Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bush Telegraph

With so much going on in the world, if you want people to know you're going on tour, you need to be creative. People don't notice posters as they walk down the street. Their eyes flit straight past the ads you place in the papers at great expense. You need to find new ways of putting the information in front of them.

For this tour, I had a cunning plan.

I put in a call to Kate Bush.
"Kate," I said, "it's been a while since your last live gig hasn't it?"
"Thirty five years," she replied.
"Really! That long! Blimey. You should get back out there. Do some more."
"Well, I've thought about it Dave," said Kate Bush, katebushily, "but I always get so bored before a show. I just don't know what to do with myself."
"Oh, we all get that," I said, trying to jolly her into it.
There was a pause.
"Is it true that you have a dartboard that straps on to the back of a door?" she asked.
"Yes," I said. I could hear her resistance breaking down.
"And is it true that when you're on tour, you take it with you and play darts for an hour before the shows?"
"Uh huh."
"Um... can I borrow it?"
"Of course you can!" I said. "Do you want to borrow some darts as well?"
"Don't be daft," she squeaked. "I've got my own arrers!"

So that was part one of my plan accomplished. Persuade Kate Bush to go back to live performance.

I knew she'd choose the Apollo in Hammersmith, the scene of her last gig in 1979. That was crucial. Because that's also one of the venues on my tour.

And of course I knew there'd be a huge amount of attention given over to Kate Bush performing again. Her tickets would go in a flash. Her first night would be a huge event. The world would talk about little else for one day. There would be TV cameras outside the venue, interviewing punters before and after.

I just needed to make sure the electronic billboards outside the venue were timed right. They were. Here I am on the BBC website:

It was clearly seen by a lot of people on various reports. Tweets started arriving about it last night and have continued this morning. As you can see, it was on the box at 8.11 am:

and again at 8.33:

I couldn't afford to buy that kind of exposure. Mission accomplished. Thanks Kate.

If only my plans to get B*witched to promote my book launch had gone as well...

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I took a trip up to Edinburgh for the Book Festival on Friday - and my first book-reading for the new book. I'd forgotten how much I like doing book readings. It was great fun. I'm glad I had the opportunity to pop up to Edinburgh during the festival, however briefly. Some strings had to be pulled to make it happen, seeing as the book isn't actually published yet. If you bought a copy in Edinburgh... well, it's like you're time travelling when you read it. You're in the future. It's like it's September 4th, already. Imagine that!

Some nice people who know what they're doing with computers have made this tour of the front cover as a trail for the book...

... the phrase "pre-order" is lightly mocked at one point in the book (I'm pretty sure the word "order" covers it) but you can't fight the tide - so if you want to, um, pre-order it... you can do so here.

Oh... and if you fancy it, you can come along to Battersea Arts Centre for the book launch event on the 4th September

Friday, August 15, 2014

The disorganised stuff has been organised...

As I wrote yesterday, it's been a bit complicated putting things together when three separate projects are all landing at about the same time. Which is why details on events have been confirmed at different times... and things have been making it here (and to my website) bit by bit.

But I think I now have all the various elements in place. So here they are. And because there are four different types of event going on, I've tried to make it as clear as possible what's what.

There are Screen Guild Shows, book readings, signings and work-in-progress gigs... and of course, come October 3rd, I start a 50 date tour...

What Where Whatsits
August 20th Screen Guild Hackney Picture House This is the gig I set up to allow me to try out new material and play with ideas. Four ace comics, introduced by me. More details.Tickets
August 22nd Book Reading Edinburgh Edinburgh Book Festival. Sold Out. But you can check for returns. The book is called Too Much Information (or Can Everyone Just Shut Up For A Moment, Some Of Us Are Trying To Think)
August 28th Screen Guild Hackney Picture House I might be refining the material I try out on the 20th. I might be doing completely new stuff. It might be a mixture of the two. The guests will be different. More details. Tickets
September 4th Book Launch Battersea Arts Centre A night to launch my new book. I'll be reading a few bits, explaining what it's all about and doing a Q&A. I love doing these events. The ticket price includes a copy of the book. Tickets.
September 10th Book Reading Newcastle, Mining Institute (for Waterstones) I'll be reading a few bits from the book, explaining what it's all about and doing a Q&A. I love doing these events. Details (Should be live from Aug 16)
September 11th Book Signing York, Waterstones From 12.30, I'll be in Waterstones, York to sign books and have a chat. Come along. And have a chat.  
September 11th Book Reading Leeds, Waterstones I'll be reading a few bits from the book, explaining what it's all about and doing a Q&A. I love doing these events. Tickets.
September 16th & 17th Work In Progress New Greenham Arts Centre Two shows in an intimate setting to help me put the pieces together and make things hang together as a show. Kind of.  Tickets
September 21st & 22nd Work In Progress Braintree Arts Centre Two more shows to allow me to shuffle the pack.  Tickets
September 23rd & 24th Work In Progress Andover,
The Lights
I've done a few tour warm ups in this venue... always a great place to play.   Tickets
September 29th & 30th Work In Progress Wolverhampton, The Slade Rooms More tour previews Tickets
October 1st Work In Progress Tring, The Court Theatre And finally... Tickets
... and then the tour kicks off on October 3rd...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Post Contains Too Much Information

