Things That Can Fuck Right Off NOW

Anyone, for any reason, who in a professional context chooses to use Comic Sans font can go and fuck themselves and their stupid inkjet printers and they insane officious arses.

And that’s who’s using it, isn’t it? It’s the sort of people who want to give you some passive aggressive bollocks, probably on a patronising laminated sign, which is either going to state the fucking obvious, or is going to impose some sort of dick swinging ego trip upon you. They bang on about whatever nonsense is of huge importance to them, but of no meaningful value to anyone else, and then, as though to soften the blow of their own inadequacy, they put it in a silly font to make it seem like they’re being playful.

They’re not being playful. They’re being cunts. I don’t give a shit about your godawful cancellation policy. I don’t need you banging on about how you need to be tough on people who cancel. I’ve no intention of cancelling and little intention of even booking with you, you small minded, power wielding officious prick.

Similarly, hotels who charge for parking in their own fucking car park are taking the fucking piss. I’ve booked a room at your place. I need to arrive in my car. Why do you think it’s reasonable to rinse me for £10 more quid for the privilege of stopping on a small patch of flat ground. What are you going to do? Wash my car? Change the sheets of my boot? Are you going to give my car a friendly wake up call with an autotrader to read in the morning? No? Then don’t charge me for a rectangle of spare tarmac that you couldn’t be bothered to build more of your hotel on.

Then there’s the phone lines who waste your fucking time giving you all the reasons why you should hang up the call and not speak to them. I don’t want to be told to fuck off, and then dealt with as an inconvenience by your understaffed call centre. I expect you to be able to answer a telephone and not give me an hour-long recorded message about how your website can help me, especially when I’m calling you because said website doesn’t work. Have you considered using our website? Have you considered writing to us instead? Have you considered downloading an awful app that doesn’t work? Have you considered fucking off? Have you considered trying to pretend to be grateful when a disinterested minimum wage tosser answers the phone and tries to fob you off to someone else because they can’t be arsed?

No.

I haven’t considered those options because I have a problem to solve. It’s not even about great customer service with a smile… I don’t care if someone’s sunny, especially if they’re about to rob me of a ridiculous parking charge. I care about getting the job done. Simple as that. If there’s a problem, we need to solve it and move on.

So I was delighted by fucking McDonald’s this weekend when I discovered that the kids happy meal boxes didn’t have their burgers in. I should point out at this stage, that I’m happily married and my wife was present. I know that complaining about a happy meal is usually the province of a divorcee dad, but in this instance, it was meant to be a quick practical meal that the kids would enjoy while we were skipping from one place to the next.

Incidentally, my daughter recently described the 2 year dearth of McDonald’s visits, mainly caused by the pandemic, as a crime against (her) childhood. So I was attempted to both please AND feed my children.

Anyway back to the “restaurant”. I went to the counter with the receipt from my order, mainly to remind me what we’d ordered, and told the assistant that the burgers were missing from the happy meals I’d collected from her approximately 90 seconds earlier. She didn’t know what to do, so brought someone more senior. By more senior, think 17, rather than 15. He looked at me questioningly. “You say the burgers are missing?”. “That’s right. Please may I have them.” He paused for effect. Then, as though he were the bastard son of Poirot and Colombo with a side order of, I don’t know, fucking Bergerac, he said to me “The thing is, I can’t see how that could possibly have happened.”. I had been prepared for the possibility that I’d be accused of lying, which, let’s be honest, is exactly what the jumped up little prick was doing. “Well, feel free to some and search our table, because they’re not there.” I replied. Sweetly.

An older guy, probably late thirties, with a look of a man who gave up on life when he took the job, and the tiredness of someone who only works with officious prick kids, dispatched the team to make new burgers. I told him it was really no problem and all they needed to do was find the originals or their nearest replacements. By this stage 120 seconds had elapsed and the drama was really unnecessary.

They provided me two full happy meals, redoing the order entirely, which wasn’t necessary and I offered just to take the burgers, but their system doesn’t have a space for that sort of logic, in the same way that it doesn’t cover what happens when some disinterested prick on minimum wage doesn’t notice that they’ve not put a fucking burger in a fucking box.

To be honest, they all need to fuck off, don’t they.

I didn’t go to McDonald’s to be called a liar. I also didn’t especially care that some tosser who’s barely discovered the responsibility of owning pubes, should try to tarnish me as such.

I should point out that they also forgot two portions of fruit from the order too, which in the end I couldn’t be bothered to go and demand since their fruit portions are disgusting and we were probably even on the deal, given the duplicate happy meal items in the second round of ecological disaster that is a McDonald’s order.

What a load of old shit all of it.

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I Said Maybe It’ll Work

Writing new material is something which comedians do. I deliberately and habitually write new material for each of the local comedy nights I MC, and I find it to be a mixed bag.

The stuff I scribble down and don’t learn properly before the show can often crash and burn. In the interval, I write a joke to order – based on suggestions from the audience – and that bit, where I work through about 10 freshly written punchlines, is always fun and usually works well.

And that’s the weird thing. When the stakes are low, the pleasure is high. I can bang out a line I don’t care about, and it will get a laugh. Conversely, when I write a whole song, and try that out before an audience for the first time, it feels stressful and clunky.

There are a few reasons for this. I think that performing musical comedy has become, for me at least, a complex multi-tasking problem. I have to:

  • Play the guitar well enough to convey the music
  • Remember/read the right words
  • Find the right part of my voice to sing those words – it always feels different on stage than in rehearsal
  • Use the microphone correctly to get the right sonic balance to make the words make sense
  • Mess with the timing of the delivery to give the audience room to laugh
  • Convey the message and the humour of the song to the audience in non-verbal ways

In short, unless the song is written a certain way which forces all of the above to be right (maybe that’s a lesson to learn from failed attempts too), then it’s probably 50 times easier to mess a new song up than to deliver a coherent version that the audience can find the humour in.

But my problem is that a lot of my stuff is getting old to me. I’m doing routines that I’ve been doing for over 15 years. I’m probably a better comedian now than I was when I wrote them, so why haven’t they been replaced?

There are lots of answers to that, but they don’t matter. What matters is that I am writing again. As a minimum, this will result in more output on YouTube, but hopefully it will also result in more new material in the set.

Unfortunately, when it goes wrong it’s very sad.

My COP26-inspired song about Brazilians and trimming of “the bush” has provide an unmitigated disaster on stage. I think it’s a well written song and a decent bossa nova. However, it doesn’t work live. So, ok… that’s going to go on YouTube. Soon, probably.

This leads to one of my long-learned dilemmas. Often, the songs that I spend the most time creating are the ones that never work. If I look back at some of my classics, I wrote them almost as a stream of consciousness, performed them, they worked, and then I played them ever since.

Conversely, the ones I take time to craft are the ones which don’t work.

So, why did I record an Oasis pastiche of my latest song idea – “She’s Electric” but in a world where we’re not using metaphors?

I did it because I wanted to enjoy the process.

I even tried the song out this weekend and it didn’t go horribly wrong…

Here’s me NOT performing the new song

However, though on first performance, the song got loads of laughs, I messed up the playing. For the second time around, I had an audience that were behaving oddly, so I did a remix of the set and played the song later than I wanted to. I also forgot to add another joke in the intro that I had hoped would stage things properly…

… so I think the song’s scoring 1 out of 2. It kind of needs to score 3 out of 3 consistently – positive or negative – in order to have a verdict.

However, I think I’ve created something that’s in my style of writing, and which is a bit daft, a bit rude, and quite funny. So I’m going to definitely, maybe, probably, attempt to make it my morning glory.*

* Oasis jokes.

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You Did What?

As a topper to my Silly Quiz Answers, I did something much sillier with the Lucid Support Services weekly quiz/challenge.

I had threatened to turn their wordsearch into a musical, and so I did.

It’s quite a strange thing to produce an entire song based on deliberately mis-reading a wordsearch and finding words that are not meant to be there.

The above video shows, in its final scenes, how many words I superimposed onto their grid. For those who want a clue about the process behind making this, here’s a picture from the notebook:

GoodNotes page, scribbling on an iPad

My songwriting process, these days, uses a variety of different techniques for capturing the ideas. Sometimes I’ll write on paper with a pen/pencil.

Sometimes I use an electronic pad with an electronic pencil.

I’ll occasionally just type into a Google Doc. And for parody songs I’ll have a spreadsheet with the original lyrics on the left and the new ones on the right… I know… sounds dreadful.

