Archive for the ‘ Random Stuff ’ Category

24 Hours at the Edinburgh Fringe

And so another year of my comedy adventures rolled by without me sacking up and doing an Edinburgh show. Year after year I’d hear stories and reports from my comedy cohorts about the comedy Bootcamp that is the yearly Fringe festival, and year after year I’d nod and say, Maybe next year. Truth is, it’s unlikely I’ll get to put on my own show in Edinburgh for a long time; it would require a financial outlay that I’m unable/ too miserable to commit to, plus I’ve yet to find the right way to word it to my girlfriend that I’d be using all of my holidays from work to bugger off to do comedy for four weeks. But all that doesn’t excuse the fact that I’ve never even BEEN to Edinburgh, to even scoot over and see what the festival is like… flights cost fuck all, I have a pal living over there so I have accomodation…why not just hop over for a day and see some shows? So this week, that’s exactly what I did.

The story begins on Wednesday at Idiot O’Clock, as does most RyanAir flights. Eager to get over as early as possible (read; save a fiver) I booked a flight at six in the morning, so that picture up there is me waiting on the Aircoach outside Quinns at like half four, barely fit to stand. compounding my idiocy, I had nipped downtown the night before to do a set in the Mish-Mash, meaning I was one grumpy fucker in the morning (I died on my hole the night before as well, which didn’t help). I was hoping the early part of this blog would be a bunch of witticisms about Airports, Airport security, RyanAir and what the “deal” was with the whole thing, but in reality Air travel is a fairly well oiled machine at this stage. I had printed my boarding card the night before and pretty much strolled through security, and got my seat and flew off. It was a doddle. The only thing of interest the whole time was the fact that Sean from Foil Arms and Hog was pictured on the overhead bins as part of the Meteor a campaign, and I nudged the person beside me in a stupor of sleep deprivation/ and six am in-flight Heiniken (classy) and said “See that lad? It’s his birthday today”.

And half an hour later, BAM; Edinburgh. A bus into town, no problems… other than the fact that it wasn’t  eight o’clock yet and no-one was up. Deluded as I am, I started sending a few texts to comedians wondering if they were around for coffee or breakfast (they would reply many, many hours later and inform me that they had been asleep at the time which, to be fair, what the fuck else was I expecting). I make up my itinerary for the day; the first Irish show I want t see is around twelve, then there’s another at half one. Then lunch, then skip over and catch two more shows before meeting up with Abie Philbin Bowman who has kindly agreed to let me perform at one of his shows around five. The catch the first half of one show before nipping out to catch the second half of another, then catch more shows after that. Dinner, another show, then a few pints then home. Spoiler Alert; none of this happens. I get off the bus and meet my friend Noel, fellow CMXican currently working in Edinburgh, who draws me a map of where everything is.

"Here be dragons"

Following our meeting, I set off on my noble quest, the first half of which involves waiting around for two hours for anything to start. I find the Royal Mile, Fringe central, where everyone had told me tales of how packed and mental the whole place is. I don’t see the big deal; it’s kinda quiet. This is half nine, however. I wander up and down the mile, taking in the castle sights, finding a few directions to shows I want to see, and sitting down for a breakfast which includes my first ever taste of haggis.

Haggis is FUCKING DELICIOUS.

Ten thirty, and the Mile is picking up a bit. Theater performers are starting to draw the attentions of the crowds; there are fucking mimes everywhere. The place is a Mimefield, ho ho. Seriously, back the fuck off, man. On top of the ac-tors and the mimes are the street performers, juggling fire and yelling to attract crowds. Most of them seem to spend the first twenty minutes assembling a crowd and begging them to come “a little bit closer”. Then they do their juggling act and, AND, they do a bit of whip work. WHAAAAA-TISHHH! When did street performers get whips? This is a new thing. Like, every one of them has a bullwhip. I watch one guy for a while then bugger off. Through the course of the day, I will see him perform four more times. The sensory overload of the mile gets to be a wee bit too much for me, and I find myself spending twenty minutes watching a guy do nothing except be upside-down in a bucket.

ART.

I have a flick through the Fringe brochure/ catalogue thing while having a coffee (my drinking schedule for the day is intended to see me remain relatively sober, and goes alcohol-coffee-alcohol-coffee… That’s sustainable, right?). Other than all the Irish acts, one show name catches my attention and makes me laugh. I figure fuck it; It’s a free show, it’s on early in the day, I have fuck all else to do… yeah, take a chance! Go see a show by some new comedian you’ve never heard of. That’s what the Fringe is for, right? The show is on in Jekyl and Hyde, (not far from The Stand, and yes I did go in and introduce myself to the office staff to try and wrangle a few gigs out of them later in the year; I may be on holiday but hustle doesn’t sleep) a venue which has Aidan Killians bright blue eyes postered all over the front of it. I make a note to return for Aidans show later (Spoiler Alert; Doesn’t happen) and sit down with eight other people to watch a young English comedian launch into his show.

It is AWFUL.

