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Hello, I'm Louis Thru and this is Ground It with Louis through my podcast series for BBC Radio four in which I get to meet all sorts of people who up until now have been too busy to talk to me.
I'll check your levels. I'll check your levels here.
Today's guest is someone with whom I share many characteristics. She's part American, part British, a writer of non-fiction books, though her still a lot more copies than mine and a successful interviewer and documentary maker.
You could say we are in a sense, rivals, which may account for a certain wariness between us when we started.
Hi, Louis. Hello, Ruby. How are you? I'm OK.
I'm in Scotland, so I'm fine. Oh, nice.
She is, of course, Ruby Wax, actor, comedian and mental health campaigner. And I should mention that mental health themes feature in some detail in the conversation along with robust language. Here we are, cups of tea, water or what have you got tea? Look, I haven't got tea. I'm not going for the sympathy vote. I'm a little under the weather. So I've been drinking Berocca and I had a LEMSIP.
I'm pretty sure it's not covid yesterday I was just oh, it's a little disgusting to describe, but I was kind of regurgitating.
Can I put it that way?
Well, there's no other way to put it anyway, that you don't need to hear about that. That's not important. I don't mind. It makes me feel more human to hear about you regurgitate.
And yes, I even thought about, well, maybe we should move it. And then I thought, well, you know, it's not an enormously demanding format. Like I'm just sitting here talking to you through my computer. I think I can get through this.
So thank you for joining me for this conversation. And I was also aware that and maybe this is a good way into this, that things that have happened in my career, in your career, and I've been aware since late 90s and the 2000s that we were covering stories, documentary subjects, high profile celebrities that were sort of in the same ballpark. That's fair to say, isn't it? Uh huh. And that occasionally that might cause a sense of resentment or anxiety.
This is a really long winded interview.
You don't have resentment. I don't have any resentment. But I do know that as many people in the public eye or just ambitious, competitive people are, that you feel a sense of rivalry. Of course you do.
And then a year or two ago, I heard you on the air in Buckstone podcast. We have to get it out of the way, right?
Oh, yeah. Are you happy to deal with it? Sure. Sure. You expressed that. Well, what did you express?
I don't remember what I expressed on the Adam Buxton Show. I have no memory, but I think it's good that we bring this elephant into the room. Good.
Good. Okay. So what I heard on the other box was you saying he mentioned my name. He said you were doing a Louie through kind of thing back in the 90s, in the 2000s. And you said, oh, don't mention that name. It made you want to vomit.
You know, I might have said it to be funny, but, you know, I never lie completely. It's not you, Louie. I'm projecting a lot on you. Remember, behind these facades, there is just two human beings. We are a kind of conglomeration of history and what buttons people push and triggers that happen to. So I'm not going to blame you for my psychological weaknesses, but I don't think I have anybody in my life that represented well.
There's one other person, what you did or let's say your persona or the object of you did in my life. You know, I did maybe 15 years of documentaries, which I adored. So I did porno and I did into a whorehouse and I did the appellations throwing snakes at each other to show that God loved.
I've seen that one. I watch that one a few days ago, which I thought was so anyway, I'm not listing my credentials.
And then they said, would you do celebrity? So I said, yeah, you know, you get in a role, you think I'm invincible. Everybody loves me. I have all these viewers. And then one day after I did my best show, which was, you know, that race to Russia and back, it was the gumball rally, the gumball rally.
I remember that one with Michael Waldman directing.
Yeah. Anyway, after that, my career stopped. Nobody would talk to me again. Then all that kept going on was Louie through. Now it pinches my heart a little bit because I was cut off from the lifeline, which was narcissism and my ego. And it was all my identity that I had. I had so much aggression and turbow in my 20s that nobody could stop me. I didn't even have talent when I started, but I was so determined.
I got in the Royal Shakespeare Company and I couldn't act. But that's another story. So I have a drive. I got it from my dad who escaped Vietnam.
That's something escaped the Nazis in 1938. And like my dad, I have this drive to beat everybody because I always think people are out to get me. Betrayal is a big theme in me and failure. I then started to get depression, not because of you. I got it anyway. I had had depression before I even knew your name, but I have episodes of it the last time I saw you. If this isn't a trigger, I gave you not one, but two.
As I stood on that stage and had to say, and the best show on television is Louis through that didn't give me the Depression, but I had to do it again. Did you?
I never even remembered that. That's extraordinary.
And then I never saw you again. Now I don't know who Louis is. I'm sure you're a great person because everybody tells me I know you are. But the name kept coming up over and over again that it wasn't even your name anymore. If I get in a taxi, it happens maybe more than once a week. They will say to me, did you used to do what, Louis through it? Or they say, what happened to you?
And I sometimes when I'm really angry, I say, and this is a bad one. I've only done it twice. They'll say, why don't we see you on TV? It provokes such anger in me that I say, because I have terminal cancer. And that shuts them up pretty quickly. You said that I thought you were going to say because Louis through stole my career. No, no. You know, there's always somebody look, I stole Alan Wikus career, right?
The only thing if you want me to put a little bite, it is he was 88 years old and was crawling by the last few interviews. And as a female, I thought I was still kind of attractive. I'm not raising that flag. I would have lost my job anyway because you're not allowed to be this age and be on TV.
OK, except unless you're really fat and obnoxious or a show about cancer or you're doing travel shows or if you're male, I mean, it certainly seems to be different rules, different rules for men.
And so I've tried to get over that because, you know, people that hold resentment. I see this from my father. Well, he's dead now. Only swallow poison. You know, I don't want that. And I don't want my kids to have poison the way generations back we lived on anger, resentment. But then you and I are on the same terrain. I did porno.
You did porno as a subject like we clarify that we covered it as a subject. Well, who knows? Louie now, Harry Enfield once said to me, he said I was too showy off in my shows so that I was the star too. Now I can't go back and redo my shows. If I did, though, I have a really good sense of what's absurd. I don't want to film it anymore because I find when there's a camera there, it's not real for me.
And now I'm really I want to immerse myself in experiences.
But that's something. When you're making programs remotely, this sort of thing can and does happen what we call technical problems. Louis, the battery went. We have to go on to this.
We've got the backup recording on the as well. So.
Oh, OK. Sorry, Louis. We were on a special night and we went out of battery.
Oh, imagine if your therapist did that. You were going like I suddenly realized that maybe I am a woman, right. And not a man, as I always thought. I'm so sorry I didn't get any of that.
OK, we're recording on my phone now. Anyway, at the time, my kids were screwed up because I was always doing documentaries and always looking at celebrities, some of them became my really best friends. But I never really liked interviewing celebrities except Carrie Fisher and a few others because I was a documentary maker. That was my passion for 20 years. You know, I was in Russia, glasnost. I became a member of the Ku Klux Klan, the first to be made a wizard.
I know you did. And believe me, we have totally different styles. And I remember John Simpson fixed it up for me that I would interview Arafat when he was still alive and somebody else was running. The BBC came over to the table and he said, I fixed it up. She can interview Arafat. And she said, no, I just want her to be funny.
Who said that? Who said, I just want her to be funny. Lorraine Legacy, BBC one controller at the time or not funny.
You know, she looked at me appalled, like I couldn't be a serious interviewer.
Well, I remember when I was doing when Louis met, I used to look for those more offbeat, challenging and to my mind, kind of gritty and interesting subjects. And for a long time, I thought being in the court of an African dictator would be really interesting. And there's a precedent for doing that. There's a famous doc made by French documentary maker about spending a week or so with Idi Amin.
