January 28, 2021
Comedian, filmmaker, and author Danny Wallace joins Jameela this week to discuss how his book Yes Man changed her life, the culture of rudeness, parenting young children, what its like being an only child. Check out Danny Wallace’s book, Fuck You Very Much, wherever books are sold.
43 — Danny Wallace
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil. How are you? You know, I’m all right. I’ve enjoyed the news a bit more for once–for a change. I’ve liked all of the action coming out of the Biden-Harris administration. I like the talk of climate change control. I like the talk of racial equality being taken seriously and police reform being addressed so instantly. This feels hopeful. I hope they keep up the same energy throughout the next four–or hopefully eight–years because it feels good. I’m developing something called faith–something I had lost for a really long time. So, I’ll try not to get too overexcited, but–dammit–we deserve to be a bit excited wherever we can because these are bleak times. I hope you’re starting to feel a bit better. January is finally ending. God, January was long. Fuck me. It was like a year-long. I thought it was never going to end. It was awful. It was so awful. I felt so awful during it. And so, I’m enjoying that ending. And–I don’t know–I’m sensing a tiny bit more positivity and energy coming back into the people around me–the people that I follow online. We’re moving on. We are such resilient people. We’re such a resilient generation. We should be so proud of ourselves for everything that we managed to withstand. I know I say that often, but I really mean it. Thank you, by the way, for sending so many lovely messages to Britteny Floyd-Mayo. She was my guest last week. She goes by the name Trap Yoga Bae on Instagram, and she has the most extraordinary life story–one of the more extraordinary ones I’ve not only ever had on this podcast but I’ve ever heard in my life. And if you are not into yoga, that’s okay. This episode is still for you because I’m not into yoga. I’m not really into any kind of exercise in particular. And I always found it very, very inaccessible. And she talks about it in this way that makes it sound so fun, and funny, and invigorating, and empowering, and just real. It doesn’t feel pretentious or inaccessible. She is diversifying the world of yoga–the world of exercise–and not just bringing Black women in but women of all different backgrounds and all different sizes. She is making yoga a party. And it’s mostly just the human she is, her philosophies on life, how she’s managed to develop them through such immeasurable hardship. She’s such a legend, so definitely go back and give that a listen if you missed it. But for those thousands and thousands and thousands of you who did and enjoyed it, thank you for your messages. I really appreciated them. I shall try and get her back as soon as possible, and I will be featuring her more and more on my Instagram because I think she might be the legend that we need to carry us through this year. Anyway, onto this week’s guest. So, this man–his name is Danny Wallace. He wrote a book many, many years ago called The Yes Man. And it became an international success–a global phenomenon. And then Jim Carrey even made a movie about his book. Now, the reason I bring this up is because this book had maybe the biggest impact on my entire life that any book ever has–or may ever will–because it’s about this man who’s in a real slump in his life. He’s just fallen apart, he’s not got the energy to do anything, and he makes a snap decision one day to just start saying “yes” to life, start saying “yes” to everything, start saying “yes” to adventure to find out where “yes” would take him in life. And it’s a hilarious book full of ups and downs that yeses can take us to. And it just came at the right moment. I was coming out of my teens when I read it, and I had been such a fearful, shamed, scared, lonely, trepidatious, reticent person–the exact opposite of the woman I am now. And I read that book and thought, “Maybe I’ll start saying ‘yes’ but ‘yes’ on my terms. Not ‘yes’ to what patriarchy, or misogyny, or society tells me to say ‘yes’ to. ‘Yes’ to my own adventures.” And so, some examples of that are that one day as an English teacher, I was asked would I like to try out for a job on national television in the UK on the biggest show–the biggest youth entertainment show–they ever had. And I first said, “No.” And then I thought, “Well, what would Danny Wallace want me to do? He’d want me to say ‘yes.’” So I went to that audition, and by some miracle got it, and started what has now been a 13-year career in a completely different industry–one I was never, ever planning on being in or remotely prepared for. Years later, I was told that maybe I would be good on the radio. And I thought, “Well, that would be really difficult, and technical, and humiliating if I’m bad at it.” And, you know, radio is a very specific thing where you’re controlling the desk at the same time as talking, and you can’t rely on people being able to see your facial expressions. So, similarly to podcasting, you have to communicate everything just with your voice. And you feel so exposed–so naked–to all of your listeners. And I immediately said, “No.” And then I thought again, “Well, what would Danny Wallace say? He’d say, ‘Yes.’ He’d set himself up for the national humiliation and go for it.” So, I did. And that went fine. Within about a year, I was given a job as the first woman in history to ever host the official chart on BBC Radio one–such an iconic radio station. And it had been on air for 60 years. And they’d never let a woman host it. And I would never have known that had I not decided to say “yes” to very likely national humiliation. And it was tough. And people gave me a hard time when I started, but I persevered. Then I thought about moving to America. I was 28 years old, and people were telling me I was too old, and I was a size UK 12, which is a US 8. And they said I was too fat, which is fucking insane. And they said that I was maybe too ethnic. There weren’t a lot of South Asians in the American industry–both on and off camera–so there was no point me leaving this industry over in the UK where I was lucky enough to have built a name for myself against all odds. I knew that Danny Wallace would have wanted me to say “yes.” So, I hopped on a plane–on a one-way ticket–with no visa, no plans, no friends. And I moved here and decided to figure out how to make a life for myself. Once here, I was asked to audition for this TV show called The Good Place with Mike Schur. And I thought, “No! I can’t act. I draw a line here. I will not act opposite Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, who will only make me look like an even shitter actor because they’re so good. I’m not even with a bunch of amateurs. I’m with a bunch of legends.” But fucking Danny Wallace–always in my head. He would have wanted me to say “yes.” He’s alive; I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m like that. So, I did. I said, “Yes.” And I went to the audition. I got it. And look at how it changed my life. My twenties and thirties have been a lifelong experience with not only the word “no,” when it is appropriate, but also the word “yes,” when it’s appropriate for me. And some things have been a disaster, but most of it has just been so much adventure, and so much excitement, and so many new facets and parts of myself that I would never have found had I not just said “no” to fear, and “yes” to adventure, and “yes” to understanding that whatever you do–if you fuck it up–it’s okay because it’s a great story at the pub with your friends. Humiliation is very, very bonding. And it’s fun to talk about once it’s passed. And so, you know, it goes along with everything that I always say on this podcast about failure–that I now think failure is cool, failure is funny, failure is an experience, and failure is noble because success isn’t guaranteed. And I really think I learned that from this book. So, I have him on. I talked to him a lot about this book, but we also talk about his other book, Fuck You Very Much, which he wrote a couple of years ago–brought it out at the end of 2018. And it’s about rudeness and the culture of rudeness, the history of rudeness, what impact it has on us neurologically, what impact it’s having on our whole society. And he wrote this before the shit show that was last year. So, it’s a fascinating read, especially in hindsight, of where we’ve gotten to–where rudeness is not only prevalent, it’s the norm online. But it’s now bled offline into our offline experiences. These videos–these viral videos–of the way that we talk to each other in supermarkets, and treat each other, and talk about masks and not wearing masks. It’s a phenomenon. And so, he’s so funny, he’s so smart, he’s so interesting, and his outlook on life is just hilarious and relatable. And he’s a dream. I’m such a big fan. You’re going to hear me pathetically just keep gushing at him during this interview–but I really think he’s just incredible, and I’m so lucky that he’s on my podcast. I’m thrilled to introduce you to–or to reintroduce you to–the excellent, my fave Danny Wallace. Bloody hell. I’ve got one of my absolute heroes of all time on my podcast. It is the excellent Danny Wallace. Welcome to I Weigh. How are you?
