Making the airways light as a feather – Clive Bull shares how a lightness of touch makes you more likeable on the radio.
– The business case for humour is huge I would have thought because if you get it right you can win people over. I mean, one person standing on a stage can fill a stadium with this weird thing that is comedy.
– Welcome to the “Humourology Podcast” with me, Paul Boross and my glittering lineup of guests from the world of business, sport and entertainment who are going to share their wisdom and their sense 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. Our guest on this edition of the “Humourology Podcast” is the multi award-winning radio host, journalist and presenter of the second longest running show on LBC Radio. Considered a legend by peers and listeners alike, his smooth and seemingly effortless skills showcase his supreme sense of how to flip seamlessly from the serious to the satirical. Early in his career, he developed an extraordinary on-air relationship with comedy superstar, Peter Cook, who would regularly call into his show. As The Observer newspaper stated, “There’s no one quite like him. You get the impression that he’s living just a bit dangerously and that’s what makes phone-ins exciting.” Clive Bull, welcome to the “Humourology Podcast”.
– Oh, thank you very much. Wow, what an introduction. “Nobody quite like him,” that could go either way, couldn’t it?
– I’m sure it will go the right way. Now you’ve been at the top of the radio world for decades, literally. How important is humour in staying at the top?
– Yeah, I don’t know whether I’m at the top or in the middle or somewhere but I think humour is a vital part, possibly because even when you’re doing quite serious stuff at the moment, of course the news, the world, everything is rather serious, but even then, you do need to retain some kind of sense of humour. And I think that just, not only on air but actually off the air as well. If you’re good humoured about it, then people want to work with you as well.
– That was very interesting actually, because it’s, I think that level of somebody who has been so long on the radio, there must be something happening off air as well as on air that you get on with people. Is that humour is important to that as well?
– Absolutely, yes, I always think that’s the most vital thing, really, is getting on with your team. I’ve always found that really important. I mean, there are people who focus just on the the work in hand and their minions do whatever they have to do. But I feel like, you have to hold each other’s hands and get through it as a team. That’s the way I like to do it anyway. And you’ve got to enjoy it, if you don’t enjoy it, you can tell.
– I mean, as you said, there’re some people who think that they can bully their way to success. And so, you use the word minions. I think that’s an attitude and the “Humourology Podcast” is all about attitude towards a lightness, a humour and what you’re saying is that, have you seen, no names, no pact, Clive, but have you seen presenters who have been ousted basically because they weren’t liked?
– Not at the radio station where I am now but I do… The thing is there are one or two people around, both in television and radio and everybody knows who they are. There’s just one or two who are not, they are a bit bullying. Yeah and they don’t have a sense of humour about it and everybody knows it. And it really isn’t a good idea because the whole industry knows it and people don’t really want to work with you. And there’re one or two in, especially in television, so I’m told.
– Yes, having worked in television a lot, I could tell you a lot of stories but we might have to call our lawyers.
– Yeah, but actually the people who are really, really successful and are at the top of their game, I do find are the ones who are incredibly nice and incredibly good humoured. And it is really noticeable. Some of the very biggest stars you meet, you’re rather disarmed by their general humour.
– Well, who is the biggest star that you’ve met who’s humour you were disarmed by?
– Ooh, crikey, that’s a really hard one. Mostly, I don’t tend to be big stars but I suppose in the humour world, Billy Crystal I think probably was one of the biggest stars I interviewed.
– He’s a legend.
– Yeah, he was just naturally funny. He’s one of those people who’s just got it. I was next in line, you know how you, it’s like 10 minutes each or whatever and so I went in and said, “Billy, so you’re here to promote your latest film?” He said, “Clive, I’m here for five minutes,” and that’s it. He was lovely, he was really funny.
– Well, isn’t that amazing that you still remember the people who were A, that funny? Why do we love funny people so much?
