We meet Griff Rhys Jones as he talks travel in Folke­stone

Globe trot­ting com­edy great Griff Rhys Jones is talk­ing travel and he’s com­ing to Folke­stone to do it. He tells What’s On why he’s rel­ish­ing get­ting up on stage to share his tales

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - What's On - - WHAT'S ON -

Fol­low­ing his suc­cess­ful tour of Jones and Smith last year – his one-man, stand-up and story show about his part­ner, his un­timely death, their re­la­tion­ship and age­ing - Griff Rhys Jones is back on the road, ex­plor­ing the sub­ject of travel in Where Was I?

He’s sailed a boat to St Peters­burg and around the Med; trav­elled in Morocco, the Gala­pa­gos, In­dia and Aus­tralia, but mostly he has ven­tured out mak­ing TV pro­grammes, Great­est Cities, A Slow Train to Africa, In Search of the Black Rhino and Three Men In A Boat.

He’ll be tak­ing a look be­hind those “mak­ing of” snip­pets for the real truth about TV travel. He has rid­den “the train of death”, jumped from a burn­ing boat in the Gala­pa­gos, sat with tribal el­ders and been or­dered off their is­land, as well as climbed moun­tains and ab­seiled down wa­ter­falls, gone win­dow clean­ing on New York sky­scrapers with­out a safety rope and clam­bered through Manch­ester’s most de­mand­ing sew­ers. He’ll also be mus­ing on the na­ture of travel it­self and shar­ing some comedic ex­pe­ri­ences. The truth about travel tele­vi­sion means he has also never lain on a beach with a cock­tail in his life. Isn’t it time for a hol­i­day?

Tell us about Where Was I

It’s that there’s quite a dis­tinc­tion be­tween hol­i­days and trav­el­ling. I am a trav­eller, you are a tourist and they fall off bal­conies in Greece. There is a slight agenda to try and sort out for other peo­ple what travel re­ally con­sti­tutes, what a jour­ney re­ally means. My fam­ily used to un­der­take mas­sive ad­ven­tures be­cause my fa­ther was so neu­rotic and so the things that he did re­quired a great deal of plan­ning and fuss. So we didn’t do hol­i­days. There was a ten­dency for us to drama­tise our ad­ven­tures, and I think that stayed with me.

What re­vived your love of live per­form­ing?

The truth is that over the last 15 years or so, I dis­cov­ered that, rather alarm­ingly, the sched­ule of do­ing a huge quan­tity of pro­grammes and run­ning my own pro­duc­tion com­pany made life quite com­pli­cated. But I was con­stantly pro­duc­ing books based on tele­vi­sion stuff, and I of­ten found my­self stand­ing at book shows, talk­ing here and there. So one night I was stand­ing on stage at the Mon­mouth The­atre pro­mot­ing my last book, In­suf­fi­ciently Welsh, and af­ter­wards one of the guys who ran the fes­ti­val said to me, “You know, you’ve got a show here.” I thought, “Yes, I guess I have. Well, I should do this.” So I just put to­gether some sto­ries about my trav­els and went out on stage and here I am!

Do you get a buzz from au­di­ence in­ter­ac­tion?

It’s like putting your toe in the wa­ter and grad­u­ally work­ing your way up. And that’s what I love.

What have you en­joyed about per­form­ing live again?

Live per­form­ing is great - it’s raw. I can get up, and if I’m in the mid­dle of it and want to start talk­ing about some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, I can. I ab­so­lutely love that. It’s a lit­tle bit of a shock I think for friends who come to the the­atre to see me stand­ing on stage just talk­ing about any­thing that comes into my head. But it’s re­ally fun to do, and au­di­ences seem to en­joy it a lot.

Do you en­joy tour­ing?

Yes, I do. Not hav­ing been a stand up in any way, not hav­ing been some­body who has come up through the cir­cuit, I don’t know the rules. I don’t stick to them be­cause I haven’t ever done it be­fore. So at the mo­ment I don’t mind sit­ting on a rail­way sta­tion at mid­night on my way back to Lon­don think­ing, “This train will be along soon.” Fun­nily enough, I find that still just a lit­tle bit ro­man­tic, so I’m happy to do it. And whether that’ll last for ever, I don’t know. But it’s a sort of sec­ond child­hood.

Why did you sail away?

Th­ese days the ma­jor­ity peo­ple get on a plane to travel. That’s one of the rea­sons why I re­cently de­cided I’d sail a boat to the Baltic. I went to the Baltic sim­ply to avoid be­ing in any places where the Daily Tele­graph ar­rived with the morn­ing cof­fee. I wanted to go to some­where where you can be, if you like, a bit of an event to a stranger and ex­pe­ri­ence a sort of oth­er­ness. So I sailed to Tallinn, St Peters­burg and Helsinki. All those places were re­ally great be­cause it was a sur­prise to the pop­u­la­tion that you were English and you were there - and that’s al­ways a very good sign. The one thing I tend to avoid in my life, if I pos­si­bly can, is be­ing in the com­pany of too many other tourists.

What is the scari­est thing you’ve done?

Feeding the sacred croc­o­dile in Bali was cer­tainly a very silly idea! They gave me a bag full of this dis­mem­bered sheep and sent me down to the side of the lake to see if I could feed the sacred croc­o­dile, who had not yet ap­peared. The sacred lake was right next to the air­port. The croc­o­dile did even­tu­ally ar­rive, but only when a plane landed. When a plane had pre­vi­ously flown in, it had missed the run­way and gone straight into the lake, and the croc­o­dile man­aged to chew up one of the cabin staff. So ev­ery time that a plane ar­rives now, the croc­o­dile thinks it’s feeding time.

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