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Transcript – Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE

Tanni Grey-Thompson – multi-Paralympian and Member of the House of Lords – discusses resilience, humour, and holding your head high.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:00:00):

Sorry, I am laughing. So this is not because of your question, but you will have heard some building work going on in the background. I’ve got a window behind my camera and he’s just come up to me, sort of stuck his face against the glass breathed on it and done little heart shape for me, which is why I’m still laughing. So I have no idea what question you just asked because I was trying not to get distracted. He’s a builder who makes me smile.

Paul Boross (00:00:32):

Welcome to the Humourology podcast with me, Paul Boross and my glittering lineup of guests from the worlds of business, sport, politics, 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 every aspect of your business 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.

(00:01:09):

My guest on this edition of the Humourology Podcast is a Baroness, television presenter, five time Paralympian. During her sporting career. She has amassed a hugely impressive 30 world record, 16 gold medals, eight silver medals, and four bronze. On top of that, she’s also won six London Marathon titles. After her racing career, she’s continued to work for the betterment of sport disability services and youth as a coach and as an independent crossbench peer in the House of Lords. She’s also appeared as a presenter on BBC Wales S4C and BBC One. She was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. Frankly, she could probably be considered a bit of an underachiever. Tanni Grey Thompson, welcome to the Humourology Podcast.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:02:02):

It’s lovely to be with you. Thank you.

Paul Boross (00:02:05):

Well, I honestly, I could have gone on and on about your achievements and I think you, you are the most decorated person we’ve ever had on the Humourology podcast, so it’s astonishing and fantastic. And I’m a huge fan of your work, but I want to go back to the beginning. You grew up in Wales with your parents and your sister Sian, and you are on record as saying that your parents have been a massive influence on your life. Did that include humour?  And was humour valued in your family?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:02:44):

Yeah, humour was valued in the family. Partly is a way, way to deal with some things. You know, partly the way that I was treated as a disabled young person, I think, you know, both my parents were quite strong feminists. So, I think some of the way that my mum was treated sort of, probably as a woman, you know, so humour was always sort of around us and, I think, you know we watched comedy  growing up, but I, I think it’s also some of the stuff that we watched in the seventies, you know, is kind of seen very differently now. We’d also have quite serious political discussions around humour and, you know, what was sort of okay, what wasn’t okay, you know, this whole debate of, you know, it’s one person’s joke that someone else finds offensive. And actually, I think with humour, there is a bit that it has to kind of touch a nerve, but boys used have discussions a about it as well. So it was around me quite a lot.

Paul Boross (00:03:43):

I’m interested because, you say humour has to touch a nerve. Do you think humour is that tightrope whereby, you know, you may fall on one side or the other, but you don’t know which way you’re going to go?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:03:56):

I think it can do, yeah, abersolutely. You know, I remember watching some things, you know as a child where Sandy Richardson, who was a character in Crossroads, he was a wheelchair user, and there was a sort of joke, I can’t even remember what it was on, about him being a wheelchair. And I remember being quite upset by it at the time, and then sort of looked back at a couple of years later and thought, okay, a bit old, a bit different view, you know, I still didn’t think it was funny, but it kind of challenged your thinking on things. So I think sometimes humour can be just, just really funny, you know, crime with laughter and you dunno why your crying with laughter. And sometimes it, it can, you know, nudge. I mean, there’s definitely things that I don’t think are funny and I don’t think we should make jokes about, but that’s where it makes it quite personal. I then choose not to go and listen to those people.

Paul Boross (00:04:48):

Yeah. But presumably being in the House of Lords, you would , fight for their right to say it, would you not?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:04:55):

I mean, free speech, especially at the moment is really important and, you know, free speech doesn’t mean to say you can say whatever you want, but also shutting down people’s views, I think is really quite dangerous. So, you know, on social media, I follow people I don’t agree with. Absolutely. Because we, we’ve gotta be careful we don’t live in this like, really odd bubble where our views aren’t challenged because I think it’s always good to reset, to listen to other people, to think, okay, what do I really think about this? So, yeah, I think there is an element of free speech, which is really important.

Paul Boross (00:05:29):

Well, that’s really interesting because that whole echo chamber thing of now, because of social media, you are only curated with people who you have agreed with, and suddenly as you describe it, the bubble becomes smaller. Whereas if you want to learn, you have to be challenged, as you say, don’t you? And do you think humour is an effective way of challenging things

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:05:54):

I use humour because in certain circumstances it stops me getting really angry. And for me, it’s trying to be, okay, what’s the best solution? What am I trying to get to? Am I just trying to shout at somebody because they’ve said something that I find sort of upsetting mm-hmm. <affirmative>, or am I trying to do something where I shift their view? So I get quite a lot of ‘people like you’ and, you know, and it’s the pointy finger and it’s the vaguely pointing in the direction of my wheelchair. And I’ve had this a gate line at a train station. It’s like people, like, you can’t use the ordinary barrier. You have to use the wide barrier. And it’s like, no, I fit through this one. And you know, it’s like, no, no, no, you have to use the disabled barrier.

(00:06:40):

And then you kind of think, right, do I try and have this intellectual conversation about the barrier is not disabled, the barrier is the wide barrier for people who you know only go, right, it’s nine o’clock at night, I’m not doing that. So, when I ever get ‘people like you’, my response always says, what Welsh people? <laugh>. Well, Welsh people can’t do that. It’s been rehearsed over many, many years, I have to say. And it’s not off the cuff because but it gives me time to think about what my next response is gonna be. And it usually gives that person a bit of sort of context of, oh, what have I just, it doesn’t always, but kind of what, what have I just Oh, oh. And it challenges it in I think mostly a positive way. Cause some people go, oh no, I didn’t mean that was it.

(00:07:27):

So what you meant wheelchair users can’t do. So yeah, I do, I do use humour. Um, sometimes it doesn’t always work <laugh>, but for me, I have to because otherwise the, the “people like you” comment – it hurt is the wrong word, it annoys me. And it’s like, what gives you, see, this is where, this is why I use humour because it, it very quickly gets into what gives you the right to decide what capacity I have to do that. And it’s usually about where my chair fits. Like I know how big my chair is. I don’t randomly drive my car down the street, not sure whether I’m gonna hit things or not. You know, my chair is the same. I know what I can fit through. So, um, yeah, that, that’s why I use humour because it, it tends to, it can defuse the situation.

