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Podcast Transcript – Marina Purkiss

Marina Purkiss

Marina (00:00):

The people I want to surround myself with are those people that smile a bit easier, laugh a bit easier and are happy to be vulnerable and open because I think that’s where you make the really interesting connections.

Paul (00:20):

<silence>

Paul (00:21):

Welcome to the Humourology Podcast with me, Paul Boross and my glittering lineup of guests from the world. So business, sport, and entertainment who are here to share their wisdom and their use of humour with you. Humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve your business success and your life. Humourology puts the fun into business fundamentals, increases the value of your laughing stock and puts a punchline back into your bottom line. Please remember to like, subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:55):

My guest on this edition of the Humourology Podcast is a political pundant journalist who is well known for sharing her unapologetic takes on the British government. She began her career in the Twitterverse and now has nearly a quarter of a million followers. In addition to providing insightful and thought-provoking political commentary, she has been featured on many political talk shows including Channel Five’s, the Jeremy Vine Show, Piers Morgan Uncensored, and as the host of The Table on byline tv. She is also the co-host and creator with Gemma Forte of the political podcast, The Trawl where they Doom Scroll the political side of Twitter so you don’t have to. Marina Percuss. Welcome to the Humourology podcast.

Marina (01:47):

Thank you Paul. That was a wonderful intro,

Paul (01:50):

<laugh>. Well

Marina (01:51):

It was my heart,

Paul (01:53):

<laugh>. Well bless you. It’s all just true though and I’m a big fan. I really enjoy your tweets and I follow you on both sort of Jeremy Vine and that’s in on The T able. Fantastic stuff. But I’d like to take you right back to the beginning, your early years when you were growing up. I understand that you were from first generation Italian parents. Was humour actually valued in the family?

Marina (02:20):

My mom, well my parents are very strict, so they are Sicilian immigrants Catholic church every Sunday. No sleepovers allowed. They really made us work <laugh>, but it was joyous as why I make it sound awful, but there wasn’t too much humour. But if I look back now, mum was very serious. Dad was very serious as well because there was such pressure to earn money. We didn’t well off at all. Dad was working all kinds of jobs. Mom did whatever she could as well. So I don’t think humour was a massive feature, but I think for me Paul I was a real ugly duckling, let’s put it that way. And when you’re an ugly duckling, you really have to defend up a personality, otherwise you are gonna struggle through school <laugh>. So I think that’s where humour, humour became something to nurture and to read leverage for me.

Paul (03:18):

So how did that affect you at school? Mean? Were you the centre of attention? Did you have what they’d call a show off Gene?

Marina (03:26):

No, I certainly wasn’t the centre of attention, but I suppose that was the only way I could get people to take an interest in me, I guess because I was the very sort of chubby very dark hair, big thick eyebrows, very much an Italian child <laugh> and you’ve got to stand out one way or another. And that was my way I guess, of trying to be dominant and a little bit funny.

Paul (03:57):

Well you say a little bit funny, so I, how old were you when you realised that that humour could be the way to forge better relationships?

Marina (04:09):

Honestly, I think it’s something that’s still growing now. I, I think I’m noticing it more and more and it’s not something I’ve ever tried to be. I just think I’m seeing now that it’s a really great way to forward relationships and I think actually exposes you because the moment you are happy to put yourself out there and be vulnerable in being funny, I think people see that there is an in and there is a way to connect with you rather than always being a very serious person.

Paul (04:38):

I think that’s very true and that’s what the whole Humourology project is all around is how that humour can be that bridge between people. Now, humour I’m talking about is the likeness of touch, the love connection but you also talked about your parents being hardworking. Was that determination, that resilience of and broad humour forged by their environment and their beginnings?

Marina (05:08):

I don’t think so. Sadly not. I think my mom and dad had quite a tough upbringing, so we didn’t see that much lightness. If I’m honest. What I will say is my dad now in retirement is a far more, a much less serious character than he was and he can have a laugh. And to be honest, I think a lot of it is linked to the fact that he makes his own wine pool, he has a good supply of homemade wine and I think that helps him in terms of laughing that bit easier. And so I’d like to think I’ve probably got a bit of that from my dad. But mom is very serious. Very serious person.

Paul (05:44):

It’s interesting that you keep saying your mum’s a very serious person. So what the family had two sides to it did a thing cuz there’s a saying that families laugh together, stay together, but you are showing the other side of it.

Marina (05:59):

Oh God, it sounds awful. I don’t remember much laughter growing up, it was all a bit hard knocks, it was quite tough growing up and we didn’t have everything and mum and dad really under pressure, every penny was saved.

Paul (06:16):

But that’s the immigrant story isn’t it? Yeah, you’ve got to work of two or three times as hard in order to move forward and I get that. But it’s funny cuz I talk about my father’s immigrant story cuz when my father was 17, he was already in the second World War. He is been dead six years now. And then there was the uprising in Hungary when the Russians came in and he had to escape and everything. But my father had this strange joy and he said, I’m lucky. And he’d probably had one of the unluckiest lives of anybody he knew because he’d been through wars and uprisings and had to escape and camps and things and refugee status and making a new life for himself. So how much do you think attitude is important to moving forward?

