Episode 9- Dan Schreiber
[Music]Sofie: Hello, this is the Made of Human podcast or the MoHpod if that’s what you want to call it. It’s a podcast in which I talk to people about how they deal with life, how they try to function as humans because, to be honest, I feel like it’s a struggle sometimes. I mean, how do you do life, it’s, it’s kind of hard. I have a flu which is why I sound uncharacteristically sexy. Yeah, you can tell. OK, so this episode, I talked to Dan Schreiber who has an amazing podcast called No Such Thing as a Fish and it’s obviously brilliant. I mean, if you’ve heard of my podcast, you have already heard of Dan’s so I’m very, very pleased that he wanted to do this one.
I have a few gig announcements that I, I’ll try and make it super quick so we can get through to the episode. But I am going on a few tours, I’m doing a few shows here and there and I think it’s important to share with you because you’re the kind of people that I want to come to my shows and I want to meet you, you know, before and after the gig and I want to, I think, if you like this podcast, you’ll like my show. No, I know that if you like this podcast, you’ll like my show. So first one is 31st October in London, 7pm, I’m doing a short little gig, it’s an hour and a half, it’s a new material night, I’m going to be reading some stories, I’m going to bring out some Westlife fan fiction that I wrote when I was a teenager that I haven’t ever read to anyone before. It’s going to be at the Phoenix Artists Club and I hope some of you will go. The tickets are only £5 or something and there’s only 50 of them so feel free to come there.
I’m doing a tour show, I’m doing my show on tour, of my show Shimmer Shatter which is about, it’s about being an introvert and feeling odd, so I feel like we can all relate to that. I will be taking that show to Newport, Newcastle, Frome, Selby, which is close to selling out, Wrexham, Leamington Spa, Harlow, Crawley, Aberdeen, Lincoln, Aylesbury, Bristol, which is close to selling out as well, Brighton, which has sold out, Guildford, Maidenhead, Oxford and Liverpool. Then I will be at the Soho Theatre in London in December from the 5th to the 17th of December. Now, if you want to go and have a little discount on those tickets, you can use the code Shimmer16, that’s S H I M M E R 1 6. Don’t tell anyone except for tell everyone because the tickets, I find, are a tiny bit expensive, they’re £16, but if you put in Shimmer16, they’ll be £14 but, you know, keep that between just you and me and everyone else, tell everyone. Now I will also be going to Denmark in February next year, I will be at, in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg and I’m very excited about that, and I’m nervous because it’s Denmark and it’s my home and I hope the people will like me. Those shows are all in English. If you have some kind of anxiety because of the, because of anything that could happen at these shows, if you need a specific seat or if you need to be near the exit or anything, anything, do email me at email@example.com and we’ll figure something out, if you need a specific seat, I’ll do my best to try and find you that seat, if you need to go into the venue before everyone else, let me know and I’ll come out and let you in before the audience. We’ll try and make it work somehow, I want all of my shows to be anxiety safe. You can find tickets for all of this on sofiehagen.com.
One tiny last thing, go to iTunes and give this podcast a five-star rating and a little comment because that makes me extra happy, it really means a lot. I don't know how to make people aware of this podcast, I want people to know, at the same time I love our little club, I love everyone who’s in the Facebook group, Made of Human podcast on Facebook and I quite like our little community but I also do know that getting more people involved is probably a way to become successful, I imagine. I guess you guys can’t all, you know, chip and pay my rent forever. So, either way, tell a friend, give it a five-star rating and, you know what? Just enjoy this episode of the MoHpod.
Dan: I just didn’t know if…
Sofie: Just slide in.
Dan: Am I close enough to the mic?
Sofie: You’re perfect, yeah, absolutely fine.
Dan: Alright, cool.
Sofie: Do you identify as, what do you call yourself, a nerd?
Dan: Yeah, I do.
Sofie: Geek, nerd?
Dan: Kind of, dork, I would say, yeah.
Sofie: Dork, that’s a good word.
Dan: I think dork because geeks and nerds, I think, are very much focussed on knowing their areas inside out. So if you’re into science, it’s very much about the science and a lot of them will be really into comic books and, you know, all that sort of side of, I guess, that’s, actually I can’t remember which geek and nerd.
Sofie: Oh, I thought it was all the same word.
Dan: No, no, there’s definitely a division between the two.
Dan: Yeah, but as a dork, it’s kind of just, I like science but I don't know anything about it and I like, you know, all the comic book stuff but I won’t be able to tell you the origin stories or anything of people.
Sofie: So you’re more like a general knowledge, all of them.
Dan: Yeah, exactly.
Sofie: And they’re more specific topics?
Dan: Yeah, I think so. It’s really odd because I never associated myself with being either because I have a lot of friends who are musicians and like it was seriously cool and, you know, but actually most musicians are geeks themselves, or nerds, whichever one it was. So, yeah, so I feel like I’m lying when I say that I am but I mean, what I do for a living, which is just reading and finding and getting excited by information, that’s pretty geeky, I would say.
Sofie: Yeah, I think you, I think you qualify.
Sofie: Do you know if there’s like a war between them?
Dan: There has been, yeah. Like if you meet a proper, so do you know Steve Cross?
Dan: The, he runs a thing called Science Show Off which is a really cool, fun comedy night where it’s stand up but it’s done by biologists -
Dan: …and it’s done by, yeah, physicists and so on and I, I have been allowed to do it because I’ve got the sort of geeky credentials for it but, so he would be very much on the side of saying that scientists are much better and more informed than say, I could be wrong because actually I know he loves comic books as well. So, I don't know, there is a war, somewhere, going on but I’ve not seen it yet, yeah.
Sofie: That’s amazing, that’s amazing, it’s a lovely image.
Dan: It’s incredible, isn’t it?
Sofie: Because you, I was like majorly into, well, that’s a lie, I was, I tried to get into gaming when I was like a teenager because that’s where the boys were, so I tried to be like one of those girls, like, “Oh, you know, I'm not like the other girls, I just play Counter Strike a lot.”
Sofie: But that was way more serious than I thought it would be. Like I would show up to these LAN parties and I would, in my head, I would be walking in and everyone would be like, “[Gasps] Gasp, like there’s a woman, oh, my God, we must all be with her.” That was not how they reacted, they were all just hunched over their computers going, “Don’t take my computer.”
Dan: [Laughs] Amazing.
Sofie: “Oh, these guys really care about.”
Dan: Yeah, it’s serious, it’s serious for them, yeah, they… I grew up in gaming as well, which I never properly got into because I grew up in Hong Kong and so gaming was just massive there because there’s not much you can do in Hong Kong, you didn’t really have any outdoor areas, in the central, where we lived, and so what you’d do is either be a skateboarder or a gamer and, or a BB gun enthusiast, that was big as well.
Sofie: Was that a hard choice for you to choose?
Dan: Yeah, I stayed away from the guns, because the guns in Hong Kong were insane, they were genuinely like rifles, like my friend brought a BB gun to school, I don't know how we had them at school, but you could bring a BB gun to school, you would get in trouble but like everyone did bring them. And they would have like, you know, focusses on them so you could shoot from a distance.
Dan: Yeah, my buddy once went to a BB gun war where he went inside a mattress because he thought, “OK, there’s no way that anyone can get me,” so he cut some eye holes but he was wearing goggles and then he had his hands out to hold his guns and he didn’t have any protection on his knuckles so they just focussed in his knuckles and he was just assassinated by the fingers, it was insane. It was a huge thing in Hong Kong.
Sofie: Clever idea though.
Dan: Yeah, it was such a clever idea. We saw him and were like, “A mattress? You’re a genius.” Yeah.
Sofie: He brought a mattress to school.
Dan: He brought a mattress to a gun party, that’s insane.
Sofie: So you chose gaming?
Dan: No, I tried to but I just got my ass whooped every single time. Yeah, Street Fighter and all that, Pac Man, could never win.
Sofie: I made an accidental headshot towards a team called [?? 0:08:55.7] and what I believe the guy in charge of that team or one of the people on the team, the guy I headshotted, if that’s what you call it, isn’t it? He later became, I think he won or went to the final of like the world final of Counter Strike.
Sofie: Yeah, he didn’t speak to me at all after I did that.
Dan: Oh, my God, you killed a champion.
Sofie: Yeah, I was just playing around on the game.
Dan: That is incredible.
Sofie: All the guys who were standing around me just went completely silent and I was like, “What happened? Oh, I’m sorry, did I kill one of my own?” And they were like, “N-no, you, [Clears throat] you killed that guy.”
Dan: You killed the champion.
Sofie: Yeah, and I was like, “Oh, does that make me popular?” Didn’t.
Sofie: Oh, yeah, of course not.