(00:08:14):

I also, you know, I do a lot of public speaking. It’s knowing when to use humour to get effect because people do remember funny things and when to, to not use humour to, you know, when you have to be serious. Um, you know, and the one thing is, you know, I learned in the House Lords humour can work in the chamber, but humour doesn’t work great in Hansard. Oh yeah. Which is, you know, how our, you know, I mean now everything’s recorded on tv, but when it’s written down, it can read very differently. So you have to be quite careful about how you use humour in the chamber because it’s, it’s also there written down forever.

Paul Boross (00:08:53):

Well, yeah and, and no one’s to put in Hansard little smiley faces beside it, are they <laugh>,

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:09:01):

Or the reaction of the chambers. So there’s real world funny and there’s House of Lord’s funny and they are quite different things. Cause I remember ringing my husband after a really long day, and saying to him, oh, it was so funny today. And I told him, and he was like, yeah, that’s not funny at all. And it’s like, oh, but it was like, it was at the time. So there was a question on Gibralter and he, there’s about eight minutes where the minister and everyone who stood up to ask a question and had some connection with Gibraltar and Admiral Lord West stood up and sort of made a joke about, you know, that he never lived in Gibraltar, but he used to be a captain of a ship and he thought he’d nearly anchored it in the wrong waters of Gibraltar in Spain when he should have been in Gibraltar. And everyone the chamber went, oh. And it, and then as I tell Ian, he was just like, yeah, that’s, that’s not, not so funny. So for me, there’s definitely several versions of funny that I have.

Paul Boross (00:09:57):

I think that’s brilliant. But, I go back to is that mirror you can hold up with humour, then you go, you mean Welsh people? That bit is brilliant because they have to then go, oh, hold on, what do I think? And, and it reminds me, we had, , the lovely Jo Brand, I dunno if you know Jo, on the show, and I’ve known Jo forever because of our comedy backgrounds. But she said one of the most useful things you can do is have some heckle putdowns in your back pocket, especially as a woman. Because what it does is it just sort of startles people out of… and they have to think. And I thought that’s very similar to you going, you know, what do you mean Welsh people?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:10:47):

So I’m treated different ways one way as an athlete, generally quite nice. Um, one way as a parliamentarian, people like me or don’t like me, and then as a disabled person. I think it does help sometimes, you know, to just to j just to think what you would say in certain. So, I don’t experience, misogyny in the House Lords, but I experience it in my life outside. I mean, one thing I do try to channel is Michelle Obama, you know, when she said when they go low, we go high. I, I do try to do that. And then I did have a moment a while ago where, some older man was trying to be a little bit patronising to me and he picked up my hand and stroked it and said you know, oh, it’s so lovely what he, he was being really patronising. And I said, oh, it’s so lovely you, you come out cuz you, you know, when it’s cold, you have to be careful <laugh>. And people around me laughed and he sort of, he laughed and then, and then I thought, oh no. Oh, that wasn’t Michelle Obama was it?

Paul Boross (00:11:53):

No,

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:11:53):

No. You know, I wasn’t rude, but it was like, oh, and he was striking my hand and being really patronising to me. So it, it was a bit, you, you know, so I’m kind of thinking, okay, what would happen if that’s something like that happens again, what would I do differently? But you see, you know, you, you have comedians on stage, you know, I always think when I, when talking about it sounds a bit rehearsed, but comedians are rehearsed aren’t

Paul Boross (00:12:17):

They? A lot of the

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:12:18):

Time. Yeah. They don’t just go on stage and think, you know they’ll react to the audience and they’ll say things and you know, one of the things they can be very quick and, you know, clever. But, you know, they do rehearse things and check what goes down and what doesn’t go down.

Paul Boross (00:12:32):

Well. Absolutely. And having spent 10 years at the Comedy Store, it suddenly reminded me of the line that I used to have in the back of my head, which was,  I don’t mean to patronise you, that means talking down to you <laugh>

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:12:47):

<laugh>. Yeah. It’s and that’s always an interesting one, isn’t it? Yeah. I don’t mean to be patronising. Yes.

Paul Boross (00:12:54):

<laugh> no, exactly, you often, , speak about, , discrimination as and, and the barriers to that people face and your a huge advocate for them in the House of Lords. Does that ignorance that you run up against, how do you get around that? Do you, do you have to think to yourself, this is funny in a way, do you have to, , put it in a box? Cuz we’ve just been talking about it and I wonder how, because sometimes these things wound and stay with us. Do you have to just laugh them off as it were?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:13:34):

Yeah, sometimes. And then I think you can kind of use it as an experience to develop as a person as well, in terms of thinking about how you need to kind of shift people’s views. So, I think that’s a really interesting question. You know, it’s, it’s quite deep actually in terms of how we react and how we interact with people and what we do in, in various situations. So, um, you know, there are some people you just go you know what. I had someone recently I’d, , come out of a debate and was, was rushed into a another meeting and I was going quite quickly and somebody stopped me and said, oh, you should do wheelchair racing, <laugh>.

(00:14:17):

And then it’s like, so they probably didn’t know what my life was before. And you go, yeah, yeah. Yep. Lovely. I’ll think about that. Um, you know, I’ve had, um, a few people say to me, you know, when I’m getting rushing from a meeting, it’s not a race, you know, <laugh>, you go, what? Hello? And so they think they’re being really funny. They’re not being mean. And you know, what you can’t say is, yeah, no, it’s not a race cuz I’m not on a track. I’m not in my racing chair. I’m not wearing Lyra. And you go, no, cuz they’re not, they, it’s a bit like people. Oh, so people think they’re hysterically funny when they say, have you ever got done for drunk driving in that?

(00:14:55):

It’s not funny. And I’ve had it million, that million, that’s me being a bit exaggerating, but I’ve had it a lot. And again, you just go, oh no, no I haven’t. Because it’s like, oh, do you know what, because if they got the, do you realise how patronising that is, that’s not, that’s not being kind back. So yeah, it’s interesting when people think they’re being fun and I’m sure I’ve done it, I’m sure I’ve said things thinking I’m being really funny <laugh> and it’s not. So, um, I think, you know, it’s, you, you’ve gotta give a bit of leeway with some of this stuff as

Paul Boross (00:15:24):

Well. Well, yeah. And I think you’ve got a choice. Haven’t you’ve got a choice of being kind and going our whole well done. Fabulous. Or you can just be completely stony-faced and go, oh, that’s original and really to get through life – and the whole Humourology project is about the lightness of interactions – surely that’s an easier way, isn’t it, to go haha. No, no, very well done. You know, like it’s the first time you’ve heard it really, which is tough, I think

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:16:01):

Sometimes you just haven’t got time to deal with it. So it’s easier to laugh that off than and just get out of there than, than, you know, actually kind of have a deep discussion about feelings and you know, how you’d be offended. You know, I do worry a bit, about, you know, sort of ups upsetting people and people’s ability to be upset by things and, and that leads us to whole different conversation about kind of resilience and how you build resilience into young people. And you know, you get it in sport, you know, where you know it sort of shifts and changes about, okay, we’re not gonna have competitive sport in school, but at some point life is competitive, so how do you bring it in? But how do you bring it in the right way to develop resilience and skills and, you know, these different and they’re really, you know, there’s not a binary answer to some of this stuff. There really isn’t. So, I try to, you know, there’s lots that I choose not to be offended by as well, I think cuz life’s too short sometimes to, you know, to sort of move on. So yeah, just laugh. You just go, yeah. Oh, never heard that one before. And, you know, get away.

