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Comedian Marcus Brigstocke brings his new show, Je m'accuse - I am Marcus, to Margate, October 2014

He’s a regular wit on Have I Got News For You and QI, and film fans will know his face from movies Love Actually and Beyond the Sea.

But it’s his own stand-up comedy that has been the driving force behind the rise and rise of Marcus Brigstocke.

His new tell-all show, Je m’accuse – I am Marcus, brings him to Kent this week.

Marcus Brigstocke bares all
Marcus Brigstocke bares all

In a departure from the political comedy that has been his trademark, this tour looks at the crazy turns his life has taken so far. What’s On asked more.

You’re not from this neck of the woods – do you know Kent at all?

“A friend of mine has a place in Margate and I came last summer. Over lunch I decided it would be a good idea to swim across the bay and join the youngsters leaping off the harbour wall. When I climbed up they all recognised me and said, ‘You’re that bloke off the telly, have you come to jump off the wall?’ I went ‘Yes, I have as it goes,’ and they said, ‘Good for you!’ Then I had a look and saw how high it was and realised I had to do it because they were all staring at me. A lifeguard came over on a jet ski while I was dilly-dallying and said, ‘Listen, I’d only do another five minutes of jumping if I was you because the tide’s going out and it’s getting shallow.’ So I thought, ‘Oh great, now I really have to leap.’”

Are you often recognised by members of the public nowadays?

“A fair bit. I don’t ever think of myself when I’m wandering around as someone who anyone would recognise, so when it happens, for the most part, it’s a very pleasing experience.”

Where did your funny bone come from?

“I don’t know. My mother was very into theatre, and then my dad was extremely funny, very good at telling stories, so there was a bit of that. And then I had a very curious – and in some ways troubled – childhood, and I’m sure that played its part. Fundamentally, what it comes down to for me is that there’s no nicer sound than a room of people laughing, it’s a very joyful thing.”

You’ve described yourself as posh before – tell us about that.

“I went to boarding school when I was seven years old, so I should really be Mayor of London or Prime Minister or something. I don’t know whether I learned to be funny there – I was the annoying kid who could do the impressions of the teachers. Comedy is still a meritocracy, you can’t get anywhere in it unless you’re any good. There are a few of us who I would describe as posh – Miles Jupp, Alexander Armstrong, Stephen Fry – there are plenty of others, but it’s never mattered. I’ve never traded on it in my comedy, although it does give me an outlook. When I do my very political comedy I do it from the point of view of knowing who those people are – I grew up around the Camerons and the Osbornes, I know what they’re like. I can confirm they are dangerous and they are not to be trusted.”

The new show moves away from politics though, it’s more about the absurdities that have cropped up in your life?

“Absolutely. Over the last 12 years or so all of my comedy has been satirical, political, social, theological all of that stuff, then last year I thought, ‘I’ve got all these amazing stories from my life.’ I was in rehab by the time I was 17, I was an alcoholic and a drug addict and I weighed 24 stone. I came out of there and I’d halved my body weight to 11st. Then I got talent spotted and I became a podium dancer working at the Ministry of Sound for a couple of years, then I got a job on an oil rig in the North Sea for about seven months – though not as a dancer, you understand. ”

Marcus Brigstocke in Spamalot
Marcus Brigstocke in Spamalot

You studied drama at university though; was acting the original dream?

“In many ways it still is. Comedy is a way of being on stage. If you have an aptitude for comedy you can be on stage whenever you want, you get to play lots of characters and do different voices. I still act – I was in Spamalot for nearly a year, and in a production of the Railway Children, I’ve done a few movies...”

Do you think your role in Love Actually played a big part in raising your profile?

“I don’t know, really. We’re very, very lucky to have Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed the film, and to play opposite Bill Nighy genuinely was one of the biggest thrills of my life. I went on to make a film with Kevin Spacey after that as well [Beyond the Sea]. But I don’t think it had much of a knock-on effect on the rest of my work. You end up on one thing, and people notice you, and then after time it sort of settles. I get booked for Have I Got News For You and QI and I do tons and tons of radio stuff, but for me the backbone of all of it is stand-up.”

You made a foray into reality TV earlier this year with winter sports show The Jump. Didn’t you have a nasty accident?

“Yes, I snapped my cruciate ligament and I’m still recovering six months later. The injury rate on the show was unbelievably high – Steve Redgrave broke a finger and two ribs, Darren Gough tore his hamstring and broke three ribs, Henry Conway broke his thumb, Melinda Messenger was concussed for seven days – it was brutal. No regrets, I had an amazing time.”

Je m’accuse - I am Marcus, comes to Margate Theatre Royal on Saturday, October 4 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15. Visit the Theatre Royal Margate website at www.theatreroyalmargate.com or call 01843 292795.

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