Paul Merton returns to standup comedy

After an absence of 13 years, Merton will return to the stage next spring – with a little help from his improv friends

Paul Merton is to make a return to standup for the first time since 1999, Chortle reports.

Merton's new show, Out of My Head, will include standup routines by the Have I Got News for You star, alongside "sketches, music, magic, variety and dancing girls", otherwise known as Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster, all of whom Merton has performed improv-comedy with in the past.

The show is set to tour the UK next spring, but has not been officially announced, though 11 of the venues have already advertised dates. Merton will perform three warm-up gigs at the Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead later this month, all of which have already sold out.

In addition to his work on the BBC's flagship panel show and as a documentary presenter, Merton regularly performs live with the Comedy Store Players, the venue's resident improv troupe formed in 1985.

However, he came to prominence with his standup as part of the shift towards alternative comedy in the 1980s, regularly performing at the Comedy Store and the Edinburgh fringe festival. His style generally leaned towards surrealism rather than the political iconoclasm for which other alternative comedians were known.

His last standup tour in 1999, And This Is Me Paul Merton, came after a similar gap of around a decade. He later told Melvyn Bragg in an interview: "I hadn't done standup comedy for about 10 years, and it was like I'd never done it. People had no idea I'd been a standup comedian; they thought I was born to sit behind a desk and make quips about the week's news."


Matt Trueman

The GuardianTramp

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