Sam Freeman

Theatre | Comedy | Marketing

Category: Comment (page 1 of 4)

Another week of Sam Freeman’s life

I’ve not written a proper “bloggy” post, I realised earlier today, for quite a while. I’ve tended to focus on things with actual purpose or focus, you know things like “my thoughts on marketing” or the classic “please come and see my show on Wednesday at 7pm at 81 Renshaw Street in Liverpool“.

I thought I’d try and avoid that today. Avoid it and simply talk about what goes through my head.

I appreciate that these sorts of blog posts are incredibly self indulgent and if you’re not a fan of that, well, tune out now.  I’ve bullet pointed all of these because, well, there’s clearly no good narrative structure or theme to link these together and it seemed easier. I’ve also added headings, because, well, I’m a writing legend who fundamentally understands that things need a break and clear markers.

  • Petits Filous are overrated
    For years I’ve believed that these tiny pots are full of yogurty joy, tiny foil sealed parcels of dairy filled delight. They’re not. They’re slightly shit, underflavoured shittubs of underwelming and often separating (what is that water on top?!?) disappointment. They’re not good because they sound slightly French, if you need that get a Creme Caramel.
  • Atomic Blonde, Fortitude and True Detective Season One are good, Fantastic Four is dogshit.
    I went to the cinema to see Atomic Blonde with super-low expectations, fully expecting a style over substance film with an obvious pull back and reveal at the end. It almost is all those things, but it’s saved by stylish cinematography, a stunning performance by Charlize Theron and a script that gives enough while never feeling rushed. I’ve also been watching Fortitude and True Detective again, both of which reminded me that the slow burn drama can be as watchable and compelling as shows with dragons. Then I watched the 2015 film of The Fantastic Four which, after a relatively good opening 30mins then spends the remainder of the film pissing on what had the potential to be an interesting franchise, undoubtedly there will be a follow up out soon.
  • I’m not ready for suburbia, I am ready for suburbia.
    I looked at a couple of houses this week in Bromborough and Bebington. We’ve been pondering moving towards the Wirral for a while, essentially we want a garden and a house less ridden with issues. I find myself at a weird point, I definitely don’t want to live in the centre of a city, but nor do I want to live in suburbia where the first thing estate agents tell you is the quality of the schools and the fact that the conservatory is great for entertaining. No it isn’t. So I think we’re settling on a different house that doesn’t make me actively sad.
  • Opinions
    I’ve been struck this week as to how irregularly I actually give my opinion. I am constantly tailoring my responses to make them “appropriate” to the context, but increasingly to prevent people from thinking I’m a massive dickhead.  I find myself softening what I say to avoid other people feeling bad, or, more regularly, so that I don’t sound like a cock (it’s all about me, I’m incredibly egocentric). I guess it’s a good thing, looking out for people’s feelings but at the same time I feel a frustration of holding back constantly (also that people must think I’m very inoffensive). But then noone likes a smartarse and if we spend the small amount of time in this world being disliked then life is going to go downhill mighty quickly. Swings & roundabouts.
  • We don’t all age at the same rate
    I have days where I wonder if I should be doing the grown up thing with my life like many of my contemporaries, birthing a mortgage, buying a child and getting walls I can paint and get insurance for; classic grown up fare. Then I have days where I notice that in many ways I’m more grown up than other people I know. Finally I think, does it actually matter. So long as you’re happy and non-regretful is there a right or wrong, or don’t we find that out until we’re sat alone in 40 years time wondering why we didn’t do things earlier.
  • Jogging hurts but makes you feel better
    We’ve been going jogging. 20 minutes every 3 days after which I feel like I’ve been brutally assaulted. However I’ve found it has made me a bit more chipper, so maybe exercise is the answer. Either that or an inhaler filled with endorphines. Maybe a little less painful.
  • Being a bit sad is okay
    I feel sad sometimes and it feels like a terrible thing to actually say. Now please don’t think I’m depressed, I’m not, it’s just I find myself getting waves of sadness that I can’t attribute to anything in particular. They go quite quickly and, y’know what, I wonder if, for me, they’re actually a good thing, I wonder if it’s a sign of conflict, ambition, of living life’s spectrum, or as a moment to search for something. I also wonder how many people also get it and are told that it’s terrible and that becomes more than what it is. I don’t know.
  • I’d like a dog but I don’t know my motivation for wanting one.
    I like dogs and while I’m not in the situation to have a dog I can’t decide where my increasing like of dogs comes from. Is is the 10 week old Golden Retriever puppy that now lives next door? Is it the adorable greyhounds at work that are very gentle and soft. Was it the 5 month old Welsh Terrier puppy under our table when we went for food. Or is it, just maybe, the constant indoctrination from my girlfriend with videos of puppies being adorable.

