Monday, August 25, 2008

Last Dance

Well we're done.  Had our final show this afternoon.  I want to be hugely celebratory and momentous here, but I think I'm just weary and ready to come home!

All the same, this whole trip has indeed been momentous and we have a lot to celebrate.  Our performances this last week were absolutely our best, with great audiences responding in kind, laughing more, in more places, and louder than any audiences before.  That may be a reflection of the general mood of the festival in the last week -- sort of a throw caution to the wind, let's all have a good time vibe -- but I also think it's a reflection of the work we've done honing and crafting the show.  We're more relaxed and more confident than we were a month ago, and we have a much better sense of how to squeeze the most out of what we wrote.

What's more, now that all is said and done, it seems our show was rather a success, relatively speaking.  According to the folks in our venue press office, The Americans was solidly second-tier, behind sure-fire acts from veteran performers and runaway hits, but with better box-office and reviews than many of the other 100 shows at our venue.  After all, this is an environment where, depending on who you talk to, the average show gets between 4 and 9 audience members nightly.  Ours averaged about 30.  And while we felt a bit kicked in the head by some of our reviews, we managed to avoid the horrific assessments unfairly lavished on many other acts.  Nobody called our show "absolutely excruciating," for example, or likened us to "the experience of stabbing one's eyes out" or told us to "go home," as we've seen other performers endure.  Even our worst reviews ("as subtle as a sledge-hammer to the face and slightly less enjoyable") still managed to say something nice ("strong performances... an excellent send-up of Obama-mania").   So I'd say that's pretty huge, especially for first-timers like us.

Okay, so now the big question.  Would I do the Edinburgh Festival Fringe again?  As I said before, the short answer is yes.  I mean, c'mon.  Getting to perform for a whole month in a gorgeous city is a pretty amazing experience no matter how you slice it.  

The long answer?  Well, let me frame it with a couple key take-aways about this whole experience:

1) It's expensive.  Very expensive.  This year, we were incredibly fortunate to have benefitted from the generosity of our friends and family and other donors, so none of us are going home in debt.  That is extremely rare.  Most of our friends here took a hit of between $10,000 and $20,000 to get here and are now crossing all their fingers and toes to break even when the final tallies are in.  Most won't.  So coming back again gives me pause, especially as I don't imagine to benefit from such great fortune more than once.

2) Self-producing is not only expensive, it's also a huge drain on time and energy.  I loved being here, but I wish I could have seen more shows, enjoyed more of the festival, and seen more of the city.  As it was, pre-show flyering and prep time meant I wasn't available to do all that until after 4pm and it made late bed-times a lot more of a problem.  The ideal way to come back is with a producer attached.  If I could come back just as a performer, who only needed to take care of herself well enough to perform every day?  That would be a dream.

3) The whole review culture here is insane.  Reviews are bad enough in any environment.  At best, they are a necessary evil.  A vehicle that can alert a potential audience about your show.  But here it's like this frenzy.  There are dozens of publications that churn out printed and online reviews every day of the festival, all of them are vying for readership and clout, and all of them using a five-star system to rate the shows.  The result is that it's very hard to avoid Star-Obsession.  How many stars did they get?  Did we get?  Did you get?  If you get a four or five star review, it can definitely help your show -- although that's far from a certainty -- but by the end of the festival, the whole place is saturated with posters boasting four star reviews that it hardly means anything at all.  Add to that: 1) a majority of reviewers are non-professionals, i.e. "students, young writers, and aspiring journalists" (according to one eminent Fringe publication) hired as extra help to cover as many shows possible, 2) it's much more entertaining to write (and read) a bad review than a good one, and 3) the editors of many publications assign star-ratings for shows they have never seen based on the first paragraph of their writers' reviews -- and the result is one big hot mess for performers.  It's such a head trip.  Were I to come back, it would have to be with the following -- a greater determination not to care what reviews say, and a PR team that still knows how to do their job in the absence of four and five star reviews.  

So that's it.  I'm exhausted.  It is now 2am and since starting this blog post, I've been to dinner, a sketch show, and a closing party at The Stand.  Now I need to pack, for tomorrow morning at 10am, a taxi comes to take us to the airport.  It's been such a trip.  A wonderful, creative, exhausting, edifying, beautiful trip.  

Thanks for taking the trip with me.

Until we meet again,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Feeling the Love

Last Saturday of the Festival, the sun is out, High Street is a flooded with people, and everyone is in a good mood.  Gave out tons of flyers quickly and really enjoyed myself in the process -- perched as I always am on a short stone pillar, the better to look the part in my Lady Liberty hat, calling out, "Two great American comedies, featured on the BBC!" and flashing huge smiles at anyone who looks my way.  Hopefully we'll have some large houses for our final three performances....


