On a recent episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, “The Late Late Show” host James Corden recounted how he chased after a drone that spied on his family.
You can read some of the highlights from their discussion at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Transcript by Celia Fogel.
Kara Swisher: Today in the red chair I’m in Los Angeles talking to James Corden, the host of “The Late Late Show” on CBS. Originally a theater and TV actor based in the U.K., since March 2015 he’s become something of an internet celebrity — I don’t know if he’d call himself that — thanks to “The Late Late Show’s” many viral videos. You’ve probably seen his “Carpool Karaoke” videos in which he drives and sings with celebrities ranging from Adele to Lin-Manuel Miranda to Michelle Obama. James, welcome to Recode Decode.
James Corden: Hi.
Thanks for coming.
A pleasure, thanks for having me.
I’m so thrilled to have you! We like having a TV person here every now and then. I only talk to geeks and VCs, so it’s really nice to talk to a regular person.
Do they know that you call them that?
They do. I do it all the time.
They like it. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome in Silicon Valley, you know what I mean? I just abuse them and it works for all of us.
I hear ya. That’s fun.
So we’re going to talk tech in a minute, but let’s talk a little bit about you. People don’t know as much about your background. You have a hugely varied background in theater and on the BBC and TV shows and things like that. So talk about how you got to “The Late Late Show” and then we’ll talk about sort of the phenomenon you’ve created there.
Um, well. I mean, I’m an actor first and foremost and I worked in the U.K. and I’d done a few plays and a couple of films. I worked with directors like Mike Leigh and Shane Meadows and people like that. And I'd worked at the National Theater and done a play in New York called “The History Boys,” which did very well. And then I wrote a sitcom called “Gavin & Stacey” for the BBC, which to everybody's surprise started on a very small digital channel called BBC 3 and ended up on BBC 1. We started with about 500,000 viewers and when we ended it three seasons later we had like 14 million. Which in the United Kingdom is essentially …
Well, it’s about one in three, I think. So it was a super hit. And then I did a couple of things that weren’t very good, and then I wrote another show for the BBC called “The Wrong Mans,” which was also part-financed by Hulu, and then I went back to New York to do a play called “One Man, Two Guvnors,” which is a big slapstick farce. And unbeknownst to me, one day a man called Les Moonves, who is the CEO of CBS, came to see that play, and he tells this story much better than I, so it feels a bit indulgent if I tell it. But he saw the play and went home and started sort of Googling me and said, “How should we get this guy on our network?” And I’d shot a film called “Into the Woods,” and I was writing a new show for HBO. And I was going to go back to New York and do a musical called “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” …
Great musical — Zero Mostel was in the original.
That’s right. So I was going to play that role on Broadway, which I was of course very much looking forward to, and CBS had asked if I’d write a show for them, and I had said no. And I had gone to Les and the then-president, Nina Tassler, to explain why. And we got talking about “Late Night,” and I told them how incredible I thought Stephen Colbert’s appointment was and how swiftly they dealt with it. I thought it was very classy the way they dealt with it. And we started talking about how I felt [about] the show after it — Craig Ferguson had just said he was going to step down. And I said I felt like unless they find a show that will embrace the internet and reach out its arms to that audience, I wonder what the point of having that show is.
Well, yes, because there’s a talk show from 11:30 to 12:30 and then you should have another talk show from 12:30 to 1:30, and it’s got to try and find a different audience. An audience that perhaps don’t watch network television anymore. Not because the content isn’t right, just because they consume their content in different ways.
Had you been a big internet person? Had you thought about doing a talk show?
Because you’d done musical theater, movies with music …
No, I was very reticent to do it is the truth. I really wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. But I came to the conclusion that I’d much rather regret doing something than not doing something. And as far as being an internet person, I don’t see a huge divide between …
Right, as many in Hollywood do.
I do see a divide between my phone, my computer screen and my television. Like, at best, at very best, it’s a blurred line, you know? And the way I see it is content is content and a good show will be a good show. It will be a good show on your phone, it will be a good show on your laptop, and I don’t differentiate between the platforms that you’re on.
What got you to say that to them and what was the reaction when you said that — “It’s got to be something different”? Now, other hosts have been trying the viral videos, Kimmel and Conan.
Well, yeah, and very successfully, because the trick is to ... and what I was saying was nothing really new, it just hadn’t really existed on CBS before. It’s not that I was reinventing the wheel in any way.
Ahh, the internet, the kids love it!
On that particular network …
It was a traditional talk show.
Yeah. It felt like that. David Letterman said himself — when he was retiring he did lots of interviews — and he said his regret was not embracing it at the time. He says in hindsight he realizes that that was something that the 12:30, the “Late Night with David Letterman,” would have absolutely ... that’s what it would have been. It’s the same audience.
And it embraced him to an extent; it did grab stuff.
One hundred percent, but he felt like he’d wished he had sort of jumped both feet in as opposed to just dipping their toes in the water, I think.
So when you were conceiving of this show, thinking of it like that, where you see blurred lines, how do you then create? Do you deconstruct the show and then reconstruct it? Or do you think of it in pieces?
Well, it’s a tough one on that. Because ultimately we look at our show as we launch it at 12:30 every night, but it’s available 24 hours a day. So we look at each show as an hour, and we go, right, and today’s show will be something different from yesterday’s show. And then we try and think, “Well, what will be the moments that people will find, and how can we package them and place them in a manner that people will search them out and share them on their phones?” You know? And it’s ultimately the core of it has to be good. The core of it, it doesn’t matter how much you brand something, how much you package something, how much you try and put something in front of people. You know, the old adage is the same: If a film’s good, a film’s good. If a song’s good, a song’s good.
