Tag Archives: stand up

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

It is no secret that I am a massive fan of comedy in all of its many forms. I have in the past done a little bit of stand up myself. This is something I still hope to do more of at some point in the future. It is great fun to do, if not a little bit terrifying. Having tried it I have huge admiration for anybody who gets up on stage and tells jokes. It is not as easy as many of the world’s comics make it look. But the buzz you get when it goes well is possibly unbeatable.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last year I made my first ever visit to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I had such a brilliant time, that I headed up to the Scottish capital for a few days once again this August. The whole thing runs for around three weeks. I went for a long weekend, around the half way point. The city is totally rammed with people. As not only is it a great tourist attraction in its own right. But the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is also on. Not to mention the World’s biggest Arts event that I was in town for.

Therefore it does pay to have a great deal of patience and a decent sense of humour. Which I think is also a useful thing to possess when attending a comedy festival. The plan for my trip was to try to see as many shows as I possibly could. I decided to take the train this time, having flown previously. On the journey up there this did not quite go completely as I intended. I got the train from my home into Kings Cross in London, which went fine.

Somehow when at Kings Cross however I managed to get on the late running 10.30am train. Instead of the 11am departure that I had pre booked my seat on. In my defence there was nothing on the board at the platform but people said the train was going to Edinburgh. I had no idea previous train was late. I thought I was just getting on a little bit early. When I got to the seat printed on my ticket it did not match my journey. I thought at this point the train company had made the mistake, not me. It was not until we pulled away ten minutes before we were due to leave, that I realised I was on the wrong train.

Neil Quigley standing on the train to Edinburgh

The guard kindly let me stay on and complete my journey. But it did mean that I had no guaranteed seat now. I ended up standing by the toilets until we reached Darlington and a place became free. Not the ideal start to my Fringe experience. But in a way it was fitting that as I was going to a comedy festival, my travel plans were turning into a scene from a sitcom. That was the sort of thing that Mr Bean would probably do, as it happened the train I was now on was running late. So I arrived in Edinburgh about an hour later than I was supposed to anyway, despite accidentally catching an earlier train.

On arrival I walked straight to my accommodation. I never went to University so never got the chance to stay in student digs. Edinburgh is a massive place for study now. Therefore is full of such buildings. I figured I only needed somewhere basic to sleep, as I would be at gigs most of the time. I booked a room in some student flats. It was pretty simplistic but did have a bed, shower and a toilet. That was all I really needed. As I checked in at the front desk the member of staff I spoke to was also from Buckinghamshire, small world.

Before I went exploring I quickly nipped out to the local shop to get some emergency supplies for the room, two big bottles of water and a packet of Jaffa Cakes. Which I believe is what Bear Grylls packs in his survival back pack. The Edinburgh Fringe has a great website on which you can book tickets to all the shows. Pay for them on line and then pick them up from various box offices around the city. I had two shows organised for that evening. Which I grabbed the tickets for at a ticket outlet on the Royal Mile.

I just had time to have a quick Lasagne and chips at Pizza Express. Then I made my way to my first gig of the weekend. That was Paul McCaffrey and his current show “Lemon”. I had seen him do some new material at the Old Rope Comedy Club in London and had really enjoyed it. Therefore I was looking forward to seeing his full show. It was excellent. He is a very personable and likeable performer, who is very funny. Hilarious jokes and spot on observations. He was at one of the many Underbelly venues. It was the perfect start to this year’s Fringe fun!

Neil Quigley

There are lots of very different venues all over Edinburgh. A lot of the bigger ones have several rooms in the same place, different bar areas and food outlets. My favourite one of these is the Pleasance Courtyard. They always have amazing acts on and I like the feel and atmosphere of the place. It is somewhere that I would tend to hang out at if I had some time between the shows that I was seeing.

It was there I headed for my next gig. That was Alun Cochrane with his “Brave New Alun” show in the Cabaret Bar. I have been listening to a lot of the Frank Skinner podcasts recently. Alun is on with Frank, which is one of the reasons that I went and saw him. I was aware of him prior to his new association with Absolute Radio. His show was fantastic. The content was properly funny. And as it happens I agree with the way he views comedy and also the intricacy of the current climate. When you are telling jokes with no other thoughts or angle other than just simply trying to make people laugh.

After a pint and a Crepe filled with Lemon and Sugar I called an end to night one and returned to my student flat to get some sleep. Not sure I missed out not going to University. I was disappointed to see that there were not any parties to attend when I got back to where I was staying. I got a decent night’s sleep. In the morning my first job was to work out what shows I was going to see that day and to book all the tickets for them online.

Neil Quigley

The intention for my two full days there were to witness five shows a day. Before I left the flat on Friday morning I had all of that day’s gigs sorted. The first one started at midday. I had to grab breakfast on the way there, so I let the golden arches and Ronald the Clown take care of that for me. My first gig of day two was Michael Legge and his new show “The Idiot” on at the Stand Comedy Club. He was drawn to my attention by other comedians mentioning him on Twitter. Reading a few of his observations online convinced me to see him.

He was brilliant. He does have quite an angry and aggressive style of delivery but it’s all carefully constructed and very funny. At first I did not share his radical views on the many silent disco groups around. However as the weekend went on and I kept getting trapped in the middle of them. I quickly came round to his way of thinking. This one is possibly not for the faint hearted with some of the subjects that he mentions but I loved it.

Next it was a bit of a gear change as I headed off to The Pleasance Dome to see “Late Lunch with Biggins” I met and interviewed the legend that is Christopher Biggins, when I was working at Ivel fm in Somerset. Not long after he won I’m A Celebrity. He is such a nice and lovely person. His show at the Fringe this year is a kind of chat show. He is introduced on stage and starts off by telling a few jokes and a few stories from his long and varied career.

Then one by one he brings on his three guests. At the performance I was at these were the super talented impressionist Ronni Ancona, who was ace. Then we had one of the stars of The Tap Pack dance show. And finally a Scottish Chemistry teacher who is also a LGBT activist. Whose school does a lot of great work in that area. It was a really enjoyable and very funny show. Biggins knows and is friends with the whole of show business. He has some great anecdotes. I mean anyone who can name drop Frank Sinatra, gets my vote.

Biggins

In between shows I was just grabbing quick drinks and some food. If you want to maximise the amount of things you see, it is advisable to stick to a tight schedule. The next comedian I saw was the wonderful Hayley Ellis. The reason I went to see her is that she recently was the support act for Sarah Millican. And I spotted her recommendation. I was really pleased I caught her. She was fantastic. I thought she had a lovely manner and style about her, very likeable. Her show is called “Nobody Puts Hayley in the corner”

I would definitely recommend you go and see it if you can. It is real, honest and expertly put together. She is certainly somebody to keep an eye out for. I suspect and hope that you may hear about her more over the next couple of years. I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. I even got to slightly join in at one point, which I like. Plus there was a chance of sustaining an injury at the end. Which I suspect would of been a unique incident even for one of these no blame, no claim sort of places.

Show number four was to see a lovely comedian whose work I have been aware of for many years. We follow each other on Twitter. And have had occasional interaction on there. But up until this point I had not seen him perform live. He is Tony Cowards and his show is called “Stepdad Jokes”. He is a classic one liner comic and possibly the king of the puns. Add to that the fact that he is such a friendly and totally inclusive performer. It was a joyful experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It contains lots of not only very funny but very clever jokes. One of the other comedians mentioned this at a later date but there does seem to be a high number of Doctors in the Fringe Audiences. There were two at this gig for starters. They must love their comedy. I managed to have a very quick chat with him after the show, which was great. He gigs all over the country. If you get the chance do try and catch him.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The final show on day two of my Fringe was one I did not think that I would get to see as her normal daily shows had sold out. Luckily for me she was doing a couple of extra weekend only performances. And I managed to get a ticket for one of those. I had seen this lady host a night at the Old Rope Comedy in London a few years ago. Her show in Edinburgh last year got excellent reviews. And this latest one was possibly going down even better. Maybe helped a bit by her winning appearance on the last series of the Dave TV Show Task Master.

I am taking about the hilarious Lou Sanders. Her latest show is called “Say Hello to Your New Step Mummy”. I got a front row seat to enjoy the action. It was totally brilliant. She is extremely funny and unique in her style and her material. I can guarantee you there are no other comedians doing jokes on some of the topics she covers. Personally I love the way she portrays herself on stage. The jokes and writing are very clever. It all just works. She is on the up and up at the minute. It comes to London at the Soho Theatre in a couple of months. Go and see it and have a bloody good laugh.

Neil Quigley

I rounded off the night in a bar listening to some live music. I caught the end of a band and then the first couple of songs of a guitar based trio. Both were ace and made a nice accompaniment to the final pint of Peroni that I was enjoying. After which it was then time to head off home to get some sleep. To be ready for another five show day on the Saturday. I was still a man on a mission.

As previously, I booked all my shows online and then collected the tickets when I reached the City Centre. The first thing I was going to see did not start until 12.30pm. Therefore I had slightly more time for brunch. So I found a really nice cafe near the Gilded Balloon area. Where I had scrambled egg on toast with bacon and a big pot of tea. This set me up nicely for the adventures ahead.

I decided to take a brief break from comedy and see a musical show. Being a fan of country music and a huge admirer of this lady. I went to see “The Dolly Parton Story”. It featured a guitarist and a female singer, unsurprisingly. There were pictures and a narration of her life story up on a big screen on the stage with the duo performing Dolly Parton songs, as the narrative progressed. It was nicely put together and very informative. I honestly learnt quite a lot of things that I did not know about her life and career.

The stars of the show were of course the two performers. They did a fantastic job doing those hugely well-known songs. I was a little bit concerned before it started as her songs are tough to sing. But the twenty-one year old singer nailed them brilliantly. I will let you in to a little secret “Coat of Many Colours” always makes me cry, it always has and I suspect it always will, every time I ever hear it. There was a nice feel to the show. It ended with us all up on our feet singing and dancing along to “9 to 5”. A perfectly performed show. It was a very enjoyable start to my final full day in Edinburgh.

The Dolly Parton Story

I have mentioned this before but I did a Stand Up Comedy course in Tring with Logan Murray, seven years ago now. One year before I did it, the man I went to see next did the same. He was a compere on the night I made my Tringe debut. Plus I have actually gigged with him on a couple of occasions. He always went down a storm. I went and saw him do his show last year. And I was really looking forward to seeing his latest offering this time around.

His name is Olaf Falafel. If you think that sounds familiar that might be because he won the Dave TV Channel Joke of the Fringe with his “I keep randomly shouting out Broccoli and Cauliflower, – I think I might have Florets” Which is from his show “Knitting with Maracas” He has featured in the top ten list for the last three years now, so you have to say he is consistent.