I mean, really terrible. The show starts with him welcoming us to a show that has been called “Tedious, unfunny and a downright waste of time by critics”, and then sets about living up to that hype. I want to leave.There is no way I can waste an hour at this. I keep giving him another five minutes to get better, to make a point or to be at all entertaining. This goes on for a half hour until I cannot stand it any longer. I’ve never walked out of a comedy show in my life. What if he draws attention to the fact that I’m leaving? What do I say? What if he makes a show out of me? Do I get defensive? Do I tell him the truth? This is awful! I hate this! Is this what it’s like to be an audience member at a comedy show? This is terrible! I’m never going to a comedy show again! I duck and swivel off my chair and scuttle out as if I’m dodging return fire. Back on the street, I make my way up to the center of town again, bumping into the girls from Shinoxcy on the way. They’re quieter than I’ve ever seen them, and after a long month performing at the festival I couldn’t blame them. I’ve been here six hours and I’m shattered. That’s not something that gets better when I reach the Royal Mile, where things have gotten somewhat busier…

The mile is considerably harder to negotiate at this stage. People cram fliers into your hands every five steps. Every show seems to have gotten four star reviews. When you put one flier into your pocket, you’re handed two more. I have made a mental note to drop the next mime that prances in front of me. I head to Finnegans Wake to catch Ian Perth ripping it up with his solo show Schoolbooks in Wallpaper. This is the polar opposite of the shite I’d seen earlier in the day; energetic, funny, striking the right tone with the crowd, and altogether entertaining. After the show, I have a chat with Ian and Patser Murray, about how the month has been so far. They  have had good attendances at most gigs, so they’re pretty happy. They show me around the city a bit, so I can see where all these shows are that I’ll end up not going to. After they leave, I visit some of the venues out of curiosity. Just the Tonic at the Store, which will host Conor O’Toole and Rory O’Hanlon, looks very nice from the outside. The Gilded Balloon where large numbers of Irish acts will play looks imposing from the outside. Opium, where Eric Lalor will be playing in a few hours, looks kinda scary. I make a note of where all these places are and vow to come back later (Spoiler; doesn’t happen). It’s at this point that Edinburgh, keen to show me everything it has to offer, decides that it’s time to let the rain start falling.

Shit just got grim; umbrellas threaten to poke out eyes, Mime make-up begins to run. This curious love affair I’m having with the city ebbs and flows; I walk for fifty yards thinking wow, I’d love to be here for a month, doing my show and living it up. I walk another fifty yards and I can’t wait to go home. Halfway down the road, I meet Rory O’Hanlon, who informs me that it’s been raining like this, solid, for a week. He seems in good spirits though, with his shows doing well, but there is a look in the mans eye that suggests that he wouldn’t mind joining me in a baton charge on some drama students. I toddle off to a place called Cafe Roma, where Abie Philbin Bowman has offered me a short set. I meet Abie (and my friend Noel) and proceed to help in drumming up a crowd for the show, introducing me to the other delight of performing at Edinburgh; flyering.

"Hello Sir, madam, would you like to..."

"...A free comedy show, if you would like to...sir?"

"Hello? Hello? Could you... Hello?"

"ACKNOWLEDGE ME, DAMN YOU, I AM A PERSON!!!!!!!"

Abie, on the other hand, is a dab hand at flyering, and has assembled a fine crowd of about forty people in the small downstairs room. I go down and do a lovely wee gig, taking care not to do any material that too irish-centered, to see how I play to the largely British crowd. It goes over quite well, as does the headliner for the show Robbie Bonham. I shuffle on after the show and meet up with Trevor Browne on the Mile, who was hard at work getting people into his show. He’s waiting on some reviews to come in from previous shows; this strikes me as something important to all the guys over here. Most of them are performing well and most of them are doing alright out of the donations buckets after the show, but what they really want is the reviews; good reviews that they can use to book more work with, both back home and in the UK. I leave Trevor to his work and head off to Noels flat to wash and get ready to go back out, missing most of the shows I’d wanted to see in the process. I get a call from Marcus O’Laoire to help him out with his show, to fill in for Lucy Montague-Moffatt who has gone down with food poisoning. Maybe she had the same haggis as I did, cos it is starting to give me a dose of the Tom Tits. I head over to Marcus’ show, where he’s ripping it up.

You can see the difference a month makes in Marcus’ performance; the intensive comedy training that you can only get from a full month of focused gigging shines through in his act. he’s sharper, his timing is better, his material has no fat on it at all. In Edinburgh, you cannot fail to improve. It’s bootcamp for comedians. Marcus brings me on, and I have a great time. It’s a lovely gig in a lovely room, and I do quite well based on the fact that it’s ninety percent irish and I don’t have to change fuck all of my set (which is a bit disappointing as I would have liked to have had a bit more of a challenge). Still, we wrap up and go out and get stocious. Marcus takes me and Noel and some other to a wee bar and we get drunk on viscous, syrupy beer while Marcus eats a cheese and cold meat platter.

KEEPING IT REAL.

As for the rest of the night; Edinburgh has me now. The night descends into a boozy Russian Roulette game of Pop-Up Pirates with a bunch of surly Aussies, and then… I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I wake up next morning in Noels flat. He puts me on the bus out to the Airport and I fuck off back home on a RyanAir flight seemingly piloted by someones cousin, given how hard he slammed it onto the Dublin tarmac. Looking back at the day gone by, it struck me all at once how much I would love to do my own Edinburgh show, and how much I would hate it. The brilliance of the audiences versus the trudge of flyering. The spirit and pride of the performers versus the spitefullness of some reviewers (and I would point out the assassination of an esteemed Irish act by a Chortle reviewer as my citation here; seriously, the last time there was an assassination like that, it kicked off a World War). The long days and the getting up to it all over again. The sunshine versus the driving rain. The delicious haggis dinner versus the vicious haggis skitter. Could I go through it daily, for a whole month? Maybe we’ll find out next year, but for now I have a renewed respect for those that have done it this year, and will be coming home next week. Well done, each and every one of you.

And if you see my Liver on the Royal Mile, bring it with you would ya?

