Matt Lucas, co-creator of the infamous "Little Britain" sketch show and scene-stealer of such films as "Bridesmaids" and "Alice in Wonderland," is feeling a bit awkward at the moment. "I don't do a lot of newspaper interviews. I'm just, you know, private," he admits. "I think it's good to do an interview when you've got something out, but there's no point in doing an interview just for the sake of it. You'll just bore the pants off people, won't you?" Luckily, he does have something out: "Pompidou," his new BBC/Netflix series, in which he plays Pompidou P. Pompidou, a bumbling, down-on-his-luck aristocrat — and none of it is in any discernable language.
How many people have suggested conducting interviews in "Pompidou"-speak?
(laughs) Can you imagine? I do speak as fluently in that language as I do in this. No, I'm joking. It's like speaking in tongues for atheists. I just wanted to do something different, and I wanted to do something that could be enjoyed in different countries without the barrier of a load of subtitles or dubbing. And I wanted to do something for the family — something a little less spiky, something that kids could watch. Some of my favorite things I've received recently are, like, 2-year-olds doing Pompidou voices on Twitter and sending them to me. It's quite weird.
Are the parents pleased, or are they miffed about you messing up their kids' language development?
I think there's a mixture, there's a mixture. But before I'd felt a bit guilty that we'd taught the kids rude words from our shows.
That motivation to play more to younger audiences seems to happen a lot with comics as they get older.
I think you change as a person. You become less sociopathic as you leave your 30s, and you usually become a bit warmer, I think, and a bit more empathetic. Stuff that David Walliams and I used to do 15 or 20 years ago — we would spoof pop stars, and sometimes it was quite cruel. I look back on it and I don't see the person I am now in it at all. There's a cruelty to it, and I don't feel that way anymore. I don't have that anger or that bite in the same way. So although the show is less risque, I actually think it's more risky. It's a big proposition to leave all your characters behind that people know you for and the style of comedy and then just do something in gibberish. Some people in Britain were baffled by it.
When you're in the U.S., what do you find yourself getting recognized for the most?
Last night a woman at a table at the restaurant next to me came up and said, "I'm a massive fan of yours. I absolutely love your work." And I said, "Oh, thank you very much." She said, "Your scene in the movie was brilliant." And I said, "What movie?" And she said, "'Bridesmaids!'" And she looked at me like how come I didn't know that that's what she meant? That's what I get recognized for here.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick