LIFE’S tiniest annoyances have helped to turn Rhod Gilbert into a big star.
But the Welshman who has made a career out of getting himself into a tangle about everything from expensive electric toothbrushes to washing machine doors not opening when they click reckons he’s calming down.
“I don’t necessarily expect anyone to get as wound up about certain things,” admits Rhod, as he prepares for the second of a two-night Sheffield City Hall visit this evening.
“That’s the point with my stuff, you are watching a person like Basil Fawlty slamming his car with a tree.
“You might not get that wound up, but you can relate to it. You’re watching a man on the edge. I’m probably a bit like that.
“I’m a stress bunny and that’s what you are watching on stage, somebody who gets very stressed about things you might not get so worried about.
“But this show is a lot more mellow than previous. There’s plenty of ranting and raving, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more me looking back on what I used to be like.
“It’s a bit more reflective. I’m standing calmly looking back at the insanity – ‘I was off my head, what was I thinking’ – it’s probably easier to relate to this one. I’m trying to chill out a bit.”
The show title – The Man With The Flaming Battenberg Tattoo mimics the hit book/film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – is inspired by Rhod’s actual tattoo. The content is a controlled explosion of many real-life gripes.
“It’s noticing those little things. The little click on the washing machine genuinely irritates me – it clicks and it won’t open. Perhaps not to the degree I’m putting it across in the show, but there’s always some base line of truth in there.
“There are a million tiny irritations out there and my stand up just turns the volume up.
“Like on trains… all my life it slightly irritated me the way they use the word vestibule for what is effectively a freezing cold bit where you sit on your suitcase because you’ve paid a fortune and there’s no seats left.
“That drives me insane but it’s only in this show I’m banging on about it.
“While my on-stage character has always been a comic exaggeration, it’s not invented, it is what I am like; petty, argumentative, contrary, I get a bee in my bonnet about the tiniest things and go on and on about them.
“I’m still like that but I’m not as bad as I was. I’m starting to realise what I’ve been like and I better do something about it.
“It’s been a very odd process doing stand up and coming to terms with who and what I am.”
Rhod’s profile has risen greatly since previous visits with his The Award-Winning Mince Pie and The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst tours, partly because of TV shows such as Ask Rhod Gilbert and Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience.
Arguably live is where he is at his most devastating. “My shows are always a story and always 100 per cent true and 100 per cent made up. I can’t explain any more than that. It means everything I’m saying is a lie, but it’s all true.
“A tour of this size, where you’re asking this much money for people to come, you don’t mess about, the show is ready to go.
“I’ve made sure it’s value for money and at the moment it’s running two hours and 20 minutes, just me.
“If things do happen along the way I’ll try and jot down a couple of lines for the next show because the danger is this one will get longer and more waffly.
“This is already a hard show to do. It’s brutal, physically demanding, but there’s a couple of thousand people sitting in front of you expectantly; a great motivator to find energy.
“I am really enjoying it, more than any show I’ve done. I’m excited about getting out there. There’s much more light and shade.
“There’s very powerful ranting, energetic bits – you’re in that moment, in that frenzied thing and you’ve got to perform it as you wrote it – and then me sitting on a stool reading a letter I’ve written to somebody. That’s time to catch and get your breath.”