MJ Hibbett & The Validators

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Knees x 2
One of the FRUITS of my meeting with Mr J Dredge was the decision to consider re-un-de-writing part of our History-based webseries. We've had a couple of goes of filming it already - back in May we went to Hampstead Heath to film some Outside Scenes but couldn't get the sound right, so a few weeks later we tried again with a re-written INSIDE version. It all looked fine but we decided to have one more go to get it PERFECT, and it was while sorting through some WIRES as props for London Calling that I realised that I had an Actual Microphone which we might be able to use to get outside sound WORKING.

It's a KRAZY scheme - using a microphone to record sound?!?! - so we agreed that I'd try it out first to see if it worked before we went round re-doing stuff again.

Now, I could, obviously, just stand outside and say "This is a test to see if it works" but then again I could ALSO make a whole video thing instead, couldn't I? I spent about 0.02 seconds wondering WOT to do then remembered I had a small POEM called "You Need Knees" what I had written for the aforesaid 'London Calling' (tickets still available!) but didn't get used. It was my FAVOURITE thing I'd done so I thought "HA! Its time has come!"

So it was that yesterday afternoon I stepped out into The Olympic Village (it's where I live, OK? I wish people would stop going on about it) carrying a bag of camera and audio gear, dressed in my WEDDING CLOTHES... and short trousers. I felt like a bit of a pillock so had asked The Sole Of My Shoes to come along with me a) for moral support and b) because she's really good at camera FRAMING and all that. At one point I confessed to feeling a bit daft, but she told me not to worry. "We're in East London - they'll all be dressing like that next week."

We then spent a delightful 15 minutes filming before scuttling home to see what it looked like. The first bunch of shots looked GRATE, altho something seemed awry with the recording as it appeared to have picked up a lot of BICKERING. Where on earth did that come from?

The next piece of film however contained a final section which went like this:

VOICE: (off camera) It's not recording.
IDIOT: (in shorts) I thought it was?
VOICE: No, it's not.
IDIOT: Hang on, let me have a look
(he moves behind camera)
IDIOT: Oh yeah, you're right there. Here -
FX: CLUNK!

And that was all there was! So, a couple of hours later, we went BACK out and did the whole thing AGANE! This time we just left everything recording throughout and WHISKED through it, allowing me to come home and spend a happy hour or so editing together things like THIS:



STEADY LADIES! ALSO GENTLEMEN!

The final video is slightly ODD I must admit, but I do rather like it. It may end up just as a test or it may come out as part of the forthcoming series of FILMS that John and I are going to do, but whatever happens, we will always have the KNEES. Because, after all, You! Need! Knees!

posted 28/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Tech Rehearsal
After three long days basically sat in bed I emerged from the flat on Wednesday and headed into town. My first taste of The Outside World was a bit strange - had it ALWAYS been this wet? I'm pretty sure I hadn't lived underwater before being poorly, had I?

My first port of call was a meeting with Mr J Dredge which was, as ever, EXCELLENT and full of schemes and LARFS. I'd intended to then go for a bit of a wander round comic shops and so forth but still felt a bit FEEBLE so instead had a) a cup of tea in Pret nearby then b) a COKE in a pub in Islington (where I forgot the golden rule of buying soft drinks in pubs i.e. say "no ice!" or you're basically paying DOUBLE) before heading to The Hen & Chickens for the TECH REHEARSAL of London Calling, the SHOW what my Writers' Group (oh yes) have done.

To be honest I am pretty much RIDDLED with guilt about this show. A LOT of work has been going on by my lot over the past few weeks while I was SWANNING ABOUT up in Scotland and then THIS week, when I'd hoped to at least show my face and CARRY things a bit, I have been almost entirely in BED. Thus I was very grateful to have an ALLEN KEY thrust into my hand almost as soon as I arrived and be able to start putting together Bar Stools and then, when that was done, get a screwdriver and GO AT at a very very delapidated ironing board and try to make it stand up again. It felt good to be DOING something, though I was also very glad that I'd brought a clean shirt with me as I got a RIGHT old sweat on!

There then followed the Tech Rehearsal itself. This is when they go through the show with the technician, sorting out all the lighting cues, sound cues, and PROPS. I have just come from a fortnight of shows where the cues are as follows: "1) LIGHTS ON 2) LIGHTS OFF (OPTIONAL)" so I was stunned by how much was going on. It was DAZZLING, to be honest, a right proper use of all the Theatrical Elements for a fully fledged THING. Also there were GAGS and DANCING and all sorts, it looked brilliant!

Afterwards everyone else looked a bit worried and/or unsure, almost as if they'd spent several weeks working on it rather having just rolled up to go "OOH! LIGHTS!" I tried to say that it ALWAYS feels like this, that the tech run IS just a tech run, that it always feels like everything's going to fall apart just before you start and that, within five hours everything would feel BRILLIANT but, like saying "Don't worry!" to someone who is worried, it never really helps.

So instead of doing too much of that I said my farewells and headed home. I did have a ticket for that evening's show but I was EXTREMELY aware that I was by no means at full health and that I had more performances of Hey Hey 16K to get through at the weekend, so thought that going home was the wisest course of action. I'm going to see the final night on Sunday, so hopefully I will be at PEAK FITNESS by then!

Tickets for both shows, by the way, are VERY MUCH available. "London Calling" is on at The Hen & Chickens every night at 7:30pm until Sunday 30 August and you can buy tickets HERE. "Hey Hey 16K", meanwhile is on at The Camden Head at 6:30pm on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 August and you can buy tickets here. Two shows on in London town at the same time? This must be how Andrew Lloyd Webber feels!

posted 27/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Meanwhile In San Marino
Since getting back from Edinburgh I have spent most of my time being POORLY. It wasn't exactly how I'd envisioned my glorious return but at least it happened AFTER we'd done the shows, and allowed me to spend ALL of my time in the flat!

As ever, when you've been away for a couple of weeks, I returned to find there had been CHANGES, notably a series of PLAQUES which have gone up in the entrance hallways of all the blocks of flats in The Olympic Village (i.e. where I live but you probably wouldn't know that as I don't like to go on about it). These plaques list the teams that STAYED in the buildings when they WERE the actual Athlete's Village, which is BRILLIANT. One of the first questions people ask when you tell them - I mean, when you are reluctantly forced to reveal - that you live here is "Ooh! Who lived in your flat?" but nobody has ever officially told us before. I don't know why - clearly they know, and it's not like it's a security risk, but it's taken nearly two years of gentle prodding from residents for them to reveal who was in what building.

Finding out who was in which FLAT, however, is still a "secret", although some of us had already done DETECTIVE WORK. There's loads and loads of photographs of the village during the games and if you're prepared to sit and go through THE LOT (e.g. if you had, say, a job when you first moved in that, technically, had run out of things to do months before) you could eventually track down a picture of your flat and, if you were lucky, it would have a FLAG draped over the balcony. Our flat DID and, after a bit more in-depth research (looking at wikipedia) we worked out that some athletes from San Marino had been here.

This was very much CONFIRMED by the plaque so a few days ago I did a bit more research (googling) and discovered that, in all likelihood, it wasn't just *some* of the athletes from San Marino that stayed here, it was THE ENTIRE NATIONAL TEAM!! There were obly four of them - Clelia Tini (100m freestyle swimming), Alessandra Perilli (tap shooting), Martina Pretelli (100m sprint) and Emanuele Guidi (individual archery). Two even more exciting realisations come from this - firstly that we NEARLY had a medallist in the flat (Mr Guidi came 4th in the archery final) and secondly, and more importantly, Ms Pretelli MUST be the person who wore her spikes inside the flat one day and caused the damage to the floor in our hallway that is logged in our inventory!

We were both VERY excited to discover this - it finally puts faces to the vague idea of "athletes" who were here before us and, of course, gives us someone to blame if our landlords discover any more discrepancies next time they visit. "Yes, I know there are Blu Tac marks all over the wall, it must be those Sammarinese again!"

posted 26/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Final Furlong
Friday morning began with a choice. On the one hand, I was taking part in the biggest arts festival in europe with literally hundreds of performances to choose from and all I had to do was leave the house to find them. On the other hand, the Horror Channel were showing Tom Baker's last two episodes of Doctor Who, and it *does* feature Tegan, who we mention quite a bit in Hey Hey 16K.

It was thus quite late in the afternoon when I eventually strode out into daylight and stomped once more to our venue, where I found Steve stood outside talking to what would turn out to be all three of our audience! It's been really weird this time how much audience levels have fluctuated, but I must admit I quite enjoy playing to small crowds (it is, after all, mostly what I'm used to), especially when they're as nice as this particular trio were.

After a post-show pint I scuttled home again to drop off gear before returning to meet Steve and Ms A King in The Blue Blazer - how had it taken me over TWO WEEKS to make it to the Blue Blazer?!? Here we were joined for more PINTS by Mr F Wadsworth and a FINE old time was had by all until Steve and I decided to decamp for our traditional Indie Disco trip. This time we bestowed our DANCING SKILLZ on Citrus which was EXACTLY what an indie night should be: a sticky black box containing music and beer! We DARNCED and had some BEER but by 2am I felt SATED, and left Mr Hewitt to his BOOGYING.

Saturday got off to quite a SLOW start, possibly due to the antics of the night before, but once we were both mostly mobile Steve and I spent a jolly hour or so buzzing round the flat TIDYING things. The main part of this was putting TONNES of flyers that we'd collected over the preceeding fortnight in a bag with the TONNES of flyers we'd still got left for OUR show and then lugging the LOT down to the recycling place. It is a Fringe Tradition!

By the time we'd done all that it was nearly show time, so we mooched into town to be faced with our biggest audience yet, PACKED with friendly faces. It was GRATE fun, even if we DID have to stop a couple of times to ask a bunch of old regulars stood at the bar to keep their voices down, but it was a LOVELY way to finish the run. Afterwards we went to Bannermans with said array of chums for a MARVELOUS couple of hours of CHAT and LARFS before heading over to Summerhall, where we had our final pair of tickets booked .

It was TIPPING it down with rain as we strode over, and we considered ourselves VERY lucky that the weather had held out this long - it's been the sunniest Fringe I've ever been to, I reckon. Some years it's LOBBED it down with water every day, but this time I almost got sunburnt! We dashed through the precipitation to see Josie Long and Grace Petrie do their "Alternative Reality Tour" show in a Big Yurt, and it was ACE. We were sat behind Owen Jones AND Mark Steel, it was like being at the centre of THE COUNTER CULTURE!

HUGS and back to the flat and then, all too few hours later, we were getting up EARLY to get our taxi to the station and HOME. The journey back was one of TWO parts - the first HORRIBLE as the air conditioning was broken and the carriage was HOT and STINKY, the second DELIGHTFUL as we moved to another, cool and fragrant, one.

Then suddenly we were back in London and it was DONE! We hugged our goodbyes and went home again, with (I think) a very succesful Fringe behind us. I'll leave the full analyses until after this weekend's shows in Camden but I think, overall, it's been the best one we've done, certainly in terms of audience and definitely in terms of everyone understanding the plot - unlike every other year, NOBODY has asked me to explain it this time!

posted 25/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Getting About A Bit
Wednesday morning found Steve and I rising at an UNGODLY hour so we could leave the house at 11:45am to catch a bus. That's basically still night-time, right? We were headed for Leith to do an interview for Shore Radio and, on the way, were reminded once again that people round here are NICE. The man in front of us had overheard us saying what stop we needed, so a couple of minutes before we got there he turned round and alerted us that it was the next stop. He then got slightly embarrassed and moved away.

The station had sent us some BRILLIANT directions, ending with "It's behind the Dockers' Social Club, top floor" which indeed is where it was. We stood and listened to the interviewees before us - some EXTREMELY posh and confident young men who DELIGHTED us - and then went in for a HUGELY enjoyable 15 minutes of chat. I knew it was going to be fun when Mr Ewan Spence, host, came out to greet us wearing an old Need To Know t-shirt, and my suspicions were confirmed when he asked about a) the Blinovitch Limitation Effect and b) what REALLY happens when you get to the end of Jetpac. It was GRATE, and you can listen for yourself on the Edinburgh Fringe podcast site.

With that done I headed home as I had some more WRIIITING to do, and also some GOOGLING of "Hey Hey 16K" (last 24 hours). I've been doing this every day to monitor our MEDIA PRESENCE - usually nothing much comes up, so I was surprised/delighted to find that we'd had a review in Broadway Baby. The first time I read it I was ENRAGED - there totally ARE 20 things in 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 and how can anyone not be aware of what D:Ream sound like?!? They were played all the time in 1997 and that's... oh. Right. However, on re-reading it I realised it's quite nice - though I doubt that will stop Steve and I RAILING against the "not 20 things" accusation!

The above mentioned RAILING was part of a very enjoyable show that evening, which was followed by some very enjoyable drinks and then a trip to Sweet Grassmarket, where I discovered that The International Hotel (which that particular venue lives in) is an OASIS of CALM. I met with Mr F Wadsworth to go and see "Matt Abbot Is Skint And Demoralised", and it was EXCELLENT - funny and moving and all round GRATE!

On Thursday morning I went to see MORE Spoken Word as I finally managed to get out of bed in time to see John Osbourne's show. It also was funny and moving and all round GRATE, so much so that I done bought a BOOK. It's funny, I seem to have enjoyed spoken word MUCH more than anything else this Fringe - perhaps that is something to think about for... THE FUTURE!

I'd been joined by Steve for the show, fresh from dropping Mrs Hewitt off at the station, and after walking into town we briefly divided forces - him to go flyering, me to pop to the comic shop and then to fail to make it in time to see a show about Ada Lovelace. We regrouped in the Pleasance Courtyard, where I queued up to see "Bat-Fan" and he flyered the queue of people waiting to see "Bat-Fan", using the fact that I'd bought a ticket as evidence that it would be suitable viewing for others who'd done the same - this seemed to work, as I'm sure I recognised people from the queue later on at our show!

"Bat-Fan" itself was BRILLIANT - full of SONGS and JOKES and above all ENTIRELY ACCURATE with regards to Batman history. I was really impressed, it was one of the most fun things I'd seen all fortnight.

I zoomed home again for GEAR and then STOMPED back to town for show time, and WHAT a show it was. We had probably our biggest audience of the whole run so far and they LARFED throughout - even at things that nobody had laughed at before! It was HUGELY enjoyable, and Steve and I celebrated by staying in the venue and watching "Anecdotes In The UK", the show after us. We'd been chatting to Steffan and Phil, the two stand-ups who were in it, every day when we finished, and they seemed so nice that we ought to give them a go. I'm glad we did, as it was GRATE - they were both really funny and engaging, it was ACE!

Thus it was that, after a quick visit to the Bow Bar, I returned to the flat very happy indeed - I'd done a good show, SEEN three brilliant shows, and only had three sleeps to go until I could head home to my own bed. WINZ!

posted 21/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Still Here!
It feels like FOREVER since I was last at home, but the Edinburgh Fringe just keeps on going. Over the past few days I have done the following things:

On Sunday I walked out of a YURT after 20 minutes of a show I wasn't enjoying. It's difficult to leave a Yurt surreptitiouslly at the best of times, but even more so when you have a large bag, a guitar, and a sparkly pink Hula Hoop. Our show was lovely, and then I dashed down the road to take part in Stand Up Tragedy. I did my best to fit the bill by, basically, during my usual intros to songs and fitting the word "tragedy" in whenever I could - I think it went OK but you can judge for yourself by listening to the podcast, THUS:



After that I collected The Ends Of My Bookends from another show and we went off to meet The Parents for A Tribute To The Music Of Simon & Garfunkel. This was NOT, as the chaps involved made abundantly clear, a tribute act with wigs etc, but rather two blokes doing EXTEMELY lovely versions of Simon & Garfunkel songs. After a day of dashing about in a very very busy Edinburgh it was just what the ROCK doctor ordered.

