Manchester funny man Stephen Bailey is set to make his solo stand-up debut at the Lowry on Wednesday night.
The Denton-born comic is fresh from supporting acerbic Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan on her sell-out UK tour – the pair played to a 1700 strong Lyric theatre audience on Friday to rave reviews.
Stephen, who now resides and gigs in London, told MM that the prospect of pleasing his home crowd was rather daunting, despite being delighted to be back on home turf.
— Stephen Bailey (@stephencomedy) March 15, 2016
“I’ve supported Katherine’s whole tour and all the theatres have been about the same size as the Lowry,” he said.
“So it wasn’t the size that was scary, I was just thinking, ‘oh God, imagine if I die in front of 1700 people at home’.
“If I bomb in Northampton, I’m not going to Northampton often so I don’t care!”
Stephen’s concerns were unfounded though, as he has since received a series of glowing reviews for his performance.
And he said that he enjoyed the chance to let loose with some of his ‘earthier’ material, which may not get such a good reception down South.
“Friday’s show was great because I went out there with local material,” he said.
“I think northerners have a more salt of the earth sense of humour – you can say anything and if it’s funny they’ll laugh.
“Sometimes in London they want it to be political and you have to be making a point, but in the north they just want you to be funny.
“They don’t care what the topic is, just be funny.
— Stephen Bailey (@stephencomedy) March 13, 2016
“I went out in Gay Village after the gig and I got spotted at a urinal. They recognised my balls!”
The fast-talking funnyman has gone professional after two smash-hit Edinburgh Festival appearances and a nomination for best show at the Amused Moose Comedy Awards.
But despite having more notoriety on the London scene, he insists that Manchester will always be home.
“I started gigging in London, so I’m more on the London circuit than Manchester at the moment,” he said.
“But Manchester will always be home, it’s where all my stories come from.
“I do a lot more gigs up here now.
“At first I never gigged up here because it’s quite a closed circuit and it’s hard to break in if you don’t start here.
“So what I had to do was go to London, be good in London and then get a couple of credits so that Manchester, my own home, finally welcomed me in.
“It only took four years!”
Stephen admitted that he draws on his Manchester upbringing as a rich source for his comedy, after growing up in a working class family on a council estate in Denton.
Being retrospective doesn’t stop him from using contemporary influences though.
— Stephen Bailey (@stephencomedy) March 12, 2016
“On Friday I talked about the new fine you get if you’re caught swearing on Salford Quays,” he said.
“I made everyone shout out their favourite swear word – let’s see if they can fine 1701 people!
“We were just brought up to be ourselves here – there are no airs and graces in Manchester, you’re just you, inadvertently we were all taught be yourself.
“I feel like growing up Manc has meant that there’s never any pretence with me, you either like me or you don’t.
“In the industry up here I think you’re rewarded for being yourself, whereas in London you get asked stupid questions like ‘what’s your unique selling point?’
“I’m a comedian and I’m funny but they’re not convinced being funny is unique enough.”
Stephen is gaining attention on the comedy circuit for his biting wit and lascivious humour but he believes he’s got something for everyone.
“I think I appeal to everyone… but the people that want to come are ladies and gays and then the straight men get dragged along by their girlfriends but they end up really liking it,” he said.
“I think when I walk onto stage in a dickie bow and a bright suit some of the men are like ‘ugh I’m not into this’, but then they relax into it!
“My dirty jokes have universal appeal.
— Stephen Bailey (@stephencomedy) March 12, 2016
“You can only be a prude if you’ve never had sex!
“If you’re dating or if you sleep with your wife, or you’ve got four kids then I can tell you about a man sending me a picture of his penis because we’ve all been there!
“A few times, down south, people look at me all shocked when I say certain things but it’s nothing that we wouldn’t all say to each other over a jug of Woo Woo in Wetherspoons!”
The Denton native is keen to be recognised for his universal comedic appeal and not to be pigeonholed for his sexuality.
“I tick all sorts of boxes,” he said.
“I don’t just tick the box for ‘gay man’, there’s more to me than that.
“I have a degree in French, I’m a black belt in Taekwondo, I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my Tinder age is 24, and I’m a good friend and son.
“People seem to want you to be just one thing and I’m more than that.”
You can see Stephen at The Lowry on Wednesday March 15.
Image courtesy of Stephen Bailey, via Twitter, with thanks