That’s it really, as always if you want to comment below (unless you’re Russian wanting me to buy viagra, seriously stop adding comments) then please do, and if you’re in Liverpool on Wednesday at 7pm with nothing to do come see my show at 81 Renshaw Street. I promise it’ll be okay.

Finally, if you enjoy reading this and would like me to e-mail every so often with things I’m doing then do so by clicking here.
Night x

Resolutions 2017

Regular, loyal readers will know that every year I write 10 New Year’s Resolutions, then, at the end of the year, mark whether I’ve achieved these resolutions and make 10 more. It’s been my version of motivation all-bran – keeping me doing things productive in a world where I own a PS4 and Fifa 17 and there’s a kebab house 3 minutes walk from my front door. It’s also useful in that people read these and, sometimes, when the wind blow the right way, they become collaborative, or, at the very least I’m bullied into doing them where otherwise fear might have held me back.

So enjoy, comment on this post below, tell me yours or offer to collaborate. 2017 is here.

2016 Resolutions

  1. Finish a play and send to theatres and competitions
    DONE! So far 3 rejection letters but fuck it I sent it.
  2. Write and perform an hour long show
    FAIL! I followed up my 2015 epic show with fuck all.
  3. Direct and edit 5 short semi-improvised films
    Semi-Done! I made 10+ videos but they weren’t amazing.
  4. Write a solid 20 stand up set
    DONE! Musical comedy. Of course no-one still books me. But I did it.
  5. Go to Aberystwyth (this is because I’ve been watching Hinterland on BBC and I now want to go to Wales for some inexplicable reason – made even more odd by the fact that everyone in the series is a murderer)
    FAIL! Although I did get a new job in Wales, go to Harlech and Conwy and eat Bara Brith (sp?)
  6. Together with the other members of The Pete Turton Experience, perform a gig.
    FAIL! Pete’s fault.
  7. Write 5 new comedy songs (much reduced ambition).
    DONE with excess!
  8. Continue to do my work podcast (aiming for 20 episodes) but aim to interview: Mark Watson, George Egg, Ben Folds, Will Adamsdale, Dan Bye and Chris Stokes. Listen to it by clicking here.
  9. Run a half marathon (this is in every year and fails epically every year on account of my knee being screwed so I can’t actually run more than a mile…but still, it’s a tradition… see, i even just copy and paste the same tired status now…).
    FAIL – I am so unfit this is now a joke, a tragic joke at the expense of my clogging arteries.
  10. Visit the following people: Bren & Miri, Matt & Dom, Steve and Emily, Suz & Jamie, Dan and Emily, Paul and Fran (and anyone else who requests it!).
    2/6 Which is a poor show..

So there we go, a decidedly average 4/10. However I also moved towns, changed jobs and proved my Maradona style skills at comedians football. But as Newcastle fans will appreciate, we all have a bad year now and then.

