Comedian Lenny Henry is coming to Chesterfield to take spectators on a joyride through his life in music.
Ahead of his visit to the Pomegranate Theatre on November 14 to perform his new show Pop Life, Lenny took part in a question and answer session with the Derbyshire Times:
How has Pop Life been going down with the audiences?
The show’s been going down incredibly well. Audiences are enjoying the performance and getting into the whole which is basically “Music sounds better with everything”. There’s lots of laughter and audience interaction and that’s what makes this show different for me.
What or who were the inspirations for this show?
I love music and always think it’s the perfect ice breaker or linking device or climactic event for a show. To me music is the perfect thing. I’ve always done impressions of people I love, like Stevie Wonder, Prince, Tina Turner, Cee Lo, Out Kast so all these people, plus my teens and my obsessions with learning to play aninstrument - all these have come to bear on the creation of this show.
Have you done any similar one-man shows before?
I did a show about music two years ago - got a great review in a broadsheet that said it was funny but perhaps the saddest show they’d ever seen. When I read this I was determined to do a remix and make this version even funnies….thus Pop Life, a stand-up comedy show about music.
Do you sing in the show?
Yes. I’ve been having singing lessons since the mid 80s. My voice is a puzzling thing - sometimes it works just fine, other times it just goes… to the beach and chills out.
Who is your favourite musician/singer and why?
There are so many cats.
Prince because of his musicality and his ability to shift from Sly to Parliament to the Rolling Stones in a heartbeat;
Elvis Presley who could probably sing anything;
Stevie Wonder because of his limitless talent and his multi-octave singing;
Elbow, who can write anthems to order. I’m a massive fan.
What decades were the best and worst for music?
People say the Sixties but I’d say the Seventies with the invention of glam rock, Bowie, Ferry, Prince, James Brown moving into his Cold Sweat/Sex Machine phase, George Clinton/Bootlsy Collins and the evolution of the reggae sound system allowing the birth of hip hop is pretty much the decade to beat.
I think right now is not a particularly great time for music - there’s perhaps too much choice.
What have been your highlights and lowlights as a comedian?
Highlights are helping Comic Relief to raise over a billion pounds since it first began in the 80s.
Lowlights are easy. I’d done a TV series of some kind every year since I first started in 1975 - when we didn’t get picked for a further series of Lenny Henry TV I was saddened.
When will we next see you on television?
Dunno. I’m writing a sitcom with Kim Fuller at the moment. And I’ve been commissioned to write an autobiographical screenplay for the BBC
I’m writing a feature film script for the B.F.I. And I’ve handed in a draft of a screenplay about basketball for Revolution Fillms (The Trip, 24 Hour Party People).
I’m on the radio doing Rudy’s Rare Records, written by Danny Robbins and starring me - check out the listings, it’s real funny.
I’m completing my second radio play for BBC Radio 4 - which is a ghost story.
I’m acting in Fences by August Wilson next year, wonderful play - many say it’s the African American equivalent of Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller.
And I’m doing Macbeth with Barrie Rutter and Northern Broadsides.
Away from the spotlight, how do you unwind?
I go to the movies, read books, cook, eat and drink.
I love hanging out with my daughter (she’s a fan of the movies and rides horses).
* For tickets and more information about the Pop Life tour, visit www.lennyhenrylive.com