Monday, September 30, 2013

Scott Free

This contains spoilers for episode two of Modern Life Is Goodish so if you haven't seen it yet this won't make a lot of sense. Why not go and watch it and come back later?

It won't be repeated again during this run, but it will be on the Dave website for one more day. (Each show disappears from the On Demand service on Tuesday night when the next one is broadcast)

Anyway... I thought I'd write this because I've received a few hundred messages since episode two went out that all relate to the same thing
This, for example:

... and also this...
So it makes sense to me to try and add a bit of clarity.

Basically, a lot of people want to know about my "lookalike". A lot of people have seen that "he" is still on the Susan Scott lookalike agency website and then assumed that means Susan Scott and her staff still don't realise and haven't seen the show.

It seems only fair to them to clear that up.

The production team only found out what was really going on about an hour or two before the recording. At which point, everyone was in a bit of a headspin as they dealt with the fact that the show wasn't going to end in the way they had planned. But there wasn't any time for anger because everyone's focus was all about what we were going to do instead. (From my point of view it wasn't a big concern because seeing their confusion unravel as they realised that what they'd been planning as a surprise for me was actually even more weird and surprising for them was just making me laugh.)

The next day I got a bit of a telling off. But only a bit because we all knew that what had happened was better than what they'd been expecting to happen.

It was a day or two later that I got in touch with the people at Susan Scott Lookalikes. I called to explain and apologise. And I sent them some flowers. And they were brilliant about it. They took the whole thing in good grace - it was only a gentle ribbing after all - and, as I explained in the show, they didn't actually put a foot wrong. They did everything right. It wasn't as if anyone was playing a trick on them.

They really have been absolutely fantastic about the whole thing. And they've left "Martin A" on the site, not out of ignorance, but because they think it's a funny thing to do.

I gather also that a lot of people have contacted them and asked about booking Martin A. The truth is that if a booking had come in before the show had been broadcast I probably would have done it. Because being my own lookalike for punters who didn't know it was me would have made me laugh. But of course that didn't happen because of course there is no market for a me-lookalike. That would be preposterous.

But, now that the show's been broadcast, and the only people who are going to try and book him know that he's me... and they're contacting an agent who knows that it's me and, of course, I know that it's me too (I'm clever like that) there's not really anything to be gained by going through with it.

So despite his presence on the site, you'll find that Martin A has suddenly become strangely unavailable. After all, I can't afford to undercut myself by that much.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Getting Straight To The (Power) Point

So... this is a thing. The dates aren't until next year. I know! I suppose I could have toured this year but only with material from the new TV series and I don't think it's on to charge money for tickets to see something you can see free on the box. A tour should contain new stuff.

So, with a few other commitments to look out for, 2014 it is.

The tickets are available for pre-sale from See Tickets except for the Dublin show - those are available through

I've already been answering questions on Twitter so I hope it won't seem presumptuous to try and head a couple off at the pass.
1: I don't book venues, they book me. If I'm not playing near you, it's not because I chose to avoid you!
2: That said, there were a couple of venues that wanted the show, but they also wanted to charge the public extortionate booking fees, so I passed.
3: If you can see a venue on the list but it's not showing up on the See Tickets link, check back in an hour or two... I think some of the venue's box offices are taking a  bit longer than planned to make the arrangements with See.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Modern Life Is Surprising

So episode two of the series airs tonight... and there's something in the show that illustrates a point I've been wanting to make for a while about how we made it that answers some of the questions I've been asked a lot in the last week.

If you've read a previous blog about my last tour you'll know that what I do - which involves a lot of found media (screen grabs from websites, magazines, newspapers etc etc) - creates a legal challenge when it comes to filming things. A few people have asked me why we've been able to include certain material in the show given that it would have been impossible to put it in a DVD.

It's complicated, but in essence, with a DVD, if someone wanted to argue the toss legally over me showing something it's possible to end up in a situation where we'd have to pulp all copies of the DVD and delay release until the dispute had been settled and that means that - even if we won a dispute (which we would do) - it would be too costly...

Anyway... I think it's worth saying that the channel (and the production company) have been brilliantly robust about these kind of issues and taken a far more common-sense approach than I've experienced in the past elsewhere.

One of the things that is often frustrating with TV is the idea that they have a process that can be applied to other things. When a comic builds a live show, they do it by going out and trying out material in front of real audiences. People try out new ideas in low(er) pressure gigs where the audience knows that that's the deal. They do preview shows in smaller venues and at cheaper ticket prices while they hone stuff. And all being well, by the time they're on tour with their name above the door so to speak, the show all works. Because it's been engineered that way.

