Changes: Nish Kumar
The audio version of this episode is available here.
Annie [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to Changes! It is Annie Macmanus here for what is to be the final episode of Changes this year. And we're going to look back at the year as a whole and look at change in 2023: the big societal, cultural, political changes that have happened over the last year. Now, one of the most talked about things in 2023 is the rise of artificial intelligence. The abbreviation of artificial intelligence, AI, has been named the Collins Word of the Year 2023, and in the spirit of this I decided to ask ChatGPT to write today's introduction for my guest, so here it goes. This is not me talking, this is AI... Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves for a comedic roller coaster ride as we dive into the hilarious realm of none other than the brilliant Nish Kumar! With a style that effortlessly blends clever observations, astute social commentary, and a dash of self-deprecating humour, Nish Kumar has become a household name in the comedy scene. Born with the uncanny ability to turn the mundane into the *emphasises* uproarious, Nish's comedic prowess knows no bounds. You may recognise Nish from his stellar performances in acclaimed shows like The Mash Report, or from his riotous stand up specials that have left audiences in stitches. His unique perspective and fearless approach to tackling complex subjects set him apart, making him a beloved figure in the comedy world. So without further ado, let's give a warm welcome to the one and only Nish Kumarrrrr! *claps*.
Nish [00:01:36] Wow.
Annie [00:01:36] *Clapping* Hello Nish. I felt like that deserves some sort of a round of applause at the end.
Nish [00:01:40] Thank you, SkyNet.
Annie [00:01:44] *Laughs* so what the ChatGPT failed to mention is your fabulous podcast, Pod Save the UK with Coco Khan, which I have- I'm going to be honest, I discovered upon doing the research for you and have now completely fallen in love with. It's such a brilliant podcast.
Nish [00:02:00] Thanks, Annie.
Annie [00:02:00] Yeah. How are ya?!
Nish [00:02:02] I'm good, I'm still *laughs*.
Annie [00:02:04] Did you like that intro?
Nish [00:02:06] I feel like I've come out quite well out of that to be honest with you.
Annie [00:02:08] I mean listen, I'm going to do that every week from now on. They did, I mean, if you just take out some of the adjectives, I think errr, I think it could be alright *Nish laughing*. Uproarious I liked.
Nish [00:02:18] It would have been an interesting experiment to see, if you just done that without contextualising it.
Annie [00:02:23] Yeah!
Nish [00:02:23] And seeing if people would have noticed.
Annie [00:02:25] *Laughing* If they noticed, yeah. So listen, Nish, before I go over what's happened this year, you know, a kind of summary, I suppose, how would you sum up 2023? How will you look back on this year?
Nish [00:02:38] I don't think this is going to go down as one of the- one of humanity's finer years *laughs* in the history books *Annie sighs*. It has definitely been a sort of miserable news time. I think the worst thing about it is that there's no, there's not like an end point to the current bout of misery. Like it doesn't seem like there's an easy or obvious solution to the Israel-Gaza crisis. It doesn't feel like anybody is really working towards any kind of conclusion that isn't awful to that situation. Is this what you were hoping for, for the fun, light-hearted Christmas special?
Annie [00:03:14] *Laughs* no listen, we have to go there. We have to go there.
Nish [00:03:18] *Laughs* I think that's, I think that's the thing is that you sort of, it feels like a sort of bad year but there isn't an end point for the things that have made it so difficult for a lot of people.
Annie [00:03:29] And Nish, like, surely we could sit there for every year of our lives and say, oh, it's been a crap year politically.
Nish [00:03:35] Definitely, definitely.
Annie [00:03:36] Or with the war over there, or you know-
Nish [00:03:38] Yeah, it definitely feels like that.
Annie [00:03:40] But this is even more so, is what you're saying?
Nish [00:03:41] Yeah, this is worse *Annie laughs* than a standard issue bad year. It feels like this is- it feels like you sort of get your bog standard bad years and then you get the even worse issues. It does feel weird because obviously, I guess from a British perspective, we will sort of look back on this year as like quite a weirdly significant year because we had a coronation. But that seems quite sort of odd and atonal. It seems odd that at this point in history, we had a party to put a gold hat on a man. Tonally, that feels quite weird.
Annie [00:04:20] Yeah. So globally, it's been a shit year. We will go into the year obviously, and look and zoom in on some parts of it, but how about you personally? How's your like- what will you remember, I suppose, about this year?
Nish [00:04:30] I guess two major personal events. My brother had a baby.
Annie [00:04:34] Oh!
Nish [00:04:34] Well, he didn't personally have a baby. He bore witness to his wife having a baby.
Annie [00:04:37] Okay. That's a big move.
Nish [00:04:39] That's a big move because that's my parent's first grandchild as well.
Annie [00:04:43] And you're an uncle. Uncle Nish.
Nish [00:04:45] But I've carried quite sort of erm, uncle energy. I don't know how *laughing* I don't even know how to s- I've always had the vibe of someone's loose cannon uncle *Annie laughs* and actually, if anything, my brother having a baby has actually sort of helped contextualise *Annie laughs loudly* my vibe. Like, I really strongly feel that. Especially as my hair sort of gets greyer, my general demeanour, it has the vibe of loose cannon uncle.
Annie [00:05:18] *Laughs* the one who buys the really kind of inappropriate, like birthday presents.
Nish [00:05:22] The one who give the kids- buys the kids alcohol for house parties when they're 16.
Annie [00:05:28] Yeah *laughs* and like brings a new baby, brings a new baby like a huge, like, thing of pick and mix sweets *both laugh*.
Nish [00:05:36] Yeah. Allow you to like, rent the Terminator when you're eight years old *Annie laughs*.
Annie [00:05:42] And you said there was two things, what was the other?
Nish [00:05:45] I broke my finger.
Annie [00:05:47] Oh! *Laughs*.
Nish [00:05:47] I've never broken a bone before in my body, so this was a big, this was a big year for me.
Annie [00:05:52] Big deal.
Nish [00:05:53] And I broke my finger because I sat on it whilst playing five a side football. And I'm also- so I also turned 38 this year, so I officially became middle aged *Annie laughs*. I became a middle aged man by breaking my finger whilst playing low quality sport.
Annie [00:06:13] But I don't understand the sitting, because if you're playing football how did you sit on your finger?
Nish [00:06:18] I never said I was playing it well, Annie *Annie laughs*. I never said I was playing football well, I never said I was good.
[00:06:23] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:06:33] So, 2023 was a year of ongoing war in Ukraine, a new and hugely divisive crisis in Israel and Palestine, climate change chaos, the UK got a new king, cinema got a revival with Barbenheimer, immigration has become an even bigger issue, Prince Harry became an author, Hollywood went on strike, Russell Brand was exposed for sexual assault, Taylor Swift became a billionaire and AI officially became the most terrifying thing in the world. Nish, tell me how you feel about AI in general. Do you find it terrifying?
Nish [00:07:11] Here's the thing, my instinct is always to be a luddite, really. Like my instinct with any technological change is always sort of to be a bit hostile to it. I, of course, did not get a mobile phone until I was 18, which for people of my age, you know, I'm 38, it was relatively late because I, this is a direct quote, 'didn't think they'd catch on' *Annie laughs*. I was someone who was like, we've got payphones and I don't think Snake is that fun. I've got- we've got payphones and a Gameboy!
Annie [00:07:44] *Laughing* yeah yeah!
Nish [00:07:46] Why do we need this? Why do we need this innovation? So like, my fears around AI are because of the absence of any sort of regulation. For the sake of an example, as we're talking there was some AI generated audio of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, saying some pretty unsavoury things-
Annie [00:08:13] Oh God, yeah.
Nish [00:08:13] About the kind of Israel-Gaza situation that was completely fraudulent and completely manufactured by AI. And so that's the kind of thing that concerns me, especially as we go into an election year in- almost certainly an election year in the UK, and certainly an election year in the US. It does concern me from quite a sort of insular perspective about what that does to democracy. You know, we've already got, we've already got a problem with fake news, we've already got a problem with online misinformation and the tools are becoming that much more sophisticated.
Annie [00:08:50] Right.
Nish [00:08:50] But I do understand also there like huge benefits to it, you know, especially in terms of the sort of medical community. There are like ways of like spotting cancers that AI can do because it can sift through data much quicker. It's actually the sort of thing that can be a tool to help people who already work in those fields and help doctors, rather than- our intrinsic fear of technology is always, oh it's going to replace, it's going to replace us. It could actually be something that helps- I think that, I don't think tech companies have bought a lot of trust from the general public *laughs*.
Nish [00:09:26] No, no not at all.
Nish [00:09:29] Companies like Google and Meta say, you know, we're only, we're developing AI, we're doing this in all good conscience. Based on your most recent behaviour, it does not suggest to me that you will do this- I think that's the thing that concerns me, there's a constant aversion to regulation or oversight in any way. And sometimes when you say things like regulation and oversight, people become defensive and say, well, that's just the sort of nanny state but regulation oversight is what you need.
