Speaker 1 (00:00:00):
But it’s, it’s strange even, even thinking about doing this pod. So I was thinking about when I used to work, I had a serious job in the ambulance service for time before I was a comedian. And why, and started thinking about that, but even then putting this sort of sequence of events together, you suddenly think, hang on a second. I, I’m not as, as sure about that as I, as I, I was yesterday. So to think so it’s, it’s, it’s an interesting one. And of course, the older you get, the more memories you accrue and the more difficult its to put them into a proper order. Although of course, I do remember you and Ainsley Harriet doing your seminal impression of a pint of Guinness on stage, of course, which is a memory I will long cherish and never get out of my mind,
Speaker 2 (00:00:39):
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 podcast.
Speaker 2 (00:01:16):
This is the first episode of a two-parter. My guest on this edition of the Humourology podcast is an award-winning comedian writer and podcast host his highly acclaimed standup comedy has captivated crowds for decades, and he is the only comedian to perform in the tower of London. In addition to his performing work on the stage and screen, he is a very, very successful script writer for shows like They Think It’s All Over, Nevermind the Buzzcocks, Eight out of 10 cats, Have I Got News For You, A League of their own, Strictly Come Dancing, The Graham Norton show, BBC sports personality of the year and Children In Need. Just to name a few. He is a BAFTA nominee and has won the Ttimeout comedy award, a writer’s Guild award and a Sony gold award. When he is not performing standup or crafting comedic scripts, you can find him covering sports on multiple media channels, including BBC two and Radio four. Despite all of these hugely impressive accolades and the thousands of stars that he’s worked with, the one thing that he is always most excited to talk about is his beloved Crystal Palace FC… Kevin Day, Welcome to the Humourology podcast.
Speaker 1 (00:02:44):
Hello Paul, thank you for having me. Congratulations on that lovely run of puns. <laugh> at the top of the show is very good. And also it’s um, it’s it’s radio five. I do sport radio four’s sports output is limited at the moment <laugh>
Speaker 2 (00:02:58):
Oh yeah. Damn, typo already.
Speaker 1 (00:03:02):
That’s right. That’s that’s fine. I just like the idea of radio four, having some sport on it. <laugh> can’t quite imagine how they would cover it. I keep telling radio three, they need more sport on there, but they don’t, they don’t listen Paul.
Speaker 2 (00:03:16):
Well, I mentioned Crystal Palace, which I’ll come back to because I’m very interested in how, from a Humourology perspective, it enhances your wellbeing and your life. But I want to go back to the early days you were brought up in Southwest London, not far from me. And I’ve heard you regale people over the years with fascinating stories about your childhood. Uh, is it true that your earliest memory of is coming home from a football match, singing a humorous, somewhat colourful chant?
Speaker 1 (00:03:48):
Yes, it is. I always say south London, Paul as well, just in case people think I’m from Richmond, which wouldn’t suit, which wouldn’t suit the image. Um, I’m from, uh, the Streatham-Tooting borders, which, uh, never used to have a name, but it’s now called Graveney by estate agencies – used to be up the road when I was a kid. Yeah, it’s funny. Cause I, I writing my book, which I’m sure we’ll talk about that. It it’s memories that I cherished for years were severely challenged by talking to people about them, uh, in order to write the book. And I, I, I found, especially talking about crystal palace, that all my friends entirely disagreed with stories and legends that I thought were, were set in stone. But I do distinctly remember, well, I certainly remember being told I, I, my uncle B ill took me to my first ever football match, which was Wimbledon back in the day when they were a non league team.
Speaker 1 (00:04:38):
Um, and the story is that I came home from the game singing 1, 2, 1, 2, 3 bollocks to the referee and my parents were so offended. They wouldn’t let him take me again, which is it doesn’t have a ring of truth about it. Cuz there’s Barry Cryer once about my mom, she swore like a Docker’s parrot <laugh> She was, she was very much a Irish peasant stock. So she would not have been offended by, I, I suspect it’s more the fact that uncle bill asked my dad for the ticket money that meant I wasn’t taken again. But the other problem with uncle Bill is, and this is true. He was, um, he was on the fringes of organised crime. He used to claim that his brother was the Krays’ third reserve getaway driver. Okay. The other two, if the other two had a cold, his brother would be, but he was also a spiritualist medium.
Speaker 1 (00:05:22):
So he had, he had a habit of, he would suddenly stop. If I was out with him, he was, I got on very well with him, but he would, he would stop or he would disappear. He once disappeared into a betting shop because he’d had a tip for the 2.30 at Kempton from Charles Dickens that came through. So he was, um, he was an intro, but that I know that was my first ever football game that was, was at Wimbledon. Um, I clearly had the time of my life if that’s how I came home singing. So actually
Speaker 2 (00:05:46):
I wanted to come back to your, family was humour actually valued in your family. Was, was it important in, in status or was it culturally important?
Speaker 1 (00:05:57):
That’s a very interesting question, cuz it, there was lots of, I was an only child. Um, but my mom had 10 brothers and sisters, so there was always people around and certainly on the Irish side of the family, my dad’s working class, south London, he, he had a much smaller family and, and uh, he’s one of his brothers and one, his sister would took themselves rather seriously. So laughter wasn’t so much her Deb, but certainly on the Irish side, laughter was something, there was a, the, the better you were telling jokes, the, the more valued your company was. And I, I often wonder thinking back, whether that’s a lesson I subconsciously took on, cuz certainly if you could sing in my mum’s family, then you were always invited to parties, but all my mum’s brothers were, were very funny, but they, it was never jokes that they told.
Speaker 1 (00:06:46):
It was always, I impossibly implausible, shaggy dog stories that grew in the telling, but they’re all masterful. Well, I, I look back on it and even now when I talk to the two that are left, there’s still brilliant story tellers. So yeah, it was, I mean, that’s not a conversation we would’ve had about whether humour was, was valued, but certainly, uh, it, it was an important part of, of their family and, and the better you were at telling stories. And again, you, I suppose you could get serious about this and say, it goes back to a centuries old Irish tradition of, of telling stories around the fire because it wasn’t a literate society. My granddad couldn’t read or write to till his dying day, but it was a very clever man, but certainly at school I learned quite quickly cause I had, I was quite bright.
Speaker 1 (00:07:30):
I was alright at sport and nothing special, but I learned at school that not only being funny was, was quite, was quite good, but also being funny long after everybody else had stopped. So I used to get a grudging amount of respect cause I never knew I never read those signals where everybody else knew that the teacher was now fed up with my jocular impressions. Uh, I didn’t read that. So I was forever getting into trouble cause for, for going too far. But it’s that old clear I never used comedy to, to avoid bullies, but I knew from a quite an early age that if you could tell jokes or be funny, cause I was always, I was always quite quick to make connections. If, you know, if somebody said something, it was always quite quick to pick up and something like that. I had a tendency to be quite sarcastic, which I still, I still have unfortunately. But yeah, it certainly in the Irish side of the family, humour was a very valuable tool because in, you know, they weren’t the family who ever spoke to each other in terms of actual conversations, they either sang to each other or they told each other jokes. There was no emotional depth, no one had a real chat. There might be some tears at a funeral obviously, but they weren’t sort of family to sit down and talk about the world’s problem. So yeah, that’s, that’s a very interesting question. Yes. And the short answer is yes.
Speaker 2 (00:08:42):
One of the things about the whole Humourology project is, is that, that how humour can be that ultimate bonding tool, but it sounds like you, you actually subliminally got that, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t said right, uh, right. Kevin, you have to go out and learn three gags. Otherwise
Speaker 1 (00:09:01):
I think it can only have been subliminally it it’s like, I, I get asked to do these talking head shows quite a lot where yeah, they’ll look back at the seventies or the eighties and they’ll say, you know, what were your thoughts when you watch Stepto son? And it’s like, I have to be honest to say, I didn’t have any. And it’s like, they will show you an episode and you’ll say, yeah, I remember that episode. But I don’t remember at the time thinking this is a seminal piece of, of, of comedy. I don’t remember thinking there’s one particular Steptoe episode, which I adore, which is where, uh, two prisoners escaped from world with scrubs and there’s an old one and a young one and their situation mirrors, uh Steptoe and Son. Then they end up in Steptoe son’s house and there’s not a laugh in it for the last 10 minutes.
Speaker 1 (00:09:41):
Now, now I will talk to you for an hour about how important that was at the time. I probably would’ve been thinking there’s no jokes in this. So I, I, there, there wasn’t a time when I used to sit and watch comedy with my dad and go, oh, I love the way Benny Hill lears at that woman. Or, you know, it’s only with hindsight that I, I realised how important it was. So it would’ve been subliminal. There, there would never have been a time where I sat down and thought to myself, oh, this is a good way of getting in with the family. Or one of my uncles never sat me on his knee and said, this is what you have to do. You have to get yourself some shaggy dog stories. You know, I’m only five, but so, but certainly I, I, I think I must have picked up on how important humour was and how important it was as a way of, of communicating.
Speaker 1 (00:10:20):
And there was always a lot of laughter and my, my mum suffered very badly from depression, but she was always very happy when her family around there were always a lot. And it was interesting as well. Cause it was only the men that were in that were funny. And I don’t know again, whether that was part of the seventies, social thing in, in Ireland or, or in Anglo Irish society, whether they weren’t encouraged to be funny, but it was always the men who held court and the women tended to be the ones who sang basically. But it’s, it was, I do remember the, I remember the joy of laughter, but I never analysed it. I never just, you know, I never thought now which one of my uncles tells of story better, but it was certainly a very important part of family life. Yes.
Speaker 2 (00:11:01):
You brought up your mum and, and uh, I’ve heard you talk about your ideas about depression and the fact that now everybody is saying they’re depressed when in fact what they are is temporarily unhappy. And with my psychology hat on, I, I completely agree, but you are around and your mother suffered sometimes with very debilitating forms of depression. Do, you think that, and you just touched on it that humour, uh, can have a role in, in actually dealing with these kind of things?
Speaker 1 (00:11:33):
I think so. I, I, I don’t know how, cuz I’m not scientifically minded, but my mom’s depression was such that, I mean, she was advised not to have children. She was, she was depressed before she had me. And then, uh, it was exacerbated by that her depression was such, uh, that for six months of every year, she was either in hospital or she’d locked herself in the back room. I remember being taken outta school because she’d had what they called shock treatment at the time. And the hospital wouldn’t release her until there was somebody to look after. And that was me and I was eight, but when she wasn’t depressed, she was the, the best mom ever. She was brilliant. She was a, she was a bundle of energy and fun when she wasn’t depressed, but it was kind of six months on six months off.
Speaker 1 (00:12:19):
But even, even then it was noticeable that she would visibly, even if she was, if she was poorly, if she was ill and her family turned up as they would sometimes in drips or drabs, then she was always energised by that. And she would always have three or four good days after seeing her family because she just, she wasn’t, she was, she was very funny herself, but not in company. She would, she would never, she was too sort of not shy, but she would never sort of, she didn’t really think it’s a woman’s place. Even, even up to the day she died. God love her five years ago. She always thought that women should only be doing comedy, if all the men who wanted to have it go had tried it. Basically she, she was never, she never thought she always, she hated what I did for a living.
Speaker 1 (00:13:04):
She was always terrified for me. But yeah, it was interesting that she, she loved laughter. She loved laughing and, and she loved her family being around it. It might have been that her family was there, but she, you know, her family did seriously do it. But the way you introduced that, I do get quite cross because having witnessed depression at first hand, I, I do get quite upset with people who, and I don’t deny that anxiety, of course, this is a, a terrible world we live in at the moment. There’s there is people, but there are, there are too many people who are too keen to claim depression when they’re not depressed. They, there might be, they might be very sad. They might be very unhappy, but depression is a debilitating disease. The real depression is a shocking, awful debilitating disease. And this headline rush for people to want to claim, to be depressed slightly distresses me.
Speaker 1 (00:13:58):
And also cuz it takes up too much valuable time for the NHS as well when people and I, but I think what needs to happen is that people need to be given the tools to be aware of the fact that they’re anxious. They’re sad, they’re worried, but that’s not depression basically. But at the moment, because we live in this terrible binary world, everyone goes, I’m, I’m either depressed or I’m not depressed and there’s nothing in between. And what we need to talk about are those things in between. So people can recognise where they are on that scale of depression for one of a better word.
Speaker 2 (00:14:28):
Yeah. And, and it it’s labelling. And it’s uh, I mean from a psychological perspective, it’s very, uh, interesting that uh, when you give somebody a label, they tend to cling onto it. And therefore it becomes their reality because they, and, and I do think it’s, it’s dangerous to, to, to label people so much.
Speaker 1 (00:14:50):
I I’ve seen that Paul with a lot of friends of mine with their, with their children when they were so, you know, these are, these are people classic, modern parents, both in jobs where their children weren’t particularly doing well in school or perhaps were unhappy, various reasons. And they were so desperate for them to be diagnosed with something. They wanted there to be a reason why their kid wasn’t particularly happy at school. And it might be that the kid’s not academically minded and doesn’t particularly want to be at school, but all of them, rather than think that the, perhaps the problem lies with them, all of them were desperate for the child to be labelled something and for the child to become. And of course they all love their children dearly, but you know, their life and their career were as important at the time as the children, of course, they said, well, we’re owning money to send him to private school. Well, perhaps he doesn’t want to go to private school. Perhaps she doesn’t want to, to do four languages. Perhaps she wants to play netball for a living, but it’s, and so as soon as there’s a problem, they think, oh God, well they must be, let’s get diagnosed with something cuz then it’s not my problem.
Speaker 2 (00:15:55):
Well, and it’s also that whole thing whereby you know, you have to work under these parameters and the parameters seem to have come in so much. Yes. You got to get 10 GCSEs. You’ve got to do this and of the, and, and there’s some people of, I mean, we obviously mixed with a lot of them for our lives who don’t fit into any of those stereotypes.
Speaker 1 (00:16:17):
Of course I don’t. And it’s I, yeah, this is not a particularly good time to be. Middle-aged Paul, to be honest, is it really? But
Speaker 2 (00:16:24):
Think we’re both young,
Speaker 1 (00:16:25):
But I think it’s, I think this is a dreadful time to be young. Even before the pandemic. There’s so much pressure on young people to look per everywhere. They go. They’ve bombarded by images of perfect looking bodies. They’ve bombarded by images of people who are successful for no apparent reason. They bomb. You know, you have to get the, as you say, you’ve got to be successful. You’ve got to go at university, you’ve got to do this. And it’s all you have to, you’ve got to the, the, the choices have never been greater for young people, but at the same time, the things that the older people want them to do as, as you say, have narrowed down so much. I mean, the idea that one of my friends’ kids might want to be an apprentice would horrify them. Whereas 30 years ago it was a perfectly valued thing to do.
Speaker 1 (00:17:09):
If a kid wasn’t academically minded, but liked cars, you’d go, oh great. Why not doing an apprenticeship? Why not become a builder and decorate, you’ll make a lot more money and you won’t have to pay a student loan back. But no, it’s no, you’ve got to do this. You know, especially middle class families, which are mostly the ones we know you’ve got to go to university, you’ve got to get this degree. And it’s like my, I think my son was very brave cuz he, he decided a very bright, young, talented man. He decided at the age of 17 and a half that he didn’t want to go to university. He, he, he thought he pretty much knew what he wanted to do of his life. He didn’t think, you know, people, uh, his teacher said to him, me, you’ve gotta go to university to make contacts, to get a range of people that you and he said, I already, I already have.
Speaker 1 (00:17:47):
And I, why do I want to saddle myself with 50,000 pounds worth of debt to make, basically make my phone book bigger essentially. And, but at the time it was a decision that I wasn’t particularly happy with. I, I supported him. His mum wasn’t particularly happy with, but you just go, oh fine. And it turns out that he was absolutely right and his, his life has not been is no richer than it would’ve been. Had he gone to, to college. He, you know, he didn’t want, he, he trusted that he would get opportunities in the, in the world of acting and comedy without having to go to university and join a drama club to do so. And that, and now it may be that 10 years down the line when all the people that he would’ve been at university with had then running BBC light entertainment.
Speaker 1 (00:18:31):
He might regret that decision in 10 years time, but I don’t think he will. But it, it, even the fact that we’re talking about it being a brave decision is a strange conversation to have. He was, he was a young man is always known his own mind. He was, he was a professional choir. Boy. He was in a choir called liberal who were well known across the world. He sang with the beach boys sang for the Pope. And at the age of, at the age of 11, he said, I want to leave the choir. And most of my social life at the time was down to the choir. And I said, well, we don’t no stay in the choir. We love the choir. He said, no, you love the choir. He said, but I don’t want to be the boy. Cause he was on the front of the two C the latest two CDs being AIC one.
Speaker 1 (00:19:08):
He said, I don’t want to be the boy that gets taller and ends up at the back of the CD cover with the Sur scowl. And he said, I, I want to go to school and be a normal school. Boy. I don’t want to be the kid that’s in the choir and has to, and, and he said, I’ve been all over the planet, but, but that was a really brave decision to make. And so it’s, it’s again, there’s a decision we simply wanting to do, but you have to allow them to do it. And it seems to me that young people, and I know we’re very way off the subject here, but young people, it seems to me whilst being under this extraordinary pressure are, are discouraged from making their own decisions about their own lives. And I think there’s so it’s so hard being young these days.
