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Jimmy Carr: The Easiest Way To Live A Happier Life | E106 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Jimmy Carr: The Easiest Way To Live A Happier Life | E106".
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I've got one fucking life and this is it. - It's the Jimmy Carter! - It was not pre-ordained that I was gonna be a successful comedian touring the world and being on TV. I just, I knew what I wanted to do and then I pursued it. I was so broken, I was so stripped of serotonin. It went from being on the cover of the paper to going, you know, this is morally wrong. I was having panic attacks. It's fucking terrifying because you think, is this my forever now? And when you're depressed, it's the appetite for life. It's just gone. What's the thing that you're good at that you could get better at, that you could be better than you last year? That's the key thing. 'Cause take that thing, if you can find out what that is for you and then apply some hard work and time, that's your luck. Be happy. I think it's a powerful thing to aspire to. You know, when you're on a plane and it's going down and the oxygen masks come, you have to grab your mask first or you're no good for anyone else. You being happy makes the people around you happier, better for your friends, better for your family, better for the world. - When you clicked on this video, I don't know what you were expecting. When they told me Jimmy Carr was going to be on the die of a CEO, I don't know what I was expecting. But what I got and what I learned and the person that showed up is not the Jimmy Carr that I know from TV. It's not the Jimmy Carr that I've watched on TV for many, many decades. The Jimmy Carr that came here today is, quite honestly, a genius, a philosophical thinker, an expert on the topic of happiness. Someone that writes in his brand new book about finding and pursuing your purpose. Jimmy Carr has typically been known for his very comedic one-liners. What he shares today, it's deep, it's profound. And when you find out that he was a Cambridge graduate, it kind of makes sense because Jimmy is a very, very smart man, not just book smarts, he's life smart. This podcast today is one of my favorite of all time because it has everything, not just those profound truths that I know, I know will change your life, but also a very remarkable, compelling, vulnerable personal story. One that starts with his mum and his dad. One that starts with dyslexia and feeling rejected at a very young age. One that journeys through being canceled, controversy, panic attacks, depression, and ultimately finding himself. He says it himself, "This is the Jimmy Carr you don't know, but I'll tell you this, this is the Jimmy Carr you should." So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett, and this is the Diaries CEO. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. It's so funny because every time I do this podcast, I always try and think of a new place to start, but having read your story and having read the stories of my guests before they arrive, I always end up starting in the same place.
Personal Journey And Insights
Your early years (03:04)
So I was just sat there trying to think of a new way to come into it, but I'm gonna go for it. So your childhood, Jimmy, very, very pivotal. And I was reading throughout your childhood about these really, really pivotal moments, pivotal moments of changing school and family and mum and dad, take me to the most important context from your childhood. - I suppose, I mean, listen, it's when you remember stuff, we're all unreliable narrators when we look back on our lives, and I think the gift of lockdown was that memory and speed are inversely proportionate, but when you slow down in life, you remember more. You can, and it's a great time for kind of recalibration and thinking, well, what happened? So the things that I recently became a father, so you're thinking about childhood again in kind of this new way and thinking, well, what are the things you would want for your child? What would you wanna give them? And also, what were those key moments where you get to decide who you are? And I think that the key bits in my childhood were the moments where you become aware you are a story you tell yourself. So I moved schools when I was 16, and I was kind of not a tear away, but I was in trouble and I was messing around and I was with a fairly rough crew. And I switched schools and told a different story. Not to be Machiavellian, you just kind of arrived at the new school and went, well, I guess, I guess maybe no one knows me here, I could just be whoever I want to be. And you become aware of how, not consciously, but even at that early age, aware that you're not a nail in your verb, you're a doing thing and you can do things differently and you can do better. And then so that lesson, obviously, that you then forget that and you don't make good on that again for a while. So I was kind of in my mid-20s when the next big kind of sea change of going, what, I'm gonna leave a job working for someone and go on an adventure. And it was, I mean, for me, that kind of mid-20s thing was, it's not childhood, but it feels like even at 25, I was in an archetypical way, still a child, because I was living my life for someone else. I hadn't really taken the reins yet. I hadn't really made a decision until I was in my mid-20s. So it felt like to me, I was like a big kid when I was 25. And then suddenly at 26, yo-ho-ho of pirates life for me. I just, I fucked off and joined the circus. That became a comedian and started leading my own life. In a way, I think, part of the reason for the book is I think a lot of people aspire to that. A lot of people want to find their purpose and they want to pursue it. And it's very sad. A lot of people don't get to do either. - And when you change school at 16 years old, and you talk about, you were able to kind of shed this identity that that school and environment and the teachers there had given you. - Well, I think you've got baggage, haven't you? When you're, even when you're 16, you got baggage, you go to sixth form and you're, oh, you're the terra-way kid, you're gonna do like that. You're gonna do this well in your exams. It's a, your past indicates where your future's gonna go. And it doesn't have to be that way. At some stage, you just have to, you cut those apron strings or you cut with a past and go, no, I could be academic. You know, I'm very dyslexic and I didn't really learn to read and write until I was about maybe 10 or 11 with any level of proficiency. And then I managed to get myself to Cambridge. And part of that is like a force of will. You just go, right, I'm gonna, I'll do that. I'll figure out how to do it. I'll figure out what the code is. And often I think it's that thing of like, the thing that comics do incredibly well, I talk about like the superpowers of comedians, what comedians do brilliantly is they're great a patent recognition. And that strikes me as like the most important thing in life for humans is patent recognition. Well, that kind of works like that. How do you write an A grade essay? It's not about knowing about history. It's about knowing the structure of what that essay looks like. And so you kind of lift the structure and go, right, well, I'll just, I'll write to that formula. Crack in the code on stuff. And I think at every level, you're trying to crack new codes. You're trying to get better at stuff. - And do you think if you go back to that, that changing school scenario again, you were given this identity and that identity came with a set of like implicit instructions on who you were, which we then all for some reason, subconsciously believe and then obey and then we start fulfilling? - 100%. I think the things that dictate our lives are our beliefs. Your life is as good as you believe it's going to be. I think I'm a real advocate that disposition is more important than position. And 95% of life is how you look at it and 5% is what happens to you. So the idea that you go, what are you going to believe? Well, most of our beliefs, the beliefs that really affect us are the presuppositions that we make. We don't even think about them. We just think it's, oh, I'm not the kind of person that does that. I'm not the kind of person, because I'm not from that background or I'm not from showbiz, I don't know anyone in showbiz, so I'm never going to be in showbiz. And then you allow yourself at some stage, you go, well, fuck that, I'm going to allow myself to dream or to try and be more than. But the premise of the book kind of is there's nothing special about me. It was not preordained that I was going to be a successful comedian touring the world and being on TV. That was not like a lock. I don't have a irrefutable talent. I just, I knew what I wanted to do and what do you want being the key question in life? And then I pursued it kind of doggedly because I found my purpose. And that strikes me as something that's achievable. Not, I'm not suggesting everyone goes out and becomes a comedian, but I want better lives for everyone. - I read that you said you spent a lot of time cheering your mother up. - Yeah, I think most comics, I mean, the cliche is the comedian is depressed, right? That's the go to, and it's such a pleasing irony. Why wouldn't it be? Because you go, he's makes us laugh, but he's really down. You know the old, you know the old story, there's an old joke about guys like super depressed, like he's going to kill himself, he's really down. And he goes to see a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist says, well, you need to cheer up. Gromaldi is in town, the great clown, Gromaldi is in town. He's the greatest clown the world has ever seen. He's, I saw him last week, he's hilarious. You won't even be able to breathe because you'll be laughing so much and you'll forget your worries and you'll just be happy again. And the guy goes, but I am Gromaldi. The great old joke about, you know, it's like, okay, tears of a clown thing. I think it's parents. I think my mother was, if you talk to comedians, you'll talk to a lot of comedians on this podcast, right? So I think the question to ask is, which parent was sick? It tends to be, you know, one of them and it tends to be either physical or mental with my mother was depressed. You don't know that when you're a kid. You just, you know something isn't right. You know you have to, the atmosphere has to be changed. So you become very good at changing people's states. And then that becomes your job. You lean into that. That becomes a very important thing that you place a lot of value on. Now I hadn't put that together till I was in my mid twenties. But the idea of being able to change people's states is a, it's an interesting skill set. I mean, I like to think of myself as a drug dealer, but I'll never be taken by the feds because the drugs are already on you. You've got the endorphins there. You've got the good shit in there. And it's about letting that out in a very sort of organic, natural high of laughter. And I'm a huge advocate of live comedy because people laugh so much more when they're in a crowd. It's a social noise. It's very tribal. It's the idea of like, we all belong to this thing. If you watch your favorite show on the phone, on the bus and you'll smile and it won't do you any good physiologically. But if you see it in a crowd of 30 people with all your friends around, it's like laugh. You cry laughing. - I guess that's where they put canned laughter on TV. - I think to encourage, yeah, to encourage, I mean they can laugh to things slightly a myth, but yeah, they do. And it does encourage you to kind of do a little bit, but it's really about that thing of it being a tribal thing where we sort of want to belong and laugh with something. And I kind of feel that as a comedian, you're part of a very long tradition. There's always been comics. There was comedians and then there's variety acts and then there's court jesters. And then there's trickster gods, Nancy and Monkey King and all these things from our sort of deep rooted culture. There's always someone saying the other, slightly outside looking in. I think being an immigrant, I think it's an important thing with that. I mean, I don't read as an immigrant in any way, shape or form. It's just an average white guy, but I sound like I was privately educated, but it's interesting in the book of like people's perception of you, you have to be aware who you are and you have to be aware how you're perceived. They're both important. And I think acceptance of that is like that thing of what's the first step on the journey to finding your purpose. It's like, well, you have to know who you are. You have to start with like, there's an honesty to comedy of going, right? This is what I've got. - Going back to the first person you were sort of, I guess assigned to chair up, which was your mother, what was, did you know at the time she was depressed? - No, I just thought it was normal. I mean, genuinely like, she was a lot of fun and she was very charismatic and people liked her. I sort of could see that. And then you could see people are complex and nuanced and you could see that she was, she didn't get out of a dressing gown most days. She didn't, she wasn't engaged in a way that was normal. She didn't take care of herself. And it's a great sadness. You know, you kind of look back and you feel a bit guilty that maybe you could have done more or I think even the debate now, the culture that we have at the moment where people are talking about mental health and they're talking about getting help and what to do and talking therapies, it feels like there's a whole world that's open now that maybe things might have been different if it had been, you know, 20 years later. But it felt like she was quite isolated and depressed. - One of the things you talk about linking to that is the root cause of a lot of things, you know, mental ailments, depression, addiction is a lack of purpose. And it's a, you know, like, hasling a guess at what the causes would be. And with depression, it somewhat bizarrely seems to be quite generational at times. Did you ever figure out, or has it a guess in your later life, what caused her to feel the way she did? - I make a lot of cases in the book for conflated words, like, you know, words that you sort of think they mean the same thing, but they don't. There's that sort of a theme in the book of sort of going, well, I think happiness and pleasure are different. And I think envy and jealousy are different. And I think depression and sadness are very different. I think some of it was circumstantial, which is sadness. And there's, you know, sadness is better. If you could choose between sadness and depression, go with sadness, because it's circumstantial. It's about nurture. It's about what's going on in your world, who you're with, what's going on, what's happening. That's getting you down. Okay, depression is a much more serious thing that we people listening to this or watching this, that suffer with depression. It's a serotonin imbalance in the head. It's a proper medical ailment. And we never think of it like that. We never think of it like that, right? You've never told anyone with cancer, snap out of it. Come on, come on, let's snap out of it. Let's go and get a drink. Come on, cancer, come on. But someone depressed, you've 100% people have done that. Come on, depressed, come on, we're gonna get a drink. We're going, you got nothing to be depressed about. I'll tell you what's great. You know, you do that and you go, it's so crazy when you stop and think about suicide as a symptom of depression, not as a thing that's a stand alone. It's just something, there's an epidemic of it going on. And people aren't taking it seriously. I think comedy is a very valuable tool as well because it lends perspective. And really, what is suicide? It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It's so sad. You know, when you hear about young people, it's just, it's a heartbreaker. And I think often that thing of like purpose is the cure. Do you think, do you, yeah, so what, I don't know why I'm asking you this question 'cause these are, you know, these are very complex questions specifically around mental health, but I think it, all of these questions come from my own place of like deep, deep curiosity.
