As one of the co-hosts of The Last Leg, his own eponymous sitcom currently on BBC3, popping up on guestspots all over TV and radio and now with a nationwide tour entitled What Do I Do Now?, comic Josh Widdicombe is everywhere.
‘I’m sorry about that,’ he apologises, with not entirely convincing humility. ‘I’m on most things and now I’m in Portsmouth.
‘Someone told me I’m the first comic on at the venue as well?’
That’s not quite true – a couple of others have beaten him to playing at the revamped theatre.
‘That’s good news,’ he says, sounding relieved. ‘I was worried there, I didn’t want to be the budgie going down the mine.’
The new show – is the title anything to do with the song of the same name by Britpoppers Sleeper?
I’m a big child of the ’90s. I think my personality was defined by Britpop and the TV that was around at the time like TFI and Fantasy Football. That was what made an impression on me for good or for badJosh Widdicombe
‘It does – good spot! I am a fan of theirs. I read (Sleeper frontwoman) Louise Wener’s book recently and it was a great memoir of Britpop – she’s an excellent writer.
‘I’m a big child of the ’90s. I think my personality was defined by Britpop and the TV that was around at the time like TFI and Fantasy Football. That was what made an impression on me for good or for bad.’
What’s it about then?
‘I like to choose phrases that don’t really mean anything and can be vague so I can talk about anything.
‘I talk a lot about growing up in the middle of Dartmoor though.
‘You don’t realise it so much at the time, but it’s something that I’ve realised more the older I’ve got, just how weird it was.
‘It was very isolated. A tiny village, tiny school, all that kind of thing. It was the middle of nowhere.’
In his sitcom, Josh, he has also somehow roped stoney-faced comic Jack Dee into playing his landlord. The opening episode saw Dee’s character demonstrating how to swim butterfly atop an ironing board in the lounge.
‘He’s well up for things these days,’ says Josh of Dee. ‘He’s not the grumpy person people think he is, disappointingly.
‘He didn’t take any convincing for anything really, he was very open. There’s a different side to him, an exhibitionist maybe.’
How like you is the main character?
‘You can’t argue that it’s totally separate,’ he explains, ‘but you’re playing a heightened version of yourself.
‘You want to play a loser in a sitcom and to do that, it’s fun. You make them more of a loser than you really are, hopefully.’
It was The Last Leg on Channel 4 in 2012 that gave Josh his biggest break. The show was initially a comical instant take on the day’s sporting events, before morphing into its wider current affairs format.
‘It was a just a small show during the Paralympics,’ recalls Josh. ‘It wasn’t meant to be a big thing, and that let it find its feet - there was no pressure on it.
‘I didn’t sign up to it thinking it was going to be anything big, I just liked the free tickets to the Paralympics. We thought it would be the two weeks and that would be it.
‘It’s really fun to be involved in though, and it’s live, so that gives it an energy that maybe other shows that are pre-recorded can’t replicate. It wasn’t our choice to do it live, but it was a great call.’
Josh Widdicombe: What Do I Do Now?
The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, 8pm
Friday, November 27.