Star of BBC Radio 4 show Hang-Ups Tom Wrigglesworth coming to Laughing Bishops Comedy Club in Bishop's Stortford
Tom Wrigglesworth's two-year-old twins won't realise, but a comedic lecture of their life story is about to be revealed to a Bishop's Stortford audience.
The Sheffield-based comedian will be appearing at the Laughing Bishops Comedy Club at the United Reformed Church hall in Water Lane, on Saturday and is known for mining the rich vein of comedy provided by his family. The fifth series of his Radio 4 show Hang-Ups has just begun and, although the twins feature, it's his phone conversations to his mum and dad – played by actors – that have, for all five series, tickled audiences' funnybones.
"My dad is a bit of a comedic gift," said Tom, who revealed his parents were nervous initially about being gently lambasted on national radio.
"I showed them a couple of scripts and, on paper and without the audience laughing, it can seem a bit blunt," said Tom. "But a few episodes went out and people seemed to like it and my mum and dad became minor celebrities at the church, and places they go to.
"They had a fear that they would be ostracised for being weird, but they realised they were more normal than they thought," he said.
Tom, 43, worked in telecommunications and satellites for a while and revealed he used to pop in to the Birchanger services regularly on his way to Cambridge, but had never visited the town.
As a fan of stand-up he used to go to open mic events in Manchester when he was at university and people kept telling him to try it. "Eventually I thought 'I could easily be as bad as they are' and ran out of excuses."
He made his Radio 4 debut when his acclaimed 2009 Edinburgh Festival show An Open Return Letter to Richard Branson earned him four live episodes.
"It all started when I helped an old woman on a train so I sent an open letter to Richard Branson," said Tom, who revealed the Virgin founder saw the funny side of his rant, sending him a text to say "well done".
The Hang-Ups series began after Tom ruminated over how he could get the funny things his dad did on the phone into a radio show. One of those is to always answer the phone by quoting his number, but he was thrown when the dialling code was changed around 25 years ago, resulting in having the number two involved. "It took him 15 years to do so," said Tom.
Tom's long suffering mum offers many laughs. In the first episode of the current series she moans to Tom: "Life with your dad does have a touch of the Gulag about it – I keep expecting Amnesty to send me a card every anniversary!"
He rings his "granny" in the radio shows, despite sadly dying during the first series. "Granny heard the first two episodes and passed away at some point of them being aired," said Tom, who said a tribute was made to her for the last episode.
Tom has managed to avoid politics in his comedy, a fact that has had its benefits and otherwise. "So many of the stories I use happened years ago – they are not rooted in time – so it always felt right not to venture into politics."
He has only twice taken a real story from recent Sheffield events, with the first episode of the new series featuring him discussing with his mum and dad Sheffield council's plans to chop down trees in the city.
He revealed the latest series had been delayed to accommodate an Alexei Sayle series during which he had sailed close to wind in a sketch about Remembrance Day. For fear it would offend, BBC bosses decided to move the Sayle series back to September, meaning Tom's Hang-Ups was moved to this month.
So, on Saturday the story of one of the twins having a hair tourniquet and health staff advising the use of Veet hair removal, may be, for most, a welcome change to rants about Brexit. The twins will feature heavily – but there's no doubt his mum and dad will get a look in, much to the delight of Tom's fans.
The show on Saturday - hosted by Paddy Lennox and featuring Tom Wrigglesworth, Luke Toulson and Christian Reilly - starts at 8.30pm (doors open 7.30pm). Tickets £16.50 online from www.paddylennox.com. There is a cash bar and Rekha Joshi's pop-up vegan curry stall.