Obama picked Biden.  Which I think is a good choice.  I like Biden.  

I have to say though that I'm a little hurt that Obama didn't email me first before announcing his decision.  I know I didn't sign up to receive the text message he sent his supporters, but -- and I don't mean to brag -- Barack has been emailing me on a regular basis.  It's true.  For many months now the Senator and his friend David Ploufe have been contacting me regularly about very insider campaign decisions.  They always close the email with this little running joke we have about me giving them another $25.  It's very funny stuff.  So needless to say I was a little surprised they didn't email me about this very important decision first.  That's all I'm saying.

Regardless, this is me on the first morning of the Obama-Biden ticket:

And speaking of choices, I do have stuff to say about whether or not I would choose to come back to the Fringe.  The short answer is yes but the long answer will have to wait.  Flyering calls.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Winding Down

So we're in the home stretch here at the Fringe, Ladies and Gentlemen, and I think I'm feeling ready for a little reflection.  At the same time, I find it hard to distill what I've been learning here into a cohesive statement.  I'm tempted to list off a few pithy one-liner lessons as a means to an end, but I don't think that would do justice to this experience.  So allow me to think aloud...

Well let's start with the creative stuff.  Wow.  "Comedy Master Class: Learn on Your Feet." That's what I could call my time at the Fringe.  Prior to working on this show, I had very little comedy experience.  I'd never done sketch, nor much improv, and had only supporting roles in the few comedic plays we did in grad school.  During the past year, while writing The Americans with Anne and Jeff, I was delighted to find that I really enjoy writing comedy, and even have some talent for it.  While I am still quite green, I find that if I can just throw caution to the wind and stop censoring myself, my comedic instincts are actually quite good.

But that's writing comedy.  Performing it is a whole 'nother matter.  

Or maybe it's overstating the case to say it's a whole different thing to perform comedy than to write it.  After all, I am an actor and a trained one at that, so on a basic level I absolutely know what I'm doing.  Plus, the comedic instinct I learned to rely on in writing is also there for me in performance.  I typically have a good sense for what needs to happen to make a joke or scenario pop.  However, honing that instinct?  Perfecting the execution of what's on the page?  Learning how to get the laugh every time?  That's hard.  It takes a lifetime and I'm just beginning.  

I'm making inroads though.  Listening, of course, is huge.  To your fellow performers and to the audience, to the rhythm of the piece as a whole.  Commitment is another big one.  Making a big choice and playing it fully.  Being unafraid to look like a fool.  Trusting the audience to stay with you, so you don't overplay your hand.  Learning to seduce the audience, to get them to come to you.  

I find there are some moments in the show where the comedy is easy to play.  Usually these are our better written bits.  The harder stuff has more to do with character development.  My character in the show is spoiled and materialistic, and if I'm not careful she can come across as kind of a brat and, in some scenes, cruel.  But on nights when I succeed at making her really specific and three-dimensional, when I can make her point of view and motivations really clear and human, those are the nights when the comedy really sings.  It makes me appreciate how good Ricky Gervais is in BBC's The Office, for example.  His character is an absolute ass, yet he's so awfully, beautifully human, that you can't help but laugh (while you cringe) at his mistakes.

Anyway, my point in all this is that I'm learning all these lessons in a very Sink or Swim environment.  Some days are better than others, some lessons stick, some I must learn again and again.  But I'm pretty sure I'm learning it at a faster pace than I would have had I never come to the Fringe.  So there's that.

This is already turning out to be a very long post and I haven't even gotten to what I've learned from a business perspective, or a human perspective.  Nor to my answer to the ubiquitous question in Edinburgh these days, "So, would you do the Fringe again?"

Guess that means you'll have something to look forward to reading tomorrow.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Go Figure

This morning we had zero pre-sale tickets.  At 1:30pm we had sold only a total of 12.  We were prepared for a small quiet crowd.  Instead, we got a decent sized crowd 27 who laughed the most and loudest of any audience we've ever had.  

It just goes to show you that you never know what'll happen here at the Fringe.

However, it should be noted that even a crowd of 12 is a huge success here, where the average audience is supposedly 4 people.  Or 6, or 9.  Reports vary, but the point is we're doing very well here audience-wise.  I don't know if that's a reflection of our venue, our marketing, our flyering, the novelty of our concept, or just plain luck.  Probably a bit of everything.

