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This programme contains some very strong language
The process of writing is you sit in a room and you fire ideas out.
They don't start as stories, they start as...
A Range Rover...
You can be either too funny or you don't feel you're giving
Ah! Holy shit.
It's nice but not necessary if there's a point.
But Mrs Thatcher...
That's a license for comedy not to be funny.
In Britain if you don't like a comic you heckle them.
In the Middle East we hang them.
I invent almost nothing, I embroider...
What's that star? It's the death star.
What does it do? It does death!
It's all stuff they can grab hold of.
I have a flight tomorrow I have to get up at four.
I'm 22 years old, I still live with my parents.
The best comics will be able to take you on a journey,
tell you something interesting, make you think.
In a way for me it was discovering I had almost nothing to say.
You wanted to go out, you felt like going out, and now you've done it.
We might not be as verbally smart as they are...
But you have to go back.
But our tradition is important.
Steve, what is comedy?
I'm loving being a part of this, this idea of elevating comedy to the status of art.
Comedy is the ability to make people laugh without making them puke.
What about the writing? Where do you get your material?
Where do I get my crazy ideas?
Where do you tend to draw your material from?
Do you actually write it down?
I'm at the beginning of the process of writing a new
show which is the hardest part.
People always think that the hard part is standing on stage
because they can't imagine doing it themselves.
That's fine, we're show-offs.
I open my eyes as much as possible. I'm looking at everything.
I start going, "Oh, shoes..." and any possible rubbish
observation about floor boards or ceilings or anything.
Ah, he's wearing glasses, I wonder if there were three lenses
on glasses... It doesn't make any sense.
Pylons, why are they that shape?
Next door's wind chimes.
They're that shape cos it's structurally sound!
I found a big thing on material is the day before stuff happened.
Like at the moment I'm doing the Stone Age and the day before
the Stone Age when someone trips over a stone and goes "For fuck's sake!"
Things happen to you in your life, bad things sometimes, and you're
not thinking like a human being, you're suddenly thinking
like a comic, what angle could I approach this from?
I had no sense of inhibition about my private life,
in fact that would be what I would mine entirely.
My husband and I split up and I did jokes on Live At The Apollo.
I remember I just liked the idea of an Indian bingo caller.
Changing a light bulb.
Import, export, cash and carry, send by truck or send by ferry,
our chart, send it by freight 88.
And you do that for a couple of months hopefully enough bare bones things appear.
88. Then it had a bit more, "88."
You are just spending every waking hour with,
viewing everything in a skewed way.
It's just finding your voice and finding what it is
that you want to say, or don't want to say, and in a way, for me,
it was discovering I had almost nothing to say.
I long to be on my own in a house sometimes.
It's just ruined by little domestic things that you have to do.
The washing machine finishes,
I don't empty it, to be honest. I just switch it on again. Fuck it.
Often, it's somewhat dismissed as "Oh, it's observational comedy"
but when it's done well I think it's very exciting.
If you watch it for 15 minutes, stock still. Nothing.
Then you go to open it, it goes, wwwooooo!
Things used to be quite simple, like buying a shampoo.
Do you remember you used to be able to go into a shop,
"Excuse me, can I have a shampoo?"
They don't start as stories, they start as...
as little observations.
You go into Boots the chemist, there's about five lanes of shampoo,
All different colours, things you never heard of in your life.
Whatever happened to soap?
I says, "What's jojoba?"
In Glasgow, that's the month before November.
I've always equated it to surfing, the kind of wave comes
but I'm not listening to it, I'm not glorifying in it,
let it wash over me, I'm listening to the sort of timbre of it.
When it gets to a certain point I step onto it.
"What kind of hair is it for?" I said, "pubic hair."
Find that in your fancy labels, you bastard.
Because they're talking to you,
they're actually saying, "Oh, that was very good."
And before they get the word good out - shhhhwt.
Do you know what's always intrigued me?
The way pubic hair only grows to a certain length and then stops.
I think it would be brilliant, you know, if your pubic hair
just kept growing,
right out the legs of your trousers.
And it starts to take shape
and then it becomes a completely different thing than it started out.
And you could brush it, you could you could brush it,
a hundred strokes a night.
And when Billy Connolly is there showing you doing his, you know,
his routine, his grooming with the jojoba shampoo,
you're there with him. You're in a room with 3,500 people
but everybody is in the same place.
You could back-comb it.
When I think of Billy Connolly's shows,
it's like when BBC1 shows all it's programmes again
with the deaf woman standing next to it. It's like that.
He's the woman in the corner telling the story,
but I can see the stories that he's telling.
That's what I remember about those routines.
-'That's amazingly powerful.'
There's a lesson for us all there, don't squander your money
on hair conditioners, wear underpants on your head.
Don't you think?
Ladies and gentleman, Jerry Seinfeld.
He was one of the first people to talk about normal life
in a way that sort, that took it away from very ordinary
observational comedy and into something kind of modern.
That there was a sort of modernity and an urban-ness, I guess -
a New York sophisticated urban-ness, the way he talked about life.
I love to travel, I love it whether it's a car
or a plane, I like to get out there, I like to keep it moving.
I love airports, I feel safe in airports,
thanks to the high-calibre individuals we have working at X-ray security.
How about this crack squad of savvy motivated personnel?
The way you want to set up your airport security is you want
the short heavy set woman at the front with the skin tight uniform.
That's your first line of defence.
You want those pants so tight the flap in front of the zipper has pulled itself open,
you can see the metal tangs hanging on for dear life.
When Jerry Seinfeld spends a lot of time thinking and focusing on a very
small thing, he's saying this is the art of the inconsequential.
