Part of the Humourology series
Season 2, Episode 10
Bobby Kerr – Building Business with Banter
Business and broadcasting behemoth Bobby Kerr joins the Humourology Podcast to discuss the value of humour in connecting customers to your business. Build relationships and bolster your bottom line with a bit of banter, this week on The Humourology Podcast.
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Business Mogul and broadcasting personality Bobby Kerr joins the Humourology Podcast to discuss how humour can build connections within a business and keep customers coming back. From the owner of Insomnia Coffee to a regular dragon in the Dragon’s Den to the host of Down to Business, Kerr knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in business. What is the best way to build your business and connect with your customers? Bobby says it’s all about a bit of banter.
“Relationships are built around similar attitudes towards humour.”
Kerr knows that a touch of humour is the best way to show the world your humanity. For Kerr, that’s what it takes to build a business whether you are selling a cup of coffee or leading a boardroom.
Looking to learn how business relationships are born? Join us this week on The Humourology Podcast with Paul Boross.
To find out more about Bobby
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visit his Website
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You can also listen to Bobby’s brilliant radio show – Down To Business with Bobby Kerr on NewsTalk
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Bobby Kerr on the Humpourology Podcast
– You need to have, a smiley demeanour, you need to be pleasant to people. You need to always be courteous, be interested in people. And I think, ’cause if you’re going around with a big sour head on you, visiting shops, or whatever it is, you’re going to kill any humour just out the door. So it’s about, I think, maybe having kind of an upbeat, positive, smiley, demeanour that people would warm to.
– 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. Our guest on this edition of “The Humourology Podcast” is an Irish entrepreneur, broadcaster, and beloved business behemoth. As the charismatic kingpin of catering, his career has served up serial success, which culminated in him founding the hugely popular Insomnia Coffee Brand. Broadcasting beckoned, and he became a regular fixture on TV’s,” Dragon’s Den,” and then host of “Down to Business,” a radio show on the Irish talk radio station, Newstalk. He’s a keen sailor, however, his life hasn’t always been plain sailing. A few years ago, he battled head and neck cancer, but like with most things in his life, he won. His serial success has given him a sense of pride, a sense of honour, and most importantly, a sense of humour. Bobby Kerr, welcome to “The Humourology Podcast.”
– Well, hello, Paul, I’m really, really thrilled to be on your podcast and I’m really looking forward to the subject matter, which is humour, right up my alley, thank you.
– That’s why you’re here Bobby, because we know you’re always good for a laugh. I heard you do a quote, which I was fascinated by that you said your favourite quote is from Pablo Picasso, “Everything you can imagine is real.” Was that part of the whole attitude that you had that made you successful?
– I dunno, I put a lot of whatever and again, success means different things to different people. For me, success now is very simple, it’s health, it’s family, it’s friends, it’s happiness. I think, we get, our barometer of success becomes clearer and more simplistic as we may be age slightly, like the I’m 60 this year.
– You’re looking good on it, Bobby. And I did mention that you’d gone through your episode with cancer and come out the other side. How significant was that in your life and also in keeping a sense of humour to battle it?
– Yeah, well, fortunately I was so shocked when it happened that I was knocked for six, but once I got my treatment plan and I knew what I was doing and I basically put my head down and said I was going to get through it. So I did have some humour in the darkest hours when I was getting radiation treatments. You used to be able to bring in your own music when they were basically strapping you down in this mask, down to a table. And I used to bring in Pink Floyd. And I used to say to them, can we not play this any louder? And I’d have my Pink Floyd CDs turned up really, really loud, just so that I could bear what was all almost akin to being buried alive, like a suffocation, a really, really scary thing. You get used to it after a while, but I struggled with it at the start and Pink Floyd got me through it.
– Is music important in your life?
– Always has been, I’ve always been somebody who went to gigs, I still listen to a lot of music. And I find music really relaxing. I listen to music mainly when I run now. And I think the combination of running and music is not to be beaten.
