Moth becomes a Sausage

Another episode of The Delightful Sausage has come to pass! This month we had Liam Pickford to open the show who looked mucky and unwell throughout.

The vessel of your doom

For the next show we're going to drop the Château le Bomb title and focus all our energies into The Delightful Sausage brand. We're doing this mainly because it's a pain in the balls to press ALT + 0226 every time you want a little 'â'.  

As such, we've updated the designs for our artwork using a nice clean graphic, making it looks like a book for really naughty kids.  

Our next show is a Valentine's Special which has Sunil Patel. He's coming up all the way from London (or LDN as he probably calls it while he's putting his meals on Instagram). 

Get your tickets here

A Vision in Retail

I decided to check out my local branch of Holland & Barrett this week, on my miserable quest for some alternative stocking fillers.

If you haven't been yourself, it's like a version of Toys R Us but instead of toys it's little capsules full of talcum powder and promises they can't support with legally water tight claims.

I asked the lady behind the counter whether they had anything for what I've got. I showed her the sleeve of my cardigan and said I'd been wiping my nose with it long enough for it to be dry and crusty.

She didn't say anything but a little button under the cashier's desk sent a quiet message loud and clear to the Manchester Metropolitan Police and now I'm going to spend Christmas in an Iron Lung. They've said it's not iron, it's modern plastics - but I know...

 

December 1st!

Snowflakes and chocolate drops and egg nog and Santa Claus and bulk buy deals on AAA batteries and drone strikes and Christmas cards falling off the mantel piece all day long and arguments.  

It's December 1st, we're officially in the festive season and it won't be long until we're checking to see if a big red VIP has made his deliveries. 

However, opened my advent calendar and got a load of toenails. What's happened?

Château le Bomb - #3

In this post we're going to look at how to write the dreaded press release. I really like this bit as it's about how you turn your blood, seat and tears into a compelling story. It's also about putting yourselves in the shoes of your audience and the journalists who will hopefully be getting the word out for you.

Press Release structure  

  1. Header image. Features the CLB logo and strap line. Saved as a PNG file so it can be easily dropped into a Word document.
  2. Headline. The one line summary of your event and why anybody should give a hoot.
  3. Event copy. The meat and potatoes of the Press Release. Roughly split as:
    • Summary of what the night is about, what can the audience expect. 
    • Further information about the specifics of the night, who is playing.
    • A quote about the night, straight from the horses hole.
  4. Key details. Summary of the where, when, how much of the night.
  5. Contact. Who can they get in with touch with for a follow-up.
  6. Notes to editor. This is the section where you pull together any other additional points which will help sell the night. Your previous experience and special skills and coordinates to a buried bit of pie.   

Below you'll find my first stab which I put together in Indesign and sent to my friend for checking. He works in a big fancy PR agency in America and over there they shoot people. His feedback was really useful and I've included the final version for you to compare.

Tips for writing your Press Release

  • Keep it in Microsoft Word to it's easy to copy and paste quickly.

  • Don'y add the attachments to the email and clog up their inbox with your shitting megabytes. Instead, set up a Dropbox link where they can download the files.

  • Make sure all the tenses match up, putting everything in the 3rd person.

  • Tone down the jokes. You're looking to be taken seriously even though we're peddling giggles. Nothing worse than spending 3 hours in a car with someone on the way to the gig who keeps doing 'bits'. 

CLB Press Release Draft

CLB Press Release Final

In other news

  • Committed to spending a little bundle of money with The Skinny to list CLB on their December activities. The jury is out on whether this will directly shift any tickets but it's an acceptable sum to part with and it's the right publication to appear in.  

  • We've decided that for all future Delightful Sausage meetings it will be mandatory to have a delicious sausage platter to nibble on.

  • Manchester is not like the Edinburgh festival and you cannot flyer on the street without a license which can cost you up to £2,500 if fined. That's good because if it doesn't come easy to you flyering is hard work. That said - how are we meant to get the word about CLB out to the masses? 

