‘Johnny’ was a coping mechanism who could take those things which could have ordinarily destroyed me, by tweaking my past and throwing it back out there, getting laughs from things that would have otherwise upset me.
‘Johnny’ was always a lone wolf when he got on stage. Him against the world, whereas suddenly, when I got into acting, people were relying on me.
Baldness is visually enough of a stigma as it is without a big sweaty bloke on stage pointing it out.
Being ‘Johnny’ was almost like an out of body experience. I thought he was just a character that I’d created and could quite easily step away from, but it was much more difficult than that.
Being behind the camera is where I feel comfortable. I’ve found something that I feel I, as ‘Michael,’ can be as confident in as ‘Johnny’ was on the stage. It’s great being part of the creative process. You’re right at the start of an idea, and you get to see it all the way through till the end.
Class still matters in Britain today.
Comedy’s so subjective, and if someone comes to watch, doesn’t get it, doesn’t find it funny, then fine.
For the greater good, I thought I should be a spiritual leader for people for some reason.
From a certain age, I sort of accepted myself for what I was. And although to other people it was like nothing ever goes right, I had a really nice attitude that I’d inherited from my parents, and especially from my dad.
Had I become a priest, the sermons would’ve been electric!
Health-wise, I couldn’t have said what my life expectancy would’ve been if I’d just carried on doing solid blocks of stand-up.
I actually enjoy being heckled; it keeps it interesting, and I think it is a nice feeling for people once they have left the show.
I also want to return to doing stand-up. I’ve become frightened of live audiences. This is a really telling sign that I need to go back on the comedy circuit again.
I always feel like an interloper when I do serious drama. It’s my own paranoia.
I always say that the stand-up world is the arena of the unwell, and it is.
I am a big fan of smelly cheeses but the rest of the family don’t seem to be particularly keen on them.
I am very proud of what ‘Johnny’ achieved in stand-up comedy because he believed entirely in giving an audience the best kick he could. But he was someone who was quite detrimental to my health, both emotionally and physically.
I avoid any kind of organised trips as that’s one of my bugbears.
I believe that Britain is becoming more class-conscious, and I quake at the very idea of Old Etonians ruling the world again.
I came back from university thinking I knew all about politics and racism, not knowing my dad had been one of the youngest-serving Labour councillors in the town and had refused to work in South Africa years ago because of the situation there. And he’s never mentioned it – you just find out. That’s a real man to me. A sleeping lion.
I came from a very loving home, had a happy life with no great aspirations, but going to the seminary changed me. There was a chunk of my childhood missing. Once I’d realised it wasn’t for me, I still felt a tremendous pressure to continue for fear of letting everybody down.
I couldn’t be ‘Johnny’ in front of a camera in acting jobs and behind the camera I like to be ‘Michael.’ With directing, you can’t do it by halves. There’s a lot of reflection, and I have found that I, as ‘Michael,’ thrive on it. It’s lovely coming home and feeling that stuff from a day’s work as myself.
I do need to explore my faith, because it has got lost over the years and it has been kind of tainted through experience. But I also know it’s enriched my life, my dad being a Catholic.
I don’t want to demonise ‘Johnny.’ I was really proud of what he achieved. Especially within stand-up. He was quite a unique voice. I will always possibly be trading off ‘Johnny’s name, but there’s a lot more things that I’m able to do now – the strengths that ‘Michael’ can bring to it.
I found popularity through self-destruction, and that can be quite addictive.
I get obsessed with decorations and decorating the house. I keep it tasteful outside, but when you get inside it is a bit like Blackpool illuminations, I go bonkers!
I had a massive amount of self-belief when I did stand-up.
I hate flying, airports and the whole rigmarole – queuing up, security and lost luggage.
I love the way my weight fluctuates in the newspapers. It was 18 stone and then people look at a bad picture of me and add a few more stone on. I think the highest was 22 stone.
I sang ‘American Pie’ a lot in my stage set. It had a knack of uniting an audience in a sing-along. It’s a clever song about American history but wrapped in a fantastic tune.
I still give myself the right to be highly critical of others, though.
I struggle as a writer, and I’m convinced that if I was at school now, I’d be termed as having ADS. Two minutes and I’m drifting.
I think I’m realising more and more that I’ve got a job to do and I can’t be doing the big nights out and working to my full potential the next day. I feel much better for it.
I think if you’re at the point where you’re popular enough to sell your wedding photos to OK! Magazine then you don’t need the money.
I think it sort of dawns on you that if you’re not gigging constantly you’re not actually relevant. You may be relevant to a different part of the media now, to television commissioners and editors, but to a young live-comedy audience you’re not, really.
I thought I could play the hellraiser and then put ‘Johnny Vegas’ back in his box. I found popularity through self-destruction. The more you damage yourself, the more people are drawn to you, and that can be quite addictive. It is not a lifestyle you can maintain.
I trained to be a priest – started to. I went to seminary school when I was 11. I wanted to be a priest, but when they told me I could never have sex, not even on my birthday, I changed my mind.
I use very few muscles at the best of times.
I used to attract a lot of feeders. I’d be quite happy to be locked in someone’s flat and fed liquidised burgers.
I used to be good with kids, but as I get older, I’m grumpy and terrible with them. As for doing a gig at a 6-year old’s birthday party, you couldn’t pay me enough.
I wanted to try and trace the genuine origins of ‘Johnny’ and how he so successfully staged this takeover of ‘Michael Pennington.’ ‘Johnny’ is a contradiction to who I am as a person. I’m not very good at confrontation, I have a tendency to internalise and to carry things around.
I was loved as a kid; I was raised with more love and emotional support than most folks could wish for… my memories aged nought to ten… are all bound up together in a mesh of innocence and fun.
I’d never experienced stress before I did stand-up, and it was a massive shock to my system, this thing of waking up, and the nerves of, ‘You’re on stage tonight.’
I’m getting positive feedback for my acting so we’ll see if any other interesting parts come up.
I’m loath to use my personal life to promote what I do, but at the same time, I don’t like a journalist going away with no more than you could get off Wikipedia, where most of it’s invented anyway.
I’ve always been looking for other people’s approval.
I’ve always said that with kids’ TV that people get stuck in it from drama school but that’s not fair because I know myself that when you go in creatively, kids are so much more open to ideas. You’re so much freer to mess about and try things.
I’ve been offered all the reality TV shows but have turned them down. If I did it as ‘Johnny,’ there’d be no jungle left! It was really hard regaining control of myself, so I am reluctant to let ‘Johnny’ back out of the box.
I’ve got little ankles and a bit of a belly, so it makes me look rather an egg on legs.
I’ve got my finger in a lot of pies.
I’ve got too much respect for stand-ups to call myself one.
I’ve spent lots of time in London, I studied in London, I like London. It’s just not my home.
If an original piece of wardrobe came up from Star Wars, I’d probably spend a lot of money on it.
If you write, produce and direct, you own things and see them through to the end.
In credits, I’m ‘Michael’ sometimes now, but people know you as something, so there’s no point fighting it. ‘Squiggle,’ you’ll always be ‘Prince,’ and ‘The Rock,’ just accept it. I want to move on, but not that much. So I’m still known as ‘Johnny Vegas.’
It can be tough as a jobbing actor.
It is easy for me to love myself, but for ladies to do it is another question altogether.
It’s lovely being a parent and being in a strong marriage with somebody who is your best friend.
My agent once said, ‘You’re not very driven.’ And it’s true. I’m not the type to ring up and go, ‘Get me this part!’
My first holiday to San Francisco in 1998-99 was supposed to be a two-week vacation but I ended up staying five weeks and nearly didn’t come home.
My forte is playing drunks down the ages. When my agent rings me about a role, I don’t ask what the part is, but what century it’s in.
My name is Michael Pennington, and I am not a comic character.
My work’s never been accepted by my family, but it’s something I’ll always carry on with.
Never try to be witty with U.S. airport officials. It’s always lost on them and you’ll find yourself being put back on the plane.
Oh, I’m terrible at travel.
People are always asking, ‘Where does Michael Pennington end and Johnny Vegas begin,’ and you’re going, ‘It’s not like that: it’s blurred right across.’
Some comics are in it for what they can get out of it. Others are in it for a love of comedy. I think those that are in it for a genuine love of comedy find each other within the circuit and become friends.
The cheese board is my big treat at Christmas that I have to deny myself during the rest of year.
The idea of being on TV 24 hours a day and people seeing the real me… No.
There have been times I’ve finished a big job and thought, ‘Great, a couple of weeks off.’ But then a couple of weeks turns to three weeks and then after a month you’re staring at the phone willing it to ring.
There is something more spiritual to us than what we are on this earth, but how you access it I’m not sure.
There was always that thing with ‘Johnny’ – I always saw myself as his writer and PR. But when he got out there, I had no control. His whole thing was going off on those flights of fancy. Going, ‘Let’s see what we can possibly do that hasn’t been done before up here.’ And when it works, it’s lovely; it’s a great night.
There’s a domino effect with certain things you say.
There’s lots of stuff about me being a fan of Cliff but not being gay. Which suggests that he is, but he’s not. Anyway, this is Channel 4, let their lawyers sort it out.
There’s this idea that it has to be made in London. But we’ve got everything up here, and if you’ve got comics who are gifted because of where they’re from, you shouldn’t drag them away from that natural resource.
They look outside the windows of their apartment in town and realize they’re not living in a terrace anymore. This is a room full of dreamers who like to go to London for a day.
This autocue was obviously written for someone else and I’ve been brought in at the last minute.
Up North you are holding your own. Everyone considers themselves a comedian.
We all have days where we can’t pronounce things or give it the emotion it deserves.
We had a week off in the middle of shooting, but as soon as everyone stopped, we all went down with six different types of flu and other unmentionable diseases.
When I wasn’t as attractive as I am now, I suffered at the hands of cruel children and their taunts until I realised that confidence and a bit of aesthetic care can overcome that.
With stand-up you’ve just got that one chance. Audiences can be quite fickle.
Writing a book about yourself is like therapy, and you go ‘Oh My God, that’s the reason that happened.’ Writing about it, you’re forced to really examine things.
You always hear people saying, ‘I hope I’m not turning into my dad’, but I’d be honoured if I became half as decent a bloke as he is.
You can sway an audience if you win the women over. The gentlemen will follow ’cause they can be so foolish like that at times, they are easily led.
You can’t be a proper comic unless you’ve been out on stage and felt the fear.
You don’t want to be flattered and become big-headed by getting awards. But, well, I am.
You get people who come to London, sever links with where they come from, and then when they need people, there’s nobody there. To feel like you can’t go back home would be a horribly sad place to be, as is mistaking fame for genuine love and affection.
You know, there’s that temptation in interviews to make yourself sound – well, to give yourself a bit of mystery.