Part of the Humourology series
Season 1, Episode 4
Scott Quinnell tackles humour head on and wins!
Sometimes, life (and work) can be no laughing matter. But, in this week’s episode, rugby legend, raconteur and all-round good guy, Scott Quinnell, speaks to Paul Boross about how having heart and humour through hardships will make you a confident captain on and off the pitch.
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In this hilarious edition of the Humourology Podcast, find out how learning to laugh at yourself is often the best way to lead.
As Scott says, “If you take yourself seriously 24/7, then there’s not gonna be much else in your life to be able to hold on to when things don’t quite go right”.
Find out how you can to Play for Laughs to Win at Life.
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Humourology Podcast with Scott Quinell
– Never ever be frightened to make a mistake. Because if you’re scared of making a mistake, you ain’t going to be the best person you’re going to be.
– Welcome to the Humourology Podcast with me, Paul Boross, and my glittering lineup of guests from the worlds of business, sports and entertainment. Who are going to share their wisdom and their use of humour. Humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve your business success and your life. Humourology puts the fun into business fundamentals, increases the value of your laughing stock, and puts a punchline back into your bottom line. Please remember to like, subscribe, and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. My guest on this edition of the Humourology Podcast is rightly considered a legend in the world of rugby. He comes from a spectacular rugby dynasty that includes Merv the Swerve, the King and his dad. He excelled at both codes, captained his country, and has been on two British Lions tours. Since retiring from rugby, he’s been equally successful in the world of media, as a hilarious inspirational speaker, author, TV presenter and pundit. Passion, pride, heart and humour are at the core of everything he does. Scott Quinnell, welcome to the Humourology Podcast.
– Mr. Boross, good to be here with you. How are you?
– Oh I’m all the better for seeing you, my friend. How are you?
– I am marvelous. I didn’t realise I was related to the King! Barry John was known as the King, an outside-half, one of the greatest. I genuinely got excited then that I was related to the royal family. So I do apologise, so I’ve got a big smile on my face.
– I thought it was Elvis, but never mind it was–
– Ah, huh. I have no hip movement. Oh no, that’s Tom Jones, in it. Tom Jones definitely, I have no hip movement. So yeah. Just the outside half, the King.
– The King, an absolute King as well.
– How are you?
– I’m very well and I’m very excited to see you again and speak to you again. Because we’ve worked together over the last 10 years and had so much fun. So when I was doing the Humourology Podcast list, you were always number one because you’ve always been fun in every business that we’ve been involved in. So today–
– I am going to watch them all now, just to see how many people you tell that. I’m going to watch all of them now and then I’ll probably be down. I’ll probably be at 15 by the end.
– I’m not sure you’re going to make it as high as 15 though, to be honest.
– I’ve only got an attention span for 15.
– Sport today is considered to be a serious business. Was there more fun in your day?
– I think they still have fun now you look at the boys. And I’m lucky enough that I used to work for the Welsh Union in the media. And you see the guys now and they’re having some fun and you’re getting out there, you’re seeing those characters come out and they’ve still got the funny hairdos and they’re still walking around, they’re still playing pranks on each other. There’s not so much alcohol taken, I think in the modern day, as they do. And when we were back we were playing, it was the humour that really got you through. The amateur times was slightly different ’cause you’d only train maybe on a Tuesday and a Thursday, play on a Saturday. But when it becomes professional, you spend more time with each other, then you really do become of a family. You work in six days a week with each other. And if you don’t have some fun, then it’s going to be a long over season.
– How important do you think the word becoming like a family is for any business, whether that’s a sports team or whether that’s a… You do a lot of corporate work these days, to bring them together as a family, how important do you think that is?
– I think it’s absolutely vital. I think you need a shared common goal, decide whether you want this, you need all to understand where you’re going, you all going to need to understand what you need to achieve, whether it’s a sports franchise, whether it’s business, whether you’re just working in a small group or a group of 1,000 people. If we don’t know where they’re all going then what’s the point in doing what you’re doing? I think humour brings a lot into that, especially if you have to gather locked in sport to be travelling a lot, you spend a lot of time in the changing rooms, I think as a professional athlete, it’s not the only time you’d say this, the amount of time that you get to rest and recuperate and have the wonderful facilities in and around you the ice baths, the cryotherapy chambers, it’s just not these what it brings. And if you don’t have the humour in and around that, there was one guy he dealt with us in the Scarlet and his name was Ian Boobyer. And he was a brilliant opposite forward. He was a brilliant man, he’s a brilliant man. But he brought the humour to it, every week somebody would have their trainers or their shoes or after the game, you’d be going to get changed and get tidy and your shoes would be put in the freezer, put in iced bucket, put in the freezer, you come out and there are your shoes wet and everybody would have a giggle, laugh about it apart from… if they were your shoes. And he would bring quizzes on buses or on a plane and he would bring the logistical thinking quizzes, and everybody would just have a laugh and everybody would get engaged, and it was a common trend throughout the squad, but he was the catalyst of that. And I never forget we would, in Italy and he was following one of the players around and as he was following one of the players around, he went from week to week to week, and then we went to France, and we played with North Hampton and we went out to Italy, the third week of the European Cup. And he was outside one of the players rooms and all we hear was, Booobbiiiaaaaa! He’d ripped the last four pages out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography and he’d been waiting for three weeks for them to find out that he’d ripped the last three pages off. And everybody came out, everybody had a giggle. The player involved doesn’t know what has happened to Sir Alex Ferguson to this day. And if I told you he was them now, he’d be on the phone and he would tell me. But it was brilliant, it was things that got. There was… I never forget the likes of Dwayne Peel, Stephen Jones. We used to have life-size characters, cut-out cardboard, lying in the stadium, as it was then. And we were training one day and they managed to stick the cardboard cut out of Rob McBryde in the back of their car, and they lived not too far away, and they left early, the forwards ended their session so we were going home a bit late. Then on the roundabout outside Robin’s house, was Robin’s cardboard cutout dressed up as a woman with a little handbag on his arm. He came back in the following day, he was absolutely, well he was furious but laughing as much as he could at the same time. I think one of the best things I ever did was to… Mark Jones said that, he got back to his base in Australia in 2003. And the boys get, I presume it was Dwayne Peele and Stephen Jones, ’cause they were the characters at the time. There was a sheep put into his room before they went training, and they went training before I was getting back, and the sheep had made a little bit of a mess in his bedroom. So, yeah, you need those characters in the team. If you don’t have that then you have long days.
– So what do you think it actually brings to a team? Is it just that it lightens the load or it gives you a reason to bond? What’s the most important thing about humour, about laughter in team situations?
– I think the important thing with humour is the fact that when you’re struggling and when the team is struggling because when things are going well, everybody’s buoyant and everybody’s happy and every sort of a cloud nine, it’s absolutely brilliant. But when you’re struggling, that’s the important time it’s when you need somebody just to pick you up somebody just to say something, somebody just to do something, somebody just to break that silence and say, I put everything in perspective. And once you’ll be able to do that, then I think you can discuss what’s happening and then you can get on with it. Until that happens, I think everybody sort of gets down on themself. I think a lot of the time it’s, you go back to the old adage, “a problem shared is a problem halved.” And you could do a lot of that through humour. And I think the people do that a lot through humour. You ever look at that great comedians that’ve been around people who have struggled maybe with depression, or they’ve struggled to be able to get onstage. It’s because, humour and becoming somebody else allows them to understand where they were, what was so bad, why they were struggling and getting on that stage they become somebody else. And that for an hour or more by the time, that when you’re in distressful situation, somebody just says one thing could change your mindset and pushed you in a different direction.
– I think that’s so true and I know that when you’re doing your keynote speeches and your after dinners and your inspirational speaking, that you always a make sure that everybody in the team knows that, and when we work together. But you are one of those people who not only says it, you walk the walk, and talk the talk at the same time. And that’s very unusual for people to be able to do both. And I should tell, we’ve worked together for a number of years on TV shows and things. And actually every time we’ve been together over many series, you have always been the person who has gelled the whole crew and brought them together. How important do you think that is in any team to have people who bring people together rather than push people apart?
– It’s vital you all know where you’re going. As we said, it’s vital that you have a common goal. And through that common goal, I think it gets important that, you myself, I do my best, and you can ask other people to do exactly the same. Everybody’s got different qualities. You’ve got to understand what qualities people have. I always say to people, it’s important to know the people that need a hug, or need a coach in Wales. It’s important to know people who need a tap on the shoulder. It’s important to know the people that need encouragement. It’s important to know the people who need a kick off the backside. It’s important to know the people who need to be challenged. It’s important to know the people that need to be encouraged in the right direction, ’cause we’re all different. That’s the big deal of the human race, is that we’re all different and we all come together. And when you are in the team of 15 play in, but 23 match day, or maybe 35 to 45 in a squad, everybody is totally different that if you treat everybody the same, then, you will have lots of different outcomes. If you coach somebody who needs a kick of the backside, they’re going to react in a different way, to the kick of the backside. So it’s important in identifying what people need. It’s important as a captain or the coach, or as a senior authority in a team environment to understand what those people need. And if you can do that, I think you can grow as a squad, you can grow as a team, and you can grow as an individual as well.
– I think it’s so right. And one of the things that you and I have talked about in our book “Leader on the Pitch” is also about listening, isn’t it? And what you just described there was the ultimate listening. Who needs what? You have to be aware. And I think great leaders are great listeners.
