Tom Wrigs up a hometown gig

TOM Wrigglesworth reckons he’s not as funny as he used to be...

Which is a bit of a draw-back for a full-time comedian.

But next month he will be the only Sheffield comedian in the Grin Up North Comedy Festival apart from organiser Toby Foster.

So how come he’s not so funny any more?

“I’m not so funny now, day to day, as I was,” said 35-year-old Tom, who grew up in Totley.

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“Once you have an outlet for your stuff it’s out there and I don’t need to be funny all the time.

“To be honest I got sick of people telling me I should do stand-up so I eventually I had a go.

“I used to see people like Phil Nicholl when I was a student in Salford and started to wonder whether it would be possible for me to actually do it.”

Turned out it was.

As with his brand of comedy it’s often the small, fleeting things that make a difference. Tom Wrigglesworth’s life was changed on a train from Manchester to London.

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He sat nursing a crushing hangover when 75-year-old fellow passenger Lena Ainscow was being questioned by a ticket collector.

She had the wrong ticket and the ticket collector wanted her to pay more or get off.

Tom, through the haze of last night’s beer saw the injustice and, in a moment that will forever define his life, decided to help out.

He argued the case for Lena but the conductor or ‘train manager’ wouldn’t listen – so Tom organised a whip-round of fellow passengers to help pay for her ticket.

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The train manager called ahead to Euston Station to tell police a man was ‘begging’ on the train.

When the train arrived officers were waiting but were greeted by an angry mob of fellow passengers seething with the injustice.

He was released without charge.

Tom gained a friend for life in Lena who still brings her family to his shows and stays in touch.

He also gained an instant high profile and was featured in the Daily Mail no less for his have-a-go spirit.

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“It’s been phenomenal,” said Tom who appeared at Grin Up North two years ago and now lives in east London with his Danish wife Lulu.

“The way a small thing like that has shaped my life is a bit unreal.

“I very nearly didn’t do it at all and yet everything has changed because of it.

“If I hadn’t been so hungover I probably wouldn’t have done anything but it seemed to make sense at the time.”

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That was in 2008 and Tom got his Tom Wrigglesworth’s Open Letter To Richard Branson show out of it which led to an Edinburgh Festival award nomination and a Radio 4 show that made him a national figure.

Now he’s writing a second radio series – “I must have the face for it,” says he – and is working on a new TV series.

In another tenuous leap Tom became known as a man who likes to take things apart to see how they work.

Now he has been earmarked as ‘The new Fred Dibnah’.

He likes that.

He is currently working on a series on Massive Machines and how they are dismantled when their work is done.

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“I ended up on a course in Aberdeen for oil rig workers with these big Aberdonian riggers. I’m looking forward to that series coming out.

“I grew up watching Billy Connolly, Dave Allen, Vic and Bob and the Fast Show.

“I’m still trying to find my way in comedy really, and ‘The new Fred Dibnah’ sounds all right to me.”

This year’s show for Grin Up North is called My Nightmare Dream Wedding which is a tale of wedding preparations for his own wedding and pretty much speaks for itself, as will Tom at the City Hall at 8.30pm on October 7 and via a swift taxi at the Lescar on Sharrowvale Road at 9.30 the same night.

Derby day nerve-wracker

SOME things just aren’t funny...

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Sitting in the wrong end at a Sheffield derby match is probably one of them.

But that’s what happened to Wednesdayite comedian Tom Wrigglesworth when his Blade brother got him tickets to United v Wednesday last season.

And it might happen again next month when the Owls come to Bramall Lane.

“We were sitting among the United fans last time – it was interesting,” said Tom, whose brother David, a former Owl, was to converted to the United faith while working at Bramall Lane.

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“I’ve never done a bungee jump but I would imagine it’s about as scary.

“It’s not the goals and the major incidents that give you away. You can sort of see those coming and keep a lid on your reactions.

“It’s the 50-50s and corners and the little incidents that you react to without even thinking. We managed to get away with it though.

“We were in the family stand so it wasn’t so bad.”

Vote for festival’s best joke and win tickets

TELL us the best joke at this year’s Grin Up North Festival and you’ll be laughing – with Last Laugh Comedy Club tickets up for grabs.

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We want you to post, email, Twitter or Facebook us with your favourite jokes and we’ll share them with our readers.

We’ll publish them in the paper – or online – and get our readers to vote for their favourite. The one with most votes will get the entrant a pair of comedy club tickets. And everyone who votes will also go into a free draw to win a pair.

All you have to do is tell us the joke, the name of the comedian, the venue and date where you heard it.

It must be from this year’s month-long Sheffield Grin Up North festival, which starts tomorrow.

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Email us, with GUN Best Joke in the subject field, to [email protected], Twitter us @SheffieldStar, with hashtag #gunbestjoke, leave your entry on our Facebook page at or write to Grin Up North Best Joke, The Editor, The Star, York Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 1PU.