fringe‘s The Warren on 31st May, I’ll be coming atcha for this one ‘cos it’s massive. But first, I need a long waz and a sleep x

Idle Eye 195 : The Fringe Benefits

There is a fulcrum at which most rational human beings hit the flashpoint of incandescent rage. For some, it can be relatively insignificant: a cooker ring fails to ignite on cue/the washing machine was set to tepid for those difficult whites/an old friend has posted another holiday selfie when you’re hoiking out hair from the shower basin and wondering if you’ll ever see the sun again. But for the rest of us, the idiocy of others can be more than enough to tip you over the edge; when you become a deranged Michael Douglas in Falling Down; when you would exchange your hospital bed (if such things still exist) for a Kalashnikov and stumble out into the street, high on budget laxatives, in order to spew your disgust onto and into an unsuspecting public. At which point you would turn the muzzle, still white-hot and smoking, thrust it down the back of your throat until you are at the point of gagging, and wait for the lights to go out. Some things just do this to you.

Today, Pippa Middleton got married to some bloke I’ve never heard of. The news appeared on my Facebook feed and then, as I was mentally haemorrhaging, Radio Four announced it as the “society event of the year”. Now, it so happens I’ve been using R4 as a kind of aural sedative for some time now: not because I’m particularly riveted by a lot of the content, but because the alternatives are beyond puerile and at least they have the faint gift of being able to string a sentence together. So when that statement was aired, it was the equivalent of your mother pissing into your school lunchbox (when you’d specifically included avocado). I know some of you like that kind of thing but it’s really not my bag.

I went back to the computer and this chinless Herbert was coming at me from all sides, like in Batman when The Joker manifests himself on every platform that existed in 1960s fiction. Said hedge person had clearly muscled in on that most saleable of assets, a next-to-royal derrière with next-to-nothing between the ears, and was touting his investment in the only way he knew how: via his chums in the media. Oh yes, all sorts were there to give it the requisite gravitas: tennis ace Roger Federer, someone off Made in Chelsea, a princess or two and the fetid saliva trail of the Mail and the Telegraph. And it looks like it was a wonderful day for all concerned: my bosoms were bursting with British pride.

I mention this because I’m tentatively learning to manage my anger levels. By ejaculating my disdain onto the page, I, by default, become a better, more well-rounded individual that you’d feel comfortable curling up alongside of an evening. Everyone needs a valve, right? You get me? Good. Now fuck off and make me a cup of tea.

Broken Biscuits No.12.

Last minute heads up for this. If you’ve been on the social you’ll already know, but I’ve been pulled in more directions than an Irish road sign of late and to be perfectly frank, I forgot. However, we are where we are and these will be magnificent: three warm-ups at The Bee’s Mouth in Hove as part of Brighton Fringe 2017 before we hit The Warren on May 31st – more on which to follow.

For these shows, we’ve pulled in a combo of greatest hits, local heroes and blinding talent; because you’re worth it. It’s quite a spur having the luxury of time to try stuff out, alongside luminaries in their own fields who don’t, so we’ve decided to keep the whole flavour verging on the chaotic. Anything could (and probably will) happen, and the only vague certainty we can offer at present is the daily line-up:

Thurs 11th May – Joe Duggan/Julitha Ryan/Idle Eye/Jenny Vegas. With JV and IE as compere(s)

Fri 12th May – Vivienne Westnorwood/Julitha Ryan/Idle Eye/Jenny Vegas. With Elvis Parsley as compere

Sat 13th May – Elvis Parsley/Headbackbob/Idle Eye/Jenny Vegas. With Vivienne Westnorwood as compere

All shows will hopefully include Donald Ross Skinner’s Idle Eye Disco and Dan Laidler’s Windy’s Farm animations. But who knows? You might get your very own Hoseasons rep whisking you off to a self-catering Shangri-La in Kent. Or a mindless bloodbath of existential angst. That’s the beauty of a Pay What You Can gig – we call the shots, and you can’t say you weren’t warned. My advice would be to come along to all three with some personal idemnity in place. That way, we’re all covered x

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Pizza Flyer Delivery Boy

In December 2014, I wrote a short piece about a pizza junk mail delivery boy which was deliberately out of character with my other material. I was working at the computer, staring vacantly out of the window when one of these guys rocked up outside, looking as if he wanted the world to swallow him up whole. Alan Sillitoe’s Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner got into my head somehow, but I didn’t want a tale laden with the kind of pathos I didn’t feel qualified to write about; so I played a straight bat. When the narrator rejects outright a small moment of tenderness because he is preconditioned to expect the worst, there’s no fanfare: it’s just how it is. And I like that.

It was the last story of forty in Amateur of Life and Death. I was unashamedly channelling The Fast Show‘s Rowley Birkin QC, when his catchphrase “I’m afraid I was very, very drunk” is turned on its head because it isn’t funny. It catches your breath, and still to this day remains one of my favourite moments of character comedy writing. My cousin Mark Dicey illustrated it beautifully (see above), but I knew I wasn’t finished with it yet. I tentatively introduced it into the Broken Biscuits live set recently, with an accompanying urban landscape soundtrack recorded by Donald Ross Skinner in the 90s. But it needed something more to set it apart from the other posts, so I made it into a film.

Franck Alba’s haunting soundtrack, recorded in his bedroom in a matter of hours, is just perfect; and Alan Maclean’s wildly expressive features could not have been better for the ‘old geezer’. With a bit of help from one of my dearest friends Julitha Ryan, the whole thing was conceived, shot and edited in Crystal Palace over three days, and is now ready to be outed at Brighton Fringe next week. Hope you like it x