Roz Laws chats to Greg Davies, a comedian who has become something of a cult TV hit.
He towers over everyone at 6ft 8in, so it’s only natural that comedian Greg Davies should tell tall stories.
His latest stand-up show is full of amusing tales about his life, not least of which is the reason why the tour is called, intriguingly, Firing Cheeseballs At A Dog.
“I was on holiday in Spain with my friend Marek Larwood, from We Are Klang,” he explains. “We were in a car going up a mountain track and this dog was in our way.
“The only two things we had in the car were a bag of cheeseballs and a catapult. So we decided the best way to encourage the dog to move was to use the cheeseballs as a weapon. The dog wasn’t scared, it didn’t eat them or move, it was just confused. It sat there looking at two grown men laughing like toddlers. I think I saw pity in its eyes. If anything, we raised the dog’s self-esteem, so animal lovers should be thanking me.
“The show was almost called Firing Olives At Swallows, because that’s what we tried in the afternoon. It sounds more romantic, but I can tell you, it’s very difficult to hit a swallow with an olive.”
Greg’s Midland dates will be homecoming gigs, as he grew up in Wem, Shropshire and attended Thomas Adams School. His parents still live in the town.
“I’ve been to Birmingham many, many times. It was always the big city trip when I was a lad and I have genuine affection for it.
“I honestly think Midland audiences are my favourite, and I really don’t say that about anywhere else. There’s a real warmth about the people and some of my favourite gigs have been in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.”
There is another Midland link for Greg – his facial resemblance to Droitwich’s Rik Mayall.
On an episode of never Mind The Buzzcocks, host Rhod Gilbert described Greg as “the bloated corpse of Rik Mayall”.
Actually, the pair did meet once, embarrassingly for Greg.
“Years ago, when I was a drama student, I was choosing a sandwich in Marks and Spencer and doing my Rik Mayall impression. My friend was nudging me and telling me to shut up. I turned round and Rik was standing behind me, shaking his head and looking disappointed. I almost ran out of the shop. I was a huge fan of his when I was a young man so it’s really weird that I’ve morphed into him.”
Greg, 41, is returning to Shrewsbury to film a gig for Dave’s One Night Stand, and has also been booked to appear on BBC2’s Frank Skinner’s Opinionated and Would I Lie To You?
His TV CV includes Ask Rhod Gilbert, Fast And Loose and Have I Got News For You. But to a teenage audience, he is simply Mr Gilbert, the deranged head of sixth form in the hit Channel 4 comedy The Inbetweeners,
Greg has just filmed his last appearance as Gilbert in the forthcoming Inbetweeners film. He has plenty of experience to draw on for the role, as he spend 13 years teaching drama at three secondary schools.
“I can’t believe I lasted for as long as I did,” he says. “All I ever wanted to do was to make people laugh, so I was a tragic attention seeker as a teacher.
“I was nothing like Gilbert. I made the classic mistake very early on of thinking I could be mates with the kids, and got my fingers burned. I had a frightening mentor called Ivan Morgan, aka Mr Eyebrows, who pulled me to one side and said ‘You have to toughen up, lad’.
“I learned that if you are going to survive that job, things have to be done on your terms, so I became much stricter.
“I’m not allowed to say much about The Inbetweeners film, except that I milk my brief moment in it and the script is hilarious.
“The role means I do get recognised a lot and am often called a legend by young people, who use the word so casually.
“I have acquired a small collection of very dedicated fans, to whom I am very grateful. I am always amazed to see them in the audience yet again, though – how they are not bored senseless by the show by now is a mystery to me.
“One lady send me a giant Kit Kat. She obviously thought that, because of my size, a normal Kit Kat wouldn’t be enough, so she got four chunky bars and melted them together. How strange and how lovely!”
* Firing Cheeseballs At A Dog comes to Worcester’s Huntingdon Hall on May 5, Gatehouse Theatre Stafford on May 18, Cheltenham Town Hall on May 19 and Wolverhampton Civic on June 9. For more information go to www.gregdavies.co.uk