Richard Wiseman at The Big Libel Gig

“You know, you go out nowadays, you say something about someone, suddenly there’s a writ. Where if we can reform it, if we can get more libel out there, more slander, then it’s just going to be a lot more fun.”

Previously: Tim Minchin Video and part one of two audio podcasts featuring Simon Singh, Ariane Sherine, Tim Minchin, Tracey Brown, and Richard Wiseman.

Full transcript of the video after the jump!

Thanks to Jeff for the transcript (and to Tracy for edits!):

>> Rebecca: Ok. So we’re joined now by Richard Wiseman. Hello, Richard.

>> Richard: [quietly] Hello.

>> Rebecca: How are you tonight?

>> Richard: I’ve got a very sore throat actually. A really sore throat.

>> Rebecca: That’s a lie, actually.

>> Richard: Yes, it’s a lie. Yes, I’m fine. I’m very well, actually. Yeah, I’ve been on a very long bus ride to get here. It was a four and a half hour bus ride. But it’s worth it, it’s worth it. Yeah.

>> Rebecca: Well, why don’t you tell us why we’re here?

>> Richard: Um, why are we here?

>> Rebecca: Why.

>> Richard: Well-

>> Rebecca: Not philosophically speaking.

>> Richard: I was going to say that, that’s a, That’s a long-

>> Neil: On the wider, yeah. Not why are we here, why are we alive, or why are we sat in this room.

>> Rebecca: We know that usually, you know, you don’t deal with those sort of questions, you’re more about you know…

>> Neil: I mean the mid-range, why are we here in this theater tonight.

>> Rebecca: More like why do we laugh at monkeys on roller skates as opposed to why are we here.

>> Richard: In what-

>> Neil: -talk about that one next then.

>> Richard: In what sense is this an interview? In what sense is this an interview, versus you two just saying things at me, and then holding the microphones in a way that I can’t actually respond?

>> Rebecca: I’m sorry, [laughing] did you have something you wanted to say?

>> Richard: I do actually deal with the big philosophical- it’s not a bunch of monkeys on roller skates, I’m quite offended by that actually. I deal with a lot of the bigger philosophical issues-

>> Rebecca: Such as?

>> Richard: For instance: skateboards. They go on skateboards as well as roller skates. Why? You know, that’s a question that a lot of us are posing. In the whole-

Anyway. So why are we here? We’re here to in part support Simon, who’s a very good friend of mine. We go back a long way. And he’s got himself into a little bit of a tricky situation, because he criticized some people. They claimed that they could do something, and he said that they couldn’t do it, when they claimed that they could. And so he’s in a tricky situation.

And we’re here to support him, financially. But not me personally, financially. I made that quite clear, if anyone’s listening to this (particularly Simon). He’s not getting a penny. He writes me – it’s a a bit sad, actually. Every week, a different begging letter. I know it’s him, I know it’s him. He signs them off differently, but I know it’s him.

>> Rebecca: No idea what to say to that.

>> Richard: It’s sad. Sad that it’s come down to that.

>> Rebecca: You skipped to the end, when we were going to ask you to libel someone.


>> Richard: I haven’t even started on that. How long have I got?

So now we’re here, and lots of people have turned up. Apparently there’s twenty in the stalls, and there’s another ten in the balcony. So that’s thirty people already. And they’re here to have a good evening. We’re going to be laughing. We’re going to be thinking a little bit. We’ve got some proper philosophical thinkers on, not just myself. I’ve got a couple of videos of monkeys on roller skates, and that’s pretty much the evening.

>> Rebecca: And to get back to the why we’re here part, it is about more than just Simon, I think. It’s also, it’s also the larger issue of libel reform.

>> It’s about me as well? [laughing] Tell me it’s not about me! This isn’t for my benefit, is it? I haven’t done anything.

>> Rebecca: Actually it’s a, Richard, this an intervention. We’re all concerned about you.

>> Richard: Very kind.

>> Neil: You didn’t notice that these weren’t actually on?

>> Richard: Uh, no, no no no. The whole thing’s a role-playing thing, that’s very very kind, thank you. Yeah.

>> Rebecca: Tell us how you feel about libel reform, in a more general context.

>> Richard: I think it should be reformed, because there’s not enough of it. That’s what I think. You know, you go out nowadays, you say something about someone, suddenly there’s a writ. Where if we can reform it, if we can get more libel out there, more slander, then it’s just going to be a lot more fun.

>> Rebecca: Well, why don’t you get us started then?

>> Richard: Um, well that’s what I’ll be doing this evening. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for everyone, but I’m doing 15 minutes. I’m going around each member of the audience, individually, and just libeling each one. So um…

>> Rebecca: And with only 30 people in the audience, you’ve got a good 30 seconds to spend.

>> It’s not all A material, but there’s something there. Actually, I tell you what I will say: the other performers, they’re all shit, Ok? Except for me. That’s libel number one. Although actually I don’t know whether, truth, is that defense against libel? I’m a bit confused about that one.

>> Rebecca: It is, apparently.

>> I’m easy on that one, I’m scot-free. So that’s fine. And it’s in the public interest, I believe. I don’t know if that’s a defense. I don’t think it is actually, with libel in this country.

>> Rebecca: Well, that part has to be true, actually. It has to actually be in the public interest.

>> Richard: It is in the public interest to say all these people are shit. That’s…

>> Neil: You don’t want people going and paying to go and see that.

>> Richard: Precisely.

>> Richard: Precisely. And also there’s several authors. There’s Ben, there’s Brian, and of course Simon. I’m not saying all of their books are written by me. Ok? I’m not saying I wrote every single word of “Bad Science”, Ok? And Fermat’s last theorem. I’m not saying that. Because libel laws prevent me from saying it. And that’s why we need more libel.

I am, I am taken, I am air-brushed out of history. And I want to be on the cover of those books, I want to be named, I want to be on the Amazon, and more importantly, I actually want some of the royalties.

>> Rebecca: You don’t think that air-brushing has anything to do with your looks? [laughing]

>> You see, if it bends it’s funny, if it breaks it isn’t. Rebecca, it just broke.

>> Rebecca: Do you need a hug?

>> Richard: Fuck you.

>> Rebecca: Thank you, Richard.

>> Neil: Richard, thank you for speaking to us.

>> Richard: Fuck the lot of you.

>> Rebecca: [laughing]

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. Out of sheer curiosity, how many eyeglasses do you own Rebecca? I’ve been shopping for new frames for a while now so I always notice yours on your videos and I’ve counted 3 different frames so far. I love your taste in frames by the way! :D

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