Tuesday, 8 January 2008

The Old Curiosity shop

Last night saw the recording of the first episode proper of The Museum Of Curiosity at the Pleasance Islington. I went along with fellow Comedybox troopers Bob and Ben, not actually knowing much of what to expect. The show's being co-produced by Dan Schreiber, whose also my immediate boss at Comedybox.

It's a great conceit for a show actually, being a spin-off of sorts for QI, whose producer John Lloyd is chairing here. Not your classic radio panel game, The Museum works as a kind of Room 101 in reverse, for heavy weight intellectuals. John chairs the whole thing with Klingon musical genius and comic leviathon Bill Bailey as co-presenter and comic foil. The panel's made up of three brainy-types who each suggest an item (real, conceptual or non-existant) of curious and interesting value to be placed into the 'Museum'. The panelists wax lyrical on their various disciplines, and John tries to keep the whole thing on topic, and Bill tries to keep it funny.

It's a brave idea actually. This isn't a straight comedy show, although it was in places very funny. No was it a debate show, a science forum and a lecture, though occasionally felt like all three. Much like Badiels Heresy, it's a show that could go in any direction. I'll be very interested to see what comes out of the edit, and where the emphasis will be placed.

Afterwards Bob and I chatted briefly with guest Dr Jonathon Miller, a man of such mind-blasting knowledge that any and all people in the immediate area imediantly feel childish and thick. I certainly did. He gives the impression of tolerating you, not in an impolite way, just with the air that he probably would have better things to think about, but right now he'll alot part of his huge brain to pay attention to you. Of course I wanted to talk about Peter Cook, Beyond The Fringe and the Secret Policemans Ball, but kept pretty schtum as he was happier to talk about biology and how Autism has become a trendy subject. I felt I could bring something to this, but held back as I had the impression everything I could possibly mention will already have been pulled apart in that old mans brain. Someone I felt glad to have met, even if I couldn't get over the fact he looks a bit like Anton Egon in Ratatouille.

Equally I was glad to finally meet John Lloyd, who is essential to the Comedybox project, but whom I haven't met. When talking to someone like John it's difficult to switch your brain from all the things you immediatly associate with them. The fact that I have been able to quote huge parts of Black Adder Goes Forth since I was about 10 and played George in a school assembly version of the final episode when I was 14. The fact that I know Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy inside out. But you don't mention these things, you concentrate instead on the conversation in hand, you try to sound like you know what you're doing, and you try desperatly to not drink too much.

A curious night.

I believe the first episode of The Museum of Curiosity comes to Radio 4 in Febuary. I'll keep you posted.

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