By Nigel Blundell
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Extra resources for Bizarre and Eccentric: Weird People and Extraordinary Lives
However, as well as these three reasonably rational reasons why I wanted to start stand-up again, I had another, less rational, more disconcerting motive. I had been on nodding terms with Ricky Gervais since he was the Entertainments Officer at the University of London student union in the early nineties, where he was an enthusiastic promoter of stand-up nights and smitten fan of comedy. The compliments he would pay us were so extravagant that it often made interaction with him awkward and embarrassing, a natural characteristic he was subsequently able to siphon, to great effect, into the brilliantly realised role of David Brent.
It was essentially confusing and opaque, whereas commercial musical theatre hits, and commercial hits generally, tend to be about comforting certainties (see Appendix I). No matter what production values and lush orchestration and full-colour posters you threw at it, it was at base a genuine piece of work, created by artists, initially without a commercial end product in sight. Once you stuck it in the West End at £50 a ticket, you’d already priced a significant proportion of discerning arts consumers out of the market, and located it somewhere they didn’t particularly want to go.
Instead, Rich approached the puzzle of trying to write for radio with a tenacity, enthusiasm and originality that dragged me along in its wake. In those days, BBC Radio discovered new comedy writers by simply inviting anyone who wanted to write for Radio 4’s long-running weekly shit satire show, Weekending, to just come into the building, without even the most basic identity check, and meet with the producer of that week’s show. He or she would tell the assembled mass of stinking eccentrics what sort of sketches the show was still short of.
Bizarre and Eccentric: Weird People and Extraordinary Lives by Nigel Blundell