Part of the Humourology series
Season 3, Episode 66
Cally Beaton – Crushing Corporate and Comedy
Comedian, podcast host, and former entertainment executive extraordinaire Cally Beaton joins Paul Boross on The Humourology Podcast to discuss the ins and outs of both corporate and comedy. Beaton discusses her career in the boardroom and her profession as a pro comedian. Beaton shares the power of humour and how to use listening to unlock your full potential as a leader.
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Cally Beaton joins Paul Boross to discuss her cracking career in corporate to taking comedy worlds by storm. From being an executive at an early age to taking the stage as an award-winning comedian, Beaton knows what it takes to make humour happen.
“I literally don’t think there’s an occasion when you can’t use humour including a eulogy”
Join us as Cally Beaton puts on a masterclass in public speaking and presenting while hearing stories from her time producing at places like MTV, UKTV, and Viacom only on The Humourology Podcast.
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Cally Beaton (00:00:00):
But I think everything you do professionally is about human connection. So I don’t believe when I was bringing in multimillions of dollars of revenue at Viacom. I don’t believe that I was a brilliant negotiator or a brilliant business person. I just knew how to connect with people and they wanted to work with me and or for me, or with me. And that’s the only thing I think I’ve ever been any good at. And I guess that’s what comedians need to do, right? We’ve gotta get on to a stage and connect. So if there’s one thing I hope I know how to do when the wind’s blowing in the right direction, it’s exactly that.
Paul Boross (00:00:35):
Welcome to the Humourology podcast with me, Paul Boross, my glittering lineup of guests from the worlds of business sport and entertainment who are here to share their wisdom and their use of humour with you. Humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve your business success and your life Humourologyputs the fun into business fundamentals increases the value of your laughing stock and puts a punchline back into your bottom line. Please remember to like subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts.
Paul Boross (00:01:11):
My guest on this edition of the Humourology podcast is a perfect fit for our show. She began her career as an entertainment executive for an independent TV company purchased by Carlton Television. She then moved on to play a leading role in some of the most influential companies in entertainment, including MTV, UKTV and Viacom, where she was responsible for getting seminal series like South Park and Sponge Bob Square Pants on the air. However, being a brilliant business person is not all our guest has to offer her award-winning standup comedy has taken the country by storm. When she isn’t leading companies to success or audiences to laughter. You can find her as a frequent guest on shows like BBC’s QI, The Apprentice – You’re Fired and on the radio as a guest on The Museum of Curiosity, The Unbelievable Truth and Saturday Live. Her pithily titled podcast. Namaste Motherfuckers takes a laughter filled look at the intersection between comedy business and life. Cally Beaten. Welcome to the Humourology podcast.
Cally Beaton (00:02:25):
Thank you. I think we should just leave it at the introduction because that was so lovely. I think anything I say is just gonna take the sheen off. So, it’s been nice. Thanks for having me on.
Paul Boross (00:02:34):
<laugh> goodnight. Oh no, it’s lovely to have you on because we’re we sort of realised that we actually have so many people in common and, and with our TV careers and our sort of psychological NLP careers have sort of crossed with the comedy. And so we’ve we know a lot of the same people, but we’ve never properly met. So it’s lovely to meet you
Cally Beaton (00:02:57):
Properly. We might be the same person. It might be like, it might be like Steve Coogan interviewing Alan Partridge. It might just be one of us who knows. Has anyone ever seen us in the same room, Paul? That’s my question.
Paul Boross (00:03:08):
Oh, it’s a good question. And one that our listeners can write in with a postcard at any at any time. I wanted to go back to the start where you were brought up in Dorset. With parents as teachers and was actually humour valued in your family growing up?
Cally Beaton (00:03:30):
Do you know? I don’t ever think of much, you know, some comedians say, oh, it was always like watching comedy on the telly and everyone having a laugh. I mean, we did watch some comedy on the telly, but I wouldn’t say my house was a… it was a loving household, but I wouldn’t say there was a lot of laughter in it. My family are quite intellectual and kind of quite bookish and I wasn’t quite so much like that, but I will say that as you may or may not know, I did go to an all boys school because that was the school my parents taught at. And we lived in the grounds of that school. It was a private school. And so I was educated there. And I will say this, that if you are the only girl in an all boys school at the age of eight and you happen to be overweight with ginger hair, as I was -I’ve still got the ginger hair – and yeah, you kind of do need to develop quite the personality <laugh> to combat a feeling of absolute not belonging. So I think I did develop a sense of humour or certainly a capacity to exude humour as a child. But I wouldn’t say it was because of my family per se.
Paul Boross (00:04:33):
Was that, that the outsider syndrome that we see so much coming from comedians that, you know, obviously the only girl in a boy’s school. Did you think that you already had that show off gene for want of a better word or was there some need for attention or adulation that you realised you had to stand out even at that age?
Cally Beaton (00:04:58):
Well, it’s one hell of a ven diagram, isn’t it? Whatever it is that makes comedians want to be comedians. And as much as we are all obviously different people, I would say that at least 90% of people on the circuit, there’s a big old crossover on the ven diagram of on the one hand self-loathing insecurity and a lack of thinking will I ever be good enough. On the other hand, look at me, look at me, affirm me. So I think you sort of need those two, like a sort of self doubting show off. I think that’s probably what you need to do to be a comedian. So, yeah, and I did used to perform, I think I found it easier being other people than myself there. So I was in all the school plays, even though I was quite insecure off stage and I played musical instruments and I used to play the piano for hours a day, just so I didn’t really have to engage with with people cuz I found it so hard being the girl in that school. So I became a very accomplished pianist only because it was a strategy for avoiding conversation. So I think yeah, I did always perform from young, but it was an escape I suppose, at the time, as much as the need to show off, but maybe a bit of both.
Paul Boross (00:06:02):
Well now you actually do a lot of keynote speaking and you do counselling and, and the coaching as well. I mean, was that you think important to gaining the confidence and the ability to communicate and connect with people?
Cally Beaton (00:06:20):
Yeah. I mean, I guess it goes from both sides, doesn’t it? So on the one hand I could never have become a comedian when I was younger. So I started at the age of 45, which sounds late, although now that I’m a few years on from that, I realise that it wasn’t late, but it took me till then to find my voice enough, to be able to make people laugh on stage. So I wouldn’t have remotely been able to do it in my twenties or thirties. So, my business career and my life to date really informed on my comedy and then the other way around, I think that comedy now absolutely informs everything I do. So I mean, I’m a much, much better keynote speaker than I would be if I didn’t happen to also be a comedian. So I do think that it all, it all absolutely links.
Cally Beaton (00:07:02):
And I guess the bit, and I know, you know, I’m speaking to the Maestro when I say this, but I think everything you do professionally is about human connection. So I don’t believe when I was bringing in multimillions of dollars of revenue at Viacom. I don’t believe that I was a brilliant negotiator or a brilliant business person. I just knew how to connect with people and they wanted to work with me and or for me or with me. And that’s the only thing I think I’ve ever been any good at. And I guess that’s what comedians need to do. Right? We’ve gotta get on to a stage and connect. So, if there’s one thing I hope I know how to do when the wind’s blowing in the right direction, it’s exactly that,
Paul Boross (00:07:39):
Well, you are hiding your light slightly under a bushel with ‘when the wind’s blowing in the right direction’ because, <laugh> honestly, to survive in the worlds you have survived in because you were on the board of directors with David Cameron at CArlton TV and to survive in those worlds and that rarefied air, if you like, you have to have been good at not just connection, but I would’ve presumed instant rapport. So was that something that already you had, or did you develop that over time?
