You might remember him as Young Kenny in Phoenix Nights but Justin Moorhouse is one of the north’s most prolific (and hilarious) comedians. Hailing from Manchester, Justin has been making audiences howl with laughter with his cheeky northern humour and wit for years. Now, the comedian, actor, dog walker, dad and undercover vegan (his words) is embarking on a UK wide tour of his new show, Northern Joker. I caught up with Justin to discuss his new show, being a vegan and game shows!
“It’s a show I did at the Edinburgh Fringe so it’s a brand new show, without sounding too arsey, about change and uncertainty.” “We live in an uncertain world and I live in an uncertain house – my kids are getting older, my dog is getting older, my wife has a new job so she’s never around so it’s kind of what’s become of me but it’s funny!”
My number one favourite thing is walking on stage and making people laugh. It’s brilliant, you can’t beat it
Justin brands himself as a ‘story telling comedian’ and he’s excited to present his latest life stories in Northern Joker including overcoming the stereotype of being a ‘working class northern comedian’:
“I’m a teetotal vegan – that surprises people sometimes.”
Justin is kicking his tour off at The Lowry in Salford before visiting venues across the north. Justin is a proud northerner and it’s evident he’s excited to be performing on home turf:
“I’ll tell you what’s good… getting home every night!” He laughs, “That’s great. If you work comedy clubs and you go on last you might not get home until gone midnight but this way we’re done by half nine and everyone is back for Match of the Day!”
The show got fantastic reviews in Edinburgh but more importantly for Justin was the audience reaction – something that is easier than ever to gauge thanks to social media.
“They tweet and Facebook and tell you very directly whether they enjoyed it or not.” He continues, “I’m not precious about it – sometimes people say nice things and occasionally people have a go but you know what it really doesn’t matter does it? They used to say newspapers were tomorrow’s chip paper but in this day and age of Facebook and Twitter, it’s a bit of data.
“For me, as long as audiences are laughing and they’re telling their mates to come, that’s it. Everyone is sure in comedy, they either like it or they don’t! You never see a comedian and go they’re alright. You’d never buy a ticket if someone was alright!”
Justin has obviously been doing something right though. Not only is he a fantastic comedian, Justin is also a prolific actor with roles on Coronation Street and at the Royal Exchange Theatre under his belt. I wondered if Justin, who used to be a salesman, ever imagined he’d be doing his dream job for a living?
“I never even knew you could be a comedian! People often say were you the funny one at school – all my mates were funny, I was the mouthy one who’d taken the joke too far!” He laughs, “When I found out you could be a comedian, it was like a ray of light, I thought I’m going to do this and love it. My number one favourite thing is walking on stage and making people laugh. It’s brilliant, you can’t beat it.”
I’m about to ask Justin about Phoenix Nights when his doorbell rings – it’s an Amazon delivery:
“I got a new phone and gave my daughter my old one and the same day she developed an interest in skateboarding – you can guess what happened! Fell off it, broke her phone so we’ve had it repaired but before she gets it back, she’s having a case for it – that’s what arrived!”
Phone safely encased, I think we can continue, so how was working with Peter Kay on Phoenix Nights?
“It was great! I knew Peter but I didn’t know him really well. Everyone was asking him if they could be in it but I just said to him one day ‘can I have an audition?’ and he said ‘yes you can
because you’re the first one who has asked for an audition not a part’. I was new at comedy and I thought it would be interesting to see what an audition would be like – I got the part straight away. It really helped me to be honest and I’ve never looked back.”
One of Justin’s most famous jokes is about Donald Trump’s wall being a failed DIY project – I wondered if comedy could be a playground to make comments on the political without being serious?
“Yes. I’m not overly political but life is politics, everything you do is politics. I talk about what’s going on and when you go on tour these things change all the time. Brexit is obviously on
everyone’s mind at the minute so I talk about that in the show a bit but then I talk about the daft stuff – I talk about going on holiday, how my kids are cheeky and take more money off me than they’ll ever earn in their lives and about my dog.”
I feel like now is the time to ask about possibly the most important lass in Justin’s life…
“She’s a Labrador.” He grins when I ask about his dog, “called Coco – she’s the only constant in my life! I’ve been working away this week and we had quite an emotional reunion!”
Justin is also a regular on celebrity game shows – winning Celebrity Mastermind. However, he hasn’t fared too well on Pointless and Eggheads I wondered if he was a clever lad or if it was just a fluke?
“I did Celebrity Mastermind on my own – smashed it, no problem! Then I get other people involved – team mates and don’t win – you know what I’m saying?” He laughs.
Another part of Justin’s unique character is his devotion to veganism.
“I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my adult life for ethical reasons. I think if you’re a vegetarian for ethical reasons you should be vegan really – the dairy and egg industry is crueller than the meat industry – so about a year ago I decided to go for it. It’s not as hard I thought it would be and not a big change really. I enjoy it, I feel better for it but I’m not a smug vegan – the first thing I tell you when I walk in the room is it’s only part of me – it’s not my whole thing!”
With such a down to earth attitude, a good dose of northern charm and jokes a plenty it’s no wonder people are already snapping up tickets to Justin’s show. If you want to catch Northern Joker it kicks off January 18th at The Lowry in Salford before touring the north.
Check justinmoorhouse.seetickets.com for all dates.