Rachel Holdsworth and Liz Bickerdike went to the first night of the first direct Dialogue Festival. It was curated by Robin Ince, with Adam Buxton's BUG, Literary Death Match and debates about whether technology is killing conversation with Simon Munnery, Alan Moore and Robin Ince, whether music can change the world with Grant Nicholas, Marco Gandolfi and Liam Toothill and privacy with Andy Jones, Thea Martell and Chris Hutchins. This is what they thought:
Rachel: You definitely don't see comedy very often in a church.
Liz: The church was pretty awesome, not what I had imagined at all – definitely a plush Notting Hill venue!
Rachel: Also funny to hear swearing in a church (that's the level I'm working on today). Which was kind of inevitable with Adam Buxton reading out YouTube comments.
Liz: Adam Buxton was just so darn wonderful. The idea from Robin Ince's intro, that he's a curator of stuff, worked - with more and more ‘noise’ on the internet (which I think Simon Munnery briefly referred to) the more you need someone to filter it all out and highlight the things that are worth talking about, reducing pages of drivel into something much punchier. I doubt if I read the YouTube comments he highlighted on the internet I would have found it half as funny or enlightening than I did when they were ‘performed’.
Rachel: I would happily watch Adam Buxton dancing around a stage all day.
Liz: And some of the stuff he’d picked out, things that I would never in a million years have found, like the bloke who taught himself how to make that amazing Tetris video and the crowd-sourced Michael Jackson video.
Rachel: Apparently these videos went viral - I'd never seen them. Just goes to show that you can have the entire internet at your fingertips but you still sometimes need someone to point out the good stuff.
Liz: Yes - the power of internet fandom with the Jackson video was quite moving really – but it only worked because someone who was excellent at their job spent hours working to make it brilliant. Watching 1,000 individual tribute videos filmed in poorly lit bedrooms on YouTube would not have had the same impact – see, you need someone to filter out the noise.
Rachel: Oo - SEGUE - which is kind of what the privacy debate at the Earl of Portobello was getting at when we arrived. The difference between public interest and what the public are interested in - who decides what gets published in the media, who does the filtering. It was fascinating to hear a lot of things I kind of already knew (or thought I knew), like how celebrities phone up tabloids and tell them where to position their paps, or that sticking a vacuous celebrity story on the front of a paper sells more copies than a serious story about serious issues.
Liz: Apparently TOWIE is the new Katie Price it would seem when discussing celeb culture.
Rachel: Does this mean we should start watching it?
Rachel: And it was also a bit scary - though again, something I knew at the back of my mind - to hear someone say that because of Twitter and Facebook, we're the first generation whose grandkids will be able to look back at what we said or thought every day.
Liz: This night really was a well put together concept, raising some big ideas while reheating some well-worn arguments.
Rachel: That would make an excellent conclusion if this was a standard review, but that's not what happens in a dialogue. So - extra thoughts. The debate at the Earl of Portobello (small venue by the way - get there early for popular shows) was much better for audience interaction, with panel and audience all on a level, debating away as equals. The music panel at Under the Westway suffered, I think, from being up on a stage. It'll work well for more performancey shows. It probably worked very well for Literary Death Match, but we couldn't get to that. (Never mind, Londonist has been before.)
The first direct Dialogue Festival runs until Saturday night in three venues in Notting Hill. Tickets cost £10, £5 or nothing, depending on the venue. For more information see the Festival website. We saw these shows on press tickets.