Outside Exposure: Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann, Francesca Martinez, Dara O’Briain

First a bit of exciting related news: Kevin Eldon, who I mentioned in the first Outside Exposure post, is getting his own BBC 2 sketch show. It’s either a massive coincidence since he’s been a prominent figure in the UK comedy scene for years OR I am officially a King Maker.

Let’s move on to some comedians you might not know about but should.

Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann
Americans might recognize them from… Answer Me This! (podcast), if that.

If you’ve been keeping track, yes this is Helen Zaltzman as in sister of Andy Zaltzman. To the best of my knowledge, they are the only Zaltzmans who are also comedians, so the Zaltzman domination of these posts ends here and now! Helen and Olly get mentioned together because they’re likely best known for their podcast, Answer Me This! which has been in the top 10 UK iTunes comedy podcasts and the top 25 in the US, has won the Sony Radio Academy Award for Best Internet Program(me) twice, and is considered one of the most successful independently produced (they record in Helen’s living room) podcasts in the UK.

Answer Me This! is a sort of advice/general trivia podcast with listeners sending in questions on any topic which Helen and Olly (and sometimes Martin, the echo-y producer and husband of Helen Zaltzman) answer in a humorous and informative manner. They did a series of videos called “Helen and Olly’s Great British Question” for VisitBritain which I feel does a good job of capturing the tenor of their rapport. It must be said: in my fantasy Three Best Friends That I Hang Out With Sex and the City Style, my three best friends are Helen Zaltzman, Josie Long, and Isy Suttie. I believe of the four of us, Isy Suttie would be the de facto “cool one.”

Francesca  Martinez
Americans might recognize her from… that episode of Extras with Kate Winslet.

Francesca Martinez has cerebral palsy. She has also been listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in Britain, which is exciting to me. In the past, the likes of say Ricky Gervais and Larry David have made light of the ways in which people react to someone with very obvious differences and/or disabilities, but at the end of the day they are still speaking for these people. So it’s nice to have such a talented figure in the public eye speaking for people with disabilities who is more representative of them as a group. Francesca Martinez also squarely falls into the category of cheerful, exuberant comedians that I love.

Dara O’Briain
Americans might recognize him from… QI or any other panel shows you might have watched on Youtube.

I’m reluctant to include Dara O’Briain mostly because I have no concept of how recognizable he is to Americans. If you’ve ever stolen any episode of a British panel show from the internet, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Dara O’Briain (or Sean Lock or Jo Brand or Hugh Dennis or a number of other people). As evidenced by this video, he also clearly has no trouble selling out huge theaters. It’s deserved. He’s got a quick wit and manages to even make his own weird math-based show, School of Hard Sums, entertaining to me, a person who neither understands nor is particularly interested in complex (possibly/probably not actually all that complex) mathematics. I believe I’m alone in this opinion, but I also think he looks a bit like a Persian cat.

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6 Responses to Outside Exposure: Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann, Francesca Martinez, Dara O’Briain

  1. Al says:

    The Kevin Eldon thing alone could have been just a coincidence. But that along with David O’Doherty getting a show on Comedy Central means you’re obviously the influencer of influencers.

    Francesca Martinez has to have her own chat show.

    Can you believe I’d already forgotten about School of Hard Sums? That brought back memories!

    • carogriffin says:

      I must somehow inform David O’Doherty about the hand I’ve had in his career, that making him obligated to become friends with me.

      I saw a bit of stuff on her Wikipedia page about her having done a documentary series where she went around trying to find out what “normal” was to people and that she is currently working on a sitcom pilot with the producer of Extras, but I couldn’t find anything other than the Wikipedia page to substantiate that. Anyway, hopefully she’s working on and will get her own show. I think she’d be better suited to a chat show than a sitcom, but obviously I don’t really have anything to judge her sitcom writing abilities on.

      I can’t believe it’s not currently your favorite show! According to the internet, David O’Doherty’s been on it twice, so I might have to force myself to watch those episodes. Despite being baffled by math.

      • Al says:

        I was hoping that by mentioning the possibility of her doing a chat show on this blog it would magically happen.

        Well I don’t have the opportunity to watch it most of the time!

  2. Sarah says:

    It’s you. I always knew that there was a certain force of will behind your personality, and at last, others are recognizing this as well.

    • carogriffin says:

      This is very sweet, if somewhat sarcastic! Much appreciated. Always nice to have the good opinion of teachers that I liked.

      • Sarah says:

        And good to see that my former English students are putting their writing skills (plus talent and humor) to very good use. Go, you!

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