Next week (Monday the 26th to be precise) Saddlegoose Comedy are bringing two very promising acts and their work in progress shows to the Bath Brew House; George Rigden and Frank Foucault. Ahead of the night, we caught up with them both.
Lise @ Bath Comedy Calendar: For those who haven’t seen you before, how would you describe your act?
George Rigden: It’s basically a character act of a delusional & impossibly arrogant man who thinks he’s irresistible to women, owing to the fact he sings and wears a tie. But I must stress, it is a character – albeit one who looks and sounds just like me.
Frank Foucault: This is always a really hard one to answer. Someone last night said “It was like Monty Python, but it wasn’t the same.” which made me laugh. It’s sort of a silly, clown, cabaret, music-hall type act. I’m not a huge fan of describing anything as ‘alternative’, but I think I have to eventually come to terms with that label.
L: Who would you say are your main influences? Did you have a favourite act before you got into performing yourself?
GR: The Office changed my life and remains the best thing I’ve ever seen of any kind, I probably wouldn’t have considered a career in comedy if it hadn’t been made. As far as stand up goes? Tim Key and Lee Mack are the comics who made me want to perform myself – both painfully funny and inventive in a very natural, fundamental and silly way. I also recently discovered Rory Scovel’s Netflix special and it’s the funniest single hour of comedy I’ve ever seen. Perfect, a real benchmark.Key and Lee Mack aside, I hate to sound like a basic bitch but everything Steve Coogan does is dynamite – even the stuff that isn’t as good as Partridge is still bordering on genius. The radio series of Knowing me, Knowing you still makes me honk like a goose even after the thousandth listen.
FF: Tommy Cooper I think is a big one. Someone who seems to be intrinsically funny, you could laugh at his silhouette. Eric Morecambe as well. I think this is why I flinch at the alternative label. Cos Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe in their time couldn’t have been more mainstream. And yet I think if someone came on the scene today, who’s whole act was pretending to fuck up magic tricks and telling deliberately bad jokes, they’d probably have a hard time getting booked for an opening club twenty. I don’t know, maybe I should write a Chortle think-piece or something.
L: ( to George) You’re a familiar face on the Bristol comedy scene, is there something special about gigging in the Bristol and Bath area?
GR: Absolutely – I truly believe that Bristol has the finest scene for emerging comics in the country, you need only look at the recent deserved success of Morgan Rees and Riordan DJ to see that and their continued ascendancy is a source of great pride. The audiences in Bristol and Bath are consistently excellent and some of the very best gigs in the land are right here. Speaking for myself as an act, I can’t think of another place I’d have preferred to start performing comedy – I owe everything to Bristol, both professionally and personally. Its a magical place.
L: You’re working on your full show for Edinburgh at the moment, how are you finding the process?
GR: Equal parts stressful and rewarding – writing and performing a full show is an entirely different beast to doing a set and it’s a new skill that I’m finding I have to learn from scratch. I’ve been performing comedy full time for almost 3 years, coming up to 5 years in total since my first gig and I’ve written more in the last 6 months since the fringe last year than I have in any of the years prior. Comics should always be striving to generate new content but its very easy to rest on your laurels when you have something that works – doing a full Edinburgh show forces your hand to work harder in that regard, and while it’s hard work its also the most gratifying sensation I’ve enjoyed since I started doing stand up. There is no greater buzz in comedy than having a new bit work straight out of the traps, and having something to work on means that process is constant and exhilarating. There’s nothing more affirming than holding an audience of an hour with stuff that you’ve written yourself.
FF: I love it. I’ve done most of the hard work already, cos I’ve been previewing it since May. I suppose it really should be more ready than it is, but the show exists now. It’s just a process of ironing out the many creases, refining, cutting and generally making it better.
L: Do you have a best and/or worst gig anecdote that you’re willing to share? (To Frank: I ask this in the knowledge that you once did a gig for me at Halloween which was invaded by two kids on a massive sugar high!)
GR: The most fun I’ve ever had at a gig was doing Funz & Gamez at latitude festival – for the uninitiated, funz and gamez is a kids show where the humour is pitched squarely at the adults, skimming over the kids heads. To give you some idea of the vibe, I played a paedophile koala bear who came onstage to sing a song announcing the fact he’s moving to the area. It’s horribly dark and inappropriate and the best thing I’ve ever been involved in. As for worst? I’ve been threatened a couple of times by audience members at gigs who’ve taken my act at face value, but the stand out has to be last august at a gig in London just after the fringe when a drunk guy threw two shot glasses at me when I called him a creep. I was shaken, but carried on to finish the set because I’m a hero/didn’t want to miss out on being paid. All about integrity.
FF: That gig was a genuine delight. There’s definitely a part of me that revels in situations that get out of control. I did a gig in Liverpool last year where the audience had been really horrible. To cut a long story short, I ended up putting a beer mat up my arse for ten pounds. There’s a video on Facebook somewhere of a whole crowd chanting “ten pounds! ten pounds! ten pounds!” at the audience member who challenged me. I’m just standing there with a beer-mat up me waiting to be paid. I was about to march the crowd to a cash point before his mate gave me a tenner. As soon as I got it, I was like “thank you very much, I’ve been George Rigden!” then just got on the next train home.
L: Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to people who don’t go to many gigs (yet)?
GR: Go. Why aren’t you at a gig right now?! Idiot. Every comic you see performing on TV or at a big theatre started out at the small gigs, many of the best of which are in Bristol and Bath. Everybody wants an ‘I saw them when…’ Story, and if that’s not enough of an inventive? Comedy is the best night out money can buy and is usually a fraction of the cost of the average night at the pub.
FF: I think some people have a fear of going to live comedy. I have a few close friends who outright hate stand up. But I think if you get over the idea of “what if it’s shit?”, and instead think “yeah it could be shit, but wouldn’t that be great as well!”, and go with an open mind, then you’re bound to have an exciting evening.