Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Lead Pencil

Just over a week ago, I squeezed my way through the central London crowds to reach the Leicester Square Theatre. My mission? To meet the really very lovely Maddie, Louise and Dave of colourful, energetic sketch group, Lead Pencil for my latest Fringe Focus interview.

We had a chat about their 2012 show, their sketch comedy peers, preparing props for this year’s show and Manchester United fans. They’ve got great energy and are one of those acts that seem to enjoy being onstage and their audience – I’ve mostly seen groups who have ‘awkward’ onstage personas recently (not that I don’t enjoy them, or that they aren’t brilliant) – but Lead Pencil seem to be open to being themselves and that can be quite refreshing.

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Watch my interview with Lead Pencil here.

Lead Pencil will be performing on the Belly Laugh stage at the Underbelly during the Edinburgh Fringe at 6:20pm nightly. You can see them at the Brighton Fringe on May 17 and 18 (details in the poster above).

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Tom Webb and Grainne Maguire

For the past couple of years, I’ve worked at the Edinburgh Fringe, trying to squeeze in as many shows as possible between the ones I was working on.

This year I’ll actually be going as a holiday – but I still wanted to do a project that celebrates the festival and the acts who’ll be performing there this August.

Each Saturday, I’ll be publishing a video interview with one of these acts on Touchcast, pulling in their posters, videos and much more. We’ll be chatting about their shows, previous festivals and the shows they’ll be in the front row for, come the summer.

The first of these interviews is with comedian Tom Webb. He’ll be taking two shows to the Fringe this tear, a stand up show, ‘MegaDudes Crime Club‘ and ‘MegaGames with Tom Webb‘, in which he plays mass-participation version of classic games with his audience.

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We chatted about his shows, giant games of Human Hungry Hippos and how nuts may help to stop you from going crazy during the gruelling festival schedule. Watch it here.

Next up I spoke to writer and stand-up Grainne Maguire about her Edinburgh panel show, ‘What Has the News Ever Done for Me?’, her first full-length show about bonnets and rain and incorporating 80s jeans and competitive dance moves into her last festival effort.

We Need to Talk About Bonnets

 

You can find out who Grainne would love to bring some ‘sex appeal’ to her panel show by watching the Touchcast here.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking to sketch group Lead Pencil and comedian Matt Winning.

My ‘everything’ tomato sauce

Before I started tinkering with tinned tomatoes and ‘finding my own way’ with recipes, I tried loads of different tomato pasta sauce recipes, but I’ve pretty much sworn by this one for a couple of years.

It’s quick, cheap and easy, goes with anything and can be adapted to your tastes. It’s also easily doubled and doesn’t require puree or vegetable stock like some recipes I’ve previously tried.

Chuck in some chopped pepper (frozen or fresh), courgettes or mushrooms after your onions are softened but before adding the chopped tomatoes and heat for a couple of minutes as an extra way of getting your five a day.

I have this with pasta (brilliant for a packed lunch) or on top of fish – particularly those frozen fillets you can get. If you’re not going with the fresh ingredients, this can be made entirely from store cupboard essentials

Frankie’s simple tomato sauce (makes two generous portions)

You will need…

  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Dried basil or mixed herbs (if you’ve got fresh, go for it)
  • One small red onion (chopped finely)
  • A few fat cloves of garlic, crushed (adjust to taste – I’m a garlic fiend)
  • Chilli powder or half a chopped red chilli (it’s properly spicey if you go fresh, so I tend to use powder – so convenient!)
  • A generous handful of sliced black olives
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Large pinch of sugar
  • A couple tablespoons olive oil

Method…

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When it’s warmed through, add the onion and the garlic. Heat until softened. Add the fresh chilli if you’re using it.
  • If you have red wine to hand, pour a generous slug of it into the pan and then heat until absorbed. Repeat with the balsamic vinegar.
  • Add chilli powder if using it and heat for a further minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, olives, sugar, salt and herbs. Heat for five minutes or until excess water from the tomatoes has reduced.
  • Serve with fresh basil and feta (depending on what you’re having it with)

I’ll be releasing a Touchcast video about this soon – for more recipe ideas, check out my Touchcast channel