YOU may know him as the obnoxious Ollie Reeder in The Thick Of It, from countless appearances on Mock the Week and QI, or perhaps from an advert for a certain car insurance company. But Chris Addison, all-round TV gadabout comedian and actor, is most at home on the stage. Stand-up comedy is what gave him recognition and credibility, and he visits Ilfracombe's Landmark Theatre on Friday.
"There's nothing like being on stage. I've got to do acting, directing and hanging out with the people on Mock The Week. I love all of it, but it all comes from the stand-up: that's where I cut my teeth. I did ten years of it before I ever did anything else."
Addison, now a veteran of the Edinburgh Fringe circuit, has been described as "the thinking man's comic", and in the past based his shows on a particular theme. Now, however, he covers a mishmash of topics from politics to nationality to issues about own body – a constant source of amusement to him. He explains the reason for this change of approach:
"About ten years ago I started writing shows about big themes because, especially with Edinburgh, there are so many comics and you had to find a way of doing something different.
"But then the strapline is 'a stand-up show about evolution' which will mean that many people will see that and understandably go to see someone else. It sells itself short because the shows have always only ever been about the jokes, but it's hard to see past the title sometimes.
"That's why for the last couple of tours I've done straight stand-up without any massive themes."
Guests at the Landmark gig can therefore expect a focus on no subject in particular, but will be guaranteed a giggle. Now in the final leg of a country-wide run, the tour entitled The Time Is Now, Again, has been making people laugh across the country.
"It's jokes, stories, lies, whimsy, some shouting, quite a lot of sweating and quite a lot of laughing on the part of the audience," says the baby-faced comedian. "I'm now putting it to bed. But of the shows I've done, it's my favourite one, and I'll be sorry to see the back of it.
"This is the last run before it's taken to the Old Shows Home and put in a file somewhere."
So what next for Chris Addison? Well April sees the release of The Look Of Love, a feature-length biopic of porn industry mogul Paul Raymond starring Steve Coogan. In it Addison plays Men Only editor Tony Power, but he is quick to state that the film is by no means a glamorisation of a controversial figure and the business he was embroiled in:
"There's a moment when we were all dressed as per 1982 and Steve and James Lance and I are supposed to be watching this film and we're all smoking and drinking.
"We agreed that everything about this sounds like the real rock'n'roll lifestyle, but we were a few weeks into the shoot and we couldn't wait to leave this world. It was so bleak, so depressing and the story of Paul Raymond is ultimately quite sad."
So there you have it: with a stand-up tour about to finish and a new film fast on its heels, Chris Addison still seems prolific when it comes to the entertainment game.
"I started off wanting to be a theatre director and ended up getting into stand-up but I think that's just one of those things that happens to people in life.
"You think you're heading in one direction, but you don't know what's over the horizon and finally you find yourself miles away and think 'oh, maybe I was meant to be here all along'."
The Time is Now, Again is at The Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe on Friday, March 22, 8pm. Tickets: £21. Box office: 01271 324242, www.north devontheatres.org.uk