– I think you’re exactly right. I think you need to understand what people need around you. But I think a lot of people don’t understand through that. When you talk about a good listener, it’s not only hearing what they say, it’s seeing how they see it, it’s seeing how they do it. It’s expressing themselves. And so many businesses, and in so many sports, people are saying the right thing, but will gesture the wrong thing. I think you need… If somebody says I’m absolutely fine and walks away with their head down and you know they’re not fine, and then something else is needed, more intervention is needed. If you can do that through a team, an individual, if you do that through humour, that’s how I’ve always dealt with things, it’s through humour. If you can make somebody laugh, you can get them on your side and you could pull a team together with a common goal and then let every individual, believe they’ve come up with the game plan in their own different way that everybody then buys into it. If you go out poking the finger, telling you got to do this, you got to do that, you got to do this, you got to do that, becomes a dictatorship. And then when the shit hits a fan, people walk away.
– Brilliant levels of listening
– I thought this was about humour. Tell us a joke.
– What but…
– Tell us a joke
– But humour is levels of listening.
– And I think that’s a takeaway for our viewers and our listeners is that…
– Well the thing… this is what I love about comedy, this is what I love about humour is the fact that if you go along to a rugby game, and you get involved with the rugby game and there’s 72 and a half thousand people, get involved with the rugby game, that noise is incredible. The noise is just absolutely wonderful. And that noise pushes that individual, the team to success, and it’s a huge, huge part of it. We’re seeing that now with COVID-19, we’re seeing that now, AFL games and NFL games, we’re seeing that in cricket now, we’re seeing that in football where the crowd plays a huge part, it’s not there, it’s not quite the same. We see that when you go to a music festival, or you go to a gig, when it was Coldplay a couple of years ago, one of the greatest gigs that I’ve been to. It was all about movement, it was all about the flashy bands, it was all about the brilliant, it was all about the singing along, it was all about the passion, it was all about the moment, the being in the moment, you decide to put your phone down, just be in the moment. Now, if you did that when you went to see a comedy gig, it wouldn’t work. If you’re seeing the brilliant Lee Evans standing on stage for an hour and a half, two hours, if you joked along with him, it’s a different environment. It’s a different humour altogether, that’s called heckling. So I think that’s why, when you talk about humour, you talk about, it’s the ability to be able to listen, to be able to dissent 20,000 people down on their backside and for them not to say anything for two hours, I think is the biggest skill of all.
– What makes you laugh? You just mentioned Lee Evans, who also Alistair McGowan, on our show mentioned as one of his favourites. Who else makes you laugh?
– Billy Connolly, Growing up just watching Billy Connolly. And the one thing I love about Billy Connolly is that when he gets on stage, you almost feel as if that routine was the first time he’s ever done that routine. Because he puts a lot of thing about the local, when he did the trip around the world, and when he did those, there was always something about the local community. There was always something, but they was probably the local community in every community. But it meant so much to the people that were there because he engaged them, he made them feel a part of the show. And if you can make most people feel a part of the show, and you could still say the things that you want to say, and it’s probably wasn’t the same routine every night, then it keeps it fresh with him, it keeps it fresh for the audience, and they both have a fantastic time. Billy Connolly sort of Lee Evans, this type of guy, he’s almost as if you are in their front room, listening to them, have a beer and just regale tales. That for me is I think absolute class.
– Tell me a true funny story about something that’s happened to you.
– Oh, talking of music festivals, right? Every time I go to a music festival, I end up in the comedy tent because it’s where you gravitate to a half past nine, 10 o’clock at night. The comedians come on, you buy the film sure but I mean, it’s absolutely brilliant. You could go to the same gig every night for a week, and you probably think you seen it for the first time. I never forget that I was with my kids and my wife Nic, Sam, Lucy in the Green Man festival. And we had such a good night, I think it was a Friday night. We had such a good night, oh, it was brilliant. We were there and it’s James. Jim was on, he played the piano, played his songs. And the comedy was just, oh, till about two o’clock in the morning, everybody was just in stitches. And then on the following day, I’m out having a bit of food, and my daughter, Lucy, she comes over, she said, “Dad!” I said, “What’s the matter darling?” She said “Dad,” she said, “I went to the comedy tent just now,” she said, “and that’s all the guy he talked about was his book, it was shit.” I said, “Darling what are on on about?” She said, “I’ve just come from the comedy tent, “he was all places, all he talked about was writing a book.” I said, “Darling, the comedy tent “doesn’t start till half past nine, it’s a literary tent in the day.” And she was like, “Oh, that will explain it then, it wasn’t a bad book.” And I thought I stopped that, I thought, ah, that’s just brilliant. That is just brilliant. I got to figure that routine, I got to put that routine into my after dinner because that, yeah. I almost cracked a smile, but as you can see, I didn’t.
