Friday, 30 July 2010

for my next prick

is my summer turning to crap?
and the next thing is do
after writing that
and after my bath
is step barefoot in some cat shit
some very smelly cat shit
on the kitchen floor
o yes
don't mention the review
the prevailing gloom
the belting rain
the overstruggly struggle
of it all
alas poor jemmy
i'm reading about the history of mankind
in depth
or whatever
the saharan pump
the climactic changes in the african savannah
creating a more capable species
capable of thriving in the near east and europe
and things are coming along
we're getting there
shame about the neanderthals and homo erectus
shame about jemmy
but us
we're getting there

Thursday, 29 July 2010

throatback backthroat

speedy regen
outa rehab
throatback ...
gravel mixer hoarse coarse
cement mixer's song
i'm surrounded by actor's who voice is their living
like mine
and every time i parted my lips to let out that
harsh cement mixer's lament they would
in pain
in pain
in pain
would grimace
would recoil
would twitch
would start
would twist their faces
would unfeign empathy

1st show

first show 6.15
we'll see
interview in star phoenix
decent review in planet s
same review as uptown
we'll see
sunny streets
walk down by the river
ice cream
we'll see

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

no key, low key

houses where no-one locks the door
no key
old friend long recovering in
sex addiction therapy
nabob coffee
killer sudoku
back to outrageous level
after having demoted myself to extreme level
4 buck wing night
the pelicans down by the river
the place where i realised i had nothing to worry about
reading about early hominids
the days of hope?
the days of very hard scavenging scrabble?
europe and asia met about seventeen million years ago
before that they were separated
and nothing was ever the same again
spent the trip here trying to make dave dawson laugh
with fair success
listening to the tape of andy kaufman's life
as in the man in the moon
my own black cat
yes my own black cat
hi tiddles
say hi tiddles
say hi to tiddles
bright sunny saskatchewan morn outside
off to poster downtown with
wholly cognisant futility
the bridge over the shiny fat grey river
busy day of teching
pizza party
hi hi hi
finally said goodbye to william randolph hearst
the old bastard
who spent more money on things, on buildings
than any man in history
any emperor, king
more than anyone else ever
orson welles regretted that everyone thought
the girl in citizen kane was
marion davies
saw it as unfair to her

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

trad slow days

between fringes
ambling round
old facing
old haunting
minor planning
press mailing

Monday, 26 July 2010

out of this and
into that
out of that and
into this
great party
4 in a car

Sunday, 25 July 2010

what just happened?


it will take me weeks to digest it
by which time a lot more will have happened
and it will be
well behind me

voice staggered to finishing line and fell over
too screwed to flyer
head cooking in the sun
show ok
not bad
very tough with harsh horase voice so physically worked extra hard
with longer poises
and made it better than ever

Saturday, 24 July 2010

one left

too exhausted to buy a coffee
and that's exhausted
just about intact
towards the finishing line
this is the tiredest i get all year
and i'm not actually as bad as last year
but blimey i'm exhausted
shows have been good
hard physical work
with a rough rough throat
but have felt good
some easy some very funny some serious some work
but good
and now one left already
sask mon
plus its me and p's 3rd anniversary
the night she abducted me into a cab was on the last fringe saturday
so this is 3 years

Thursday, 22 July 2010


i finally sell-out
days after i would have been expecting to sell out
so its a triumph of the will
of the spirit
of strength

was it good?

the cabaret?
was it good
some marvelous things happened
emily and nick and otto and astrid
nico the cellist
there were a few backstage things
one big one
but was it good?
and, as the man most responsible,
how do i stop doing it?

how do i give the job to someone else?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

and some amerticans are denying

they have found the higgs boson
why are they denying it?
is it because it strongly resembles a
big mac
a hammer and sickle
a crescent and star
an om symbol
a dollar sign
george bush's brain


o i was...

it ain't that bad
priscilla's show may be a walking corpse
because of the free press review
but that's not how she's seeing it
and she's enjoying doing the show
and numbers are picking up
and as for me well
the hour is a serious endurance
but its definitely fun
and yesterday was my biggest house yet on the tour
and i might end up selling out
which would be a huge achievment in the cirx
and tonight is the cabaret
which heaps a whole bunch of responsibility
most of the responsabunchofothersyllables
on me
and as its the cabaret
and i can do serious speed
i'm on late
v near the end
it is going to be a very long night
plus it was after the cabaret three years that one priscilla yakielashek decided that
after two days of consideration
i was a good idea
and abducted me into a cab
and took me back to her place
and nothing was ever quite the same again

