Part of the Humourology series
Season 3, Episode 70
Jimmy Mulville – The Humour of the Hat Trick Hero
Writer, comedian, producer, and co-founder of Hat Trick Productions Jimmy Mulville joins The Humourology Podcast to discuss his life of leading with laughter and producing with a punch. Mulville joins Paul Boross to discuss how humour can bring people together on the screen and in any audience.
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Producer and executive Jimmy Mulville joins Paul Boross and The Humourology Podcast to discuss humour’s role in the television business. Mulville is the co-founder of Hat Trick Productions and is responsible for some of television’s most popular punch-line packed programmes including Have I Got News For You, Father Ted and Derry Girls
“Humour makes people laugh. It’s involuntary. It’s very good for the circulation. And it makes you feel very joined up to other people. And also, seriously, it fulfils a very serious role of reducing very difficult frightening concepts to a size that we can all enjoy.”
Hear how Jimmy uses his expertise to lead with laughter and how a sense of humour can get you through the hard times only on, The Humourology Podcast.
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Jimmy Mulville on The Humourology Podcast
Jimmy Mulville (00:00:00):
Someone said to me a long time ago, Jimmy, you’ve gotta make a decision in your life, do you wanna be right all the time or happy? Because actually laughing at yourself is also an admission of your humanity. And if you’re not human, then what the hell are you?
Paul Boross (00:00:18):
Welcome to the Humourology podcast with me, Paul Boross and my glittering lineup of guests from the world’s 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.
Paul Boross (00:00:53):
My guest on this edition of the Humourology podcast is an award-winning entertainment, executive producer and movie mogul, who has also been a comedian actor writer, producer, and presenter. He is the co-founder of Hat Trick Productions. The company behind shows like Derry Girls. Have I Got News For You? Whose Line Is It? Anyway, Father Ted and Outnumbered, just to name a few. Before he made a name for himself producing some of the country’s biggest television hits, he could be found making audiences laugh on the stage or performing and writing on the cult TV comedy Who Dares Wins. As the managing editor of Hat Trick Productions. He was awarded a BAFTA for his contribution to the world of comedy television. However, he might be solely tempted to give it back in exchange for seeing his beloved Everton climb back to the top of the premiership. Jimmy Mulville welcome to the Humourology podcast.
Jimmy Mulville (00:01:55):
Thank you, Paul. And thank you for mentioning Everton. I was really enjoying the intro. And then you mentioned Everton. I always say I’ve got three sons and one of them is not at all interested in football. And in fact, he said to me this year, if it’s any constellation dad I’ve transferred my total lack of interest in Arsenal to my total lack of interest in Everton. And that’s about as close as he got to… but the other two are Everton fans. And this season I had to say to them both, I’m really sorry that I’ve inflicted this on you, but it is character forming and it does improve your sense of humour because you really have to have a sense of humour to be an Everton fan.
Paul Boross (00:02:31):
Well, welcome to the club because me and my son are season ticket holds – my son’s 21- season ticket holders at AFC Wimbledon. So we went 26 games without a victory this year. So, that was kind of tough, but at least you had a little resurrection didn’t you?
New Speaker (00:02:48):
We did just towards, we’d managed to, we dodged the bullets at the end of the season and we’re now we’re still in the premier league just about.
Paul Boross (00:02:55):
Well, we’ll come back to football because actually I want to talk…
Jimmy Mulville (00:02:57):
if you have to. Okay. All right.
Paul Boross (00:03:00):
<laugh> well, well obviously a big Evertonian, you were brought up as an only child in Liverpool. Liverpool is well known for its comedy credentials; was humour valued in your family at home?
Jimmy Mulville (00:03:17):
Yeah, well, I come from a… I mean I was born in the fifties and my mum and dad were both working people. My dad worked in first of all in the power station and then in Tate & Lyle sugar refinery, my mother was a waitress. And there was a lot of, you know, we did laugh a lot in the, in the house. There was, you know, my dad was a good storyteller and a joker. And he didn’t get on with my grandfather very well. I can speak about them all free now, cause they’re all dead. But my grandfather came to live with us when I was about four. My grandmother had been tragically killed in a car accident aged 51 or 52 – he dumped himself on his daughter’s doorstep and said, June my mum you have to look after me.
Jimmy Mulville (00:04:04):
So my mother shipped my grandfather into the house very much like the family in Derry Girls where the grandfather and the father just don’t get on. And my grandfather was a Liverpool supporter and my dad was an Everton supporter and they just didn’t get on at all. There was always arguments and, you know, disputes about various things. And anyway, one evening my mum and dad and I went to see Goldfinger, the bond movie in the sixties, and, um, <laugh> that evening. My dad, christened and my grandfather Goldfinger for some reason. So every time my grandfather came in from the pub, we’d hear the key in the door and we’d be sitting in the living room, watching the tele. And my dad would start (singing – down little down, down, down, down, down that land, down, down, down, down, down that land down.) And he got the timing perfectly, right? Every night as my grandfather opened the door into the living room, he’d be greeted to (singing da down, da down, um, down) and my grandfather never worked out why he entered the living room to the Bond theme for years and years and years. So my dad was a great piss taker.
Paul Boross (00:05:10):
I suddenly got an image of The Royal family with your dad being somewhat like in my head like Joe Royal,
Jimmy Mulville (00:05:20):
He wasn’t as big as Ricky Tomlinson, but he yeah, he was a, he was a, he was a joker and you know, he’s a working man. He liked a drink and he liked his friends. Very often at parties, I’d see him with a group of friends and they’d all be laughing at something he’d say. And then he’d look across the room at me and I’d be staring at him. And he’d kind of give me a kind of secretive wink, like to say that, you know, I’ve got them in the palm of my hand. Yeah, Liverpool. I like my son is up in college in Liverpool and he’s born and bred in the south. He loves it. He loves the people in Liverpool. It’s very direct. You get into the back of a cab in Liverpool and immediately you’re chatting, you know, you’re just talking about something and you know, they’re funny and not to be patronising to them, but in a way, you know, if a community like that, didn’t develop a very strong sense of identity and humour. And actually life would be quite tough I think sometimes because I think as a city it’s come under attack for all kinds of reasons and stereotyping, you know, I hate the stereotyping of the Liverpool person by, people in the south who don’t seem to really well, probably never been there.
Paul Boross (00:06:41):
No, it’s interesting though that humour grows. It seems to grow in places much better. My mother is from the east end of Glasgow. Yeah. And Glasgow has that. And I don’t know if it’s this port city idea, but humour seems to grow in cities where there’s hardship and you have to have something to react against.
Jimmy Mulville (00:07:06):
Yeah. And I think that’s, you know, that it’s a way of dealing with life where you don’t take yourself too seriously, which I think is a really, I think you can take what you do seriously, but to take yourself too seriously, I sometimes meet people in my business. You take themselves very, very seriously and they’re kind of legends in their own lunchtime. But, the truth is that, you know,
Jimmy Mulville (00:07:33):
The fact is that if you take the piss outta yourself before anybody else does, I always thought that Terry Wogan was brilliant at that. He was great at saying something about himself, which just put everybody at ease, you know? And, and I think the people in Liverpool they don’t allow you to get to much above yourselves. I mean I remember when the docks were very powerful, you know, we’re talking about strikes now a lot. And you know, people would take the,… my grandfather was a Docker and they were kind of well paid and you know, it was a powerful union, but people used to take the piss out of them. There was a joke going around at the time where in the sixties, just how powerful the Dockers unions were. They had the management by the short and curlies. And the story goes that the foreman comes out onto the Albert Dock, 5,000 men waiting for the news. He gets his megaphone out and he shouts to the men, men we’ve just had a six hour meeting with the management. We’ve got a brand new deal. We’re gonna get double the pay, huge cheer. We’re gonna get double holidays, huge cheer. And we only work on a Wednesday and a voice in the back says, What every fucking Wednesday?!
Paul Boross (00:08:47):
Jimmy Mulville (00:08:50):
And that kind of deflates, the whole thing, you know, that’s a kind of, you know what I mean? It’s like, it just brings everything down to yes. That’s exactly what the attitude was. <laugh>
Paul Boross (00:08:59):
Well, but is it not the pricking the bubble of pomposity. Yeah. And having produced or executive produced and made, Have I Got News For You for over 30 years? Yeah. Isn’t that what the shows essence is?
Jimmy Mulville (00:09:16):
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Paul, it’s about cutting down the tall poppies. It’s saying things about people who have a huge influence in our lives, people who lead, whether political groups or, you know, government organisations, whatever they are, or celebrities, influencers, and Paul and Ian and their guests, but mainly Paul and Ian week in, week out just bringing them down to size. Now we, you know, we, and it’s getting harder because obviously the line over which you cross is, is much closer than it used to be. People are much now, organisations are much more worried about causing offence and a good joke will offend somebody somewhere – there is no question about that. And often I always say, well, offence is a subjective reaction to something. So if I’m offended by something, you say, all it’s telling you is that my values and my sensibilities have been in some way, aggressed by your comments. It doesn’t mean that your comment was wrong. But it’s a difficult conversation to have because, you know, organisations like the BBC – they’re under scrutiny. You know, they get bashed around by The Daily Mail. And it always amuse me. The Daily Mail is so keen on criticising the BBC and yet if the BBC was suddenly stopped or defunded by the government, The Daily Mail will be the first paper to say whatever happened to our wonderful BBC, what a great loss it is.
Paul Boross (00:10:46):
But it’s all about control, isn’t it? Yeah. I mean, from a psychological perspective, they want to control humour and doesn’t any totalitarian state. The first thing they want to do is shut down humour and theatre.
Jimmy Mulville (00:11:01):
Yes. Yes. And they can’t bear it. They can’t bear. Like you said, they can’t bear being reduced. The reductio ad absurdum of comedy where youreduce things so they’re ridiculous. Whereas Paul and Ian, that’s all they do every week is they bring things down to size. I mean,
Paul Boross (00:11:17):
I’m interested to go down the rout of can satire really change things in politics anymore. And the reason I did that, because I was talking on the show with John O. Farrell recently. Oh yeah. And he worried that by laughing at something, now he worried that – and I see his point – that people think they’ve done their job by putting up a meme or making a joke. They think they’ve done their job. So they’re no longer actually fighting and out on the streets that it’s kind of like a tick box exercise, job done. And then the government carries
Jimmy Mulville (00:11:56):
On. Yeah, no, that’s true. It’s a psychological phenomenon called moral licencing where you do one thing and you think you’ve done the whole job. So like in America, they use the example. I voted for Barack Obama. I can’t be a racist. And they say, well, do you employ anybody in your company who’s not white. No, <laugh> well, but I can’t be. So it’s basically using one thing to justify the other thing. And I do, I worry sometimes on Have I Got News for You, that we invite somebody on. Like for example, years ago, we invited on Alastair Campbell to host the show and we thought, great, we’re gonna now Muller him about Iraq and Ian steamed into him and basically accused him of being a war criminal. I mean, basically accused him of precipitating an unjust war, which is, of course the worst kind of crime is war anyway is the worst of all possible human endeavours, but an unjust war is the greatest of all crimes. And he kind of, when Ian did his rant, Alastair Campbell looked into the camera and smiled and said, I knew I should have stayed at home tonight. The audience laugh and I’m in the box watching it thinking, are they laughing at Alastair Campbell? Or are they laughing with Alastair Campbell? And if they’re laughing with Alastair Campbell, I’m afraid we have aided and abetted Alastair Campbell to rehabilitate himself.
Jimmy Mulville (00:13:28):
Yeah. And that’s a kind of dilemma really is that you want these people on the show because you want them to be there because they were at the centre of a major historical event, which we still haven’t really got to the bottom of because of the duplicity of that, that whole government. You have to invite them on and then you have to take your chances. But most people come on to Have I Got News For You, what happens to them is that they come off with the, the audience thinking, well, you know, he can’t be all that bad because he did take it on the chin.
Paul Boross (00:13:59):
Well, yeah, it wasn’t that the case with Boris Johnson really, when I thought, and, you know, having talked to people involved at the time that – to use your terminology – you mullered Boris Johnson. Yeah. Yeah. And yet some people went, isn’t that charming and isn’t he great because he, he can take a joke about himself.
Jimmy Mulville (00:14:23):
Yes. Well, of course in those days he was the editor of The Spectator. or he was working on The Spectator. I think he may have been editor. So it’s, before he took political office. But I’m afraid, you know, the research the BBC did shows that he was one of the most popular hosts we ever had. And I know that in the press, they say, oh, we blame, Have I Got News For You for bringing Boris Johnson, you know, making him famous and making him Lord Mayor. But the truth is that that’s what the voters do.
Paul Boross (00:14:52):
Jimmy Mulville (00:14:53):
The voters do that. And so what are you saying that the voters can’t make up their own minds? I mean, the fact is that we’ve had lots of politicians on the show. Not all of them have ended up Prime Minister. Boris Johnson was gonna be Prime Minister, whether he was on Have I Got New For You or not, that was his gig. That’s all he wanted ever to be. And he would’ve done anything to get. I mean, he was voted… he was nominated, not many people remember this. He was nominated. I forget when, I guess about 15 years ago when he did the show, he was nominated best performance in a light entertainment show, for BAFTA, a BAFTA, you can check this out. So I go along with him, I take him along with his wife at the time.
