How We Met: Humphrey Ker & Dan Snow
'If Dan didn't make it, I'd step in. I was devastated when he arrived'
Dan Snow, 32
An award-winning historian and author, Dan Snow is best known for the BBC's 'Whose Britain is it Anyway?' and 'Battlefield Britain', which he co-hosts with his father, the 'Newsnight' presenter Peter Snow. He is married and lives in London
I was over at a friend's house for dinner a few years back and the guy sat next to me was being a bit cagey, like there was something he wanted to talk about but felt it wasn't the right time for. If you love military history, it's like being a Christian back in early Rome – you have to give little signals to show your interest. I made a joke about a Spitfire and he came back straight away asking which mark it was, and that made me think, "This guy knows a bit about military history."
Since then we've become good friends; he and I have this thing where we compare everything to some seismic historical event. We might go to a pub and I'll say, "Wow, there's a two-for-one offer on these pints," and he'll go, "Oh, that's the best news since Eisenhower was told D-Day could go ahead." We love making completely ridiculous metaphors and historical parallels.
Our relationship is like being with two really old men: when some dude who did something amazing during the Second World War has died we like to send the obituaries to each other. And when you love military history there's always lots to talk about: human beings have been killing one another in bizarre ways for 5,000 years of recorded history and events decided on the battlefield have shaped every aspect of our social, political and economic life.
It's also, I think, part of why he's a good comedian; he has a deep understanding of the past and what's shaped the British character. He teases out aspects of Britishness and parodies them rather well. He's even taken the piss out of history presenters, which is quite good: using my intonation and tone of voice but making it quite rude and silly.
He has such a large face and when he grins it splits his face right down the middle with this infectious smile. He likes to try and catch me out. So he'll sidle up to me at, say, a wedding and in front of everyone say, "So Dan, you excited today about the anniversary of the Battle of Kursk?" and all the other people around us look completely bemused.
Humphrey Ker, 29
The co-founder and one third of Victoriana-themed comedy troupe The Penny Dreadfuls, Ker is the recent winner of Best Newcomer at the Foster's Comedy Awards. He lives in London with his partner
I met him at a wedding in Scotland, I think. We were sat either side of a very pretty, unfortunate girl, who was slightly sidelined when we got talking in depth about tank battles of the Second World War, using pepper pots to illustrate where Hoth's 4th Fourth Panzer Army really should have punched through the Russian defensive lines of Stalingrad and she wasn't that down with it.
Next time I saw him we got right back on it; when you're obsessive about something to the extent it's socially exclusive, and you find someone else equally dorky about it, you can't miss the opportunity to get friendly. He's become someone I can just ring up and say, "Oh my god, this weekend when I was driving in Dorset with my girlfriend I saw a rusty old Wellington bomber in a field!" There are weird things all over place but there are few people who are interested in that.
I've watched him on all the TV shows he's done, including those great ones he did with his dad abut great tank battles [BBC's 20th Century Battlefields]. I'm a voracious history dork, too, which is the root of our friendship, and I went to see Dan interviewing some Spitfire pilots recently, which I was super jealous of. There was some talk that if Dan couldn't make it, I would step in, so I was devastated when he arrived.
What makes him a good presenter? Irritatingly, I think it's because he's handsome, though he's also erudite and passionate, especially when he's presenting with his dad, as they're a brilliant double act. I've looked at photos of Peter when he was Dan's age and they look exactly alike.
We've been on quite a lot of history-themed outings together, too, such as visiting the National Army Museum in London to look at the Commando comics covers exhibition. The thing about Dan is that there's definitely a buccaneering streak to him. I get the impression that if he had been born 200 years or so ago, he would have been the person who went out to carve a huge slice of the British Empire and when he makes his mind up on something, he'll go, "Right, I'm going to go and walk from here to Chandigarh [India]." I get stuck deciding whether I can face walking out to Nando's.
The Foster's Comedy Awards Winners Gala is on 11 December, at the Soho Theatre, London W1. 'Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher!' is also at the Soho Theatre, from 26 January to 4 February 2012. sohotheatre.com
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