Exclusive interview with Josh Widdicombe
Sarah Marsh talks to Josh Widdicombe about gigging with Michael McIntyre, future plans and why comedians are insecure.
Monday 20 February 2012
Josh Widdicombe is heading for mainstream success. In 2010 he was named FHM Stand Up Hero and last year the rising-star narrowly missed out on the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Best Newcomer award, but despite his achievements, the comedian from Devon is still expecting everything to go wrong.
"I have worked really hard, but I am anticipating a massive disaster around the corner. One day soon it will come back and bite me,” he says.
Widdicombe’s career took off after his first show in 2008. Four years later he has achieved a lot in an industry Michael McIntyre struggled to break into for nearly a decade.And the doe-eyed comic with his characteristic moppy hair has been dubbed a British Jerry Seinfeld because of his love of sly irony.
However, the 28-year-old is surprisingly hard on himself. He doesn’t think he has always been funny and only got into comedy because he “couldn’t handle working in an office”.
“I really didn’t think anything would come out of doing stand-up,” he says.
“Obviously I have a laugh or I wouldn’t have thought I would try comedy, but I hope I am not the annoying guy who is always trying to be funny.”
For someone who has supported comedy greats such as Stephen Merchant, Michael McIntyre and Alan Carr, Widdicombe is refreshingly down to earth.
“The weird thing is I have now met quite a lot of people who are really famous but they are always disappointingly normal and nice,” he says.
“Alan Carr is very nice indeed. Exactly how you would expect him to be, and not that different from how he is on stage.”
The young comedian also has high praise for Michael McIntyre, grateful for the advice the comedy legend gave him the night before Live at the Apollo. “He told me what to be aware of because TV recording is a different experience and I didn’t really know what I was getting into.”
Currently,Widdicombe is in the middle of hisSpring Tour of the UK, and he will be performing at the Soho Theatre in London later this week.
Do different parts of the UK laugh at different things? Widdicombe doesn’t think so, although he admits that, even if they did, he has one showand he just does what he does wherever he goes.
“The show at the moment is basically just an hour of stand-up that I hope is really funny,” he says.
“The best gig of the tour so far has been Barton upon Humber because it was during the snow and it was one of those situations where we thought no one was going to turn up because, well, I wouldn’t come through the snow to watch me. But people did turn up and then, I thought, this is going to be the best fun I have ever had.”
“There was also a pingpong table in the dressing room which was the highlight of the tour,” he jokes.
And what inspires the comedian who grew up in a rural village on the southcoast? Widdicombe finds content for his shows in things that annoy him. “I get annoyed a lot with things. I find life quite difficult, so I think I have to channel that somewhere, so at least I try to get some stuff out of it.”
Giving an example Widdicombe says: “Well I am currently staying at a hotel and I have just missed breakfast because it starts very early. That is a constant annoyance for someone who spends a lot of time in hotels.”
The young comic is also an accomplished writer and has written for shows such as Mock The Week and 8 Out of 10 Cats - although it isn’t always something he enjoys.
“I enjoy writing but I wouldn’t want to do it all the time because generally you are not writing about things you want to write about. I am not really interested in Nick Clegg and David Cameron but end up writing ten jokes about them because I have to,” he says.
However, the job does have its perks because it means he can spend time with other comedians who “are just as mental as people in offices.”
“There is a myth that comedians are oddballs and outcasts but I think that they put that view around to make themselves sound more interesting than they are,” he resolves.
When asked about what the future holds Widdicombe reverts to pessimism again:“I am really enjoying touring at the moment and I just want to do more of that really, and play bigger venues. That is an exciting thing. When you say you want to do this and that, you are just setting yourself up for a fall or disappointment if it doesn’t happen,” he says.
It seems to me that the comedian’s cynicism and reluctance to applaud his own success could be down to insecurity. After all, he thinks most comedians are insecure. Why? “Because you make yourself be judged every day. That can only lead to a path of madness.”
Josh Widdicombe is touring the UK this Spring including 4 nights at London's Soho Theatre (22nd – 25th February) For full details please visit www.joshwiddicombe.co.uk
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