HeadsUp Interview

Protect ya neck! And more importantly, protect yer mental health. Here’s a wee interview I did for Headsup.ie while waiting around to go onstage at a festival in Maynooth (a gig  which was so awful it set my mental wellbeing back by about five years, ironically). Have a wee look and remember if something is bothering you, stop being so fucking Irish about it!

It’s Part 2 of the Mark Hanratty Energy Drink Review Blog!!

Late nights, early mornings; the world of stand-up comedy can take its toll on both body and mind, so it’s important to give oneself time to relax and rejuvenate…  maybe take a break from gigging, book oneself into a spa for a weekend, just let all stresses and strains slip into the background and emerge refreshed and… nah, bollox to that. What you need to do is keep the head down and plough on, with the help of some serious cocktails of sugar and caffeine. Who the fuck cares about long-term heart-tissue erosion? You need to chug down some energy drinks in the style of a mad scientist turning himself into a monster.

I've cracked it! No more sleepily veering into the path of oncoming trucks on the M4 for me!

But with so many energy drinks on the market, how can we know which ones will carry us to that gig in Borris-In-Ossory, and which ones will abandon us and leave us falling asleep at a red light in Clane? Well, it’s times like this you have to turn to Improv genius and Energy Drink connoisseur Mark Hanratty!

Mark looks DELIGHTED.

Mark has already contributed one gut-bursting article on energy drinks, (which you can read here) and returns today with a review of concentrated energy shots, because who the fuck needs tooth enamel, right? Take it away, my friend…

……………………………

There are many different reasons why somebody might need an energy drink to keep them awake. Like Gerry, you may be a comedian, trying to stay awake on the long journey back from a gig. You might be working a day job, and trying to keep yourself from dropping off after a rough night of sleep. Or you might be Cillian Murphy, trying to safeguard yourself from a sneaky Leonardo DiCaprio intent on tampering with your dreams. Whatever the reason, we all need a bit of a pick-me-up now and again, and a can of energy drink is the choice of many. But what about those guys who are just so busy, they don’t have time for a 250ml drink? When the five minutes needed to skull a Red Bull is a luxury you can’t afford, you, my friend, need an Energy Drink Shot.

Energy Drink Shots are one off the offshoots of the energy drink craze of the late 90s. Sold in most off-licenses, newsagents, and some supermarkets, they promise the kick you need in just a couple of gulps. They became most widely available around 2007 or 2008, and by this point there’s a wide range of them on the market. We’ll be putting three of them through their paces- “5 Hour Energy”, “Red Bull Energy Shot” and “Revamp”. I tested each shot out under a different scenario: Work, Rest, and Play.

“5 Hour Energy”

“5 Hour Energy” is, according to Wikipedia, the biggest-selling energy drink shot in the US, and the one that kicked off the imitators. It comes in various fruit flavours, with Orange being the one I tried. Taste-wise, it’s got an incredible bitter, acidic tang off it. It leaves something of a powdery taste in the mouth afterwards, and it’s almost nausea inducing. It can leave one with a queasiness after drinking a big gulp of it. It’s possible to drink the whole bottle in a single go, but the sharp taste it has means it’s probably better to finish it off with a series of smaller sips.

WORK

I tried this bad boy on my way to work one morning. I had been gigging with the Absurders the night before, and was so pumped with adrenaline afterwards that by the time the alarm rang at 6am, I hadn’t had a wink of sleep. No better time to give the drink its test – it was going to be a tough day for me, just trying to stay awake.

As the name implies, the energy that this drink gives is intended to last for five hours. It also promises no sugar crash – that horrible comedown seasoned energy drink enthusiasts experience when the taurine, caffeine and sugar burn out of your system and you’re forced to run off the body’s natural energy. Health warnings on the back advise against drinking the shot if you are pregnant or under the age of 12. Since I’m from Tallaght, I know some people who have two reasons not to drink it. “Feel it in minutes- lasts for hours!” claims the bottle. The low-brow comedian in me saw a double meaning behind this slogan, but the catering assistant in me had work to do.

Unlike the conventional energy drinks, where the effects can be felt instantly, 5- Hour Energy has a slow-burning effect. You don’t get the dizzying sense of euphoria or inability to sit still that Red Bull provides. However, what you do get is the feeling of a slow release of energy thoughout the day. Despite my lack of sleep, I felt fully able to perform the day’s duties, and didn’t need to go to bed until 7:30pm that night. I didn’t have a sugar rush, but I didn’t doze off while washing the dishes either. It’s just a shame that the taste is so bitter.

NB – Don’t make the mistake that one 22- year old woman did recently; that is, to drink ten bottles of 5 Hour Energy a day. Unless of course, you fancy jaundice. The bottle points out that two a day should be your limit.

“Revamp”

Revamp is a drink, targeted at the ultra- cool, super- funky youth, man! They’ve even got a breakdancer on their bottle! This drink is NOT for squares, daddio!

It’s got an overpowering, medicine-like taste off it. It was a genuine chore drinking it;  it tastes absolutely foul, and reminds one of gone-off Calpol. Revamp’s main selling point is that it markets itself as a hangover cure, with the slogan “Get up. Feel good. Carry on”. Poster advertising also points towards its ability to induce wellbeing after a heavy night of boozing. Since I don’t drink, and have as a result never had a hangover, I can only imagine what one must feel like through portrayals in the media. However, if I did ever wake up to find a tiger in my bathroom or a Mike Tyson- style tattoo on my face, knocking back a Revamp would be far from my mind. In fact, when I did drink it, it only induced what I believe to be hangover symptoms such as nausea and a sour taste in my mouth. It also has its very own website and Facebook page, including a questionnaire that calls you a “party pooper” if you don’t drink, and should get some bottles of Revamp to help you liven up. Thanks guys! There’s also quotes from Revamp drinkers, talking about how the drink helps them through the day after a heavy night of drinking. The quotes are broken down into age groups, with 20-25 being the youngest. This being Ireland, there are people a LOT younger than that who need to cope with hangovers.The site has a list of the drink’s ingredients, and what each can do. Inositol, for example, can help with depression, apparently. Gerry wrote in his blog a while ago, that those suffering depression would be best to open up to somebody they trust. Don’t bother guys- just drink a Revamp instead!

