Humourology Podcast

Part of the Humourology series

Season 3, Episode 64

Adrian Walsh – Humour, Humanity and Healing

by | Jun 6, 2022

Ireland’s Ambassador of Comedy, Adrian Walsh, joins Paul Boross to discuss the ins and outs of a career in comedy. With over 300 television comedy credits to his name, Walsh is a master of comedy both on screen and on stage. Walsh shares stories from his remarkable career while offering advice on the value of humour for resilience and recovery only on The Humourology Podcast

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Adrian Walsh

Adrian Walsh has built a career racking up comedy credits as an outstanding stand-up comic. As an expert in laughter and Ireland’s Ambassador of Comedy, Walsh has collected the best anecdotes, tips, and tricks to help you use more humour in your life.

“I’m a great believer that if you can laugh at something, it won’t defeat you. Laughter is like internal jogging. That’s what I’ve always believed – it’s the antidote to troubled times and the perfect release valve.”

Having rapidly recovered from a serious stroke Walsh knows the redeeming power of laughter to aid resilience and ramp-up recovery. Join us this week as Adrian Walsh shares side-splitting stories packed full of knowledge that is perfect for comedians and CEOs alike only on The Humourology Podcast.

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Sometimes we prefer to read rather than listen, so here is a full transcript of the podcast for you to enjoy.
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Adrian Walsh (00:00):
I’m a great believer that if you can laugh at something, it won’t defeat you. Laughter is internal jogging. That’s what I’ve always, it’s the antidote on troubled times. And it’s just a release valve.
Paul Boross (00:17):
Welcome to the Humourology podcast with me, Paul Boross and my glittering lineup of guests from the worlds of business sport and entertainment who are here to share their wisdom and their use of humour with you. Humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve your business success and your life. Humourology puts the fun into business fundamentals. Increases the value of your laughing stock and puts a punchline back into your bottom line. Please remember to like subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. My guest on this edition of the Humourology podcast is a standup comedian with impeccable international insights and integrity. He’s lovingly referred to as Ireland’s ambassador of comedy and is known for his quick wit and versatility. He has made over 300 television appearances and has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of comedy, enabling him to tailor his performance to any audience and venue his work with such international stars as Shirley Bassey Barry Manilow and Gladys Knight and the Pips has made him one of the most sought after comedians in Great Britain. In addition to his ability to captivate comedy and corporate crowds alike, he’s renowned as one of the world’s most resilient performers bouncing back from a stroke that threatened to sideline him from splitting sides. He has developed the world famous ‘Three L’ formula living life with laughter Adrian Walsh. Welcome to the Humourology podcast.
Adrian Walsh (02:01):
Well, Paul, what an introduction! I can’t wait to hear what I’m going to say. <laugh>
Paul Boross (02:07):
And nor can our audience I’m sure. So Adrian, lovely to see you. II know that you were born in Bangor in Northern Ireland.
Adrian Walsh (02:17):
No, no. I was actually brought up in Bangor ,Northern Ireland, but I was born in a place called Banbridge, but there was another comedian there called Gene Fitzpatrick. And when I heard he was there, I moved out when I was eight months old. I didn’t like competition!
Paul Boross (02:31):
<laugh> well, obviously comedy was very important to you, even from eight months old.
Adrian Walsh (02:36):
Of course, of course,
Paul Boross (02:38):
Was comedy and humour valued in your family and in your community?
Adrian Walsh (02:44):
Well, very, very, very much so. My dad took me to the theatre when I was about eight years old, was the Empire theatre in Belfast, a famous old vaudville theatre. And the thing I can remember most is standing outside and the buskers. You had a show before you went in and as an eight year old, I thought that was a show <laugh> I honestly did. Then we went in and there was a comedian came on now at eight years old, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I loved the ambience and the sound of laughter
Paul Boross (03:17):
Was the young Adrian Walsh already compelled to be funny. Were you already practising how to be funny?
Adrian Walsh (03:26):
I always liked things that made adults laugh and that attracted me. And then I developed from that and when I was in school. I had a double act with a fellow called George Emerson and I was the straight man. A lot of people say things haven’t changed much.
Paul Boross (03:46):
<laugh> so, I mean, did this double act actually make you popular at school? I mean, did it help him gaining confidence and ability to find friends? What happened?
Adrian Walsh (03:59):
Yeah. Well, I gravitated to people that made me laugh and George bless him. He had no filter. George was one of these people. He used to come into school and if he was late, a lot of this wouldn’t make sense to any of your listeners, but the teacher would say, Emerson, why are you late? He said, I was coming to work on the egg and the yoke broke. There used to be an advert, go to work on an egg. Yeah. And then the other thing he used to go, why are you late, Emerson? I was eating my two good to hurry mints from the Murray Mints advert. So George was quite topical and not even knowing it. And of course Walsh was always a one that would laugh out loud and make the mistake. But also at school, I was dyslexic at school.
Adrian Walsh (04:45):
I didn’t know that then. And when I was asked to stand up and read, when I came to a word that I couldn’t pronounce the way I got round that I used to put in my own words. And then I found out I was getting laughs with that but then the teacher, Mr. McDonald, at the beginning, I used to hide behind people… Who wants to read? So I would put my hand up between people because I didn’t really wanna read. But then at the end I couldn’t wait to get up so I could get laughs, but he wouldn’t pick me anymore. <laugh> Walsh sit down and stop misbehaving. And that, that attracted me more than knowledge actually – going for the laugh.
Paul Boross (05:24):
Presumably at the time there was no word for dyslexia. It was because I remember I had a brother who people just said, you know, he doesn’t get it. He’s a bit thick.
Adrian Walsh (05:42):
Well, funny enough years later I was working and I got into trouble because I did a joke about how life has changed. If I’d have gone home to my dad and said, Dad they think I’m dyslexic. And my dad said, no, you’re not. You’re just stupid son. And afterwards a lady come up to me and she said, I’m a senior lecturer at a university. And I dunno why she said that to begin with. And she said, I took great exception to the joke you did about dyslexia. I said, well, if it hadn’t been for a dyslexia, I wouldn’t be making a living as a comedian because I couldn’t pronounce her words. And know I used to put in my own words, which got me laughs. And she said to me, a fine story.
Paul Boross (06:24):
Oh my goodness. Yeah.
Adrian Walsh (06:26):
So she obviously wanted, it was all about what offended her.
Paul Boross (06:31):
It is. And, and do you think people are too easily offended now?
Adrian Walsh (06:36):
Well, we live in a world today where we have chronically offended people who, if they’re not offended, they know somebody who might be offended or should be offended. And I think there’s an American comic. I can’t recall his name and he said being offended by a joke was like going into an art gallery and throwing a tea towel over the paintings that you don’t like so nobody else could see them because every joke, the basis of a joke is a target at the end of it. And every joke offends somebody. One of the first things I learned about comedy is when you walk on stage, you are the only one in that room facing the wrong way.
Paul Boross (07:22):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (07:24):
And you have no idea of those people’s political views, their medical records, what emotions they’re going through at the time, they’ve had an argument with somebody, someone in a family is ill and your sole purpose out there is that you want them to have a wonderful evening. No comic deliberately goes out offend, , but I do believe you gotta push the envelope because if you don’t would we still stuck doing jokes that people used to do in the 1400’s.
Paul Boross (07:52):
That’s really interesting, because as I mentioned in the introduction, you yourself had a stroke in 2015, I think it was. And you talk about it in your routine. And I know that you say that medical crisis is no laughing matter, but well, your medical crisis, but you say that a good comedian always speaks about what he knows truth. Is it important to be able to find a way to laugh at illness?
Adrian Walsh (08:25):
Very much so. I always say to young comics, cuz when, when I was a young comedian there were no Comedy Stores. You couldn’t go in and try five minutes somewhere. Our Comedy Stores were the working man’s clubs, cuz that’s what was available. I’ve often believed that if those comics were alive today, they would be doing what the great young comics are doing today. I was lucky enough to do a radio show with Arthur Askey and he said a lovely thing about comedy. He said, every generation is good and every generation is bad. And at the end of the day, it’s a matter of test. And the strange thing about a comic is you can be the greatest surgeon, the greatest accountant, the greatest painter in the world. But even if you are the highest paid comic in the world, I remember reading Joan Rivers’ book – Still Talking – was she at the time was highest paid comic in Vegas man, or woman and a lady, a friend of hers come to see her that she’d gone to college with and they went out for dinner afterwards. And that lady sat there and tried to tell Joan Rivers what she was doing wrong. <laugh> my dad said something to me once he said, everybody’s got two jobs, they’ve got their own job. And they’re all experts in shoe business. It’s like, we love football, but you know, we, we sit there and we it’s much easier looking at it from a distance.
Paul Boross (09:44):
You talk about your own stroke and make it funny on stage.
Adrian Walsh (09:49):
Well, I’ve done that, but I’ve still had letters complaining about that.
Paul Boross (09:52):
Well, that’s what I wanted to know.
Adrian Walsh (09:54):
I do jokes about my stroke, not other people’s strokes. When I had my stroke, I was on stage. I did 2 x 45 minutes while I was having a stroke. Jeez. And the joke that I do, which at least I got to know how my audiences is feeling when they watch my act
Paul Boross (10:12):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (10:15):
And I’m a great believer. If you can laugh at something, it won’t defeat you. Laughter is internal jogging. That’s what I’ve always thought. , It’s the antidote in troubled times. And it’s just a release valve,
Paul Boross (10:30):
But I completely agree with you cuz that’s what the whole Humourology project is about . It’s actually a about understanding that humour can actually be a salve for mental health or whatever. Do you think humour actually in that sense, aids, resilience
Adrian Walsh (10:52):
Very much. Have you ever heard of a man called Norman Cousins?
Paul Boross (10:57):
Yes. Yes. He said he,
Adrian Walsh (10:58):
He wrote two books, The Healing Heart and The Anatomy of an Illness. And when he was 39 years old, he had a massive heart attack and he was told to go home and just sit there do nothing. And he obviously enjoyed laughs in those days. This is how long ago it was. He used to watch daytime television, which was Th Three Stooges. I Love Lucy and The Phil Silver show and he just spent his time watching comedy and reading comedy books. And when he went back for another checkup and they checked his heart, the heart had formed its own bypass because they say laughter releases endorphins throughout the body that are far, more powerful than morphine for suppressing pain. Now I’m not a doctor. I’m the furthest thing from the intellect of that world and anybody can ever be. But that’s what I read. <laugh>
Paul Boross (11:55):
No, well, it’s absolutely true because I mean it releases neuropeptides to fight stress. I mean there’s dopamine, there’s serotonin, there’s the endorphins, as you just said. And actually there is a lot of quite interesting medical evidence that people who smile, people who laugh recover faster from stress. I mean the, the oxytocin is the stress hormone and you know, that’s the one that releases those warm fuzzy feelings that we get. So actually humour is a cure. How important do you think that is? That you can take something that is intrinsically dark and make light of it? Is that a part of the, the human condition that we can control if you like?
Adrian Walsh (12:46):
Well, it’s a strange thing when I had was stroke, because I didn’t have the normal symptoms of a stroke, all I had was heavy legs. It was the next day that I was paralysed down the right hand side and my mouth had dropped and they took me in the hospital and I thought it was Bell’s palsy because – bless my mother-in-law had that. And I thought, oh, I must have got Bell’s pals. And they took me for a scan. Then they brought me back and the doctor came in and this was in Madeira and the doctor came in, he said Mr. Walsh, he said, you’ve had a major stroke. The next 48 hours are crucial. He said, whatever you do, get some rest and relax, `Rest and relax. And you’re waiting for another stroke. And I lay there and I thought to myself, I must be the only person world had a stroke that’s thinking this is 20 minutes material and ever thought it was going to have!
Paul Boross (13:45):
That’s extraordinary, isn’t it? Because I know that your stroke, that usually the kind of stroke you had 80% of people either die or get locked in syndrome. But you have that optimistic attitude where you’re already thinking about, this is material somewhere. From a psychological perspective 95% of your emotions, most positive and negative are influenced by how you talk to yourself. It sounds like you had optimism in the nth degree. How important is optimism, A to recovering and B to being a great comedian?
Adrian Walsh (14:25):
Well, do you know something? I wanna tell you something now my wife will verify this. It took me 20 months to get back to work. And one of the major things that got me back to work, I just bought a new pair of dress shoes in Bond Street. The most I’d ever paired for pair of dress shoes. And I loved them and I’d only had them three weeks and I didn’t want them to go to waste. And that’s how simple it was. I focused on those dress shoes, give me something. I’m definitely gonna wear them again. And then somewhere,
Adrian Walsh (15:05):
I know we’re going through a crisis with the NHS and I, but all I can say is when I got home from Madeira after three weeks in the hospital, I had a, physiotherapist in the house every day for 10 weeks, and then a speech therapist. And even the thing with a speech therapist, you learn tongue twisters – give Papa a cup of proper coffee and a proper coffee cup. She shifted thistles to her thistles shifter. Why in the world would a whale want water? When a whale wants water will a well run dry Betty bought a bit of butter, but she found a butter bitter. So she bought a better bit of butter to make the bitter butter better. And the ironical thing about that is I couldn’t have said that before I had a stroke,
Speaker 3 (15:49):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (15:53):
Laughing at myself and doing, doing silly things. And if you can’t laugh at yourself now I have met people that believe that laughing at themselves, lowerw their dignity, where I believe it’s a total opposite.
Paul Boross (16:06):
I agree with you because I, I think if you can’t laugh at yourself, I think there’s an element of psychopathy about people who can’t laugh at themselves because t’s like my dignity is taken away from me at that, how important you think that is? Cuz a lot of our listeners are in business or whatever. If you are leading a business, how important is it to be able to laugh at yourself?
Adrian Walsh (16:34):
Very much so. I remember I did about 20 years in the corporate market, which can be a very difficult market. You know that Paul, I remember one doing, it was for the Royal Bank of Scotland or the Bank of Scotland. Can’t remember which it was, but it was a video linked to, to all their branches and the head went on, but he walked on stage. And the first thing he did was he folded his arms. To me that closed them right in. I remember doing a thing at The Savoy hotel for a group of accountants and the guy stood up and he said our next speaker I’m I’m told is very funny. He said, I think we’ll be the judge of that.
Paul Boross (17:21):
That’s a lovely introduction.
Adrian Walsh (17:23):
It kills your stone dead. Yeah. So, I stood up, I had a right go at him to start with and he didn’t like it, but he tied me a knots before he even got up. I thought to myself, what a wonderful build down. That’s exactly what he had done for me.
Paul Boross (17:42):
Well, I absolutely. And what people don’t realise is how important that first sort of initial, you know, five, 10 seconds is on stage for the comedian. So if you get introduced by like that, it can blow everything out of the water.
Adrian Walsh (18:02):
Yeah. I seen somebody once introduced her. I was a big fan of Phyllis Diller. She was a great standup Phylis Diller. She did her first DVD when she was 90 years old, bless her. Oh wow. And somebody introduced her one night as the funniest woman in the world. Now you can’t live up to that. Nobody can, nobody can live up to an introduction like that. Or the other one I remember doing a club years ago where a fella had my biog, but which is, you know, selling yourself. But he read the whole two pages <laugh> by the time I got on, there were half asleep <laugh>
Paul Boross (18:41):
And this is a great bit of advice for anybody who has to introduce anybody on stage. He said, just make three statements in ascending order until you get to the, you know, da, da, ladies and gentlemen, Adrian Walsh. And he said, whatever you say it will sound better than if you go, here’s some stuff about, um, he’s been on telly 300 times but whatever you say, cuz some of it is about rhythm, isn’t it?
Adrian Walsh (19:17):
Oh, oh listen it’s amazing how, uh, many comedians were drummers at one time. They’ve got that rhythm about themselves. Now I, when I was a young performer, every comic finished with a song and I took singing lessons with a lady called Leila Webster who was still performing when she was 90. And after two weeks Leila gimme my money back <laugh> <laugh> and she said… I actually breathe outta tune, Paul. My dad taught music with the army and my dad was quite proficient. He could say read music and he’d perfect pitch in his ear, but it didn’t come down to me or my brother.
Paul Boross (20:02):
It sounds like a challenge. I’m gonna get you to sing a song by the end of the <laugh>.
Adrian Walsh (20:09):
I remember Danny La rRe. I did a couple of summers with Danny La Rue and they used to finish with the song I am what I am and I used to mime it. And Danny was such a, he was a so and so at times bless him, and he would walk in front of me and put the mic on me. Cause he knew it was just miming it
Paul Boross (20:32):
I mean, it’s amazing that, that your history in comedy is extraordinary. You are mentioning Danny La Rue who is, you know, huge and you’ve worked with thousands and thousands of comedians over your career. I remember it just reminded me of a quote that Billy Crystal said of Robin Williams. He needed those extra little hugs that you only get from strangers. Do you think that there is something that intrinsic about all comedians that they’re needy and they do need those extra little hugs?
Adrian Walsh (21:10):
Now do you know people always say that’s a very good question. And the reason they say that, cuz they haven’t got a clue what the answer is. <laugh>
Adrian Walsh (21:19):
I think there’s a possibility that because when you have a great night as a comic, there’s no better feeling. I’ve always said the people who audience will never lose with a comic, cuz if they get laughs, that’s great to go outta there happy. And if the comic dies on his ass, they all walk outta there going, thank God I’m not him. The amazing thing is about comedy is… I believe what Jerry Seinfeld said. I like all comics. I don’t care if they’re original. I don’t care if they’re telling old the jokes. I don’t care if they’re blue. I don’t care if they’re clean. I don’t think care. If they’re political, I admire their bravery. Larry Marshall always used to say about comedians was you can say anything about them. They can be right so and sos, whatever. But you cannot doubt their bravery. They walk out there and there’s, there’s nothing behind them.
Adrian Walsh (22:15):
There’s no songs. There’s no impressions. Cuz when you reject a comedian, you are rejecting him. You’re not saying I don’t like the songs. I don’t like the impressions. I don’t like the instrument. I just don’t like you. And every comic, if you go on YouTube and look at all the great comics, there’ll be as about a third people dislike them. Can you believe there was people in life didn’t find Morcambe and Wise funny? didn’t find Tommy Cooper was funny, but I met them I was on the show that Tommy Cooper died on. I was on that night. I was the opening comedian that night. I think Tommy looked at my act and thought this is and show business <laugh> I’m getting out of here bless him. But he was hysterical. Even during the band call, even during the band call, he’d walk on and people automatically laughed at everything he did, but it became hard for him because he couldn’t say anything serious because – I can’t do impressions, but if Tommy Cooper turned around and said, me dad died this morning. People would laugh because of the way he said it.
Paul Boross (23:18):
I I’m interested cuz we had Omid Djalili on the show and he said,
Adrian Walsh (23:22):
I thought he was brilliant by the way.
Paul Boross (23:25):
Oh he is brilliant. Yeah, no he is brilliant. But he said, um, comedians are people who need the laughter of strangers to validate us. We’re all mentally ill. Is that taking it too far? Or is it just that you are addicted to the laughter and the drugs that it releases in your brain,
Adrian Walsh (23:46):
Do you know that wonderful expression a great American politician once said, we have nothing to fear in life, but fear itself. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I think sometimes we and comics are guilty of this. We overthink things. We really, we really do overthink them. And I think that’s what messes them up. Sometimes. When I, when I was doing a summer season, when I was 17 years old, I was with two old comedians, vulnerable comedians, George Daniels and Jimmy Fletcher. And I sat in the middle of him and they taught me how to put makeup on and they would gimme advice about certain things. And I remember one, one night coming off, shaking my head cuz I hadn’t had a good night. And George pulled me into the dressing room and he gave me a telling off. He said, don’t ever, ever do that in your life.
Adrian Walsh (24:37):
He said, you go back and you’d take your encores. Like you stormed it. The other bit of advice. Couple of bits of advice he gave me was he said, when you have a great night and the applause and everyone’s loving you, he said enjoy it. He said, but don’t believe it. It’s for that moment. It’s in that moment. And then Jimmy Fletcher said something to me. He said in your life son, you’re gonna have some great nights. And in your life, you’re gonna have some terrible nights. He said, but no matter how bad that night is, remember one thing, anyone in a graveyard would swap with you.
Paul Boross (25:14):
I agree. And obviously, you know, this is essentially a business podcast because people will listen to this. So they, they can take away things as well as be entertained and amused. And what advice would you give to somebody? Everybody at some stage has to get up and do a speech, whether that’s at a wedding or in their company or at a conference or something. What is the piece of advice? Cause you’ve talked about warmth. How do you do that?
Adrian Walsh (25:45):
You know, you’ve, you’ve stated this quite a few times. And so of many of your guests about standing in front of an audience is above death.
Paul Boross (25:56):
Yeah. The fear, the biggest fear in the world is speaking in public and death is number six on that list.
Adrian Walsh (26:03):
Well, I’ve done both at the same time. <laugh>
Adrian Walsh (26:10):
I think when, when you get up to speak, Don audience wants you to be funny; business can be so serious nowadays and everybody’s going for the bottom line and everybody’s push, push, push, and I’ve written speeches for many businessmen, but I try and put, I try to say don’t, don’t put your jokes in, put aside in little sides and be yourself. And when you walk on there, it’s not that important. Even if it doesn’t go, well, my first television show was a show called, Be My Guest for Granada TV. I think I was about 22 at the time. And Paul Daniels was hosting it. And Paul said to me, are you nervous? I said, yeah, yeah, I’m bricking it as you would, your first TV show. And Paul said a lovely thing to me. He said, you know, if you go, well, that’s great. And if you don’t go, well, you know, that’s not so good. He said, but the queen will still be the queen, the prime minister, still the prime minister. It won’t change anything. Don’t put too much importance on it.
Paul Boross (27:14):
I think that’s a great bit of advice. The not putting too much importance. And, and the funny thing is with my background in psychology, what I try to do with people is, I say really don’t have an ambition to make people laugh because it’s, it’s too big a leap. And it it’s like, I must make them laugh, actually. Really what you want to do is if you can connect with them, that’s good enough. And by the way, the laughs are more likely to come if you’ve connected with the person.
