Stand-up comes home for Frank Skinner. After half a lifetime on television and a decade on the radio, the British comedian is returning to his natural habitat. Next month, Skinner's Showbiz, a 100-day one-man tour, will launch its first real solo shows in five years. And in his opinion, the only real competition out there is … Madonna.
Of course he's kidding.
"We're going to fight for the bridal suite at the Nottingham Holiday Inn," chuckles Skinner, when he learns that his epic trip to the UK will coincide with Madonna's much anticipated Madame X project.
After half a lifetime on TV and a decade on the radio, Frank Skinner (top) will start Showbiz next month, a 100-day one-man tour – his first real solo show in five years
"I actually met Madonna once in a movie theater in Belsize Park," he says in his airy West Bromwich Brogue. "Unfortunately, I thought she was the TV presenter Dani Behr and gave her the familiar thumbs up. Madonna didn't look pleased. It was dark in my defense. "
Skinner recalls that he also witnessed Madonna's theatrical debut in David Mamet's 1988 play Speed-the-plow.
"I was at a concert with her and she was this amazing, all-conquering super woman," he recalls. "But when she saw her in the theater, she was so frail, she didn't have an actor's voice and was really overwhelmed." There were moments during her performance, especially one when she answered a phone before the bell rang, when I almost shrugged my shoulders, that was the writhing. "
Skinner plays it to laugh. Like Madonna, his own trip to the theater, although as a writer, was not a complete success. His 2018 game Nina has news received terrible reviews. "Tired," cried the critics, "the end couldn't come soon enough."
Skinner has been with his partner, talent agent Cath Mason (top at Skinner 2008), 50, for 17 years and reports that she has rejected his marriage proposals four times
"It was absolutely planned," Skinner, 62, waves in the garden of a pub in Hampstead, just around the corner from his house. “Really devastating reviews. I felt like people on the street were looking at me and laughing inside – it was really terrible, but despite all the pain, lessons were learned. "
So Skinner is back to what he does best – tell gags and think on his feet. But the once dirty funny man cleaned up his act. "People used to say," He only talks about sex, "Skinner admits," but it was such a driving force in my life at the time that it was pretty much everything I thought about. "
His sex drive, he now likes to say, is more of an overgrown footpath.
Skinner has been with his partner, talent agent Cath Mason, 50, for 17 years and reports that she has rejected his marriage proposals four times because "she is convinced that we would be a fool".
He regularly suggests that the relationship is volatile, and they have occasionally taken advice from couples, but at the core there is solidity.
In 2008, the entertainer, now valued at £ 11 million, suffered a devastating financial blow due to poor investment advice and "lost all my savings, millions".
"I was lied to and was very angry about it," he says evenly. “I managed to get the most money back five years later, but it was a particularly harrowing time.
"But the only nice thing about it was when I told Cath," he wonders. She just said: "We can always move into a smaller house. You can still do the clubs if you have to. "
"I'm still thinking about it. I was amazed at how little she worried because it was a lot of money.
"In general, she doesn't like me to be the one with a problem," he grins. "There is no shelf space for my expenses, but that really blew me away."
Her son Buzz Cody, named after the astronaut Buzz Aldrin (whom Skinner was once allowed to present on stage with the words "Caution, there is only one small step"), is already following in his father's footsteps.
"He'll be seven next month and he's the only person in the world I'm happy to say he's funnier than I am," says Skinner, exuding fatherly pride. “Buzz is a born comedian with great timing and good performance. He does word games, visual gags, the lot. If he were a professional comedian and more successful than me, I would be happy. That is love. "
In Skinner's new show, the comedian will "break a previously sacrosanct barrier" by talking about his son. "But I won't say anything cruel," he warns. “It's so stupid when comics belittle their children in the misguided belief that it makes them look cool. You can be funny about your kids without being rude. "
Skinner remains a thoughtful and responsible parent. He hasn't touched alcohol since 1986 when he used willpower to give up a heavy drinking habit, and he's leaving social functions before 9:30 p.m. these days after arriving "when the chips are put in bowls".
"I'm not on a moral crusade," he adds. "But there are some people, especially on TV, who really only want to take cocaine in a private member club." And everything else is a labyrinth through which they must come to achieve this. I didn't do any of that, all I had was work. "
He admits that when the mainstream's recognition finally came in the mid-1990s, he became "a bit of an idiot".
"Fame changes you and I assume I stopped biting my lip for a while," he says with a hint of regret. "I started to point out that people weren't doing their job properly. I didn't move anyone to tears, but people certainly thought I was a complete fool.
"Now I'm tired of people who have become famous, have done well, have made money and then pretend it didn't happen and they haven't changed because it changed everything massively."
The dazzling title of his tour could suggest that Skinner is enjoying the celebrity high-life, but he only has "two showbiz friends: Adrian Chiles and David Baddiel, and regarding the celebrity we're all on our fingernails, let's be honest". .
Skinner went through a phase of trying to find famous friends, first with the artist Tracey Emin and also with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
But after a few dinners and a bowling evening with the archbishop, the new friendships disappeared. "I never write back," Skinner shrugs. "I'm just not that pushy, I think."
He's also not a typically lavish celebrity. "My accountant says I'm economical," he blinks. Skinner's greatest pleasure is lingering in antique stores where he "spends almost eight pounds on a single product".
"I don't want a Lamborghini," he mocks. "Even if I got one, I would be like one of those who won the speedboat." Bullseye and got it in Exchange & Mart within 48 hours. “But the entertainment industry and the associated rumor mill continue to amuse him.
"This is my juiciest piece of showbiz gossip," Skinner decides. "I was in Elton John's villa in Nice for a children's birthday party. We, the adults, have started to play this game in which you put yellow sticky notes with the name of a famous person on each other's forehead and they have to guess , who they are.
Elton had Bobby Crush, the extravagant pianist of the seventies, on what turned out to be, and I found out that I had Ian Krankie (male half of the Scottish comedy duo The Krankies) on mine. Because of me.
"We talked about games and Elton said he played charades with Robert De Niro and made an exception to Elton and David Furnish who called him Roberta because they like to give everyone a feminine name." He was angry.
"But then he said that Bob Dylan was without a doubt the worst person he had ever played charades with!" For me, that is priceless information, ”Skinner giggles. "I love Bob Dylan so much. I will cry when this man dies. "
This causes Skinner, a practicing Catholic, to think about how his own death could be received. "Will there be any news at all?" He thinks. "Maybe they took it as a carefree object before the weather."
With this morbidly amusing thought, he leaves us with a spectacular piece of showbiz name.
"I was on a flight with the playwright Tom Stoppard and there was a loud, inexplicable bang, so I asked him:" If this plane crashed, Tom, which of us would have had the highest settlement, me or you? "He said," I think it would depend on the newspaper. "’
Skinner doubles for joy and strikes her thighs delightfully. "Wonderful," he shouts. "And so true."
Frank Skinner will perform at Leicester Square Theater from June 3rd to July 4th, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from July 31st to August 18th and across the UK from September 12th to December 11th. See frankskinnerlive.com
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