Man with a suit­case han­dle hits the road again

Comedian Rhod Gil­bert is back on tour and the fa­mously an­gry en­ter­tainer has calmed down. Nick Ahad finds out if it’s tem­po­rary.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

RHOD Gil­bert is sit­ting in a “very swish ho­tel” in Hast­ings, in a room which com­mands a sea view.

“I’m look­ing out at the sea, watch­ing rab­bits on the lawn at the front of the ho­tel,” says Gil­bert, a pic­ture of calm and seren­ity. Which is odd, given that here is a comedian whose fame has been built on the per­sona of a wildeyed, stressed-out, rant­ing Welsh­man at odds with the mod­ern world.

What’s more, his rou­tines of­ten ex­plain his ap­par­ent grumpi­ness is down to hav­ing to lug his weary bones around the coun­try, en­ter­tain­ing au­di­ences with his stand-up rou­tines.

Yet here he is, in a swish ho­tel, watch­ing rab­bits frolic on the lawn? At the risk of re­cy­cling an old joke, I feel very tempted to ask: “Who are you and what have you done with Rhod Gil­bert?”

Well, noth­ing. This is still very much the Rhod Gil­bert whose an­gry be­wil­der­ment at the rules of mod­ern life pro­vides com­edy gold.

“Oh I only do this about twice ev­ery tour, stay in a nice ho­tel,” says Gil­bert.

“You should see the places I stay in the rest of the time. And there are those times when I think ‘I can­not face an­other mi­crowave meal in a dress­ing room, or an­other ser­vice sta­tion sand­wich’.

“I think it must be lovely to have an ac­tual week­end, at home, do­ing nor­mal things. I fan­ta­sise about putting my clothes in a drawer, rather than just liv­ing out of a suit­case. I can go for months never ac­tu­ally open­ing a drawer, but get­ting things out of my suit­case. That’s a bit wear­ing af­ter a while.”

That’s more like it. There’s the comedian who can take the con­fu­sions and mi­nor ir­ri­ta­tions of mod­ern life and spin them into comedic rou­tines.

Gil­bert didn’t start his ca­reer in com­edy – he had a far more “reg­u­lar” job, work­ing in sales for a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany. He was also, how­ever, funny. The thing was, he was only funny with his mates down the pub and it is rare for that sort of com­edy tal­ent to trans­late on to a stage – ex­cept with Gil­bert, it did.

With the en­cour­age­ment of a now ex-girl­friend, he started per­form­ing at com­edy clubs and be­came a hit. Early on in his ca­reer he found a fa­mous prop that be­came a main­stay of his act and helped launch him to the realms where he was able to sell out an arena gig in Cardiff just a few years ago. The prop was the han­dle from a suit­case and the con­ceit was that it was all that ar­rived when Gil­bert landed at

The comedian Greg Davies is a good friend of mine and he says I am­in­ca­pable of not ar­gu­ing.

ROAD TRIP: Rhod Gil­bert is on tour again. “It must be lovely to have an ac­tual week­end, at home, do­ing nor­mal things.”

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