Laugh Lines: Jack Dee

The least enthusiastic comedian around tells us what makes him crack a smile - from giggling at funerals to dreaming about Angela Merkel

When was the last time you laughed out loud? 

I’m always doing it. Sometimes I laugh in my sleep at something I dreamed and go back to sleep thinking I’ll put it in my act. But then in the morning I realise it was just nonsense. Some rubbish like I’m on a roller-coaster in Spain with Kenn Dodd and Angela Merkel and it breaks down and some monkeys come and fix it. 

Who’s the funniest stand-up you’ve ever seen live? 

Jerry Seinfeld in New York City 1991. He was just trying new stuff but enjoying himself so much. It was infectious.

What’s the film that always makes you laugh? 

That would have to be Spinal Tap.

What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read? 

David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day.  

What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard? 

I love one-liners. It’s the hardest type of stand-up to do and the king is Stephen Wright: “The first time I saw a dictionary I thought it was a poem about everything”.

What’s the thing you find funny that no one else does? 

Almost nothing thank God.

What made you laugh the most as kid?

Observing people. Copying their mannerisms and the things they say was always at the root of what made me laugh and really still is.

What’s the most inappropriate thing you’ve found funny?

Tension is vital to comedy and what we find funny. It’s why a joke at the back of the class is the funniest thing in the world at the time – because it’s prohibited and you are trying not to laugh. It’s why you can get a fit of giggles, say, at a funeral. So I’m always finding serious occasions difficult to cope with for that reason. I was recently in a hotel reception and a customer was complaining about his room, the shower, the service, how slow the lift is – just everything. The more he went on the funnier it got and then he got cross with me for laughing – even though I was trying to hide it by pretending to have hay fever. I was like a kid back at school being bollocked and finding it hilarious.

Jack Dee is on tour across the UK this autumn and tickets are available here.