DANNY WALLACE [00:09:29] I’m all right. Thank you. That’s nice. I didn’t realize I was one of your heroes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:33] You are!
DANNY WALLACE [00:09:34] Well, you’re being very nice. But no–our paths have crossed so many times over the years, so it’s a pleasure to be here.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:41] Did I ever tell you any of those times, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?”
DANNY WALLACE [00:09:47] Could you do the full song?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:48] No, I can’t because I’d have to pay for it.
DANNY WALLACE [00:09:50] All right.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:52] You’re my hero, but I’m also cheap. You accidentally had a profound impact, you know, I’m sure not just on my life but many people’s lives with the book you wrote in 2005 called Yes Man. And I read that book–and I didn’t read many books because I have A.D.D., so I struggle. But I could not put your book down. And for anyone who’s never read this book, it is a tale of someone who is tired of saying “no,” who finally wants to see what life would look like, I suppose– I’m going to do a horrible job at paraphrasing it. But who decides to start saying “yes” to the things that they formerly would have maybe said “no” to in the name of adventure. And because of that book, when a producer randomly met me in a pub when I was 22–I was an English teacher, a cantankerous English teacher– He said, “You know, there’s this national audition for a job on T4,” which is a huge youth entertainment show in the United Kingdom, “and you should go up for it.” And I was like,” No, no, no. I would never. I think celebrities are vacuous and awful.” And I was kind of right, and now I’m one of them, and I’m terrible. But I said, “No” at first. And then not only did he say it’s £1,000 a day, which definitely swayed me more towards the audition, but also I had had it in my head at that point for about three years–“What would Danny Wallace do? What would he tell me to do? He’d say, ‘Go to the audition’ because something funny might happen. I probably won’t get the job, but something. I might even just get a great story for the pub.” And so, I went to that audition because of you and started my entire career. And I became a TV presenter, which then led to me being asked if I want to try radio. And I at first thought, “No,” because I didn’t know what I’m doing and I have terrible imposter syndrome. And then I thought, “Fuck, Danny Wallace would be so disappointed–I mean, this man who I’ve never met–if I don’t just go and try a job on Radio One,” and then ended up being able to get my own show over there.
DANNY WALLACE [00:11:49] Wow! No way.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:11:49] The same thing happened when I moved to America, even though I was told by everyone not to do it. They said that I was too old, too fat, and too ethnic at 28–I’m a size UK 12 and just Indian and Pakistani. They said, “Don’t do it.” And I did because of Yes Man. And I moved over, and then I was asked by my agents to try acting and go to this audition for The Good Place. And at first, I said, “No.” And once again, your fucking book from 2005 popped into my head and I just thought, “Do it for the lull. Do it for the adventure.”.
DANNY WALLACE [00:12:25] Yeah!
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:12:26] And so now I’m still here, pissing everyone off on Twitter, because of you. It’s your fault. It’s Danny Wallace’s fault! But thank you. Thank you for changing my life with your book.
DANNY WALLACE [00:12:38] Thank you for telling me. I had no idea that it went as far back as T4 and Radio One. I remember the night you, I think, got The Good Place, I happened to be in L.A., and I got a text from you just going, “I need to talk to you.” I was saying, “What’s happened?” And I was like, “Of course, of course.” And you rang up, and you told me, you know, about The Good Place. And it was just the most extraordinary– And I mean, the kind of the joy in your voice, and also the self-deprecation–.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:11] Terror.
DANNY WALLACE [00:13:17] It was such a vibrant, kind of delightful phone call. And I was just over the moon for you. And you know, you’ve not stopped, really, have you?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:27] I haven’t. I will not stop because of you. And I’ve said this before in interviews–I’m sure to your horror, if you’ve ever seen it–but really anal is the only thing I still haven’t said “yes” to. Everything other than that–I’ve taken all the other risks. I’m just still very protective over my asshole.
DANNY WALLACE [00:13:47] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:49] But other than that–that’s it. I have dedicated– It’s my fucking Bible. It’s so weird.
DANNY WALLACE [00:13:56] That’s extraordinary. And, you know, I’m pleased there are some things you say “no” to. It’s never gone that far for me either.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:05] Protected that little guy. Yeah.
DANNY WALLACE [00:14:09] But that’s exactly the point of the book that I found out is that it’s great to say “yes” more. And saying “yes” more is kind of the key to it. Saying “yes” to everything is, you know, probably quite extreme and not to be recommended.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:26] Don’t join ISIS.
DANNY WALLACE [00:14:28] Yeah. “No” is a wonderful word as well. It’s just that by saying “yes,” you open up a world of opportunity. And like you say, maybe it’ll be nothing. It could be slightly humiliating–something you said “yes” to. But it’s far better to do things and regret them, I think, than to never do anything and live with that regret, to never have stories, to never have gone somewhere you never ordinarily would have gone or met someone you ordinarily never would have met. And once you start saying “yes,” it’s almost like dominoes. They lead to more things. And I think you can track back all the best things that happened to you in your life to a “yes.” So, it’s such a small word, but it’s such a big attitude.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:16] “Yes” and “no” are the two biggest words, I think, maybe in the English language, truly.
DANNY WALLACE [00:15:20] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:23] Not literally, but yeah.
DANNY WALLACE [00:15:24] People sometimes ask me if I’d write a book called No Man. And while that would be fun and–certainly in lockdown–very easy, I think it’d be a very short book because it would just be a series of phone calls and me saying, “No,” and putting the phone down. Whereas if you can kick that door down and get out there–as you have done–then good things can happen.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:43] Okay. So anyway, I just want to thank you again. Thank you again for the ridiculous impact you’ve had on my life and for all the many books that you have written since, and Awkward Situation for Men, and Charlotte Street–like, so many things that I love so much, including your ShortList column, which was such a staple for me when I lived in London. But I also want to talk to you about a newer book. It came out two years ago, but I feel like it’s never been more relevant than it is now. It was almost a psychic act to put that out before the pandemic–but you wrote a book called Fuck You Very Much about rudeness, and I would love to talk to you about it. First of all, the genesis of this book–will you tell me what happened, how you decided to write a book about rudeness?
