My Festival: Dave Johns

Newcastle’s favourite self-styled “sexy pensioner” talks lockdowns spent in his pants, bad reviews, juggling, and slo-mo combat with the late great Sean Lock.

What are you doing at this year’s festival?

I can’t believe I’ve been doing stand-up half my life, I’m 66 now, officially a pensioner. I’m from a place in Newcastle call Byker. It was a very working class area, full of families, a very nice community. Us kids all played out in the back lanes. All I can remember was lots of love and laughing. But you’re always trying to move on I guess. I’ve been a comic now for 33 years and before the film I Daniel Blake no one really knew who I was - I guess if I’d been a spy that would have been a brilliant career. So this year I’m doing the show I’ve always wanted to do. Me, a microphone and a room full of people. Just laughing, having fun. I don’t care about anything else. I did want to call my show Sexy Pensioner, but my 37 year old girlfriend said that if I did she would leave me. She thinks I’m only after her body! I am, I need one of her kidneys.

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What is your favourite place in the city?

I love the waterfront at Leith and Portobello and I love to eat at the Monster Mash Cafe. I hope it’s still there.

Who do you most like spending time with at the festival?

Back in the day it was my old pal, comic Sean Lock who sadly passed recently. We had some great times up here over the years, sharing flats together. We had this game called WAR. One of us would shout WAR and no matter where we were we would have to start fighting each other, but in slow motion, Sam Peckinpah style. Sean would punch me in slow motion and in slow motion I’d have to throw myself over a chair or a table. Then I’d get up and punch him. He’d do the same, all in slow motion. In our flat, a bar, a restaurant, a shop. It was just daft fun. I miss WAR with my pal Sean.

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How did lockdown affect you; did it change you?

Dave Johns: "sexy pensioner". Photographer: Andrew Jackson.

I found myself just standing in my pants at my front window for two years. I had never done that before and I don’t fancy doing it again. That sort of behaviour is bound to change you, I think.

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What do you remember about your first Edinburgh festival experience?

We did a show, me and a mate John, Called Vampire Girly Puffs from Sodom. I remember the review. No vampires, no girly puffs, no Sodom, just two Geordie chancers. One star, but it read like a two. Still makes me laugh.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I can’t juggle. I know! It’s nuts. It’s 2022 and I can’t juggle. Luddite.

Dave Johns: A Comic’s Tale, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 8.45pm, 16-28 August