2017 Resolutions

  1. Compere a gig regularly and get that key skill back.
  2. Create 5 short videos that are funny and, crucially, good.
  3. Write 10 new comedy songs and assemble them in an album.
  4. Write a new play, about cricket and murder and send to theatres
  5. Write a new hour-long storytelling show and perform it to wild acclaim.
  6. Write a new stand up projection show about truth and perform it to muted acclaim.
  7. Have piano lessons to make my songs better.
  8. Go to Aberystwyth (the new series of Hinterland is due out soon)
  9. Run a half marathon (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)
  10. Visit the following people: Bren & Miri, Matt & Dom, Steve & Emily, Suz & Jamie, Dan & Emily, Paul & Fran, Rachel, Nigel & Holly and Robbie and Mrs Robbie.

So there we have it. Resolutions to be fulfilled and broken.

What are yours?

Arts Marketing: Six things I wish I’d known…

I have been given two pieces of rock solid theatrical advice in the past 15 years and both I’ve used when directing shows. The first was from a now-acclaimed performer and creative who said the key to any show was to “get in quick, say what you have to say concisely and get out quick”. The second was from a brilliant and respected Artistic Director having a flippant moment with the brilliant “audiences will forgive a multitude of sins when you have a nice set”. The first I think applies to much in life and the second when put into the context of me being about to direct a show I’d written, rather galling. Both however were effective and have driven my logic around theatre, firstly that it’s about not wasting time and secondly it’s recognising that theatre is more than the words.

As many people now know I’m leaving Unity Theatre where I have spent the last 6 years as Marketing Manager. Inevitably as I wind down this part of my career to move onto a new and exciting future I start to think about the changes I’ve know, how they’ve effected me and what I wish I’d known 6 years ago when I started. With that in mind I thought I’d write down 6 things, not top tips (I’m not quite that arrogant) that I wish I’d been told at the start. If they’re useful please tweet me or comment at the bottom of the page.

rome-colosseum-1480086-640x480 #1 | Rome wasn’t built in a day
This took me a long time to realise and it only really sank in when Paul Clay, a brilliant arts manager, said it to me. When I started I believed that I could turn everything around in a year, that everything that needed updating, systems replacing and ideas formulating, could be done in 12 short months. It doesn’t work like that. Good change, I think, is built brick by brick and not imported wholesale – especially when your organisation is not overburdened with cash. Unity’s website development took 3 years to reach where it is today – not perfect by a long stretch, but a mile away from where it started. Having a clear idea of the endgame is key, but it has to be tempered with reality. I had a running phrase with one of my Marketing Officers Paul (who is an amazing musician) that “This time next year it’ll all be perfect”. Invariably it wasn’t. We’d reach a year later and yes, by the standards of 12 months ago things had improved, our expectations had risen, meaning that we were looking for the next step rather than taking in the step we’d already taken.

writing-1560276-640x480#2 | There’s rarely a definitive right answer with creative
I once had an argument where another arts marketeer described something I wrote as “awful”. I, internally, described them in slightly less pleasant terms and got wound up by it. There is no definitive rights or wrongs with creative (e.g. images, copy etc…). There are factor that effect its success; whether it speaks to your audience (which is different venue to venue), whether it fits your brand identity etc… but ultimately the mark of success is whether the show sold. I would also be wary of directors, actors and others who tell you that they’re the most qualified to write or create images. As a marketeer we are the ears and eyes of the public – we have to filter through the arts bullshit, through pretention, and find the gems, those bits that will relate to as wide an audience as possible and not just the people who work constantly in the arts, on shows or with other creatives. When you’re being concise and making a strong sell (or invitation) your role is to sell tickets and the brand. It’s okay to say that, well, actually noone has ever bought tickets because of the lighting designer or the DSM apart from family members (sometimes that can also extend to the writer and director) – people want to know what it’s about first, what it says second and who says it third (unless you’ve a star). Bare in mind that even as I write this I can remember exceptions to the rule – so also remain flexible.

