The Watchers by Jovike

An alternative to television during the coronavirus pandemic

Or #shoutouttotheTwitchfam

I’m not against television (have I told you lately that I love Community) and buying one is on my list of things to do before Christmas.

But these days, when the only actual in person conversation I have during the week is a shopkeeper asking me if I want a bag, I’m looking for a different kind of entertainment.

At some point I might go to a shop a bit like this one to buy a television ( “The watchers” by jovike is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 )
Alison Brie speaks to Ben Lindsay on Instagram Live
Alison Brie speaking to Ben Lindsay from Backstage on Instagram Live was just one of the live events I found to watch this week

I don’t want it to be scripted, expertly acted and filmed months ago (or even cooked by celebrities and recorded weeks ago). I want it to be raw and live and I want to know other people are experiencing it at the same time (chat functions and “you’re watching with 600 others” type notifications are always welcome)

For this I always turn to Twitch on my antiquated laptop and see what’s going on.

Well, I say always but it doesn’t always work out like that . . .

This week’s Fiskal Policy was going to be a highlights reel after a week of only watching Twitch but I kind of failed on day one (I’m painfully aware this ‘episode’ may end up similar to the one from week three but it is what it is.)

Failed intentionally because I had a ticket to a Zoom gig by Billy Lunn from The Subways (no photos because I don’t take photos at concerts).

I’ve mentioned before how music has been a massive part of the way I’ve survived the pandemic thus far and this was definitely a highlight for me.

Instead of the listening parties from previous weeks it felt like me and a handful of other Zoomers had discovered a secret field at Glastonbury.

It was obviously different from a usual gig (no queue at the bar, clean toilets and no need to pay £7 for a pint of Tuborg) but it’s the closest I’ve been to one for months and it felt so good.

Good in a different way was how I failed to watch Twitch on Tuesday.

I’ll never be an actor (my only on stage experience in recent years was winning a chest hair competition at a comedy show a few years ago – back in the days when Pippa Evans and Adam Riches hosted a night) but it was really interesting to hear Alison Brie talking about her craft in an Instagram live chat with Backstage.

Mojaxx DJ on Twitch
Mojaxx can usually be found DJing on Twitch on a Wednesday night (Picture is screengrab from Twitch.tv/mojaxxdj )
DJ Yoda on Twitch during Stream Raiders
You can always rely on DJ Yoda to play some unexpected tunes, and to find some great visuals to go with them (Picture is screengrab from Twitch.tv/DJYodaUK )
The Next Men playing in DJ Yoda's stream
The Nextmen played in DJ Yoda’s stream as part of Thursday night’s Stream Raiders

She’s right that a lot of the battle in the creative process is about having confidence in yourself. Putting yourself out there and hoping someone will like what you are doing.

It’s part of the reason Fiskal Policy took so long to get going. With the pandemic as a backdrop it became a question of “why not now?” And I’m very grateful to you for getting this far in the piece. I hope you’ll come back next week for more Fiskal Policy!

(I was kind of hoping to be see her record player again – it was visible during the Community table read in May – and I’d like to buy one but instead she was sitting on a sofa – I need to buy one of those too!)

Wednesday I didn’t fail. It was all about Twitch.

To be honest DJ Yoda is the reason I started watching Twitch (would people ever say ‘Twitching’? Is that a thing?) and his sets at 9pm on a Wednesday are always the highlight of the lockdown/ whatever we are now calling this down week. It’s almost as if you get through three days of work and once DJ Yoda is on then you know you’ve almost made it to the weekend.

In the past six weeks or so I’ve also become a big fan of MojaxxDJ, who usually streams once DJ Yoda has finished.

Did I first chance upon him due to a Twitch raid? I’m not sure. I’m also not sure whether he plays the kind of music I’d normally hear in the kind of clubs I go to (nowadays sadly very rarely). But I love the tunes and the chat with the Twitch Fam. (As someone who is thinking about getting, but won’t get, some decks I appreciate his chat about mixers and tunes alike.)

In the world of chat – while Twitch is mostly full of thousands of people watching someone play a video game (I don’t get it) or a few hundred watching a DJ play some amazing music, on Thursday night I found myself watching Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle doing a show called The Late Night Alternative (TLNA).

(I’d been trying to find the Stream Raiders night but only managed to see a bit of DJ Yoda and then The Next Men before they finished.)

It seems to be an attempt by Twitch to bring a proper programme on to the site, rather than just having DJs streaming whenever they can and gamers playing World of Warcraft and I’d say it worked.

The Late Night Alternative on Twitch is hosted by Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle
Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle have moved to Twitch from Talk Radio to do a live phone-in show ( Picture is screengrab from Twitch.tv/IainLee )
What's The Play screenshot from Twitch
The host of What’s the Play seemed very upset when almost a thousand people turned up in his room

I’m told (by Wikipedia) it’s a show they had on Talk Radio and last week was the first week on Twitch.

For me I’m just happy to know what Iain Lee has been up to in the past 22 years since I saw a pilot of the 11 O’Clock Show. (Other cast members including Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen and Mackenzie Crook have all been accounted for so now I’m just wondering where Daisy Donovan is.)

But it also resulted in the saddest bit of Thursday when TLNA decided to raid another stream and it didn’t go as hoped.

For those of you unfamiliar with Twitch raids – they help streamers send their viewers to another live channel at the end of their stream to introduce their audience to a new channel and keep the fun going.

They found a stream where seven or so people seemed to be watching a man reading out quiz questions and it seemed a perfect place for a raid.

But, instead of being welcomed in to the stream, the host looked super sad and very put out at the hundreds of people who were had gate crashed his mini party. And almost as soon as we were in there he closed the stream down #sadtimes.

Friday I failed again because for some reason I watched real life TV (streamed through my laptop). I’m not sure if I’ve watched ITV 4 before but Jaws 2 was on and then I spent far too long watching wrestling.

I failed last night too because Saturday nights for me are still all about the Star Shaped indie club on Mixlr.

Maybe one day they will be about real indie clubs again. At the moment it still seems a far away dream.

Stay safe for another week!