Dan: Because they probably, it’s kind of like, you know when you see the FIFA World Cup going on, any time a country that usually doesn’t make it near the finals makes it there, you’d think everyone’s like, “Great, the underdogs,” no, they hate it, they just want Germany and Italy, yeah, they don’t want any of that. So that’s what happened to you, you were…
Sofie: Yeah, and also these were like other 13, 14 year olds so they had to go and apologise to the more popular kids, “I’m sorry we invited a girl on to the team. So sorry she killed you.” He was really upset.
Dan: I think that’s huge, I don't know if you’ve got a CV that you have on your website but that needs to be at the top.
Sofie: I’ve told a lot of people that fact, I’m very proud of it.
Dan: That’s incredible. You should be, that’s amazing. None of us will ever achieve something as great, because that’s someone at the top of their game and you’ve taken them out.
Sofie: Yeah, took them out by accident.
Dan: I mean, I used to play Mario Cart online and you would think, amongst your friends, you’d play it, you’d be like, “I’m the best at this,” and then you go online and you play the world and you just get annihilated. It’d be like beating the best Mario Cart player.
Dan: I’m just thinking about what kind of buzz I’d get from that is enough, I can’t imagine.
Sofie: All I wanted was attention from the boys and I didn’t get that.
Dan: You didn’t get it? That’s bullshit.
Sofie: No, they were, you know, I made them less popular.
Dan: That’s insane. You’ve ruined it.
Sofie: I was so sad, I was so sad, I really thought was my way into the boys.
Sofie: “Oh, my God, I’m going to be the cool gamer girl.” Didn’t happen.
Dan: Really? Were there any other nerdy ways in with boys, outside of gaming that you tried?
Sofie: There was just like general computers.
Dan: Oh, OK.
Sofie: So I learned how to dissect a stationary computer so I knew all the words, like gigabyte and RAM.
Sofie: Screen. Keyboard. I knew all the words.
Dan: Screen. [Laughs] Sorry, I thought that was like an acronym of something, no, just the screen. OK.
Sofie: Here’s the thing, Dan, when you have a computer, you need like a screen or you can’t see.
Dan: Is that it? OK.
Sofie: Yeah, you can put that in your little TV show.
Dan: That’ll be a fact, yeah.
Sofie: So when did you find out that you were a dork? Or when did you start?
Dan: It was definitely at school that it got first mentioned. My best friend Dan, at school, sort of said it to me one day and it really shocked me, I was like, “I’m not a dork, what are you talking about?” And he was like, “You read.” And I didn’t think that was enough of a qualification to say that you’re a dork because, in my head, I, within my year, because I had, I was in Australia at this point and I had this weird American accent and for some reason, I kind of just, there was this oddity of, and I went to this really odd hippy school called Rudolf Steiner so it’s a –
Sofie: Oh, I know about Steiner, I think you only play with wood and stuff.
Dan: Yeah, so it was a, yeah, well, we definitely played with more stuff, I think maybe that’s for the younger years. In, when it gets to high school, it’s quirky but you’re allowed to be yourself and comment on it, within it, so yeah, so it was fine, it was really fun and, but it was quite a small school and it was in this little woodland bit in Sydney, in central Sydney, but just in this little foresty bit. That was amazing, it was incredible. Like, during, you know, if you went out to play in your playtime, you know, you could just wander off into the wood and you just pick up sticks and climb stones and stuff and it was really awesome.
Sofie: Gathering your toys.
Dan: Yeah, exactly, yeah. But, yeah, so because I was a bit of an oddity, all the older kids from the years above me and even the ones below, we kind of all just got on because I was this weird Hong Kongian guy with an American accent so I thought, in my head I was like, “Oh, I must be, you know, cool,” but it turns out I was the dorky friend of everyone. It was like, “Oh, this is our dork friend,” and I just didn’t know that. [Laughs]
Sofie: But it’s, I mean, now it’s fashionable, isn’t it, these days?
Dan: Yeah. I think it always was actually.
Dan: Yeah, because I think, actually, if you look at most people, as I say like musicians and stuff, I think they’ve always been really dorky, really geeky. There is a high fashion end to stuff but like, you know, I was reading stuff about David Bowie and he used to travel round with 200 books and he would just, you know.
Dan: I think it was 200, maybe more, you know, people were always into info and I think maybe what’s happened more so is now we’re kind of giving it more publicity and saying that this is a cool thing but, you know, I think it’s always been pretty cool.
Sofie: So it wasn’t, it wasn’t like a, a brand that you hated, like you didn’t?
Dan: No, I just didn’t necessarily know that I was a part of it.
Sofie: You didn’t know?
Dan: Yeah, I did a, my only stand-up show, like my only full hour was kind of talking about this in that it did actually change a lot of me when I properly accepted that I was a dork and that’s, that doesn’t make much sense really because my life was fine, everything was going really fine, I had great friends. But we would, say, go to a pub in the evening, and we would go to a gig and maybe go to a club for dancing and I never liked dancing in a club, I’ve never been into that and going to a pub is cool but they would always go to these really hipstery kind of bars where it was smashed with people and I can’t hear and what I always enjoyed was sitting down and chatting and then when I started getting properly into stand up with doing stand up for, like, Science Show Off and stuff, you’d go to the bar afterwards and you’re hanging round with archaeologists and scientists and they like to party too but going to their parties, it was like, “Oh, it’s my people, this is great,” we can sit till 4am chatting like crazy about weird stuff. And, yeah, so I was kind of like, “Oh, this is a cool new direction,” and I met a lot of amazing people there because it’s hard to meet people when you’re older as well, like, new friends, it’s quite hard. I think we’re in a job that makes it a lot easier, actually, because we, we have a sort of shared experience that we can, and we see each other sporadically in different bits of the country doing bits of stand up, or even overseas or Edinburgh’s the big one and so it is actually easier to make new friends in stand up. But, yeah, I don't know, it was just this whole new direction which was –
Sofie: I relate so much to that.
Sofie: Yeah, because I remember when I got into comedy, in Denmark, comedians would, after the open mics, you know, we’d be eight, 10 comedians on, a few more show up, we’d all go to this bar down the street that was always empty and we’d just sit and chat about comedy and life and we’d joke and the first time I experienced that, I was like, “Oh, this is another way of going out,” these are my, you know, at this point I’d tried to have like a girl group of friends and it just, it was awful, you know, they were just, they were all trying to make it this Sex and the City kind of experience but I was talking about, you know, faeces and things I’d said to men that they would never had said to anyone and I felt like the weird one but not in a good way.
Dan: Yes, OK.
Sofie: And all of a sudden I was with these comedians and I would tell the same stories and they would say, “Oh, that’s really interesting,” or, “I’ve done the same thing, you should say that on a stage.” And I was like, “[Sighs] Oh, this is perfect.”
Dan: Yeah, it’s really liberating, isn’t it?
Sofie: I tried for years to go out, like proper go out, to the clubs and really like clubby and there was this, I don't know if this is a thing that’s only happened in Denmark, because before Facebook and all of that, we had, there were some websites where they would send photographers out to the different clubs and then they would take random photos of people and then they would put it up on their website, so after a night out, you’d go to this website, you’d find yourself on a photo –
Dan: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Sofie: …and tag yourself, you had these profiles. So you could go, “Who’s that guy I spoke to?” you could find him and his profile. And I found so many of those photos and it’s just me looking miserable. Really angry, like a very fake smile, just like me like in the background looking at my watch, “When are we going to leave?”
Dan: Yeah, yeah, they’re the worst, aren’t they? They do do that in Sydney, they used to do that, take photos.
Dan: Yeah, and you’d go to the website and there you would be, I’d be in a corner, sitting, looking at my watch, “When is this going to end? How are they dancing to this one beat?” I’ve been to clubs since, I recently went to one, and the music actually was amazing but not the ones I used to go to when I was a kid, it was just one note and then they would stop the beat and then it would build up and everyone’s like, “What’s going to happen?” And then the beat dropped and like, “I didn’t see that coming!” And I’m on the side going, “Of course that was going to happen, it happened in every fucking song that we’ve heard tonight.” I used to hate it.
Sofie: Did you bring books to the club?
Dan: I did.
Dan: Yeah, I always bring books wherever I go, I'm never without a book. I think this actually might be a rare case because I’m planning to go to the bookshop afterwards.
Sofie: Oh, OK, make room for new ones.
Dan: Yeah, exactly, exactly, otherwise it’s just too heavy. But, yeah, always a book at the club.
Sofie: That’s amazing. That’s a, what do you call them? S, SUP? No, SPU, no.
Sofie: What’s the word I'm thinking of?
Dan: I don't know. Is it an acronym?
Sofie: Yes, the selling point, unique –
Dan: Right, yeah.
