Tales from the Aletheian Society

Tales from the Aletheian Society is a serialised comedy-horror audio drama about the misadventures of a society of Victorian occultists.

Season Two- Coming (Very) Soon!

It’s been hard work getting here, but Season Two is almost ready to go!   

After the flurry of activity that saw the first series of Tales go from a half-baked idea to scripts to finished episodes, it seemed that Season Two took a long time and twice as much work. Part of that probably stems from the fact that initially we had the background to the story half-conceived as a LARP setting anyway, so the difficult world building for Season One had been done years in advance - but there was more to it than that. 

The second round of scripts took longer to write - Chris and I were busy over the summer with social events and family commitments (LARP season alone seems to derail everything), and we rapidly realised that we’d packed the series pretty tightly with complex framing, character progression, historical factoids and a huge amount of plot, all of which took quite a lot of careful arranging and editing to bring it to a state we were happy with. Add to that a real push on female representation and not one but two new regular characters, and it was pretty obvious we weren’t making things easy on ourselves.    

The summer also made it difficult to get our expanding cast together, with various work commitments and holidays abroad meaning that there was often a gap of a month or more between recording sessions. I got quite obsessional about trying to get everyone along on the same evening to record together- but in the end that simply wasn’t possible and we had to record some lines separately. On the other hand, the pressure meant we got really good at recording lots of material in a very short space of time - by the end of season 2, we could get a quick rehearsal and two full episodes recorded in a single three hour session.  And in the midst of it, Stoo got a new job, which meant we could no longer completely monopolise his time (though he seems to have removed "sleep" from his diary, if the pace he's continuing to edit at is anything to go by).

But despite all the difficulties, it’s all coming together beautifully, and we’re pretty damn proud of what we’ve achieved so far. All of us - writers, actors, art wizard and sound magician alike - have developed our skills immensely and in unexpected directions since we began work on this project, and the learning process is far from over. It's safe to say we've well and truly got the audiodrama bug, and (shhh - it's still a secret) Shadow Factories and We Evolve's second collaboration (guaranteed to contain neither Victorians nor tentacles) is now at the plotting-it-out-in-the-swingpark stage of development.

And what’s next for the Society? Next up we’ve got a selection of Patreon minisodes ready to record (including one very special one casting a light on a fan-favourite character often denied their rightful place in the limelight) and one or two giving a sneak peek at a few of the secrets coming up in Season 3 - and yes! There will be a Season 3, half of which is written already, with the second half flying off our keyboards as I write. Once that's out the way the grisly process of comparing diaries and swearing over doodle polls begins once again, and I can hardly wait.

But for now, put Halloween in your diary, pack your occult paraphenalia and book your train ticket to Edinburgh - because the Aletheian Society has work to do...


Jude

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Season 2 teaser

Hello patrons, you'll be delighted to know that Season 2 is creeping (stealthily) ever closer and that we have a lot of bonus content coming your way in the time between now and then.

Watch this space...

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New society member discovered!

Our crack team of researchers have uncovered this image of a hitherto-unknown Aletheian Society member - who bears a *striking* resemblance to one of our patrons...

But who was he? What was his role in the society?

Current members of the Aletheian Society are investigating it urgently - if you have information on this Illuminate, please share it in the Community area!

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All New Patron Reward!

Ever wanted to see what you’d look like as an illuminate of the Aletheian Society? Wonder no more!  

Today the society is extremely excited to announce our all new patreon reward - for supporters at the “Den of Ginger Brutes” level and above, our gifted artist Daisy Abbott will draw you - yes you! - or a consenting friend of your choosing - in the clothing and attitude of a Society Member circa 1872!   

What’s the catch? Well, there isn’t one! All you need to do is upload a ¾ angle photograph to the discussion section of our patreon, along with the full name and title under which you’ll be serving the society (Miss Gordon doesn’t use her real name, so don’t feel you have to either), and your specialist area of interest. We can’t wait to see our new illuminates!

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What Makes Us Laugh

It’s an act of hubris to attempt to create comedy - what makes one person laugh can leave the next person cold, and there’s no feeling like writing or performing a line that just fails to connect. So with that in mind, we thought we’d let you know what’s tickles our funny bones! 

Television

Chris: The Good Place

Clever writing, sharp dialogue, great acting and some amazing twists. A show that just gets better the more you watch. Kristen Bell is fantastic as always, but I’d really forgotten how great Ted Danson was at situation comedy. It made me want to re-watch Cheers (which I suspect won’t have aged well in terms of sexual politics, but was pretty much the funniest US show on British TV when I was a kid.) 

Jude: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ok, so maybe Buffy isn’t primarily a comedy, but the humour is an integral part of the show. It’s brilliantly witty, the comic timing is superb, and there’s so much charisma radiating from the core cast that caring about their characters is effortless - and that’s when the writers pull the rug out from under you with episodes like The Body, and The Gift, and Forever… 

Stoo: Brooklyn 99

For what should be a straightforward New York cop sitcom Brooklyn 99 is amazingly diverse and funny. The cast are brilliant, the timing, recurring characters, recurring jokes are all perfectly executed. What I love most about it is the strong male role-model in the form of Sergeant Terry Jeffords. He’s big and strong (the actor, Terry Crews, can bench in excess of 200kg (yeah, I googled it), which is you and the person next to you), suffers from anxiety and PTSD which he battles with throughout the show and is a devoted husband and father, while still being a comedic character who supports, and is supported by, those around him. You don’t see enough of that in any TV, let alone a sitcom cop show. Also, about half the cast are left-handed, which pleases me immensely.

