Life is ‘slow’ funny for relaxed comedian Paul

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YOU really couldn’t accuse comedian Paul Tonkinson of living life in the fast lane.

He is at present in the middle of his first stand-up tour in his 18-year career.

“I don’t like to rush things,” he said, a little tongue in cheek.

“The material’s not a problem. I’ve got enough stuff – it builds up over 18 years. It has been really good fun. I’m really enjoying it.”

Paul said he has done clusters of dates before but this is the first time that he has embarked on a long tour all at once.

He added: “It’s a challenge to say I’m all of the evening’s entertainment. When it’s a comedy club night it’s really shared. If it’s a great one that’s fantastic but I’ve got a freedom with appearing solo that I’m really enjoying.

“Usually I go on last as the headliner and I might be the fourth bloke of the evening, so I might not be able to talk about some stuff because someone else already talked about it.”

So what will his subject matter be? “There’s lot of family stuff and I talk about being a dad.” Paul’s children are nine, 12 and 13.

“I talk about getting obsessed by things like energy wastage and turning the power off round the house. I gain pleasure from denying my family electricity as revenge! It’s just observational stuff that it’s quite easy to identify with.”

Paul said he realised how much his priorities in life have changed when he got really excited about buying a new butter dish.

At one time he would have been out clubbing all night and now he writes a column for Runner’s World and “that involves me going running”.

Paul’s running skills certainly came in handy when he visited the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq to entertain the British troops stationed out there.

He admitted: “It was scary. Obviously I’m a bit of a coward. When the aircraft landed in Basra, they turned the lights off so no-one could see you land. Then you literally have to sprint for safety. That’s something I’m just not psychologically suited to do.

“It feels very valuable to do those trips. You feel like you’re serving a purpose, because you talk to people afterwards as well.”

An experience that was pretty different to sprinting from aircraft in a war zone was winning Celebrity Come Dine With Me last year. He was up against comedians Sean Hughes, Duncan ‘chase me’ Norvelle and Gina Yashere.

He said Duncan Norvelle “was such a nice man, an absolutely lovely human being who had never set foot in a kitchen in his life”, whereas Gina Yashere was on an LA-style macrobiotic diet, “uber healthy and having coffee enemas and talking about it. That’s not nice over dinner.”

He admits that, although he put a lot of effort into the show, usually what he rustles up is pappa’s pasta bake, containing whatever’s in the fridge at the time.

Paul, who also went touring with Michael McIntyre last year, has been working with comedy magician John Archer on a situation comedy, provisonally called Insecurity, about night security staff and the strange events that happen at night.

He says that it’s being “peddled round” various TV companies at the moment.

Apart from that, he says he’s “doing bits and bobs and if you read between the lines you can see that I’m quite lazy. I like to take time in between projects, as long as the quality is good.

“You can’t fake drive. If you haven’t got it, you haven’t got it. Why beat yourself up about it?”

Paul, who was born in Scarborough and lived in Northallerton in north Yorkshire before going to drama school in Manchester, said: “I’m looking forward to coming to Sheffield. One of my favourite noises in a comedy club is lots of northern women laughing.

“I guess it just reminds me of my childhood.”

Paul’s Fancy Man tour is at the City Hall next Thursday.