We headed to Cardiff early as we had a rendezvous with Chris Evans (not that one) (no, not the one from Avengers either). The one from gofasterstripe.com. Chris is a man who is pretty much game for anything involving creating interesting comedy content. He'll take a punt on filming DVDs for acts who would not otherwise get a commercial release (even though many of these don't make any money for him - quite the contrary), he'll buy the rights to old BBC series for tens of thousands of pounds, just because he'd like them to get a release, he'll come down to London every week to film a sprawling interview podcast, even though it's unlikely it will break even and if I ask him if he'd be up for helping me film a six part stand up show and arrange for it to be edited and put up online, even though that too, is likely to lose money, he'll cheerfully have a crack at that as well. Luckily a few of his projects make some money, but the thing that drives him is a love for comedy and wanting to make it available to comedy fans like him. It would be great if this enthusiasm made him a millionaire, but my main hope is that it won't destroy him financially and turn him into a tramp, living on the streets of Cardiff, scavaging for discarded seaweed.
Without him I would have no DVDs of my shows and certainly no "Meaning of Life" (I mean the show, not the philosopical concept, though maybe a bit of both actually). Nobody else would do these projects as cheaply or efficiently as Go Faster Stripe. Or for the right motivations. Many people who work in industry that orbits around comedians are hard-edged, money-grabbing businessmen, but Chris is a genuinely nice bloke. For example the company that makes our "I Paid A Pound" badges said they'd give us some for free if we mentioned them on a podcast, but Chris didn't think that was fair, so we paid for the badges and mentioned them on the podcast anyway (it's one of the future ones). If you're a comedy fan and you're not buying stuff from him then you are a bloody fool. Check out the array of wonders available at www.gofasterstripe.com.
One of our hare-brained schemes was to pay for a reprint of the Talking Cock book that had done spectacularly badly on its official release in 2003. I reckoned enough people would be interested in buying it on my tours to make it worth us putting up the cash and Chris, cheerfully agreed. It was hard to work out how many books we might need - I figured we might eventually get through 2000, but what if we sold more. The difference between buying 2000 and 3000 was just a few hundred quid, yet to print up an extra 1000 at a later date would cost us several thousand pounds. So we thought we'd take the punt and go for 3000.
We probably didn't need to get that extra 1000 books and today, as we had a people carrier, I had agreed to come and pick up the excess tomes that have been sitting in a Cardiff storage unit for the last 18 months (adding another £1800 to our bill). If they stayed there much longer then we'd have paid in storage what we would have done just to print those books up. We are not businessmen, but we are enthusiastic and hopeful and I am glad we took this punt. Giles the Cannibal was not over the moon about the prospect of filling the car to the brim or at the knowledge that we'd have to unload all these books at the other end. But there's room in my cellar to store them (I hope) and I think I will sell them eventually (it might take another 10 or so years of touring). I probably sell about five on average at every gig, so if I do 200 more gigs then we'll get through them. But as we drove away I did a quick rough calculation and I reckon that with one thing and another we've just about broken even on the books. That's an awful lot of effort and work from Chris Evans (not that one, pay attention) especially for maybe a couple of hundred quid. But as money is not the motivation for either of us (not that it's not nice to get it), we could complete this book transferral with an air of amusement and wonder. For us the fact that we've had a go is enough. And luckily it has not broken us yet, even if it might have broken the suspension on our hire vehicle.
Chris has taken a few of the books and I have paid him for the rest, so if you want one and buy it from him then he will get all the money. There's a great deal on his website where you can get the book and the Talking Cock DVD for just £20. If enough of you do that, then Chris will be forced to buy some of my books back from me and I will charge him an exorbitant rate. Or he can just stop selling them. Or get the book on its own for £12. It would be an excellent trick to play on him to sell 1000 books on the day he sold them all to me. Ha ha ha. Get that fucker and teach him a lesson he'll never forget.
Chris' youngest son came to the storage facility with his dad and looked very miserable at the prospect. I told him that moving books out of a storage unit into a car for a strange man (me, not his dad) would turn out to be the most exciting thing that had happened to him in his life. He didn't seem convinced. But I was so sure that this would be like meeting Willy Wonka for him that I said I would give him a pound if I was proven wrong. But after the first trip back with the trolley the boy looked if anything more bored than he had been before and I stumped up the cash. He bough some Minstrels with it. And those made him so happy that I nearly had to ask for my money back. But I was the bigger man and let him keep the chocolates and the change. I am sure I will go down in Welsh legend as the wealthy man who came from London distributing gold to the local urchins. But I didn't do it to become a legend or a myth. I am just an amazing person who does stuff with no thought for the accolades I will receive.
I was, for the first time really, a bit knackered before the gig and had a little catnap to try and revitalise. I am not sure it entirely worked. It was a bit of a wonky start, but then I mainly woke up and we had a nice time. And given the relentlessness of my schedule I am amazed that I've got this far before starting to feel a bit fuggy. It's the last Leicester Square Theatre Podcasts of the run on Monday (with Nick Helm and Jon Ronson- get tickets here) and then I've got a run of seven gigs in seven nights from Thursday, but once that jaunt is over then things are looking a little less frantic. You know, comparatively.