I ended up sitting on the front row for what was a sold out show. It is fair to say his comedy is very surreal and involves a large amount of audience interaction. I got asked a few questions, which I replied to admirably. Then I finished up being one of five people on stage with him near the end. Fame at last!

I am claiming that moment as my Edinburgh Fringe debut. Although it basically just involved me firing a cork gun. If you want to know why, you will just have to go and see the show for yourself. He is of course extremely funny and weirdly amusing. He writes clever and ridiculous jokes in equal measure. Bizarre and unexpected things happen. There is a loose narrative. But none of that really matters just submerge yourself in the madness and have a damn good old laugh. On top of all that he is a really nice bloke. Well done on your award mate, bravo!

Olaf Falafel
Olaf Falafel

I then took a couple of hours break from seeing shows, as I had a very important matter to attend to. I had to find a pub that was showing the Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur game on television. Handily I managed to find one nearby that fulfilled this need. Blimey what a game! City were all over us, we sneaked a few goals to level it up. And thanks to VAR we somehow got a point from that match. I did not have time to analyse it much as I had to go and grab a quick bite to eat before going to see my next gig.

It was back to the Pleasance Dome for this one to see Seann Walsh. If you are not familiar with his comedy you may well know him from his appearance on the last series of Strictly Come Dancing. This does feature heavily in this new show which is called “After This One I am Going Home. It focuses on a weekend last Autumn where a silly and stupid mistake caused his world to pretty much fall apart. Granted it sounds pretty bleak but it is a very funny and honest show. Detailing how things in his life lead him to that moment and more shockingly in many ways what has happened to him since.

It is quite a raw and emotional show featuring some insights into his career and life, his love and clear passion for comedy and also some very good impressions. His time on Strictly does appear to have may be subtly altered some of the usual demographic at his gigs. This act is a work of theatre as much as a straight forward stand up show. As with lots comics he makes very good points about the world and life in a funny and amusing way. It is an extremely entertaining show. That will totally make you laugh, as you would expect from a man of his calibre.

Pleasance
Pleasance Courtyard

Next it was a brisk ten minute walk back to my favourite venue the Pleasance Courtyard to see someone who has become a bit of a cult figure in Edinburgh. His show this year is celebrating his tenth year at the festival. I had seen him take part in a comedy shorts show the previous year. But this was the first time I was to see one of his full shows in person. He is Marcel Lucont and his show is called “No Dix”

He is a very suave and sophisticated “Frenchman”. Who appears on stage drinking Red Wine and this time backed by a three piece Jazz Band. He sings a few parody songs, does some monologues over the music and talks to the audience quite a bit. Plus at this particular gig he expertly dealt with a latecomer creating a delightfully funny chat with him very much having the upper hand.

As it was an anniversary show at the end he was taking requests for previous routines that he had done in his time appearing here. I very much enjoyed his show. It was not the kind of thing I would normally go and see. But he had me laughing all the way through it. He maybe reminded me of how I act after a few glasses of a decent Red Wine.

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

The final show of my Edinburgh Fringe for this year took me back to my childhood. From a very early age I had been a big fan of this star. I have fond memories watching them on television as a kid. I am now of course an adult, which is why a show at quarter to midnight called “Basil Brush Unleashed” seemed far to good to miss. It was on at one of the Underbelly Venue’s. I was actually quite excited as I made my way in. I managed to get a seat four rows from the front with a great view of the stage.

Like the Biggin’s show it was set up as a kind of variety chat show. It features some fun and spoof videos. Which were played on the huge screen on stage. Basil appeared to a massive roar at the start. He then introduced his new “Mr”, who happens to be former Britain’s Got Talent finalist Martin Cable -Reid. He appeared on that show as Kevin Cruise. But now is back being a version at least, of himself as Basil’s partner in crime.

Somebody I used to work with is very good friends with him. In fact I believe he is a godparent to her children. He was brilliant and played his role perfectly. As it was the late night show there was lots of silly messing about. And of course some things and words that you would not normally expect Basil to say. That just made them even funnier. The guest was the wonderful musical comedian Vikki Stone. There are a few parts involving audience participation. The last of which predictably does not end well for “Mr Martin”.

I thought it was hilarious and amazing to finally see Basil live. Boom Boom! He gives us his own tribute to a well-known singer for the finale. There is no way that you cannot leave this show in anything other than a good mood. It was then time to head back for my final night as a student. And to finish off those Jaffa Cakes.

Basil Brush

The next morning I got up, packed and then headed for a full English breakfast at the cafe I went to the day before. I am very much your if it ain’t broke don’t fix it kind of guy. I then had a nice walk around the grounds of Edinburgh Castle followed by a quick visit to a few gift shops. Before it was time to get on the correct train and sit in my reserved seat for the journey back to London.

I had a brilliant time at the Festival. I managed to see twelve shows in total in the three days that I was there. Which I was pretty pleased with. It is a wonderful City. That always has lots of things going on. I am already looking forward to returning once again for next year’s Fringe.

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Silky Skills

Hello, Happy Easter for last weekend. Are you still wading your way through a mass of chocolate? Or did you just have a massive binge on it last Sunday. I think Easter Sunday is the only day of the year that you can just about justify having chocolate for breakfast. I hope you had a lovely long Bank Holiday, enjoyed the weather and got to catch up with the family.

I actually had a pretty quiet Easter, much like Jesus did really, to be fair. He did not really do much after the Thursday evening. I did go to a family barbecue on Easter Sunday. Which was very enjoyable. And pretty civilised for this sort of affair. It was my first Al Fresco dining of the year. Well in England. In the Caribbean in January I was eating outside pretty much all of the time.

