Dominic Holland (00:00:00):
My God, if you’d offered me arena tours and millions of pounds or four kids still married and Tom is who he is. I mean, a hundred percent I would’ve chosen that. A hundred percent because, because my comedy is my hobby, really, and I love being a comedian, I love being a humourist, but I’ve been a far more successful dad than I have been comedian. And that is more important to me than anything.
Paul Boross (00:00:31):
Welcome to the Humourology podcast with me, Paul Boross and my glittering lineup of guests from the world’s of business sport and entertainment, who are here to share their wisdom and their use of humour with you. Humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve your business success and your life. Humourology puts the fun into business fundamentals increases the value of your laughing stock and puts a punchline back into your bottom line. Please remember to like subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts.
Paul Boross (00:01:08):
My guest on this edition of the Humourology podcast is an award-winning standup comedian author, and screenwriter with a collection of hugely impressive credits on his CV. He’s built a career on the stage screen and radio from his beginnings, winning best newcomer in Edinburgh. He has become one of the nation’s most popular and well regarded performers. When he’s not writing captivating and comedy packed books. He has been a regular guest on shows like Have I Got News For You and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. He is the author of seven, – soon to be eight – brilliant books, including The Fruit Bowl, I, Gabriel, and Only In America, just to name a few, his book Eclipsed is a firsthand account of what it is like to have a superhero for a son, although it does run in his family, we are thrilled that he is the Holland that could swing by for a chat. Dominic Holland. Welcome to the Humourology podcast.
Dominic Holland (00:02:12):
Paul, lovely to be with you. Thank you for inviting me.
Paul Boross (00:02:15):
No, it’s an absolute pleasure. And to see you again, see you looking so well and fit
Dominic Holland (00:02:21):
<laugh> post lockdown. Yes. Now I’m fine. Actually, Paul. As ever, I am full of vim and vigour. I’m ever determined to confound the odds and to use humour, to use my humour, to propagate a career. You know I like the endeavour nature of being a standup comedian, being a humourist, being a someone who writes and basically having output. And it’s all off my bat. And I quite enjoy that equation.
Paul Boross (00:02:52):
Well, yeah, you are one of the most creative people that I know, because not only a standup you write books, you have… but you are always on it. You are always diligently doing something. I want to take you back to when you were very young and I’ve heard you say in the past that you first found out that you could make people laugh when you were very young. Was humour actually valued in your family?
Dominic Holland (00:03:22):
Well, I was known for being funny and I think that might be because I was definitely not academic compared to my siblings. So Dom was the funny one, which is a polite way of saying Dom was a bit thick <laugh>, so whether it was valued, certainly valued by my mum, who was always a big advocate of Dominic’s personality, me, my personality but my dad was very academic and I remember I told my dad I wanted to, I thought I’d better tell my dad… I’d done a degree. I’d done a master’s degree and I was doing standup and I was doing well. I was obviously able to do it. Rooms were laughing, promoters were going, this guy can do it. And I called my dad in. I said, dad, I wanna have a word with you.
Dominic Holland (00:04:08):
My dad’s face fell. And he thought, okay, there’s either two things coming here. My son’s gay. My son’s gay. He’s gonna tell me he’s gay. Okay. Or my son’s having a baby, he’s gonna tell me he’s having a baby. And then I said, dad, <laugh>, I’m gonna be a comedian <laugh>. And I’m not sure whether he, whether he thought that was better than, than having a child or, and he was really shocked, but he was actually quite supportive and quite well, you know, some, if that’s what you wanna do, then he was… It wasn’t such a leap because I, you know, humour was something which followed me and was around me. People used to say, teachers would say, Holland is funny. People at school would say, Holland is funny, you know? And so it, wasn’t such a leap Paul to try and craft a career out of humour,
Paul Boross (00:04:56):
But it was still a shock to them because I think your dad was a teacher. Your mum was a nurse. And I think your brother became a lawyer, didn’t he?
Dominic Holland (00:05:04):
Two brothers are lawyers. My sister was, a geology is a geologist who went into town planning. So sort of ordered very ordinary professions. And then obviously me very left field. I mean, doing gigs in pubs, you know, that’s what I was doing. I was getting paid in cash as you were back in the day, doing the Comedy Store was cash. It was a very sort of, almost not quite clandestine , really, you know not very official. There was no career ark. I remember before I did stand up comedy, I didn’t have any idea that you could be a professional standup comedian who nobody had ever heard of. I just thought there were famous comedians and that was it. I thought you either Jasper Carrot or there’s nothing but I didn’t understand below Jasper and Ben Elton were myriad clubs and people who were funny and making a living so as soon as I realised that I went to the Comedy Store, I spoke to Mike Haley, who’d smashed this gig. Mike was a standup great standup. I
Paul Boross (00:06:01):
Remember Mike very, very well, great standup,
Dominic Holland (00:06:04):
Great standup. And I went up to him afterwards, the gig. And I, you know, I sort of congratulated him and told him, I thought he was really good. And I told him, I said how can I do a gig here? It was the Comedy Store, the old Comedy Store in Leicester Square. And he said, no, no, no, you can’t start here. This is where you end up. This is five years in, you know, you’ve gotta go to the small clubs. And I said, well where are the small clubs? He said, buy Time Out, which is no longer, no longer going of course. And I just couldn’t believe it. I opened the comedy section. I thought, my God, there’s loads of pubs in London, all doing comedy nights. And that for me was, was an epiphany for me. And I thought, wow, I’m gonna, this is definitely what I’m gonna do,
Paul Boross (00:06:37):
But I I’m interested to go back. You said to your father relaxed about it. My father didn’t relax about it until I’d had, some serious success. Yeah. And it, my father was an economist. And so therefore a statistician. Yeah. And he always he presumed that people like you and I were all actors, because that’s the only word he knew. Yeah. And he said, he used to always say to me, 95% of all actors are out of work at any one time.
Dominic Holland (00:07:08):
<laugh> I think it’s higher now. Isn’t it?
Paul Boross (00:07:10):
Probably because actually, really parents just want their children to be safe. You as a parent of four children. Yeah. You want them to be safe. So going into these careers, was an enormous leap in the dark for them, wasn’t it?
Dominic Holland (00:07:27):
It was. I mean I wasn’t a cherub, I would’ve been 22 or three, so I was an adult and they probably felt it probably was a phase. They probably thought Dominic is just trying this out, you know, and they never really got their heads around it becoming a career cuz it is precarious. And I have to say, I agree with you. The odds are against when I was back in the day at Jackson’s Lane in London, there were about 30 wannabes , I was one of the wannabees and we had illustrious teachers like Eddie Izzard who come along and share with us his wisdom. And I don’t think any of those guys are working now. So I’m the only person out of that class who had any semblance of a career at all. And none of them are doing any gigs at all. So it is pretty attritional. But my parents, you say you want your kids to be, to be safe, I would disagree with that. I think you want kids to be happy.
Paul Boross (00:08:21):
Dominic Holland (00:08:22):
I think the most important thing for your children is that they are content and that’s a big win. And I would never have been happy being a lawyer – too ordered. Not I’m not organised enough. I haven’t got that kind of processor. You know, I don’t retain information. I can’t recall things when I need to. I’m pretty eloquent and I speak well, but that, you know that’s no substitute for having the memory and the process of, for that very ordered mind. And so I definitely am doing what I should be doing for a living. And, and I, my parents would’ve been pleased that Dom’s happy, you know? And, and look, I made a living and I made, I made a lot of money as a standup comedian. I mean, I was going around the world. I was playing the biggest rooms, even if I hadn’t had that success. I think my parents would’ve still been pleased. I was happy Paul you know?
Paul Boross (00:09:12):
It’s interesting from a Humourology perspective from the project I think you are right. I would put it somewhere in the middle of happy and safe. Yeah. Because really I think they, they don’t want that. Maybe we’re in the lucky position whereby we can let our kids go out and have a go, but our parents’ generation it wasn’t quite like that where you could be happy, go lucky and try things out. And, and I think we are a lucky generation in that, that way.
Dominic Holland (00:09:46):
Well, I think we’re all disposed to harking back thinking we we’ve had it the best. I think that’s a bit of a human cliche, cliche of human nature. It felt much more like people who wanted to do it and felt they could do it now. It feels much more like that’s a route I can become an influencer or a famous person via comedy, cuz I’ve got the balls to do it. And it is about having balls cause this is a scary thing. If you’ve got the guts to do it, you can sort of cobble together an act. And there are people who’ve become famous and I watch them and I think, I know there’s no innate comedy ability there at all. It’s just a sort of a front if you like. And I do think back in the day it was much more, it felt more authentic.
Paul Boross (00:10:33):
I’m interested in that just people doing it for a living. I understand that. But do you think there’s that we had Omid Djalili on the show and he said, comedians are people who need the laughter of strangers to validate us. We’re all mentally ill <laugh>
Dominic Holland (00:10:53):
Well, I certainly think, I certainly think there’s frailties in comedians. I mean, I think all of us have mental frailties and mental blocks. I mean, I definitely have them. I have glitches. My wife says, God, you’re so quirky. I think comedians are quirky people, but I don’t believe that I don’t need the affirmation of laughter what I need… what, what I get, what I get off on, if you like is being able to do it. And it’s intoxicating to come up with a line and, and people respond to it and it’s very, very seductive.
Paul Boross (00:11:22):
Well, yeah, that’s interesting. I mean the whole comedian thing, is, I mean it’s a weird concept, isn’t it? That is of, making people do an involuntary act in a darkened room.
Dominic Holland (00:11:34):
Yes. No, it’s definitely weird. It’s a mad thing to do the idea. The notion that we are gonna go along tonight and have a funny person, make us laugh. It’s a kind of mad thing cuz we all laugh anyway. If you go out with your friends for a curry and a pint, when we meet off The Strand, people get together and they’ll invariably laugh. So you don’t need funny people cuz people are funny anyway. Humour exists. However, the prospect, the equation of a professional, funny person, we’re gonna pay a tenner. And for that, we’re gonna get some laughs is mad, but it’s like Nicki last night is in New York. My wife’s in New York with Tom and they went to a comedy show. Cause New York is so famous for its comedy. And I was, it was really interesting. How was it? And she said it was good. You know, some of the comics were good. Some of them were bad as, as happens at all bills because comedy is a big part of the art scene.
Paul Boross (00:12:26):
But why are we so drawn to people who make us laugh? What is it about the human psyche that needs that do you think?
Dominic Holland (00:12:35):
Oh gosh. I mean, that’s a big question and you you’re asking the wrong guy, you asked a philosophy expert. But I think it is in essence joy, isn’t it? Right? Laughter is joy. Okay. What’s the best thing in the day outside eating you’d say laughter, right? Yeah. I mean, fueling yourself is the best thing. Without question going for dinner is always gonna trump. I mean, people would argue sex, but sex is something you do infrequently compared to laughter and laughter is the essence of living. Right? Cause it’s joy. And if you can laugh, I mean I think standup comedy is the most effective art form in terms of laughter cuz comedy films, you might laugh twice, right? Yeah. I mean you name me, you name me the last funny film you saw Paul in the last two years?
Paul Boross (00:13:26):
Oh no. Nothing that has made me laugh out loud.
Dominic Holland (00:13:30):
So I went to see that movie, Phantom of the Open. Okay. Which is apparently is a, riotous you know, English quaint sporting hero underdog. And I sat there po faced for a couple of hours. You know, it, wasn’t funny at all. Didn’t make me laugh at all. You know, now if you watched a standup comedian for two hours and you didn’t laugh at all, wow there’d be a riot. Right? So same with plays, same with novels. I mean I write fiction. I write comic fiction, but I think the best you’re gonna get from an entire novel is a couple of chuckles and lots of smiles. Whereas in standup comedy, it has to be audible. You have to actually make that audience physically laugh for that promoter to say he was a good standup. I’m booking him again.
Paul Boross (00:14:16):
Well it’s instant feedback, isn’t it? It’s that feedback loop that…
Dominic Holland (00:14:20):
Yeah, it is. And the audience feed off you and vice versa. But it’s a huge hit rate. I mean, it’s every, I reckon when I’m on stage doing a 20 minute set. I’m looking at a laugh every 20 seconds. When I do a show in Edinburgh, you sit down, I come on stage and within half a minute, you’re laughing and you don’t stop until 52 minutes. And you, laugh throughout. If you don’t laugh throughout, then I’ve got material that should be dropped. Cause I can’t do… I don’t have the confidence Paul to stay on stage without laughs. Laughs are what punctuate my set.
Paul Boross (00:14:55):
I mean, a lot of people listening to this, infact most people listening to this, won’t be in comedy, but will have to stand up at some stage and, and make a speech. What is your, your best tip for being able to engage an audience and perhaps get a laugh out of them?
Dominic Holland (00:15:13):
Well, okay I’ve gotta be a bit honest here, Paul, I have had some corporate people try and recruit me to do
Dominic Holland (00:15:23):
comedy comedy workshops. I personally do not believe you can teach comedy. Okay, I think everyone can learn to swim, but you can’t all become Adam Peatey. But you can learn how not to die. You cannot drown. Okay? But I do not believe, I think comedy is innate and I think it’s instinctive. But I do think there are some tricks that you can impart. And one of them is poise on stage. And I always say to people, you must make eye contact. Even if you’re speaking to 500 people, if you make eye contact with the people in the front row, there will be an engagement. If you avoid eye contact, then the audience will know. And I think there’s a detachment there. And you’re far better if you can involve people in your performance.
Dominic Holland (00:16:12):
That’s the first thing. And the second thing I would always say to people is it’s all about… No, it’s all about what you say, but it’s also when you say it and when you pause. So if there’s a routine I used to show when I was doing these sort of workshops and it’s the bread rolls routine. If you can find that online, it’s easily findable, Dominic Holland doing the bread rolls routine. And the laughs are always accentuated by my pause and when I deliver the line and what I mean by that is I’ve set up the premise of, we have bread rolls in restaurants all the time. And it’s perfectly agreeable before a meal to have a bread roll, which you’d never do that at home, cuz it would ruin your appetite. And, so the audience know where I’m gonna go.
