I've been trying to book my final guest for this run of RHLSTP and had quite an interesting possibility that I've been trying to secure for the last few days. It had looked like it was all going through fine, though even though he is a new star he was the only one whose management insisted on release forms and contracts. Fair enough - I am glad they are protecting him properly, but given Stephen Fry just walked in off the street (a bit late) and never asked for any reassurances about anything it has felt a bit odd to have to go through this for a newer star. But there are extenuating circumstances and I didn't mind.
The act's PR person got in touch this evening to ask me how PR was handled for the podcast. I explained that there was no PR for the show and that although journalists could buy a ticket if they wished that we actively tried to discourage them from coming (the week after the Stephen Fry podcast I asked the audience to look out for anyone taking notes and break their pencil). It was quite cathartic to let a PR person know that it's possible to get a podcast on the international news without them. I am not anti-PR people as such. They have their place. It just so happens that place is burning in Hell.
I'm joking. I do use PR for lots of my stuff and am still at the level where it is necessary for me to sell tickets and though sometimes their methods can be underhand a good PR can be protective of an act as well as help them become better known.
But it must have been odd for him that I was telling him that I would not be offering assistance to the press to publicise my podcast and that if anything I would attempt to make their job more difficult. I am hopeful that this podcast can flourish and grow through word of mouth rather than PR spin (I am not by any means saying I won't do interviews or articles about it - I just want that to happen organically). And it would be great if it could be funded by the people who listen to it, rather than me having to take out some kind of sponsorship deal (again, not totally averse to that as long as the sponsor exerts no editorial control - I just think it would be awesome if this belonged to the people who make it and listen to it and if it lives or dies by that maxim).
Anyway, I don't know if my attitude was seen as weird or unhelpful, or whether the management were seeing this as a good PR opportunity that I was now pissing on, but a few hours later they got in touch with me to say that the act was no longer available. Which was a shame after I'd spent three days trying to put together release forms and contracts (having no idea what these things had to contain). I hope I do get to interview the act another time, but luckily Sean Hughes as stepped into the breach and he will be joining Isy Suttie on the final podcasts of the series on Monday. Book here if you want to see them live
- as always your attendance keeps the project alive.
I had my best preview yet and though I still haven't got the right structure and lots of bits are just thoughts rather than jokes, it's coming together fast. Paul "The Putt" Putner came along and had some useful things to say afterwards (as well as slightly drunkenly repeatedly asking me, "What's your motivation for this show?" and then refusing to listen to any of my answers and then saying, "Yes, but what's your motivation?" After ten minutes of this he did make me really consider my motivation). I had written a new bit during the afternoon, which really worked despite me worrying that it might be a bit "in". But the truth is that it's so in that it goes all the way round and goes outside again. And it was the first gig where I felt comfortable to chat about ideas without really having any idea where I was going with them and that led to some new stuff too.
I'd really hoped to be off script by the first big gig (at the Udderbelly on the Southbank on the 3rd July), though that seems unlikely. I've had to cancel (or had cancelled by others) about five previews. But Edinburgh is the real goal and I am sure I can have something interesting together by then.
I felt excited about the show after tonight and had to turn the bedside lamp on twice after we'd gone to bed (me and my wife, not me and Paul Putner - I couldn't take him asking me what my motivation for sleeping with him was) and write down new thoughts that were occurring to me. As annoying as it is not to be able to sleep, I do love that (increasingly rare) feeling where you can't sleep for your own whirring brain. In July I have nothing much else on to take my focus away from this new show and I am determined to make it something special. A few days ago I was fearing (as usual) that this might be the year that the ideas just dried up, but I think I am going to have way too much material as always. Book ahead Fringe-goers
(apparently it's selling well).