INTERVIEW: Phill Jupitus on crowds, downsizing and life after Red Wedge


What do you do when you are not being Phill Jupitus the comedian?

I suppose on stage I’m an exaggerated version of myself but it’s still who I am. I’m very much myself on stage, I’m not pretending to be anyone else.  I do recall meeting another comedian backstage a number of years ago and when I tried talking to him he said ‘please don’t speak to me I’m getting into character’ – I think that if you are not able to speak to people you have no place being in this business.  

It really is part of the job. I’ve never really understood people who have to be someone else on stage.  Being a comedian is more of a calling than a job.

What can we expect when you take to the stage at Henley? (Jupitus performed Thursday July 12 at Henley Festival)

I’ve been touring since September and I have been doing a three hour show – so when I come to Henley I’m down to do a 45-minute set – I really enjoy doing these festivals, everyone’s in a relaxed mood and out to have fun – it’s great to spend time in a tent having a laugh with people, it’s really not like hard work to me. Yes it’s a far cry from Red Wedge that I was part of in the 80s, but I suppose I’ve changed, the landscape’s changed – that’s the nature of progress.

Have we reached peak Phill?

Well, peak Phill was a few years ago now – when I was doing Never Mind the Buzzcocks – I’m certainly not recognised in the street to the same extent now, which is actually how I like it. I’m sort of downsizing.  I did dabble with musicals a while ago but they are a huge amount of work. There is a certain level of fame which you feel duty bound to achieve but I’m at the level where I’m really enjoying the work I do. 

I’m looking forward to Henley – there’s nothing I enjoy more than chatting to a crowd who are clearly there to enjoy themselves, it should be a lot of fun.