John Gordillo

John Gordillo

Stand-up John Gordillo has recently returned to performance after establishing himself as a comedy director, with credits that include Eddie Izzard’s Unrepeatable and Live At The Ambassadors shows, a stint looking after sketch collective Ealing Live, and any number of Edinburgh shows.

Earlier adopters of digital TV will remember him as the host of BBC Choice’s RDA, a topical show in the vein of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show which ran for an impressive 60 episodes over two series in 2000 and 2001 – but was never renewed when the channel became BBC Three. However, there are still a small handful of internet shrines to the show.

Gordillo started as a stand-up in the mid-Nineties, and returned to the circuit in 2005.

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Picking the Lock

You quiz 15 Storeys' Sean

Both series of 15 Storeys High have just been released on DVD - and to mark the occasion Sean Lock subjected himself to the questions of Chortle readers. This is what you wanted to know...

It's great to see an intelligent, well-written and funny comedy like 15 Storeys being released on DVD. But there's other great shows like Nightingales that I'd love to be able to get hold of, but can't. Which comedy series would you like to be released onto DVD? Hazel Humphries

I’d like to see Simon Day’s Grass again and Rowland Rivron made a very funny show about six members of his family. [Set Of Six]

How long did the process take in order to get '15 Storeys High' to be broadcast from initial conception and will there be another series? John Quel

I made the first radio show in 1998 after three series we hit BBC Choice in 2002 so about four years. No I don’t think there’ll be another series unless there is some strange coup at the Beeb

Considering the general acclaim that the show received throughout its run, were you ever particularly resentful towards the BBC's treatment of the series, and what factors do you attribute to the fact the show never really 'broke through' into the mainstream? John Thorp

If you’d asked me about that a few years ago I would have said yes but if there is one thing I’ve learnt in this business is: ‘Don’t take it personally.’ There is a 15 Storey website with the title ‘badly treated by the BBC’, which has got nothing to do with me. I have trouble texting let alone create a website. The thought of a podcast makes me queasy. But also I’d be insane to continue a feud with the biggest producer of comedy in Europe. Critically the show was a huge success just didn’t get shown a lot. The reasons? Well let’s face it the show was hardly accessible. We took a lot of risks making 15 Storeys, lighting, pace, few close-ups a grimly realistic location. I n fact we did the opposite of every comedy show that had been made before it. And the whole point of taking risks is accepting when they don’t pay off, commercially anyway.

Do you share any characteristics in real life with Vince? Anna Pritchard

Not really I try to enjoy myself I’m no stranger to a Conga or a bit of fancy dress. Vince is what I could have been if I hadn’t had a word with myself.

Your name is an anagram of 'Cleans OK', how would you rate your personal hygiene Adam Haycroft

Good question. My name is also a crap pun. My hygiene rating is 2.7(b960) on the Mcall/Simpson scale but that was recorded during last summer’s heat wave so I think an adjustment of 0.5(f40) is only fair

Where did your career start and what made you go into comedy? Danielle Pearce

A small pub in Hackney in 1988. A five-minute open spot with the Crisis Twins (impro double act Simon Clayton and John Gordillo), Ian Saville (a socialist magician) and the wonderful Michael Redmond. It went OK but audiences had lower expectations in those days. In fact they were relieved you weren’t doing a 14-stanza poem about Norman Tebbit

Some comedians (Ross Noble) have never had a proper job - you've had proper jobs haven't you? Have your previous jobs influence your comedy career? If so how? James Thompson

I never saw comedy as a career for me it was an escape from work. To earn a living by not getting up in the morning, but at night in a warm but hostile room, was the most satisfying part of being a comic. My ambition was driven by fear of the workplace.

If a friend rang you up and told you, you were in this week’s Heat magazine, would you buy a copy? Suleyman Mehmet

Yes, ccos hopefully the pictures would be of me kicking Simon Cowell in his floppy old vagina or parting the crowd at an Il Divo gig with my tractor.

Do you prefer writing, stand up, or appearing on quiz shows (which is less work and more money I’d imagine)? Michael Beck

I hate all three of them but you don’t get paid for smiling. Writing is the hardest, to conclude three plot strands in a half-hour sitcom is a great achievement rarely matched in British sitcom. Stand-up is lonely and panel shows are well paid.

