RICKY GERVAIS LIVE 2: POLITICS (2004) – Full Transcript

Starting out at the Houses of Parliament, Ricky Gervais shows how politics are all around us – even demonstrating on a passing disabled man. This trend continues once he is onstage and he covers all sorts of topics with a vague connection to politics and daily life.

The Houses of Parliament, home to British politics. But you don’t need to come here to see politics. Politics is everywhere… everywhere… everywhere… everywhere… Transport, Law and Order, N.H.S., Education Teachers moaning and that Defense. So the next time you’re walking around your town, open your eyes and see the politics that… Sorry, mate. Sorry… Actually… This illustrates my point. Look at this poor little fellow. He’s really political! Isn’t he? Let’s take a closer look. One: He’s a bit racial. What sort are you? What sort am I? Egyptian by Bath. Egyptian. Now, you can’t get more political than that, these days… ’round that sort of area. – So, so you’re wearing a fez? – No, mate. – Let’s get him a fez. – I’m not wearing a fez. – Just put a little fez on… – I’m not wearing a fez. – It’ll look really good, mate. – I’m not wearing a fez! I’m not wearing a fez!
So, right. One: racial. Two: handicapped a bit. Is it rubbish? Well, I’m disabled if that’s what you mean. What sort are you? I had polio… You can’t catch it! Ok. So you’re leg mental but not head mental. So that’s two. Three: gay. I’m not gay! Well, no, no… – You probably get what you can. – I’m not gay! And that’s that. Nothing to be ashamed of. So that’s three political hot potatoes all in one little weird fellow. I’m not gay. – Can I get you out? – No. Oh come on, let me see what it looks like. – I want to see what it looks like. – You’re not right, mate. You’re not right! – Please, come on, please. – You’re not right, mate! You’re not right! – Let me just have a look! – Get off! – Come on, mate! – Fuck off! Come on!
Can I have it back now? – So you’re out working for the BBC are you? – Yep – I’ll tell you what… – Do you want me to read you a little story? – I’m 31, mate. Should really be walking by now, then. Aren’t they grumpy, some of them? Got a little hat and everything. Still not happy.

Please welcome to the stage… Ricky Gervais! Hello. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Good evening. I hope you enjoyed that little short at the beginning. Or, Ash, as I call him. They’ve got names, they’ve got names. Individuals. You’re learning something already, ’cause that is totally factually accurate, that short educational film. He is really Egyptian. He is really disabled. He’s not gay. He wanted me to point that out. He is heterosexual. In fact he’s looking for a girlfriend, and wanted me to sort of do a shoutout, for any prospective wives. How can I big him up? The sex is shit but you can park up right next to Tesco’s! So, swings and roundabouts… Every cloud… Right? I can’t wait for him to see this show. It’ll be alright, he’s a good sport… if the sport is table tennis. They fucking love that, don’t they? They can’t get enough of that.

You alright there? That is high, innit? I did the Royal Albert Hall last month and that’s fucking scary. That was good actually, ’cause that was a charity event. And I don’t do enough for charity. I do a bit, but you can always do more. But I look at it like this: it’s a pain, innit? Nothing in it for me. All the money was going to teenage cancer. I say, all the money, after expenses, you know? Shouldn’t cost me anything, should it? So, I went by helicopter. Fucking brilliant! There are so many charities these days. I do do what I can. But when I was growing up there was just Oxfam. You knew where you were, know what I mean? You’ve done well if you’ve got shares in that, that’s gone from strength to strength, innit? ‘Cause you’re always out “famming!” There are loads… And you get them coming up to you in the street, with their little tunics on, and you have to cross the road, but then you get got by another set, you know what I mean? And I’ve been caught about six times, and I filled them out. Once you’re caught, you fill it out. Particularly now that I’m recognized. So I don’t get, “Oh, he was mean.” Or, spotted in Heat: “Gervais says no to Alzheimer’s!” It’s alright if it’s for Alzheimer’s, ’cause I go: “We did this a minute ago, mate…” That really worries them.
No, but you give your bank details and your telephone number. I’ve had no bad experiences with that, I must say. I have had my fingers burnt once, with a charity appeal. It was actually in a broadsheet newspaper ’cause I thought it was quite reputable. It was for sponsorship of a child, a Rwandan orphan. And it had a picture of a little 10-year-old Rwandan girl and a picture of a Cabbage Patch Doll. And I remember, it said, “Cabbage Patch Doll, 28 pounds.” “Little Zuki, just five pounds a week.” So I filled the form out and I sent it off. And as soon as I posted it, I thought, “Fuck, if she lives till she’s 18…” “…it’s costing me two grand!” I’d have paid for the Cabbage Patch Doll outright… But the way they worded it, they made that one look like the better deal! It’s confusion. So, just look, be careful… I don’t want you to get stung like I did. It can’t be a con, like that one was.