Sofie: Yeah, I think that’s quite cool, taking books to the…
Dan: Yeah, that was my thing.
Sofie: So you’re not into Kindle?
Dan: I am, yeah, I lost my Kindle recently so I need to get it again but, yeah, Kindle’s, Kindle’s amazing. I was very anti it because I, I think books are, for me and for most people I imagine who like books, it’s a really emotional thing, it’s an emotional connection and you like to, you like to, you know, have the book physically on a shelf to look at it. Because I love that, I, I moved in with my fiancée about last November and we’re in a quite small place and I had about, I had to give away about 2,000 books because we just didn’t have space and I had no time to work out where else I could give them to and I still, outside of our house, I have three of those massive picnic bags, you know those bags that you buy?
Dan: Sitting outside our house, on our veranda, full of books, so I go out and visit them, I have to go and say hi to them because there’s no space in the house for them anymore. It’s terrible. I really love my books just so much.
Sofie: My mum, she also lives in a small place, she had to get rid of a lot of books as well, she also loves books. She used to, when we watched Beauty and the Beast, that was like the one film that she loved for us to watch, so when he buys her a library, when he takes her into the library, she’s like, “That’s, that’s what I want.”
Sofie: Like her dream is to live in a library, her dream job is to be a librarian.
Sofie: Loves being around books.
Dan: And she’s never been a librarian?
Sofie: No, she, you know, she left school when she was 14, she’s worked in a factory ever since, it’s not, you know, now she’s 50 something, it’s not, but I’m very like, “Get the job.” She’s like, “No, you know, I’ve been in this company for 40 years, whatever,” “Yeah, but.” [Groans]
Dan: It’s so cool.
Sofie: Yeah, live your dream, be a librarian, it’s.
Dan: Yeah, I think as well that, I see myself as, you know the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast where she’s going through the street, reading the book?
Dan: That’s how, that’s my daily commute, I’m just reading books. If someone’s near me –
Dan: Yeah, twirling, hopping, [Sings] “Here’s the bit where they tell you that kangaroos have three vaginas,” and then continue on.
Sofie: [Laughs] I used to, I used to dress, I once got a, she wears like a blue dress or like a white dress with a blue apron and I had a dress that looked similar and I found like a basket and then I would, my mum had a blue book that was completely blue. So I’d have the blue book in the basket and my dress on and then I got to go to the mall, which is like three stores with a roof over, in my tiny village and I would go and in my head I would be her, I would walk through all these, these three shops with my little, pretending to be her.
Dan: That’s so cool.
Sofie: I don't know how old I was, I mean, eight maybe, seven or eight, and just in my head I was her.
Dan: What’s your, what’s your village called?
Dan: Right, and what’s the population there?
Sofie: Hmm, that’s a good question, 5,000, I think.
Dan: OK, right.
Sofie: That’s a complete guess, I never counted really.
Dan: Yeah, and how long were you there for?
Sofie: There was one school, one tiny school, one tiny kindergarten, one main street and then a few little off roads. Very tiny, very, very tiny.
Dan: Do you know everyone there, as in not all 5,000 but, like, do you feel when you go back, you know, “OK, I know everyone who runs the mall.”
Sofie: No, I left when I was 10.
Dan: Oh, you left when you were 10, OK.
Sofie: So, but I feel like it was, back then, you know, my mum had these stories about how she would, because like, you know, it’s a small place, things would go on that wasn’t OK and my mum would like complain to, you know, the, the mayor or whatever, the mayor’s office, they’d all be like, “Yeah, we would interfere but, you know, it’s Kirsten and she’s worked her once so, you know.” So my mum was so sick of it at the end because it was such a small, people would like gossip over the fence and go, “Did you hear?” My mum hated it, she’s a big city kind of person.
Dan: Big city character, yeah. I went back recently to a small…
Sofie: Hong Kong? Do you know everyone?
Dan: Yeah, Hong Kong, I’ve pretty got down pat. No, my, so my dad is half Austrian, so my grandfather is completely Austrian and when was it, like two months’ ago my great-grandmother passed away, so she was 102 turning 103, and we went back for the funeral and I’ve been back various times, we went back for her 100th birthday and the mayor came and gave her a handshake and a photo in the paper kind of thing. But that’s amazing because she’s, she’s lived in this tiny town called [0:22:47.2] for 100 years, basically and since 1947 or 48, in the same house in this place. It’s amazing, you just go back and she’s got this tiny little life of locals and friends and they know everyone but her kids went off to Australia, and, you know, my sister brought her two little babies to meet her, so they’re here great great grandchildren.
Dan: Yeah, and with Alessandro, the youngest one, there’s 100 years between them and…
Dan: It’s amazing, yeah, it’s so weird and I get fascinated by those little tiny places, it was amazing, I imagine, for the first 10 years of growing up somewhere like that really influences you because it is like a little sitcom basically.
Sofie: Yeah, it’s safe, we had these games where we would, me and my friend Martin, who was my neighbour as well, coincidence, we would like run over the road, like back and forth, and then see who had, like, the most guts as when a car would come, you know, who could stay in the road for the longest.
Sofie: We should have been dead, both of us.
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Sofie: It was just this, you know, who runs away first and the cars would be honking and hating us because it was dangerous.
Dan: Yeah, and they’d presumably know you, so they’d be like…
Sofie: Yeah, exactly.
Dan: Yeah, Jesus.
Sofie: My mum hated it, she hated the whole bickering and the whole, you know. I think Denmark has a thing with small town, like a lot of our horror films take place in small towns, there’s always that behind the surface thing because there is, there is a thing with the small, especially the small villages in Jutland, lots of things are going on that’s not completely OK, so I think in, I’m not sure if small towns have this romantic idea in Denmark anymore. I feel as though, I don’t really have that, “Oh, what a lovely place, I want to go.” God, I'm happy I got away.
Dan: That sinister, horror movie, right. I’ve been to Denmark, my step-grandfather is Danish and so, yeah, we used to go.
Dan: They were going to buy a, yeah, Copenhagen, and they were going to buy a restaurant there at one point so I was there scouring for venues and I was so young and I really loved it, really beautiful place.
Sofie: It’s really lovely.
Sofie: Copenhagen is gorgeous.
Dan: Yeah, it is, again, I was a kid, I didn’t really notice, I was just listening to the Chili Peppers, I think, while we were there. Basically, they took me from France to Denmark by car and I slept the whole way, that’s their story. I think I saw a few things but, yeah. Yeah, I don't know, I find, there is something so fascinating about small towns, people, even though Hong Kong’s not a small town, people do get fascinated by that, that’s a little island that was this, you know, hand back over in ’97, so to be there just before that, I always get asked about that but my dad lived in [0:25:30.7] when he was growing up as well and the same thing, you know, like he would do stuff that was constantly getting him in trouble, like standing in the streets. I don't know, there’s something, there’s something, particularly which as a comedian, I always find, I love hearing comedians talk about this sort of small town experience because it gives you insight into worlds that, if you grew up in the city, or if you grew up anywhere that has just a big population, you just have no idea how these things function, you know, that’s just a world, it’s its own little ecosystem going on, on its own, yeah.
Sofie: It really is and there’s all these little, like my grandmother lived in an even smaller town, village, close to [0:26:10.2] and they, one of the daily routines would be to sit by the window to the main street and look out and then just report. They’d go, “Oh, the butcher’s daughter is, I thought her, doesn’t her work start at four? Why is she going at three?” And then I found, I once Googled their little village, no Facebooked it and it had its own fan group.
Sofie: And the first post was, “Unfortunately we have to shut down the local school because someone says that it’s not OK to only have four students.”
Dan: That’s amazing.
Sofie: They had four pupils sitting in their classroom at the local school so they had to end that.
Dan: Oh, my God. That was on the Facebook group?
Sofie: Yeah. And the guys who’d opened the Facebook group were these two gay guys who were like, “We’re moving from Copenhagen to this lovely little town, so we want to make this fan page on Facebook so everyone can find this little town and we can all get together and have lunches and stuff.” They hadn’t considered that two gay guys in a very, very small Danish town and no-one there had ever seen or heard of gayness so they were just, they had the worst time and I was following it on Facebook and I was talking to my grandmother, they moved in next to my grandmother, and I heard their process, my grandparents and their friends. At first they were very appalled and then eventually they were like, “No, you know what,” my grandfather said, “You know what? If they want to wear women’s clothes, that’s fine with me.”
Sofie: “No, that’s not, that’s not what that is,” “Well, then what is it?” I was like, “Oh, God, we’re going to take a step back now.” But it was so lovely seeing their like happiness and then for them to realise, “Oh, OK, this isn’t, this isn’t Beauty and the Beast.”
Dan: This is not going to go down well. Oh, man. Yeah, exactly. Oh, no.
