Classic Interview: Josh Widdicombe

Update 17/1/14. Hello, welcome to this interview with Josh Widdicombe. You have probably come to this webpage by googling "Josh Widdicombe Girlfriend" like everybody else. Please note that this is a very interesting piece about the tousle-haired rising star, but it sheds no light on the identity of Josh's girlfriend. Or if he even has one. Sorry. BD. And just to clarify, Josh is not Celebrity Big Brother star Ann Widdecombe's son or grandson if that's how you ended up here. 


 Josh Widdicombe has just received the ultimate accolade. Not becoming an XFM weekend DJ from January 19. Not becoming a columnist for the Reader's Digest. Something much more significant. My girlfriend, who rarely cracks a smile, really warmed to Widdicombe when she saw him on the New Year special of C4's Paralympics talking shop, The Last Leg. Don't mistake Widdicombe for just another "have-you-noticed?" conveyor belt comedian. This guy is sharp is as a knife. It comes as no surprise to discover that he is a former journalist. Want to know where it all started? Read below. This piece first appeared in Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2012 brochure. Josh Widdicombe returns to Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival this year on February 20 as part of his UK tour. See here for full tour dates and here for Leicester Comedy Festival details.

 "You want me to say 'I owe it all to the Leicester Comedy Festival' don't you? Alright, I owe it all to the Leicester Comedy Festival." For once wisecracking stand-up Josh Widdicombe is not telling a joke. The winner of the Festival's Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Award in 2010 has surged through the ranks since bagging the title, becoming a regular TV face through appearances on Live at the Apollo and Stand Up For The Week. Household name status is imminent. 

Widdicombe might have made it through Leicester, but the funny thing is that he very nearly didn't even make it to Leicester on that fateful evening in 2010. "On the night of the final I was involved in a train crash," he recalls. He was on his way to the gig when it looked as if his career and well as the St Pancras express was about to be derailed. "The carriage was shaking, the windows smashed and I thought, this is it, we are going to tumble ten feet into a field.”

 Eventually the train stopped and the 28-year-old, originally from Devon and now based in London, was stuck on it for four hours. “By the time I got the the Y Theatre it was just before the interval and I was the first act on after the break, which was good as it meant I had no idea how anyone else had done so I didn't feel I was in competition with anyone. I just went out there and did my best nine minutes of material. Well, actually, at the time I only had nine minutes of material..."

It landed Widdicombe not just first prize, but a high-powered agent from Michael McIntyre and Jack Dee's agency, Off The Kerb. Winning the Award really boosted his career, so he always has a soft spot for Leicester. "This is where it all started. I feel linked to Leicester forever. Audiences here seem really comedy-literate so it's a great place to try out new material."

They say timing is everything in comedy and he believes that Leicester gets the timing absolutely right: "It feels like the start of the year that climaxes with the Edinburgh Fringe, but in a lot of ways I prefer Leicester to Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a pressure cooker, in Leicester you don't get that stress, the venues are nice, the people running the Festival know and like comedy. Also the transport links from London are very good.” When the trains stay on the track, that is. 

Widdicombe is back this year (2012), doing a double-header with Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2009 Seann Walsh, as well as a solo show. He is clearly fond of the city. “If you win here there’s always a lot of goodwill towards you.” But after some fierce probing he finally reveals the real reason comedians love the Leicester Comedy Festival. "We get free meals in Nando's while the Festival is on. Unlimited free chicken is my most abiding memory of any comedy festival anywhere ever.”

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