Marina (07:17):

Oh absolutely. Huge, huge. And I think people that practise things like gratitude and people that understand how fortunate they are are I think much more inclined to be happier people and to laugh a little bit easier. And I’d like to think that’s me. So when I look around, in fact I’m not religious even though I was brought up with Sicilian Catholic parents I suppose I used to be religious, used to believe there was God used to go to bed and say prayer every night and I still do, but it’s not necessarily to a God or what, it’s just to the put it out there to the universe and I’m always very, all I do is say thank you, thank you for my amazing husband, my amazing family, my health, everything, my job, everything that I’m grateful for. And I think being appreciative and having that attitude is the one that paves the way for really good things because I think people respond well to people who are positive, who have got high energy, who they like to be around. Even in my work, whether that’s my day job, which is nothing to do by the way with the political commentary or whether it is in this new sort of show, glitz, glitzy, political venture. The people I want to surround myself with are those people that smile a bit easier, laugh a bit easier and I’ll happy to be vulnerable and open because I think that’s where you make the really interesting connections.

Paul (08:45):

I love that whole attitude of gratitude thing but I think it’s very true and the whole humanology project is around what are those differences that make a difference and why are people successful? And do you think that just that easy laughter, the people who laugh the easiest, who can laugh at themselves actually, is it important you think to be able to laugh at yourself?

Marina (09:15):

I think so. And I think actually this is interesting. So if you look at the different types of leadership, you’ve got leadership for example, I’ve worked in businesses where the bosses have been not able to laugh at themselves very serious. They rule with an iron fist. There’s no self-deprecation there whatsoever. And I think that fosters an environment that’s just not conducive to people being at ease, people being able to bring their true selves to work and it’s a bit driven by ego at the top. Whereas actually I’ve then worked for bosses and leaders who aren’t like that, who can show vulnerability, who can laugh a little bit easier. I mean you don’t wanna buffoon of co, we’ve just had a buffoon who’s just left number 10 of course. But you want someone who can just smile at the funny things and who can just be a little bit vulnerable every now then who can make a little bit of a joke. And I think also work needs to be a place where you can have a laugh. The amount of time, the amount of hours that we spend at work, it needs to be an environment that you are happy in and when I’m happy I’m most productive. So that’s why I think it’s very important to have that type of leadership style.

Paul (10:26):

Oh we’ve had William Hague who was superb on the podcast and he said he knew that and he said she was not funny. She didn’t have a sense of humour. And I just wonder if, is that now going to be a hindrance because do modern day politicians have to have charisma, a sense of humour in order to really connect with the public?

Marina (10:52):

Well interesting. I think this is where because we are sliding more and more towards populism, I think this perception of a leader having to be funny or entertaining is becoming more and more of a thing because we’re almost blending our entertainment and our politics. You look over across the Atlantic to Trump who is basically a TV star, he was a reality show TV star. And then you look over here and you know see Vox pops for example, up and down the country of why people like Boris Johnson or liked Boris Johnson. And it was because they thought they could go for a pin with him or they liked his funny hair or they thought he was funny. Just in general. And actually I’ve said this before on my Twitter, if you want to a clown, go to the circus.

Paul (11:39):

I love your Twitter feed and I encourage everybody to go and look at because you do argue with passion with humanity for social justice. But wit is really important in that mix because I think that’s what gives you the cut through. And do you think that people’s attention spans are that much shorter now that they need a quick jive? If you like

Marina (12:06):

Entirely, I’ve got it as well. I have to go through in these days because it’s almost like one piece of content isn’t enough. I need to have two pieces of content on the go or I can’t just be doing my hair, I have to be listening to a podcast at the same time. If it’s dead time, it’s wasted time. So if you can deliver information and you can entertain at the same time, this is where you are winning. And this is where I think Boris Johnson, as much as I just despair at him, he had something because he could land a message through humour, through wit. And I think what we’re seeing, sadly, if you look at the opposition for example, Keir Starmer gets criticised because this lack of charisma, people think he’s dull. And it’s a shame cuz leaders, it’s fine if they’re dull, but actually people are looking for someone to connect with them. And humour and wit is a great way for that them to do that.

Paul (12:56):

Well do you think the labour is missing a trick by not actually putting the people who are more naturally charismatic and more naturally witty up for those positions?

Marina (13:15):

I think time will tell. I think I’ve been quite disappointed with Keir Stama. I’m just desperate for the toy government to be out and obviously looks like labour other people to replace Keir Stama has let me down. But I think that’s more a policy thing. I I’m not let down so much by his charisma, more of his not standing shoulder to shoulder with the unions. Not talking a bit more open-mindedly about the single market and customs union, that sort of thing. And I suppose a bit of it is charisma because look, the British public clearly have an appetite for a leader with charisma and it looks like Starmer is falling short there. So perhaps, I mean who would be the Labour Party candidate who is funny

Paul (14:04):

I think there Jess Phillips for instance is fun and funny. I’ve met Jess but is she too out there for the general public? Is everybody scared that humour suddenly you are that they’ll turn into Joel Lycett…

Marina (14:26):

<laugh> if only

Paul (14:27):

<laugh>, but you see what I mean, that there’s a fear factor there that they don’t want to go that far?

Marina (14:34):

Not honestly, I don’t know, I’m not sure. I think Ki Stama was chosen cuz he promised that he would continue with the Corbin manifesto that was really popular and the 10 pledges, I think it was 10 pledges that he made, I don’t know that humour or charisma came into it, I think it was more about manifesto type promises. That said, depending on how Stamer does over the next two years, maybe the Labour party will need to start thinking about actually we need a leader that’s going to connect on a more charismatic, witty whatever basis. And if that is the person, if it is what they’re after, no one massively springs to mind. I actually think Angela Rayner has got a good sense of humour, but my concern is that she is too different. She, she looks different, she sounds different. People are ready for her, which is a shame.