Sofie: I mean, the local bus stopped coming there because no-one was ever on the bus and now you can’t get there unless you’re driving and it just becomes a smaller, it’s quite sad in a way.
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Sofie: It’s just becoming so small and, you know, kind of, it’ll be like a ghost town at some point.
Sofie: Which is…
Dan: Yeah, that’s a shame. It’s cool, though, I love that idea of the little Facebook group.
Sofie: Yeah, it’s really sweet.
Dan: I know. Yeah, I had dinner the other night with, so my fiancée, Fenella’s her name, so if I mention her again, I’ll just Fenella, so Fenella’s friend had us over for dinner and she’s quite a few years older than us, I think, like 10 or 15 years older than us. And she has this thing where, her kids are now grown up so they’re not at home as much so she spends a lot of her time, particularly weekends, on her own, and she found that her, on Facebook, when she joined up, that her university group, from Oxford, were doing this thing where they had one guy who they all used to go out and party with, who was a DJ, and he always used to DJ while they were at school and university and so they haven’t all, none of them had stayed in contact and what he does now, on every Friday night, is he DJs on Facebook, within this group. So he’ll play it as a sort of, a stream, or he’ll put the YouTube videos up and he’ll take requests. And she sits there, and so do a bunch of their year group who might be in on a Friday night and they request songs and they go, “I love this song,” and he gives shout outs to all of them if he sees that they’re online and stuff and they just have this disco individually in their own homes, isn’t that cool?
Sofie: That’s amazing.
Dan: Yeah, I really loved that and that’s just a little, I’d love to get an invite to that and I hope they don’t allow me in because I think that should be private but it’s, yeah, just to see the interaction and it means the world to her. When we had dinner, she was like, “Two more hours until the disco starts.” Yeah, really cool.
Sofie: Oh. That’s amazing, stuff like that is what I want to think about when people say, “Oh, you know, kids these days, on their phones all the time.” Like, no, but that’s huge, that wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have.
Dan: Yeah, exactly. And she’s in contact with so many of her friends now and, I don't know, I love that, yeah, anything like that, with a small group, something buddyish about it.
Dan: You know when Stranger Things came on and everyone was like, “This is amazing,” the paranormal thing, but I think what everyone was saying is, “Isn’t it cool to see a group of friends hang out and chat,” and that’s, to me, that’s what it was, because it was like Stand By Me or…
Sofie: Oh, God, yeah, I remember that.
Dan: …or Babysitter’s Club, I used to watch that a lot with my sister.
Sofie: Breakfast Club as well? Is that the same?
Dan: No, Breakfast Club, it is the same, in that you’re like, “Oh, wow, what a weird gang.” I saw it for the first time the other week and…
Sofie: Oh, really?
Dan: …I didn’t really, I love John Hughes but I didn’t like, spoiler alert for anyone listening, if you haven’t seen it, I’m about to reveal the end but you’ve seen it, right?
Sofie: Yeah, yeah.
Dan: So basically the moral of it is the baddies win. And they’re not baddies but like she decides to become, it’s kind of like the end of Grease, when it goes that way, so.
Sofie: Yeah, you should change for other people.
Dan: Yeah, exactly. It felt like everyone, unless I'm misremembering it but.
Sofie: I’m trying to remember.
Dan: So not baddies, baddies is the wrong thing to say but it just didn’t go the way that you would hope that the people who were, so Judd Nelson gets…
Sofie: Or not cool?
Dan: Yeah, like, actually I can’t even remember the ending now.
Sofie: I’m trying to remember. So the kid, the nerdy kid, I don’t remember their names, the blond kid with the glasses who was a bit of a nerd.
Sofie: No, he just, I seem to remember they all, they end up sitting in a circle sharing everything, don’t they?
Sofie: They’re just sharing their weaknesses and they’re going, “I’m actually not this, or I'm pretending to be that but I’m not.” I think she says, “I’m a virgin,” and then the other girl says, and they start talking about their parents as well. I mean, this is useless, isn’t it?
Dan: Yeah, maybe, yeah, because neither of us can properly remember. Maybe I’m just completely, maybe it’s an awesome ending.
Sofie: There will be listeners going, “USP! No, that’s not what it is!” I want, you did a TV show, I haven’t seen it unfortunately, I just found out that you did it, which is one of my favourite topics about conspiracy theorists, people who believe in aliens and stuff.
Dan: Yeah, I went round the UK interviewing people who either believe that they have seen aliens or that they’re on the brink of uncovering a lot of stuff that’s going on and I personally, I believe in life in the universe, I don’t think we’re being visited and, but my take on it is I love looking at theories, I just think they’re stunning and when you look at, say like the moon landing theory. So I actively get angry if I’m in a conversation with someone who thinks we didn’t land on the moon and maybe one day something will come up and, I’ll, you know, have to just say, “OK, I'm a dick, I was wrong.” But my only thing is I look at all the scientists who say that we definitely did go and go, “OK, there seems,” and evidence that says we don’t, they have an answer for which seems like a logical answer. But, having said that, I love looking at the theories and I love, because there’s not many other things where someone comes up with an idea and as soon as they put it to the public, the world gets involved with it.
So people all around the world are plugging and gluing the holes of the gaps that make the theory not work and they go, “No, actually it works because look there’s a rock that has the letter C on it in this shot on the moon which means that they had props.” And all those kind of like tiny details, nothing else gets constructed into these beautiful stories in the way that conspiracy theories do because it’s just people looking for truth and they might be misguided in what they’re looking for but it’s fascinating.
So, yeah, I did this doc where I wanted to meet the people who believe in these things and find out why, but not laugh at them. I really, that was my, like, you know, when you make a TV show a lot of things happen where executive producers and channel heads and so on try and bend it a different way to maybe what you were told it was going to be and that definitely happened a tiny bit in mine but the one thing they didn’t change was I said there’s no way that we’re going to make fun of these people. And I told all of them when I was interviewing them, “Unfortunately, the way it works out is the thing that you’re saying to most people, is nuts, so you might think you’ve given a good interview here where you haven’t said anything nuts but the core base of what you’re saying is what they think is nuts. So you are, if you’re on Twitter and people find you, they might give you shit for what your belief is.” And they were all kind of cool with that because they thought, “Well, at the end of the day, this is what I think so if that’s what happens, that’s fine.” And, yeah, it was amazing, I’m still in contact with a lot of them who I interviewed.
Sofie: That’s so cool.
Dan: Yeah, it’s one, because also when you’re making a documentary about these people and when you watch it, like a Louis Theroux or, in most cases, they’re only talking about the subject that you’re interviewing them for which is, “I believe in aliens,” but what you don’t ever have the chat about is, “Oh, they also support a football team. Oh, they love this novelist Margaret Atwood.” You know, they have interests, it’s just that they have this other thing that is different to what you think. And, so, yeah, that was the most fascinating thing, was just hanging with them as people as opposed to interviewing them about aliens. What’s your interest in?
Sofie: It’s, I just, I met, I took an Uber once where the guy was obsessed with aeroplanes.
Sofie: So he was a plane, what do you call it, a plane watcher? Plane catcher, no, what do you call them?
Dan: Well, there’s train, yeah, train spotters, plane spotters?
Sofie: Plane spotter, I think that is the word. Where he sits, they’re like a group that sits on this hill outside of the airport and then they just, he videotapes the airplanes. He had 5,000 miniature airplanes and when he has 10,000 he wants to build a museum in, I want to say Poland, I think that’s where he was from. Czechoslov- no, yeah, Poland I think. So he had this huge obsession and he was just talking about these aeroplanes and I was, you know, I kindly let him know that I had no idea what he was talking about, I didn’t know anything about planes. He would say, “Oh, when’s your next journey?” I’d say, “Oh, I’m going to Canada.” He was like, “Where from?” I was like, “Heathrow.” He’d be like, “Oh, you’re going on an Airbus something something.”
Dan: Oh, wow, cool.
Sofie: Cool, great.
Dan: Just knew it all.
Sofie: He knew everything and I did that whole, “Have you ever seen Airforce One?” And he was like, “Yes, and two and three and four and five and six,” I was like, “What?” He was like, “Yeah, so they have six Airforce planes.”
Dan: I didn’t know that.
Sofie: Because, so since some event, they’re only allowed, like the President and the President’s wife are not allowed to fly on the same plane in case one of them…
Dan: Really, OK?
Sofie: …and the Vice President, so they send all these decoy planes, Airforce Ones out as well. I had no idea.
Dan: Right, yeah, I didn’t know that.
Sofie: He was so fascinating, he kept talking about planes for so long and I was trying to go, “So, have you seen Con Air?” And he got really furious, he was like, “I can’t believe they destroyed that plane.”