Jimmy Mulville (00:15:37):
I have to say perfectly nice. I’m not gonna sit here and say my personal interactions with Boris Johnson, where he was a horrible person. He wasn’t at all. He was very well mannered and charming. And he sat there as the nominations were being read out. He sat there and it was like, I dunno who it was, it was reading, but the nominations are now for the best performance in a entertainment show are Ant and Dec for whatever it was. Bruce Forsyth for Strictly Come Dancing. Boris Johnson for Have I Got News For You. It was an odd list of people, but Boris really wanted to win that award. He just wanted to win. He wanted to be at the centre of things. I’m not a Boris Johnson supporter, in fact, quite the opposite.
Jimmy Mulville (00:16:23):
And I prefer he was winning BAFTA awards for being funny on television than running the country. But I think we need to be mindful in our debate now in certainly in public debate is what I’ve noticed is the lack of kindness in the way we argue about things these days and the lack of humour. And if we had more humour in our debates and less vilification and just the accusatory and taking people down completely, you know, it’s just a very destructive way of running the country. I think where everybody… Either you are totally right, or you’re totally wrong as, you know, life isn’t like that life’s much more complicated than being totally right and totally wrong.
Paul Boross (00:17:07):
I think that humour is a superpower. And when people have that humour, it can shift everything. And so Boris Johnson and we’ve had William Hague and lots of people from politics on the, on the show, Boris Johnson, whatever you say about him, he is funny on some level. So from a psychological perspective, he’s changing people’s state and that’s a powerful thing. I mean, what do you think, do you think that humour is a superpower?
Jimmy Mulville (00:17:43):
Coming from where I come from in Liverpool, in the ward of Walton, which has always been Labour stronghold, is that my affections are, I am centre left, you know? But I’ve gotta say that the game that we’re playing at the moment is that Boris Johnson you’re quite right, the way he uses humour to sell his message is very effective with people and the British people, we love a posh person who can talk to us. He’s a blokey kind of posh guy who, you know, I would say Alexander Armstrong is the kind of posh bloke. We all love cuz he’s a very nice bloke, he’ll talk to anybody. He doesn’t talk down to you. Now, is that an act on Boris Johnson’s part? Probably, but it’s a good act. I mean, he’s got the act down and he spent years kind of perfecting the act of the kind of rather spontaneous bumbling. Oh, did I say that? I’m very sorry. Um, don’t know what I’m doing kind of guy and it’s very appealing. It’s disarming. That’s what it is. Whereas Kier Starmer is a bit like a headmaster at morning assembly.
Paul Boross (00:18:59):
Jimmy Mulville (00:18:59):
<affirmative> you can’t wait for him to stop.
Paul Boross (00:19:02):
Jimmy Mulville (00:19:03):
And that’s the shame is, you know, he’s obviously a really decent man and I think it’s more to do with the way we run our politics is that, you know, Gordon Brown is a very decent, hardworking politician. Hillary Clinton would’ve made a very good president, but these are people who don’t transmit that common touch – they’re too aloof. And the great thing about comedy is it connects you to people.
Paul Boross (00:19:27):
Yeah. Well, do you think that we’ve been going that way since the JFK v Nixon debate in 1960 when it’s television really took over, which is (no question) medium and suddenly we believe, and I dunno how you feel about that. Could you now be a great communicator in politics or in business without understanding humour or employing humour?
Jimmy Mulville (00:19:56):
I don’t think you can. I think that I mean, the way we, I always say at, at Hat Trick is that having fun at work doesn’t mean wearing silly hats and you know, being stupid. Having fun at work is it’s fuel. It’s a fuel for good work is that you feel, you know, that you can, and the way we run things here is that, you know, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of people who are laughing and they’re, you know, we’re kind of because we’re, we’re being honest with each other. Very often I think honesty, provokes laughter and a great comedian will tell the truth. A great comedian has a kind of shamanic function in society because they tell the truth. They, they put into words what we’ve always known and there they are standing up on stage and they’re telling the truth and the greatest comedians that we have, and especially modern comedians who now do talk in terms of more autobiographical terms, you know, so you’ll get a Russell Brand or a Ricky Gervais or a Dave Chappelle or a Louis CK.
Jimmy Mulville (00:21:05):
I mean not withstanding what happened to him, the fact that he, you know, he got himself cancelled or certainly seemed to – he’s trying to rehabilitate himself. Doesn’t take away from the fact he’s a great comedian and he told, he kind of told the truth, you know? So I think the truth, the truth and humour are bedfellows and who doesn’t want to work with honest people and honest people, you know, often are funny people.
Paul Boross (00:21:34):
That’s really interesting. But the essence of the truth has to be there in all good comedy, doesn’t it? Yeah. Because otherwise people have to recognise I get that. Yeah.
Jimmy Mulville (00:21:45):
Yeah. Totally going back to the docks, there’s a great story about, um, and I hope it’s true. They clamped down on people, stealing things from the ships in the sixties. My grandfather would always come home with a bottle of whiskey, or he, he once came home with a monkey my grandfather. In the 1940s, my mum said, he’d all, you’d be bringing things home from the ships. He’d nick things – they all did off the ships. And he said, he bought this monkey for like a shilling off a Chinese sailor, no health and safety in those days, Paul. And he brought, he brought the monkey home and it stayed in this two bedroom house in Liverpool with my mother, his name is Joey. And it clung to my mother. And it would attack people who went anywhere near my mother.
Jimmy Mulville (00:22:32):
And it grew and grew and grew and they used to keep it under the stairs. And in the end, it escaped at a party and it bit everybody. And they sold it to a circus. So a lot of thieving was going on on the docks and they decided to clamp down on it. They put a policeman on the gate and you’d get searched coming out. And every night you get stopped. And this, this little docker was going out one night with a wheelbarrow. And he had a piece of tarpaulin carefully placed over the wheelbarrow. And the policeman said, what’s in the wheelbarrow? He said, nothing. Nothing at all. He said, take the tarpaulin off. Takes the tappaulin off – nothing in the wheelbarrow. All right, go on. Second night, the wheelbarrow comes out, tarpaulin over the, take, the tar pawing off. He said, there’s nothing in the wheelbarrow. Take the tarpaulin off, take the tarpaulin off nothing in the wheelbarrow. Seven weeks he does this until they discover he’s nicking wheelbarrows.
