Comedian George Lewis is standing up for himself at Sudbury's Quay Theatre
A winner of Celebrity Mastermind, a former copywriter at one of the country’s most prestigious ad agencies, a collector of prizes when he started out in stand-up, and now hitting the road for his debut solo tour with A Man, A Plan, A Girl With Fake Tan, George Lewis sounds like he has the world at his feet. Well, try telling that to his grandmother.
“I’m forever trying to prove to my nana that I have a proper job but I never manage it. So when I did Mastermind, I thought that would be the thing that convinces her that what I’m doing is proper. I think she was kind of impressed in the moment but then she said, ‘Well, that’s that out of your system’ and she promised to put in a good word at the hospital to try and get me a job there as a porter.”
When it comes to comedy, the talented and genial George Lewis is definitely staying put. Having previously supported Romesh Ranganathan and Tom Allen on tour (George will also be providing warm-up duties for fellow ex-ad man Russell Kane in 2019), he has learned plenty from them, and not just about the mechanics of stand-up.
“Those two are among the nicest people in comedy, and Kevin Bridges is another. A lot of the very best people are still lovely, and it shows that you can be like that. Romesh has worked so hard for his success; he’s very inspiring, because he started this when he had a family. Sometimes when you do this job, you can’t help but feel that it might be a bit selfish or you’re risking too much and you should get a normal job. The lesson I’ve learned is that if you work hard and you’re nice, it will eventually happen for you.”
A Man, A Plan, A Girl With Fake Tan is a show about when, at the tender age of 12, young George fell hard for a girl who was not really ideal for him. It’s effectively a coming-of-age story about being yourself and why it’s usually a very bad idea to change yourself wholesale for someone else. And it has lots and lots of jokes. “The show is about me trying to be more like Liam Gallagher to win the heart of this girl and getting it really wrong. I wouldn’t say it’s especially a high-concept show; it’s mainly about the embarrassing things I did as a teenager.”
Not that George is able to avoid embarrassing situations any better now that he’s a married man with a small baby to look after. “Because I’m often free in the day, I take my baby to a swimming class. But it’s just me and all these mums. So I’m often in the changing room with a load of women and there are all these chats about breastfeeding and nipple soreness. I’m just stuck in this situation listening to conversations about things I don’t want to hear. I’m not doing anything wrong, but it really feels like I am.”
Embarrassment could also have followed him onto the nation’s TV screens when he appeared on Celebrity Mastermind at the beginning of 2018, but he wound up blowing the competition away with a deep knowledge of his specialist subject, Oasis. So, is he praying for a reunion of the Manchester Britpop legends or is it better to let the glorious past stay right there?
“I can’t say a reunion isn’t something I constantly dream about, but I’m happy for it not to happen for a while. I love their solo stuff and it’s just nice having something to look forward to isn’t it.”
Getting into comedy was certainly not a mistake for George Lewis. After a spell at BBH, the advertising agency which was responsible for the classic ads which promoted Boddingtons, Levi’s and Audi (he returned to BBH recently to present their awards ceremony), George turned his attentions to the world of stand-up comedy. He quickly established himself by winning a series of newcomer awards in 2014 and 2015, and has propelled himself further with this debut solo tour which will be a mix of A Man, A Plan, A Girl With Fake Tan, and some newer material about being a husband and father.
“The reason I got into comedy was that I wanted to write and be in my own sitcom, and that’s still my goal. But then you see someone like Kevin or Romesh or Tom and they’re doing pure, brilliant stand-up, it’s hard not to want to do that more than anything. But yeah, I also want to write a Golden Globe-winning sitcom.” Surely at that point, nana will give her grandson the unconditional seal of approval?
George Lewis: A Man, A Plan, A Girl With A Fake Tan, February 22, Quay Theatre, Sudbury. Call 01787 374745 or visit quaysudbury.com