Chris Addison: My technology

The stand-up comedian talks about the freedom his wireless mike gives to his act.
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Comedians traditionally use hand-held microphones, but I really like the freedom of a tie mike. A few years ago, I was on a television programme where the producers thought that tie mikes would set the show apart. The stand-up comics thought it was madness, but because I am quite physical on stage it improved my physical expression. I look like a mad ostrich, which isn't good in my personal life but is quite helpful as a comedian.

Comedians traditionally use hand-held microphones, but I really like the freedom of a tie mike. A few years ago, I was on a television programme where the producers thought that tie mikes would set the show apart. The stand-up comics thought it was madness, but because I am quite physical on stage it improved my physical expression. I look like a mad ostrich, which isn't good in my personal life but is quite helpful as a comedian.

I then bought one for last years' show in Edinburgh. The rooms there are so small that holding a microphone looks slightly odd. But when I tried performing without one, I was shouting myself hoarse within two shows. Then the stage manager borrowed a tie mike, and I realised that it's a really good compromise. I've always thought that when there's a row of three chairs the stand-up mike looks surplus.

That said, the stand-up mike is an icon for comedy, and it's like power in your hand. Without it the comedian is exposed.

It's not just about me adjusting, but the audience as well. More comedians seem to be using tie mikes now, though they can be notoriously unreliable. I usually get a technician giving me a doleful expression because he thinks the mike will receive taxi messages mid-show.

It's always good to adapt - in life that's a fairly good rule. But using a tie mike stood me in good stead when it came to presenting on television. I'd already adjusted to feeling more exposed. But anyone who'd commission a show on condition of expertise with a tie mike would probably be the maddest television executive in a world of pretty mad television executives.

From the start of Dot Comedy I was very involved. It was all very carefully researched, for instance the "naming and shaming" victims were set up by so-called friends- I can't even begin to tell you how many e-mails we had from people wanting to do this to their mates. I would die. I've got huge amounts of furniture porn - Living etc, Good Homes - that I gaze at aspiringly. I'd instantly be exposed as a materialistic, shallow fraud.

I started using the internet about five years ago, when it was three pages about Bill Gates and Prince. I always felt that I was doing something useful, but looking back I was largely wasting time and running up huge phone bills. The actual material or spiritual gain or gain in terms of knowledge probably approximates nothing.

But there are lots of things nowadays that are great. We already take e-mail for granted. Just this morning I picked up a message from my brother who's travelling in Bolivia. I think instant messaging is brilliant and the ability to download streaming video will be huge. The shopping is also great - I used the internet to order my brother a book two days before his birthday to arrive by mail-order in Bolivia.

As far as technology being material for comedy, I don't think geek humour has much steam left. But looking at the foibles of something is part of assimilating it. In theory, the great thing about the internet is that it is an exercise in free speech. You can imagine the diversity of the human race coming out. But I am constantly surprised not by how diverse it is rather that people are interested in almost any conceivable combination of things. Within a day you can find a site about people who collect urine in jam jars or a well-orchestrated campaign to save the Nevada Desert cactus.

But that's the point, isn't it? If you use something that basically accesses the minds of other people or what they want you to know, then there will be something that you don't want to know.

Chris Addison's Edinburgh Festival show 'Cakes and Ale' is at the Pleasance Upstairs, 7.30pm, through to 28 August.

Comments