If you are an avid viewer of Nitro Nights, you’ll be very familiar with Tom Deacon. The host and presenter talks in our interview about his personal highlights, gives insights into his work as a comedian, and comments on esports racing’s beginnings as mainstream entertainment.
Hi Tom. Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. How’s it going?
Tom: Feeling very fortunate right now what with the situation worldwide.
You hosted the first 16 Nitro Nights episodes. Which moments do you remember most fondly?
It was great fun to host the 16 episodes. I think for me getting to have a laugh with the guests was the best bit for me. Especially the guests I’d never met before like Charlie Martin, Simona De Silvestro and Max Benecke.
At the same time, I’ve been working with Enzo Bonito, Marcel Kiefer and Cem Bolukbasi for the last three years in F1 Esports, so it was great to have a catchup with familiar faces! It’s a shame we didn’t get the chance to chat to Cem about his love for Love Island (Matt Gallagher and I forced him to watch it one night whilst filming).
Can you describe your preparation for a show like Nitro Nights? Do you have talking points or do you simply improvise everything?
I always wanted the chat with guests to seem as natural as possible, so it may appear improvised at times but a lot of prep went into what to ask them. I would just improvise in the moment whether to stick to planned questions or move on and roll with what they offered.
What’s the biggest difference between working on a radio show and working on something like Nitro Nights or F1?
That’s a fascinating question if you wanted to get all technical and detailed about it. The major difference is, I’m not visible on radio, haha. With Nitro Nights and F1 I have to remember I’m often constantly in shot.
With radio there’s very little talking time, it’s mainly listening to songs you didn’t choose to play (I hope I didn’t ruin anyones ideas that the presenter chooses the music). Also, with radio you’re mainly talking about popular culture and with Nitro Nights and F1 we’re talking about a specific subject.
What do you think matters more, personality or talent when it comes to hosting?
Personality hands down every time. The fact is you can learn how to present better, technically speaking, however personality can’t be taught.
Do you ever get inspiration from your work in esports for your stand-up?
I once had a gig where I was chatting to someone in the audience and it turned out they really liked esports. The rest of the crowd went quiet, they hadn’t a clue what the two of us were chatting about.
Therefore as a lesson I soon realized the general comedy crowd don’t know much about esports. However that doesn’t mean I don’t drop the occasional reference in a set of mine, just for the few that do.
Does your experience in stand-up comedy help you in your role as a caster? If so, in what way?
Doing standup comedy is about commanding an audience, and being able to deal with whatever happens live. This is great training for presenting a live F1 show.
Do you think virtual racing has what it takes to become mainstream esports like Counter-Strike or League of Legends?
Is it as accessible as say CS? No. This is down to the fact that to compete you do ideally need a wheel, peddles and a rig. However if you say it will be as loved as CS for fan entertainment and enjoyment, we’re already seeing that now!
Was esports something you intended to enter, or did you stumble into it by accident?
I have always played games growing up. FPS games I loved. Serious Sam, Duke Nukem and even Counter-Strike when I was at uni. Wait, I loved Medal Of Honor, oh and endless days and nights spent on Championship Manager.
If I’m honest, I never saw an opportunity to get involved work-wise with esports, I did stumble across it with my presenting work. It’s one I am loving though still. I feel very lucky.
Why is English breakfast the worst food ever created?
I agree it’s not good for you. However, it is a life saver after a heavy night at uni. I much prefer my porridge these days.
Never go to your favorite coffee shop again or never go to a Southampton match again?
This is tough because I do have a favorite coffee shop that I have been going to for the last 8 years. The owners and I are now good friends. However… I’d take football (i.e. soccer, editor’s note) every time.
Photo credit: Tom Deacon, iRacing