The final tour date with MJ Hibbett was recorded for his Totally Acoustic podcast and it’s now available. And it’s ace…
Swiped is a brilliant short film I’ve been working on recently. All I did was a little bit of executive producing – sipping flat whites and making a few suggestions – but the whole thing was written and directed by Steve Whiteley who did a fine job and pops up in it too…
And here’s the poster with credits – great cast and crew…
I’m having such a brilliant time on tour with MJ Hibbett, I thought I’d best write about it. Maybe the fact that he’s done a blog about every gig so far (actually nothing’s appeared about last night in Leicester yet but I’m sure it will and it was, to probably quote his forthcoming post… GRATE!) has spurred me on. Read his blog here.
I don’t think either of us were expecting much apart from a bunch of nice gigs playing to a few people in pubs and bars, but so far it’s been.. well it has sort of been that, but we’ve had more people than we expected and it’s been a huge amount of fun. Croydon was the first stop and we had a fine attentive crowd and it was brilliant to hear MJ’s songs again. In fact, he’s got so many, he’s been switching it up a lot and playing totally different sets which I am thoroughly appreciating. Not because I don’t want to hear any of the songs again but because it’s wonderful to hear different ones. They’re bloody good. I’m sticking to similar, though certainly not identical, sets as I have new songs I am keen to bust out at any cost. Last night in Leicester I chucked in a few different tunes which was fun, although I did forget the end to Ed Sheeran’s Number One. I think I got away with it, essentially by descending into a flurry of swearing which seemed to go down well.
I think this must have been particularly appreciated by Jan of PASALB (Plymouth Argyle Supporters Association London Branch) who has been to all three shows so far. That’s commitment. It’s been a joy to have a regular gig attendee although I am worried we may need to stage an intervention.
The Leicester audience was a gathering of delightful people. A couple said they’d decided to go for us over some better known names in the sense that they had actually heard of them. Maybe the lower price point was an incentive, but they said they were glad they chose to see us. And thus, we won the Leicester Comedy Festival. Also, Sue was a French teacher – something that was revealed in the middle of her impressive Henri Le Chauffeur de Camion Amoureux translation efforts.
Camberwell at The Joiners last Sunday was a total joy. I’ve been playing the open mic there a lot recently and it’s a lovely room run by lovely people, so I’m glad we managed to fill it as a load of MJ fans turned out and the gentle pressure I applied on all my SE5 friends and acquaintances seemed to work. We had a blast. As MJ mentions in his blog we have different styles but they do compliment each other which is definitely making for great shows.
Next up it’s Sheffield, then Manchester followed by Bristol (at my friends’ Maria and Noel’s brewery which will be extra fun because they do incredible beer) and finally back to the home of MJ’s Totally Acoustic gigs which I’ve enjoyed playing at and attending on many occasions, The King & Queen in Fitzrovia where excellent beer is also available (but not as good as Maria and Noel’s unless we can persuade them to get some New Bristol beers on tap there…)
Come along to one of the shows. Now we are nearly half way through, I can absolutely 100% guarantee fun. All the details are here.
Here I am sat at my messy desk/studio previewing some tunes that will be coming your way soon. I had a lot of help with this from my good friend Attlee Common who appears at the end (courtesy of his sole agent, Jane Common) If you don’t already, it would be lovely if you’d like my Facebook page and sign up to the mailing list for updates. Thanks. x
… won’t be interesting enough to stay on tour, thankfully. Except the gigs, which will be 100% guaranteed mayhem.
In the new year of 2019 I am playing a few shows around the country with the brilliant MJ Hibbett with whom I have gigged many times and who is delightful company on and off stage. We’re calling the tour ‘No Headliner’ to make it clear we are absolutely equal as humans and also so we can finish early, have a drink and a chat after the gig before going to bed at a sensible hour. Let’s Rock.
We shall be adding a couple of London dates to the tour and I’ll update details for tickets etc. as they come in, but for now here’s the dates…
Sunday 17th February 2019: The Joiners Arms, Camberwell, London
Wednesday 20 February: The Globe, Leicester (part of the Comedy Festival and tickets are already on sale here)
Thursday 28 February: The Green Room, Sheffield
Thursday 7 March: Gullivers, Manchester
Thursday 14 March: New Bristol Brewery, Bristol
Here’s the pic we put together hastily for the Leicester Comedy Festival programme which illustrates how serious we both are about creating absolute mayhem on stage…
Look forward to seeing each and every one of you at one of these places.
I am in the charts, the Contemporary Musical Comedy chart. This means I am a fully-fledged, living, breathing person who is making musical comedy right now in contemporary times. It’s lovely to be included alongside a load of very good people who are on the radio and television…
‘It’s not what you know, but who you know and who you can bullshit.’
Is this the mantra that has launched me into the stratospheric position I occupy now? Yes. If you follow my advice, you too could be nominated for a regional Royal Television Society award and, eventually, even win one. Actually, Absolutely Fine, the online series I produced with Tom Rosenthal for Comedy Central has just been nominated for a Broadcast Digital Award . Things are on the up.
I’ve never really liked the ‘it’s not what you know’ line because it doesn’t reflect the work someone put in to make those contacts and get themselves noticed. Sure, there are a few people who are so well connected they’d have to vomit on the shoes of every significant person they met to fail, but for most of us creating those connections is all part of the journey. Don’t stop believing etc.
