Comedian Marcus Brigstocke

Fresh from doing a UK tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot, Brigstocke is back playing the role of King Arthur in the West End. He speaks to The London Word about his the new run of Spamalot, his latest stand-up show, and why he loves corduroy too much to live north of the river.

Although he may not have the best lines in the show (they surely go to the French guard: ‘I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries’ etc..) Brigstocke says he couldn’t resist doing another run.

‘I just loved doing the show so much that I ended up staying. And when I heard it was on again I thought it’s too good a thing to pass up,’ he says.

But why is it nearly 40 years after the film we still haven’t got bored of the shrubbery-loving Knights of Ni, et al?

‘Python was so different, it was so outside the box, it was just from another world – and I think it’s stayed in that place. Obviously now it has become very memorable, and people are often able to quote the stuff they wrote. Spamalot takes the most memorable bits form the Holy Grail and the sketches and throws them altogether into a very joyful, silly musical.’

And if doing battle with the armless Black Knight repeatedly weren’t enough, Brigstocke also has a new stand-up show he’s about to take up to Edinburgh Festival, The Brig Society.

‘Yes it’s terrifying, I’m standing on the precipice. You just have to lean forward and throw yourself off, hoping that the jokes you’ve written are strong enough to break your fall.’

The Big Society pun was the main motivation behind the name, he says.

‘I’d been planning a tour for a year now and I thought creating a basket of the Big Society project would be a good way to separate the ideas of what had happened since I was last on the road.’

You’d be forgiven for categorising Brigstocke as a Guardian-reading, middle class, not- afraid-to-rant-on-occasion, leftie stand-up: it is the schtick he plays up to in a lot of his comedy, after all.  So what are his views on the Comedic State of The Nation?

‘Comedy is exploding in the UK, it is really booming – and that is largely speaking a good thing. I think that political comedy still mostly happens live. If you look at Mock the Week, I would argue and maybe the regulars on the show feel I am doing them a disservice, that it is not a political show. 10 O’clock Live is barely political apart from the stuff David Mitchell does, Have I got News For You – well the first third of it is.’

The live format suits political comedy best, he says. ‘Because it changes very fast and someone shooting off about politics needs to be in place where you can be held accountable and if people don’t agree with something they can heckle, that is the deal with stand-up.

‘There is a good amount of decent, clever and socially political comedy being done in the UK. There is also a really good amount of very silly comedy – and then there’s a load of other stuff I don’t really like.’

Brigstocke lives in southwest London – a part of the city which suits his personality, he says. ‘I’ll be honest, I’m kind of intimidated by north London. I don’t think I’m cool enough. I’ve too much of a propensity toward corduroy and cardigans to deal with north London.’

However, he will have to contend with central during the Games, in what is bound to resemble a cheek by jowl Pâté of bodies.

‘I suspect getting in and out of the West End will be a bloody nightmare, but it is very exciting. And I really hope that the whole city is lit up by what’s happening. I mean the Olympics, not that the whole city will be lit up by Spamalot making its return – although I imagine there is a similar amount of excitement!’

Spamalot is running from July 24 to September 9 at:

The Harold Pinter Theatre
Panton Street

Marcus Brigstocke: The Brig Society will be showing at The Soho Theatre from July 26 to 27 at:

The Soho Theatre
21 Dean Street

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