We sat down with Joe Jacobs in Mortimer House to discuss his relationship with advertising, why you should never meet your heroes and how he generally just gets through the day.
“Do something or do nothing.”
First of all, who inspires you?
I’m very inspired by artists that can make secrecy and elusiveness their brand. Stay in the shadows and drop a mysterious piece of media that sends people insane with speculation. Sadly, I’m not there yet. So I will keep churning out content clips until the end of time most likely.
How did you get your first job as a creative?
Well, I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to work in television. But I soon discovered that what people actually want from television drones like me — are just people with a set of hands.
While I did possess those, I was totally disorganised, miserable and once gave Kevin McCloud the wrong type of sandwich — it was all downhill from there.
So while between jobs a good friend of mine who is a creative asked me to come to his agency and see if there was anything I could do. I knocked about the building for a while and then snagged a job there. It was very fortunate and saved me from a lifestyle of bringing sandwiches to Kevin McCloud.
Being a creative was a revelation. These people would just talk rubbish all day and conceptualise ideas — basically not real work, which was perfect for me.
Who would you like to work with?
First of all — you should never meet your heroes. I've met a few and they've all been disappointing because they didn't give me a job on the spot or immediately validate me.
So in that case I think it’s probably better to meet some of my enemies, make friends with them, and work together. So I'd say Kanye West, the old billionaire antisemite. Kanye, I know you’re a REDSOFA head, so if you’re watching this let's have a chat — I want you to help me with my sandal startup.
Do I have a mantra for life?
My mantra is “Am I going to do or am I going to be?”. Because if you’re going to be you're probably going to be disappointed but if you're going to do, you can just crack on with what needs to be done.
Well, once I voiced an animated mango for Rubicon. That was a good day. I got paid for that — advertising money well spent. I also did a rap for Durex once where I was pretending to prematurely ejaculate during the rap itself. Solid idea I thought but the client passed.
The alternative answer is just getting through the day without being fired. That can be a career high and a career low. I have been fired a few times.
Are there any methods to doing great work?
A lot of reading. Anything not involving a screen. So walking — walking around is good. Eating nice food is generally good. Basically, a life of hedonism can make you do good work. Do what makes you happy and be inspired.
Big shoutout to my therapist Keith.
Who is your dream client?
My dream client at this point would be something that could help with my credibility, because usually when I get approached to do work it’s by brands like Gaviscon or something. Not to hate on Gaviscon, huge fan, but they’re not exactly a fashion house.
What or who inspired you to start comedy?
What inspired me to start comedy is sheer desperation and fear that I'd be trapped in a corporate hellhole for the rest of my life. Luckily, I have since made peace with that.
But also it’s a passion project that lasts forever — comedy never ends and there's no finish line, no boundaries, no goalposts — the only competition is you and the countless other comics reaching the upper echelons of success and financial reward.
How do you get over the creative block?
Well, there are two answers to that. The first one is going through the same routine and waiting for the muse to strike you again.
The other thing I'd recommend is just taking a step away from what you’re doing and doing something completely different for as long as it takes until the idea comes through. Neither of these solutions are good advice if you're on a tight deadline, but generally, they work for me anyway.
To summarise, do something or do nothing.
Creatively, how important is it for you to have your side project as well as your day job?
It's very important for me to have side projects and other things on the go. You have to be doing a lot of plate spinning in 2023 — you’ve got to be an influencer, a tastemaker, a chef and a content provider all at once — because you never know what will work.
I tend to have other revenue streams just so that I am not broke. This also allows me to focus on passion products with less urgency.
And finally: how important is it to keep your ego in check?
Massively. One of my favourite books is Ego Is The Enemy. Because ego really is the killer of all a creative person wants to provide to the world.
It's very important to keep your ego in check — highly important — probably even the most important thing because it can strike at any moment and convince you to change tact or quit altogether.
That’s why I kind of liked the lockdown period because you got to be alone with your thoughts. It's like the world froze and you were able to reprogram your mind a bit.
Then when everyone started doing things again, that's when the old ego came back. So he's doing this, he's doing that. But what am I doing? I'm doing nothing. I'm watching a man eating wartime military rations on youtube. Great channel.