Humourology Podcast

Part of the Humourology series

Season 2, Episode 2 Part Two

Ainsley Harriott – Food, Friendship and Fun

by | Jun 7, 2021

Ainsley Harriott – award-Winning Chef and TV personality – returns to The Humourology Podcast to reminisce with Paul Boross about their time on stage. Ainsley discusses the value of treating your staff like family and creating an environment where everyone can be themselves.

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Ainsley Harriot

Award-Winning celebrity chef and TV personality Ainsley Harriott continues his conversation with his childhood chum Paul Boross. The two reminisce on their days sharing the stage and expand on the power of humour in human connection.

Years of experience have taught Ainsley that the best teams are filled with people who feel valued. Ainsley knows that when the set is filled with a crew ready to laugh the production will be perfect.

Ainsley knows that the power of humour is most evident within oneself. What is the key to a healthy and happy life? Ainsley says it’s an ability to be yourself and have a laugh along the way.

Join us this week for a continued meeting of old mates and loads of laughter that is sure to brighten your day. Only on The Humourology Podcast.

To find out more about what Ainsley has been up to

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Ainsley Harriott – Food, Friendship and Fun – Part Two

– I love kids, kids jokes too, you know? Like the cowboy that goes to the doctor, he says to the doctor, doc, he said, I don’t feel so well. The doctor says, how long has this been going on? He said about a yeehaw. Isn’t it lovely?

– 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 going to share their wisdom and their use of humour with you. Humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve 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. My guest on this edition of the Humourology Podcast is a multi award-winning chef, entertainer, and fabulously fun force of nature. After almost three decades as one of the country’s favourite TV chefs, he is monomerous, meaning that like Britney, Beyonce, and Bjork, he is one of that rare breed of stars who is identifiable by one name only. Probably still best known for his 21 series of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, and with many solo primetime cooking series under his belt, he’s become a master of the fresh, fun, accessible cuisine. If it’s charisma and warmth you’re after, with a little bit of laughter, he’s the one that you want on your speed dial. Ainsley Harriott. Welcome to the Humourology Podcast, mate.

– I love that, Britney and Bjork.

– Going back to our comedy store days, and jongleurs, and all the places we played around the world. Actually you just, we never explained earlier on, we played at 3000 feet because we were–

– 30,000.

– 30,000.

– 3000 feet, we’d be in a parachute wouldn’t we? 33,000 feet, we’re now running at 33,000 feet.

– Oh, we did play at 33,000 feet, going to Miami and to New York we played. Is that the weirdest place you’ve ever played, on a plane?

– Well, yeah, people talk about the mile high club. I think that’s it. You know, performing with shakers, maracas, guitar and everything else up there. That was amazing. And that because of the sound, that kind of hollow sound that you get inside of aircraft. It was amazing though. Being able to perform, and sing, and bring some joy to people and, you know, and the captain turning around and saying, that’s fantastic. And everyone was saying how much they enjoyed their flight.

– We went in and did a little song for the captain, in the days when you could get into the cockpit. We did a little number for the captain, I remember.

– And the copilot, or whatever it is.

– [Paul] That was amazing, wasn’t it?

– Lovely.

– So what makes you laugh? I mean, in terms of comics, and people, and…

– Children mainly. I mean, I love my dog who’s consistently barking out in the garden now because he’s, by the way, he’s a little bit wet–

– Should we let him in?

– Yeah, he can come in if he wants. Come on in, Bob. Come on in, come on in, and just walk past. Come here, come here. He’s just going off there, hello. How are you? Hey? Now sit down. Sit down, sit down, and up you go. Say hello to everybody. This is Bobby. Are you all right, Bobby? Bobby’s very wet, and oh my God. Look at this drips. Sorry guys, sorry guys. This will go all over, 30 seconds. I think we’ll use this towel here, and we’ll give him a very quick rub. I’ll put this towel straight into the wash afterwards. This was for your hands. Yeah, you are one very, very wet dog, and I love you, there you go. All right. right, goodbye. Go, go! Bloody wet floor, look at all of this. Sorry about that. This is what happens sometimes when you have a pet dog. No, we don’t want you here anymore! Go on, out! Put this in the wash, goodbye. Goodbye, thank you.

