Part of the Humourology series
Season 1, Episode 27
The Best of The Best – Highlights from Season One. Part One
The Humourology Team has highlighted the most heartwarming and hilarious moments from the first 26 episodes of The Humourology Podcast. Listen, Learn, and Laugh with Season One’s most loveable moments
Listen, enjoy and subscribe where you get your podcasts
Paul Boross reviews the best moments from the past season of The Humourology Podcast. Join us as we highlight the hilarity of our high-profile guests from Season 1.
Laugh and learn life-changing lessons that will better your business and create connections with the people around you. Listen as the power of humour permeates through the people who use it most. Experienced experts know that the best leaders can use humour to bring people together.
Join us this week as we take a look back at some of the best conversations about business, success, and the power of humour to better your business and improve your life. Only on The Humourology Podcast.
Find out more about what Paul has been up to
Following him on Twitter
He’s also on Facebook
or Connect on Linkedin
Hosts & Guests
Read the podcast
Sometimes we prefer to read rather than listen, so here is a full transcript of the podcast for you to enjoy.
Click to see the transcript of the podcast
Best of the Best – Highlights from Season One. Part One
Paul Boross 0:00
Welcome to The Humourology Podcast with me, Paul Boross with my glittering lineup of guests from the worlds of business, sport and entertainment, who are going to share their wisdom and their use of humour with you. humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve your business and your life. numerology puts the fun into business fundamentals, increases the value of your laughing stock, and puts a punch line back into your bottom line. Please remember to like, subscribe, and leave a review. Wherever you get your podcasts.
Dave Johns 0:36
Hi I’m Dave John’s I’m a guest on Paul Boross’s Humourology Podcast
Paul Boross 0:41
Do you think everybody can be funny? Can learn to be funny? Or do you think there is funny in your DNA?
Dave Johns 0:50
I think with comics, there’s you… you can learn to tell a joke. And you can learn to write a joke. But the best comics have got that thing, they can just read the room. There are some people who are great at maths, there are some people who can play or chat, there are some people who couldn’t tell a joke to save their life. You can get a couple of nice little jokes that you can use in a meeting, or you can use in a presentation that you go Alright, well, this works. But I always say to, to anybody who says to me, oh, I’m doing the best man speech or something like that. And I go, Well, you know,
if you feel uncomfortable, and you don’t want to, because everybody wants to be…, like I think the best man speeches where the best man’s hilarious, you know. and I say just talk from the heart really. And maybe have a couple of nice little gags. But you know, you have to, if you’re going out on a big conference, and you’re going to do a risky joke, that could be deadly… Or you could just hit it right and it could bring the bloody house down. You know, it just you bought it, but it usually does that when the person is known for having a good sense of humour, you know. And reading a room is a very difficult thing to explain. It’s a gut reaction. You know, it’s a gut reaction when you walk into a room, you know.
Alastair Campbell 2:19
Hi, there, Alastair. Campbell.
Paul Boross 2:21
You talked about funny stories have you… you must have a myriad of funny stories of things that happened to you. That now looking back are funny, can you share one of them with us?
Alastair Campbell 2:32
Well, the one that I use a lot in the days when we were still doing after dinner speaking, is a true story about not far from here, where I live Hampstead Heath running track. And I was out running in the area of the track. And it was dark, and there was a guy getting mugged. And I could tell he was getting mugged. And I saw that he was on the ground. He’s being kicked. And I thought what do you do? Like, you know, there were four or five kids who were kicking, beating this guy. So I did this thing where I ran across, but I was throwing out different voices in different accents to pretend that I was like a squad of policeman arriving. Anyway, they scarpered. And this guy was he had blood coming out the side of his head. His nose was all bent, he was really, really badly shaken up. And I said, “Look I’ll take it to the hospital”. He said, “No, no, no, I’m fine. I’m meeting… I’m meant to be meeting some friends at the church just around the corner in Savenake Road, maybe if you could take me there. I took him there. I handed them over to these people. And I said, Listen, you need to give me a ring. And you should report it to the police, right. And I didn’t see much, but I can at least tell him something. So I gave him I wrote my name. And my number down. Alastair Campbell 077 I put my number gave him the piece of paper. And he looked at it and he said, Oh my god, you’re Alastair Campbell. I said, Yeah. He said, I fucking hate you!
