British comedian, Josh Widdicombe, has had a big 2015.
He started a new tour and also has a new sitcom currently airing on BBC3. To top it all off he was insulted by The Incredible Hulk on live TV. We caught up with him ahead of his show in the Olympia Theatre to talk stand up comedy, Dora the Explorer and that appearance on Graham Norton.
So you're playing the Olympia Theatre on the 13th as part of your 'What do I do now..' Tour. Can you tell me what we can expect from the show?
If you like me then it should be your scene. I'm not one of those stand ups that's going to write a show about a big subject or try and tell you about the death of a parent or something. It's basically me complaining for an hour an a half - I think that's what stand up is really - about my life now and also growing up in the middle of nowhere in Devon. Which I recently realised was a lot weirder an upbringing than I thought it was.
I think a lot of Irish people will be able to relate to that. Am I right in saying you started the tour two weeks ago?
No it started in September. Then I took a break to go away to Australia to film The Last Leg and now it's back on. I'm back in the groove!
Brilliant and how's it been going so far?
Yeah it's been really fun. It's been really good. Of the four tours it's the biggest but also it's the show I'm most proud of. Normally by this point in the tour I'm quite bored with it, but I'm still enjoying doing the show which is a good sign.
This is the first time you've played in the Olympia Theatre isn't it?
It's the first time I've done Ireland actually. Except for the Kilkenny Cat Laughs and the Vodafone Festival. I've done those two festivals but this is the first time I've played it in my own right which I'm very excited about.
How do you find Irish audiences in general? Do you find you have to tailor your act slightly?
No I don't think you do, do you? I mean, it's not like I'm coming over here and you guys haven't heard of coco pops. I think it's a pretty similar sense of humour. Luckily the show hasn't got 20 minutes of Irish bashing that I've had to take out or anything. I think it should all work. There's nothing that you guys won't understand hopefully. I mean we like Dara O'Brien so it's kind of like a cultural exchange.
You've got a new sitcom out on BBC3 called Josh. For people who haven't seen the show yet or who want to get into it could you maybe give us a brief description as to what its about?
It's a sitcom based on myself a few years ago when I was living in a shed house and everything wasn't going very well and it stars me as a character called Josh who lives with his two friends who are all kind of in this limbo of their twenties. Their landlord is played by Jack Dee, who's a very annoying landlord.
Is writing a sitcom something you've always wanted to do or did you kind of just fall into it?
No, I never really set out to be a stand up. I wanted to be a writer of some sort. I thought I'd do a bit of stand up and hopefully that will lead to stuff and little did I know it kind of snowballed. Before I knew it I was doing stand up 300 nights a year. So it was amazing to get the chance to do it. I can't really believe it's happened really. I can't believe we've got away with it.
You made the pilot over 18 months ago but the series is only coming out now. Is that because you were in development for a while or was it simply down to scheduling?
We actually made the pilot in January 2013 and it came out that summer. And then we filmed the series a year ago now. So more it's just taken a while to get on the television. Get edited, scheduled and onto the television. BBC3 has had loads of great comedies in the last six months. Stuff like Asian Provocateur and Top Coppers. We were kind of in a queue of things for that Wednesday night slot. So I think that's why it took a while for it to come out. I'm quite happy with it because it means it's winter. People watch TV in winter.
You have David Schneider in as director. How was it working with someone as experienced as that?
Brilliant. It's amazing. He's a really nice bloke. I'm not an actor so we needed someone who was going to be able to help me act rather than just think about camera shots. He's a comic actor in his own right and he just got it. He directs it for comedy rather than for cinema. It's been amazing working with him. We had Jennifer Saunders as well and that was really intimidating but it was really good. You get to work with these people that you used to watch on TV and it's quite intimidating but I think it's good because it makes you raise your game. For example you think, "well if I'm going to make Jack Dee say this then it better be good."
You said that you originally wanted to be a writer rather than a stand up. Do you plan to do more comedy writing and move out of stand up?
No, I'm now always going to be stand up I think. That is what I primarily am. The great thing about stand up is you get to do other things. You get to do your stand up tours but you also get to do Have I Got News For You. You get to do a sitcom, but you also get to do the Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice. I'm easily bored, so I like the variety. I always think you've got to remember why you get to do that stuff and it's because you're a standup. I think you shouldn't leave that behind. Or at least I don't want to leave that behind.
This is an odd one. Can you explain how you ended up contributing to Dora the Explorer Magazine?
Yeah I can cause it is an odd one. I moved to London when I was 21 and I needed a job. I'd just done a year working in Waterstones in Manchester and I was looking for any old job. This advertisement came up for an editorial assistant on Dora the Explorer Magazine. Because I'd been working in the Children's Department in a bookshop for a year I just nailed the interview. I knew everything about Dora the Explorer. So I ended up doing that for a year in London while I was trying to find my feet and decide what I wanted to do with my life. It was a good fun job. I think I said it on Graham Norton about 3 or 4 months ago and since then it is the main thing that people seem to be interested in about me. I should have stuck with that. It seems to be a lot more exciting to people than comedy.
Maybe people have gotten a bit mixed up in their timelines because from what we'd read, you'd contributed since becoming a stand up which is why we found it to be very bizarre.
Oh right. Maybe I should start putting that rumour around. I was doing some stand up. She was in the audience. She said we should work together. That kind of thing.
You were pretty much insulted by Mark Ruffalo on the aforementioned episode of Graham Norton. Do you think you'll ever have a TV moment that will top that?
No. It was genuinely brilliant. He's such a nice guy. I really liked him. I didn't really know anything about The Avengers. I've still not seen it. It's not really my scene. That will probably be on my gravestone. I'll be buried next to Mark Ruffalo and the set up will be on my headstone and the insult will be on his.
Josh plays the Olympia Theatre on December 13th. His new sitcom ‘Josh’ is currently airing on BBC3.