INTERVIEW: David Baddiel | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As the current decade proves, David Baddiel has lost none of his ability to find humour in interesting places and start important conversations.

Riding red-hot on the back of this year’s debut play God’s Dice, which followed his 2016 award-winning stand-up show My Family: Not The Sitcom, the plaudits for Baddiel’s work offer proof that he remains one of the country’s very best in creating thought-provoking, unique, comedy. Choosing to often use his work as a vehicle for honest personal revelations, there’s perhaps a secondary compliment to also pay Baddiel; in today’s era of fake news and virtual signalling, Baddiel’s honesty may make him not just one of our very best creatives, but also one of our most important. Orwell’s notorious quote that ‘in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act’ perhaps should footnote.

Unlikely to be deliberately proving this point, Baddiel’s current theatrical one-man show, Trolls: Not The Dolls, explores the impact social media, specifically Twitter, is having on our daily actions, as well as how his own inability to be nothing but honest is perceived in today’s ‘perfect world’ culture. “There’s probably two things for me,” reveals Baddiel, “I don’t have time to put out a version of myself that isn’t real and I also have an inability to be anything other than myself.”

I don’t have time to put out a version of myself that isn’t real and I also have an inability to be anything other than myself

Those who follow Baddiel’s Twitter will have borne witness to how this honesty plays out in real-time and how he pushes in directions others perhaps often don’t. “I tend to treat trolls on Twitter as I would a heckler at a comedy show, so I perhaps do the opposite of what most people do, which is that I react to trolls rather than ignoring them.”

Exploring not only this treatment of trolls, but also how social media has created an almost echo-chamber of virtue signalling and fakeness, Baddiel is keen to explore the wider effects of how social media impacts our culture. “The show is quite a political show but not political in its traditional sense. I would consider myself as no-wing and have no real political sway so what I’m more interested in is how social media has affected our politics, as well as the reaction people often give politicians on Twitter. There’s been some recent incidents with Nicola Sturgeon which are really interesting to observe when it comes to observing trolls and what behaviour we now accept as normal.” 

Admitting that he’s just as addicted to Twitter as those he’s commenting on, Baddiel remains optimistic, seeing a culture where social media can live alongside a normally functioning society. “I don’t want to say too much about the end of the show but maybe the solution is based on empathy and by imagining the person on the other side of the screen.” 

Until we reach that point in our evolution it’s clear that Baddiel will carry on starting important conversations and finding humour in interesting places. “Twitter is very angry and mad, but it’s also funny.”

David Baddiel – Trolls: Not The Dolls is at Theatre Royal, Newcastle on Sunday 16th February

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