Speaker 1 (00:19:44):
It really is. Even, even financially, my son likes to think of himself as a new Leni, Bruce Lenny, Bruce doesn’t wanna be living at home, but he can’t afford. He can’t afford not to be it’s simply cuz even where I live in my part of south London, rents are exorbitantly high and it’s ludicrous. When we were young, we would share a flat if, if we, if you were still living at home at the age of 18, when we were young, there was something wrong. But if you moved out, you shared a flat, you squatted, you did whatever accommodation was so much cheaper. And it’s, I, I really feel for young people. And again, it’s like business people, young people are not really, they don’t learn about business. That’s one of cuz I’m, I’m a, um, a trustee of the crystal palace foundation, which is a role I’m very proud of.
Speaker 1 (00:20:27):
And there are all sorts of things. And social mobility is one of our big, our big things for young people because there are people in CRO who’ve never been to London and there are, there are, we reach out to young people and yeah, we, we try and create studio space. We get ’em in, we’ve got all sorts of community projects going on. But one of the things that we picked up on two years ago was it EV people were saying, yeah, you can, you can, if you play football, you can, you can, you can get out of this situation. If you can box, you can get outta this situation. If you can sing or dance, you can get outta this situation. And we looked around and said, well, what about the 95% of kids who can’t do that? So we looked for role models for them in lo amongst local businesses.
Speaker 1 (00:21:06):
So we got people who were running, even if it was like a bakery or a big corporation. We, we got them in to talk to a lot of the kids in the area just to, to show to them that there are all sorts of ways to improve your social mobility and that because you from Croydon and because you’ve been labelled by the rest of the country as being from CRO and therefore of no real value to society doesn’t mean that you can’t have aspirations and hopes and ideas, and here are the people to prove it, you know? And so it’s it, but it’s, it took us until two years ago to work out that, that, that business was an important way out for people as well
Speaker 2 (00:21:44):
As a hundred percent. But, but, and one of the things and which does funny enough, this does all tie into the whole Humourology project is about likeness of touch, how you behave in certain situations. Uh, I’m I’m on work with a, a couple of social enterprises that do similar things. One have, um, so you want to be in TV. There is no social media, but you’ve worked in TV for forever as, as of I, how much social mobility do you see in TV?
Speaker 1 (00:22:15):
Again, that’s a really interesting question because I, I talk to a lot of people and, and the, the thing about being a trustee of the foundation is that we, yeah, they don’t want to talk to me, right? These are mainly young black and Asian kids. They don’t want granddad talk, turning up. So what we have, or a whole range of young people, we call it the power of the badge is a whole range of young, black and Asian, uh, staff that we have at the foundation is where the crystal palace badge. And that gets them in. You know, we have this brilliant scheme where every Friday and Saturday night at three police stations in CRO, and one of our counsellors goes to the police station to be there for kids that have been arrested for the first time to talk to them about what brought them there.
Speaker 1 (00:22:53):
And two of those kids in the past two years now work for the foundation. So, which I think is remarkable. We do a lot of stuff with, with around gangs and all that. But the social mobility thing is really interesting because most people that we work with and we work with at the moment about 13,000 kids across the borough, I would say probably three or four of them would think that there’s a chance that they could ever work in TV because it’s a work. And, and what’s happened in TV. Is it quite rightly the broadcasting, uh, companies and the production companies have worked out that on screen. We need to reflect the society we live in. So there are a lot more black and Asian people and women presenting TV shows. This is exactly how it should be. But when you go to the studio, you don’t see any black faces.
Speaker 1 (00:23:41):
Yeah. There’s you you’ve see very few black cameramen, very few black producers. And I mean, on the fingers of one hand, very few black directors, still mostly white middle class people. There are companies like Tron, um, which at Osmond’s company who to their enormous credit pay their, their junior style. Cuz there are a lot of production companies who shamefully still don’t pay interns or runners or whatever you want to call them. So what happens is the only kids who get those jobs are the, the kids whose parents can afford for them to do it or know somebody in the production companies. So there are companies that are starting to realise that society needs to be reflected behind the screen, but know social mobility is still the fact that it’s 20, 22 and we’re still having to work at it is, is shocking. But it still, it still exists. And, and people still talk to me. I haven’t got, I’ve never really had a chip on my shoulder, but there is still a class, an issue with class in this country. There’s there’s no, there’s no doubt about it. And
Speaker 2 (00:24:41):
Well, but it’s maintained for a, a, a reason is so that the <laugh>, the people at the top can, can get all the jobs for their own children,
Speaker 1 (00:24:50):
But saying, but the thing, but the Paul, but that, that, that damages out the rest of society, cuz you all know yourself, the amount of talent and energy that we have in our area is going untapped. And these, and, and these are kids that will end up with their own mental health problems because they they’re kids who feel that there’s no way for them to go, but these are kids with ideas, with energy, with enthusiasm. And we we’re missing out on that as, and you all know that yourself and that’s, that’s got to change as well.
Speaker 2 (00:25:16):
Oh, but here’s how I think it can change. And the only way it can change because everybody’s doing a so towards, you know, we, we want more people of this ethnicity or uh, this, if they rather than actually going out into the community and giving the skill they need so that they will be comfortable when they enter into those places. Yeah. And that’s the key for me is it’s all very well. We’re gonna take one of these, one of these, one of these we’re gonna put them in situ well actually if they haven’t got the skill sets, which includes, uh, communication skills whereby you feel comfortable in there, it’s never going to work. The marriage is never going to happen. And I’m, I’m very passionate about the fact that you can’t just do it. You have to do it from the baseline level. I, I mean, I I’m, and you know, I’m very happy to come and, uh, talk to your people if, if it helps. Yeah, absolutely. About here’s some communication skills that work on every level and, and that’s what you have to be able to do. And humour is part of that, by the way, if you can make the managing director laugh wherever you are from it evens out everything.
Speaker 1 (00:26:31):
I couldn’t agree more. There were two things off the back end. My, my dad, God rest his soul. Who, who I lost recently, who I was very, very close to. Uh, he taught me to read at the age of four because he thought he said it might come in handy. And as it happened, reading has always been my passion. My headmaster at primary school loved me. Cause at the age of seven, I, a reading age of 14 used to drive my mum up the wall because she wanted to be climbing trees and having fights, not reading books during summer holidays, but reading’s always been really important. And my dad always said to me, never lose your accent, but you, you need to speak the same language as the people that are giving you jobs when you grow up. You know? So, and that, that was a really important lesson.
Speaker 1 (00:27:09):
But that thing with human and bosses, I’m in a really happy situation. Cause I’ve been doing my job for long enough as a writer that I can take the piss out the producers, right. They know me and I can take the pits out of them. And I always try and do it in front of the, the, the junior staff because they never get the chance to do that. So I will always, you know, if there’s a crowded office, that’s when I will, uh, take the opportunity to, to jokingly say to the producers, the money you pay, these people is it’ing, you should be ashamed of yourself going back to your 12 bedroom house with your car made of gold because <laugh> it. But also it’s just nice it’s attention release because it, it, because it, it’s great to hear the junior staff laughing and I’ve always I’ve I’ve I think you’re absolutely right, but that idea it’s also a risky one.
Speaker 1 (00:27:57):
I mean, if you are, if you are just making your way in the industry, in any industry, the, the idea that you’re gonna try and make your boss laugh is a kind of 50 50 situation as if it works fine. If it doesn’t, you’re probably, you’re probably in trouble and it’s, and that’s a, there’s also that fine line between making somebody laugh, I’ve found and taking the piss out of them. And I I’ve always found that you have to it as a friend of mine, uh, God love him. Dave Ricketts. He’s got the most preposterous west country. He’s from Gloucester. If he was in the sitcom, playing a character in Gloucester, you’d say, mate, do the accent down a little bit. Which is, is he’. Nobody talks about that. He’s also obsessed with badges. He, he, once he’s the most peaceful man you’ve ever met in your life, but he turned a table over in a pub once, cuz me and a friend were blaming badges for bovine TV.
Speaker 1 (00:28:44):
And he, you don’t, you people, you don’t know anything about badges. You bloody, you townies you. Oh, terrible. Oh, did it. But I, I was, I once said to him, I only really take the piss out of people. I like, and he went, well, you must bloody loved me then. Cause you take the piss out at me all the time. It’s almost cause, but it’s but it’s, it is that fine line of getting, it’s an odd thing where you get to know someone. And again, I’ve always thought it’s a very self London thing, but I think it’s a very working class thing is that people, if people come to the pub drinking before palace games, where we go as Allie, my wife says, who, you know, basically we go and she says to sit at the same table in the same corner, talking the same bollocks to the same people that you have done for 25 years, which is part of the process.
