Comedian Lee Mack confesses Southport fear
PUBLISHED: 08:33 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:08 20 February 2013
Southport comedian Lee Mack is used to sell-out audiences but stage fright keeps him from his home town. Emma Mayoh reports<br/>MAIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
Youd never catch Lee Mack on stage in Southport. The 41-year-old may adore the town he grew up in but when it comes to performing on home turf he gets stage fright.
I know its my home town and I love the place. I think its the best place in Britain. But it would be too scary, he admitted. I always get asked to go to the Southport Comedy Festival and I always turn it down.
My family would turn up and thered be people who I used to go to school with coming to watch. Theyd probably heckle me or shout out some embarrassing story from my past.
For more then ten years the star and writer of BBCs Not Going Out has carved a reputation for witty one-liners. As well as attracting a strong following on the comedy club network, he has also had The Lee Mack show on Radio 2, starred in the cult comedy series, The Mighty Boosh, and appeared as team captain on the BBC comedy panel game, Would I Lie to You.
It is possible the teacher who wrote his school report card will be feeling a little silly. Sooner or later, it read, Lee will realise that joking around will get him nowhere in life.
It could have been written in haste, perhaps after another instalment of the teenagers Bobby Ball and Eric Morecambe impressions that left his pals in fits of laughter.
Lee, born in Southport, also lived in Blackburn with his mum and dad, Christine and John, and his brother, Dave. His parents ran several pubs in Southport, Blackburn and Rochdale.
But when they separated Lee moved back to his hometown with his mum and enrolled at Stanley High School. I had a very broad Blackburn accent, I was one of the new kids and this made me stand out. I wanted to fit in.
I used to do impressions of Bobby Ball to show off. People laugh at that now but Cannon and Ball were massive so it was always a crowd pleaser. Bobby lived in Southport too.
I loved it and I decided when I was 15 it would be good to be a comedian. I didnt really know what it meant though.
Since then Lee, who now lives near Hampton Court with wife Tara and their children Arlo, five, and three-year-old Louie, has spent years finding his niche. He admits success did not happen overnight. He said he spent years doing menial jobs including fruit picking in Australia, vegetable picking in Banks and working in more bars than he cares to remember. But it was his final one that pushed him to succeed.
When one of my bosses at WH Smith said to me I cannot impress on you enough the importance of categorising the pencils, I knew I had to make a go of comedy. That was it. I thought I cant do this job, I cannot stand another second in this boring job. I just walked out.
His defiance paid off. The comedian is now a household name. He is in the early stages of discussing a new variety show in the style of his heroes Morecambe and Wise as well as doing his sell out Going Out Tour. This includes a date at Preston Guild Hall on May 17.
He decided to do the 100-plus date tour after the TV series was cancelled earlier this year. But once the tour had been set, BBC bosses decided to bring it back. His days and nights are now jam-packed with writing through the day, travelling to his next venue and then hitting the stage in the evening. There was a time he would have killed to be so busy but now he is happiest at home.
I want to be with my children. There was a time where I would have been out after the shows and really living it up. I loved every minute of it. But, call me crazy, now I get more excited about my wood-burning stove being delivered to my house.