I sometimes get the impression that people expect my life to be more organised than it really is. Some people seem to imagine that in my profession there must be a scheming agent working out a series of five-year plans on my behalf. Or behind my back. The truth is that - like burglary - it's all much more opportunistic than that.

With live work I have a degree of control. With everything else it depends on someone else giving me an opportunity. Offers come and go. You try to apply judgement as to what is and what isn't a good idea. And so on and so on.

My new book comes out in September. The new series starts in September too. And the tour kicks off at the start of October. That looks like some kind of masterplan is in place, where all the pieces slot together in some kind of perfect storm of mutually beneficial publicity. But it's not. It's a coincidence.

I'd agreed to write the book before the first series was commissioned. I just couldn't start work on it until the series was done and dusted. And the tour was planned before the series had been recommissioned. It's force of circumstances that means they're all coming in to land at the same time, not masterful puppetry on the part of my controllers.

In some ways it adds complications to things. The publishing company, the broadcaster and the promoter are all different entities. They all work on their project and it means things are hitting my diary in haphazard ways.

I really like doing book-readings and normally, when I have a new book out, I try to do as many as possible. I'd normally do a dozen or more in the first couple of weeks. Because they're fun. But this time round, because the tour is imminent there simply aren't that many free dates to play with.

I'm going to be doing a pre-publication event at the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 22nd (although I think that one's sold out already).

The official publication day is September 4th and I'll be doing a launch event that night at Battersea Arts Centre. (Tickets are £20, which includes a copy of the book).

On September 10th I'll be heading to Newcastle for an event at Waterstones and on the 11th I'll be doing a lunchtime signing in York before an evening event in Leeds. The details for all three of those should be here.

And in non-book related news, I have another couple of tour warm-up shows to announce. On September 16th and 17th I'll be doing work-in-progress shows at New Greenham Arts near Newbury. (Expect it to be a bit rough and ready. And, y'know, fun.)

There'll be a few more tour warm-ups to announce soon.

They'd all be announced at the same time if things were a bit more planned.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Passing the baton... to myself.

We finished taping the second series of Modern Life Is Goodish a week ago. I probably should have mentioned it before now. But it's been so all-consuming a project that I've sort of forgotten how to do everything else.

It really was all-consuming. This was the first World Cup since I was a teenager that has passed me by completely. Didn't watch a single game. Got it all on my Sky+ box obviously so will be catching up with England's inevitable triumph soon. No spoilers.

If you came to any of the dry-runs for the series - to Worthing, Canterbury, Fareham or Maidenhead - then thank you. You helped to make the show a really enjoyable process for me. Not writing things down. Not having endless meetings with people trying to second-guess what they think an audience will like, and letting the story-telling elements develop organically through the process of, um, telling-the-stories is a far more enjoyable way to work and I think we get something much more genuine out the other end as a result. (It's a collaborative show, lots of people bring all sorts of talents to bear, but I dread the idea that it would ever feel like it was made by committee.)

Of course, now that it's over it's time to look to the next challenge. The tour. The tour kicks off in October, but as with the series, I don't want to sit around on my tod, second-guessing what will work best. I want to try stuff out.

So I'm reviving the Screen Guild for two more shows. These are mixed bills of comedy that I curate and introduce. I only book great acts. That guarantees that the audience has a good time. And as I host the shows, I get to try out any new ideas I might have knocking around. As with the last season, the shows are at The Hackney Picture House (they have to be close to home as I can't make 800 powerpoint slides while on a train) and will be on August 20th and 28th.
You can get tickets here.

(I might do the same stuff both times. I might not. It depends on how much I can squeeze into a show and whether things need polishing or changing. That's the point, I suppose... if I knew exactly what I was going to do at each of these shows, there'd be no point doing these shows in the first place.)

In September I'll start doing some one-man shows as tour warm-ups. The details of which aren't finalised yet - but I'll be letting my mailing list know some time at the end of this week or the start of the next. And I'll blog the details too.