Cally Beaton (00:08:14):
I think I probably have always had a capacity for developing rapport in the short term. I think it took me like many people, you know, you evolve as a human don’t you and most of my really sustaining friendships have, have been ones that started in my thirties or later. So I don’t think I particularly knew how to maintain personal relationships as well as I do now when I was younger. But I certainly knew how to strike up rapport probably in a slightly less authentic way when I was younger, probably lots of jazz hands and reading a room and knowing what people would like to hear from me in order to like me. I’d like to think now I connect from a bit more of an authentic position and perhaps that’s why relationships last in a better, longer way for me. But I think it’s funny cuz I never thought when I was, I was in my early thirties when I was in that boardroom and at the time I didn’t really think about being the youngest person there and the only woman there.
Cally Beaton (00:09:08):
I, I remember someone saying it to me after about a year and me thinking, oh yeah. So I’ve become more aware of those things as I’ve got older, I think at the time I was just desperately fighting imposter syndrome and thinking if I don’t do the wrong thing and if I work really hard, I won’t get found out. So, so yeah, I don’t suppose I’ve ever been very confident in who I am or what I’ve been doing, but perhaps that just means I’m not a narcissist. Maybe that’s a nice thing. Oh,
Paul Boross (00:09:32):
Well it is a NA nice thing. I was gonna say it is a narcissist, but that’s
Cally Beaton (00:09:37):
Wrong. It is a narcissistic thing. I’m a nice narcissist! Peter Piper …
Paul Boross (00:09:43):
<laugh> well, no, that imposter. Syndrome’s always very interesting cuz it comes up. We had Omid Djalili on the show and he said, comedians are people who,
Cally Beaton (00:09:54):
Oh, I love Omid
Paul Boross (00:09:55):
comedians are people who need the laughter of strangers to validate us. We’re all mentally ill. I mean, I do similar things to you, but I get brought to train people how to make their speeches and connect with an audience. But I would say that I don’t know anybody who, isn’t a psychopath, who doesn’t have imposter syndrome. If you don’t have it, you, you are already, you have no self-awareness do you?
Cally Beaton (00:10:26):
Yeah, it’s funny. I watch, um, it’s quite rare, but you sometimes watch comedians, most comedians are very insecure and they’ll come off stage, me included, If there’s one thing that didn’t go well, that’s the thing we’ll remember. So we’ll come off stage going, oh, why did I mess up that joke? Or why did I forget that bit? Or why did I trample over my own applause break. Quite occasionally you will see people who have the other extremes. So you’ll see acts who have an abysmal gig sort of stink out the room, which we all have, by the way. That’s not a judgement on anyone who does that. It’s inevitable. You’ll have those nights but then come off with massive swagger. Not just I’m gonna style this out, but genuinely I think, think they had a good gig and sometimes I’m massively envious of those people.
Cally Beaton (00:11:06):
I think, wow. I would be so much more relaxed if I was that person. And other times I just think I wouldn’t get better if I had a gig like that and thought that was a good gig. I would be ignoring the feedback from the room and it is my belief. And I think most comedians, beliefs that it’s never the audience it’s always you. So you can’t come off and go, oh, well it was a Saturday night and they were really drunk or the lighting wasn’t great. Or the tech guy messed up my microphone at the end of the day, it’s on you really? And yeah, it can not help if things go wrong in the room, but honestly it’s for you to save, make or break the time you’re on stage. So I do see people who, I don’t think have any imposter syndrome and I sometimes am envious, but usually I think, well our learning comes from knowing when the feedback wasn’t so great. Right? And then we’re like, how would you fail better if you didn’t even know you failed. So I’m very aware when I fail, which is frequently and flamboyantly quite a lot of the time.
Paul Boross (00:11:57):
<laugh> I love what you’re saying though, because it chimes with me. We had Dr. Richard Bandler who was the co-developer of the field of NLP. And I know you’ve done some NLP over the years. Yeah.
Cally Beaton (00:12:09):
That’s a good booking. I wouldn’t mind having Richard Bandler and my podcast.
Paul Boross (00:12:12):
Well I know Richard but Richard always says, which chimes with what you just said is the meaning of your communication is the response you get. So you are saying, you know, if, if I stunk out the room, it’s my fault. And I’m always trying to explain that to people that you have to take responsibility. You can’t. I mean, we get a lot of business people living, listening to the podcast, you go into a room and you go, I did a really good pitch, but they were really stupid and they didn’t get it. You’re never gonna learn anything from that, are you?
Cally Beaton (00:12:50):
No, it’s funny, isn’t it? And you, and I will. I mean, you know, as we joked about being the same person, but we’ll have gone through very similar experiences. And usually, I mean, if something’s gonna go wrong, as in some really basic fundamentals, aren’t in a room setup, it’s more likely to happen in a comedy club than it is in a corporate. But I’ve done… I hosted, well, I won’t say who it was for, but I hosted one award show. I do lots of hosting of award shows and I did one where everything that could possibly have gone wrong, went wrong, including the fact that the lapel mic didn’t work, the headset mic didn’t work. And then the handheld battery ran out. And I ended up doing about an hour and a half on stage on and off with no mic.
Cally Beaton (00:13:30):
And at a certain point, you know, my agent said, oh, you should have just left. And I thought, well, first of all, anyone in the room, if I leave is not gonna have any sympathy for the fact that I was left an impossible situation. So everyone in the room will think that was a real prima donna and you ruined our night. But then again, staying, you know, we use our voices, don’t we for a living. So, I mean, that was actually really bad for my voice, let alone anything else. And it is what I… I always get quite, not upset, but I worry if the mic doesn’t work. Cause I can’t strain my voice cuz I’m on stage for a couple of hours every day probably. But even then I had to make the decision. I have decided to stay.
Cally Beaton (00:14:05):
I am in charge of these people’s evening. They’ve all put their hat in the ring for an award. They’re really excited to know if they’re gonna get one. They don’t care if the host has had all these problems. So I have to somehow be gracious and fun and nice to them cuz it’s completely not their fault. And I do think if you have that attitude of humility, if I’m here to make you all feel good, you know, when I MC comedy clubs, if only seven people have turned up cuz it’s Eurovision and the football and I want them to feel amazing that they turned up. I don’t wanna keep saying, oh and of course, you know, there’s no noise in the room cuz only seven of you. I wanna say you are the best seven people in the world for coming here. So I think you are right.
Cally Beaton (00:14:39):
There’s there’s we have to take you. You are never, I think it might be Jo Brand who said it or maybe it was Sarah Millican, but you’re never as good as your best joke or as bad as your… You’re never as good as your best gig or as bad as your worst gig. And I think if you’re willing to take the kind of highs, you’ve gotta be able to take the lows. So somehow it’s on you, isn’t it. And you won’t always be everyone’s cup of tea. But I do think if people… that’s why you’ve got to be agile on stage, right? If all you’ve got your one thing that you say in your one way, well, when the variables creep in, you are not working live, the audience can smell that a mile off and you’ve lost the room.
