45 minutes ago, someone asked me if all my blog readers were in the UK, which is an interesting question and the answer is No.
This is often called a “comedy blog” but not by me. I see it as just whatever takes my fancy. I have, in the past, called it a blog mostly but not exclusively “about interesting people doing interesting (often creative) things”.
I am sometimes approached by performers who want a specific comedy show mentioned/plugged… for example at the Edinburgh Fringe or in London.
And I sometimes (not always!) point out that the blogs may be read way after the show has finished and certainly not exclusively in London or Edinburgh or any-pinpoint-where.
If an interview is involved, I record it so that I cannot misquote people. I do make some edits to what people tell me, mostly to clarify what is being said. I take out the umms and erms and general linguistic ramblings which everyone does. Including, very much so, me.
And I try to clarify details for non-UK residents. For example, when “Soho” is mentioned, I usually expand this to “Soho, London” to avoid confusion with Soho in New York.
Most of my readers are in the UK, followed by the USA, then by the native English-speaking countries. There is also a TRANSLATE button on the blog. Who knows what gibberish that may create?
But, as a public service – and as a crass piece of self-promotion – here are four graphics showing where my blogs are read.
The first shows the hits on the blog today… up to 3.00pm… so there are still another nine hours to go in the day.
As you can see, most of the hits ARE in the UK, with a strong secondary following in the USA.
The next image shows the hits received in the last seven days:
I find it a tad unsettling that I appear to be read in Russia.
By whom I dare not guess.
The next graphic shows the hits in the last 30 days:
This one is even more worrying because it shows people reading me in China and, as far as I know, all Western blogs are blocked (to ordinary people) in China.
The good news is that I appear not to be read in North Korea.
Finally, a map showing the origin of hits on my blog in the last 12 months.
Clearly I have much work to do in the Faroe Islands, Iran, Yemen, Tajikistan, Honduras, Madagascar and chunks of Africa. I will continue to try to avoid drawing the attention of anyone or, rather, any organisation in North Korea.
Andy started the annual event in 2006 and, since then, has managed to persuade the English Sports Council to recognise four of the five main egg throwing disciplines as legitimate sports.
The one they don’t recognise is Russian Egg Roulette, as I explained – or, as Andy might say, eggsplained – in my previous blog and this year Andy promises a “better than ever event” with international teams already scrambling to gear up for the big day.
He says: “Last year’s champs, the Dutch, return again to take on the World and their old rivals the Germans. The Dutch have just set a new World Record in the Dutch heats of 73.2m. The Germans – this year submitting two teams – have said that they see No problem as their teams are regularly making the catch at 55m in training despite strong cross winds and they say that Any chimp can throw that distance outside competition. They (the Dutch) won’t be able to take the heat on the day”.
Irish champion Paul Murphy has confirmed that he will also be attending on June 24th to defend his title in Russian Egg Roulette and Joel Hicks (World Gravy Wrestling Champion and Britain’s Got Talent contestant) is likely to once again step up to the mark as target in the Throwing with Accuracy challenge.
The Latvians have confirmed they will attend with their trebuchet (a big siege engine catapult to you and me).
On hearing this my chum, mad inventor John Ward felt his patriotic hackles rise in this our glorious Jubilee year and decided to build his own British trebuchet for the event. He told me this morning:
“I am going to go for a hand crafted-looking device, with more than a hint of genuine hand-carved MDF and a lick of varnish. It will be mounted on road wheels and towed behind our car. I am now off to the shed to make a start on the base unit and the towing axle.”
For me, the annual World Egg Throwing Championships will dwarf the Olympics in my calendar this summer. It epitomises international sport at its best.
So far there is no news of anyone poaching any other team’s players.
All of the money which people shell out will go to charity and Andy Dunlop definitively says: “No chickens will be hurt during the championships”.
Today, I was invited to go to a media show next week – MediaPro 2011 – and all they really wanted to know in cyberspace was my e-mail address and Twitter name.
I have no idea.
I have a friend who works for a major charity. Coincidentally, today she sent me an e-mail asking:
“Do you like Twitter?”
My answer was:
“I don’t really understand it – possibly because I do not have a smart phone.”
And I do not understand it, though I use it slightly for self-publicity.
It could cope with it a bit more once I understood the use of the hash sign.
But there is the problem of people actually seeing any message in the Twittersphere.
A comedian I know who also uses it for publicity sends any message mid-morning, late afternoon and near midnight to try to get it read.
It seems very popular with celebs and performers. I can’t imagine why they talk to each other on it, though.
My comedian chum Janey Godley Tweets extravagantly and swears it is useful if, for example, she goes to a new city – people will tell her useful information.
It has immediacy, which something like Facebook does not necessarily have. But coming with that is transience – if you Tweet a message at 10.30am, someone following 800 people may not see it if they don’t look until 3.00pm.
It is in that (what I think is an) odd area where, instead of talking to one person on the phone or in an e-mail, you talk to multiple people and (for reasons I cannot begin to fathom) you are having a conversation with one person which anyone is invited to listen in on.
As far as I can see, if you want to Tweet some one specific person, you might as well text ‘em.
I told my Charity friend:
“You might take a look at Google+ for work… Google+ seems to me to have a more up-market clientele than Facebook.”
(Nothing personal to my Facebook Friends).
The best proven way to get publicity, though, is to be included in my daily blog.
Bizarrely, BBC America would seem to agree. Today, I got an e-mail from someone at BBC America:
I work for BBC America, the U.S. cable television channel. I came across your blog and wanted to reach out, because BBC America is premiering a new series, WHITECHAPEL, on WED OCT 26 that I think would be interesting to you and your readers.
WHITECHAPEL is set in modern-day East London where a copycat killer is terrorizing London – and it’ll take everything these police officers have to keep history from repeating. The force is faced with the brutal and bloody history of their streets, from echoes of the 19th century & Jack the Ripper to the infamous 1960s crime twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Can these officers “solve the unsolvable and catch the most famous serial killer that ever lived”?
WHITECHAPEL is from the producers of the Emmy Award-winning Downton Abbey and starring Rupert Penry-Jones (MI-5, Cambridge Spies), Phil Davis (Sherlock, Bleak House) and Steve Pemberton (The League of Gentlemen, Viva Blackpool).
Don’t miss WHITECHAPEL every Wednesday at 10/9c starting Oct 26 only on BBC America. Can’t find BBC America on your cable dial? Use the Channel Finder in the top-navigation bar on bbcamerica.com.
Yesterday, I went to see a movie The Beginning of the Great Revival(aka The Founding of a Party), which was screening in London as part of the China Image Film Festival. It seemed to be very good film. A sumptuously made movie. Of course, if you work for the state film company, have a virtually limitless budget and you are making a movie about the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, this could help. But I thought I espied a director who had been influenced by Sergio Leone’s historical epics.
I say The Beginning of the Great Revival “seemed” to be a very good film because, alas, despite opening and closing titles with English translations, the actual two-hour long historical epic turned out to be in Chinese with Chinese subtitles.
This reminded me of the time I sat through Sholayat the National Film Theatre when they had accidentally rented a print of the epic Indian language movie with French sub-titles.
I speak neither French nor Hindi but you cannot fail to enjoy an all-stops-pulled-out Bollywood film where (as always) people randomly burst into song and the hero has both his arms cut off yet continues to fight in true action man style. (Both Sholay and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were released in 1975 so I doubt if either ripped off the idea of an armless hero; it must have been the spirit of the times.)
I also do not speak Mandarin nor read Chinese script and my knowledge of Chinese history 1910-1921 is a tad hazy, but The Beginning of the Great Revival was never less than interesting. You can see why in the (subtitled) trailer on YouTube:
I was brought back to some form of reality when I came out of the cinema and read Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper The Daily. The front page story was:
DUCK! – Anyone’s guess where 13,000-pound satellite will hit
READY TO TUMBLE! Satellite hurtles toward Earth – and scientists can’t say when or where it will hit
This was a story I had never heard of before – and I had seen the lunchtime news on BBC TV yesterday.
“NASA scientists,” The Daily said, “are shrugging their shoulders with little or no idea when – or where – a satellite the size of a bus will fall to Earth. The latest projections last night were that the defunct NASA satellite would tumble to Earth from space sometime this afternoon, but because the satellite is free-falling, the space agency and the U.S. Air Force cannot make a precise prediction about when and where it will hit.”
According to the article, NASA claimed the chances of someone being hit by a piece of falling debris was 1 in 3,200 and the debris would fall along a 500-mile path.
Those odds of 1 in 3,200 seemed surprisingly low to me.
“The only confirmed case of a person being hit by space junk,” The Daily told me, “was in 1997 when Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was grazed on the shoulder by a small piece of a Delta rocket.”