Annie [00:10:05] It's important.
Nish [00:10:05] So that we all understand- yeah, it's important. It's important that we understand what these technologies can do. Like someone said to me, are you worried about it replacing you in a professional context and *deep breathe* you sort of go- I guess like being a stand up, you still feel like the live experience is still going to be something that you treasure. And then a friend of mine went to see ABBA Voyage and said, 'oh we're all out of a job now because ABBA Voyage is so amazing'.
Annie [00:10:35] Have you put any jokes into ChatGPT?
Nish [00:10:38] No, I've never done it. I've never put any jokes into ChatGPT.
Annie [00:10:41] Let's do it right now. What shall I- what shall I- tell us a joke about what? What should I say?
Nish [00:10:46] Well, I guess if I'm specifically being worried about replace- tell us a joke about UK news.
Annie [00:10:52] About UK news.
Nish [00:10:54] Yeah.
Annie [00:10:55] Here we go. Why did the UK news article apply for a job?
Nish [00:11:00] I don't know.
Annie [00:11:01] Because it wanted to work on its headline career. No you've still got a job Nish.
Nish [00:11:05] So I've got a few years.
Annie [00:11:06] You've got a job. You're fine *Laughing loudly*.
Nish [00:11:10] *Laughing*.
Annie [00:11:12] So there's been- interesting talk about regulation because just recently, Rishi Sunak had this thing called, I think he called it the Bletchley Conference, where he kind of made this big song and dance about doing an AI conference where everyone who's anyone in AI and tech would come from all over the world and it would be their first chance to kind of come together and try and make a commit- but it wasn't do a regulation, it was commit to doing a regulation. So it was a very first rung on the ladder of regulating AI. But Elon Musk was there and he was the special guest and they did a fireside chat, Musk and Sunak, and Sunak asked him, is AI going to take all our jobs? And he pretty much just said yes. Musk basically was like, well, think of a life without working. You know, think about what we could do with just- all the hobbies you could do and how much you could enjoy life if you have people to do your jobs for you. So it was kind of like, oh, okay, so you are the- one of the most powerful men in tech and you're not even trying to deny that. That's kind of crazy.
Nish [00:12:13] Yeah. And I mean, listen, I completely see why that would be scary to people. I am struggling to take anything he says seriously at the moment.
Annie [00:12:23] Why?
Nish [00:12:24] Because, you know, is he like microdosing. Did he take some mushrooms before he did that press conference with Sunak? Like I, you know, ever since he bought Twitter and turned up with a kitchen sink at the Twitter offices, and ever since I started reading the things that he tweets, I'm really struggling to take him seriously.
Annie [00:12:50] So this was in July. He'd bought Twitter and turned it into X.
Nish [00:12:54] Yeah, I think he's owned it officially for about a year but yeah, he renamed it X and I've just seen some of the things that he tweets. I think when you see somebody tweeting and the things that they're tweeting sound like things your dad Whatsapps you, I think you start to struggle *both laughing* to take them seriously as a tech leader. Listen, I'm sure that in spite of all of his public provocations he still remains an expert on AI, but I am increasingly struggling to take anything, any pronouncements he makes seriously.
Annie [00:13:36] Let's preface this quote with what you've just said. So the direct quote is, 'it's hard to say exactly what that moment is, but there will come a point where no job is needed. You can do a job if you want a job, but the AI will do everything'. There you go.
Nish [00:13:51] Yeah, and I mean-
Annie [00:13:52] That's a lie. Think of every manual job there is. The AI won't be able to like, change nappies.
Nish [00:13:57] I think what you've done there is maybe given him too much cred- he doesn't consider that to be work. I'm not sure how hands on a father he is. I- I- I- I don't know, but I'm not-
Annie [00:14:06] How many kids has he got now? 5 or- 5 or 6 I think.
Nish [00:14:09] He's got a few kids, but I don't know- I think he might be father in name only. He might be a bit of a ---, if you know what I mean *laughing*.
Annie [00:14:18] We should mention as well, in July, so when Twitter changed to X in July, Zuckerberg, as in Mark, launched Threads, and then Elon Musk challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight. But he couldn't do it because he had a bad back at the time. So it's been postponed. But the whole thing is so pantomime, isn't it? My ten year old dressed up as Elon Musk for Halloween.
Nish [00:14:39] *Laughs*.
