Getting Started Part 2

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I finally got to a part 2.  Yeah. Just some thoughts for people trying to or just starting to do stand-up comedy. They may be a part 3 if this one makes a 100 million at the box office.

The easiest way to get gigs is to go to gigs.

Showing up meeting the promoter, hanging around getting to know the other stand-ups. The conveyor belt of comedy being what it is, there always be a bunch of new people starting around the same time as you do. You’ll stick together with these people because you’ll see each other all the time at the shitty gigs for new people (You’ll see me there too.) Having a group makes it easier especially if you shy (like me).

Introduce yourself.

Not just to the promoter, or other comedies. I mean the audience. I see new acts do this all the time. They come on stage and think that everyone knows them.
What your name, where you’re from, how big is your cock/clit? maybe not the last one.
You may know who you are but the crowd doesn’t. I have seen people tear into stuff that might work if the crowd knew a bit more about the person. Imagine watching a sitcom where all the gags are based just knowing the history of the characters. (Pretty much every sitcom after season 3.)

Repeat, Repeat and Repeat.

I hear this all time from newer acts. About doing “new” sets all the time. After doing their material for a month or something.  Unless you’re doing improv it’s completely ok to do the same material. Once it working of course. Comedy is a craft. It’s about doing it over and over again. Figuring out what is funny, how to say it, pauses etc. Focus on building a solid five minute then seven minutes and so on.

Set Goals.

Your main goal is to get better of course but set little ones along the way to motivate yourself. Some of the mine when I started out:
To do 100 gigs in my first year. I knew the only way to get better was by doing gigs so I set myself the target of a 100. I made it to 83 in my first year.
To gig in another country. I did this fairly early on by doing one in Northern Ireland. Yeah I know it’s kinda cheating since it’s only up the road but it is another country you Fenian bastard.

Here a list of places you can go when starting off:

Battle of the Axe.  The ha’penny bridge inn, 42 wellington quay temple bar.
Tuesday & Thursday from 9.30 pm. Contact: battleoftheaxe@hotmail.com 
There is a least a 3-month waiting list to get on. Mention your new and can bring a crowd of people it might help speed it up.

Cherry Comedy. Whelan’s Bar, Dublin. Monday nights from 9.00 pm.
Contact: via the Facebook page. The lads are pretty sound about getting new people on but of course, there is a waiting list.

Jesters. The Front Door, 15 Dame Street. Wednesday night from 8.00 pm.
Contact: via the Facebook page or sign up on the night. Jester is a bit different. You can sign up in advance or on the night (Space is limited do) and you have to stay for the whole show. Everyone gets 5 minutes but the audience is mostly made up of other stand-ups.

There are a few more places. Contact me on Twitter on @SlumberingJ if you want to know them.

Catch me at The Battle of the Axe. March 9 as I MC the show.

 

 

Beckett List

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Rob Beckett: Mouth of the South.
The Olympia Theatre.
Sunday, February 5th.

I’m sure you have seen Rob Beckett on various T.V. shows. “8 out of 10 cats”, “Mock the Week” & “Prisoner Cell Block H”.  His funny enough on these shows and I thought might as well go see him. If for nothing else I can write a blog about it. (This blog is now costing me money, thanks.)

I went to the box office an hour before the show to pick up my pre-booked tickets. As I was getting them, in walked Rob Beckett. He was asking the box office staff how to get into the venue and ask me was I buying tickets to his show.

I said, “there are loads left, selling them at half price.” We both laughed and he offered me V.I.P tickets to show. I also hung out with him after the show and he brought me on as his support act for the rest of the tour. We also fell in love and bought our first dog together and called him whopper (In-joke between us).

Well, that might happen if I had said anything. I stood there like a dweeb star struck over someone who’s not famous enough to be on “I’m a celebrity get me out of here.” God know what would happen if I ever meet Will Smith. I probably combust.

