More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond when comedy bites. Here’s Hutch’s List No 3, from Gazette and Herald

Deaf comedian Steve Day: Playing on the Hilarity Bites bill at Milton Rooms, Malton

A DEAF comedian and history-charting musicians, a classic thriller and a feminist fairytale, a community choir festival and a prog-rock legend make Charles Hutchinson’s list of upcoming cultural highlights.

Ryedale comedy gig of the week: Hilarity Bites Comedy Club, Steve Day, Ashley Frieze and Carl Jones, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday (23/02/2024), 8pm

THE first Hilarity Bites bill of 2024 will be headlined by Steve Day, who describes himself as “Britain’s only deaf comedian and if there are any others he hasn’t heard them”! Actually, a couple of others have started since he wrote that joke, but it is only a joke after all.

On the bill too are guitar-toting funny man Ashley Frieze, with his charming, daft and warm brand of music-infused stand-up, and Midlands storytelling comedian Carl Jones, a football fanatic who interviews comedy cohorts for his ​Premier League nostalgia podcast When Football Began Again. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews: 600 years of music crammed into 90 minutes at Pocklington Arts Centre

Musical tour of the week: Green Matthews: A Brief History Of Music, Pocklington Arts Centre, Friday, 8pm

STRING player Chris Green and woodwind player Sophie Matthews take in 600 years of musical history in 90 minutes, spanning the Middle Ages to the 20th century in a whistle-stop tour of Western music.

Featuring long-forgotten songs, tunes and jokes too, Green and Matthews paint a vibrant and vivid picture of our musical DNA, mixing the familiar and the obscure, the raucous and the reflective and the courtly and the commonplace. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Skylights: Lighting up York Barbican in November

Gig announcement of the week: Skylights, York Barbican, November 2

YORK band Skylights will play their biggest home-city show yet this autumn, with tickets going on sale on Friday at 10am at ticketmaster.co.uk in a week when latest release Time To Let Things Go has risen to number two in the Official Vinyl Singles Chart.

Guitarist Turnbull Smith says: ‘We’re absolutely over the moon to be headlining the biggest venue in our home city of York, the Barbican. It’s always been a dream of ours to play here, so to headline will be the perfect way to finish what’s going to be a great year. Thanks to everyone for the support. It means the world and we’ll see you all there.”

Rick Wakeman: Return Of The Caped Crusader at York Barbican

Catch him while you can: Rick Wakeman, Return Of The Caped Crusader, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.30pm

PROG-ROCK icon and Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, 76, is to call time on his one-man shows to concentrate on composing, recording and collaborating, but not before playing York. “I always planned to stop touring by my 77th birthday,” he says. “For those of you who wish to send me a card, it’s 18th May!”

Saturday’s show opens with Wakeman’s new arrangements of Yes material for band and vocalists, followed after the interval by his epic work Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Box office for returns only: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jessa Liversidge: Directing Easingwold Community Singers’ performance at the York Community Choir Festival

Choirs galore: York Community Choir Festival 2024, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 25, 6pm; February 26 to March 1, 7.30pm; March 2, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

THE 8th York Community Choir Festival spreads 31 choirs across eight concerts over six days at the JoRo. On the opening evening, Easingwold Community Singers will be premiering director Jessa Liversidge’s arrangement of The Secret Of Happiness  from the American musical Daddy Long Legs, with permission of composer and lyricist Paul Gordon.

Choirs range from York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir to The Rolling Tones, Sounds Fun Singers to York Military Wives Choir, Selby Youth Choir to Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus. Six choirs from Huntington School perform next Friday, taking up all the first-half programme. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Todd Boyce, left, and Neil McDermott in Sleuth, on tour at Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Jack Merriman

Thriller of the week: Sleuth, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday

TODD Boyce, best known for playing Coronation Street’s notorious baddie Stephen Reid, will be joined by EastEnders soap star Neil McDermott in Anthony Shaffer’s dark psychological thriller about thrillers, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.

What happens? A young man arrives at the impressive home of a famous mystery writer, only to be unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Emma Rice: Writer-director of Wise Children’s Blue Beard, playing York Theatre Royal from next Tuesday

Play of the week: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Blue Beard, York Theatre Royal, February 27 to March 9, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

BLUE Beard meets his match when his young bride discovers his dark and murderous secret. She summons all her rage, all her smarts and all her sisters to bring the curtain down on his tyrannous reign as writer-director Emma Rice brings her own brand of theatrical wonder to this beguiling, disturbing tale.

Applying Rice’s signature sleight of hand, Blue Beard explores curiosity and consent, violence and vengeance, all through an intoxicating lens of music, wit and tender truth. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rob Auton: Star of The Rob Auton Show, full of firsts, from memories to girlfriends to jobs

Comedy gig(s) of the week: Rob Auton, The Rob Auton Show, Burning Duck Comedy Club, The Crescent, York, February 28, 7.30pm; Mortimer Suite, Hull City Hall, February 29, 7.30pm; The Wardrobe, Leeds, March 1, 7.30pm

ROB Auton, Pocklington-raised stand-up comedian, writer, podcaster, actor, illustrator and former Glastonbury festival poet-in-residence, returns north from London with his self-titled tenth themed solo show.

After the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, Auton turns the spotlight on himself, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis. Box office: York, thecrescentyork.seetickets.com; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk; Leeds, brudenellsocialclub.seetickets.com.

Elio Pace to showcase The Billy Joel Songbook in York, Sheffield and Hull gigs

Elio Pace at the piano performing The Billy Joel Songbook

ELIO Pace and his band will present “the greatest love letter ever to the genius that is Billy Joel” at York Barbican on March 27 2024.

Further Yorkshire performances of The Billy Joel Songbook tribute show are booked into Sheffield City Hall for March 26 and Hull City Hall for April 4 on the 18-date British and Irish tour.

Tour tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday at eliopace.com/tours; York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Sheffield, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk or 0114 256 5593; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk or 01482 300306.

Devised by piano-playing Southampton singer-songwriter, producer and arranger Pace and Matt Daniel-Baker, this homage rounds up more than 30 of Joel’s songs, including The Longest Time, She’s Always A Woman, An Innocent Man, Uptown Girl, Tell Her About It, The River Of Dreams, We Didn’t Start The Fire and Piano Man.

After two sold-out tours, Pace enthuses about next year’s return: “We all get such a buzz touring this show so we absolutely cannot wait to get back out on the road. We have an amazing tour in place, returning to theatres while also visiting some for the first time, and to be starting in my hometown and then ending in London’s West End is going to be pretty incredible.

“The music of Billy Joel is timeless. He is a genius composer and, in my humble opinion, the greatest singer/songwriter of all time. I really do feel humbled that so many people want to see us perform his music.

“We can’t wait to celebrate this incredible music once again and we’ll now look forward to travelling across the country next spring.”

In 2010 Pace was the musical director for BBC Radio 2’s Weekend Wogan, playing as the featured artist on all 35 shows broadcast that year.

He has performed with Brian May, Huey Lewis, Glen Campbell, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Lulu, Mike Rutherford, Don McLean, Tom Chaplin, Debbie Reynolds and Martha Reeves.

His performing skills have taken him to Elstree Studios, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, BBC Radio 2’s Elvis Forever, Proms In The Park, The Bitter End in New York and BBC Radio Theatre in London.

In 2013 and 2014 he was invited to “‘fill Billy Joel’s shoes” by appearing in five reunion concerts in the United States with Joel’s original 1971-72 touring band, whereupon Pace embarked on the debut tour of The Billy Joel Songbook.

In 2018 he released the double CD and DVD The Billy Joel Songbook Live; in June 2019 his concert film of The Billy Joel Songbook Live won an award at the 17th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best Overall Long Form Music Video in New York City.

In 2019 he released his second live double CD album and DVD within a year, Elio Pace Presents Elvis Presley: The World Premiere, 16 August 2017.

Did you know?

ELIO Pace featured in Sky Sports’ coverage of the 2015 Ashes cricket series between England and Australia with two specially re-written versions of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire.

Did you know too?

ELIO Pace has appeared on the BBC children’s show ZingZillas as “the greatest boogie woogie player in the land”, turning him into a household name…“well, at least to every CBeebies-loving under five-year-old and their parents”.

Seven Drunken Nights confirmed for York matinee and evening gig among six Yorkshire dates on biggest tour in 2024

Seven Drunken Nights – The Story Of The Dubliners: Matinee and evening performances at Grand Opera House, York next March

SEVEN Drunken Nights – The Story Of The Dubliners will return to Grand Opera House, York for two performances on March 10 2024.

