Mind your language and enjoy a Spikey night

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ACCORDING to the title of his stand-up tour, Words Don’t Come Easy to Dave Spikey. Which, of course, is nonsense so what did he mean by it?

“You always have to call it something and it was a phrase I just came up with,” he says. “I have always been intrigued by the English language and especially its misuse and I think latterly there’s been even more of it with texting and Facebook and Twitter.

“There was a segment on my last tour when I would read out local newspaper headlines and quite often there would be a witty use of language. I remember there was a story in Preston about a llama (don’t ask me what a llama was doing in Preston) which escaped into a children’s playground and the headline was Llama drama ding-dong.

“I am fascinated about the language peculiar to newspapers – the poetry corner and the classified ads.

“And I am obsessed by the language of song lyrics. There are many songs that people recognise but the lyrics don’t stand up to scrutiny. Take Vanessa Williams’ Save the Best to Last. ‘Sometimes the snow comes down in June, Sometimes the sun goes round the moon’ – hang on a minute, how does that work? What kind of astrophysics has she been studying?

“So it’s a bit of a broad canvas,” he continues. “There’s that special language that the police speak or they use in hospitals.

“Then there’s the way people don’t think before they speak. I once came out of a travel agent’s after booking a holiday and met someone I knew who asked what I had been doing and I told him I had been booking a holiday. ‘Oh are you going somewhere nice?’ I felt like answering ‘No, we’re going camping next to Sellafield’.”

The headline routine which Spikey will be doing again on this tour – “it’s a good icebreaker” – is a reminder of the sitcom he wrote for ITV and co-starred in with Johnny Vegas, Dead Man Weds, about a fictional Peak District local rag called The Fogburrow Advertiser. Whatever happened to it?

“I was really surprised it didn’t go to another series. It was the best of times for me, hanging out in Castleton with Johnny Vegas and Keith Barron,” he says.

In fact at the time of the interview he is speaking down the line from Spain where he is working on a script commission for the BBC with Neil Fitzmaurice, his writing partner from Phoenix Nights.

“They wanted a sitcom about ballroom dancing but we shied away from it because it sounded like jumping on the Strictly Come Dancing bandwagon. Then we thought, hang on, if we set it at grassroots level it would be different. So it’s about social dances in a Blackpool hotel and it’s got the usual elements of clashes of class and rivalry because we throw into the mix a competition.

“So we’re going to make a pilot but you never know because there’s always the possibility that there will be changes at the top in TV.”

As to his live comedy, Spikey is on his fifth tour. “I think I am getting better, you learn and learn as time goes by.”

How does he hone his material and who does he bounce his ideas off? “I just try things out in the pub. I just steer the conversation round to the top and just to the routine there and then without letting on and see the reaction.

“Of course sometimes you get your mates trying to top you. The real test is my wife who has a strange sense of humour. She doesn’t really laugh, but if she makes a ‘huh’ sound I know I’ve cracked it.”

Dave Spikey, the Words Don’t Come Easy Tour, is at the City Hall on Saturday.