– Do you think everyone is funny?
– I think everybody has the capability of being funny. Right, I do. I’ve got a couple of friends who think they’re funny and aren’t, but because of that, they’re funny, it’s the truth of it. I think a lot of people are quite funny, but can’t tell stories. I think you get… There’s a couple of people, I won’t mention now because they live in my house and the story is brilliant and what they’re trying to say is brilliant, but doesn’t always come across. So I them to write them down and I pinch them, it’s quite good. So I think everybody has the ability to be funny. And I think humour is what unites the world in that respect. I think some music, I think sport, I think comedy is the one common denominator that will always bring us together.
– Well, on the back of that, what would the world be like without humour?
– The problem you got you see is we’ve gone quite deep here it is that we don’t know any different so, I think that because we don’t know any different, we would sit down on a Thursday or Friday night and we watch “Heart Beat”, and we will watch “Have I Got News For You” and we watched “QI” and we will just lap it up. If they weren’t on, what else would we be doing? I say guys, that is the thing, because humour has always been a part of our lives. And whenever we sit down, we have a glass of wine, we have some food. I think we just try to make each other laugh. And because we trying to make each other laugh, we got a common goal in that respect. I couldn’t imagine not having humour in my life because it’ll be just boring. I genuinely, I could not imagine it. And of course, everybody’s humour is different. That’s what I love. People talk about to me, they love country music or they love R & B, or they like house, or they like grunge, or they like pop, or they like 70s, or they like 80s. What’s wrong with people that like 80s music ’cause unless they’re watching you. And comedy is the same, comedy is exactly the same. You know what I mean? Nobody will like every comedian, you find the one that tickles your funny bone and you go with that.
– Yeah so it gets to people’s heart. There is something in us, which is, how come we love funny people so much because we put them on a pedestal, don’t we? Why is that always true around the world?
– Because it takes you to a different place. It takes you to a different place. It allows you to forget about the everyday woes as they say, and just be put into a different place, a different mindset, It’ll change your mood, it’ll change a lot of things that you have in your body. It will give you the ability to be able to… They say that laughing makes you happy, puts you in a different mood. If you get up in the morning and you’re grumpy, you going to be grumpy for the rest of the day. If you get up and you smile, you’ll be happy for the rest of the day. And I think that’s wonderful. Who is it that says “are you out?” “or are you out, out?”, Mickey Flanagan, and honestly, my wife has watched Mickey Flanagan live probably 30 times. And every time you get something slightly different from it, but you’ll see all your mates and former mates, are you coming out? He says are you out? Or out, out? And he just said, that’s just amazing. That’s just amazing, that is how comedy works. And then Eddie Murphy, when he did a routine about dropping ice cream, ♪ I’ve got an ice cream ♪ ♪ I’ve got… ♪ He drops it. Oh, you know, and people are still singing that. If somebody drops an ice cream, that’s the first thing I think of, is that it’s just those wonderful, wonderful moments in your life and the genius that these people have is just incredible, absolutely incredible.
– Do you find yourself funny?
– My children and my wife say yes, because I say something and then I laugh or even worse, I will laugh and then say something. So I got to be honest, if I did a gig and there was 30 in the audience, I’d be happy. I think I’d be all right. I think I’d be all right.
– Well, the funny thing is, I think that’s the perfect answer because as a psychologist, what I would say is that part of a comedian’s job is to actually or anybody who wants to be funny, wants to be liked, wants to have people laugh with them, is that they have to go into that state first.
– And that state transfers over to other people, because I’ve always said that you’re infectious, haven’t I?
– But I’m not giving you tablets for it. The thing is, you need to talk about that, right? I think I’m more likely to laugh myself. I like a lot of people, they are perfectionists and they want to do everything right. I’m kind of the opposite because I don’t mind making mistakes because a lot of the time it’s quite funny. So I’m in the mindset of because I struggled, I will go back because I was dyslexic and struggled to read and write everything. I suppose that’s my coping strategy. So where you might of fought, or you became funny, now I’m not that funny, I don’t have a bloody good fighter, that so you choose,
– I think I’d rather laugh with you than to fight you, to be honest with you.
– I think it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you can’t take the mickey out to other people. If you’re in a room of people, and you take something personally that they say, then it’s all wrong. You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself before you expect other people to laugh at you.
– Do you think that’s a big mistake that leaders in business don’t get? Because there is that, I work in big companies and with CEOs and you sometimes find those leaders who want to be taken seriously at all times, and they leave no room for anybody to humanise them if you like, don’t you think that’s a big mistake?