The show was in the Olympia theatre. For as long as I can remember every time you buy a ticket you get charged an extra one euro to go to the restoration fund for the Olympia.
I have been going here years and the place still looks exactly the same. I assume this one euro extra fee is going to the mangers whores account.

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Thanks to the 1 euro donation per ticket we manage to paint the wall in the corner. Also, I a bought a new BMW.

The support act was Karl Spain. An Irish comedian who’s been on the go for years. I have been lucky enough to see and support Karl over the years. He started by doing a bit of crowd work. It didn’t really seem to go that well.  Karl finished with a story. Sadly it’s story he told on T.V. a few times over the years (The one about being a kid in the bathtub and his sister’s friends pulling his mickey). He finished with a whimper but onto the headline act.

Rob comes out and straight away a whole row of people stood up and walked out. (they were going to the toilet but come on, could that not be done during Karl?.) Rob went straight into crowd work. I’m not sure if it was the venue or the crowd. But chatting to the audience was not working tonight and Rob did a lot of it. When he got to this material there so much chatting and moving from the audience the gig was more like a Laughter Lounge show.

For Those that don’t know. The Laughter Lounge is the like the Irish version of the Jongleurs comedy club. If you don’t know either of them is basically a rowdy comedy night in a big room that’s let Stag/Hen parties in. Filled with non-comedy fans just looking for a night out.

Which not what you want after you pay thirty euro to watch a show. Things got worse in the second half. A drunk loud dickhead who was near us just shouted out “Dentist” at Rob. Because Rob has big teeth this person thought it would be funny to say Dentist to Rob and nothing else.  I think this show’s the level of intelligence this person has.

I can blame some of the shortcomings of the gig on the lack of atmosphere and audience behaviour but some of it rest on Mr Beckett shoulders also. There was too much crowd interaction that went nowhere and his material was good but not great.

All in all a three out of five-star show.

If you disagree or were that dickhead who shouted “Dentist” please contact me
@SlumberingJ on twitter.

Catch me live when I MC the Battle of the Axe on March 9. The ha’penny bar, Dublin from 9 pm.

Getting Started. Part 1.

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It’s been six years ago this Month that I started to do stand-up comedy. When I started I knew nothing about the comedy scene. I didn’t know about clubs, or how long “sets” where.  It was only thanks to doing a comedy workshop that I manage to do my first gig.

I googled the internet for any advice, especially on the Irish comedy scene. I only came across two pieces that dealt with the Irish circuit.

The first one being Gerry McBride blog, No Punchline.

He hasn’t updated it in years. But when I started it was still pretty new. I read the blog over and over again and when I finally got to meet Gerry (Who’s very nice) it felt like I knew him and had a million things I wanted to ask him but was too shy to say anything. I probably came across like a big loser freak. To be fair I come across like that to most people do.

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The main point I took from it was how much driving I had ahead of me. I wish I bought a sat nav there and then. It might help me that time I was driving back from the north and went around the same section three times trying to find the way back home. Taking my journey time from three hours to back spasming inducing five hour trip.

You can also see what an influence it’s is on this blog. Here is the link:
https://nopunchline.wordpress.com/

The other being Boards.ie stand up section.

It’s mostly crap and not much happens on it. It’s only good if you worship whichever American stand up is coming over this month and if you want a free ticket to the Lounge Lounge every now and again.

But there is one helpfully post by Robbie Bonham.  His rules for doing stand up. Written six years ago but still true today.
Here is the link:
http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2055381768

Part 2 of this will be me sticking down my do’s & don’t.
I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m great. So here is a story about the time I was a big idiot.

Back when I started off doing comedy. I rarely got to spend much time in Dublin. I would finish my then job at five 0’clock.
Go home eat/shower/cry and then drive the hour and a half to the gig.
Rock/Die at the gig (Most times it’s somewhere in the middle) and then go home to be up early for work next day.

