TV star Frank Skinner says ahead of Sheffield show that he isn't afraid to laugh at himself
Comedy star and TV show host Frank Skinner, who is appearing at Sheffield City Hall in September, has a remarkably laid-back approach to his live stage appearances.
The Room 101 presenter’s last tour was called The Man With No Show, which saw him perform an hour of completely improvised stand-up comedy with no material and no set list.
Of course, he’s been a stand-up comedian for at least 32 years, so a lifetime’s experience of making audiences laugh stands him in good stead.
At least his new tour Showbiz has a definite formula, although Frank, who is also a documentary presenter and radio broadcaster, is remarkably candid about his approach to shows.
Frank said: “All my shows are basically me talking about my life since the last show happened.
“People say it's really different from my early stuff. I write them the same, but do different stuff and live a different life.
“I’m not really very good at invention, so it’s basically me telling stuff that’s happened.”
He added: “I’m calling the tour Showbiz – one reason was, when I was putting the show together, it suddenly occurred to me there’s quite a few showbiz-type stories in it.”
The other reason is a joke at his own expense. “I also like the picture of me on the poster looking craggy and weather beaten in black and white with ‘Showbiz’ in pink letters. It’s a fabulous juxtaposition of the two.”
Frank has a serious reason for writing a show where he can improvise some of the content.
“For me the choice is between keeping it fresh and being beautifully honed. I’d rather keep it fresh.
“A guy came to see me and he directs stand-up shows. I think he was slightly appalled that I do feel a bit loose.
“As long as they’re laughing. I don’t care if they’re laughing at stuff that’s never been heard before.
“I don’t want it to get polished. It does do your head in if you’re doing it exactly the same.”
This tour is keeping Frank busy for 2019 but he has an exciting TV job in the offing. “I can’t tell you what I’m doing next year. One job I’m doing is an absolute dream, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It involves travel to the US.”
He’s lucky enough only to have to take on work he wants to do these days. “If I see someone presenting a doc (documentary) and you know it’s just a job, it puts me off a bit.
“I want to see obsessives, even if they’re obsessed with things I’m not interested in.”
One of Frank’s offbeat interests is Anglo Saxon history. One reason he chose to tour with support act Pierre Novellie of The Mash Report is that Pierre has a degree in early history, so he is happy to look around old churches.
That’s a long way from Frank’s past reputation, built on laddish football TV shows with former comedy partner David Baddiel.
He still enjoys touring. “I love hotels, I love the travel. I love pulling on to motorway services at 2am.
“That to me is as glamorous as being on stage. There’s something romantic about about it. That moment when a hotel door opens and you don’t know what you’re going to get is thrilling for me.”
He adds: “My partner thinks I’ve got high seratonin levels. We’ve got a glass window in the oven and I watch sausages cook through.”
Frank Skinner: Showbiz is at Sheffield City Hall on September 19. Tickets: www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk