Altitude 2012: 28th March

More snowboarding. Sam had taken the day off with injuries. We started with some exercises. Falling leaf with hands on hips or behind backs. Nose-down and brake with a snowball balanced on the back of each hand. When we got to the flatter bit, Cherry and I worked on our turns and I began to feel comfortable with them. I was starting to link them, starting to build up speed and starting to enjoy the snowboarding. This left the instructor free to help out Helen who was struggling with the Lesson One stuff.

We finished on the red run down to the runway. On the flatter bits, we did our turns. On the steep bit, we heel-edged it. I learnt that although I’m still right-footed, when it comes to heel-edging down a steep bit and occasionally letting the nose out a bit, my left foot takes control and I become regular-footed just for that bit. No idea why.

Wednesday afternoon I went to the Improv show again, this time with Andre Vincent – younger brother of Brett Vincent, agent & festival Big Cheese – in place of Rufus Hound as special guest. It was good fun but you realise that one Improv show is very similar to another. Not identical, obviously, but it’s the same framework and similar suggestions of household objects, film and theatre styles.

That night, there was a combined gala and late show, which was in the downstairs room at the Europahaus, from 10pm until 2.30am, in three parts, with three MCs – Tiernan Douieb, Matt Reed and Andrew Maxwell. The first part was Tiff Stevenson and Benny Boot. Tiff is good fun, if not at all how I expected her to be. Benny Boot was chaotic and confused and fumbling and yet brilliant. Carl Donnelly, Ben Norris and Phil Nichol were in the second part. Carl and Phil did the same stuff they’d done at the previous late show, Ben made an effort to do different material, ran out of stuff and got laughed at by the various comedians sitting around the room. And by the third part, we were falling asleep. Half the audience had left. It had been a running joke all the way through about kicking bottles. People were stocking up on six or nine bottles of beer at a time, to last throughout the show but in this room, there were no tables to put them on, so they went under chairs. They got kicked over a lot. And then Maxwell remarked that it was amazing how none of them had smashed. And in an attempt to liven us up, he decided to smash one deliberately, to see if it would. The Powers That Be were not delighted, especially when he tried doing it again so see how high they had to be dropped from. They tried not to let him do it and finished up giving in, going “Well, if you have to, then do it quickly” so he threw it across the room (into an empty bit, obviously. Not at the audience. That would be wrong.) This upset the Austrian bar staff who like to recycle. Apparently they’re very keen on recycling and they sing as they do it. “Green bottle, green bottle, green bottle, green bottle. Brown bottle, brown bottle, brown bottle, brown bottle.” And we joined in, because the words were easy enough. “But what do they do with the blue bottles?” Maxwell asks, quite drunk after a day drinking champagne from cans on a mountain. “You swat them!” someone in the audience shouted. “How have I not seen you yet, Incredibly Posh Man?” Maxwell says. And he teased him about swatting bottles and why would you do that and the audience yelled “Bluebottles! Bluebottles!” at him until someone got fed up and bellowed “A fly!”

You could see the light go on as he suddenly got it. He looked mortified and he vanished out of the “shame door” at the back of the stage. I say stage. I mean wooden blocks at the front of the room. He brought the man who’d originally made the bluebottle joke onto the stage and formally apologised for not getting the brilliant pun, still mortified, and they did a cuckoo clock dance.

Craig Campbell was great. He had those Vibram Five Finger shoes on – thin shoes with thin soles and five separate toes. I like Craig Cambell a lot. Kevin Bridges did his thing and did it well. And then Terry Alderton. By this point, I knew for certain that I didn’t like him. And it was very late and I’d seen a lot and I was very tired and I couldn’t stand him. He did at one point do a shoulder stand so the audience could see his sequinned shoes and he could ask what they thought. A man at the back yelled “A bit gay!” and that provoked the only good stuff I’ve ever seen from him. Still upside down, feet in the air, he adlibbed foot puppetry. Had these two feet with actual personalities, chatting to each other, to the sound man, looking down at him, arguing, splitting up… I liked the feet puppets. But then he got up and disappeared and no one was sure if it was over. All uncertain, Maxwell peeped backstage and announced that it probably was; Terry was out there in his pants. This went on forever. “…Terry? Is…. is there anything else? … Is it over? Terry?” And then he abducted a fifteen year old boy with long blonde ringlets, got him backstage and came out topless and so Maxwell stripped as well and the three of them danced and that apparently became the iconic image of Altitude 2012.

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