Jasper Carrott’s coming back to Glasgow after a 20-year absence.
And he’s got a proud record – not to mention epitaph – to protect.
“I’m really looking forward to this tour, particularly to Glasgow – I haven’t been up there for years, 1998 I think was the last time,” recalls Jasper.
“That was always the joke, wasn’t it, the English comics who’d die in Glasgow at the Empire on a Monday night.
“But I always said I’ve had some great shows in Glasgow and really enjoyed it so on my gravestone will be, ‘Jasper Carrott. Comedian. Never died in Glasgow’.
“So when I come I’m going to make sure I don’t die this time because that’ll be my claim to fame.”
You wouldn’t think it to look at him but Jasper celebrated his 74th birthday just before his tour started.
He laughs: “You must have looked that up on Wikipedia, it’s the one thing they’ve got right about me.
“I don’t know where the years have gone, I don’t think too much about it.
“I had a real serious heart thing about 18 months ago, a quadruple bypass that took me totally by surprise. I thought I was fit as a fiddle, that they were going to have to kill me with a stick.
“But the arteries had clogged up. What was annoying was that I’d had my arteries checked about five years previously and they were all clear so in just that time they’d clogged up enough for them to have to hook ’em out and put some new arteries in.
“But the cardiologist looked at the heart and said there was, ‘No heart attack, no stroke, have this operation done and you’ll live for years and years’ so I never went for a second opinion.
“I just take the statins, thank you very much and I’m just hoping for the best now but I feel fit as a fiddle and I was working all through last year with no problem at all.”
Talking to Jasper, I realised I’d been watching him on TV since I was eight, his debut An Audience With Jasper Carrott being broadcast on LWT in 1978.
“Blimey. I was 33-34 so there you go – this is my 50th year in the business and God knows where it’s gone but it’s been fantastic.
“In the early 2000s I lost my way a bit and didn’t know where I was going or what to do and I thought I needed to give stand-up a rest.
“So I thought, ‘I’ll give it 18 months’ and come back and the 18 months became 13 years and in my mind I was thinking, ‘I probably won’t be doing it again’.
“But about four years ago Bev Bevan, who’s the drummer in the Electric Light Orchestra – we met when we were 11 years old in grammar school and we’ve been best of friends ever since – said, ‘You know, we’ve never really worked together and if we’re ever going to do it we’d better start doing it now because time’s running out’.
“So we put a couple of dozen shows together featuring comedy and music which I think is still pretty original. I don’t see any other act going out that combines comedy and music in this way.
“And it was a real success. That took us both by surprise but the main thing was I started to really enjoy stand-up again. I couldn’t believe I was enjoying it so much.
“We started to do smaller venues, the 600-1,500 seaters and it took me right back to the beginning when it was eyeball-to-eyeball and stand-up was real stand-up.
“To misquote Bill Shankly, ‘On stage you can run anywhere you like but you can’t hide’.
“And I got that thrill back, that excitement and I’d never enjoyed my profession so much as I have over the last few years and I’ve never worked better.
“Also, I’m not doing the two-and-a-half hours I used to do because you can’t laugh out loud for two-and-a-half hours, it’s physically impossible.
“With this show I do two half-hours and I can go for the jugular right from the off. I come on and I go ‘Wham’ and you can laugh out loud for half-an-hour and then Bev’s band comes on so you have a rest.
“Then I go back on and do another half-hour and then there’s more music and I get involved with that for the finale.
“I’ve always had a guitar on stage. When I did An Audience With the joke was for I’d have the guitar round my neck and never play it, it was sort of a trademark.
“But that came from the folk clubs. There was myself, Billy Connolly, Max Boyce, Mike Harding – we developed that raconteur style of comedy through the folk clubs and of course music was an integral part of it and I’ve always kept it in.
“Gradually the comedy bits between the songs got longer and we were fortunate. We were in the right place at the right time.
“When An Audience With Jasper Carrott came out I had the field to myself because Billy couldn’t do television because of the language problem and Max was very Welsh so he tended to do stuff in Wales but not on national television.
“I’ve been very fortunate and I’m having the time of my life, I really am.”
Jasper Carrott’s Stand Up And Rock UK tour visits Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on Sunday March 24. For information and tickets visit jaspercarrott.com