Interviewers Of Note
Lost in Stockton with a whole heap of interviews to do…
I’m sitting in the auditorium of the theatre in Whitley Bay. It’s a really nice space and although it has none of the festoonery of some of the theatres we’ve been in, cherubim and seraphim and gold inlay – it is at least warm and has a dressing room with a shower, Lord be praised.
I’ve got my cup of tea and bottle of water and I’m sat at the piano, about to practice for an hour before getting ready for tonight’s performance. Last night in Stockton on Tees was fantastic. The audience were very naughty and cheeky and up for it and we had a great time. Particularly good was Leander the 15 year old with the Scientist dad – I wondered if the boy had been created in the lab in the last week, Marcia the gorgeous black woman on the front row who had two boyfriends! And of course the dysfunctional boy band (five young guys sitting together on the front row) – it was a hoot.
Being on tour means a constant round of interviews and interfacing with the media. It’s tricky to do because you don’t want to repeat yourself – it depends on if they want a performance or a proper interview. Understanding what people are after is key: I was interviewed by several people in one day recently and every single one was different but fit into one of two categories –
DJ’s who wanted to ‘Go back to the VERY beginning’
or DJ’s who had thought about what they wanted to do and included me in that.
The first is quite a full on explication of over thirty years in the business – usually from an entry point in which the DJ liked me the best – I’d say Tiswas is the most popular starting point, after New Faces. No one mentions three of a kind or the Lenny Henry Show (which ran for over ten years in various incarnations) I don’t mind this kind of interview but they can tend to ramble a bit. They usually include a bit about my ex wife, and then want to go into detail about our being apart but still liking each other and co-parenting our daughter. Once again, I don’t mind this kind of interview – but I much prefer…
The second option – You go on a show where someone has recorded 8 different types of musical jingle with your name involved. You go on a show where the host is naked and wants to compare notes. You go on the show where it’s a quiz and you get asked 20 questions very fast. You go on the show and they’re really buzzy and genuinely interested in the show you’re performing at the time. You go on a show where the DJ has ten tight questions cos ‘he’s/she’s gotta get on’. You go on a show where the interviewer understands comedy and allows you to jam alongside or solo.
- Hey – how ya doin?
- Whats the show about?
- What was the Queen’s Jubilee like?
- You’ve worked with Kate Bush!
- You’ve worked with Paul Weller?
- You’ve sung with Jools Holland and Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd.
- How are things at Comic Relief?
- Why do you do so much material about your family?
- Ditto Dudley.
- What’s the black comedy scene like in Britain right now?
- Who are your favourite comedians from back in the day?
- Who are you loving now?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
- If there’s one thing you wished you’d done, but hadn’t what would that thing be?
- Are you happy?
These are all good, open questions that don’t shut me down… it’s very difficult if you’re in a situation where there’s an agenda that you only become aware of within the first 3 or so minutes – then you spend ages trying to figure out how to be cool and get out of it with some dignity.
So if I start an interview thinking it’s one type of thing and then slowly become aware that it’s an entirely different kind of thing (i.e. Not Just a Promo but someone trying to be Reeely serious / tryin’ to get a scoop) then I slowly switch off and wish I was in Brierley Hill.
Just sayin is all.
It’s all love yeah?