Joe Pasquale, who has been starring in Spamalot in theatres around the UK, is returning to his stand-up comedy roots this summer including a show at Hunstanton’s Princess Theatre on Saturday.
Ahead of his visit to Sunny Hunny, the squeaky voiced national treasure had a question-and-answer session with the Lynn News:
Q: You’re embarking on a big stand-up tour this summer. Are you excited about returning to live comedy after a two-year gap?
A: I’ve never really gone away from stand-up – I was just doing other stuff! Stand-up gives you such a buzz. It’s like riding a rollercoaster. When I do stand-up, I like that feeling of flying by the seat of my pants. The great thing about stand-up is that it’s different every night. You never know what will happen at any given show – and that’s what I love about it.
Q: Do you enjoy the interaction with the audience?
A: Yes. I love bantering with people. There is a lot of audience participation at my shows, but that changes every night. Recently during a Spamalot performance we had a lady on stage whose English wasn’t great and she didn’t have a clue what was going on. I had to busk it with her for two minutes, but the audience loved it. It brings the house down when you do something like that. I really like bantering with people who don’t know what’s going on because invariably I don’t know what’s going on either!
Q: Your shows always include lots of props. How do you put these together?
A: I’ve just been on eBay buying a lot of props. I buy a lot of rubbish. For the stand-up tour this year, I’ve bought a water pistol, a psychic premonition box, and a plastic baked potato. No show is complete without a plastic baked potato. I’ve also bought half-a-hundred weight of marshmallows to throw into the audience. I’m going to play basketball with them and whoever wins gets to come on stage and do magic tricks.
Q: What else will be happening in the stand-up show?
A: Well, I’ve also bought a Lovejoy mullet wig which my stage manager Raynard will be wearing while he does magic tricks in his pants and holds an antique candelabra. Raynard will also be re-enacting the “You’re So Money Supermarket” ad. It’s all just nonsense, but that’s what people expect from me.
Q: You have done a lot of theatre in recent years. What do you particularly enjoy about it?
A: I like the fact that once you’re doing it, it can’t be edited. What you see is what you get. You stand or fall by the live audience. They’re the ultimate arbiters. The better they are, the better the show is.
Q: You played King Arthur in Spamalot for two years in the West End and on tour. What was it about that show that you like so much.
A: I love the script – it’s always about the script. It was the same with The Producers – you can’t better what Mel Brooks and Eric Idle wrote. Monty Python are the ultimate alternative comedians – everyone else stands on their shoulders.
Q: What effect did winning I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here have on your career?
A: It was a turning point for me. People whinge about it and ask, “Why did you do that?” But I really enjoyed it. I think people respond to you in the jungle because it’s not the sort of place where you can pretend to be something you’re not. You can’t hide for three weeks because you’re starving!
Q: You started off in showbiz working as Green Coat at a Warners holiday camp. What was that experience like?
A: I learned a lot at Warners. I had to referee the wrestling bouts between two fat sweaty blokes and I also started calling the bingo, then when a cabaret act would let us down, the entertainment manager would say to me, “You have to entertain them now.
Q: What was your next step?
A: I got on New Faces in 1987. I had nothing to lose. All I was doing was calling the bingo and shouting “Get off me, fat bloke” at the wrestlers. That wasn’t my catchphrase – it was merely stating the facts.
Q: Is there anything in your life you wish you could change?
A: If I could go back in time, I’d have trained to be a geologist. Although whether anyone would take me seriously if I was forecasting earthquakes is another matter. But you can’t change things. At least I’ve done a lot of different things now.
Q: Who would play you in a biopic of your life?
A: I’d want it to be Johnny Depp. Would that happen? No, it would end up being Pee-wee Herman.
Q: If you could swap places with someone for a day, who would it be?
A: Professor Brian Cox. He’s changed the face of science and got people interested in science for the first time. I’ve met him, and he’s great.
Q: What’s your biggest flaw?
A: My attention span is very short. In fact, I’m surprised I’ve lasted so long in this interview! So I’ve just read this book about building “mind palaces” like Sherlock Holmes does. It’s an incredible way to memorise things.
Q: Do you think you’ll ever retire?
A: No. You don’t pack this business up – it packs you up. I just really enjoy it. You can’t take it too seriously.
Q: Finally, what do you hope people take away from your stand-up show?
A: I just want them to have fun. I’m the Minister for Merkins in the Monster Raving Loony Party. I’m going to stand for election and promise voters lead-free pencils and a beach in Birmingham. And everyone will have to wear merkins made out of Curly-Wurlies. I can’t do any worse than real politicians! In everything I do, the fun lies in taking people back to the absurdity of life. If you’re coming to my show for something serious, forget it!
Joe Pasquale’s Summer Tour 2015 is at the Princess Theatre, Hunstanton, on Saturday, August 27, at 7.30pm; tickets are £20, call the box office on 01485 532252 or visit www.princesshunstanton.co.uk