Micky Flanagan – back in the game

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Fame for Micky Flanagan is not fast cars or big houses. It is a sausage sandwich.

The cockney comedian likes nothing better than having a quiet moment in his kitchen making a sandwich.

Micky Flanaghan

Micky Flanaghan

‘That’s the kind of thing that is an adventure to me these days,’ he smiles.

It certainly makes a change from playing sold out shows, which is what he is spending most of 2013 doing on his biggest tour yet, Back In The Game.

It puts him firmly in comedy’s premier league alongside the likes of Michael McIntyre and John Bishop and his biggest challenge was coming up with material to match previous classic routines, such as his famous ‘out out’ story, where you pop out for a quick drink and end up in a club still wearing your slippers.

If his last show was all about his life up to becoming a comedian via Billingsgate market, living in America and doing a City University degree in social science, Back In The Game is about where he is now.
And where he is now is living in Dulwich, south London, with his wife Cathy and six-year-old son Max.

Micky claims that all the really exciting things happen when you are young. Yet his meteoric rise from comedy club to arena superstardom in a handful of years disproves the rule.

‘By the time my dad was 26, he had kids, a council flat and a job on the docks. His life was more or less done.

‘When I was 36 I was still looking around for opportunities,’ he explains. Micky found that opportunity when he started doing stand-up in his mid-30s.

He initially combined comedy gigs with a job as a painter and decorator.

‘For about two years I’d be travelling to gigs with a bottle of white spirit in my bag so that I could clean the paint off my hands.

‘Eventually I was doing gigs every weekend and another comedian said to me, “if you don’t quit your day job you won’t enjoy either. Just take the rest of the week off like the rest of us.”

‘At first it felt like I’d won the pools getting up on a Monday and not having to work again until Thursday.’

The new show is about the small things in life: ‘The centrepiece is about me making a sausage sandwich.

‘My life has slowed down to such a point if my wife goes out for the day that’s how I create excitement.

‘I also talk about the two off licences in my life – the one I go to normally and the one I pop into for the second bottle of wine. Things like that. So all these little details I’m pulling in to say to “this is where I’m at”.’

Although he is clearly devoted to the craft of comedy, Micky does not want to analyse his success.

‘I was very happy where I was: being a circuit comic. I didn’t have a plan. All I wanted to do was avoid having a badly-paid nine to five job,’ he says.

But the country loves him and so does television. So much so that last year, when he had planned to take a break, he ended up doing so many panel shows he felt he could not turn the television on without seeing his face.

‘I was starting to think I’d have to watch foreign TV to avoid myself,’ he laughs.

There is also talk of a sitcom at some point, if he can find the time. And he is writing his autobiography.

He is proud of his cockney roots and never tries to hide them onstage.

Although, when he first started performing outside London, Micky was anxious that it might be a problem, but his pin-sharp observational humour won everyone over. 

‘We were concerned about the Lowry in Salford on the last tour, whether anyone would turn up, but we ended up selling five nights.

‘They seemed to accept me as one of them even though I’m clearly from a council estate in London,’ he says.

‘When I play up north, sometimes I do wonder if  they think everyone from the south of England is a cockney.

‘Their perception of London is often through TV and things like Del Boy, so when I do my cockney walk they find that very funny.’

Anyone who is married or a parent will relate to his stories about his wife and son, although he has to be a little tactful about how he uses them.

‘If I am going to talk about my son, I ask him first,’ explains Micky.

‘He has got to go to school and he is getting to the point where he will see me on The One Show and he’ll go “why did you say that?”

‘So I make it more general and rather than say it is specifically about him I say something like “children take so long getting ready is there any point leaving the house?”

‘I imagine in a few years he’ll use it as a negotiating tactic,’ he continues.

‘I’ll only be allowed to make jokes about him if he gets a new bike.’

There is a similar situation with his wife.

He explains: ‘I won’t say “my wife...” I say “isn’t it funny that as you get older a dirty weekend turns into a very restful break...”

He is a little less discreet when it comes to talking about his 82-year-old father on stage. ‘My dad was evacuated in the war, not that you’d know. Sometimes he goes six or seven minutes without mentioning it.’

With gags like these, he has audiences across the country laughing their socks off, but Micky’s at a loss to explain it.

He says: ‘I can make no sense of it except that we took a few risks and they seemed to pay off.

‘There are only two things to keep in my mind: I’m enjoying it and the audience is enjoying it.

‘If we can keep those things bubbling along for a while that would be great.’

That’s all Micky wants.

Well, that and a sausage sandwich.

Micky Flanagan plays sold out shows in Portsmouth and Southampton this weekend and returns to Portsmouth Guildhall for another sold out show in March.