Tuesday, 21 July 2015

INTERVIEW - Joe Pasquale

AFTER two years of delighting and entertaining audiences as King Arthur in a touring production of Spamalot you would be forgiven for thinking that Joe Pasquale might want a bit of a rest.
But you would be mistaken. For the Eltham-based actor, comedian and all round entertainer is not one to rest on his or anyone else's laurels.
Indeed although the 53-year-old has only just hung up the chainmail he is about to take to the road once more with his new stand up show.
As part of the 25-date tour he is bringing his wit and wisdom gained from his 30 years in showbiz to the Ashcroft Theatre at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on July 26 and says he's looking forward to "having a banter" with the audience.
So what will he be talking about I ask. It turns out it will be a mix of anything and everything.
"I just go on and muck about with a bit of magic, singing, doing a few jokes, painting, reading and lots of silly stuff," he tells me.
"There will also be a lot of audience participation so anything could happen. I play it by ear really and don't write anything down so it'll be completely different from one show to the next."
And it transpires that that is just the way he likes it.
"I never know how it's going to go which is great," he says. "If you plan something and it doesn't work you're stuffed. If you don't plan it, nothing can go wrong. It's what I've done all my life.
"I have a rough idea of course but once I get out there I just talk about anything."
I can testify that this is indeed correct for during our chat topics of conversation range from food to whales, travel to keeping fit and everything in between - he just doesn't stop.
"I've been doing this for 30 years and I love it," he says warmly. "I always knew I never wanted to work for a living. This isn't a job. It's something I enjoy and I'd do it forever.
"It's tiring though," he concedes. "I'm knackered after Spamalot - it was a long tour but it was great fun. I got to work with my son [Joe Tracini] and it was a fantastic show that took you by the scruff of the neck and didn't let go. It was a real joy to do and we had a ball.
"I've always done the odd gig here and there in between times as I'd get bored if I didn't, so it's really nice to be back on the road for this tour.
"The best part of my day is going out on stage," he adds. "It's all the other stuff that's hard like the travelling, living out of a suitcase for months on end and not being able to find anywhere decent to eat - that kind of thing.
"I don't want to eat another kebab at 3am or have a pukka pie. I just want my greens. That's the hard bit - not the show - that's a piece of cake and I love it."
And he says he never feels under pressure.
"Pressure is being a brain surgeon," he chuckles. "What happens if you sneeze and what happens to the scalpel? That's pressure.
"I'm just on stage mucking about like a 13-year-old talking about willies and farts - that's not pressure.
"I still get nervous though - it's scary and exciting, like being on a really good rollercoaster or watching a good horror movie - but that's part of it and that's what I love. I like flying by the seat of my pants."
Talking of flying, six years ago Joe conquered his fear of being airborne and got his pilot's licence.
"I really enjoy it," he says. "When you learn to fly you have to know what to do if something goes wrong. You spend all that time training doing emergency landings. But it's so liberating.
"The year before last I hired a plane and went to Le Touquet in France, had chips on the beach and then came home just in time for X Factor. It's ace!
"I'm not going to be here forever so I want to do something with my life rather than sitting around watching Big Brother."
To that end he is also studying for a Geology and Geoscience degree at the Open University, indulges in his love of travel and discovering new places and took up boxing two years ago.
"There is always time to do these things if you really want to do them," he says "I've been to Belize and want to go and see the Northern Lights and climb volcanoes in Iceland. I'd also quite like to see the ice hotel in Norway - maybe I'll go after this tour.
"I box too and go to Gumshield gym in Eltham. It's a real spit and sawdust place - not the sort where you get a jacuzzi or a slice of cheesecake afterwards.
"There are a lot of cops from the Met who go there so it's a good excuse to go and punch them on the nose and know they can't do anything about it," he adds chuckling.
"I did a marathon a couple of years ago for Diabetes UK. I did it in five hours 20 minutes and the toes on my foot were like chipolatas afterwards. You could have stuck a toothpick in them and not known the difference. I lost five nails too.
"I'd do it again but my knees wouldn't take it. So I do a bit of boxing and still run a bit. I like to look after myself but it's hard on the road because I like my greens and in some places they're impossible to get - it's like Greggs is part of their five a day."
So what does he do to keep himself lean, mean and his vitamin and mineral quota up?
"I take spirulina," he says. "Whales live til they are 160 years old if you let them so I thought if they can do that I'd go to Holland and Barratt and get spirulina.
"If I'm still here in 150 years time you'll know it works. Though obviously I don't want to have developed a blow hole and start living in the sea.
"You see this is what happens with the show - I end up talking about anything!" he adds laughing.
"The news is terrible and horrendous and I can't change that but I can try and cheer people up. It's lovely to have that effect."
And he says he's looking forward to his trip to Croydon.
"I love it there," he says. "It's always got a great crowd who are up for anything so I'm really looking forward to it - especially as it's near my home in Eltham.
"I moved there from Essex and love it. On the A12 there are signposts to a secret bunker," he adds laughing.
"Of course now every bugger knows where it is so if it happens the place will be gridlocked!"
No doubt if it is he will be entertaining the crowd every step of the way.

Joe Pasquale will be at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on July 26. Tickets cost £18.50. Visit www.fairfield.co.uk/ or call the box office on 0208 688 9291.

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