For the past year Paul Tonkinson has been the opening act for his uber-famous friend, Michael McIntyre.
Paul has been with the star stand-up as he’s been packing them in to arenas across the land.
But now Paul’s taking some time out to headline some shows of his own, and he’s up for the challenge.
‘It was absolutely fantastic doing all the big arenas,’ he says, ‘and that was just concentrating on making your material as funny as possible, doing really sort of intelligent mainstream comedy and not offending anyone.
‘It’s actually a bit of a relief to come back to the circuit and to be able to swear again occasionally,’ he laughs.
‘When you’re onstage at the O2 to 16,000 people you can’t see anyone, you’re just in this bubble of light, and you’re playing out in to the darkness and hearing the laughs.
When you’re onstage at the O2 to 16,000 people you can’t see anyone, you’re just in this bubble of light, and you’re playing out in to the darkness and hearing the laughsPaul Tonkinson
‘It’s great, but it’s nice to be able to see the room.’
While he’s looking forward to doing his own shows again, the McIntyre gigs do have their perks.
‘Every gig’s huge so it’s all exciting and he’s very generous – the hotels are great. I basically get a year of living beyond my income level. I have a year of really nice boutique country hotels, turning left when you get on planes – now it’s back to economy and Holiday Inn.
‘Now I’m back to where I belong.’
Aside from comedy club shows and more supporting Michael on the horizon, Paul expects he’ll eventually go out on his own full tour sometime early next year.
In the meantime, one of his great passions is running – he has a monthly column in Runner’s World magazine, and when he spoke with WOW247 was about to start a podcast with another stand-up pal, Rob Deering.
‘At the minute I’m focussing a lot of my energies on launching a running podcast. We go for a run every week, and we decided to start recording the runs. It is a podcast recorded literally on the run. We’re launching it to inspire people with our experiences of preparing for the London Marathon.’
And Paul is no slouch – his best marathon time is 3 hours 9 minutes.
‘But that’s when I was 35,’ he demurs – he’s now 46, but ran at county level in his teens.
In the past Paul has stints as host of The Big Breakfast under his belt (he doesn’t miss the 3.30am wake-up call) and DJ on XFM.
Looking back he says: ‘I really enjoyed that experience on The Big Breakfast, and I enjoyed doing the radio, I just love that live environment. XFM was great. But I always found that I enjoyed these things the closer they became to being like gigs, so after a while it was: “Let’s just do gigs”.
Paul also once took part in Come Dine With Me, but don’t expect him to crop up on any more reality TV shows either.
‘We had chats with the Jungle. And it didn’t work out, which I’m kind of glad about now – my wife really didn’t want me to do it.
‘It would be very easy to make me look like an idiot, because I basically am one anyway. It wouldn’t take a lot of editing.
‘They’d just need to follow me for three minutes in the morning, and everyone would think I’m a disgusting slob, so it’s probably best to keep that in-house.’
Also appearing at Laughter Live are Jarred Christmas, Matt Forde and compere James Alderson.
Ferneham Hall, Fareham
Saturday, February 20