Tag Archives: vicky arlidge

Vicky Arlidge: From nappies to neeps

21 Jul

Mum, Can You Wipe My Bum?

Vicky Arlidge, a St Albans composer and musician, takes her one-woman comedy show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next month. Here she talks to me about her journey from teaching toddler music classes to gearing up to raise laughs at the world’s largest arts festival.

When Vicky Arlidge posted a performance of her song Mum, Can You Wipe My Bum? online she didn’t expect it to receive over 10,000 hits worldwide. It was the start of a new direction in Vicky’s career, transforming her from composer, music teacher and musician to stand-up musical comedian complete with ukulele and keyboard.

Vicky is now looking to bring her observational comedy about the frustrations of being a mum and wife to a wider audience.

“I could be giving it all up,” she laughs nervously when asked to picture the scenario when her Edinburgh Fringe Festival run is over: “It goes terribly wrong, I get no audiences, I get terrible reviews and no one’s interested”.

With her hair neatly clipped to one side, Vicky appears unassuming – your everyday mum on the school run. But on stage her incisive wit and ability to make her audience squirm in recognition is far from ordinary. An accomplished musician, Vicky has over 20 years’ experience of composing for theatre, television and film as well as performing and teaching music. In 2008 she set up Pitter Patter Music to provide music classes for babies and toddlers in St Albans – you could say she is used to a tough audience.

“I’m not the funniest person I know”, says Vicky. ”The only difference between me and everyone else is that I’m the one who’s got up on stage, I’m stupid enough to do that.”

With songs such as Raucous Raunchy Sex Or A Nice Cup of Tea, The School Run Madrigal Vicky describes being a mother as an essential part of her comedy: “Fifty per cent of my comedy is about being a mum”. Vicky has hit a winning formula judging by her recent sell-out preview show in St Albans. Still glowing, Vicky looks back on it as one of her “best audiences ever”.

Vicky discovered her talent for musical comedy when she set out to write a pop song after a testing day.  “I was a full-time mum,” she says, “getting really frustrated at not doing anything creative – just changing nappies and dealing with tantrums all day long and going a bit nuts.” That pop song turned into Mum, Can You Wipe My Bum? When it became an internet hit, Vicky realised that she missed the buzz of having an audience: “I never thought I’d be a musical comedian, it never entered my head until I was 40-whatever. I just fell into it.”

She started going to what she half-seriously describes as “dodgy comedy clubs”, the training ground for new comedians. Forcing Vicky to learn “from the hardest audience”, they proved to be very different from the musical world Vicky was used to. Why didn’t the bad gigs put her off? “Because I’m very stubborn and determined,” she says firmly. Her tone softens and she adds: “It makes you feel so great, just to laugh. To make a whole room of people laugh is a great feeling.”

Vicky’s humorous take on everyday life has led to her being compared to Victoria Wood. “I’m really flattered,” Vicky smiles. “She’s funny but very funny in a homely way. She has an unmacho humour that appeals to women.” Vicky readily acknowledges that a large part of her own audience is women. But this doesn’t mean her comedy is tame. There is a naughty glint in her eye when she admits her tendency to slip a few bad words into her songs.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a daunting prospect for all comedians, particularly first-timers. The average audience for a show is just three people. Taking part is an expensive business and requires a vast amount of preparation. But with that comes the hope of being discovered and exposed to a nationwide audience.

“It feels like a rite of passage,” Vicky says. “If you want to be a comedian you have to go to Edinburgh. You do it for what happens around Edinburgh. You take yourself more seriously and other people start to take you more seriously.”

Despite being nervous about what Edinburgh holds, Vicky is enjoying every minute: “It’s just the laughter I think,” she says. “I love writing the songs, the creativity. I’d love it if I could give up the day job and write silly songs all day and make people laugh at night – that would be perfect.”

Vicky’s show Mum, Can You Wipe My Bum? runs from August 2nd-10th at the C venues – C Nova, Edinburgh. Tickets are available here.

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Review: Sing & Learn

20 Feb

I reviewed Vicky Arlidge’s Tunes 4 Toddler Tantrums CD in 2010 and thought it was excellent. It was full of original songs (this Vicky is one clever lady!) and there was no exaggeration in the title — it did what it said on the tin. So when I saw that Vicky had two new CDs out I was very excited. But then I saw the CDs — two collections of already well-known songs. Hmm. I’ve done my share of Rhyme Time at the library. I’ve struggled to sing along at baby music classes where the teacher has insisted on singing at a pitch only dogs can hear. There’s nothing more I could possibly need to know about the health of the sleeping bunnies or Miss Polly’s Dolly. What then, I asked myself, could Sing & Learn Volumes 1 & 2 possibly bring to my musical table?

My initial doubts were (happily) proved wrong.

The songs may be old favourites (eg Incy Wincy Spider, Old MacDonald, Wheels on the Bus) but they have been arranged to breathe new life into them. Vicky has the voice you wish you had for blowing those other parents out of the water! And — most importantly for parents of children who adore repetition — it’s a voice that doesn’t have you running for the off switch even after having the CDs on loop for days. Children’s music that doesn’t drive you slowly mad, now there’s a rarity.

I discovered that I’m not as clever as I thought — you can teach an old dog new tricks. There are songs on Sing & Learn that I remember from my childhood but had forgotten the words to (Horsey Horsey, Polly Put the Kettle On). After a few listens I no longer had to fill gaps with awkward “la, la, las” and can now keep up with the never-ending stream of songs that my 3-year-old returns home from nursery singing. Much cred to Mummy.

Usefully, Vicky has divided Sing & Learn into two volumes — the first CD consists of nursery rhymes (eg Humpty Dumpty, Three Blind Mice, Hickory Dickory Dock), whilst the second is songs that have accompanying actions (eg If You’re Happy and You Know It, Dingle Dangle Scarecrow, Sleeping Bunnies). This makes the CDs suitable across a range of ages from baby to toddler to … well, whatever age it is before they discover Britney, Bieber and Beyoncé.

I’ve subjected my children to the Jeremy Vine radio show on a daily basis for far too long. All of us are unwilling participants. Now I can flick the switch and fill the room with happiness and silliness. What more could a stressed and tired parent ask for?! (Well, that doesn’t require a prescription.)

Sing & Learn Vol 1: A Collection of Traditional Nursery Rhymes to Help Little Ones Learn & Develop and Sing & Learn Vol 2: A Collection of Action Songs to Help Little Ones Learn & Develop. By Vicky Arlidge. Both volumes RRP £5.99. Available from Amazon (or Cuthbert’s toy shop if you’re lucky enough to live in St Albans!!).

Vicky is also a comic songwriter – see her on YouTube being very funny and very clever: Mum, Can You Wipe My Bum?

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