Originally not aired on ??/??/????
It’s episode two of my unrecorded Halloween podcast and the only thing scary about today’s guest is his talent, as well as his history of violence. But – even though judging people by their past mistakes is something I’m very fond of – I want to forget about the violence and concentrate on the talent part, because today’s guest is a former Edinburgh Award Nominee!
Besides, Rob Kemp (today’s guest, the Edinburgh Award Nominee guy, the one who this podcast is about, from the first paragraph, remember?) hides the violent part of his character so well that it’s almost like I made it up for the sake of having a pithy opening line for the podcast. When he turned up to be on the podcast that everyone’s raving about and (due to its unique format) no one is listening to, he seemed very charming. He’s actually very soft and gentle, and I know this because when he turned up I greeted him by touching his soft cheeks and his gentle hand politely pushed me away. Lovely guy.
Now, if you’ve been living under a Dwayne Johnson for the last few years, then you might not have heard of Rob. But those of you who are a bit more clued in will remember Rob as the man behind the cult-hit The Elvis Dead, which was a live show that re-imagined the film Evil Dead 2 through the songs of Elvis (Presley). Sound bonkers? Yep – it was so bonkers and original that it ended up getting him the Edinburgh nomination mentioned above, as well as universal critical acclaim.
“Thanks for agreeing to do the show, Rob,” I said as we settled into our seats in Cherry Reds, a café at the heart of Birmingham’s city centre, a heart that unfortunately suffers with angina. Nah it’s a great city – I don’t know why I’m slagging it off. Back to the podcast.
“Thanks for having me, Eric.”
“Now, to start with, as a comedian, who—“
“Don’t bring up Elvis Dead,” Rob said, interrupting. “It’s done now. I’m working on other stuff. So just leave it, alright.”
“Okay…” I replied, quite taken aback at the interruption. “I mean I was just about to ask you who your influences are.”
He seemed friendly and charming to begin with, but this outburst put me on edge a bit, if I’m being honest.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just every interview I do people wanna talk about The Elvis Dead. It gets to me.”
“Why? Surely you’re proud of it?”
“I am. Of course I am. It’s just…”
“You feel like you’ve failed to follow up on it, and everything you’ve produced since has massively paled in comparison,” I said, kindly helping him out.
“I wouldn’t phrase it like that, but yeah.”
He took a gulp of his Pumpkin Spice Latte, too worked up to savour the special flavour.
“Well, what are you working on at the moment?” I asked.
“There is one idea I had which I’m pretty excited about,” he said.
“Oh yeah? Go on…’
“Well, have you seen the new Joker movie?”
‘Yeah it’s fantastic. Loved it. Why?”
“I loved it too. And I think I could do a show about it. I want to retell the story through Elvis songs, like with Evil Dead. I’m gonna call it The Elvis Joker.”
When someone tells you the worst idea of all time, it can be hard to look at them in the same way ever again.
“Uhmm, yeah it’s not bad,” I said, buying myself a bit of time to work out how to be sensitive. “Personally, I’d just maybe stay away from the Elvis thing for a bit.”
“Yeah, maybe leave it for a few years. Especially if you don’t wanna be thought of as that guy anymore.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right.”
“Yeah, probably am.”
Rob looked a bit defeated. Well, a lot defeated, to be honest. It’s one thing being haunted by your past mistakes, but what I’ve never considered before is how people can be equally haunted by their past successes. Halloween is a time when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld is supposedly thinned, when spirits and ghosts can enter into our realm. Obviously, we know this is just a sort of festive myth that we buy into and that these spirits aren’t real; things that aren’t in the material world aren’t something we should worry about, am I right Richard Dawkins? But if you think about it, there is an immaterial, non-physical realm that does dictate our lives on a day-to-day basis – and that’s the past. Our past is something that can possess us, making us anxious and depressed, stifling joy in our life. But really, where is the past? It’s nowhere.
We shouldn’t allow either the fact we’ve failed or the fact we used to be great and now we’re shit again bother us. There’ll be people reading this who were once beautiful and young and smart, and who are now unfortunately old and dumb. Should they look back on the past? No, they should try and have a happy life until they finally decay beyond repair and cease to exist. Similarly, there’ll be ex-criminals reading this (I have a wide audience) who are still racked with guilt for their past crimes. Forget about it, guys.
I guess what I’m trying to say through this rambling is that Rob needs to just get on with, find a way of exorcising the past and stop worrying about it.
Looking at Rob’s sad face, I decided it was time for me to bury this podcast into MY past.
“Well, Rob, I think we’re about done here.”
As I was walking away after leaving Rob on his own, I turned around and saw that he had begun to smash the place up. Proper throwing chairs around and freaking everyone out. I guess maybe there was some truth in the thing about him being violent after all, because he’d properly flipped. It’s like you know the Incredible Hulk? Well he’d become so angry that it was like he was acting it out, while at the same time probably thinking of
Poor guy. Let it go, Rob. Let it go.
I guess that thing about violence probably was true after all.
See you next time! x