Annie [00:14:41] Like that is, that is, you know, he watches YouTube shorts. He's all in that world. That's to him, a huge-
Nish [00:14:48] Cultural figure.
Annie [00:14:49] I just had to print out a picture of his face on the printer and then he stuck it to a cardboard box and just like held it up over his face and everyone thought it was hilarious. He got all the sweets.
Nish [00:15:00] You know what I'm annoyed about? Not your son, which that sounds adorable and fun.
Annie [00:15:04] Yeah.
Nish [00:15:04] What annoys me is, why do we have to think all rich people are cool?
Annie [00:15:08] Correct.
Nish [00:15:09] I think that's the thing that annoys me more than anything about this, you know. Say what you will about Bill Gates, the guy was a fucking nerd. And we all thought he was a fucking nerd, and his friend was a paperclip. You know, previous era of hyper capitalists, they were happy just being extremely rich. But now people are- now Elon Musk has to like, hang out at music festivals. It's like fuck o- like this is our break from- we understand you've won. Systemically, you have won. And our one refuge *Annie laughs* is culture, and art, and music festivals. Get the fuck out of our stuff. You have everything else, go and sit in your rich- I don't understand why we have to- it's not enough that they own us.
[00:15:53] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:16:03] The start of the year, we had Prince Harry's autobiography, Spare, of which afterwards there was a kind of torrent of clipped up bits from the audiobook of Harry *laughs* Nish is just shaking his head slowly here.
Nish [00:16:18] I just don't know whether this is- you see both my parents are both Indian, I wonder if there's some genetic colonial schadenfreude in watching the British royal family. I feel on some- even though I am British, I was born in Britain, I feel somewhere deep in my genes, I hear the sounds of my ancestors laughing their asses off *both laugh*. We didn't need to read Harry's audiobook because of the amount of clips of it that were sent on WhatsApp groups. I assume everybody got WhatsApp forwarded the thing about the cream on his dick. Surely everybody has heard that clip right now.
Annie [00:17:01] You're going to have to explain it for those who haven't Nish, I'm sorry.
Nish [00:17:04] There's a point in the book where he has got frostbite on his cock, and it's because he's on some kind of Arctic exploration thing, and somebody gives him some moisturising cream which he realises is the same moisturising cream his mum used to use. And he's thinking about his mum as he puts moisturising cream on his dick. And when I heard that extract from the audiobook, I did think, 'did anyone edit this?' *Annie laughs* because it did feel like the sort of thing that an editor would have taken him to the side and been like, maybe we lose the stuff about-
Annie [00:17:42] Your mum.
Nish [00:17:45] Your mums cream on your dick.
Annie [00:17:45] Yeah. Just keep with the cream on the dick but just take your mum out of that. Yeah. *Laughs* oh God. So Spare came out in January, it was a bestseller, it was like in every W.H. Smith in the entire country and every airport in the country. February, Rihanna performed pregnant at the Super Bowl. Personally, that was a very big moment for me. I'm her biggest fan. I was so happy to see her doing anything with music after not doing anything for years. Then King Charles the third got cor- coronated? *Laughing* I think that's the right word, coronated?
Nish [00:18:21] Coronated, yeah, he got to- Yeah, I think it's coronated.
Annie [00:18:23] Coronated in May. June, June was an interesting month news wise because we had two terrible things happen. First of all, we had a migrant boat disaster, The Messenia fell off the coast of Greece, hundreds of people died, and then a few days later, The Titan submersible imploded on an exhibition to view the wreck of the Titanic, killing all five passengers. And what was- I mean, both of these as I say were horrible, but what was remarkable, I suppose, was the kind of media coverage of them both and how the submersible just consumed all of the media and these hundreds of people who died in this boat sinking situation, it was just like another day at the office.
Nish [00:19:07] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, it kind of showed you how- it sort of laid bare the value people put on different human lives. Like, you would have thought we operate on a kind of cardinal principle of every human life matters equally, but then when you see the coverage of some rich people drowning verses the coverage of, you know, hundreds of people dying in a boat disaster, it kind of lays bare the extent to which human lives are not equally weighted in our cultural conversation. And I definitely think that if you want to look at the core root of some of the political problems we faced in the last decade, that feels like quite a significant- it feels coded in the DNA of some of our political problems, that we don't value human lives equally.
