They’ve made us laugh for the last 25 years. Now Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse bring their first stage show to Leeds
Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse have enjoyed a wonderfully successful TV partnership over the past quarter of a century. But during all that time, they have never done a live tour as a double act. Until now.
Their new show, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse Legends! is set to arrive in Leeds on November 21.
You will be delighted to hear Harry and Paul are just as funny off stage as on. As we chat over take-away sushi in the church hall where they are rehearsing, they consistently have me in stitches with their funny lines and voices.
So many well-loved characters spring to life before my very eyes. They top each other’s punchlines and mercilessly take the micky out of each other - in the way that only really close friends can. It is like being given a command performance - to an audience of one. It is a real privilege.
I begin by asking why, after 25 years of highly successful TV collaboration, they have they finally decided to hit the road now. “It’s the right time to do it - before we die!,” laughs Paul, who has co-starred with Harry in such hugely popular series as Harry and Paul, Harry Enfield’s Television Programme and Harry Enfield and Chums.
Like any great double-act partner, Harry immediately chips in. “We acknowledge in the show we’re not in the flush of youth. We’re both so old that we’re starting to get ailments. So if we don’t do this tour now, we never will. Every year, more of our fans are dying.”
“A lot of them can’t remember who we are,” Paul interjects. “But to be fair, we can’t remember who we are, either.”
Fans should not be too concerned about the comedians’ health, however, because, as Paul explains, “We’ll have a nurse standing by backstage with a defibrilator!”
Fans can look forward to seeing what has become of such widely loved characters as Loadsamoney, Stavros, The Old Gits, Smashie and Nicey, Kevin the Teenager, The Self-Righteous Brothers and The Surgeons.
Harry reflects that, “Comedians are like pop bands. When you’re young, you have ruddy principles and don’t do old stuff because you don’t want to take away the purity of youth. But then as you get older, you look at The Rolling Stones and see what fun they have. We just want to have fun now.”
Paul carries on that, “I bumped into Alexei Sayle the other day and he said, ‘I see you’re touring. Diluting the legacy, eh?’ A funny thing happens to acts who hang around for long enough. They go through periods of uncoolness – Led Zeppelin were desperately uncool at one point – and then people think, ‘Well done for hanging in there and not dying!’ That’s what’s happened to us. We’ve done our prog-rock and solo albums, and now we’ve come back together for a tour.”
Harry and Paul are undeniably excited about the prospect of touring for the first time, although Harry admits that, “We’re nervous about ‘drying’ [forgetting their lines]. But if we do that, of course it’ll be funny!”
Paul adds that, “We want to fulfil people’s expectations. When we did The Fast Show Live, we got a great a deal of affection from the audience. That feeds your enjoyment and everybody else’s.”
One of the reasons people feel such affection towards Harry and Paul is they love watching their close relationship acted out on stage. “”I hope it comes across how much we relish our relationship,” Paul continues. “We’ve sneaked in some stuff about our relationship and take the mickey out of each other all the time.”
Harry and Paul will be at Leeds Arena on November 21. Tickets (£32.50 & £37.50) on sale now: www.ticketmaster.co.uk / 0844 844 0444