Often I’ll noodle on an instrument and record into a voice recorder.

Interestingly, there’s also a process of trying to remember what I wrote by singing/playing away from the paper altogether, which seems to create something more natural – the process of remembering it acting as a filter on certain awkward turns of phrase, and encouraging minor re-writes.

For a wordsearch song, though, a more mathematical approach was needed and you can see above that I tried to ensure that, when the song was done, I’d have a perfect correlation between every key word and the place on the wordsearch that I’d be highlighting.

That’s a lot of effort to just prove a point.

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DI SEO

One might assume that SEO is a snakeoil/dark ark/buzzword.

But my wife’s upholstery website has literally zero discoverability on Google… so there must be something in it!

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Between the Library and the Green Room

It’s another gig weekend. I’ve done the maths and it is cheaper to stay away from home than to pay for the fuel to go backwards and forwards. Probably.

It does put me again into the strange state of limbo between gigs where I’ve got time to kill in a place far from home with no facilities of my own.

Last night’s gig ran short, so I’ve had even more time in my own company. Luckily, I also have the Beatles Get Back documentary to watch, so I didn’t have any trouble occupying myself between arriving back at the hotel and getting to sleep.

I woke up at 6.30 this morning, though. Rookie error. I was quite thirsty and also needed a wee… coincidence!? I don’t think so.

Anyway, I went back to sleep and ended up leaving my hotel slightly later than the check in time, having done some admin in the room before having a last minute shower.

The Shower Scene

INTERIOR: Shower room

A large man opens the two sliding doors at the apex of a square shower cubicle, reaches in and turns on the shower.

The shower runs as our hero has his second wee-wee of the morning.

He discreetly disrobes completely and tries to enter the shower via the narrow gap left by the doors.

He discovers that he’s wider than this gap and that the water is way too hot for him to hide from it inside the cubicle.

Then starts a dance between a man trying to find the optimum temperature of a shower he’s going to have to squeeze into by half pulling on the shower pipe works, and half rogering the doorway.

Man enters shower.

Shower head is fixed and appears to have a frozen joint… it’s also at the level of his throat.

Man cavorts in shower trying to get washed without making too much body contact with the very close fittings of the cubicle.

Man escapes shower by reversing the process of entry and is relieved to find that the lack of investment in the maintenance of the room was counterbalanced by a high quality large bath sheet.

He dries himself and leaves the hotel.

That’s actually a use-again hotel!

Breakfast, Movies and Walking

With the car back at the hotel, I walked down into the centre of Newcastle under Lyme to get something to eat and drink. I wandered into Wilko where I bought a litre of fizzy drinks and some of the deodorant I’d forgotten to bring with me. I might have been able to go a day without it, but I’m a large man and it’s good to be on the safe side.

I occasionally forget which particular variant of the Sure deodorant I use, so I use a little mnemonic rhyme to help me:

Green is Good
Purple smells of Piss

I hope that helps other people too.

Then to Caffe Nero. That wasn’t my aim – I was hoping to find a small independent cafe, but none made themselves visible and attractive before I hit Nero, so the corporate megaliths win again.

Newcastle is a nice enough small town centre… with nobody in it… this makes me unsurprised at the lower audience numbers we’re expecting this weekend in the shows.

Coffee, a sandwich, a chance to use my nero points. All was good. I did various bits and bobs of admin over breakfast and went to get a second coffee. This is when the voice behind me introduced itself as last night’s opening act. I’d not noticed him when I joined the queue, and he’d not recognised whether it was me until I spoke to the staff.

We’d made an arrangement to maybe go to the cinema between lunchtime and the gig tonight. After a chat in the queue, he said he was going to go away and work out his plan, and message me online. This involved him sitting round the corner from my table. So we sat at our respective tables and messaged each other.

This might seem anti-social on either side, but to be honest, I think it was a good way to do things. We’ve only met once, and we both have our own admin to do. Distant but together is a good thing.

You Can’t Get Better

After catching up on some complex admin around eBay for other people, and exchanging messages with a few people, I had to go to get my car across to Kwik Fit for its scheduled air conditioning regas.

It turns out that middle aged day activities are a bit bleak.