REST

I drank this while sitting at home one afternoon, watching television. Other than the afore mentioned nausea and sour taste, I got nothing from this. Perhaps it really works best as a hangover cure. People who don’t down ridiculous amounts of booze to begin with won’t get anything out of Revamp.

“Red Bull Energy Shot”

Red Bull! My favourite energy drink, and the world’s most popular way of struggling though another bleary-eyed day at the office. Surely you, in shot form, won’t let me down, right?

Red Bull Energy Shot makes the same claims as its big brother Red Bull. It promises improved concentration and increased vigilance. It contains the same ingredients as Red Bull, only it’s much more concentrated- it has the same amount of caffeine as a can, although it’s in a bottle a quarter of the size. Taste- wise, it doesn’t offer the same refreshing sense that a can does, and without the fizz the shot can feel quite dull. It has a thick, syrupy texture, and is not unpleasant to drink, but doesn’t offer an enjoyable experience either.

PLAY

Since the shot claims to “improve performance”, I thought I’d take a shot of it before performing onstage with the Absurders in Comedy HaHa in the Mercantile (and with my girlfriend away for two weeks I wouldn’t be doing any other kind of “performing” in the near future, ho ho). Given that the shot contains such a high percentage of caffeine I expected much more of a buzz out of it, but my system just didn’t register any kind of boost. I was a little disappointed – I had expected to be much perkier after the shot but no.

Overall, 5 Hour Energy is the shot of choice. It does the job despite its bitterness, but the taste is not as awful as Revamp.

……………………………………….

Once again, big thanks to Mark for his time and his liver damage. Remember to catch Mark and his fellow Absurders as they bring a rollercoaster of improv madness to the Belvedere Hotel every second Sunday!

The No Punchline Nativity

The age of an ass ago, there was this brave called Joseph doing a quare and steady line with a wee slip called Mary. She was a very religious sort, so she had never let Joseph come near her with Fagin and the two Magees until they’d gotten married.

"Put it away for five minutes, Joe"

So on they went and got married, but sure the next thing Mary comes out with, is the revelation that she was fixed. Says Joseph, houl on you one wee second, how is it that you’re fixed now, when I never buried the big fellah? Mary sat him down and explained that there was once when she was out the back of the house, an angel called Gabriel appeard to her. The angel said “Do not fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold! You shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. The Holy Spirit shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore also that Holy One which will be born of you shall be called Son of God”.

"Well doll. You're crigged"

So Joseph was a wee bit vexed about all this, but said nothing, even though he was wondering if it’d still be late to make a run to a chemist up North in the morning. So he went on about his business, even though his pals that he worked with as a carpenter gave him a wodious slagging over having a cuckoo in the nest, the cunts. They claimed that either the child was Josephs, and he’d been talking when he should have been pulling out, or that Mary had went out and got rid by all and sundry behind his back, and that finding the actual father of the child would be like getting your arm cut off by a chainsaw and finding which tooth cut you first. Joseph passed no remarks, and just worked hard so that when the child landed they’d be alright for a few bob.

"Fuck me, this plank is as crooked as a boars mickey"

So that was alright, and the months went on. But come towards the end of the year, there went round a letter saying all and everyone had to up sticks and go to their hometown to get registered for a census, which for Joseph was a pain in the high hole of his arse. He had to load up the donkey with a wife the size of a shopping trolley and go into town to get registered. But sure of course Joseph, bollox, left all too late and landed into town when all the hotels and inns were shut, and Mary wasted no time in jandering about it. So Joseph went to on inn, he says Hi boy, any chance of a room, for me and the woman? She’s in the family way and it’s late in the day. The doorman said no chance hi, go you the fuck on up the road. So Joseph says hi boy, don’t take yon fuckin tone with me, or you’ll be pickin your teeth out of your shite come the morning. So on went Joseph to the next inn. Mary had said she was soon to calf, and was as wicked as a cut cat. Up to the door, same crack again, Joseph was told NO by the bouncer in no uncertain terms.

"Fuck off, hi, or you'll be waking up with a crowd around you"

So up went Joseph to the third inn, and out came the innkeeper, a wee skinny lad about the size of what a crow might have shite in the famine. Joseph says c’mere hi, I’m in town for this cunt of a census, would you have anywhere for me and the woman? I’m going around like snuff at a wake, on top of which herself has a dose of the fattening pin and I reckon she hasn’t long left. So the inkeeper took a wee mercy on them, and says well look, it’s fuck all but sure it’s all I have, there’s a byre away on out the road, theres a few cows and asses and hens and fuck knows what else, and there’s a smell of shite that’s neither good nor middlin. But sure if you’re stuck, go on out to it. Good man, said Joseph, although he was thinking to himself, ya MANE BASTARD. But fuck it, there was no-where else and it was getting late, so he heeled Mary into the byre where after a lot of carrin and giving out, she gave birth to a wee boy.

"Joseph, would you ever shoo that bullock the fuck away from the child?"