Paul Boross (00:17:11):

I think it’s very interesting to talk about resilience because you are obviously an hugely resilient person who’s achieved extraordinary things. Do you think humour aids resilience in that sense? And therefore how can we teach it to the next generation rather than just, you know, we’re all going to get knocked?  , we have, children pretty much the same age. Your daughter’s 21 now, is it? Yeah, my son’s 21 as well. And that whole thing about trying to wrap them in cotton wall and you know, somebody says something nasty to you at school, which is meant to be a joke. What do you do? Do you, do you encourage them to go home and cry or report it to somebody? Or do you build in them something that can be useful in life?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:18:05):

I mean, sport teaches you lots of resilience. Cause I lost loads of races in my career and so, but people remember the ones I won. So nobody ever lists the really big races that I lost. So I completely screwed up my 800 metre final in Athens – unbeaten for a number of years, World record holder made a stupid decision, actually about 90 metres in that cost me the race, well say it cost me, I might not have won anyway. But that absolutely was the nail in the coffin to me having a chance of winning. Nobody ever lists that in my, my list of accomplishments, but it’s one of the biggest lessons I learned in sport. So, you know, you, you do have to… I get frustrated when people talk about overnight success, oh, such and such. You know, they’ve come from nowhere and especially I think in the music industry and they don’t see that they’ve been to potentially stage school or they, you know, were learning instruments or wrote their own music or, and they might be young, but they did loads of, or sometimes there is this overnight success, but the reality for most people, it’s like years and years of work, it’s just no one knew about them.

(00:19:11):

So, you know, I think sport in a way teaches you to kind of be used to failure. I don’t know any athlete who’s like won everything they’ve ever done. And you listen to, um, someone like Michael Johnson talk about it and about his career in sport and there’s loads that he didn’t win and then suddenly, you know, he developed and, but people don’t tend to want to hear about those things. And resilience I think is really important because you do have to have a level of it, but you also have to find people around you you can talk to when things are are hard. So, I’ve got a really close group of friends who are amazing that, you know, when I wanna have a rant about something who will also say, you know, do you know what you’ve ever reacted a bit or No, you haven’t or you haven’t reacted enough. So I think thats support makes a big difference. But I’d say, you know, humour and laughing with my friends is a really important part of my relationships with people.

Paul Boross (00:20:14):

Yeah, why are we so drawn to people who make us laugh? What is it, do you think that that, you know, you said you, you have effectively chosen your friendship group around making you laugh, but obviously, you know, supporting you in other ways as well. But why, why is it so important do you think?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:20:36):

I think I’m quite an optimistic person most of the time. And I kind of need people around that will sort of say let’s look forward, let’s learn from what we’ve done or what happened in the past, but let them forward. I think I’d like laughing. It does make me feel better, you know, it’s just, you know, in, in my working life I deal with some really difficult things and there’s no humour in the difficult situation I’m dealing with. There is some of the stuff I work in, it’s, it’s quite frankly, horrific and miserable. But you have to find a way of a coping mechanism for that. And um, you know, I, I joke about you know, sweets and coffee and my, my way through, but just having that chance to kind of step back and get a bit of space is kind of important to me.

(00:21:27):

So, um, you know, whether it’s through kind of watching TV or spending time with my friends or anything like that it’s important to have that kind of space I guess to just, you know, think differently about stuff to reset. Cuz then when you’re going back into, and I say sort of battle, but you’re going back into a really tough situation, you’ve got the energy to deal with it. Cuz you need to, you know, some of the stuff I work in, you need, you need a lot of energy and you need a lot of resilience and you need to kind of, I don’t really like the world’s self-care, but I can’t think of a better one. You need to look after yourself to be able to go back in and, and do the things that you have to do.

Paul Boross (00:22:15):

No, I think that’s true. And you, you said the words reset and I was thinking while you were talking of what humour does kind of reframes it as well, doesn’t it? It kind of, you look at it from a different angle. And so do you think that the truth goes down easier when it’s got humour attached? I mean, with your friends, for instance?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:22:42):

Oh, with my friends,

Paul Boross (00:22:43):

No. Well, generally in life I’m thinking, but I’m thinking because with my friends, really if you ever get above your station in inverted commerce <laugh>, they’ll come and scythe you down beautifully, so that the group stays together on the same level.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:23:06):

Yeah. I mean, definitely. So with friends is different from work, very different. Sure. Um, oh, my friend, I remember being in a debate and it was a really deep, you know, quite challenging debate and I’d spent a long time writing my speech and, and I came out and, I ran my sister and said, what do you think? And she went, you should brush your hair before you go in the chamber, <laugh>. And, and sort of just broke the moment and went, right, okay. And then she’s like, right. And then we talked about, so the kind of that break, because it was, I sort of was quite intense when I’d said to her. Like, what did you think? And so there’s some stuff like that where, yeah but I think you can use humour, you know, it’s like, you know, if you’d tried on an outfit that you desperately wanna love, but you know, you look really bad in, but you still wanna love it, you know? And really good friend of mine, she’s brilliant. They’re just going, yeah, no, no, no <laugh>, no. Yeah. Do, do you wanna look like, you know, you’re 75 or you know, I mean to, you know, but she’ll, she’ll pick the tone that she’ll, you know, she, she gets it sort of really right. Which I think is important.

Paul Boross (00:24:17):

Yeah. It’s that bursting the bubble, isn’t it? of pomposity, which I, yeah and we can all get a little bit pompous in our own ways, you know, the importance of what we do and everything like that. And you need that leveller really, don’t you?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:24:39):

Politics is intense, you know, not all the time but you get, I mean there’s some really funny things that happen. So, you know, having been an athlete. I’m not as skinny as I used to be. I’m really, you know, but I’m not training 12 times a week, 50 weeks the year anymore. And so, you know, I get people and cuz I’ve been on telly, you know, people come up and go, you know that jacket that you had on, on Newsnight and if you’re on, you talk about really deep, you know, serious stuff and they go, we thought it made you look a bit washed out. Oh, and the other one, and then this really, really makes me laugh is people will come up to me and say you know, the BBC have got really good makeup artists.