Oh and you know what helps?  What definitely contributes to getting flyers in hands, and presumably butts in seats?  This:

The Lady Liberty hat.  That's right.  That cheesy, green foam Statue of Liberty hat you usually see perched on some unfortunately spherical tourist in Times Square.  People love that hat here.  They LOVE it.  Never seen it before and can't get enough.  They snap pictures and call out, "Lady Liberty!"  Their kids stare in awe.  Offers are made to purchase it.    Unbelievable. 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Morning Has Broken

Blackbird has spoken.  And the blackbird said, "BOMB-DIGGITY!"  

Ha.  I'm such a dork.  But we had a great day today.  Our show had a huge audience who really seemed to enjoy it, and boy did we need that.  We also got some really lovely, genuine comments from a performer friends of ours, Quincy, who came to see the show and that felt really great to hear after the week we've had.  It's nice to feel back in the saddle again.

And it wasn't magic either.  It was because after two crappy shows and one okay show, we put our heads together yesterday and tried to figure out what we could do with it.  We debated a couple differing approaches -- do we tighten things up and quicken the pace?  do we loosen up even further and allow room for laughter?  and how to do it all organically? -- and ended up with a good compromise.  Namely, to raise the stakes, which ratchets up the conflict between the characters, which feeds a quick pace in the dialogue and keeps things moving.  Then when we come to a punch line, we hit it hard, and make sure we have a non-verbal reaction to the punch line ready, so we can leave room for laughter but not have dead time on stage.

There's probably some comedy expert among you thinking, "DUH."  But for us it's been a winding path, a swinging pendulum, for all of us to arrive at this place at the same time.  Hopefully we can keep it up.

After the show Anne and I had more QT (that's Quality Time), once again over burgers and beers, this time at the Pear Tree beer garden.  Once again lovely to feel human and non-Fringey.  Very important I'm finding.

Tonight we're seeing Quincy's show and then putting in some face time at the Loft Bar.  Should be a good night!

Hope you're all having great mornings and nights where you are too!

Good Night

Had a great night tonight.  Just got home from a Free Fringe comedy show that some new friends of ours are in.  Before that, Anne and I had the Beer & Burger for £3.75 deal at the Tron and chatted about non-Fringe things.  Our lives, our friends, what's in store for us in the coming months.  Felt great to connect on that level.  To just take a moment and be human together.  And I love that place, the Tron.  It's got comfy chairs, a good juke box, pool, and it's right across the street from our flat.  What more can you ask for? 

Now I'm sipping some hot water and orange (didn't have lemon) trying to soothe my very tired voice.  Our typically hectic morning schedule of flyering and taking care of business leaves me with no time to warm up, and my character speaks in a very high, teenage-girl voice, which strains my chords.  Plus I'm talking all day and all night, sometimes in very loud venues, and the occassional beer means I'm tending towards dehydration.  Also not good for chords.  I'm trying to do better, but at worst, it's only 10 more days.

Wow, 10 more days and all this is over.  Unbelievable.  I don't think I'm quite ready for reflection yet, but I can say that I'm incredibly proud of our achievements.  The fact that we wrote, rehearsed, produced, fundraised, costumed, prop-mastered, coordinated, marketed, and now perform this show all by ourselves is pretty remarkable.  

It kinda goes without saying, but I could not have done it without Anne and Jeff.  I would never have had the guts to do this myself.  To even think I could do it myself.  I'm really grateful that they asked me to join them on this adventure.

Alright that's it for now.  I'm sleepy and I'm not sure there's a clear direction to this yarn I'm writing.  So good night for now.  Love to all.

P.S. - How many of these Macbook Photo Booth pictures do you think I can post here before it gets really annoying?

Friday, August 15, 2008


I think that's a lovely way to put it.

So you regular readers may have noticed that my quote-unquote review section has undergone some changes.  After the incident described in my post "Instant Karma" below, I made changes to the column to reflect what I would actually say to a performer in person.  Because anything I wouldn't say to someone's face must surely be born of my own ego desiring to be clever.

But today I had an encounter with another lovely young performer who'd I previously noted eyeing me on the streets, and whom I therefore suspected of also having read my column.  I was grateful to speak to her, to apologize, and to tell her I hadn't been acting out of my best self.  And in that conversation, she put it perfectly -- it's unsportsmanlike.  And I agree.

