Tell me a little bit about your show, how did it come about?
Simply put, Tommy Cooper was unique. Unlike many of his contemporaries he stood by his stage act, which had brought him the acclaim in the first place. But there are no recordings of his live cabaret work. So I wanted to give my interpretation of Tommy Cooper in his ‘natural environment’ – working a live audience.
What was it about comedy that made you go ‘yeah this is me’?
I don’t know which is the greater feeling, laughing or making people laugh. This is a challenging way of finding out I suppose.
What have been your best experiences on stage?
For this show it was on our third preview, when everything started to click into place. Our first standing ovation was also a fantastic feeling.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced with the show?
I am one for perfectionism, although in a show like this, that’s a good thing. Realising the challenge of recreating not only a widely regarded and respected icon, but also a personal idol, is obviously a bit of a mind-bender! It’s great when aficionados, Tommy’s relatives and people who knew him say I’m doing a good job. That means the most.
How did you get into comedy, has it always been something you’ve wanted to do?
I never was but always admired the class clown. But I think my Dad and Granddad subliminally taught me that making people laugh actually gets you out of a lot of trouble! Having a whimsical slight on life is nothing but beneficial.
What was your first time like on stage, any nerves?
Playing someone who is instantly recognisable has its pros and cons. The pros are that the audience are on your side; they want you to succeed. The cons are that you really can’t let them down! The first five minutes are crucial, but not in an aggressive way. I doubt Tommy would ever have gone out there with an abrasive front. Ken Dodd calls it ‘wooing the audience’. I like to think of it like that.
Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?
I run through the first fifteen minutes and triple check the magic props! I got caught out once. Never again!
What has been the best heckle you’ve gotten on stage?
There’s a trick where a volume of milk seems to multiply. A punter shouted “Can you do the same with wine?!” That often pops into my head now.
Who have been your biggest inspirations?
Tommy Cooper is pretty high up there! I’m star-struck by the energy and relentlessness of people like Lee Evans and Ken Dodd. In my opinion Groucho Marx, Peter Cook, Harry Hill and Peter Sellers are all unrivalled in their own particular styles.
What are the best 5 words to describe your show?
Non-stop mayhem and mirth (Just-Like-That!)
What has been the best advice you’ve been given?
There’s no such thing as an old joke, and if you’ve heard it before then chances are it’s worth hearing again!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your show?
Their hats, coats and any leftover children!