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Upcoming Gigs

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TESTT (Durham): April 12th

The New Adelphi (Hull): April 15th

Workshop Theatre (Leeds): April 17th

Hydra Bookshop (Bristol): April 18th

Derby Theatre: April 20th

Harrogate Theatre: April 24-25th

Ovalhouse (London): April 26-28th


London Book Launch at Ovalhouse, April 26th

York Book Launch at All Saints Church, April 29th

Small Fry DIY, Warrington, 2nd May

Spoken Weird, Halifax: 3rd May

Born Lippy, Newcastle 9th May

Shaken In Sheep Town, Skipton: 10th May

Find The Right Words, Leicester : 16th May

Queenie’s Coffee Nights, Huddersfield: 21st May

Gong Fu Poets, Coxhoe: 31st May

Verse Matters, Sheffield: 7th June

Slam Dunk, Hastings: 28th June

Word Club, Leeds: 29th June

Poetry Jam, Durham: 4th October

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

20.17 Blog #7: Subtle Hint

I promised myself whatever life threw my way, I wouldn’t write reviews on this blog.
WHY?  I have all these opinions.  Littering my life.  Rubbishing it up.  Begging to me scooped up.  “Voice me!” they cry.

But no!  For I used to review, back in the days of The Talk Magazine, back in the days of Leeds Student Newspaper (circa ye olde 2006-2010) and lo I decided I would much rather hang with the bands / theatre makers / poets than review them for I would become one of them, in time, with practise.


Tonight I wrnt to see Josie Long for the first time ever live.  If you don't know her, she's a well-read funny comedian and shambles merchant.

I’m not gonna review.  Nope nope nope.  But I will say, from a Professional Performer Perspective I took away loads.

I took away smiles (yay!) and a Righteous Sense That The Left Will Persist Until We All Smile (yay…?).  Josie’s show had a simple overarching concept of Can’t We All Get Along peppered with these anecdotes about the shit that means we struggle to do just that.  But her buoyancy and overwhelmingly (at times unnervingly) optimistic like a child bedazzled by the bright lights.

The bright lights in this context are socialism.

 The show can be taken at a Liberal Oooo -let’s-all-be-nice-to-one-another-ishness and several times Josie berates herself for having a go at Tories (among others) but this isn’t as simple as a Well-You-Have-Your-Opinion End Point, but more a tactic of proclaiming her broad welcoming hub of leftism as the place you want to be.  It’s great, we have badges and the best music.

Josie happened to be very subtle, as much as her punchline (spoilers, yo) is that we’ve been slowly converted.  But actually, we have, by her spirit and boundless bounding optimism, cynicism-free approach and joyous rapport.

The best compliment I ever got ever (I do better with compliments than criticisms) was someone saying they felt totally comfortable in my audience as a compere.  No mean feat, compering is something I take pride in, and often get wrong, but like to celebrate when it goes right.

To me, a 60+ show is more than just a set.  The comedian on before Josie, Tez Ilyas, did a set and a blinder it was too and no mistake.  Poets at slams and open mics worry about their 3 minutes, they can make the audience laugh, cry, alienated or riled up.  But the compere needs to host the event, and someone doing a show needs to host themselves.

Host themselves?  What a nonsense phrase!

Well, no.  Actually.

Josie’s constant jolting flip between celebrating her positively over loves and quirks and habits to berating herself for a life of artistic failure, lacklustre life choices and being a God Damn Leftie like some incompetent shambolic vandal.

And it’s that DoubleThink I try to keep in my audience’s heads when they see me.  I try and make the audience feel welcome and home (I prefer to address them as “friends” or “folks”) and get them onside with cheers and quickfire responses.  But then I also like to play things a bit random, go off script as it were, make asides, in-jokes, reference the atmosphere, stalk around like a Raptor, be casually, flippantly and also deadly seriously political both off-handily and in-face-edly. It’s a bite out of both, it can be both welcoming and have the harlequin aspect punk embraces and vomits over.

I guess what I’m try to say is….



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