– And I find it very interesting. You’ve probably met far more comedians than I have but I’ve interviewed a few and mostly that funny people can be really serious and they regard comedy as a very serious business. A lot of them are quite introverted. Occasionally, you get the real extrovert and they just laugh a minute, and I find them quite exhausting in a way, but there’re also very, very serious comedians. And I don’t know whether that’s a necessity, if you’re going to be a comedian, you’ve got to be analytical like that. The only one I met who was just exactly as I was expecting talking a big stars was Eric Morecambe who I interviewed a long, long time ago and I don’t know whether he was putting on an act but all the way through, even waiting in reception, he was entertaining everybody, doing all the glasses and everything all the way through, had everybody rolling about. I don’t know whether he just switched it on or not but it looked like that was really him.
– Well, that’s funny because I have an Eric Morecambe story as well which is my best friend’s dad was William G. Stewart, who 15 to one, but he was a producer, a comedy producer. And he produced “David Frost Show” live from London and it went out live in Australia but they recorded it here. So everybody did the show. So they didn’t have to fly 24 hours to promote their book or TV series or whatever. And I was in the green room at Capitol Studios, which you probably know and it just so happened that as you know, in green rooms, you just end up talking to the person beside you and just me and Eric Morecambe were talking to each other and we’re having a laugh basically about football and he couldn’t have been sweeter and a big Luton Town fan and suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw this woman approaching, who was obviously from the audience who’d managed to get backstage and she sidled up to us and went, “I’m so sorry to disturb you both. I just couldn’t leave without coming up to you, Mr. Morecambe and saying thank you for all the years of pleasure you’ve given me and my family. And I just couldn’t leave. I’m so sorry to have disturbed you,” and he was so lovely and humble and warm. And as she backed away apologising profusely, he turned to me and I’m the only person there, did the thing with his glasses and went, “Seems like a nice, old ma’am.” So what I say is, I don’t think that he was putting it on. I think he was just genuinely warm, funny and lovely. Who makes you laugh?
– I think what mostly makes me laugh and not so much, I mean, there are one or two great stars that I think are hilarious but often it’s more reality that is really funny. Real people, real situations, awkwardness. That, I find really makes me laugh out loud in a way that a lot of things that are funny just gently amusing.
– You said that realness, is there a real funny story about something that happened to you that gets into your sense of humour?
– Well, I think what happens with me is, I mean a lot of it is on the air. It’s the people phoning in, the unexpected moment, there’ve been lots and lots of those over the years. Like in the early days when I was doing the overnight programme, the number of times I’d be chatting away to somebody at half past three in the morning and I’d be going, “And Perry, what’d you think about that?” And you’d fade the fader back up and you’d hear and every time it was hilarious partly because it’s self-deprecating because they fall asleep because they’re listening to me but also it’s just going to happen that time in the morning. And there’s something hysterical about somebody who’s waiting on the line to speak to you or is listening to you, and then you fade up the fader and they’ve actually nodded off. So a lot of those real, real situations I find, and the other thing that I find funny is when you’re not supposed to laugh. So that for me is like a real tonic and if you’re in the studio, especially if you’re doing something serious and you’re not meant to laugh, like I’m just thinking of, there was a very early call I had, I think we were doing a phone-in about unusual jobs and this woman phones in talking about her husband and the job that she used to do and it was quite a comical tale she was telling of how he used to work down the sewers and he had these huge trousers, sewer socks she called them and they came up to here and it was, and we were all just gently smiling away and then she said, “And then he caught a disease and died.” Oh, yeah, it’s-
– Well, it’s true, ’cause I shouldn’t be laughing, but my automatic reaction was to laugh.
– It was terrible, terrible, but it was so funny and the way she said it was so so matter of fact and you can actually hear in my voice, “Oh, well I’m sorry to hear about that,” and , but it’s the fact everyone else is rolling around and you definitely cannot because it would be so inappropriate and that it’s an amazing feeling actually, when you you can’t help yourself laugh, and it really, I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t happen that often, but it’s a real tonic, in a way, It’s like a physical thing, isn’t it?
– Yeah, well, it’s laughing in church, I think it was always called, wasn’t it? The inappropriateness-
– Yeah, exactly.
– But I had a thing where Ainsley and I were at Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Day and we went to school together and we became school boys because we were seated right opposite the whole of the Royal Family. And this just became hilarious to us that two boys who went to school together would be in this situation and we just couldn’t stop laughing. It was the perfect setup really. But going back to laughing at that, they say that comedy is tragedy plus time. Things are funny if you have a distance from them or you have that-
– Yeah, absolutely, it takes a little while but eventually you can laugh at almost anything.
