Comedy Training Blog 1
It's 1995, and I’m in Aarhus, Denmark. I’m there to “study” at Aarhus University. The course carries no grades, so I ask the American teacher if I “have” to attend. He says no, but believes I should attend classes for cultural reasons. I agree with him. And that was the only class I went to at Aarhus University.
Summer In Denmark
It’s summer in Denmark and the temperature has reached a crazy, sweltering and rather humid thirteen degrees. To the frozen Danes, a single ray of sunshine instantly means shorts and T-shirts. There I am wrapped up like a giant tampon on a day trip to trauma counseling, meanwhile every Dane is strutting around like it’s Miami.
The Ex-Girlfriend Of Doom
It's Friday, and I’m happily skipping down "By Thor!" street. Suddenly I bump into the ex-girlfriend. "By Odin," she says while adjusting her Viking horns. "Bugger," I say as I look for an escape route down Valhalla street.
“Ashley! How are you!!” says the girl who once performed a ritual sacrifice on my heart using a Viking axe, 123 pin tacks, 4,321 staples, four casks of dynamite, a number 12 double-decker bus from Peckham and a Norwegian cow with diarrhea.
I replied to this Viking heartbreaker with a line of such awesome magnitude that even Japanese earthquakes where shaking more than Elvis's hips on amphetamines.
“Errr..yeah I’m great,” I said as I looked down at some Danish pigeon poo and wondered if the Vikings ever used it in coffee.
It turns out the ex is now a radio presenter on the rather poorly named local FM radio station: “The Open Tape Workshop.”
Can you imagine the jingles for that station: "You’re listening to Accounting with Becky on The Open Tape Workshop.” I mean it’s not exactly a German sausage in your pants bulge now is it?
Bertha The Lesbian
Anyway, it turns out that old Bertha was presenting a gay and lesbian radio show every Friday to 100,000 Danes. Specialist topics such as: “What does a Swedish marrow feel like?” and “Last night a cucumber changed my life” were flying across the Danish airways. Bemused Danes were suddenly looking at their lunches in an entirely different way. "Err, Freja, hold the cucumber!"
The Most Important Question That All Men Have To Ask
There was one important question, however, that I had to ask her. “Ermm Bertha? Was I your last boyfriend before you went over to Carpet World”? Thankfully, she said no. She turned lesbian after the boyfriend after me. Hoorah! My manhood was saved!
My Manhood Was Saved!
Bertha invited me down to the sexy tape workshop. Being relieved that my manhood was still intact, I agreed.
OMG! The Station Had A….
I knew I was destined for good times as soon as I walked into the station. The station..wait for it…only smegging had…drum roll please maestro…something that could only have been passed down from heaven… something that would never have happened in the UK...something that was the equivalent of putting 747 jumbo jets into my underpants - so that when I finally did meet a female, I could say "boarding!" Yes! The station had...GET ON WITH IT.....a beer vending machine!!!
Yup for 75p / $1 you could buy a bottle of ice cold Carlsberg beer from a machine, in a radio station, whenever you wanted it! Here I was face to face with a beer vending machine! Once they crowbarred me off it and detangled my tongue from the coin insert, I went and sat in the station's canteen. There I sipped on a cold Carlsberg (or HOF as it’s more commonly known) while Bertha discussed the pros and cons of candles, cacti, and cold coffee jugs live on the station’s channel 2.
After I had sucked dry the HOF with the station's vacuum cleaner, a rather hot and saucy Danish girly came over and started talking English. Back in 1995, Aarhus was still off the beaten track, in other words, "mingers" like me were what I like to call “exotic.” All I had to do was say “I’m English." If they were mad enough, and could at least count their toes, then I was well in.
Saucy Mette And The Bum From Another Planet
Saucy Mette (pronounced Med-da) for some reason, invited me on to her radio show. She was broadcasting on channel one, the posh channel with all the listeners. The lesbian implement show (on channel two) probably had about 5,000 listeners, whereas channel one had around 100,000 listeners. On hearing this, my bowels got up, put on a Shakin Steven's record and started grooving. I remember sitting in the studio, smoking a cigarette (Denmark rocks) talking a load of old cak about God only knows what (Denmark rocks) pretending that I was a radio DJ. However, my rectum had other ideas. He decided he was auditioning for an episode of X Factor and Simon Cowell wasn't being nice to him. "You're like poo." said Simon in his white t-shirt as the crowd booed.
After ten minutes going "Erm, um...yeah….beer vending machine rocks.. WOOO!” to 100,000 Vikings, I was finished. I came out of the studio and I went and sat in the canteen. That was the moment when radio changed my life! I was hooked there and then! Man, it was so much fun!
Saucy Mette oozed out of the studio bum first (beep, beep, beep) and my tongue started doing the Riverdance across the floor. She came over to me and told me to wait in the pub across the road. Like a school boy virgin who mistakenly eaten 23 blue Viagra's instead of red and yellow M&M's, I was in the bar faster than an Exocet missile with a boner.
Wetherspoons Are The Garden Of Eden Compared To.....
If you’ve never been to a “traditional” Danish bar, then boy are you in for a shock. You think Wetherspoons are an amazing experience well trust me you haven’t seen anything yet.
As I swung open the door, three old men turned and looked at me. “Stranger,” they said in a heavy Danish accent, using a totally different language, and a word, to me that sounded like “twat.” The tumbleweed sensing freedom from this alcoholic old folks home of hell packed up his things, and then promptly made a break for the door as twelve rats tried to hold him back.
This Bar Was Danish Equivalent To Deliverance
And there I was, all alone in this version of a Danish “Deliverance.” “Squeal like a Frikadeller” wouldn’t have gone amiss here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frikadeller
I ordered a bottle of Carlsberg (in English) thus blowing my super awesome plan of trying to look hard, tough and erm.. Danish. Then I sat down and waited (as the tumbleweed karate chopped one rat while another rat brought out some nunchucks).
One hour later, saucy Mette thrust her posterior in and woke me up by sitting on my face. She wasn’t alone. She was with a couple of male friends, Preben and Bent.
Bent seemed ok until I told him that his name meant homosexual in London slang. I can still hear his voice to this day going “Oh..I’m not going to London then.” I don't think he ever did, poor bloke.
Mette disappeared again. I was now stuck in an old man’s Danish bar with a bent guy and a bloke called Preben. Preben challenged me to a game of pool, and when Mette finally came back, Preben and I were locked in an epic beer drinking, pool playing, more beer drinking, “we love everyone in this bar” mission of doom. Mette, seeing how mangled we were, said goodbye and went home. It turns out she had a live-in boyfriend, so I was glad that I found the pool and beers more enticing that day.
Oh My Lordy! I’m Exotic!
More of the radio station gang piled into the bar, and suddenly the beers were flowing. Because I was “exotic,” I was getting well tanked for free. The station invited me to their staff party. We ended up somewhere not too far from the bar. Drunkenly, I asked the assistant manager if there was any work experience. More drunkenly, he offered me an FM radio show to 100,000 Danish people starting on Tuesday (it was now Saturday morning). After they had scraped me off the floor, I accepted.
My First Radio Show To 100,000 Vikings
My first ever radio show was a fantastic combination of: “and that was AC/DC..and now this is Oasis. And that was Blur, and now this is The Beatles” And WHAT???? I still have forty-three minutes left to fill! “Fuuuuuu…”
Always Prep Your Shows!
The guy who did the show after me always prepped (swotty bastard). He started me on the road to prepping my music shows. He also ended up being my lifelong friend. I even went to both of his weddings, just like his ex-wife. (Hey this is Denmark, they’re kind of relaxed about these things).
Always Listen Back To Your Shows
After my first show, I started listening back to my shows. “Gordon’s Alive!” went Brian Blessed as he looked down the toilet after a bowl too many of Fruit n’ Fibre. Man, my shows were bad! Forcing myself to listen to my shows was a good thing to do. By hearing how bad I was, I was able to start asking myself why? Genuine questions like: Why was that link bad? Answer: I didn’t do my research. Why was that link bad? Answer: I rushed it through. Why was that link bad? Answer: I was on the floor at the time licking beer of a chair leg.
I Fell In Love With Radio
Something inside of me clicked, and I became determined to create great radio shows. And soon enough I started getting better. You can take all the drugs in the world but trust me on this, when you nail a radio show, when you get it right, when that hour flies by and everything you say hits home, then it’s the best feeling in the world. And I wanted more.
Back To Hospital Radio
After a year of presenting an FM radio show (in English) to naughty Danes in Denmark, I decided to return to London and study radio at Lambeth College.
