Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dermot Draws The Egghead's Curtains...

Does Dermot do this every day or was this a coincidence?

And finally...

Hello Coventry!

Hello Carlisle!

Hello Preston!

Hello Perth!

Goodbye tour. For now.

We're going to extend the tour into next year. I'll have the dates all sorted soon!

Thanks to everyone who's been to see the show. I've bloomin' loved it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hello Again. Again.

Hello Cheltenham!

Hello Wolverhampton!

Hello Leicester!

Hello Hammersmith!

Just Coventry, Carlisle, Preston and Perth to go... I'm going to miss this show.

Or maybe I'll just find a way to do it some more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Mind Wanders When You're On Tour...

Take a full page ad for Specsavers from a national newspaper. Cut the face in half, removing the nose:

Then see what you'd like with grey hair:

Or a stubbly, silver beard:

Like I say. The mind wanders when you're on tour.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Sorry Belfast!

Well this tour was just going a bit too smoothly so something had to come along and upset the apple cart. Bah.

Unfortunately there's a day of industrial action planned for November 30th. Which means that the Waterfront Hall in Belfast is unlikely to have any staff. Including stage crew. Which makes putting the show on... well, kind of impossible.

So unfortunately we're left with little choice but to postpone the show to another date. It's a bit far off. June 15th. 2012.

That's literally as much as I know at the moment. If you have a ticket for the show next Wednesday - I can only advise you to contact the agency you bought it from. Of course, I'll try to find out more and update this page as and when I find anything out.

I'm gutted. But there really isn't anything I can do about it. Sorry.

The Wolves Civic

I'd love to have been at the Wolverhampton Civic yesterday because it was home to the final of the Grand Slam of Darts. I like darts.

The tournament was won by Phil Taylor - the finest darts player there's ever been. I like Phil Taylor. I'm a fan of darts.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to watch the final. I was on stage at the time. Having a lovely time in Cheltenham Town Hall as it goes. But I will be at the Wolverhampton Civic later on today as it just happens to be the venue for the next gig on the tour.

I've been hoping that a little bit of darting memorabilia might have been left behind for me.

But I wasn't expecting this:

Here's a close up of the sign:

How bloomin' lovely is that?

Very lovely.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ecky Thump 2

I can't quite believe it, but I've now had a second report of someone pulling a muscle laughing at the tour show. (See here for the first!)

Last night, on my way back from High Wycombe I saw this tweet:
So I asked...

and the reply came...


Saturday, November 12, 2011

He's maximum something, that's for sure.

I'll start this post by saying that I like Ricky Gervais. I'll also say that the point of this post isn't to debate whether or not I'm right to. That's tedious. Because comedy is a matter of taste. Besides, this post really isn't about him. It's about another comic creation. One called @MaximumGervais.

I didn't realise it was a comedy character at first. But it's always worth looking at the details... and I'm genuinely convinced that it is now. I'm not being obtuse or playful when I say that. I'm convinced.

So... I'll tell you how I first encountered @MaximumGervais. It starts with this tweet from Ricky.

For those unfamiliar with the grammar of Twitter, the abusive 'who-told-him-he-was-funny' post came from someone else (I've filtered their username because I don't want to encourage any pitchfork wielding mobs) and Ricky has retweeted it - ie sent it out to all his followers - with the added retort, Bafta.

So that's what Ricky tweeted... and I saw it because someone I know, retweeted that. Now, I don't have a lot of time for the person who sent the original, abusive tweet... because actually, no matter what you think of any comedian, the answer to who-told-them-they're-funny? is always the same: audiences. There's no empirical evidence of funny/unfunny. Every comedian that you think is unfunny makes other people laugh. (And every comedian that you think is hilarious leaves other people cold). And whatever you think of Ricky, there is plenty of evidence that lots of people think he's funny. Including some evidence from Bafta. Fine.

Now one of the things about social media is that it is what you make of it. You can lurk and read. You can participate. You can troll. You can use it in myriad ways. And some people think that their way is right and that other people's way is wrong. Personally, I have a policy of not retweeting praise. Or criticism. It wasn't ever thus for me... but it's where I've ended up. It's what makes me feel comfortable. But I don't think everyone should do the same. There are people I admire a great deal who do both. If it offended me so much I'd unfollow them. (I don't see unfollowing someone as an aggressive act - it's like changing seat on a bus to sit away from the passenger with the loud headphones... it's just making your own journey a little nicer, that's all.)

But the thing that struck me as odd about Ricky's tweet was that the abuse he was rebutting wasn't actually sent to him. It didn't contain his twitter name. It didn't refer to him as @RickyGervais... but as Ricky Gervais. So the only way he could have seen it was by searching for his name. Which seemed to me to be a surprising thing for him to do. Because it's not possible to appear on TV without being hated by someone somewhere. Every time anyone appears on TV someone somewhere is watching and saying, "Oh no... not that twat... I hate them...". (Okay, maybe it doesn't happen with David Attenborough. But it happens with everyone else.) And that's fine. Someone thinking that - someone saying it to their friends - is fine. You don't like to think about it obviously, but it's fine. It's the people who say it to you that are being anti-social. And on twitter that means it's the people who include your username - ensuring that you'll see the comment - that are the problem.

Now I'll reiterate that I like Ricky. And I was surprised to see that he was searching for criticism and taking the time to rebut it... but I'll also reiterate that social networking sites are what you make of them - and for each individual that can - and will - be different. Nobody's right, nobody's wrong.

But I registered my surprise by sending a tweet to the person who'd retweeted Ricky's post:

(again, I've filtered out their username)

And this is where MaximumGervais tipped up. They too must have been searching for comments relating to Ricky - and they must have been following all sorts of threads because my tweet doesn't even mention any obviously searchable terms - but they tweeted me the following:
Which made me laugh as an approach, so I replied...

To which they then replied:

Which again made me laugh. I didn't know that the person who'd been on Letterman most was the best (but it must be nice for David Letterman to know that he's several thousand times better than everyone else on earth, except Paul Shaffer) and comforting in a small way to confirm that both I and David not-the-magician Copperfield are significantly better than MaximumGervais.

Now at this stage I just thought they were a genuine Ricky Gervais superfan. I thought they really were patrolling the internet and defending their hero against any slight, however small. But I was also genuinely curious as to why they thought my initial tweet was deemed critical. I wouldn't expect the word 'Criminy' to inspire such vitriol. Surely, you'd only see that tweet as being critical if you thought that searching for your own name and wading in was wrong. If you think it's okay then... well... it's just 'criminy'.

So I asked. And they didn't answer. They told me I'd slagged off Ricky and that I was motivated by jealousy... but when I asked them in what way it was a slagging off they sent more abuse but no context. So in my head I dismissed them as a troll and decided not to feed them.

But then I saw another of their exchanges... and this is when I started to suspect that maybe they weren't just a slightly unhinged, OTT Gervais fan at all and that this was actually someone creating a comedy of their own. It was this:

So... a fan posts a link to a clip featuring Liam Neeson and Ricky Gervais. (It's from Ricky's new sitcom and it is indeed brilliant.) And the comment seems to be par for the course for that kind of thing. It seems to me to be written from the point of view of a fan who expects Ricky to be funny - it's in his show after all - but is surprised by how good the serious-actor-stepping-out-of-his-comfort-zone is.

In fact it's exactly the sort of thing a Ricky Gervais superfan would tweet. Except that MaximumGervais replied saying:

Because in their headspace it's disrespectful to point out that Neeson is brilliant and not mention that Ricky is too. The idiot! Duh! etc. etc.

All of a sudden that doesn't ring true. That seems like someone playing a character. So I started looking through their other posts too. Here's another where a fan of the show is told they're not a real fan because they only mentioned the one scene that had them crying with laughter:

I know there are all sorts of unhinged people out there - and that the internet is particularly good at incubating them - but after that I can't see how MaximumGervais is anything other than a situationist prank.

Especially when they also tweet:which came at the end of several tweets to their hero explaining why he should cut loose from his long term collaborator, Stephen Merchant. Compare and contrast it with the tweet from before about how every scene should make you cry with laughter. Unconditionally. Because that's what being a fan is. And anything else is not good enough.

By this stage I was starting to suspect that this was so much more than a spoof. This was high comic writing in its own right. Because it involves idolising someone/something while at the same time completely failing to get what it is that makes it work.

In fact, I suspect that they're really rather anti-Ricky. A lot of what Ricky does is about ego. And when people don't like him it's often because they're unsure where the line is between the performance and the reality. Some people think he's really just an overblown ego. Others think he's doing it for comic effect. Some like it either way. Some hate it either way.

But I think MaximumGervais is someone who hates it - and has created a character that is meant to be Ricky's ego broken free and wandering loose as an uncontrollable monster. I think it's a satire on Ricky's comic persona from the point of view of someone who doesn't buy it as a comic persona.

Do an image search for Ricky and tell me you think this is really the picture a genuine superfan would use to illustrate their account:

See that Ricky has apologised for his use of the word mong having accepted that - while it wasn't his intention to use it that way - he understood that the word is still used to denigrate disabled people and then see that MaximumGervais has a twitter biography that still says, "no mongs allowed."

Then see the various posts in which he tells Ricky he's wrong to apologise for it:
There were lots of others. And then finally, the tweet where he inexplicably decides that Ricky's apology wasn't sincere and was just an in-joke:
Can you imagine anything more calculated to annoy Ricky? A superfan who completely misses the point of him? A representation of an ego gone mad designed to tell someone he doesn't like that their ego's gone mad.

I like Ricky. And now I'm convinced that MaximumGervais is a character-act, I kind of like them too. And I think Ricky probably would do too. It's a parody of a parody that he doesn't think is a parody. It's the most meta- of meta-jokes. What could be more Gervaisian than that?

Tour Snaps Continue...

Hello Dublin!

Hello Birmingham!

Hello Oxford!

Hello York!

Hello Middlesbrough!

Only thirteen gigs left now... Bristol tonight. High Wycombe on Sunday, then Tunbridge Wells, Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, London, Coventry, Carlisle, Preston, Perth and Belfast. Details here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Well this is getting silly now...

Having only just got my head around the idea of someone pulling a muscle at the Guildford show (see my previous post) I was surprised this morning to see the following tweet about the Birmingham show.

I was curious. How do you accidentally headbutt someone in a theatre? I assumed he meant it was some kind of reaching-across-the-bar-during-the-interval accident rather than a during-the-show-and-sitting-in-your-seat kind of thing... so I asked. And this was the answer:

Another person hurting themselves in one of the shows. I was getting worried. But luckily, someone else has been in touch to tell me of the show's healing powers:

So y'know... it's not all bad.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ecky Thump!

A man once died laughing at The Goodies.

I'll settle for causing a pulled muscle. At least that's what two folks on twitter are telling me happened in Guildford.

Is it true? Does anyone know the woman in question?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hello Guildford!

Hello Bournemouth!

where, incidentally, the backstage speakers must have been installed by a Spinal Tap fan:

Dublin next... and then Birmingham, Oxford, York, Middlesbrough and more...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hello Milton Keynes!

Hello Milton Keynes!

I had no idea how controversial this series of photos was going to be. It started out as an idle way of announcing my presence to people on twitter. I wasn't intending to do it for every town on the tour... but after having done a few, people started tweeting me to say that they were looking forward to seeing what picture I tweeted from their town and so on. So I've felt a teeny obligation to keep it up.

When I posted my Dorking picture - it's of a statue that stands outside the venue - loads of people got in touch to say that they were disappointed it wasn't a picture of the giant metal cock(erel) that stands on a nearby roundabout. Apparently that would have been "more Dorking".

And when I posted the picture from Brighton again there were people telling me that it wasn't "Brighton enough" for them... they wanted it to be a picture of a pier or something else more iconic and Brightonian... when in truth they're just pictures of things I see - rather than things I go out of my way to find. If the day is a rush the picture will be of something I pass on my walk from the train station to the venue... there isn't always time for a wander around town.

Still... as I walked from the station in Milton Keynes this was in my mind. I would try to give people what they want and find a picture of something more iconic and Miltony Keynesy. It was dusk. Camera phones don't operate well in dusk so the airportesque architecture was out of the question. But the walk took me through the shopping centre where the replica concrete cows reside... hence the photo.

A few yards away the fantastic Waterstones book shop (I've done a couple of lovely readings there) had a huge model of a cow on display too. They were selling miniature replica concrete cows alongside a selection of I Love MK t-shirts. Like it or lump it, the concrete cows are a symbol of Milton Keynes. Just the job.

I posted the photo. The usual flurry of return "Hellos" came from happy locals... but one man was less than happy about it. I won't reveal his username because that always encourages people to run off and get involved and that can quickly become a form of bullying for which there is no need. Besides, my reaction was to laugh.

Because in return for me posting the innocuous picture of a concrete cow that you see above, one person replied as follows:
Or rather, as unfollows. I love the idea that someone loves Milton Keynes so much that they assume everyone else is mocking it constantly. To decide that a picture of a concrete cow is automatically a slight on that great city is... um... well, a touch over-sensitive, no? (If he'd read my latest book, he'd know that I really like Milton Keynes and devoted quite a few paragraphs to eulogising the place).

But even if I had tweeted some dastardly insult to the place, the reaction would surely still be over the top. The people who tweet that they are unfollowing always make me giggle. It's the same pomposity that fuels what I do with the Found Poetry... it's sort of supposes that I am on twitter for the sole purpose of amassing followers, that I crave the indulgence of that particular individual and that I will be upset when they decide to leave. It's easy to follow someone and easy to unfollow them too. You just click a button. There's no ticket price. Announcing that you're unfollowing is like slamming a door as you leave... only on twitter it's a revolving door and they don't slam very well.

I explained to them that I like Milton Keynes and that I found it ridiculously pompous of them to behave that way. It seems to me that when Outraged-Of-Milton-Keynes decides to announce his outrage at an insult-that-doesn't-exist all it proves, really, is that Outraged-of-Milton-Keynes is a bit of an oversensitive numpty. And anyone who tells someone that didn't ask them to follow them that they're unfollowing them just seems overblown on self-importance.

He then tweeted,
Which surprised me because I can't see the positive viewpoint in that first tweet. I don't think calling someone a "massive twat" is a really positive thing to do. It seems a bit aggressive to me. Even if it's motivated by a love for his home town the assumption that a picture of that home town is automatically an insult is, well... a little negative, really.

There's something about the idea that it was 'public' too that I find odd. As if his tweets to me aren't public but mine to him are. I didn't try to shame him at all... and I didn't criticise him for being positive. I criticised him for his lack of manners. And pomposity. I mean, really, if you think it's okay to call someone a massive twat in public... you kind of have to expect them to respond. Especially when you're motivation for the name-calling is so... um... non-existent.

Still, it provided light relief in the dressing room last night.

But my life it's put the pressure on for my visit to Guildford tonight... will I take a photo? Will it offend people? Gulp. Let's see.