80Iain Lee (00:00):
The best people to help others are those that have been through their own troubles, you know? And holy shit man, I’ve been through a lot of troubles.
Paul Boross (00:13):
Welcome to the Humourology podcast with me, Paul Boross. This is part two of our fascinating and funny discussion with Iain Lee. You will love it. Please remember to like, subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts.
Iain Lee (00:32):
My boys have both got brilliant senses of humour. You know they’re slightly different in that respect. I am able,
I have been able, partly through my, you know, radio career and now in the counselling thing to illustrate that, first of all, it’s okay to talk about stuff. You know, they’re 11 and 13 and schools are so much better on this stuff now than they were the mental health, the mindfulness, the talking. They’re so much better. But I’m able to show them that talking is great. That humour is great. You know, that I’ve shown them some of the things that I’ve done in the past, and they find them hilarious, you know, and they’re interested in this change of career. I think that’s an important lesson. I’ve taught them. It’s okay to at some point go, do you know what? I’m not enjoying this anymore. I want to do something else.
And to try this, talking about the failure, you know, I have completely changed career. I’ve quit showbiz, you know, with a few exceptions. If Strictly came on the line, I’d, of course I’d go and do that, you know. But I did my last ever radio show a couple of weeks ago, and it was beautiful. And I was in tears. And it was, it was great. And I have made the commitment to go full-time as a counsellor, private practice. Man, that is a huge leap of faith. That is, there’s a real chance that could go wrong. I might not get any clients, you know, people, I might not be any good. All of these things, this risk-taking, and this is probably the biggest risk I’ve taken in my life, completely switching careers. And I’m able to share that journey with my boys, you know, who’s still a little bit, why, why have you, why have you quit show that looks like so much fun? Well, you know, it’s not the, it’s not the greatest bit of fun. So I, I am showing them it is okay to Brene Brown again, dare greatly to take risks, to push yourself, to follow your dreams to a certain extent but in terms of human, geez, my boys, oh, they make me laugh so much. They make me laugh so, so much, you know? And, and we have such wonderful moments just in tears, sometimes laughing, one of us will do something stupid, and the other two, we are gone. It’s wonderful.
Paul Boross (02:48):
Well, yeah. And that, and that laughter with children is… isn’t the statistic that children lower laugh between three and 400 times a day, and adults laugh 17.3 times a day.
Iain Lee (03:01):
It sounds about, do you remember that though? You remember being like a 9, 10, 12 year old boy laughing until it hurt. Look, you, when you’re begging the person to stop, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had I missed that. I missed being 13 year old being around my friend’s house and in pain because I’m bent over laughing so much.
Paul Boross (03:24):
I think that find people who can do that with the, with you. I, I have, uh, we have a thing called G B C, which is ironically Great Blokes Club. It’s meant to be ironic, by the way. And we go every second Monday we go and we just drink three pints and we laugh our socks off. Brilliant. And we know exact, and it’s kind of like an appointment to laugh. Yeah. And it’s with two very, very funny people. And just sharing that moment. And we all know what we’re there for, but we never discuss it. Yeah. It’s like we’re not Right. Okay. Have we got the agenda for what’s going to happen? No. We just know that we will press each other’s triggers and you will come out there with a release. Yeah. And so it’s like going for a laughter massage. Yeah. Where you just go, oh God, I needed that.
Iain Lee (04:21):
Paul Boross (04:22):
And I think one of the things that people don’t do enough is make appointments to laugh. Mm-hmm. If, you know what actually, well, tell me about that.
Iain Lee (04:32):
It’s not seen as important. Cuz you’ve gotta pay your bills. You’ve gotta go to work, you’ve gotta feed the kids. You’ve gotta take the dog to the vets. Grandma’s not very well. So it is not seen, I think for a lot of people as a priority, maybe it’s seen as a luxury and you think, well, I’ve gotta go and pay 50 quids to go and see Frankie Boyle. I’ve got, you know, I’ve gotta pay a hundred quids to go and see whatever. And you’re right. Laughing with our peers, with those people that we love and that love us is just, oh, it’s just, it’s just magic. And you’re right. If you can find some people that know what button to push, what buttons to push to get you helpless with laughter stick, with those people. You know? I have gotta say, my kids, oh my God, they make me laugh so much.
My partner knows exactly. You know, we were texting each other last night, she said, I don’t live with them. We were texting and even her texts were just making me piss myself. You know we were watching The Apprentice texting each other about The Apprentice. And I was, I was totally done in by a couple of things that she said. And I have a couple of friends who I don’t see as often as I would like to actually say they live in Bristol but they make me laugh. And you’re right. If it is, oh, it’s wonderful. Right? What a gift. What a gift.
Paul Boross (05:50):
Well, I think, you know, for anybody listening to this, but also for us to remember, start to diarize those things mm-hmm. Because we can very easily drift in life and just go, oh, I’ll catch up with my friends in Bristol at some stage and everything. Yeah. But by diarizing it and going, look, we need to do this four times a year. Yeah. And everything, what’s the best day? And those kind of things anchoring us into those states, which does say, I have a thing where my son’s now 21, he’s at drama school. We’ll go back to talking about you at drama school as well, but we go and see our local football team, AFC Wimbledon, who are generally rubbish
Iain Lee (06:36):
Paul Boross (06:36):
But the guys who sit behind us are hilarious. Right? Yeah. And we all bond and then we’ll scream comedy abuse at the linesman, you know, and we will just release, it’s kind of like it’s therapy. Yeah, yeah. In some sense it’s, you know, it’s maybe primal scream therapy, but it still is. But that bonding thing of being able to do something together mm-hmm. And then laugh at it and talk about it. Did you see how badly we played? Yeah. You know, you know, we lost three one. Yeah. Four of three of the goals were back passes. You know it’s that Yeah. Level. And, and that’s what I think finding things that you can do on a regular basis with people.