Mental health and online connections (15:52)
As it relates to mental health, the apparent increase in it in our society, whether that's because more people are, you know, labeling it or because they're more people are actually going through those elements. - Well, I think there is a, you know, if we take it over, you know, not a huge, not geological time, but over like a 30 year time plan, what's happened for the last 30 years? Well, it's the rise of the individual, right? We've all become, the individuals become more powerful and the group or the tribe has become less powerful. And that is not only a force for good. There's a negative to that as well. So people feel that families are smaller, groups are smaller, people feel like they go their own way. So we've never been more connected and felt more alienated. It's, you know, we set up to fail almost. There's a generation of people that feel like they're incredibly connected and they have a huge number of friends online, but they have no one to talk to. And that's a, it's a, it's a, it's a, it's a difficult thing. And they don't feel maybe part of a group. They always feel a little bit other. So that's, you know, if you, there's a great book called Selfie and a great book called Tribe. I remember sort of reading them back to back and thinking, yeah, there's something's going on here. And why do, why does everyone want to go to Glastonbury? Why does everyone want to go to a music festival? It's not necessarily because they, you know, I love that song. See that song anyway, you play that song on your headphones, but they want to feel part of something and they want to be in a crowd with other people and feel a sense of belonging. There's, there's something a little bit our society's unbelievably great. And I love that kind of Stephen Pinker Enlightenment now thing about, right, it's the best it's ever been. There's terrible things happening, but it's the best it's ever been. I love that positive attitude. But there are serious issues, especially, I mean, it seems especially for young people. It seems like it's, I mean, part of the reason to write the book is I have a son, but also the people that come and see my shows and the people that go, well, I don't, I don't know what to do. And yet, you know, and they come out for a laugh, whatever, and you go, well, I'm not, I'm the jester here. I don't have any answers, but this is what worked for me. So sharing that felt like a, I was sort of privileged to be able to do that. And you think about your life and your childhood and the people that you met along the way that made huge differences with seemingly small interventions. The world seems to be hurtling more and more in the direction of individualism, loneliness. I mean, the stats would back that up, that we're getting more and more lonely as we're moving online, you know, Facebook announced they're changing their name to Meta last week and they're, you know, building the Metaverse which we're all going to live in. - Yeah, it's interesting how empathetic and beautiful people are one on one. You know, if you've ever met someone one on one, that's a cancel culture is an interesting thing to talk about, right? 'Cause I get canceled at some stage in the next two years. It just happens. Let's just accept that for a joke I've done online. It's already out there. It's pointless to be worrying about it. But that thing of like one on one with people, people are incredibly empathetic and kind. And there's a thing that we're doing now where we're not on a Zoom call, we're across the table for each other, looking into each other's eyes, having a conversation. There's an intimacy to that. There's like a, okay, we're gonna have a conversation here and we're gonna see each other's points of view and we're gonna talk about it. And it's a, it's, there's something about this that goes back 10,000 years. Like people have always done this. The online thing, what are we missing from that? With that immediacy? And I think that the crisis in lockdown, where people were literally locked down and shut away, it's just, it's not good for us. - How do we change it? - Well, I don't know. I mean, I think there's, I don't know is the answer. I mean, I think there's, the really simple shit is not getting done. - For me, 'cause it feels like this big boat that's going in one direction and it's speeding up. And what I mean by that is we're actually building our lives into the digital space, which is making us more socially connected online, but more disconnected in the real world. - It's an interesting thing going on. I mean, it's interesting and terrible. Where people are, I sort of quote a lot in the book. I use a lot of quotes because I sort of think quotes are the truth. Like it's everything else has been burnt away. There's nothing left but these six or seven words that just sum something up. And you go, that's just fucking, that's stuck around for 50 years for a reason. That's just fucking true. So the, I think it's Eleanor Roosevelt that said, "comparison is the thief of joy, which I love, because we're comparing our lives to everyone else." We're the classic, you know, millennial kind of phrase of like you're comparing your insides to someone else's outsides. But even there's another thing layered on top of that now where I don't know you online, but you have an online profile. And you might well be jealous of yourself online because you look at your pictures of yourself online and you're always smiling and you're always with beautiful people and drinking a cocktail on a beach. Beautiful car, beautiful thing. That thing of like you can't, you're disconnecting with how you feel and how you choose to express yourself digitally. So there's, it's an odd thing that's happening. I think like feeling connected to other people and laughing with other people. I think it's, here's how we fix it, right? It's nature and nurture, right? So oldest debate in the world, nature, nurture, what's important? Well, who fucking cares? Nature's the cards we were dealt, right? That's what we got. We got this, I got this, you got that. Okay, well, all right, you win. So, but that thing of going, the nature, nurture thing is right, you've got the nature, that's fine, that's the cards. How are you gonna play it is the nurture? And I think there's a perception that nurture is finished at 15, 18, 20, 21. At what stage do you think you're done? I'm done, off to the world now, gonna kill it. Like it's an nonsense. Nurture is like an ongoing process of like, and thinking about it, giving it even five minutes thought of going right, who do I like and why do I like them? Well, I like who I am with people. That's why I like them. So when I'm with my child, I like who I am when I'm a dad, I like playing that role, I like being that part. I like who I am when I'm with my friend Johnny, and we chat about music. I like who I am when I'm with, you know, my friend, Matt, and we chat about aliens or whatever, you know, those things and spending, finding more time with those people and laughing and connecting with the people that make you happy. That seems to be the, you know, the smart thing. I mean, I suppose there's simple shit like, you know, putting your phone away for a day. Have you ever done that? We did it on our last holiday. We go for it. I haven't had a holiday for two years yet, but that thing, like we put our phones in the, we check the phone in the morning to see no one interested in dying. You don't want to miss a biggie. You know, what, I mean, you don't miss fucking Diana too, whatever the fuck. So you put the phone in the safe in the morning, and then you have your day, and then you check it in the evening, you give yourself the rush of, "I've got so many emails, oh my God." And then it's interesting though, of that feeling of decompressing, and most people don't have that. Not that, you know, it's not, I'm not saying that digital world is, you know, a terrible thing, and it's clearly the way we're going, so we have to learn to live with them. - We talk there about one half of your parental equation.
