THE last time Craig Campbell was in these parts he was on a 120-date tour with the nation’s most controversial stand-up comedian.
As the big bearded Canadian prepares to return to Sheffield he reveals he didn’t see much of Frankie Boyle on the napalm-mouthed Scot’s swansong trip around the arenas.
“He expected a little bit of turbulence. I say expected, I think he designed a lot of turbulence and knew he would have to get somebody the wings wouldn’t come off,” he says of his support slot, which included a busy Motorpoint Arena.
“It worked out pretty good – it was a fun tour all in all. I would have liked to have spent more time with Frankie in the down times but he was mostly on the phone to his lawyers.”
We also point out the bearded Mock The Week star, who was in litigation with Jordan during the tour, maybe wanted to pick the most Scottish-sounding comedian he could.
“I can see where you’re coming from but I don’t think in any way it was by design,” replies Craig.
“If there was an ulterior motive outside of the show itself that I was hired for it might have been in the current climate for Frankie maybe an extra bit of security.”
Anyone who has maybe caught Craig on his previous visits to Sheffield’s comedy clubs over the last 10 years or his higher profile appearances on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Russell Howard’s Good News will know of his spot-on observations of British cultural foibles.
It will likely be central to his full first UK tour, taking him back to Sheffield venue The Lescar on Wednesday and Thursday and comes of watching us from the perspective of a Canadian living in Devon.
Craig quit London with his English partner to live in a former wood-cutters cottage on the Somerset border, north of Exeter.
“It’s a great part of the world and has treated me well. We’ve got a special place down there and were really welcomed by the community. We buy bread and meat from our neighbours, untreated milk and eggs from the farm down the road, live in a place with no street lights and a well in the yard and I’ve got a local show in Tiverton once a month.”
Being so rural doesn’t get in the way of touring, even though his gigs take him back to London, the rest of the country and beyond.
“As a Canadian I absolutely don’t mind a couple of hours on the motorbike or in the car. I’d be doing it from London except with two hours stopped on the way to the M25,” he says.
Ex-athlete Craig’s inventive storytelling and booming charm travels well with audiences keen to have our speed camera etiquette and sometimes absurd Britishness thrust back at them by a bloke in an ‘I Love Cheese’ t-shirt.
An Edinburgh Fringe favourite who was part of comedy trio The Dinks, Craig finds animated and boisterous humour in the mundane.
Certainly the exposure of the Boyle tour confirmed or introduced his talents to new and old fans.
“I was over the moon when Frankie called me and offered me the spot. I was bouncing off the walls excited.
“Even without the arena dates we were in the neighbourhood of 180,000 tickets – and many were people who were ‘comedy active’.
“People were going out to a comedy gig and interested in seeking out more comedy.
“The show in Barnsley I did I had a good number of people from Sheffield come to seek me out on the back of that tour – some weren’t able to get to a show in Sheffield so I was pretty flattered by that.
“Then I’ve performed in Sheffield a lot over the past few years.
“I was at the Grin Up North festival last year and I have played The Lescar since day one.”