Would you agree a sense of daftness has influenced your comedy?
Yes, when it’s all around you when you’re growing up you are bound to be shaped by it.
I think people from the north have a great sense of humour about everyday things, and because that constantly surrounds you it gradually insinuates itself into your subconscious as you learn from your contemporaries and your mum, dad and extended family. I always say that life is a comedy-drama.
I always wanted to do a TV programme where I find someone on the street , someone who looks interesting for one reason or another and say to them ‘Tell us your story. How did you get here, to where you are today?”, because I honestly believe that everyone’s got an interesting story full of comedy and drama even though they quite often don’t think they have.
What material will you have on the new tour?
It’s sprung out of the last tour and I’ve called it Words Don’t Come Easy because at the core of the show is the use and abuse of the English language; abuse that’s happening more often in all walks of life.
I include Politician “speak”, police “speak”, news headlines, song lyrics and of course hospital “speak” and the strange and different language they use in there - ‘Have you passed a stool?’ ‘I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention, is that one over there? It’s sort of Rattan? No, it’s a coffee table…’.
And text “speak”, which I absolutely detest; I’ve got friends who are 50+ and use it all the time because as my friend June says “It’s quicker”. No! Not for me it isn’t!! It takes me ages to figure out what she means; I need one of those Enigma machines to decipher it.
All this LOL rubbish that’s been superseded by ALOL for ‘actually laughing out loud’. My friends send me messages I can’t decipher, so I send a message back with all the correct spelling and punctuation, to give them the hint, and they reply with something like ‘Soz, c u 2moz’! which apparently means , “Sorry see you Tomorrow” but how can “oz” mean “orry” and “orrow” . It’s lazy nonsense.
And you have a ‘niceness’ in your act, unlike some current comics
I’m just being me actually and I am of the opinion that there’s no need for cruelty in comedy. Some say you have to have a target, but I don’t agree; life’s funny enough as it is, why would you pick out personalities and have a go, which these comics do a lot? They pick out individuals and try to shock with their cruel, personal “gags” when they don’t actually know the target but do know that they are powerless to defend themselves so it’s all a bit cheap and easy as well.
Did working in a medical laboratory, where you had to do tests on animals, and once walked in on colleagues playing cricket with live mice, make you a big supporter of animal welfare?
I suppose it did; at the time, you just get on with it. I did what I had to do, and I needed a job, but I think it’s all part of a big jigsaw that makes you up. But I’ve never forgotten about it, and I can see it all as clearly as when it happened.
What are you working on at the moment?
The stand-up show, which is very much on my mind, as I don’t want to take it out on the road without it being polished.
I also recently did a show on BBC Radio Lancashire called Words Don’t Come Easy, based on song lyrics and deconstructing them. Stupid song lyrics, like Neil Diamond’s I Am, I Said, where he says ‘And no-one heard at all, not even the chair’.
They won’t pay attention, chairs, that’s part of the problem. And later in that song, he sings ‘Did you ever read about the frog who dreamed of being a king, and then became one?’. No I didn’t, Neil.
You’ve had a big career change and done lots of different things in your life - why is that?
My dad was a big influence - he changed careers and became a psychiatric nurse, then a social worker. He taught me to be a nothing ventured, nothing gained sort of person. You’ve got to take those opportunities as they come along.
Do you think being a comic based outside London has helped you?
I think it has. I never wanted to go down to London as I was happy where I was; I’d started late in comedy so I was quite settled, and I was happy to go around the few comedy clubs in the north and try them out.
Later people said that I needed to be based in London because all the television execs and the big agents are down there and I would miss opportunities otherwise and that is absolutely true but on balance I was happy where I was, After all, I get a great deal of my inspiration from my surroundings, and by the people who inhabit that world.