I was going to blog about something else today. But then I looked at my e-mail Inbox.
I may have a rival daily blog. I am worried.
When I was a student, in the dim and distant years of the last century when people still used quills and wore flared trousers, I got myself a summer job in the press and publicity department at Penguin Books. One day, they had a visit from a man who was starting up a publishing business in Malaysia. He had asked if he could look round the Penguin operation at Harmondsworth to see how it was organised on the ground.
Very politely, they told him everything they could to help him. All about their relationship with their printers, their distribution system, the economic set-up of the company and so on.
At the time, I wondered, Why are they doing this? They may find in the future that they have trained their own business rival.
I still do not know why they did it.
Last week, Lewis Schaffer, the not-yet famous American comic based in London, phoned me, asking advice.
“I think maybe I should scale down all the online stuff I do,” he told me. “What do you think, John? Maybe I should stop Tweeting on Twitter, stop doing stuff on Facebook, stop all this social networking stuff or scale it back. Or maybe I should increase it.”
This was classic Lewis Schaffer; it went on for about ten minutes.
I was watching the climax of a movie on TV. I kept watching and listening.
Occasionally, I would say, “Mmmm,” or “Ah.”
I know from experience that it comforts Lewis Schaffer as he talks. He does not phone for advice; he phones to talk. At one point, I managed to get a word in and perhaps foolishly gave him some advice:
“You should blog,” I told him, still watching and listening to the explosions on the TV screen. “You are a natural blogger,” I told him, still on verbal auto-pilot, “I think you should give up performing your own comedy shows. You should be a ‘meeter and greeter’. That’s what you enjoy. You should meet people at the door, shake their hand, greet them, find out about them, have long chats with everyone, make friends with them. That’s what you like. You don’t do shows because you like being on stage; you just do it to chat to people. Don’t bother to perform a show on stage. Why bother? It just gives you stress. Just welcome people to the show but don’t do the show. Blogging is performing without the stress of performing.”
“Who do you think I should blog with?” Lewis Schaffer asked. “Who do you blog with?”
“Wait a second,” I asked him.
Five people got machine-gunned on screen.
“Blogger has the theoretical advantage that it is owned by Google, so it might prove better at some point in the future, but Google picks up everything on the WordPress blogs anyway. I used to blog on Blogger, but I preferred the templates on WordPress. Really, it would be better for me to blog on both. To duplicate the blog and have it running on both. But there have been so many blogs now that it would be too complicated to go back and duplicate everything and I don’t think it would be very effective to start duplicating now.”
“What about Janey?” Lewis Schaffer asked.
“Ah!” I said, “Janey Godley… Well now…”
“Janey is another league entirely. She has a man who duplicates her blogs on I think it’s something like 170 or 180 or more different websites. When she was at her blogging peak, I know she was getting over 500,000 hits every week, because I worked it out for her on about three occasions over a period.”
“Jesus!” said Jewish American comedian Lewis Schaffer.
Another three people died on screen and a car went over a cliff.
“Janey’s main blog is on Blogger,” I continued, “but it doesn’t really matter because it’s everywhere. Do a Google Search for “janey godley” + blog and you get some idea. She also has a widget on the homepage of her website which links to her blog and updates every time her main blog is updated. But she tends to Tweet now,” I told him. “She blogs less but could Tweet for Britain in the Olympics.”
“I don’t know, John,” Lewis Schaffer said to me. “I think maybe I should scale down all the social networking stuff I do. What do you think? Maybe I should stop Tweeting on Twitter, stop doing stuff on Facebook, stop all this online stuff or scale it back. Or maybe I should increase it. What do you think?”
This was classic Lewis Schaffer; it went on for another ten minutes.
I kept watching and listening to the movie on the TV screen.
Eventually, Lewis Schaffer talked himself out.
But I woke up this morning and there was a Google Alert in my mailbox.
I was happy with my gig. One old guy did walk out in front of the stage and gave me and the audience of 150 a big, theatrical yawn. I can make people walk out in seconds but I climbed on top of a table and shouted at the guy “Do you think you hurt me by leaving? My wife left me and took my kids!”
I think Lewis Schaffer has found a way to write a blog about worrying… about which he will worry. He can be very funny when he does not worry too much about being worried. And often when he does. And he does, still, have the best Holocaust joke I have ever heard.
But what if the increasing number of people who read my blog decide that his blog is more interesting? Should I be worried? Or should I just print a photograph of Lewis Schaffer, naked, with this blog and hope it puts people off?
These are testing times for me.
I highly recommend Lewis Schaffer’s ongoing twice-weekly comedy shows in London and his blog (if he keeps it going). Just never ever give him your telephone number. Truly. Just do not do it.
There may be more pressing things to worry about, though. Just as I was about to post this blog, I got a text from comedian Bob Slayer, on his way back to Britain from Australia. I am looking at it now, with rising fear. It says:
Landed in Brunei. 3.5 hours til flight, so going on 2 hour tour. Unfortunately is wrong time of day for monkey tour so going to food market. Maybe to eat monkey?
Now he is safely out of Australia, I will go and re-post those two blogs I temporarily removed about his exploits in Oz.
But I pity the poor people and monkeys of Brunei.