Rob Brydon has come to our interview directly from the photo shoot for his new live tour.
“I was looking rather lovely in a suit and freshly pressed shirt,” deadpans the comedian. “It was a glorious sight to behold. As you know, I’m a very elegant man. I encapsulate a lot of Daniel Craig.”
A pause. “Albeit after he’s been savagely beaten.”
This is typical of the marvellous and infectious sense of humour with which Rob has made his name over the last couple of decades.
The tremendous news is that you will be able to witness this first-hand on his new nationwide tour, A Night of Songs and Laughter, which calls into Hull New Theatre on September 29, Leeds Town Hall on September 30, Scarborough Spa on October 6 and Halifax’s Victoria Theatre on October 14. Next year it stops at Sheffield City Hall on February 5, York Barbican on February 6, Bradford’s St George’s Hall on May 4 and Huddersfield Town Hall on July 6.
Brydon is just as entertaining offstage as he is on it. An hour in his company simply flies by. It’s like being treated to a command performance – to a very privileged audience of one.
The 54-year-old has won gongs at the British Comedy Awards and the Royal Television Society.
The critics have also been lining up to sing his praises.
But he first broke through on TV with such excellent and original programmes as Marion and Geoff, Human Remains and The Keith Barret Show. He went on to gain a huge following from such widely adored comedies as Gavin and Stacey, Would I Lie to You? and The Trip.
For all his TV success, he has been yearning for a return to his live roots.
“Live comedy is just such a buzz. People come just to see you.
“Sometimes you stand on stage thinking, ‘Good God, these people have all gone to the trouble of paying a babysitter and chosen to come and watch my show.’ That’s a very special feeling.”
He adds: “It feels very natural to me. Sometimes people say, ‘I can’t imagine getting up on stage and performing. It would be so terrifying.’ But you don’t choose that life – it’s almost a calling, something you just have to do.”
Because he is known primarily as a comedian, Brydon is conscious that performing this tour might be regarded as a risky business.
But, he says: “It’s a deliberate risk. I have got to the stage of my career where shows I’m in like Would I Lie To You? and The Trip and stand-up tours return. But I want to go outside my comfort zone and test myself. I’ll be nervous before this tour thinking, ‘What will the reaction be?’ But I’m taking a chance, and the fact that there is risk involved is part of the thrill of it.”
Since appearing in a school production of Guys and Dolls, he has always loved singing. In 2009, alongside Ruth Jones (who starred alongside him in that early production), Robin Gibb and Sir Tom Jones, he reached number one in the charts with the single Islands in the Stream in aid of Comic Relief. He has also performed with Neil Diamond, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Sharleen Spiteri.
The Bafta-nominated actor, who has also starred in such acclaimed films as A Cock and Bull Story, 24-Hour Party People and Blinded by the Light, recently went to see Jeff Goldblum play with his band.
“I found that very liberating and quite instructive,” he says. “It showed me that you don’t have to follow the rules. You can make the show whatever you want it to be. So that’s what I’ve done with A Night of Songs and Laughter.”