Thinking ahead - Q&A: Bill Bailey

Thinking ahead - Q&A: Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey has a lot on his mind. Again. The hit UK comedian shares a slice or two as he prepares for a mammoth tour of Aotearoa.

You are visiting 14 gems in our crown over a month – sounds more like a house-hunting trip than a tour.

There’s a lot to see here – it’s twice the size of the UK. Plus the wildlife is the best – not too bitey, not too big. It’s Goldilocks – just right.

Have you thought of just staying on and seeing if anyone notices? You could hide on Stewart Island.

I tried that last time but I ended up on Instagram – there’s no escape these days.

You were an environmentalist back when people thought it a bit kooky. So was the now King Charles. Not so kooky now, eh?

Exactly – feels like a vindication. Oh, the ‘tree-huggers and bunny huggers’ – yeah well, it’s King Tree Hugger to you.

I figure you take no joy from being vindicated?

Not really. It’s like saying everything is going to hell, it’s really bad, and then everyone says Oh yeah, you’re right ... thanks Bill, you killjoy.

About your show ‘Thoughtifier’ – so our weirdness is our ultimate defence as humans?

All we have is consciousness, thought ... that’s it. All else is mere flesh. And yes, we are contradictory, sometimes a bit useless. Our randomness is our protection from redundancy, no robot can repeat that.

Observational humour is very much the dominant form now, as against the more gag-focused style of legends such as Arthur Askey and Les Dawson – please discuss.

Well yes, but I don’t think it’s just observational. All forms of humour are thriving – oddball, personal, confrontational, introvert. I’ve often favoured the crypto-observational style, pointing out things that don’t exist. Or the proto-personal, where you imagine you are me and you are thinking my thoughts.... like Avatar, only instead of the Na’avi it’s a bearded pianist. 

I interviewed your co-star in Black Books, Dylan Moran, recently and he seemed keen to move on from the series. How about you? Can such success become a bit of a millstone on a career?

I don’t think it’s a millstone. A milestone, a time, an ongoing cult, a thing which will always be. It’s the way of the world, you can’t unmake it or wish it away.

You are known for your sense of style – if you could give the world one fashion tip, what would it be?

Always aim for the thing that others might not. If it’s not trending, it’s the right choice. If it is trending, it’s already too late.

What are you like in the kitchen?

Chatty, charming, often naked.

What’s the best advice your mum ever gave you?

Keep going – you’ll get there. Could be a career, a marriage, a long walk, knitting a mouse or making an omelette.

If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would you want to be?

I would be a resident musicologist at a biological research station.

Is there a particular book or author that has inspired you in your life or career?

I love Somerset Maugham and his prolific writings on Southeast Asia.

How do you prepare for a gig? Any rituals or superstitions?

Always wander around the venue, sit in the seats. Seek out some fine local falafel or some chick pea-based substitute.

What’s your favourite guilty pleasure?

My guilt is pleasure itself. It induces guilt, as I am British, where pleasure itself is an indulgence.


People, What's On

What's Hot New Zealand Newsletter

Stay in the loop with all the latest food, fashion, trends, events and more. Delivered hot to your inbox every month.