Paul Boross (00:23:28):
Jimmy Mulville (00:23:32):
So you see, it’s the kind of, you know, there’s a beautiful, he’s worked that out in his head and there’s a kind of beautiful simplicity to that. I think
Paul Boross (00:23:41):
Your father realised that education was one of the ways out, apart from football. Yeah. Obviously, and then you took it very, very seriously. Didn’t it? From a very young
Jimmy Mulville (00:23:53):
Age I did. Well, my dad, you know, said this, you know, there are two ways out, you know, football or education. And he said, I’ve seen you play football. So, dad was very bright and, but he was made to leave school when he was 14, despite winning a scholarship to St. Edwards college, which is a Catholic grammar school in Liverpool at the time. And there was no question. My father was a highly intelligent man, just a, not didn’t have, uh, any kind of education, real kind of deep education. So he was keen and I went to a local comprehensive. But it was a comprehensive that had just been turned to comprehensive after it being a grammar school. So it really, it still was a boys school. So it wasn’t really a true, comprehensive, and they basically nailed together a secondary modern school, which was the kind of more technical school together with a grammar school separated by a half a mile.
Jimmy Mulville (00:24:48):
And they called that comprehensive. So, I went there and the staff room was populated by really brilliant teachers and I was very fortunate that I kind of stumbled across this man called Douglas Cashin who taught Latin. And he said, oh, you know, you should do Latin. You know, you’re good at French try Latin. So I did Latin. And then the end of that year, he said to two or three of us, why don’t you three do Greek? We think you could probably do ancient Greek. And I said, really? He said, yeah, he said, you have to give up chemistry and geography to give, to do Greek. I said, you had me at chemistry. <laugh> I hated both chemistry and geography. So I was up for, and what happened was I went on that journey with him and he drove us down to see a play.
Jimmy Mulville (00:25:38):
It performed in ancient Greek in Cambridge, every three years. There’s the triennial Greek play, where the students perform a Greek tragedy or a Greek comedy. The year I went, it was a Greek comedy, but actually it could have been a tragedy. It was terrible. It was really unfunny. But what I noticed was how beautiful Cambridge was. And, I began to read about Cambridge university and about, you know, Footlights and about all these other things that you could do there. And I just became completely obsessed with trying to get to Cambridge. And he helped me this man. And I ended up getting a place there which, you know, changed my life completely. I mean, you come from a working class background and you go through the kind of Cambridge system. Did it mess with my head a bit, you know, I felt a bit outside of it all, but then I got into football, I got into drinking, I got into the Footlights, you know, and when I found the Footlights, I found my tribe.
Jimmy Mulville (00:26:36):
I found, you know, Rory McGrath was there. Clive Anderson was there, Griff Rhys-Jones in a third year. He kind of he was a big cheese at Cambridge . Clive was president of Footlights when I first auditioned for the Footlights. And I always tease him now cause he auditioned me without looking up from his newspaper, doing a crossword. And I didn’t get the part. So, you know, we kind of, we all found each other and I think it’s very important to find your tribe. I always say to my kids, you know keep looking. You’ll find them and they’ll be out there and it’ll make sense and you’ll feel you’re not alone. You can go on that journey and you have fellow travellers and which is really important.
Paul Boross (00:27:21):
Well, I’m very interested because I think you are quite right about finding your tribe, when I first ended up at the Comedy Store, it was kind of like, there are all these outsiders or outliers who are, who think, I thought I was a little bit mad before, but actually there’s other people who think that, but you’ve got, I’m interested from your perspective. You’ve got a self confessed, addictive personality, and you were obsessive about getting into Cambridge. Yeah. Were you also obsessive about humour once you got into it? Was that another addiction in a sense?
Jimmy Mulville (00:28:03):
Well, the truth is when I got there, I was so paralysed with fear that I didn’t audition for anything in the first year. And I went along to the meeting, it’s called a Squash. It was a freshers meeting where they got all the freshers in to the student theatre called the amateur dramatic club. And it’s a little theatre in Cambridge run for the students. And up on stage was the third year Anthony Root, who was the president of the ADC. And there was a second year representative and there were two first year representatives. And one was called Peter Bennett-Jones.
Paul Boross (00:28:36):
Jimmy Mulville (00:28:37):
Yeah. Who, who ended up being an agent and running Tiger Aspect. And the other was Nicholas Hytner.
Paul Boross (00:28:42):
Jimmy Mulville (00:28:44):
And they were very confident and they were talking about how important it was to, you know, to come forward and audition. I thought, how did they get on stage? They’ve only been here a week like me, but I have to say that coming from where I came from having social confidence was not – that wasn’t on the curriculum. Yeah. Whereas with kids who go through that educational system where they’re taught to be confident, I mean, my kids have all been privately educated and they have, as my oldest son says, it’s a social veneer dad it’s waffer thin, but it gets you through the door. It enables you to shake somebody’s hand, look them in the eye, say hello and talk to them and talk to them, not at them and not avoid them. And it’s a social lubricants, but it’s very effective. And I think a lot of kids I’m involved with a charity now called Classics For All where we’re trying to get Greek and Latin back into state schools because, you know, successive governments have defunded the teaching of Latin and Greek and they’re subjects, which are great social mobility engines, because if you’re good at them, you can get into good universities and, you know, getting into a good university can change your life.
Paul Boross (00:29:53):
You talked about that confidence issue I mean, I completely agree. I went to a comprehensive school 2000 boys. Whilst the Etons and the Harrows teach you to belong and be able to walk into a room, I think you get a whole different kind of grounding and education from mixing with a variety of people. Don’t you think that’s helped you certainly in the sense of bonding with humour and people?
Jimmy Mulville (00:30:21):
Yes. my kids say this. They say, you know, that they they’ve gone off to university and they don’t wanna hang around with the same people they were at school with, you know, they wanna meet other people. And, and that’s why they travelled. And my oldest son went around India on his own. My middle son went around south America. My youngest son has just finished his A levels. He wants to go travelling, cuz travelling does enable you to see things from a different perspective. And I do what, you know, I meet people who have literally gone from public school to Oxbridge, to the city or to the law. And they hang around with the same people – it’s a tribal thing. And, they’re not really experiencing life as it is, you know, lived by many people and having friends from different backgrounds is really, really important.
Jimmy Mulville (00:31:09):
And having friends that don’t agree with you, I think these days, I worry that we, we only now can have a friend if you totally agree with everything. I think, and I, I have friends who vote very differently to me. I have friends who think very differently about a lot of different things to me, but I love them and they’re great people. And I enjoy the fact, they see things in a different way. And I worry now that we’re just with social media, is you only ever meet people who agree with you. And it’s very impoverishing. I think,
Paul Boross (00:31:39):
I think you’re right. I think, but what, what happens and when you meet people, you understand that actually humour is the biggest bonding tool that you can have between those people But I think what happens is that, society never lets these people meet because, you got out of it because you were very driven, very intelligent and you got to Cambridge, so you got to meet these people. Most people never meet them. And so therefore they think they’re not like us. Yeah. They’re completely different. So they, they can’t even get to that level of having a joke because they’ve already put them on a pedestal, haven’t they?
