Bill Bailey: 'I went into comedy to avoid working in an office'

Despite being in the comedy business for over 30 years, funny man Bill Bailey says he hasn't lost any of his passion for the genre.

The 51-year-old comedian – who started off in stand-up in the 1980s – says he still finds joy in writing jokes and funny lines.

Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey (Ian West/PA)

“Writing comedy’s just as much a passion as it was all those years ago. It’s what gets me up in the morning," says Bill, best known for his role in comedy Black Books and appearances on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You, and QI.  

“I still regard myself as learning this craft and love using humour to explore the big questions like ageing, attitudes to religion, the political process, the way social media changes people’s behaviour, and all the myriad events in the news.”

He also enjoys learning new things.

“I also like talking about all sorts of obscure or random things, like learning mandarin, the history of language, or musical influences,” he says.

“The point is to draw in as many subjects as possible and make them accessible and funny, although I do sometimes have to check myself for the humour otherwise people will go: ‘Yeah, OK beardy, very interesting but where’s the laughs?’.”

Bill – who is supporting the Be Lungworm Aware campaign, to help protect the nation’s pet dogs from the parasite – says he never thought he could make a career out of comedy.

“I thought I’d only be able to do comedy while I was young and daft and saw it as a way to avoid a boring office job," he says. "I fully expected eventually to have to do something sensible, and never imagined sustaining it for this amount of years."

Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But after having more than 30 years of comedy success, he still has moments of disbelief.

“Actually I had a moment of total bewilderment eight years ago when I was performing on stage at Wembley arena in front of nearly 13,000 people,” he says.

“Suddenly I felt myself mentally transported back to playing a gig in a pub in Hull in front of six people, in those days, believe me, that was a crowd, and I was struck by the thought: ‘How did all this happen – how did I get here?’ I wrenched myself back to reality pretty quickly and carried on, but it was a surreal moment.”

Find out more about the Be Lungworm Aware campaign at

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