Andy Parsons has enjoyed great popularity; widely known for his regular appearances on Mock The Week and his BBC Radio 2 show Parsons and Naylor’s Pull-Out Sections. He’s currently in the midst of his I’ve Got A Shed tour, so Impact caught up with him to see what the fuss is all about.
We are very excited for your show at The Palace Theatre in Mansfield and your tour is already well underway. Can you tell us a little about what we should expect from it?
It’s called ‘I’ve Got a Shed’. I write from my shed, so it seemed like a good starting point! But you have to think, is it safe to stay in your shed when Boris Johnson is the most popular politician in the country, and when politicians are at their lowest ebb? Apparently they are less respected than either estate agents or journalists, and when comedians are starting to stand to be politicians, hasn’t the world gone a bit mad?
Where has your interest in politics come from, is it something you have always been fascinated with?
I’m just something of a news junkie- not just politics. Whatever is going on in the world- sport, what’s happening in different countries. I like to know what’s happening in the world. Even if I wasn’t doing comedy… The first thing I tend to do in the morning is to have a little look and see what’s happened over night.
Are there any other aspects to your tour other than the politics/ current affairs?
The first half is pretty much sharing with the audience about me. A lot of comedians use their families as scapegoats for their comedies. I’ll admit I have far too many embarrassing stories without shopping members of my family, so I basically shop myself for the entire first half, and that gives me good leeway to have a go at anybody else. The whole idea of the show is not to whack politics down people’s throats; there is also an anti finale and a guaranteed way of impressing your partner in bed. So there is hopefully a little something for everybody.
You have had quite a diverse life, and I’m sure many people will be impressed that you studied at Cambridge. How did you find yourself moving from that into comedy?
Well I did law at university, so I took a job with a law firm straight after university. I managed to be sufficiently rubbish at it, and after six months they offered me redundancy. So I had three months redundancy money and during that time I wrote for the BBC. There was an open access show at the time called ‘Weekending’ on Radio 4 and they would pay you. If you managed to get a one liner on they’d pay you around seven pounds or some princely sum like that, and if you got enough of those seven pounds and with a bit of redundancy money… I managed to eke out a living and worked pretty hard to make sure I didn’t have to go back and do any law.
A lot of people often say in regards to comedians that it’s ‘more the way you said it’ than the joke itself. Does it come naturally to you to make your jokes funny or do you actually have to work on the way you put things across?
Getting the words in the right order DEFINITELY helps with the joke.
How do you respond to criticism regarding your work? Is it something that is difficult to avoid with audiences these days being more conscientious?
There’s always criticism out there, but I guess now with online social media, criticism has reached epic proportions. But if comedians get criticised, how much do politicians get criticised? Everybody’s job has got harder. But good criticism is a vital thing because how can you get better without some inkling in which direction you should be heading in.
Do you find that you need inspiring, is there anything you do to get the creative juices flowing or does it come to you quite naturally?
Well the shed is a good little place. You’ve got to have your own little space somewhere, haven’t you?! The garden equipment has been chucked out the shed, there’s a little armchair in there, a little television and a little kettle, and to be honest you don’t need too much more. The shed is my space! But I want to make the point that it’s not a male space. We have two armchairs down there, my wife is a big fan of the shed as well and we often take the baby monitor down there and leave the little lad in the house!
You are closely associated as a comedian with Harry Naylor, how would you say he has impacted on your work?
When you’re starting out, if it’s just you and the audience (which is what stand up is) it can be very a fairly lonely existence, as you can imagine. So having two of you on stage, if it’s all going belly up, it’s nice to have someone to have a laugh with. Even if the audience aren’t having a laugh at the time! In terms of gaining confidence, a double act is a good way of doing things.
Mock the Week is obviously incredibly popular. What can you tell us about your time at Mock the Week and what you have learnt?
Well hopefully the time is still ongoing! We are expecting to come back next summer. You can imagine it’s a right old bum-fight, there’s one microphone and six comics after all. We all get on after the show, but during it’s a right bum-fight.
What does the future hold for you in terms of your comedy?
The tour is on for another month or so and the DVD Slacktivist will be out on November 25th, and at that point I shall retire to my shed for a small while to put my feet up.
Andy Parson’s forthcoming show is at the Palace Theatre in Mansfield on the 25th of October.
Image: Ellis O’Brien