Iain Lee (07:28):
You are Right. Actually, and I’ve been these friends I’m talking about in Brist, I’ve been meaning for ages to, to book in a weekend. We wanna have a bad movie night. We wanna watch Death Race 2000. We wanna watch some Steven Sigal, we wanna watch some, um, oh, um, uh, oh, uh, Jason Statham this a this is another thing, my boy, so Jason Statham, the action movie star. For some reason my kids call him Nicholas Boy. That’s why I couldn’t remember his name. Just, I dunno where Nicholas Boy comes from, but, so I always think of Nicholas, but it’s just, and for me, in-jokes, little in-jokes with, with my boys with my friends shorthand, not even in-jokes. Shorthand. Yeah. They can say, Nicholas Boy and I’m gone. Cuz they mean Jason Statham. They know exactly who they mean. My youngest, whenever he ends a phone call, he always goes, Chowsie Chow Chows. So I’ve now started saying Chowsie Chow Chows to people. Absolute meaningless, absolute nonsense. But it makes me smile and it makes my heart feel warm. And having people around you where you have a shorthand, you don’t even have to say the full sentence. You can just say two words. They get it. Boom, they’re gone.
Paul Boross (08:27):
Love it. Well, that, well, that’s what I would call a comedy anchor. Yeah. Isn’t it? So we, you are anchored into the you as soon as you hear those words, Chowsie Chow Chow. Yeah. You go,
Iain Lee (08:39):
Sorry. It’s so funny hearing another adult say it. I’ve never heard another adult say Chowsie Chow Chow <laugh>. I will tell Kim later on, he’ll be thrilled <laugh>
Paul Boross (08:48):
Wait, we’re gonna introduce it on the Humourology podcast.
Iain Lee (08:53):
Do it. Chowsie Chow Chow.
Paul Boross (08:55):
And there’s some gummy bears for every time we use it.
Iain Lee (08:59):
Paul Boross (09:00):
Oh yeah. So what makes you laugh Iain?
Iain Lee (09:03):
What makes me laugh? All right. Let’s talk about some of the… I’ve just restarted watching, on Netflix, uh, the TV series called Community. Right? It’s probably about 10 years old now. It’s this really slightly meta American sitcom. And I’d forgotten how much I love it. I’ve forgotten how much I love it. So I’ve started watching that. So that’s bringing me a lot of joy. Like I’ve said, kids and my partner, nothing makes me laugh as hard as they do. You know, I’m a big fan. I’ll tell you what we were talking before we were re-recording about Clive Bull. His friend of yours was, uh, radio presenter, I genuinely think is what is perhaps the best radio presenter we’ve ever had in Britain anyway. Agreed. And if ever, every eight months a year, I remember that Peter Cook used to phone Clive Bull up at two o’clock in the morning as Sven, the Norwegian, Norwegian fisherman.
Paul Boross (10:02):
Iain Lee (10:03):
Sweden from Of course. That makes much more sense, doesn’t it? And every eight months a year, I go, oh, I need to listen to Sen. And I go on YouTube. They’re all on YouTube dearly. If you’ve not heard them span from Sweden and, uh, span from Swiss Swiss Cottage, that was where he was from. Swiss Cottage. There we go… go Sven – Peter Cook, Clive Ball. Go and type. Look it up on YouTube. I’ve heard those, I dunno, 20, 30 times. They still make me howl with laughter. They’re so gentle. They’re so subtle. Peter Cook is, you know, he’s in a very dark place when he is doing it. But that he’s so effortless. Clive Bull is just the perfect foil. I think from the second one. He knows it’s Peter Cook. I don’t think he did for the first one. And he’s just the perfect foil. Just asking these questions and make – stuff like that makes me laugh so much. You know and that’s one of the few things I can keep going back to and just marvelling at the beauty of it. And you know, I like <laugh>.
I like phoning radio. And I like it when people swear <laugh>, you know, cuz you’re not supposed to. And if you’re phoning up BBC local radio, they don’t have a delay system. They don’t have a dump button. Oh. It goes out live. And every now and then you’ll hear someone phoning up and going, oh, fucking hell. And, and then, then they get cut off. Um, I’ll be careful how I phrased this. There’s a wonderful – radio makes me laugh a lot – and there’s a wonderful clip of Nicki Campbell doing the Breakfast show on Five Live. This is a few years ago. And he introduces, let me be careful, the West Kent Hunt. Have you heard that clip? Paul
Paul Boross (11:44):
<laugh>? Yes. He introduces
Iain Lee (11:45):
The West Kent hunt. Now you can guess dear listener, how he messes that up, but it’s on YouTube, it’s great. And he, he messes it up and then he apologises an hour later, he does exactly the same thing again. He goes, well, people will still be talking about the way… and he does the same thing again and stuff like that. That makes me laugh. That makes me laugh. Oh, and he’s a nice guy in Nikki Campbell, and I’m a big, big fan of his, I think he’s, he’s such a lovely man. Been very generous to me. Um, that clip though. It just, I’m sure he’d rather forget it, but Yeah, I, it does me in.
Paul Boross (12:20):
Yeah, he’s a great broadcaster as he’s brilliant as well, isn’t he? Yeah. I mean, having, I mean, considering where he is came through every level of broadcasting Yeah. From being the disc jockey to…
Iain Lee (12:32):
Yeah he was a Radio One disc jockey people forget that. Yeah. Yeah.
Paul Boross (12:35):
Okay. And he was brilliant at that as well. Is everyone funny?
