It’s Armando Iannucci’s 50th birthday today, so we’ve dug through the archives for this interview we did with him a few years ago. Armando Iannucci is amazing. The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge, The Thick Of It and Veep wouldn’t exist without him, and he’s one of the only Oscar nominees we’ve ever had in the mag (he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for In The Loop, the film version of The Thick Of It, but he lost out to the film Precious, which was shite). Plus he made The Armando Iannucci Shows, which was/were (we’re not sure of the grammar of that, it was a single series with a plural name) fucking spectacular. Since this piece, we’ve changed the twenty questions we ask people, so shit’s different now, innit. Also, he told us the full joke that precedes his answer to question 20, and it’s fucking brilliant. Happy birthday, Armando.
1. Who’s your favourite Star Wars character?
The stormtrooper who bangs his head. I was sorry that in the prequels, they didn’t build a story arc explaining why he banged his head. You could have seen him as a child being a bit clumsy. God, the prequels were shit.
2. When did you last throw up?
It was one of the first dates I had with my now-wife when we were students. For some reason we got riotously drunk and both threw up in the same bath. The only way for it not to get out was for us to marry each other.
3. If you could throw one person off TV into a pen of lions, who would it be?
[Now-out-of-date answer removed because it shows how long ago we did this interview.] He’s terribly proud of his hair. I’m particularly resentful of anyone who has any hair, so I’d like to see something physically horrible happen to him, especially his upper half.
4. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
The ability to stop people standing up when the plane has pulled in and the seatbelt sign has switched off but there’s ten minutes before the doors open. It’s a limited superpower, but some superheroes have excessively grand ambitions.
5. Would you rather have no legs or no arms?
No legs. Without any legs you look a hero, without any arms you look an idiot.
6. What makes an awesome night out properly awesome?
Any time someone tells you something that is the funniest thing you’ve ever heard.
7. What’s the first album you ever bought?
I think it was Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield, from a record shop in Glasgow called Listen. It’s all in the garage now.
8. What will your funeral be like?
I believe I will not die.
9. Who’s the biggest arsehole famous person you’ve ever met?
I found David Dickinson to match up to every preconception that I had of him. I was shooting an advert for Tetley Tea with him and Kim Cattrall. Kim Cattrall was very nice and professional and funny, and he was a bit of an idiot. His shirt had DD on the cufflinks.
10. Have you got any phobias?
No, although I find that Justin Lee Collins, that farmer guy, makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t quite understand him. [Hey, history proved him correct, didn’t it?]
11. Without looking, how many Twitter followers have you got?
I think I’ve got about 40,000 followers on Twitter. [He’s up to 370,000 now.] I started when someone else was tweeting as me – I got in touch and asked them to stop, and he said “OK, you take over”. The thing is, my Twitter name is @AIannucci so people think it’s Alan Nucci.
12. This is a bad question, but what’s the most you’ve ever needed the toilet?
That’s not the worst question in the world. A worse question would be “And why do you follow Christ?” It was probably shortly before vomiting into a bath.
13. What’s the worst idea you’ve ever had?
Saying yes to working with David Dickinson.
14. What’s your alcoholic drink of choice?
I’m fond of 16-year-old Laphroaig single malt whisky. Since I was 18 I’ve not been able to touch cider or Southern Comfort.
15. What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said to a girl you liked?
A girl once said to me “What are you doing later?” and I said “I’m having tea with you”, which sounds really smarmy but worked out really well.
16. What’s the most illegal thing you have ever done?
I broke into a ball in some posh country manor that the whole Royal Family were at. Me and my friend ducked under security and stood behind Prince Edward for a long time. We were eventually very firmly thrown through the French doors.
17. What have you seen that you really wish you could un-see?
The film Heaven’s Gate. I’d read people saying it was an unacknowledged masterpiece, but it’s the biggest bowl of tripe I’ve ever seen.
18. What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
I dislocated a knee whilst about to interview a porn director. I came out of the lift and went “Hello, how do you ARGH!” and just screamed. They were giving me gas and air in the ambulance, and I was fighting to stay conscious because I had pornographic videos and magazines in my bag, and thought they might look in there.
19. Why should people watch everything you’re involved with?
Because they might laugh at something.
20. What’s the punch line to your favourite ever joke?
“Why don’t you just fuck off?”