Exclusive Interview with Mark Steel by Pete Austin

MarkSteel B&WMark Steel is looking forward to returning to Kettering Arts Centre on April 16 with his new show, Who Do I Think I Am.

He said he loves the place and described his show in 2013 as being his favourite night and having a ‘genuinely funny’ night.

“It’s a lovely venue,” he said: “some theatres can seem soulless but at Kettering Arts Centre it’s just like going into someone’s living room, and the vicar is very funny and delivered the best closing line I’ve ever had to a show.”

He is hoping for the same reaction this time round. Whilst the name of this particular tour is Who Do I Think I Am, it is not a scientific study into the nature v nurture debate. As Mark pointed out ‘it’s stand-up – if it was all about me it would be exceedingly dull’.

Without giving away too much, the show focuses on the results – so far – of the year search for his biological parents, a journey he started some 12 years ago. The findings have thrown up some very interesting insights of the life he could have had had he not been given up for adoption when he was just a few days old. The ardent socialist was born to a millionaire father who counted Lord Lucan and Kerry Packer amongst his friends. However, like in many research projects, more questions are raised than answers – all of which provides ample material for the set.

Mark said: “From what I have found out he would have been decent company and I can’t Mark SteelH&Slaughing by Idil Sukan copyfault him for anything. Somebody once said it was brave of me to cover this subject, it’s not. If I was on stage with a leopard it would be brave. This is a comedy stand-up show and is not intended to be sentimental of educational – it does not set out to prove anything.

“I don’t know what it is about British audiences, I think half of them have got no sense of humour and they try to work out if something is funny rather than think something is funny for the sake of being funny.”

When asked whether he had a preference for stage, screen or writing he explained that each has its own challenges.

“The tricky thing is each has its own set of rules, “he said. “Writing a column is completely different to writing a stand-up routine. If you have just passed your driving test and are able to drive safely up the high street doesn’t mean you are capable of driving a F1 car. I love what I do and consider myself fortunate that I am able to do just that.

“There is a comparison between this job and sport. You always do your best not matter how much you are paid. Even a highly paid footballer cannot always be on top of the game all of the time but will play to the best of his ability and perform as well as possible at the time. It’s like an amateur golfer who one day putted everything on a golf course, marked a best score and celebrated by getting drunk and waking up happy the next day and thought how fantastic it was. A professional is expected to do that every day otherwise people will say ‘he’s lost it’ but some days that’s just the way it is.

“The same is true about being on stage and on occasions I may not be feeling 100 per cent but I will always do my best and trust I will not make a hash out of it.”

Mark SteelThoughtfulpic by Idil Sukan copyI am sure that Mark will be ‘on fire’ when he come to Kettering and the audience will be on the receiving end of a remarkably entertaining show. It is something he has been doing for more than 30 years on stage, starting in the club circuit before moving onto bigger stages, television, radio and the printed word – he is a regular columnist for The Independent and respected author. He does admit it is hard work with so many comedians all vying for attention but he doesn’t view them as competition, more a healthy situation that continues to spur him on.

That said, there are, according to Mark, still millions of ambitions left unfilled. Some of these he has resigned himself to remaining just pipe dreams, but who knows what the future may hold (talent scouts take note).

A keen sportsman, particularly cricket, he said that top of the list would be being picked to play for England.

Mark Steel age 7 - low res

Mark Steel age 7

“I still have not got a 100,” he admitted, “although I’ve had a few 70’s. Mind you, even if I threw the ball to myself I still don’t think I could get a hundred.

“I would also like to do some acting, be in a film.”

Following this line of conversation my next question to Mark, which he likened to being similar to a self-service check-out at a supermarket, was: ‘Is there was a question you would like to answer but have yet to be asked?’

He said: “I would probably ask myself what band I would like to be in and my answer would be either to play piano alongside Nick Cave on some of his moving, deep tunes or bound about on stage with a band like the Arctic Monkeys.”

Whist it is unlikely any of the aforementioned job opportunities will open up for him in the near future it can safely be said he is really looking forward to his return visit to Kettering Arts Centre on April 16.

My parting question to him was asking him to answer the hypothetical question posed in the title of this tour – Who Do I Think I Am. The answer was not: “Three stone lighter than I thought” or “having a fear of Liquorice Allsorts” but, “strange enigmatically peculiar quizzically indefinable.”

It’s going to be an extremely funny journey.

Mark Steel – Who Do I Think I Am?

ms_02Saturday 16th April

Tickets £15 age 14+

Doors open 7.30pm – 8pm start

Early booking is advised as this promises to be a sell-out show.

Follow on Twitter: @mrmarksteel / @OffTheKerb

Tickets for this event are available from Waterstones, High Street, Kettering, by post from Becky at St Andrew’s Church (cheques made payable to “PCC of St Andrew’s Kettering”) to St Andrew’s Vicarage, Lindsay Street, Kettering NN16 8RG. You may also buy or reserve tickets from Jaime Ferreira by email at office@ketteringartscentre.com or online at We Got Tickets (subject to a booking fee).

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