David Baddiel reveals why you have to ‘laugh at illness and death’

David BaddielImage copyrightBBC/Amanda Benson
Image caption David Baddiel

Comic and writer David Baddiel has said he talks about “sad and difficult” topics including his father’s dementia, as a way of “processing” life.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs: “As you get older your life gets darker. You’re faced with mortality.”

Speaking about his “truth urge”, he said: “Let’s find the funny in those things. I don’t think it’s a denial, it’s a bulwark.”

David Baddiel reveals why you have to ‘laugh at illness and death’
David Baddiel reveals why you have to ‘laugh at illness and death’

Baddiel went on to speak about his father suffering from Pick’s disease.

“It’s a form of dementia, and is a ridiculous and cartoonish version of what he was like,” he said.

“It involves people being sweary and obscene and impatient and apathetic – and my dad was always like that.”

‘Look at me’

Image copyrightPA
Image caption Baddiel with his partner Morwenna Banks and children Dolly and Ezra

The comic also said he didn’t want to seem “arrogant” by saying how truthful he is, adding it was “because of my own limitations as a performer”, saying he was the “opposite” to his partner Morwenna Banks “in terms of versatility and range”.

Baddiel also revealed his love of musicals, saying he was “obsessed” with Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell when he was younger.

This was reflected in his musical choice on the show of one of the songs from The Book of Mormon.

He also spoke about his mother having a “very public affair” with a golfing memorabilia salesman, and “turning our house into a shrine for golf”.

“It’s quite hard to forget about the affair when there’s a statue of Lee Trevino in your eyeline,” he added.

“She was a good mother in lots of ways, very devoted to us three brothers.”

But he added that he thought he became a comedian – “look at me” – was because he suspected her favourite child was his brother, Dan.

In her defence, he added: “But there’s something very beautiful about a person whose life is nearly taken away.”

He said his mother was three months old when the war broke out in Nazi Germany when the war broke out, and that she “just got out with her parents to London but the rest of her family was murdered”.

‘Extraordinary moment’

One of Baddiel’s choices was Three Lions – his song with Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds for the European Championships in 1996, which were held in England.

He said the singing of it at Wembley was “an extraordinary moment in my life”.

“As I’m speaking now the goose pimples are rising on my flesh,” he added. “I still can’t believe it happened.”

The song came at the height of his success alongside Frank Skinner and the duo also had a TV show – Fantasy Football League – which tied into the rise of “laddism”.

However, Baddiel says his past behaviour was never misogynistic despite him being a leading figure in the lad culture of the 1990s.

He said: “I’m comfortable if you actually go and look at the work, because truth is always in the detail.”

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