So we had access to Charles Taylor, who was then in charge of Liberia with the civil war going on. And needless to say, he didn't test well with the higher ups at the channel. And it doesn't sit that easily between Keith Harrison Orville and Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, you know, and Charles Taylor, president of Liberia. Like it is a bit of a mismatch.
I do understand that I, as you may or may not know, was mentored by Michael Moore. I was hired by him. I had been a print journalist and I had never really had ambitions to be on TV. But he plucked me out and I think he saw that something about me being skinny and awkward and a bit of a geek and sort of overeducated and British would work well if he took me and sent me into the wilds of America. So in 1994, I made a segment about the Ku Klux Klan for him and about millennial apocalyptic groups, about gun owners, different kinds of extremist.
And from there, one thing led to another. So later on, when I came to see documentaries of yours because I was living in America in the 90s, I didn't come back till 98, at which point your name would come up. And I suppose I felt a touch of what is the word shakra? Is that the right word or a sense of rivalry or, you know, Myles's of, oh, well, there's someone else doing it.
But and forgive me for saying this. And I would see them, I think. But she's so brash and she's the biggest personality in the room. And I sort of focused on the things that were different instead of seeing how much of it that I did like because I was threatened a little bit and I imagined that you were getting more money, you were on BBC One, that you were getting higher ratings, bigger names.
I saw myself as a scrappy little outsider in the last couple of weeks.
I've dug into your back catalogue and I feel a little bit the way when I dug into Alan Wickers catalogue where you thought, wow, so much of what I did, he had already done.
The number of hours of TV on a variety of subjects you've made is extraordinary. Also the overlap in terms of areas of interest with the high profile people. Trump, O.J., Bill Cosby, Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood Madam Roseanne, Don King, these are all very much people who would be in my kind of locker of story ideas.
Does that make sense? You did all of them. So so that's sort of where that was going, that whole monologue. But if we could talk about your celebrity profiles and actually doing them a disservice to call them that, because, you know, they're not really celebrities. They're kind of intriguing public figures, right? Yeah. Yeah. When you look to your dream candidates for that type of treatment, what were you looking for? What were you hoping to get?
When I did the documentaries, I was intrigued and trying to figure it out because I majored in psychology. Figure out why are the Ku Klux Klan inviting me? You know, they were pretending to set somebody black on fire. Why did they make me a wizard? So that all intrigued me once I got to celebrity. In the beginning, it appealed to my feeling that I wasn't very popular in high school. And if Sharon Stone liked me, it really inflated my sense of self.
She liked me. It was like being prom queen. The men, most of them hated me because I'm sort of scared of them, especially Donald Trump. I mean, that was the worst interview I've ever done because that was my dad with such hatred. And it looks like a funny interview, but I'm not making sense. And he nailed it. He said, you know, you're really obnoxious. And, you know, in a lot of these interviews, except when the women loved me like Roseanne, Carrie Fisher became my best friend for 35 years.
Goldie, you know, some of them have remained friends, so I'm really grateful for that. And when we met, it was like magic, it was like meeting your best friend, but the idea of celebrity doesn't really interest me that much. As a matter of fact, I think it's kind of a disease. You start to look who's looking at you rather than you looking at people. And I became like an excited schoolgirl to the point I was interrupting them and people would go, You're such a brash American.
But yeah, that's my persona, which was shite, and I wish I didn't have it. On the other hand, it got 13 million viewers at some point, but people with big personalities are short lived like that was Dennis Penner's. It's very short lived. And they don't let you develop into who you are.
Do you think the younger people listening know who Dennis Penances? It doesn't matter. You know, people with every year he was the biggest thing on TV for the younger generation, right?
It was mid 90s and he would turn up at celebrity events, especially movie premiers, and ask extremely rude questions. Yeah, the stars famously he said to Demi Moore, if the role demanded it and it felt artistically right, would you consider keeping your clothes on for a performance? And then there's a moment where they're figuring out what did he just ask me?
Well, you can say Sacha did the same Baron Cohen, but Sacha is a genius. Jennifer Saunders is a genius. Michael Moore is a genius. And here's the thing, Louis.
I've never seen one of your programs. You may be a genius.
You've never seen I don't feel shocked, but I feel like I should be shocked. Look, it's not you. It's what you brought up, which is jealousy, envy, my failure, my dad's disapproval. I know people listening to this will think of this is psychological wank, but, you know, it's my reality. So this morning I did. Look, I see what you're doing. It's great.
First time you ever saw me on TV was this morning. Yeah, I had to. Because you were interviewing me.
What did you watch? I watched the porno one and I watched the one when you entered the brothel. And you're good. You're what I should have been doing. Except I came out of girls on top. You came out of the maestro, Michael Moore. I was a persona, so that's how I made my money.
You're an artistically trained actor, right? You were at the Royal Shakespeare Company. You're comfortable on stage in front of three thousand people. Like to me, that was always the idea of a nightmare. I went on location because I craved invisibility.
I liked being around people who would dominate me, who would make me feel as though I was the smallest one in the room. Does that make sense?
Yeah, that's interesting. I dominated what you saw was a relationship. You watched me have a relationship with Hugh Hefner. You watched me try and get people to fall in love with me and some of them did.
I remember the Hugh Hefner one from back in the day. I watched that one when it went out. And I remember thinking maybe slightly grudgingly. Well, that one was pretty good. Like it broke various rules that I'd made for myself. Because you had a master interview with Hugh Hefner where you sort of sat down with him. And I sort of thought, well, that's kind of like cheating. You're supposed to be on your feet moving around or involved in action.
That was a rule I made for myself, was you don't sit down and do an interview.
Well, I mean, the first one I did was Goldie Hawn, and we did most of it in bed. Right. I didn't always chase. And don't forget, I don't know how long you have you Hefner I lived with for a week. And they say, oh, you can only have ten minutes, but then I try to make them love me and I'd be funny. Or Bette Midler said, ten minutes. Well, we spent the week together.
I think that's extraordinary. And I think actually what I've enjoyed most in your programs is that feeling of negotiation, especially where you seem to be on the back foot at times. So, for example, I think you are too hard on your Trump program.
It's clear that, like Trump, for all his bad qualities, has some kind of knack, maybe verging on genius for reading a mood or a body language or understanding the dynamics of a room.
And the first thing he does when he arrives on the plane and you're there laying in wait with your crew is he clocks.
The camera's right. And he's like, are those on there? Almost the first words out of his mouth. It's like, is that camera on? Because you rely on that sort of sense of people being off guard and going with this broader frame so that they can't overly control the interview. And so once he's clocked that and made it clear he's not happy about it, your problems have started, right?
Well, then we had been filming before that where he showed me his gold bidet. So he knew there was a crew.
He knew the crew was there. You were in there.
Look at his body before he arrived and we had filmed him getting his makeup done, taking he didn't have a lot of hair and twisting it around his head. So we were filming that. I think what happened when we sat down, as he smelled my fear, he smelled it and he went for me like my dad used to, like an animal, the hatred in his eyes and how stupid he thought I was. And he expressed it. I became that the stupidest.
I've ever asked in my life came out of my mouth and I was shitting myself, so when he threw me off the plane, I don't blame him much later on he liked me because he had a conversation with me in a car much later and I could be more filthy than he could.
So some of this is in the show. There's a short interview where you took this was in 2000. Right. It's weird to think that he was running for president in 2000. I mean, he had he announced or he was just talking about it.
He was talking about it. And here's where I fucked up. If I had just kept my ground the way you do without being fearful, just be present, which is your style, and said, oh, tell me about your plans for being president of the United States.
