I can play the theme tune to Dallas... but that will only get you so far in an orchestra
(LAUGHS) There was no chemistry when we did the first pilot. No, Greg is a very funny man, a very silly man. It’s fun to sit next to him on the show and occasionally harness him in. I suppose keeping a bit of order is sort of my role. A lot doesn’t make it onto the show. Maybe we should put the out-takes on YouTube. IT’S strange watching the different versions. There are versions of Greg and I in Flemish and Swedish. I don’t speak the languages, but I find it very entertaining. Sweden seems to have the least health and safety requirements. They have contestants running on train tracks with the train honking at them. I LIKE tasks that are a bit of a blank canvas, like ‘Give Alex a cuddle in a special way.’ I’ve no idea what the celebrity contestants are going to do, but a cuddle from Bob Mortimer in a special way, well, that’s nice for me. I DON’T really know. It’s a talent that’s useless for anything else. I normally go for a long walk and let my mind wander. The more we do Taskmaster the easier it gets. I like to come up with tasks that give people a lot of scope – something quite silly, but not too chaotic. I played French horn at school. (Laughs) I got grade three music and I can play the theme tune to Dallas, but that will only get you so far in an orchestra. IT’S not your traditional comedy songs, we are not changing a few lyrics for laughs, it’s five talented musicians led by someone with no music ability.
There are lots of songs and dancing and mucking about. The saxophone player, Mark Brown, works with Robbie Williams and trumpeter Joe Auckland plays with Madness. All of them are a lot funnier than me. IF we think of an idea, or someone writes a little thing of piano, then it is sent out to all of us and we rehearse once a week.
We’ve done Zumba at some shows – there’s some audience participation – and some people come because of Taskmaster and some because of our BBC Radio 4 show.
Things like Taskmaster take up a big part of the year, but I’m doing sessions with the band as well and we do have fun.
I HAVE been doing comedy for nearly 20 years and there’s little that throws you. People tend to shout out the same names of songs in different towns. It’s remarkable how often the theme tune from Jurassic Park comes up.
I did classics at Cambridge which to be honest was not as useful as I thought it might be, but I managed to land on my feet very quickly doing comedy. MY sons are vaguely not interested in what I do. They really want someone who can tell them lots of Bob Monkhouse style jokes.
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