Jimmy Mulville (00:32:23):
Yeah. Yeah. And, and also there’s, there is that fear, prejudice is always based on the fear of the other. And once you get to meet somebody, I always say, it’s very hard to dislike somebody. You really get to know, because you understand where they’re coming from. This, this charity I’m involved with. We’re very keen on getting state school kids to learn these – only if they like them. And recently we managed to get 15 kids from Liverpool and Preston and Blackpool to come down to Cambridge. And there was an open day where the teaching staff of Oxford, Cambridge were talking about classics and the, and the classical Tripos at, at Cambridge and greats at Oxford. And I said, look why don’t we get these kids to stay in a Cambridge college? So I ran my old college up and they were brilliant.
Jimmy Mulville (00:33:10):
They, it was the end of terms. There were no students there. And we had these 15 young people spend the night in a Cambridge college. And the reason why I suggested that was if you wake up in a room in a cloister court in a Cambridge college, then you can immediately imagine yourself being there. And if you can imagine yourself doing something, then you can feasibly do it. If you can’t imagine it in the first place, how on earth are you gonna be able to achieve it? And, I remember Paul Merton saying to me that, you know, when he did his first thing at the Comedy Store, he said, it went, you know, it went alright. It wasn’t great, but he thought, oh, I can do this. I can imagine myself doing this. And of course, then you go on the long journey of becoming proficient asset, which is very difficult. But nevertheless, there is a beginning and you’ve made the beginning. And the first step on the journey is always the most difficult step. But I always encourage people, just give it a go. I’ve, I’ve done many crazy things in my life. I’ve never regretted one of them, even the things that have gone horribly wrong, the things I’ve regretted are the things I haven’t done out of a sense of fear.
Paul Boross (00:34:21):
I absolutely agree. And I think that you’ve always been happy to take risks and to fail really. And I think that’s what really successful people do. And in the business sense, people should really look at that. And if I, I would say, if you fail, fail funny, you know, you get a story out of it, don’t you?
Jimmy Mulville (00:34:44):
Always. We we’ve done some loose on some terrible programmes. The great thing is that we’re a bit like doctors, we bury our mistakes. You know, I can go through a list of programmes now, and you’d have a blank face because you think, I don’t remember that show. I don’t remember that show. I mean, we, we nearly I think we nearly had David Jason’s knighthood taken away from him. We did a show with him called The Royal Bodyguard. And it was a farce and it was a really good script. It’s just that it just didn’t, you know, it didn’t work. And David, Jason is a brilliant, brilliant comic actor. There is no better. And these two guys who wrote it, wrote the show for me called Worst Week of my Life, which was a brilliant show.
Jimmy Mulville (00:35:24):
But, you know, getting a hit comedy show is like catching lightning in a bottle. Yeah. And it didn’t work. And I remember one of my kids was reading the Daily Mirror at the time and said, why did the Daily Mirror not like you dad? And it was a piece about how, how shit this programme was <laugh> and David was very gracious about it. He said, look, these things happen. Don’t worry about it. The fact is, I always say to people, younger producers here, if things go wrong, have 19 minutes feeling sorry for yourself and in the 20th minute, think of something else to do. Just do the next thing, cuz there’s always the next, the two most hopeful words in the English language are next time.
Paul Boross (00:36:03):
Yeah. Oh, that’s brilliant advice for anyone actually, but you you’ve displayed extraordinary, resilience of your time. Do you think that humour, aids that resilience? Do you think it gives a perspective?
Jimmy Mulville (00:36:16):
Yeah, I genuinely think that, that, um, that if you can, as I say, if you can laugh at your own misfortunes, I mean, obviously not immediately, cuz that would be kind of psychotic, but you know, when you look back on things that go horribly wrong, cause you’ve survived them. See, there’s a kind of survival thing is that when I just went recently, went on a walking trip with Rory McGrath and Peter Fincham and Clive Anderson and Griff Rees Jones. We used to have this, this group in the late seventies called An Evening Without and An Evening Without was a kind of sketch group that we had. And so we started a WhatsApp group for our walking trip. We went to the Basque country and we called our group Walking with Dinosaurs <laugh> and a lot of the trip was spent, just talking about when we were young and about things that went horribly wrong and you know, gigs that we did that were terrible. And we were laughing cuz actually that’s we survived. It, it doesn’t matter. I always say to my children, if you can make as many mistakes as I’ve made and just keep going, it all works out in the end and it, you know, it’s that old aphorism , you know, it’ll be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.
Paul Boross (00:37:32):
And it’s comedy is tragedy plus time.
Jimmy Mulville (00:37:36):
Exactly. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s what I say about getting good scripts that actually have both of those things in them. Like when Bleasdale was at his height of his powers, he could have a brilliant joke. I was asked to do a talk called my favourite things and I chose a bunch of things. One of them was Everton winning the FA cup in 1966 when they came back from two nil down, a much overlooked FA cup final. But there was one scene that Alan Bleasdale wrote in Boys From The Black Stuff. When the Yosser story you may remember with Bernard Hill. Yeah. Brilliant portrayal figure. Yeah. Giz a job. And he ends up in a confessional booth with a young priest and it begins with a closeup of a biscuit going into a cup of tea, pulling out to reveal
Jimmy Mulville (00:38:22):
a priest – tells you a lot about what Alan thought about the Catholic church – that a very bored young priest suddenly Yosser Hughes’ faces at the grill. He’s saying I’m desperate father. I’m desperate. My name’s Yosser Hughes. I’m desperate. And the father says we don’t use first names here, my son. And it goes on like this until the very end the priest gives in and says, all right, my name is Daniel. You can call me Dan. And at the end of the scene, he says me name’s, Yosser Hughes, I’m desperate, Dan. Right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> now I did that to 200 people and they, I showed them the clip and they laugh. And I said, now that, that joke at the end of that scene, did that in any way rob you of the tragedy of that man’s circumstances everyone went, No! I said, well, I tell you what if I’d have sent that script into a drama department and taken Alan Bleasdale’s name off it? The first note I would’ve got was take the joke off the end of the scene. It’s robbing it of the drama. No, it’s not. It’s highlighting the drama and that’s what humour can do.
Paul Boross (00:39:19):
Yeah. And heightens it really? Yeah. You talked about Everton again and I wanted to come back. Do people who don’t like football, miss something in the sense of the humour, do you think the whole experience of football and football people and humour is vital to that whole essence of it,
Jimmy Mulville (00:39:41):
Certainly the banter, you know, and like I say, if you live in Liverpool and Everton lose the weekend, Liverpool win, you have to develop some kind of carapace, some armour to protect yourself. So yeah, I do and again, it is that tribal thing of some of the, um, you know, some of the songs which are broadcast, you know, can be very insightful. Well, as a football fan, you know, I just love talking about football. I love going up on the train with Everton fans. And invariably, we talk about, you know, the times when things went wrong, um, cuz that’s part of being a fan. I mean, I always, I kind of now feel sorry for Man City fans cuz they’re like lottery winners.