Next day we went to have a look at The Scottish Parliament - The Parents had been the day before and reported that it was GRATE, and they were right. It's no wonder all those SNP MPs have been rebelling against the strictures of Westminster, the Scottish version is MUCH better. It almost looks like a place people might debate and CHANGE things efficiently. They've got computers and EVERYTHING!

Suitably inspired we went for a walk up Arthur's Seat and, as ever, MARVELLED at the fact that Edinburgh has a RUDDY GREAT MOUNTAIN in the middle of it!

After celebrating this fact at Hendersons "Fringe Pop-Up" veggie cafe (LOVELY) we went home then I headed out again to do our show. It was a GRATE crowd, and Steve noticed that quite a few people had LANYARDS on and some had even been before. We agreed that this DEFINITELY meant that we were TOTALLY being judged for the PERRIER award. It's the only possible explanation!

I rounded off a DELIGHTFUL day by meeting The Hits In My Canon at the Cafe Royal, from whence we went to The Voodoo Rooms to REVEL in the GLORY of Mr John Otway. There were NEW BITS of the set - AMAZING SCENES! We recovered back in Cafe Royal with my delightful nephew Felix and also The Hewitts. Towards the end of the evening I felt QUITE SQUIDDLY, I can only assume it was the MOUNTAIN AIR going to my head!

On Tuesday my SISTER was in town along with my brother-in-law and FOUR entire NEPHEWS. The Members Of My Clan and I had a LOVELY meet-up with them before we had to head off to put the aforesaid Seats In My Carriage on a TRAIN, for LO! her time in Edinburgh had drawn to a close.

As she sped South I stomped back to the flat through mizzling rain that pretty much matched my mood i.e. a bit GLUM, but then I realised that this meant that I too would soon be heading home. I got back to the flat, picked up my bags, and headed straight out again to do the show.

We have PRIDED ourselves on always having double figures for our audience, and this time we continued that tradition... sort of. Here's a picture of our entire audience:



This is Jack and Leia! They didn't know each other before they turned up, but we all become PALS by the end of a (i thought rather good) show - they even sat together to share the lyrics sheet! It could have been a bit miserable but they were a GRATE audience and made it a DELIGHT to perform. HOORAH!

My next appointment was down the road at Canon's Gait, where I was taking part in "Chris Coltrane Tries To Learn How To Pronounce The Word Squirrel." I'm not QUITE sure even now what was going on, but basically I ended up HULA HOOPING for 60 seconds and then, apparently, breaking all the rules of the show by saying "Squirrel" out loud and pronouncing it correctly. At the end Mark Thomas came on, said hello, then left the stage - it was that sort of evening!

Still saddened by my solo status I popped into M&S for some COMFORT FOOD, then came home to do MORE WORK - including writing a JINGLE about the Olympics for London Calling, catching up on some ADMIN, and doing a laundry load. The glamour of Fringe life, it never ends!

posted 20/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Big Bang (part two)
In amongst all this dashing about seeing shows and being IN shows I've also been doing some actual WORK of a WRITING kind. My laptop's set up in the living room so that, as well as writing these blogs of deathless prose, I can also work on some bits and pieces for the forthcoming run of London Calling.

This is a new show written by ME and several chums from the Lost City Writers group (who did 'The Sexy Seven' back in February) featuring various shorts, sketches and even SONGS, all based around the story of a London radio station. Amazingly, we've got Charles Savage, a right proper Director with years of experience, to direct it for us, and he's trying to USE the writers actively, getting us to go to rehearsals and write stuff on the spot. It's all very exciting, apart from the fact that I'm several hundred miles away, but I'm trying to keep up with various assignments, like writing "jingles" for parts between sketches. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how it's all going when I get back next week, and if you'd like to see for yourself you could always come along and SEE it - it's on at The Hen & Chickens in London town from Wednesday 26 to Sunday 30 August, and tickets are very much available!.

While all that's been going on I've also had some OTHER exciting Writing News, as I've got to the semi-finals of the Scriptapalooza TV competition with a spec script for 'The Big Bang Theory'. I'm especially chuffed because last year I entered a different script and got into the quarter-finals - as Mr P Baran has pointed out, all I need to do is enter a few more times and by 2017 I'll have WON it - who can argue with THAT?

posted 19/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Shoes Day
Saturday was a day of SHOES, and not just because there was a lot of STOMPING about. It began with seeing "Card Ninja", a show where a man threw cards around. It was GRATE - he did all sorts of SKILLZ and also GAGS, it made me think EVEN LESS of comedians who just try and talk to the audience and then make remarks. Comedians! Learn some SKILLZ!

Next we went to see a comedian who ... well, did that, but was FINE. He was on in Cowgatehead, scene of MANY ructions and disputes between different Free Fringe organisations. It was actually a pretty good place to use for shows, but CRIKEY somebody really needs to sort out some SIGNAGE. It was full of people wandering around without a CLUE as to where they were. Also, someone put their SHOES on my coat, i was MIFFED!

Edinburgh, by the way was PACKED with people - it's almost as if it was a Saturday when it wasn't raining, as EVERYONE was out and about on the streets. This meant the shows we'd seen were really full, though in both cases The Bums On My Seats and I managed to LUCK OUT and find two seats together when everyone else was crowding round the back. HA!

Other, sensible, people with shows on would be PLEASED at the idea of there being loads of people round looking for shows to see, but I was PANICKING, convinced we'd get a room full of rowdy stag dos and/or people just chatting loudly expecting Stand Up rather than our ART. As it turned out we did end up having a LOT of people in, including PARENTS and... it was lovely! I'd worried that some people sat at the front had put their shoes up on stage, like they were CLAIMING it, but it turned out that they were just RELAXING and DELIGHTFUL, which is pretty much how the show went too. Hoorah!

That done we went our various ways, with The Money In My Bucket and I going to see a show called "ONEymoon", about a woman marrying herself. It was all right - you could have done most of it in a ten minute sketch, but there WAS a tap dancing finale (SHOES) and there was an AMAZING bit where she got some guy out of the audience hem hem and asked him to be the Celebrant. Who was this YOUNG man who seemed to be perfectly happy on stage? I cannot say but I predict MORE shows for him in future, possibly at 6:15pm for the rest of this week.

After all that we regrouped EN MASSE back at The Albanach, where we seem to be going most every night at the moment, for slightly more PINTZ than expected. It feels very MUCH like we're on the downhill slope of the Fringe now, and it's all the more fun for it!

posted 19/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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We Got A Review!
Friday at The Fringe started well, for LO! we got a REVIEW!

Obviously we care LITTLE for such things etc etc etc but it was nice to see someone enjoying it, especially as they got so much RIGHT about it. "Jukebox Musical" - IT'S A FAIR COP. Having said that, I did think it was funny that the Ada Lovelace bit, which she suspects was "shoe-horned in " is one of the few bits that actually wasn't!

The day continued GLAMOROUSLY with us and the Hewitts watching "Yes Prime Minister" and only JUST managing to drag ourselves away before a double bill of "Allo Allo" could detain us further. The Shows On My Schedule and I set off in TIPPING RAIN so got a TAXI to see David Tsonos (who was good) and Rob Auton (who was BRILLIANT) before heading to The Albanach where we met The Hewitts - who'd've ever guessed any of us would be there? Again?

With our other halves going to see another show Steve and I headed off to do OURS, and it was GRATE again, although one incident does stand out: nearly every day, before the show starts, an AMBULANCE goes past with siren blaring. Every day I think "If that happens during the show I have something ACE to say!" On Friday it DID happen, just as we were finishing a song, so I paused... and then STEVE said "He won't sell many ice creams going at that speed." I was FURIOUS!