Annie [00:20:05] Yeah. I mean, the immigrant conversation has been so huge, it's just getting bigger and bigger and lots of politicians are kind of weaponizing that for their own gain. Can we talk quickly, as someone who does a politics podcast weekly, do you think, you know, you mentioned already that there will be an election next year, in terms of change in our political systems, do you think Labour will get in? Is it a given? What are your thoughts or predictions on that?
Nish [00:20:31] I mean, I'm very wary of making predictions-
Annie [00:20:33] Fair.
Nish [00:20:33] Because I've been wrong on literally everything.
Annie [00:20:35] *Laughs* okay.
Nish [00:20:35] But, it would be- for the Conservatives to win an election would be a kind of historic turnaround given the polling.
Annie [00:20:45] Right.
Nish [00:20:46] Which is not to say that it won't happen. I don't mean to sound melodramatic but I have literally no confidence in the British public. I think it's not just about a change of government, there's got to be a wholesale change in our political conversation. We've got to completely shift the tone and tenor of our political conversation. *Laughs* we're literally talking this morning as David Cameron has been appointed as foreign secretary. Literally, that happened an hour before we started recording.
Annie [00:21:20] We're also talking on the day that Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, has been sacked. Yes.
Nish [00:21:26] And so, I guess you would say one of the key architects of the austerity policy that has kind of bankrupted our public finances is now back in government seemingly without any accountability. And it's not even like in the last few years he's been just keeping his head down, he was involved in a huge lobbying scandal when Rishi Sunak was Chancellor of the Exchequer. So, you know, this is- the fact that there's this seemingly no accountability for essentially talking economic nonsense, the idea that the public finances in this country are in a terrible state because of excessive public spending and excessive immigration or the number of asylum seekers in this country feels to me to be the sort of original sin in this current cycle of British political chaos. And I mean, in terms of Suella Braverman who has been, it feels like, trying to get sacked since the last time she was sacked *laughs*.
Annie [00:22:26] Yes, yes, yes.
Nish [00:22:27] But just personally for me, it felt nauseating. She gave a speech earlier this year, the content of which felt very reminiscent of Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech. I don't think it's hyperbolic to draw direct comparison between those two speeches, because both of them ultimately are scare mongering about- I believe Suella used the phrase 'hurricane of migration', and also pointed to this idea that a multicultural society is going to destabilise and fragment British society and destroy British society. And, you know, Enoch Powell made that speech in 1968, and he was largely- at the time he was certainly referring to my parents and Suella Braverman's parents. And so, to see Suella Braverman make that speech, I sort of felt physically sick at the prospect of it.
Annie [00:23:38] Not surprised. Mmm.
Nish [00:23:38] Or maybe there's a different version of this. Maybe I should be saying, oh, this is the most positive thing of all. You know, doing our own racism. We've taken control of everything, and we are now being represented-
Annie [00:23:52] We've taken back control of racism!
Nish [00:23:53] We've taken back control. We're being represent- this representation matters guys! And sometimes where we need to be represented is in scaremongering and racism.
Annie [00:24:02] Yeah *laughs* ahh.
Nish [00:24:03] But personally I felt sort of physically ill. I know that I should be- logically, it should be irrelevant who's saying those things and what their background is. But I also can't- there is a part of me that just felt emptied out and like I didn't understand anything about how the world works anymore.
[00:24:25] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:24:35] Let's talk about more that's happened this year. Sinead O'Connor died at the end of July, which is a big thing for Irish people- well, and people all over the world. We had the SAG-AFTRA strikes in July.
Nish [00:24:48] Yeah.
Annie [00:24:48] And then also summer in general of 2023, broke temperature records globally by a wide margin *laughs* uh, and these record breaking temperatures continued into September. So 2023 still is on track to be the hottest year EVER. EVER. Just take that in guys
Nish [00:25:07] Not good is it.
Annie [00:25:08] As I'm saying this, I've got a sunbeam coming in through the window as if to say, 'and what?!'.
Nish [00:25:16] *Laughing* It looks- I'll be honest with you Annie, it looks very fucking on the nose.
Annie [00:25:20] *Laughing* does it? It's a bit too- go away sun! Ahhh!
Nish [00:25:24] *Laughing* it seems to be specifically aimed at your eyeball. It's like somebody's working with, a like, the mother of all laser pointers. Like it's almost right in your left eye *laughing*.
Annie [00:25:34] *Laughing* It won't go away!
Nish [00:25:35] It's like it's heard you talking about it and it's trying to burn a hole in your brain.
