It’s 30 years ago this year that comedian Joe Pasquale launched into showbiz – or more specifically 30 years ago that he appeared on New Faces.
“I just went on and mucked around for a bit… and I am still doing it now,” says Joe who is on the road this summer with his Devil in Disguise tour (Kings, Southsea, July 27; White Rock, Hastings, August 30; and Worthing Pavilion, August 31).
“The hardest part is the travelling,” Joe says. “You do the gigs for nothing. It’s the travelling you get paid for. It’s the traffic really. You might think it is a four-hour journey and then it ends up as eight hours. It’s just in a little van, with the tour manager… and that’s what I have been doing for 30 years now.
“But to be honest, it doesn’t seem like 30 years. I would say more like five. But I suppose that’s just the realisation that you are getting old! You’ve just got to try to keep fit and try not to eat complete kack from garages. I run about four or five miles every day. It’s not just a physical thing. It’s one of those things where you can just zone out when you are running.”
As for New Faces, Joe came to it off the back of refereeing wrestling at a holiday camp: “I just went on and mucked about and won the heat and came second in the grand final. I think it is just the same now with Britain’s Got Talent. The only difference is that they now show the auditions. It is still the same executive producer Richard Holloway now on Britain’s Got Talent as it was back then on New Faces, but Simon Cowell came along and had the foresight that it was interesting to show the auditions.
“But it is still a panel of judges. I had Nina Myskow, Danny la Rue and Ken Dodd. You rehearse in the afternoon and the judges see the show, but don’t comment. But it means they have a rough idea in the evening. Ken Dodd came to see after the rehearsal. I couldn’t believe I was sitting next to Ken Dodd. He told me ‘If you take this joke and move it there…’ and so on and helped me rearrange my act. And then he told me ‘If you do it like this, you will win.’
“I have had two great mentors, Ken Dodd and Bob Monkhouse. No, three great mentors, Ken and Bob and Des O’Connor. I think they gave me confidence and style. I was on Celebrity Squares in 1993 with Bob Monkhouse and I told him I was doing the Royal Variety Show, and he told me I would score really heavily if I did this, this and this. He was a great help. He said he would get me through my act and tell me what to do.
“And Des O’Connor… He got me on his show more than anybody else. If they had something quirky coming up, like Frankie Dettori and a camel, they would get me on. I think I was on his show 17 times. Whenever they wanted something a bit different, they got me in.
“They were three great performers at the top of their game. They had nothing to prove. They were great to me.”
As for the current show, well, it’s The Devil in Disguise: “But the PR lady was just telling me I had to have a title. Really it is just a continuation of me doing what I always do, going on stage and mucking around. I am not actually saying I am the devil! But it will be a nice mix, some old stuff, some new stuff.”
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