Published On: Sat, Dec 9th, 2023
Entertainment | 3,444 views

“AI is exciting but it can’t fix dishwashers… of course neither can I!” | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV

Bill combines comedy and music in his new show

STRIKING A CHORD: Bill combines comedy and music in his new show (Image: Gillian Robertson Glassbox Productions Ltd)

“There are many things AI can do, but there are also many things it can’t.

“For example, it can’t be a plumber. When is AI going to get into a dishwasher and try to fix it – as I did recently?

“Admittedly, I did get stuck and almost had to be cut out by the fire brigade, but I would argue AI can’t do that either.”

Bill, who captivated the nation in 2020 when he became the oldest winner of Strictly Come Dancing, continues: “I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a dishwasher, but it’s very dark in there. So I propped my phone light up on one of those little racks you put mugs on. But all the instructions were on YouTube, so I had to keep getting the phone down to look at the instructions.

“The dogs were watching me like it was a dog cabaret. They were sitting going, ‘Look at this idiot. Well done, mate!’”

This routine is typical of Bill, who is like a comedy Catherine wheel, continually firing out sparks of priceless humour.

At the beginning of our interview, for instance, the stand-up pretends to be an AI machine, responding to my questions in a robotic voice. “Ask me anything. What would you like to know?”

“What is your favourite colour?”

“My favourite colour is black. I like black because it reminds me of the darkness of the night. Sorry, I drifted into self-reflection there, which is not what I should be doing.”

There is a reason why AI features so heavily in our chat. It is one of the main themes in Bill’s new live show, Thoughtifier, which is touring the UK, February 9 to March 4.

The comedian, who has been married to Kris since 1998 and has a son, Dax, begins by laying out the advantages of AI. “I love progress and tech and science and the rational mind. I embrace it. It’s funny, I was talking about it yesterday to my 91-year-old dad, who’s actually on my warm-up tour with me in Devon – that’s how rock ’n’ roll he is!”

Bill’s father Christopher is a retired doctor and, the comic says, “is still fascinated by all this technology in a medical capacity.

“AI is an immensely useful tool. It can process data and look at scans so quickly it frees up time.

“AI is also helping doctors find new antibiotics by conducting rese-arch that would take humans years.

“With AI, that can now can be done in a fraction of the time.

“All of that is great. It’s positive that AI is giving us a bit of a kick and telling us, ‘You’re not quite as great as you thought you were’.”

But there is, of course, another, more troubling side to AI, which Bill will be covering in Thoughtifier.

“There is an existential panic about AI in the arts. It’s very easy now to produce deep fakes, and the idea is that actors’ likenesses are going to be used without their permission. In the future film scripts will be written by ChatGPT and all the actors will be AI, obviating the need for scriptwriters, actors and directors. As a result, film studios are thinking, ‘Wow, this movie is now going to cost us about 30 quid!’ So the panic is quite real.”

As a comic response, Bill carries on: “In the show, we have a bit of fun with the whole idea of AI.

“We’ve taken loads of pictures of me, and using a bit of software we’ve manipulated them to look like a rubbishy AI version of me. It’s a bargain basement version of AI.”

“The point is to take the rise out of the idea AI is the answer to all our problems.

“There’s a bit in the show where my wobbly AI is being asked questions and, of course, it doesn’t know anything. I’m saying to it, ‘Come on, you’re supposed to be
this high-tech font of all knowledge. You’re supposed to basically be the Oracle’.

“But every time it’s asked a question, it replies, ‘Oh, hang on, give me a minute’.”

The show also considers why we say things on social media that we would never say to someone’s face in a million years.

The stand-up reflects: “Social media is just people’s unmuted thoughts. It continues relentlessly, 24/7. But you would never be like that in the rest of your life.

“You would never walk down the street going, ‘What are you doing with her?

“That cardigan doesn’t suit you. Your dog’s face is a bit wonky’.”

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Bill is a highly talented musician who has an associate diploma from the London College of Music. And one of his other great loves is the animal kingdom. His menagerie in his West London home contains more than 50 rescue animals, including three dogs, several rare pigeons from Papua New Guinea, parrots, frogs and lizards.

Yet after a period away from stand-up, is he delighted to be back on stage?

“I’ve been doing lots of different things. I’ve been writing and producing TV, making documentaries, being in dance competitions, drawing, painting, and all these other things. But now I’ve done all that.”

He continues: “It’s such a joy to be returning to the thing I love more than anything.

“Stand-up is the thing that I’m put on this Earth to do. If I’m to be useful in this world, it’s by being up on stage, making fun of myself, getting the audience to sing along, and playing different instruments.

“I have got things that you might not normally see in a live show, from state-of-the art instruments to ancient Turkish lutes.

“I’m like a travelling vaudevillian who may well have been doing this 150 years ago.”

Among the many delights that Thoughtifer provides is an escape from our daily worries.

Bill says: “Last night, I was doing this little try-out show and for an hour people were taken out of themselves.

“During the show, whatever is clouding their thoughts or however they are affected by events in the world or their own lives, people are going to sit and laugh and forget all that. I think that’s a much-underestimated benefit of comedy.”

The comedian believes escapism is also a huge part of why people love Strictly Come Dancing: “All kinds of people will still come up to me to say how much they enjoyed it.

“They’ll say it gave them a bit of joy at the end of the week, a bit of an escape. The show has the capacity to do that.”

Bill goes on to assess the reasons why he won Strictly with professional dancer Oti Mabuse. “The fact I’m a man of a certain vintage appealed to people because I looked so unlikely. I was a

no-hoper really at the beginning.

“There is always a kind of comedy sentiment there. I genuinely thought I would be fired out of a cannon dressed as a badger, and I was quite happy to do that.

“It became one of those curious things that people could get behind. People
started to say, ‘Oh, actually, let’s root for the daft old git.’ It had that feel of the underdog coming good. You can’t write those scripts.”

The comedian says he adores watching Strictly Come Dancing now. There is one snag, though: “I watch it with a critical eye these days. That’s what’s changed.

“I watch it saying, ‘Yes, very good, but the hand position was a little off, and the shoulders were too high. There was not enough paso shaping there, and I thought that samba lacked a little bit of – oh,
my God what’s happening? I’ve become a self-appointed dance critic!”

Bill reveals in characteristically self-mocking fashion: “I was trying to intellectualise it on the show, and it’s probably not the programme to do that.

“I was trying to talk about the ancient nature of dance and the reason why it is called the paso doble and the socio-economic reasons for the Argentine Tango.

“I was saying things like, ‘I think it’s very important to know that when the migrant workers came to Argentina from Europe, they brought with them the polka, and that, of course, fused with salsa…’”

Bill recalls: “The producers would go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. We don’t need to know all that, Bill. Just dance!’”

Buy tickets for Bill’s new UK tour Thoughtifier at

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