Russell, this is your first tour in what, three years?
It has been fun actually. I’ve been doing loads of small gigs in London—nice gigs, that I used to do when I was a kid—for the past year or so to kind of work up. It feels quite nice to be out on my own now. It has been a laugh.
You’d want it to be a laugh; you don’t want it to be a grim nightmare.
You have to have fun when you do comedy.
Was there a period of getting your live chops back? There’s a big difference between a theatre full of people and a TV studio for Russell Howard’s Good News, we would imagine.
Yeah, but the show’s filmed in front of 300 people and it’s set up like a nice gig. But yeah, it’s different. There’s definitely that initial thing, where you go up with a piece of paper, you’re trying stuff out and you have to let the audience know when you’re trying stuff: “Look, some of this will be alright and some of this will be terrible”. But that’s how this works. And some audiences really like the excitement of that.
Those gigs where comics just riff can be magical. I remember seeing Paul F Tompkins once kill for about 25 minutes, and then go, “OK, I should probably start the show now”.
Daniel Kitson’s like that. I’ve seen him be funny for about an hour, based entirely on him just pulling receipts out of his pockets. That was really amazing. “Did you have to put the receipts in bit by bit?” “No I was just making it up on the spot”. “Really?” [laughs]
So, you’re taking time off a contemporary news show during the Crimea annexation, shots fired between North and South Korea, the disappearance of flight MH370, the growing civil disturbances in Thailand…
Oh, I know. There’s so much going on! And then incredibly when we’re on air it’s like the dullest week ever and you’re like “comeon!” You contemplate just sending me to the house of Parliament dressed as a parrot, to kick [PM David] Cameron in the bollocks because something needs to happen.
We can arrange a parrot suit for when you’re here if that’d help. If there is one thing Tony Abbott has been looking for lately, it’s a parrot-bollock-kicking.
And there’s your headline [laughs]. If you’re considering doing a show for the Comedy Festival, you’ve got your title. You should just ask the audience “what does Tony Abbott need?” I’m sure you’d get lots of suggestions.
Russell Howard will also be performing Wonderbox at Hamer Hall, Tue May 20.