So it's come down, the column.   And my apologies to anyone else who Googled themselves and found me on the other end behaving poorly.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I had been wanting to share mine.  But it was a poor choice all things considered, even if I only thought the blog was being read by my parents and friends

It's been an interesting week.  Especially for someone who absolutely cannot stand to have people dislike me!  But I'm grateful for the lesson. 

I can hear my brother smiling with a gentle " I told you so."  Love you, too.


PS - And now I have to dash out and flyer some more!  I only came back to grab some more buttons to give out, but couldn't resist taking down the column immediately and writing this!  Again -- can't stand people disliking me!  Must correct immediately!  Ahhh, Anna.  Ain't it fun being human?

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Been a rough pair of days these last 48 hours.  Two tough audiences, two not so great reviews, no sleep -- not a great combination.

But you know what?

I'm in Scotland, yo!  And it's beautiful here.  And I get to do what I love -- perform -- every day.  And the very first comedy show I've ever written has gotten some good props.  And these past two days aside, we've had great audiences.  And thanks to the generosity of many supporters, I am one of very few performers who will not leave here in debt.  Life is good!

So thank you supporters, thank you friends, thank you universe.  I'm a lucky girl.

Lucky girls.

This kitty apparently sits on this step every day, all day, according to a local passerby.

View from South Bridge near our house.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Oh my goodness, you can't freaking win.  Fest Mag gives us two stars.  But the review makes me laugh as they still compliment some of our sketches and performances, incorrectly attribute the writing entirely to Jeff (second review to do this), and misidentify me as Anne Teutschel.  

On the other hand, the lovely Groggy Squirrel of Australia recommends our show for any watcher of the Daily Show.  

I've always loved squirrels.

Instant Karma

Well, I'm moritifed.  It happened.  I've been called out.  Discovered, exposed, unmasked, revealed.  "J'accuse!" is ringing in my ear.  I dared to venture into the Dark Side, and it has bitten me soundly on the ass.

Here I am thinking the only people who are reading this blog are related to me by blood or by  other common traumatic experience, such as college, or grad school, or Dr. Thornberg's 10th grade chemistry class.  (Actually, I'm pretty sure those really are the only people read my blog.  I use StatCounter, I know the numbers.  But let me continue.)  Little do I realize that there are other performers here at the Fringe who engage in the same obsessive behavior I do, which is to Google one's own show on a horrifyingly regular basis.   I, myself, Google The Americans at least a half-dozen times a day.  I wouldn't accuse anyone else of being nearly so vain.

I think you can see where this is heading.

There I am at the Loft Bar -- the VIP bar at my venue -- when I recognize a gentleman who I'd met in passing and whose show I'd recently seen.  I hailed to him across the room, told him I liked his show, and he replied with, "Oh no you didn't, I read your blog."

Now, if you listen closely dear reader, you can hear the sound of my brother's head hanging in shame, and my father trying to hide himself under a couch cushion.

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I spent the next hour reeling in hideous, appalling humiliation.  Happily, that hour and the next few were also spent in lovely, engaging conversation with said performer who could not have been more gracious and forgiving under the circumstances.  (Gracious and forgiving -- like he really cared all that deeply about what some chick wrote on her blog.  Still.)

This terrible experience has naturally led me to question whether I shouldn't just take my lumps, call it a lesson learned, and pull the review column all together.  After all, here I am dishing out "S'okays" to top-rated shows when my own humble offering has not yet broken (and might not ever) the ever-so-important four star mark.  However, when I proclaimed my intention for removing the reviews, Mr. Gracious Performer insisted I refrain, even going so far as to tell me I had integrity -- presumably because I'd readily and sincerely discussed with him my reasons for not giving his show high marks.  Nice of him to say.  I still wanted to redeem my shabby karma by their immediate removal.

All the same, at the end of the evening and for the moment, the reviews stay.  After all, I did have the instinct (and vanity -- it's a theme in this post) to share my opinions with the blogosphere in the first place, so until such time as I can give the whole matter further thought, the reviews stay.  However, you will now note, I have made some alterations to the review column:  all reviews are now prefaced with the disclaimer that, "I am just a git."

