Ahead of his anticipated visit to Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre on Monday 2 July 2018, best-loved comedian and broadcaster Griff Rhys Jones talks all-things comedy with SoGlos.
Discussing his visits to forbidden areas, exotic travels, and the ‘jokes and madness’ in his show, we find out just why Cheltenham comedy fans are in for a treat this summer…
I understand ‘Where Was I?’ is your second tour…
Yes, it’s an extension of my second tour because I’ve already done about 50 dates. Then Mark Goucher asked me to come to Cheltenham, so I’m coming, then I’m going on to do some more dates after that.
What have the audiences’ reactions been so far?
Oh good! They’re great, we’ve had a really great time. It’s a combination of stories and secrets and things I really shouldn’t be telling anybody! Plus, some stand-up in the second half.
It’s a mixture of jokes and madness, and we’ve had such great reactions from audiences – which is one of the reasons why I’ve said we’re going to do some more shows.
It’s a mixture of jokes and madness, and we’ve had such great reactions from audiences.
What do you like about touring, rather than television?
It’s really great to be doing stuff where I don’t have seven executive producers, all wanting to throw in their ideas about what to do and say. Television has become like that; you spend a lot of time having to explain what you’re doing.
Now it’s a relief to go onstage and say what the hell I like!
Can you tell us more about your show?
It’s about people like me, people who are nearly dead, who go out and decide, for some reason, once the kids have left home, to start travelling the world.
If you go to Heathrow, you find lots of grey haired people like me, trying to work out how to use the self-check-in system. It’s basically about us old-age pensioners travelling the world; what are we doing, what are we trying to get, and what travel is.
You go to quite exotic places…
Yes, but then everybody does! My daughter said she couldn’t come for Christmas because ‘it’s too far’ – so she got on an aeroplane and ended up on a beach! Everybody travels.
I have, thanks to the BBC, been to some really exotic, way out places. Some that you’re not supposed to, forbidden places – that’s one of the advantages of travelling with a television camera.
What ‘forbidden’ places have you been to?
I wanted to do a series called Forbidden Britain. I ended up firing a gun near Southend. There’s a whole place there called Foulness, which is one of the most forbidden sites in Britain; they test weapons there – unbelievable!
It’s only about 13 miles from London and they still test ammunition there by firing it into the marshes. So, I’ve been there and that was interesting because there was quite a lot of security. It was exciting.
The reason I’m coming to Cheltenham is simply because we went out, did a tour, and it went so well that we said ‘let’s do some more’.
Can you give us an insight to your show, or is it under wraps?
No, it’s not under wraps! My problem is, during a show, I start off telling a story and think ‘ooh I’ll tell you this as well.’
It’s a real 70s show because I talk about my holidays, and I show some slides. The first half is about how I got involved in doing television travel; everyone wants to hear about that, because everyone thinks ‘I could do that’.
All I do is tell stories about those more humiliating experiences that I was forced to undertake, to get my free trips that you see on television!
The second part is much more general, about some of the indignities we all suffer when we travel – with no frills airlines and so on.
What kind of audiences do you have?
My audience is my people. I think one of the reasons we’re doing so well and selling out is that my comedy is no longer about kids, how they’re settling down, learning to deal with the washing machine, and that sort of thing. I’ve been through all that.
I’m beyond that! My jokes and stories are all about visiting the doctor to be told you’re going to die, all that sort of stuff!
It is quite true that when I look out there, generally, it is like addressing a saga cruise. We’re happy! We have a look around and if there are any young people there we throw them out!
Sometimes we allow them to stay because they’ve paid for their ticket… On the most part, it’s quite a good evening for young people to come along and hear about the struggles us baby boomers have had to experience.
Is there anything you’d like to add about your show?
Just that we have great fun! The reason I’m coming to Cheltenham is simply because we went out, did a tour, and it went so well that we said ‘let’s do some more’.
It’s back by popular demand.