This week also sees the arrival of the London Podcast Festival. The Film Quiz Podcast will be one of the many different shows taken to the festival and performed live, ready for your consumption.
Unlike most podcasts, however, recording live and in front of an audience is nothing new for this film quiz. All of the episodes to date have been recorded in person and it comes through clearly in the show.
If you’re interested in going and seeing the Film Quiz this Thursday evening, you can find tickets here!
In each episode, Nick puts his comedian contestants through their movie trivia paces, with the assistance of his reliably unreliable scorekeeper Huge Davies. What Huge lacks in understanding of the quiz he’s officiating, he makes up for in his brilliant deadpan delivery of film facts, cutting through an often exasperated Nick Helm.
Alongside Helm and Huge, guests include Ed Byrne, Stevie Martin, Janine Harouni, Richard Herring and Jen Brister. They don’t all know as much about films as Helm (who it’s clear has compiled a remarkable breadth of knowledge through his quest to watch a film every day) but that’s part of the fun.
If you want to learn about movies, there’s plenty of trivia. If you want a laugh, there’s plenty of those too.
Ahead of its launch, Helm and the Film Quiz’s producer, Howard Cohen, sat down and talked to us about bringing this new podcast to life.
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So where did this idea come from?
HC: Anytime I ever see Nick, I want to talk to him about film. That’s the most enjoyable bit of my existence. And people like quizzes.
NH: My favourite thing to talk about is films. I think it’s my equivalent of asking people what their football team is. I go What’s your favourite film? and I’ve always got somebody to talk to.
HC: That’s actually been quite a funny bit of doing this. Nick asks ‘What’s your favourite film?’ thinking it would be painless, and it turns into, ‘What do you mean, you don’t have a favourite film? What do you mean?’
NH: That’s the thing about this thing about the quiz element. I look at the questions and go These are really easy, right? And then you do it and films are one of those things where if you don’t know, it’s almost impenetrable.
Would you win if you were playing?
NH: Yeah. Absolutely.
And how’s it actually been implementing the idea in practice?
NH: It’s a film quiz, but the film quiz is only part of the podcast. The film quiz is a structured vehicle for me and Huge and the rest of the contestants to just have fun. What’s great is when they start playing along and they sort of get into going against the format a bit. If all else fails, we’ve got a movie quiz. Anything on top of that is organised chaos.
HC: It’s been quite interesting, though, because I haven’t really seen what we’re doing be done before. I can’t really compare what we’re doing to anything else I’ve tried to begin, at least.
NH: You’d always think, ‘Why isn’t there a film version of Buzzcocks?’
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Nick, what do you think the live element offers?
NH: I think having it’s brilliant, because it suddenly turns it into something really special. You put us in front of an audience, we’re all performing. Our survival instinct kicks in. We’re all doing our best to not only do the quiz, but to entertain an audience. And I really love that element to it.
Howard, was it always going to be Nick hosting?
HC: Yes. His style, on stage, is generally… is generally shambolic.
HC: And so the idea was to put him in a position of authority… my idea was Les Dawson.
NH: Les Dawson did Blankety Blank and you’d have loads of contestants, celebrity contestants. When Les Dawson took over, he was a guy that just had nothing but contempt for the format for the contestants. He was just miserable to be there. He was a frustrated poet and musician. He had this soul, but he was chained to shit mainstream Saturday night, celebrity filled TV. And he would just come in and destroy it.
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HC: It was amazing. He did it for six, seven years and it was just amazing. A bit of magic. The Blankety Blank format is you thinking which of these celebrities will know the answer, and then he’d go over and they’d show their answer. The way he looked at them was enough to get that contempt.
NH: He’d look down the lens and just be so miserable to be there. His whole act was that he was better than the show.
HC: So, inadvertently, we are channelling some of that. Some of that joy that came out of what, Les?
NH: You know, I can’t even say my name in the same sentence as Les Dawson. Can we cut that whole bit out?
No. Talk to me about Huge Davies…
NH: I clicked with him last year. I was doing Always Be Comedy down at Kennington and he was the middle act and he was just brilliant. Instantly, he’s brilliant. He’s also really fucking cool and we just we got on straight away. And then he came and did my Christmas gig and I thought he was really good. He’s just got such a laidback attitude. And when we were talking about doing the Film Quiz Podcast, I said we should get him to be the scorekeeper. I don’t even think it was a role, was it?
HC: No, in the run through we didn’t really have one.
NH: I just said that it could be a role to give me something to bounce off of every week, and it should be Huge Davies. Because, not only is he just a really funny, brilliant comedian, but he’s got a really complementary style of comedy to mine. We’re opposites. I don’t really like when you have pairings when the humour just comes from tearing each other apart, and I think that what’s really good about our chemistry together is that we’re lucky: we’re like a couple. I encourage him, but he does piss me off.
HC: If I’m honest with you, I don’t really know if he’s been in character whenever I’ve spoken to him. At the beginning of every time we perform the quiz, Huge asks me the same questions. I assume it’s a joke.
NH: No, it’s not. He doesn’t know how the game works. He doesn’t know how the scoring works. I’m not particularly sure if he knew what he was getting himself into, but as soon as we started doing it we got it together, and it was rewarding, I think, for us to be good on stage together. And then it actually worked out and we’ve had brilliant contestants. I say we’ve had brilliant contestants, I can’t believe how little people know about films… but it’s like football. I was never brought up watching football. I try to watch a film every day.
Does that take a lot of planning?
NH: No. I’ve got OCD and my dream is to have watched every single film that’s ever been made. I’ll never get there. And it’s a source of anxiety for me.
And the release of the podcast is soon – how are you feeling about it?
NH: I’m excited, also a bit nervous. I think it’s a really lovely show. I think it’s interesting. I always want to make stuff funny and I always want to make stuff into a comedy vehicle. If you like films and you like film quizzes and trivia, it’s not just questions to answer, but there are bits of trivia and information. It’s definitely there. But if you’re not interested in films, and you just want a laugh, I think it fulfils that as well. So you don’t actually need to be that into films to enjoy it.
When we start releasing them and hopefully we build an audience, we’ll start getting people coming in that know what they’re coming to, waiting and expecting the chaos. Whereas what we’ve done so far has been people expecting one thing, and then it’s just absolutely turned into a cavalcade of swearing and chaos and breakdowns. It’s great. I really enjoyed doing it.
HC: Exactly – it’s fun. I’m really looking forward to it.