You're often cited by comedians as one of their favourite acts - as a writer, are you particularly conscious of the technical aspects of crafting a joke or does it come a lot more naturally than that? James Parker

Good ideas are hard to come by so when I get one I squeeze the life out of it. A journalist asked me if I had any new ideas in the ‘pipeline.’ and I thought god I wish it was a pipeline ‘cos it feels more like wringing a turd from a constipated parrot.

What's the one thing in your career you wish you hadn't done? A TV show or a gig where you've hated it from minute one and wanted to curl up and die or give up. Have you ever thought your career was over because of it? Nick Storton

I judged the BBC new act of year once. I thought, ‘Great, three nights in an Edinburgh hotel, couple of grand, sit at the back of the gig with a pint what a great job. Instead we were placed at the side of the stage and after each joke was told the audience swung their gaze toward us to see if we were laughing. It was like comedy tennis. We would’ve been less conspicuous on elephants. But the shame comes from how much I hate those competitions I only ever did one and felt cheapened by it so to be judging was like doing a McDonald’s ad while writing links for You’ve Been Framed.

Do you think comedians should say the unsayable regardless of the potential to cause offence? Graham Brechin

Yes as long as they are prepared to take the consequences and not bleat on about touchy audiences or irate dwarves.

What's the most memorable heckle you've ever had thrown at you? Danielle Rose

I was dying at York Arts Centre. The worst sort of death - the silent one where everyone is embarrassed and wants to shuffle off home. I’m sure the technician was slowly fading the lights. The only sound I could hear as I pumped out joke after joke was the scraping of heels and the flipping of seats as the people of York crept out. When suddenly from the dark I got a heckle it was spoken not yelled and it has troubled me ever since. ‘What do you want?’ It made me feel like some kind of pest. I can’t remember what I replied. I probably muttered ‘fuck off’ and ploughed on.

How do you define comedy? Peter Watson

The ventilation of logic.

How would you feel if your children went into stand up when they grew up? Yvonne Bourke

A complete failure as a parent. Most comics have some childhood issues that makes them demand way more than their fair share of attention.

One thing that strikes me about your comedy is how you really try to avoid cliché gags, yet you somehow manage to not be terribly esoteric either. Is this something that just comes naturally, or that you spend a lot of time honing? John E Thelin

The greatest joy of being a comic is that you may say or think something that is totally unique. That no one has ever expressed before, that’s what I’m striving for. It happens rarely but when it does it’s usually a moment of lucid inspiration.

If you were a type of louse which part of the body would you attach yourself to and why? Phil Hampson

Like most parasites I don’t think I’d be too fussy, I suppose the hair because of the view.

Who are the comedians that you've worked with whom you admire most? Tony Bridgeman

I’ve worked with Bob Mortimer, Vic Reeves and Paul Merton who I think are the funniest men of the last thirty years, by a mile.

Are there any comics from the past - or the present if you're feeling brave - that everybody swoons over but you couldn't/can't stand? Paul Drew

Driving down the M1 late one night I picked up a Ken Dodd tape at the services to see what all the fuss was about. After about fifteen minutes I wound down the window and chucked it out. Apparently it’s a live thing.

Hi Sean . I like to draw on banana skins with a biro (give it a try, it’s great) what weird habit do you have? Tony Higgiins

I’ve just tried it, very pleasing combination of textures, thank you. I have no weird habits other than absent mindedly picking at bits of dried food that are stuck to dustbin lid and then eating them while talking on the phone.

How come you aren't on tour with your standup? Surely Jimmy Carr can't book every venue? Dale Murchie

Don’t be hard on Jimmy he needs all that cash to pay for the lab full of scientists working on his face shrinking cream. And I am currently writing a new show, which will tour in the autumn so thanks for the opportunity to plug.

Hi Sean, I decided to ask an uninteresting question to see if it would win a DVD in spite of itself - is there anything wrong with that? Nicholas Hill

No one likes a smart arse these days you’d stand a much better chance if you gave off an air of deprived ignorance. But good luck I admire a plucky chap.

15 Storeys High is out now on 2Entertain priced £24.99 Click here to buy it for £16.99

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Published: 6 Mar 2007


Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2007

John Gordillo: Free

Edinburgh Fringe 2008

John Gordillo: Divide & Conga

Edinburgh Fringe 2009

John Gordillo: Fuckonomics

Edinburgh Fringe 2016

John Gordillo: Love Capitalism


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