I’m off to the Palace today, as in Buckingham Palace.

From the Royal Website:

“The Queen, with The Duke of Edinburgh, is holding a reception to recognise young people working in the British Performing Arts at Buckingham Palace on 9th May 2011.”

So yes, I’m going to this.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m meant to do there, but I suppose there will be lots of brown oven food and possibly champagne!

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I do a movie reviews podcast, which is being recorded and posted on Tuesday night, so this weekend I’ve had to see two films. Going to the cinema (unnecessary interpolation: I still find it strange saying ‘going to the cinema’ here, I prefer the quainter North Americanism of ‘movie theatre‘ — my dad still says ‘picture house’) during the festival is weird. We went to two films, The Sorceror’s Apprentice with Nic Cage and Argentinian Oscar Winner The Secrets in Their Eyes. I’ll leave the review until the podcast comes out on Tuesday, but suffice it to say, one of these films is better than the other. WHICH ONE??

The Sorceror’s Apprentice was a late show on Saturday, 11 PM. There were only two other people in the entire cinema, which I love. I often secretly revel in the fact that online piracy is killing cinema, because it just means less idiots taking up space in cinemas. My favourite thing in the world is sitting in a completely empty cinema; it’s very luxurious, plus, if it’s a scary movie you can pretend that at any moment the projectionist might turn psycho and try to kill you. (This adds greatly to the experience). But because the festival goes on and on outside the cinema/movie theatre, watching films here is kind of like sealing yourself in a bubble. I thoroughly recommend it if you need to get away.

I was interviewed for someone’s school paper the other day, which was quite nice! After saying I didn’t like young people in my last post, maybe I should say I’m a bit frightened of them, particularly their ambition. We barely had a school paper when I was in high school. If we did, I think it probably had a circulation of 10 and came out yearly, until the teacher supervising the newspaper club ran out of money to buy pizza to bribe students to be in the club with. We certainly didn’t have people interviewing comedians at the world’s largest arts festival.

I was waiting for a baked potato the other day when a group of youths came up to the queue. They were waving flyers in our faces and going ‘Hey, come to this show! It’s really good!’ and then giggling to themselves. It transpires, it seems, that they had taken a bunch of flyers for other shows, and were now mocking the flyerers by trying to re-flyer their flyers.

What they didn’t anticipate was when people started taking the flyers, and going ‘Oh, that sounds good, I’ll have to check it out.’ One lady even said ‘are you in the show?’ The stunned boy looked as a deer in headlight does — ready to die. Well, it’s their fault, but I do understand how frustrating it is sometimes when you want to play a stupid, mean joke and all that happens is you end up making someone’s life easier for them. Young people are horrible.

I finally got my potato (or rather, two potatoes, as it was from The Baked Potato Shop), filled with avocado salad (basically a lazy guacamole, as far as I can tell). I had really craved one the entire day. I had forgotten how sick they make you feel afterwards. I think a jacket potato with a veggie filling is a vaguely healthy option, wouldn’t you say? But portion size, Scotland, portion size! A ‘medium’ potato is the size of a Yorkshire Terrier and weighs as much as seven suns. Then they put about 2 kg of grated cheese on it, but it’s this strange cheese that never melts!

Anyways, regardless, I ate the whole thing.

I found a flyer yesterday for a sketch show that proudly declared one of their hilarious characters would be the winner of China’s Got Talent. None of these people were Chinese. Oh good, I thought, there is almost no way this isn’t going to be a vaguely racist shambles. Why, sketch groups? Why? I just can’t believe that no one, at any point, went ‘Hey! Maybe let’s not do that! It isn’t 1955 anymore!’

You know when your parents are like, I’m not angry, I’m disappointed? I think my reaction to this idiocy is the same. I’m just disappointed some white people actually think it’s ok to effectively perform in yellow-face — I know there might be loads of this going on in, I dunno, closed communities in the Ozarks, or village fetes somewhere, but those places have the advantages of not being at the largest arts festival in the world. I think I’m also disappointed by the insulting implication that ‘China’s Got Talent’ could be a joke in and of itself. That is, ‘ho ho, isn’t is hilarious to imagine a Britain’s Got Talent show in a third-world country?’ But you know what, sketch group? China has loads of shows like that already. Asian popular culture is bigger than you could imagine. And furthermore, China has a BILLION people. Statistically, it’s quite, quite likely to have talent.

I think there’ll be the argument to this that I should just learn to take a joke (political correctness gone mad and all that b.s.). My counter argument would be ‘grow the fuck up.’ You’re not 7, and pulling your eyes back with tape isn’t the height of comic genius anymore.

Anyways, nuts to them. The festival’s ticking along. I have one more show today and then a day off. Yesterday was a lovely one, and the reactions were interesting. One elderly lady said ‘Do you think things will change through individual actions?’ I said, yes, but that’s only a part of it, a bigger part will be some form of collective will on our part. She replied ‘I think that will happen. Maybe it already is happening.’ She kind of winked at me, which only later I found a bit troubling and sinister, as if she was organising a sleeper cell in a bunker under her allotment.

Another older man kind of took me to task by repeating the usual Conservative defense of Thatcheresque capitalism. After the show, of course, that would be a really weird heckle. I like this response, because at least I know the show is working enough to get people ‘riled.’ I don’t want to preach to the choir, I want to deal with the conflicts that are going to arise. I wasn’t really prepared, so I just said, ‘well, it’s much more complicated than that.’ Good comeback, Broderick. Naomi Klein would be proud.

