If you’d have wandered into one of the capital’s bigger nightclubs in the early 1990s, you may well have spotted comic, presenter and Radio 4 staple Marcus Brigstocke throwing his own inimitable shapes on the dance podium as happy hardcore boomed over the PA.

“I worked the podia for a number of years,” he laughs, his voice pitched at an awkward meeting point somewhere between nervousness and pride.

“I was going out clubbing two or three nights a week at the time and on one occasion, somebody talent-spotted me and asked me to get up on the podium to dance. Afterwards they said ‘Can you come back next week?’, and I ended up doing it for two years.

“But it’s important to point out to anyone coming to Spamalot expecting big things where dancing’s concerned, that this was quite a long time ago…”

Brigstocke left the pounding beats and darkened rooms behind him to launch a career that’s seen him become one of the most articulate, intelligent voices in comedy. But after years of facing down hecklers and bringing his considerable wit to Radio 4’s The Now Show, he faces the infinitely more daunting prospect of singing in public as King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot musical.

“I have an absolutely pathological fear of singing and if you start to convince yourself you can’t sing, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“When they offered me this part I told them I’d give my right arm – or both arms – to do it because it’s Monty Python, but I had to say I’d have some singing lessons before I let them know. I said to my singing teacher – look, should I do this? Am I being an idiot here?”

Mercifully for both Brigstocke and his intended Brighton audience, the lessons have gone well. The former drama student is still a little alarmed he might “punch [Spamalot’s Lady In The Lake and I’d Do Anything contestant] Jodie Prenger’s jaw off”, but he seems delightedly surprised at his progress.

“I’m having the time of my life, but in a really scary way. Who wouldn’t want to stand opposite the Knights Who Say Ni as they ask for a shrubbery? It’s amazing.”

Few comics haven’t spent their teenage years digesting a diet of concentrated Python, and Brigstocke is no exception.

He brims over with excitement at the prospect of doing some press with Eric Idle (who plays God in the show via a big screen), and is at pains to point out Spamalot is a celebration of the Monty Python legacy rather than sacreligious cash cow.

Some of Brigstocke’s own Python-groomed teenage years were spent in Sussex; he went to Westbourne House School, near Chichester. Now a father of two, he says he doesn’t plan to send his own children to boarding school.

“School was really a bit of a disaster for me … or I was a disaster for school. I don’t think it was the right thing for me. I had some problems as a kid and I suppose I was pretty screwed up – I was in rehab by the time I was 17.”

Brigstocke has long been frank about the treatment for an eating disorder and drug and alcohol addictions he underwent as a teenager but rather refreshingly, he never comes across like a comic milking the “tears of a clown” narrative. “In a way I was lucky to get into that state when I was 17 and then have the rest of my life ahead of me.

I sometimes wonder what I’d be like as a drunk comic [Brigstocke is now alcohol-free]. I know some comics whose performances are enhanced by some booze, and for others a lot of booze, while others have used substances to enhance their confidence, but I’ve never had any particular desire to do that. I don’t think coke makes you funnier, and spliff is such an ambition killer I don’t think I’d ever write another joke again.”

Brigstocke’s energy today is poured into snowboarding (last year he launched comedy and ski festival Altitude in France), and a career that takes him from cable channel Dave’s flagship show Argumental to his own I’ve Never Seen Star Wars programme via topical comedy radio programme The Now Show. He’s a passionate follower of politics and was vocal in his support of Caroline Lucas’s (ultimately successful) bid for Brighton Pavilion, and staged a benefit gig earlier this year with comedy chums Russell Howard, Alistair McGowan and Mark Steele at Theatre Royal Brighton.

“I was careful to point out that I don’t live in Brighton – so it’s effectively none of my business, but I’ve watched a lot of politicians’ careers with interest and she’s done a blinding job representing this country in Europe.

“We’re the last nation in Europe to have elected any Green MPs, so it was one big shiny ray of light in an otherwise dark and gloomy election period.”

He says he has “unfairly high” expectations of Lucas now she has a seat in the Commons but in the meantime he has an agenda of his very own.

“I’m a bit paranoid at the moment, because I told a friend I was doing Spamalot and he kind of turned his nose up at it. I really want people to cast aside any doubts they might have about it because this really is a celebration of Python – it’s not sacrilege. If it was, I wouldn’t do it because there’s no one more geeky than I am about it.”

* Spamalot will be at Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday until Saturday, June 26.

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