– I think it is. I think you’ve got to have a balance, if you’re leading an organisation or you’re leading a group of people, if you’re captain of Wales, it can’t all just be a joke, you’re going to have 90% of serious and then 10% of it, then there’s got to be, you’ve got to find humour in some sort of it. If you’re running a big organisation, you got to be able to make sure that you get your work done, and you’ve got to get it done in a process, in a way. I think if you add the humour to it, I think it certainly adds value to you and to your team. It certainly adds value into the business, it adds value to the core if you can add humour to it. I think that’s the vital thing. The fact that you can’t just go in there ’cause if you take yourself seriously 24/7, then there’s not going to be much else in your life really, to be able to hold on to. And when things don’t quite go right, then that seriousness, that certainly becomes a darker place to be in I think. I’ve worked with some brilliant CEOs over the years, where they really, really, really do. I’ve worked with people that have been on stage and have come out and dress up in fancy dress costume, just to make 2,000 of their employees laugh. Because if your CEO can walk on with a funny costume and make people laugh, then yes you take them seriously because you wouldn’t be in that position in the first place but you know he’s got a human side to him as well. And I think that is vital in bringing people together.
– So do you think people laugh enough at the workplace or it feels like work’s over here, fun’s after work, do you think there should be more laughter in the workplace?
– It’s very difficult to answer that part because I’ve always worked in an environment where we’ve had fun. So I have been working for myself for long periods of time, and we got a candle business now. And I do a lot more after dinner speaking, and worked at the union, worked for Sky for years, and then I’ll do some radio, I’ll do some presenting on television. If you don’t, if I was an unable to laugh in those situations, I probably wouldn’t be doing the job. So, for me, it’s very important for me I need to feel comfortable, I need to feel good around other people. And I’ve always said, it’s nice to work with nice people. If you could do that, and you could find payment through that then it’s wonderful. I don’t think I would last long in an organisation if it was too serious.
– So what advice would you give to people who are in offices? Who are leading groups? How do you think they can in, apart from inviting you in to speak to their teams and giving them the energy and the laughs that are involved in that. How else do you think you can get humour into everyday life at work?
– I think a lot of it is down to the individuals, a lot of it is down to putting the right people, in the right places. If you get the right team in and you get the right balance of the right team, then it’s a lot easier to work with those people around you. You need to have the skill set that you need to do the job, and then you need to have the balance of bringing people together. You need to have somebody who’s maybe really really serious and then somebody who is not quite so serious to bring the team together, that gel. Some of the most incredible minds and some of the funniest people that I’ve seen are surgeons. I’ve got a friend who’s a neurosurgeon, and he’s one of the funniest guys that you’ll ever see. Quite dark humour. But if they don’t have that, then if you work and you have a look at what we’re going through at the moment, you have a look at the frontline nurses, and doctors, and porters and clinic staff, and everybody in hospitals, if they don’t have a sense of humour in what they do and camaraderie as a team and togetherness, they would not have gotten through this. They would not be getting us through this because it’s a dark, dark place, it’s a different frontline that they’ve ever experienced before. It’s a different frontline that we’ve ever experienced before. And a lot of that is a team coming together through humour, and if they can do that, then I think it’s a very, very special place to be as well.
– I think you’re completely right. And one of the questions that I ask a lot of people, especially business people who are on this podcast, billionaires and CEOs who were on the podcast is, how do you make a business?
– Wow, what do I do again?
– You told me I would get a billion if I had you on.
– I thought it’s yin and yang is it? It’s yin and yang and I’m yang.
– You are
– I’m not billionaire yin, I’m not.
– Billionaire yangy.
– Yes, but I always say what’s the business case for having more humour at work. And I think you’ve just come up with one of the ideal things in the business case is camaraderie.
– It engenders camaraderie. And guess what, if you have people who feel like they are together as a unit, they’re more likely to push you forward and give you more for your business. Do you think that’s true?
– Absolutely and I think we’ve seen that, I was lucky enough, to do stuff with Carol Vorderman, and we did the “Great indoors” on BBC1 Wales for eight weeks through the lockdown and people are sending us in videos of dancing, doing TikToks they were sending us videos of young children. And also there was Rocco, wayne Rocco was brilliant, he did Shane Williams scoring a try, then he did, Dan Biggar doing a kick, on Twitter yesterday, he was doing Jamie Roberts. And you just think it’s just wonderful that humour brings your smile to everybody’s face. You see nurses and doctors do music. We’ve seen them dancing in the corridors, during their break time to break that heaviness that they have gone into day in day out of saving these lives that they are the front line. If you don’t have that, and you don’t have that outlet to be able to get the frustrations out, get some humour back in, to be able to go and cope and do another shift, to be able to go and put a smile on somebody else’s face. Because a lot of the time they don’t feel like doing the job themselves. They’ve been in frightening positions. And if they can’t put the bright brave smile on their face and who’s going to and I think that’s the biggest thing. When you talk about camaraderie and you talk about, play a sport and you talk about, health workers on the frontline and you talk about people who are running billion pound businesses, then when the shit hits the fan, or when you’re in a place that nobody wants to be, then you have got to then become somebody else. And by doing that, you can do something to that through humour. Or you can do that, like the great Stephen Fry, I said before. When he walks on stage becomes somebody else for that hour. And when he comes off stage again, you can sometimes, go in and have some mental health issues of… And it’s the ability to be able to do that. Then hopefully through humans, through people, through camaraderie, people around you will know who needs that cultural, needs a kick up the bum, who needs that, how can I help you, needs that challenge to be able to push you forward and through the other side.
