Getting back home after RHLSTP tonight it was very odd to not have Smithers around. Usually we had to shut the pets in the kitchen because Smithers would prowl the house miaowing his miaow that sounded like a baby in pain and jumping on the bed. But now the kitchen door was open as Wolfie can be trusted to not make a fuss unless there is a burglar to eat. It still doesn’t feel quite real, but I think the absence of a stupid cat is starting to make itself known.
I’d headed into London early, just in case the train strike had led to lots of traffic, but it was an easy drive in and central London was quiet. Good for the journey, not so good for attracting a big crowd tonight, but the dozen people who made their way in were an excellent crowd.
Both guests have elected to release their comedy specials for free on YouTube, which I think is a very good idea. They are both excellent shows and deserve to be seen, but also I think it will bring new fans to their live work. Now that DVDs have joined VHS and gramophone records in the unsellable section of charity shops, for anyone unable to get a multi-million pound Netflix deal, I think this is the way to go. Most streaming services might give an averagely successful comedian a few hundred pounds for a special, that hardly anyone would see. But Seann Walsh has had over 100,000 views for his excellent show Kiss
. It’s an honest look at his monumental fall from grace, which could almost be a Greek myth in terms of someone snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. He’s been in a dark place as a result of his own selfishness and stupidity, but let he who is without sin clear the first stone. He’s come out of it all a better person and a more interesting comedian. It’s a morality play for our age, but it’s as much about our hypocritical need to judge others and the effect that has on the person we’re judging. He never makes himself the victim though or begs for our sympathy. In the podcast he told me about meeting the journalist who had broken the story, which I found extraordinary. It’s worth listening to this one (out in about 4 weeks I think).
And Bilal’s Cakes is an absolutely brilliant example of an hour long show (and it deservedly got him a comedy prize nomination for best newcomer). Check it out here
. Bilal is a great stand up and an inventive comedian who is, like many comics, frustrated about how slowly his career is progressing. I am certain he will get his break, though hopefully it won’t compromise his vision. His Twitch stuff is ace
and I loved appearing in his When Murderers Kill series
, which has not had the attention it deserves. But that’s the story of most comedians’ lives. And as Seann shows, sometimes attention is not the best thing and it’s easy for today’s comedians to be heading blindly towards their future with no real idea what they’re aiming for. He still thinks people should go on Strictly, but I am not going to because I would definitely try and kiss everyone involved.
These are two terrific stand ups and it’s one of the pleasures of this podcast that it’s quite selfless in supporting other comedians (most of them!), even those with podcasts, rather than seeing them as competition. I talked a little bit about this with Seann after the show and it made me realise that I have a sense of fairness about that side of things. If someone is good or even (as impossible as it sounds) better than me, I want people to know about them. And I want to be in an industry where the playing field is level. What’s the joy in being a success if things are made easier for you? If I have a project that does well I’d like it to be because I’ve done it well, not because things are skewed to white, middle-aged men (though let’s face it- we’re the most oppressed minority in the world these days, am I right. Especially the millionaire ones). I don’t understand why anyone would want anything different. Unless they knew they were shit and couldn’t cope with the competition. But weirdly the kind of blokes who make the most fuss are the ones who seem confident they are brilliant!
Our tiny crowd were fantastic - I actually forgot that it wasn’t packed full because the response was so good. Two very different podcasts, but both worth a listen when they come out in three or four months.
Another big name announced for Edinburgh RHLSTP - it's friend of the podcast John Robins on 9th August. Buy tickets here.