Oh man, should have stopped at 5555. Now I’ve got to do another 1110 after this one. Boooooo.
A rare bit of telly for me today saw me returning to the London Studios where we recorded Time Gentlemen Please, 16 and 17 years ago. Whilst Lee and Herring, which only came to an end a year or so before that, does feel like ancient history, somehow TGP seems much more recent. I have been back to these studios a few times for other work, but some of the memories of that crazy sitcom are incredibly fresh.
And just like every other building that has held any significance in my career, this one is about to knocked down or rearranged or sold off to developers. Langham Place where we wrote for the radio is gone, BBC TV Centre where we did Fist of Fun and the first series of TMWRNJ is now flats for twats, The Riverside studio where we did lots of previews and TMWRNJ series 2 has been destroyed (though will return in some unrecognisable form), even the Battersea Arts Centre tried to burn itself down. Someone up there is trying to erase my history and then, when they have succeeded they are coming to erase me. If this blog starts disappearing letter by letter in front of your eyes, then you will know it is my time.
My main stint at the London studios came just before I started this blog and so you missed the high-octane adventures of the insane and heavy drinking cast (not that I would probably have written about it at the time), but during that time I became one of the first people to discover that Nasty Nick has left the Big Brother house, as I was standing behind Davina McCall in the cafe queue when she got the call. Everyone was so obsessed with Big Brother that year and the evil that was the minor gamesmanship of a man trying to win a reality show and this was a bombshell. I don’t know if I asked Davina what had happened or if she just turned round and told me (she would not have known who I was), but that’s where I was in the line of command. Maybe twenty people in the country knew at that time.
What fun we had in this building. I still can’t really write about it now. It’s also where I did one of my first ever TV jobs when Stew and me briefly wrote for Michael Barrymore….
That was maybe 1993. I suspect this will be my last visit.
I was doing my 8 minutes of stand up for the Matt Forde show and was delighted that I was going to be allowed to use the autocue. I had been trying to learn my stuff (the second half was relatively easy as it was mainly an old routine) but it was much easier to not have to worry about that. TV presenters have it pretty easy, often not even having to write their own scripts, just turning up to read someone else’s jokes, but I remain unfashionably old-school and believe a comedian should write his or her own stuff. Impractical of course, if you’re a proper TV celeb. When would you get time to write it?
The rehearsal went well. The safety net of the autocue meant I could concentrate on the performance. And I got some laughs from the crew, which is usually a good sign.
There was lots of sitting around, of course, but also a dressing room with drinks and snacks in it. Oh, I had forgotten what it was like being on telly. Free Haribo! Which to be fair I also got on AIOTM cos Dan Tetsell would bring it in.
I was feeling nostalgic for that old job and for the career I might have had. But back then I took all this for granted. I appreciate the good fortune of even getting an annual TV job. Though when was the last time I did stand up on TV? However long ago it was, I am way better at stand up now. Why am I not on TV more?
But then I think of the reams of brilliant stand ups that I have encountered who have never had a sniff at telly and I again feel lucky rather than hard done by.
I think the set went well. It’s on the extended version of Unspun on Wednesday at 11pm on Dave. It may not be my ticket back to the big time. Mainly because I’d have had to have experienced the big time at least once for that to make sense. But you never know with this job. One job just has to impress the right person… and I always thought that with my high turn over of material and stupid work ethic and ability to read an autocue I’d be a good choice for a topical satire show. Not that I’m angling for Matt’s position. He’s doing a great job on this show.
It really made me feel that I should put a bit more effort into my RHLSTP opening monologue, which is always an improvised last minute thing, where I might vaguely think about funny things that have occurred to me and try to riff on them. I wrote the new five minutes of this routine in a couple of hours. And though I don’t have an autocue at the Leicester Square Theatre (the one we tried for Meaning of Life was not great) I could always just read it off a piece of paper. It’s the same thing. Just more honest.
I doubt I will find the time to be that fastidious, but it might be good for my tours if I gave RHLSTP viewers some indication of how funny I am with a bit more than minimal effort. We’ll see. I will continue to squander my opportunities.
I was really tired out today and fell asleep in the car on the way in (I wasn’t driving) and would have done on the way home, but I was sweating and feeling sick because I needed a wee so badly after chugging one beer after my set. Maybe I am just not quite showbiz enough. And not quite a Time Gentlemen Please level of drunken debauchery.