Iain Lee (12:43):
Oh, Paul, there’s a philosophical question. Is everyone…
Can I come back in a month when I’ve researched it? Is everyone funny? I think everyone has the capacity to be funny. I think everyone has the capacity to laugh at stuff, but not everyone can. And I’m treading really carefully because I don’t wanna imply that it’s necessarily a choice. I think people, some people have had such tragedy in their lives that, that they are unable to see humour in some things. I do think for some people that has been dulled so much by trauma or some past experience that, that maybe that maybe that has been dulled. Uh, uh, that’s a heavy question, Paul. I don’t, I do not have an answer.
Paul Boross (13:32):
Alright, okay. Well, I’ll I’ll turn the question round. Go on. Why do people fail to be funny, do you think?
Iain Lee (13:38):
I think trying too hard, I think is a thing. I have got to do this and I will be funny. I, for me, real humour is really relaxed and is really kind of natural and, and, and, and seemingly spontaneous, even if it’s not. Um, I think some people try to be funny to make up for, you know, insecurities in their own life. They want to be liked, they want to be loved. But also humour is a really, he’s a really personal thing. You know, we talked about Frankie Boyle alienating half of the audience. Some people think he’s, he’s, you know, the devil incarnate but they will, doesn’t mean they’re not funny people. Doesn’t mean they don’t laugh at at some stuff. You know, it’s all subjective, isn’t it? Humour. That’s, that’s the thing there. I wonder if there is one universal gag that, that everyone would laugh at. You know, the search for the holy grail. I don’t, maybe it’s people falling over, I don’t know. I
Paul Boross (14:34):
Think it’s people falling over on the ice. Actually, I think it might be. Which you mentioned early.
Iain Lee (14:38):
Yeah. That might, that might be the, I was gonna say funny cat videos, but some people don’t like cats, which I just do not understand that. Who are these people that don’t like cats?
Paul Boross (14:47):
I have two cats
Iain Lee (14:48):
Mate I have five <laugh>.
Paul Boross (14:50):
Have you really?
Iain Lee (14:51):
I’m a 50 year old man living on his own with five cats. It’s not a great look Paul. It’s not a great look. I tell ya,
Paul Boross (14:57):
<laugh> Psychiatrists on the listenership will have a field day. I know that one.
Iain Lee (15:04):
I know. It’s sick. I know. I feel embarrassing out loud. There’s a chance a sixth might be moving in. No, a sixth isn’t gonna move in. No, I’m gonna be strong
Paul Boross (15:12):
Going on that same premise. Not the cat premise, but can humour be taught. Because everybody, I think, because if you actually look at anybody’s dating profile, they always say good humour. Good
Iain Lee (15:25):
Good Sense of humour. Yeah
Paul Boross (15:26):
From a psychological perspective. Are people delusional and think that they have a great sense of humour?
Iain Lee (15:33):
Yeah. Oh, everyone thinks that their sense of humour is great. It’s when they say good sense of humour in a dating thing, what they mean is someone who laughs at the same things I laugh at. That’s what that is, isn’t it? Because I think most people think they have, can humour be taught? I don’t know. I think you can be taught the basics of doing standup. That’s how I got into it. I was taught college by a great, um, man. Great man. He was a great, he is a great man. I think he’s like Hugh Thomas, um, who Oh,
Paul Boross (15:59):
He used to run, uh, the King’s Head Kings Downstairs.
Iain Lee (16:02):
You know him, right? Yeah.
Paul Boross (16:03):
Well I used to play the gig. Yeah, I know Hugh Thomas. Yeah.
Iain Lee (16:05):
There you go. Yeah. So Hugh Thomas was one of the lecturers on my performing arts degree that I did. And he taught stand-up comedy module. And he is great. I don’t know why he’s not more famous, you know, because he was a real instigator in the, what we would’ve called the alternative comedy scene back in the day. And he has given so many people their breaks and help people. Anyway, you’re right. He used to run this, this club in Crouch End Downstairs at the King Head along with Peter somebody, I think it was. Yeah. And so this course was you did like 12 lessons in then the 13th lesson was you did a gig at the King’s Head. And it was, that was life-changing for me. That was really life-changing. That is why I am sat here opposite you today because of Hugh Thomas, because of those 12 weeks. Right. If I hadn’t have done those, my life would’ve gone off in a completely different direction. That was life-changing. So I think you can learn the technical aspects of standup. I don’t think you can necessarily learn how to be a great standup, but you can learn simple things like, um, you know, setting up a gag mic technique. You can learn those things. Um, can you learn…
Paul Boross (17:14):
You can’t learn timing though. No. Can you? You have to hear Yeah. Where the funny lands, doesn’t it?
Iain Lee (17:20):
Maybe you can learn it, not necessarily in a classroom, but by years of listening to comedy, you know, listening to Monty, watching Monty Python, listening to whatever maybe learn is learn is the word I’m having trouble with. Maybe that by devouring comedy you can, I’m getting so lost. Maybe you could, I dunno, you can’t learn it. But by devouring comedy that can help you, I think develop. There we go.
Paul Boross (17:49):
The seven year old Iain Lee, did he hear the funny Yeah. Did he have the beats? You see this is, there were, this is generally the way Yeah, yeah. Because you know where the beats are. Yeah. And I think that’s the bit you can’t teach is where the funny lies. Yeah. You know, if you can’t say, okay, take two beats. Yeah. And it’ll be funnier.
Iain Lee (18:13):
You’ve got to feel it. Yeah. One of you, you asked me what was funny and I’m reminded of, I really like a comedy tech. There’s a great comedy double act, Mr. Show David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. And they would do sketches that I used to love and I would love them because they would be funny. They would go on too long and they would stop being funny. They would carry on and they would become funny again. And I like that. That’s timing. That takes bravery. I did. There’s a great, I don’t often sing my own praises, but I will if anyone wants to know what I mean. Iain Lee, do you drive? Right. And it’s an old caller guy called Jeff. And the question I wanna ask him is, do you drive too fast? But he won’t let me get it out. Cuz every time I go, Jeff, do you drive?
