As a sad and lonely teenager, I wiled away many an hour playing with myself. “Who didn’t?” you might reply. But you have wilfully misunderstood me and I am disgusted with you. I would play myself at Subbuteo (very much a two-player table football game) or darts or (my absolute favourite) snooker. I would divide myself into two different snooker-playing personalities and compete to find out which was best in an unlimited frames contest. And then divide myself further by also providing the commentary and refereeing. It was the kind of perfectly normal, multi-personality disorder pastime that surely all children went through.
Unless they had some friends.
A couple of years ago I decided to revisit this world by resurrecting the snooker players who had lain dormant for nearly three decades, calling them Me1 and Me2 and turning my snooker matches into an almost unlistenable and infinitely irritating audio podcast called “Me1 Vs Me2 Snooker”. Me1 is is conformist, a family man, smugly being seen to do and say the right thing, but Me2 is a renegade who hates authority and rules and lets his heart rule his head and refuses to grow up and settle down. It’s almost as if the me of now is fighting against the me of ten years ago. Is it ever possible to extinguish the person we once were?
Like my shoe idea from last week, I see it as a work of conceptual art. It speaks of the loneliness of the human condition, the dichotomy of personality within us all and the futility of competition. It voices the ultimate truth that our greatest opponent in life is always ourselves.
But mainly it’s just a very annoying half an hour of a man who isn’t very good at snooker or commentating at snooker, playing snooker and commentating on it. I am not even really that clear on the rules of the game. It’s even more surreal if you the listener don’t know anything about the game of snooker, like the handful of fools who listen to this in the USA.
The joke (if there is one) is that everyone’s time is being wasted. Subscribers are as stupid for listening to it as I am for doing it. Ultimately I hope to put out a podcast with zero listeners. The first frame got 30,000 downloads, but the latest, number 47 is down to under 4000. It will be hard to shift these dedicated idiots, as determined to make me continue to produce these as I am to shake them all off. It’s a war of attrition and there ultimately be no victors, apart from whichever Me has won the most frames (and so far, I have to say, they are proving extraordinarily equally matched opponents). You can’t dip in and out. It only counts if you listen to every single second of every single frame.
This certainly is not my most accessible work. If you want something with some actual jokes in it then I’d suggest you download my Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (where I interview big guests including forthcoming appearances from Steve Coogan and Stewart Lee) or Richard Herring’s Meaning of Life, in which I solve all the mysteries of the Universe. All of my podcasts are free, though you might feel that is still too expensive for the snooker one.
Bizarrely, I have found the Me versus Me template very useful in other aspects of my life and at least one Olympic hopeful used it in his training. Me versus Me sports psychology could change your life. See next week’s column for details.