Dominic Holland (00:16:54):
I’m gonna, I’m gonna now create a scenario where I’m at home about to have dinner. And my wife goes, do you wanna bread roll? And I’ll pull a funny face cuz hang on, we’re gonna, we’re gonna have dinner. And it’s all in the pause; cuz the audience know what I’m gonna say. And it’s the anticipation. And it’s the wait for that delivery that accentuates the laugh. So there are techniques and things I can show you, but I wouldn’t be able, I don’t believe I could take Joe Blow and say right Joe Blow you’ve given me this amount of money. I’ve got three hours with you. I’m gonna make you funnier. I just think, I just don’t believe you can do that.
Paul Boross (00:17:30):
Well, it’s interesting cuz I get brought in from a psychological perspective and a performance perspective and most of the time people are going, I’ve got to go on and be funny <laugh> and I go, no, my job is to actually make you… the funny will come when we see and natural. But if you are going on and going, I’ve got to open with a gag and you are not funny. And I think I agree cuz I mean I think humour may well be a superpower.
Dominic Holland (00:18:03):
Certainly powerful, certainly powerful.
Paul Boross (00:18:06):
If we go back to when you were at school, you were already hearing funny. Yeah. And pretty much every comedian and funny person, I know we’re hearing it really early and going, I know what the gag is here when the teacher does that. I know where this belongs. Yes. It’s instinctive.
Dominic Holland (00:18:26):
It’s instinctive. Yes. it is. It is instinctive. And, and I think there’s two things with funny Paul, I think there are people, there are people who talk funny. So I talk funny. I’ve not been funny on this podcast cause we’re having a, you know, a serious conversation about life and, and so I’m not being funny but when I go on stage, I talk funny and I have good instincts for comedy. And then there are people with funny bones who just are funny. And occasionally those things conspire or people have both. So I would say someone like Peter Kay has got funny bones. He’s got a funny accent. He’s got a funny look. He’s a funny man. And he can say really funny. So those things all combined to create this almost an alchemy in terms of funny, in terms of, if you see the audience cutaways of his gigs, they are helpless with laughter.
Dominic Holland (00:19:18):
Yeah. So that’s a quite a rare combination. And then there are mainly people like me. Eddie Izzard is a good example. Not funny at all when you meet Eddie off stage, Eddie never makes you laugh off stage. But when he goes on stage he’s peerless, cuz he can be funny. He can say funny, but also with comedy Paul, it’s not just about being funny. It’s about people who can laugh. There are certain people, quite unfortunate, people who just don’t laugh, you know? And so what we need as comedians is we need people with good senses of humour who get it and laugh and can emote and can, can enjoy humour. You know, there is always people in the room. Sometimes you see people in room and they carry audiences cuz they’re laughing so hard. They’re almost having as big an impact on the gig as the comedian.
Paul Boross (00:20:04):
I couldn’t agree more because actually I think everybody’s got part because the whole Humourology project is not just about how to be funnier. It’s about how the whole infrastructure works. And by the way, being a good audience, you can be the most popular person in any company by being a great audience and laughing things in and, and being supportive in that way, you’ll be become incredibly popular. You don’t always have to be the person on broadcast.
Dominic Holland (00:20:35):
No, no quite. And people who, who are have a good… My wife is a good example. Nikki is funny. She is comic, but my god, she loves humour. And when she laughs she laughs and it’s, it’s very attractive, very attractive people often say to me, god, you know, Nikki’s got a real sunny disposition cuz she laughs and that’s a real advantage and joy, but humour when it’s done well with a great audience, you know, it’s kind of special. It really is a special night. You there’s no, there’s no film as funny as a standup, there’s no play as funny as a standup and good standup comedy if you think of the, the great routines back in the day, you know, the moose routine from Woody Allen and, and some of Seinfeld’s observations, they are just, just beautiful. And I love the economy of comedy as well.
Dominic Holland (00:21:28):
I’m much less attracted to the shouty standups we have. Now we have lots of standups who are very, very shouty and they almost brow beat their audience into laughter, cuz they’re determined that you are going to laugh and I will bash you over the head with my material. Whereas I like the comedians who don’t need to do that. Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, it’s just very economic. They only use the words they need and that gives it bigger punch, you know, just Seinfeld’s line. There’s no such thing as family entertainment. That’s all he needs to say because what the kids like and what the parents like what the wife likes, what the husband’s like that line is a thing of beauty I think.
Paul Boross (00:22:04):
I was lucky enough to be invited to see Jerry Seinfeld played the Hammersmith Apollo, which was a very small gig and honestly, whatever he did an hour and 20, there was not one word, one, look, one movement out of place. It was perfection. It was a Haku of comedy. If there was such a thing.
Dominic Holland (00:22:29):
Yeah, absolutely beautiful. Rich Hall saw me at Balham one night. And he said to me, after he said, Dominic said, Dominic, you are Britain’s Jerry Seinfeld. And I was very flattered by that, especially coming from Rich. I know I, when I see Seinfeld work, I think, gosh, he’s so much better than me, you know cuz he has this extraordinary precision eye, better eye than me. And then he has I think, a better delivery. So, you know, you have, you have to know where you are in a world of comedy. I’m a brilliant comedian on the way to the gig. I’m less good on stage cuz I get nervous. And my comedic output is constrained by my lack of, I think backing myself. And I think the most successful standups aren’t necessarily the funniest. I think they’re the ones who back themselves.
Paul Boross (00:23:15):
Well, that’s really interesting from a psychological perspective because, I would argue because I always say to audiences at corporates, I always said, you know, there’s two types of people in the world. There are those who get nervous and there are liars
Dominic Holland (00:23:29):
Dominic Holland (00:23:32):
Yes. I’d agree with that. Well, you were the one who said to me, Paul, you don’t get nervous, you get excited, which I’ve used and my son, Tom uses that mantra now. Cuz he has to do some inordinately stressful things, but my, my nerves are something I have just had to accommodate. And they’ve been, they’ve tripped me up and they’ve, they’ve ruined certain moments for me when I was on the cusp of doing something bigger and I’ve got it wrong. I’ve screwed it up. But you know what, they’re part of who I am. And my output is my output. I’ve done loads of gigs. I’m still gigging, I’ve written loads of books. I’ve got more plans for more things. And you know, I go for these long dog walks, I’ve got this brilliant new routine, which if I do get it right on stage, I think it’ll be a bit of a, could be an Edinburgh show. So, you know, I’m very excited at the prospect of being still in the game. Paul,
Paul Boross (00:24:24):
You describe yourself as actually quite shy and, a different sort of person but there’s that old saying that performance is the shy person’s revenge on the world. Do do you think that’s true?