– Yeah, is everyone funny?
– Well, I certainly met some people who I haven’t found very funny, but they I guess sometimes unintentionally funny that even the most serious person can be funny without realising it. I don’t think everybody’s got a gift to be funny. There were some people who were just naturally gifted. I don’t know, can you learn it? I’m not sure whether you can, to be honest. I think you might be able to learn a few techniques but really I just, there’re some people who were just naturally funny and everything they say, you could have exactly the same lines and when they say it, it’s funny.
– I’m very interested that you talk about can you learn it? Because obviously, I’m very interested in how you can teach it. I think everybody on their dating profile puts good sense of humour, but that’s not true, is it really?
– And I think you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, essentially. I think that one of the few things that you cannot teach is the timing of where the funny comes. What do you think about that?
– Oh, absolutely. Absolutely right, timing is vital. Yeah, I think it is a natural thing. I certainly wouldn’t claim to be naturally funny. I have my odd moments, but they are few and far between so don’t get your hopes up for this whole thing.
– No, I’ve listened to your show over the years, Clive and I know you are very, very droll and very, very funny but people have a different style which is what makes it interesting. My friend, Jackie Green, who is the queen of PR on Broadway in America has a phrase I like which is, “Be smart, be funny or be quiet.”
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think that’s a vital thing actually, is knowing when not to try to be funny. I mean, I can’t really tell jokes. I never remember jokes. I can’t even remember funny stories. I can spot, I think, when something is funny and as I say, occasionally it happens and that’s great. And you can bring out that moment, but there’s an awful…, I think I’m quite good at filtering out. Personally, I think it’s better to, if you’re not sure it’s going to be funny, don’t do it.
– That’s the smart bit. I mean, I do think listening to you and having got to know you, I do think you’re funny, but the smart bit of it is knowing not to do it. You’ve worked with a lot of business people over the years and the business leader who goes out to make the speech and goes, “I have to start with a gag,” and you know how clawing that is, don’t you? Have you seen those kind of people try it and not succeed?
– Yeah, absolutely. And it’s the trying is the mistake, I think. I haven’t met that many business people to work with. I’ve had lots of bosses and I would say, again, I’m not going to mention any names. All the really good ones are actually naturally funny. They have a humour about them. They’re not necessarily telling jokes, but they do it with a sense of humour and not only around the office but also in formal situations as well. Well, actually I will mention one, Richard Park is one of the most senior radio bosses in the country and he’s actually quite a fearsome personality, he’s got an amazing attention to detail. He’s also just really funny and I don’t know how he does it because he’s actually, he can be like a standup comedian. So we’ll have big company meetings and he will actually, he’s got the confidence to do it. What is terrible is if you do it and it doesn’t work but if you’ve got the confidence, you can carry it off. He actually is somebody who is genuinely funny but manages to combine it with an absolute attention to detail. Whereas there are lots of people who are funny, especially comedians, I think who’re completely hopeless when it comes to business.
– What would the world be like without humour?
– Ooh, terrible, obviously. We’d all be machines really, wouldn’t we? I think we’re in danger of going that way, but yeah, it would be almost unbearable, wouldn’t it? I mean even in the worst situations, you need that little smile and the unpredictable moments.
– Do you think that that’s what, cause you’ve obviously been around politics, reported on politics for years, do you think that that’s the difference that it makes at that level of likability for politicians or business people? Does that humanise somebody?
– Yeah, yes, I think that’s right. I mean politicians are a fascinating example really, aren’t they? Because you’ve got like Theresa May, who was the “Maybot” who I’m sure in real life maybe she has a sense of humour but she just could not get that across and people didn’t like her. She didn’t have that likeability, she didn’t seem to have a sense of humour or a lightness of touch. It was all so formal and serious. Then you’ve got the other extreme, Boris Johnson who is a joker, who plays up to it but actually doesn’t seem to have any attention to detail and he’s in many ways dreadful for the opposite reason. So yeah, it’s really difficult. And politicians, I find, having interviewed many over the years is they could all do with a little bit of a light touch and a little joke here and there but they are terrified because if they get something wrong and it goes pear shaped but they’re all terrified of what they say now, because we pick up on the smallest thing and it backfires.
