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The King of Prankster TV
Comedian Dom Joly
Dom Joly at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature
Last updated: 23 October 2004 1854 BST
line Dom Joly, star of the prankster comedy series Trigger Happy TV, was at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature to promote his new book and forthcoming BBC series...
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Dom Joly shot to fame with his innovative Channel 4 TV series, Trigger Happy TV. The series was a mixture of spoof interviews with unaware celebrities and pranks on unsuspecting members of the public.

The element of surprise was key to the success of many of the sketches and one memorable wind-up involved a high-tech superloo. An unsuspecting punter went in to spend a penny and emerged to discover that she was the loo's 'one millionth customer'.

Dom Joly

Waiting outside was a brass band, mayor, photographer and blonde model complete with a celebratory bottle of champagne - all to the complete shock of the loo user!

Of course, it was all a brilliant wind-up and the show thrived on confusing and bemusing members of the public and celebrities alike. Dom believes the superloo sketch was one of the best from the series, he said:

"The millionth toilet customer was actually one of my favourite ones simply because I've got an absolute paranoia about electric loos which are just everywhere now. No-one wants to use them as you've got that myth that when they flush, the whole thing lifts up and gets flushed at the back. So if you get caught in it, you think you're going to get caught up in the machinery. It's all very odd - the doors open as if you're in some sort of TARDIS and you're making an appearance.

I just thought that if people were embarrassed enough to go into one of those things but what would happen if they came out and there was an entire reception committee and press and stuff. It worked very well.

Funnily enough, the person we showed in the show was the third person we did. The first person we did, by chance, was Richard Curtis who went on to write Notting Hill but the moment he saw the cameras, he bolted so we couldn't use him."

Playing pranks on people is a tricky game because there's always a chance someone could react badly to one of the sketches. Did Dom ever face a really angry victim of one of his pranks?

"The main thing about Trigger Happy was that it wasn't a sort of Beadle thing, we never wanted to get people angry. It's quite easy to get people angry. What we were always after was doing something that was a bit confusing that people would think 'what the hell is going on? What's all that about?' and that's what we normally did.

The only time I've ever been assaulted was by a nun in a supermarket in Notting Hill who threw a can of beans at me because we accused her of 'shoplifting' and that was a bit upsetting. She had a lawyer and threatened to take me to court as well but we settled out of court so it was okay!"

Dom Joly

The series gained both critical and public praise for its innovative pranks. Was Dom surprised by just how successful it was?

"I was absolutely gobsmacked. When we finished the show, we gave it in to Channel 4 and they announced it was going out on Friday at 9:30 between Friends and Frasier, and that was like 'oh, my God, no pressure there!'.

The weird thing about comedy is that there's no right or wrong, you can only just make yourself laugh and the really nice thing about it going out was obviously what made me laugh made millions laugh - and that's quite a nice thing that you're not a nutter!"

Auto-lie-ography

Dom's new book is called 'Look At Me, Look At Me!' and he describes it as a 'celebrity auto-lie-ography'. He said:

"It's supposedly the autobiography of my life but it's fifty percent lies and fifty percent true, and you have to guess which is which."

The book is littered with colourful characters and one of which is Arthur, a rather foul-mouthed Rhodesian Ridgeback (a brown dog). Where on earth did Dom come up with such characters?

"I actually did grow up with a Rhodesian Ridgeback and in the book I have this dog who talks to me. Churchill had his black dog and I have a brown dog. The dog tells me to do terrible things and he's like my evil conscience!

So, I don't know how I came up with that but it's just my excuse for having done bad things. I did have a brown dog... but he didn't speak to me!"

A story from the book that has a local Gloucestershire connection is the mutant farmer woman. Dom reveals:

"That's based a bit on truth because I moved to Gloucestershire about two years ago and, obviously, I'm a confirmed townie from London. I was a little bit nervous about the whole moving to the country thing and, actually, it's been a lot better than I thought.

Tubbs and Edward from the League of Gentlemen

I have had a couple of experiences of opening a small village pub door and it creaking and everyone going very quiet. And everyone going [adopts a Gloucestershire accent] 'You're not from 'round 'ere are you?'. It's sometimes a bit 'League of Gentlemen' in the real far out bits.

I have met some mad farmers in my time and someone did try to sell me a Labrador that was pink [and uncannily like a pig]."

New series on the BBC

Dom has a new series out on BBC 1 in January 2005 called 'World Shut Your Mouth' and he revealed what we can expect:

"It's kind of moving on from Trigger Happy but it's in the same vein. If you loved Trigger Happy, you'll love this one.

The premise of it is that I've gone all around the world doing stuff. We've done stuff on the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon - obviously I've been having quite a nice year travelling around but we did go to some very grim places as well like Newfoundland where it was -30.

I'm really pleased with it and I think it's going to be good."

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with Dom Joly

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Dom Joly was interviewed at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature on Sunday 17th October 2004.

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