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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Take what you can, and give nothing back

Thursday saw me up at ungodly o'clock to go to Germany for a nice weekend festival gig. As long-time readers of this blog will know, I've spent a fair portion of my professional life in Germany - too much, some might say - but I always enjoy going back as it feels so familiar, and the culture and history of variete there makes someone like me feel at home right away. What also feels pleasantly familiar about a gig like this is that even though you're in the middle of Germany, the hotel is full of lovely old friends, gathered from all corners of the globe to fill the town with shows for a couple of crazy days. I wandered down to breakfast to be greeted with hugs and hellos from people I hadn't seen in months, or in some cases years. Clowns from New Zealand, trapeze artists from Israel, Swedish magicians, Australian hula hoopers..

I have, in previous blog posts, moaned about how I sometimes find the fact that half of my circle of friends live scattered all over the planet, and that I see them once a year if I'm lucky, hard to deal with. And it is. These are people that I'd love to be able to hang out with often, but the nature of our shared work means that we're travelling players. That's what let us all meet in the first place, and that's what means we're never together for very long. It can be heartbreaking, but this year I realised the upside. I only get to watch them perform every couple of years or so, so watching their shows always feels fresh. I leant against a wall at the back of the astonishingly adorable Noa & Uri's show, and even though I've seen it a zillion times, I hadn't seen it lately, so I was able to enjoy it like a real audience member, and those bastards made me cry. I shared a double bill show with the brilliant, brilliant Fraser Hooper, and had to stuff my hand in my mouth to muffle my hooting laughter. I'm not so used to watching them perform that the joy and spontaneity is lost, replaced with unconscious analysis - the curse of the performer watching the performer. I can be a punter.

I had some fun shows, enjoyed myself, and won a prize for being the best dressed performer at the festival. You know how happy this made me, right? Mainly because, y'know, winning something for my suit is all gravy, but party because they gave me a huge cardboard novelty cheque. Which, of course, I brought all the way home to London, just for the challenge of it. I mean, really, how often do you get given a huge novelty cheque? These moments must be recognised for the landmarks they are.

Kelly. Who is usually grinning, except in photos.
The best show I did that weekend, for me as well as, I think, for the audience, was in Kelly's bar. Kelly runs a gorgeous warm cosy bar, which has, in the next room, a 70-seater arthouse cinema, complete with massive screen and comfy seats. It's the kind of place that, if I lived there, I would go to all the time. I don't live there though, so I had to settle for doing a beautiful extended set in front of the most receptive, giggly and slightly drunk audience I could have wished for. It was one of those shows where it all felt so easy. Shows like that keep you going way longer than the bad ones get you down.

Anyway, it was fun, Here's some more photos.

Yep, they have hen parties in Germany too

 And then, as soon as I'd cleared customs back into fancy London, it was back up at, perhaps a quarter past ungodly, to assemble the London cabaret revolutionaries for a spot of filming. Oh yes. Hopefully you'll remember last years cabariot? Well, if you need reminding...

So that's what happened when the X-Factor got all up in the cabarati's grill.. And then all was quiet, until earlier this year, a festival of London cabaret was announced, that redefined cabaret as "American songbook", failed to include one London cabaret performer, and booked comedian Alexander Armstrong to sing cabaret songs, which would include the theme tune to The Wombles. Oh, and then the lovely Alexander got all misogynistic and unreconstructed in an Evening Standard interview, and said “A whole load of old strippers bought themselves pompons and souped-up their sets and are calling themselves burlesque.”

(a) What the hell is a pompon?
(b) Oh, it's fucking on.

Cabariot 2: Cabarevolution is incoming. In the meantime, here are some photos from the filming day...

Oh, and just in case you think that instead of spending our time doing that, we should have set up our own London Cabaret Festival, that reflects what's truly going on in the London cabaret scene, then relax.

We did that as well.

1 comment:

canvas prints said...

You have a mixture of great photos here. it was fun to view them.