One time I had gig during a day off. I decided to enjoy it. I left for Dublin early. Was going to eat out, look around, go to one of those facny Dublin Cinemas. (They put melted butter on the popcorn). I even parked my car in a car park. (I been known to park  twenty-thirty minutes walk from the gig to save on parking costs.)

I was hungry after my drive up. Went straight to Pizza hut to get the buffet and looked into my wallet to realise I left my bank card at home. I had only enough money on me to pay for the food and the parking charges. I left straight away and drove the hour and a half back to Offaly. I got to the toll. I had no money left. I had to explain it all to the toll booth attendant who seemed annoyed that I was taking him away from fiddling on his phone.
I had to give him  my details and say I pay the amount later on.

I got back to Offaly, got my card and then straight into the now two and a half hour drive back to Dublin (traffic). After all that the gig was pulled due to no crowd.
Advice: Always make sure you have money with you (Sound like an Irish Mammy now…Don’t forget to keep your phone charged as well.) On the plus side, I never paid that toll. That’s 3 euro for me and 3, 756 euros to them.

As you can see by my other blog posts I have started many parts 1’s and never gotten around to Part 2 (It’s February, I think we can say part 2 of my 2016 round up not ging to happen.)

Part 2 will come, If I don’t do it, you can call me out on Twitter @SlumberingJ

March 9th I will be MC’ing the legendary Battle of the Axe, in The Happeney Bridge, Dublin City Centre. Please come. I get a cut of the door and I like to eat food that week.

Die Hardy

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Comedy competitions. I entered many and never won one. At least I’m consistent.

You may ask why do I keep entering them?  I see winning a competition as validation of all
the work I’ve done these past six years and as a way to help me move forward in comedy. As I’m currently stuck in a corner like that guy at the end of the Blair With Project.

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On the 12th of January, I walked into the Harbour bar in Bray, Co. Wicklow. It’s home to a monthly comedy club called “The Hardy Har”.

The previous January, at The Hardy Har, I entered the same competition. I lost that one. Here I was a year later in the same club, doing the same competition. That’s what you call progression.

I finished work at 9 and was heading straight over to the gig. I informed the promoter (who was also the MC) that I won’t be there till ten o’clock. There was some sort of mix-up do. I was put on first and apparently, there was a panic when the show started and I was not there. A very funny new comic called Richard Bree went on first instead. I arrived at 9.40. So despite showing up 20 minutes early, I was still somehow “late”.

I was a little annoyed by this. It may sound silly but even do I’m an amateur comedian (The word amateur doesn’t go down well with some people.  It seems the only time people like the word amateur is when it’s in porn.) I like to be professional.

I always strive to show up on time & not to cancel gigs unless I have too. Once I drove with a really bad flu to a gig. Having to pull over the side of the road to throw up. Only to get to the gig for only six people to be there. Who all probably got the flu off me. Great night for everyone that was.

I was now on last. There was ten acts in total and a guest headliner. Being on last could be good or bad.

Good: Since one act got through by crowd vote being on last meant you had a better chance of being remembered.

Bad: being on last means the crowd might be burnt out and you get a lukewarm reaction.

The number ninth act was my good friend Johnny Graham. Johnny is from Co. Offaly (Where I’m from) but he moved to Galway years ago. (The sell out).

Johnny did great as always, his high energy, off the cuff style, went down a treat. Me being the more low key I knew I would have to give the crowd a chance to get into my style. Which is tough as I only had five minutes.

As I was walking up to the stage the MC had asked a girl to stand up and go crazy to inject some energy into the crowd as I came on stage. For this lady standing up was a problem and she fell over and being at the side of the crowd she fell right into me as I was walking up. I helped her back to her seat but the crowd was laughing and distracted by this. I spent 30 seconds talking to the girl and trying to get the focus back on the show.

I started with some material that I was going to finish with as it kinda tied into my interaction with the girl. I finished right on the 5-minute mark.

Coming off I had done well but I knew I didn’t do well enough. I didn’t get judge, crowd or wildcard vote.

