In these Radiowaves-exclusive articles, legendary presenter Pat Courtenay shares his views, ideas, experience, and tips with our visitors…

This week he reacts to a thread on our Message Boards about Show Prep…


I was just reading a thread in “Behind the Scenes” about Show Prep.

“Radio Presenter” quite rightly notes that we should use day-to-day observations as a basis for our humour.

Sound advice, but imagine that you want to be a Formula One driver and you’re told that the way to go about it is to “Drive faster”; that advice is no use unless it goes with advice on how to drive faster.

Millions of people want to drive F1, the fact is that only a tiny few will ever be the type who can actually do it. The rest should consider some other form of Motorsport.

It’s the same with Broadcasting.

If we were, say, a Class Clown (a good one, mind you) and realised that this was a good way to get what we wanted, we were probably on the right track. If, however, we were the one who gazed wistfully at the Class Clown’s evident successes thinking, “I wish!” maybe we should consider a different Broadcasting direction.

The fact that some people are funny for a living shows us that most people are not….that’s why the few stand out. If you know that something you’ve observed should have a comic angle but you can’t find it, either forget it altogether or forget it till (possibly months later!) the light dawns.

EXAMPLE: I cannot stand Ronan Keating’s strained little hairbrush-in-the-mirror voice. I’ve felt this way forever.

For me to slag it outright on air, will justifiably turn off those of my customers who like it. That will hurt my ratings.

I stewed about this for months then the lyric “It’s amazing how you can set light to your farts….” came into my mind as I was driving. Giggled and recorded it into dictaphone: took guitar to work and re-wrote intro, taking care to mux the full song onto that er-written intro. That way, we all get a send-up, I get my Keatingitis off my chest and the customers still get their song!

DICTAPHONE: buy one. Cheap. Use it in the car, mutter into it on the bus, in the street; record every thought you have or thing you see, and if you’re not funny, use the observations as tiny bits of colour for Listener.

EXAMPLE: “There’s been a nose-to-tail down by the gas-o-meter. Give y’a couple of minutes to perv at Liz Hurley on that new billboard at the end of the bridge. Mam says yer woman could do with a good feed.” Now, that isn’t “funny” but it shows that you’re round the town a bit, looking at the same stuff your Customers are looking at, brings your Mam into the picture and involves both sexes. It might even spark an in-car exchange.

We all know that horrible moment when we thought we were funny and we weren’t: everybody else goes charitably quiet while we have the razorblade hovering over the wrist!

When one of the world’s many Great Advisors says, “Just be yourself,” I think they should be saying, “Just relax! Not everybody finds Funny easy, but everybody does at least notice things.”

Oh, I forgot….WORK: most of my short little Shows take a whole day to prep. Script your ad-libs and edit them: practise your mistakes and maybe even record them.

Above all, RELAX!

Pat’s next article takes a look at Voicetracking