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Sunday 23rd June 2013

Unlike AIOTM (aiotm) the preparation day for RHLSTP (rhlstp) is quite relaxing and a lot of fun. I caught up with some of Edgar Wright's early work on Youtube. I was unaware of the 1996 show Asylum scripted by Edgar and David Walliams and notably being the first collaboration between him, Simon Pegg and Jessica (Stevenson) Hynes. You can certainly see that it's put together by someone who gives a toss (unlike some of the satellite output of the 90s) and has great directorial flourishes, but it's also clearly someone's attempt to put together loads of disparate stand-up in a non-club setting with Adam Bloom and Paul Tonkinson and Adam Bloom doing bits of their set and Paul Morocco playing guitar and spitting ping-pong balls. Julian Barratt and Norman Lovett are used in ways that are more integral to the plot. It's definitely worth a look and I am surprised that I have never heard of it before.
It was made by Paramount (I believe) which had a team of young executives and performers who went on to amazing success. Stewart and me would do "Festival of Fun" for them in the late 90s (a Montreal clips package interlaced with interviews and double act banter), but we totally failed to use the opportunity to get on board with the producers, directors and executives that would shape much UK film and TV comedy for the next decade and a half. Networking was never my skill.
I also had a look at Edgar's first feature, A Fistful of Fingers which he put together on a £15,000 budget as a 20 year old. It's flawed but still massively impressive showing the scope of this young man's ambition and drive. It does show that if you get on and do stuff yourself (and you know what you're doing) that you will make your own success.
I think it's going to be a top interview, although I do intend to talk to him only about the rivalry between Wookey Hole (where he once worked) and the superior Cheddar Gorge.
And RHLSTP is already starting to pay for itself, in the massive fees you get for appearing on BBC Radio - tonight I recorded an episode of John Lloyd's Museum of Curiosity, which I think we can assume I got invited on to after the interview I did with him two weeks ago. It's not QI, but it'll have to do!
What a delightful and fascinating programme this is (and one that I think might benefit from an extended podcast release - two hours of material is recorded for the 27 minute show and it's pretty much all gold!). At times I was so enjoying listening to the others talking that I almost forgot that I was meant to be taking part. It was a wide-ranging discussion taking in ants on stilts, pianists with crippling, mechanical little fingers, the changing meridian and okapi sex (can you guess what I contributed?). The show has a dedicated team of nerds behind it who have dug out amazing facts and I love the way it has a panel comprising of comedians, scientists and experts and attempts to link each contribution to similar areas of the different disciplines. While most TV panel shows (including to some extent even QI) gravitate to putting in the same well-known comedy faces, you get a lot more interesting stuff by mixing it up a bit. The zoologist, Dr Christofer Clemente, came up with the funniest lines of the show. But would they book him on Mock The Week?
It's intelligent and stimulating programming that is increasingly being edged out of TV and even radio, leaving a gaping open goal for independent internet productions to score in. I discussed this with one of the razor-minded team after the show. The TV companies insist on getting big names into all shows, which takes up all the budget and seems to ignore the fact that the pool of possible contributors gets smaller and more boring.
But glad that a few shows designed to expand the mind rather than crush the spirit still exist.

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