Too often there is an attitude in TV that they can replace that honing process with a series of meetings. That having a round table script discussion with producers and lawyers will help to hone material in the same way that performing it to an audience will. It's nonsensical to me. I like collaborating, I'm not arguing that they should cede everything to control-freak performers, just that micro-managing the details by committee isn't a very helpful way to work. Not for me, anyway.

It's why with this series we did a load of live previews before the recordings. We were trying to do our editing before the taping, not afterwards. I always dislike watching shows that feel like they were made in the edit suite. It meant that we never had a paper script for the show... I don't want to learn a script, I want to see how the words fall out the first time I try to express the idea in front of an audience and then try again tomorrow if it falls out wrong. I find learning a script impedes the part of the brain that is meant to be engaging with the idea and it starts to sound like a recording.

But lawyers like to have scripts. They like to know precisely what is going to be said and are reluctant to offer an opinion about it until they do. And they are always reluctant to offer an opinion anyway. A constant refrain from the making of this series was:
Lawyer: What exactly are you going to say?
Me: I don't know yet. But tell me what exactly I can't say?
Lawyer: It doesn't work like that.

But we got through it.
The material in tonight's episode was previewed in Fareham and in Windsor. So if you came to one of those shows, you saw a rough version of most of what's in the show.

Apart from one bit. One teeny, weeny... but hugely significant bit.

There's one thing in tonight's show which I couldn't discuss on stage in Fareham and in Windsor because it hadn't happened yet. Or at least it hadn't played out. I was keeping a secret from the production team... who thought they were keeping a secret from me. The truth only came out about an hour before the recording.

It couldn't have panned out the way it did if we'd had lawyers demanding scripts in advance. Weirdly, it's the fact that they accepted the idea of honing the stuff live - and without a paper trail of words for them to stay on top of - that meant tonight's show was able to contain the surprise it does.

I've tried to be oblique and spoiler free... but I hope you can catch the show. 10pm. Tonight. On Dave.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Your Mailing List Questions Asked...

Apologies that what follows is a blog post about some boring admin... but I've received a few emails and tweets from people who are concerned that they signed up to the mailing list and haven't yet received an email... and I find it easier to post an explanation here and then point people at it than to try and explain all this in a series of individual replies. If it doesn't apply to you... feel free to move along!

An email was sent out in the early hours of Monday morning so if you're on my mailing list you should have one. If you're on the list and one appears not to have arrived, the first thing I'd recommend would be to check your junk folder. There are about 11,000 people on the mailing list and some servers assume that any email sent to that many people must be spam and treat it accordingly.If it is in your junk folder, I'd suggest putting the domain on a safe list - so that it doesn't get treated as junk in future.

If you're in any doubt as to whether you're on the list or not, here's a way of finding out:

Join - or leave - the mailing list here:
Enter your name and email address below:
Subscribe Unsubscribe

If you put your email address in here and hit subscribe, your browser should do one of two things. If it recognises your address as already being on the list it will take you to the home page of my website. If it's a new address, it will take you to a page that looks like this:

The double opt in is my way of guaranteeing I can't be accused of sending spam. Only people who get the email and click on the link will then get the mail outs. If at any time you want to unsubscribe, you can just as easily do so in the same way. I can see that in the last week for example, 150 people have tried to subscribe but then not clicked on the link to confirm it. Of course this might be because they decided against it by the time the email came through, or because they entered an incorrect address in the first place or - more likely - it's because the double-opt-in email has been sent to their junk folder and so they simply don't realise that the email has turned up.

I can only send the emails out. I can't do much to influence whether or not your email server recognises it as legit... but you can. If you're on the list but you haven't received the email... then take a look in the junk folder and try adding the domain to a safe list. I promise, I never spam.

That said... if you do want to buy some printer ink get in touch, maybe I can do you a deal.

Oh... and, as well as asking a question about the show as a way of running a Gorscreen competition... the email was also a reminder that episode two of Modern Life Is Goodish goes out tomorrow - Tuesday - at 10pm. So, y'know... there's that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Do you want a GORSCREEN?

So, the series launched last night and I've been completely blown away by how positive the reaction has been. Thanks everyone. If you didn't catch the show and want to, there's a repeat at 10.40 tonight (Wednesday) and another on Saturday night at 11. And I think it can be viewed on demand on the Dave website for a few days too.

If you haven't seen it, I don't think there's anything that will be spoiled by showing you this picture from the show, featuring the, er... GORSCREEN.

I mentioned on Twitter last night that the props department had given me the GORSCREEN frame after the show and that I might give it away in a competition if people were interested... and some people do seem to be. So I guess I ought to work out a way of doing so.

