I don’t have a showbiz life... I’ve not been in the tabloids for ages
FRANK SKINNER TELLS MARION McMULLEN HIS PARTY ANIMAL DAYS ARE BEHIND HIM AS HE PREPARES FOR HIS NEW COMEDY TOUR
Showbiz is your first stand-up tour in four years. Where did the name come from?
WHEN I started putting stories together I realised quite a few of them involved adventures I have had in showbusiness situations ... but also I don’t think of myself as showbiz at all.
I like on the tour poster there is a picture of me looking like a battlescarred veteran in black and white and then in bright pink it says Showbiz.
I don’t really have the showbusiness life. I have not been in the tabloid pages for ages.
(Laughs) You could fit me and all my celebrity friends into a phone booth quite comfortably.
Did you used to enjoy the showbusiness lifestyle?
WHEN it first started I was mad for it all – the openings, the film premieres – everything. A magazine at the time called me the Party Animal of the Year. Now I’m the Domesticated Animal of the Year.
I was really happy about it all back then. I came from a background that the very idea of free events and parties with pineapple cubes on sticks was great. I filled my boots for a few years.
Just to see films for free was amazing and then there was the red carpet as well.
I went full throttle for about 15 years.
Has your son Buzz inherited the comedy gene?
I’M CONVINCED he’s going to be a stand-up comedian. I’m not pushing him, he’s only seven, but he has got the timing and the wordplay.
I can imagine seeing him performing in the future ... with me playing support act on a tour.
(Laughs) That’s quite possible.
Does he understand what you do for a living?
LAST summer the Three Lions football song went back to number one and they were playing it at his school assembly and showing the video.
The kids even did an improv dance piece based on the song and he was singing it aloud on public transport while sitting right next to me. (Mock groan) It looked like I had schooled him in it.
And 30 seconds into talking to anyone he would be ‘You know my Dad? He wrote Three Lions’.
Is he also a West Brom fan?
(SIGHS) He doesn’t support the same team I support. Indoctrination doesn’t always work. I bought him the kit and took him to a few matches, but he supports Spurs.
It’s our local big team in London so I can sort of understand him wanting to support the local team.
Are you looking forward to heading back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month?
MANAGEMENT were talking about London and then the tour, but I really liked the idea of doing Edinburgh. You live in a comedy village for a few weeks and when you go to get your groceries from the local Lidl you meet comedians you’ve not seen since the last time you were in
What was your first experience of Edinburgh?
IT WASN’T doing comedy. I was in a play there in the 80s playing a tough London cop interrogating an IRA suspect.
I went to see the comedy shows and first saw David Baddiel there in a double act. I didn’t even know that kind of indie, alternative comedy existed. There was only Cannon and Ball on the telly then. I was going around thinking ‘this is for me. This is what I want to do’.
I went back next time with an hour-long show, if you can believe it, which was madness.
I didn’t know anything.
Was winning the Perrier Comedy Award in 1991 a turning point?
IF YOU won the Perrier you went to the party after and broadcasters would be coming offering you a sitcom so it was a big deal.
There were probably 35 comedians who were making a living out of it when I started ... it is probably 600 now. I timed it well.
Some comedians, I won’t name them, hate all other comedians, but I’m quite a comedy fan. The more the merrier. I suppose some see me as an elder statesman.
A few comedians tell me ‘I read your biography and that made me want to do comedy’.
You’re a TV regular, have written best-sellers and played ukulele with the George Formby Society for the Queen’s 92nd birthday. Where do you most feel at home?
STAND-UP is still my core thing. That’s what I started doing and it seems a bit ungrateful to stop.
When it’s really flying I feel I can take my feet off the ground without falling down and just hover. That’s a pretty amazing feeling.
When it goes badly I feel it in every atom of my being. I’ve also been doing a show on Absolute Radio for 10 years and that’s another place that I feel is like the most me.
How do you relax after a show?
I REALLY can’t wait to get back to the hotel. It nags at me that I’m in a nice hotel and out of it for three hours in the evening and I’m not getting maximum use of it.
I like to get back and make full use of the facilities. I miss the family when I’m away but it’s quite nice being alone in a nice hotel room.
I used to bring back company when I first started, but not anymore.
Are you disciplined when it comes to writing?
I’M DOING a run in London at the moment so I get up, take my son to school, come back and write a few jokes.
If I have not written anything for a couple of weeks it feels like you’ve forgotten how to write.
It feels like the really hard bit at the end of tube of toothpaste that’s impossible to get out.
I remember David Baddiel bought a FIFA World Cup video game for his brother once and said we had to test it first.
We played for 12 hours straight. I told him ‘ You’ve got to throw this out of the house otherwise we’ll never do any work ever again’.
What is your favourite joke?
(LAUGHS) It has to be a Ken Dodd joke. I love them.
My favourite is ‘What a great day for shoving a cucumber through the vicar’s letter box and shouting ‘the Martians have landed”.
Frank Skinner can be seen at London’s Leicester Square Theatre until July 27 and is at Edinburgh from July 31 until August 18. The Showbiz tour runs from September 12 to December 11. Go to frankskinnerlive.com for ticket information.
Frank Skinner on stage, above, and after doing Edinburgh in 1990, left
David Baddiel and Frank Skinner pictured in 1994