Rich Peppiatt - One Rogue Reporter blog
Rich Peppiatt used to be a tabloid reporter, but then he saw the error of his ways and wrote a resignation letter that went viral. He's now been telling his story via his live show, 'One Rogue Reporter'. BCG saw it in Edinburgh and found it both eye opening and entertaining. Now, following sell-out runs at both the Fringe and London's Soho Theatre, 'One Rogue Reporter' is on the road. We asked Rich to tell us more about setting up the show and his experiences of performing it so far...
The question I hate being asked more than any other (except perhaps, 'Have you been injured at work in the last 5 years?') is: "So, are you a stand-up comedian now, then?"
Because despite the requisite elements being in place: a) standing on a stage b) alone c) trying to make people laugh d) getting (mostly) paid for my efforts, I'm not really part of that club. If anything I'm more like an off-peak member who just uses the gym. There's a distinction between being a touring comedian and touring a comedy show.
For one, I rarely agree to do short sets of material because it removes the checks and balances I think my show needs. In isolation certain sections can make me appear a vengeful sociopath, whilst other parts a snivelling windbag. I want the audience to get the full picture, in all its snivelling sociopathic vengeful windbag glory.
The only time I've tried doing a short set not using material from my show was late one night at the Edinburgh Fringe, and just as I opened my mouth a punter clambered on stage, whipped out his dick, pissed in a plastic cup and kicked it over. Hard to stick to your set when that happens. Still, probably got more laughter than my actual jokes would have done.
My show One Rogue Reporter needs the story arc. I can't really justify throwing rocks at tabloid editors' windows for an hour if I haven't spent time smashing to smithereens any semblance of my own glass house first. Not pulling my punches only works if it's clear I'm swinging upwards. I'll spare us all a third violent imagery metaphor.
Some people who haven't seen One Rogue Reporter seem to think it's a 75 minute rant about my former life as a journalist at the Daily Star (although a friend recently introduced me as a former 'piss & wind word gimp', which I quite liked). In fact, the Daily Star only gets a cameo, mainly because it'd be a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Dammit, there's that third violent imagery metaphor.
I made a conscious decision early on to go after the high-hanging fruit of the tabloid world, and it took months of research - following them, learning their routines and unearthing their dirty secrets - until I felt in a position to decide what sort of stunt would be most effective (read: humiliating).
I'll never forget the anticipation of my first preview night at Theatre 503 in Battersea, when, after months of secrecy, I'd finally get to unveil my show. I'd never done so much as a minute of comedy in my life, but I'd invited everyone I knew, even managed to convince the likes of Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan to come. Schoolboy error.
I stepped out on stage and didn't stop moving for the duration, furiously pacing up and down, garbling through my material like I'd inhaled a gram of speed. I was sweating so much my laptop got heatstroke by proxy, meaning half the videos wouldn't work. I walked off stage, fell over a chair and just lay there, deflated. I reluctantly watched it back the next day (from behind my sofa) and just said to myself 'you've got a fortnight to put this right or you're gonna be a laughing stock taking this to Edinburgh - and not in the right way'.
The key advice was being told 'stop trying to be comedian, just be you'. The show is so personal to me it really does only work if the voice behind it feels authentic. Plus, I relaxed. For some reason audiences enjoy themselves more when you don't come across like a bloke reading Fifty Shades of Grey to his mum.
Sometimes I get people come to see my show thinking it's more of a lecture or quasi-academic talk, and then next thing they're staring at a video of me planting a dildo on a newspaper editor's doorstep.
I agreed to do a gig in Oxford recently at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. I turned up to a crowd of leather elbow-patched academics all drinking tea in a grandiose university dining hall. It felt about as appropriate as a male stripper rocking up to a dementia ward. Perversely, I loved every minute. Even a much-dreaded gig I did in January to MPs in the House of Commons went surprisingly well. In hindsight, I suppose it was always going to be tough conjuring enough smut to get that lot blushing.
I've recently teamed up with comedy producer/director Marcus Mortimer, and Will Sturgeon (the man behind The Media Blog, to create The Spike, a fortnightly satirical take on the good, bad, ugly, dumber, dumber and downright deceitful of Fleet Street. It's only a matter of time before someone asks: "So, are you a presenter now, then?"
Luckily for them I expunge all violent tendencies through the medium of metaphor.
Thanks very much to Rich for writing this for us. Here's the latest episode of 'The Spike', which includes John O'Farrell talking about his experiences becoming a tabloid piņata during his by-election campaign.
Rich is touring 'One Rogue Reporter' now. To find out more about him and the show visit www.rich-peppiatt.com
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