On the 23rd May 2013, I went to see Jon Ronson at Book Slam, London’s first, best and only literary nightclub. I wrote a blog around that time that I descried as a write up of that evening, book reviews and an open love letter to the brilliant man. When writing that blog, I’d read Psychopath Test and Them, and was half way through Lost at Sea. Now, I’ve finished Lost at Sea and read all 80 pages of Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie. I’m a little ashamed of myself for having only read one and a half books in those ten months, especially as I do own all of them. Jon has now moved to New York but in the month of March, he showed his face in a couple of places in UK. If you follow him on Twitter, you would have seen for yourself his social calendar was rather full. I was lucky enough to see him at two events; LOCO’s A Night of Public Shaming and Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, or as the cool kids are calling it: RHLSTP. PHLSTP!
Jon Ronson chases people and writes about them, psychopaths and extremists, people you shouldn’t chase. But for his next book, he’s chasing a different group of people, those that have been publicly shamed. Not necessarily murderers or child abusers, people who said the wrong thing on Twitter. For lack of a better word, public shaming is easy. The internet is the fastest way to share information, and nothing travels faster than bad news!
LOCO stands for London Comedy, a not-for-profit foundation whose mission is to discover, develop and screen the world’s most distinctive comedy film-makers. Comedy is a genre that should be taken seriously, it’s a beautifully and brilliantly made as any other film, why should they not win awards and get recognition? As well as writing books, Jon has turned his hand to writing screenplays. LOCO hosted the world premiere of Jon’s almost silent comedy The Dog Thrower. This short film is a glimpse into Jon’s head and the work he has been conducting since The Psychopath Test came out. A seemingly harmless act is filmed, spreads like wild fire and is condemned by the public.
But the evening also highlights how it was done before the internet. Jon shows footage of his travels with David Icke many, many years ago. David travelled to Canada and a whole town came together to stop David talking on the radio and television, but fighting against him only peaked the town’s interest. Even an attempted pie in the face didn’t dampen his spirits; the only thing that suffered was the children’s books in the book shop. It’s amazing how easy it is to join in with public shaming, and yet it was seen as an abomination in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
At both evenings he spoke about his second screenplay project: Frank. Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he's bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank. The plot of the film is based on Jon’s relationship with Frank Sidebottom. Jon notes that musical bio-pics are awful, so they decided to fictionalise the pair’s experiences in the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band. The man behind the head was Christopher Mark Sievey; a sensitive, shy man that was not appreciated in his own time. In the film, Frank never removes his head. But Jon assures us it is Michael Fassbender under the head. We may know the secret inside Frank’s head but we’ll never know what’s inside Jon’s. I’m certain there are more stories to be told and what he’s going to do next.
By the way, Jon if you’re reading this, I typed this up while watching Louis Theroux.
He ain’t that special.
He made me cry.
I don’t like him.
Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson
This is collection of adventures from here, there and everywhere. But it is not enough. The stories are too short and leave you wanting more. Ronson is a mystical, magical story teller who finds truth that is stranger than any fiction. From hilarity to thought provoking in a beat, each new story is a glimpse into unknown worlds. I’m thankful Ronson goes so we don’t have it. Besides, it’s the way he tells ‘em.
Frank by Jon Ronson
Frank Sidebottom is a curious creation. And who better to tell his story than curious comedy writer Jon Ronson. Like many great artists, Frank was not appreciated in his own time. This little book is a perfect introduction into a crazy world of paper-mache heads and three cord songs, especially for someone that missed that period in time or isn’t from Timperley. This book is the truth which will go hand in hand with the fictionalised movie.