This map shows pretty much the entirety of my movements within Newcastle – mainly moving from the top right to the bottom left… backwards and forwards.

From the hotel down into town (Wilko for the drink), then back up to the hotel, then down a street to Kwik Fit… then, with the car dropped off at Kwik Fit, I dropped into the Library.

You Can’t Get Better Than A Library

I did so many things in the Newcastle Library between 1.30pm and 4pm. Libraries are definitely my favourite remote town hangout place.

To be fair, I’m only vaguely present in the library. They’re just a location in which to plug into my laptop and do whatever it is I want to do, so long as it doesn’t make noise to the public.

That said, I can make noise in my own earphones.

As a result, I clipped out some moments from a recent gig and posted them on some of the socials they need to go on. It turns out that the library WiFi was really fast!

The YouTube clip at the top of this post came from one of these activities.

I also booked cinema tickets for the family, who are now watching the film I had tickets emailed to them for.

I did some of my article editing, eventually clearing up the backlog of articles waiting for my input. That was a mixture of different sorts of feedback, with different articles needing quite a different sort of review. In one case we had an article that wasn’t wrong, but seemed to have gone quite shallow, compared to an article which seemed very deep, but was hard to understand, because all this information seemed to serve only the existence of information.

Anyway, sadly the library has a kicking out time.

Unfortunately the original idea of going to see a movie didn’t work out between myself and the other act. I wasn’t too interested in the available options once we’d narrowed them down. Rather than going along to be polite, I decided to fill my time some other way.

Back in the Green Room

So I asked the staff at the venue if it was ok if I came upstairs to the green room. That’s me, using this very computer from the aforementioned green room.

In fact what I did was approach one of the staff from last night and ask them if upstairs was locked. She didn’t recognise me as one of the acts at first… she was cagey and asked me why. I said I was wondering if I could drop into the green room early and do some writing. Then she worked out who I was (that’s showbiz kids) and said yes.

So, I’m here in a comedy club I really like, in one of the nicest green rooms in the country. The picture doesn’t do it justice. There are comfy sofas and it’s decorated in a warm colour, with interesting things around. I suspect it was like this when the club was built in this upstairs room, rather than it being some sort of design affectation… but it’s lovely.

The plan for the next couple of hours is to play around with a bit of writing. Maybe comedy. Maybe other projects. At least I’ve had a warm up article in the form of this one.

Then the gig, and the long road home.

That’s showbiz.

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If You Love Crypto

Here’s a quote I paste all over the internet:

If you love Crypto, then either you don’t understand it, or you’re trying to scam someone.

Why do I think this?

I’ll allow two YouTube videos to speak for me on this one.

First, there’s a succinct argument from this guy:

What’s nice about this video is that he starts out with the positives, but then shows how they’re heavily outweighed by the negatives.

However, if you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, then you must watch this video:

This shows how these schemes are just that. They’re schemes.

If you want my view, here’s why Crypto is a scam. It’s a virtual asset which only has value while it’s being hyped by the Crypto-bros to the people they’re trying to lure into the crypto community. The value only grows the more people are convinced to put real money into this illusion.

In other words it’s a Ponzi scheme.

However, here are some specific observations to add onto the back of it:

  • Unregulated finance is a bad thing – the lack of rules means you’re going to get hurt
  • Nothing’s unregulated, people are in charge, and many of those people are crooks or cybercriminals
  • You don’t own any assets, you pay money for a receipt that proves ownership – it’s some bytes
  • No, stablecoins are not linked to stable real-world assets – they’re linked to volatile assets that have also been hyped… probably
  • Crypto wallets have been hacked and will be hacked
  • Every crypto transaction is an ecological disaster
  • Blockchain is not exciting – it’s just some technology to expensively prove a record on a ledger – so what!
  • The immutable record on a blockchain can, in itself, be false
  • You don’t own an NFT
  • An NFT is a very expensive receipt to a hyperlink that you don’t even control
  • The “art” in an NFT probably remains the copyright of someone else
  • The crash will happen

I honestly hope that those people most banging on about how amazing crypto is are taken down by their own stupidity.

Other videos deserving honourable mentions:

and I love this one, which points out that what you think you’re buying with an NFT is a much lesser thing that you could have bought with existing copyright laws:

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The Silly Quiz Answers

I have a habit of replying to the quizzes and word-searches from the above company with daft answers.

I think I did a good job of this St Patrick’s day themed quiz.

1. Irish Coffee: Shamrocks, Guinness and Orangina
2. River that runs through Dublin: River Phoenix
3. James Bond: Sean Connery
4. Irish Flag: It’s actually entirely transparent
5. St Patrick was the inventor of the Peperami
6. A lucky clover has 365 leaves, 366 in a leap year
7. Dish currently eaten on St Patrick’s day: A Denby Modus Ombre Cereal Bowl
8. In which country was St Patrick Born: Mexico
9. What you find at the end of a rainbow: a guy trying to re-create the Dark Side of the Moon album cover
10. What date is St Patrick’s day celebrated: International Men’s Day – 19th November

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Going Off The Rails

Every so often I have the following thought:

I know – I’ll take the train, then I’ll get there faster AND I can do something useful on the journey.

I want you to know that I know this is a ludicrous myth, and that I’m an idiot for thinking it, but sometimes necessity provokes me to give it another go.

On Thursday it simply wasn’t possible to do everything I had to do in the day and also drive into London. I had to take the chance of getting the train. It was a mediocre experience at best. It seems that Chiltern Railways, aware as they are of peak train usage, are still insistent on running the smallest train they can get away with between Birmingham and London on the route that runs through Banbury.

On the way out I managed to get some useful time on the laptop while waiting on the platform, and on the train itself I also got a table with power socket.

Great.

I had to share with captain stinky-pits, though. He was a gentleman of a certain nasal aura. He had two mobile phones, fingers that needed nibbling, and armpits that needed showering, disinfecting and spraying with something to manage the bio hazard.

To add insult to injury, I was wearing a mask, which you might think would filter some of the smell, but it was a mask that had been accidentally put through the washing machine in the pocket of my trousers, so it was more of a mildew infuser. Even with the smell of mildew, I still had to work to filter out the unclean gentleman.

Still, I got to my destination at a decent pace and was able to surf Pret A Manger to find refreshment and somewhere to work. It took two. They say in London you’re never more than 7 metres from a Pret, and I’m cool with that.

This Gig Is Deeply Unprofitable

Working the comedy circuit is a funny old thing. Sometimes you need to say no to a low-paid gig. Sometimes it’s a pointless exercise that will cost you more than it earns, and gain you nothing more.

Sometimes you need to take on the free gigs because they’re the right thing to do for artistic reasons – a chance to try stuff out, or a way to network.

Then, there are decent paid gigs, which are not up for discussion.

The ideal is a decent paid gig which also has a lovely audience:

However, there are gigs where the pay is low, and yet they’re hard not to go for. This is because they’re the loss-leaders with a promoter, or they’re diary fillers to keep you match fit, or they’re a test of a certain type of audience.

Thursday’s gig was one of these. The economics of it are shocking:

  • Fee – £50
  • Train – £35
  • Parking – £5
  • Underground – £5
  • Refeshment on the road – £10+ ?
  • Petrol to get to/from the railway station – £5

So, a conservative estimate is that the gig cost me around £10.

So, was it worth it?

Don’t Be That Guy

I’m that guy… Sorry. I talk about the craft of stand-up before, during and after a gig. It fascinates me. I try to be more open minded about it, since any gig can go any way. I also worry about talking forcefully about how comedy is done before then going out and doing badly in front of an audience.

My favourite technique used to be to have a chat with the acts during the gig, not saying too much about comedy, go on and smash it, and then pretend I was more of a newbie that I was. There are two rules about when comedians get together.

Whenever comedians who don’t know each other get together, at some point one will ask the other “So, how long have you been going”.

Or… when comedians who do know get together, then at some point they’ll tell a story about Mac Star.

Anyway, what I used to enjoy doing, with several hundred gigs under my belt, was to either have spoken authoritatively about comedy for a few minutes, or, better still, have gone out and done well on stage, and then be asked the fateful question: “So, how long have you…”.

Then I’d reply: “Actually, this is my first time.”

Hilarity.

A gig where the closing act is paid £50 is going to have fairly new acts on the rest of the bill. We talked about the art/craft of comedy, and I hope I didn’t come across as a “know-all-cock of the highest order”, Chortle Forums 2004.

Anyway, you watch a gig like this and you start to wonder. How’s it really going to go for you?

The Pool Hustler

Without judging anything other than effect, the audience response over the course of the evening was pleasant, but reserved. The MC, a long-standing pro, was doing really well with them, but the acts were being given a little less than perhaps their material deserved. For reasons that are reasonable, but frustrating, the closing slot happens directly after two shorter spots. This means the second half of the show is a good 50+ minutes long, which is a tough thing to keep the energy levels going for.

The first section had gone well, and one of the acts waiting to go on in the second section seemed, to be frank, terrified. Very nervous. Body language quite closed. Frequent trips to the toilet. She was going to be the middle of the three acts in the last section.

I had wondered a couple of things. Firstly, would the audience be luke warm for me in the way they seemed to be for the featured acts? And how would I pick up the energy levels after the two newer acts before me.

This is what I wondered, relatively calmly and unfazed, as the show proceeded. This is nothing like my first rodeo. I would go and do my thing as usual, and work the room as best I could.

It turns out that the nervous act had a secret.

She was really really really funny. When she hit the stage, she opened fire on the audience and took the whole night up a gear. She was really funny. Really. Funny. And I had to follow that.

Moreover, she closed with something honest and positive about her Ukrainian family not having the chances we have to have fun, and how we should celebrate our freedoms.

Tough act to follow.

Bless This MC

The good thing about a seasoned MC is that they know when to draw a line under an act and change the mood before bringing on the next one. I thanked him for doing this after the show. The worst thing he could have done to the emotional applause he went on stage to, after the previous act, would have been to say “Great… now let’s keep that going for… Ashley Frieze”. That would have forced me to address the mood of the room…

No. He did what was necessary to change the chapter of the book from one act to the next, and then I went on.

So, How Did It Go?

Of the gig, and the journey home, I’ll say that the gig was by far the better experience. I stood on a hot sweaty train all the way home to Banbury, putting the stand-up into stand-up comedy, I suppose.

On the stage, however, I found much more of a comfort zone.

Where I’d been standing, I couldn’t really see the performers at all. I could hear them. I could judge their material and the sound of their performance, and I could form an opinion on how the audience reacted to them. But perhaps seeing how they came over on stage would have been more useful.

Other than the penultimate performer, my feeling is that the acts were essentially performing from within a box. The box being the prepared material, the learned mannerisms, the conscious effort to “do it correctly”, the sense of self over the sense of connection with the audience.

What takes time as a comedian is to learn to multi-task two opposing forces. There’s the stage-craft/delivery of honed material, and there’s the spontaneous connection with the audience. The latter breaks you out of the box.

It’s not entirely as simple as that. The room itself can create the box, and this box metaphor soon gets inadequate, but let’s run with it for a few more milliseconds.

So You Were The Best?

Trick question.

I gave a good account of myself, as you might expect of someone in their 20th year of stand-up.

I’m reminded of when, a few years into my comedy “career”, I took part again in the Laughing Horse New Act competition. As it happened, I’d done one of these as my first gig, and then decided to have another go a few years in. I won my heat. I was about to stand up and do some sort of victory speech when I checked myself and looked at a room where virtually nobody had reached gig 10. Of course in that situation I’d do a little better.

Real gigs aren’t a competition. They’re supposed to be about comedy, entertainment, art, and being present.

I was definitely present. It cost me over £10, and a face full of stinky armpits on many more occasions than I’d planned, but it was actually quite a good evening, overall.

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Bless The Sound Board

One day I’ll go and see Sister Act The Musical again. Along with Legally Blonde, it’s one of my guilty-pleasure musicals. In it, Deloris sings the line “Bless the sound board”.

In the gig earlier this week, there was much drama around the sound board.

I arrived at the venue and asked whether it would be easy to plug in a guitar. I had brought a guitar amp (still in the car) and also had by backup case of wires (also in the car). From the looks of things, the venue was usually home to live music, so should have been well set up.

The woman at the bar was a little downbeat about it. She said that there was a sound desk set up, but things were ropey and the “reel” had a loose connection or two. I said I’d go and have a look and see what I could do.

Reely Not Good

The reel was a multicore with a panel of XLRs on it. It had a mic plugged in, not sounding especially great, and it made a crackling noise when I touched it.

