Interview: comedian Josh Widdicombe

The British comic is coming to Dubai Opera

Interview: comedian Josh Widdicombe

He’s a familiar face to fans of British comedy, and now West Country comedian Josh Widdicombe is coming to town to make us all laugh out loud at Dubai Opera.

Known for his co-hosting and sketch material for the UK’s BAFTA award-winning comedy show The Last Leg, Widdicombe will be performing on Friday September 13 and he can’t wait to take to the stage.

“It looks a lovely venue,” he says. “But then I wasn’t exactly expecting it to be some old, dilapidated venue. I Google image searched it, and then said yes straight away.”

Joining Widdicombe will be Welsh comic Lloyd Langford, Maisie Adam (regularly on 8 Out Of 10 Cats), while Ed Gamble (Mock The Week) will be hosting the evening. So we’re in for a treat. And so, he says, is he.

“They’re my close friends in comedy so it should be a great bill, and really fun,” he adds. “We’re all coming out the day before so it will be good to hang out with the others.”

Despite the fact “anything over 30 degrees” is “too much” for him, he’s looking forward to exploring Dubai, even in the searing September heat.

“On my last visit [when he supported Jack Dee] I only had time to see that really massive tower,” he says. And although there’s been talk of a waterpark among the comedic group, he’s quick to try and quash that idea.

“I’ll just end up having to go on stage sunburnt,” he laughs. “So I’m 100 percent against that. It’s one of those things where you think you’re cool in the water and then get so burnt. I’m quite bad in strong heat.”

It’s safe to say what he is good at is keeping things varied – mainly, he says, because he gets “bored so quickly”.

The comic is a regular on the BBC’s Live at The Apollo, Have I Got News For You and A League of Their Own – the sports comedy panel show.

He’s also filming a second series of his show Hypothetical.

“Stand-up is great as once you have the material you can talk to the audience and make every show different. But I like to do a mixture of TV and stand-up.

“I can’t believe this is what I do,” he says {on filming a Hypothetical with his mate James Acaster]. “I’m passionate about comedy and the biggest worry is always ‘when is this going to end?’.

“We have such a laugh [on the show], and there have been loads of times we’ve lost it, like when Charlie Brooker had to communicate just by playing a penny whistle. He’s so well respected yet he’s willing to make an idiot out of himself. It’s so much fun.”

When it comes to working with big names, the 36-year-old funnyman’s had many a pinch-me moment – especially when he’s working with comedians he grew up watching.

“Every Friday I’d watch Frank Skinner, Jack Dee, Harry Hall, The Fast Show – really great comedy. I think it was a golden era.”

But what do they say about never meeting your heroes?

“Everyone’s actually been really nice,” he laughs. “Comedians have a reputation of being competitive or difficult but actually out of all the workplaces I’ve had, they’ve been the best. Amazing. Really friendly.”

And while he reflects on that golden era, he says that he thinks people are much more into comedy in general now, with shows like Live at the Apollo and the internet making it much more accessible.

“You can just go on YouTube and click on a three-minute clip. You might love it and watch more,” he says.

So comedy aside, what do comedians do in their free time?
“That’s a bit of a depressing question – I can’t believe how much free time I had before I had a child [who is now one and a half], and didn’t even realise,” he laughs. “I have a new-found respect for parents whose kids lose the plot on public transport, too. I feel their pain. I mean, I don’t do anything to help, but I get it.”

Widdicombe, whose daughter is one and a half, gets married two weeks after his Dubai show, before embarking on an UK tour.
“It will be quite strange going from Dubai to say Scunthorpe, no offence to Scunthorpe, but, you know. But what I’ve found is that the further away from London, the more up for it a crowd are. It’s a big night out. In London, there are hundreds of shows, theatre performances, comedy acts and gigs every night, there’s so much choice. If people don’t have that they are more open to it.”

And what can we expect from the Dubai show? “The sets are shorter, only 45 minutes, so it’s the best bits of what I’ll be doing on my upcoming UK tour. You could say it is my Greatest Hits.”

We’re more than ready to laugh at that compilation.
Dhs150. Fri Sep 13, 8pm. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai,

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