Speaker 1 (00:29:31):
But if a, if, if somebody, if a friend of a friend comes along for the first time, they, they must sometimes think these people don’t like each other at all. Cause all they’re doing is, is taking a bit out, but that’s a reflection of how much we love each other and how much that we’ve known each other for so long that we have all these shared experiences. We have all these shared buzzwords and yet rather than show affection in front individually, if I’ve we’ve one of them we will hug and we will be, we will talk about things in life. But as a group, we show our affection community as a community by, by literally taking a piss out of each other and reminding each other of terrible failures of the past, which never fails to make us laugh, which again is, is something that a psychologist would be looking at. But that the, the power of an laughter is, is I’m fascinated by it. But I’m also fascinated by the fact that it only needs to go wrong by one degree. And somebody’s going home really unhappy. They might laugh around the table, but we, we instinctively know the things that you can’t tease people about that you,
Speaker 2 (00:30:35):
But that’s about that’s, uh, that’s really about actually understanding that first of all, you have to gain rapport with people in order to do that. So that is the huge communication that comes from confidence. You know, why, why is everybody in this current shower of a parliament, um, gone to public school and everything. Cause they’re taught this confident air and, and everything. And then they’re taught communication models, which are, you know, we learnt these in different ways, but you have to start. I always say, you start by listening, but you listen with the eyes and you are looking at people and going, has this pissed you off now? You know, I’m teasing when I say this, you know, we are playing a little game, but it’s a very important part. I agree. You can’t just go in and do it, which is why you need, why, why? I think education is so important in the broader scale, not about getting exams and everything. How do people communicate? When, when have you ever heard of anybody, uh, at school getting lessons in, in communication?
Speaker 1 (00:31:49):
That’s really interesting that that concept of listening with the eyes is a, is a fascinating one as well. I suppose it’s sort of, you’d call it, reading the room, but that, yeah, that’s, that’s a really, cause I, I suppose the, the, a teacher would say that, well of course everything is about communication because we’re, we’re talking all the time, but you’re right in terms of actually teaching people to communicate and what, what I find interesting about being, and again, coming back to my group of friends is like, there’s a couple of them with failed marriages that we know we could take the piss out of them because they’re happily married. Now there’s a couple with failed marriages. There’s a few without with unveiled marriages, I have to say, but we, we wouldn’t take the piss out of them because we know that it was serious and upsetting, but what’s interesting as well about that group communication is when you’re in a room, a dressing room, for example, or if you are in, I was in a writing room recently with a large group of comedians after about five minutes when everyone’s sort of established themselves, they tend not to be funny, hilarious, because comics, when they’re in each other’s company, the pressure is off to be funny.
Speaker 1 (00:32:50):
We all respect the fact that we’re funny, as soon as a muggle comes in that the civilian, the non-com commit as soon as they come in immediately, if there’s eight comics in a room who have been chatting quite amiably about history or politics or, or family without the need to make people laugh. As soon as a non comedian comes in, all eight of those people will start to want to make those, that person laugh. And it, it takes a bit of confidence to not want to do that. I’m not that sociable. Oddly, Ally’s very sociable. She loves having people around. So my dad’s was exactly the same as me with his, my age. If people, if my mom had people around around about nine o’clock, he would turn the fish tank lights off. That was his first cube that they should probably be going. Then he would start winding the alarm clock.
Speaker 1 (00:33:33):
And then eventually if he was fed up, he would just turn the lights off and leave them in the dark. And then, but what I can do if I come home to a house full of people with luck, I’m very good because I can, I can actually take the MIS the piss out of them, but they don’t, Allie knows what I’m doing, but they don’t. And they, they think, oh, he’s just being funny when he says, oh, for the love of God, what are you doing in my house? They laugh. Cause they think I’m and I am being funny, but it’s it’s so may once said to me, I love having you as a guest, but you are, you are obsessed. He called it the tyranny of the punchline. He said, you’re obsessed with having the last word and every subject we talk about, no matter how serious you are always looking for a funny angle out of it, and I can see your mind working.
Speaker 1 (00:34:18):
And the thing is that you’ll say it out loud, we’re live on radio and you’ll say it. And the fact is you are interesting enough without having to make people laugh. You’ve proved yourself as a human. And that was a really good lesson for me. And it, it was kind of brave of Simon to say that to me really, cuz he just said, look, it’s great. You’re funny. We believe you are funny. We know you are funny. You don’t have to keep proving it. And I actually found myself enjoying being a guest on his show so much more after that. It’s like, I’m doing talk sport this afternoon. I love live radio. It’s one of my favourite. My favourite mediums. I love podcasts. I think podcasts are the most democratic thing that’s happened to broadcasting in years. I think podcast and are brilliant. And I, if, if somebody young and new asked me to do a podcast, I will always do it is I think it’s important to encourage people.
Speaker 1 (00:35:03):
And again, that comes back to teaching communica, doing podcasts is a way for young people to communicate that they never had before. And it’s, it’s amazing to prepare a podcast, but I, I enjoy doing things like live radio so much more now, cause that I have the confidence to let an obvious punchline go by. I have the confidence to let somebody else be funny. I have the confidence to let somebody else speak for a minute or so, knowing that when I do get my chance to speak, I’ll be good at it. But it took, it took me a long time to learn that lesson. And if Simon Mayo hadn’t told me that I would probably would’ve spent the first 30 minutes of this podcast trying to make you laugh, which you know, if I was it’s failed dismally so far <laugh> but, but, but that’s, that’s what I would’ve been trying to do. And it, it gets, I, I sometimes find it waring when you’re in the company of people who just can only communicate through jokes through laughter and, and have no other communication skills when, when it’s time to talk seriously, they’re sort of lost,
Speaker 2 (00:36:01):
But isn’t the essence of great comedy comes out of truth as that’s always. And, and also does the truth go down easier with a joke attached to it. So there’s both sides of that, that it, it comes down to actually understanding that the truth is powerful.
Speaker 1 (00:36:21):
It, it is. I mean, I think if you were to watch Tim vine, for example, he’s a comic admirer greatly, cuz I can’t write one liners, but I dunno whether you’d say there’s a much truth in that comedy. I, I think in, in, in everyday life, in terms of business, in terms of when you’re talking to producers or people, I think humour helps because for example, if a producer says, we can only offer you this much money because the budget’s low. If I wasn’t a comedian, I’d go, oh fine. Okay, well I’ll take it. But as a comedian, I can go, well you would say that, of course you would say that we know that’s not true, but I can say it in a funny way. Yeah. You sort, I mean, so it is a very useful, a useful tool. I, I think the idea of comedy speaking truth to people is a very interesting one, especially as a comedian obviously, but it’s got to be funny. I, people used to hate a lot of comics. A lot of alternative comics used to dismiss John LUS. Remember John LUS in Claplan, which had this, the reputation
Speaker 2 (00:37:18):
Speaker 1 (00:37:18):
Of times course had the reputation of being the up paradise and they hated it. Go they’re all up. They, I loved it cuz I always found, you could talk about anything. You could take the Mickey out of our posture. You could talk about any subject, no matter how serious, but you had to make it funny because it says comedy on the door. And as a comedian, if you don’t make it funny, then you’re not a comedian. You’re just a lecturer. And it’s important to be funny. And I’ve found and, and I’m talking about really serious subjects, abortion politics, all sorts of stuff. As long as you are funny, you can say, you can say almost anything. There are things I wouldn’t talk about on stage, but as long as you are funny, audiences will, will understand that. And also the other thing is, well that I always, and I think this comes from the fact I did go to university, but I was chucked out after six weeks.
Speaker 1 (00:38:05):
So I, I, I, I worked in the real world. So I understand that come Friday, Saturday people in the real world look forward to dressing up, going to a comedy club. And I don’t think we should be taking the piss out of those people. I, I couldn’t stand comics compares, especially it would literally go along the front row, taking the piss of how they looked at that, how they looked, what clothes they were wearing, how old they were. And it’s, it’s just like, no, our job is to make them laugh. It’s not to use them as the butt of laughter for everybody else. And, and as a comic, that’s what we should be doing. It’s, it’s a, it’s a job and it’s a job I take really seriously. It’s a job I love, but it’s our job to make people laugh and we should be the targets of our comedy should be people above us.
Speaker 1 (00:38:51):
You know, this whole cliche about punching up. Thanks for that. And we, and that’s what we should be doing. We shouldn’t be taking the piss out of people that have probably had a hard week at, at university or at work or, or are unemployed and who have come out for some light relief. But that, that light relief can be anything. You can talk about anything again, but you, it has to be funny. And again, I think that’s where in business, it’s, it’s always difficult. I think for people to work out where humour can be used, I mean, it’s different in, in, if you’re a trainer for example, then you can sort of plan where am like, where am I gonna use comedy in this training module? Is it appropriate? Other people I’m talking to when I was working at the ambulance service, uh, I started off as a clerical officer cause the NHS in those days, oddly, you started as an officer and you ended up as an assistant.