He goes, yes, I do. <laugh>. And I go, Jeff, just hold that because I wanna do the full question. Jeff, do you drive? Yes, I do. <laugh>, I’m 82 <laugh> and it is perhaps the favourite thing I’ve ever done. Right. Because it starts off really funny. It goes on too long and it stops being funny, becomes irritating, but then it goes on even longer. So by the end, most, a lot of people when they hear it, uh, they’ve got tears coming down there face. And that’s a brave thing to do on a local radio phone in. Right. I was brave to do it. My producer Catherine at the time, most producers would’ve gone, Ian, can you move on from this? Yeah. Given giving you the cutting thing. And she didn’t cuz she knew where it was going. So yeah, I like, I like things that go on for too long and go round the loop. That makes me laugh a lot.
Paul Boross (19:43):
Talking of things that go on for too long you weren’t expecting to be on. I’m A Celebrity. Get me out of here for very long <laugh>. But you, you ended up in in third place the final three.
Iain Lee (19:58):
Yeah. Yeah. And I lost, I lost out to second place by naught point naugh two 5% of the vote. Isn’t that something?
Paul Boross (20:05):
Wow. Yeah, something. But what did that teach you? I mean, because patience must be because you don’t like being – by your own admission -around people very much. But you signed up for something where you were in fa the face of everyone. I don’t
Iain Lee (20:24):
Like being around people. I don’t like being around arsholes in a campsite either. But that’s unfortunately was how that played out. The jungle was nuts. I had been asked several times to do the jungle and I always said, Nope, don’t wanna do it. Don’t wanna do it. Then I was getting divorced and I needed some money so I got in touch with them and said, that offer you’ve asked, asked me four times, is that offer still open? They went, oh yes, but become, cuz you’ve come to us, we won’t pay you as much as everyone else. And I did that because I did it for three reasons. I did it cause I needed the money, did it. Cause I was doing a radio show that wasn’t being promoted. So I wanted to go in front of 12 million people and say, I’m doing a radio show.
And I did it cuz my boys were at an age where they must have been six and eight. They didn’t know, they weren’t really aware of my TV crib. And they were at an age where they would, I thought, I’m gonna show off to my boys and show them what daddy used to do. So it was, it was, it was partly to impress them and it, it, it worked. Um, the jungle was tough. You’re right. Suddenly I’m in a, I’m in a campsite with 11 other people, some of whom I found very obnoxious, some of whom were, were bullying, couple of whom were delightful. Jenny MacAlpine from Coronation Street, Shappi Khorsandi Um, you know, they made it all worthwhile. Um, and boy oh boy, you really had to hunt for the laughs there. It, it was, it was fun.
It was boring. A lot of it was boring cuz you sit around for a long time, days doing nothing. Some of it is really demoralising. You know, when I failed that the first task I had, I failed miserably cause it was underwater and I can’t do underwater but there were great moments of laughter in that you don’t really see much of an and deck. You don’t really see them until you are, you walk out and they are there and you’re suddenly, you’re in the TV show. But Jesus, they made me laugh so much. I think those two are so funny. And to see them up close, to see them three feet away doing the shtick, oh my God. And I felt so proud. I really came away feeling I’d achieved something if I was able to make them laugh. And there were a few times when I had them bent over, double laughing.
And I thought, okay, alright, that’s nice cuz I respect and admire them so much. I think they’re so good. So you kind of feel a little bit, ooh, I made, I made two people that I really admire. Laugh, I’ll take that. You know? And there was a lot of laughter in the camp. It was kind of a lot of gallows humour cuz you’re miserable and you’re hungry and you dunno what’s going on outside. But you, we laughed a lot. You know, we laughed a lot in there. So it was an experience. Uh, if anyone’s off ever offered the chance to do it, do it. It’s, um, it, it’s, it’s life changing.
Paul Boross (23:07):
And, and what did it teach you in terms of counselling though moving forward? I mean, listening skills. I mean, were they not honed by doing that? Or was that already honed by having to listen for a living on the radio?
Iain Lee (23:24):
Listening skills, I’m not so sure. It taught me patience. You know, the, because it did, everything is so slow that it taught me. Um, it taught me, uh, what did it, what did it teach me? I don’t know. To be honest, Paul. I mean, it, it changed my life. It completely changed my life. Um, I tell you what, it taught me, it taught it, it was part of the journey towards realising I am enough. Because, because I failed my first task, a lot of people hated me and would not let me do any other tasks. And there was one moment where there was a, there was a challenge and I said, I would like to put myself forward for this challenge. And it kicked off. Jamie Lomas and Dennis Wise got really angry. We’re not gonna let you do it because you failed.
You are the only person that failed at time. We’re not gonna let you do it. And I was, and it was tough for me to put myself forward. Um, and I knew I was gonna get rejected. And I said, okay, I hear what you’re saying. I know I’m probably not gonna get this task, but I would like to put myself forward for it. You are not gonna, and it got really tense and Dennis Wise is up shouting and giving me all of that. And that was was a, a big step in realising that I’m enough. Um, and I’m allowed to ask for what I want. And it was, it was scary. It was intimidated by these two alphas. I’m not even a beta. I don’t know what I am. I’m a Ceta. But yeah, I learned that it was, it was, that was part of the journey of learning. I am enough and I’m allowed to ask for what I want. So that was actually a big lesson. Yeah. That clip’s on YouTube. It’s horrible. Really horrible.
