Paul Kerensa (title bar)

Wednesday 8th September 2010, 01:35

Edinburgh 2010 - a retroselective

I tweeted, facebooked and told random people in passing these various things, but I wanted to log somewhere My Edinburgh Experience 2010. It was marked by several notable events:

- My doing the Free Fringe for the first time. Worked out marvellously, with full houses, breaking even, fun shows, lovely venue, and generally far more enjoyable a run of shows than my last fringe. Then, while I did enjoy my show, I found being delighted at 30-40 people in a 120-seat venue still meant that the audience were rattling around in it. Much better to lure 100 people in with the promise of zero ticket price, then put a hat round, and sure enough, people gave. The added consequence is that because they pay after the show, my earnings were directly proportionate to the quality of that particular show. If I had an off night, I got less. So I upped my game, and the next night worked my arse of on stage and earned more than at most gigs. Itís like street theatre but without a street. So theatre.

- One person rummaged in their pockets for change but unfortunately drew out their house keys. Even more unfortunately, I didnít notice till I counted my takings later that night. I still have their keys, and presume that means I now own a house in Edinburgh Ė I just donít know which one. A generous donation.

- I met a second cousin for the first time, who also happened to be doing a show at the fringe. And I met my second cousinís second cousin (no blood relation of mine), who was teching at the Pleasance. Small world, but then I am Cornish. It certainly didnít help prove, as I was hoping to in the show, that Cornish inbreeding is a myth.

- One nightmare of a gig was at the bar next to my flat. I saw they had a comedy fundraiser gig, so I offered my services along with the other names I saw listed. I turned up on the relevant afternoon, waiting for 2 hours as various comedians gigged then stayed to drink, and eventually went on stage to find an all-male audience crammed into this pub. I began with a routine about my forthcoming child, asking if anyone there had kids. No one, apparently. ďWhat are you all, barren?Ē I asked. No. It turned out it was a gay bar. My gaydar is pretty bad, but my gaybardar is even worse, it appears. Apparently the rainbow flags should have been a clue, plus the all-male audience, plus the fact that the comedians drinking there happened to be either gay or female, plus the charity being fundraised for was Waverley Care (an HIV charity), plus the fact the two preceding acts to me were The Scottish Gay Menís Chorus and a poet whose work was all homoerotic. His act ended with a full striptease. There were clues, you might say. But I am so clear of bias that I donít see these things that others might. Plus anyone there might have had kids Ė they could adopt. Still, that gig did not go well.

- I did see some shows, but not many. Highlights included:
...improv musical Baby Wants Candy
...comedian David OíDoherty
...Exeter Universityís play Bluebird
...sketch troupe The Real MacGuffins
...Margaret Cabourn-Smith and ZoŽ Gardnerís riotous An Hour of Telly
...Lizzy Maceís lovely docu-comedy Crush
...Andrew Collinsí solo show debut
...the inimitable, the indefatigable, the indivisible Andy Zaltzman

All in all a successful Fringe. I now hope to do a mini-tour of my show (or even a minotaur), and roll on next year, or more likely, the year after, pending parental duties next August.

In the mean time, for my own posterity, here are some links to articles written about the show, or more likely, by me, this Fringe:

http://www.chortle.co.uk/correspondents/2010/08/09/11522/fringe_baby
http://www.whatsonstage.com/index.php?pg=207&story=E8831281535334
http://www.whatsonstage.com/features/theatre/edinburgh/E8831281351709/Guest+Blog
http://www.edinburgh-festivals.com/viewblog.aspx?id=39
http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/comment/ken-smiths-diary/not-such-a-class-act-the-diary-18-august-2010-1.1048947
http://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/article/28549-borderline-racist/
http://newstaging.spectator.widearea.co.uk/the-magazine/arts/6215233/part_3/playing-it-straight.thtml


Wednesday 28th April 2010, 11:51

Help with Edinburgh show research please...

Right. My Edinburgh show this year is one with a stupidly large amount of research attached to it, and while I've done a fair amount, I've hit a wall. Which made me so frustrated, that I hit a wall.

So can you help proffer any information on the following...?

Silly neighbourly stereotypes & prejudices from country to country. That's it, simply put. Especially what any African, South American or Asian country thinks of their neighbours. I've done Europe, North America and Australasia (although opinions on these welcome too if you know any). But anyone with insider knowledge of what Sudanese think of Egyptians or Peruvians think of Bolivians, or anywhere else, please email me - paul at paulkerensa.com.

I'm hearing lots of 'x hates y', normally due to a war many years ago that few of us have actually heard of, but the good uns are the little stereotypes that we wouldn't normally know about, eg:

- Austrians think Hungarians are scary drivers in small cars
- Latvians swear by speaking Russian
- The Swiss think Italian men scream for their mothers while having sex
- Swedes say Finns are knife-wielding introverts who sit in saunas all day. Swedes also insist this isn't a stereotype - this is actually true.

Any other contributions? There are a lot of countries on the planet, and I'm finding it very hard to find out what any African nation thinks of their neighbours. No one wants to tell me. Also South America and Asia are proving tricky.

Do tell any unusual prejudices you've picked up on your world travels. paul at paulkerensa.com. Ta much.

And remember: it's not being racist, it's being xenophobic, and in any case, we're all equally rubbish, just in different ways...


