Andy Parsons - hilarious king of Mock the Week

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Interview by Weekend Editor Graham Chalmers

Yikes! My pen has just run out of ink halfway through interviewing Andy Parsons.

It’s doubly embarassing because the Mock the Week star loves Harrogate.

In fact, he loves Harrogate so much he’s not only playing twice at this year’s Harrogate Comedy Festival, he’s also filming the shows for his new DVD.

“It’s the first time I’ve done a DVD outside London. Harrogate Theatre is a fantastic venue. I loved playing here the last time.

“The beauty of recording over two nights is, if you muck it up, you’ve always got another chance to get it right.”

I’m a big fan of both Mock the Week and Andy with his open-necked shirts, impish grin and Four Musketeers-like moustache and mini-goatee.

Despite the bald head, bulging eyes and over-excited delivery, don’t make the mistake of thinking this Dorset-born 45-year-old is some sort of comic buffoon.

His talent lies as much in writing as stand-up, sometimes on BBC Radio 2 with his comedy partner Henry Naylor.

You might have seen him on BBC TV’s Live at the Apollo but not many people know that he was one of the team behind the classic satirical puppet show Spitting Image.

“By the time I was writing for Spitting Image, Thatcher had just been kicked out.

“It would be great fun to do it now; we haven’t had a proper coalition government for a very long time.

“You’d have a field day doing the two Davids, Clegg and Cameron. You’d have trouble with Miliband, though. He already looks like a puppet.”

How he ended up doing Spitting Image and then going on to be a fantastically successful stand-up comic and star of TV and radio, is a long story.

It involves travelling back through the annals of time to the days of ‘alternative comedy’ and big shoulder pads and Guns n Roses when Andy had left Cambridge University and joined a law firm.

For two weeks, he even had to relocate to Greenock in Scotland, not a place that even Scots like visiting.

Luckily, fate intervened.

“I was working on one of the biggest shipbuilding cases in British legal history. I’d been working on it for six, solid months and has just got sent to Greenock when they settled out of court.

“I got offered redundancy and took it with open arms. I’d already done some bits for the BBC so I took the money and never looked back.”

Being a big fan of Andy’s, I seem to have gotten a bit over-excited during the interview.

At one point I ask him if he’s ever considered changing his name to Andy Parsonage?

It must seem about as funny to him as the worst wanna-be he shared a stage with in those early days.

“When I first started there were no glitzy clubs or arena tours, comedy took place upstairs in a pub.

“With most things you do, there’s a boss to worry about or a producer. There’s always another layer. In stand-up, you’re in charge but you’re on your own.

“It’s like stepping off a cliff. Providing you’ve done it a few times before, it’s fine.”

Refusing to learn my lesson, I suggest a title for the new DVD, the first since Gruntled which was filmed on his 2011 UK tour.

“Have you thought of calling it Disgruntled?” I suggest, not realising there’s only one comedian in this conversation.

Andy replies “It’s going to be called Slacktivist.”

Which, indeed, it is.

As if to throw me a bone he adds he had thought of calling it ‘The Andy Parsons Project’, a pun strictly for fans of 70s prog rock.

His south-west accent might have softened over the years to point where he says people only notice it when he says the words ‘house’ or ‘trousers’ (“it’s the ‘ou’ sound, people tell me”) but Andy is one sharp and intelligent cookie.

Perhaps that’s why he likes Harrogate’s highly literate audiences and they like him?

“I’m really looking forward to the Harrogate shows. I hope people have a wonderful time in front of the cameras and we produce a marvellous DVD together.”

Andy Parsons presents I’ve Got A Shed at Harrogate Theatre as part of Harrogate Comedy Festival on Monday, October 14 and Tuesday, October 15.

For tickets, call 01423 502116 or book online at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk