IT’S not all over for TV comic Lee Hurst. The cheeky chappie with the bald head is back on the road after a 10-year break and loving it. His current 25-date Men V Women tour comes to an end at Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre on Thursday April 26 but then he plunges straight into preparing for a second tour in the autumn. He admitted: “It is slightly confusing and messing with my head. I am performing one show but thinking about the other.”
East End lad Lee, 49, quit the BBC sports panel game They Think It’s All Over in 1998 after six series following a row with producers. He concentrated on running his own Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green, later re-launched as the FymFygBar. But the club has been closed since December 2010 while lawyers unscrambled contracts when its original re-developer went bust. In a crazy move, Lee has taken over the job. The club has since been pulled down and is being replaced by a seven-storey hotel block. Lee hopes to have work completed and the club reopened with a bigger bar by December. He bought the freehold in 1997 and ran his club on the ground floor from 1998. Hotel chain Travelodge is taking the rest of the new building.
Lee said: “It is amazing to watch. It has completely demystified building for me. But at the same time, I have never owed so much money to anyone in my life.” The project – led by Shane Rowe of Canterbury construction firm the Roger Wenn Partnership – is costing £6 million. Lee admitted: “With the club closed I needed something else to do. I have the attention span of a gnat so I decided to see what it was like on the circuit again. I started in October and it has gone so well I am doing a second tour in September called Too Scared To Leave The House.”
The current tour, as the name suggests, is about the differences between the sexes. Lee said: “I have always believed women are aliens from another planet. We are just so different.” He opens up the second half to questions and has been stunned by the response. He said: “I’d actually written notes for the second half but lost them on a bus two weeks before the start in Derby. I had been planning to get a man and a woman up from the audience and was in a bit of a panic. So I decided to have questions in the second half for an experiment. It went down an absolute storm. I have been deluged. There have been some great questions. It has been a hoot.”
He added: “Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read them all on stage but I have been saving them. They are too good to throw away.” So far, the one question which made him stop in his tracks was from a woman who asked: “Where does a man put his b***s when riding a bike?” Lee admitted: “I had to think about that one. In fact, I’m still not really sure of the answer!”
- Lee Hurst, Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre, Thursday April 26, 7.30pm. Tickets £15 from www.gulbenkiantheatre.co.uk or 01227 769075. For more details, and photos of his club being rebuilt, visit www.leehurst.com
Lee Hurst is no stranger to controversy. In 2009 he was charged with criminal damage after destroying a mobile phone on stage at Guildford after a member of the audience allegedly started filming him. Lee also hates going to the cinema when people talk, make a noise eating or forget to turn mobile phones off. He said: “I am planning cinema nights in the new club but I won’t allow mobile phones. They will be turned off by staff and sealed in plastic bags so they can’t be used inside the building.”
He has also been dogged by ill-health, suffering from alopecia which made him bald, painful arthritis and most recently a foot condition called planta faciitis since taking up running again. Last year he had to cancel a show in Chatham when a bad attack of asthma confined him to bed. In 2005 he was arrested outside Sheppey Hospital after threatening to kill himself with a drugs overdose if doctors did not give better care to his dying father. His mother still lives on Sheppey. The family stayed at Little Groves caravan park, Leysdown during Lee’s childhood summer holidays.