Cally Beaton (00:15:15):
So I always think, and if you say on stage and you know this better than anyone, if, if something goes terribly wrong and you say something, not disparaging of the people, who’ve got you there, but if you say, well, of course I had all this lovely thing planned, but now this has happened and a bird just pooed on my head and I fell over. So it’s a bit hard to do that. That’s much better than going on and pretending none of that happens. So yeah, I think it’s kind of authenticity and it is yeah. Owning it. It’s like it’s up to you, isn’t it. That’s what we’re paid for.
Paul Boross (00:15:41):
Authenticity and attitude, isn’t it? Because you come to it with the right attitude. I always think that the people who do best have an attitude, I always say that I have an attitude whereby whoever I’m meeting or where, whatever stage I’m on. I’m assuming that everybody in the room is lovely because what’s the alternative, you know? And you sound like mm-hmm, <affirmative> you go in with that same attitude all the time. How do you, how do you visualise that if you like?
Cally Beaton (00:16:14):
Well, if I take, um, well there’s a couple of things aren’t there. So I used to have a real fear of public speaking, like a proper fear of it and conviction. I couldn’t do it. So when I first found myself in boardrooms, I was absolutely terrified of presenting in anything more than a sort of boardroom setting with a few people around a table. And obviously I did have to learn to do it but I didn’t feel as if I would be a natural at it. And I think you are, you can play a couple of different movies in your head, can’t you? And I’ve trained. Like you trained lots of people in public speaking. And if the movie you play in your head is messing up your words, the audience hating you falling over on the way to the stage, wishing you’d never done it.
Cally Beaton (00:16:51):
Then there’s a bit of a chance that might happen if you choose to play a bit of a different movie in your head before you go on, I think that helps. But it’s also – and you learn this don’t you – the way in which whole groups of people listen, as opposed to individuals is very different. So when you are looking at a sea of 3000 faces and you think, well, they look blank. Well, yeah, that would be a blank. Look, if you were having a coffee with that one person, but you are not. So they may well be listening, but not feeling the need to emote what they’re feeling and in comedy clubs. First of all, if people don’t laugh, that is on me as the comedian or the host. So if they’re not laughing I will never do that. Oh, they like that in Brighton.
Cally Beaton (00:17:30):
What’s wrong with you? Camberley? I’ll just think, well, okay. I need to do something different, but with heckling and because I MC so much and I do the big clubs a lot and there’s, there’s often rowdy clubs. I don’t normally think that the hecklers are nasty people. I think they might be drunk. They might have something to prove they might… So I will absolutely take control of the situation and put a heckler down, but I very, very rarely would want to leave the heckler feeling anything other than they were a bit of a fun part of the show. It’s very rare. I would full on say, why don’t you shut the something up, you know, and, and leave or whatever. I mean, I, if that needed to happen, I’d let the security do it, but I would try. So I do, it really upsets me when I see comedians or MCs punching down to audience members because without the audience members, we actually don’t have a job.
Paul Boross (00:18:19):
Well, I think that’s so true. And it’s, it’s that idea. And this is something for our audience to take away. Is that idea that the attitude is what dictates the altitude of how good you get at it. Because if you come at it with a, with a sort of punching down attitude and you really, I wanna put them in their place, it doesn’t necessarily do you any good because then the rest of the audience looks at you and thinkiyou’re a bit of a git.
Cally Beaton (00:18:47):
Yeah, it makes, and it also makes me very nervous if I see, I mean, if you are on a mixed bill, as a comic and another comedian does that, that’s, that’s up to them. And if you are, and you can do your thing as a comic, but if there’s an MC who does that, and I’m not MCing, I’m one of the acts, my heart just sinks. If the MCs gone in and laid into the audience, cuz I think, okay, I’m now gonna need to spend my first five minutes as well as trying to be funny, trying to make this room feel okay again. And, and you do sort of need to give the audience a bit of self-esteem, you know, sometimes you’ll get a really quiet audience and if you really lay into them for being quiet, then I think they just get more and more. They just don’t enjoy it. And they feel really self-conscious where there are lots of ways to get a quiet audience to be rowdier. So yeah. I generally don’t think attacking, attacking people who are effectively paying your wages. I generally don’t think that’s a great idea. <laugh>
Cally Beaton (00:19:37):
Cool. Muled fashions.
Paul Boross (00:19:38):
Okay. Let me write that down. Don’t attack audience <laugh> yeah,
Cally Beaton (00:19:43):
No, no. Don’t attack the hand that feeds.
Paul Boross (00:19:45):
No, no, no, but I actually think it’s used the word which was adaptability or flexibility earlier on, which I think is, is really interesting. And because you have got, had such a varied background, you, you’ve learned a lot of skills that help with sort of more than one thing you can’t just do heckle put downs and, shout at people. You can coax, you can cajole, you can play, but isn’t that what great communication is all about is that, that ability to play with people on some level and you are just doing it as a keynote speaker and as a comic professionally.
Cally Beaton (00:20:30):
Yeah. I think it is all about connection, isn’t it? And it’s all. I mean my son, as you may know, is autistic and, and raising he’s 25 now. So he’s not a little kid anymore, but raising an autistic kid and having to really deconstruct what communication means in order to help him understand it a bit better, you know, you’ll know that autistic, you know, neurodiverse people are typically, and of course there are, they say, if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person because it’s such a nuanced spectrum. So I don’t wish to generalise about anybody listening who’ll be like, well, that’s not the case for me, but it is fair to say that many neurodiverse people aren’t as able to listen as to talk, you know, not as able to receive information as to transmit it. So I think I learned a lot about, um, the kind of, I actually did my master’s in NLP quite a while before my son got his diagnosis.
Cally Beaton (00:21:14):
So it wasn’t connected, but it all helped, um, knowing a bit of NLP and watching well, learning so much from my son really, which I have done, you know, I’ve learned an enormous amount from, from him and from raising him and living with him all those years. But I do above all. I think what makes excellent communication and makes people excellent at what they do when it comes to connecting is being able to turn up and by turn up, I don’t mean physically turn up, but mentally turn up and work live in the situation. Because if you listen to learn rather than listen to respond, if you are actually actively thinking, well, now, if you, if you now had a list of questions and weren’t listening to the response, your listeners would immediately know that as opposed to, if you are genuinely jumping off something, I say to the next thing, and it’s the same with any, it doesn’t matter if you’re giving a speech and the audience aren’t actually speaking back to you, they’re giving you loads of information.
Cally Beaton (00:22:07):
And the first thing I always, I’m sure you say this to people and do it yourself. The first thing I always say when I’m teaching people to be a speaker is when you first get on the stage and you take the microphone out the stand, or maybe you are already micd up. Just take a couple of beats, partly, cuz it gives you some gravitas. You’ve just stood there and owned the room. But actually look at the room from the stage. Stand there, take a couple of breaths and be like right here I am here, they are now I’m gonna see what they need. And it’s amazing how many people don’t do that. They just go racing on. It’s like, well this is what I was gonna do. So, yeah, it’s but it’s a, you know, God, I’m not perfect at it. Paul, I I’ve, you know, fallen my face as often as anyone for sure.
Paul Boross (00:22:45):
Sure. You are very, very good at it. So, and, and none of us are perfect at it, but I’m interested in that because I would call that the ultimate listening experience. I would call that in psychological terms, listening off the top, where actually you are looking at people and properly engaging. I was down, MIP in Cannes where we were doing. And a friend of mine said to me the night before I was doing the opening address he said, drunkenly at two o’clock in the morning at the C21 bar, which you probably know, he was like, what’s your opening line tomorrow? And I went, I don’t know. And he went bollocks every good speaker, knows what their opening line is. and I said, no, really good speakers actually read the room and will have yeah. A vague idea of you know, things that you say. But if you are so married to your script, you’re gonna miss all the good stuff you’re gonna the person who falls off their chair, you know, or something and your job and which I think you’ve just described beautifully is actually to connect with them and look around and see what’s happening. And, then you know, go into your routine rather than I’ve got my opening gag. I’ve got my opening gag.
Cally Beaton (00:24:10):
Yeah, it’s definitely. And you also, the bit people, it’s a real quick win as well – listen to me going all, David Brent on you. But if you, if you do do something that is genuinely live in the room, that you could not have prepared, you get so many brownie points. You so have the audience on your side because they love to think that you are kind of fitting the wheels while you fly the plane. That’s a lovely thing to feel. You know, we all wanna watch somebody and be like, oh, this is actually real. They’re not just kind of effectively reading off a mental auto cue. So it’s, it’s twofold. Isn’t it? One, it makes you, and actually when you’re waiting to go on, I’m not massively thinking, what will I say? Like you, I sort of know where I’m gonna go directionally, you know, to a degree of course, but I will be just letting whatever’s happening happen.
Cally Beaton (00:24:53):
And sometimes the thing I’ll say is a silly thing that happened backstage. But again, people love that. They wanna know if something weird happened backstage. You know, if tucking the mic into my bra, you know, ripped my dress or whatever they think that’s funny. That’s the funny thing to hear. They want to know what happened before I came out, looking glossy on stage. So whatever it is, I just, whatever working live in the room means, I think it’s great to do it, but I used to skydive and, and you’d get- literally get sensory overload. When you first jumped out of the plane and the number of seconds of sensory overload get less, the more you skydive because you become accustomed to it. And it’s a bit like that with public speaking. Isn’t it it’s like, you are in such a state of overload when you’re not used to it, that the thought of managing to do any of that would just be a bridge too far. But like any muscle, if you keep doing it, then you get the capacity to relax enough, to be as good as you can be and get out of your own way. Don’t you? It’s like, right. Okay. Now I’m gonna breathe and do this as I’d like to do it
Paul Boross (00:25:44):
Well. Yeah. And I think that magic, by the way, I love the fitting the wheels while flying the plane thing. I’ve never heard that before. I just love that.
Cally Beaton (00:25:52):
The story in my life,
Paul Boross (00:25:56):
But I just love the fact that you you’re getting out of your own way because I always think that it’s, you know, a lot of people write into us and say, you know, we love the tips that you get from people who are really good at this, but I really love the idea that you are essentially giving yourself enough time to connect in the normal way that you and I would connect over a beer in a pub or a cup of coffee with a friend. Cuz I don’t think that when it’s done well and you know, you do it brilliant, there’s a keynote. And as a comedian, it just looks like you are chatting to somebody over a coffee. Isn’t that where the magic happens when it’s all just at that level.
Cally Beaton (00:26:44):
Yeah. I always think with everything I’ve ever done in my life and by no means unique in this, I’ll always end up doing so much more kind of prep than I need and stressing not that everyone’s a big sort of prepper, but it takes so much effort to make things look effortless. Doesn’t it? You know, I’m doing a speech I did a speech this morning, I’m doing one on Friday and I really will put in a lot of effort into writing those speeches, thinking about them, doing the briefing calls, listening to what’s required. But by the time I’m going to the event on the day, by the time I’m in my frock, in the car, going to the event, I will be quite relaxed because I’ve done the groundwork. And I literally, I mean, it’s a bit like trying to revise in the queue into an exam, you know, it’s too late, then just forget about it and see, and just turn up and do your best. So by the time I… It’s a bit like when you’ve packed for a holiday and you can’t really stress about anything once you’re getting on the plane, cuz you’re on the plane now. So I, all the pain for me is on the lead up and the actual turning up on the day and doing it is lovely, but it’s only lovely cuz of the graft I went in beforehand.
Paul Boross (00:27:44):
Well it’s the duck, isn’t it? It’s like underneath. It’s all going. But I agree actually, I’m always much more relaxed when I’m, I’m going to do a keynote because I think I know it I’ve done it. There’s no point in, you know, stressing about it. This is the fun bit, actually the research and everything I agree is is the stressy bit.
Cally Beaton (00:28:05):
It is. Yeah. And also just the, um, it gets a bit more formulaic, doesn’t it? And again, I’ll be very careful cuz there may well be people who, who have put me or will put me listening to this. And but so it’s not that, you know, a lot of comedians don’t like doing corporates and I do like doing corporates because it’s the world I’m from. But also the corporates I do are a bit different. I do tend to do keynotes and after dinner and awards and those, the bit that can be monotonous is okay, another briefing call another like, oh they want you to talk about, you know, adaptability and leadership. And you’re like, oh, you know, here we go. But then every time I do the briefing calls, once I’m on them, of course it’s a new set of people who are interesting.
Cally Beaton (00:28:41):
So then you’re connecting with people in the business who invariably have got interesting stories to tell cuz human beings tend to, and then you’re up and running and you’re like, oh, this isn’t just an abstract speech about, you know, change for a bank. This is actually, I don’t literally mean coins but as in <laugh> adaptation, but it’s lit, but it’s yeah. So, I think you can, you can choose how to, and actually I, dunno about you. I always stay for the,I always do the lunches or the dinners before the, after dinner or after lunch speech, partly cuz I like a free meal, but that’s when you get to read the room. So I always think, you know, when they say, would you like to have your meal, you know, in this side room? And I always say, no, I love it with you cuz then you are looking, you’re hearing things, you’re reading the room by the time you go on, you’ve been given a massive head start as opposed to sitting in a cupboard somewhere with your chicken nuggets. Cause you do that at home.
Paul Boross (00:29:28):
That’s really interesting as well because so many people want to set themselves aside from the audience. I was just doing, something for MIP in Cannes, which I do twice a year. And they’re always surprised that I actually stand at the front when people are coming in and chat to them on the way in. And they’re thinking that’s harder. I’m thinking that’s so much easier because you come in, you know, a few people then by the time something starts you are going. I was just talking to some people from South Africa and they just told me this and we’re already, you’ve, you’ve broken down the barriers by doing those kind of things. So I mean, I think if I was to give people a tip about it, what you said about being around them more helps with the whole performance rather than hinders it
Cally Beaton (00:30:25):
Definitely. And it’s also, there are false economies all over the place, aren’t there in our working and personal lives. And I think it’s a real false economy to think, oh, I don’t wanna, I could, you know, this thing I’m doing on Friday, it means I’m gone for like five hours instead of two hours to do the event because I’m gonna go to the lunch, but it’s a, it is a false economy not to, and, and a sort of similar thing, but from the other sort of side of, of life from the comedic side, um, there’s a brilliant show which you will know because you know the industry so well called The Blame Game, which is on BBC Northern Ireland, which is the Northern Ireland’s kind of equivalent of Have I Got News For You, but actually that doesn’t quite do it justice.