Adrian Walsh (27:48):
I remember doing a thing. It was the first time I did an all ladies dinner and the chairwoman was there and she got up to speak before me and she’d suffered from,,, she had multiple cirrhosis and, uh, she got up and she, she started talking about it and she had said, and the trouble is at the end of it. She said, the biggest trouble was you never get ready on time. And she took her little hat off that she had on. And she still had her curlers in underneath it. And it brought the house down. It brought just a simple thing like that. But she talked about what she knew
Paul Boross (28:25):
That laugh takes me on to my next question, which is what makes you laugh, Adrian?
Adrian Walsh (28:30):
I think what makes me laugh now is getting old because August the 10th, last year I turned 50 and 264 months.
Paul Boross (28:42):
You’re looking good on it.
Adrian Walsh (28:44):
Yeah. So you want a calculator on that one? <laugh>
Paul Boross (28:47):
That makes you laugh because it’s inevitable because it’s that your current situation.
Adrian Walsh (28:54):
Yeah. Yeah. But, but it’s also some of the things you do as you’re getting older, uh, I’ll go through a few of these Paul and see what’s happening in your life. Have you ever got in the shower, turned, the shower on and you looked down and you got your socks on. Not that one one yet. You will do. You will do. Uh, another couple is, have you ever taken a pair glasses off that you haven’t actually got on?
Speaker 4 (29:22):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (29:25):
Have you ever tried to put a pair of glasses on top of the pair of glasses you’ve already got on? And the wonderful thing about glasses, is the exercise you get! Unbelievable looking for them.
Speaker 4 (29:38):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (29:38):
And then as you get older, you find yourself halfway up the stairs. You don’t know whether you’re going up to come down and down to come up and the dogs at the bottom of the stairs going, he’s gonna feed me again. And I’ve I have no idea at the age of 72. I have no idea why they call us old farts, because believe you me at this age, there’s a new one, every 10 seconds, Paul. But I’m sorry to lower the tone there.
Speaker 4 (30:05):
Oh, well, yeah. Well that’s just disgraceful
Adrian Walsh (30:09):
Even the body. The body starts to fall down. I’m at the age now where I actually look younger when I’m hanging upside down At this look, look, look at this. I’ve got the DNA for turkey, Paul
Speaker 4 (30:21):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (30:24):
The first time I discovered that was, I thought that myself, I don’t have to buy a travel pillow anymore.
Speaker 4 (30:31):
<laugh>
Paul Boross (30:33):
If I asked you because a lot of people as I said before, listen to the podcast for business tips. And if I asked you to write a business case for humour, what would you include in that? It’s really, why, why should businesses encourage humour in the workplace? Why, why should they?
Adrian Walsh (30:56):
Because if you’ve got a relaxed atmosphere, people are gonna be a lot more productive. And that atmosphere is, is, is relaxed because people have the ability to laugh themselves and laugh at life and then get on with it. It gives you that little lift during the day, It’s like a little injection of adrenaline and why not try it? If you’re going into work every day, dreading your boss or anyone else is miserable, you are not gonna be productive. It’s gonna close you down. You have often said it when you go into the subconscious, especially when you’re writing jokes and you’re not even thinking about it, you’re being most productive. But when you think really when you think too hard, it stifles you, it makes you tense, tighten up. We all wanna be around people that, that are joy to be around.
Paul Boross (31:50):
I think you’ve touched on something. That’s really interesting that when people are relaxed, they are more creative and so they can bring more to your business. And also that relaxed atmosphere means I think communication is clearer and better because when people tense their ability to communicate diminishes,
Adrian Walsh (32:14):
When you go into businesses and even at a function, you can sense what that business is like in the atmosphere. And you can also sense when you do a joke. If they look at the top guy, whether he’s gonna laugh or not, if you’re free to do jokes about the top guy, you know, you know, there’s a good atmosphere there.
Paul Boross (32:34):
So on that point, do you think that you can be a great communicator without intrinsically understanding humour?
Adrian Walsh (32:45):
Well, Rabbi Lionel Blue, once said a lesson taught with humour is a lesson learned,
Paul Boross (32:51):
Oh, that’s nice
Adrian Walsh (32:53):
Going back to teachers. I remember I left the secondary school at the technical college and we hadn’t done any, mechanical drawing where the other kids had done three or four years in front of it. We had a teacher called Haton Wilson and Haton Wilson had a wonderful personality and enjoyed a laugh with the lads. And he got us all through our O levels as it was in those days, uh, the top three grades, everybody in the class. And it was just the way he taught and we relaxed with him. We went in, we weren’t fearful about it, and he didn’t put too much emphasis on the end result. He put the emphasis on, on the learning and enjoying the learning.
Paul Boross (33:38):
Well, it’s really interesting that, that you are putting those two things together, that the learning and the laughter, because I do think that that learning is enhanced by laughter. And that’s why I asked the question about what, what can it bring to business? But too often, I see people going, you know what, the, the first thing that’s going to have to go is the training budget or this or that. Whereas the last thing it should go is the training budget or the away days, or the fun, because then you’re fighting an uphill battle about the, the whole feeling in the company, the, the, the way people communicate on the basic level.
Adrian Walsh (34:21):
Well, what you’re doing is breaking the team up.
Paul Boross (34:26):
That’s
Adrian Walsh (34:26):
Interesting. Cause I remember going to do a dinner once at JCB, the headquarters there. And I walked in and it was 10 tables, but there was about 15 to 20 feet between them. And I remember an old pro saying something to me when you want to do a corporate. He said, when you see that, he said, get the tables moved a bit closer. He said, because what you’ve got is 10 audiences instead of one audience. And it’s like, when you walk out onto a theatre and you don’t have many people in and they’re seated all over the place, they act individually, they don’t act as an audience. And if your team are not happy together, they will act as individuals. And they will act in their own interest instead of acting in interest of everybody.
