Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Short fringe


See what I did there? Fringe. Like hair. No? Fine. Screw you.

Anyway, I brought "Showman" back to the Edinburgh fringe this month for a limited season of sixteen performances - which of course meant that within those two and a bit weeks, I ended up doing a total of fifty five shows, spots and other associated stage-based arsing arounds. Good times. Tiring, but good.

During a chat with the always delightful Hardeep Singh Kohli I heard myself saying that this year I finally felt that I wasn't knocking on the door trying to get into somewhere, but was on the inside, accepted. I'm aware of the slight level of self-involved bollocks that implies, but its the honest truth. This year, although the weather was bad, even for Scotland, and audiences were maybe a little down across the board, it felt a bit easier. The rave, five star reviews, helped. haha.

I certainly had a lot of fun doing my show, and hanging out with gangs of friends from the worlds of street performing, cabaret and comedy. Ahh, the precious nourishment to be gained from created families.

Best moments of the fringe for me: Hurting my knee, getting some painkillers, and then, while under the influence of said painkillers, buying a house. That's a special kind of thrill. Also: Watching Lili La Scala fall off her piano, headfirst into the lap of her pianist, and then just stay there. Cabaret pizza club, of course, and its young spinoff group, the Meltdown society (Deep fried mars bars for the win).

Here's a few things my iphone saw while I was there.


If you do like my photos, then I'm all over instagram, so maybe consider following me there?

 Aaaand the "Showman" tour rolls on - I'm out of the country for a few days, and then I'm bringing the show to the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal on Saturday 30th August. Spread the word and COME!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Mat Ricardo's London Varieties is back online!

After a few technical difficulties, I'm very pleased to say that four episodes of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties are now back online, for anyone to watch, for free. The shows feature some of the most interesting and entertaining people from the world of comedy and variety in conversation and in performance, including - Al Murray, Paul Daniels, Eddie Izzard, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Piff the Magic Dragon, Eastend Cabaret and many more. I'm very proud of them, and I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I enjoyed making them!

mat ricardo's london varieties - Show one from Mat Ricardo on Vimeo.

Mat Ricardo's London Varieties - Show Two - Featuring Al Murray, The Boy With Tape On His Face, and much more from Mat Ricardo on Vimeo.

Mat Ricardos London Varieties - Show Three from Mat Ricardo on Vimeo.

Mat Ricardo's London Varieties - Show Four - featuring Eddie Izzard, Piff the Magic Dragon and much more! from Mat Ricardo on Vimeo.

Feel free to embed to share them wherever and however you like!

And if you like my stuff, come see me at the Edinburgh Fringe, and on tour throughout 2014/15.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Street photography in Italia

Just got back from a delightful work/holiday combo in Italy. Snapped off a few images with the iphone while I was wandering around Milan, and various other places.

Oh, and by the way, if images are your thing, I'm now on instagram, as TheMatRicardo, so come and friend/follow/add/stalk/tolerate/ignore, as appropriate :)

And don't forget...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The dark truth of touring with Brian Conley

Ok, ok, there is no dark truth. It was a total delight from beginning to end, and I sumbit the following curtain-call selfie as evidence that a good time was had by all.

Here's the thing about Conley: He is, as we used to occasionally say at Covent Garden about people with a penchant for schtick, "one of us". He thinks of himself as a singer first. "I was born to sing", he says, "and everything else, I learned". But the thing is, that "everything else" covers quite a lot of ground. He is, to start with, a much better singer than you think he is, unless you've seen him in one of the many big musicals he's been in. Boys got pipes. He's also, of course, very funny - a stand-up with funny bones, but also plunges into audience participation, slapstick, fire-eating.. He's a vaudevillian - someone who can turn his hand to pretty much anything. An entertainer. And there ain't too many like that left.

He cut his teeth on Summer seasons, holiday camps and end of the piers, where to cultivate yourself into a swiss army knife of bits of business was the way to ensure a healthy career, and the stuff he started learning back then continues to make him one of the country's most invaluable pantomime performers, as well someone who, when he decides to, can sell out a national tour, which is what he did last month.

And my god, he's a worker. The James Brown of light entertainment, right there, ladies and gentlemen. There's no wasted time at the top of the show, no time spent "getting to know the feel of the room". He bounds on stage with a hearty "I'M HERE!", and literally within five seconds he's jumped off the stage, in knee-deep in the audience, lobbing out gags in between wall-shaking verses of "Let the good times roll". This is a seasoned fighter, bouncing around the ring landing jab after jab, totally able, as they say, to go the full 12.