- Hmm, tell me about the other half. - Hmm. Well, you know, I've just become a father, and I'm acutely aware that it doesn't always work out. I haven't seen my father in 20 years, I guess. It's a long time. And I don't have a relationship with him, and listen, there's three stories, mine and yours, and then the truth. But that's the fact, the matter is, I don't have any relationship with my father. So that makes me, that's another lesson in life, though, isn't it? You go, right, if you don't have a father, don't be a dummy about it. Don't not have a father. Just find a different one. That archetype is so important to our development. Having a mother is, you know, my mother died. I didn't go, well, I guess, you know, the older female nurturing archetype. I guess I live without that. You go, you find other people that are going to, maybe not one other person, but you find, you put your team together. You put your nurture together, and you go, well, I need to find those people. You need to find, I mean, I suppose, I'm lucky in the job that I do, that you have certain, you know, people are further down the road. So if you look to them as kind of mentors, or you look to them as people that you want to impress, and you want to, you know, you're aware of that, what you need. - And now you've had a son. - Yeah. - That must be, you know, there was two things you talked about that really, really pivotal in recent times. One of them was the pandemic, and the other one was obviously the birth of your own son. What are the top level, you know, shifts that have occurred new because of those two events? - Well, I suppose, I mean, I got, I was kind of late to fatherhood, I think, because I think it was, I think psychologically, I think maybe I didn't want to be, I didn't want to be our father because I didn't want to be my father. And, you know, so you find a different way through. You find different models. You know, I've got friends that are incredible fathers. And you kind of model that. And it's that thing of like, it's what humans do. We kind of got, well, I could kind of do that. I could see what he's doing there, and that's amazing. So that felt like, I mean, it's such a, I mean, everyone does it. It's like a big deal that I've had a kid, but it's a big deal in my life, obviously. It's like, it's, there's a quote in the book, I love quotes. It's like having a medical procedure where your heart now lives outside your body. I kind of, there's a bit of me that kind of, I wish I'd done it sooner. And then there's another, there's another bit of me that goes, I wasn't ready for it sooner. I'm ready for it now. Interesting. My friend said that to me. He's just had a baby and he said, "Oh, I just wish I'd done it sooner." I'm thinking really? Is that, you know, is that, but it got you to, to there. It's like it's, it's, it's, it's, there's a great Chinese expression, a great old proverb. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Hmm. Pretty wise, those Chinese guys, they don't know what they're talking about. Going back to, you know, your university time, because I remember, because just kind of going through an chronological order. I remember I was reading about how you, you know, you leave the nest, you go and get, you know, you go and get, you go to Cambridge, which I thought was amazing, considering you were, you were undiagnosed dyslexic. I was diagnosed. At the time you were undiagnosed. Yeah, I got diagnosed at college, but I only got diagnosed as dyslexic to get a free laptop. I mean, that was like, I didn't really particularly cared and make any odds. You just get longer to sit your exams. But it was, yeah, it was, it was nice. I mean, I think, I wouldn't recommend it to young people because I think it's, Cambridge is still now very anachronistic. It's like going to college in the 1950s. It's like a time machine. It's like, it's just, it's very old school and, I mean, maybe it's changed a bit, but I don't think it's changed much, like living in a church. Yeah, and it's a good place to change. It's coistered in every sense. Yeah, so it's, you know, it is what it is. But there's, you know, it's also what are you going there for? I think I went there for, in an unthinking way, sort of, it was a way from something. I think I'd remembered at a very deep level, not being able to read when I was a kid and kind of being in the special ed class, and then wanting desperately to prove myself. And so you kind of get there and get your degree and go, right, well, I never have to worry about that again, which is dumbest thing in the world. I mean, you know, everyone with any kind of education has educated themselves. Because really, what do you remember from college? Years ago, like it's whatever you're reading now. And fast, what a few years you get your degree, you get a job at Shell as a marketing exec. Again, unthinking, absolutely unthinking. Like, it wasn't like it was like a binary thing of like going, I didn't make a choice when I was 16 to stay on a school. That was just like the sensible thing. What's everyone doing? We're all staying at school. Okay, we're all going to go to university then at 18. Okay, right, what's the best one? Okay, we'll try and get to the best one. If you can't get into that one, get into the second best one. If not, you know, so it's like it can be about. And then after university was right, everyone's getting jobs. Okay, I guess okay, a job. But it's amazing how little thought I put into my life. Amazing, really. And when you consider that I do something that is considered to be very creative, you know, write jokes and tell jokes for a living, and you go, oh, it was a lack of imagination that kind of fucked me. And it fucked you, right? Tell me how, what were the symptoms of being fucked by that? Well, I think it was the, it was, again, sadness, not depression, but in my mid 20s, just thinking, is this it? Is this all there is? It felt like it was a trudge. I didn't have any purpose. I was working to live, not living to work. And I think it's not, not everyone's going to get that. Not everyone gets that break. And I'm very aware that it's not like, come on, dummy, get a job that you love and get up and you're excited about every day. It's like, it's not easy for everyone. It takes an awful lot of work to find out what that thing is that's going to make your heart sing. And then, you know, you find something you love doing and you never work again. It's not an easy thing, but if you can, it's worth betting your life on it. - You write about that in the book for two adventures we will have in our lives, which is finding your purpose and obviously going in the pursuit of it. - It sounds like yours happened crazy early. Like kicked out of school, dropped out of college and then went right up to start the company. Like that seems, and then you'd left the company by the time you were 27. You were almost onto mid-life crisis, I think, at 27. - Yeah, that's true. - Which is... - It's completely true. - That's great though. It means you get to die 50 and you've done everything. - Exactly, yeah. - So what was the, what was that? 'Cause do you see, I mean, I sort of talk about quarter life crisis of being finding your purpose and cutting the apron strings. And that's about, I think it's about responsibility. It's about going, oh, I'm in charge of this. I can't blame anyone else. This is all me. This is all my fault, which should be an empowering phrase, but sounds terrible, but it's all my fault, the idea that right, I'm in charge. And I think it's often that thing of like the expectation of parents or whatever it is, the idea that you're living your life vicariously through someone else, or someone's living vicariously through you rather, is like, J.K. Rowling said this brilliant thing about where do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line on taking responsibility for your life? 'Cause if a 16 year old kid says to me, yeah, I'm kind of fucked up, but my parents are dicks. You go, oh, that sounds fair enough. Yeah, okay, but if a 40 year old says the same thing, you go, motherfucker, please, come on. Yeah. You're 40. Where do you draw the line? The answer is somewhere. Somewhere you draw the line. And there'll be 16 year olds listening to this going, yeah, I'm not blaming anyone for anything. I'm just, I'm doing this myself. Where do you draw the line? I think I was about 25. You think 25 is where you got everything? No, no, no, that's why I take a life. Okay, well, for you, okay. It's different for everyone. Okay, it's interesting. It's your road to Damascus. It's your, oh, this is my one life.
I mean, I think my loss of religious faith was a very important part of my life. I think it was a huge thing of going, religious faith for me was the ultimate in procrastination. It was about the next life. Yeah. And it was also there's potentially a puppet master and a judge. So I've just got to play to this Bible potentially or, you know, when I was the same, I lost my religious faith in Christianity when I was 18. Right. I was a bit late to the party. I was about 24, 25, something like that. And I don't view it. I don't view atheism as like, this isn't going to be Christopher Hitchens and Dawkins. You know, it's not like, it's not like a dry, intellectual aesthetic. It's like, it's a rush of blood to the head. It's like, I've got one fucking life and this is it. And we're in it right now. And there isn't a second to waste. Let's do this. What are we doing? What am I doing? What's exciting? What's fun? Yeah, and kind of stand or fall, it doesn't matter. Yeah. And then I realized that I was an atheist after trying to convince my brothers of Jesus and a God. And then really realizing I was an atheist, I spent two years absolutely obsessed with atheism. So Dawkins, Hitchens, I watched every video, every book you could read. And then I was an antagonist to religious people. Yeah. Because it's almost like I was trying to-- It was still at the center. Yeah. And they don't lose it overnight. So it's still-- Yeah. It's like people that are, you know, people with, you know, all I live as a, you know, a hippie commune with no belongings. You're still putting money at the center. Yeah, exactly. You're kind of, it's still the focus of that religious thing of going, well, I've lost my religious belief. So now atheism's my new religion. Exactly. It's like an addict never really gets over an addiction. They just get addicted to something new. Yeah. And I think that's why I think purpose is the thing. And I think purpose as well for someone who's had a religious upbringing to go, right, well, I'm going to-- what's the new thing? What are the new rules for me? What are the rules for what's my morality? What's my life going to be like? So that's-- it's very exciting. I mean, it really feels like it's a-- I would encourage people to kind of think about it. And for me, it was just the basics. I don't know how you lost yours. But mine was like so basic. It was exactly the same. I read how you lost yours. And it was exactly the same. If I'm right about this, then all those-- it's not-- yeah, it's good news for me and the other Christian boys, but it's very bad news for Ishmael. Yeah. Mark and Al, Tarek, it's bad news for you. Yeah. So you went somewhere-- I went to Jerusalem, yeah. I went to Jerusalem and I had a look around. And you go, oh, this is some bullshit. This is Disney. I mean, Jerusalem's one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I would encourage anyone to go there. It's wonderful. And I love Israel. But you go there and you go, this is 900 years old, not 2,000 years old. Please, this is-- let's stop kidding ourselves. This is not-- none of this happened. This is Disneyland. And I think there's a stage of throwing the baby out with the bath water. And then you read more. And I don't know if you've kind of done this, but you read about the myth and what it is and what it-- the story of Christ is interesting. It's an interesting story. But the story-- the myth of it is interesting, not the factual character. I couldn't tell us. But that thing of what remains when everything is burned away, that's what I get from that story. So if you burn everything else away, what's essential you? What's the thing that's left when there's nothing? That's interesting. You go through trials in life. You go through hard times and what remains. And when you lost your faith on that point, did you-- were you kind of destabilized by-- Yes. Yes. An anchor, almost. Yeah. I didn't leave my job to be rich and famous on TV. I left my job for-- yeah, yo-ho-ho, a pirate's life for me. We're doing comedy. I'm doing a gig above a pub. Someone gave me 20 pounds cash in hand. I mean, it was crazy. I had had a good job. But it's that thing where you go, the good is the enemy of the best. How much to not live your life? How much to not follow your dreams? How much do I have to give you across the table? Now, I'm saying this to you now, right? And you're a wealthy man. You're an investor or whatever. So it's going to be a high figure. But for most people, in their mid-20s, they've just left college or early 20s, they're above college. And you go, they give you 35 grand, the compromise on everything, and always be tired and just work to my time. And people go, OK. That's the thing of working for someone else is, I think, that's the big shift, right? So my stand-up is a metaphor in the book. I'm not trying to get people to become stand-ups. Frankly, I don't need the fucking competition. But the idea of going and doing your thing, even if it's less successful, but doing your thing, being your boss, being your CEO, great. But I'm all about that. And when people tell me they've started a little business or done a little thing, you just go, yeah, fucking boss. Because you get like serial entrepreneurs, because they do it once and go, yeah, I'm not working for anyone. I'm not. Let's challenge this. So when I started my business, I had many, many bosses, because I had lots of clients. So I've got people that can call me at 3M and just give me shit. And I think even as-- and then I had investors as well, and they can call me and give me shit. But listen, Bob Dylan got to this before we ever did. We all have someone to serve. That's just the nature of life. So listen, I work for myself, and I'm a fucking boss, and making huge money. I've got an audience to serve every night. I've got 2,000 people that need to laugh for two hours, three times a minute. And that's my boss. So I've got to lean into-- I've got to make sure that they're happy, or none of this can happen. So we all have people to serve. Of course, that's part of life. But you find out you do it on your terms in your way. Great. I don't mind the call at 3am. I don't mind the audience wanting more. That's great. I'll travel anything. That's all fine, because I have the true north of a purpose. And then it's the other thing on life where you go, I write in the book quite a lot about money, about the idea of what is it, what's going on there? Because it's a powerful thing. We spend so much of our lives. We give up so much for these tokens. And it's that classic line, you know, to buy shit. We don't need to impress people. We don't like-- who is it? It's Byron has the quote, money is a magic lamp. You have to know what to wish for. You have to know what you want. Otherwise, what are you doing? I mean, we're sort of in the city of London now. There's people working in the city that are just like, they're making huge money, and they're buying the Rolex. But what for? Quick one. When Jimmy got here off camera before we started chatting, he walked up and he saw the heel bottle on the table. And I went to explain to him what heel was. And he goes, oh, you don't need to tell me I drink heel all the time. And he went on to explain that he has heel before he goes up on stage, because it's nutritionally complete and gives him all the vitamins and minerals and energy that he needs before he goes up on stage. And that's exactly why I have heel. And that's the beauty of having a podcast sponsor that you so deeply believe in. And one that has genuinely transformed your life. I've just landed back from Indonesia. I am all go because my entire schedule, because I've been away for four, four odd weeks, has been condensed into the month of November. And I am running right now at a tremendous pace to get everything in my schedule ticked off. He'll is there to make sure that my health and my nutrition is ticked off at the same time as my professional ambitions. That's the role it's always played in my life.
