Lenny ready for real hoot

LENNY Henry is one of Britain's best loved comics. As Ipswich's Regent Theatre prepares to welcome the funnyman, feature writer JAMES MARSTON speaks to the comic about his latest stand-up tour.

LENNY Henry is one of Britain's best loved comics.

As Ipswich's Regent Theatre prepares to welcome the funnyman, feature writer JAMES MARSTON speaks to the comic about his latest stand-up tour.

EVER since he burst out of our screens in the mid 70's Lenny Henry has risen to become one of Britain's best-known and loved personalities.

Comedian, impressionist, singer and serious actor, Lenny is as much at home on the small screen as he is the stage.

Tomorrow night the comic relief comedian brings 'Where You From' - his latest stand-up tour - to an Ipswich audience.

The comic said: “I love being on television and its like a natural home to me but being on stage is great. You've written it, you've edited it, you've produced it and you're performing it. You're in charge and you know exactly what the audience think.”

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Whilst filming his new documentary series 'Lenny's Britain' for the BBC, Lenny has been trying to get to the bottom of whether Birmingham is funnier than Glasgow or whether there are more laughs to be had in London than in Belfast.

He said: “It's more than analysing comedy and its more than regionality. I was put into a number of different situations and we got people all over the country to tell jokes to the camera and then we used the best ones in the show.”

During recording Lenny dictated the funnier moments providing him with a wealth of material for the tour.

Where You From' sees Lenny go back to his stand-up roots performing routines about modern British life, with the welcome return of a few key characters from the original Lenny Henry Show, favourites like Mr Lister and The Wolfman.

A comic of enduring appeal Lenny Henry has been performing since the age of 15.

He said: “I had four friends where I grew up in Dudley and I found I could make them laugh. If you're a comedian if you make your friends laugh it gives you confidence.

“When I was about 15 we went to a club and I got up in a competition and did an Elvis impersonation. I won and the applause was brilliant and I thought I've got to do that again.”

More than thirty years on Lenny's enthusiasm for comedy is undimmed.

'Where you from' has been billed as a show that is 'action packed', 'energy filled' and 'only for the broad minded'.

Lenny added: “It's really funny, it's a bit rude and it's a real hoot. Sit back, relax, strap yourself in and perhaps partake of a cocktail or two - it's going to be a fun ride for the whole audience.”

Weblink www.lennyhenry.com

For more information and to book a ticker visit www.eveningstar.co.uk/tickets or call the Regent box office on 01473 433100.

Lenny Henry was born in Dudley, West Midlands, the son of parents who migrated to England from Jamaica in the 1950s.

His earliest TV appearance was on the New Faces television talent show in 1975 where he repeatedly won.

His formative years were in working men's clubs where his unique act - a young black man impersonating white characters such as the Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em character Frank Spencer - gave him an edge in what were racially divisive times.

He co-hosted the children's programme Tiswas from 1978 until 1981.

As he established a career as a stand-up comedy performer and character comedian, he introduced characters who both mocked and celebrated black British culture, such as Theophilus P. Wildebeeste, pirate radio disc jockey DJ Delbert Wilkins and Trevor MacDoughnut.

He is married to comedienne Dawn French and he supports West Bromwich Albion.

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