“It’s taken me 10 years to go two-and-a-half minutes down the road,” joked Chris Ramsey about his road to comedy fame, which has seen him go from playing his first ever gig at the Dog and Parrot pub in 2007 to headlining Newcastle Arena, just a stone’s throw away.
As he makes his way to his biggest-ever gig on May 6, the 30-year-old will pass the very pub where he performed his first ever stand-up routine.
But instead of playing to a handful of pub punters, he’s hoping to tickle the ribs of a capacity 10,000 crowd at the arena.
I caught up with the South Shields comedian at the Metro Radio Arena as he checked out the cavernous space he’s hoping to fill.
He’ll be the first North East comic to headline the stage, but he’s confident the home crowd will do him proud on the final date of his Is That Chris Ramsey? tour, which has seen him travel the length and breadth of the country.
“It’s really exciting, but also really scary,” he said.
“When we started talking about this date it was a choice between doing some city halls at the end of the tour or the arena.
“As a comic, I never set out to tour arenas, but once someone had planted the seed there, that was it, I wanted to do it.
“The best analogy I can think of is someone daring you to jump in a stream and you doing it to see if you can.
“I think we can fill the arena though, there’s so much support up here.
“People from the North East even come to other places on the tour and when you ask them why they say it’s a night away. It’s great to be someone’s social activity. “This has been my favourite tour so far and I always end my tours in Newcastle. Tour management have tried to do Newcastle dates half way through before and I’ve always said it has to be at the end.
“It means my wife can come and see it and my friends, and we can have a night out afterwards.”
Since his first ever open-mic night, Chris’ CV has gone from strength to strength, with five solo stand-up shows at the Edinburgh festival, as well as numerous TV appearances including a starring role in BBC2 sitcom Hebburn and stints on Celebrity Juice; Live at the Apollo; co-presenting I’m a Celebrity: Extra Camp; presenting Virtually Famous and his own self-titled show, The Chris Ramsey Show on Comedy Central.
Speaking about his rise to comedy fame, the funnyman said: “My first ever gig was at the Dog and Parrot in 2007, which you can just see from the window here, which was to around 25-30 people.
“Now I’m playing here, so it’s taken me 10 years to go two-and-a-half minutes down the road. To be the first North East comic to play here is amazing.
“I’ve been texting Al Murray and Kevin Bridges about how to interact with an arena crowd and they said don’t go straight in with asking them questions, get out there, talk about stuff and take it from there.
“It’s crazy, but as a comic I like playing to a bigger crowd. I think it’s because if you have a crowd of 10,000 people and you make half of them laugh, that’s 5,000 people laughing.
“But if you have a crowd of 30 people and you make only half of them laugh that’s only 15 people.”
But perhaps the comic’s biggest role to date is becoming dad to 17-month-old son Robin.
Chris says audiences can expect stories about the trials and tribulations of being a parent in the show, but, rest assured, it won’t be all baby chat.
“My humour is stories about my life, I’m primarily a story-teller,” he said. “There’s stories in there about my kid, but it’s not too dad-heavy, I’m not bombarding people with it.
“I also talk about my fears, confidence. There’s also some scary stories in there about sleep walking.
“It’s nice to get everything from a crowd: you want the feels, the laughter, the happiness.
“You want them to experience the full range of emotion.”
Speaking about juggling fatherhood with being on the road on tour, Chris said: “I love my job, it’s the best job in the world, but everyone has a moan about their job and it is difficult juggling touring with a 17-month-old and a wife.
“It’s tough ... but there’s no way I’m going back to working at the Inland Revenue in Long Benton.”
•Tickets for Chris Ramsey at Metro Radio Arena are available from http://www.metroradioarena.co.uk/events/chris-ramsey/
•Fancy seeing Chris Ramsey at Metro Radio Arena for free?
We have a pair of tickets to give away for his biggest show to date on Saturday, May 6.
To be in with a chance of winning answer this question: which of these was a comedy starring Chris?
Send your answer and contact details on a postcard to Chris Ramsey Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton, Sunderland, DH4 5RA.
Alternatively, email your answer and contact details, including your telephone number, to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk
Closing date: Thursday, May 4.