Leaving the corporate world for comedy (39:10)
So to me, right in on that moment, then you're working at Shell as a marketing executive. There's a day, is it a moment, is it a comment where you think, fuck this? And then to go from there to comedian, it doesn't make any sense. To an external on the platform. It does, I mean. Make it make sense for me, please. OK, so I had a boss there, a guy called Mike Hard, who I recently kind of got back in touch with a little bit. So I was working for Shell. I initially worked for an advertising agency. He's the one you call an asshole in your book. No, but that was good. So he's the other type though. It's funny, right? So I was working for an advertising company and then I figured out, OK, advertising is this and bullshit. Who are these people calling me asking me for shit? Are marketing managers, right? Get into marketing. So we've got a job with Shell. So I'm working for Shell. And then I kind of figured out, look, I'm not happy here. I was kind of low energy. I was not the funny guy in the office. I was just like, this is bullshit. We're all working here for shareholder value. I couldn't get a fuck. And I went, OK, well, what's a cooler job? What's a better version of this? So I went and did the McKinsey-Boston consulting interview. So I was like, I said to my boss, let's get a nice guy marker. I said, look, I'm going to go and try and get a job with one of these things. And he sat me down in his office and just went, no, I can't see it. I can't see it. Just going to have the same problem somewhere else. I just don't see it. And that was kind of enough. It was enough that he saw me as like a funny, nice guy. I just went, yeah, this isn't for you. You're in the wrong stream. So the ladder, the analogy of the ladder that you've climbed is leaning against the wrong wall. And there's no finer-- ripping up your CV metaphorically, going, I never need this again. No one needs to know how I did it in my apples ever again. No one gives a fuck about my degree. I mean, maybe some of this stuff will come in handy on QI 10 years later. But otherwise, who cares? And you're just off doing your thing. And none of that was wasted. I mean, an education is an incredible thing, what a gift to have. But it just felt like it was kind of freedom. And they did a little voluntary redundancy thing, which was meant to get rid of the dead wood. It was meant to get rid of people at 55, 60, and just get them out the door so more people could come in. And I was on the management graduate scheme thing, blue chip thing. And just went, yeah, what would I get if I left? Five grand. And I went, I'm out. Fucking great. Not only am I leaving, they're giving me money to leave. And it's weird. I had a reputation when I started doing comedy of being the hardest working comic, because I went out 390 year, every year, the first five years, just like was just on it. I'm so feckless at work. It's a really good indication of if you're doing the right thing. I used to put in a meeting at 11 a.m. on a Friday, and another meeting at 2 a.m. So that I could go to a movie and let's just square and be back and just go, oh, yeah, nothing happened. Just like a lazy fucker. It's not in so interest. I was exactly the same. My attendance in school was 30, 40%. But then-- and in fact, it wasn't in my business class. It was 100% my business class. And then when I left school as this lazy kid that was going to fail, I outworked everybody at the thing that I love doing, which was business. It's interesting, right? So it's a really good feedback loop of, like, for anyone listening to this, of going, what do you find easy? What's your edge? That's the other thing I talk about a lot in the book. Your edge. What's your thing? The thing that you do better than anyone else-- don't have to be the best in the world, by the way. You don't have to be better than anyone else. But what's the thing that you're good at, that you could get better at, that you could be better than you last year? That's the key thing, because take that thing, if you can find out what that is for you, and then apply some hard work and time, that's your luck. Be lucky. I always say that. Like, be lucky. But that's what I mean by luck. Luck and happiness being sort of the same in German. It's a lovely sticky phrase. Be lucky. If you put that in, you're buying lottery tickets every time, right? So that hard work you put into the business, it's like lottery ticket, lottery ticket, lottery ticket, and hey, presto, one of them hits, because you're there all the hours, working all the hours, and you're working smart. You're working out the thing you're best at. You're kind of super focused on that. I want to talk to you about that point about hard luck, because that's been stigmatized in our society. But before that, you said something which is, you find that thing within you that you can be the best at, the thing that you enjoy, et cetera, et cetera. When I say that to people, they always say to me, "But Steve, how? How do I find the thing? How do I find my purpose? Is it just I sit down with myself and make a list? Do I-- - Yeah, I mean, I literally went through, there's two books, Zen and the Art of Making a Living, I would recommend to people, it's still available, and there's a book called What Color is Your Parachute?" They're quite corporate, both of them, even Zen and the Art of Making a Living is quite corporate, but it's basically you write essays about yourself, and you, it's a workbook. It's like a big, chunky workbook. I did both of them, and it kind of, and for me, I kind of then slightly threw it away and went, "Show business, baby." But it's interesting of like knowing yourself. Like, who really knows you? Your friends probably know you, ask them, ask them what they think. It's an interesting sort of process to kind of go, like, and you could be a ripe old age, and this would still apply. Like, do you know who you are, how you're perceived, and who you really are, what you feel like? Because it's that thing where you've got, like those personality tests online are not dumb to do. You know, that, what's the... - Mice breaks or something? - No, no, there's a Jordan Peterson one understanding myself, like a hundred questions, and it tells you things. That's worth, I had a crack at that recently, and really enjoyed it, like, 'cause you get the results and go, "I agree with that." Or, "I don't know." So, that's surprising. You know, it's interesting. It's almost like a horoscope. Like, everyone likes their horoscope, right? Because everyone's a little bit egotistical, and I'm like, "Oh, I wonder what it says about me." And I think those personality tests kind of can be very, very useful for going, "Well, how are you gonna find your edge? "What's the thing you enjoy? "Is it being with people? "Is it on your own? "Are you introverted, extroverted? "Mice breaks thing might lead you in a direction of going, "Well, I can't be. "I'm not gonna be a salesman. "I'm gonna be..." These are jobs we're talking about, as opposed to something beyond that, like a purpose, a career, an entrepreneurial spirit. - People find that. I've done the Mice breaks, I've done this, I've done the joy pizza test, and it's clear that my passion is X. But I'm in that job, unthinking, as you describe it, and I've got mortgage to pay, I've got bills. - Well, I mean that thing of like, I nearly fell into that trap. I was like, the things you won't end up owning you. Like, there's nothing you can buy in the mall that you give a fuck about in five years' time. There's nothing. Like, in the early phase of your life, I'm fucking buying anything. Because it's like, the things you end up owning you, the payments on a sports car nearly stopped me going into comedy. Because you go, "Well, what ties you down?" If I'd bought a house in the 90s when I was working for Shell, I would have been a great investment, and I never would have left, because you're paying that mortgage, you're doing that thing. What do you need? What do you need the money for? What are you using the money for? When you take away the commute, you take away the lunch that you're buying, and the night out the weekend, and a couple of drinks, because you need some fun. It's amazing how little... When I... First year in comedy, I made literally no money. I mean, literally nothing. First money I got was £80 in cash for driving five hours to Plymouth. I'm back. But I had a little bit saved. I had this, like, five grand from Shell, and I was living at my mum's initially. So it was like, "It's fine. I had enough." You know that amazing story about Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller. They're at a party in New York, and the party's fucking incredible, right? So it's in the Hamptons, right? So the guy's married to a supermodel. He's got warhols. He's got Picasso's. The house is unbelievable. Like the Wolfel Wall Street party. How... It's an incredible, amazing party. Everyone's there. And Kurt Vonnegut, incredible writer, says to Joseph Heller, "This guy made more money one day last week "than you made out of cash 22." Like, loves him. And Joseph Heller goes, "Yeah, "but I've got something he'll never have." Enough. Hmm. What's enough? What's enough for you? What's... What's enough? There's two things going on, right? There's safety and security, right? There are caveman thing of like going, "Well, I need to be secure." That's about a bear not attacking, right? We feel pretty secure in our worlds, right? And then scarcity is about... It's another caveman thing of like going, "Okay, so we need to collect some stuff "because winter is coming, so we need some coin. "We need a little bit of gold "to take care of us." How much is enough? I mean, there's gonna be a trillionaire. Next five years, there's gonna be someone's gonna be a trillionaire. It's gonna be in the news. You know why? 'Cause a billion wasn't enough. And the millionaires and the billionaires and the trillionaires. But they're working for money. The money is the important thing. It's the... That's what... That's the whole center of their being. It's interesting 'cause as I reflect on my childhood, I was clearly that one of the big drivers for my success was insecurity. Broke family, black kid in all white school. Parents were never in the house. I'm going to school every day with fucking staying trousers and staying t-shirts and no money. So this deep insecurity must have been sort of spurned into me that if you get money, Steve, then you won't feel ashamed anymore. It's interesting. I think it's a really interesting point because as someone that lost their faith, I think fame and fortune are the secular heaven. Like we get rich and famous and everything's okay. There's no problems when you're rich and famous. That's what I feel. Everything's fine. Well, of course, because it is like a... If you think about legacy now, becomes the afterlife and fame and fortune become the recognition of people that we don't know becomes a type of heaven. So I think that's a perfectly rational thing to, you know, are you moving towards something or away from something? Well, in an ideal world, it's kind of a mix of the two. And at what stage do you personally, and I think probably if I was, I'm not a psychotherapist, but I would say you need to build some ritual around it. And I'm sure you did when you sold your company or left, but build some ritual, have a trip, do something shamanic and go, we did it. We're okay. We have enough. And now focus on towards something. So that's like that part of your life is kind of over now, right? It's like the... What was that thing for you? What was the... Trying to escape pain and get to a point of, I guess, freedom. And freedom is a very psychological thing. It's the freedom from shame, freedom from not being able to, freedom from having to do things you don't want to do. And I think really freedom from shame. I think that's probably at the very heart of it. I think that's what it is. It's very deep, man, because it's that thing where you go, I feel empathetic towards the younger you. That's like a tough thing to have to go through. But you go kind of great, kind of great. Look at how far you got on away from, without even the towards, without even the amazing kind of, and it's like, well, what next? That's a sad story, but then you look at people that got given everything and have done nothing, because they had no sense of purpose. They had no fire under them. They had no, I think, yeah, it's kind of an inspiring story. But then there's no... Sometimes it's like, what's going to motivate you next?
Find purpose and knowing you’re enough (51:31)
What's going to be the thing that you go, you know, what do I want to do? And this is exactly it. So you think about how important purpose is for people to feel stabilized and fulfilled, et cetera, as we've talked about earlier, and then you think about these people that are striving for a million, a billion, a trillion. Well, think about what are mid-life crisis is, right? So I talk a lot about mid-life crisis in the book, and you go, well, mid-life crisis is someone that's found their purpose, and they've done their thing, and then they've gone, is this it? Yeah. Is this it? And then they want something like excitement. So what do they buy? Sports car. Is it exciting? Oh, fucking no. I mean, maybe, maybe if you're super into cars, I guess it's good, but like, it's all advertising speaks to this, right? I know I'm right, 'cause all advertising ever is about it's no longer about the functionality of the product. It's about the, well, what do you want? You want to feel like-- Self-esteem. Self-esteem, great, Rolls-Royce. You want excitement? We've got Ferraris for you. You want to get your dicks out? We've got to Porsche. Whatever the thing is, you know, you got that, that kind of, there's a different one, and they're playing on different emotions. And I think being aware of, I mean, I come back to it all the time. What do you want is the fundamental question. Like, in any scenario, when you sit down to eat, what do you want? What do you want from life? What do you want? What's the thing that you want? And often it's often asking that question multiple times because the first answer tends to be-- Bullshit. Well, I think wishing wells work, right? But they don't work when you think they work. It's nothing, there's no magic. The magic is, if there is any, knowing what to wish for, knowing what that thing is. Someone says, "I want a million pounds." You go, "I don't know what you fucking want." You want tokens for things that you might want in the future. What do you want? What are you doing? What are you trying to be? Who are you trying to become? I ask people, these young people, specifically this question, and they will say things that are all about external validation. So I want to be, you know, the one variation of famous, that you know, it makes a public speaker, and you say, "Why do you want to be a public speaker?" And really, when you get to the crux of it, what they actually want to be, is they want the admiration that they think public speakers get. Because, you know, their dad didn't talk to them or something. Yeah, but I could see that. The idea of going, I think a lot of that is like, that tribal thing of going on and be recognized. I'm in a very privileged position, and I'm famous. And I would argue, that's the norm. That's the norm for the longest time in human history. That everyone knew everyone. We used to live in much, for like, 10,000 years, you know, longer. The longest time, we were in tribes between 60 and 100 people. Everyone knew everyone. A stranger was a weird thing. And now we see strangers all the time, and we act like it's normal, but it ain't. And so that desire to belong, to be famous, what is was ever thus? It's always been that way. There was a, you know, it was an ancient Rome. People wanted to be famous, and wanted to be adored, and wanted to be. That's like it's valid. And, you know, how do you deal with that? How do you get that thing? And if it helps them strive, I think like I make a real distinction between jealousy and envy in the book, and I talk about jealousy being bad. I don't want you to have that. I don't want you to have that. I don't necessarily want it, but I don't want you to have it. Fuck that guy, he shouldn't have that. Why do you get given that? That's some bullshit. Envy's really good. Envy is like, it's what you want. It's like motivation. It's like, oh, that guy's got an electric scooter. That looks really cool. I think it was great. You know what you tell us what you want. It tells you what's the thing that you're attracted to. So I think it can be a real force for good. So that thing of like, when you were a kid and you're looking at the other kids, and they're suited and booted and clean and tidy going to school, and their parents are there, and you go, right, I'm building that for me. I investigated this particular topic in my book at great length. But I want to ask you the question as if I don't know the answer, because I want to get your take on it. I agree with everything you said. And I especially this point about knowing that you're enough now. In my book, I got to a point in chapter 18 where I'm like, how do I know that I'm enough right now, but also get the purpose and fulfillment that comes from ambition and striving for moral? And it felt like a contradiction. Like, I am enough. I have everything I need. Yeah, I think we're talking about here. We're talking about gratitude. It's that thing of like, you're grateful for what you've got. You're grateful for what you've got just the solid state. You lose everything tomorrow. You've got your health. Right, and there's people out there that don't. And you've got friends around you. Great. You know, that gratitude can't be stifling. They're like practicing gratitude. I mean, they've done all the statistical studies on it. It makes such a difference to your life to be grateful for what you have and to go, right, this is fucking amazing. Like, you know, the older you get, the more your friends die. The more you go, fuck, I mean, I never got to see this. Never got to enjoy that thing. Never got to sad. I had a friend pass away recently and you just, you become aware of your mortality and you're so grateful to be here and to be in this game and to be around. But that gratitude can't stop you from going, but I also want to go further and further. And I think the great thing about being a comic is we're brilliant with failure. We made friends with failure a long time ago. We've died many times on stage. I've written more jokes that don't work than you. So many more. You may not have written any jokes that don't work. I've written thousands of them. But that thing of like that feedback loop of failure is so it's such a great life lesson to learn because you go, well, look, I need fail all the time. I'll fail and I'll fail and I'll fail. And I'll eventually, I'll fail so many times I run out of ways to fail and then I'll call that success. And you kind of, you build and build and you kind of go, well, what's the next thing I'm going to do? I'm very lucky because I have a job, which is it's a task without end. And that's where I think happiness lies in those tasks without end where you go, right, I'm going to spend my time trying to be a better comic. You're going to try and write in a different style. I'm going to try and be, I'm going to try and be a goat. I'm going to try and be on the Mount Rushmore of comedy. Now, I know that probably won't happen, but I've got a fucking lottery ticket and I'm allowed to try and do it. And that feels like an incredibly, that feels like a life's journey. I don't know if that, did that answer the question? I don't know if it did. Perfect. But then the question was about... No, you did because you reframed beyond. You reframed my point, which was about knowing you're enough. You reframed it to gratitude and when gratitude and ambition can coexist. Yes, but it's a tricky one though, isn't it? Because sometimes you feel like, am I being ungrateful by wanting to more? Yeah, yeah. And also, and how much of a kind of, you kind of go, "I've already got a lot of stuff. Do I need any more stuff? Do I need any more?" But I guess it's not about things or people. It's about how we spend our days ultimately. So it's not about like, there isn't a God. No one's keeping score. There's no one from above who's going to go at the end of your life. Okay, let's take a look at the stats. And in my head, I kind of wish there was.
Whats happiness? (58:45)
So I'm going, you did that many. So what's happiness? I've got a couple of theories on happiness. I think flow states are what happiness lives. What's a flow state? So, I know about them. If you get into a state where you lose track of time, that's a pretty good indicator. A lot of people get it with sports. Okay, so you're doing something that you so enjoy, you're so engaged in this activity, you forget even where you are. You might get it playing video games. I get it on stage. What I'm just in this moment, and I enjoy it, I'm totally engaged, and I'm in the flow. You see musicians kind of embody it on stage. Spend as much time in a flow state as you can in life. If that can become your job, then tremendous. That is that success. Everything else is who cares, but that thing is like, that's amazing. So what's your flow state? What's the state? What's the thing you do where you go? This is my shit. What is it? - For me. - Yeah. - A lot of things come to mind. One of them is, I've got this show that's touring at the moment. It's in the London Palladium in February. And I was, as you were saying, that I was imagining sitting in the chair on stage with my choir, and that feels like my flow state feels like I'm just on my own, just for the floating. - And you'll try and hold onto that moment. You'll try, and it's like Quicksilver, 'cause it's like the time will just float by, and you know you'll be there. And there's kind of a high before the high, even thinking about it. But that thing of going, that's next February. That won't do. You're gonna need that once a week. You're gonna need that once a day. That more of that, like leaning into that edge of going, that's where I'm happy. That's where you should be. This is lovely, actually. I think kind of, I think the reason sort of panel shows are so popular on TV is because this is missing from our culture. Like this is how we should end every day. The reason podcasts are blowing up is because people desperately wanna be in a conversation. And there's something very intimate about podcasts. There's something about the long form and listening that's really-- - When you don't do them on Zoom. - Yeah, you can't do them on Zoom. There's no eye contact. My other theory on happiness is its expectations exceeded. - Oh yeah. - Because listen, what a birthday's a shit, right? New Year's Eve's fucking waste of time. How much you drinkers. I've never had a good New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve's fuck all. And why? Because the expectation is this is gonna be the best night ever, we're gonna, it's gonna be huge. Everyone's gonna be there. Even if everyone is there and it is a really good night, you go, but I thought it was gonna be amazing. And it was just really good. Moo. And then sometimes on a fucking Tuesday, someone goes, I just went, I bumped into the guy and then we went to a thing and then we ended up with a, I don't know if I can grade time. It's the, it's that thing of like tricking yourself into kind of just lower your expectations. Maybe a little bit less time looking at what everyone else is doing on holiday on Instagram is pretty healthy. And looking around, trying, enjoying the little simple pleasures and, oh, we ordered in and the food was fucking amazing and it arrived hot. Great. - Does that link to your point about comparison being the thief of joy? - Of course, yeah. - Comparing despair. Everyone's having a better time. Well, check Instagram now. We're gonna feel like dummies for sitting here having a really interesting conversation. Oh shit, we should be fucking water skiing in the Amazon. - Yeah, we're dummies. But it's being where you're at, right? So it's... - And that's raising our expectations of how our lives should be going when I see Timmy doing his jet skiing in. - But it's, it's, oh, the places you won't go. Oh, the things you won't do to be where you are. There's a million people you're not because you, you did this and you didn't do that. Now you could have gone down another road. Maybe you could have been a great sportsman. Maybe you could have been a great academic, but you didn't go down that road. You went down this road and enjoying that and being where you're at is kind of, it's kind of important. Do you know what you commit to something? It's like, you know, it's fine. You can't be like all these different, I think it's overwhelming at the moment what's going on in social media. Because it just feels like you're constantly bombarded by options and easy lives. You know, the latest kind of iteration of the fame heaven myth is reality stars. So there's a big difference between, again, another conflation, but being a celebrity and being famous. I'm famous, but I'm not celebrity. I'm famous for something that I do, but a subject is just themselves. It's the queen or a Kardashian. They're just themselves. And the money rolls in and it's tremendous. It's a fucking lottery win.
Hard work (01:03:38)
- Hard work, very pivotal to your, you getting here today by the sounds of it, especially in those early years as a comedian after leaving Shell. What role does hard work play in our society? It's right in becoming a successful individual or whatever passion you're pursuing. There's probably a counter narrative that I think has emerged in our country. Maybe because of social media has allowed people to kind of converge behind that and relinquish responsibility of their situations by calling hard, referring to hard work as being a really, really sort of toxic thing. And I've felt that more recently. I didn't see it when I was younger. - I mean, let's, you know what, let's have a, you gambling man. - Not, it depends. I mean, in life, not in the casino. - Yeah, let's put a bet on that. Let's see how that works out for them. I just don't think that's gonna bring him happiness. - Which part? - Hard work is toxic. Okay. Okay, don't do hard work then. Good luck dummy. It's just not gonna work for you. That's not gonna pay out because what's the metric of our society? It's results, right? And I don't care how, there's two great myths in our society, right? There's one myth is talent and ideas. And there's another myth which is hard work. They're both bullshit, total fucking bullshit. 'Cause the ideas are cheaper than table salt, right? Everyone's got ideas. I've got an idea for an app. It's the Uber for filling the thing here. Yeah, great. Sure, sure. It's every idea is about implementation. Every sports is a good analogy, right? So Michael Jordan, greatest of all time, right? There's no debate. He's the greatest. How much did he work? Fucking more than anyone else. How much natural talent did he have? More than anyone else. What if he hadn't worked? You never heard of him. He never would have made the team. Let alone be the greatest. But wouldn't have even made the team if he hadn't trained. It's a good analogy for life of going, look, whatever talent you have, if you don't do the work as well, it's just a waste of potential. So I think it's the absolute fundamental now. Hard work and drudgery are not the same thing, right? There's a working smart and working hard and there's a difference between the two. Like if you're working at something and it's like hard work alone won't do anything. You know, it's about what stream you're in. And I suppose the extreme example would be if you're collecting, you know, recyclable metals on a favela dump in South America, work as hard as you want. Nothing's ever going to get to that level. So you work hard if you must and you work smart if you can. If you can't, you know, if anyone listening to this is already in a privileged position in the, you know, odds are Western world, do an okay, have a digital phone. That's you're doing better than a third of the world before you even start. You know, most people don't have running water, you know, most people don't have a flushing toilet. The world in a fucking terrifying state. So it's that thing of going, well, work as smart as you can, work at the thing that you're best at. I think school teachers, this may be the wrong lesson. School teachers, this is a lesson about mediocrity and being all rounders. And yet we live in a world that does not reward all rounders. You guys are fuck about all rounders. If you, if you get a D in physics and you get an A in English, I say just go to English lessons because we're going to get you up to a C grade in physics. I'll tell you what the world doesn't need. Someone who shitted physics, still shitted physics with no natural. So find out what you've kind of got a natural, you know, that edge thing. Find out what you have a natural ability for. What's the thing that you do best? And again, I would remind people it's not the best in the world, just better than anything else you do. Lean into that. Like I'm all for following your dreams if your dreams are what your best at and the opinions of family and friends don't count. And then it's a little bit, I suppose it's a bit tough love. It's that thing of going, look, look at what your inner critic says. Okay. And it won't be wrong. Look at what your inner critic says about you. Walk back the cruelty and you got a, okay, that's the reality. That's the starting point. I read that in your book and I was in, I was laying in bed. I was actually already a book, I was listening to it. And you said the thing about your inner critic, which a lot of people obviously don't want to admit is their inner critic is usually right. And I remember sitting there thinking, "Now that can't be right, let me check this." And then I started listening to my inner critic for a couple of seconds and I thought, "No, that's right, that's right, that's right." But please expand on that idea of the inner critic. - Well, look, the idea of the inner critic is going, "Look, I went to a fancy university, right?" And I think Cambridge's way imposter syndrome was built. And there's a lot of imposter syndrome in the world, right? You arrive at a new workplace and you go, "Jesus, they must have made a mistake and got the wrong CV and given me the job and, oh, crap." Where I'm at this new college or I'm at this new, I'm starting this thing and I don't know what I'm doing. That feeling of, I'm not enough and I don't know what I'm doing is why you buy the business management for Dummy's book and fucking read it the night before. It's what drives you to do the homework. So I got to Cambridge and I thought, "I'm not smart enough to be here." And then I worked my fucking nuts off and it turned out I was wrong. And I was smart enough to be there and I did really well. Because I'm fucking, because I was motivated by the, I'm not good enough to be here, I need to work. I need to work hard. You know, you start in comedy and you go, "Oh my God, I've given up everything to be a comedian. I've got 20 minutes of jokes that work. I'm going to need thousands of jokes that work. They all have to work, fuck." You get to work. What's the motivation? What's the thing that wakes you up at four in the morning and you go, "I need to fucking do this." I can't rely on just being, "Hey, I'm just going to have a Wisecrack." And, you know, asking a comic to improvise an hour long show is like asking a magician to do real magic. The work is done in the gym. By the time I get to the stage, I know it's going to be a good show. I've tried these jokes on other people. I know we're a lock. You know, 10, 20% of the evening is about the fun that happens in that room. They're messing around with the audience. They're showing off the work that I've done in the gym, the muscle memory of knowing how to make people laugh. Great. But I'm going to arrive ready. There's something really interesting in that when you were talking about the reason why you succeeded at Cambridge is because you didn't feel like you were smart enough to be there and etc, etc, etc. That also sounds a lot like what I described when I said the reason why I pursued money and tried to be successful was because I felt inadequate in myself and it became this great motivator. Yeah. There's a plus to that and then there's this potential danger in. But are we being a bit like, you know, that thing of going, giving kids too much self-esteem, giving people, not kids necessarily, because this is about life stage, right? What we're talking about here isn't about when you leave college and when you're young and when you're doing something, right? There'll be people listening to this in their 40s that are going to start a business and do something fucking exceptional with their lives. There's people in their 50s that are going to do that. There's people in their 60s. I don't believe there's like a knockoff point. People in their 70s? You struck those people. The Delta variant dealt with them. They're gone, man. There's none left. I'm sorry. The good news is the pensions crisis is over. But that thing of like going, well, you're going to, you know, people do, people do extraordinary things if they, but they put the work in. And I think people lean into the myth of like, that thing of like, oh, he's a genius. You read, you know, Forbes magazine or whatever about business people doing incredibly well. That's like, well, this guy's a genius. Steve Jobs thing is the genius, genius love Bill Gates. He's a genius. And then you read about these guys that like finance guys, they wake up at five in the morning and he only sleeps for three hours a night and he does so much and he knows everything. And now you work so hard. It's always both. It's always both. And then plus time you need, you know, that 10,000 hours thing isn't, isn't wrong. It's just that's the minimum. What could you stand to do for 10,000 hours that won't feel like drudgery? What could you stand to do now for the next 10 years of your life that won't feel like, ah, this again? And if you're only motivated by the paycheck, it's like, well, how hard could you work? Quick one. As many of you know, I've been trying to make my life a little bit more sustainable as it relates to energy. Ever since I sold my Range over Sport and bought an electric bicycle and my energy, as a sponsor of this podcast, one of the brands that make that transition much, much easier, they are at the forefront of British renewable eco smart technology. And their products are really, really changing the game. If you're on YouTube, you can see what I'm holding in my hand. This is called the Eddy, right? It's the UK's number one solar power diverter. So what is a solar diverter? It's a device for people like you and me that means you can divert your excess energy back into your home rather than back into the grid, which will save you power and money. It's super user friendly and easy to install. And you can control it using the My Energy app on your phone. To find out more about this product and more products like here, that will help you make that sustainable transition, head over to MyEnergy.com and I highly recommend you check out the Eddy. It's a real game changer for a product and one that I'm going to be installing in my home soon. Paychecks.
You talked about one of the lessons you brought over from your business career was branding. You said one of the most important things you carried over from your business career to stand up is branding. You sell your specialty. Yeah. I think that, like, I mean, branding in a very loose sense. It's that thing of like knowing how you're perceived. So when you walk on stage, if you're like suited and booted and you look as if you're hosting a TV show, how long is it going to be before some dummy at a TV channel goes? Who should be hosting a TV show? This guy looks the part. Like that thing of like that simple thing of going, this is a visual medium. I'm standing in front of people. I don't think it's not like people go, oh, you know, if you don't get them in the first five minutes, you're in trouble. Five minutes, you're having a laugh. If you don't get them in the first, before I've hit the mic, they've made a decision about me in a club. You know, this guy's a fucking nose. We can all relax. This guy knows what he's doing. It's like the wishing room. Yeah. And it's like that thing of like you go, you know, someone faking confidence is exactly the same to the casual observer. So that thing of like, what are you faking? Faking being a good person to the casual observer, it's the same.
Tax avoidance - anxiety and depression (01:14:19)
Being a good person to the casual observer, tax, that seems like a good segue. Yeah. Well, I mean, the tax thing's really, it's quite an interesting thing when you get publicly shamed, that you learn a lesson. You see the goals. I totally missed that. Oh, okay. Well, I mean, it's good. One was there was a, the long story, I suppose, is you have an accountant, right? And your accountant says, how much tax do you want to pay? Yeah. Oh, there's a scheme. You go, yeah, great. Is it legal? Yeah. They go, yeah, it's legal. You go, oh, okay. And they go, yeah, you can pay as much as you want or pay this. So it's quite, they use terms like it's quite an aggressive scheme. And you go, oh, okay. But there's less tax and you got to keep them. Okay. That's well, that sounds good. And I suppose anyone that's ever bought an ISA has done a tax avoidance scheme. That's a government backed tax avoidance scheme. So I was doing a bunch of those and government enterprise initiative things and trusts and quite complex financial things. So the money was rolling in and it was just all going through the accountants out to these things. And one day it all caught up. So one day, I don't know how exactly I presume HMRC leaked something, but that's okay. And it went from being on the cover of the paper to going, you know, you've done an aggressive tax scheme. This is morally wrong. And I'd never thought of it as being moral. I'd never, I'd just gone while I'd pay as little as you can and whatever. I'm still kicking in a lot. And it was just like, I had that feeling. It was almost like suicide with a bungee rope. You felt like you were losing everything. And then it kind of snapped back and it was okay. But the sensation of what it would be like to be canceled. I've had that. That kind of, you know, not PTSD. I haven't been in a bomb blast. But, you know, you have that feeling of like what that would be like. So and then the Prime Minister comes out and he's at the G20 and he does a press conference where he talks about nothing other than your tax affairs and how morally represent, hands able you are. And he's the guy that brings in austerity and gave us Brexit and, you know, Scottish independence and whatever. And you go, Oh, fuck. This is going to be. And then I'm doing a topical comedy show that week where we're talking about the most talked about things. And I'm the most talked about thing. How did you actually feel in that moment? I was buying the scenes. I had. So the news broke on a Sunday. I was, I didn't sleep for about maybe three days. I mean, you know, I didn't sleep. You know, there's always an hour here or there, but I was having panic attacks. And that sensation of a panic attack, if you haven't had one, is you, you, you can't get comfortable in your own skin. You can't sit. You can't stand. You can't eat. Like nothing feels right. You're kind of just off. And I, I took some, I took like a beta blocker on the first day. And then I had the meds. I had like the beta blockers and the Valium and stuff. I got like prescribed enough to send me down a black hole. And then I didn't take anything. I just had them as a talisman of like, okay, I'll have that. But it was kind of panic attacks and waves of that and guilt and shame. And you know, hard lessons because you find out who your friends are. So a couple of people that I was pretty close to were gleeful were, oh, that guy's been brought down a peg or two. Like, so that's a hard thing. It's a hard thing to learn. And then some other people stepped up to the plate, you know, and you go, wow, that's, I'm not really interested in fair with a friend. Like everyone comes to a showbiz party. Of course, if I can do. The showbiz party, baby. But the people that call you when you're at your lowest and go fine. I love you. You're, you're not the worst thing you've ever done. You go great. And on that point, you, you talk openly about how you've had depressive bouts. Yeah, I mean, I spoke about it in the book because I think it's a, I wanted to kind of deliver on. Listen, if I hadn't talked about the tax thing in the book, I'd say. I think readers would have felt shortchanged very much like HMRC did. But again, the depression and anxiety, I suffer more with anxiety than depression. And I try and see it in a very positive way. I try and be as positive as it can in life and go, so if I have an anxiety attack, you go, well, that's sort of the flip side of creativity, right? So if you have a mind that's worrying all the time, you know, sometimes it's going to wake you up at five in the morning with a panic attack. And that's all right. You know, I can wait and knuckle that. I'm lucky, but mine aren't that severe. It's not like I'm better and braver than other people with mental health problems that need to medicate. Just lucky that it's not as bad for me. But I'm aware of it. And I think talking about it does help because all we have is talking therapy. So if that talking therapy is me, someone listening to my book and going, Oh, he seems all right. And he deals with this and he's going through it. And I know that I'm not alone in this because the first time you have a panic attack, it's fucking terrifying because you think, is this my forever now? Because it's all you can feel. And it's overwhelming. And you go, well, is this it? Is it the first time you get depressed? First time like a real depression hits you. It's like, Oh, wow, this is a this is awful. When was the first time? The first one was probably early early twenties, like after college, like a black mood that just wouldn't shift and it was yeah. Yeah, it's pretty scary. And then I had one in Australia a couple of years ago, 2018, where I and I could kind of see what it was like there's a bit of your mind that's like always, you know, aware and it was like I traveled that I'd done like 160 flights that year when it was I did Australia twice in a month and it's I was so broken. I was so stripped of serotonin and I took a Valium to sleep on the plane and that strips more serotonin. And I was just like, it's the inability to feel joy. So I don't know if you've had anyone die in your life, but sometimes someone on their death bed, you make them their favorite meal. You get the food from the specialty, but I remember going to see a friend who was dying and we bought him Scott Chegs from Fortnum and Mason, like his favorite thing. And he looked at them and he was grateful, but he couldn't eat them because he just didn't have an appetite. And when you're depressed, it's the appetite for life is just gone. It's just you haven't got it. But it's this too short pass, you know, the that thing of going where you can just, you know, I can white knuckle it and just kind of get through that and other people can medicate for a couple of weeks and they're sort of okay. And do you think these things are interesting question to ask and probably quite naive, but do you think these things are a symptom of the way we live our lives, panic attacks, depression? Would you think they are part of the human human experience, regardless of the way that we live our lives? I think it's a great question. I think depression is a part of life. I think it's probably people have always had that. And I think there is a there's a there's a benefit to these things. It's a it's not only negative, you know, melancholy can be a very beautiful thing. Sometimes it's very appropriate to be down, you know, if you're grieving someone, that's you know, you talk about being depressed when someone dies. You it's grief. It's a different sort of thing that's of course, it's it's it's normal. I think that thing about for me, I think, you know, the nurture thing is the thing that we can change. I'm I'm a great believer that we could change and do better. But yeah, maybe it's maybe it is a symptom of how we're living our lives and we could do better. You know, I'm sure if I was doing Iowa, I'd ask every weekend, I'd have less panic attacks, but at the moment, I don't feel kind of drawn towards that world, but I'm kind of aware that that exists. I've kind of got some friends in that world and I can I'm aware there's other got a friend that was on antidepressants for 30 years and started doing Iowa, Skirt and is now often now, it's not even firsthand. It's definitely not scientifically relevant. Don't take medical advice from me kids, but it strikes me that there are other ways. There's other ways in that there's ancient cultures that had this shit locked down.
Losing your virginity at 26 (01:22:55)
You didn't lose your virginity till you were 26. Yeah, very late. And again, I spoke about that in the book because I think there is a perception in society that it is a race and you need to do that early and you need to be, you know, fucking with a weapons grade dick because everyone's watching Pornhub and you know, whatever. It's it's a I thought it was a nice thing to share because I think some kid of 24 is going to read that and go, I might be all right. I might be normal. You describe that as being a fear. I remember very distinctly trying to have sex when I was 16 and just being totally fucking terrified because I thought my penis was I thought it was I mean, I think I probably watched you much porn or something at 16 or 17. But I was like, this is not a penis. This is tiny in comparison to that. I think we have to get our dick. I think we have an ending for the show. I was like 15 and I totally bottled it. What was it? Was it fear? Was it? I think it was, you know, I think it's fear. You know, there's a lot of other things going on. Obviously it's like maybe a religious faith, 15% of that and maybe a little bit. Inmeshed is the term they use where you're too close to one parent and that maybe stops you from forming bonds with other women. So very close to my mother and that stops you from kind of going out and having normal relationships in some sense. You know, there's a million different reasons. It kind of doesn't matter. It's like everyone gets there and the perception, I think again in our society and the reason to put it in the book is because you go, I'm not embarrassed. Give a fuck. I like very happily talk about it and you go, don't get too caught up in the reasons. Think about now. Think about what matters. I think that, you know, that school of therapy, the Freudian analysis, that's all about why that happened. I think give a fuck. What are we going to do about it? I like CBT and NLP more because it's more like, yeah, what are we going to do though?
