Limmy: 'I'm more into strange things and madness than jokes'
Ahead of the one-off Limmy's Homemade Show, Brian Limond offers an insight into the 'wee arguments' that fuel his comedy, and why he's had enough of baiting Trump supporters on Twitter
If comedian Brian “Limmy” Limond were to die tomorrow, friends and family would likely describe the Glaswegian as "surprisingly down to earth and VERY funny".
That particular epithet is the line Limmy trots out on Twitter after every celebrity death. The joke is rooted in the fact that the description never changes - it's a cut-and-paste satire of gushing showbiz tributes.
Not that Limond himself is a fan of 'jokes' in the traditional sense.
"I like wee arguments, I’ve never been into jokes," he says. "I'm more into strange things and madness and things escalating and things not really making sense."
Limmy: "No matter where you’re from, you’re going to be laughing about stuff going on around you." (Photo: JP)
Despite the release of two collections of short stories, a return to television this week and a blossoming career as a DJ (he has been invited by Glasgow’s Sub Club to host a techno night) Limond is himself "surprisingly down to earth and VERY funny" during our conversation, turning the darkest of topics into sources of hilarity.
The comedian’s return to the small screen is a treat for his loyal fans, and the one-off Limmy's Homemade Show for the BBC takes inspiration from the pint-sized, homespun sketches originally featured on his website Limmy.com and more recently exhibited on Twitter, YouTube and Vine, the now-defunct video app.
"I wanted to go back to where it all began," Limond says, putting on the voice of a seasoned, elderly Scot.
As ever, the comedian’s blend of the everyday and surreal is sublime, featuring Fifers fretting over Ouija boards, a confrontation with a tiler and techno-drenched nursery rhymes.
Limond explains that he found the creative process liberating.
"I loved doing stuff in Limmy’s Show, but this time I enjoyed getting a camera and making stuff up, partly knowing what I’m going to be doing and partly not knowing what I’m gonna be doing,” he explains.
"You can’t do that if it’s something professional because everyone is waiting and everything is time constricted."
Though many of the characters and sketches featured in Limmy’s Show have been absorbed into Scottish culture, Limond admits that his Homemade Show is a more polished and streamlined affair.
“Sometimes there were certain things in Limmy’s Show where I’d be having to come up with six episodes and as a result there was stuff in there that wasn’t my favourite and I’d think, ‘ach I’ll shove that in this episode’.
“But with this it’s just one episode and I’d already come up with loads of stuff, and I could bin the stuff that I didn’t like.”
Limond is currently writing an autobiography (Photo: JP)
Limond’s brand of humour is niche, dwelling on the strangeness and madness in everyday life. He describes it himself as “weird, thoughtful and not particularly funny”.
“Madness” has been a constant in Limond’s work. In one online sketch the comedian portrays a bank robber who misidentifies his mother, shoots her and promptly loses the plot. The sketch ends with Limond breaking character and near-crying with laughter. It’s dark, and ludicrous. But it’s also hilarious.
Limond is currently working on an autobiography which explores his own run-ins with “madness” - or, as he puts it, “losing the plot” and “being a weirdo”.
He is the first to admit that his humour isn’t to everyone’s taste, and explains that he struggles not to trivialise serious topics.
“In my book I talk about stuff like cutting my wrists and feeling suicidal and wanting to jump in the Clyde, and alcoholism. Things like that, how you cope with being bored out of your nut because you don’t drink and you don’t take anything any more, and you’re going out of your f***ing mind.
“I don’t find any of that stuff upsetting, if anything I find it f***ing funny. One of the problems I’ve got is that I love joking about wanting to top myself.”
Making light of the bleakest situations is a tactic that Limond hasn’t always employed.
“Early on in my life I used to be sensitive and I used to think it would be better if the world was a certain way. I was a vegetarian for a year because I saw these pictures and stuff like abattoirs and then after a year I thought, f*** it.
“If you’re working in a mortuary you just learn to distance yourself from it all, because the horror’s constant.”
The cult character of Dee Dee in Limmy's Show (Photo: BBC)
'There’s lots of Glaswegians who haven’t got that sense of humour'
Quizzed on whether this “gallows humour” is a Caledonian trait, Limond is reluctant to agree.
“You hear people talking about a Scottish sense of humour, or a Glaswegian sense of humour, all sorts of countries and cities think that they’ve got this thing that they’re funny.
“I read about the Liverpudlian sense of humour and I was like, ‘Aye? What’s that then?’ You get that and you especially hear about a dark Glaswegian sense of humour.
“I think no matter where you’re from, you’re going to be laughing about stuff going on around you.
“You’re going to be laughing about the state of your area. You’re going to be laughing about 'thing-a-me-bob' that you know getting stabbed. You’re going to be making a joke about that. You’re not going to be going ‘this is so terrible’.
“But there’s lots of Glaswegians and lots of Scots who haven’t got that sense of humour. There’s plenty of people that I’ve met who will shake their head at that kind of humour. Especially online, someone will criticise what you’ve said and you’ll see that they’re from Glesga.”
'I used to say things online because I was bored'
Being a prominent figure on Twitter means that Limond naturally gets his fair share of flak.
Pleasing everyone is impossible, he explains: “The internet, it brings all these senses of humour and non-senses of humour together.”
“I think people think that on Twitter we’ve all got to get on and we’ve all got to be considerate, as if someone is in the same room at the same time and can all overhear each other.”
Despite deliberately drawing the ire of Trump supporters and fans of Chris Brown in the past, Limond has largely downed his tools as a professional troll.
His tendency to wind up people on Twitter was largely down to boredom. “Before I went on anti-depressants, I used to be quite angry and fidgety and wanting a buzz and not really knowing what to do.
“I used to say things because I was bored and I wanted a thrill. I’d bait people. But these days I don’t bother, I don’t even bother with Trump supporters now.”
"There’s plenty of people that I’ve met who will shake their head at that kind of humour" (Photo: JP)
Limond has been open about his use of anti-depressants in the past, talking candidly about his struggle with mental illness. The Twitter discussion has often spilled onto his book tours, where fans with similar issues have thanked him for his openness.
The comedian details his journey on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs]. “That’s five years now [since I came off them]," he says.
"They don’t work for everybody and they can make you worse. But it just gave us this time to see how I could be and see how happy I was.
“When I was on the pills I didn’t care as much, I put things in their proper place. I wasn’t in a trance not caring about anything that happens, I was more proportionate, more happy.
“I was giving the right time to negative things rather than just thinking bad, bad, bad.”
Limond concludes the chat by discussing the damaging stereotypes attached to the pills which helped turn his life around.
“The way people talk about it, it sounds like you’re ‘eckied’ or something. Is it really you? Is it really you? What does it actually feel like?
“If you’re on these pills and you’re at a funeral for your family who have died in a plane crash are you just happy as larry?”
He breaks into laughter at the thought of it. It's almost like he's talked himself into a Limmy sketch.
Limmy's Homemade Show is on BBC 2 Scotland on Thursday (5 April) at 10pm, and on the iPlayer after