My Tools

MY TOOLS WITH DOC BROWN

Late last week we had the pleasure of catching up with Ben Bailey Smith, otherwise known as ‘Doc Brown’.  We asked the comedian, rapper and actor a few questions, here is what he had to say…

Where does the name Doc Brown come from?

From school really, it’s like a nickname that kinda stuck.  It wasn’t a good thing, it was derogatory!  I was always a bit of a geek and a nerd so it was one of this things that was bestowed upon me, it was a direct reference to back to the future…and yeah, basically just a cuss.  So when I started rapping and battling other guys it seemed to be the right choice to turn something dergatory on its head and use it ‘kill’ other people, which in theory was quite a good idea!

And know its with you all the time?

Yeah, it’s quite annoying! Cos you know, it’s like getting a tattoo at 15 and you don’t expect it to define your adult life.  I’ve grown up with two names and have just embraced it!

Where did it all start for you Ben?

Er…I suppose it depends on what stage of the career you are thinking of.  I guess as I went into comedy as a natural progression cos rapping is a bit like football and suited the youth and testosterone, and so getting older you are still an entertainer but you naturally look at different mediums.  You are already a writer and performer and an actor in someways, but you just don’t really think in those terms until you get older – stand up and acting is all a sort of natural progression.  I hate seeing 50 year old rappers (Ben laughs), I got no interest in what they have to say!  Diversify!  Look at Eminem’s new stuff…it’s just not the same.

I guess when you get to a high level and have made the money as a rapper, what do you have left to say?  I mean…

Exactly, so there is different stories to tell and in a different way.  A way that suits what you look like and how you appear to people.  I think there was a different way to tell my story, I just judged that naturally.  It felt right to not jump around on stage screaming like a lunatic spitting lyrics into a microphone.

Have you got a favourite show or a notable piece of work that you are most proud of?

Well you have to sight ‘Equality Street‘ the song I did with Gervais (Ricky),  you have to see that as huge turning point because it immediately went viral with 4 million plus views and it was with the undisputed King of comedy, so you know…that was a moment, I had properly arrived with the mainstream.  Before that, the rap I did about tea for Russell Howard which was just a little thing that I had written on my own that also went viral.  Its a different type of fame YouTube I mean, the vast majority of time if get recognised it’s from YouTube which as somebody my age and someone that preceded YouTube is quite difficult to accept!  It doesn’t marry up in my brain, but it’s real and I think you have to go with it.  The other thing Youtube provides is ‘moments’, the same way that TV did for us in the 80’s – I think about Michael Jackson on stage doing the moonwalk for the first time and how crazy that was for people to witness, that was a huge moment in our cultural history and now YouTube provides that!  Of course, on loads of different levels, I’m not comparing myself to Michael Jackson.  We have these moments on YouTube that feel, I don’t know…Zeitgeisty and I think I’m luck to have been involved in a couple of those moments and they propel you.

You mentioned Ricky Gervais and from that, is there anyone you look to as a hero or someone you go to for inspiration?

Yeah, there’s loads.  Early on, there is an actor and writer called Kevin Elden that I spoke to for some advice and I used to watch him on ‘Alan Partridge’ and ‘The Day Today’ and stuff like that.  He has popped up in so many movies and I guess Chris Morris as well who is possibly the bravest writer I have ever come across, it’s mainly those sort of people.  Definitely comic actors or television writers more than stand up and then of course Ricky Gervais.  I’m lucky really to be able to be around those type of people.

So on a daily basis, is there there anything you use to carry out your work?  Your tools?

The iPhone notes are absolutely vital!  I mean, I used to always go around with a pencil just incase something came to me.  I would say it’s a combination of the iPhone notes and the iPhone voice notes, I’m definitely that guy that will just keep it running as I could be driving or walking and can’t really be typing so I’ll just say some shit and then work it out later.  Which I guess is funny sometimes cos I’ll play stuff back and why did I think that was going to be something, I don’t know what it means, what was I thinking!  But it’s crucial for every writer to capture that moment as you’ll constantly think…’i’ll remember that’… but you won’t, you just won’t!  And so yeah, I’m that guy that say’s ‘hold on a minute’ (he mumbles into a mock iPhone) and then I’m back in the conversation.  My friends think that I’m jut going to use everything they say to me but I never do that.  What I do take is the moment, I am fascinated with that moment when everybody cracks up. When you are with your mates and its the timing of whatever that person has said that I want, not what they said as that is personal to them but the way they said it and that split second where everybody cracked up at the same time.  Thats what I want to bottle.

|  BLA  |

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