Jack Dee Interview

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jack dee This month we chat to one of Britain’s most famous comedians, Jack Dee. Having dominated our television screens for the past twenty years, from advertising John Smith’s, to his hit series ‘Lead Balloon’ and starting ‘Live At The Apollo’, Jack is now touring his new stand-up show, and will be touching down in Australia and New Zealand in April.

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Hi Jack, how are you?
Not bad thank you.

How’s it going in Ireland?
Yea it’s good, I’m in Cork, I’ve got another night here. It’s cold but it’s ok.

You’ve also got your UK dates coming up too, so you must be really busy with everything at the moment?
Yeah, I’ve been on tour, with this show I started in the autumn so it’s been a lot of travelling. I’m now doing the spring leg of the tour, which takes me into Australia and New Zealand.

So are you looking forward to heading out to Australia?
Yeah, I haven’t toured in Australia for quite a number of years actually. I’ve had a holiday out there since. I used to do Melbourne, I’ve done it a few times, Melbourne Comedy Festival, it just became quite a long way to go with the kids, with school and stuff and it never used to quite work out properly. But now the kids are older we can go out there.

Where did you get to when you went on holiday there?
We went to Noosa on the Gold Coast and we travelled a little bit around there. I was actually visiting my wife’s mother, she lives there so we spent a lot of time over there in Brisbane.

Are you going to get to do much travelling or see anything while you’re out there?
The travelling is from city to city really, the thing with Australia is I’ve never really had time to explore the interior, they’re aren’t that many viable gigs to go to, not that I know of anyway, right in the middle of Australia. So one of these days I would like to do a proper travel around Australia.

Sydney Comedy Festival is going on, Melbourne Comedy Festival is going on, are you going to see any other acts while you’re there?
I really hope so yeah. There are a lot of good Australian comics and New Zealand actually that come over to Britain, but I hope they are still a few left over there! But also, the international acts, there’s always a really good vibe.

Is there anyone in particular?
I don’t really know who’s going out there yet apart from other British acts so I haven’t seen the programme but I’ll find out when I get there. But hopefully they’ll be stuff going on very late at night that I can go to after my own show.

You took a six year break from stand up. How does it feel to be touring again?
Really nice. I was working on my sitcom ‘Lead Balloon’ and I really enjoyed doing that, but the thing you miss about stand up is the immediacy of it all. You can think of something funny, say it onstage and you get a laugh from it, so it’ll be good.

I read about you once in The Sun newspaper having a rather bad experience in Australia at a prison?
I’m afraid The Sun got it slightly wrong, it was Perth in Scotland. All the Australian papers have been asking me about that and it’s a shame, I should have just lied and said it was Australia.

What happened there then?
I don’t know why, some idea that comedians from the Edinburgh Festival, this was in 1990 or something, that we should go and share our talents with the inmates so a few of us went along. If I can remember it was me, Greg Newman and Sean Hughes, we tried to do a show for these people that were looking rather cross in the chapel and it wasn’t very much fun. They were all lifers so there was no point of contact really with these people at all so it was a difficult 30 minutes.

You’ve been going since 1986 when you first started out. How does it feel to still be in high demand?
Well I’m always very flattered and grateful that people still want to see what I’m doing and I’ve always just done my thing and I think people, touch wood, they love the show and you accumulate a good word of mouth over the years I guess.

I remember as a kid the widget adverts, did people used to sing it at you in the street?
There was a time when that became a catchphrase in the street, it hasn’t happened for a while now. Funnily enough, those things do raise your profile a bit so people want to see what you can do on stage, it all helps as long as you don’t make an absolute idiot of yourself.

I haven’t had a chance to see any of your new stuff. What’s the kind of basis for your new show that you’re touring?
Well a lot of it is about modern life, dilemmas and also coping with teenage children and also more abstract areas. I talk about the Royal Family and conspiracy theories, so it’s a real broad thing. I like to think it has a narrative to it and a sort of logic to it, a beginning, middle and an end. My shows have always been a rolling review of what’s going on in my life.

I suppose that was similar with ‘Lead Balloon’. Would you say it was semi autobiographical?
Yeah I think so. You put ‘Lead Balloon’ with a lot of personal experiences built into that context and of course stand up is reliant on all of that. All of my stand up has been about how I see the world really and just drawing people in to seeing it that way as well.

You’ve obviously done a lot of stuff with Live at The Apollo, you get quite a lot of the noughties comedians trying to break Hollywood. Is that something that you would ever consider doing?
I wouldn’t go over to try and break it, probably not. It’s a wise idea if you’re like Ricky Gervais or Simon Pegg and have something to go over there to do. I think you could quite easily go over there and be swallowed up by the industry.

You’re very identified with the British audience as well.
I think that is also true, I’ve never been on a world domination kick. I enjoy entertaining audiences until a certain degree. It’s not important where they are or how wide spread they are.

Why did you want to become a stand-up comedian?
I think it was just one of those things where I saw the new scene emerging and I had a powerful feeling that they had started without me. It was a comedy language that I understood. There were previous stand up comedians although I might well have liked them, like Tony Hancock, I didn’t relate to them thinking I’d like to do that. There was a new scene that emerged and it became much more relevant to someone of my age, that was the big difference of it.

What would you say was your first moment when you became a successful comedian?
I didn’t start thinking I want to make my fortune or anything, my ambition really was to get my name on this blackboard, outside the Comedy Store in Leicester Square. You’d see all these names on it, and that was my ambition to have my name on that blackboard. So I worked hard at it and I think I could have just bought myself a piece of chalk!

What would you say has been your biggest career highlight?
Career highlight, I’ve been very proud to have started ‘Live at The Apollo’, the first two series. That’s been a huge success that show, and I think anyone would admit that. It’s really brought a lot of comedians into the spotlight as well so that I’m pleased about. I’m very proud of being involved with ‘Lead Balloon’ because that’s a show that we set out to make and I think in television, that’s really important. That people set out to make the shows they set out to make. I’m also very proud of the show that I’m doing now, I started it on a small scale and toured tiny venues and little clubs and worked it out the way I did my very first show. This time I really took time and didn’t start the tour until I was ready and I felt I had enough material and something to say. So I’m enjoying it, yeah it’s good.

What have you got planned for when you finish touring?
When I finish I’ve got the project in the pipeline for BBC1, something I’m going to be working on the script for that in June with my writing partner Pete Sinclair who I write Lead Balloon with. So we’ll start work on that, and if it’s any good we’ll hopefully make a pilot of that.

Thanks Jack, and good luck with the show tonight, and hopefully we’ll catch you on your tour somewhere along the way!

By Hannah Shakir

Need Help With Your Australian Visa

Jack Dee’s Tour Dates:
Town Hall, Melbourne – 18th – 20th April 2013
The Tivoli, Brisbane – 23rd April 2013
Astor Theatre, Perth – 25th April 2013
Enmore Theatre, Sydney – 28th Aril 2013

Check out more information about The Sydney Comedy Festival here

Travel – Australia Work & Travel Magazine – What’s On Aus, Cheap Tours & Accommodation (bbmlive.com)

Read more- things to do in Broome Archives – Go West Handbook
Also Read- Guide on Partner visa for Australia (Subclasses 820 and 801) (ozvisainfo.com)

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