Interview: Dom Joly
Dom Joly came to note as the star of Trigger Happy TV, a hidden camera show that was sold to over seventy countries worldwide. Since then, Joly has continued to make edgy off-beat television like World Shut Your Mouth for BBC1 and Dom Joly’s Happy Hour, a spoof travel show for Sky One. He is also an author, with several books to his name.
More recently, Joly was a contestant on the tenth series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and is currently on tour with his show Welcome To Wherever I Am. Ahead of his appearances in the North East, Radio Teesdale’s Peter Dixon caught up with Joly to talk about the tour.
PD: Hi Dom. You’re on a massive tour at the moment – are you enjoying yourself?
DJ: I am! It’s been a complete learning curve for me – I’ve been in supposedly comedy and TV for ten years, but I’ve never done anything live before so it’s my first live tour. I’m learning fast and loving it. I was very nervous right at beginning because I’d never done it, but I’ve got a show I really like now and people seem to be enjoying it. I get a real buzz from it and it’s great – I’m literally doing every town in Britain, which is amazing. I’ve travelled loads around the world but I’ve realised how little I know about Britain. So yeah, I’m really enjoying it.
PD: I think your tour booker must have an atlas as well, because they seem to have booked all your North East dates together – a lot of comedians I speak to are zigzagging all over the place!
DJ: That is a rare moment on my tour, to be honest! The dates looks like a dyslexic spider is going up and down the country, but it’s quite nice when I don’t have far to travel to the next venue – so those few days in the North East should be great.
PD: The show isn’t just stand-up, is it? Do you want to tell us about it?
DJ: Yeah, it’s not a stand-up show at all for several reasons. Firstly, I’ve just broken my foot so I can’t really stand up; but I’m not a stand-up comedian anyway, I don’t tell jokes and it’s not really a joke evening. It’s more a look back at the last ten years of my life from being a paparazzo, to travelling around the world, to being in Trigger Happy TV to going in the jungle [on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!]. It’s a kind of mad, weird guide to how not to do show business and still enjoy it.
And I’ve got all sorts of props; I’ve got photos and slides and stuff I’ve filmed. I really get the audience involved as well – they get up on stage and break things, I ask them to film a trailer for my new film, they throw stones at me at one stage…which is quite painful. They’re not real stones, obviously, but they do hurt! So it’s kind of an interactive, fun evening, but it’s definitely not a stand-up show because I’m not a stand-up. I think everyone’s really enjoying it, though, so that’s good.
PD: I was going to ask you about the interactive side of things, because obviously that’s quite a big thing with your TV work. How easily is that to translate to a stage show?
DJ: Well again it’s not what I do on the TV – I’m not pranking the audience! It did kind of cross my mind to do that but I think people would expect it. There are a couple of surprises but you’re not going to end up on TV looking an idiot. It’s a cross between me showing the audience what I’ve done and how it’s went wrong, but also new stuff and trying to have fun. I wanted to make it a little bit absurd, and if you like Trigger Happy and the other things I’ve done you’ll enjoy it.
PD: So it’s you on stage on your own, is it?
DJ: It is just me on stage, but I have a little team that help me out with playing the clips and doing the sound effects, and I have a few people driving me around. It’s really nice.
PD: That’s a nice little entourage! I noticed on your flyer for the show you’ve got a few strange things on there, like you believe you went to school with Osama Bin Laden.
DJ: I did go to school with Osama Bin Laden! It’s one of those weird things I’ve discovered in the last ten years. It was even weirder when I had a lot of material for my show about organising a school reunion and on the first night of the tour he was killed – so that’s changed slightly! I did go back to the school to try and get a photo and learn a bit more about him, but him dying is obviously good news for me. I’m once again the most famous alumni from that school!
PD: Obviously you came to a lot of people’s attention when you took part on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! I presume that gets a mention in the show?
DJ: It does at the start, especially when I ring Gillian McKeith’s agent to find out whether she’d be available to join me on tour. Obviously the agent hangs up on me – he doesn’t feel what I was offering was right for Gillian! And then at the end I talk about the jungle and pay tribute to Stacey Soloman by letting the audience throw stones at me. I’m A Celebrity definitely gets a nod!
PD: What about your future after the tour? Do you have anything planned or are you looking for something new to do?
DJ: When I’ve finished the tour I’m off to Canada for a month, then I’m writing a book called Scary Monsters and Super Creeps where I go off to find Bigfoot and the Yeti and stuff like that. After that I’m filming a big hidden camera movie in the United States, so I’m busy until the end of next year now!
DP: Well that’s great news! Will you be taking a camera along with you when looking for the Yeti? You’ll need video proof, won’t you?
DJ: No, actually! I wrote this book called The Dark Tourist where I went off to places around the world, and they wanted to do a TV show of that and I didn’t. I think to write a book you’ve got to go on your own – otherwise you just end up hanging around with crew and not really doing much. I will take a camera with me, but as someone pointed out, if I do find the Yeti no-one’s going to believe me anyway!
You can see Dom Joly in the North East on Friday 27th May [Durham Gala Theatre], Saturday 28th May [Darlington Civic Theatre], Friday 3rd June [Middlesbrough Town Hall] and Tuesday 5th July [Stockton Arc].
Also, an audio file of Peter Dixon’s interview with Dom Joly can be listened to here via Radio Teesdale’s Listen Again feature.