Undaily News Poem; 26th August

Bin Maiden

Rubbished on YouTube,

condemned on Twitter,

Mary Bale’s been berated

for making kitty litter

Edinburgh notes;

Not keen on judging things, but was asked to judge Utter’s Got Talent and enjoyed beat poetry from Young Dawkins, a couple of Chemical Poets, a DNA poet, a Dead poet and many other good wordsters. I still haven’t gone and done a circuit of the Gilded Balloon bar in appropriate networking stylee. I am rubbish.

Alfie did flyer Becky from Corrie today though. He said she said she heard me on radio 4. This is the most impressive news of the day. She’s a rare cast member who can act at the moment.

Today’s audience filled the front row. And that was it. Second lowest audience since the horrible Thursday at the start of the run. But this was lovely. I asked everyone’s names and we all chatted a bit and the show still had some big laughs and sad bits in it. Not sure if there’ll be any audience for the rest of the three shows now though. Seems quiet around here. Nice Telegraph review and Arthur Smith show don’t seem to have thrown more folks in. Only a flyering team would do that. Oh, impossible luxury.

Very looking forward to going home, to sea, to rest, to something like normality. Also looking forward to seeing Sarah Millican’s show tomorrow night. Would also have liked to see her fellow Fosters Comedy Award nominee Josie Long, but I’ve seen less here than I would in the five days I’ve come up for in the past. Doing it’s different to seeing it I suppose.

I’m still a bundle of what ifs and buts about the show. Theatre section v comedy section, simpler show, more complex show. Still. Did what I did. Sarah M’s response to this was that her Mum says if she had a cock she’d be her Dad. Quite.

Fringe Fatigue-Haiku

Fringe Fatigue Haiku

By show twenty two,

not  even got the strength to

finish my fringe Hai…

The show went a bit awry for a couple of days at the weekend. An experiment in asking the audience for their news and making a news poem on the spot is something that might work if set up better, but at the moment formed a bit of a distraction to the flow of the show.

It’s good to try things out. Maybe less so when an audience is paying eight or nine quid to see you do it. At the weekend I seemed to lose a bit of connection with the audience, but by yesterday it was back.

I went to a talk about other Fringe Festivals around the world. Adelaide sounds lovely.  Also Prague, where I’ve performed with the Poetry Vandals in 2004/5 and where it struck me would be a great place to bed in a new show next year. The autism one. Which I know I’ll struggle over whether to put in comedy or theatre. I suppose, as long as I aim to be clear it’s not stand up comedy, and may contain some unfunny poems (How about a warning sticker “May Contain Unfunny Poems” will that be subtle enough?) Audiences have seemed okay, in fact, often warm, to what I’m doing. I suppose they already have an idea of what they might be in for. Stand up comedy reviewers less so.

In the flat, there’s been a toilet paper shortage, chocolate surplus and mourning for the end of Celebrity Masterchef.

I recommend the antipasti thing they do at the Book Festival cafe, and continuing to see the new raft of spoken word shows at the Banshee Labyrinth. I’d love to see Tim Crouch’s The Author, Daniel Kitson’s Traverse Show and Northern Stage’s Apples, but probably won’t. See them for me if you get chance.

August 20th; Fringe Pimp

Fringe Pimp

My husband sells me on the street
he is the perfect spouse,
when he’s not pimping me to strangers,
he’s papering the house.
He takes care of washing, cooking
and sorting out the bills
and spends the month letting others benefit
from my oral skills.

Fringe notes;

Audiences increasing generally. Apparently some came in because I was in the Telegraph yesterday. Possibly why more sympathy to Margaret Thatcher than usual. But nonetheless a very warm, lovely audience.

Still recovering from the mad run from recording Arthur Smith’s radio show at the Pleasance Courtyard, to my show, which went up a bit late yesterday. Giving the audience ear plugs for loud music and Emo Phillips deciding he wanted to be recorded in a particular  venue, plus more audience than anticipated all contributed to an agonising tick down of the clock. My most helpful husband kept the audience entertained though and I used one of his devices in my show today; asking the audience about their own personal news.