I wish Broadway Baby would have done us the same courtesy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

America Ferrera

Okay, people.  Now that I have you all in a captive audience, I'm going to show you something.  This is for all you non-believers out there:

I do SO look like America Ferrera.  And I KNOW I'm skinnier than her blah blah blah, but she still looks like me.  And if you knew me ten years ago you'd say we were freaking twins.  Here's the proof:

And in other news, it's raining and we had a horrible audience.  Tonight I'm working my batting my eyelashes skills in the late night clubs, at the behest of our PR guy.  Apparently we're not "hanging out" enough.  So tonight we're "hanging out."  All for the love of theater.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More Fringe Photos

Gilded Balloon - my venue

Flyers adorn construction fencing

High Street

Performer from the Aluminum Show at Fringe Sunday

Street Performer at Fringe Sunday

Performer and his Yak

Crowd surrounding some kick ass loud Scottish drumming and bagpiping outside my window

Jeff and Anne outside Gilded

Me outside the apartment

Catherine, daughter of two performers in the Rule of Three, wearing her parents' flyer as a hat

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Reviews, news, the New Zoo Review

Does anyone besides my mother remember The New Zoo Review?  Giant hippo, giant owl, Gary Gnu -- any gnews is good gnews with Gary Gnu?  

So this is what I got:

News: Our show getting filmed today for inclusion in some Fringe "channel" on The YouTube; interview with Fresh Air tomorrow -- although it's not the cool NPR show, but a Scottish radio show of the same name.

Zoo:  This place is a zoo.  In a delightful way, for the most part.  Our apartment is right across the street from a cool pub called the Tron.  Great place to hang out, have a pint of Magners, and some "healthy option" lasagne that comes smothered in cheese.  But it also tends to spill out masses of loud, rowdy Scottishmen at about five in the morning, who invariably begin reenacting some famous football (soccer) play or engage in a complex singing cheer with many verses.  I have earplugs so I actually find it endearing.  

Review: Three stars from Three Weeks, a rather big publication here.  You may recall that recently I've been sweating my performance and feeling I'd lost the funny in my "Emancipation" scene.  Which I still think is true.  But then this eff-er comes along and says my character has the best lines and that "Emancipation" is the strongest bit of the show.  I'll never understand this business, so why do I keep trying?  Full review is here today, Saturday the 9th, and here after today.  You're looking for Issue 07 from Friday 8th August.  Don't you love how Europeans do dates?

And P.S. - I guess it says something about my continued innocence in adulthood that I was so surprised and disappointed about John Edwards's affair.  Geez Louise.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lest you think I'm only going to blog about the good ones

Here's our second review in, from Broadyway Baby.  Two stars.  Sigh.  Although the review does call it a "laugh-out-loud script," which is a good quote to pull out and staple to our flyers.  Screw your two stars, Mr. Reviewer Who Uses Mean Review Titles, we will still use your words to get people to our show! :)

(In all honesty, it's a reasonable critique.  He more or less nailed what we were offering, and he was interested in a little more.  Fair enough.)

And now we move on....

Morning meditation

It's 10:20am.  I've been up for a little over an hour and a half.  Went to bed early last night after a long day of flyering in the rain.  I was chilled to the bone.

I have my coffee and I'm lying with my head propped up on a pillow in my bright bedroom.  I came in here to try to conserve some energy.  It's very easy to get oneself whipped up into a frenzy here, what with the whole city full of ambitious, passionate performers all trying to get noticed, to impress.  It's why I'm here too.  But whipped up energy isn't good for performing, and it's not good for the soul, at least not when it's unrelenting.  And it's been unrelenting
 lately.  So I'm here, in my bright bedroom, sipping my coffee, and blogging to you all, trying (so far unsuccessfully) to create some peace of mind.

I'll try to frame it for myself like a Buddhist might:  What a great opportunity this is to practice keeping oneself centered and present amid all this chaos.  What a great opportunity to practice remaining with myself, rather than succumbing to more dominant energies.  To practice breathing.  To practice feeling my feet on the earth.  To practice being here, now, in this very moment.  And in this very moment.  And in this one.

I am going to have fun today on stage.  I'm going to explore.  I'm going to be in this very moment and the next.  I am going to play without concern for result.  I am going to be aware of myself, my fellow performers, and every person in the room, and I am going to respond in the moment to what I hear from all of us.  I am going to be present and enjoy.

Hope you all are enjoying your mornings, wherever you are...


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We like to believe they are stingy with stars

Because we got three out of five.  Four would have been nicer.  But check out the glowing review from Metro UK, reprinted in full below but found online here:

Can the family survive the therapy in The Americans?

by NADINE MCBAY - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Americans

It's crunch time in the American household. Mom Liberty has been racking up the therapy bills, while daughter Mary is only off her iPhone when she's ordering designer bags and prescription drugs online.

As head of the family, dad Sam needs to put his foot down and declare a 'war on debt'. A punchy multimedia sketch show parodying US political culture, The Americans is written and performed by New York-based actors Anne Teutschel, Anna Moore and Jeff Kreisler (the last a Comedy Central writer who won the Bill Hicks Spirit award for his own stand-up).

