About a decade ago, I was sitting on a beach in Italy. I'd done a gig there, and, as part of my deal, managed to wrangle a few extra days at the hotel, so that me and my wife could have a bit of a holiday. I'm not rich, have to continuously struggle to accurately describe exactly what I do well enough to get good work, but I'd be a liar if I didn't say that occasionally my job has peachy perks. Good burlesque name there, by the way. Peachy Perks.
I'd just started to get into podcasts, and had downloaded a bunch of something called “Jordan, Jesse, Go!” to try, after a haphazard chain of googling had led me to their doorstep. I loved it immediately. Now here's the thing, if you look at the stats, 84.12% of all podcasts are two white guys who assume they're naturally hilarious, sitting opposite each other, just talking for an hour or so. All of them are awful. It's astonishing that iTunes doesn't have a category labelled “Just, y'know, dudes who aren't as funny as they think”. Can only be a matter of time. But Jordan and Jesse were different. Genuinely funny, but also warm, smart, silly, and genuine.
I ended up spending a generous percentage of my time on that holiday, laying on the beach, earpods in, quietly giggling to myself. By the end of the week, part of my brains screensaver had become humming the theme tune to myself. I returned home from Italy, tanned, fatter, and a fan of Jordan and Jesse.
Over the intervening years I kept listening. They introduced me to more smart, sweet, fascinating people who I also became fans of – John Hodgman, Jean Grae, Paul F Tompkins. Often, in my career, I struggle with not being mainstream, not being easily categorised into the compartments people already know, and occasionally confusing that with feelings of failure. The more I listened to Jordan and Jesse, the more I discovered others who I felt I might have that in common with. People, like Jesse himself, who are savvy independent makers, happy to work outside the mainstream and find ways to make a living out of their own creative work. People who saw their idiosyncrasies as a selling point to be capitalised on, rather than a glitch that prevents one from popularism.
Jordan, Jesse Go! And many of the other great podcasts that Jesse's company, Maximum Fun, make continued to entertain and inspire me. Over the years, as I'd daydream, while listening to them on trains to gigs, and sometimes back on that Italian beach, I'd sometimes allow myself to gently fantasize about what it would be like to be on the show as a guest. Certain, of course, that it'd never happen. But we're allowed to imagine, right?
And then, a couple of months ago, I was in Los Angeles, performing a short residency at The Magic Castle in Hollywood (Which still does not, and never will, sound like an actual place that you can actually go to, in real life), and, somehow, thanks to the internet, and what I can only assume was a clerical error involving Star Trek Voyager actor Robert Picardo, Jesse invited me to come on the show.
So I did. Off to McArthur park we went. Got there early to have a gorgeous lunch at Langer's Deli, which included a large pickle, with potato salad, which was actually and genuinely one of the most delicious things I have ever put in my mouth. Then a stroll over to the Maximum Fun studios, and.. it happened.
When you're a freelance showbiz schmuck like me, you mark your career by putting little mental bookmarks in moments. A life spent doing what I do has ups and downs, so you make a little folder in your mind, of memories to go back to when things are more down than up. Personal and professional achievements – things you can point at and say to yourself “Remember when I did that? That was something”. Well, that's what this was. A moment to bookmark for myself. A way of showing myself, on my less shiny days, a distance travelled. It was something.
Everyone was fucking delightful. My nerves evaporated, pretty quickly, and it seemed to go ok. I won't listen back to it, because I'd only hear the missteps – you know how us broken performers are – but I know that I had fun, and sometimes said things that made these two guys, Jordan and Jesse, that I had started laughing at a decade or so ago, laugh at me. That's a win, right? Right.
Also, that pickle was dope as hell.
Aaaaand...if you're around London, you can - and should - come to LONDON'S LIVE VARIETY CLUB - the West End variety show that I host and curate - next show is 18th of April and you can get more info and book tickets, RIGHT HERE!