Annie [00:25:42] *Laughs* ahhh. I do want to talk about the Women's World Cup though, in August. I don't often on social media have rants right, but I was drunk at an airport, it was delayed, I was at Glasgow Airport, I'd had dinner on my own, I was on glass of wine number two, three.
Nish [00:26:00] Let anyone who has not, whilst drunk, gone on a tirade on social media, cast the first stone.
Annie [00:26:09] Right. And England had just lost the Women's World Cup one nil to Spain. And there'd already been loads of shit going on in the Spanish women's football team, but then we had the Louis Rubiales incident where he basically got the captain of the Spanish team and got her cheeks in between his hands and planted a big kiss on her, right. There was no consent given! There was no time to consent, it was *wop wop*.
Nish [00:26:36] Yep.
Annie [00:26:37] And he did the classic thing where he was like, I didn't do anything wrong, he refused to resign. I was- I went on a rant in the airport, but what was nice is that for once, the right thing happened.
Nish [00:26:50] Yeah.
Annie [00:26:50] What you needed in that point was the male players to go, actually no, we're not, you know, we're going to stand with the female team here. And they did. A lot of the big ones did. The team refused to play. And then this guy, Louis Rubiales, eventually had to- he was banned from football for three years. So it was like, okay good, I'm so glad but also I'm so pissed off that that huge, massive game, got you know, marred by a man fucking doing-
Nish [00:27:21] Especially after a tournament where, you know, in terms of the television audience and the audience turning out at games, we should only really be talking about it as a massive success story for women's football. But at the same time, we still find ourselves in a situation where, once again- the thing with FIFA that everybody has to remember is, it is and has always been primarily a safe haven for corrupted sex pests *Annie laughs*. That is what- that's why the organisation- there's some stuff in there about football administration, but its primary function is to provide a safe haven-
Annie [00:28:02] *Laughs* ahh God.
Nish [00:28:02] For the financially corrupt or the sexual pests. Football administration in general is institutionally rotten, and the Spanish FA had been in the midst of like, this huge dispute with the Spanish women's team anyway. A huge number of players refused to play for Spain, even in the World Cup, which actually, as a side note, kind of makes Spain winning even more remarkable.
Annie [00:28:28] It does, yeah! I didn't realise that.
Nish [00:28:29] Some of their players refused to participate the tournament, but erm, but yes so the Spanish FA like FIFA, like a lot- like UEFA, like a lot of football administration bodies is- has clearly got some- it's an orchard full of bad apples.
Annie [00:28:46] Yeah.
Nish [00:28:47] And so, I guess it shouldn't have been hugely surprising. At one point, Luis Rubiales' mother went on a hunger strike. I think that happened in the middle of all of it. The sort of erm-
Annie [00:29:01] WOW.
Nish [00:29:03] The kind of moralising around him seemed absolutely unfathomable to me.
Annie [00:29:07] Wow.
Nish [00:29:08] Like it was, it was wild shit *laughs*.
Annie [00:29:13] I mean, keeping it on a football tip, so the Beckham Netflix documentary came out towards the end of the year, which was highly entertaining. I have to say, I really enjoyed that.
Nish [00:29:22] Also as a sidenote, to connect it to one of the other significant television events of the year, very funny that it was directed by Fisher Stevens.
Annie [00:29:30] Yes! So remind people who Fisher Stevens is.
Nish [00:29:33] Fisher Stevens played Hugo in succession. People of a certain age will also remember him as being in some quite unfortunate make up and doing some quite unfortunate voice work when he played an Indian man in Short Circuit.
Annie [00:29:45] Oh no.
Nish [00:29:46] But he, yeah, but he plays Hugo in succession.
Annie [00:29:49] Hugo being the press guy? The very skinny press guy.
Nish [00:29:52] Yeah, the very skinny press guy. And they did sort- the music cues felt quite Successiony.
Annie [00:29:57] Yeah!
Nish [00:29:57] I watched it, you know, as a Manchester United fan of a certain age it held huge nostalgic value for me. It did l- it *laughs* it's quite a weird thing to say but it reminded me of reading all of the Prime Minister or President's memoirs that I've read-
Annie [00:30:14] Yeah.
Nish [00:30:14] It sort of reminded me of that in a weird way.
Annie [00:30:17] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nish [00:30:18] Because what was interesting about it was almost what was not in it. You know, the bits that are omitted-
Annie [00:30:24] Rebecca Loos! *Laughs*
Nish [00:30:25] As telling us the stuff- yeah *laughs*.
