The Sofa of Sincerity
Dear Graham, This is going to be an unusual session for you, as someone so used to either asking your own questions (and having appeared more than once on The Graham Norton Show I have to admit you’re a master of the art of interview), or answering queries about other people’s lives in your role as the Telegraph’s agony uncle.
Now it is time for a taste of your own medicine. Take a seat on Miranda Hart’s Sofa of Sincerity, and prepare to share. Your Perrier-nominated comedy show in 1997 was the one that really inspired me to try stand-up comedy. I loved the fact that you were so characterful and theatrical. Do you miss stand-up? I never felt like a proper standup. I just felt like someone getting away with it.
I’m in awe of great standups, and looking at the comedy circuit feel guilty that I’m the one who had the telly break. So many great headline acts ripping rooms apart night after night never seem to get the recognition they deserve. I was never a closer, just the middle act or – my favourite – the compère. Having said all that I would quite like to go back and work with live audiences because it is exhilarating, but, happily for all fans of live comedy, I’m far too lazy to actually do anything about that desire. How do you feel about fame, and your firm position as a bit of a “national treasure”? It seems to me that the phrase “national treasure” is much overused, a bit like the phrase “gay icon” was a few years ago. Now an unemployed weather girl is referred to as a national treasure. For my money I can only name two – June Whitfield and Ronnie Corbett.
As for fame, it is mostly a blessing but when it is a curse it is a very bleak one indeed. I don’t often want to sit on a park bench and weep but it would be nice to have the option. On balance, though, I would say the queue-jumping and free stuff more than make up for the lack of privacy. I am really passionate about television as a cultural medium. Do you love it too? And do you prefer making it or consuming it? I LOVE TELEVISION. It was more than entertainment for me when I was growing up in southern Ireland, it was my window on the world. If I had to choose I’d say I probably prefer watching it, but at the same time I adore my job. This year, when I first returned from holiday and sat in the studio looking out at my audience of 600, I did get a little misty eyed. I felt like I’d come home. I was also quite drunk. What are your favourite recent television shows? Difficult one. These are off the top of my head: Veep is brilliantly funny and sort of British. Damages was stunning – Glenn Close is flawless. Broadchurch was great, but then I love all crime shows. At the moment I’m enjoying Gogglebox on Channel 4, but I know I’ll get bored of it soon. Who would you most like on your show that you haven’t yet pinned down? Oddly enough there is a person I interviewed briefly for a documentary years ago that I would love to do a full-length show with, and that is Larry Flynt, the founder of Hustler.
At-home Graham: the talk show host enjoys nothing more than spending a Saturday night in front of the box with a glass of wine, as making plans is a hassle