Speaker 1 (00:39:40):
So I started as a clerical officer, but I ended up as a principal ministry of assistant after seven years. So I was quite high up in the pecking order and, and we were, uh, industrial relations and recruitment. So we would do industrial relations modules for senior uniformed offices. Most of whom were in their fifties and sixties, most of whom were ex army. And it didn’t take me long to realise that humour was the least appropriate thing for those people. The last thing they wanted was this little bloke. He looked like he stepped off the stage with a new order being in a training room with them, trying to make them laugh about the new employment law, the new employment act or the new health and safety act. It didn’t well. And to the extent that eventually I tweaked and I used to make them laugh at the start by basically going, you don’t want to be here.
Speaker 1 (00:40:31):
I know that you you’ve, you are all stuck in your ways. You all think, you know, best let’s acknowledge that. Uh, let’s come out of here in, in an hour with a smile on our faces. So everybody else thinks, oh, that went well. So that, so acknowledging that really worked acknowledging the fact that that was a situation in which humour wasn’t appropriate actually actually became humorous in this Australian short way. Whereas with, with new recruits or new offices, humour was really appropriate then. So for example, with, with new offices, we had dislike officer induction training stuff that we would do. And we would say to ’em, I would say to them, look, these are some of the real time issues you’re gonna face as a new officer. You’ve been on the ambulances for quite some time, you’re stepping up into a new role. You are gonna be, you are now the enemy for some of the people who you were with your friends, you are now dealing with these other officer.
Speaker 1 (00:41:21):
And we were do impressions of the other offices that they were gonna deal with, which always went down really well. So it’s question about, so it comes back to you listening with your eyes about reading the room, but there are, there are some people probably even now who say, well, there’s no room for humour in, in communication, in training modules. But the other thing you would learn as well is that every, every job has its own different type of humour. It’s like my, one of my closest friends is still a paramedic. I got in the job back in the day, basically. But you learn from working in the ambulance service and being amongst ambulance crew and firemen, oh that they have the blackest bleakest sense of humour, but they have to cuz they’re not gonna get through the, they’re not gonna get through the day unless they can distance themselves from what they’ve seen and what they’ve done.
Speaker 1 (00:42:06):
They’re never gonna sleep at night without the aid of alcohol. So they, they find a way and their mechanism is, is humour cuz cuz they have to sort of dehumanise the people they’ve dealt with. And it, and that sounds horrible, but it’s partly why they’re so good at their job. If, if they start to get wrapped up with the people there, you know, if they start to think, I wonder what happened to that old lady that I took in this afternoon, again, that they, they won’t be able to function. So they use humour amongst themselves only amongst themselves. You they’ll never do it in front of family or friends or, or, or people that are crying, but amongst themselves it’s black, it’s bleak, but you it’s fully understandable, but you would never share that outside. And it’s and every group, every, uh, people who work milkman I’m sure had their own jokes, their own cliches, their own buzzwords postman, probably the same thing, nurses it’s, it’s, it’s really interesting. It’s really interesting how you have to contain that humour and make sure it doesn’t cross over. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (00:43:07):
Well, is it appropriate in certain PLA I mean I spent two and a half years training docs at guys Kings and St Thomas’s and, and, and actually the, the, the surgeons, you know, some of the blackest humour you’ve, you’ve you’ve ever seen because, but that’s life and death we had, um, on the pod, we had John Sweeney who has been in 60, actually 61 now, cuz he’s um, just coming back, uh, from Keve um, war zones and, and, and he says, in order to survive, you need that you have to have a release valve because I mean, humour is that release valve on that level, London, ambulance service, uh, you know, they’re seeing horrendous things
Speaker 1 (00:43:53):
Of course, but what, that, that’s really interesting what you say about the surgeons, because one of the very many reasons why I love the NHS, um, and the last but one Edin show I did was about the NHS and my wife. Because when my wife, she was very ill, um, a few years ago, as you know, properly, very ill, not sure how this is gonna play out ill. Um, but her medical team, her doctors, her surgeons, her nurses understood that my way of coping with that was humour. They didn’t always laugh, but they understood what I was trying to do that. And part of the reason I did that show was to explore why an articulate intelligent man, like me still couldn’t talk about it properly that I had to make that my release at the time. So it used to drive valley up the wall because where she saw medical team, I saw audience.
Speaker 1 (00:44:45):
So we’d be in these really serious meetings and they, the nurse would out out of context, this doesn’t sound remotely funny, but one of the nurses said that this treatment that she’s having, we’re putting her on straight away, she will, ally will probably lose her hair. And I, I went, oh, well, well everywhere, like fingers crossed. And, and to her enormous credit, she said, yes, it won’t grow back. If she moves to Hampton and then brilliantly, brilliantly, the nurse then said to me, and, and by the, this treatment is hormone’s gonna be all over the place. You won’t be able to have sex for two years. And I went really? She went, no, but Allie said to ask to tell you that, right? So she knew she knew, but she, but these people knew they made allowances for the fact that my, my fear, my terror was, was masked by comedy.
Speaker 1 (00:45:33):
They understood that they didn’t think I was, they didn’t think for a moment I was being flippant or I didn’t care. They just, there was one afternoon. It was a Saturday afternoon palace were involved in a reation struggle. And it, it just so was, was in hospital valley. And it, it just so happened that the doctor had said to Ali, you can go home for a week. Uh, so, and literally, as the doctor told her that I had the radio on palace scored a goal in the last second of injury time. And I started running around the ward go yes, B and the doctor went, I haven’t even told him you are coming out yet. And she said, that’s nothing to do with me. He’s listening to football. So, but it’s, but they understood that. That was like, and then when, cuz the doctor said, I really thought you were happy.
Speaker 1 (00:46:15):
I said, I, and when he said all’s coming home, I said, that’s, that’s brilliant news. I can watch match the day tonight. Fantastic. But they understood. They understood that it wasn’t, it wasn’t flippancy. It wasn’t cruelty more importantly, ally understood that the eyebrows would raise every now and again and, and thank God and the NXS Allie’s world and, and happy again. But even now there are times when we’re in company that ally ally will give me the odd dig and say, you know, no, don’t that she knows that I’m about to say something about someone she’ll just go, no, don’t do it. Which is great. Cause even now I still need reminding that there are times when it’s not appropriate, but the it, what I thought was wonderful. One reason I did that show was to explore how humour is important. Even in the darkest of circumstance.
Speaker 1 (00:46:57):
We all know my, my dad’s funeral in, in November was I’ve I haven’t laughed so much in years. And there was, there was 200 people there. They all, it started at 11 in the morning. The last one left my house at two in, in the following morning. And it, it was brilliant. Dad went into the music from, uh, as, um, the good, the bad and ugly. The, the, the, it was the priest. Cause my dad was deaf. The priest had a megaphone to, to so he could hear it. And it so, but it was, it was, and there were one or two people who thought that was inappropriate, that my dad had this thing for the Virgin Mary. He would, he was a late convert to Catholicism. And his, his view was I might as well not go to a Catholic church as not go to an Anglican one, but he, he, he actually got quite into it.
Speaker 1 (00:47:43):
The old we got and he loved the Virgin Mary. And when he moved in with us much to Ali, Sharan he gaffer taped a picture of the Virgin Mary in his room, which is the gaffer tape bit that all didn’t like not the Virgin Mary bit, but the, the priest father, Frank and father Frank is the son of Jimmy cricket. Remember the comedian. So father Frank understands humour. So father Frank did this. He hilarious, or in which he ended up ripping off his CA to reveal an old palace shirt with the word Virgin on it, who he used to be sponsored by with a picture with the Virgin Mary gaffe underneath it, which was, which was just absolutely fantastic. And it set the tone for the rest of the day, but there were one or two people, one of my aunt for example said that was shocking shit.
Speaker 1 (00:48:27):
And I just went, no, it wasn’t. It’s exactly what dad would’ve wanted. It made everybody laugh. And we’ve, we’ve all known that experience of laughing at funerals. And it’s incredibly cathartic. And that day, obviously the, it was followed by many days of sadness. I’m still dealing with it now, but the actual day itself, but it was really risky for father Frank to do that. He didn’t, he, you know, he checked with us beforehand that it was alright to be Lightheart. So we went, as I said afterwards, it’s a long way from Lightheart to having the picture gaff tapes underneath your CA, which he like, which he revealed like a stripper ground, but it was brilliant and it was perfect. And it was exactly, exactly in context. But if you tell people that it sound even now telling you, it sounds odd, it sound, and there all be people going.
