Ever the cultural hub, Liverpool is currently even more cultural than normal with lots going on across the city thanks to the WowFest (Writing on the Wall) which celebrates writing in all forms and has attracted talks and performances from a wide range of people including Alexei Sayle, Jerry Dammers, Francesca Martinez, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lord Puttnam, Phil Redmond, Dirk Maggs and Isy Suttie.
Isy is of course the reason I'm posting today, having bagged a ticket for a unique daytime gig, taking place today (Sunday) from 2pm. I must say this is the first time I've ever been to proper stand up during the day, and it suited Isy's homely, friendly style beautifully.
This show is essentially a live version of Isy's debut book, The Actual One (which I've previously reviewed here) Wisely Isy doesn't fall into the trap of simply regurgitating huge reams of text, like some comics with book to sell, and instead offers a precis which appeals to both those who have already read The Actual One and those who would wish to purchase the book after the show from the foyer (sold via News From Nowhere - Liverpool's best independent bookstore; a feminist co-operative that has been running since the '70s) whilst at the same time providing new material, largely in the shape of her amusing and melodic songs; one of which taps into the same themes of the book, exploring her concern regarding all her friends 'growing up' and moving to the countryside ("twattyside" as she sings at one point) and another which instructs us all to wait for our real love before playing them the music of Tom Waits. I also liked her anecdote about sharing a train carriage on the way home from a gig in Manchester with two drunken teenage girls playing a variant of 'Truth or Dare'; "Would you ever drink your own blood?", "Ugh no, I'd get AIDS!"
After the show we were treated to a Q&A from the stage chaired by a lady involved with Wowfest, where Isy revealed that she is currently working on a second book and was pleasingly open about her life and her career - including the glut of new comics who are imitating the greats as they attempt to find their way. At one point she mentioned how every young male comic now seems to have adopted the same vocal mannerisms of Stewart Lee, and I was amused to hear two girls behind me whisper to one another "Who's that?"
After the Q&A we had the chance to meet Isy and have our books signed.
As you can probably tell by the photo at the top of this review, I neglected to bring my book along to the gig (the Q&A and signing wasn't advertised, which was a minor irritation) but thankfully Isy was happy to sign my ticket and seemed as genuinely lovely as she does on TV. I'd long since hoped to catch Isy live, having seen her stand up on shows like The Alternative Comedy Experience and Dave's One Night Stand, and she really did not disappoint. It was, in short, a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon - I hope there'll be more stand ups who will consider the daytime slots at festivals from now on.
A quick word about The Music Room; this was the first time I'd ever attended the venue. I've been to the Philharmonic more times than I'd care to recall, but this more intimate setting, approached at the rear of the building on Sugnall Street, was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed it too - it's intimate and informal, spotlessly clean and modern and the layout is chairs and little round tables giving the room an almost cafe like feel. As long as you've got a ticket, you can sit where you like, so I managed to get myself a front seat which was great.
I'm hoping to catch a few more events at the Wowfest throughout this month.