Sofie: Oh, but it was lovely, but he talked about having been in a documentary that hadn’t come out yet and he said, “I’m so nervous because I’m not a freak, I’m not a weirdo, this is just my passion and I know they’re going to, I’m afraid they’re going to portray it as if I'm a weirdo when this is actually just my passion.” I was like, “Yeah, there is a chance they’ll do that, like, knowing TV,” and that would be so sad because it was, as soon as you get past that little instinct in your brain that says, “Oh, you know a lot about planes, don’t you?” and then you start just listening going, “Oh, this is amazing,” hearing someone be so passionate about a topic that they can’t even control them, I mean, it’s beautiful.
Dan: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it is amazing. Well, the, so the radio show that I make, Museum of Curiosity, I came up with that 10 years ago with my buddy Rich and John and the idea behind it was I started going to a lot of lectures where experts were talking, because I was doing research for QI at the time and it was quite time consuming to just read books all the time and so I started going to these lectures thinking, “Oh, maybe I can get some, some interesting information,” and you start hearing these people talk about the thing that they love, be it snails or, you know, a single droplet of water that they’ve got in a jar that they’ve been looking at for years, that’s not a genuine example, that was just all I could think of. But it’s stuff like that, you know, pineapples or whatever, and they just are so excited about what they are talking about and often when you’re that excited you can be interesting about it in a way that is impossible to be interesting about other stuff, like talking about football if you just like it. There’s a lady called Erica McAlister who you should meet, I think you’d really love her, she works at the Natural History Museum and she’s their fly expert so she studies flies nonstop and she goes into jungles looking for new species. And she does not have time for anyone who doesn’t like flies, like if you just said, “I’m not into flies,” she basically says, “Get the fuck out of my face,” because she just can’t understand it, she’s like, “How can you not love flies?” And the way she talks about it, you immediately go, “God, I love flies too.”
Dan: Yeah, and, so, yeah, do you know if his documentary’s come out yet or, the plane guy?
Sofie: No, I don’t know. He sent me his, he told me what his YouTube name was and I forgot it but his videos of these planes taking off had like thousands of views, like people, “Oh, my God, that’s a really interesting plane.” It’s fascinating.
Dan: He sounds amazing, yeah.
Sofie: He chased a plane for, was it 15 years he chased a plane, it was the, it’s like there’s only one in the world, it’s the biggest plane in the world and as he said angrily, “Most people think that the something is the biggest plane in the world but that’s a passenger flight so actually the biggest plane that’s not a passenger flight is this one,” which I think it was used to transport nuclear weapons or something and that arrived like two months before I met him so that’s like, he saw his…
Dan: So he got the holy grail?
Sofie: But I did like a pilot for a documentary series with a channel, I don't know how much I want, I’m allowed to say, where I was going to interview fans, because my first show was about being a Westlife fan, so I was going to interview fans of these new bands that I hadn’t heard of and follow them around as they were trying to meet their idols, which I thought was going to be so lovely but they wanted to do the same thing of like, “Oh, maybe you say that and then we want to see them scream.” No, let’s, no, like I want, because I was one of them, I don’t want to make them look ridiculous, I want to be a compassionate interviewer and say, “Oh, I totally get that.”
Sofie: And, you know, I saw that she finally did meet this band called The Babs?
Dan: Yeah, The Babs, yeah.
Sofie: And I’m like, nice guys, and it was just, I loved seeing this, and they wanted me, the camera crew and the producer, whatever she was, wanted me to interfere when she was meeting them and just ask like a question like, “How does it feel right now meeting this fan?” And I was like, “No, we’re not doing that.”
Dan: Yeah, no way, that’s a moment.
Sofie: It’s a moment. I wanted to ask you something. What do you think it is about conspiracy theories that’s so exciting?
Dan: I think it’s that there seems to be a, I think the reason things like Sherlock and all that have stayed so popular since they, you know, were first created is that we all think of ourselves as detectives and a lot of us can’t get into the kind of bigger things of how the universe began because that involves a lot of mathematics and so on but things like a little, a moment in history where there might an alternative view, we get fascinated by because A, we do love to play detective but B, when you hear that there might be a different reason, that’s this sort of a true reality about the world that’s not the story we’ve been told, it kind of makes you feel like you’ve got one up on everyone else on the planet. “Oh, that’s how you think he died? OK, yeah, you don’t know anything.”
Like that’s, I think there’s a kind of sense of that, there’s this exciting plot twist that we hope for when we hear little things like that and it does rewire you slightly because if Kennedy was assassinated by the government, that changes a huge bit of history in the way that we view it. If we didn’t land on the moon, that is insane and the idea that, that’s what I find incredible, that it was a huge operation to get to the moon, the fact that no-one credible has said, “We didn’t go there,” someone on the inside, that, I mean, yeah, that’s a big secret to keep, that’s huge. And if we found out that we didn’t land there? Fuck, that changes everything, like literally changes everything. So I think that’s what it is, we love being detectives, we love nit-picking at little moments in history and being able to say, “Come sit next to me, I’ll tell you what the real thing on earth that’s going on.”
Sofie: The inside?
Dan: Yeah, I think that, I mean, there must be other stuff because I don't know why you would want to know that we didn’t land on the moon. I don't know why people are so into the idea that we didn’t land on the moon. But, and again, as I say, when I meet these people, I absolutely love them and I love hearing the theories and they’re not, they’re not mean to you if you don’t believe in them because they’re human, they’re just normal nice people. The only group I’ve met that I’ve found quite dangerous when it comes to conspiracy theories is 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
Sofie: Oh, really?
Dan: Purely because, this is just from quite limited experience, about meeting five or six people who, who kind of advocate it properly and write online and so on. They all see it as a Jewish conspiracy.
Dan: And as soon as that starts, and I’ve, it was really odd, when I made my UFO documentary, I made a little taster video where I met 9/11, people who believe that it was a government thing, and it always came back to a Jewish plot and I was in a bar and was talking to this lady and she was saying it out loud and I was like, while we were filming, I was like, “Is this legal to be spouting this hate?” Because it’s proper hate, it was really, I’ve never felt so furious about anything really ever, it was just, because it was like, you hate, that’s a group of humans that you hate, this is not…
Sofie: Yeah, I thought we got rid of that way of thinking ages ago.
Dan: Yeah, exactly and it felt like, it’s odd because it felt like a type of racism that is, is, all racism is bad but it felt like this really odd section of racism that was accusary of, of, you know, events that are shocking and, I don't know, it felt really odd. I didn’t know how to comprehend it because…
Sofie: Yeah, and it must feel like the hatred came first. Like, she didn’t hear about 9/11 and then go, “Oh, now I hate Jewish people,” she must have hated them and then thought, “What can I pin them on?”
Dan: Yeah, yeah, it was really odd, she kind of, I think she liked me a bit more because she thought I was Jewish, I’m not Jewish but I sound, sorry, I don’t sound but most people, when they meet me, with my name, Daniel Schreiber and my face, I tend to be seen as Jewish and, that sounds, I hope that doesn’t come across as like, as a, it’s just I, most people when they see me, most of my Jewish friends as well for the first like six months of our friendships, assumed that I was, I was Jewish. And she was like, “Oh, it’s so funny because you look so Jewish but you’re not Jewish,” and it was kind of like a –
Sofie: She liked that.
Dan: Yeah, she was like, “Oh, it’s so great, we can be, we can be buddies, because it’s fine because you’re not Jewish, but isn’t it funny how much you look,” and I was like, “What is this?”
Sofie: Did you see there was, was it Louis Theroux’s documentary where he meets like neo-Nazis and they ask him if he’s Jewish and he doesn’t want to reply.
Sofie: And it gets really tense and they keep going, “Well, if you’re not, you should tell us,” and he’s like, “I’m not telling you whether or not I am,” and it get so dark.
Dan: He’s so brave for doing that. Genuinely brave. I remember seeing that because I, when I met this lady, I was brought into a room and it was full of these 9/11 people talking about the inside job and the opening question, they just all turned and looked at me and went, “Are you Jewish?”
Dan: And I just went, “No,” immediately, out of total fear and I watched, afterwards, I watched Louis do that and I was just like, “Fuck, man, he is, that is what it’s about,” the way that he just refuses to.
Sofie: Oh, my God.
Dan: Yeah, it was really cool, I love him, I mean, he is, to me, the, I can’t wait to see the Scientology movie, I think it’s going to be amazing.
Sofie: OK, I’ll tell you something embarrassing. I saw him at Latitude Festival, like he was walking behind me, and I screamed. I don’t do that, I haven’t done that since I was a teen and a fan of Westlife.
Dan: [Laughs] Yeah.
Sofie: I was like, “Oh, my God.”
Dan: Did you say hi or not?
