Published on February 12th, 2014 | by admin
Karl Pilkington Interview … The Moaning of Life Part 1 (Karl on burnt pizza, being a celebrity and death)
Welcome to Impulse Gamer Karl! How are you going?
I’m doing alright, just working my way through all these interviews.
So what time is it in the UK now? About 7pm?
Yeah it’s quarter past seven so I’ll get these interviews done and then have some tea and what’s its names on tonight, Midsomer Murders. Do you get that down there?
We sure do Karl, I didn’t picture you a fan?
I am and I’ll watch that as I’m looking forward to it.
What about tea Karl? What are you having tonight and who’s cooking? You or Suzanne?
No, she’s at a mates tonight so I’m just going to have some turkey sandwiches. I had a pizza at lunch time and made a mess of that. She sort of gets me stuff that I can easily make because I’m not that good at cooking. So she just got me pizza before that’s called a Sloppy Giuseppe but I burnt it. It’s a wreck and I know what you have to do. You shove them in the oven for half an hour but it came out looking like a giant scab… you know before it’s about to fall off. I ate it you know, it fills me up but I’m not that good on my own.
That’s no good Karl. So is Suzanne having something really nice tonight then?
Probably take away or something but I don’t mind. You know she has a hard time sometimes so I’ll let her have a nice night.
You’ve been travelling abroad for so long now so it’s probably fair?
Yeah. You know she’s probably the one who persuaded me to do it because I wasn’t that up for it when the idea for Idiot Abroad came up in the beginning. I was like, I don’t want to travel about and she knows I really don’t like going on holidays but she said this was the chance of a lifetime and you’d see things you wouldn’t normally see and all that.
And then she’s like, I wish I could go and then when she saw the places I stayed, she went a bit quiet and never asked again. But you know, she’s been about though because she used to work for the BBC so she’s seen a lot of these places but they stayed in nicer hotels. So her experiences of these places aren’t quite the same as she wasn’t doing Sumo wrestling when she was in Japan. It’s just different experiences and places.
Like it or not, you’ve become a celebrity from An Idiot Aboard. How does it feel being a celebrity?
I haven’t really… I don’t know what that means. I mean just the word itself doesn’t make sense. If that was on my passport I’d be depressed if it said Karl Pilkington Celebrity. I don’t know what it means, has it always been around? Or is celebrity a new word because we can’t think of a proper title for people who are on the telly because they haven’t got a skill. So you just put celebrity because it’s easier. Just give them that title because they can’t actually do anything else. So for me when I picture that word, it’s just someone who goes on the telly if they get the opportunity or the ones who are invited to premiers, cinemas and want to get their heads in the paper and all that. It’s not me.
The reason I do it because it’s a job. I’ve worked as a printer, I’ve worked in supermarkets, I’ve laid turf, I got a job in radio you know… that was good and then I fell into all this by accident and it’s well paid but I don’t like being away from home which is the worst thing about it but at least when I am at home, I can sleep at night because I’ve paid me bills. And for me, that’s what it’s all about, all the other stuff that comes with it is just fluff. There aren’t any good perks.
Like yesterday, I was having one of those days and going through my bank statement and looking at direct debit and seeing my phone bill. I thought I could save some money and call around and get a better plan. When you call and they find out who you are, they’re puzzled that I’m arguing over five quid. But the thing is, just because you earn a bit more money doesn’t mean you want to waste it and he’s having a laugh. I’m like why do you think I want to waste money? I’m not going to have it forever and my 15 minutes of fame is going to be over and I’m left with what I got. You got to look after what you got haven’t you?
So what was the question again?
How does it feel to be a celebrity?
The only difference for me is that more people in the street will say hello to me now than before I did it all. It’s harder to get a deal, it’s harder to get a bargain. I remember going to a plumber to get a plumbing kit for the sink and he wanted to charge 26 quid but I wanted it for 22. Again, you can’t get the deal. Do you get that program down under Antiques Road Trip?
Yeah, we get Antiques Road Trip in Australia.