I could have hung him, but he scared me so much. You know what the first question was? Something like would you be able to date I made him so shallow, I couldn't believe that came out of my mouth, but I imagine you would have said, oh, tell me, what would your plans be as president?
I'm going to politely disagree because I don't think that's a bad question. Would you be able to date?
It's how I said it. It was very Dennis penis. The thing is, is I look at myself in that situation and think I would have got also intimidated and I wouldn't have interrupted enough and I would have just listened and it would have been like a little press conference and not terribly interesting if you said, like, so why do you want to run for president? He would give some boring statement about this country is on the ropes and we need to bring it back to greatness and a who cares?
Whereas you were trying to get him on the back foot. The fact is he's very shrewd. Yeah. So what he did was he realized, OK, you're not like a normal journalist.
He's not Goldie Hawn or Roseanne or he's not thinking, how do I roll with this? Because this is my job. He's thinking this isn't going to make me look statesmanlike. No.
And he's thinking I'm working with an idiot.
Whether that came across a cut most of the interview out, like you asked about two questions and then it goes. He says, I'm just going to go upstairs and relax for a second. That's enough. I have a headache. And you said you don't like me, you don't like me.
But Louie, you're leaving out about 20 minutes where we had had more conversation, where I dug myself in a hole.
He didn't just say that there was a lot more climb in the limo with him and Roger Stone, who was then his media or his political adviser who had encouraged him to run, who still around.
And you say at one point I had a terrible mother, which is quite an odd thing to just throw out there, because I have so long with people, we have to cut it.
So sometimes it comes out of nowhere. We must have been talking about his mother.
You said I had a terrible mother. He said, you remember what he said? I can tell because you're angry. You're angry with a smile.
Oh, that was good. Angry with a smile. That's almost genius.
I forgot he said that. Let's like my dad. He nailed it.
Then he said, I bet you'd be a totally different person without that camera. Roger Stone says she's all right. And then you say, I'm all right. I just got really, really frightened. Well, that's honest. Yeah. And when I was watching that, I was like, it's so interesting to see Ruby wax this bundle of energy and provocation and wisecracks. And suddenly you were just naked. You know, I just got really, really frightened.
It's quite powerful. And then I think that led to you bonding in the car off camera, right? Yeah, not bad guys, but I played his game.
It sounds like you learned a little bit about yourself, but what was your takeaway with respect to Trump?
Besides, my daddy was the most frightening man I've ever met. A, he had my number and B, he had no conscience. This is just for me. I'm sure somebody else would meet him and be charmed. He would stop at nothing. The look he gave me with such hatred to the point where John McEnroe paired his wife. We also bonded and I still speak to her. But Trump said to John after this came out, he said, If I ever see her again, I'll kill her.
Really? I took that as a compliment.
I honestly found your interview with Bill Cosby more frightening. That was frightening. That was enough that he was still playing the cuddly old grandpa, but sending out all these warning signs to stay away or to stop asking difficult questions. Yeah, he was.
But luckily, I only had like a couple hours. But he took me in his office and he said, what does that look like to you? And it was something, I don't know, basketball team. It's not a basketball team. It's the African-Americans discovering a canoe like the way I read it. And he went for me. So all day I was being tested and I was the bad guy. Yeah, he's there's poison coming out of that one, too.
Well, do you remember what else he did with the phone?
I never watch my stuff. You think I'm insulting you? I've watched me even less. So during the interview, you're on a set and there's a stage phone, it's a prop and you ask a couple of questions and then he picks the phone up and he says something along the lines of, yeah, I don't think it's going to work out. She's asking some stupid questions.
Mm hmm. Maybe five minutes and then puts the phone down. So he gives this sort of ongoing commentary or critique of what you're doing with an imaginary person on the phone. There's a warning like he's giving you a warning.
Yeah. Did I react to it? I've got the quote.
He picks up a phone and says she's still talking. It's sort of like listening to an answering machine that you don't know how to fix.
Oh, yeah, I got the insult. Do you think I'm a bit more. But then I think he felt bad and he picks up again and he says to you, he felt that I wasn't nice to you. His imaginary friend has told him that he wasn't nice to you.
Wow. God, my shows were heavier than I thought was so weird.
Here's the other thing I wanted to say. Even shite shows where people like show how their dog goes to the loo. They're on repeat even on a crap channel that just has been invented and only Czechoslovakia's can see it. None of my shows have ever been shown ever. I don't think there's a conspiracy. But even if you didn't like it, I mean, I did Russia when I went to Glasnost and that was an amazing documentary. I was there just as Glasnost was kicking in.
I don't understand only the good ones. We can skip the O.J., we can skip the trump. But that Russian one in the snake handlers, there's some great documentary Trump won in the OJ one a good.
Oh, well, and I know you've been critical of your Madonna one. I think the Madonna one is interesting as well. I like you best when you're out of your comfort zone and I can see you trying to make it work. What they should do is they should do a best of like I just did four shows that were looking back at highlights, so-called.
Particularly through you could do a highlight series where you revisited.
I think it would be amazing. Nobody will commission it, I swear to you. Hello. In covid world, that's the big go to idear. Like with some time on my hands, I've decided to revisit some of my favorite moments. They're all doing it. Do you know anyone at the channel now? Do you know big wigs over there now?
Well, Clive Tulo is always my producer has been trying to sell stuff. But to be honest, Louis, I have to really let this stuff go, because when I don't go and I get another rejection, I don't want to be upset.
Well, maybe Clive's on. I'll talk to I know Clive. Clive is a great guy. And in fact, he's been shot in half the shows, especially in the Don King one. He does more interviewing of Don King than you do.
What was that all about? Like Don King didn't want to speak to you, but he's like, oh, I'll talk to Clive Tulo. That was weird.
But at the end, he liked me. So it was OK.
Can we talk about this? You've got two books, the reissue of your autobiography, which I've got right here and then and now for the good news, which is a new one. Yeah, right.
Since we've been talking about your films and your documentaries, I'm curious because I worked back and this is prehistory of shows that in all honesty, I hadn't even heard of like a chat show called Don't Miss WACs.
Yeah, that's where I started in the eighties. It was before anybody had done it. There was a house and certain celebrities would be allowed in certain rooms like Lauren Bacall or Shelley Winters. I mean, and then sometimes Jennifer was my co-host and there was a kitchen where Louie Anderson work.
Jennifer Saunders, we should probably fill that some of the names and Louie Anderson. Great. He was a great comedian. Comedian.
Yeah. Or Billy Crystal. They'd work in my kitchen. And sometimes I'd say we're supposed to have Joanna Lumley, but she hasn't shown up, so I'm going to go find her. Then we cut to film I made and I'm breaking glass in a window and Joanne is lying there with Coke coming out of her nose and she suddenly wakes up and I'm in there and she says, What are you doing? What are you doing? And there's amyl nitrate in her fridge.
And Nilbog is an actor. He's in a full girdle. And so then, you know, I do a whole thing with her and then I leave and then I'm back in the studio. People wrote in and complained that I broke into Joanna Lumley s.
Complaint, wasn't it a chat show? Yeah, but I would put in film, so for example, I'd go off with George Gábor looking for happiness. Grace Jones didn't show up.
So we asked two weeks later, could she please show up? So we did the whole interview in the toilet as if I couldn't get her out of the toilet. People go, How dare you do that to Grace Jones? These shows were pretty good. They've never been on either.
Those were on Channel four before that you'd been a comic actor and the comic writer and you'd been Goes On Top, which was a sitcom on Channel four. But how did you make the jump from that to having your own TV show as a chat show host?
Oh, that's a quick story. I was doing the Edinburgh Festival to promote Girls on Top, and Michael Greyed was with me. And, you know, we were in a circus tent and it got delayed and delayed till it was 2:00 in the morning. So Michael. Great. And I started drinking from a bottle of scotch. Then they said, and here's Ruby Wax from Girls on Top. Total silence, I'm drunk, I bring out Michael grade, and I don't remember what happened, but an hour later I had a chat show.
So did Michael Grade because he was in charge of Channel four. So whatever I did with him, you were so amazing is like, let's give this woman a show. She's extraordinary. She's funny. What can I do?
I don't know. Knows it was funny, I guess. I mean, we didn't have sex. So anyway, that's how I got my show. And then I held on for dear life and then they gave me everything. So I did documentaries for ten years. All the stories that intrigue you, I had different ones.
How did you move from Channel four to BBC one? You didn't reach the end of the road with Channel four like in TV. The conventional wisdom is I remember my agent saying to me years ago, she said, You can always move, but you can't always move back. In other words, if you fail on your home channel, as it were, they might give you another chance. But if you flounce off and reject your home channel and then fail on the next channel, you know your old channel won't want you back.
So it's quite a big thing to move to, but I guess it's a bigger deal. It's like BBC one. If they say we want you, they want you.
You're not saying I want Channel four. And then I stayed there 25 years. And then I got kicked out and I had to reinvent really quick. How are you comfortable talking about that? I mean, I'm kind of fascinated by difficult emotions.
And in moments of crisis, at the point where you reached the end of the road with BBC one, how does that come about? Because these people are your friends at this point. How is it conveyed to you? You've been on a rolling commission, presumably. Can you sorry. Air Force One is just gone by. Can you hear that? I'm sitting in an eco community, but next door is an army base where they practice, what are they?
Fighter pilots, unit fighters, euro fighters. I love it is the yin and the yang. Yeah, the meditation going on, canceling each other out.
And then Eurofighter. What's the name of your ecovillage? It's Findhorn. It's in Scotland. Our Pentagon is famous. Yeah. Is it. Very well you know, it was 58 years ago but now there's about 600 people living here. And I work in the garden where they give most of the food to a food bank. They were always twenty years ahead. So if you want to know what sustainability means or biomass, which I never did, and I'm sick of people, you know, in England going, oh, yeah, we have to live sustainably or whatever.
So I thought, well, I've said this before, get off the pot or shut up. So at least when I'm here, I can see what all that stuff is. Now I understand what the mean shit or get off the pot.
Right? No, shut up or get off the pot. In my family, the expression is shit or get off the pot. Oh well, mine is cuter.
Do you spend time each year there? Do you have a place there or you're there for research or.
Just as I wrote my book which I'm publicizing now, the good and now for the good news to the future with Love Ruby Wax, which is really very timely. You say that you'd written it before the pandemic hit, but actually it seems very oku wrong, if I can use that expression.
Well, I finished it the day lockdown started, but, you know, I had already been pissed off, not pissed off, but irritated with all the bad news, you know, that we're addicted to. CNN does not have to put banners going car crash at four o'clock. You know, somebody lost their guinea pig in China. It's got the same horror. I was getting sick of that kind of adrenaline kick. And so I thought three years ago, I'm going to see who's doing the really interesting stuff.
I don't mean something lightweight. I mean people reinventing education, business, tech, health, community. I'm going to meet these people. And if it's really inspiring, I may change my life again. Well, I did meet extraordinary people and I went around the globe. The book is kind of a Michelin guide that people go, Oh, that's good. She went to Finland and saw the greatest education. But some of these places and their ideas are also in the UK.
And you can pick from the Masters and use it in your own life. And every single chapter is about communities, about working together, and that's big business, tech, everything. That's the theme. So one of the chapters about community and I talk about Singapore and Copenhagen, one of the international communities, meaning they intentionally cut down on emissions and they've been doing that for how long? Like 40 years. So I thought, I'm going to see this.
I'm going to live a little while in this and also go back to Les Somoza's. At the end of the book, I go to sama's with a group called Choose Love, and I watch them in action. And it breaks your heart, you know, choose love.
They do good work providing material support for refugees.
They don't just supply and they don't do big TV shows where you have to sing and dance and the money goes over there. These are girls on the ground and young twenty. I was just with girls and they remind me of who I used to be. They have the same eyes and so they go there and they build the sewers and they build the showers and they're glowing. This is grass root.
So you're in Vinton partly to sort of research, or do you go there to clear your own mind just for your own purposes?
I've never been here. I've came here to research it, but I did think I didn't want every conversation about the pandemic. You turn on the TV, it's like bring out the dead. So again, I thought, let's go. We're a nobody really knows what I do for a living and asked me about Louis through and now I'm talking to you and then work in the garden because I've never worked in a garden where the food goes to a food bank.
I don't touch dirt. Right. But it earth you and I smile when I go there. So I think I'm maybe happier than a lot of people who are locked in their homes.
But just so that I'm still socially connected or responsibly connected, I do frazzled cafes.
What is a frizzled cafe for people who don't know? What does that mean? It's not literally a chain of cafe.
It used to be in Marks and Spencers cafes up and down the country about three years ago. They let me use their cafes and twelve people would meet and they would meet every two weeks. It's not a drop in and they'd have a facilitator to hold that meeting. And some of the people stayed with their group for. Three years and they formed a community, which is what we're lacking and makes us crazy. That's why loneliness is killing people. Then when this broke out, I took over for the evening once every night, 50 or 60 people, come on, it's got a format.
And if you want to go on a meeting during the day, there's hosts, Segan, Frazzle, Cafe Dog, and you sign up with a host or you come on with me at five thirty. It's my church.
I mean, I see those people and I love them. I love them more than any celebrity. They speak honestly.
Nobody catches there's people that are just crammed in with their kids and can't stand it anymore. There's young people who are just fried. There's old people that can't get out. We don't take people that are in the midst of mental illness. We say we're not a therapy, but we give advice where they could go frazzled means people who are overwhelmed by thinking about stress.
Are you OK to talk about your I mean, you've spoken very openly about struggles with mental health, right?
I am the poster girl. And because I have mental illness and I talked about it, I got an OBE. That's better than to lefties, I think.
Yeah. When I had to I had to get mentally ill. Louis, you just danced out with those. You OK? Is there someone there who's just there's something making a noise. More technical problems, only different ones, maybe this is a good time to remind you that you're listening to Ground It With Larry through my guest is Ruby Wax. And now that the noise has been silenced, she's about to tell me when she realized she had a mental illness.
You know, when when I was young, I would go into a kind of a coma. My mother was seriously mentally ill. And after that program, who do you think you are?
I come from a long line of madness, but I didn't know that you discovered that when you went back to Vienna and showed me the insane asylum, you and your grandmother.
And they were all basically not my grandmother. She was good, but I didn't know that.
So that's a coincidence. My mother was insane and my father was insane. I use that lovingly, but nobody knew what that meant at the time. So I assumed they were normal. They probably were remarkable people, but I only saw what I projected on them, you know, as kids. My mother was beautiful and looked like Greta Garbo and my dad was ambitious and got out of Vienna.
But that's not who I grew up with. I grew up with Donald Trump and Betty Davis.
I thought you were going to go Joan Crawford. Oh, yeah.
Joan, too. But not so funny.
They were functional. I mean, your dad was a successful sausage casing manufacturer, right?
Yeah. And so he had a comfortable lifestyle. They were fairly well off.
No, they were middle, middle, middle class. Yeah. But reading your memoir, I was thinking it's really confusing at times in the sense that there's a lot of love. Well, there's a lot of attention coming from that. There's something coming like they're paying attention, like they're abusing you in a way. Is that what it is? It's a mental spending money on you. They are providing for your material welfare like, oh, I had clothes and stuff.
Yeah. But, you know, an abuser, when you really need something, it's like training a dog. You give them the reward and then you pull it back. But comfort wise, they provide it. And I'm grateful that they weren't interested.
It seemed to me like they wanted to love their daughter. But you weren't the daughter that they had. Yes, exactly.
They did want me. They wanted some Barbie doll. I wasn't attractive and I was stupid. I was so stupid.
And you refer fleetingly at the beginning about your father beating you and beating your mom. Yeah, but it wasn't all the time.
But yeah, I mean, you'd get the belt if you did something, but you don't have a lot of people, especially from that generation. It was the mental torture that was the killer. And my mother wrote a letter to my dad, which she never showed me, and she marked how he tortured her. But mental torture, withholding of affection, it's much more complicated. I can't even remember you read my daughter. She would chase me into the street screaming like a wild animal.
And my grandmother, who was alive when I was young, would hold my mother back and then the police would come and say, Oh, your mother's, she's seven or change your life. They wouldn't say menopause. I said she had menopause for eighty years.
There was a lot of screaming where she medicated. No, nobody knew what mental illness was then. Mental illness was people howling in a turret. It wasn't a housewife who, you know, we'd go to the office and put plastic on sofas and lamps and the ceiling.
And my grandmother, she could pass, except then my Aunt Harriet Hamburger, my savior. She was my aunt. My father was telling a story how we had gone to South America and I wasn't in time to meet them to go to the airport. So my dad left me in South America with sixteen dollars to find my way home. I was in my swimsuit and then Harriet went, Oh, I see. They're crazy.
How old were you? Eleven.
Then they got sussed. They said, they're insane. How did you get back from South America? That's why I'm a good hustler.
I must talk somebody into driving me to the airport. I got to the plane with an inner tube.
Can be hard to get that through the metal detector. There was no metal detector. You got on the same plane as them in the air. I caught up. Yeah, maybe they were like, if you're not going to come Ruby now, then you can forget it. We're going to leave you here. Yeah.
The thing if I don't punish you, who will? It was very Germanic school of thought, big fights at night. There was a lot of screaming how I'm torturing her, mentally torturing her. And she handed me a scissor and said, cut my heart out. You're murdering me. We're talking drama here. That's why I don't watch opera, because I lived it.
At what point did you realize that you might have a screw loose? Forgive me if I didn't know until I was 30, but you talk about being in L.A. and having a breakdown.
Was that the first?
I didn't know that was mental illness. Yeah. What did you think it was? Oh, I thought it was a physical disease because you sort of go to sleep, but your body's moving. That's what depression feels like. That's why it's not sadness and it's insult when people say, oh, are you sad or are you depressed? It's death on the Nile. You're gone, nobody's at home. And you move your arm somehow. And it's a miracle taking a shower is inconceivable.
So I would go into these kind of waking comas in my teens and they thought I had hepatitis or glandular fever and I'd had so much blood taken out. It's a miracle I'm still here. And even in L.A., they said I had Epstein Bar and then finally somebody came and took me back to England and I watched the color come back thinking it had to do with L.A. every few years it would hit. And eventually when I had my third daughter, somebody said, you know what, you have mental illness and then they can give you antidepressants.
But I still had mental illness.
The third daughter you described being at a sports day, is that right now the middle of what actually happened? It sounds really between the lines that one of your daughters doesn't do very well in sports day and it triggers a breakdown.
It wasn't just that, you know, you have it and then incidents start to happen that play into it. And I made it into comedy. I was going from blanket to blanket, all the parents for, you know, having that sandwich, yapping, yapping.
And I'm like a lonely elephant going from thing to thing. And then the gun goes off and my daughter just waves.
And instead of running and Tatyana, they're all running and now she's just waving. That didn't send me, but I did end up in a mental institution. And I swear this is true. There was another woman who was there at Sports Day and she was in the same institution. I can't make that up.
Then I made another joke that another thing that was happening then is I needed to paint my house beige. But I went to the paint shop and there were thousands and thousands of pages. And when you start to get depressed, you can't make choices. So even like whether to eat lunch or kill yourself, it's pretty similar. So the beige really threw me, you know, whether it's prune or dusky Taiwan or what, but I made a joke out of it.
I found elephant breath. Then I was taken to the institution and there were a lot of other people in there holding swatches going, does this look like to you?
But that was a funny joke. I could relate to that like choices that feel overwhelming. It's your executive function is disabled, right?
So you're like, wait, I have to write an email and make a sandwich and staple these papers together. I don't know where to begin. Actually, you just put one step in front of the other. But it's just weird that the kind of commander at the top of your brain who's supposed to organize and deputise. Yeah, he's sort of asleep on the job. Right.
But then it never goes away. So when I did get to the institution, I said, no, I have a tennis lesson. Also, I have to learn Chinese. By the way, does anybody have some more? Because I have to work on that. And then they gave me a shot and I was out. So there's no answer to it. You're just you become sick and then there's nothing.
But that was in the 90's, right? The sports day was nine. You can call it that.
At that point, you got treatment. But the timeline is interesting because you to work in TV. But then when you were on TV, as you characterize it, closed its doors on you.
Right. Which was around 2003. I think that triggered another depression.
That was the worst one. And then after that, I decided I'd become a shrink to figure out who is ripping me off.
How did it come about? Did it come from your agent or was it your producer? Clive, what someone said.
But, yeah, all of them said, you know, my producer, Clive, my agent, they just said, you know, it's done and then Ruby does business.
Was that the last one? I don't know. But I think I know your career.
But then I was getting desperate. You know, they put me in a game show, but by then I was so depressed I couldn't even speak during the game show.
What was the game show called? I didn't know it was a big deal.
Was it certain to celebrityhood? That was the end. This was a game show. Big thing. Then they said Cirque de celebrities. So they will me out. And of course, it is a topic that was on Sky.
Yeah. They wanted me to be real perky. And I thought my job was to be ironic because it were like delice celebrities hanging by their cervix and they wanted me to go look at what Dad is doing is an incredible.
Ladies and gentlemen, meanwhile, I have depression and they said, I look really sad, and then after a season they said we're going to do another season. And I said, Oh, good. And they said, Yeah, but you're not in it. By then. I was gone anyway. It was a mercy killing. It was a mercy in the movie of your life.
Like those like in Raging Bull when Jake LaMotta is kind of fat and delivering after dinner speeches and you know what I mean. Yeah. Yeah. So does celebrity that feels like professionally may be your lowest moment. Could be. You never seen it though. It might be really good. I'm only basing that on what you just told me.
Louie, please don't see it. That's all I'm saying. Do you think you're visibly mentally ill?
Did anyone remark on that like reviews or and who the fuck knows what mental illness looks like?
I do now I know what it looks like. I could read somebody's eyes and say you're in trouble and teachers should learn how to do that.
No, you're my eyes. Yeah. You got life in that bag.
That's my gastroenteritis or whatever it is. I'm glad you're not in the room with me, is all I'm going to say. They brought it back and didn't bring with you. That must be hard.
But then I was so sick. I don't know what I was doing. I think I'm a prison in Tooting said I was their role model and I had to go to Tooting and cut the red ribbon. They were people that set their husbands on fire and things and all the men were wanking against the glass. So other things started slipping.
