TFT Meets... Paul Garner
26 December 2003
Paul Garner made his name doing bad things with Chris Morris on Radio One. Here is Paul being perfectly awful to a Cambridge cab driver in an extremely funny audio clip.
He is also responsible for the infamous rude tannoy announcements at airports.
Paul is a former 11 O'Clock Show regular, former rugby player, and former member of The Herbs. Here's what an 11 O'Clock Show fansite says of him:
'Reporting - Very good. He is the no nonsense reporter. Says what he thinks, and not afraid to do so.
Sex Appeal - Difficult to decide. He's getting on a bit, but may appeal to any ladies over 30 who may watch the show.
Obesity - No worries here. Does not look fat, and he does not look thin. Looks just about right really.'
And here's what Paul has to say about himself:
> Rumour has it that you nearly presented the 11 O'Clock Show?
Then the rumour mill makes a fine loaf. On the first night of series three Iain Lee collapsed and was taken to hospital. I think he'd overdosed on cock gags. The producer then told me I was presenting the show. I didn't even have time to refuse. I was whisked into make-up with Daisy, had a run through, and was waiting backstage as the audience were being seated when Iain suddenly turned up, dosed-up on morphine, and said he was well enough to host the show. I was asked again a few weeks later: the producer rang me up and said Iain Lee has had a death threat and has been advised not to do the show so would I take his place? Great...'there's a nutter with a shooter or a blade somewhere in the audience, so who's the most expendable member of cast? Quick, call Garner...'
> What is the best thing about working with Chris Morris?
Regularly risking a good kicking, and admiring his unique ability to see new levels of comedy long after I had thought we'd got the best out of an idea.
> What is your abiding memory of the Cambridge taxi incident?
The smell of TCP lingers in the memory: for some reason I had decided to douse myself in it for comedic effect - great idea for radio. Secondly (I can't remember if Chris edited this part out) I actually pursued the taxi driver back to Cambridge train station in a friend's car that had followed the cab. Chris insisted I offer the driver a tip - three pence. It's one of several times I came close to losing my teeth for Morris while he sat with his feet up in the studio surrounded by beer cans and French fags.
> Do you have a favourite airport?
For tannoy announcements, Zagreb, Croatia takes a lot of beating. Good sound system, dopey announcer - the perfect blend. Got a good couplet away there: 'Arvnotshagdin Tennyeerz and Marborlzaraz Bigazadonkis'. For travelling with the wife and close friends, you'd be hard pushed to beat the calming ambience and excellent car parking facilities at London's third airport which is Stansted in Essex. It's handy for the M11 and within easy reach of Colchester Zoo, the only zoo in England to stock hyenas.
> Did the airport tannoy announcements ever go wrong?
Yes, I was banned from Terminal Three at Heathrow. I'd bagged a couple of corkers and, after a quick tie removal and a hair ruffle, I went back to the same information desk for more thinking I had fooled them with my cunning disguise. Not so. After looking at the names on my card and looking me up and down the woman called out a cluster of airport staff from a back room. They all bundled out and stood with folded arms staring at me with disgust/pity. Then one of them piped up: "We've had complaints from passengers about rude messages being read out over the tannoy...any more of these and we'll call the police". I was now enjoying it. "The police? What's the charge? Being caught in possession of some names... that look foreign... but aren't... but are a bit rude?" But Old Ma Garner's son is no fool - there's more than one Terminal, hence more than one information desk, hence more than one tannoy announcer. After being tailed from Terminal One to Terminal Two, I knew the game was up... so I went to Gatwick.
> What is your favourite air-crash survival story?
A DC-10 was making a crash landing in Ohio. The crew had told the passengers that it was going to be rough and told them why - the landing gear had gone. One bloke who knew enough about planes to realise that landing with no wheels was a guaranteed bodybagger, took his five year old son to the rear of the plane. Just before it got to the runway threshold, the bloke donkeys the door open, grabs his son and jumps. They dropped into the edge of a cornfield and had a cushioned landing - both survived. Nearly everyone else on the plane died. Sorry, 'nearly everyone died' is an odd way to end a question about a favourite story, but at least there is some joy amidst the pain.
> Do you think of yourself as a European?
No - not interested. I don't even think of myself as British - I'm English. Everyone's so eager to be something else- because being English isn't cool, it doesn't start conversations. Well, bollocks....
> Have you ever been to Minsk? If not, what do you think it might be like?
Pretty much like Stevenage Leisure Park on a Saturday night: cheap beer, lawless and littered with desperate women who'd sleep with anyone for a Big Mac and some American tobacco.
> Do you laugh at funerals?
Not yet, but I am determined people will laugh at mine: I've decided I don't want to be buried or cremated - I want to be exploded. I want to go to my grave knowing that my Auntie Bea has eaten a vol-au-vent at my wake with a dismembered finger stuck to her cheek.
> Who is your comedy hero?
Russell, our local pest controller. Take my word for it - he's easily one of the most entertaining people you'll ever meet. Funny because he doesn't know it... He told me recently that pest controllers have their own newspaper called 'Pest Control News'. I was wondering what a typical crossword clue might be: five across, three letters 'like a mouse, but bigger'.
> When is the last time you punched in anger?
At the start of November. I went to buy something in Stevenage and was appalled that Christmas was being forced down my neck so early. I refuse point blank to buy anything in stores that play modern Christmas songs. I love Christmas but hate the way Christmas pop songs have unduly become a part of our Christmas. In music, there is nothing worse than novelty songs and glam rock. Put the two together and slap on some sleigh bells and you've got a huge steaming pile of solid shit. Fuelled by this anger, I took refuge in a gift shop that wasn't playing Christmas music only to have this animatronic toy monkey in a Santa hat spark up as I walked by it. It started clapping some cymbals together to the tune of 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town'. I punched it full in the face and knocked it through the back of the display case.
> Would you like to apologise to anyone?
I'd like to apologise to Adam Henry. It's a long and ludicrous story but the headline is that I made him believe I had murdered someone. He called the police... and told them I had murdered someone. I nearly got arrested. I was 17. It was three in the morning. I still lived at home. My mum and dad weren't best pleased. I apologise....
> What is your best physical feature?
Nothing. I am in an intense period of self-loathing at the moment. On a good day I quite like my arms - I was once told that I had nice arms like Hugh Laurie. Oh God, I fucking hate myself...
> What have you got in the pipeline?
A mince pie and some beer with Russell on Christmas Eve.
> What do you think comedy will be like in 2,000 years' time?
Graham Norton, seven nights a week on all channels.
> Which of the Cheeky Girls is your special favourite, and why?
The one who knows she looks slightly more like a horse than the other one. Why? It's the only difference between them - apart from which Uncle they sleep with.