Sofie: No, I didn’t.
Dan: Oh, no.
Sofie: No, I'm not going to be, no. I mean, in this business, I feel like people like that, I think, we’ll meet them at some point, you know?
Dan: I agree, I totally agree. If we, if you are in a position where you do stand up or something like that and you tend to come into contact with that, that type of world, eventually you will meet that person.
Sofie: Yeah, you don’t want to be the person screaming in his face at Latitude.
Dan: Yeah, you don’t want to –
Sofie: “Oh, wasn’t that you who overreacted?”
Dan: Exactly, yeah.
Sofie: But that’s my, that’s, there are some people, I think it’s the people that I was kind of into when I lived in Denmark because that was a separate world from this. So people that I find now, then, “Oh, I love that artist,” I’m not that way but when it was Denmark, because it was, I think in my mind I would never meet them, so they kind of went a notch up on the pedestal.
Dan: Yes, yeah, totally, yeah. I, when I was living in Sydney, you know, there weren’t really any famous people who I loved, like authors and stuff, they were all British or American, and, more so there are now because Australia in the last 10, 15 years has really stepped up with cultural output which is so exciting but while I was there, and actually, you know, obviously it existed massively, it’s awesome culture there but all my favourite comedians and so on were British. And I remember meeting an author for the first time, I was in a second-hand bookshop in Sydney and it was the most exciting thing, and it was a guy who was out of print, he’d done like three books and it took me about three months to track a single one of those books down, I had to buy it off a library just in order to get it because I couldn’t find it anywhere.
Dan: And, oh, man, that was so exciting and so I always say the same thing, it was almost, even though I was in Sydney, it felt like a small town to where real things of the authors that I loved were roaming the streets daily that you could bump into and it’s so exciting. Still, I’ve never lost the buzz of meeting someone who’s written a book that I find fascinating and it’s kind of like driven a lot of the things that I’ve gone, tried to create for radio and TV. It’s just, I just want to hang out with the people that I’m totally buzzed by.
Sofie: Yeah, do you feel like, it feels so personal to have read someone’s book, it feels so, you feel like you must know a bit of them that you wouldn’t necessarily know if you just met them.
Sofie: I just watched, I’m very biased right now because I just watched, I read Misery when I was a teenager and then I saw the film for the first time and I just love it.
Dan: Yeah, it’s amazing.
Sofie: Oh, it’s so good.
Dan: I’ve not read the book but the movie is incredible, yeah.
Sofie: Oh, my God, it’s, and I find that, I read a lot of Dean Koontz?
Dan: Oh, yeah, right.
Sofie: I was so into, when I was like 10 or 11, I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz and I was so into that whole, kind of a bit gory, a bit, you know, thriller, so it wasn’t, it wasn’t too complicated for me at that age but it was enough that I felt really...
Dan: Have you met Dean Koontz?
Sofie: No, not yet, I don’t even know how he looks. Do you know how they look? Do you look them up so that in case you’re in a bookshop?
Dan: Yeah, now I do, yeah. No, back in the day, no, because I mean I didn’t have the internet really, back in the day in Australia when I was growing up, like ’97 kind of period, we just started getting it. But like, I remember the period of the internet where we didn’t even know about search engines at the time so it was like how do you find stuff on this thing because you need the exact address and me and all my school mates, so we were about 13, we discovered there’s a magazine in the news agency that you could buy which was basically like Playboy, it was Playboy except it was just listings of Pamela Anderson and it would come with like 25 different URLs that you could type in to see a single picture of her in a bikini or something like that. It was terrible but, like, that’s how new the internet was back then, you bought magazines that just had listings of, basically, a printed Google. And so, no, I never knew what any of them, unless they were on TV talking about what they did, I would never see what they look like. But there were a few, like, I had, because I kind of keep it almost as a rule now that I don’t really like to just walk up to someone and say, “Hi, sorry to interrupt but I just,” because even though I’m sure they like it, it’s just, I just think, “Oh, no.” I feel like I wouldn’t have met them properly but I did, I did do it once for, I was at the Hay Festival and I met, well, I was in the queue to meet Alan Alda who is, did you ever see MASH, the TV show MASH?
Sofie: No, I didn’t.
Dan: MASH is my favourite all-time TV series and he was Hawkeye in it, he was the main guy. And I loved it for, I’ve been thinking about it recently because I used to watch it when I was a kid in Hong Kong and I used to sit by the TV with a tiny tape recorder, you used to get these mini cassettes. So imagine like a normal tape –
Sofie: But tiny.
Dan: Yeah, like a quarter of the size of it and you’d put it in and I would record MASH episodes and then I’d listen to it on the way to school, just the whole episode again. And it meant the world to me, that show, and I finally met him and I wanted to sort of like, you know, be like, “Hey, I love you so much, man, can I get a photo?” And I just froze and I just, in a really genuine way said, “Mr Alda, I just want to say that you are my absolute hero and MASH is just, it really formed me into who I am.” And he kind of took it in and he said, “Thanks,” and he shook my hand but, and it felt like the way I’d said it genuinely hit him as like a, “Wow, what a cool thing to say.”
So I think those are OK, you know, sometimes you have people, I’ve started occasionally to get people coming up, because of the podcast that I do, coming up to say hi and it’s really friendly because none of us are famous so they’d actually feel more like, “Hey, I just want to say hi, how you doing? And, oh, I’ve got a cool fact for you.” But last Thursday, yeah, it was last Thursday, I was in Brighton, and this 17-year-old girl came up and she was shaking like crazy and I was like, “Are you OK?” And she was like, “Sorry, I just want to say that I listen to your podcast all the time,” and then she said, “I, I suffer from huge anxiety and when I go to bed, I listen to it, when I study for exams, I take a pause and I calm myself by listening to it,” and she was like, “I listen to you guys as a, almost like a state of mental health to keep me from freaking out,” and she was like, “And I just want to say thanks for that.” And that is not like a, “Hey, alright, piss off, I'm going to,” that’s like, “Whoa, that’s, I’m going to remember that for years, that’s huge.” So those, you can have a nice time like that but I’ve rarely done it outside of Alan Alda, God that was huge, so weird, suddenly saying something really deep to someone, where you’re like, “Man, you really…”
Sofie: Yeah, because you have such a short time to phrase everything that one thing has meant and it’s been years of something that’s built in your head.
Sofie: Like there’s a, there was a, I watched a musical, Les Mis, the 25th jubilee.
Sofie: And I watched that in the cinema in Denmark and I think that was the moment I really decided to move to England, which sounds ridiculous because it wasn’t like, “Oh, I’ll watch this musical every day,” but there was something, I think it shifted in me when I saw it and I can’t explain why but there was something about, I don't know what it was and I wouldn’t even be able to explain it if I figured it out but if I ever, my dream is to meet one of these, the actors –
Dan: Who were in the stage production of it?
Sofie: Yeah, because in my head, it’s this, that would finish the circle off, it’d be like, “Well, I saw you and now we meet, so now the whole, everything makes sense.”
Dan: Is that, so would that be the full circle, one of the cast members?
Sofie: It would be pretty cool.
Dan: You should look into who’s in it, I’m sure there’s –
Sofie: Oh, I, oh.
Dan: Oh, you know.
Sofie: Yeah. My sister became a massive fan of Ramin Karimloo, who was the main, who was the Phantom, like a teenager fan. I’ve, you know, I wouldn’t call myself a fan, you know, just like, “This is great and amazing and I love this.” And then I took her to this concert in London at the Union Chapel and I kind of, you know, I got to get in before the audience because I once did a gig there.
Dan: Oh, cool.
Sofie: So I took her to the front row and I felt really cool and I was like, and she was like shaking and almost crying and I was like, “Oh, come on, get your act together, you know, you’re an adult, come on.” And then he came on stage, Ramin Karimloo, and she like lost it and I was like, “Come on, you know, that’s cute but seriously though.” And then she said, “Do you know who’s behind him?” And it was the other guy from Les Mis that I liked, I hadn’t seen him, and I was like, “Oh, my God! Oh, shit, don’t lose it, don’t lose it.” [Hyperventilates] And I just completely lost it, I was like, “This is the worst,” and my sister was going, “Please stop it, it’s embarrassing. You’re embarrassing me.”
