How to grow old gracefully with Joe Lycett

The comedian talks self-help, pesto and magnesium salt baths...
How to grow old gracefully with Joe Lycett
April 10, 2017   |    Joe Lycett


People have said I have an old head on young shoulders. My stand-up is closer to someone’s auntie than a 28-year-old man. I am an elderly woman and have been since birth.


Pesto is a great way to grow old gracefully. I’ll explain. Perfect pesto is fresh basil, obviously,
a clove of garlic, pine nuts, some cheese, lemon and rapeseed oil. Whizz it all up and it’s one of the greats. Making pesto focuses the mind on something other than what you’re going to do about your impending death. You don’t think about that – just the pesto.


I’m a fan of philosopher Alan Watts. He says that self-help is impossible because you are presuming to know what an improved version of you is, but ultimately, you can’t improve yourself. You are just you. However, don’t despair. It’s a cause for celebration. When you arrive at realising that you can’t be any better, you just be. Paradoxically, that’s self-help, but he acknowledges that.


I love a bath. I do a lot of work in the bath. I put magnesium salt in it because it’s good for relaxing the muscles. And the new iPhone is waterproof, so you can drop it. I do all my emails and admin in the bath. Why do admin anywhere other than in a magnesium salt bath?


On the topic of happiness, my mum said we need to find meaningful occupation, i.e. be occupied with something meaningful. Mum is a brilliant gardener and opens hers each year to the National Gardening Society. She was so taken by that, it gave her a new perspective. So I’ve been making weird clay sculptures. I love it – it’s joyous and I’m learning loads.

“I’ve always felt like an old person, in some ways it means I like pretending I’m frail. If only I could get the parking space closest to the supermarket. But unfortunately for me, my legs work perfectly well. I’m absolutely livid.”


‘Growing old isn’t something you do at a certain point. Have goals, but maybe have loads
to tick off so you don’t feel sad about not doing them all. Or don’t. I don’t have goals. I just accidentally do things.’

That’s The Way A-Ha A-Ha Joe Lycett: Live; DVD out now. Join Joe’s mailing list at Joe Lycett Comedy


1. Act dreadfully (in a nice way)
A birthday is such an arbitrary thing, so I feel icky about having a birthday party. You’re assembling everyone to say: ‘Well done. You didn’t die.’ It feels crass. But I love other people’s birthdays, so I say enjoy everyone else’s because yours will not be as fun.

2. Have a chat
It’s like being on stage. Sometimes it clicks and you know what you’re doing, then other times you think: ‘Everyone hates me.’ But chatting makes you feel like you’ve connected.

3. Leave early
Never stay until the end. You’ve got a busy day of pesto-making and having a bath to look forward to. I always leave super-early. I want people to text me the next morning to say: ‘Where’d you go?’ But it never happens.

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