Interview extra

Russell Howard, Russell Howard & Mum: USA Road TripOctober 7, 2016

Comedian Russell Howard takes to the road with his mum to serves up a wacky slice of American life. TV Choice caught up with him in a north London pub to hear all about their antics in Russell Howard & Mum: USA Road Trip, which include hanging out with New York’s pampered pooches and hot-rodding….

We’ve heard so much about your ‘smasher of a mum’ Ninette in your stand-up. She’s lovably eccentric! How did the series come about?
Last Christmas mum said she didn’t want to end up in an old folks home where they slap her, which was so bleak and such a depressing bucket list that I thought I’d give her lots of memories before the beatings start. When Comedy Central asked me to do a travel show, I said I’d like to go with mum. I told her we’d be two weeks. We were two months.

Russell HowardShe’s game for everything as you discover the weird and wonderful America – even learning how to escape from the boot of a car while gaffer-taped…
No matter what I put in front of mum, I loved the sheer madness that tumbled out of her mouth. At the end she told me she’d learnt something about herself. It was that one of her armpits smells more than the other.

Your adventures include meeting UFO hunters, judging a pensioners’ beauty pageant and staying in a haunted house…
I was absolutely terrified. My room was haunted by a young Irish girl who’d been jilted by her lover. I was genuinely worried I’d get molested by ectoplasm. Mum also got to try pot. She started singing the Pearl & Dean cinema music.

Your family often feature in your stand-up. Do they know what you’re going to say?
Not really, then it’s a nice surprise. 

Did you talk to your brother Daniel about including his epilepsy in your routines?
I did actually. He didn’t mind. If you’ve seen fits they’re proper medieval. I was never allowed to hit him and as an older brother that’s your right, so I had to devise things to do when he annoyed me. That was our family bump in the road and we dealt with it through comedy. He’s the life and soul of the party.

How come he didn’t go into stand-up?
Daniel doesn’t have that emotional set of problems that mean he needs strangers to laugh at him.

What did you learn about your mum while making this series?
That she keeps a hula hoop under the sofa, and when she hoovers she makes up songs which are sometimes so sad they make her cry.

You’re about to embark on a world tour. How do you cope with being away so much?
I like the itinerant lifestyle. It’s quite hard to come back to normal life afterwards.

Comedy Central, Wednesday

Natalie Dye

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