It’s full of celebrities going into antique shops getting money off and you can do it when you have a camera crew behind you but you do it without a camera, they give you nothing off. So for me, the best part of life is when you get a good bargain. That’s what cheers me up. People say you’re always moaning and ask me what makes me happy? It’s brilliant when you get a few quid off something because you’ve not been ripped off.
You said earlier that you like staying at home so what made you put on your travelling boots again and be part of THE MOANING OF LIFE?
Like I say, it’s a job but it’s what I do now you know? It’s what I’ve done for the last four years and it’s better this time around because Ricky and Steve were not involved and annoying me. It was a more decent experience as I wasn’t always on edge and looking over my shoulder thinking what have they set up for a laugh. Someone said in an earlier interview what’s the difference? There were bits of it that were alright for An Idiot Abroad but there was always a little niggle there in the back of my mind what’s going to happen next? I could be having a nice day but I’m always thinking that there was something that could change that. It was like having a nice walk in the park but with a pebble in your shoe. It was that little thing there that is taking the fun out of it.
So with this, there was none of that really, no nasty surprises. It was looking at life’s sort of big topics… I know it’s not done in a thorough way as this isn’t David Attenborough or some other scientist but at the end of the day, its topics are interesting. You know I’m quite interested in why people do the things they do and that’s what it is, it’s looking at marriage which I’ve never thought being important and how people get happiness in life with different cultures around the world and why people have kids. I haven’t got kids and I’ve been with Suzanne for 20 years. It’s kind of the things I would be talking about even if I wasn’t making a TV program, you know it’s interesting.
I’d still rather be at home but it was still interesting.
So Karl, did you come up with the topics in THE MOANING OF LIFE?
No, it’s the same sort of director producer bloke who did Idiot Abroad because I’ve probably been moaning about some of these topics throughout the other series. You know we use to film a lot of stuff, just because we’d be filming all day and I would be talking about all different things. He sort of picked up on the fact that I talked about a lot of these big issues throughout the other trips which never went in the program because the topic didn’t suit, do you know what I mean? He always liked it all but they just never used it.
You know everything was like a two minute segment on me doing some sort of wrestling or 2 minutes of me trying to eat a toad and loads of other stuff that didn’t get used. So yeah, he sort of came up with it and I was like yeah, I like those topics and that was it.
The series was broken down into Marriage, Happiness, Kids, Vocation & Money and Death. So let’s talk about “death”. When you were in Ghana what inspired you to make the Twix coffin?
It just happened there and then. Have you seen the Death episode yet?
I sure did, it was great and also a little disturbing!
Honestly that’s my favourite trip I’ve ever done and deaths just an interesting topic anyway. With the coffin thing, I just went in there to have a look at the different designs and Eric who ran the gaff said, what would you have and I went off and thought about it? He was like saying most people would have something to do with life like related to their work and he suggested a suit case as I travel a lot. I was like I don’t want to be in a suitcase… and he was like what do you like? I like a bit of chocolate and I thought Twix so I nipped back and got a Twix. I ate one on the way back which is two chocolate bars and I was like yeah, two chocolate sticks, two people, me and Suzanne.
The funny thing was, I gave him the Twix wrapper and he was like yeah yeah I can make that and I was like this isn’t going to get used with all the other designs of the coffins and he took my mobile number. He sent a photograph of the Twix half made and it was like all wood and I thought not a bad effort but it’s not going to be in the program or anything and then he sent another one probably about a week and a half later.
It was a long trip as I went all over the place from Ghana down to Taiwan then to the Philippines. It was a long one that and normally I do it in about 9 days but this was like 2 weeks and he sent the photograph of the Twix coffin and I couldn’t believe it… I could not believe it and it sort of made it into the program because at the beginning it was just going to be the black car that bloke made for his dad or the crab for the old woman. You know like a lot of things in life, you just come up with an idea and sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re not and it’s amazing isn’t it? He’s done such a good job at it.