– Can he get through there? Yeah, he can.

– Yeah, now what were we talking about? Where were we?

– [Paul] Oh, what makes you laugh.

– What makes me laugh? I think that–

– Oh, come and sit down. We need you in the shot.

– [Producer] You’re in shot.

– [Ainsley] That’s okay.

– [Producer] It’s being home with Ainsley, right?

– Yeah, yeah, yeah, it really is. It really is, yeah. I think, you know, what really makes me laugh is children. I think children are so uninhibited. They don’t care, you know? They just love, children just kind of, they’re so innocent, you know? It’s not programmed or anything else. What comes to light really comes to light. If they’ve got something to say, they’ve got something to say. I love kids jokes too, you know? Like the cowboy that goes to the doctor. He says to to doctor, doc, he said, I don’t feel so well. And the doctor said, how long has this been going on? He said, about a yeehaw. Isn’t that lovely? It’s just so simple. I remember a kid telling me the joke, and I thought that was fantastic. Yeehaw. Bit like the pandemic, isn’t it? Yeah, there you go.

– That’s a brilliant gag. We worked with most of the great comics of the era, I mean, over the nine years we worked with all the Jack Dee’s, the Jimmy Clairy’s, the Paul Merton’s, and everything like that–

– Alan Davis’s.

– Alan Davis’s. Who are, I mean, it may not be from the era we worked with them, but who are the people that make you laugh?

– It really is a, you know, we talk about that whole period of going through schooling, and we used to come round to our friends that we were at school with, and you used to like your Monty Pythons. You guys loved your Monty Pythons, which I found quite funny, but I think there was not much choice. And then I was released for a friend of mine, Robin Dawson, to Richard Pryor. Was only on an album. So blue, so filthy, but so exciting at the time because I never heard anything like that before. So, you know, the old days, it was Richard private, sort of, you know, bought humour, like, you’d never heard anything like that. It’s exciting. It was uplifting. It was about you. It’s about being Black and, you know, the challenges and everything else. It just, and you found a way of laughing at it, and we all do, you know! It’s like sickness. If you can find a way around laughing at things sometimes, or death, it’s just a way of dealing with it. Sometimes it’s a release for a lot of people. But later on you, you know, you mentioned someone like Alan Davis. I think we were at the comedy store for his very first gig?

– Yeah!

– And, you know, it was just unbelievable for someone to walk on. and to capture a room like that. You know, a lot of the old pros that just kind of have a bit of a routine that they’ve been doing for years, and still funny, but yeah. Tommy Cooper never changed his act. You know, he did the same act everywhere he went. But yet what a funny person. Talk about how people are funny. He was just funny. Just the look of him. I know he looked a bit clumsy, but he was just funny. And so it’s a, you know, what makes me laugh today? I say children, because a lot of modern day comics, I don’t connect with it. I don’t see, you know, I don’t have that same belly laugh. But I wonder if it’s something to do with me getting a little bit older? I still laugh at stuff, but sometimes when you’re young, and it’s the first time you go somewhere and someone swears on stage, it is so funny! And, you know, for us now having done thousands and thousands of times, give me something else. What else needs to be done? But funny is just funny. Sometimes we sit down here and have a breakfast on a Saturday morning, and we are giggling at, I don’t know what! Nothing. We look back at something we did at school once, or call each other a certain name, or something that might have happened just walking down the road. And we just look at each other, we have the same kind of understanding. And there’s something really special about that. Being with a mate and just not having to, what was that wonderful thing that David Niven said all those years ago? He said one of the most comforting things, he says, is that you can tell when you are with a really close friend because you feel no pressure in the silence. It could just be utterly silent. You don’t feel any pressure, I don’t need to say anything. If I just want to sit here and be silent, I could be silent with them. And then when I’m ready to say something, I can say it. There’s no pressure, but you can always tell when you don’t feel right when you’re with someone, and then you kind of think, oh, what should I say now, what should I do now? Or, sorry, I’ve got to go, look at the time. You know, that type of thing. Whereas real friendships, you don’t have to think about it. You know, they can use your downstairs loo.