DANNY WALLACE [00:16:23] Of course. It really chimes into what we were talking about a minute ago with that kind of empathy divide. It just felt to me that the world was getting narrower and more divided, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. And I think that probably for years I’ve been weirdly writing about this sort of human behavior. But it all kind of came down to one moment that clarified it for me where I wanted a hot dog–and I quite like hot dogs, and hot dogs are easy to buy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:52] I won’t tell Greta Thunberg. That’s fine.
DANNY WALLACE [00:16:54] Don’t tell her, please. You walk into a place that sells them and you say, “I want one.” And they go, “Here you are.” And that’s it. That’s the whole thing. That’s what should happen. And it was a bank holiday, and we were near the seaside, and my son wanted a hot dog, and I wanted a hot dog. And something–just, like, a sort of a vision–there was a place, and it sold hot dogs. And I was like, “I’ve got this.” So, we go in, and the little tinkle of the bell as I walk in, and I look up and I see this lady. And I don’t know if you’ve ever walked into almost anywhere where just by walking in, you seem to have annoyed the person who you thought wanted you to be there. And I walked in, and I got this scowl–this glance–and it was almost like, “Oh, here’s another one. After a hot dog, is he?” And so, I walked up and, you know, I kind of went, “Hi, can I get a hot dog, please–and a hot dog for my son?” And she said, “You have to pay up front.” And that was a weird thing to say because, you know, I was going to pay for it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:17:55] It’s very mafioso.
DANNY WALLACE [00:17:57] Yeah. I don’t go around, like, just ordering hot dogs and running away. So, you know, I wasn’t a flight risk at this point. So, I was like, “Yeah, fine.” And these were quite expensive hot dogs; you know, these were sort of the gourmet side of hot dogs with all sorts of toppings and this and that. Anyway, we weren’t allowed to stand inside and wait. We had to go outside and wait. But that’s fine because, you know, hot dogs don’t take long. And, you know, maybe 10 minutes passed and there was no sign of them even starting the hot dog. And I was reassuring my son; I go, “Don’t worry. They seem to know what they’re doing.” But after a little while later, I sort of thought, “Well, I need to go in and see where this hot dog is.” So, like, I creep in, tinkle the bell again, the scowl again. And I do everything I can–I put my hands up, like, almost in, like, defeat, and, like, “I’m not a trouble here.” And I made my voice go higher the way I’m doing now, and I raised my eyebrows. The whole thing is like, “I know you’re under pressure and this is a hot dog place. I’m just wondering about the hot dog.” I even blame my son; I go, “You know, for my little boy.”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:18:59] Using him as a human shield. Yeah, yeah. That’s great.
DANNY WALLACE [00:19:02] And she’s infuriated, and she goes, “There’s two tables ahead of you, and we cook to order.” And again, I thought it was a weird thing to say because I’ve been to restaurants, and you order something, and they cook it, and I know how that works. So, I just go, “Okay, fine.” To cut a long story very short, it was an hour and one minute.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:19:21] What did they do–kill the pig in that time? Like what’s happening?
DANNY WALLACE [00:19:25] I know. And I’ve been in, you know, once or twice, very politely again. All I did was incur her wrath. And at that point, I thought, “This is too much.” And so, I went in, and I went, “I’d like to cancel the order, please.” And she went, “You can’t!” which sounded, you know, dodgy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:19:39] Yeah, that’s what I thought.
DANNY WALLACE [00:19:39] But she said a very weird thing. She went, “You’re probably the sort of people who’d queue for 40 minutes for fish and chips.” And I don’t know what that means.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:19:49] What does that mean?
DANNY WALLACE [00:19:49] I know. I took it as an insult. I think it was given to me as an insult, but it didn’t make sense. So, I was like, “Look, just give me the money back.” And then she basically took some coins and threw them down. And now I’m totally emasculated, scrabbling around on the floor, picking up coins. And then I leave the restaurant. And I turn around, I look at my son, and I can tell that he’s thinking, “What happened there? Why couldn’t two grownups a) buy a hot dog and b) sell a hot dog?” Bear in mind, as I pointed out, this woman–the only reason she got up that morning was to sell hot dogs. And then I walk in and go, “I’d like a hot dog,” and that should be as far as it goes. And I look at it through his eyes, and I go, “What did go wrong there between us? Did I do something wrong? Was I rude somehow? Did I interrupt her in some way? Am I not thinking about something? Was she going through something? Or is she just like that? Is she just a bit of a dick, or is there a bigger story there?” And it did some weird things to me. The first was that a couple of months later, I was driving past that same hot dog place. And it was dark, and it was, you know, nighttime, and the streets were empty, and there was no one in the hot dog place, and the lights were out. And I found myself driving by and flipping off–you know, using my middle finger–at an empty building.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:09] That is so English.
DANNY WALLACE [00:21:10] It’s just not a normal thing to do. And I was probably like, “Fuck you, building.” And the poor building is probably just like, “I’ve been standing here for generations. What’s this guy’s problem?” And I also found that it wouldn’t go away. It wouldn’t go away. And I had to exorcize these feelings because when someone is rude to you out of the blue–maybe over a sustained period–it messes with your brain. And, you know, I’ve since found out it messes with the frontal lobes because your brain is trying to make sense of this information. And the information is just wrong because we’ve all signed, like, you know, a made-up societal contract not to do that to each other. And when someone does it, you’re confused, you’re trying to make sense of it, and it’s a puzzle you can’t solve. So, I thought the only way to do this–and I’d never done this before in my life, and I don’t think I’ve done it since–I decided to write an online review. And I joined TripAdvisor.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:03] Oh, my God. You became a Karen.
