01 Oct 2009

The Shoe Fits

By Producer Jack

Having just spent the best part of ten days in New York City between a hotel room in Soho, the surprisingly well stocked grocers across the street and the Radio City Theatre, our sudden drive through the expansive cornfields of Iowa is more eerie than it might ordinarily be.

Beautiful as it is, I look at the lonely houses scattered through the maze of maize and primarily wonder if perhaps I am metro-polised – a word I think I may have just made up for being institutionalized in cities.

The come down after a night as glittering as the VMAs is palpable. Even as a non-performing member of the team, the focus and dedication it requires means that mental readjustments are needed. I can only imagine how these are multiplied by the high of live performance and without the option of getting blind drunk after.

To be honest getting the tone of the material right this year was a little tricky. At times we were treading a comedy tightrope fit for Pink’s circus.

It’s a particularly precarious gig because of the odd atmosphere in the room and Russell’s admirable desire never to compromise. Prevalent concerns produced by these elements are these kind of questions: Which celebrities will handle a gag ok? Will the audience have the concentration to appreciate this joke? Does my bum look big in this skirt? Sorry that was just me.

Deciding what material to actually include is a bit like that moment when you have to decide what shoes to take on holiday. You know one pair will inevitably spend the entire break in the suitcase, it’s just bloody difficult to predict which ones before you go.

The dressing room prior to the show has the air that I assume is generally reserved for that of a pro boxer. By then the preparation is done, it’s just the psychological battle at this point. Russell calmly paces the room deeply inhaling as the team offer words of positivity. Finally there is a knock from the floor manager and it is time. A quick hug from the gang and he is off, wandering out into the abyss of a live nation. Rather him than me.

Backstage, in our little room we call the ‘dog basket’ the team huddle round an unnecessarily small TV with the collective nerves of a parent at the first school play. It’s odd to watch a man exit a room and immediately appear on TV, it’s especially hard to comprehend that on the other side of that grubby blue-tacked wall is the bonkers glam of the VMAs. There he is though, our very own Essex boy up on the stage effortlessly carrying some pretty weighty focus.

Meanwhile, back in the basket our odd co-operative silently lip sync his lines and cheer laughs like he’s scoring goals. Gareth and I look at one another grinning and realize he is comfortable out there – the show is in safe hands. Russell is a man uniquely at home in mind-boggling conditions, the added chaos of Kanye just made him more at home. I glance around at the traveling sitcom he has assembled as a team, there is a communal surge of relief and, might I add some really appropriate shoes.