Sometimes when I see someone running a competition on Twitter (RT this/use this hashtag/that sort of thing) I think it can be a way of encouraging people to spam their followers by filling their timeline with things and I definitely don't want to do that. Nor do I want to do anything that people might mistake for that. And besides, I don't want to exclude people who might follow me on facebook but not on Twitter... or for that matter anyone who does neither of the above.

I also have to think of a way of actually picking a winner. So what I've arrived at is this: a competition for members of my mailing list.

On Monday, I'll email my mailing list a question about episode two in the series.
There'll be a special email address you can send the answers to. On Friday I'll pick a random email from amongst all the right answers. And then I'll send them the GORSCREEN frame. (To be really clear... it's a wooden frame that has a space where you can mount an ipad. Or at least that's what we hung in it. I don't own an ipad. So it really is just the frame. But, y'know... it's quite nicely made!)

Hey, as it's a competition I suppose I ought to have some terms and conditions. Ha ha. Here we go:
To enter the competition, you have to be on my mailing list. I don't want that to put people off. I promise I don't send out loads of emails. I only really use it to let people know when I've got new things happening and I don't store the addresses on my own computer or anything like that. Realistically, I'd rather a prop from the show went to someone who was interested in what I'm doing next than someone who just saw a retweet from their mate one afternoon and sent a reply. That said, it's easy to join and just as easy to leave too. I won't even know you've done it. You can subscribe - or unsubscribe - on this page of my website.

Only one entry per person.
Let's not be silly.

If you think you've signed up to the mailing list but the email with the question doesn't turn up... I can't be held responsible for it. I will send the email. Check your spam folder. Did you confirm your subscription? etc etc etc. If an email address bounces back to the list a few times it can end up being deleted from the list also.

Er... well, that should do it. Y'know, allowing for common sense and all that. If you think I've missed anything out, leave a comment on the blog and I'll try and keep on top of it all. (Oo... oo... I know. These terms and conditions are subject to change etc etc etc... they always say that, don't they?)

I really am hugely chuffed by the response to the show, and I hope people will enjoy the other five shows too. If there are other props, objects, souvenirs or what have you that I can think of from those shows... maybe I'll do this again with other, um, prizes.

Big thanks to everyone who tweeted, facebooked and emailed kind words. You're lovely you are.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This Isn't A Humble Brag

... it's a brag brag.

I don't really understand the idea that you'd make a show and then not want people to watch it or coolly not mention it and just hope that people find out about it somehow.

This was in The Times yesterday... on Tuesday's TV page.

I expect the first line will be used as a pull quote.

That said, it occurs to me that you could have those two qualities in equal measure by having none of either as well, but I don't think that's what he means.

At least I hope it isn't.

Have I mentioned the show's on Dave at 10pm on Tuesday?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Answering The Tattoo Question That I'm Asked Daily...

I hadn't really worked out what Vine was for before now... but this seemed as good a way to use it as anything else...

Pssst: the sound toggles on/off in the top left hand corner

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Passing Messages On Is Important

This is one of the trails for my new series that are currently being shown on Dave and other UKTV channels. There are four in total - well, more if you count the short and long versions - but there are four set ups. I can always tell when one's gone out because I get a few tweets from people. So far they've all been lovely and it's especially pleasing when someone's been caught out for a second and thought they were watching a real ad.

But, while I'm obviously keen to pass on the message that the series starts on Tuesday, September 17th, that's not the message I'm referring to in the title of this post.

Before we filmed these, there were various meetings in which the details were finalised. There was one script for this trail where it described the model as being "in a bikini". I always feel uncomfortable watching comics do "ironic" things that involve "totty". There has to be a really good justification for someone being a state of undress or it just looks like an old man has come up with a feeble excuse to hang around with someone youthful and nearly naked. So I said as much, and everyone agreed that a towel would be more appropriate. If anything it accentuates the difference between the glamour of the close up shot used for the "ad" and the prosaic reality you see when I've, um, "interrupted".

So the script was changed. And that's the message that should have been passed on. Because someone, somewhere had the job of casting these ads. And they had to meet various, young actresses. And they were still working from a script that involved an actress in a bikini. Because nobody had passed on the message. If you're casting someone for a gig that involves wearing a bikini, it makes sense that you have to see them in their bikini. Or their underwear. Or whatever. And so, apparently, that's what happened. With various potential-shampoo-ad-models.

I wasn't there. I've never even met the person responsible for the casting. But the women involved must be thinking he was a right old perv. Especially, Ashleigh who got the gig. Imagine doing a casting where you're asked to strip down to your skimpies, getting the gig and then discovering that it was completely unnecessary and not required for the part!

My apologies to all concerned. The casting director wasn't a perv. Or at least, if he is it's a coincidence. It's just that the message didn't get passed on.