How to grow up

I’ve wanted to vlog for a while, but knew that simply talking to a camera probably ain’t gonna cut it these days.

There’s something about vloggers like Tanya Burr and Zoella that weirdly compels me to watch – and they are very watchable – but I wanted to do some brief, lighthearted videos that look at different elements of being a so-called ‘grown up’. It’s not necessarily advice for young people that’s helpful right here and now, but it’s about making the idea of being an adult less intimidating, whilst also exploring what that actually means – do your thoughts change? Does your behaviour drastically alter? How do you actually know you are one? What does being ‘grown up’ actually mean?

I’m not planning on talking about makeup and clothes – although I’ll probably wear a lot of silver garments. I’m also not investing in amazing lighting or sound – at the moment, there’s just no point. I’m still exploring the format (and yes, it’s probably very typical YouTube in that I’ll be using jump cuts and cutaways, but hey, that’s the medium).

My first video isn’t about something that everyone will experience – it’s not something everyone wants to do (or sadly can afford, given this day and age), but it’s something personal to me, given that a question I’m often asked is; “why on earth would you live on your own!?” Hopefully my video sums up why I really enjoy it and why it was the right choice for me.

My flat is a shared ownership property – meaning that I pay a mortgage on 25% and pay subsidised rent on the rest. So I can decorate it, but I’m also responsible for paying for repairs should anything go wrong. I can staircase to buy 100%, or I can sell my 25%, splitting any increase in value with the housing association who own the remaining 75%. There’s no point in satirising between as whoever buys next will also be shared ownership and will have to buy my entire share – much more difficult at 50% than 25%.

One of those ambitions I’d had for over a decade (genuinely since becoming a teenager) was to have my own place, and although I don’t own the whole property, I feel that I’ve achieved something.

I should also add, no animals or muppets were harmed in the making of the above vlog, although my sofa is lucky to be alive…

More vlogs coming soon – please let me know if there’s a topic you think I should cover!

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Late resolutions

I realise it’s not seasonal anymore to declare fresh intentions for the year, but I just spent twenty quid on a bluetooth keyboard from Tiger that has a shortcut for a dollar sign in place of a pound so I thought I’d give it a spin and try actually writing something with it.

So yes, this might be a poorly structured post. Please bear with!

There are many, many things I’d like to do this year. After a trip to New York in January to visit my lovely friend Jonny, I realised that maybe I’m not so scared of flying at all; big planes are better are taking off than spindly budget airlines after all. That’s the secret! And if you fly further, they bring you wine! Therefore, I need to travel more, and fear less. Not every penny needs to go into the ISA (although the raising of the allowance is clearly a good thing, it also means it’s nigh on impossible for me to fill it, so no treats for achieving this come April!)

I need to start running again. I had a day off today and forced my way outside. I was shocked by how fine I felt. And then I started running. It was hard – I hadn’t run up the notorious hills of Greenwich Park for a couple of months – but I also managed to make it to the final furlong without a stitch. And that to me is an achievement. (I got a stitch in the last bit, but that’s okay, I didn’t stop.)

In New York I started making Touchcasts again and remembered how much I enjoy talking to a camera. I don’t enjoy admitting it. I’m going to change this and start as I mean to go on; I LOVE TALKING TO YOU VIA A LENS. I WANT TO BE CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN. Or at the very least, I’d like to get to the point where other people want me to work with them and let me give it a go outside the confines of my bedroom, using something other than my iPad delicately balanced on a hazardous pile of books and paper.

My blog is becoming less of a blog, more a brain landfill. I’d like to get it back on track and post more regularly; about friends’ projects, comedy, those videos I mentioned. Things that matter to me – and others. I had every intention of writing my thoughts on No More Page 3 and then I didn’t.

Bake, cook and be a good host – that’s something that’s always on my to do list. I tell people all the time they should come for dinner. I need to follow up on this!

