Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin back with Brighton, Portsmouth and Worthing dates

It’s a sign that things are very much getting back to normal.

Paul Zerdin
Paul Zerdin

Paul Zerdin, the British comic who has mesmerised audiences around the world with his ventriloquism skills and who took the America’s Got Talent crown in 2015, has embarked on a 45-date UK tour this autumn.

Presented by ebp, Paul Zerdin – Hands Free will see the puppet master, accompanied by his puppet playmates Sam, Baby and Albert, performing at theatres around the UK.

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The only difference is that this autumn tour should have been his spring tour.

“And that’s good that it is now. I prefer touring in the autumn. I love autumn. It is my favourite time of the year and it is lovely, with the leaves changing, to be travelling around the country again.”

He is playing Brighton Komedia on September 22, Portsmouth New Theatre Royal on October 1 and Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre on November 1.

Paul is confident: “I have been to a few shows in the West End and they have been rammed. There is a real need to be entertained out there, and I think that is great.

“Bookings generally on the touring front across the board are a bit slow, but I don’t think that is anything to do with people not wanting to sit next to people in a theatre. I think it is more that they are concerned about committing to winter shows.”

People inevitably are going to be booking late, waiting until the week of the show to get their tickets, Paul predicts – and he believes we are going to be a nation of last-minute bookers, at least until Christmas probably. And then things should get back to normal.

“I think people are very quick to forget. To forget even this, I think. If you go out and about as I do, you see it. I have been working in Blackpool all summer and you would hardly know that there is anything going on. You see only the odd person wearing a mask. People are desperate to get back to the way they were.”

Paul doesn’t imagine he is going to be particularly changed by what we have all been through: “I love doing this. I can’t really imagine myself doing anything else, and having been on stage all summer, I have just loved it. And from a creative point of view, my creative juices have never been flowing so much. I had the time to think.

“The first six months of the year were devastating. I didn’t earn a penny. That was a big worry, but the flipside was that I had more time to write and to think and to create content, and for me, in the longer term, that will work out very well.

“And I have really loved being back on stage. The reaction from the audiences has been terrific, people coming up and saying ‘Oh my God, it is so good to be back in a live venue!’ and ‘We have really missed this!’ For a while people are going to be overly appreciative. But I do think that will all soon be forgotten.”

And arguably, some people haven’t taken it on board nearly enough.

“I work out virtually every day in my local gym. As soon as the gyms reopened, I was in the gym every day. It helps my mental state. I am there constantly thinking of jokes.

“But you see people coming out of the loos not having washed their hands, and it is just disgusting. People can be so disgusting. It really doesn’t surprise me that we have had a pandemic. It is no wonder that it has spread like wildfire.

“Some people are so disgusting. I have always had sanitiser in my pocket and always been a bit careful, but the amount of people that you see that just don’t care is really shocking.”

Paul will always wear a mask in the service stations he frequents on his travels up and down the country – and as he says, he would expect people to treat him the way he treats them in that respect: “But in the service stations, you see so few people wearing masks that you would have no idea that there has been a pandemic going on.”