The Spinoff After Dark – WORD Christchurch

This late night event at C1 Espresso featuring talent from "New Media empire in the making" The Spinoff was shambolic - but in the best possible way.

Literary festivals are, out of necessity, highly organised affairs. Sessions start at certain times and time limits are fairly rigidly adhered to. People file in, file out. Signing table queues may snake and cause congestion but otherwise it's all pretty orderly. Festivals like this are something of a logistical nightmare so structure is both expected and advised.

So this wasn't really like that.

Duncan Greive and Giovanni Tiso - The Spinoff after dark
Duncan Greive and Giovanni Tiso - The Spinoff after dark. The Twitterati? Yeah nah.

Rather, The Spinoff After Dark had a "flying by the seat of the pants - did someone really let us do this?" feeling to it while at the same time being thoroughly WORD in its content. A bit like the heyday of Mediaworks, when Joanna Paul and Belinda Todd had the helm of Nightline. You knew it was all sort of related to the other serious, newsy output of TV3 - but it sure as heck didn't feel like it.

Alex Casey, Duncan Greive and Joe Bennett - The Spinoff after dark
Alex Casey, Duncan Greive and Joe Bennett - The Spinoff after dark. Beware the chair lobber.

And if that hastily cobbled together comparison hasn't fired your desire for things old and defunct the "mini-interview of various festival performers" section of the evening included... Joe Bennett!

But to give credit to Bennett, his was actually my favourite of the quickfire "snackable content" interviews that Toby Manhire, Alex Casey and Duncan Greive tag-teamed on, if only for this marvellous interaction -

Alex Casey: *Describes local event that anyone who's watched television or used the Internet in the last 10 years would know about* (in this case fundraising celebrity boxing match Fight for Life)

Joe Bennett: ..... *tumble weeds*

Bennett also shared an anecdote about the time that, in his role as English teacher at Christ's College, he threw a chair at one of his students, coming distressingly close to giving the lad a head injury - the head in question belonging to Leigh Hart aka That Guy.

This was a funny wee tale on its own told in the usual emphatic Bennett style but got funnier when my partner admitted during the drive home that he too had a chair thrown at him by an entirely different English teacher at a different Christchurch boys' school.

Is this a thing, former schoolboys of Christchurch? Answers on a complaint form to the Ministry of Education.

Steve Hely - The Spinoff after dark
Steve Hely - The Spinoff after dark - he likes Max Key a lot.

Other interviewees included American humorist Steve Hely, author and literary bunfight starter Paula Morris (fave biscuits in descending order afghan, melting moments/yoyos, gingernuts), Festival director and author Rachael King, journalist Rebecca MacFie, blogger Giovanni Tiso and probably someone I've forgotten because by that stage it was quite late and my brain probably stopped retaining information.

The event also included lights that sometimes flickered and seemed to get more dim at random times, cleverly highlighting the "after dark" part of the event name, and an AMA (Ask Me Anything) portion during which Manhire read questions for himself and fellow Spinoffers harvested from Twitter, several of which were attributed to Guy Williams who clearly has too much time on his hands.

Toby Manhire, Alex Casey, Duncan Greive- The Spinoff after dark
Toby Manhire, Alex Casey, Duncan Greive - The Spinoff after dark. Toby answers 536 questions from Guy Williams.

We learned exciting new things: that both Manhire and Casey do not like eggs (whaaaat?), that Manhire thinks he looks like Ben Whishaw (hmmmm), and that both Casey and Greive have had ghostwriting gigs that neither of them seem particularly ashamed of - Casey for Youtube star Jamie Curry (the trick to doing it quickly is to include lots and lots of photos - a device I have tried to employ in this very post), Greive for heatpump enthusiast/sportsman Dan Carter.

If this session sounds like it was a bit of an odd jumble of things, it certainly was - and a great time because of it. A++. Worth staying awake for.

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