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Dom Joly

Dominic Joly (born 15 November 1970) (better known as Dom Joly) is an award-winning British television comedian and journalist. He came to note as the star of Trigger Happy TV, a hidden camera show that was sold to over seventy countries worldwide. Since then, Joly has continued to make edgy off-beat television like World Shut Your Mouth for BBC1 and Dom Joly's Happy Hour, a spoof travel show in which he supposedly explored the drinking habits of other cultures for Sky 1. More recently his new show for Five The Complainers was a ratings success for the channel. Joly is also a writer with several books to his name and several regular columns in UK nationals and periodicals, including a spoof column for The Independent as a fictional American journalist Cooper Brown.. He also writes a weekly sports column called Dom Joly's Weird World of Sport for The Independent as well as his regular column in the Independent On Sunday. He is also an award winning travel writer for the Sunday Times and the Mail On Sunday.

Joly is currently in development for his first US movie War of the Flea a hidden camera movie that he is making with his old Trigger Happy partner Sam Cadman

Early life

Joly was born in Beirut, Lebanon and speaks Arabic and French in addition to English. While in Lebanon he attended Brummana High School in Brummana.


Between 1976 and 1980 Joly attended the Dragon School in Oxford, England (where he had his shrapnel collection confiscated); From 1981 to 1985 he was at Haileybury College, a famous boys' independent boarding school in Hertfordshire, England; and then in 1987 to 1990 the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he got a first-class degree in Arabic and International Politics.

Early career

Following university his work included:


After being recruited to work as a producer on ITN's House to House programme, a political discussion programme on Channel 4, Joly went on to work for The Mark Thomas Comedy Product because of his political knowledge. He then created his own show for the Paramount Comedy Channel called 'Dog Bites'. Discovering that working in comedy was both easier and more fun than his previous employment, Joly began to develop Trigger Happy TV which had a similar structure to 'Dog Bites'.

Trigger Happy TV

Joly's anarchic surreal sketches first started appearing as interstitials during advert breaks on the British Paramount Comedy Channel.

In 1999 following a successful fifteen minute pilot on Comedy Lab, Channel 4 commissioned Joly to make a TV series. Trigger Happy TV was born; an anarchic hidden camera show that went on to be sold to over seventy countries worldwide. Joly made two series and two Christmas specials before announcing that he wanted to do other things. Joly was nominated for three British Comedy Awards for the show, won the Silver Rose of Montreux, the BBC2 award for Best Comedy and the Loaded/Goodfella' Comedy newcomer of the Year.

The three DVDs for the shows were all best-sellers as were the soundtrack albums that Joly had personally selected and mixed himself. A spoof documentary about Joly followed, called Being Dom Joly which was produced and written by Joly himself. This aired prior to screenings of Trigger Happy TV in the USA and earned critical acclaim, with one reviewer Bob Croft, LA Times calling Joly "the funniest man in Britain."

a new series of Trigger Happy TV was made for a US audience in 2003, and changed the format of British Trigger Happy TV in that it featured a band of different "comedians", who performed skits without Joly. Though Joly did cameo sporadically on the show, he was very unhappy with the programme and called it "Trigger Happy by numbers - take joke, put it in slo-mo, add fluffy animals and random indie soundtrack - it was made by uncaring idiots." He had a producer credit on the show but disassociated himself with the project.

2003 BBC contract

Following the success of Trigger Happy TV on Channel 4, Joly was secured by the BBC for a rumoured £1 million. However his first show for the BBC, This is Dom Joly, a spoof chatshow for the BBC in which Joly played an appallingly egotistical media character who had the same name as him thereby confusing a lot of the audience as to what was real and what wasn't, did not achieve the same success as Trigger Happy TV, leading to the hidden camera format being revamped on BBC1 as World Shut Your Mouth. Featuring all new material and an increased budget relative to Trigger Happy, allowing for pranks to be performed in different countries, the show was critically acclaimed and gained a further huge fan-base. It was later released on DVD.

Dom Joly's Excellent Adventure

During 2005, Dom starred in a one-off documentary as part of a series on Sky One. Dom Joly's Excellent Adventure involved him travelling back to Beirut for the first time since he left in the late 1980s, and embarking on a road trip through the Syrian Desert to find a cave where he scrawled his name in as a child, which he discovered after much searching.

Dom Joly's Happy Hour

His next project for Sky One was a critically acclaimed spoofy travel series supposedly investigating attitudes to alcohol around the world, entitled Dom Joly's Happy Hour. Dom Joly's Happy Hour was a surreal, spoof travel investigation in which Joly teams up with his friend, Canadian digital artist, Peter Wilkins to explore drinking habits around the world, in a very similar way to comedian Arthur Smith's radio show. They travelled to the Southern States of the U.S., Russia, Australia, Europe and India. During the first documentary the pair explored Miami drinking styles, then met up with some hillbillies in the Appalachians tasting moonshine, and visited a gay cowboy bar in Atlanta before taking on the Christian right in Alabama's dry counties. After that Joly hilariously visited Russia, trying 80% alcohol (by volume) homemade vodka known as Samogon. He explains "You have an hour where you feel you can take on the world, then you black out. But because it’s almost pure alcohol, no hangover - sadly because I can’t remember it, I don’t know if it’s worth doing." They then visited Australia, Mexico and Europe before ending the tour in India. It was described in the Guardian as "a brilliantly surreal take on the tired format that is the TV travel show."