Paul Boross (25:06):
So do you, do you watch it back or, I mean, I mean you said it’s on YouTube. I mean, is it something that you can relive? Because isn’t it always really hard to watch yourself? I’ve done a lot of television over the years. Yeah. It’s really hard to watch yourself on
Iain Lee (25:19):
Television. I tend not to, I watched some of that back. I watched the trials cause I wanted to see what they look like. And I’ve watched that bit actually with the argument. I’ve not watched much more than, I’ve not watched all the trials, actually no. I’ve, I’ve got the full dvd. They give you the box set on DVD and Okay. Yeah, they do. So I’ve got up there. I haven’t watched it all and I’ve seen enough. Yeah. I don’t like watching myself on tv. I get no pleasure from that. This was slightly different, but I yeah, I’ve seen enough. I don’t need to see any more of that.
Paul Boross (25:52):
So, but you just said that the only thing that would get you back into show business immediately is, was the call from Strictly. Yeah. So there is, there is something still there that you go, do you think it’s, well, I’ll tell you a little story about what happened to me. I left show business and I went and trained, um, similar to how you trained, but in sort of different disciplines. Yeah. In N L P and psychology and the, and as part of my training, I used to train doctors at Geis Kings and St. Thomas’s. And after two years of doing that, the B B C came calling and went, oh, you perform and you’ve done this training, would you like to have your own primetime BBC 2 series called Speed Up Slow Down? And I said, no.
Iain Lee (26:43):
Right. Oh, you said no to it.
Paul Boross (26:45):
Well, I said no three times, but obviously the third time. But literally they, they didn’t even, um, make a pilot. Right. Just gave the series.
Iain Lee (26:56):
Paul Boross (26:57):
And it’s kind of what happens is you go and you do something else and then somebody else will come round and say, oh, actually you are ready. And I think that’s the interesting thing for people to know is yeah, go and try something else and you get yourself ready. And then all the other skillsets you had become relevant again.
Iain Lee (27:18):
What was it like? What did it feel like saying No
Paul Boross (27:21):
Felt fantastic at the time.
Iain Lee (27:23):
Right? Yeah. Because?
Paul Boross (27:26):
Well because I didn’t need it. Yeah. And the fact that you didn’t need it was already I proved to myself that I, I got over that hump. Mm-hmm. If you, if you see what I mean.
Iain Lee (27:37):
And that’s the thing cuz in, in this industry you have to say yes all the time because you never know if it, if you’re gonna get another offer. And for me it’s chasing, chasing, chasing. And, um, so hearing you say no, it’s like I, what was, when I finished the radio show last week, I got a load of podcast offers. Yours was the first. And I said yes. And then a load of others came in and I went, I don’t need to say yes to all of these. So I picked three that I liked for different reasons. And I’ve said yes to those. So I’ve got three more, but I’ve turned down the rest. And part of me thinks, well, maybe I should have turned down, you know, I should have just done two instead of four. I dunno, it’s not within me to say no to work. And I’m having to learn to say no. And when I did say no to a few, well my, I’ll go and close my curtains in a minute cuz you, I’m, I’m becoming a silhouette. It’s really freeing, saying no to stuff. It’s a really freeing thing. Being able to turn down work. You, don’t get paid as a guest for a podcast, do you? Paul?
Paul Boross (28:44):
Iain Lee (28:44):
Should have asked first.
Paul Boross (28:48):
You’ll, you’ll be getting a handwritten letter and the book you taken out and a hand <laugh>. That’s not that. Okay. Not that. Just so we’re clear,
Iain Lee (28:58):
I don’t want a hand <laugh>. Um, so I am still learning to say no. But it is, it, it for me is great. Being out of the chase of show business, being out of the chase. You know, I, I walked away from a j my last radio job for loads of reasons it wasn’t working there. But I knew that would be my last radio show. I’ve never quit a job in my life. I’ve never quit. I’ve always gone on till the contract ends or they let you go. You know, so, um, I’m feeling… I’m 50 this year and it really feels like this is a significant year of change for me.
Paul Boross (29:31):
But it’s, uh, isn’t it all about seizing your own power Yeah. At that point and you go, actually I’m not at the whim of everyone else. I can create my own stuff. Yeah. And I can do that.
Iain Lee (29:46):
I’ve been doing this thing this week, Paul, I dunno if you’ve heard of it, it’s called living. And it means I’ve not been getting up a half past five every morning to do a radio show that I don’t believe in first a station that I don’t think is really supporting me. It means, um, you know, I’d got up this morning, get this dear listener, I got up at half past 10 this morning and it felt great. And after this, I’m gonna go off and I’m gonna have a bit of lunch. I’m gonna take a book with me and read, and then I’m gonna come back and potter around. Then I’m doing a show online with my friend for the Patreon. I’ve been chasing more and more and more my whole life cuz that’s what I was taught to do. And it’s dawned on me, I don’t need more and more.
I need enough. I need enough. That is okay. And I can have enough financially is I guess is the key thing. By seeing a certain amount of clients a week, working three days a week, I can have enough and I can live on that and I can be comfortable and I can feed my kids and pay my mortgage. Boom. That’s all I want now. That’s all I want. I’ve had really, really, really well-paid jobs, like silly money and most of it went up my nose, if I’m completely honest. I don’t say that with a sense of pride. I was, when I did a breakfast TV show, I was earning so much money, it all went up my nose, you know, or on stuff that was unhealthy for me. So now earning enough is great. And I’m, and I’m laughing, you know I’m walking around the house laughing because I haven’t got the weight of that show business career on my shoulders.
I have taken control. I want to be, for the next few years at least, I wanna be a psychotherapist working in private practise. Okay. I’ve made that happen. That’s happening. Let’s see where it goes. Let’s see where it goes. And I strongly suspect Paul, by the end of the year, I will be offered some TV and radio work because of this career move. I really believe it. And I will take each offer as it comes. I don’t need to say yes straight away. How much does it pay? How long does it take? I will take each offer as it comes, if they come, and I will look at the merits, right. Money, how much time does it take? What do I get out of it? Would I find it satisfying? Would it satisfy me? It’s gotta tick a few of those boxes before I would say yes, great position to be in.