While you were there. They were wanking against the glass. I was man women's role model. They brought me in so I knew I was going to go into the world of mental illness. That was a prison, not a hospital. Right.
A prison for high thing. I don't think they did that in British prisons. I saw that in Miami jail. They call it gunning. We had a female director and they were masturbating at her from behind corners of the room and little pillars. Right. Just jiggling like you would see them like this. Yeah.
No, I saw them and they were going at you. Give me a little bit of ego, just leave me with something, Louis. Yeah, they all thought I was a big star and they want me to sound surprised.
I was just making sure there was no one else there. Well, there were things. But could you just give me the credit?
I'm sure they were gunning at you. There's no question in my mind, 100 percent.
So once you had the I don't want to drill into this to you said the worst operator was the one around 2003, right? Yeah. Does that involve sort of taking to bed and just being incapacitated? Yeah.
Incapacitated for a number of weeks, months.
And then you come downstairs in a dressing gown and from time to time have something to eat, but then go, oh, I was in a hospital.
Sorry, what did you just drop the mic because it got upset. Am I talking about this too much?
No, no. But it's not, you know, I mean, people who have depression and that's one in four will know what it is. So going on about it. It is a disease. It's like having Alzheimer's, you know, and you wouldn't say to somebody with Alzheimer's, oh, come on, you know where you parked your car. You know, that's been my mission. That's why I got my job and that's why I'm talking to you about it.
I'm curious about how you experience that. You know, you can read Andrew Solomon's Noonday Demon. Noonday Demon. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Darkness Visible by William Styron, which is a very short book.
Never read depression. Totally recommend it. Who wrote The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie's Choice biography? One that I'm sure you want to.
They can put it better than I can. You know, Sylvia Plath, a lot of. I'm sure. Yeah. I mean, that's not my area of expertise.
Are you still medicated? Yeah, but at any moment you could still have a depression. As I say, everybody in an institution who's on medication has clearly had a relapse. It doesn't work forever. I mean, I still have horrible days. I have fear and anxiety. You know, I still have it with before I came on the phone with you.
Did you this morning? Yeah. I had to be or just would it be any podcast or me? No, it's you. I don't get nervous ever. I don't know whether to feel flattered or insulted. I'm not insulted.
Obviously, it's nothing. It doesn't have to do with you. It's my projection of somebody who at some point in my life made me jealous. Luckily, I'm not an out of work actress. Then we'd have some serious trouble. But it actually motivated me to get a really interesting life, given that I represent something to you.
Right. That's what you've said that may or may not have anything to do with who I actually am. It is there anything that I could say that would be helpful? Is there anything you'd like to ask or express?
No, I feel bad that I projected onto a poor innocent. Well, let's not go that well. You're rich now because you're on every channel. There's nothing to say.
I'm glad we have this conversation because I've made you the kind of a voodoo doll.
It's not the right metaphor. I think I was already a voodoo doll in the sense that you were sticking. I wasn't angry.
I was jealous. Envious, which is a very toxic state to live in. Just when I saw your name.
I don't live like that. You should have watched some of my programs. That's what I do if I'm feeling particularly envious or just aggrieved, someone seems to be doing work and they're getting a lot of attention. And sometimes you watch it and you think, you know what, that's pretty good. And I couldn't do that or I wouldn't do it like that. Sometimes you actually think that's absolute rubbish and that's good, too, because you like it's rubbish, you know.
Yeah, but what I watched today wasn't rubbish. If I had my life again, I wish I would have been more like I am now and really be able to listen. I don't think I listened then. I was just looking for where I could get in there and be funny, which worked with a lot of people. But you really live well.
You did listen. You did listen.
I listened, but I was trying to get in my next funny line and I really connected with them. You did?
I don't think you should make the mistake of throwing out everything you did. That was good.
You know, I know what I'm allergic to, so I stay away from it. What are you allergic to? I'm allergic to going to a TV channel and being told I can't have a job. I don't want it anymore. But even a podcast, I don't want to do it, to be honest, to find a celebrity.
I don't mind being on it. And you know why I'm on it? To make peace and to have closure with you. And B, I got a book to sell. Yeah.
Your last two books were both number one bestsellers, I believe. Yeah. My book only got to number three. So when I read that, that was kind of annoying.
Oh good. I think it's all worked out hasn't it Louis?
How do you get to number one. Well, don't say write a good book. Don't say right.
It could do I look like the type in the old days you would have said that maybe in the old days I wouldn't have shut up on this interview.
But I'm writing in an area that nobody can steal from me. You know, I wrote, How Do You Want Me? And Carrie Fisher was my editor. That's the memoir.
Here it is. Yeah. Nobody bought it because they thought it was a celebrity book. Whereas if I had said it wasn't Ruby and you read about this extreme family, like in the corrections. I'm not putting myself in that.
Jonathan Franzen, that's a terrific book. That's a novel, of course.
But if I had changed the names and it wasn't about a celebrity who had a TV show, it's a good story, you know, about people escaping from the Nazis, trying to get out of Vienna. And then their daughter, who's a rebel, tries to get in. You know, it could have been an interesting novel. Instead, I was competing with Jade, whatever her name is, with the large breasts, and she was more famous. So it was a celebrity.
But Jade Goody or Jordan, who was around in 2000, see whose breasts were the biggest in 2000, Katie Price.
OK, I knew you'd know anyway.
Well, actually, she didn't have the biggest breasts though. Well, maybe they were the highest. Could you look it up and get back to me?
Because we nearly did a programme about the woman with the largest breasts. That was may have been my lowest professional level. I only made seven celebrity profiles in my whole career.
You probably made forty.
Yeah, but I didn't want to Louis. I wanted to do documentaries. Yeah.
And I don't know if criticism is implied, but when we got to the end, what you find and I wonder if you found the same thing, if you've done your job too well and exposed too much of the person that you're talking to, or maybe just if you've been unfair or you've taken liberties or they just don't like the way it turned out for whatever reason, then afterwards it makes it harder to get other people.
Oh, no, I don't have that. But really. Yeah, because I always said afterwards, because I was with these people a week. Is there anything you want out? I said to Fergie, do you want us to take out where you put yellow stickers that tell what colour your underpants are? No, we sign things. Everything in there was approved. The only time I did something sneaky was I showed during Imelda Marcos. And I'm not proud of this.
You know, you got backlog stories and they played that of speakers because they had been.
Do you think everyone knows he'd been the president of the Philippines? Yeah.
And then was crazy. And she was the one that collected all the shoes and she had something like 30000 pairs. We had a relationship except for that footage where you see what the real story was. I mean, to me, she was singing songs like Feelings. But unlike you, I would look to camera to show how crazy is this? I shouldn't have done that. I looked to camera all the time and people would laugh and say, Oh, well, Ruby's taking the piss.
I spoke to Clive before I spoke to you, and he mentioned something that I thought was interesting, which is I understood that you borrowed some jewellery before you interviewed her from Theel Phenyl.
Yeah. Who is Theo for now?
It's like a big jeweler, you know, big like bling, because I didn't want her to think I was a journalist, so she treated me like I was.
So you had 75000 pounds worth of jewellery and you knew that she would clock that?
Yeah. And seeing that would treat you differently. Yeah. Which would never even cross my mind. I think that's where I may have gone wrong in the past to think through how a woman of those tastes will view you. Right. And it made a difference. And there was something else that made a difference, too, wasn't there, with Hugh Hefner.
I had the full cleavage, but I was competing with 20 year olds. So it's kind of sad. But I need to show cleavage.
That's not why he loved me. I know why he did. Why did Hugh Hefner love you?
