Following his hugely successful tour of the UK in 2017, stand-up comedian, poet, improviser and TV stalwart Phill Jupitus is bringing his acclaimed stand-up show Juplicity at the Key Theatre this weekend.
Ahead of his show ESP’s comedy columnist Sarah Slack sat down with Phill to talk poetry, pre-show routines and what it’s like performing on the West End…
Phill: “It snowballs as it rolls down the hill of the dates. I wish I had the discipline of my comedy brothers and sisters and say ‘it’s about this!’ By the end, who knows, it could be about my love of the bridge work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. What happens on the tour becomes added to the tour!”
What was the driving force behind deciding to perform poetry on your new tour?
“I support myself as Porky The Poet, so he goes out and does 40 minutes to start the evening. Because of Buzzcocks and other jobs I was given, I let Porky and the poetry slide but after about a decade I came back to it and wrote new poems, often just chucking stuff out on Facebook for mates to read.”
Audiences may also know you for your very successful stint on the West End, including roles in Spamalot, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the musical Hairspray where you played Edna to critical acclaim. What was it like singing whilst dressed in drag after performing stand-up for such a long time?
“I was thrown into it, three months in a dress, wig and lipstick. I’d just come out of 6 Music and felt a bit adrift: ‘do I want to do stand-up again or this or that’, and then Hairspray comes along and then Spamalot comes along. As a stand-up, you don’t think, ‘this is it now’: there are always other options. That’s why there’s a little resentment about stand-ups because we’re so adaptable.”
You’ve been performing comedy for over 20 years now since your early days of supporting Billy Bragg in the 1980s. Do you have any routines or rituals that you still like to maintain whilst on the road?
“I used to have lunch on the day of a show because for years I told myself that I liked the energy of being hungry: turns out, no I don’t, because you’re actually irritable. So before a show now, I have a proper knife and fork dinner, and it makes me feel like a new guy on stage.
“The other thing I try to do, depending on the actual geography, is travel to the next town after a gig, so I’ll wake up where I’m playing that night. Again, it’s a very different energy to what you’re doing because you’re in situ which also gives you stuff to talk about in the first ten minutes of the show. And wherever I am, I look for art galleries and museums, I’ve got a thing about record shops, bookshops, and second-hand tat shops where I might be able to find old badges. Everywhere I go, I try to find those five things.”
Phill Jupitus will be performing Juplicity at the Vivacity Key Theatre on Sunday September 16. To book tickets call 01733 207239.
Photo: Lead image Andy Hollingworth