The world needs a bit more stupid says Ipswich Regent-bound Pasquale
From being stranded in the flooded rainforests of Guyana to being covered in donkey poo in front of James Bond, Joe Pasquale talks to entertainments writer WAYNE SAVAGE about why the world needs a bit more stupid.
I’m starting to worry Joe doesn’t want to speak to me. Last time he went into the Australian jungle for I’m a Celebrity. Now it’s the rainforests of Guyana.
The comedian, coming to the Ipswich Corn Exchange next Friday, was one of eight stars who took part in the new Discovery Channel survival show Alone in the Wild which started last night.
Freddie Flintoff, Jason Gardiner, Chris Ryan, Donal MacIntyre, Aron Ralston, Amy Williams and Tanya Streeter all have to survive with only their cameras for company in some of the planet’s most remote and treacherous wildernesses - from the wildlife-packed plains of Botswana to the isolated desert islands of Belize.
“That was amazing, it should have been ten days in the jungle but because it got flooded we only did a week; it was the worst flooding they’d had in living memory for 85 years,” he says.
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It meant the training he’d got on hunting and catching fish was useless.
“I couldn’t catch anything because all the animals went to ground and all the fish went to deep water so I ate nothing for a week,” he recalls.
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“All they gave me was a pound of this like breakfast stuff that they have out there - it’s like a dried Cadburys smash thing with some root vegetable - to last a week.
“You had to boil it up, but I had no hot water so I had to mix it with cold water and I couldn’t boil the water to kill the parasites so I had a little bottle of iodine I had to mix it with. I had, I would say, a tiny coffee cup every morning of that and that was all I had - I lost a stone in a week.”
It must have been draining?
“Yeah but I’m very much an up person so I was quite excited by the whole event. I don’t get depressed very easily or quickly, there was none of that for me.
“It was quite physically demanding because it was 12 hours a day of like darkness and I had no fire as I said to keep the animals away. All they gave me was a hammock, a mosquito net, tarpaulin to stick over me to use as a roof through a couple of trees, a machete and that was it.
“So of course at night all these animals were coming and climbing about, walking about underneath me hammock and you’d got no idea what it was. It could have been anything, jaguars, snakes, spiders, scorpions, piranha fish, vampire bats. It was probably just a rat but your mind does all sorts of stuff when you’re out there.”
You’ll be able to see for yourself when the show airs on October 19.
Still, his new tour Pull my Finger should be a walk in the park after that. What can fans expect?
“I’ve got plenty of new routines, like Cheese Corner. I found a piece of music on iTunes called Where’s The Cheese Gone and built a routine around it,” he says.
“I put on a hat that looks like it’s made of cheese, play the drums to the song and try to do as many jokes about cheese as I can.
“At the end of the first half I’ll have a cheese box at the front of the stage and people can put their own cheese jokes in it and have them read out in the second half; if you get your joke read out you get a Dairylea triangle - but I won’t be giving them away lightly,” warns Joe.
There will be some old favourites, too.
“Comics can be like when you go to see a band and they play all their new album and not stuff you really like, you come away disappointed.
“It can be the same with comedy; people say ‘’aren’t you doing any magic this year’ or ‘I loved it when you used to sing that song’.
“You’ve got to push yourself and I think the world needs a bit more stupid. It can be an awful place out there these days, with political and financial problems. People want to see a comedy show, not listen to what I think of the government. People want a break from their problems.
“Basically it’s two hours of me doing complete nonsense the whole family can enjoy.”
When we last spoke it was clear being crowned King of the Jungle helped Joe realise he wasn’t scared of anything. He qualified as a pilot to overcome his fear of flying, took up boxing and started an Open University geosciences degree.
This year he ran the London Marathon for Diabetes UK, a charity very close to his heart, in five hours and 22 minutes. Not bad for a man whose only experience of running was from one side of the stage to another during his action-packed performances.
“My knees were killing me; it felt like I had hot needles in them. I was happy to raise the money for Diabetes UK and awareness as well. From my experience with me daughter [waiting for him to pick her up from the clinic as we speak] people need to be educated as there are a lot of people out there who don’t realise they have it.”
Sadly he’ll be too busy touring in a stage production of the 70s TV series and 50s Dirk Bogarde film Doctor in the House to run it again next year.
“I like doing the acting; I don’t do a lot but when I do it’s always nice bits and pieces so I’m looking forward to doing that.”
Joe’s enjoying further education too, having missed a lot after a car accident when he was 13 and leaving school at just 16.
“I’ve spent the past 20 years on the road and wasted my time in the car with Reynard, talking nonsense and playing computer games. Now we get in the car, fill up with petrol and I spend anything from two to eight hours in the car studying.
“Then we’ll get there, set the gear up and I might spend another couple of hours with the books. I might get stuck on something difficult, like physics, and then realise I’ve only got 15 minutes until I go on.
“I think I’ve learnt more in the past two years than in the previous 47. I’ve even started to write a kids’ book about the formation of the moon.
“I’ve got letters after me name now; normally I just have div.”
After so many years in the business, he must get asked for advice a lot?
“I remember one young guy coming up to me when I was doing a pantomime in Southend; he must have been about 15 and I sat down with him for a couple of hours. He said he wanted to get into the business, he could sing and act. I don’t remember what advice I gave him.
“He turned up at one of my gigs a couple of years ago and said ‘do you know me’ and I said ‘course I do, I saw you on the Joseph talent show on BBC1‘. He said ‘no, you don’t remember me before that do you’. It was Lee Mead who won; obviously something I said went in.”
On the subject of embarrassing moments, Joe recalls one New Year’s Eve appearance on Des O’Connor Tonight.
“I think I was on more than any other comic over the years because whenever they had an animal on they’d ask me to go on and I’m happy to do anything and to work without a script.
“They called me up and said ‘we’d like you to come on with a donkey we’ve booked for the show.’ I asked ‘have you got any ideas as to what you want to do with the donkey’ and their response was ‘well, no, that’s why we thought you might come up with something’.
“I called them back an hour later and said ‘why don’t you dress me up as Old Father Time and I’ll come in on the donkey’. So I turn up and they dress me in this long white sackcloth tunic, with long white hair and a beard.
“Des had a big star guest on - I think it may have been Tom Jones - and the production team said I should just go on whenever I liked with the donkey because Des trusted me to do that kind of ad-libbing.
“So I’m out of shot on camera, but the audience can see me and the donkey on the side of the set and they start laughing.
“The donkey won’t move because the floor’s all shiny and slippery. So I tried to push it across the studio - with the audience laughing at something viewers at home couldn’t see - with the donkey making a right racket.
“Of course, the worst happens and the donkey s***s every where, all over me and there’s nothing I can do but try to get off fast.
“So I’m in the green room, dressed as Old Father Time and covered in donkey crap and Pierce Brosnan, who’s a guest on the show, comes in. I wave at him and he comes over and I introduce myself and say ‘how you doing’.
“I’m in the make-up chair and he puts his hands on my shoulders and says in my ear ‘I’m doing a lot better than you, you smell of donkey s***’. That was a highlight for me.”