Paul Boross (00:40:33):
Jimmy Mulville (00:40:33):
You know, they can’t believe their luck. And so now they’re rather Regal and if they lose a game they’re suicidal.
Paul Boross (00:40:41):
Jimmy Mulville (00:40:42):
Um, and I’m so pleased for Manchester United fans now is that they’re experiencing the real full, you know, 360 degree experience of being a football fan where their team is just abysmal.
Paul Boross (00:40:52):
We had Kevin Day who’s, you’ve worked with for years on and obviously a huge palace fan. And he said football is the baseline of his life. And there are times when he’s deeply miserable and he’ll go to football and it will change his state. And he said, it’s an escape, but more importantly, a sense of belonging. And I kind of really get that
Jimmy Mulville (00:41:15):
Well, my dad took me to football to Everton when I was about four years of age and I’ve been going ever since. And I take my sons along and it’s a kind of thread, you know, it’s not just about football, it’s about your family and you’re right. I mean, Kevin’s right. It’s mood altering you know, football is definitely mood altering. And that’s why in a way Everton’s football ground is right in the middle of the community that I was born in. I was went to the school next door when I was a kid, the primary school it’s called Gladys Street. I went there from the age of five to 11. My family home is a 10 minute walk from Everton’s football ground. And it’ll be a shame when it, I mean, it’s right, that it’s going to a bigger stadium somewhere else, but it’ll be a shame because that football ground sits right in the middle of these terraced houses. So the aerial view is a patch of green surrounded by the community, which it served. And so it’s all about that. It’s about community. It’s about your history, about your family history and it’s been a fantastic aspect of my life. I take my football very seriously.
Paul Boross (00:42:25):
Well, and actually it probably means that you’ll have please God, a long life, because one of these studies that they’ve done is that they found this anomaly in America when they were studying about how long people lived. And they found a place where they lived on average 13 years, longer than everywhere else. And all these social scientists went. We must have discovered the most healthy place in the world. I bet they’re all vegans. They don’t smoke, they don’t drink and everything. And when they got there, there were overweight people smoking, drinking, but they had this extraordinary community. Anybody’s barn fell down, they all went around and did it. And a community is what presents longevity. And what do you get in communities? You get laughter you get humour.
Jimmy Mulville (00:43:15):
Paul Boross (00:43:16):
It brings people to that space. You’ve been very honest over the years. And I just want to touch on this briefly cause I’m interested in about your struggles with drinking drugs in the early days. Yes. Yeah. Was humour important to that recovery and is it still important to maintaining good mental health?
Jimmy Mulville (00:43:37):
Totally. I mean regularly I meet other people who, who are recovering alcoholics and addicts and we talk about things. We talk about our week, we talk about things that happened and it normally ends up with us laughing at the experiences that we’ve had. You hear some great things. One bloke could have been describing my family. He said, my family said we like to drink. In fact, the only time we refused a drink was if we misunderstood the question
Paul Boross (00:44:06):
Jimmy Mulville (00:44:07):
And you know, and I came from that family and you know, it definitely, definitely that gallows humour, again it’s the humour of the survivor is that you are sitting in a room with people and they’ve all come back from that brink of addiction. Then there is a kind of inner knowledge that you’ve been very lucky. You’ve survived it. And also you can’t bullshit a bullshitter you know, you’re talking to people about things and it’s very, in a healthy way, it deflates the ego, you know, it brings you back down to earth about what is really important. So I would say that having fun and being, and having a laugh is absolutely essential to mental health. If you look at Donald Trump, a man who never has ever said anything remotely funny in his life, or certainly not in public and a man who seems to have no ability to be teased is florid mental illness, flurid mental illness,.Margaret Thatcher towards certainly towards the end of the eighties, florid mental illness. Just the inability to see yourself in any other way, other than being right. You know, someone said to me a long time ago, Jimmy, you gotta make a decision in your life. Do you wanna be right all the time or happy?
Paul Boross (00:45:32):
Jimmy Mulville (00:45:33):
Great. Because actually laughing at yourself is also an admission an admission of your humanity. And if you’re not human, then what the hell are you?
Paul Boross (00:45:43):
Well, I couldn’t agree more. And it leads me on beautifully to because you’ve been fabulously successful in business for many years. If I asked you to write a business case for other people in business for why humour is important, what would you include in an actual business case? Cuz you’ve talked about you make sure people have fun at Hatr Tick yeah. For other people. Why is it important?
Jimmy Mulville (00:46:10):
I once attended, we sold Hat Trick to a private equity company in 2002, we sold half the company and there were very nice people and the first board meeting I had to report that a show we were making in America, which would’ve made as a fortune, had been cancelled. And at the end of the meeting, the man who ran the private equity company said, wow, he said your business he said, it’s quite, uh, ha quite volatile. Isn’t it? He says, is there anything we can do to help mitigate some of the, you know, the ups and the downs of it, the kind of rollercoaster nature of this business? And I said, well, I dunno. I said, I was actually thinking of getting your seats at the board table fitted with safety belts <laugh> so you could strap yourself in. And he laughed. And the thing is that he realised what he just said was ridiculous.
Jimmy Mulville (00:47:03):
That there is no way of creating an atmosphere where you’re making television and there’s a certainty to it. Creating, creating TV hits is a very uncertain business. You don’t create them very often and there’s a lot of failure along the way. But what I’d say about, you know, employing humour is that it is, like I said, if you can make a joke about yourself, I once attended a course at the behest of this private equity company. He said, look, all of our portfolio companies their leaders go on this, go on this day course. And we had this man who was a professor of business at the London Business School. Right. And he was the son of Terence Alexander, the actor who was in Bergerac. He played Charlie in Bergerac and he looked like his dad, his name was Marcus Alexander. And I thought, you know, I was sitting on my hands thinking, oh my God, this guy’s a professor of business. Jesus Christ. This is gonna be a boring 45 minutes. And he said, hello? He said, yes, I’m a Professor of Business. I’m the kind of person that looks at a business that’s working perfectly well in practise and then says, ah, yes, but does it work in theory? Right. And he disarmed everybody. Cuz he made a joke about, in a way how ridiculous his job was. Yeah. And now I’m listening to him now I’m really listening to this guy. Cause I’m thinking this guy’s unusual.
Paul Boross (00:48:30):
Jimmy Mulville (00:48:31):
<affirmative> right. So it’s about how do you open a door through which you can walk and have a real conversation with somebody? I think humour is a fantastic key to open that door. Because if I come in and tell you how brilliant I am and all the great shows that we’ve done and all that thing the drawbridge comes up because then you start being defensive and you start thinking, well, I’m gonna tell him how great I am. Cuz if I come in and say, my God, I’ve had a shit morning, this, this, this, and this happened and we have a laugh about it. Then what are we? We’re both human beings trying to make sense of our lives, which is a much more accurate description of me than someone who, if you read out my CV, someone said ne never confuse your CV with your real life.