Paul Boross (32:02):
Yeah, well, it’s a great position to be in. But also you said the word, which I think is really important. It’s control. Yeah. You have control over the way do it. And I always say that that humour is a superpower, but so is control. Yeah. And, and controller over what you are doing is the ultimate, isn’t it? Yeah. You are not being led around by somebody else.
Iain Lee (32:31):
I feel I have to stress, I’m in a very, very fortunate position where I’ve had a pretty successful career for 25 years where I had enough money that I could sign up for a course where, you know, I’ve got, I’ve got a nice house. I mean, it was a big mortgage. You know, it’s not, I’m not loaded, but I’m aware that I’m in a really fortunate position that a lot of people are not in, you know, a lot of people are doing jobs that they can’t get out of at the moment. Sure. Because they’re completely financially dependent on it. They don’t have the time or money to sign up for a course. You know, the, I’m aware of that. And you know, what I have really learned in the last couple of years to count that blessing to really, to not take it for granted.
To be completely humbled by the fact I’m in this incredible position. You know, I get on well with my boy’s mom. We don’t live together, but I get unwell. I see my boys whenever I want. I have a few quid in the bank. You know, I’m not loaded. I couldn’t, you know, go and book a flight to Barbados now, but I’ve got a little, I’ve got a little cushion that, that will keep me protected for a little while. So I’m in a really fortunate position and I think that makes it easier to laugh. I think that makes it easier for me to laugh.
Paul Boross (33:39):
Well, it’s Maslow, isn’t it? It’s the hierarchy of needs.
Iain Lee (33:42):
You got it. Good Point. Exactly. So there is a certain amount of safety around me. So I can’t remember what we were talking. This is, I’ve gone keep going off on tangents.
Paul Boross (33:51):
I love it. I love it. Bring it back. Okay. Well, okay. I will go back to something I said in the minute is humour a superpower?
Iain Lee (34:00):
I think some people have it as a superpower. Like I said, being in the company of Gervais. He didn’t even have to do anything and I would just piss myself. So I think some people have it so attuned that it is like a superpower. But, and I don’t necessarily mean famous people. You know, hopefully people listening to this will all have at least one mate that is, is able to just have you creased over. I’m hoping most people have that. I think by saying it’s a superpower that implies that there is something magical and exclusive about it. I think it’s, I think it is possible within all of us. Um, sometimes I’m having a good day and I can make a lot of people laugh. You know, the, no, no, let me take that back. The best audience for me is my kids or my partner. If I have them laughing, that’s all that matters. 20 years ago, I’d need a whole TV studio to be laughing. I’d need, you know, the audience of a radio show to be laughing. I don’t need that. Now, if one of my kids is crying with laughter, that’s, that’s the best gig, is the best gig I could ever have.
Paul Boross (35:08):
We’ve reached a part of the show that we like to call quickfire questions.
Iain Lee (35:13):
Why do we call it that Paul?
Paul Boross (35:15):
<laugh>? I have no idea. Because I’m sure there’s no such thing with you? <laugh>.
Iain Lee (35:20):
I’ll do it. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna Short
Paul Boross (35:23):
Answers No, no. I don’t want short. No. I’m enjoying this. I’m so glad. Whatever comes out, I whatever comes out,
Iain Lee (35:31):
I will be quiet. Now. Quickfire questions,
Paul Boross (35:33):
Ian, we reached the point in he show, which we like to call Quickfire Questions
Iain Lee (35:37):
This is a surprise.
Paul Boross (35:39):
Quick fire Questions
Paul Boross (35:43):
And it will be, um, oh dear. Who’s the funniest business person that you’ve met? I and obviously you’ve worked in show business, so it can be people in show business or it can be anybody. I thought these
Iain Lee (36:05):
Were quickfire questions. That question took a minute. I’ll tell you the answer. It’s Duncan Bannatyne.
Paul Boross (36:09):
Okay. Now you’re, tell me why. Cuz I don’t want quickfire questions anymore.
Iain Lee (36:14):
Well, I was lucky enough to, uh, interview Duncan a few times when I was at LBC and we got on really, really well and we ended up sort of being friends. We haven’t spoken to each other for years and he always used to make me laugh. And we had a great, I did a great phone-in competition once. Guess the mystery voice, right? And the clip was Duncan Bannatyne time going, I’m Duncan Bannatyne. And so it’s him saying his name. And we had these, we had this wonderful old lady phone up and say, I don’t, I don’t know who it is. And I go, right, the answer’s Duncan Bannatyne. I’ll play it again. I’m Duncan Bannatyne. No, I’ve got no idea. Okay, one more. I’ll give you a clue. It’s Duncan Bannatyne. Let’s hear the clip. I’m Duncan Bannatyne. I don’t know idea I’m afraid Iain. So, so that, again, that’s on YouTube. You wanna go and look at that nonsense. But, uh, Duncan Banton, uh, made me laugh a lot with that clip. And just with being a lovely human being, he’s the funniest businessman I’ve ever met.
Paul Boross (37:05):
Oh, well, that’s brilliant. What book makes you laugh?
Iain Lee (37:09):
Oh, that is a really good question. What book makes me laugh? Oh, I tell you what the Danny Baker books, my mom is not very well, she’s in a care home. And so I go over and I go and read. Which one were we reading, reading Off To Sea in a Sive. I think and we both just sit there and I read it to her and we both just piss ourselves laughing. So, I think there’s three, the Danny Baker books Brilliant.
Paul Boross (37:34):
B Brilliant is, uh, was Danny Baker, uh, an early influence Yes. On, on your radio?
Iain Lee (37:40):
Very, very much so. I used to listen to him on GLR. GLR back in the day on a Saturday and Sunday. You’d have, I can’t remember the order, but you’d have Danny Baker, Chris Evans when he was at his peak and Chris Morris, those three together. It was insane. And Danny Baker, I think was the first ever radio show I found up when I was about 14 years old. He was a huge influence. I once, so I got interviewed for The Independent or something who’s my radio hero. And so I wrote this… Well, I, I sent them all this info in about Danny Baker and they wrote the piece and they wrote it in a really clumsy, kind of like, sick form way. But it was all basically, you know, saying how much I love Danny. And I went to a show that night, Danny Baker was sat next to me, what are the chances? And I went, oh, I was so embarrassed. I went, all right, Danny went, Iain, I saw that lovely thing you wrote about me today. I was brilliant. I said, oh, I’m so embarrassed. And, but yeah, he was a huge influence on me. I think he’s one of te greatest… he’s a great broadcaster.
Paul Boross (38:39):
Oh, is that lovely? When that kind of thing happens though. I was once in a restaurant in Parsons Green. Yeah. And I was sat there and, uh, I was talking about how brilliant Julie Walters was. Okay. And I, as a comedy actress, and the two people sat off opposite me, were doing that face of like, oh God, just stop, stop. And, cause I was going, she couldn’t do anything. So her comic timing is absolutely… and she was literally sat behind me in the restaurant. Isn’t that
Iain Lee (39:11):
Isn’t that amazing?
Paul Boross (39:12):
And you just go, no idea about
Iain Lee (39:15):
That. Isn’t that amazing? Did you speak to her?
Paul Boross (39:17):
Yeah, she was go, she was charming about it as well, you know. Well, by the way, you know, I didn’t say she’s useless, <laugh> she was carried by Victoria Wood for all those years. <laugh>.
Iain Lee (39:31):
It’s funny how those things happen sometimes.
Paul Boross (39:34):
Yeah. Oh, it’s synchronicity. Is that what
Iain Lee (39:37):
It’s called? I think that might be the word.
Paul Boross (39:39):
That’s right. what film makes you laugh?
Iain Lee (39:43):
Oh, Happy Gilmore, the Adam Sandler film. Really low brow, really dumb, really stupid, just wonderful. I mean, there’s, there’s a great line. You might, maybe you wanna bleep it. Whereas he’s up against this posh golfer and this posh golfer goes, you know what? I eat shit like you for breakfast. And he just goes, oh, you eat shit for breakfast, <laugh>. And it, and that film gets me every time. I think it’s a joy. I
Paul Boross (40:08):
Think it’s a brilliant film and it’s one of those films that I can watch again and again. It’s just a, it’s a lovely sort of nice, pleasant, warm, cuddly ambience to very much so. Yeah. You know where it’s going. Yeah. That sort of thing. We’re gonna take a shift to the other side now, Ian. Okay.
Iain Lee (40:23):
The dark side.
Paul Boross (40:24):
The dark side. Okay. What, what’s not funny?
Iain Lee (40:30):
I think everything is open game within certain contexts. I think everything is, you know, what about cancer? I think cancer… got to tread carefully. I think cancer can be funny and I think that’s one of the things actually is a really good thing to laugh at. Um, you know, with the permission of those involved. You know, I’ve had some pretty horrible things happen to me when I was a kid, but I’ve made jokes about them. That’s okay. You know, I think sometimes, laughter about really dark things can be therapeutic. And I think as long as it’s not done in a mean way, as long as it’s not done in, you know, in a targeted way to cause a offence or cause upset, I think, I think everything is open. Again,
Paul Boross (41:09):
A friend of mine is, is just found out that he has bowel cancer. Oh. And it’s, but it’s treatable so now, do we stop laughing with him? Do we take everything very, very seriously? You know? Or do we kind of find lightness in it? Which can probably help him alleviates some of the…
Iain Lee (41:35):
I think if the, if, if he is, you know if a person who has cancer is, is open and prepared to laugh about it, I mean, I would probably be led by them slightly and want to go in cracking jokes or, but, um, yeah. I everything is open for humour. Everything.
Paul Boross (41:52):
Well, you’ve just said, I think the most important words and it’s, it’s very interesting because obviously doing your counselling now led by them. Yeah. Isn’t that where humour comes from? Yeah. When we look in each other’s eyes, do we go, can we play? Yeah. Can we, are we up for this?
Iain Lee (42:12):
I think that’s a really good point. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s you have Yeah. Can we play is a great way of looking at it.
Paul Boross (42:18):
What word makes you laugh?
Iain Lee (42:25):
C**t. I mean, I’m sorry. You’ll have to bleep that word, that word makes me, that word makes me laugh a lot because it’s so naughty. You know, it’s still the one word that, yeah. And wanker, wakas got a, you know, I like the, I like the heart. The k, the K sound. I think those, so wanker and c**t is answer
Paul Boross (42:46):
<laugh>. That’s what I’m gonna clip. Is just you going wanker and c**t.
Iain Lee (42:52):
Completely out of context. Yes. Those, those words make me laugh a lot.
Paul Boross (42:56):
Well, I mean, I have a theory. Uh, well, it’s not, it’s the, who wrote The Sunshine Boys, um, the very famous writer who wrote, and the Ks are funny. Yeah. Um,
Iain Lee (43:08):
I know exactly who you mean, and I cannot think of his name. Neil Simon.
Paul Boross (43:13):
Neil Simon. Neil Simon. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And the say’s K’s are funny and it becomes funnier because it’s got the hard consonants in it.
