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Interview with Justin Moorhouse
Justin Moorhouse
Justin Moorhouse (a.k.a. Phoenix Night's Young Kenny) talks exclusively to Pride Of Manchester during his 'Difficult Second Tour'.
16th May 2006

You may have seen him as Young Kenny of tiger striped fame in Channel 4's Phoenix Nights and Max & Paddy. You may have heard his gravel-voiced banter on his award-winning radio show on Manchester's Key 103 fm. Maybe you saw him on the BBC's Live Floor Show, on Paramount's The World Stands-Up or presenting Granada's Talk of the Town.
After a break from the live circuit, Justin is taking to the road again to indulge in his first love - live stand-up - in this, his hotly-anticipated second solo tour. Tickets for the first tour sold out in record time - don't miss the opportunity to see local boy done good, Justin in his second solo stand-up show as it comes to a venue near you
. Today we were delighted to interview Justin before he did one of his radio shows at Key 103. Pride of Manchester's Rob asked the questions.


Pride Of Manchester: Great show at the Dancehouse on Saturday night! How do you think your tour is going so far?

Justin on Key 103
Justin Moorhouse: "It's going alright! Every show will be different 'cause of the way I do them. I might even come on in a dressing gown. I'll do different things each night, so the public can come back and see another show then. I wanna put a show on rather than do an hour of stand-up."
You have an unusual style, more like a compere than stand up, do you prefer it that way?
"I do enjoy it that way. I don't want to be big headed about it, but I would like to be the kind of comedian that Billy Connolly is, rather than the kind of comedian that Jack Dee is. I feel comfortable now going on stage. I have a list of things I want to talk about and whatever comes up on the night will work. I try to make it loose and more organic. I have found that the best nights are when I don't have to think about getting it out. I get so bored with the material and jokes I have got. Sick of saying things like, "I love Gregs me!". I dont enjoy it as much. I just wanna enjoy it, as the more fun I have on stage, the more fun I can give back to the audience."
You've called it the 'Difficult Second' Tour so are you expecting a rough ride with this one?
"No, it was just an idea. Like a band releasing their 'second difficult album'."
Justin's latest tour - The Difficult Second Tour

So it's a 20 night tour? Next up is Bradford on Friday?

"Yeah it's 20 now and then I am doing 20 nights more in October and November. I didn't do Bradford last time on tour, I did Leeds instead, but I have done Bradford loads of times before."

Do you have to adjust or tone down your act depending on where you are playing or the situation?

"No I don't think, not much, as I don't think I say anything too offensive. I certainly don't have a Muslim set or Hindu set. There's no cartoons in this show."

You are doing Liverpool last, any reason for this? Expecting much banter from the Scouse audience?

"It's to fit in with the Summer festival. You get a bit of banter but I tend to tone it down a bit when I go there. It's good doing comedy in Liverpool. They are always well up for it. I always like going there. It makes you realise that Liverpool and Manchester are exactly the same - two shit cities at either end of the motorway. I wouldn't bother going there if I had a problem with it. A lot of it is just due to the football."
I am pleased to hear you're a Red, you get to go to Old Trafford much?
Young Kenny

"Yeah, I am a season ticket holder. Me and my boy go. Sat in the North Stand last year but next season we have executive tickets. There's a reason for doing it though, I can charge them to the company and get the VAT back!"

So how did you feel having to wear a city top in Phoenix Nights?
"It was actually my choice. They asked me if I wanted to wear a United top, I said, No f***ing way, I am not playing an idiot living in the middle of Bolton wearing a United shirt!"
So what do you think of Glazer and FC United?
"I started supporting FC United and I made a donation at the beginning, and I did the first game for them, but, I don't know really, I am a United fan so it's difficult. I cannot not support Manchester United, that's my team!"
Suranne and Justin performing together in Snow White at the Opera House

You're doing Panto at the Opera House at the end of the year, looking forward to it?

