INTERVIEW: Paul Merton speaks ahead of his Bournemouth appearance
TO go on stage with no idea of what you’re going to say is the recurring nightmare of most actors and comedians.
However, this is precisely what Paul Merton and his fellow performers do every night on their 27-date tour which comes to Bournemouth next week.
Paul, team captain on Have I Got News for You, who is appearing with his ‘Impro Chums’ Mike McShane, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster spoke to the Stour and Avon Magazine about the show which has no script and no props.
He confirmed that the whole production is unplanned, with each performer not knowing what the others are going to say.
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Fortunately they have worked together for more than two decades and have built up a tremendous rapport with each other.
Asked if they ever had an awkward silence, Paul said: “It can sometimes be tricky in the second half when we act out suggestions which have come from the audience. There might be a second’s pause as we look at each other and then it just develops and progresses. With improvisation you have to make sure you listen carefully to what the others are saying.”
A founder member of The Comedy Store Players, Paul still performs most Sundays at the venue in Picadilly Circus
“I’ve been appearing there for 30 years, and it’s great practice. You can’t be lazy and it’s good for the brain,” he said.
His comments on Have I Got News for You are inspired but quite off the wall.
“Sometimes I quite deliberately try to change the flow of the conversation,” he admitted.
His Channel Five travel series - he visited India, China and Europe - was very well received.
Speaking about the India trip he said: “We had some good stories and great interviews, but it meant I was away from home for two months. And those roads are the most dangerous in the world.”
Because his wit is so ready, you could be forgiven for thinking he is the life and soul of the party from the moment he wakes up.
“It would be an ordeal to be funny all the time, and at a party I am probably the quiet one. However, I do have a good sense of humour,” he said.
He added that although his humour is off the cuff, he does tell jokes occasionally.
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums is at the Pavilion Bournemouth on Tuesday 22nd October.