With something of the irreverence of American Dad and the borderline slapstick of Mr Show, the three Americans don't just represent the stereotypical US family, they are ciphers for the competing claims on the nation's future. With the patriotic father holding the reins, the spendthrift females are kept in check by the fear of imminent attack or being sent to the 'Basementanemo'.

Oddly, though the family budget has been slashed, there's still enough to fund a new security system and in-house CCTV.

Though more Daily Show-style satirical than laugh-out-loud hilarious, the Americans succeeds in being a colourful and engaging portrait of our stateside cousins.

Until Aug 25 (not 11), Gilded Balloon Teviot (V14), 3pm.

How excited am I that they compared our show to American Dad, Mr. Show, and The Daily Show???

I'm only happy when it rains

Good song, but not remotely true of me.

Rain, rain, go away.  First day in Scotland where it's been nonstop rain.  The festival is quite another animal on days like this.  For one thing, the streets are practically empty, save for the sorry lot who are out flyering for the livelihoods.  We were lucky enough to avoid being among that sorry lot as our venue (the Gilded Balloon) is one of the "big four" at the Fringe, with many venues in one building along with various cafes and bars.  So we were able to flyer indoors to folks eager to stay sheltered once they arrived.  

As a result, our show was pretty well attended and they seemed to enjoy themselves as well.  Anne, Jeff, and I felt great about the performance -- more relaxed and present than other recent shows -- and our tech person Laura collected many "excellents" and "really enjoyed its" from folks as they exited.

I'm a bit nervous though because we have our first big review coming out soon.  The reviewer was in yesterday with one of our less lively crowds, for a performance when I felt I was pushing a bit.  I'm tripping on it a bit, convinced I'll be humiliated.  Typical actor insecurities.

Some pics for you.  This first one is of a sign on a bus shelter:

What is anti-climb paint?  Kinda asks to be tested, don't you think?

The view from near Princes Street reminds me of San Francisco.  Fuzzy pic.

Your ever humble blogger.  Thanks for reading everyone.   

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This has nothiing to do with the Fringe, I just love this picture.  It accompanied an article explaining that hopes for the gorilla species' survival have been boosted with the discovery of 125,000 lowland gorillas living in the Congo.  That little baby gorilla seems to be celebrating his existence.

And in fringe news, some of my blog posts have been republished at The Scotsman online -- but good luck finding it, their site is a mess.  No worries because you read them here.  But if you'd like to see my name in cyberlights (that would be you, Mom) try this one:

Show was good today, but a bit of a quiet audience.  More out-loud laughers in the front row though...

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Dip

I was once told that on a three week road trip, in the first week, everything's grand, you're on an adventure, excitement runs high.  In the second week, you're tired, you're crabby, you hate everyone, and you just want to be pampered.  In the final week, you let go, relax, and become one with the transient nature of life.

This is the beginning of the second week.

Show was a bit off today.  We seemed to be rushing, or off, or otherwise not quite present.  In my three-part "Emancipation" scene, in which I'm the focal character, I could tell I had lost them.  And it wasn't just because I could hear crickets.  

And yet, there were still plenty of laughs overall.  I think that's a testament to our writing that even in when the scene is falling flat, eventually we get to a line that's sure-fire, we get a big laugh, and are buoyed again.  So I'm proud of that.

Less proud of the crickets.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Opening Day

Official opening day of the Fringe and feeling fine.  

Another great show with a big audience and lots of laughs.  Not sure where the swell in audience is coming from -- be it flyering, 2 for 1 (which would only account for today's audience not yesterday's), the weekend, or simply more Fringe-goers arriving -- but I'll take it.  People seem to be enjoying it.  Had a couple groups tell our tech person on the way out that the show was terrific and that they'd be sure to see Jeff's stand-up too.  And we overheard from backstage some Scots in the front row saying, "It was really good, wasn't it?  Really well done." 

What does it say about me that I keep thinking these are people paid to say these things within earshot?

Oh and apparently I have a fan who told our tech person, "tell that one girl in the blue dress she's hot."  Nice.  It must be the silver spandex.

So guess what?

Apparently the Fringe doesn't even start until tomorrow.  What the eff?  Here I am feeling like a war-hardened veteran already, and the Fringe hasn't even begun.  

Our show today was awesome.  Our biggest house yet, reaching into the previously untouched back sections of the house -- and all people paying full-price tickets!  There was a guy right in the front row who was laughing so hard at everything I wondered if he'd been paid by our PR guy.  But no, Jeff spoke with him after the show.  He just loved the show.  Yeah!  That's right.  Unnnhhh.