Right, you can’t make it into a sensation.
It’s not that, it’s just got to be good. Because our show is a talk show, so very often it will be me and someone else — you’ve got to present them in a way that people haven’t really seen them before.
So how do you do that? Obviously you’ve done Carpool Karaoke and we’ll talk about that in a second, but how do you imagine to do that? Because talk shows have kind of a strict formula.
Well, ours doesn’t really.
Or they did.
Yeah, and look, you could tune into our show tonight and there would be elements of it that are very, very the same because what we always wanted to do was just to evolve slightly. Like just the very nature of, you know, we would think about our show and we would think, “Well, we’re on after Stephen Colbert’s show, and Stephen’s going to do ...”
“... politics, he’s going to bring guests out one at a time. Well, let’s bring all our guests out together, let’s bring them all out at the same time because let’s try and create a feeling of a dinner party, an organic conversation. Let’s bring our audience closer.” His show’s in a Broadway theater. Where would you go after a Broadway theater? You might go to a restaurant, you might go to a cabaret bar, you might go to a jazz club. Or let’s bring our seats closer, little small Tiffany lamps in between, Reggie Watts and his band being just incredible. And you just try to form it as organically as you can in a way that would feel like an organic process. And then it’s about thinking, well …
And just every guest thinking, “Well, what we can do, what’s a thing that we can do that’s either stupid, silly, funny or interesting or fun?” And it’s just got to tick one of those five, really. You know?
Yeah. So when you’re doing this every night — we’re going to get to how you evolved into the one that’s gotten you very well known, because it’s sort of gotten enormous in that way — when you work with your team of writers, explain what you do all day, like how you get it together, how you bring it together. How is a modern talk show done?
[sighs] I mean, no day is really the same but. ... Well, I’ll go straight after this and I’ll go and sit with the writers, and normally I would be there now and we would look at the news and we’ll look at what we want to say at the start of the show. What's an angle on that, what’s a funny thing about this. And then it will become either meetings about today or meetings about tomorrow or maybe meetings about next week. Like at the end of the show, after we wrap the show tonight, me and a few of the crew are going to rehearse something for not next week, the week after. So we’ll get it to a place that when the guest walks in the door, we’re already figured out, we’re already 80 percent there, so they would never feel like, “Oh my god, why have I even agreed to do this, this is a disaster.” You know? And mostly it’s just looking at the list of guests and thinking, “Well, what can we do? What would be fun?” Like we had a singer on last week called Shawn Mendes who’s incredibly popular, a brilliant singer, a good sport. And we decided to do a bit where he would interrupt the show, because I play a lot of ‘90s R&B on the show, somewhat ironically, but also, you know, you can’t beat Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.”
No, you cannot. That is a truth.
Yeah. And he turns up and says, “Why are you playing all this old music, man?” I’m like, “Wait, are you challenging me to a better then/better now riff off?” And then we’ll have a ... you know. And I think ... I don’t know how many people ... let’s have a look and see how many people have watched it.
We never look at our ratings. We just …
I’m curious what you look at.
Well, we only look at our YouTube number. That’s the only number we look at.
Really? Why is that? Tell me about that.
Because it’s the only number that’s true.
Well, look, it’s the only number that’s a true and real number. Hang on, I found it. Yeah, three million.
Three million. For that. For just that, that you just thought of off the top of your head. So talk about that YouTube thing, because years ago I interviewed the guy who did “Modern Family,” the creator, who’s terrific. He’s been in TV forever. And he didn’t even know his Hulu numbers, he didn’t know his YouTube numbers. He said one of the only ways — and he was trying to push the network, it was one of their huge hit shows — that he was angry that everything was based on ratings versus everything else that was important. He was like, “I know Hulu’s important, I know YouTube’s important, I know Twitter’s important, but none of these are getting counted in the ratings." This was a couple of years ago, and so we actually got Hulu to give him the numbers finally, even though the network owned part of Hulu. And so, you know, he was sort of in this ratings thing where he thought it didn’t matter anymore or wasn’t going to matter. So you think just YouTube watches matter to you.
Well, it’s the only true number; it’s pure. Our show airs at 12:37 at night. Our competition is people choosing to fall asleep.
Right. And “Law & Order.” And porn.
It’s just we can’t ... the internet, YouTube, if it’s good, it will travel. People will find it. Our show, we are simply at the mercy of a big football game, or a big prime-time drama, or the news, or our lead-in. That’s it. That’s ... whereas it’s a level playing field …
YouTube. It’s a level playing field. Everybody is at the same ... do you know what I mean?
Yes, I got it.
Starting block. So, for us on our show, the time slot we’re in, our time slot is not about ratings, it’s about relevance. Some would argue that all of late night actually is about relevance and not about ratings. It’s just what is relevant. And I find ratings a sort of odd thing because you don’t know, and I don’t know, and Kevin Spacey doesn’t know, how many people watch “House of Cards.” Yet you, I and he would never, ever disagree that it isn’t a hit.
So it’s a pure thing where you know if something’s a hit, you know if something works and you know if it doesn’t. That’s just the numbers we look at.
Okay, so YouTube. What else do you look at? What other things do you think are important? Twitter? Or Snapchat? Or anything else? Or Facebook, for example.
Yes, I know that our digital team look a lot at Facebook, like how we’re doing on Facebook and things like that. Twitter and Snapchat don’t carry the content.
