Thursday 1 July 2010

Karaoke Circus and the Twitter-stalker phenomenon

Last night I went out to London and caught Ward and White's Karaoke Circus. It was the second time I've been and was once again a very fun night. The format of Karaoke Circus is such that local luminaries of the comedy scene are invited to perform a karaoke tune of their choosing in front of a very good live backing band. Audience members are also invited upon entry to put their names down on one from a list of songs for the chance to perform it in front of the band. It is a judged competition with the winning audience member awarded a prize. Several of my twitter pals regularly attend this event and it's a good tweet up. Last night I had the pleasure of a nice chat with comedy actor Tony Gardner (@tonygardner) and even a hug from the lovely Emma Kennedy (@EmmaK67). These are both people in the entertainment industry whom I follow on twitter and have had some conversations with. They do not follow my timeline, but they are nice and approachable people. It is very tempting when we have this type of contact with people and then meet them in person to imagine that we are friends. I am using the royal "we" here. We are not friends. What we are in fact is stalkers. It's the phenomenon of twitter that does this to us. This is not meant in a disparaging sense, though the meaning I have in mind has not yet made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. We follow the timelines of some of our favourite people who have no idea who we are. We do this because we are fascinated by their lives and enjoy glimpsing the more spontaneous elements of their personalities. Sometimes we reply and if we're lucky they chat back. We often know where they've been, what they're doing now and what they're up to next week. We are stalkers.

Yes, we are stalkers but that's okay. We are harmless. Well, I am anyway. We are not friends though and should not harbour any illusions. We should bear in mind that some stalkers are not harmless. I guess what I'm getting at with this piece is that it's best not to ruin it. It's nice hanging out on twitter with actors and musicians and other people I admire from a distance, especially when they appear to take some small notice of me. If there's an opportunity to introduce myself in person I won't hesitate to do it if the situation seems appropriate. I know that some people really like when this happens. I wouldn't do this when faced with someone who is very famous unless I felt I had something to say that this person would find particularly interesting. I know who I am. I do well to remember that just because Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) once retweeted me and David Mitchell (@RealDMitchell) liked something I had to say once and replied, this does not mean I'm famous. And why would I want to be famous anyway? I'm happy with my nearly 200 followers. I doubt I'll ever have much more than that. If you like to go fishing for entertainment people to rub shoulders with though, Karaoke Circus is as good a place as any. You might have the opportunity, as I did, to say to Chris Addison (@mrchrisaddison) "Hey Chris, nice job on that Pet Shop Boys song" while he's pissing into a metal trough. Or you could say to Kevin Eldon (twitter account unknown), "I had no idea you could sing so well" while he's desperately trying to step around you. Just remember who you are. Statistically the following are very safe bets. You are never going to play on Later with Jools Holland. You are never going to star in your own sitcom. You are never going to get Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) to follow you. And remember that there are many hundreds or thousands (sometimes millions) who would also like to be their "friend".

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