Marcia Newman, a PremRawat.com writer, recently interviewed and laughed with Tom Price – Comedian, BBC & Magic FM Radio Presenter, and Great Big Owl Podcaster. It was a 42-minute Zoom conversation. Here are some highlights.
PremRawat.com: Hello Tom, and thank you for your April 2020 podcast conversation with Prem. During that time, that was the height of our toilet paper shortage here in Los Angeles. That seems like a long time ago. In the podcast, you mentioned your two young sons were helping to keep you and your wife sane.
Tom Price: Yes, that podcast feels like it was 15 years ago. Last month, COVID-19 came ripping through North London again, very badly. With more lockdown, it’s like being on a long haul flight with your wife, kids, & dog, and we don’t know when we’re landing. More recently, we’ve slipped into a nice, safe family evening routine; we play football in the street, watch a little TV, eat together, and when the boys are in bed, my wife and I watch Star Trek. The sheer hours of accelerated time that we have had together are unbelievable. Honestly, I do think we will look back at this time with more gratitude.
PremRawat.com: You interviewed Prem starting in 2017 for the Nottingham, UK event and again in 2019 for the Manchester, UK event. What was that like for you?
Tom Price: When I was approached about the Nottingham event, I didn’t know who Prem was. I don’t know why they asked me, but thank goodness they did. I love to do interviewing. It’s what I do at my core. Even when I do stand-up comedy, I’m interacting with the audience. As an actor, I want to absorb things and interact with the people around me. And to be able to do that with someone like Prem, who has that much wisdom, wit, and content. This guy is like a magnificent fountain of stories and all these things. It was such a fantastic experience. I approached the Nottingham gig as another job. At the end of that day, I was very taken by it.
PremRawat.com: Tom, as I’ve listened and watched your interviews with Prem, I’ve noticed your gifts of curiosity, presence, and humor. It’s very “improv” and “in the moment.” I know you’ve discovered that Prem has a great sense of humor as well.
Tom Price: Yeah, and a dry sense of humor too. It looks like he’s laughing at the whole thing and himself too. With so much hostility and industrialized fear in the world, to share a stage with him is completely liberating. I come from a repressed Wales middle class background with so little emotions. With Prem, I felt I could ask the question I was thinking, even if I didn’t know where it was going. When you can trust yourself, trust your surroundings, trust the person you’re talking to, and have all the people in the room on board, that’s very rare.
PremRawat.com: In your podcast conversation, Prem offered this suggestion: entertain your heart, not just your mind. How are you doing with that? What are you doing these days to feed your heart?
Tom Price: Externally, I’m doing a few things. First, I switch off my phone. I’m getting away from social media and I’m looking up more (less looking down at the screens). Social media can feel so delicious at first, but it can become psychological cancer or what I call “cigarettes of the brain.” You don’t stop and think about the end result of every interaction that you start on social media. We dive in with this “inner puppy” who wants to experience love, joy, fun, or something interesting. But we’re looking in the wrong place. I don’t get a fulfilling or nourishing meal out of my attempts with social media.
Tom Price: Internally, I’m being a lot nicer to myself. I think it’s a big part of what Prem talks about. It’s also about recognizing our fallibility. If our intentions are good and simple, then the consequences are almost irrelevant as long as that starting point is one of peace and purity. The judgments that we all put ourselves through are insane.
Tom Price: Granted, we need to promote ourselves and put ourselves out there, but not at the expense of our inner happiness. I use to do the Edinburgh Festival for years, where thousands of other comics are all in the same city for four weeks. It was kind of wonderful and tortuous at the same time. You would have this hurricane of narcissists screaming at each other. It was such agony comparing and competing with others.
PremRawat.com: Yes, I call it the “compare and despair” syndrome.
Tom Price (laughing): Exactly. What was four weeks of comparisons, social media has now brought it into 365 days—7 days a week!
PremRawat.com: During the Nottingham event, Prem shared: the day you realize that peace is a need, not a want, your life will change. What do you think about that statement today?
Tom Price: I do need to make peace achievable in my daily life. It reminds me of another recent interview with Danish writer Meik Wiking who is also CEO of the Happiness Research Institute. In Denmark, his name is pronounced “Mike Viking,” which is hilarious. He is known for his research on the topic of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga) which is a Danish and Norwegian word for promoting an environment of coziness, safety, and comfortability to produce feelings of wellness and contentment. So yes, to feel peace we need to be proactive. And these days, I need to learn how to be my own comforting entourage.
PremRawat.com: As we wrap up, regarding your experiences with Prem, was there anything else that stands out that may still be influencing your life today?
Tom Price: Backstage, during one of the events, I remember watching Prem arrive. He had just conducted some very personal meetings with people who were unwell, elderly, or close to dying. I heard him humbly talking about one of the individuals. He shared with this person that he learned more from them about their clarity as they approached the last days of their life. I found that very, very moving and life-affirming.
PremRawat.com: Thank you so much, Tom, for sharing this, which is very insightful. It’s been such a delight speaking with you today.