Saturday, May 27, 2006
The second Genius recording was a somewhat less exhausting affair. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time in the excellent company of guest, Chris Addison.
There was still oddness... one of the people who was pitching a potentially genius idea on the show called at about 5.30 to say that he wasn't going to come. This is very late notice on the day of the recording and quite an inconvenience... after all, we plan the show around the ideas and with an idea missing, some of those plans are wasted. He claimed to be too busy but I suspect it was really nerves brought on by the prospect of speaking in public.
He was persuaded to turn up eventually and he wasn't too busy to hang around for quite some time at the end of the night. He definitely enjoyed it and was happy to have done the show - so far I'm pretty sure that everyone who's taken part in the show has done. It's one of the things that I enjoy most about the recordings.
The pitchers turn up and are inevitably a little nervous... but the audience are always completely on their side and part way through reading the idea out they give them a laugh or a round of applause and you can see the pitcher's shoulders relax and their confidence grow. They always walk away from it confident and buzzing.
Odder still was the weather... and the way it entered the theatre. The day was marked by huge downpours and there wasn't a problem during any of the time we spent setting the show up so there was no way of predicting it would happen. Part way through the recording rain started to drip down into the venue. To begin with it was a couple of drops but by the end of the evening it was no longer dripping, it was pouring in. It was a little distracting but we were lucky it fell where it did as it all fell at the front of the stage between our desks and the audience ... and more importantly, away from the electrics.
We're back at The Cochrane for another recording later in the run. I hope they fix it before then. Or that it's a dry day. The next recording is back at The Shaw theatre on Tuesday.
London to Brighton by bike. Total sponsorship so far: £7307.17.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
We recorded the first in the new series of Genius yesterday with Johnny Vegas as my guest. This morning the show's producer (Simon Genius) called me and said, "I can't wait to see what you say about last night's show on your website." There was mischief in his voice when he said it. He was saying it because he knows that the show was... well, more unusual than normal. It lasted two and a half hours for a start. At some point it has to be cut down to 30 minutes... hopefully in a way that keeps the unusual nature of it intact.
I don't think I can adequately describe what it was like to host the show last night. If it was easy to describe I suppose Simon wouldn't be telling me that he can't wait to see what I say about it. Which I suppose is the best way of illustrating how odd it was. It was so odd that people who were there are mischievously anticipating reading this description of it.
London to Brighton by bike. Total sponsorship so far: £7185.37.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
The ebay auction I mentioned on May 1st that was raising money for Amnesty International ended today. I'm delighted to say that someone was prepared to shell out £310 for the photo of me. I think this has more to do with the skilful craft of top comedy snapper, Rich Hardcastle than it does me, but however it was raised, Amnesty is a great cause and you've got to be happy that they now have an extra few quid. Unless you're running an authoritarian regime and were fancying some human-rights-abuses in which case it might be a bit annoying.
I also mentioned in my last entry that I had recorded three segments for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart when I was last in New York and that one of them had been held back for use in a future show. Well, I received an e-mail earlier to tell me that it's in tonight's show. Of course, the tonight they were talking about was the American tonight. The show is broadcast the next day here in the UK. So, if you're in the US, my segment is in the show tonight (8th) on Comedy Central and if you're in the UK I'm on the show tomorrow night (9th) on More4.
If you live elsewhere I'm sure the clip will pretty soon be online alongside the other two here.
London to Brighton by bike. Total sponsorship so far: £6430.84.
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
I don't think I've ever come closer to missing a flight. I had a car booked for 6.30am. I had an alarm call scheduled for 6am. My bags were packed. Surely nothing could go wrong.
Cut to 7am when the phone goes and the hotel receptionist tells me that there's a driver waiting for me. Why I didn't get an alarm at 6 (okay, it's possible that I did and didn't hear it... but only in an alternative universe where I'm an unusually heavy sleeper prone to half hour periods of hearing loss) and why nobody called me at 6.30 when the car arrived I don't know. What I do know is that my flight was meant to be boarding at 7.45 and being in a Manhattan hotel room 45 minutes before you're meant to be strolling on to a plane at JFK isn't a very good idea.