Paul Boross (00:49:13):
Jimmy Mulville (00:49:14):
Lovely. Cause actually, if you can bring your own humanity into what you do for a living, well, you feel better about yourself and everybody working with you feels better. I say to my kids, the most powerful thing you can do in a room full of people is say, I don’t know. I dunno, what are we gonna do? I don’t know. And then other people come in and say, well, what about this? And what about this? If I walk into a meeting saying, listen guys, thump the table, listen, this is what we’re gonna do, everybody then is shut down. So it’s about, I think humour allows you to go into a room and say, look, I’m a bit of a fuck up. I dunno what I’m doing. What are we gonna do about this problem?
Paul Boross (00:49:50):
And therefore creativity is allowed to blossom. Yes. Because you’ve created the atmosphere whereby people are allowed to be creative.
Jimmy Mulville (00:49:59):
Yeah. And in a writing room, I think it’s important to say, all right, how about this? This is a terrible, this is not the idea. This is a terrible idea. How about this? Yeah. And then you, you pitch something which, you know, isn’t that great, but then they’ve seen you pitch something in the room that is not that great. It makes it a safe space for people to take their trousers down, you know?
Paul Boross (00:50:20):
Fantastic. I love that. Absolutely love that. We’ve reached the point in the show, Jimmy, which we like to call quick fire
Jimmy Mulville (00:50:28):
Questions. Oh my God. Okay.
Quick Fire Questions.
Paul Boross (00:50:34):
Who is the funniest business person now you’ve worked with pretty much every other comedian who’s known to man, but somebody in business who you think is funny.
Jimmy Mulville (00:50:47):
Well actually and I don’t know him that well, but whenever I’ve heard or spoken to or heard Michael grade, there’s a man who can tell a funny anecdote about himself.
Paul Boross (00:50:58):
Well, that’s funny. You said that. Cause I mentioned William G. Stewart and he did the eulogy at William G Stewart’s funeral. Yeah. Because Grady used to be Bill’s agent.
Jimmy Mulville (00:51:09):
Yes. And Michael’s done most jobs in the industry and he’s got funny stories mainly featuring himself, not getting it right and it’s a very, as I say, it’s a very disarming thing, but I mean, you’re right. I met lots of funny people. I mean, Rory McGrath makes me laugh more than anybody else in the world. And my oldest son is objectively a very, very funny bloke but I think Michael, in terms of business in my business world, I think when I think about it, he instinctively came to mind.
Paul Boross (00:51:47):
No, that’s brilliant. And just so you know, three people on this podcast in answer to this question have mentioned your name.
Jimmy Mulville (00:51:55):
Oh, blimey. That’s… Okay.
Paul Boross (00:51:59):
That’s, that’s always nice to know. Isn’t it? What book makes you laugh?
Jimmy Mulville (00:52:04):
Oh my God. Well, literally anything by PG Woodhouse, I actually think I’ve sat on a tube reading PG Woodhouse, laughing my ass off. Is that his…the way he can manage a sentence? I mean, I remember his description of a character whose name, I forget now where he said he looked as though he’d been poured into his suit and had forgotten to say when <laugh>
Paul Boross (00:52:32):
Jimmy Mulville (00:52:33):
You know, it’s just that, and it’s elegance and it’s funny and it just pictures, he paints pictures so I think there’s that. And when I was a young man, I read Puckoon by Spike Milligan which again, just made me laugh out loud. Yeah.
Paul Boross (00:52:48):
Oh no brilliant answers. What film makes you laugh? Jimmy?
Jimmy Mulville (00:52:52):
A funny film? Thing is when I look at films, funny films, I’m always thinking I’m always deconstructing them in a way.
Paul Boross (00:53:05):
It’s like comedians watching other comedians. Their reaction is always like ‘funny’
Jimmy Mulville (00:53:09):
Yeah. You go funny. That’s funny. You’re not laughing. I remember was my son, my oldest son who wants to write. He and I went on the Robert McKee thing, the Robert McKee. Oh yeah. And that day it was the genre of comedy. And he said these people, he said, I have my utmost admiration for, they are in the most difficult genre they can possibly be. And he said, and there, some of the angriest people I’ve ever met in my life, <laugh> he said, think about their terminology, punchlines gags, and (Dying) yes, killing. I killed them tonight. And our homework was to watch A Fish called Wanda. And we went through A Fish Called Wanda, which actually has some very funny bits in it. Although if I’m honest, I find it a bit creaky these days.
Jimmy Mulville (00:53:56):
And there was a scene. He goes through it scene by scene, by scene, by scene. And Joe had said to me, he been on the course the day before where they were discussing action adventure films. And he said to me, it’s full of people dad that put their hands up for no reason. Just to say something, honestly, they’re just assholes. So I think he was saying to me, don’t put your hand up, right? <laugh> yeah. So we come to a scene. You may remember where they go into the diamond dealers to steal the diamonds. And Kevin Klein has a tiny bow and arrow, and he uses the bow and arrow to go through the bars and hit the button, which opens the gates. They go and steal the diamonds. On the way out he puts an apple on a guy’s head and you think, oh, what’s he gonna do?
Jimmy Mulville (00:54:36):
Now? He does nothing. He just walks out and the apple falls off the head in a wide shot and he stops the scene. And Robert McKee says all day, we’ve been talking about set up and payoff set up and payoff. Why did he put the apple on the head? And someone said, put the hand up, Joe’s looking at me saying, what did I tell you? They all put their hands up. Um, oh, because he’s put the apple on the head to invoke the William Tell moment. And Robin McKee said, yeah, but there’s no payoff. So he said, what would be the payoff? And so a lot of people were pitching their payoffs and he’s going, no, no, no, no, no. I can’t now not put my hand up. I put my hand up. Right. And Joe’s staring at me. And he says, yes, guy at the back. I said, my feeling is they shot this. It was an improvised moment. And they didn’t have the footage to cut it out. It’s a terrible moment in the film.
Jimmy Mulville (00:55:27):
And he said to me, have you been to my course before I said, no, I’ve just lived through that moment a million times where you haven’t got enough coverage to get a terrible moment out in a comedy that you wanna get out. Because John Cleese is in love with Kevin Klein, Kevin Klein, improvised that moment on the day, they’ve all laughed their asses off thinking. It’s the funniest thing they’ve gone into the edit. It’s a really unfunny moment. So a long answer to your question is that I love, you know, Steve Martin, back in the day, anything with Steve Martin used to make me howl with laughter.
Paul Boross (00:55:59):
Jimmy Mulville (00:55:59):
The jerk. Yeah, The Man, With Two Brains when he was on form, I think Steve Martin was hard to beat in terms of movies, but also I loved more gentle companies like The Lavender Hill Mob. You know, I grew up watching those with my mother on a Sunday afternoon. Those kinds of films as well, I think have a real place in my heart.
Paul Boross (00:56:17):
We’re gonna take a shift to the other side. And I know that you are gonna have a lot of opinions about this, cuz I know your thoughts on cancel culture and everything. Yeah. But the question is, what’s not funny?
Jimmy Mulville (00:56:30):
In terms of subject matter. I don’t think there are so few things that are not funny. I always found, you know, being preached at is not funny. I think that there was a, you know, with the birth of the Comedy Store, of course it released into the community thousands of people who thought they were funny. And I think that a good joke will bite somebody on the bottom somewhere and it will cause offence somewhere like we’ve discussed. But I think that you could go through cancer, paedophilia, death, all kinds of things, but in the right hands, if you have the right approach to any subject, you can be insightful satirical and funny about it. Um, you just gotta tread very, very carefully. And you can do a comedy which has a racist character in it or a sexist character in it.
Jimmy Mulville (00:57:32):
And these days you’ll get the notes saying this show’s a bit racist and saying, no, it’s not, the character is racist, but in the show we see this character getting their comeuppance. But in order to portray somebody as a racist or a sexist, they have to be racist and sexist in the show. It doesn’t mean that the show is that. And I think that’s the debate is it’s the debate because of a lot of debate now is on social media, which absolutely doesn’t allow for any ambiguity or nuance or complicated debate. It’s just basically black and white. You’re right. You know, I’m right. You are wrong. Is it’s getting harder and harder to, to make those jokes. I think if that’s the kind of way you’re heading with this, it’s getting more and more difficult to, to have ambivalence in jokes where you’ll, you’ll tread that line, that comedians like, you know, Louis C K and Russell Brand and Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle, they tread that line. They make you think about things.
Paul Boross (00:58:32):
Absolutely. What word makes you laugh, Jimmy?
Jimmy Mulville (00:58:36):
Well, there are classic words like cucumber, of course and if you say a word often enough it can, I remember once doing a show with David Crane who wrote Friends and Jeffrey Clary brilliant writers, and they wrote a show called Episodes, which we did here. (Great show). and there was a character in it. Matt LeBlanc got off with a very nice young woman and she was telling Tamsin Greg and Stephen, Mangan the two English writers who are in the kitchen with Matt and this young woman. And obviously Matt, the woman who spent the night together and she’s in his shirt in one of his shirts and they’re having coffee. And she’s telling a long story about how she met Matt in Jamba juice, Jamba juice. And she keeps saying, Jamba juice, Jamba juice, Jamba juice. And in the end, Tamsin says, could you please stop saying Jamba juice? Cause in the end, if you say something often enough, it always sounds ridiculous.
Paul Boross (00:59:34):
And cucumber sticks in the Neil Simon,
Jimmy Mulville (00:59:38):
Anything with a ‘k’ in it. Yeah. Neil
Paul Boross (00:59:40):
Simon. It’s The Sunshine Boys, Isn’t it?
Jimmy Mulville (00:59:42):
Yeah. Lettuce is not so funny, but cucumber always gets a laugh.
Paul Boross (00:59:45):
<laugh> exactly. You went to Cambridge, would you rather be considered clever or funny?
Jimmy Mulville (00:59:54):
I actually think it’s a great barometer. Isn’t it like again? I mean, I hate to keep using Donald Trump, but he’s a very stupid man because he is not very funny. And I think they go hand in glove. I think that anyone who can laugh is demonstrating an intelligence and a resonance with what is really going on. So if you can, if your mind is that sophisticated, that you can enjoy/ingest a funny remark, make sense of it. And then involuntarily, it goes to your, what Ken Dodd would call kind of your funny muscle is that then I think you are naturally, you know, you’re not a stupid person. If you can laugh. And in fact, the French have a joke. Unbelievably, actually, you can’t take a man seriously who doesn’t laugh?
Paul Boross (01:00:39):
Ah, very nice.
Jimmy Mulville (01:00:40):
Even the French have spotted that!
Paul Boross (01:00:42):
And finally, Jimmy Desert Island Gags, you can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What is it?
Jimmy Mulville (01:00:51):
Oh my God, I don’t really do jokes, there was a… I was once in Ireland and this old guy said, uh, your company does Father Ted, right? So suddenly he thought I’m the bloke all day he’s gonna tell jokes to. So he told me a thousand jokes in a day this old Irishman. And there’s one joke. He says, he says, there’s a duck. A duck goes into a pub. And he asks the barman for a pint of Guinness and a pie. And the barman is… Sure. And he gives the duck a pint of Guinness and a pie. And the duck does his crossword. And the barman says to the duck what brings you around here? Then he says I’m a plaster. I’m working on a building site.
Jimmy Mulville (01:01:35):
I’m a plaster, the duck says. You’re a plasterer? He said yes. So the duck comes in every day and he asks for a pint and a pie and he does his crossword. While he’s working around the corner as a plasterer. And then one day a guy comes in and the barman pulls him a pint. He says, what are you doing? He said, well, I’m with the circus. And the circus is coming to town next week. And the barman says well Jesus I’ve got someone for you. I’ve got a talking duck. I’ve got a duck. He comes in here every day. He asks for a pint and a pie. And he’s a talking duck. You should, you should see him. And the man who runs the circus, I’d like to meet that. I’d like to meet that duck. He sounds right up by street. So, later on that day, the duck comes in and the barman says, listen, I’ve got something for you. The circus is in town next week. And they want to see you. And duck says, really? He said, yes. He said, so the circus, remind me, it’s like a tent, isn’t it. Right. It’s got, it’s got round canvas walls right? Round canvas walls. That’s right. He said, what the fuck would they need a plaster for?
Jimmy Mulville (01:02:37):
Like I say, I don’t tell jokes, but that, that one did make me laugh. When, when he told me he told it a lot better than I did.
Paul Boross (01:02:43):
No, no. You told it beautifully. And you’ve
Jimmy Mulville (01:02:45):
Been, can I use the F word on your podcast by the way?
Paul Boross (01:02:48):
Fuck it. Use it!
Jimmy Mulville (01:02:48):
It. Okay. Sometimes you have to use the word F you gotta use it.
Paul Boross (01:02:55):
And by the way, the rhythm of it is what works. Yeah. Anyway, Jimmy, thank you so much. Thanks for the, your beautiful humour, your beautiful humility, and being a wonderful guest on the Humourology podcast.
Jimmy Mulville (01:03:10):
Thanks, Paul. It’s been a pleasure. It really has.
Paul Boross (01:03:14):
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.