SO OFTEN you hear of actors feeling weird watching their work back — but what about stand-ups?
‘It is very strange because when you are on stage there are a million and one things going through your head,’ says Joe Lycett, a preternatural talent who, ever since he made his Edinburgh Festival breakthrough at the age of 24 (he’s now 30), has made his craft look effortless. ‘I always have about five threads of thought. About three of them are to do with the show and the other two are, “Ooh, what am I having for dinner?” It is quite peculiar watching my stand-up sets back because they look like they’ve just fallen out of me.’
If you’ve been intrigued by this charming panel-show regular — his warmth and chattiness, combined with a side order of bitchiness, have seen him routinely compared to Julian Clary — then his latest stand-up DVD, I’m About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett Live, is a fine way to get to know him better. In it, the ‘pansexual’ Lycett romps from his dreams of Idris Elba to his latest futile health kicks and his trolling of the English Defence League.
It comes at the end of a busy few months for the Birmingham-born stand-up, which will make him a ubiquitous presence on screens next year. He’s just finished filming the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, on which he’s replaced Claudia Winkleman as host.
‘I’m useless at sewing — I don’t think I’m going to be doing any impressive blouses any time soon,’ he says. He’ll once again be providing his gleefully arch narration for Brits-abroad car crash Ibiza Weekender.
Plus he’s in the middle of filming a consumer show for Channel 4 that he describes as ‘Watchdog with jokes’, following a successful pilot earlier this year. His accidental role as the funny Lynn Faulds Wood capitalises on the fact that many of his best routines consist of his absurdly petty, principle-fuelled complaint letters and his punch-the-air trolling of scammers or the politicially dubious. He’s even written a book — Parsnips, Buttered — chronicling his best efforts.
‘I’m doing quite a lot on Instagram at the minute because I keep getting messages from very attractive girls who don’t seem to speak English and their profiles have only been set up in the last day,’ says Lycett with a mischievous smile. ‘All their pictures are of them in bikinis and they all start with, “Hey, what are you up to?” I’ll reply and explain what I’m up to and in the end convince them that I was, say, trapped down a well. One was very confused by this and I said in order to get out of the well I’d need $6,000. She didn’t bother replying after that.’
So while others will be watching his DVD this Christmas, what will this perennial joker be watching, aside from the follies of social media?
‘I will probably have the Queen’s Speech on — we watch it sort of ironically in our house,’ says Lycett.
How appropriate for a comedy king.
■ I’m About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett Live is out now on DVD and download
3 more stand-up DVDs to try
Bill Bailey: Limboland
Is there anyone else who wears their intellect more lightly? This show covers everything from digestive biscuits to ‘the unplayable music of Franz Liszt’ as the legend gets to grips with uncertain times.
Sarah Millican: Control Enthusiast
It’s hard not to love this slick, personable comic who strikes a chord with anyone who relishes growing old disgracefully. Expect more filthy jokes on sex, body image and grubby domestic bliss.
Festival Of The Spoken Nerd: You Can’t Polish A Nerd
Smarten up your Crimbo as this funny, Blue Peter-ish live trio, consisting of mathematician Matt Parker and physicists Steve Mould and Helen Arney, offer up a show of ‘science, songs and spherical geometry’.