Interview with Mike Francis

When did you first start writing?
I first started telling gags when I was a seventeen year old drinks waiter in a working man’s club in Heywood UK back in '74. Stand-up comic Frank ‘Foo Foo’ Lamarr worked there regularly and I quickly realised that when he took the mickey out of me as I walked by the stage, my tips increased dramatically. I also realised when I used some of his ‘lines’ on my customers (when he wasn’t there of course) my tips increased even more. Not long after this, those same skills took me on stage as a DJ and my use of stand-up material began to evolve. I began writing my own material in 1985 although it’s really very hard to prove ownership these days because of the internet. Having said that, I still have my original scribbling’s in shoe boxes and much of my work is registered and copyrighted so I know if I ever need to prove ownership, I can. But, it’s always taken as a compliment when I occasionally hear my material on TV.
What's the point of giving away books free?
Without doubt the best marketing is achieved by simply giving away mini-books so people can see exacly what 'Insult Comedy' is all about and how useful it actually is on stage or in everyday life. Those folks that understand how insult comedy works (usually alphas) usually buy the bumper versions of my books on Amazon and soon to be on Smashwords, so giving a few away initially is not a major problem. Entertainers, stand-up comics, DJs and the band ‘front man’ have historically been my customors, using 'banter' to boost their stage presence but the recent books I created so barstaff and waiters can increase their tips have been popular; the 'Office Banter' book too, everybody likes to be popular at work! My flirting books 'chat-up' and 'ice-breakers' books have recently become hugely popular... I can't imagine why.
What do you say to your critics?
Some people can't grasp the concept of audience baiting, 'roasts' or insult Comedy stating "it's just bullying" and they find it all so terribly disturbing, spitefully insisting the author can't speak proper English like what I do... completely missing the importance of colloquial speech and poor grammar in vocal comedy – ESSENTIAL!!

Others have "heard it all before" and generally, these people are just joke-collectors not at all interested in creating or maintaining a 'powerful stage presence' or 'people influencing skills'. Tried-and-tested, polished material is so important for any performer and can instil astonishing confidence very quickly - in essence, it can make or break them. As an entertainer myself (six nights), I've been through the awkward silences so other entertainers don't have to.

On a social level, 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' is taken to dizzying new heights with easily remembered stand-up quips and banter! As was said by one journalist; “you need to memorise at least twenty of these lines whether you think you do or not”. The confidence my scripts can instil in people not associated with stage or performance is also incredible, I've seen wall-fowers in the workplace become charismatic and alpha dominant in days. Very rewarding!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
This is such an easy question to answer, the greatest joy is knowing I can provide not just a powerful stage performer with good material but also a shy stranger with enough easy to use funny quips to change his or her life incredibly quickly. I know from experience that once you get your first laugh, you never look back and before long your confidence sky rockets. Usually you're the 'life of the party' ...which can be a pain in the neck if you just want a quiet life!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love working with people, whether it's face-to-face behind a bar or on stage with a microphone which led me to the conclusion that it would be worthwhile sharing what I've learned over the years, to inspire others in having as much fun as I’ve had. I write because the inspiration for sharing is overwhelming and showing others how to make more friends and influence people, in my own unique way, is a great reward.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords I've only recently discovered, I was taken in by the advertising power of Amazon, Silly me. Smashwords is a far superior platform for indie writers and publishers.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Buddy Banter my recent book was borne out of one or two friends, using my own material on me! Many social gatherings have an element of insult humour. If you recall the last time you got together with friends. It isn't a bunch of people sitting down to serious conversation, but a gathering that finds people throwing light jokes at each other even if it is at the expense of someone within the group. It is not a way of being insulting or rude, but playful banter among friends and those one is familiar with. A classic example would be sitcoms that have close friends or family members cracking jokes about each other which aren't offending, but quite hilarious. Think Seinfeld, The Office and Friends. In fact one of the best one-liners for many years was delivered perfectly by the incredible Jennifer Anniston… “Who’s your fashion impaired friend?” The perfect insult aimed at a young fashionista! Love it!
What are you working on next?
It may seem like chalk and cheese but I've just published my first reprintable children's colouring book for nurseries and doctors surgeries to keep kids occupied, something I've wanted to do for a long while. The beauty of electronic publishing is that a simple drawing can be printed out hundreds of times so completely does away with the need to buy expensive colouring books at the local toy store. It's under a pseudonym of course and may seem silly in comparison to my 'on-stage' presence but it gives me great joy to see kids colouring in my work.
What is your writing process?
Like any situaltion comedy on TV, I just put myself in someone else's shoes and have fun with their personality. It can be weird putting funny quips together for an undertaker one month and a few months later for a hairdresser but it's a lot of fun!
How do you approach cover design?
There are some stunning book covers out there but unfortunately when using online bookstores, they can’t be seen and it’s soooo important to get a message across that people can see when they’re skimming through legions of books. It also important that my books ‘look warm’ so the right personalities are attracted by colour … I should have studied subliminal psychology!
Published 2014-01-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.