(15:26):

I think she’s great. I think she’s really strong. I think when she’s in PMQs and standing in for Keir Stamer, she absolutely ate the opposition and she does so with humour by the way at times as well. Got a little bit of a cheekiness to her, which if it were Johnson, if it were a white male Cameron, Starmer that looks like the next type of leader that we’re all familiar with, I think she’d be in. But the fact is she doesn’t, a woman, she’s a fiery redhead and she’s got an accent and she’s working class, which I think are all pluses but other people – just too much change all at once.

Paul (16:04):

Well do you think as a country we actually doff our caps too much. And because we’ve had 20 prime ministers that went to Eton for instance…

Marina (16:17):

I despair at this but I understand it. We are so defer as a country. The reason I understand it Paul, is because I was the person that used to tug my for lock and do my cap because I’m working very working class background and although for some reason on Twitter, people seem to think I’m not, I get called a posh bird. Someone accused me of being the daughter of a Baronette and a public school girl the other day. I couldn’t be further from that. Don’t me wrong, my accent has become more posh if you wanna call it that as I’ve got older but absolutely not. But when I was growing up probably till about my early thirties bear on of 37 now losing count 37 now I used to just assume that people who sounded posh were better than me, were more intelligent, were just, it was that God given right to be in these positions of power. And only recently have I actually really realised, I mean you just need to look at the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg for example, to learn that people are very much like Harry Enfield’s character Tim, nice but dim, completely dim. And yet they are taught this manner of delivering information and this conviction, this confidence where people like me are like, well he sounds like he knows what he’s doing and we just believe it and we just go, yeah, trust you, go and do it.

Paul (17:45):

I agree. And by the way, I think there is a correlation between confidence and humour. I think that if you are given that confidence by going to Eton and Oxbridge and everything, I think you are therefore perceived as more funny even if you’re not witty at all by having the ability to stand there and expect the laugh <affirmative>, if you see what I mean. I think there’s the humour. I mean I spent 10 years of my life working the comedy store. Humour is about confidence as well. It’s about being there and expecting everybody to go with you because there’s a saying in psychology that if you want anybody to go into any state, you have to go into that state first. So everything. But as I was listening to you talk, I thought, well is Marina going to throw her hat into the political ring any point

Marina (18:50):

<laugh>. I think the nature of my Twitter ramblings probably preclude me from ever being allowed <laugh> to be a politician.

Paul (19:00):

Yoy say that – didn’t do Donald Trump any harm, did it?

Marina (19:04):

This is true. Maybe I expect more from our politicians though I don’t expect them to be quite as direct should we put it or loose lip as I have been on my public platform.

Paul (19:16):

But I actually think, cuz I used to live in America, I think we’re about five to seven years behind America. And you talked earlier on about populism, but suddenly I think we might catch up and somebody who’s actually saying what they think might become very, very in vogue if you like at the

Marina (19:39):

Time I think, and I think we are seeing that with this rising popularity of people Nick Lynch and Eddie Dempsey because actually they’re, I mean we’re hearing things come out now which are a bit do dodgy about the links to this that and the other. But if you just take a look at face value about what they’ve been talking about recently regarding the strikes, the reason for strikes inequality in this country and the need to redistribute wealth, they deliver it in such a way that’s so direct. Also, I love the accents, I love their accents and I think people need to learn that a Cockney accent doesn’t mean that you are I less intelligent or less deserving of the airtime or whatever than those with a posh accent. But what they’ve been doing is speaking without agenda, without fear really directly. They’re not afraid to deviate from a script, which sadly I think we see a lot with politicians even khar.

(20:31):

I think you see this rigid sticking to a script and the reason they’ve become almost like hailed as heroes is because we are so starved of this straight talking approach now. So possibly there could be an appetite for someone just to come in and have that approach. If it’s me, no, I can’t see honestly Paul, it’s a nice thank you. Very complimentary thing to say, but I can’t see, this is all very new to me. Don’t forget, I only, this sort of political commentator thing only really kicked off what in 2020 for me. It’s all very, very new.

Paul (21:11):

Never say never Marina

Marina (21:12):

Never say never <laugh>.

Paul (21:14):

Yeah, it’s interesting cuz I’m, I’m good friends with Paul Merton who is one of the most intelligent people I know. I mean such a sharp brain. But I think Have I Got News For You has been on for 30 plus years And that whole thing with Paul and Ian is the classic British battle, isn’t it? Between the working class and the perceived upper class. And I think that’s a very good indicator of actually how a bright working class in inverted person can be perceived. So maybe there is going to become a time when it is valued.

Marina (21:59):

I hope so. And I hope this deference to the posh whatever the upper class, I hope it’s something that disappears but it’s there with our monarchy. It starts with the monarchy, it filters down through our lords and our ladies and Baronettes and all the rest of it and then keeps us proles in our positions.

Paul (22:23):

Well it does go back to the Frost report, doesn’t it? I dunno, you are far too young to remember, but John CLEs and Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbit all standing in a row,

Marina (22:36):

<affirmative>, I do Remember that.

Paul (22:37):

And I’m upper class, I look down on him, I’m middle class, I look down on him, but I look up to him and then Ronnie Corbit says the classic, I know my place.

Marina (22:49):

And I think that’s what we see by the way. And the red right wing rags, as I call them, perpetuate this because they keep us warring and battling amongst ourselves down here. Well this, my neighbour over there has got a bit more than me or this immigrant over there. Why should they have more than me? Or this personal benefits? And actually while we are here just quarrelling amongst ourselves, we’re not, we’re distracted and we’re not looking up here at what our politicians are doing with their corruption and with their rule breaking, with their law breaking now with their subverting and shattering of our democracy. And I think that’s part of the plan.

