Show me the funny - Limmy interview
After achieving internet notoriety, Glasgow comedian Limmy is about to break through into the big time with his own BBC TV show. Brian Donaldson meets a man on the cusp of something great
Limmy’s problem is that he just thinks too much. ‘I was walking through the Botanic Gardens and starting to just enjoy walking about, doing nothing. I’m not thinking about the past or holding any grudges or thinking should I have done that differently or what will I do tomorrow? But the main problem is that, eventually, I try to form everything I see into tangible ideas: “I like the colours or that pattern there, I could do something with those on my site”. All those things are going round and round and my head is like, “Stop that!” I’m not a mad genius or anything, but I’m just constantly driven to make things up, but I wonder who I’m doing all this for? I’m going to get to my deathbed and look back and think “Well done, you thought and thought and thought and thought and now you’re dead.”’
But Limmy (birthname Brian Limond) has a lot to ponder at the moment. Such as the fact that his career as Scotland’s ‘internet sensation’ has finally led to the realisation of a lifelong ambition. All this noodling about on the web and making up virals and podcasts and creating a bunch of characters under the umbrella of World of Glasgow and taking his humour onto stages for shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and Glasgow Comedy Festival was all fine and well. But what he really, really wanted was to get on the box. ‘The Comedy Unit got in touch with me and I made a DVD from the stuff on my site and they eventually said, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “I want to be on the telly”. And when I was finally told that I had a pilot, it was like my dream had come true.’
That pilot went out in February of last year and was something BBC Scotland, and the Comedy Unit, had never produced before. A darkly surreal set of sketches mainly featuring Limmy himself involved remote torture, a neurotic Glaswegian unable to do a simple thing such as book a taxi, an annoying toddler on a bus and a man in a never-ending loop of waking from a nightmare was complemented by his own irritations with life: the fact that ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ doesn’t technically rhyme and people who call females ‘guys’. Almost a year on and his six-part series will have much more of the same.
‘The “store” thing is really getting to me,’ he says. ‘There was an advert for the Postcode Lottery and the guy is saying “Pick up your application forms from your local convenience store”. Is this Glasgow or Degrassi Street?
‘And I’m also waiting for the day when we start calling taps faucets. I just can’t stop walking around red-faced with anger.’
What also gets on Limmy’s wick are those people (the Daily Mail, right-wing Christians) who are hellbent on setting the agenda when it comes to what we as consumers are allowed to see and comedians as artists are allowed to create. In the back of Limmy’s mind when writing this series was the fact that he was doing it for the BBC and therefore anyone who pays the licence fee might feel the right to get outraged by his show.
‘You know that you can’t get away with anything like if you were on HBO, but I’ve got to the point where I just don’t care and you have to fight back and push in the other direction because otherwise you’ll just conform to what someone else you don’t care about wants. I’m not saying it’s like 1984 but you’re having to think ten steps ahead about the reaction. I think most people like a bit of freedom and hearing things that they might not agree with, rather than just having everybody shutting their mouths.’
Limmy’s Show starts on BBC2, Mon 11 Jan, 10pm.