– Thank you.

– Lovely.

– It reminds me, but we do laugh like children–

– Belly laugh.

– And all our, because we have known each other so long, all our girlfriends have always said, and our wives have always said, you’re just like two kids even to this day. And we do have that thing. And, God, I think that’s the most wonderful thing. To laugh like children is joyous, isn’t it?

– Oh God, absolutely. Tears laughter, you know? We occasionally have that tear laughter which, let’s face it, it’s hard. It’s hard to find that now. That’s what I’m saying! You know, what makes you laugh? It’s sometimes just the closeness of the friends, or something like that. It could be my dog, you know? He could do the strangest things–

– But also we’ve been through such amazing experiences, from school, to stage, to travelling, to , and you were mentioning Richard Pryor. And actually do you remember, 19, 20, we were that kind of age, we actually went and we saw Richard Pryor in, where was it?

– Belly Harney’s.

– Belly Harney’s, the Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles. And we were like, oh my God, it’s like a superstar, wasn’t it?

– Well, he was! He was a superstar. He was doing all the movies at the time, he had his albums out there, and we were sharing the table. But, you know, today we would have been taking photographs, videos, TikTok, this, that, and everything else. But it was just special.

– Wouldn’t it be great to have a photo of us with Richard Pryor in those days? But we didn’t have cameras. We had so many people that we met over the years, and you didn’t have a camera to take a photograph. We just didn’t have it. Do you remember from Los Angeles, we went down to Las Vegas?

– What, of course I do!

– What a trip that was.

– Where did we stay, at the Star Dust?

– The Star Dust Hotel! And it looked all flash at the front, and then we realised that we had to walk about a mile and a half to get to our room, which was right out the back, and it was like the worst motel you could ever see.

– It was awful, ’cause it was like, I think they said it was 29.99 bucks. And we thought, 29.99 to stay at the Star Dust? We went through one door, another door, out the back, it was really, those cabins with the, what’s the name, systems? What do you call it? Air conditioning system rattle.

– And if you kept it on, you couldn’t sleep. Yeah, that was right. Do you remember that we spent all our money, a week’s worth of money, ’cause we went see Frank Sinatra?

– Of course we did! I think it was like 50 buck tickets or something like that?

– That’s right!

– And it was unbelievable. And we sat, did we sit next to his wife?

– His wife, it was his wife’s birthday, and Nancy Sinatra opened for him! Do you remember? And you actually slipped 20 bucks, which was a nights–

– A very nice tip.

– To get us right down the front. And we saw Frank Sinatra close up. It was just the most extraordinary time. And he was, what did his wife say?

– She turned around, and I remember we were sat in the chair. You should have seen him 40 years ago. Do you remember that? It was just like this woman that was just there. It’s just like, wow. Because he still had a great voice, but we saw Frank at Caesar’s Palace. And then we went off, we went off to this bar after. I remember we’re going to this bar to celebrate, which was a little way off the strip. And we were sitting there, probably attracted because it said two for one drinks, or something like that, you know? And we were there having a little bit of a drink, and there’s a lovely, charming lady there, that smiled a few times as they’re reading a book. And we, I think we assumed that she was a tourist or something reading a book. Who walks into a bar and reads a book? And so we started having a little bit of chats, and stuff like that. Just being very, very nice. And then for some reason it was like we just went on this side kind of thing. She started laughing. We started joking. I love the way you guys talk. Remember all that kind of thing? ‘Cause we were putting on our finest English accents of course. And all the humour, and everything else. She says, I’m having such fun, she says, I’m going to do it for 200 bucks. Hooker. Do you remember that?

– We’re just like–

– And we thought we were just having fun with someone. No idea, no planning of any going off to any motel room, or anything like that. We were just having fun.

– But it was like Dudley Moore in that film, where he goes, you’re a hooker? And that was us! We were so innocent, weren’t we? But great memories.

– Yeah, really, really, really special. Special, I loved it. Loved it. And you know, Vegas is a very special place too. We had some fun there, didn’t we? We found ways of going to play poker and drink all night. You’d get free drinks. No, I’m not going to play this game. I’m not up to this round, I’ll wait, whilst we drink.

– Just look around for the waiter. Yeah, that’s how we get through in Vegas.

– Ah, lovely. But you do those things when you’re young, don’t you? And then you learn. You learn, and you go onto the 20 pound table, or $20 tables, you know? ‘Cause you think this is all right, instead of a dollar in them days, or something. Fantastic.

– Is everyone funny, or does everyone have the potential to be funny?

– If you’re funny, you’re funny. You know? And I think that it’s just, I’ve just spoken today about, you know, modern day humour and stuff like that, and what people find funny, and, you know, I’d sit in a room and people would be wetting themselves laughing, and I’d think, what’s funny? So I think we all are funny. I think it’s why it’s so diverse and so different. You know, what makes one laugh? So everybody is funny. It’s like I believe everybody can dance. People say, oh, they can’t dance. Everybody can dance. They might to the formal dance, they might do a bit of a shake and stuff like that, but it’s their interpretation of release and, you know, letting themself go. Some people do find it difficult. You know, they cover their mouth when they laugh, or they, they’re a bit shy of it. Which I really seem to really sort of, not make a beeline for those sort of people, but it’s those people I want to bring out more. I’d like to kind of say, ’cause we will have the ability just to open up. You know, it’s like that wonderful scene in Colour Purple, when it’s Whoopi Goldberg, and she keeps covering her mouth, and she said, no, pull your hand away. She said, you’ve got the most beautiful smile, and she kept going, and eventually she pulled her hand away, and she smiles, and the teeth come out, and she starts to laugh. And it’s one of the most uplifting moments because it’s a release. All those years being, sort of, so sort of inhibited and withdrawn. It’s the release, it’s the freedom. And smile, laughter, as we’ve said on many occasions, you’re probably saying in a Humourology too, that it makes a difference. It can really change people, you know? It can really make people more relaxed with one another.

– So what would the world be like without humour do you think?

– I can’t, I can’t. I don’t even want to go there. Very dark. Very, very dark, lonely place that, you know, humour is everything. Being able to smile, especially with your own people and stuff like that. So yeah. It would be a very dark place. I wouldn’t like to think what that would be like really.

– Do you think, because I think people have got maybe more pompous, maybe more precious over time, do you think it’s important to laugh at yourself? Because we go back to school days. You had to sort of put the joke on yourself to, you know, whether you’re tall and Black, or short and blonde, you’d have to sort of recognise it.

– Well, yeah. Now we look in the mirror, and it’s a, you know, blonde and Black. I don’t know. I just think that you do look in the mirror sometimes at yourself, and we see the changes, but I still like myself. I look in the mirror, and smile when I look in the mirror. And I know it sounds kind of weird, but I look there and say, hey, morning to you, come on, it’s another day. You know, enjoy it! It’s you, you have to look after yourself. You’ve got to, I wouldn’t, love yourself, not like I love myself. Yeah, I like to protect myself, and by protecting myself, it means, you know, be nice to you and not knocking yourself for it. What you’ve got, you’ve got. Make the best of it, you know? This is me. And I look in there and I say, hey, how you doing? Come on, you know, this is it! You know, bald, grey round here, I put a little bit of blacky pencil sometimes to kind of, you know, a little bit just to make you feel good. Whatever it is to make you feel good about yourself. You’ve got to live with yourself. You’ve got to do it. If anybody needs this lifting, or that lifting, or something down here, or something down there. If it’s going to make you feel good, do it if you can. We’ve only got ourselves, and if you can just look in that mirror and go, yeah, I’m happy with me now. Wow, wow.

– Are you suggesting I get Botox?

– Botox, too late. Too late. Botox?

– Harsh, harsh. But fair. You worked in a variety of different, because of course when you left school you went to veraise, you trained, and then you worked. And I don’t think people know enough that you were a top chef as well, in hotels and things. Do you think people laugh enough in the workplace?

– I think that there’s certain people who generate laughter. You know, there’s a, we all go to work, and we always think that, oh, he’s the funniest, or she’s the funniest, or that they are the funniest, whoever it is. They are people that, you know, are in the workplace that just make you giggle. And they’re quite often the ones that have that energy. They give off a lovely energy. Make the coffee, who wants a coffee? Shall I stir it for you, love? Or whatever they do, they bring a touch of humour, a touch of gentleness to the whole thing, and just make everything flow very, very nicely. So there is humour in the workplace. I’d like to think that, you know, when I was chefing in the hotels and restaurants, a lot of my team would just stay with me. People now, they talk about coming and staying for six months, or something like that, and moving on. A lot of my team stayed with me for a couple of years because I think they enjoyed the atmosphere. And my boss, my old boss, Malcolm Coun, God bless him. He must be in his late 70’s now, Malcolm. What a lovely man, you know? Gave me early responsibility when a lot of restaurants I’d go to, and they’d see a Black chef, they didn’t want a Black head chef there because it was just the way it was at the time. They didn’t want, you know, someone with dark skin to be running an established restaurant. So, you know, but Malcolm made me sous chef of The Westbury. He gave me an opportunity. He gave me that belief to kind of say, you know, yeah, I’m giving you the responsibility now, because I want you to create the team. I want you to make, you know, ’cause it’s all about having team spirit in the kitchen. It’s not about, right, you’re great cooking here. Yeah, but you have to mise en place. We had to prepare in advance, and stuff like that. But it was creating that team and that, you know, because you’re working with each other a long time. If you’re doing split duty, you’re there eight in the morning, you finished at 2:30 in the afternoon. You come back at 5:30, you don’t finish till 11 o’clock at night. If service is a bit slow, one or two might go a bit early, then you alternate it. But otherwise it’s a long day, you know? You’re there for service, and you’ve got to have a good team spirit there. If that team spirit goes, you know, I often say if you’re happy, it’s reflected in the food. My mother always said that. The food’s smiling. And it does, it’s kind of, there’s a lovely energy about you’re putting something, you enjoy the baking, and someone, you know when someone’s put love and attention into it, and then you eat it, and it’s a real pleasure. It’s why we love home cooking so much, because there’s a lot of love that’s gone into it. And I think that is reflected in the kitchen there. It’s I’m enjoying that, I’m preparing that, I’ve put that there. Wow, that looks good. Yeah, that sauce. That’s the way it should be, that’s perfection. You put it up there, you’re proud of it. You might do it 50 times a night but you’re proud of it, because it’s just like, you know, that’s what it’s all about. And Malcolm often used to say, I hate the word standard, but that’s what we’re after. I want standards, because standard kind of means it’s a bit standard. It’s repeating the same thing, and yeah. Bought a lot of understanding simplicity into your art, and made you feel very good about it.

– Yeah, I think it’s very interesting, ’cause I think there’s a lot that any business could learn from a kitchen, in the sense of, like, how do you bring a team together? And if I were say, like, the business case for getting more humour into those environments, you would presumably agree that it changes the atmosphere.

– Definitely, definitely. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

– So if we were selling it to people who run, you know, the firm of accountants, it’s the same ingredients, isn’t it?

