What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?

The latest Uber Eats work out of Mother is wonderfully understated, and I think Steve Rogers has done a great job of executing them. The spots are delightful.

Uber – Wine

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What website(s) do you use most regularly?

The Atlantic has introduced me to the best thinkers and writers in the English language, from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Olga Khazan. But my guilty pleasure is I spend a lot of time planning holidays that I then cancel because of work. My wife calls it 'holiday porn'. I’m obsessed with cancellation policies.

What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought?

I know I should be talking about some filmmaking equipment (I do have a decent camera, I promise) but my favourite piece of 'tech' is my coffee machine. It’s the only inanimate object I ever really miss. I love my morning coffee-making ritual at home. I go to bed thinking about it… is that love? Or addiction?

What product could you not live without?

My laptop. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but spending a few hours away from it gives me anxiety.

What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?

Past Lives. It’s so beautiful. It’s patient and elegant. The writing and direction is so impeccable, it’s hard to believe it’s her first film.

What film do you think everyone should have seen?

 Sideways. Alexander Payne is a master of subtle relationship tensions. A comedy doesn’t have to be two laughs per page. It should be about drawing you into the characters, so you feel their pain. I can watch it over and over again. And I have.

What’s your preferred social media platform?

Ugh... I kind of loathe social media. It’s addictive and invasive. For me, it’s Instagram, because it’s visual, and sometimes you do see interesting and creative things, but half the time I just get sucked into an ever-narrowing algorithmic vortex. It knows all I want to see is social justice videos that make me angry, 50s jazz videos that calm me down, and 90s Man United videos that make me nostalgic for a time when things (especially United) were better.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Of all time? Or right now? Right now, it’s How To With John Wilson. It’s the most creative thing on air. He’s a poet, a comedian, and an arthouse filmmaker rolled into one. No one is doing anything like it. If you’re asking for my favourite of all time, it would be The Larry Sanders Show. Garry Shandling changed everything. He was a genius. I’ve watched it from beginning to end about five times.

What’s your favourite podcast?

Over the last few years, I think I’ve listened to This American Life more than any other podcast. When I first started spending time in America, Ira Glass’s voice just represented everything good to me. Familiar, funny, clever. I wish I was related to him. I’d like him to have been at our Friday night dinners. We might have behaved better. Maybe my grandpa wouldn’t have eaten all the chopped liver that time and blamed the dog. If you’re gonna blame the dog Grandpa, at least hide the dirty fork.

What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?

Magdalena Abakanowicz’s woven sculptures at Tate Modern blew me away. They had such a calming effect - I just wanted to stay there for hours. They had to throw me out. Which had a less calming effect. 

If you could only listen to one music artist from now on, who would it be?

Ugh. Really? One? Come on. Ok, probably A Tribe Called Quest. They never made a bad record. Like, literally, not even a skippable album track. And Miles Davis. Ok that’s two. But I told you, one is not enough. Neither is two. Desert Island Discs gives you eight! 

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be? 

It’s all white people. The number of times I’ve done a Zoom call with an agency where everyone is talking about 'diversity', but everyone on the call is white, is insane. It’s time we changed from within, and not just on-screen. I’m not trying to do myself out of a job! There’s room for everyone. We just need to be mindful of who we are bringing in and training. In the US I’m on the board of Manifest Works, an organisation that runs training programs and work placements for people from diverse backgrounds to enter the industry and succeed, with incredible results. I think the APA/BECTU Diversity Action Plan was a really positive step in the right direction but there’s plenty more work to be done across the board in our industry; we’re all accountable.

Who or what has most influenced your career? 

I grew up in a community of funny people. All my heroes and role models were funny. The speeches at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings were so good, we would look forward to them, even as kids. Comedy was always the way to communicate in my family. It was the way out of insecurities at school, and the way out of arguments at home. I was schooled early in the American Jewish tradition of the borsht belt, from Sid Caesar onwards. When I was a kid, it was all about Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen and Nora Ephron. I watched The Sunshine Boys on VHS about 50 times. Not only were the one-liners brilliant, but it was always so connected to story. I met Mel Brooks once, and I asked him some advice about a script I was developing. He told me, “Always ask yourself, ‘What would Charles Dickens do?’” I didn’t see that coming.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

When I was 23, I lived in a van, in Japan, for five months, selling fake jewellery on the street, for the Yakuza. I spent a night in jail and befriended the number one sumo wrestler in Japan.