Trigger Happy-go-lucky Dom on the run

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TO say Dom’s reputation precedes him is something of an understatement.

THERE seems to have been a distinct lack of a game plan where Dom Joly’s life is concerned.

But his knack for randomness has served him well, counting as he does one of the most successful comedy shows of the last 10 years amid his triumphs.

Then even that came about by accident.

“I did it all the wrong way round,” he ponders now. “You’re supposed to do stupid stuff first then kind of grow up, but my 20s were vaguely serious.

“I loved being in Parliament and the buzz of that but I’m not so driven so I sent my CV off to the production company that was making the Mark Thomas Comedy Product.

“That was the first show before Michael Moore or Chris Morris taking on MPs. They took me on as a political researcher but they had no budget and on the first day needed someone to drive a tank through a McDonald’s drive-thru so I went ‘I’ll do that’.

“And that was it – I thought ‘I can’t believe you get paid to do this’. It lit the touchpaper for realising I like fronting people up.”

So over pub chats the initial shoots of Trigger Happy sprouted, a show of rapid fire sketches that among other things sent up celebrities and had Joly shouting ‘hello’ into a giant mobile and impersonating a traffic warden who gave parking tickets to motorists stuck in traffic and a street cleaner.

“Weirdly I saw the street cleaner today and he’s still doing the same patch. Our offices were right by him and he had a great three weeks afterwards and became quite famous, then he got really fed up with it. I think people have left him alone now so it’s all right.”

A kind of drastically updated version of ’70s show Candid Camera, the pranks and skits, backed by some of Joly’s favourite, often sad, music went on to screen in 70 countries and shift a million DVDs.

“It was insane, especially as it was the first thing I did on telly. It’s only now I’m aware of how lucky and fortunate you are to get something like that.

“But we didn’t really have a plan, we just knew what we liked sand didn’t like.

“I just like chucking this surreal mix into people’s day and the music too was just because it’s what I like.

“It was all like a work of love.

“We’d spend a year on each series, every day getting up, getting dressed as milkmen and approaching strangers.

“Then we just didn’t want to do it any more.

“There’s a part of me which likes stopping things when they’re ready and part of me gets bored easily.

“In hindsight I should have said I’d do another one in three years time ‘and in the meanwhile I’m gonna go and do weird things’.”

Good Job Daredevil Dom Likes A Crack

TO say Dom’s reputation precedes him is something of an understatement.

Which is why we took his claim to have broken his foot on a BBC show with the prospect of doing his tour in a wheelchair with a pinch of salt.

“I’ve broken four metatarsals,” he says. “I was trying to show off to my kids by doing Total Wipeout and it didn’t work out too well.

“I was going to Antarctica to do something and out of the blue I got a call asking me if I was a fan of the show. It’s like all my kids watch so I thought ‘Great, they’ll pay half my way to Antarctica, also I can, for the first time ever, do something my kids actually like or understand’.

“I got over the big red balls but then I broke four metatarsals. So there’s my pitch, I’m a stand up who sits down.”

Last Saturday he appeared to be mobile again when appearing on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen – his plaster replaced by a special boot.

Either way on June 12 he’ll be at Sheffield Memorial Hall followed on June 22 by Buxton Opera House and July 21 at The Winding Wheel, Chesterfield.

Life since Trigger Happy has been varied, with Dom doing everything from travel writing for national newspapers to living as a paparazzi for a show and entering ‘the jungle’ on Get Me Out Of Here.

Hence the tour. “I’ve done 10 years of being famous and doing all these different things and I’ve got thousands of photographs my wife refuses to look at because she’s angry I go off travelling without her.

“I’ve got loads of odd clips so it’s kind of like a ‘show and tell’ and because I’m in a wheelchair it’s going to be a disabled man showing you his ‘holiday snaps’, but I hope it’ll be a bit better than that.”

Dom puts his wanderlust down to a Tintin-obssessed childhood in Lebanon where the glamourous people were foreign correspondents and travel writers.

“I loved travelling as a kid. My dad was an amateur archaeologist so travelling was always about odd, slightly difficult places.

“When Trigger Happy happened I started travel writing and they sent me to all sorts of places, but never that dodgy.

“I realised there were all these places I wanted to go to that didn’t have a Starbucks.

“So I chose the six I’ve always wanted to go to and wrote a book about it.”

That included Chernobyl and North Korea before Dom’s travel bug extended to Sky One show Happy Hour, which examined various nations’ relationship with booze.

“Someone asked if I’d got any hobbies and I jokingly said ‘Well, I like a drink’. It was like I’d just split the atom, they were like ‘Brilliant’.

“So I rang my best mate and said ‘Can’t quite believe this, but we’re going round the world getting drunk’.”

It hilariously finished in an Aussie outback bar filled with horses, bikers doing wheel spins and the producer wandering through on the back of a water buffalo.

“I wanted to do another one on drugs called Dom Joly’s Bad Trips but they said no which is probably a good thing.”

One thing Dom did learn on his travels was that he and Osama bin Laden attended the same Lebanese school for a year.

“You can find out more about that when Dom hits the road...if he conquers one of his big fears.

“I can do things dressed as a squirrel and go up to people. It doesn’t bother me - I have a fear gene removed. That doesn’t mean I’m not fearful of being me on stage – that’s probably one of my biggest phobias.

“Some people assume I was a stand up before I did Trigger Happy. I wasn’t. I’ve never done live stuff.

“So it really isn’t a stand up show. It’s more like a ‘Here’s a look at my last 10 years’ or ‘An evening with…’ but a bit more interesting than Tony Benn, hopefully.”