Film

Stoo: Big Trouble in Little China

I loved Big Trouble in Little China as a kid and I still do. It’s a cheesy action drama with Chinese myth and magic set against a San Francisco backdrop. The lead character, Jack Burton, is an over-confident buffoon, way out of his depth throughout the movie. Then at some point you realise it’s not a comedy, it’s a completely straight action movie and Wang Chi is the lead character and Jack Burton is the sidekick… Meta-comedy! Two movies in one!

Jude: 9 to 5

I’m going to pick another 80s movie. This one stars Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton as three women who end up kidnapping their abusive boss with hilarious consequences. The scriptwriting and performances are really sharp, and there are some lovely surreal sequences - an all round brilliant comedy.

Chris: Ghostbusters

While I enjoyed the remake, the original is pretty much unbeatable for me. It was the first film I ever remember being desperate to see as a kid, and it’s aged remarkably well. The jokes are still funny, most of the special effects still look good. Pretty much a perfect trifecta of funny, scary and science fiction.

Books

Jude: Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre

For proper pee-your-pants, laugh out loud comedy, I’ve got to say the works of Christopher Brookmyre (particularly, though not limited to the Jack Parlabane series) have got to top my list. They’re dark, slightly gruesome and extremely Scottish in their humour - I’ve picked Quite Ugly as my favourite, but to be honest they’re all good. He also writes very good (although more serious) crime novels.

Stoo: The Works of Terry Pratchett

I don’t read much comedy so this one was a bit of a struggle. I loved Terry Pratchett as a kid, especially the City Watch related books, but I haven’t read anything of his in… more than ten years. I think Jingo was the last book I read and Wikipedia thinks that was published in 97, so it might be twenty years. I should probably rectify that.

Chris: Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

I think the last book I read that made me really laugh. Deceptively simple beats, but it somehow makes for wickedly hilarious comedy. I also enjoy the sly addition of the historical stuff (the character that is clearly “Emperor Norton”, for instance). The sequels, and indeed most of Moore’s stuff, are well worth checking out!

Comics

Chris: The Establishment (by Edginton & Adlard, Wildstorm)

Despite a criminally short run, this British answer to the Authority was both hilarious and genuinely different to most of the Wildstorm fare. As well as a great central plot, it’s a treasure-trove of hidden references to old television shows like The Avengers and Danger Man.

To be honest, I could have done a dozen entries for this section. I strongly considered Ace Trucking Co and Dr & Quinch from 2000AD, which remain some of of my all time favourite comedy series.

Jude: The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore

I don’t read a lot of comics for the humour, but The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is certainly worth a mention for the way it takes fictional characters and weaves them into Victorian Britain, subverting and mocking the tropes as it goes. It’s also a masterclass in the way it makes the transition from witty banter to appalling horror in the space of a few illustrations.

Stoo: Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson

Calvin and Hobbes is the amazingly charming, insightful and funny adventures of a boy and his stuffed tiger. The entire run of comics is driven by Calvin’s imagination, his loathing of school but love of learning but occasionally hits on some poignant moments between Calvin and his parents.

Other

Stoo: The Doug Anthony Allstars

I’m not sure how this will have aged but DAAS were an Australian musical comedy trio in the 90’s. I never got to see them live but a mate had a video tape (yes, VHS!) of one of their shows which we watched repeatedly. They told jokes, sang songs and had a very rough and tumble physical humour to go with it. Their material was hilarious then they’d side-line you with something poignant and moving. Aso, listen to the comedy-goth-musical stylings of Voltaire.

Chris: Ask Lovecraft (youtube channel)

Should it be funny? A guy answering questions and holding forth while pretending to be the reanimated Howard Phillips Lovecraft? Somehow it is, though - very funny. Leeman Kessler has an amazing line in deadpan delivery (and out-of-character comes across as a really nice guy.) Thankfully it’s entirely shorn of any of the real HPL’s odious beliefs.

Jude: Old Harry’s Game (BBC radio comedy)

I was a big fan of audio drama and comedy long before I came across the AD podcasting scene, and my all time favourite has got to be Andy Hamilton’s Old Harry’s Game, a sitcom set in Hell about the devil, his assistants and an assortment of damned souls. The writing moves seamlessly from beautifully observed parody, to slapstick, to outright horror, and the biting satire is as relevant today as when it was written.

Audio Drama Podcasts

Chris: Attention Hellmart Shoppers

While I think We Fix Space Junk is probably my favourite podcast overall, in terms of sheer humour Attention Hellmart Shoppers is hard to beat. I particularly love Daniel’s speech from the first episode, explaining why he went to prison, where he just keeps adding more and more layers of financial shenanigans to his resume.

Jude: The Dark Ages

There are so many great comedies at the moment! Top of my list at present are The Dark Ages, which is a brilliantly subversive take on the fantasy genre with very Pratchett-esque humour, A Scottish Podcast, which has had me laughing out loud at its sweary rants and deadpan social commentary, and Attention Hellmart Shoppers, which took a little while to grow on me but very soon became a firm favourite.

Stoo: Wooden Overcoats

With a brilliant cast, fantastic production and hilarious writing this is the high bar for audio drama and something like what I’d hope to achieve with the Aletheian Society. The ever-changing interactions between the main characters is what drives the humour behind this and the twisting, turning ending to season one was amazing.

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