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Paul Tonkinson comes to Newbury

Published: 15 Feb 2013 08:300 comments

Although a familiar face on our TV screens, Paul Tonkinson, is surprisingly new to the touring game. Half way through his debut run of shows, we chat to the Yorkshire-born comedian to find out, frankly, why it's taken him so darn long to get out on the road?

FANCY MAN: Paul Tonkinson

"Some people tour too early, and they have nothing much to say. This is an hour-and-a-half so there is a lot of comedy. It's new jokes that work and it's a mixture of stuff I've been doing for a while," he says.

"The tour is nice and it's a big leap, I find myself suddenly on my own. I feel I've got better as a comic as it's not as competitive as the circuit. You can relax and enjoy it. I take the nerves and use them for new situations, I just can't wait to get out there, and obviously Newbury is the place I always wanted to perform!"

It might have taken some time to prise the avid Manchester United supporter, who predicts a two-one Reading defeat at Monday's big match, from God's Own Country, but Berkshire residents are in for a treat as the next stop on his Fancy Man tour is at Newbury Corn Exchange on Saturday.

Paul, 44, said: "I'm really looking forward to the Newbury show. The Fancy Man title refers to when you're from the North and go down South; when you return to the North you get that 'oooh' - it's that sort of vibe! I talk a lot about family life and pets and what it's like to be with the same woman for 20-odd years and just getting older. It's fairly upbeat and observational comedy with a slight philosophical side."

Paul's rise to fame has deviated through television, radio and the far east. He started out "fluking my way onto a very good drama course" at Manchester University where he discovered his talent for comedy.

Alongside stints working at Harrods and various cinemas, he held his own at comedy clubs in Manchester and "I'm still doing it now. I'm the oldest stand-up on the circuit!" he jested. "The first gig I did was at Manchester and on the bill was Eddie Izzard and Frank Skinner. Then there was Lee Evans and Jo Brand, just fantastic comics - it was the heyday."

Of his time performing for the UK Armed Forces, he said: "The first gig I did was in Sierra Leone. I found myself in a car park stood on pallets and telling jokes. It was a completely different world. You get a better understanding of it. I was out early on in the conflict, I drove around the country, meeting people, swimming in rivers, having a laugh, before it got as serious as it is."

Paul presented The Big Breakfast for a while, guest appeared on Channel Four's cult culinary competition Come Dine With Me and can regularly be seen on The Comedy Store. He is the proud owner of two Time Out comedy awards, has presented radio shows for XFM London and Manchester and secured spots on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

Speaking affectionately of his "mate" McIntyre, Paul said: "We met before he became the comedy giant he is now, when he was just another fella, we spent a lot of time together. He remains unchanged, he is just the same, down to earth guy."

A family man at heart, with his time off the road, he says: "I tend to just drink a lot and shout at strangers!" he jokes, adding: "No, I am a home bird. I run marathons and have fun writing a column. I got the kids a pool table for Christmas so I spend a lot of time playing pool - my living room is like a youth club."

Tickets are £14, doors at 7.45pm, from www.cornexchangenew.com or by calling 0845 5218 218.

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