Paul (23:24):

It’s what I call in the magicians what’s it called? The magician’s misdirection. It’s constantly look over here. And I think that in a comedic way, Boris Johnson will talk about something like kippers. So the next day in the paper everybody would talk about Kips or just recently kettles buy a new kettle. Actually maybe he just talks about things with Ks cause he thinks Ks are funny.

Marina (23:58):

He nailed it there because if you think about it, those are the takeaways that you and I have had from those speeches. Kips kettles, other things beginning with K the gaps he makes the pepper pig world for example. We take something away from them. Whereas actually if you think to other speeches that politicians give, we take nothing from them. So at least they’re memorable. So he’s onto something there. And I think that that’s why so many of our politicians I think make the, and not even just politicians, even just people in business when they’re giving holding business meetings, it’s almost like they assume this very professional stance and nothing can be funny and they just got to deliver details. But actually I just think that’s really hard for people to engage with. So even when I’m, again, in my day job, I try to, there’s nothing wrong with injecting levity into it because actually that makes people relax a bit more. It makes people tune in a different way. And actually if you set the tone and go, this is just gonna be a conversation between us, doesn’t have to be full of jargon. It can be, we can laugh at this or the fact that we did this and it didn’t work, it was a flop, so let’s try this and stuff. And I think this is, it just allows for a much more fluid conversation and things to be remembered rather than fact figure data bullet point. Which doesn’t do it for me.

Paul (25:19):

Well, by the way, from a psychological perspective, you are 100% right because it’s what emotions, and we go back to when you got fired up for politics in 2016, the reason that you got fired up was because of Brexit. But what you have to admit, well I have to admit as well is that they told a better story, <affirmative>, of course they told a better emotional story that engaged people.

Marina (25:49):

I mean as a fairytale, of

Paul (25:51):

Course it was

Marina (25:52):

<laugh>, but a fairytale that never came true with unicorns and gobbling and other mystical creatures. But they told a story and remain failed to do even that.

Paul (26:02):

And unfortunately that’s what wins. And what you were just saying, it’s really the troll. Your podcast is scrolling through Twitter, as I said before, so we don’t have to, but that will take a day of that and then they’ll introduce something else. So it’s kind of like they’ve taken humour and used it as a weapon of mass distraction, if you like.

Marina (26:32):

Yeah, I mean it was Roger Rabbit actually. So this probably goes back to when I was a kid, Roger Rabbit, who framed Roger Rabbit great film got it as my first ever VHS videos as a gift for my birthday. And there is a line in it. So don’t forget why was Jessica Rabbit with Roger Rabbit? She was asked and she said, he makes me laugh, he makes me laugh. And there’s a bit where Roger Rabbit said to, oh the FBI agent or wherever he is in it, the agent in it, he said laughter is the most power, one of the most powerful things. Sometimes it’s the only weapon you have. And I think that’s so important. Roger Robert was on the money.

Paul (27:12):

Well, and I suppose the fact that you can take something dark and make light of it is what I would call a superpower. And also something that we need to have a resilience that to everything that’s going on. I do you find yourself, because you go, you know, do so many tweets, you do get so involved in this stuff. Do you think that you have to have some humour to keep the resilience in there, to keep going against all these things that are hitting you every day?

Marina (27:47):

It’s a coping mechanism, genuinely. It’s a coping mechanism. Because many people have said, if you don’t laugh, you will cry. If you look at what’s happened to this country, if you look at the legacy, for example of Boris Johnson, the fact that we are more divided, more impoverished, more isolated, more broken as an economy, just everything is is worse now. And it doesn’t look like it’s getting better. I think this cost of living crisis, what it’s gonna do to people, what it’s gonna do to businesses, schools, hospitals, pubs, restaurants, whatever. Everything is really bleak. And then you’ve got everything and oh anyway, basically it’s not looking great. That’s what I guess we do in the troll. We almost like look at what’s going on and people’s responses to it that just try and bring a little bit of lev to it. Now some of it you can’t, right? You can’t bring levity to the fact that children are going hungry or that people will freeze. But you can almost laugh in despair at the state of play because otherwise what else can you do? Too depressing. It’s too, I don’t think I’d be able to do this if all of my tweets have learned. Some of them are very serious just trying to break down what’s happening. But if all of it were very serious, I don’t think it’d be sustainable. I think I’d be a very miserable person.

Paul (29:09):

No, we had John O. Farrell on the podcast who’s a brilliant writer and very involved in politics as well. And he was originally on, Have I got news for you? He was on spitting image before that and he says he despairs. And I wonder if somebody from the Twitter sphere who’s really knows this stuff, he worries that by sharing a meme or a joke part of us. And I think this as the psychologist, I worry as well. Part of us thinks we’ve done the job by sharing it rather than marching on the streets or doing something. Well we’ve done something to break it and then we let go. And yes.

Marina (29:56):

Yeah, I think John’s onto something there. It’s social media allows us room to vent and get things on our chest off our chest, Sorry. And is this perhaps why we are not mobilising, we’re not taking to the streets. Why were they able in an age of, without social media, without this ability to connect, they were able to mobilise, they were able to have these pex riots, which changed the course of history. Now like you say, we go on, I put a tweet out there, it gets a few thousand likes and then we move on to the next scandal. But if there is an appetite to do it, But you know what it is for me, honestly, people, I think it is everyone we’ve, we’ve done, we’ve marched, we’ve signed hundreds of petitions, we, I’ve spoken at protests, nothing has any impact anymore. I mean you have to just look to the heart of government and look at some of the law breaking the rule of ministerial code for example. Just fact that there’s this good chops guide of government that is completely just has been annihilated, basically writing rewriting of rules. Nothing matters anymore. So people have lost faith that their action is gonna do anything. So what do we do? We take to Twitter, we have a moan, a whinge, a joke and we get through it.

