Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – David Baddiel: Page 2 of 2

6. What do your parents/children (delete as applicable) think of your job?

My mum is dead and my dad has dementia but I’m never sure that even in the past they quite understood how I ended up a comedian. I certainly never came from any kind of showbiz background. My kids are fairly used to it now. Ezra I think may have something of the gene in him - when he was 8 he was doing callbacks, and when he was 9, after we watched Ghostbusters, he sung, the next day "If you’re seeing things, running through your head, who you gonna call. A psychiatrist.” 

7. What’s the worst thing about being a comedian? 

Funny is delicate. It’s fragile. Something that is really really funny in one space can be very unfunny in another. The wrong room can change everything. But people don’t get that, and particularly on TV, there’s a thing as a comedian of being expected to go on under any circumstances and be funny and I don’t enjoy that - particularly now, when the shows I create feel like they operate their own ecosystem.  So i don’t like it when producers expect me to graft material from my shows onto panel shows, or indeed chat shows. Although i like the ones that are genuinely free-form, like we used to do with Unplanned.

8. I think you are very good at what you do (that’s why I’m asking these questions). What do you think of you?

Thanks…I think I’m not an amazing performer, but I am very very good at two things - a. being myself on stage - this is harder than it seems - in some ways it’s the hardest thing, and b. storytelling. I think the most important thing as a comic is to find your own distinct voice - to do material that really only you could do - and I think it would be hard, given the shows I do now, to argue that I’m not doing that. Authenticity is everything for me. 

9. How much do you earn and how much would you like to earn?

I earn a fair bit at the moment. I have earned more. But I’ve also earned less.

10. How important is luck in terms of career success – have you had lucky breaks?

Luck is important for every one, but I think if you can do this, you will be spotted. Comedy is the ONLY art form that at some level can’t be faked. Because there is an actual measurable audience response that if you don’t get, you’re fucked. You can be an actor, playwright, musician, artist - all the rest of it - and get by on Emperor’s New Clothesness. Not stand-up. No-one is going to get by for very long on a chin-stroking “oh this is very good” silent response.

11. Alan Davies has said that comedians fall into two categories - golfers and self-harmers. The former just get on with life, the latter are tortured artists. Which are you – or do you think you fit into a third category?

Well obviously for anyone who’s seen my present show, golf is key for me. Although probably in a negative way. I don’t think I’m quite either. I’m an artist, but not that tortured - again, My Family: Not The Sitcom deals with challenging subject matter but in I think quite a celebratory, upbeat way. I’m a bit tired of tortured, really, and of the critical admiration for it. Maybe I’m an anti-golf artist. 

12. Who is your favourite person ever and why – not including family or friends or other comedians?

John Updike. Explaining why would take too long and I’ve explained it a lot in other places...(editor's note. Like here.)

13. Do you keep your drawers tidy and if not why not? (please think long and hard about this question, it's to settle an argument with my girlfriend. The future of our relationship could depend on your response).

Totally not. I am a very very untidy person in general. Luckily if you refer to question 9, you’ll see I can afford a cleaning lady who sorts that out for me, drawer-wise. 

David Baddiel's My Family: Not The Sitcom is at the Playhouse Theatre, London, from March 29 to June 3. Tickets here.

 

 

 

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