I am still delighted by the fact that my parents still insist on buying me an Easter Egg. Every year I say I am fine. And that they do not need to get me one. Yet every year I am so happy and pleased that they do. It always gets eaten within a day or two. Well my theory is if I leave any chocolate lying around the house. It will only get eaten. So I might as well eat it as soon as possible.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I recently paid my second visit to one of London’s premier comedy pubs. The Bill Murray in Islington. It is part of the Angel Comedy Club. Along with the Camden Head. Which is just down the road. Between them they put on lots of great gigs. Pretty much every night of the week.

A lot of well known comics use it to do work in progress and warm up shows. Where they are trying out new material. As a comedy fan who does some stand up. I do find these shows fascinating. As I like to see their thought process. How they structure the joke. And if I can work out the writing game that they may have used to come up with it.

But mostly I like going to these things, as they are in small rooms and are very funny events. Previously I saw Eddie Izzard there. This trip was to see Russel Howard do some new stuff in preparation for a big arena tour. He is doing later in the year. I have seen him a few times before. Doing a full show in Yeovil and a warm up one at The Phoenix in London. I have been a fan of his for years. I really like his topical television shows to.

Old Rope Comedy
Old Rope Comedy

He had a warm up act with him Steve Hall. Who also writes a lot of his TV shows with him. Steve was also doing new material ready for his Edinburgh Fringe Show in August. From what I saw and heard it will be worth catching if you are up in the Scottish capital during the festival. He then introduced Russell to the stage.

I am not sure if it was something he was trying out for this gig only or if the new show’s content and set up will require it. But it was a little more abrasive and even angrier Russell, in places. Than I had seen previously. Still very funny and clever with his jokes and delivery. It was quite an early gig with people having come straight from work. So maybe as a whole audience we were not possibly as receptive as he was hoping.

It could even have been a challenge from Steve Hall to play the gig that way. Just for a bit of fun. I really enjoyed it and thought he was fantastic. But as I have said earlier it was a different vibe to what I was expecting. Part of the structure is that he is getting older and grumpier, so he may be tapping in to that to set the tone for some of the subjects he is addressing.

Either way by the time this hits those big arenas. I have no doubt it will be a fully formed hilarious show. If you are a fan of comedy. It is worth keeping an eye on the Angel Comedy Club. As they do have some cracking gigs on there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

For the first time this year. I went to see the final of The Musical Comedy Awards. The reason I went was that somebody I knew was in it. And I went along to support them. That man was the brilliant Paul “Silky” White. I first met him when I made my Stand Up debut at the wonderful Tringe Roving Comedy Night. I ended up giving him a lift back to his hotel. He is a lovely bloke and an extremely funny guy.

I have seen him perform several times since. I made sure I went and caught his Edinburgh show. When I was up there last year. He is a comic that does jokes. But he also plays the guitar and does some musical comedy. Hence why he was appearing at this event. After quite rightly storming through the heats to the final.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

It was held at The Bloomsbury Theatre. Which is actually a lovely venue. It was the first time I had been. I was very impressed with the place. Randomly as I was on my way there I bumped into Silky, so got to wish him the best of the luck for his performance. Which was a nice bonus. It was great to see him, albeit very briefly.

When I got inside I met up with the man behind the Tringe Festival Ben Moorhouse at the bar. He was also there to support Silky. He was telling me that the line up is almost finalised for this year’s event and once again it is top quality. There will be some great acts coming to Tring to perform. Plus watch out for the marketing campaign for it which is going to be brilliant. Nice to see him and have a quick catch up.

I actually had front row seats for the show. I had found out that Silky was on first. So I made sure I got to my seat nice and early. So I was ready to laugh, clap and cheer for him. Previous finalists of this event have included Abandoman and Rachel Parris. The host for the night was Nick Horseman. He came on first. And got the crowd hyped and ready for what was ahead.

Bloomsbury Theatre

Silky came on first. He started with a tribute to the comedian Ian Cognito. Who had recently died on stage. While performing at a comedy night in Bicester. He then went into a couple of very funny musical songs. He was getting plenty of laughs. I thought he was, as ever great. It is always tough to go on first in a final. But I thought he did an excellent job.

Then we had The Dragprov Review who tried to improvise a musical. I thought they did alright. But I have been lucky enough to see the Show Stoppers. Who are amazing at doing just that. So for me the bar has been set very high for this type of act. Other performers on the night included Jamie Finn, Huge Davies, Louis Burgess, Matt Hutson, Joe Jacobs and Charlie Patridge.

Apart from Silky, who I know and think is great. The act that I really enjoyed the most were Maris Piper. They are a duo who do topical parody songs of well known records. Their lyrics and subject choices were smart and funny. The punch lines were sometimes obvious but that was mainly down to rhyming. And the famous tunes that they were using being so familiar. They did make me laugh out loud.

The Step Dads came on last. They were very off the wall and quirky. It was all a bit surreal. They were certainly the most different act of the night, in my opinion. My favourite act was Katie Pritchard. She came on as a self proclaimed tour guide. Then performed parody songs explaining some big historical attractions. In a funny, clever and amusing away. Plus she really did put everything in to her performance. She was totally going for it.

While the judging panel made their decisions. We were treated to a performance by the act that had already won the Best Newcomer award Hadfield and Swan. They did a couple of very funny numbers. Again I thought this duo were great and worth keeping an eye out for.

Then the headline act The Brett Domino Trio came on. I have been aware of them for a long time. I have heard them on the radio and seen them on TV. So it was great to witness them live at last. They were brilliant. Everything I expected them to be. Great fun!

After this final performance the winners were announced. In third place were Maris Piper. In second it was the Step Dads and the act that won the title was Katie Pritchard. Who I think on the night did deserve it.

I thought Silky should have been top three. Then again I would think that. A very entertaining night out seeing some funny people doing their thing. I already plan to go again to next years’ finals. Well done to the organisers and everyone who took part.

Neil Quigley doing Stand Up
Neil Quigley doing Stand Up

A very Happy 25th Birthday to Mix 96 for the 15th April. It is my local radio station. And it was an absolute honour to be able to work there in several spells over the years.

I actually ended up doing my work experience from College there for two weeks back during its first twelve months. As a result of that I went along to the station’s first birthday party at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. With all of the presenters. Which was brilliant fun.

Neil Quigley

It was the Mix 96 presenters who suggested that if I was wanting to get into radio. I should get involved with Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio. Which I did spending around seven years there. It was doing this that enabled me to get on to Mix 96. Firstly just assisting on the Sports Show.

Before going on to present that and then host Drive Time, Mid Mornings and the Evening Show over the years. I would have presented my first show there in 1998 and my last show was in 2012. Mind you I had a five year break from the Buckinghamshire airwaves. When I was working in Somerset.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

I have some great memories of being there over the years. Including helping to carry Kim Mazelle to and from the stage at a very muddy Fireworks Night. Being involved with the radio “Big Brother” we did called The Big Lock Up. All the County Show outside broadcasts.

Interviewing Victoria Pendleton. And just the laughs that we would have on and off air. It was a time of my life that I am very proud of. You absolutely cannot beat broadcasting on your home town radio station. There is nothing like it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I hoped it would happen. I knew we could do it. But the way the second leg panned out away against Manchester City was crazy. I have never watched a match like it. I was emotionally drained by the end of it. Shocked and delighted that we had made it through to the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. One minute we were out and then thirty seconds later after VAR stepped in. We were through to face Ajax. Now just two games away from a place in the big final in Madrid.

City got their revenge in the league game the following Saturday. In a one nil win. That I thought we probably just about deserved a draw out of. It means the fight for a top four finish and Champions League qualification for next season is still a bit too close for comfort. But with two out of our final three games at our new home. I think we can do it. And finish the season on a high.

Our situation was also helped by our home win against Brighton on Tuesday. We left it late. The eighty-ninth minute to be precise. The joy and relief around the stadium when Christian Eriksen’s shot hit the back of the next was palpable.

We have now won all four games at the new place and not even conceded a goal yet. Before the game I also had the pleasure of meeting two Spurs Legends in Tony Galvin and Pat Jennings. They were both fantastic.

Neil Quigley and Pat Jennings

I have been back at the BBC recently doing some work there. It is always a fun place to be. You never know who you are going to end up working with or who you could randomly bump in to.

I saw the current host of the Radio One Breakfast show Greg James leaving as I was on my way in to the building the other day. One of the people I work with looks just like him, so at first I thought it was him. And I could not work out why he did not acknowledge me. So Greg, sorry for looking at you a bit weird.

BBC
BBC

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

Musical Fun

Hi there, here we are again then. They do say that as you get older time seems to go quicker. I cannot believe two weeks have gone by already, since we spoke last. I have actually had quite a busy time. Which is exactly how I like things to be. I mean for starters it keeps me away from the news and other serious things happening at the moment. Music and comedy, I think is the way forward.

Neil Quigley

I must admit I have been to Las Vegas and I am certainly not adverse to a bit of gambling. However during my latest trip to a Casino. I did not bet a penny. I was at The Rialto in Leicester Square recently to see my mate Mike Sterling perform in his “Stars Of The West End” show. Alongside Karen Mav and Jenny Fitzpatrick.

Stars Of The West End

It was actually the first time I had been there. It is quite a nice and cool place. Not just for a gamble but also for a drink and a bite to eat. When I arrived they had a brilliant pianist and singer performing in the bar area. I got to meet him later on in the night. He is a top class bloke. He was in the original cast of the musical Rent. He also plays in a few different bands. Just a really nice and talented guy.

Then came the start of the actual show. Mike was on first. He did a selection of songs from various musicals. Including of course from Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera. The two shows in which he has played the lead role in the West End. As ever he was sounding sensational. He does have an exceptional voice. He did about thirty minutes. Then there was another interlude with the pianist Richard doing some more songs.

Mike Sterling

Next up on stage was Karen Mav. She was on the X-factor in 2015 and she played Effie White in Dream Girls in London. She did a few songs from that musical. And a few Whitney Houston numbers. She also has such a great voice. She was fantastic. Mike Sterling also did a duet with her. Then it was back to the hardest working man on the night, Richard. For some more tunes from him and his keyboard.

Karen Mav

Lastly we had the lovely Jenny Fitzpatrick. She has been in The Blues Brothers, Sister Act and Ghost. And most recently she was sharing the lead role as Tina Turner in Tina the Musical. I was lucky enough to see her in it and she was phenomenal. On this particular night she mainly did songs from that latest show. Mike joined her on stage to do “Proud Mary”. She was amazing. Her voice is just so strong and powerful. The evening ended with all three of them doing Queen’s “A Kind Of Magic”

Jenny Fitzpatrick

I managed to have a quick chat with Karen and Jenny after the show. They were both so nice and very friendly. I have always liked being around performers. There is a certain vibe and energy that they give off. Which I really love. They then had to dash off home as they were both working the following morning.

