We are pleased to announce that our Featured Writer of the Month for February is none other than the funny, naughty and unique Neal Mayhem. If you want to know more about our friend from Great Britain and what makes him tick, the interview is below along with a link to his website:
1) Tell us about your humble beginnings: Where were you born?
I was born in a very small town in Oxfordshire, which is a county just west of London. I then grew up in an equally small town called Didcot, which is known for two things; its railway station and its power station. Being from a town with two very famous stations, its somehow strange that I wanted to work for a radio station, being that it was the only type of station the town DIDN’T have. So, when I turned 14, I created one. It was called “Radio Cracker” and I ran it for charity. It got funding and a temporary license. That lasted 28 days, but it was the longest 28 days of my life. I knew from that point on, that I was born to do radio. Unfortunately, the government didn’t, and its license was never renewed.
2) How did you get into radio?
I did the “Radio Cracker” project, and then, for about 2 years, I just obsessively listened to as much radio as I could. This was years before the internet, so I had to order tapes of other disc jockeys from around the world, through mail order. I’d get tapes of Stern, Wolfman Jack, Don Imus, the late, great Neil Rogers, Rick Dees and Phil Hendrie sent to me, and I would listen to them alongside Britain’s fairly limited selection of radio talent, such as “Caesar the Geezer”, Chris Evans, and any other talent I could muster. I would closely listen to how they honed their craft, and what techniques they used, to entertain their audience, which I knew they did well. I used what I discovered as a template to put together an audition tape for radio stations around the country. Finally, after about 150 tapes, I got a bite from a small rock station in Gloucestershire, and I was hired as the afternoon drive disc jockey. After many years of introing and outroing records, I moved into talk radio, but avoided falling into the trap of ‘subject of the day’ style of serious phone in shows, and instead worked on stations that would allow me to do my thing.
3) Do you work in other media as well?
I write, mainly, for US morning shows. Sadly, the market in the UK has become extremely sanitized, and there is little scope for my brand of humor. But you Americans seem to love it. I am also about to start up season 2 of my podcast, which is technically ‘other media’. There are plans for a TV show, which I’m currently writing, and I am in the middle of embarking into the world of stand-up.
4) Your most embarrassing moments?
One fairly recently actually. At the beginning of season 1 of “Minutes of Mayhem”, I was doing a lot of interviews, and I had on as a guest, a small time actress named Cerina Vincent. She started talking about a book she’d written about ‘girlfriends’. Over here, when a woman talks about her ‘girlfriend’, it usually means they’re a lesbian. So I started asking her questions about homosexuality. Cue slightly uncomfortable silence, before she said “sorry..I’m not actually gay”. We had a bit of a laugh about it, but I don’t think she was too happy about being thought of as a lesbian. Shame. Also, I once interviewed my music hero Jim Kerr, the lead singer of Simple Minds, and after finishing what was a bit of a struggle of a conversation, I made the mistake of saying to my co-host, “Wow, he was a bit of a mardy bastard, wasn’t he?”, at which point I noticed his line was still engaged, and he’d heard what I’d said. Needless to say, I doubt I’ll ever get him back on.
5) What makes you laugh?
Boy, that’s a good one. And a hard one to answer. It REALLY depends what mood I’m in. If you’re talking ‘things’, then it really comes down to clever humor. Slapstick doesn’t really do it for me. I’m afraid watching a guy get a bucket stuck on his foot is the lowest form of intelligence in my book. At the same time, comedy that tries too hard tends to fall flat with me as well. It’s got to be smart, but not aware of how smart it is, to make me laugh. If we’re talking people, then anyone original, witty, and self deprecating will always get a smirk at least. I’m not a huge fan of racial or sexual humor, which may surprise you. I hate rape jokes. I also despise any jokes which make fun of big specific tragedies. That said, if you have a joke about the World Trade Center, and it’s got funny roots, I won’t judge your decision to use it in your act. It’s just not for me. Jokes about individuals are fair game, provided they are done in reverance and obvious respect, rather than hate. I took a lot of shit because I made fun of the death of Amy Winehouse. It wasn’t because I hated her. It was because I was angry at her for depriving her fans of her existence. I wasn’t saying, “you deserve to die because you were shit”, I was saying “it’s a shame you were a coked up idiot who didn’t respect your own life as much as your fans did”. I think there’s a clear difference, which is why, if you make a judgement before you’ve understood a joke, sometimes you can look like the idiot for being offended.
6) What type of people annoy you?
People who try to control you. Or who feel they have a right to dictate as consumers, what it is of yours that they consume. Also, people who think they have a right to be successful just because they’ve made the decision that they should be so. You see it all the time on Twitter, and with certain blog sites. The rest of us had to put the effort into it, they shouldn’t be any different. Success is earned.
7) Do you find British humor to be different than American humor and do Americans bother you?
Actually, I love Americans. The majority of my demographic for both my own site (http://www.minutesofmayhem.com) and my podcast, ARE American. I regularly visit, having family and friends there. The humour IS different, but not as different as it was. I think the differences are sometimes over blown. Americans are, if anything, slighly choosier about what they find funny. It’s harder to be successful in comedy in America, because they won’t laugh at something they are TOLD is funny. This was evident with Little Britain. The UK version went down a storm there, because it WAS funny. Then they got a little ambitious and tried to produce a dedicated version of the show, featuring characters they THOUGHT Americans would find funny if they were told as such. What they didn’t account for, was actually, Americans liked the first show for one simple reason; it was well written, and full of humble charm. Even I hated the American version.