There were more pals amongst us, and said pals regrouped in The Albanach later with MY PARENTS for a very delightful evening of LARKS and DRINKS which went on for the whole rest of the night. Who needs SHOWS when you've got CHUMS eh?

posted 18/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Halfway There
You find me typing this blog aware that I am HALFWAY THROUGH the Fringe! This seems incredible - surely we have only just got here? How can this ever end? Don't I just LIVE here?

Things have been very busy since last we communicated. On Wednesday we saw a whole heap of shows, with Chris Coltrane being the best, and did a Quiet Show again ourselves where people didn't laugh out loud much BUT clapped LOUDLY throughout and were very enthusiastic afterwards. As per, the fact that I can't see the audience's faces makes me PANIC and think they must be HATING it, I must try and remember that they DON'T!

Afterwards we went to Bannermans where TWO things happened. Firstly, as I entered, a lady saw my Prolapse t-shirt and said "UGH! Prolapse?!? Oh, is that a band name?" and smiled, pleased that that was sorted out. Then in the pub a member of barstaff got very excited to see my HOOP and we exchanged HOOPING thoughts. It was lovely!

After that I collected The Shows On My List, went to see a show that reminded me a LOT of the showcase we did after the stand-up comedy course (in good AND bad ways), then collected Steve and went for a curry at Red Fort. HOORAH!

Next day began with Steve and I heading into town bright and early to see Robin Ince, who was JOLLY good, full of FUN and DELIGHT. I then collected The Meals On My Menu from her breakfast and we went to see two excellent shows at Fingers Piano Bar - "She Wouldn't Dance With Another" and "Shit Girlfriend". They were GRATE!

At this point the aforesaid Wines On My Winelist and I split, her to go and see 2.75 other shows (0.75 of a show was one she didn't like and so left!) while I met with Steve to do our show to a HUGE audience. There were LOADS of people and there would have been even more if not for THE LAW: as I stood outside SMILING at people to make them come in (top flyering tip - this works!) about TWENTY people came in at once! Ten of them then LEFT about 15 seconds later as they had under-18s with them. Curse you, The Man!

The show was fab, helped along by us using the SONG SHEETS for the first time for SINGALONG action. It was also full of chums, not least the recently arrived Mrs S Hewitt, and a bunch of us went to Bannermans for our traditional BEERZ. It's a good tradition! However, by the time that had been done and I'd collected The Chums In My Gang from her last show i was KNACKERED, so we wended our way home for TEA. All this showbiz, it's EXHAUSTING!

posted 17/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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What A Difference A Show Makes
For the first few days of The Fringe I must admit I was feeling slightly LOW, missing home and facing the MOUNTAIN of the two weeks still to go with DREAD. As it turns out, this was all less to do with my sensitivity and more to do with my COLOSSAL EGO.

For LO! Monday's show was a) PACKED with people b) GRATE fun and c) cheered me RIGHT up! We've had lovely audiences all the way but on Monday there were a lot more of them, which it turns out makes a difference, and also nobody came in at the start in a stag do or chatting, so I felt COMFY from the off. It was ENORMOUS fun and then afterwards I found myself fully full of the joys of Fringe. "This IS fun!" I kept thinking "How sad that we're only doing two weeks."

As I say: EGO. Steve and I celebrated with drinks with chums and then a fancy tea, before he went off for SHOWS and I went home for ADMIN and also TIDYING, for we had GUESTS incoming!

Next day I was up bright and early to head into town to see Rhinoceros by Mr H Carr at the ungodly hour of 2pm. Harry was one of the people caught up in the mix-up about the Cowgate Head venue and so his venue had been shifted down the other end of the Royal Mile to the New Waverley Arches. When I arrived they were still putting everything together, with temporary toilets, an incomplete bar and the general air of a building site. It'll be a GRATE venue once it's finished mind you!

I think I ALARMED Harry when I arrived, as it meant he had audience. I nipped out to the loo and found two ladies looking slightly lost. "Will there BE a show if there's only two of us?" they asked. "I'm coming, so there'll be THREE of us!" I replied, so we went in and made sure he did it. It was a good job too as, while he hid behind the curtain for the intro a family of FOUR came in, making us a CROWD.

The first few moments of the show itself were TERRIFYING as I thought "OH NO! He wants us to DO stuff!" but then we all got into the swing and had an EXTREMELY jolly time, running around the room, calling out for our mates and, in the end, playing a board game to decide the fate of Rhinos. SPOILERS: it doesn't necessarily end well.

That done Harry and I nipped for a quick drink, I got a replacement STRING for one I'd broken in all the rock and roll of the day before, and returned to Sneaky Pete's for SHOWTIME. It was another MOST delightful show, with yet another lovely crowd. This time a large portion of the audience was a family ranging from teens to (I think) grandparents, which was ACE as they all laughed at certain parts with different EXPERIENCE, and then laughed again as they appreciated the rest of the family enjoying it too.

It was FAB! We packed up and then I RACED over to the train station to collect The Audience In My Room, who had arrived from That London. I had planned a Sensible Evening of unpacking, regrouping and home dining - clearly I had been away from home too long as what OF COURSE actually happened was that we went to the Albanach and STAYED there DRINKING and eating CHIPS. Our nephew Mr F Wadsworth came along after a while and we finished the evening with WHISKY. Hoorah!

As I type this I find myself actually feeling a bit sad that I'm already a third of the way through - SHOWBIZ!

posted 13/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Day Two
Our second day got off to a gentle start, with us finally getting ourselves into town about 2pm. We tried a new method of travel this time - just getting the bus HALFWAY, as far as the end of Princess Street. This left us with a way to walk but did at least cut out the HALF HOUR of sitting in traffic as we crawled through town, so seemed to work out.

Our first appointment was to see "Gamer Gamer", a show where comedians talk about video gaming. It was a lot of fun, although I did feel INNER RAGE when one of the comedians slagged off Sonic The Hedgehog for having crap graphics - kids today, they don't know they're born! We (by which I mean Steve) DID however get to do some highly effective flyering outside after!

That done we went and sat in the PUB for a bit (watching some football, it was nice) before heading over to Sneaky Pete's for show TWO. This one was a LOT less nervy, helped by having a pile of CHUMS in again and also by standing on the correct SIDES. Delightfully, Steve pointed out that he'd seen one of our other attendees earlier on and thought "Target audience!" but hadn't been able to flyer him in time, so was overjoyed to see he'd come ANYWAY.

Indeed, this young man was half of TWO young men who asked us to do an INTERVIEW afterwards, which Steve and I duly did in an ALLEY beside the venue - so PUNK! I also did a quick version of 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 for them. I think it's going to be on Broadway Baby, but I'm not entirely sure.

That done it was back to Bannermans where we joined Ms J Gilroy, Mr J Osbourne, Mr K Foster and Mr T Diffenthal, the previously mentione CHUMS. Steve and Jenny went off for more shows, then the rest of us went for NOODLES, where we were joined by Mr R Auton. It was odd sitting down to tea with two people who did my favourite show of 2013 and also two people whose shows are VERY MUCH on my list to go and see this time, but it was all MOST pleasant.

I guess I could have carried on CAROUSING but once we'd dined I decided to head home - it's been a LOT of Fringe so far and I had laundry, dishwashing, admin and of course BLOGGING to do. As I type this it's just gone midnight and we're almost into Day Three - only 13 shows to go!

posted 12/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Showtime!
Saturday began EARLY for me and Steve, as we had to be in town by noon-ish to queue up for Meet The Media. This is a KRAZY thing at the Fringe where various media outlets send representatives down so that hundreds of fringe people can ask them to come and see their shows. It's like a cross between a freshers' fayre and an extremely unbalanced speed dating night, with MILLIONS of people waiting for a chance to spend two minutes with someone who might ask someone else to think about maybe reviewing them.

