Friday 7 Mar 2014
Last month, I was a guest on laid-back Channel 4 show Sunday Brunch to promote my current tour.
The show is hosted by the charming double act Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer (I bet he got teased at school â€“ must have been tough having the same surname as the stupid Hologram bloke from Red Dwarf).
The show is recorded live, which might make some people nervous, but it doesnâ€™t bother me too much. Back in the 1990s, I appeared on another Sunday lunchtime show called This Morning With Richard Not Judy.
It never really registered that what we were doing was being watched by thousands of hungover people around the country. Maybe it wasnâ€™t. That would explain why youâ€™ve never heard of it and why it got taken off the air.
My only worry this time was that I would blurt out some swear word or feel the compunction to say the worst possible thing imaginable but I managed to get through a discussion about the Olympic rings without saying anything, so realised Iâ€™d probably be OK.
Itâ€™s easy to dismiss a show like Sunday Brunch as inoffensive and even banal. I was in danger of doing so myself when Rimmer and Lovejoy (theyâ€™re both quite Carry On surnames actually) discussed at length what age is appropriate to teach your child to make a cup of tea.
They were two minutes into this when I felt the need to interrupt and question whether this was actually happening or whether I was in bed asleep and dreaming it. I wanted to scream, â€˜Come on, guys, weâ€™re actually on TV right now. Time to start doing the actual show! People are watching.â€™
But there was a glint in the eyes of the hosts, which made me realise they knew what they were doing. This wasnâ€™t inanity but subtle, surreal high comedy, worthy of Vic and Bob. They were egging each other on to see how long they could continue this pointless conversation.
Edgy comedians like Stewart Lee subvert our expectations by going on at boring, jokeless length about something on late-night TV but to be truly subversive, you have to infiltrate mainstream television, where no one is expecting it. These arch-satirists were gently ribbing (luckily not rimming) themselves and their audience.
The juxtapositions were breathtakingly hilarious once you spotted them. I helped make some salmon fishcakes, while discussing Stephen Fryâ€™s suicide attempt. Then I tasted a camel milk latte.
I was game. Milk is milk, right? Thereâ€™ll always be milk. It wasnâ€™t very nice, strong and earthy, like milk that had been kept in a leather saddlebag on a beast that had just galloped across the desert. For some reason.
The funniest segment involved an American invention called the Bacon Bowl. You wrapped bacon around it until it formed a bowl, which you could then stuff with the filling of your choice before eating the whole thing. There wasnâ€™t enough bacon in that for my liking. I think there should have been a bacon lid and that it should be filled with bacon. I am bringing out my â€˜Bacon Ballâ€™ next year.
Finally I was interviewed about Weâ€™re All Going To Die! Death seemed an incongruous subject for this ostensibly light-hearted programme. But Tim and Simon and I got into some surprisingly philosophical areas. Though I think I might have blown their minds when I asked them to consider that their atoms were forged in the crucible of exploding stars.
Even that was too far for this secret haven of hard-hitting, anarchic comedy. Hiding in plain sight.