So 0n Thursday my Mom and I went to a taping of the BBC Radio 4 Programme “The Now Show” with Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis. In short: It was excellent!
I love the Radio 4 podcasts. I can download them in Ouahigouya and I listen to them on Mefloquine Nights or when I can’t sleep from 1am-4am most nights. My friend Hannah introduced me to them and now I’m a BBC podcast junkie listening to their comedy, FriComedy, and Newsjack podcasts on a regular basis. So I was extraordinarily surprised that when I applied online for tickets in Burkina Faso I got 2 tickets to see a taping for The Now Show in London during my vacation.
We got in line outside of BBC Broadcast in Central London around 4:30pm. We first went to the queuing location but then ended up going back to the entrance when we could not get into any of the doors. A nice BBC security guy walked us back around to the correct entrance.
We waited in line for about half an hour until we were joined by M and S, two BBC Radio and television taping regulars. Once they came we chatted them up and the waiting seemed to go by really fast. I was amazed at the number of tapings they attended. Everything from Top Gear to Never Mind the Buzzcocks and everything in-between.I talked about how I worked in Burkina Faso and they ACTUALLY knew where that was and recounted stories from a trip to The Gambia.
At 5:45pm a BBC Employee opened the doors and put stickers on our tickets! We then went inside and sat with M and S while gawking at a golden Dalek and the Tardis props from Doctor Who. Once we got inside the café, my Mom and I got sandwiches and met the rest of “The Regulars,” J, R, and K. They asked me about my work in Burkina Faso as a PCV and I explained that I work in a rural village with no running water or electricity. I try to prepare students for the CEP exam, and I recently did a nutrition TOT. They seemed impressed.
BBC one was on in the cafeteria, and they were literally taping the show around the corner from us on the other end of the building. (The whole inside room of the building is made out of glass). The ironic part was that the audio and visual on the TV were not in sync by at least 3 seconds. You would think that TVs in the BBC studios would be in-sync, I mean; they’re taping them right over there.
At 7:45 they called us to start queuing at the entrance of the Radio Theater. My mom and I were in the second row. Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis came out on stage at 8:05 each with a glass of beer in their hands. They warmed us up getting us to make Pirate Sounds and Laughs, including a pirate laugh Mexican wave. Hugh Dennis also did his famous T-Rex impression while limping a little because he had turned his ankle earlier in the day.
After a couple of minutes of a warm up the producer came out and the rest of the cast was introduced. Tonight’s lineup included series regulars Laura Shavin and Mitch Benn. The guests were Nathan Caton and Maeve Higgins.
They did many sketches about the election of the new Pope Francis I, the controversy about the Falkland Islands (that they don’t want to be part of Britain anymore and that they’d rather be part of Argentina). They also did some funny bits about motivational trainers that speak to you and supergerms versus antibiotics. They also made a joke about Noel Gallagher (of Oasis) moving out of his house on the island of Ibiza because James Blunt was moving in, and proceeded to make fun of Blunt throughout the night playing snippets of his hit song “You’re Beautiful”. — Which unfortunately did not make it to air 😦
Mitch Benn did two songs. One about PM David Cameron and how he keeps changing his mind about things, and the other about bringing back old diseases like rickets, scurvy and smallpox and then not helping people to get rid of the older population. Before the show he asked for song title suggestions for his Comic Relief challenge. (Comic Relief is a fundraiser that happens every 2 years in the UK to raise money for UK charities and also children in need in Africa). Mitch Benn was planning on writing, recording, and releasing a complete album of 10-12 songs in 24 hours and wanted suggestions for song titles. I suggested “I forgot my keys.” I have no idea whether they are going to use it, but whatever.
Nathan Caton did an excellent set about Justin Bieber and his recent trip to London and how his song “Baby” could be used to diffuse situations such as the recent tensions between North Korea and the United States. He also described his worst birthday ever…at a goth night club.
Maeve Higgins did a set about being an Irish immigrant to the UK, and how with an unlicensed gun and TV license that she could open a bank account. I thought that the concept was funny, but she sounded nervous and her delivery of her set sounded as if she was simply reading off the paper.
At the end of the show Steve and Hugh read off suggestions from the audience about an app on Facebook that takes your likes and then draws conclusions about your personality. The entire cast was in stitches while reading them and it was hard for anyone to keep a straight face. I wrote on mine, BBC World Service, Doctor Who, and Downton Abbey, and that facebook should draw the conclusion that I should quit my current job and stat working for a UK Broadcasting Company. Unfortunately mine was not read but that’s ok!
After getting through the whole show, the producer came out and said which bits had to be re-recorded. At this point Hugh Dennis was pretending to be drunk and everyone was laughing so hard it was nearly impossible through the retakes.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I haven’t laughed so hard in a VERY long time. The nice thing about live comedy is that the audience reacts to the cast who then reacts to the audience. My Mom said that she was laughing so hard that her stomach hurt! I highly recommend it to anyone in the Greater London area.
Tickets are FREE! You can go to the BBC’s website www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours and register for tickets there. They are randomly drawn but you have to be there in person early to get a guaranteed spot. They always issue at least 200 extra tickets than they have theatre space to ensure a full house. The trick is to get there around 5pm and that way you have a guaranteed spot.