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Phil Jupitus
Phil Jupitus
Opinion » Celebrity Interviews

Interview with Phil Jupitus

Phil Jupitus is an English stand-up and improvised comedian, actor, performance poet, musician and podcaster. He has been a team captain on BBC Two's popular music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks since its inception in 1996 and also appears regularly as a guest on several other panel shows, including QI and BBC Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

When in your life have you been most broke? How bad did it get exactly?

I spent 6 months working as a bank messenger in London in 1985 and was on about £50 a week before tax and NI. My girlfriend left me, so most of that money went on rent. My one proper meal of the day was taken in the subsidised bank canteen, or the Bangladeshi cafes near Cable Street. I'm still here so it wasn't that bad.

What were the worst jobs you ever did and what made them so bad? Were there any benefits?

I did temp work in a sealant factory in Suffolk for three weeks in 1979. The other lads thought it might be funny to get me to clean out one of the feed hoppers, using the industrial solvent Xyelene without a protective face mask. I was totally off my nut within 5 minutes.

What were your digs like back then?

I lucked into a company let flat in Shadwell which was £114 a month, so I never had any problems with somewhere to live.

What was your favourite budget meal? Do you still enjoy it?

Peeled plum tomatoes on toast. I do indeed.

Any interesting money saving/making tips you picked up back then?

If I didn't have it then I couldn't spend it. My mates at the time were all getting into hock on their credit cards, but as I was tacitly self employed and couldn't get a credit rating I couldn't get a card, which I think was my saving grace because I'd have torn the shit out of mine if I had one. If you do get into any kind of debt, no matter how small, then clear it as soon as is possible.

What was the worst thing about being skint? Were there any upsides?

Not being able to travel. On the upside I lost weight.

Did you ever do something that you regret like borrow money with intending to pay it back or drink lighter fluid Withnail style just to keep warm?

Fortunately I never sunk that low. I did have to sleep in my clothes because I couldn't afford heat at one point. I had an aversion to claiming benefits, so if I knew I was going to be unemployed I'd go get a job. Even if it was minimum wage labouring or clerking, I'd sooner be doing something than sitting at home.

What was your lowest point?

One time in early 85 I was staying with friends and wasn't earning anything and there was some casual remark about me freeloading, so I just went home to my mum for a couple of weeks. I could never stand people one minute saying "Of course it's alright for you to stay..." and not meaning it. If you don't want someone staying in your house then don't offer.

How did you manage to keep your dreams alive?

I didn't really have dreams as such. But from 1984 I was dabbling with performance work, so every once in a while, the odd cash job would come along as a bit of a bonus. After I'd been performing for a year I got a tax demand for £2,000 which I quite simply didn't have. But I didn't know that the Inland Revenue would just ballpark what you owed, on what they assumed you had earned. That demand terrified me so much at the time that I got an accountant (Graham, a Rotary Club member and Tory. I was the only agit-prop poet on his books.) He has looked after me ever since. He likes to rub my self employment and success in my face as some kind of proof that the free market works. A good accountant will save you headaches and money.

What was the defining moment that turned your fortunes around?

Cracking the Comedy Store and Jongleurs in 1991 and becoming a regular on the London stand up circuit.

What's the largest amount of cash you've ever had on you at one time and what was it for?

£5,000 to buy a car.

What's your latest project and what plans do you have for the future?

Currently on tour in Spamalot, and in August I shall be dabbling in stand up again at the Edinburgh Festival.

What one piece of advice can you give young people with ambitions of being successful?

Do what you do because you love it, and if it makes you any money as well then that's a bonus. But if you're looking for money as a primary goal, nine times out of ten you just fucked yourself.

Wednesday, 20th July 2011

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