INTERVIEWING Josh Widdicombe – acclaimed stand up, serial panellist and star of shows including The Last Leg, Hypothetical and his own sitcom Josh – means a chance to tackle the big questions.

So here’s one of those questions – Josh, what’s the biggest misconception people have about the county of Devon?

Widdicombe – a proud Devonian and Plymouth Argyle fan – laughs and ponders. “The biggest misconceptions people have about Devon? I think that it’s far away is one. It’s only two hours away from London, people talk like it’s Alabama.” In some ways, he says, the stereotypes about the south-west being the back of beyond are way out of date. “Exeter has an Apple store. Let’s be very clear about that. On the other side of the coin, I did go to a school where there were four people in my year. I did live in a village where there was one post office, and it’s now closed down.”

Gigs in Exeter and Plymouth (“it feels like a homecoming”) are among the highlights for Widdicombe of his upcoming UK tour. It’s his first in a while – whereas the early days saw him packing his diary with stand-up dates like any other aspiring comic looking to make their name, it’s been a couple of years now since he’s been regularly working live, and he’s enthusiastic about getting back into the habit.

“For the first time since I started doing stand up, I had some time off,” he explains, “and I absolutely needed it. I’d been doing stand up for eight years, and I’d kind of forgotten why I was doing it and why I enjoyed it.”

Now he’s rediscovered his love of the art form, and wants to make the new show a distillation of the very best he’s capable of. “I wanted to do the best ‘pure me’ stand up show, and see if I could do 80 minutes that was just – “unremitting” is probably the wrong word,” he laughs. “But I like the idea of a show being almost relentless. I think when you watch Michael McIntyre, it feels relentless.”

What that has meant is a laser-like focus on eliminating mediocrity, dumping any joke that doesn’t come up to scratch before he takes the show out on the road. “In the warm ups if I’m not loving anything, I just drop it straight away. You know that Marie Kondo woman who says get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy? I think that’s a really good way of writing a stand-up show. It’s like getting rid of the album tracks.” So if it was a record, everything that’s left would be good enough to be released as a single? “That’s what the aim is.”

While he’s focused on quality control, Widdicombe isn’t reinventing himself on this tour – if you like what he does, then rest assured that’s what you’re going to get. Premium quality observational comedy, served up with an incredible eye for detail and an inexhaustible capacity for indignation. Don’t expect him to be banging on about Trump or Brexit – Widdicombe’s much more exercised by the smaller things in life, the everyday annoyances that drive us all to distraction.

“That’s what makes me laugh, do you know what I mean? It’s different strokes for different folks, but I’d much rather watch Frank Skinner or Sean Lock than I’d watch a highly politicised hour of stand up, just because that’s what I’m into really.”

Is it more difficult, playing these big theatres than the comedy clubs where you started out? “Oh, it’s a lot more fun these days,” he says. “The absurdity of stand up is that when you start you’re at your worst, and the gigs are the toughest! It’s just gets easier, because you’ve got people that want to come and see you now, and you know what you’re doing. That first two years, it’s about getting over that.”

So now that he’s made it, what kind of glamorous life does a touring comedy star enjoy? According to Widdicombe, there’s precious little excess and debauchery. “It’s a lot of sitting in a car with my tour manager and the support. Let me put it this way – last time on tour, the most extreme it got was we would have a running five pound wager on what the next band playing on Radio X would be.”

Josh Widdicombe’s UK tour Bit Much… arrives at the Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Saturday, November 9. For tickets see