Festival Blog: mid-season hiatus

We're at the halfway point in the 'Tiddleminster' run. It's that nice spot where on the one hand it feels like you're settling into the buzz of it all and on the other you're imagining flying ants hatching out of your skin - ruining everybody's summer.

So far everyone who's paid us a visit has lapped up the mixture of high octane sales-based thrills, spills and blood clots. If you see me in the street I'll keep saying "I'm having a great time". Sometimes I mean it, other times it's forced through tight, white jaw muscles.

Seeing some really impressive shows and will feed back in more detail but if you want to see something totally off the wall, grab a seat at the next showing of 'Journey to the Centre of Dead'. It's a play put on by fellow night freaks of the Red Order and it'll make you sneeze your brains out onto a paper towel.

I also had a late night conversation about alternative revenue streams with a genuine freelance assassin. He says it's not as glamorous as you might think - it's less abseiling down skyscrapers in Tokyo and more stabbing blokes in car parks. Still, cash in hand.

Festival Blog

Looks great that does

I'm currently hauling ass all over the Edinburgh Fringe Festival promoting my first stand up show 'Welcome to Tiddleminster'. Here are the things I've learnt about the festival, myself and human nature in the first week: 

Red text on a light blue background hates you

With print deadlines looming and spinal fluid flowing I opted for a combination of text and colours which can only be read on the clearest of days by the most sober of soul. Even if they do sink the hours into decoding the blurb, other barriers such as references to the Insane Clown Posse will ensure only the afflicted will buy their tickets in advance.    

You can have a lethal injection or serve time in an Acapella group?  

The main entry requirements seem to be putting a hoodie on the right way round and being able to move from one foot to the other. Please note, I've been very careful not to use the word 'dancing'. Looking forward to next week when the tensions and vocal chords fray.     

 I'm a terrible person

Oh yeah - I'm a small, petty little guy with beady little weasel eyes which carefully study and vomit on the success of others. Plus, having crowds of exclusively white faces make me suspect I've subconsciously been racially profiling my audience when flyering.

'Welcome to Tiddleminster' is daily @ The Mash House (Bottle Room), 13:20, 6th - 30th August. It's a 'Pay What You Want For the Love of Christ Please Come in' kind of thing.



5 Year Plan

Been thinking recently that in order to achieve my long term career goals I need to have a 5 year plan. Currently the only blanks I can fill in are thanks to the visionary mix of marketing and long-form storytelling of Marvel Studios.

5 year plan    

1.      Become better at the comedy. 

2.      Translate this stage prowess into a loyal, paying fan base.

3.      Use my fortune to buy Topshop in Oxford Street and fill it right to the tippity top with cement.

After that I can't imagine there'll be too much time left to waste until the massive heart attack I'm owed makes an appearance. They say you have to suffer for your art and I have to drink energy drinks and sherbet to get into my creative zone.   

Wacom Gallery: Charles Testofell

Here's the background info you need to know what's happening here:

  • I purchased a Wacom tablet which is a tool for digital drawing. It's slightly bigger than a piece of A4 paper which has the words "Mister Gledstone" written on it in marker pen. It costs over £200. 
  • My mental make-up means that if I don't demonstrate instant progress with something new I cast it aside, disgusted. I think this makes my insides an ugly, stinking heap.
  • When I purchased the tablet I was having a kind of mini meltdown and following that it's spent some serious time in a cupboard which I cannot allow. 

So I intend to start cracking out a regular succession of little portraits using the tablet and hopefully if I do enough of them they'll start developing. The first of these is...

Charles Testofell - by Lee Jones

Charles Testofell was the Flemish bare knuckle boxing champion in the years leading into the First World War. A lover as well as a fighter, Charles was known to have made love to as many as 250 women before an inopportune punch to the beanbag left him as a sterile as a spayed Dutchman. He was killed in the first year of the war after falling off another man's horse. 

"I'm a get, get, get you drunk"

Bistro Noir

I've had a little play around with the look and feel of the site including an updated logo because that's a great way to avoid adding the finishing touches to 'Welcome to Tiddleminster'.

The font I've plumped for is MovusBrushPen and the accompanying self portrait was done in Adobe Illustrator with a feck-off Wacom tablet because I dropped an absolute ton on it. Overall I think you could describe the style as 'Bistro Noir' and when people look at it I expect them to 'vibe' with it and know it comes from a guy who is listening to all the new tracks coming out of Paris, Europe.  

"Any scrap?"

Open for business

My Manchester base of Operations is now up and running. I'm a house guy now which means I'm always talking about the house and what I'm doing inside of it. I referred to a new bit of plaster board we commissioned as my 'dry wall' which means I need to dial back the transatlantic TV viewing. Does anybody have a torrent for Happy Valley?

Aside from that had a lovely week getting out and about on the local comedy scene which led me to Beating the Frog, the Worst Comedy Night in Salford and finally a return to Cradley Heath's finest - The Holly Bush. Everyone seems really nice and that.

