Nick Churchill talks to Daniel Bye

How much is beauty worth? What will people pay for an air guitar on eBay? Can I have a glass of milk?

These urgent questions – and many more besides – are answered in The Price of Everything, a performance lecture/stand-up storytelling show about value.

Self-styled ‘theatre maker’
 Daniel Bye has trained with French master clown Philippe Gaulier, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Studio; he is an Associate Artist of ARC in Stockton-on-Tees and lecturer in Theatre at the University of Bedfordshire.

He’s also fascinated by how and why we have to measure everything in money. The Price of Everything is provocatively funny, ever so slightly interactive and just a tiny bit sad.

Daniel, what price do we have to pay to see the show?

I believe it’s a tenner. I’m particularly excited when venues are able to offer the show as pay-what-you-can, as it ties in so deeply with what the show’s about. But the financial climate (that again) sadly means that isn’t often possible.

Is the price we pay the same as what it costs us?

Only if you’re measuring cost in money. It also costs you: an hour, your attention, whatever number of calories you have to pay to sit upright throughout that time, and probably a handful of other things I can’t think of.

And is that the same as its value?

Again, only if you’re measuring value in money. If you’re firmly committed to the idea that there are absolutely no other possible ways of measuring value than in pounds and pence, then you probably shouldn’t come and see the show.

Why do you think we like to quantify things?

We’ve learned that it’s necessary. But actually, we’re not very good at it. Most of the time we do it very vaguely. One of the things I think people enjoy about the show is that quantifying things as precisely as I do here is really absurd.

What is the audience going to see when you perform The Price of Everything?

Me talking. Each other laughing. Some slides. A lot of milk.

How did you arrive at the concept and then the content of The Price of Everything?

I’ve long been fascinated by the creepy way in which economics has colonised all of our brains. The only admissible arguments in public policy these days seem to be the economic ones. We’ve lost all ability to value things in any other way. Attempts to express other value systems are met with cynicism, or patronisation. What about that wouldn’t make for a comedy show?

As to the content, almost all of it was developed out of a series of conversations between me and the show’s director, Dick Bonham. Every so often I’d say something funny or interesting, and Dick would say, ‘you should put that in the show’. The other 99% of what I said has been lost to history.

Why a glass of milk?

It’s good for you.

Your pieces certainly comprise social comment, sometimes with an overtly political message, but seem to be about people first and foremost, what draws you to that territory?

I can’t think of a more pressing subject than who we are and how we choose to structure the society in which we live together. When I do, or when I decide Sellotape is that subject, look out for lots of shows about parcels.

In your opinion, is politically engaged theatre/music/art/film/comedy etc finding its audience and hitting its target effectively?

Honestly, probably not in most cases. I think audiences find it pretty hard to imagine that politically driven work is really going to be any fun, and in many cases they’re proven right. I also think that talk of ‘targets’ is, if you’ll forgive the pun, off the mark.

For me, politically effective theatre isn’t about shooting things or people down (although there might be a little of that along the way). For me, the most important thing is finding ways to acknowledge that actually, it’s up to us, the people gathered to consider this stuff. Nobody’s going to change the world for us.

But as, so far, my theatre work has failed to either bring down capitalism or put an end to global warming, I suppose I’d have to admit the jury’s still out.

Do you see your job as being to ask questions or provide answers, or neither?

Mostly questions. But if I’ve got ideas, I’m not going to pretend I haven’t in the interest of some imaginary ‘balance’. That would just be a way of my loading the dice. Even then though I suppose I’m not so much providing answers as suggesting some in the form of a question, I suppose. ‘This is what I think. Do you agree?’

Your work has been very highly praised by some very august publications do you feel any pressure as a result of being called ‘genius’, ‘near perfect’ and, as you say, even ‘intelligent’?

I wasn’t until you mentioned it…

You describe yourself as a ‘theatre maker’, what does that mean?

I don’t create the work by sitting down at my desk and writing it down in advance of rehearsals. It’s created on the rehearsal room floor. I suppose it’s a way of reflecting that the work happens in three dimensions, live, just like the way it is made; it’s not created in abstract in advance.

What’s next for Daniel Bye?

