By Michele Manelis
Let's start with the obvious question - the show is called 'Afterlife'- what are your beliefs on that subject?
I don't believe in any god and I don't believe in an after life. I think we've got 100 years of this life, if we're lucky - and that's what makes life so much more precious because it is finite. We create our morality so we can live together and morality was around before religion. Religion is 6000 years old and we've survived 200,000 years as humans. We're doing fine.
This show is also about suicide. Have you ever come close to a personal experience?
Well, I'm getting closer every day. Today is the closest I've ever been and tomorrow will be even closer. No, I don't suffer from depression. I don't think I'd ever top myself although I would if my quality of life went down. I'm a big supporter of voluntary euthanasia and I support death for dignity so certainly I'd go there if my life wasn't as good as it is - but at the moment it's all right.
Another cheery question - you play a depressed middle-aged man. How would you describe yourself?
I think I'm certainly a middle-aged man but I don't think I am depressed. I think I'm pretty happy all the time. I try to be fun all the time. I think from an early age I thought the point of life was to have fun every minute of the day and it was amazing that I found a job where I could do that. I think life is so exciting and short so I think having fun is everything.
Do you think telling the truth, even if it's nasty, is a good thing?
I think truth is everything. That doesn't mean you have to be rude. I think people make the mistake that if you say controversial, honest things or anything contentious that you're trying to hurt people's feelings. I am never trying to hurt feelings but I do believe that offence is collateral damage for free speech. It shouldn't be the target. It's too churlish.
How do you feel when you offend someone?
It's easy to offend. It's boring, so if someone is offended by something you say that you genuinely believe is true, that shouldn't be your problem. I'm human, I have my feelings hurt and I don't want to hurt others but some people are offended by truth because it's not convenient to them.
Are you afraid of losing your job by offending someone?
I can't lose my job because I am my boss. Listen, for everyone who likes you, someone hates you, and vice versa. If I don't break the law nothing can happen to me. People make mistakes by breaking the law usually and or breaking the rules of their company. I don't have a company. I can't break the rules of comedy. There aren't any. When people say, "You've crossed over the line." I always say, "I didn't draw a line. You did."
What makes you happy?
Dogs! Dogs, friends, wine, art, sport, exercise, all the usual things really. I don't have a dog because I travel too much. I covet other people's dogs. Me and my girlfriend go for walks in London or New York. We go out just so I can meet dogs. She says it's the best thing about me being famous because I can go up to any dog and they [owners] don't think I'm a mad man. They go, "Oh, it's the bloke off The Office."
What's special about dogs?
Dogs are magical. I love them. They make me happy. Probably just seeing a dog makes me happy. I do like all animals but dogs love me back.
When you started in this business it was through your love for music and not comedy, right?
Yes. It was over so quickly. I was 18 or 19 and I wanted to be a pop star.
Were you able to sustain yourself as a pop star or did you do a string of odd jobs?
Well I got signed and I got some money. It was great and then it was over in six months. Then I had to get a normal job so I lived two totally separate lives. The first job I got was a proper job where I worked in an office, which was what I based The Office on. I worked in an office for about nine years after I was a failed pop star. Then I started doing comedy.
Do you believe in therapy?
I do. Not for me. I've never done it but I think it probably works but I was brought up at a time in the world where sadly, we thought you shouldn't do it. That's the terrible thing, particularly as a man. It was, "Pull yourself together. Have a drink." Looking back, I realise that I didn't know if working class men were depressed or whether they were just drunk because that's how they coped with it. That's sad. I think therapy is probably a good thing but I've never done it because I'm very lucky that I've never needed it. It's just luck.
AFTERLIFE, NETFLIX, STARTS MARCH 8