– It’s exactly the same ingredients. It’s not, you know, another chef, Nick Navarrette, who was the executive chef of all the cricket grounds in the country. He used to travel around. But I see him at Lord’s, which he used to get me to run the long room for him. And he often said the chef, the preparation for chefs, he says, it’s a preparation for life. It really is. Organisation, getting things ready for any eventuality. If things happen, that you can cover it. So you don’t really get stuck, God forbid, you know, if something happened, and you do 250 covens instead of 200. Fair enough! But if you’ve prepared for what you think is going to happen, then there’s nothing greater than that. Having and then finishing a service at the end. This happened twice a day, every day. Okay? And if you want to include breakfast, that’s three times a day. You want to include tea, there’s even more. So each time it’s about reproducing, it’s coming back with the same standard, hitting it time, and time, and time again. And there’s something really lovely about that. It’s like when you go to your favourite restaurant, and I know which places you like to go to. They know the way you like it.

– But in terms of, you know, people getting a good atmosphere, and the right feeling in a company. There’s a payback on that, isn’t there? That people, you know, will stay longer, don’t you think? I mean, you just said–

– Loyal, loyalty.

– Loyalty, that’s really interesting.

– It’s loyalty, it’s like if you, they’ll just be loyal to you. And I looked after them, even when I had my own catering business and I used to get the tips for everybody, I used to give it out. Everybody got a share of the tips. Some guys, some of them had never received that before, because they’d get a couple of quid here and there. No, I’m spreading out. ‘Cause without you guys, you know, a lot of people used to just keep it for myself. Without you guys, this ain’t happening. And some of the butlers that I used to hire, they used to work at places like Buckingham Palace and stuff like that. Used to get some really inside information. Oh, it was like watching The Crown with them lot. All the info that used to come out!

– But they used to come and work because they know I looked after them. If we’re doing a really nice job, really, you know, proper job, then, you know, you’d hire them, pay them their fee, and any tip that I got from the client was just, and it was fantastic. You looked after people and they enjoyed it. You know, it was a real, it was real pleasure. Real, real pleasure.

– It’s funny because obviously I’ve been on sets with you over the years, and, you know, you’ve spent a lot of your life on sets, or travelling around the world. That’s a mini company, isn’t it? It’s kind of, you know–

– [Ainsley] A mini family.

– A mini family! Oh, you see? Even you’re reframing it as a family rather than a company. And so you’re actually making it even more intimate. What do you advise people? Or what do you do when you go onto a set? What are you trying to create in that atmosphere?

– Good feel factor. I think we mentioned the, what, you know, Maya Angelou said before about that. You know, people forget said, or what you do, it’s the good feel factor. And that’s what you want to go away with. You want to have that feeling of feeling good, feeling wholesome inside, feeling like, yeah, you might have been educated. You might’ve been shown something. But that feeling of being able to go on and either recreate something, or have that self-belief because you’re feeling good. And if you’re feeling good, you have that self-belief. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, and you’re chatting them up, and you’re having a little chat with each other. If you’re feeling good, it just flows. Doesn’t it? It just really, really flows. And if you’re not feeling good.

– Everybody’s looking. Yeah, but that’s true. And I think that’s something that people can take away, is that it’s your job if you run a company, whatever company that is, whether you’re making a television production, or you’re running, you know, a firm of investors, or you’re, you know, insurance broking or a building site! What you want is you want to get an atmosphere where people want to work for you, rather than have to work for you. Isn’t it?