Gig again – I go through periods of playing guitar a lot, and then not at all. I miss writing songs and I miss gigging. But I can’t bear the pay to play culture and I don’t always like playing solo.

Go to an improv class. I’m not a comic, but I need to push myself a bit more. No one tends to believe this; I can be quite introverted and have to work hard to talk to new people. I’m quite jokey and people think I’m nervous because of it – they don’t take me seriously and when I do act seriously, the change can scare them! And I need to go to ‘things’ – be it a recommended event in Time Out magazine, volunteering to be an extra or getting behind the camera (as well as in front of it).

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it does sound exhausting, doesn’t it? Wish me luck – or better still, share your ideas for how I can get started! (Thanks!)

Meet Graniella!

Graniella loves a ‘natural look’ (false eyelashes, red lipstick and eyeliner – naturally), shower gel and brushing her hair.

And she’ll sell you ANYTHING.

Graniella is the creation of my friend (and gifted stand up) Grainne Maguire. We shot this yesterday and I dusted off my iMovie skills. (And my Mac, which took four hours to upload it!!!)

If you enjoy, please do share and let us know if you’d like to see more!

The love list

Right now I’m loving…

Taylor Swift

When I first heard Love Story, the breakthrough song that made Taylor Swift an international star back in 2008, I never thought; ‘in six years time, I shall be running up and down Oxford Street desperately seeking a copy of Taylor Swift’s ridiculously popular fifth album.’ And yet, yesterday, there I was in HMV, feeling slightly sheepish as the cashier expressed her surprise at how insanely popular the album, titled 1989, has been.

Considering how hard Taylor (it feels odd referring to her as Swift, given her personable image) has been working to promote her record, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s such a quick hit – or that for the first time in a while, CDs are flying off the shelves at such a rate that they’re selling out (the polaroid images featured in a neat packet inside along with infamous liner notes complete with coded messages about Taylor’s private life are definitely an incentive), but also her sudden credibility – see her Radio 1 Live Lounge reversioning of the aforementioned Love Story.

Clever marketing and changes of sound aside, it really helps that the album is wickedly, infectiously good (and makes focusing on reading on the tube really hard with it playing on the iPod). My current addictive track is Blank Space, but I’d be lying if I said that I won’t be switching my allegiance to another track sometime soon. It might not be for everyone, but I imagine I’m not on my own with my new found enthusiasm for her!

Putting my face in ‘those things you put your face in’ on the wrong side

Firstly, I have no idea what these are called – I’m just going by comic James Acaster’s description in his brilliant 2014 show Recognise – but for some reason, since accidentally putting my face through the wrong side during the summer at Latitude, I have a compulsion to keep doing it…

Face in the wrong place

Sephora jumbo liners

I ‘popped’ over to Paris via a ten hour coach to see my boyfriend Luke at the weekend. He’s abandoned me to go to a French clown school for a month and therefore was a charmingly good sport when I dragged him round Sephora – I bought one of these crayons on a whim (in green) and have totally fallen in love with it – it’s really easy to get thin lines, despite its chubby size, and looks like a liquid liner. It also totally stays put – far more so than a recent liquid liner I bought. It works smudged as a shadow too. Basically I’m in love and want one in every colour. (Please Santa?)

Lena Dunham and ‘Team Legend’

I confess, I’m probably a terribly embarrassing manager – I refer to us as Team Legend for goodness sake, but I’m very lucky to work with two lovely researchers, Shabana and Katie, who stood in the mind numbing long queue to get Lena Dunham to sign a copy of her new book, Not That Kind of Girl, for me on Wednesday.

The book itself is great so far – funny, frank and everything you’d want from Dunham, who has been popping up all over London this week and for some reason hasn’t visited W12. What. A. Shame. Still, I have a signed copy of the book to comfort myself with in these hard times. Thanks Team Legend!