Paul (31:18):

But is that then that, are we gonna, because have we been nullified on some level by doing this and going, Look at us all thousands of us have liked this tweet.

Marina (31:32):

And do you know what it is as well, Paul? We’ve, we’ve only got so much capacity for this stuff. Everyone’s got their lives, they’re dealing with their bills, their kids, their jobs, wanting to watch Coronation streak, wanting to watch their Netflix series. They can only take on so much. And this is part of, don’t forget this was Johnson’s strategy probably inspired by what’s his name, The Guyer Bannon who said

Paul (31:59):

Steve Bannon, Steve

Marina (32:01):

Bannon who said Flood the zone with shit. I hope that’s okay to sound the podcast. Which is a great strategy because well then there’s so much stuff going on, it’s hard to know what to turn your attention to because if you focus too much on this, then before you know it, the next scandal has started playing out. And Boris Johnson was interviewed on this, an interview surfaced actually a few months ago. I shared it myself that he said his strategy when he became leader would be to make so many gaps that basically the media wouldn’t know what to focus on. And while they were all in chaos not knowing what to do, he would I quote depth charges. I think that was a term he used. So he could just go off and do what he needed to do. And essentially that’s what he is done.

Paul (32:50):

Well it’s the same, I mean Steve Bannon advised Trump, Steve Bannon advised or Bannon in Hungary. Steve Bannon was said to have, I don’t want to get in to have advised some people in the Tory party. I dunno if it was Boris Johnson <affirmative>. But it’s the same thing. And I hate to use the word clever, but it’s a clever strategy if you just want to muddy the waters.

Marina (33:18):

Yeah, it’s a manipulative strategy,

Paul (33:20):

A manipulative, It was a better water

Marina (33:21):

Think. I think collaborative gives it too much credit. It’s very manipulative. And sadly what we’ve learnt is we as a British public can be very easily manipulated.

Paul (33:33):

Yeah, gosh. It’s

Marina (33:35):

Sort like an abusive relationship though, isn’t it? If you think about it, it’s like we can get laughed into bed by this guy with funny hair and we think he’s gonna be good for a pint and then he will lie to us and lie to us. And we’ve actually gone. He lies, it’s fine. It’s just what he does. And we just okay with that now. And I just think it’s bananas there as a country we’ve come to accept that that’s okay from our politicians.

Paul (34:01):

So do you think it’s Stockholm syndrome? We’ve started to learn to love

Marina (34:07):

That. Yeah. Yeah. It’s quite sound really, isn’t it? And terrifying.

Paul (34:12):

Gosh. Well let’s like net up on the numerology.

Marina (34:16):

Its aerology. I’m obsess the time down, <laugh>.

Paul (34:21):

No, it’s wonderful. I love it.

Marina (34:23):

<laugh>. Exactly. And another thing you’ve got to laugh about, but what are we doing to ourselves as a country? I do often think what most other countries think when they look at us, we impose economic sanctions on ourselves. We pump shit into our own waters. We have some of the highest taxes, the highest transport costs, the highest childcare costs. We sign trade deals with other countries that ruin our own industries. Fishing, Farming, What must people think

Paul (34:54):

Of us? Yeah, it’s going well, isn’t it?

Marina (34:55):

It’s going fabulously

Paul (34:57):

<laugh>, right? We do have to laugh. Gosh. Oh well that’s cheered me up. No end. Thanks Marie.

Marina (35:05):

You’re welcome. I did say I think there is a gap in the market for a badge or something you can wear if you’re travelling on the continent or indeed anywhere in the world that says, I’m not one of those morons that voted Brexit or I’m not one of those idiots that voted Tori. Right. I think there should be something you can use or have. Cause I was in France recently and I don’t want to hear my accent and assume I’m some Brexit voting Mor.

Paul (35:29):

Yeah, I was in Budapest and I nearly got punched for being an English football hooligan first of all. Which as you can see, I look like a football hooligan. And I had to go up to a very big bloke and say, I’m Scottish and Hungarian.

Marina (35:50):

What were you doing to make him think that Paul?

Paul (35:53):

I don’t know. He just heard me and my son and my brother who lives in Hungary talking and we were talking about football and he just automatically made this leap. He’d had a couple of drinks at the same time. <affirmative>. So what makes you laugh, Marina?

Marina (36:10):

What makes me laugh? I think I do love British Shema. I do love sort very dry, witty people, sarcasm, that type of thing. When I was younger it was your typical or slapstick stuff I used to love a bit of, You’ve been framed Beatles about that type of thing. Faulty towers only falls and horses still makes me laugh now my favourite only falls and yet there’s that bit. My favourite though episode of Only Falls and horses is Tony, What’s the guy? The entertainer. And he can’t pronounce his Rs when he’s sitting on

Paul (36:49):

Screen

Marina (36:50):

And he does

Paul (36:54):

You.

Marina (36:56):

That is my favourite episode. Every time I see that, it makes me laugh. I think

Paul (37:00):

That’s, yeah, and it’s an Italian name, isn’t it? It’s Tony the thing. Tony,

Marina (37:05):

Yes.

Paul (37:06):

Oh.

Marina (37:08):

But even though that’s brilliant now when he takes off the clothes and he is just got that one triangle of Deep Town and he’s got the wig and he got the medallion and it’s brilliant actually.

