An idiot inspired
He made a TV career out of moaning, but Karl Pilkington’s second series of The Moaning of Life may be his last lament, he tells DEBBIE SCHIPP
CLAD only in undies, shoes, and a motorbike helmet in New York’s Times Square, carrying a hand-painted sign exhorting passers-by to “slo-o-o-o-w d-o-o-o-wn”, Karl Pilkington is having the time of his life.
Ricky Gervais, who loved his friend and radio producer’s straight-talking grumpiness so much he sent him out to explore, star in – and whinge about the world – in hit series An Idiot Abroad would barely recognise his 43-year-old mate.
Is that really Pilkington cracking a smile and confessing to experiencing an adrenalin rush so extreme after delivering his offbeat performance art that he found it difficult to sleep?
Well, yes, Pilkington admits from his home in the UK – where he is “sat in my car. I always do interviews in the car, it’s a little thing I like doing” – it was the moment he enjoyed most filming series two of The Moaning of Life.
“It was probably my favourite thing I did in the series. The feeling I got from it, the fact that Matthew (Silver, the performance artist with him) was really happy with it.
“I got up that morning thinking, ‘I can’t do this’. I say at the start of the segment: ‘I’m probably not going to do this because it’s sort of embarrassing, innit?’
“I don’t know, the adrenalin kicked in,” Pilkington says.
“It helped that I really like Matthew. If you get on with someone it can be quite infectious and you sort of don’t want to let them down.
“The director was stood there not saying anything. It was sort of, ‘Where’s this come from?’”
Pilkington’s second series of The Moaning of Life is as offbeat as ever. Back on the road in search of answers to life’s big questions episode one sees him in New York exploring the point of art, where as well as his Times Square stunt he meets artists who make sculptures out of dog poo, strips to a G-string to become part of a painted human sculpture, and tries to create a masterpiece from his own vomit.
Later episodes see the bald Pilkington returned to his 20s with a realistic wig “that doesn’t look like shite” and trying on the life of a Buddhist monk, returning animals to their homes, which all goes well until the monk gets seasick returning fish, and also returns that day’s clam chowder to the ocean.
But, Pilkington warns, this series may be his last.
“This is probably the last thing I’m going to do,” he says. “Really. I think I’ve been everywhere and done everything now. I think you once you make art out of dogs--t (one of the arts he pursues in New York) you’re running out of things to say.
“I’ll do a book about it and expand on it, but I think you know you have to call it a day at some point. “
THE MOANING OF LIFE
TUESDAY, 7.30PM, BBC FIRST
WHINGEING IT: Karl Pilkington (right) and Matthew Silver in New York’s Times Square.