I keep thinking back if had been a normal gig. The girl falling over would have been a gift and I would easily take the piss out of her for a few minutes. But with it being a competition and only having five minutes I decided to stick to my set. Who knows if messing around with the girl would have gotten me the win. Probably not. But this is the stuff that goes around in head when you can’t sleep that night and know you got a twelve-hour shift in work the next day to look forward too.

You can see me headline “Dropout Comedy” in Dundalk. On February 15.
https://www.facebook.com/DropoutComedy/?fref=ts

Catch Johnny Graham & Bob Hennigan host “Ireland’s Smallest Comedy Club” every Thursday night in Co. Galway at the Dew Drop Inn.
https://www.facebook.com/Irelandssmallestcomedyclub/?fref=ts

Check out Hardy Har Comedy Club at the Harbour Bar in Bray, Co. Wicklow at the end of every month.
https://www.facebook.com/HardyHarComedyClub/?fref=ts

Also, check out the link for Bray Comedy Festival at the end of February:
http://www.braycomedyfest.ie/index.html

 

Januray/February Comedy Shows.

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I was scanning the comedy gig listings and saw the unreal level of top notch comedy shows coming up. I decided to do a quick list of the shows you should go see.  I have listed them in chronology order. Let’s kick off with:

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Jan 9. Duane Duggan & Niall Farrell: One for the Road. Whelan’s.

Duane & Niall are pretty new to the comedy circuit but in their short time, they played all the major Irish comedy festivals and establish one of the best comedy clubs in “Pop the Cherry” at Whelan’s on Monday nights. This is their last show before they head off to join ISIS and fight the western overlords. Or there going to live in England for a bit.
I forget which one they told me there doing.

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Jan 20. Emman Idama: E-man of the house. Whelan’s.

You might have seen Emman (Called E-man by his friends) on those end of year shows on RTE. “Here someone from Fair City talking about Brexit.” His easily one of the funniest on those shows and recently featured on the Des Bishop “This is Ireland” programme.
In the past few years, he’s worked incredibly hard (Gigging everywhere) and making it to the finals all the major comedy competitions in the U.K. & Ireland. It’s all been leading up to his first solo show.

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Jan 22. Alison Spittle: Discovers Hawaii. Whelan’s.

You might recall me mentioning Alison show in my Edinburgh preview guide. I didn’t make it to the show as it was sold out while I was in Edinburgh. That should tell you something, having sold out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival it’s harder than making a good film based on a video game. “Tetris: The Movie. The Blocks are Back.”
The show already has great review’s and is well road tested. Catch (as far as I know) the only Irish performance of it.

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Feb 5. Rob Becket: Live. Olympia Theatre.

The first person on the list who I don’t know personally. But we could still become friends, right? I sent him 100 e-mails & private messages, I’m sure he’ll get back to me soon.
You might have seen Rob on his numerous T.V. appearances like “8 out of 10 cats” & “Mock the week”. He’s also probably done T.V. that none of us would watch, like:
“Chanel 5 When Pets Fall Over.” or “ITV 2 When Junkies Attack”.

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Feb 9/10. Edwin Sammon Vs Cancer. Whelan’s.

I have been lucky enough to be on the same bill as Edwin many times over the years. Just recently we did a gig in Mountmellick (It’s like Middle Earth but they have the internet and a chip shop.)
I got a taste of this show that night & can attest how good it is. Ed is one of the most well regard comedians on the circuit and recently his profile has been raised due to his work on “Republic of Telly” & “Bridget & Eamon”.

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Feb 18. Billy Connolly: High Horse. 3 Arena.

I don’t have to say anything about Billy Connoly. A legend in stand-up comedy. At 74 his already sold the 3 Arena out for two dates, Feb 16/17. This Friday (06/01) tickets go on sale for the third and final date at the 3 Arena. Expect another sellout.

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Feb 19. John Colleary: Live. Whelan’s.

