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Friday 01 October 2021

Interview: Jack Dee Is Still Befuddled By The Modern World As He Gets Ready To Unleash His New Show @ Brighton Dome

Jack Dee's live tour, Off the Telly, which was cut off in its prime when the pandemic hit the UK last spring, comes to Brighton Dome on Wednesday 6th October.
Credit Aemen Sukkar

Jack says: "It's been such a surreal journey. I had just got the tour started and was playing to bigger rooms, having spent the past six months travelling around Britain doing church halls and arts centres getting it right. Then the curtain fell on the tour because of lockdown.

"That was annoying. People just don't think about people like me in the pandemic, do they? It's all about the doctors and nurses!"

This is typical of Jack's wonderfully acerbic sense of humour, and you'll be delighted to hear that you can enjoy plenty more splendid material like this in Off the Telly this autumn.

Specialising in beautifully worked, brilliantly deadpan observational routines and truly memorable one-liners, Jack is a compelling stage presence. 

His grouchy on-stage demeanour is particularly magnetic. Audiences really relate to Jack's exasperation with the idiocies of the modern world. 

He explains: "That persona has always chimed with audiences. People enjoy hearing me articulate things they'd been half-thinking themselves. That's where the identification comes in. 

"My job as a comedian is to locate those things, put them into words and make them funny for people who lead much more productive lives and don't want to spend time doing that. That's my silly job!"

After 18 months cooped up at home, we are all desperate for a rollicking good night out, and that's exactly what Jack provides. 

"It's a way of life we all took for granted. When it's taken away like that, it's horrendous."

Which is why Jack can't contain his excitement about returning to the stand-up stage. 

"Before I did warmup shows for this tour, I got really excited, but I was also daunted and mildly intimidated. I thought, 'what am I going back to? Are we all going to be so beaten up by the whole experience of the pandemic that it will be hard to enjoy life again?'"

In the event, however, "people realised very quickly that this is what we need and this is what makes life worth finding vaccines for. Otherwise, if life is going to be rubbish anyway, why bother with a vaccine? 

"As soon as I got back on stage, I was immediately re-energised. It was a lovely feeling to be back."

As human beings, we all thrive on these shared experiences – and we have really missed them. 

According to Jack, "we get such a strong remedial effect from going out, whether that's having a drink with friends or being able to see a live show in a theatre or a club.

"That is the lifeblood of what we do. It's incredibly important and helps us cope with the harder things that are going on in life. 

"We've had 18 months of not being able to do that, and the effect has been insidious. It has created a vacuum and the vacuum has been filled with hysteria and panic and less creative solutions to our worries."

Jack goes on to underline the therapeutic qualities of communal events. 

"It is liberating and helps us remember something about ourselves that we've had to suppress for the past year and a half. 

"It's like when the Berlin Wall came down and we saw all these East Germans with miserable faces suddenly realising what they had missed. 

"We were starting to get like that. It creeps up on you and you're not aware of what you"re missing." 

The comedian is eager to emphasise that he is never preaching to his audience. 

"It is vital that the audience don't feel lectured to. I'd be mortified if they ever felt like a worthy point was being made on stage. 

"All I"m doing is sharing what I think, and people are relieved that those doubts and maverick thoughts lurking at the back of their minds are not so unusual and weird."

Whether something is funny or not takes precedence over all else in Jack's show. 

"The audience never misunderstand me. They either find it funny or they don't. 

"I've tried every other way, but I know that if it's not funny, it's my fault. It's not the audience"s fault. I can't get away from that, and that's very disappointing!"

Jack Dee's Off the Telly comes to Brighton Dome on Wednesday 6th October. Tickets are available from / 01273 709709

by: Mike Cobley & James Rampton


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