It’s not comic licence - I really am that stupid...

Rhod Gilbert - and that tattoo
Rhod Gilbert - and that tattoo

tHE idea of a grown man having a Battenberg - yes that pink and yellow cake - tattooed on his back sounds like the punchline to a joke, but for Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert it was more the starting point for a show.

The 43-year-old comes to the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline next week with his brand new show entitled ‘The Man with the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo’ - see how it’s helped with the show.

The Fife date marks the beginning of an extensive UK tour for Rhod, following a 10-night run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The funny-man took time out from the festival to speak to the Press ahead of his gig, and to share the reason behind the Mr Blobby coloured marzipan loaf.

He said: “It was my first night last night in Edinburgh. The first one was alright, but there’s still a bit of work to do.

“The difficulty is, it’s a touring show so it’s a big two and a half hour beast of a show and in Edinburgh I’ve got an hour, so you’re trying to squeeze two and a half hours worth of material in. It’s a question of what you take out.

“Last night I took out certain stuff, but I’m not 100 per cent sure about it, so I’ll try and take out different bits of it tonight.

“It’s trying to pick what works best, but it’ll be okay by the time I get to Dunfermline because it’s the full show so I’ll just whack it all back in.”

2012 marks the 10th year Rhod has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, but he’s come a long way since his first time in the capital.

He’s excited to be back in Scotland and taking in some dates north of the border on his tour.

“It’s great, I absolutely love it,” he says.

“I can’t really say it’s different to anywhere else. When people ask if audiences are different in different places, I’ll be honest I can’t really tell the difference.

“The only difference I can sometimes tell is if I go somewhere very posh they tend to be more reserved and if you go to a right dump, it tends to be a more lively atmosphere.

“If I walked out on a stage blindfolded and no-one in the audience heckled I wouldn’t know where the hell I was.

“The lovely thing about being in Scotland is nothing about the show. It’s about staying in beautiful cottages by the coast and that side of things. We can stay in great places instead of a Travelodge in Reading.

“When we were touring up here two years ago we stayed in an enormous hunting lodge, with log fires every night, and it’s that sort of thing I love about Scotland.”

After the polite chit chat about Edinburgh, Dunfermline and Scotland in general it’s time to get down to the real nitty gritty - why Battenberg?

“I did it for a TV programme called ‘Work Experience’,” Rhod explained. “They wanted me to be a tattoo artist and they said you should have a tattoo first if you’re going to tattoo someone else.

“I said no I’m in my 40s, I don’t want one.

“They are pointless and I don’t like them.

“I said no, but they kept saying I should have one. In the end I gave in.

“I’m a petty, contrary, argumentative person so I decided if I was to have a tattoo I would have the most pointless tattoo I could think of. That was the battenberg.

“In my head at that minute I’d won that argument. Afterwards I realised they had won that argument as I had a battenberg on my back for life.

“People think it’s a character I play, but it’s not. It’s not comic licence, I am that stupid.”

So what can audiences expect from the new show?

“I think there’s plenty of ranting and raving for the people who like it, but it’s a more mellow me, looking back at what I used to be like.

“It’s a story of how I’ve changed from a ranting, raving lunatic to a more mellow guy.”

In recent years, Rhod’s popularity and career have gone from strength to strength. As well as his stand-up, he now has his own radio show on BBC Radio Wales and TV series including ‘Ask Rhod Gilbert’ and ‘Work Experience’. He’s appeared at the Royal Variety Performance and won several awards.

“The whole thing is a crazy and unexpected, privileged journey. It’s nothing like what I expected, and I didn’t expect it.

“It’s great to have the opportunities. The variety is the best thing for me, so I’m never doing one thing for very long.

“I like radio. I have a little show on Radio Wales on a Saturday morning and it’s great because they give me freedom to do what I like. I pitch up with a mate, have a banter and a laugh.

“I like stand up, don’t get me wrong, but radio is a nice way to make a living. It’s like being down the pub with your mates, just there’s a microphone in front of you.

“Eighteen months of hard work has gone into this tour, but with radio on a Saturday morning I can turn up just three minutes before it starts without preparation.”

And judging by how things are going so far, it doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping for the Welshman anytime soon.

He added: “I’m touring now right through until the end of the year.

“Next year I’ll be back to the drawing board, writing a new show and hopefully I’ll get the chance to do quite a bit of TV and radio stuff. There are a few ideas in the air at the moment, so we’ll see.”

>> Rhod Gilbert is at the Alhambra, Dunfermline, on August 29.