Phill Jupitus: You ask the questions

(Such as: so, ever considered dieting? And what's been your best heckle on the stand-up circuit?)
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The Independent Online

Phill Jupitus, 39, was born on the Isle of Wight, and his family moved to Essex when he was four. He went to primary school in Barking, before winning a scholarship to Woolverstone Hall, a boarding school near Ipswich. He dropped out before A-levels and worked as a Job Centre clerk for five years. In 1984, he became a performance poet named Porky and then got a job with the record label Go! Discs, becoming the Housemartins' press officer and directing videos. He left in 1989 to become a stand-up comedian. He is a team captain on BBC2's comedy music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks and, since Monday, has been the presenter of the breakfast show on the BBC's new digital radio station, Radio 6 Music. He lives near Southend, Essex, with his wife and two daughters.

As an Essex resident, what's your view of gags about your home county?
Jessica Booker, East Grinstead

I've got a very dim opinion of them. It was just part of a pervasive misogyny in the City in the Eighties. They are just repackaged blonde jokes. My mum's from Essex as well and I know for a fact that she would put her chips down before proceeding with any kind of loving.

Why on earth do you live in Southend?
Edward Forrester, by e-mail

There's nothing wrong with Southend. It's the home of the British blues movement. It's got the longest pleasure pier in the world – unless it's been eclipsed by now. They keep having to change the sign. It was the longest pier in the world, then the longest pleasure pier and I think it may now be the longest pleasure pier in England. Eventually it'll be the longest pleasure pier in Essex, then Southend.

Do your children think you're funny?
Andrea Cainer, by e-mail

Yes, but I can tickle them. I can't do that to an audience because, frankly, I'd get lawsuits.

What is the etymology and genealogy of Jupitus?
Bernard Sharp, Keighley

A lot of people think it's made up, but it is my stepdad's name. He's not really my stepdad, but he's been looking after me since I was born, and I took his name when I was 16. I was called Swan before that. The Jupitus family came over in 1917 from Lithuania. The name is pronounced Se-pi-tus but it's written in Cyrillic script, and when they went through immigration, the guy wrote down "Jupitus". So my name is just an immigration official's estimation of the Cyrillic spelling.

Ever thought about dieting, or is your trademark bulky frame part of your appeal?
Michael Price, Cardiff

I know my appearance belies it, but I actually have a personal trainer. I think about my weight all the time; it's laziness that makes me how I am.

What's been your best heckle on the stand-up circuit?
John Hall, London

It was very clever. Back when I was at my busiest time on the stand-up circuit in London, there was one night when I was doing five gigs, all of which were listed in Time Out. So I went on for the late show at the Comedy Store, having already done four gigs. I was half-way through the set and a bloke looked up at me and, audible to no one but me, said, "You've already done this bit." I looked round at Stan, the stage manager, and asked him, He said I hadn't done it. But I looked down at this guy and said, "That is the best heckle I've ever had."

Kylie or Dido?
Zoe Jennings, Newcastle-upon-Tyne


I hear that you had some nasty experiences at boarding school. Do they still bother you?
Sarah MacGregor, Windsor

Yes. What some of the older boys did was sexual abuse. They hunt down lots of people now for doing it, but I don't know what the statute of limitations is on that sort of thing. Stephen Fry makes a very spirited defence of boarding schools in his autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot. He says he thinks it's good for teenage boys to be sequestered away from society when they are at their most annoying age. But I just don't think that's true of all boys. Many people who went to boarding schools found them an enriching place, whereas I thought it was like some sort of perverts' sex dungeon with too much rugby. I would never send my kids to one.

You rehearse those intros on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, don't you?
Karen Simon, by e-mail

Yes, we do. A case in point is Lemmy from Motörhead – he's not heard anything other than his own band for the past 30 years. I'm joking, but we did have to run him through the intro to "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ol' Oak Tree". Similarly, boy-band members have never heard of Deep Purple. You're there with Ben from A1, saying, "Let's do 'Smoke on the Water'." And he's like, "What?" But we practise for 10 minutes at most. It's just refreshing their memory – and mine, too.