Anne, Jeff, and I are still trying to work out the most efficient flyering strategies.  So far the three of us have been working High Street (seen above), which is a pedestrian only street that is at the heart of the Fringe, and floods with people, street performers, barkers, and the like.  So far it's been pretty manageable but supposedly the return on investment starts petering out after a while as it gets harder and harder to distinguish oneself from the crowd.  Still, it's right around the corner from our house, so I figure we'll stick with it for a while.

I'm having fun tweaking the show each day, trying to maximize laughs, find new bits and character nuance.  It's been great for me to learn about comedy this way, on my feet.  After all, this is more or less my first foray into it. Can't wait to see where we end up at the end of the run, to see how much the show has grown.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Who is that crazy girl?

Okay munchkins,

For those of you who missed it, our BBC segment can be found online here:

Short segment, Jeff's in it a bunch and I'm featured towards the end.  I look like a crazed monkey.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Bleary at 2am

Broke the seal tonight, i.e. first night ingesting beer and wine.  Had fun at a couple different parties, saw some funny acts, shmoozed with fellow performers, witnessed many stumbling Scots.  It's going to be a great month.

You know who they have a lot of here in Scotland?  They have a lot of shaggy haired, horn-rimmed glasses, skinny jeans, hipster-looking men and women in their 20s.  It's like Williamsburg with accents.  But cooler because I don't think anyone's trying to be ironic.  Or perhaps that's just my naive, untrained, 'Merican eyes.

We've got duelling laptops every day here.  Except there are three of us.  Is that trilling laptops?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Set your Tivos, DVRs, and (poor you) VCRs

To BBC America, Friday Aug 1st, 7pm EST and 4pm PST for the BBC America World News Hour.

Supposedly there will be a segment on the Edinburgh Fringe during that broadcast that will hopefully feature some footage from our show! The shoot went well but there's no telling if they'll really use us, but I think the content of our scene was right on target for there, "American Comedy after George Bush" theme.

If the segment doesn't air on that broadcast, don't worry. I'm sure it will end up online somewhere and I'll try to track it down.

Here's some pics from the shoot. We're in costume. My thighs look AWESOME.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A very good day.

Woke up at 8:45am.  Feeling somewhat rested.  Jet lag is improving.  Ate cereal while reading Vanity Fair.  Showered and headed to the venue, picking coffee up on the way.  Tech run-thru went well.

12pm.  Flyered along High Street, a.k.a. The Royal Mile, for the next two hours.  Exhausting stuff.  Retired to apartment at 1pm.  Did I say two hours flyering?  Must have been one.  Felt like more.

Ate Starbucks sandwich, cat-napped for 20 minutes, got ready for show.

3pm.  Our show begins.  Awesome crowd.  We decided to paper the show, i.e. give away free tickets to help generate word of mouth.  Good decision, at least as far as the performance is concerned.  Got tons of laughs, including lots of new laughs from the for-the-Brits jokes.  Our for-the-Americans jokes got laughs too.  Forty-five minutes later, we take our bows.

4pm.  Post-show debrief then back to the house.  Body tired.  

6pm.  Summon energy to go grocery shopping.  Will have to make do with Scottish milled "porridge oats".  I'm sure they are just like Quaker but I'm suspicious.  Blueberries and walnuts look good though.

7pm.  Hang around house b-s-ing with Anne and Jeff.  We're feeling great about our show.  Up top.

8pm.  Pasta e fagioli and bad wine for dinner.

9:30pm.  See our technician's husband in comedy show.  Laugh a lot.  Emcee flirts with the pretty Americans forced to sit in the front row.  (The pretty Americans are me and Anne.)

11:40pm.  Blogging about my good day.  Tomorrow we're taping a scene from our show for the BBC and are getting interviewed for a segment on what will happen to comedy in the post-George Bush era.  What was that?  Oh yes, that's right, I'm being TAPED AND INTERVIEWED by the BBC.  I'm sure it's less exciting than it sounds, but still.  In the evening, we're splitting time between our venue's Press Party, and two "it" parties we got invites to.  I am so on the scene.  I wonder if I'll fool anyone into thinking I'm cool.

Love to all,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Couple Pics

Right outside our apartment:

Around the corner:

This is what Leslie would call Self-Care

Turns out that even better than cheese and caffeine is water and exercise.  Who would have thunk it?  Went for a run this evening along a beautiful cliffside-looking mountain.  Just what the doctor ordered.  Made my vertigo-like symptoms of jetlag disappear.  Now I just need to cement the goodness with an Alexander laydown before bed and a long, restful sleep.  And morning pages when I wake up.