Château le Bomb - #2

It's been a busy week at The Delightful Sausage as we're cracking on with preparations for the first episode of Ch(Alt + 0226)teau le Bomb   Here's what's been completed:

  • Flyer & poster designs completed.
  • 1000 flyers printed & distribution commenced. 
  • Facebook group established.
  • Link for tickets built with Wegottickets.
  • Began piecing together the line-up and structure.  

Designs

Honestly, in my heart I know we've not found the CLB look with these designs. The colours are too garish. I'm not sure the lead illustration really conveys the concept and I don't think it all gels together. The truth is that I spent a week longer than I should have done looking at a blank page and doodling an endless versions of sausages. 

In the end we had to crack on and print because we'll start missing deadlines and opportunities to distribute the flyers. 

Even though I'm confident that these designs are not the end point for CLB, I think think they do a few things well. Firstly, you've got all the key details you need to get yourself a ticket. The text used is also pretty tight, getting across what the night is about and a dash of the type of humor.   

Here are the designs:

CLB Flyer Design

CLB Poster Design

Printers checklist

Here's a list of things you'll need to check out before you head to the printers to fork out your cash. Always get someone else to review what you've produced. With these flyers I had read them through several times but it was only until a friend pointed it out to me that  it was missing the dates but I was sweating so much I'd lost perspective a bit.  

  • What is the night all about and what can a punter expect?
  • Does it have the dates and times included?
  • Is it going to cost me anything?
  • Where can I get my hands on a ticket?
  • Where is the venue? 

No ticket?

Look like all this chat about promotional marketing has got you excited. Well, I'm happy to say you can now get your tickets right here

Next up

We've still got to take a run at the press release as well as getting out on the street and flyering. I hate flyering.   

Conversation, off stage

"I've been doing it a while but I never really let myself believe it could be anything other than a hobby. So, I guess I am taking it much more seriously now and trying to gig as much as possible, get better and hopefully turn it into a living."   

Then proceeded to eat 10 minutes worth of shit, right off the spoon.  

Daily Sketch - #1

My friends* Hilary and Owain got me a new sketchbook from Chronicle Books which encourages you to draw something each day. Wet, wild and raw. 

They've just got hitched in the Americas so figured it made sense to dedicate the first one to them. Also, I'm pretty sure this exempts me from having to tackle the dreaded John Lewis gift shop next year.

I'll post some more sketches up if they pass my stringent quality control tests.  

*They're more my girlfriend's friends but they are determined to break down my barriers.     

Cinnamon, dried fruits and happily ever after

Château le Bomb - #1

Bonjour. I'm kick starting a new comedy with some other folk in Manchester. Below is breakdown of what it is and where we're at. 

Welcome to Château le Bomb

The North West's newest alternative comedy new material night featuring stand up, storytelling, music, video and possible an other-worldly gypsy playing a tin whistle. 

The issue with new material is that it tends to be dreadful and make an audience want to slit their wrists the long way down so there's no chance they'll work up back in the room. 

So, we're looking to create a safe environment for acts to develop new bits as well as a funny and memorable night for the punters.

"How you going to do that, mate?"

Scroll down, you filthy trolls.   

How it works

How we're going to make it useful for the acts yet fun for the civvies is by limiting acts to 3 minute segments to try a couple of new ideas. This will inject a snappy pace into the night and if someone has mistaken a big steaming pile of poop for a joke then we won't have too long to wait until it ends. 

Between the acts we'll showcase short videos, musical interludes and challenges for the audience. There will be prizes because studies have shown that nobody will do a God damned thing for anyone else unless there's an incentive.  

Where & when

We've locked down the Northern Quarter's Castle Hotel for 3 dates as a trial run with a view to developing it as a long term prospect. The first show is booked in for December 16th followed by January 20th and February 16th.     

How much nut?

We're looking at £4 waged and £3 if you're currently drowning in your own fluids thanks to David Cameron's government. Less than a pint, more than a sausage roll. 

What is The Delightful Sausage?