When we rolled up the queue went out of the building, round the corner and up to the NEXT corner, and by the time we started moving half an hour later it was round the EVEN NEXT corner behind us. We spent the intervening time meeting various nice people, and also listening to the very excited Improv Troupe in front of us telling each other TALES of IMPROV. It was "delightful".

Eventually we all shuffled into the PACKED main hall and Steve and I split our resources, taking a queue each. After another half an hour or so we'd tried to persuade Broadway Baby (Steve) and Fringe Review to come and see us. Steve then lined up to talk to The List, while I LUCKED OUT and found a queue for Fest which had only just begun as their representatives hadn't arrived yet. Again, there were many nice people and also Excited Improv Troupes and also also a LOT of BRIDES. Every time you turned round there'd be a BRIDE going by - male brides, old brides, dusty brides and brides wearing carrier bags for headdresses. Maybe it is a THING? Or maybe wedding dresses are cheap in charity shops?

Another noticeable thing was that there were pretty much NO comedians - I guess this is because they're more likely to have SOLD OUT ... I mean, more likely to have been organised enough to hire publicists to do this sort of thing for them, so they can spend more time putting GEL in their hair. It was quite nice to be part of the other side of the Fringe, where everything was more THEATRE and ARTS. And, as I say, Improv troupes.

Once I'd done my BEST with FEST I found Steve still MILES behind in his queue. The List were taking it SLOW, talking to people for ten minutes at a time rather than the usual TWO. I held Steve's place so he could nip over to the Scotsgay queue (well, you never know - we ARE doing a musical) and another half hour later we were finally at the front for our 2 minutes (we kept it quick!) After that: PINTS.

Who knows if there was any point to all of it? We had not time to worry about such things as, after that much needed PINT, we had BUSINESS to attend to. Steve went flyering and I went back to distant Stockbridge to get our PROPS, for LO! it was SHOWTIME! Once fully laden with bag of props, hula hoop and guitar I decided to try getting a BUS back to town, and crikey it took a LONG time - I guess you don't appreciate how much Oyster cards speed up bus travel until you've sat in the same spot for five minutes waiting for fellow travellers to count out their change.

Still, I got to Sneaky Pete's in time to find Steve ready and waiting. The show before us finished so we went in to say hello to the staff, got ourselves set up, and prepare for SHOW.

SHOW! It went FINE - we were both a bit nervy during the start, partly because there was a Well Behaved But Mildly Chatty STAG DO in, but mostly because we were stood on the WRONG SIDE of each other. I've no idea how that happened, but we struggled through and, by the time we got to the second half, had a nice time. It felt good to be DOING it at last - it seemed like we'd been in Edinburgh for YEARS so it was GRATE to finally be DOING what we'd come there to DO!

A pile of PALS had come to see us too, which was lovely, so together we went round the corner for PINTS, soon joined by my NEPHEW Felix, who found that he and his pal had been adopted by ALL and thus had MORE PINTS pushed upon them. After a few of THOSE we all said our farewells and headed home... with Steve and I popping in for a CURRY on the way. It was GOOD!

So that was the show BEGUN - finally! It's happening!

posted 11/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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We\'re Here!
After approx 3,000,000 years of planning, worrying and paying for stuff, Thursday morning FINALLY found me and Mr S Hewitt leaving London for the Edinburgh Fringe. We'd been AFEARED that it would all go wrong before it even began due to the Tube strike that was occurring, but as it turned out we both got to St Pancras PEASY. Every time there's a tube strike lots of lefty people say "Stop complaining, I got to work easily" and I always wonder whether that's helping The Cause. Surely if everyone says it's FINE without a tube system then Dark Forces might suggest we don't actually NEED the drivers so much?

ANYWAY we got onto our train and spent the next several hours enjoying the best that Actual Weekday First Class train travel (booked in JANUARY!) could throw at us. SOMEBODY in our party took full advantage of the free booze and drank basically a whole bottle of white wine. I am not pointing any fingers, but let's just say that all THREE of Steve looked pretty guilty to me.

Once arrived we staggered off the train and nipped into The Halfway House for the traditional "We're here!" pint then got a taxi over to Stockbridge, where our accomodation was waiting for us. The flat we've got is NICE, although for some reason the owners have plastered every available surface with pictures of themselves. Everywhere you look, there they are, looking glamorous on beaches or posed in wedding photographs or smouldering with babies. It's a bit odd.

Once settled in we strode into town to meet Dr A Thomson who had very kindly received our FLYERS for us. We then proceeded to enjoy a few drinks (including the traditional "We're Here!" trip to The Pleasance Courtyard) before getting a taxi home, followed by a swift trip out to see what the pub round the corner was like. It was nice!

The next day was meant to be Setting Up Day, when we go to the venue and, well, set it up. However, our venue Sneaky Pete's IS a venue i.e. that's what it does all year round, rather than being a cave/yurt/garage that has been specially converted, so we were not required and instead went out in search of CULTURE.

The first thing we did was go to WAITROSE round the corner, which was LOVELY - I even got my free cup of coffee and felt RIGHT at home. The first actual SHOW we saw though was The Dawn Chorus by Sad Faces. I've been to see Sad Faces EVERY time I've been Fringing because they are ACE and this show was no exception. BUOYED UP by this we went wandering (i.e. Steve did some flyering and I went to the pub) before splitting up - Steve to go and see Tom Parry, me to go and see Newsrevue. It's a topical sketch REVUE for which I have written things in the past, though there wasn't anything by me in this one (I think there MAY be a gag of mine in the Available Sketches for the run, but I'm not quite sure). It was much as it had been when I'd been to see it last year - a very old school Actual REVUE with a Professor At The Piano, pop songs with rewritten lyrics, voiceover gags during the blackouts and a lot of Tomfoolery. The audience (who made me feel very young!) LAPPED it up!

Steve and I regrouped at the Free Fringe BIG MEETING. This is where we get told what to do, and then you wander about the room saying "Ooh! Hello!" to people you know from previous occasions - for us this included the delightful Mr C Coltrane and the marvellous Mr D Munro. It was lovely!

Happy with that we popped to The Bow Bar where we met a VERY jolly Edinburgh Lady who was keen to embroil us in helping a couple of Mexican ladies find their way around ("Look it up on your phone!" she demanded of me). It was ACE - Edinburgh people may be FLEECING the rest of us out of MILLIONS in rent, but they are very nice to to talk to in pubs!

Finally we ended the day with another GRATE tradition: going to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Company which, as ever, was HILARIOUS. We came out full of the joys of FRINGE, joys which were only slightly dimmed by the fact that there were NO (no) taxis to be had in all of central Edinburgh. It was a LONG walk home, but we made it eventually, ready for a BIG day to follow. For lo! not only would we be Meeting The Media, but it would also be SHOWTIME!

posted 10/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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What Day Is It?
One of the most ONEROUS tasks of any visit to the Edinburgh Fringe is Knowing What Day It Is. This may seem foolish, but after a week of constant BEER and CURRY and SHOWING OFF it all gets a little bit confusing, so Steve and I agreed that it should be a proper JOB for someone. Obviously it's a BIG job so we further agreed that the responsibility should alternate from year to year, and this time it is MY job.

It's Tuesday.

Phew! To be honest it's been quite easy so far as I am VERY aware of precisely how close it's getting to Actually Going To Edinburgh. Tomorrow (which will be Wednesday - appreciate my SKILLZ!) is general packing and panicking today, and then on Thursday we meet at St Pancras and, after MONTHS of preparation, Hey Hey 16K heads NORTH! It hardly seems possible that this time next week we'll be in full swing, with shows behind us and more ahead, favourite pubs visited, PALS bumped into in the street, our Edinburgh flat gotten used to, and (most likely) missing home already.

