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My Dad Wrote a Porno: the gang talk through the sordid, game-changing journey so far

With 180 million downloads on the clock and counting, the pervy podcast with more prurience than you’d find at a high-society house party boasting a big bowl bursting with car keys, My Dad Wrote a Porno has slipped its libidinous little self into listening libraries across the globe. 

MDWAP is the product of old university chums Jamie Morton, Alice Levine and James Cooper. This well-spoken, witty and warm threesome have led audiences through uproarious readings of the mucky material from the mind and pen of Morton’s father, who self-publishes erotic novels under the alias ‘Rocky Flintstone’.

They have since branched out into an acclaimed live show, a prestigious HBO special and issued a series of ‘footnote’ episodes featuring famous fans Dame Emma Thompson, Elijah Wood, George Ezra and more. 

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After a cliffhanging close to Book 4 – the final one written prior to the podcast’s inception in 2015 – the gang are back with the next offing in the ongoing saga, as well as announcing a huge world tour kicking off in January in Australia. NME sat down with Jamie, James and Alice to chart their globe-trotting story so far.

Chapter 1: Getting the Band Together

If you found out that your 60-year-old dad had written a bawdy book in shed at the bottoms of the garden, chances are you might not want to share it. Well, Jamie Morton did. He took it down the pub and read it to friends and the rest, as they say, is history. But was it always intended to be just himself, Alice and Jamie?

Jamie: “There were actually two other people who were at the dinner [when it was first read] who haven’t made it onto the show. They found it really funny, but they didn’t have the impetus to do the show, so it naturally just fell to the three of us who all immediately became obsessed with the book.”

Alice: “After Jamie read it, us we both independently asked him for a copy to have for ourselves. It just felt that if we are this obsessed by it, we have to do something with it. Jamie is a producer and James is a director/editor, so we had the production hub to make it. Also, I work in radio, so I could boss them around under the guise of working in the medium! It felt as though our separate skill sets made the podcast the perfect format, but if we’re honest I’m not sure we thought it through as clearly as that when we first did it.”

Chapter 2: The secrets to a hit podcast

With the gang dipping into the fifth series of their global phenomenon, they are quick to share some of the key ingredients that they believe make a good podcast tick. 

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Alice: “We always said from the beginning about consistency. What we did was to make sure that there was something for people to come back to.”

Jamie: “Editing a show is really important. From the beginning, we’ve edited our shows heavily. My best advice to people is to really make sure that you’re making the best thirty/forty minutes of content that you can if you’re expecting strangers to listen to you. If it’s a little bit shorter one week, that’s fine. Just let it be as long as it needs to be in order to be as good as it can be.”

Chapter 3: Overcoming controversy

When My Dad Wrote a Porno was first released into the world, the risqué title ruffled feathers. iTunes were not prepare to feature it and advertising was hard to come by. Even in the face of such resistance, the team decided not to twist, but to stick. 

Jamie: “The title was a blessing and a curse. I remember us having a conversation about how it would catch people’s eye but how it’ll also cause us problems. But we kind-of weighed up the two and thought it would be more beneficial to have a really punchy title that said exactly what the show was. It did have its obstacles but it also had this cult thing where the audience had to find us.”

Alice: “We were the ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ of podcasts! People really preach about podcasts and we really relied on that, basically. We were happy for it to be a slow burn too. We were just lucky that we built a steady fanbase.”

Chapter 4: Changing relationships

With success comes shifting relationships. Well, at least that’s what the book tells us. How have their relationships changed?

Alice: “It’s definitely changed mine and James’ relationship, because I feel like we are so much more open now about discussing stuff as a consequence of the podcast. We have scheduled friend sharing time – it just happens to be on-mic! It’s definitely changed your relationship with your dad, hasn’t it Jamie?”

Jamie: “Hugely, yeah. In a really lovely way. It’s really given us something to do together in a weird way.”

Alice: “The family business!”

Jamie: “It’s like father and son and the corner shop, it’s just, erm, porn! It’s been really nice working with my dad and for these guys to get to know him a lot better. It’s really nice to show him a side of me that he didn’t know – what I do for a living and all of that sort of stuff. And for me to see a side of him that I certainly didn’t know.”

Alice: “Of all the dads that I would have thought would do it, Rocky would be top of the list because he’s an absolute wind-up merchant and loves the craic. I think he would say it himself, he’s as mad as a box of frogs!”

James: “I used to live with Jamie and his parents would come to stay. I’d be in bed and just hear this harmonica come through the living room at about 11 o’clock at night, after a few whiskeys with Rocky cracking out ‘Whisky in the Jar’.” 

Chapter 5: Taking it on the road

In 2017 and beyond, Jamie, James and Alice took MDWAP, a show that was essentially three friends sitting in a kitchen reading a smutty book, to a live audience and toured the world with it. How did they do it?

Alice: “We did a lot of audience participation in the first tour and people seemed to love that.”

James: “We got people up on stage to recreate scenes from the book to see what was actually possible. It turns out none of it is actually possible. Alice did a whole presentation on the vagina.”

Jamie: “Early on, when we were talking about doing a live thing, we were clear that we didn’t want to just do a podcast onstage. We wanted to make sure it was a show in its own right and not just something that fans would go to. We always looked at it as more of a comedy show than a podcast show.”

Alice: “It’s going to be even bigger this time, we hope. It’s going to be Belinda’s [Blink – the books’ main character] dirty thirties. Every night on the previous tour felt like a party and we hope for the same again.”

Chapter 6: ‘Crazy’ Book 5 

This is the first book written since the podcast began but, thankfully, Jamie and Alice are quick to allay any fears that this significance has impacted on Rocky Flintstone’s process or output.  

Jamie: “It’s as crazy as ever. The nice thing about dad is that he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. He has a very clear vision of what he wanted to do with these books. And he has gone consistently in that direction. It was [written] before the podcast connected, really. He knew it was happening but it wasn’t really on his radar.”

Alice: “I mean this with the deepest of respect, but he has quite a short attention span, so something that he’s really obsessed with one week, he’s absolutely forgotten about the next week.”

Jamie: “It’s true and I think he would own up to that himself!”  

My Dad Wrote A Porno is available now

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