I finished the night having a drink and a chat with Mike and the rest of the crew. It was a wonderfully entertaining evening. With three amazing performers singing in what was a relatively small venue. It always makes me feel proud seeing a mate on stage killing it to. Yet another top night out in the capital.

Stars Of The West End

I have mentioned this place before. The Museum Of Comedy is such an great small venue in the Bloomsbury area of London. It has lots of brilliant comedy memorabilia on show. Also Logan Murray my top comedy teacher runs Stand Up Courses there. And quite a few well known comics use it to do warm up or work in progress gigs. This is the reason why I was there the other week.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I always like trying to see comedians that I have not seen live before. I am such a huge comedy fan. There are lots of comics that I like. I was therefore pleased to be able to tick Frankie Boyle off that list finally. I have been aware of him since his appearances on Mock The Week. I do appreciate he is not to everybody’s taste. And shall we say some of his jokes can be a bit near the knuckle. But in my eyes if I find something funny, as far as I am concerned it is funny.

The Tommy Cooper Room at the Museum of Comedy holds about eighty. It was absolutely packed awaiting the Scottish comedian’s appearance. He had a support act on first. That was the excellent Tiernan Douieb. He falls in to the category of people I was aware of but had not seen before. I enjoyed his set. He then introduced the man himself Frankie Boyle to the stage. I cannot repeat the words he greeted the audience with. But let us just say those three words set the tone for the night.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

I thought he was brilliant. I was laughing a lot. My face was hurting by the end. Yes it is true some of the subjects could be described as sensitive. And as you would expect nothing was off limits. But this was a comedy gig with a comedian known for hard hitting material. I heard nothing that I did not expect to. It was in a room full of people who had chosen to be there. And as with a lot of comedy there was often a social or other point to the joke. Regardless of what it was about.

Believe it or not seeing him on stage during a warm up gig. Where he was chatting between bits and setting things up. And I do not want to spoil any illusions. But he is actually quite a nice and thoughtful man. I am really pleased I saw him.

He was working on new material for both his next big tour and his upcoming television series. And from what I saw both of these things are going to be worth seeing. If you enjoy having a laugh. Hilarious ninety minutes in a delightful venue is how I would sum up this experience.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Totally by chance I ended up going to the Comedy Store in London on International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion they had an all female line up. I had already seen most of these comics live before so I already knew they were good. By the way if you have not been it is your classic London Comedy venue.

Anybody who is anybody from the world of comedy. Will have performed there at some point. The set up and sound system is perfect for comedy. As you would expect. I am not saying a lot of comics are recovering alcoholics. But they do the best selection of soft drinks from any bar I have seen. I enjoyed a pint of Pineapple Juice while I was there.

The compere for the night was the fantastic Laura Lexx. Who I had previously seen doing the warm up for an episode of Upstart Crow. And who I bumped into very briefly at the last Tringe Festival Roving Comedy night. She was great, as always. The first act on was Sarah Keyworth. I had not seen her before. She was hilarious. Really good. Got the crowd on side and some big laughs from the off. I suspect we will be seeing more of her over the next year or so.

Then it was an American comic, who I was not familiar with called Spring Day. She is from New York. After spending sometime living and working in Japan. She has been performing in England for over five years now. She was really good to. A very different style of act from the opener. But with some topical and clever gags.

The final act of the first half was the amazing Kerry Godliman. I had seen her before at a comedy club. We went to on a friend’s Stag Do. You may know her from Ricky Gervias’s Derek or After Life. Or from Bad Move with Jack Dee. She is a powerhouse of a performer. I like her and think she is really funny. Her stuff is so conversational and fast paced. After her set there was of course the obligatory twenty minute interval.

Comedy Store Players
Comedy Store Players

Comedy clubs, football stadiums and theatres are places where you will more than likely have to queue to use the Men’s toilet. We are slowly nudging nearer to equality with women on this one, I feel. In the second half after Laura Lexx had got the audience fired up again.

It was Jen Brister on first. I had seen her before headlining at a sadly short lived comedy night in Aylesbury. Once again this time around. She was fantastic. It is worth seeing her show. Just for the brilliant impression of her mother, if nothing else.

The headline act was a comedian, I really do like. I was lucky enough to see her perform one of her Edinburgh Festival Shows at the BBC Radio Theatre. A couple of years ago. Which was excellent. She is the ace Suzi Ruffell. I think that she is a fantastic performer. You really cannot take your eyes off her. When she is on stage. She has a nice rapport with the audience. And most importantly she is very funny,

It was a perfect fun Friday night. Spent laughing at the Comedy Store. It just happened to be a line up of all women. I think a lot of women are funny. And I think a lot of men are funny. I could not honestly care. Which bathroom you chose to use. If I think you are funny, you are. The only factor I will judge people on is their jokes. As ever a night at a comedy venue. Always makes me want to get back on stage myself.

The Comedy Store

I had a fantastic day out at the Cheltenham Festival last Wednesday. If you are a huge fan of horse racing like I am it is a brilliant spectacle. The course and its settings are amazing. The races are of the highest quality. And the Guinness there is pretty decent to.