– So I mean, I completely agree. And I think that’s really interesting from a business case is that if you encourage, I know in sport that they encourage teams to go out and celebrate together and bond together. And if you encourage that, there is a real return on investment, you can.
– Yeah absolutely. If you bring people together and you bring people together in the right way, and you take them out and the 1997 Loins tour, we did team ball doing things and in 2001, Graham Henry turned us into a maraca marching band. I think I was playing. I don’t think I could play the symbol.
– You mean a mariachi marching band?
– What did I say?
– You said maraca but…
– Well, I was playing maracas. That’s all it was, but we were both right. But that’s something that’s at the top of your comfort zone, something totally different, took your mind out through the fact that we’re going to play a British and Irish Lions tour in South Africa, in Australia or go down New Zealand. And brings you together. There’s a couple of business books that brings you together, good coffee bring you together. The fact that you stand up, but in all this, I think finding out where you want to go, where you want to go, whether it’s as a spoken franchise, whether it’s a business, whether it’s in your personal life, you got to know where you want to go. Because if you don’t know where you going, how the hell are you going to get there?
– So true. So true. Have you ever taken a joke too far? Well, I think we both know the answer to that one, don’t we?
– Yeah well, what’s too far? What is too far?
– Well crossing the line. I mean I don’t think…
– I got my own spray paint just in case, if you got to put another line in the sand. Yeah. Yeah. But how would you learn if you’re a comedian, you go on tour to find out where the line is. And I think, yeah. Sometimes you say something and they all just go, ooh. Sometimes the unknown non-practice, sometimes over the line is a place you need to be. So who knows until you’ve been there.
– I’ve always said that the comedians naturally have to push the line. And the interesting thing I’ve always said about you is you have all the instincts of a comedian because you will push things far, you will naturally do things that comedians called back, which is referring to something, you will naturally, you have natural funny bones. Was that always there? Was the seven year old Scott Quinnell naturally funny?
– Because I’ve got a poor memory, I don’t know. I’m like a goldfish is you go sort of keep them around the bowl, ooh, Ooh, I’ve never seen that before or can I phone a friend? Can I phone a friend? It’s one of those, I do think when I was younger, I was very, very quiet. I was quite insular. I wasn’t the guy… I wasn’t the young kid who wanted to go to parties. My mother would drop me off at the door of my friend’s party and I would run back in the car and I’d go home. I’m quite a loner. I like travelling by myself. It’s just one of those situations where you got to. When you play sport, you got to become somebody else. When you sometimes stand up on stage, I wouldn’t say half the things I say on stage as myself. I know I wouldn’t have the confidence to be able to do it. You put a mic in my hand, then it sort of changes a little bit. I wouldn’t like to be around myself all the time that that guy on stage. It’s that ability to be able to go out and just be somebody else for an hour, an hour and a half. But I have the core values, the core values are always there, the core values of wanting to help people, the core values of wanting to be the best you can be not taking myself too serious, the core values of trying to help people. And if you can put all that into one basket, that when I played rugby, it took me 24 hours to become Scott Quinnell the rugby player. Because if I did what I did on the rugby field, in the supermarket, I’d be arrested. I’d been retired two years and I try to plough through the bakery aisle and they weren’t happy. I got to be honest, I took out 2 people, and scored a try with a baguette in the corner and I thought it was a fantastic try myself, but no, I was kicked out.
– But that’s really interesting in the sense that you are becoming somebody else. And actually, I think for, for people viewing this or listening to this, it is possible to take on a new coat and put on a new coat and become somebody else. You can learn to be a leader. You can learn to be funnier. You can learn to have new skill sets. You’ve just really encapsulated. I’ve known you for years and you’ve always been quick, funny, witty, charming, but you’re saying actually I had to put that on to an extent, and then it becomes part of your personality. So how did you do that?
