As Henry Paker heads out on his debut solo national tour, the man behind many of your favourite TV shows, is finally getting himself out there in front of audiences nation wide. You will have seen Henry’s name whizz by as a writer on the credits of a huge variety of comedy shows, from Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, Eight Out Of Ten Cats, and Mock The Week all the way to Comic Relief and Top Gear. Henry is one of comedy’s most sought after writers but, in terms of his own stand-up, he has been the industry’s best keep secret…. until now.
Henry has been doing stand-up for years, but this is his first show to go national. And, in Man Alive, he is finally able to bring two of his true passions together in one show. Anyone who has caught his previous stand-up will note that Henry (who you may have seen previously on such TV shows as Josh, Russell Howard’s Good News, and Seann Walsh World) is not only a talented comedian, he is also rather gifted in the arena of visual art. In Man Alive, you will see him doing a spot of live cartooning alongside the stand-up.
Henry said: “I love animation: The Simpsons, Rick and Morty, Pixar, The Lego Movie and all that stuff. I’ve done a couple of cartoon books and I love the visual side to comedy, but I’ve always thought of them as separate from my stand up . So what I’ve enjoyed about this show is putting them together. There’s something about getting the cartoons onto the stage which is really enjoyable for me, and the audience.”
As evidenced from the sell-out shows he performed of Man Alive at the Edinburgh Fringe, audiences are certainly lapping it up. Henry is still working out the full logistics for his tour shows, but chances are that as the crowd enters the room, he’ll be sat at a laptop with his live cartoons appearing on a big screen. It would be cruel to give away the jokes, suffice to say that there are excellent one-off visual gags as well as a running story about love and loneliness.
Alongside the live cartooning in Man Alive, Henry delivers stand-up which tackles issues such as encountering other British people on holiday, discussing friends who have suddenly become marathon runners, and why a night out at the theatre is generally a bad thing. Perhaps most risky of all are his observations on his own marriage, and whether he should really be taking such delight in having plenty of time at home alone.
For anyone who has been at a Henry Paker (pronounced ‘Packer’, by the way) show, chances are you’ll have noticed how different they all are. He’s given us a noirish mystery in Guilty, unlocked a private memory box and decluttered his soul for Unpacked, and went halfway up Kilimanjaro with Cabin Fever. Meanwhile, he’s dabbled in sketch comedy on stage with Superclump and The Golden Lizard, as well as on radio with Small Scenes, while his Radio 4 sitcom Reincar Nathan has been a hit with audiences and critics alike. All this variety is not a coincidence.
For now though, Henry is enjoying the prospect of heading out on tour and meeting new audiences across the land. Some critics and fellow comics have suggested that he should probably be a bit more famous than he is right now. He reckons Man Alive might be the turning point.
Henry will be touring on Friday, 8th November at Komedia in Brighton.
For information visit www.komedia.co.uk.
Syndicated Interview by Brian Donaldson.