Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Chronicles of Professor Elemental

So Professor Elemental, hybrid beast-creature offspring of Marie Curie and Charles Dickens, the Apollo of the comedy chap-hop (...hmmm...think Steampunk Victorian/Edwardian comedy rapping) scene, has been releasing chunks of a mini-film called The Chronicles of Professor Elemental.

Here's part one...

Don't just sit there, people! Click on the little TV-shaped box with the arrow in it - that's the only way you can enjoy this as much as I did.

I discovered the Professor almost by accident. Well, not accidentally at all. A friend posted a link on Facebook to the deliciously irreverrent and cleverly-lyricalised (is that even a word? I've used it, so it is now) song 'Fighting Trousers', a song which is still to my mind the zenith of chap-hop smartiness. See last month's blog posts - I think the link is still there.

He's got a brilliant bunch of folks working with him on this, it would seem - director, camera people, actors, gorillas (I assume he has at least two to comply with local labour laws. Professor?) - and the result is half an hour of pure comedy indulgence, a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne and the entire Steampunk movement. Well-worth watching over a cup of sugary tea in a proper china cup.

And saucer.

Don't forget the saucer.

Monday, January 7, 2013

WOWFest - Calgary's first magic festival

Click this link below...

So Calgary is set to have its first ever magic festival, thanks to the efforts of a man who calls himself Ryan Pilling, probably because it's his name. Yes, folks, only six weeks to go. It happens on February 22 and 23 and is designed to allow the public to see a variety of types of magic in a short time - close-up, stage and parlour magic. The performers will be top-notch and it's well-worth getting tickets to. Have a look at the website above.

The format is meant to mimick that of Hollywood's famous Magic Castle and although the planned venue may not have a secret entrance and password, he'll likely hire someone large to stand in the doorway until you say please.

So if you're in Calgary or anywhere near, please come and join in! Not only will you have the time of your life but you will later be able to tell your grandchildren that you were there at the inaugural night. Or tell your neighbours. Or anyone who'll listen. Strangers love to hear that kind of thing while waiting for a bus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT!

What a fantastic way to start a new year! Faintly reminiscent of my 'Beer-commercial Weekend' with my friend Corey way back in the early 1990s, in that wow-that-was-amazing sort of way.

I was booked to perform at the New Year's event held in Bechoko, a First Nations town about 100km outside Yellowknife, NWT. Not quite the Arctic Circle, but not far off. I'd been looking forward to it for a year (they tried to book me twice last year but each time our schedules conflicted); I'd never been that far north before. Not even Shetland was quite that far up - Muckle Flugga sits at 60.85 degrees North but Bechoko is a full 2 degrees higher.

There were a few hiccups to the evening that didn't bode well but when I finally got up to perform for the 200-ish people, they blew me away. What an absolutely fantastic welcome and response! They were attentive, generous with applause, supportive of the volunteers that got up to help, lively and overall one of the best audiences I've had in a long time. I could happily have packed them up in a bus and brought them with me to every gig I have for the next year. This was one of the first times since we left Orkney over five years ago that I've felt that sort of community spirit.

And that was just the start. After the stand-up show I was doing close-up magic around the tables but kept getting interrupted. Dragged onto the dance floor to exercise my dismal two-stepping skills, taken outside to watch the fireworks after midnight, and eventually waved over to join in the celebratory circle dance - nearly a dozen drummers pounding away and singing, with almost every single person in the hall swept up in a cheerful circling mass of humanity. Not the kind of thing I (as an outsider) would normally inject myself into, but when they start beckoning you to join in, well, you do! And I was glad I did.

From the bottom of my heart I have to thank the folks of Bechoko for an outstanding welcome, for their kindness and hospitality, to Janita for arranging the evening and for being persistent in trying to bring me up, to Madeline for the dances, to Reuben for driving me through the snow back and forth from Yellowknife and for keeping me entertained with stories. I had the best start to a new year that I could have hoped for, and I'd love to make it back up there again.