I went with a few of my mates. We took the train there. It is a nice journey with lovely scenery to enjoy, While we were queuing for the shuttle bus to the course. I spotted none other than queen of cakes Mary Berry behind me.

Cheltenham Festival

We were in the Club Enclosure. Which gives you a fantastic view of the whole course and is situated right on the finishing line. The races were all close and exciting. There were two stand out performances on the day. Altior in the Champion Chase was astonishing. Not at his best. But such a desire to win and be the first across that line. A truly beautiful horse.

And also Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase. We watched that from the middle of the course. He eased to victory in that so easily in the end. Which explains why he is now considered as one of the favourites for this year’s Grand National.

Cheltenham Festival

It was a brilliant day out. The racing was top class. As well as the company. I was the only one of our group not to have a winner. But that did not matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the day still. I am already looking forward to going there next year.

Although Aintree awaits next this year. And that is always good. Special thanks goes to my friends wife. Who picked up four slightly merry gentleman and gave them a lift home from the course.

Alan Partridge is back on our TV screens again fronting a BBC show. After the slight incident on his first first ever series in the ninety’s. When a guest got shot dead in the last episode. I am a fan of Steve Coogan. As someone who works in radio and television myself. I can of course see a bit of Alan in me. Sometimes unintentionally, we have done some of the things that he makes a habit of. On my last holiday I read “his” last book. Which was brilliant.

I am really enjoying the new series. There is nothing missing from it. In fact there is so much going on in every scene. That you need to see it a few times. Or you will miss some of the gags. Especially the visual ones. I am finding bits of it quite odd. As some of it was filmed at Broadcasting House in London.

If you saw the first episode. The lift he was in. Is the one I use every time I am there working. And I have often used the toilets he was loitering outside. Sadly I did not bump in to him at all. When he was filming the show. I am looking forward to watching the rest of series.

BBC
BBC

As ever there is never a dull moment being a Tottenham Hotspur fan. We lost away to Southampton last weekend. Which means we are just about hanging on to third place in the league. We now have a few weeks break to regroup. Thanks to us being out of the FA Cup and the following international break. In that time there should be two test events at the new stadium. Which if they go to plan means that our next Premier League home game will be played there.

Finally it looks like I will actually get the chance to sit in my season ticket seat. When that game is. Depends on some FA cup results that involve other clubs. The next game though, will be away at Anfield against Liverpool. Always a tough place to go. But we do really need a win. I am hoping the rest and a trip for the squad to Barcelona. Can help us finish the season strongly. Come on you Spurs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Sad news the other week as my local commercial radio station. And the place that I made my professional broadcasting debut Mix 96 has been sold. It had been owned by UKRD.

It is now part of one of the two largest radio groups in the United Kingdom called Bauer. I fear it may mean the end of the Aylesbury station, as we know it. My thoughts and best wishes are with my friends and former colleagues there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day. An occasion I always try to mark in some way. Using my very loose Irish links and my surname to just about justify me having a few pints of Guinness.

I will let you know where and how I celebrated this event. When we talk next.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

Check Mate

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to say I could not believe it, that my mate Ben Langley did not make it through to
at least the Semi-final stages of Britain’s Got Talent. Sadly exactly what I feared occurred. He was not selected in that last show where they have to whittle down all the people that they said yes to. To the actual number of places available in the live shows. That was despite him getting four yes’s and a standing ovation from the judges.

I was a little bit concerned that this might happen to him. The reason for that is that he was shown very early on in his episode. He was not interviewed before. They did not really give us any of his back story. But later in the same programme a few of the acts who also got put through received this treatment. Probably a total coincidence but at least a couple of these did make it through to the semi-finals.

I appreciate I might well be a bit biased with him being a friend. But I have seen him perform a lot over the last ten years. And I would say that he can offer a lot more variety and potential than some of the people who made it through. Mentioning no names Opera Cake eating lady. They always put a few quirky and odd acts through to the finals. It does make the show more interesting. Although it is a little frustrating when this is sometimes done at the expense of the talented individuals.

Ben Langley
Ben Langley

Ben has toured with Joe Pasquale, Cannon and Ball and supported Paul Zerdin on his one man show. He was in the Detectorists, albeit briefly and is on CBeebies. Therefore I concede that he is not exactly unknown. Which is may be what they think the show is about.

But Lost Voice Guy, who I love and who truly deserved to win it. Actually won the BBC New Comedy Award a few years ago,  so he was hardly plucked from obscurity either. That said I think he will be excellent at the Royal Variety Performance. I must also say well done to the ace Dec. Who did brilliant job hosting it. Those opening numbers that he was doing were epic.

It was nice to see Ben getting some encouragement and words of support from the legend that is Bobby Ball on his Facebook page. He is currently performing his Ben Langley show all other country. He will be in Pantomime again. As he has been every year since I have known him. Plus he may well tour the UK with his Ha Ha plays again. What I am saying is keep an eye out for him. If you get the chance go and see him in action. You will have a fun and entertaining time.

Ha Ha Hood
Ha Ha Hood

I have to confess owing to the fact I am genuinely so busy. I like to plan things in advance and normally have very structured weeks. I often know what I am doing months in advance. But occasionally something out of the blue and spontaneous will occur. Which is always great fun.

This happened the other week. I was at work when I noticed via social media. That one of my best friends and his wife were out in London at my favourite pub. I knew they were celebrating their 10th Anniversary. But I had not seen them both for a while, so I messaged them to see if they fancied a drink with me.

