Frank’s Sheffield show is naughty and nice

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Comedian Frank Skinner sets out with a clean routine, honest, but apparently it’s all your fault if it’s a bit smutty by now.

The Room 101 star, who also recently appeared on Doctor Who, said: “It’s funny, on the evidence of people laughing. The show runs for about one and a half hours, often a little bit longer.

“I think I started working on the show probably about 18 months ago. It was quite clean then. As it’s travelled, it’s got bolder and it gets dirtier as it goes on. That’s never my intention but I’m led on by the lewd audience.

“I’ve often started off with quite a bit of clean stuff and people didn’t laugh at it. It’s nice to have a bit of light and dark.”

Frank says that the show is also a mixture of scripted material and improvisation.

“I like to have some scaffolding, stuff I’m going to do, and then I like to see what happens on the night as well. You’ve got to get into conversations and as long as people are laughing I can keep going, whether the material is written or on the spot.

“People like to be aware of something not planned, they like to see something spontaneous.”

That ability to change tack comes from a long career in stand-up. Frank said: “I did my first gig in December 1987, which is quite a long time, 27 years. It’s a good innings.”

He adds: “I think it’s probably the thing I’m proudest of. I like doing television and particularly like doing radio. It’s hard and not many people can do it.

“It’s quite a romantic thing, standing out there on your own in the spotlight. It’s very showbiz.”

With experience comes confidence. “This tour in particular I don’t think I’ve ever felt more relaxed on stage. I think of myself as someone who is at ease on stage. I like relaxing into the evening. It just feels extremely pleasurable. I don’t know if it comes with age.”

Frank said he likes everything that goes along with touring: “Being at the motorway services at 1.30 in the morning feels like fun. Every time I open a hotel room door, I wonder what will it be like, what products will be in the bathroom, how many cushions will be on the bed? I like the novelty of staying in hotels.”

Her admits: “I’m easily pleased. I know comedians are supposed to be broken-hearted clowns but since I’ve been a child, there’s something quite nice about being away for a few days and having to get up early and being with a couple of guys on the road.”

With two-year-old son Buzz Cody at home, Frank prefers to be away for four days on tour and back for three. He’s full of admiration for the way his partner copes when he’s away longer.

“Parents usually say they don’t want to be away from home for too long. I’m selfish about it, because it’s to do with me missing him.

“When I was away for a week and came home, he looked at me like I’d just gone out to go to the toilet.”

When we spoke a few weeks ago, Frank was halfway through recording a new series of his show Room 101.

He said: “It’s going great and it goes out in January. We’re on series four.

“We’re sticking with the format. In the old days it used to be one on one and with three guests there’s a bit more safety in numbers, so if someone’s having a bad night they can be a smiling presence, although everyone gets to do their own little spot.”

The guests on the next series include Jonathan Ross, Des O’Connor, Adrian Chiles, Jack Dee, Brendan O’Carroll, Fiona Bruce and Ronni Ancona.

Frank said: “Comedians will go for topics they’ve got something funny to say about. It works best when people have things they’re genuinely angry about.

“Adrian Chiles was really angry about his things, so he was more articulate, interesting and funny.”

Frank’s choice for room 101? “I’d put singer-songwriters in, which would make me quite unpopular. A person standing on stage on their own like Bob Dylan, I find it really depressing. It goes over the top of my head. If I see someone on the street with a guitar, I think they’re off to ruin someone’s party.”

Frank’s looking forward to coming back to Sheffield, where he said he’s always had a good time. “It’s one of the best gigs on the tour but I don’t know why that is. It’s just for some reason really true.”

See if it’s true again at Sheffield City Hall next Tuesday (November 25). Box office: at the venue, online at www.sheffeldcityhall.co.uk or call 0114 278 9789.