Oh, dear, so yeah… I warmed up at the Royal Albert Hall, for you. Actually I did do a couple of Walmarts, before that. And I just want to tell you about one of them, absolutely true story. We did this little theater. And we stayed in a place just outside Luton, called Dunstable. Fuck… It’s good. We stayed in this two-star hotel. Me! Full of white trash. I don’t want to deny my roots, but I’m out of that now. I expect a little bit more. The road manager came out and said, “I’ve booked you in.” “Just go straight in, just go straight through the bar, and your room’s at the end of the corridor.” “Just hide out there. No one will bother you, and I’ll pick you up at 9:00 tomorrow morning.” “You’ll be alright.” He went, “Oh, I must warn you, there’s a wedding on.” Oh, for fuck’s… And honestly, I walked in, it was loud, packed with people… Bloke in a suit, could have been the groom, I don’t care. I walked in and he went, “Brent!” Oh, for fuck’s sake… What’s the best he thought could happen? What was he hoping for? That I’d hear him shout that and turn around and go, “Who said that, then?” “That is brilliant!” – “Was it you?” – “Yeah, it was me.” “Brent, you little sausage…” “Did you just think of that? Just shout it out? That’s brilliant! Oh, God…” “I was going to bed, but do you want to be mates?”
It’s got better. About a year ago-I work in XFM sometimes-and about a year ago I got into the lift and just as the lift doors were closing, a bloke sort of made it. And I think he was a workman there, a little logo on his shirt, and he clocked me and he went: And I went: And then he went, “Where’s Monkey?” And instead of going, “That’s not me, mate, that’s Johnny Vegas.” I went, “Oh, he’s at home.” But he started going, “I think you were brilliant in those,” and I was going, “Thanks very much!”

But I can’t complain, I have had a good year. Went to America at the beginning of the year. Won a couple of Globes, thank you very much. No, no, I’m not saying that to show off. – “Brent!” – Cunt… I’m telling you to compare it with the week I had before I went to America. And that wasn’t such a good week. I was sitting at home, and it was about the second week of January… I was watching telly, and there was that program “Celebrity Stars and Their Doubles,” with Dale Winton. Yeah, sure, there was a Brent lookalike who won his category. Just a fat bloke. He had a tie and a goatee… just a fat bloke. The most like Brent in the world. Unbelievable. About 45, about 18 stone… In fact he was so fat, that when he got up to get his award off Dale, he actually had that fat bloke waddle. And Dale Winton said: “You even walk like Ricky Gervais!” Not even Brent anymore. Just a fat bloke he was, then. So I’ve started wearing black all the time now. I’ve got a complex. It’s slimming. It works! Pavarotti always wears black, doesn’t he? And now you see him in pastel and he’s a chunky little fucker!

So welcome to my new show. A bit worried about what to charge. 25 quid’s a lot of money. And I looked at other TV comedians who were charging less than me and I thought: Fuck it, you get what you paid for. Some people charge 25. Jim Davidson. Live. 25 quid. “Strictly no spastics.” Except Jim, they put him off. That’s a word you don’t hear very often, innit? “Spastic.” Again, in the ’70s, all the rage! No, but they changed their name. Not individuals, I mean, the society. The individuals, they weren’t… Well, you know what I’m gonna christen it! It was called the Spastics Society. And that was a normal word. And they changed their name to Scope, because “spastic” had started being used as a derogatory term. Particularly in playgrounds. Bullies would pick on little disabled kids, and they’d say, “Oh, you’re spastics.” They changed it to Scope. And now that doesn’t happen. It can’t, does it. I mean, what would happen now if a bully picked on a little fellow in a wheelchair? “Oy, spastic!” Little fellow in a wheelchair would just go, “I think you’ll find it’s Scope.” “Oy, Scopey!” “Fuck!” My impression of a wheelchair user. Not Thora Hird, that’s just that. She had a plush one. She didn’t even bother with that. Never off her ass, was she? She could walk, I’d seen her walk… She goes shopping in one of those things, all the way home, right up to the front door. Key in the door, straight in the stairlift. Feet haven’t touched the ground yet. Up to the bathroom, lowered into the bath. Never off her ass. Give her an award, she’s up there like a fucking greyhound!

Same as that Steven Hawking. Blazing! The most intelligent man on the planet and I’m having a go. Brilliant! The most intelligent man on the planet, but not such a good judge of character. Happily married, kids… Nurse… And now, according to some (my lawyers have told me to say) she leaves him out in the sun, she smacks him around the head for a laugh. Isn’t that terrible? He must be thinking: “What happened to all the fucking blowjobs?!” Spell the whole word! But… There’s no evidence. The charges were dropped. So that’s not how he got the cuts and bruises. It was probably all the skateboarding he does.

So… Why politics? Because… I want to give something back to society. Fuck off! I do! You don’t know! And I can’t enjoy this life when I see… Injustice Suffering Inequality And I want to live and die if necessary by the morals I hold dearly. Like Martin Luther King and Gandhi. And… Ben Elton. People have a problem with Ben Elton now. They think he’s sort of sold out all his principles… And just made as much money as he could, and he’s just an annoying little twat. That may be the case, but they never have a go at Gandhi, do they? And that’s what I’m here for, a bit of balance. Never mind having a go at Ben, what about Gandhi? He can be annoying.
I’ll tell you a story about Gandhi, a true story. When he came to England in 1930 or something… I haven’t looked up if it’s 1930, I can’t be bothered because I have to get ready for tomorrow… Right. It was 1930-something. He got off the plane. Pretty sure it was a plane. Heathrow. Terminal 1. Oh God, Mahatma Gandhi… In our little country. Surrounded by journalists, photographers. They couldn’t believe their luck. And one little journalist went, “Mr Gandhi?” Respectful, right? “Mr Gandhi: what do you think of Western civilization?” And Gandhi said, “I think it would be a good idea.” Ooh, you sarky… For someone who doesn’t want to get in a fight, he’s a little bit… Isn’t he? Fucking hell… And what happened to sarcasm being the lowest form of wit? Oh no, highest form of wit, when Gandhi says it! If I’d have been that reporter I’d have said, “Hmm, very good. I’m not putting that.” I’ll ask you again: “What do you think of Western civilization?” I told you, I think it would be a good idea. Alright, ok. I’m taking back your degree from London University. Oh, and your National Health specs. What do you think of it now, Mr Magoo? Sarky bastard…

He went to the same university as me, University College London. And I think it was there where I turned away from politics. Because I’d been interested all my life, particularly at 15, 16, 17… Becoming politicized, hanging out in the sixth form, discussing communism and stuff… And I’d do things, I used to sell Anti-Nazi League badges and collect for the miners, ’cause it was noisy, mainly. And I even had that poster of Che Guevara on my wall at home, to annoy my mum. It backfired. She thought it was Robert Lindsay. And then when I got to college, there were people better at that then me. Know what I mean, there were people that really meant it. And I was thinking, “Oh God, was I like that?” I’ll give you an example. I did Philosophy. And after a few weeks, you had to choose your options for the three years. Compulsory subjects were Logic and Greek Philosophy, and you had to choose about six others. And I chose Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, Morality. And there was a Marxism option. And I thought, that’d be great, I’ve always been interested in that. And it was only a small department, about 25 people. The tutors were all out and you had to queue up and take the thing you wanted. And I looked over at the queue for Marxism… And there were ten people in this queue. Three of them were wearing berets. And I thought, God, I can’t spend three years in a room with what I used to call at the time “cunts.”

The first bloke I sort of hooked up with was the opposite of that. He was this big, lumbering chemist called Pete Brown. And I think he was about the first person I met, and he lived literally opposite me in the corridor. Ifor Evans Hall in Camden. 18, like the rest of us, but the mind of a 55-year-old fascist cab driver. “Society was going to the dogs” and “God, the things I could do if I was in charge.” That sort of thing. And I remember there was an advert at the time… for Strongbow. And at the end of the advert, two arrows are fired from a longbow, and went: and split the wood on the bar. That gave him the horn, that advert. Because he used to imagine executing muggers and rapists like that. And it would come on and he’d go quiet, and he’d be watching it, like that. And then ad’s over and he’d go, “Ooh, that was in the head.” And he also used that to exorcise demons. Like, you’d walk along the street, and it was like the early ’80s. So if he saw someone coming the other way, like a bloke with long hair and make-up or something like that, he’d just watch him and he’d go: He’d be imagining killing him!
Once we were walking home from college and he used to go in every day and buy his Evening Standard. And it was a little kiosk I think it’s still there. It was like just two piles of Standards and a little old woman selling them. And he went in this particular day, bought his Standard, 10p, and the cover story that day was a big photograph of an old-age pensioner. And she’d been mugged and there was a picture of her, cuts and bruises. Awful story. And the old lady, just making conversation-she probably said it to everyone who came in that day-she went to Pete: “It’s awful, isn’t it?” And he went, “Yeah.” “Yeah, she’s 93. Scarred for life.” But you leave it, don’t you? Pete went, “Well, that’s not scarred for life then, is it?” She went, “What?” “You scar a baby for life, don’t you?” “If she lives till she’s 100, she’s only been scarred for 7% of her life.” He did the maths for her! Like this old woman’s meant to go, “Yeah, you’re right. Fuck her!”

But politics starts from an early age. You don’t need to go to college to be exposed to politics. I think it starts from year nought. It’s in little sayings and songs, nursery rhymes, fables. They’re charged with morality for kids. And I remember, I must have been as young as 6 or 7 ’cause it was infant school. And the first Monday of every month, the deputy headmaster used to do a fable at assembly. And it was his best day. Now, he used to make it last about a half an hour to forty minutes and he thought he was Peter Ustinov. And looking back, I think all the other teachers were going, “Look at that fucking wanker showing off for 6-year-olds.” He’d take his shoes off as well.
I’ll tell you one that he told, a fable. It was the fable of the two mice. The lazy mouse and the industrious mouse. All through the summer, there was lots of berries on the trees… The sun was shining, it was lovely and warm. The lazy mouse would be eating berries off the tree, taking a bite, throwing it away. There was loads. The industrious mouse… He’d have a berry, sure. But he’d eat it all and he’d save one as well. The lazy mouse: “Ah, forget that, I’ll just eat these berries.” Running around, ok. The industrious mouse says, “You know what, you should look forward to winter, ’cause those berries won’t…” “Oh fuck off, ya square!” I’ll adapt to it. So anyway, you get the picture. So all through the summer, he’s eating berries, he’s running around, sunbathing. The industrious mouse, he’s busy collecting berries, freeze-drying them, chopping wood with a little axe that he’s fashioned out of a twig and a tiny little sliver of flint. And he’s tied it on with a horsehair. Thus making it easier for him to stockpile wood for the much colder season. He hasn’t got a fire at the moment. He’s too hot, if anything. Just lying there… But come winter, burn the wood, make the fire. So… summer. So to cut a long story… I’m making it last longer than needed, for fuck’s sake. So autumn comes, same pattern. Lazy mouse, he’s just fucking about eating the last of the berries. The industrious mouse, he’s collecting the last of the berries. He’s got… too much wood, if you want my opinion. But it’s not gonna run out. The stuff at the back’s gotta be damp… Circulate it. Doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s doing his best. The lazy mouse, he’s just having a laugh, he’s loving it all, he’s just kicking through the leaves… Underneath the leaves. You can’t see him, ’cause he’s too small but you can see the leaves sort of move like that. You sorta go: “What’s that?” It’s just Lazy Mouse. You can’t, but that’s what happening. Don’t think it’s a ghost or something like that. If you could go in there, like with a really high-tech… you know like in Discovery Channel… You’d probably see the lazy mouse going: Winter comes. The ground is cold and hard. There’s no berries on the trees anymore. It’s freezing. The lazy mouse is out there, he’s scrabbling around, he can’t find anything. The industrious mouse is in his cottage that he’s built out of just odds and ends. Roaring twig fire. Pipe! Rocking chair. Or a pebble. Just a pebble. Sort of modern. Don’t they hibernate? This is bollocks, isn’t it? These mice didn’t, anyway. So he’s there and there’s a knock at the door. “Who’s that?” So he goes over to the little door. Tiny knob, obviously. “What do you want?” It’s obvious what he wants, isn’t it? And he goes, “Oh, well, it’s cold, and I’m hungry…” “Well… ” Definitely smokes now. “That’s not my porn mag.” Right? He goes: “Well I did warn you, didn’t I?” “Yeah…” “Never mind. Come on in and share with me.” Where’s the moral there? What is the moral of that tale? Fuck around, do what you want, then scrounge off a do-gooder! It’s a terrible lesson for kids! Most of the kids in my class kept that up.

He also told the one about the boy who cried wolf. A boy, looking after his sheep. Gets a bit bored. It is boring. Probably tired as well, ’cause if you’re counting ’em you’re probably getting a bit drowsy, aren’t you? Anyway. So, gets a bit boring. He’s got nothing to do here in… The Bible. Anyway, so… Long time ago. And he goes, um. It’s just a Monday, that’s the worst day. And he’s just bored, and he goes: “I know what, I’ll have a laugh.” And he goes: “Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!” And the villagers come out and go, “Where’s the wolf?” “No, no, there’s no wolf here.” “Oh, you fucking…” So next day: “That worked a treat, I’ll do that again.” He goes: “Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!” “Where’s the wolf this time?” Still no wolf. “Oh, you fucking…” Third day, there really is a wolf. And he goes, “Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!” But the villagers don’t come ’cause they don’t believe him. And we were told, the moral of that is, “Never tell a lie.” No it isn’t. The moral of that is never tell the same lie twice. A terrible lesson for kids.

Nursery rhymes… Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water Jack fell down and broke his crown. Which I later learned meant his cranium! I thought his hat fell off or something! and Jill came tumbling after. And that is a true fable of the time, I think of the 16th century, about two illicit lovers who used to go up to the hill, out of the sight of the villagers, and have it off behind their spouse’s back. What’s the moral there? Don’t fuck around with sluts or you get your head caved in?

I’ve never worked out what the moral of Humpty Dumpty is. I can only think of: Don’t sit on a wall if you’re an egg. How is that applicable to an 8-year-old human? You either go, well, what’s the moral there? “Don’t sit on a wall if you’re an egg.” What? Of course I wouldn’t. “If you’re an egg?” It’s not gonna happen, is it? Are there eggs reading that, going, “Oh, I was gonna jump up there, not now…” “Oh, God… Wait, don’t get on there if you’re en egg!” – “No, why not?” “Read that.” – “Fuck!”
Don’t send horses to perform medical procedures… Of course they couldn’t put him together again! It’s obvious. They haven’t got the dexterity. It’s obvious. I wouldn’t have sent them in the first place. An experiment… it’s not an experiment. They can’t… They can’t even scrub up. They haven’t got thumbs, let alone opposable thumbs. They couldn’t sew to save their life. If I had to design a perfect egg-crushing device… it would be a hoof. Doesn’t matter if they’re kings’ horses or Steptoe’s horse… All the king’s horses… Certainly don’t send all of them! It’s gonna be chaos! What if we had been invaded by France that day? Bloke comes running to the bloke in charge, goes: “You in charge of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men?” “Yeah.” – “Well the French are coming!” – “What?” “Where are all the king’s horses and all the king’s men?! The French are coming, quick, where are they?” – “The egg…” – “What?” “What?” “It’s, it’s, uh… the egg!” – “What are you talking about?” – “I sent them to mend an egg.” “Are you fucking mental? Are you mental?” “They can’t mend an egg!”
Also… I only know that he is an egg from pictorial evidence. And he is clearly an egg. An egg-thing. An egg with eyes. And other things. Trousers. But… that’s not mentioned in the whole thing. That would be the first thing I’d mention. Nevermind, I’d go: Once, right, there was an egg that could climb walls! Left that out! If… your surname is Dumpty, don’t call your firstborn Humpty! He’s already an egg. Like that’s not enough of a stigma! – “How’s the baby?” – “It’s an egg.” – “Just an egg.” – “Oh really, what are you going to call it?” – “Humpty Dumpty.” – “Well, don’t make it worse.” That is a wind-up there. Just call him Johnny or something. Just put a balaclava on him. The worst he’ll get is “Fatty Johnny.” Humpty Dumpty the egg? He’s gonna get the piss ripped out of him! He probably jumped off the wall.

So, what is politics? Politics is the art or science of governing. Governing people and governing society. What’s the best way to live, how do we live in harmony? That’s what we’re looking for. Democracy is the closest thing we’ve got to everyone sorta just chipping in. But even that’s got problems. Who gets the vote? Should everyone get the vote? Dangerous question.
The political philosopher Nietzsche said that not all people do deserve the vote and not all men are born equal. This was classically misinterpreted by Hitler, who went way too far with it. Imagine that: you’re a great scholar, Nietzsche, and you write that, and you get called to Hitler: – Alright, Nietzsche? – Alright, Adolf. – Yeah, just been reading your book. – You like it? Brilliant. Love all that, love all that… Man and superman, not everyone’s equal, kill all the Jews… Sorry? What? – Not everyone’s equal, kill all the Jews… – I didn’t… I didn’t write that. Yeah, I read between the lines. You’ve totally misinterpreted the whole point of it… – Yeah? – Yeah, definitely. It’s awful. It’s dreadful. Have you been killing… …Jewish people? What? Have you been killing Jewish people? How many have you killed? How many have I killed? – Six mill… – Six million! Yeah, I don’t want to go on about it, I’m not going to do any more. Leave it at six. Move on… Is it time for tea anyway? Yeah, but be careful in the future. I know. You writing any other books at the moment? – Well, I am but I’m scared to tell you about them. – No, I won’t do anything. What’s your new book called? My new book is called: “The Gyppos: Do We Need ‘Em?”

Not a traditional subject for comedy, the Holocaust. I’ll give you that. Probably why Spielberg didn’t put a laughter track on Schindler’s List. It would’ve ruined it. When Schindler’s List came out in American cinemas, they actually banned popcorn. That’s true. And I think that’s a great idea, but I think they should ban it in all films. I don’t want to go and watch a film with someone grazing next to me, you know what I mean? Obviously, I did it in that because of all the people that died in it. But what about all the people that died in Mad Max? Let’s keep it fair. And that was more recent. It was the future, so it was really recent. I think Schindler’s List is a fantastic film. And I didn’t watch it at the cinema actually. I got it out on video, about a year later-by mistake!- ’cause I’d never heard of it, and I was in Blockbuster, sorta late one night, and I was a bit drunk, and I thought it was a porn film. No, ’cause I saw 18 certificate, top shelf. I thought, oh, black and white. Dodgy home movie, you know? German sounding-they’re the best. And what swung it, it was that quote on the back from Barry Norman: “Have a box of Kleenex ready.” Rubbish. I used about two. There was a shower scene! Shut up! Lenny Henry, 30 quid! Fuck off!

This lecture, as you’ve worked out, is about political change. But how do you change things? Well, we’re not all in power by definition. Some of us haven’t even got the vote. But, if you’ve got a voice, and in our country we’ve got freedom of speech, you can change things. Slowly, but you can be heard. And that’s one way. I used to work at University of London union. And there wasn’t a day that went by where there wasn’t a march that started outside, or people giving out flyers and leaflets and stuff. And I always used to take them, to read them, because I wanted to know what people were giving up their time for.
And I remember one was a leaflet boycotting Nike and some other designer labels for using third-world sweatshops. Particularly China. And there was a frightening statistic on this leaflet, I’ll never forget. It said that the CEO of Nike has amassed 5.2 billion dollars and for a female worker in one of his sweatshops, in China, to earn that, she’d have to work 7 days a week, 8 hours a day, for 10,000 years. But they don’t want to! Lazy…
There’s another thing on there, it’s absolutely true. One of the supervisors in one of the sweatshops in China has been accused of sexually assaulting one of the female workers and he’d been… That’s not funny, is it? …and he was suspended, but fled the country before he’d come to trial. And the CEO of Nike was asked an awkward question about this at a press conference And he said, “No, he wasn’t sexually assaulting her.” “He was trying to wake her up and must have touched the wrong places.” What? That’s a bad excuse, innit? Touched the…? Mrs Chang… Mrs Chang… Just shout! Don’t touch her at all. Mrs Chang…

But I love bad excuses, when it’s sorta embarrassing, sort of heinous, things like that. A friend of mine I went to college with was a medical student, and when he did his degree, he did an internship or a junior doctorship at University College Hospital. And he was working nights, it was about 1:30 in the morning, and this guy came in, and he had a bottle of sauce stuck up his ass. As you do. Completely disappeared. He hadn’t left enough out, he hadn’t thought of the return journey. Even Hansel and Gretel sorta left breadcrumbs, didn’t they? He hadn’t thought it through. He was getting so into it, the whole bottle up there, then he couldn’t get any purchase… You know, tie a bit of string to it or something, just think ahead. Or… empty it out, fill it with concrete, put a broom handle in it, let that set, and then you’ve got the full length of the bottle, and a handle. But he hadn’t put as much thought into it as me… Amateur. And also, instead of going in there and saying: “Excuse me, mate.” “You’ve got a sauce bottle stuck up your ass.” “I know what I was doing, you know what I was doing…” “Get it out and I won’t do it again.” Instead of saying that, he went through this whole face-saving rigmarole of filling out an accident report, just making it worse for himself, and this is the excuse he gave. He said: “Well, what happened was…” This is a great excuse, right. He said, “I’d been shopping at Safeway” “and I came home with my shopping and I realized that I’d locked myself out of my house.” “So I put the shopping on the doorstep” “and I saw I’d left open a bedroom window.” “So I tried to climb up the drainpipe” “but as I was climbing the drainpipe, my belt broke” “and my trousers and pants” “fell down.” “I went to grab them, I lost my grip, and I fell and I landed on this bottle and it went straight up…” “And that’s what happened.” Ok, so, got it out for him. And when he left, they made an amendment to the accident report. My mate put, “This story would be somewhat more believable” “if Safeway sold their bottles of sauce with condoms already attached.” Oh, the condom. Fuck. He knows I’m lying… Why’d he put a condom on it, anyway? ‘Cause he was then gonna use it on his chips? But how mean is that? If you’re into… You know what I mean? Shoving condiments up your ass. Buy two! They’re only 79p! I guess, I don’t know… One for chips and one for asses! You know where you are! You don’t have to make bad excuses!