I finished work and had not heard anything back. I was walking to Marylebone Train Station. When my phone rang. It was my mate’s wife seeing where I was and if I was still up for a drink. The answer was yes I am and I am on my way to you now. Luckily I know a nice little pub just round the corner. We met up there and had a great catch up over a few drinks.

It was brilliant to see them and we had a lovely time chatting and laughing. I did feel a little bit guilty about gate crashing their day. But I was there the first time they ever met. Therefore I felt that it was perfectly acceptable for me to be with them. We got the train home together. Then said our goodbyes. It was a wonderful impromptu way to end the working day.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last week I went and saw the latest West End production of Chess. It was only on for a limited run, so I was pleased that I did manage to catch it. It is written by Tim Rice with music and lyrics also supplied by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame. It was first performed in London in 1986. This latest version was at the London Coliseum.

Chess
Chess

One of the main reasons I wanted to see this show was because of the cast. That they had assembled for it. I have been a long time fan of Michael Ball. But had never had the chance to see him on stage. He was playing one of the lead roles. Alongside a man reprising the role that he had played in the original production Murray Head. Ball plays the Russian and Head the American.

The two female leads were also great. One whom I had seen perform before and the other who I had been trying to see for a while. They were Cassidy Janson and Alexandra Burke. I saw Cassidy when she was playing Carole King in Beautiful and she was sensational in that. Alexandra had been on The One Show when I was there once. But she showed off her dancing not her singing that evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Chess. The staging was very clever and involved a lot of video images on big screens with live cameras on stage to capture the footage. The music and songs are fantastic. As you would fully expect from the people who are behind them. The whole cast were totally amazing.

Michael Ball was exceptional. His voice is just immense. When he is on that stage belting out those songs. He is a truly terrific performer. Murray Head was brilliant to. In a role he has really made his own. I particularly enjoyed him doing One Night In Bangkok. A song he had a number twelve hit with in the UK.

Cassidy Janson was just ridiculously good. Her voice is like velvet and her acting is faultless. She is just such a good all round star. I love watching her on stage. Alexandra Burke also blew me away from her first song. She proved what a amazing singer and performer she is. It made the whole theatre sit up and pay attention.

I have already mentioned one of the two best known songs from this musical. The other is performed by the two ladies. The two original leading ladies had a number hit with it in the eighties. They were Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson. The song I am talking about is “I Know Him So Well. Which is immaculately performed by Cassidy and Alexandra. Real goose bumps and hairs on the back of your neck standing up stuff.

I enjoyed the show and I was impressed by how good the cast were. But the reason this show has not had the longevity of other musicals, like Phantom of Opera for example. Is possibly due to the story not being quite strong enough. And it not containing enough poignant dramatic moments. I thought it was great and I am sure they will bring it back again in the future. It is I think quite amusing that the main American character’s surname is Trumper. Just as it was in the original.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see James Acaster do a work in progress gig for his latest show at The Museum Of Comedy in London. It is a lovely little place. It only holds about eighty people. They have improved the bar area there recently. Which just makes it a bit easier to sit and have a drink before the entertainment starts.

As the name of the place suggests there are lots of historic comedy items and memorabilia dotted around the including a signed printed copy of the classic Two Ronnies “Four Candles” Sketch and an old Freddie Starr red stage jacket. Not to mention some Spitting Image masks and the back door from the Trotters three wheeler from Only Fools and Horses.

Museum of Comedy
Museum of Comedy

It was slightly odd when we walked into the performance room, as James was already on the stage waiting for us. I know it is a small venue and there is not a dressing room. But this is the first time I had experienced that. I am not sure if that was something new he was testing. Or if he could not be bothered to hide from us for the sake of it. Which I completely understand, to be honest.

He was trying out a lot of new stuff that may or may not make it into the finished and final polished show. He was also telling us about his weekend. To see if he could find any comedy value in it and get some future material from that. He is one of the top gigging comics around at the moment, really good.  His recent appearances on television panel shows have been brilliant to.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

It was a fun evening seeing some comedy rounded off with a trip to Byron Burger. Which is pretty much my default burger restaurant. When I am in London. You know exactly what you are going to get there and their burgers are tasty.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Tottenham Hotspur have signed a deal with the Beavertown Brewery to be the official craft beer of their new stadium. Therefore I thought I better have a can of their Neck Oil Beer to wash my food down with. As an appreciation of the new connection with my football team.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I like most of the country on Bank Holiday Monday watched the last ever episode of Car Share. Peter Kay and Sian Gibson are both great in it. The story line works and makes total sense. The dialogue is top quality comedy. But as I have said previously. The thing I really love about it is the additional comedy from the radio station and the ace visual jokes. That have been getting better with every programme.

In the last show there were at least three things I spotted in the shot as the car was driving around that made me laugh out loud. Ranging from stickers on cars, to posters and shop signs. I would imagine that I missed lots of other gags. Some of those radio adverts are genius. I think he has ended it at the right time. As great creators and writers always do with these projects.

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

Yesterday I had my six monthly hospital appointment for my ears. I have had problems with them for the last three years. I am not sure if it is as a result of years of wearing headphones or of too many loud music gigs. But they do get quite bunged up. Therefore twice a year I have to go and have them basically hoovered out.

They have a special machine that can shall we say remove any debris from the area. It does make a weird noise and give you a slightly odd sensation, when it is happening. There is also a camera attached, so you can see what is going on. But as I am so squeamish. I try not to look. I always feel happier that I can hear much better after having it done. l am already booked in for my next appointment in December.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil