INTERVIEW: Dave Johns | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Steve Ullathorne

Fame, it appears, is sought for many reasons. Mostly pursued for either its route to wealth or its ability to generate adulation, there are however those who seek fame for other, more personal, motives. For local comic Dave Johns, the desire for fame is based on the experiences it can bring, and the opportunities it offers to make his life as interesting as humanly possible.   

Using a comedic style grounded in the desire to live life, collect experiences, and then reflect them back to people through humour, fame seems the perfect weapon for John’s stand-up armour: “I think comics tend to be very strong communicators,” he confirms, “our main aim tends to be to make friends with an audience and have a short love affair with them; we want to get close to an audience and tell them things perhaps we wouldn’t tell to other people. The type of things that we might not even tell our best friends.”

Using his fame, and the success of his work, as a way to walk through new rooms and listen and learn, Johns’ comedy is perhaps more engaging than ever as he explains the surrealness of his life: “When you’re a former bricklayer from the North East, and you find yourself on the red carpet at Cannes, that’s surreal in itself. It’s even stranger when you see Meryl Streep in the distance. It’s even stranger again when Meryl Streep walks up to you and tells you that she loves your work. If you can’t find the humour in those kinds of situations, because you’re taking yourself too seriously, then that’s a real shame. Those are the sorts of experiences that should be shared, and a good comic should always make others interested, and find humour in the surrealness of it all.”

Really, all I’m trying to do is make people laugh at the fact that I often feel like a fish out of water

Creating stories from his work in Ken Loach’s BAFTA winning film, I, Daniel Blake, as well as from his time acting in the West End, Johns’ comedic reputation has grown since his recent rise to fame. “I’ve been a comic for three decades but now my work is more surreal than it has ever been and I think people find the humour in that in the same way that I do. Really, all I’m trying to do is make people laugh at the fact that I often feel like a fish out of water.”

Bridging together two recent tours, Johns’ new show, From Byker To The BAFTAs – which calls in at Stockton’s ARC on Saturday 7th September and The Stand, Newcastle on Tuesday 22nd October – is a show which defines his recent experiences. “From Byker… is a very funny show and it’s had really strong feedback in the national press. Basically, it’s the story of me being 63 and starting a film career and the journey I’ve been on from being a bricklayer to ending up on the red carpet in Cannes.”

Grounded in his core beliefs, it feels like Johns is determined to make us all beneficiaries of his recent fame. “Life should be about helping others to laugh and smile. Even without the recent success that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, but if my recent past can make others find a reason to smile, then it’s all worth it.”

Dave Johns presents From Byker To The BAFTAs at ARC, Stockton on Saturday 7th September and The Stand, Newcastle on Tuesday 22nd October


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