Lee Mack is a stand up comedian and actor. He is probably best known for writing and playing the lead in the sitcom ‘Not Going Out’ and his regular appearances on a variety of panel shows such as ‘QI’ and as a team captain on ‘Would I Lie To You?’ He embarks on a new live tour of the UK in 2014.
The most amazing scientific discovery, I think it’s probably the Müller Corner yoghurt.
On science at school
I was terrible in science at school, my son is now obsessed with science and so he will ask me questions that I should know the answer to, like, you know, which is the furthest planet from the Earth, stuff like that, and I never get it right and so I sort of have to slightly lie and pretend I know the answer. I’m the kind of father that will say…he’ll say, what’s the furthest planet from the sun? And I’ll say Mars, and he’ll say, no it isn’t, and I’ll say, ha, yes it is. Just say it with that wise confidence. He knows who’s the boss but he’s really thick, that’s the problem now because he thinks I’m telling the truth.
On learning science from his child
Favourite fact, well he tells me things, he likes to tell me how people can die in horrible ways, so he’ll tell me things like…I think he makes them up but he’ll say things like, if you take a tablespoon full of bicarbonate of soda, mix it with vinegar and then eat it, then you’ll blow up. And then as I’m walking away I’ll say things like, I think you have to be sat on a bomb, things like that.
On amazing scientific discoveries
The most amazing scientific discovery, I think it’s probably the Muller Corner yoghurt, you know, the idea that you can keep it separate and yet still have it all under one roof, I mean, you know, they must have spent a long, long time trying to get that right because people would say, I like it crunchy, and then I don’t like it crunchy and then somebody went, wait! And then, you know, I don’t need to tell you, history, history was changed that day.
On unnecessary scientific progress
Scientific discovery that I think is a complete waste of time, that would be the Earth is round. I think that was a little bit of a waste of time because, you know, why do we need to know that really? We take it for granted now that we need to know it but actually everyone was ticking along fine, it wasn’t causing any problems was it? No one was like…I don’t think anyone set off in one direction and ended up back at home and went I don’t understand this, I walked in a straight line. It was not cropping up as a problem so why rock the boat? Why don’t we just keep things as they are? I don’t like change. I must be very old if I remember this particular era. But, yeah, no, the Earth was flat was working fine for many years, why change it ? I’m still a bit, you know, prove it isn’t. Prove it isn’t. It isn’t. Oh right then, well you’ve proved it, well done.
On using the scientific method to craft comedy
Yeah, a lot of comedians will claim that writing jokes is like a scientific process and the reason they say that is because they, like most comedians, are trying to big up the importance they have in life and society in general. The truth of the matter is, you look out your window, an old woman slips on a banana, falls over, you laugh and on stage that’s what you tell everyone, it’s that simple. People like to think, comedians like to think that, you know, by suggesting it’s a more scientific process…I mean, look at that fellow Robin Ince, right, does these science shows, science apps, what he’s basically saying is, I’ve got plans, plans to do bigger things. He’s actually stroking a white cat as you’re looking at this, right? He’s got plans that…he’s above himself, as most comedians are, it’s just that Robin is more above himself than most in terms of how important they think they are as people.
I prefer the Norman Wisdom thing on science which was, Mr Grimsdale. That’s all he ever used to say, wasn’t it? We were all happy weren’t we? The Earth was flat and he used to shout Mr Grimsdale. Now they’re doing shows convincing people that there’s no God! It’s all changed. What happened to quiz shows? Bring back Barrymore, Strike it Lucky!