Rob Beckett on being himself, lockdown life and his funny new TV show

Danielle de Wolfe discovers what makes the comedian tick.

Danielle de Wolfe
Tuesday 21 September 2021 12:09

Lockdown has turned comedian Rob Beckett 35, into something of a Swiss Army knife. First, joining forces with fellow comedian Josh Widdicombe his hit twice-weekly podcast Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe’s Parenting Hell was born.

Next he continued to tickle our funny bones with the help of friend and long-time collaborator Romesh Ranganathan on Rob and Romesh Vs – before recently announcing his latest project, Rob Beckett’s Undeniable. A Comedy Central panel show which sees him discovering facts that sound almost too absurd to be true.

With Google on standby, we find out more about the show – and those viral Euro 2020 Instagram videos, from the London-born stand-up himself.

Tell us about your new TV show, Rob Beckett’s Undeniable…

“Well, it’s basically like QI but a bit more chilled, a bit more relaxed. I don’t really know what most of the facts are, we’re learning together and it’s really just great prep for a stag-do that might be low banter, because you can take these facts with you and just dish them out left, right and centre. It feels like being in a pub with your mates on a Saturday afternoon, someone saying something and then calling them out, and then it descends into an argument.

“I know a lot about what I know, which is obviously football and comedy, because that’s what I’m into. So, for me it was like going back to school. I didn’t learn anything at school – I just learnt how to avoid a fight.”

How has performing live felt after lockdown?

“[Audiences] do seem way more up for it. I don’t know if I’ve got better or their expectations are lower – we’ll have to see how this proceeds over the next few months. But it’s lovely just seeing people out… As much as people can watch shows and stream, there’s nothing like the live environment, and that’s what I try and encapsulate whenever I do a TV show.

“Some semi-scripted stuff is good, but I like stuff that’s happening and is real – that’s why I love Gogglebox, it’s real. The car scenes in Rob and Ramesh are real. We don’t plan any of that, it’s just us chatting. And in [Undeniable] it’s just happening; there’s not loads of pre-production, I haven’t got loads of pre-prepared jokes. I love real moments… And also, I don’t like working too hard, do you know what I mean? I used to work at a flower market, I don’t want to be mucking about writing things for weeks on end.”

How did you find lockdown on the whole?

“When you’re from a working-class background, you have this poverty mindset where you think money’s a certain amount, and the tap can be switched off. So, you’re like ‘Get it in before I get cancelled’, before they say, ‘Actually, you’re not that funny’, because I didn’t have much self worth. I just thought I was lucky and it was a hobby that got out of hand. My greatest fear was everything stopping – all work stopping, my tour stopping. And then that sort of happened in lockdown. And actually, out of that came more Rob and Ramesh, the Parenting Hell podcast which is mega – it’s the biggest podcast in the country at the moment. And then I sort of calmed down a bit, enjoyed myself, stopped working on fear, and actually started working on what got me into it in the first place, which was the joy and the passion of doing it.. That’s why I started comedy, I have fun on stage.”

We have to ask about your Instagram videos during the Euros…

“I think I was just enjoying myself… I went to the football and I just got drunk and it was really good for me, because I didn’t second-guess what I should be putting out. It wasn’t, ‘Oh my God, I shouldn’t put that, what if someone sees me drunk? I might not get on telly!’ I just engaged in the moment, which was me at the football. And then I think it struck a chord because it was so honest.

“Sometimes in TV and in the media, everyone’s giving them a version of themselves – and I’d certainly been doing that for 10 years, but I feel like I’ve turned the corner slightly. And I’m now just giving you who I really am, which was on the Instagram video, and which actually people preferred than the person I was creating.”

Rob Beckett’s Undeniable airs on Comedy Central on Wednesday, September 29