Karl Pilkington has swam with sharks, socialized with former cannibals, and encountered wild gorillas in Uganda, but lest you think him a David Attenborough, you should know that before Pilkington met Ricky Gervais, he barely set foot outside of England, and the most dangerous thing he’d ever done was choke on a Mr. Freeze pop as a kid.
Since then, Gervais has sent Pilkington around the world in his own travel program, An Idiot Abroad (then later independently in The Moaning of Life). An Idiot Abroad is an excuse to play one practical joke after another on Karl. Gervais tells him he’s going to swim with dolphins, but Karl shows up to the marina to find he’s going to be swimming with sharks. However, as a sign that Ricky does actually care about the well-being of his friend, he forces Karl to get a prostate exam in the series finale after Karl admits that he’s been neglecting his annual checkup. That negligence could have been the most dangerous thing Karl’s ever done.
5 Most Dangerous Things Karl Did Before An Idiot Abroad
Kidney Stones (September 2006).
Karl’s procedure to remove his kidney stones left him time to write a poem:
For God’s sake, me belly ache
The doctor said it’s me kidney
He said he’s got to stick a tube up me knob
I said you got to be kidding me
For God’s sake, knob ache.
Choking on a Mr. Freeze pop.
“I rip it open and knock it back straight away, just right back. But it went down the wrong way, right? So I was like, ‘Oh God, can’t breathe,’ and me mam and dad didn’t even know what I’d ‘et. Do you know what I mean? I ‘et it so quick.
“And I’m sort of tapping my mam on the back, and she’s going, ‘Oh God, he’s choking again,’ because I was always choking. One thing, I don’t know if I’ve got like a small throat.
“So, anyway, it was like, ‘What’s he picked up and ‘et now?’ I was in the kitchen and I was starting to like…I didn’t care anymore. You know what I mean? I just got to that point where I wasn’t struggling anymore. So I’m falling to the ground, and me mam’s going, you know, ‘Get in here, I think it’s serious!’
“And me dad comes in and sort of starts shouting at me, sort of saying, ‘That’s what you get for being greedy.’ He didn’t even know what I’d eaten.
“So he’s there like that and me mams going, ‘Oh, look at him!’ And me lips were going purple, and me eyes were rolling into the back of me head. So anyway, she grabbed me from behind and did that fireman thing and winded me, and it came up, and I was all right. The weird thing is, like, for like three days after that, I felt like a sort of special person. Have you ever had that, where you felt like ‘I’ve been given another chance here?’”
Falling out a window
“Four thirty I was up and about, and this morning it was like winter, really bad winter, bad snow you know, freezing cold, really windy and all that. And me mam said to me before I went to bed, she said, ‘Don’t be getting up tomorrow. I’ll give you the 50p.’
“I said, ‘It’s not about the 50p.’ You know, people want the papers and stuff. So I went to bed thinking, you know that’s it, I’ve told her I’m still going , so you know whatever. Go to sleep, get up in the morning, and put all me kit on, and I used to have layers of clothes on ‘cos it was really cold. I had like a big anorak on with the fur on and I had water proof pants and I got me paper round bag and I went downstairs to get out and tried to open the door and it was locked so I thought, ‘Oh God.’ So she’d locked it so I couldn’t go out. So I’m searching ‘round the house looking for the keys. She must’ve hid ‘em somewhere. I thought, ‘Oh God, you know, I’ve got the papers to do,’ so I thought, ‘How can I get out?’
So I went upstairs, climbed out of the bathroom window, right? And, to try and jump out of the bathroom window onto the porch, but the problem was I had so much gear on, I was like the Michelin Man, so I could hardly move as it is. I tried to get out the window, and I’m trying to stretch down like that, get me foot on the porch, and me bag got caught on like the hook of—Do you know how you have like a hook so you can pop the window open? The little arm goes on. Me bag had got caught on that, I was holding onto like the wall and me foot on the thing so I couldn’t sort of pull it, pull it away, in case I pulled it away and fell on me head. So, I’m stuck there dangling. Me dad comes back from working nights. He thinks I’m a burglar. So, so he’s shouting and stuff and going mad and I’m going, ‘Dad, it’s me,’ and he had to help me using a washing prop thing—a big stick.
“Well, he said, ‘Just hold on for your dear life and I’ll sort of push the paper bag off the hook.’ It was at that point where I was in the middle and there was nothing you could do, you know what I mean? It’s at that point where you just gotta make a decision and by the time he got upstairs, who knows what would have happened. You know what I mean, and you gotta act there and then, no messing around. So that was close to death ‘cos I must have been about 30 foot in the air.”
“Right, ages ago, must of been about 15, we used to have a choice of stuff to do at lunch time, right? Used to have like a burger place that had an arcade machine in it, right, so we used to go there and play on that and have a burger. Or there was this baker’s, right, that me mam worked at and did great cakes and stuff, right? So, she used to, like, bring some home and that but she couldn’t always bring ’em home every night because, you know, they’d cost money and she used to get them for free and they used to say they’d rather chuck them away than give ’em to the staff because there’s a chance that the cream might be off. So they used to chuck ’em ’round the back. So I used to go ’round the back with me mate and eat a load. Right, so I’d have, like, you know, six jam donuts or something and then you’d spend your dinner money on the arcade machine. So, it was a good afternoon, really, right. So, you’d do that, and this one day I must have had six or seven jam donuts, a few congress tarts, but the day after one of these days, I had really bad cramp in me belly I was, like, in agony. I could hardly walk.
“So I said to me mam, ‘Aww, I don’t like doctors but you’ll have to get a doctor in because I don’t know what it is, I can’t walk.’ She gets the doctor ’round. Uhh, I won’t say his name but he said, ‘Well, tsk, doesn’t look like he’s got long left.’
“So I was a bit like, ‘Hang on a minute, I’ve only had a few free cream donuts.’ Me mam was panicking. He went.
“Me dad came in from work. She said, ‘Aw, something’s really bad with Karl. I think it’s serious. The doctor said he hasn’t got long left.’
“So he said, ‘What? He said that and just left?!’
“So she said, ‘Yeah.’
“He said, ‘Oh, I’ll have to call him then.’ So he called him up, said, ‘What’s all this about? Karl hasn’t got long left? How long has he got?’
“So he goes, ‘Oooh, I was only messing! He’s just had some bad cream.’”
Kicking his height
“I was in the garden, summer’s day, and it was that era when like doing Kung Fu and all that was like really popular and I was like messing about in the garden, punching a tree and stuff. And me dad said, ‘I bet you can’t kick your height,’ and I said, ‘’corse I can.’
“He said, ‘I bet you can’t,’ but instead of doing it on the grass, I did it on, like, the concrete bit. Kicked it, actually did it, I went, ‘There you go,’ but didn’t, like, get me foot down quick enough and landed on the ground, and I still get back trouble now.”