Today I took a day completely off work because after filming the double of ETHOS on Sunday, I woke up to a six hour meeting on Monday followed by MCing Old Rope Monday night. On the bus home, a couple of people came up to chat with me, and I realised I was bordering on total burnout.
So, today off. Tomorrow filming all my answers to your questions. But as a form of apology, I did engage in a few nice twitter chats today, which I think are worth excerpting the interesting bits of below.
I've edited them out of twitter-length brevity and expanded where I think it's interesting to do so.
QUESTION: WHY IS THE GAMBLER SONG STILL IN MY HEAD
I've had variations of this feedback before, from people who have seen ETHOS, and it's as follows:
@charknowlez says: Went to see @aliterative’s brilliant show Ethos on Sunday and now I cannot get her version of The Gambler out of my head.
ANSWER: If it helps, the ear-worminess is a deliberate side effect. As I say in the show, I *never* do covers. I think of them as lazy songwriting, and I've seen enough bad musical comedians do bad covers to rapturous applause that I'm a bit snobbily against them. We used to do them in the Law Revue sketch shows at university, and the fun of them for me was to keep as many of the original rhymes or words as possible, but have them completely reframed by the changes.
This one came to me as a sticky idea that I dismissed. Then it kept coming back (like an earworm). So I decided to do it, against my normal principles because I thought I could do something interesting with it.
The Gambler is a super catchy song, and I deliberately wrote fairly simple lyrics (as compared to my normal song style), because I wanted to be able to do that bit at club nights in the middle of nowhere and have hyper-masculine blokes humming a consent anthem the next day.
QUESTION: CONSENT IN YOUR SHOWS
David May asked: I’ve been thinking a lot about how you gain audience consent within your shows.
My answer: I sort of had to do it for Savage to work because it’s such a sneaky trick of a show. There's no jokes about serious stuff in Savage. I just did it by feel - by telling enough jokes that I felt like I'd built up some credit, and then spending that credit on the next raw piece of feeling. It's a sort of consent balance - in the way that you might non-verbally negotiate a make-out session by changing the lead.
Then I became interested in articulating this back and forth balance as a sort of consent and developed it as an overt structural conceit in The Resistance & Empire.
Partly because when people explicitly agree to something uncomfortable, they’ve invested some self-image in not recoiling or rejecting. I read a study somewhere about persuasive rhetoric being more effective when you ask someone whether they're a particular kind of person, and if they say they are, then you relate the thing you're trying to convince them to do or believe to that idea of themselves.
So if they say they are up for tragedy, or discomfort, then they are actually more likely to be up for it. From a consent perspective, if you show someone that the exit is open, they feel safer being in the room.
I do want people to have the choice, AND ask themselves the question.
In a more practical way, we're in a world now where a lot of people get angry about comedy that makes them uncomfortable, or isn't what they 'signed up for' or expected.
A lot of public comedy backlashes I see from audiences fold a power relationship that doesn’t exist over the one that does exist. Reminding the audience that it’s a consensual power exchange *game* is a nice way to do as much to head off deliberate or accidental outrage triggerings as possible.
QUESTION: YOU SEEM TO BE VERY OPEN TO ENGAGING WITH YOUR FANS
First, I'm a little uncomfortable calling the people who like my work fans, as I don't think of myself as a brand. It's one of the reasons I do so many different kinds of work - because we're all complicated people who use different voices in different spaces, and I don't want to be a larger than life character. I want to be myself, more or less.
When it comes to engaging with the people who like my work, I do like doing that, and it’s mainly a result of the fact that most of the feedback I get (even on twitter!!!) is very positive and thoughtful.
On the rare occasions it’s not positive, it's still usually thoughtful.
If I do at any point start getting lots of malicious reductiveness, deliberate de-contextualising, a sense that someone or a group of people are using me as a proxy for an idea they hate rather than talking to me as a person, I’ll disengage.
I'm also pretty liberal with the block button when I see people attacking my colleagues, so as far as I'm concerned, there are a whole bunch of people who attack people like me who will never know I exist.
Thanks for the questions, and there will be more video answers tomorrow!