Also today, after another nice spoken word gig at Utter at the Banshee Labyrinth, I added in some of my little iPhone ukulele pieces that I really enjoy doing and audiences seem to like. Plus, an old stalwart poem Small Girlfriends, which I suspected might find a place in the show one day. And for now, I’ve cut the long news poem that finished the show previously; it feels too good not to use, but at the same time, seems to distance me from the audience at a time when I could still be chatting nicely to them. Quite a big change for the show, but it worked so well I feel I’m onto something.

Was nice to have comedians laughter in the audience today. Sarah Millican and Gary Delaney are exceedingly funny humans, but also generous with their laughter.  Then me and Sarah went and had Oreo milkshakes and I felt reassured that me and Alfie aren’t the only fringe couple who feel that naps and cups of tea and nice telly are a good way to get through the busyness and madness of the festival.

August 17th; Daily News Poem

Inside a heckler’s head

I just want to join in,

be in a double act,

I’ll be the Morecambe to your Wise,

just let me interact.

I’ll shout out the end of your joke,

tell you what I had for tea,

it shouldn’t just be about you,

it could also be about me.

I’ll be your unpaid gag writer,

you don’t need to ask me twice.

“Get off”, “Get your tits out”, “Get on with it”,

I’m just offering some advice.

I don’t even need a microphone

I’m loud enough to shout,

I know you were enjoying my contribution

until those bouncers threw me out…

Edinburgh notes;

I still regret putting stand up comedian on the flyer as another reviewer reviewed it as stand up and not poetry.

Nicholas Parsons is a legend. 87 and still going strong. He is a stand up comedian partly too. Loved doing his chat show. He also gave me two packets of Smarties.

Am then meeting another legend on Thursday; Arthur Smith. Doing a poem on his show which is recorded at 12 at the Pleasance Courtyard. My show starts at 12.15 at the Gilded Balloon. I’m in training already for the mad dash.

I’ve had a lovely picnic and a lovely curry with friends who came to see the show and were unfailingly supportive and flyer-ready. Two of this week’s flyerers have been a Lib Dem candidate and a PR man for the Audit Commission. Quietly spoken public sector chaps are very effective flyerers it turns out.

Portrait of the autist

I have a line in one of the poems from my show about how I score high on the Autistic Spectrum, which I’m aware sounds like an eighties computer that refuses to network with other computers.  Doing an Edinburgh show can be pretty challenging for those who are of a Geekier persuasion. Reviews unfailingly mention my warmth and friendliness on stage but the bits of my brain that mean I can rhyme quickly and make poetic connections when doing topical news poems for Radio 4 (and Fest Magazine) seem to short circuit in some social areas. I am terrible at recognising faces. (A condition called Prosopagnosia, fact fans). This turns out to be not very useful for flyering. A couple can wander round a corner after I’ve flyered them, then come back towards me and I’ll immediately try flyer them again. I recognise most people by their hair or clothes or walks.  People in uniforms are not good. I’ve found this in schools, and also a bit with Gilded Balloon staff in identical T shirts. I tend to greet everybody as if they’re my long lost sibling- in case they are. Today I thought a man in my audience looked like Nicholas Parsons- this turned out to be because he was Nicholas Parsons.

I like socialising to a degree, but then also need alot of quiet so have become adept at finding Edinburgh’s gentler places. An afternoon trip to the pathology museum off Nicolson Road was very relaxing today- there was a large willy pickled in a jar and an exhibition on the patron saint of Aspergic people- Sherlock Holmes. I drink lots of quiet teas and have been recharging my batteries by watching Masterchef.  Still, I’m gathering data for my next Edinburgh show, which this year’s experience has confirmed should be called; “A Portrait of the Autist As a Young Woman”

Daily News Poem 7; Festival Virgin

This was commissioned by BBC Scotland and I performed it there today;

I was a festival Virgin,

I arrived all fresh faced,

my ego was intact,

my underwear was new,

when I made my Fringe debut

now I’m putting my details in phone boxes,

giving them out to men on street corners,

I’m a street walker,

hoping to attract more than one stalker,

I will jiggle for cash,

If they asked me to do it upside down

I’d have a bash.