Right, but they’re starting to.
Do you know what I mean? But not in its sort of purer sense right now. So of course, when that becomes a [unintelligible] system, then yes we would.
So let’s talk about “Carpool Karaoke.” “Carpool Kara-oke” — I called it Kara-oke because my name is Kara. Tell me about how it came together and how you thought it was going to end up and how it did end up.
We had done a sketch for a charity at home called Comic Relief back in 2010 where part of the sketch involved me and George Michael in a car singing Wham songs.
Which is so fantastic.
Thank you. And people just really responded to it. The whole sketch, but those moments in particular, people were like, “Oh, I loved that!” And the truth is, when you come and take on a show like this, you’re just looking for, you're searching for what are the bits that will define your show. Because if you don’t have stuff that defines the show, what are these shows? You know, they’re just sort of dust …
… that is there and then it’s gone, you know? And if you think about David Letterman’s show …
... Top Ten list, stupid pet tricks. Or Jay Leno with “Jaywalking.” Or Jimmy Fallon with thank-you notes and lip sync battles. Or Seth’s show with “A Closer Look.”
Or “Mean Tweets.”
Yeah, “Mean Tweets,” Jimmy Kimmel’s show. And you think, we need bits that define our show. And so myself and the exec producer who’s my best friend, who also directed that sketch that we were talking about just then, we sat and we were thinking about the location of the show, me moving to LA. LA people talk about traffic, carpool, carpool lanes. And it just sort of landed. It just arrived. And we just sort of went Carpool …
Had you looked at the Jerry Seinfeld talking, two comics talking in the car? Had you seen that?
No, not really. And you just go, “Carpool Karaoke” ... that feels like a thing. We'd sing the hits in the car …
And you’re a musical theater person obviously.
And we were like, "Oh, this is ... yeah. That’s an idea." And it’s an idea that we were absolutely certain would work if we could get someone to do it, which we couldn't.
Who did you try? Who wouldn’t do it?
Who didn’t we try? We tried everyone. If you think of an artist, they said no.
And why? That’s silly?
Understandably. “I don’t know this guy. This is not a show that ...” You know, we were going to like the biggest artists in the world. And “The Late Late Show” on CBS was not normally a door that they would pass by, you know? And they didn’t know me, they didn't know that, and they were like, “Well, no, we’ll wait.” And everybody said, “We’ll wait and see.”
See how it goes.
And we were like, right, that’s all well and good but unless someone says yes, that day will never come. And God bless Mariah Carey for having the vision and the gumption and, to be quite honest, the balls to do it. And yeah, we did it, we shot it. I think the first one’s like five minutes long.
What was the song with her?
We did all her songs. We did loads of them. And then yeah, who would have thought it would just grow into this thing.
And then everybody wanted to do it.
Well, slowly and surely, yeah. But I mean, yeah. I’m incredibly proud that in such a short time that we’ve created something which is completely sort of definable.
And it’s thoroughly ... it’s continually enjoyable. Because some internet memes, they sort of work themselves out. And then they stop.
Well, I mean, who knows if that will happen with this. But what we try to do is ultimately not do it very often. Like we’ve done 235 shows and we’ve done “Carpool” 19 times. You know?
Right. But it is a defining element of your show. It really is interesting. So how do you actually tape it? Because everyone sort of wonders. People from Silicon Valley are like, “How does he technically do this?”
Well, we sit in the car with I think about 11 fixed GoPro cameras. And then …
Just off the shelf. You just bought ‘em, just GoPros.
Yeah, I mean, I didn’t buy them.
Right, yeah, but they just got them.
They’re just all synced up. And then there’s a car in front of me and a car behind and one car that just sort of floats. And so we are sort of driving in a cushioned bubble, if you like. And the rule is we try and drive in a straight line as much as we can, and away from the sun.
In a certain area. Not anywhere.
We never go on the freeway, no. We just try and drive on the quietest roads we find, really. And that’s it. We shoot for between an hour and two hours and then they average around 10 or 11 minutes and that’s it.
So with just GoPros as your only technology right there.
Wow, that’s amazing.
And we use the stereo in the car. And I think the truth is there’s an intimacy to it. Like the songs are the thing which people would often know and they are very much the glue that hold it together. But the thing that I’m most proud of in them is the interview element in it. Because I do think you see people. Like I’ve known Adele for 11 years, I’ve seen her on any number of television shows. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her look quite so relaxed as she does when she sat in that car. And the same for like Chris Martin or Stevie Wonder. And so there’s a feeling of that people just, you’re hopefully showing very much a …
A real person.
… a human being. In an environment that we’re in, in an environment that we sing our songs in, in an environment without camera and audience and all of those things. And that's what I'm most proud of.
It also works on any screen. You’re right in that way. It works on a TV screen, a phone screen, an iPad screen.
For sure, yeah.
Do you think about that at all? What screen it works on? Or do you just not at all?
Not really. Because you know, I watch movie trailers on my phone and I feel as moved or as excited as if I’m in a movie theater, you know? So we rarely think about the screen and the format or the size or whatever. But mostly, we just want to make a show that can travel wherever people are going.
Do you think, working in Hollywood, that people do think like that here now, more and more? Because it’s been a struggle for Hollywood to get into the idea that people are watching anywhere. I watch almost all my TV shows on this broken iPhone here, which is interesting.
Well, my question would be why? Why do you watch? Do you mean you watch them even if you’re at home?