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

haggering staggard

meanwhile its being
shectacularly spite
creaking croaking skulking hulk

a half marathon whilst shouting
every day...
throat like the somme on the third morning
can't believe its going so poorly
the schiz of the show soaring and the
numbers being so poor
my worst failure at a big fest ever
career meltdown
concatenating ballsup
concatenating bollocks
self-perpetuating shite
self-rejuvenating shite
staggering haggard
harrowed and hacked
horrendered and harrowed
haggering staggard

cabaret kings head weds midnight


lucky day,
the five wildstuff spacetrip cell-riots

versus the red star-celeb lovebank malarium
in the 13th smart-seduction people-pie revue

killer bill
what a line-up
run by me and jonno

gonna be a big day

Monday, 19 July 2010

salt loss and lack of oxygen

face after face after face
faces in lines
faces in the audience
every face
shape measure shine eyes nose mouth all merging
every face after face after face
with ten minutes to go of the show
i start to feel unwell
very unwell

salt loss and lack of oxygen
faint shaky poisoned panicky and
horribly hot
salt loss and lack of oxygen
killer show though

but why aren't the punters coming

there's a few theories but
nice day under blue skies
go in for the fugitives show at early lunch
killer double-act poem about glenn gould
slope about all afternoon flyering
and even sitting for ooooh, all of 20 seconds before
something else
whether real or imagined but
i have moved on for

Sunday, 18 July 2010



blimey its tough
this is normally the best bit of the year but
christ its grim
me and p are surrounded by performers having a
killer time
and we 're having it hard
she got 4 stars from CBC but
massacred by the free press
and seeing how her show is a tough drama
she's sadly very close to dead in the water

while i'm having the trad
fundamental lack of punters for a show which feels great
as good as any of mine
in terms of audience response
so, i have to ask
have they had enough of me in this town?
it never occurred to me it
would/ could
go this badly
will i still have a career by the end of the week?
its a house of cards on the way down?
i always knew the multi-citied multi-faceted fringe tour beast could be hard and pitiless
because i've seen it so much happen to other people
and this is it
happening to me

meanwhile i'm the chief worker behind wednesday's cabaret
doctor caligari's accelerating cabaret
once again giving myself away for nothing while
staring starkness
hard in the


Saturday, 17 July 2010

free press

so i got a three and a half star review from the winnipeg free press on wednesday
before my first show
my first five years here in Winnipeg i got five star reviews from the free press
sometimes before my first show
its the same reviewer, kevin prokosh
and its not a bad review but it is three and a half stars
which might just finish me off
and its the main press for this fringe
and the most important for the tour
because of where it is
at the start of the prairies
he came to a great show in Montreal
the same one the montreal hour loved
but there is no
like zero
point complaining about reviews
last year he suggested my show was a
cynical cash grab
a rather harsh analysis
and his review, despite being four stars
effectively said, DON'T GO!
so three and a half stars this year leaves me somewhere bad
but not as bad as that
but just how bad is unclear
and i will have to try to avoid seeing the rest of the festival as a
damage limitation exercise
and wondering if the whole show was a
from its very conception
and the whole summer will be a limited disaster
the free press reviewer sees many shows in Montreal
at the start of the tour
when their shows are very new
and as companies understandably do not want the
most important review of the whole tour
to be from an early and possibly shaky performance
they simply don't do the Montreal Fringe anymore
which makes life slightly more difficult for the Montreal Fringe
so many more are choosing to start in Ottawa
where he hasn't been for a few years

and as for me
well its tough
the show feels good
and a lot of people like me in this town
so i have to battle
to do killer shows which get good word of mouth
and flyer a lot but not too much
while not getting
a] depressed and
b] shattered
all in all
not great

Thursday, 15 July 2010

first show

not bad
60ish punters
kings is a very difficult space to perform in and i feel like i spent an hour cramming my body into a space way too small for it and i have still to properly unfold and stretch and limber out of it
serious lung work
serious throat work
lots of physical work
and i have to really work three sides in a non-acoustic space and it is tough to fill it with voice and presence
all this work will
make it a very robust show
pretty quickly but
right now
its tough
saw jonno's CACTUS...
what a killer show
a unique mix of comedy and lightness
very silly and very smart
always a combination with me
second show
how will i do?
this fest is important to me so...
how will i do?
plus its priscilla's first show this eve
falling people
playhouse studio
she just did a great run-through in the garden
its got massively better since sunday and
martin dockery's series of very
pertinent questions
but i won't be there for it this eve
so here's thinking of p

