Interview: Gavin Webster | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Gavin Webster has been on the comedy circuit for around 30 years and has performed around 8,000 gigs (his estimate) from Aberdeen to Abu Dhabi, Manchester to Melbourne and Hartlepool to Hong Kong. In that time, his uncompromising and unpredictable approach to comedy has kept fans coming back for more and earned him a large cult following. 

On Friday 26th January, the Tyneside comedian will be performing a grandiose gig at Tyne Theatre and Opera House for his ‘For One Night Only’ show, a (as the title suggests) one-off, themeless show jam-packed with laughs. Ahead of this performance, we caught up with him to find out more…

Who are your comedy idols?
Let’s see, Gilbert and Sullivan, Groucho Marx, Spike Milligan, Les Dawson, Bobby Thompson, Leonard Barrass, Ken Goodwin, Mitch Hedberg, Tommy Cooper, Monty Python, Barry Cryer, Fry and Laurie, Vic and Bob, Alexei Sayle, Sean Lock, The Zucker Brothers, Larry David, Jerry Sadowitz, The Comic Strip, Derek and Clive, French and Saunders, Armando Iannucci. I’m sure there’s more and I’ve laughed at many funny people on the comedy circuit in over 30 years of doing it.

What is one of the best/most memorable jokes you heard growing up and who told you it?
My dad told me surreal, grown-up and what would now be deemed offensive jokes as I was growing up. He had no idea he was shaping my comedy taste and wide literacy in the art form.

How did you get into comedy?
Sort of by accident. Someone persuaded me to be his double-act partner. I had all the straight man lines. It started as modestly as that.

You’ve been on the circuit for over 30 years now, how have you seen comedy evolve/change?
That’s a tough one. You could write a whole book on it. There are comedians everywhere now, that’s the big difference. Loads of people do it now, like exponentially more than 30 years ago. The thing is though there are only the same amount of good ones I reckon.

What are some of your proudest moments as a comedian?
I’ve had a few down the years. Two Ken Loach films, admittedly small parts but they were both critically acclaimed movies and one of them won the Palme d’Or. Putting my own sitcom on Amazon Prime was a great moment, every Edinburgh show I’ve done, the good ones and the not-so-good ones, doing the Tyne Theatre every 18 months or so, being in a Radio 4 sitcom, a Radio 4 sketch show and doing The News Quiz on Radio 4 not bad for a working-class lad that started work on the building sites, most of all though doing it for over 30 years, I’d love to make it to 40!

How would you describe your style of comedy and what inspires it?
I work fast and I throw stuff out there and I change the subject, digress, go off the point and do jokes within jokes. I like to try a bit of everything in my set, words, music, set pieces, props, everything. I’m not a certain type of comedian, well at least I don’t think I am anyway. It’s inspired by laughing at conventions, traditions, people in authority, the establishment and observing human behaviour. I like looking at words and twisting them. Most of all I like trying to be funny and going for the laugh be it cheap or high-brow. Humour is brilliant. It’s one of the most powerful tools.

What can audiences expect from your One Night Only performance at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House?
You can expect dumb jokes, verbal crash bang wallops, local lampooning as well as big set pieces, sardonic songs, outrageous claims, lies, truths, a good support act, books for sale at the end and you can even chat to me in the pub next door afterwards.

How do you find performing to big venues such as the Tyne Theatre, as opposed to smaller comedy clubs?
You have to wait a second for the laugh to reverberate around the room. I’m so used to clubs where you have to crack on fast so you don’t lose them. The people want to be entertained and even though I get a working-class crowd, I’d say they expect you to have a bit of quality about you. Maybe other towns are different, but Newcastle and Tyne and Wear people tend to want to see something good when they’ve bothered to come to the theatre.

Gavin Webster’s ‘For One Night Only’ show takes place on Friday 26th January @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House. Tickets are available here.


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