GOSPEL ACCORDING TO…
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO… No Such Thing As A Fish
What happens when you’ve got too many facts to fit into the TV show you’re writing? Start a chart-topping podcast of course! For issue #018, we caught up with James Harkin, Anna Ptaszynski, Andrew Murray and Dan Schreiber to discuss the juggernaut that is No Such Thing As A Fish and the secrets to their long-term success…
PB: TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR SHOW! WHAT’S YOUR PODCAST ELEVATOR PITCH?
James: ‘The first elevator shaft was built four years before the elevator was invented’. If that intrigues you, then you’ll like our show. (You’ll like it even more if the mere mention of the word ‘shaft’ made you giggle).
Anna: Reminds me of the fact that the person who patented the first elevator was called Otis, and the person who patented the first elevator brakes was also called Otis. What ever happened to the name Otis?
WHY PODCASTING? WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE FORMAT THAT APPEALS TO YOU?
Andy: There’s No Such Thing As A Commissioner, meaning that as long as the internet still exists, you can’t be stopped.
Dan: Ironic that Andy is saying that – he wanted us to stop at 100 episodes. Poor guy is 400 eps in now.
YOU’VE BEEN PODCASTING SINCE 2014, WHAT‘S THE SECRET TO YOUR LONGEVITY?
Andy: Never miss a week. And I think the format we chose helped too – by good luck we picked a format where the subject of discussion each week is ‘any four nouns’, so it’s always going to be pretty varied from week to week.
James: I think the main thing is the varied subjects like Andy says. But we’ve also been helped by the fact that the podcast has kept growing. First with live shows, then a TV spin off, then books, then international tours… there’s always been a ‘next thing’ to look forward to.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO BEFORE YOU STARTED OUT AND GIVE YOURSELF ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Dan: Learn how to pronounce the word Covent and Ptaszynski. Listeners will understand what I mean by that.
Anna: Don’t send long and unnecessarily detailed replies to the first 100 listeners who write in with feedback. You are setting the bar at a level you can’t possibly sustain.
HOW DID YOU FIND PODCASTING DURING THE PANDEMIC RELATED LOCKDOWNS?
Andy: At the start I think we were worried we might not be able to replicate our show or get the comedy in a Zoom environment – but thankfully we were already well-established enough that it felt natural, wouldn’t talk over each other, that kind of thing.
James: As the editor, I found it to be an immense amount of extra work: the timing is never quite the same if you’re not in the same room, especially when people’s wifi would cut out. Also, Anna always seemed to find a place to record that was next to a combine harvester, which didn’t help.
YOUR LIVE SHOWS ARE HUGELY POPULAR AND YOU’VE PERFORMED IN SOME SPECTACULAR PLACES, DO YOU HAVE ANY DREAM VENUES YOU’D LOVE TO PERFORM IN?
Anna: I’d love to do a tour of interesting countries where we’d get tiny audiences who would have no idea who we were. Just for the sake of adventure really. Botswana, Paraguay, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea etc. I’ve struggled to convince our tour managers it’s a good idea, sadly.
Andy: There’s a hillside in Scotland, which has an enormous oil tanker built into the side, where the echo of every word you say lasts about a minute. I think recording there would be great, if only to give the sound technician a breakdown.
WHICH EPISODE OR EPISODES OF YOUR PODCAST MEAN THE MOST TO YOU?
Andy: I think the first one. Due to the auto-play feature on Apple I’ve heard the intro dozens of times now. I sometimes re-listen to it and think – we had no idea how big a part of our lives this podcast would become.
James: I’m extremely proud of a section of episode 198 when we managed to get 15 minutes of decent comedy out of a guy called William Hazlitt who, even by the standards of early 19th century essayists, is pretty dull.
WHICH PODCASTS OR PODCAST HOSTS INSPIRE YOU?
Andy: I’d have to say The Cryptid Factor hosted by Dan Schreiber.
FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT FAVOURITE PODCASTS?
Dan: Plumbing the Death Star, which is a brilliantly silly show from Australia. And Seeker! The Ken Campbell Podcast, which brings together archive recordings from Campbell’s brilliant live shows and talks.
Andy: In Writing With Hattie Crisell is highly revealing about all sorts of brilliant writers.
Anna: Sideways, hosted by Matthew Syed. It’s fascinating, and it really stretches your thought muscles.
James: I’ll listen to absolutely anything except for The Cryptid Factor hosted by Dan Schreiber.
Listen to No Such Thing As A Fish on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast apps.