As a final aside to this I am also of the opinion that “experience” can also be, on occasion renamed as “baggage”. Also just because you work in marketing or admin makes you no less or more a creative person than anyone who defines themselves as creative – it’s merely that they happen to be being creative differently – if they think they’re better than everyone because of it then be wary (or shoot to kill).

notepad-1192373-639x839#3 | Never be content with the status quo and fail regularly
The point where something needs to be looked at is the point when someone says it doesn’t need to be (and also when they say it does too). There will be a moment when you’ve redone the website, sales are going well, the e-bulletin is hitting, social media is bobbing along and you’ve upgraded everything. Don’t stop. Don’t f**king stop. Start re-examining, don’t be satisfied with where you’re at, look to what’s next. Sometimes you have to experiment to try new things – we discover improvements by failing. If you’re trying new things and failing regularly, so long as you’re learning as you go and implementing those failures it’s no bad thing. Our aim is for long-term success not short-termism. A to-do list can be good for this (but also occasionally soul destroying).

anger-management-1422668-640x480#4 | Management and leadership are different and are not limited to managers and leaders
This is a general thing. Management is about making systems work and managing them – leadership is about having vision, pushing in a direction and taking people with you. This can happen as a CEO or as an usher and anywhere in between. They’re different skill sets and they’re not always in Ben Hur type situations, but recognising these moment and supporting them and when other people are doing them can be really rewarding. Oh an shut up more. Let people talk. I don’t do that enough. Listen then speak. But obviously not everyone at the same time.

owl-chatting-1385170-639x426#5 | Sometimes everyone doesn’t need to give their opinion
Those meetings where we all gather round to chat. It feels lovely and democratic, every opinion is heard, angles looked at. They are useful for an hour maximum – once a year – everyone can have 5 to 10 minutes – but invariably people leave disappointed if you don’t follow the path they suggest. There are things that need group chats and things that don’t – it takes a while to distinguish between the two and sometimes you’ll get it wrong – but I would encourage action in most situations rather than endless debate. Try it, get it wrong, learn from it. It’s faster and while you may occasionally look like a dick so long as you have humility occasionally it’ll be fine. Also, for some things people will never know. Changing how you write a mailing doesn’t need debate, just do it. Worse case scenario is that someone will get pissy with you. They’ll get over it.

the-cliff-1529309-640x480#6 | Have faith
Sometimes we forget we were employed because people believe in us, our skills, our opinions and our ability to make the right decision. I’ve had points where I thought “what the shit am I doing” and “am I making a terrible mistake”. Those doubts are natural. They make you redouble your checks and work harder to make things effective. There will be a point where you’re on the precipice (for me it was a new brochure design and rebranding), you’ve done the work. Jump.

Oh and have a marketing friend or friends. Ideally outside your organisation. Chew the fat with them. I go for cake with the brilliant Sarah Ogle and it’s amazing how just sharing an issue, frustration or an idea can lift a dark cloud or inspire a new thought.

Gig Report – Liverpool Lantern Theatre

So today was the big day, the first work-in-progress performance of the show I’ve been working on for the last 4 months at the lovely Lantern Theatre.

I was feeling pretty nervous about it in the preceding week.

  • Firstly the show was only really finished on Friday and I was aware that the ending and the second half were a little ropy.
  • Secondly there’s always that terrible moment where you think everything you’re doing is shit and a bit tedious, probably because i’ve been staring at parts of it for 4 months.
  • Finally there’s that element of realisation, that moment when I thought, “fuck, i’m doing a show that lasts 90 minutes”, which is a slight step up from my previous longest time on stage of 30 minutes and certainly the first time I’ve done 75 minutes of untested material.

The show started at 3pm, which, is definitely not prime-comedy-theatre time, but good to test material I think, after all if something works in a very warm room at 3pm to 13 people it’ll probably work on a larger scale too. I have to admit I was a little disappointed to only have 13 (wonderful) people there, that said, having spent a considerable amount of time trying put people off from coming both with timings and massive negative marketing i’ve only myself to blame. I guess I looked at the facebook event and was excited and it turned out to completely accurately represent how facebook events go (as in, everyone says they’ll go, but few do.)