– You talked earlier on about self-deprecation in humour and I think you’re very good at that. Would that be something that you would recommend to politicians or business people alike or is it dangerous to go to have too much of that?
– I think it’s all right, actually, because, certainly, if you’re the leader, you’re the boss, then a bit of self-deprecation doesn’t do any harm at all. I think that’s better than… I mean a lot of humour is obviously at the expense of other people. And I guess if you’re a leader of a group of people, you don’t really want to have the humour at their expense, because it’s about keeping your team together, isn’t it? So, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of self-deprecation.
– So is that the difference between punching up and punching down?
– Yeah, yeah, or you can punch sideways out of yourself or company whatever, punch yourself a little bit but probably not too much at your colleagues who you’re working with.
– You talk about colleagues, do you think people laugh enough in the workplace or has it become very staid and serious?
– I do think it is really important to do that up to a point. There’s that nice balance, isn’t there? Where I have been in one or two workplaces over the years where it’s all been a bit too jokey and I haven’t actually liked that. It’s like the whole thing, we’re just here for a laugh and that’s not right. I think you’ve got to be serious about the job but do it in a good humoured way. And there’s a very delicate balance there and it’s a really skilled boss. And as I say, I’ve had many of those who just about, they’ve managed to get that right, there’s a nice relaxed atmosphere but you focus on the job at the same time.
– But that’s an art, isn’t it? It’s not really a science, it’s more of the art of… When you look at the people who’ve done it well and you mentioned Richard Park earlier on, what are they doing that’s different and better?
– I guess it’s a productivity thing. That if you get the right atmosphere, then people will want work more. And yeah, as I say, I’ve had many, actually some very, very funny bosses over the years. Some who are just not not cracking jokes all the time, but they do things with a wry smile or twinkle in the eye and I think, especially when you’re working with a lot of younger people as well, a lot of producers and the reporters coming up through the ranks, it needs to be an enjoyable experience. And it’s a very delicate balance. I don’t know what the secret is to it but you can see when it works and you can see when it doesn’t. And if people are just living in fear, then that doesn’t work.
– It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because I think it’s so instinctive but you would think that at the Harvard Business School, you could write a business case for humour. If you had to do that, what kind of things do you think would be in that business case?
– That is really hard, isn’t it? Because it’s not something that you can buy very easily. I mean, it’s not something you can put in a bottle and sell to people. The business case for humour is huge I would have thought, because if you get it right, you can win people over. One person standing on a stage can fill a stadium with this weird thing that is comedy and it’s just them. And they have the skill to make a load of people laugh and it’s incredible. But you can’t really, well, personally, I don’t think there’s exactly a science to it. As you say, you can develop it a little bit, but when it’s good, it’s worth an absolute fortune.
– Here’s something that, because I’m intrigued by this, obviously, ’cause the book and the podcast is all around this, but here’s something that I notice about you which I think would be in the business case right near the top is listening. In order to be good at humour, you have to listen. I mean, listening off the top as well. Not just with the ears, but with the eyes. Is it appropriate? Do people give you the signals to be able to play for want of a better word? So could you talk about… Because your whole career, one faction of it is built on listening, is it not?
– Mm-hm, it absolutely is. And that’s why I said, I’m probably better asking the questions than answering them. And I’m not sure what the answer to that is, I don’t know, but you’re absolutely right, it is. I mean, most of my job is about listening and listening carefully, knowing the moment when it might be funny but mostly it isn’t funny but then knowing the moment when you want to argue. Yeah, yeah, you’ve got to listen closely to what people are saying and pick up on, as you say, the cues of… I think I’ve spoken to so many people on the phone over the years that I can tell pretty quickly. You mentioned Peter Cook earlier on and he, I think really stood out because I can spot a jokey caller, I can spot a fake caller pretty quickly now because I’ve heard so many over the years. You can tell when it’s somebody ringing up as a prank. And I can tell probably within 10 seconds, and normally they fade away and put the phone down or giggle or give it all away and what was different about Peter Cook, of course, was that he phoned up as a fake caller playing characters but was brilliant at it. And what you do when somebody rings and they’re not real, you test them and you ask them questions to see, well, do they really think that and where are they now? And just check out that they’ve got a proper backstory. And he had an answer for everything because he was just a master improviser and almost said, “Bring it on, ask me more, ask me more and I will…” And he fleshed out this whole character which then turned into almost a series. That’s what made me suspicious. I mean, I didn’t know it was Peter Cook to begin with but that’s what made me suspicious that it must be a professional because normally they just giggle and put the phone down.
– Well, no, I mean, but those are classics. And was one of his characters Sven, was it?
– Yes, that was his main character, Sven from Swiss cottage. and Utta his girlfriend who he was having marital problems with, or romantic problems, at least, I don’t know whether they got married in the end.
– But you see, this is why I think that you don’t quite appreciate how good you are with comedy and with humour because you’re being self deprecating about that. But for Peter Cook to recognise that you could, as we call it in comedy, ‘play’, is a huge thing. So you get it. It may not be that you are always delivering the comedy line, but the feed as in the old double act is as important as that.
– Yeah, well, yes. I think that it’s a huge compliment that he called up and that I could be effectively a straight man and allow him to do this. And I think it was from what I’ve since read and met him a few times over the years. I think he was at a stage in his career where he really needed some platform to do it because he wasn’t really doing anything at the time and it was half past three in the morning and he suddenly found an audience.
– He found an audience but he also found a kindred spirit essentially, of somebody he could play with. And I think that in humour is really important to understand how it works. It’s an ebb and flow, it’s a timing, it’s not stepping on his lines
– No, absolutely, absolutely. And a phone-in actually in the middle of the night where you can get away with much more than during the daytime, is the perfect platform for it because it is almost improvisation.
– Anybody who’s listening to this, they should hunt it down. I don’t know where it’s available now but you can tell us if it is-
– Yeah, they are on YouTube, I believe, and not due to me, but there’re Peter Cook fans out there. I think if you Google Sven and Peter Cook, there’s about 10 calls or so that they’re all fairly scratchy in medium ways, because it was all a long time ago, but they’re very entertaining and you can just tell that he was having a bit of a ball.
– One of the things which you will know from all comedians and everything is comedy sometimes crosses the line. Have you ever got into a situation whereby you’ve crossed the line with your comedy?
– No, I don’t think so. I think I’m pretty good at, because it’s almost everything I do is on the air anyway, you develop a built-in filter, so I’m pretty careful. I mean, there are the odd things where it goes wrong, like the poor lady with the sewer socks where you put your foot in it, but mostly, I’m pretty careful. And as I say, a lot of what we do now is much more serious and there’re just little moments of humour that lighten the mood. But no, I personally, I think it’s really important to know when not to do something. I know that there are those that push the boundaries all the time, no, I think I know that Ofcom will be listening and people nowadays, you put one foot wrong, there’s 300 people on Twitter telling you that you’ve done it wrong.
– Wow, well, God, that kind of self-discipline to actually not put a foot wrong, come on, Clive, there must’ve been an early broadcast.
– Oh yes, yeah. I’m sure there are lots of things. I feel I get things wrong every single day and that’s one of the things that keeps me going really is that it’s live and it’s unpredictable. You don’t know what’s going to happen each programme and I never quite get it right and I always am very hard on myself and I always think after a programme, “Oh, should’ve done this, should’ve done that. I’ll do better next time.”
– But that’s really interesting because every businessmen of note, and we’ve got billionaires coming on this podcast, people in comedy, people in entertainment, anybody who does really well tends to have that attitude, very few people go, “Yeah, it’s fine, it’s gone, it was fun.” Everybody’s very harsh on themselves and I think that’s a trait of successful people. Do you find that having met a lot of successful people and worked with them, do you find they’re all thinking in that similar fashion?
– Largely, yes. There are one or two people who they think, “Right, I’ve made it and don’t have to try hard anymore,” but very few, to be honest. I think I personally I’m quite hard on myself but I’m also quite nervous and anxious. I’m an anxious person anyway. Even now, after quite a few years, I don’t know how many, but quite a few years of being on the radio, I still go into the studio thinking, “Oh, it might not work. And what if nobody calls in? This could be the time when nobody calls in.” And I honestly think that every time but I think you need a bit of that too, well, I do. Some people probably just got the confidence but it’s that little bit of anxiety. It keeps you on your toes.
