How NextUp Film Stand-Up

Spring has sprung, and with the effervescent buoyancy of a new born lamb, NextUp will soon be gambolling out into the world to do what it does best. In the spirit of rebirth and renewal, our crack team of video producers will be committing some of the best live shows on the stand-up circuit to film, and getting them to you, our discerning subscribers, while they’re at their very freshest.

Check here for details of how you can be part of the live audience at our special London recording event on June 2nd and have your laughter, and perhaps even the back of your head, immortalised for posterity. In the meantime, we’re whetting your appetite by getting the inside scoop on filming stand-up via an exclusive interview with NextUp’s video exec producer supremo (and, as it just so happens, co-founder) Dan Berg.

Inside Joke: So, Dan, what are some of the unique challenges and considerations that you have to bear in mind when filming stand-up?

Dan Berg: Unlike a sketch or short film, stand-up is a live event and therefore theoretically anything can happen - from unpredictable audience members to a comedian mucking up a line or two. Luckily, whilst we’ve had some – shall we say -  interesting audience members, their input has always been to the benefit of the show rather than simply being pointless and distracting heckles. When mistakes are made by comics, if they're acknowledged - they often go down really well with the live audience so we end up leaving them in the edit. Our director Stuart Laws has been really instrumental in shaping our in-house style to make the finished video as authentic as possible

IJ: On the subject of audience input, can you tell us a little about the value of reaction shots of those in the crowd?

DB: Audience shots are an interesting one. I think they are often overused on stand-up specials and can take you, as a video-viewer, out of the moment. However, it is important to convey the magic of the live environment, and hopefully some sense of what it’s like being among a crowd of like-minded comedy fans. We try and achieve this by having a higher proportion of shots where we’re filming through audience members' heads, a kind of ‘point of view angle’. We find this strikes a nice balance between letting viewers feel like they’re there and maintaining focus on the comedian.

IJ: Do the comedians themselves ever have specific requests or demands as to the way in which they’re filmed?

DB: Yes! It’s great when acts have a filming style in mind which we can make happen. Often, they want the shooting style to suit or add to the tone of their show. For example, Marcel Lucont - a smooth operating French lothario - had lots of gentle pans and pull focusses, whilst Jordan Brookes’ show, which is a disorientating journey through his mind, used some very unusual angles and post-production filters to add to the effect. Sean Mcloughlin’s show which is incredible hour of brutally raw comedy - we toned down the colours in the edit to help complement the darkly funny mood in the room.

IJ: Do you have a favourite venue to work in?

DB: We’ve had the pleasure so far of only working with great venues but I think the Bill Murray is probably my favourite, not because the room is anything particularly special physically- but because of how amazing what they’ve achieved is; the owners just took a punt, bought an old pub’s lease and turned it into a great venue with the help of their fans through crowdfunding - all for the love of stand-up!

To see the magic in action, you can join our ticket mailing list to be the first to hear about future filming dates, or come down on June 2nd to Kings Cross....

Why I Love Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks had been dead for more than 5 years when I first encountered him, indirectly, via cult 90s movie Human Traffic. In a scene that sees the central character, Jip (John Simm), getting himself fired up for a night of hedonism, he turns to a VHS of Hicks for an “injection of the late prophet”. That one snippet (on the hypocrisy of “the war on drugs”) was all it took. As well as making me laugh, the joke resonated in the way that only unrealised yet fundamental truths can, and I was utterly hooked, quickly devouring every word the great man ever recorded.

Owing to his death from pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32, Hicks has now fulfilled the role of enshrined legend of the comedy firmament for significantly longer than he ever existed within it as a working stand-up. Happily, the Texan lived just long enough to bask a short while in the beginnings of a cultish fan following (even if it was in the UK, rather than in his homeland, that it was most avid), yet the degree to which his standing has continued to rise since he left this mortal realm is unprecedented. What is it that sets Bill Hicks apart?

The timelessness of the material is perhaps the key to Hicks’ enduring appeal. While his sets were laced with pop-culture references, his comic angle always came from such a primal core that they’re no less relevant today. Hicks’ exasperation at the agents that confounded and confused his base human instinct for compassion is so relatable that modern audiences can easily mentally replace New Kids on The Block with One Direction, George Bush snr for Donald Trump, and war in the Middle East with… well, war in the Middle East (I guess evil endures too). 

Beyond the subject matter, a huge part of the wonder of Hicks lies in his total mastery of his art form. First performing at the age of 16, he quickly learned how to pitch a set for maximum impact. Intuitively knowing when the most effective connection with his audience would be made by leaning into the front row with a conspiratorial whisper, or by assaulting them with an ear-shattering scream, Hicks commanded the stage with absolute authority.