Friday 23rd April 2010, 00:39

Twice Nightly revisited

It was an odd idea - to revisit a play we first performed at school, just because the school was having a birthday, and most of the original cast still lived locally, not to mention that I see them on a weekly basis. It's a very silly comedy - part farce, part murder mystery - that I wrote when I was 17. But I've always enjoyed it and keep coming back to it - this was the 5th production of it with new casts each time. It's been done, independent of me, by Bristol Uni and Edinburgh Uni, and is being put on again this August in the Camden Fringe, again, nothing to do with me.

So it was nice to come back to it with the original actors, many of whom I had in mind when writing the characters. I say 'characters' - more caricatures, some of them, as parts include Dribbles the manservant, Professor Von Spleen, and one character just called Dodgy Bloke. Shakespeare it ain't, but fun it is, and it was tonight.

We've had 5 rehearsals, and the first rehearsal with the complete cast was the dress rehearsal. I'm on stage 4 nights a week doing stand-up, but it's not quite the same as donning a costume, learning some lines, and interacting with others onstage. Much as the temptation was to go totally off-script and improvise around some laughs, you do have to consider other actors, so I think I reined myself in there.

Anyway, one night only, one big laugh. We may put it on again in a year or so at the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford - if once again we just can't keep away from this blast from the past. It was odd - putting it on in the new auditorium that used to be the gym, where I last set foot to do my A levels. The night before plays, many actors have anxiety dreams about remembering lines or cues - I had a dream instead all about turning up for the right exam.

So tomorrow night, back to normality. ie. A stage, as Paul Kerensa not Paul Young, with no costume, no learned lines, just me and no one else. Much more comfortable.


Friday 26th March 2010, 14:38

R&R at a B&B

Why do I always feel guilted into having breakfast at the crack of just after the crack of dawn, whenever I use a B&B? I check in at 6, some kindly old woman shows me my room and how to use the long-broken shower without scolding my skin, and then she says, ďYou will have breakfast from 7am till 9am.Ē Even though a two-hour breakfast was clearly not what she had in mind, I still felt bad this morning when I was woken at 7:10 by the sound of her coughing loudly and jangling keys outside of my room. By 7:20 I walked into the breakfast room to find her patiently (no, impatiently) standing there with a teapot in one hand and the other raised to her face so she can look at her watch.

I know these times suit businessmen, but Iím not a businessman. I didnít get to sleep till 3am thanks to gig-time then writing-time then a teeny bit of watching-Lost-time. A 7am breakfast is not convenient for me. Given that Iím the only guest, why not treat yourself, dear landlady, and letís all have a lie-in.

Hotels suit me better. Far less pressure. Over time as we age, our goalposts are narrowed ever so slightly year on year as to what accommodation weíll put up with and put up cash for. When I began stand-up, Iíd stay on friendsí floors. This stopped when one friend put me on the kitchen floor, with my head staring underneath the fridge. I was woken that morning not by a landlady coughing, but by his flatmate reaching over me to bread from the freezer. If the cold blast of air didnít wake me, the freezer door crashing into my skull did.

So then Iíd still stay on sofas. Until you realise that one manís sofa is another manís armchair, and you end up with curvature of the spine by morning, plus being forced to watch whatever the last person in the house wants to watch on TV before they go to bed, and whatever the first person in the house wants to watch in the morning. In busy houses, this could only be separated by a few short minutes.

Then there are spare rooms. I still do this, but am choosy. Many promoters offer spare rooms, but not all are worth the gamble. One promoter offered me a spare room, and I took it, not knowing he was a student, and that the spare room would be whichever room wasnít occupied by his rutting housemates (ďThereís always at least one room free if they stay at their girlfriends...Ē). So that night I had the choice between two rooms Ė both rank Ė one with a Student Health Service Guide To Chlamydia by the bed, the other with a Student Health Service Guide To Herpes. Itís rare in life you get a choice like that. So I read both booklets, and chose the one least likely to catch from a duvet. I chose chlamydia.

This B&Bís ok. In trying to save money by going for a B&B, Iíve probably cost myself more as Iíll have to get another hotel tonight rather than push on home, thanks to the very few hours of sleep. But at least on laterooms.com, when comparing B&B facilities, I didnít click on this one with the thought: yes, Iíll choose chlamydia.


Thursday 18th March 2010, 10:07

Why do...

...birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?

No. The world's googlers do not ask such elementary questions. Their curiosities are piqued by more pressing questions. You can find what pressing questions these are by going to the www.google.co.uk and starting to type 'Why...' or 'Why does...' or 'What...'. See the suggested google searches that others have done. It's worrying.

Here are some of the (apparently) most frequently asked questions by the world's googlers (if you don't believe me, start typing the questions in and watch them fill themselves in before your eyes)...

Why does my dog eat poop?
Where is Chuck Norris?
Who is The Stig? (I think The Stig is Chuck Norris)
Why do I fart so much?
Why does my bellybutton smell? (Because you fart so much.)
Why are men attracted to breasts?
Why are my hands always cold? (A line often used in conjunction with the previous question.)
Why are black people so ugly? (I know. It scares me that the world is asking this questions.)
Why are people racist? (My thoughts exactly.)
Why am I always tired?
Why are Journey back in the charts?
What are piles?
What are Santa's reindeer called?
What are the names of Santa's reindeer in order? (I like this. Clearly the previous question provided the right answer but not in the right order, dammit)
Who are the Kardashian family and why are they famous? (Cos you keep searching for it.)
Where does Cheryl Cole live?
Why aren't I losing weight? (Because you write 'why aren't I' not 'why am I not'. When you pay attention to words you will start to understand what 'calorie count' means.)
How do I delete google history? (Someone's been looking at porn.)