That is both funny and in it is the seeds of comedy's own downfall,
you are both doing something brilliant and sort of saying
and that's why I won't win any awards and be considered
as important as Beethoven.
-No, but I will be a multi-multi millionaire. Not bad.
-Yeah, that's true!
The Olympics is really my favourite sporting event.
Although I think I have a problem with that silver medal.
I think if I was an Olympic athlete I would rather come in last
than win the silver, if you think about it.
You know you win the gold, you feel good.
You win the bronze you think, well, at least I got something.
But you win that silver, that's like congratulations you almost won.
Of all the losers, you came in first of that group.
You're the number one loser.
When people begin to write comedy
a lot of the time they mistake that, the idea of the comicality of it,
so what they do is they think what is in the community chest of shared knowledge
that I can sort of tap into?
When I was just started, people might talk about say
train-spotters wearing anoraks as a kind of cliche.
Whereas in fact what you should do is find something idiosyncratic
about your own life and you put it in the dark and then you hope that people know about it.
Michael McIntyre, he was talking about asking for directions.
You have certain times when you're allowed to talk to people you don't know.
The time is one, directions is another one, you can ask anyone directions.
Now critics of Michael McIntyre will say that's why he's a generic
comedian who deals with ordinary stuff.
But he'd done quite a bit about asking for directions
and then he got microscopic.
Sometimes you don't need all the directions, you know quite a lot of the directions.
For example, you know that where you need to be is over there.
You just don't know where over there it is.
So you call upon a stranger to help you.
But then you'll say "Do you know the way?"
And they immediately go, "Ah you want to go down there."
And as soon as they've started talking you think this man knows nothing.
I'm wasting my time with this person.
But you can't stop him, you can't just go you're wrong,
cos that's that makes you look like a weirdo.
You can't go, "No, it isn't."
Like I've just decided to quiz you on geography!
A-ahh, you don't know where you are!
You have to listen to them to tell you the whole thing
and not only that when they finish you have to walk the wrong way!
You can't have someone go, "You want to go straight down there" and go, "Thank you so much."
It's brilliant observation but it's also someone who's
clearly thought asking for directions, I'm going to find
the sort of deep specifics, I'm going go to the deep space of asking for directions
until I find something so complicated and baroque
about what you get into that it'll be really funny and new.
And that is where that observation becomes a brilliant art form.
Eddie is a natural comedian because he understands
the juxtaposition of reality and craziness.
He understands humour.
There's gotta be some reality against some flight of fantasy.
The Death Star's almost like a New York name,
the Death Star, get to the point.
What's that star? It's the death star. What does it do? It does death!
It does death, buddy. Get outta my way!
You with your centilitres and your millilitres
and your fucking combine harvesters.
I used to hitch up from London to Sheffield Uni for about three
or four years and it was getting off at service stations,
or being dropped off service stations and it was
Darth Vader probably at Leicester Forest East service station.
There must have been a Death Star canteen.
There must have been a cafeteria downstairs in between battles
where Darth Vader could just chill and go down, "I will have the Penne Alla Arrabiata."
- "You'll need a tray." - "Do you know who I am?"
The first stand up I got into was Eddie Izzard, I remember
saving up for his VHS tapes.
"I can kill you with a single thought."
"Well, you'll still need a tray."
"No, I will not need a tray, I do not need a tray to kill you."
And I was really intrigued by how he was making what he was saying,
I didn't know why it was funny and I just felt like I needed to figure it out.
Because he was so unique and so original.
"I can kill you without a tray, with the power of the force which is strong within me.
"Even though I could kill you with a tray if I so wished
"for I would hack at your neck with the thin bit
"until the blood flowed upon the canteen floor."
"The food is hot, you'll need a tray to put the food on."
"Oh, see the food is hot, I'm sorry I did not realise."
I transcribed a couple of the tapes just to figure out what he was
doing cos it just seemed so, it wasn't like set up punch,
it was like what's he doing, I still don't know really,
I'd underline words and go, well, is that the rule of three?
It should be establish, reaffirm and you kill it on the third.
But you can do it on the fourth. "He was tall, he was handsome, he was an idiot."
"He was tall, he was handsome, he was splendid, he was an idiot."
"He was tall, he was handsome, he was splendid,
"he could play football, he was an idiot."
You can you can do it to five, I think you do it to si...
After a while people might get bored
but you can keep reaffirming before you twist.
I am Lord Vader, everyone challenges me to a fight to the death.
Lord Vader, Darth Vader, I'm Darth Vader, Lord Vader, Sir Lord Vader,
Sir Lord Dark Vader, Lord Darth, Sir Lord, Lord Vader of Cheam,
Sir Lord Baron von Vaderham, the Death Star, I run the death star.
"What's the Death Star?" This is the Death Star, you're in the death star, I run this star.
This is a star? This is a fucking star, I run it, I'm your boss.
"You're Mr Stevens?"
No, I'm... Who is Mr Stevens?
"He's head of catering." I'm not head of catering.
I am Vader, I can kill catering with a thought.
I can kill you all, I can kill me with a thought just fu...
I'll get a tray, fuck it.
My scientific theory, you have a theory
and then see if you can prove it.
Humour is human, it's not national, there is no French sense of humour,
there's no British sense of humour, no American
no Australian, no Indian sense of humour.
It can quite easily be proven.
Is the British sense of humour is it Python or is it Jim Davidson?
You tell me.
Well, exactly. There's obviously a few different senses of humour
and I'm putting my money where my mouth is doing gigs in French.
It all leads round to I thought I should do it in French,
I should do it in German, which I did at school.