Ebony Rainford-Brent 3:58
Hi, I’m Ebony Rainford-Brent,
Paul Boross 4:00
What is the role of attitude play in all this?
Ebony Rainford-Brent 4:04
Yeah, look attitude is vital. I don’t know if you’ve all heard of a lady called Carol Dweck, who wrote a book called Growth Mindset. And it’s, you know, it’s one of the best books you could could read. Because I think that’s all you want is your environment to want to continually improve. But without the capacity to accept failure, and to be able to be in an environment and a culture that allows that to happen, you’re not going to grow. You know, I think about my career. My one goal in life as a batter was to get 100 and the amount of times I’ve walked across that line, Paul, I can tell you day in day out and got your naughts, you got your 20s you got your 30s and you have to walk back across the line, the honest truth is you failed. You know, it wasn’t a success on paper. But if you have the attitude to say, well, I’ll get straight back in the nets and work on the next phase of it. That’s the key is the having the humour or having the light heartedness to having the perception that it’s it’s a fun process. It’s kind of like uncovering and discovering. That’s what you want. That’s what you want from your employees. That’s what you want from your teams, environments that are just so open and accepting to those sort of conditions that you just keep finding a way of growing. So, yeah, I think there’s a really good concept by Simon Sinek, which talks about the infinite game, and to play in an infinite game, it was all about growth. It’s all about dynamism and just cracking on really.
Paul Boross 5:29
Yeah, I love the American expression, which is that your attitude defines your altitude. In other words, how high you will go. And I think what holds a lot of people back and that’s business leaders, that’s people in sport that’s people in showbiz. This is the attitude of, I can’t do it. I won’t do it. And winners like yourself, always have that. Okay, I didn’t get 100 today, but guess what, I’m gonna work that little bit harder to get 100 next time.
Alistair McGowan 6:04
Hi, I’m not Harry Kane. I’m actually Alastair McGowan.. And I’m asking you to listen to… what’s his name? Paul Boross. Paul Boross’s Humourology podcast.
I mean, I remember years ago, I mean, I started in what 1990? In 1992. I can remember it vividly actuall about 94. I was in Manchester and I’d done a gig the night before and I hung around that night, stayed with a friend. The next day, I went and bumped into one of the audience members and this this fella came up to me and he said to me, he said, I enjoyed the show, he said, but you shouldn’t be doing Julian Clary, you shouldn’t be doing Julian Clary, because you’re not gay. And you’re doing Julian Clary, and it’s offensive to the gay community if you’re doing Julian Clary, and I thought… I’ had to sort of be dragged away from an argument this guy by my friend because I was saying if I don’t do people as an impressionist, you know, and everybody did, Julian in those days ofcourse, you knew him well, and probably still do, Paul. And it was a wonderful voice do and Julian was everywhere, on the television and being very funny, I thank you.
But if I said, I’m not going to do a gay character, because I’m not gay, then I’m sort of being aware that there’s a difference. And I’m ostracising that community, if you like, from my act, and you think what sort of world is that? When you can’t do or you know, nowadays, Alan Carr, who’s how you can’t do well, in part because you haven’t got big teeth or something? Or, or because you’re not gay or because you’re not from Northhampton, and you think…well, on what grounds can you now impersonate anybody or make any joke? It’s, it’s just gone so far that you know, and also causing offence to a point is what motivated a lot of comedians of our generation not causing offence to individuals or groups, I suppose. But I mean, look at someone like Jimmy Carr, he pushes it as far as he can, and will always upset somebody with practically every joke he comes out with, but you accept that and you think, yeah, but it’s a joke, you know, it’s… But then do jokes reinforce stereotypes? Do they reinforce a pecking order within society and within within an office situation, within a business situation? I think that’s important, are you – with your humour- actually reinforcing the stereotypical situation?
Marcus Brigstocke 8:16
Hello, I’m Marcus Brigstocke and very soon I’ll be appearing with Paul Boross on the Humourology Podcast, you should listen to it.
Paul Boross 8:22
What advice would you give to people about dealing with hecklers? Somebody who has to get up and make a speech, a business event or a wedding?