Okay, so CLB is being presented by The Delightful Sausage, an umbrella organisation which is looking to produce and host uniquely oddball Alternative Comedy nights. We'll select prime cuts of meat you're unlikely to find in your local supermarket pumped full of salted water. CLB is the first night we're turning our little clawed hands to, there will be more.

Munch munch.

What's next?     

Here's a quick list of all the things which need doing...

  • Develop the logo and design assets.
  • Design posters, flyers and Social Media assets.
  • Contact local press and publications.
  • Set up a link to get some tickets.  
  • Beg friends and family to put their bus on some seats.
  • Book the acts, write some jokes, draw some slides.   

Read more

I'm planning on covering the whole process of setting up a night here. There are huge gaps in my knowledge so I'll keep you up to date with how obstacles are tackled. Click the tag 'Comedy Night 101' to read more.

Office culture versus language

"What I would propose is to facilitate a session with all relevant parties involved at grass roots level to begin with ie the "doers" then get input/review from exec team."

This was sitting in my inbox this morning and I've decided to preserve it in the amber of the Digi-Sphere to warn future generations.  I think all it's really saying is "please help, I'm scared." 

A BFF of mine is currently writing a book about the business practices of Marvel. Part of it is about how a company defines its own existence and performance through the narrative it tells about itself. If this were an extract of a company's biography then I think the author would be J.G. Ballard. 

I'm disengaged. 


 

   

The Delightful Sausage

There's no way I'd have made it onto the stage, jumped out of a plane or tried quinoa unless I hadn't made some bold, Carlsberg fueled declaration beforehand - committing myself in the full glare of Social Media.

Now Edinburgh is a distant hangover and we're settling into life in Manchester it's time to get cracking on setting up a new comedy night. The below are what I've got so far in terms of concept, still sketchy but it's out there now.    

What is The Delightful Sausage?

5 years ago a top secret mission into deep space returned to Earth. The crew of the Delightful Sausage had passed away and the cause of death was as much of a mystery as their mission objectives. However, upon inspecting the bodies several creatures hatched out and they decided that they wanted to put on a new kind of comedy night, bringing together the best in sketch, stand up and storytelling.

Each month a team of wild misfits will take a break from howling at the moon to track and lasso alternative comedians, bringing them kicking and screaming to the Delightful Sausage - the only club night still running at the apocalypse.

Where can I wrap my hands around it?

This night of comedy can be found at twilight, if you’ve got all the right passwords and items. The Sausage is the newest Alternative Comedy night to hit the Northwest and will be showcasing acts from all over this fine country, the world and maybe even universe if there is somebody out there receiving our messages.

Who are the choice cuts of offal?

Team DS is being founded by Chris Cantrill, Amy Gledhill and Nicola Redman. Our ranks will swell to include any other midnight freak show looking to try out some new ideas. We're just paying tribute to the big worm in the sky in the only way they know how.

Christmas Card Idea #1

Here's an illustration I've pulled together for my Christmas Card idea. It'd have the below headline and story printed on the front. This is the first picture where I've carried the image over to Photoshop to add in some more texture and colour to the design - I really like it but get the feeling I'm at the bottom of a big mountain.  

Like this post to express your commercial intentions. 

On Christmas Eve I was visited by three ghosts...

The first ghost showed me in the early naughties looking sexy in denim cut-offs. The second ghost showed me how sexy I am right now. And the final ghost showed me in a coffin, turning on all the pallbearers. 

"It's banned in this country but you can watch it at mine"

The Squad

You might have seen that in 2016 we're going to have DC's Suicide Squad making an appearance in your local cinema. 

What you may not know is that the comic book world from on which the film has been based is actually based on my true life experiences as the poster boy of internet trolling. 

I was thrown into a cell for sending a series of tweets that made Sean Pertwee completely lose his rag. Allegedly he was very depressed.  I'd been buried in a hole but I wasn't alone in the darkness. Sharing my fate was the lad who said he'd blow up Robin Hood airport and a lady who set a match to the Daily Mail comments section. 

