Lee Evans: Win Life Of Lee signed autobiography - BIG INTERVIEW

The Life Of Lee: Lee Evans
The Life Of Lee: Lee Evans
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COMEDY fans will be laughing if they win today’s book prize - signed copies of Lee Evans’ autobiography.

If you aren’t lucky enough to win you can still get to meet the funny man himself and get an autographed copy of his number one best seller, The Life of Lee.

He is signing copies in WH Smith, Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield, on Saturday, December 3, from 6pm. For more information visit www.whsmith.co.uk and click on book signings.

For the chance to win a copy, enter our free draw. Simply email your name and details, with Lee Evans Book Competition in the subject bar, to staronline@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk by Friday, November 11, 2011, at 10am.

Usual SNL rules apply. Data protection details see below.

LIFE OF LEE: Read our BIG interview below.

The waiting is finally over.

It’s been three long years, but Lee Evans is on tour once again. The King of comedy is back.

The comic is eager to explain what has made him take his show on the road once more. “I wanted to tour again because it is what I do,” asserts Lee. “I go doolally sitting around at home. I had done a play and a musical and felt it was time to tour again. I can’t not go on the road. It’s the best buzz, even though you remember halfway through the tour that it is really gruelling!”

Lee adds that, “It is so instantly creative. I adore the immediacy of it. It’s brilliant when you write something in the afternoon and gets a laugh from the audience the very same evening. I have never said anything other than that I am a stand-up comedian. I absolutely love touring!”

And so do his legions of fans. Lee is just about the best stand-up at work in this country right now – and he has an immense and devoted following to prove it. For Lee, it’s all about the fans.

His last tour, “Big,” was big enough, but this one, entitled “Roadrunner”, is absolutely massive with over 600,000 tickets sold throughout the tour. The comic will be performing 67 arena dates across the UK and Ireland this autumn and playing to more people than ever before on this record-breaking tour.

Lee will also be releasing ‘Lee Evans Roadrunner Live At The 02’ on DVD (Universal Pictures UK) which will be available to purchase from Monday 21st November. Not only this, the DVD will also be available to buy in incredible 3D from Monday 28th November – the first live stand up DVD EVER to be released in 3D.

The comedian, whose eagerly anticipated autobiography, ‘The Life of Lee’ (Penguin Books) was published this autumn and sold an amazing 16,000 copies during its first week on sale and topped the Sunday Times best sellers chart, is relaxing over a cup of tea before a warm-up gig in Norwich in the run-up to the “Roadrunner” tour. Looking slim and trim and a decade younger than his 47 years, he can be summed up by all those adjectives beginning with the letter C: charismatic, compelling, charming and completely hilarious.

Lee, who over the course of his career has sold in excess of 4 million DVDs, pays tribute to his eternally loyal fans. “I can’t thank the people who come to see me enough. I still can’t believe that they come to see my show. A lot of people don’t have a job and don’t have what I have. So I never forget how lucky I am to be doing what I love.”

The comedian certainly has a wonderful rapport with his supporters, many of whom have avidly followed him for more than two decades.

“There are people in the audience I’ve known the 20 years. They’ve grown up with me, and have now passed me on to their kids. They know I’ll work hard and won’t let them down. There won’t be any filler in my show. We’ve got such a strong shared history.

“Fans come up to me at the stage door and say, ‘I saw you when I was just a sperm!’ That’s magical. They’ve now been coming to see me for more than two decades, and they trust what I do. They’re on my wavelength. I love that relationship.”

Never more than a minute away from the next joke, Lee deadpans that, “The fans often come up to me and say, ‘Can I have my money back? I’m going to punch your teeth in!’ No, what they actually say is, ‘You were talking about me on stage. That’s me, that is.’ And I have to reply, ’But I wasn’t around your house!’”

Lee reckons that the thrill he gets from stand-up now is, “Better than ever. Of course, I still get so, so nervous because I want it to be the very best show. But the more the audience laugh, the more that drives me – laughter in the room is absolutely contagious.

“I think it’s more enjoyable now because audiences have a better sense of who I am. In the old days, we didn’t have such a good relationship.I played every dive there is in this country; I’ve been sicked on and thrown out of every imaginable seedy venue. Early on, I wondered what it was all about. But now when I get to a great city and I see all the people who have come to watch me, I know what it was all about.”

The comic is like a good wine – he just gets better with age. Lee, who won the coveted Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993 and then went from strength to strength on the live circuit, believes that, “This is the best and biggest tour I’ve ever done.

“I’ve learnt an awful lot about how to write and perform better. In the old days, I’d run across the stage and make a joke for no reason. Now every joke has a point. Beforehand I think, ‘What’s the punchline for that?’ I’ve really enjoyed the process. The more you learn, the better you get.”

Lee adores playing arenas. “People say that they’re too big, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. We get a really good atmosphere going in an arena. When people come to see me, they want to have a good time. They are keen to sit in a room with a bunch of other people and laugh. And, guess what, I’ve found the more people there are in the room, the bigger the laughs. There is a real sense of occasion in an arena.”

The other reason Lee’s live shows are so successful is that he put so much work into them. Not only does he give his all on stage – he famously sweats buckets during the course of his show, brings towels on stage to dry himself off and has had 20 suits made for this tour – but he also throws everything into the preparation. And that really pays off. It’s like the great golfer Lee Trevino said, “It’s funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get!”

Lee reveals that, “I’ve spent masses and masses of time preparing for ‘Roadrunner.’ I spent ages designing the lighting, the sound, the music, the set, and the drawings. Everything you see during the evening takes ages to pound through. It’s lovely to see what you’ve imagined in your head come so vividly to life.”

In the best sense of the word, Lee is a complete perfectionist. “I don’t leave anything to anyone else,” he observes. “I spend ages working on it. I push my ideas through and tell people, ‘No, trust me, it’ll work.’ The producers say, ‘But you’ll need another lorry for that!’ That doesn’t bother me, though. Some people tell me that I should just put on a suit, run on, tell a few jokes and run off again. But I could never do that. I’m not interested in money. I’m only interested in producing the best possible show.”

Lee proceeds to discuss the themes that he will be tackling in “Roadrunner”. He says that his material has to come from him or it has no validity. “It has to be personal,” he asserts. “I can’t write anything else. It has to be about me.”

So, many of his best routines revolve around his family and friends.

Lee will talk, for instance, about his 28 year marriage to Heather. He jokes that, “I’m glad the marriage has lasted so long because a lot of my comedy has come out of it! My wife works with me on the writing, you see!”

He continues that, “My dealings with my wife are always a major concern in my stand-up. I talk about the niggly bits that always boil to the surface and the arguments we have about the pettiest things.”

In “Roadrunner”, Lee will also discuss his parents, ageing, sport, animals, shopping channels, the banking crisis and his chronic inability ever to ask anyone for directions.

Much of his material pivots on Lee’s exasperation with the infuriating frustrations of everyday life. For example, he rails against the difficulty of finding a bargain flight. “Flights seem to be getting cheaper, but in fact with all the other stuff they charge you for, you end up paying the same, if not more. They even make you pay to go to the loo. If that’s not a complete rip-off, I don’t know what is!”

Lee has spent much of the last year writing his keenly awaited autobiography. He has had many offers to pen his life story before, but only felt the time was right now. “I started with nothing, and I’m now playing arenas – it’s been an amazing journey. I wanted to get something down and say, ‘Right, this is the story of the Evans’. When the day comes where you have to say, ‘See you later,’ you want to be able to look back on an incredible journey. I hope people love the book. Having finished it now, I feel a great sense of achievement.”

He is not short of creative plans for the future. Lee has already penned two movie scripts and is in the midst of composing a musical.

The man is a pure, relentless creative dynamo. He laughs that, “There is no way I can rest. I meet so many people in the street who really like what I do – I feel like I owe it to them to keep working. There is always something to do. I can’t stop. I remember very clearly when Heather and I had nothing, so now I just keep working as I’m driven by insecurity.”

The comedian closes with a promise to his ever faithful supporters. “I won’t let the fans down. Although, I have to say,” he adds with a wry grin, “some of them are letting me down – they look a bit scruffy!”

Lee concludes that, “I’d just like to thank the audience for sharing a bit of their precious time with me. I really appreciate it. They’ve been my friends for years and years and supported me through rain and shine. They’ve stuck with me. I hope they leave here having had a really good night. I hope they think, ‘I’ve been in the House of Lee and I’ve had a fantastic time!’”

* Lee Evans Roadrunner Live At The O2 DVD is released on Monday, November 21. His autobiography, Life Of Lee, is available now, released by Penguin Books.