This spring, Simon Evans is touring with his show The Work of the Devil, with upcoming dates including Haverhill Arts Centre on 4th March and The Old Market in Brighton on 11th March. The Work of the Devil was originally called Dressing for Dinner and was first performed in 2019 at Edinburgh Festival. Simon has been involved with BBC Radio 4 for a number of years, most recently with the new series Unsafe Space, and previous work includes Simon Evans Goes to Market and The News Quiz. From 1998 to 2002, Simon was the writer and host of The Way It Is, once again airing on BBC Radio 4, working alongside Tracy-Ann Oberman. Having worked on a number of other projects over his career so far, Simon hosts Headliners on GB News and writes for the BBC One sitcom Not Going Out. We talked to Simon about his ongoing tour The Work of the Devil, his new BBC Radio 4 series Unsafe Space and hosting Headliners on GB News.
Can you tell us about your current tour The Work of the Devil and how did the idea come about?
The Work of the Devil is a show about extraordinary revelations that came to me in October 2018. That’s all I can say without spoilers. Trust me, it’s worth it!
What can audiences expect from the show and who do you think it will appeal to?
This is a show that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good laugh, and especially if they also have a family but have sometimes wondered if they might be an alien.
What has the show been like to work on so far and how different are you finding this tour to your previous shows?
This has been my favourite show to tour by far – it is incredibly invigorating and revitalising. It has a much more satisfying emotional arc than previous shows.
The Work of the Devil was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2019 under the name Dressing for Dinner, what was it like seeing the audience response and how has the show changed over time?
It’s always a slow process and not easy to see what is happening from one night to the next, but the show is twice as long now so it must have changed a bit.
You are taking the show to venues such as The Old Market in Brighton on 11th March and Aylesbury Waterside Studio on 2nd June, do you have a favourite aspect of travelling the country with your comedy?
To be brutally honest, if I could do the job without touring anymore, I would. I don’t trust anyone over 30 who says they enjoy motorways and railway stations. But I am immensely grateful that people still come to see me and I am willing to make the effort for them!
On BBC Radio 4, you are part of their new series Unsafe Space, can you tell us about this?
It’s a brave attempt to go against the grain of Radio 4 comedy and the wider consensus on certain “culture wars” issues, and hear a few new voices. I have found it very rewarding!
You have recorded six series of your own BBC Radio 4 show Simon Evans Goes to Market, what was this like to work on?
Very satisfying, I am very proud of these shows. They are still on BBC Sounds and, I believe, still popular. Making economics fun was a very worthwhile challenge.
What do you enjoy most about being involved with The News Quiz, which is also on BBC Radio 4?
It’s a great show with a grand tradition. I met my hero, Alan Coren, though working on this show.
What are some of your favourite memories from working on The Way It Is from 1998 to 2002 as the writer and host?
The Way It Is had great camaraderie, we had to write the show from sketch every week based on the news (though with recurring characters) and it was very adrenalising.
You have been a guest on shows such as University Challenge: The Professionals, Celebrity Mastermind and BBC Question Time, how is it filming as a guest on shows like these?
Three very different shows. But I enjoyed all of them. I did notice how different my two experiences on BBCQT were, one in Bury St Edmunds where I felt very much at home and one in Warrington where I felt the audience were much less trusting of me!
How do you find the experience hosting Headliners on GB News?
Great – again, very quick turnaround and live TV is very exciting. I enjoy the challenge and I think we have a great team and make a fun, zippy hour of topical comment.
We understand you are a writer for the TV sitcom Not Going Out, what is this like?
Great honour. Lee Mack has achieved something very special, sustaining that level of comedy on a sitcom for so many years.
What are some of your favourite highlights from your comedy career so far, which has included your debut DVD Simon Evans: Live at the Theatre Royal?
The DVD shoot was great. Live at the Apollo etc too. But most of my favourite gigs have been smaller, usually a local comedy club with a great regular crowd and a really good compere. When the thing unexpectedly lifts. And becomes joyful.
Where does your love of comedy come from and what inspired you to take it up professionally?
My first inspirations were in print – Douglas Adams, Alan Coren, Woody Allen. I tried to be a writer too. Then I found that doing it live gave me a kind of extreme sports buzz that I didn’t get anywhere else. On a good night it still does.
Do you have any favourite comedians or comedy shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love character comedian Joanna Neary and also the wonderful Andy Askins.
At home I listen to music and read and write! And, of course, drink. I am currently making my 47th attempt to get fit. I hope to run a 12-minute 3K by Easter and then build from that to a 20-minute 5K by Christmas.
Follow Simon on: