LLoyd Griffith
Image by Matt Crockett

BN1 chats with Lloyd Griffith

Comedian brings tour 'One Tonne of Fun' to The Old Market, Feb 3rd

Lloyd Griffith is a man of many talents. TV presenter, actor, chorister. But mainly a comedian. He will be setting out on his new tour, One Tonne of Fun, in early 2023. He can soon be seen in the major ITV drama Nolly. Griffith has also appeared in TV shows including the football comedy Ted Lasso, 8 Out of 10 Cats and Soccer AM and played arenas as the support for Jack Whitehall. He is a devoted supporter of Grimsby Town FC. 

What sort of things do you talk about in One Tonne of Fun?

“Something that happened as a result of the lockdown is my obsession with candles. Which is not what you’d expect from a northern working class lad. I’m probably not the candle industry’s target market. But this is the first year I’m doing a show where there’s no real theme. I just want it to be funny. I’m harking back to where I used to watch Lee Evans and Lee Mack. They were just funny. I want people to leave their worries and woes at the door. There’s always singing in my show but a lot of people don’t know that I sing so they come along and they’re just absolutely baffled at this little fella belting out an opera oratorio. There’s a joke about hotel biscuits, a little quiz about rap and religion. And impressions, though not like Rory Bremner. I used to do the sound of sellotape being ripped, that sort of thing.”

It’s a very distinctive tour poster, with your face poking out of a mountain of chips. It reminds me of the poster for the film American Beauty but with fried potatoes instead of rose petals.

“I’m from Grimsby-slash-Cleethorpes, an area famous for fish and chips. I wanted something to grab people’s attention. The photographer, Matt Crockett, and I, basically went and got, I think, five bags of chips and let them cool off so they didn’t scold my face. But yeah, it was real. I had to lay on the floor with a board all around me covered in chips. The seagulls of Acton where we shot it got fed well that day. We could have done it with Photoshop, but I like to think of myself as a bit of an old school entertainer.”

Image by Matt Crockett

Tell me about the tour title, One Tonne of Fun?

“The primary reason for the title is that I’m a big lad and I want to make people laugh. I’ve been wanting to use that title for years and I’ve finally managed to win my agent round. There’s actually two reasons. My mum and aunties were really big girls. They were nicknamed The Weather Girls [the pop duo who sang It’s Raining Men]. And The Weather Girls’ original name was actually Two Tonnes Of Fun. 

And then one year after the Edinburgh Fringe me and Rob Beckett went on a lad’s holiday to Menorca. We’d basically go to the Irish bar every day. Drink a pitcher of lager, watch the football. And entertainment in the bar was a lady called A Tonne Of Fun. Ever since then I wanted to be a tonne of fun like her. She was up there just enjoying herself. I just want to be a fat bloke telling jokes.”

You mentioned growing up working class, would you say you were still working class? 

“Well, I’ve got a Welsh dresser full of champagne in my house, what does that make me? It’s difficult. I grew up in a very working class environment. And then found myself working in a very middle class environment. Last weekend I went to a very plush member’s club in London, then on Saturday, I was at a working men’s club with my Mum and aunties eating a ‘crisp buffet’. So, you know, it’s hard to know. I think I’m working class, though I live in a very middle class world.”

Is being a chorister more middle class than being a stand up? 

“Absolutely not. This goes back to places like the Chapel Royal, Windsor Castle and Westminster Abbey, they all have outreach programmes from hundreds of years ago where they would source working class singers to give them an opportunity. That’s essentially what I was given when I was seven. I was the only choirboy that got the bus to church every day so I was aware I was a working class lad in a middle class choir. At University when I sang in Exeter cathedral choir some kids came from comprehensive schools, some from Eton, but we had this common connection that we just love singing. I think that’s great, because then it can translate into comedy because you can compare these different backgrounds in your act. I had a girlfriend whose father was a lord. I used to say her family had a coat of arms, but me and my sister used to have to share a coat. Which had no arms. Essentially, I used to wear my sister’s gillet. Experiencing different lifestyles makes you a richer comic.”

Image by Matt Crockett

How did you go from choral singer to stand-up comedian?

“I left Grimsby to go to Exeter University to read music then moved to London to pursue classical singing. Then I experienced stand up comedy live. The first gig I saw was in Shoreditch around 2008. Lee Hurst was hosting and the acts were Milton Jones, Stefano Paolini and Micky Flanagan. None of them had done any TV at the time and I just lost my mind. I could not believe this existed. So I just became obsessed with comedy.

I’m still an active singer. I deputise in various professional choirs. I saw all my friends singing at the Queen’s funeral. If someone is ill or has another engagement that’s when I come in. I’m a kind of choral super sub.”

Tell me about your role in Nolly, starring Helena Bonham Carter? 

“It’s about Noele Gordon, the star of the soap Crossroads. I play Paul Henry, who in turn played Benny in Crossroads. It’s written by Russell T Davies, who wrote It’s A Sin. It also stars Mark Gatiss as comedian Larry Grayson. It was interesting because you’re playing two characters that people know about. I’ve watched a lot of Crossroads in the last year. A lot. When you mention Crossroads to people Benny is the character they always remember. I worked with Russell T Davies and director Peter Hoar when I had a small part in It’s A Sin. It was only two days but I was aware that this was going to be something special. It was just a joy to be involved. Peter won a BAFTA with It’s A Sin and I’m the only returning person. So if Nolly does well, then essentially I have to work with him for every project. I’ll be the lucky mascot.”

Do you have a dream acting role?

“There has never been a fat James Bond has there? I guess there are probably certain levels of fitness required, I’d be out of breath every five minutes. I’ve just done a few more comedy roles in sitcoms, which are coming up but I can’t mention yet. But let’s not rule out Bond. I’m working hard to try and get something of my own going too.” 

I heard that you might have been the first person to sing the new national anthem in public?

“On the Tuesday after the Queen died Grimsby Town said that they’d love me to sing. I wanted to play professional football as a kid but that never happened. I did perform on the pitch though in a capacity that I was good at. I didn’t want it to be announced beforehand. I just wanted to do it and the outpouring of love afterwards was amazing. You could hear a pin drop for that minute. Then Brentford asked me to do it at their game with Arsenal and that one was televised. I got the words wrong in rehearsals, but luckily, when it counted, and when the cameras were on, I managed to sing it correctly.” 

Catch Lloyd Griffith at The Old Market, on Fri, 3 Feb.

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