Five minutes in converation with… stand-up comedian Rob Beckett
Next he continued to tickle our funny bones with the help of friend and long-time collaborator Romesh Ranganathan on Rob and Romesh Vs – before recently announcing his latest project, Rob Beckett’s Undeniable. A Comedy Central panel show which sees him discovering facts that sound almost too absurd to be true.
With Google on standby, we find out more about the show – and those viral Euro 2020 Instagram videos, from the Mottingham-born stand-up himself.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT ROB BECKETT’S UNDENIABLE?
Imagine QI but funny. I’m joking. Well, it’s basically like QI but a bit more chilled, a bit more relaxed. I don’t really know what most of the facts are, we’re learning together and it’s really just great prep for a stag-do that might be low banter, because you can take these facts with you and just dish them out left, right and centre. It feels like being in a pub with your mates on a Saturday afternoon and someone saying something and then calling them out, and then it descends into an argument.
WHICH TOPICS DO YOU ENJOY TACKLING THE MOST?
I know a lot about what I know, which is obviously football and comedy, because that’s what I’m into. So for me it was like going back to school. I didn’t learn anything at school – I just learnt how to avoid a fight. That’s all I learnt. Going to school in south-east London, you don’t learn at school, you survive school. So, for me, I quite like getting those little bits of information.
DO YOU NOW FIND YOURSELF THROWING OUT RANDOM FACTS TO ANYONE THAT WILL LISTEN?
I’ve got a five-year-old and a three-year-old. Because she’s been to school for a year now, she genuinely thinks she knows everything that’s ever been taught. So, no one really listens to me at home. I save my talking for going to work.
YOU’RE BACK ON TOUR, HOW HAS PERFORMING LIVE FELT AFTER LOCKDOWN?
[Audiences] do seem way more up for it. I don’t know if I’ve got better or their expectations are lower. So we’ll have to see how this proceeds over the next few months. But it’s lovely just seeing people out… As much as people can watch shows and stream, there’s nothing like the live environment and I think that’s what I try and encapsulate whenever I do a TV show.
IMPROVISED OR SCRIPTED COMEDY – WHAT IS YOUR PREFERENCE?
Some semi-scripted stuff is good, but I like stuff that’s happening and is real – that’s why I love Gogglebox, it’s real. The car scenes in Rob and Ramesh are real. We don’t plan any of that, it’s just us chatting. And in [Undeniable] it’s just happening; there’s not loads of pre-production, I haven’t got loads of pre-prepared jokes. I love real moments… And also, I don’t like working too hard, do you know what I mean? I used to work at a flower market, I don’t want to be mucking about writing things for weeks on end.
HOW DID YOU FIND LOCKDOWN ON THE WHOLE?
When you’re from a working class background, you have this poverty mindset where you think money’s a certain amount and the tap can be switched off. So you’re like ‘get it in before I get cancelled’, before they say ‘actually, you’re not that funny’, because I didn’t have much self worth. I just thought I was lucky and it was a hobby that got out of hand. My greatest fear was everything stopping, all work stopping, my tour stopping. And then that sort of happened in lockdown. And actually, out of that came more Rob and Ramesh, the Parenting Hell podcast which is mega – it’s the biggest podcast in the country at the moment. And then I sort of calmed down a bit, just enjoyed myself and I stopped sort of working on fear, and actually started working on what got me into it in the first place which was the joy and the passion of doing it.. That’s why I started comedy, I have fun on stage.
WE CAN’T NOT ASK ABOUT YOUR INSTAGRAM VIDEOS DURING THE EUROS, WERE YOU HAVING THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE?
I think I was just enjoying myself… I went to the football and I just got drunk and it was really good for me in a way because I didn’t second-guess what I should be putting out. It wasn’t, ‘Oh my god, I shouldn’t put that, what if someone sees me drunk? I might not get on telly!’. I just stopped running on fear and engaged in the moment which was me at the football. And then I think it struck a chord because it was so honest.
WE ENJOYED THE HONESTY – AND THE VIDEO OF YOU EATING CHICKEN…
I think sometimes in TV and in the media, everyone’s giving them a version of themselves – and I’d certainly been doing that for 10 years, but I feel like I’ve turned the corner slightly. And I’m now just giving you who I really am, which was on the Instagram video which actually people preferred than the person I was creating to a point. But the thing is, that is something I do; I will occasionally get smashed and eat chicken on the floor. And I don’t there’s anything wrong with that – if it’s done sensibly.
Rob Beckett’s Undeniable airs on Comedy Central tomorrow, 9pm
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