The truth isn't out there.
Have you ever told a lie and regretted it?
About 10 years ago I wrote a comedy show about 2 burglars that I was going to take to the Edinburgh fringe festival, if you've never visited Edinburgh festival you'll be amazed to know that there about 2,500 different shows performing in one city over three weeks. As you can imagine getting noticed at such a monster event is very difficult, especially if its your first festival, your first play and you have no notable celebrities in it.
I thought long and hard about making a splash, to come up with a media coup that would ignite ticket sales, in the past you might remember Aaron Barchak a comedian who got through tight security at Windsor Castle to gate-crash Prince Williams 21st birthday dressed as Osama bin Laden. His stunt thrust him onto the front pages of the British press and sold him many tickets.
My idea wasn't as daring, my idea was quite conventional, my idea was to tell the world that I was an ex burglar. The headline for my press release was “Ex Burglar steals the show” - not brilliant, but interesting. I sent off the emails to all the national and local press and waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing, not a jot, not even my local newspaper thought it was news worthy. I was about to give up when I remembered Home Truths a BBC radio show that took stories from the public and told them, so I mailed Home Truths and within 2 hours they had rung me and booked me to talk to their legendary host John Peel. Now, I must tell you that John Peel is no longer with us; he was and still is a national treasure, I myself was a massive fan and ideally, I wouldn’t want to lie to him, but we needed publicity.
Here’s a good game. Write the words REFORMED BURGLAR in your internet search engine I know that if you live in the UK you’ll come up with my story at the top of your search, indeed you can still click and hear me telling my story. And yes ladies and gentlemen it is just a story, just a made up story about a young kid dealing with low-level crime and coming through it with the love of a good woman. I left the BBC studio pleased that this might be heard and we may create a bit of interest in our Edinburgh show.
What came to pass was nothing more than astounding. I got no newspaper interest, but I did get a call from a marketing executive for an insurance company who had heard my story and wanted to pay me to go on a publicity drive to help keep homes safe over the summer holidays. He wanted me to go on the radio and give the burglars “inside’ story about keeping your home safe. Now, I was and am a low paid actor, my life is feast or famine, so if a wealthy company comes along and asks me to play a part for them I have to say yes.
I studied home security advice from the police and put my own spin on it and turned up to do the first of 48 radio interviews over two days. After the first day I was heard by T.V. producers who wanted me to go on their shows and demonstrate to their viewers how to not leave ladders against the bathroom window to keep safe. By the end of day two I was a Burgling Celebrity in magazines, newspapers and web sites.
The aftermath was a little strange; I found that when there was anything about theft or burglary in the news, lazy journalists would search the internet for Reformed Burglars to get an opinion and my name would be top, over the last 10 years I have graced many TV and Radio shows with my ex burglar act and I’ll probably be doing it for years to come. So, if you asked me if I’d ever lied and regretted I’d have to say, no, I’ve enjoyed almost every minute.