Why Did the Policeman Cross the Road? (And how you can fund him)

Ex-copper turned QI Elf, author and all-round lovely chap Stevyn Colgan has recently launched a project to crowd-fund a new book, Why Did the Policeman Cross the Road? with crowd-sourcing publisheUnbound. In the book, Stevyn will show how creative problem solving kickstarted a crime-solving revolution of sorts at Scotland Yard, and how you can get creative with your own solutions.

As it’s such a quirky topic, I thought I’d send Stevyn a few questions to get his own take on the subject…

Frankie: First of all, you’ve had an array of amazing jobs – but which was the most surprising, which has the world foolishly overlooked as an exciting occupation and which would you never, ever do again!?

Stevyn: Being a police officer covers all three of those! I’ve been shot at, had knives waggled at me, been kicked the crap out of. But I’ve also met two presidents, a pope, four prime ministers, most of the royals and countless celebs and people of note. I’ve been kissed by Princess Diana, hugged by Freddie Mercury, written briefing notes for Prime Minister’s question time … the list is extraordinary. The thing about working for an organisation as huge as the Met Police (it has more staff than the Royal Navy – true) is that there are many different roles you can perform – cops don’t have a job description. Outside of coppering, I love working for QI of course as I get to hang out with the absolute cream of British comedians plus a few from other countries. But, in some ways, I get a bigger kick from working on its sister show on Radio 4 – The Museum of Curiosity – as the guest list is more eclectic. We’ve had Nobel laureates, brain surgeons, authors, pop stars, comedians, hermits and even Buzz Aldrin on the show. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have met people like that. Oh, and I’d never be a milkman again. That was Hell. Mind you, they seem to be an endangered species now anyway.

How did you end up working for the police?

I’d like to give some noble answer about public duty or a sense of civic responsibility, but the truth is that it was for a bet. My dad – a homicide detective – bet me £50 that I couldn’t last six months as a cop. I took the bet and six months became 30 years. Shrewd bloke my dad. He knew that I’m fascinated by people and he knew that the regular wage would hook me in.

When did you and your colleagues at Scotland Yard have that ‘Eureka’ moment about problem solving? 

For me, I’d always thought that policing in London had everything arse-about-face. All the effort was going into catching bad guys when logic told me that we should be preventing crime and not letting the bad guys be bad guys. After all, if you ask people if they’d rather (a) be burgled but we catch the bad guy or (b) not be burgled, I’m pretty sure which answer they’d give. I struggled with this for some time and did cause myself some career grief by arguing the toss and not doing what my bosses told me to do (i.e. put all my efforts into building up arrest figures).

My Eureka Moment came when I read Professor Herman Goldstein’s ground-breaking book ‘Problem Oriented Policing’. Here was an academic with the weight of years of research behind him saying exactly what I’d been saying all along. Police chiefs listened to him. And things started to change. I was in a position to catch the wave, as it were, and ended up in Scotland Yard’s Problem Solving Unit.

Without wishing to sound like a Job interviewer, describe one of the problems you were able to creatively solve…

Many problems can and do get solved using traditional policing methods. But many don’t. They require something a little different from the norm. Our unit specialised in finding those kinds of new ways of working. Or sometimes we’d adapt a solution seen elsewhere in a different area of work. For example, pink lighting is used by dermatologists to highlight skin blemishes, so adding pink lighting to an underpass doesn’t restrict access but does deter loitering teens whose skin may be less than perfect. (That’s not a solution I prescribe to, incidentally.) Far too much effort goes into alienating and moving kids on and far too little goes into helping them to find meaningful pastimes or making places for them to hang out. A simple youth shelter gives them a focus – a place of their own and yet every proposed site for one is opposed by adults. Search the net for ‘objections to youth shelters’ and you’ll find loads – but all before one is due to be erected. There’s almost no objections after they’re up; in fact, what you’ll find is mostly very positive results in terms of reduced crime and disorder.

Were there any cases you weren’t able to crack at the time?