DANNY WALLACE [00:22:06] Yeah. And I was using pompous language, you know, using words I would never normally use–like “vociferous” or “invidious”–to sound posh. And this sort of 200-word review spiraled out of control and became an 85,000-word book all about rudeness and what happened that day between me and this woman. And it’s almost like JFK–you know, the film JFK–where they look at the magic bullet from like 50 different angles. I talked to psychologists, psychiatrists–I talked to NASA engineers, politicians, personalities–anyone I could A) about rudeness, but I would always drop in afterwards, “So what do you make of the hot dog situation?” I realized I was trying to get people on my side because when someone’s rude to you and you share that story with someone else, you want them to be on your side. And it got to the point where I even started my own–and it cost several thousand pounds, it was very silly of me– national survey, which started off being about rudeness but ended up with four or five questions about, you know, the British public’s attitude to how long you’d wait for a hot dog. So, all these people doing the survey–thousands of them–must have been like, “I sort of get where this is going, but why does it end on hot dogs the whole way?? But anyway, I won’t spoil the book for you, but I will say that more than 98% of the British public think I was right that day. And that is the furthest I’ve ever gone to win an argument, let’s put it that way.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:36] Oh, my goodness. Oh God, I so understand that instinct. And yet I find myself jaded. I find myself weirdly accustomed to rudeness now. And I think maybe partially because I’ve been on Twitter since 2009.
DANNY WALLACE [00:23:54] Yeah, that’ll do it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:57] It just is water off a dog’s back. People are so rude to and about me all day, every day, that it just kind of feels like it– I’m actually stunned by a compliment or a kind comment now. That’s the kind of thing that will jar my frontal lobe. I think that we as a society, especially after the last year, are so vitriolic, and scary, and understandable as well. And so many people stuck in these insane situations, where they were just under so much pressure and being so failed by politicians, and we’re being so manipulated to be divided against each other, and social media algorithms are fucking with our take on how the, quote unquote, “opposition” feel–even though we’re all just human beings suffering at the same time in similar ways, I think that rudeness has become a way of life. And, you know, you even spoke in the book about how rudeness travels farther. Outrage travels further and faster in our current day society. I’d love to know more about what you learned in the book about, like, the science of rudeness.
DANNY WALLACE [00:25:01] Well, like you say, with social media, we’ve sort of been taught– I think it goes back to TV, obviously. And I think that it might even go back to Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link. Do you remember?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:25:15] Happy to blame her for literally anything. Go on.
DANNY WALLACE [00:25:18] And it wasn’t her fault because it was just, like, a new take. But she was so rude to people. It was like, “Oh my God. Have you seen this thing?” Someone’s being rude to someone else on TV and then broadcasting it.” And it was so alien, that idea. And then she sort of monetized it because then she went off to America, and she was on billboards, and it was like, “Look at this rude woman. She’s going to be rude to people on TV.”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:25:40] I will say that I feel like Bernard Manning and people like that–I think it was the first time we’ve seen a woman be really rude, and unlikable, and un-placating. But yes, totally. That was definitely when we realized that that was a huge thing.
DANNY WALLACE [00:25:52] Well, she was being rude to ordinary members of the public, who just turned up to do a nice quiz show. Bernard Manning and people like that–absolutely. But when it came to dealing with the public at sort of 5:30 in the evening on BBC One–or whenever it was–it was ridiculous. And it was sort of refreshing. And that’s why people talk about “refreshing honesty” or “refreshingly rude.” I think that “refreshing” is the wrong word to use for that–particularly now because it’s become such a trope. I mean, we were exporting rudeness. We sent Anne Robinson, and we sent Nasty Nigel on some dancing show.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:29] We sent Piers Morgan.
DANNY WALLACE [00:26:30] We sent Piers Morgan and–.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:31] He got sent back.
DANNY WALLACE [00:26:33] Yeah. And Simon Cowell, of course. Any of these people who–without that kind of grounding–had they been that rude to people out of the blue, they never would have worked again. It’s just that we sort of started to kind of enjoy it. And then that led to–in reality TV shows–you know, a lot of people on the first series of Big Brother were quite nice to each other, but it was the people who were horrible who got more airtime, and then got the magazine deals afterwards, and then got more attention. And even though it was kind of people going, “They’re not very nice,” it was attention, and it was money. And so, people start to realize, “If I say things like, ‘I’m not being funny, but it means I can then be incredibly rude.’” And there was nothing funny about what they were saying at all. They were correct in sort of that statement, but they used it as an excuse to be able to then be rude to other people.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:27:22] Oh, I’m just being honest. So therefore, I must be right.
DANNY WALLACE [00:27:25] That’s the worst one. Somehow putting yourself up is being brave or uncompromising, when actually what you’re doing is being a dick. And we’re not allowed to question you because we have to go, “Well, you were being so honest there.” And you weren’t being honest. You don’t really feel that way. You’re saying that for attention and to put yourself above others. The same is true of social media–the things that cut through, the things that will upset you or upset me, the things that will travel, the things that will get retweeted tend to be more cutting and horrible than the probably 95% of nice things that you see but immediately forget because then you scroll down, and you see that one idiot. And so, in a sense, it’s a power that people have. It’s like a little superpower, where they can be important in the moment by putting someone else down. And they don’t realize that really, they’re dragging themselves down as well. And it has a huge impact on the world. Some studies show that rudeness travels almost the way a cold travels. So, if you witness someone in an office being rude to someone else, you are far more likely to then be ruder yourself later on or to see rudeness when no rudeness was intended. So, you’ll see someone being horrible to someone else. Then maybe you’ll get an email from someone, and it’s completely neutral–completely passive–but maybe, I don’t know, they’ve put a little kiss on the end. And you’re like, “What the hell does that mean? Is that sarcastic? What are they doing?” And it upsets you because you start doubting people or wondering what they really think.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:02] And then maybe you’re snipey at that person, and then that person maybe misinterprets something else, and then it’s a domino effect of rudeness.
DANNY WALLACE [00:29:09] Yeah. And you take it home with you. And people who have suffered a lot of incivility at work–they need to knock off, right? Because of course you do because it’s running around in your head.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:18] You mean wank? What do you mean?
DANNY WALLACE [00:29:19] Well, they might have a gin and tonic. They might do something a little more polite. But they might be snappier at their partner. Or they might not sleep as well, then they’ll be snappy the next day, then their partner is going to be snappier to people. And it just rolls on, and it’s like a wildfire. And this is what these studies have kind of shown. And it can seem like that’s a little thing to talk about. “Well, it’s a few grouchy people.” But through my research, I found these incredible stories. I mean, it could have been a silly book, but it actually turned into something a bit dark at some points because I found out all this stuff about–I mentioned earlier–the frontal lobes and how that’s what we use to make sense of the world and problem solve. And that’s fine if, you know, you have jobs like us. But if you have a job where you’re kind of in charge of other people’s safety… You’re the guy who’s about to weigh someone before you kick them off a bridge for their bungee jump. Or you’re the woman who has to talk to all the dispatchers, you know, all the kind of the lorries and trucks going around the–
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:30:23] Or a fucking incident traffic controller.
DANNY WALLACE [00:30:25] Or a pilot. Or a surgeon. In these studies in Tel Aviv where they had all these teams that were simulating an operation on a fake baby, a bunch of them were left to it, and a bunch of them were interrupted halfway through by a very rude American surgeon who said, “I’m observing you, and none of you would last five minutes in my hospital.” And the ones who were left alone did perfectly well. And the ones who just had a moment of rudeness–they fell to pieces. They were miscommunicating, they were picking up the wrong instruments, they were administering the wrong doses, and a lot of them lost the fake baby in this situation. And it was shown that surgeons are approximately 50% less effective if they have suffered incivility beforehand. I had a message from a hospital just the other day who’d read the book. I was very pleased–they’ve realigned or redesigned a lot of their practices based on this because it’s such a problem. People talk about leading causes of death in America and Britain, and they talk about heart disease, and they talk about cancer, and they don’t tend to talk about medical error as much because you just kind of go, “Oh, well, they happened.” And, you know, how did they happen? “It was just an error.” But it seems like things like this–the way we treat each other, the way we disrespect each other sometimes–can have such an effect on people doing really important things that they can no longer do those important things in the way that we would want them to. So, you know, if anyone’s listening to this and you’re about to go under the knife, I’m sure everyone’s been perfectly polite to your surgeon. Please don’t worry. But it does mean that we really need to kind of look at how we treat each other because it can have a huge impact–and in fact, maybe even a life threatening one.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:19] I’m having a big medical thing in, like, a couple of weeks. I’m going to bring fucking flowers, champagne, vibrator–whatever I have to. Maybe not vibrator.
DANNY WALLACE [00:32:27] Just make sure that the surgeon is self-isolated and you’re the only person that they talk to.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:32] Yeah, that’s it. Oh, my God. I might bring, like, a singing quartet. Whatever I can do to cheer them the fuck up. That is so interesting and also a terrifying statistic.
DANNY WALLACE [00:32:46] It’s terrifying, but also, you know, they’re working on it. There’s a guy called Amir Erez, and he is an Israeli academic. He’s my favorite Israeli academic. He’s the only one I know.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:56] Well, I guess now he’s mine. Yeah, go on.
DANNY WALLACE [00:32:58] Yeah, but he’s working on certain things, and they’re finding–it’s almost like an inoculation–a rudeness inoculation or a vaccination.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:06] Wow.
DANNY WALLACE [00:33:07] They’re working on ways of tricking doctors’ minds to kind of become used to the rudeness that they’re about to face in the emergency room, or from desperate family members, or from people who don’t think they’re doing enough. And you can imagine right now the pressures and strains–
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:24] I was just thinking about NHS in particular–how underpaid they are, how understaffed they are. That’s the National Health Service in the United Kingdom because we have free health care service. I can’t imagine the circumstances under which they are working and what they are facing–from the top down–you know, from even the people who are supposed to be organizing their funding, or how much equipment they have, or how much PPE they have. And the offense of that down to the desperation of the people that they are trying so hard to help.
DANNY WALLACE [00:33:56] And they walk out of some hospitals in London at the moment, and there are people shouting, “This is all made up and you’re a liar.” This will have a huge impact on their mental health and their ability to do what, you know, they’re trying to do. But Amir Erez developed almost, like, a little video game that they can play for 20 minutes before they go out there.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:34:14] Was it people just abusing you nonstop?
DANNY WALLACE [00:34:17] I think sort of because I was asking him what kind of words count as rude that would have an effect on a doctor. And I thought it would be, like, big old swear words–but it can be gentle words as well. It can just be little words. It can be as soft as the word “bother.” It’s like we have such thin skin that the minute we kind of scratch at it, we allow things in. And they just all have connotations that link to each other and make us think of rudeness the whole time.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:34:48] Bloody hell. But again, then that kind of goes back to what I was saying at the top of this sort of portion of this podcast–that I feel as though my being on Twitter and being a very outspoken woman and, you know, controversial sometimes has kind of been my version of this Israeli academic’s game, which is that I’m now so hyper normalized to it that it just honestly doesn’t bother me anymore. Now, I kind of have aversion therapy on steroids basically. You know, I faced the rudest, the worst, the most gaslighting. People have accused me of having Munchausen. Or, like, Piers Morgan’s made fun of my mental health. I’ve had so much, like, relentless smear campaigning and attacks that I’ve kind of become hardened. And I don’t look to that as a positive thing. It’s great for me because, as an activist, that’s just how it is. Especially if you’re a woman–especially if you’re a woman of color–you are just more likely to antagonize people, and people are more likely to shut you down. But I do often look at my hardened self as something that I find a bit sad. It’s a shame that we have to do that, but it’s also realistic.
DANNY WALLACE [00:36:09] It is. And from my point of view–having watched you and seen you, you know, have a bigger and bigger audience, and become what you’ve become, and becoming, and will become–it’s been great because it’s almost like a superpower that you’ve just gone, “No.” You’ve just gone, “Nah, I’m not losing control of this.” So, with the social media people–because they’re hidden–it’s often very, very difficult. We always assume that rudeness and this kind of antagonism arises because of the anonymity of the internet. Actually, it’s a lot to do with a lack of eye contact. And there’s been various studies that show that–that you are far more likely to be aggressive to someone if you can’t see them. And this even goes for people sending IMs in an office. You’re much more likely to be rude to someone in your own office if it’s just over a screen. And so, you times that by a thousand–where these people don’t even know you and they’re saying this stuff to you. And you’re fast, and you’re funny, so you can come back and it’s a full-stopped period on the conversation. You’ve won. When it’s these people who are, you know, in inverted commas, “in power”–your kind of Morgans or whoever that do it–you’re still faster and funnier than them. And they’re still attacking you, but you’re standing up to them. I think, always fight fire with fire. And if they do it to you, you can do it to them. The trick is to not go further because that gives them so much power. So, you just block it–you use it as a shield, and you beat them. And if they do anything else–if they say anything else–that’s on them, and it makes them look a dick. But you also suffer a different type of rudeness as well, which is dressed up as observation. It’s sort of dressed up as complimentary. But it’ll be if I’m flicking through the Internet and I suddenly see, “Oh, Jameela’s put on another leggy display” or “another busty display.”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:18] Flaunting my curves. Darling, I hope you know, I’m always trying to flaunt my curves.
DANNY WALLACE [00:38:23] Always flaunting them. I mean, I was wearing shorts most of the summer–not one person said I was putting on a leggy display.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:38] So what the fuck do we do then? What do we do with this? Like, anyone who’s listening to this. I’m listening to this, thinking, “I could be more polite. I could work on making sure that I a) bow out of combat a little bit sooner maybe.” And I think I’m generally a very polite person, especially in person. I think sometimes online I can be a bit of a sassy bitch because again, I’m not looking someone in the eye. And I won’t normally lay the first blow. But I’m definitely thinking about how I can make sure that I’m much more conscious going forward of my interactions with everyone online, or over email, or over text–and making sure that I don’t contribute to someone else’s bad day. And I’m now thinking about the chain of rudeness, which I’ve never contemplated before. That’s really going to stay with me. So, for anyone else who’s listening to this, what has been your kind of conclusion? What do you think we take forward? How do you think we take this forward?
DANNY WALLACE [00:39:36] Well, I think it’s fairly obvious stuff. There’s a reason that most religions–no matter what they believe in–they can agree on one thing, which is, you know, do unto others as you have done unto you. But that doesn’t stop others doing unto you what you would rather not do to them. I always think of social media as… And, you know, I’m never sort of outright rude to people, I hope. But again, it’s that thing of, you know, I’ll match them. But I will be happy to leave them to it. You have to think of social media, I think, as a party. You have to think of it as you’re walking into a place–and if someone’s come up and been rude to you, you’re allowed to defend yourself. But you’ve got to remember, there are other people at the party, and they can all see and hear everything that’s happening. So, you have to sort of see it through their eyes as well. And that can help temper your own behavior that will hopefully then teach the other person what not to do. Sometimes, if someone’s really rude to me on Twitter, I like to distract them. It’s almost like a Derren Brown technique.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:42] I love watching this happen. Yes. Please continue.
DANNY WALLACE [00:40:45] Well, I also remember Derren Brown–he’s a hypnotist and kind of a psychologist–saying that if you were getting mugged and someone said, “Give me a wallet,” you should say something like, “But I haven’t got any tables.” And it’s confusing because, again, they’re like, “Sorry, what? You haven’t got any tables? No, I didn’t say tables. I said, ‘I want to mug you.’” You break down that moment, and it’s the same thing I apply to Twitter sometimes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:13] By the way, I did that once.
DANNY WALLACE [00:41:14] Did you?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:14] I got mugged, and I broke into song. I sang I Feel Pretty in a very high-pitched voice and made myself look possessed. And they walked away from me. It was insane. It was outside a cashpoint, and I was like, “I feel pretty.” And they just thought I was, like, deranged. They didn’t know what I was going to do. And they started, like, slowly backing away from me. So that does sometimes work. It’s not always going to work, and I need everyone to sometimes just hand over the fucking phone.
DANNY WALLACE [00:41:43] Yeah. Probably that’s the best advice.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:45] And also, I find that that was one of the creepiest songs I could have chosen.
DANNY WALLACE [00:41:49] Well, it was the way you sort of cocked your head forward and your hair came down. You look like one of those–
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:56] The grudge.
DANNY WALLACE [00:41:56] Yeah, the grudge. I mean, you were channeling that. I’m so pleased you’re thousands of miles away. But if we then hang this up and you crawl through my monitor…
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:10] Yeah. Which I will.
DANNY WALLACE [00:42:12] Okay. But distracting is something I’ll do. It’s humanizing, you know? So, he’ll say something horrible to me, and I’ll just go, “Oh, man. Oh well.” And I’ll go, “What are you having for dinner tonight?” And sometimes they’ll tell me, and they’ll just say, “Sausages.” And I’ll just go, “Oh, lovely. Oh, lovely. I love sausages. Are you making mash with it?” And they’ll be like, “Well, yeah.” And they’ll still try and sort of find some anger from somewhere, but now we’re talking about sausage and mash. So, I think that sometimes giving people the opportunity to look at their own behavior–by normalizing yourself and them–and the fact that you’re reminding them that you’re both human can be very powerful. And it can be something really silly, just like saying, “You watching anything on telly?” And they’re just like, “What the hell?” But they want to answer you because it’s sort of polite. So, either they’ll go away, but very rarely have I found that they are able to sustain any level of anger towards me.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:43:18] So the brain is sort of short-circuiting because their brain is prepared for combat and then you’ve just pushed them into the logical load.
DANNY WALLACE [00:43:28] Yeah. You’re hopefully showing them they have a better side and tapping into the better part of their brain, where they think about nice things. So, I don’t know. It has sort of worked for me, but I think that feeling like it can be witnessed is one thing–you’re showing that there’s a wider world there. Breaking the cycle of the rudeness is quite a powerful thing. You can kill with kindness–you can be extremely polite–but that actually, I find, can just infuriate them more.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:43:59] Yeah, I tried that before. And then I’ve tried one that went so fucking wrong–oh my God–it went so bad. I was like, “I think you should try therapy. I used to be like you. It went so fucking wrong, and it turned out to be a teenager. And I was like, “Oh my God, now I look like a fucking even bigger asshole.” But I definitely meant it from my heart, where I was like, “I used to be just like you. I used to say shit like this to celebrities. I was a troll. I just needed therapy. Maybe you should get therapy.” And now what that’s transmuted to online is I told a teenager to get therapy ’cause they didn’t like me. And I was like, “No, that definitely wasn’t what I was trying to do. I was just trying to say, ‘I understand the rage you have and why you feel like it’s okay to talk to me–a stranger–or about me like this. There might be some pain there for you to investigate.’” Never doing that again. That went so fucking– Oh my God.
DANNY WALLACE [00:44:51] Just ask them if they’ve seen the new Batman.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:53] I will. I’ll just be like, “Hello! How are you?” I’m definitely going to start doing this. I’m going to become so annoyingly inquisitive about people’s private lives now as soon as I’m trolled. I’m so excited to do this. I feel like Sarah Silverman.
DANNY WALLACE [00:45:07] “Oh, I see your name is Margaret. My auntie is called Margaret.”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:09] Yeah.
DANNY WALLACE [00:45:09] It’s like, “What?”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:12] Or just singing I Feel Pretty again.
DANNY WALLACE [00:45:15] Yeah. Take the keys out the car. That’s kind of what it’s doing–it’s just taking the keys out the car.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:18] Yeah, I think that’s fucking brilliant. So just all of us maintaining a little bit of sense–kindness–and knowing that your rudeness doesn’t always go exactly where you direct. Sometimes the debris of that rudeness can fly elsewhere where you wouldn’t have wanted it to go. But there is a knock-on effect. Fascinating. Oh, I love this. This is so interesting. I find this so interesting. Okay, another thing I want to talk to you about–you are famously a dad. Famously a father.
DANNY WALLACE [00:45:47] Well, yeah. In my house I am.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:48] Yeah, exactly. How many children do you have?
DANNY WALLACE [00:45:53] At the last count, it was three, but they move very fast. And they’re very noisy, so it can sound like more. But I’ve counted them, and it’s three. It’s great. I’m an only child. And so, I grew up in a very quiet house, where people just sat down and read books.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:14] Right. That’s very Jane Eyre of you. I can imagine you in your little corset and your bonnet, just reading.