My favorite leaflet of all time… I bet some of you haven’t even got a favorite leaflet, have you? Sort it out. No, it really is… You’ll see why. And I kept it with me for about three months and showed it to everyone. It was a leaflet that came round the union, in about 1994, ’95. And it was a Terrence Higgins leaflet about safe sex. And it was aimed at the last demographic of gay men that weren’t taking HIV seriously enough. So it was very hard-hitting and seen, and it used really, sort of, colorful language to get the message across. And I remember it so well. The title of this flyer; you know it’s going to be a good leaflet when this is the title, this is the opening gambit. It was called: “You know, you don’t always have to have anal sex.” Thanks very much. Think of a couple of old-age pensioners just queueing for their flu jab. They’re just browsing, Reader’s Digest… What’s this one? “You know, you don’t always have to have anal sex.” See, I fucking told you! So, that was what it was called, right. And it was a ten-point plan of alternatives to… you know… that. So, #1. Always started the same as well. Always started with, “Why not?” Why not. Like, casual. Like a recipe or something: Why not throw in an onion? #1 was this: And it had these little diagrams, like little drawings like you get on safety things on planes. Anyway, #1. Ten-point plan. #1 was: Think of this as medical advice. #1 was: “Why not just wank each other off?” – I’ve got a new leaflet! – Oh, what’s it say? Why not just wank each other off? Ok. Casual. #2 #2 was great. Again, just a casual suggestion. #2 was: Always the same, “Why not…” #2: “Why not come on his back?” Why not? When is that? It’s so casual! Why not?! Imagine you queue up to see a GP… “The GP will see you now.” And he’s sorta waiting, “Come in, sit down. What can I do for you?” “I’m gay and I’m worried about HIV.” “Um… come on his back!” #3 Whenever I show this to people, when I got to this one, people were laughing and then they went, “Oh…” #3 is the worst one. #3 is: “Why not come in his hair?” Not the hair! On the back! Come on the back, sure. On you go, go on. Hurry up. Where are you fucking aiming that? Not on the hair! Fuck off! There! Fucking better not… I’m putting on a shower cap. #4 Oh, #4. I’ve not before, or since, heard such a great use of the term “e.g.” as in this next sentence. #4, I swear, was: “Why not come into a piece of fruit?” “e.g. watermelon.” What? Like if they put it out without that people are going, “Well, what fruit?” “Watermelon, thank you! I need to know what fruit!” I need to know exactly what fruit. I don’t want to get it wrong. I thought asses were alright, I was wrong there. I don’t wanna make… So watermelon, yeah? Good. #10, I’ll just tell you #10 because #10 might be the greatest sentence of all time. And I think the bloke writing it was under pressure from his boss. He’d done nine and his boss came and said, “How’s it going?” – Done nine. – We need ten. I can’t do ten! I’m struggling. I’m doing hair, I’m doing backs… We need ten. You’ve got till 5:30. And this is what he came up with. This is… #10, and I swear, right, was: “Why not both come out of a window?” Why? Ready? And it didn’t even say make sure it’s not a ground floor window! Morning! No, this is #70, #90’s there. I think they’re out.
And that leaflet… This is a confession, this is a confession… That leaflet must have affected me, and that was ten years ago. Last summer I was walking down Old Compton Street. It was about 10:00 at night and just before I got to Mamma Mia a pigeon shat on me. Obviously a pigeon. Then I went: What did I expect to see? Two going, “Got him!”

That is the best leaflet of all time, isn’t it? But a serious message. I think the last successful protest was to bring the gay age of consent down to 16. It’s what I was talking about earlier… It forces the hand of democracy, being heard, and there was millions of people in that march saying, “This is what we want. We want the law changed. And the government, it was 1997, they said, “Yeah, if that many people want it, that’s a referendum.” They changed the law and they brought the gay age of consent down to 16. I didn’t see many 16-year-olds on the march. It was mainly 42-year-old men with leather trousers, shaved grey hair, and backpacks, but… 16-year-olds are busy, doing homework or watching it on telly probably, going: “We’re gonna get buggered.” No mothers on the march. No 55-year-old women going: “What do we want?” “For our sons to get done up the ass!” “When do we want it?” “Well, soon, before they’re 17, please!” But I don’t think it matters who fights for your right to take it up the ass.

At this point I just want to make sure we’ve covered gays and nazis. Good. Ok, we can move on. Gays and nazis… But enough about the Conservative Party. Satire. They have had their fair share of sleaze, haven’t they, the Conservative Party? And not like… I mean, all parties get a little bit of sleaze, but it’s not like cool stuff, like Labour, like punching a farmer or having two Jags. Do you remember that Conservative MP, Stephen Milligan? Found dead with a noose ’round his neck, amyl nitrate-laced orange in his mouth, bag on his head, ladies’ tights. I’ll be honest: I think he was wanking. But again, freedom to do what you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone. I mean, he hurt himself, he went too far, accidentally strangling… You know, that is the problem with the old asphyxia-wank. You’ve gotta do it just right or you go too far and you actually die and then your wanking days are over. So, you know, if I was into that, wanking it to an inch of my life, wearing ladies’ tights and sucking oranges with a bag on me head, I’d have a close friend, I’d just say, listen: I love nearly killing myself whilst wanking, wearing all this stuff… If I actually get it wrong one day and accidentally kill myself, come ’round, leave the noose, and get rid of all that other stuff. Just say it was suicide. And how do they know they’re into all that? How do they first…? Was he getting ready one day, and he’s tying his tie, went a bit tight, went… Fucking hell! And when they do that and they nearly die, and they survive, then they’re swinging there when they finish and they get a glimpse of themselves in the mirror, do they ever go: What the fuck am I doing?

The first apocryphal tale or urban myth I ever heard was about masturbation. Not surprising, you hear those sort of things when you’re 14, 15. And that is a 14-year-old boy’s main pastime. And it was told to us by a guy called David Beasley. I talked about him on my “Animals” show. He’s the one that said: If you get captured by cannibals, they show you pornographic pictures so you get an erection and there’s more meat. And usually urban myths start with “A friend of mine,” right? Not this one. He said: “I was wanking the other day, lads.” Go on… He said, “I was on my bed at home” “and I was naked,” “and I had my eyes shut, and I was listening to music, I had my headphones on.” “And when I’d finished,” “I opened my eyes, and my mum had been in and left me some tea and biscuits.” David? Deaf… Oh dear. There’s my firstborn. Whacking away like a little monkey, isn’t he? Very proud of him, very proud… If he carries on like that, he’s gonna come! I better leave this, so he knows his mother saw him. Think of that! Your mother walking in on you furiously masturbating. The other way ’round is worse.

But we believed that at the time. I think he believed it. He told me another story which I have no reason not to believe. He said his brother was going for a job interview and he had to change trains at Crewe. And he was on the platform of the train and he shat himself. As you do. Just filled with diarrhea. And he thought, “Oh, for fuck’s…” And he had to make the interview. So he looked, he had ten minutes, before the train. And he looked close by, he saw a Millets. So he scrouched over to Millets and went in, and went, “Quick, mate. Levis, 36!” Got the bag, made the train, went straight to the toilet, locked himself in, opened the bag, took his trousers off, took his pants off, poked them out the window, cleaned himself up, flushed it all away, opened the bag: It was a jacket! And when he told us that, we were going: “Oh fuck, what would you do? What would you do?” And my mate, Bob, trying to be cool, went: Just cut the corners off the carrier bag. Are you gonna still make the interview then? Morning! Oh that? Shat myself! What’s the pension scheme like? – Made the interview? – Yeah, phew… Thank God for a carrier bag to hide my awful. Unbelievable.

There are more drastic forms of protest though than marching and leaflets. In 1963, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, as a protest against the Vietnam regime, went out into a public place set himself alight and burned to death. Did no good, ’cause that’s not a threat or a deterrent. If a little monk comes up to you and he goes, “You better stop all those things you’re doing.” “Otherwise I’m gonna set myself alight.” You’re going to set yourself alight? Fill your boots, mate. Then no one cared and I bet you don’t even know his name, do you? I do. I’ve looked it up. Absolutely true. His name was Thich Quang Duc. Or crispy duck, to his mates.
John Lennon, a less drastic form of protest against the Vietnam War: The famous sleep-in. He stayed in bed for a week with Yoko Ono, and that was it. And people were going, “Brilliant.” Genius, that’s excellent. I bet that little monk was fucking gutted! Hold on, what? Burn yourself to death or shag Yoko?

I love it when rock stars get involved, I absolutely love it. The political song: Look out, mate, he’s got a guitar! He’s saying what he thinks… in C. It’s ok when it’s people like, you know, Bob Dylan, but I love it when pop stars have a go. Do you remember Culture Club’s classic? They’d been singing “Karma Chamaleon” for too long and they came up with “The War Song.” And in that, they go: War, war is stupid And people are stupid How’s that gonna change your mind? I mean, if you’re into war, you’re loving war, you love it, it’s your favorite thing… I mean, you’re in a plane, you’re gonna bomb the shit out of a country, I can’t wait to get there, I love bombing people. Oh, nearly there. Put the radio on. War, war is stupid And people are stupid We’re going home.
Boy George there… He piled on the pounds when he gave up the smack, didn’t he? There’s a fable there, kids. Every action has a consequence.
Billy Joel, after singing things like “Uptown Girl,” he then revealed his classic, his protest song against the world. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” And in that song, he… it’s basically a list in chronological order from 1949 to 1989. And he just mentions six to eight things in each verse. I’ll just read it, he goes: Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray, South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe That’s not a song! That’s a conversation with Rain Man!

I think the first protest song that actually made a difference was, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” And particularly poignant to us in Britain because we used to own and run Africa. And then the end of the ’50s, they won independence, and slowly we started giving it back to Africa. By the end of the ’60s it was totally Africa-owned and Africa-ruled. Of course, in the ’80s we get a phone call… Thatcher answers. “Hello?” – Hello, it’s Africa. – What do you want? We’re all starving and that. Give me that phone! You should’ve thought of that before you wanted independence! Yeah, we didn’t know there was going to be a drought. Drought? I’ll give you a fucking drought…
In the long, hot summer of 1976 we had a hose pipe ban in Reading. My poor mum having to make loads of journeys with a bowl of water for the lawn, under the cover of darkness, with her back. We’ve all got fucking problems, mate. Drought… And there was a government advert at the time that said: “Save water. Have a bath with a friend.” Which I did. I say “a friend,” he was more a friend of my Granddad’s. Ten quid’s a lot to a kid in Reading. We used to call him Granddad Charlie actually. He wasn’t our Granddad, he was just an old bloke who used to live across the road from us and used to always come ’round to play with us whenever he saw our parents go out. What? Lovely old man. He used to play with us. He taught me to wrestle. And… what? Lovely old man. Lovely old man, old Granddad Charlie. And he used to do magic tricks. Oh, it was great. And he used to have a magic hat and he used to sit down and put the magic hat on his lap. And he’d show us there was nothing in it. There was nothing in it. And he’d put the magic hat on his lap, and we couldn’t tell our parents, ’cause it’d stop the magic. I think that’s how it works. We were only little. And we used to have to queue up with our eyes shut and all take turns in feeling the little rabbit in that hat. Whenever it got to me it was scared stiff, poor little thing. And it was always in a bad way, didn’t have any ears or any fur. Poor little thing. I made it sick once! It’s not true… There is no Granddad Charlie. I wasn’t abused. And if I was, I’d save it for my autobiography. That’s the way to do it.
So, anyway. Thatcher on the phone to Africa, goes: Look, I can’t come myself, but I’ll send you… …lead singer of the Boomtown Rats? He’s not doing anything. – They went, alright. – Yeah, don’t call again. See, the protest song about the greatest living African is The Special AKA’s “Free Nelson Mandela.” That’s what they said. They said, “Free Nelson Mandela,” and it worked, because like that, six years later he was out anyway, so… Incarcerated for a quarter of a century, Mandela. Released in 1990, so he’s been out about 14 years, now. And he hasn’t reoffended, so I think he’s going straight. Which shows you prison does work.

I came here to change attitudes tonight, and I think I’ve done that. I want to leave you with something now to show that knowledge is power. It’s a true story actually. We were talking earlier about third-world sweatshops, and they really are awful places. And there’s women and children that are abused, and they literally get a few pence an hour and it’s for big conglomerate companies to make billions of pounds. And I was shopping with a friend of mine a couple of years ago. His name is Rob, and he had a sudden death in the family and he had to get a suit for the funeral. And he was in a band, he was on the dole, he didn’t have a suit to his name. We went to these sort of cheap places in Oxford Street and one bloke said, “I’ve got a lovely suit. 29 pounds.” And I thought, what is this going to look like? I couldn’t wait for him to have to buy this suit. We went over to it, and it was alright! And I was gutted. It was a classic sorta dark suit, and it was nice. It had an electric blue, sort of satin lining. He was made up. So just to piss on his bonfire, I said, well, if it’s that cheap and it’s that well-made and it’s not on a sale, it means someone’s been exploited. He went, “What?” And I went, “Yeah, it’s awful. Women and children exploited…” You’d just be adding to the problem, right? And he didn’t buy it. And he went and sold a guitar, at the record and tape exchange, and bought a suit for 150 quid. And I felt bad, but then I thought: Well, I was probably right. They probably have used like really awful, cheap labor. And so, just by doing that, even though it’s one person’s little change, if everyone changes, then we can all, you know what I mean, make a difference. Still, 29 quid though… Thank you very much. Thank you.

Has everyone heard of Karl Pilkington? Yeah… He’s my producer, on my radio show. For those who haven’t heard of him, he’s a guy-talking about attitudes-he’s a man whose attitude hasn’t changed from about the age of 5. He’s from Manchester and you can ask him anything and he’s got an opinion on it. It’s usually rubbish but… Right. An example, ok. I tell him about how I’m doing this show. I said I’m doing a show called “Politics.” He went, “Why?” And you can’t answer it. And he said, “You wanna talk about that David Blunkett?” I went, “Why? What’s he doing?” He went, “Oh, he’s up to his old tricks again.” “He’s only gone and banned people having sex in public, hasn’t he?” And I went, “Well, yeah, but surely that’s a good thing, Karl.” And he went, “Yeah, but would he have done it if he could see?” It is a twisted logic.
We once-on air, this was-we were talking about blind dates, have you had a blind date. And halfway through, Karl just piped up and went, “I went on a blind date once.” – Really? – Oh yeah. – What’d you do? – Went for a drink and that. – Was she nice? – Yeah, she was really good, really fun. It was great. – Did you see her again? – No. – She had a problem with her marrow. – A what? – She had a problem with her marrow. – Her bone marrow? Oh. Yeah, she had a wasting disease. So I thought, what’s the point? On air! And so, flustered, I went, “Oh, Karl, if she’s listening you’re for it!” He went, “She’ll be dead by now.” Unbelievable.
I’ll just tell you one more before I go, one more. This was last year, during Wimbledon week. Again, on air, he said: Did you watch any of Wimbledon last night? I went, “No…” “They let some little wheelchair fellows have a go on Centre Court.” Little wheelchair fellows! No irony. And I went, “Alright, yeah. Any good?” “No, they were rubbish.” I went, “Why?” He went, “They couldn’t get a rally going.” And I went, “Well, Karl, to be fair, they’re in chairs, on grass…” He went, “Don’t put it on telly then.” And I… On air! And I went, “Oh wow. Everyone’s entitled to be, you know…” “Yeah, well let them do something they can do, then.” And I-foolishly-I went, “Like what?” And he said, “Swingball.”


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