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Simon Bodkin/Lee Nelson on comedy, littering and his next prank

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We spoke to comedian Simon Brodkin, AKA Kanye stage-invader Lee Nelson, AKA footballer Jason Bent, AKA the man who threw money at Sepp Blatter

What did you do while you were in the Swiss police cell after the Sepp Blatter incident?

What you learn about police cells – unfortunately I’m able to say that sentence – is there’s absolutely nothing to do in them. It makes you appreciate Netflix. There’s nothing but stone around you. A little chair. Not even a real chair, just a slab attached to a wall, and you do a lot of pacing. In British prisons at least I can read the graffiti, but my Swiss-German isn’t up to much, so I didn’t have that luxury.

Did you have a drink for Dutch courage before you went into that Fifa press conference?
No, you have to keep a clear head. Smart move because they made me do a Breathalyser test afterwards. The Swiss copper took the reading, looked
at it, looked at me sternly and said: [does Swiss impression] “Sir, you are six times over the limit…”

Seriously?
Then he said, “I’m joking with you, man, come on!” 

So they quite enjoyed the stunt, the Swiss police?
I think so, yeah. At one stage, one of the coppers popped his head around my cell door and said: [impression again] “I just want you to know it is all over the internet,” with the cheekiest of smiles on his face. He looked like he was somehow proud of me.

Nelson

What were you charged with? Littering?
[Laughs] They are very tidy people, so maybe. I’ve not yet been charged, so don’t rule it out. Hopefully some of that famous Fifa sense of humour will come out and they’ll drop all charges.

Did you ever imagine that it would produce such a defining image?
I thought it would be funny to chuck a bunch of bank notes at him and that it would make for an amusing look, but no, in terms of that image, I didn’t picture it exploding like it did.

You also invaded the ‘greatest rock star on the planet’s’ stage at Glastonbury. Are you actually a Kanye West fan?
I am. Nothing I ever do is out of aggression. None of the stunts are meant maliciously and, absolutely, I’ve bought Kanye albums in the past. But there’s never ill feeling meant towards anyone, and that goes for Sepp, too.

Nelson

Are you willing to do time for comedy?
Three months and that’s it.

Do you have a massive legal team who go through every possible scenario before you pull a stunt?
I wish I did. It’s normally just me, the day before, going, “Oh bollocks, I need to change some pound sterling into US dollars to hopefully throw at Sepp Blatter!” I forgot to do that in among booking my plane tickets and packing my luggage.

What did you spend the $600 on – the money you were famously given back after the stunt?
Well, let’s just say Swiss lawyers are not renowned as the cheapest on earth. Plus, I had to buy a giant Toblerone before the flight home.

Have you ever bottled a stunt?
I’ve got a good track record. One didn’t feel right on the day, so I pulled out, but I can’t tell you what it was because it might still happen.

What percentage of doing your pranks is planning and what percentage is pure ballsiness?
Percentages? I’ll need to get out the Percent-o-meter App, hang on. [Makes fake beeping noises] Right, it says 51 per cent balls.

Are you plotting right now?
Ha! No. They’re more organic. An idea comes to me, then there’s logistics to work out and, most importantly, deciding if it’s funny.

You’re a qualified doctor. How hard was it to switch to comedy?
I didn’t give it much thought, which makes me think I was an idiot, because it was a huge decision. 

Is it true you were thrown out of a gynaecology class at university for pretending the intimate parts of a female mannequin were a cash machine?
Yes, your honour.

What’s easier, talking your way into situations or out of them?
I haven’t had to talk my way out of many things. Lawyers tend to have to take that on.

Not everyone likes your comedy – does that bother you or do you thrive off it?
I’m not sure I thrive off it, but comedy is a divisive beast and most comics split opinion. That’s life. If the Percent-o-meter App was registering massively against me and it was just me finding it funny, I might rethink it. Fortunately, there does seem to be quite a few people who do find it funny. So blame them.

Final question: who would you most like to prank?
It’s got to be Kim Jong-Un, hasn’t it? But I’d only be willing to do three weeks inside for that, not three months. Harsher regime. 

Catch Lee Nelson’s ‘Suited & Booted’ at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar in Edinburgh until 30 Aug, and on tour from September; leenelson.com

(Images: Shamil Tanna

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