They said the only way we'd ever see daylight again would be if we worked together to take down an even greater menace... @KTHopkins.  

What's he playing at?

As you guys know I'm a dedicated and spend my free time playing computer games. I like the bits where you unlock a new item and it lets you go to an area you couldn't previously get to before. Also, I've got a teeny, tiny role voicing a character in the upcoming Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet.   

Big news. Batman: Arkham Knight has just been clocked like a 1940s sailor in a bar brawl. I even got all the Riddler trophies which made the last few hours feel like hard graft but overall it's a great end to a fantastic franchise. Never before has a game so realistically captured a guy having a tough night. 

I've just pressed Play + Record at the same time and loaded up Far Cry 4. It's a huge, open-world first person shooter which I'm enjoying immensely so far. Mainly because I'm pretty sure I'll get to throw a grenade at an elephant soon.   

[Update]

Just took a tea break and have had the chance to reflect a little bit - life's a game, innit?

"Well, you could use it for that..."

My Facebook feed has erupted in morbid glee as a jury of my peers react to claims that the Prime Minister has put his meat into a dead pig's head. 

The claims have been made by a creepy billionaire who's paid a journalist a ton of money to write the book with him and never work again. All this because he wasn't invited into Cameron's tree house at the last election. 

I'm not a fan of how everyone is frothing at the gills with joy about this. I get that DC is bad news but the accusations have no basis and come from a really suspect source. Plus, I'm pretty sure that exactly the same people who're going nuts about this have been aghast with how Jeremy Corbyn has been mistreated in the media recently.    

Do I think he rested his John Thomas on a farmyard animal's dead tongue? Yes, it was the 1980's and to add a further dollop to the scandal, a follow up report suggests the pig was on an unpaid internship. 

The Trials of St. Veronus

Any ideas?

Any ideas?

We're taking a quick break from conspiracy theories and recipe tips because I want to get an idea I had in my days as a marketeer* out of my brain where it's been taking up valuable space I could be using for extra digits in the Pi sequence. Apologies, this one is going to read like an expo keynote, let's just all get through it and bang back 2 glasses of wine at the networking bit. What's that, you do business development for Vodafone - sounds electric, mate.  

Background

I was working on a contract for a small boutique restaurant chain who were finding it hard to nail down consistently good service when it came to their beer range. They had rich history of silliness to draw on as it had been set up with a mandate to be fun. 

The team itself was full of kids with 1000 watt personalities but they'd had nothing in the way of formal training when it came to their beer. For a few key team members beer was their life and they spent their free time travelling the world to understand more but this didn't manifest in a robust training structure. the company itself had also failed to create a clear business plan, meaning there was a high level of scepticism when it came to any new initiative. 

Previously the only formal way these guys were tested was via a series of multiple choice questions and it was clear that although this was an important part, there was more to it than recalling an index of information at will. They needed to be confident, engaging and passionate which hadn't previously been a major part of the culture. 

Idea

My idea to save the day was The Trials of St. Veronus. The aim of which was to establish a training regime for our staff which made them sell more beer but also delivered a service experience which was unique to the brand.

In The Trials, our trainees would become players and take the role of St. Veronus, the patron saint of brewers on his quest to enlightenment. Along the way he'd face a series of trials set by a collection of challengers - each one would be designed to help the trainee develop a rounded skill set which would allow them to sell beer confidently and effectively.

The challenges themselves would be based on a mixture of knowledge, practical competency and presentational skills. The view was that these skills are interdependent and all equally important if you're looking for memorable service. The trick would be establishing a structure in which to train and test these qualities that was fun, exciting and not an overly daunting prospect for a new employee. By turning these training modules into a game, with role play elements, a hint of Dungeons & Dragons and as much good humour as the brand would allow then we'd be able to train our teams.