After a bit of experimentation with channels, some of which didn’t work, I eventually had the mic at a good level, and my guitar plugged in next door, also at a good level. Great stuff.

I reasoned from the fact that everything on the sound desk was set to MAX, and not especially well, that this wasn’t entirely a sound board set up for sound engineers to use. A sound engineer would generally mute everything, and leave things in default settings, rather than try to make it so that if you plugged in a microphone anywhere it would probably work.

I think this was the wrong conclusion. I generally left the desk alone, as I didn’t want to prevent future people just plugging stuff in until they got a sound. I had tweaked the channels we were using in order to get them balanced right.

One of the other acts had offered to help with the sound set up, and I declined his offer. I was nearly there, and I generally don’t expect acts to be that good at sound set up. He had offered to strum the guitar while I set the levels, and I have a slightly irrational feeling about anyone using my guitar before a show… not really important, but not necessary.

Job’s a Good’un

Sitting outside away from the room, the organiser of the gig showed up. She said something about going off to sort out the microphone, and I tried to say something about how I’d done it already, but didn’t want to be that guy.

I had, unfortunately, already become that guy. The fellow who’d offered to help with the sound set up was, in fact, a music producer. The ideal person to help with the sound set up. He never got even a touch of the sound board.

Oops.

Then the organiser let me know that she’d had to move the microphone to its usual channel. I don’t really know why, but the guitar was no longer plugged in, and the mic, now on the channel I’d turned down to avoid the guitar being too loud, was now too quiet.

I switched the channels around, re-calibrated the desk, and we were back in business.

No We Were Not

Though my set went well, I did feel I had to really work the mic and project even louder than usual. It may well have been the case that the mic wasn’t really working.

With the second act on, it became clear that the mic really wasn’t working right. This guy was a sound engineer, so he’d know. I tried to tweak gain levels on the desk, but in reality it was a connection problem at the stage. We had a moment where it suddenly cut in very loudly, and then it kind of started working better.

We ended up doing a live version of the sound check we’d previously missed out. I told him it was a connection problem on the mic lead, he held it that special way that makes those problems go away. Then he was like “Oooh, there’s a bit of reverb on this” – the fx channel was way up – and then we got it working.

In The Interval

In the interval the woman from the bar asked if she could help. I hadn’t assumed much about her knowledge. I suggested a cable fault, wondering when I should go and get my known-working cables from the car to help out here.

She was like “Oh, we need a new XLR, no problem” and she went off to get a better lead, which worked a treat.

In The Evening Show

For the evening show at the same venue, I brought my box of leads and ran my guitar straight into the desk. This worked a treat and there was much rejoicing.

What Happened?

In this story, it turned out that everyone was a sound engineer, and that I should have deployed my box of cables much sooner.

I shouldn’t have touched the reel, because it was dodgy.

I should have used the services of the actual music producer in the first place.

The misunderstanding over whether the sound was already set up could have been avoided.

I shouldn’t have jumped to the conclusion that the venue staff couldn’t help fine-tune the sound desk.

But we got there in the end.

My long jack cable, home made no less, did its job beautifully.

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Another Day on The Road

Not my car – it’s not full of crumbs

Odd to be on the road on a weekday. It’s been a day of trying to balance a lot of conflicting demands.

I had a job interview this morning. I also needed to be at a venue mid-morning for a quick comedy show.

I also needed to do a morning meeting with my team, and then have time to fit in a day’s work between the mid-morning comedy show and the evening comedy show.

While this has definitely been a shorter day than I’d like, meaning I’ll be working to catch it up later on, I’ve achieved all of these things. This required me to leave the house as though I had a commuter job in Bristol, which I don’t. This was so I could do my job interview from the passenger seat of my car… it wasn’t on at the time – that would have been VERY dangerous.

Then I did another meeting while driving to the venue. Then the gig. Then I drove to ASDA where I got some lunch, some work done, and had a poo in a very very blue-lit toilet. Why they light it blue is anyone’s guess…

Then back to the upstairs room of the venue where I could concentrate and get a ton of work done.

All so I can do the next gig in a couple of hours before heading for home.

What a confusing array of things to pack into a single day.

If you need me I’ll be on the M5.

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