One of the funniest comics on the circuit is about to play four nights at the MetroRadio Arena, Newcastle. Viv Hardwick reports on the rise and rise of Michael McIntyre

The Advertiser Series: Four nights of fun: Michael McIntyre heads to Newcastle from tomorrow Four nights of fun: Michael McIntyre heads to Newcastle from tomorrow

MICHAEL McINTYRE’S having a big laugh in terms of comedy profile and is about to pack out the MetroRadio Arena Newcastle for four nights from tomorrow… but it wasn’t always like that.

Creating his latest stand-up tour, Michael McIntyre – Show time!, has been painful both professionally and personally, he admits.

“I pride myself on always creating entirely new material.

So the hardest part of the process is always the beginning – starting the tour in Cardiff should be the easiest part,” says the 36-year-old, who has built up his performance over weeks of warm-ups across the country.

“The most difficult was walking on stage at the Pleasance Theatre in North London with a blank sheet of paper. People were paying five pounds to watch a comedian with no jokes. I imagined them spending all day boasting to their friends in the office – ‘Guess where I’m going tonight for five pounds?’”

But, he continues, “Then they turned up to watch a confused, babbling man talking rubbish and in desperate need of a haircut. One night I even showed up in odd shoes – that’s how unprepared I was to leave the house. Someone in the audience stopped me in the middle of a routine and said, ‘Excuse me, have you got odd shoes on?’ “There’s no comeback to that. All I could say was, ‘I’m sorry, you’re right, I’m a mess. I don’t have any jokes and I can’t dress myself’. So I started as an oddshoed man with no material, but then slowly but surely, I started to get laughs. That grew and grew, and now I think I’ve got a really good show.”

That still didn’t prepare him for an on-stage injury in Ireland, just before he hobbled into York.

“I did a warm-up gig in Cork a few weeks ago. The Euros were on, and I was impersonating the England football team who never knew where the ball was against Italy. Suddenly, something just pinged in my knee. I thought it was all over. I’d torn my calf muscle and collapsed on stage. At first, people thought it was part of the show,” McIntyre says.

“I ended up having to wear one of those Beckham orthopaedic boots, which was incredibly embarrassing.

I usually feel very cool in my car. When I pull up in it, it’s a big moment which I really enjoy.

“But at that time, I would drive up and take half an hour to get out of my car. As I emerged with my Beckham boot on, it looked like I had been skiing, but had lost most of my equipment. People were thinking, ‘Has he been mugged while skiing? He’s only wearing one boot.’”

He jokes that, “The upside is that all these injuries have just given me more material. If someone said to me, ‘You will suffer this injury, but you’ll get a six to eight minute routine out of it,’ I’d probably take it.”

In spite of the demands of a 71-date arena tour, McIntyre says he loves making people laugh.

“In fact, the only time I’m really relaxed and comfortable is on stage – I struggle a bit with the rest of life.

“I don’t think every comedian is like this, but I’d be very happy to be on stage all day long. When people see me in the street or wind down their car windows to talk to me, they are sometimes surprised by how much effort I put into entertaining them. I think, ‘Oh great, a chance to perform’. I come alive in those situations.”

In spite of awards, three Royal Variety performances, two series of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, a Christmas special, Live at the Apollo and Britain’s Go Talent judging, and two DVDs, the North London-based comedian feels the time is right to take a break from TV.

“At the beginning of this year, I said to myself, ‘I just want to focus on what I do best, which is standup.

“TV producers find stand-ups at the Edinburgh Festival and say, ‘Do you want to do a sitcom?’ But that’s a totally different thing. It would be like finding a good sprinter at a running track and saying, ‘Do you want to be a cricketer?’ Or, ‘You’re great at hurdling. How do you fancy putting together a property business?’ It just doesn’t make sense.”

As a result, he admits he’s worked his hardest on the current show.

I should do because people are coming to see me. People are not slow to tell me that the cost of the evening all adds up - ‘what with the parking and the babysitter, before you know it, it’s £100’. So I have to give everyone an amazing night.

“When they come to see you, people want it to be the best night of their lives. Even if you are only meeting someone for coffee, in the back of your mind you’re thinking, ‘This could be the best night of my life’. Or if you go to the cinema, you want it to be brilliant – you don’t want it to be just a two-star movie.

  • The Michael McIntyre 2012 arena tour plays Newcastle from tomrorow until Monday.

Tickets: £35. Box Office: 0844- 493-6666 metroradioarena.co.uk.

  • Michael McIntyre: Showtime!

(Universal Pictures) is released on Monday

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