These last few days before heading off always feel a bit CHRISTMASSY, in that I'm pretty sure I've got everything ready but have a still small voice at the back of my head whispering "PANIC! PANIC!" General excitement is helped along by all the people on my twitter feed heading off already, tweeting pictures of the view from the TRANE. It's also very much like the day before the last day at WORK, in that I've pretty much finished everything I need to do before I go, and am scraping around for odd jobs before I begin my holiday of BOOZE.

I'm taking my laptop with me this time and I'm hoping to be BLOGGING a bit, but if you'd really like to know what's going on the best way to find out would be to come. Go on, pop to Scotland, it'll be lovely - and if you do, come and say hello. I know some GRATE pubs!

posted 4/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Final Preview
I was in leafy Croydon on Thursday night, to do the LAST official preview of Hey Hey 16K at The Oval Tavern for The Croydon Comedy Festival. The festival's been organised by Mr T Eveleigh and it seems to have turned out GRATE - a great variety of ACTS, big and small, and several other venues attached around the HUB of The Oval. Being there in the inaugral year felt like being at the START of something proper!

I was joined by Mr S Hewitt who, much to my surprise, had never been to The Oval before. I thought everybody had! Shortly after we arrived we had a conflab with Tim about the stage set-up - usually the gigs for the Comedy Festival have taken place on a raised stage/dining area out in the beer garden, with a microphone and fairy lights. We agreed that, as we'd not be using amplification, we'd do our bit on ground level, so we moved the seating around accordingly and then Steve stood in various points to make sure he could be seen. He could!

Tim then introduced us to the bar staff so we could get my favourite kind of beer (FREE BEER) and we settled down for Danielle Ward, who did approx half of her Fringe Show "Dani Frankenstein" on the actual raised bit. She was singing along to backing tracks, which sounded GRATE through the pub's PA system, it really worked!

The interval found Tim back on stage reading out NUMBERS - people who'd ordered food from the barbecue got given a NUMBER which Tim then read out to let you know your food was ready. It was VERY exciting, in his words it was "like Bingo but everybody wins".

Then it was us, and it went Quite Well. I was a bit worried about keeping people's attention for the whole show, and this worry was borne out as some of the audience DID get a bit "lively" towards the end! It was about 3 or 4 hours LATER than we'd usually do the show, and as with last week in Balham I think people expected something a bit more Standard Comedy. However, it was still a LOT of fun to do and we got it almost entirely RIGHT, and also afterwards there were lots of smiling faces when we got out from under the stage lights, so all was well. Steve and I chatted to various lovely people who'd enjoyed it and i ended up having a lengthy discussion about The Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who, and thus it was a very happy MJ Hibbett (and Steve) who set off into the night shortly afterwards, bound for London town, safe in the knowledge that the show WORKS.

Now all we have to do is perform it 15 times in a row in Scotland. EEK!

posted 31/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The ThreeWeeks Interview
It's AGES since I've done a radio/podcast interview - i really LIKE doing radio/podcast interviews (despite the fact that I hate talking about myself etc etc etc it is for the sake of THE PUBLIC that I do it) so I was very excited yesterday to set off for London's Fashionable Silicon Roundabout area of London to speak to Mr Chris Cooke for the inaugral Threeweeks Podcast of this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

It took me a while to find the building - it was at number 69 Wilson Street, and whoever was in charge of running the building had decided to BRAND it with a logo that, when you looked closely enough, vaguely resembled a 9 and 6 twisted round each other. From a distance, or even a couple of feet away, however, it looked like a CELTIC TATTOO, so I had to work out what number it was by going past SEVERAL times and counting backwards.

Upstairs an Annoyed Lady had never heard of anybody I'd come to see, but just as I was questioning my very sanity and/or whether that door number really DID say "69" (I keep saying 69 dudes!) someone else came in for the same purpose. PHEW. He was a very nice chap dressed in pink shoes, a powder blue suit and a bow tie. "I'm a magician", he said. That explained it!

We sat chatting and after a couple of minutes Chris turned up and WHISKED me away to a tiny studio where we got ourselves sat down and ready to CHAT. And OH but we had a good old yak, it was lovely - I told him about the show, about how PROPER it is that Steve does the flyering (preferably in the rain), how and why the show was written, my opinions about The Theatre, and much much more.

I staggered out of the building pretty much SPENT - I'm sure I COULD have managed to chat just a little bit more, but it may have done me in. I think it went all right, but you can judge for yourself later today when it goes LIVE!

posted 30/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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My Boss Was In Cardiff
On Tuesday night I went to Cardiff to see my sitcom script "My Boss Was In An Indie Band" performed as part of The Sitcom Trials.

A few weeks ago I'd been to BIRMINGHAM for the evening to see the same event there, but Cardiff is not quite so accessible from That London so this time I was staying overnight. I usually utilise the Ibis for such trips but this time I'd booked myself into the Ibis BUDGET as it was a) cheaper b) available and c) something I'd not tried before.

The Ibis Budget is a bit WEIRD. It's perfectly nice, but like sleeping in a SPACESHIP. The online booking said my room slept three people so I was expecting something VAST but it turns out that the room is only just big enough to hold a double bed and that there's an extra single BUNK BED above it! The toilet and shower are two seperate tiny PODS with the sink in the room - as I say, it's like a little SPACESHIP room, it was Quite Exciting!

After utilising the SHOWER POD I headed into town and, as usual in Cardiff, got a bit lost. Have the council spent so much money on printing signs in two languages that they ran out before they could do the ones in the city centre? It's impossible to get around without EITHER having lived there for years OR asking people for directions - I was stopped TWICE in ten minutes by other lost people asking for directions, and had to ask around MYSELF to get to the St David's Hall, where it was all happening. Mind you, once I got there the fun didn't stop as there were NO signs saying where any of the rooms were or indeed what was going on in any of them so I had to ask for help again... THREE TIMES!!

Eventually I DID find the right room so got a beer, and sat down for the show itself, which was TOTALLY worth the effort, for LO! Kev F Sutherland hosted and was GRATE, managing to make hilarity from Hats In Sitcoms and then introducing each script. The actors were really good, reading from scripts but also acting out scenes with someone else ALSO reading out stage directions. I think this worked really well, as you could SEE what was supposed to be happening much more clearly without losing any of the momentum.

My script didn't win and, as before, this was MORE than fair enough. I think if I write an entry for NEXT year's shows (which I most probably will!) I'll write one set in a single location, with fewer characters, and less hesitant JOKES. It's interesting seeing your words read out by people you've never met, as they do it DIFFERENTLY to how you thought they would. BOTH times I've seen this script read I've thought "But that was meant to be a JOKE just then, and you missed it!" which I have to accept is probably more to do with the SCRIPT than the people reading it. For future versions I'll try and write a script FOR a live audience who HAVEN'T seen the characters before, rather than Episode 8 of Season 3 of a show that exists only in my mind!

The actual winner was a very worthy one and all the scripts were GRATE with an excellent cast - I had a lovely time independent of my own stuff being done! Afterwards I had a quick chat with the mighty Mr Sutherland and then headed out into Cardiff which appeared to be SHUT. Every time I've ever been to Cardiff this has happened - whatever pub I've been doing a gig in, I've emerged to find the entire rest of the city quiet and in DARKNESS. It's weird!

Thus I returned to the Ibis Budget and found myself back in my SPACEPOD by 10pm consuming pre-purchased BEER and CRISPS. This writing lark, it is ALL the glamour!

posted 29/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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I Was Going Down To Balham
On Friday night I undertook some field testing of a new method of prop transport for Hey Hey 16K i.e. I put all the props in a rucksack instead of our usual great big JJB Sports Bag. This worked well, with the only item unable to fit being my collapsible hula hoop, which I tied on using an old guitar strap. I thus looked rather fabulous, striding out of Balham Station with my pink and silver sparkly hoop lashed to my back with a rainbow strap.