Marcus Brigstocke 8:32
This is, this is easy.It’s easier than everyone thinks. So the number of people who ask me and all of my friends about a best man speech, that’s the one that’s what people come to you for. I’ve got a deliver best man speech, what should I do? What should I do? And you go, well what do you want to do? And they’ll always tell you the same thing that always say, I thought I’d get up and call the groom a bit of a twat. And then I’d say how many people he’d shagged. And then I’d mention the time he crashed his car. And I give them the same advice every time. I say, get up at the beginning of your speech and say, tell the audience how much you love the groom. Tell them this is my dear, dear friend, and he’s asked me to be his best man. And I am so happy to see him here today, doing this beautiful thing. marrying someone who he loves who I’m coming to know and who I love. And it makes me so happy. Right? That audience will allow that best man to be the least funny human on Earth. Dry and to and I’m talking about someone then trying to be funny. It couldn’t matter less. So, the advice is simple. It’s be nice. Be nice.
William Hague 9:55
Hello, this is William Hague.
Paul Boross 9:56
So what would your advice be for people who are making business speeches, for instance?
William Hague 10:03
Well, I think my advice for business speech, or any sort of speech is, the main thing to decide is what is the message of your speech, the serious message of it, and, and to have a clear structure of your speech so that people can follow the argument. And then you put the words around that it’s only like, it’s like building a building, you need the foundations, you need the structure, then you put the bricks on, and that those are the words, well, then when you’re at that stage, it might be appropriate to decorate it with some flourishes. Or it might be appropriate to draw particular attention to some part of your structure with something that turns out to be quite humorous, but it has to be built on it. It’s not like, Okay, we’ve got a speech. And now we’ve got a joke that we happen to know. So we’ll stick this joke into the speech? Well, no, no, the humour has to arise from the speech. And so it’s not just that you happen to know something humorous. So my advice is to think of it that way.
Paul Boross 11:12
And also, I would argue, from a psychological standpoint, I’d kind of go to the Maya Angelou, people don’t remember what you said to them, they remember how you, you’ve made them feel. And if you’ve made somebody laugh, you’ve actually made them feel joyous for want of another word. So you’ve shifted their state. Do you think that’s true?
William Hague 11:37
Well, yes, I think that’s right. You’ve studied this much more than I have. So I hadn’t really thought about it like that. I think you’re right. Yes, the way I think about it is that if you want to hold an audience’s attention, you have to get them to do things, you know, because of course, faced with somebody talking one person talking continuously, people’s minds drift off, the human brain wasn’t really… didn’t evolve, for that. To just sit, you know, around the campfire listening to the same person for an hour. So therefore, if you’re going to impose on that brain, this long monologue, you do have to liven it up for them to keep them engaged. Now that can be from getting them to applaud or to cheer. Or to cry but very often, the best way of doing that is to get them to laugh that reengages them, gives them some connection with the speaker, and it gets their attention back. And so I often tell people, if they’re going up to be selected as a parliamentary candidate, for instance, and they’ve just got 10 minutes to give a speech to a group of people they’ve never seen before to get them to vote for them. I say, well, you make sure that every 90 seconds you get that audience to do something. It might be to laugh, it might be to clap, but they will remember you. They’ve got to try to remember 10 different people who appeared before them for 10 minutes. And if you get them to do something every 90 seconds, they will remember you.
Rory Sutherland 13:15
Hi, my name is Rory Sutherland, and I’ll shortly be appearing on The Humourology Podcast. And so the reason I’m kind of a bit famous accidentally is I made a kind of gag on Ted, where I said, Look, they’re spending 6 billion reducing the journey time between Paris and London. And they’re laying down new tracks between St Pancras and Folkstone and the coast. And this will reduce the journey time by about 40 minutes, it’ll cost 6 billion quid. And then I said, you know, the serious point, are we absolutely sure that you wouldn’t achieve the same extra desirability of the journey, not by reducing its duration, but by simply putting Wi Fi on the trains, which wouldn’t cost 6 billion it would cost about 40+ million… if you wanted 5G along the tracks, it would probably cost 50 or 60 million, but it might actually have a greater effect in getting people to abandon the aircraft for the train. And then I added the gag if you really want to go large here, why don’t you just employ all of the world’s top male and female supermodels, get them to walk up and down the train handing out free Chateau Petrus to all the passengers. It’ll only cost you about a billion pounds, and then people will ask for the trains to be slowed down. Now, that is an absurdist joke, but it’s making a really serious point. Which is that are we exclusively focusing on the numerical metric that engineers love which is duration of journey and speed of train and usability of rolling stock. And were completely neglecting the real human reasons – the toothpaste reasons – why someone might choose a train to go to Paris rather than the plane. And once you’ve actually done is you frozen humanity out of the equation with your stupid transport economics value metrics.
