How to Say Hello to your Heroes

A few quick words on a meeting a celebrity you’ve admired for some time: usually, given the chance of an encounter, don’t. Feet of clay and all that. If you are seriously into worshiping them, the discovery that they are hewn from the same rude matter as everyone else can be enough to shatter your dreams, dash your expectations, make you question the pursuit for yourself of the qualities that you admire most in your hero. Derren Brown puts it extremely well when he says that people in the public eye have something approaching a duty to be kind, and he leads by example. Too many times I’ve seen two people meet, one of them has been a public person, and the other has left the experience disappointed because the celebrity failed to meet their expectations: they were too tetchy, too ordinary, and if there’s one thing we don’t want them to be, it’s that. I’ve got a technique in these situations and, whilst it isn’t fail-safe, is low-risk.

Raph and I were walking into the Dome, and who should be at the door but Greg Proops? Greg’s improvised stand up has been a big, recent influence: he expertly demonstrates that you can say something weighty, you can use long words, you can explore complex ideas. I had to say hello.

Greg was talking to two friends, so I hung about in his eyeline until they reached a break in conversation. Greg turned to me, I stuck out my hand and by the time his automatic handshake was over, I’d said: ‘Sorry to disturb, but I was going to send you an email anyway. I saw your show the other day, and love the podcast.’ He said, ‘Thanks, man,’ I said, ‘I’ll let you get back to chatting with your friends,’ and that was it, I was back in the Dome.

Learning outcomes: keep it fast, keep it respectful of the other people your hero is talking to, don’t go overboard, be aware you’re interrupting.

Either the person you’re talking to is lovey like Greg and you don’t want to overstay your welcome or disrespect the fact they might want to be out having a quiet drink with friends, or they are awful like [mystery celebrity] in which case five seconds is more than enough time to spend in their poisonous company.

Outside the Dome is a reasonable location to initiate interruptions; restaurants less so.

Under no circumstances, attempt to get someone’s autograph when the person they are talking to is crying.

In the morning, I went for a walk when I should’ve gone for a run. Autumn is very definitely in the air just now, and it was too cool to do what I’d planned – ie. sit around in the sunshine. I think I managed ten minutes or so.

Whistle Binkies was my first gig of the day: I was a bit clumsy, partly because Adam Strauss had contrived to book comics with similar initials: Alex Adleman and Ashley Strand: two ASs and an AA (which I can remember easily now; in the heady rush of the spotlit stage, however, my synapses refused to release the information). So my intro for Alex was fluffed embarrassingly. It’s the way of the brain, you can’t just ask it to do stuff for you and expect it to work perfectly. Alex, Ashley and Adam took their revenge, and by the end of the hour, I’d been variously dubbed anti-Semitic, forgettable, and a slang term for a bizarre sexual act. All done with good humour, and I enjoyed the jokes as much anyone. Just a shame I’d been so vague in the first place.

Mace & Burton run a show called Heartbreak Hotel, in which guest comics tell tales of, well, heartbreak. I talked about my VSD, which was possibly taking it too literally, but it went ok, and it was a very different format to most chat shows. Also it was raising awareness of mental health issues, so I’m pleased to have been a part of that.

Finally, Purple. A very tricky gig. A party of six that I’d sweet-talked into the venue left because the bar was too noisy (eh? We weren’t performing in the bar). The majority of the audience had English as a second language, which isn’t an issue, so long as there are plenty of native speakers in the mix. Tonight the balance was wrong. Raph went on first, and found the audience tired, reactions somewhat muted. He very gallantly did the right thing, though, taking this particular bullet and leaving me with a bonded, warmed-up audience. So I found it easier, though I did quite a lot of gurning and my timing wasn’t what it could’ve been. A couple of people really enjoyed it – someone asked if we had a CD, and I directed him to this website, so if you’re reading this now, thank you! A CD is in the planning stages, follow @sillymrhawkins on Twitter if you want to be kept up to date with news.

Respectable money in the bucket. We went out for a drink, and I reflected that whoever had warmed up would’ve struggled. Despite his thinking otherwise, Raph did a good job tonight. Two more to go; it’s always a lottery but I have my fingers crossed we can go out on a high.

    Everything is Purple
    5-25 August (not 14 or 21) at 22.10
    Venue 63 – The Dragonfly, West Port
    PBH free fringe



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