"Yeah, it's my third one - I did a little one at the Lowry at Easter and I've done the Hippodrome. I am playing a character called Muddles in Snow White, I am not a dwarf. It's like all pantomimes have a comedy character like Buttons, and in this one it's Muddles. Kids find the same things funny like adults do. I love doing different things and panto is one of them."
We saw you at the Opera House last year at the charity night you put on. It was superb, would you say it was one of the biggest highlights of your career so far?
"Yeah, it was a funny one really as it didn't feel like a gig, it felt more like I was doing something, it was a good show. Mick Miller was brilliant. Somebody asked me whether he was supporting me for my show but for a) he wouldn't and b) I wouldn't want to follow him. It was a bit tight on Alfie Joey who had to follow him. Alfie is a great lad, he's supporting me on all of my tour."
Do you get a chance to watch other comedians live?
Justin and Mick at the charity do at the Opera House

"I do but it spoils comedy for me really. I like impro. I like people like Ross Noble, comedy where you don't know what's coming next. Ross is doing the Opera House for five or six nights this year! I know, it's mad isn't it? ,That's what I'll be doing from now on, my own shows, rather than clubs because I am busy enough on the radio and busy enough doing things I wanna do. I would like to do like 20 dates at the beginning of the year and 20 dates at the end of the year, and do that every year. You can build up a reputation doing that. I have done no PR or publicity in Leeds but last time I did a good show there which was probably the highlight of the tour and already this year, Leeds has sold loads of tickets because of the last performance."

How are ticket sales going generally for your tour?

"Overall, sort of better than I expected. Preston on Thursday, we only sold about 50 tickets, so I was sh**ting myself as it was a big room, but on the night itself, it sold out. It sounds stupid, but it's not about making money, it's about getting yourself out there and the more you do, the more people come back, then you can make money eventually."

Phoenix NightsJustin recreating the Lion King look at a charity gig

You probably became most famous after doing Phoenix nights. How did you get the role in the first place?

"Auditioned. I had met Peter (Kay) beforehand, but I didn't know him. I had sort of met him on the circuit a few times so I asked him whether I could audition so I went down and everything went alright. I didn't know at the time but that was like a catalyst for everything that has come since. It was really early in my career after only a year in stand-up that I got the part. I thought I will take six weeks off to do it and then really hammer the clubs, then whilst we were filming it, I won the City Life Comedian of the Year, and then on that night, the Comedy Store approached me and said they would like to manage me, and that was six years now, so it's definitely been worth it."
So the tiger make-up? Did it take longer to put the make-up on before shooting, or longer to get it off afterwards?
"It took longer to put it on. The first day we did it, it took about half-an-hour but I didn't realise that for every day for the next six weeks, about 42 times, they had to use a photograph of the first time it had been put on so that they could match it every time, so it took about an hour every day, and then it took about 30 seconds to wash off. The bit where I am washing my face in the episode where it won't come off, that was the worse day. It was latex. I had to put latex on first, then put the make up on, then latex it all, about five or six layers, so I had to keep doing that, "IT WONT COME OFF, IT WON'T COME OFF!", and I was getting really annoyed, so in the end I spat the water over the mirror as I knew they wouldn't get me to do another take. Originally the make-up was going to be a panda I think, but then there were more jokes with the tiger. I knew it would work as it had never been done before. It was quite surreal."
Any more plans for TV? Justin pondering how he could get a part on Q.I.Billy Connolly is a comedian Justin admires greatly!
"I have done a bit but I don't think I will do anymore as it's like a day's work or two day's work. It's fine but I have a full time job on the radio and I've signed up for three years now."
What do you enjoy watching on the telly?
"I really like 'League of Gentlemen', 'Early Doors', I love 'The Office' and I loved 'Extras' even more. I thought the idea was fantastic, really good. The older comedies - I'm well into 'Rising Damp' that was my favourite, I'm into 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet', 'The Good Life', Ronnie Barker stuff, 'Bless This House'. I just like comedy. I would rather sit down and have a laugh rather than watch a horror film. I like 'Friends', I love 'Malcolm In The Middle', 'Everyone Loves Raymond' is fantastic, just brilliant. Not enough people watch that. I've bought all of them. I like Steve Coogan. There's not much I don't like. I'm not into the newer comedies like 'Green Wing' or 'Green, Green Grass' or anything with Green in it. I didn't like Greengrass in Heartbeat."
You said earlier on that Billy Connolly was someone you wanted to be like, was he one of your biggest inspirations when first starting out?
"Yeah, I have always enjoyed everything that he does. I just think that he's really talented. I love the tours that he does. I'm quite in to different places, local history and that sort of thing, I like genuine people. I like Les Dawson. Coming from a different angle, I like Fred Dibnah as well. People that can enthuse about something that is important to them."
I think your comedy is ideal for programmes like 'Q.I.', 'Have I Got News For You' and 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks', ever been approached to go any of these shows?
"No, can you get me on one? I want to go on Q.I, Stephen Fry is a legend!"
Justin at the Lowry in 2005
So what does the future hold for you - any burning ambitions?
"I wanna write a song, not a comedy one. Graeme Park who is on Key 103 has got the beat. I want a number one hit. I reckon I can do it as he's got the beat and I've got the lyrics. I start writing for Dave (Spikey) next week for '8 out of 10 cats' so I am doing that for eight or nine weeks. After my Stockport and Leeds' dates, I am going away on holiday for two weeks and then I am going to start writing next year's tour. I want to write my own thing whether it be radio or television, like a series. I want to create a world and put people in it. I would like to write more plays. I would like to write a play for stage, a comedy drama. I would like to write monologues. I would like to do more writing and I would like to see how far it can all go for me."
Any tips for us on who is going to be the next big thing?
"There's a lad called Dan Nightingale who is really good."
Justin's favourite Manchester band, New Order
Remembering the good old days when Frankie Stapleton scored a late goal against the scousers
Eric the King
Justin's favourite Manchester building - St James' building on Oxford Street
Justin likes a good curry in Rusholme
Key 103 will always be Justin's favourite
Favourite thing about Manchester?
"One favourite thing about Manchester? St Ann's Square."
Favourite Manchester Band?
"It's hard picking one. Ok, you can pick a few then. No, no, I like the challenge.....New Order."
Favourite Bar/Pub in Manchester?
"Can I have two for this? In the Summer, 'The White Lion' sat outside, and in the Winter, next door, 'The Ox'."
Favourite Restaurant in Manchester?
"There's too many. You could go for a curry house but that's easy isn't it? or you could go for a chinese but that's easy. If I had to go somewhere, like right now, it would be Picolinos."
Favourite United game you've been to? The obvious one (European Cup final in '99)?

