Paul Mayhew-Archer, co-writer of BBC hit comedy The Vicar Of Dibley, is bringing his show about living with Parkinson’s, ‘Incurable Optimist’, to Louth Riverhead Theatre on Friday as part of a UK tour, and is urging everyone to enjoy a night of top comedy while raising money for a good cause.
Paul said that The Vicar of Dibley was an “absolute joy” to work on and that he was thrilled with Dawn French's performance as she is just “so naturally funny”:
"We didn't expect it to become so popular,” Paul recalled, “I always hoped it would be a hit. It was obvious that Geraldine was a good person, but we wanted to show that she had flaws – good flaws of course, like not being able to say no, which is how she ended up eating four Christmas dinners.”
He also recalled watching the BBC countdown of Britain’s Best Sitcom in 2004 and Vicar of Dibley came in third:
"I just couldn’t believe it, when we got into the top 10 and we weren’t mentioned I thought that was it, but we were number three, I actually fell off the sofa.”
Paul also appeared on Mrs Brown's Boys, which he said was fantastic because star and writer Brendan O’Carroll was so funny:
"He is just so funny and inventive and I loved inventing new storylines with him,” he said.
Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011, and despite the serious nature of the condition, Paul was determined to see the lighter side and started writing jokes about it, with appearances at the Royal Albert Hall and The Comedy Store and in 2015, made an award-winning documentary called Parkinson’s – The Funny Side.
And now he is out on tour, aiming to not only raise awareness of Parkinson’s but much-needed funds as well.
“Doing the show has done me the world of good,” Paul said, “You wouldn't think an incurable illness would be funny, but you can find the humour in these things – one of my Parkinson’s symptoms is excessive drooling so I thought I’d call my one-man show “From Dibley to Dribbly”. My wife Julie vetoed that idea so it is called “Incurable Optimist”.
Paul said he is very much looking forward to coming to Louth.
He said: “I really want people to come and see the show – it's not just for people who have Parkinson's, it's for everybody and although the evening is all about an incurable disease, it's not a depressing show at all.”
Paul is not taking a fee for his show and all ticket sales will be going to Louth & District's branch of Parkinson's UK.
Lesley Swift, president of the Louth & District Branch of Parkinson’s UK, said: “We would like to thank Paul for giving up his time to not only raise awareness of the condition, but for also raising much-needed funds for our group.
“Many of us loved watching the Vicar of Dibley and we can’t wait to see his entertaining show when he brings it to Louth in December."
Tickets are £22, and can be booked online at www.louthriverheadtheatre.com or call 01507 600350.