Does the devil have the best laughs? Marcus Brigstocke on his wickedly good new show
PUBLISHED: 15:27 29 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 29 June 2018
Marcus Brigstocke is taking a devil-may-care attitude to his latest show, portraying Satan himself, complete with horns and make-up. As he also prepares to head back to Latitude, at which he has been a regular visitor, the comedian tells us more.
All comedians have a little touch of the wicked about them, but for his latest show Marcus Brigstocke is taking it literally by portraying the devil.
Devil May Care Marcus sees him veering off from straight stand-up into whole new territory. “I wanted to do something where I step away from the cliché of me being posh, middle-class and a bit angsty,” he explains. “What if I remove myself from the picture? So, I’m going to be Lucifer.”
He adds: “This is something I’ve never tried before. It’s effectively a character piece, and like most character stand-up it’s a thin veneer over what I am. It’s simply a means of talking about stuff from a certain point of view. I’m very interested in notions of what’s good and what’s bad. I think there are very few people who do bad things with bad intentions; there are a lot of us who do bad things with good intentions – or at least with blinkers on – and that’s what I’m interested in.”
In order to take his audience along with him, Marcus doesn’t have to just act a bit like Satan: he has to look like him, too.
“We’ll see how far into the tour I regret this but I will be wearing full devil make-up and horns for every show,” he laughs. “But I need to just remember that, frankly, some people have real jobs. So, I might be like, ‘oh it’s going to be a nightmare, I shall have to put make-up on every night!’ Well, really, wow, how tough.”
Marcus won’t just be donning some horns in Devil May Care, he’ll be locking them with those he views as trying to simplify and polarise political debate in Britain.
“What’s interesting for me is the speed with which we put each other into groups, and that’s something which has been accelerated by social media. In this show I’ll be dividing everyone up deliberately and in a cartoonish way by saying how everyone is so much worse than everyone else: I’ll show that we’re really not helping each other with this level of discussion.”
One of the most erudite and thoughtful stand-ups in the British game, Marcus Brigstocke has been working away at comedy for over 20 years, starting off at Bristol University and then the Edinburgh Fringe with sketch group Club Seals before moving into solo projects.
Through acclaimed live shows such as God Collar, Why The Long Face? and Planet Corduroy, plus TV work including Argumental and I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, his rise has been the product of talent and toil. He has also dabbled in West End show appearing in Spamalot, Oklahoma! and The Railway Children.
But when it comes to stand-up, he has a very definite idea of what he believes should be at the core of someone’s act.
“My starting point for a show is not what’s funny, it’s entirely what’s interesting, and my job is then to make it funny,” he says. “Obviously, come show-time if I’ve failed to make it funny it doesn’t make the edit even if it is interesting. But what’s more important to me is ‘what do I really care about?’
“When I saw Jerry Seinfeld live – and he’s someone I obviously admire as a stand-up – I was thinking, ‘mate, just tell me one thing that you care about.’ That’s always been the stand-up that I’ve been drawn to; it doesn’t have to be passionate or ranty but just needs a feeling that someone cares about something.”
Before he brings Devil May Care to Norwich and Bury St Edmunds, Marcus will be making his now annual pilgrimage to the region to appear at the Latitude Festival.
He is a regular at Henham Park and has been involved in some of the most memorable comedy events at the festival. In 2016 he memorably strolled on stage in full Prince regalia with a cardboard purple guitar as he fronted ‘Prince Fest’ that saw a host of comedians pay to the late musician by tribute lip-syncing along to his songs with a big box of props and a dozen confetti cannons.
Last year Marcus, whose comedy has drawn on his own history of addiction, joined Dr Tony Goldstone and obesity expert Dr Samantha Scholtz for a discussion on a study of how hormones alter the craving for alcohol and drugs that was both hilarious and enlightening.
This year he will be joining a comedy line-up that includes Harry Hill, Bridget Christie, QI team capatains Sandi Toksvig and Alan Davies, Dylan Moran, David O’Doherty, Aisling Bea and more.
He will be arriving in his beloved motor home, The Superbrig, with which, a year after it had been stolen in London, he was recently reunited when police found it in Norfolk with its number plates changed.
Having already claimed on the insurance, he had to buy it back at auction. “It went far higher than it is worth,’ the comic wrote on Facebook. “I don’t know who else would bid that much. It’s not financially worth that amount. Anyway…I won!”
The vehicle has been a familiar sight at festivals such as Latitude where he has played host to countless other comedians, cooking up meals.
Beyond that he is preparing to tap into his dark side as he transforms into the devil incarnate. While parts of it will include tirades against the things that get his goat, he will be putting life’s irritations into some kind of perspective.
“I know there are a great number of people struggling and having a terrible time in Britain, but most of us really do have enviable lives. If you have a job and somewhere to live and enough food, then you’re already doing better than more than half the people on the face of the planet.
“And yet, we get drawn into these social media rows, or we hate something quite mundane, or we get furious that Amazon said they’d deliver on Tuesday, it’s already Wednesday and it’s not here! But I do like to end my shows by talking about what’s great in life and that actually we’re pretty lucky.”
• Marcus Brigstocke will be performing at Latitude Festival on July 13. More at latitudefestival.com
• Marcus Brigstocke: Devil May Care is at Norwich Playhouse from September 11-13 and The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, on October 4.