“Only sleep gets me back in shape”

Portuguese comedian Nilton, who is also host of several TV and radio programs, says that he only experiences “good-type insomnia, when ideas don’t stop coming” to him. Despite getting little sleep, he says that only sleep gets him back in shape.


Is the “I love you” sketch [a practical joke in which the comedian holds a camera and goes to people in the street, repeatedly saying “I love you” in a monochord tone] becoming part of the national culture? What was the worst reaction? And the best one?
The worst was when I was punched in Porto. The best was… all others.

What if it was “I want to sleep with you” instead?
It would be worse. Many people thought that “I love you” was already bold enough.
Have you written comedy texts related with sleep? Which ones come to your mind?
I have played with it many times. Especially when I became a father. Both times [laughing]. I always say to pregnant women in the shows to sleep before the baby is born.

What is the pinnacle of black humor? And what if it would involve sleep…?
As the name implies, black humor is about being able to play with whatever we want. If I was to apply it to sleep, it would be not sleeping and not even missing it.

Many politicians claim to function on few hours of sleep. Should we assume it affects their decision making?
It depends on the capacity that each one has to deal with the lack of sleep. But it may be the explanation for the last thirty years.

Former Greek Minister Yanis Varoufakis confessed that he slept two hours every day for five months while he was minister
And all to no avail…

Vladimir Putin said that, whenever he is asleep, today’s Prime Minister Medvedev stays awake and this is how they manage to govern a large country with many different time zones. Is it just a gag or does it contain some truth?
Oh, I thought they were both sleeping. It is the beginning of the multinationals’ call centers. That’s why they so often have Indian accent.

What do you think about the expression the God does not sleep?
Completely wrong. I lived in the Algarve and found that if I was to walk from the Algarve to Faro I would be entitled to the same miracle I would be if I started from Ourém, which is 10 kms from Fátima. If he does not sleep, he doesn’t perform his work very well.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because of a strange phone call?
Many times. The record is six hours straight trying to have a good call.

You said in an interview that sleep should be optional… Yes. I think it is a waste that a person should lose 8 hours in a 24-hour day. It should not be necessary and everyone should do what one pleases during these eight hours.

Do you only sleep four hours a night as you have said in other interviews? Don’t you recover at weekends?
I sleep on average five hours and I can function. I am fortunate to easily get into deep sleep (it was the best explanation that a doctor gave me and I thought that for 100 euro I should accept it as reliable). I do not recover at weekends because I work even more than during the week.

Have there been times when you felt that sleep was good counsellor? To what extent did it help you?
I have felt that I need to sleep. I feel too tired and only sleep gets me back in shape. I feel that often, but unfortunately I am not always able to do it. I have eight jobs. My company, the shows, the radio, television, my wife, my two children and having to go to the Finances to pay my taxes. Of course I have no time to sleep.

Have you ever had insomnia? Are you an “owl” or a “lark”? I rarely do. I have only had good-type insomnia, in which ideas don’t stop coming to me. I fall asleep quickly. 

Do you remember any amusing personal or professional history related with sleep or lack thereof?
I remember having changed the name of the land in which I was acting because I was obviously tired. I did a radio show that day. I recorded a program for SIC and drove 250 kilometers. I was up since six a.m., it was past midnight and after an hour and a half on stage, I thanked the wrong land for the sympathy I was being received with. I went past it with a joke, but still some people noticed.

Can you tell us a fantasy dream you had?
Just yesterday I dreamed I actually lived in a country.