Paul Boross (35:16):
Because I, I don’t think it’s just it’s not about making people laugh. It’s having good humour. Yeah. To be full of Bon ami and, and good humour.
Adrian Walsh (35:27):
Isn’t a lovely to be around up people. I have, I have met people that they’ve got a problem for every solution
Paul Boross (35:34):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (35:36):
And, and after a, while you go, why don’t you try this? Why don’t you? And they come up and you go, and you can feed your body language. You can feed your shoulders going and your head going. And you just, what’s the point. You don’t want people like that,
Paul Boross (35:51):
But isn’t all business about relationships? In fact there’s, an American study that says 85% of all your success in life is down to the quality of your relationships. And, and laughter really is the lifeblood of any relationship. Isn’t it?
Adrian Walsh (36:12):
Well, well, even, even in marriage’s more people stay together because they laugh together. And for any other reason. Here speaks a man 50 years married.
Paul Boross (36:23):
You know, when it’s the old gag
Adrian Walsh (36:26):
I’m survivor of everything. <laugh>
Paul Boross (36:31):
You could have killed a man and been out by now. Fair enough. The old gags,
Adrian Walsh (36:38):
Nowt wrong with an old gag in the right place. Don’t, don’t forget. Some gags are so old that they’re new again, Paul,
Paul Boross (36:46):
Actually, I always say there’s no such thing as an old gag. There’s just a new audience.
Adrian Walsh (36:51):
Yeah. And then if somebody’s using old gags, surely recycling is not a problem.
Paul Boross (36:59):
There you are. We’re thinking of the planet.
Adrian Walsh (37:01):
Yeah. Thinking of the planet. <laugh> but it’s no one of the side effects I had after my stroke. I waken up in the middle of the night laughing and February would say a lot of old jokes used to come into my head and just silly, stupid idiotic jokes. One of the byproducts of a stroke is you, you get plasticity, which your body moves and shakes and the muscles jump right at the beginning. And I’ll never forget. My kids bought me a Fitbit. And I used out to try and increase my steps and, and on the road to recovery, and one night I fell asleep in bed when my Fitbit on. And when I woke up in the morning, I done 196 steps
Paul Boross (37:50):
<laugh>
Adrian Walsh (37:52):
And I hadn’t left a bed, but waking up all the time and waking up and then trying to get to sleep, and then these stupid jokes will come into my head. But thankfully through neuroplasticity, a lot of that is gone
Paul Boross (38:08):
Well, you’re building new neural pathways, aren’t you literally, so, and that is what neuroplasticity is, isn’t it? So you, you have to build them them again. Fantastic.
Adrian Walsh (38:19):
Just don’t sk me to spell it, Paul <laugh>
Paul Boross (38:21):
Well, exactly, but actually it’s really interesting that, you know, you talked about being a survivor in marriage, but you are a survivor in life. And actually I love the fact that you’ve created so much based on humour. And I would actually argue that, you know, we’re all going to get sick at some stage in our lives.
Adrian Walsh (38:48):
Life is a terminal disease. Nobody ever gets out of it alive. Do they?
Paul Boross (38:53):
But understanding that actually you can overcome some of the biggest obstacles in life as you have through the assiduous use of laughter.
Adrian Walsh (39:04):
Well, well, Vivian and I laugh a lot and we laugh a lot at the same things. And I honestly believe, uh, my mom was one of six girls and I think women have a better sense of humour sometimes than men have. I don’t think women take themselves as seriously as men do.
Paul Boross (39:20):
Well, maybe they just laugh at men who
Adrian Walsh (39:23):
<laugh> that’s probably well, well, but it’s one of the jokes I, I, I do about my stroke, where I, I lost two stone when I had my stroke, but I go to the gym three days a week. And then I work out at home three days a week, Saturday’s football day. But I, I put on 14 pound back on in muscle pure muscle. And I do the joke about standing in a bedroom and me jockey shorts, flexing, reflecting. And I look at my wife and I said, what would you like to do with this body? And she said, identify it.
Paul Boross (40:08):
Uh, that is a great gag, uh, which takes us to the part of the show that we like to call quick fire questions,
Speaker 4 (40:16):
Quick fire questions.
Adrian Walsh (40:20):
Take me take
Paul Boross (40:27):
Who is the funniest business person that you’ve met?
Adrian Walsh (40:31):
I worked with many over the years, but the one I, I really enjoyed was, uh, Tony ball. Tony ball was a man that launched a mini. And also he he’s Michael ball’s father singer. Yeah. Tony ball was a wonderful speaker. Absolutely superb.
Paul Boross (40:53):
But why was he so good? What did he do? That was different and better?
Adrian Walsh (40:57):
Well, well, he talked about life and he talked about himself and the other one of a great, he started off as a businessman. Speaker was Bob the CAD Bevin.
Paul Boross (41:07):
Oh yeah.
Adrian Walsh (41:08):
I remember Bob was very, very good, uh, lot, lots of them and all, but it always surprises me sometimes how bad some of them are looking back and Shely nerves as well. I’ve seen them, you know, hold the script and, and she can be shaking.