(00:25:19):

And you go, yeah, they do. And they go because they’re really good, aren’t they? You don’t like that in real life. And it does make me smile because people aren’t meaning to be rude. You are in their living room, they’ve seen you, they’ve made a judgement and they’ve seen and they feel that they wanna come and tell you. So they’re treating you like family. So actually there’s something I think is really kind of quite warm about that because they’re, they’re not coming up and going, you and a load of swear words, they’re, treating you as someone that they care about. And it makes me, it really does make me laugh. So I’m really sorry. I, so, especially if it’s about something I’ve worn, I have this imaginary per I just go, I know they made me wear it. I know was horrible, wasn’t it?

(00:26:04):

But they were so nice to me and I didn’t wanna say, cuz they’ve got me whatever. And it’s, it’s obviously something I’ve bought, you know, I don’t have wardrobe, you know, I don’t have people buying my clothes mate, you know. Um, so I kind of have this imaginary person that they was so nice and they, they really liked and I didn’t wanna hurt them. No, I know. You’re right. And so because you, you again in that suit, you can’t say I really liked that. I thought I looked great in it. So, so, but every time, and that happens fairly regularly, you know, different ways, it does make me smile because I think that they see me as family and that’s, that’s really quite sweet

Paul Boross (00:26:43):

I think that’s so sweet because you are internally reframing and that is I think part of a characteristic of a successful person is they are seeing the best in it and if there is no best in it, they reframe it to make it work for them. Or at least not affect their psyche so that they can easily brush it off. Which is what humour is, isn’t it? It’s like, you know, when people say, why can’t you see the funny side? I think what you do so successfully is see the funny side all the time, if at all possible.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:27:23):

It also comes from the position I am what I do. You know, I think, you know, my best friend, if someone went up to her and said, your makeup looks horrible, she and she would react in a different way because that’s kind of personal. So I’ve got sort of different versions of me, you know, I’ve got the me that was an athlete to me, that’s mum, the me that’s parliamentarian, the me that’s politician. You know, there’s, there’s different bits of of me who all come together in one person and I don’t kind of sort of go out to go, oh, today I’m going to be this, I’m not kind of creating this image of myself cuz it’s me. But people might only see one bit of the, so I saw of saw a Venn diagram.

(00:28:04):

People might only see one bit of the Venn diagram. And this comes back to my parents. They were always very keen. I did not identify myself just as an athlete. My dad was like, you’re not just an athlete. And actually being an athlete’s a bit boring. That’s the most boring part of you because, you know, you turn up and go, what did you do? Well, I went training, I went training and it did. And it’s really dealt. So my parents were a really important part of that in, in helping me see myself as a Venn diagram, but also understanding people only saw little bits of me.

Paul Boross (00:28:33):

That’s fascinating because we’re talking about how that we can mould people to have a resilient attitude. And what you’ve just described is that your parents had that ability to help you mould yourself, to have that sense of humour about things, but not see yourself just as one thing.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:28:58):

I think especially in sport where you have a very limited life, you know? And I retire at 37, so I kept going for quite a long time. I mean, I probably hit my peak at 34 and then went downhill quickly. But, it is not a lifelong career in most sports there’s some sports where you can keep going a bit longer. But, you know, it’s, so I think in terms of how my career was framed at the end of every season, my dad would say to me, so what you gonna do when you grow up? And then even, you know, um, so when I went into the House of Lords I remember ringing my dad and saying like, I’m in, I’ve got the confirmation. And he was like, yeah, it’s not a real job though, is it?

Paul Boross (00:29:40):

<laugh>?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:29:41):

Yeah. Your sister’s got a real job cuz she’s a nurse and, but he didn’t, you know, he’s like, yeah. And, and it was that bit where it was like, I was so excited cuz it’s quite an arduous process and it was just that bit to just go. And then he is like, yeah, so what are you gonna do? What? Look, so, you know I find that kind of lovely that my family are supportive but use kind of humour to help me to could you get big ups in sport? You get big ups and big downs. Sure. And it’s, it’s how you navigate through to lessen those sort of bumps. Semi in politics, you can win, you can lose, you can have great days, you can have days where you feel like you’re smashing your heads into a brick wall and you get nowhere and nobody listens to you.

(00:30:24):

And there was a big bit of legislation I was doing and I was in charge of the votes and I basically lost four votes in a row. And I remember feeling really demoralised and this was about support for disabled people. And I remember ringing home and just like, how, how do I tell my family that we’ve lost the votes? And Carys was only little at the time and she answered the phone and she said to me, daddy’s made me watch the Parliament channel. So I was like, okay. Right. And she said, you’re not having a good day, are you? So I said, no, no, I’m not. No. And she went, but we still love you.

Paul Boross (00:31:04):

Oh,

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:31:05):

You’re like, oh. And there’s one bit of you goes, really? That’s and the other bit you’re going, that’s my baby. So, you know, you have those moments where you need that kind of reframing.

Paul Boross (00:31:15):

I love that. And I also, whatI really love is that whole thing and which seems inherent in how you were brought up and hopefully how you’re bringing Carys up is that teasing element, which is what I call humour as well, that light teasing. I spent two and a half years training doctors at Guys, Kings and St. Thomas’s. And while we were there, Kings did, a research paper into how quickly – it’s relevant because your sister Sian’s a nurse – how quickly nurses got patients better and the ones who had humour who could tease, cajole, play, got their patients to leave in half the time and got them to the place. And so there’s a real art to that whole teasing. And I think going back to what we were talking about, resilience, if you can be teased and play as you are growing up with people that gives you the ability to be more resilient, do you think that’s true?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:32:29):

Yeah, I think because you, you have to kind of look at yourself and I mean, there’s, there’s definitely people that I wouldn’t joke with in work. I think sometimes… I think in a work environment it’s different or you know, you know, maybe, you know, there’s people who I don’t think are funny and they don’t think I’m funny and you just wouldn’t try and be jokey with mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and there’s some people I would, I know it’s interesting when I’m doing kind of, so, you know, some of my work is, is paid speaking work and you know, people’s reaction is like, oh, I didn’t think you were gonna be funny. And there’s some bits of that I talk about which are kind of funny because actually it helps me through it helps them through it. Some bits are really funny. Well, I think they are.