In its sixth year, after a Scandinavian tour, the celebration of the Irish music of Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Barney McKenna, John Sheahan, Ciaran Bourke and Jim McCann will be on the road for 79 British and Irish dates.

Further Yorkshire performances on the biggest ever Seven Drunken Nights tour will be at Sheffield City Hall on March 20, Cast, Doncaster, March 21 and 22, Bridlington Spa, April 6, St George’s Hall, Bradford, April 12, and Hull City Hall, May 15.

Much more than a jukebox musical celebration of The Dubliners, the show is steered by its writer and director Ged Graham, whose narration charts the band’s path from their first gig at legendary Dublin pub O’Donoghue’s in 1962.  The Irish Rover, The Leaving Of Liverpool, Belle Of Belfast City, Dirty Old Town, The Banks Of The Rose, Star Of The County Down and The Town I Love So Well and many more Irish favourites will be performed by Graham’s cast of musicians and singers, who last filled the Grand Opera House on April 23 this spring.

Graham is delighted to have received the backing of the families of The Dubliners. “It was very nerve-racking meeting their relatives, as I didn’t know how they would react,” he says. “But meeting Luke Kelly’s brother, Paddy, early on during the first tour was just brilliant.

“He and his family have been so supportive of the show. Likewise, Barney McKenna’s sister came to see the show when we toured Ireland and was very complimentary of how we told the story. Their support means so much to everyone involved with the show.”

In addition to glowing reviews, Seven Drunken Nights has also received praise from the families of The Dubliners. Ged Graham said, “It was very nerve-racking meeting relatives of The Dubliners, as I didn’t know how they would react. But meeting Luke Kelly’s brother, Paddy, early on during the first tour was just brilliant. He and his family have been so supportive of the show.

Likewise, Barney McKenna’s sister came to see the show when we toured Ireland and was very complimentary of how we told the story. Their support means so much to everyone involved with the show.”

Looking ahead, Seven Drunken Nights is set for its record year internationally, performing nearly 300 shows during 42 weeks on the road.

The show’s popularity has been a life-changing experience for Graham, who says: “I can’t quite believe it. Seven Drunken Nights seems to have touched so many people who have become real fans of the show, reigniting their love of The Dubliners.

“It’s had a massive impact on my life, giving me the confidence to write more and be involved in many other productions, including the runaway success Fairytale Of New York. It truly is a great privilege to bring the music of The Dubliners to the stage every night and keep their legacy alive.”

York tickets for the March 10 matinee and evening shows are on sale at atgtickets.com/york. Tickets for all venues on the 2024 tour can be booked at sevendrunkennights.com.

Leigh Francis to play six Yorkshire gigs on debut 2024 tour My First Time. Where?

Leigh Francis: Debut tour with multiple masks

LEEDS comic Leigh Francis, creator of Keith Lemon and Bo’ Selecta, plays York Barbican on March 20 2024 on his debut tour, My First Time.

The BAFTA Award-winning character comedian, 50, has confirmed five more Yorkshire gigs on next spring’s travels, accounting for one third of the 18 dates: Sheffield City Hall, March 15; Halifax Victoria Theatre, March 16; Hull City Hall, March 22; Bradford St George’s Hall, March 23, and a home-city finale at Leeds Grand Theatre, April 6.

Joining Francis as he “brings back all the fun I’ve had over the 00s up to present day” will be his myriad television characters, from Keith Lemon, Bear and Avid Merrion to ‘David Dickinson’, ‘Ant and Dec’ and Myrtle, taking to the stage for the first time in a series of sketches. Expect audience interaction too.

“Hey, really exciting news! Well, exciting for me!” says Francis. “I hope it’s exciting for you! Or at least provokes some sort of interest! I mean, just look how many exclamation marks there is in this quote! It’s definitely news with exciting intent! 

“So, what is this exciting news? I’m doing my first ever tour! Never done one before. It’s gonna have masks in it! The Bear, Avid Merrion, Amanda Holden’s Gran, not her actual gran but me playing her.”

Francis goes on: “I’ll also be playing Keith Lemon. I look just like him! It’s me doing all the characters I do that hopefully have the intent to provoke hilarity! So many exclamation marks, and the word ‘intent’ and ‘provoke’ twice! I’m excited!