But this blog is not about that, it’s about bullshit. How far should you twist the truth in a career situation? There are times when I’ve claimed to have more knowledge or skills than I really did. I never exactly lied, but maybe I was a little economical with the truth. Or generous with the ever so slightly inaccurate.
You have to tread the line of credibility so you don’t come across like a bullshitter — and I have met a few — knowing that, if offered the job, you can do it. Otherwise your bullshit will land you in the shit which will then splatter upwards hitting a fan revolving at high speed and you’ll have a big load of shitty egg on your face as well as being sat in a big, miserable pile of it. An absolute shitfest. And that’s not what I want for you.
There’s one moment that sticks out for me at a crucial, or it seemed it at the time, point in my career. I decided to leave the bright, seaside lights of Plymouth, where I’d been working as a Researcher then Assistant Producer (AP) at Two Four on seminal productions such as Westcountry TV’s short-lived Mad About Shopping1 and BBC One’s short-lived daytime show What Would You Do?2 and head for the bright, smoggy lights of London to work on Living TV’s highbrow, yet cruelly short-lived, offering Relationship SOS. What do you mean, you haven’t seen it?
Relationship SOS was a studio show featuring people with personal issues who were given advice by a panel of experts. We’d then see how the advice worked by filming the participants at home or an appropriate location before they later returned to the studio to discuss how it had worked.
I had to apply for the job first, of course, and being just a young boy from the Westcountry trying to make his way in the big smoke was a bit daunted — it’s kinda Dick Whittington meets a budget Nathan Barley. So, when I was invited to an interview for an AP role, I was incredibly excited.
At the interview I discovered the producers needed people with DV (Digital Video) skills — the ability to shoot these VT inserts3 as well find and book the participants. Now, while I had picked up and played with a camera and been on plenty of shoots watching directors and camera operators work, I’d never really shot or directed anything. In the interview one of the producers said something like, ‘Your DV skills will come in very handy.’ In my head I was thinking, ‘Er, what DV skills?’ But, desperate to make my mark in low budget daytime television, I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’
Amazingly, I got the job; a three month contract in London. I was convinced I’d be found out within seconds and ignominiously shoved on the next train from Paddington back to Plymouth with my tail between my over-stretched legs. In a bid to prevent that humiliation, I borrowed a camera and sound gear (as I’d have to be doing both), took advice from anyone I knew who’d ever shot or directed anything and practiced. I had one weekend to gain those much vaunted ‘DV skills.’
Somewhere in my disorganised archives, there’s a funny picture of me holding a camera but I couldn’t find it, so here’s a pic of me about the same age looking ridiculous with a cocktail and sporting ineffective facial hair…
In the end you’ll be relieved to know, dear reader, that it all turned out okay. I mean, the show was absolute bobbins but somehow I managed to scrape through. By throwing myself into it and doing as much preparation as I could, the unravelling was averted. In fact, and this is a bit trumpet-blowy (while being entirely aware that I wasn’t quite following in the path of Spielberg), the producers told me I’d made the best VTs across the series. My fear of coming a cropper in the big city abated. Bravo’s Future Fighting Machines, Channel 4’s Bare & Breakfast and of course Channel 5’s Shaving Ryan’s Privates4 all lay ahead on my glittering career path…
So, yes, bullshit to your hearts content. As long as you’re prepared to put in the work needed to get away with it.
By the way, this is part one of a series of two blogs about bullshit. The next will be about why you shouldn’t bullshit for anyone else…
1 I made a pitch for the theme tune… ‘We’re just hopping / BONKERS / mad about shopping.’ Sadly, it was not picked up but I’m suing Dizzee Rascal as he clearly stole the idea. Can’t remember what the chosen theme was, but mine would definitely have been better and turned the show into a massive ratings hit.
2 Theme tune pitch (sing to a jaunty melody) ‘Ooh, ooh, I’m in a stew / What Would You Do-ooooh?’
3 VT stands for Video Tape and is still used to describe short filmed items that are then played into a studio show – such as news reports, ‘sideways looks’ at something or other on The One Show or cringeworthy attempts at topical comedy on The Daily Politics.
4 That one’s not on my CV and I can’t quite remember if that was the title, but I definitely went to Naples (well, an industrial estate in a Naples suburb) to shoot footage for the programme, a one-off ‘documentary’ about pornographic remakes of Hollywood blockbusters. I was filming behind the scenes of a remake of Cleopatra, cue shot after shot of hilarious items obscuring intimate parts. Oh dear. It was, naturally, a huge ratings success.
In between my professional dabbling in television and my semi-amateur dabbling in musical comedy I occasionally dabble in a bit of semi-professional journalism. Here’s my latest effort for The Daily Star Sunday on my time in Kyoto. Yes, you did read that correctly…
Hello! I recently got my acoustic guitar repaired (the electrics were in bits) and set up (I have no idea how to look after my guitars) by a nearby expert John Procter. Should have got it sorted ages ago, but delighted that I now have a guitar that is much easier to play and sounding great.
To celebrate I’ve busted out a bit of a new tune. I’m working on some to release later this year and they are mostly slightly wonky love songs. The usual nonsense….
Thanks and if you aren’t following me on Spotify then please do – there’s loads of tunes on there many of which have been properly recorded rather than knocked up in this mess of an office/studio/junkyard.