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It's a show... about nothing!

In April 2009 I posted the first episode of Carpool on YouTube. Earlier that year I had posted a few episodes on iTunes which is where the majority of the downloads/views took place. Since then I've made over 100 episodes with a total combined download count of 7.6 million.
Hopefully I will make some more later this year.
A few weeks ago my tweet stream turned into a torrent as people asked me if I'd seen news of Jerry Seinfeld's new series 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.'
 I checked it out and while the stuff in the car is clearly exactly the same idea, shot in an almost identical way, it's hard to suggest it's a rip-off. For a start half the show takes place in a coffee bar or cafe, shot with a professional crew, it's clearly got a big budget and features very well known faces from the world of comedy. Assuming it's a rip-off would mean that Mr Seinfeld or his associates had seen Carpool and thought, 'Hey! We could do that!'

It's just that Jerry has a lot of cars, he likes driving, he's a comedian, new cameras allow you to shoot in a car, he knows lots of comedians, he's making a show. 'Hey, that's a great idea Jerry!'
It's fine, what am I going to do about it? What can I do about it? Nothing except make some new episodes of carpool and get a lot more hits because of what Jerry is doing. This has already happened, Carpool's existing episodes have all had a remarkable upward swing in views and downloads over the last couple of weeks, there hasn't been a new one posted for 18 months

That's the best way to look at it. It's a win win.


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Reader Comments (10)

Siounds like we should at lest have a chat - I've an idea for a makeover programme like those done for houses, but do it for transport - typically a houshold could see a boost of £2000+ per year to their disposable income and potentially a major increase in their quality of life, through getting out of the great burden of car ownership. Typically the average private car is only used for 6% of the time - a huge cost to a household but so inefficiently used. Switching to car sharing (not ride sharing as the UK seems to confuse it with) we gat 24/7 access to near new cars, but with the benefit that car clubs are able to manage electric vehicles far better then the private individual and maximise their use (given the current high cost of buying them).

The trick is to have a mix of vignettes of those who are buying their transport as they use it - making the choices to get best value in cost and value of the time taken up travelling (eg waiting to be called to the gate, and all the changing required) against the greater value of time available to work on the train.

Some nice tales - the guy who goes to work by taxi, becuase its cheaper then running a car, the guy who treats himself to a £900 upgrade for first class travel, having saved several £'000 from getting rid of his car and commuting by bike & rail. Others deliver the time saveings that would cost £billions to deliver by making trains faster, by combining rail with bike - typically a London commuter can cut 30-60 minutes each-way from their daily commute, and save up to £8000/year through eliminating car ownership, car parking costs, London Zones 1&2, and gym membership. Small wonder than that overall bike use for onward travel from London Stations has risen by 400% in the past 10 years, and for spcific locations the figures are more like 2000%

You should try out the Brompton Docks now appearing too www.bromptondock.co.uk a fully serviced bike ready to roll for under £1.70/day.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave H

You're definitely taking the right attitude, I think. I used to work in animation in Hollywood and had a script produced (nothing big), but my name was left off of the part where they credit the writers. When I asked my old boss and mentor what to do about it, he said that raising a big stink would just generate ill will toward me. Entertainment can be an especially easy industry to generate vitriol. So, looking at the bright side of things is definitely the best way to go. That said, the first person to come up with a clever idea really should get some credit, at least. Personally, I've always found Seinfeld (the show and the man) to be kind of boring and overrated. Both he and the show are funny, sure, but when you start to see the punchlines coming it gets pretty uninteresting pretty fast. My point is that I feel like he's not all that talented and doesn't seem to spend that much time perfecting his ideas. I feel like he's not clever enough to come up with an idea like this on his own. Just look at the title--"Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." Going with that title is like admitting "Carpool" was already taken. It's at least evidence of a lack of creativity. I'm not sure what budget or camera quality has to do with anything--he could afford to mount five Red cameras on his belt, all aimed at his navel if he wanted to. He could have made a show called "Comedians on Toilets" or "Comedians Playing my PS3". But he went with this format. Seems rather dodgy to me, sir. But, again, being graceful about it is the way to go. I'm just glad you have fans who are willing to be ranty about it on your behalf.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterthepete

Just be glad its not they other way round or the Yanks would be sending the "cease & desist" followed by the court summons.

I love your "plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery" approach to the problem.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDougie

Having caught a reference to Mr Seinfield's CinCgC (let's call it "sink guck" for short) in my Feedly earlier I watched the episode with Chris Rock. For a couple of comedians, it was not quite the knee-slapper I thought it would be, but then I only think something is heart-stoppingly funny if it involves groinal attachments.

Yes, I'm one of Those Fans, but I'm also interested in the observations you offer here (which reminds me, have to get the feed for this site).

Anyway, it played out a little like a less insufferable version of Top Gear with only Clarkson presenting.

You're right to shrug it off as something slightly flattering that only increases your pageviews, and I hope it's gotten your creative juices churning and thinking about the wonderful new episodes of Car Pool that haven't been made yet. Or, you could take an antacid and see what the chickens are doing, because damn it, chickens are interesting too.

July 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGinnyRED57

Well, I like the fact that you are actually taking them somewhere where they want to go, so the conversation is broken up with directions now and then - just adds a little random touch. Also, the episode with the awesome Sir Patrick Stewart is brilliant.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Masson

It wouldn't be the first time the American's 'reimagined' a well done British show. eg. All in the Family, Three's Company, Sanford and Son, etc.

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdaveb_1963

The idea of driving a celebrity around and filming it may even go back further than Carpool. I vaguely remember a youtube series that was popular for a while where some guy drove a celebrity around LA from point A to point B. I think the driver may have been a minor celebrity himself. The one episode I remember had Tom Sizemore as the passenger. I looked around youtube for it, but couldn't find it. Does anyone know what web series this was?

September 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterudo nomi

Hi Robert,

I've only just discovered Carpool via YouTube, and love the show - I've been watching the episodes back-to-back every night for the last week - it's a great format and you've introduced me to an unseen side of some fantastic people, many of whom I'd not heard of before watching.
I've been a fan of yours since being raised on Red Dwarf as a young lad (it was the only programme I was allowed to stay up past my usual bedtime for, so it had an added attraction for me too!), and in my teens I'd always head in for the night, just in time to watch Scrapheap. You're also one of the only fiction authors that I've ever really enjoyed reading (apart from some by Ben Elton and Alex Garland, I can't think of any other books I've enjoyed), though I've shamefully only read one of your books - Brother Nature, which was just brilliant - I should probably rectify that and go and order some more... I find reading fiction really hard to do unless there are no distractions whatsoever...

...Anyway, this is all off point and probably uninteresting to you! I guess I just wanted to send you a message to tell you how much I like Carpool, and to ask if/when you'll be making more episodes in future?

All the best,


November 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIntelligible Geordie

Is it past time for me to retire my iTunes Carpool subscription? FullyCharged isn't dead but is Carpool?

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Christie

How's the Carpool iBook idea coming along, no word in a while.

October 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Christie

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