Archive of entries posted on

We Can’t All Be Astronauts – Extract and Competition

Oooooh! Guess what space cadets? Ugh. Okay, that made me a little bit sick in my mouth. Note to self: don’t use chipper wankerisms like ‘space cadets’ ever, ever again. So, in any case, hello undifferentiated morass. With just over a month to go, there’s a short sneak preview from We Can’t All Be Astronauts […]

The Performance Poet Interviews – #10: Elvis McGonagall

Oh my goodness. What a busy bee I am this week. And yet apparently making as much impact on my workload as an actual bee. They’re not even heavy enough to operate a keyboard. So, look. Why not read this week’s performance poet interview, with the very witty, very tartan Elvis McGonagall? How did you […]

Bangor, Wales

Coming in on the train to Bangor, you get this deliciously precarious sense of teetering on the edge of the world. With the Menai Straits on one side and the looming, mist-weathed Bangor Mountain and its foothills on the other, the UK’s fourth smallest city feels particularly wee, a temporary resident in a bold and […]

Death Of An Open Mic

As I’ve intimated before, open mic nights are rare, transient things. Not quite a century flower, more a colleague’s fart that topples a polystyrene cup. In Shepherd’s Bush, I went to the Knock 2 New night at Bar FM, a weirdly clandestine cocktail bar full of leather sofas and disco lights that rolls up its […]

Ren’s Bitter Half

There’s an episode of Ren & Stimpy where Stimpy creates a formula that physically splits psychotic chihuahua Ren into the two sides of his personality – ‘Evil Ren’ and ‘Indifferent Ren’. As my open gigs aggregate like silt, I’m finding I’m not growing more confident, just more indifferent. At my last stand-up gig in Shepherd’s […]

The Performance Poet Interviews – #9: Scroobius Pip

Coo. It’s all go here, isn’t it? We’ve already heard from eight very different performance poets, spraying their opinions everywhere, making jokes, being all arty. This week, pray doff your cap and stroke your beard for Scroobius Pip. How did you get into performance poetry?It was a strange one really. I had been in various […]

We Can’t All Be Astronauts – Launch Parties

Oh look. It’s me with my ridiculous pudgy face, gazing down like a proud father on my very first book. It’s all downhill from here. Thirty years from now, that book will keep a tattered copy of this photo in its shirt pocket, taking it out between slugs of bourbon to stare at my face […]

Knowle, Sunday

After bailing out on Dublin, the only flight I could get that didn’t cost a pillion pounds was back to Bristol, so I thought hey, brill – I’ll go off piste. Having fallen victim to the parlous nature of open mics, it seemed fitting to take advantage of their ad hoc nature, and find one […]

Dining and Cultural Diversity in Dublin

On Friday in Dublin, I was all geed up to go to another stand-up open mic, slur an adequate routine then do the rounds of the night, harvesting real human beings who I could twist and compress into grotesque caricatures before installing them in a barbarous freak gallery known only as ‘The Project’. I checked […]

Off To A Bad Shart – Dublin

I am a good man. A good, clean, nice man. I deserve your respect just like anyone else. Please remember that as you read on. I sat on a metal bench on the platform in Cambridge, waiting for my train to Stansted. With my huge rucksack strapped to my back, there was barely any room […]

The Performance Poet Interviews – #8: Salena Godden

After a week off due to me fannying about the UK feeling all whimsical and introspective, flipping off beggars then getting poorly, pray doff your hats for the triumphant return of The Performance Poet Interviews. At least it’s not me having opinions for once, thank whatever interventionist deity presides over blogging (probably some sort of […]

Open Bleugh

So, if you’ve been following this blog, you may have wondered about the distinct lack of open mic related updates. Am I keeping them secret? What’s going on? The fact is, for the past few days, I’ve been laid up in bed, at home, with a heavy cold. My head’s been pounding, I’ve felt groggy […]

Belfast, Friday 10th April

So, after a Facebook invite from Marcus Keeley, I flew over to Belfast to join in with the Make Yourself Heard open mic at the Safehouse Arts Centre. When I got into my taxi from the airport, the cab driver said: ‘It’s been a strange day. First it was sunny, then it was raining, now […]

Bleugh Deux

So, it turns out that getting sod all sleep while eating badly and subjecting oneself to repeated major stressors isn’t that good for the old immune system. My sore throat has snowballed into a hacking cough and headache. But will I surrender? No! At least, not quite yet. Chatting with my dad on the phone […]

Wigan, April 9th – Write Out Loud

I woke up in Liverpool with a hangover, crammed all my stuff back into my massive Sherpa rucksack, then staggered out to catch a bus to Lime Street station, where I caught the train to Wigan. I was in such a rush that I didn’t bother booking a hotel, thinking that Wigan would be overflowing […]

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love To Bomb

Funny thing happened to me tonight in Liverpool. I bombed. Rawhide Raw is a stand-up gong show. I met up with Nick Holloway early in the afternoon, and somehow I couldn’t resist drinking before my gig. I watched act after act die on its arse and thus smugly believed I could cruise through my set. […]

Happy Happy Joy Joy

It’s odd how different an experience can feel from the inside than the outside. I’m less than a week into my Open Mic pilgrimage and already I’ve lost all objectivity and feel thoroughly baffled and sorry for myself. As anybody who has known me for a while will know, I’ve periodically suffered from bouts of […]

Monday 6th April

On Monday, I went to Spoonful Of Poison at The Legion in Shoreditch. The night’s compered by ‘Vis the Spoon’ – he’s got a frenetic, noisy, funny compering style that suits the night perfectly, and an awesome quiff. The acts are put on an egg timer that rings when their time’s up. Most people I […]

King Gong at the Comedy Store in Manchester, Sunday Apr 5th

25 acts, and a big gong. King Gong at Manchester’s Comedy Store in Deansgate. If you survive the full 5 minute slot, you get to come back to do a final minute at the end of the show, then the winner gets £50 and an open slot at the club. Here’s the stage before anyone’s […]

Glasgow, Saturday 4th April

This is Derek, in the Winter Gardens at Bards in the Park, playing an improvised recorder piece to start the readings: And this is an arena for pillow-fighting in my wonderful, genial hosts’ – Colin, Irene and Paul – back garden: That was the kind of ‘supportive with a sense of humour’ atmosphere they had […]

Manchester, Friday Apr 3rd

This is me upstairs at Mother Mac’s, the pub hosting the second of the two stand-up open mics I performed at on Friday. And this is the heaving throng dutifully watching me as I took the previous shot. Look at them grinning. Their low entertainment threshold shall be the ruin of us all. If you […]

The Start Of Open Season

Score: 0 out of 250Photographer Status: Helen KellerJob Classes –Lv25 Performance PoetLv1 Stand-upLv1 Music So, I started off on Thursday 2nd April in my current hometown of Cambridge, at Upbeat Open Mic at The Hopbine. Up until a fortnight before, it had been held in The Zebra, but when the landlady decided she could draw […]

Dear Angel Lady

I read this letter in the March issue of Chat – it’s fate, on ‘Angel Lady’ Jacky Newcomb’s advice page: DEAR ANGEL LADYI’ve recently become interested in angels and began exploring various books and magazines to learn as much as I could. I was excited to discover that our angels each have a name, and […]

The Performance Poet Interviews – #7: Ross Sutherland

It’s that time of week again. While I lie, sleepless, in my sickbed, clutching at the thick air and phasing in and out of languid fever dreams, you get to enjoy the erudite opining of Ross Sutherland. How did you get into performance poetry? I’ve written poetry since I was five. My gran and I […]