Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Mighty Boosh’s Rich Fulcher on how he’d survive in a Turkish prison

Photo Illustration: Nick Wanserski / Comedy Central
Photo Illustration: Nick Wanserski / Comedy Central

In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.


Although he got his start in comedy at Chicago’s Second City, Rich Fulcher is best known to fans of British comedy, thanks to his roles on cult-classic British sketch shows The Mighty Boosh and Snuff Box. Since then, he’s returned to the loving embrace of his American motherland, where he’s appeared on multiple episodes of Drunk History, as well as in guest spots on basically every weirdo-comedy favorite you can think of, including Rick And Morty, Comedy Bang! Bang!, The League, Bob’s Burgers, Childrens Hospital, Kroll Show, The Sarah Silverman Program, and more.

This fall, Fulcher’s starring in a pair of webseries, one for each side of the pond: Comedy Central just released the second season of Rich Fulcher’s Questionable Science, where Professor Rich and his loyal “students” investigate such profoundly silly hypotheticals as “What if milk got you high?” and “What if sneezing were racist?” Meanwhile, BBC Three just released Sexy Murder, a webseries spoofing true-crime documentaries about which Fulcher says, “I like to call it The Jinx meets my pants.” That sums it up pretty nicely.

1. What’s a question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

Rich Fulcher: What’s your favorite scientific theory?

The A.V. Club: Okay, what’s your favorite scientific theory?

RF: Some people think it’s psuedo-science, but it’s called morphic resonance. It’s when someone thinks of an idea, it makes it easier for someone else to think of the idea. That’s why you should do crossword puzzles later in the day, because other people have thought about the answers. That’s why you hear about people coming up with inventions almost at the same time, because someone else is thinking about it. That’s why whenever I have a really good idea, I’m always worried about theft.

AVC: Does that apply to jokes as well?

RF: Yes. But every joke is either taken by ads or The Simpsons. It’s all about being able to get your ideas out into the universe. How many times have you thought of something, and somebody else does it, or there’s a TV show, and you go, “Shit! I should have been head of a network”?

AVC: That happened to a guy I know. He came up with an idea for a comic book, and then a month later saw it on the stand in a store.

RF: Me and a friend literally had the idea for Wedding Crashers and pitched it, and it was already a script. They go, “That’s funny! You should call it The Wedding Crashers.” It was almost exactly like that [movie].


AVC: Better?

RF: Well, we had it that they went to the weddings to steal gifts. It turned out that they stole one gift that turned out to be a money-laundering thing from the Russian mob.


AVC: The mob does love weddings.

RF: Yeah, so they used the gifts to launder the money. That was our idea. Damn it! I’m still fuming.


AVC: Sorry to bring up old wounds.

RF: It happens. It’s the business.

2. If you could ride a giant version of an animal to work every day, what animal would it be?

RF: I guess it would be a turtle, because they allow you to see the view, and there’s a potential to put an engine on the back.


AVC: Like a jet pack?

RF: Possibly a jet pack. Or some kind of high-octane engine in the back area. Maybe you could lie on your stomach and just hold on and fall asleep while you’re riding the turtle.


AVC: That’d be nice. It’d be like Amtrak. There’s a nice view, and the rhythm kind of puts you to sleep.

RF: Unless you’re riding them and they want to start mating. Then I’d have to get off and walk. Or watch. I don’t know how they do it.


AVC: I’m sure you could go on YouTube and find a video of that.

RF: That’s what I’m going to do right when this interview’s over.

3. What movie have you seen the most?

RF: If we’re not counting kids’ movies—because my kid is constantly watching The Jungle Book—I would have to say Wall Street.


AVC: How many times have you seen it?

RF: About 12? That’s not a lot, I know. I’m not one of those Star Wars guys that has seen [my favorite movie] 97 times. It’s just a random thing. I just happen to see it on TV all the time, and I always stop and watch it.


AVC: So you like it then? Or is it pure convenience?

RF: I love to hate it, and I like it. I love the fact that I hate it and like it at the same time. Plus, Gordon Gekko is now Trump, isn’t he?


AVC: That’s true.

RF: Only he’s a lot smarter than Trump.

4. What’s a stupid thing you incorrectly believed for a long time?

RF: Oh, gosh. Well, I’ll tell you what. I missed the day in school where you subtract all the zeros. Let’s say you subtract 10,000 minus 89. I never got the fact that you go next door and borrow a cup of coffee, and the zero changes to nine. For the longest time, I didn’t know how to do it. I still to this day have been affected, and it was just one day they taught it. I was too afraid to say, “Why? What’s going on with the zeroes?” So for the longest time, I thought that was a conspiracy.


AVC: So did this affect your grades in school?

RF: It just affected my daily ability to subtract.

5. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve heard about yourself that isn’t true?

RF: Oh, I guess the most interesting thing that people think is I’m English [because of The Mighty Boosh]. They think that I live in England and have a British accent. When they talk to me, at first they go, “Man, you have a great American accent,” and I go, “No, no, no, this is my accent. I don’t do accents.” And then they’re really disappointed, and they try to punch me.


AVC: Did you ever just take the compliment?

RF: Yeah, sometimes I’d go [in British accent] “Uhh, brilliant! Absolutely brilliant, thank you. Wonderful. Cheers!” I do say “cheers” automatically,” from living over there. I say “cheers” to everything.


AVC: Is that the only thing you picked up?

RF: I’m not like Madonna. I haven’t changed my lilt in my voice. Some people try to say I’m British by the way I’m speaking. But I think I’m more Canadian, because I speak really slow. Midwestern and Canadian.


6. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

RF: I don’t know if this is weird, but I was changing my son’s diaper the other month, and I accidentally ate his poo. It tasted awful. Like liver.


AVC: What happened?

RF: Well, I had my hand on the diaper, and I forgot after a while that I had stuck my hand there, and I stuck my finger in my mouth. I wasn’t even thinking. It was an autonomic response. But yeah, I kind of learned after that.


AVC: Liver, huh?

RF: It tasted like liver magnified a thousand times. I hate liver, but I could imagine eating some with a little bit of ketchup. Like, a lot of ketchup. I could survive in a Turkish prison, probably.


AVC: Well, at least you learned something about yourself that day.

RF: Yeah. You learn a lot.

7. What’s the first concert you ever went to?

RF: I think it was The Police. It was in D.C., and I couldn’t believe how they were just three guys, but they sounded like six guys. It was amazing. I got spoiled, because that was my first concert. I wish in retrospect I had seen someone like Air Supply, and then my expectations could keep rising. Nothing against Air Supply. “I’m All Out Of Love” is still a classic.


AVC: How old were you?

RF: I must have been close to 14. I went with friends, and I wasn’t with a family member.


AVC: Did you go to anything with family members before that?

RF: Let me think. Other than The Man From La Mancha, I don’t remember going to see anything. [Laughs.] We saw The Man From La Mancha, and I remember there was a scene where the woman’s skirt fell off, and I got embarrassed and excited at the same time.


AVC: So it was a formative experience, is what you’re saying.

RF: Yes. It was. That’s all I remember from that.

8. What’s the most interesting opportunity you’ve gotten through your work?

RF: When we were touring with The Mighty Boosh, we went on a ghost tour of York. It was all about ghosts, and the tour guide was hilarious. I don’t remember what he said, but we were laughing the whole time. I didn’t know there were so many ghosts in York.


AVC: Do you remember any of the stories?

RF: Every time the tour guide told a story, he would build it up to the point where he’d say, “And there was Bloody Joe, and his young ghost son walked into the room.” He would build it up, and then it was just “the ghost walked into the room.” And he would say, “Let’s move on,” and that would be it. It’s like, wait, what happened to the bloody ghost? That’s it? We knew he was making some of it up.

9. What embarrassing phase did you go through?

RF: I used to kiss things all the time. I would have to kiss everything, just about everything. The headboard on my bed, the steering wheel in my car. I think it was an OCD thing.


I still do this, and I don’t know why—I click my teeth together every time I want to take a mental picture of something, like, “Wow, what a beautiful sunset!” Slam your teeth together.

AVC: Does it work?

RF: I don’t know. It’s sort of like a reminder to remember it, but I don’t think it works. I have terrible memory and really bad teeth as a result.


AVC: So maybe it’s not really working on either end, then.

RF: I think more about clicking the teeth, because I have to line them up just exactly right, and then I slam them down so they exactly meet. And I think I worry about that too much. I’m not thinking about remembering. Like, “Wow, that was a great moment went my son went trick-or-treating”: click. “What was I supposed to remember?” That sort of thing.


10. Have you ever stolen anything, and what was it?

RF: Well, I used to steal pens at the store. Back in the day when you would write checks, I would write a check and use the pen, and I would keep the pen.


AVC: That’s pretty minor as far as stealing things goes.

RF: Sometimes I steal costumes. I still have the Antonio Banderas outfit from when I toured with Noel Fielding. I kept that outfit, and if you guys want it back, forget about it. It’s mine. Silky silky. My silky, silky shirt is mine. My black pants are mine. And the boot is mine!


AVC: Do you ever wear it?

RF: Yeah, sometimes. When I just want to be free, I’ll wear the Banderas outfit and the mask and touch myself. On the chest. Only on the chest. I just want to feel the silky silks.

11. Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?

RF: Well, when I was little, I met Ronald Reagan. I think I said something to him. He was talking about somebody—he said somebody was like the Clint Eastwood of something, and I said, “I thought he was the Arnold Schwarzenegger,” or “more like Arnold Schwarzenegger.” He just looked at me like I was crazy. He didn’t know what I was talking about.


Oh, this is good! When I was little, my dad was in the Air Force. He introduced me to Neil Armstrong, and Neil Armstrong signed my moon book. I had a little moon book, which I still have somewhere, and he signed it, and he died. It’s true.

AVC: Were you way into space as a kid?

RF: I was way into space and planes. I had loads of model planes and rockets. My dad said, “Neil Armstrong is speaking at this place,” and he took me, and I waited in line and got to have him sign it. I didn’t ask him anything, though.

Bonus 12th question from Wendi McLendon-Covey: What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

RF: Go to law school. [Laughs.] The first day I went to law school, I realized I’d made a huge mistake. It was nothing like what I thought. It was not like Matlock or anything like that. I thought you’d be arguing, and then I realized you have to read all these cases, and it’s mostly writing, and then I just thought, “Well, I might as well stay and get the degree.”


Oh, this is it: “Because you can do anything with a law degree.” You can’t! You can do law with a law degree. You can’t do anything else. I went right to Chicago to do improv [after law school], but I wish I had gone, “Let me just bypass this law thing.” I mean, sure, it helps you read a contract, but I can read a contract regardless. It’s just common sense, contracts.

AVC: So did you finish law school?

RF: Yeah, I finished, once I decided I was going to go, but just to get the degree. It was actually a lot of fun.


AVC: How so?

RF: Well, you weren’t like, “I’ve got to get an A in this!” You know? I did pass the bar in Pennsylvania. I can practice Amish law. But it’s long expired, my bar license.

AVC: What question would you like to ask the next person, not knowing who it is?


RF: What are you afraid of now that you never used to be afraid of?

AVC: Oh, that’s a good one.

RF: It is? Good.