John has co-written and starred in “The Savage Eye” & “Irish Pictorial Weekly”. Again I been lucky enough to be on the same shows as John and can say how good he is. Easily one of the best in the country. If you go to the show based on my recommendation and don’t like it, you can come punch me in the face afterwards.

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Feb 22-26. Russel Howard: Round the world. Vicar Street.

This is my 14-year-old nephew favourite comedian and yes that’s including me. I don’t even make his top ten.
If you love him and his upbeat life is good style comedy go see his show. If you hate him don’t go to his show. You’ll have an awful time.
I mean why would you buy a ticket for someone you don’t like? you mad bastard.

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Feb 26. Stuart Goldsmith: Compared to what. Whelan’s.

Stuart has appeared on loads of T.V. shows but if you’re really into your comedy you probably know him best via his podcast, The Comedian’s Comedian, where he interviews major figures in the stand-up scene. We shared a venue in Edinburgh and he was always lovely. It did get awkward sometimes as the bucket for his shows was filled with notes from the crowd who loved him and my bucket was empty with only my tears and broken dreams in it.

Here are the links to the venues to buy tickets to any of these shows. If you have read this far please go to one or as many as you can. Stand-up comedy doesn’t work without a crowd. I should know I done plenty of gigs to four people. The more you support live comedy the better. Don’t forget to also check out some weekly comedy clubs. I post links to a couple of them below.

http://www.whelanslive.com/

http://www.olympia.ie/

http://www.vicarstreet.com/

http://www.ticketmaster.ie/Billy-Connolly-tickets/artist/744104

and some weekly comedy clubs to check out:

http://battleoftheaxe.com/

http://www.theinternationalcomedyclub.com/

You can catch me at the Hardy Har comedy club, in Bray Co. Wicklow on January 12.
As for the 100 time I enter a comedy competition with the hopes of finally winning one.

Follow me on twitter @SlumberingJ

Highlights & Poorly dyed roots. Part One.

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It’s the end of the year. I got to work nights & it’s Christmas. I’m banging out a year in review style post.

Best Gig:

Battle of The superheroes. Edinburgh Fringe Festival. August 2016:

Battle of The superheroes is a show where four stand up’s pick a superhero and fight over who is the best. I was up against Batman, Superman & Iron Man. I went with Nightwing. For those that don’t know, Nightwing is Dick Grayson. Batman former sidekick who got sick of dressing like a peado’s wet dream as Robin and then decide to dress in all black leather like a sex gimp.

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The format was simple. We all had five minutes each to talk about why our hero was the best. Then a Q&A section with the crowd. Whoever the audience liked the most would win. I felt I had no chance with Nightwing and was really worried people won’t even know who he was.

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Those poor kids. I spent most of my five minutes talking about how much Nightwing gets laid.

The guy representing Superman took himself out early as he was as boring as Superman Returns. Iron Man was out next. He said Tony Stark was just like Donald Trump. Great way to turn the crowd against you.

Next was Batman, represented by Doug. Who is a huge Batman fan. He has a Batman tattoo, changed his middle name to Wayne and had a Batman theme to his wedding.
Doug was very confident he was going to win. It came down between me and him in the Q&A section.

During the Q&A at times, Doug and I would become Batman & Nightwing and answer the questions as if we were them. Batman & Nightwing have a Father & Son type relationship. Things got strange as I attacked Doug for being a bad father (Throwing in my real life angry at my father in there). Doug was thrown off by my outburst and apologised for not being a better father. (If only this would happen in real life.) With that, I managed to win the battle for my superhero Nightwing. (Who doesn’t have any superpowers.)

I never won any comedy competitions and when I finally did it had nothing to do with my material but talking about what a sexy ass Dick Grayson has.

 

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None of these people is me.

 

Worst Book Signing of the year:

The Stand Comedy Club. Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 2016

I managed to get tickets to Stewart Lee work in progress show at the Stand Comedy Club.
Last year I went to his work in progress show at the assembly rooms. It was huge room and was pretty far back but it was a wonderful show doing over an hour with no breaks. It was great seeing his process played out live as he went through the new stuff.

Being in The Stand a smaller room, I was even more excited seeing him work up close.
Stewart was also doing a signing for his new book “Content Provider” after the show.

It being a work in progress show there was a lot of stuff that didn’t work and it seems to really rattle Stewart. This was one of the first shows in his month-long run of working on new stuff for his nationwide tour in 2017. He would comment on how much it wasn’t working and went back to older stuff to close the show, which ended a bit early.

He came back to do the book signing at the exit of the club. He was clearly flustered by how the show went. When he asked my name, I said John, but he got it wrong. I have a very thick accent and was a bit nervous. I said it again but he still got it wrong. I said it again and he went (A bit annoyed):

“So it’s Jan? J A N? Right?”.

I just said yeah as it was getting awkward he clearly wanted to go home and cry.
Here is my signed copy of the book from one of my comedy hero’s:

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Part 2 will have the bad stuff from 2016 you negative people.
Come talk to me on twitter @SlumberingJ as I’m lonely at Christmas time.

Here a clip of me doing stand up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIUMpinRGlY

The Comedy Christmas Book Guide.

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Christmas is coming up. You know someone who likes stand-up comedy or who is even an amateur stand-up comedian. You think:

“I’m really lame. I know there kinda into this. Maybe I should buy them a book connected to the thing they like, cause I can’t do gift vouchers because everyone knows that what you get somebody if you don’t really care enough, but a book makes me look somewhat caring, functioning human being. ”

The best book (That I read) about the process of writing stand-up comedy is:

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No wrong Blog. This is the book you’re after:

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I started stand-up comedy at the age of 27 back in 2011. This book came out around the same time. I have always been a fan of Stewart Lee and found this book fascinating as he picks apart his set from his comeback shows and talks about his time in the wilderness when he stopped doing stand-up.

This book goes into the process of making a routine, the practise, hard work and sheer uncertainty of it all.

I found this way more inspiring than the “how to do” comedy books where they tell you to end a joke with “Then I woke up on the bus” punchline. Even if don’t enjoy Lee’s work but are interested in the mechanics of stand-up, I’m sure you’ll get something out of this book. But if you don’t it’s not my problem and I’m not going to do anything about it.

Now for something completely different:

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This is for those that want to be the arena busting stand up in your life. I read most of the big name stand up comedian books. They all fall into the same trap. Mostly about their boring lives before doing stand up . It filled with this type of stuff:
“My Da used to make me dress as a Lizard”, “I thought I be a coal miner forever” & “That when I found out what a daisy chain really was”. By the way, all those quotes are just from Nina Conti’s  autobiography.

Even Peter first book (The sound of Laughter) did this. But this book is all the good stuff. The awful gigs, the failures, set back’s and then becoming the biggest comedian in England and then going off the boil. The book doesn’t talk about that last part. I just added it on as I’m trying to be sassy. (Snaps fingers.)

The one that got away:

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A couple of years ago. I was at the big Irish comedy festival (The cat laughs).
There was a special show done by Sky where they showcased some new comedy shorts. Some of the people in front & behind the camera were there to talk about the shorts they worked on.

Johnny Vegas was one of them. The moderator opened the floor to questions from the audience. There was an awkward silence. To break it, I raised my hand and said I had a question for Johnnny:

“I really liked your book, any plans to turn it into a film?”

He was chuffed about the question. He went into a long answer about how he is working on a film based on the book and hoping to start filming soon.

After the Q & A. He came over to me and said thanks for asking about the book. He put three years of his life into it and it meant a lot to him that people really cared about it.

I didn’t know what to say. As I had never read it. It was the only thing I could think to say to him. He was so nice I got a copy of it as soon I could. I still haven’t read it and that was two years ago. Sorry Johnny.

November blog up. Come talk to me on twitter @SlumberingJ as I’m lonely at Christmas time and you can tell me how none of those books in the featured image were mention at all.