Comedian Justin Moorhouse - Looking back in laughter

Janet Reeder discovers why comic Justin Moorhouse is sold on doing stand-up

Perhaps it is the old skills honed as a salesman but even talking to Justin Moorhouse over the phone is a delight he’s a northern darling.

The reason for the call is that he’s doing a home gig at the Opera House this month a kind of ‘greatest hits’ with an extended version of his latest Edinburgh show The Boiled Egg on The Beach included in the programme. ‘It’s about the best thing I ever saw on a beach when I was a kid on holiday,’  he explains.

‘I don’t want to give too much away. But it IS about a bald egg on a beach. Everything was different then. We give our kids more than we ever had ourselves. When I was a kid we’d drive off on holiday to Cornwall, Torquay, Devon, (very exotic) and we’d set off at three in the morning, so we’d get there, what? A few hours earlier. What’s the point? Or we’d leave Hyde for Cornwall going via London. If anyone says it was much better when you were young, they’re wrong. It  was rubbish.’

It’s this sort of affectionate flights of fancy humour that has won him lots of fans - and some of them aren’t even from the north - it’s those people he does it for though, those who come out on a dark autumn night willing to listen and to laugh, which they do.

‘I know where I stand in the critic’s pantheon,’ Justin explains.‘I try not to be too bothered about reviews because for every good one you get there’s another one that’s bad. My review is really the audience. That’s the best review you can get. I had a great time up in Edinburgh and great feedback - and not one of the audience came up and gave me a critique of the show.’

The early years were a bit different.

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‘I used to do this character called Derek from Ashton and it was rubbish and I absolutely died in front of a 1000 strong audience in Nottingham on millennium eve. This bloke stood up and said: "Do us all a favour and just leave it" but because I was in character I had to answer back.

Somebody came up to me and said it was the greatest night of their lives - and I’d destroyed it. I found myself driving back home on the eve of the millennium alone in my car, with fireworks going off in the distance. It was completely miserable.’

Justin was brought up in Hyde, lived in Denton and now shares a home with his partner and two children aged 15 and seven in Stockport. He doesn’t mind revealing about the age gap ‘two different mums’.  And thankfully he’s busy. His CV includes TV shows like Phoenix Nights, a regular slot on Key 103 and other stuff like the script he’s’ currently writing for Radio 4, he says that performing is why he got into comedy in the first place.

‘I’m a stand-up comedian and that’s what I’ll carry on doing even if everything else dries up,’

‘I may do all these other things, TV radio, but a stand-up is what I am.’He learned the hard way in the comedy clubs of Manchester, which he still plays today; thankfully escaping his ‘boring’ salesman job which he says just wasn’t for him.

 ‘I didn’t start stand-up until I was 29,’ he says.‘ I was living in Denton at the time and had an ordinary job, then one day I went to see some comedy at the Frog and Bucket in Manchester and wondered  "how do you do this?" which was the start of everything. That was 20 years ago, more because I’ve been doing this professionally now for 10 and I love it.

‘If you go to work every day and enjoy it you’ve made it haven’t you? Sales was just not for me, I was never happy with it.’

Aside from his job he spends time in the city, likes a drink in the Northern in the Northern Quarter and driving out to country pubs for a meal. His friends include people he’s known since he was young and stars like Jason Manford, John Bishop, Steve Edge and Jimmy Carr.

‘Yes it’s a laugh a minute. Non-stop jokes all night when we go out,’     he... jokes.‘There’s a clich� about comedians being miserable, there’s something about spending your time trying to make people laugh. To be honest I’m a miserable git when I’m in the house.’

But it is the humour from ordinary life that really makes him laugh.‘Like my nan the other day. You know" she said " I was 18 before I saw the sea, 34 before I knew what a lesbian was and now your mam is cooking lasagne for Sunday lunch. The world’s gone mad.’Justin Moorhouse is at the opera house on October 8 for more details and tickets ring 0871 977 3802 or visit

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