INTERVIEW: Tony Glynn chats to Andy Parsons ahead of his gig in Barnstaple
ANYONE who watches Mock The Week will know Andy Parsons by his mock-cockney walk, mischievous grin and fearless banter. Unlike Frankie Boyle, he's likeable in a bloke-next-door sort of way. Andy has that admirable ability to sum things up rather succinctly on TV. But a live show requires a bit more of a discussion, and so what sort of stuff does he choose to eloquently ramble on about when not prompted by a panel show host or fellow contestant?
"Well I have a shed, and I like to write in it," says a reminiscent, yearnful Andy. "But sooner or later politics will intrude and there will be restrictions on how high you can have your shed and where you can have your shed, and if there is fracking under your shed.
"Even if you think you can bury your head in the proverbial shed, someone will come along and spoil it."
The announcement that he has a shed, therefore, is not a random, pointless remark. To Andy, the shed is a sacred place – a sanctuary from the horrors of life in the modern world. Yet now, things have got so nightmarish that even the shed is under threat.
It's not all doom and gloom, however. Andy is a comedian, so any complaint is merely material for his humour.
"It would be fantastic to live in a world where everything worked properly, but that's never going to happen."
As to why Andy went into comedy in the first place, he makes a distinction between "comedian" and "funny person":
"The starting point for me as a comedian was not being funny as such but getting annoyed at stuff. And then laughing at yourself for getting annoyed.
"I started acting at uni and then realised comedy acting was more for me, and then I went on to writing. So stand up was the natural way to go."
If we are to think of comedy as a craft more than an ability to be funny, Andy – who writes as well as performs – is certainly a craftsman. But he is also a social commentator, and argues that many of the laughs come not from his own imagination but from those of public figures.
"Comedy is tragedy plus time, and it's a tragedy for some politicians that they say the things they say. But comedy for me because I can simply repeat it, and they do my job for me.
"There was a stage when everyone just quoted everything that George Bush said to get a laugh. Politics is a hilarious game!"
Yet presenting the errors of public figures, although a craft in itself, is not Andy's only quality. He has enough material in his own life to cause a few titters and discusses them in the show. Besides his hatred of Kendal Mint Cake, he relates his experience as being the headmaster's son at his school in Torbay.
"My father was also headmaster at my school, and as a 14-year-old you don't need your life any more complicated.
"If I had my time again I probably wouldn't choose to have my dad as headmaster, but what can you do if the other school is eight miles away and the one your dad's at is at the bottom of the road? But I suppose that's when I started to see the funny side of things."
And as for what makes Andy Parsons truly happy in life?
"That would be my shed of course," comes the reply. "There really is nothing better. The only down side is that you have to come out of it again."
Andy Parsons: I've Got A Shed is at The Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple on Monday, October 28, 8pm. Tickets: £16. Box office: 01271 324242, www.northdevontheatres.org.uk.