The programme included a lot more than just attempting to discover foreign drinking habits - for instance, in Russia Dom received a haircut from a nude woman. Another instance found Joly and Wilkins catching crocodiles in Australia. In Russia, they performed their own version of a morris dance before a bemused dance academy.

"The premise of investigating alcohol is ridiculous," Joly admitted during an interview. "I wanted an excuse to travel the world, but they (Sky TV) wanted a focal point. So I said as a joke: 'Well, I quite like drinking.' And they went, 'Fantastic, that’s brilliant!'" It was the best blag in the history of television.

The DVD was released on the 1st October 2007.

The Complainers

Dom Joly has most recently appeared inThe Complainers for Channel Five in the UK. The show, in Joly's words- "intends to try and get a little revenge for the ordinary Brit on the morons, bureaucrats, health and safety officers, traffic wardens, timewasters that make all our lives a daily hell."


Joly writes for various publications. He is alleged to be the writer of a spoof column in The Independent called "Cooper Brown: He's out there." The column is published as the work of an American character called Cooper Brown and revolves around his putative adventures as "a garrulous American showbiz type."

His real-life eclectic weekly column for the Independent on Sunday covers subjects as varied as Middle East politics and fifty foot chickens.

Joly also writes a weekly column on the "Weird World of Sport" for The Independent Sports supplement on Mondays.

He is also a regular travel writer for The Sunday Times and has written about trips to Costa Rica, Dominica, Syria, Northern California, Vietnam, Canada, Miami, Scotland, Italy, Maldives, South Africa, Zanzibar, New Zealand, Malaysia and Corsica At the end of 2006 readers of the paper were asked to vote on where Joly would go every week. He travelled the globe performing various adrenaline sports whilst making a weekly podcast from South Africa, Spain, The Arctic Circle, Paris and Fort William. He has also written for Esquire Magazine, GQ, The Mail on Sunday, The London Evening Standard FHM, The Observer and The Spectator.

In September 2008 Joly won an award at the 2008 Canada Media Awards for "Best Travel Piece" - the piece was written for the Mail on Sunday about a trip to Muskoka in Canada

Joly wrote a spoof autobiography called Look at me, Look at me! which was published by Bloomsbury in 2004. Joly's second book, Letters to my Golf Club, is a book of humorous letters and correspondences sent to golf clubs around the world for Transworld Publishing. Letters to my Golf Club was published on the 8th October 2007.

Joly recently starred in the ITV2 reality programme Deadline with Janet Street Porter where he had to become a paparazzo. Amongst other highlights he was punched by Lily Allen, hit over the head with a guitar by Pete Doherty, called a "persistent little fat fuck" by Pierce Brosnan and snorted vodka with Ingrid Tarrant.

Joly was a "special correspondent" for the Independent at the Beijing Olympics. He says- "it's always been an ambition to be a foreign correspondent and this is as close as I'll ever get." While in Beijing he also appeared daily on the "Drive" programme on Five Live with Peter Allen

Political career

In the 1997 UK general election Dom Joly formed the Teddy Bear Alliance ("Mr Blair, where do you stand on fleas?") and changed his name to Edward 'Teddy' Bear, he stood in Kensington and Chelsea against Alan Clark. Hiring out hundreds of teddy bear costumes, he staged mock protests in Westminster and came fifth out of nine candidates. The Alliance is not registered as a political party under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.


Joly was the singer in an Indie band called Hang David in the early Nineties. He was a Goth and said that he looked more like Robert Smith than Robert Smith. Joly personally selects all the soundtracks for his TV shows. All three soundtracks albums for Trigger Happy TV were huge commercial hits. He has also directed a couple of music videos. Ian Brown - Golden Gaze, in which Joly made the whole video in one take, making Brown run through the streets of London being chased by gorillas, frog-men and ninjas before he took refuge in the Prince Charles Cinema. WigWam, the duo composing of Betty Boo and Alex James from Blur asked Joly to direct their first single. Joly decided to pay a weird homage to The Beatles concert on a roof and filmed the band performing in cat costumes on the roof of a building opposite the Groucho Club in Soho.


In June 2008, Joly became the co-star of the Cobra Pubcast, a podcast from British beer company Cobra Beer that he hosts with humorist Danny Wallace. .

  • Retrieved on 20/11/2006
  • Retrieved on 20/11/2006
  • Retrieved on 20/11/2006
  • Retrieved on 04/11/2007
  • Would I Lie To You? (TV series) Episode 1 Sat 16 Jun, 9:55 pm - 10:25 pm

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