Dominic Holland (00:24:38):
Well, possibly, certainly in my reckoning, Paul, I’m not. Yeah. I’m certainly quite… well, I wouldn’t say I’m shy, but I do not crave attention. Okay. I do not need to be listened to. So I played, I mean we have a charity that we run from – at home via my son and there’s a few local charities who I support. And of course they’re constantly asking me to come along and present for them and do the auction. And I always find it quite invidious because I don’t want to do that. You know, I do it for a living and I don’t wanna be at a social event and suddenly have to jump up and make everyone laugh so I do find it. I wouldn’t say it’s an ordeal, but it’s something I have to do. And that’s why, I mean, it’s a good segue way but that’s why, if you ask me, what do I prefer doing? Do I prefer being a standup comedian prefer being a novelist or a writer? I would argue probably the latter, cuz there are no nerves involved. There is no performance involved. I can do it again. I can get it wrong and do it again. I can write a paragraph and change it. Whereas when you’re on stage, you’ve gotta get it right. Only once.
Paul Boross (00:25:49):
But I’m interested to go back because you talked about – it’s The Brother’s Trust yeah – which is a wonderful charity, which people should look up and support. Cause you do wonderful work, but you find that quite difficult. the fact of actually going up.
Dominic Holland (00:26:09):
I do, yeah. I find it quite difficult. I mean, I do an auction on Friday. Of course everyone expects me to do an auction to sell the lots, but also to be funny. Yeah. So I find there’s a pressure there, right? I can’t just say, and this is the next lot who who’s got a hundred pound. They want me to be funny and I feel a pressure to be funny, cuz people are sitting there with bated breath. He’s a comedian, he’s a professional comedian. He’s going to be funny. And I find that quite onerous because I can’t do my act. I can’t just go into a long story. So you’re only on your wits and I am witty. I am funny and I can see things in the room. I can spot humour. I can spot. There’s a laugh, there’s a laugh there. But I don’t relish it. I don’t look forward to it. Paul I’d rather, they ask someone else, but I get why they ask me,
Paul Boross (00:26:52):
Do you know, I’ve, I’ve just thought of what we should do because obviously I used to do comedy, but then I went into the realms of psychology. Yeah. And the great thing, much simpler and also psychologically with an audience, if you go out they go we’d like to welcome on stage the pitch doctor, Paul Boross. If you even have semblance of funny, it hits much bigger because the expectation level yes. Is really reduced.
Dominic Holland (00:27:22):
That’s a really good point. That’s really interesting cuz obviously I have the invidious position of please welcome on stage a professional funny man. Absolutely. Therefore you better be bloody funny. Yeah. You know, and I am, thankfully I can do it, but I’ve gotta be well, you’re very, I’ve gotta be ready and it has to be, it has to be on my terms. And so, you know, going on golf tours and oh, Dom will do the awards. Dom will do the prize giving cuz Dom’s hilarious. Dom will just do a little speech. Oh God, leave me alone. <laugh>
Paul Boross (00:27:53):
Here’s my prediction. In five years time when your books are, are selling in their millions and your screenplays are, are all over the place, which they, they should be and will be, that’ll be where you will get your moment because there will go author of this, book and everything like that and then come on and then they’ll be going, oh my God.
Dominic Holland (00:28:20):
Yes. Now that will be, you know what Paul? But that’s the holy grail. Okay. For any artist is to have something that … to have something which is instantly recognisable. So, you know, Barker had The Two Ronnies and he had, he had Porridge, okay. Two fabulous pieces of work, you know? And that’s what we all crave and that’s what we’re all aspiring for. And, and even though most of us don’t make it, you’re better off having tried and even if you part, if you, if you pop your clogged and it didn’t happen, you, that life is better than, than not having tried. And that’s where I live. Paul. And when you say it in a nice, in a supportive way and it would be fabulous and I’d love one of my books to hit and then, you know, energise the others. Um, and that’s what I’m working towards. And I’m very seduced by. However, the likelihood of it happening, we all know is remote. Cuz there’s so many books out there there’s only so few, so few books that make it. So few comedians who make it, but that doesn’t, that doesn’t detract me. That doesn’t prevent me at all from trying.
Paul Boross (00:29:28):
Yeah. But the odds against anything in the creative industry already, the odds of you having become a comedian as we discussed earlier yeah. Were pretty astronomical that Jackson’s Lane Community Centre. Yes. Where are those 30 other people now? You know, and it’s true. The odds aren’t great but I mean, I wanted to go onto your books because I’m a huge fan of your books. And ecently I read one, which is one of my favourites, which is I, Gabriel.
Dominic Holland (00:29:58):
Paul Boross (00:29:59):
Which is an extraordinary tale, which just whisks you on this journey.
Dominic Holland (00:30:04):
Now, well, I’m so pleased to hear you say it because when anyone’s read my books, it’s always Eclipsed, Only in America and The Fruit Bowl. Okay. Those are the three books that are, are most successful. I, Gabriel is my most unrecognised book and it’s, uh, I did a podcast recently and someone asked me, what’s the best book you’ve ever written. And I said, I, Gabriel, even better than Eclipsed. I think it’s my best novel. And I’m, and I’m so very heartened to hear you say that. Thank you.
Paul Boross (00:30:31):
Well, no, would it took me on an extraordinary journey and by the way, I, I read it in two days because I mean, it was unputdownable and I had this I spent my life with this mantra in my head saying I’m the luckiest person in the world. And I was deeply moved and entertained by the whole story. And I won’t give away the story because it’s a fabulous story with a twist at the end. Because it’s a window on how lucky we are. And we, I don’t think can conceive of somebody who wakes up on the street and that is them for the day.
Dominic Holland (00:31:13):
Yeah, no, it’s extraordinary. Okay. My books, Paul are kernels of ideas that gestate for many years. And I used to play the Comedy Store back in the day. And the late show started at 12. It now starts at 10. So the late show used to start at 12 o’clock. i’d go on invariably last, so I’d go on at quarter to two in the morning. I used to resent that enormously, that Don and Kim would put us through that. adjure. Anyway, I used to do the gigs and I’d walk back to my car cuz it’s the, the time when the politicians hadn’t, hadn’t stopped us driving bloody in London. So you could park on the Strand, you could park on Waterloo bridge, you could park on Regent Street. you know, you could drive in and I used to walk back to my car and walk past all these homeless people and I’d have a big fist full of cash in my pocket from doing the gigs.
Dominic Holland (00:32:02):
And I always, that was always something which I couldn’t reconcile. And that’s when that story started to take, hold in my head as a young man. And I always loved the idea, wouldn’t it be extraordinary if a rich person had an encounter with a homeless person and it changed his life. Not the homeless person but the rich person. Then over the years I obviously was, it was percolating away. And so I think it’s a beautiful story for Gabriel and what happened to him and its outcome. And it’s very prescient and it’s very of the moment cuz it involves very sort of contentious subjects at the moment. And I thought the book would get picked up, not by publishers. I published it myself, but I thought it would be picked up by readers and it would be, it, it was sort of in the area of not controversy, but certainly certainly modern themes and tropes, but it wasn’t completely missed <laugh>
Paul Boross (00:33:05):
Well, no, but everything has its time. So actually I think it will, you know, because as you say, it’s, it is very off the moment now. I think you may have been slightly ahead of the curve. Right? And now people need time to catch up with it. No but it it’s true. II actually found it. I found it deeply moving because it made me think. I ended up having an encounter with a homeless person whilst I was reading it. Wow. Now I don’t think that would’ve happened because there’s a part of the mind, which is the reticular activating system. Right? Whereby when you are say, you’re looking for a certain car and you have it in your mind, you will see that car wherever you go.
Paul Boross (00:33:50):
At that that’s called the reticular activating system. And I came out of my local train station and a guy came up to me and he said, you are the first person who stopped in two hours. Mm-hmm <affirmative> thank you. Yeah. And, and I was intrigued from a psychological perspective about his approach. Now he looked like your typical thing. He did then did something to me, which is very interesting on the communication level. Hmm. Now, obviously I just read, I Gabriel. So I’m now primed in this to think about how are these people thinking and what’s happened. And a couple of things, the way he communicated with me changed my whole perspective on everything. I was initially, you know, I’m going to respect him and acknowledge him, which by the way, is the most important thing you can do with anybody who’s homeless. And then just, he said a couple of things. And I went to shake his hand, which I know is relevant in <absolutely yes> book. And he said, I won’t shake your hand because I’ve got too much respect for you. And I sleep in a bin.
Dominic Holland (00:35:08):
Oh my God. That’s oh my God. Well that’s okay. So that’s incredibly poignant and, and relevant to I, Gabriel,
Paul Boross (00:35:15):
Very relevant to, I , Gabriel. but it had, I not read. I, Gabriel, would I have just passed by and gone? No, mate, I’m on, I’m in a hurry. Yes. Which we all fall into. So I, Gabriel actually not only entertained, but it actually changed my whole psychological profile.
Dominic Holland (00:35:35):
Wow. Well, Paul, that’s very heartening. And, but I have to say that man, that man demonstrated extraordinary intelligence, didn’t he then? Yes. Emotional intelligence and humanity. Then to say that to you cuz had you shaking his hand certainly. And because you know, obviously I wrote, I, Gabriel so a lot of his neurosis were mine, you know, as the author. if I shake a homeless person’s hand, I am now thinking I must go and wash my hands. Yeah. So he’s gonna compromise my day. I can’t now have a packet crisps. I can’t buy a sandwich. I’ve gotta go and wash my hands. I mean, there’s sanitizer everywhere now. So <laugh> never worry about it so much but there’s, there’s a scene in I, Gabriel, which people when they write, coz I get lovely letters from people and they often make the make mention of the fact that the ending confounded all their expectations.
Dominic Holland (00:36:27):
But there’s a scene where Gabriel sits with Troy in the underpass at Park Lane. And again, that’s completely born out of my experiences because thank god for corporate gigs. If I didn’t have corporate gigs, Paul, I mean, you’ve be very generous about my career, but you know, the reality is if I didn’t have corporate gigs gigs in a suit, I probably wouldn’t be been able to write any of the books I’ve written, cuz they’ve allowed me the money to have the time off from the circuit and doing those corporate gigs where I’m paid 10 times what I get paid at a club. And I’ll come down to the underpass on the way home. That’s even more of a contrast, right? From the Comedy Store, you get 200, quid a gig to doing a gig in a hotel when you’re in a suit.
Dominic Holland (00:37:06):
And then you see people in Park Lane, the wealthiest square meterage of land anywhere in the world, up there with Manhattan and you know, parts of Tokyo, I guess that’s really arresting where you think these people have got bugger all they’re living in this, in this windswept tunnel. And I’m gonna go back to my, my nice warm house in leafy west London. You know, so I’ve I drew. So in my novels, I do draw upon all of my, I think I make observations, not obliquely, but I must make them and they must be stored and I can draw upon them when I’m writing. What I love about my books. Paul is every book I’ve got coming out is the one. I spend a lot of time writing them, getting them right, getting them into the position that I think they’re in good shape. And then I have so much hope and expectation, which is never normally it doesn’t normally it’s not normally fulfilled, but that still served a very important purpose because that book will have carried two years of my time. And then there’s a huge expectation and hope that it might be the one, the breakthrough book and the disappointment is never as high as the excitement before I publish. So that, so it is they’re always worth doing
Paul Boross (00:38:15):
From a psychological perspective, 95% of all our emotions, both positive and negative are influenced by how we talk to ourself. And it sounds like you have a wonderfully optimistic attitude. I mean, is that important in order to be able to keep on that? You know? Yeah,
Dominic Holland (00:38:35):
No, I think it’s essential. Paul, I’m a big self talker and I think it’s essential. I’m happily deluded, which I think I think is a thing. And I think if you’re not delusional, you are probably a bitter person. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and I think I’m quite a lucky person because I am so excited at the prospect of being successful. Okay. That’s a good thing, cuz it means you’re gonna produce output, Equally, I am delighted when I see someone who’s really good. Okay. So if I see Kevin Bridges as a young standup doing these arenas, there’s not a part of me. That’s resentful. I think good for you mate. He’s a brilliant standup. I get a bit frustrated when I see people who I think are really pony who are heralded. I do get frustrated when I see people on TV, who’ve got no right to be on TV. I think that’s always a little bit irksome. However they have to live with themselves, you know, and if they know that there’s a false laugh track, they know that that’s not their cutaway. They know that they’re supported by the edit. Then that’s something they’ve gotta reconcile themselves. when you put, um, MacIntyre on stage, you don’t worry about the edit cuz you know, he’s gonna make the room laugh.
Paul Boross (00:39:48):
Well, I mean I think that’s very relevant to the whole Humourology project. I think the attitude is glorying in good people’s success. <Yeah. Quite right.> Really. And there is room for everyone now. Are there people who are better than others well you could argue that it’s just not to our taste. Sure. So, but the idea that, you know, it’s the old actors gag, isn’t it? You know, how many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb? Ten one to screwing the light bulb with nine to go. That should have been me up there.
Dominic Holland (00:40:28):
Yes. That’s very funny. I like that a lot. I mean, actors are very, I think tend to be more earnest over earnest I think is a profession. You know? It is…well, I was gonna say it’s a meritocracy. I don’t think it is anymore. Unfortunately I think the funniest people, aren’t the ones who are getting the breaks – let me qualify that. There are people who, like MacIntyre, who can break down any barriers that are put in front of him. He was so effortlessly funny. They had to take him on board. They couldn’t ignore him. So you, you can just, you can confound all, all rules if you like, you know, largely, but in terms of live comedy, audiences are pretty discerning. And once you’re on stage, it’s down to you and you’re as funny as you’re as funny, you know, and that’s a nice way to make a living Paul. Because you know, you don’t need someone’s opinion. It’s whether they laughed or not. Yeah. That’s, that’s it that’s that that’s the outcome. Did they laugh? They laughed. That’s good. You’re in good shape.