– You learn to do it, could you imagine when you were 10, 15, 20, 25 even, of standing up in front of a room of 2,000 people, and somebody saying to you, go make ’em laugh, go make ’em smile. You couldn’t do it, could you? You just couldn’t do it. And then, I remember I retired at 32 and I did my first after dinner speech and went with my wife after I did my first after dinner speech. And I thought it went quite okay and my wife said, “Well no that was good.”, And I said yeah but, it didn’t, and then my wife saw me two years later and she said, “Oh my God” She said, “you’ve improved.” I said, well I’ve done 200 since then. And I think the more you do, the more confidence you get out of it. But I come back to that thing that we talked about earlier, never ever, ever be frightened to make a mistake, because if you’re scared of making a mistake, you ain’t going to be the best person you’re going to be. And the more mistakes you make, then I think the better you actually become.
– But you see, I completely agree, but I think that’s bravery. In a sense, it’s like being brave enough to put yourself out there to all the people on this podcast have reached a very high level in different areas of the world. That could be in business, that could be in sport, that could be in entertainment, but actually the one thing everybody understands is humour is the key to that but also bravery, being brave enough to make a joke of it, being brave enough to laugh at yourself, being brave enough to push the boundaries, to push yourself out of your own comfort zone. And that’s a big part of humour, isn’t it? Giving it a go, being brave enough, in your case standing up on stage when you’re 32, brave.
– I would rather face the England 99, 2001, 2002, 2003 pack. The New Zealand All Blacks pack than stand up in front of somebody when I was 32. I would have taken the whole pack off myself rather than stand up in a group of 10 people. Now, if the pack turned left into the change room, I’m grabbing the mic and go on to talk to 30,000 people. Oh no, I think, it takes a little bit getting used to, you’ve got the ability to be able not to take yourself too seriously and get up and try new things and find new things that work and usual things that work and put a smile on people’s face, and you need to have the ability to laugh things off when things don’t go right. You know what I mean? That’s almost a contradiction in terms, but it’s just the best feeling in the world. If you’re standing on stage and there’s 5,000 people laugh at something that you just said, that’s oh… you can win a game of rugby, you can score to try but for that moment, the endorphins and the ability to be able to stand there and just think, awwh that is absolutely amazing. Does not happen very often but…
– Well, by the way, when we’re doing our trainings or I’m seeing you on stage doing your inspirational talks, it happens all the time. But why does it happen all the time? Because you’ve worked at it. And that’s what I would say to everybody listening to this who wants to get better in business is actually, there’s a great case in point, somebody who excelled at one thing and then managed to take that and excel at another thing in media. Why is that happened? Because you were brave enough to try. And I think what, it’s a short life. If you don’t try these things, if you aren’t brave, you’re never going to know. I mean, the amount of people, you and I when we’ve trained people to public speak and everything, it’s the public speaking is the number one fear in the world, death is number six. I mean, it’s that ridiculous?
– Dying on stage must be the worst thing ever.
– Well, neither of us would know.
– Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’ve never walked off it early, I insisted on going on. But it’s one of those things, right? Where I was a rugby player, I started playing rugby at age 8 and finished at 32 now I’m 47 and that’s what I’ve done. People sort of say, Oh, great, fair play. After rugby, I finished 15 years ago. And it does take work and I say to the guys that are coming up now and they sort of go, Scott, can you stand up and do that? I say to them it takes time, it takes work and you have your knock backs, but you go and then eventually you thrive on it. And I think that’s the most important thing is if you love what you do, then I think it, it shows as well.
– Have you ever gotten yourself out of trouble, maybe on the pitch, maybe off the pitch by using humour?
– Yeah, well, I don’t get, I’m quite lucky ’cause I don’t really get myself in that much trouble. So, I’ve got a bit of a home bird. I like my home, I like the family, I like the dogs and the cats. So yeah, on the pitch, honestly, if Martin Johnson went over to me and he was going to clock me well I wouldn’t go knock, knock. You know what I mean? I wouldn’t be doing that. probably there’ll be a bit of fisticuffs in that scenario. I wouldn’t be telling jokes on the field, but definitely, it’s a corporate strategy. If you could diffuse situations, we’ve done it on school of hard knocks, but not on training teachers and we’ve done it where if things do tend to get a little bit, angry like that… and you go hey please, stay calm and collected, absolutely fine. We’d solve this out, no problem at all, make one of them laugh. All of a sudden they forgot what they were doing in the first place. So yes, of course it’s a tactic that you can use in life. a tactic that you can use in sport, in business, it’s the structure. And if you can use a structure like that, then I think humour is the best policy for doing it.
– Well, it’s 100% right and from a psychological point of view, it’s state change. If you want to change anybody’s state well you can get them angry, or if you make them laugh, it will go much better for you. Did you want an angry Martin Johnson or a laughing Martin Johnson in front of you?
– Oh, I tickle him every time I see him though.
– In business as in sport, is it the survival of the fittest or the survival of the funniest?