Recorded in Montreal during the 1992 Just For Laughs festival, Relentless sees Hicks in his prime, skewering the targets of his sardonic ire with laser-sharp precision, yet ultimately imparting an uplifting message of love and peace, all the while maintaining an improbably high laugh-count. Whether you’re an already-devoted fan or a yet-to-be-initiated newcomer, it presents a chance to revel in the type of comedy genius that tends to come only once in a generation.

By Stuart Boyland


 

April Fools Roundup

Every year brings its new wave of April Fools Avoiders -  a group of individuals who flat out refuse to start their day on April 1st until post 12 o’clock. They wearily poke their heads out from under a duvet of denial as the hand ticks past 12pm and smugly begin execute their daily duties confident they’ll avoid all the pranks that come with April Fools.

NextUp Comedy are not part of this group! We love the pranks, we like to laugh at ourselves and at other people. We pride ourselves on delivering lol moments far and wide across the globe, which is why we couldn’t resist creating a few April Fool’s pranks of our own; the #Lologram and our exclusive launch of George Osborne’s brand new stand-up show were our attempts at trickery this year…did we get you?

THE LOLOGRAM

Our Lologram device will deliver real-life 3d holograms of your favourite comedians, wherever you are, ensuring you are always in the front row.

We roped stand-up genius Ben Target into being the poster-boy for our futuristic tech device & created www.lologram.co.uk to add an extra layer of deceit to the prank.

GEORGE OSBORNE’S EXCLUSIVE NEW APPOINTMENT

We were delighted to announce that former chancellor George Osborne had managed to fit us into his increasingly busy schedule. Not only was he a dedicated MP, an advisor to Blackrock and an editor of the Evening Standard, he is also a seriously gifted gag-meister.

We announced that the Jack Dee of Westminster had launched his first ever stand-up special on NextUp! With classic Osborne gags such as "Knock knock? Who's there? Austerity!" - It was one not to miss!

NEXTUP APRIL FOOLS ROUNDUP

We were not the only ones playing jokes on Saturday morning -  here’s a roundup of just 3 of our favorite April Fool’s pranks from the interweb. We’ve also rated them (however please bear in mind they bear no structural judging techniques at all).

1. PornHub

LOL rating 9/10 (Mainly for the amount of sheer panic that was undoubtedly spread)

We’ve all been there - minding our own business, searching the web when all of a sudden you’ve accidently shared a status to Facebook instead of searching on google or sent a bitchy screenshot to the ‘bitch-ee’.  It’s the 21st century, these things happen! Still, there’s no remedy for the red-hot pang of panic coursing through your veins, the unforgiving red face syndrome and the dull thud of regret when you realise there’s no way to correct the mistake.

How do you think you would have reacted to the notion of sharing the most private of your endeavours, the ones you probably don’t brag about, with your entire social circle?

We’ve been told* that many people enjoying their private time found out just that on Saturday morning as Porn Hub delightfully notified users that they had successfully shared their video onto all their social media accounts.

We’re pretty sure that an April Fool’s gag was probably the last thing on the user’s mind at the time this would have popped up, causing mass hysteria at the precise moment when relief was probably the desired emotion.

After undoubtedly clicking the ‘WTF, reverse this now!’ button, users were thankfully brought in on the joke.

*DISCLAIMER - we were told about this prank, we obviously didn't fall for it ourselves…

2. Lyft - Mono

LOL rating 10/10 (Because they essentially and unknowingly pranked themselves.)

Lyft Mono is a wearable tech handpiece which you attach to your hand, stick out your thumb and wait for your Lyft taxi to arrive. Genius, Right? Well, no. The whole essence of April Fool’s is to dupe your followers into believing that something is real when it is not.

However, Lyft have actually developed a working product and a working app. If you get your hands on one of the Mono devices, download the app and stick your thumb out in a Lyft active area, a cab will eventually arrive at your side.

They even put on a pop-up event in San Fransisco to showcase Mono and film the reactions of the understandably oblivious public. Whilst a hilarious prank, the word on the street is that Lyft themselves are the Fools as God only knows what developing a dozen of these working products, apps and adverts would have cost - especially when they had no intention of ever selling them...

HONDA EMOJI HORN

LOL Factor - 6/10 (Beep-Bip-Beeep- Bip [Translation: 😂🙃😂🙃])

See a neighbour? Smiley Beep

Stuck in traffic? Sympathetic depressed beep

Road Rage? Angry beep

We’ve all been there, we could be sat waiting at traffic lights when all of a sudden, Susan from next door but one strolls over the crossing. Let’s give her a little toot toot and a wave.

