It’s the magnificent seventh series of Mock the Week. For the unlucky few who haven’t seen it yet…
It’s basically five gay guys doing games that they’ve culled from the Mensa tests. And we all hate it. No, it’s basically Whose Line Is It Anyway? meets Have I Got News for You.
Do you prepare gags in advance?
Well, you know what the news stories are, but you don’t know what people are going to say about them. But because it’s quite a long recording – about three hours – there’s a lot more improvised stuff in there than you would think.
You’re known for a certain brand of near-the-knuckle humour. How much of what you say gets cut?
A lot. And I’d imagine a lot more will be this year. I’ve just started trying some new stuff on tour and the whole front row walked out. [He did tell us the gag in question, but it’s just too offensive to repeat.]
What’s surprised you that you’re not allowed to say on TV?
I’ve learnt loads. There’s now a new thing where you can use f**k but not as a verb. You can use it as an adjective. So you can go, ‘You know what I like? Nookie. It’s f**king great.’ Ross and Brand have made a massive difference.
With politics in disarray, is now a good time to be a satirist?
It’s good because it feels like everything is starting to fall to pieces. That’s good for political comedy. New targets? I was glad recently to see Anne Widdecombe standing for Speaker of the House of Commons. Not only because she has a weird voice but also on the basis that the media keep repeating that she’s “still” a virgin. Like that status is going to change any time soon. If she was the last woman on Earth I would… [CENSORED]
Your autobiography’s coming out later this year – My S**t Life So Far. Sounds an uplifting read.
I think it’s surprisingly jolly. People forget sometimes that it is an act. So a lot of my opinions are pretty negative, but I’m actually surprisingly non-judgemental. I’m pretty bleak, but I’ve got a sense of humour with it. I think the most important thing is that you tell your kids that everything is going to be OK. Before you mercy-kill them. “Drink up your bitter milk.” Ha ha!
You’ve said you’re going to give it up in two years. Why wait two?
You mean why not just retire now? It’s sort of the compulsion to do it while hating it that makes it good. Obviously most people love it, but it’s definitely what makes mine good – there’s some tension between not wanting to be there and really feeling compelled to be there. So providing that’s still there I could still do it. I’m going to do a last tour. I’ve already written two hours of it.
But I think after that… You know what it is – after 40, very few comedians are very good. Very few anybodies are any good at anything. The focus really goes. I think I need to do some more sophisticated work. Most stand-up doesn’t have much sophistication to it. I’ve got a couple of pilot scripts for TV shows that I’m quite hopeful about. But the touring’s a bit of an anchor on the soul.
One final question: when you crack America have you any plans to do a live DVD in Hollywood?
I see where you’re heading with this one because the secondary school I went to was called Holyrood. So that was a tough summer when Frankie Goes to Hollywood were topping the charts.