Child's play brings adult laughter

WHEN his son unwittingly made a quip about adopting a gay person it merely confirmed that kids can be funny.

So Justin Moorhouse is confident his whole show based around the subject of our offspring will be a hit with parents and non-parents alike.

"My 10-year-old Barney phoned me and was on about gay adoption," recalls the big man from Manchester. "He told me 'I think it is a good thing, I think we should adopt one'."

Of course, parenting isn't always quite so amusing and the 22-date Who's The Daddy Tour has Justin touching on a subject we all know something about.

"It's a show for everyone, if they have kids or they don't. It's not me moaning or on a rant - my kids are the most important thing to me - but one of the main topics is the difference between when I was a kid and kids now. They are funny things kids, how they see the modern world, but they are mollycoddled now.

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    "I'm not a cruel dad, but I am perhaps a bit too honest with my kids. I will say to Barney if he is being a dickhead 'stop being a dickhead'. It's not modern parenting, it's just honest. Generally, people put up with such bad behaviour from kids."

    In the show Justin, 39, talks about his own father who walked out when he was just four, something that could have made life really tough.

    "But my mum did a nice thing and married another man quite quickly," he says, adding without a trace of irony: "I had an idyllic childhood, though, and am completely confident that I could not have been brought up more balanced and well mannered.

    "It's one thing I hate is bad manners. If my kids turn out to be thick that's okay by me, so long as they are decent human beings because some kids have got no social skills. It's not a lecture this show, it's funny, but it is warts and all."

    We caught up with Justin during a stint in Edinburgh. He's still a regular in Sheffield and recently did a preview show at The Lescar and comes back occasionally to help out his pal and fellow Phoenix Nights star Toby Foster.

    The pair also share roles as local radio DJs, Toby as Radio Sheffield's breakfast host and Justin the afternoon slot on Manchester's Key 103.

    But on October 10 Justin is back at the Memorial Hall (and Doncaster Civic October 13) as part of his third solo tour. Last time he was there Whitesnake were on at the same time in the Oval Hall around the front.

    "I turned up and didn't know they were on and thought all these thousands of people were coming to see me," recalls Justin.

    "The difference (to doing club nights) is the audience is one of people coming to see you and have invested a lot in you. You do longer and more in theatres than pubs and clubs. It's the best bit of the job.

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    "But if you are doing a club and you're doing a bad gig you know you've got two or three other people on the bill to compensate. When you're doing your own show and people are paying 10 or 15 just to see you and it's rubbish you're in trouble.

    "That said, there's a thread and the punchlines are written so you know when you get to a certain spot, but you can give the jokes a twist which keeps me on my toes."

    As does Justin's kids, that lad Barney and two-year-old daughter Isobel from a later relationship. And it seems the eldest, an X Factor fan, may be showing signs of catching the comedy bug.

    "Barney did a short gig for his dad in Blackburn when he was nine," says Justin who was maybe inspired to tidy his routine up a tad. "I'm trying not to swear in this show so much."

    For many, of course, Justin remains tiger-faced Young Kenny from Peter Kay's hapless Chorley variety club. And he remains happy to have been associated with the series.

    "People come to see you maybe because they're fans of Phoenix Nights, but I don't think I was on it an hour if you add it up.

    "Of course, it gave me a leg up and an opportunity. I never say to people 'I've moved on now' because that's the thing most people have seen and now it has turned into a bit of a classic because they still show it. Plus the cheques keep coming in."