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Tuesday 20th October 2020

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Into the plague pit of London today to do my first live RHLSTP since I spoke to Aisling Bea and some guy from a 70s comedy show back in March.
Within ten minutes of arriving a schoolboy (actually in the school playground) had offered to sell me crack. I don’t know if it was a joke. I laughed anyway as it seemed unlikely that this slightly chubby 13 year old would have hard drugs in his satchel and even more unlikely that this very chubby 53 year old would want to smoke some. I didn’t report them to the teacher standing outside the gates. It’s good to see entrepreneurship in one so young.
But yes, I was back in London.
We were doing the 300th RHLSTP at The Bill Murray pub, a fantastic enterprise which will be the second recipient of cash from our snooker kickstarter. I was to be the guest, interviewed by John Robins and we were placed behind a large perspex screen. Was that there to stop us spreading Coronavirus or to prevent the 20 RHLSTP super fans from flinging their gametes towards us? Probably both.
It was an afternoon show and a couple of the audience were in revolt because there was no beer on sale (and who wants to watch RHLSTP sober?) The interview passed quickly though I think we did around 80 minutes. We then did a bonus 30 minutes which will only be available to people who donate to Refuge (plus monthly badgers) with new Emergency Questions suggested by listeners.
The main ep will go out for free on 4th November, but you should be able to download the full thing at the end of the week if you are prepared to donate some money to charity. If you’ve enjoyed the 300 (really well over 400) interviews, and can spare some cash, please do take advantage of this early bird offer.
Anyway it was fun to be back in front of an audience and only briefly weird to be sitting stage right. I was more the real Richard Herring than the character I think and we had robust discussions about masculinity, PC comedy, double act ructions and stone clearing. But lots of silly stuff about stopping time and penises too. Thanks to John who did a great job and Barry and everyone at The Bill Murray for making this happen, Tom from Show and Tell, Chris Evans (not that one) and the dedicated band of supporters who risked illness and death to see it.
It was the eve of my wife’s birthday and I arrived home in time for cake and champagne. Then we watched Airplane for the first time in many years for me. It’s a film that I loved as a teenager, both for its comedy and its flashes of nudity. I must have first watched it about 40 years ago (as that’s how old this film is) and could still remember the delighted reaction of my friends to specific jokes, as well as huge chunks of dialogue. I was also haunted by the weird feeling of knowing that the horny teenage me, starved on sexy images in a pre-internet era where porn was only available in bushes in the woods, pausing any part of this film that had even vaguely salacious content.  So as much as I enjoyed the comedic mastery (it doesn’t all stand up, but there’s so many jokes in it that it doesn’t really matter) it was also fodder for other imaginings. And it’s utterly charming that something so tame could be titillating. The word titillating is actually more titillating than this film and that’s a testament to the horniness of adolescence.
Leslie Nielsen was at the height of his powers, playing it straight and thus adding so much to the lines. I don’t think the “I am serious and don’t call me Shirley” line would be such a classic in anyone else’s hands. It’s supreme delivery. Even better is the “stop calling me Shirley” line which is delivered on an exit, with back turned, obscured by another actor, but still just the right level of mild annoyance. In later films Nielsen would go for the laughs, but it would never be as funny as playing stupidity straight.
I was shocked to discover that Leslie Nielsen was only one year older than me when this film came out (so probably the same age as me when he filmed it) and also surprised to see Mike from Breaking Bad in there. Although in some ways the film feels more recent than it is, it sort of feels impossible that a modern day actor could still be in it. 
It’s also fun to watch these bits of the film that it is (surprisingly largely) copied off.

Stone clearing Chapter 80 went up this morning.


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