I don’t know why. I just like it. I can’t explain it, it’s a shift in behavior.
I would urge you ...
I have a big screen, too.
Yeah, if you’re going to watch like “House of Cards” or “Bloodline” or “Transparent,” if you’ve got the choice between television screen and phone, always go television screen.
It’s fascinating, because if you travel anywhere else, everyone’s doing what I’m doing. If you go to Japan, China, they’re not glued to the bigger screens. They’re glued to these smaller screens.
No, I get it. I get it if you’re on the subway, I get it if you’re in a park, I get it if you’re at your desk at work. But my worry in the world right now on Netflix and Amazon and Hulu, the only thing I really worry about is I think sometimes when you look at Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, that whole world, is that it gives the illusion and it gives a feeling of ultimate choice. Of absolute freedom of choice. But my worry is, is it actually making the world a narrower place? Is it actually blinkering you to just staying in your lane? If you like that, you should watch this. You enjoyed that, you should watch this. And at no point is it open to other things. Which is ultimately, and oddly ... it’s odd that you should mention the political circumstance that we’re in right now, but I think lots of people — and you will meet them as much as I will meet them — will talk about, “I don’t even understand how Donald Trump even got to this position.”
And I do believe that that is due to social media. Because ultimately all of us will follow like-minded people. So your feed, my feed, will be full of liberal people who feel the same as we do. And that’s the same on the other side of the line. So if you are reading Hillary Clinton’s this, he did that ... it used to be that a politician would go on the television, and if they lied, Walter Cronkite or whoever was interviewing them would go, “[gasp] You lied!” And we the people would go, “[gasp] They lied!” And you’re gone, that’s it! You lied. You didn’t pay taxes, you’re gone. But what happens is now in a world of following only like-minded people, that someone could lie and your feed will be full of 10 other people you follow going, “No, he didn’t. That’s not a lie. She did this. Ignore that.” And it reaffirms your point of view, and you’re reaffirming theirs, and that I think is ultimately quite a worrying scenario.
Sure. But don’t you think that ship has sailed a long time ago? I mean the disaggregation of everything. Walter Cronkite’s been dead forever and the idea that there were networks, CBS, ABC and NBC is …
No, no, no, but I’m not talking about networks. It’s a different thing. It’s a personal thing …
This following idea.
... when you’re making a choice to follow that radio DJ, that television guy, that podcast, those friends of yours, not those people who live down the street, that ultimately it closes in and it closes in and you never ever … when are you ever just going to happen upon something? So what you used to do is you’d sit down on a train or in a park and someone would have left a newspaper …
And you grab it.
... and you go, ‘Oh, I’ll pick this up.” And whether it’s the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily News, the Guardian, you’re picking it up and you go, “Oh, this is a different point of view to mine.” And immediately you’re open to something else.
See, I would argue — because I hear from more people than ever before — ‘ll tweet something, an anti-Trump thing or something like that — obviously you have to be living in San Francisco; it’s part of your duty as a San Francisco citizen — and I will hear from thousands. I have a large following, you have a very large following …
But you have a podcast, so you’re not real people.
No, I get that, but I feel like I’m hearing from more points of view than ever before, on everything. That you have access to a Breitbart and a Washington Post and a New York Times. You have access to everything.
But you are choosing to have access to everything. And you actively want to. And that’s the point.
You think that people just stay in their lanes.
I think that what happens is, when are you just going to happen upon a different point of view? And coming back to television, my worry is what is it meant for? And ultimately, at TV’s very best, is it not a time where me, my dad, my sister, my son will gather together and happen upon something?
Right, right. Well, that only happens now in sports and news. Like think of the debate, which was 100 million people or something like that.
There you go, yeah.
Sports, people do. Olympics, say, or something like that. And major news events. That’s pretty much all that’s left.
And award shows. But I don’t know if that’s a great thing. I don’t know if we should be very proud of ourselves.
What do we do? It’s the way it is in a lot of ways.
I get it. But I’m saying I think we should have a slight feeling of “Oh ...”
Have we taken those moments? Have we taken the season finale of “Friends”? So ultimately what happens — or the season finale of “Seinfeld” or “The West Wing” — and what happens is, I go, “Oh my god, did you see it?” And you go, “No, I’m on episode 11. Don’t tell me what happened.” Okay, let’s not talk anymore.
And my hunch is, outside of Netflix, what will happen is people will ultimately just start scheduling things the same way as television. Now they will live all week, but it will be this episode airs now. Because what you realize is you need that sort of social media buzz, you need that thing ...
Oh, I don’t know, I think people like bingeing. I think they like it.
Well then why …
My mother’s in her 80s; she loves bingeing.
Take Amazon, for example. With a show like “The Grand Tour,” which they’ve paid a huge amount of money for, and they’re going to put up every Friday night at 9 o'clock.
Because they’re trying that. They’re trying to see if that’s what people will do, but then with “Transparent,” they just released the whole season.
Yeah, but you need ... if you run a service like that, you need to …
Keep people coming back.
... keep generating buzz. So what happens is, if it’s gone in a weekend, woof, it’s gone. You’re trending for six hours and then, poof, gone.
Yeah, which is a Netflix thing.
And then how do you just keep ... so …
That might not be their goal.
What do you mean?
That might not be Amazon’s goal at all. They could be selling Echos, they could be selling devices.
But surely the goal is to keep you in so that everything you get is from here.
Yes it is, but I don’t if they necessarily ... they have you coming back for everything. Like right now with Amazon, they’re delivering everything to you and they have the Echo.