– I couldn’t agree more. Actually, I think when you lose that, I think you lose an edge. You want the, let’s just call it the butterflies. When I worked with rugby great, Welsh rugby great, Scott Quinnell, he would always talk about the butterflies. “You’ll always have butterflies in your stomach but they’ll turn into dragons!” You use that and I think most performers, and by the way, I think performance is you perform in business, you perform in entertainment, you perform in sport, most performers need that to get them to that next level.
– Yes, yeah, sports especially I would have thought. I’m no sports person, but you’ve got to be a little bit on edge and ready to go, aren’t you? The adrenaline’s got to be there.
– Oh, absolutely. Have you ever gotten yourself out of trouble by using humour?
– As I say, my way of not getting into trouble is that, well, the only thing I have got, apart from my mental filter which is “Don’t get sued and don’t get fined by the authorities,” but we do also have a dump button. All live phone-ins pretty much, certainly in commercial radio, you’ve got a button that you can press and it removes five or 10 seconds worth of what you’ve just said. And so it’s not my skill but the skill of knowing when to press the button, if in doubt, I press it anyway and you’ll just hear this, we jump back in time to cut out what somebody said, either trying to be funny or be libellous or whatever. So that’s just heaven sent, the dump button.
– Yeah, well, by the way, for the “Humourology Podcast”, the words dump button are heaven sent as well.
– Yes, yeah, you’ve probably cut out loads of those rude words that I said earlier, haven’t you?
– Yeah, exactly. I can’t believe you said all those things earlier.
– I can only apologise.
– Producer Simon will be pressing the dump button constantly.
– You’ve reminded me of actually the dump button, the time that we had to press it the most was John Cooper Clark, I think it was, the poet and I’m pretty sure it was him. If it’s not, you’ll have to cut this whole bit out but I’m sure it was him and I’ll look it up because it was in the papers. But he came on and I asked him to read one of his poems. Somewhat foolishly, because there were two versions of this poem, one had the F word in it every other word. So the effing this, the effing that, the effing that, and it was quite a magnificent poem, but it was full of expletives. This was not at all allowed under broadcasting rules so we pressed the button but then he kept on reading it out. So you press it again and then you press it again and what the listener heard was just the effing and then a little jump and then another effing and then another effing and eventually, the producer had out to come out and actually ask him to leave the studio. So it doesn’t always save you.
– When dumped buttons go wrong! New on Channel 5!
– But if you leave this bit in about John Cooper Clark, if anyone’s hearing this now, it’ll be because I’ve checked and it was him. If it wasn’t, none of this will be included.
– Oh, that’s right. Well, by the way, I absolutely adore John Cooper Clark.
– Me too, he’s fantastic.
– He is a genius, which hopefully, will stop us both getting sued if it’s not true.
– In business, is it survival of the fittest or survival of the funniest?
– I’ve got to say, I’m sure this is going to be your theme and it’s certainly from what we’ve said, but it’s got to be a bit of both, doesn’t it? You’ve got to have a bit of a sense of humour, I think, but you’ve also got to know what you’re doing at the same time, because I’ve met business people who are hilarious, but terrible at business and people who are really brilliant at business but rub people the wrong way and I think if you can get that mix right… And I do see, as I say, I’ve had lots of bosses who managed to get that mix right. I also see a lot of the younger entrepreneurs who I’ve interviewed over the last few years who are more in the digital business space, they do seem to have quite a more modern chilled attitude. So they manage to combine a real attention to detail, specifics and business sense, but also the relaxed, easy-going attitude at the same time. I think that’s the perfect combination. The wry smile, a little bit of a joke but also you got to know what you’re doing.
– And timing as well, knowing when to do it which comes back to your extraordinary skillset of knowing when to shut up and when to say something. I think that in business, that’s really useful as well, isn’t it
– Can I speak now? Is this the moment? Sorry, I lost it there.
– Yeah, well, thanks for showing me up. That was superb.
– What are we talking about?
– Yeah, now you’re going to show me up as being the worst interviewer in the world. “The worst interviewer interviews the best interviewer in the world”, and all kinds of hilarity ensues.
