Andy Parsons Interview
Posted by Rhien on Sun, 06 Nov 2011.
At 11am on the eve of a another leg of his Gruntled tour this time in the middle of mid Wales, Andy Parsons takes the time out to do an interview with us. Basking in the beautiful welsh sunshine (the sun really was shining he assures us), with no idea what's going on in the world I decided that was the time to start the interview.
How did you get started in comedy?
Well, I did law at university and hated that and I was trying to find something to stop having to do any more law. There was a show called weekending that ran for ages on radio 4, and they used to let you turn up on a Tuesday lunchtime and pitch ideas to them literally anyone could do it and pretty much anyone did. There was a mass scrum of all humanity trying to shout ideas at a producer who would take very few of them. But that was my introduction to BBC radio and I managed to get some stuff on there, and from there the spitting image people took some scripts from weekending and liked some of the stuff I had written and that was it basically, started writing for spitting image and haven't had to do any law since.
Was this the first time you knew you wanted to be a comedian?
You know I never set out to be a comedian, it was not something I ever wanted to do. I sort of fell into it and obviously I was making money from the writing and thought it would be advantageous to do some stand up, in the sense that the stuff that was rejected it was quite nice to go and perform it that evening. And find out whether they were in fact correct.
What was it like working as the lead writer for Spitting Image?
Well , you know what an incredible first job to have in television really. What an introduction and a show that is still talked about today.
How would you describe working on Mock the Week?
You can imagine it's quite a bun fight Mock the Week. You never get asked individual questions , most of the panel shows you get asked individual questions and it directed to you. But with mock the week its just chucked up in the air, and also if you will have noticed it most panel shows they don't have all comedians its usually two comedians two minor celebrities and a Politian or something a right mix. This time you have seven comedians all fighting over one topic and we actually record it for three hours to boil it down to half an hour. It's a fairly gruelling event, but possibly surprising we all get on off stage in a way that's quite surprising. And we keep in touch between series.
Do you miss as Dara O'Brian calls him the 'Dark heart' Frankie Boyle on the show?
I miss him, but I'm still in contact with Frankie. So I still get the dark heart on a personal basis.
What do you think of his controversial style of humour?
Well I think Frankie regards it as very successful. Obviously you pick your own fights and Frankie picks quite a few of them.
When you pick up a paper or watch the news, do you automatically scan it for jokes?
Obliviously when you're doing mock the week it helps if you have that state of mind, but generally you watch the news as anyone else get angry excite or emotional in the same way as anyone else. why are they doing that how are they doing that is that really the right thing to be doing, and from that the mention is where the comedy comes from.
What is the best part of being on Tour and going around the country?
Easily the worst part is going around the country. The best bit is doing the live show. You do two hours you've written it you perform it there's nowhere to hide there will be stuff going on with the audience which is unrepeatable. There will always be some part of any live show that will never happen again, you haven't got six other people fighting for space, you haven't got a producer telling you what to do there aren't cameras all over the place it going out live there's all of that excitement and that sheer buzz of doing a live show is unsurpassed.
Is there more pressure filming DVD of your tour, than a regular date?
Yeah I suppose there is more pressure. I guess if your slightly higher up the food chain than I am, you will get 2 or more dates to film it and they can cut between. My budget wasn't sufficient to do that, so we were at the Shepherds Bush Empire and whatever happens on that night will be on the DVD. There is a certain amount of pressure if you don't want to be looking back at it in a couple of years later seeing stuff that you're not happy with. At the same time it's very exciting because not everybody gets to do a DVD.
What can we expect from the new tour Gruntled?
The starting point for Gruntled was David Cameron, who had in his wisdom decided to find out how happy Britain was and so he asked the office of national statistics to come up with a happiness index so he could work out how happy Britain was at any given time. Now that was at the start of the year, now I had decided then I suggested then it was not a great idea as we are in an economic downturn. So that was the starting point, as I was trying to work out before they reported back how happy Britain. I was correct in that assumption in that the office of statistics have been told to put that on the back burner.
Do does material just come to you, someone like George Bush for example that must be a gold mine?
Obviously if you were doing too much about George Bush people would be questioning how topical your show is. There is a line in the show where I say essentially watch some television, shout at the television remember what I've shouted at the television and shout it at the audience.
I see you've performed all over the world, how do the audiences compare?
Luckily very very similarly. You'd be amazed at how much translates, you can do George Bush jokes all over the world and people will laugh
What was your favourite venue that you have performed at?
I suppose in some ways doing the DVD at the shepherds bush empire is a place you've been to, to do rock gigs you've seen some of your favourite bands there and to do your DVD there is something very special.
I thank Andy for his time, and he tells me how excited he is about coming to Leicester to perform at the Curve on the 11th November.
Interview By Rhien Shephard