The Geordie stand-up comedian will be hitting the stage at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall next week. He talks scripts, fire alarms at gigs and Harold Bishop from Neighbours.
Q: Your work isn’t exactly what you’d call structured. Is there any point in asking what people can expect from your new show, Tangentleman?
A: I think what I try and do is do the show that I would want to see if I went to see somebody live. I like to keep it interesting for the audience, and I like to keep it interesting for myself. I’m naturally playful in the way I approach life, and that’s what I try to bring to the shows.
Q: With a scripted show, comics will often leave their best material to the end. Do you ever worry that you might finish on something that doesn’t work?
A: That’s why my shows are so long. “No, that’s not good enough to end on. I’d better do another five minutes”. “Is that good enough? No. Five more”. But in terms of ending the show, I’ve probably started 10 different stories, so I’ve got to try and get back to them to wrap them all up. So the problem I normally have is remembering all the things I’ve started.
Q: Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and think “I didn’t finish that bit …”
A: Oh, all the time! The great thing about Twitter is that now people will just tweet me and go “You never finished talking about that thing …”
Very often I’m in the hotel bar or a Nandos or a petrol station the day after the gig, and someone will come up and go “I was at the show last night. What was that you were going on about?”
Q: You get really involved with the audience. Do people ever come up with something that throws you?
A: Yeah, all the time, but that’s the fun of it. Sometimes stuff happens that you think would completely ruin the show. For example, I did one gig where the fire alarm went off. The audience had to be evacuated.
But I went outside and just continued doing the gig while everyone was standing around.
And there was a little kid there, probably about 12, with the fire engines behind me, and got people to take pictures of me, so it looked like I was saving a child’s life.
Q: People have also taken to leaving items on stage during the interval that you interact with later on. What kind of stuff do they leave?
A: When people make stuff themselves, that’s amazing. The best one I ever had was somebody made me a proper suit made out of bubble wrap. And people leave vegetables that they’ve carved into the shape of my face, stuff like that.
Q: Is it really true that you once played the love interest to Ian Smith, aka Harold Bishop off Neighbours?
A: Yeah! A friend of mine who makes an Australian show called It’s a Date, a drama about people going on dates, suggested I co-wrote and starred in an episode.
Now, I could have chosen anyone to star with, instead I said “I know exactly what I want to do. I want to play a gay fella who’s on Grindr, looking for a guy, and he thinks he’s going to meet somebody who looks like Antonio Banderas.”
And my mate said “Right. And who would you be on the date with?” And I said “Ian Smith. Harold from Neighbours.” So I wrote the script and that was it.
Even as it was happening, I couldn’t get my head around the fact that Harold was my love interest.
Maybe one day it’ll get shown over here.