AUDIENCE LAUGHTER It was in the mid ’90s…. LAUGHTER And now, the funny story begins .. For three weeks I was listed as a missing person by Interpol. Wow. When did this happen? In the mid ’90s. Where were you? Had you actually disappeared? I was in Morocco. What were you doing there? I was on a bike ride in Spain. You were on a bike ride in Spain in Morocco? Can I have a moment to chat with my client? What happened was I met someone in Spain on a train, a Moroccan man. So, hang on. Was this bike ride in Spain happening on the train? Was it? Cos I know that you get those Spanish bike rides on trains in Morocco, it’s probably one of those. No, there was bad weather, and that’s why I took the train from the north of Spain to the south of Spain because apparently, according to the local newspaper, there was better, more agreeable bicycling weather. How did you then get into Morocco, though? That is because I met that Moroccan bloke on the train… Which Moroccan bloke? Yeah, does he have a name? Uh, I can’t quite remember, but it was Mohammed or something. Mohammed the Moroccan, you met on the train in Spain. He asked me if I wanted to join him to go to Morocco and then I thought, “Well, I’ve never been outside Europe.” In for a penny, in for a pound, so… So you were picked up by a strange Moroccan on a train, and agreed to go back to Morocco with him? What’s the worst that can happen? How did you find out that you were on the Interpol list? I realised only once I rang my parents once I was back in Spain, and I rang my parents, and for them it was like someone phoned them from beyond the grave. So why didn’t you ring your parents from Morocco? Because that man, that Mohammed… – You remember Mohammed, don’t you?
– Yeah, yeah. – He was the man on the train.
– The Moroccan on the train. – The Moroccan on the train who invited him back to his house.
– Yeah. So by then I was staying there with Mustapha and his family… LAUGHTER From what port did you leave Spain and into which port did you enter Morocco? Good question. Well, we left Spain, if I remember correctly, from Algeciras, and went over to Ceuta, which is one of the two Spanish enclaves in the north of Morocco. Good answer. I think you’ve just clutched victory from the jaws of defeat. How was it then resolved? How did you end up getting off of the list? Well, hang on a minute, we’re jumping ahead here, what the hell did you do in Morocco? Yeah, he’s allowed to do that, isn’t he? What were you doing? – I was travelling without… No, Mohammed.
– Mohammed. My client is getting mixed up cos at passport control they said, “You Mustafa passport.” He’s getting a bit mixed up with the names. I’m curious as to the fact that Interpol has a missing persons list. Yeah, no what happened is my parents got involved, and they got Interpol involved. Right. I sent a few postcards, one of them to my friend Mark and on that postcard I wrote, “I have joined the Foreign Legion.” “Probably see you never again, have a good life,” or something, and then, Mark, being a quite clever boy, thought, “OK, with this postcard I can have a lot of fun,” I go round Henning’s parents and say them something along the lines of, “Herr Wehn, Frau Wehn, you might be interested in this.” – Sorry, so, your friend Mark…
– Yes. ..used this postcard to mentally torture your parents. “I’ll make his parents think he’s disappeared forever, for a laugh.” Well, it’s German sense of humour. LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE And what do we know about this Moroccan chap who we’re calling Mohammed? He hadn’t been home for many, many years, and so we couldn’t take the boat straight to Morocco, we had to go to one of the Spanish enclaves, because he had to collect a suitcase full of books from a cafe in Ceuta. Full of what? Why did he have a suitcase full of books? Because someone left them there for him. But why books, in a suitcase? Well, that is, it was back in the mid ’90s, people were still reading. – So he went to a cafe in the Spanish enclave of Morocco…
– Yes. ..to collect a suitcase which he told you was full of books. Well, I suppose a friend of his left them there. Yes, but why? I mean, you know what it sometimes is like, isn’t it? Like… Well, I can’t quite think of an example… But if he could, it would be like that. This Interpol list that you were on, can you just elaborate on how your parents got you onto it? Well, they rang the consulate and they rang all sorts of… Which consulate? The German one. Which German consulate? Well, the one in Morocco. They didn’t ring the police, they rang the German consulate in Morocco? Well, that’s how you would go about it, wouldn’t you? It’s no good ringing your local bobby. And what happens then with the list? Do you just… They have to tell Interpol, “Stop looking for Henning, we’ve found him”? – Yes, I suppose so, yeah.
– Well, did they? For all we know, they’re still looking for you now. I’m safe. So what do you think, David? Does any of that have the ring of truth, or has he made all that up? What do you think, Kirsty? I think it’s so odd… ..and inconsistent and unlikely that it must be true. Yeah, that’s what I’m leaning towards, as well. Yeah, I think, I think that, as well. I think it’s true. Henning, was that the truth or were you telling a lie? Well, this story is true. For three weeks, I carted an empty box around without realising that what I’d bought wasn’t actually in it. – David’s team.
– Right. What was it? What did you imagine it was? What it was… It was a… No, don’t let me lie… It was… LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE There was… In there was a plastic Christmas tree. – That’s what you thought was in there?
– Absolutely. For three weeks? That’s something you open quite quickly after buying it, a Christmas tree. No, it’s about the suspense, isn’t it? Christmas is all about suspense and… I don’t think it’s all about suspense. Because, in general, when you buy a box that you think contains an artificial Christmas tree, you just assume that it does. You don’t go, “I wonder if it’s really in there?” If you’re seriously wondering if it’s really in there, you’d check before you left the shop, wouldn’t you? Yeah, maybe I’ve chosen my words not very wisely. Some of it got lost in translation. Where did you buy it, by the way? Er…at Argos. As you left the shop, did it not occur to you that it was quite light, this box? Yes, but… Now it gets interesting. No, because, I… Shortly before that, I’d started doing yoga. To increase my… To improve my core strength. So I didn’t think anything of it. I thought, “I’m in such good physical shape…” “..I can lift this box without it straining me.” The queues at Argos are huge. How long were you in the queue for? For ages. So it was a few weeks later that you opened it, ready for Christmas. Nothing was in there. What happened next? Well, I kept the box, didn’t I? So you went on to have this Christmas without a Christmas tree in your flat? I actually, believe it or not, – I did use the box instead of the Christmas tree.
– As a tree? – Because…
– As a Christmas tree? Yeah, because there was pictures of a Christmas tree. The saddest Christmas ever. APPLAUSE – I have one further question.
– Yes? Why were you carrying this box around with you for three weeks? When I say… I didn’t take it to social occasions. I didn’t say to the box, “Do we want to go down the park?” Then the box, “What, end of November? Far too cold.” So… I did not ask you whether or not you socialised with the box. When I went… I tell you what. I took the box into town with me on one occasion. I went all the way into Leicester Square with the box. Why, on the occasion that you were going into Leicester Square, did you take it with you? That is a very good question, David. And I shall give you the answer. Because the box and I… ..were going to do a comedy show. On how many journeys did you take this Christmas tree other than the one from Argos to your flat and the one from your flat to the comedy show in Leicester Square? Can we just keep it a bit lighter? He’s not up for a war crime. Not on this occasion, anyway. Just slightly lighten things up a bit. – David, what do you think?
– What do you think, Shaun? I’m sort of having it a little bit, cos anything you buy from Argos, even if it’s a big wardrobe, it doesn’t weigh anything, when you walk out with the box. – Are you an Argos man, Shaun?
– I used to be. – Really?
– Big-time, yeah. What stopped you? Er, fame. APPLAUSE Tom? I think he’s… I mean, it’s a ridiculous story, but I mean, he’s a canny, canny fella. – So shall we go for true?
– True? – We’re going to say true.
– All right. Henning? Truth or lie? This story is… true. APPLAUSE This is Nicola and she taught me how to talk to crows. This is Nicola. I once chased her for 40 miles down the M3 because I thought she’d stolen my phone. This is Nicola, and I told my parents to sack her as my baby-sitter because she failed to read my bedtime stories with enough emotion. What was wrong with the bedtime story? I didn’t enjoy the way she read the bedside story to me. What sort of stories? Give us an example. She was reading Hansel And Gretel to me, and then the witch ends up in the oven. And she read that in a very compassionate way. – Towards the witch?
– Yeah. And the good thing at that point is all about the witch got what she had coming, and that’s how I liked the story read to me. LAUGHTER You didn’t like any complexity in the character… No, I like the complexity but I don’t like the compassion towards the witch because she’s a witch. LAUGHTER OK, so Hansel and Gretel shove the witch in the oven, slam the door, turn it up to… gas mark six. No, no, always, always preheat the oven before cooking in it. LAUGHTER – Let’s assume it’s preheated.
– OK. Slam the door, turn it up, and then walk out into the forest. – Mm.
– How did she mis-deliver that line? Well, it was in German so it was like… Is she German? – Nicola? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– Ah. – You mean, ja, ja, ja.