Paul Boross (00:41:31):
Instant feedback. That’s a feedback loop. I know that cuz I read your wonderful book Eclipsed when it first came out, cuz you were kind enough to let me see a preview copy. Yes. when it came out, but now I hear that Eclipsed is coming out as an audio, a special audio book with you and your son Tom Holland – Spiderman talking about it because it actually chronicles the whole of his young life life.
Dominic Holland (00:42:07):
He kind of does. I mean, Tom was spotted as an eight year old and then he became Peter Parker as a 19 year old. And it was all, it was all a fluke. So the story I certainly didn’t write a memoir about how clever my son is. What I wrote the memoir of is I had best laid plans to make it in Hollywood. I sold three scripts, I’d written three screenplays. They all got sold and I thought, wow, I’m gonna become the new Richard Curtis. And that clearly didn’t transpire. And in the meantime with no plans, whatever, my son, my oldest son, Tom has gone on to become, I don’t like saying movie star, but he is, you know, I don’t like false modesty. The kid is a movie star. And that’s a very funny story because, like ships in the night we passed and his trajectory is extraordinary and I’ve been hanging on.
Dominic Holland (00:42:58):
So I called it Eclipsed and it’s a very affectionate story. And I wrote it as… and it’s been successful. It’s been read all over the world and people have been very kind about it. But the audio… I always imagined would be a bit of a…. People have asked me many times, will you do the audio book? And so I was with Tom one day and I said, Tom, would you, if I did the audio book, could we catch up at the end of every other chapter and reminisce? And he said, sure, cuz he loved the book. He read it. And he did say to me, dad, this is a Chronicle of my life and I’ll have forgotten a lot of the stuff if you hadn’t written this book. So I think it’s an important book for him. He really affectionate about it. So the audio book is really it’s read by Dom and in conversation with Tom. That’s how I’m put pitching it If you like.
Paul Boross (00:43:41):
Oh! That’s nice read by Dom and in conversation with Tom <laugh>. That’s good. Lovely. By the way. As a pitch doctor, it’s perfect.
Dominic Holland (00:43:50):
Yes. Well that’s 19th of June. It comes out international father’s day. So it’s gonna be available then. it can be, people are pre-ordering it now. I’m really hopeful Paul, because if you wanna know how Tom Holland became, Spider-Man you know, this is the seminal work. I mean there will, there will be other biographies. There will be things cobbled together, probably from stuff I’ve written in the past, but this is the work from the horse’s mouth, – the word. And it’s a very unlikely story about an ordinary family experiencing very unusual circumstances because even Tom’s agents on the west coast say to me, what’s happened to Tom is a once in a generation, you know, and who knew and Nikki and I feel very numb that it’s happened to us.
Paul Boross (00:44:35):
Well, I’d encourage everybody to, to go out and get it because A. It’s such a wonderful story, but you beautifully encapsulate your bemused irony.
Dominic Holland (00:44:50):
It is bemusing no, it is. Cuz I through the book, the book hinges on my, expecting it always to end. And that wasn’t me being defeatist. It was just me being a realist. I thought these things do not happen to our family. And yet he kept getting through every hoop and he kept finding himself being cast. And I kept thinking, bloody hell, this is bloody hell. You know? Oh my God. And I’d be in Thailand. I’d be in New York with him. Cuz I used to travel with him. You see when he was a young lad, now he’s on his own. Well, he has his brother to go with him but yeah, I mean it’s a story of impossible odds and a euphoric ending cuz Tom, I speak to Tom every other day, even though he has this gilded life, we’re in touch all the time. We’re best mates and it’s a lovely, lovely story. And I’m very confident about giving it to anyone they’ll they’ll enjoy it.
Paul Boross (00:45:40):
Even if you are, if you are a parent, I think you’ll enjoy it. What I loved about it and this relates back to what we were talking about early on, you want your children to be happy and safe. Yeah. And really the kernel of the book is you saying to him at each stage, don’t get your hopes up, son. <laugh> yeah.
Dominic Holland (00:46:02):
Yes, no. And that is actually, I mean I embellish okay. I embellish comic effect cause not all my books are funny. Okay. So I, Gabriel, interesting about your, your podcast for Humourology, I Gabriel, we just we discussed there’s there’s elements of humour in I, Gabriel, but I wouldn’t describe it as a funny book. I would describe it as a drama, a very compelling, quick to read drama. Absolutely. But I will put humour in there where I think it’s appropriate and I can find humour,. Eclipsed I wrote as a funny book. Okay. So it’s supposed to be a comic take on fatherhood and the extraordinary thing that happened to this dad and to this son. And so I’ve written it as funny as I can. And there are some moments in there where I look back now and I hoot at what I did and what I experienced the Thai meal Springs to mind, where I was in PP at Christmas with my wife and kids.
Dominic Holland (00:46:57):
And we were amongst all of these very uber posh German, Swiss bankers with their identi-kit wives and their boy and girl all with blonde hair. And we have these, we have this unusual looking couple from England with four boys. And it just was so comic that we were in this beautiful resort. We were only there by virtue of the fact that Tom was making a movie. We weren’t there cause we could afford to go there. We could never afford to go to Thailand at Christmas. And then having to go to the banqueting manager and say, look, you know, this mandatory meal we’re having on Christmas Eve. Yes, sir. It comes with booking and it was like, it was like 700 quid for dinner. And I said to him, I said, listen, mate, we shouldn’t be here. I can’t afford of 700 pounds for dinner.
Dominic Holland (00:47:38):
And I said, we’re very small. We don’t eat much. <laugh> and I actually had this conversation with this South African hotelier. Anyway, we went to the meal that night and obviously I dunno, he maybe gave me a hundred quid off. And so I said to the family, right? You can’t eat for two days. We have to be starving when we go for this meal. <laugh> and Patrick, my youngest who will have no memory of this at all. Cause he would’ve been five at the time. The next morning at breakfast, this very sort of regal looking German guy with a fedora hat. He had no socks. He had moccasins – they were all rich. The whole place was full of rich people. And he said to me, I was very amused last night, watching your boys eating.
Dominic Holland (00:48:15):
I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a boy eat so many prawns in my life. <laugh> I thought, my God, if a patron has noticed this, then the hotelier will be thinking, that little bastard <laugh>. So in the book I’m able to embellish and tell these stories and they are comic. They are very, very, very comic stories. The story in the Ivy On The Shore, when I was having, they were campaigning for an Oscar win. Tom had been in a movie called The Impossible, which you may have seen Paul. So true story of the Belón family, a lovely family from Spain and Tom played the eldest son. And basically the story is the tsunami hit the hotel where they were staying and Maria and Lucas were split from the family. They were two kilometres from the hotel when they emerged above the, the waterline.
