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.

#WonderWomen Volume One

What a week for women in the media!

I’m constantly in awe of other women and their achievements, and I’m kicking myself for not regularly giving them the praise that they deserve. So, here’s three women who’ve rocked the world this week…

Davina McCall

Anyone who knows me personally will know of my addiction to Davina’s workout DVDs (I have four). Since doing them I’ve been healthier, happier and in the best shape I’ve ever been. (I’m too much of a chocolate raisin fan to be ultra slim, ripped etc… but I’m far more confident than I was.)

Those of you who listen to Radio 1 may be aware that Davina’s been pushing her brain and her body to the limit in the name of Sport Relief. She’s run, cycled and swam 500 miles in a week and has been totally open about how tough the experience has been. Listening to her emotional updates on the radio has been equally inspiring and devastating – and everyone I know who has ever worked with Davina has absolutely sung her praises. She’s the genuine article. The focus of Davina’s Sport Relief fundraising has been to raise money for projects in the UK, but also to create opportunities for women and girls in Kenya to have a better life. She’s a woman for women.

Naturally, I sponsored her efforts: sportrelief.com/davina. Please give if you can.

Ellen Page

Ellen Page has always made awesome movies. X-Men, Super, Hard Candy, Juno and the totally brilliant Whip It are amongst my favourites. A few years ago I carried one of her observations on the perception of feminism in my wallet, having torn it from a magazine.

It read; “I call myself a feminist when people ask me if I am, and of course I am because it’s about equality, so I hope everyone is. You know you’re working in a patriarchal society when the word feminist has a weird connotation.”

I’ve had to highlight the second part of that quote because it succinctly sums up how I feel when people say feminism should be called ‘equalism’ or is purely about women.

And now, in another powerful move, Page has made the brave decision to come out as gay at a conference focused on the young LGBTQ community. Her speech moved me very much. You can watch it below:

Page, who I’ve always thought of being intelligent and bold in her choices – both in public speaking and her movie career – admits that her sexuality and the pressure to conceal it has caused her to suffer. That a woman who can be so together as to make the speech in the video above can be a victim of societal pressures says a lot about the world – and that we’re lucky that people like Page are prepared to speak out publicly so that they might change it for the better.

Lizzy Yarnold

I think it was when we were in year 9 (possibly 10) at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls (MGGS) that Lizzy joined my school. Instantly she became ‘the one that was good at athletics’ – particularly the javelin, which no one else had a clue about. In sixth form we were put in a form together and she became a Head Student (I was a House Captain). Lizzy was popular, pragmatic and intelligent. Although a shock to see someone I had shared a classroom with appear in the papers, it wasn’t a surprise that Lizzy would become an Olympian – that it should be for fearlessly throwing herself down an icy track, subjecting her body to mind-numbing G Force and terrifying turns wasn’t either!

Quoted on the BBC Sport website, ‘The Yarnold’ (her competing nickname) says; “If you’re committed and dedicate the time to need to, then you can achieve your dreams.” Having won the first gold medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Lizzy is going to have an epic year  – here’s I’m hoping to bump into her in Broadcasting House soon.

Is there someone you’d like to nominate as a #WonderWoman? Tweet me!

The New Year list

I’m deliberately not calling this post ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ because I don’t think I need to change who I am – and nor should you – but because I’m a fan of a to-do list and this is a good excuse to create an ‘action plan’ for 2014…

2013 has been, for the most part, fine. It’s gone ridiculously fast too. There were big changes at the start and end of the year (I got dumped by email in January – ouch) and changed jobs (moving to EastEnders in late December), but for the most part I feel like I’ve coasted along.

However, everyone should take a moment to think about the good bits as well as the disappointing receiving of electronic communications and so here are a few of the highlights…

#Team NCA

The BBC Radio New Comedy Award returned in 2013 (we got a BBC Production Award nomination for the 2012 multiplatform element that I produced which was pretty cool) and I found myself without a budget so recruited a big batch of amazing volunteers to help film and edited each film myself. The core group of Producer Tilusha, Production Co-Ordinator Tam and Production Management Assistant Isma were bloomin’ hilarious and wonderful. And of course the most fabulous Executive Producer Alison Vernon-Smith and the stylish (and talented) Production Manager Hayley Nathan. My favourite production of the 18 months I spent at BBC Radio Comedy.

Grainne & J-Bugg shake up the Beeb

I found two excellent, talented friends in the new Radio Comedy bursary writers…

A Summer of gigs!

Thanks to Elena Dana, I finally started gigging in London, even making my jazz debut. And I got a new telecaster… now to get an amp (see 2014 to-do list…) I also wrote at least three songs I can count among my favourites.

Making my own damn icing, thank you very much

When I baked in the Get Flat in 2012, someone else was around to do the icing while I made the batter. My early solo icing efforts were watery and rubbish. Then one day, thanks to a Primrose Hill Bakery coffee buttercream recipe, I cracked it. (Although I did have a massive icing fuck-up the other day and had to buy the pre-mixed stuff for a Xmas party at Grainne’s but never mind…)

Comedy! Comedy! Comedy!

I saw some amazing shows and met some hilarious, lovely people this year. People who made me laugh included: Bridget Christie, Phil Wang, Steve Bugeja, Rob Carter, Katherine Bennett, Kate Lucas, Adam Hess, Tom Craine, Joe Lycett, Dean Sekhon, Peter Brush, Grainne Maguire, Mae Martin, Nick Helm Sarah Campbell, Nish Kumar, James Bran, Joe Davies, Ivo Graham James Acaster, Dane Baptiste, Jonny Pelham (and many, many more – go and check them out…)

Producing a book… sort of

In the New Year the BBC will be releasing an iBook about writing for Radio Comedy that I produced… I’ll post more about this in 2014!

Anyway, 2013 review aside, there’s loads for me to be getting on with next year, so here’s some stuff I’d like to do in 2014…

  • Buy amp to go with new telecaster (rather than playing through mixing desk connected to computer speakers)
  • Finish painting bedroom – there’s no longer a reasonable excuse for the large unpainted patch behind the wardrobe!
  • Cook a wider variety of foods (other than jacket potato, pasta and homemade sauce and stir fry)
  • Invite friends over more regularly to share wider variety of foods
  • Apologise less for the way I look
  • Be less passive when someone judges the way I look unnecessarily
  • Buy more cushions for my large sofa
  • Keep up the exercise and resist chocolate/ice cream temptations!
  • Practice guitar more
  • Find rhythm section to play with me and Reece (who I’m working on songs with)
  • Get keyboard out again
  • Record more music – and record it better
  • Read more on my Kindle
  • Find permanent contract
  • Renew ISA
  • Fill up ISA
  • Invest in more loose leaf teas
  • Save up for Canon 5D
  • Be better at getting people together – but not feel so guilty if I don’t
  • Enjoy self as much as possible
  • Blog more!

There’s definitely more – most of that reads like a shopping list! I must have January sales on the brain….