The one failure that still grates on me today is the issue of drinks spiking. We were asked if we could do anything to protect young women – and occasionally men – from drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA). The problem was that, despite months or research, observation, interviews etc. we could find no evidence for widespread use of narcotics. Drinks spiking and DFSA was happening, but the drug concerned was alcohol. And, to complicate matters, the drinking culture we currently have in the UK means that many potential victims were already drunk before spiking occurred. The reason that we couldn’t impact upon the problem was that any option we came up with that involved less drinking or installing someone or something as a guardian was opposed by various pressure groups who insisted – quite rightly – that it’s the predatory male who is at fault and that the effort should be focussed on him. In the long-term, that should be the aim. Of course it should. But there’s still the here and now. Things aren’t going to change overnight. You’d need to get everyone on board – education, entertainment, publishing etc – and you would need to have a degree of control over internet content too. In an ideal world, every woman should be able to go out, drink what she wants and walk home naked knowing that no one has the right to touch her. In that same ideal world, every man would respect the fact that touching a woman isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. But we don’t live in that world – we never have done and I doubt we ever will. No one can afford to completely abrogate responsibility for their own safety. So, no, I made no difference to the issue at all and it pains me to admit it. I have daughters and a granddaughter. I want them to be safe. I want everyone’s daughters and granddaughters, wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, aunts and nieces to be safe too.

Is problem solving something you still apply in the present?

Very much so. I approach most issues with the same analytical eye. A good example is how I got to do what I’m doing now; I knew that I wanted to write. And I knew that I would like to get involved in TV and film. So I ‘problem solved’ the issue: how does an ex-cop aged 50+ with almost no qualifications get to do that? I worked out who I needed to know, where I needed to be, the skills I’d need to learn. Four years later I have three books in print, two on the way, and I’m writing scripts for two of my favourite BBC shows. The system works!

You mention on the Unbound site that the book might help readers with finding their own solutions? How?

‘Why Did The Policeman Cross The Road?’ is semi-autobiographical. It traces my career path and how I got to work in the Problem Solving Unit. Along the way you get to hear some great stories about brilliant problem solving, but not just in the police. You’ll see how Brighton Council is addressing homelessness with shipping containers, how bees are helping to patrol elephant migratory routes, how celebrity faces help dispose of chewing gum and how the phantom bus stops of Dusseldorf keep dementia patients safe. You’ll meet advertising gurus, military tacticians, psychologists and call girls. Oh and Tim Minchin who provided some brilliant material. The book also contains lots of hints, tips and tricks for problem solving that people can apply to their lives, just as I do.

Why did you choose Unbound? And where, how and why should people pledge?

The publishing world has become very unstable in the past 7-8 years. Unless you’re a celebrity or an established biggie, it’s very difficult to get anyone interested in your work. J K Rowling proved that or us last year; writing under a pen name there was no interest at all in her book. Once she revealed that she’d written it, huge bestseller. The public, as a whole, are seduced by celebrity. And publishers want safe bets. Also, the huge advances demanded by celebs (or their agents) has now made it almost impossible to earn from traditional publishing. My first book came with an advance that allowed me to feed myself and pay my bills for the six months I needed to write it. Two years later, the advance I was offered for book two was barely a month’s wages. As it happened, Unbound came along around that time. And it helped that two of the founders are QI ‘elves’ so I knew what they were hoping to achieve. Saying that, they wouldn’t have taken on my books if they didn’t believe in them, or believe that the public would want to read them. That’s how Unbound works; in most respects, it operates exactly like a traditional publisher – they select projects they like, publicise them and, when it gets to that stage, they design, edit, copy read, proof, print and distribute the finished books. The difference comes with funding; instead of them putting up the advance and the costs of production, the public do so. Crowd-funding allows the reading public to select the books that they want to read by pledging money. The more you pledge, the more treats you get, like invites to launch parties, deluxe editions, signed copies or dinner with the author. But no matter how much you pledge, you get to see your name in the back of the book as one of the people who made it happen – you become a patron of the arts. And you get access to the author’s ‘shed’; a blogging area where you can swap messages with the author during the writing process. It’s a much more democratic way of publishing. It’s certainly attracted the great and the good; Unbound has published books by Terry Jones, Robert Llewellyn, Katy Brand, Jonathan Meades, Simon Napier-Bell and many more. And they’re fairer to the author too who shares 50% of profits with them; much more than you get with other publishers.