“Come see me being other people live for the first time! It’ll be your first time and my first time! Hence the title of the tour, My First Time! (There’s another exclamation mark). How exciting!”

Tour tickets go on sale from 10am on Friday at gigsandtours.com and ticketmaster.co.uk; York, yorkbarbican.co.uk

Que sera, Sara, whatever will be will be for comedian, writer, TV presenter and mum Pascoe in pursuit of defining Success

“The rule should be, if the audience stops laughing, you have to try something different,” says Sara Pascoe. That’s the beauty of comedy: it’s not pressure, it’s liberating”

HOW does comedian, actor, playwright, author, TV presenter and new mum Sara Pascoe quantify success?

She seeks to provide the answer in her biggest tour yet, Success Story, whose 50 dates in two blocks from November 10 to December 3 2022 and January 26 to April 22 next year take in four Yorkshire gigs: York Barbican on November 24 (7.30pm); Sheffield Octagon, the next night; Hull City Hall, March 17, and Harrogate Royal Hall, April 21.

She is delighted to be returning to the road for the first time since her LadsLadsLads tour of 2018-2019, the one where she contemplated the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy, exploring love, sex and doing both alone.  ­

This time, expect “name-dropping, personal stories and anecdotes,” says Sara, who will deliver jokes about status, celebrities, plus her new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures.

“What I want to explore is how do we define success and when do we define it. Does it change with age? Do we only want things we can’t have? When we attain our goals, do we move the goal posts and become unsatisfied with what we’ve got and want something else instead?

“I’m 41 now and it’s a reflective time; it feels like a very adult age. Looking back on my life to when I was 14, I really wanted to be on television. That’s where I work now but is it what I imagined it to be?”

The trigger for Success Story were her experiences when undergoing IVF after a miscarriage. “When I was going through that with my partner [Australian comedian  Steen Raskopoulos], they kept talking about it in terms of success,” says Sara, who became a mum on Valentine’s Day this year at the age of 40.

“I started thinking about success, what I wanted as a child, and then thinking about what makes you happy, or if you’ve set out on a certain path that makes you unhappy, should you do something else?”

“If you’ve set out on a certain path that makes you unhappy, should you do something else?” ponders Sara Pascoe in Success Story

Deciding she wanted to be famous at 14, Dagenham-born Sara would go on to audition for Barrymore, scare Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns and ruin Hugh Grant’s birthday, but she would also notch a decade in stand-up comedy and pen the feminist Animal: The Autobiography Of A Female Body in 2016 and her exploration of sex through the medium of evolutionary psychology, sex work, and the role of money in modern heterosexual relationships in Sex Power Money in 2019, spawning an accompanying podcast.

Her “big, bold and funny” stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice played York Theatre Royal in October 2017 and she wrote and starred in the October 2020 sitcom Out Of Her Mind on BBC Two. She has presented television shows too, hosting Comedians Giving Lectures on Dave, Guessable on Comedy Central, BBC Two’s Last Woman On Earth and this year’s BBC One series of The Great British Sewing Bee.

“What quite often happens with stand-up comedy, it doesn’t take up a lot of your time, when it’s your main job. You have a lot of time on your hands, when that main job only takes up an evening five times a week.

“You can do other things, like writing a book, where they aren’t looking for gags, whereas you can’t go half an hour without a joke in a stand-up show,” says Sara.

Hence her diversification. “It’s more about thinking, ‘oh, that would be good to have a go at that’, rather than worrying about being found out at one thing,” she reasons.

How do you judge success in comedy? “I’ve noted that some people, once they get to the top, they then plateau, and that can be hard, as not everyone can be a stadium comic,” says Sara.

She enjoys the expectation of having to come up with fresh material for every new tour, whereas the success of a band’s gig is often judged on which hits they played, which they chose to leave out.

“It’s horrible when a gig becomes dead behind the eyes,” says Sara, outlining what to avoid when seeking comedy success

“That’s the added benefit of doing comedy. I was thinking how boring it must be to always have to play songs from 20 years ago when the bands probably hate them by now, whereas comedians have to move on, just as people do when they can’t keep talking about a divorce or an old girlfriend,” says Sara, who switched from the repetition of performing theatre to the freshly squeezed juice of comedy.

