Comedian, actor and impressionist Rob Brydon is in a good place.
Having built his career steadily over the last 20 years, Brydon says he can now sit back and “smell the roses.”
Brydon is the star of shows such as The Trip, Gavin and Stacey and Would I Lie To You? and after a gap of some years he’s back on the stage with I Am Standing Up in which he gathers the various threads of his career.
“In my show I talk about my life, I talk about being 53, what it’s like having younger kids, I do the impressions, there’s singing, there’s music, there’s audience interaction. In that sense it’s almost like a variety show more than just coming out with gag, gag, gag.” Brydon says.
Brydon says he relishes being on the stage - just him and the audience.
“That’s fantastic, that time, with the audience, it’s such a privilege if you’re in the position to attract an audience and come to a beautiful theatre and they’ve come just to see you, that’s wonderful and you can’t take that for granted.”
Brydon is bringing his show to New Zealand next year and says his early years in relative obscurity - when he hosted a shopping channel and did voiceover work - has made him what he is today.
“I presented for a year on a shopping channel, and to start with - you know, it was work, you can’t discount just being in work. Most people who do what I do are not in work so it was a job, the money was good, and I enjoyed it for a while then I became very aware that the longer I did that I would never be taken seriously as an actor or a comedian.
"Well, luckily the company went bust so that was the end of that!
“Then I did voice overs and I did very well at that and for a while that satisfied me because it was a type of performance - but I very clearly remember getting to a point where I was frustrated and that was when I started to do stand-up comedy - that was when I started to get open spots.”
Around the time Brydon was taking open mic spots, Catherine Tate, who recently toured New Zealand, was playing the same pubs.
“It was before either of us was famous. It was in a stand-up club, in a room above a pub in about - I would guess - ‘97 or ’98. I remember she was on the stage, she might have been doing her grandmother which eventually became this Nan character and I have a memory of being in this smoky club and I remember thinking 'she’s got something, she’s better than all the other people, whether it’s charisma or presence' …
“There are funny people who never really progress because you need something else – she had everything, she was funny but I remember thinking she’s got a stage presence and I distinctly remember thinking 'oh God she’s good, she’s going to do well'.”
Brydon’s brand of comedy is heavily influenced by Barry Humphreys, who he says is now a good friend.
“Barry [Humphreys] is probably the top person for me, a lot of what I do is influenced by him. I told him that once, I said ‘do you know a lot of what I do comes directly from you' thinking he might say ‘oh yeah, what have you stolen?’ and he said ‘It’s wonderful that somebody is carrying the torch’."
Carrying that torch has taken Brydon to the top of the entertainment ladder and it’s a good place to be, he says.
“I know a lot of people in my line of work, who are never satisfied, who are always thinking there’s something better over the horizon if only they could be a bit bigger. I’m not one of those people.
"I’m somebody who says 'smell the roses'. I have a fantastic career, good God I’m talking to you in New Zealand.
“I have a lovely level of success - it brings me lots of lovely things in life … I don’t want it to decrease! But I have no great desire for it to increase. I’m very happy where I am.”