Sure, but new subscriptions is the key.
And how many countries is Amazon is right now?
I don’t know. Lots. A lot. Not as many as you think, but a lot, a lot of countries. But I don’t think that …
I bet it’s less than 20.
I think they’re not trying …
I don’t know. Should we have a look?
I don’t know. I don’t actually know. It’s probably more than 20.
You reckon? How much do you want to bet on it?
[laughs] I don’t want to bet anything. I should know this.
No, you don’t have to know that.
Yeah, no, I’ve been covering them since they started so …
Hang on ... yeah, I can’t find anything.
Ah, did Google not help you?
[laughs] I like how you look up everything.
Oh, it’s the best, isn’t it?
I know it is. There’s never an answer that can’t be unanswered. That’s how dinner parties go now. No one can possibly just have something just hanging in the air. Someone has to look it up.
Yeah, because otherwise it’s just a massive “you’re right ... I’m right and you’re wrong.”
So you don’t consider yourself a techie, you don’t.
You seem rather adept at it.
I haven’t updated my iPhone.
Yeah, what do you have, the 6? Don’t get the 7.
No, no, yes, I don’t know which one it is.
6 — that’s the 6.
Yes, I haven’t updated it.
So what do you use on the internet? What do you use regularly? For example, you use Snapchat.
Not very much.
Not very much. So you’re not getting the glasses.
I’ve seen them. I’ve tried them on. Have you seen them?
Yes, I have.
They’re good. They’re interesting.
Yeah, they’re interesting. It’s interesting that Google Glass didn’t work and these might, actually.
Yeah, well, we’ll see.
They’re appropriately silly.
They came by our office.
I’m sure. They want you to put them on and take some videos.
Yeah. So we might do something like that. Snapchat, I get it, I dig it, I think it’s fun.
Yeah, you’re probably too old for it, sorry to say.
Fourteen is about the age of usage.
I think it could ... can I throw something your way?
Sure, please do.
What do you think of this? I think it should be the law [KS laughs] that no child can have a social media account under the age of 12.
Oh, well it kind of is, actually. You’re not supposed to use Facebook or Snapchat until you’re 13.
Yeah, so why are we not locking up parents and throwing away the key?
Yeah, we’re not.
It’s not a real law.
No, it’s not, but that is actually the rules at both those services.
No, I know that they’re the rules.
So why do you think that? Explain why you think that.
Because I feel like before anything else we should learn human interaction.
Right, instead of staring at screens.
We should learn that interaction first. In a way of, you know, you have to walk before you can run.
Right. So how old are your children?
My son is 5 and my daughter’s 2.
How adept are they? Interested.
Yeah, my son is very adept on the iPad, can see his way around.
So you don’t want him to have those social medias. But why don’t you want them to have that?
I don’t mind him having them when he’s older. I just think up until the age of 12 you should ... it should be something that happens when you’re a teenager, you know? And I don’t think it’s something that should happen when you haven’t fully formed who you are or what you are and what you stand for.
Yeah, bullying is an interesting thing. Everybody at some point on whatever level, however big or small the gradient, have been bullied or have been the victim of bullying. When I was at school, I remember saying something very, very awful to someone at school and then I remember the feeling to this day of going, “Ah, that didn’t feel nice.” Seeing the impact of that — “I should probably not do that again.” And that doesn’t happen on your screen. You just go, “Well, I’ve written that out and I feel fantastic! I feel great!” [KS laughs] “This is wonderful! Look how smart I am!”
And there are no consequences.
And you will never, ever see the consequences of that, and you might start to form habits in yourself that you don’t want as an adult because you haven’t found who you are.
All right. I don’t know if I fully agree with you because I think it’s just, again, it’s water under the bridge in a lot of these things and we have to figure out how to …
How depressing is that? You can’t just keep saying, “Well, the ship has already sailed ...”
No, no, no, here’s what I can say …
… “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
Of course there’s something you can do about it.
No, because you’re looking at it as if they’re necessarily all negative elements, that everything about these technologies are negative, and I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s …
I’m not saying that. I’m saying that I think they are hugely positive. I think that they’re incredible, in the same way that I think having a beer is fantastic. I think it’s wonderful. I’ve had some of the best nights of my life drinking vodka, but you’re not going to give it to your 9-year-old daughter, and there’s a reason for that, because you go, “This is a substance you can only enjoy when you’re mentally prepared to take this onboard.” And I believe that social media is that powerful. And I’m not saying it should be 16, 17 but …
No, no, I get that, I get your point. But what I wonder about is how we teach people to use these things. I think what it comes down to is that we just aggregate the fact ... and they’re actually addictive — I have teenagers; I understand. They’re hugely addictive is the problem. And it’s very pleasing because you’re always ... I was with my son the other day and he was using the phone and I said,”Put it down, put it down.” I’m very much a put-it-down person. And he said, “I'm just looking at one thing.” I said, “There’s always something on there.”
Like it never ends. There’s always an answer, an entertainment, a game.
Well, then, that argument people used to make about television.
That thing of if you watch it long enough, your eyes are going to …
But yeah, I just think, I just think …
It’s an interesting idea.
I just think children are ... I think an innocence in children is really important. And there’s a long way to go.
So what would you do to parents? What could you ... I mean Silicon Valley, in a way, you could compare them to manufacturers of any other addictive substance, essentially. They would not want that to happen, but how would you enforce that?
