A word with comedian Sean Lock

Ahead of appearances in Dundee, Kirkcaldy and Perth, veteran of the comedy circuit Sean Lock talks to Jennifer Cosgrove about his signature style and his indifference to the internet.

You’d think a comedian who has named his show Lockipedia after online phenomenon Wikipedia might actually have a penchant for the internet. But not Sean Lock.

In fact, the stand-up known for his appearances as a team captain on Channel 4 show 8 out of 10 Cats positively despises the online world.

“I’m like the anti-Stephen Fry,” he says, talking about the self-confessed technology geek who hosts QI another show on which Sean often appears.

“I’ve got somebody on Twitter pretending to be me at the moment. My agent phoned up and asked if I wanted him to be stopped. I thought it sounded a bit heavy plus I didn’t really care.

“If someone is getting their rocks off pretending to be me, and other people enjoy this pretence, there’s no harm in it. And, anyway, how do we know it’s a bloke? It could be a little old lady called Edna up in Dundee.”

Sean’s new show Lockipedia consists mainly of stand-up, but he’s introduced a new dimension to get the audience more involved and he doesn’t mean hecklers.

“People tend not to heckle a great deal these days as the shows are in theatres and they’ve come for a night out. They’re quite civilising environments, theatres. In the old days at comedy clubs and pubs I dealt with loads of them.”

Sean says his show isn’t really based on Wikipedia. The only similarity is all about what he knows which tends to be unreliable, misleading but highly entertaining information.The Courier has 10 Sean Lock: Lockipedia Live DVDs to give away after the official release on November 22. For a chance to receive a copy, simply email features@thecourier.co.uk placing “SEAN LOCK WEB ENTRY” in the subject line and include your full name, address and contact telephone number. The first 10 entries chosen at random after November 22 will receive a DVD.”It’s mainly a stand-up show but what I also do is get the audience involved in a very random way. What happens is someone calls out a letter and then a word beginning with that letter and I have a book with some jokes in it. It’s technically impossible what I’m setting out to do which is to have a joke on every possible word in the English language.

“Sometimes I get lucky and manage to think up something on the spot. And, actually, what it’s mostly about is how I get out of it. It’s really messing around with the idea of the comedian interacting with the audience in a different way, rather than ‘what’s your name, where do you come from, what do you do for a living?’ It lets people who would never normally shout out be involved in the show.”

A veteran of the comedy circuit, Sean has worked extensively in television and radio, including his own BBC 2 series 15 Storeys High. He has won various awards including a British Comedy Award for best stand-up in 2000 and a Time Out Comedy Award.

His new show has been described by critics as “surreal” something Sean says is a load of nonsense.

“I don’t think my act is surreal. I don’t think people know how to use the word. I sort of tread into the absurd every now and again. I often think people who get the job of describing comedy don’t really know anything about it and then they describe things as ‘surreal’.

“That’s one of the many bad things about the internet the fact that what some journalist writes is just there, forever, like it’s carved in stone. Or a comment you made in an interview 10 years ago, just stuck there. Then people start to collate all the rubbish that’s been written. It ludicrous.”

So has he looked at his own Wikipedia page lately?

“I haven’t seen it for a while. When I had two children, it used to say I had three daughters, which my wife saw as an omen we should have another one.”

The couple did go on to have a son and the page now states, “Lock has mentioned on several occasions that he has three children, of which at least two are girls.”

“It used to say my first TV appearance was in 1974 having my spoon bent by Uri Geller, which wasn’t true but I was quite happy for people to believe that, because it wasn’t damaging. It also says I was born in Woking, Surrey, but I was actually born in a place nearby called Chertsey but it’s not a big deal. These are little things it doesn’t bother me but they’re wrong.

“It’s the same as blogs. I couldn’t bring myself to read a blog because they’re rubbish. There’s a reason these people are writing on the internet it’s because they’re bad, scrappy writers.”

One thing his Wikipedia page does have right is that Sean used to work as a labourer on a building site.

“I used to go to comedy gigs and see people in pubs in London then I started doing open spots and it was a hobby for many years. One day, I got my first gig and I got paid £15 for 20 minutes and that’s when I realised you could earn a living from it.

“Writing jokes is a lot of work but you can’t practise being witty; you’d be an insufferable person. It’s about finding what’s funny and what you like doing.”

But, the ultimate question is, was he actually born in 1962?

“Really? Have they got that? No, that’s wrong. I’m younger than that! I’m outraged it’s 1963.”

Main photo Andy Hollingworth.Sean Lock is at the Whitehall Theatre in Dundee, on October 30, with further performances at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy, Aberdeen Music Hall and Perth Concert Hall. See www.offthekerb.co.uk for more information.