For a stand-up comedian, Dave Spikey is a helluva good writer. In fact, despite a welter of sold-out live shows under his belt over the years, he actually considers himself a writer first and a comic second.
It’s not surprising really. Despite his slightly crumpled appearance, it’s this Lancashire-born funnyman whose keen mind is behind hit TV shows such as Phoenix Nights and 8 Out of 10 Cats.
“I have no idea what a pure stand-up would do on a day-to-day basis. I primarily think of myself as a writer. “
Talking to me on the phone in the fog of a nagging cold on the eve of his forthcoming tour which takes in Harrogate Theatre, this master of observational humour says he likes to get “focused” before the start of each tour.
This, it turns out to my surprise, involves preparations worthy of an Olympic athlete.
“I always go to the gym in the run-up to new dates. I like to get fit. It’s partly to make sure I’m not tired on stage after all the travelling between shows but it’s also about being focused.
“I have to feel good about myself before I go on stage.”
Being a comedian, the name of his tour is a bit of a contradiction and a conundrum.
Words Don’t Come Easy? From the man who hosts Channel 4’s TV Book Club?
“It’s tongue in cheek, obviously. I never shut up, I have to admit.
As well as deconstructing lyrics from well-known pop songs, Words Don’t Come Easy will concentrate on the use, misuse and abuse of the ever-evolving, inventive mongrel language that is English.
“A lot of it’s based on eavesdropping and how that can produce misunderstandings. It’s also down to my family background. My granny’s like Thora Hird on acid, always coming up with great stuff, saying crazy things.”
Originally a bio-chemist working in a hospital lab before the comedy bug bit him hard, a lot of Dave’s approach to humour can be laid at the feet of his humble roots.
“I’m from a working class background but it was a bit unusual. We didn’t have a telly until I was nine or ten. Dad was a painter and decorator and banned TV altogether. He would make me go to art galleries and he encouraged me to write.”
Disillusioned by life in the NHS ; “there were no targets, no pressure and no committees when I first joined. Morale was good. I loved it,” his obvious gift for writing got quick reward in 2001 when he hatched Phoenix Nights.
Written in conjunction with Peter Kay and Neil Fitzmaurice, the show was an instant, and enduring, hit.
Dave only joined Twitter recently but the majority of his many tweets concern some of the best lines from owner Brian Potter and bouncers Max and Paddy in this British sitcom about life in a working men’s club up north.
“I haven’t actually seen Peter for years but I’ve never laughed so much in my life as when I was writing it with him and Neil. Peter is exactly the same off stage as on.”
Dave Spikey plays Harrogate Theatre on Thursday, March 28.
For tickets, telephone 01423 502 116 or book online at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk
The full version of this interview can be found in this week’s Harrogate Advertiser’s Weekend supplement.