So the show itself…

The opening pre-show device I thought worked okay, seemed to engage people when they entered, allowed me to compere the start of the show without actively compereing it. Retrospectively I should have done some in the interval as well to keep that continuity and to raise energy levels before the second half started.

The first half I knew would be stronger as it had the only bits I’d actually done before and I was a bit more confident with the material and message in the first half. There’s some definite cutting to do around any text that has to be read on stage and also about how to maintain interest with a rather relentless number of flyer moments. The ending to the first half was ropey as fuck and mostly improvised, needed clarity and it needed to build to a better conclusion.

Second half was, as suspected, suspect. There were strong bit, pretty much the set pieces (although let down a little by over writing) and a couple of moments where people were lost. I lacks a clear and concise direction and could be cut down considerably. There’s a question of the ending which I rather ballsed up and forgot about 4 minutes. It was strange talking to Tom Sullivan who’s been helping me with the show – the experience for him, having seen it many times before, was to count the bits i missed in the second half. Mostly jokes.

I think overall thought it was fine as a work-in-progress, I’m conscious that I rushed at points, stumbled over words regularly (said Elephant by mistake) and my diction was awful (drama school would be mad). I’m glad I didn’t charge for it or push to a bigger audience as it’s clearly not ready. I think I’ll leave it a couple of weeks and then come back to it and try and give it a big cut. I suspect than rather than 80 mins it could be 60-70min quite easily if I cut a strand or two and give it more focus. Equally it could remain at 80 with an interval with the second half reworked. I’m not sure yet.

The other thing I’m not sure about is whether to do it again. I feel like it’s a tick on the goal list. I don’t know, maybe I’ll feel a bit differently in a week or so. I finished and didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of triumph or achievement, instead just a sense of “must try harder”. It’s a problem I always tend to get, as soon as I’ve done something my enthusiasm about it’s relative quality drops – I suspect Gaffer going no further than Liverpool played a part in this – a burgeoning sense of opportunity missed. Hmmm not sure. There’s a broader question about stand up and what I want to do too but that’s probably for another blog post. I’m writing a play about politicians at the moment so might focus on that for a while.

All in all however, it was okay, wasn’t shit but wasn’t brilliant, has potential and we’ll see what happens in time.

Sweaty sleeps, starts of plays and moments of panic

It’s just turned midnight as I start to write this post – I can’t sleep you see – not for the usual reasons which are largely combinations of late night coffee, excessive bourbon eating, Fifa 14 and Netflix – no, tonight it’s just shitting hot and getting into bed is incredibly sweaty and sticky. That said sitting here typing a blog post is not exactly delightful – I’m well aware that at this exact moment in time beads of salty watery sweat are dripping down my thighs as I rest my laptop upon them – that wasn’t meant to be sexual, just so you know, and if you thought it was then really? I mean sweaty thighs, deary me no. Anyway so I can’t sleep so I thought I’d write down some thoughts which usually clears my head before going to sleep.

I’m just in the final stages of working on “A Little Bit”, I’d talk about it more but I suspect I’m boring the world stupid with it, certainly there’s a point where you’re looking at electoral reform and you start to lose the will to live – and it’s that sense, that feeling that I hope to bring to a non-paying audience: despair. It’s not the only show I’ve been working on, I started writing a 3 hander script called Opposition about politics (wtf!) which I’m in a mixed mind about, I suspect that to read it’s incredibly childish but that with the right cast and pacing it could be pretty funny. It’s about a female MP plucked from her party to be the new leader of the opposition. It’s set in a contorted reality, with the show revolving around the actress while two others play every other part. If you’d like to read tweet me @mrfreeman1984 and I’ll send you a copy.

