Joe Lycett: ‘I’m being ghosted by Peppa Pig’

The comedian, 33, talks about funny anger, homophobic hecklers, selling soffits and his trouble with Heinz pasta shapes

Anger is a funny emotion. That’s how I accidentally got my consumer show. In my stand-up set, I’d read out my complaint letters. My genuine fury about minor injustices got laughs. It grew from there. Basically, a parking fine in York ended up making me loads of cash. It’s paid for itself many times over.

I learned to make pasta in lockdown. I did all the bread-baking clichés too – banana bread, soda bread, sourdough – but pasta was my great victory. I got really good at it, as my waistline will attest. Except for ravioli. My meaty parcels kept falling open.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. That’s what my mum said when I was first on TV and got some horrible tweets. It was tough love, reminding me that I chose this career.

Fame has calmed me. I used to be terribly irritating at parties, trying to be the funny one. Now I just think: “If you want to see me perform, Google it.”

I was nearly sick over Lorraine Kelly. I’ve had stage-fright my entire career, but I enjoy nerves. They’re a source of potential energy. But in recent years, I’ve also been having anxiety attacks. The last one was on Lorraine Kelly’s show. My throat closed up and I felt like I was going to vomit. Ten seconds before we went on-air, I convinced myself: “I’m going to be sick on live telly. Lorraine’s going to get a faceful of Bran Flakes.” But when we went live, I suddenly became totally serene.

Homophobic heckles are the worst. At one of my early gigs in Burnley, there was one guy being repeatedly vile. I ended up sitting on his knee and giving him a lapdance to teach him a lesson. I wouldn’t get away with that nowadays because I didn’t ask for consent.

Make things. Anything. Write, paint, cook a nice dinner. That’s what restores me and brings me solace.

The worst job I ever did was in a call centre, selling soffits and guttering. You had to follow a soul-destroying script. They’d say, “Hello?” and based on that, you had to ask: “Is that the man of the house?” or “Is that the lady of the house?” Invariably I got it wrong and offended them. Gender’s a construct anyway, so it’s a silly question.

I’ve been in therapy for three years, on and off. When I have bouts of stuff, I go and see her. It’s great. I recommend it to everyone. Once, my therapist asked: “What’s the thing you fear most? Whatever it is, you’ve got to do it.” I said: “Driving over a child.” She said, “Don’t do that!” Don’t kill a child to solve your anxiety. It’ll just produce other anxieties.

I’ve always preferred the company of those older than me. At school, I hung out with sixth formers and tried to befriend the teachers. Even now, lots of my friends are older. Maybe it’s a power thing. Older people get shit done.

I retreat when people get too close. Philippa Perry wrote a beautiful, tender article [in this magazine] recently, describing the three types of attachment style. There’s stable attachment, anxious attachment and avoidant attachment. I’m definitely the latter. I was like, “Oh shit, there I am.” I’d like to work on that, so I don’t die alone.

I’m being ghosted by Peppa Pig, which is a new low. I’ve written to her several times about the labelling on her Heinz pasta shapes but she won’t reply. That pig won’t engage. She’s really fucking me off, actually.

Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back airs Thursdays at 8pm on Channel 4


Michael Hogan

The GuardianTramp

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