– Yeah, and it’s not always easy. I can imagine that, you know, there’s times when things just don’t feel right. But, you know, if you’re a good boss, you know, I’ve got a neighbour. And I remember going to a party of his a couple of years ago, and I met some of his staff, and I won’t name names, but he just said, what a guy to work for. Top, top man. I’d do anything for him. And it was really weird. We’re talking about, these guys are quite high powered. They’re quite up there in a very aggressive business world, but they said, I’d do anything for him. And it’s because, you know, they were there, they were in that house. They were chatting, and sitting around, and playing with his kids, and they had their kids there. It wasn’t like a social thing outside. No, come to the home, do a bit of this, a bit of that. And another one I spoke with only just started at the company, but, yeah, I’ve only been a few weeks, but you know, he said, oh, he said, the people are just so nice! And, you know, and there with his partner and, you know, they were just, it was, I just thought, wow. And he made that happen. Not only that he made that happen, but it was also his wife who I thought was fantastic too. She created, you know, they have this bond. She made it happen. She was very easy. And, you know, one of the kids made a bit of mess. Oh, don’t worry about it. Just clean it up. Not getting worked up about it. How does that, that bounces off the mother, bounces back onto that. The whole work environment of these people, they support me regardless. Even when my children, even when my child has made a mistake, they’re there to support me. It makes me emotional just thinking about it. But these are the type of things that you build. You build, you know, you build the family unit and they want to support you. Everybody’s successful then, everybody.

– Yeah! And I think it’s the difference that makes a difference. And, you know, we get a lot of business people listening to this podcast, and that’s something you can really take away, is build a family in your department.

– Build a little unit. It’s not always easy because you’re not always there. You’re not always in contact with them. You’re not always one-to-one situation. But if you’re there and you filter it down, as I said, kid, wife, husband, then next. And so it goes, and then it grows, and it goes, and it goes, beyond the centre there, the company, and it’s growing, just make it happen. That’s the way I see it anyway. Not everybody’s going to have that, we know that. Not everybody’s going to be like that. And we are people that are a lot more open-minded to things. And we want, ultimately, we want people to be happy, even when you do a gig, whatever you do, you want people to walk away and think, that was good, wasn’t it? We enjoyed that. I got something out of that. And that’s what it is. That self satisfaction of each time feeling that.

– Well, yeah. I think that’s what you bring to places is the feel-good factor.

– I’m getting bloody hungry now, come on. I am, I’m bloody starving.

– We’re only doing another eight hours.

– I only had a sugary bun and a cup of coffee.

– Have you ever gotten yourself out of trouble using humour? Now having known you all these years, I know the answer to this question.

– Well you know, it’s kind of, it reminds me a little bit when you say have you ever got out of trouble using humour, it’s the same as, I liken it to cooking. Before it becomes trouble. Before my onions have over caramelised, I’ve smelt it, I’ve sensed it, and I put a bit of wine in there to reduce it down and to save it. And it’s one of those situations. I think before something gets completely out of control, you go you think, oh, that’s not going to well It’s like all of us. We’ve all been in situations before where we’ve done gigs, or we’re confronted with having to speak in a conference, or do something like that, and you think, this isn’t quite going the way I imagined it. Well, experience will tell you, as we spoke about it earlier, is how to kind of shift it, how to just kind of turn it around a little bit, and to have somewhere where you can go to that it’s going to, you know, bring it back in, so you’re back in control again. Because if you lose that, I should imagine it’s like a comedian going on stage, and the first five minutes you fall flat on your arse. Then there’s nowhere to go! There really is nowhere to go! Unless it’s part of an act, and you say, right, now that’s over, we can get something else, which probably would be a good place to go to. But, you know, I never, course I use humour. I use humour all the time. We use humour, and sometimes it goes not so sweet. And maybe even when you’re chatting someone up of your liking, you know, you you’ve met someone, and you’re chatting with them and, you know, you think, ugh, and then you just put your fingers and say, I wish it was groundhog day.

– Come back tomorrow.

– Come back tomorrow.

– Okay, I know that didn’t work.

– Oh yeah, I’ll wear the right shoes tomorrow.

– So in any business, is it survival of the fittest, or survival of the funniest, or a combination?