Speaker 1 (00:49:10):
That sounds a really weird funeral. But then as soon as we got back to the pub where the funeral was heard, that’s all people were talking about people going, oh, that’s fantastic. That’s really funny. And then that gets conversations again. And of course everyone starts sharing stories, edited, and impromptu speech sharing stories. You tell, you tell those stories that most of the people in the room have heard before anyway, about dad’s ex exploits, but you still laugh at them. And, and yeah, it’s, it’s really odd. The idea that you laugh at a funeral is a strange written down. That’s a strange pitch, isn’t it? That people
Speaker 2 (00:49:43):
Are well, it is, but, but actually psychologically it does make perfect sense because I mean, I think that humour is the ultimate state change tool. So when people are, are really in the depth of something, if you could actually make them laugh, it changes the whole brain chemistry of what’s going on. And so you can actually look at something in a different way, because what is humour? It’s, it’s looking at it in a different way. So if you can, well, well, that’s why I would say, and I wonder if you would agree that who humour is a superpower in that sense, because it changes everything on a fundamental level.
Speaker 1 (00:50:23):
I, I do agree, but again, it comes back to a conversation we had as long as it’s used correctly, as long as it’s, as long as people who are funny are responsible with it, because it’s also, while I, whilst I agree with everything you say, it’s also very easy to use humour for cruelty course, to use humour, to undermine, to use humour, to tease and to bully, but this idea of parameters, you know, cuz it’s, I think it’s wonderful that the president of Ukraine is a comedian, but I often wonder whether he’s told when he is doing these powerful moving speeches from a bunker somewhere, whether his age is saying don’t end with a knock, knock joke. It’s not a perfect weather. Cause I work cuz he clearly knowing comedians as we do. We know that he will see the humour in the situation that’s going on.
Speaker 1 (00:51:12):
We know that every muscle in his body is aching to take the piss out of Putin. He’s he, he’s probably desperate. Every time he’s on tele or talking to the United nations, he probably wants to do an impression of Putin, but it, it wouldn’t, it really wouldn’t be appropriate except it might except it might be the thing I, I thought was one the Euro and song concerts, which I watched from start to finish for the first time in my life ever, I thought was a wonderful exci actually exciting occasion. And the music was fantastic. But also the fact that I heard the following morning, they, they interviewed the Ukrainian version of Graham Norton from a book cause the TV studio has been destroyed. He commented on the, the Eurovision contest to those people that still have electricity in TVs. And he said that winning the Eurovision contest, he said, the people of you said, when your friends are unhappy, you give them a hug.
Speaker 1 (00:52:00):
And he said, what happened last night was that Europe gave us a hug. And he said that and the whole of Ukraine feels, feels that. And in the same way, that equates to humour, cuz the people of Russia Putin will be furious at that art, that concept, that furious at the concept that there’s love. And if, and that’s what humour can do, humour can in, in most circumstances, humour can, when it’s inclusive, when it’s used for the right reasons, humour is, as you say, a superpower, it really is. And there are times as well when you practise humour, there are times not always on stage, but, and you’ll know this yourself from, from performing, you know, that feeling initially that feeling 15 cents I still get stage for. But that feeling first of all, 15 seconds in, when you think this is gonna be, this is a good, this is gonna be fine.
Speaker 1 (00:52:46):
This is great. Let’s enjoy this. Let’s relax. But also that feeling when you’ve got a minute to go and you know that the last thing you are gonna say ties up everything and it’s clever and it’s funny, you know, the response you’re gonna get and you just enjoy it so much. You almost enjoy that anticipation more than the actual release. Then of course, the problem is that 10 minutes later, you’re still, you’re still buzzing. You’re still high. You still wanna talk about it. It drives ally out the wall. Cause ed and I have got a gig at the same time. We both come home testosterone, few monsters, kicking the door in racing to tell her first how good our gigs were. But that, that feeling of, of being able to share laughter it is an amazing thing. And I’m aware that it’s a powerful thing to be able to do and I love doing it, but I’m also very aware that I mentioned the fact I can be sarcastic earlier.
Speaker 1 (00:53:35):
I, I still I’m very aware that there are probably people in the past that I’ve, that I’ve hurt or, or upset or without meaning to do so. But so I have to think very carefully about the next thing I say is that so I’ve become very good. It’s taken me a long time, but I’m very good at judging when and where and how far you can go. And I, I think that’s easy for me to do in a comedy context or in a social context because I’m a personal comedian when you’ve come to try and doing it in a business context, that’s why I’m fascinated by your podcast. Cause that’s where I find it really. How do you judge when it’s appropriate? As when I was ended up as a, as a boss, um, I had my own little, I was very proud. I had my own little office and there’s a, there’s a big office off my own little office.
Speaker 1 (00:54:18):
And as I had eight staff directly underneath me, I used to love the sound of laugh. I used to love it if I could hear them laughing. Right. Cause I trusted. They were a really good team of people. I used to love hearing and laugh, but I had to sit. I had to really forcibly restrain myself going out and joining in. Right. Cause by that time I’d started being a comedian. So the two were overlapping. I thought I was hilarious, but I used to have to go. No, it’s it’s it would ruin it for them. If I start going out, you know, Simon, Brent, I say what we laughing at guys and then join in. So you have to let them get on with it, securing the knowledge that they will get on with it. Once they’ve stopped laughing about whatever they’re they’re laughing about.
Speaker 1 (00:54:57):
And it could have been that they were laughing about me, but it’s that couldn’t be a better indicator. I think of, uh, a healthy company that there are people laughing in it and the boss is not there. So they’re not, they’re not laughing because you’ve said something witty or you’ve met up and they’re laughing because they’re, happyish in the process. Yeah. And, and again, for a lot of people doing jobs, you know, monotonous, not just jobs like the fire service or ambulance service or police, but monotonous jobs, jobs would just completely repetitious jobs for them. Humour again is another is another great release. And I, I always think this idea that there should be a silent workforce is, is a ludicrous one. People should be allowed to chat and communicate and, and talk. If you’re, if you are on the phone all day trying to sell insurance to people, you should be encouraged to every third phone call. You should be encouraged to have five minutes off just to, to stretch your legs, but also to talk to other people in the room because I’ve, you know that cuz otherwise people are just internalising it at work and you don’t want that from anybody.
Speaker 2 (00:55:59):
Well, isn’t, isn’t great leadership about, uh, creating a culture where whereby appropriate laughter and appropriate fund can flourish.
Speaker 1 (00:56:09):
It’s not, again, it’s not only about creating that culture. It’s about having the, the common sense and the confidence to, to let it flourish on its own, to it’s about walking away from it in the same way that I could always go. If I had to go offsite to a, to a divisional headquarters or whatever, I went offsite securing the knowledge that when I got back, anything that needed to be done, would’ve been done. Uh, and I was always quite happy if, if the work was done, if come about half past four, I would say to people, go off, go. So I find it. There are still so many production companies. There’s still so many TV companies who have this macho thing that you’ve got to be the last one out, right? As a writer, I will always make a, a I’ll. And again, I’ll make it funny that come around six o’clock.
Speaker 1 (00:56:57):
I will make a, a point of getting up in a funny fashion, packing my stuff and saying, I’m off. Now my, my contractual hours are done this and, and I’ve spoken to quite a few producers and said to them, you are going about this the wrong way, because it’s fine for you to say, right. You know, we gotta be here for 10 o’clock. You got there’s a car waiting for you outside the office to take you home. You, these people have got to get public transport. They’ve got to get home by the time they get home, they’ve gotta go straight to bed to come in the morning. Cause you’ve gotta be first in, in the morning. They’re not, it’s not productive. It’s not productive.
Speaker 2 (00:57:29):
It’s not for creativity.
Speaker 1 (00:57:30):
It’s not for, but for any job, it’s not
Speaker 2 (00:57:32):
Productive any job. No, but, but I think any job is creative. You see, I think the idea that, that, you know, if you work in media, you are creative. And if you work in a factory, you are not because by the way, the best factories are getting people to put in ideas about how they could streamline. That’s a creative process as far as I’m concerned.
Speaker 1 (00:57:54):
Do you know? My, my, the other thing my dad was, my dad was full of good advice. He’s a very wise man in his working class, south London way, very wise, man. But when I joined the Alet service, I I’d been thrown out of university. I was the first one in my extended family to go to university. And the first one thrown out and my mom, my mom always throwout my life offered me unconditional support, but she was very unhappy at me getting thrown out. I went to Redding university to study archaeology. First day there, I met this mature student, fell madly in love, went to one lecture, didn’t get a travel. So I was really crossed cause I thought we’d be Digg stuff straight away. And then so basically at the end of the first term, they said, look, you’re not, you’ve not just not been here.