NASA has apparently warned people against touching any part of the satellite they might find lying around on the ground.
“While it contains no hazardous chemicals,” The Daily reported, “the space agency said people could potentially be hurt by sharp edges.”
Apparently what NASA calls “medium-sized junk” falls back to earth about once a week. Debris the size of a bus falls about once a year. When bits of the Skylab space station (the size of a house) fell onto parts of Western Australia in July 1979, local authorities fined NASA $400 for littering.
I thought I should perhaps check if anything the size of a bus had fallen on London while I was in the cinema watching the glorious founding of the Chinese Communist Party in The Beginning of the Great Revival so I got a London Evening Standard (which is now owned, like the Independent newspaper, by an ex-KGB man).
Its front page news was a story about a boy who had been encouraged to read by the Duchess of Cornwall. I could not find any story anywhere about anyone being killed by a bus from outer space falling on their head so, when I got home, I checked the BBC News channel (no unusual deaths; no mention of death from above) and then checked my e-mails to find one from mad inventor John Ward – designer and fabricator of the highly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards for comedy.
Among other billed events and speakers at this academic symposium are ‘Project Pigeon’ (“an art and education project that works with pigeons as a vehicle to bring people together”), the World Egg Throwing Championships and a talk on Gender, Exercise and Art by Anthony Schrag, an artist now living in Scotland whose work, according to the University of Lincoln, “focuses on blowing things up, climbing on things and occasionally kidnapping people”.
I could take no more.
I went to bed.
When I woke up this morning, the BBC News channel was reporting that the NASA spacecraft could not be found, but it had passed over the UK twice during the night and was now “the size of a refrigerator”.
They also reported Prime Minister David Cameron’s warning to the world that we live in dangerous economic times.
The ever-energetic comic Bob Slayer is looking after The Hive venue at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe for the Laughing Horse Free Festival and, back in January, he asked me if I wanted to do any chat-type shows based on my blog.
So we arranged that I would precede this with four ‘talking head’ shows. Debates, but with comedians. I would chair the first two and doyenne of Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviewers Kate Copstick (a Malcolm Hardee Award judge) would chair the second two. The subjects seemed quite clear:
On Monday – “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish” – based on a blog I wrote which comedy industry website Chortle later used.
On Tuesday – “Racist or sexist jokes? It doesn’t matter if they’re funny!” – again based on a blog of mine which Chortle later printed.
On Wednesday – “Have the Big Boys Fucked Up The Fringe?” about large promoters, producers and management agencies’ effect on the Fringe.
On Thursday – “Are Bono, Bob and the Big Boys Fucking Up The World?” about charity and aid money.
This was all OK until Copstick discovered, at the last moment, that she had to be in London for the final of ITV’s new reality TV series Show Me The Funny on the same days as her planned Fringe debates – and possibly rehearsing in London on the previous two days.
This happened a few days before the final Fringe Programme deadline, when the titles and billings had already been submitted.
I have always wanted to hear the introduction, “And now… a man juggling spaghetti…”
I would accept a woman. If you have a spare one, let me know.
But, if I could hear that introduction and then see someone do it, I could die happy and fulfilled.
Since the mid-1980s, when I was working on the LWT series Game For a Laugh, through series like The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross, I half-heartedly tried to find someone who could juggle cooked spaghetti for more than one minute. It appears it cannot be done. In the 1990s, I tried with the brilliant juggler Steve Rawlings, at which point, I gave up – If he can’t do it, no-one can do it, I thought– but it has always simmered away at the back of my mind.
So, on the basis that I could not think of anything better, I decided to hold the Malcolm Hardee Spaghetti-Juggling Contest – Year One (who knows if there will be a Year Two, but it sounds good) at the Laughing Horse Free Fringe venue which is exactly what it says in the name – Outside The Beehive – in Grassmarket for 45 minutes on the final Tuesday and Wednesday nights of the Edinburgh Fringe.
It should be messy and, if it rains, shambolically messy – a fitting tribute to Malcolm Hardee. But it might get a few pictures in the media and/or some word-of-mouth to plug the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show on the Friday night. And I suspect I can get quite a few comics to wander along and take part as well as members of the public.
The submission has gone in to Guinness to see if – in the unlikely event someone can actually keep cooked spaghetti in the air for more than a minute – they would actually recognise spaghetti-juggling as a world record.
Now all I have to do is find somewhere to get large amounts of cooked spaghetti on two nights in Edinburgh in late August…