This time last year I was trudging along a slushy pavement with a soggy copy of The Times in my hand. It was only Christmas Eve, but I’d been given an early present – an interview I did with one of the paper’s journalists had just been published. These were heady times. A few month’s earlier I’d given a paper at Yale University and written a well received article for The Guardian. I was beginning to fancy myself as a bit of a media don. This was more than a touch premature – I haven’t got close to a newspaper, radio show, or TV documentary since. However, at the time, a glittering showbiz career was beckoning (if only in my own mind) and I was undeniably excited.
The whole process started a few weeks earlier. I met with Mike Addelman, the University of Manchester’s brilliant press officer, to talk about publicizing some of my research. I ran through a few possibilities, but when I mentioned my work on American jokes his eyes lit up. “This stuff will really sell”, he said. The only thing missing was a topical hook. It was at this point that I said something that I’ve lived to regret: […]