A gloomy sort of day yesterday, thunderstorms and everything. I got my audience into the room, started the show, and the heavens burst — it sounded like rain on a car roof. You know, quietly lulling, which I suppose isn’t the best audience for a comedy show. They were quiet but nice, a ‘smiler’ crowd (we all have those). But after the show I had two women come up to me, both older. And we just talked about the stuff in the show; the ultra-serious bits. It’s excellent when people seriously engage with it, and when there’s a sense that maybe they’ll continue to think about it afterwards.

I popped into Ong Gie again, for japchae this time (glass noodles — made from mung bean starch; better than it sounds, promise), and I got chatting to the owner. I hope this place succeeds, they’re lovely, but Korean is an unknown element here. I’m sure the students provide a fair amount of business but July and even August must be quiet (if it’s a choice between a kebab and Korean on a drunken stumble, the kebab will always win).

It’s difficult to stay healthy during the festival, which is kind of why Ong Gie is a good thing. They’re quite into vegetables. I’m sure most comics will try a bit and go — what’s that strange plant-like taste in my mouth? It seems hauntingly familiar. In the past it was Susie’s Wholefood’s Diner that saved all of our lives, but that closed down a few months ago. Too bad, that was the first place I ever visited in Edinburgh (not during the festival), probably 7 years ago now.

I did my first bit of flyering yesterday. It is a necessary evil at the Fringe. But people were genuinely lovely about it. This won’t continue on into the third week. By that point the city will be so saturated with flyers the Castle will threaten to float away on a sea of them. We’ll be sick to the point of endless chundering of pictures of male comedians scratching the back of their head and looking a bit puzzled. We’ll even be talking to charity muggers for some interaction with a stranger that isn’t wearing white face paint. By the way, why does every single play on the Fringe seem to involve white face paint? Everywhere you go you see troupes of teenagers in white face paint, doing a version of Woyzeck or Marat/Sade. I can only imagine it’s because they’re young. Maybe they think that that’s what stage makeup looks like, and under the lights it’ll be fine. They’ll get a nasty surprise when they watch the video.

There was an interesting exchange I overheard on the Royal Mile:

PERFORMER/FLYERER: Hey, come see my show? (or something to that effect)

PASSERBY: No thanks, save a tree.

PERFORMER: (Calling after him) They’re recycled!

PASSERBY: What percent?

That foxed him. The passerby walked away unmolested, didn’t take a flyer, and another tree was safe for another day. This is good advice. If you don’t want to take a flyer, use the ecological argument. And if they protest, make the argument more complicated. Like so:

PERFORMER: Hey, come see my show?

YOU: No thanks, BP Oil Spill.

PERFORMER: Obama’s fixing it, and BP’s gonna pay for it.

YOU: The oil spill should be dealt with through collective struggle, as it’s a question of the commons that affects us all. Corporate-political intervention isn’t enough, we need to from this point collectively question our own dependence on oil.

PERFORMER: It’s got 2 stars from the Scotsman.

YOU: No thanks.

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Broderick Chow: Easy, Tiger! is on every day except Sundays at 17:10 throughout August, at Surgeon’s Hall, Nicolson St, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW. Box Office 0845 508 8515

Buy Online

Tickets £5 — presented as part of the Five Pound Fringe

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This morning has been Helen’s ukulele photoshoot, which was objectively fun, but a little bit cacophonous for the sleep deprived. Also, I don’t really know how to play the ukulele so I was kind of a fraud. (I should say though that I really like getting my photo taken, which makes me sound hugely arrogant, but it’s true. I like it so much I tend to walk by CCTV cameras two or three times so they get the best angle.)

Yesterday, I finished the last bit of writing work I had left over before coming up here. It’s quite a relief, as I can finally devote all my energy to the show. It was a good one last night. I came home and back out again to do a super secret part in Saz Campbell’s quite excellent free show, 27-Up. Then back home again to cook a proper meal. Then back out again to see Yianni Agisilaou’s SUPER EXCELLENT show and have some drinks with Gràinne Maguire. Then back home again. The amount I come and go at the moment makes it like the most boring version of Lord of the Rings ever (that was a reference to ‘there and back again’).

My pre-show warm-up now consists of me playing the piano and singing at the top of my lungs in the empty flat. I know about three songs at the moment, but my repertoire is building. I like this. There’s something comforting about warming up before a show that doesn’t really ever happen in stand-up. I never get to play the piano anymore, because I don’t own one in London, so having one in this flat in Edinburgh is a nice treat. I remember once, a friend said she was really jealous of people who played piano (she played violin). I was jealous she played a string instrument because you can take those around with you. She rejoindered that there are always pianos in places, like bars, and cafés, and hotel lobbies, and you can play and a crowd will gather around you. I responded that it (a) wasn’t the 1930s anymore, and (related) (b) that makes you look like a douche. I realise now the truth in what she was saying, this Fringe has most definitely made me want to go to a venue with a piano and show off my rendition of Ryan Adams’ ‘Sweet Illusions.’ Douchebag be damned!

On an unrelated note, I think my show isn’t the only one on the Fringe with Korean rap in it! There’s also Chef.* This makes me nervous that I’ve lost my USP. Still, I’m pretty sure mine is the only one that combines Korean rap with Marxist philosophy. At least in the comedy section.

* I really, really want to see this show. It looks excellent, I’ve heard great things, and I love bibimbap.
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Broderick Chow: Easy, Tiger! is on every day except Sundays at 17:10 throughout August, at Surgeon’s Hall, Nicolson St, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW. Box Office 0845 508 8515

Buy Online

Tickets £5 — presented as part of the Five Pound Fringe
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