I’ve been deliberating most of the day on one of those fun exercises, choosing the six people you’d most want to have to dinner. Or have dinner with. I’m not sure they’d all want to come to my house, though that would make it a little more special in a way. But, man, that’s some pressure to grill the meat just perfectly. I’m not really sure on the rules on this. Do we get to be friends with them from the dinner on? Can I later text them or ring them up to chat? That might actually change my lineup a little.
Another rules clarification: As I interpret this, it’s a ticket to meet people I wouldn’t normally be able meet. So I’m not picking anyone I know, even though I have a ton of friends spread all over the country that I would love to see. I would totally dig a Guy Smiley, This Is Your Life meetup with all of the great friends I’ve made over the years. But I’ll assume they’re all planning to come to my 50th birthday party and I won’t include them in this exercise. (Though it goes without saying that I will become such good pals with these dinner guests that they, too, will show up for my 50th, so I can’t really lose there, I guess.)
So, without further ado, here are my six dinner guests:
Ricky Gervais – Comedy genius. Second funniest man on the planet. Capable of dropping into David Brent at any moment. Hope he doesn’t drop into Derek too frequently, because I’ll start to wonder if it’s appropriate to laugh after a bit.
Karl Pilkington – Funniest man on the planet, if perhaps inadvertently so. There’s way more wisdom here than meets the eye. Plus I want him to tell the story of how his dad left the Forrest Gump kid in the wheelie bin. And I’ll credit him for limiting my selections to living folk. As he once so eloquently put it, why would you want to invite dead people to dinner?
Harry Kane – I admit it. I have a man crush on him. He’s brilliant. I spend way too much time thinking about how he does what he does. I’ve probably been this fixated on an athlete before, but I can’t recall who or when. Maybe Ilian Evtimov or George Foster, but they never dominated quite the same way. I just love watching this dude play. And he seems like a genuinely nice bloke. I don’t actually think he’d mind coming to dinner, but if he did he’d be too polite to ever let on.
Gary Lightbody – I became hooked on Snow Patrol 4-5 years ago. It’s not the rockingest music I’ve ever been addicted to, but I never shook it off. I probably went a solid 2 years without listening to much else, from 2011-13. I never got sick of it. But more than that, Gary seems like a top bloke. Like he would be fun to hang out with and wouldn’t keep reminding you that he was only there because you won some kind of miracle dinner contest.
James Corden – He’d be the guest that really tied everyone else together. Plus he’s Smithy. I could spend most of the night talking Gavin & Stacey with him. And a little bit of remaining time talking The Wrong Mans. Wouldn’t likely bring up Horne & Corden. No point rubbing that one in. We all make mistakes.
One spot left, and so many candidates to fill it. I’m painfully aware about now that all five of my guests are white males from the United Kingdom. Not a lot of diversity there, though we do have a lot of different conversation topics covered. Comedy, music, football, world travel with Karl. I’m thinking here that it would be great to chat for a while with Nick Hornby, a brilliant author and feverish Arsenal fan. I’ve long admired Dave Grohl, who just seems like a regular dude and must have so many fascinating stories to share. I’ve been a huge Michael J. Fox fan for 30 years, dating back to Family Ties and the original Back to the Future movie in 1985. I make a point of watching Jon Stewart every day, and have for years. His “offspring” John Oliver is even funnier, with a better accent. But to balance things out slightly, at least genderwise, I’m going with …
Ruth Jones – Okay, Gavin & Stacey is full on now. But I’d also be talking a lot of Stella. Where the hell did Rob Morgan disappear to in Season 3? Thanks for bringing him back at the end of Season 4, but really, he’s the one we all wanted Stella to wind up with. Not Neil from Swindon. (Though credit where it’s due, he did grow on me a bit.) Will Dai be coming back? Was Paula’s return only for a couple of episodes? What the hell ever happened to Stella’s parents? So much to discuss, this dinner will run all night.
In the end, it all leans very British. I didn’t really intend that, and maybe six months from now it would come out differently. Of course, if I wanted to pick Americans I would focus on my friends. And you know who you are, all six of you. (There’s way more than six, but let’s let them all think they made the cut.)