I remember today an afternoon spent a couple of years ago now with some of the impropriety gang on an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes and thought how much potential was there but that it wasn’t the right group or story at the time. So much in the creative arts I think depends on finding collaborators who understand each other and can relate and communicate. In a way it’s like a band, you find people who find the same beats, understand the rhythm you’re going for and then play around with it.

We’ve entered a brave new world at work – there’s an idea we have for a strategy called 100 tiny steps. It relates to our marketing and it’s about making sure that we constantly seek to improve. The concept is that increasing the % capacity each show plays to cannot be done in one massive go but by refining everything, lots of 0.1% differences will get the increase we need. It’s pretty obvious stuff really and just the angle in approaching it that is relatively unique, both in an arts marketing and theatre marketing strategy. I’m planning to keep writing up bits as I go along so, y’know, watch this space.

I think that’s all I have the energy to write tonight, just a quick update. If you’ve not got tickets for my show then click here, say hi on twitter or facebook if you read this, always interested to see what people think of this blog!

Night all x

The lost art of motivation

***some ramblings ***

I’ve hit somewhat of a roadblock of late in my quest to be universally loved as a comedian and merchant of mirth. (Come on now, you have to admire that as a sentence right? It’s fuckin horrendously crap, anyway, back to roadblocks). I say “of late” quite loosely as, realistically, it’s been over a year I’ve been feeling like this. I guess the problem is that I don’t really identify with being a comedian and/or merchant of mirth. I’ve been falling out of love with performing stand up at comedy gigs essentially. Continue reading

10 Things: To Watch On Netflix

I’ve been gradually working my way through Netflix to find the best programmes available. It’s an eclectic mix of comedy, drama and whimsy which I hope you enjoy.

ea_sng_safety-not-guaranteed-trustSafety Not Guaranteed
We live in an inherently cynical world. Magic, fairies, time travel, crazy ideas and perhaps even surprised wonder seem increasingly suppressed. This beautiful film takes that cynicism we have for the world and tells us that it is true, then, in a moment of blissful genius, brings back magic and dreams. Think of the moment where Sam Neil’s character in Jurrassic Park first sees a dinosaur, it’s that kind of moment.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
An old film I’d never quite got round to watching. It’s essentially a series of sketches about, as the title suggests, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But it’s more than that, it’s got an innocence about it, a coming of age resonance, it reminds us of a better time we all think we knew but none of us experienced.

Le Week-end
Why is love always about the young? It’s always about sex, lust, romance, shagging on bins or standing in the rain saying I love you to a bespectacled Hugh Grant. Le Week-end looks at older love, morphed by time, corrupted and reinforced by experience, perfect for those moments of introspection about love we all have.

Fargo1Fargo (TV Series)
I never saw the film. The series won me over in three ways. Firstly the soaring orchestral underscoring which perfectly captures the essence and tone. Secondly the script that makes Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman’s interactions electric and brimming with tension. Finally, Allison Tolman, the actress who plays the police detective, whose understated performance is utterly sublime.

Louis Theroux (All)
Naivety is a powerful tool, so shows Louis Theroux, in his brilliant series. The range available on Netflix is fantastic, you can start with the earlier series where, he is, eager to please, through to the more cynical older elder statesman of the documentary. His subjects never fail to evoke mixed feeling, creating an inability for the viewer to decide definitively on what you previously thought was a clear-cut issue.

The Other Guys
This film is bad. Terrible. Absurdly bad. But yet genius. It creates an incredible parody of the hero  cop movies, then blows it apart and leaves in its place a comedy in the Anchorman style. But unlike its new reporting companion, it’s more subtle, multi layered and, consequently, funnier.

Brendan Gleeson does grumpy,  wise and Irish incredibly well. Which is good really as he is Irish. He’s an actor who dominates the screen, but never seems to pull focus from the supporting cast, he’s always a notch above but never to the detriment of the scene. If you’ve seen the astonishingly good In Bruge, the fantastic, The Guard, then this is the next, if darker step that shows a great artist at work.

BRB-2Black Mirror
Charlie Brooker’s black comedy series takes a dystopian look at the future, but cleverly avoids the Orwellian version (communist Russia) for something more realistic and arguably scarier for it.  The cast includes Rory Kinnear,  Hayley Atwell, Domhnall Gleeson and Daniel Rigby.

Chasing Amy
One of those films you know the title of but have never really watched. It’s a love story with dodgy morals that explores sexuality, love and romance. It’s not deep, meaningful or artfully directed, it is a nice Saturday night film to enjoy with a Pizza and Beer while asking yourself, what would I do in this situation.

Secret State
Political thrillers are tough to get right. Often they’re incredibly dull and fail to build enough tension, bogged down in process rather than driving a story forward. It’s nice to have a really likeable politician as a central character, someone who you like and almost admire. You’re taken on a journey that pushes you around, a cat and mouse game – you want to believe good overcomes evil, but does it? Stars the brilliant Gabriel Byrne and the outstanding Charles Dance.

also check out….

john-simm-exileLife On Mars
If you missed it the first time round it’s well worth a look, if not for the fabulously repellent DCI Gene Hunt… A name you’d suspect his colleagues wouldn’t always pronounce properly. Stars John Simm & Philip Glenister.

Another John Simm series, but this time playing a investigative reporter. Worth it for the supporting cast of Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Timothy West and Claire Goose, all at their very best.

Gossip Girl: A Completely Objective Review

I’ve come under a bit of criticism in our household recently for my alleged addiction to “that game”. The game in question is, of course, Football Manager 15, which, arguably is less a game and more a life calling or perhaps religion. I have to admit I was getting quite irritated by the previous version (FM13) so warily made the investment for the new version. As it happens I’m a tactical genius, Newcastle are top of the league, have conceded and scored more goals than any team in history and won the FA cup last year. All good.

What is strange is the word addiction however. Not that it isn’t, it is, I sit here late at night writing a blog post with it playing in the background and a belt wrapped round my arm to prevent me from sleeping too soon and losing the fix. No what is strange is the hypocrisy that when I obsessively do something it’s bad and when my beloved does it then it’s fine. I am of course referring to her current addiction to Gossip Girl.

Now I don’t have a problem with quality pursuits, theatre, comedy, eating nice food or indeed developing the ultimate 3-4-3 formation that causes defences to quake in their boots and a managerial status to reach legendary. But Gossip Girl is not a quality pursuit as I shall explain over the next 3 points, or facts as I shall now refer to them.

FACT #1 – The plot is terrible.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not watched the series in detail but as far as I can tell it’s about the lives of uber attractive obscenely rich and spoilt New York teenagers who are meant to be 16 (but all look 25+) and whose lives revolve around pouting, being angry, having sex and saying interesting things while an anonymous blogger writes bitchy things about them. They then get upset by what the blogger says yet simultaneously offended if they don’t feature. It’s a love hate relationship for these morally reprehensible characters. My favorite plot point is where one of the obscenely rich teenagers donates money to a homeless charity instead of buying some new shoes, or a dog, or a conscience thus taking thousands of people out of poverty… Oh no, wait, that never happened. Because it’s a show about people you’d fantasize about but who, if you met in real life would make you want to go on a killing spree because they are needy and terrible people.

FACT #2 – The character’s are terrible

Where do we start. Well there’s Serena a girl who makes more mistakes than your average dictator or serial killer, she just wants to be loved, and rich, and popular. She’s friends occasionally with Blair who, like the ex Prime Minister, is decidedly smug and untrustworthy. Chuck whose facial expressions vary from looking stony and serious to looking stony and serious – every emotion portrayed by the same blank look. Nate who has a perfect life and similar to Chuck has the dynamic and emotional range of a rock. And then an assortment of other characters with so little soul it makes you really question why, if they are so rich, they’re all so miserable all the time.

