KEN Dodd just loves to make people laugh. It is why at the age of 87 he continues to tour with his happiness show, and will be at the Wycombe Swan this weekend. He spoke to Freetime about his love of entertainment, his comedy heroes and what he thought about that Tommy Cooper biopic.
Ken Dodd has been entertaining the British public for 60 years. He was a relatively late starter in the world of professional comedy weeks before his 27th birthday in 1954.
Since then he has continued to sell tickets to his legendary shows, which are renowned for going on until midnight, up and down the country. He said: "As long as people keep coming to my shows and laughing their heads off and enjoying themselves, then I will continue touring this great country of ours. It’s my love. It’s my life and I enjoy every single minute of it."
Ken still lives in the very house in which he was born - a rambling 17th century Georgian farmhouse - in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash, which means he is up and down the motorway "like a yo yo."
He said: "The travel- like most things in life, there are good and bad.
"There are good things about doing gigs- one night stands- you see so many different places you probably wouldn't go to."
And he said in many ways, being a comedian is much like his previous job as a salesman where he travelled the country selling household goods.
He said: "I have a key word for each joke and a little marker of whether the joke went well.
"I do a bit of weeding and take the slow ones out and put the successful ones in.
"Over the years I have a pile of notebooks and a giggle map of Great Britain."
So what kind of jokes will he be telling in High Wycombe. He said: "I think that part of Britain- they are financially enthusiastic. You tell jokes about money and of course, Wycombe furniture as well."
Ken's début professional appearance was at the old Empire Theatre in Nottingham. With his brother Billy and sister June they loved going to the theatre with their mum and dad, which is where he got his taste for the stage.
And he hasn't just done comedy- he’s played Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Yorrick in Kenneth Branagh’s epic film version of Hamlet and Mr.Mouse in the Hollywood film of Alice In Wonderland.
He said: "I think British actors are the greatest. I was very lucky as I was able to work with all my heroes."
Which is when talk turns to Tommy Cooper. He worked with the comedian, who recently was portrayed in a controversial ITV biopic as a violent alcoholic.
Not Like That, Like This was met with disapproval by Tommy's only surviving child Vicky, which she said was lies.
Ken said: "I thought it was a shame they showed some of his darker side. A man like Tommy Cooper was giving so much happiness and so much pleasure to so many people over the years.
"I would have liked to have seen them celebrating his achievements rather than pointing out some of his less happy traits.
"I worked with him many times. He as a lovely man. I never heard him say a wrong word about anyone.
"I never saw him with an excess of alcohol.
"He loved to laugh. He loved new jokes. He loved the business."
And for Ken he loves to make his audiences feel good.
He said: "The people that come to my shows- they love to laugh.
"They know I won't let them go until they have."
And Ken said people go to the theatre for the feel good factor.
Also in his Happiness show there are two other acts- Andante, a multi instrumental act and Sybie Jones who plays the flute and sings.
There is a live band, orchestra and a puppet called Dicky Mint.
And with every show he does he adds six new gags.
Ken added: "You have to keep it fresh. You don't do a show at an audience. You do it with one.
"For 60 years I have been a professional comedian. I have never done the same show twice.
"It is the most wonderful feeling in the world to stand in front of an audience and make them laugh."
Ken Dodd is at the Wycombe Swan this Sunday (tomorrow) at 7pm. Tickets are £20 to £25, with a £1.50 booking fee, from 01494 512000 or go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk.
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