Let’s say Facebook found an account in a child’s name, which is under the age of 12, then you just shut it down. And then if it starts up again ... and, like, if you are under that age you can’t even register to get one. So then let’s say you make up your own age, and I just think, like, look, you’re never going to be able to police it, in the same way that I had my first cigarette when I was 14. You’re never going to be able to police it, but if people knew, if parents knew, oh, that’s the law, you’re not allowed to do it, if they even knew that. And if schools, schools enforced …
Yeah, as my son’s school does. So any child found with a social media account, they are ... so you get one strike and then it’s serious.
Yeah, or a phone in school and stuff like that.
But that’s not all schools.
No, absolutely. Because kids have become facile with these things. So what other digital media do you use?
What do you mean?
Do you use an iWatch? Do you use the Fitbits?
My iWatch was handed down to me from my grandfather, my great-grandfather, and my grandfather before that [KS laughs] and so I just like to keep it very safe in a drawer. No, I’ve tried the iWatch. My wife’s into it. Yeah, I don’t know if I want to know that I’ve got a text from my mate Andy whilst I’m having this conversation.
And this I can just turn it over and put it there and it’s gone a bit. But I do get it as a piece of kit, I think it’s …
Do you use VR at all? Or drones?
Drones. Do you know what? A drone flew over my house the other day …
Oh, they were probably taking a picture of you.
… and just hovered over our garden, and I was in the garden with my wife, my children, my mum. And we were like ... it flew over and then came back …
Yeah, they’re taking pictures of you.
But then we were like, “Is that ...?” And I went out in my car to try and find …
Right, the drone person.
Yeah. I mean shocking, no?
So why are we all right with this?
Some people are, some people ... there’s laws being ... you know, Britain is actually moving very fast forward with these as delivery drones especially.
The delivery drones worry me a little bit.
Well, Britain is way fast forward on this compared to the U.S. in approving them because they want the startups to move there, to be doing this.
I see. Yeah, it worries me a little.
Why are you worried about delivery drones?
I just worry ... [KS laughs] that my daughter is playing in the garden one day and …
A drone falls on her head?
Yeah. Like …
There’s no way that’s not going to happen at some point.
Yeah. You don’t want to hear about Uber’s new vertical planes taking off then, I guess.
Oh interesting. Yeah, go on, what is it?
They’re working on a project, they’re called Avello or something like that, vertical lift and takeoff, or landing and takeoff. Vertical landing and takeoff. They’re vehicles that you can use in cities where you just take off. It’s not a helicopter. It has multi-blades, and it just will go ... say if you’re in Oakland, you go right to San Francisco, you land on the top of the building ...
Great, I love that. It’s about time.
You can have multiple passengers.
It’s about time.
They’re like a helicopter.
Because oddly, air travel has gone back while the whole world has gone forward. Air travel took their fastest plane, which is the Concorde, and were like, “Yeah, we’re going to retire that now.” There’s been sort of no movement in air travel.
Well, there’s been space. There’s been Elon Musk going to space. Jeff Bezos wants to go to space.
Yeah, no, I mean like airplanes.
So drones you don’t like. Do you like robot concierges?
Not so much.
Yeah, if you’re at a hotel, it’ll walk up to you and say, “Hi, what would you like for lunch?”
No. I’d much rather a person.
A person, all right, a person. That’s a big deal. You’re going to have robot concierges at all hotels very soon.
Yeah, I doubt I’ll be interacting with them very much. [KS laughs] Like I would definitely rather a person. I’d always rather a person. I don’t even like internet banking. I’d much rather just talk to someone.
Yeah, that’s done, too, I’m sorry to tell you [laughs].
Well, it’s not. It’s actually not. So the bank I’m a member in London, Metro Bank, pride themselves on the fact that you can call them at any time, and they are growing so much faster than any other bank in the United Kingdom. Because I don’t really want …
To be online.
Yeah. I also don’t necessarily want to know that that information’s just out there, that I can just have a password. Tell me this about passwords ... passwords annoy me.
Yes, they are annoying.
When they say ... when I’ll put in a password and my phone will say, “Yeah, that password’s too weak, you can’t have that.” I’m like, how can you possibly know?
Because they know.
Algorithms. They know, they can tell. People have like 20 passwords …
I don’t want 20 passwords. I just want one!
Right, but they can guess them very easily.
Who is they?
Right, but what is …
I’m not even going to get into artificial intelligence with you because it’s going to freak you out.
No, but what is the problem? So now I’ve got passwords that I can’t remember.
[laughs] So let the password maker make it for you. I’ll text you about this later.
But then what happens is ... so then people are like, “Well, it’s not secure.” I’ll tell you what’s not secure — me writing down my passwords for Uber on a piece of paper and keeping it in my jeans!
Then get 1Password and it will generate passwords that are already in the cloud for you and then they’ll just come down.
Don’t talk to me about this cloud either.
Okay, I’m not going to do this. [laughs]
The way people talk about this cloud, like it’s a cloud …
It’s a cloud!
It isn’t a cloud.
It’s a cloud, it’s a cloud. I’m sorry to …
Do you know what a cloud is?
Can I ask ... you know, you’ve been in the cloud for a decade. How long have you had email?
But it’s not a cloud!
Email is the cloud.
But it’s not a physical cloud!
No, it’s not a physical cloud. It’s a digital cloud.
It’s a load of hardware on an island somewhere. So when people go ... so what do you mean? What’s it stored on?
On lots of servers everywhere. They’re replicated everywhere.
But not a cloud, let’s be clear.