My newest show, How to Occupy an Oil Rig, is just about to go out on tour. And I’m creating a series of walking tours called Story Hunt in various different towns and cities over the summer – each of them is a tour of the things in that town that are no longer visible.

Finally, how much kindness is a glass of milk worth?

You mean a glass of milk isn’t kindness itself?!

Web Links:

Daniel Bye live shows:

The Price of Everything

Thur 6 Feb – Lighthouse, Poole, 8pm

Thur 13 Feb – Globe Hall, Ireby, 7.30pm

Fri 14 Feb – Haile Village Hall, 7.30pm

How To Occupy An Oil Rig

Wed 26 Feb – Norwich Arts Centre, 8pm

Thur 27 Feb – Subscription Rooms, Stroud, 8pm

Fri 28 Feb, Sat 1 Mar – Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, 7.30pm

Tues 4, Wed 5 Mar – Warwick Arts Centre. 7.45pm

Fri 7 Mar – University of Bedfordshire, 7.30pm

Sat 8 Mar – Embrace Arts, Leicester, 8pm

Tues 11 – Thur 13 Mar – Northern Stage, Newcastle, 8pm

Fri 14 Mar – Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, 8pm

Tues 18 Mar – Alnwick Playhouse, 7.30pm

Wed 19 Mar – Unity Theatre, Liverpool, 8pm

Thur 20 Mar – mac, Birmingham, 8pm

Fri 21 Mar – Derby Theatre, 8pm

Sat 22, Sun 23 Mar – Camden People’s Theatre, London

Tues 25 Mar – Harrogate Theatre, 7.45pm

Wed 26 Mar – ARC, Stockton-on-Tees, 7pm

Thur 27 Mar – Arts Centre, Washington, 7.30pm

Sat 29 Mar – Barnsley Civic, 7.30pm

Nick Churchill

Nick Churchill has written professionally for more than 25 years. Currently a busy Journalist undertaking a wealth of celebrity interviews and human interest features to writing speeches, generating web and media content and production scripts. His first book, Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth – got great reviews. He has also worked on projects for Duncan Bannatyne, Harry Hill, James Caan, Scott Mills and Peter Dickson, the voice of The X Factor. His obvious passion for words and natural genuine integrity is most refreshing.

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February 5, 2014 By : Category : Culture Humour Interviews Recent Tags:, , , , ,
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Another Tramadol Night: Doug Stanhope – The Forum, Nottingham – 5/4/11

My compadre and I, both suffering from debilitating back pain, took the questionable decision to drop 100mg of Tramadol each before making the hour-or-so journey up the M42 from Birmingham to Nottingham, and, by the time we hit the sheriff’s town, I, for one, was itching like a £10-bag-a-day-merchant in the waiting room of the man. Prescription drugs, huh?

Now, I’ve always like Nottingham – three-girls-to-every-boy, as the nursery rhyme went when I was but a whippersnapper – and thus the stroll through the town centre towards the venue began as a joy in the unseasonably warm spring evening’s dying rays. Venue located, and bearings nailed, we decided to hunter-gather in search of fish and chips, but our joy, our fun, our seasons in the sun soon turned to conflict. No sooner had we taken our chip and Coca Cola place, seated on a concrete plinth in the centre of a square around the corner from the venue, when our relative peace was shattered by a local Celtic pisshead, intent on sharing his vin blanc with the red-haired-fella with the chips. His breath stank worse than his demeanour, and I stridently refused his offer of swigage, explaining that I had won with my battle-with-the-bottle some time previously, and forcibly, but not aggressively, declined a sup at his paper bag sheathed teat. Thus followed an uncomfortable few minutes when he, at first, congratulated me on my abstinence, indulged in flattery, then stood and wobbled, getting ever-angrier, and started swinging his arms in a threatening manner. I sat my ground and remained unfazed, eventually agreeing to watch his bottle while he bought fish, and, on his return, told him plainly that we were offski. Our parting cuddle was both moving and repulsive, in equal measure. Alcohol, huh?

The venue was perfect for comedy, and rammed to the proverbial. A single microphone stood centre-stage, next to a table that would soon be plied with alcohol. We took to our seats, and the chap next to me introduced himself, loudly, in a Yorkshire accent. He was, he explained, a massive Doug Stanhope fan. He’d been into him for over ten years, and seemed to snort derisively when I confessed to have only been ‘into Doug’ for a mere half-decade. He was drinking pints, fast, and his much-younger girlfriend kept disappearing to the bar, keeping him constantly well stocked, and, before long, well oiled. We discussed Doug, and compared Doug DVD stashes. Again, he appeared to snort when I confirmed that No Refunds was the only one I owned, and got even more annoyed when I suggested that Doug fronted a comedic lineage that drew a straight line through Bill Hicks all the way to Lenny Bruce. He declared Nirvana his biggest moment in the history of popular music. If there had been any Doug Stanhope t-shirts, this guy would have had his on over his jacket. By the time I’d asked him how many punters he reckoned were in the house, had calculated how much Doug stood to make, and commented on how comedy sure paid better than rock and roll, it seemed, he was looking down his not inconsiderable nose in my general direction. Obsessives, huh?

Doug hits the stage to rapturous applause. As per usual, he makes his ‘not worthy gestures’, knocks back a short, rips into some sad-fuckers filming him on mobile phones, then the rampant rant of invective-filled, stream of consciousness rhetoric commenced. For those of you who know little of Doug Stanhope, he trades in misanthropic deconstructivist nihilism, posing as social commentary, and it’s by far the funniest show in town. He carries a picture of his dead father around in his wallet to show people who insist on showing him pictures of their babies. He asks if anyone in the audience with a big black dick fancies having it photographed across his face so he can show that one to people who approach him to bite him out for his use of the word ‘faggot’. Inevitably, the heckles begin, and, wouldn’t you know it, Yorky-The-Number-One-Doug-Fan can’t keep his fucking mouth shut. He’s desperate to get involved, the comedic equivalent of chanting the chorus to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, I guess: “I Love you Doug!”… “Are you sure”, spits back Stanhope, “I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced, you may hate me!” Fan worship, huh?

Meanwhile, back at the plot, the laughter is constant. We weep tears of comedic salt, hold bursting sides of splitting gut, resisting the urge to get our jeans as pissed as Yorky Boy, yet beside us, on the other side, sits a young lady who laughs not once throughout the entire show. Obviously, one man’s comedic liberation is another woman’s ambivalence. No target is sacrosanct, no mercy is shown, no quarter given, no punches pulled. Alcohol fuels Doug’s show, and he’s hilariously aware that he is as hopelessly addicted as the poser-addicts he rips so mercilessly during the AA portion of tonight’s set. He claims that whenever he tells his AA mates he’s going to perform sober, they respond with, “Not tonight, I’ve got tickets for the show!” As the show progresses, Doug gets drunker. The shorts go back with regular aplomb, his face ever-redder, words becoming slurred. Doug introduces his closing riff on relationships with the line: “I once fucked a nine-year-old!” Luckily, it transpires, Stanhope was nine-years-old at the time, so paedophilia is something you can’t add to his ever-growing list of socio-comedic crimes. By the time the show closes, it’s hard to work out where Stanhope The Stand-up Comedian ends and Stanhope The Drunk begins. It’s getting hazy… it’s hard to see the join. Alcohol, huh?

Simon Morgan

Punk rocker, folk strummer, baby social worker, and parent, Simon Morgan is a polymath. He has brought you many things in his time – as Jean Encoule he created the legendary trakMARX website, but has now stepped from behind his alter ego to reveal his true, vibrant colours. Despite having gone prematurely orange, he maintains a youthful open-mindedness, which he combines with his vast experience and ready wit. His debut solo album, Domestic Abuse is now available.

“Spirit/Is Life/It flows through/The death of me/ Endlessly/Like a River/ Unafraid/Of Becoming/The sea.” (Gregory Corso)

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Live Recent Reviews Tags:, ,
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Noel & Julian in (Un)natural Acts Part 1 of 2

Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett in (un)natural acts. they have a lot of their own sketches within the show but i thought it would be nice to make a compilation of their sketches together. Very cute, very early. The birth of Boosh as it were.


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Recent Tags:, , ,
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