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Sunday 3rd February 2013

The chair seems sturdy so far. In fact it's very comfortable. I can't believe I persisted with my other one for so long - it was awful. I think I might have had it for 15 years now. No wonder I've got no work done. The only response I've had about the telescope is that it protects you from getting caught up in the mechanism when you're adjusting the seat height. If so I can live with the risk.
I know that I don't really do enough podcasting and I apologise for that, so today I worked on the opening episode of a new one. From now to the end of the tour I am going to attempt a weekly "Talking Cock" podcast. Obviously part of the impetus behind this is to publicise the tour, but I also realised what a wealth of material I have on this subject and how little of it I can use in the show and as you know I always have an eye on DVD extras. So I am hoping that I can create a nice archive of audio and video stuff that will fulfill all my needs. And as always it will be plonked up on the British Comedy Guide and iTunes for free. Today's introductory episode was just me talking, reading some stuff from the book, doing a couple of routines that have not yet made it to the show and reading out some of the unused answers from the questionnaire, but if I can work out how to edit stuff together (or can persuade one of my friendly neighbourhood nerds to do that for me) then I might well add in interviews and bits from the show and whatever I fancy in future episodes. I am quite excited about it. I don't know why I didn't think of doing something similar for other shows (though this one does have a lot more surplus stuff than my other tours).
A lot of comedians complain about what a closed shop TV is these days - you have to be with a big management company or a friend of Stewart Lee's to get on (though I am both of those things and it doesn't seem to be working out for me, so maybe it's not that simple) - but unless you want to appeal to a mass-demographic and fill stadia then TV is becoming less relevant. We have the means of our own production in our hands now and can broadcast what we want whenever we want. This might be a mild inconvenience for those who like to blame everyone but themselves for their lack of a break or point to nepotism and public school boy cartels. But if you can borrow a computer and a video camera and can be bothered to put in the work and don't expect immediate financial reward then there's a level playing field out there, with no agents or commissioners or cliques). Personally I have found that as long as you work reasonably hard at it and are producing stuff that a few thousand people want to hear then the financial reward will come - somehow I am currently making a better living from comedy than I ever have despite giving away a massive proportion of my work for nothing and generating nearly all my jobs myself.
And I think there's scope to go bigger on this. We're thinking about filming the Leicester Square Theatre Podcasts (which will be back for six weeks from the end of May), but I am also thinking about putting together a monthly themed stand-up show that will be filmed and edited and then possibly sold on-line for a small download fee. It won't have swooping crane shots or be filmed at the Hammersmith Apollo (yet) and might be a little rough and ready, but the costs of production (by my reckoning) should be covered by the admission ticket and even if they're not, what the hey? Obviously that will require more work from me - writing at least half an hour of stand up a month and getting it up to performance standard. But it's what I would do on TV if TV wasn't so prejudiced against white, middle-class, Oxbridge graduates with the backing of one of the big agencies. And I can do it on my own terms, without having to deal with compliance or executives worrying about demographics. It will be harder to do than any of my other podcasts because it takes time to write a script and it might be tricky giving up that time for free. But fuck it. It's worth a punt. If it stalls and fails after one episode then at least I tried.
Maybe if you are just starting out you might find it hard to get an audience or attention for something like this, but that's not a bad thing. It's taken me 25 years of pretty much constant work to cultivate the small following that I have. That's how it used to be before TV. You'd work your way up and get better at what you did and then be in a position to do something more adventurous.
The wonderful thing about the internet as opposed to TV is that if you can get 10,000 people really interested in what you're doing then you have a successful show and a viable career. If you want to make millions and be on panel shows then it might not be the way forward, But if you're interested in being a comedian and producing the comedy that you want to do then you can get started right away. No excuses. No conspiracy theories. Get on with it.
Anyway much of this is still pie in the sky, but the Talking Cock podcast is definitely happening, though it might take a few days for all the wheels to grind into motion (it takes a little time to set up a new podcast on iTunes). The Herring model of business is to earn each new customer one at a time, so if you like this stuff and appreciate that it's free all I ask is that you pass on the news to a friend who you think might like it too. Obviously if you buy a tour ticket or a DVD then that will fuel this cock-obsessed comedy machine (and of course allow you to see what I hope are entertaining and well-constructed shows).
I plan to bring the whole edifice of TV and the corruption therein down from the outside. But I am happy to accept jobs on panel shows in the mean time and hope the BBC will commission my sitcom.
In truth I think it's likely there will be a future where the impact and importance of TV lessens and is forced to change and where more artists will have control over what they do. I still don't understand why any of the comedian/writers who can make hundreds of thousands a pounds a year from touring even bother taking their ideas to TV stations any more. Make it yourself, sell it yourself. Make all the money.

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My new stand up show, Lord of the Dance Settee will be touring from October 2014 to May 2015 All details here.
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