Lembit Opik prepares for stand-up comedy gig

Ex-MP Lembit Opik said today he wanted to see whether stand-up comedy was "like being an MP but a bit funnier" as he prepared for his first gig.

The Liberal Democrat earned a quirky image thanks to his romantic ties with a Cheeky Girl, interest in meteorites and appearances on television comedy shows.

Now he is hoping to turn the "awesome shock" of losing his Montgomeryshire seat to the Tories on May 6 and other political experiences into a new career in entertainment.

Mr Opik accepted the gig, at the tiny Backstage Comedy Club in London, after a friend who comperes the night told him: "People are going to laugh at you anyway so why not get paid for it?

"You don't have to be a comic genius to see that my recent history writes itself as a comedy script and the challenge really is to see if comedy is something completely different to what I have done before or whether it is like being an MP but a bit funnier," he told reporters.

Mr Opik cited stars such as Ricky Gervais and Larry David as the sort of act he hoped to emulate.

And he joked that though he was being paid £115 for the spot - "somewhere between 15 and two minutes depending on how it goes" - his tax status, agent and travel meant it would cost him £37.

The ex-MP remained silent however when asked if he could claim it back on expenses.