Dan: That’s, now that you say that, I remember I have once done that as well, in Sydney, when I was going to a friend’s house, I found out on the way to the house that he lived in this top floor flat and in the bottom floor was a guy called Garry McDonald. Garry McDonald was a character comedy back in the early 60s and 70s, I think, no, maybe 70s and 80s, and he had a character called Norman Gunston, which if you’ve not seen it is one of the best comedy characters ever, he was an Aussie interviewer, he was basically the original Ali G. He would do these mock interviews and he’d have nothing, he’d get exclusive interviews and he’d have nothing to say to them and just freak out and not know what to do. It’s an incredible show, it’s on YouTube, all his interviews. But, so I was walking to the house going, “Wow, insane that he lives here,” and suddenly he was walking towards me on the path, leaving his house as I was walking to the house and I just paused and I went, “Oh, my God, Garry McDonald,” and he kind of looked at me with a smile but then I said, “Oh, my God, Garry McDonald. Oh, my God, Garry McDonald,” and I just kept repeating it and I didn’t stop and so he went from smiling to looking really confused to looking a bit scared and then he walked on.
Dan: And I was hoping that no-one had seen that but my dad was behind me and still, to this day, just very occasionally, he’ll just lean in and go, “Oh, my God, Garry McDonald.” [Laughs] Totally flipped out, I just was so in awe of being in front of this guy, just thought, oh, my goodness, but I just didn’t, yeah, I lost it, it was terrible.
Sofie: And now you have people doing that to you.
Dan: Well, no, that’s not, to me, that’s just saying…
Sofie: It’s kind of, and it’s going to, you know, the further you, you know, the more you do and the more people see you, and the more, you know, it’s.
Dan: Maybe, I don't know, I guess Louis Theroux would probably say that he wouldn’t expect that kind of a thing as well, to have, you know, someone shriek as he’s walking through a…
Dan: And, but, and then so maybe that’s, like I can’t picture it myself that that would ever, that I would be in a position where someone’s going, “My God, I can’t believe.”
Sofie: “Oh, my God, oh, my God.”
Dan: Yeah, yeah, I mean, I would hope that you do something in your life that, if you’re trying to make some, if you’re trying to make good stuff, you know, that someone sees it as good stuff and I think, yeah, in my head, I don't know if you’ve had this but when you looked to all these people, when you were a kid, I always thought, you know, here I am a 14-year-old kid inside a second-hand bookshop looking for a Marx Brothers book or looking for a Charlie Chaplin book and the excitement of finding this book and I always thought, “God, I would love it if one day, just something, a tiny thing that I did, would have a 14-year-old kid pick up and old, out-of-print copy of it and get a buzz from it.” That, weirdly, is my only, my only drive is that.
Sofie: Did you always want to create though? Did you want to do that when you were 14?
Dan: Yeah, yeah, when I was 14, I was –
Sofie: You wanted to make something for others?
Dan: Yeah, I just wanted to, I was in love with comedy, always in love with comedy and I just thought, “That’s what I want to do in life and I don't know how to do it or where to do it or what form to do it, but that’s, that’s the thing.” I like making people laugh and you’ve got to have some realities as you go, like one of my realities with comedy is that I, you know, I’ve been doing stand up for a bit but I don’t think I'm a particularly good stand up, I think I can make a room laugh but I think the room at the end will go, “Oh, I was laughing but, you know, I don't know, it was fine.” Whereas when you do comedy, you do proper stand up and you get better and better as you go along and you focus on it and it’s on your mind all the time. I think I know how to make stuff where I can combine information and then have a joke on the end of it and maybe that’s where I’m going to be better doing my kind of comedy. But, you know, as a kid the dream was, you know, imagine being Seinfeld, how cool would that be? But also it’s cool to, sort of, get older and go, “Oh, no, actually I'm not, that’s not what my brain’s cut out to do.” I can’t write that zinging joke, I can’t focus on a tiny little bit of life and make an observation about it but I can say, “Did you know that there’s a pubic lice hunter and he’s collecting them because they’re going extinct because too many women are having Brazilian waxes?” That’s the kind of stuff that I, and it’s a joke that’s already written because it’s a thing in the paper but that’s where my sense of humour tends to gravitate towards now. So it’s, yeah, it’s, the 14-year-old me would have been like, “Oh, OK, cool, that’s the way you’re headed, I thought we were doing stand up but that’s fine.”
Sofie: I think you also make it accessible in terms, like, there’s a lot of, like I grew up quite, we were quite working class and we didn’t really have, like, my house wasn’t academic, I didn’t, and this is going to make you want to punch me in the face, I was 18 when I first looked at a world map.
Sofie: Right, I know, and I thought, I thought that Australia was China.
Dan: OK. [Laughs]
Sofie: Like in my head, when I’d imagined it, I thought China was this like Australian island thingy, I don’t know where I thought Australia was, and then I thought Africa was South America and I don't know where I would have placed Africa, I don’t remember, I don’t know where that logically would have worked in my brain but I didn’t know there was this extra bit underneath America.
Dan: Yeah, right.
Sofie: So, what I’m trying to say is I’m basically a bit dumb when it comes to facts and like basic knowledge and, you know, my intelligence was different. You know, I would have been able to understand everything had it been told to me but it just wasn’t.
Dan: Yeah, but I, so I think, I disagree with you that you, to say that you don’t know, like, a certain fact, like where a country is, I don’t think that’s what intelligence or being informed is about because we all have gaps. My, I wouldn’t be able to tell you and I lived in Australia for 12 years or eight or nine, my family’s still there so I lose count because I go back for huge periods. I wouldn’t be able to tell half the names of where any of the cities are placed on the map, it’s just because I’ve just had no interest in it, I don’t care.
Sofie: Yeah, I get that but it’s, I agree, and I'm not, it’s not being self-deprecating, I’m not going, “I was stupid,” but I did have, because I also knew what had happened, so I had to take out, my teachers, every time we had a new teacher in our class, I had to take them outside and I had to explain to them, “Listen, I completely get everything you’ve explained within this topic but now that we’re going to start talking about history or politics, I currently do not know what left and right is. I don't know what you mean when you say left wing or right wing. So in order for me to get, to start understanding this big politic discussion, I need to understand the basics, and no-one’s ever taught them to me because my mum didn’t know. So you need to, so I need to know the bit,” and when you’re at that age, no-one considers telling you, you know, what does right wing mean, which part, which end of the scale is that. So I needed to have all those, like history, I had to tell them, you know, “OK, but you first need to explain to me what does this one word mean.” I get how this country did that to that country but you need to, that little basic thing you need to know, you need to know the letters before you can write, even though you understand the long word.
Dan: Yeah, but that’s, I, yeah, totally, but that means that A, you were willing to learn the stuff but B, you were also asking the question that most people are really too cowardly to ask because everyone’s a bit too afraid of exposing ignorance.
Sofie: Of being stupid.
Dan: Yeah, towards a subject and actually it’s ignorance is the curiosity that kind of allows you to go, “Hang on, bring me to the basics here because I need to.” I do it all the time. I genuinely, like I know so little about so many things, including politics. Like only in the last couple of years have I really understood what politics is about and I still, I’m not overly sure about what it all means because it’s so confusing. But I remember when I started at QI when I was 19, because I went to this hippy school and I didn’t, I ended up with no grades from the school so I didn’t go to university and even if I wanted to go to university, I couldn’t because I had no marks, and I started with QI and I kind of, my position was ask the dumb question. Because, and as soon as you set yourself as that person who does that, then it’s fine. Like there are big words that are used still, that are quite normal words to most people and I’m like, “Sorry, what does that mean?” And everyone’s like, “You have to know what that means!” “Honestly, I just, I don't know what that word means.”
Sofie: Oh, you should have pretended to be from another country, that’s what I do. “Oh, second language, can you explain that word to me?”
Dan: Yeah, I can’t, yeah, I know, I know. I prefer the Hong Kong thing, “I grew up in Asia.” “You grew up in Hong Kong, you went to a top school that taught English properly.”
Sofie: You should have thought of that before you came over.
Dan: Yeah, exactly.
Sofie: Another origin story.
Dan: Yeah, exactly.
Sofie: I want to, if I had been 14 and I had been able to, well, I was but when I was 14, if I’d been able to listen to No Such Thing as a Fish, you guys would have made it so accessible and I wouldn’t have felt like I didn’t, like it’s a nice way of framing knowledge in this funny, down-to-earth, accessible, nice bubble.
Sofie: I think that’s what’s really, really worth so much, that you can hear it and feel like you’re listening to something that’s quite intelligent but you don’t feel stupid by listening to it.
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Sofie: And you get that curiosity fed or you make people want to learn and want to know things which is incredible.
Dan: Well, it is, I mean, because even if you’re not properly into facts, when you hear a good fact, it does something to you because it’s just, it’s kind of like, as I was saying with conspiracy theorists being into the idea of being a detective, sometimes there are just basic facts that when they hit you, you think, “What?!” So, I remember the early days of QI, John Lloyd, the guy who runs it, he said, he told me this thing about, what did he say? Why doesn’t Cleopatra have a pyramid? Why wasn’t she buried in a pyramid? And I was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s a bit odd, like why wasn’t she?” And then he said, “The reason is, is that she’s closer in time to the Apollo 11 moon landings than she is to the pyramids when they were built.” So they’d stopped making pyramids, so much time had passed and then she lived and died, that she’s closer to us standing on the moon than she is to the building of that.
Sofie: Oh, wow.
Dan: And that is just something that is, “Wow,” that’s altered everything I thought I knew about how history was because in my head, Cleopatra was in ancient Egypt and…
Sofie: It was a 10-year gap.
Dan: Yeah, exactly and had a pyramid, yeah. So like little, and so when you hear facts like that, you just think, “God, this is amazing.” Read one, so when John Hodgman came on our show the other day, yeah, read one the other day which was that the first movie to be made about the Titanic, after the Titanic sunk, was only 29 days after it had sunk and it starred one of the people who survived from the Titanic. It was this young actress called Dorothy and she got back, someone talked her into doing it, so she starred and there she was, you know, this silent movie, all the press shots were her in a studio wearing the clothing that she was wearing on board the Titanic when it sank. And then it went out and it got mixed reviews and she had a massive breakdown post that so I have a feeling that she could never get the blame for it because someone probably talked her into it and she was kind of post-stress from the event but also thinking, “Yes, I’m an actor, I want to do this.” But just like tiny things like that, you just think, “How did I not know about that? How did I not know that that was a thing?” I know a lot about the Titanic but no-one’s ever told me that and.
Sofie: Yeah, have you heard of the Jane Hotel?
Dan: The Jane Hotel?
Sofie: In New York.
Sofie: It was, I stayed there when I was in New York because it was the hotel where they took all the survivors and they kind of let them stay there while they were sorting out all the insurance stuff.
Sofie: It’s this, and it’s kind of, these teeny tiny rooms and there’s like a shared bathroom, it’s horrible if you just wanted to live in a nice hotel, it’s awful, but knowing that that’s the history of this hotel.
Dan: That’s so cool.
Sofie: I was so obsessed with Titanic. We do not have time to get into that, I was, before the movie, by the way.
Dan: Before the movie?
Sofie: Oh, yeah, I read all the books before it had the movie cover.
Dan: Really? Why? What were you interested in?
Sofie: I don't know what it was, there was me and my friend and we just got this weird obsession and for a long period of time, I knew all the numbers, I knew all the numbers of who had died, who were this, who were that and the boats and, all the facts, all the weird facts.
Dan: Yeah, so did you know that about the movie?
Sofie: I think I must have known it at some point.
Sofie: Because then it became popular and I was like, “Oh, I'm not going to be one of those people,” because everyone was like, “Oh, yeah, you’re obsessed with Titanic, we’re all obsessed with Titanic,” “No, I was before.” I watched the movie maybe 13 times a day for months, loved it.
Dan: I accidentally walked, with my friend Ash, up to the red-carpet moment of when they did the re, sort of done up Titanic recently at, so this was about a few years ago now, maybe like three years ago when James Cameron and Leo and Kate came for the red-carpet event where they, yeah, it was an anniversary but they also had done some stuff. And we got so excited but mainly because three days before, James Cameron was at the bottom of the ocean, at the Marianas Trench, so we watched that live when he went down and stuff and then did his press conference and three days later, there he is on a red carpet, doing Titanic. Yeah, we totally, like we just hung out and we were just amongst all these like, you know, teeny-boppy fans of Leo. Actually, there was a lot of older, because like they would have been my school age when they were in love with Leo and then, so, yeah, but it was a lot of screaming and we were just like, “Aagh, James Cameron! He went to the bottom of the ocean! Aaagh!”
Dan: I loved it so much.
Sofie: That summarises everything. I usually ask the question towards the end which is if you could go, if you saw yourself as a baby, like you were present when teeny-tiny Dan Schreiber came out, was a teeny-tiny baby in Hong Kong?
Dan: Yeah, Hong Kong, yeah.
Sofie: And he’s terrified because the world is kind of scary and it’s his first meeting with the world because there’s light and it’s loud noises which weren’t there in the womb and it’s all a bit terrifying and screaming and screaming. But you have the ability to say something to him that he needs to know for the rest of his life. Like it doesn’t have to be something you, you know, like it would be advice that you already know now which now helps you but you get to say one thing to this baby, who is terrified of what’s going to happen and how to deal with all this bright light and all these noises forever.
Sofie: What would you tell baby Dan Schreiber?
Dan: I don't know. God, that’s quite a deep question. I’ve seen a video of when I was born actually.
Dan: Yeah, it was from a side angle fortunately.
Dan: And it’s quite funny, the video starts when my mum is having contractions and my dad brought this camera in and it was quite amazing because the camera was, had a battery pack and so that was very new for cameras. Hong Kong used to get technology from America that, sort of, Australia and England hadn’t quite yet got and I think because a lot was manufactured in China, they could get it over quite quickly. So there’s this amazing video of my mum having contractions in the bed and the doctor sort of, with his hand on her stomach but not even facing her, looking at my dad going, “So what sort of battery life do you get on that? Is that?” And they have like a 20-minute conversation, it's like, “And the saturation of image when you’re out in the parks and stuff?” “It’s great, it’s amazing,” and my mum is just like [Panting] in the background.
It’s an amazing start to the video but then, then my dad had brought in a speaker system for when I was born and they played, as I was born, David Bowie, the whole way through the birth, they put on the Let’s Dance album, and I was originally meant to be called China, because of the song China Girl and they were living in Asia and my sister is called China so she did eventually get named China. And so I was born into the world, into, you know, Modern Love and Let’s Dance and Ricochet and, I don't know, I wouldn’t say anything. I genuinely, because I, I have to say, like, it always feels pretty lame to say that you’ve had a good life but like, I’ve genuinely have had loving parents, I’ve had an amazing set of friends who I’ve known since zero who are still my best friends, and you know, I’ve met the love of my life, last year, it’s all been great. So I wouldn’t say anything, probably, I’d probably just turn up the volume on the Bowie songs and just boogie out with, with the dance going on in the room, yeah.
Sofie: That’s amazing. You’re such a dork.
Dan: Such a dork. Let’s get that Bowie up.
Sofie: Thank you so much, Dan.
Dan: Thanks for having me.
Sofie: Hey, thanks for listening, I am so sick now. I love Dan Schreiber so much, he’s so great. And, yeah, please give this a five-star rating, I want to thank all of you for having, what do you call that, contributed via Patreon.com where I have a little profile and you can chip and you can choose an amount to donate per episode, it could be like $5, $10, it’s in dollars because it’s an American site, and then it just automatically takes that from your account every month and it’s so lovely because, you know, this is more work than I thought it would be so I’m spending quite a lot of time on doing this. But I love doing it and it’s just a bonus that you guys want to contribute financially, it really means a lot. And, yeah, eventually I’ll be able to do all the, all the things that the cool comedians do which is, you know, get big, exciting names because then I can afford to pay them or, I don't know how it works, I don't know how it works. I just assume that the more you support, the better this gets, I might be wrong, who knows? I’m too sick for this.
I had one more thing, yeah, join the Facebook group, Made of Human Podcast and follow us on Twitter @podmoh P O D M O H, and just thanks for listening. I’m recording this on a Saturday, this will be out on Wednesday, because I’m going, on Wednesday I’ll be in Spain, with my sister which was meant to be hot, it’s apparently not hot at all so I think it’ll just be me and my sister in a hotel room and I bought us matching pyjamas with dinosaurs on it so you’re welcome. I don't know why I said that, it’s not like, well, you know what, I might upload a photo, I’ll see if I can upload a photo of my dinosaur pyjamas.
Anyways, I should stop rambling but I, oh, I'm like, why am I sick all the time? I don't know. Anyways, love each other because I love you and you’re the best listeners on earth and this is the best podcast I’ve ever had the pleasure of creating, I’m so proud of it and I love it and thank you for supporting it and please come and see me on tour because a lot of the places I’m going, I don't know those places at all and I tell people that I'm going to this place and people will go, “Oh, wow, you’re going to Newport, good luck,” and they’ll send me these YouTube videos of people fighting in the streets of Newport and it terrifies me so much. So if you live in Newport or any of the cities I mentioned at the beginning, or any of the cities you can see listed on sofiehagen.com and you’re a nice person, which you are because you’re listening to this, please come. Please get a ticket and show up and I’ll, just, in my head I’m going to be gigging to these big muscly men with no brains who are going to be like fighting in the front row and that terrifies me a tiny bit, I know people are joking but holy shit, I’m terrified about Newport and Newport is the first date on my tour. So if you live in Newport, or Cardiff, I think Cardiff might be close, I don't know, please come to that show and hold me afterwards because I will be scared. OK, thanks for listening, speak to you soon and goodbye.