Free Of All The World’s Heaviness: Karl Pilkington On Sound And Listening

by Thomas Brett

I recently watched a few episodes of the animated HBO series, The Ricky Gervais Show (based on the popular audio podcast of the same name), on which Gervais and fellow comedian and writer Stephen Merchant chat with their perfectly round-headed friend Karl Pilkington on any topic they feel like just to hear what Karl might say. The voices of all three are engaging, but it’s that regular bloke Karl who steals the show.

Karl has a simple yet startlingly original take on life. Gervais and Merchant ask him for his opinion on a variety of topics with the aim of making fun of him, yet Karl always manages to surprise and elicit delight both because and despite what he says and the monotone way in which he says it. Karl’s voice is small, tentative, and deadpan, but he is always strangely thoughtful.

Here are some Karl Pilkington quotes that pertain to sound and listening:

“Normally you can’t hear you’re own voice because you’re talking over it.”

“They say it all started out with a big bang. But, what I wonder is, was it a big bang or did it just seem big because there wasn’t anything else to drown it out at the time?”

“Every noise has been used at least 5 times, because there’s only so many noises in the world. It’s like a piano, and there’s only so many notes. There’s just so much stuff, the same noises are being used again.”

“Noise stresses me out. I wonder if less deaf people die of stress than people with working ears do.”

“I might talk to some people on the phone, but then I get bored with that… About 5 minutes in, I realise I’m not listening anymore.”

“I’ve tried earplugs to drown out background noise. I didn’t like it ‘cause I could hear my heartbeat.”

“All I’m saying is, bird noises are relaxing…but not for the worm.”

“If you just talk, I find that your mouth comes out with stuff.”

“I mean, the whole beauty of radio is that you can listen to it in the dark.”

“You don’t whistle when you’re fed up. Whistling’s a happy thing.”

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These videos are a little raunchy, but here’s a clip where Pilkington elaborates on his whistling practice:

And here is Pilkington on limits to the world’s noises:

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