I’m sorry I haven’t updated much since the switch to the new site. I’ve been that killer combo of busy/lazy. I’m getting up to lots of mischief, however, not least of which is my imminent decamping northwards, to take my first ever solo show, Tim Clare’s Death Drive, to the Edinburgh Fringe. ‘But what is this “poetry” business?’ I hear you mutter in a petulant undertone. Well, let me educate you. If you or anyone you know is thinking of heading to the Fringe this August, here are five shows with poems in that you MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE. Or that I think you’ll enjoy.
1. JOHN COOPER CLARKE
I had the privilege of supporting Johnny at the Norwich Arts Centre earlier this year, and – as those lucky enough to catch him at Latitude last weekend will testify – crikey, the Bard of Salford’s on top form. ‘No nonsense and exquisitely crafted’ sounds like a contradiction in terms, but somehow his verse manages to combine entertainingly rococco language with big, belly-laugh punchlines. Expect vintage stand-up, bags of charisma, and an audience crammed with devotees. You might like to check out this recent article in Fest, where JCC, Tim Key and I talk about the links between stand-up and poetry: http://fest.theskinny.co.uk/article/99678-ode-to-joy
2. THE THREE STIGMATA OF PACMAN
Ross is already something of a Fringe veteran, having appeared in several Aisle16 shows, but 2010 marks his solo debut. The 3 Stigmata Of Pacman is the story of his doomed attempts to meddle with time, as he struggles to understand the past and warn the people of the future. Combining poetry with films, pictures, animations and music, it takes you on a very cool, very funny journey. If Armando Iannucci accidentally locked himself inside a nuclear bunker for twenty years, this is the show he’d debut upon his emergence. If you can’t wait till Edinburgh (or, more likely, you’re not going) then you can catch me and Ross previewing our shows in a double bill this coming Tuesday, at CB2 in Cambridge. Details here.
3. WHENEVER I GET BLOWN UP I THINK OF YOU
I’ve just finished the second of two previews sharing a bill with Molly Naylor and her debut Edinburgh show, Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think Of You. It’s the true story of how she escaped her little home town for the bright lights of London, only to find herself on one of the trains that was blown up in the 7/7 bombings. What, in less skilled hands, could be a very depressing or – worse – emotionally manipulative story proves to be utterly compelling and yes, at times, funny. I’ve watched it twice now and both times I was gripped from start to finish. Here’s her talking about it in The List.
4. DEAD POETS
Psst! This is my hot tip for this year’s Fringe. I watched Mark Grist and MC Mixy rock the Poetry Arena at Latitude this year and they were one of my favourite acts of the festival. Their show is about whether a schoolteacher poet and hip-hop artist can learn to see eye to eye, and it’s witty, fast-paced and cracking fun. They recently did a UK tour and already count Stephen Merchant as a member of their growing fanbase. They’re on as part of PBH’s Free Fringe every lunchtime, so you’ve got no excuse not to check it out for yourselves.
5. TIM CLARE’S DEATH DRIVE
Obvs I want you to come and see my show, which is the true story of how a father-son suicide pact helped shock me out of my misery. There’s poetry, ukulele, and a psychic horse. I’m not a very credible advocate of my own work, so here’s some lovely things other people have said about me, bless ’em:
‘absolutely brilliant… mesmerising’ – Jon Ronson
‘hilarious’ – Lauren Laverne
‘shrewd and funny’ – The Scotsman
‘a rip-roaringly funny and uplifting stand-up show’ – EDP
‘Clare sparkled with a poignant wit that was harsh in its honesty yet charmingly cute… cracking with a big black comical C’ ***** – Latest 7
It’s being made possible partly by the Arts Council and the Escalator East To Edinburgh scheme so, um, thanks chaps. They obviously think I’m all right too. All the self-promotional bombast aside though, lots of people have put a lot of effort into helping me take my first show to the Fringe, and I’ve put in a lot of hard work too, so I really hope people come to see me. I’m dead nervous, and I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has already come to a preview. I’ve had some really nice audiences and I feel super geed-up. If you’re heading up to the Fringe, I’ll be over the moon if you decide to come check out my show, and if you know someone else who’s planning on hitting Edinburgh in August, why not suggest they try out one of the shows I’ve mentioned? They’ll think you’re all arty.