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HIGNFY Guest Host interview: Jack Dee

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David Thair | 15:46 UK time, Friday, 8 May 2009

Jack Dee on HIGNFYThe deceptively affable Jack Dee last appeared on this blog backstage at Comic Relief, and now here he is again - this time as he prepares to host tonight's Have I Got News For You at 9pm on BBC One.

HIGNFY:
You've presented HIGNFY several times. Who's been your favourite panellist and why?

Jack Dee: I loved it when Frank Skinner was on - he was fun and was good. He stepped in at the last minute because Ian was ill. I'm lucky - I've always had good panellists.

HIGNFY: Who would be in your fantasy line up of HIGNFY panellists?

Jack Dee: I might have the character of Marty from Lead Balloon and Homer Simpson. Homer would be good value.

HIGNFY: How does the experience of appearing on HIGNFY differ from being a panellist on other programmes?

Jack Dee:
Well I've only been a panellist once on the show, a long time ago, and since then I'm always hosting it.

The good thing about HIGNFY is it's a compact show but it still gives everyone space to breathe, and everyone always gets a chance to say something if they want to. It's a very difficult show to dominate, and guests who come on and dominate always fall foul.

HIGNFY: Do you think it's harder to appear on the show when you're not from a comedic background?

Jack Dee: No I don't. I think sometimes it can be an advantage because the expectation is not as great - sometimes the best guests on HIGNFY are journalists, TV presenters or politicians who then surprise everyone by being funny and witty. Clare [Balding] is good. I've hosted it when she's been on before and she's a good example of that. People don't really expect her to be funny but I'm sure she will be.

HIGNFY: Fred Macaulay started as a warm up act for HIGNFY. Does this give him an advantage on the show?

Jack Dee: Well maybe it does to some extent Fred is very seasoned; he's done so many things. I don't know if it would necessarily give you an advantage other than possibly breaking down the initial fear of the show. Sometimes it can strike you when you hear the theme music in the studio and you can think "oh my god its HIGNFY, and I'm on it!". It's quite a strange moment.

HIGNFY: What news stories are you looking forward to being tackled on this weeks show and why?

Jack Dee: I'll expect they'll do something about the bloke with the best job in the world, and I dare say they'll be something about flu. They did quite a lot about that last week and more of Gordon Brown's climb-downs over the week. I expect it'll be along those lines.

The [Gordon Brown] YouTube video extraordinary, I'm sure in the next one he'll be bounding through the gardens at number 10 with a golden Labrador trying to convince everyone that everything's going to be fine.

HIGNFY: You're a snappy dresser. Where do you get your suits, and are other comedians stealing your look?  

Jack Dee: I think there are a lot of comics that are much better dressed than me. I get my suits made at a tailor in Berwick Street and he can run a suit off for me in no time. I don't think anyone's particularly conscious of thinking suits are the thing, but when you see a comedian on stage in jeans and a t-shirt it doesn't matter how good they are - it always looks like amateur hour when they walk onto the stage. I think people are always quite visually aware of that now, and very visually in tune with it. It either looks like amateur hour or you're trying to be younger than you are.

HIGNFY: Your experiences provided the Lead Balloon script. Do disillusioned comics connect with you more?

Jack Dee: If I've inadvertently become some sort of role model for failed comedians, then it's really backfired very badly on me.  

HIGNFY: You've got a book due out in autumn 2009 - can you tell us more about it?

Jack Dee: The book is called Thanks for Nothing and it's really the story of how I got into comedy and traces back every strand in my life that is relevant to that story. It's kind of an autobiography but isn't, as it stops about 25 years ago. It goes right up to the first time I do stand up.

Read more guest host interviews from the current series of
HIGNFY in the blog archive.

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