FACT #3 – There are SIX series of it.

Yes six. And these aren’t UK, 7 episode series, these are 22 episodes a series, 132 ish episodes, each 42 minutes long, that’s 92 hours of this shit. And don’t think that I just hate it because they’re all attractive – it’s not that. It’s that it glamourises a lifestyle of opulance and suggests it must be incredibly hard to live in those circumstances. Bring back Dawson’s Creek, that’s what I say – I want to see a man struggle to become a chef, a man struggle with the burgeoning weight of his own forehead and a woman turn into someone who might marry Tom Cruise.

That’s all. Now back to FM15.


250px-Kop_and_mainstandI’m not a big fan of the whole New Year’s celebration and, in particular the resolutions that accompany them. After all it is a somewhat arbitrary date from which to enact change. I’m a particular fan of smokers who decide to quit in the New Year. This is usually in November, they’ll walk up, tell the world that they’re giving up before heading outside for a quick puff. Why not earlier? Maybe they’ve decided that they want to cut down life expectancy by that extra few days before the bitter end.

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Gig #59 – The one where I tried to start incest in the audience.

So Sam, how was the gig tonight?

Well, to be honest both strange and good.

Strange and good? Come on, don’t be coy, tell all.

Okay, so I did the storytelling set tonight.

The one that’s artistically very clever but ultimately a bit of a lazy cop out?

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Giggidy, Giddidy, Gee…

Sometimes you do a gig, a gig you expected to be amazing, a gig you thought would lift you on to a higher emotion, artistic and comedic level, where you prepared new material that was crafted, analysed, road tested and developed to near perfection, and then you perform it to an audience who you think will love you, your material and what you stand for and they’ll go, “no”.  Continue reading

50 Gigs In

It’s 10 past midnight and I can’t sleep. This I suspect may be for one of two reasons. The first is that I woke up at midday today and as a consequence my body thinks that it’s 9pm, the second is that it is from the adrenaline of doing my fifty third (I think) gig. Continue reading

Who am I? Being a brand

“Who am I?” 

I’ve had a few conversations with both new comedians and theatre companies recently about marketing themselves to increase bookings and profile. Continue reading

A tale of three gigs

It’s inevitable over the course of doing something that you will have moments of great highs, moments of great lows and long periods of bumbling around in the middle desperate to achieve the former and avoid the latter. Continue reading

Gig Report #43: Bottletop Comedy

When I was around gigs 5 – 15 I went through a stage of recording how each gig had progressed – inspired by the brilliant Ste Price. I lost touch a bit and became a little more infrequent, mostly because I felt for a while I plateaued at a certain level – enough to be liked but not necessarily remembered. Continue reading

Charity Ordeals & reaching 40

Just a quick post tonight after I reached two milestones in my comedy career.

Firstly I just did my first charity gig. To be honest I’d heard a lot about charity gigs being often the worst and hardest gigs to do and approached this one (Help the Heroes) with a degree of trepidation.

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Me and the NHS

This is an article written for York Theatre Royal’s blog for Floating but I thought I’d share it on here too…

Whenever I speak to people about Floating there are always two questions they ask. The first is a fascination about where the idea to write the play came from, how it was inspired, what planted the seed of an idea nearly two years ago. Continue reading

Three gigs

I’ve not written about stand-up and how my gigging has been going for a while so I thought I’d write some of what I’ve been doing for you my avid readers. I say avid readers in the broadest sense, I have google analytics so know where you live and who you are (apart from the person in Iran and the other in Taiwan…), and know that there are (most probably) 6 avid readers. Still that’s 6 more than a lot of people who have blogs, so I’m content. Continue reading

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Thanks for reading this. If you’d like to receive infrequent e-mails about my upcoming gigs, things I’ve made or simply fun things then please sign up below (I won’t share your deets and you can unsubscribe at any time).Either that or follow me on facebook or twitter. Thanks!