For LO! I was down south for the Balham Free Fringe, a weekend-long fundraiser for the PBH Free Fringe, all happening at The Bedford pub. I arrived to find Mr S Hewitt already halfway through his first pint and, after joining him in that position, we went upstairs to find the organiser, Mr C Coltrane, very pleased to see us. For LO! part of the deal with doing the gig was that we agreed to help out with some of the WORK, which in our case meant dashing around setting up chairs then sitting in on shows to mind the door and hold the collection bucket at the end. I also got to ANNOUNCE the act for the show I was in - it's the sort of thing both Steve and I always seem to end up doing at gigs ANYWAY, so we were very happy to pitch in!

Some lovely PALS had told us they were coming and Steve and I had assumed that they would be the whole audience, as Mr R Herring was playing at the same time as us and we thought everyone would go to see him instead. As I went up to our room I saw a MASSIVE queue for his show, and said "Ho! Is that for us?" "No", came the reply, "Your queue's upstairs!"

And there WAS a queue - all right, not as long, but still, it was a LOT more than we expected. Steve and I said we were fine to let people come in while we were setting up, which led to PANIC as LOADS came in while I was unable to find a vital PROP. It turned out that it was in one of the many many pockets of the rucksack (the JJB sports bag has NO pockets), so all was well, and we were ready to begin.

It was a job of WORK to do the show, for LO! we couldn't get any windows open so it was VERY hot in the room even BEFORE it filled up with people and only became more so once we commenced hula hooping/dancing/titting around. I was VERY sweaty! Also we got a bit put off by the fact that a group of Very Drunk Men had come in - I know this is the sort of thing that Club Comedians have to deal with on Friday nights, but we are not club comedians so found it hard! ALSO I could see Richard Herring watching us from the room next door before going down to do his own set! EEK!

Happily things calmed down a bit - the drunk men (noisily) left after 15 minutes, as did a few other people who couldn't stand EITHER the heat OR us, and I think we lost about 10 stone between us with our Mighty Movements! However, it got more and more fun as it went along and when people left at the end there were many smiles, not least for us, and a LOT of CDs and badges got given away!

Chris The Organiser had suggested that Steve and I do ANOTHER show soon after finishing the first one, to drag in the people coming out of Richard Herring's show, but I had regretfully decline his offer in the grounds that it would KILL me. Sure enough a five minute walk around the corner to The Duke Of Devonshire to see the aforesaid PALS afterwards nearly DID ME IN, and it took a little bit of rehydration to get me talking again!

So, all was well that ended well and now there's just one more show to go - at The Croydon Comedy Festival on Thursday - and then it is full steam ahead for Edinburgh. YOINKS!

posted 27/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Bits And Pieces Session
I was in DERBY on Wednesday, back in the pleasant surroundings of Snug Recording Co to do a whole HEAP of overdubs on the ever-approaching new Validators album.

Myself and Mr R Collins had a VERY productive day. Here's what we did, in LIST format:

  • Added UKULELE to the middle section of That Guy and then put some LEAD GTR in the instrumental breaks to go along with the violin.

  • Added ukulele to History's Rewritten, got Rich to add some keyboards, and double-tracked the vocals. Here's a picture of Rich trying to cope with me going "Make it go da da DA! da DA da!"



  • Made it sound like Tom was duetting with HIMSELF on The Future Is Amazing on PICCOLO!! This sounded INCREDIBLE and may be the most BRILLIANT thing Rich has achieved with his technology EVER. I was impressed! Also I added the phrase "In the future" to the start of the song (VITAL) and put down a guide vocal for when Emma does her vocals, for LO! it is a DUET!

  • Double-tracked some vocals and added a GTR SOLO to Burn It Down And Start Again. Both of these took a while due to my RIGHTEOUS IRE and definitely not because vocals and gtr soloes are things I'm not very good at.

  • Got Rich to add a "keyboard pad" (STUDIO LINGO: it means "some keyboard sounds") to 20 Things To Do Before You're 30.

  • Did the vocals for In The North Stand. This song OFTEN gets to me, emotionally speaking, and this time was no exception as I suddenly remembered that one of my oldest PALS has a LAD whose Grandad was also a Posh fan and I managed to WELL UP a bit. Curse you, Emotional Song!

    Luckily Mr FA Machine had arrived by this time so was able to lighten the mood somewhat with a) COMEDY WHISTLES and b) taking over recording duties. He was there primarily to play a bit of trumpet, but I'd realised that I could also get HIM to record some parts that were too difficult for me, so this is what he did:

  • Recorded the trumpet solo for In The North Stand. "It's got a musical joke in it!" he declared proudly. He spoke truth!

  • Added guitar to Can We Be Friends? "Make it sound more indie!" I said, and he did exactly that. It's so much easier doing overdubs when you can get people in who can actually PLAY their instruments, rather than spend an hour failing to do it yourself. I am basically a 21st Century BRIAN WILSON in this regard.

  • Did a similar guitar overdub on (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock. The three of us spent a while debating what STYLE he should go for - Bon Jovi? Status Quo? Or Queen? In the end it was None Of The Above.

    With all THAT finished we had a quick check to see if he needed to add something to We Did It Anyway (he didn't) or if I needed to add something to Get Over It (I didn't) and then that was THAT. An extraordinarily succesful day's recording DONE!

    We said our farewells to the ever patient and delightful Mr Collins then headed out for a gentle stroll through some of the many many delightful pubs on the way to Derby Station, during which Frankie told me some EXCITING and REVOLUTIONARY news about HIS new album and we agreed on MANY issues, musical AND political. After finishing up at The Brunswick (it would be rude not to) we hugged our goodbyes and I set off back for London, happy in the knowledge that, though there's still a couple of things still to do, the new album is a) well on track and b) sounding GRATE!

    posted 23/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Who Needs A Glowing Review?
    As I'm sure you are aware, neither myself nor Mr S Hewitt care much for the opinions of so-called "critics". Reviews are as nothing to us, which is just as well because we hardly ever get them and, indeed, got pretty much NONE when we did Total Hero Team in Edinburgh.

    So you can imagine how little we have been moved by the fact that we've had a SLEW of reviews for Hey Hey 16K and the almost indefinably tiny amount we're even bothered about the fact that they have all pretty much LOVED the show. It's not something we're interested in, and we definitely haven't read them aloud to each other several times while squeaking excitedly.

    However, I know some people ARE interested in such things and i SUPPOSE we should get used to quoting them as a way of encouraging more people to come and see us, so despite hating all forms off self-promotion and against my better judgement as an ARTISTE, here ARE those reviews.

    To start with, Alt Reading was a bit worried about everybody else being older than him (surely not?) but enjoyed himself and said it was " like watching your dad perform except that he’s actually funny." Me and Steve? Like a pair of drunk Dads? Where DO they get their ideas from?

    Meanwhile Get Reading gave us five stars - not that that's something we even care about, obviously, five stars, it's just a number even if it is quite a big number for that sort of thing. She does make an interesting point about how it's even possible for someone to drop out of character when they ARE that character (the answer? About 3 pints) and there's a VIDEO if you're interested in looking at me (and Steve) which, of course, is not something that me (and Steve) ARE interested in.

    After all that in Reading we had ANOTHER pair of reviewers - not, as I say, that we care about that sort of thing either way - in Buxton. One came from The Buxton Fringe itself, who a) thinks I'm called Mike but b) used the phrase "hooting with laughter" which, if it was the sort of thing I took delight in, I would take delight in.

    However, as I say, I don't repeat these for my own pleasure - far from it - but because I know that such things can influence attendance, and so the final review, from Fringe Guru is probably the best example of that sort of thing. Not just because it says things like "a superbly constructed piece of musical theatre" (which I'm sure some people would be all chuffed about, flush slightly and say "golly") but also because it seems to get what it's all about. I especially like the fact that he links our bodged together enthusiasm over expertise with the way the ZX Spectrum itself was constructed and...

