Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Fox's Sports Every year it happens... and every year it leaves me feeling confused.

People - rational people, many of them people whose opinions I value - start talking about the Sports Personality Of The Year.

They ask who you think will win it, they tell you who they think will win it... and all the while, the assumption seems to be that this-is-important. That the competition matters. That it is the prize that people crave.

And I don't get it. I don't think it's important and more than that, I don't understand how any sportsman or sportswoman could think it was important either. It seems to me to be the antithesis of what sport is really about.

Sportsmen and women compete. In events that have tangible outcomes. They strive to be the best at what they do. And when all is said and done, the outcome speaks for itself.

If you set out to be a great cyclist, then world records, gold medals and yellow jerseys are surely your ultimate goal. What could possibly be more meaningful to Bradley Wiggins than winning the Tour de France? That's the proof that he was the best of the best in his chosen sport.

Sport isn't about being popular. It's about some combination of being the fastest, the strongest, the most accurate, having the best technique and/or the most tactically astute. It's about strength of will, determination and above all else, ability. It has nothing whatsoever to do with who we like.

Usain Bolt is a likeable character. But that would count for nothing on the global stage if he wasn't the world's fastest man. And if the world's fastest man just happened to be an out and out jerk that wouldn't matter either. We would admire his athleticism all the same.

I don't understand how anyone is supposed to compare the achievements of the twelve nominees - or indeed the achievements of those who could just have easily been nominated but weren't. It just seems ridiculous. And actually, just a tiny bit insulting. As if our opinion matters more than the sport itself.

Tennis players measure themselves against tennis players. Heptathletes measure themselves against heptathletes and swimmers competing in S6 events, measure themselves against other swimmers in S6 events. Anything else must surely be meaningless to them. Mustn't it?

Saying to those people, "I know you set out to achieve something huge and you succeeded, which is lovely... but now we're going to have a vote and let you know whether you were the best at being the best" makes us seem a bit full of ourselves doesn't it? Why on earth would they care? "Yep, being the best in the world at your chosen event is all well and good... but is it really good enough... we'll have a vote and get back to you." It's a bit cocky isn't it?

Maybe it's all just a bit of fun. In which case, can people stop talking and writing about it as if it was important. And when I say that I don't care who wins, can people stop saying, "but it's the Sports Personality of the Year!" as if I hadn't understood the question in the first place. I know it is. That's why I don't care.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Absolutely Final

Well that was an exhausting weekend.

I had the second of the current run of Screen Guild shows at Hoxton Hall on Saturday followed by the final show of my time at Absolute Radio on Sunday morning.

I love the Hoxton shows but there's nothing I do that's quite as nerve-wracking and/or time-consuming. It's always all new material - which means that I have no idea how it's going to go - and I start building the powerpoint for it at about 7am and finish, some 600-800 slides later at around 6pm... at which point it's time to head out to the venue.

The acts - Jay Foreman, James Acaster, Lucy Beaumont and Pete Firman - were all great - the line-ups are always strong - but the show didn't quite take off for me in the way the last one did. But overall it was a good night. And incredibly useful. Every bit of new material had legs. So nothing will get thrown away as useless, but all of it will need honing if it's to survive in the big bad world of stand up.

Which, I guess, is the point of these shows. 

It was followed by an early start and our final show from Absolute Radio. Which was difficult for completely different reasons. I blogged about the reasons a wee while ago so I won't retread the same ground now suffice to say I've loved working there and know I will miss it hugely. We wanted to avoid getting mawkish and overly-sentimental about it all so I hope the final show wasn't wallowing in it's final-show-ness.

Michael wasn't there this week - he had a show in Moscow - so I took on the angry mantle and did a Dave Gorman Isn't Michael Legge But Is Angry feature in his stead, while all the other regular features were in place with a final Ward's Weekly Word and a not-really-final Found Poem.

I say not-really-final because Found Poetry found its way into the last tour show, exist in cheap-and-cheerful pamphlet form, I regularly put one in the Hoxton shows and I did one on stage when I guested at the Horne Section recently.

I won't continue to put one together every week - I'm looking forward to not spending quite so much time wading through the insanity that is the bottom-half-of-the-internet - but I will still compile new ones from time to time because they provide a really useful change of tone and pace to a live show - so I'll keep them in the mix for future projects.

 There were two very different songs from home this week. The first is folky, the other all electronic. But both of them are fantastic and if the final show's music hadn't involved a ukulele and a stylophone something would have been amiss. This is Stand Up Show by Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell from the album, Kite.  

And this is The Robot Heart by Alto45 who describe what they do as "homemade pop music from three men in labcoats". You can find this track on the album, The Spectrum Sings.

I've added these two tunes to my Spotify playlist of (nearly) all the songs I've brought in from home this year. It's here... and the podcasts for the show - which contain all the talky content from the Sunday morning as well as loads of extras - should be here.

If you've listened to the shows - whether live or in podcast form - then we're proud that you chose to join us and appreciative of your company. We wanted to make the show not be about us - and we were always really proud of how smart and funny the audience would be. Thanks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Absolutely November 11th...

Two great songs-from-home this week - at least I hope you'll think so.

I can already hear some of the cynics amongst you dismissing my first choice. "When you've heard one French, pop-punk tune about greyhound racing," you're saying, "you might as well have heard them all." Maybe you're right. Maybe you're wrong. In any case, here's another. At least I think it's about greyhound racing... I mean, it is called Greyhound Racing so it probably mentions it somewhere. It's by Concrete Knives:

Concrete Knives - Greyhound Racing by Sky Walker_

When I read the blurb on this CD I was put off a bit. I don't know why the words, “...has recorded 9 albums in his bedroom in the last 4 years” would do that... I only know that they did.

I also know that when I put the CD in, I really, really liked what I heard.

The band are called Sheepy - they're a three-piece from Liverpool and they're the outlet for the obviously-very-prolific songwriting talent of Luke Jones. This track's called Another Day and it's ace:

  Sheepy - Another Day by Blang

I've added these two tunes to my Spotify playlist of (nearly) all the songs I've brought in from home this year. It's here... and the podcasts for the show - which contain all the talky content from the Sunday morning as well as loads of extras - should be here.

Of course it would be odd not to acknowledge that this morning was Michael's last show with us. It's a real shame that he's not available for next week's last hurrah... but that's just the way it's panned out.

I've thought of Michael as the show's unofficial lodger. When he first turned up I think he was only meant to be doing a couple of weeks... but everyone liked him being there so much we all just carried on. Which is surely the way these things should be.

And now we only have one more week left to go. I hope you can join us for it. 10 til 12. Sunday morning. Yeah?



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Y'know... like... if you're interested and stuff...

This is one of those blog posts that's only really of interest to some and might appear a bit presumptuous to others. Apologies if you're one of the others.

One of the comments I've had a lot since we announced the impending end of the radio show - there are still two more weeks that we hope you'll join us for - is "please tell us about whatever it is you're up to next?"

Which of course, I always try to. After all - there's little point in performing live, publishing books, making TV or radio shows and not telling people about their existence.

But one of the things that twitter makes very apparent is that it's incredibly easy to miss things. When I was on tour earlier this year I would tweet my tour dates. No matter how many times I did so I would always get tweets from people saying, "I wish I'd known you were coming to [wherever] I'd have come if I'd known." Twitter is a fast moving thing... you're either online at the time or you're not.

Anyway... a far more reliable way is to sign up to my mailing list. You can do so here:

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I can't add addresses personally... you have to do that yourself. It sends an email to the address in question with a link you click to confirm that you want in. That way I can't be accused of spamming people with stuff they haven't asked for.

I don't use it often. I only use it when there's something to say and of course I don't share your email address with anyone else. But it does mean you definitely get to hear about tour dates and stuff and when it comes to tickets for recordings etc - which are normally free - I always try and give the mailing list a day or two's notice first.

Anyway. It's there. Y'know... like... if you're interested and stuff...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Absolutely November 4th

If you listened to this morning's show then you'll already know that we're going to end our run on Absolute in a couple of weeks.

I'll explain more - not that there's really much more to explain - further down, but our attitude to the show is that it'll be business as usual for the final two weeks and it's business as usual here as well, so first of all I'll run through the show and the songs-from-home as per usual.

First up, was this track, Never Knew Your Name, from Madness's new album, Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da which came out on Monday.

The fact that Madness have returned, not just to reunion gigs but as a creative force turning out great new material is a source of great joy to me - and I feel very much the same about the return of Dexy's Midnight Runners - or Dexys as they're now known - whose latest incarnation has been a triumph.

We were thrilled to have two of the band - Jim Paterson and the amazing Kevin Rowland in the studio for an interview. Facinating, charming, funny men the pair of them and the new album, One Day I'm Going To Soar is a thing of magnificence.

Incapable Of Love is the latest single from the album... here it is:

And finally... a second tune from the band, Grouplove who were also on the show a few weeks ago. This is Tongue Tied.

Of course the hardest link of this morning's show was the one where we broke the news that the run was going to come to an end in two weeks' time. It's difficult to pitch that kind of thing in the right way because we know that all sorts of different people are listening in all sorts of different ways. If we act as though it's a tragedy of some kind - which it isn't - we come across as self-regarding egotists of the highest order. The very thought makes me shudder. At the same time, it would be weird and kind of impolite to just not mention it.

I don't have a bad word to say about Absolute - it's been an amazing place to work. The last three years have been a blast and I know I'll miss it when it's gone. But it feels right to move on all the same. I don't know what will happen next... but then I've always enjoyed not-knowing what life has in store. I think a bit of uncertainty is good for a comic.

So the story is simply that there is no story... just a bunch of people deciding that it's time to bow out gracefully in order to see what new challenge will come along.

As it happens, Michael won't be available for our last show so next week - November 11th will be his last appearance... and the week after - November 18th - will be the last for me and Danielle. We don't want to get mawkish about things so it'll just be business as normal for our last couple of shows. It'll be more fun if more of you join us. After all, the show was never about us.

My Spotify playlist of (nearly) all the songs I've brought in from home this year can be found here... and the podcasts for the show - which contain all the talky content from the Sunday morning as well as loads of extras - should be here.