So when all this was going on, there was this shower of hoors called the Magi away in the desert at an Oasis (not to be confused with THE Oasis, notorious Carrickmacross nightclub around the back of which many’s the girl got the high hard one). They had it in their heads that the son of God would be born and were looking for a sign that he was born, when hup! Look at that, says one, a big star in the sky. If that’s not a sign of our saviours birth, fuck knows what is. So gather yourselves,it’s time for cripples to creep. So they followed the… general direction of the star, bringing with them gifts of Gold, Frankencense and Mirrh.

"Let's make like a donkeys cock and hit the road"

Further to this, there was a hunkersliding pack of young lads who were supposed to be minding a flock of sheep against… dogs, I suppose, who were visited all of a sudden by the Angel Gabriel. Fuck hi, whistle or something next time, they said. Gabriel says don’t be so smart, mouthpiece. There’s a woman after giving birth to the son of God in a byre across a few fields, dart over and say hello. Go now, quick before you vex me.

"Oh sure, we'll just let the sheep be minded by THIS FUCKING DOG, will we?"

So the next thing Joseph knew was there landed a platoon of hoors at the front door; shepherds, wise men, the lot. He said alright lads, nice of youse to land and all, go on in and be quiet. The child is only off the tit a minute and he’s fallen asleep, so don’t wake him because me and his mother are fit to sleep on a harrow. So the lads filed in as quiet as they could, and seen the wee fellah sleeping in a feeder for sheep. Ah, said one of the shepherds.

"Isn't he a wee dote"

 

Mad World

Hey all, I’ll be posting links to stuff from various funny people, be it short films, interviews, or general merriment. Here’s the thing; it won’t always be fellow comedians, every now and then it’ll be just some funny stuff from some funny people. This week, it’s a little something from my good friend Maddi.

Enchante!

Maddi has just kicked off a new blog, which is linked below (and will be on the blogroll on the right from now on too). It’s called Mad World, and the first entry is brilliant. Here’s hoping to see a lot more in the future! So head on over, subscribe, bookmark, do what ya gotta do…

Mad World

Seven Nights of Comedy

When I first started in comedy, I started slow. In my first year, I might have done twenty gigs or so, all spread out. A gig every two weeks. Two gigs this week then nothing till next month. Four weeks waiting round doing nothing. It wasn’t till last year that I started gigging with any regularity, when I decided that fuck it, who needs a savings account, and proceeded to wear a groove in the road from Carricmacross to Dublin. I’d see the higher-ups gigging left right and center, and thought that was a thing to aspire to to gig every night of the week. I personally had never done a full week of comedy up until a few weeks ago; I was booked from Wednesday to Sunday, then I got a phone call to gig on Monday. With only Tuesday being the missing link, I e-mailed for and subsequently received a quick  slot in the Mish Mash on Tuesday, and my first full week of comedy was waiting for me. All I had to do now, was do them…

 

Monday

Ok, let’s get this show on the road; literally, as Monday gig saw me head down to Waterford city immediately after work, to be the MC/ support act for Steve Cummins in a bar called Revolution. MC/ support is something I’ve only done a few times, and it’s a tough one, as there’s no warm-up at all; no MC to bring yo on, no energy built up in the room. As with any MC gig, you gotta spend the first few minutes being a Schoolteacher telling people to turn off their phones and shut the fuck up, and where the fire exits are and all that, then have the craic with them a wee bit… but whereas in a normal MC gig you would then fuck off and let a comic come up and do his thing, MC/ support has to then start with the funny.

"... please see to your own masks before attending to children. Exits are here, here, and here. Ok. with that out of the way, what's the DEAL with the government? Are those guys clowns, or WHAT?"

So this time, I just kinda played with the crowd for a few minutes then launched into my set, thinking fuck it, if there’s a fire these Waterford locals probably know the way out of this building better than I could ever tell them. I do my stuff and it all goes over ok, then there’s a break and I get back onstage to bring Steve on before I head for home in order to be any addition at work the next day.  As gigs go, it was pretty sweet, a nice crowd, a few quid, and a good way to start the week…. Or so I though.

Tuesday

I wake up for work at six the next morning filled with reasons as to why it’s NOT a good idea to start your week with a gig on the opposite end of the country to your workplace. I was WRECKED, but SOMEHOW manage to haul the car to Ardee and haul myself through the day.

Pictured; "SOMEHOW"

I get home at half six and pan out for an hour, before schlepping my drowsy arse over to the Mish Mash to go on first. Now, if anyone reading this is thinking hmm, exhaustion and comedy, that don’t sound like a good combination… Well, you’d be right. I gussy myself up as much as I can, but the cold hard fact is that I hit the Mish Mash stage at half speed. Now my plan for tis gig was to try new material, work on some new stuff. The audience in the Mish Mash are usually up for a good time, so it’s a good place for testing. However, the set I did went more like this;

New material (no laughs), new material (still no laughter), what was probably intended to be new material but was just a wandering statement as I searched my frazzled brain for what exactly it was I was supposed to say here (bewilderment), abort! abort! switch to tried and tested material to salvage the set! (confusion at what the hell is going on, and why it is that what the guy onstage is saying bears no relation to what he was saying a second ago), clinging to the sweet bosom of my old tested material, only this time delivered in a half-hearted, autocued way (mild laughter at the basis of the material, but no real connection to the performance), old material knocked into “high energy” (read; shouting) delivery, in order to build some atmosphere and try and salvage something of the night (mild laughter, some smiling, some phone-checking), BIG FINISH! Thank you! Goodnight! (applause that is les to do with the quality of the set, more to do with the relief that the set is over). I leave the stage followed ny the eerie penance stare of a German girl who was sitting front row center on her own the whole night, whose expression hadn’t change throughout the set from that of someone who was trying their best to make my head explode like in Scanners.