DANNY WALLACE [00:46:23] Yeah. And so, I basically just heard grownups talking the whole time. And if we went on holiday, it would be, you know, to some hotel somewhere–and then it would be punctuated by day trips to monasteries on coaches that take four hours to get there.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:38] Fun.
DANNY WALLACE [00:46:40] So I’m trying to embrace another way of doing as much fun stuff as I can with them. And I guess we’ve managed alright in sort of lockdown, but my eldest has just turned 11. So, I’ve had, you know, more than a decade of noise and lack of sleep. And my youngest is only three, and so it’s been this sustained period of sort of broken sleep and all that kind of stuff. But it’s obviously a joy. Let’s all just accept it’s a joy. We don’t have to talk about that. But it can also be, you know… I like stories. Whenever anything goes wrong in my life, the way I treat it is, “Well, you know what? It’s a story.” And it’s just what you were saying right at the start. I go, “It doesn’t matter. It’s a story.”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:27] “It’s a funny story for the pub.” That’s how I look at truly everything.
DANNY WALLACE [00:47:31] exactly. And with my kids, I try and teach them that if they’ve made a mistake and they feel really bad about it, I go, “That’s fine. You know, it’s actually a great thing that you made that mistake because now you don’t ever have to make it again because you’ve done it. So, it’s an achievement in a sense. You’ve unlocked an achievement. And you’ve done that, and you know how you feel. Now you can go to bed happy because you know that you never have to do that again.”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:56] But also, you know, I had Dr. Deepika Chopra on this podcast, and she told me that the most effective way the brain ever hangs on to new information is via a mistake–that that is the number one most effective way for us neurologically to maintain and remember new information.
DANNY WALLACE [00:48:15] That’s an imprint, isn’t it?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:16] Yeah, it’s a corrective imprint.
DANNY WALLACE [00:48:18] It’s the most powerful imprint.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:18] Yeah. Sorry. As you were saying…
DANNY WALLACE [00:48:20] No, no, no. But it’s sort of stuff like that, really–trying to err on the positive. And, you know, when my son gets back from school, I don’t say, “What did you learn?” I always say, “What made you laugh today?” And it’s a little insight into him and his friends–stories that he wouldn’t tell me because it would just be gone. But then we can remember it and enjoy it together. And it tells me so much about him, and his social group, and the things that they find funny, and the things they’re talking about, and what’s important to him. And I want him to feel that laughing is important and just as valid as fractions, or trigonometry, or anything like that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:05] Oh, I don’t know about that. Trigonometry really carried me through.
DANNY WALLACE [00:49:10] But they give me stories, you know. I was thinking about this yesterday, and it’s a story I can’t really– I don’t know if I can tell my son, but I’m sure he’d be fine with it. He can laugh at himself, and it’s all good. But when he was really little, there was a proper little bonding moment between me and him. I popped him on the toilet, right? And he was going to have a little wee. And then I left the room for a second, and I just heard this scream–this proper primal scream–a scream that you identify immediately as pain. And you’re like, “Oh my–” So, I ran back in. And he tried to get himself off the toilet, but in doing so, he had caught or scraped certain elements of himself–not the main element–just the supporting elements, if you know what I mean, of his gentlemen’s agreements. And there was pain there. There was a lot of pain. And I was standing there, and I was like, “Oh, my God, I know. I know. It’s going to be alright.” And he’s looking up at me with, like, tears in his eyes. And I’m going, “Just walk it off. Walk it off.” And he knows that I can solve this because I’ve solved every other thing. And he looks up at me, and he says, “Kiss it better.”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:26] Oh, my God!
DANNY WALLACE [00:50:28] And I’m like, “I can’t.” And he’s looking up at me–tears now streaming–because I’ve always been able to kiss things better. But I’m going, “I can’t do that.” And he’s like, I “Why?” And I’m like, “I just can’t.” And he’s like, “Kiss it better!” And I’m like, “Walk it off. Walk it off.” And, you know, obviously, these are issues that you have to deal with as a father. And I couldn’t really go into why I was unable to do that. But things like that–I’m just like, “Oh, you know, I can’t wait to tell someone about that.” But I’ve had to wait for a while.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:11] Oh, my god. I love that.
DANNY WALLACE [00:51:14] I don’t want him retelling the story, you know, and getting it wrong at school. And then suddenly I’m in handcuffs.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:19] Yeah. Exactly. “And he kissed it better. And we’ve been so close ever since.”
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:32] You and I were discussing yesterday–when I did the kind of little pre-chat with you–about what kind of revelation it is to you to see competition or to see all these traits that you couldn’t really have identified with yourself as an only child. I don’t think people talk enough about being an only child, and I feel like only-children get a bit of a bad rap for only the kind of bad things about being an only child–like the sort of selfishness, or inability maybe to always think of someone else first, or to empathize first. You know what I mean? Like being an only child is something that definitely is slightly, slightly stigmatized.
DANNY WALLACE [00:52:07] I was so surprised as an only child when I… I think it was when I went to university, and people then ask you all the normal stuff, you know, “Where did you grow up? Blah, blah. You got brothers and sisters?” And I never realized that being an only child meant that people thought you were probably selfish in that way. For me and for the only-children who are friends of mine, what bonded us was kind of the opposite in a lot of ways because we didn’t feel that we were the center of the world and we didn’t act in a particularly selfish way, I think, because we had to make friends. And the way you make friends is to think of others. You get empathy that way. And you have to develop a strange sort of confidence to be able to go on holiday–as I said before–with your parents and you know you’re going to go to a monastery, but you can’t wait to get back to the hotel because there’s a games room. But when you go into the games room, there’s going to be all these kids who know each other or who are brother and sister, and you’ve got to make a friend. And I used to just say to my parents, “I’m off to make a friend.” And then I would go and make a friend. And you can’t make a friend if you’re selfish because you’ll lose them immediately.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:27] That doesn’t sound terribly traditional. I think that people go one way or the other. Some people really just don’t know how to make friends because they end up getting, like, a games console or something and they don’t learn how to make friends. That’s really interesting. I wonder if there’s something about the way that you and your friends maybe were raised that made you more kind of confident to go out there.
DANNY WALLACE [00:53:46] Well, I was given lots of confidence by my mom, and certainly I never wanted for attention, and that all helps. But equally, I moved around a lot as a kid. And so, we moved every, you know, how many years–and up and down the country, then to Berlin for a bit, and back. And so, I was constantly meeting new people and having to fit in. And when I grew up–until I was about eight–I had a very, very strong Scottish accent.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:13] Had you actually been to Scotland or was that just a weird thing?
DANNY WALLACE [00:54:16] I had a bump on my head. I woke up as Gerard Butler. No, I was from Dundee, and that’s quite a strong accent as well–impenetrable to a lot of people. And there are certain words I say that are still Dundonian. But for the most part I sound like this. But when I got to Loughborough–I went to Loughborough–and I don’t think anyone had ever moved to Loughborough before because they were all just staring at me. They thought there was something wrong with me. And I had a part in the school play, and the rehearsal went very well. And I was the weatherman–there was a very famous Scottish weatherman at the time–so I was made the Scottish weatherman. And I remember the rehearsal went great, but I then lost the role because it was decided that no one could understand me. And so about six months later, I was speaking like this, except much higher. So, I suppose that’s always been in me–having to fit in and sort of change slightly around other people. And for my friends that are only-kids who aren’t so selfish, I think that they are the kind of people–two in particular–who I know I could take them to anything–anything at all–and they would fit in, and they would be a sort of wingman, and they would talk to anyone. I could take them to some weird wedding of someone I hardly know, and they would be great–they’d be a hit. I could take them to some fancy awards do, and surround them with celebrities, and they would be the hit–because they ask questions, they listen, they’ve got stories.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:50] Sink or swim. Yeah.
DANNY WALLACE [00:55:52] Yeah! And they think about the other people. It’s like a dance, sometimes–meeting a new person. You have to listen to them, and not just listen to them as in wait for them to stop speaking. You have to process the words and find something to say about it that isn’t about you–that is about them–because as much as anything, it’s about putting the other person at ease. And I think that, you know, if we all did that a bit more, it could be the only child method.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:19] Fuck. I mean, what are any of us going to socialize like when this is over? Do you know what I mean? We’re all only children now. That’s it. Truly. Like, people in isolation, people who have had to–God forbid–isolate entirely alone. It’s going to be weird. So how are you going to raise these small people in your house in this moment where you feel like this country–this world- is still in need of more kindness, more empathy, more listening, more understanding? For parents out there who are listening to this–or for young people out there–for whoever who’s thinking, “How do I make sure that I don’t get dragged into the gutter–this kind of swirling pool gutter–that can, like, pull us all in very easily if we allow it to?” What’s your plan to keep the people you love away from the swirling?
DANNY WALLACE [00:57:16] You know, I’m no expert. I’m a dad, and I’ve got three kids. And there’s loads of parents out there with loads more kids than me and have been doing it longer. But what I do is I just try and highlight decency and show it as the virtue that it is. And that doesn’t mean slating people when they sort of get it wrong–but it does mean being honest about those things when they are wrong. And when, you know, a politician does lie, there’s a lesson there. At a point where trust is so important, we shouldn’t be teaching them to trust everything they see and hear. We should be teaching them to think about it or question it. But the most important thing is to highlight the decency and to always praise the decent for doing the decent thing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:58:09] And not to look at it as a weakness.
DANNY WALLACE [00:58:11] Never to look at it as a weakness.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:58:13] It’s so much easier to be a dick.
DANNY WALLACE [00:58:14] Always look at it as a strength.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:58:15] It’s always a strength. Yeah.
DANNY WALLACE [00:58:17] Always. And I think it’s working. They are the most delightful people in the world for me. And they are super friendly and super welcoming, and they always think the best of people. But they always really appreciate the decent as well. And I think that to have that appreciation of the decent, which we’ve taken for granted for so many years, but which in the past several has come into question– We talked about rudeness earlier. We talked about reality TV. We talked about finding that attitude refreshing somehow. And that then seeped into our politics, and it was better for people to have a rude thing to say than nothing to say, and it was better for them to be undiplomatic than diplomatic. And those are all things we have to turn our back on. And we just have to highlight and celebrate the decent.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:10] Yeah. And I just want to be clear–and you can correct me if I’m wrong here–but Danny and myself are not encouraging you to have to necessarily always turn the other cheek or have to rise above and swallow shit. I mean, neither of us do that if you’ve ever seen either of us online. But I think it’s just knowing where the line is, and maintaining your humanity, and knowing that you’re not going to look back on that as something that you were ashamed of. You’re allowed to stand up for yourself or stand up for what’s right.
DANNY WALLACE [00:59:34] But just give as good as you get.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:35] Yeah. And don’t tell teenagers to go to therapy in a short tweet that doesn’t have nuance or context around it because you sound like a fucking prick. So, we both want you to say “yes” more–not always. But “yes” more? That’s a thing that we want everyone to do.
DANNY WALLACE [00:59:54] Yeah, yeah. Grab opportunity. And if you regret it, that’s okay.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:57] Because it’s a great story. And to look at failure as an opportunity for a lull. That’s what I do anyway. Danny, before you go, will you please tell me, what do you weigh?
DANNY WALLACE [01:00:10] I weigh two leggy displays and one– No. I weigh a clear conscience. I weigh three kids that make me laugh every day. And I weigh it all in chips.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:00:35] And he means the thick cut chips.
DANNY WALLACE [01:00:38] Yeah, proper chips.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:00:39] Not crisps. Danny, thanks for my life. My adulthood has been significantly more fun because you were born and you wrote a book. I’m not overstating that. I cannot explain to you how glad I am that you’ve never asked for a percentage of my earnings, even though you totally could. And even this fucking podcast I have because I went on your podcast years ago, and your producer Colin is now sitting on the other side of this glass, and he’s now my producer because he sort of discovered me in my voice because I was on your podcast. So, you just keep giving. And so, if there’s anything you need, mate. If there’s anything you ever need, I’m so fucking in debt to you.
DANNY WALLACE [01:01:29] All I ask is that you remember me in your will.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:01:33] A hundred percent! If I haven’t been sued to death by then–yeah–it’s all yours. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. It is edited by Andrew Carson. And the beautiful music that you’re hearing now is made by I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan, and Kimmie Gregory. my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. I really appreciate it, and it amps me up to bring on better, better guests. Lastly, at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543 or email us what you weigh at email@example.com. It’s not in pounds and kilos, so please don’t send that; it’s all about your– Just– You know. You’ve been on the Instagram. Anyway. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our listeners.
I WEIGH COMMUNITY MEMBER [01:02:33] I weigh my resilience and resourcefulness. I weigh the ability to get through whatever shit life gives me. I weigh the power to keep going. I weigh being myself.
January 12, 2023
Author and podcaster Amanda Montell joins Jameela this week discuss all things cults. They cover what makes a cult vs. what makes something cult-ish, what to be on the look out for when assessing if something is a cult (or cult-ish), the dangers of large cults or the cult of one, the cultish qualities of the diet and wellness industries, and more.