Hello, my name is John Sweeney. I’ve seen some terrible thing in the world, but it’s always weird when things are in the dark, and humour, at least some of the time, can help shed light and can also get you through those dark things. So there’s a particular gruesome example, actually both examples are gruesome. I did in 1988, as a young freelance reporter for The Observer, before I got my job. I went to Rwanda, Burundi, and there was a small series of massacres. Nothing like as dark as the ones that happened in 95. And we knew there was a mass grave. But there was an army roadblock. And these guys with guns, were preventing us media from from France, from Belgium, from Britain, to see the evidence of their war crimes. And and I was so inexperienced, and again, an arrogant prick that I wouldn’t take no. And there’s like 12 journalists, but I’m the guy. And I go for the think Burundian officer and I go for him. Big time. And I win the argument and they let us through. But as we go through, I get in the car, somebody give me a lift because I’ve got no money. I’m freelance. I’m on my own. And this Belgian reporter says, You remind me of John Cleese, in in Fawlty Towers. Thank you very much… fuck you, but well done. You were like John Cleese. And it’s kind of embarrassing, but anyway, I was. And I can be anyway, we got, we took the pictures, we talked to some people, you could smell the mass death, and we found some bones. And, and they basically there was enough for us to tell the authorities go in the hunt, you know, find this place, we got enough, not not a crystal clear story, but a sense, with something very dark had happened. And we had some evidence. So we have to get out of there before they rejoined the bones. As we drove away, there’s a car full of good people, good reporters, four of us, five of us. And we’ve seen something fucking awful. And we know that we haven’t seen the half of it. And as we’re driving, it starts to rain. And it’s been raining and our wheels pass some poor African guy. And there’s a huge puddle, the roads is shit. and we soak the poor guy, in this puddle. And we all start laughing in a kind of embarrassed way. We’re laughing because it’s funny, because the guy’s wet, but it’s not the end of the world. And we’re laughing because of some emotional release. And then I find myself singing, Dem Bones Dem Bones Dem Dry Bones. Like, so what do you do? I mean, listen, you know, there’s not a psychiatrist around for about 1000 miles, there’s nothing we can do. But with taking the piss. And it’s a shield. It’s a shield. Your dark sense of humour is a shield. And again, I talk to coppers, firemen, ambulance people, soldiers, you know, yeah, you see terrible fucking things. And you have to deal with them in some way doctors too, nurses the same. You’ve got to remember, a dark sense of humour, it’s your fucking shield and hold on to it.
John O’Donnell 18:48
I’m John O’Donnell, founder of Viral Tribe.
Paul Boross 18:50
So tell me a true story about something that’s happened to you that’s made you laugh.
Jon O’Donnell 18:56
I do. I do remember one evening, and I’m gonna sound like a terrible name dropper here but you don’t understand the point of the story. But I was very lucky when I was heading up the commercial team at the Evening Standard. We were very often invited to a lot of film premieres. And we were invited to the Bond premiere at the Albert Hall, which never been to a James Bond premiere before. This was an incredibly exciting time. And so me and my wife basically went down to the Albert Hall. We had a few drinks before. And then we were then going off to meet all our you know, my colleagues and what have you and their guests in there. Loge, as I was told, when I was told off recording a box. A Loge. And anyway, I wandered into the loge, and there was just a guy in there, the older guy stood in there and he introduced himself. He said, Hell, I’m John and I was Hello I’m John as well. And then Oh, great, fantastic. And we started chatting about stuff and he said, he said, What do you do? And I said, Well, I’m, you know, I head up the Evening Standard. And you know, he said, This is fantastic. I love the Evening Standard. I love what you’ve done at the Evening Standard that’s amazing amazing because I believe you just won… because at the time we just won the licence for London Live so I hear you just want this local TV … yes, he said, I’m in television I do a bit in tele. I said right okay what do you do? Well, you might remember I wrote a I wrote a thing called you probably remember called Blackadder. And I ws like… God, it’s John Lloyd.
It’s John Lloyd comedy god john Lloyd. I’m like fantastic. God. I didn’t know no idea. And anyway, so chatting with John Lloyd. we’re having a glass of champagne. Two seconds later in water, Michael Parkinson. He’s like Parky fantastic. He’s like, Ah, Parky. This is this is Jon Jon runs London Live. Hello there. How you doing fantastic. Rowan Atkinson comes in Stephen Fry comes in, they all come in. And then as we take our seats ready to watch the premiere, I suddenly realised there are 10 seats and 12 people in the loge. And I suddenly realise I’m in the wrong fucking box. I literally, I literally looked over, I could just see my wife tentatively pouring her champagne back in the bottle. As I was doing the slightly reverse thing outside the box. I’m sorry, terribly sorry, terribly sorry. So but of course, I couldn’t resist doing that. JOHN, call me call me call me. And, and yeah, we left We walked out. And as you can imagine, we literally could not wait to tell that story to anyone and everyone. And even to this day, I still love it. It was absolutely ludicrous.
Dr. Richard Bandler 21:26
Hello, my name is Dr. Richard Bandler. If people change the way they think it changes how they feel, and therefore it changes what they can do. And the irony is they’ve been doing it their whole life, you know, it’s just they get stuck in loops, because they learn too well. And some of the things we learn are utterly useless and stupid. And people who continue to do them, number one are unhappy and number two,o lose money. They lose time, the currency of living is how you spend your moments. And that’s not just true in your personal life, that’s immensely true in your business, that, you know, the more times you have to do the same thing, the more inefficient it is. And if what you’re doing doesn’t work, then it’s really inefficient. And when I’ve been hired to go into companies, the solutions to whatever I’m brought in to find are usually immensely obvious coming from the outside, that, you know, people have basic beliefs, and they don’t look outside them. So therefore they’re looking for the answer where it isn’t. And when you look for the answer where it isn’t, you don’t find it?
Paul Boross 22:36
Well, it’s very interesting, because do you think that people actually think themselves out of being humorous as well that I mean, I’ll talk themselves out of it, or convince themselves that they’re not humorous.
Dr. Richard Bandler 22:48
Part of my job with people, especially private clients, is to is to get them to see that what they’re doing is funny enough to laugh at. You know, I’ve been, I usually start my teaching seminars off by asking people, you know, is there somebody in here that thinks about the same bad memory over and over and over again. And, you know, if you worry about a problem for 30 minutes a day, you’ve wasted 150 plus hours, and that means 10 years, it’s 1500 hours, and it’s been 40 years, you know, it’s 6000 hours. And when I ask people, you know, so your plan, and they go, Well, I’m not planning it, it just happens. And I don’t know that you told me this is your plan, that you can count on doing this in the future, you have to participate in it, otherwise, it doesn’t happen. And you know, if you don’t make the pictures and say the things to yourself and make the feelings, then you get back this enormous gift of dying. And when you laugh at a mistake, it saves you enormous amounts of time.
Neil Mullarkey 24:02
Hello, I’m Neil Mullarkey of the Comedy Store Players
Paul Boross 24:05
I know You talk a lot about the listening skills that you’ve brought to improv. Can you expand on that for business a bit more?
Neil Mullarkey 24:14
Yeah, well, obviously, I’m bringing improv which is a slightly different skill from stand up comedy, stand up comedy at its best. It’s beautifully honed, it’s a perfect meal delivered to your table. improv is a bit of a takeaway, a bit of a picnic. See what happens. It’s a bit messy. But the skills of improv, as you say listening is number one. And it’s dealing with uncertainty and diversity and complexity and differences of opinion. It actually started with a social worker in the 1920s in Chicago and she was helping children; inner city children, deprived children. Maybe they weren’t native speakers, and they were a bit shy about speaking up in class, and she gave them confidence with some exercise.
Paul Boross 25:00
And it was her son who then created a form of theatre we now know is improv. Now not everyone knows what improv, by the way is. If you don’t there’s a TV show called Whose Line is it Anyway, some of your listeners, Paul, maybe even too young to know what that is. But it’s if you’re not somebody knows improv you’re like me 40 years ago, and I never seen it. And the audience gives suggestions to the actors and the actors act out scenes and stories. And rule one of improv is listening. And of course, that’s beautifully applicable to business. How do I listen to my customer? How do I listen to my team? How do they listen to each other? How do we listen even to ourselves, our unconscious where ideas may come from. So I’m not bringing comedy stand up comedy techniques, although when you’re presenting, you do need stand up comedy techniques, you do want something well rehearsed, you do want a point, you need to have a rhythm. Bur-da-bur-da… here’s the funny, here’s the important, underline this word, don’t do everything on a monotone. Find an attitude, repeat stuff, pause, all of the things that we know made comedy, whether it’s improvised or stand up. Stand up, it’s when you see a great standup you know, she or he has done it night after night. But they found their rhythm, they found the metre Improv is more a little bit messy, a little bit jazz, a little free form.
But it still has the same fundamentals that I mean, I think listening would be applicable to a stand up because they’ve got to listen to the audience and, and work off the timing of that. Improv is very specific, because you really do have to listen, but doesn’t all humour ultimately come from listening because you have to react off something.
Neil Mullarkey 26:51
That’s true. I mean, a great stand up or comedy actor is riding the laugh. She or he knows when to time, the moment whether they’re acting in a play or stand up. So there’s listening to the fellow player, there’s listening to the audience. And I thought you’re gonna say, and I was about to applaud you, listening to what’s going on in society, the great comedy writer, whether she’s a stand up, or Shakespeare, or Ayckbourne, or Richard Curtis, they’re listening to what’s going on what are people thinking. And they’re articulating things that we’ve all thought but haven’t even realised we have or haven’t expressed it in that way. So there’s a kind of deep listening to create material. And there’s a great listening in terms of the performance as well. Listening to the rhythm, listening to the audience, timing, beautiful moment, and the moment maybe just that look away. Mark Twain said, there were there was never a word, such so good as a well timed pause. And sometimes as somebody said, it’s not the music, the notes, it’s that it’s the space between the notes sometimes that makes music/comedy hit us, somewhere deeper than just intellectually.
Marisa Peer 28:04
I’m Marissa Peer and I’m a therapist, and people always think therapists are deadly serious and have no sense of humour, but the best therapists use humour.
Paul Boross 28:12
So do you think people laugh enough at their place of work?
Marisa Peer 28:18
No, I think we should I think we should all have, you know, I remember. You know, when I was a kid, every Thursday night, everyone would watch Monty Python and and we would laugh. And there were certain things that you put on television to make you laugh. And I think we should all do that. You know, I have certain things I listen to or jokes I remember, or things that I find so funny. And I remember years ago as at home when I was watching Crimewatch when I finished watching it, I thought this isn’t no… This has made me focus on burglaries and rapes and terrorists so I had to put on on something funny. I think I put on an episode of The Simpsons that made me laugh so much, and I went to bed and it changed my state. And I think all of us should have appointments to laugh, we should have something funny we watch at least three times a week, we should have a funny half hour, we should tell each other jokes. I think you almost need to make an appointment to laugh. I mean, one of the reasons X Factor was so great because people love Simon Cowell. We know when you saw him and the whole panel laughing at somebody that went in Sharon Osborne would be crying and her handkerchief and Simon would be stuffing tissues his mouth to stop himself laughing. You actually laugh with them. And some of the contestants were very, very funny without knowing it, and that kind of TV show was called ‘an appointment’ because the whole family would watch it together. And and I love that I often rewind and go I have to watch that bit again and again and again. But I think we should all factor something that makes you deeply laugh into our week even into our day because it’s so good for your immune system. It’s so good for you.
Paul Boross 30:03
I love the fact that you know, because I think you know, I love people to take things away from this podcast. And one of the things that I really encourage everyone to take away is your idea of having an appointment to laugh, put it in your diary. It’s fantastic.
Marisa Peer 30:22
It’s all very well to go, I go to yoga every Thursday at six and I go to Pilates every Monday at 10 but you should actually make… you should put something in your diary that makes you laugh all the time.
Paul Boross 30:36
The Humourogy 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