Speaker 1 (00:58:34):
And I said, well, I’m in love, man. It’s like, so they, they asked me to leave the university. My mum was devastated. So then I, I worked in the building site for a while. I had this session of minor jobs and I got this job as a clerical office at the ambulance service. And I was pretty low about this as well. And mum was like, this is what you’ve thrown away. This promising career. You’re a clerical. My dad just went, is it the lowest, the lowest grade? I said, yeah, it’s the lowest grade you can possibly get it’s clerical. And he said, be the best clerical. Obviously you can just go into work in the morning with a smile on your face, do that job to the best of your ability. If there’s other stuff you can do say, is there anything else I could do?
Speaker 1 (00:59:11):
And that was, it was such good advice because that’s what I did. And I me, I immediately started to enjoy it. I felt part of the team. I felt that I was, and I think that’s part of the reason why I started to progress up the ranks, but that was fantastic advice. Cuz without that advice from dad, I would’ve been just a surly youngster doing just what he had to do to get along and probably would’ve ended up leaving that job as well and, and gone into something else. But it was really, it’s really good advice. And
Speaker 2 (00:59:41):
Well, I think from a cology, uh, perspective, and, and what we’re talking about is giving people, business advice as well, about how to, I think that is perfect because I mean, I, I sent my, the son in, when he did work experience first before going to drama school and, and he now works every weekend and everything it is that same advice go around, be nice to everybody. Yeah, absolutely say, is there anything I can do? And that the Humourology project is about being nice to people being actually, uh, having some humility, having some humanity, having some humour in the general sense. And that’s the people you want around you.
Speaker 1 (01:00:22):
One of, again, one of the best bits advice I got when I first started I’ve I still call myself a standup comedian, even though I, most of my comedy workers writing. But the first show I worked on properly was a disastrous chaotic mess of a show called Saturday zoo hosted by Jonathan Ross, which was live on channel four. And in fact it was live. We had huge guests on, we had poor, proper, huge guests, but I remember being in the writing room for the first time and it just ended up just me and Jonathan. It was the first writing room experience I’d had. And I’d known Jonathan for a while anyway, but I also, Jonathan, this is, you know, this is all new to me, this world, have you got any advice? And he said, yeah, always say thank you to the person who brings you UT and it, and it’s, it is a brilliant piece of advice cuz he said for two reasons, he said a it’s the right thing to do B the person bringing your OT in five years time could well be a producer.
Speaker 1 (01:01:13):
So it’s the right thing to do in terms of your career. But it’s also, and that’s the right. That’s what I always say to people say please, and thank you. It makes, it makes such a difference. I went to see, uh, a show last night in the festival hall at my wife working with fascinating, I either to brilliant show, but uh, as I’m taking my segment, obviously to seat was in the middle of a roadside. I said, I’m very sorry. Everybody’s no would be in a terrible nuisance. They got up. And, and I said, thank you. Thank you. And he, early gentleman went, that’s the first time anybody said, thank you to me in weeks. And it, it makes a, it just makes a difference. And it makes a difference to the people around you as well. And it takes nothing. It takes nothing to do it.
Speaker 1 (01:01:52):
And it’s the same with, I can’t stand performers or comedians who won’t sign autographs, who won’t talk to people after it’s like, well, what are you doing it for? And it, and it takes you. I remember doing a show with Danny baker. I don’t absolutely got on. Well with it’s a pilot. It was terrible. It didn’t get picked up. Rightly so, but there were people afterwards, he wanted to chat and I’d love chatting to people who seen the show and they wanted there’s one chap who wanted Danny Baker’s autograph. And Danny baker just gave him this five minute lecture about how shallow his life must be, that he needed it validating by having a strangers name written down on a piece of paper. And I just, since then the length of time, it took you to say that you could just signed his piece of paper and moved on. It’s like I did the podcast that we do, we do, we’ve started to do a live show. We did one of Aton. It’s a
Speaker 2 (01:02:35):
Brilliant podcast, by the way, I
Speaker 1 (01:02:37):
Thank you very much. But we had, we had 200 people there in a small room in a and most of them, a lot of them were bought us presents and gifts, which was great, but most of them wanted to, to chat. So it took us two hours to get out, but I there’s a bar, so I don’t mind. But it’s part of the thing I love. I love people coming up and telling me how important the pod is to them. And it’s the same as a comedian. If, if you are doing a gig and you come out of the show, you go to the bar and people want to say to you, oh, that was great. I really liked it. And occasionally somebody would say, I, I I’ve got an issue with, with what you said and you’d go, well fine. Well, let’s talk about it or you have to be open, but this, this idea that you, you come off stage and you no longer a part of.
Speaker 1 (01:03:15):
And, and yeah, admittedly, my level of fame is such that I’ve not swamped my thousands of people. And so I dunno what it’s like to be that level of fame. How much of an nuisance that is, but I love the attention. We’re all in the business. Cause we want attention. And I don’t think you can be on stage for an hour with the people of the, with that people have paid money to, to pay attention to you. You then can’t say to them, I’ve had your attention. You no longer exist to me. It’s part of the job. It’s part. It goes with the territory. You ha you talk to them and you, you, you talk to ’em when you end up enjoying the conversation. And if people want say, I really enjoyed that. Thank you very much. I’m really too happy to do that. I can’t, I don’t understand this.
Speaker 1 (01:03:53):
So communication for all of us has to be a two way street. And I, I often found that with, with, with other people, with, with training modules, for example, I often thought even when I was, when I was doing them, I often thought afterwards, they probably done more in the half hour cup of tea that you’d always have a half hour session afterwards with a cup of tea biscuit or whatever. I probably learned more about the job from talking to the ambulance officers in that bit than they probably learned about the employment act of 1985 in the bit that I’d been doing. And, and what would happen then is that in that conversation afterwards, they would ask you specific questions they would ask. They would say to the extent that we, we eventually ended up changing the modules, cause they would say like, it’s fine.
Speaker 1 (01:04:36):
You telling us about the employment. It’s fine. You telling us what’s what we need to know is how that works on a daily basis. How does it affect this situation? So then you start introducing things like role play, because then you anticipate the situations that they most want to talk about. And it’s, it’s very difficult. I found to get senior ambulance offices to take part in role play. So you would draught people in from the office to, to play these roles. But so they, so cuz what they wanted was a, was a practical, uh, example of how these things worked. They didn’t want to know that if somebody was made redundant, then the, the, this was now the rule, they wanted to know how you tell someone that they’re being made redundant. You wanted to know how you coached that with their immediate emotional aftermath.
Speaker 1 (01:05:20):
And these were things that I discovered we weren’t telling them how to do. So I, I found myself as a, as when I did training modules that I was learning more from them, as I say. And I found that experience really interesting. Cause I find that when you talk to audiences, it’s the same thing. When you talk to people who have seen your show or listen to your podcast or read your book and they say, oh, why did you, why did you use those words? Or why did you use that piece of information? And then you start to think that’s a good point. Why did I use those words? And then you find yourself learning from them. Even now you find yourself thinking actually next time I do that, I will, I will take that on board. And if you, if a performer doesn’t do that, if a performer doesn’t engage with the audience, you don’t learn.
Speaker 1 (01:06:02):
Even. I think I still, even at my age now I love learning. I love discovering new things. I love watching documentaries. I love watching books that have been recommended to me. I love I listen to radio three, cuz I love classical music, but I haven’t got a musical bone in my body. So, but I love discovering things and I’ll find myself, you know, I’ll be doing the washing up, listening to a piece of music and then they will discuss how that piece of music was, was evolving. And I will stop washing up and listen to it. Cause I still, I think it’s really important to learn. And I think so many people who run businesses and so many people who are senior business, people lose that ability to, to, to keep learning. They, they
Speaker 2 (01:06:44):
Fascinated by the way, what, what you are talking about. I think in the broadest sense, which I think is wonderful is attitude. You haven’t, the Americans have a saying, which is your attitude, dictates your altitude. If you have an attitude whereby you see, I walk into every room, I do a lot of conference stuff and everything. And I assume everybody is lovely. Yeah. Because what’s the alternative. Yeah. You know, everybody’s a bastard in there. You know,
Speaker 1 (01:07:13):
I think that’s really interesting. I’m not saying I moved to this house because of this, but I live 200 yards away from an off licence and it’s run by these two chaps from Ethiopia who I now adore. They, they, they, they’re both obsessed with football. They’re both. So you, I could be in there for an hour sometimes talking about football. One’s an Arsenal fan. One’s a man United fan, but they both love palace now because of me, we’d talk and you’ll, you’ll often go in there and they’ll be arguing about, uh, Wisła Kraków with some Polish kids. It’s like, they’ll be, um, but so that again, that’s a good way. But again, it’s, it’s a communication thing, but right from the start, when I first started to go in there, they would, they loved my dad for example. So I’d go in there with my dad.