(00:33:12):

You see, I don’t see this myself, but it’s been said to me quite a lot of times when I’m doing my speaking work, oh, you’re like Victoria Wood? And it’s like, and it’s been said to me like lots and lots of times over the years and it’s like, I can’t see that in myself at all. And you think, well I might do better if I was sort of Victoria Wood mark 2 than the career I’ve chosen. But it’s kind of interesting how people connect you to comedians, but also there’s an, cuz you’re an athlete or a politician, you can’t be funny. Yeah. You know, and actually there are really some funny politicians.

Paul Boross (00:33:53):

I thought when you were talking about it, I’ve seen your, keynote speeches and they are excellent and, and really funny. And the highest praise you can get is somebody saying Victoria Wood because she was a comedic genius.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:34:10):

Yeah, I know. I mean it’s, it’s, it’s amazing yeah, I mean you, you kind of tho those things where you come away. I mean, to be honest it feels the time I find it hardest to have feedback is if I’ve done a speech online because there’s a bit where I think people kind of have to say, you’re really good. So, cause I can’t go, oh, that was a bit rubbish. Mm, no. Um, so yeah, that’s probably the the hardest one to kind of, to take, you know, or to deal with because I kind of go are, are they, are they just being nice or they being real or they being whatever.  , so, um, yeah, but the, the chance to kind of do those things, I’m, I’m incredibly lucky with my career. I gets a chance to do loads of different stuff and that’s, that’s a really nice place to be as well.

Paul Boross (00:35:03):

I saw your fabulous speech Seizes The Day, which is also the title of your autobiography and it’s fabulous. And I thought when I saw it, I have a theory Tanni, is that the difference between a good speaker and a great speaker is humour. Cuz I think you can be certain amounts of inspiration, but I think you take an audience on a completely different journey if you can introduce humour and lightness into it. Do you agree?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:35:35):

If you’re doing something however long the presentation is, you know, whether it’s, you know, 10 minutes or half an hour, 45 minutes, you’ve gotta have those sort of bits with it. Because if you just deliver something, it’s either gotta be incredibly intellectual in this massive learning curve that, you know, people are desperate, it’s not to deliver business messages, it’s to enforce the things that are happening around the conference to get people to kind of link the business messages and okay, this is what I learned in my life to kind of help people make those connections. Um, but you know, even with some of that, I’ve had some funny ones. It was like, and anyone in the speaking world has had it probably, you know, I had a call very late Thursday night saying, can you be in Birmingham tomorrow? The speakers just dropped out. And it’s like, oh, okay. We like, yeah, I can. And they’re like, yeah, cause we’ve rung everyone else we can think of and no one’s answering their phones, <laugh>, you know? Yeah. And I remember saying to this one agency, well, what do you want me to talk about? And it’s someone I know reasonably well, and she basically went, we don’t care. You can do whatever you want as long as you’re in Birmingham at this time and you’re doing 45 minutes.

Paul Boross (00:36:47):

Oh nah, no.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:36:49):

And so, and then they, they said to me oh yeah, you know, name your fee? And it was like, no, I’m just, it’s, it is what it is. And  , they were like, you serious? And it was like that this is the point you could have doubled and like, no, I’m fine. I’m all right. Thank you very much. So there’s some funny bit, but I love that one. Yeah, we’ve rung everyone else we could think of because you know what, at least I was on the list.

Paul Boross (00:37:09):

Yeah. <laugh>. Yes.

(00:37:11):

 I, so the question I never asked was, how long is the list? Never asked that.

(00:37:15):

You don’t want to know, do you? No. Which, you know, that’s like the old gag is, how many speakers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Ten. One to screw in the light bulb and nine to go. “That should have been me up there!”

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:37:30):

<laugh>. You see, that’s good. Yeah, it’s a funny world, the speaking world.

Paul Boross (00:37:36):

<laugh>. It is. I would, sorry, this is completely random. I once turned up a speaking gig and I don’t have a rider. Why would I have a rider? And it was an agency that I hadn’t done anything with before. And I got there and they’re like, we’ve got everything that you wanted. I’m like, what? I don’t, and it was literally, you know, so many cans of drink facing this way and so many sweets red and, and, and it was like, I don’t have a rider. And it was an agency that do kind of a lot more acting sort of theatrical musicy stuff. And and then I said, can I have a look at this? And then basically they were so incensed that I didn’t have a rider that they made one up for me <laugh>. And it wasn’t quite Mariah Carey proportions, it wasn’t far off. And then I remember at the end of the, actually this is one pro moment where they went, we thought you were gonna be, I won’t use the word these very difficult and you weren’t. I was like, literally, gimme some warm coffee. I’ll be all right. But yeah, no, but it was, it kind of was very nice. Yeah. Everything was lined up for me. That was, that was very funny.

(00:38:40):

It always reminds me of Spinal Tap. Have you seen the film Spinal Tap?<laugh>, when he’s got the meat and the little bread and he goes, I don’t want this. I dunno, anybody, anybody who’s seen the film will understand that, you were talking about that ability to stand outside yourself and think how ridiculous do you think that in order to be successful, whether that’s in sport in the House of Lords or in life generally, you have to be able to laugh at yourself?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:39:19):

I know people who are very successful who certainly don’t give the outward appearance at laughing at themselves – very serious. I think you have to have self-awareness. Mm, I, I do, I mean, there’s probably people I know who don’t have much self-awareness either. I’m very successful, but I think in kind of the world we’re in now, you, you do have to have the kind of a degree of self-awareness about it. I’d say most people I know do have the ability to kind of look at themselves and just go, you know what, it’s cuz actually it’s about how you get through stuff as well. It’s how you cope with stuff. so, you know, if if you don’t have the ability to find humour or to look at things in a different way, I think it can drag you down. I think it can but maybe that’s just kind of the people I know and I’ve linked with and I’ve associated myself with and um, you know, I don’t, I don’t expect people to be laughing at themselves all the time. But it comes back to what I said before, that kind of humour does sort of attract me to people.

Paul Boross (00:40:22):

You talked about the seriousness of some people and in some situations and, and obviously that’s appropriate in certain times, but do you think humour should be valued in business and in work generally? And do we laugh enough? Is really the point.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:40:44):

We probably don’t I mean, we’ve probably all been on like horrendous, away days team building courses where you kind of all get thrown in together and it’s like, and then I’ve been on ones that are brilliant where you actually do laugh and you have fun and you bond and you get to know different things about people. And it’s really useful. I don’t think we do, it comes back to what’s this line? And it’s different. I think in the real world, in the business world, you can’t, you know, in sport a lot of stuff has been excused with banter, you know, it’s banter like no, no, it wasn’t really. Yes. So, you know, the squad I was in, I would say we had a lot of banter, but it was the right side of, but then I don’t know necessarily how other people took that.

(00:41:32):

I remember doing a, doing a training session with Dave Weir, who’s like one of the fastest men in the world, and we were doing start again. And basically, you know, he would just beat me hands down, and he was trying to help me and then in the end it was like, right, you start five metres back from me and you push with one hand and then see how long I can stay away from you, you know? And I remember him just looking at me and just going, <laugh> and, you know, but there’s humour in locked lots of different ways. So yeah, I think you’ve gotta be careful about where it slips into banter and the wrong humour, but banter can be brilliant at its best, you know, it’s fab.you know, but yeah, I think we’re probably all a little bit more aware of, of some of those things. But I do think for me humour keeps me going. And, and you know, that’s, and it sometimes it can be laugh out loud and sometimes it can just be a look, you know, that, you know, um, I’m not very good at sort of, I can’t, I wish I could do that one eyebrow race, you know, that. There you go. But you know, but sometimes it can just be like,

Paul Boross (00:42:33):

Yeah,

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:42:33):

You know, that’s so like, yeah, the, and you just go. Yeah.

Paul Boross (00:42:38):

You, you studied politics at university and did you have any ambition to go into politics before sport or competing on that or was it a complete surprise afterwards

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:42:52):

But I had no ambitions at 21 to go into politics.  I wanted to be an athlete. I thought my plan was to do law conversion, so it was kind of be in that space and as I kind of went through my time competing and everything else that I was doing I kind of realised politics and achieving change was something that really mattered to me. So apparently there was someone who’d said to my dad when I was 21, she’s gonna end up in the House Lords, I don’t remember that conversation.  , my dad did. But so it was the Lord Lieutenant of Cardiff  who said that to my dad. And I think it was probably where I was gonna end up. I just didn’t see it. But I think I made decisions along the way, you know, I knew, I knew when I retired from sport what I didn’t wanna do.

(00:43:42):

You know, I’m not, I’m not a reality TV type of person, I know what I’m not good at mostly. So, you know, I think it’s very hard when you’re an athlete, when you get kind of offered things and you get shoved in a certain way and it’s very hard to dial back from that. So I think I was really conscious, again, from being in my twenties whatever career I sort of decide to do number when you’ve gotta commit to it and you’ve gotta take it really seriously as seriously as you take drain in a sport and all that. But also if you go down certain routes, it’s quite hard to pivot. Some people do some people do it really well. I knew that I couldn’t, you know, for lots of reasons. So, you know, it was, it was about putting the building blocks in place to think about what next career step was, was going to be.

Paul Boross (00:44:28):

No, it’s just very interesting cuz you’re now a crossbench pier and at a very interesting, shall we just say time in politics <laugh>. So can humour start to bring people together and find some common ground?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:44:44):

It can do. I mean there’s a bit of context around that. I mean, I think there’s, um, this is an Alan Partridge quote well, I can’t, it’s not an Alan Partridge, but they use it funny, peculiar or funny haha. Um, and I think that’s, you know, I think language can be very helpful. And I think in certain circumstances, that says hu humour can as well. At points in politics at the moment I’m struggling to find humour in the situation. Sometimes there may be humour in, not in people as in a bad, in a sort of mean way. But I think it, yeah, that sometimes in politics it’s very hard to, to find the humour, but then it is kind of interesting when you look at people in parliament it can be quite a happy place to work, even though, I mean, there’s lots of levels to this. I, in terms of, you know, you’ll quite often see peers and MPs walking around, smiling, talking to each other, you know, just kind of finding a way through. I mean, that’s not true all the time, you know, it’s, it’s a very mixed bag and depending on the day and what we’re doing and everything else. So we’ve got this thing in parliament and it’s, it’s actually really good. It’s called long Table where you go for a meal. So if you haven’t got anyone to sit and eat with you, you have to take the next free seat. And you, you can sit with a whole range of completely and utterly different people that you would never, normally, potentially never normally talk to. And that can quite often be quite humorous because you might politically massively disagree with the person you’re sitting opposite.  , and you might probably, the fact you’re there at the same time, you’re probably working on the same bit as legislation. So having a different conversation, which is not about the business of the day, kind of gets you through, especially, you know, where we, you know, we do some late nights, you know, especially when you’re grabbing something to eat at seven o’clock and you know you’re gonna still be in the building at two o’clock in the morning. You know, so, so those moments, um, do matter. Yeah,

Paul Boross (00:46:53):

I like the, the idea of Long Table is actually fabulous to me. And because it forces people to stop factionalising and getting into their own mindset and also doesn’t it therefore humanise your in inverted commerce ‘enemies’.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:47:12):

And we also have a lot of rules, um, in the chamber, you know, so you can’t say you, you can’t pin, you can’t, there’s lots of things you can’t do. You have to call people by their titles. Um, this is where language in parliament’s really interesting. So if it’s a fellow cross-bencher, you’re meant to call my noble friend and you can do it. My noble friend, you can do my noble friend

Paul Boross (00:47:35):

<laugh>,

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:47:36):

My noble friend <laugh>, don’t call them my noble friend. And so there’s, yeah, there are these moments that are, and again, comes back to House Lord’s funny or real world funny,

Paul Boross (00:47:49):

But when it goes into Hansard, it will always read the same.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:47:53):

Yeah. So, you know, there are moments where there are some speakers in the Chamber who are just brilliant orators who know how to deliver, and know how to… know what tone to take and how to pick it up, drop it down, and know how to do, do all those different things. That, that is a massive skill. And I don’t think that skill is necessarily appreciated that much. Knowing that skill of, of, you know, how, how to read a room, you know that’s a really big skill to have.

Paul Boross (00:48:35):

You’ve talked about how important it is for people to listen. Especially, I think I I heard you say once that what was the most important thing that you wanted when people were dealing with you? And it is to actually listen to what you are saying rather than just interpret what you are saying. But that reading a room is about listening, isn’t it? And in psychology we call it listening off the top. So you notice the body language, I noticed that when I was talking about this, you just lent in, that’s a part of the listening process. And is that what makes people better as orators as well?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:49:24):

I’ve seen some people learn it and be very effective. And then some people, um, who aren’t in terms of that, you know, being a good orator, there are some people you sometimes expect to be better than they are but I, I think you can learn to be better. I think it’s about having a vulnerabilty ito an extent and putting yourself in the position where you practise, you learn you get better. I don’t think you can just go on, yeah, you can go on a course and you can, you can learn lots of things, but you’ve gotta make yourself quite vulnerable to be better. Cause you, you get improving it. But then I see some people who just can, can nail it and then others who develop it over time. But I think you can, I think it’s always interesting the ones who want to be better and, and want to learn. If, if you ever listen to someone who just doesn’t think they have to improve anything, then it’s like, hmm, okay.

Paul Boross (00:50:22):

But that’s what I think of is listening to properly is is the feedback you are given. Because if everybody in the chamber, for instance, is crossing their arms and leaning back and sort of yawning when you are and you are oblivious to it, then you are not learning, are you?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:50:39):

No. And it’s knowing when to sit down. So, Lord Hesseltine made a couple of speeches recently. I think he’s 90. He did an incredible like 11 minute speech, no notes and just, and so we are very lucky. We get to listen to some what, what, whether you agree with him politically or not. Um, that’s, it’s, it’s the, the quality of the speech. So, you know, there’s something I’ve been working on for seven years and on and off for those seven years I thought about, okay, if we ever get a chance to debate this, I need an amazing speech. And on and off I’ve been thinking about if I said this well, okay, you know, and you’re not thinking about it every other day and then you have a bit more time. Well, if I said that and I’d kind of worked out and I’d written what I still think is one of the best speeches I’ve ever written in the moment.

(00:51:29):

I didn’t need to give it.  , because people agree that the chamber was the right thing to do. And it’s knowing at that moment to go, I’m not doing it. I’m just not, I’m just gonna look at the minister and nod and there’s a bit you come out and go, but that was a really good speech. It was amazing. Oh, well I think it was whether any it, it was kind of quite challenging, but, you know it’s kind of, and I still think it was the right thing to not, and, and I might, I’ll need it again. I, it’s, it’s that there will be a version of it that I will use. But there’s a few things where in in Parliament you’ve got one chance to do it. You can’t do a brilliant speech and then use it again, you know? And so it’s knowing when you’ve got that, that is the most optimum time to use it. There was no humour in it, <laugh>.  , but you know it’s, it’s sometimes it, yeah. That, that awareness is really important. Knowing when to sit down. No, you know, I, somebody said to me, don’t go and speak in a debate where you’re not an expert, cuz there’ll be 40 people in the chamber who are an expert. So, you know, just it’s knowing when to speak up. It’s knowing when not to, and knowing when to just step away.

Paul Boross (00:52:42):

It’s, it’s knowing when to hold them. It’s knowing when to fold them. It’s knowing when to walk away. It’s knowing when to run.  , <laugh>. Yes. To paraphrase the old song. This is an aside slightly. I was right backstage by,the, the People’s Vote Rally when , Lord Hesseltine – Michael Hesseltine was making the speech. And there had been a whole succession of speeches and all great parliamentarians all making,  great speeches. And I wrote on, um, my social media that Lord Hesseltine, made the best speech of the day. And it was, it wasn’t red, it was just off the top of his head. And it extraordinary. And I was amazed that some people who didn’t agree with his politics, which I don’t particularly myself in certain things were, were having a go at me and saying, you can’t say that. And I’m going, I, it was just reporting. It was the best speech.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:53:45):

I love listening to people who are good speakers. Well, like, why wouldn’t you? I mean, who, who wants to listen to speakers who are rubbish?! Or not very good. But I like listening to someone who I disagree with on probably reasonable amount of politics and then go, okay, I need to listen to what they say. That’s, you know, that’s good. And the, you know, the chamber’s really interesting because depending who you are, you get leeway. There are bro brownie points that you get in the chamber and people build up brownie points or they don’t, you know. And you know, Lord, how Jeffrey, how is one of those people that people listen to him. If he wanted to talk for 20 minutes, people would listen. And there’s other people, you know, a lot of stuff we do like, time allocated. Um, you have a, it is called advisory time. It might be five minutes. Some people they get to four minutes and 49 seconds and it’s like, okay, sit down now. Other people, you know what? Just carry on.

Paul Boross (00:54:43):

<laugh>. Well, well it’s interesting, that you talk about that because you are a wonderful speaker and inspirational. A lot of our listeners, you know, panic about speaking. It’s the number one fear in the world, public speaking. What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who has to get up to make a speech?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:55:09):

I think it’s like, know about yourself. Know if you’ve got to read it word for word and know if you, you know, just have point, you know, so practising is really important in that there are some speeches. I write word for word cause they’re very technical. Other ones, I just in a debate recently, it’s about sport. I had a series of points, know my time limit. Go. it’s hard to practise. It’s hard to put yourself in that vulnerable position. But definitely I’ve become a better speaker the more I do it. The other thing as an athlete that you have an opportunity to do is go to loads of schools. And that’s what I say to athletes, go to schools. Cause my goodness they’re a tough audience <laugh>. Yes. Oh, I mean, you know, you’ve got a bunch of primary school kids. I was laughing with my husband about it yesterday actually, saying that we’d gone, he doesn’t come many places with me.

(00:56:00):

And he’d happened to come to this school visit and he was sitting in the background while I’m talking. Cause we were going somewhere together after. And  , after a bit, this kid put his hand and went, who’s he <laugh>? And I said, I ask my husband. And then the teacher was like, oh, where do you have questions? And this kid going, are you going soon? <laugh> I think a lot of my humour has been developed. Oh, do you know? Right. There’s a really sweet one where, I’ve had a giraffe named after me at London Zoo. That is so cool.

Paul Boross (00:56:30):

Congratulations.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:56:32):

And I made the mistake of the first thing I said to these primary school children is I’ve had a giraffe named after me at London Zoo. And then it’s like, miss, have you got a no, you got a cat? No. God no. Um, and you know, the third time someone says, you’ve got a cat, you can’t say to a seven year old, I’ve told you I’ve not got a cat. You go, no, I don’t have a cat. So, you know, actually very good political training. Very good. Yeah. And thene, the youngster at the end sort of stood up to do the thank you speech. Very serious. He had it written out and he said he read it all out beautifully. And then his final comment was, and I think we’d all agree, it’d be better if your giraffe had come instead <laugh>.

(00:57:10):

And so I cry really easily when I laugh, so I’m trying not to laugh cuz it was so funny. And then I’m trying not to, and like the tears are starting to come and he’s like, don’t cry – neutral face. And then I couldn’t do it. And I’m there and I’m go. So I sort of, kind of, I’m crying a bit now and it sort coughed a bit. And then I said Oh, I’m terribly sorry So just, just, I’m coughing, I’m coughing. Think I’m gonna sneeze, you know, and the head teacher was like, you Oh my God, I’m so sorry. So, no, that was really funny. And it, so, and I’m trying not to laugh at this cause he said what he thought, he genuinely thought it’d be better to have the giraffe than me. And it’s like, you know what? At that age, I probably said the same <laugh>. So yeah. Sorry, a long answer here. But, but practise, look, you know, go to situations where you can try stuff out, you know if you can, because that’s, that’s the way to, to get feedback.