Crowd-funding was the norm many years ago; most of Charles Dickens’ works were funded by public subscription. And you may help a new author achieve great things – two Unbound books have performed spectacularly recently: Shaun Usher’s ‘Letters of Note’ was a number 1 bestseller and Paul Kingsnorth’s ‘The Wake’ is in the Man Booker Prize long list. I won’t reach those heady heights! But if you like the kind of books that Malcolm Gladwell or Jon Ronson write, or books like ‘Freakonomics’ or ‘The Devil and Sherlock Holmes’ you’re probably going to like ‘Why Did The Policeman Cross The Road?’ So why not pledge? A hardback edition costs the same as a Chinese meal for two but will last a lot longer!

Pledge your way to owning a copy of Stevyn’s book at Unbound, here!

My favourite shows of the Fringe

I got a message from Luke this morning…

“I think BBC News might be illustrating their story on the Comedy Awards with your photo of James Acaster holding some bread…”

And so they were!

…So I guess one of us got something from the Awards, then!

I’m still deflated from returning to the South, but I’m glad I got to see some great stuff while in Edinburgh this year.

Here’s a list of shows I loved this year!

Josie Long – Cara Josephine

So technically I saw this in preview – essentially an extended version of Josie’s stand-up show about former lovers, becoming an auntie and the discovery that it’s possible to be in a relationship with someone who treats you like a friend (something I rediscovered recently too!). It’s effortlessly funny, full of quality quotable lines you wouldn’t find on a ‘Dave’s Best Joke’ list, and all the better for it; who’s got the keys to my motor?

Nish Kumar – Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity

If Nish had entered the very first Edinburgh Comedy Poster Awards, he surely would have been a shoo-in. A show that examines racial identity with devastatingly funny results, I’d expected a Fosters nod for Nish – but maybe next year? Watch our Fringe Focus interview here.

James Acaster – Recognise

I saw this previewed on the same evening as Nish’s effort and marvelled at Acaster’s (it feels odd to call him by his first name) structuring, laid-back approach and ingenious imagination. Even then I would have placed at least £1.20 on him taking the Comedy Award this year. As it’s his third nomination in a row, it may be his last shot at the top prize. Whatever happens, don’t miss your chance to see this technically excellent show once the show comes to London (or potentially tours).

John Kearns – Shtick

Today it was revealed that Kearns is to appear in BBC Three cop comedy Top Coppers; he’s come a long way since winning the newcomer award and praising the merits of the Free Fringe. It’s notable that his show wasn’t flyered this year – and the only artwork he’s had created for the show appears in a dodgy frame onstage with him. The show lightly touches on his vocation becoming a full-time role and I wanted even more – but it’s part of Kearns’ nature to leave you hanging. The interaction with three audience members on the night I saw him was beautifully judged – as was the recycling of a prop (I’ll try not to spoil it too much).

What is notable is that Kearns is one of three of last year’s newcomer shortlist competing for the top prize (alongside Romesh Ranganathan and Liam Williams). The only two shows from this year’s wildly successful Free Fringe programs are Kearns’ and Williams’ – acts already associated with the awards. Eight nominees in both categories are hosted at the Pleasance, one at the Assembly and the others at the Underbelly. With so much on the ‘bucket list’, I was expecting to see a couple more nominated.

Pippa Evans: Don’t Worry, I Don’t Know Who I Am Either

From the opening homage to her hero, Brian Connelly, Pippa had unleashed my most embarrassing laughing style – the uncontrollable swan ‘ha’ that I get ripped for. With a mixture of songs, stand-up and characters, and fearless audience interaction, this was possibly my most enjoyable hour spent at the Fringe. (I did ruin the chain of Disney songs game though… Sorry about that!) Watch our Fringe Focus interview here.