Paul (37:18):

No, it’s a brilliant, great episode. A great episode. And so now we’ve talked you on the borders of politics all the time listening to it. And we’ve talked about certain people not being funny, but do you think everybody has the potential to be funny?

Marina (37:36):

I think they do if they have the confidence, like you say. Cause I think it requires a degree of confidence to be funny cuz you’re putting yourself out there not to be funny and about a joke and not be laughed at a bit. My cousin’s husband, he’s got a hit rate of about, I’d say 10%. He puts out 10 jokes, maybe one will land. But actually he’s quite, and it’s quite nice to be in his company because at least they’re coming even if they’re not that funny all the time. Even the attempt is funny. But you’ve gotta have confidence to do that because if a joke doesn’t land, you can be quite ORs. But also I think you need to be in a good place mentally to be able to laugh a bit easier. I know for example, if you’re having a bad day and I watched that series of only falls and horses that I mentioned, it’s harder to laugh than if I’ve had a good day and I watched that episode of Only Falls and horses.

Paul (38:31):

Can it actually change you though to, I mean, do you put it on as an inverted therapy? So the laughter therapy that you actually put something that is guaranteed to shift your state?

Marina (38:44):

Do you know what? If I had more time, I probably would have something that I would turn to for laughter therapy. But at the moment, every second, every minute is of the essence. So sadly I don’t have that luxury.

Paul (38:58):

Well I prescribe the Humourology podcast three times a week.

Marina (39:03):

<laugh> noted <laugh>.

Paul (39:07):

Trust me, I’m a doctor <laugh>. So if I asked you to write, cuz you work in business, you’ve worked in the city thing, and if I asked you to write a business case for humour or i e, why should humour be valued in business? Or what would you include in that business case? If

Marina (39:29):

You’re a business case, you are trying to convince people that it’s worth investment, there’s gonna be a return on investment. And what I would say is that humour will give you the best return because you’ll be able to take people on a journey with you. They’ll be able to buy into whatever it is you are trying to do with them, whether it’s a new project or whatever. And I also think it means people will be receptive, whether that’s your stakeholders or even the people you are delivering the product to your customers, for example. So I would say there’s absolutely a business case for it but if it fits, there’s nothing worse sometimes. And seeing someone try to be funny look at David Brenton as a character in the office, an absolutely stellar character. Try desperately to be funny at moments when it wasn’t appropriate, he couldn’t read the room, the room’s not ready for a joke or they’re not warm to him, so then it’s never gonna land. So I think just there’s almost like a set of ingredients that the timing needs to be right for humour. And I think that’s down to emotional intelligence to understand when is the right time to be funny.

Paul (40:52):

Do you think that includes listening mean? And I’m not just talking with the ears, I’m talking with the eyes. You talk. That’s what I think emotional intelligence is reading the person, reading the room, as you said.

Marina (41:04):

Absolutely. And I think not enough people listen. I mean my husband would probably say I’m terrible at listening. My husband is a real thinker and he, he’s very analytical and sometimes I, while waiting for him to come but reach his conclusions, I sort of jump in and I finish his sentences for him, which he finds really irritating. I dunno. I think emotional intelligence is really important. And yes, use your ears in the ratio that you were giving them. You been, give two ears and one mouth, use it in that ratio.

Paul (41:41):

I think we might have shared the same grandmother, <laugh> <laugh>. My grandmother said exactly the same to me. God gave you two ears and one mouth in that ratio for a regular reason. And look at both of us. How much do we both talk?

Marina (41:55):

I know, I know. We didn’t listen, we didn’t pay attention. Sorry. No. Now

Jingle (41:59):

<laugh>

Paul (42:02):

Loa, we’ve reached a part of the show which we like to call Quick fire questions. You can’t wait, can you? No.

Marina (42:09):

Brilliant

Jingle (42:13):

Quick Fire Questions.

Paul (42:15):

Who is it the funniest business person that you’ve met?

Marina (42:19):

I do know what I would say. So actually back in the day in 2006, I did a season working abroad for Club 18-30. Now. Yes. Now I wasn’t a holiday rep I think I need to carry out, but I was the office girl in Zanty and my boss and the director of the resort at the time was a guy called, what you call him, Screech. And he was one of the best bosses I had. I’ve had brilliant leadership style, but also one of the funniest men I have ever met. And I’m still in contact with him now many, many years later. So for me, he would be the ultimate. In fact, he’s a perfect example of a boss who was respected, who was firm, but everyone wanted to do really well for work, really hard for, because he was such fun to be around.

Paul (43:09):

And his name was Screech

Marina (43:10):

Screech. He was known as Screech. But Steve Alice is his name? Yes. Oh,

Paul (43:14):

<laugh>. Okay. I was thinking that’s a perfect comedy name.

Marina (43:19):

He used to look like Screech from Save Weather Bell. That’s how he goes.

Jingle (43:21):

Oh yeah,

Marina (43:22):

That how he got his name.

Paul (43:24):

Well, Club 18-30. And I dunno if we could actually use this gag anymore because it was so of its time. But their advertising campaigns were legendary and that there was an advertising campaign in London, which just had a huge billboard, which just had the words, Spend two weeks on some bloke’s boat…

Marina (43:47):

<laugh>.

Paul (43:50):

Brilliant. For those of us who don’t know Cockney Rhyming Slang go look it up.

Marina (43:54):

Yeah, exactly. Joe was a shame. Their bar crawls and their cabarets and their boat parties were legendary. Legendary.