– I think when you have a look at that, I think it’s a measure of both. I think, it’s a measure of the fittest on the field, whether it’s in a board room, whether you can really go to the job that you do while there. Funny, if you accentuate people, if you have a bit of humour as well. I think that’s the most important thing. I think if you’re in a boardroom and you can make other people laugh, if you’re in an office, you could make people laugh. If you’re on the rugby field and you can make people laugh, then I think you accentuate all the other attributes that you can bring to an organisation. I think that’s the most important thing is the fact that, you can tell the joke, or you can have a little joke or you can play a little joke or you can do that in around the team environment, in around business environment is actually a bit brilliant. If you do that, I think you elevate the team to another level.
– So in business, it is the survival of the funniest because that is the ultimate level.
– I think if you go into a business, you go into a team environment. If you are at the exact same level as the person that you are going against, and you can bring a little bit more humour, you can bring a little bit more to the party, as they say, I think have a better chance in landing the job.
– We’re now going to go to the section of the podcast.
– What? The sextion. We’ve go a section, Thought I heard a tinkle. We go to the section of the podcast, which we like to call quickfire questions. We always say that we’re going to have a jingle, but we haven’t got one. Who is the funniest business person you’ve met?
– Funniest business person? Oh, there’s a guy back there, Natwest actually, I was used to stuff for Natwest He always started any meeting with a joke and it wasn’t a very good joke half the time, but it just absolutely settled the room and had them in the hand after all that.
– What book makes you laugh?
– I have a toilet book. It’s “1001 Jokes” and I’ve got two volumes of it, so that’s 2,000 jokes, and I can’t remember any of them. It’s one of those where you go, and this is a goldfish syndrome again, every time I go and I read and I go and I go downstairs and I’ve forgotten all about it.
– What film makes you laugh?
– Oh, what film makes me laugh? “Step brothers.” I love ‘Step brothers.”
– What word makes you laugh? It’s okay. It’s a podcast. You can say it. I saw you just say, I can’t say that in your own head.
– No, it’s not because I can’t really say it, because it’s poo. I need you to say, all the words you can choose from, it’s just poo. I don’t know why you got to just I never say it myself, so when somebody says, I just think fucking prude It’s just poo.
– Okay. On a serious note, what’s not funny?
– I dunno. You can make anything funny.
– Isn’t anything not funny? What’s not funny feel?
– Well. There’s things I don’t find funny, but I always say that you should be able to find a way into it. I don’t like disabled jokes for instance, I just don’t like it. But then, one of the comedians on the Last Leg, is doing a joke about that, then I can find it funny. So context.
– But the thing is right, you see that my mate, Mike the pirate, who I play golf with three times a week, right? Mike the pirate, has only got one leg. And if he beats me, I always tell him on the 18th, always tell him on the 18th, it’s okay for you, I’ve got two bad knees. So, I dunno.
– Everything is funny in the right context.
– Well, I don’t think everything’s funny. I think you could find humour in most things.
– Would you rather be considered clever or funny?
– Gotcha, I never going to be clever. So it’s got to be funny. So I’ve got a doctorate from MMU. I’ve got a chancellor’s award from Cardiff Metropolitan university. I’ve only ever been to university for two half days. And that’s only because I was quite funny. So I don’t know.
– Well, no, it stands to reason. Desert Island gags is our final thing. If you were on a desert Island and you could only take one joke with you, what would it be?
– I’m on my own.
– Who am I going to tell it to?
– Well, remember you’ve got a goldfish memory, so you’re going to find it funny every day.
– Oh, that’s true. Catalina wine mixer. That was the one I was thinking of earlier. See I told you I had a short memory that’s yeah, right, my joke. Well, one are ones I can’t tell, and one’s I can. I have three balloons, mommy balloon, daddy balloon, baby balloon, all seated in the bed. And daddy balloon says one day, “right baby balloon”, we’re all getting a little bit too big now, we’re all puffing up, we’re all getting bigger, he said, you’re going to have to go and sleep in your own room. Baby balloon was not happy about it. But he went and slept in his own room. Now baby balloon was quite an intelligent balloon, so he got up halfway through the night and said, If I leave a little bit of air out of daddy balloon, and I leave a little bit of air out of mommy balloon, and I take a little bit of air out of me, we’d all fit in the bed really, really nice. And in the morning, daddy balloon wakes up and he looks at mommy balloon, he looks at baby ballon and his says to baby balloon, “Now baby balloon, I’m not very happy. You’ve let me down, you’ve let your mother down, but more importantly, you’ve let yourself down”.
– And that will keep you entertained on the desert Island for years on end.
– Catalina Wine Mixer.
– Scott Quinnell. Thank you so much for being my guest on the Humourology Podcast. It’s always a blast.
– The Humourology Podcast was hosted by Paul Boross, and produced by Simon Backs. Music by Steve Hayworth. Creative direction by Les Hughes and additional research by Helen Sykes. Please remember to subscribe, like and leave a review, wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a Big Sky production.