Cally Beaton (00:30:58):
It’s a phenomenal show that runs with the same panellists. All, all of them are the same, they’ve one guest panellists and it runs week in week out. And if you wanna see how to be a brilliant panellist on a show like the regulars are outstanding. And I was lucky enough to be asked along as the guest panellist and they don’t, they do try to have people who aren’t, who aren’t from Northern Ireland. And obviously if you’re on a political topical show in Northern Ireland, that is, there are many pitfalls you could fall into as the outsider and you’re not necessarily gonna be the sort of welcome voice. So when I did that show, first of all, I researched it pretty much more than I’ve researched any other show I’ve ever done because I knew that I couldn’t instinctively rely on my knowledge, but the other thing that I thought was brilliant that they said Tim McGarry, who hosts it, who’s one of, you know, Ireland’s most loved and brilliant comedians.
Cally Beaton (00:31:45):
Yeah, he’s brilliant. And as we were waiting to go on and by then I’d spent a couple of hours with them and with the researchers, he said, oh, by the way, Cally, it’s done in front of a, you know, live audience. This was all pre COVID. I did it. He said, by the way, Cally, we do let the guest person, if they want to, they can do this, the warmup for five minutes because it sometimes just means the room have already brought into you before you go on stage. And he literally said it as we were going on. And I said, yeah, I’ll do that. So I went on and I did it and sure enough definitely helped. So I was able to muck about a bit, do my stuff. And by the time I was on, I was getting laughs for what I said, but it was only afterwards.
Cally Beaton (00:32:16):
He said, I was only mucking about Cally. No one’s ever, I always said that to people know what everyone’s always told me to piss off <laugh> he said, you’re the only person who actually just went and did it. But do you know what? It was a really good idea cuz it meant I was like a bit like their friend by the time I was on the panel cuz I’d spoken to them and kind of basically MC’d them. So I think what everyone can do is almost the equivalent of that. But it takes a lot of it’s um, takes a lot of humility, doesn’t it? For you to know that by spending your time, listening to people, that’s gonna make you better on stage. That’s the opposite of a sort of narcissistic arrogant attitude. That’s you saying? I wanna give the room what they need. So I’m gonna be in the room and find out what that is, which is a really lovely attitude to have as a speaker.
Paul Boross (00:32:55):
I think it, I mean, I mean, I’d love to think that I’m doing it out of altruistic reasons and everything. I’m genuinely A well, a I’m interested in people. I like people, but B I think it just makes everything much easier once you’re on stage. I think. Yeah.
Cally Beaton (00:33:11):
I think you are absolutely right. It’s giving it’s like the homework being done for you, isn’t it. And you can only do you know this, you know, the thing that makes for a good speaker or an outstanding speaker is beyond the prep and what you’ve written. And do you, have you got a good credentials and do you know how to do the technical stuff? Is what are you gonna do when inevitably everything goes wrong and nothing that you thought was gonna be there is gonna go there. I always say to people when I, well, I do much less of it now, but when I was training people to do public speaking, I used to say if everything goes wrong, you know, if the, if the sides don’t work and people, aren’t very nice to you, and there’s more or less people than you thought, and the lighting’s bad, if you can’t do your speech, then you are not.
Cally Beaton (00:33:49):
And under those circumstances, you’re not well prepared enough. So you’ve gotta rely, you know, if you ever like, got to have this slide, I do understand if you are like a Paralympian and your crescendo is showing your five minute, you know, victory thing. It’s a bit tough if that can’t be shown, but generally people, you see it, don’t, you people get off stage by their own, like with their own machinery of their own show. And it’s like, hold on a minute, isn’t it? Your show? Yeah. What about you? Where are you on the stage?
Paul Boross (00:34:13):
No, I completely agree. And I you said the difference between a good speaker and a great speaker, but I would actually go even further into that and go, I think the difference between a good speaker and a great speaker is one thing. And that’s humour because you can be an inspirational speaker and go, you know, I won the Olympics, I climbed the mountain. I did it. But without that element of humour and maybe self deprecation as well, I think that’s the step change in what makes a difference. Cally, I really love your podcast, Namaste Motherfuckers, it’s kind of the podcast where comedy and self-help and business collide, but you have a background in coaching and counselling. And obviously I work in the same areas and I wondered how much humour do you use in that side of your work?
Cally Beaton (00:35:11):
Yeah, it’s funny. That’s why I did the podcast was because I know the thing I do on stage. So I know what makes me, I hope a good keynote speaker and after dinner speaker is that it is authentic and it is emotionally intelligent. And if I’ve done my job, people will have laughed. They’ll virtually cried, they’ll have goosebumps and they’ll have some things they can take away that they can actually do something with. So that’s what I try to do as a keynote speaker. And I sort of thought there’s gotta be a way to have a voice that does all of those things, and they’re not mutually exclusive. And I think the podcast has really helped me work out how to do that because my guests, you know, they are probably probably about 60% of them are comedians.
Cally Beaton (00:35:51):
Not least cuz I’ve got quite a good little black book of comedians, but I have loads of, you know, celebrities and writers and goodness knows who on it. And um, you’ll have to come on it, Paul and I do, I do find to have, you can be, you can have humour and disaster and tragedy cheek by jowl. They say dunno with comedy, tragedy plus time equals comedy But sometimes I don’t think it always even needs to take time. I think you can, it can be really helpful. It’s like people having a real laugh at a wake, isn’t it, it’s not cuz they don’t care about and love and feel the loss, but it’s about needing to do those things. So it’s, it’s been really interesting on the podcast that, I mean my last questions on it, I have three questions that occur.
Cally Beaton (00:36:31):
The first of the three is what would you pick as your life changing? Namste motherfucking moments. So getting people’s damascene moments, which are often really moving emotional, I’ve often cried at that point. People have got, and my next joke, my next question is what’s your favourite joke, but it’s kind of deliberate because you can have somebody’s enormously meaningful moment and then a joke and then something else. So yeah, I definitely it’s a bit like what we’ve just said, you’re working live in the room, so I would always be appropriate to what a coaching client and I still do bits of executive coaching. I’ll always read the room and I really hope I don’t ever overstep the mark, on it. But yeah, I think there’s totally a place for humour in, and also often you’ll be led by your client.
Cally Beaton (00:37:15):
I mean, clients will often also say something really funny or maybe they maybe they’ve had this really serious stay at work and they want to be able to let off steam a little bit. So we’re still having a professional meeting, but I don’t think there is an occasion when I literally don’t think there’s an occasion when you can’t use humour, including in a eulogy or in a, I can’t think of one where you cannot. I mean perhaps if you are literally no, even if I was at someone’s deathbed I would not rule out the fact that I might use humour.
Paul Boross (00:37:41):
Well, I think the reason for that is from a psychological perspectives is that actually it’s a state change, isn’t it? And it’s one of the easiest state changes to do. I mean, you could choose to make people angry to get their state change, but it’s a pleasant state change, which gives a perspective, which I would’ve thought when you are coaching or counselling is a way for people to step back and have a perspective about the situation, which I always think helps in any kind of coaching it’s like, you need to see it from another angle, which is what humour does, isn’t it?