Paul Boross (00:58:07):

Oh, I just love that story. It’s out of the mouths of babes

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:58:12):

Amazes me. How many people in business who are, are really high level in business are frightened about speaking?

Paul Boross (00:58:19):

Yes. Oh, I, by the way, I train people all the time and some very, very high level people all over the world. It’s astonishing. It’s like the Jerry Seinfeld quote, you know, when they showed the list of the top 10 things – the top 10 fears in the world and speaking in public was number one. And he goes, that’s not what worries me. What worries me is that death is number six.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:58:46):

<laugh> all

Paul Boross (00:58:52):

thatWe could talk all day, but we’ve reached the point in the show, which we like to call Quickfire Questions.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:58:57):

Quick fire questions.

Paul Boross (00:59:01):

Who is the funniest business person or sports person or, or somebody who isn’t a comedian who you’ve met?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:59:11):

I do some stuff with Sean Fitzpatrick, , ex New Zealand rugby captain. He’s he’s someone that we might not see each other phrases, but when we see each other, we drop back into that kind of like, you know, relationship. And he makes me smile. So probably not laugh out loud, funny, but he kind of picks me up, you know, and he’s always a sensible person to speak to. Um, and he’s funny, he’s good to have around. I mean, especially some kind of sort of, you know, some of the stories and some of the st you know, yeah. Just, and he’s balanced and just, just makes me smile. So he’s fabulous.

Paul Boross (00:59:52):

What book makes you laugh?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (00:59:55):

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. So it’s not like a funny book.

Paul Boross (01:00:00):

Hold on. Is that one book Tan? Yes. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Zombies. So I thought, I thought there were two separate books for a momment.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:00:08):

No, no. So it’s basically a rewrite of Pride and Prejudice, but there are zombies in there. And I love kind of classic literature, you know I did A level English. I kind of love those. I mean, they’re not kind of funny books, but it’s that kind of, language of the time. But then they all go off and fight zombies and it, so it does not laugh out loud, but it just makes me smile. The complete idiosyncrasy of the tone and you know, that kind of style with zombies thrown in

Paul Boross (01:00:40):

<laugh>, I’m gonna look it up because just the title alone is brilliant. What film makes you laugha Tanni?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:00:48):

Mike Bassett, England Manager,

Paul Boross (01:00:52):

<laugh>.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:00:53):

So I think I know all the lines in it but it’s just daft.

Paul Boross (01:01:00):

We’re gonna take a shift to the other side quickly and ask a question. What’s not funny?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:01:08):

Violence against women? I just, for me, that’s the line there is, I personally don’t find anything funny in rape jokes. No, that, that is my line in the sand.

Paul Boross (01:01:21):

What word makes you laugh?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:01:25):

Bottom.

Paul Boross (01:01:26):

<laugh>.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:01:28):

Thank you for laughing. Bottom. I just like bottom. I dunno, it’s just, it feels like kind of, I don’t know, it’s not even a bad or a naughty word to say, but I think it’s just the way you can put so much emotion into it, you know? I don’t know. It just <laugh>. Sorry.

Paul Boross (01:01:48):

You’re just thinking bottom now, aren’t you?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:01:50):

 Bottom, yes. Just sit your bottom. You can, I think it’s because you can kind of go sit your bottom down, you know, where you can kind of sort of be quite sort of out there with… but yeah, I dunno why,

Paul Boross (01:02:03):

What sound makes you laugh? Tanni?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:02:05):

Other people laughing hysterically and crying for something I don’t find funny, so, okay. This is so we’re in, I can’t even remember what we’re watching together. Ian found it hysterically funny. He is crying with laughter. I’m like, that’s not funny. But then I was laughing and I couldn’t stop laughing at him crying.

Paul Boross (01:02:26):

It’s very convoluted, but I get it.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:02:29):

Hiccups as well. Make me laugh.

Paul Boross (01:02:31):

I dunno.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:02:32):

Yeah, I dunno. I, cause it’s not someone’s fault is it? But if someone’s got hiccups,

(01:02:39):

Yeah, I, I, oh, I laugh. Sorry.

Paul Boross (01:02:42):

Penultimate question. You’ve got a very good education. You’re in the House of Lords, would you rather be considered clever or funny?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:02:55):

That’s a really hard one. I any day of the week you asked me this, I could change my mind , I think I’m going to say funny because you have to have an ele to, to be funny and to be able to know the room, you’ve gotta be clever. So I’m, I’m copping out of it really. So I’m basically giving you both.

Paul Boross (01:03:18):

No, no, I think that’s completely valid because I think I’ve never met, funny people who aren’t clever, but the other way round. I have met plenty.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:03:30):

Yeah. I mean, I remember watching various TV programmes with, with Carys, my daughter, and you go, oh yeah, they went to Cambridge. Yeah, they went to Oxford, they went to, you know, you know. Oh gosh. They only went to Exexter. No, don’t just <laugh>. No, it’s a lot of funny, people are very clever because it’s, it the bit with humour, it’s about that line and being smart enough to know what side of the line you are.

Paul Boross (01:03:54):

Finally, our, our final question. Tanni Desert Island Gags, you can only take one joke with you…

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:04:05):

<laugh>

Paul Boross (01:04:06):

…to a desert island. What would it be?

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:04:09):

How would you identify a dogwood tree? By its bark!

Paul Boross (01:04:15):

<laugh> lovely

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:04:17):

<laugh> jokes. I can never remember them.

Paul Boross (01:04:21):

You talked about kids working with kids. That’s the perfect kids joke.

Tanni Grey-Thompson (01:04:25):

Ian is horrendous at dad jokes – absolutely. Just makes me roll my eyes so I sort of smile, but try not smile. And then, and then you at some point you go, that is really stupid. But, um, yeah, I think for me it’s, it’s probably more one liners. So, my favourite,  Alan Partridge’s quote is funny, peculiar or funny. Haha. and then, and this is not funny at all, Um, I use this quite a lot. It’s like a gift that keeps giving <laugh>. But when something is really hard and really challenging and someone says, how’s it going? And you wanna go? So a gift that keeps giving and that, that you see, that makes me smile cuz through really challenging situations, that’s my bit of humour that keeps me going with stuff.

Paul Boross (01:05:11):

Brilliant. Thank you so much for being a wonderful guest on the Humourology podcast. Tanni Grey-Thompson It’s been a pleasure. Thank you. 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.

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