Thursday, 15 October 2009

An evening with Pat Sharp & the twins

I left them with a joke
All the way back in July an email came through my electronic letterbox with details of an Xbox game launch. Not really standard Hecklerspray fare, but at the heart of it was an opportunity to interview Pat Sharp and the twins from Fun House.

Nothing about the choice of Pat Sharp to promote 1 vs. 100 made sense. The Xbox publicity woman at the event described their ideal celebrity; someone who embodied the spirit of quiz shows, the quintessential question master. Surely Bob Holness or Henry Kelly even? No, Pat Sharp (and the twins).

As the day of the launch drew nearer, two things bothered me. The first was that I was struggling to come up with ‘material’ to quiz him with. I was all too aware of Adam Buxton’s definitive Ken Korda interview with Pat, and wanted to ensure that my questions and style didn’t overlap. Not really an easy task when Adam & Joe were such a big comedy influence when I was growing up. The second was that I wasn’t quite sure how insufferable and offensive he was going to be on meeting. I’d heard stories from friends who’d met him at one of his various university student union appearances and found him to be a little more lecherous than one might hope, and none too pleasant.

Fortunately I eventually conjured lots of questions, a couple of which I crowd sourced from Twitter. By far the most popular was “Did you ever have sex with the twins?” I should have anticipated that one. As they old cliché goes, sex sells.

I arrived at the studios in Covent Garden at my most self assured and calm. Not something I experience often it has to be said, regrettably. PR bodies were standing at the entrance and remembered me from email correspondence. Everyone in PR has a knack for giving you the impression that you are valued and thought of highly, this should be treated with a suitable level of scepticism.

Unbeknown to me, all of the attendees had to take part in a game of 1 vs. 100, with the promise of some sort of prize. My first question was about Desperate Housewives, I proceeded to get it wrong. The twins, who were keeping score, cunningly blurted out the answer to the second question. But due to my lack of US drama knowledge it was too late for me and I was out.
The PR inviteConsuming free alcohol is the most reliable way to conceal the fact that you are standing alone from yourself when it is patently obvious that everyone else is in a group. I attempted to speak to a couple of people, and I was pleasantly surprised by the manner of at least one of them. Unfortunately I haven’t spoken to either since; such was the strength of the bond.

The interview was moved forward to earlier in the evening. My prior calmness and confidence was bolstered by the alcohol. Not only was I borderline drunk, but somewhat shamefully, teetering on cocky. I had plenty of questions in my pocket and the guy I’d been chatting to was present in the waiting area. He was a surprisingly effective source of passive support. I should probably tell him that some day.

I walked into what looked like a cross between a hotel room and a hairdressing venue, that’ll be a dressing room then. Pat and the twins were quick to jump up and welcome me, kindness is something which only makes what I try to do, and the persona I try to adopt, more difficult. Blocking out my conscience and creating a thicker mask are definitely skills I need to develop.

Slightly perturbed, I started with my regular questions and moved onto topics that I hope are perceived by viewers to be slightly humorous. While well prepared questions can provoke an interesting response from the interviewee, I found it is the wit and quick tongue of the interviewer which provides the best broadcast material. Using this interview as an example, when Pat replies to one of my fictitious Wikipedia facts he suggests that he is “immental.” I appear to summon all of the disdain at my disposal and objectively state that ‘immental’ isn’t a word. There’s something to be said for good dead pan delivery. Maybe you had to be there.

The second time the PR woman announced that my slot had concluded I wrapped the interview up. It remains to be my favourite interview so far, it was even pretty well received which is a nice bonus. One must take feedback with a pinch of salt; if there’s anything I’ve learnt from comments sections on various websites and Paul Carr’s war on internet anonymity it is that it’s best to ignore people who bookend posts and articles with their thoughts. It is a better idea still to refrain from engaging with them, unless that mask is firmly attached of course.

Go have a look at the video over at the place where it is.

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