In other news, the sun showed up today in full force.  Followed by a torrential downpour.  Followed by a rainbow.

I wish I had a picture of the rainbow.  Instead, I have a picture of Anne and I in front of the Walter Scott Monument on Princes Street.

Tomorrow morning we have a tech run-through, then we're out flyering for our first preview performance at 3pm.  Cross fingers for us and send us good vibes!


And P.S. --

Anne is totally using British inflection when she asks questions here.  Good to know I'm not the only mimic here.

I am uber jet-lagged

I think we worked it out -- in the past 48 hours, we've had about 8 hours sleep.  For those of you that know me well, and most of you do, you know this is not a good thing.  I've also ingested a lot of cheese in the past 24 hours, and even more caffeine.  So let's just say I'm really looking forward to shopping for some fruit and greens and oatmeal and then crawling under the covers until morning.

Managed to score one more tech rehearsal tomorrow morning.  It helps that we are nice folk who give our venue technician gifts like chocolate croissants.  So we'll be able to a get a full run in before we have a (probably small) audience tomorrow night.

It's getting exciting.  Met all the nice people at our venue -- press folk, box office folk, tech folk -- as well as some fellow performers.  I think it's going to be a good month.

Gotta go buy a cell phone, and some veggies.


Monday, July 28, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed

So here I am in Edinburgh.  Finally.  Our flight was delayed about five hours.  I didn't even know they let planes take off at 2:30 in the morning.  Needless to say, I'm in a bit of a daze.  Thanks to Anne's Tylenol PM, I got some good hours sleep on the plane.  But then once we arrived, and had to hustle our stuff to our apartment and try to catch the last few minutes of our tech rehearsal, I was surprised how much I was struggling to find nouns or focus my eyes.  I figured it was just bad jet-lag -- until I realized I hadn't had my morning coffee.  That was quickly remedied, and wow I'm such an addict.  Within minutes I was right as rain.

So now I'm sitting in our apartment, which is a very cute little flat right in the historical center of the city, where all the Fringe madness is situated.  An extremely convenient location.  

In one respect, Edinburgh is very much like home.  A familiar-feeling city to any American thanks to the Starbucks, Subways, and Pizza Huts that are scattered about.  However if you tilt your head up, you see gorgeous stone architecture looming above these commercial outposts and you realize you are indeed abroad, and in a very beautiful and historical spot.

The weather is indeed schizophrenic, as we were forewarned.  When we arrived at our apartment it was sunny and a bit warm.  After lugging our heavy suitcases up three flights of stairs and quickly changing clothes, we headed out of the apartment not 15 minutes later and the fog had rolled in.  An hour later it was freezing.  Kind of like living in the Inner Richmond I think.  My brother-in-law would love it here.

The next 24 hours are going to be a doozy.  Thanks to our delayed flight, we missed most of our first tech rehearsal, but our second one is tonight at midnight.  Then our final tech is tomorrow morning.  The rest of the day will be about acclimating, getting a UK phone, finding groceries -- I hope I can have my oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts every morning! -- and resting up.  First preview is Wednesday.  Fingers crossed.

Speaking of resting up, I'm going to see if I can grab a power nap before we meet with our tech person.  Right as rain has deteriorated into biz-hausted.

We have a show blog now too, fyi.

Later skaters,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Edinburgh Bound!

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm packing in my apartment in NYC.  Haven't showered yet, as you can tell from my pic (thanks MacBook Pro!).  My flight leaves tonight at 10pm and at 10am GST tomorrow, I will arrive in Edinburgh.  And the adventure begins!

I'm excited, a little bit nervous, and mostly curious to see how these next few weeks of my life will turn out.  I can't wait to work the show in front of an audience and see what kind of response we get across the pond.  I'm really proud of the work we've done.  I love our show.  It makes me laugh and I think it's really smart, thoughtful, fun, and funny.  Hopefully others will think the same, but all I really care about at the moment is that I love it.  That's all that matters.  Of course, that's what I say now.  Talk to me in a week if all we get are crickets in the audience.  Nah, bite my tongue!  It ain't gonna happen.

Okay, gotta get back to packing.  Check in here over the next month to read more of my ramblings and thoughts.  (This pic is where I'm headed, btw.)  Hopefully I'll get fancy with more pics and even video blogs too.  Love to all of you and thanks for all your support!