Cally Beaton (00:38:23):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it makes you as well, if you’re laughing at something, exactly what you said, you’ve removed yourself from being massively entrenched in it. So it instantly gives you a more sort of curious playful objective view of a situation, which inevitably can help. The only thing I would though say is a sort of word of caution and this will have come up a lot on your podcast – I’m sure – is when you use, when you use humour as a way of masking things that actually matter. So if you can’t say something real about yourself without self deprecating or having a bit of a gag about it. So I know I’ve had most of my life on and off I’ve had therapy. I’m a big believer in it and I I’ve had a couple of therapist say to me, well, why, why are you having to make a joke of that? Why, why, why is that? Why do you need to, why do you need to be funny in therapy? And it’s a really good question, like of all places. That’s probably a place. And I do that probably is the place I make the least jokes, even then I can’t resist the odd one, but I think I have learned in therapy that it perhaps isn’t always helpful <laugh> to be like, wise-cracking and going, why is my therapist not laughing? <laugh>
Paul Boross (00:39:23):
Oh, well that’s an interesting concept because as part of my training, I had to do six months of Jungian therapy and I had – and she was excellent and very good – a classic German woman who really, and I started to after a month go, can I make her laugh? So Cally what makes you laugh?
Cally Beaton (00:39:46):
Well I’ve just got a puppy and he makes me laugh. so, and actually in seriousness, I did get the puppy,, partly cuz obviously like hard work as I’m now discovering, but because I realised I don’t play enough in life and I’m a real workaholic. I mean, everyone who knows me will go, no shit. Uh, so I actually did realise the thing that’s very much missing from my life. And now my kids have left time is sort of fun and play and letting your hair down. So he actually does really make me laugh. And when I’m playing with him, I literally, I feel like I’m about eight years old and I just completely forget about everything. It’s totally in the moment. I watch less comedy now than I did as in for play. I watch comedy cuz I’m at comedy night.
Cally Beaton (00:40:24):
So I see a lot of comedy cause I’m there working and I love seeing my, my kind of peers working, but I probably wouldn’t sit at home and go, oh, I’ll put on live at the Apollo. That’ll be relaxing, I love podcasts. There are podcasts that make me laugh. Um, I love Parenting Hell. I love that podcast with Josh Widdicombe come and Rob Beckett and I’ve got some friends and in fact, both my children as well make me laugh a lot. And I’ve got a couple of friends. One of my friends, Jo is by far the funniest person I’ve ever met in the world and I’ve met some of the funniest people in the world and she is incredibly funny. So yeah. Going out with Jo for any reason or just going out to her house makes me laugh.
Paul Boross (00:41:02):
Well, isn’t it funny that actually when you are involved in comedy the last thing you want to do is go and see comedy for relaxation I found that I find,
Cally Beaton (00:41:15):
Yeah, I watch friends shows like if, if a mate’s, if a mate’s got a show on who I’ll definitely go and see their show. Cause I wouldn’t see their show, but yeah, I wouldn’t just be like, oh I know I’ll go to Angel Comedy, which by the way is a brilliant club. I play it a lot. You should go, but I would not go, oh, I’ve got a night off. I’ll go to Angel Comedy and watch a show. I just wouldn’t.
Paul Boross (00:41:31):
Oh no, I understand it. I find it very difficult to be, you know, having spent 10 years at the Comedy Store, I find it very difficult to be in the audience now. And I will still go and see for mates nights. But I, you are aren’t you always unpacking it as well. And just going, you know, it’s like a room full of comedians going, just going, uh, funny. Yeah. That, nice setup. Yeah,
Cally Beaton (00:41:57):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Or thinking or cringing when it doesn’t go well, like doubly cring more than the audience cause you’re like, oh no, that, that was such a, you could have easily saved that. So I mean, I do switch off when I’m MC it’s a sign of a definitely really good act because I am seeing a bit more than I’m an act probably about two thirds, one third in favour of MC. So obviously I am there for the whole night and it’s always a side of the acts that are outstanding. That if, if I forget I’m MCing, basically because I’m loving them so much, they’ve been acts, but I am so wrapped up in their acts. They they’ve finish. I’m like, oh God, I’m part of the show because they’ve got me. So in the palm of their hands. So that does happen occasionally that I totally forget I’m working cuz I just am in awe. I mean, Omid came and did a surprise set something. I was MCing the other night and I just completely got wrapped up by what he was doing and virtually didn’t get back onto the stage at all. So relaxed was I watching him?
Paul Boross (00:42:47):
You’ve got this extraordinary business background where you reached sort of great Heights in the media business. If I asked you to write a business case for humour, what would you include in it?
Cally Beaton (00:43:01):
Well, I think, one of the things that’s very topical at the moment in companies, if we look at what sort of younger workforces want, it’s all about balance and wellbeing and having their voices heard and telling their stories and about being able to stand out, isn’t it not, not having to sort of fit a mould. So you’ve got to create psychological safety, haven’t you, if for that to be the case. And I think humour is a really important way to allow people to be vulnerable. And you as a… I don’t mean you necessarily specifically, but leaders in businesses will definitely engender more trust and safety in their employees. If they can also show chins in the armour and a quick way to get into vulnerability without bearing your whole soul is humour. I think so I think it’s also you know this going to Cannes, my business career is founded on relationships with people who didn’t all have the same first language as me and humour is a massive icebreaker.
Cally Beaton (00:43:58):
If you haven’t got all the words aren’t quite as clear as they might be, then you’ve got tone. So humour’s really important for that. And I think it tells you a lot about, about a person doesn’t it. And if someone makes you laugh, that is instant rapport. If you sitting next to someone at a dinner who you don’t know, and within the first two minutes either they’ve made you laugh or you’ve made them laugh, you’re up and running. I mean, you can’t help, but be in rapport and you can’t help. But I think, oh, I’m glad I’m sitting here. So I would struggle more to think where it wouldn’t feature in the manual than where it would.
Paul Boross (00:44:29):
Is there a return on investment for companies to do it? I mean you obviously do a lot of keynotes with companies who want to talk about adaptability and resilience and, and all those things. It is it the bottom line that they are more adaptable. They are more creative. They are more resilient. If they have a lightness of touch,
Cally Beaton (00:44:51):
I think you need to have a lightness of touch. Don’t you? I mean, otherwise if you take everything so seriously at the end of the day, I mean, I was gonna say, we’re not saving lives. Some people are saving lives, but not doing what I do, not doing what you do. And so somehow you’ve got to get objective enough to sort of think, I know this feels like it’s life and death, and I know this feels horrendous or, out of my control or what’s happening with this merger that’s going on. But if you can’t in any way, find a way to have anything of a laugh about it. And I’m not saying you should have a laugh if you’ve been made redundant and you’re losing your house and you haven’t got the money to feed your kids. I appreciate that’s not, not a funny situation, but I think often the funny bits are in the minutia, aren’t there and that’s what comedians do. Isn’t it? We mind the minutia for, for funny things that are relatable. And then the audience goes, oh yeah, that is really funny. That thing. And often they’re dark difficult things.