“You’re quite often in a different place by the end of a tour and your set reflects that. It’s horrible when a gig becomes dead behind the eyes.

“I remember being told very early in my career how Bill Bailey always had five minutes of new material each night, working it into shape for the next tour, and it’s true that if you try out new bits after the interval, you’re never dead behind the eyes.”

Sara continues: “The rule should be, if the audience stops laughing, you have to try something different. That’s the beauty of comedy: it’s not pressure, it’s liberating. If you have three nights in a row where people aren’t connecting, throw that material in the bin. Actors can’t do that!

“At the end of a show, you don’t want a crowd going ‘yeah, that was fine’. You want them to say, ‘oh god, do you remember that bit?’. You want an audience to be engaged in what you’re saying.”

At the time of this phone interview, Sara was busy writing a book and filming the latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee. She could reveal that those shows would be broadcast on BBC One next spring; she could say rather less, however, about her next venture into print.

“We’ve not done a proper release yet,” she says. “Put something vague… ‘I’m moving into fiction’. It’s a chance to make some things up for a change.” Watch this space.

Tickets for Sara Pascoe’s Success Story tour are on sale at sarapascoe.co.uk/sara-on-tour; for York Barbican at yorkbarbican.co.uk; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Dream on! Gabrielle confirms York Barbican return on 30 Years Of Dreaming 2023 tour

In her Dreams: Gabrielle’s 30 Years Of Dreaming Tour heads for York, Hull and Halifax in 2023

SOUL queen Gabrielle will play York Barbican on October 21 next year on her 30 Years Of Dreaming Tour 2023.

Next autumn’s 18-date travels will mark the 30th anniversary of the Hackney singer-songwriter’s “era-defining” chart-topping debut single, Dreams, in a career-spanning set likely to feature Rise, Out Of Reach, Sunshine, Give Me A Little More Time, Going Nowhere, When A Woman and Don’t Need The Sun To Shine (To Make Me Smile).

“Going on tour to celebrate 30 years of Dreams is just amazing,” says Gabrielle (full name Louise Gabrielle Bobb, by the way). “I can’t wait to party with everyone and celebrate the record that launched my career three decades ago! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun.”

Gabrielle, who will turn 53 on July 19, last performed at York Barbican on November 10 2021 on her rearranged Rise Again Tour after releasing her seventh studio album, the covers’ set Do It Again, in March last year. She will return to York on September 24 to play the main stage at the Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta 2022 on Knavesmire, next to York Racecourse.

Running from September 23 to 25, the festival will feature more than 50 hot air balloons, including a ship balloon from Europe and new character balloons; live music by Scouting For Girls, Andy And The Odd Socks, fronted by CBeebies’ Andy Day, and York party band Huge, and a Friday night funk and soul DJ set by Craig Charles.

Look out too for a daredevil stunt show; birds of prey displays, the world’s largest inflatable assault course; York’s largest funfair and a Sunday evening firework display finale.

Meanwhile, back to Gabrielle, who will be Adele’s special guest at her sold-out BST Hyde Park concerts in London on July 1 and 2. Adele personally chose Gabrielle for both shows, having revealed on BBC1’s The Graham Norton Show in February that her debut live public performance was a rendition of Gabrielle’s 1999 number one, Rise.

“I’m so thrilled and proud to be part of what will be an incredible day, headlined by an artist I love and adore.,” says Gabrielle. “Adele is a phenomenal singer-songwriter and it is an honour to be asked to join her at British Summer Time”. In turn, Adele has called Gabrielle “one of my favourite artists of all time, who I’ve loved since I was four!”

Tickets for Gabrielle’s 30 Years Of Dreaming Tour 2023 date at York Barbican will go on general sale from 10am on July 8 at yorkbarbican.co.uk, gigsandtours.com, ticketmaster.co.uk and gabrielle.co.uk. Two further Yorkshire dates to note are: Hull City Hall on October 12 and Halifax Victoria Theatre on October 14.

The poster for Gabrielle’s 30 Years Of Dreaming 2023 Tour

What amounts to success for comedian Sara Pascoe? It’s time to reflect on tour

In pursuit of success: Sara Pascoe in her new tour show

HOW does comedian, actor, playwright, author, podcaster and TV presenter Sara Pascoe quantify success?

