'You don't get that': Comedian Griff Rhys Jones on why he loves Liverpool crowd

Griff Rhys Jones will be performing at the Liverpool Playhouse on April 30
Griff Rhys Jones will be performing at the Liverpool Playhouse on April 30 -Credit:Publicity handout

Funnyman Griff Rhys Jones is back on the road with his new one-man show - and he's coming to Liverpool.

His show, 'The Cat's Pyjamas', will be on at the Liverpool Playhouse on Tuesday, April 30.

According to Griff, people coming to the show should expect the unexpected. The comedy veteran likes to improvise, and no two shows of his are ever the same.

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Speaking to the ECHO, Griff said: "I just like to tell funny stories. It could be anything really, from experiences of family and ageing, to the TikTok generation, to wrestling with crocodiles and encounters with rugby fans on a midnight train to Ilford.

"What I talk about depends on where I'm performing. When I'm in Cardiff, the land of my aunties, I tell stories about being Welsh."

In the second half of the show, Griff likes to have a two-way conversation with the audience, using a question and answer format.

He said: "I want them to ask questions - they can ask me anything at all. I love that element of surprise."

Griff is now 70 years old, and he says his fans tend to be "of a certain age". He added: "There aren't going to be many 20-year-old students in the audience. But that's great, and I like to take the p**s out of them for it."

In the eighties and nineties, Griff was known for his satirical work, including on Not the Nine O'Clock News. He remains politically engaged and jokes that the country "has been in a form of national emergency since about 1932".

But according to Griff, 'The Cat's Pyjamas' isn't really satirical or political. He adds: "It's more about my personal crisis than the national crisis."

The comic says he is delighted to be back in Liverpool next week. He first performed in the city with his old comedy partner, Mel Smith, who died in 2013. Griff has described Smith as his "comedy soul mate" and the pair had their own TV show, Alias Smith and Jones (later renamed Smith and Jones) which ran from 1984 to 1998.

He recalls "trembling" when he found out they would be performing at the Liverpool Empire in their early days of touring. He said: " I was rung up by the ECHO and asked: 'Is it really just the two of you? Have you got an orchestra or support act with you? Or some dancing girls?'

"It was rare then for comedians to do shows on their own - you went out with a variety bill. The ECHO man told me the Empire was the second biggest theatre in Britain. I put the phone down, trembling, and said to Mel, 'did you know about this?'

"But we had a fantastic time - we were lucky because the reach of television meant the audience already knew us. We loved getting out and meeting them."

Years later, Griff returned to Liverpool to perform at the Epstein, and then at the Everyman Theatre. He said he always likes the audience in Liverpool: "In other places, the audience can be quiet, or hard to impress, but you don't get that in Liverpool - I love it there."

Griff has filmed several TV programmes on Merseyside over the years, and says he "understands Liverpool better" after spending time here filming. He even took a dip in the Mersey for a BBC series on rivers, intending to swim all the way from Wirral to Liverpool to "show how clean the river was". Unfortunately, his plans were thwarted on the day after he encountered an unexpected obstacle in the water.

He said: "I jumped in at Birkenhead and got to the middle of the river, then a massive great tanker arrived, so I had to get out."

The Cat's Pyjamas will be on at the Liverpool Playhouse at 7.30pm on Tuesday, April 30. Tickets cost £25 and are available to buy on the Playhouse website.

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