You’ve been doing comedy now for about forty years, what have been your highlights?
Oh, crikey. I’ve been really lucky; there have been loads of highlights so I can’t really distinguish between them. I’m enjoying what I’m doing now, but I’ve been lucky: I’ve co-created shows like ‘Drop the Dead Donkey’ and ‘Outnumbered’ and there’s a show on the way called ‘Old Harry’s Gang’ and these are all highlights. It’s a bit like being asked to pick your favourite child – you can’t really do it.
How has the comedy scene changed since you started out?
Well, there’s more of it. That’s the big change. When I started out, comedy wasn’t really seen as a career. There weren’t many comedy writers, certainly. There are many more outlets now so it’s a more dynamic environment than it used to be. It used to stay the same for longer. In its essence, it hasn’t changed: the fundamental challenge is still that you have to be funny and tell a story, so the basics of it have not changed. The environment has changed a bit. You’ve got things like the 24-hour news cycle that means that the world is moving fast and so comedy has to reflect that and adapt to that. It’s bigger and faster, basically, but in essence, it’s the same.
You’ve got a new show starting soon: ‘An Evening with Andy Hamilton’. What’s the essence of the show?
Right, so that show is an evening of comedy; it’s shaped by the audience where what I talk about is dictated by the questions the audience ask, so it’s a free kind of show: I’ve got a beginning and an end but everything else is shaped by the audience so we go where they want to go. The advantage of being of a certain age is that I have a fairly deep reservoir of anecdotes and opinions so most topics have somewhere I can go and something I can talk about. It’s a very enjoyable show, partly because I never know what to expect and that keeps it fresh.
Have you ever done anything like that before?
Yeah, I have toured with this format once already and enjoyed it hugely so I’m looking forward to it. I’m doing Sheffield and Leeds.
What made you decide to do this format again?
I enjoyed it last time but I only did about 10 dates, so I thought I would go out and have fun and do it again. With industrial touring the comedian is on in a different town each night it’s very intense so I don’t do that: I do more gentle touring, with just a few dates.
You’ve done some political comedy recently: is there a future for you in that?
I don’t think I can say. Politics doesn’t stop regardless so there’s always something to turn into comedy. Politics is part of the lives of ordinary people so I can’t imagine it going completely dead but whether I’ve got a future in it? I don’t know. But yeah, I think unless we end up with a totalitarian state it will always be used for comedy. Even then, people would still make political comedy it just wouldn’t be on the telly.
What do you think the future does hold for you?
I don’t know but actually I don’t mind not knowing. I’ve got a few projects – some of them are quite mad – but I’m trying to persuade somebody to put the money up for them. I’m doing a radio series in the spring and I’m also writing a novel in handwriting in shorthand to be published in long hand and that’s a very long letter so that’s different in that I’m not aware that anyone has done that before; it may be a terrible idea, I don’t know. I don’t mind not knowing.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans in Sheffield?
Come along! They’ll have a great time.
‘An Evening With Andy Hamilton’ is on Monday 20 May at Sheffield City Hall.
Featured Image Credit: Steve Ullathorne