– Yeah, I think combination. I think if you’re quite fit, you’re sharp, then it’s not all just about being fitness, because fitness you can sort of drive yourself, because you believe you’ve got more energy than everybody else. We’re not all the same, we’re all different. And humor’s exactly the same again. So it’s about if you can have both, we’ve just been talking about addressing how to create that right spirit, that right energy within your company, that if you can have a sense of, to a certain degree a sense of humour, but to have a fit mind, have, you know, to be really kind of switched on. I’m not talking about necessarily going down to the gym every day, and being pumping, and stuff like that. I’m just talking about being fresh, and being open to ideas. You know, and opening up to people. That for me is a big part of being fit too, you know?

– No, I think it’s important–

– Instead of being just driven.

– Now we’ve reached the part of the show called quick fire questions.

– [Young Man] Quick fire questions!

– So quick fire questions. Again, wonderful thing. We just love the jingle, don’t we? Okay, okay. What’s your favourite sound?

– Favourite sound? It’s probably the sound of when a goal’s been scored from distance, and you just, when I go down to the Emirates to watch the Arsenal, and you can see something’s going, and you can hear 60,000 people going, and the scream, the crescendo, because it builds beautifully, and it suddenly explodes. And that’s that feeling of you just looking at each other screaming and shouting. And I don’t know of any other time you do that. You wouldn’t do that at home because your family would think you’re mad, but sport just allows you that release. Fabulous.

– It’s euphoria, isn’t it? In a sound! Yeah, no, I love that. What person makes you smile?

– Oh.

– [Paul] Or people.

– People, people make me smile, but when I see my children more than anything. I know they’re adults now in their own right, but when I see them, I just smile. I just smile. I want to smell them. I’m like an animal that’s been out there in the wild, and , snuggle them, and sort of, you know, I love that. I love the smile. Or I’d go so far as to saying when you said something and had a positive feedback from someone in a crowd, and everybody smiles together. That that is pretty unique, because it’s almost like an electricity. It’s almost like a charge of laughter, a charge of energy. That it could just be. It’s just going to be a very light one, but collectively it’s so, so powerful.

– It’s enticing, isn’t it? That crowd doing that together. And finally, desert island dinner party. You get to have three people from anywhere in history, present day or past, to come to your dinner party. Who is it?

– I probably mentioned two of them already throughout the course of our talks, or might’ve been at different days. For me, Maya. Having met her, and I actually cooked her 70th, I presented her with her 90th. Maya Angelou, with her 70th birthday, her 70th birthday cake. And I now have every copy of her book in my library signed by her. So that’s pretty unique. She signed every one of them, of all the different ones. And ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ is her very first book. If you haven’t, if any of people tuning into the podcast haven’t read that, yeah, just read it. Then you get into the whole lot, beautiful. Barack Obama, and yeah. More recently just one of those people that has come into my life, but for what he did, and you know, I feel sad that so many of his policies he never got through because of, you know, people, well, people didn’t want it. But a remarkable man. I think it’s, you know, again I’ve spoke throughout this podcast about the way you make people feel. He makes you feel so special when you listen to him. You know, what did he say? I can’t remember. But I was just there, you know, and it just lifts you, because the energy that he creates around people put you, and you’re part of that too. It’s like a great preacher in a church, or a great someone who does a sermon or something. Fantastic.

– And a fantastic sense of humour as well. That’s, I mean, he is so sharp on every level, God, I can see why you would have him at your dinner party.

– And finally, Arsene Wenger. Arsene Wenger. I’d love Arsene there because Arsene would love those other two people. You could just see, I’d have to have that mix, and just to be able there to talk, and having met the man myself, he’s so charming, and everything about him is just lovely. Just lovely, that’s all I’m going to say. Just lovely. The three of them, and us sitting around there. I don’t know how much, I’d have to do a one pot job because I wouldn’t want to leave the table.

– I’ll come and help you cook if I can come as well! Sounds like the perfect dinner party.

– Oh, lovely.

– Ains, thank you so much.

– Oh, pleasure! Pleasure, it’s been great–

– It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you.

– Let’s hope we send out lots of love, and give people some positive energy.

– [Paul] The Humourology Podcast was hosted by Paul Boross, 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.