Karl Pilkington: An Idiot’s Guide to Finding Your Vocation

In his latest TV series of The Moaning of Life, everyone’s favourite ‘idiot abroad’ journeys around the world to find the answers to some profound questions. Episode 4 sees Karl visit Japan, South Africa and LA in the hopes of finding his vocation despite him now being 40, and asking the big question: whether one needs a vocation at all?

The first pearl of wisdom that the Mancunian bestows upon us comes in the form of a little analogy. He explains that if you become a top brain surgeon then you would never be able to leave your job and thus concludes that, really, you should never be good at anything because it can hold you back. Hmm…

The first stop on Karl’s tour is Japan, where he meets an inventor as he hopes to see if he can realise his full potential in becoming a genius. This experience, unfortunately for Karl, involves a bizarre piece of headgear and some time spent under water. Deciding that his big head doesn’t necessarily hold a big brain, Karl concludes that the majority of people in the world are “numb-nuts” and so you should just do something useful.


Next, the funny-man joins a Benriya, or the Japanese Jack of all trades, who mends, cleans and even saves cats. Although Karl enjoys this work, he ponders that a vocation is usually something considered “arty or worthy”. He adds that people nowadays often take a job for the sake of its title and having something to brag to their mates about; whereas, in reality, a ‘Gastro Hygiene Attendant’ is someone that just washes pots.

He then meets South African Kenny and his business partner, who had worked their way up to living the highlife from humble beginnings in a shantytown. Upon experiencing a life of luxury our bald-headed friend establishes that people who don’t have jobs in the UK sit around on their arses all day; while those who do work hard, do so because they hope to one day be able to sit around on their arses all day – basically, everyone wants to sit around on their arises all day.

Lastly, Karl sets out to disprove the notion that in the USA, one can do any job they desire, it being the land of hopes and dreams. So he tries his hand at a bit of catwalk modeling. You should watch the programme just to see a kitted out Karl give the crowd a quick nod, before swaggering along the catwalk, mouth dangling open. Strangely enough though, the event organisers seem very happy with Karl’s newly discovered talents. This helps him to come to the conclusion that people should just have a bash at any opportunity that comes their way, otherwise you’ll never know if it’s your vocation or not.

Karl Pilkington’s humour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and you can’t help but wonder how much of his incessant rambling is just for show. His ideas are often discredited by a child-like imagination and very odd but comical analogies. However, you can’t deny that he touches on some interesting points and isn’t afraid to say what everyone else is thinking. In this case, he leaves you wondering whether we should chase dreams or rather do something that’s useful – a bit of both would be ideal, I think.

The lasting statement that he makes is quite a sweet one actually: grab all opportunities with both hands because you never know what might happen. Do you think Mr Pilkington touches on a few truths here?

Image available under a CC License from Rick Walker.