Greg Davies: interview

Greg Davies Greg Davies - © Rob Greig
Posted: Thu Nov 11 2010

Greg Davies, 'We Are Klang' star and Mr Gilbert in 'The Inbetweeners', was once a real teacher. He gives Time Out some lines.

Although you've been performing as a comedian for over eight years, 'Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog' is your first solo show. Why has it taken you so long?
'The short answer is that it was a combination of being too busy with other things and extreme cowardice. I always knew I'd do one eventually, because until you've done a solo show in Edinburgh you don't really feel like proper comedian. But what with Klang and The Inbetweeners, I've been very busy. I was probably too busy this year as well, frankly, but my agent forced me to do it. I'm glad though, because it's been great.'

Although you've done Edinburgh several times before with Klang, were you more nervous performing on your own?
'Yeah, petrified. The amount of work, sweat, fear and narcissism that goes into it is exhausting. It's such an intense thing to do. You get lost in the Edinburgh bubble and we all convince ourselves that it's more important than it actually is - the rest of the country doesn't give a shit, really. But at the same time, everybody who goes up there puts their necks on the line.'

Although packed with jokes, at heart it's actually a very personal show about your family…
'It did turn out that way in the end but I didn't plan it that way. The truth is, I only talked about my mum being ill so I could get to the shit the bed story. My dad and I howled with laughter about that incident. He is without doubt the funniest human being I've ever met, and I refuse to believe I'll ever meet anyone funnier. I'm slightly biased, obviously, but to this day no one can make me laugh like he does. I think it's a bit too late for his comedy career to take off so I'm spreading the word on his behalf.'

You were a drama teacher before you went in to comedy…
'Yeah, although I don't remember how that happened, exactly. It was always the plan to do comedy right from primary school, when I first worked out I could talk a load of bollocks and make people laugh. But then I did a drama degree and, suddenly I'd been a teacher for 13 years. One day I woke up, had an early mid-life crisis and decided it all had to change. I went and did Logan Murray's comedy course for 11 weeks and then started sneakily doing open-spot gigs, and that was it.'

Did you miss teaching when you left it behind?
'Not for a second. That's not to say that it's not a great and noble profession. I had some of the best times of my life during those years and I met some of the most amazing, and bizarre people, but, the truth was I just didn't want to do it, so it became a little soul-destroying.'

It's ironic then that you're probably best known for playing Mr Gilbert in 'The Inbetweeners'…
'Yeah, I know. Fucking ridiculous. Although, I was nothing like him when I was teaching. I always wanted to be one of those fierce, wonderful, disciplinarian sadists with that God-given ability to inspire respect and shut a room up just by walking in, but I could only control the children by essentially going mental or by making them laugh - which is not great behaviour if you're a teacher, but luckily is perfectly acceptable if you're a comedian.'