Ahead of two Dubai gigs, Rob Garratt meets the 58-year-old British Comedy Store regular, who has written scripts for Gordon Brown and played the Grim Reaper.
This isn’t your first time in Dubai.
I’ve been to Dubai a few times and done the Laughter Factory. It’s a funny old place. The first time I went was in the mid-’90s, now there are more and more tall buildings and ski slopes. In Dubai, if you’re looking for some history, you’re talking about 1982.
Can we expect any good old expat jokes?
Expats, in the nicest way, make their own little bit of home. Very often it’s a kind of England that doesn’t really exist anymore. I steer away from all that clichéd expat stuff, which you must get a lot. What I find about people in Dubai is that they always feel really glad to be there, and they can’t understand why we’re not there.
When you were MCing at the Comedy Store comedian Jim Jefferies was assaulted by a heckler. Ever get scared?
Scared? I’ve been a bit worried from time to time, not of physical assault, just ‘can I get through to the end of the set without being booed off?’ Heckling isn’t as bad as it used to be. I appreciate good heckles, I embrace them and enjoy them. Generally the thing about hecklers is that they’re not that good – we do this all the time, and they do it once.
You were cast as the Grim Reaper in a Virgin Atlantic ad. What’s it like being told your face looks like death?
The funny thing was I spent two days in make-up and the first time I went out someone recognised me. I auditioned for five seconds and I got the job.
How did you end up scriptwriting for former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown?
A friend of a friend introduced us. I know a little bit about football and he was giving a speech to the Scottish Football Association, and I wrote some gags to go in it. What a nice man – very friendly, very appreciative, very generous.
He knows a lot about stuff – you can chat about movies, or sport or pop music – more so than Tony Blair, even though he seems a lot more media savvy.
So who’s the hardest boss you’ve worked for?
I’ve written for Jonathan Ross, Phil Jupitus, Mark Lamarr, but the hardest people are corporate, heads of banks and executives in companies. You can write the greatest gags and they just haven’t even got a clue how to deliver them, or even know why it’s a joke.
Tell us about your forthcoming novel.
It’s about two comedians, one who is unsuccessful and one who is, and they’ve both known each other some time. The unsuccessful one knows something about the other and is blackmailing him. Some of that might have come from personal experience.
Tim Clark performs for Punchline Comedy at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday June 20 and Jumeirah Creekside Hotel on Thursday June 27, various times and prices. www.timeouttickets.com.