You get mistaken online for Tony Hawk, the skateboarder, with fans asking for skating tips – have you ever met him?
I still get emails from people asking me to do flips, sign autographs and do other skateboard things. I did meet him once when we were both on The Big Breakfast together. I explained about the confusion his fans have and did a few gags about it. He was a nice enough chap and he’s good at skateboarding but I don’t think he’d win any awards for best sense of humour. He didn’t really get it.
Tells us about your Random Fun show.
It’s a comedy version of the early part of my life, that is, to some extent, an old-fashioned variety show: there’s stand up, storytelling, songs and music, even slides at one point. At the end of the first half, I invite people to write down any questions, which go in a bucket and get drawn out. So any heckles are very polite.
It’s your first tour for a while – what tempted you back to the stage?
I watched a DVD of a show I had done and I suddenly got the feeling that I really wanted to flex those muscles again.
You’ve just been to a meeting at the House of Lords – what for?
I run a project called Tennis For Free, and we had a meeting about getting politicians on board. There are huge amounts of money available for tennis but not enough is spent on the very bottom rung of the ladder.
Where is the film of your book Playing The Moldovans At Tennis at?
It’s in the can and the plan is to bring it out during the Wimbledon fortnight next year.
Are there any differences between the book and the film?
The only difference is that a scene in which I am nearly kidnapped has been changed.
Yeah, this guy wanted me to stay in his hotel and he wanted to charge me £130 for it. So I was nearly ‘extorted’ really. In the end, I drank a lot of whisky with him and told him I’d come back and stay another time, but that I needed to go somewhere else to get my money and that persuaded him to let me go. But a week after we left, one of the guys we dealt with got shot in his car. He was seriously involved in pretty heavy gangster stuff!
Was the Round Ireland With A Fridge film as unpredictable to make as the initial experience?
Yes, but any film is an adventure to make. It is hard. I have done two now and that might be enough for me.
What other suggestions have come up for books and challenges?
Arthur Smith bet me that I couldn’t sleep with the whole Azerbaijan netball team, but I didn’t take him up on that.
You had a hit in Australia with Beastie Boys spoof Stutter Rap …
Yeah, it was number one. I think its daft, irreverent and politically incorrect sense of humour appealed. I do a little piano-accompanied version of it in this show; it’s stripped back, very classical.
And you do a Shakespeare skit too?
Shakespeare to me is gobbledegook. I perform a Shakespeare bit which starts off plausible and then becomes nonsense. To me, Shakespeare is just words and sounds. Everybody fawns over it and yes, some of it is amazing – but some of it is unintelligible. And I don’t buy this ‘it’s relevant to today’ – it was written in the 17th century!
What makes you grumpy?
Christmas, which I think is an absurdity. I couldn’t be more grumpy at Christmas. It is a retail scam, an economics policy, and people are crippling themselves each year. It is nice that families get together, but it doesn’t mean we need to prepare for in November. And it’s not good for children, it turns them into greedy, grabbing materialists. I know people who when you go to their house and open the door, a load of toys fall out. We’ve used the world’s resources up making all of that – there are mountainsides missing because of it. But then again, I am going away for Christmas to Siciliy, and they are bonkers Catholics there, so I won’t really be escaping it at all. And another thing is it comes at completely the wrong time of year. This is where Australia has been very cunning, as they have it in the summer which really makes much more sense.