It’s been a while since Widdicombe did his live shows, but he’s enthusiastic about getting back into the habit.
“For the first time since I started doing stand up, I had some time off,” he explains, “and I absolutely needed it. I’d been doing stand up for eight years, and I’d kind of forgotten why I was doing it and why I enjoyed it.”
Since rediscovering his love of stand-up, Josh has created his new show as a distillation of the very best he’s capable of. “I wanted to do the best ‘pure me’ stand up show, and see if I could do eighty minutes that was just – “unremitting” is probably the wrong word,” he laughs. “But I like the idea of a show being almost relentless. I think when you watch Michael McIntyre, it feels relentless.”
What that has meant is a laser-like focus on eliminating mediocrity, dumping any joke that doesn’t come up to scratch before he takes the show out on the road. “In the warm ups if I’m not loving anything, I just drop it straight away. You know that Marie Kondo woman who says get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy? I think that’s a really good way of writing a stand-up show. It’s like getting rid of the album tracks.” So if it was a record, everything that’s left would be good enough to be released as a single? “That’s what the aim is.”
So now that he’s made it, what kind of glamorous life does a touring comedy star enjoy? According to Widdicombe, there’s precious little excess and debauchery. “It’s a lot of sitting in a car with my tour manager and the support. Let me put it this way – last time on tour, the most extreme it got was we would have a running five pound wager on what the next band playing on Radio X would be.”
Still, there are occasional perks. “I’m obsessed with the hotel breakfasts. That’s the real excitement. I’m already excited about staying in the Lowry in Manchester because the last time I was there I saw Ian Rush. That’s the kind of thing I’m into.”
If it seems like a career that rarely pauses for breath, that suits Widdicombe. “I think I’m really easily bored,” he says. “I think if I just did stand up I’d go mad, or if I just did The Last Leg I’d go mad. The great thing about what I do is I can do different things and not get bored of it.” He says his plan from now on is to try and do something new every year – something he hasn’t tried before, and that scares him. But right now, he doesn’t know what those things are. So often in his career – with The Last Leg, or with his cult 90s football podcast Quickly Kevin Will He Score – the biggest successes have been unlikely propositions that suddenly caught fire with the public.
So he doesn’t have a bucket list of career ambitions. “I don’t think I’ve got any kind of weird dreams. Like, I wouldn’t suddenly go, ‘Yeah, actually, my dream is to be in EastEnders.’ Or ‘my dream is to present Location, Location, Location.’ I don’t want to be the next James Bond or anything like that.” You say that, but it’d be quite something to see. “Oh,” he says, “if it was offered, I would take it.”
Josh’s show and his show, Bit Much… will be arriving at Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre on Wednesday 20 November 2019. Tickets are available at www.bhlivetickets.co.uk
Syndicated interview courtesy of James Kettle