WISE WORDS: David Baddiel On People Who Love Being Offended, And The Huge Gift Of Shared, Dark Humour

WISE WORDS: 'Calm Down, It Will Be All Right, You Will Have Sex'

In the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they've learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to David Baddiel.


David's work has brought him success as a comedian, novelist and television presenter. He has had successful creative partnerships with both Rob Newman and Frank Skinner. Working solo, he's also published novels, children's books and written for TV.

His latest TV project sees him making his way along the historic Silk Road - a 4,000-mile journey taking the comedian from Xi'an in China, to Istanbul, uncovering a series of remarkable locations, mysteries and hidden gems. To mark the four-part series for Discovery Channel, David talks to HuffPost UK about dealing with negativity, the importance of black humour and the last kind thing a friend did for him...

David Baddiel has been a familiar face for three decades of comedy work, writing and presenting

What do you do to switch off from the world?

Reading in bed. Try to avoid telly or emails.

How do you deal with negativity?

I don’t get as much as I would expect, I quite like a minor insult, I find it normally happens when I’ve been misrepresented in some way. And I think some people love being offended – who am I to get in their way?

When and where are you happiest?

Sitting around. Kids. TV. Partner. Cat. Homeliness.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I went to a memorial service yesterday, and it was for her an academic I remember from Cambridge. Her husband told me, 'Don't look down, keep going.' And it reminded me of the central duty of my job, to give the mundane its beauty, and to make more people happy.

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?

The truth is always complicated. If you try to convey something complicated, people won’t understand. I think ultimately, most people just want s’thing simple.

What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

Calm down, it will be all right. You will have sex.

What 3 things are at the top of your wish list?

On the understanding that this is no way a realistic list, I would say: Get the perfect haircut; direct a film; become a professional footballer. In fact, it’s probably important that I haven’t achieved any of these. The desire must remain.

David Baddiel's latest adventure takes him 4,000 miles along the ancient silk trade route

What do you think happens when we die?

That’s it. In a nutshell.

When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?

I’m 100% atheist, but I enjoy appreciating the forces In the universe, and rejoicing in their infinite variety.

What do you try to bring to your relationships?

Laughter, but it has to be the right kind, based on a deep understanding of what the other person will enjoy, especially a kind of dark, trench humour, based on comradeship. Laughing at the same things is one of the great glues of friendship.

What keeps you grounded?

My children. If I did anything remotely starry, they would see it as their immediate job to bring me down to size.

What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?

I’ve written a play, and we arranged a reading, and one of the actors involved changed his arrangements and ended up catching an exhausting red-eye later flight, so he could take part, and I wouldn’t feel all that work was wasted. And that meant an awful lot.

'David Baddiel On The Silk Road' begins on Sunday 21 February at 9pm on Discovery Channel.


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