What's.... ngggghhh..... the DEAL..... grrr... with... car insurance?

That’s how it is for me when trying new material; if it doesn’t go well, I turn to the case on the wall with all my regular jokes marked Break-Glass-In-Case-Of Dying-On-Your-Hole. If I’m going to die on my hole, at least get the new material all in. You’re not going to salvage anything halfway through by completely changing subject. Do the new stuff, or don’t. And try and wake the fuck up a bit before tomorrows gig?

Wednesday

Well, at least I had today off work, thank Christ, so I could get a wee bit of a lie-in and freshen up a bit. Already I’m starting to doubt whether it’s possible to hold down a full time job and gig every single night of the week, without letting the quality slip. It’s ok when the gigs are here in Dublin, but when you start travelling round the country on top of that, something has to give. With my day off, I get a feel of what it would be like to quit the day job and gig at nights… it’s actually very nice. No mad rush to get up in the mornings (unless you’re married with kids, in which case you would have to get up quite early indeed, and spend a long time looking after the kids and the house, as I’m sure is the deal struck between comedians with families and their wives)… have the afternoon to yourself, just watch a bit of telly (unless you’ve got a midday gig somewhere, or an interview or a writing assignment, which as a working comedian I’m sure you have, to help bolster the income and keep a high profile for yourself)… in the evening, chill out with the missus, have a nice dinner (unless the gig you have that night is the far side of the country, which it more than likely is, in which case you’ll be heading off early to drive cross country, or get the train, grabbing a roll out of Spar on the way), then rounding off the night with lovely half hour set which makes it all worthwhile (or dying on the red of your arse in front of a stand-offish shower of pricks).

Ahhhh..... that's Bass.

Midweek, I’m thinking that as it stands I’m not doing all that bad; I have a full time job that pays the bills, and enough comedy on the side to feel like I’m not just another face in a crowd. people often ask would I ever quit the day job to do comedy; My take on it is that you don’t QUIT your day job, you CHANGE your day job (or indeed a night shift, to be exact). It’s a job that you may love a hell of a lot more, but it’s ajob nonetheless. Still, it can be great fun, as Wednesday night proved for me as I did the opening fifteen in Anseo. It was the kind of gig I needed after a death; a good crowd who weren’t just pushovers, who I had to stay on to keep them laughing. Just the right balance of we’re-up-for-a-laugh and listen-pal-we’re-not-just-going-to-laugh-at-any-old-shite. It was just what I needed to build up my confidence going into one of my busiest ever weekends…

Thursday

Thursday morning and I’m back at at work, propelled by enough caffeine to kill a horse. I’ve perfected the technique of yawning without opening my mouth; the only trace of a yawn is a fluttering of one eyelid, which makes me look like I’m having a mild stroke. I’m all set for tonight’s two gigs; the opening fifteen in the Laughter Lounge, followed afterwards by the headline slot in ComedyDublin. As a bit of a jape, I post on Facebook; “Gerry McBride is gigging tonight in The Laughter Lounge, but not only that, I’m headlining!!” followed by a line in the commments section saying “… in ComedyDublin directly after”. LOL, indeed, except not any people read the bit in the comments, so now when they learn that I wasn’t headlining the lounge  it looks like I’m just totally lying out of my arse and making shit up. This whole episode is the second time I’ve done this cry-wolf joke on Facebook, after a status a few weeks ago which announced that I would be supporting Dead Cat Bounce in Vicar Street (the joke being that I was supporting them from the crowd, as a customer).

"You go, guys!"

So for about a week later I kept getting asked how the headline gig in The Lounge went, and I had to stand there like a guy telling his new neighbours how  he was obligated to tell them that he’s on the sex-offenders register. As for Thursdays gigs, the opening spot in the Longe went very well for me, and the ComedyDublin gig got called off cos no-one showed up.

Friday

Friday night was just as busy in The Laughter Lounge as it was on Thursday (and would be on Saturday), and I went up first and had an absolute peach… although if I couldn’t have a good gig in front of three hundred plus people who had paid to laugh, then i would have to take a serious, serious look at what the fuck at what I was doing. I went to these gigs in the Lounge wanting to keep the sets as tight as a drum; this is no place to fuck around. The customers here didn’t show up to see a comedian practice, or to see some new experimental style of humour, or to see a guy indulge himself. They just want a good ol’ time, so my plan for my fifteen minutes was;

1) Quick start, straight into a little bit of audience interaction to break the ice and get everyone one the same page

2) A short introduction as to where I’m from, and a few of my best, leanest jokes based thereupon

3) Straight into a well rehearsed bit, with jokes delivered at as high a rate as possible

4) A short bridging link where I reassure the audience that they’re brilliant before leading in to my closing routine

5) A final, well rehearsed bit, where the jokes come thicker and faster than before. Build up to  closing line and get the fuck off the stage before they quit laughing.


And boom, I’m gone.  Repeat for three nights, without changing so much as a facial expression. If they like it, don’t change it. Everyone has a good time. Whether you think that the set you do on a gig like this is the pinnacle of your comedy or the most lowest common denominator, crowd-pleasing set you can muster, doesn’t matter a shite; if you’re asked to do a job, do a job. If the job does not suit you, or you feel that it compromises your artistic beliefs, well, don’t take it.

"Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to entertain a crowd for fifteen minutes. If this seems lowly to you, please become a fucking poet or something"

Me, I friggin love gigs in the Laughter Lounge. They don’t come along often, whereas opportunities for me to die on my hole trying new material in front of twenty people are EVERYWHERE.