Yeah, it’s amazingly good. Have you thought about brining Eric to the UK so you could open up your own coffin business?
I tell you what, he does a lot over there and even though it’s cheap, it seems cheap to us, he’s still making a lot of money over there because they celebrate death in a different way so he’s got a good business over there. So here, people are funny, I mean are they going to have a crab coffin for little granny Elsie. For some reason there’s a lot of worry about it over here and people would say it’s disrespectful.
I mean what’s so good about being in this faceless box that looks like every other box? You know… why not have a good send off and it’s a talking point isn’t it? If you’re at a funeral and when a hearse goes down the road and you look in the back of it… I don’t know why they bother having glass windows because it’s always the same wooden box. I mean what’s the point?
If a truck went down the road and had an eight foot crab and you’re like what’s that? And they go, it’s Nora she died and they’re like why is she in a crab and they say, oh she loved crabs did she? You find out about people because you’re saying something about them, even though they’re dead. I don’t think we’ll ever get to that point because for some reason we like to walk around, mope and cry, whereas over there it’s like a proper celebration of your life and what you’ve done with it.
I’ve never been to a funeral over here as I’ve always avoided them really because they’re a bit moody. I don’t want to be there, I’ll just keep my memories of that person in my head because I don’t need to see them in a faceless box. I mean if it was a bit more of a laugh or a celebration thing then there’s more chance of me going. You know, I don’t like getting carried away or going out and being social that much anyway but if I had to, this seems more attractive to me instead of standing around moping, muttering to each other, eating dried sandwiches, so each to their own and everything but for me, that’s what I prefer.
I think that’s a great philosophy Karl! Also in the death episode, you helped get a lady called Comfort ready for her funeral in Ghana. At first you seemed quite spun out when you first started putting the make up on this dead woman and then [no pun intended] you became quite comfortable?
It was weird you know and I wasn’t the only one. I remember the sort of producer called Richard and I remember his face that he was in shock. I was thinking what is going on here and how can this go on the telly? There’s a dead women in the corner with a couple of flies on her and that, I’ve never seen a dead person before and I really had to get involved and help out by putting the makeup on, and was like this is mental. But the bloke whose job it is to do to the makeup on the dead bodies, his nickname was the iceman, once I left him to sort of do the job properly and when I went back in and saw her, it all made sense. You know that bit when she sat in the corner?
Yeah, how could I forget?
Well they put the dead body in a pose of the thing that she did when they were alive and she use to flog some sort of veg called kinki, they propped her up by a table and put that fruit and veg thing there. The family then went in to pay their respects and put money in her hand as she was still alive and just doing her job what have you. I kind of understood that and it wasn’t weird, she wasn’t dead anymore even though I haven’t met her, it was like… I knew what she was like as a person because she was in the same surroundings when she was alive. Do you know what I mean?
It’s that thing again, being a dead body on the floor you could be anyone and you don’t know anything about that person. You could be a slab of meat at the butchers, where when she was done up at the table doing the thing, it wasn’t morbid. It didn’t shock me anymore… it was like oh yeah, there’s Comfort so it felt like I knew her. I mean it’s a funny episode and that some people are like that’s outrageous you know, they can’t handle it, whereas other people are like yeah, that’s really good and that maybe we are a bit old fashioned in the way we treat death and the way we don’t talk about it.
I mean it’s funny that I haven’t been to a funeral but there was this young lad there who I was talking to who was only about 17 and he been to about 15 or 16 funerals. Because there around death more, to them it’s no big deal and it’s the sort of thing that happens every weekend. They’re going to a funeral and they see it as a social gathering. It’s almost like friends reunited, friends ignited, you know being cremated, being buried, it’s what they do every weekend and in a way that’s what brings them together… death.
I suppose there’s less chance of falling out and having arguments when in the corner of the room there’s a person you know whose dead and maybe it just brings you down to earth a bit. It makes you think what’s the point in about worrying things when we’re all going to end up like that.
We don’t like being near it, it’s funny isn’t?
The Moaning of Life is now available on DVD