WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO
TOM HOUGHTON, COMEDIAN
MY dad [General Sir Nick Houghton, former Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces] is the Constable of the Tower of London, so I am allowed to stay there as long as I am respectful and don’t in any way do anything risky whatsoever within the walls. It’s a very privileged position to have.
Is it easy to be respectful? Since I’ve gone solo from my comedy group The Noise Next Door I’ve been knuckling down and making sure my solo career goes the right way. I left the party life a few years ago. I’m 32 now. Don’t get me wrong, I can still have a misdemeanour here and there. But I tend to leave those to the away games rather than the home games.
My dad’s house is in the Queen’s House [in Greenwich]. We only moved there last year. I think it’s the oldest Tudor building in England. Of course it’s haunted. There’s Thomas More. He’s kicking around. Anne Boleyn, she’s always there, with or without head.
The downsides of living at the Tower? There is a strict door policy. You have to sign in and out. It’s all very proper and official. The other downside is nobody believes you.
The upsides? It does make you reflect. Nowadays a lot of people are convinced the world is getting worse. But when you go back and look at all these rooms where people were being beheaded and racked … We’re getting away from that.
There are a lot of bad things happening right on our doorstep, but it’s definitely improved since 1520.
The main reason I decided to become a comedian was precisely not to ride on my dad’s coat tails. I wanted to make a career that was totally mine and mine alone.
I think it was very evident from the age of seven when I was doing Cats the Musical on the stairs that jazz hands probably weren’t what the front line needed.
I think sometimes privilege can convince you that you are more than just an animal. Posh people aren’t the problem – snobs are the problem. Snobs are to the upper class what chavs are to the working class. They’re the extreme version where you wear where you’re from as if it was some sort of entitlement
or achievement and it’s not.
Never forget where you come from but also don’t expect it to mean anything to anyone.
It’s been nice to get to know my dad more. He’s been away with the military and now he’s retired and I’ve just left my group so it’s good. We’re spending more time together than we ever have which I think is one of the best things about it.
Tom Houghton: Class Half Empty is on at the Gilded Balloon Teviot at 5.45pm until August 28