NLP - Neuro-linguistic programming (01:24:52)
What are we doing now? What are we doing today? NLP, neuro-negristic programming. Yeah, Peter Jones was talking to me a lot about this one when we were having our breaks and dragons done and what role is NLP played in your life? What is it, I'm for you? And for those that don't know, including me, what is it? Neuro-legristic programming is like, I suppose it came out of the West Coast human potential movement of the 70s. It's a sort of, almost like a belief structure for life. And it's been, I think it's been used, nefariously a fair bit. You can find some negative stuff on it online. I happened to when I was working for Shell. There was a budget for training. And obviously, I'm not working on an oil rig. I was like, OK, well, I'll just go on an LRP course. Like this kind of slightly hippie-ish thing for a big oil corporation to send you on. And the idea of it is the map is not the territory. It's like the fundamental questions in life are going, but your experience of the world is not the same as everyone else's. And how you see things within the map inside your mind is how the world is for you. And so these premises are like the quality of your communication is the quality of your life, which made sense to me. Everything about it, I was taught by this guy called Ian McDermott. And everything he said, like for 20 days on this course, I just went, I agree with all of this. Everything felt right to me about that. It felt like, OK, someone's given this a lot of thought and we're all standing on the shoulders as giants. And this seems like a pretty good way to think about life. So the idea that the map is not the territory, the idea that you go, well, you imagine how things are, you could imagine it a different way. It's very difficult to change how you think about the world. Very difficult. But it's so much easier than changing the world. The map is not the territory. So you imagine the world, right? You imagine London. And the size of London and what it is. What you have in your head isn't the real thing. It's your perception of it. It's your perception of how things are in this room is not the same as my perception of how they are in this room. So it's different for everyone. And the analogy being there's a map that's 2D and it tells you, right, that's Britain, that's France. You have an idea of what Britain looks like from above. It's got fuck all to do with reality. No one's ever seen it from that angle. So those lines don't exist. Those lines are man-made. The borders aren't real. And how does that help you in life? Well, I think it's the idea of going, look, you can change the way that you think about things. So I was thinking about things in I can do this narrow bandwidth of things. My belief system, the assumptions I'd made about life, where you can get a job and you can work for someone. And after you get a job and you work for 40 years, you get a pension and when you get the pension, I was on a conveyor belt. Sure. And suddenly I went, oh, I could believe anything. I could believe that I could do anything. I could believe that I could be the guy on the TV show telling jokes. And you can. What you believe dictates your life. You'll be the barrier. You'll be the thing that stops you. No one else, you know, people spend a lot of time worrying about other people. Oh, what if they don't help me? What if they don't? You're going to be the thing that holds you back. You said that the best goals are those without the destination. I mean, listen, this is a very self-help chat, right? So we are legally obliged to say at some point, it's the journey, not the destination. We have to say that. But getting there isn't half the fun. It's all the fun. So what's next for you? Okay. Well, I have plans. I always have plans. I've got grand plans. If you say now that you want to make a billion dollars, I'm going to delete this episode. I'm trying to get better at comedy. I've been going about 20 years and I'm trying to change up my style a little bit. So I do, this is the inside baseball people. You can switch off now if you're not interested in comedy. So I do one-liners. Everything's a fast ball, right? And I do sort of three a minute on stage and I try and get people into a state where they can't breathe, where they're laughing so much, where they're joyful experience, where they can't remember anything I said, but they remember how I made them feel and I made them feel so happy. That's what I want to do. Okay. I'm trying to change that a little bit. I'm trying to change it up so I'm doing, I'm trying to write routines between sort of seven and 12 minutes long, trying to write longer pieces with a bit more to them. So I'm trying to sort of find a, it's been really interesting with the book. I'm coming on podcasts like this of like finding a different voice. So I'm a public figure. I've been on TV for 20 years, pretty famous. I've never spoken like this before, right? So I've just done a couple of podcasts recently where I'm chatting to people as I am and you go, okay, so that's, there's a serious side to me and then there's a funny side to me. People are nuanced and complicated and great. And I'm trying to bring a little bit of who I am to the stage now. I'm trying to reveal a little bit more about me and that's a very exciting prospect. And so writing a new show, so I'm sort of halfway through a tour and I kind of push the bucket button and record it a special, it's going to come out at Christmas and I've written new stuff. Why? I just go out and do new stuff. Why? It's exciting. It's like the trying new stuff, doing new things, trying to get people to a different state. So it's a little bit for the, for the adulation of it because you kind of go, well, I want it to be a better experience for the audience, but also I want more applause breaks. I want it to be a higher volume laugh. You know, there's a, there's a, it's difficult to describe, but there's like, there's a laugh that you got everyone in the room laughed, bang, but then it's gone and then get them again, bang, and then, and then it's gone. You want a rolling laughter. You want, you know, I want to get better. I want to get better. I've seen people that are better than me on stage with worse material, with worse jokes. You go, so you want to get better as a performer and you want to get better as a writer and it feels like this. I feel like I'm at base camp. I've got the kit. I've got the right gear and I'm on the mountain, but we haven't got anywhere near the summit. And that's for me, tremendously exciting as a guy in his late 40s to go, Oh, we're just starting. Most of the great comics that I love did their best work in their 50s. Hmm. Inside your book in the front cover. Hmm. And this is my last question for you. It says that one of the things the book will help you understand is the meaning of life. Pretty profound. I'll do it in five words. Okay. Enjoying the passage of time. That's it. It's enjoying the passage of time. The chances of us being here now are so small. The chances of us existing. It's, you know, if you look at the, if you look at the stats, it's not just our parents had to get together at that moment, but their parents, their parents, their parents, their brand going back a billion years as we climbed out of the soup. The chances of this happening are incalculable and yet we're here and we have this shot and we're breathing and we're healthy and we're, this is incredible. Seeing the passage of time is about, it's about all I got and it's enough. Thank you. I found your, you know, your book incredibly refreshing for so many reasons because it was laced with humor, but because it was so inclusively written as a self and so relatable as a, I kind of felt like it was low hanging fruit, the self help thing because you go, well, Eckhart Tolle is amazing. Yeah. He's way around a dick joke. And you know, and, and Jordan Peterson, great 21 rules for life, but it's like, it's quite pitchy. Yeah. Yeah. It's difficult. You know, so you go actually sugaring the pill and going, look, there's this great interesting world out there. And I think this is like a, I think this book is a gateway drug. I think this is marijuana. This is like some really mellow weed and they'll lead you in a different direction. Like maybe, okay, well, I need to read some more stuff by him or I need to investigate that or that sounds interesting. And the honesty you start the book with, even confronting the fact that there's a stigma to writing self-help books, it immediately builds trust very early that you're not going to bullshit me and you're not going to try and be anybody you're not in this book. And so as I, as I listened into the audio book and the chapters passed, you'd establish this really high degree of trust with me because you kind of had pointed at the elephant in the room so early. It's interesting that thing of like the experience you had as well about the in a critic where you engaged with the book to a degree where you went, is that true? Is that, it's an interesting thing to be able to give someone that I haven't met. Something that is essentially very tough love. Yeah, no. It was, and the other thing that was even tougher love was at one point you say that I am the person I am with when no one's watching. And at that exact moment as I'm in my box of shorts with the pot noodle like spilt on my belly and it's like 2 a.m. in the morning, I'm thinking, this is the fuck I am. I swear, I feel like I sat up in the bed. I love that thing though of going like, if you're listening to this in the car and you just threw a beer can out of the window and go, yeah, that's who you are. And that's not terrible. You just have to be okay with that. It's a good, I think honesty is one of the great superpowers of comedians because everything's built on that level of like, people aren't going to get the joke if it's not honest. But that bedrock of acceptance is a great first step. You are where you are, it's not where you're going to end up. And I get the feeling a lot of people listening to this podcast and looking for something, they're looking for kind of a steer. And there's going to be movement. You're going in the right direction. Just the desire to get there is enough to get you started. Thank you. I'm so incredibly happy you wrote this book because it also showed me, I've watched on TV since I was a child. Right, I've been around a long time, baby. So it's also surreal meeting you because as I said, you know, one of the people that I sat there in my house in Plymouth, that whole place that you described, I didn't. And I watched you growing up and I knew one side of you. I knew the quick jokes. I literally remember the sketch you did where you come up on stage and you say, I'm going to do as many fucking one-liners as I can. And you just hammer them all out. And reading this book and also meeting you today is exactly what you've described as your kind of ambition. I've come to learn a) how unbelievably fucking smart you are. I didn't actually know you'd gone to Cambridge until I read about it. b) how multifaceted you are as a sort of philosophical thinker and see your incredible ability to weave that all together into shine lights on really important truths in society. And that's why when you told me that your ambition going forward is to bring a bit more content, we'll say, and a little bit more probably profound meaning and I don't know to your comedy. You know what it is? I saw Chappelle the other week. Really? And I shock people. Yeah. And he disturbs people. Yeah. And what I need to do is disturb people. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you have everything it takes to do that because you really are a genius in your own right. This is your way too kind.
Question From Previous Guest
The last guests question (01:36:27)
Yeah. Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Yes. You have to write questions. Did they write me a question? Yes. Okay. What do we do first? Do I get the question first? I'm going to ask you the question first. So all of our guests leave a question in the diary as they leave and they don't actually know who they're leaving the question for which is interesting. Right. We had Patrice Evra who's a Manchester United football legend. Okay. And is this going to be about the offside rule? Is this going to catch me out? It's not. Okay. In fact, interestingly, this is a question which changed his life when his partner asked him this question one day and it disturbed, troubled and caused a sense of introspection that made him really, really consider this seriously and that changed his life. That was the catalyst. So when I said to him to write a question, I looked down at what he'd written and it was the question he described on this podcast. So listeners of last week's episode will know, we'll know this question. Common. Okay. The question is, are you happy? Yeah. It's a great question. Yes. It is a really great question. It's really good. It's beautiful. Yeah. It's beautiful. And I think, you know, that thing I said earlier about like be lucky. I had a friend's father when I was a kid, would always say be lucky. And I remember thinking it was ridiculous because you can't be lucky. But the German luck is happy. Be happy. I think it's a powerful thing to aspire to. You know, enjoying the passage of time is my answer for the meaning of life. But to be happy is everything. And I think you are responsible for your happiness. You know, objectivism and anger and get given a hard time, I think, because I think people have completed pleasure and happiness. And I think those guys are just hedonistic fools. You being happy is better for the world. You know, when you're on a plane and it's going down and the oxygen masks come, you have to grab your mask first or you're no good for anyone else. You being happy makes the people around you happier, better for your friends, better for your family, better for the world. It's a great question. Weirdly, my, one of my ex, my ex girlfriend asked me that question one day. And I felt really defensive and like she had like really vulnerable when she asked. And I thought I thought I was happy. And I still think I was in that moment, but there's something about that question which really strips you to your essence. And like, I think it's very nicely framed as well. I like the way you asked it and I like the silence around it because it's often that thing of like conversation is that the pace is a bit too, too quick with filling silences and actually something you can kind of sit with. Am I happy? You know, and listeners, it's almost impossible that you want to answer that question. And if you're not, know that that's okay because it's going to change. And you know, happiness I think is about like that. It's the base state, isn't it? It's that thing of, you know, what's your base state? What's what's going on with you? Are you a happy person generally? Are you able to deal with a stimulus of life and still maintain? I suppose I need to put a question. He's the right question. Okay. Thank you. Please excuse my terrible penmanship. Do we do the question on A or do it after? I'm going to come in and give you the book and then you scribble the question. Thank you so much, Steve. My pleasure. Hey, good to meet you. Thanks a lot.