Jun 8 • 31M

Off Mike

The Wednesday Audio #56

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A satirical and often maniacal look at internet hustle culture through the dark eyes of Wednesday evenings. If you’re looking for self-improvement, this isn’t it.
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Excerpt from the foreword of Tim’s upcoming book

I first came across Craig in the Summer of 2001. He said to me, “Hello. Welcome”. At the time I thought his turn of phrase to be strange, along with much else about him. He seemed to always walk around with music playing, but not in an annoying way. He wasn’t playing ‘rap’, or whatever the kids call it these days. He seemed to be attempting to soundtrack his movements and make ‘features’ (his words) out of his every day life. As I said, I found much about him to be strange.

He seemed to carry a soundboard around with him attached to his back. When he heard a funny conversation or turn of phrase, he’d ask the person to repeat it, then he’d record it straight into his soundboard. At a later date he would play the soundbite back to the person, whilst staring deep into their eyes. They always looked bemused, often offended. But Craig seemed to know something they didn’t.

I witnessed many such strange activities. I caught him—and admonished him—many times playing an extremely loud censor beep into people’s faces. When somebody would say ‘value’, he would hit his censor beep and stare deeply into their eyes. Never a smile, never an indication of a purpose. Craig, again, seemed to know something they didn’t.

When he began to play music, he became obsessed with playing heavy metal music out loud. He never listened to a full song, and seemed never to settle on one. When he’d finished playing the music, he mumbled something about ‘naval gazing’ and wandered off. I witnessed him listening to hundreds of different pieces of heavy metal music, as if he was looking for the perfect piece, never to be found.

As he moved through the years at the Polytechnic, he appeared to have developed an invisible friend called ‘Off Mike’. When I asked him who he was talking to, he would tell me he was talking Off Mike. At first, I never quite understood whether he was assuming the role of Off Mike, or he was talking to Off Mike.

Many years later after he’d left the Polytechnic, I got an email. It was from a Craig Burgess, somebody who I’d remembered as the slightly odd student. In the email was a link to The Wednesday Audio, a podcast he’d claimed to have been recording for a year.

It was at this moment I spotted his genius. All his oddities, all his foibles, all came together to make sense. He had been preparing for the biggest role of his life. That role was a little-known, little-downloaded podcast called The Wednesday Audio.

This book has been written with the approval and help of Craig, but not by him. Only a critic of the arts such as myself could dissect the myriad messages Craig has left us in the year of episodes 1-55 of The Wednesday Audio.

I trust you will enjoy my analysis as much as you will enjoy reading the transcripts of the episodes. I truly believe Craig is set for stardom, destined to be as big—if not bigger—than Ken Dodd.

Tim Angler, Head of Comedic Studies, Barnsley Polytechnic
June 2022