– Yeah. LAUGHTER Nicola’s a classic German name, innit? Nicola. Nicola Schmidt. LAUGHTER So she was… What, she was just, she was what, weeping for the witch or what? LEE LAUGHS What’s… LAUGHTER I don’t want to have to say this now but I just didn’t overly like her. LAUGHTER That’s obviously not how I told it to my parents, innit? I said to my parents, I said, “Yeah, she didn’t put any butter on the bread and all that business, “and didn’t give me anything to drink,” so I mean, ah… LAUGHTER I stuck her in the oven. LAUGHTER I think it’s probably Henning. I think Henning’s the sort of… could have been the sort of vicious little child… LAUGHTER ..who would have a baby-sitter summarily dismissed for no good reason at all. Which way are you going, Alex? Do you know what, I’m going to stick my neck on the line. – I think Lee.
– Am I even getting a look-in?
– You think it’s Lee?
– Yeah. Doon? Er…I initially thought it was Lee. Completely from the very beginning when I heard the three things, I went, “It’s definitely Lee.” I’m not going to overrule. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Henning. – We’ll go for Lee, we think it’s Lee.
– You’re saying it’s Lee, with a little suspicion that it’s Henning. OK. Nicola, would you please reveal your true identity? My name is Nicola, and I taught Ben how to talk to crows! LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE This is Bill. I once bought an Irish accent mouth spray from him cos I genuinely believed it would give me an Irish accent. Clara, how do you know Bill? So this is Bill and when my chair broke, he let me sit on his back so I could interview Nicki Minaj. All right. Finally, Lee, what’s your relationship with Bill? This is Bill. I had to leave my life drawing class when he walked in, disrobed, and I realised he was the man that sold me my sausages. So there we have it. Is Bill Clara’s spare chair, Henning’s spray seller, or Lee’s model mate? David’s team, where would you like to begin? Henning. So explain the thing about this spray. Bill has actually got a shop and I walked past his shop. And I saw Irish accent spray. And I hadn’t written a decent joke in a long time. And thought, “Well, “let’s get that spray.” – So when you say you saw Irish accent spray, what do you mean?
– Like… Well, it’s like a helium balloon. It’s a balloon. No, no, it’s a spray, but it changes your accent. Instead of making your voice more high-pitched, it makes it more Irish-accented? Yeah. Although mixed with the accent you’ve already got, God knows what that could do. And what shop sells this? What shop? Like one of them that you’ve got round Camden. – Bill’s got a shop in Camden.
– Yeah! And his best product is a spray that makes you sound Irish. Well, I didn’t buy all his products, so I can’t rank them in a… Let’s get the genre of shop clear. It’s a sort of joke shop, is it? Hey, call it as derogatively as you want. By “joke shop”, I don’t mean a risible shop, I mean a shop that sells joke items like whoopee cushions… Yeah, exactly. Fake blood and…that sort of shop. And when did this happen? The best part of ten years ago, say. Was there a reason you needed to sound Irish? No, it was just I thought… “That’s another string to my bow.” How did you imagine it being used in your stand-up? Maybe if I tell a joke where Irishmen go to the pub. Do you know a joke where Irishmen go to the pub that you could tell in your current accent, but you could mime the point at which you would spray your…? It would, like, go, “There is an English fella going into the pub “and says, ‘Oh, jolly good morning, my good fellow.'” – And then…
– He didn’t even have any spray for that! Brilliant! See? You don’t need a spray, you can do it! “And then an Irishman goes in a pub,” and then I spray. And then I go… – IN AN ACCENT:
– “Top of the morning.” LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE David’s team, is Bill Clara’s spare chair, Henning’s spray seller or Lee’s model mate? I think we need to ask, are you absolutely sure that one of them is true? Yes. I think, in the radio situation, they probably could find a chair or standing. There’s a better solution than, for six minutes, sitting on a human being. – What about Lee?
– Well, it’s just not true. See, I’ve got to say that he’s literally not moved his… He’s shown no emotion. Now, if I’m going to draw a man naked, I want to draw Bill. – What do you think, Shaun?
– I’ve just got to go for Bill being sat on. You think Clara? I’m changing my mind now because he’s German, so he could possibly believe about a spray… You just noticed now that Henning is German? It’s just sunk in, yeah! So you think Henning now? – No, I’ll stick with Clara.
– Stick with Clara. – And you’re…
– I’m going with Lee, yeah. You see, I think it’s Henning. – You think it’s Henning?
– Yeah, we’re going to go Henning. OK – Bill, would you please reveal your true identity? My name is Bill and Henning bought an Irish breath spray… CHEERING AND APPLAUSE – That’s what you bought, Henning, yeah?
– Yeah. And you genuinely thought it would have an effect on your accent? Of some description. Lee, let me give it to you. It didn’t work on Henning, but it might work on you. – WELSH ACCENT:
– I don’t think you gave me the right one. I was once arrested by border guards for illegally entering another country. LAUGHTER David’s team, what do you think? Which, which country? LAUGHTER It was in the mid ’90s. That’s not a country. LAUGHTER And it was in Eastern Europe, so they changed names very quickly. So I’m not sure, it was either Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia, I don’t know which. – You don’t know what stage of its…
– Yeah, exactly. ..dissolution it was at. Yeah. And what was the problem? – I didn’t have my passport.
– Right. Where had you left your passport? At home. LAUGHTER Who were you with, by the way? Were you on your own or…? No, I was with a friend from back home. Pit. A friend from the pit? No, with a person called Pit. Is that his real name, or is that a nickname? – Pete.
– Oh, Pete?
– No P… P-I-T. – Oh, Pit.
– He’s called, he’s called Pit. Like, like Brad Pitt, but Pit as his first name. – Otherwise I would say Pete. LAUGHTER APPLAUSE We were travelling on something that was called Schnes-Wochenende-Ticket and… That’s German for National Express. LAUGHTER No, it is German for “You can use any train you like…as long as it’s a slow train.” LAUGHTER We have that system with all of our trains. LAUGHTER APPLAUSE – OK, so you get off the train at the border.
– You do. – Is it at that moment that you realise you don’t have your passport?
– Yes. So we wanted to go into Czech…Czechoslovakia. So I didn’t have my passport, so the obvious thing to do is don’t go across where the border guards are… but go a mile off into the fields… LAUGHTER ..and cross there. If then someone wants to see your passport, you say, “Oh, I must have lost it.” LAUGHTER Roughly how far into Czechoslovakia, in whatever form it was, were you? I was about, give or take, a mile. I see in the distance, I see like two lights, two white lights, they’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I realised it’s a Jeep, and then they’re driving towards us. Oh, I’m quite gripped by this story. The Jeep then just stopped, and then there is four people jumping out with automatic rifles and dogs. Automatic dogs? LAUGHTER What sort of dogs were they? I didn’t ask for their names. Neither did Alex. LAUGHTER They were terrifying dogs, probably Alsatians or something. What happened, they’re all around you? So what did they say? They all jump out with their rifles, don’t they? And then saying, “Oh, ve, ve, ve, ve” of whatever their language is, so… LAUGHTER Yeah, and then we had to get in the Jeep and…and we were driving off into Czechoslovakia and then we ended up in some woods. One of them jumps out, opens a gate that I didn’t even see was there. Then there is some little wooden hut. And there was someone in there that spoke German. We got on well with that fella, and our excuse was, let me say, “We had no idea that we’d crossed the border.” So then they didn’t fully buy it, but they knew there was little point executing us. LAUGHTER What happens then? And now the funny story begins. LAUGHTER They said, “You’ll have to pay a penalty.” – Oh, the Germans and penalties. Not again.
– That penalty… LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE Never again, please. Then the Czechs drove us back to the German border, handed us over to the German border guards, and then they congratulated us on being the first illegal immigrants from Germany into Czechoslovakia. LAUGHTER APPLAUSE Well, there we are. David, what are you and your team thinking? It’s the travel card thing. LAUGHTER It’s just, it just seems right. I think, on an emotional level, having spent so long hearing that story… LAUGHTER ..we need it to be true, we need something. We need it to be true because a lot of our life went into that. – So you’re going to say true.
– On that emotional level, I think we have to say true. You’re saying it’s true. Henning, truth or lie? Well, that story is actually… true. APPLAUSE Henning sings ♪ Im Frühtau zu Berge ♪ ♪ Im Frühtau zu Berge wir ziehn, Falera ♪ ♪ Es grünen die Wälder und Höh’n,
Falera ♪ ♪ Wir wandern ohne Sorgen ♪ ♪ Singend in den Morgen ♪ ♪ Noch ehe im Tale die Hähne krähen. ♪ Yipeeeeee! WILTY? NOPE!