This did not nearly get enough traction on social

P.S. right now I'm listening to a playlist covering 2005 - 2015. It's called 'Oldies but Goodies' but they all sound brand new to me. What does this mean? 

Operation Hipster Heights

Here's the background for this piece: I'm moving from London to Salford*, Manchester after 10 years of tarting about enjoying 2for1 at the finest restaurants, shaking my head at those who impede the righteous path of the cyclist and mistaking the projectile expulsion of a Recruitment Consultant's quarterly team night out as new and challenging form of street art.

At the end of June my girlfriend and I are starting the dreaded wave of gentrification by moving to a red brick terrace which we fully intend to renovate the fucking tits off, AKA, operation Hipster Heights.

Currently we're in Phase 1 which is removing every trace of the previous tenants, a 'Scrat-Hive'. That may sound harsh but this comes after spending the last two days scrubbing away their sordid existence as well as my finger prints.

From the looks of it they're a pair of Kidults; house-proud in terms of décor which was painstakingly matched with their '1990s Chechnian Nightclub' theme yet they appeared averse to cleaning products. If mutterings are correct he was a low level cannabis dealer and all that means is that for the next 6 months I'll be answering the door at 1am  with a smile on my face and a teeth-shattering bit of wood just out of site.

My time in London was spent forging a career as a thoroughly mid-level Marketing Manager; living hard in the semi-nomadic world of rental property. So while I may know enough about 'big data' to bluff my way through a presentation I simply do not have any idea how to Do It Myself.

I'll be charting my progress on the path to becoming a semi-competent man here so check back frequently.

Skills unlocked:

  • Stripping Wallpaper. There was some paper on a bit of wall and now because of me there isn't and because of that I'm lighting a cigar with a burning dollar bill. 
  • Grease Removal. Take a kitchen, fan-assist the living fuck out of oven chips for 5 years and do not clean, not once. Then apply one Yorkshire man with a history of nervous anxiety with enough atomised bleach to drown an adult pig and watch the streaks vanish.  

*That's Salford not "Oh my G, I'm so jealous, Salford Quays is amazing!" 

Catch Up Corner

Hi gang. It's been a while since I checked in so I just thought I'd check in and let you know that black poisonous blood is still pumping through my veins. 

I've mainly been working in preparation for leaving London in July and taking 'Welcome to Tiddleminster' to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. I've wrangled a final couple of preview shows at  the Museum of Comedy in July which you can now get tickets to here.

Aside from that, I've just been thinking about the Avengers a lot and how they're going to escape the demon of their own creation. I can identify having once set up a Tamogotchi babysitting business which got out of hand and ruined the 6 week holidays.

I'm just going to carry on doing how I do, which is sending Whatsapp messages to BBC New Comedian of the Year Finalist ('92), Sunil Patel and listening to 'Verdi: Requiem, Dies irae' on repeat until I see the second tick appear.

Manchester > London

How's 2015 treating everybody?  

Right now I'm working at a funky tech start up in the East End of London. They not only do CRM but also PRM, putting servers into washing machines and that. All that means is that I take my calls on a beanbag.

The news from Cantrill Towers is that in June we're relocating to Manchester to take advantage of lowered overheads but also because I think of myself as Sean Bean's character in Game of Thrones. The more time I spend in Kings Landing the more chance those pesky southerners will band together and put my head on a spike. Granted, it's in Lancashire but we're going to be close enough to the White Rose to draw power from it.   

You can also expect a new Interactive text-based adventure game in the next couple of months. It'll allow you to see the world through my eyes so will be coming with a serious health warning. More on that soon though...    

2014 in Review

Here's a look back at the previous year. There's more to be said but I know my audience and their attention spans have been ruined through Xbox and too many packets of Frazzles.  

Comedy-wise it's been a year of ups and not ups. On the plus side I've pulled together my second show, 'Welcome to Tiddleminster' which I performed for 2 nights at the Hen & Chickens. It's unhinged but a strong enough start to make me froth at the prospect of taking it to Edinburgh. I'll be working on some other shows over 2015 and first one will be the Valentine's Day Crying Duck Special, where a group of us will be working on new pieces ranging from the ridiculous to the totally off-the-reservation mental.   

This year I flung myself willingly into the mincer, aka the world of stand up comedy competitions and walked away empty handed unless you count bitterness and crushed self esteem. A friend once said that competitions reminded him of someone playing a guitar really fast. You end up fixated on how fast the guitar is being played rather than listening to the music. Which, like most things Javier says, makes perfect sense to me. 

The organiser and MC of one of these competitions did an interview in which he despaired at the state of the live circuit and the new acts coming through as a result of dwindling chances to progress on the live circuit. However, from the quality of the MC work, I think that just because somebody has been going a lifetime doesn't mean their opinion is worth much. Either way, I'm going to stay away from them, for the most part, in 2015 and focus on being better, sexier and more woollen.