Annie [00:30:29] *Laughs* couple- couple small parts just conveniently left out, were just like brushed over really fast. I mean, it was his own production company wasn't it? Like it was, It was all very much from him and kind of authored by him. But I, like you, like as a football fan, just loved watching the football. And also I thought it was quite remarkable seeing just how quickly an entire nation can turn against what is essentially a boy. A boy.
Nish [00:30:54] So weird. So weird.
Annie [00:30:54] That was brutal! You know, from when he did the foul in the World Cup and there was like, people were burning effigies of him, like it was un- that anyone would have to go through that, and this is pre mental health discourse, this is like-
Nish [00:31:07] Yeah yeah yeah.
Annie [00:31:08] Unbelievable.
Nish [00:31:10] I think it's a good reminder because sometimes I think, I'm as guilty as this of anybody, of thinking that social media invented mob mentality. But also it's good to remember that like, because a man was removed from a game, people started hanging effigies of him.
[00:31:26] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:31:30] So in September, the Russell Brand sexual assault allegations came out along with the Dispatches episode, Russell Brand: In Plain Sight. Now you've spoken about that on your own podcast, there's a whole episode about it. I suppose rather than going deep into it again I just wanted to ask, do you think that happening has changed or will change how comedy works?
Nish [00:31:53] I think nothing is going to change. And I think this in any field in terms of sexual misconduct, nothing is going to change until the enablers are addressed in some way.
Annie [00:32:10] So the enablers as in like, the people who book the comedians, the people who-
Nish [00:32:14] Yeah, the people, the- the- the- the actual-
Annie [00:32:15] TV commissioners.
Nish [00:32:16] Yeah, the TV commissioners. Because Russell Brand was a, you know, these things were known about him clearly for a while- I should also say, and I have said this, apologies for repeating myself but I hadn't heard any of the things in doc- the things that I'd heard about Russell Brand were not in that documentary. But there were a lot of people that are in positions of power or were in positions of power that knew what he was doing.
Annie [00:32:46] So they called it like an open secret.
Nish [00:32:48] Yeah.
Annie [00:32:49] So every- there was rumours everyone knew, and you knew stuff from 2017 you said, right? Just to give an indication of how long-
Nish [00:32:57] Yeah, how long that's been going on for. I would say the thing that needs to change is you need more transparency and accountability for decision makers and for the people that make the decisions to employ people. You know, I think that if you have come to a situation where people are saying, oh, we can't have female runners being left alone with a particular person, then it is incumbent on you to not employ that person. And that sort of stuff is still going on. And until that changes and there's proper transparency and accountability for decision makers, nothing really is going to change. We should also be addressing, you know, the cultural problem of male violence towards women. And again, you know, I'm worried about the sort of influence of people like Andrew Tate, the kind of- the sort of manosphere online is again, something that people need to be way more aware of, and especially if you're, you know, if you have young men in your life, you need to be very aware of what these kind of things are, what the kind of influence of someone like Andrew Tate is doing. But, so there are cultural things that need to change that need to address the kind of pandemic of male violence, but also specifically in terms of the comedy industry, and I can only really speak to that because it's the only one I know-
Annie [00:34:24] Sure.
Nish [00:34:24] There needs to be more accountability for the people that facilitate these people. If 52% of the population cannot be left alone with someone, you should not be employed. That should be a pretty cardinal principle I would have thought. And until there's kind of more done to address those people, we won't see systemic change. That's the most important thing that has to, has to come out of this.
Annie [00:34:53] I mean, just to take it to another sphere, we've seen it in policing this year. Like finally, finally, the Met have had to kind of come clean and admit there's a problem and do something about that, which is some sort of positivity, I suppose.
Nish [00:35:05] Yeah.
Annie [00:35:06] So towards the end of this year, we will forever remember the end of 2023 as, you know, Israel and Palestine, Hamas launching an attack on Israel on the 7th of October and all the horrific scenes that have come from that. Been hugely, hugely divisive. I've never seen anything like it with regards to social media and how polarising this whole thing has been. We don't need to get into it, apart from just to say that it's happened and to acknowledge that. Also running alongside that, the Covid inquiry *laughs* just really, really exposed the government for kind of exactly what I suspected them of being, a complete shitshow really, during that whole thing.
