Friday 18 May 2018

The Robert Lane blog has now moved to 

Saturday 30 December 2017

What have been some of your mistakes this year and what lessons have you learnt from them?

I’ve re-learnt something this year which actually comes from my experience with improv theatre;  “your obvious might not be their obvious.” My experience booking gigs and running the crowdfunding campaign for my new album has been that you have to say what you want. If you’re asking someone for help, support or advice you actually have to ASK for it. Outlining the proposal and then failing to actually ask for support won’t get you anywhere. You can’t assume that people will pick up on the subtext, or that it will be obvious what you want or need. Your obvious might not be their obvious!

Maybe it’s a particularly British thing to not always say what we mean, we say things like “I don’t think I’ll be able to do that” when we mean “there is no chance at all that I will do that” or “things are a bit tough but I’ll manage” rather than “please help me immediately.”

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Returning to comedy improv with The Improlectuals

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be getting back into some comedy improv with my friends Nadi Kemp-Sayfi and Richard Baldwin.

We've formed a little group called The Improlectuals and our first show is on the 17th of November at Cherry Reds in John Bright Street, Birmingham city centre. Proceeds from the show will be going to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. There will be two more performers announced soon, both of whom I'm very excited to be working with. Please buy your tickets immediately.

My involvement with improv goes back to my uni days when I was in a comedy group which evolved from a final year performance. Our shows were a mix of scripted stuff, stand up and improv games. We took a show up to the Edinburgh Fringe, appeared on a shitty BBC 3 "talent contest" (semi finalists in fact which was something of a nightmare) and did three or four theatre shows of varying quality.

Later I was cast in a play called Tell Me About Your Ex, a verbatim piece which featured at at its conclusion some improvisation using stories submitted by the audience. Around this time I became involved with Foghorn Improv (later Foghorn Unscripted) as a musician and actor/improviser. Foghorn had a different approach and objectives to any of the groups I had worked with before. Their specialism was long-form improv and with them I took part in a great variety of improvised pieces including musicals, Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens themed stories, murder mysteries and an improvised cabaret show. The performances were always a rewarding challenge which developed my character and narrative improv skills. Occasionally I would also perform with Coventry based Wow Impro, another challenge entirely as this was a family friendly short form games night, meaning the safety net of getting cheap laughs with dirty language was removed (of course I would never demean my-fucking-self in such a pathetic way to get an easy laugh, but you know what I mean.)

Recently I've been retracing my steps with a lot of the things I'm passionate about, in the way I expect everybody does from time to time, but this is my blog and I'm having a moment so just indulge me.  All the old episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway? are available on All 4 (and youtube without the ad breaks, truth be told) and I have found myself gorging on that of late. The show feels primordial to me as if it's part of my make up. I think my mom and older brother must have watched it as I was growing up. I feel the same about The Crystal Maze and the Austin/MG Metro; they basically are my childhood. I'm pretty sure, thinking back, that I had a go at getting some friends to do sketch comedy with me way back in secondary school. I would have described my ambitions as very much a mix of Not The Nine O'Clock News and Monty Python plus maybe a bit of Fast Show thrown in along with lashings of impro ala Whose Line. Consequently hardly any of my peers would have had any idea what I was talking about. How thrilling it was later to meet talented, enthusiastic people with a similar passion for this once rather maligned form.

Whilst talking about other people who love it, how brilliant is it that a little community of comedy improv performers and enthusiasts appears to be thriving in the midlands. As well as Foghorn Unscripted and Wow Impro there are a whole load of troupes including Box of FrogsThe KneejerksJumprov and Fat Penguin Improv.

There's a dedicated Midlands Improv blog.

There's even Birmingham Improv Festival  which runs from the 23rd to the 29th of October.

Don't get me started on the scene beyond the midlands, as I shall wet myself with excitement. I mean there's The Noise Next Door, Austentatious and Heather Urquhart to name but them.

Anyway come and see The Improlectuals on the 17th of November.


Monday 7 August 2017

New gig announcements

More to follow soon...

Friday 22nd September
King Charles Room, The Kings Head and Bell, Abingdon 

Saturday 7th October
Old Low Light, North Shields 

Friday 27th October 
House Concert, Idstein, Germany 

Saturday 28th October
House Concert, Bad Homburg, Germany 

Saturday 18th November
Anima Jazz Bar, Warrington 

Thursday 3 August 2017

I've been in the studio this week working on a new track. It's been really exciting; I like the song a lot and the process has been really smooth. I'm working once again with my friend Matthew Pinfield.

So far I've played lots of guitar which has included using my trusty brown Strat and this beautiful Gretsch

I've also played a bit of piano 

Friday 23 June 2017

The United Tour

I had the most amazing time on The United Tour, my join headline tour with Kyshona Armstrong. We performed in Camden, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Leicester, Maidenhead, Market Rasen, and Sedgefield.

How amazing to have people turn out to support us everywhere on what was my first proper headline tour and Kyshona's second visit to the UK. Here's some images from the tour

 BBC WM for an interview with Paul Franks
We then did an interview "down the line" to BBC Lincolnshire with Rob Underwood

Our first gig was at MENCAP in Birmingham to help raise money for their hockey team's trip to Holland

Green Note, Camden. Images by Tony Birch

On the way to Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham

Image by Ian Lane 

Image by Ian Lane

Kyshona drives in the UK!

 BBC Leicester (on a narrow boat!)

Election night curry!

The Musician, Leicester

Nordern Farm, Maidenhead 

Image by Adam Jenkins

Image by Adam Jenkins

Image by Adam Jenkins

Piercebridge church

Piercebridge Roman Fort

The amazing Manor House, Sedgefield was the scene of our final gig

Monday 29 May 2017

My first album has received a couple of reviews recently

Tony Birch at Fatea

Phil the Music Quill

Some of the songs on that album go back a fair way now, and it's interesting to read these reviews and think about the process and context of writing them. Tony at Fatea draws particular focus to Don't Know Love. This is a song that I remember being pretty proud of at the time, but it's fallen out of my regular set list, probably because it's pretty hard to perform!