ROB Brydon has done virtually everything there is to do in comedy.
But tomorrow night’s visit to King George’s Hall in Blackburn will be part of his first ever stand-up tour as himself.
Sure he’s headlined in his own numerous, hit TV series such as The Keith Barret Show, Marion and Geoff and of course the award-winning Gavin and Stacey.
He’s even been tempted on to the big screen by Blackburn director Michael Winterbottom in A Cock and Bull Story and 24-Hour Party People.
But being himself on stage is a new experience — and one which promises to be a real treat.
Clearly his legion of fans never had any doubts about Rob’s abilities to carry off a one-man show. The entire tour virtually sold out within a matter of days and a run in the West End has been lined up.
Rob, who hails originally from Swansea, was bowled over by the response in his native land.
“We sold out five nights at the 1,800-seat Millennium Centre in Cardiff just like that,” he reveals. “That gives you confidence, I can tell you.”
He is right to be confident — it’s a terrific show.
Rob and I met in a central London members’ club. A rare example of a comedian who is as funny off stage as on it, he makes for sparkling company. He is a dazzling entertainer and an hour spent in his presence simply flies by. The air is replete with laughter throughout the interview.
It’s like being treated to a command performance — for a specially invited audience of one. It’s an absolute privilege. The comic, 43, is thrilled by the prospect of embarking on his first ever national tour as himself.
“I’m really excited about appearing as myself this time,” beams Rob.
“It’s easier to perform as Keith Barret because his views are set, and I’m not always sure what I think about things. But I’ve really enjoyed being myself on stage "The show is just me talking on stage. I like that natural feeling of me simply chatting to the audience.
"In the show Rob ranges over a whole array of subjects. He contemplates, for example, the joy of voiceovers.
“I talk about how ludicrous it is doing voiceovers for products such as Toilet Duck,” he said.
Another subject which Rob mines to great comic effect in the show is his native land.
“I married an English girl, so our family is half English and half Welsh, and they have very different responses to everything,” muses the comedian, who studied at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.
“The Welsh have a very emotional side and we always view everything with a great sense of drama.
The performer recently made Rob Brydon’s Identity Crisis, an acclaimed BBC documentary about his attitude to Wales, and that has informed the live show.
“Before producing the documentary, I had a niggling sense of disenchantment with Wales,” admits the comic. “I’d been away a long time and had begun to see Wales in a negative light.”
Rob explains that some others in the UK also have misapprehensions about Wales.
“To English people, Wales is often a mystery that no one wants to solve. Hollywood actors only ever say they want to visit Scotland and Ireland, never Wales.
“But spending time there again for the documentary made me remember the things I love about Wales. I realised what a huge part of my life it is and it made me want to tour with a show talking about the country I love."
The comedian jokes that his country is now in such fine fettle, it invalidates Anne Robinson’s infamous sneers about Wales.
According to Rob: “There's never been a better time to be Welsh — there's Duffy, Gavin and Stacey, Torchwood, Doctor Who. I'd say that would wipe the smile off Anne’s face — but that would require a qualified surgeon.”
l See Rob Brydon at King George's Hall, Blackburn, tomorrow night. For details call 0844 8471664.