And then before you know it, you’ve inadvertently caused a whole queue of traffic undue panic and pressure to move on a red light. If only there was another way. Honda’s April Fool solves just this problem. Express your real intentions with a different toned honk depending on the circumstance.

If only this was a real thing! Although in Britain we would need a “passive- aggressive-quiet tut -subtle-shake-of-your-head-despite-the-inner-rage” - emoji tone. Good luck with that one Honda!

Although we now we have an aching sadness that a few of the pranks we fell for aren’t really real products (Apart from Mono & automatic sharing of our most personal fantasies - obvs) we’re so happy to part of the prank family. See you next year April 1st!




 

The Comedy Venues of London

The alternative comedy boom of the late 1980s led to a demand for stand-up that the existing circuit of working men’s clubs (with limited space for comedians on their cabaret variety bills) simply couldn’t contain. With a canny sense of a gap in the market, dedicated comedy clubs began to spring up, leading in particular to a network of venues in the nation’s capital of which we can rightly be proud. Here at NextUp, we believe that the spirit of stand-up burns brightest on the live scene (check out our subscriber’s newsletter, The Inside Joke, for exclusive offers that well help you get out and see it for yourself). Join us as we hail a black cab and head out on a journey showcasing some of the more legendary London venues.

The Comedy Store

One of the first, and still one of the best. The Comedy Store didn’t so much ride the wave of alternative comedy as help open the floodgates to create it in the first place. Opened in 1990, The Store focussed on offering stage time to amateur comics, who ran the risk of a compere bringing their sets to an end with a gong, according with the will of the crowd.  Since the new breed of younger, hipper, more politically-aware audiences tended to give the old-guard’s repertoire of mother-in-law jokes and casual racism short shrift, they helped usher in a whole new generation of forward-thinking funny folk. Comics who got their start at the store in such a fashion include Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmonson, Dawn French, Clive Anderson, and Jennifer Saunders to name but a few.

1985 saw the birth of The Comedy Store Players, the improvisational comedy group that later gave rise to the TV comedy gold of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and made household names of stars like Paul Merton and Josie Lawrence. You can still catch the players on Wednesday and Sunday nights, and the club continues to play host to eclectic bills featuring both established comedians and up-and-comers on every other night of the week.

Up The Creek

Arguably no one did more to promote live comedy in London than the late, great, Malcolm Hardee. As well as being a damn fine stand-up in his own right, the man described by Rob Newman as the “millennial Falstaff” was also a compere, promoter, talent spotter, and all-round comedy guru. After the closure of his first comedy club venture, the notoriously heckler-friendly Tunnel Club, Hardee moved on to Greenwich and Up The Creek, where his expert guidance helped shape the careers of such household names as Frank Skinner, Vic Reeves, and the two Harrys, Enfield and Hill.

As well as continuing the fine tradition of first rate stand-up, Up The Creek has become a TV star of late, hosting BBC’s panel show No Such Thing As The News (fronted by QI’s intrepid band of researcher ‘elves’). This month, the club is also welcoming The Chortle Comedy Awards, where NextUp will be battling it out against stiff opposition in the form of Adam Buxton, The Parapod, and The Guilty Feminist in the battle for the coveted ‘Internet Award’.

Angel Comedy Club

At the modern bleeding-edge of London’s comedy scene lies a club that has become a veritable institution in a relatively short space of time. Established by comedian Barry Ferns in 2010, The Angel Comedy Club works tirelessly to further the cause of comedy in the capital from not one, but two venues separated by a short stretch of bustling Islington tarmac. Seven nights a week, the club offers free comedy from its residence upstairs at the Camden Head, and – by way of an innovative crowdfunding campaign that raised £40k – has recently launched its very own venue in a pub named after everyone’s favourite enigmatic comedy genius: The Bill Murray.

If you can’t make it along to feast on the comedy banquet at Angel in person, fear not - you can catch a plethora of sets from the Angel on NextUp. Check out Lou Sanders, Ben Target, and Twins for starters.

By Stuart Boyland

 

The Lovingly Crafted Hour

Britain’s comedy output is admired across the globe, from its groundbreaking sitcoms to influential sketch shows, stand-up superstars to radio wonders. Comedy fans look to us for the best cutting-edge comedy on TV, radio and live on stage.

One form of funny our country particularly excels at is the lovingly crafted hour of live comedy. The Edinburgh Fringe’s influence...

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