She will seek to provide the answer in her biggest tour yet, Success Story, whose 50 dates in two blocks from November 10 to December 3 2022 and January 26 to April 22 next year will take in four Yorkshire gigs: York Barbican on November 24; Sheffield Octagon, November 25; Hull City Hall, March 17, and Harrogate Royal Hall, April 21.

Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures, she forewarns.

“What I want to explore is how do we define success and when do we define it,” she says. “Does it change with age; do we only want things we can’t have? When we attain our goals, do we move the goal posts and become unsatisfied with what we’ve got and want something else instead?

“I’m 41 now and it’s a reflective time; it feels like a very adult age. Looking back on my life to when I was 14, I really wanted to be on television. That’s where I work now but is it what I imagined it to be?”

Deciding she wanted to be famous at 14, Dagenham-born Sara would go on to audition for Barrymore, scare Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns and ruin Hugh Grant’s birthday, but she would also notch a decade in stand-up comedy and pen the feminist Animal: The Autobiography Of A Female Body in 2016 and her exploration of sex through the medium of evolutionary psychology, sex work, and the role of money in modern heterosexual relationships in Sex Power Money in 2019, spawning an accompanying podcast.

Her “big, bold and funny” stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice played York Theatre Royal in October 2017 and she wrote and starred in the October 2020 sitcom Out Of Her Mind on BBC Two. She has presented television shows too, hosting Comedians Giving Lectures on Dave, Guessable on Comedy Central,  BBC Two’s Last Woman On Earth and this year’s BBC One series of The Great British Sewing Bee.

“What I want to explore is how do we define success and when do we define it,” says Sara Pascoe

For all those diverse achievements, she underwent a fraught personal chapter that would be deemed contrary to that vision of success. “I was having years of infertility and when we were going through IVF, the word ‘success’ was used a lot about the process,” says Sara, (who does now have a beautiful baby son).

“So, I wanted to contrast that with these other things that are seen as representing successful lives, such as finding someone we love and having a family. There are a lot of areas being covered.”

If this sounds a tad heavy, as a counterbalance, Sara will reach for her raft of daft stories to flesh out her central thesis. Such as the time she terrified Pete Burns, the late figurehead of 1980s’chart-toppers Dead Or Alive and later reality TV star.

“He did a reality show where he was looking for a PA and I was told I would get £50 in cash in an envelope if I kept accosting him in the street. So, outside a coffee shop in Soho, I had to pretend to be a superfan and hug and kiss him and say how much I loved him and see how all these potential Pas would deal with this crazy, neurotic fangirl,” she recalls.

“At the end of that day, he said that I scared him, which just showed how good my acting was. That show is sometimes repeated on an MTV channel, and I’ll get a text or a tweet saying, ‘oh my god, I had no idea you were such a Pete Burns fan’.”

TV exposure on Comedians Giving Lectures and The Great British Sewing Bee has lifted Sara’s profile and given her a fresh perspective on her life in comedy. “Comedians Giving Lectures can be like hosting a stand-up show, and I love it because these very high-status experienced comics are often doing brand new material because they’ve written a lecture for the TV show. For me, it feels like a gig rather than a TV programme,” she says.

“No-one likes to do a mediocre gig, or worse, a flat gig,” says Success-driven Sara

“In Sewing Bee, I occasionally write jokes for the links, but you’re doing a joke for eight people who are really thinking about sewing; they’re not thinking about your pun on the wrap dress.”

Her Success Story travels are still more than five months away, but especially after the mothballing impact of the pandemic lockdowns, Sara is desperate to return to the road for the first time since her LadsLadsLads tour of 2018-2019 – the one where she contemplated the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy, exploring love, sex and doing both alone.  ­

“Touring can be tiring but when you’re in the dressing room before a show and you hear the hubbub of a busy room, you feel very lucky that people will come and see you at all, never mind in their hundreds or thousands,” she says.

“There’s a description in Alan Davies’s book about how walking out on stage as a comedian is the closest you can get to being a toddler taking your first steps towards your excited parents. That’s the feeling comedians are trying to recreate by getting this huge round of applause from people who like you and are pleased you are there. That’s the side of it that’s addictive and compulsive.”

Sara will not let her own success story go to her head, instead always striving to raise the bar for her comedy hit-rate.  “No-one likes to do a mediocre gig, or worse, a flat gig,” she says. “Especially when you’ve earned an audience from TV work, the idea that they might come to see you for the first time and leave disappointed really keeps you going.