Well, yes, okay.
But it isn’t!
Okay, all right, not a cloud.
Because you know what a cloud is.
Yes, okay. Not an actual cloud.
It’s a metaphoric word …
… for what it is.
And what it makes people feel is …
Well, it’s not in here. It’s not a physical device.
It’s on an island somewhere where anyone can access it, which is clear from endless hacks that happen.
Yes, that’s true. The Russians are always in your things.
People are putting in their Ashley Madison passwords, feeling like, “Well, it’s in the cloud!”
I’m so sorry you got caught up in that.
Yeah, right. But it’s in the cloud.
But people can steal things from your house or a bank, too, if it’s physically ... if you had a backpack full of gold that you brought in today, for example. Anyone could steal it at any time.
Sure, but it’s with me, so I’m not keeping it on a cloud.
Yes, but …
And also, let’s not call it a cloud [KS laughs]. Let’s call it the hard drive island, because immediately then it tells people …
Owned by Richard Branson or something.
… it’s not in the sky, it’s not untouchable by people. It absolutely is. Someone is monitoring it every day.
The whole point of the cloud metaphor is that you can get it from anywhere to any device. You don’t have to store it on your device.
I think it’s not that. I think you call it a cloud to give people a feeling of, well, no one can get into a cloud.
We’re going to finish up, but we’re not going to talk about artificial intelligence. And I’m not going to tell you about the interview we had with Elon Musk where he talked about the fact that artificial intelligence is getting so smart that it’s going to eliminate all jobs and that computers in the best case scenario are going to treat us like house cats someday. That the computers are going to be so smart, super intelligence is going to happen so quickly on these computers that they’ll have a talk show host. The computer will be able to make a talk show host.
Oh, I’m sure they could make a far better one than I.
[laughs] Cause they’ll know.
My worry is that then, ultimately ... my only worry with this is that people talk about it like it’s great.
Yes, I agree. Elon does not. Elon is worried.
And the point is, so then, right ... okay, let’s just take the very thing we’re here for, which is just ultimately at some point have sex and recreate the human race.
What people are talking about when they do that, take away jobs, then you take away self-esteem and purpose, and why do you then …
Unless we wonder around and make poetry and art all the time and have sex and eat. And then the computers do everything for us.
‘Cause someone’s going to find a way where you’re going to owe them money. ‘Cause in the history of the world, that’s always happened.
Or everybody has universal basic income. That’s a big deal in Silicon Valley right now.
Yeah, but universal basic income, if Silicon Valley is talking that ... which is, from what I can work out, a lot of companies who try to avoid paying tax as much as they can ... [KS laughs]
It’s just Apple.
It’s not just …
No, I know.
You know, that unfortunately sounds like spin to me.
I’m just …
No, it’s just going to be universal social …
No, that’s what they’re saying in Silicon Valley.
So what are you starting this for? We’re talking about a group of people that within 12 months will value their companies at billions of dollars and rightly so. Rightly so, some of them. Because I believe that they’re changing the world. It’s brilliant. And I think change and evolution is wonderful, it’s fantastic.
But you don’t know if it’s always …
But like, let’s all just take half a step. Just take a breath. Hang on, do we really want to do it? Let’s just play it out. Because it feels like sometimes it’s a “build now, decide later.”
I would agree with that. I think we’re all engaged in a version of WALL-E. You know what I mean?
And a version of, “Well, they did that, so we should do this. Well, they’re doing that, so we should do this. If they do that, we don’t want to be left behind. We don’t want to be guys that are left behind.” It’s like, don’t worry about it. I wish everyone would just take a [inhales, exhales]. What do you really want to do? Because let’s not forget a third of the world don’t have water.
So let’s figure that out. Let’s take a second and go, rather than thinking about your vertical space ship, let’s give everybody clean water. Once everyone’s got …
Let me just be fair — there are startups doing that in Silicon Valley. It's a big new focus. So are self-driving cars, which will save gas and eliminate car ownership.
I think self-driving cars are going to be a brilliant thing, I really do.
Refiguring out how to do food distribution and everything is another big thing. It’s starting with stupid stuff, but eventually ... they aren’t doing totally stupid stuff.
In all of this, there’s going to be people doing great, great things. Like, but water, I think, is a real big one.
I always say Silicon Valley is a lot of really smart people thinking up trivial things, at this point. And great minds should be thinking of great things.
Jerry Seinfeld did a great bit about the people who got rid of seedless watermelons. [KS laughs] And he did a bit where he’s like, “Which scientist is going, ‘People are dying, cancer, AIDS, leukemia, yeah, but this, that’s got to stop.’” And so …
And yet, how enjoyable is a seedless watermelon.
Not for me. Not for me. Because I want my watermelon to be pure.
[laughs] We’ve got to end. I’m not even going to ask you about Twitter. By the way, I really liked your …
You can ask me about Twitter.
All right, do you like Twitter?
I liked your Kim tweet the other day. I like Kim quite a bit. She’s been on our stages and our show quite a bit because …
Irrespective of that …
No, I was saying I really was glad you said it. Because people were going nuts.
Yeah, it’s ... I just looked on Twitter and saw that Kim Kardashian was trending. I was like, “Oh, I wonder what’s happened.” You know, I have a talk show that I have an hour of stuff to do every day. And you see that someone’s been held at gunpoint and tied up and thrown in a bath, and all I can think is that just must be utterly terrifying. I cannot for the life of me imagine what that would feel like. I don’t know anyone that that’s ever happened to. I don’t even know Kim Kardashian. I met her, I don’t know her. And then I just, as I scrolled through the thing on Twitter, I just saw ...
