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My lockdown: Marcus Brigstocke

Stood down: Marcus is missing the laughter of a live comedy crowd PICTURE: REX

The comedian may have coronavirus, but he’s finding solace in his wife, Donna Summer and his chameleon, Ray…

LIKE many comedians, Marcus Brigstocke is having to find new ways to connect with his audience right now. The comic and his wife, comedian Rachel Parris, have had a particularly difficult two weeks, having both been suffering through various symptoms of coronavirus. We chat to the 40-year-old, who also presents a show on Jazz FM, about life on lockdown, loo roll and his career as a cheese judge…

Have you been listening to anything to cheer yourself up?

Me and my wife have been quarantined for two weeks as we think we’ve had coronavirus. We’ve had no energy and have lost our sense of smell and taste. I felt slightly energised yesterday and put on a 17-minute-long version of Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park, produced by Giorgio Moroder — I had a dance to that. It’s the most exercise I’ve had so far. Donna Summer is a clear sign you’re perking up.

Have you been watching any comedy shows?

We’ve been watching The Tiger King on Netflix — I can’t recommend it strongly enough. It’s a documentary series about private big cat owners in America. I’ve also been watching Modern Family and King Gary, which has got some brilliant performances and a lot of heart.

How has your working week changed?

I’m carrying on doing my new jazz show from home. Rachel’s recording some pieces for The Mash Report from home, too. I’m doing some writing for my tour show on the basis that a tour could still happen later this year. A stand-up tour show isn’t something I can do online from home with no audience. If that gets abandoned, I’ll create something else. I suppose that’s some structure for my day — worrying about what’s happening with work.

How are you managing day to day?

I don’t have much structure to my day normally, anyway. We make a meal, get excited about it, then realise we can’t taste anything. There’s no big structure. And I assume we stink; we’re washing, but to what end?

Have you been panic-buying loo roll, too?

No, I get loo roll from an online company called Who Gives A Crap, which makes environmentally sustainable loo roll and supports sanitation facilities in places around the world. I buy toilet paper from them once a year so we’re good for bog roll. It’s quite a big delivery. The more people were posting videos about some a***hole fighting over a packet of pasta, the more they end up creating stockpiling.

How many packets of pasta do you have in your cupboards?

One-and-a-half. We had some wholemeal pasta with hotdogs and homemade tomato sauce yesterday. It was really good. My sense of taste must be coming back. I’m a qualified cheese judge and I have some exceptionally good cheeses, but they don’t taste of anything. I hope my sense of taste comes back or my cheese judging career is over.

Has self-isolation given you any insights?

I know I like the sound of laughter and applause, and I miss playing to live audiences. Making people laugh is an extraordinary job and I miss that. And I care less about what I look like. We’re advised to get up and get dressed properly during this time, but I’ve just been wearing a tracksuit.

Which permitted exercises have you been doing?

I love walking. In an average week, I’ll walk miles. I often just walk through London and I miss that, but we’ll be allowed to do it again at some point. Which non-essential activity do you miss the most? I really miss not going out to local cafes and restaurants. I’m very concerned about the people who run the businesses. I know people who run well-established theatres and they don’t think they’ll survive this. I hope the banks and landlords will be fair.

How should we show our appreciation for NHS workers once this is all over?

They should be paid more. People who work for the NHS are often pushed beyond a level that’s sustainable. When the dust settles, I wonder if people who have succeeded in keeping billions of pounds offshore will feel about the world around them and how the rest of society will feel about those people.


1. My phone — I have an iPhone 11 and I use it a lot to stay in touch with people

2. My wife — my heart goes out to anyone who has to self-isolate alone

3. My record collection — my Miles Davis records are essential

4. My camping chair — I’ve been sitting in this chair on my front step as my back garden doesn’t get any sunlight

5. My chameleon Roy — he’s a very beautiful panther chameleon. He brings me endless joy. He sits on the front step with me

Marcus’s new radio show, Jazz Family Trees, is on Jazz FM on Saturdays at 9pm,