Janey's Blogs - March 2011
Saturday the 5th of March 2011
Festivals and me
I had a weird moment at the Town Hall in Adelaide this week. They had a photographic exhibition up and one of the main images was a huge colourful picture of Edinburgh during the festival in August. I realised how much people here in Australia love to go and are eager to talk to me about it. I am pretty over the festival in Edinburgh and don't praise it much now. Performers and people alike gasp at my nonchalant attitude to the biggest arts festival in the world.
I recently did a Skype interview with a Scottish journalist and basically slated the Edinburgh Fringe festival as I have become jaded by the big companies that manage to make so much cash from wee people who put up their hard earned money to make their hopes and dreams come true. I am not taking back any of my well-documented comments and everyone else thinks much the same anyway. My point is I hate that I no longer want to go, I hate that I no longer dream of the excitement of that first night. I recall my first Edinburgh show with the intensity of my first adult kiss.
I can tell you the smells. I can describe the feeling seeing my face on a poster on the wall outside the old Gilded Balloon on the Cowgate in 1998. I knew I was the bottom of the artistic food chain, but my heart still pounded as I held out that first flyer and turned an eager face to a passerby. I was doing a three-hander with two blokes who didn't really care much about the show. I was as enthusiastic as hell and flyered every day and begged people to come in night after night. Not many people came, yet my dreams soared higher.
I watched the big names get all the press. I never even got a review and after three more years I still never got a review. The press ignored me until 2004 then I got about 20 reviews in one week!
I recall going to the Underbelly venue in 2002 down in the Cowgate and looking at the crumbling old ancient bricks pass off as a comedy room. The two guys running it, Charlie and Ed, were posh English guys making the best of a bad job and I was part of the team. They encouraged me, they backed me up and they took all our suggestions to fix the mistakes in the building. We all did a great job that year and I fell in love with Edinburgh and did a one woman show for a ten day run. I loved the Underbelly and came back the next year with a hand-written play and new comedy show. I got a book deal and a near comedy nomination and I felt so creative and full of comedy love. Edinburgh smiled at me, the castle winked and the lights on the street illuminated as I walked and I spread my magic through the night time alleys with my smile alone.
Somewhere along the years from then to now, I lost the passion and patience for Edinburgh. I stopped looking up at the castle in the sunset, I stopped sitting on the cobblestones and watching the buskers, I gave up running my palm along the smooth bricks that have stood there for over 400 years and feeling the pulse of the building through stone. I stopped.
It all became tough work. Edinburgh is a hard secret lover; it makes you feel excited, dirty and like no other entity can stir in you but the price is high. It loves other people more than you, it is nicer to others and can ignore you - it can make you hate it and, despite being addicted, you have to extricate yourself from its grip and stop going back time and time again to see if it has any love left for you. It doesn't. I am not going back. I am too old, my gown no longer shines, my hair no longer glints in the Edinburgh sun and the city turned its back and felt ashamed of my neediness. I will miss you, Edinburgh. We had good times, we laughed together, we raised my daughter together, we watched her grow. Thank you. Now go shine for others.
Sunday the 20th of March 2011
Spending time being me
I know my blog is way too late but you know what? I was living my life.
I am home from Adelaide with so much happiness in my heart. The journey was so worthwhile because when I planned to go I was worried that it would work out. My venue was the town hall which, to be honest, wasn't perfect as a venue; it was too stuffy, too quiet and most nights they shut the bar. That isn't good is it? The other shows in the venue struggled to get an audience so therefore I didn't have people to 'feed off' as I expected audiences would have wandered about the place.
Turns out my room was basically the only show selling tickets over the run and that was down to Ashley doing her thing. She flyered and even street performed with me at the local fringe caravan which was a public performance space to help get the public aware of the fringe. Yet it turns out we made decent cash and got great reviews and made great pals.
