Thursday, April 28, 2005

Knowing You, Not Knowing Me

Knowing You, Not Knowing Me

The last time that Patrick Marber gave an official lecture here the lecture theatre in St Catz was overflowing, and primarily overflowing with women. It was just after the film of Closer had been released and undoubtedly the Pretty Jude Law connection wasn't doing Paddy any harm. This time, however, the lecture theatre, full but not quite crammed to the extent where you wonder at what point all of the oxygen is going to be used up, was overwhelmingly male. The reason? Rather than the joys of Closer, and the possibility of Pretty Jude anecdotes, Paddy had Steve Coogan in tow. A-ha.

On finding a seat I soon discovered that I was surrounded by the unofficial Coogan brigade. Even James, uber thesp, rated himself to be more excited about Coogan than Paddy. And it quickly became apparent that a nearby random, who felt the need to quiz me about the format of these events, had no idea of who Paddy was. But still took the cue from some of my detailing to make increasingly bad puns. I could have been sat near Partridge himself.

When Paddy and Coogan appeared there was, and i'm still in shock over this, whooping. And, even though I'm someone who has been known to whoop, I actually felt a little embarrassed. You don't whoop at Marber, he's a writer not a minor popstar*. But they weren't really whooping at Paddy, they were whooping at Coogan. He's been on telly after all. At Griffin's Gig in Ilkley when I'd been discussing my future plans with Nik, Willow and Sarah [including the hooker-line-dancing-Nik-snogging-Fox musical] and my status as a future famous person it had been questioned whether I wanted to be Griffin famous or Beyonce famous. I'd gone with Patrick Marber famous. Willow had responded with "Ah, cool famous". And I'd nodded and immediately agreed to get Clive Owen to appear in one of my plays. But, of course, the thing with "cool writer famous" is that it's an elitist fame. Possibly even more so that Griffin famous. "Cool famous" is not beamed into people's living rooms. It's not being Alan Partridge. And, if I do make it and get a little slice of Paddy famous, then this is my future. Hearing people whoop for the person sat next to me. If it's any consolation to Paddy, he looked far more dashing.

The talk itself, after a rather strained start from Coogan who seemed content to um and er for the first few minutes, proved to be both funny and amusing. It included Coogan telling the story of how when he was 12 he created a fake bullet hole in his head with stage makeup, laid on his sofa and pretended to be dead. As you do when you're 12. And derranged. Coogan also detailed what was one of the defining moments in his life; in his sixth form canteen as he pondered the current generation of British comedy he realised that there would be another generation emerge after this one. That around Britain there were people his age who didn't know it yet but who would become the comedy establishment. He then asked himself that all important question - why can't it be me? From this point in he decided to do everything he could to make himself one of that as yet nameless generation. If it didn't work, so be it. But he had to try. And I thought that that was rather beautiful.

And, if anyone's wondering - Paddy and Coogan are starting writing some more Alan Partridge. Mainly because they're haunted by the guy. Which sounds rather painful.

*No offence to minor popstars who are also writers. Paddy doesn't take his trousers off on national tv or pose for topless calenders. I'm sure you understand.**

** I love you both really.


Val said...

If its any consolation, speaking as the person who was the most impressed by the 'Patrick Marber saw my play' story, I'm more likely to whoop for Paddy than Coogan (and therefore, in due course, for you).
You are, however, making me pine for 'theatre' and for actually being on stage - just when are you writing that play with the hookers in?!

gayle said...

"If it didn't work, so be it. But he had to try."

When I interviewed a certain almost popstar last summer he said that same thing almost word for word - and when I thought about it afterwards I nearly cried.
Clearly he has more in common with Steve Coogan than just the Alan Partridge impressions.
Rrrr, sex. Kiss my face. Lyn, there's a bear on me.

Billygean said...


Nik said...

I was going to mimic Gayle, but it seems somewhat shallow to engage in impressions when I've actually never seen any Alan Partridge *hangs head in shame* Is it wrong that I think it's ok to do impressions of minor popstar doing impressions of Alan Partridge? :S

Billygean said...

"no you CAN'T Ilan!"*
"you did it agaaaain"...

Oh i do love Alan.