Friday, July 3, 2015

Sprint Finish

We're three quarters of the way through the recordings for series 3 of Modern Life Is Goodish. Two more shows to go.

Doing two shows in a night sure as hell makes it feel like it's whizzing by. We've turned out six hours of fresh stand-up in the last three months. Blimey. Now there's a sprint finish to get the final two sorted for the end of July.

I really enjoyed the last two shows. Especially the final week of preparation. That's because that final week mostly happens on stage and that's the fun bit. Doing a dry run on stage one night, re-writing it the next day and then doing it again and so on and so on is perhaps the most enjoyable part of this job.

You find out infinitely more about how to handle material by running it with real audiences than you ever could do by staring at it on the page or by any number of meetings etc. My way of not-staring-at-it-on-the-page is to, um... not put it on the page in the first place. I find scripting stuff in advance takes something away from the material. For me, it's almost always best to take an idea on stage, rather than some words. The words that fall out as you try and explain things to people are often better than whatever you would have written because you're not imagining an audience - you're there with them and can sense how much they've taken in, whether the first part of an idea has settled in the room or not etc. Writing stuff out in advance turns it into a test of memory rather than an exercise in communication. I want people to attend a show, not a rehearsal. I'm sure that watching a rough-around-the-edges show is better than watching a polished rehearsal.

Writing it down means you create something that feels like the "correct" version. Which is a very rigid way of dealing with something that hasn't yet been tested. I figure that if my focus is on saying it the right way that involves closing my mind to other possibilities that feel better in the moment.

Lawks, I'm navel gazing today. Sorry.
A few related bits and pieces.
1: We recorded two episodes of the show last Sunday. That's Sunday the 28th of June. These were our fifth and sixth shows of the run, although that's not necessarily the order in which they'll be shown. We start the recordings around 6.30pm, but the audience normally starts filing in at around 6 which means I have to have the final version of the powerpoint loaded on the laptop before then. I only mention this because last Sunday something happened at 5.24pm that changed the endings to one of the stories I was telling. So I was screen grabbing something and adding a couple of new slides to the presentation about five minutes before we opened the doors to the audience. This is why I love making the show in this way. It's home made. I make the powerpoints myself. There's no "sorry the graphics department have gone home" to deal with. And because we never lock in on a definitive it-must-be-like-this version of the show, we can make changes five minutes before the recording starts. It's much more exciting making TV like that. 

You'll notice I haven't said what it was that happened. That's because I don't want to post any spoilers for the series. I guarantee that when it's on the telly there'll be some people thinking, "I bet that didn't really happen on the day of the show" in part because people expect telly - not live telly, at any rate - to be planned out in advance and inflexible.  But it did. It really did.

2: As the series is nearing the end of production, that means I'm also nearing the end of this run of Screen Guild gigs - there's one more, next Friday at the Hackney Picture House - and three more dry runs for the series too. All of which are at Norden Farm, Maidenhead towards the end of the month.

3: I've been so busy on the series, I failed to notice that yesterday was publication day for the Too Much Information paperback. But it was.


Unknown said...

I got Too Much Information paperback for Xmas, so now seriously confused. I really wanted to see you at Cambridge Junction, but had no one to look after me

Dave Gorman said...

@Stella - the book was published last year in what is called a Trade Paperback. The new edition was published yesterday and is the, um, Paperback Paperback.

I don't know how or why the phrases Trade Paperback and Paperback are used... but that's what they're called.

The Trade Paperback is larger and a bit more expensive. I guess it's the halfway point between a regular paperback and a hardback. If it goes well, they bring out the regular old paperback a little way down the line. The paperback is smaller and cheaper. (And, in this instance, has fewer typos!)

Unknown said...

Was at the recording on Sunday with my family! Loved it, don't think I've ever laughed so much! Was awesome! Just can't wait for them to air now so I can watch them again :)

Andrew Collier said...

A trade paperback is not a paperback? Confusion! This sounds like it could be ideal material for an observational comedian who has an eye for the absurd things that the world decided to just accept. Anybody know where we could find one of those?

Unknown said...

When will season 3 air, I'm so excited for it.
Modern life is goodish is one of my favourite comedy shows.

Dave Gorman said...

@Andrew Collier: the problem with that is that the comedian would have to first of all explain what the publishing industry called a paperback and what it called a trade paperback and the audience wouldn't care because these are terms that they rarely if ever meet. It's more set up than punch. I find those things work better if whatever it is has been hiding in plain sight!

Dave Gorman said...

@Lewis Shedden: series 1 and 2 both started in mid September. I don't know if a firm decision has been reached for series 3 yet - until it's actually in the listings, things can always change - but I'd expect it to launch around the same time.

Dave Gorman said...

@Sarah Foulger: thanks!

Unknown said...

Cheers dave, looking forward to it. :)

Vortex Productions said...

I was at the recording: when the new slides have to be hurriedly loaded onto the laptop it's very believable. Not that it's the only thing that we believed that day...

Unknown said...

Dave if you have any influence over this could you do us a big favour and make sure your new series is again broadcast on Tuesdays? It's just we got used to seeing your face and saying "Ahh, we need to put the bins out tonight". It became almost Pavlovian and we've been at a bit of a loss since the last series ended.

Obviously we've done the obvious, setting a Google Calendar reminder, but if we keep using it I'm worried that sooner or later we'll start getting deluged with offers for discount bin bags every Wednesday morning.

Also it would be great if you could arrange not to appear on other nights, and also to delay transmission by a day following a Bank Holiday (two days following Christmas or Easter).

Thanks very much,

Sean and Joanne

p.s. I'm off to bring the bins in; last night's repeat really threw us.

Dave Gorman said...

@Sean Fowler: I'll do what I can*.

*I can't do anything.

Mosher said...

As a teacher I can *totally* get the "can't beat doing it in front of an audience" method of refining your material. I have some lessons that I do four times in a week. Back when I was training, we had to prepare everything - almost to-the-minute plans from the kids walking in and getting settled to the topic changes to tidy time to shepherding them out.

Now I just have note in the diary about what I need to cover and maybe some bullet points about things I have to make sure they understand. Sometimes I have some aids (video, activity, etc.). Buy beyond that, in all honesty I guess you could say I wing it.

Every class is different. You just *can't* plan to the minute in the same was as every audience will react differently to gags. And the intellectual exercise of on-the-fly adaptation ("they're not liking this - let's ditch it/use different words/speed up") is really enjoyable.

So, yeah. I could totally do your job ;)

Seriously, can't wait for season 3. I rarely laugh out loud (or LOL as the kids say) at TV shows these days. I binged through the first two seasons a couple of weeks ago and got genuine belly laugh from every episode. Thanks :)

Unknown said...

Oh well, thanks at least for not doing one of those asterisks without anything anywhere saying what the asterisk means. They're even worse than...