– There’s a lot of kinship between people who love humour and people who love music, do you find that?
– You know, most of my friends, my close friends, I still hang around with guys that I was in secondary school with, we had a 40 year reunion recently. And just those same guys are all into music. And they are the people that I slag most, and they probably slag me most. So clearly there are parallels there.
– We had Dr. Richard Bandler on recently who developed the field of NLP. And he said, one of the greatest things that you can do, whether that’s in business or in personal life, is to chide people. And you’ve just used the term slag each other off, which I prefer to be honest with you, but taking the piss generally.
– Love it, that’s one of my favourite types of humour because it’s banter, it’s quick, it’s impulsive. There isn’t too much thought that goes into it, and it just happens.
– What’s that part of the chiding, the taking the piss, did that come into the boardroom as well?
– I remember once when I worked, before I had my own business, I worked for another, very successful Irish entrepreneur. And I remember saying to him, we were only just having a bit of humour just to get through the day. And he said, he says to me, well, you’re laughing at the shareholder. And I said, well, maybe we are, but he didn’t think it was funny. But I remember working in kitchens, working in very pressurised situations. And humour really is the greatest tonic when you’re under pressure. So people will joke, you’re there and the place could be falling apart. But if there’s a bit of banter going on and it actually holds the whole team together. So I’ve always been, that’s always been my way of operating.
– So you say it’s always been your way of operating. Was the young Bobby Kerr, therefore, always humorous?
– Well, I’m not like, again, I think you asked the question, do you think you’re funny? I’m not sure, I often laugh at my own jokes, which is probably something you shouldn’t do, but you know, if you do and you find it funny, maybe that’s okay because you’re getting something out of it. But my wife says to me, you shouldn’t be laughing at your own jokes. Now, she’s with me, we’re married 33 years. I’ve been going out with her, we’re together nearly 40 years and she still doesn’t think I’m funny.
– You must have something else, Bobby, to be honest with you,
– I was asking her before I came on the podcast, I was just throwing in a couple of, I said, would this be okay? No, you can’t say that. No, you can’t say that. They’ll think you’re crazy. I said, no, this guy is very liberal, he’d be fine.
– Wait, wait, well, whatever she said, you can’t say, that’s the stuff we want, Bobby. Thems the rules.
– You’re asking me what makes me laugh. And as I said, I enjoy banter with mates. I like prank humour, I like lads humour, I’d be honest and say that. Sometimes I like, you know, sort of situational stuff that goes wrong. I love something like on-air bloopers or that kind of stuff, where everyone can see the kind of reality of man, this is just crazy, how could this have happened? How could somebody have said that? I find that kind of stuff very amusing. I think I heard on one of those bloopers recently, a lady, he called her Clitty, she was meant to be chitty somebody, and he said, well, Clitty, he said, will I lose my job for that? And she said, well, you will, if you keep calling me Clitty! That was an on-air blooper, I said, whoa, that’s great stuff.
– Well, I think you mentioned a very important word in humour, isn’t humour one of the best relationship builders there is because if you can get somebody to laugh, automatically, you’re bonded, aren’t you?
– Big time, and I think you find your own level with people that appreciate your humour, maybe you appreciate theirs. I think, particularly in the workplace, you’ll find that friendships are built around similar attitudes towards humour. So people who maybe find the same things funny, they laugh at the same customers, perhaps, or suppliers, or whatever it is, people who they interact with in the business, you’ll find a commonality there, I think that friendships can be built on.
– And as somebody who’s led big organisations, what would you say is, how do you engender that kind of atmosphere in a company so you allow that to happen in a positive way?
– Well, I think the first thing you need to do is you need to have outwardly, you need to have, a smiley demeanour, you need to be pleasant to people, you need to always be courteous, be interested in people. And I think, you know, ’cause if you’re going around with a big sour head on you, visiting shops or whatever it is, you know, you’re going to kill any humour just out the door. So it’s about, I think maybe having kind of an upbeat, positive, smiley demeanour, that people would warm to.
– So, the Chinese have a saying, which is man without smile should not open shop.
– Very true, I totally get that, totally.
– How did you actually make sure that, because I would have thought being in charge of employing people, how do you employ people who are going to give the right message over to your customers?
– Well, I think if you and again, I remember we used to, when we started employing people, originally, when we, I wasn’t the founder of Insomnia, I actually was bought, my company was bought by Insomnia, and then I reversed myself into it. But it was back in those early days when we had all our employees were Irish, when we started off, then we had this great influx of wonderful people from Europe, from South America, from all these wonderful, colourful and nationalities. And we found then that certainly, initially in those days, humour, people didn’t understand the Polish humour, for instance, the Chinese humour was sometimes again, it took a while, because Irish people were so used to just dealing with Irish people, to be honest with you, that all these cultures took a few years to embed. And we used to have 100% Irish, then we had a 100%, over a period of years, we went the other way, where at one stage, there was only three of us in the company. And we had about 300 employees at the time that weren’t Irish. So everybody was from somewhere else except the three of us who were all the directors of the company. And now it’s about maybe half, half. But that in its sense, because I think different nationalities, they have different humorous traits. And I think it takes a while to understand those and to get to know them. And sometimes that isn’t evident, if you put a guy in to a coffee shop, and he’s dealing with a customer, maybe because he’s process driven, he misses that whole, how are you, the interaction. And I think, I don’t know if I would say Irish people certainly love to be recognised. The whole thing about somebody knowing your name or remembering your coffee that you ordered the last time, that kind of thing just goes miles with people.
– I think that’s incredibly true and brilliant advice. Isn’t a smile the same everywhere in the world? As a psychologist, I would say that a smile is one thing you can bring to anyone in the world, because babies are hard wired to smile. So that’s the commonality of the world.
– But I think as well though, if you go to certain countries, and you’ll get a smile, and you’ll get a lot of, you know, have a nice day, and you’re awesome and all of this, but you wonder the question of sincerity comes into it, is it sincere? I’d sort of be looking out for the sincere smile or the sincere interaction versus the one that I read in the manual.
– How do you choose people who are going to get it? Is it all gut instinct on your part?
– Pretty much, and again, I won’t say I’ve always got it right but anytime that I was interviewing anybody for a job, I sometimes wouldn’t take the most qualified. I would take the person and look at the job and how is this person going to fit in to our organisation and the situation? And I think if you approach it that way, you have a much better chance of success.
– People who listen to this podcast are listening for different reasons. A, to be entertained, hopefully, but to take away nuggets, and I think that’s an fantastic nugget, because as a psychologist, I would say that people, when you’re going for a job, I think the most important thing you can do is get rapport with the people you’re getting a job from. And there’s somebody, you’re somebody who’s been a boss of big organisations who is saying, yeah, it still comes down to that feeling that you get on with somebody, that you like them, that you can get over your qualifications.
– Yeah, yeah, and you know, qualifications are only like, and I do believe in education and I do believe in learning, like learning on the job, re-education, I believe in all of that, but I think education will get you in the door. But beyond that, I’ve seen very, very smart people over the years who couldn’t get on with anybody. And they become a liability to an organisation. No matter how smart you are, if you can’t get on with people, you’re no good.
– I completely agree. So that takes me on to the question, is everyone funny, Bobby? I think you’ve kind of answered that in the same sense. Maybe.
– I think there are people, there are many people that I’ve met that aren’t funny and will never be funny. And even sometimes, you know, having a laugh with them is sometimes entertaining because they just don’t get humour. And you can have fun with people like that as well, that have no humour.
– I’ve yet to meet anybody who has said, I don’t have a good sense of humour. And on every dating profile, people will write, GSOH, won’t they? So everybody’s thinking that they have a good sense of humour, but you think in reality, it’s not true.
