‘Laughing is what life’s all about’

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She’s been described as a cross between Victoria Wood and Mrs Merton. She’s a superstar housewife.

She’s Mrs Barbara Nice

Janice Connolly as Barbara Nice.

Janice Connolly as Barbara Nice.

Tell us a bit about your background as a comedian.

I have been working professionally as a comedian for about 18 years.

I started out compering in Birmingham and developed the character Mrs Barbara Nice – ordinary housewife extraordinaire .

I entered the North West New Act of the Year competition in Manchester and came second.

I was spotted by Peter Kay and asked to be part of the cast for That Peter Kay Thing that then became Phoenix Nights.

Other telly work followed and, at the same time, Barbara Nice went from strength to strength.

I got into doing it because I have always been drawn to comedy performance. It is also a way of being in control of what you want to say as you are the writer as well as the performer.

When did you realise you were funny?

I first realised I could make people laugh doing Christmas shows at Sunday school .

What would you be if you weren’t a comedian?

I am not just a comedian. I am an actress, a writer and a director. So, I am doing all the things I like to do.

Tell us three things that make you laugh.

Ordinary daily life makes me laugh. I think laughing is a big part of what life is all about.

But here are three.

1 People running in their ordinary clothes – not sports gear –in the street. It looks out of place and incongruous.

2 Really miserable people. They look and sound so ludicrous.

3 Older people when they talk about being poor when they were kids – the camaraderie of it .

Tell us a joke.

What do donkeys at Blackpool beach have for lunch? Half an hour.

Who’s your hero?

Derek Jacobi in I Claudius. He is a good man in the middle of a load of evil pigs.