Iain Lee (43:21):
Yeah. Yeah. And I think, I think I like swearing. I think swearing is funny. Like I say, when, when it’s done on a radio show, you know, when it’s not meant to be. I love that. Um, you know, my boy, a few years ago, my, my boys said, oh, mommy took us to the cinema. Oh yeah. What’d he say? We saw this film. Did you like it? Yeah, it was good. It had ‘the c word’ in it thinking, what, what is, what is going on? I said, okay, I’ll play it. Calm. Okay. Just remind me what the C word is. Am I allowed to say it? Yes. Will I get in trouble? No. Okay. Crap thought. Oh, thank God for that. Okay. <laugh>,
Paul Boross (43:55):
I sucked it the same thing. My son did the same thing. And and, we’ll, we might lose a bit of this, uh, out of the edit, but I, do you remember Bob Mills?
Iain Lee (44:07):
Yes, of course. The brilliant Bob Mills. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Paul Boross (44:09):
And also a great broadcaster as well. Yeah. And Millsy was, I think one of the top three comperes of all time and we used to work with him all the time. Yeah. But we, uh, we employed him to do talk about really making people laugh. We employed him to do some voiceovers, I think it was for a project for Jongleurs. And we took him down to the studio. Yeah. And everybody was very serious. And he walked in and, he just went to loosen everything up. He just went to the whole crew. He went, why has Noddy got a little bell on the top of his hat? and everybody went, I dunno, why is Noddy got a litltle bell on? Because he’s a c**t.
Iain Lee (44:56):
Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful.
Paul Boross (44:59):
Just the timing on that. I still remember the whole crew just Yeah. Falling and, and it changed the whole atmosphere. So, brilliant. Uh, we’re, we’re not advocating the word No,
Iain Lee (45:11):
No. No kids. No. But if you wanna find up a BBC local radio show and say it, you have my full backing
Paul Boross (45:20):
What sound makes you laugh Iain?
Iain Lee (45:23):
Um, what sound makes me laugh. oh, my cat’s snoring. I was, I was in bed the other night and I thought, fuck someone’s in the house. I can hear someone breathing. What, what is that? And it was just one of my cats snoring really, really loudly. So yeah. That makes me laugh a lot. Yeah.
Paul Boross (45:49):
Oh, that’s lovely as well. It’s giving us a lovely…
Iain Lee (45:51):
You wanted me to say farts and I wasn’t gonna say it. I know what you wanted from me, Paul. I’m not a puppet.
Paul Boross (45:59):
Well, you see now when we’re in the edit, you’ll say farts because we’ve caught it on tape
You’re a very bright bloke and you’re a now a counsellor. And, uh, would you rather be considered clever or funny? Ooh.
Iain Lee (46:18):
Because now my low self-esteem has kicked in. I thought, well, I’ve never been considered either of those. Yeah. Funny, funny, funny. Yeah. Yeah.
Paul Boross (46:24):
Definitely. Every time.
Iain Lee (46:25):
Every time. Yeah. Funny.
Paul Boross (46:27):
Yeah, by the way, I think it’s the correct answer. Because in order to be funny, I think you have to be clever.
Iain Lee (46:35):
Do you think so? Yeah, I would, I would disagree with that. I know some really thick people that are funny,
Paul Boross (46:43):
Really? Name them.
Iain Lee (46:45):
I’m not gonna name them now thatI’ve said they’re really thick <laugh>. I don’t, I think with intelligence, if that’s what we’re saying, cleverness is I think a different, I think, I think humour can go off in a slightly different way. No, I don’t think you have to be clever to be funny. I would dis I would dispute that I wouldn’t fight you about it. I don’t care about it that much. But I would, I would dispute that. Listeners, well send your answers on a postcard, please to, Paul, Humourology, England.
Paul Boross (47:13):
It’s okay. And finally, Iain.
Iain Lee (47:17):
Thank God, desert Island]…
Paul Boross (47:22):
Bastard. Yep. Um, let’s see if we can edit around that. Okay. Go on… and finally, Iain.
Iain Lee (47:30):
Oh, oh. Okay.
Paul Boross (47:32):
Desert Island Gags. You can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What is it?
Iain Lee (47:40):
See, I’m not very good at gags. Um, oh, what is the one? Okay, this is, okay. I’m not very good at telling gags. Right. I’m not a g but this, this one makes me, uh, laugh. Um, so, uh, an old bloke goes into the… old bloke goes to the doctor and says, I can’t get an erection. And the doctor says, all right, well, you should get Viagra. And the old bloke says, can you get it over the counter? And he says, yes. If you take enough of them! <laugh>. I’ve not told it very well, <laugh>. But that is, that is my, that is my favourite joke.
Paul Boross (48:19):
It’s still brilliant. And you have been an absolutely superb, wonderful guest.
Iain Lee (48:24):
I’ve had so much fun. Uh, sorry. I’ll shut up. Let me shut up. You do your business and then I’ll…
Paul Boross (48:29):
No, no, I just, I just love that you’ve been so brilliantly funny, so brilliantly honest and so brilliantly, real. So thank you. I’ve got three words that I’d like to say to you.
Iain Lee (48:43):
Fuck off now?
Paul Boross (48:45):
<laugh>, fuck off now. And Chowsie Chowsie Chow Chow.
Iain Lee (48:51):
Yes! It’s made it into a podcast. Paul, I have had such a gas. Thank you so much. It’s been a real pleasure and an honour. And I’ve seen your esteemed previous guest list, so for you to consider me to be part of that. Thank you. And I really appreciate your time.
Paul Boross (49:05):
The Humourology podcast was hosted by Paul Boross, produced by David Rose Music, by Steve Haworth, creative direction by Les Hughes, and additional research by Helen Sykes. Please remember to subscribe, like, and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a Big Sky production.