Dominic Holland (00:49:01):
So they went through all sorts of carnage and it was a shocking thing. And I was at this, this very illustrious restaurant in California, Pierce Brosnan was there, loads of famous people were there. And I sat next to this incredibly beautiful woman. She had been a supermodel back in the day, sort of Christie Brinkley of her time. And she was very well preserved. She, she was about 65, but she was stunning and we were chatting and she got it into her head that I was the father in real life. And so I wasn’t the father of the actor who played him. She got into the head that I was the guy who’d survived the tsunami and I didn’t want to correct her. Cause I thought it was a bit embarrassing. So I sort of played along <laugh>. So for 25 minutes, I was fielding questions from this woman about how I survived the tsunami.
Dominic Holland (00:49:50):
And I even started showing her scars on my arm. It was so ridiculous. It was so stupid that I, that I didn’t just fess up and say, look, you got me confused. I’m the father of the actor. Anyway. And, and then, Kiké Enrique the real life father was welcomed onto the stage to make a little speech. So of course it was just awkward. It was just, it was horrendous for me. She looked at me with disdain <laugh> so, but again, how I got into that is the scrapes I get into. I mean, I should have just been honest and said, you know, but I didn’t, I thought I’d polite to just play along and cajole this lady along. And it turned out to be a complete bloody cul-de-sac and it was a nightmare. So I’m very affectionate about the stories in Eclipsed and the fact that I worked with Elton John back in the day, 1994, Elton and I, I was doing the warmup for the Brit Awards.
Dominic Holland (00:50:43):
He was presenting the Brit awards. Had you said to me then Paul, that Elton John is going to write a musical called Billy Elliot, which hadn’t even been made then. But Billy Elliot would make Elton John many, many, many, many millions of pounds. And yet Billy Elliot would have a far bigger impact on me -the warmup man, I would’ve been staggered, but in fact that’s the case because Tom played Billy in the West End and Tom playing Billy was, was a step towards Tom playing Peter Parker. So the impact of Billy Elliot on my life has been so much more seismic than it has on Elton’s cuz all it is for Elton is more naughts. right. But he’s got so many naughts. It’s all, it’s all the same. Right? You can buy another, watch, buy another car, buy another castle, buy some more flowers. Whereas my life is irrevocably changed cuz my son’s Spiderman
Paul Boross (00:51:29):
And, and I think you’ve handled it beautifully, not just in the book now soon to be audio bookEclipsed, but you’ve talked about it on stage. And I remember we did a gig together only a few years ago when you you talked about it so beautifully. Yes. About what people remember from comedy shows.
Dominic Holland (00:51:53):
Yeah. And you gotta be careful. Cause all of my instincts recoil from aren’t I a clever dad and isn’t my son talented. You can make your own minds up about whether you like Tom and you can make your own minds up, but I certainly wouldn’t be there. You know, this is how I did it. I wouldn’t be writing that book at all. Eclipsed is not how Tom became Spiderman, it’s not how I made Tom Spiderman. It’s how it happened. And then it was just, it was just a series of serendipitous things. And you know, you know, what if you said to me back in the day, Paul, when I, you mentioned earlier in my introduction in 93, when Johan Magnuson, who’s the producer of Graham Norton’s show, he gave me the Best Newcomer Award and he was very kind Johan and I was heralded then.
Dominic Holland (00:52:43):
And I really thought I was gonna make it. I really thought I was gonna become a sort of theatre household name, standup, cause I could smash a room. I thought, wow, I may as well just go and smash theatre rooms, I’ll become famous. And that didn’t transpire, but my God, if you’d offered me arena tours and millions of pounds or four kids still married and Tom’s who he is, I mean, a hundred percent, I’ve chosen that a hundred percent because, because my comedy is my hobby really. And I love being a comedian, love being a humourist, but I’ve been a far more successful dad than I have been comedian. And that is more important to me than, than anything.
Paul Boross (00:53:27):
And what is real wealth, you know?
Dominic Holland (00:53:30):
Yeah. I mean, that, that’s a good question and that’s an obvious answer, right? Well, health is wealth, right? We all have health and take it for granted, but also, you know, a happy family is real wealth as well, because I would hate to be one of these dads or standup comics who’s hugely famous, but flying around a world with just a rubbish home life.
Paul Boross (00:53:52):
Actually, but is laughter the lifeblood of any relationship and any home life as well.
Dominic Holland (00:54:00):
Well, I’m not, should I say life blood, it’s certainly a major contingent and you have to, if you’re going for dinner and you can’t think of anything to say to your kids or partner then you’re not in great shape. And laughter is a good glue. It’s a good coagulant for people. You know, something we all share be because, you know, I mean, Nikki watches films, I can’t watch, she watches Bridgerton and I can’t watch Bridgerton and wild horses could not bring me in the room to drag me in the room to watch it. But we all laugh together. And so it’s a, it’s a bonding experience. And funny is funny, right? So I wouldn’t watch Bridgeton, but she wouldn’t watch, you know, movies that I would like to watch, you know, but we can, we can find common ground and enjoy humour.
Paul Boross (00:54:50):
But that’s really interesting because you’ve talked about it in the sense of a household and, and a successful marriage and family, but in business, I think it’s the same thing – it needs to be there. If you had to write a business case for humour, wouldn’t you include those same things?
Dominic Holland (00:55:10):
Well, you would, but it’s a dangerous thing to try and take on, even someone like Jeff Bezos when he’s presenting at, Davos say, okay, he will be backstage. He’s the richest man in the world. He probably would love to have a couple of bangers in his speech. Okay. And he probably would use, he probably would fly me in and have an hour with me cuz I could read his speech and say, right. Okay. So here’s two laugh lines for you. Okay. And they will get, you laugfs. So you say this in this order and you paused before and you’re gonna get a big laugh. That’s very valuable for Bezos cuz Bezos, everyone sees him as a robot and as this money machine. If he can make people laugh, then there’s gonna be a huge change and affection for him. So and you know, look, just look at the adverts on tele, practically two thirds of adverts, try and go for humour. So when trying to sell you stuff..
Paul Boross (00:56:05):
Coz it’s a state change, isn’t it? Because if you can change, somebody’s state, it’s much easier to persuade them. Isn’t it?
Dominic Holland (00:56:12):
I guess so. And if you can entertain them, then you’re gonna create affection.
Paul Boross (00:56:17):
Dominic Holland (00:56:17):
And, humour, if you can create, if you can make people laugh – obviously mine’s a real acid test cuz I’m a professional comedian, you know there’s an expectation there. However, in, in the world of business with keynotes and what have you, I mean, I did a big dinner for, for BUPA one year in Birmingham, I was hosting their conference and doing some standup and I sat with the CEO before her keynote and I gave her some lines. I read her speech and I said, right, okay, if you say this here and you do this here and she came off stage and said to me, oh my God, that was absolutely fantastic. So if I could, if you can, if you could sell that. I mean, if I had the energy Paull, I would try and maybe make that a section of my website. So keynotes can use Dominic Holland, I’ll turn up at your conference and I’ll sit with you for an hour, but it’s just whether you get the gig, but it’s a very powerful thing.
