The QI comedian talks family, touring and never resting on your laurels…
The opening minutes are vital
Any gig is all about establishing a rapport with the audience. It has to go beyond your material, otherwise you’re just a monologist. You go on stage empty-handed – like a karate expert – and have to find the audience. So you might start by talking to them about their town and towns nearby, then get everyone to agree on what is the most rubbish village in the area. That’s one way of getting people to offer things up.
The audience cause me pain!
I’ve started asking audience members when they were born, but that’s not always a good idea. I’m 47 years old, so when they say: ‘1998’, I feign physical pain. But I have to admit I’m not always feigning.
Dad inspired the name of my most recent tour
The title Little Victories comes from me trying to get my dad to eat blackcurrant jam. He has a limited palate. He thinks Indian food would make him ill – it drove us mad as children. He has just decided that he doesn’t like certain things. We had plenty of jam at home – strawberry, raspberry, apricot – it was jam a go-go. But he would refuse to eat blackcurrant jam, the finest of all the currants. So we set him a trap, and that’s one of the routines in the show. It’s a classic Little Victory.
These days children are worshipped
Look at those parents who send pictures of their children as Christmas cards. We were house-hunting recently, and we saw a house that must have contained 200 framed photos of the owners’ children. Really? Those frames cost a bit, too!
Never rest on your laurels
Good comedians never come off the stage punching the air and shouting: ‘I rule, baby!’ They say: ‘That was OK.’ Recently, I met the magician David Copperfield who does 600 shows a year. He told me:
‘I’m never satisfied with my performance. I always think I could have done it better.
I still get a kick out of touring
I don’t find it arduous at all. It’s that or a 17-hour day looking after toddlers, which is much more difficult! Stand-up is a doddle comparatively. You go around the country making people laugh. It’s a really nice thing to do. I was talking to the comedian Rich Hall recently. He’s 60 and still enjoys touring. I don’t find it arduous at all. It’s that or a
17-hour day looking after toddlers, which is much more difficult!
Stand-up is a doddle comparatively. You go around the country making people laugh. It’s a really nice thing to do. I was talking to the comedian Rich Hall recently. He’s 60 and still enjoys touring.