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

exci... bui...

first day
excitement building
show to do, 7.30
good or bad or bad or good review from free press might be out already
iffy throat
paranoid dreams through thunderstorms about a cold
excitement building
hours to fill
runthrough poster whatelse?
xi buil

the unseasonal rain

the unseasonable rain
so i spend bits of
every day since
putting up posters
round the fringe site
exchange square and
the MTC
and at first it was only a few companies but now a
hundred companies
have been postering
and it was a right mess unlookable mess of different words and colours and shapes
in which my
black and white
times new roman
15 fontsizes
flush centre
stands out very nicely
the rain the rain
purging the town not of life but of those who live in bungalows
the rain
the battering drenching street-filling hours of rain
which must have brought most of it down by now
and my photocopies are more vulnerable than the rest
and wasting all my efforts
my earliness
my money
my tape
have to go back and do it again...
but is is going to rain today?
and how many are down

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

its the first day back at

at college
at summer camp
its a dozen good mates you haven't seen for a year
its one after the other
after the other
its almost too much
its good good fun but it doesn't half do your head in
richard h
jonny p
chris caswell

some you know very well from the tour
some you half know
and loads of them
and more to come
chris bange
chris kauffman

and some you just said bye to a couple weeks or days ago

and then all the fringe people
and volunteers
you see every year
and the ones where you haven't forgotten the name
because you never knew it
even though you've been occasionally chatting for years...
its winnipeg

its tuesday
and the excitement is building
start tomorrow
show a day for eleven days
normally i do just great
and that's exactly how i want to do again
certainly is

the day giant tiger runs out of

tape by mid afternoon
every year

Monday, 12 July 2010

high wonders

the first time i did winnipeg was 2003
two years before i'd done just toronto
where i met keir cutler and a few others
and as toronto ended i had this sense of something big brewing in the west
out on those prairies which filled alot of the map and which i knew next to nothing about
and where i had no idea what it was that was so good out there
apart from a sense it was bigger than what i'd just been through
which in itself was amazing
me in toronto in 2001
just after i moved to scotland
my first proper hour show
to audiences mad for it
who'd never seen anything like it
and i'd get like 5 curtain calls a night
and a dazed amazement from the audience
and half way through my first show
[where i'd foolishly let the technicians sort me a bunch of lighting cues
all of which i missed]
i had this glorious epiphany
this life-changing rush
that i should have been doing this years ago
that the hour show was the only way to go
that today was being ok to good but tomorrow
i would do it so so much better
and yes
tomorrow was just plain fabulous
and my first canadian fringe experience was having these long and wildly intense hours belting through the english language faster than anyone had ever seen
where each day i threw a poem out of the show and it never got any shorter
and i had barely any pattery banter between poems
i simply drew back the elastic band to its tightest possible point and then
let fly again
at them
at them
at them
o happy day
its not like i sold out
or made a bunch of cash
i did just OK in terms of numbers
but the experience was mind-blowing for me
and life was never the same again
so, at the end of that fest i had this inkling of something even more marvelous brewing in the west
that i wasn't going to
and two years later i got there
i did toronto again
which went great and then i very stupidly got on a bus to winnipeg
which is 36 horrible hours living out of A'n'W
with a busload of Hutterites who seemed to have never seen the outside world before and where the only book i had was the Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann [great novel] which definitely got the homespun Hutterites curious
and i finally staggered rickety off the bus into a fringe site where i had no billet and was rather hopelessly confused and stayed in a hostel and then got billeted and all the water tasted of sulphur and the festival started and
whooooo ...
i accelerated on the high down slope of the rollercoaster
my audiences were crazy for it
i had a fabulous hour each time
and the numbers went 70
sellout 100
with a five star review every day for four days and utterly electrified audiences
who, well, i'm not sure they
understood anything i was
double-dixie-ten-time saying
but they did look
wildly affected by the blast of words
the force of it
the rush of ideas
o happy day

Sunday, 11 July 2010

post runthrough

p does a runthrough for me and martin and john bevan her mate and stage manager in dance studio in osborne
upshot of which is much talking and p has a lot of reordering writing thinking and learning to do before her opening on thurs
it will work though
and the girl is currently battling at the coalface of her rich seam

world cup final

its got to be spain right?
has to be
they're bloody marvelous
we'll see

Saturday, 10 July 2010

all poetry is failure

all poetry is failure
while all performance poetry is only passing failure
impermanent failure
a transient failure