Paul (44:03):

Yeah. I never got to go

Marina (44:05):

And I’m so glad that they’re not around anymore. Cause I haven’t and the mother of a son now. And I would want him going nowhere near that type of holiday.

Paul (44:12):

<laugh>. Well I have a 21 year old son, so if they were, I’m pretty sure he’d be black

Marina (44:18):

<laugh> <laugh>.

Paul (44:20):

What book makes you laugh?

Marina (44:22):

This is a really lame one, but I used to love the Garfield books. The little Garfield

Paul (44:28):

Books.

Marina (44:29):

Just thought again, really dry. And I loved Garfield’s character and he was just such a miserable bit like Jack D, but in the Cat world, miserable, sort of hilarious, dry sort of thinking by the way. He was never talking. He was always thinking, I used to love those books as a kid and I collected them. I think that shows you that now. I don’t read funny books. I only read very serious books. If you look at the stash on my bedside table, it’s all about why we get the worst politicians and the death of democracy <laugh>. The tyranny of merit. So nothing particularly humorous in my reading collection right now. Maybe I need to change that Paul

Paul (45:07):

Time for some Garfield.

Marina (45:08):

Yeah, I think so. I’ll get them back. I’ll go to mom and dad’s house and I’ll pick ’em up from my shelf.

Paul (45:12):

What film makes you laugh?

Marina (45:14):

The Wedding Singer I really liked. I loved Is it John? What’s his name? John Boshemi, who’s the character, who’s the actor. Yeah, I think his character in that is absolutely brilliant. What else? I can’t think now again, I don’t need to start doing more things with levity and cause I think I’m become far too serious.

Paul (45:37):

You do have a small child as well? It is true. And a job’s. And I’ve taken Twitter by storm and a tv.

Marina (45:45):

I’ve got another one due in six weeks. Paul,

Paul (45:48):

A podcast or a child?

Marina (45:53):

S a child. I’ve got another child. The next congratulations class is out next week. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Paul (45:59):

Let’s all go. Oh, that’s wonderful. And do we know what’s coming or is it a

Marina (46:05):

Surprise? You do? So I’ve got a little boy who is 21 months and this is a little girl, so I’ve got the full compliment.

Paul (46:11):

Oh and oh fantastic. I know. Oh, please tell me. That’s a Humourology podcast. Exclusive

Marina (46:18):

It. The fact that it’s the girl is actually not the fact that I’m having a baby, but yes it is.

Paul (46:23):

Oh, well congratulations. That’s lovely news. That’s really sweet. Oh, that’s, We’re going to take a complete shift to the other side now, and I’m gonna ask a question that I ask all my guests, which is what’s not funny.

Marina (46:41):

What’s not funny I think is when I think there’s certain times people like and don wrong, he can be funny. But if you look at people like Frankie Boyle who sometimes push a little bit too far in a certain direction, and Ricky Jase has actually been guilty of this as well. And I’m a big fud of Ricky Jase. I’ve been to see him a few times

(47:02):

The same as Jimmy Carr. They’ve all got the potential to just go a few too many inches below the belt and it’s more of a shock than a laugh. And so I think that’s where I think there’s certain things you just don’t talk about when it’s disabilities or if we just, we saw at the it was the Oscars where we saw Chris, Was it Chris? Yeah. Take the piss out of alopecia. For me, I think it’s absolutely fine to take the piss out of people for choices they make for their behaviour, things that they have control over. I don’t know that it’s funny to take the piss out of people for things that they don’t have in their control, like disabilities or hair loss sort for example, or weight, things like that as being, or their appearance. This actually thing on Twitter I really don’t like is that if I go at someone like a to mp, even Boris Johnson new airport, I never comment on their appearance. I think there’s just certain things that are off limits. There is enough to go on there to insult without having to touch upon someone’s appearance. So I think things like that are probably just not that funny.

Paul (48:15):

Yeah, I mean, coming from a comedy background, my only issue with that is this is a personal thing and we can talk about punching up, punching down, which I think is what you are talking about, but who’s gonna police this stuff? I mean, I would argue that you have to allow this of course. Or

Marina (48:37):

It’s a supply and demand thing.

Paul (48:39):

And it’s also a personal opinion, which is what the question’s about is personally. You find those things slightly. Yeah,

Marina (48:46):

Different.

(48:47):

And this is what, this is what’s wonderful. I find ’em difficult. I just don’t enjoy them particularly. So what do I do? I don’t watch them. I don’t go to see Frankie Boyle, although I think he’s actually tonne himself down and I quite like sometimes his takedowns of the Tory party. I won’t go and see people like that if I think they’re a bit too, It’s a bit, I mean obviously Jim Davidson is not even that funny, but I wouldn’t go and see him because of certain that I just think his jokes are shit. And also he’s a right wing toss bot so that I’ve got the choice. I’m not saying he should be cancelled at all. And in fact, I don’t like this council culture because it flies in the face of free speech. And if we are going to say, if we’re going to really be busts of free speech, it needs to be free for people that we think are abhorrent as well as those that we think are on side.

Paul (49:35):

I couldn’t agree more. And I mean, I don’t mind when people say, personally I don’t like this, but once we get into somebody is in charge of deciding what we can and cannot hear, then we’re in a very, very tricky situation,

Marina (49:51):

Which is the Tory party now. We’ve now got this person, I think they’ve just put up given a role to someone just last week who is now policing who can and can’t speak at universities. Is that really I need to do, Who can and can’t be platformed at universities. Falls to a new recruit. So it Yeah, free speech when it suits, basically.

Paul (50:14):

Yeah. Well I think that’s really what’s not funny is people who actually try and get in the way of free speech, <affirmative>. That’s a personal thing. What word makes you laugh, Marina?

