Julian Clary, the lord of laughter

Daily Echo: n Julian is at The Nuffield on Sunday. Tickets: 023 8067 1771 or visit nuffield theatre.co.uk n Julian is at The Nuffield on Sunday. Tickets: 023 8067 1771 or visit nuffield theatre.co.uk

“I’M loving being over 50. I’m a much happier person now. I get more content with every decade.”

Julian is relaxing in his dressing room before a show in Newbury. Dressed casually in a green T-shirt and tattered jeans before he dons his fabulous stage outfit, he could pass for a decade and a half younger.

Now he has turned hitting 50 into a major theme in his new live show, Lord of the Mince.

The title, he jokes, stems from the fact that, “I have done for mincing what Michael Flatley did for dancing.”

He is loving touring the show.

“At first, I thought: ‘Do I want to tour at my age? Will anyone turn up? Am I past it?’ But as soon as I got the show on the road, all those doubts evaporated.

“It’s how I started in comedy. I get very playful on stage, which makes it great fun. It’s a very silly show – I’ve always liked the lighter, more trivial side of life.”

Never more than a minute away from the next joke, Julian deadpans that the one disappointing aspect of his 50th birthday last year was that he was not accorded loads of TV retrospectives. “I was expecting all sorts of TV tributes like Bruce Forsyth or Stephen Fry, but I got nothing,” he says with a mock-pout. “I suppose I’m not a national treasure. I’m a national trinket.”

The comic goes on to reflect on the joys of reaching the Big 5-0. “I was nervous before hitting 50 – it always sounded like a comedy age. But in fact, it’s great being 50. Once you’ve got all the cards, you soon get used to it! The great thing is, at this age you can do what you want. You’re so far away from your 20s and all those great expectations. You have to embrace 50 – what’s the alternative?”

The comic, who first made his name 20 years ago with his own C4 series, Sticky Moments with Julian Clary, continues: “As I get older, I’m more and more fearless. I now have this feeling of being able to do all these different things. I’m so relaxed about life, I’m really enjoying that sense of liberation.”

That sense encouraged Julian to take part in Strictly Come Dancing and the arena tour – more great subject matter for Lord of the Mince.

“I’ve never had a career plan. Things have just come along and taken on a life of their own. I never had a plan to take up ballroom dancing at the age of 47.

“It’s given my career a great boost – it’s been a real shot in the arm. I couldn’t have foreseen the reaction, but it introduced me to a whole new audience and brought out my fearlessness. I could never have predicted that I would be able to dance, but Strictly has opened up a lot of new possibilities for me.

“I’m never going to play an arena again and get laughs out of ten thousand people so the arena tour was thrilling. My intention from the start was to get revenge for all the nasty things the judges said about me on TV. So if Craig Revel Horwood called me, ‘limp, languid and lacklustre’, I’d make some reference to Australian drag queens and what happens if you overdose on Botox. As he’d say, it’s just like panto, and he’s been cast as the panto villain.”

The comic, who began as an act called The Joan Collins Fan Club, in the company of his beloved Fanny the Wonder Dog, has over many years on stage built up a great relationship with his audience. “That rapport is still there,” declares Julian.

“So many people come up to me after the show and say they saw me in a little room above a pub 20-odd years ago with Fanny. The other day someone said, ‘you pulled me on stage in 1981 – do you remember that?’ That history gives me a great bond with the audience.”

With a smile Julian concludes: “I have nothing left to prove. Now I just want to entertain and make people laugh. I think that’s what I was put on Earth for!”

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