5 minutes with... TEDxBrighton's Laurence Rickard
8 Oct 2015
TEDxBrighton caught up with this year's host Laurence Rickar. Larry (as he would prefer you all to call him) is a BAFTA-winning comedy writer and actor, probably best known for his work on the hit BBC sketch show Horrible Histories and the Sky 1 fantasy comedy Yonderland.
What are you doing right now?
I'm on a train, which is where I spend a fair proportion of my life. I find I get huge amounts of work done on trains, because I can't procrastinate by making a sandwich of going for a walk... Well, not for a very long walk anyway. Though answering these questions means I'm not doing the re-write that I've promised my producer. If she shouts at me, I'm going to give her your number.
What was your first thought when invited to host this year’s event?
Honestly? I was worried that I'd taken on something I wouldn't have time to do. But then I feel that when I agree to do most things. It'll be fine. I just like to worry.
You’re undoubtedly extremely busy this year with your writing and acting, and also with the release of your first film, Bill. With this in mind, what persuaded you to add this role to your all ready crammed to do list?
I went to school with Sam, one of the organisers, so he probably has quite a lot of dirt on me. I thought it best not to cross him, in case he had a copy of that demo my band did when I was 15. I wouldn't want that getting out. Also, it's TED, isn't it. It's an institution. I felt very privileged to have been asked.
This year’s conference is about losing control. When was the last time you lost control and why?
Well, I'm five days away from the release of a film right now (it's called Bill and it's in cinemas on September 18th – you should definitely go and see it), so I'm probably running on slightly heightened levels of anxiety and reduced levels of sleep. I'm not sure I'd say I've 'lost control' at any point, but there's been a few moments where I've raised my voice a bit, which is very rare for me. That's a very British answer isn't it? You ask when I lost control and I tell you the last time I raised my voice. Hardly a thundering maelstrom – I don't think it'll make the papers.
TEDx is all about sharing inspiring concepts and ideas. Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?
Probably my drama and English teacher at secondary school. He was always so supportive and encouraging. On reflection he was quite anti-establishment – he would give you a thousand merit points for a piece of writing, which both bolstered your self-confidence and made a complete mockery of the 'merit point' system. That was him all over. I was quite shruggy-shoulders about most of my school life, but I looked forward to his lessons so much. He encouraged me to write and act, and now I write and act – if that's not an inspiration, I don't know what is.
If you were asked to deliver a TED talk, what would you like to talk about and who would you most like to deliver your talk to?
I'd probably talk to young people about the celebration of celebrity. I worry that there's a generation who are, in many ways, being robbed of inspiration, and I don't think that's fair on them. People who, in a world of Geordie Shore and vlogs about making a nice breakfast, think that 'being a celebrity' is a goal to strive towards. Not trying to learn a skill or an art or hone a talent, but wanting to get 'rich and famous' by doing something that, in essence, pretty much anyone could do. You just want them to find that thing – whether it's bricklaying or mastering the violin – that enthuses and inspires them beyond the desire to one day have 2 million Twitter followers. Making sure that the world's best UN Secretary General doesn't end up never existing because they became the next Joey Essex instead.
As a born and bred resident of Brighton and Hove, what do you love most about this city?
I like its size. It's a walkable city. I lived in that London for a bit, and people travel for two hours just to meet up for a beer. That seems mad to me. And I like that Brighton is, on the whole, tolerant, liberal and diverse. I don't like that big spike they've put by the West Pier though. I just don't get it – we are a city of vibrant streets, not striking skylines. The view in one direction will just be roofs, and the other will just be just water. I never really got the thrill of looking at stuff from a bit higher up.
If you could take just one book, film and album on holiday this year, which would you take?
The film please.
What do you think events like TEDx offer to audiences?
Tickets I'd imagine. That would be the model I'd adopt. It's simplest in terms of seating etc. Plus the revenue would help to cover production costs. It's certainly worth looking into.
If you could pick a theme for next year's conference what theme would you most like to explore and why?
Special Effects Techniques in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. It's the only thing I can speak about with any authority.