I want to do Russian, Arabic cos I was born in an Arabic country,
Spanish, Mandarin's right at the end of the list.
I don't know if I'll get to all of them but I hopefully will.
HE SPEAKS IN BROKEN FRENCH
For fuck's sake!
I can see why the French would like the show anyway because...
There's a lot of philosophy in what you do.
Yeah, it's a humanists' kind of show.
So you were on the street before you were in the clubs?
-Yeah, five years on the street.
Yeah, four and a half, five years. That gives me...that gives me a huge edge.
I thought it looked really easy. Wonderful - you stand on a street,
you do stuff, everyone laughs and laughs, they give you cash.
If you stay back there, we're going to do the show here.
It's very hard to hold their attention
because they can do anything - there's no walls, they didn't pay.
They pay at the end if they pay and so you have to do stuff.
Say, "We're going to kill this kid", and then they laugh.
The idea of killing the kid - it's like Tom and Jerry. You can
threaten massive violence and they just laugh their socks off.
It's a really odd thing.
I ended up getting up on a huge unicycle
and trying to escape from a pair of manacles.
My name is Eddie Izzard.
It's a rather strange name - it's got two Zs in it.
-Are you ready?
-I certainly am, old chap.
-Are you steady?
-This is an enormous build-up, isn't it?
-Five, four, three, two, one!
I'd been in the comedy clubs and the stand-ups were revered
and speciality acts like us were treated like, oh, you're just
the idiot who's coming on in between the people with the words.
I just thought, I've got to be on that side of the fence.
You really do believe that comedy is universal, do you?
That we can find a way of communicating with everyone?
I'm really trying to formulate my philosophy on life,
my attitude towards life. So, melting pot? Great.
I think that's a positive idea. I think that's the future for us.
I think Europe should be a massive Manhattan.
The world should be a massive Manhattan -
the idea of everyone working together, different languages, different skills.
It should touch, get through to progressive audiences
all around the world. They're out there and I can go and find them.
Can I tell you guys jokes? Can I tell you jokes today, sir?
-These are good jokes. Can I tell you jokes today, miss? OK.
America invented stand-up, you know? stand-up and jazz are the two
great American art forms of the 20th century.
Can I tell you guys jokes today? All right.
American is the mother tongue of stand-up comedy for me, you know?
And my...favourite, favourite comedians
are from the American tradition.
-I'll do two jokes for 50 cents.
-Have you got any 25 cent jokes?
-I'll do one joke for 25 cents.
-How about 12 cents?
I won't tell you any jokes for 12 cents.
-You can't tell me a joke for 12 cents?
Office workers are always doing stand- up bits
at their Christmas parties.
It's very much part of their... cultural upbringing.
Can I tell you jokes today, miss? Yeah? Come on over.
Did you see the Royal couple's visiting a rodeo when they come to the US?
-They don't care about the show.
They've just never seen poor people in real life.
It's not a collaborative art, it's very individualistic
and I think that's also why it's a very popular American form.
The writer and the performer are the same person
and there's no interference. It's all yours and you stand or you fall on it.
It sort of has a little bit of that cowboy spirit in it, too.
The advantage of New York City is that there is
a lot of opportunity for stage time and no comedian can become a comedian
without access to those precious minutes on stage.
The comedians that come out of New York, there's a style, for sure.
You gotta deliver, you know?
You can't mess around too much here.
It's always innovative, it's always moving forward,
it's a little more aggressive.
-What's your name?
I hate the first spot. It's awful. It's the sacrificial lamb.
I spent a little bit too much time at Starbucks over the last
five hours and it's... it's fun over there.
It's fun. Like when you give your order
and sometimes they ask for your name.
This morning, I gave them my Hebrew name.
I was like," I'll have a decaff latte." "Sure, can I get your name?"
"Yeah, Elazar Yaakov Ben Shlomo."
She's like, "Erm, do you have a nickname or something?"
"Well, my friends call me Jew bastard."
"I'm not writing that on the cup, sir."
"All right, fine. Then you could use my American Indian name,
"Puts Nothing In Tip Jar."
A minute later, I hear, "One decaff latte for a Jew bastard."
I love the notion of writing a joke and then going up
and telling it and it's just that immediate boom, boom, no notes
from idiot network people and it was just like...there's nothing like it!
Every accent has a weird relationship to one letter.
Like the Russians, the Russian accent, that's the letter Y.
They take the letter Y and they put it between every other letter.
Take any sentence, like, "This traffic is unbelievable."
It'd be like, "This traffyic is unybelievyable!
"I canynot beliyeve yit!
"We've beeyn sitting here for fifteyen minyutes."
The Israeli accent, they take Ms
and put it not between every other letter between every other word.
"M want M to M go M to M get M and M..."
What do you want, a bag of M and Ms? What the hell are you talking about?
Comedy, to me, feels like playing hooky from school.
You just...you can be funny. You can be the funny guy,
the thing that's different from all the straight stuff that's going on.
I've got my wife, I've got two little girls and two girl cats and me.
Just like I dreamed of when I was a little boy.
I used to sit alone at night and think to myself, I can't wait till
I get rid of all my friends and just move into a house filled with girls.
Just a home filled with emotion and eye-flashing mood tantrums
and a hatred of everything I enjoy.
It all comes from me and, you know, my life. So every time...
every place that I am and everything that I'm going through,
it kind of reflects that, you know?
Now I'm in the middle of being a new parent and living in New York City.
It's scary when they have nightmares.
They come in in the middle of the night and stand at the foot of my bed.
That's terrifying. They want comforting things
from their father, like, "You'll be OK, honey."
But when you get woken up out of a dead sleep by a tiny,
screaming, crying, shadow person,
your reaction is more like, "What are you?!"
When you watch a really good comic and he's just being...
It seems like he's just telling a story, he's being natural and...
There's jokes in there. There's jokes in all of it.
Now she has two reasons to be afraid.
One, whatever weird dreams she had and now the giant man in his underpants
pinning her to the ground. "Leave my family alone!"
Everything comes from stand-up. Being a comedian is
almost like getting your Bachelor's degree. You can do anything else.
People become writers.
I've spent the past two years looking for my ex-girlfriend's killer.
But no-one will do it.
My girlfriend now is great.
My girlfriend now is awesome.
If I had to nitpick, I'd say sometimes she's, like, a little bit too sensitive.
Like the other day, she got her hair cut.
Got two inches trimmed off of her hair
and then came home and cried about it for two hours.
Over a haircut. I couldn't believe it.
Finally, I went to her. I said, "Baby, what are you so upset about?
"It's just a haircut.
"I'm the one that's got to find a new girlfriend.
I will work, you know, for months to find a joke about breast cancer.
Something that I can make people laugh at that's the worst thing imaginable.
That's the challenge. That's when you get that great tension
when the laugh is just this guttural... You don't want to laugh at it
but you have to.
Did you guys have a good father's day last weekend? I enjoyed it.
My...my dad's been having a hard time lately.
Keeps on losing his keys, you know?
Literally can't hang on to a set of car keys to save his life.
And he's tried everything, too.
Little hook next to the door, little bowl next to his bed,
one of those key chains, makes a noise when you whistle.
So finally this year, for father's day, the whole family
chipped in and we put him in a home.
When they killed Bin Laden, they found porn on his computers.
And I'm dying to know what he was watching.
Cos I have to know if Bin Laden and I
had any cross-over titles, which would either make me
really creepy or him a little cooler than I thought he was.
He was in that shitty apartment, he had no air conditioning,
no cell phone, no internet connection, three wives,
23 children. You know who called the SEALs?
He did. Yeah, I know where Bin Laden is.
He's looking into a mirror crying again.
He's got three PMS-ing women at the same time.
I'll give you the exact address. Just promise to shoot
wife number two first.
It's cathartic, in a way.
You know, I think comedians,
they're kinda like dialysis machines in a way for the culture, you know?
All of this stuff comes into them and they process it and they clean it up.
And it's going through their system and it comes out. The blood
is clean, it's better, it's stronger and healthier but it's theirs.
It's funny - you can really tell
what a society thinks about the race issue based on their census.
So, look - this is the UK census. This is one of the first questions it keys in.
How would you describe your national identity?
English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, British, Other.
Well, first of all, this is just different types of white people.
Most of the planet is Other. What are you saying, UK?
This basically says, please be white, for the love of God
and country, please be white.
The Queen would prefer it.
People call me political.
I certainly see agenda-based comedy, which I feel like is what
I really think of it as. Comedy that has a agenda, has a point
and wants you to think differently once you leave.
You don't believe me? Look at the next question. Please be white.
English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, British, Irish, Gypsy
or Irish traveller, any other white background, please be white.
You don't believe me? Here's the next question.
Are you at least mixed with white?
It would be the nice thing to do,
just be mixed with a little bit of white.
Are you Asian? Black?
This is my favourite - are you other or Arab? Ah!
Come on, UK! As obsessed as you are with Arab people, you stick them
in the Other under Other category.
That's fucking rude.
And I think America certainly has a proud tradition of that,
going back to Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, through George Carlin, so I think that
there is a strong through line of that in American comedy.
Mort Sahl was a standard-bearer. He was...
He carried the political banner and it was fearless,
and would actually assail the President, which had a lot...
Very nervy, because I figured, well, the FBI will be camping on
his door for the next 23 years, you know?
When he was elected, President Kennedy, he didn't promise
us an easy road and he said he's going to demand a lot of us.
We didn't always know what he meant, you know?
But he's usually ahead of us.
For instance, he knew that it would take a week to go to the moon
and come back with a five-man crew.
Four men and a competitive woman. So...
The audience back then didn't know what stand-up comedy was either.
They were really sort of letting the performers do whatever they did
and not judging it by laughs per minute or by how many
drinks were sold at the bar. Like, they were just sort of, like,
they were sort of witnessing it.
They weren't coming from the tradition of stand-up as it currently existed.
Lenny Bruce was one of the ones who actually made that transition.
He had been a jokey-joke teller
and was not getting any success or really having any fun doing that
and he stepped over into the Mort Sahl tradition of, like, I'm a person
in the world who sees things. It becomes more personal,
because you're really talking about your specific perspective in your life.
Are there any niggers here tonight? What did he say?
Are there any niggers here tonight?
Jesus Christ, he had to get that low for laughs?
They told us what was heart-breaking
and what was heart-breakingly funny out of life, you know?
So it's a whole school of comedy, you know? The truth.
There's two nigger customers,
and, uh... But between those three niggers sits one kyke.
Phew! Thank God for the kyke.
That's two kykes and three niggers and one spic. One spic. Two, three spics.
One mick. One mick, one spic, one hic, fic, funky spunky boogey.
They set us free. They were like Elvis - they set you free.
They do a thing, that da-da-da-da-dun. You go, oh!
It was a religious experience, that comedy had turned a corner,
and it would never come back on the straight road again.
He was almost not a comedian, Lenny Bruce, wasn't he, you know?
He was like a lecturer.
I liked it when he said, "The world's sick and I'm the doctor."
And there was a lovely album sleeve of him
having a picnic in a graveyard.
I always thought, "God I wish I was as brave as that".
Just the photograph, never mind, you hadn't heard a word of the album yet
but there he was in the graveyard with his sandwiches.
Ladies and gentleman, here is the very shocking comedian,
the most shocking comedian of our time,
a young man who is sky rocketing to fame, Lenny Bruce here he is.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Will Elizabeth Taylor become Bar Mitzvahed?
No I promise continuity. I'll behave myself.
He was brave. Just to tackle religion in those days you
know in the late 40s and 50s that was very brave and I was
in San Francisco once and saw him and he was wonderful.
He said people, they wear a cross around their neck,
if it was a little later in society instead of the Romans,
then Christ was... He said, I wonder if Christ was electrocuted?
So on all these pointy buildings would there be an electric chair, would people
feel comfortable wearing a little electric chair round their neck?
I mean that's the kind of wonderful delicious mind that Lenny Bruce had.
You ever hate people so much you wish you had herpes just to give it to 'em?
I adopted a five year old Chinese girl -
yeah I needed help with my iPhone.
Who invited all these bad bitches to this wedding?
Huh? Oh I do.
In the 70s in LA there was a comedy explosion, The Comedy Store
was the place to be, people like Jim Carrey, Robin Williams
and then Richard Pryor hit the scene and they were explosive individuals
who had no place to go with their bodies and their minds. That was it.
Please welcome Mr Jim Carrey.
I'm really thrilled to be here
because The Comedy Store is very special to me.
When I was a teenager I used to watch people like Richard Pryor
and Robin Williams on television and think, "I can do that".
But to actually come here and meet these people is amazing you know.
I got a lawyer, first week the motherfucker brought me
a bill for 40,000. I said, "Motherfucker I just met you!"
And lawyers they don't get upset, right.
"God damn it! Why...?"
"Don't worry, everything will be alright."
"No but I want to know why you...?"
"Take it easy."
And you leave there feeling there feeling like a asshole.
You've been going, "What the fuck am I yelling about - they calm.
"I'm just facing 47 years."
The big lesson of Richard Pryor that he really taught us
was how to be vulnerable on stage. I don't think many comics have picked that up
cos I think that's really scary.
Also 99.9 % of people don't have any kind of biography that Richard Pryor has,
nothing close to... I mean not that he was lucky to be raised in
a whore house, I'm not saying that, but certainly that created a lot
of material for him to bounce off of from stand-up comedy you know.
It's nice to have pride about your shit.
I went home to the motherland and everybody should go home to
Africa, everybody, especially black people.
Really, man, there is so much to see there for the eye and the heart of the black people,
cos white people you go there and you get ideas,
"That's the way "the black people in America should be, walking about with sticks."
'He is able to speak the truth on stage in a way that'
I haven't seen anyone else do. Real innermost thought stuff
and such utter compassion.
One thing I got of out of it was magic.
I like to share with you. I was leaving
and I was sitting in a hotel and a voice said to me,
"Look around, what do you see?"
And I said I see all colours of people doing everything.
And a voice said, "Do you see any niggers?" And I said, "No".
And he said, "You know why? Cos there aren't any." And it hit me
like a shot, man. I started crying and shit, I was sitting there.
I said, "Yeah, I've been here three weeks, I haven't even said it, I haven't even thought it."
And it made me say. "Oh my God, I been wrong. I been wrong, I got
"to regroup my shit". I say "I ain't never call another black man nigger".
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
'The fact that he had the self awareness and the thought to experience that'
and then want to share that experience, that to me makes such a
valuable comic. Someone who's curious about bettering themselves
and learning something about themselves and is able to impart
that knowledge to other people is really quite an art form.
Does it have to get a laugh?
If you're Richard Pryor, not necessarily.
Next guest is making his first appearance
on the Tonight Show. He's worked a lot of clubs in New York Los Angeles.
Welcome him please - Jerry Seinfeld.
In the 70s, the early 80s Johnny Carson was the place to be.
If you weren't on the show you couldn't get any exposure.
On the other hand if you were you could break any act
and it would be the most amazing experience for your career.
Any drugs? Bingo you got me!
'If Carson liked you you could tell. The camera would cut to him.'
Jerry Seinfeld, thank you, Jerry, take a bow.
'If Johnny endorsed you that meant that the agenting community
'and the producing community knew - we watch the show, we were there
'and we noticed and there'd be a bit of a hustle around those people.'
Would you welcome please, Louie Anderson... Ellen Degeneres...
Gary is from Tucson Arizona.
Will you welcome Rich Hall?
'If they were smart they had a manager at that time,'
but some of them didn't, they were just raw.
She's a housewife from Denver Colorado who started appearing
in a local nightclub called the Comedy Works in Denver about
three or four years ago and she moved out here to Hollywood where
she's been working at The Comedy Store and this is her very first
appearance on national television. Would you welcome Roseanne Barr?
So I'm fat, I thought I'd point that out.
Roseanne was a stand-up, not terribly successful at that point,
about to break. This is where you want 'em it's like the wave.
Women we lie to men all the time you know. It's not that we mean to
to or anything, it's just that it takes too long to explain the truth.
'And she was funny, she was like a domestic goddess,
'that was her character.'
Yeah so it's like, "Oh you're the best lover
"I ever had. It's never been like this. Stop stop you're killing me(!)"
There were two things missing in American television.
There hadn't been a female lead since Mary Tyler Moore in the 70s,
not one, so ten years go by and there's not a female
lead for ten years and then there were also no working class people.
'She came along just at the right time.
'She wasn't an actress but she did have something to say.
I works every single God damn day."
'You can hear that as a sort of a monologue in everybody's head
'so the laughter of recognisability was ours for the taking.
What's the point here Roseanne?
There is no point OK? No point!
The point is you think this is a magic kingdom
-where you just sit up here on your throne.
Yeah. And you think everything gets done by some wonderful wizard.
Oh, the laundry's folded, the dinner's on the table.
You want me to fix dinner? I'll fix dinner, I'm fixing dinner!
Oh, honey you just fixed dinner three years ago(!)
That's what stand-up does I think as well.
It makes people who would have been the side character
centre stage. And so Roseanne it's Roseanne, or the Cosby Show,
Bill Cosby isn't just the black guy on a show, he's Bill Cosby,
and so it puts people, or it can, if you take that opportunity
and you're really funny, you can be the centre of
a world where you would have been a side person.
Just tell me you're joking, aren't you joking?
Shh, just stop talking.
He's probably just joking. Is he? Does he want a banana maybe?
Mum sit down hovering all the time.
Mm, fine. I mustn't hover.
He says he's quitting his show.
I'm so tired, I don't enjoy it anymore.
But my Kalooki group. That's all we talk about.
I just feel like it's become a really mean show. I dunno who I am.
You're a presenter who takes the piss out of people, hello!
People congratulate me for being mean.
You're not mean. You're cheeky. People love it.
-It's not very Buddhist.
You're not a Buddhist, you're a cheeky TV presenter.
At first I thought it was me about two years ago,
so I could have a distance, and I'd think that guy was
an idiot and I now have a level of self awareness. I've realised since
that I'm still the same idiot. It's me but I'm not a stand-up comedian
in the sitcom. What is very truthful is that it's all coming
from very real emotion and it's coming from very truthful feelings.
So part of the thing was learning about compassion.
Oh we're still talking about this.
-This is the thing now. Are you ready?
I forgive you for the divorce.
What? What are you forgiving me for?
-It wasn't your fault.
-I know it wasn't.
OK, and also I'd like you to forgive me for all the anger and resentment that I've been holding onto.
You don't resent me. You'd better not resent me.
But you were just stupid kids.
-Right is that it? Fine.
-No where are you going?
And you know it wasn't your fault don't you?
-It was your bastard father's fault.
Was it though?
Yes! I didn't go running off to Scotland every weekend to go canoeing with a slut did I?
-OK, but we're all human.
-No we're not.
No? Nobody wants to be the bad guy. Nobody thinks that they're the baddie.
-Why do you think he was like that?
-Oh I don't know, maybe he just liked rowing.
'It comes from years of arguments and debate and problems'
and detachment. It's coming from a very real place although
there's a fictional... We're creating fictional stories.
You realise your tax disc expired two days ago, sir?
Did it yeah, I was going to sort that out this afternoon.
No you didn't understand me. Your tax disc expired two days ago.
You're committing an offence by having this vehicle on the road.
I've always seen Rick, the character of Rick, in Lead Balloon
as a kind of "what if" version of myself
and someone who lives with permanent disappointment
and permanent hope that things will get better
and this sort of chronic cycle of huge optimism which is
constantly being dashed as soon as everything goes wrong for him again.
Get back to the matter.
No come on what exactly is it you do?
I provide back up for police officers in situations...
Admit it, you wanted to be a policeman didn't you?
With the blue lashing light and the ne-naw siren.
# Ne-naw, ne-naw, ne-naw, ne-naw. #
Sir I would advise you to...
Tell you what, why don't you just potter off back
to the fancy dress shop and ask for a refund or change it for a wizard's costume
so people take you a bit more seriously?
Can we please get back to the matter of your car tax please, sir?
No. I don't want to. Now what are you going to do?
VOICE ON POLICE RADIO
'It sort of became much more about someone else in the end.'
But there's a confessional thing in there that there's in Rick
there's is a character who actually, when push
comes to shove he's actually not very talented and I suppose that's a
fear that that everyone lives with. I certainly live with that fear.
Oh we have a comedian in our midst.
Let me ask you what do you do for a living?
I am a comedian.
Very funny, but joking aside what's your line of work?
No that's what I do, I am a comedian.
Listen sunshine. We can do this the fun way or I can make your day with me a misery.
So what do you do for a job of work?
I'm a sales rep. I sell biscuits.
Mm, that's better. So when you're driving around selling your biscuits...
I rarely remember a moment when stand-up both on TV and out there in
all kinds of venues, large and small, has been as popular as it is today.
No it's huge. There's never been a time like this.
There was a point in the late 80s when Friday Night Live,
Saturday Night Live were happening that it seemed
it was incredibly exciting and fashionable, but it never...
It didn't become the enormous thing that it is now.
It's the way that we treat stand-up. Live At The Apollo,
which is a fantastic show, came along and just made it look like the
most exciting thing you could go and see.
-They didn't try and make it look like rock and roll.
-They tried to make it look like showbiz.
'People with names in lights behind them and
'a huge crowd and enormous swooping crane shots at the at the beginning
'to give you, the television viewer a sense of, "Wow what a place to be".
Thank you very much. I believe that London is currently living under an
incredible climate of fear that it has never experienced before.
Went into a sandwich shop the other day and all I wanted was a crab salad sandwich.
The woman says, "We're all out of crab salad...I'm afraid".
'I tend to think that all comedy on television as far as stand-up goes'
is just like walking into a room and passing out calling cards
saying, "Come see me, come see me,
"come see me in a crappy, sweaty room instead of on this box".