Danielle Ward – Dani Frankenstein

Danielle appeared for just a week at the Fringe, bringing an alluring pink wig and skeleton bodysuit with her – winning my hypothetical ‘best costume of the Fringe’ award. With a mixture of her pop star character Dani’s tour diary, a moody extended story and some rather genius sexy raps, I’m looking forward to seeing more – and there has to be a music video for set highlight, the anti-rape anthem ‘Don’t Put Your Dick in Me’!

Lou Sanders – Lou Sanders in Another Great Show Again

I saw Lou talk to her vagina, take a song lyric very literally and bestow her left field approach to erotic short stories back in June, but it was still hilarious even then – the Soho would be mad not to programme it back in London. If you like your comedy bizarre, energetic and laugh-out-loud funny, make a date with Lou. Or just see her show. Watch our Touchcast interview here.

Hatty Ashdown – Hurry Up Hatty

Hatty was the first comic I saw upon arriving in Edinburgh (aside from a quirky afternoon ACMS) and it was a warm welcome to the Fringe! This was Hatty’s first full hour, laden with stories from her slightly conventional childhood, as a self-described ‘nan-child’. I’m really keen to see what Hatty comes up with next – perhaps a full hour about performing in the problematic Wee Pub!? (Who were difficult hosts – avoid next year.) Watch our Touchcast interview here.

Lazy Susan – Extreme Humans

I saw this promising sketch duo preview before the Fringe (watch our Fringe Focus video here) and could not be more thrilled  to see them awarded with a Best Newcomer Fosters Award. They combine properly funny sketches with likeable performances – no gurning, overacting or one-upmanship. The final show has a different ending to the one I saw (which made me lose my breath laughing) so I’m really keen to see it again in London. Do. Not. Miss.

The Beta Males – Happenstance

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the sketch four-piece – but I was rewarded with a breathlessly entertaining sketch romp, with a network of sketches, that interwove – at first without you realising – and then suddenly becoming ever clearer until you had your own personal eureka moments. It was possible to look back on Happenstance and go ‘oh yeah – how did I not notice that?’ Perhaps I was thrown by the ‘What a Farce!’ sketch at the top of the show, which wasn’t a recurring runner and wasn’t as vital to the central plot of the piece – which, if intentional, is rather clever in itself. There’s genuinely something for everyone in this show – and the performers deserve recognition for their chemistry and quick-witted reactions to some unexpected moments during the performance.

Sarah Campbell – Don’t Worry It’s Sarah Campbell

Sarah’s always wicked company, especially when she’s onstage performing a ‘reverse William Tell’, sharing her experiences of Dalston Tesco Metro and digesting the Guardian’s Weekend Supplement (‘Just do something!!!’) Sarah gets to panic, so the rest of us don’t have to! 

John-Luke Roberts: Stnad-Up’

Hey, there’s clearly a conflict of interest presented by me writing about this show, but then again, it might seem like it wasn’t one of my favourite shows if I don’t write about it either. Luke’s total and utter commitment to his performance in this show, from the ‘teeth-on-a-stick’ aided entrance, to the (literally) ‘bitter’ representation of the moment of breaking up with his ex-girlfriend and the recurring use of a single audience member, made for a unique Fringe show this year. Some might not have got it (leading to a hilarious two star review and a Jimmy Carr comparison in The Skinny), but others were totally taken in. Fingers crossed it gets a spot at the Soho later in the year… Watch our Fringe Focus interview here.

You can find out more about the shows I appeared in – Grainne Maguire’s What Has the News Ever Done for Me? and Knightmare Live here.

Frankie’s Fringe Invasion

I’m currently sat at my desk, getting through my lunch break by repeatedly refreshing Chortle and wondering when the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Awards nominees are announced.

My body, having finally got used to the 2am-10am Fringe sleeping patterns I adopted last week, is annoyed that I am not still in Edinburgh trying to track down a ticket to see Adam Riches or Bridget Christie. I am consoling it with images of cake from tonight’s episode of The Great British Bake Off (perk of the day job). I’m one of those Edinburgh Comedy Widows you see, and my boyfriend’s show was rather good this year (my words, not his) – I’ve got my fingers crossed for him and some of his friends.

(Oh, apparently Wittank are getting an E4 pilot, or so my most recent Chortle refresh tells me. Good for them.)

I was really lucky to have the opportunity to do a few quick interviews at the Fringe this year – I’d decided to do a ‘stage invasion’ and try and appear in some shows a month or so ago. I was truly, properly, utterly perplexed and thrilled to be invited onto Grainne Maguire’s What Has the News Ever Done For Me? and the cult hit Knightmare Live (catch it when it tours soon if you’re not in Edinburgh) and had an amazing time. I don’t know if I can say the same for the audience members, but I’m sure they’ll get over it soon enough…

Here’s the extended version of my post-show chat with Grainne (all two mins of it!)

At Grainne’s show, I had to argue that my chosen news story of the week was more relevant than the other panelists’. Sadly my argument that selfies with works of art would lead to the social media neglect – and therefore subsequent death – of cats, did not convince the audience, although they did enjoy the shameless promotion of my boyfriend’s show (“It’s my boyfriend’s show about his breakup with his ex-girlfriend! John-Luke Roberts: Stnad-Up! Go see it! 6pm, Voodoo Rooms, Free Fringe!!!”)

I had some sound issues during filming, but you can see my three minute guide to the Fringe, Frankie’s Edinburgh Expose, below:

I had some very good sports in Paul Flannery and Tom Bell from Knightmare Live, who appear at the end of the vid (about 1 min 30 secs in) and improvised around my very stupid questions. The voiceover was recorded in my boyfriend Luke’s very small bedroom while he was semi-asleep. Therefore it’s a bit whispery. (Essentially, it’s not the best quality video in the world, but I had fun making it.)

During my time at the Fringe, I also spoke to Alex the Mind Reader and Christian Talbot about the audiences they enjoy talking to and how they deal with tricky crowds.

Alex reads my mind after a minute and a bit…

Christian’s daughter has been nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Stunt Award for her unique approach to flyering…

I have just refreshed the Chortle page. Nothing so far. In my next post I’ll talk about my favourite acts from the Fringe this year – hopefully they’ll be performing in London and various other places in the next few months.

Good luck to you all…

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Stuart Laws and John-Luke Roberts

Now previews are done and the Edinburgh Fringe has kicked off, it’s time for me to present the last two episodes of my interactive video series, Frankie’s Fringe Focus

First up, it’s Stuart Laws

Stuart is a kinder eggs obsessive stand-up, whose show this year, ‘When’s This Gonna Stop?‘ will reveal his penchant for German Christmas cookies and a hatred for spiders

He runs his own production company, Turtle Canyon Comedy, and has recently been making short comedy films (so I don’t know what he made of my makeshift iPad filming setup!) He’ll also be doing a Comedy Roast with fellow Fringe Focus guest Matt Winning – find out more on his website.

Watch the Fringe Focus with Stuart Laws on Touchcast

John-Luke Roberts

I’m definitely trying too hard to be a ‘too-cool-for-school’ T4-style host in my interview with Luke – but it’s quite surreal interviewing someone you know so well.

I’ve not actually seen Stand-Up’, Luke’s show this year, but I’m planning to see it in Edinburgh – I’ve seen various bits of pieces at new material nights and even donated self-raising flour to his cause. But, if anything to go by last year’s show, it’s going to be awesome (and I’ll be very proud). It will also feature a talking dinosaur…

Luke also co-hosts the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society with Thom Tuck and will be presenting different acts four nights a week during the Fringe. Being the Fringe, it’s only allowed to be two hours long – I’ve never been to such a short ACMS, so I’m quite intrigued by the prospect!

Watch the Fringe Focus with John-Luke Roberts

So that’s it for my first interactive series! You can find a full list of featured acts here and do Tweet me your Fringe tips @getfrank. It’s been a while since I’ve properly gone out and interviewed people outside of work (and kept my voice/face in the mix) and I’ve enjoyed it so much – and that down to the lovely comics, the nice folks at Touchcast who have repeatedly given me more space on their server and everyone who has watched, tweeted or let me know they’ve been watching. You’re the best.

Hopefully I’ll get to host some new stuff in future, and I’m keen to work with others, so do get in touch with ideas!

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: BattleActs! and Bren & Jenny

It feels a bit surreal to be counting down to the last few episodes of Frankie’s Fringe Focus, but that’s what I’m doing every day of this week on my Touchcast channel.

Today I’m introducing two more video interviews, nicely linked through their associated acts (Brendan Murphy and Phil Mann are both members of improv group BattleActs!) – more on them right now…

BattleActs!

As there’s only one link featured in this rough and ready video with founder member Phil Mann, I decided to put the whole thing on YouTube in its entirety – but you can still view it on Touchcast here.

Semi-Detached Comedy, the ingenious brainchild of comics James O’Brien and Kieran Coyle, brings performers into your home where they proceed to do short sets in each of the rooms. Myself and Phil Mann recorded this during the second half of the evening, when things were so messy even the front camera of my iPad refused to function, meaning my boyfriend had to hold the iPad the opposite way round and was unable to see the shot. You may see me directing the position of the screen during the interview!

BattleActs! are an improv group who split in two, go to war via the means of improv and let their audience decide who is the winner. Although I wasn’t competing with Phil in this interview, we decided to play a game of ‘new choice’ and let our audience dictate the direction of our conversation… Find out more about how you can see BattleActs! for free in Edinburgh this August here.

Bren & Jenny

I was thrilled to get the chance to chat to Brendan Murphy and Jenny Bede about their show (I’m always hearing – and seeing – great things about Jenny) and they didn’t disappoint when I met them to chat about their first show together, Hello! (the exclamation mark is very important).

The pair were originally planning to do half an hour of material each in their allotted Free Fringe slot, but decided to properly team up and work on their (very funny) show together, which features the two multi-rolling with the help of some sound effects, videos and, most vitally, wigs!

Watch the full interactive interview on Touchcast here.

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Jay Foreman and Nish Kumar

To celebrate the start of the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I’ll be publishing a new episode of Fringe Focus every day!

The series will finally conclude on Saturday – and on Sunday, I shall rest. And probably bake a three tier cake for the office, but that’s a different kind of effort, right?

So I’m not bombarding your inbox, I’ll keep the Fringe Focus posts to every other day – hence featuring two comics at a time. And here they are…

Jay Foreman

Jay Foreman is most likely the successor to Mitch Benn‘s topical musical comedy crown. He can often be seen collaborating with fellow Fringe Focus guest Bec Hill on YouTube, with Bec’s paper puppetry perfectly complimenting Jay’s witty tunes.

This year Jay’s doing a kids’ show at the Pleasance, Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children (and Other Funny Stories) and I was lucky enough to be treated to a one-on-one performance of one of his quirky acoustic numbers from the show – watch my slightly awkward bobbing to the music (and much, much more) over on Touchcast now.

Nish Kumar

Make no mistake – Nish Kumar is a lovely, lovely man, and a genuinely brilliant stand-up. He’ll be returning to the Fringe with his third full length effort, Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity.

I’ve seen a preview and it’s a great show – with some lovely callbacks and a hilarious story about Nish’s trip to the Isle of Wight with fellow comic Romesh Ranganathan. But obviously, don’t just take my word for it – go see it! And before you do, make sure you watch the Touchcast (even if just to see Nish get very excited about making interactive things appear onscreen)!