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

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

Broken Biscuits No.11.

Before I bang on about the night, let it be said that Yellow Arch Studios is a stunning venue right in the heart of Sheffield and it’s the bee’s bum; for performers and audience alike. Thanks to Ali Heath Cook for letting us do our thing and for the superb photos; to Sam, who made it all sound just so; to Nick and Spencer for helping us way beyond the call of duty and to all the staff: you made it a joy.

A little while back, Kate Tym suggested that my compering skills were, how shall we say, somewhat below par. She was totally wrong: they were shocking. Since then, we’ve had in a plethora of artists who really know how to work the house – Kate herself, Callum Hughes, Tim Suturist and this time around, the mighty Maynard Flip Flap. Blending street theatre flair with effortless authority, we knew we were in safe hands throughout. And if anyone thinks that being an MC is just a fill-in, then there’s the door: it’s a skill beyond language.

Billy Button is a multi-layered beast. His failed showman act is a hoot at one level, but then the pathos kicks in and we’re left with the kind of high usually reserved for Class A’s or extreme sports. It was hard choosing the right excerpt from his set, but Somebody kinda does the trick. Watch it a few times and I defy anyone to not melt. Billy, you are a hero.

Jenny Lockyer totally nailed it. She must have been at the front of the queue when they doled out talent: that voice, that guitar and boy, is she funny. Enjoy the moment she stops in her tracks when the audience fails to pick up the refrain; too good. And you could be forgiven for believing Bacharach and David wrote Magic Moments for her and her alone. Wonderful stuff.

Jenny Vegas managed to get her noggin into two Sheffield newspapers and bag a BBC radio interview for this one. She is fast becoming a force of nature, spurred on by unswerving self-belief, Lambrini spritzers and the bedrock of her manager Dougie; who runs a tight ship from his portakabin near Wombwell. God knows what we’ll do if her trajectory of fame continues – you should have seen her bloody rider!

Dan Laidler‘s Windy’s Farm made a welcome return to the North. No matter how many times we run it, people can’t help falling for him. And he’s a windmill, FFS! If only I’d known this in my twenties. Idle Eye managed to squeeze out a urine-themed set with the help of a couple of bewildered guests. Perhaps he thinks sixth form humour is clever and post-modern, but we’ve heard it all before and then we grew up. Good luck to him, though: you can’t kick a man when he’s down, can you?

Next up it’s Brighton Fringe! Three nights at The Bee’s Mouth (11-13 May) to try out material and showcase a few new friends, and then the big bertha finale at The Warren‘s Main House on 31st May. There’ll be event pages, posters, flyers and all sorts coming soon, but for now put these in your diaries. Thank you x

Broken Biscuits No.11.

Right, I’m going to post this today and terminate the faffery once and for all. Because it’s tomorrow, see? These endless half-arsed drafts are getting on me tits, and I’ve got more important things to sort out; like the barnet. So then, it’s going to be another top drawer show at Sheffield’s stunning Yellow Arch Studios with a proper quality line-up:

Somehow, that Jenny Vegas has wormed her way up to the top of the bill and managed to get her mugshot into the newspapers. Seriously, there is no end of front to the woman (her manager Dougie spotted this as well, I gather).

Once again, the absolutely brilliant Jenny Lockyer will be with us, if she can brave the M1 on a day like today. Always a joy to watch, with trademark acoustic guitar, a pitch-perfect voice and the gentlest yet most off-kilter sense of humour evah!

Then there’s Billy Button: although perhaps his halcyon days are now a distant memory, he still can astonish an audience with that gold lamé jacket and a toupee to die for. This is one consummate showman who ain’t lying down in a hurry!

Our compere, Maynard Flip Flap, will have a thing or two up his sleeve. Quite literally, perhaps. A stalwart of Sheffield’s legendary Cabaret Boom Boom, Maynard is blessed with the gift of the gab, street theatre nous and will, without doubt, rudder our kooky ship safely to shore.

Dan Laidler‘s Windy’s Farm is back, obvs. Whoever would have thought that a black and white windmill could spread so much joy throughout the land? And that bloody Idle Eye mosquito will be pitching in with something, I’d imagine. Please desist with this oxygen of publicity thing, it only encourages him.

And that’s about it. It’s going to be fun, this one. I know I always say this, but TBH I can’t think of anything else right now & it’s sunny out. Next up will be Fringe Brighton in May, more on that another time. Adios amigos x

Broken Biscuits No.10.

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We love Antenna. Clearly, as we’ve done four (count ’em) shows there now and there’s plenty more to come. As we had but an hour to transform the room, things were a little (lot) hectic but we got there somehow and it was packed to the rafters. Seriously, it was. Thanks to everyone who pitched in, bought merch, turned up on another vile weather day, and drank the bar dry. Palace, you did us proud!

Our magnificent compere Tim Suturist was drier than a manzanilla sherry in the desert; in direct contrast to the elements outside. And Jenny Vegas treated everyone to their own personal Valentine Lovescope; in direct contrast to her own car crash of a love life. How she got conned into giving a Boyzone tribute act one is anyone’s guess. Except hers. The lady protests too much, methinks.

Awanyu were nothing short of extraordinary. As if gossamer vocals that soared, swooped and almost shattered over a beautifully subtle acoustic wash weren’t enough, our man certainly knew how to make an entrance. The lamé cape and feathered headdress, removed to a live Eric Satie intro, will not be forgotten in a hurry. Think a male Kate Bush, or Antony & the Johnsons gatecrashing Bowie’s theatre period and you’ll still be miles off.

How to describe the sublimely batty Vivienne Westnorwood? Perhaps, in keeping with the headdress theme, that she rocked up in one fashioned COMPLETELY FROM JAMMY DODGERS!!! Or that she’s so livid about getting on a bit, she managed to punk up the proverbial menopause with a banjo that begged to hold a note. Or that… it really doesn’t matter: this is one kooky lady that had the audience in stitches and is probably still bewildered by the whole thing. Vivienne, we salute you!

As is customary, a mention should be given to Idle Eye. Bless him, he did try to keep up, and some new material was aired. But the real stars of his pitifully short set were his guests – Callum Hughes and Jenny Vegas – who breathed a little life into the twitching carcass of his world view. There is a crowdfunder doing the rounds to send him on a holiday: let’s make it a long one.

There’s going to be a little breather until BB11 in April; to write, to do admin and maybe even go away for a few days. Cabin fever and burnout are the deciding factors, coupled with an ennui that will not heel: I don’t make the rules. Finally, a word out to Mr Donald Ross Skinner. Sadly, he couldn’t be with us for personal reasons and he was sorely missed. Don, hang in there buddy – we miss you, we love you and our thoughts are with you right now xx

Broken Biscuits No.10.

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Yes, it’s hot on the heels of Komedia Brighton but you need to know pronto. This very Saturday, BB10 returns to Antenna Studios at Palace, because that’s where it was spawned. And for this show, it’s super local (with the allowable exception of Jenny Vegas, who’s only there for the free crisps) and super cool. We’ve got Vivienne Westnorwood for starters, and she doesn’t travel through postcodes unless there’s a very good reason. And then there’s Peyo Santalla, who so happens to have my flatmate in his band, and will dazzle the collective Palace crowd with some stuff he will have already badgered you into coming down for. I am merely the conduit, the weaver if you will, for some serious SE19 action. Do not judge us: we are on a higher plain.

If you’re in any doubt whatsoever, we’ve also got the magnificently bleak Tim Suturist as compere, after he’s finished flogging you quality veg at the market. It really doesn’t get any better than this (even though you think it might). And Idle Eye will try out some new material. Because it’s about time. I thank you x