Paul Boross (41:26):
What, what would you give? I mean, because talking about nerves, obviously I work with people who have nerves and say, what’s, what’s your biggest piece of advice for people to get over nerves,
Adrian Walsh (41:37):
Plenty of work on what you’re going to do. But then before you go on, distract yourself from a don’t think about it because the brain will work over time and, and you’ll be working, you know, you know, that lovely thing about somebody once said to me about, if you’re sitting at home and you crunch up a piece of paper and you, and go straight in the newspaper bin, but if there’s three or four people around and you try and do it, never go into bin, didn’t you do that lovely thing with 20 young cricketers. And they brought them in and they said, there’s a blue patch in front of the wickets knees were young. Lads were going to be professional. Cricketers said, if, if you hit the blue patch, you stay in, in the game and 19 or 18 hit the blue patch. And then they brought them in the next day, 20 different young guys said, if you miss the blue patch, you’re out and there’s only seven of ’em hit it.
Paul Boross (42:39):
That’s where you put your attention.
Adrian Walsh (42:41):
But isn’t it. Some somebody said about golf. Golf is there. I don’t know about the story. About 10,000 times putting 10,000 times, uh, you do it from the backy or your brain, but then once you bring into the four, what do your brain, you overthink it,
Paul Boross (42:57):
Which is by the way, why the first chapter of my first book and the pitching Bible was called it’s all about them. Because, and I think I’ve said this on the show before, but the, the conscious mind can only hold between five and nine pieces of information, whereas the unconscious mind. Yeah. <laugh> well, yeah, some of us, uh, but the unconscious mind holds millions of pieces of information. And if, if somebody said to you, you have to remember every joke you are about to do.
Adrian Walsh (43:26):
You’re dead.
Paul Boross (43:27):
Yeah. You’re dead. And actually what you have to do is, uh, the same way that when we have a chat, we just engage with each other and allow all the unconscious to come up. So that’s kind of, my tip for nerves is put your attention deeply somewhere else, where that’s one person or an audience or something else, and you’ll do it.
Adrian Walsh (43:48):
Listen, I listened to something. Once Peter smuggle that was talking about, and he said, he asked an old goalkeeper. He said, have you got any advice? He said a simple, he said, what do you mean? Somebody said, do your job. He said, what do you mean? He said, don’t go out, down, press the manager. Don’t go out, down, press the rest of the players. Don’t go out, down, press anybody in the crowd. Just focus on your job. Do your job, do the best of your ability and enjoy it. When I first went into shoe business, uh, I grew up in the, in the sixties. I, I loved the Beatles, the hos, all that. And, and the one person that I never got was Frankie Vaughn. My mom, bill Frankie Vaughn. My first week’s cabaret park hall at Charlie. After doing working men’s SLS for a few years, then you gravitate gravitate to the working men’s SLS was 44 of them all run. Britain was park hall at Charlie. I was with Frankie Vaughn and I sat and watched him every night for seven nights. He was sensational. And he said to me, a couple of things. He said, when you walk on stage, he said, stop halfway and take a by. And I said, why Frankie? He said, let them look at the suit.
Adrian Walsh (45:14):
He said, cause the first 20 seconds they listen with their eyes.
Adrian Walsh (45:19):
Ah, and he said, it also gives you time to compose yourself. And you’ve taken your mind off what you’re thinking about. You’re going, Hey, what do you think of the suit? Now that doesn’t nowadays, I suppose that all the dressing has totally changed. Uh, but it worked in those days, but I never seen anyone get bars the way Frank Yvonne did. He was a master craftsman and I did five years with Val Dungan and the way he walked around stage and he never changed the word in the act one night, but you would’ve sworn. It was the first time he ever told those stories. He was, I used to say to young comics, go and watch foul during don’t wanna watch him for. I said he, 26 years on live television, I said, the man is a marsh craftsman. And what he does go watch away. Walk walks around the stage, the warmth, the little sides, the little laughs here and there. It’s like choreography at its best.
Paul Boross (46:22):
And by the way, the best thing you can ever do. And this is for all our listeners is to actually, uh, model people who do it. You know, you said VALIC and was a blast from the past, but 26 years on television,
Adrian Walsh (46:38):
He had the, I went out to Canada with him and everything, but he had audiences, no matter how well I did. And I, I never had a bad night with all. I’m gonna put my hand in my heart and say that, no matter how well I did, he walked on to a bigger applause, cuz they’d come to see him. And he, but he, but he was relaxed in who he was. I, I remember the first night he said tonight, I’d like to introduce you my special guest star. I turned around to see who was
Paul Boross (47:06):
<laugh> I think in life. And this is a, a humanology tip is that people forget to compliment each other and, and, and, and say something nice. Find something nice to say about somebody today. If you’re listening to this podcast, find something nice to say about somebody you’ll change the way they feel about you. It’s just, I mean, what are those simple things in life? And anyway, what book makes you laugh, Adrian?
Adrian Walsh (47:35):
Well, as you know, we’ve talked about this. There is Gary Marshall. It’s wake me when it’s funny. It’s the autobiography, uh, of a writer in Vegas and on television. And the comics used to get drunk or high on pot. And they always used to say to him, don’t you wake me unless it’s funny. Now that’s a pressure. It’s a wonderful book. And I really enjoyed it.
Paul Boross (48:03):
Oh, fantastic. I, I I’m, I must reread it. What film makes you laugh?
Adrian Walsh (48:09):
I love anything by Mel Brooks always made me laugh, but going back, one of the first films I remember made me laugh consistently and I’ve watched it again quite a few times is it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. J just as some, some wonderful 38 38 stars in that movie, they made little came in wonderful comics like Dick, Sean, have you ever seen D Sean?
Paul Boross (48:36):
I only in that film.
Adrian Walsh (48:38):
Yeah, but if you look Dick Sean, up on YouTube, you’ll see where Robin Williams got his in his inspiration from as long as well as Jonathan Winters.
Paul Boross (48:48):
Well, let’s take a shift to the other side now because, um, I always ask, I guess what’s not funny.