Well as a dog returns to its vomit and a washed sow goes back to
wallowing in the mud, let's meet the team who can't leave well alone.
Jo Brand...Sean Lock...
-Rich Hall...and Alan Davies.
Joining me tonight are six of the country's top comedy performers -
Andy Parsons, Fred MacAulay, Russell Howard and
Frankie Boyle, Hugh Dennis and Shappi Khorsandi. Welcome to the show.
The days where you could go, there was one show,
here Parkinson, there Johnny Carson,
that you go on this one show and then... Those are gone.
Because it's just the audiences are just so fragmented now and you
don't get the water cooler moment of it, but you do have the long term.
It will be repeated so often that there's
hardly an episode that hasn't been on a million times at this stage
and you will by attritional reasons alone get into people's heads.
I don't want to be a TV star. A lot of people do,
they just want to be on TV, and if that's the case,
then don't do stand-up, because it's really hard, you know?
It's great to do television
because you feel like you're doing a job that most people
in the world would want to be doing and that is, that's a nice feeling.
But I like to think that the core is stand-up comedy
and I've developed a weird relationship with stand-up comedy
because I don't do it enough, in my opinion,
and although I love it, I have a guilt relationship,
it's like phoning my mother, you know, were she alive,
I don't feel I... I don't feel I see my stand-up comedy enough.
I don't call her often enough,
I don't give her the attention she deserves.
And that is because I believe I kind of... I owe, I owe stand-up,
it all comes from stand-up.
I'm a stand-up comedian who did telly,
I'm a stand-up comedian who wrote books, I'm a stand-up comedian
who wrote a newspaper column, but always I'm a stand-up comedian.
Every night, you're trying to find the one time deal.
Every night, you're trying to find a room
and an event that will never happen again,
and you want people to leave that room feeling like
they've not seen a joke teller, but they've seen a comedian,
they've seen something happen in that room
that nobody else is going to see.
And that's... that's the quest,
and when it goes right, it's the best.
PIANO PLAYING IN ROOM
A piano is being played.
-How are you doing? Good to see you.
-Do you speak English?
-Oui, je... yeah, I can speak English.
We were talking English before, weren't we, when we were in Paris?
I just wonder, after three months of that show,
whether or not you're going to be able to cope with English.
Yeah, well, I did, I did a warm up
for this Hollywood Bowl, wonderful venue in Bexhill-on-Sea.
-Are you nervous?
-No, I find nerves really boring.
Some people say, "Oh, it's good to be nervous,"
and I found that made me scared and I don't think comedy gets
good places with fear. I've done that, you know -
if I can do it in Paris, surely I can do it in English.
So what's the difference in going from those tiny venues in France,
from that tiny place to this, I mean... Do you have, is it the same shows in English?
Yeah, same show and the trick is, no difference.
If anyone's watching this and heading towards arenas doing spoken word,
just keep it that small, because the screens are that good
and the sound should be that good, it picks it all up. Just do it small, carry on.
-Can we go up and see it empty, before we see it full?
-Yeah, so, look, that's...
-Oh, my God!
-You see that...
-He was just very cool.
-The Beatles, Hendrix...
I don't know if you can see that, that's a beautiful picture.
'The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland,
'Monty Python, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys -
'the greats have all appeared here,
'but never, it seems, a solo stand-up show.
'Not till now.'
This is, this is beautiful, because that shape is perfect.
The arenas tend to go straight back and they feel cavernous,
like an aircraft hangar, and this does not feel like that.
This actually feels quite intimate, considering that you can fit 18,000 people in here.
Look, they've got tables and flowers in there. This is very polite, this bit.
-You must pay a lot more for those seats.
-Apparently so. And there's a walk bit round there,
I can walk round there and do it all.
Oh, a bit of U2 and Stones and going off amongst the people. Will you be doing that?
I think I've got to go out there, I feel I should, and go,
"There was an Englishman, there was an Irishman and a Scottish man
"and they went into a public house, ladies and gentlemen..."
You are amazing, though, you're standing here
and in about another hour, there's going to be
tens of thousands of people here and you're just looking...
Yeah, well, it's fun, it's... the more you do it, the more it's like they're coming to my house.
This is the Bowl, so this is the Bowl's house, but you make... you've got to own the stage.
I think this is stand-up in a theatrical setting with a rock'n'roll sensibility.
I just keep pushing it into bigger spaces, cos my ego is a problem.
DRAMATIC WALK-ON MUSIC
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Very, very sexy. I've got to say hello to this side, sorry.
Cos they started shouting through my microphone a bit too early.
In fact, I'm going to do this - da da da! One has to do this sometimes.
They built one.
This is very sexy, this is the special seats.
I will probably be doing stuff over your heads, I'm sorry, guys.
I'm not going to do this all the way along.
Hang on, I can't do this. I might just do the gig this way,
that'd be really freaky, wouldn't it?
But... what one could do is just run to the back.
CHEERING AND WHISTLING
What is he doing?
We've lost him.
-This was not planned, I take it?
-So he's 200 feet...
-Where is he?
-Oh, my God!
Oh, there he is.
A mad man has rushed into the crowd.
Now, this is...
If you're thinking of playing at the Hollywood Bowl,
don't do what I just did.
We have a very special chair set up,
this is how you get on at the Hollywood Bowl.
Anyway, so, two men go into a pub and...
That's quite an ice breaker, that.
Now, I gotta do comedy, was that a good idea?
You people here, you are out of the box thinkers,
because you're here watching the show. If not, you are lid thinkers,
you're nearly out of the box, but you're on the lid, going, "How's it going?
"Eddie, how's the walking around in dresses, doing gigs?
"Hollywood Bowl? All right, that's OK.
"Maybe I'll walk around in dresses and do the Hollywood Bowl."
Computers, they're so fast now.
PC, more regimented, pretty similar, the computers -
PC computer, open it up, Apple Macintosh, open it up, but portable computer.
Start it with a press button, start it with a press button.
With a PC, you have to turn a handle to get the thing going.
Apple Macintosh, more sexy, you can touch an Apple Macintosh and have sex and everyone's fine.
Then the colour changes - blue, blue, white, blue, blue, white,
blue, white and it stops, and it says, "Hang on, you've gotta sign a new agreement with iTunes."
Ladies and gentlemen of the Hollywood Bowl,
I have signed four million, five hundred and sixty three thousand, two hundred and twenty one
agreements with iTunes - what the fuck do they want? What do they want from us?
And there's the conditions there, you have to read the terms and conditions
and there's a little box - "Have you read the terms and conditions?"
And when we tick the "Yes, I've read the terms and conditions," a little part of each of us dies.
Because we are liars!
You cannot control your children - "Don't you lie to me!
"You said you didn't have a biscuit, you're covered in crumbs, you obviously had a biscuit."
"You said you'd read the terms and conditions a billion times."
The truth is, no-one here has ever read the terms and conditions,
no-one in Los Angeles has read the terms and conditions,
no-one in America, no-one in Europe, no-one in the world,
even God has not read the terms and conditions.
If he exists.
And even the lawyers who wrote the terms and conditions didn't read,
they just went like this, "I dunno, get some monkeys in to help, just put anything in there."
They just want stuff in there. There could be anything in there.
"We take your buttocks and sell them to the Chinese." I accept!
"We will set fire to your testicles and call you Mr Jimjams." I accept!
"We will run your buttocks over with a casting iron and then send you to Japan."
I accept, whatever!
"Now you're called Jean-Claude Van Damme."
Jean-Claude Van Damme, OK!
There should be five boxes to tick -
"Have you read the terms and conditions?" Of course not!
There should be an "Of course not. Are you mad?"
"Have you read half the terms and conditions?"
"No, no, no, not really."
"Have you read one paragraph of the terms and conditions?" N-n-n-no!
"Have you read even one word of the terms and conditions?"
Actually, as you said over there, no.
"Have you NOT read the terms and conditions but you're OK with that?"
The Stone Age, ladies and gentlepuns, the Stone Age.
Before the Stone Age, what the fuck did we do?
We must have beaten things to death. That's it, before the Stone Age, we didn't have tools,
we didn't have arms, weapons, nothing, just hands and feet.
I'll have to kill him on my own, I'll kill him on my own,
then I'll be a big hero, they'll make me king,
make me king of the tribe. Kill him on my own, OK.
Let's have a go.
Male or female bear?
Can't tell, no matter, here we go.
Oh, for fuck's sake! Bloody stone!
That was the beginning of the Stone Age.
Think about it, think about it,
that's must have been how it started,
stones have been there since the dawn of time.
Dinosaurs - too fucking stupid to pick up stones,
probably first three million years of us, lots of humans going...
and just carrying on.
One person on their own, going, "Ah! Ah! Ah!"
The Alexander Fleming of stone,
if you get that reference, which you win a cookie if you do.
He discovered, um, penicillin.
And nitro-glycerine. And termites. I dunno.
So, stones, stones, fucking hell, a stone, bad for my foot,
could be bad for the mammoth as well.
This could be the beginning of an Age.
Ah, good morning, good morning, good morning.
Stuck in the swamp? Oh, it's awful, isn't it? Awful, yeah.
I'm sorry, not much I can do, yeah. Steve, I'm Steve, yeah.
Your name? Mr Mammoth? OK.
Is that an owl over...?
It works, it works, it works!
"What is it, Steve?" I've invented something. "What?" This.
"Ah, for fuck's sake!
"You killed a mammoth with that? With a stone?
"This could be the beginning of an Age!"
Everyone's saying that.
"We've gotta give it a name, Steve, we gotta call it
"something like he Age When Big Things Fall Over...
"the Big Things Falling Over... the Big Things Falling Over When Hit By Things Age.
"The Age of things that... we'll get some people to work on this."
I just thought Stone Age.
"Yeah, Stone Age could work, it's very t-shirt, I see t-shirt.
"Fucking Stone Age, get with it, man!
"Turn on, switch off, it explodes."
So the Stone Age began with stones - we can hit, we can scrape,
you could cut the skin off an animal that didn't need it anymore, cos it was dead, or very nearly.
Just cutting your skin off cos I'm trying to make a cape,
cos I'm-I'm standing for election as King, you see...
Don't really have elections, it's more of, you know... I've killed him, oh fuck it.
I'm just going to take a bit of your skin, all right?
All right, three, two, one!
It's a mime, it's a mime. Come on, Hollywood.
You're as bad as Paris.
So, humans made it to the moon,
but will they make it to the end of the 21st century? It's up to them.
That audience at the Hollywood Bowl that night, those progressive people,
those out of the box thinkers, they have to do it, we have to do it together,
we, the out of the box thinkers and the giant squids of the world, we need to do it, baby.
We need to do it. So, I hope we will.
Giant squid on the moon on the ship Nostromo, signing out.
Thank you very much, Hollywood Bowl.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Digital viewers can press the red button now to see more
of Eddie Izzard's sell-out show at the Hollywood Bowl.
He was hilarious and I'm too exhausted, really, to describe it.
You've attained critical mass when you, you perform here.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail - [email protected]