David Baddiel at the Wycombe Swan: 'Part stand-up comedy, part TED Talk'

“I am very direct” says David Baddiel, directly.

“My wife asked me recently if I ever thought about saying the second thing that comes into my head.”

David Baddiel is funny, frankly. Speaking to him as re-embarks on his interrupted tour, his candour is disarming though a little unnerving.

He talks about everything from antisemitism, to Twitter hatred and his beloved Chelsea FC signing Lukaku with articulate assurance and a healthy dash of self-deprecation.

“The tour is going very well – it had to be suspended for a long time and I just thought am I going to still have the mojo after keeping it frozen? Then I reshaped it and tried it out and it felt new and interesting.”

Trolls: Not The Dolls was created before the pandemic and tackles the underbelly of social media, the trolls who rant and rage. His material on Trump has been edited but there were some points, and ‘some very funny’ jokes, too good for Baddiel to omit, he says, despite Donald’s exit from the world stage.

“The show is part stand-up comedy, part TED Talk. It’s quite a performative space on social media.”

The received wisdom for dealing with hate is don’t feed the troll, but the comic reveals: “I see them as hecklers and it’s my job to deal with hecklers. I had an interview with Kay Burley recently and she said I like to poke the beast but I don’t think in those terms. I never think about the ramifications.

“Sometimes there’s this rage and anger that will often come after I’ve made a joke, like saying Nicola Sturgeon looks like Lulu.”

And that makes people want to shout?

“Yes. But using humour and other people’s funny responses can be really powerful, it’s also about the joy of the internet.

“When there’s this swell I feel sometimes like the conductor of some enormous comic orchestra.”

I wonder if the social media subject matter has brought him a younger audience?

“I wish! I ask the audience to tweet me at half time about what they’re thinking and recently got one from a 17 year old who said ‘I am thinking I’m bringing down the average age, to be honest.

“What does happen is that many of them do join Twitter from seeing the show and tweet me afterwards. I should be getting commission from Twitter.”

Baddiel took a 15-year break from stand-up while his children were young and he finds his approach to comedy has matured since the heady days of his work on The Mary White-house Experience and later with fellow football fan Frank Skinner.

He uses on-screen visuals and tackles serious issues to create a full show, shot through with humour. Though these days, jokes that don’t build the story are cut.

His previous shows Fame: Not The Musical and My Family: Not The Sitcom looked at he weirdness of celebrity and the challenges of his father’s dementia.

And after Trolls: Not The Dolls, what is he ‘Not’ going to do next?

“If this has been a trilogy I’m not sure if I’m going to do it after this one, for the good of my health. I think all comedians have Tommy Cooper at the back of their minds.

“For stand-up in the 90s and the cabaret circuit and you’d have some jokes and lines and crowbar it together. It is more thoughtful now, and rigorous.”

Meanwhile he has a musical in the pipeline, trolls to shine lightheartedness on and an audience to entertain, so get your ticket – directly.

David Baddiel – Trolls: Not The Dolls is at the Wycombe Swan on Friday, October 1.

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