Interviewed,Felixstowe Spa Pavilion bound comic Joe Pasquale
- Credit: Archant
Expect guest appearances from Spiderman, Velma from Scooby Doo and maybe a few dinosaurs, particularly a velociraptor named Vince when Joe Pasquale’s new tour One Man And His Bog comes to town.
“It’s a mix of the favourite stuff I’ve done and a load of new material I’ve never done before. There’ll also be lots of mind-reading, audience participation and I’ll try to contact my spirit guide for entertainment purposes only,” says the comedian, stopping by Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion on August 18.
Despite more than 20 years in the business, he still has an enthusiasm for stand-up.
“I’m still passionate about everything I do, whether it be stand-up, panto, musicals, plays or television; but nothing beats being in front of a live audience and mucking about. Life is too short so I try and make the most of it.”
Pasquale’s known for his rapport with his audiences. He says it’s not conscious, it just happens.
“But if it’s not there, the show isn’t going to work. I like to think this stand-up show is about everyone having a laugh together. It’s like being 13 again.”
His desire to perform started early. Growing up with two older sisters and a younger brother he was always fighting for attention.
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“When I was seven my mum would say to me ‘here’s a bit of Lego and here’s a bit of bread – chew on that. Your sister’s got boyfriend problems. I’ll give you a rabbit. You can play with him and you’ll be sorted’. A seven-year-old is always easy to deal with – you can ask him to look after himself. So this desire to perform is probably all about struggling for attention.”
On the topic of struggling for attention, one thing that gets his goat about the modern world is social media.
“I hate the fact everybody is always on their mobile phones now. On the train, in a queue, the waiting room at the dentist, in the cinema, theatre. Nobody talks to anyone any more. The art of conversation is disappearing.”
Tremendously busy, it’s doubtful Pasquale has time for social media anyway. Most recently, he did an advanced creative writing course through the Open University.
“I loved it. It forces you to be creative. It teaches you to write every day and to have discipline so you don’t get writers’ block. I had to write a 30-minute play about a magician who murders his assistant. I’ve already got someone to invest money to put it on in a small theatre.
“The tutor said to me ‘you can write funny stuff standing on your head, so try something darker’. So I got top marks for my darker stuff. The play isn’t funny, it’s a horror story.
“I’m also writing a book of horror stories for children. I like scary stories – that’s just where I’m going at the moment. It’s a lot darker than Roald Dahl, but it’s not Stephen King. I’m also writing a science book for children. It’s about a kid who wants to go to the moon with his grandad. The grandad wanted to be an astronaut, but he wasn’t tall enough.”
Pasquale’s not afraid of trying new things, enjoying huge success as King Arthur for two years in the touring production of Spamalot.
“I loved it. I never once got bored. If the opportunity ever came up again I’d jump at it. Just doing a Monty Python script was amazing. Eric Idle came to see our production and he loved my interpretation.
“So many people have done the role of King Arthur before, but the producers gave me licence to ad-lib and Eric loved that. I had a posh accent as the King. I think I was channelling a bit of Benedict Cumberbatch.”
He continues to box too, training at Gumshield, a gym near Eltham. It’s brilliant exercise and helped him get in shape for the London Marathon. Not an experience he’ll be repeating.
“I did it for Diabetes UK and loved the experience. But I made a huge mistake, I wore new trainers on the day of the marathon. At the end of the race, every one of my toes looked like a chipolata, filled with blood. I had to walk on my heels for three days. I couldn’t do anything.”
Pasquale has recently been performing alongside his old friend Bradley Walsh on ITV’s Tonight At The London Palladium. Mates for more than 30 years, they met doing talent shows together as teenagers.
“We’ve been through lots of trials and tribulations together over the years. Brad asked me ‘do you fancy doing a bit with me on Tonight At The London Palladium? We’ll fly you across the stage and you can do what you like up there’. So I do 10 minutes hanging in the air dressed in funny costumes. But you have to wear a big harness between your legs when you’re flying and it does give you trouble with your trousers. Trouble with your trousers – that could be the title of my next show.
“They dressed me up as Darth Vader, then they realised I couldn’t do it for copyright reasons. The same happened with Mary Poppins. So I tried lots of different outfits – not always very successfully. When I arrived at the Palladium as a pirate one day I said to Brad ‘guess who I am?’ And he replied ‘Barbara Windsor’.
He had a ball on the show, on the last programme he dressed as Elvis with a pair of giant hands.
“To close the show, I sang The Blues Brothers with Brad and Peter Andre while dressed as Elvis wearing a pair of giant hands, flying 10ft above the stage in the best theatre in the world. What’s not to like? We laughed ‘til we cried.”
He’s flown a lot in panto and you get used to being in the harness. These days it’s all controlled by computers, not blokes with ropes.
“I actually prefer blokes with ropes, you feel safer with them. Sometimes with computers, there are problems. The producers say ‘we’re not flying today because of technical issues’ and I reply ‘I’ll say. We shouldn’t be flying because my undercarriage is sore.’
“I’ve got a pilot’s licence, but being in control of an aeroplane is much easier. When you’re on a wire 70ft up and a bloke down below you is saying ‘you’re stuck, but I don’t know what’s wrong’, that’s a slightly worrying feeling,” adds Pasquale, also playing Clacton’s West Cliff Theatre on August 19, Southend’s Palace Theatre on August 20 and Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier on August 26.
He has many happy memories of the London Palladium, having worked there quite a few times be it the Royal Variety Show and various charity gigs there. He also performed there with one of the greats of the comedy circuit.
“I performed at Ken Dodd’s 80th birthday gig there. He said he wasn’t going to do it unless I performed with him. He was very helpful to me as one of the judges when I first appeared on New Faces in 1987. He gave me very good advice about my act and we have stayed in touch ever since.
“Unfortunately I told him I couldn’t perform at his 80th because I had a gig in High Wycombe the same night. So Ken said ‘that’s no problem. I’ll get a motorbike to bring you from High Wycombe to the Palladium and take you straight back there afterwards. You will be on stage in High Wycombe by eight’.
“Ken’s Palladium show started at seven and he went on to introduce it for 10 minutes. But of course being Ken, he didn’t do 10 minutes – he did 40. I was standing in the wings thinking ‘get off. I’ve got to be in High Wycombe in 20 minutes’. Luckily, I went onstage at about 7.40pm and then jumped on the back of a motorbike at 7.50pm and got on stage in High Wycombe at 8.15. I got away with it.”
One Man And His Bog isn’t your only chance to see Pasquale on stage, if you live in Dartford anyway.
“I’m appearing in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Orchard Theatre. I’m playing all seven dwarves, including Spunky, Fatty and Nobby. No, in fact I’m playing a character called Muddles who tries to save Snow White.”