Enriched by laughter

Jason Cook is hosting the Comedy Carpet Live Gala show in Blackpool.

Jason Cook is hosting the Comedy Carpet Live Gala show in Blackpool.

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Stand-up Jason Cook tells Emma Harris why it’s good to smile through the bad times.

WHEN Jason Cook hosts the Comedy Carpet Gala in Blackpool in just over a week’s time, the Geordie will be visiting the resort for the first time.

The 38-year-old has just landed his own TV series which is to star Vic Reeves. Hebburn, a six-part comedy drama, will be shown on BBC2 and is based on Jason’s own experiences of growing up in the north east.

He has also appeared on numerous TV shows, including Russell Howard’s Good News.

He said: “The main reason I wanted to do this one was Bernie Clifton. The gala is going to be pretty good.

“I mean, Bernie Clifton to me is like comedy royalty.

“I remember him from when I was growing up, so getting to work with him and appear there together it just brilliant!

“So I’m pretty excited, but nervous.

I’ve never been to Blackpool, not even on holiday as a child because being from the North East, we went to Whitley Bay... Not quite as glamorous as Blackpool! I’m sure we’ll have a bit of a night out afterwards.”

Jason always knew he wanted to go into comedy. He says: “I can remember watching Billy Connolly with my dad when I was young.”

But as he discovered, “You have to get used to a lot of rejection and you have to be prepared to work hard if you’re going to chase your dreams.

“It doesn’t come easy. I cut my teeth in comedy in Newcastle, in front of 400 Geordies.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done gigs as tough as those – and I hope no one takes that as an invitation to come and try to make life hard for me at the Comedy Carpet Gala. I think the Brits do have a great sense of humour and like comedy.

“Comedy always does well in a recession.

“I think people are looking for something to help them connect, to have a laugh together.”

And that’s exactly what Jason is hoping the gala next Sunday night will offer.

He is impressed with the Comedy Carpet*: “I think it’s really good.

“It’s great to have a monument like this, it’s such a big thing.

“There aren’t really many monuments like this celebrating comedy, apart from the Eric Morecambe statue, so something like this validates what you do.”

Sunday’s line-up, at the Grand Theatre, will include Barry and Stuart, from BBC1’s The Magicians, comedian Chris Ramsay, Frisky and Mannish (as heard on Radio One and stars of their own sell-out London shows at the Hammersmith Apollo), award-winning Jeremy Lion – Justin Edward’s alter-ego and the legendary Bernie Clifton.

Dad-of-one Jason – who gets his inspiration for his material from his everyday life and things in his life which have happened – says April 1 at The Grand will have a lot to offer. “There will be something for everyone.

“It will be a really good night. It’s a bit like a buffet of comedy because there are several acts and something to suit everybody.

“It will be packed full of fun, surprises and it will be a fantastic night – come and join us!”

*Jason was speaking before a section of the Comedy Carpet near the tramline was removed for safety reasons.

THE FACTS

>> Jason won Best International Show at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival in 2007

>> Jason started out in comedy as part of a Newcastle sketch troupe called Soup

>> Comedy Carpet Live Gala show takes place on April 1, at The Grand Theatre, at 7.30pm. Call the box office (01253) 290190