When does a show title become a literal truth? Mat Ricardo’s ascetic research continues as he develops one-man show Vaudeville Schmuck for this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Read the second part of his exclusive series for This Is Cabaret.

Trial and error: between writes and re-writes, Mat Ricardo learns new tricks for upcoming show Vaudeville Schmuck

Trial and error: between writes and re-writes, Mat Ricardo learns new tricks for upcoming show Vaudeville Schmuck


Four Weeks to Go

I’ve been spending the last week or so alone in my office, talking at a wall. Running through the script in a vain attempt to learn it. There’s lots of words.

I hit a bump a few days ago when I realised that I liked the first half of the show, but completely hated the second. It just sounded like droning noise.

Part of This Is Cabaret's coverage of the 2012 Edinburgh Festival FringeI spent a day very depressed – a little blip like this encourages the bad thoughts to come out and play. Easy to be seduced into sitting on the floor with a bag of Monster Munch convinced that you only had one show in you, and you should just cancel everything and go get a job in a tie shop. But I got myself together, completely re-wrote the entire second half, stuck in an extra juggling routine, and now I like it much more.

Inch by inch, reading by reading, the show is starting to feel like a show, and not just a bunch of ideas on some pieces of paper. It’s starting to have a shape and an arc and some sense of a beginning, a middle and an end. And it seems to be about the right length. Also, it now has a Syd Little reference, so there’s that.


Two Weeks to Go

Now it doesn’t just have a Syd Little reference – it has a whole Syd Little audio/visual section. So, yes, I spent an afternoon searching “Syd Little” on Google Images for work.

I also press-ganged my friend and past director Roses Urquhart into watching me run it through and giving me notes. As always, her notes are mainly “stop fidgeting and talk properly.” I’ve been getting the exact same notes since primary school. And they’ve always been accurate. I am, if nothing else, a fast-talking pacer.

I did a gig at The Magic Circle last week, and dropped in 15 or so minutes of the new material. They seemed to like it, which really buoyed my spirits. After weeks of running my script in an empty room at home, it felt great to have a room full of strangers confirm that there are some funny bits in it.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll try doing the full hour in front of people. No safety net. No reserve parachute. It’ll either be some entertaining and heartfelt stories, peppered with bad language and juggling tricks, or it’ll just be a man in a suit droning on and slowly drowning in flop sweat.


Mat Ricardo: Vaudeville Schmuck plays in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from August 1st to 26th (not 6th, 13th or 20th) at The Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68A, EH2 2AA), 17:45. See www.matricardo.com for details and tickets.


Can’t wait until August? Catch the previews of Vaudeville Schmuck at the Cambridge Comedy Festival (July 19th July, 19:30) and the Revival Festival at Marylebone Gardens, London (July 23rd and 24th, 19:30).


Photos courtesy of the author