Adrian Walsh (49:00):
I think every comic has got their own filter. You know, it was Chaplin had said when it bends. It’s funny when it breaks. It’s not funny. So if the guy falls down and gets straight up again, it’s funny. If he falls down and his legs broken and they gotta stand for an a, it’s not funny. And then they always say, you know, the Gilford, Gilbert gold free line too soon. Some things are too soon, but within time everybody will laugh at them.
Paul Boross (49:31):
So your, you would go with the, um, uh, comedy as tragedy plus time.
Adrian Walsh (49:38):
Probably, probably I, I remember the wonderful Liverpool comedian died and there’s a lot of comics turned up at the funeral And the coffin was going through in the crematorium. And one of the comics turned around to the other comic and he said, what a wonderful comic. So and so was, and the other comic said, would you be quiet? His ears would be burning. Now I know the comic that passed away. He would’ve loved that.
Paul Boross (50:11):
Yeah. Yeah.
Adrian Walsh (50:13):
And, and I hope when I pop my clogs, remember me and laughter I don’t remember me at all.
Paul Boross (50:21):
Yeah.
Adrian Walsh (50:22):
People that you’ve lost in your life, the things you remember about them is the laughter they brought you and how and how they made you feel.
Paul Boross (50:32):
Well, it’s the old quote. Isn’t it about? You know, people won’t remember what you said to them. Won’t remember what they saw in you. They only remember how you made them feel.
Adrian Walsh (50:41):
Yeah. I think that I, I, I love coaches, you know, but I think you don’t stop laughing when you get old, you get old because you stop laughing.
Paul Boross (50:49):
You’ll never get old. That’s for sure. So what word makes you laugh? Adrian?
Adrian Walsh (50:57):
CLA
Paul Boross (50:59):
<laugh> it’s it’s it’s kind of book ended. Isn’t it from a child to an older person is always funny.
Adrian Walsh (51:07):
Yeah. Cause, well, the first time I heard that, I didn’t know there was a password for it. <laugh> The, the older word that always made me laugh was fond. W dosy I don’t know why from the crank case, it was just, just a word covers everything, you know, when you’re in a good mood, how you feeling fun. Happy does it?
Paul Boross (51:27):
Next question I was gonna ask is what sound makes you laugh. But I think I might have, uh, had a little peep into what that could be.
Adrian Walsh (51:38):
Let me think. Let me think. Yeah, we’ll go. That one. <laugh> and watched. Uh, well, when we went one way, I seen blazing saddles. I am not, my wife will verify this. I fell on the floor, Paul. I was on the floor. I thought it was gonna have a heart attack.
Paul Boross (51:57):
Well, that is the ultimate thought gag. Isn’t it really?
Adrian Walsh (52:01):
Oh yeah. Sadly
Paul Boross (52:04):
Brilliant. Would you rather be considered clever or funny?
Adrian Walsh (52:11):
Well, looking at my exam results, <laugh> uh, much rather be funny much, but there are many people that are, are both Stephen Fry, Peter Houston, of all these, you can be, you can be both and it’s a bonus to be both, but I I’m, I’m quite, I’ve been quite happy if someone stood up and Anne said he was a funny, so and so I’ll do me
Paul Boross (52:36):
Well, that’s the that’s brilliant. And finally, Adrian desert island gags, you can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What is it?
Adrian Walsh (52:49):
Ooh. Now for the next six or seven hours, we will be recording once. Funny enough, humour is more direct in its interpretation of history than history books are because it is seen from both sides of the Victor and theist. It’s amazing that isn’t it. Most history books are, are written from the side of the people that win bottles or are dominate people. I’m going prove to you now that history, uh, and, and life doesn’t really change that much. This joke goes way back. I think even to the 14 hundreds, There’s two guys coming home from the pub one night where the pops into 14 hundreds. So I’m sure by, uh, And they were walking through the graveyard and they got lost and I thought, they’d wait till the mornings. So they take up the time they thought they’d read what’s on the headstones. And one was reading one quite a away away. And the other fellow was reading. He started laughing. The other fellow come running over. He said, Charlie, what are you laughing at? He said, look at this. He said, he lies a honest man and a politician. He said, what’s funny about that. He said, you’d wonder how they got the two of them in the same coffin.
Speaker 4 (54:27):
<laugh> okay.
Paul Boross (54:32):
Topical today as it was in the 14 hundreds. Well,
Adrian Walsh (54:36):
You put it on whoever you want.
Paul Boross (54:39):
It’s a great gag.
Adrian Walsh (54:41):
Uh, I work with a, a new audible comic called Albert modelly and it was a tribute to him. Uh, it was my generation, the twenties or thirties or forties or 50 sixties and seven. He was in his eighties and he was retiring. I was at a function in Mor and, uh, he, I think he told that joke that night or somebody else did and I’d never heard it. And it, it always stuck in my head.
Paul Boross (55:06):
It’s a great gag. And you’ve been a great guest. Um, I think you can be guaranteed that whenever you go, which will hopefully in be in about 45 years time. Yeah. They will say he was a funny, so, and so
Adrian Walsh (55:22):
Can I stop you there? I know what I want on my headstone.
Paul Boross (55:26):
Oh my goodness. What’s that?
Adrian Walsh (55:28):
He’s not here yet.
Speaker 4 (55:30):
<laugh>
Paul Boross (55:34):
Adrian Wal. You are a funny, so and so, and I thank you so much, being a brilliant guest on the
Adrian Walsh (55:39):
Humanology podcast. Thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Paul Boross (55:44):
The humanology podcast was hosted by Paul ver Ross and produced by Simon banks, music by Steve Hayworth, creative direction by Les Hughes and additional research by Helen Sykes. Please remember to subscribe like and leave a review. Wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a big sky production.