Greg Davies: Wem's jolly giant

PUBLISHED: 16:07 12 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:20 20 February 2013

Greg Davies: Wem's jolly giant

Greg Davies: Wem's jolly giant

Star of the Inbetweeners, a regular TV panelist and a stand-up of renown... Greg Davies, Wem's most famous son, has the showbiz world at his rather large feet. We spoke to him ahead of his sold out visit to Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn

The breakout star of the Inbetweeners, a regular TV panelist and a stand-up of renown GregDavies, Wems most famous son, has the showbiz world at his rather large feet. We spoke to him ahead of his sold out visit to Shrewsburys Theatre Severn...

One of the countys proudest exports, and still a regular at his old stomping grounds in and around Wem, Greg Daviess career is soaring heavenwards.

Reliving past experiences seems to be the secret to the funnymans success. His last stand-up show, the fantastically titled Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog, took a wry look back at his early days growing up in the small north Shropshire town of Wem, exposing the hilarious foibles and follies of his upbringing.

If you look at my last show, it seems like I grew up in an insane asylum with all the bonkers stories that I tell about my family in Shropshire, Davies laughs. But in actuality, there was a lot of really boring stuff, a lot of time spent with me doing my homework and my mum making us tea.
New stand-up tour, the equally barmy sounding The Back of My Mums Head, which plays out to the length and breadth of the country as well as a couple of Irish stops, is a move away from his youth, taking in anecdotes from his time as a teacher and beyond.

Firing Cheeseballs was very parent centric I spoke an awful lot about them and brought them into all my stories and jokes, he continues. But I guess Ive now arrived at the realisation that Im an adult and I have to stand on my own two feet. Im now a grownup, which, given that Im 44, is worrying to only now realise.

Wem is a small town but theres a rich collection of characters that made growing up all that funnier, and that built the spine of my last show. But I have to cast my net a bit wider for Mums Head.

I left Wem when I was 19 years ofage; Ive a few more characters to draw on a 13-year teaching career for starters, but countless holiday fiascos and disasters. And then my career as a stand-up comedian however long that will last hopefully at least to the end of thistour.

And one of the big realisations ofadulthood that Ive discovered is theres no such thing as a normal person. You reach a certain age and realise theres no-one who displays consistently normality or average behaviour, whatever that is. Were all unique, and most of us a little peculiar at the same time!

So whats with the title then?
Well, simply, there was a picture taken of mum and myself standing on a beach. Shed turned around to look out to sea. Given her hairstyle, the photo made it look like I was standing beside a giant microphone. That just made me laugh out loud.

And thats actually my mum in the promotional poster for the tour, although granted we had to get the photo professionally taken up some hill in the Midlands. I actually went past a tube station the other day and there was a 4ft poster of the back of her head. Shes now famous countrywide but in a slightly skewed direction.

Despite the blatant family bonds, it must be difficult to get back to Wem with his burgeoning success? Im definitely busier but I certainly get back to Gods country as often as I can, at least once a month.

It goes beyond family with my family. Im not going home out of obligation theyre like my friends that I have hilarious times with. Getting home is a nice therapy for me, plus the time spent there away from distractions can help me when it comes to tweaking the act.

For true clarity, of course, The Castle pub (Wems oldest pub) is still the spot Ill venture out to. It was where I learned to drink, that all-important of life lessons. Theres a corner where we all sat as teenagers where we went to drink school. Its still there. And often, so am I.

Davies has never been so busy, but his Inbetweeners character, the psychotic headmaster Mr Gilbert, remains his most enduring character to date.

Is the reaction on the streets of Wem akin to the rest of the country periodic shouts of GILBERT and giggles?
Its probably the only place in the UK where that doesnt happen, really ever. Plus, Id know who it was straight away; thered be no getting away with that.

But elsewhere in the country, in any crowded place, without fail, its very common to hear GILBERT and look out on a sea of heads cast down in fear, he says, with a telling smirk.

It happens all the time, but, you know, Im so proud of that character. He was an incredibly important part of my career so they can keep on shouting Gilbert for the rest of my life and Ill be happy!

After the success of the TV series and the subsequent Inbetweeners movie, which grossed 45 million, writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris have confirmed a sequel is already in the pipeline.
It seems Greg wont be escaping Gilberts shadow just yet; but he will also be reaching new audiences through a series of projects in the coming months.

The BBC3 project Cuckoo, with Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg, has seen the towering comedian play an overprotective father, enraged by his daughters hasty nuptials to an American freeloading drifter. Its been a critical sensation.

Then theres his autobiographical sitcom, Man Down, drawing upon over a decade of experiences as a teacher who hates his job. Its like looking at the lost years of my life, when I was a teacher, floating along in limbo. Its an exaggerated version of a period in my life when I felt like a lost soul. New panel series, I Love My Country, hosted by David Walliams with Davies and Frank Skinner as team captains, also has instant hit written all over it. This giant of comedy is riding a wave of adulation, living in the fast lane...but quiet Wem will always be home.

Greg Davies nationwide stand-up tour The Back Of My Mums Head takes in Shrewsburys Theatre Severn on November 25 (sold out) with a return visit on February 24.

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