    CURSES! Caught like a TREEN in a disabled spaceship reading its own reviews! Yes all right then, I am maybe a BIT pleased that we've got reviews this time and that people seem to like the show. If that is a crime then I ask for 20 years of occasional other offences to be taken into consideration, but if you wish to charge me you'll have to come to the show, COPPER!

    More of this sort of thing please, THE MEDIA!

    posted 22/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Mountain, Not A Slope
    Mr S Hewitt and I met for breakfast in Buxton on Sunday, where we discovered that the advantage of staying in a Somewhat Old Fashioned Hotel is that you do get rather a nice fried breakfast.

    Suitably FILLED with FOOD we set off for a wander round town, enjoying the really rather LOVELY Pavilion Gardens, where we noticed that we were pretty much the ONLY people under 70 unaccompanied by small children. We continued our perambulations by walking up what Buxton casually calls "The Slope" but which I call "A Ruddy Great Mountain". Next morning I had EDINBURGH LEG i.e. the aching leg pain caused by constantly going up and down ridiculous inclines. It was HUGE!

    However, once at the top we found Buxton Museum And Art Gallery, which was BRILL. There was an exhibition of the Arto Fuduklian Collection (try saying that after a lunchtime pint) and a GRATE display about the history of the peaks. It was really really good, and we celebrated by going back into town for TEA and CAKE. We are nothing if not ROCK AND ROLL!

    After all that excitement we collected our stuff from the hotel and then headed back to the Hydro, which we found even MORE packed with people eating than the day before. Our "performance area" was taken up by a table FULL of a ten-person group considering whether to have dessert. Steve and I beamed MIND THORTS at them until they decided not to (our powers are immense) and while we waited for them to leave we had a chat with a lovely couple who turned out to be from PETERBOROUGH. I always get a bit excited when I meet fellow Peterbrugians out and about, and had a marvellous ten minutes saying "My Dad went to that school!"

    When the large group left we were presented with a "thank you for waiting" free pint each by The Hydro, which was very nice of them, and then we FLEW into action sorting out chairs, for LO! we had an audience, and quite a large (for the space) one at that! Everyone was in place by 13:50 so we ended up starting a couple of minutes early on a HUGELY enjoyable version of the show with slightly less mistakes than the day before but just as many LARFS and HI-JINKS. I was unable to hula hoop in the confined space, so at the end I went outside and did a brief display for the assemblage, which was a daft and delightful way to end an extremely daft and delightful hour.

    Thoroughly happy with how everything had gone we retired to The Buxton Tap for a well-earned pint and to discuss how much fun it had all been. We've been doing the show for MONTHS now, but it's only in these last three shows that it's really started to feel like it's HAPPENING - suddenly it's all falling into place, with new bits coming in and old jokes (they're mostly old jokes) being HONED.

    Back on the train home we both had a little bit of a nap, getting our strength back for the Balham Free Fringe this Friday and the Croydon Comedy Festival a week on Thursday before - YOINKS! - we head to Edinburgh!!

    posted 21/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back In Buxton
    Nothing says "On The Road" like meeting Mr S Hewitt at 12:30pm for a cheeky pint in The Euston Tap before heading off to take our SHOWBUSINESS to another town. I know this because that's exactly what happened to me on Saturday lunchtime!

    Post-pint we toddled off to get our train and arrived in BUXTON three hours later, where we were due to perform the latest preview of Hey Hey 16K for The Buxton Fringe. Laden down with GEAR we stomped across town to our hotel, which turned out to be Shall We Say A Little Old Fashioned. Steve pointed out that the bar only lacked a MAJOR to be sitting in it, though over the course of the weekend we did see several candidates for the job. There was a PLAQUE stating that it had been opened in 1987, and INDEED the accomodation only lacked a ZX Spectrum to make them mirrors of my own teenage bedroom.

    We unloaded, watched a bit of telly (TOUR Tradition) then headed back across town to The Hydro, our venue. We booked it MONTHS ago (just before New Year, in fact) and I'd been a bit worried about whether they'd REMEMBER us, so had been relieved to see we were definitely in the Fringe programme. However, when we arrived we found that though they knew we were coming they weren't entirely sure what to do with us. The Hydro is a CAFE which, at this time of day, was pretty much FULL of people having their tea. It was suggested that we set up in the corner but a) I didn't really want to disturb people whilst they were eating and b) couldn't see how we'd charge on the door if DINERS were still coming in. It was a bit worrying, to be honest, but after some thought we decided to do the show in the small side area next to the bar. It wasn't IDEAL - we were between the bar, the kitchens and the LOOS so there was a lot of traffic and noise - but it was at least its own area.

    The trouble is, as I later discussed with my colleague, that THIS is exactly how gigs GET you. Every time I end up in a situation like this I think "Hey! This probably means that the gig'll turn out to be AMAZING!" and usually they're NOT, but every now and again it DOES happen like that and you end up spending another DECADE doing gigs and THIS was one of those - for LO! it was BLOODY GRATE!

    The audience all fitted nice and snugly into the room, including (we discovered) two reviewers, who therefore made up 20% of the audience. In Reading the level of reviewers was 10% - this must have been what it was like being in a ROMO band. Anyway, the audience were WELL up for it and LARFED and sang along and were generally a DELIGHT throughout. This was handy as the show was not without mistakes, but they took that as All Part Of The Fun and together we had a FANTASTIC time.

    After all THAT excitement all that was left to do was pack up and go for an ACTUAL CURRY (DELICIOUS) and a couple of beers at The Buxton Tap. A rather lovely end to a very lovely day - with still a day to go!

    posted 20/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    On The Road Again
    Yesterday evening I met Mr S Hewitt at Paddington Station to take Hey Hey 16K back out on the road again. For LO! we were heading for READING and The Reading Fringe, where we were due to perform as part of its second day.

    We found our way through Reading very easily (thank heavens for Streetview - how did EXIST before we could have a pre-wander through new places?) to find TWO surprising things about our venue, The Purple Turtle. Firstly, it had a range of ALES (i was expecting NONE) and secondly it was EMPTY! We sat around for a while and then one of the Fringe organisers came and said hello. Like everyone else we were to meet she was very enthusiastic and friendly and very much knew what she was doing, which was ACE. She also took our picture for The Record. Naturally Steve and I were very shy and did not in any way POSE like MAD.

    We dropped our stuff off downstairs in the Performance Area, said hello to a TONNE more lovely people, and then popped outside ... where we discovered that the front of the pub was empty but the back was PACKED! We had a pint and went back in to find an actual AUDIENCE had arrived - it was showtime!

    And lo! The show was GOOD! As ever it was a good job I did the "There will be mistakes" speech at the start because CRIKEY there totally were but it made the whole thing ROLL along, and I realised that the lack of an incredibly complicated plot this time meant that it was MUCH easier to mess around more and make REMARKS to the audience - I feel that this may become more and more of a THING as the show goes on!

    Afterwards everyone appeared very happy, grinning while accepting badges and Dinosaur Planet CDs - indeed, a couple of people said they already HAD a copy! We thanked the organisers THOROUGHLY (they really were EXTREMELY good) and headed back to Reading Station (NOTE to Reading Station: you are not an airport, BEHAVE) where we had a pasty each before our train arrived. As we sat there it really felt like this was the final big run up to Edinburgh, and I found myself EXCITED at the prospect of larking about doing this show every day. It's going to be GRATE!

    posted 17/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Shoe Shop Guys
    It's Neil Tennant's birthday today, and that's pretty much all the excuse Mr J Dredge and I needed to finally unleash The Shoe Shop Guys upon the world, THUS:



    We filmed this a few weeks ago and had planned to wait until OCTOBER to release it, once John's new podcast series is over and I'm back from Edinburgh, but it's been difficult to STICK to that plan because I LOVE The Shoe Shop Guys - so much so that we've done two more videos with them, and I suspect we'll be doing MORE in the future.

    It's Chris Lowe's birthday in October, so we MIGHT wait until then for the next one... but it'll be difficult!

    posted 10/7/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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