Advertiser Life Phil’s one to keep a watchful eye on
ONE of Southport Comedy Festival’s most thought-provoking shows will be provided by Phil Nichol, who will be playing the Vincent Hotel as part of his Your Wrong tour.
It will be the Canadian comic’s third appearance at the festival, and he has formed quite an affinity with the North West since he moved to these shores.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve played in Southport quite a few times, to do the Southport Festival.
“Brendan Riley and Val are mates of mine for many, many years, and I really like the vibe around the festival and Southport in general.
“When I first moved to Britain I lived in Balham in south London with a guy whose nickname was the Mindless Drugs Hoover.
“He was a singer/songwriter from Southport, and he had a song that went to number 11 in Australia called The Reefer Song.
“It was his initials, his name was Matthew David Hayden so he changed his name to Mindless Drugs Hoover.
“I’ve done the festival twice before, and I’ve done some stuff in Formby.”
Phil’s first friends in Britain were from the area, and he was able to fit in seamlessly, thanks to sharing their unique sense of humour.
“When I first moved over a lot of my friends were Scousers from Southport, so sort of adopted Scousers.
“I know it sounds like I’m blowing smoke but I’m not, because of my experience and knowing my friends from that area of the world, from the North West between Southport and Liverpool, then Newcastle and Glasgow, are probably my favourite places to play.
“I’m being genuine. Even though I live in London, I was born just outside Glasgow so we share the same sense of humour.
“One of the things that struck me about the North West is that they’ll take the p*** out of you to test you, and if you respond correctly then you’re friends for life.
“Before they even know you they’ll make fun of your hair or your shoes, and if you get the joke you’re in.
“If you go ‘what are you doing that for?’ they’ll still be polite to you – but they’ll recognise you’re not one of us.”
Phil comments on many things about the society we live in throughout his show, which focuses on the constant analysis that he feels we are subjected to.
“My show is based around beliefs.
“I was born into a devout born-again Christian family, the Brethren Assembly.
“My mother was a Quaker and my father was very strict, and I’ve ended up being me.
“The show has a throughline of being watched; I think human beings have got really self-aware because we have phones, the internet, constant news access, people are really picky about responding to grammar mistakes, social errors are all heightened and magnified.
“I understand how this works because I was raised with this sense of God, and I’ve created into the show a CCTV type thing watching every move you make and I think it’s unhealthy.
“You realise that it’s you that’s doing it, we get trained to turn the CCTV camera on, I certainly did with the way I was raised, so that I was watching everything I did when I was growing up.
“Kissing girls and all that stuff, it all becomes magnified under this guilt, am I doing the right thing or the wrong thing, and so the show kind of revolves around me moving away from that and discovering a more rational and logical view of the world.
“The world is actually really indescribable when you think about it.
“Not to be a hippy, but if we stood and looked at what’s all around you it would blow your mind so we put these stop gaps in it, comedy being one, music, arts being a way of expressing ourselves so we don’t destroy our heads.
“But it’s a funny show as well.
“There’s a lot of stories about when I’ve done something wrong, or when I thought I was right but it turned out wrong, or times when I did something I knew was wrong but it turned out right, it’s all crazy stories where I’m the heel of the story.”
The major storyline throughout the show is a deeply personal one to Phil, where the conclusion could have been tragic.
“The main story is how I moved away from what I see as the superstitions and mythology of my parents.
“My brother had a severe accident, ended up in a coma and it looked like he wasn’t going to survive. It’s about how my parents’ beliefs and faith that there’s going to be a miracle collide with my new-found rational humanist thinking and that the best thing to do would be to put my brother out of his misery.
“So the story kind of revolves around my feelings during that time.
“It happened 30 years ago. I’m not exploiting his trauma for my comic benefit, I’m just using it as an illustration of how we can bury our shame.”
Phil added that he touches on one of the hardest tasks a person can face – admitting that they are wrong.
“It’s really hard to admit we’re wrong about stuff, or to hear that we’re wrong.
“The show is about certainty and uncertainty.
“I feel that people who are certain are a little arrogant, you have to be quite arrogant to believe that you are certain about something unless it’s something really basic like the sky is blue.
“Even things that are proven have to be re-proven.
“I’m really surprised how it’s been playing to a mix of audiences, like in Edinburgh a massive stag do came and I thought ‘oh no, they’re going to hate this, it’s too artsy-fartsy’ but at the end they came and shook my hand and said it was amazing.”
Phil Nichol, Your Wrong! appears at The Vincent Hotel, Lord Street, Southport, on Wednesday, October 17.