Marina (50:27):

Oh gosh. Did do other people feel on the spot when you ask these questions? It just me. No,

Paul (50:32):

I did. No, it’s fine. Just, you know, don’t even have to answer it. It’s just like what? Particularly with a 21 year month old child, soon the word poo is going to make you laugh quite a lot.

Marina (50:47):

<laugh> he started being quite funny, but he uses a word that’s not funny. In a funny way. Bear in mind he is 20 months old, he’s only just grasping a few words. Yeah, he’s managed to, It’s almost like he’s taking the piss outta me when he does this. He’s learn how to say, don’t back to me. And he goes as if he’s just mocking me. And then he goes and does what I telling not to do anyway. Drop his borage on the floor. Mummy <laugh>. So that’s rather funny. Well,

Paul (51:17):

You what? You know that, Oh no, there you go. The word, the first person to ever choose the word. But I will tell you an interesting, Well, I hope it’s interesting fact about don’t, because don’t, in psychological terms is a negation. And when you tell children don’t drop your porridge on the floor, they hear drop your porridge on the floor and then they hear don’t,

Marina (51:41):

Oh good is what do I say to him then? What’s the word I feel? It’s the magic.

Paul (51:44):

Keep a porridge in your bowl. You see what I mean? It’s about turning that around and everything. So in psychological terms, it’s called a negation that you can’t negate. And by the way, if you’re going to negotiate with your boss, don’t think about giving me a huge rise. Actually works in that way as well.

Marina (52:07):

Oh wow. Okay. Me and you might have to have a catch up afterwards just about parenting <laugh>. Okay. Yeah. A one to one session.

Paul (52:14):

What sound makes you laugh?

Marina (52:19):

<laugh>. This is so juvenile, but when my little one breaks wind, but we laugh very much because he finds it so funny. And so I find it funny, but I don’t enjoy it when adults do it around. My brother is very free and loose with it. He’s three years older than me, he’s a 40 something and he finds it in S when he does it around the table. I’m like, that’s not when we’re eating. But when my son does it, he’s 20 months. 21 months. And yeah, cute. That’s fine.

Paul (52:48):

And it’s the funniest thing in the world to a child. And then when they laugh, it’s just music. Music. Oh, it’s music. And that’s probably the sound as well that makes in tandem with the thoughts, but thoughts pretty much everybody thinks we

Marina (53:09):

Never grew up that we <laugh>

Paul (53:11):

Parts are always funny.

Marina (53:13):

Although we don’t do my marriage, we don’t do that in front of each other in our marriage. Retain an error of mystery

Paul (53:19):

<laugh>. Good idea.

Marina (53:21):

<laugh>.

Paul (53:22):

Yeah, definitely a good idea. So would you rather be considered clever or funny?

Marina (53:30):

Does it have to be in either role?

Paul (53:32):

No, there are no rules on the Humourology podcast.

Marina (53:36):

Oh. Cause you don’t just wanna be funny, but like a douche bag. So if I had to pick one, I’d say clever.

Paul (53:45):

But then you see most people, Well, just about all people. I’ve never met a comedian who isn’t also clever.

Marina (53:52):

No, you have to be. I think you have to be. Yeah.

Paul (53:56):

So it’s kind of a trick question really, isn’t it? Yeah. But if you can be funny. Yeah. Pretty much guaranteed that you are firing some really good neurons in your brain. Yeah,

Marina (54:08):

Because the quick witted people, for me, there’s a real attractiveness about it. There’s a like humour, the ability to laugh people into bed. It’s because it is so attractive. There is, you are right. There is an intelligence thing there. The quick witted thing, it’s being able to deliver to captivate people and to make someone laugh is a real, it’s a powerful thing.

Paul (54:30):

Well, what you’re doing is you’re making them do an involuntary react. So that’s actually quite telling, isn’t it? Because then if you think in the biological terms, a biological imperative, aren’t you gonna choose somebody who has superpowers, if you

Marina (54:47):

Like? Yeah, I have Paul in back in the day. I have fancied some appalling looking men who were just very funny, very funny, but just God, nothing to look at. All probably feels harsh, but one or two on the scale. Or really fancied them because they were funny. Why think, I don’t think women have that in reverse, do they?

Paul (55:13):

No, no, no, I don’t. Well, no, no. Because men are very, very thin skinned.

Marina (55:18):

<laugh> shallow is the word.

Paul (55:19):

Shallow is the word. I’m you. Thank you for pointing it out as well. Just so we’re clear. Not all men,

Marina (55:29):

Not all. Hashtag or not asterisk, Not all Men

Paul (55:33):

<laugh>. And finally, Marina Desert Island gags. You can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What is

Marina (55:44):

It I’ve got? I’ve got one. But again, it’s so juvenile and it’s from my youth, but it’s just one that sticks in my head, <laugh>. And it’s probably not funny at all, but the number naught and the number eight are walking down the street and the number naught turns to number eight and says, Why are you wearing your belt so tight? I love that one since I was a kid. Cute. And just oh

Paul (56:13):

Is cute. And I actually didn’t see it coming. I’d never heard that gag. And I think I’ve heard most of them. Oh, Marina Pekiss, thank you so much for being a wonderful guest with a great gag on the Humourology podcast.

(56:26):

Thank you for having me on Paul

(56:29):

The Humourology podcast was hosted by Paul Boross, produced by David Rose. Music by Steve Hayworth, Creative direction by Les Hughes and additional research by Ellen Sykes. Please remember to subscribe, like and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a Big Sky Production.

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