The structure of the path to enlightenment would be split into 3 sections. The aim of the first section would be to educate them on our beer range so that when talking to customers they could effectively talk about each of the beers with confidence. The second tier would look at the art of brewing in more detail to give their knowledge a more substantial grounding. Maybe this section was a bit arse-backwards but we figured that if we were selling a bottle of Vedett then it would be more beneficial for them to reel off it's selling points rather than the science behind how it was brewed. The final tier of the training program would be positioned as a master class of sorts which would bring together their previous training to host a tasting session for the public as well as taking up their position as a team trainer, by which they could support those starting out on their journey.    

One of the initial challengers would be from the Bear King. He wears a crown and loves nothing more than giving out multiple choice quizzes. Once defeated you'd progress to the next stage of the trials and he would later return in your quest with incrementally harder quizzes.

Lord knows. 

Another of the proposed trials was St. Veronus and the Dying Carp. While out walking Saint V would come across a fish flopping and floundering in the dirt. In order to save him he'd tell you to complete the Dying Carp field visit form which would involve visiting a local brewery and talking to them about their range. The aim of this module would be to get our trainees out into the world and engage with other people, thereby building their confidence to speak to strangers about something they love. Once completed they'd return to HQ, save the Carp and unlock the associated badge which would help them along to the next stage.        

The execution wouldn't take itself too seriously and would be split into chapters, St. Veronus versus each of his foes. the character would be introduced along with a breakdown of what would be required to pass the module. In a dream world this would have been illustrated by an artist like Isabel Greenberg who beautiful at world building.  

The Trials would also have been a great way to establish a culture of beer and this could have manifested in weekly tasting outings and rewards for recognition such as brewery sponsored site visits for those who show the most dedication. It would also have been supported with a bottom-up reform of our training and recruitment programmes. Rather than recruiting for "Waiter, 3 years experience" we'd run advertisements asking if you're passionate about beer and great service - recruiting for attitude, not skills. You can teach people how to open a bottle of beer but it's a hell of a lot harder to encourage them to do it with a smile on their face.

The aim with it all would be to eventually take these processes which had traditionally been carried out behind closed doors with a view to making them public facing eventually. As team member knowledge developed they could teach customers at taating sessions.     

Conclusions

There were so many reasons why this was a horrific idea at the time. Firstly, it'd need resource which would be coordinated across several departments and at this specific time in the company's history this was not realistic for a lot of reasons. Secondly, there's a chance that turning training into a big elaborate game could potentially come across as patronising if not pitched exactly right.

I wasn't very happy in this period of my life. 

In terms of approach it would have been written in a very different way to all previous materials. I can't tell you how often I see brands which are meant to be vibrant and outgoing undermine it all by talking to their teams in the overly complex corporate jargon. I think the conclusion I reached after my time in hospitality was that it's meant to be a fun job. An operations manager summed his love of the industry up for me when he said that the feeling of a full restaurant at 9pm on a Saturday evening is electric and it's a great feeling to know you've created a great night for your customers. In that sense I think it's quite similar to stand up. The best restaurant manager's always seemed to establish a theatrical atmosphere which made their customers feel like part of an experience, rather than just ordering food from a menu.

I get the impression that within the hospitality sector there are only a handful of real brands. Sure, you can't move for chain restaurants nowadays but if you take away their logo and the fact they serve, food  I think you'd struggle to name what makes their experience unique. I reckon there's a lot of high level strategy meeting where branding agencies click through slides with words like 'contemporary-vintage', 'London' and 'Social Butterflies' written on them and applaud a job well done.    

*Think musketeer only swap courage and swordsmanship for blue sky sound bites and a River Island wardrobe.  

The Delightful Sausage

Here's the Delightful Sausage. He's happy in his own skin and best enjoyed when boiled into oblivion on a Tuesday evening with the One Show blaring out of the flat vision square.  

Sheathed for your pleasure

This little guy

Here's a little guy I drew and painted today instead of doing other things I should have been doing. 

He's blue, around 25 centimetres long and is never happier than when he's dropped head first into a tub of Ben & Jerry's. 

"I was a fool to ever think we could be together"