Limmy's Daft Wee Interview
The Skinny braves the dark mind of Glasgow comedy hero Limmy to learn a little more about his new book: the appropriately titled Daft Wee Stories
"There’s some terrible fucking things I can write. Terrible things that pop up in my mind, but I chose to keep that a bit light for the book." We’re inside the bleak imagination of Limmy: comedy auteur and Glesga’s favourite son. With a swarm of Twitter followers and a heaving trophy cabinet from his television work, he’s making the next big leap; he’s written a book. "I know it’s got violence and things like that, but I didnae go into anything too fucking dark."
Daft Wee Stories is its unambiguous title. It’s a collection of short short stories, ranging from several pages to a single sentence. The stories are dark, scatological, slyly satirical and frequently violent, and relish all of these things greatly. Petty arguments escalate to murder, horrible secrets lurk behind unfashionably tiled walls and shady cabals of masturbators poke their arseholes into a foaming frenzy. These aren’t your traditional short stories. He mixes up tenses, breaks away at a tangent, slips into his native Glaswegian dialect and generally keeps it loose and informal. "Like, ‘I’m here, I’m telling you this story.' There were some stories that had a wee bit more of that. With me being in it. More like, ‘I’m in the story and I’m watching this,’ but me, as if I’m looking at you while I’m telling the story, you know? ‘You’ll never believe this’ – that kind of thing. I like stuff like that. I like not taking it too seriously."
Following its launch at the end of July, he’s taking the book on tour, covering a handful of dates in Aberdeen, Newcastle, Manchester, London and, of course, Glasgow. "It begins with a few dates in Glesga and then it ends with a few dates in Glesga," he says. "There’s some folks asking for other places, but I don’t know – if I go there, I don’t know if they’d sell out or not." His modesty is ill-justified: at the time of writing, almost all his live dates have sold out.
Despite having something of a live background – he adapted his podcast Limmy’s World of Glasgow for the Fringe and Glasgow Comedy Festival in 2007 and 2008 – this will be the first time he’s performed live since before BBC Scotland’s Limmy’s Show broke. He seems unfazed: "I’m looking forward to it. At the beginning, because I haven’t done any live stuff for ages, I were like ‘Oh, what’s this gonna be like?’ And now, once you get round your heid that that’s what you’re gonna be doing, and you think a bit about what you're rehearsing and planning oot the right things that you want to do and everything; then you just get looking forward to it. Just wanna fucking do it right now rather than waiting for a month."
Fans eager to see him have had their appetites whetted over on Twitter the past few months, and interestingly it’s his web presence that got the book made in the first place. "I had a habit of doing these wee stories on Twitter, or on my webcam, or on Facebook. Typing stuff up or just making it up on my webcam, or something. Just kind of improvising, just sort of making anything up and then I slung these wee stories on my website." Evidently, this caught the eye of someone at Random House: "The publisher got in touch with my agent and said, 'Would you be interested in writing a whole book of them?' So, that was it, and I decided to go call them Daft Wee Stories, because that’s what they are."
One story typical of the book is Your Shite Is My Shite, where a neurotic protagonist’s discovery of a stranger’s monstrous turd in the stall results in a full cognitive uncoupling. "It’s sort of based on a true story, I was in Òran Mór – which is where I’m gonna be doing the readings in Glesga – and there was a shite so fucking bad that I almost did have to unhinge my fucking mind." The disgraceful pan-splatter forces the narrator to imagine, what if that was his own shite? He wouldn’t mind the smell at all. He might even enjoy it. "You have to get kind of fucking psychotic, you have to lose touch with reality. And that’s how bad that shite was, and at Òran Mór I lost my fucking mind. I have to lose my mind in order to keep my mind." It’s not the first time he’s played around with these ideas: "I did a sketch about this in Limmy’s Show. If there’s noisy neighbours and it’s kind of pissing me off, I’d sort of pretend to myself that we’re pals. Because if it was mates next door sort of making the noise, I’d be alright with it, I’d be able to get to sleep. But if it’s across the road; fucking inconsiderate bastards."
Television’s obviously given him a platform to explore these ideas before, albeit with less poo, but it comes with its frustrations. "I didnae come against a lot of opposition to stuff when I was doing Limmy’s Show, I just sort of instinctively knew. Though there was a sketch when we did the first series where there was gonna be this wee guy tells this guy who’s just came off the train to fucking walk the tracks," he says. "You cannae really do that on the telly, you can’t do it on BBC in something that’s meant to be a comedy. If it was a drama, aye. But if it’s a comedy you’re saying this is funny, chucking somebody on a fucking train track." Content restrictions aren’t the biggest challenge he’s faced, having stumbled trying to sell new sitcom ideas in the past few years. "Even if you did something really good, if they don’t have a slot for that, if it’s the wrong timing, if there’s something else kind of similar out there, if it’s a certain mood or something like that, or if they’ve already got something like that for that slot at nine o’clock on Saturday night, that’s taken – naebody else can have that, that’s taken."
"You have to get fucking psychotic, you have to lose touch with reality" - Limmy
More than this, he’s happy to be let off television’s leash. "I quite like just the freedom of it. I like that I can write anything, pretty much, and that’s it," he says. "Books, you just print the fucking things, you just put them on shelves or Kindle or whatever. So I just like the idea that I’ve got maybe a chance at doing what I like, which is coming up with ideas and people can see them and enjoy them and laugh at all of it." Is he interested in writing more books? "I’d like to do more short stories, but longer ones. You can sort of get your teeth into it, and just think of one idea and get right into it. I’ve got a few ideas for that, and I’d like to do maybe a novel or two or three," he enthuses. "Writing stuff, I just… I really like it."
He’s had the rare privilege of having complete creative control over his projects, making the leap from podcasts to live festival shows, to a television show that he wrote, directed and starred in. Even down to his latest project, Wee Video for the Lassies on iPlayer, he retains his trademark violent tone shifts and unapologetic Glesgaisms. The move to books has allowed him to continue creating without ceding control: "They never said, ‘Why’s that person getting hit by the side mirror of a bus? That’s a bit violent.’ I just don’t think you would get that with books, unless its a wean's book."
Given his predilection for the dark, he’s not likely to be invited to write kids‘ books any time soon. "I would be into that. Have you seen them? I read them ‘cause I’ve got a son and I’m like, 'That, that’s fucking shite’." But what would he write? "Something hopefully memorable, so they come up to you 20 years later and say, ‘Fuck, I remember that, was that you that did that?’" Never one to drop his patented style, he’s more than happy to horrify a new generation with hilarious brutality. "I think a safe bet if you want to put a scary thing in a book is something like, ‘There’s a monster under your bed and it’s going to come and kill you,’” he laughs. "It’ll fucking eat your guts!"
Daft Wee Stories is published 30 Jul by Centry
Limmy plays The Comedy Store, Manchester, 5 Aug
Limmy plays Òran Mór, Glasgow, 10-13 Aug, £returns only