Five things you might not know about . . . Mark Steel
The Kent-born comic, political rabble-rouser and former TV repair man takes a show about the story behind his heritage across the country
1. He learnt comedy in a peculiar environment
Steel insists that he first displayed his comedic talents while working as a TV repair man. He usually threw a couple of jokes at customers who were annoyed that Steel couldn’t fix their gogglebox there and then and would have to take it away. Also, for three months in a row, he won the best joke prize in the industry’s magazine. He claims to have no recollection whatsoever of the victorious gags.
2. His current show has been brewing for a very long time
Who Do I Think I Am is, unsurprisingly, a show about his family lineage, having been adopted at just a few days old in 1960. When he became a parent himself, Steel decided the time was right to launch a search for his own mother and father. Little did he know that this would propel him into a world of playboy capitalists, backgammon champions and the royal family. As he admitted in one recent interview, ‘it seems so far-fetched. But I promise you, every word is true; I haven't even slightly exaggerated a detail for comic effect.’
3. He likes a good ramble for comedic purposes
When most comedians visit a town to perform, they usually like to throw in a couple of local references to make the audience feel special before launching into their prepared material. Not so Mark Steel who, for his acclaimed In Town shows, quite simply writes an entire set based around whatever place he finds himself in on that night. A whole lot of reading will be involved in this process, but he always enjoys a good old walkabout to take in its history and colour in order to spark off some comedy.
4. There might be more talented Steels to come
His 19-year-old son Elliot has started down the road of a career in stand-up, while Eloise (15) has shown some ability in the musical theatre field. While expressing pride in their nascent achievements, papa Steel has stated that he certainly won’t be pushing them into the world of showbusiness.
5. Sport remains a big love of his life
Cricket and football are his main leisure pursuits of choice, but he did show up at a boxing match recently to shout encouragement at his son, Elliot. Yes, the same Elliot who is the stand-up comedian. You guessed it, this was an exclusively all-comedians boxing affair with Steel Jr winning his bout on points.
Mark Steel: Who Do I Think I Am is on tour until Friday 3 June.