Sue Perkins – 'It's a big, technicolour puke of thoughts'
- Brian Donaldson
- 8 February 2017
Comedian takes Live! In Spectacles on tour
She may have started her career as one half of character comedy duo Mel & Sue (their MTV-style Euro VJs is still fondly recalled in some quarters), but Sue Perkins has been more recently renowned for her work on The Great British Bake Off and being falsely linked to the Top Gear hosting job. As she prepares to go solo for her Live! In Spectacles tour, we hear how she intends to deal with a live audience and how a Cambodian hermit makes his way into her show
So, why are you hitting the road here and now?
Having spent the last seven years crammed into a tellybox shouting the word 'BAKE!', I think it's high time I got out, and stretched my legs on the UK stage. And it's a good time to look back on my life so far. I fully intend to live to the age of 92, so this is half-time. Essentially this tour is handing out the orange segments.
Is the show a part book-tour, part stand-up show?
Writing a memoir begins a process that doesn't necessarily end with publication. You begin to think about family life and stories and relationships, and those are ongoing. Once the book was published, I thought, 'there is so much more still to say without necessarily writing another book. Why not animate the book with a live tour?' It's like a companion volume, I guess. A big, technicolour puke of thoughts. Perhaps I should put that on the poster …
What will you most look forward to in terms of a live solo performance?
A gig is a two-way street. It's not about me broadcasting. It's not, 'this is what I've got to say about this'. It's as much about how people respond to the material. My memoir is a story of family and childhood, and everyone has had one of those. Mine is not the definitive version of childhood, but it's a great way to start a conversation. I love it when someone says, 'it's weird, I lived next to an electricity substation for 20 years as well'. Or, 'we had a cat that dragged our turkey across the room at Christmas and we had to eat boiled eggs for our lunch instead'. The book is a recorded history of my life so far, but the audience adds so much on top of that. It's important to have that double act thing going on with them.
So, what subjects will you be covering in the show?
Births, deaths, lemon drizzle and getting fondled by a Cambodian hermit. I'll talk a lot about the catastrophising that went on in my family. There was always a sense that something awful, that imminent doom, was around the corner. It came from my mum: she's a worrier. Everything was a potential trip to A&E!
Why do you think The Great British Bake Off has proved so popular?
I think the chemistry between the four of us – Mary, Paul, Mel and I – works so well. We're all big kids at heart. We're all very playful. We don't approach it as a job. We approach it as a day out at a country fair! But the real reason why the show is so successful is the 12 people who come to bake every year. Although we four have received a lot of attention, I really do believe that the bakers are where the magic is.
Sue Perkins: Live! In Spectacles is on tour from Sat 11 Feb–Wed 22 Mar.