Paul Boross (00:57:19):
Well, I think it’s worth thinking about, because I think people desperately need that. And with all that experience that the thing is with experience is that you can just look at something it’s the same way I can look at somebody on stage and go stand like this, do like that thought process like this, but the comedically, you know, where the gag lies. Yes. And also the gag, you see their speech and go here’s the aside. It’s not a gag, but this will work as an aside. Yes it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s intrinsic to the flow of it. Fabulous. Dominic. We reached the point in the show, which we like to call quick fire questions
Dominic Holland (00:58:00):
Paul Boross (00:58:01):
Quick Fire Questions.
Paul Boross (00:58:05):
Who’s the funniest business person that you’ve met
Dominic Holland (00:58:08):
That would have to be the then CEO of Gillette. Okay. So, I will tell you a quick story. I’d published a book called The Ripple Effect, which is my funniest book that I’ve ever written – funniest novel that I’ve ever written. He was reading it on holiday and ended up in hospital as a result of reading The Ripple Effect. <laugh> he was drinking a beer by his villa, as you do, cuz he’s the CEO of Gillette. And he was enjoying the book an awful lot. And he got to a point in the book where he was having a beer and he laughed so much, it bruised his oesophagus and he was in so much pain that he went to hospital. So I would say, and then he came back to London and it, I dunno how I got to know about it, but it got into the newspapers. I was excited. I thought it was gonna be a brilliant story, gonna launch my book, but he booked me on the basis of my book to do a gig and, and we had a nice exchange and I was very grateful to him for having read it. And so yeah, I can’t remember his name now, but he’s the funniest. He’s got the best sense of humour cuz he liked my book.
Paul Boross (00:59:17):
Oh brilliant. Brilliant story as well – bruised oesophagus
Dominic Holland (00:59:22):
Bruised oesophagus. Yes.
Paul Boross (00:59:23):
What book makes you laugh, Dom?
Dominic Holland (00:59:26):
That I guess would have to be any of the Tom Sharps. My dad had a big impact on me as a young man because my dad used to laugh riotously at reading Tom Sharp. And so I was always beguiled by how this book could make my dad laugh so much. We went on holiday in Norfolk one year on the, on the Broads, on a boat holiday. And my dad was just sitting in a deck chair just in hysterics. And I thought that was an extraordinary thing to do. So I read Sharp with that in mind and I can see with Porterhouse Blue and some of, I mean, it’s not entirely my style of comedy, my style of writing, but I do think I can see why people laugh at that Sharp.
Paul Boross (01:00:14):
Brilliant. What film makes you laugh?
Dominic Holland (01:00:18):
My favourite comedy film of all time is My Cousin Vinny, very unheralded. I think it stacks up Joe Peschi, Joe Peschi, Marisa Tomei, Fred Quim now gone, written by Dale Launer, who I was in touch with. I think it’s a, an ensemble cast, a peerless script directed by Jonathan Lynn now gone, better than anything that Judd Apatow has ever written better than anything that’s been written by a British comedy writer. I think it’s a fabulous film. Very, very comic. Great resolution. Just, just perfect piece of comedy writing.
Paul Boross (01:00:58):
Absolutely. We’re gonna take a quick shift to the other side briefly and, and ask. What’s not funny?
Dominic Holland (01:01:07):
I suppose, I suppose the dark comedies. I think I would be happy to mention. So the movie, The Favourite with the Greek director, that movie was apparently funny with about Queen Elizabeth saying C U N T you know, continually. I didn’t find that. I mean, I’m not bothered about swearing. If I watch Mike Wilmont do stand up, he swears all the time and I think it’s absolutely in keeping and he’s really funny. So I’m not a prude, but I don’t think, you know, having Queen Victoria say the C bomb makes it a humorous film. And so when people praise those films, I think that’s the emperors new clothes. That’s, that’s the going to the Royal Academy and seeing the summer exhibition and seeing artwork that needs to be guarded by security guards. Cuz people think it’s not even a piece of art. It’s just a piece of decorators someone’s left of bucket or something and people just move it. So, so that for me is the Empress new clothes that sort of comedy. And I’ve no patience for it at all.
Paul Boross (01:02:15):
What word makes you laugh, Dom?
Dominic Holland (01:02:18):
Hippopotamus? I think it’s just a beautifully melodic, you know, they, they look funny. They I think it’s hilarious that they are the most dangerous land mammal and just seems to get away with it. You know we all hate rats and snakes, but it’s actually, the hippos were killing us and we love them.
Paul Boross (01:02:37):
What sound makes you laugh?
Dominic Holland (01:02:41):
Well, you know, I’m gonna sound a bit base here, but you’re never gonna get anything quite as funny as a fart. I mean, it’s always funny and don’t tell me it isn’t cuz it is, it is always funny and it always will be funny and I’m a professional humourist, so I should be a little bit more discerning, but no happily go bass. <laugh> it’s funny.
Paul Boross (01:03:02):
Would you rather be considered clever or funny
Dominic Holland (01:03:06):
100% funny. There is a big branch of comedians now who are obsessive with how clever they are. And I have never understood that. Peter Cook was very clever cause he went to Oxford. So we know he is clever, but he was very funny and it was his funniness that made him a famous person and I’ve very little time for, oh God, he’s very clever. I think I don’t care how clever he is. I want my oncologist to be clever. I do not need my comedians to be clever. I need them to be funny. That’s all I need.
Paul Boross (01:03:42):
I would argue having known you for many years, that you are clever and in order to actually write those brilliant books and deliver that brilliant standup, you need a level of clever in there as well. I think you hide your clever light under a bushel,
Dominic Holland (01:04:03):
A very big bushel
Paul Boross (01:04:04):
<laugh> and finally, Dom, Desert Island Gags. You can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What is it?
Dominic Holland (01:04:15):
I think in terms of, I’ve already said earlier on, I think Seinfeld’s observation. There’s no such thing as family entertainment; I think is in essence beautiful. But I think my favourite line on the circuit was by Arj Barker, who is, an American Indian guy, cool looking, really attractive and plays on it, plays on it enormously. He’s a big, big hit with the ladies is Arj Barker, and he has this brilliant line and he says, I’m gonna be a really big success in comedy. I figure I’m gonna be so successful that my wife is not even born yet.
Paul Boross (01:04:55):
Dominic Holland (01:04:59):
And, and I <laugh>, that’s a wrong joke, but it’s a very funny joke. Very, very funny joke.
Paul Boross (01:05:07):
It’s brilliant. And it makes you do that leap. That’s absolutely fantastic. What a way to end it. You have created so much affection. You’ve created so much joy. I thank you, Dom for being a wonderful guest on the Humourology podcast.
Paul Boross (01:05:24):
The Humourology podcast was hosted by Paul Boross and produced by Simon Banks, music by Steve Hyworth, creative direction by Les Hughes and additional research by Helen Sykes. Please remember to subscribe like and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a Big Sky production.
Geoff Norcott – He’s Having a Right Laugh
Comedian and political commentator Geoff Norcott joins Paul Boross and The Humourology Podcast to discuss how humour can help humanity connect in the face of polarising politics.