Saturday

Just my luck (or shit management skills) to book so many gigs on a week where I’m working on Saturday, but fuck it, only one more day left. I soar through the day fueled by Arabica goodness (although my rock-n-roll week has left me with what appears to be an odd facial tick that two weeks later, has still not fucked off). At night, I head down and have another great night in the Lounge; three for three, my work here is done. With no work in the morning, I have a pint or two and relax to watch the other acts as they put my own well-recieved performance into a cocked hat. I head home, where I’m greeted by a young Dubliner drinking cans outside my flat. He assures me that he’s just waiting for his mate, and I have a wee chat with the rapscallion, zing him with a few one liners and a bit of guff, and then head in to the flat confident that I’m the closest thing that Dublin has to Mick Dundee, and soon I will be on a first name basis with the majority of the fine cityfolk.

Of course, when I wake up the next day, I find that the little shit has broken into my car.

He’s done this because I, country thick that I am, have left a bag lying on the backseat-

The bag you see here, with alll my Tayto shit in it.

The kid had broken the wee fly-window in the back and put his arm in to open the door, and turned out the contents of the bag to see what was worth robbing, before tipping out everything in the glovebox and such like, finding nothing but petrol receipts and a Padre Pio medal. Nothing got stolen, but it was a pain in the arse having to fix the window (twenty euro out of a local scrapyard instead of 100 euro from Autoglass; I’m thick but I ain’t fuckin stoopid). All in all, I feel it was worth it, if for nothing other than imagining the face on the little Scobie cunt when he went through the bags contents finding not cash (as I’m sure he’d hoped), but out-of-date crisp packets tied together with string, and a picture of a strange northern version of Mr. Tayto.

Sunday

Jesus, you wait ages for a comedy festival and then two come at once… Both the Galway Comedy festival and the Halloween Howls were on this weekend, and I was booked in for a midday show in Portlaois. At four o’clock, this would be the earliest in the day that I’ve ever gigged. the car window kinda had my mind elsewhere, but I still managed to do an as-good-as-I-could gig to the small but lovely crowd that had turned up. With the weeks drawing to a close, I had to head immediately afterwards to go do some other non-comedy related jobs before heading down to MC the International at nine. This was the fullest the Inter had been on any of the times I’d MCed it (we’re talking people sitting on the stage full), and the line-up was top notch, so all I had to do was go out and have some fun with the crowd before bringing on the acts; and that was just what I did. No trying new material, no sticking regimentally to a fixed set, no pressure. Just have some fun with the crowd, keep their enthusiasm high, and bring the acts on as best I could.

And that was that; eight gigs in seven days, a week where quantity most defiantly won over quality. All I can say is thank fuck the next day was a bank holiday, because I would NOT have been able to do a tap. I slept like a corpse and only woke up to eat some breakfast then pan out again. With the busiest week of my short career so far over me, I stayed in and watched garbage on TV all night, and while it was nice to curl up on the sofa and relax, I got to admit…. round about half nine, I did start to get the gig withdrawals, and wondered if I headed into town would I be able to swing seven in the Woolshed…?

It’s Part 1 of the Mark Hanratty Energy Drink Review Blog!

Criss-crossing the country going to and from comedy clubs may seem like fun folks, but get this; sometimes, it can make you really, really sleepies. This is alright when driving on motorways, as there are little rumble strips painted onto the line marking at the side of the road so you can have forty winks while driving and the rrr-rrr-rrrr sound of the car leaving the road will wake you up in plenty of time to steer back into the centre of the road (citation needed). But when driving smaller roads and through cities, you need your full concentration… failing that, a stomach full of stimulants will see you right.

Now my weapon of choice is coffee; lots of it, straight from plantation to Topaz to my belly. In general, I don’t trust dairy produce so I drink my coffee black, with no sugar, because there’s no sense in trying to enjoy things too much. A lot of places now sell Fairtrade coffee, to help give developing countries a leg-up, but frankly as long as it keeps my awake on the road to Cork, I don’t give a fuck if my coffee is made with boiled tears and has childrens fingernails in it.

Hurry the fuck up slacker, I'm trying to double up in City Limits.

But for those that don’t like coffee, what are the options? Energy drinks, of course! These serve two purposes; keeping you awake on the journey to gigs, and mixing with the natural adreneline of performing to make you really hyper on stage, so people think to themselves either A) He’s got great energy and stage presence or B) He’s coked out of his gourd. But with so many energy drinks on the market, how can the average comedian steer through this heart-rotting pisstasting minefield? Why, by reading the Mark Hanratty Energy Review Blog!

"Man, that's tart"

Champion Absurder and energy drink connoisseur Mark will be guiding us through the maze of taurine laced beverages, to help you all release your inner babbling mess and cure once and for all of that pesky need to sleep. Over to you, buddy!

Red Bull

Red Bull. Surely the king of energy drinks (or, if you disagree with the monarchy, the Taoiseach of energy drinks). It tastes good, smells good, keeps you awake when you need it, and is available everywhere. Truly, it is the staple diet of all frazzled students, and night workers, everywhere.