– No, because I think of all the people that I meet over the course of my day, over course of my week, and there are people I meet that just aren’t funny and they never will be funny. And it takes all the types but I like to shake and move with the people who are, if I can.
– I think that’s very smart. So where would the world actually be without humour?
– It will be a very dull and boring place. And when you think of even passing the time, if you’re walking somewhere and it’s slow, or your bored, or like, humour, again, collective humour, can just make a place so much more vibrant can pass the time quickly, so you won’t get bored. And again, just stimulate all sorts of creativity and activity.
– So you mentioned stimulating, do you actually think you said creativity and activity, but does it stimulate productivity as well in business?
– I don’t think it’s a barrier to productivity. I think, as I said earlier there, when you’re working in a busy kitchen and you’re flat out, you can be cracking jokes, and be knee deep trying to sort something out. So it doesn’t have to affect productivity at all, I think. I think you need to be appropriate, like I think if you’re serving customers, for instance, you need to be sure that if you’re going to bring humour into the scenario, that you have some sort of rapport with the customer, like again, it would be risky to start telling jokes with everybody who came up in the line, because some people might think, different strokes for different folks. So I think you have to be selective. And I think you just have to be cautious sometime.
– Do you think that it’s important for people to be able to laugh at themselves, especially in business?
– Hugely. And I think if you’re not able to laugh at yourself, again, it’s very hard to dish out slagging, as we talked about earlier. The whole self-deprecation thing, I’m a big fan of, I remember, it must be 10 years ago, maybe 15 years ago, I remember doing a backflip in, we had an Insomnia Coffee Shop up in UCD, at one of the big Dublin universities. And I was up there working and I slipped, I think it was a pat of butter, and I landed on my back and it was like 400 students watching. And I said, Jesus Christ, you know when you jump up and you’re actually hurt, but you just say, oh, yeah, yeah, I’m fine, I’m fine. I nearly broke my back, but I just, all I could do was stand there laughing. And I just think, yeah, laugh at yourself. And again, people who are good at us can be extremely funny. I think it’s a type of humour, that done well, can be extremely, extremely funny.
– Yeah, I’ve got Irish roots and I think the Irish are very good at self-deprecation. I think there are certain countries where self-deprecation, they don’t actually like it. And I would say, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you know, there’s something natural with the Irish about, ah, that’ll be what I’m like, you know? And I just think that that is why maybe, and I’m just working this out as we go along, but maybe that is where the Irish charm comes in, because if you can naturally self-deprecate, people warm to you, do you think there’s any truth in that? I’ve just made that up.
– I do, and again, not that you’re out there wanting everybody to warm to you. I don’t think, you know, I don’t think we go about our day with that intent, but I do think that, it does show a form of humility, be it to use another word, that I think people would admire. Because it shows that you’re not above anybody else, or you don’t consider yourself above and you’re willing to sort of say, well, look, I screwed this up, so what? So no, I’ll tell you, another thing that happened to me about two years ago. I’ve got four daughters and I was out for a walk with my two youngest daughters, and this car pulled up and said, how are you Bobby? How are ya? And I went over to the window of the car and the lady said, oh, how you Bobby? And I didn’t know who she was, and she said to me, Jack’s after passing, Jack has died. And I said, you know, I’m really, really glad you told me that. And I’m really, really sorry about that as well. And and then we had a bit of a chat, and then I went away and the girls said to me, who was that? And I said, I don’t know who it was, I didn’t know the person, but I felt rather than making it more awkward, that the easiest thing to do was to just say, surely I do know Jack, I just can’t remember him now, both really sorry for your loss. And the kids couldn’t believe that I would do that. And I said, well, was that not the best thing to do in this scenario? It would have been disrespectful to say that I didn’t know her husband who I should have known. So anyway, it was just something that happened.
– No, and it’s important, isn’t it? By the way, I think that people with, you introduced a really interesting word, humour as humility as well. And then that story shows the humility. You could go, you know, well, I don’t know who he is, but there why hurt somebody’s feelings?
– That’s it, and again, I think that’s the only type of humour that I probably don’t subscribe to is where somebody is genuinely hurt or upset. Or, you know, if whatever the humorous act, I wouldn’t probably always have thought this way, but I would say that if the humorous act or joke or whatever it is offends somebody, then it’s not, you’ve crossed a line.
– Well, yeah, but humour can be bullying at times, if it’s in the wrong hands, a knife in the wrong hands can stab somebody, but also can actually make you a beautiful meal.
– But, you know, you talk about being able to laugh at yourself, I’ve done this a few times. I remember, speaking with a group of accountants and there’s a room full of accountants there, and you come in and you say, well, what does an accountant use as a contraceptive? And you say… his personality! And it’s, sorry we’re accountants, how could you speak to us like that? But if it’s done in the right way, if it’s done in a way, now it’s risky. But if it works it works well.
– Oh yeah, well, I used to work at the Comedy Store and we had the equivalent joke, which is, what do you say when you see three accountants up to their necks in shit? Not enough shit. So do you think people laugh enough in the workplace, Bobby?
– I do, well, I mean in the places I’ve ever worked. I’ve always, there’s always been some sense of humour or some, but, you know, there’s always the serious business of getting the work done, getting whatever it is, hitting the sales target. But I think humour can live perfectly comfortable, comfortably, with a dynamic achieving environment. In fact, I think it has a really good place there. And I think humour is hugely important in the workplace. And thankfully, the places that I work and I don’t work as actively as I used to with big teams of people, but even my work in Newstalk or anything like that, we always have at a bit of banter. But again, we’re on the air, we’re serious, we have a job to do, we have people to interview. And that all is very, very serious. But again, within that, I’d always like to think that I could bring out the light side of a guest. And again, it makes for a much more interesting interview. If somebody is humorous or says something that’s even mildly funny, it’s better than listening to some guy trying to sell something or sell himself or his business. Like, yeah.
– I think we can have a quote on there about, ‘Bobby says banter’s good for business’.
– It is.
– That’s a banner headline.
– And I do a slot on, Down to Business, the radio show you you kindly referenced earlier, called The Executive Chair. And it basically is about the executive, the guy who has made it. And I always, I always find that the people who’ll talk about their early days, who’ll talk about our failures, who will throw in a joke or something light are far better than the guy who has given you their corporate objectives or some sort of high level strategy or what their debt equity ratio is, that’s all bland stuff. I’m amazed sometimes as well at intelligent people, smart people who don’t get the importance of personality, who don’t get the importance of good, no-nonsense communication, sincerity, all that stuff, humour, interaction, far better listening, if you’re a radio listener, than some guy spouting off his latest acquisition.
– So you mentioned failure, how do you get over failure? Is it possible to laugh at your failures and then is it easier to move on once you’ve done that?
– Yeah, I think there’s maybe a period of reflection between the failure and the moving on, which again, could be as little as an hour, or it could be a week, or it could be a month, but I think there probably should be some period, depending on how big the screw up actually is, between making the fuck up and then moving on from it. And again, I’ve made many, and again, some of them, most of them I can kind of look back at and laugh at. I was involved, when I worked in Canada in the mid ’80s, I was involved in the Pope’s visit to Canada. And I was charged with, it was a big airport, an old military base, about 30 miles north of Toronto. And the company I was working for were doing all the catering, right? Huge logistical operations with massive, big trailers and trucks and living in camper vans and all that. And I was on the site, my job was to run this and they were expecting a million people, right. That was the forecasted visitors on the day. And the event was in September, in July, in June of that year, we froze 500,000 sandwiches under liquid nitrogen, right? This was back in the mid ’80s, never heard of it, never saw it. And we had all these frozen sandwiches, and then the event was on in September. The Pope arrives, three days before he arrives, it rains cats and dogs, torrential rain. The site becomes a mud bath. It was like a scene out of Father Ted, priests and nuns and everything rolling around in the mud. The day happens, and of the million that were expected to come, 100,000 people came, and guest what? 50% of them brought their own sandwiches. There you go, that is a true story. And we lost our boots, the company that I was working for lost over a million dollars on the day. My boss was fired. I was only the grunt on the ground, directing traffic, but the guy who I was reporting, he got the bullet the next day. And I remember thinking, this is failure, this is fail fast, fail big. And I barely survived it, but I did yeah.
– Wow, well, that’s a great story.
– That happened in 1984, I think it was.
– Bobby, If I asked you to write a business case for humour, what would you include in that?
– I think it’s a great motivator for staff, number one. It’s a really positive way to interact with customers, number two. And I’m talking light humour here now on the customer side, because bearing in mind that we may not know them too well. But I also think it helps employee retention. And because I think humorous part of, it’s an important component of job satisfaction in the workplace, I think. ‘Cause I don’t think people would behave in a humorous way if they’re unhappy. And so I think, the more humour there is de facto, the more settled an employee is, equals less employee turnover. They would be business arguments that I would make.
– No, I think they’re great business arguments, but how would you measure the ROI, the return on investment on those?
– Like anything, with difficulty. It’s very important, I don’t know, it’s difficult, and maybe I don’t really have the answer to that Paul, I do believe, you know, I always used to measure employee retention on a shop by shop basis. And clearly you could see if, it was pretty easy to get a yardstick or a benchmark of what was acceptable. And I think if you could see, that you were training more people in a particular, new starts, new hires, double the amount in one shop versus another, it’s costing you a lot more money, number one, but more importantly, it’s going to affect the customer service, number two, because you’re going to have a whole lot of newbies who are training or untrained, interacting with and interfacing with the costumer.
– I think that’s a brilliant point, And I think it’s one of those things whereby I’m wondering how we’re going to shift the whole Humourology Project so that CEOs and board members all over the world go, we need this, we need people to be happier at work. So many things are driven by the bottom line now.
– But can I just say this Paul, I hate, and again, it comes back to sincerity. One of my daughters was working in a company where they were practically forced fed beer and pizza on a Friday night. Nobody wanted to be there, the place was hellish from Monday to Thursday, and the CEO of that organisation, thought by buying pizza and force feeding people beer, that all would be well. So it comes back to, is it sincere or is it not? So I think a little bit of soul goes a long way.
– I think that’s very true. I’m very interested in the, okay, people think it’s an equation. Okay, Friday night, here’s three beers per person, now they’ll be happy.
– With fellows I don’t want to drink with, yeah.
– Yes. You can give me as much beer as you like, but if you put me in a room with some pain in the arse people, the beer won’t taste sweet. So it’s about building a whole atmosphere.
– [Bobby] Big time.
– And a culture, isn’t that what culture is? A culture of lightness, a culture of fun.
– Yeah, and I think as well, if you’re working in an organisation and the CEO walks through the office or the warehouse or whatever it is and is able to crack a joke, and again, it doesn’t have to detract from the seriousness of work or getting the job done piece. But I think that that would probably be somewhat infectious, i.e then, if the CEO was down in the warehouse, joking around, maybe then the warehouse supervisor feels it’s okay to do the same with the forklift drivers or whatever it is. But that’s how culture gets built, from the top down and from the bottom up.
– Yeah, it’s very interesting from a psychological perspective that you use the word, infectious, because in psychology, we say, if you want anybody to go into any state, you have to go into that state first. So if you want to make people uptight, guess what?
– Be uptight yourself, yeah.
– You have it there.
– And I suspect and that’s what’s really great about actually spending time with great leaders like yourself, is I get to unpack the important bits. So our listeners can listen to, no I’m serious. And I know that the Americans would call this blowing smoke up your ass, but it’s actually, I think those are the crucial bits for people who want to win in life, is actually the stuff that nobody thinks about, how do you build that culture? Well, guess what, you’ve got to be somebody like yourself who goes back to the floor, who has a joke with somebody, who appropriately will take the piss, will banter. And those are, I think, crucial elements that I think sometimes get lost because nobody’s teaching this at the Harvard Business School yet.
