Category Archives: Comedy

Comedy shows, gigs, writing and performing.

On Tour – Derry & Belfast

Day 30 – Derry/Londonderry
At Manchester airport I am frisked twice at security, maybe because I’m wearing Danny’s large brown duffel coat to keep the baggage costs down. I’m not sure what to expect arriving in Belfast, but arrive at the Malone Hotel without incident.
One of my best mates is Irish and I lived with him for 3 years, so I should know the appropriate naming convention for the city in which we are playing tonight. I think Derry, but Charlie is calling it Londonderry and on the way there all the signs say Londonderry so I start doubting my knowledge and think I’m getting it confused with a brand of butter. So I start calling it Londonderry, then as we’re almost there the road signs are all de-faced saying just ‘derry’. Oh Dear, I sense an ill-formed faux pax on the horizon. The gig is well attended and the venue is lovely. I avoid hassle by simply asking who is “local” and “not local”, I’d later find out that even the BBC have protocol for Derry. In the first instance it’s ‘Londonderry’, in the second it’s ‘Derry’ and after that it’s refered to as ‘the city’.

Day 31 & 32 – Belfast
For the few days in Belfast we are staying in an apartment thanks to Charlie – so we can do amazing things like use an oven or microwave. Charlie cooks an awesome steak, Kristina makes mashed potatoes, and I buy loads of ex-rental dvd’s for 99p to watch, which is almost helpful. I meet up with Phil Topping who I’ve not seen in years and he takes me on a great tour of Belfast city taking in the town hall, the Crown Inn (where we meet some american tourists on a cruise) and the catherdral quarter. There is a church with a big metal spike instead of a tower. This is becuse some of Belfast is built on marshland, so anything really heavy sinks into the ground. Phil tells me Belfast is a new city in the last few years, and it certainly feels like a place on the up. Busy, pleasant and the venue we’re in at the Waterfront Theatre is a big glass building with loads of venue spaces. We’re in the studio which we’ve almost managed to fill on both nights playing there. Friday’s gig is great, Saturdays is even better. Afterward, Phil and his mate take us on the drink around town, we hit a bar with a band playing, it is very loud and the drink is addlestones. I don’t remember much after that, a top few days.

On Tour – Wellingborough, Cheltenham, Brecon, Newtown

Day 21 – Wellingborough
After the sell out gig in Nottingham, things are more normal and quiet in Wellingborough. A nice enough  place, though the rear corridor of the Hind Hotel smells strongly of faeces. A good show is had despite low numbers, and Charlie and I go for a post show pint in the Cromwell, the pub attached to the hotel – which closes at 8pm. What? It is half past 10. “We close at 8” says the woman behind the bar as she pulls our pint. Charlie pops outside to use his phone then dashes back in as two drunk men wobble down the road toward him.
We leave the next morning.

Day 22 – Cheltenham
Danny Pensive did his first ever closing gig here at Cheltenham race course, so I like Cheltenham, and we’re not disappointed. A full house for the show and a great one too. I quick wander into the town centre past loads of fanct clothes shops and a giant bronze rabbit sitting next to a bull. A nice fast internet conection at the venue and I managed to download the first episode of Spooks and Merlin of the BBCi player, how showbiz. There is no phone signal at all in the hotel.

Day 23 – Brecon
Day one of the ‘Welsh Trilogy’. Yes, we’ve been to Wales already twice, but this time we stay in the same gust house for three days and sattellite to the venues to gain a modicum of consistancy before the last two dates of the English leg of the tour. We head direct to the unpronounceable theatre in Brecon where it rains, and rains, and rains. Cool stuff – my cousin Seb and his missus turn up to watch the show and catch up which is a much needed respite, as the crowd really are a challenge tonight.

Day 24 – Newtown
Consistency in the Welsh Trilogy is provided by Joan and David at the Plas Canol gust house in Newtown, Powys, a 3 star establishment where all surfaces are liberally covered by Laura Ashley patterns. I don’t have anytime to enjoy it, getting up at 6 and driving up to Chester for some Comedysportz corporate work, see the missus for lunch and head back. The Theatre, or Theatr, Hafren looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere, like Newtown itself, but the posters of previous tours clearly show different, and there’s a good crowd in to see the show. Afterward a walk in the freezing cold to a pub where they are playing darts. It is very Welsh indeed, and pleasingly so.