Speaker 1 (01:07:59):
Uh, and I literally, the second time I went in there with dad, they gave him a miniature bottle of uh, uh Jameson’s cuz he mentioned that was his favourite whiskey. They gave him a bottle of Jameson’s. First Christmas, they were there, they knock on the door and they bought us a bottle of champagne at night. And you go, well, they’re, they’re an off licence. That’s not costing them much, but it doesn’t matter how much it cost them because there is, there are five or six off licences in my area, but I won’t go to them because I know that I, and it’s, that’s all to do with their actual – in the same way. And this comes the Humourology I love if there are two chip shops to choose from in a town, I, I visit I’ll choose the one. That’s got the pun in the name.
Speaker 1 (01:08:34):
<laugh> I, I will go to the one that says that’s called by the Grace of Cod. Right? I’ll do that because I think, cause I think if they’ve, if they, you know, it’s the same hairdresser, if they’ve made the effort to come up with something that’s funny and it does, it grabs your attention cuz you look at it and you smile and you think, well, that’s a good start. That’s a really, that’s a really good start. And it’s the same. You do judge. You go into his shop and you wouldn’t say you look forward to going into the shop, but you, you come out thinking, oh, what a nice bloke. He seems nice because he might be the, he might be out horrible. He might be a boss, but he’s sensible enough to know that when a customer coming comes in, the customer likes to be said hello to the customer. He likes to be you. And it’s, it’s a simple way of using humour, but it’s incredibly effective.
Speaker 2 (01:09:16):
Oh, I, I love that. I absolutely love that. And uh, well talking about effective ways of using humour, I’m a huge fan of your book. Who are you? And I advise anybody, who’s got a, a glimmer of an interesting football to buy it because it is a hilarious, but it’s like, it’s really about celebrating the joys and miseries of being a football supporter in a, a fascinating and fiercely funny way is being a football supporter, the secret to long life and happiness,
Speaker 1 (01:09:50):
Ah, happiness. It’s not always happiness. It’s emotion. The, the part of the thing I wanted to do with the book apart from represent fans of every club. So there’s a chapter of every club, but is also about the connectedness of football fans is I always say to people, if I, I it’s always the first point, the conversation you you’ll meet somebody and you go, oh, who’s your support. They to say, I don’t really like football. I say, well, what do you talk to strangers about a wedding in? So I remember meeting Chris Pakin for the first time we had to share a cab away from this year. And I said, you know, football family said I don’t like football. So that was like, literally I can talk about other stuff, but it’s just the way you said it. That annoyed me. So I thought, well, I’m not gonna talk about other stuff then, but it’s, it’s about the connectedness.
Speaker 1 (01:10:31):
It’s about everywhere you go football links. And it’s like the, the pub I spoke to and I’m sure it’s the same review football fans still get a bad press. It still a certain group of people who hear the word football fans who think they’re troubled, they’re pub drinking, proper working class, south London, Boozer, and it’s full of proper working class, south London booers as well. But they’re accountants, there’s taxi drivers. There’s lawyers, there’s comedians, there’s TV, there’s all sorts. And they’re all brought together. They wouldn’t be meeting each other where it not for football and football fans have this connectedness. And there is this sense of I, for me, the best way of describing it for me, it’s the baseline of my life. The moments when I’ve been deeply miserable, ally always said to me, when she was in hospital with Paris, went home, she always said, go to the game.
Speaker 1 (01:11:16):
Don’t sit here with me, go to the game. And in times when I’m deeply miserable and my friends understand, right. But it, it is an escape. It’s a cliche, but it isn’t escape. But it it’s the sense of belonging. That’s really important. And it it’s important. I love theatre. I love, I like ballet. I went to see Slee, uh, to lake a few weeks ago. Co got, I loved it. Absolutely loved it, but you don’t get that same sense afterwards. You’re not, everyone’s not coming out talking about, oh, that brilliant bit. When, whereas with football, even if, if you’ve lost, if you’ve drawn, if you’ve won, when you’re coming out afterwards, the excitement, the buzz, the lows, but you’re sharing them with people that you’ve known. We’re taking the grandchildren now of people that I started going to football with when I was eight or nine.
Speaker 1 (01:11:58):
So we’ve grown up together and it’s always been somewhere. And for me coming from where I’m from, from this nondescript part of south London, that has nothing that you can really recognise unless you’re from there. The fact that people say to me, oh, you are a palace fan. That makes me so proud. It makes me so proud when people cause it’s given me my identity, it’s given me, it’s rooted me in south London. Football’s given me it’s, I’ve met so many people, fur football that are really good friends. I, you probably remember this about 15, 20 years ago, Stan Colmore was playing for us to Villa at the time publicly said that he was suffering from depression and the attitude was from his own manager. John Gregory Greece gave an interview, said, what’s he unhappy about he’s he’s playing football and he’s wealthy. How can he be depressed?
Speaker 1 (01:12:42):
That was the attitude. Then football in the past five years has really led the conversation in particular for young men, it’s really led the conversation about mental health, which almost brings us back to where we start it’s about men talking to each other simply saying, oh, I’m really, I’m really not firing on all cylinders at the moment. It’s and football’s led the way football’s led way in saying it’s alright to say that it’s hard to say to people, oh, I just feel a bit grumpy. Now. I’m really, you know, I might give the pub and miss and it’s given people the tools. And so many people look to their football club for guides and the pandemic it’s one good thing came out the pandemic football clubs all over the country. Every single football club stepped up to the plate and were fantastic. Not just in practical stuff.
Speaker 1 (01:13:27):
As I always say to Steve power, I said, this place should be open 14 days a week. Not just once a fortnight, there should be social clubs in here. There should be, uh, lunch clubs for old people. There should be citizens advice here. It should be a real focal hub for the community, but during the pandemic, it, it remotely, it became that people looked to the, and, and you know, palace were doing 1500 meals a day for local communities and, and sending them out, you know, palace players were to PPE. It became a focal point. And in particular, the issue of mental health for young men, football’s made great steps forward in looking after the mental health of its own players. And that’s been extended to helping young men in particular be aware of their mental health. And that’s, I’m very proud of football for that.
Speaker 1 (01:14:09):
Football still has its issues. There aren’t enough black chairman, for example, but football, even, you know, some people might say it’s a token gesture, but even taking the knee is a visible, it’s a visible gesture that football does. And so many people look to their football club and there are, there will be people who are, you know, palace is a, is a south London working class club. There are, there are probably fans who are racist, but because of the need, they will think they will think about why they’re racist and they, they know not to boot. And it’s simple things like that. It does football changes, people’s attitudes. And it’s, that’s what a business can do because it is a business at, at the heart of it. So it’s Steve Parrish. The owner is very aware of the community things. We do great stuff. The club and the foundation do great stuff in the community, but still the role of the club is to keep making money, to keep itself going as a football club.
Speaker 1 (01:14:59):
So it is a business it’s very much a business and football. Premier league football is, is a strange business, cuz it’s a huge global brand. But despite what you think there isn’t that much money in it. So be 360. I, for example, is sponsor slope city. They could buy and sell every club in the premier league hu in terms of finances. But in terms of global branding, football is really important. And in recently as football is a business, that’s used its position in the world with responsibility. And I think football deserves a lot of credit for that. And I’m very proud to be a football fan because of it. But yeah, at the heart of it, these are not things that we talk about in the pub. We talk about games that we’ve, we remember and games, but it it’s a, it’s a beautiful, important thing.
Speaker 1 (01:15:37):
And it is again, it’s probably mum’s equivalent of being with her brothers. It just, I look forward no matter what sort of mood I’m in, I can’t wait to get to the pub. And I, I, you know, we, our table has always kept clear cuz the rest of the pub by osmosis knows that that’s where we are at the back and I can’t wait to get there. And it’s, it’s, it’s fantastic. And the other thing is as well that it’s, if somebody’s not there, you notice and you find out why you’ll find goes, is that feeling alright? And I go, yeah, yeah, sorry, I’m load it late. So it’s, it’s, it’s a strange thing to explain to people who never go to football, but as you can told by my enthusiasm, I’m, I’m very proud of it. But at the heart of it, as I say, football is a business and business, can it, so the, the thing that’s probably most important to my life after my family is a business and that’s kind of an odd thing to say as well.
Speaker 2 (01:16:25):
Yeah. But it, it’s beautiful and uh, it’s a beautiful way to, uh, end this. Kevin Day – Thank you so much for your humanity, your humility, but most of all your humour and thank you so much for being a guest on the Humourology podcast.
Speaker 1 (01:16:42):
Yeah. Thank you for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you. I’m not sure how much people will learn running their own businesses back now. Yeah, that’s brilliant. Thanks. Paul
Speaker 2 (01:16:52):
The Humourology podcast was hosted by Paul Ross and produced by Simon banks, music by Steve Hayworth, 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.