Now Adelaide Fringe is nothing like Edinburgh Fringe: they don't quite understand flyering, they don't get why you would hand them a flyer advertising your show. The public still aren't in step with the fringe and it doesn't attract as many people to the city to enjoy its festival. So we have to work with what we have on the ground and most people think that The Garden of Unearthly Delights is the only place to be and I actually hated it there. It was overblown, too many people dressed as Victorian organ grinders and too many bugs and too much noise!
Anyway, I managed to bag a comedy nomination. I got 'People's Choice' but never won it; still, to be nominated my first year was awesome.
The best bit is actually getting to do a job you love and I felt Adelaide wasn't really female friendly. Now don't get me wrong - I am not saying they are all sexist white males being rude... but a lot of them were! The females who have made it there took a long time to get to the top and it shows that most Australian comedy promoters are women but they don't really bring women to the festival and always worry that women don't sell as good as men! 'Bring over' is a term where a promoter pays for you to come over they finance the flight/hotel etc and offer you a solid wage with an incentive bonus if you sell out the show.
I thought it was all behind us but, no, that attitude thrives well in Australia especially Adelaide.
A woman has never brought me over but a man in New Zealand did! Scott Blanks from Auckland and I made good cash over the years because he believed in a woman!
I adored Adelaide and yet there were things which made me uncomfortable: the fact I never saw a rainbow flag or an obvious gay bar unsettled me and there were no brown faces in my audiences. There were no ethnic comics to be seen and that was surprising - maybe I never looked hard enough but, if you have to look hard enough, then... that's the point!
I will go back, though; I will go back and enjoy it again. I loved the Rhino Rooms which does comedy all year in Adelaide and the welcome from the local comics was just lovely and made me feel like I was with family.
Getting home is always good though.
I missed everyone so much and being away for a month is a long time, I always worry about my dad. Seems he was fine and dandy and husband looks after him good.
My mates had a laugh and said, "You go Pan/Asian and there are two earthquakes, a plague of locusts, a tsunami and nuclear fallout," so I suppose I am the horsewoman of the Apocalypse.
Anyway, it's good to be home.
Tuesday the 22nd of March 2011
Children get older and so do parents
Being away so often makes you forget your actual role in the family and the world which you inhabit. When I was in Australia I was so busy trying to work hard that Ashley really did become my carer for a while and was checking I was eating, sleeping and resting enough. Much in the same way I do with my dad, who I am always worried sick about when I go away. Parents notoriously die the minute you step on a plane to leave the country, well old ones anyway!
My wee da is fit and healthy, though, especially for his age - he gave up smoking when fags went up a ha'penny in 1955 and hasn't drunk since 1981 and, despite having a heart op and small stroke in the late 90s and suffering the death of his beloved wife two years ago, he is actually fighting fit for an old Glasgow man. Though the older he gets the more racist he seems... weird that, eh? He is like a geriatric insane Jerry Sadowitz but without the irony, ticket sales and ability to shuffle a card deck.
When we were going over the census form I can't even begin to tell you the stuff he said, so am just leaving it there. Suffice to say he doesn't have much respect for people who encourage women to wear Burkhas: "Imagine I tried to tell your mammy what to wear - she would have kicked my knackers and quite rightly so - women shouldn't be told how to live."
He then went on about how odd it is I leave my husband to go round the world doing comedy, yet he prefers I leave husband as he looks after dad... I can't win can, I? The other thing dad loves is clear spray sun block factor 30. Somehow he loves this product. It's not as if we get a lot of sunshine in Glasgow but, on the days it comes out, he liberally sprays his baldy head and hugs the can. He is odd and has been known to drown squirrels accidentally in a big bin down near the fence that gets full of rain water (I promised him we wouldn't talk about that again).
So I am back from Australia and back in the game. I have decided to NOT go to the Edinburgh Fringe (I was kindly offered a paid show with all expenses covered) but I don't want to go this year. Instead I have other plans in the offing. I will be doing Soho Theatre in the last weekend of August and I will be writing a new play and a radio thing and have some very interesting meetings coming up this week. Things are pretty exciting and, even if they don't work out, I don't care. I am not being tied to Edinburgh for a whole month!