Because I treated him like a human rather than a joke. I treated him like a very smart man who had a group of friends that he meets every Friday night like these old Jews. And they play cards. It gives them pleasure. And he said, when I was 16, he saw some woman on the screen that he fell in love with.
So ever since he wants to have that image in front of him of a young 20 year old, you know, sometimes I don't care what they do wrong if I like them as individuals. I mean, I did find what I loved in Amelda. I understand she's a criminal. But, you know, like with you, there's human to human bonding going on. And that's what I would do. I'm not. Oh, I heard you killed some people.
That's not my job. No, I found myself liking Emelda. I know it's confusing, isn't it? Because you think, well, she's obviously done terrible things or at least been in cahoots with her, but she's charming.
Yeah. Would you ever have done a documentary about Jimmy Savile? No, why not? He's too creepy to me. Even then, he would have been even then I found him creepy.
But you did O.J. and you did Trump and you did Bill Cosby. In a way, I'm just curious, because that was the first time where I was aware of encroaching on your terrain, because that was the first time I did a celebrity profile. Until then, I'd done American subcultures. And I remember my producer at the time making a veiled joke about, oh, we're going to do something like Ruby Wax kind of thing.
And I didn't see it that way, but I could understand why comparisons would be made. And I also thought, I wonder if Ruby ever would do Jimmy Savile. And I thought, well, he's so far from Hollywood that maybe that kind of a British celebrity who's northen and sort of shrewd but also caged off would be difficult for you.
I don't know. You know, I've done a lot of English, but creepiness I wouldn't think would be a reason for you not to be creepy, that there's something when I know I won't like somebody, it shows on my face.
Had we not gotten to know each other, you would have seen what I think. Are you on my face? I can't fake it. So I don't want to go in an interview kind of being spooked by somebody. I mean, when I went to Trump, I thought I'd really like him. O.J., I don't know. He was a football star. But Jimmy Savile, his presence creeped me out. It's like mental illness when somebody, let's say, has an episode and they're the parent, I think.
Didn't you look so the same with Jimmy Savile? I knew he was perverted. I didn't know how, but I would have to ask that question. I just don't think that's a person I could let go and say, oh, how wonderful you are to children. It's great that you wear your shirt down to here and you're all slimy. I love your look with the cigar like you're sucking on your own.
You haven't seen it. Those are all the questions that I asked. Yeah, but I'm a female if kid I had too much jewelry on.
How are you doing for energy? We're going to come back to your book. I know I've taken a lot of your time. There's a couple of things I'd love to talk about if you've got time.
OK, how much do you think we can blame the Nazis for what you had to endure in your childhood in so far as your father was tortured? Right. No, he wasn't the woman you interviewed in. Who do you think you are? Seem to think your father had been tortured in jail.
He did tell me he was an aerobics teacher in jail, but he was young. Right. And rounded up and imprisoned for the crime of being Jewish. Yeah, but they didn't torture him. I mean, torture is knowing you're never going to see your friends again. But then my mother never said that we had a relative called Max. And then during that show, they tell me Max was murdered. My mother said nobody was murdered. You know, everybody's fine.
Another one was murdered. Then we went to a ghetto where and my aunt, Berta Parisian's, start in the Czech Republic.
When she got off the train, she was naked and she died in the snow going there where they made the old people that would be my great, great uncle lie in bunk beds like this. They had dysentery and no toilet. Let's picture that one. So that's where I came from.
But your parents escaped that fate, right? Your dad fled to Belgium, is that right? And then how did your mom get out?
She had the hamburgers in America. That's their name, like Judy Hamburger, Jered Hamburger. And they wrote her a certificate to say we're going to sponsor her. And she was so beautiful that when she got on the train, there were all these Nazis and they stood up so she could sleep. She was so spectacular. I don't look anything like her. But she had a job. She was working in business. She had like a degree in economics and spoke six languages.
I didn't know how smart she was, but she was smart.
So when you think about your upbringing and where your parents went wrong, were they just married to the wrong person?
Yeah, they got married to the wrong person and she'd sit smoking cigarettes with my dog humping her arm night after night. Just closed in hating my father. Yes. She had no life.
You know, this beauty. Suddenly it's got a shithole called Chicago and Selkie Things. She wasn't too happy.
And your dad came home in a Wienermobile a couple times.
Oscar Mayer Wiener was a big wiener on wheels. His factory was below my dad, so he'd give them lifts. And the tune when they hit the horn and on TV was, do they get it? But that's not funny. When you're young, when your dad pulls up in a diner, that's not funny.
It's cringe. It's beyond ass shutting cringe. I'm curious about your connection to the U.K., you know, coming to England, you've made this your home, right. And I'm just wondering, what do you think is behind that?
I was escaping Nazi America. My parents through got out.
I thought I got to get out of here meeting your family specifically. Right? Not America in general. No, I'm not parents. It's partly the Beatles. Yes.
I wanted to marry Paul and I wanted to be a classical actress. I had I mean, no, talent isn't even a cover in my high school. Everybody got a part in Hello, Dolly, except me. And there were 3000 people. I swear to God, I could not get a role in high school. So my mother sent me to somebody to teach me acting. And then I came to the UK to try to get well, I couldn't find Paul.
I did, finally. And it wasn't a girl who met Paul McCartney in the end.
This was that he was celebrating Buddy Holly and Jonathan Ross was the compere. And I sat at their table. It was buffet. So I'm in with his family. I talk to everyone, but I'm getting drunk and drunker. And now I'm with Paul and this is what I remember. He said, Oh, then I was in Hamburg. Like, I don't know. Instead of saying, yeah, you were called the Silver Beatles. I said, Yeah, yeah, yeah, enough about you.
I went to Beverly Hills Night School to learn shorthand. I came out of my mouth and then I don't remember anything and ended up under the table.
But that's a good joke. Like he I'm sure he would have appreciated that iconoclastic remark.
Now, a drunk woman sitting on your lap saying enough of you didn't really make him laugh.
How do you explain your long marriage, given your mental illness and difficult start in life family wise?
Are you married? Yes. How long for? Well, we've been together eighteen years, but we've only been married about seven years.
And is it the same as when you started? No, no, no.
It's not changes. It seems to change all the time. There's something called new relationship energy, which is that free sort of being head over heels in love with someone for the first time and that inevitably ebbs away. And then you settle into something that is companionship plus sex, you know, whenever you can get it. Sorry, that didn't sound very romantic. No, that's good. Did that answer your question?
Yeah, that's where it ends up.
And so thirty is it. Thirty five years of marriage. No, thirty.
But your oldest child is always thirty one. Yeah I know. So you've been together how long Louis. I don't know.
Things like the medication is doing something to your brain. No, it's good because I don't have to think about history. It's just a blur. I'm lying about my age.
Get it. Yeah.
I'm twenty eight and my oldest son is thirty one. So you've been married longer than you've been alive. Yes, that is true.
How do you explain your long marriage. Are you separated. Is that why this is awkward.
No, I'm just don't like talking about my age. It's not about it. I didn't really love him when I married him but I had a shrink and I said, Oh, I'm working with this director. And she said, what's he got? And I said, he's got heat. You know, it was one of those unions who made you always picture your landscape. And mine was always ice in the Arctic. And so I said, this guy has heat.
He was warm. She said, Miriam, I didn't even like him, but we were working together. And I thought, well, maybe she's got something there.
And I was like, old. You weren't that old. You were born in 1953. It's right there on Wikipedia.
