Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Steve Gribbin

Back in the late 1980s it seemed compulsory to have Skint Video on every comedy circuit bill. The satirical musical duo of Steve Gribbin and Brian Mulligan made their name with pithy topical songs. They even made NME single of the week with this little ditty about the boys in blue. Three decades on and Steve Gribbin is solo and still going strong on the comedy circuit, still great with a rhyme and angry as ever. Though these days, as anyone who has ever seen his Facebook posts will know, it is mainly about the state of the railway system in the UK. In fact he has even written a show about the subject and performs it at the Soho Theatre on April 21. Shunted Again takes us on "a (de)tour of cancellations, delays and overcrowding that’s enough to drive you to drive. It’s the antidote to Michael Portillo." The show will be a mixture of stand-up, songs and train announcements. Definitely not just for trainspotters. 

Buy tickets for Steve Gribbin: Shunted Again, Soho Theatre, April 21 here.

Picture by Steve Ullathorne.

1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies and/or check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt and check for spinach between your teeth)?

I always empty my mind of every extraneous thought…and then I empty my pockets of everything, money, keys, pieces of paper, knives etc And then I always have to put a Capo (the musical one, not the Mafia sidekick) in my left hand pocket. Considering I haven’t been a practicing Catholic (I wouldn’t know how to genuflect properly now) since I was 19, I am very superstitious about going onstage. I never want to be paid beforehand. It’s Bad Luck. Plus I prefer the joy of chasing payments for the next six months.

2. What irritates you?

I know I am channeling Victor Meldrew here (but believe me, I have been like this since I was a kid), but loads of things irritate me…Hipsters, Yummy Mummies, Cold Callers, Steve Bannon, Michael Portillo, dog owners who don’t pick up poo, dog owners who have what is clearly a psychotic feral beast on a gold chain like some horrible fashion accessory, Everton, anyone who says they don’t like Country Music, Jeremy Clarkson, jumpers with little tiny motifs, “affordable housing” that my kids can never afford, the Church of England, Toblerone shrinking and any human being that uses the word “like” when they don’t mean a simile.

3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

Onstage at Glastonbury Festival, I told a man in the audience, who was dressed as Jesus Christ that he was 2,000 years too late, whereupon he leapt on to the stage and proceeded, in a most un-Christian manner, to strangle me. I began to blackout, but luckily the Sound guy lunged forward punched Jesus in the face and I was Saved. 

Other than that, I once unwittingly occupied Harold Pinter’s dressing room at The Duke of York's theatre, to be greeted with the pithy line: “Get out of my fucking dressing room, you cunt!” He didn’t even pause for breath.

4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

I once gave all my bank details and passwords to a nice Russian man online. So far nothing bad has happened, apart from the delivery of those Nerve Agent packages to my house. I’ll open them at  Christmas!

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?

How audiences decide within the first 30 seconds whether they like an act or not. It’s animalistic, or even evidence of collective telepathy. I don’t know. Give me the funding and I will find out.

Interview continues here.

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