“At the end of a show, you don’t want a crowd going ‘yeah, that was fine’. You want them to say ‘oh god, do you remember that bit?’ You want an audience to be engaged in what you’re saying.”

Tickets for Sara Pascoe’s Success Story tour are on sale at sarapascoe.co.uk/sara-on-tour; for York Barbican at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Sara Pascoe to examine what it is to be successful in tour show at York Barbican

Success Story-teller: Sara Pascoe

COMEDIAN Sara Pascoe will play York Barbican on November 24 on her 50-date Success Story tour.

Further Yorkshire performances will follow at Sheffield Octagon on November 25, Hull City Hall on March 17 2023 and Harrogate Royal Hall on April 21. Tickets are on sale at sarapascoe.co.uk/sara-on-tour.

Pascoe, now 40, decided she wanted to be famous at 14 years old. Since then, she has auditioned for Barrymore, scared Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns and ruined Hugh Grant’s birthday, but look at her now, she says.

Please look, she needs you to look. And clap. And laugh. And then clap again…on her “biggest and best tour of her life, where she will be playing in parts of the UK and Ireland that she hasn’t performed at before”.

Dagenham-born Pascoe’s last nationwide tour, LadsLadsLads, culminated in two London Palladium shows, filmed for a BBC Two  stand-up special, Sara Pascoe: LadsLadsLads.

Sara Pascoe: “Examining what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us” in Success Story

Since then, things have most certainly changed for Pascoe, she says. After contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds Sara, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.

In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures.

Comedian, writer and actor Pascoe wrote and starred in the BBC2 sitcom Out Of Her Mind and hosts BBC One’s The Great British Sewing Bee, BBC Two’s Last Woman On Earth, Dave’s Comedians Giving Lectures and Comedy Central’s Guessable.

She has hosted the BBC’s Festival Of Funny and Live At The Apollo’s Christmas Special and appeared as a panellist on Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and Would I Lie To You?.  Later this year, she can be seen in the new Amazon series Katherine Ryan Backstage.

Pascoe has written and performed in the BBC Radio 4 series Modern Monkey and BBC Two’s Sara Pascoe vs Monogamy, a short inspired by her first book, Animal. Her second book, Sex Power Money, was accompanied by a podcast that garnered millions of listens and multiple award nominations.

“Please look. Sara Pascoe needs you to look. And clap. And laugh. And then clap again”

Strictly dance star Johannes Radebe finds Freedom at last in debut solo tour show

FREEDOM. What better title could South African dancer and ground-breaking Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe give his debut British tour.

“It is the freedom to dance to my own tune for the first time,” says 34-year-old Johannes, ahead of his itinerary opening with a Yorkshire show at Bridlington Spa on Wednesday (16/3/2022) before playing the Grand Opera House, York, on April 12.

“I’ve danced in many productions around the world but I’ve never been able to capture on stage where I came from, and I never thought I’d be able to go on my own tour, so it’s a very welcome surprise.”

Radebe (pronounced Ra-dee-bay) was catapulted to new heights of popularity by bonding so exhilaratingly with 2012’s The Great British Bake Off winner and TV chef John Waite as the first all-male couple in 2021’s series of Strictly, pipped for the Glitterball by first deaf contestant Rose Ayling-Ellis and professional partner Giovanni Pernice.

“It was liberating and healing as well,” says Johannes. “I’ve got a better relationship with my mum now, as we can talk about my sexual orientation – and people’s lives have changed for the better too.

“In a world where two men still can’t be free to be  together, I hope to be able to educate the masses, and if people had a glimpse of that with me and John dancing together, then they can think about it.”

Such was the appeal and dancing brio of both partnerships, each marking a first for Strictly, that many would have loved them to have been declared first equal. “I’m with you!” says Johannes, bursting into laughter. “John kept saying, ‘it’s fine if we don’t win’, and yes, it is s fine! At the finale, we both stood there as couples thinking ‘it’s fine’. That’s the friendship that comes through the show.”

After touring the world in Burn The Floor, Joahannes was head-hunted to join the Strictly professionals for the 2018 series, first moving to Britain that year. In his second season, when partnering Catherine Tyldesley in 2019, he danced the first same-sex routine with fellow Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima.