Paul Boross (00:45:38):
So there are gonna be some people out there who, um, don’t know how to use humour, don’t it doesn’t come naturally to them. Do you think, because you came to it for as a professional later, do you think that everyone is potentially funny or is it the gift given to the few?
Cally Beaton (00:45:57):
It’s really funny you say that, cuz I just did some, I sometimes still did a bit of training in public speaking. And I, I was, um, training some ex pro ex premiere, you know, pro footballers, actually a couple of ’em still do play. And we did it at the Frog and Bucket in Manchester, which is one of the most iconic kind of comedy venues in the country. And it wasn’t training them to be comedians, but it was trying to unlock, they were all competent speakers, but perhaps a little bit dry and serious and needed sort of work on the, how not the what. And not all of them were naturally natural comedians or naturally funny, but you, anyone can learn to land one or two gags and they might need someone to write them for them.
Cally Beaton (00:46:40):
They might need someone to help teach them how to deliver them. Or you can quote, you know, I sometimes quote, you know, and I give him the quote. But when I took, I sometimes reveal in my speeches, my late transition to standup, I sometimes get billed as a business speaker. And then I kind of reveal that towards the end. And when I say, you know, no, no, I met Joan Rivers and she said, I should take up standup. And two weeks later I did my first gig. And, and then I say, you know, and to quote the late great standup Bob Monkhouse, everybody laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they’re not laughing now. Now that always gets a laugh. I’m not pretending I came up with that and anybody. So if you are, I always say to people, if you’re a public speaker, you can’t write jokes. Well, you can absolutely quote someone’s joke. And that’s funny and you’re not plagiarising. Um, or you could show a funny meme that made you laugh. If you’ve got audio visual stuff, you know, so find a thing that is funny, even if it’s not you and your voice on the stage.
Paul Boross (00:47:31):
So why do people you think, especially in business fail to be funny,
Cally Beaton (00:47:37):
Because it’s really hard. I mean, it’s really hard to get a full laugh in a room. I it’s taken me years to work out how to make a room, a whole room laugh, and I don’t always succeed. And that’s what I do for a living, you know, in all my aspects of my life, it’s about even the corporate, keynotes, you know, it is about generating laughter and I’m sure you’ve had it. You know, I’ve had it. Everyone will have done where you, you think you’ve got really funny thing to say, and there’s, you know, you’re in a meeting at work and you say thing you think’s really funny and you just get blank faces looking at you. You’re very exposed when you’re trying to make people laugh. And the failure is palpable. <laugh>, you know, you’ve said a joke, everyone knows you thought it was funny and no one’s laughing. So a fear of failure is a…, But you, you, you do not learn as much from a good gig as you do from a bad gig. And if you don’t put yourself out there, you are not gonna be able to make people laugh, but people don’t do it partly cuz it may not be natural to them. And partly cuz it’s so excruciating when it doesn’t work
Paul Boross (00:48:32):
Well, it’s the most bizarre thing anyway, because what you are trying to do is you are trying to get people to do an involuntary reaction. <laugh> in a crowded room, aren’t you? And it’s like, if, and if it doesn’t work, it’s not like acting where they just love the clap politely at the end, if they don’t laugh, it’s the absence of a laugh that actually leaves you hanging, whether that’s with one person or
Cally Beaton (00:48:59):
The loudest silence you are ever hear. <laugh> it’s true. It’s also, um, it is it’s a, yes, the silence can be deafening. Um, it’s absolutely. And it is it’s that it’s that, um, being willing to go out and actually what you’re saying to people is I am going to hijack your amygdala. I’m gonna hijack a part of you. That’s primal and you are going to roar with laughter. Even if you dunno that you want to, and that is some hell of a claim. And of course it doesn’t always work, you know, how could it always work? And certainly when we were doing gigs to socially distanced audiences that made me realise as a, particularly as an MC, how hard it was to get an audience to hunt as a pack and how much you rely on everybody being thrown in together. Um, that’s why I don’t like, and after dinner speech, you know, when they’re all cabaret style, which they always are, that is a hell of a lot harder than doing it. Theatre style. Yeah. You know, much then have a theatre style auditorium. But obviously after dinner and awards are cabaret style, you gotta work with it, but they don’t hunt as a room as easily. And that’s your job is to make them cohesive. It’s much harder when they’re not all sitting together and looking the same direction.
Paul Boross (00:50:04):
Oh, absolutely. And actually that’s a good tip for people is actually, if you get to set up the room, do it theatre style have the, because I heard you say on your podcast, I think on that actually sometimes you go and move the chairs yourself, which is exactly what I do. So I go, I want it to be set up in a way whereby the laughs will come easier.
Cally Beaton (00:50:30):
Absolutely and there are some real basic tips on that also to, you know, this is what comedians do, particularly in Edinburgh, where people are fighting for audiences and you’ll have some low turnouts, unless you’re a massive name is literally like tape off the back. If you don’t think the room’s gonna be full, make damn sure everyone sits at the front of the room. So if you’ve not got someone seating, people tape it off and then you can always, you know untape it, but reserve the bits. You don’t want people in. And yeah, the more you’ve got people huddled in together, the more they’re gonna respond to you with emotion with laughter, with takeouts, you know need them all looking at you, don’t you as responding.
Paul Boross (00:51:05):
So are, are you, and are we, are we addicted? Are we drug addicts? Are we are, I mean, cuz I don’t think there’s any better feeling than that. Dopamine hit as a laugh comes back at you. So, you know, is that the acceptance, the, the thrill, is that impossible to replace with anything else?
Cally Beaton (00:51:26):
I mean, that’s definitely my only addiction these days. I’ve, I’ve always been a sort of thrill seeker and an adrenaline junkie. So for and I’ve kind of put in a good account of myself in all the ways you would expect someone who’s wired like me to have done. So nowadays I get my highs from being on stage and running. Those are my two kind of ways to get that chemical hit. And yeah, you know, when life’s hard, the best 20 minutes or hour of the day is the bit on stage and it’s the other, it’s the other 23 hours. You wanna worry about it.
Paul Boross (00:51:59):
<laugh> Cally, we’ve reached a part of the show, which we liked call Quick Fire Questions,
Speaker 3 (00:52:06):
Quick fire questions.
Paul Boross (00:52:10):
Who’s the funniest business person that you’ve met.
Cally Beaton (00:52:14):
I’ve worked with so many different production companies where they’ve been really funny MDs of production companies, but I can’t think of a specific name. There was a guy I’ve had him on the podcast, a guy that used to run Comedy Central in the US, a guy called Dave Bernath, who is one of the driest. Like when you meet him, you are like, I can’t believe you’re running a comedy channel cuz he’s so dry. But he is. I love dry humour. He would make me roar with laughter when I worked with him. So I would, he’s an unlikely comic voice, but he always used to make me really laugh and he loves British humour. He was the person who brought The Office to thE US..
Paul Boross (00:52:49):
Dave Bernath, I will look him up. What book makes you laugh?
Cally Beaton (00:52:53):
There’s lots of… I’ll tell you a book that made me laugh recently was Louisa Young. You Left Early, which is actually about her lifelong relationship with Robert Lockhart, the composer who basically killed himself with kind of alcoholism – that’s not a spoiler alert that that’s out there in the public domain. Now you might think how could that book be funny? But the bits in that she, she’s not a comedian, she’s a writer and a journalist, but the funny bits in that book, which are often reported dialogue between her and Robert. So really things are so, so funny. So I read that recently and that made me absolutely howl with laughter
Paul Boross (00:53:29):
What film makes you laugh?
Cally Beaton (00:53:30):
Film as opposed to TV show?
Paul Boross (00:53:32):
Well, you can go for any, we’re not, we’re not that strict on the Humourology podcast
Cally Beaton (00:53:36):
Podcast. Well, I would say film it’s Bridesmaids. I love Bridesmaids. I think it’s superb. I watched I’ve watched it quite often. Me and my daughter watch it together probably about every two years. So Bridesmaid, I think’s beautifully, just beautifully done and TV. I am just rewatching for the zillions time. Seinfeld from start to finish. And every time I watched that show, it’s better than the last time.
Paul Boross (00:53:57):
Funnily enough I just loved, I went to see Seinfeld. Did you see when he did the Hammersmith Apollo? a couple of years ago. Yes. And it was just a masterclass, wasn’t it? It was just there wasn’t one word out of place
Cally Beaton (00:54:11):
And the length he can do. Yeah, no he’s he is like, yeah, he is. He’s the guy,
Paul Boross (00:54:17):
He’s the daddy. Let’s take a shift to the other side and go completely the other way. What’s not funny?
Cally Beaton (00:54:25):
I think what’s not funny is anyone trying too hard to be funny? So if someone’s like desperately trying to be funny and that sounds weird for someone who’s a comedian, but the one thing that alienate an audience is if someone’s really, really trying hard. So you kind of need to almost like dial it down and stop trying to be liked so much. So I think anybody where there’s an air of desperation and it doesn’t feel sort of natural, but generally I think it’s people sort of just not reading the room really, probably.
Paul Boross (00:54:52):
So do you have any limits on what can be used as comedy or is it the classic which we were talking about earlier tragedy versus time and anything can be funny? Or is it the other thing you mentioned earlier on that? The punching down idea?
Cally Beaton (00:55:10):
Yeah. It’s, it’s all about that if you’re not. So I make jokes about my son’s autism, but are never at his expense. It’s completely celebratory. My son’s an autistic zookeeper. How amazing, how could I punch down even if I wanted to, but it’s all punching down to me as his idiotic mother. Who’s sort of tried to get him through the world. Um, there’s so I, I would never, I’ve got a joke or not a joke, but a whole bit that works really well at the moment, which is about an ex-boyfriend of mine who was dying of throat cancer. And again, you’ve gotta be really think, how am I gonna say this? Because there’ll be people in the audience who’ve got throat cancer, lost someone to cancer, you know, whatever it is, but there’s no, if you handle it in a way where you’re not lacking an empathy where you are never punching down to the thing and where you’ve got an end point.
Cally Beaton (00:55:59):
So what’s your relationship to the topic? I’m not just talking about throat cancer and blokes with throat cancer randomly, because I think it’s a funny thing to talk about. I’ve got skin in the game of that and I, and I explain what that is. So I think a decent comedian can do material about pretty much anything. It is comedy, but you just need to think about what’s my viewpoint and why am I allowed to talk about this? Um, but yeah there’s nothing. There’s literally nothing I would avoid. Well, I mean, there are some awful things I would avoid talking about. I would not ever talk about paedophilia or, you know, anything like that, obviously, but beyond the absolute, why would you wanna talk about something abhorrent? I know some comedians do no there’s no, no go. I would say for me,
Paul Boross (00:56:37):
What word makes you laugh?
Cally Beaton (00:56:39):
Paul Boross (00:56:40):
Cally Beaton (00:56:44):
I’ll leave that hanging.
Paul Boross (00:56:45):
<laugh> Cally Beaton left her muff hanging. Um, <laugh> you see
Cally Beaton (00:56:54):
in case you wanted an outpoint
Paul Boross (00:56:56):
<laugh> you see suddenly we’re just in that place. Would you rather be considered clever or funny?
Cally Beaton (00:57:07):
Definitely funny. I’m more hark at me with my big ego. I’m more confident that I might be able to come across as clever you listeners to this episode might be like, really give us a clue. Uh, but I think I still feel very, so I sort of know, I know I’m not stupid. I don’t believe anyone’s stupid actually but I know, I know I’m not, you know, I’ve got an all right IQ, but yeah, I’m much less secure about my comedy. So I much prefer people thought I was funny.
Paul Boross (00:57:33):
And finally, Cally Desert Island Gags, you can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What would it be?
Cally Beaton (00:57:41):
I was told this by, do you know Peter Walsingham who runs downstairs at the King’s Head? Yes, it’s the, it’s the longest running comedy club in the UK. So there tryout nights on Thursday night, It’s the longest running comedy night in the UK. So it gives me a chance to plug the club, which I don’t have stakes in, but I love Peter. And I love the club. Peter is absolutely known for telling, and he will not mind me saying this for telling bloody awful jokes backstage that gone for bloody ever when you are about to go on stage. So he’s known for his kind of dad jokes, but he told me, so when he heard now I’ve got a puppy because my son is a zookeeper. He has lots of friends who are zookeepers, many of whom work at London zoo. I live near London zoo.
Cally Beaton (00:58:18):
So London zoo’s lion keeper is my cat and dog sitter just to get your head around that. So I have a lion keeper who comes and looks after my cat and dog, very overqualified. So I’m only telling you this, cuz I told Peter this and he said, I remind me to tell you a joke call about lion tamers. So here’s the joke. He told me this on Saturday. There’s a trainee apprentice, lion tamer, and they’re in the ring and the experienced lion tamers, is like giving them advice and they’re like, right. So it’s your go now. So here’s the, um, here’s the kind of stick that you’ve got and uh, and you, and you’re gonna be able to get the lion onto the pedestal with the stick. And the apprentice says, what if I can’t get the lion on the pedestal with the stick, then the lion keeper says, well, the lion tamer says, well, there’s a chair.
Cally Beaton (00:59:01):
So what you can do is you can use the chair and the stick and, and just coax the lion towards the pedestal. And then the lion will probably go on the pedestal. And then the apprentice says, well, but what if the stick? And the chair don’t work? What, what do I do then? And the lion tamer says, well, just pick up some shit from behind you and throw it at the lion. And the apprentice says, what if there’s no shit behind me? And the lion tamer says there will be, <laugh>
Paul Boross (00:59:30):
A beautiful gag, beautifully told.
Cally Beaton (00:59:32):
I have no idea whose joke that I have no idea whose joke that is, but I loved that.
Paul Boross (00:59:37):
Oh, there you go. Oh, I absolutely loved it. And I loved having you on the podcast. You said you were a thrill seeker. It’s been an absolute thrill to have you on the Humourology podcast. Thank you so much Cally.
Cally Beaton (00:59:49):
Thank you, Paul. It’s been a joy.
Paul Boross (00:59:52):
The Humourology podcast was hosted by Paul Boross and produced by Simon banks, music by Steve Haworth, creative direction by Les Hughes and additional research by Helen Sykes. Please remember to subscribe like and leave a review. Wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a Big Sky production.