Jack Dee in Dubai

Laconic comedian on touring, sitcoms, Dubai and fellow comic Josh Widdicombe

The stand-up comedian talks to Paul Clifford about the thrill of the live show and performing in Dubai for the first time.

Read any interview or article about Jack Dee and you’ll most likely find the words, ‘miserable’, ‘grumpy’ and ‘deadpan’ in the first sentence. Just like in this one. The comic has spent 29 years performing and perfecting his acerbic act on stage and on television. Now, he’s about to perform in Dubai for the first time. Dee will take to the stage at Dubai World Trade Centre on Thursday March 19 to perform his ‘So What?’ show.

‘It will be the first time I’ve been anywhere other than the airport in Dubai,’ the stand-up says. ‘Not so long ago I wouldn’t have had the chance to perform there, but now I have the chance to play in cities all over the world. I’ve taken this show to Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand and the crowds have really bought into it and enjoyed it.

I’m looking forward to bringing it to the Middle East and hopefully getting the same reaction.’ The comedian spent six years away from stand-up before returning to the stage in 2013. During his time away from the live circuit he wrote and starred in four series’ of his sitcom Lead Balloon. The show focuses on Rick Spleen, a cynical comedian who gets annoyed with the annoyances that life throws at him. It’s a very ‘meta’ comedy – with similarities to Larry David’s ground-breaking Curb Your Enthusiasm – and it was well received by critics and the public. When it came to an end, Dee found that he missed the thrill of performing live.

‘Writing and making a sitcom takes a long time and I just couldn’t do that and stand-up at the same time. It was hugely enjoyable and very rewarding, but when it ended I just realised I was missing being on stage. With a television show you have to wait weeks or months before you get any reaction or feedback. With stand-up it’s instant. Every night you’re honing your act, tweaking it to fit the audience and improving all the time.’

Which takes us nicely to his latest tour, ‘So What?’ Is Dee poking fun at his own flaws and characteristics? ‘I’ve been doing this a long time now and what I’ve found is now, I’m turning within myself, I am the butt of all my jokes and the show is about my struggles with day-to-day life,’ Dee explains. ‘When I’m in Dubai, I hope to remind people how life is in the UK at the moment, and how rubbish it can be sometimes.’

Support at the show will come from Josh Widdicombe, a regular face on UK comedy panel shows, who will perhaps be a new name to expats in Dubai. Dee is thrilled to have him along. ‘He is a terrific comedian and I think it’s great to have him on the bill. Even if I say so myself, I think it’s brilliant to be able to see both of us at this gig. When my agent said he was looking for someone to open the show I didn’t expect he’d get someone so good – it’s great for the audience but following him makes my job a little bit harder.’
Dhs300-500. March 19. 7pm. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road.

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