Wednesday 25th January 2012
We finally got to see the film that everyone is raving about, "The Artist", rather fittingly at the lovely, ancient and slightly decrepit Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill. It's in Notting Hill, but it's also in Notting Hill. The film. Hugh Grant goes there and watches films on his own in his scuba diving goggles, the posh idiot.
We sat in the balcony and enjoyed the retro screen announcements about not smoking in the auditorium in garish fonts that might have been designed on a ZX81. There is almost no leg room (my legs are very short and I still struggled to wedge myself in), the arm rests are coming off (no doubt because people are forced to stretch their legs over the empty seat in front) and the screen reassuringly small and, I thought, a little bit blurry (though I think it might just be that my
eyesight is starting to go a bit). We hadn't chosen this cinema deliberately, it was the only one that had the film on at a time that fitted in with our other plans for the night, but it felt like we were back in the time when silent films became talkies, so added to the experience.
The film is as charming and witty as everyone says, though apparently its total lack of dialogue has confused and upset some people. There were signs by the box office warning people about this, which suggests that either some people will feel short changed by a film if there's no talking in it (even if most action blockbusters these days might as well have none) or more tantalisingly that people were going in to see the film and then coming out to tell the staff that the sound wasn't working. God I hope that's what's been happening.
Maybe it was the silence of the film that accentuated it, but me and my girlfriend seemed to be very bad cinema patrons during the early part of this film. We had a minor whispered argument about being on a mobile phone as the film began (on this occasion it was me telling her to put her phone away, which for some reason led to a hissing accusation of "hypocrite"), I tried to get my feet out from the narrow footspace and over the seat in front (taking care to keep my shoes away from touching the chair itself), but the space was so tight I couldn't do it without banging and readjusting, I then kept accidentally bumping the seat in front with the back of my legs so that it creaked and clanked - if I had been sitting nearby I would totally have been shooting disapproving looks over at the unpleasant, cacophonous couple. If there had been more explosions then maybe it wouldn't have been noticeable. But any sound effects were generally just signified by the caption card reading "Bang!".
Then just when I thought we might have settled down my phone rang. I nearly always remember to turn it to silent and more pertinently no one usually ever rings me, so this was a double whammy of embarrassment and consternation. I turned it off, but the unwanted interruption certainly felt more searingly unpleasant because the film was so devoid of extraneous noise. In fact I wondered if the people around me had begun to wonder if I was some kind of interactive addition to the film. We were being forced to consider the power of silence by the movie and the annoyance of noise by this fidgety cinema patron.
I like to think that everything I do is art. Even if it's art that merely exposes the idiocy and selfishness and self indulgence of human life. My whole life is the canvas for this and I am the greatest artist of all time. The Artist is silent, but this artist makes himself known by always making noise, with no regard for it being worthwhile or wanted.
But will I be given an Oscar. No I fucking won't. But I will heckle the Oscars from my lounge and add another masterpiece to my oeuvre.
The phone call, it turned out later, was from the producer of my last radio series, with the bad news that Radio 4 do not want another series of Objective. I had been forewarned that this was likely, but had been surprised nonetheless. I thought the second series was some of the best work I've done and had been a bit overwhelmed by the positive reaction (especially to the wheelchair episode). I'd worked out about eight more potentially interesting objects to investigate so thought there might be a couple more short series in the pipeline. But Radio 4 disagree and think that I've exhausted controversial objects. So as almost always a project ends after two series. I've taken the decision in my stride - I know this is the way of things, there's enormous competition for the timeslots and things must move on and it's important to view this from the positive rather than negative angle: The show got two series, which is better than getting no series. Or indeed one series.
Yet I thought that I'd cracked this one and had worked hard on it (in fact one of the positives of not getting another series is that I don't have to put myself through the stress of writing these shows), so I am sad to see it go. Radio 4 were positive about it and have said they're up for me pitching other projects and have always been supportive. It might be more fun to do something different. But I am also slightly torn because if I have another idea there is always the option of doing it myself and releasing it as a podcast. It won't get as much exposure and I probably won't make as much money (though if enough people pay to see it live then it actually wouldn't be far off). It might be fun to have a crack at an edited, radio quality podcast show, which is not written entirely at the last minute, but which is not censored or restricted to a time slot and which will end when I have had enough of it. Well let's see. A lot of it depends on how my comedy drama script goes down with BBC TV, though they seem to be doing quite a good impression of The Artist on that one too. It can be unsettling to be at the mercy of others regarding the future of your career, though most of us are I suppose. But this job has a lot less security than others. You don't actually have to fuck up to be sacked in this business.
At the start of the year I felt pretty positive about my prospects: I thought a third series of Objective was almost certain and was hopeful that Gorgeous might get off the ground (maybe in time for fulfil my 10th year of Warming Up ambition). Now that the seeming cert is off the table my eggs are mainly in one basket. Though it's nice to have the option of just getting on with stuff myself if all else fails. I will always have my snooker podcast. Though if I only have my snooker podcast then that might not be such a good thing. My life, as art, ending in my basement, the madness I have jokingly flirted with over my career finally getting the last laugh.
It's at this point I have to remember my own advice, lovingly crafted by Darren Thompson here and Charles Auchterlonie (with my pic inserted) "Get Annoyed and Carry On". It's really the only option.
All the dates for the Talking Cock tour can be found here
Buy the Talking Cock book here
Tickets are now on sale for both my Edinburgh Fringe shows. "We're All Going To Die!" is on at the Pleasance Beyond at 8pm Book here
Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast is at Stand 1 daily at 14.10. Book here
You can get video downloads of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast from Go Faster Stripe
A video explaining the idea can be seen here
You can buy tickets to the shows from the Leicester Square Theatre website
You can still download the audio for free from the British Comedy Guide or iTunes
You can subscribe to this blog on Kindle. Now only ï¿½0.99 a month here. Or just carry on reading it on here for free.
Also on your kindle (or any smart phone or tablet with the kindle app) catch up on the early years of Warming Up (with extra retrospective additions) with Bye Bye Balham and The Box Lady and Other Pesticles (only ï¿½3.53 each)
[ Email this edition of Warming Up to a friend ]