Friday, 9 July 2010

the peg ... and hearst kickstarts the mob

billeted in the far distance
nice house
me and p back together after seven long weeks
quiet days in the winnipeg run up
reading a biography of randolph hearst
the man citizen kane was based on
Citizen Hearst
good book
amazing life
autocratic nightmare rich bastard
brilliant in many ways
and bastard times
if american politics seems scurrrilous and shameless now
the right wing columnists and tv pundits
well their shamelessness and dirtiness and scurrilousness is nothing new

amongst many interesting details
is how hearst's 1912ish hiring of gangs to intimidate newsellers into taking his newspapers
evolved, after defections, and the hiring of more gangs by rivals
into a gang war with many dead
and that this is seen by many as
the origin of organised gangsterism and racketeering in Chicago
makes you think
i said in a show a number of years back
the origin of the word gangster is from 1890s Chicago and originallly denoted
men who stuff ballot boxes
which, after the US 2000 election finally gave us proof the world is run by gangsters

Thursday, 8 July 2010

regina winnipeg

out of this and into that
out of that and into ...

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

how did it get so...

why wake up at 7.30 when you've nothing to do all day?
when the fest is over and you're
simply hanging out
banking cheques
second semifinal
ingesting protein etc

regina has been fun
after the disappointing notmuch that was london ont
easy times
last crowd could have been bigger but all exceeded expectations
and after my show i go for beer with a cowboy
ken mitchell
who i met five years ago in Banff
cowboy poet
all manner of jobs
all manner of lives
has left every union he ever joined
currently organising
spirits of the trail

a horsedrawn
oldtime show
up the Quapelle valley north of here
in august
a chatauqua kind of thing
with much bigger plans for the following years
up the valley through the towns and reservations
riding skills, shoooting skills,
big plan
not bad at all
with so many possibilities you don't know where to start

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

typhoid jem

last year
and the year before
i would go out before every show and
shake hands with the audience in the line-up
and this was good to do
and it did give me something to do
except last year i got six or more colds across the tour
and even lost my voice in Toronto
[two very bad days]
so this year i'm not
i wonder how many people i gave colds to
i like my audience
and i do not want to make them ill
one year i would stand by the exit and
shake everyone's hands as they left
saying sorry
and sorry
and sorry
to everyone
as they left...
this was a great joke
no-one had any idea why i was doing it and it was
bloody funny
people would come back to the door and ask
why are you saying sorry
and i'd say
i've no idea, funny though isn't it

of course if they show went badly
i can't remember if any did
and i might actually have something to apologise for
then i certainly would not be out there apologising


no stocktake

take stock
is it possible to take stock?
is it?
to stop and have a look at what's happening
has just happened
my tour
well its too early to stop
because nothing's gone great
these fests are small
there was never any real possibility of success before this point
though montreal was good and almost great
london was flat and disappointing
and this is being more fun and better than expected
with two shows at good times left
and success still possible
but life's not bad
me and priscilla are actually together
for the first time in over six weeks
on thursday in winnipeg
she has been feverishly working on her show
falling people
which opens next week
scary stuff for any human being
four hours a day in an arts centre in dauphin manitoba
and it is a laugh here
after the party
[superpricy beer]
seven of us go leap in a hot tub
alice, carly's billet has a mysteriously wide selection of
bathing suits
and two late hours later i stroll back with martin
the surprise, the bike trip, wanderlust
a very funny gentleman
ooo and i didn't mention the
near albert and 13th
which has marvelous sushi
possibly the best ever
and great to go with martin and jeff
cos we can have such a wide variety
but where
after our 32nd dish they say the
kitchen is closing

and so we leave
very full of sushi
but booo
that's not good, that is
lack of faith and cowardice on their part


Monday, 5 July 2010

nice quote

clay shirky
to day

"The final thing I'd say about optimism is this. If we took the loopiest, most moonbeam-addled Californian utopian internet bullshit, and held it up against the most cynical, realpolitik-inflected scepticism, the Californian bullshit would still be a better predictor of the future. Which is to say that, if in 1994 you'd wanted to understand what our lives would be like right now, you'd still be better off reading a single copy of Wired magazine published in that year than all of the sceptical literature published ever since."

what if death is revelation…?



what if death is revelation…?


this cannot be a new idea but… what if

after death

we finally get to see how everything is

all mysteries are solved and

all questions are answered and we finally

get to look into everyone’s head and heart to

see how they thought

how they were

who was true

who lied

who loved you

who silently betrayed you

who silently felt betrayed by you

to finally understand how everything was and

what kind of person you were

So that those who are departed have already looked into your

Head and heart

To understand how you were

Your goodness








So that in the end

What you accomplished becomes

Ever more diminished

And your intent becomes


And also, all mysteries become solved


Marie Celeste


And heaven or hell are the

eternity of having to

Understand yourself for what you were

Tricky thought eh?