– Yeah, go on.
– No, but I think that the ability to do that is probably one of the biggest abilities in life is to… And I just wanted you to just slightly expand on that for me of how you do it and any advice you’d give to somebody, whether that’s in radio presenting or whether that’s in business about what you do.
– Well, I think you hit the nail on the head earlier on about actually listening and picking up on the social cues and it’s communication in the end, isn’t it? And there’s a lot of people who, in an interview, we talk about interviewing at the moment, the most important thing as you know with interviewing is to listen to the answers but it’s extraordinary how many people don’t and it works as a conversation because I’m picking up on what you’re saying, you’re picking up on what I’m saying, but if you don’t listen to the answers and then, I mean, in the early days, I’d make that mistake and I’ve just got my five questions on a piece of paper and I don’t realise that question number two has already been answered, the answer’s in number one and then you sound a complete idiot. And I know it sounds basic, but listening is crucial and using what you hear the first time to inform your next question.
– Yeah and I think that’s useful in life and in business. If you’re interviewing somebody for a job, don’t just… I’ve been privy to so many job interviews when they’ve called me in for advice, and people are, like you say, just reading off a list.
– Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– Extraordinary. We’re going into the section we like to call quickfire questions.
– Oh, crikey.
– Who’s the funniest person in business that you’ve met?
– Funny person in business, oh, I don’t know. I haven’t met that many people in business apart from the ones I’ve worked for. So all my amusing bosses.
– Especially Richard Park?
– Well, he’s hilarious, but very, very serious at the same time.
– Okay, what book makes you laugh?
– Let me think. I’ve just read Brian Bilston, do you know Brian Bilston? He’s like the Twitter poet laureate and he comes up with these lovely little Twitter poems and he’s just written a book called “Diary Of a Somebody” and it’s just of the moment. So I’d highly recommend that, very funny, actually made me laugh.
– Great, what film makes you laugh?
– The last time I really laughed out loud, I just re-watched “Alfa Piper”, Alan Partridge. Anybody who works in radio loves Alan Partridge partly because we’re fearful that we’re turning into him and you’ve got to try and resist being accidental Partridge. But yeah, his lampooning of radio is so spot on, it’s brilliant.
– I love it as well. What word makes you laugh?
– It does work, actually. I was thinking dump button’s going to-
– Dump buttons, yeah.
– One word, dump button.
– It used to be a prof, for profanity.
– Oh, did it?
– It changed the label on the button to dump now, which actually dump sounds more comical, doesn’t it?
– It does, certainly. Slightly serious note, what’s not funny?
– Trying to be funny when it’s not. You’re talking about bosses, you don’t want to go down the Ricky Gervais line, which of course he’s making it funny because it’s not funny, and puns, puns never do puns.
– Oh, yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Puns are never funny.
– Don’t do any puns.
– Would you rather be considered clever or funny?
– I’d rather be considered… I’m either of those.
– [Paul] You’ll take anything?
– Yeah, I’ll take whatever’s going, it’s clever, funny, preferably a bit of both.
– Just like to be considered?
– Yeah. Yeah, yeah. If I’m on in the top hundred of either of those, that’d be marvellous.
– Wonderful, desert island gags, if you could only take one joke with you to a desert Island, what would it be?
– Oh, blimey! Somebody reminded me of one yesterday which if I can remember it’s, “What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?”
– I don’t know. What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?
– Carrot. So, that’s the last joke that somebody told me yesterday and beyond that, I literally I must have heard millions of jokes, I can’t remember any of them. A friend of mine, actually, somebody you know reminded me of that joke because they won, weirdly, a pound of sausages by telling that joke because we went into a butcher’s and it said, “Free sausages if you can tell us a joke,” and that’s the one he told and he won sausages as a result.
– That’s it, you see? So you have the funniest word and the funniest joke in one story.
– Yeah, well, true story. Not necessarily funny, but true.
– Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure, Clive. Thank you so much for sharing all your good humour on the “Humourology Podcast”
– Oh, thank you, Paul. Yeah, I really enjoyed it, thank you so much.
– [Paul] The “Humourology Podcast” was hosted by Paul Boross and produced by Simon Banks. Music by Steve Haworth, 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.