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Jack's affinity to Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 12:06 30 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:56 03 March 2010

JACK Dee is not unfamiliar with Ipswich. He built up a certain affinity with the town four years ago when the Evening Star responded to his barracking of this corner of Suffolk and was promptly invited to feature on his television show, The Sunday Service.

JACK Dee is not unfamiliar with Ipswich. He built up a certain affinity with the town four years ago when the Evening Star responded to his barracking of this corner of Suffolk and was promptly invited to feature on his television show, The Sunday Service. As he prepared to return to Ipswich tonight, for the second Regent date in his current tour, entertainment reporter JO MACDONALD spoke to him exclusively about his tour and the town he loves to slate.

IF Ipswich were to go along the same route as New York and seek out a celebrity to boost its tourism, the advice would be to avoid Jack Dee at all cost.

It's not that his wouldn't be a nice face to adorn billboards, adverts and leaflets across the country, a face the rest of the nation would instantly recognise, it's just that he might struggle to say anything flattering.

Any efforts he were to make to encourage outsiders to pay a visit to this Suffolk town would undoubtedly fall flat.

For example, when asked whether he would recommend Ipswich to others, his response is quick and to the point.

"I think if you have just walked 22 miles through the Channel Tunnel and have got all your belongings on your back in a backpack, Ipswich would be a good place to start."

His ability to sell this part of Britain, illegal immigrants included, Jack's ribbing of Ipswich shouldn't be taken to heart.

It is done with a touch of fondness and is not out of keeping with his comments about any of the towns or cities in the country which he visits.

Berating, mocking and belittling is what he does best after all. It's his occupation.

"I slag off every place I visit," Jack explained from his Suffolk hotel room yesterday before he set off for a performance in Southend. "Ipswich shouldn't feel too special.

"I'm equally slating about everywhere I go. It's part of the show.

"I'm in Southend tonight and I'll be very rude. I'll start to talk about how they pump all that crap into the sea and how I got food poisoning there.

"People like to hear I've had a bad time in their town.

"The trouble with saying nice things is that it's not good comedy – there's no laughter in it.

"I have a nose for everything that irritates me about a town and when I say that stuff, people click immediately."

This begs the question, what does he find most irritating about Ipswich?

"The most irritating thing about Ipswich must be getting here," he said without so much as a small pause to give it some thought.

"To get here quickly you've got to travel by barge – if you come any other way you'll get stuck behind a tractor carrying loads of hay bales."

Though Jack may proclaim that Ipswich doesn't have any exclusive right to receive special treatment from him in terms of comedy or anything else, there is an indication that this may not be so.

As he explained: "The tour sold out very quickly so I haven't done any press on it. This is only the second interview I've done on the whole tour."

His agreement to talk to the Evening Star was a case of him repaying a favour after The Evening Star's Matthew Tacket appeared on the comedian's Sunday Service Show in 1997.

His appearance on Jack's show came after the newspaper defended Ipswich when Jack slagged it off and referred to its residents as Suffolk Saddos.

"I can't remember what I said about Ipswich," Jack said, "but I gave him (Matthew) a chance to put the record straight.

"Your friend was too good a sport not to repay the favour."

Despite attempts being made to set the record straight four years ago, Jack has not ceased in his disparagement of Ipswich and he shows no sign of stopping.

It would be wrong to expect to him to do so as it is a natural part of his stand-up routine. It is right for him to build on and utilise stereotypes of Suffolk and its town.

His performance at the Regent on Wednesday, and the second leg tonight, would be lacking without it.

"I quite like playing on the image of it being a slow, inbred nut-zone market town where people drive around on tractors and enjoy badger-bating," he explained.

Those who were part of the sell out audience at his Wednesday night show would have heard him commenting on the town's one-way system and its abundance of roundabouts.

"It seems to be quite a confused place in what it's trying to do in terms of town planning," he observed.

"To be fair though, and I'm not in the business of being fair, but to be fair it's common place in most towns and cities."

He will freely admit, however, that his views and comments aren't always based on things he has seen and experienced in the towns he visits.

As with his visit to Ipswich earlier this week, and no doubt again today, he has little chance to check out the towns in to which he is travelling.

"In all these places, the reason why I'm able to be ruthlessly unfair is that I don't see them," he said.

"I'm in my hotel in Ipswich at the moment and about to head off to Southend. And I arrived yesterday when it was dark so I haven't seen any daylight."

"In fact, I'm not sure if you have daylight here," he added, in his endearingly deadpan manner.

He may not be able to lay claim to being an expert on the sights of Ipswich but he admits to having a likeness to performing at the Regent.

Unlike many theatres he visits, the Regent enables him to interact more closely with his audience.

"I've always had a good time in that theatre," he explained. "It's a nice big place and a good stage. The audience is nice and close.

"In a lot of theatres there's a huge orchestra pit in the way. I like to stand at the front of the stage and get as close as possible."

As to whether he would head to this area of Suffolk if it weren't for the fact that he was getting paid to be here, that is a completely different matter.

"If I wanted a good hospital and needed attention or was being sent to prison in Ipswich, I might come," he said, although, on finding out the town the nearest prisons are Hollesley Bay, near Woodbridge, and Highpoint, near Haverhill, he added: "You send them (criminals) out of town? That's a great Suffolk attitude, to tell them to sod off."

That will be just what Jack will be doing after tonight's show, with his two-date stint in Ipswich complete

His tour, which kicked off in September, runs until mid-December so he has plenty more places to visit and slate.

Then he is due to take a break before the tour starts up again in February, with a three-week stop in London pencilled in.

Once that's over he has plenty of potential projects to keep himself busy.

He said: "After the tour I'm going to have a break and probably a few weeks in The Priory to try and chill out and them I'm going to maybe make a television show.

"I've got a lot of things in the pipeline. The BBC are threatening to send me to Siberia for a celebrity alone type programme. They said Siberia or Ipswich so I said I'd take Siberia."

Until then, however, he is focused on keeping his show fresh. Though each performance caters for its audience most of the material is the same each night.

"You can get a bit stir crazy in the end," he explained. "Getting fed up with it is down to the level of performance you put in though."

And with that he headed off for the escape route out of town, to make the journey to Southend, though promising to return once more tonight.

A parting greeting wishing him good luck with the rest of his tour was met with a short but simple response.

"Good luck living in Ipswich."

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