Boris’ confession: The challenge of being a clown

Boris Johnson has opened up about the stresses and strains of being perceived as a funny man.

Speaking on Night Waves on BBC Radio 3, the London mayor explained how he has to summon up bravery to play it straight when audiences are often waiting for him to play the bumbling buffoon.

"You turn up at an event and I can see people hungering for the birth of the joke – they are waiting like midwives or staff at an operating theatre for me to produce this thing and nothing comes out and they look absolutely baffled," he explained.

"I simply say something completely reasonable. They want the gag and the gag doesn't come because there isn't a gag sometimes.

"The answer to that is sometimes to have the wit to be dull… to dare to be dull."

Asked if he was concerned he was not seen as sufficiently serious for the job of prime minister, he answered: "I don't care about that. Being mayor is unbelievably full of difficult executive decisions.

"I really don't have enough time to worry about that kind of thing. I've got almost three more years as mayor… it's a long time, you can get a lot done in that period and I want to do that."

Johnson also suggested the public are disinterested in his personal life despite regular media stories about his two marriages, various affairs and a secret love child.

"My genuine experience is that no matter how much of this stuff gets in the public domain it doesn't really make any difference to what the public think you are doing," he said.

The mayor is widely tipped to make a move for the Tory leadership if David Cameron steps down.

Some polling suggests the public would balk at voting to put him in No 10, but his record at election time suggests he is capable of adopting a much more serious persona during election battles.

His fights for the mayoralty saw Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby embed a much more disciplined system into his campaign team and win two successive elections against Ken Livingstone.