Near on two and a half hours, minus me doing a quick twenty in the first half, the rest is all him. And its all killer, no filler. Routines polished over a career that spans all his adult life, and a fair bit before that, too.

For the best part of a month we pinballed around the country, doing a show, then driving through the night to wherever the next show was. Lots of grins from late-night garage shop staff as they recognise the face - or just as often the voice - that just strode up to them clutching coffee and a Kit-kat (He likes Kit-kats). 

So, in short, I had a ball. Gorgeous audiences who were totally up for having fun. Some of the most beautiful theatres in the country. Being driven by Brian from gig to gig, while getting a steady stream of excellent andecdotes about the great and the good. What's not to like?

I also deliberately avoided the tour curse of eating crap and putting on weight - running every day (which is a very nice way to have a look around whatever town you happen to have woken up in), and eating healthlily. I actually managed to lose nearly a stone while on tour, which is insane, but here I am giving it a proper middle-aged man brag anyway. Sorry.

The last date was at Leeds City Varieties - one of my favourite rooms in the world, and one I've played enough times that when I rolled up at the stage door, the staff greeted me by name and started teasing me immediately. Nice. Can't think of a more perfect way to end the tour.

Took a few photos while we were on the road - hope you like them..

A prop from the show. Yes, it is, in fact a puppppppettttt.

Always nice to bathe in the glory of the greats who have played a theatre before you

The boss, giving it tits and teeth

Me, giving it "Oh, if I must..."

Warming up backstage

 So thanks to Brian, and Rick and Gareth - the amazing team that put the show together every night - what a blast.

Also thanks to all the audience members who were kind enough to tweet me after shows and tell me how much they enjoyed my work - means so much. I'm spending most of the next few weeks doing some shows in various places abroad, but will head back to the Edinburgh fringe in August for a return season of my critically-acclaimed one man show "Showman". A strictly limited run of 16 shows only, so click here to book your tickets now!

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Winter Gardens has a taste of its former glory

To the beautiful, slightly-seen-better-days, but BEAUTIFUL Morecambe Winter Gardens for the Morecambe Variety Festival. Great fun, lovely people, amazing venue and one of the longest shows I've ever been a part of!

I really need to work on what my face is doing when I'm performing my finale, huh...
The plans are to restore the Winter Gardens to its former glory, but of course that'll take time and money. They've made a good start, and its great that there's variety being staged in the place, even if its only for one weekend a year at the moment. I hope I get to come back and work it many more times in the future.

Check out some of the names on this poster - Sarah Vaughan! The great Chick Murray! Dancing! Game shows! Bands! Must have been quite the place to be, in its prime. Oh, and look, every Thursday - professional wrestling! One of the fun things I got to do between shows, was look through some of the albums of old promo 8x10s of some of the people who had performed there back in the day. Found a few gems, too...

Oh yes, that'll be the legendary Exotic Adrian Street. One of the most famous bad guys in British Wrestling in the 70's and 80's. He started wrestling in 1957. Care to guess when he wrestled his farewell match? Last bloody year. Also note how, when he signed autographs, he made the "A" of his name look like a cock and balls. Naughty Adrian. Naughty.

I'll be brutally honest, what drew me to this promo card was the achingly 1970's image and name, but then I did a little googling. You're looking at the act that won New Faces in 1977 & appeared on the Royal Variety performance. Pretty good, no? Oh, and if you want to play the "Where are they now" game, well, the guy goes by the name of Lance Ellington, has written songs for quite a few of pops biggest names, and can be seen as one of the lead vocalists in the Strictly Come Dancing band. How cool.

And then there's this fellow. Yep, dollars to donuts that's a very young Charlie Chuck, right there. Hasn't really changed a bit.

Josephine, shaking it

I'm currently on tour with Brian Conley, which is, frankly, a hoot and a half.

I'll be bringing my hit one man show, "Showman" - fresh from a sold out West End run (Still can't quite believe that when I type it) to Dorchester Arts on the 24th of May, (with special guest Sarah Bennetto), so if you live in the area, or know someone that does, then get yourself a ticket and help show that there's an audience for my flavour of variety!