– I totally agree and I think I must give some more thought to your concept there of the business case, because there probably are some metrics that one could introduce or could look at, around humour and how it’s measured. ‘Cause I think maybe because humour is different things to different people, it’s not the most easily of subjects to measure.
– Well, you and I can do a course all around Ireland together, How to get the Banter Back.
– That’s it, yeah.
– Have you ever taken a joke too far or crossed the line Bobby?
– I have, I remember one time and it’s about public speaking. And I mentioned earlier about the accountants and the joke, but sometimes if you misread your audience. I remember being at an insurance dinner, I was an after dinner speaker and I thought I made what was a witty and upbeat, and there was a couple of maybe blue bits in the humour, and a lady got upset over it. And, you know, I reckoned then, even if 200 people were happy and thought it was funny, the fact that one person didn’t kind of ruined the night for me. And that was a lesson to me that you really need to know who your audience are before you start taking it out there.
– Well, just so you know, I spent 10 years of my life working at the Comedy Store and every comedian has had that same thing whereby the whole audience is laughing, but if one person isn’t laughing, then that’s what they’ll take home. And isn’t funny, we can’t remember all the great gigs we did, but we’ll remember the bad ones until your dying day.
– But you know it taught me something, and again, I always, whenever I’m speaking now, I always really, really try and find out who’s in the audience. In other words, while everybody will be different, but you really do need to know who the audience are and what they expect.
– So have you ever gotten yourself out of trouble by using humour?
– I have, yeah. I was stopped by the Gardai on my way, when I was working in radio on Sunday mornings. There’s a town near me here in Dunleary called Black Rock, I was on my way into work at seven o’clock one Sunday morning, nobody else out. And I turned the corner and I nearly ran this Garda over. He was standing in the middle of the road and he said, where are you going? I said, I’m going to work. And he says, well, you’re going too fast. And I said, well, Garda, you know, there’s only you and me up here now, surely, this is hardly the crime of the century And he said, it’s hardly the crime of the century, now get the fuck off out of here and go into the work and leave me alone. I wasn’t disrespectful to him, but I was, I suppose I was cheeky. And he saw the funny side and let me go.
– Oh, well that’s useful then. Is humour a superpower, do you think? Do you think that it’s one of those things that the best have it at their fingertips?
– Well, I think if you were asking me would I prefer to be considered the most intelligent person in the room or the funniest person in the room, I’d much prefer to be the funniest person. I just think it’s a much better place and it’s going to be a much better experience.
– So do you think, I think there’s a correlation between intelligence and humour, because you need emotional intelligence to get humour right. And so I think it’s an easy choice to go be the funniest person in the room, because I think you tick the intelligence box as well.
– Well I think you’re talking about emotional intelligence, but you’re also probably talking about academic intelligence, which isn’t, you know, that’s very different in the sense that it can be very boring, like it really can, and not interesting at all.
– I don’t know if you ever watch University Challenge. Yeah, exactly, it’s actually a compulsive watch and you go, how do you know all that stuff? But you kind of go, I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lift with you.
– No, I know, I totally agree. And it’s yeah, no, give me the funny guy any day.
– Me too. Bobby, we now to the part of the show, we call quick fire questions. And we have a jingle, which was written by Spike Edney of Queen. ♪ Quick fire questions. ♪ Bobby, who is the funniest business person you’ve met?
– A guy called Pat Shortt, he’s an Irish comedian, he’s grounded in rural humour, but he does all the business stuff for his own, he’s a movie star, he’s a theatre producer, but he looks after all the business end of it himself. Very, very clever guy and a really, really funny guy. I also was a big admirer of Dermot Morgan, Father Ted, who you may know.
– Yeah, God rest his soul.