OK, you don't have to talk about it. OK, Dawn French said you should go for this guy. And so I did. It was kind of artificial, but I picked the right person. It's like, you know, in Roulet you suddenly land on the right one.
So maybe you didn't have new relationship.
And, you know, this is a guy that leaves my mouth dragging on the floor. How tolerant he is of such a difficult woman. And he gave me three children that are normal. You understand? I owe him. My dad said when he met him, he said, this guy's a prince. Why would he marry you? And then he wrote a letter to Ed saying if she gets out of hand, beat her a couple times.
For real. For real. Ask Ed.
Ed's a really calm person. And he says, When I met your parents, I wanted to take their heads and bring them pay them into the side of a table because they say women marry their fathers and no, are you kidding?
And marry their mothers. But it sounds like in your case, you really dodged a bullet. I dodged a bullet through therapy.
Young saved you maybe maybe your have one saved you by some weird hocus pocus to do with heat, which sounds like nonsense. And yet in your case, it seems like it really worked.
He didn't make me sick. That's the first time a man didn't make me sick. You know, when I get too excited about them, I get sick.
Of course, I'm going to have a weird relationship with men now. I have a great relationship with them.
Do you think if we'd met in some kind of award show or a banquet or a gala? Did made in an award show? Well, we met at the Baptist, but I don't think we the only words we exchange was and the winner is very through, and I think I might have whispered, fuck you and your way.
I think you only give me one BAFTA because I'm sure that one of them was given to me by Eamonn Holmes.
That was me, too.
Right now it makes sense. He was wearing high heels and jewelry. I don't know.
Maybe we. Good. What do you think? Should we circle back to enough now the good news. Oh, OK. Get your number one bestseller.
I don't know if it's a bestseller because, you know, they say, could you get on TV and then you'd sell more.
Well, but you're ambivalent because there's a part of you that is let go and there's a part of you that's clinging on. It's like success in America. I kept thinking that, oh, my shows will be popular in America. One day they appeared on cable channels and I thought, you know, it's because I care too much. If I stop caring, then maybe they'll start doing well. And then I cared less and less. But I guess I still care a little bit because they don't really seem to be that popular.
No, my show's all flopped in America and even my book, that was number one. I went on a tour and that was my last nervous breakdown, which I wrote about in my book.
You were promoting a book about mental health and you had a breakdown during the book tour.
Yeah. And then I wrote about it in Frazzled Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled. And there is a chapter that has got to be seen to be believed.
Didn't you have a publicist looking after you who was insane? You know, I attract these people in Philadelphia. I eventually found my way onto a stage with a huge woman and said there was no audience. I said, but it's not a show, it's a book.
And they went, Who knew that was your last break down? Do you know the warning signs if another breakdown is heading your way? I got a little. Yeah, I do. I do do object start to glow or, you know, like if you're going to get a migraine, is it that kind of thing?
No. My thoughts, they start to speed up a lot and there's a white noise rather than just the usual voice that says you're an asshole, you're a failure.
That's my music. But the Depression has a whole different rhythm. So I can tell when it's coming, but, you know, I only do where I like to do unless there's a lot of money involved and then you can buy me for an hour if you see one heading your way.
Do you have a drill? You have a routine? Oh, yeah. I shut off all media. I don't take any phone calls. And last time I checked into a retreat, it was silent. And it hurts like hell because, you know, you're in pain. I can't explain the pain, but the depression passed after five days instead of five months and you're grit your teeth. But what you don't do is get depressed about having depression because that's what exasperates it.
The fear will people know, will I not be popular? Meanwhile, if you just say to people, I have depression, you know, finally, Jennifer Saunders, when I was doing a show, said, oh, that was what was wrong with you? And then she said, maybe I was the one that told you to perk up. People say perk up like you never thought of that. But Ed would hide me. He'd take me to the hospital and take me back out again.
So you've got a little once you recognize it, I would shut everything down, which people don't do. Usually when they're burning out, they speed it up. That's the human condition to show everybody that you're fine. I started going to every event to show, you know, myself. I was fine and I ended up at a charity for Save the Puffin or it's a dangerous thing because the puff and the winds are so high that they are blown into the Orkneys and they can't lay their eggs.
I think I said, well, then shoot the fuckers. And I was taken out. There's a few incidents like that, like learning to scuba dive in December. Those are signs The Puffin.
That could be the title of your next book. Thanks.
Thanks. I think we're good luck. I could talk and talk and I know you've got to think at twelve forty five and Paul doesn't like it to get too long because then he has to actually listen to it.
Do you think in the beginning of the show you could say and now for the good news to the future with love that it's kind of the best thing you've ever read.
OK, so here's the confession. I haven't read this one. Oh, I had time to read one, but I read this one. It's the other one that's so good.
This is really good, though. That book crashed and burned three people, bought Sunday Times bestseller. Oh, they're lying. That's a lie. And now for the good news is the best one.
We also didn't talk about covid very much, but that's a whole other can of worms, isn't it?
I don't really like talking about it because it becomes salacious that the word the talking about it and finding out how many people have died.
It's like talking about Trump. Do you want to just get angry? You know, people talk about these subjects so they can get each other really riled. And I don't want to get riled about that. I'd rather get riled about things like your career.
Exactly. Let's focus on the important issues. Why aren't I on TV more? That's the name of my next book. But by that, I know you want to see if I was mentioned it, you'd be the front cover with like a dartboard on your forehead. Sure. Somebody was even wearing a T-shirt with your face on it recently. And I couldn't eat.
You couldn't eat. I was in a restaurant and the guy had I love Louis through and I literally I choked on my sandwich.
How do you feel about my mug? Which People in radioland has Louis through?
Is the visual is a show visual? Well, because I have. And now for the good news tattooed on my ass. So.
All right, let's invite Paul and Catherine back, because it's always good to end on a joke. Right.
Do you have a joke, though, the way we're talking about you having your tattoo on your ass or tell me that wasn't a joke?
I think the time that you've been listening to Grounded with me, Louie, through my guest this week has been comedian, actor, writer and fellow interviewer and documentary maker Ruby Wax.
I've really enjoyed digging into those old shows.
And I'm not joking when I say that there could really be a kind of retrospective or I think there's something in that.
If I get rejected, why do I have to go through this?
You know, I get to meet extraordinary people that make me hopeful.
I don't have a camera crew and it still makes me happy. And I think if there was a camera crew filming what I'm seeing here, which is pretty remarkable, it would take it away.
This has been a mindless house production for BBC Sounds and Radio for Put Together Remotely by Catherine Mannan and Paul Coatrack.
Remember, you can catch up with the rest of my interviews from this series and the previous one, just search for Grounded with Louis through wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe.
I know that at the end of a Louis through interview, especially one as good as the one that you've just heard with really works, I like to go for a lie down in a dark room to contemplate life's magnitude and Louie's wisdom. And it's annoying when people pop up and say, why don't you pop along and listen to this? But we're doing that.
Jane Garvey, apathetically, Glover lover. We are, yes. What would we like people to listen to? Well, apart from the next Louis Through Grounded podcast, of course, which next time features no lesser person than comedian Frankie Boyle, we do a podcast together called Fortunately, in which we choose the kind of midlife that actually I don't like fat or gristle of any kind. So it's very challenging indeed for me. We have top guests from the worlds of show business, the literary world and Indy Broadcasting, and we've had loads of legends on our program.
We've got some cracking guests coming up in 2021 and we have a relationship with our listeners. We do already have some, which I think is matched by now. I'm going to say it. It's unmatched in the podcast world. So if you want to be part of what passes for all gang, you too can join in with, fortunately, whenever you like.
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