Yeah, I know. It was vomit.
Horrific stuff, where I’m like, “This is a mother and a human being and a wife and a friend.” And if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say it. You can keep your opinion, but at this moment, five hours after the story’s been released, just take a breath and go …
… “I don’t need to write that. What good can come of that?”
Well, welcome to Donald Trump. He’s the first Twitter candidate, presidential candidate. Which is hair-trigger, whatever’s on your mind at three in the morning.
Yeah. And so my point ... and then even then I was like ... I was getting people going, “Aren’t you supposed to be a comedian?” Which I’m not and never, never said I am. “How can you say that about people making jokes?” And I’m like, look, I get it. Being offended I think is one of the worst things that we as humans, with no interest in Silicon Valley, being offended is one of the worst things we’ve created as a human race. Like, I wholeheartedly withhold the rights to offend and be offended, and that’s fine. And both are fine. You’re offended in the way that you’re hungry. But there’s a different thing …
Than just enjoying, the enjoyment in the fact that someone’s had a gun held to their head in their own ... in an apartment in Paris and tied up and thrown in a bath and robbed.
I would agree, but I think Twitter is the id of the human race. You know what I mean? It’s just the id. It’s whatever occurs to people, and to me Trump is actually the personification of that. The actual, if you think about it. It’s id, not superego. It’s not an ego, it’s id. It’s pure. And then people just type it and like you were saying, there are no consequences.
Yeah. And that’s the point. Like there’s no sense of right or wrong.
But you use Twitter, right?
Yeah, I’m a big fan of it. Look, I think it’s brilliant. I love ... like I find 140 characters genius. ‘Cause it’s …
It’s all you need.
Well, yeah. And like, shut up. Just make your point and shut up. And that’s fine. I think it’s great. I think it’s a brilliant medium. I think it’s a wonderful thing. And I don’t even mind that sort of thing because I just think it’s ... yeah.
Well, you could go with ... well, I don’t agree with this but, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That’s what sometimes Twitter says. “It’s not us, it’s not the platform.” But to me the platform is made to create anger and hate very easily. To manufacture it.
Yeah, but that’s up to us, as people.
That's right, but once you get the tool, how do you stop people from doing it? That’s the difficult thing.
Yeah, but then you’re going back to education. Then you’re going back to something far deeper than that. Which is ultimately, then you're going back into the minds and hearts of children when they’re 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Right, but when you watch a presidential candidate doing it daily, on a daily basis and winning, it’s disturbing.
Yeah, but this is my point. But then you’ve got to go back to that and you've got to go back to … like you cannot ... it is impossible, it’s impossible to love someone too much. You can’t do it. And I fully have the feeling that if you kill people with kindness ... there was a woman the other day on Twitter. I had like an hour to spare; I was waiting between a thing. And a woman tweeted, “I hate” — used the word hate — “I hate that fat, talentless, egotistical, unfunny idiot James Corden.” And @ed me on it.
She @ed you — that’s like …
She @ed me. And I was like, “Wow, that's intense.” So I looked at her profile, and she had a thing called, I forget what it’s called, like a vegan website with recipes. And I was like, there’s two things I can do here. I can either ... well, three things. I can ignore it, which is what you’d normally do. I can engage in it, which is stupid. Or I can just absolutely put my arms around it. And so I just put out some tweets with a link to her website, going, “If anyone’s interested in some amazing vegan recipes, this is incredible. Really great recipes.”
And what did she do?
And then someone put, “How much do you get paid for that?” I said, “I’m not paid a penny. I’m just saying, really, really great recipes. Fantastic.” And then every few hours I would look at her Twitter and she just uploaded, “Point taken, I shouldn’t say bad things about people I haven’t met.” [KS laughs]
I like that.
And that’s it. You will only educate people by loving them and showing them another way.
Yeah, that’s true. I like your style.
That’s all there is to it. You’ve just got to say, “There’s another way, it doesn’t have to be like this.”
Yeah, I call people when they start ... because I can find them. I’m good at finding them. And then they’re shocked. Or you respond to them.
Yeah, but I would just go straight up kill them with kindness.
Well, I like that, James, I like that.
Just because …
We’re not even going to get into VR now. We don’t have time to talk about that [laughs].
All I keep thinking about is that girl, the only thing that makes me smile, is that friends of hers go, “Oh my god, did you see James tweeted the link to your website, that’s amazing! Isn’t that incredible? Why did he do that?!” And then at some point she has to go, “Well, I, um, I ...” You know?
“I am firm in my belief of his talent fatness.” [laughs]
Yeah, so you know, it’s fun. I like it.
All right, you keep killing them with kindness and next time we’ll talk about VR and “Carpool Karaoke” and VR, which could be disturbing and fantastic at the same time.
It sounds a little dangerous, but I’m all for trying it.
It does, but you’re going to have to do it next year.
Well, Reggie, who’s on my show, runs our band, he’s just the coolest person you could ever meet. You should get him on this show. ‘Cause he is straight up front and center, anything new, anything hot, anything great. And he’s well into VR.
Yeah, and haptics. I’m not even going to go into haptics with you.
I’ve never even heard that word before.
It touches you back. VR with touching.
Now it sounds like a party! [laughs]
[laughs] We’ll end on that note. Thank you, James, this has been great.
It’s really fun and you have lots to say about a lot of things [laughs]. I’m still laughing.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.