Adam and the rants... | Adam Bloom talks - and talks - about his new radio show

Adam and the rants...

Adam Bloom talks - and talks - about his new radio show

As the next series of The Problem With Adam Bloom prepares to hit Radio 4, with a longer running time and the prime 6.30pm slot, Judy Leighton discovers that real problem with the stand-up is getting a word in…

‘I’ve been promoted finally!’ laughs Adam, ‘I’m very pleased, I worked very hard on my previous two series so for them to be acknowledged is a nice feeling because I put the hours in – it’s not like I just scrambled together a couple of episodes. They all had a conclusion and a point to them.’

So conclusive were they, though, that Adam hasn’t left many of the world’s pressing problems to tackle this time around.

‘The first series were definite problems like gossip, or lending things, or bad service,’ Adam explains. ‘This series is more about things that cause problems rather than are them.’

He launches into one rather surprising example. ‘I read my first novel last year, aged 33,’ he reveals.The book, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime, was recommended to him by his girlfriend, who’d seen him struggling to progress with Great Expectations and 1984.

‘I’m not a good absorber,’ he admits. ‘I’m a good observer and a good talker, but I’m not a good reader. I’m not good at taking in other people’s information and digesting it well.

‘But I think they weren’t good choices for my first book, whereas The Curious Incident… I enjoyed immensely and it inspired me to write an episode about it. I delved into why I had never read a book; went into my schooldays, went into the whole Shakespeare and truancy stuff. Basically, it was my problem with reading.’

But other themes for his radio show are a lo bigger. ‘I suppose I’m obsessed with morality,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen how much instant damage anyone can cause to anyone just by being a tiny bit selfish. It only takes you to say thank you when someone holds a door open for you to make that person feel like they’ve got a purpose in the world, and when you hold the door for someone who doesn’t say thank you, you feel used and abused slightly and that simple thing of saying thank you – or a waitress saying sorry when they’ve made a mistake with the food and you’ve had half your meal without your friends eating with you…’ he pauses 99 words into the same sentence to draw breath.

‘The point is it’s so deeply simple, how easy it is to be nice to people. I’ll be the person who’ll say something when it happens where other people will let it go.

‘I’ve got quite a short temper, but it’s a result of the world not being considerate enough. When I came up with the idea, I told Lee Mack the format for the show and he said to me it sounds like arguing, which I thought sounded horrible!

‘But it was really more about the damage people can do to each other by not being considerate, so it ended up being moralistic.

‘I was worried it would sound like a whingeing old man having a moan but it’s supposed to be comedy. Bill Hicks said, “If you can take something serious and make it funny, then it’s seriously funny.”

‘If you tell jokes about Aids, you’re not laughing at Aids but you’re releasing all the frustration and fear people feel about it and it becomes therapeutic.’

So is he using the series as free therapy? He smiles. ‘An old school friend betrayed me and it helped to use that in an episode because I could listen to it and see the funny side of what had happened.

‘If you can make something ugly funny, it’s therapeutic.’

But he’s resisted the temptation to simply get his own back on people in the series.

‘I found things to go on about,’ he says. ’Not to whinge about, but things to analyse. Technology, which I suppose can be a problem but also life-changing and an advantage. Tey’re not cut-and dried problems.

‘Honesty, which again isn’t a straight problem but obviously there are problems caused by being dishonest or even by being honest. God – bit of a dangerous subject, but the angle I’ve come from on that episode is that I very much believe in God, but I don’t have a religious group that I belong to, so therefore I can criticize everybody without offending them. Because it’s not like I’m saying, it’s all nonsense, you’re wrong; I’m actually saying you’re right – but maybe you’re not all as right as you think you are. Let’s be honest, there are 300 religions in the world, they can’t all be right and they all think they are…

‘Then I discuss parents. Let’s face it, everyone at some point in their life has had problems with their parents, but it’s not just negative stuff, it’s analysing the relationship and the angst that’s created between father and son.’

That can’t all be based on personal experience as he cites his own father, a musician, as one of the biggest influences on his choice of career.

‘I learnt early on that being friendly and funny led to people liking you, probably from watching my dad chatting up waitresses,’ he recalls, hastening to add that his dad was only angling for extra chips – nothing more.

‘When I was ten years old I picked up a semi-circular twig with leaves sticking out of it, like a wreath, and I put it on my head like a hat and said to my mum ‘Look – half a crown!’ I was 10, but that had the structure of a joke rather than just a witticism. So that was my first joke.’

And the career progressed from there. ‘My very first gig was really good, though by the sixth I got a bit dispirited because the crowd wasn’t very responsive,’ he says. ‘If the first one had been like that I might have given up there and then.

‘It’s horrid to think that there may be people who might’ve been really good who’ve given up because at their first performance they had the bad luck to have a difficult audience.’

When recording the radio shows, of course, it was for an audience that had specifically come to see him. ‘What’s nice is that the audiences have been coming along because they know me from the first two series, so they come with the right frame of mind, they’re converted into my kind of comedy – they’re not going to judge me because they’ve already decided they like it.’

What they like is comedy that Adam describes as ‘inventive and honest’. ‘For my live shows it’s 70 per cent inventive to 30 per cent honest, but with the radio show it’s been more like 30 per cent inventive and 70 percent honest,’ he says.

‘I feel that if you listen to the radio show, by the end of it you’ll feel like you know me. That’s beautiful, it’s the difference between it being a live show and art – without being pretentious, but if art is something that ultimately makes you think, then I would hope the radio show will do that.’

The next series of The Problem With Adam Bloom starts on Radio 4 at 6.30pm on Wednesday October 26

First published: October 10, 2005

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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