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Any Parsons reveals his West Country roots

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: March 12, 2009

Andy Parsons

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THE London lilt suggests a cockney sparrow but is Andy Parsons really something of a Devon dumpling? Despite his vocal inflexions, I know at least a couple of people who are certain they went to school with him at Churston Grammar School in South Devon. Perhaps he's a local lad? It's my chance to find out as I snatch a few words with the Mock The Week comedian ahead of his new stand-up show in Barnstaple.

"I was actually born in Dorset, spent some time in Cornwall then secondary education in Devon," he reveals. "I grew up watching Judy Spiers and Gus Honeybun."

He adds with the all the excitement of being interviewed by an icon of local light entertainment: "It's all come full circle now as Judy Spiers was interviewing me for Radio Devon earlier on today."

Does he think of himself as Devonian?

"I certainly think of myself as West Country. My dad was from Plymouth and my mum from Newquay so I'm on the Devon Cornwall border. I'm somewhere in the middle of the Tamar. That's probably me."

I'm told his dad was the headmaster at his secondary school in Torbay. Did that affect his schooldays?

"When you're finding your feet at school it's not necessarily easy. The older boys could take objection to the headmaster's son. In terms of the teachers though you get better treatment than you might otherwise have done. They are always keen not to upset the headmaster's son. It can work both ways."

The comic from QI and Live At the Apollo is, of course, famous for his searing political comedy. He was the main writer on the satirical puppet show, Spitting Image and has starred in TV shows such as They Think It's All Over, Saturday Live and The Stand Up Show. Comedy fans going to see him at the Queen's Theatre this month will no doubt expect oodles of topical gags.

"It's whatever's happened that day, that week and hopefully I'll get a bit of local in there too. We'll get a copy of the

North Devon Journal

and have a plough through beforehand."

The show, called Citizens!, is an exhortation to comedy lovers to rise up and take action. I get the feeling this could be a little tongue in cheek.

"Citizens! has got an exclamation mark by it. The idea is to try and whip up an audience into a state of fervour and all ready to go out there and change the world, knowing full well that when they get up the next day they will get on with their lives in exactly the same way as they did before."

The last six months must have given him plenty of material to play with: the first black US president, banks owned by the public, the worst financial crisis for decades, to name just a few dramatic events.

Does he believe comedy can change the world?

"I used to work for Spitting Image and there are certain sketches and characters that certainly the politicians felt changed the way people looked at them. David Steel is famous for saying he never got taken as seriously after Spitting Image. If you want a more recent example look at the American election and look at Tina Fey who was doing Sarah Palin impressions that had a similar effect. The fact that she could repeat what Sarah Palin had said and get laughs off it shows just how stupid the things were that she was saying."

The publicity for the show promises a great night out and more: 'You will leave the show fulfilled, energised, emotionally uplifted and maybe a little bit giddy – provided you can be bothered to get off your arse to get there in the first place.' Sounds great! Citizens arise and form a polite and orderly queue behind me at the box office.

Citizens! is at the Queen's Theatre on Thursday March 26. Box office: 01271 324242.

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