TV comic Marcus telling Sheffield about amazing transformation

Comedian Marcus Brigstocke
Comedian Marcus Brigstocke

When he was looking for material for his latest tour, which calls into Sheffield this month, comedian Marcus Brigstocke decided to look no further than himself.

If that seems pretty self-indulgent, he’s done one or two strange things in his time.

The comic, actor and satirist said: “I turned 40 last year and that will make a person reflective.

“I’ve always been allergic to comedians who talk about themselves. I think, ‘Can’t you find something more interesting?’

“The story I tell in the second half is of being a teenager in the West Country and being a 24-stone Goth. It was all pretty extreme.

“I ended up going into rehab and went down to 11 stone in seven months and cleaned up from alcohol and drug abuse. I’ve been sober now for 25 years.

Having gone from 24 to 11 stone, I became a podium dancer in nightclubs and also got a job working on oil rigs.

“It was the most bizarre time in my life.”

Marcus said that the first half of the show is “just a bunch of funny stuff”. He added: “I wanted to go right back to how I started. Here’s some funny stuff, no politics or opinions.

“It’s such a joy to do that again. I’ve spent the last 12 years ranting.”

He has spent a year honing the show on the road and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is pleased with it now.

“Even after 18 years if doing this you never quite know what will work. You think you do but you’re not always right. It’s been really fun to do.”

Marcus became a stand-up because a friend pushed him into it. He said: “I tried to get into drama school and failed.

“A friend said, ‘You should be a comedian’. I was quite relentless in those days, doing gags and voices all the time. These days I’ve learnt that it’s not good manners to do that the rest of the time if you are doing it on stage.

“He booked my first gig without telling me and said, ‘You’d better think of something funny to say because I’ve booked you a gig’.

“The first half of the gig was really bad but the second half was really good. It went well enough for me to know that if I can do this for the rest of my life I will be really happy.”

He added: “Creating stand-up in the first place was a means to being on stage. I love performing, especially comedy.

“Feeling an audience respond to whatever you do with comedy is especially rewarding. It’s visceral. People laughing at what you do, that feels nice.”

He said that he may well return to political comedy but admits it gets “heavy and a bit depressing. you can ending up feeling you have the weight of the world on your shoulders”.

He’s also working on some improvisational comedy and is enjoying doing some writing as well. He mentioned that “if the improv comes off, it will be the most exciting thing I have ever done”.

Marcus added: “When you do stand-up you learn the discipline of writing and the mechanics of sitting at a desk because you’ve got to generate this stuff.

“A lot of people, even if they don’t end up writing them down, imagine stories. It just depends if you have the chops to do it.”

Marcus said that he is writing about that year in his life when he went from being an overweight addict to slim podium-dancing oil rig worker.

However, finding the time to do it isn’t as easy as he thought. “When you’re on tour you imagine you’ll have down time for writing. The reality is like now, driving at 2mph down Kilburn High Road on the way to a gig and doing a bunch of interviews at the same time.”

Apart from that, he will be on our TV screens again soon on Have I Got News For You and possibly QI.

When Sheffield is mentioned, he said: “I liked the fortitude around the half marathon when people decided to just do the run anyway because they’ve got their trainers on.”

He is a bit apprehensive about coming to the city during the Last Laugh Comedy Festival running all this month because the audience have a lot of competition to choose from, although he’s confident he can give them a run for their money.

Marcus said: “There’s a lot of pressure on you lot to turn up so don’t mess it up this time. You’ve set a high bar from before.”

Talk of the city puts him in mind of another amazing story. “I sailed up the west coast of Greenland with Jarvis Cocker some years ago.”

Like you do. It turns out that a group of celebrities were taken there to see the effects of climate change.

“One time we were in an Inuit bar with Jarvis Cocker playing Babies on the piano, which is pretty much my favourite Pulp song.

“He was being backed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Robyn Hitchcock, Leslie Feist, Martha Wainwright and KT Tunstall.

“It was every muso fan boy’s heaven and Jarvis was everything you ever wanted him to be, quirky and nice too.”

Marcus appears at Sheffield City Hall Memorial Hall on October 15. Tickets: Sheffield City Hall or call 0114 278 9789

Festival details: Last Laugh Comedy Festival