Nish [00:35:46] Yeah. I mean, in a sense, I think especially with something like Israel and Gaza, it's hard not to be a sense of things coming back around again because I sort of feel the same way that I did in the early 2000s with, you know, the war on terror. You have this horrendous terrorist attack but then you respond with collective punishment and it didn't work, you know, in the early 2000s and all it results in is more civilian death. And I sort of feel that there has to be a better way through this. We've left Afghanistan in a situation as bad as it was when we found it. The collective punishment post-9-11 didn't work. So, you know, there's that feeling of circularity with all of these things. I think with the Covid inquiry, the thing to say is, we're having a lot of stuff confirmed. You know, the rumours around, you know, phrases like 'let the bodies pile high', these were all things that we'd heard and were rumoured to have been said, and the inquiry is sort of just ticking them off. I think it's a hugely important process that is happening, and I also appreciate that there are people I know who just are like, I can't really read anything about the Covid inquiry because it's too recent, it's too fresh- which I completely understand! You know, we all just lived through it. It feels like a nightmare. But it's so important that this stuff is happening because again, to take you back to the early 2000s, by the time the Iraq war inquiry had happened, it was, you know, 2015. 2015, 16. And I think that by then, a lot of people involved had sort of disappeared into the aether and there was no sense of account- so it's essential that the Covid inquiry happens now and there is a public record of the things that we all went through and the decisions that were made that put us through all of this stuff. I think it is confirming what a lot of us suspected, that Boris Johnson was unfit for office, and he was not capable. And even people who are still sort of apologists for him, you know, are saying things like, well, he was just, he was ill suited to this crisis. And you go, well, if he was ill suited to this, he shouldn't have been doing the fucking job. I'm sorry it's just, there is a chance that a crisis could happen while you're Prime minister and if that's not your bag, don't apply for the goddamn job.
Annie [00:38:11] Nish, before I let you go, what would you like to see change in 2024? *Both laugh* I'm sorry, I'm sorry, if you want, because it's so vast, you could just talk about something personal instead of like, the entire world not being fucked up.
Nish [00:38:28] Well I think like, I think definitely like an end to the hostilities in the Middle East and in Europe, I think that would be, that would be a change that I would love to see. I think we desperately, again, just speaking selfishly from a, as a British person, we desperately need a change of government because this current government is not functional. It's at the end of its lifespan and at the moment it's kind of, it's only really making decisions about short term self-preservation and the country is facing a variety of problems. I think in terms of my own personal changes, maybe I'll take up weights this year, Annie!
Annie [00:39:09] Yes.
Nish [00:39:09] I need to do, I need to do more exercise. I need to do, I need to look after my physical and mental wellbeing better.
Annie [00:39:17] They're great for your head as well appar- they're good for your brain.
Nish [00:39:20] Yeah. So maybe this is the year that I become incredibly hench.
Annie [00:39:23] I'm ready. I'm ready. I want you to send me, like, like full like hench action man shot, this time next year. Nish, thank you so much for today. I really appreciate it, thank you. And happy Christmas!
Nish [00:39:36] Happy Christmas Annie, thank you for having me. It's lovely to speak to you.
Annie [00:39:45] Thank you so much to Nish Kumar. You can listen to his podcast, Pod Save the UK with the journalist Coco Khan wherever you get your podcasts. It's such a great podcast, really accessible, really funny. A light-hearted, but still really, really informative look at the kind of week in politics. So yeah, go check that out. And that is it, lads. That is it for Changes in 2023. We started the year with Jennette McCurdy who released her memoir I'm Glad My Mum Died, last christmas, and we have had a huge variety of guests since. Hugely talked about episode with Kae Tempest. We had Louis Theroux on. We had Idris Elba. Dolly Alderton came on to talk about heartbreak. We've looked at changing our perspective on success with Emma Gannon. Sexism with Laura Bates and being in care with a young woman called Casey Armstrong. Leah Williamson joined us to talk about football and her setbacks in her career. Fearne Cotton and Jayde Adams shared their changes, and we even heard the stories of Amanda Knox and whistleblower Chelsea Manning as well. So many amazing episodes to mention, do go back and listen if you missed any of those or any of the others. And please do if you haven't yet, subscribe to Changes. I cannot thank you enough for giving us your time this year. It means the world and I really hope that Changes has proven a kind of comfort and a space to learn and to be inspired and to just really think about your existence in the world and how to optimise it in a way that is the most meaningful it can be. So thank you. And we will be back in January looking at joy. We wanted to try and dedicate a whole month of Changes episodes to how to, how to find joy, how to access joy, how to maintain that feeling of joy in our lives. So can't wait to bring you an amazing series of episodes around that next year. In the meantime, happy bloody Christmas! Hope you have a really good holiday season. I will see you in the new year 2024. Let's do this.