"No, I didn't go, I was in Glossop that night. I would pick the game around 1985, you'll have to check the facts for me, but we beat Liverpool 1-0 with a late goal in front of the Stretford End. It was my little brother's first game and he was about 9, and when we scored, we lost him. He went from the top of the barriers right down. It was just his face afterwards. With it being his first game, I just knew how he felt when he walked up the steps for the first time and saw the green grass and saw the size of the stadium. That for me, taking my little brother, was my favourite game." For the record it was the 1983/84 season, United 1 Liverpool 0 (Frank Stapleton scored a late goal)

Favourite current United player?
"Wes Brown. He's a Manchester lad and he's a fan. I also like Heinze because he's solid. I like Alan Smith too because of the effort he puts in, and I like Louis Saha. I like a load of them."
Favourite all time United player?
"It has to be Eric."
Favourite Theatre in Manchester?
"The Opera House. It's a great building, the history, great location, just a proper theatre."
Favourite Building in Manchester?
"St James' building on Oxford Street. Just because it was where I first worked when I was 16." So what do you think of the new Beetham Tower then? I don't like it to be honest, it looks like it is going to fall over at the back, no it's not nice is it?
Favourite Northern TV Comedy?
"League of Gentlemen."
Cold Feet or Queer As Folk?
"I never saw neither. Sunday night dramas, I just can't stand 'em."
Chinatown or Rusholme ?
"Rusholme. I use to live near there at Victoria Park."
....and finally, what do you think of your rival radio station, XFM?
"No comment...I was going to go on it, I got offered the breakfast show but I decided not to do it. No, I think it is good. It's all good for us. Competition is good. Hopefully they will take some listeners off Radio 1 which is what they are suppose to do."
Thanks Justin for taking the time out from your busy schedule to talk to Pride Of Manchester.
This interview is 2006 Pride Of Manchester & Justin Moorhouse

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