Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Interview: Frank Skinner Prior To His Return To Stand-Up At The Brighton Centre

Frank Skinner is back on the road after a seven year break, and after filling those years as a successful broadcaster, he's returned to doing what he enjoys the most - stand-up. 

The live arena gives full rein to Frank's spontaneous wit. It allows him two hours to demonstrate how he cannot help but be funny. He is one of nature"s most effortlessly hilarious people.

The great thing is, Frank is equally funny in person. An hour-long interview with him is like being treated to a command performance – to an audience of one. 

Frank, who has over the years won numerous awards for his stand-up, including the prestigious Perrier Award in 1991, begins by underlining how much he is looking forward to returning to the stage. 

"It's so different from other stuff. I like the sense that it"s not being recorded. 

"Even when you come to record your DVD, no matter how much you fight it, you feel that you"re wearing a slightly smaller suit. It feels a lot more restrained.

"So much stuff is recorded these days. Small stand-up clubs will often have a camera at the back of the room, and you never know where the footage will end up. 

"In the end, memories will be completely closed down. YouTube has already totally killed the anecdote. It provides anecdotes for the illiterate: "Here's a funny thing – look at this!""

The other aspect about live comedy that Frank revels in is the terrific rapport that he enjoys with his audiences:. 

"I love interacting with the audience," affirms the comedian, the proud father of a one-year-old son called Buzz. 

"When it goes well, suddenly I feel like I'm part of the audience as well. That's very exhilarating. 

Last week a woman in the front row had an American accent, and I asked if she was from the US. 

She replied, "No, I"m from Iraq". I"d made the wrong-est guess anyone"s ever made and my life flashed in front my eyes – but the audience laughed about it for at least a minute.

"Those moments are very precious because they're not repeatable. They happen so quickly that you"re not even aware of the process. 

"During my last tour, a guy came up to me and told me he had been doing comedy for eight months. 

"He said, "You know when you come back to the audience really quickly – how do you do that?" I replied, "I don't know". 

"Come on, it would really help me. What difference would it make to you?" "I"m honestly not keeping anything from you. It just happens". I don't know how you could rehearse those exchanges – unless you practiced with your partner.

"But she doesn't always appreciate my comebacks! Anyway, those moments on stage are very pleasurable indeed."

Just how much of Frank's material in his new show, Man in a Suit, is lifted directly from his own life? 

"You'd be amazed! I embroider very little. I never completely invent anything. I think it would lack conviction if I did. It feels more real when it is true."

One thing that has changed about Frank's act over the years is that it now features far less blue material than it did in the past. 

The comedian, who also penned Frank Skinner on the Road, which chronicled his 2007 sell-out return to stand-up, explains that Man in a Suit is merely an account of who he now is. 

"There's a bit of filth, but not much. When I do Room 101 or my radio show, I'm very me. I don't feel phoney. 

"David Baddiel said to me recently: 'When I think of 'your funny' off stage, I don't think of you doing knob jokes. I think of you talking about John Updike." That"s more who I am off stage these days.

"I've done a lot of knob jokes in my time, but maybe I've emptied my supply of them now. 

Your comedy should be a reflection of what's in your head, and I just don't think of sex as much as I used to. 

When you get into a long relationship, sex is no longer the dominant thing."

Frank closes by returning to the subject of how much is looking forward to performing live once more with Man in a Suit. 

"I've always had the showing off gene. I see it now in my son. The other day he did an impression of me doing the impression of Louis Armstrong, and I don't think I've ever been prouder! 

"So on stage I want to show off. If the audience are laughing, I want to make them laugh even more. Above all, I really care about the audience having a very good time indeed."

Frank Skinner at the Brighton Centre, on Sunday, 1st June. See for more info 

by: Mike Cobley


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