I leapt out of bed, dressed hurriedly, brushed my teeth (why?) and then ran. I offered the driver another $50 if I got there in time. He earned his tip.
On the way into the airport there are signs telling you which terminal you need. I was flying on American Airlines. I'd told the driver this information and that it was an international flight. The signs tell you that AA fly out of Terminals 8 and 9. 8 is for international flights (except flights to London). 9 is for domestic flights (and flights to London). I spotted this tricksy detail on the way in and the driver duly delivered me to Terminal 9. Where I was told that my flight was leaving from Terminal 8.
"But the sign says 'domestic flights and flights to London'", I said, more interested in getting on to a flight than into a fight.
"Oh yeah," said the genuinely helpful member of staff. "But the morning flight goes from 8. Sorry about that. You need to go downstairs, take a right and run."
They took my bag amongst a lot of confusing, "Will his case make it? Ask them? They're not answering? Just send it" talk and I turned and ran. Through security - shoes off, laptop out, laptop in, shoes on - run and then to the gate. At precisely 7.45. We didn't board until 8. Even so, a close call.
I was mighty relieved at Heathrow to see my case trundling out on the conveyor belt too.
Given the work schedule required to make The Daily Show it's amazing that the journey home provided the most frantic part of my week. It was an amazing and hugely enjoyable week. I hope I'll be going back. I recorded three segments in total - two based on the idea of statistical analysis which is the real reason I'm contributing to the show and one that only really happened because I was there with my English accent on the Queen's birthday. Two were broadcast at the time and one is in the bank for use in a future show. You can see video clips of the two broadcast segments on the Comedy Central website here.
Now... housekeeping: tickets for the Genius recordings are now available. We're recording shows on the 19th, 24th and 30th of May and the 5th, 8th and 12th of June. You can get free tickets for the shows here. Of course, had you been on my mailing list you'd already have known that.
Now, a return to a theme of recent postings on this increasingly bloggy news page of mine; ebay naughtiness. It's been brought to my attention that someone has been selling tickets to see Genius on ebay. They're free tickets but someone has managed to sell a pair for £8.49. Looking through the seller's ID and it becomes clear that they've made a fair few quid recently selling free tickets to TV and radio recordings. I expect it's entirely legal - but that doesn't change the fact that the world would be a happier, friendlier place without it happening. I'd certainly be happier if the people who were bidding for these items just worked out how to get the free tickets in the first place.
Talking of ebay... there are a series of large and unique prints of comedians for sale on ebay at the moment raising money for Amnesty International. The photos were all taken by Rich Hardcastle who has a deserved reputation for being the best portrait photographer in comedyland. They're big, printed on lovely arty paper and signed by the comedians in question. Oh... and they're unique. Anyway... my portrait is amongs them... it's the picture that I've barbarised for the top of this page. Only big. And unique. On great paper. And signed. It's for Amnesty. It's here.
Talking of charitable deeds. The bike ride is getting closer. Total raised so far: a staggering £6140.10. Go on... make it even more staggering.
What's this? Two books about American politics in a row? Yup. I think last year I spent more time in America than I did the UK so I suppose it's only natural that I find myself interested in the politics of the place.
In America this was published under the name What's The Matter With Kansas? but I guess someone from the UK publishers thought that wouldn't sell as well over here. But both titles make sense because while Frank is writing about Kansas he's using it as a paradigm for America on the whole. This book is Frank's attempt to explain how those on the Republican side of US politics use a moral agenda (that they fail to deliver) to persuade blue-collar Americans to vote against their own financial interests. The suggestion being that poor, working class Americans vote for a party that serves the interests of the rich and the powerful because of arguments about faith, abortion, gay marriage and the perceived attack on good old fashioned family values. My attempt to precis what it's about does it a disservice so I'll stop now. I guess your opinion on this book will depend on your political views to some extent but it's well written and passionate and I enjoyed it a great deal.