The art of staying young gracefully

Stand-up star Paul McCaffrey tells Brian Donaldson what he’d like to be when he grows up.

There are plenty of contemporary comedians talking about the process of getting older but few are doing it quite so brilliantly as Paul McCaffrey. As a man who recently supported the likes of Sean Lock and Kevin Bridges, Paul is now all set to take I Thought I Would Have Grown Out Of This By Now, his first big touring show, on the road, with this seasoned stand-up preparing to have audiences laughing in recognition mixed with a little dash of denial.

“A lot of my recent stuff has been around the difficulty of adapting to my forties which will resonate with a lot of audiences,” says Paul.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m growing old disgracefully, but there’s certainly an arrested development there which is quite common with my peer group. People who were around during rave and Britpop are perhaps doing adulthood in a slightly different way to how it was previously been done by other generations. It feels as though there’s this desire to continue having a good time even if the body might not be up for that.”

Paul will be tackling this dilemma across a touring show which will be partly a compilation of his best bits to date and partly a version of his acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe show, Pills, Thrills And Bellylaughs which centred on the story of him going to a music festival with some friends, twenty years after their last visit to such an event.

“That was my most enjoyable Edinburgh show, so that will make up a fair chunk of this touring show. I definitely used to look a lot younger than my age. Up to my mid-30s, every time I’d tell someone how old I was, they’d never believe me, but more recently that stopped happening. I used to be quite good at sleeping, but all that has stopped. That’s not comedy, it’s just facts.”

Although this is Paul’s first major solo tour, he’s been spending some quality time on some of the nation’s larger stages in support of Sean Lock and Kevin Bridges. He has a very high opinion of both those stand-ups and the feeling is most certainly mutual.

“Being personally chosen by both of them to tour was a huge honour and privilege. To me, they are two of the absolute greats, most certainly of our generation but maybe even of all time. I’ve learned so much from them, watching them every night and seeing their work ethic. They are both operating at the very top of their game.”

As Paul gets set to take his own excellent stand-up across the country, audiences can feel very safe in his hands. As the go-to guy for a closing act on some of the bets comedy bills across the UK, Paul has been dubbed by The Scotsman as ‘born to be a comic’ and lauded by Shortlist for clearly having ‘funny bones’.

This award-winning comedian (he’s won New Act Of The Year prizes at Latitude and from The London Paper) has appeared on BBC3’s Impractical Jokers and on Russell Howard’s Good News while listeners to Jack FM can hear his show every Saturday morning. And now, he’s geared up for this tour.

“I’m a people person and touring is quite a blessed situation as you’re seeing people at their best and at their leisure time. People have come out for a good night and are usually up for a good time.

“Doing stand-up comedy for a job means I’ve seen bits of the UK that in all honesty I might never have got to see. I had no idea what some of them were like and when I got there I thought ‘Well, this is amazing’.”

Paul McCaffrey is a man who seems very much at ease with his vocation. Having previously run a pub, and worked in call centres and on the rides at Thorpe Park, he is delighted to have ‘stand-up comedian’ at the top of his CV.

“There’s a lot more scope for comedians to be on TV now, and of course there’s the internet. When I started, YouTube was nowhere near as big as it is now. It’s easier to get yourself seen these days, so you could argue that there’s never been a better time to be a comedian.

“I wish I’d done stand-up earlier than I did, because when I started doing this I realised I had found the thing I really wanted to do.” And now Paul McCaffrey is ready to give audiences across the UK a taste of what they’ve been missing.

Paul brings I Thought I’d Have Grown Out of This By Now to the Glee Club, Birmingham on Friday 8th March.