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.
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.”