Red Bull is probably the best of all the energy drinks. It’s got a crisp, tart tang off it, with a strong, sweet aftertaste. There’s been many a time, when I’ve been out on the town, knocking back a few Bulls (cool kids just call them Bulls), and woken up the next morning, still with a Bull aftertaste in my mouth, and a keen sense of alertness. That’s value for money! When you’re tired, the ol’ Bull can really help you get through a day of work. It keeps you alert- you can almost feel the extra energy it gives you, coursing through your body. You do hear the occasional story about people dying because of the drink, but; who cares? Red Bull’s sweetness is one of its strongest points. It’s easy to drink. The sweetness is not sickly- it’s got a pleasant taste, but still has an element of sharpness to it. In fact, it’s fair to say it has a Calpol-like quality about it. For this reason, it’s very easy to drink several cans in a row without any effort. Red Bull became popular in the late 1990s (in this part of the world anyway), bringing the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” to prominence. Unfortunately, the success of Red Bull has led to a slew of imitation drinks. Often in a bar, when you ask for a Red Bull, you will be given one of these imitations. Do not accept them. If the barman counters with “Sure, it’s the same thing”, politely explain to him that it’s not. You wouldn’t pay for Cristal and be content with a bottle of Tesco champagne, would you?

If only Linda McCartney hadn’t died, and was still performing with Paul. A Red Bull- sponsoredtour would have been a marketing no-brainer, with the slogan “Red Bull gives you Wings”.

“HeyPaulyouknowwhatwouldbegreat, itwouldbegreatiftherewerelike, fuckinsausagesmadeoflike, notmeat, likefuckinplantsandshit, forvegetarians, Paul, wouldn’tthatbegreatPaul, Paul, Paul, areyoulisteningtomePaul, fucksakesman, woahIneedtositdown”

Red Bull is primarily sold in a 250ml can, although it is also available in a 355ml can also (these are less common). The 250ml can is something of a standard among energy drink; most adhere to it. Pubs sell bottled Red Bull, and supermarkets and off-licences have four-packs available. A sugar-free version is also on sale. General retail price is about €1.70 in a supermarket, but pubs and clubs can often ask you to fork out between €4 and €5 for it!

Boost

Boost is one of the knock-offs of Red Bull available. Dunnes Stores sell it. It’s a fair bit cheaper than Red Bull- 99c (the can’s artwork prominently displays this). Interestingly enough, it contains the exact same amount of caffeine (0.03%) and taurine (0.04%) as Red Bull itself. Talk about lack of originality!

It describes itself as a “carbonated mixed fruit flavour drink with taurine and caffeine”. It’s not clear what fruit it’s supposed to taste like, though; the can’s ingredients give no clue, and there’s no discernable fruit it tastes like. Unless you count Red Bull as a fruit. Upon first sip, it does taste remarkably like Red Bull. So much so, that if you gave Stevie Wonder a can of each, he’d be hard pressed to tell you which was which.

"What the hell you just give me?"

Unlike Shark, an energy drink which is similar to Red Bull but has more of a syrupy, diluted taste about it, Boost seems to be attempting to synthesise the taste of the Bull spot-on. However, whereas Red Bull can be pleasant to drink for several cans, Boost’s biggest fault is its’ consistancy. It gives you a sickly sweet aftertaste, as the sharpness that makes Red Bull so drinkable is absent. Getting through an entire can is nauseating; it can make you feel queasy to drink too much of it. It does the same job as an RB, with the same amount of taurine and caffeine in it. Your nervous system may not know the difference, but your taste buds will.

Boost is available in a 250ml can, as well as 500ml and 1 litre bottles. The advantage to this is that Boost is re-sealable, wheras Red Bull is not. The bottles are made of non-transparent plastic, giving no clue as to the colour of the contents. I would not be surprised if this was a conscious decision on Boost’s part, to aid teenagers mixing vodka with energy drinks. It does lend itself very well to knacker-drinking, as it’s simple to pour a little vodka into your bottle, and pass it around. It also has a fantastic website- http://www.boostdrinks.com.

Monster

A completely different beast altogether is Monster Energy. First off, it comes in a big fuck-off 500ml can- the same size as a can of Dutch Gold. It comes in several varieties, of which I chose “Ripper”. An odd title for the drink- it gives no hint as to what the drink may actually taste like. It’s got perhaps something of a sense of grandeur about it- the side of the can claims that “the magical smells in the air driving to the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro Surf competition on the North Shore of Oaku was our inspiration for new Monster Ripper”. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t stop the drink tasting like piss.
Monster Ripper differs from many of the energy drinks, in that it is not attempting to emulate Red Bull at all. It has a very fruity taste off it- a mixture of apple, passion fruit, pineapple and guava(?). The can also pimps out the fact that the drink has ginseng and taurine.

Monster Ripper differs from Boost in the fact that while Boost is pleasant for the first few gulps, Monster Ripper is disgusting straight from the get-go. Upon first sip, my eyes wanted to pop out of my head, Tex Avery-style.

"FUUUUUCKKK, that's sweet"

It has an incredible taste of cheap Poundshop bubble gum off it. It’s bitter, and leaves a lingering taste after that you’ll be spitting out of your mouth for a long time. How anybody manages to skull 500ml of this stuff is beyond me. Faced with the choice of falling asleep during work or drinking a can of this stuff to stay awake, I’ll take a nap on the job any day.

Monster Ripper is clearly targeting a male audience. Check their website, http://www.monsterenergy.com, that has sections dedicated to babes and fast cars…

After all those energy drinks, I am going to find it hard to sleep tonight. What will also keep me awake, is the thought of the dentist bills I have no doubt incurred thanks to the high sugar content of all the drinks…

……………………….

Woah, hold on there Mark, we’ve a hell of a lot more energy drinks to review, and a lot more travelling comedians with heart tissue that needs corroding. We’ll be putting Marks insulin levels to the test again later in the year, until then you can catch him performing with improv group The Absurders or as a great stand-up act on his own, in clubs across the country.