Actor, comedian, impressionist, presenter, singer and writer Rob Brydon talks us through his new show – A Night of Songs & Laughter. In previous shows Rob has displayed his fantastically funny stand-up and dazzling array of impersonations; but this time he’ll be treating audiences to his superb singing, accompanied by a very talented 8-piece band. The show promises to be a very special night out!
Rob first broke through on TV with such excellent and original programmes as Marion and Geoff, Human Remains and The Keith Barret Show. He went on to gain a huge following from such widely adored comedies as Gavin and Stacey, Would I Lie to You and The Trip.
But for all his success on TV, Rob has been yearning for a return to his live roots. “Live comedy is such a buzz. People come just to see you. Sometimes you stand on stage thinking, ‘Good God, these people have all gone to the trouble of paying a babysitter and chosen to come and watch my show.’ That’s a very special feeling.”
Explaining in more depth, he goes “It feels very natural to me. Sometimes people say, ‘I can’t imagine getting up on stage and performing. It would be so terrifying.’ But you don’t choose that life – it’s almost a calling, something you just have to do.”
“I feel very comfortable on stage, and that grows over time. The more you get used to it, the more it becomes your norm. I like to entertain people and make them laugh. It’s a real privilege. As with a lot of things, you appreciate that more as you get older. You stand there on stage and think, ‘Wow, this is great!'”
Since appearing in a school production of Guys and Dolls, Rob has always loved singing. In 2009, alongside Ruth Jones, Robin Gibb, and Sir Tom Jones, he reached number one in the charts with the single Islands in the Stream, in aid of Comic Relief.
For all that, Rob is well aware that some people might still be taken aback by what they perceive as a change of tack with A Night of Songs & Laughter. “It will take some people by surprise. There are so many media outlets nowadays that some people might only know me from Gavin and Stacey or Would I Lie To You? Those people often say to me, ‘I didn’t know you could sing’, and yet I have sung a lot. I hope this show is a very pleasant surprise for audiences.”
A BAFTA nominated actor who has also starred in such acclaimed films as 24-Hour Party People and Blinded by the Light, Rob continues that, “At the end of the day, I’m there to entertain people. I recently went to see Jeff Goldblum play with his band. That was wonderful. That guy was just there to entertain people. He played his songs, but he did lots of other things as well, like film quizzes. The show followed no rulebook. I found that very liberating and quite instructive. It showed me that you don’t have to follow the rules. You can make the show whatever you want it to be. So that’s what I’ve done with A Night of Songs & Laughter'”
Rob, who trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff before moving to a job at BBC Wales, reveals that A Night of Songs & Laughter will recount his life story through a series of anecdotes and songs by such artists as Paul Simon, George and Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits.
The performer, who possesses a beautifully rich singing voice, explains that, “I go back to my childhood. I was 16 and starting to get interested in girls, but I was always pining from afar. In my teens I lived in Porthcawl, a coastal town in Wales, and all the cool boys were surfers. I wasn’t a surfer. I had a go once, but I hurt my knee.”
In addition, “My musical taste was never considered cool. I never set much store by stuff being fashionable. I loved David Bowie and The Police, but also Shakin’ Stevens and Cliff Richard, which not many boys of my age did. Well, not the ones sitting at the back of the bus!”
“I would see Neanderthals from my class with their arm around a girl at the school disco and think, ‘How did he manage that? He can’t string a sentence together and now it looks as if they’re setting up home together’. I talk a lot about my bemusement that girls were going out with those boys. At the time, Joe Jackson’s song, ‘Is She Really Going Out with Him?’ was a big hit, and I sing a bit of that by way of illustration.”
Rob wraps up by expressing what he hopes audiences will take away from A Night of Songs & Laughter. “I hope people will come out happier than when they went in because they’ve had such a great time. I hope they will have forgotten about the world for two hours. Especially considering the last year we have all had.
“As a performer in the last few years, you can really feel that people just want to escape. It’s tangible. People come up to you afterwards and say, ‘I’m so glad you didn’t talk about the state of the country or the current US President.’ My show is an escape. It’s a service. People want to go out and be entertained. In times of adversity, which you could definitely say we are in now, people want that more than ever.”
Never more than a minute away from the next joke, Rob adds with a wry grin: “Of course, if the box office is still open, a percentage of the audience will be looking for a refund, I don’t doubt that. I can only hope that the more forgiving among them will draw a line in the sand and put it behind them!”