Stowmarket: They Think It’s All Over star Lee Hurst heads to the Regal
Calling his new stand-up show Too Scared To Leave the House may not be the cleverest thing Lee Hurst as done. Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE finds out why he’s worth the risk.
Lee’s fans can thank Twitter for his gig at the Stowmarket Regal next Friday.
“I’ve been on there a lot recently; it keeps it [the brain] idling so the engine doesn’t seize up when I’m not gigging,” says the comedian, who shot to fame on comedy sports quiz They Think It’s All Over.
“I was there one day and said I’m putting on some more dates, anybody got any ideas? This guy sent a link to the Regal; I had a look at I think we booked it before the end of the day. I wrote back to the guy on Twitter and said ‘your wish is my command’, or words to that effect. He wrote back and said ‘am I now an agent and is it 60 40’,” Lee laughs. “I wrote back and said no but you are a promoter.”
After earning his spurs on the UK comedy circuit he became the warm-up man for Have I Got News For You? He earned a regular panellist spot on They Think It’s All Over after impressing producers looking for a warm-up man for the pilot.
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Leaving after five series, he returned twice as a guest towards the end of its run for series 17 and for the Comic Relief 24 Hour Panel People Special last year.
His other TV credits include Shark Tank, Salvage Squad and The Warehouse, That’s Showbusiness, The Stand Up Show, Have I Got News For You, Don’t Give Up Your Day Job and Saturday Live. Lee was also the creator of Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment
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In 2000, Lee decided to semi-retire and concentrate on running his comedy venue, the Backyard Comedy Club, acting as resident compere. In 2010 Lee razed it to the ground; building in it’s place a seven storey hotel, on the ground floor of which will be a bar and his new comedy club.
Right now he’s recovering from a very long journey home from holiday the day before, coupled with an early start today getting his dog’s operation stitches removed and a gig he’d forgotten about tonight.
“I only went to Portugal for a few days but it was a hellish journey back; a flight delay, screaming children two seats away on the plane. The flight out was my first ever screaming child and the flight back was my second. At one point I had to put my finger in my ear; the child just went into overdrive and it actually hurt my ear drum but it’s all good,” he laughs.
The title of his new tour seems apt.
“Originally it was going to be called the End of the World tour; then I looked online and there was an End of the World show somewhere. Then I was going to call it Whatever Happened to Acid Rain on the fact it was supposed to destroy everything. A pal said ‘it doesn’t really grab you and a lot of younger people won’t even know what acid rain is’. I went ‘well that’s kind of the point, it’s disappeared’. I mulled it over a bit more and thought I’ll call it Too Scared to Leave the House.”
Lee casts his eyes over the many end-of-the-world scare stories from acid rain and global warming to bird flu, mad cow disease and many other apocalyptic disaster predictions that never were. He also muses over the everyday dangers we face in our daily lives.
Did researching the show make him more worried?
“No. When I started looking into the acid rain stuff there was this wonderful thing I read, there was an area in Hampshire where they basically sprayed these trees on a daily basis with what essentially was the components of acid rain and they thrived; nothing happened,” he laughs.
“I’m very sceptical about a lot the stuff they throw at you, if they can find a way to make money out of it I start to believe it’s not true. World governments create solutions and [then] they find the problem.”
Talk turns to global warming, car air-con - “I’ve never been in a motor yet and not wanted to put a coat on. On the hottest day you’re freezing your a*** off going ‘mate can you warm it up a bit’,” he laughs - and roadworks among things.
“Years ago this mate of mine told me about carbon credits, you were allocated a certain amount and the idea was you could buy them from a third world country that doesn’t pollute as much. So in order for somebody like me to watch an HD television all night long I’m basically paying for a guy to sit in a hut in Africa.
“That’s it in a sense, it’s like ‘look, don’t you do anything right, I’ll buy that off you because you’re not going to burn that electricity’. Morally that stinks. Anyway, why are we bothering with any of it here when we’re being told the light’s going to go out unless we go nuclear; we can’t have any more coal fire power stations because they’re poisonous but China is building a coal fire power station a week?
“Amercia scores [high in the pollution stakes] per capita but China and India with their populations just leave the rest of the world in their wake. [It makes you] very sceptical and other countries aren’t being made to do what we’re pledging to do. You could argue historically we’ve created a lot of damage to the world because we’ve been industrialised for ever but I’ll be honest with you, we’re a drop in the ocean with what’s happening [elsewhere].
“Look at Beijing where there was talk of some events that had to be postponed because of pollution. Don’t get me wrong, pollution in a microcosm, in a given area, can be horrific. As far as warming up the planet I think it’s nonsense.”
Roadworks are another thing that drive him, if you’ll excuse the pun, around the bend.
“The local road department here, I’m not joking, they put speed bumps in, two years later they take them back out. They’ll put a roundabout in, they’ll take it back out, they’ll put traffic lights in, they’ll take them back out and put a roundabout back. What’s going on? Is it to keep people in work?
“It’s all these things they keep chucking at you... I’m sorry to sound like a conspiracy theorist... I’m not,” he laughs.
More tour dates are planned, including another suggested via Twitter or Facebook. I’m not sure he should accept this invite though.
“There was another guy who contacted me; he said ‘if you make us laugh enough we won’t burn you in a wicker man’,” says Lee.
Maybe it’s a great honour in that area?
“If I come out unscathed... and of course apart from the CO2 emissions,” he laughs.
For more entertainment news follow me on Twitter @WhatsonWayne