You’re about halfway through your UAE tour. How are you finding the place?
I’ve just checked into the Mövenpick Hotel [JBR]. I’ve only seen the lobby, but, so far, indications are good. Is [Mövenpick] anything to do with the ice cream? I think you’d have to be a massive surrealist to discover the link between the two – when someone’s halfway through making some ice cream, he thinks: ‘I’d be quite good in the service industry.’ I’ll find out when I order ice cream for lunch.
How does Dubai compare to your home town of Sheffield, in the UK?
Well, the weather in Sheffield is what I’d describe as exciting. As a person from the north of England, I can’t get my head round the notion of going inside [in Dubai] and finding that it’s colder than outside. The other day I found myself in an air-conditioned hotel in a sauna, drinking ice-cold water. Completely unnecessary contrast of temperature extremes. It’s quite mad.
Have audiences here been nice to you?
They have. Last night was quite raucous, so I’m hoping for more of the same.
Do you ever find it tough coming up with jokes?
There’s a strange thing that happens when I try new jokes. The first time I try a new idea, such is my enthusiasm for it, it works really well, but the next time I tell it, I’ve lost that initial enthusiasm and it tanks. It takes a few goes to get it ‘match fit’ again.
You rose to fame with ‘An Open Return Letter to Richard Branson’. How do you feel now that Branson’s Virgin lost the West Coast Mainline railway franchise in the UK?
That’s sad. I hope it hasn’t gone to First Capital. As an avid train user, Virgin seemed like quite a human company. First Capital just seems to put TVs in the back of seats. The last thing you think when you’re on a creaking, old train that’s delayed is: ‘I know what’ll improve this journey: a rubbish six-inch television in the back of the seat.’
How much do you love Sheffleid-born Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis?
Enormously. I’ve been following her for quite a while.
Not literally, we hope.
No – I actually went to the same school as her. It’s like a more wholesome version of [Sheffield-born boxer] Prince Naseem’s [rise to fame]. I felt so proud. I can’t describe it really. It’s nice to know that
I might have thrown the same javelin as she did.
Tom performs at Zinc (Wednesday 29), Grand Millennium Dubai (Thursday 30) and The Address Dubai Marina (Friday 31). www.timeouttickets.com