Twenty Years Of Radio Hopscotch
Stepping into that Danish radio studio in 1996, led me to study radio in 1997. I took those skills and joined a hospital radio station in 1998. I became the manager. I trained for five years. I joined the BBC and stayed there for nine years. I’ve now started an online radio training school, and almost twenty years later, I’ve become a volunteer radio trainer again at hospital radio. Why? Put simply; I love radio. I love it so much that I still do it for free. In fact as you read this I'm tonguing my clock radio and rubbing my groin along the mixing desk.
Basement Of Doom
I’m currently writing this blog from the basement of Whitechapel AM. After an eleven-year break from hospital radio, I’m back. I’ve already implemented an eight-week radio presenter training course. Volunteers get hands-on practical training and free access to my online radio presenter training course. There they learn the most important aspects of presenting, show preparation.
Five weeks into the training programme, I can see the volunteers improving from when they first started. It's this "change" that drives me on.
What Radio Gave Me
First of all, radio gave me fun and laughter in my life. One thing they don’t teach you at college is that radio presenting is so much fun. Without it being fun, I wouldn’t still be involved in radio twenty years later.
Radio Gave Me Confidence
I can interview and approach anyone now. In the past, I was quite scared of approaching people. However, if I need a guest, an interview or if I just need to call someone randomly and make heavy breathing noises, then it’s no problem. Being on the air for twenty years, forcing myself to call and interview random people time and time again has made me more confident.
Radio Has Helped Me Be More Creative
When I first started presenting in Denmark, I presented a comedy hour. The show was all over the place, but week in week out we tried new ideas. We made many bad comedy packages, had many terrible show segments (“Call and We’ll Draw” being a rather stupid one. Or “Cooking with Swedish Pierre.”) That’s when I called a mate in Sweden, he put on a dodgy French accent and we cooked live on air in Denmark. Most of it was crap, but we had a cracking laugh, and it forced me to think, research and create.
Radio Has Helped Me Help The Sick And The Infirm
I love hospital radio, and it's why I’ve gone back to it after an eleven-year break. Hospital radio provides two core services. One, it offers quality radio training for free in return for voluntary commitment. Two, it provides a service of care and comfort. Being in a hospital can sometimes be a lonely, frightening and stressful experience. Hospital radio stations provide a service of entertainment, comfort, and care through one on one contact. Just one thing though. Don't try to play bingo with the patients on the stroke ward. That went down like a lead balloon. "Hi! We're from the hospital radio station! Would you like to play bingo....oh...ok."
Radio Got Me A Job At The BBC
My love of radio got me a job for nine years at The BBC World Service. I worked for The Africa and Middle East region, working on some humongous radio transmissions. We even had an on-site bar at work! Back in 1995, when I walked into that Danish station, I couldn't imagine that seven years later I'd be working on one of the largest radio shows in Africa.
Radio Gave Me Life Long Friends
Everyone that gets into radio gets into it because they love it. You’ll always share a common bond with these people. Most of my best friends came from my love of radio. And guess what, we still love radio even to this day!
Radio changed my life, and if you give it a go, I’m sure it will change your life too.
Learn where to find show ideas.
Discover how to show prep like a pro.
Master the mixing desk. What it is, how it works and how to use it.
Discover what you shouldn't do as a presenter.
Ashley Cowan runs the Online Radio School where he tutors in radio presenting and media interviewing techniques. He was a BBC World Service, Radio studio manager for nine years. He was also the station manager for Radio Kings, the hospital radio station for Kings College Hospital. Other crimes include being the training manager for K2K Radio & Whitechapel AM.
As a radio presenter, he's hosted radio shows on three FM stations. That was back in the day when FM radio was a big deal. The poor radio stations that had to put up with his brand of terrible comedy were: Radio DÅB, FLR 107.3 FM, and City FM. Radio DÅB had 100,000 listeners! Woo!
When he's not writing about himself in the third person, then he was also a community radio DJ at Radio Kings, TGR Sound, Sydenham Radio, and Croydon Radio.
He once did production work for Total Rock.com. That was a fun station with a cool owner and a great broadcast team! Brown fizzy water often accompanied the broadcasts!
In his spare time he's London Irish (so he likes a beer) and he also teaches guitar. He's recently created an online "Fingerpicking for Guitar" course. There he teaches the art of fingerpicking for erm...guitar. Students can learn twenty different fingerpicking styles for their chords.
He's always available for a free beer and even accepts cans of beers in the post!
is an ex BBC, radio studio manager, and the ex manager of Radio Kings, the hospital radio station for King's College Hospital. He's presented on three FM stations and waaay too many community stations.