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Monday 5th December 2011

Two great pieces of news back from the homeland - oh how I miss it, I wonder how it will have changed when I finally return - Fist of Fun is now in stock exclusively from gofasterstripe.com. If you've preordered you might have already received it, but if you haven't order now and thanks to the super efficiency of Chris Evans (not that one) you'll have it by Friday (probably before). It's packed with extras - just the pdfs on disc 4 are amazing enough for me - and it's 4 discs of goodness. I hope you will buy it to justify our maverick decision to buy it from the BBC and put it out ourselves!
And even better news is that the Me1 Vs Me2 Snooker Podcast is now available on iTunes or via The British Comedy Guide website. I cannot tell you how happy it made me to see this ridiculous venture up on iTunes. It is so rubbish that it genuinely goes all the way round past infinity and becomes the highest possible artistic achievement possible to mankind. I am unbelievably proud of it, even after listening to it for the first time tonight and realising just how appalling it was. It speaks of the human condition and the pointlessness and beauty of existence and of the line betwixt sanity and insanity. You have to hear it. I don't think I could feel happier - even at my own wedding or birth of my first child. I was crying with laughter at some of the comments I was getting from people unable to believe my audacity. @DavidCallaghan came in with the first comment that made me cry which was "Listening to @Herring1967's Snooker Podcast, he has just said about Me1 'I'm not sure if he meant to do that', he's finally gone mad."
The podcast was unscripted and totally improvised and I was so in character that I don't think I even realised how funny that statement was. But it was also great to hear me genuinely tripping over TV stands and falling on to sofas and having to negotiate ironing boards. Plus having little to no idea of the proper snooker vernacular or ability to explain what was going on. I don't think it can ever be as good as this again, but I am genuinely going to keep doing it. It's an exercise in annoyance and in the staying power of the audience. Some of you will get bored quickly, others will stick with it for a while, you will all become bored by it. But to the select view with the persistence to keep listening it will become very, very funny again, but only after months and maybe years. It's limitations and repetitions are its genius. Some of you will understand, some of you won't. Some will call the ones who understand as crazy as the 44 year old man who is doing it. But don't listen to them. They are the insane ones.
I laughed even more as the stupid podcast jumped into the top 10 iTunes podcast and slowly rose to the number one slot throughout the day. This review made me hurt with laughter,
"He's finally lost it. Like, proper lost it.
by tgooderson
Richard has been threatening this podcast for sometime and now it's here it is surprisingly funny. Highlights include tripping over things, forgetting whose turn it is and remembering the fact that you are listening to a middle aged man talk to himself in his basement.
I like to imagine a snooker enthusiast excitedly downloading this new snooker podcast they've discovered then picturing the look on their face as they listen. Priceless.
Great work as always."
That sums the thing up perfectly, because it's not really funny at all in itself, only when you think about what is happening and how people are reacting to it.
Many were concerned that I might be genuinely mentally ill, but it's the ambiguity on this issue that gives the thing a real tension (and as I sat reading the comments, checking the iTunes position and tweeting about this whilst on holiday in the paradise that is Thailand I too had to wonder about my sanity - but that also added another layer of funny too). We're entering a new realm of comedy, my friends. One day and not too soon all entertainment will consist of a man seriously playing snooker against himself and trying his best to commentate impartially despite his lack of expertise or skill at any of the things he is doing. With a dalek with a spacehopper on it in the way.
I expected a slew of angry one star reviews on iTunes (and they may come) but pretty much everyone had got behind it so far. Will they still be there by frame 43? No, they won't. But you will. Because you get it. Don't you?
Who are the madmen?
I think it might be the best thing I have ever done. When I remarked that it would be funny to begin with, then not funny at all for ages, then very, very funny again a couple of people remarked, "like your career." Though adding the caveat that it hadn't got to the very, very funny bit yet. I think this is true. But I would be happy if Me vs Me snooker became the emu around my neck and I became its Rod Hull. Only known for one man snooker, only able to get work involving it, getting to the point where I hate it and wish I had never thought of it, but having no option but to continue.
I am not mad yet, but it might drive me mad. I was laughing like a lunatic most of the day, seemingly at nothing, as the ludicrous nature of my life struck me again. But I'd also caught the sun so it might be that!
I did manage to get away from my computer for most of the day though, enjoying the best day of weather so far and managing to get sunburn in spite of the sun largely being hidden behind light cloud. It was the King of Thailand's birthday today and the local people were celebrating with genuine affection for the 84 year old monarch. As we ate dinner by the sea we watched distant specks of orange light floating through the sky. To begin with we were unsure as to what they were, but their number was so great and they ascended and disappeared and I realised they were paper lanterns with fire inside them, begin carried aloft like tiny hot air balloons. I wasn't sure exactly how that worked, or how big they were, but after dinner the waiting staff invited us down to the beach to launch some of our own. They were big paper balloons attached to a little metal cross with some kind of flammable wax cylinder in the middle. If you lit that and held the paper balloon over it tightly then it would fill with hot air and rise up into the sky. That was the theory and it was clearly working elsewhere on the island as balloons were flying up to impressive heights and you could see the tiny orange glow. But on our beach the wind was a little strong and despite everyone's best efforts the balloons were not getting airborne. One got blown out of the hands of the people holding it and got set on fire. I could see disaster looming and wondered how many of these things have gone off course and set fire to buildings and boats. One of the ones on our beach got about ten feet off the ground before plummeting into the sea and having its fire and its life extinguished.
But in some ways I preferred to be part of a failure. An honourable failure - people really persisted in trying to make these things work - but a failure nonetheless. Our balloons crashed and burned or failed to even get aloft. This is the team I would rather be on. Or rather the two teams, both comprising of me alone, failing to get hot air balloons in the air.

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