You can’t please everyone, nor should you seek to, because then you won’t please anyone, least of all yourself.
People will kill you over time, and how they’ll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases, like ‘be realistic.’
I wanted to show off – a simple impulse or drive; in much the same way as some kids wanted to play football, I wanted to show off. Not complicated in that sense, very natural; it just depends on how you want to show off.
I wouldn’t be in a huge hurry to go back to Kansas. It was just bizarre. There’s a lot of very, very heavy set people who believe in whatever they were told, because they didn’t seem to get out very much or be interested in leaving where they were. They just didn’t seem that curious, and I find that a little hard to deal with.
Some people have told me that I’m grumpy; it’s not something that I’m aware of. It’s not like I walk around poking children in the eye… not very small ones, anyway.
I’ve seen stand up comedy, and after a while you start to notice that a lot of people are doing things that are like a lot of other people. There can be a bit of a herd mentality, and that’s obviously less interesting because there’s less going on. I’m just being totally frank with you.
Maybe this is just me, but as time goes by, I’m more bewildered by modernity. It gets more unfathomable with every passing year.
Irish people give big hellos and very little goodbyes. Unless they’re female, and then they spend five hours talking in the doorway to the person that’s leaving their house.
I quite fancy the 1940s. I like the trams and the trousers.
Paper acts as an eraser on the mind, as soon as you look at what you’ve written.
If I hadn’t done this I might have ended up digging the roads.
I get a phone call once every 18 months from some mad person who wants me to do something for less than no money and they give me about a week’s notice. That’s my film career, most of the time.
I’m really not big on nationalism, to be honest with you. I really don’t think it gets people anywhere except near a pile of dead bodies. I’m Irish, yeah, but I don’t need to get up on a soapbox about it.
I do not walk around imaging myself to be intimidating or smart.
Stand-up came naturally to me because people in Ireland talk. But that’s not talking on panel shows; it is structured fun. It reminds me of some tragic aunt clapping her hands and bouncing into a room and announcing we should all play games… and if we don’t we are all a rotten spoilsport.
I thought The Office was good, though I didn’t think of it as a sitcom, just as a very good programme.
I think a lot of the time you just parody yourself.
I grew up in a house where there was lots of teasing and language play and laughter; it was very important. When I was a teenager, you wouldn’t go to a bar and find lots of televisions everywhere. People were talking. Talk was the mental fire you would gather around in the evening. It occupied a big part of your existence.
You have to assume that you’re talking to the most intelligent, tuned-in audience you could ever get. That’s the way you’re going to get the best out of people. Whether they know you or not shouldn’t matter for comedy. They should get to know you pretty quickly. and they should be having a good time pretty quickly.
I’m just trying to understand what’s around me as much as anyone else is, really. To draw a bead on a moving target.
I really can’t describe what my stand-up is like – people see it and they say it’s like that, or it’s like this, and that’s really up to them, that’s fine, but I don’t sit around all day analysing it. I just try and enjoy a show and interest myself because if I don’t do that then I won’t interest anybody else.
Children are the most honest critics. They will say ‘You’re funny’, but also ‘You’re pathetic – go away.’
My drive to put myself on the line comes from boredom. From that feeling when you go to bed and think, ‘What did I do today?’ It doesn’t have to be something monumental, just a feeling that you really tried to look at something, or look into something.
I never thought I want to do anything, really, except not go to work properly and turn up at the same place every day and eat sandwiches in the same canteen, if I can possibly help it, as I don’t think I’d be very good at it.
I think that women just have a primeval instinct to make soup, which they will try to foist on anybody who looks like a likely candidate.
When I was a child, I wanted to watch things that made me laugh. It’s attacking boredom, as simple as that. I was 19 when I first went to a comedy club – I wanted to do it, so I gave it a try and that was it. I found my office.
A lot of the fiction I read growing up was post-war American, and not all of it centers on Manhattan, but around people of the Mad Men generation, people like John Cheever and, in more modern times, Don DeLillo, who I always mention.
Do your own thing. Speak in your voice.
You try various things when you’re grow
ing up. I was an attache in the Foreign Service for a while and then I drove a bulldozer, but neither of those panned out for me so it had to be stand-up.
I don’t want to do panel games or adverts. I really like challenges. I always get roles as an art teacher or a photographer. In the future I want to play something like a mugger/assassin/pastry chef.
America is this incredible mosaic of immigrants, so people really want to be anchored in some kind of culture as well as the one they are living in.
I do think it’s perfectly natural and human to want to invest belief in something. It’s just a facet of who we are. What do I believe in? I believe in the obvious things. The people I’m close to and my work – it’s not complicated.
The trend now is to get away from stage bound sitcoms.
Black Books adheres to a more old fashioned, traditional sitcom format, which I think works, because in its own way, it’s quite theatrical.
You achieve the surreal jokes through the realism by making it elastic.
We are both drawn to surreal situations so the writing was a joy.
The characters can’t be wittier than people are in real life. They have to be character witty.
One thing that’s coming up a lot is: are you as grumpy as you appear from this Black Books thing.
I have no qualifications to do anything else and there weren’t any formal application forms you had to fill in for stand-up, so I thought I’d give that a twist.
Yeah, I think Michael has had to deal with that label of being Michael Caine for a long time.
I have a very low level of recognition, which is fine by me.
Showing off seemed to me to be a highly valuable and necessary activity when I was 20.
I don’t really think of myself as an actor.
I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again