– What a great guy and what a funny guy, like if you talk, you want to see Irish humour at it’s best, that was him.
– Well, I worked a few times with Ardal O’Hanlon as well. That was a funny man.
– Big time, that’s my type of humour.
– Oh, genius, Father Ted, genius. What book makes you laugh?
– I have a book here with me called “What The Fuck Should I Make For Dinner? “The Answers To Life’s Everyday Questions “In 50 Effing Recipes.” by a guy called Zach Golden. And it’s a cookery book, right? So he’s got a quote on one side of the book, make your crunchy granola, add some fucking avocado, fennel and citrus. And there’s too, don’t fucking like that turn to page 56. Not a fucking vegetarian, turn to page 34. If you’re thinking about what you want to cook for dinner, this is really, really funny.
– Oh, well, there you go. That a present for all who like filth. Food and filth in one book.
– Two Fs.
– Yeah, we’ll ignore the other one. What film makes you laugh Bobby?
– Love “The Hangover.” And again that type of humour. “School Of Rock” is another one of my favourites. There’s music and humour. We talked about it earlier, but that’s really good music and really good humour, all on the same place, “School of Rock.”
– “School of Rock,” great. What word makes you laugh?
– Assume, making an ass out of you and me, assume.
– Oh, I love the quote, we go back to films, the quote from “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” which is. “assumption is the mother of all fucks ups”.
– What’s not funny?
– I think jokes that hurt people’s feelings like we talked about earlier. I’m always uncomfortable anything around, even like people with disabilities, that type of stuff. That’s just not my type of humour. I don’t consider that funny, even though I know some comedians use it as a platform. But I think if you take a narrow focus in on a particular group or a particular set of people, you have to be very, very careful. So I just think those kinds of jokes are not for me.
– I asked this before and you sort of answered it before, but I’m going to ask it again, just because it’s in quickfire questions. Would you rather be considered clever or funny?
– Definitely funny, I’m not interested in being considered clever, definitely funny, much better ties to have.
– And finally, Bobby, Desert Island Gags, if you can only take one joke with you to a desert island, what would that joke be?
– Now, this is where I have a dilemma because I love the light bulb jokes, ’cause I like the simplicity and I liked the fact that they’re one line. I was chairing a debate recently up in one of the universities here. And I had five different light bulb jokes that applied to the five different universities. So I was able to adopt the jokes. So like you’ve got Trinity, which is considered a posh university here in Dublin. So how many Trinity students does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is one, but the light bulb never really gets changed, the student from Trinity puts the bulb in the socket and waits for the world to revolve around him. And then there’s the second university, which is probably maybe, it used to be a technical university and now has got full university status. And it’s called DIT, now called TUD, Technical University Dublin. So you say how many DIT students does it take to change a light bulb? Two, one to change the bulb and the other to complain if they had a better college, the light bulb wouldn’t go out. And then there’s DCU, which is a similar place, they call themselves a university, but there was a kind of a question mark over their pedigree. They were only a university for the last 10 years. How many DCU students does it take to change a light bulb? Ha, ha, ha, trick question, DCU isn’t a real university. And then there’s the art and design university that’s just over here in Dunleary. It’s called IADT. And how many IADT students does it take to change a light? Lava lamps don’t burn out, man. And then Limerick is a place that maybe has a reputation for maybe violence, for being a rough city. So how many University of Limerick students does it take to change a light bulb? What? There’s a university in Limerick? Anyway, I like light bulb jokes.
– They’re brilliant jokes, and they can go with you to the desert island. Oh, Bobby Kerr, thank you so much. You’re brilliant at business, brilliant at banter, and I’ve loved having you on “The Humourology Podcast.”
– Thanks Paul, I really enjoyed it. And hello to all your listeners and thanks again to Simon for getting all this set up for us today. So great to talk to you.
– [Paul] “The Humourology Podcast” was hosted by Paul Boross and produced by Simon Banks, 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.