Monday, 23 March 2009

Art Failure.

I feel really embarrassed today. What the fuck was I thinking yesterday when I agreed to read out blogs at WebstockY, part of the London Word Festival? That's a ridiculous thing to do. These blogs are spunked out all in one go and then forgotten about. They're not meant to be looked back at, printed out and then read out in front of people so cool that they would have to emigrate to the bottom of the sea if anyone so much as saw them smile.

Not that I'm blaming the audience. Well, they weren't really an audience for starters. They were just a bunch of arty, bored looking people who sat on the floor wearing ironic big beards and drinking fucking juice. No, the blame is firmly with me. I entered their world with nothing but swearing, grumpiness and an inability to pronounce quinoa properly.

I got there at 4 o'clock and immediately knew I'd made a mistake. There was a shop set up in the corner that sold it's own booklets and badges and provided lots of coloured markers and blank paper so that people there can draw their own pictures or create their own stories. There's a fine line between the intelligensia and the special needs. Soon everyone was settling down on the floor with their fucking juice because the first act was about to begin.

The first act was a performance poet who took photos of people's t-shirts then wrote poetry based on the t-shirt slogans. She read out her poems to a soundtrack put together from edited bits of pirate radio all stuck together and playing at the same time. Unbelievably, it was just as bad as it sounded. I walked out after a very baffling minute. I was followed out the door by someone who worked for the festival. "She's Art's Council funded", he said. "So we have to have her". Lucky bitch. Wish I'd had a good excuse to be here.

It just wasn't for me. Not that it was all bad, it was far from it. If it was exactly the same but instead of a performance poet there was a Cyberman and instead of showing short films they showed the last episode of The Tenth Planet then I would have been delighted. These people have every right to like poetry and blurred photos and non-alcoholic drinks and films about being lonely and a load of other balls. Plus Matthew Crosby was there, a man I think it's impossible to dislike (although, obviously I've tried). He's very funny, self-deprecating and he never seems to stop. He worked the entire show. Not just booking the acts (me, Andy Zaltsman, Idiots of Ants, some other chancers) but running around making sure everything was running smoothly-ish, constantly sending out Twitter updates of the days events and actually hosting the show. I like Matthew a lot. If you know him, buy him a fucking juice from me.

The second half started late due to a technical hitch. Technical hitch then became the theme of Idiots of Ants set. Never really seen Idiots of Ants before. They showed films of things they've done for BBC3 and other pretend TV stations plus sang a few songs. The films went down well but took ages to get started thanks to Apple Mac's fucking pointless inability to work when you want them to. Do Apple Mac's ever work? My favourite part of their set was when one of Idiots of Ants (there was only two of them) said that the next bit was "something we made before we became successful as Idiots of Ants". Well, I laughed.

Then it was me. Me on stage. Me on stage looking out into an ocean of bored faces. I could tell immediately that they wouldn't like me. I wasn't an artist, I wasn't making a point and I didn't have any form of digital media to show them. Apparently, these particular arty people like their lo-fi just a bit more technological. Oh, well. I started off with a bit of stand-up about fucking children. Surprisingly, that got a laugh so I thought I'd best start with the blogs. "These are things I made before they became successful as Idiots of Ants", I quipped to utter silence. Right. Here goes. The one about me being given a tennis ball for Jerk and then throwing it over a fence went down OK. I felt a bit more confident. Then I went on to read out the one about my family loving telling stories about people who got "kilt". That went down well. I was quite confident now and read out the trying to find Quinola in Sainsbury's one that got some really good laughs. I was sooooooooooooooooooo confident now. These things can work. It's not perfect, they need some work, this isn't an ideal audience but, despite everything, I'm getting some laughs and it seems that this might be a good idea after all. Then I ruin EVERYTHING by reading out just one more. Balls. Either they didn't find it in any way funny or they are all big fans of Skinnyjeans. I left the stage mentally kicking myself.

Luckily, I had my good friends Rob Heeney and Liz Buckley there to laugh at my shame. I drank my pint of beer in 9 seconds and left. Rob and I jumped in a cab to go to Islington to watch The Trap. They were hilarious which slightly made me feel worse. The thoughtless pair of cunts and another cunt. It was fantastic to see The Trap finally do a new show. It's been three years since their last one. They've replaced all their interactive media with a big piece of paper with writing on it. I like it. I hope they do something again soon. Perhaps I can support them by reading out some of my blogs. You know, or not.

The rest of my weekend in Liverpool was fun despite Saturday night's gig being pretty much ruined right from the word go by a man getting on stage and grabbing my balls. He thought it was hilarious and that's his problem. I just found it disturbing. Don't get me wrong, I love my balls but I don't think they're so lovely that people find them irresistible. Apparently, I'm very wrong about that. I must make a note to make my balls look slightly less beautiful, if that's possible, when I go out in future. I get the feeling grabbing my balls might be the new giving me a Wispa at a gig. WOMEN touching my balls, that is. Not men. Just a thought...


B said...

"Unbelievably, it was just as bad as it sounded"
I highly doubt that.

Literally getting on stage and grabbing them? How'd you follow that up?
I'd just spend the entire designated time staring at him in fright

Christopher said...

I was at the gig last night and actually really enjoyed it, your set included. It was an interesting mix and sure, the poetry project isn't for everyone, but there was a lot of different stuff on over the course of the day. The answer me this thing (which I think is what the audience were submitting for at the button stall) was hilarious. I've been to quite a few of the word festivals events - they're all pretty unusual but i've never had a bad night.

Michael Legge said...

Glad to hear it, Christopher. I really wish I'd seen Answer Me This, I hear great things about it.