David Baddiel has some simple advice for York City fans

18 Mar 2018 @ 8.32 pm
| Entertainment

David Baddiel is a man of many parts.

Writer, comedian, family man, chart-topper, aetheist, and surgical dissector of issues like race, religion, identity and relationships, he has been making Britain laugh and think for 30 years.

And with Frank Skinner he was one of the people who made it feel good to be an English football fan in the 1990s.

Now he is coming to York with his new stand-up show, My Family: Not The Sitcom.

Grand Opera House, York

Mon Mar 19 2018


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It is an unflinching, poignant, and very funny, look at his own eccentric family, featuring his late mother’s pride in her affair with a golf memorabilia salesman, and his father’s descent into a very foul-mouthed form of dementia.

We caught up with David and asked him about parenting, feminism and joking about dementia – and what advice he could offer beleaguered York City fans…

‘The show unlocks something in people’

‘It is not just OK to laugh, it’s necessary’
What prompted you to mine your family for comic material?
One thing that happens when people die – or in my dad’s case, get dementia – is they start getting erased into this bland niceness. I thought that’s the wrong way of remembering people. So I start to put together a show built around stories about my parents, and these are all very true stories about how mental they were – and how out there they were.

It’s really no-holds barred. It talks about my mum’s affair with that she had with a golfing memorabilia salesman. It talks about my dad’s excessive commitment to swearing. Parenting as far as we understand it was not a word in their vocabulary. And the show is a celebration of that – a celebration of how badly they parented me.

What do you think your mum and dad would think about the show?
I definitely do not think my mum is looking down on me because I’m a fundamentalist atheist and I do not believe in any form of afterlife, so I’m not worried about that.

I do talk towards the end of the show very much about what both my parents would think if my mum could come to the show because she wasn’t dead, or if my dad could come to the show and understand it if he didn’t have dementia. And it’s complicated.

The show is 90 per cent funny and sometimes cringey and shocking. But it’s also quite complicated about emotionally where it takes the audience.

I do think that once your parents have died or have lost their memory then it is up to the children to tell the story. I try to be as true as I can.

And at the same time I’m very convinced, particularly in my mother’s case, because she was very happy to tell people and was rather proud of this affair – and also just generally liked being in the spotlight – that she would have loved being in this show.

A stand-up is being sued by her ex-husband for defaming him in her act. Does that worry you?
It worries me a bit. I doubt it’s ever going to stop me doing what I do. In a larger artistic sense, the comedy of stand up in its purest form should be a man or a woman standing on stage talking about their innermost life. It’s the art form that allows that more than anything else.

If you were worried all the time whilst telling those stories that all the other people who might ever have been in your life might sue you then I think it would be very complicated.

What sort of reaction has the show had?
I’ve been doing this show for a while. It does go very deeply into what a lot of people would think of as stuff that should be brushed under the carpet and it doesn’t – it completely lifts up the carpet.

But no one’s really got offended by it – including my brothers and other people who knew my parents because it’s sort of a celebration.

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/brG5DVV2F9k” title=”David Baddiel Remembers His Mum’s Funniest Moments” /]

Does your ‘over-sharing’ help others open up?
The great thing from my point of view of doing the show is that it unlocks something in people. Suddenly when they meet me afterwards they want to tell me about their family.

One person told me that for years when he was a kid he would go on holiday with his mum and dad and brothers and sisters – but there would always be this other bloke there. He was told at the time he was an uncle.

But in fact it was a bloke that they were having a menage a trois with for two weeks every year in Llandudno, or wherever they went. He said, ‘I’ve never told anyone this before’ – I thought it’s amazing you’re telling me, but it’s because the show creates a liberated atmosphere.

Is it right to make jokes about something like dementia?
Dementia is awful but it does have some funny aspects to it. And that’s another thing the show completely promotes – that it is not just OK to laugh, it’s necessary. It’s part and parcel of getting through it.

And you’re not laughing at anyone by doing that. What you’re laughing at to some extent is dementia. And that’s always our best response I think with things that are most awful in life.

As someone who often examines masculinity, what’s your take on the #MeToo movement and what prompted it?
All that stuff – #MeToo and #TimesUp – is an incredibly necessary corrective to a power abuse that’s been going on, not just in Hollywood, but in all sorts of industries, all sorts of cultures.

One of the weird things about me is I am, I think, very masculine, very interested in what it means to be male – but without any doubt I am and have always been a feminist. I think the more secure you are in your maleness, the easier it is to be a feminist.

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/RJqimlFcJsM” title=”Baddiel & Skinner & Lightning Seeds – Three Lions” /]

Finally, do you have any advice for fans of York City, now languishing in National League North?
To your readers I’m going to come across as a terrible Chelsea fan here. But I didn’t even know there was a National League North. It sounds like something from the 1890s.

But all I can say is, go and listen to Three Lions and replace the word ‘England’ with the word ‘York’. Because Three Lions is a song about knowing that things are probably going to be bad and hoping somehow that they might not, and there’ll be a return to the glory days.

But I don’t quite know what those are for York City…