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Thursday 22nd May 2003

I used to listen to the News Quiz on Radio 4 as a student, so it was both flattering and slightly strange to be asked to appear on it tonight.
As it turned out I was quite rubbish on it. I hadn’t really had time to prepare and as soon as it started I realised the preparation I had done was wrong. I had read the papers and thought of a few vaguely humorous opinions and arrogantly assumed that I could riff through it. I was to be the inevitably victim of my own hubris. But everyone else had fairly solid gags that brought the house down and most of my stuff got a couple of stifled and embarrassed chuckles. Or groans.
And a couple of boos!
Of course once an audience smells the fear you are done for in any case. Much of comedy is about style over content. I am not a comedian with an endless stream of anecdotes and gags primed and ready to go in my mind and the show was strangely competitive. Not that anyone wanted to win, but just everyone was trying to get in with their gag and because I was losing confidence I didn’t bother trying to chip in too much (often only to hear one of the others make a similar crack to what I had had in mind).
It’s probably not the best format for me. One of the questions was about scientists proving that ghosts did not exist and I knew that the obvious way to go was to make reference to the Scooby Doo gang. But I couldn’t bring myself to do the obvious material. Of course one of the others did it (pretty well I have to admit) and it went down a storm.
Yet the others (all fairly seasoned panellists) made the game seem easy and were extremely entertaining. So the show itself was good, despite my floundering performance.
Over an hour of stuff was recorded for a half hour slot, so it will edit down and the producer might be able to make me look vaguely competent and slightly amusing. But I wasn’t.
It was like being in an exam that you have failed to revise for. Or probably more like being in an exam that you thought you were clever enough not to have to revise for, only to discover that you aren’t.
I apologise to the BBC license payers and vow not to make the same mistake again.

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