Interview – A Little Bit Racey
Will you be doing anything different with your show for the live recording on Feb 8th?
This is a really exciting step for us, as it’s the first time we’ve recorded an episode in front of a live audience. We’ll be sticking to the same format, of course. For readers unfamiliar, this consists of four panelists each being assigned a different object, companion, mode of transport and starting point, and taking it in turns to improvise their way across the globe to a given destination, in order to complete an objective. However, they must manage this within a three-minute time limit and all while another panelist improvises obstacles in an attempt to stop them. We’ll be mixing things up for the live show a little by having the audience suggest the objects, companions and modes of transport there and then on the night. The panelists will really need to be on their toes!
You’ve talked before about panelists on your show having a “line” that they can’t cross but can push. So what would be the difference between pushing the line and straight up crossing it?
Normally, wit. On one show a panelist called David Wylie had the cast of The Only Way Is Essex as his companion. His destination was Oregon, and he said the cast of TOWIE didn’t know what that was, guessing it was some kind of herb. The implication is that the cast of TOWIE are dumb, obviously, but it’s only implied so just pushes the “line”. Had David explicitly stated that the cast of TOWIE were dumb, that would have crossed the line, as it would have felt unnecessary to just come out with an insult and it would have demonstrated a lack of wit. It’s perfectly fine to use comedy to make comments on society/pop-culture/politics/whatever (“many a true word is spoken in jest” anyone?), but make sure that it is just that: comedy. So, normally, wit pushes the boundaries as it wraps the comment you’re making up in a joke, whereas a lack of wit crosses it, as this can delve into insults or, perhaps worse, just flat statements. Another example: our regular series panelist Tom Harrison once told his opponent, David Alnwick, that Tim Henman’s presence as his companion would ensure that he came fourth in everything he did for the rest of his life. This is, of course, far wittier than just saying Tim Henman was rubbish at tennis and never won anything. I have nothing against Tim Henman, by the way, sure he’s a lovely bloke (the cast of TOWIE are dumb).
For those who haven’t heard your podcast, could you give us an example of one of your craziest improv scenarios?
I really couldn’t pick just one. We’ve had Kim Jong Il being stabbed in the eye with a parasol, a tribe of cannibals chasing Usain Bolt in a re-purposed ferry, Les Dennis battling Street Sharks, a goat that can travel through the power of dreams being bludgeoned to death with a pole-vault, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson guest starring on Countdown, a Furby possessed by a disappointed school teacher and ABBA travelling about in a coffin with robotic legs. And that’s just off the top of my head, really.
Where do you come up with your initial ideas for the episode scenarios?
In a pub with some of the funniest, loveliest people I know. We just try to make each other laugh by coming up with the most absurd, ridiculous ways that we can twist every-day stuff into a simple story, an objective for the panelists to achieve. For instance: So, there’s a big train… but it goes all the way from America to Japan and the brakes are broken so it won’t stop and you have to go and fix them! Or, there’s a New Year’s Eve party at the White House… but it’s got out of hand and Hillary’s gone missing and you have to go and find her! Or it’s the Queen’s Birthday… and she wants to celebrate it by refereeing a football match but the royal football has deflated and you have to go find David Beckham as his is the only breath patriotic enough to reinflate it. We come up with the objects, companions and modes of transport for the show the same way, throwing out suggestions, building on each other’s ideas and laughing a lot. It’s hard work to bring all the ideas together cohesively to form scripts that are both bonkers and simple, but we’re in a pub which helps.
Have you ever considered experimenting with new formats, or maybe doing a second show with a similar style?
I’d like to do another podcast called “A Little Bit More Racey” where I sit with a panelist as they listen back to themselves on the show and review the various decisions they made, what they feel they did right, what they regret, what they think they learned about themselves etc. Basically, an A Little Bit Racey autopsy, but all very tongue in cheek, of course. Otherwise, I’d really like to do something else for Cornucopia Radio (who make a broad range of podcasts and radio productions in Sheffield, including “Racey”) that would be totally scripted and really strange. You can do amazing (and affordable) things with radio, because it’s a medium in which everything takes place in the listener’s head. That’s why we can conjure such mad scenarios. It’s theatre of the mind.
What does the future hold for A Little Bit Racey? Where do you want to take your show next?
Last year, we were Finalists for Best UK Podcast at the New Media Europe Awards. Although we did not go on to win the award, this represented some lovely recognition for us and gave our download numbers a big boost. That’s really what it’s all about – we just want to keep improving the quality of the show and gain as many listeners as possible. It would also be nice if Radio 4 returned my calls.
Who would be your dream line up of guests on the podcast, and why?
This feels like the right time to talk about the live show line-up, which really is a dream team. Our Presenter James Cottle and series regular panelist Tom Harrison will be joined by Pip Mason, an excellent local stand-up, David Alnwick, a versatile talent who enjoys successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe every year with both comedy and magic shows, and Chella Quint, an eloquent comedian who has featured on both BBC Radio 4’s A Bleeding Shame and Woman’s Hour. We also have local improv groups performing before the recording itself, including The Shrimps, Faffing About and The Antics, and the whole evening will be MC’ed by the dynamic combination of Joe Thompson and Charlie Gascoyne, two cracking young comedians – almost all Sheffield folks, too!
Finally, how would you get to the Exposed HQ from a Blackpool bus shelter, if you only had a rickshaw with no driver and a toaster that doesn’t work?
Firstly, I’d get James (you didn’t give me a companion, so I’m allowed him), who is, by sheer luck, an expert rickshaw driver (you can’t disprove that) and we’d make our way into Sheffield, picking up all our panelists and supporting acts along the way (it’s got a conveniently large cart, this rickshaw). Pip would be a particularly important acquisition as he can repair toasters (again, can’t disprove) and we’d swing by Exposed HQ, where we’d give an interview to the lovely staff whilst we all enjoyed toast together. We’d then head off again, this time for DINA Venue, making it just in time for 8pm on Wed 8th Feb (Doors 7.30) where we’d put on a LIVE show for the people of Sheffield! Afterwards, we would repair our fourth wall and follow @ALittleBitRacey on Twitter. THE END.
For more from A Little Bit Racey, head here.