Life feels OK; it's been a hard start to this year - my beloved brother Jim died suddenly on New Year's Eve and was alone in pain prior to his death which haunts me. I never even called him over Christmas and that haunts me... I have been very fucked up about this and then I never got to go to his funeral. Things felt odd, but I am looking onwards and upwards.
So here I am watching friends' daughters grow up and get married, watching Ashley look after me, trying hard to look after dad and all the while trying hard to remain 22 years old inside my own head. It really is just the early 80s inside my body: I am still hoping George Michael will Wham me at some point and I still dance to Fame when I hear it on the radio.
I asked husband the other day if I still look like the 18 yr old girl he married and he looked at me and said: "No, you have bigger boobs and more fat on your ass and you talk better and you believe in yourself more and you read better books." That's what happens when you ask an Aspergers man his honest opinion. But it was true. I am older, better read and much fatter than the girl who dressed in a £58 wedding dress and let a priest tell her how to love a man back in 1980. (Turns out the priest was an IRA sympathiser and fled the country when he got involved in cash for arms - We don't know if we are legally married and if he was legally a priest)
"Club Tropicana drinks are free......."
Sunday the 27th of March 2011
Am being a bit more positive
Being back onstage in Glasgow makes me happy as hell. Ashley is happy now that she doesnt have to hear me through a microphone every night nor has to sleep in the same bed as me. So the Godley/Storrie combo is deliriously excited. Poor Ashley was with me on tour through Adelaide and was subjected to my presence in all forms for a whole month.
When I was on tour living in hotels all I ate was biscuits and hot pies at night, literally the biggest trucker heart attack diet of a lifetime and am paying for it now; suffice to say Ryvita is now my snack of choice. Eating balsa wood is fine by me.
The Glasgow Comedy Festival is in full swing and I love it, like you cannot believe. Over the weekend I did Glasgow Highlights comedy club. I normally MC the show but it was great doing a 20 minute spot again. Bless, the sold out show gave me a standing ovation and I walked off stage misty eyed. To see big burly blokes on their feet cheering, just felt awesome: not just women, not just older folk but a full range of top Glasgow people giving me love! I love comedy and Glasgow and it's down to being positive about stuff.
Now don't think for a minute I have joined a bongo collective and taken up spiritual hugging, I am just being very positive about things in my world and it seems the more I avoid negative things, the more positive I get. It's not a religion or some tree-hugging exercise, just deciding to have a mental state of being positive does help.
Instead of looking at my bedroom and sighing: "This whole room needs painted, the floors need re-doing," I think... I have had so much fun in here and might get round to organising it to look better - then again, it's just a house!
I also decided not to go to Edinburgh as the thought of doing a whole month of negative people moaning about the state of their ticket sales (me included) etc... just made me sad inside my soul. So I am going on holiday instead. See? - Positivity! The good news is I have had a radio show pilot commissioned and the people around me and the work I am doing feels so much better! I will have bad luck, I will get refused jobs, I will get sick, my dad will eventually die but there is no need to constantly be worn down with negativity till shit happens. I was never given to depression - luckily I have never suffered it and I was always wary that happiness is also over-rated - but it's time to stop being down on everything for me.
Don't worry, I am not happy clappy and suggesting we all paint rainbows, I am still the snarling snappy anger-ridden sarcastic Janey, just not as down on the world or cynical as I have been. Even my skin looks better!
Now to face the challenge of losing weight. I am about four stones in the red and need to get shot of that. I am 50 this year and need to make sure I don't get diabetes or heart disease and I want to feel sexy in my knickers that no longer fit. I am still off the fags so I expected to gain weight and now I have and now it's time for it to go. Am off to eat dust flavoured Ryvita with tea. Talk soon.