And here are more personal discoveries I made in the year of our Lord Michael Ball, two thousand and fourteen:

  • Having a large amount of laser-sight red dots trained onto your head and chest feels very much like an outdoor heater.
  • "That's business" is a phrase used by incompetent bullies who categorically fail to produce results.  
  • The first year of my 30's has seen my capacity for production increase exponentially. The downside is that I'm referring specifically to earwax, which is now being churned out on an industrial scale. I've found that if applied just above your door frame it's a great way to keep salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses and loved ones away.   
Highly coveted. 

Highly coveted. 

The CANTY's 2014

In honour of my tour of the grind house this year, I've set up my own highly prestigious awards - The CANTY's*. Well done to everyone who entered and a big thank you to the Korean prisoners who helped me count and tally the votes, thus earning some fags and a block of contraband 70% cacao for currency in a fiercely territorial economy.  

Without further ado, here are this year's winners: 

  • And the 'visible veins' award, goes to Alasdair Beckett King.
  • By unanimous verdict, the award for 'nice hug bub, but I'm going to check my wallet is still there' goes to Ian Lane.
  • And the most prestigious award of all, the highly coveted 'most likely to be found severely decomposed in the alley behind an old abandoned Bingo Hall and then broken down and washed away with an industrial strength hose by disgruntled street cleaners' award, goes to... Sunil Patel!

That's me done, winding down in style with a sherbet dip. Check back here in 2015 for more of whatever this is but with added moths, boils and Minecraft.

*Please note, The CANTY's are purely fictional, have no cash value and will actively hold your career back if spoken of aloud.

"Chip pan fires, top loading VCR players and holidays in Filey"

I got my ID checked at J. Sainsbury's.

If you're reading this from from a far away land, they're a UK based supermarket chain that recently looked at the eviscerated carnage of World War 1 and thought that would be a pretty neat way of selling little, festive Jack Daniel's gift packs - ideal for that dickhead cousin, or as a Secret Santa for the colleague who insists in Battleshipping every idea, just to show they can.

Born in the long, bitter January of 1984, looking into my eyes will take you to a time of chip pan fires, top-loading VCR players and holidays in Filey (big up the Brig). That said, I do have a certain youthful energy that means if I put on the Oculus Rift it wouldn't look silly. 

Epilogue. Went up the road and bought some Speckled Hen from a smaller Sainsbury's. Because that's how I do, son.  

I'm a Cupid

Found this bit of awesome prose in a pub. It's effect on me has been so profound that I now think of my life purely as BFWBOP and AFWBOP; before and after finding weird bit of paper.



Career Talk: Trucker's Diary

Peterborough services. Hands down the best. 

Peterborough services. Hands down the best. 

So, you're thinking of picking up the world's oldest profession, trucking? Head Office have asked me to give you an insight into the world of rig hauling, aka hard trucking. 

I got started in this business because I needed to get out of town to let my shame cool off and trucking provided the perfect mix of overnight travel and sitting down.

An average day will see me hitting the road in the early hours with radio 4 on and enough liquor in my bloodstream to weapon-ise my truck.

I've just hauled a pick-up full of electronic parts from their point of origin in Osaka, right through the mountains and highways to some nerds in Scotland. They were using the pieces to assemble what looked like little radio controlled helicopters. "What's your name" and "please sign there, Sir", I say before climbing back into the cabin and heading towards the horizon.   

The long trip home gave me a chance to visit our head office and pay my respects to the King of the Truckers. The office is made up of tons and tons of rusted old rigs, strapped together with heavy duty cables. You make your way into the centre and there he is; a dusty old skeleton with a Commodore 64 screen for a head.  A printer the table next to him starts screaming ink across a page of headed paper.

It was a letter from Head Office saying 'thank you' and confirmed some additional points towards the company benefits scheme. If I collate enough of them, they can be redeemed for some Homebase vouchers which means I'm one step closer to my dream bathroom.     

You get to listen to a heap of podcasts, that's the life of a trucker. It's not for everybody but it suits me just fine. Keep on, hanging on.

Since writing this article, Al The Trucker has sadly passed away. Eviscerated by friendly fire in a drone strike. It's unclear who the target was or if the mission was a success but a representative of the Eddie Stobart organisation sent a wreath in lieu of attendance. .   

Star Signs 03.11.14

Check the levels, yeah?

Check the levels, yeah?


This week I try titting about with a backing track which is more or less a disaster but if you strain your fat ear holes you might get at the good stuff.  

Blah blah blah. Click the logo to listen the full show featuring Nick Dixon who is just saying what we're all thinking, yeah?

Star Signs 20.10.14

Click here to reduce IQ points quicker than radiation poisoning 

Click here to reduce IQ points quicker than radiation poisoning 

Here's the Star Signs for the week what was. This one is a cracker with Nish Kumar and Evelyn Mok to bolster the Sunil's searing lack of production technique. 

To research these predictions I often inhale a lot of substances you'd struggle to find in a pharmacy. 

My clip below but you can listen to the full show by clicking on the Soho radio logo.