I’ll offer to do two for one,

promise everyone who comes

will have fun,

I’ll show them a good time,

with these wares of mine,

hoping the punters

will enjoy my oral skill,

then tell their friends

what’s on my bill

it’s exciting, it’s tiring,

it’s sort of a worry,

I’ve well and truly

popped my Fringe cherry

Daily News Poem 6


Margaret Thatcher

The Milk Snatcher

was easier to say;

Nick the Milk Nicker,

Cam, Cam,

the infant liquid liquidating man,

don’t roll off the tongue,

as well as the dairy stuff

they’d wanted to suck up from the young.

But David couldn’t let them take it away,

the man in a black suit had to show

he knows

the babies love their milk tray.

Day six

Am happy to have a nice review from Three Weeks (see below).

Am happy that my Flexee leggings, as seen on Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked gave my dress a better line and were comfortable.

Am happy that two women who said they came to Edinburgh to see strong female performers, then saw lots of blokes and got a bit disillusioned, said I’d made their festival.

Am happy that the cafe at the bottom of the street does good bacon butties.

Am happy that I’m now playing about with the show a bit more and felt like I took today’s big laughy audience on a bit of a rollercoaster of feelings.

Am happy that I did a set at Utter at the Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street last night and the venue seems to be thriving as a hub of free spoken word.  Was lovely to see Tim Wells and Richard Tyrone Jones and Steve Larkin again after gaps of a few years, and to meet poets like Mab Jones and Cat Brogan who I’ve only previously met on Facebook.

Am glad that my earplugs worked last night and I slept better. Silicon ears are the way forward. Though they’ve not yet been tested by the Tattoo which recommences tonight.


Kate Fox News

Kate Fox

News just in… Kate Fox is very good at what she does. A poet and stand-up comedian, Fox has blended the two trades and come up with a humorous and engaging retelling of her life. Raised by swingers during the Thatcher era, she witnessed the burning of the ‘Satanic Verses’ as she eloped with a gunrunner and worked at a radio station which accidentally played ‘What took you so long’ when the Queen Mum died. There were some laugh out loud moments but I spent the majority of the show simply marvelling at her quirky command of the English language and enthralled by her tales. Whether you’re a poetry lover or not, Fox is a wonderful storyteller and this is a gem of a show.

Comedy cliches.

I have a lisp and have long thought that it was unfair it had an “s” in it. This is a comedy cliche.

I once said “master of the Hottesmore Cunt” on Rutland Radio when I meant to say “the master of the Cottesmore Hunt”. Nicky Campbell has done this with a different hunt. It is also a comedy cliche.

The pun “womb with a view” has probably been made several times before. I use this pun I thought of to get into a piece of stand up about not wanting to have children.

I sometimes use what I know to be comedy cliche, when it’s true or useful. I’m, as a stand up poet, often in front of audiences not attuned to comedy cliche. Just wanting to laugh. Also, as a sometimes serious poet, leavening a set with funny lines I have to hand is a useful way of framing or entering poems. Poems often being a bit less obviously audience friendly than stand up comedy.

On my Edinburgh flyers I describe myself as a “Comic poet” and “Stand up comedian”. Not only have I done sets purely as both, but using it here is really shorthand for “My show is friendly, just because it says poet, don’t be scared. There might be similes but it’ll all be okay and I won’t be putting my head in an oven like Sylvia Plath”. The show I’m doing here falls more into the live literature bracket. There are some serious poetic bits. I need comedy to lighten them. I’m still working out how to add in some of the quirkier comedy bits that are my stock in trade when I do funny poem sets.

My excellent PR Claire Walker represents comedy acts. I very much wanted her to represent me, because I know there’s a wider audience for the funny topical poems I do on Radio 4, and because poets who can turn a genuinely funny line or sustain being friendly and humorous for an entire set are rare.  I wanted to get more gigs and opportunities in the, for want of a better comparison, younger-Pam Ayres vein.

At the same time I write lots of sorts of poems. I have stories to tell. I want to experiment with ways of bringing well crafted wordage to people who generally might not like poetry.

My show Kate Fox News tries to do both things.  There is now an opportunity during the Edinburgh Fringe as I’m finding and beginning to have faith in the fact that audiences can warm to the combination. I don’t need the odd cosy cliche, easy laugh comedy line to do it, but heck, sometimes it helps. I’m  experimenting with how different registers of language can be used to tell a story, how comedy can gateway poetry of more than one kind. It’s up to me to see that- and to keep the faith that it’s worth doing…