'You have to be more open-minded and  try things' | Q&A with Sara Pascoe on the return of Comedians Giving Lectures © UKTV

'You have to be more open-minded and try things'

Q&A with Sara Pascoe on the return of Comedians Giving Lectures

What can we expect from the second series of Comedians Giving Lectures?

I think all of the comedians have really pushed themselves and understood what we were asking of them a bit more. You have a first series, and everyone thinks ‘Oh I bet you just do your stand-up’, or ‘Oh I see, maybe we’re making fun of TED Talks’.

This time it feels like people really understood and they definitely pushed the boundaries, so we’ve got some incredible lectures lined up. I also think there’s more education in there and a lot more laughs as well.

Which comedian surprised you in series 2?

Series two has Joe Thomas in it, who went above and beyond. [As Chortle previously revealed, he shaved his head into a monk-like tonsure for the show]

Joe Inbetweeners Thomas with a shaved head

I think that’s what happens to comedians after a year and a half of lockdown. Maybe they enjoy being on stage so much…maybe even too much!

What three things do you think make a good lecture?

Bravery, commitment and not too much research. I say this because if you get too bogged down in the subject, you can’t be flippant about it any more, you’ve actually got too much to say. There really is a lot to be said for being a bit stupid!

Take Nick Helm’s lecture [on ‘Inside the mind of a master procrastinator’, from episode two of the new series] – that’s a prime example of bravery.

He took one joke and that could have just died. People could have politely laughed the first two times and then gone ‘yeah I’m over it now’.

In all of the really good ones, someone stuck with their initial idea, and they were just so audacious. I mean we’ve got Marcus Brigstocke on a bike eating a pork pie! There are certain things that they had to commit to, and we love it when they do.

Have any of the acts on the show enjoyed it a bit ‘too’ much and started acting like experts on their subject since their appearance?

Well, there’s some people who were already acting like experts, like Jessica Fostekew. She did some weightlifting on stage and, since then, she’s pulled a bus with her bare hands.

So, is that getting out of control or are we to blame? Or are we brilliantly encouraging of people who do have their passions and then carry on with them in real life?

That’s what I hope.

Has working on Comedians Giving Lectures affected or influenced the way you write or perform?

I think it probably has because, like lots of comics, you always think there are areas where you couldn’t possibly get any comedy from. Whether that’s personal or you think that no one’s ready to laugh at something like that. Then you watch how another comic’s brain takes that topic and it’s really inspiring, and you realise that sometimes you do have to come at things from a new angle.

Janine Harouni finished her lecture with a set of short retro dances and the audience were so sad when it stopped. I’ve never seen an audience so quick to start clapping along with something, it was so joyous.

It’s those kind of things that, if it had occurred to me, I think I’d have gone ‘Oh no, no one wants to clap along to Cotton Eyed Joe – probably no one even remembers that song!’ So, quite often what it makes you realise is that you have to be more open-minded and at least try things.

• Comedians Giving Lecutures returns to Dave at 9pm on Wednesday, with Ahir Shah on ‘You Don’t Have To Be An Expert To Solve Big Problems’, real-life couple Harriet Kemsley and Bobby Mair on the ‘Recipe For A Good Marriage’, and Jo Brand on ‘Older People Are Happier’.

Published: 7 Nov 2021

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