You have quite a resume. What do you like doing the most?
It's very difficult to nail down one thing. I enjoy everything I do, but to varying degrees. Recently I have to say that returning to poetry and illustration has been personally enjoyable if in no way at all lucrative. I'd like to have done a few things for a bit longer. I did a kids TV show last year that was terrific fun, but didn't get re-commissioned. The secret to this game is to try and enjoy it. I worked as a civil servant for five years so any day where I don't have to do that is a win. I just don't suit regular employment.
What do you least like doing?
There are times when even the things I love can be a pain.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Playing Edna Turnblad in the musical 'Hairspray' in The West End.
Who do you look up to in your line of work?
Lots of people for different reasons; Lee Evans, Harry Hill and Eddie Izzard for work ethic. Daniel Kitson for sheer imagination. Tina Fey and Emma Thompson for class.
What can we expect from you in Doha at Whose Line Is It Anyway?
One thing that I said a few years ago about the show that we do was that it is ‘Adult material delivered childishly…’ I think I was close but wrong. There's something intrinsically funny about large men being daft. We all have lives and kids and responsibilities away from the stage, but fate allows us to mess around for laughs and money. It is a joyful show.
How challenging is it to alter what you do in front of different audiences? How do you expect things to differ in Doha?
One mistake that people can make in this business is to second guess an audience. I don't expect anything from Doha but I am hugely delighted and excited to be playing there for the first time
What’s it like to be the only remaining member of the original line up on Never Mind the Buzzcocks? Who have you most enjoyed working with on that show?
My bottom line with telly work is ‘don't do it if you don't enjoy it’. I nearly left the show twice, but then there were other changes that meant I didn't have to. Doing it with Noel Fielding now is even more fun than when I first started. It's not like work – it's like a brilliant night out with old mates, getting to meet new friends. Too many great people have been on the show, but favourites include Mark Hoppus from Blink 182, Terry Wogan, Lorraine Kelly, Noddy Holder, Tony Wright from Terrorvision, Michael Bolton, Liza Tarbuck, Ian Dury and Kathy Burke, Sheila from The Three Degrees, Tiny Tempah, Alex James from Blur, Kristen Schaal and Adam Buxton.
What has changed most about a career in the performing arts in the UK since you started in 1984?
The main thing is the expansion of multi-channel TV and the internet. It's a totally different world. Also 'stand up' is now a genuine career option for lots of people. When I started in the ‘80s it was something to do so you didn't have to do your day job. Paul Merton, Jo Brand, Harry Hill, Alan Davies Jack Dee, myself – we all had day jobs and did the comedy at night for a laugh. Then it eventually takes over. There were a couple of hundred of us in the ‘80s. We'd always have to double up gigs at the weekend. One night I did seven shows around London between 7.30pm and 2.30am. Now there are thousands of performers. Take a look at the Edinburgh fringe brochure.
Phil Jupitus and other special guests host a special performance of hit improvisation show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ on April 28 from 7pm-10pm. Tickets cost QR150. Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4448 1234).