How would we all fare under such scrutiny?

Such self-knowledge?

What if death is revelation?

The potential of omniscience?


What if?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

prairie dog

this is only on the website
but as its the only reviewer anyone is going to get
and its the best review anyone's got so far
it might well matter
and for a city's freebie
its a remarkably good paper
one of the best
and there's a few good ones across the country

SCHEDULE: JULY 3 at 3 p.m.; JULY 4 at 4:30 p.m.; JULY 5 at 7:30 p.m. and JULY 5 at 9:15 p.m.
RATING: 4.5/5

History comes alive in this compelling one-man performance by British poet Jem Rolls.

If you’re over 40, and have generally made an effort to remain informed about news and politics in the world throughout your adult life, you’ll likely recall the key event that Rolls’ narrative hinges on. In 1990, in the waning days of her third term as British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher a.k.a. the Iron Lady attempted to implement a poll tax. Part of the Conservative Party platform since the mid-1970s, it revamped the way municipal government was funded, replacing the equivalent of our property tax (which varies according to the value of the property held by a ratepayer) with a per capita flat tax.

Municipal governments in Britain, at the time, were dominated Labour Party supporters. Within the Conservative Party, the poll tax was seen as a way of reining in local government spending. If even the poorest of its citizens were subjected to taxation, the thinking went, municipalities would have no choice but to cut government programs and services to the bone to avoid impoverishing them.

Because of its regressive nature, the poll tax was heavily criticized by social moderates in Britain. Now at this point, you’re probably thinking, who in their right mind would want to go see a play about taxes? Especially since here in Regina we’ve just weathered two major tax hits with the April 30 deadline for filing our federal/provincial income taxes, and the June 30 deadline for paying municipal property taxes.

Well, in his performance, Rolls doesn’t delve too deeply into the nuances of the poll tax. Instead, he recounts a massive demonstration that was held in London on March 30, 1990 to protest the tax. If you’re tempted to dismiss the title of his performance as artistic hyperbole, don’t. Without actually swinging a billy club, or throwing a brick, or mounting a police charge on horseback, or looting a store, Rolls does an amazing job of recreating the riot that occurred that day as tens of thousands of people crossed the River Thames at Westminster Bridge and converged on the British House of Parliament.

Having participated in several previous demonstrations — most notably, a 1987 march against apartheid — that also deteriorated into violence, Rolls evinces a keen understanding of the dynamics of mass protest and the sometimes brutal tactics that police, aided and abetted by corporate media, use to restore/impose order.

With the recent clashes between police and protestors at the G8/20 summit in Toronto still fresh in the news, the performance takes on even greater resonance for audiences here in Canada.

Highly recommended.

blimey what an essay eh?
but not bad at all

Saturday, 3 July 2010

grasping for words

first show regina
very very hot
audience of 20
which at many fringes would be small enough to get me to burst into tears
is not bad here
am liking this town
the main drag is pretty ugly
but the streets of houses and trees are nice
and there's a very friendly air to it all
the canadians, as i've said many times
are in the main a deeply
warm-hearted bunch which,
coming from a
hard comprehensive

and a snobbily uncaring
conservative town
and a savaged minded and somewhat
and a cynical adult
and a hard tense
hackney/ islington
is mighty striking
and leaves me perpetually
grasping for words

Friday, 2 July 2010

...same old me

soupcons of self-doubt and
slasher-flicks of self-savagery
steady glee and
rising tides of anticipation

Thursday, 1 July 2010

getting to know the wildlife

or the wildlife are getting to know me
and i would seem very tasty
haven't been so bitten since Goa
so its a sudden reintroduction
on Canada Day
to that most canadian of fauna
not the beaver the moose the bear the elk
but the
ahh yes, the lake
i mentioned above

rehearsal sized lake

nice lake just down the road
45 minutes around
perfect for a man with an
hour show