He was in the in the middle of the tour when theatres had to close due to the lockdown.
“The tour was called Healing The Nation – so that title worked out well! It will turn out to be the longest tour ever, taking three years to complete.”
But the point is that there is still healing to be done. When he started it, we were still dealing with the divisions of Brexit; now we are emerging from a pandemic.
And absolutely the pandemic is fair game for comedians. As Andy says, in a way things come full circle. The pandemic is definitely not a subject to be avoided when you take to the stage.
“Where there is fear or pain or worry or suffering I do think it is easier to get through if you can find the humour and if you can get a laugh. Somehow it helps you to cope with it better.
“I remember (back in March 2020) Boris Johnson was making a statement and then everything was shutting down and it was just the whole scale of it. And we had no idea how long it would last. And it was terrible. I think we are still seeing the psychological scarring. Every time a class gets sent home from school I go into cold sweat! I had to cope with the home schooling and all that. At the time I had a two-year-old and an eight-year-old and I had to do maths with one while the other one was chucking paint around. But there were some good moments. There was one week where my son got online star of the week for his maths. It is good to know that I am still capable of doing maths to the level of an eight-year-old! So yes it was really tough but I think at the time we were just really grateful to be getting through it.”
Which makes it all the more lovely to be back on the road: “But there are still a lot of theatres that have not come back. I definitely lost two or three from the tour that have not come back yet and may never come back but I’ve managed to get through most of the tour now. I’ve only got five left of the rescheduled gigs which was about 35 so I’m getting there.”
Inevitably the show has had to change. As Andy says the things he would have been talking about back in 2020 are pretty much irrelevant now given so much has happened since: “I’ve had to put a new show together in fact and now I’m just looking forward to putting Healing The Nation to bed at last and moving on to something else! Back when I started it, the whole idea of Healing The Nation was going to be mocking the idea that my comedy was going to be some kind of balm for the nation and it was a response to all that was going on at the time, where we were in the country. But now people are definitely coming back to theatres and are really happy to be able to resume their lives and I think there is a greater appreciation. Those things that we get so used to I think we do forget just what a privilege they are and then suddenly we don’t have them. Those things that we weren’t able to have during lockdown, we just realised how important they were, and the whole experience just gave us a different perspective on everything, on mental health, on how we cope.
“I got involved in a loneliness campaign just before lockdown. Loneliness was a massive problem well before the pandemic. I really think we have built up a big problem and we will just have to see what happens. There are suggestions that the lockdowns were more severe than they needed to be and later than they should have been. I think these are things that we will all just have to work out.”
Tickets from the venue
Have you read: Downton Abbey - those all important Sussex connections
Have you read: Hastings panto announced
Have you read: Exploring the great joys of the South Downs Way