Tom Davis is best known for his TV shows Murder In Successville, King Gary The Curse and most recently as Bleacher in the new Wonka film. He also appeared in Paddington 2, the film. The comic will perform his Underdog show at the Gaiety Theatre on Friday next week (February 2) at 8pm as part of his biggest tour to date.
Stand up was the thing that changed my life. I was hitting 30 and I’d seen Micky Flanagan and others that were around and I made the decision. I’d been working on building sites for 20-odd years, I just wanted to do something for myself.
I’d split with my girlfriend and had some depression and was a bit lost. I’d go to the pub on a Friday night to see where I was going to work on a Monday. It could be scaffolding, It could be hod carrying. I tried stand-up and straight away I thought: ‘Wow. I feel like I’m actually quite good at something, making other people laugh.’
Performing came out of the blue?
When I first stood on stage to do stand-up it was the first time I’d ever stood in front of an audience and done any kind of performance. I’d never done any sort of drama school or anything that opened the doors to acting. But then everything snowballed.
Before you did it for a living were you the guy cracking jokes in the pub?
I’m inherently lazy and one thing I learned early on was that if you could be a bit of a laugh, and you could tell a good story, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t have to do as much work. I used to love going to the pub and being around people telling stories. I’m obsessed with hearing people’s stories. And when you’re working on a job that you don’t necessarily have much love for the thing that’s gonna get you through the day is taking the mick out of each other.
Your show is called Underdog, but you are 6 foot 7 inches. You don’t seem like an underdog!
I’ve always thought of myself as an underdog though not necessarily in a negative way. I think that’s what has made me. The bulk of my humour comes from constantly feeling like someone who’s had a little bit of a kicking. I remember being eight or nine and pulled up by a teacher with another kid and her saying: ‘Who do you think is gonna get further in life?’’
I can’t imagine you being bullied.
You get terribly bullied when you stand out at school. I wasn’t good at sport, I wasn’t academic and I was dyslexic. I looked about 10 years older than everyone else.
On the building site when I said I was going to do comedy people were like: ‘Who do you think you are? Rowan Atkinson?’ Now the same people say: ‘I always knew you’d make it.’
You left school with no qualifications, but maybe you were training for this all your life...
I failed my GCSEs so I did all sorts of jobs. Or I’d go on a lad’s holiday, fall in love and end up spending two months away. I went to Vegas and met a guy who told me I could become a boxer so I ended up staying there. But I always went back to building sites because I enjoyed the banter. I’d throw myself into things but they didn’t work out until comedy.
You’ve had a lot of success with your podcast with Romesh Ranganathan Wolf And Owl where you share stories, like how you tried to impress a girlfriend by buying her a sausage dog...
It’s unlocked a vault and has been incredible for my confidence to just let the stories breathe. You are sometimes thinking when something is good: ‘Should I hold it back for the live show?’
Your 1980s-set C4 crime caper The Curse is returning for a second series set on Spain’s ‘Costa Del Crime’. Was it fun dressing up?
In the first series my character was mostly wearing a track suit. For this series I’ve been spoiled with some incredible looks. And some shorts. It’s really a step up. I think it’s funnier, but there’s a real darkness to it.
You’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD. Has that changed you?
It surprised me, but it didn’t surprise anyone around me. I’d have moments of anxiety and paranoia and can get down. After I became a father it was quite difficult for my wife, having someone there who decides that the kitchen cupboards need reorganising at 3am. I’ve had therapy and it was amazing finding out a little bit more about yourself.
What are you described as on your passport?
I think it says comedian. That’s the foremost thing. That’s the thing I started as and I never want to lose sight of that. I love being in a room writing, but this tour feels really important.
It’s an amazing thing being on stage and hearing people laugh at a story you are breaking out for the first time.
I’m nervous but I’m looking forward to touring. People need to have a bit of escapism. And what better way than laugh at a big mess of an idiot onstage.
• Tickets (£22) are available online at www.villagaiety.com