The tour poster for Johannes Radebe’s Freedom show

Last year was to be even more significant. “My decision to finally dance with another man in the competition came about after I lost a friend of mine within our community. He was murdered, and the last words that were uttered to him by his killer was that he was a ‘faggot’,” says Johannes.

He paused, consumed again by the pain of what his friend had suffered, then said: “I get a moment to highlight it in the show. This is something that needs to be done, to give it that platform, and it’s important to keep being flamboyant – but that does require bravery.”

Freedom marks Johannes’s return to the Grand Opera House for the first time since sharing the York stage with Strictly alumni Kevin Clifton and Graziano Di Prima in Burn The Floor in July 2019.

On tour from March 16 to May 1, Johannes Radebe: Freedom is billed as “a celebration of music and dance, from African fusion to fiery Latin, from classic dance arrangements to huge party anthems”, as Radebe and his dancers take the audience on his personal journey, from starting to dance at seven to leaving South Africa at 21 to travel the world, winning international titles and electrifying Strictly Come Dancing.

Now he will be expressing himself to the full in Freedom. “I’ve been on a quest to find Black dancers in this country that are versed in all dance styles, but not many of them are ballroom dancers, whereas where I come from everyone can do the Cha-cha-cha,” says Johannes.

“I’ve chosen everyone through auditions. I had to be in the room to feel their energy, to see if they move me as a dancer, so I’ve found beautiful, individual dancers, which will make it feel a different show.

“It’s a show designed to be representing everyone, and it will be so beautiful to have audiences that support our artform – and I know we have that privilege because of the Strictly audience.”

Johannes has a theory as to why dance and TV audiences feel such a strong connection with him. “It’s because I have no inhibitions. I know that I come alive when I dance. Something takes over. It’s a feeling as an artist that I can’t explain but people connect with it,” he says.

In a nutshell, Freedom. “Absolutely! Nothing is going to stop me. It’s about the joy that my dancing has brought to my mother. Nothing was more important to me than to see my mum be happy when often she would be sad,” says Johannes.

“I was only a child and so I didn’t understand the magnitude of it when she carried me on her back, telling everyone I’d got a prize in a dance competition. She was so proud, even though it wasn’t first place. But that’s the thing. That talent was nurtured from a young age, and though my mum couldn’t support it financially, everyone else contributed.”

Johannes Radebe’s pathway to Freedom was set in perpetual motion, and hopefully another Strictly series awaits too. “We haven’t had the phone-calls yet, but I’ll gladly do it for as long as they will have me,” he says.

Might he look to do another all-male coupling? “Well, you never now. I’m just glad to have kicked down that door.”

Johannes Radebe: Freedom, Bridlington Spa, Wednesday, 7.30pm; Grand Opera House, York, April 12, 7.30pm. Box office: Bridlington, 01262 678258 or bridspa.com; York, 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York. Further Yorkshire performances: Sheffield City Hall, April 3, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk; Bradford St George’s Hall, April 9, bradford-theatres.co.uk; Hull City Hall, April 23, 01482 300306 or hulltheatres.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

Ed Gamble goes Electric for new tour show, playing five Yorkshire gigs. First up, York

Stand-up sits down: Ed Gamble takes a breather between shows

MOCK The Week regular panellist Ed Gamble will be in Electric form at the Grand Opera House, York, tonight and Harrogate Royal Hall tomorrow at 7.30pm.

Co-creator of the food and comedy podcast Off Menu with fellow stand-up James Acaster, Taskmaster winner and Great British Menu judge, Gamble says he is “charged up and ready to flick the switch on another round of attention-seeking.”

Gamble, who has appeared on QI, The Russell Howard Hour, Would I Lie To You? and  8 Out Of 10 Cats, presents a Sunday morning show on Radio X with Matthew Crosby and has his own special, Blood Sugar, available on Amazon Prime.

He will play further Yorkshire gigs on his Electric tour at Hull City Hall on March 25; Bradford St George’s Hall on April 7; Sheffield City Hall on April 19 and Leeds City Varieties on April 22.

Box office: York, 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York; Harrogate, harrogatetheatre.co.uk; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk; Bradford, bradford-theatres.co.uk; Sheffield, ticketmaster.co.uk/event/35005AB2E2A62A3A; Leeds, leedsheritagetheatres.com.