The word according to Dave Spikey

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Funny man Dave Spikey is gearing up for a rib-tickling show at the Sunderland Empire. Katy Wheeler caught up with him to find out more.

I’M happy to report that Dave Spikey is every bit as endearing in person as he is on the television.

Since winning the nation’s hearts as cabaret star Jerry St Clair in Phoenix Nights, which he co-wrote with Peter Kay and Neil Fitzmaurice, Dave has been a regular on TV screens.

However, it is the stage where he feels most at home.

He’s in the midst of doing what he loves best – touring, and he’ll be bringing his Words Don’t Come Easy tour to Sunderland next month.

So what can audiences expect from this curiously-named tour?

“People can expect fun, fun, fun all the way,” explains the double British Comedy Award winner.

“It’s a show that’s sort of evolved from the last one. When I got the posters back from the printers, I thought ‘Words Don’t Come Easy is a rubbish title’, but it comes from the fact that I’m fascinated by the English language, its ambiguities and how it can be taken in different ways.”

He added: “On the last tour I deconstructed song lyrics and highlighted how you get these rubbish lyrics in the middle of a lovely song.

“For example, Vanessa Williams’s Save the Best for Last is a lovely song, then in the middle of it you have this line about snow coming down in June.

“I mean, what was she thinking of?

“I also take local papers on stage and point out stories I find amusing as an outsider. Such as people outraged about dog poo in such and such a park.

“The audience love it as it makes a connection with where they live.

“There’s some inspired journalism, but it’s interesting how one word can change the complexity of a story. Sometimes you just get lazy journalists, but other times you get journalists who try and get stuff past the sub-editors.

“From there, I started looking at other areas of language. I remember when I was little, my grandmother saying to me ‘today I’m getting two teeth taken out and a gas fire put in.’

“It was two statements that really should have been separated with a pause.

“So I talk about all the things that are said to you growing up like your mum and dad saying ‘Do you think I was born yesterday?’ And you think, ‘no, I’m not stupid.’”

This tour was inspired by a fantastic response to his deconstruction of song lyrics in his 2008/09 Best Medicine Tour, and his fascination with the vagaries of the English language.

He explained: “On this tour, I also go into the language of menus. I have a big problem with gastro pubs.

“Where I come from a pub’s a pub, it doesn’t have any of the nonsense on the menu that gastro pubs have like pan-fried mushrooms. Of course you fry mushrooms in a pan.

“Sex education is a classic case of Words Don’t Come Easy as you don’t want to be there and neither do your parents. I also look at all the things your friends say to you in the playground.”

Dave says he’s looking forward to heading to the North East, which he feels has many similarities with his native North West.

“I love it up in the North East. I have a special affinity with that place,” he said. “There’s a great similarity between the people of the North East and the people of the North West.

“I feel at home there. The people are warm and friendly and say hello to you in the street. I think the Sunderland Empire is one of the best theatres in the country.

“I like being on my own, with no distractions, telling my story. When you do panel shows it’s very competitive to get your funnies in. My humour doesn’t fit so well in that arena as it’s more conversational.

“On stage you can improvise and it’s the best thing ever seeing people laughing.”

It is of course TV comedy which has helped to make Dave a big name.

Aside from Phoenix Nights, Dave also wrote and starred in Dead Man Weds and Magnolia and is one of the regular hosts of the TV Book Club on Channel 4.

At the minute, he’s also back working with fellow Phoenix Nights writer Neil Fitzmaurice. For the past nine months, they’ve been penning Glitterball, a sitcom set in Blackpool, about the bitchy world of ballroom dancing.

Dave is juggling his tour with casting and showing the show to the BBC.

Stand-up comedy, TV comedy, a talented raconteur – despite the title of his tour it appear words, and funny ones at that, come very easy to Dave Spikey.

l Dave Spikey is at the Sunderland Empire on March 16. Tickets priced £18.50 are available from 0844 871 302 and online at www.SunderlandEmpire.org.uk